Windows 11 on ARM gets a major browser – another hint of Microsoft’s big plans for AI PCs

Vivaldi has produced a native version of its popular browser for Arm-based PCs, those who run Windows 11 on Arm will doubtless be pleased to hear.

As is usual for a first step, the initial incarnation of Vivaldi for Arm silicon is in preview, and there are some caveats attached.

More so than usual, because while we can expect a fair bit of flakiness with any pre-release software, in this case, Vivaldi for Arm is an early test version. As Windows Central reports, the developer tells us: “These builds are not yet part of our automated test system and have only been lightly tested on one piece of hardware. Serious issues may exist and should be expected.”

In short, anyone running the Chromium-based browser on an Arm PC at this point is likely to have a wonky experience. But the point is Vivaldi is incoming for Windows on Arm, and shouldn’t be too far off.

That’s good news for its wider availability, bearing in mind that Vivaldi is ranked as one of our best web browsers. It was chosen due to its excellent customization options, being ideal for those who love tinkering with and personalizing their browser.


Analysis: Preparing the ground

It seems that Microsoft is very much preparing the ground for Windows on Arm, to become a real force in the near future. We’ve seen a great deal of hype being built around the incoming Snapdragon X Elite chip (and rumored Plus variants), and for good reason – it’s a CPU that can seemingly make Windows running on Arm a truly viable proposition.

To the point where we’ve already experienced Qualcomm’s reference laptops running Baldur’s Gate 3 at a stable 30 fps with reasonable graphics settings – and remember, this is a game running under emulation (it’s not coded for Arm CPUs).

Neither is the Vivaldi browser currently coded for Arm chips, but this is what the incoming new version of the browser is all about. It’s another hint that Microsoft is getting behind developers to nudge them (and maybe incentivize them somehow) to make native Arm clients, which will run faster than emulation (of course, as they remove the processing overhead involved in emulating an app).

With Vivaldi having deployed an early preview now, we can guess that the final version might be ready for the release of Snapdragon X Elite laptops in June – or certainly a working beta will be. This is when Microsoft’s Surface Pro 10 and Surface Laptop 6 will be emerging – the consumer versions, that is, which may be ARM-only devices from what we’re hearing on the rumor mill (there may not be any alternatives with Intel CPUs, in other words).

Moreover, other leaks suggest that Windows 11’s big incoming feature, AI Explorer – which is going to be key for AI PCs – might be for Windows on Arm only, at least to begin with. All of this just shows how much Microsoft is getting behind the Arm spin on its desktop OS, so we may see more high-profile pieces of software getting ports going forward, too. Perhaps it's finally time for Windows on Arm to shine?

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Samsung Galaxy Ring could help cook up AI-powered meal plans to boost your diet

As we get closer to the full launch of the Samsung Galaxy Ring, we're slowly learning more about its many talents – and some fresh rumors suggest these could include planning meals to improve your diet.

According to the Korean site Chosun Biz (via GSMArena), Samsung plans to integrate the Galaxy Ring with its new Samsung Food app, launched in August 2023

Samsung calls this app an “AI-powered food and recipe platform”, as it can whip up tailored meal plans and even give you step-by-step guides to making specific dishes. The exact integration with the Galaxy Ring isn't clear, but according to the Korean site, the wearable will help make dietary suggestions based on your calorie consumption and body mass index (BMI).

The ultimate aim is apparently to integrate this system with smart appliances (made by Samsung, of course) like refrigerators and ovens. While they aren't yet widely available, appliances like Samsung Bespoke 4-Door Flex Refrigerator and Bespoke AI Oven include cameras that can design or cook recipes based on your dietary needs.

It sounds like the Galaxy Ring, and presumably smartwatches like the incoming Galaxy Watch 7 series, are the missing links in a system that can monitor your health and feed that info into the Samsung Food app, which you can download now for Android and iOS.

The Ring's role in this process will presumably be more limited than smartwatches, whose screens can help you log meals and more. But the rumors hint at how big Samsung's ambitions are for its long-awaited ring, which will be a strong new challenger in our best smart rings guide when it lands (most likely in July).

Hungry for data

A phone on a grey background showing the Samsung Food app

(Image credit: Samsung)

During our early hands-on with the Galaxy Ring, it was clear that Samsung is mostly focusing on its sleep-tracking potential. It goes beyond Samsung's smartwatches here, offering unique insights including night movement, resting heart rate during sleep, and sleep latency (the time it takes to fall asleep).

But Samsung has also talked up the Galaxy Ring's broader health potential more recently. It'll apparently be able to generate a My Vitality Score in Samsung's Health app (by crunching together data like your activity and heart rate) and eventually integrate with appliances like smart fridges.

This means it's no surprise to hear that the Galaxy Ring could also play nice with the Samsung Food app. That said, the ring's hardware limitations mean this will likely be a minor feature initially, as its tracking is more focused on sleep and exercise. 

We're actually more excited about the Ring's potential to control our smart home than integrate with appliances like smart ovens, but more features are never a bad thing – as long as you're happy to give up significant amounts of health data to Samsung.

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Apple reveals new Vision Pro advert, as Meta plans Android-style rivalry

A slick new advert for the Apple Vision Pro has just appeared on the official Apple YouTube account, just a few days ahead of the first shipments of the mixed reality headset being sent out to customers. Meanwhile, a new report claims that Meta now considers itself to be the headset's main, Android-style adversary. 

The 68-second video has the usual Apple polish and a lot of the ingredients we've come to expect from Apple commercials – such as a classic pop song, aspirational lifestyles, travel, family and friends. It's called “Hello Apple Vision Pro” and the promise in the caption is that “you can do the things you love in ways never before possible”.

It's actually a helpful preview of some of the features and experiences that the Vision Pro offers: watching movies, working on presentations in a virtual 3D space, making FaceTime calls, bringing up images and video that wrap around your field of vision, and more.

As you would expect from an advertisement, it's somewhat selective in what it shows. There's no sign of the Vision Pro battery pack, and Napoleon is an interesting choice as the featured movie, because Ridley Scott's historical epic is seven minutes longer than the Vision Pro's official estimated battery life. You might need a recharge for the end credits.

More competition

We've already spent some time with Apple's headset for our hands-on Apple Vision Pro review, though not enough yet for a full review. Those first verdicts are going to be interesting, as will the impact of the headset on the augmented/virtual/mixed reality hardware market as a whole.

The Meta Quest 3 and Meta Quest Pro are now in direct competition with Apple's new device, but Meta executives don't seem to be overly perturbed by the Vision Pro's arrival. As per the Wall Street Journal (via 9to5Mac), Meta is hoping that the Vision Pro boosts interest in the tech in general, leading to more sales of the cheaper Meta headsets too.

Meta executives are “optimistic”, sources have told the WSJ, with the report going on to say that Meta is hoping to be the Android of the AR/VR/MR space – in other words, the main alternative to Apple, as Google's mobile operating system is on phones and tablets.

According to the WSJ, the Vision Pro has “influenced Meta's thinking” when it comes to embracing mixed reality experiences, and improving natural gesture control – Apple's headset relies on eye and finger tracking, while the Meta devices are primarily operated by physical controllers, with gesture support in testing.

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LG plans to launch an Apple Vision Pro rival in 2025

LG has announced that it’s bringing its OLED TV expertise to the XR (extended reality) space, and plans to launch some kind of device next year.

The report comes via South Korean news outlet The Guru (translated to English) in which LG Electronics CEO Cho Joo-wan told a reporter at CES 2024 that “[LG] will launch an XR device as early as next year.”

Not much else is known about the device; however, there were rumors late last year (via ET News, also translated from Korean) that LG was working on a VR headset, which would be powered by the then-unannounced Snapdragon XR2+ Gen 2 from Qualcomm. The same rumor correctly predicted that the Samsung XR/VR headset would use this new chipset, so while we should still take this latest leak with a pinch of salt there appears to be a decent chance that it's accurate.

If the LG headset does indeed boast a Snapdragon XR2+ Gen then we should expect it to be a high-end XR headset that’ll rival the likes of the soon-to-release Apple Vision Pro. This would also mean the headset is likely to be pricey – we'd expect somewhere in the region of $ 2,000 / £2,000 / AU$ 3,000.

An Apple Store staff member shows a customer how to use a Vision Pro headset.

The Apple Vision Pro might soon get another rival (Image credit: Apple)

As noted by an Upload VR report on the LG XR device announcement, the Korean language doesn’t always differentiate between singular and plural. As such, it’s possible that LG wants to release more than one XR device in 2025 – and if that’s the case we’d expect to see a high-end Apple Vision Pro rival, and a more affordable option that competes with the Meta Quest 3 or the recently announced Xreal Air 2 Ultra

Is LG working alone? 

Alongside Qualcomm, LG might be working with another XR veteran to bring its headset to life – Meta, though reports suggest it would be LG helping Meta not the other way around.

In February 2023 we reported that Meta was looking to partner with LG to create OLED displays for its XR headsets – most likely the Meta Quest Pro 2, but possibly the Meta Quest 4 as well.

If a Quest Pro 2 is on the way we’ve hypothesized that 2025 is most likely the earliest we’d see one; Meta likes to tease new XR hardware a year in advance, and typically makes announcements at its Meta Connect event that happens in September / October, so we’d likely get a 2024 teaser and a 2025 release.

This schedule fits with LG’s plan to launch a device next year, suggesting that the next Meta headset and the LG headset are one and the same.

The Meta Quest Pro and its controllers on a grey cushion

The Meta Quest Pro is good, but not all that popular (Image credit: Future)

That said, there’s a chance that LG is working on an XR project without Meta.

A few months after the February leak, in July 2023, there were reports that Meta had cancelled the Quest Pro 2. Meta CTO Andrew Bosworth took to Instagram Stories to deny the rumor, though his argument was based on a technicality – saying a canceled prototype isn’t the Quest Pro 2 until Meta names it the Quest Pro 2.

This confusing explanation leaves the door open to the Quest Pro 2 being delayed – likely due to the original’s seemingly very lackluster sales (we estimate the Quest Pro is around 86 times less popular than the Quest 2 using Steam Hardware Survey data), and the arrival of the Vision Pro. 

If LG is sitting on an excellent OLED display design – while Meta is back at the drawing board stage – why wouldn’t the South Korean display company leverage this screen, and its home entertainment expertise, to create a killer headset of its own?

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Google’s AI plans hit a snag as it reportedly delays next-gen ChatGPT rival

Development on Google’s Gemini AI is apparently going through a rough patch as the LLM (large language model) has reportedly been delayed to next year.

This comes from tech news site The Information whose sources claim the project will not see a November launch as originally planned. Now it may not arrive until sometime in the first quarter of 2024, barring another delay. The report doesn’t explain exactly why the AI is being pushed back. Google CEO Sundar Pichai did lightly confirm the decision by stating the company is “focused on getting Gemini 1.0 out as soon as possible [making] sure it’s competitive [and] state of the art”. That said, The Information does suggest this situation is due to ChatGPT's strength as a rival.

Since its launch, ChatGPT has skyrocketed in popularity, effectively becoming a leading force in 2023’s generative AI wave. Besides being a content generator for the everyday user, corporations are using it for fast summarization of lengthy reports and even building new apps to handle internal processes and projections. It’s been so successful that OpenAI has had to pause sign-ups for ChatGPT Plus as servers have hit full capacity.

Plan of attack

So what is Google’s plan moving forward? According to The Information, the Gemini team wants to ensure “the primary model is as good as or better than” GPT-4, OpenAI’s latest model. That is a tall order. GPT-4 is multimodal meaning it can accept video, speech, and text to launch a query and generate new content. What’s more, it boasts overall better performance when compared to the older GPT-3.5 model, now capable of performing more than one task at a time.

For Gemini, Google has several use cases in mind. The tech giant plans on using the AI to power new YouTube creator tools, upgrade Bard, plus improve Google Assistant. So far, it has managed to create mini versions of Gemini “to handle different tasks”, but right now, the primary focus is getting the main model up and running. 

It also plans to court advertisers with their AI as advertising is “Google’s main moneymaker.” Company executives have reportedly talked about using Gemini to generate ad campaigns, including text and images. Videos could come later, too.

Bard upgrade

Google is far from out of the game, and while the company is putting a lot of work into Gemini, it's still building out and updating Bard

First, if you’re stuck on your math homework, Bard will now provide step-by-step instructions on how to solve the problem, similar to Google Search. All you have to do is ask the AI or upload a picture of the question. Additionally, the platform can create charts for you by using the data you enter into the text prompts. Or you can ask it to make a smiley face like we did.

Google Bard's new chart plot feature

(Image credit: Future)

If you want to know more about this technology, we recommend learning about the five ways that ChatGPT is better than Google Bard (and three ways it isn't).

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The Spotify HiFi dream is still alive, as platform plans to do something “unique” someday

No one can blame you if you've given up on Spotify HiFi ever becoming a thing. It’s been two years since the initial announcement. However, all hope is not lost as the streaming service recently confirmed that it’s still working on the high-res audio tier.

This news comes from Spotify co-president Gustav Söderström who sat down for an interview on TheVerge’s podcast, Decoder. Confirming HiFi’s existence was pretty much the only straight answer he gave as the rest of the responses were vague at best. According to Söderström, the reason why the tier is taking so long is that the “industry changed and [Spotify] had to adapt”, but doesn’t elaborate any further. He does hint at the cost of HiFi and deals with music labels as being two major factors to the delay, and again, doesn't elaborate any further.

Söderström goes on to say Spotify wants to do something “unique” with HiFi and not “unnecessarily commoditize” itself by “[doing] what everyone else does”. When asked about an expected launch date and support for spatial audio, Söderström remained tight-lipped. There will be a “Spotify HiFi lossless-type experience at some point” in the future, however, that’s all the co-president was willing to divulge.

Söderström’s comment on needing to adapt to a changing industry is arguably the most telling in that whole exchange because it’s emblematic of the company’s recent moves. Pinning the delay of Spotify HiFi on not wanting to copy other platforms is rather ironic if you think about it. For starters, the streaming service is currently rolling out a redesign for its mobile app taking clear inspiration from TikTok. It now sports a vertical discovery feed as a way to encourage people to check out the latest songs or popular podcasts. You even have Spotify incorporating tech from OpenAI in its new DJ feature to simulate a real-life radio DJ. While these additions are great and everything, do users really want the TikTok experience and generative AI? From what we’ve seen, not really.

It appears the platform is more interested in growing its media library over providing HiFi. Spotify has grown its podcast content exponentially alongside real-time transcriptions. Also, the audiobook feed has a new preview feature where users can listen to a book for five minutes before purchasing. All this and still no high-res audio, at least any time soon. We asked Spotify if it could tell us more about its HiFi tier – anything at all. This story will be updated at a later time.

If you want to get high-res audio, there’s a way to do it with the right set of devices. Be sure to check out TechRadar’s guide on how to buy into high-res audio without the high prices

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YouTube sets out its plans for 2022 – but is it too late for content creators?

YouTube has set out its plans to try and help its creators more, such as being able to shop within a YouTube Shorts video, better monetization options for channels, and better insights into how their videos are performing.

The content-creation company has had its fair share of controversy over the years, most recently in its decision to change how dislikes on videos are displayed. But with TikTok fast becoming a social media network focused on video, Google-owned YouTube is trying to bring out some features that can better help its creators, not only to earn a living, but also to prevent them from leaving for TikTok, Vimeo or another rival video platform.

Back in 2003, you would find it a challenge to discover a site that would only show free content, and the thought of being able to make money from your videos would be a dream.

But YouTube has grown into a place where you can freely upload a video and, if the views are there, build up a following and make some money. But its past mistakes have made its users wonder if these features are simply covering up the cracks of a larger issue.


Analysis: Reversing the polarity

In its blog, the company reveals that it is aware that it needs to offer features to rival TikTok via its YouTube Shorts feature. Going live with another content creator for joint videos is on the horizon, alongside gifted memberships, and guidelines for the live chat are on the way.

However, the point comes back to how creators have been treated across the years. A recent example was a YouTuber called TotallyNotMark, who delves into the history of Japanese Anime, manly Dragon Ball. He had most of his videos removed in December 2021 with no explanation, which wiped out his income overnight.

This was due to TOEI Animation, the owners of Dragon Ball, claiming copyright infringements on most of Mark's videos, with no opportunity for the YouTuber to challenge these before they were taken down.

However, Mark was able to resolve this after five weeks, and his videos are back up.

While he was able to get the copyright claims resolved, he spoke in detail about how the appeals process by YouTube was unhelpful, slow, and non-transparent, especially in regards to why the videos were removed in the first place. And this has been a problem for years, where some content creators have left the platform.

We reached out to YouTube about this and TotallyNotMark's issues, and Jack Malon, a YouTube spokesperson, told us that “YouTube doesn't mediate copyright disputes—it is between the parties involved. We give copyright holders tools to make Content ID claims covering their copyrighted content and uploaders tools to dispute claims they believe are made in error,” Malon explained. “We also take the abuse of our tools seriously, and when we find instances of misuse, we take appropriate action in accordance with our policies.”

While it's encouraging to see the company announce more features to better support its creators, there was no mention of any improvements to the appeals process in the blog post. Perhaps eventually, YouTube will be able to look at how the content creators can appeal against copyright strikes, and save them the anxiety that it could cause them, as it did to Mark.

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Norton antivirus features comparison: what you get with Norton plans

Norton has a range of products from basic antivirus to full-featured internet security suites, offering plenty of options for buyers to ensure they can get the right package for their needs.

But with so many plans available, you'll want to make sure that the Norton subscription you sign up for has the exact features you require.

Below we’ve laid out the features available across Norton’s different subscription plans. Unsurprisingly, as you go up the range, you get more features – but the other bonus is that the amount (and type) of devices supported increases with them.

Norton AntiVirus Plus only covers 1 PC (Windows or Mac), and Norton 360 Standard covers 1 device, too (but it can be a PC, mobile phone or tablet). When you step up to Norton 360 Deluxe, support for up to 5 devices (PCs or phones) is provided, and finally Norton 360 Premium extends that coverage to 10 devices.

So bear this in mind as you peruse the following breakdown of Norton’s various features that informs you exactly which suites have what, with a neat summary to cap things off at the end.

Antivirus and ransomware protection

Available on Norton AntiVirus Plus, 360 Standard, 360 Deluxe, 360 Premium

These are the core defenses for your devices. Norton’s antivirus engine prevents malware from infecting the system (with real-time protection, and on-demand scanning when needed), plus there are additional ransomware countermeasures to help fend off any of these particularly nasty attacks. Every single Norton product offers these fundamental pillars of protection, as you’d expect.

Norton Firewall Settings

(Image credit: Norton)

Firewall

Available on Norton AntiVirus Plus, 360 Standard, 360 Deluxe, 360 Premium

Norton’s firewall is also a core protective element present throughout all the firm’s products, which gives you beefier defenses than the built-in Windows firewall (and Macs are also covered).

It’s a cleverly implemented smart firewall that gives you plenty of detail about what it’s doing, and how it works. For example, it won’t just pop-up a message saying that such and such an app is trying to connect to the internet, do you want to let it? Rather, Norton’s firewall will explain nuances like whether the app has many downloads or is very new (and therefore possibly fake and just concocted to deliver malware), and security aspects like if the app is digitally signed. Basically, you’re armed with a lot more info to guide any decision-making.

Password Manager

Available on Norton AntiVirus Plus, 360 Standard, 360 Deluxe, 360 Premium

You’re likely familiar with the humble password manager, but for the uninitiated, it’s a tidy little tool that takes care of all password duties, generating and automatically remembering secure passwords for all your various online accounts. If you have trouble trying to make up passwords which are secure enough, yet still memorable – or you write them down, which obviously isn’t a good idea security-wise – then this can take all that hassle off your hands.

Norton stores passwords in the cloud in encrypted form, and the password manager also assists with other time-saving features like an auto-form fill which allows you to fill in online forms with just a click of the mouse.

Norton Cloud Backup

(Image credit: Norton)

PC Cloud Backup

Available on Norton AntiVirus Plus, 360 Standard, 360 Deluxe, 360 Premium

Norton’s Cloud Backup is an online cloud storage locker which holds copies of the crucial files on your PC. Like any backup solution, this provides a way of recovering files if you suffer some kind of disaster like a ransomware attack that locks away all your data (which you shouldn’t, not with Norton on guard anyway, but you could also run into something like a drive failure).

PC Cloud Backup automatically can run backups periodically so you don’t have to remember, and it’s dead easy to use. This is a very valuable extra available with all Norton products, although there are a couple of caveats. Firstly, it’s only for Windows PCs, and secondly, with Norton AntiVirus Plus you don’t get much space (2GB). Norton 360 Standard provides 10GB, but it’s only with the top two tiers that you get a good chunk of storage, namely 50GB with Deluxe and 75GB with Premium.


Secure VPN

Available on Norton 360 Standard, 360 Deluxe, 360 Premium

A VPN provides extra security beyond antivirus and firewall protection, encrypting your internet traffic and ensuring that no one (including your ISP) can snoop on it (see our full explainer for a thorough explanation of how a VPN works). A VPN can be particularly useful to provide additional protection when you’re on potentially unsecure public Wi-Fi hotspots (such as when in a café, for example).

Norton includes the Secure VPN service with its security suites (but not AntiVirus Plus), with unlimited data so it can cover you the whole time you’re online, improving your anonymity as well as security, as well as potentially allowing you to access streaming services in countries abroad that you wouldn’t otherwise get.

SafeCam

Available on Norton 360 Standard, 360 Deluxe, 360 Premium

This is Norton’s webcam protection which defends against malware that can try to take control of the camera to take sneaky pictures – or even video – of you.

This feature basically watches for untrusted programs trying to access the webcam, and flags them up so you can block them (or not). And don’t worry, it intelligently deals with obvious cases such as apps like Zoom, automatically granting them access to the camera instead of bothering you with any prompts.


Parental Control

Available on Norton 360 Deluxe, 360 Premium

The Parental Control module present in Norton’s higher-end suites provides a raft of functions to help ensure that your kids stay safe online. It boasts an in-depth system of controls with not just web content filtering, but the ability to monitor where they browse, or what videos they watch. Norton even goes as far as GPS tracking for phones, so you can see where your kids are in the real world, not just online.

This is a powerful feature, but like the Cloud Backup facility, it only works with Windows PCs and not Macs (though of course the mobile device monitoring works with phones, both Android and iOS).

Children gathered around a tablet while parents are distracted in background

(Image credit: Norton)

School Time

Available on Norton 360 Deluxe, 360 Premium

This is a relatively new addition which was bolted on to the Parental Control module in October 2020, after the education of kids was disrupted by the pandemic and lockdowns, and remote learning came into play. When School Time is switched on, your child is allowed to access certain websites – those needed for their education and classes – while other sites that could distract them from schoolwork are blocked.

This feature can be turned on or off as needed, or scheduled to run during school hours.

Dark Web Monitoring

Available on Norton 360 Deluxe, 360 Premium

As you’re doubtless aware, when data breaches happen (all too often, sadly), huge slabs of information on users can be stolen, including personal details, passwords and so forth. This kind of data can often be dumped or sold on the dark web, where criminals may find all sorts of nefarious uses for it, such as breaking into your account, or identity theft.

With this monitoring feature, Norton keeps a close eye on the dark web for any signs of your email address appearing – and if it finds anything, you’ll be immediately alerted, allowing you to take any necessary remedial action. Note that this feature is only supported in certain regions, namely: Australia, Canada, Germany, Japan, New Zealand, plus the UK and US.

Norton running on a PC, laptop and phone

(Image credit: Future)

Norton features at a glance

Available on Norton AntiVirus Plus: Antivirus and ransomware protection, Firewall, Password Manager, PC Cloud Backup. Supports 1 PC.

Available on Norton 360 Standard: All of the above plus Norton Secure VPN, SafeCam. Supports 1 PC or phone/tablet.

Available on Norton 360 Deluxe: All of the above plus Parental Control, School Time, Dark Web Monitoring. Additional support for up to 5 devices.

Available on Norton 360 Premium: All of the above plus extended support for up to 10 devices.

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