Android through the ages: the history of Google’s smartphone OS

In the beginning there was Cupcake

2008, when pinch-to-zoom was a right reserved for iPhones and BlackBerrys were still the business, a new kind of smartphone hit the scene: the Android smartphone. 

Starting at version 1.5 for public consumption, Android was launched on the HTC Dream (known as the T-Mobile G1 in the US), a QWERTY keyboard-packing slider phone. Based on a modified version of Linux, Android offered something very different to the iPhone: freedom.

Android 1.5 screen shots

An open source Cupcake

Unlike iOS’s heavily policed, locked-down operating system, Android arrived with the promise of open source everything. Google made access to the Android Market (now called the Google Play Store) freely available, and users could even customize their home screens with widgets, offering in-app functionality from said home screen, no app opening needed.

With Android 1.5, codenamed Cupcake, a new way was born. 

Android 1.6: Donut

Is it an albatross? Is it a jumbo jet? No! It’s the Dell Streak!

Version 1.6 of Android, Doughnut was announced in 2009, and it’s the update we have to blame for today’s giant phones that don’t quite fit in normal-sized pockets.

While Android tablets hadn’t quite taken off by this point, Donut was a step ahead, laying the foundations for the ‘phablet’, and introducing support for more screen sizes than Cupcake.

Big screens ahoy!

The aforementioned 5-inch Dell Streak, for example, despite being small by today’s standards, was a veritable beast when it was launched, and it owed its big screen to advances Donut introduced. 

Other innovative features introduced in Android 1.6 included a text-to-speech engine, universal search and a more complete battery usage screen, so you knew which apps were draining your smartphone dry.

Android 2.0: Eclair

Android 2.0 Eclair

Who knew there was ever a time when you couldn’t have multiple Google accounts on your Android smartphone? We did! 

Eclair, named for the choux pastry French patisserie staple, remedied account limitations and more.

Multi-touch me

But multiple accounts wasn’t the highlight feature of Android 2.0 – oh no. Eclair finally introduced multi-touch to smartphones that weren’t made by Apple (although that created  something of a hoo-ha in itself.)

Take a picture, open it up, pinch to zoom… Android and iOS were in a two-horse race now, and Android was catching up.

Eclair also introduced Google Maps navigation, as well as additional camera modes, live wallpapers and Bluetooth 2.1 support.

Android 2.2: Froyo

Froyo, aka frozen yoghurt, is confectionary number four, and Android version 2.2. Loaded up on classic phones like the Samsung Galaxy S2 and the HTC Incredible S, it marked the point at which Android hardware started to feel more premium, finally doing justice to the OS inside – from Super AMOLED screens bettering the LCDs of iPhones through to excellent industrial design from the likes of HTC.

Get some Froyo on that hotspot

Version 2.2 also introduced a feature that could make Android phones more attractive than iPhones for the everyday user – Froyo’s most practical highlight was most definitely mobile Wi-Fi hotspotting.

While Windows phones had Bluetooth and USB hotspot tools before, the idea of using high-speed Wi-Fi tethering to share your phone’s (then blazingly fast) 3G data with a laptop or even another smartphone was vindication for Android fans the world over.

Apple would take a full year to get the feature onto iPhones, with many carriers still blocking iPhone tethering for some time to come. 

Android 2.3: Gingerbread

Android 2.3 gingerbread

Android Gingerbread didn’t get a new look or feel compared to Froyo, but it did get a host of new features, including support for new sensors, including NFC. Other highlights included internet calling and a new download manager – but none of those were our highlights.

Copy, paste, catch up with Apple

Oh no – our highlight was the seemingly rudimentary and long-overdue copy and paste feature that was giving iPhones the text-editing edge over Androids for over a year: single word selection. 

Before Gingerbread, Android copying was clumsy, given the fact that only entire text boxes could be selected. 2010 saw Google closing the gap, with a long press over a word selecting just that word, and displaying a pop-up menu that included copy and paste options, just like we have on Android phones today. 

Android 3.0: Honeycomb

Remember the Motorola Xoom? No, not the Microsoft Zune – we’re talking about the Motorola tablet that introduced Google’s tablet version of Android, codenamed Honeycomb.

The most striking difference between it and any version of Android we'd seen before was the interface. Introducing ‘Holographic’ UI elements, Google went a bit Tron here – all illuminated lines, gradient halo highlights around objects – and while it didn’t look timeless, it did look cool.

On-screen navigation, the shape of things to come...

Android phones today seldom sport hardware navigation buttons; that’s to say, the back, home and recent apps buttons are in a navigation bar at the bottom of the screen on the biggest phones out now – the Google Pixel 3, Samsung Galaxy S9 and Huawei Mate 20 for example.

Funnily enough, we don’t have a mobile OS to thank for this – it was first introduced in Honeycomb, with the back, home and recent apps buttons displayed in the bottom-left of the home screen.

Android 4.0: Ice Cream Sandwich

Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich

So long physical buttons, hello unified Android typeface!

Ice Cream Sandwich was probably one of the richest updates Android has seen. Available on the Galaxy Nexus and HTC One X, it brought an excellent in-gallery photo editor to the table, as well as a data limiter within the settings. 

The whole look and feel was refined, in line with Honeycomb’s design direction, and it delivered a much richer experience than Android 2.3..

Swipe to dismiss

In hindsight, probably the most pervasive feature introduced in this version was the swipe to dismiss gesture. 

While it had been used by other smartphone manufacturers before, getting Android users comfortable with this little swipe gesture ensured its rise to ubiquity.

Swipe to dismiss interaction has since, for example, shaped email and text message handling, influenced Windows 10’s touchscreen notification management, and is a fundamental component of everyone’s favorite dating app, Tinder.

Android 4.1: Jelly Bean

Android 4.1 jelly bean

Jelly Bean was a tale of three parts: 4.1, 4.2 and 4.3.

4.1 was all about refinements. It took Ice Cream Sandwich and made it smoother, introduced improved support for multiple languages, and automatically resized widgets to fit your home screen.

Android 4.2 was a further refinement, this time polishing the look and feel, making for an excellent-looking tablet UI, showcased well on the Nexus 10, complete with Miracast wireless display projection support.

The final episode – Return of the Jelly Bean, if you will – was a corker for developers, giving them tools to improve UI smoothness, use the latest version of Bluetooth and restrict profiles on devices with multiple user accounts – handy for parents and businesses alike. 

Expandable notifications

Our Jelly Bean highlight? Dragging down with two fingers for expanded notifications. This feature gave users a peak into the details of their most recent updates. So, if your notification read '3 new tweets', a two-finger drag down would expand the notification and showcase who those tweets were from, with a snippet of the message itself. 

Simple, and still in Android today. 

Android 4.4: KitKat

Android 4.4 Kitkat

Emojis on the Google Keyboard, lower RAM requirements paving the way for budget Android phones, and NFC security being bumped up to help make mobile payments a reality – all this and more was loaded inside the Android 4.4 KitKat update.

'Okay Google, will this ever catch on?'

But it was Google Now becoming a voice assistant that blazed the trail for today’s world of talkative phone assistants and smart speakers.

The always-on microphone and 'OK Google' command were introduced alongside KitKat in October 2013, harnessing the power of Google Search.

It paved the way for Apple's Siri, set to follow in June 2014, and the two-horse mobile OS race was about to splinter into separate smartphone and a voice assistant contests, with Google making the early running.

Android 5.0: Lollipop

Android 5.0 Lollipop

Material Design, Google’s flatter interface that features fewer gradients and a cleaner look than Jelly Bean, debuted on Android 5.0. 

Support for 64-bit architecture was also introduced, helping Android achieve near-parity with desktop operating systems when it came to power potential, as was improved notification handling on lock screens.

Setting the scene for wearables

But the hidden gem within Android Lollipop was support for Bluetooth LE, or low energy. 

This feature meant that wearable technology could finally exist without draining your phone’s battery dry. With lower battery demands, Bluetooth LE also enabled manufacturers to create smartwatches and fitness trackers with low-capacity batteries, small enough to fit inside a device that looked good and which could be worn comfortably. 

Android 6.0: Marshmallow

Android 6.0 Marshmallow

Launching on the Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P, these Marshmallow devices introduced USB-C ports and fingerprint scanners to the Nexus line.

As for the software, app security was tightened up with element-specific permissions prompting users to grant access to apps that needed to use things like their camera, phone etc.

Android 6.0 also supported MicroSD card integration into internal storage - handy for phones with under 16GB storage, though this feature has since been removed.

Doze mode

For a second time in a row, a battery saving feature is our Android highlight.

If you left your Marshmallow phone unplugged and stationary for a period of time with the screen off, apps go into standby and Doze mode is activated

This saved battery power and cemented Android as the operating system to go for if you wanted the battery edge, with Android hardware packing higher capacity batteries than iPhones, and its software optimised to take advantage of them.

Android 7.0: Nougat

Android 7.0 Nougat

Quick app switching by double-tapping the recent apps key, gender and race-specific emojis, separate home and lock screen wallpapers… Android Nougat made things both more functional and more attractive, but it also borrowed something from Samsung.

Split-screen multitasking

Having introduced split-screen multitasking on its Note line, Samsung was ahead of the curve. Google lifted the experience, and made it part of stock Android 7 over a year later, allowing one half of the screen to be used for one app, and the other half for another.

Google did do some cool stuff with the feature – Android 7 offered split-screen handling of two Chrome tabs for example, and even supported dragging and dropping of an image file across tabs. 

Android 8.0: Oreo

Android 8.0 Oreo

Shiny new battery menus and notification dots on app icons – Android Oreo brought with it a slew of refinements to the UI, not to mention better storage management, with a new file browser and more granular storage control within the settings.

Floating videos are cool, right?

But the highlight feature everybody wanted, and never ended up using when it launched, was picture-in-picture, another feature introduced by Samsung and later adopted by Google for stock Android. 

This little floating video window showcases a video in your UI, so you can get on with Twitter scrolling without having to stop watching your favorite show.

While initially it was awkward to activate and, frankly, a bit useless, now it’s reaching fruition, with apps like Netflix, WhatsApp and YouTube having adopted support for it.

Android 9.0: Pie

Android 9.0 Pie

We’re finally all caught up. Google’s 2018/19 build of Android, Android 9.0, aka Pie, is the freshest version shipping on the latest and greatest hardware, including the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL.

Loaded up with notch support, improved battery smarts and a revamped UI, complete with iPhone X-esque navigations, Android Pie is gearing Google smartphones up for their impending all-screen, bezel-free futures.

A side serving of social responsibility 

Digital Wellbeing is a suite of services available in Beta right now as part of the Android P update. Including elements like a dashboard to help you better understand your app usage, it’s all about using your phone a bit less, or at least a bit more mindfully.

Additional tools range from app limiters through to a grayscale mode to give your eyes a break, as well as a wind-down feature, to help you disconnect at the end of a working day. 

With Google having iterated over 14 versions of Android, servicing more than two billion users, it’s a fitting conclusion to the current chapter that the big G has shifted focus to Digital Wellbeing, given the operating system’s vast reach.

Q is for… ?

But what about the shape of things to come? Android 10 will likely drop in the second half of 2019, and we already know it’s coming to the new Essential Phone.

As for its name, the distinct lack of confectionaries beginning with the letter ‘Q’ is keeping everyone guessing. Keep checking in with TechRadar throughout 2019 for the latest updates on Android Q, and to find out more about Pie, read our Android 9.0 overview

  • Brought to you in association with Nokia and Android One, helping you to make more of your smartphone. You can learn more about the new Nokia 7.1 here, and you'll find more great advice on getting the most from your phone here. 
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Google reassures two-year support for Android One phones after guarantee is removed from website

Google reassures the public that it's not changing its commitments with software updates for Android One devices, though we do have our doubts.

The post Google reassures two-year support for Android One phones after guarantee is removed from website appeared first on Pocketnow.

9 New Year’s resolutions smartphone manufacturers should make

Some of you may be working on your 2019 resolutions. Want to try being vegan for a month, start doing to the gym again or stop stealing from the stationery cupboard at work because it's all getting a bit out of hand? Good for you.

But, as we all know - hand on heart - giant companies are citizens too. According to the 14th amendment, corporations are afforded some of the protections of personhood. So why shouldn't they have to make some New Year's resolutions too?

Here are the 2019 resolutions the smartphone giants should adopt. For their phones. For us. And for the world. Amen.

Stop assuming we can spend half our income on phones

One of the scariest developments in phones over 2018 was the flirting with the $1000/£1000 price boundary. Heck, Apple even sailed right across it with the iPhone XS Max.

How about we get real, and realize that most of us can't, don't want to, or really shouldn't, spend this much on a phone? Sadly, this one is likely to happen as your pledge to go to the gym four times a week, every week.

The latest news suggests we'll see even more expensive phones next year, with 5G models reportedly commanding a $300 premium over this year's priciest phones. 

For those willing to spend that much we ask: how fast do you need to stream YouTube videos, exactly?

Bring back the headphone jack (what did it ever do to you?)

Changes in mobile phone tech usually get us a bit excited. But the whole "ditch the headphone jack" thing? There's not much to excite there.

And why is it happening? You can make water resistant phones with headphone jacks, last time we checked those sockets don't cost $100 in parts, and claims phones can no longer fit them in seem deeply suspicious when the things didn't suddenly get smaller when jack sockets were wrenched out.

Some lobbyists from big headphone must have some dirt on the big phone-makers or something. Saying that, most phone-makers now make wireless earphones or headphones too. 

You won, we all bought wireless sets. Can we just have the jack back now?

Get over this glass obsession

For the past two years, phone makers have nailed glass designs. We've seen matte ones, super curvy ones. There are even phones, like the Google Pixel 3 XL, that you could mistake for aluminium from a distance.

It's time for an intervention. Phone companies need to get over this glass obsession in 2019.

Let's not just roll back onto the familiar combination of aluminium and plastic, though. There are other options out there in the world. The obvious one, as tried and tested as glass or plastic, is magnesium.

There are magnesium alloy tablets and laptops. And this metal is tougher and lighter than aluminium. And unlike glass it won't smash if you drop it on the sidewalk from the wrong angle.

Expandable storage for all

Phone developers can act like annoying live-in parents sometimes. Bear with us on this one.

Don't use something for a while and they quietly file it away into the bin while you're not looking. It happened to IR blasters, now headphone jacks and microSD card slots are in the great cleaner-upper's targets.

Granted, a lot of phones now have lots of storage. But with a half dozen flavors of apocalypse looming, you'll want a good amount of local content stored, loads of storage space and a solar charger handy. Well, unless we manage to scorch the sky, but a stack of 90s club classics and every episode of Friends won't get you too far then anyway.

Bring back the headphone jack. Bring back the microSD slot. The IR blaster can stay in the past, though.

Get over the notch obsession

We're over 18 months into the era of the notch. And phones like the Pixel 3 XL prove maybe it is time for something new. Or old, like no notch at all.

Remember when phones didn't have miniature trunks hanging down from the top of their screens? A half-desperate way to convince us our last phone was out-of-date and in need of a cab to eBay, or the dusty drawer in the spare room? 

Notches make it seem like your screen is bigger without actually making it more useful, as movies, games and articles don't flow around those lines.

But what will we actually get in 2019? The notch will still be around, but top phones will also use punch holes, which are like notches just large enough to fit around the front camera.

Don't forget security

Here's one for the Android phone makers. Android security updates are like taking a ten-minute meditation during busy weeks or forcing yourself to do exercise. You might not feel the difference from missing it once, but you'll be much better off in the long run if you stick to the plan.

Google releases monthly security updates for the Android platform. And how many phones actually get them? Hardly any, not regularly at any rate. Without these updates your mobile is more vulnerable.

Some phones are barely updated after launch, in any fashion. It's time to shape up. We do have to give a prop or two to Sony here, though. Often when we return to a Sony phone to write a feature, there are often a half-dozen updates to trawl through.

Discover camera enlightenment beyond 12MP

For years almost every top phone camera has used a 12MP sensor, usually one made by Sony. Sure, we know this approach works, and increasing resolution adds its own issues, caused by a shrinking of sensor pixels that reduces how much light a sensor gets to make up each pixel in the image.

But it's now time for phone-makers to give up the burdens of 2018 and follow their 2019 bliss, as Gwyneth Paltrow might say when not trying to sell you an avocado enema.

It looks like this progress will happen in 2019 too. And once again it's mostly thanks to Sony. In July it revealed the IMX586, a 48MP sensor for phones.

To the camera traditionalist, this sounds like a bad idea. Tiny sensor pixels means bad low-light performance and dynamic range. However, we're in the era of computational photography, which effectively lets a phone bunch together several of these pixels to boost performance when light isn't perfect.

It'd likely take 12MP images, until you switch on the "Pro" mode and force the full-res capture, which could work brilliantly on a sunny day. And we can't wait to see what the big smartphone names do with it.

Cheap phones deserve color too

Remember a few years ago, roughly 45 years in smartphone terms, during good old days of Nokia Lumia phones? Bright and colorful they were. So cheery they'd put a smile on your face just to look at the cute little palm sized things. What happened to fun, affordable phones? 

Today just about the only phone that brings some of that bold color to the party is the iPhone XR. And if you think that's affordable, you're wrong.

Phone-makers are now pros at making sub-$200 phones seem like ones that would have cost $600 or more a few years ago. But it's time to bring the fun back with some bold shades that don't try to look like the equivalent a TV host's shiny suit. 

Make it bold, make it pastel if you like. Just don't make it all-black.

Use bigger batteries, please (again)

This resolution turns up every year. We still want phones that last longer, between charges. Break it down honestly and you'll probably find this is more useful than 5G, more useful than a slightly better camera or a phone that folds.

Oddly enough, it seems some phone makers actually listened to this one in 2018, and ended up making some real bruisers in the budget category like the Moto G6 Play. A phone that lasts longer is much easier to live with.

It's not necessarily about being able to spend four extra hours poring over Instagram and Twitter, but having the extra juice so you can forget about the thing, without worrying whether it'll have enough power left for some Spotify on the way home. 

The big names in phones need to swallow their engineering pride and let a phone get slightly thicker for reasons other than fitting in a crazy camera or some new hardware most will barely use.

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Google in 2018: a retrospective

These days, it’s impossible to look anywhere in the tech world without seeing Google’s fingerprints. This was definitely still true throughout 2018 – even Microsoft conceded to Chrome’s web browser dominance

However, with all the news that’s constantly flying around the internet about Google, it can be hard to pinpoint the year’s most pivotal moments. That’s why we’ve decided to dive into Google’s biggest moves throughout 2018 – with a bit of a look at the future, as well.

Google in 2018

Project Fi: all the networks

It was only a matter of time before Google launched its own cellular service – it’s been running Google Fiber, an internet service provider, in select cities for years now. Google Project Fi has technically been running since way back in 2015, but it blew up in a big way this past year. 

The way Project Fi works is that you’ll basically pay a flat $20 (about £15, AU$28) a month for all your regular cellular activities, like talking and texting. Then, you’re charged an extra $10 (about £8, AU$14) a month for each gigabyte of data you use. Heavy data users might notice that this would get expensive very fast, but Google put a cap on users’ bills in January, ensuring that users don’t have to pay more than $80 (about £62, AU$113) in a month.

It’s also reliable, as it essentially borrows signal from traditional carrier’s cell towers, like Sprint, T-Mobile and others. 

One of the things that has been holding Project Fi back over the last couple years has been the lack of compatible smartphones. Which is why it was such great news when, in November 2018, Project Fi opened up compatibility with Samsung and OnePlus smartphones – oh, and iPhones, too

Google in 2018

But, what about Google Fuchsia?

We’ve been on the edge of our seats anticipating Google Fuchsia for years now, and, well, it’s still not out yet. That doesn’t mean we didn’t get closer to a possible release date for the one OS to unite them all. 

Right at the beginning of the year, Google was testing the experimental OS on the Google Pixelbook, with a build that anyone could download and run. It was definitely an early version of the operating system, but it did give users an idea of what Fuchsia would look like, should it ever release. 

But, things kind of got complicated from there. Back in July, we got a report that Google was on track to launch Google Fuchsia within the next five years. But, there was a catch: neither Google CEO Sundar Pichai and Chrome and Android lead Hiroshi Lockheimer had signed off on any road map for Fuchsia’s release. Instead, the Google executives referred to Fuchsia as an “open source experiment” rather than an official project

But, because Fuchsia is an open source experiment, we kept hearing about advances made in the OS throughout the year from security implementations to the search-centric interface. Here’s to hoping all of this leads to something more concrete in 2019. 

Google in 2018

Some assistance, please

Smart speakers are everywhere these days, with Google, Amazon, Apple and more in a race to deliver the smart assistant for you and your home. In 2018, Google Assistant made waves. Google’s digital assistant was already capable of quite a lot, but after an update in October it’s capable of more than ever. 

That’s good news, because the Google Assistant is virtually on everything right now. Beyond every Android phone, it's on everything from new smart speakers, like Marshall’s Stanmore II and Acton II to Samsung’s next line of smart TVs.

Google is launching plenty of its own devices with its AI software, too, including the Google Home Hub, which goes head to head with Amazon’s Echo Show.

Google obviously has big plans for Google Assistant, and it wants the software running on as many devices as possible. And, if we keep hearing news about plans to bring personalized news feeds to smart speakers, we can’t wait to see what Google Assistant is capable of in 2019.

Google in 2018

Pixel dense

Google doesn’t just make money by harvesting your browsing data and turning it into targeted advertisements, it also launches mobile and computing hardware. This year, we got two fantastic phones and a tablet. 

Back at its Made by Google event in October, the tech giant launched the Pixel 3, Pixel 3 XL and the Google Pixel Slate

The Google Pixel 3 and its bigger cousin were the stars of the show, even if it didn’t look like a lot on paper. But, the Google Pixel 3 is more than the sum of its spec sheet, bringing an even better camera – when the Google Pixel 2 was already one of the best cameras in a smartphone. But, that’s not all – Google massively improved the camera software this time around, bringing around OLED displays, even if you’ll have to deal with a notch this time around.

Then there’s the Google Pixel Slate, Google’s answer to the Microsoft Surface Pro – but with much weaker hardware. It’s one of the first Chrome OS tablets on the market, with an optional keyboard cover that’ll set you back a whopping $199 (£189, about AU$280). Starting out with an Intel Celeron Processor, it’s by no means a powerhouse, but is does have its appeal as a media device for Google fans. We would have rather seen the Google Pixelbook 2, but, hey there’s always next year, right?

Google in 2018

Conclusions

Google isn’t the easiest tech company to sum up at the end of the year, as a lot of its major moves are drawn out over time, rather than the product releases. However, Google kind of got a lot done this year, even if it’s not as tangible as Apple or Microsoft. 

The search engine, long the core of its business, keeps getting better and better, and is more mobile friendly than ever. And, with its expansion into ostensibly being a cellular carrier, Google has a lot to be proud of, and we can’t wait to see where Google is going to expand next. Because, 2018 went to further prove that Google’s movements aren’t as predictable as their peers. 

And, while there wasn’t much in the way of new hardware, the new Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL are genuinely some of the best phones to come out in 2018. We just wish the Google Pixel Slate could have been more impressive. There is plenty of potential for a great Chrome OS tablet, we’re just not there yet. 

Maybe in 2019 we’ll see a true follow-up to the Google Pixelbook that redefines what the best Chromebooks are capable of. We’ve been rooting for the Chromebook from the sidelines for a while now, and with the problems Microsoft is having with the Windows 10 October 2018 Update, we think there’s room for Chrome OS to steal some of the spotlight. 

This year seemed to see Google laying out a lot of groundwork for future work, and we think it’s going to cash in on this work throughout the next couple of years. We know we’re on the edge of our seats to see what becomes of Google Fuchsia.

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EU to fund bug bounty program for top open-source software

The European Union will help cover the expenses of bug bounty programs for 14 open-source projects according to an announcement made by EU Member of Parliament Julia Reda.

The projects that will receive funding for their bug bounty programs are 7-zip, Apache Kafka, Apache Tomcat, Digital Signature Services (DSS), Drupal, Filezilla, FLUX TL, the GNU C Library (glibc), KeePass, midPoint, Notepad++, PuTTY, the Symfony PHP framework, VLC Media Player and WSO2.

The bug bounty programs are being sponsored as part of the third edition of the Free and Open Source Software Audit (FOSSA) project.

FOSSA was first approved by EU authorities back in 2015 when security researchers discovered severe vulnerabilities in the OpenSSL library a year earlier.

Third edition of FOSSA

In her announcement, Julia Reda highlighted the importance of free and open-source software, saying:

"The issue made lots of people realise how important Free and Open Source Software is for the integrity and reliability of the Internet and other infrastructure. Like many other organisations, institutions like the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission build upon Free Software to run their websites and many other things."

The first edition of FOSSA ran between 2015 and 2016 with a budget of €1m and a public survey was held which decided that Apache HTTP web server and the KeePass password manager would receive a sponsored security audit.

FOSSA 2 had a budget of €2m but its bug bounty program was limited to €60,000 for the VLC Media Player app.

Beginning in January, security researchers and companies can hunt for vulnerabilities in the 14 open source projects chosen for FOSSA 3 and report them to earn a monetary award.

Via ZDNet

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Major US papers hit by malware attack

The Los Angeles Times and several other major US newspapers, owned by Tribune Publishing CO such as the Chicago Tribune and Baltimore Sun, were hit by a cyberattack last weekend that led to major printing and delivery disruptions. 

According to a source with knowledge of the incident, the cyberattack, which led to distribution delays in the Saturday edition of The Times, Tribune, Sun and other newspapers, likely originated outside of the US.

Tribune Publishing first discovered the malware on its systems on Friday.

The West Coast editions of the Wall Street Journal and New York Times were also affected since they are printed on the same shared production platform in Los Angeles.

Distribution delay

Back office systems utilised to publish and produce newspapers were disrupted by the malware according to Tribune Publishing spokesperson Marisa Kollias who explained that the financial details of its customers were not accessed by hackers, saying:

“There is no evidence that customer credit card information or personally identifiable information has been compromised.”

Department of Homeland Security spokesperson Katie Waldman revealed that the department is currently investigating the disruption caused by the cyberattack, saying:

“We are aware of reports of a potential cyber incident affecting several news outlets, and are working with our government and industry partners to better understand the situation.”  

Via Reuters

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Best CMS of 2020

Content plays a major role in the journey of building your online presence and brand. Without it, you're going to struggle in today’s ruthless business world. In fact, digital marketing is arguably one of the most important areas of commerce, although it’s often neglected.

To maximise your operation's potential, you need a reliable content management system (CMS). You’ll find plenty of them out there, and they all allow you to create and manage your own content, website and blogs. But some are more effective than others - and that's where we can help.

With the written word and media, you have a potential way to become a key influencer in your industry, and to connect with your customers on top of offering them quality products. So in this article, we’ll highlight the best systems, which cater for different needs and budgets.

WordPress

If there’s one CMS most people have heard of, it’s WordPress. The platform was launched in 2003 and has become a major part of the internet since. Based on PHP and MySQL, it provides you with tools to create a feature-packed website or blog using written content, videos, images and more.

You also have the ability to install a mixture of pre-made and third-party themes to personalise your website. They cater for all sorts of industries, from retail to hospitality. Although you can download the software for free from Wordpress.org and install it on your server, there’s also the option to get a domain and hosting with WordPress. In addition, you have WordPress native apps at your disposal and since recently Block Editor is now supported on mobile devices.

The business plan costs $25 a month (around £19, AU$34) and gives you full access to the theme store, unlimited storage space and a custom domain. That’s not a bad investment if you want to create a website and maintain it going forward.

Squarespace

Squarespace is another popular CMS platform (largely thanks to its omnipresent podcast advertising!), and it started out at around the same time as WordPress. The main difference is that it isn’t open-source – so you can’t download the software and install it on your own server.

Instead, it’s an integrated website builder, blogging platform and hosting service. The premise is that you sign up for a subscription and Squarespace makes it easy to build a website from scratch, which is obviously handy if you don’t have any previous web development experience, or if you need to get a site up and running in a short space of time. Like WordPress, you can install different themes and build a website using text, images and videos.

There’s also a commerce platform available. It lets you build and manage your own online store, without having to pay a hefty sum for a tech pro to do it for you. Again, there’s the option to go for a business-ready package. For $18 per month (around £14, AU$24) you get your own domain, unlimited bandwidth and storage, SSL security, Zapier - an automation tool, and Google AdWords credit.

Magnolia

One of the main attractions of content management systems is that they’re often easy to set up and use. If you’re running a business, you’ll want to have a website to promote your products and services, but you may not have the technical know-how to build one yourself.

The java-based Magnolia CMS is targeted specifically at companies that need websites which can do pretty much everything. It sports a hub integrating areas such as e-commerce, analytics, marketing automation, social media, CRM and ERP. The beauty here is that you can add these functions as time goes on and your business develops.

Security is at the heart of the system, too, as it employs an architecture that separates your website’s public and private elements to help combat attacks. You can even define what users and admins are able to do, so you’ll always know who can write, edit, view and publish certain content. Prices are tailored to business needs.

Weebly

Similar to WordPress, Weebly may well be a name that you’re familiar with. It’s an easy-to-use content management system that lets you set up a simple website within a matter of minutes. The platform uses a drag-and-drop format, so you can add features and media to your website easily. And by the same token, you can swiftly remove anything whenever you want.

There are a load of pricing options to choose from, all based on different business and personal needs. After the basic, free option, the cheapest plan is $12 a month (around £9.4, AU$17), which provides you with unlimited storage, a domain name and Google Ads credit. There is a small business option, and that’ll set you back $25 a month (around £19, AU$34). For that, you get all the usual features, as well as handy tools like password protection and tax calculators.

Wix

Wix is a cloud-based web development platform which lets you create HTML5 and mobile-optimised websites easily. 

The platform offers a drag-and-drop system, and you can add more functionality by installing plugins. Wix caters for elements including email marketing, e-commerce, contact forms and community forums. As is normal for CMS platforms, you have the option to remove adverts, use your own domain name and get increased bandwidth by going for a premium plan. In February, Wix Turbo was released, which noticeably increases the performance and speed of websites.

Prices start at $4.50 a month (around £3, AU$6), although if you’re a small business, you have the Business Basic plan which the company says it's best for small businesses. The price is $17 (around £13.5, AU$24.75) and you benefit from uncapped bandwidth, 20GB of storage, a free domain, a custom favicon, an online store builder and ad vouchers.

Bynder

Content management systems are great for publishing content online, obviously enough, but they’re also gold dust when it comes to collaborating on content across teams. Bynder is a marketing platform that lets brands create, find, use and work on content easily. 

It provides a plethora of high-quality workflows to help brand managers, marketers and editors produce, approve and circulate new marketing content. There’s also the ability to create a shareable style guide so all content is consistent and matches the company’s brand image. 

While it sports some handy features, Bynder is a lot more expensive than other offerings, although you can try out the service with the 14-day trial. You'll need to contact the company for exact pricing, but you should expect to pay at least $450 per month (around £345, AU$570) and prices can reach thousands. That said, the software is designed to take a good deal of strain off your marketing budget by simplifying many mundane and time-consuming tasks. 

  • Editor's note: Wix has asked not to be included in this article
Posted in Uncategorised

New York police will use a drone to monitor tonight’s New Year’s Eve celebrations

There'll be something new soaring among the fireworks over Times Square during tonight's New Year's Eve celebrations: a police drone.

According to The Associated Press, cops plan to use a quadcopter to keep an eye on partygoers and help them respond to any trouble before it gets out of hand. It's the first time a drone has been used this way during the festivities.

Three, two, one...

Tens of thousands of people are expected to descend on Times Square to ring in 2019. Law enforcement officers aren't expecting any particular trouble, but the drone will give them an extra view of the action should anything untoward take place.

“That’s going to give us a visual aid and the flexibility of being able to move a camera to a certain spot with great rapidity through a tremendous crowd,” said John Miller, deputy commissioner of intelligence and counterterrorism.

A drone roaming freely in the dark could be dangerous, so the New York Police Department's craft will be tethered safely to a building and will never fly directly over the crowd. 

“Once it’s up in the air, it will probably be hard to see,” said the NYPD's chief of department Terence Monahan.

Posted in Uncategorised

Best free website builder 2020

Creating a website used to be the domain (geddit?) of professional designers and coders, but thanks to free website builder applications, these days it's something anyone can tackle.

The problem is that there are so many website creation applications and services vying for attention that it can be difficult to know which one to opt for – this is where we can help.

We've collated the very best free website builders available, including a mixture of offline software and online tools.

It's usually quicker, easier and more efficient to create and edit a site entirely online with a WYSIWYG editor, but if you want complete control over every aspect of your site's design and web hosting, you'll need a desktop-based free website builder.

So whether you're looking to create a site for your business, a new blog, or you just fancy creating an online presence for yourself, here are the best free website builder services to help you out.

  • If you want website builders with more oomph and features, check out our best website builder shortlist which includes paid-for services.

Wix

Wix makes it very easy to design a website, while giving experts plenty of power to customize elements if they need it

Wix is a big-name website builder which offers a free plan, enabling you to have the run of this service without having to put your hand in your pocket. And you benefit from one of the most impressive website editors in the business.

This editor can be run in ADI (Artificial Design Intelligence) mode, which has a very basic interface to keep everything really simple and user-friendly. This is great for beginners, as you can create a basic site without even remotely breaking a sweat (a range of attractive templates are provided, as well).

Those who want to get more involved with tweaking the design of their website can step up to the full Wix editor, which boasts powerful functionality, and the ability to really hone your website and get it looking just as you want. Visual previews of page elements make it easy to pick what you need for any particular part of a web page, too.

Wix is so polished that putting together your site using the editor feels more like using a native application rather than a website builder, and it also sports excellent support for a diverse range of media, and quality customer support as well, even on the free plan. In addition, Wix Turbo was recently released which improves the performance and speed of all Wix websites.

Powerful blogging functionality rounds things off nicely, and you’re getting a truly high quality offering with the free version of this website builder.

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Constant Contact

Constant Contact provides an intelligent website builder and ecommerce store platform, both of which are free to use.

Setting up a website is easy using drag-and-drop functionality, allowing you to set up a design simply and easily, and insert the features you need. 

Settings are automatically optimized for mobile platforms and SEO, and there is a free image library with over 50,000 images included as part of the package.

The ecommerce platform allows for online payments through Paypal, Mollie, or Stripe. There are order and inventory features that automatically updates inventory with orders, and sends an email alert when items become out-of-stock.

While the basic level website is free, there are paid plans which add more features. Additionally, there is also a paid email marketing option available to allow you to reach new customers.

Overall, Constant Contact does a good job of setting up the basics. The free plan is a great way to set up your website, but if you want to publish a website, you'll need to pay.

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Weebly

If you want to create a website as quickly as possible, look no further than Weebly. It's so easy to use, you'll have a great-looking site online in mere minutes

Weebly offers you two ways to build your website. Both involve creating it online, and both are as quick and painless as possible.

The simplest option is to use the basic editor builder which will guide you through a series of questions before automatically creating a site for you. There is scope for customization, but the focus here is really on fast results for anyone who is terrified of designing websites.

A more hands-on approach is available if you decide to use the standard Editor. There are literally hundreds of stylish templates to choose from – and, yes, they are genuinely impressive – which you can tweak and tailor to your needs using a beautiful WYSIWYG editor.

Despite being a cloud-based website builder, Weebly gives you a great degree of control over the look of your site and placement of page elements. You can also liven it up using additional features such as a newsletter and live chat. This power and flexibility make Weebly a top-notch website builder.

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WordPress

WordPress is the tool of choice for many blog owners. It takes a little getting used to, but once you've mastered it, you'll love its flexibility

Causing a slight degree of confusion, there are actually two different versions of WordPress. The more complex variant can be downloaded from wordpress.org, and you will need to upload it to your own web space and install it using the automated online installer. You can then customize the templates and use add-ons to make the site your own.

This is the route many bloggers go down, but there is a simpler option for people who don’t want the hassle of fiddling about with scripts and getting dirty with hardcore editing.

The hosted version of WordPress lets you create your own site on wordpress.com. You can create everything from a blog or photo site, to a fully fledged online store, and there are a number of templates to choose from. Additionally, Mailchimp users have a benefit of adding a Mailchimp block, which can grow your mailing list among other things.

Whether you're creating a static site, or a blog-style site with regularly updated content, the online editor is a joy to use and allows just about anyone to create an impressive, professional-looking site. The only downside is the limited range of plugins and templates compared with the desktop website builder.

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WebSite X5

WebSite X5 makes building a website on your desktop easy, with good-looking templates and an intuitive site builder

Incomedia WebSite X5 received an overhaul in April 2019 with new templates, an updated interface, new paid versions and more. The main thing to note is that the service now has a free version for everyone (note that the free version for TechRadar readers is still available to download). There are two paid versions, Evo and Pro, priced at €29.95 ($27.5) and €69.95 ($64.3) respectively. This is a one time purchase and naturally, both versions come with additional and improved features compared to the free one. There is also a demo version of both paid versions that you can try out.

Unlike WordPress and Wix, WebSite X5 is a desktop website builder, which means you can work on your site offline and have more freedom to make your website look exactly the way you want.

There's a range of ready-made templates to choose from, or you can create your own design from scratch. Next, build up your site map, showing the hierarchy of your pages and how they connect to one another – a feature you won't find in most web-based site builder apps. There is also e-commerce support with features like product search page and optimized checkout.

Once that's done, you're ready to start building your pages using Website X5's simple drag-and-drop interface, which includes tools for editing both rich text and photos. 

If you don't want to be tied down to an online site builder, WebSite X5 is the tool for you.

CoffeeCup Free HTML Editor

CoffeeCup Free HTML Editor isn't a WYSIWYG website builder, but it provides a live preview of your site as you create it

CoffeeCup Free HTML Editor is one of a dying breed of web building programs that don't use a CMS (content management system). While not in the same league as the likes of Adobe Dreamweaver, Free HTML Editor packs quite a professional punch. With split screen code/preview views, it's possible to see the effect the changes you make have straight away.

To help you get started quickly, there are a number of templates built into the program, and there are some very nice features such as tag and code suggestions as you type.

For absolute beginners, the program might seem a little overwhelming to start with, but it's worth sticking with – assuming you have some HTML knowledge. There is one slight issue; a number of features, such as spell-checking and code optimization, are only included in the paid-for version of the program.

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Joomla

If you've used WordPress before, you might be interested in the power of Joomla. It's not as easy to use though, so beginners are better off sticking with a simpler option like Wix

Joomla is a well-known name in the CMS world. It may not be as popular as WordPress, but it offers the same two options: build a site using the web app at launch.joomla.org and have it hosted on the company's servers, or download the software from joomla.org and host it yourself.

If you choose the latter option, you'll notice that the interface is much less approachable than WordPress. It's not completely impenetrable, but there are lots of menus and options to work through and it doesn't feel quite as polished as WordPress.

Joomla's online website builder is nearly as complex, but doesn't involve the same setup process, making it a better option for beginners. Its key selling point is a huge collection of themes and extensions, which provide endless ways to customize the way your site looks and works.

You might also want to check out our other website hosting buying guides:

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Best website builder of 2020: Wix, Squarespace, Hostgator, Weebly and more tested and rated

If you're looking to get online fast, welcome to our choice of the best website builder options of 2020.

Website builders have been around for many years, but a new generation now make excellent use of new technologies like responsive and mobile platforms to offer an even better service. The best website builder software allows businesses and individuals to build anything from a single-page site to a professional online store, without the need for any HTML or design experience whatsoever. 

Whether you're a sole trader or a multinational corporation, just about every business needs an online presence – in other words, a website. A growing number are adding bells and whistles like an email list or form facility, domain name registration and much more.

While most cost money, there are also some free website builders available, though they tend to have more limited functionality than ones developed for business use.

Additionally, there are website builders that cater specifically for musicians, photographers, and online art portfolios.

But here, we'll give you a rundown of the best website builder choices currently available.

More experienced users can customize and fine-tune the design to suit their own needs, or perhaps install a more traditional web design package that allows them to build the perfect site from scratch.

There are free options, but these often have major restrictions, including limits on the size of the site and the lack of any ability to use your own domain. Fortunately, the commercial options are very reasonably priced, from around £5/$5 to £10/$10 a month, with hosting included.

To help you decide which option is best for your needs, we’ve picked out the cream of the crop: these are the five top best website builder services in the world right now. 

A popular web hosting choice, Hostgator also has some great website builder capabilities. The Starter plan starts at $3.84 (£3.25) per month for a two-year plan (With our "TECHRADAR" code, you'll pay $3.46 per month). This will get you unmetered storage and bandwidth, unlimited pages, 1-year free domain and hosting, free SSL certificate, $200 ad vouchers and a few other things. The top tier plan will also grant you eCommerce functionality.

You’ll have the simple and powerful drag and drop builder at your disposal so you can quickly and easily build your website and you can choose around 30 fully customizable mobile-friendly themes to help you with the website building. Hostgator also gives you analytical tools so you can always check how well your website is performing. Additionally, you’ll have access to live feeds from Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

All the features work very well and the website builder itself is very simple to operate so even the most non-tech savvy users will have no problem with it. Unfortunately, if you want to create a blog, the features there are lacking when compared to the competition. There is no option to schedule posts and the only comments you can post are the Facebook comments. Still, if you want a simple blog it will be good enough, although more demanding users probably won’t be satisfied.

The support is great and it’s available 24/7 with telephone, live chat, or email. Although, to get the best support you’ll need to purchase something other than the Starter plan. All in all, Hostgator’s website builder is an excellent choice for anyone who wants to start making a website and they are quite capable hosting provider too.

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Wix has more than 100 million registered users

Wix is one of the most popular online website creators, offering a range of plans and products. The free version has Wix branding, limited storage space (500MB) and bandwidth, but move up to the most popular plan (unlimited) and there’s no Wix ads. You get unlimited bandwidth (hence its name) and 10GB storage, along with a free domain, Google Ad vouchers and much more. The e-commerce plans start with the "Business Basic" plan with a price of $17 (£13.30) per month.

An excellent collection of 500 plus templates gets the design process off to a quick start. The drag-and-drop editor gives you all kinds of tools and features to explore – an image editor, video backgrounds, animations, social buttons, an integrated site blog – and just about everything can be tweaked, tuned and restyled. Furthermore, as of recently, Wix introduced Wix Turbo, which increases the speed and performance of websites substantially.

All the core editing functions are really smartly designed, and operate more like a native app than your average website builder. Wix does have some weaknesses, with tech support seeming a little sluggish and limited in some respects. But there’s no denying that the superb editor and range of top-notch templates make it easy for web building novices to create something impressive.

best web builders

Another capable provider, Squarespace’s website builder offers a plethora of features with some gorgeous looking templates. The service is a bit pricey with the cheapest Personal plan is priced at $12 (£10) a month, paid annually. To be fair, you do get a lot of features like SSL security, unlimited bandwidth and storage, SEO features, intelligent image optimization, image and video galleries, performance boosting CDN support, professional web store, a powerful blogging platform, and several others.

One of the first things to catch your eye are the templates. They are beautifully designed and easily accessible, as you can switch them at will if you decide later that you don’t like a particular template. The website editor itself is very minimalistic and kinda bland looking, but don’t let that fool you, as there are a bunch of options and features available here. This is because they are only shown when you put your mouse cursor over its individual elements. This will take some time to get used to, but once you do, you’ll appreciate all the features you get.

If you encounter any issues Squarespace offers good support and their support team is quite knowledgeable. Apart from their support pages that have FAQs, guides, video tutorials and other support like articles, there is a live chat available on workdays from 4 am to 8 pm EST, and email support is available 24/7.

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Weebly is one of the few website builders that offer a free hosting tier.

Weebly is another big name in the website building world which offers a powerful editor and capable set of features. There’s a free plan, which like Wix limits space to 500MB and imposes ads on your site.

However, if you move up to the Professional plan – at $12 (£9.5)  a month – the ads and storage limit are dropped, plus you get a free domain, and even support for a web store containing up to 25 products. The supercharged Business plan lets you create sites with unlimited web store products and high-end store features like product reviews and discount coupons, retailing at $25 (£19) a month.

The service offers hundreds of professionally-designed web templates, covering just about any site type. The drag-and-drop editor is neatly designed, although you don’t get full control over where you can position elements on the page, and the interface can seem a little cluttered. A further niggle is that there is no global Undo feature.

Like Wix, we found tech support was a little wobbly in terms of sluggish responses, but Weebly offers a host of powerful features, some very stylish templates, and easy access to free images for your site is another definite boon.

best web builders

1&1 IONOS is one of the biggest web hosting companies in the world

There’s a lot to like here in terms of a powerful drag-and-drop editor bristling with professional features and highly customizable templates, but at the outset, let’s make it clear that this isn’t the cheapest service around.

There’s no free plan (or indeed trial – although there is a 30-day money-back guarantee), and the most basic plan is priced at $5 a month (£5 for UK) (first month is free). That gives you unlimited pages and web space, a simple integrated blog, limited SEO settings, plus website backup and restore, so it’s a touch pricey for what you get.

That said, 1&1 IONOS MyWebsite offers a wide range of responsive templates, and an editor which provides loads of potential adjustments and tweaks, all with plenty of visual feedback and context-sensitive menus to help streamline the whole process. What’s clever here is that the top-level stuff is easy to use and understand for beginners, yet expert users can dive more deeply into the menus to really play around and customize elements. You also get your own personal consultant free of charge.

Other highly useful features include the ability to point to your old website in order to import media content from there straight into your new site. This could be a huge timesaver for some. There also an e-commerce plan starting at $20 per month.

best web builders

Also consider

As we’ve seen, many a website builder pitch themselves towards novices and making life easy for the less site-savvy out there, but what about experts who want powerful low-level control? Those are the users Voog has in mind.

So you don’t get many templates here, for example, and there’s the bare minimum of media support – but what you do get is a compact drag-and-drop editor which does its best to stay out of your way. There are weaknesses here, and the interface is somewhat clunky in respects – and it’s another which lacks a global Undo function – but it has some real power you can drill down into.

For example, clicking a text box gives you the option to use bullet-point lists, insert tables or videos, or even edit the HTML source to customize effects. Voog also lets multiple users easily collaborate on a site project, and if you’re after nifty, unusual features like these, you won’t see them elsewhere.

The entry-level Standard plan is priced at $8.80 (£7.10) per month (billed annually) and gives you 5GB storage, and all the core features you’ll need, including SSL security (although it’s limited to 30 pages). If you know what you’re doing in terms of website design, and want some true power and customization capabilities, there is a 30-day trial you can check out (no credit card details needed).

best web builders

Jimdo is a somewhat quirky website builder targeted largely at novice users, but it’s well worth your attention for a number of reasons, not the least of which is a free plan which boasts more than the average offering.

Yes, there are the usual limitations including adverts, a 500MB storage limit, no custom domain, and very limited SEO. But there are a few features you won't get in other free plans, like a password protected area, for example.

The site editor itself is simple and consistent, even if it’s somewhat unconventional in terms of its design. Also, the editor doesn’t have as many functions and features as some rivals. For example, there aren’t that many templates, and the widgets on offer aren’t as plentiful as you might find elsewhere – plus there’s no global Undo (although Jimdo isn’t alone in this respect).

Another neat touch is a good web knowledgebase which means help is generally close at hand when it comes to troubleshooting. Overall, this is a compelling product, that is well worth giving a whirl.

You might also want to check out our other website hosting buying guides:

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A new Digital Cockpit in the 2019 VW Jetta is a sign of things to come

Photo credit: Josiah Bondy

One of the key tech trends with cars is that the ‘elite’ features usually found in luxury vehicles has trickled down to everyday passenger cars that are more affordable. Lane-keeping tech, adaptive cruise, and even blind spot monitoring were reserved for the upper echelon only, those who could afford a Mercedes-Benz, a BMW, or an Audi.

Ford started the break the mold when it introduced automated parking to the Focus, and even the 2019 Ford Fiesta – at a price of only $14,260 (about £11,000, AU$20,000) – now has lane-keeping tech.

Customization for all

The best recent example of that is the 2019 VW Jetta, a mid-sized sedan that costs $18,545 (about £14,000, AU$26,000) and went through a redesign recently.

A new Digital Cockpit borrows heavily from the Audi brand (which is part of VW). It’s a 10-inch display above the steering wheel, showing your speed, trip info, and other info typically found in this location, but allows you to customize what you can see using the View button on the steering wheel, switching to a digital readout for RPMs and speed, or showing a massive navigation map to help you find your destination. 

Photo credit: Josiah Bondy

Audi goes a major step further with a similar display. In the A4, for example, you can see a Google Earth map that shows the terrain around you as you drive, helping you spot a lake off in the distance or track the edges of a mountain range.

Nothing quite like that here, but the Digital Cockpit is a safety feature as much as a digital age perk. You can focus on the road ahead of you instead of glancing over at the center display, which can be distracting.

Photo credit: Josiah Bondy

What’s most interesting to me about the Digital Cockpit is that these customizations are going to become more and more common, and we’re going to see more and more extra displays in cars. In reviewing the 2019 Subaru Ascent recently, that was my first discovery: that there are four different screens in the car available to the driver, including the digital rear-view.

Total control

In the Jetta, the extra screen is handy because you can customize the settings. I preferred the view that showed me my speed in the lower right corner and my current music selection. (I tend to avoid using navigation in areas where I already know the route.)

The Jetta lets you customize the interior color, picking from 10 hues. You can also set the driver preferences for seat position and even climate control, save them under your own username and reactivate the settings in one click when you first jump in.

Photo credit: Josiah Bondy

In the near future, we might personalize things much further. Once we have multiple screens, we might decide to always show a camera view behind us, or choose one display that always shows your current music selection (along with a picture of the artist).

I could even see using a dedicated screen for showing a real-time camera pointing toward the back to keep an eye on the kids. And, for a vehicle that can pull cargo, a view of the trailer you’re towing.

Photo credit: Josiah Bondy

The driver is king or queen, and in the future, we’ll be able to customize every display to our own preferences – or disable them and just focus on the road ahead.

On The Road is TechRadar's regular look at the futuristic tech in today's hottest cars. John Brandon, a journalist who's been writing about cars for 12 years, puts a new car and its cutting-edge tech through the paces every week. One goal: To find out which new technologies will lead us to fully driverless cars.

Posted in Uncategorised

Best WordPress hosting 2020

Getting started with WordPress web hosting doesn't have to be expensive, after all the 17-year old WordPress is free (and open source). Even the cheapest shared hosting plan usually comes with a one-click WordPress installer, allowing the greenest of blogging newbies to have their first post ready in less than 60 seconds (we tried it).

Managing a blog over time is much more challenging, though. You'll need to find your own themes and plugins. And also keep them, and WordPress itself, up-to-date (although you can even get that done automatically).

Blogs are often targeted by malware, so it's important you have some way to detect and remove any threats, and you'll want regular backups to help get a broken blog working again. 

There's a long list of hosting companies offering WordPress plans, but we've picked out five of the best to point you in the right direction. Whether you're a first-time user or a big business, there's something for you here, and with prices starting at around a pound per month, it's well worth taking the time to find out more.

  • Want your company or services to be added to this buyer’s guide? Please email your request to desire.athow@futurenet.com with the URL of the buying guide in the subject line.

These are the best WordPress hosting services of 2020

Image Credit: Bluehost

Budget WordPress hosting can have a lot of appeal, but it usually won't deliver the features, performance or reliability that high traffic sites need. If you're the demanding type, opting for a premium hosting plan will give you much better results.

Bluehost has created its own VPS-based architecture to deliver optimum WordPress performance via NGINX, a custom PHP-FPM setup and intelligently allocated resources through KVM hypervisor. (If you're not a hosting geek, this just means Bluehost has taken the time to optimize the low-level setup of its platform for WordPress, rather than simply making do with a standard configuration.)

The company doesn't waste time by pretending to offer ‘unlimited’ resources, and instead tells you exactly what you're going to get. For the Basic plan which starts at $2.75 per month for the first term (renews at $7.99), this means 50GB SSD storage, a single website, a free domain for one year and $50 Marketing Credit.

Additional features for all plans include free SSL, unmetered MySQL DB, site analytics dashboard, unlimited parked/sub domains and Bluehost Marketplace where users will have access to premium themes and plugins at exclusive prices. New Bluehost accounts will also get a free service called Blue Spark, which is designed to help newcomers with everything WordPress related.

The Plus plan which starts at $5.45 per month for the first term (renews at $10.99), adds unlimited websites and website space, and additional features like spam protection, free CDN and WP staging environment. The Choice Plus plan costs $5.45 per month for the first term (renews at $14.99) and adds even more features. Bluehost also offers a 30-day money-back guarantee if you feel the service doesn't deliver. 

If you need more power, BlueHost has a managed hosting solution called WordPress Pro that has been optimized for WordPress websites, with prices starting at $17.95 per month. These plans have many additional features like unlimited everything, malware detection and removal, JetPack site analytics, business review tools and more.

Image Credit: Tsohost

Managed WordPress packages can often feel overpriced. Many hosts charge significant premiums for impressive sounding claims – optimized servers, malware scanning – that are difficult to evaluate or confirm.

The UK-based Tsohost isn't interested in any of that, instead focusing on providing the core WordPress essentials at a very fair price.

The baseline Economy plan gives you a free domain name, will migrate your existing site, includes 50% discount on Standard SSL and has no limits on bandwidth. You get daily backups and can restore any of the last 30 days with a click. There's 24/7 support via ticket and email, and phone and live chat is available from 7am to midnight.

You get a hundred 200MB mailboxes, and the plan restricts you to 100GB storage and 100,000 page views a month. If that's enough for you, the plan costs ~$4.9(£3.99) a month paid annually.

If that's just too underpowered, opting for the Deluxe plan gets you unlimited storage, 500x1GB mailboxes, and unlimited hosted websites. That's significantly more capable, yet still very reasonably priced at ~$7.8(£5.99) a month paid annually.

The  "most popular" Ultimate plan is priced at ~$11.7(£8.99) a month paid annually and supports unlimited storage, unlimited hosted websites, unlimited 10GB mailboxes and a free SSL certificate among other things.

Tsohost doesn't offer all the frills and extras you'll get with some products. There's no talk of SiteLock malware protection, optimized WordPress add-ons or a custom CDN. But it's hard to complain at this price, and Tsohost is still delivering a capable service with more than enough power for smaller sites.

Image Credit: Inmotion Hosting

Most web hosts offer only a few WordPress plans, and even these might be set up to point you in a particular direction. You'll often see an underpowered plan, an overpriced one, and a special deal on the mid-range plan they really want you to buy. That makes it easy to decide, but it also limits your upgrade options if your site grows over time.

InMotion Hosting is unusual in offering six WordPress plans, covering everything from small personal blogs to resellers and big business. Figuring out which is the best product for you will take a little more thought, but at least there's room to upgrade – or downgrade – if your circumstances change.

Better still, InMotion hasn't artificially limited the low-end plans by removing key features. Even the baseline WP-1000S plan – which costs $5.99 (£5.15) a month initially (1-year plan), $9.99 (£7.70) on renewal – gives you 50GB SSD storage, unlimited bandwidth and email addresses, preinstalled WordPress, SSL, backups, automatic updates, SiteLock security, cPanel site management, and extras like BoldGrid and WP-CLI. The only significant issue is InMotion's suggestion that the plan works best for blogs with up to 20,000 monthly visits, and even that won't be a problem for many smaller sites.

Upgrading your plan gets you some extras – premium themes and plugin subscriptions, a dedicated IP address, support for hosting more sites – but it's mostly about giving you more resources.

There are cheaper deals around, but in previous reviews, we've found InMotion to be reliable, professional, and honest, and any price premium is likely to be worth paying. You don't have to take our word for it, though – an exceptional 90-day money-back guarantee gives you plenty of opportunities to find out for yourself.

Image Credit: 1&1 IONOS

Web giant 1&1 IONOS seems to have a hosting product for every possible need, and WordPress is no exception. Novice users can try out its service for a nominal $3 (£2.4) a month, yet the plan still outperforms many competitors. 

The bundled 25GB of storage means you won't be running out of space in a hurry, for example. There are no bandwidth or visitor limits, and you can set up as many email accounts as you need.

1&1 IONOS offers the core WordPress management functions that you would expect: a setup wizard, preinstalled plugins, automatic updates and 24/7 support (including by telephone). Also, you get a personal consultant free of charge. 

All this is built on a capable platform – NGINX, PHP 7.2, OPcache, up to 2GB RAM guaranteed – to enhance your blog's performance.

There's SSL included and even a free domain thrown in, which is a ridiculously good value at this price.

If you're a WordPress novice, it might be worth taking out the plan for an initial year, claiming your free domain and taking the time to learn how the blog works. When you time is up, renew if you're happy, or if you're not, use your knowledge and experience to find a better plan.

1&1 IONOS isn't just about newbies, though: there's value for more demanding users, too. In particular, the Unlimited plan gives you unlimited Wordpress sites and storage space, unlimited databases (1GB max), and unlimited email accounts (2GB each). Bonus features include a Wildcard SSL, a CDN and SiteLock malware scanning, as well as RailGun content delivery network, and the price looks good at $18 (£14.6)

Image Credit: HostGator

Choosing the best WordPress hosting package can seem like a complicated business, with a stack of low-level details and issues to consider. But it doesn't have to be that way. If you don't have special requirements then opting for a reliable company will get you capable mid-range products that can handle everything most users need.

HostGator generally delivers powerful hosting plans for a fair price, and its managed WordPress range is no exception. Its Starter product may only cost $5.95 (£4.25) ($3.98 with our promo code) per month for three years, $9.95 (£7.10) afterwards, but you still get a free site migration, an SSL certificate, automatic malware detection and removal, unlimited email addresses and unmetered storage and bandwidth, and it can handle up to 100,000 visits a month.

Ramping up to the high-end Business plan gets you more CPU power, support for up to five sites and 500,000 visits a month, yet still costs only $18.17 (£14.4) ($11.18 with our promo code) a month for the first three years, $27.95 (£22.10) a month afterward.

Smart caching and a CDN are on hand to enhance your website's performance, 24/7 support helps keep your site up and running, and surprise bonus features include free domain privacy to protect from identity theft and reduce annoying spam.

We've had good experiences with HostGator's service, but if you're not so lucky, there's a generous 45-day money-back guarantee. As with other hosting companies, this won't cover any domain registration fees, but it's still a better deal than you'll often find elsewhere.

You might also want to check out our other buying guides:

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Best email service 2020: paid, free and business providers

If you're looking for the best email service providers around today, you've come to the right place.

Getting hold of the best email service providers today can be easy. Sign up with an ISP and you’ve got one account for starters. Creating an account with Google, Microsoft or other big names will get you more. Buy a decent web hosting package and you'll probably get enough email addresses to power a large business, all for no extra charge.

But picking the best email service providers for you can be more difficult, as there's a lot to consider - especially in these days of remote working. What are the spam filters like? How easy is it to keep your inbox organized? Can you access the account from other email clients? And what about using the service with a custom domain and address of your own (yourname@yourdomain.com)?

Keep reading and we'll highlight some of the best email service providers around. All have decent free services, perhaps with ads and some limits, but we'll also talk about their business-friendly commercial products which deliver the power, functionality and enterprise-level extras that demanding users need.

The best email service providers of 2020 are:

Image credit: Proton Technologies

Signing up with an email provider will often involve some privacy compromises. Yahoo Mail asks for your name and mobile number, for instance. Gmail and other services might scan your messages to carry out useful actions (such as adding events to calendars), and just about everyone serves you with ads.

ProtonMail is a Swiss-based email service which focuses on privacy above all else. You can sign up anonymously, there's no logging of IP addresses, and all your emails are end-to-end encrypted, which means there's no way ProtonMail (or anyone else) can read their contents. Also, address verification (which allows you to be sure you are securely communicating with the right person) and full support for PGP email encryption is available. In late April 2019, elliptic curve cryptography was introduced, which adds additional security and faster speeds.

There are some significant limits. The free product has a tiny 500MB storage space, only supports sending 150 messages a day, and is distinctly short in terms of organizational tools (no folders, labels or smart filters). As the end-to-end encryption is specific to ProtonMail, it also ensures that you can't use the service with other email clients.

Still, it seems a little unfair to complain about a service which is no-strings-attached free, and doesn't even show ads. In reality, ProtonMail is a specialist tool which is intended for use alongside services like Gmail – not to replace them – and overall it performs its core tasks very well.

If you do need more, ProtonMail's $5 (you can choose to pay in USD, Euro and CHF) a month (or $48 yearly) Plus account gives you 5GB storage, a 1,000 message-per-day allowance, custom domains (you@yourdomain.com) and support for folders, labels, filters as well as some addition features like contact groups.

A further Professional plan brings more storage, email addresses and a second custom domain, as well as adding a catch-all email address and multi-user support. It's priced from $8 per month per user (75$ yearly), which is reasonable if you need ProtonMail's security, although it's also notably more expensive than the business accounts of the big-name competition.

best email providers

Image credit: Google

First released back in 2004, Google's Gmail has become the market leader in free email services with more than a billion users across the globe.

Gmail's stripped-back web interface is a highlight. Most of the screen is devoted to your inbox, with a minimum of toolbar and other clutter. Messages are neatly organized via conversations for easier viewing, and you can read and reply to emails with ease, even as a first-time user.

There's plenty of power here. Dynamic mail makes Gmail more interactive, with the ability to take action directly from within the email, like filling out a questionnaire or responding to a Google Docs comment. Messages can be automatically filtered into tabbed categories like Primary, Social and Promotions, helping you to focus on the content you need. Leading-edge spam blocking keeps your inbox free of junk, you can manage other accounts from the same interface (Outlook, Yahoo, any other IMAP or POP email), and there's 15GB storage for your inbox, Drive and photos. 

You can also access Gmail offline, although you'll need Google Chrome for that to work. Furthermore, there is a neat snooze feature that allows you to, well, snooze an email for a specified amount of time (it also automatically labels that email as important).

Other features are more questionable. Instead of organizing messages into folders, for instance – a simple metaphor which just about every user understands – you must filter them using a custom labelling system. This works, and has some advantages, but isn't popular with all users. Still, Gmail is an excellent service overall, and a good first choice for your email provider.

Google makes a paid business-oriented version of Gmail available in the shape of its G Suite product.

This more professional product drops the ads and allows using a custom email address on your domain (yourname@yourcompany.tld). Business-oriented migration tools can import mail from Outlook, Exchange, Lotus and more. Storage space doubles to 30GB on the Basic plan, and you get unlimited group email addresses, 99.9% guaranteed uptime and 24/7 support.

G Suite is Google's answer to Microsoft Office, so of course you also get apps for working with documents, spreadsheets and presentations. Shared calendars keep you better organized, there's video and voice conferencing for online meetings, and again, there’s 24/7 support to keep your system running smoothly.

This more Office-like power makes for a more expensive product than the email-only competition, with prices starting at $6 a user for the simplest plan. You're getting a lot for your money, though, and if you'll use G Suite's features then it could be a smart choice. A 14-day free trial provides an easy way to help you find out.

best email providers

Image credit: Microsoft

Outlook's web interface follows the same familiar style as its desktop incarnation, and most other email clients: folders and organizational tools on the left, the contents of the current folder in the center, and a simple preview pane on the right (with adverts in the case of the free account).

A toolbar gives you speedy access to common features, and right-clicking folders or messages shows you just about everything else. If you've ever used another email client, you'll figure out the key details in moments.

Despite the apparent simplicity, there's a lot going on under the hood. The service automatically detects important emails and places them in a Focused Inbox, keeping any distractions out of sight. Events including flights and dinner reservations can automatically be added to your calendar. It's easy to share that calendar with other Outlook.com or Office 365 users, or you can save your events to a Family calendar that everyone can access. In addition, there are some interesting features too, like the ability to add polls directly to your Outlook emails.

Excellent attachment support includes the ability to directly share OneDrive files as copies or links. You can also attach files directly from your Google Drive, Dropbox and Box accounts, and a chunky 15GB mailbox allows storing plenty of files from other people.

This all worked just fine for us, but if you're unhappy with the service defaults, there's a chance they can be tweaked via Outlook.com's Settings dialog. This doesn't have quite as many options as Gmail, but they're well organized and give you plenty of control over layout, attachment rules, message handling and more.

If that’s still not enough, Microsoft offers a bunch of app-based integrations to take the service further. You get built-in Skype support via the beta, and apps give you easier access to Evernote, PayPal, GIPHY, Yelp, Uber and more.

Upgrading to Office 365 gets you an ad-free inbox, 50GB mail storage and a vast 1TB of OneDrive storage. Extras include offline working, professional message formatting tools, phone or chat-based support, file recovery from malicious attacks like ransomware and more. Oh, and the latest versions of Word, Excel and PowerPoint. All this can be yours for the equivalent of $7 a month on the single user Office 365 Personal plan or you can pay 70$ for a year.

best email providers

Image credit: Yahoo

Yahoo Mail doesn't make the headlines so much, these days, but its latest version is a polished and professional service which stands up well against the top competition.

The well-designed interface resembles Gmail, at least initially, with a large view of your inbox, one-click filters for common messages and content (Photos, Documents, Travel), and easy browsing of all the emails in a conversation. But you can also organize mails into custom folders, and the layout can be tweaked to display a message preview in a couple of clicks. Mobile users have some additional features like the option to unsubscribe to newsletters and such, without ever leaving the Yahoo Mail inbox.

A powerful underlying engine can integrate with Facebook, supports sending SMS and text messages, is accessible via web, POP and (in some situations) IMAP, and can forward email to another address. Valuable extras include disposable email addresses to protect your privacy, and a mammoth 1TB of mailbox storage means you can keep just about everything you receive, for a very long time.

Demanding users might find issues, over time. Mail organization can't quite match the flexibility of Gmail's labelling scheme, for instance, and there aren't nearly as many low-level tweaks, settings and options as you'll often see elsewhere. But overall, Yahoo Mail is an appealing service which needs to be on your email shortlist.

As with other providers, Yahoo offers a Business Mail plan with more features. The highlight is an option to use the service with a custom domain (yourname@yourdomain.com), although there are other advantages, too. The service can import contacts from Facebook, Gmail, Outlook and more. You can view all your mailboxes on the same screen, and there are all the usual business-friendly productivity tools (multiple calendars, document handling, analytics and more).

Prices start from $3.19 per mailbox per month, billed annually, and they drop as you add mailboxes – $1.59 for 5, $1.19 for 10, and for 20+ you'll need to contact them. Additionally, another pricing plan called Yahoo Mail Pro is available at $3.49 per month. This gives you ad-free inbox, priority customer support and additional features.

There's even a free domain name included, and not just the initial registration: Yahoo will also renew it for as long as your subscription is active.

best email providers

Image credit: Zoho

Zoho Workplace is a business-oriented email service which throws in an online office suite, document management, and a host of collaboration tools and other extras.

Zoho's free plan supports up to 25 users, although there's an extra 25 available if you can refer others to the service (update: Zoho is currently remodeling the referral program so this isn't available at the moment), each with 5GB of mailbox storage, and can be used with one domain of your own. These are features you'll normally only find in commercial products, and when you factor in the spreadsheet, word processor, presentation and other tools, it looks like a real bargain.

The email service is easy-to-use, and provides a decent set of features to help organize your emails: folders, tags, filters, smart searches, and more. You can also create custom hotkeys to expand and replace easy abbreviations of your choice with full words and phrases as you type. Zoho also has an offline mode, which allows you to read and respond to your emails even when your internet connection fails you.

The free plan is still a little basic. It gives you web access only, for instance, and there's no support for email forwarding.

Fortunately, the Zoho Standard plan fixes that. A mere $3 per user (paid annually) gets you IMAP and POP access, email forwarding, active sync, multiple domain hosting, domain aliases, 30GB storage, a 30MB attachment limit (up from 25MB with the free plan) and some major improvements elsewhere (the ability to send cloud files to non-Zoho users, for instance). You also have Lite plan which is a cheaper Standard plan ($1 per user) with less features, and a Professional ($6 per user) plan which adds more features.

A number of these features are available elsewhere for free, of course, but businesses or anyone who will use the custom domain support or Office tools will find a lot to like here. Well worth a closer look.

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