Vivo Users To Receive Android Oreo Update

A slew of Vivo smartphones are about to get an update to Android Oreo. According to a post on the company’s forum site indicates that the X20 will be the first to receive a beta test of the update in April; with the X20 Plus, X9s, Xplay 6, X9, X9s Plus and X9 Plus to follow.
Vivo hasn’t put out a date on when the actual update will be available but it is coming at some point. It’s also unknown how long the beta will last before Vivo is confident on pushing out a stable version of the OS.

The update will introduce new Android Oreo-specific features, and also a new version of Vivo’s Funtouch OS. Users can expect new Android Oreo features such as the picture-in-picture mode, Google password autofill function, faster boot up time and more. On the other hand, there hasn’t been any indication of what new features will be added to the new Funtouch OS – its customised Android interface.

Vivo is getting ready to release its big ticket item for the beginning of the year in the X20 Plus UD. It’s likely that we will see what new Funtouch OS features appearing in the new device.
(Source: Android Headlines)
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LG’s V30s To Come With New Camera And AI Features

With MWC 2018 nearing our doorsteps, many corporate rumours are beginning to take shape. Word on the street is that there is an updated version of the LG V30 smartphone – supposedly called the V30s – with a brand new AI camera, and a multitude of AI-centric features.
The Korean giant noted on its site that its new Vision AI feature will “make the camera of the LG V30 even smarter and easier to use.” That statement alone confirms that LG is also hoping to jump aboard the AI and machine learning bandwagon with its smartphone.

LG noted that its ‘LG Lens’ could function in the same way that the Google Lens on the Pixel 2 or Bixby Vision on Samsung’s Galaxy S8 series works. In other words, the camera should theoretically be able to recognise objects that are in its view, and then provide on-screen information of the subject in real-time.
The site goes on to say that Vision AI will “automatically analyses objects and recommends the best shooting mode from among eight modes: portrait, food, pet, landscape, city, flower, sunrise, and sunset.”
News of the LG V30s began appearing as early as last week, many having suggested that the only major changes to the phone will be the inclusion of the new LG Lens and a massive 256GB internal storage capacity. Sadly, there’s no indication if LG intends to make this phone one of the first few flagship models to ship out with the Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon 845 chipset.
(Source: LG via The Verge, Engadget, NDTV)
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Nvidia Will Unveil Consumer-grade Turing GPU In March

It looks like we will soon be hearing from Nvidia regarding its next consumer-grade GPU, which will be used on future GeForce graphics cards. It’s important to note that Turing may possibly be a codename and not an architectural name. Turing GPUs may still be based on Nvidia’s Volta GPU architecture.
Folks at Reuters have apparently summarised Nvidia’s Q4 2017 results and outlook and have found that the company is indeed working on a new GPU for gamers. Knowing how Turing GPUs will be used on GeForce graphics cards, it’ll be unlikely that they’ll be seen on Quadro and Tesla products.

That said, improvements and features that may come with Turing GPUs were not mentioned in the Reuters report. Then again, given the eye opening performance numbers that come with Volta GPUs, consumers can expect Turning chips to be rather impressive in terms of gaming performance.
For those who may not be aware, Volta GPUs are currently only made available on enterprise-grade graphics cards. Despite the fact that Turing GPUs may be launched by Nvidia next month, it remains to be seen whether new graphics cards will be unveiled at the same time as well. We’ll just have to wait and see.
(Source: Reuters)
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Asus Updates New ZenBook 13 Line With Discrete GPU

Asus may have only just announced a new line of ZenBook 13 last month at CES, but that hasn’t stopped it from introducing yet another model just before Chinese New Year. This version of the ZenBook 13 sports a discrete graphics card; while still maintaining its slim profile.
The ZenBook 13 UX331 appeared on US based Asus stores featuring the same 13.3-inch HD display as the versions announced in Las Vegas. As well as the an Intel Core i5-8250, 8GB LPDDR3 RAM, and a 256GB SSD. That said, the main attraction here is the addition of an Nvidia GeForce MX150 graphics card with 2GB GDDR5 RAM.
This replaces the Intel HD 620 graphics on the other models, but doesn’t appear to have added much weight or thickness to the machine. A fact that allows the ZenBook 13 UX331 to maintain its Ultrabook branding from Intel.

Adding a GPU is likely to reduce the amount of battery life one gets out of the ZenBook. That said, Asus had promised up to 15 hours of power during its original announcement; a small hit to this number is unlikely to matter much.
The Asus ZenBook 13 UX331 is being sold for $999 (RM3900) through Asus’ online store; with no telling how long it will take for this model to arrive in Malaysia.
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Pokemon Go Isn’t Dead, After All

It is now 18 months to the day Pokemon Go was released in Malaysia. It’s seen some heady days – and some strong criticism – but it looks like this game is growing up just fine. It may have lost tens of millions of active users, but developers Niantic has weaved in a number of fresh features that was sorely lacking in the game’s early days.
I mentioned a few glaring issues with Pokemon GO within two weeks of the game’s release in Malaysia, and to be fair, Niantic has slowly been improving the game with new features to keep the game fresh – while maintaining a steady stream of revenue via in-app purchases.
Introduction of Raids

After the initial hype, Niantic was facing a major crisis. Pokemon Go was bleeding users – from the initial 100 million active users down to “just” 65 million, the developer was in a race to find a solution to the increasingly mundane gameplay – and fix its gym problem.
The gym revamp as well as the introduction of gym raids in June last year are two of the most important additions to the game. In one stroke, Niantic added a sorely-needed social element to the game and rebalanced the frustrating gym defending issue. It took Niantic quite a while, but the new 6-Pokemon gym with CP decay finally ensured every Trainer had a chance to earn PokeCoins. It isn’t perfect, and it has its own set of issues, but it definitely is an improvement we can all live with.
But it’s the introduction of raids that got players coming back. Here was a way for new Trainers to catch up to experienced Trainers by giving them a chance to battle – and then capture – a various high-level rare Pokemon like Tyranitar, Snorlax, and many more without hunting for them in the wild. Niantic also introduced Legendary Pokemon as Raid bosses, where they are only available in the game as Raid bosses for a specific time frame. Each Legendary are great attackers, which makes them very useful additions to every Trainer.

More importantly, it also enticed those who stopped playing – myself included – to pick up the game once again. The element of luck (of finding that rare Pokemon spawn) was eradicated, and high level raids are usually popular to bring many Trainers to head over and take the raid boss down. The generous rewards (huge XP, as well as various in-game items) are sometimes enough of a reason to go for a gym raid.
For Niantic, this was a masterstroke. Gym raids require a Raid Pass, which is given out for free once a day, after which Trainers can purchase Premium Raid Passes to continue raiding. At 100 PokeCoins (RM1.90), it gives Niantic a new stream of revenue from Trainers.
And then it introduced Mewtwo as an invite-only Legendary Boss Raid.
The Mewtwo Effect

Arguably the best Pokemon in the game, Mewtwo is available via an invite-only gym raid. Known as an EX Raid, Trainers need to “qualify” for an invite, with the criteria of successfully defeating a raid boss at specific gyms. Trainers need to only successfully raid once to qualify, but since the invite algorithms are relatively unknown, many hardcore Trainers end up vigorously raiding at gyms known to give out EX Raid invites in the hopes of increasing their chances of getting an invite.
Having Mewtwo in a Trainer’s arsenal isn’t game-changing, but it is appealing for many sets of Pokemon Go players. For completionists who wish to unlock all Pokemon in their Pokedex. Mewtwo is a must-have. For high-level Trainers, it means amassing an army of strong attackers.
As a result, you’ll see many people in parks or playgrounds on weekends, camping nearby known EX Raid gyms while waiting for a raid boss to appear. It is definitely a grind, resulting in many frustrated Trainers when they don’t receive the invite.
The EX Raid system remains a prickly issue, especially when high-level Trainers do not receive the invite while new Trainers who do not put in as much effort gets them.
Those who do get invited are an increasingly large group of Trainers. EX Raids, naturally, are an exciting affair. Since EX Raids take place at specific gyms at a specific time, these raids become a proper event for invited Trainers. I got to experience it for myself recently at two separate EX Raids in Subang and Petaling Jaya:

The social element

Pokemon Go’s Gym Raids finally introduced a social element to the game that was designed to get people out and about. It isn’t the most-demanded social feature – player-versus-player (PvP) and trading remain a strong request among high-level Trainers – but until Niantic finds a balance for that, we won’t be seeing the feature implemented.
What Gym Raids has done is to add a new dimension to a game whose gameplay was becoming increasingly mundane. Chat groups began sprouting, as players who live or work at a specific location decide it’s a better idea to share information on upcoming raids (or rare spawns) to ensure there are enough Trainers to successfully defeat the raid boss. These chat groups are usually very lively, and consist of a mix of high-level and casual Trainers. There is also a Pokemon Go Malaysia group page on Facebook, with 65000 members.
At EX Raids, it quickly becomes apparent that these chat groups have become Pokemon Go communities of their own. They see each other at raids so often that Pokemon Go becomes a binding factor for these players, who are from all walks of life – it is safe to say that these Trainers would not have been friends if it weren’t for this game. Few games can accomplish this level of community, but Pokemon Go definitely has achieved something special.
Spoofing remains an issue

That being said, Niantic still has a big issue to address in Pokemon Go. Spoofers – Trainers who use GPS-spoofing apps to easily move around in the game without actually moving anywhere in real life – remain a frustrating pain point for Pokemon Go. It is a cat-and-mouse game for Niantic and spoofers – when one spoofing identifier gets fixed, another workaround pops up.
Niantic tried shaming spoofers, but that didn’t work. It also issued soft bans where spoofers can only see common Pokemon spawns, but it is merely an irritant. Spoofers themselves are also smarter, moving around within the parameters set by the game (there is a maximum movement limit for a period of time before the Trainer is flagged by the game system).
Spoofers take away the joy of the game for legitimate players. Those who have gotten away with spoofing can easily amass thousands of PokeCoins in the early gym system, and while the new gym system is an improvement, spoofers need only locate rural gyms to continue farming for coins – the CP decay in the new gym system almost guarantees someone will take the gym down eventually.

The PokeCoin advantage is one thing, it’s the list of “perfect” Pokemon spoofers have that really breaks the game for legitimate players. With the variety of Pokemon scanning apps and websites around (which itself is a grey area between what’s fair and what’s cheating), spoofers need only obtain the GPS coordinates to 100% IV Pokemon (each Pokemon spawns with a random Individual Value (IV) score, which determines how strong or weak it is), “fly” to the location, catch it, and simply power it up. These Pokemon are stronger and more difficult to defeat in gyms, which adds another layer of difficulty to legitimate players who grind to get even one decent Pokemon.
Raids help alleviate the situation to a certain extent, but spoofers can raid too, using the hoard of PokeCoins they have.
Cheaters will forever be a game developer’s most difficult challenge, and it looks likely that spoofing will be a pain point in the game for the foreseeable future.
The future of Pokemon Go

Nevertheless, Niantic has proven that it is still working hard to improve the game overall. The raids are a great addition, and the recent introduction of weather effects coinciding with the release of Generation 3 Pokemon are yet another demonstration of the developers’ commitment.
Weather effects boost specific Pokemon Types in different weather. Rainy weather increases the spawn rate – and stronger – Water-type Pokemon, for example. This makes it a lot easier to farm for different types of Pokemon, as well as the chances of encountering high IV Pokemon. Raid Bosses are also affected by weather, which makes raiding a weather boosted Legendary Pokemon all the more rewarding.
Once again, this move clearly makes it easier for casual, low-level, and returning Trainers to catch up to high-level Trainers. Niantic is pulling all the stops to ensure players are actively engaged in the game.
But it is an upcoming feature that will surely reinvigorate the game once again.

In a datamine for the latest version of Pokemon Go, there are hints of a revamp in daily bonuses for active Trainers. Currently, Trainers who spin at least one PokeStop and catch at least one Pokemon get daily spin and catch bonuses, which gets rewarding over time – the 7th day bonus offers a huge amount of XP, stardust, and item rewards.
It appears Niantic is looking to add on to this bonuses with an upcoming Quests feature. The datamine hints at daily quests, which may involve easy to complete tasks to earn bonuses, as well as longer-term quests that require Trainers to pass a certain condition. This element borrows heavily from other mobile games to ensure players keep coming back, and adds another layer of purpose to the game – and then be rewarded for it.
At a time when Raids are slowly becoming repetitive, this is definitely welcome news. The introduction of Quests is genuinely exciting, depending on how Niantic implements it. Completing quests and challenges that adequately rewards Trainers is a huge breath of fresh air, and almost guarantees greater engagement from players.
It certainly looks like Pokemon Go isn’t quite as dead as many people think.
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AMD Ryzen 5 2400G Review: Strong Performance, Exceptional Value

In early 2017, AMD Ryzen processors began to make their way into the market. From there on, the market’s dynamics for desktop PCs have started to change as AMD finally has very competitive products on its hands.
The popularity of Ryzen processors have certainly delivered a positive impact to the company, but there is still something missing in the equation. Since all the Ryzen processors that were released last year are pure CPUs, consumers need to purchase a separate graphics card in order to utilize the chip, as opposed to Intel Core mainstream processors which comes with their own integrated graphics (IGP).

As known by many, Intel’s IGP might not be that great but the all-in-one solution is still relevant for a significant part of the market. So, that is what AMD is going to rectify in 2018 through the launch of its Raven Ridge desktop APUs yesterday, which offers the power of the company’s Zen CPU and Vega GPU in one single package.
Not only that, the company has also claimed that its brand-new APUs are powerful enough for gaming – something that you don’t usually associate with integrated graphics. Available in two models, the Ryzen 5 2400G has more firepower as compared to the lower-end Ryzen 3 2200G:

Now, let’s see how the new chip performs throughout our tests.
Test System

The AMD Ryzen 5 2500G review kit, which includes the chip, motherboard, RAM, and cooler is on loan from AMD.
The monitor used in this review is the ASUS ROG Swift PG27AQ 4K Gaming Monitor, courtesy of ASUS Malaysia.
The Cooler Master MasterWatt 750W PSU in the test system is courtesy of Cooler Master Malaysia.
The WD Blue 3D NAND SATA SSD in the test system is courtesy of Western Digital Malaysia.
Performance Tests
Click to view slideshow.
We used a set of software that represents several tasks that users might perform with the chip. Almost all of these applications depend on CPU capabilities rather than the GPU.
In general, the results that were achieved by Ryzen 5 2400G are within the same range of the AMD Ryzen 5 1500X stand-alone CPU that we tested last year. This shows the strong CPU foundation that is contained within the new chip.
Gaming Tests
Click to view slideshow.
Alongside 3DMark tests, we also ran three different game titles that represent three different graphics technologies. With the exception of Doom, Rise of The Tomb Raider and Witcher 3 are still quite challenging for the chip despite being released into the market a few years ago.
On the Ryzen 5 2400G, these two games are mainly playable at above 30fps when their graphic settings are set to 720p resolution and medium graphics quality. This should hold true for many of the newer graphics-intensive AAA games out there as well.
eSports Gaming Tests
Click to view slideshow.
The titles above are some of the most popular games in the world, and all of them can be played exceptionally well at 1080p resolution with medium graphics settings. This is with the exception of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, which has higher graphics requirements.
Overclock, Temperature, Power Consumption

It might be made for the mainstream market, but the Ryzen 5 2200G is a rather interesting product when it comes to overclocking. This is due to the fact that users are able to overclock both of the chip’s CPU and GPU provided they use motherboards that are equipped with an AM4 chipset that supports overclock.
To reflect this capability, AMD has also updated its Ryzen Master software in order to allow users to tweak their Ryzen 5 2200G’s GPU alongside the chip’s CPU and memory clock.

By having both of its CPU and GPU unlocked, this presents a rather unique challenge for overclockers out there since they have to tweak multiple settings in order to find that perfect overclocked balance of all three main elements within the chip. Unfortunately, we were not able to find that balance ourselves due to time constraints.
Nevertheless, we did perform simple overclocking on the chip anyway in order to find out how far can we push its CPU and GPU on an individual basis. While we managed to bring up the CPU’s clock speed to 3.9GHz on all four cores using the default CPU voltage setting of 1.45V, we increased it to 1.55V for additional stability. At the same time, we have also tuned the system’s memory speed and voltage to 3200MHz and 1.35V respectively.
As for the GPU, we have keep the CPU and memory speed at stock settings though in order to increase the GPU clock speed to 1650MHz which is 32% more than its base clock speed of 1250MHz. We have also increased the GPU voltage settings from 1.1V to 1.5V.
Increasing the chip’s clock speed and voltage means that the chip’s power consumption and temperature goes up as well. At stock settings though, the Ryzen 5 2400G behaves very well.

One thing to note though: you definitely need a better cooler if you want to overclock this chip on a higher level, aside from having good power supply unit. During our tests, the chip’s stock cooler which is AMD’s own Wraith Stealth cooler was not able to contain the heat that the chip produced when we put it through the OCCT CPU stress test as well as the Blender’s CPU and GPU BMW benchmark.
Throughout these tests, the chip’s temperature went beyond its thermal limit very quickly, which forced us to stop the tests even though the tweaks we did on it were quite stable in the tests we showed above. Nevertheless, you would able to see that even during those successful tests, the chip was already running at temperatures which are dangerously close to its thermal limit of 95°C.

Given their pricing, it is without a doubt that the Intel Core i5 8400 is Ryzen 5 2400G’s closest competitor. While we don’t have an Intel-based system to directly compare with AMD’s offering, the reference test results that was provided to us by the company showed that Intel’s chip edges the Ryzen APU in most CPU-focused applications, although the differences are not far from each other.
This is likely due to the higher amount of cache, boost clock, and instructions per clock on the Core i5 8400. However, the story is completely different when it comes to gaming performance of the integrated Intel UHD Graphics 630 inside the chip, which is essentially the same HD Graphics 630 from the previous generation of Intel Core processors.

While certain games, especially popular eSports titles such as Dota 2 and CS:GO can be played at 720p with low or medium graphics settings on Intel UHD Graphics 630, the experience is much smoother with the AMD Radeon Vega 11 graphics on the Ryzen 5 2400G. For some titles, they can even be played at 1080p resolution, although users still need to tweak their graphics settings.
Furthermore, the Ryzen 5 2400G is overclocking-friendly unlike the Core i5 8400 which is locked by Intel. Additionally, the AMD AM4-based motherboards are generally more affordable than Intel Z370-based motherboards which further strengthens the value proposition of the Ryzen 5 2400G.

With a strong CPU performance at its foundation, adding one of the best integrated graphics solutions that we’ve seen so far makes the AMD Ryzen 5 2400G an exceptional product for users who are looking to build a capable basic system and not planning to splurge on dedicated graphics card.
Furthermore, the Ryzen 5 2400G arrives at a time where there is a serious supply issue for discrete graphics cards, driving their costs way higher than their original price tags. The integrated Radeon Vega graphics inside the chip is good enough for a majority of popular eSports titles out there, which means that budget-oriented users are still able to play their games at resolutions of up to full HD as long as they are not so picky about their graphics settings.

Even though the chip faces a tough challenge from the Intel Core i5 8400, the Ryzen 5 2400G’s graphical prowess, overclocking capability, and the abundance of motherboard options provided by the AM4 ecosystem surpasses Intel’s offering in terms of overall value.
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Future iOS Updates Will Focus on Reliability with Less Emphasis on New Features

For the past few years, Apple offered quite a number of new features with every iOS update. Moving forward, however, it appears the Cupertino company will be taking a different approach.
According to people familiar with the matter, rather than focusing on introducing a slew of new features on the next iOS update, Apple will put more emphasis on offering a polished, reliable software experience and introducing only select key features. More likely than not, this is a response to customers’ complaint of buggy features and app crashes.

This shift in software development will be in effect this year itself with the upcoming iOS update, which will likely be called iOS 12. One of the most noteworthy features that will be introduced in the new update is the ability to let a single third-party app work across iPhones, iPads, and Mac systems.
Aside from that, Animoji will be further improved too. Along with the addition of new characters and redesigned menu, the feature will also be coming to the iPad – it’s currently exclusive to the iPhone X. Apparently, Apple is working on a new iPad that will feature the Face ID camera system.

Apple’s new approach with its software development will be a difficult balance to strike, especially in terms of keeping up with competition from the Android space. On the other hand, the promise of a better software experience with minimal bugs will definitely be a plus point for Apple users.
(Source: Bloomberg)
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You Can Now Get the Huawei Mate 10 Pro for 12% Off

The Huawei Mate 10 Pro was an excellent flagship smartphone, and it offered quite a good value for money when it was launched here late last year. Now, it’s even more affordable: several retailers are offering pretty good deals on Huawei’s latest flagship.
On Lazada itself, retailer DT Online is listing the Mate 10 Pro for only RM2,729 – both the Midnight Blue and Mocha Brown models are in stock, though the former only has three units left at the time of writing. Note that the Mate 10 Pro originally retails at RM3,099, so this particular offer saves you exactly RM370.

Aside from Lazada, several retailers on Shopee are offering rather attractive prices for the Mate 10 Pro too, although they’re slightly more expensive. Retailers techgadget and egadgetsolution are listing the Mate 10 Pro for RM2,739, saving you RM360.
If you’re still not quite sure if the Huawei Mate 10 Pro is for you, check out our comprehensive review of the flagship phone right here.
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Xiaomi Mi A1 Back At Its Lowest Price

The Xiaomi Mi A1 is arguably one of Xiaomi’s most interesting – and affordable – smartphones, thanks to its budget-friendly price tag and stock Android experience. Well, if you’ve been eyeing to get it, the Mi A1 is now back at its most affordable price yet.
While you can get the Mi A1 for only RM999 now, popular Lazada retailer G Store is listing the Android One device at an even more affordable price point: you can get the Mi A1 for merely RM845. In fact, this is the same price the Mi A1 was listed at during last year’s 12/12 sale.

The Xiaomi Mi A1 may not be as impressive as a flagship-tier smartphone, but at this price point, it will certainly serve as a very good mid-range device with a pleasant software experience. You can grab the phone for only RM845 here.
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Thousands of US and UK Sites Were Made Into Miners After Being Hacked

More than 4000 sites were briefly made into cryptocurrency miners after a popular website plugin was hacked. More worryingly, several of the affected sites were actually owned by the US and UK governments.
The United Kingdom’s Information Commissioner’s Officer (ICO) – a crown appointed commission for handling data privacy – and Student Loans Company were the main victims of the attack in Europe. While the United States Courts and several university bodies suffered the same fate across the pond.
The problem was discovered by a security researcher, Scott Helme, who managed to trace the hack to an affected website plug-in called Browsealoud; a tool that helps blind and partially sighted people navigate the web. The plug-in’s maker, Texthelp confirmed the incident and said that it was affected for about four hours before being taken down.

Hackers had configured the plug-in to install Coinhive, a program designed to mine for Monero via the visitor’s CPU. Monero has proven to be particularly popular with cybercriminals as of late; with multiple similar attacks looking to generate the cryptocurrency.
Coinhive itself isn’t malicious; the script was created to provide an alternative source of income for sites that were lacking in advertisements and in need of a method to make ends meet.
Such was the case of the Pirate Bay. Last September, we reported that the online torrent server briefly implemented the script on its site for 24 hours, stating that they were testing out the potential feature. While some visitors to the site were okay with it, many clearly didn’t like the idea of having their CPUs being manipulated like that.
Moving forward, Texthelp has already disable the affected code, and visitors to the sites were no longer at risk. A full list of affected websites is available at ‘publicwww‘.
(Sources: BBC, Bleeping Computer, Sky News)
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