Here’s When You Can Play the Arms Global Testpunch for the Nintendo Switch

 

HIGHLIGHTS

  • The Arms Global Testpunch demo begins this weekend
  • It is a 1.4GB download for the Nintendo Switch
  • It is only available in one hour timeslots

Much like Splatoon 2’s Global Testfire for the Nintendo Switch, Arms is having its own demo with the Arms Global Testpunch. The full game is out on June 16 and in the run up to that, you check out its multiplayer.

ALSO SEEArms for Nintendo Switch: Everything You Need to Know

Arms Global Testpunch for Nintendo Switch timings

    • May 26 – 5pm PT (May 27 – 5:30am IST)
    • May 27 – 5am, 11am, 5pm PT (May 27 – 5:30pm, 11:30pm IST, May 28 – 5pm IST)
    • May 28 – 5am, 11am PT (May 28 – 5:30pm, 11:30pm IST)
    • June 2 – 5pm PT (June 3 – 5:30am IST)
    • June 3 – 5am, 11am, 5pm PT (June 3 – 5:30pm, 11:30pm IST, June 4 5:30am IST)
    • June 4 – 5am, 11am PT (June 5 – 5:30pm, 11:30pm IST)
 Here's When You Can Play the Arms Global Testpunch for the Nintendo Switch

How long does Arms Global Testpunch session last?

Like Splatoon 2, Nintendo has confirmed that each session will last for an hour a piece. With the game out in a few weeks this is the best way to get a taste of what to expect to make up your mind.

It’s surprising that there will be only twelve hours of playable time in total — a far cry from weekend long play sessions we’ve seen from other publishers like Ubisoft with Rainbow Six Siege and Ghost Recon Wildlands. Perhaps Nintendo isn’t as confident about the Switch’s online capabilities as it would like us to believe? After Splatoon 2’s resoundingly positive demo we don’t think so.

The Arms Global Testpunch is a 1.4GB download and you can get it via the Nintendo eShop.

We discussed Arms on our weekly gaming podcast Transition. You can subscribe to it via Apple Podcasts orRSS or just listen to this episode by hitting the play button below.

Destiny 2: The 5 key things PC gamers need to know

 

It seems like only yesterday, or just over seven weeks ago, that we found out Destiny 2 would be coming to PC, shedding the original’s console-only shackles. On Thursday, Bungie revealed more details about the upcoming multi-player first-person shooter. A lot of it’s good, some of it’s not so good, and some of it’s downright surprising.

Here’s what PC gamers need to know about Destiny 2.

Destiny 2 will be a Battle.net exclusive

Say what? Yep. The PC edition will be available from Activision Blizzard-owned Battle.net, not Steam.

Bungie signed a 10-year publishing deal with Activision so it makes a little sense to see Destiny 2 on Battle.net, but it’s still surprising. Until now the site was exclusively for Blizzard’s own games, with other Activision games such as Call of Duty appearing on platforms like Steam and the Windows Store.

Does Destiny 2‘s arrival on Battle.net herald the beginning of another rival to Steam or an Activision-wide version of EA’s Origin? Not according to Blizzard. The company says this is all about getting Destiny 2 out to the world as quickly as possible. Bungie can focus on making a great game (and spinning up game servers), while Blizzard takes care of the social and retail aspects. Sounds reasonable, but it’ll be interesting to see if any more non-Blizzard games show up on Battle.net over the next year or so.

Lots of PC-friendly features

This doesn’t sound like a half-assed port, as Bungie’s plans include a lot of PC-centric features, according to PC Gamer. That includes full keyboard and mouse support, custom keymapping, 4K and ultrawide resolution support, an uncapped framerate (consoles will be limited to 30 frames per second), and the ability to adjust the field of view–a blessing for anyone who suffers from FPS motion sickness.

No cross-save between PCs and console

It’s a rare feature anyway, but cross-play and cross-saving won’t be available with Destiny 2, as first reported by USGamer. With Microsoft playing up the Xbox Play Anywhere program and the popularity of Destiny among gamers of all stripes it’s a shame to hear Destiny 2 won’t break out of the usual silos.

Choose your platform carefully. This is a game that is best played with friends, and if all your friends are on Xbox while you’re on PC—well, you need better friends.destiny2big

No PC release date

As of now there isn’t a release date for PCs. The game will hit the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 on September 8. The PC release date, meanwhile, is still not set and won’t be for at least a few more weeks, Bungie told PC Gamer. Bah.

Beta for all

On the plus side, there will be a beta for PC, but we’ll have to wait and see when that will happen. Will the PC beta roll out at the same time as the console beta, for example, or will we be waiting longer for that too? We don’t know yet.

To comment on this article and other PCWorld content, visit our Facebook page or our Twitter feed.

The best free PC games

 

‘Free-to-play’ has become a bit of a dirty word in gaming, mostly associated with rubbish smartphone apps and microtransactions designed to manipulate players into spending far more than they word on any other game.

Free games aren’t all bad though, and there are plenty that are worth a lot more than their non-existent price tag might suggest. Some still include microtransactions, while others are 100 percent free; some need to be installed, but there are plenty you can just play from within your browser.

These are our favourite free-to-play timewasters when we’re on a desktop, but we’re sure we’ve missed a few – let us know your favourites in the comments. And make sure to check out our favourite Android games – plenty of them are free too.

Dota 2

Described by the creators as a “competitive game of action and strategy,” Dota 2 is a hugely popular MOBA (multiplayer online battle arena) game that originated from the WarCraft III mod ‘DOTA’ (Defence of the Ancients).

In fact, the game maintains the title of having the biggest e-sports prize of any game on the planet, with ‘The International 6’ featuring a prize pool of a whopping $20 million.

The idea behind the game is pretty simple: players pick a hero and battle it out against the other team, and using tactical gameplay, bring down the enemy base. There are over one hundred heroes available and every hero has a variety of skills and abilities.

When combined with the skills of your teammates characters, the gameplay can be quite unexpected and ensures that no two games are ever alike.

Free to play and available for download via Steam.

League of Legends

Another hugely popular MOBA that’s free to play is League of Legends, a game that boasts a worldwide tournaments that fill arenas including Wembley with fans, and offer prizes in the millions.

The game is described by its developers as a “fast-paced, competitive online game that blends the speed and intensity of an RTS with RPG elements.” Two teams comprised of five players battle head-to-head across various battlefields and game modes, with the aim of destroying the enemy Nexus (which is pretty heavily protected as you might imagine).

However, the game isn’t over when the opposing team is wiped out – instead, players must think strategically to destroy the various inhibitors positioned throughout the map with the aim of wiping out the enemy Nexus. The inhibitors are protected by turrets which are best handled when you use minions to take the flack (top tip there), and if you attack a nearby Champion the turret will automatically focus on you.

There’s also a huge focus on customisation, as players are able to fully customise their champions to suit their style of gameplay – players can enhance their armour, magic resistance and health to take on the role of a tank, for example. It’s a game, like many other MOBAs, that won’t take long to learn but will take years to master.

Those interested in playing can sign up for free right here.

Spaceplan

If free-to-play games in general get a bad rep, then no genre is regarded worse than the ‘clicker’. These simple games encourage minimum player interaction, maximum wait times, and are ruthless in their use of microtransactions.

Except Spaceplan.

This whimsical browser title (later expanded into more comprehensive app versions) sees you as an astronaut in orbit around a mysterious planet. With most of your systems damaged, the only thing you can do is click to build up power, repair your solar panels to generate more power automatically, and create potatoes.

Yup, that’s right. Potatoes. You’ll use them to build potato probes to explore the planet, potato satellites to map out the system (Spudnik, geddit?) and eventually just start lobbing potatoes into the Sun.

Along the way you’re treated to a minimalist electronic score, hilarious writing, and not a single request for money.

The original browser game is still available entirely for free, but if you’re a fan you can pick up the massively expanded version for PC, iOS, or Android.

Play Spaceplan for free now.

World of Tanks

World of Tanks is a popular MMO (massively multiplayer online) game featuring early to mid-20th Century fighting vehicles. Players find themselves browsing a selection of armoured vehicles before being dropped into an epic battle on a random map.

The player has complete control over the movement of the vehicle, as well as its weaponry, and players are able communicate with team mate via both text and voice chat. The aim of the game is, basically, to wipe out the other team or capture a base (though this isn’t present in every game mode).

You’ll find six types of battle in World of Tanks; random battles, team-training battles, tank-company battles, team battles, stronghold battles and special battles. Random battles also offer missions which, if completed, reward the player with credits, higher crew experience coefficients, or new vehicles.

Though the game is free to play, players can opt to pay for the use of ‘premium’ features (like additional tanks).

The game is free to play, and can be played here (once you sign up).

Warframe

Warframe is a free-to-play third person shooter with co-operative capabilities, developed by Digital Extremes (and also available on PS4 and Xbox One).

Players are dropped into the virtual world as members of the Tenno, a race of ancient warriors (or space ninjas as we refer to them) at war with the Grineer, the Corpus, and the Infested.

The player characters are equipped with exo-armour called ‘Warframes’ and together with teams of up to four, the aim is to work together and complete missions. Missions vary from having to wipe out enemies to hacking terminals to retrieve data and even assassinating high ranking targets.

Players are equipped with three weapons; a primary weapon (rifle, shotgun, etc), a secondary weapon (usually a pistol but players can also opt for bladed weapons), and a melee weapon (again, bladed weapons including swords and axes).

Each piece of equipment can be upgraded, and these upgrades are usually found on the bodies of defeated enemies but can also be found by completing challenges and missions.

Warframe is free to play, and is available to download via Steam.

QWOP

QWOP is super hard, super funny and super addictive. In this classic browser-based game you are Qwop, your small nation’s sole representative at the Olympic Games. It’s like an old-school athletics SIM in that you have to use the QWOP keys to move your athlete’s legs.

It sounds simple, but it’s not easy. And with around 30 million users around the globe it’s pretty popular. With justification.

Play QWOP via your browser here.

Team Fortress 2

Team Fortress 2 is a hugely popular first person shooter developed by the creators of Steam, Valve. Though the game came out way back in 2007, it still receives regular updates to this day and is in fact the second most popular free-to-play game available on Steam right now.

The game is focused around two teams battling it out to achieve their primary objective, which is defined by game mode you’re playing.

If you think it’s simple, you’d be mistaken – players have a choice of nine character classes, each with their own strengths, weaknesses and weapons, which when coupled with the three weapons available to each character, makes gameplay a little hectic.

And that’s without mentioning that Team Fortress 2 features 16v16 matches that can be pretty intense, especially at first. The good thing is that whenever you reach a level/mission you’ve never played before, you’re shown a video on how to complete its objectives.

Team Fortress 2 is available to download via Steam.

Bejeweled Blitz

We couldn’t have any sort of list of free games without including the Bejeweled franchise, for franchise it now is. Bejeweled Blitz, one of the more popular games in the series, is easily playable via Facebook, but you will find others.

In all the objective is to swap one gem with an adjacent gem to form a horizontal or vertical chain of three or more gems of the same colour. Bonus points are given when chains of more than three identical gems are formed and when two chains are formed in one swap.

Gems disappear when chains are formed and gems fall from the top to fill in gaps. Sometimes chain reactions, called cascades, are triggered, where chains are formed by the falling gems. Cascades are awarded with bonus points.

But really all you need to know is that swapping gems and making them disappear is simple, repetitive and a lot of satisfying fun.

Play Bejeweled Blitz on Facebook.

Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft

For those looking for something slightly different, we offer Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft. Hearthstone is an online collectible card game developed by Blizzard, creators of World of Warcraft.

Released back in 2014, the game is available to play on Windows, OS X, iOS and Android devices with cross-platform capabilities and progress syncing. This means that you can play on your PC, then carry on where you left off on your iPad while battling an opponent using a Mac.

The game is, essentially, a digital collectible card game that revolves around turn-based matches, with a variety of game modes. While players start the game with a collection of basic cards, players can come across rarer and more powerful cards by purchasing packs of cards, as well as a reward for completing various Arena runs.

Unlike with other playing card games, your opponent has no influence over your action during your turns – which is a huge plus – although your foe can play cards that’ll automatically respond to your actions.

Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft is available to download via the Hearthstone website.

Marvel Heroes 2016

Marvel Heroes 2016 is another free-to-play MMORPG where players can take control of various characters from the Marvel universe (players can unlock the likes of Iron Man, Captain America, Deadpool and Wolverine) and play in an open world environment.

Players need not spend money to access the full game, although micro-transactions are available for those that want to spend some (real) money. There are hundreds of missions and activities available to take part in, with a main plot revolving around the villainous Doctor Doom.

As your character gains levels, they gain stat increases which help them obtain power points, which can be used to define the character’s abilities. Each character has three ‘power trees’ focusing on specific mechanics or gameplay style, such as Iron Man’s shields or Deadpool’s guns, for example.

Players also have access to a crafting system that allows them to upgrade gear and costumes, craft consumables and artifacts – and if all that seems boring, there’s a bit of PvP action too.

Marvel Heroes 2016 is available to download via Steam, and is also available for Mac.

Tribes Ascend

Tribes Ascend is a free-to-play first person shooter developed by Hi-Rez Studios and is available exclusively for Windows gamers.

The game features a class-based loadout system a la Battlefield, with each loadout offering different combinations of armour, weapons and items. Players can change loadouts when first joining a game, as well as when they respawn and when at an inventory station.

Like many games, Tribes Ascend features a level system but it isn’t based on performance, but instead is based on time spent on the game.

Interestingly, Hi-Rez haulted development back in 2013, and then released a new patch, the appropriately named “Out of the Blue” patch, on 10 December 2015. The patch brought with it dramatic changes to the underlying game, and hopefully symbolises a new era for the three-year-old game.

Tribes: Ascend is available to download from the Hi-Rez Studios website.

Threes!

The great thing about playing Threes! online is that you can play even faster with keyboard arrows than you can on your phone. The aim of the game is to build numbers up, which is certainly no easy feat.

You’ll start with some low tiles like 1s and 2s, which you can slide in any direction (but not diagonally). When a 1 and a 2 touch, they combine to form a 3. After that, you join tiles of the same number to form multiples of 3: two 3s make a 6, two 6s make a 12, and so on.

As you move your tiles, even if you don’t manage to merge any in that move, new ones can appear on the grid. Run out of space and it’ll be game over.

The original app for Threes! proved so popular that countless clones appeared, including the arguably better known 2048, but we reckon you should support the original – which you can also grab on iOS or Android.

Play Threes! online here.

Agar.io

Agar.io is incredibly simple to play, and is one of the most satisfying browser-based online games you’ll play.

You start off as a tiny cell, and by absorbing cells (both NPC and players) smaller than you, you gain size and become more of a threat to those around you.

When combined with mechanics that’ll let you split in two or shoot off excess cells (to help speed yourself up), you’re left with a game that’s can be both simple to play, yet incredibly strategic. Plus, XP and reward systems will make you come back time and time again.

 

Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus Gameplay Trailer Confirms Release Date: Bethesda at E3 2017

Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus Gameplay Trailer Confirms Release Date: Bethesda at E3 2017

Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus is the next entry in the Wolfenstein franchise, Bethesda revealed the game with a bombastic trailer that showed off generous amounts of gameplay including dual weapon wielding and a Nazi-occupied America as previous leaks have suggested.

Speaking of leaks, the release date for Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus was also as previously made public. You can play it on October 27 this year on the PS4, PS4 Pro, Xbox One, Xbox One X, and Windows PC.

“An exhilarating adventure brought to life by the industry-leading id Tech 6, Wolfenstein II sends players to Nazi-controlled America on a mission to recruit the boldest resistance leaders left. Fight the Nazis in iconic locations such as small-town Roswell, New Mexico, the flooded streets of New Orleans, and a post-nuclear Manhattan. Equip an arsenal of badass guns, and unleash new abilities to blast your way through legions of advanced Nazi soldiers, cyborgs, and uber soldiers in this definitive first-person shooter,” reads the trailer’s description.
In the run up to Bethesda’s E3 2017 event, Amazon Germany had put up a listing for the game which was then removed. Spotted by members of popular gaming forum NeoGAF, it suggests that Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus has a release date of October 27 this year.

Cleverly disguised at Bethesda’s E3 2016 conference, Wolfenstein 2 : New Colossus takes place in Nazi-occupied America. Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus is developed by Machine Games – the studio behind the excellent Wolfenstein: The New Order and Wolfenstein: The Old Blood.

 

Nintendo at E3 2017: Super Mario Odyssey, Rocket League, and The Legend of Zelda DLC

 

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Super Mario Odyssey releases October 27
  • Rocket League will have local multiplayer on Nintendo Switch
  • The Legend of Zelda’s first DLC, Master Trials, coming June 30

Nintendo’s E3 2017 event was the shortest of the lot, in part because it was a pre-recorded stream. That doesn’t mean there wasn’t enough to be excited about, including a popular third-party title, updates for Nintendo games on the way, and announcements for new games in development. If you don’t have time to watch the half-hour video, here’s a round-up of the biggest news.

Super Mario Odyssey is coming October 27
Though its existence has been known since the start of the year, a new trailer for the exploration-based Super Mario Odyssey shed light on what players can expect from the game: set outside the Mushroom Kingdom, Mario travels to a whole bunch of locations, including lush green tropical forests, deserts with palm trees, mountains, and of course its New York-inspired New Donk City.

While Mario will sport his immediately recognisable red-and-blue jumper for the most part, he’ll don new costumes – such as an all-white three-piece suit among others – during his time in Odyssey. One of the big surprises was the presence of a dinosaur, so there’s no limit to what you can expect from the game.

Super Mario Odyssey will release October 27 for the Nintendo Switch.

Rocket League will have Mario hats and local multiplayer
Since its launch, sport-driving hybrid Rocket League has exploded with the gaming community, being one of the most popular multiplayer titles across Steam and PlayStation at any given time. Now, it’s coming to the Nintendo Switch, where the game will release with exclusive Nintendo-themed items, such as Mario and Luigi hats.

It’ll also support cross-platform play, with players on PC and Xbox One. Much more importantly, Rocket League will have local multiplayer on the Nintendo Switch, which will be unique to that console. It’s great to see Nintendo pushing developers to create LAN multiplayer in their titles, something that has mostly vanished in lieu of online multiplayer.

Rocket League will release during the holiday period for the Switch, so expect it November-December.Nintendo at E3 2017: Super Mario Odyssey, Rocket League, and The Legend of Zelda DLC

Link’s adventures continue with first DLC for The Legend of Zelda
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was a launch title for the Switch, and the initial lack of games for the new Nintendo console meant most owners have more or less finished the game. If you’re one of those, you’ll be happy to know that Nintendo has its first DLC on the way. It’s called The Master Trials, and it will send Link on lots of new adventures.

Aside from new quests, The Master Trials will include The Trial of the Sword, Hero’s Path Mode, and Master Mode, as well as new armour and items. There are four new amiibos on the way too, featuring different in-game champions.

You can get the first DLC for The Legend of Zelda by getting the expansion pass for the game, which costs $19.99 (about Rs. 1,300). Master Trails will be available June 30 on Nintendo Switch.

Xenoblade Chronicles 2 will release later this year
An open-world Japanese role-playing game sequel first announced earlier this year, Xenoblade Chronicles 2 kicked off the Nintendo E3 2017 event with a new trailer. The two protagonists are teenagers – a boy and a girl – who will encounter different enemies during their long journey. As expected, the trailer had multiple references to a “blade” – it’s called Xenoblade – but didn’t provide an exact release date.
Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is sticking to the holiday 2017 release date for the Switch.
Fire Emblem Warriors is out in autumn 2017
Nintendo provided another look at its hack-and-slash addition to the Fire Emblem canon, which will put you in control of multiple characters, including original duo Lian and Zion. Characters will show up from other Fire Emblem games too – Awakening’s Chrom, Shadow Dragon’s prince of Altea Marth, and three from Fates: Ryoma, Xander, and Corrin.

Fire Emblem Warriors will release sometime in the autumn, for the Switch and the New 3DS.
A new Pokemon game, and Metroid Prime 4 are in development
Extremely short on details, but important to players and shareholders, Nintendo announced that a new “Pokemon RPG”, and Metroid Prime 4 are now in development. The first is being made by developer Game Freak, which have crafted every Pokemon game since Pokemon Red and Blue in 1996. Pokemon Company’s Tsunekazu Ishihara said it’s in the early stages, and not to expect release for another year.

The sci-fi exploration-based Metroid Prime 4 got an announcement trailer, on the other hand, which disappointedly featured only the game’s logo. That means the game is early in development, so don’t hold out a release before the end of 2018.
Two working titles called Kirby, and Yoshi
Nintendo showed off a new side-scrolling game called Kirby at its E3 2017 presser, which finds the little pink ball going on adventures with melee weapons, changing its shape, and even being joined by his friends, with up to three other characters. Knowing the Switch, it’s very likely the game will have on-device and/or local multiplayer.
The other working is called Yoshi, which seems to be inspired by Yoshi’s Woolly World. Carrying eggs and collecting coins, it seems to perfectly fit Nintendo’s family-friendly aesthetic and style. The Yoshi game too seems to allow for local multiplayer, with the trailer showing two different-coloured Yoshi characters helping each other complete the courses.

There are no release dates for both titles, except to say they will release sometime in 2018.

 

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild DLC Details and Release Date Revealed: E3 2017

 

HIGHLIGHTS
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild got two DLC packs
These will be available on the Nintendo Switch and Wii U
The DLC packs are available under an expansion pass for $20
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild has become one of the most successful games Nintendo has ever made. Making a Zelda game a launch title for the Nintendo Switch now looks to be a masterstroke as it was welcoming towards newbies and experienced players alike. Prior to the game’s release Nintendo stated that the game would get a season pass. Details at the time on what exact this would entail were sparse. That is of course until now.The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild DLC Details and Release Date Revealed: E3 2017

The first of these is called The Legend of Zelda: The Master Trials. From the gameplay trailer we saw at E3 2017, this features a series of challenges where you tackle monsters of all sizes and continue your adventures in the kingdom of Hyrule. The footage shows Link taking on various monsters with a bunch of new armor types and even a new mask called Korok Mask. There’s even a Master Mode, where you take on tough challenges such as taking on what appears to be a golem.

The second DLC is called The Legend of Zelda: The Champions’ Ballad. The trailer footage starts with a sepia-tone montage and some sorrowful music telling the story of champions of the Zelda universe. These champions include Mipha, Daruk, Revali, and Urbosa. All four are available as amiibo for The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
Both these DLC packs are available under a single expansion pass for The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. This pass will cost $19.99 (roughly Rs. 1,300). The Master Trials DLC Pack 1 will be available on June 30, 2017, while The Champions’ Ballad – DLC Pack 2 will be available during 2017’s holiday season. Both DLC packs will be available for Nintendo Switch and Wii U.

 

Bihar Board Class 10 Result 2017 declared at biharboard.ac.in; 51 per cent pass the exam

The result of Class 10 board exam has been finally declared today, on June 22, by the Bihar School Examination Board (BSEB) at 2 pm.

Result declared

Result declared

The result of Class 10 board exam has been finally declared today, on June 22, by the Bihar School Examination Board (BSEB) as per NDTV report. The candidates who had appeared for the same are required check their respective scores at the official website biharboard.ac.in. Over 17 lakh students from Bihar appeared for matriculate (class 10) board examination this year.

The BSEB Class 10 exams were held from March 1 to March 8. Results for Class 12th Intermediate examinations were also declared on May 30.

Grace marks

As per reports, in a major relief to students, the Board said that it will give eight grace marks to class 10 board students.

Why grace marks?

The Board had sent a proposal to the state government requesting permission to award eight grace marks, according to a report by Prabhat Khabar. As per reports, it seems like by giving grace marks improvement in pass percentage of class10 results could be seen.

According to a moneycontrol report, the results were earlier expected to be announced around 11 am today, but were postponed  due to the swearing-in of Keshari Nath Tripathi as caretaker Governor of Bihar.

(Read: Bihar Board BSEB Class 10 students to get 8 grace marks)

Steps to check the result

  • Log on to the official website, biharboard.ac.in
  • Click on ‘Bihar board Class 10 matric results 2017’
  • In the provided fields, enter your roll number
  • Click on submit
  • Your result will be displayed on the screen
  • Download the same and take print out for future reference

Sony consolidating its flagships is probably for the best

 

Despite not performing as well as many of the other big brands in the smartphone business, Sony has made it clear that it will stick it out in the handset market. The latest reports suggest that the company has two more flagship models heading our way this year.

While still unconfirmed, it appears that Sony is looking to consolidate its premium tier of smartphones with its upcoming releases. A move that I believe not only makes financial sense, but is likely to help the company’s struggling brand awareness too. Even if this means that a few consumer favourites, such as the Compact range, may be sacrificed.

Xperia XYZ

Sony has long been criticized for releasing too many smartphones, and this goes right back to the days of the Z1, Z3, and Z3+, etc. Arguably, the situation has become even more confusing in the past year or so, following Sony’s adoption of its Premium and Performance branding.

400 quatloos to whoever can detail the differences between the Xperia XZ, XZs, XZ Premium, X Compact, X Performance, and the regular X model off the top of their head.

400 quatloos to whoever can detail the differences between the Xperia XZ, XZs, XZ Premium, X Compact, X Performance, and the regular X model off the top of their head. Remember, that’s just over one year’s worth of premium tier releases from Sony. While we enthusiasts have the benefit of breaking down spec sheets for fun, imagine how bewildering this range would look stacked up on a physical store display. How would you pick?

It’s no wonder that marketing seems completely absent for so many of Sony’s phones, yet a clear cut message and notable differentiation is essential when trying to market premium tier products to consumers. By cutting out its “Premium Standard” models – which includes the Xperia X and X Compact – Sony will almost certainly see an improvement to consumer understanding of its product range. This instantly helps with marketing and will importantly make its product range easier to breakdown and compare to other flagship models.

That being said, releasing four premium tier products a year is still probably a couple too many. Although if there’s a notable differentiation between some of them, such as a Compact or Phablet model released part way through the year ala LG’s V series or Samsung’s Note, then this might just fly.

It’s time to cut costs

Furthermore, eliminating the diversity of its top-tier products could be a sensible cost cutting measure for a company whose mobile division pulls in considerably less revenue than the likes of Apple and Samsung. We know that Sony Mobile has been underperforming financially for a while now, so this is a much needed move.

Even if Sony doesn’t actually cut down the number of high-end products it releases each year, it’s still looking like four, manufacturing phones with more components in common saves hugely on costs. Component stock can be shared between models, meaning that Sony won’t get caught out holding a lot of mid-tier processors if a phone doesn’t sell. Similarly, software development and support costs and times are lowered, as chip and hardware feature implementations can be shared.

Currently, across Sony’s Premium Standard and Flagship models you’ll find a Snapdragon 650, 820, and 835, combined with a selection of 4K, 1080p, and 720p panels and various Quick Charge implementations. Distilling this down to a single core specification but packaged in different sized units, as Samsung is does with the S8 and S8 Plus, would be more cost effective. But we’ll have to wait and see if that’s actually what Sony has planned.

The drawbacks

Of course, such a move makes it inevitable that some of Sony’s more interesting products will disappear. The Compact range remains a favourite of those who want a powerful phone in a small form factor, but it’s always been a more niche product than more profitable phablets. It’s likely that the Compact range will be a casualty if Sony follows through with this plan, unless the company makes an unlikely move and releases a sub 5-inch flagship as one of its two releases reportedly planned for later in the year.

The Compact range remains a favourite of those who want a powerful phone in a small form factor, but it’s likely to be a casualty of Sony’s reshuffle.

Similarly, the value proposition of the Xperia X also looks set to disappear. While this diversity is part of Sony’s problem, there’s something to be said about offering a cost competitive alternative to the big players in order to gain market share. I don’t know how well this would work out for Sony as a Plan A, but the overshadowed Xperia X didn’t exactly seem like a solid commitment that we could use to gauge consumer appetite from. Sony would clearly rather view itself competing at the premium tier rather than fighting it out in the bargain bin.

These and other interesting products, such as the Z Ultra, have previously helped Sony stand out, and there is a risk that simply copying the a formula used by others could cause Sony’s Xperia handsets to become further lost in the crowd, especially if the hardware isn’t all that different between generations.

Could Sony consolidate further?

Perhaps then, simply reshuffling its flagship models doesn’t go far enough to revamp the company’s image and portfolio in a way that will make a meaningful difference. In reality, it looks like Sony is essentially going back to its previous method of two major announcements a year, which will probably be just as infuriating as it was with the Xperia Z series.

Instead, I think Sony could do with being bolder, releasing yet fewer products but with a clearer purpose to each. Really, only one major flagship per year is required, with perhaps a secondary product released to maintain momentum. Apple, Samsung, LG, and to a lesser extent Huawei have done quite well using this model.

I would quite happily take a bells and whistles flagship Xperia launch at the start of the year, followed up by a compelling aggressively priced S or Compact model part way through the year to cater to those who didn’t fancy splashing the cash on one of the year’s flagships. Two meaningful handsets that don’t cannibalize each other and that could be marketed with a suitable budget to finally give the brand some much needed recognition. But what do I know?

 

The 10 best Android apps for Chromebooks

 

Running Android apps on Chromebooks is still a dream—a dream in extended beta, that is. After promising the feature earlier this year, Google has pushed out the release date.

While a select number of Chromebooks can access Google Play right out of the box, more adventurous Chromebook users will need to run the developer beta of Chrome OS to experience Android apps. After spending time with a number of Android apps that have become Chrome-friendly, I actually prefer some Android versions on Chrome over the web-based versions, as mobile apps can be refreshingly simple and uncluttered.chromebook chrome os

To get into the beta channel, go to your Chromebook’s Settings page and click About Chrome OS. Next, click Detailed build information, then click Change Channel. There, you can switch from the stable channel to the beta channel. You should steer clear of the developer channel, however, as that will definitely be unstable.

The 10 Android apps below represent how good it could be on Chrome once everything becomes official. Just remember, this is beta software, so tread carefully. If things go awry, you can always go back to stable channel or Powerwash your Chromebook and start over.

Microsoft Outlook

android apps chromebook outlook

Derek Walter/IDG

Sure, Gmail is great and all, but like many you might have an Office 365 email address assigned by your company. If that’s the case, you’ll want to grab the Microsoft Outlook Android application for your Chromebook. Unlike the web app, you can use Outlook to manage multiple accounts and access your messages offline. It even handles Gmail accounts if you want to use Outlook as your all-in-one email application.

Newton Mail

android apps chromebook newton mail

Derek Walter/IDG

Perhaps you want to extend the capabilities of your email app by connecting it to your favorite services. Newton Mail (formerly CloudMagic) has several built-in plugins for common services like Trello, Todoist, OneNote, and Salesforce. You can quickly zap emails over to those apps with just a couple of taps.

Newton Mail is clean and works well, but don’t get too attached unless you want to pay the $50-per-year fee for full access.

Samsung Galaxy Note 8 render hits the web, price is also out

 

From the image below, you can see that the screen-to-body ratio of the Galaxy Note 8 is better than that of the flagship smartphones – Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+. We have already come across this information, thanks to a previous leak. Also, the latest leaked render suggests that the Galaxy Note 8 will have a 6.3-inch display that goes in line with the previous rumors. This screen is believed to have a QHD 1440p resolution. But the chances to expect a 4K display are high if Samsung wants to focus on VR. The latest leak suggests that the Galaxy Note 8 might be priced around €999 (approx. Rs. 72,000). At such a premium price point, it is possible for the device to arrive with a 4K display. Another noticeable feature is the rear-mounted fingerprint sensor, which wasn’t seen on the previous leaks. It seems to be positioned under the dual-lens rear camera setup. Samsung is believed to make use of two 12MP camera sensors at the back with OIS. Talking about the other details as tipped by the previous speculations, the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 slated to be unveiled in late August ahead of IFA 2017 is likely to feature Snapdragon 836 SoC. The upcoming chipset is claimed to be paired with either 6GB or 8GB RAM and up to 256GB of default memory capacity. The other aspects include a 3300mAh battery and DeX support as well.