Monthly Archive: June 2016

Apple watchOS 3 review: Revamp makes the Apple Watch better than ever 0

Apple watchOS 3 review: Revamp makes the Apple Watch better than ever

When the Apple Watch[1] launched, it might have been the most advanced smartwatch of its kind, but it still felt a little limited in some regards. With the next version of the OS, watchOS 2, the Watch became a lot better, to the point where it’s my day-in, day-out watch of choice.

With watchOS 3, Apple has refined the experience even more, with a host of tweaks and updates that make its Watch even more useful. What exactly is new, and which are the new OS’s best features, however? Read on to find out more.

Faster and more responsive apps 

One of the problems with the Apple Watch up to this point is that apps can be slow to load and then slow to update with the latest data. Apple tried to get around that with Glances, which were accessed by swiping up on the screen. A Glance was a cut-down version of the app, letting you do simple things, such as pause your music, but they required you to jump into the full app to get full functionality.

WatchOS replaces this system entirely with the new Dock, accessed by pressing the side button, which in turn replaces the old Friends screen, which I rarely used. The apps that you set to appear in the Dock are the full thing. They load instantly and update in the background, which is a huge improvement, as it speeds the Watch up generally, and makes using apps much faster.

watchOS 3 beta dock

The easiest way to put apps in the Dock is to simply use the Watch app on the phone. Recently used apps appear in the Dock automatically, and as long as you keep using them they’ll stay there. However, if you use a lot of apps they will eventually disappear from this view, so watchOS 3 gives you the option to keep your favourites in the Dock if you want. You can’t remove apps from the Dock using the Watch, but you can reorganise them order by long-pressing, pulling your finger down and dragging left or right.

watchOS 3 beta reorganise dock

A better Control Centre

With Glances gone, swiping up on a watch face now brings up my favourite part of watchOS 3: the redesigned Control Centre, which looks much more like its iOS counterpart than it did before. Getting to this menu in one quick swipe is much easier than with the old Watch, where you might have to slide up and then scroll furiously through your Glances. In addition to allowing you to toggle flight, silent and do not disturb modes, and ping your phone if you’ve lost it down the side of the sofa, the new Control Centre has a battery capacity read-out and a lock button for security. Another huge improvement.

watchOS 3 beta Control Centre

You can reply to messages

Replying to a text or iMessage on the Apple Watch used to be a bit hit or miss. You could do it, but I’d often find the stock phrases didn’t fit the situation. With watchOS 3 you get an extra option: Scribble. This lets you draw a response, letter by letter directly onto the screen, and it works beautifully. You wouldn’t want to write a very long message this way, but for quick and personalised replies, it’s perfect.

watchOS 3 beta Scribble

Unlock your Mac

Here’s another small but really useful feature. With watchOS 3 and Mac OS Sierra installed, you can use your Apple Watch to securely unlock your Mac without having to enter a password. Timing how long the signal takes to hit your Mac, macOS will only unlock when its sure your Watch is close and not on the other side of the room.

The feature isn’t turned on by default, but setting it up is straightforward. Just go to the Security & Privacy settings in your Mac’s Preferences menu and tick the box that reads “Allow your Apple Watch to unlock your Mac”. Simple.

Breathe

Breathe is a new app, designed to help you take a one-minute break from the world, concentrate on your breathing and take a moment of calm. It’s neatly implemented using a combination of the Watch’s advanced haptic feedback (the famed Taptic engine) and on-screen graphics to get you to follow the exercise, but I’m not sure it does a lot for me. Ironically, most of the time when it. Still, if you like that kind of app, it’s on your wrist ready to go.

New Watch Faces

A new version of watchOS can’t pass without new watch faces. This time, you get Minnie Mouse to accompany Mickey, an Activity watch face to help you keep track of your exercise, and the clean Numerals face, which just shows the current hour on the display. Apple has managed to fit more third-party complications onto many of the watch faces, such as the Photos one, which always looked a little bare.

To go with it, the new Watch app in iOS 10 has a Face Gallery, so you can flick through the available faces and add them to your Watch, and once you’ve added them, it’s now a touch easier to flip between faces on the watch itself, by dragging your finger across the screen from edge to edge. 

watchOS 3 beta Watch Gallery

Wheelchair users

Apple has reworked the Apple Watch to put in a special wheelchair mode. Every hour, instead of getting the ‘Time to stand message’, you’ll get the ‘Time to roll’ message. Apple has also added two workouts for wheelchair users, too.

Emergency calling

If you find yourself needing help and can’t get to your phone, the Watch can now be used to dial the emergency services. Well, it can in the US. It seems that, as yet, Apple hasn’t got the go-ahead from the authorities in the UK to allow this to work. It’s a shame, but I can see why there’s a reluctance to allow it. Although Apple has sought to prevent accidental calls by making it accessible only via a long-press of the side button, it is still possible to activate the feature while leaning against the edge of a table. 

Conclusions

All told, I rather like watchOS 3. It’s a big update – a radical one, even – but it makes the Apple Watch more intuitive to use, more practical and (in some respects) quicker. I’ve experienced some slowdown on the original Apple Watch I’ve been using for this review, but only occasionally, and the new Dock and features make up for these small hitches.

It’s the best update to the Apple Watch’s software yet and solidifies Apple’s position at the top of the smartwatch market. 

References

  1. ^ Apple Watch (www.expertreviews.co.uk)
Warehouse Discounts 0

GTA 6 news and rumours: Will we see a new GTA in 2018?

GTA 5 was released all the way back in 2013, but it continues to hover around the top of the UK games chart like some ghost of open-worlds past. It remains a high water mark for the genre, however, and it’s likely to stay that way until GTA 6 gets here.

Given the sheer quantity of sales Rockstar’s crime series commands, the prospect of GTA 6 is less a question of ‘if’, than ‘when’. Right, so when? We’re coming up to a period when the gap between entries suggests a new Grand Theft Auto could be around the corner, relatively speaking. The realistic view, however, is that we’re highly unlikely to see GTA 6 in 2017.

Now that Red Dead Redemption 2[1] has been announced, it’s pretty certain Rockstar will likely want to dedicate 2017 on the next iteration in its Wild West series. But with Red Dead Redemption 2 out of the way, the path would be clear for a return to present-day crime action. With that in mind, here’s everything we know (and guess) so far about GTA 6.

GTA 6: Release date

If the previous Grand Theft Auto release timeline is anything to go by, we can expect a gap of around four or five years between GTA 5 and GTA 6. GTA: San Andreas came out in 2004, GTA 4 came out in 2008, while GTA 5 came out in 2013. That would hint at a potential release in 2018.

The problem is, Rockstar recently announced Red Dead Redemption 2, due to launch in Spring 2018. As both RDR2 and GTA 6 will be open-world adventures, it would make sense for the company not to want to rush one out after the other. So while a late-2018 launch is possible, a much more probable time frame would be a GTA 6 release in 2019 or even 2020. 

GTA 6: Could it be set in London?

While Rockstar has yet to make any official announcements surrounding GTA 6, there have been some subtle hints which sort of show that the game might be in development, at least in an early stage. There have been multiple rumours that Rockstar could be considering locations outside of America – even a return to London following 1999’s Grand Theft Auto: London 1969 mission pack for the original game.

Water has been thrown on that particular fire thanks to a 2013 interview with The Guardian[2], which suggests the game won’t be set in London. “I think for us, my gut feeling is, GTA London was cool for the time, but games were more limited then,” said Rockstar’s Dan Houser. “These days I think we would love to set a game in the UK, set in London, whatever, but I don’t know if it would be a GTA game. I think there are plenty of great stories we could tell about the UK, great environments to showcase, great gameplay mechanics that could have a UK bent to them – I just don’t think it would be a GTA necessarily.”

Houser also said that Rockstar is open to the possibility of a playable female protagonist too, which would be a first for the series. “We didn’t really think about it this time [of GTA V],” he said. “That’s not to say that we couldn’t or we wouldn’t. This character set is just what came to us: it wasn’t, ‘we’ve got X and Y so we need Z,’ we weren’t trying to do it off a checklist – I don’t think that will ever give you something that’s believable or engaging.

“In the future, could we do a game with a lead female character? Of course. We just haven’t found the right game for it yet, but it’s one of the things that we always think about. It didn’t feel natural for this game but definitely for the right game in the future – with the right themes, it could be fantastic.”

GTA 6: Features we’d like to see

Los Angeles was the perfect choice of location for Grand Theft Auto V, but as is tradition with other games in the series, the next GTA will likely be in an entirely new place. While it would be nice to see another country other than the US get the GTA treatment, it’s likely Rockstar won’t play ball. After all, US locations have always been the perfect setting for Rockstar’s satire.

We loved the three distinct playable characters in Grand Theft Auto V and would like to see this happen in the future, but perhaps they could expand on that, with the option to create your own character akin to the character creator in GTA Online. Of course, doing this would change the balance between scripted and emergent narrative.

We’d also expect Grand Theft Auto 6 to be industry-leading in terms of visual fidelity and creating a believable world. We all remember the first time we saw the announcement trailer for GTA 5 way back in October 2011 and were blown away by how good it looked, a feeling you may remember from GTA 4‘s release back in 2008. Expect the same emotions when we see GTA 6 for the first time.

References

  1. ^ Red Dead Redemption 2 (www.expertreviews.co.uk)
  2. ^ The Guardian (www.theguardian.com)
Don’t expect a GTA 6 release date any time soon as Rockstar announce Red Dead sequel 0

Don’t expect a GTA 6 release date any time soon as Rockstar announce Red Dead sequel

Now that it’s been over three years since GTA 5[1] appeared in shops, fans have been itching to hear any tidbit of information about the latest game in the series. GTA 6 still hasn’t come out, but we’re here to help spread some light about Rockstar’s next Grand Theft Auto game.

Now that Red Dead Redemption 2[2] has finally been officially announced, it’s pretty likely the release of Grand Theft Auto 6 has been pushed back pretty far. Rockstar will likely want to focus on the next iteration in its Wild West series, but that doesn’t mean Grand theft Auto 6 is dead and buried. After all, GTA V did make over $1 billion after its release.

That being said, here’s everything we know so far about GTA 6.

GTA 6: Release date

If the previous Grand Theft Auto release timeline is anything to go by, we would have expected GTA 6 to release a bit sooner than it currently looks like. With around 3 to 5 years between releases, it would have been worth taking an educated guess that we would see Grand Theft Auto 6 sometime in late 2017 or in 2018.

The problem is, Rockstar recently announced Red Dead Redemption 2, due to launch in Fall 2017. We can expect at least three years of support, as was the case with GTA 5, so we could possibly see GTA 6 being talked about in 2020, although that is quite hopeful.

GTA 6: Could it be set in London?

While Rockstar has yet to make any official announcements surrounding GTA 6, there have been some subtle hints which sort of show that the game might be in development, at least in an early stage. Thanks to an interview with the Guardian, we do know that it definitely won’t be set in London, much to the dismay of the Expert Reviews team.

“I think for us, my gut feeling is, GTA London was cool for the time, but games were more limited then,” said Rockstar’s Dan Houser. “These days I think we would love to set a game in the UK, set in London, whatever, but I don’t know if it would be a GTA game. I think there are plenty of great stories we could tell about the UK, great environments to showcase, great gameplay mechanics that could have a UK bent to them – I just don’t think it would be a GTA necessarily.”

Houser also said that Rockstar is open to the possibility of a playable female protagonist too, which would be a first for the series. “We didn’t really think about it this time [of GTA V],” he said. “That’s not to say that we couldn’t or we wouldn’t. This character set is just what came to us: it wasn’t, ‘we’ve got X and Y so we need Z,’ we weren’t trying to do it off a checklist – I don’t think that will ever give you something that’s believable or engaging.

“In the future, could we do a game with a lead female character? Of course. We just haven’t found the right game for it yet, but it’s one of the things that we always think about. It didn’t feel natural for this game but definitely for the right game in the future – with the right themes, it could be fantastic.”

GTA 6: Features we’d like to see

Los Angeles was the perfect choice of location for Grand Theft Auto V, but as is tradition with other games in the series, the next GTA will likely be in an entirely new location. While it would be nice to see another country other than the US get the GTA treatment, it’s likely Rockstar won’t play ball. After all, US locations have always been the perfect setting for Rockstar’s satire.

We loved the three distinct playable characters in Grand Theft Auto V and would like to see this happen in the future, but perhaps they could expand on that, with the option to create your own character akin to the character creator in GTA Online.

We’d also expect Grand Theft Auto VI to be industry-leading in terms of visual fidelity and creating a believable world too. We all remember the first time we saw the announcement trailer for GTA 5 way back in October 2011 and were blown away by how good it looked, a feeling you may remember from Grand Theft Auto IV’s release back in 2008. Expect the same emotions when we see GTA VI for the first time.

References

  1. ^ GTA 5 (www.expertreviews.co.uk)
  2. ^ Red Dead Redemption 2 (www.expertreviews.co.uk)
Warehouse Discounts 0

GTA 6 news and rumours: Could we see a new GTA in 2018?

Even though GTA 5 was released all the way back in 2013, it continues to hover around the top of the UK games chart. It has sold over 75 million copies, and – according to NPD Group sales data – even managed to be the sixth best-selling game across all formats in 2016. Given the sheer quantity of sales Rockstar’s crime series commands, the prospect of GTA 6 is less a question of ‘if’, than ‘when’.

Right, so when? The tantalising news is that we’re coming up to a period when the gap between entries suggests a new Grand Theft Auto could be around the corner. The realistic view, however, is that we’re highly unlikely to see GTA 6 in 2017.

Now that Red Dead Redemption 2[1] has finally been officially announced, it’s pretty likely the release of Grand Theft Auto 6 has been pushed back until at least 2018. Rockstar will likely want to focus on the next iteration in its Wild West series. With Red Dead Redemption 2 out of the way, however, the path would be clear for a return to present-day crime action.   

With that in mind, here’s everything we know (and guess) so far about GTA 6.

GTA 6: Release date

If the previous Grand Theft Auto release timeline is anything to go by, we can expect a gap of around four or five years between GTA 5 and GTA 6. GTA: San Andreas came out in 2004, GTA 4 came out in 2008, while GTA 5 came out in 2013. That would hint at a potential release in 2018.

The problem is, Rockstar recently announced Red Dead Redemption 2, due to launch in Autumn 2017. As both RDR2 and GTA 6 will be open-world adventures, it would make sense for the company not to want to rush one out after the other. So while a 2018 launch is possible, a more realistic time frame would be a GTA 6 release in 2019 or 2020. 

GTA 6: Could it be set in London?

While Rockstar has yet to make any official announcements surrounding GTA 6, there have been some subtle hints which sort of show that the game might be in development, at least in an early stage. There have been multiple rumours that Rockstar could be considering locations outside of America – even a return to London following 1999’s Grand Theft Auto: London 1969 mission pack for the original game.

Water has been thrown on that particular fire thanks to a 2013 interview with The Guardian[2], which suggests the game won’t be set in London. “I think for us, my gut feeling is, GTA London was cool for the time, but games were more limited then,” said Rockstar’s Dan Houser. “These days I think we would love to set a game in the UK, set in London, whatever, but I don’t know if it would be a GTA game. I think there are plenty of great stories we could tell about the UK, great environments to showcase, great gameplay mechanics that could have a UK bent to them – I just don’t think it would be a GTA necessarily.”

Houser also said that Rockstar is open to the possibility of a playable female protagonist too, which would be a first for the series. “We didn’t really think about it this time [of GTA V],” he said. “That’s not to say that we couldn’t or we wouldn’t. This character set is just what came to us: it wasn’t, ‘we’ve got X and Y so we need Z,’ we weren’t trying to do it off a checklist – I don’t think that will ever give you something that’s believable or engaging.

“In the future, could we do a game with a lead female character? Of course. We just haven’t found the right game for it yet, but it’s one of the things that we always think about. It didn’t feel natural for this game but definitely for the right game in the future – with the right themes, it could be fantastic.”

GTA 6: Features we’d like to see

Los Angeles was the perfect choice of location for Grand Theft Auto V, but as is tradition with other games in the series, the next GTA will likely be in an entirely new location. While it would be nice to see another country other than the US get the GTA treatment, it’s likely Rockstar won’t play ball. After all, US locations have always been the perfect setting for Rockstar’s satire.

We loved the three distinct playable characters in Grand Theft Auto V and would like to see this happen in the future, but perhaps they could expand on that, with the option to create your own character akin to the character creator in GTA Online.

We’d also expect Grand Theft Auto VI to be industry-leading in terms of visual fidelity and creating a believable world too. We all remember the first time we saw the announcement trailer for GTA 5 way back in October 2011 and were blown away by how good it looked, a feeling you may remember from Grand Theft Auto IV’s release back in 2008. Expect the same emotions when we see GTA VI for the first time.

References

  1. ^ Red Dead Redemption 2 (www.expertreviews.co.uk)
  2. ^ The Guardian (www.theguardian.com)
Red Dead Redemption 2: News, features and UK release date rumours 0

Red Dead Redemption 2: News, features and UK release date rumours

Fans have been clamouring for a sequel to 2010’s Western-focussed Red Dead Redemption[1] pretty much since it launched. Details about the sequel are scarce, heck, we don’t even know if it’s actually in development – but it’s pretty much a given that it’s being worked on. While we haven’t heard anything official yet, we have been treated to a couple of tidbits here and there that gives us at least a vague idea about what we can expect when it officially launches.

Now that we’re at the tail end of 2016, It’s becoming increasingly unlikely we’ll see a sequel to Red Dead Redemption in the near future. Unless Rockstar pulls something quite dramatic, announcing and releasing the game in a very short space of time, I doubt we’ll get Red Dead Redemption 2 next year. It’s worth mentioning, of course, that Red Dead Redemption is, in itself, a sequel to Red Dead Revolver, which was released way back in 2004 for the original Xbox and PlayStation 2 – six years before Red Dead Redemption came out. It’s now been six years since Redemption, so it might not be long before we see another Red Dead game ride onto the scene. 

Red Dead Redemption 2: Release date

Of course, nothing official has been announced by Rockstar yet, but we can make an educated guess on when we can expect Red Dead Redemption 2 to come out. Both Grand Theft Auto 5 and Red Dead Redemption came out between one to two years after their initial reveal trailers, so considering we haven’t even got a trailer yet, we’re probably looking at either a 2018 or 2019 release window at the very earliest. 

Much to fans dismay, we didn’t get any official info at E3 2016. Rockstar typically doesn’t have much of a presence at E3, but rumours suggested we could see them show off Red Dead Redemption 2 this year. After all, Take Two’s CEO, Strauss Zelnick described Read Dead as a “permanent franchise” way back in 2014, and at an earnings call in May this year, Strauss also explained that Take-Two’s “working on exciting future projects that will be revealed soon.” Soon is still yet to come.

It’s also worth mentioning that now we’ve got some shiny new games consoles launching in the near future in the form of Microsoft’s Project Scorpio[2] and Sony’s PlayStation 4 Pro[3], I wouldn’t be surprised to see a Red Dead Redemption 2 launch planned to capitalise on the fancy new tech. Surely, the folks at Rockstar have thought of this and who knows, it might even be a launch title when the Xbox Project Scorpio launches sometime next year. The PS4 Pro will appear on store shelves in November this year, so I can’t expect Rockstar to be that quick about releasing it.

Red Dead Redemption 2: What we know so far

For the last few years, there have been a couple of leaks that, while taken with a grain of salt, do suggest a Red Dead Redemption 2 sequel is in the works. A map, allegedly focusing on the playable space for Red Dead 2, made its way onto the internet in May. The image (below), posted to NeoGaf[4], shows an expansive world that we may be able to roam around in in the near future. Techradar[5] said its sources reportedly confirmed its legitimacy, but only time will tell whether the map is actually legit.

Early reports that are yet to be refuted also suggest the Wild West sequel may take part in the events prior to Red Dead Redemption along with some rumblings of a remastered edition of the 2010 title for current consoles and PC too.

Red Dead Redemption 2 leaked map

Red Dead Redemption 2: Features we’d like to see

Red Dead Redemption launched in 2011 to critical acclaim, described as a “slick and expansive wild west adventure”[6] in our own review. It had a fantastically engaging story about the lengths its protagonist John Marston would go to protect his family, with plenty of interesting characters and some enjoyable gameplay mechanics. Marston was killed at the end of the first game, giving you control of his son, Jack, in the epilogue, so could we see the continuation of the Marston story in the sequel?

Of course, Rockstar is the champions of the open-world genre, so we’d expect the sequel to be no different. If the leaked map is anything to go by, the playable area looks to be even larger than the wide expanse of Read Dead Redemption, giving you plenty of space for horsing around. A significant graphical improvement is expected too, running on the Rockstar Advanced Game Engine that powered Grand Theft Auto 5. 

The leaked map’s large water sections and separate islands also implies we might see some swimming involved. This wasn’t an option in the first game, so it’s likely we’ll be ditching our horses and taking to water at some point if the map is, indeed, correct.

Red Dead Redemption gets backwards compatibility

You can now play the original Red Dead Redemption on Xbox One thanks to the Backwards Compatibility feature. What this means it that anyone who owns a digital or retail copy of the 2010 Xbox 360 version of the third person shooter will be able to play it on their new console absolutely free from 8th July. Don’t fret if you aren’t an owner, though, Amazon currently has it listed for dirt cheap and while Rockstar announced you will be able to buy it directly from the Games Store on the Xbox One, buying it from Amazon will possibly be your best bet to save a bit of money. Considering you can currently pick up the standard version for just over £10, you might just want to get the Xbox 360 version.

Since the announcement, sales of the Xbox 360 version of Red Dead Redemption rose a rose a staggering 5,394% on Amazon during the night, with the standard edition of the game rising from a 989 sales rank to 18. The Game of the Year Edition, which includes all DLC for the game, increased by 1,845%, climbing from position 681 to 35.

References

  1. ^ Red Dead Redemption (www.expertreviews.co.uk)
  2. ^ Project Scorpio (www.expertreviews.co.uk)
  3. ^ PlayStation 4 Pro (www.expertreviews.co.uk)
  4. ^ posted to NeoGaf (www.neogaf.com)
  5. ^ Techradar (www.techradar.com)
  6. ^ “slick and expansive wild west adventure” (www.expertreviews.co.uk)