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This week in games: Blizzard sics DeepMind on its StarCraft II players, Cuphead heads to Netflix

PC World - Fri, 2019-07-12 15:14

Steam’s Summer Sale is over, which means summer is well and truly underway. I hope you’re all having a good July, the only month of the year where games sort-of stop releasing for a bit. I know I am.

There’s still plenty of news thoughteases for Control and other August releases, plus Blizzard sics the AlphaStar AI on its StarCraft II players, The Bard’s Tale IV gets a director’s cut, Cuphead is getting a Netflix cartoon, Amazon announces a Lord of the Rings MMO, and Ion Maiden bows to Iron Maiden.

This is gaming news for July 8 to 12.

Free for the ages

Steam’s free games are usually free-to-try, not free-to-keep, but this week’s the rare exception. With Age of Wonders: Planetfall due out on August 6, Triumph’s made its previous game Age of Wonders III free to drum up excitement. You can grab it here from now through July 15.

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Apple TV+ original shows, series, and movies: Apple teams up with BBC for comedy series 'Alabama'

Mac World - Fri, 2019-07-12 12:42

Apple is said to be spending a couple billion dollars over 2018 and 2019 on the development of exclusive original programming. That’s a lot of TV! It’s nothing compared to the $12 billion Netflix spent on content in 2018, but it’s still a very big investment.

What can you get for a couple billion dollars? Apple hopes to attract some of the best talent in TV and film production, including huge stars and directors, and to lock down the television and movie rights to best-selling books. Though the company has only given us a glimpse at a handful of shows, the Hollywood trade press has uncovered many more through its reporting on deals from casting agents and production companies.

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Google defends 'critical' Assistant language experts who listen to your recordings

PC World - Fri, 2019-07-12 10:59

A report this week by VRT NWS seemingly outed Google employees for listening to users’ Assistant recordings. Now Google wants you to understand that they were just doing their job.

The Belgian broadcaster got ahold of the recordings after Dutch audio data was leaked by a Google employee. VRT says they received more than a thousand Google Assistant excerpts in the file dump, and they “could clearly hear addresses and other sensitive information.” The outlet then was able to match recordings to the people who made them.

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iOS 13: How to automatically close Safari tabs

Mac World - Fri, 2019-07-12 08:00

Quick—open up Safari on your iPhone and hit the View Tabs button in the bottom right.

If your phone is like mine, you’ve got a stack with dozens of tabs... leftover pages opened from social media posts, movie times from the film I saw weeks ago, search results, you name it. I don’t need any of that stuff anymore, but it’s kind of a pain to go swiping through all my open tabs every few weeks to clean out the cruft.

Fortunately, iOS 13 adds a new feature to Safari that can automatically close tabs after a period of time. It’s easy to set, if you know where to look.

  1. First, open the Settings app.

  2. Then scroll down to Safari settings and tap on that.

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Does Apple’s simplified Mac lineup have a hole in it?

Mac World - Fri, 2019-07-12 07:00

When Steve Jobs came back to Apple, one of his early moves was to vastly simplify what had become a bloated line-up of Mac hardware. Jobs famously showed off a two-by-two product grid: pro and consumer, desktop and portable. Filling the grid were four products—iMac, PowerMac, iBook, PowerBook—each addressing one of those combinations.

The two-by-two grid lasted for several years, until the debut of the category-busting Mac mini in 2005. Since then, there’s been an almost magnetic impulse to cite the grid as the holy grail of Apple product design aspirations. Every time Apple releases something a new Mac, pundits try desperately to figure out how to shove the latest addition into the already bulging grid.

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GOG Galaxy 2.0 hands-on: The only game launcher you need? Not yet, but maybe someday

PC World - Fri, 2019-07-12 06:30

While Valve and Epic battle over storefront supremacy, there’s another battle quietly looming. As complaints mount against the proliferation of storefronts, there’s a chance for someone to make the ur-storefront. I’m talking of course about the launcher that will unify all the other launchers, the one launcher to rule them all and—in the darkness of your hard drive—bind them.

And GOG’s taken an early shot at it. Building off its Galaxy launcher, which was once a mere repository and auto-updater for your GOG library, it’s now begun rolling out “Galaxy 2.0” to a select few, including us. I’ve spent the last week or so testing its capabilities to see if I’m ready to condense my launcher loadout.

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Graphics card massacre: 6 GPUs you absolutely should not buy right now

PC World - Fri, 2019-07-12 06:03

What a week it’s been for gaming nerds. Over the past seven days, AMD kicked off its next GPU generation with the $350 Radeon RX 5700 and $400 Radeon RX 5700 XT, while Nvidia countered its rival by launching a barrage of souped-up GeForce RTX “Super” graphics cards. The $400 GeForce RTX 2060 Super and $500 GeForce RTX 2070 launched on July 9, with a faster GeForce RTX 2080 Super scheduled to land on July 23.

The RTX Super cards effectively shift performance down a pricing tier. The GeForce RTX 2060 Super performs on a par with the original $500 RTX 2070, and the new RTX 2070 Super is almost as powerful as the original $800 RTX 2080. AMD’s Radeon duo, meanwhile, outpunches their direct GeForce competition in raw frame rates despite Nvidia’s attempted Super spoiler.

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Aerosmith: Deuces Are Wild: A behind-the-scenes look at the advanced audio technology in a very unique live show

PC World - Fri, 2019-07-12 06:00
An in-depth look at one of the first THX-certified concert venues that enables Aerosmith to deliver live, immersive rock-and-roll performances.

Best home security camera: Keep an eye on the home front

PC World - Fri, 2019-07-12 06:00
A boom in wireless security cameras is inspiring a movement in DIY home surveillance. Follow our buying guide and read our reviews to find the best option for you.

Aerosmith: Deuces Are Wild: A behind-the-scenes look at the advanced audio technology in a very unique live show

Mac World - Fri, 2019-07-12 06:00
An in-depth look at one of the first THX-certified concert venues that enables Aerosmith to deliver live, immersive rock-and-roll performances.

ExpanDrive 7 review: Number seven not all lucky for Mac cloud storage utility

Mac World - Fri, 2019-07-12 06:00

By the time an application reaches version 7.0, users anticipate fewer whiz-bang new features as developers focus on refining core functionality and required compatibility updates. The question then becomes, has the software improved enough to justify buying an upgrade to the latest and greatest version, often on an annual basis?

Such is the case with ExpanDrive, a venerable macOS utility that mounts cloud and network-attached storage in the Finder so you can more or less use them like locally-attached volumes. Despite a recent focus on eye candy, it’s what’s under the hood that makes the latest update worth a look.

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Best home security camera: Keep an eye on the home front

Mac World - Fri, 2019-07-12 06:00
A boom in wireless security cameras is inspiring a movement in DIY home surveillance. Follow our buying guide and read our reviews to find the best option for you.

Best PDF editors: Reviewed and rated

PC World - Thu, 2019-07-11 20:06

Though it’s nearly 25 years old, the PDF may be more useful than ever in our increasingly multi-device, cross-platform world. Much of the time you can get by with a free PDF reader to review and comment on these files. But inevitably, particularly in a business setting, you’ll need to edit a PDF file and that usually requires upgrading to a premium PDF editor.

Best PDF editors 2019
  • Adobe Acrobat Pro DC: Best overall [adobe.com]
  • Nitro Pro 12: Runner up [gonitro.com]
  • PDF Architect 6 Professional: Best budget option [pdfforge.org]

Historically, Adobe Acrobat has been the best option, but it has also been the most expensive, often putting it out of reach of individuals and small businesses. That has given rise to a wealth of alternatives with varying features and costs. We looked at several top PDF editors to see what they offer and how they stack up against each other. See below for why we choose our top picks, and scroll to the bottom to see all of our PDF reviews.

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The PC market grows unexpectedly, thanks to tariff fears and the Windows 7 transition

PC World - Thu, 2019-07-11 19:58

The PC market benefited from a higher number of Intel processors and the Windows 7 transition to record a higher-than-anticipated 4.7 percent year-over-year growth, IDC said late Thursday. President Trump even contributed.

Overall, 64.858 million PCs were sold worldwide, IDC said, a 4.7 percent increase. A year ago, HP topped the list of worldwide vendors. For the second quarter, however, a whopping 18.2-percent increase in year-over-year sales propelled China's Lenovo to the top of the list.

In part, that may be because tariff fears prompted PC vendors to stuff the channel, IDC said, selling laptops out of China before possible tariffs raised their prices. Otherwise, the two factors that contributed most were Intel's ability to ship microprocessors once again without supply constraints, as well as the looming end of support for Microsoft's Windows 7 in January 2020. That, IDC said, is spurring corporations to invest in new PC hardware. 

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MacBook lineup revamp, Apple after Jony Ive, Zoom security vulnerability, your hot takes, and more

Mac World - Thu, 2019-07-11 19:00

Major changes to Apple’s MacBook lineup! Has Zoom made your Mac vulnerable to hackers? What will Apple be like without Jony Ive? And your hot takes! That's all in this episode of the Macworld Podcast.

This is episode 658 with Jason Cross, Leif Johnson, Roman Loyola, and Michael Simon.

Listen to episode 658

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Microsoft brings new ways to pester your coworkers to Microsoft Teams

PC World - Thu, 2019-07-11 18:39

Microsoft claims that its Teams collaboration tool now has 13 million active daily users. But a few new features may not exactly be welcomed by those who use it.

Employers will probably love the fact that a new Time Clock feature will allow employees to clock in and out, including for breaks. Employees may not appreciate the fact that those notifications can be geofenced, meaning that if you’re not quite back in your office when you say you are, your employer will know.

Microsoft

Announcements are now part of Microsoft Teams.

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The best graphics cards for PC gaming

PC World - Thu, 2019-07-11 16:19

“What graphics card within my budget gives me the best bang for my buck?”

That simple question cuts to the core of what people hunting for a new graphics card look for: the most oomph they can afford. Sure, the technological leaps behind each new GPU can be interesting on their own, but most everyone just wants to crank up the detail settings on Battlefield and get right to playing.

Gaming GPU cheat sheet

Our quick-hit recommendations:

  • Best budget GPU: Radeon RX 570 [amazon.com]
  • Best 1080p GPU: GeForce GTX 1660 [amazon.com]
  • Best 1440p GPU: Radeon RX 5700 [amazon.com]
  • Best 4K/60Hz GPU: GeForce RTX 2070 Super [GeForce.com] or Radeon RX 5700 XT [amazon.com]
  • Best 4K/144Hz GPU: GeForce RTX 2080 Ti Founders EditionRemove non-product link [BestBuy.com]

Updated July 11, 2019 to add the Radeon RX 5700 series and Nvidia’s GeForce RTX Super graphics cards, and remove the “Best $500 graphics card” category in their wake.

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Valve's intriguing 'Steam Labs' experiments help you find new games to play in a sea of releases

PC World - Thu, 2019-07-11 13:00

Steam is enormous, and growing more so by the day. And that presents a problem: How the hell do you find anything that isn’t already on your radar? It’s less a needle in a haystack, more a needle in a hayfield—and that’s after Valve tried to solve the problem once already, with 2014’s Discovery Update.

Five years later, it’s time to try again. This time, Valve’s approach is a bit more advanced—and a bit more scattershot. Under the umbrella of Steam Labs, Valve’s rolling out three new experiments that should hopefully streamline the discovery process and help you find the odd diamond among Steam’s 30,000 game library.

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Best MacBook: Which Mac laptop should you buy?

Mac World - Thu, 2019-07-11 11:25

You’re planning on buying a new Mac laptop. So you head over to your local Apple store, or you peruse the pages of Apple’s website, and you find yourself with money to spend but no idea on which MacBook to buy.

Don’t worry! That’s why we’re here. In this guide, we’ll go over Apple’s current MacBook lineup, point out their differences and similarities, and provide you with the information you need to pick the right MacBook for you.

The affordable choice: MacBook Air

Longtime Mac users may remember when the MacBook Air made its debut years ago as Apple’s entry into the ultra-portable laptop market. But times have changed, and starting in 2015, the MacBook was repositioned as Apple’s affordable laptop.

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Apple temporarily disables Walkie Talkie on Apple Watch over eavesdropping concerns

PC World - Thu, 2019-07-11 10:22
Apple has temporarily disabled the Walkie Talkie app on the Apple Watch because a security flaw can let outsiders listen to your iPhone without consent.

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