Razer Kiyo X Webcam is an update to the streamer device

(Pocket-lint) – Razer has announced the Kiyo X Webcam – an update to its entry-level video camera for streamers.

The new model offers Full HD 1080p video capture and streaming at 30fps, or 720p at 60 frames-per-second. It is fully customisable in the Razer Synapse software and comes with autofocus functionality.

While there’s no built-in LED light, it is compatible with Razer Virtual Ring Light software, which uses your PC monitor to create a light source. This software will be available later in October, while the camera itself is available now, for £79.99 / $79.99.

It’s worth noting that, like with other Razer Kiyo cameras, it works best when connected to a Windows PC. While it will run on a Mac through USB, the Razer Synapse software is not compatible with macOS so you can’t easily adjust settings.

Also introduced at the same time is the Razer Ripsaw X, an external video capture card with HDMI 2.0 and USB 3.0 connectivity. It can capture video in up to 4K resolution at 30fps.

It is plug and play, so you do not need specialist hardware inside your PC.

The Ripsaw X is also available now, priced at £139.99 / $139.99. Both can be found on Razer.com.

Writing by Rik Henderson. Originally published on .

Understanding neuromorphic computing, and why Intel’s excited about it

Mike Davies, director of Intel’s Neuromorphic Computing Lab, explains the company’s efforts in this area. And with the launch of a new neuromorphic chip this week, he talked Ars through the updates.

Despite their name, neural networks are only distantly related to the sorts of things you’d find in a brain. While their organization and the way they transfer data through layers of processing may share some rough similarities to networks of actual neurons, the data and the computations performed on it would look very familiar to a standard CPU.

But neural networks aren’t the only way that people have tried to take lessons from the nervous system. There’s a separate discipline called neuromorphic computing that’s based on approximating the behavior of individual neurons in hardware. In neuromorphic hardware, calculations are performed by lots of small units that communicate with each other through bursts of activity called spikes and adjust their behavior based on the spikes they receive from others.

On Thursday, Intel released the newest iteration of its neuromorphic hardware, called Loihi. The new release comes with the sorts of things you’d expect from Intel: a better processor and some basic computational enhancements. But it also comes with some fundamental hardware changes that will allow it to run entirely new classes of algorithms. And while Loihi remains a research-focused product for now, Intel is also releasing a compiler that it hopes will drive wider adoption.

To make sense out of Loihi and what’s new in this version, let’s back up and start by looking at a bit of neurobiology, then build up from there.

From neurons to computation

The foundation of the nervous system is the cell type called a neuron. All neurons share a few common functional features. At one end of the cell is a structure called a dendrite, which you can think of as a receiver. This is where the neuron receives inputs from other cells. Nerve cells also have axons, which act as transmitters, connecting with other cells to pass along signals.

The signals take the form of what are called “spikes,” which are brief changes in the voltage across the neuron’s cell membrane. Spikes travel down axons until they reach the junctions with other cells (called synapses), at which point they’re converted to a chemical signal that travels to the nearby dendrite. This chemical signal opens up channels that allow ions to flow into the cell, starting a new spike on the receiving cell.

The receiving cell integrates a variety of information—how many spikes it has seen, whether any neurons are signaling that it should be quiet, how active it was in the past, etc.—and uses that to determine its own activity state. Once a threshold is crossed, it’ll trigger a spike down its own axons and potentially trigger activity in other cells.

Typically, this results in sporadic, randomly spaced spikes of activity when the neuron isn’t receiving much input. Once it starts receiving signals, however, it’ll switch to an active state and fire off a bunch of spikes in rapid succession.

A neuron, with the dendrites (spiky protrusions at top) and part of the axon (long extension at bottom right) visible.
Enlarge / A neuron, with the dendrites (spiky protrusions at top) and part of the axon (long extension at bottom right) visible.

How does this process encode and manipulate information? That’s an interesting and important question, and one we’re only just starting to answer.

One of the ways we’ve gone about answering it was via what has been called theoretical neurobiology (or computational neurobiology). This has involved attempts to build mathematical models that reflected the behavior of nervous systems and neurons in the hope that this would allow us to identify some underlying principles. Neural networks, which focused on the organizational principles of the nervous system, were one of the efforts that came out of this field. Spiking neural networks, which attempt to build up from the behavior of individual neurons, is another.

Spiking neural networks can be implemented in software on traditional processors. But it’s also possible to implement them through hardware, as Intel is doing with Loihi. The result is a processor very much unlike anything you’re likely to be familiar with.

Spiking in silicon

The previous-generation Loihi chip contains 128 individual cores connected by a communication network. Each of those cores has a large number of individual “neurons,” or execution units. Each of these neurons can receive input in the form of spikes from any other neuron—a neighbor in the same core, a unit in a different core on the same chip or from another chip entirely. The neuron integrates the spikes it receives over time and, based on the behavior it’s programmed with, uses that to determine when to send spikes of its own to whatever neurons it’s connected with.

All of the spike signaling happens asynchronously. At set time intervals, embedded x86 cores on the same chip force a synchronization. At that point, the neuron will redo the weights of its various connections—essentially, how much attention to pay to all the individual neurons that send signals to it.

Put in terms of an actual neuron, part of the execution unit on the chip acts as a dendrite, processing incoming signals from the communication network based in part on the weight derived from past behavior. A mathematical formula was then used to determine when activity had crossed a critical threshold and to trigger spikes of its own when it does. The “axon” of the execution unit then looks up which other execution units it communicates with, and it sends a spike to each.

In the earlier iteration of Loihi, a spike simply carried a single bit of information. A neuron only registered when it received one.

Unlike a normal processor, there’s no external RAM. Instead, each neuron has a small cache of memory dedicated to its use. This includes the weights it assigns to the inputs from different neurons, a cache of recent activity, and a list of all the other neurons that spikes are sent to.

One of the other big differences between neuromorphic chips and traditional processors is energy efficiency, where neuromorphic chips come out well ahead. IBM, which introduced its TrueNorth chip in 2014, was able to get useful work out of it even though it was clocked at a leisurely kiloHertz, and it used less than .0001 percent of the power that would be required to emulate a spiking neural network on traditional processors. Mike Davies, director of Intel’s Neuromorphic Computing Lab, said Loihi processes by a factor of 2,000 on some specific workloads. “We’re routinely finding 100 times [less energy] for SLAM and other robotic workloads,” he added.

iPhone 13 Pro & iPhone 13 Pro Max review: Exceptional phones but the Pro Max underwhelms

While they’re both great smartphones, the iPhone 13 Pro massively impresses, but we’re underwhelmed with the improvements Apple made year-over-year to the larger iPhone 13 Pro Max.

We have on-hand the iPhone 13 Pro in Sierra Blue as well as the iPhone 13 Pro Max in Graphite. Our iPhone 13 Pro — the one we use every day — is a 512GB version. This year, Apple has upgraded its storage capacities to include a new 1TB option for the first time.

A familiar design

The design here hasn’t changed. As it usually does the year after an iPhone enclosure redesign, it essentially borrows its physical appearance from the iPhone 12.

Stainless steel body on iPhone 13 Pro

Sierra Blue stainless steel body on iPhone 13 Pro

The 2021 iPhone lineup across the board has the same stainless steel body sandwiched between ultra-strong glass. The back glass is frosted, unlike the base iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini that both have a glossy back.

Buttons have shifted slightly on iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max

Buttons have slightly shifted on iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Pro Max

Some buttons have shifted on the sides as Apple tinkered with the internal layout. The iPhone 13 Pro both have bigger batteries, as well as a reconfigured TrueDepth module. This has forced the side button, volume buttons, and mute toggle down just slightly.

They also happen to be a bit thicker, increasing by .01 inches. Weight has grown, thanks again bigger battery, from 189 grams to 204 grams on the iPhone 13 Pro and 228 grams to 240 grams on the iPhone 13 Pro Max.

MagSafe support is still here

MagSafe support is still here

The iPhone 12 Pro Max was already a heavy phone, and this has caused it to be borderline untenable for users. The new weight isn’t all that much of a difference, but for a phone this unwieldy, we’d have preferred to see the weight move in the opposite direction. For most people, it’s simply too big and heavy.

Graphite, silver, and gold have remained year-over-year, but Pacific Blue has been set out to sea and replaced by a new, lighter Sierra Blue. Apple is using a new process that it says involves “multiple layers of nanometer-scale metallic ceramics applied across the surface for a stunning and durable finish” for this new hue, and we like it.

Sierra Blue iPhone 13 Pro in the bright sunlight

Sierra Blue iPhone 13 Pro in the bright sunlight

It is certainly lighter than the Pacific Blue. Feedback suggested that users wanted Apple to go with more contrast in colors, and not just more pastels, but we’re fond of it. In 2022, it would be great to see Apple release a full matte black version, though.

The new display

Our only notable physical change on the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max is that display. Apple has increased the brightness, reduced the notch, and introduced ProMotion to the iPhone lineup.

Using iPhone 13 Pro in direct sun

Using iPhone 13 Pro in direct sun

Brightness has increased from 800 nits typical brightness up to 1000 nits. For indoor use, this doesn’t mean that much.

But, if you’re outdoors a lot and find the sun too bright to see your phone screen, this will help. Just don’t expect a massive leap.

The new notch is smaller

The smaller notch on iPhone 13 Pro

The notch is narrower, side to side, but “deeper” a bit. This is fine, but Apple hasn’t taken advantage of the new space in the operating system whatsoever, including still not showing the battery percentage on screen. The biggest benefit here is you get a tiny bit more photo or video space when you’re consuming media, and even then, that depends on the aspect ratio you’re looking at.

ProMotion is a worthwhile addition and needs to be experienced to get a full appreciation of the feature. We found it similar to watching HD and going back to SD as we put down the iPhone 13 Pro Max and picked up the older iPhone 12 Pro Max.

This technology that first debuted on the iPad, allows the screen refresh rate to intelligently ramp up to 120Hz when motion is necessary and slow back down when not being used to save battery life. Even though ProMotion is on the iPad Pros and can speed up to 120Hz, it can’t drop as low as it does for iPhone.

The new iPhone 13 Pros can go as low a 10Hz when higher refresh rates aren’t necessary, leading to even more battery savings.

Right now, it’s most noticeable in Safari and swiping between Home Screens. There are not yet a large number of third-party apps that support the feature — yet. Apple promises it will appear in more games, and will make changes to make it easier to implement soon.

The high refresh rate makes your phone feel more responsive to your touch and like you’re interacting with it. How much this matters, or is visible, to any given user varies.

If you can see the benefits, ProMotion looks phenomenal. It isn’t just us saying so — DisplayMate has bestowed the honor of “world’s best smartphone display” this year, and we believe it.

Displays on iPhone 13 Pro Max and iPhone 13 Pro

Displays on iPhone 13 Pro Max and iPhone 13 Pro

Between the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max, we’re expecting phablet fans to buy a disproportionate number in the first month. Over time, though, as it has always been, the iPhone 13 Pro will be the far more popular choice. This reviewer has used both the iPhone 11 Pro Max and iPhone 12 Pro Max as daily drivers.

ProMotion Display

The new ProMotion display

That ends with the iPhone 13 family. Apple has still not utilized the larger screen to its potential.

Max size, mini utilization

Apple has had ample chances to impress with its “plus” or “max” phones, yet the differences have been minimal.

Beyond battery life, with the iPhone 13 Pro Max, Apple has refused to bring any tangible advantage. There is much more Apple could do here.

Apple’s logic of not fitting more onto the display doesn’t track. If we look at the all-new iPad mini, Its widgets are smaller than those on the iPhone 13 Pro Max, despite the fact users hold the larger tablet farther from their faces.

When we see the tiny icons on the iPad mini dock and the smaller widgets that users can pack in, we want an option for that on the iPhone.

Why does iPad mini get smaller icons but is further from your face?

Why does iPad mini get smaller icons but is further from your face?

There are no split-screen apps, no more rows of icons on the Home Screen, no larger widgets, no bidirectional charger thanks to bigger battery life, and no extra row on the keyboard. There’s so much Apple could do here, yet it does nothing but scale everything up from the iPhone 13 Pro.

Now that the cameras are the same, we’ve finally decided against the max-sized iPhone and instead have moved to the iPhone 13 Pro and saved some cash simultaneously.

Once Apple starts to embrace the larger display and larger size, we’ll happily make the jump back.

Cameras, cameras, cameras

Both iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max are sporting the same trio of shooters this time around, removing the one feature that made the iPhone 13 Pro Max unique.

Camera app

Camera app

Each phone has a 1X wide angle lens, a .5X ultra-wide lens with a 120-degree field of view, and a 3X optical telephoto lens. They both still have the LiDAR Scanner, which aids in focus for low light as well as a myriad of AR tricks.

Pro-level quality

At this level, not all changes are easy to discern, nor are they super flashy by any means. But they make all the difference.

The camera bump grew a bit. Especially for iPhone 13 Pro, it is markedly larger than that of the iPhone 12 Pro.

Cameras on iPhone 13 Pro

Cameras on iPhone 13 Pro

Apple has now increased the sensor size on the most-used camera of the iPhone, the wide angle lens, coupled with a new wider aperture. This was a great camera before, but the improvements have already yielded improvements.

Any grain or noise in an image is a result of the hardware stack of the camera. While many co-related factors cause aberrations, they are typically due to the reduced amount of light that hits the sensor.

Given the same resolution, a smaller sensor has smaller detectors per pixel, seeing less light. A smaller aperture lets less light into the sensor itself. With less light coming in, the camera will have to switch to Night Mode or keep the shutter open longer, which can cause blur, grain, and other anomalies.

Shooting video with ShoulderPod

Shooting video with ShoulderPod

Between the larger sensor in the iPhone 13 Pro and the aperture increasing from f/1.6 to f/1.5, the camera will have to switch to Night Mode less often and result in less noise overall. This is precisely what we’ve seen in testing the two cameras. Times when the iPhone 12 Pro wanted to use Night Mode, iPhone 13 was just fine.

In 2021, both devices have the same lens and sensor camera setup. The iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max had different focal length tele lenses, but they’ve both been upgraded to 3X optical zoom this year.

That means digital zoom too has been increased up to 15X. You can zoom in more than ever, though it still isn’t worth it. At 15X digital zoom, we saw substantial noise in these photos, and it gets increasingly hard to keep the camera stable.

It’s still possible to do, and in well-lit environments, you can still produce solid photos, but as Apple has emphasized, most people don’t need a ton of zoom. If you do, get a digital SLR and appropriate lens, or pick one of the many tele snap-on lenses that we’ll see adapted to the iPhone 13 Pro very soon.

Portrait mode still looks great

Portrait Mode still looks great

That tele lens zooms in closer for Portrait Mode photos than it has in the past. At times, we had to reevaluate whether to use the wide or tele cameras on specific images because the tele lens was just a bit too much now. At the same time, it also let us get some fantastic Portrait Mode shots that were a little too far away.

That all leads us to the massively upgraded ultra wide lens. Apple has widened the aperture, going from f/2.4 to a much faster f/1.8.

Apple’s shortcoming on the iPhone 12 line was the ultra wide. It created interestingly styled shots, but too much noise crept in due to the small opening. The shutter was also slightly slower because of the lack of light, so we’d end up with blurry pics if the subject or our hand moved at all.

It also defaulted to Night Mode more often than we liked. Night Mode is fantastic, but you need a steady hand and still subject. If you can get a similar shot without it, it is always worth it.

There is a drastic improvement year-over-year in photos from the ultra wide lens, resulting in less use of Night Mode or better images taken with it, sharper images, and much less noise. We’d always recommend switching to the wide if you could, but now feel fully comfortable using that ultra wide when needed.

Macro Mode

Ladybug on a leaf in macro

Ladybug on leaf in macro

That new ultra wide lens also has a secret trick. It can intelligently switch to the new Macro Mode as you get very close to your subject. You’re able to get within two centimeters from your subject in Macro Mode, and the results are beautiful.

Macro shot of wood notebook

Macro shot of wood notebook

We’ve already taken some of our favorite shots of all time in the new Macro Mode. The images are crisp, vibrant, and low on noise. Our only issue, which is unavoidable with macro, is your phone often gets in the way. When you’re getting that close to your subject, your phone will often block out your light. So plan your shots accordingly.

Yellow Jacket Wasp in macro

Yellow jacket wasp in macro

Macro Mode doesn’t just work with photos either — it works with video as well. We have one video of a wasp cleaning its antenna filling the entire screen that is amazing to see.

A backlit leaf in macro

Leaf in macro

One early issue with Macro Mode, though, is that there is no physical toggle. This is fine most of the time, but with video, we don’t always want it to make the jump. There’s no way to stop this at the moment. Apple says a toggle is coming, but it hasn’t arrived yet.

Macro sample of a puffball flower

Cinematic Mode gives it its best

Apple’s proud of Cinematic Mode. You could tell just by how Apple introduced the feature, creating a short whodunnit film that relied on copious looks away from the camera to show off the impressive effect of Cinematic Mode.

Still frame of Mosby shot in Cinematic Mode

Still frame of Mosby shot in Cinematic Mode

At the most basic, Cinematic Mode mimics Portrait Mode, but on video. It takes your subject and then applies bokeh to the surrounding area.

Editing Cinematic Mode video

Editing Cinematic Mode video

Beyond that, it can watch your subjects, and as they turn their head to look elsewhere, it can shift the focus to a second person in the shot. This is what Apple demoed at the iPhone 13 release event, and it was undeniably impressive.

In our testing, Cinematic Mode is not limited to people, with our testing seeing it work on pets and inanimate objects. Should the effect fail and look bad, editors can leverage the depth map that’s saved with the image. Editing can fix the problem — or the effect can be disabled entirely.

Cinematic Mode on and off

Cinematic Mode on and off

On a recorded clip, identified subjects are marked with rounded squares around their faces. The active focus subject is yellow, while the background subjects are white. You can manually shift the focus during the video between these as you edit. Multiple points can be on a timeline to continuously adjust the focus throughout the clip.

During shooting, you can manually set your exposure, focus, and aperture. Afterward, you can turn Cinematic Mode off entirely if the effect fails to follow your subject accurately.

Just as with Portrait Mode, the depth effect can be controlled. Apple puts a stylized “f” in the corner that will adjust the digital aperture. In layman’s terms, this will increase or decrease the bokeh in the background. If you want more bokeh and blur, reduce the aperture number, whereas if you want the background sharper and the effect less pronounced, increase the value.

We’ve shot quite a bit of footage so far in Cinematic Mode, and it doesn’t do a bad job by any means. As you’ve likely heard it compared, it feels like the early version of Portrait Mode. Sometimes there are just small parts around the edge of your subject that aren’t identified correctly, resulting in a bit of unnecessary blur.

Shooting video with iPhone 13 Pro

Shooting video on iPhone 13 Pro

When it gets things wrong, it becomes unusable. Though this is called Cinematic Mode, as it stands, this won’t be used in any cinema-bound film. It’s just far too early in the release-and-improve lifecycle, and Apple will need to continue refining it.

We were happily surprised to see Cinematic Mode also work not only on people but also on pets and objects. Pets as a subject created some of the best-looking clips we’ve recorded.

Of all things, our biggest issue with Cinematic Mode is its resolution. Cinematic Mode can only be captured in 1080P at 60 frames per second. This feels like a step backward. We can finally AirPlay high frame rate HDR content in 4K and then we get Cinematic Mode at 1080p.

Apple may fix this limitation by the time the iPhone 14 arrives, but right now, it’s terrible for pro users who have to decide between an excellent filming effect or proper 4K footage.

Photographic Styles

Another feature that hits Apple’s whole iPhone 13 lineup this year is Photographic Styles. This is akin to a professional photographer creating a specific “look” to help their images stand out.

Rather than quickly apply a LUT or filter after a photo is taken, Photographic Styles are applied at the time of capture. While a simple filter applies a general look over the top of the image as a whole, Photographic Styles use advanced techniques to apply different levels of adjustment to other areas of your photo.

Photographic Styles on iPhone

Photographic Styles

You can choose from standard — this is the default look from the Camera app that aims to be as true to life as possible, not overly saturated — rich contrast, vibrant, cool, and warm.

Apple has put together a fantastic explainer of these various styles within the Settings app. You can see a sample image and how each style changes the look of the picture.

Once you choose your style, you can further tweak it to your liking. Both tone and warmth can be tweaked between -100 and 100 to create a stronger or weaker effect.

With existing filter workflows, this feature will likely go mostly overlooked with the iPhone 13. The market choosing the iPhone 13 Pro probably puts a higher priority on photography, so this will hopefully get more use and improvements as it evolves.

Performance gains don’t go unnoticed

Powering the new iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max is Apple’s latest square of silicon. The A15 Bionic processor is faster, more battery efficient, and more graphically capable than its predecessor. It is still a six-core chip — two high-performance cores and four high-efficiency cores — but now packs more punch.

The iPhone 12 Pro scores 1598 on the single-core score, and 4089 on multi-core. The iPhone 13 Pro hits 1732 and 4255 in the single-core and multi-core tests, respectively. On Geekbench ML, scores went from 887 on the iPhone 12 Pro to 936 on the iPhone 13 Pro.

IPhone 12 Pro vs iPhone 13 Pro

The iPhone 13 Pro vs iPhone 12 Pro Geekbench graphics test

Finally, we saw the most significant improvements in graphics. Geekbench’s Compute benchmark improved from 9451 on the iPhone 12 Pro to 14275 on the iPhone 13 Pro.

Turning to the iPhone 13 Pro Max, the numbers were very similar, since it has the same chipset.

A15 Bionic runs everything, from the camera’s ISP, to the ProMotion display, to the highly-optimized battery. Even though Apple isn’t yelling about how fast the iPhone 13 Pro is from the rooftops, it should be. This thing smokes the competition and will surely provide the necessary bandwidth for years to come.

Battery, the killer new feature

With that exterior redesign comes an interior one as well. And, that interior redesign has resulted in more volume for a bigger battery.

In one battery test that kept the screen on continuously and played back videos and browsed Safari, iPhone 13 Pro Max lastly nearly ten hours. That was roughly an hour and a half more than the iPhone 13 Pro and more than two and half hours longer than the iPhone 12 Pro Max.

Use cases vary so much, user to user. There are a lot of variables that go into how long a battery will last in use. Still, it shows at least anecdotally how much longer the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max can last in similar situations, even if not representative of your daily tasks.

As use cases settle out, we’ll be talking more about this in the future. The short answer is, though, the 2021 iPhone 13 Pro lineup lasts longer than their counterparts from 2020.

Was Apple ready for iPhone 13?

We like the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max a great deal. There are substantial new features, and the line represents the best iPhones to date. But, at launch, developer tools were missing, significant features were broken, and some pro features were absent.

The updated iPhone 13 Pro

Our updated iPhone 13 Pro

Social media reports lamented that the Apple Watch was seemingly unable to unlock their new iPhones. Apple quickly responded, saying a fix was coming soon.

On our iPhone 13 Pro, we shot many Cinematic Mode videos with HDR off, only to find that HDR was force-enabled. This makes editing the video in any external application a bit more complicated. Apple also responded to this saying it is a bug and will be fixed in a forthcoming update.

ProMotion, a flagship feature, was broken in several places where the high frame rate should be kicking in. It also didn’t provide any developer guidance on enabling ProMotion in apps until after the iPhone 13 was in customers’ hands.

Then we have Apple ProRes — or we should say we don’t have Apple ProRes. The high-end video codec isn’t available at launch and will instead be delivered later in, you guessed it, a forthcoming update.

Even since we started writing this review, more issues have appeared to crop up. Reports of non-functional selfie cameras, temporarily non-responsive displays, and more have continued to pop up as more devices land in the user’s hands.

IPhone 13 Pro Max

The larger iPhone 13 Pro Max

These seem like features that absolutely should have cropped up in wide testing ahead of release.

Apple should have shared complete developer tools for the new screen refresh rates immediately after the device’s announcement. We’ve covered all the iPhone and operating system launches since the original iPhone, and this feels like the buggiest one yet as it pertains to the new hardware.

Should you buy the iPhone 13 Pro or iPhone 13 Pro Max?

Let’s reset a moment. We’ve been a bit harsh on some of the shortcomings of the iPhone 13 Pro Max and the litany of issues that seem to be prevalent, but that doesn’t mean these aren’t exceptional phones. They certainly are.

Here is the iPhone 13 Pro Max and iPhone 13 Pro

Here is the iPhone 13 Pro Max and iPhone 13 Pro

The iPhone 13 Pro, in particular, is a stunning device that looks incredible, is stupendously fast, is equipped with best-in-class cameras, and has the highest-rated display on a smartphone.

Bugs are temporary issues, and while they mar the first time experience for early adopters, with Apple already aware and several bugs already being squashed as of the most recent developer betas, hopefully fixes will arrive with haste. Users who pick up an iPhone 13 Pro or iPhone 13 Pro Max can rest assured that none of the bugs have been critical and will certainly be short-lived.

If you want the best iPhone to date, grab an iPhone 13 Pro — or if you’re desperate for a larger screen — an iPhone 13 Pro Max.

  • Sierra Blue is a wonderful new color
  • Outstanding design carried over from iPhone 12
  • All three cameras gained substantial new upgrades
  • Cinematic Mode is full of promise
  • Photographic Styles are an awesome new addition
  • Support for Apple ProRes
  • Solid performance gains in graphics
  • Battery improvements are greatly noticeable
  • ProMotion is noticeable, though more apps will need updated
  • MagSafe remains a fantastic feature with more options than ever
  • 1TB storage option for media-hungry power users
  • Sierra Blue could be considered too light
  • Increased in weight year-over-year
  • Many bugs remain at launch
  • ProMotion isn’t widely supported (yet)
  • CPU isn’t as big an upgrade as previous year
  • No support for Wi-Fi 6e
  • No increase in charging speed or data for MagSafe
  • iPhone 13 Pro Max doesn’t take nearly enough advantage of its larger display
  • Cinematic Mode only supports 1080P

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Here, we’d be giving the iPhone 13 Pro a five out of five and the iPhone 13 Pro Max a four out of five, but we’ve averaged them together for the entire “pro” lineup.

Where to buy

Wireless carriers AT&T and Verizon are already incentivizing the purchase of the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max. From free phone offers to discounts with a qualifying trade-in, bargain hunters can enjoy deals knocking up to $1,500 off the new phones.

Budding coders create apps aimed at real-world impact | MIT News

How can computer science be used to help make the world a better place? It’s a lofty question, but one that drives the team behind MIT App Inventor, a virtual programming platform that allows budding programmers of all ages to create their own apps.

Following a year of disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, the App Inventor team hosted its second annual virtual Appathon for Good this summer, a marathon-like event during which over 1,000 coders used the App Inventor platform to create apps aimed at helping people in communities around the world. Participants in this year’s Appathon ranged in age from 4 to 82 and hailed from 86 countries.

Hal Abelson, the Class of 1922 Professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering in Computer Science, explains that one of the goals behind the Appathon is to help underscore the importance of impact when it comes to designing new AI systems. Thanks to advances in computer science, he says, it is now possible for high school students to create mobile applications that help people with everything from accessing clean water to urban planning.

“We are blown away by what kids are doing this year and their visions for a better world,” says Abelson. “Kids are now using professional-grade tools to put themselves in the position of drivers of technology.”

From apps created to help improve mental health to food exchange platforms focused on alleviating hunger and systems that help users avoid zombies in a dystopian future, Appathon participants showcased how technology has the power to enable coders to make a significant difference in the world.

Mental health

The impact of lockdowns, school closures, and social isolation on the mental health of kids and teens has been a growing concern during the Covid-19 pandemic. In an effort to help facilitate communication between children and their parents, a U.S.-based team of youths and adults participating in the Appathon for Good developed Vividly, a platform that allows children to share their thoughts and feelings through a virtual intermediary.

“Nowadays technology is so integrated into all of our lives, and children and teens are growing up using technology as a whole other means of expression. This fact can be utilized in improving parent-child communication,” explains Bella Baidak, a 22-year-old graduate student who helped lead the Vividly team as a mentor, which took second place in the mixed youth and adult team category for their efforts.

“Oftentimes teens may feel more comfortable making a social media post about how they feel or texting a friend rather than having a face-to-face conversation with their parents,” Baidak adds. “When it comes to vulnerable topics, technology may be a more comfortable outlet for many teens. Though technology should definitely not be a replacement for face-to-face communication, an app like Vividly could certainly help break the ice.”

Sophia Cho, a 17-year-old student in the U.S., created a platform aimed at helping users maintain and improve their own mental health, based off her own experience using such techniques as meditation, exercise, goal-setting, and journaling. The app, named Mentallia, provides a way for people to track what they are doing to aid their mental well-being, and uses a points system to help motivate participation.

“I love computer science and making useful apps and programs. Many people also deal with a lot of stress daily, so I knew that by making the app I could help other people while also fulfilling one of the themes for the Appathon, which was computational action,” explains Cho.
“I plan on adding a machine learning aspect to Mentallia so that the app can find patterns between certain situations and the user’s emotions and physical symptoms, and give advice on what to do, more or less, to alleviate any distress.”

Inspired by a family friend with dementia, Louie Chiang, an 11-year-old student from Taiwan, developed the NoWorries app, which is focused on improving the quality of life for the elderly. The app features a memory game that users can play with their family photos.

“[When users] play the game, they can see the photos and bring back old memories to make them happy,” says Chiang of the inspiration for the game. He adds that in the future he hopes to “focus on helping elderly people by making more apps that can make their lives easier and happier.”


A number of Appathon participants were also motivated to create platforms addressing hunger and facilitating access to food pantries. Communitry, a food exchange platform created by a team of youths and adults from the Philippines, was developed to serve as a hub for food pantries so that people in need can find assistance. The app is also aimed at connecting community organizers looking to establish local food resources. Communitry users can access a map to see established food pantries worldwide and to find directions for pantries near them.

Another app, dubbed Love Parcel, helps users find ways to get donated items to the people who need them. Love Parcel allows people to submit requests for needed items and for charity organizations to help them fulfill the need for specific items, such as food, clothing, or toys.

Cities of the future

Motivated by a desire to improve conditions for pedestrians in Hong Kong, Nathan Lam, a 19-year-old student in Hong Kong whose team worked out of the MIT Hong Kong Innovation Node, and his teammates developed an app that uses live data from busy streets to help traffic lights work better for pedestrians. Lam noted that as red-light running and jaywalking are common in Hong Kong, he and his teammates were inspired to make a meaningful impact on daily life by improving the city’s traffic light system.

“The Appathon presented us with the perfect opportunity to bring our idea to life and improve the community with our app,” Lam and his teammates explain. They add that they plan to implement several changes to their app in the coming months, such as “using a better networking device that supports a 5G connection to reduce the network latency in data transfer, improving intercommunication between traffic lights to increase the efficiency of complicated junctions, and incorporating a priority index to allow emergency vehicles to clear traffic more quickly.”

From traffic lights to visions of the future, some participants created platforms to help people survive in dystopian worlds. From a tracker that could be used to help track and avoid zombies to a platform that explores what life could be like if we live among aliens, and a community monitoring app for residents of the Moon, Appathon participants invented creative solutions to a myriad of futuristic challenges.

Whether or not a zombie tracker is needed in the future, the App Inventor team hopes that providing children and adults with the opportunity to create programs that can make a difference in the world around them will help to empower a whole new generation of computational action.

Apple’s most popular iPad delivers even more performance and advanced features

Russia arrests cybersecurity expert on treason charge

KAZAN, RUSSIA - JULY 9, 2020: Group-IB CEO and founder Ilya Sachkov speaks during a panel discussion with representatives of the IT industry at Innopolis' Popov Technopark.
Enlarge / KAZAN, RUSSIA – JULY 9, 2020: Group-IB CEO and founder Ilya Sachkov speaks during a panel discussion with representatives of the IT industry at Innopolis’ Popov Technopark.

Dmitry Astakhov | Getty Images

The founder of one of Russia’s largest cybersecurity companies has been arrested on suspicion of state treason and will be held in a notorious prison run by the security services for the next two months, a Moscow court said on Wednesday.

The charges against Ilya Sachkov, founder of Group-IB, are classified and details of them were not immediately clear. State-run news agency Tass cited an anonymous source who said Sachkov denied passing on secret information to foreign intelligence services.

Group-IB, which specializes in preventing cybercrime and ransomware, confirmed that law enforcement raided its officers yesterday but said it did not know the reason for Sachkov’s arrest.

“Group-IB’s team is confident in the innocence of the company’s CEO and his business integrity,” the company said in a statement.

Dmitry Volkov, Group-IB’s cofounder, will assume Sachkov’s leadership responsibilities, it added.

RIA Novosti, another state newswire, reported that investigators searched Group-IB’s office in St Petersburg and other unspecified premises on Wednesday.

The company, which is headquartered in Singapore, is an official partner of Interpol and Europol and has hosted senior international law enforcement officials at its conferences in Moscow. Its private sector clients include BP, Microsoft, DHL, and several major Russian state-owned companies.

Group-IB said it was continuing to operate as normal. “The decentralized infrastructure of Group-IB allows us to keep our customer’s data safe, maintain business operations and work without interruption across our offices in Russia and around the world,” the company said.

Dmitry Peskov, president Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, told reporters on Wednesday that Sachkov’s arrest “had nothing to do with the business and investment climate in our country,” according to Interfax.

“He was in a grey area because of the industry he worked in. The secret services consider cybersecurity to be part of their territory. So either he crossed a line, or he crossed somebody’s interests,” said a person who has worked with Sachkov.

Russia’s FSB, the successor agency to the KGB, has arrested several prominent scientists, cybersecurity officials, and a former journalist in recent years on treason charges, which carry a sentence of up to 20 years in prison.

Convictions on the various counter-intelligence related-statues, which have significantly expanded the definitions of state secrets and potentially qualify nearly all contacts with foreign organisations as treason, have risen fivefold since 2009, according to Mediazona, an independent news site that covers Russia’s criminal justice system.

In 2019, a court sentenced a former top FSB cyber security official to 22 years on treason charges for passing information along to the US. A former senior executive at Kaspersky Lab, Russia’s top cyber security firm, was sentenced to 14 years in prison in the same case, details of which were not made public.

© 2021 The Financial Times Ltd. All rights reserved Not to be redistributed, copied, or modified in any way.

iPhone 13 Pro Max has world’s best smartphone display, according to DisplayMate

Display technology expert DisplayMate on Tuesday issued an in-depth evaluation of Apple’s top-tier iPhone 13 Pro Max, finding the handset’s 6.7-inch Super Retina XDR display with ProMotion technology is the best in the industry.

After thorough testing, DisplayMate’s Dr. Raymond Soneira determined iPhone 13 Pro Max’s screen to set or match 12 display performance records including color accuracy, brightness, contrast ratio, screen reflectance and visible screen resolution. The results earned the handset DisplayMate’s highest overall assessment rating, a grade of “A+” and the publication’s Best Smartphone Display award.

In lab testing, iPhone 13 Pro Max measurements were “green” across the board, meaning each metric earned “very good to excellent” ratings. Categories evaluated include image quality, viewing angle, absolute color accuracy, image contrast accuracy, performance in ambient light, brightness, reflectivity and more.

Six measured attributes — absolute color accuracy, shift in color accuracy, maximum color shift, contrast accuracy and intensity scale accuracy, shift in image contrast and intensity scale, change in peak luminance — were “visually indistinguishable from perfect.” The handset also set a record for peak brightness at 1,050 nits for average picture level calculations.

“The iPhone 13 Pro Max joins the very select Top Tier of Smartphone Displays which all provide Close to Text Book Perfect Calibration Accuracy and Performance that is Visually Indistinguishable From Perfect, so they all received and maintain Concurrent DisplayMate Best Smartphone Display Awards,” Soneira said.

Since making the switch to OLED screen technology, iPhone has consistently received industry accolades for class-leading panel quality. DisplayMate previously awarded its Best Smartphone Display award to iPhone 12 Pro Max, iPhone 11 Pro Max and iPhone XS Max.

The latest top-tier iPhone 13 Pro Max introduces Apple’s ProMotion dynamically variable refresh rate technology to the iPhone lineup, promising smooth graphics and new levels of power efficiency. When announcing the device earlier this month, the company touted the Super Retina XDR display’s improved peak brightness, enhanced color fidelity and additional viewing area thanks to a 20% reduction in TrueDepth “notch” size.

Apple’s continuing work on camera systems is also paying off, with DxOMark lauding the iPhone 13 Pro’s improved video capabilities in a report today.

Zendure SuperBase 2000 Pro portable power station review

Apple unveils new features in iWork suite of productivity apps

The Sony World Photography Awards 2022 are already looking incr

(Pocket-lint) – Each year, the World Photography Organisation celebrates the very best images and photographers on the planet with the Sony World Photography Awards. 

We’ve already shown off the incredible images submitted to the 2021 awards and the fantastic winners that the judges selected. Now we’re seeing a tease of the images already submitted to the Sony World Photography Awards 2022. 

The aim is to have an exhibition at Somerset House, London in April 2022 and at the Open Eye Gallery in Liverpool in November. In the meantime, photographers can submit photos to the competition before the deadlines close:

  • Professional: 14 January 2022, 13:00 GMT
  • Open: 7 January 2022, 13:00 GMT
  • Student: 30 November 2021, 13:00 GMT

In the meantime, here’s a taste of the incredible images already submitted. 

© Arifayan Taiwo, Nigeria, entry, Open, Lifestyle, 2022 Sony World Photography AwardsThe Sony World Photography Awards 2022 are already looking incredible photo 1

The boat boy

Submitted to the lifestyle category of the open competition is this wonderful image by Arifayan Taiwo from Nigeria. 

“A boy navigates his boat through a foggy Epe lagoon amidst the mild evening waves that funnels into the famous Epe fish mart, the Oluwo market.  Here, there are no nets to cast nor trawlers to drag, the artificial dam created by various sticks stuck strategically on the water creates a nursery and cage on the large body of water just like the ancient water surfers that founded the ancient floating town of Epe did circa 300 years ago.”

© Tom Barnes, United Kingdom, entry, Open, Portraiture, 2022 Sony World Photography AwardsThe Sony World Photography Awards 2022 are already looking incredible photo 2

The mechanic

An entry into the portraiture category for the 2022 awards features two people with a love for cars. The photographer and the main man himself. 

“I met Derek when I was shooting portraits for a television show who were using his workshops as one of their locations, with a mutual love of big engine cars we got on like a house on fire and stayed in touch. I was blown away by the variety and history of the American muscle cars in the workshop and his ability to find rare cars all over the UK and USA, I knew I had to photograph him.”

© Hardijanto Budyman, Indonesia, entry, Open, Creative, 2022 Sony World Photography AwardsThe Sony World Photography Awards 2022 are already looking incredible photo 3

Mirror Mirror In The Locker Wall

The Sony World Photography Awards aren’t just about taking awesome photos. They also feature some brilliant creativity. Like this image by Hardijanto Budyman entered into the open competition. 

“Human’s mind is a Playground! A place where we can so much fun to play with our Imagination, our Ideas, our Inspirations and our Creativity!”

© Marat Ortega, Mexico, entry, Open, Architecture, 2022 Sony World Photography AwardsThe Sony World Photography Awards 2022 are already looking incredible photo 4

The Cathedral of Morelia from the inside

Wonderful views of architecture are also a prominent feature of the awards. Like Marat Ortega’s image of the inside of the Cathedral of Morelia from Mexico. 

© Ngoc Van Nguyen, Vietnam, entry, Open, Travel, 2022 Sony World Photography AwardsThe Sony World Photography Awards 2022 are already looking incredible photo 5

Fixing the nets

This incredibly colourful image by Ngoc Van Nguyen comes from Vietnam and shows a glimpse of daily life.  

“After every sea trip, fishing nets are often torn, so this is a daily job in the waters of Ninh Thuan, Vietnam.”

© Takrim Ahmed, Bangladesh, entry, Open, Lifestyle, 2022 Sony World Photography AwardsThe Sony World Photography Awards 2022 are already looking incredible photo 6

Dockyard worker life

Another colourful entry to the open competition this time shows a taste of the lifestyle of dockyard workers in Bangladesh. 

© Marc Zetterblom, Sweden, entry, Open, Street Photography, 2022 Sony World Photography AwardsThe Sony World Photography Awards 2022 are already looking incredible photo 7

The biker

From busy workers to peaceful cyclists. These photography awards have it all. 

This image from Sweden certainly shows a serene view of life. 

© Kyle Minar, United States of America, entry, Open, Natural World & Wildlife, 2022 Sony World Photography AwardsThe Sony World Photography Awards 2022 are already looking incredible photo 9

Strut your Stuff

Further proof (as if you needed it) that nature is beautiful. This image by Kyle Minar has been submitted to the Natural World & Wildlife category and speaks to the quality of images in that area already. 

“The annual migration of the Great American Flamingo is nothing short of spectacular.  This particular image was taken in late May during nesting season in Rio Lagartos, Mexico.  The photograph was taken from a small boat in the middle of the Rio Lagartos Mangrove forest where many of the hatchlings catch their first breath.”

© Jeff Bennett, United States of America, entry, Open, Landscape, 2022 Sony World Photography AwardsThe Sony World Photography Awards 2022 are already looking incredible photo 10


This impressive view comes from the Teton mountain range of the Rocky Mountains in North America. Photographer Jeff Bennett has snapped a fantastic sunset view for the landscape category of the awards. 

© Jim Kateluzos, United States of America, entry, Open, Architecture, 2022 Sony World Photography AwardsThe Sony World Photography Awards 2022 are already looking incredible photo 11

Brutalist Library

If straight lines are more your thing, then you’ll appreciate this photo Jim Kateluzos, 

“The Hillman Library at the University of Pittsburgh, has an old brutalist style of architecture that really shines when it’s empty. When Pitt U was empty during quarantine, the library and surrounding buildings looked their best.”

© Andi Abdul Halil, Indonesia, entry, Open, Portraiture, 2022 Sony World Photography AwardsThe Sony World Photography Awards 2022 are already looking incredible photo 12

Let Me See the World

Portraiture with feeling. That’s what we’re getting with the latest from the Sony World Photography Awards. 

“This photo illustrates human resistance to the Covid-19 virus. Let me see the world is the spirit to return to the new normal era.”

© Andre Durao, Brazil, entry, Open, Motion, 2022 Sony World Photography AwardsThe Sony World Photography Awards 2022 are already looking incredible photo 13


This is one well-timed photo and no doubt a painful kick to the face too. Certainly addition to the motion category. 

“Football player from Vasco’s team kicks the Bahia club’s goalkeeper in the mouth during the Brazilian national football championship. the goalkeeper after the coup, fainted at the São Januario stadium, in the city of Rio de Janeiro.”


Writing by Adrian Willings. Originally published on .