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Madden NFL 20 release date, trailers and news

Madden NFL is EA Sports’ long-running football franchise, and like clockwork, another one is headed our way with new features and improvements from last year’s game. 

Madden NFL 20 is almost certainly shipping later in 2019 with a few tweaks to the time-tested formula. Here’s what the new game might bring to the table after last year's much-loved entry in the series.

Cut to the chase
  • What is it? The latest entry in EA Sports’ long-running football simulation series
  • When can I play it? August 2 is the release date, but early access starts on July 31
  • What can I play it on? Again, no official word from EA yet, but we would expect it to be playable on PS4, Xbox One and PC
Madden NFL 20 release date and special editions

Madden NFL 20 will officially be released on August 2, 2019, and will retail for $59. Pre-ordering will grant buyers five Gold Team Fantasy Packs as well as their pick of one out of 32 Core Elite Players from your favorite NFL team.

There will indeed be not one but two special editions. The first, Madden NFL 20 Superstar Edition, costs $79. For that extra cash, you get 12 Gold Team Fantasy Packs and one small Training Quicksell Pack in Madden Ultimate Team. Buyers also get early access to play the game on July 31, 2019, a full three days ahead of the standard launch date.

The $99 Ultimate Superstar Edition of Madden NFL 20 starts players off with 15 Gold Team Fantasy Packs, one large Training Quicksell pack in Madden Ultimate Team, one Past and Present Elite Player Pack, one Madden Championship Series Pack in Madden Ultimate Team, and your choice of one unique Legend Superstar Ability for your created player in Face of the Franchise: QB1.

Madden NFL 20 trailers Madden NFL 20 news and rumors

EA Sports has already revealed a lot of the new features coming to Madden NFL 20. 

Face of the Franchise: QB1 is the big new single-player mode: craft your player, pick their college, guide them through a draft and begin their big career. Thereafter, Madden’s new Scenario Engine generates personalized playable scenarios, events, and dynamic challenges, per the game's website.

The regular Franchise mode is back, and features the return of Pro Bowl. The whole mode has been refined with new scenarios and tweaks all around, from ratings spread to player progression.

There's also a new category for elite players: Superstars. 50 players in the game will fit the bill, and at certain points of play, they'll enter "the zone" and get bonus Superstar X-Factor abilities. These aren't ratings boosts or modifications, the game's site clarifies: "These are behaviors, characteristics, and situational outcomes, aspects of football, and it will be very clear to our players what impact they are having on the game by complimenting the player ratings, not modifying them."

The popular Madden Ultimate Team (MUT) mode returns as well, and it's got a couple new features. Missions is a new feature that acts more like guidelines than a task-and-reward system. "Think of it as a roadmap to upgrading your squad with the items you want, with a clearly laid out path of how to earn those items or rewards," explains the game's website

In MUT, Solo challenges have been replaced by Ultimate Challenges, and the Superstar abilities and X-Factors are also supported. Only some chemistries have been brought over from Madden 19 to Madden 20, though new ones have been added. The mode will include player archetypes, a reorganization that clarifies player strengths with their roles on the field, and a return of House Rules.

We're also curious how the game will change given this is the first in the series without creative director Max Dickson, who left six months before the release of Madden NFL 19. 

Madden 20 will be the third in the franchise running the Frostbite engine, and given the smoother action in last year’s entry with Real Player Motion, we're keeping an eye out for how this version has been tweaked.

What we want to see from Madden NFL 20

Madden NFL 20 for Nintendo Switch

We’ve put this on our wish list for years, and we’re still hoping the next Madden game comes to the Nintendo’s fantastic hybrid console. 

EA has released a Switch version of the past couple FIFA games, and while they haven’t had the full list of features and modes that are present in their PS4 and Xbox One counterparts, owners of the Nintendo console did get to play a mostly intact port. We’re hoping Madden NFL players get to do the same.

Longshot’s return

Perhaps Madden 19’s next chapter of the single-player mode introduced in Madden 18, Longshot: Homecoming, was underwhelming. But it was still a favorite experience when it appeared two years ago, and we’re hoping EA Sports has course-corrected to tell better chapters in the stories of underdogs Cruz and Colt. Or maybe just start from scratch and give us a couple (or handful) of new characters to invest in.

Alas, Face of the Franchise: QB1 seems like the single-player story/campaign mode that's set to take Longshot's spot, but as the internet wisdom goes, 'Why not both?'

Project Atlas

Okay, this is a bit greedy given EA only announced its cloud-based, stream-to-any-device service Project Atlas last October. But we’d love to see this Google Stadia-before-Stadia-was-announced service start showing up somewhere, somehow in Madden NFL 20. 

How could it help? All that compute could give players much more context to their plays. In a Medium blog post introducing Atlas and explaining AI applications, EA CTO Ken Moss explained it this way: 

“Imagine that you’re playing Madden, and you’ve just thrown your second interception of the game against the same cover 2 defense that caused the first turnover. Instead of the commentator simply stating that you threw a pick, the AI enables contextual, real-time commentary to reference the fact that you’re throwing to the sideline against a cover 2 defense and should have thrown against the weak zone over the middle to your tight end, who was open on the route. 

“This would certainly push the game into a greater level of contextual and experiential realism. The AI is working with your gameplay. It’s responding to your needs as a player.”

  • Here's everything we're looking forward to at E3 2019

Apple improved the 2019 MacBook Pro keyboards after all, iFixit uncovers

Apple didn’t just improve the processors within its existing MacBook Pro models, but apparently the company has also improved the keyboards that these refreshed laptops offer, teardown site iFixit has learned.

The new MacBook Pro has a high price, as have all MacBook Pro models before it. And, with a high price comes an expectation of high quality. But, for the last several years, Apple's MacBooks have had keyboard issues with missed and repeated key presses. They've been a result of the Butterfly keyboards used in MacBooks from the 12-inch version to the MacBook Pro.

Apple has worked to address the issue in the past, making iterative changes to the butterfly keyboards, but the problems persisted. Apple even issue an apology over the keyboard failures many have experienced, and it went so far as extending its keyboard repair program to cover all MacBooks with Butterfly keyboards recently.

That coverage includes the newest MacBook Pro models, but apparent changes made to the Butterfly keyboards within may help avoid a need to.

What's different?

Based on iFixit's findings, there's at least one change to the Butterfly keyboard. The previous version, which did have issues, used a different material in its switch covers. These are meant to keep debris away from the actual key switch that registers inputs.

A Fourier Transform Infrared spectroscopy analysis revealed that the new switch cover is made out of nylon, while the old cover seemed to be mostly polyacetylene with aromatic urethane side groups. In addition, Apple may have made a change to the metal dome switch itself, but that hasn't been confirmed.

The changes are presumably to address the issues that have affected earlier Butterfly keyboards. But, since Apple has already tried to sort out the problems in the past, we'll just have to wait and see if the latest Butterfly keyboard revision works out.

We've contacted Apple for comment, and will update this story should we receive a response.

Memorial Day deal at Walmart: get the Apple iPad on sale for $249

The long holiday weekend is officially here, and that means Memorial Day sales are in full force. Walmart is participating in the big sale event with discounts sitewide on a variety of best-selling products. A standout deal is the latest model Apple iPad that's on sale for $249. That's an $80 discount and the lowest price we've found for the 32GB tablet.

The 2018 iPad features a 9.7-inch retina display and offers 32GB of storage. The tablet includes an impressive 1.2MP HD front-facing camera and an A10 Fusion chip which results in a powerful laptop-like performance. The additional power also allows you to use the latest apps that include augmented reality experiences. The Apple iPad features an all-day battery life of 10 hours and uses Touch-ID so you can securely unlock your tablet with a tap of your finger.

This is one of the best Memorial Day discounts we've seen, and a fantastic price for a newer-model iPad. This deal is a limited-time promotion, so you make sure you take advantage while you can.

Walmart also has the Apple iPad Mini on sale for $329. That's a $70 discount for the 8-inch tablet that features 128GB of storage and 10 hours of battery life. 

Shop more deals with our roundup of the best Memorial Day sales of 2019.

Interested in other iPad models? We've listed even more of the cheapest iPad deals that are currently available.

Automattic buys Prospress in digital subscription push

The company behind WordPress.com and WooCommerce, Automattic has acquired the startup Prospress as it looks to expand its digital subscription offerings.

The small startup made a name for itself by developing a recurring payment solution specifically designed for WooCommerce called WooCommerce subscriptions.

By acquiring Prospress, Automattic will be able to charge its customers regularly through digital subscriptions to WooCommerce while controlling a larger part of the ecommerce stack.

In addition to WooCommerce subscriptions, Prospress has also developed several other online tools including a marketing automation tool to remind customers when they have abandoned their carts while shopping online and a tool to test an online store's checkout functionality before it goes live.

Prospress acquisition

Once the acquisition is complete, the Prospress team will continue work on its own products while joining the rest of the WooCommerce team.

Currently the company has 20 employees which gives you an idea of its size compared to Automattic which has 900 employees.

Shopify, which directly competes with WooCommerce, doesn't provide subscriptions on its own and customers have to rely on third-party products like Bold or ReCharge.

WooCommerce's head of payments Paul Maiorana explained in a press release how Prospress will help the company build out its subscription model, saying:

"The eCommerce subscription market has grown by more than 100 percent a year over the past five years. Subscriptions are an important part of the WooCommerce experience, so we're excited to work even more closely with Prospress CEO Brent Shepherd and his team to create a unified, flexible solution." 

Via TechCrunch

xCloud, Microsoft’s answer to PlayStation Now, can stream 3,500 games

While Microsoft’s game-streaming service isn’t ready for primetime yet, it’s further along than anyone thought: Project xCloud, which is currently being beta tested by Microsoft employees, can already stream 3,500 games from the cloud with another 1,900 games potentially titles on their way. 

Microsoft unveiled these and other key details today in a new blog on the Xbox Wire, and says even more details will be revealed soon. 

The key points in today’s post are that Microsoft has a number of games that are already compatible with the service from the Xbox One, Xbox 360 and original Xbox game library, and claims that any game published on the Xbox One could be xCloud-compatible without any extra work from developers. 

To stream these games to customers, Microsoft has deployed xCloud servers to data centers across 13 Azure regions – including North America, Europe and Asia – and says that it will continue to build more centers as development continues. 

Just as interestingly, Microsoft says developers like Capcom and Paradox are currently running tests on the servers, and has updated its developer kit to include cloud-specific APIs. In some examples provided by Microsoft, the new developer tools allow creators to make multiplayer matches in the cloud more seamless by moving all connections to the same server and enables games to scale font size depending on the screen you're using.

xCloud vs Now vs Stadia

Numerical data, believe it or not, is Microsoft's greatest weapon at this point. Its biggest rival, Google Stadia, has yet to announce any details about the streaming service, telling journalists that more details would be revealed soon. 

Knowing exactly how many games we can expect when the service launches (somewhere between 3,500 and 5,400) should give some credibility to Microsoft's new game-streaming service, as should the number and locations of Microsoft's Azure servers. 

That last bit of information is so powerful, in fact, that even longtime rival Sony has said it would partner with Microsoft on building game-streaming technology. The pair announced a partnership last week, and say that it's primarily based around the shared development of Azure cloud technology – something Sony could use in the next iteration of its PlayStation Now service.

While details are still light right now about both Google Stadia and Project xCloud, we expect to hear more about both at E3 2019 or shortly after.

Consumers still aren't sure how companies are using their data

Despite the introduction of GDPR last year, new research has revealed that consumers are still in the dark when it comes to how their data is collected, stored and used.

Mobile journey marketing company Ogury surveyed 287,571 consumers to better understand their attitudes towards marketing, advertising and data use to coincide with the one year anniversary of GDPR. Surprisingly just eight percent of those surveyed feel they have a better understanding of how companies use their data since the regulation was introduced.

Overall consumer awareness of GDPR was also quite low with 59 percent of respondents in the UK saying their understanding was no better than before the law came into effect while a further 29 percent said they did not even know what the regulation was.

Ogury's CEO and co-founder Thomas Pasquet explained that businesses first need to understand what GDPR is before they can educate their customers, saying:

“GDPR has not been taken seriously enough by organizations. These might be disheartening numbers for lawmakers and regulators, who will have no doubt hoped for a far greater level of understanding from the very consumers that GDPR is designed to protect. But marketers should similarly take heed of this admission by users that the message is not getting through in sufficient numbers. Businesses need to deeply understand what GDPR is and in turn educate consumers around the importance of data sharing; this level of consumer education will become increasingly important across the globe.”

Explicit user consent

The study's findings also revealed that businesses have not properly instituted a requirement for explicit and informed user consent in regard to data collection. Even when a consent notice does appear on a website, 78 percent of users globally don't read these notices in their entirety.

Reading and understanding are also two very different things and roughly half of consumers globally (52%) said that even when they do read consent notices, they still do not understand how their data is used. This was even higher in countries where GDPR has been implemented with 58 percent of European respondents unsure of how companies use their data.

Ogury's survey also revealed that wen given an explicit choice, 71 percent of those surveyed would be prepared to share data from mobile apps and website usage. In fact, they would even be willing to share their contact details as an alternative to paying for access to apps and online content.

Cutting off Huawei’s access to technology is cutting off innovation

I’ve been using mobile phones since the mid-nineties and have seen several companies impact the industry. Motorola and Nokia helped shape much of the earlier years of mobile phones with the latter introducing me to my first “smart” phone with the Communicator. 

Then came BlackBerry that pushed productivity on mobile phones with push email and instant messaging and I was using one all the way till the iPhone grew up. What BlackBerry did for productivity, the iPhone did for touchscreens and that has helped shape the last decade of mobile phones. 

While the iPhone has targeted the premium-end of the market, Android brought smartphone to the masses and the likes of HTC and Samsung allowed Android to compete against the iPhone with premium build quality and new features.

Although I’ve mostly stuck with the iPhone as my primary phone over the last decade, I’ve always had an Android, BlackBerry or Windows phone as a backup. That being said there have been a few times when an Android phone became my primary phone. 

Phones such as the HTC One M8, Sony Xperia Z5 and the Samsung Galaxy S8 have pushed mobile phones beyond what they were capable of and convinced me to use them as my primary device- at least for some period of time. There’s one more phone that did that last year and that was the Huawei Mate 20 Pro.

Image Credit: TechRadar

My introduction to the Huawei brand was about five or six  years back when Huawei set up office in the UAE. When I asked how does one pronounce the name of the company the answer was a very simple reminder about the company’s state with consumers back in day- to remember it as a company that sounded like “Who are we?” 

Although that stuck with me, the devices Huawei was making at that time certainly didn’t and had you asked me about their phones in 2013, I would have just shrugged them off as a brand that almost everyone would never ever hear about.

Huawei certainly proved me wrong! 

The first time I actually took notice of their phone was with the Mate 9 In 2016. It was the right phone at the right time- a large screen device with impressive capabilities released just a bit after Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7

Things had gone terribly wrong for Samsung that year- when large screen phones started becoming the norm and Huawei, with the impressive Mate 9 happily stepped in.

Image Credit: TechRadar

From the Mate 9 to the latest P30 Pro, Huawei has proved itself to be on the forefront of mobile phone technology and has become the second largest phone maker in the world. It reached that level by improving its products at a rate faster than its competitors.

With the move into foldable technology, Huawei was set to lead mobile phones into what could possibly become the next defining form factor for the industry. The only competitor Huawei had to the Mate X was the Samsung Galaxy Fold, another product that hasn’t started on the right foot. 

I have played with the Huawei Mate X and was very excited about using it as my primary phone. But I don’t know if that would be the case anymore and it would be a shame if all the hard work Huawei has put into this industry comes to an end because of politics. 

Cutting off access to Android and ARM can severely restrict a phone manufacturer and although Huawei is acting calm on the outside, I imagine there is a storm brewing inside the company. Against many odds, Huawei has risen to the top of the smartphone market in recent years and I doubt it would give up that position without putting up a good fight.

Amazon Memorial Day sale: deals on the Apple Watch, Dyson Vacuum and more

Memorial Day weekend is officially here, and that means huge discounts from top retailers on appliances, electronics, home items and more. Amazon is participating in the big sale event with massive price cuts on mattresses, TVs, vacuums, patio furniture, and more.

To help you find the standout deals, we've gone through Amazon's Memorial Day sale to find the best discounts that we think you should know about. Our top picks include the top-rated Dyson Cyclone V10 Vacuum, the Insignia 39-inch Smart TV, and the popular Apple Watch 4 that's discounted down to its lowest price ever.  You'll also find a rare discount on the Rachio Smart Sprinkler Controller that lets you schedule and customize your home sprinkler remotely through an app. Other notable Amazon deals include 20% off Leesa mattresses and patio furniture from Amazonia.

We'll be updating this guide throughout the long holiday weekend to make sure you stay up to date with the best deals going on. Remember these discounts are only valid for a limited time, so make sure you take advantage while you can.

Amazon's best Memorial Day deals: 

Shop more deals with our roundup of the best Memorial Day sales of 2019.

Learn more about Prime Day with our guide on Amazon Prime Day 2019: everything you need to know for the July deals event.

New Microsoft patent teases Surface Pro 7 with USB Type-C – finally

Microsoft's presumed Surface Pro 7 could take the product line's accolades to the new level with the long-awaited inclusion of a USB Type-C port, based on details in a patent discovered by Windows United and shared by HotHardware.

Microsoft's Surface Pro hybrid laptops have received high praise for years, often landing among the best Windows tablets on the market. Even the company's budget Surface Go scores high marks. The inclusion of this modern connectivity standard could take it to the next level.

As good as the Microsoft Surface Pro 6 is in most regards, its port selection is a serious black eye for the tablet. The Mini DisplayPort is fine, but the USB-A connection is offering seriously dated USB 3.0 speeds. 

When it comes to charging and using more peripherals, Microsoft has a proprietary connector called the Surface Connect port.

The connector isn't our favorite, as faster speeds for peripherals and all charging require special accessories that will only work with Surface devices. A switch to USB Type-C would actually be a dramatic improvement.

Here's to non-proprietary connections

USB Type-C is not only convenient because of its reversible nature, but also because of its versatility. The connector can handle incredible speeds, it meets the latest USB speed standards and it can go even faster if Microsoft incorporated Intel's Thunderbolt 3 or jumps to USB 4.

In addition to simple transfer speeds, the port can also serve as a connector for USB hubs, so users could connect numerous devices. And, at the same time, it would be able to handle charging. And, all of that would be possible through USB-C hubs from manufacturers other than just Microsoft.

Beyond the exciting new port, the patent also describes a new magnetic system in the Type Cover that could help it stay in position when it's folded open into tablet mode. Currently, the Type Cover can magnetically stay shut, but the new model would also hold itself to the back of the tablet when open.

These features would both be quality-of-life upgrades for the next Surface Pro. But, it remains to be seen whether Microsoft will actually go ahead with them. The company has incorporated USB Type-C into the Surface Go, but it's a little worrying how long it has already held out on the Surface Connect and USB 3.0 ports.

How to watch Chelsea vs Arsenal: live stream Europa League final 2019 from anywhere

The heated cross-London rivalry between Chelsea and Arsenal goes international next Wednesday as the teams travel to Baku in Azerbaijan to compete in the 2019 UEFA Europa League final. The situation may be a little absurd, but the stakes are no less high and this guide will tell you how you can watch every minute of the game with a Chelsea vs Arsenal live stream from absolutely anywhere in the world.

While it's true that more of the football world's attention turns to the Champions League final to be played on the following Saturday, Europe's second competition should not be taken lightly. As well as that frankly gorgeous trophy, the prize at stake is a place in next year's Champions League. That's a huge incentive for Arsenal, who failed to make the top four in this year's Premier League.

So a win in Baku for Unai Emery's men would salvage an otherwise flat first season in charge. It hasn't been completely devoid of positives - Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's goal tally and connection with Alexandre Lacazette bodes well for the next campaign. A few smart summer signings (with the replacement of outgoing Aaron Ramsey a priority) and the good times may start flowing again at the Emirates.

Despite finishing third in the league, it's been a similarly chequered season for Chelsea and boss Maurizio Sarri. He's been fighting the revolt of fans (and, it's rumoured, some players) and now has a transfer ban and the expected departure of Eden Hazard to contend with, too. Can the fleet-footed Belgian with support from the likes of Gonzalo Higuaín and Willian make this the perfect end to the season?

It's certainly a tough one to call. We're not sure which side of London will hold that Europa League trophy in their cabinet for the next year. But to make sure that you don't miss a minute of on-pitch action, we've found the ways to watch a Chelsea vs Arsenal live stream. It's good news for some, as it's being shown absolutely FREE in some parts.

Live stream the Europa League final for free in the UK How to live stream Chelsea vs Arsenal from outside your country

The Premier League is so big now that a Chelsea vs Arsenal encounter is going to be of interest to a whole international crowd - check out how to watch the Europa League final if you live in US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and India below.

While the free BT Sport Europa League final live stream is only accessible within the UK - if you're abroad for this one then you'll be told that you're not allowed to watch. That's really disappointing if you happen to be on holiday or away for business this week.

That said, there is still a way to get around the geo-block - and it's really simple to do. You need to download and install a VPN, which will then allow you to alter your IP address to one in the UK. That means your laptop, mobile or TV streaming device will  think it's back at home in the UK and will therefore allow you to stream that free BT Sport website or YouTube to watch as if you were back at home. The same goes if your a resident of anywhere else and want to watch your domestic coverage from overseas.

Here's how to stream the Europa League final live from anywhere in the world with a VPN in three very simple steps:

How to watch Chelsea vs Arsenal: live stream in US

How to live stream Europa League final in Canada

How to live stream Chelsea vs Arsenal in the Europa League: Australia

How to watch Europa League football in New Zealand

How to live stream the UEFA Europa League football in India

Video Series: Path Tracing for Quake II in Two Months

You wouldn’t know Quake II is now more than 20 years old when looking at the new RTX version. Path-traced reflections, shadows, and dynamic light sources bring the game’s cavernous environments to life. These new lighting techniques produce a more grounded and convincing aesthetic than the fully rasterized look we’ve all become accustomed to in modern games.

Quake II RTX started as a research project called Q2VKPT by Chrisoph Schied. He started experimenting with an NVIDIA RTX GPU and Quake II’s open-source code to better understand the state of the art for path tracing in real time. Even after revamping the lighting systems to add more realistic lighting, the game still ran at 60fps at 2560×1440 on a GeForce 2080 Ti.

How was this technical feat accomplished? Christoph explains his process in detail in a talk delivered at the 2019 GDC. We’ve broken his GDC talk into three short videos. Don’t worry about taking notes; we’ve captured all of the slides below, along with explanatory bullets.

Part 1: Path Tracing Defined (4 Minutes 52 Seconds)

Key Points to Remember:

 

  • Path tracing is a physically-based method for constructing light paths. It works by starting from the eye of the observer and casting a ray to find the primary visible surface.
  • A next-event estimation is performed at the hit point. One of the light sources is stochastically selected. This can be a physically-based light source.
  • All candidates are taken, and a stochastic sampling taken. Ultimately, one candidate computes the shadow ray.
  • Next, we compute a scattering event. The BRDF is sampled yielding a random direction for the scattering ray.
  • The next event estimation is performed for the indirectly visible surface by finding all the suitable light sources, selecting one randomly. The shadow ray is then computed.
  • This process goes continues recursively.

 

 

  • This is a stochastic process, using random light paths. A perfect result would require infinite samples, which will never be affordable. Current technology only permits very low sample counts.
  • Q2VKPT uses only one sample per pixel (i.e. one of these stochastic light paths).

 

 

  • Perfect importance sampling will never be possible. This would require already solving the rendering equation, i.e. the desired result
  • Full path tracing deals with much more noise than only sampling a single effect, such as indirect illumination

 

 

  • Q2VKPT was started as a research project with the goal of figuring out the current state-of-the-art for path tracing in real time and determine if denoisers could deal with Quake 2’s fully dynamic content.
  • Q2VKPT is completely open source, consisting of roughly 12,000 lines of code. It took roughly two months to write.
  • It’s a completely ray traced engine, completely replacing the original renderer..
  • Final result includes water reflections and explosions that work as area light sources.
  • The engine computes everything fully dynamically.
  • The game runs at roughly 60 fps.
  • The path tracer makes up the main part of the runtime with the denoiser the second most demanding component.
  • A full denoiser for path tracing is possible in 3.5 milliseconds at 1440p.
Part 2: Denoising (10 Minutes 18 Seconds)

 

Key Points to Remember:

  • Path tracing sees the image above as an input. It’s the raw output of the path tracer, and is very noisy.

  • The denoiser wipes away the noise and provides a clean image.

  • SVGF Stands for “Spatiotemporal Variance-Guided Filtering”
  • SVGF has two main principles. First, it looks at the denoising input that you pass to the denoising filter over time. Second, it stops applying blur after temporal stability is achieved.
  • The path tracer outputs noisy pictures. We correct for this first by removing the texture detail from the first visible surface, leaving untextured illumination. This is much easier to handle, because we do not have to protect the texture detail from the denoiser, alloign aggressive filtering. Then we remove the noise, re-apply the textures, and use TAA for some edge anti-aliasing.
  • The filter itself consists of three parts, temporal accumulation, variance estimation, and A-trous wavelet filter.
  • Temporal accumulation is a filter that increases the effective sample count by collecting data over time. This filter also keeps track of the noise, to steer the other parts.
  • Variance estimation analyzes the image: how noisy it is, how strong the filter should be. It also acts as a fallback if there’s no temporal information yet.
  • A-trous wavelet filter performs the spatial filtering

  • The A-trous wavelet filter needs an input signal and detremins a weighted sum of your neighboring pixels.
  • The weights consist of the filter kernel h. There also has to be edge-stopping functions, based on geometry, so you don’t blur over depth discontinuities or end up with different surface orientations.
  • The most important weight is determined by comparing the difference of the luminance of the central pixel and the neighboring pixels that are combined. It is what does the heavy lifting for protecting the details.  

  • The filter kernel is spread out. The same number of tabs exist but the effective footprint can be increased by spreading out the filter kernel. This is called strided convolution in the deep learning community.
  • Each of the pixels in the previous generation already contains information from a neighborhood. This means that it’s growing very rapidly, so you need very few iterations.
  • Q2VKPT only used a 3×3 box kernel and five filter iterations. That’s why the game is so efficient.
  • SVGF comes with some challenges. If you look at an animated scene where there are moving occluders in front of a light source, shadows will lag behind, and won’t be fully saturated since SVGF uses a very simple temporal filter.

  • Temporal filtering is very hard for path-tracing.
  • The solution: adaptive temporal filtering. This replaces the simple temporal accumulation.  
  • This adaptive temporal filter is also a screen space reprojection technique. The current frame, the previous frame, and motion vectors make clear (in a backwards direction) where your pixel from the current frame existed in the previous frame.

  • The figure above shows a simple formula to weight the old image compared to the new image.
  • If using animated camera, Geometric disocclusions may result if using an animated camera.
  • You could see windows in the example from Q2VKPT (above) before they were occluded. On the right, the history for those pixels were no longer valid. Solve this required using geometric tests to verify whether we saw the same surface.
  • Situations also arose where a changing of the shading function happened. Note the white reflection on the floor as an example in the image above. They are hard to detect, given the high level of noise. These shading functions are handled in a temporal filter.
  • When we have an exponentially moving average, we adaptively set an alpha perimeter to be able to reliably drop history information when we detect it’s not valid anymore. Flickering lights would be a good example.

  • We recommend making things locally adaptive, so if there are is a mix of stable and unstable regions in an image, then only the changed parts are dropped.
  • When using an adaptive temporal filter weight, simply taking the difference between consecutive frames (above), yields very high levels of noise.
  • Even using a static configuration result in high levels of noise. This makes the temporal filter completely unreliable. This level of noise will be even higher than in the original path tracer had!
  • Instead of denoising, we correlated the random numbers. For each pixel we always had the same random number seed. This ensures a stable pattern of noise. If the per-pixel differences are observed, distinctive regions will be clear.
  • Unfortunately, this process alone did not yield useful information. We got no new information because everything was correlated! Each frame was computing the same thing.
  • For that reason, we only correlated a small subset of the pixels in the temporal filter (every ninth pixel at most).

  • We ended up with a very noisy and sparse temporal gradient. In this case, using a reconstruction filter (similar to SVGF) yields a dense and relatively smooth image.
  • Some artifacts and noise can still be seen in the top image above.
  • We wanted to understand the rate of change.
  • We included additional normalization factor which told us how much the image in this region actually had changed.
  • This controlled the Alpha Perimeter.

  • Yellow indicates that the history has been completely dropped in the image above. All the geometric disocclusions can be seen, as well as explosions that light up the pathways.
  • Also note the glossy highlights on the floor.
  • These highlights show up in these gradients, and this is where the filter will drop the history.
  • If you don’t do this, you will have horrible ghosting artifacts.
Part 3: Path Tracer (8 Minutes)

Key Points to Remember:
  • The scene above was illuminated by A fairly large number of light sources illuminated the scene shown above. Each light source consists of several triangles.
  • We turned these into an area light source. Explosions contributed to this, as well.
  • If these lights had been randomly sampled from these lights, very high amounts of noise would result.
  • Another challenge is that Q2VKPT doesn’t have “rooms”, it has open levels. It has to deal with full levels and therefore needs some ways to (conservatively) cull away light sources.

  • Using a light hierarchy model was the first attempt at solving for the complex lighting challenges in Q2VKPT (a standard process in offline rendering).
  • This model consists of a tree of light sources with stochastic traversal performed using random numbers through the light hierarchy.  
  • This ended up being a nightmare for the GPU because you are maximizing how divergent your axes to the memory are.
  • The quality looked inconsistent. For instance, if a  rocket flew through the scene, the topology of the tree completely changed, so everything would flicker.
  • The team ultimately went for a simpler solution, using the potentially visible set from Q2VKPT.
  • This made clear on a cluster of the map which light sources would actually be visible. This was encoded as a list to be part of the mesh on the GPU.
  • We then stochastically sampled from this light list. This can still be roughly 20 candidates, so we randomly select a subset and perform an expensive important sampling on top of that.
  • We have a simplified version of the BRDF and also considered the projected solid angle of these triangles, building a CDF from that. We had a point-specific CDF, so the sampling quality is quite good.
  • After sampling the CDF, we had one candidate for the light sources.
  • This is what we do for the static lights that are part of these levels.

  • Unfortunately, the visibility information is not pre-computed for dynamic lights.
  • Given this, we didn’t do any culling, since it’s expected that the rockets are always somewhat close to the player, not somewhere else on the map.

  • Then, we selected between static and dynamic light sources. We could only afford one of the shadow rays. So we stochastically selected whether we wanted to sample the visibility for the static or dynamic light. We ended up with one light source in the end.

  • The path tracer can handle one indirect bounce. It was still missing one ray so it could not hit the environment map from the indirect bounce.
  • We had to perform two next-event estimations.
  • We then had to perform two shadow rays.
  • We shot the scattering ray to find the indirectly visible surface.
  • We could handle glass and mirror reflections, but there were some challenges with the reconstruction filter, so we just ignored these materials for the indirect bounce.

  • Everything is rather metallic-looking in the screenshot above because it’s using a constant Blinn-Phone BRDF (even if it’s grass, or enemies). We didn’t pursue this further due to time limitations.
  • We had direct illumination by the sky.
  • The scenes included mirror reflection for water, but we did not sample the fresnel term, so it looks a bit metallic.

  • We used a blue noise dither mask for a sampling pattern.
  • For each random decision that we needed to take, we had yet another blue noise dither mask.
  • We used multiples of these for the individual frames, which we recycled through. Since we needed to fill the whole screen with noise, we just tiled the blue noise dither masks.

  • If you use White noise with a low pass filter, lots of noise is still left in the result (see image above). This would be unstable if you look at this over time.

  • If we do the same with blue noise, we get a much more uniform color, resulting in far less noise.  

  • If we look at the frequency spectra of the noise, then it is very obvious why this is happening. White noise has a full spectrum of frequencies, while blue noise has the low frequencies removed.
  • We use a simple low-pass filter to denoise to make sure we did not over-blur details. You cannot remove all of the noise with the low-pass filter if you’re already starting with white noise.

  • We had two acceleration structures.
  • Bottom level static geometry was built once on map-load.
  • Bottom level dynamic geometry was rebuilt from scratch per frame. There were so few polygons that individually updating the parts wasn’t worth it.

  • We needed to perform a forward projection for the temporal filter for these gradient samples because we had to be very precise. This was more involved to implement, so we used a visibility buffer.
  • Per pixel, we stored which of the triangles were hit. We needed to be able to map from previous to current frame.
Final Thoughts

Real-time path tracing is possible (in the near future), but the transition can be difficult. You need random access to everything as well as having to tweak the assets. More research specifically tailored towards real-time rendering needs to take place, including digging into fast and robust importance sampling and denoising.

The entire talk can be viewed on the NVIDIA Developer Site, which includes an additional 25 minute breakdown of the making of Quake II RTX from an NVIDIA engineer’s perspective.

If you are working on ray-traced games, we also recommend looking at our newly released Nsight Graphics 2019.3, a debugging and GPU profiling tool which has been updated to include support for DXR and NVIDIA VKRay.

 

The post Video Series: Path Tracing for Quake II in Two Months appeared first on NVIDIA Developer Blog.

Amazon's Bank Holiday sale gives Prime Day deals tough prices to beat in July

Amazon's really going for it today. We've been taking a look at a lot of Bank Holiday sales already this week and Amazon has some cracking deals today on a range of it's own devices.

We're not kidding with that headline though. £29.99 for an Amazon Echo Dot is as low as Amazon have ever discounted the small smart speaker down to as an individual purchase. And given Amazon Prime Day is all about the best chance to get the best deal on Amazon devices, we'd like to think Amazon still has something up its sleeve for the big day. £25 for a new Amazon Echo Dot anyone? We can but hope!

  • See the full Bank Holiday sale over at Amazon

Not that a potential better deal should put you off picking up an Echo Dot today as you might find that by the time the July sale event rolls into town you'd actually like to pick up another one for a different room of the house. Or maybe one of the other Alexa speakers.

As for the other Amazon device discounts today we're seeing some tempting offers on the likes of the Amazon Echo (the Dot's big brother), the excellent Fire TV streaming stick and the Fire HD 8-inch tablet.

Not an Amazon Prime member yet? Why not give it a free 30-day trial and then you can check out the super fast delivery service along with the packed Amazon Video streaming service. Plus, if you want to enjoy the discounts on Prime Day, you have to be a Prime member.

This exclusive iPhone 8 deal blows the rest of the competition out of the water

For all of the Apple fans out there not ready to dive in to the deep end with Apple's latest £1,000+ handsets, we've got the perfect iPhone deal for you. And the best bit? It's exclusive to TechRadar readers - aren't you lucky?

Taking an iPhone 8 deal that was already smashing the rest of the market and adding a code to knock the price down by £25, this is one of the best value iPhone contracts around right now by a long shot. You pay just £26 a month and when you apply the code TECH825 at the checkout, you'll only have to pay £75 upfront.

You can see this brilliant iPhone 8 below, but if it still isn't right for you, price cut and all, then check out our guide to the best mobile phone deals

Want to go even cheaper and don't think of refurbished as a dirty word? Mobiles.co.uk also has a refurbished iPhone 8 on O2. It has the same amount of data but you're only paying £24 a month and £15 upfront (with our exclusive code 10OFF) making it an absolute bargain!

Blackberry’s Cylance strikes strategic alliance with NordVPN, LastPass

Cylance, the security solution owned by Blackberry, is teaming up with popular VPN company NordVPN and password reminder specialist LastPass to provide with a one-stop-shop privacy and security package

At $9.99 per month, it represents a 60% discount or around $200 off the standard price. Curiously, this deal is only valid in the US and on 12-month subscriptions; non-US residents should be able to purchase this package using a VPN. 

Up to six devices can be protected via your membership, and there’s even a 30-day money back guarantee for you to try that solution. Cylance is billed as a light and fast antivirus built around an AI security engine that doesn’t require significant updates. The flip side is that it is very light on features; great if you only want a malware hunter. Not so great when you want a complete security package.

NordVPN is a well known VPN provider, one of the best-selling privacy tools worldwide and a star performer in our best VPN buying guide. Based in Panama, it operates in excess of 5,400 servers in more than 60 countries to serve about 1 million customers.

As for LastPass, it is arguably one of the best password managers out there and, while Google Chrome’s own password manager is great, this one offers more features including working on applications for the premium offer.

Cylance has confirmed that this offer is not promotional (i.e. it is permanent) and renewals will be charged at the same price.

Want 100MP images? The Fujifilm GFX 100 isn't your only option

After teasing us for the last few months, Fujifilm has finally confirmed its GFX 100, a camera that promises to deliver insanely detailed images from a new back-illuminated 102MP medium format sensor. 

That's a considerable step up from the 51MP sensors inside the company's current GFX 50S and GFX 50R cameras – and there's much more to this camera than its sensor, of course.

From the 5.76 million-dot electronic viewfinder through to the five-axis image stabilization system – which, on a medium format camera, is mightily impressive – and its 4K video capabilities, there's heaps to get excited about. 

The sensor is the star, though, and it's the files it produces that are the reason for all the excitement. But GFX 100 isn't the only camera that can produce 100MP-plus images, nor is it the cheapest – so, whether you're looking for cheaper option or you've got money to burn, here are five other resolution monsters to consider.

1. Panasonic S1R

Image credit: Panasonic

100MP? Panasonic sees you, Fujifilm, and raises you 87MP. 

While the S1R packs a 47.3MP sensor – the most populated in any full-frame mirrorless camera right now – it can output 187MP images when set to its High Resolution capture mode. 

This captures eight individual 47.3MP files, then blends them together into a single composite. Impressively, you also get a raw file at the end of the process, rather than a JPEG, so you can process your super-high-res image just like you would any raw file.

The S1R itself isn't exactly cheap, of course, but it's less than half the price of the GFX 100, with a lens included. There's also an alternative, the even-more-affordable S1, which has its own High Resolution option that can spit out 96MP images. Not quite 100MP, admittedly, but not so dissimilar for it to make any difference in practice. 

2. Hasselblad H6D-100c

Image credit: Hasselblad

Like Fujifilm, Hasselblad has also been focusing on getting its medium format mirrorless range established, with the X1D-50c and accompanying lenses surfacing in the past few years. But if you're happy with a more old-school mirror-toting option, the company's H6D-100c is another 100MP camera that makes the grade.

Hasselblad claims the 100MP sensor inside the back can deliver 15 stops of dynamic range, and it enables a top ISO of 12,800 – and it even shoots 4K video if you need it to. All of this is yours for the bargain price of around $28,000 / £32,000, or $26,500 / £24,000 if you just need the back. 

3. Phase One IQ4

Image credit: Phase One

Medium format specialist Phase One introduced its IQ4 range last year, with two 151MP medium format backs, one being a full-color option and another achromatic (i.e., black and white). On top of that, the system also offers a third back, which sports a 100MP trichromatic sensor at its heart. 

These sensors are physically larger than the ones inside medium format mirrorless cameras, and also claim to offer up to 15 stops dynamic range. But if you thought the GFX 100 was expensive, the IQ4 will help to put things into perspective: you won't get much change from $43,000 / £30,000 for the 100MP back alone, let alone the higher-resolution options and the complete kits with the body and a lens. 

4. Hasselblad H6D-400C MS

Image credit: Hasselblad

100MP not enough? 187MP still leaving you underwhelmed? How does 400MP sound?

The H6D-400c may be based around a 100MP CMOS sensor, but, like the Panasonic S1R, it comes with its own Multi Shot mode that can output files far higher in resolution than the native pixel count. 

That's the good news. The bad, if not particularly surprising, news is that this comes at a cost of $47,995.00 / £43,500 before you even factor in the cost of a lens. 

5. Phase One XF IQ3

Image credit: Phase One

If your budget won't stretch to Phase One's IQ4, you can slum it with last season's XF IQ3 instead. 

Like the Phase One IQ4 above, this also comes in color and achromatic options, each being a 101MP CMOS sensor developed with Sony. There's Vibration Tracking and an electronic shutter to help keep the camera stable during that critical moment, and a particularly neat bonus is the option to have the shutter open for a whole hour, for super-long exposures. 

The body, lens and back kit will set you back around $30,000 / £25,000, though, so start saving. 

Best CDN providers of 2019 to speed up any website

A content delivery network (CDN) works to accelerate almost any website by caching its files in servers around the world. Whether your visitors come from Europe, North America, Asia or anywhere else, content is automatically served from the nearest location for the fastest possible speeds.

If you're new to the technology then it might seem intimidating, and there's no doubt that prices can be high, but don't let that put you off. A CDN is not just for massive corporations. You can set up the simplest services in less than five minutes, and if you choose your plan wisely, it might not cost you anything at all.

Whatever your website, from a simple blog to a sprawling site for a big business, we've picked out some of the best services around to help point you in the right direction. If you find anything that looks interesting, give it a try – you can explore many of these CDNs for free, without handing over payment details or signing up for any contract.

Cloudflare is a hugely popular American content delivery service which combines novice-friendly ease of use with expert-level features and functionality.

Setup is simple, with no need to edit your code. Just update your DNS nameservers to use Cloudflare and the service kicks in automatically, caching content and serving it to visitors from their nearest location.

But there's much, much more. Web filtering can block bots, limit content spam, keep you safe from hackers or detect and mitigate DDoS attacks. Smart image optimizations can reduce image file sizes by up to 35%, further improving speeds. There's wide support for standards like IPv6, HTTP/2 and SPDY, clever page rules to help you manipulate traffic, and a REST API allows developers to take full control of what the service is doing.

Cloudflare's free plan allows you to see what the service can do, without making any commitments. It's very usable, with unlimited bandwidth and no annoying restrictions to try and force you to upgrade.

Upgrading to the Pro plan costs a reasonable $20 (£16) a month, and adds the image optimization rules, extra configurability and improved support.

Whatever you choose, Cloudflare delivers great performance. As we write, the benchmarking site CDNPerf ranks Cloudflare at seventh place for worldwide HTTP request response times out of a field of 20 top CDNs.

Fastly provides CDN tricks for some really big organizations, including the likes of Spotify and Reddit, and the firm lives up to its name, delivering impressively fast performance levels. Going by the rough guideline of CDNPerf’s rankings, it’s the second fastest CDN for the UK, and worldwide speeds are mostly good, too.

Perhaps Fastly’s strongest point, however, is just how configurable the service is. For example, there’s diverse support for different types of video caching, and tons of low-level controls for those who want to get stuck into the likes of manipulating HTTP headers to customize how content is served.

Of course, some know-how is required to set up everything, and novices to the CDN world will doubtless be confused by all the options on offer. But for those who need this level of flexibility and configurability, it’s priceless to have.

Speaking of the price, Fastly operates a pay-as-you-go model with a minimum charge of $50 (£37) per month. In addition, you can test up to $50 of traffic for free.

KeyCDN is an easy-to-use budget CDN that might be a good pick for first-time users.

Getting started couldn't be much simpler. Sign up with your email address and you get an immediate 25GB to play with, no payment details required. A well-designed web dashboard enables creating your first zone with the minimum of clicks, and there are guides to help you integrate the service with WordPress and other apps. 

Worth mentioning is that as of late November 2018, KeyCDN fully supports IPv6.

More experienced users will appreciate options like Origin Shield – this allows you to specify a KeyCDN server to be the source for updates rather than the origin, reducing your server load. You're able to manipulate headers, cache or strip cookies, or set up a custom robots.txt. Once the service is running, a capable set of reporting tools enable watching CDN performance in near real-time. Also, all customers have access to Image Processing feature, which is great for image optimization.

KeyCDN's standout feature has to be its low prices. Bandwidth charges start at $0.04 (£0.032) per GB, less than half the price you'll pay with some of the high-end competition. The minimum charge is a tiny $49 (£39) a year. (Yes, really – a year.) The company doesn't even try to cash in on the extras, for example offering shared SSL and custom Let's encrypt SSL certificates for free.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, these low prices don't get you leading-edge performance, but there's still plenty of power here and you do get a lot for your money.

MetaCDN is an Australian company which combines the CDNs of Amazon Cloudfront, Fastly and Verizon's EdgeCast into a single speedy service.

Why? It's all about performance. When a visitor accesses your site, MetaCDN has three networks and more than 120 locations to choose from – way more than anyone else. In other words, there’s a much greater chance any visitor will have a server near them.

This matters because every CDN delivers its best performance in different areas. EdgeCast scores highly in North America, for instance, but Fastly is quicker in the UK. MetaCDN automatically chooses the best network for every visitor's location, giving you the best of all worlds.

This approach does have a catch. When you sign up with a single CDN, you can get access to all its individual settings and options, but combining three means you only get settings which apply to all of them (for obvious reasons). Which essentially means MetaCDN has barely any configuration options at all. (Check the Support site to get a rough feel for how the system works.)

Still, MetaCDN is nicely user-friendly and it could be a good pick if speed is your top priority. Pricing is complicated (although not bad for access to enterprise-level CDNs) and there are three plans, Basic, Lite and Pro. The most popular one, Lite, is $50 on a monthly basis (you can also choose a yearly rate, for a $39 a month).

This CDN provider focuses mainly on the West, with 14 points of presence (PoPs) in North America, and nine in Europe. There are only five PoPs in Asia, and two in Australia and South America (Brazil).

StackPath is user-friendly, complete with a straightforward web console to manage your settings, and if you do get stuck, there’s extremely efficient technical support available via either live chat or phone.

Performance seems good in the US and UK, and indeed Europe, but further afield you may see things tail off a bit, which is hardly a surprise given StackPath’s aforementioned focus on Western nations.

Another strength here comes on the security front, with this CDN giving users free shared SSL (or the option to use your own SSL certificate, if you prefer). There’s also anti-DDoS technology and a capable Web Application Firewall.

All in all, this is a tempting offering with a baseline plan that charges $10 (£7.6) for up to 1TB of bandwidth per month. The first month is also free.


Update: The service has been now integrated with StackPath - "Everything you love about MaxCDN is being integrated into the new StackPath CDN service."  

MaxCDN is actually owned by StackPath now (the previously mentioned CDN), but provides a standalone service of its own which is well-suited for novices. You get 24/7 tech support with speedy responses promised (and indeed these claims stood up to our testing), and it’s easy enough to set up, and indeed use going forward.

You don’t get as many settings to play with as some of the more advanced services, but that’s hardly surprising when trying to keep things more user-friendly.

Another definite benefit is a range of useful reports, and a solid core network. MaxCDN offers eight edge locations in the US, five in Europe – and you can add additional locations in Asia (and Australia), but you have to pay extra for those.

Overall, though, pricing is a strong point, starting from $9 (£6.75) a month for a 100GB account, with a clean pricing structure which isn’t confusing in the slightest (often not the case with CDN offerings). Performance is, generally speaking, solid enough, and this CDN does pretty well for speeds in the UK and US.

Amazon CloudFront is the CDN facet of AWS (Amazon Web Services), so it’s certainly part of a heavyweight operation. And indeed CloudFront offers a raft of advanced features as you might expect, and you can customize all manner of things such as enabling automatic GZip compression for better speeds.

Another strength here is the in-depth analytics on tap, showing you details of your visitors’ device type, OS and so forth. There’s also the handy ability to set up alerts, meaning you can be warned when data transfer usage goes above a certain level.

The downside to all the options on offer is that relative novices to the CDN world may find CloudFront’s control panel a little intimidating, at least initially.

The other slight sticking points are that calculating pricing can be a rather tricky matter, and if you aren’t an experienced user familiar with CDN basics, tech support isn’t free – if you need help, you’ll have to fork out for it. Prices vary depending on region, but the good news is there’s a free tier (which gives you 50GB of data per month for one year).

Performance levels are fairly average, too, but there’s no denying the power and configurability that Amazon offers to the slightly more tech-savvy user.

As you’re doubtless aware, Microsoft Azure is a big old stack of integrated cloud tools for building and managing applications and services, with a wide range of coverage including a CDN offering, which is what we’re focusing on here, naturally. Note that this doesn’t use Microsoft’s own edge servers, but rather three plans that use other CDN networks: Standard Akamai, Standard Verizon, and Premium Verizon.

We fully discuss these various plans in our review of Microsoft’s CDN service, linked below, but suffice it to say that in terms of pricing – which can be somewhat confusing to work out – this isn’t the cheapest offering around. Still, those who want integration with other Microsoft technologies and services may well find the price worth paying.

You get a web dashboard which is absolutely crammed with features, although as ever, this means it’s not particularly easy to use for beginners (and the setup process is pretty involved, too). Performance levels are impressive, and at the time of writing, according to CDNPerf, Azure CDN is the second fastest content delivery network in the US and fourth worldwide.

This has to be a tempting prospect if you’re using other Azure services, or if you’re a developer who will appreciate the likes of .NET or PowerShell management features. You can create a free account and get started with 12 months of free services.

CDN77 is a big-name player in the content delivery game, with some heavyweight clients signed up including the European Space Agency. It has an expansive CDN network with 33 data centers across the globe, with many of those in Europe and the US, but there are also locations in South America, Asia and one in Australia.

The web console interface is very streamlined and keeps any jargon to a minimum, making it suitably user-friendly for novices to the CDN world. The flipside of this is that there aren’t a huge amount of options, although you can do some tweaking of various settings.

In terms of performance, CDN77 is solid enough, and it ranks as a lower-to-mid pack player that’s unlikely to disappoint, but certainly isn’t the fastest CDN network we found when reviewing these various services.

You get a free Let's Encrypt SSL certificate, and CDN77 is pretty good value for money overall in terms of its per-GB pricing, although it’s not the cheapest outfit we’ve highlighted here. Pricing starts at $0.049 per GB of data for US and European locations, with Asia and Latin America being more expensive. If you want to test the waters, there’s a 14-day risk-free trial, and you don’t need to supply any payment details for this.

If you need a powerful CDN, look no further than Leaseweb, an enterprise-level operation which is still suitable for regular business users – just about, although we should say upfront that it isn’t cheap, as you might imagine.

Pricing starts at $113 (£88, €99) per month for an entry-level plan with a 2TB data allowance, the good news being that even with this ‘basic’ subscription, you get all the same security and CDN features as the heavyweight enterprise plans.

That includes a smartly designed console for overseeing your CDN needs, complete with an extensive raft of potential settings and tweaks, featuring many options you don’t get with your average service (like the ability to set the cache-control header, or determine how long to cache 404 responses).

There’s also an in-depth statistics section which displays graphs and charts showing many interesting stats, such as visitor and traffic breakdowns, cache performance and the top file types which are seeing action.

The one somewhat bleak spot is Leaseweb’s performance, which seems somewhat off the pace going by CDNPerf’s findings, although it’s difficult to gauge exactly what results you’ll get in practice. Users who want a powerful range of features in their CDN could give the 30-day trial a go to find out.

The best iPhone games to play in 2019

If you've got a new or upgraded iPhone, or are simply just bored with what you've already got, then you'll be exhilarated to hear that you can revolutionise it, turning it into one of the greatest consoles of all time.

That's because the iPhone arguably kicked off the mobile gaming revolution, becoming home to exciting multitouch innovation through to ports of famous arcade titles. 

Today, most phones are capable, powerful handheld consoles – if you know the right games to buy.This round-up covers the best iPhone games available right now. It’s split into categories, so you can jump right to the top racers, puzzle games, adventures, platformers, and more.

We’ll also highlight one new game each week as our iPhone game of the week, so remember to check back regularly to get a taste of the latest game to consume your waking hours.

iPhone game of the week: Jumpgrid ($2.99/£2.99/AU$4.49)

Jumpgrid is an intense twitch arcade game where blinking can be enough to make you fail. Each of the 100 levels features clockwork obstacles keen to obliterate your little vessel. Your only means of escape: darting about a wraparound three-by-three grid, gobbling up spinning cubes, and then leaping into a teleporter.

From the off, with its urgent chiptunes, eye-searing visuals and ridiculous pace, this is a furious white-knuckle ride. You’re generously given endless retries, but your ego will take a beating when you fail a level for the umpteenth time.

But you’ll keep coming back for more, because Jumpgrid is so refined, balanced, and brilliantly designed – a superb take on a streamlined Frogger hurled into the maw of a Super Hexagon. A modern day classic, albeit one that might leave you a crumpled heap in the corner.

The best iPhone strategy games

These are our favorite iPhone card games, RTS and turn-based strategy titles, and board games to check out right now.

Kingdom Rush Vengeance ($4.99/£4.99/AU$7.99)

Kingdom Rush Vengeance is the latest entry in mobile gaming’s foremost tower defense series. As ever, the basics involve using resources to buy towers that stem the flow of adversaries. If too many of them reach their goal, you’re defeated and must try again.

The twist – at least from a storyline perspective – is that you’re the bad guy. Vez’nan the wizard has had enough, and is now on the rampage, attacking his nemeses. (How this is achieved through tower defense, we’ve no idea, but, well, video games.)

It’s visually smart, with varied levels, plus added strategy in the form of heroes to deploy and special powers to unleash. Even though it’s a touch fiddly on iPhone, and gates some towers and heroes behind IAP, Vengeance should be immediately snapped up by any fan of the genre.

Twinfold ($3.99/£3.99/AU$5.99)

Twinfold initially comes across a bit like iOS tile-sliding match classic Threes! You move cards within a claustrophobic grid, aiming to match pairs and double their face value, and cards all sport expressions, imbuing them with the kind of personality typically absent from such games.

Very rapidly, though, you realize Twinfold has more in common with turn-based dungeon crawlers than puzzlers. Your aim is primarily to survive; and this requires you learn and master rules and powers that enable you to efficiently deal with enemies roaming the mazes that shift and change every time you gulp down an energy-giving yellow card.

Despite the tight confines of the arena, there’s loads of depth here – but it sits behind a vibrant and inviting interface that ensures immediacy and accessibility. Top stuff.

Euclidean Skies ($4.99/£4.99/AU$7.99)

Euclidean Skies takes the framework behind iOS classic Euclidean Lands and stretches it to breaking point. Lands had you move in turn-based fashion on floating structures akin to Rubik’s Cubes, attacking nearby foes in chess-like fashion. Manipulating the landscape was as important as the direction of your next step. But in Skies, the land itself can be pulled to pieces.

This means the original’s quiet clockwork elegance has been replaced with a kind of brain-thumping chaos. You may be tasked with obliterating a giant monster’s spine by reworking the landscape, or figuring out how to simultaneously carve a pathway to a switch and some doors.

It’s hard work, but hugely rewarding; and even though the game’s a touch fiddly on the smaller screen, iCloud sync means you can always pick up from where you left off on your iPad.

Reigns: Game of Thrones ($3.99/£3.99/AU$5.99)

Reigns: Game of Thrones slaps a famous license on now-familiar Tinder-meets-kingdom management larks from the original Reigns, and follow-up Reigns: Her Majesty. You tend to the needs and desires of your subjects and enemies, keeping the army, church, people and bank happy – but not to the point they’ll instigate your untimely demise.

Flick cards left or right and your approval ratings change accordingly – and sometimes unpredictably. Quests and themes run throughout, providing surprising depth, given the basic nature of your interactions.

The writing is great, although the game is more enjoyable if you’re a fan of the TV show on which it’s based. But even if you’re a newcomer, this Reigns is fun, with you seeing how far you can get into its complex narrative web before being brutally taken down by any number of foes.

Sid Meier's Civilization VI (free + $19.99/£19.99/AU$30.99 IAP)

Sid Meier's Civilization VI is one of the PC’s finest 4X (eXplore; eXpand; eXploit; eXterminate) strategy titles. Its turn-based shenanigans have you explore a brand-new world, aiming to be the dominant civilization through conquering space, getting absurdly rich, or giving everyone else a kicking until your mob’s the only one left standing.

When the game arrived for iPad, that was an eye-opener, but now it’s on your iPhone. This isn’t a cut-back, cartoonish take either – it’s the full experience.

There are drawbacks beyond the high price – the game’s a touch fiddly on a phone, requires powerful hardware, and lacks cloud save sync. We’d love to play a few turns on the train and continue later on an iPad. Gripes aside, this game showcases the potential for immersive AAA experiences on iPhone like no other.

Meteorfall: Journey ($2.99/£2.99/AU$4.49)

Meteorfall: Journey is a mobile-friendly adventuring game, but rather than your hero venturing forth into a grid-like take on a fantasy realm, everything here’s based around a deck of cards.

Decisions are made Tinder-style, with you swiping left or right. You might beat up a monster or save your strength for later, knowing in the back of your mind that growing more powerful only comes from battle victories. Or while on the road, you might face the choice between visiting a blacksmith for weapons upgrades or a temple to optimize the cards you hold.

This might sound complex, but it’s really not. Meteorfall: Journey is approachable and immediate, but with enough depth to keep you playing for many months due to its semi-random setups, multiple heroes and varied quests.

Reigns: Her Majesty ($2.99/£2.99/AU$4.49)

Reigns: Her Majesty is a kingdom management game smashed into Tinder. You must tend to the needs and desires of your subjects, ensuring the church, people, army and treasury are kept happy – but not powerful enough to instigate your untimely demise.

Actions happen by flicking cards left or right in response to requests and questions. Your approval rating with the aforementioned factions then changes – sometimes unpredictably. It’s a simple, fun system, but one with surprising depth.

This is partly down to a great script, but the balancing act is further complicated and augmented by challenges. When completed, these often unlock new cards and storylines. And should things go badly wrong, death is not the end – quests thread throughout the ages as you play on as the next in a seemingly endless line of queens.

Card Crawl ($2.99/£2.99/AU$4.49)

Card Crawl is solitaire reimagined as a dungeon crawler – or perhaps the other way around. Regardless, it pits you against a grumpy ogre’s deck of 54 cards. During each round, he deals four cards, which may be a mix of weapons, potions, spells, and hideous enemies.

Your own four slots are for the adventurer, your two hands, and a backpack to stash items in for later. The adventurer’s health is diminished when fighting monsters (unless armed), but you can counter by getting stabby with swords (or hiding behind a shield, like a coward).

Games are brief – only a few minutes long – but Card Crawl manages to balance randomness and strategy. Over time, you can unlock new abilities and figure out strategies to boost your high scores. It’s a polished, entertaining and clever take on card games that’s ideal for iPhone.

Exploding Kittens ($1.99/£1.99/AU$2.99)

High-octane card games don’t seem the greatest fit for iPhone gaming, but Exploding Kittens perfectly captures the manic chaos of the Oatmeal-illustrated original. As per that version, this is Russian roulette with detonating cats.

Players take turns to grab a card, and if they get an exploding kitten, they must defuse it or very abruptly find themselves out of the game.

Strategy comes by way of action cards, which enable you to peek at the deck, skip a turn, steal cards from an opponent, and draw from the bottom of the deck “like the baby you are”.

Local and online multiplayer is supported, timers stop people from dawdling, and a ‘chance of kitten’ meter helps everyone keep track of the odds. Large hands of cards rather irritatingly require quite a bit of swiping to peruse (although cards can be reordered), but otherwise this is first-rate and amusingly deranged multiplayer mayhem.

Warbits ($4.99/£4.99/AU$7.99)

Nintendo fans probably wonder why the big N hasn't yet brought the superb Advance Wars to iPad, but Warbits now scratches that particular itch. However, although Warbits is influenced by Nintendo's turn-based strategy title, it isn't a copy — the iOS game brings plenty of new thinking to the table and is very much optimised for the iPad.

Working with 16 varied units, you conquer a series of battlefields by directing your troops, making careful note of your strengths and the enemy's relevant weaknesses. All the while, Warbits merrily has you and your opponent trading barbs, often about subjects such as whether tomatoes are fruit, because that's the kind of thing you'd go to war over.

Finish the 20-mission campaign and you'll have a decent grasp of Warbits, and can then venture online to take on other human players across dozens of different maps. With superb visuals, enough new ideas over the game that inspired it, and a single one-off price-tag, Warbits is a must-buy for any iPhone-owning strategy nut.

Our favorite iPhone point-and-click adventures, room escape games, narrative tales, and gamebooks.

Maginary (free + $4.99/£4.99/AU$7.99)

Maginary exists in a gray area between novella and game. From the off, you get an inkling of what’s in store, on inputting your name and seeing it infused into the story. As you read on, it becomes clear interactions with your device affect what occurs within Maginary’s world.

There’s a great sense of atmosphere, from subtle sound effects to surprising animations that shake up the story in real-time – in narrative and visual terms. Events barrel along at some pace, too.

The story is resolutely linear, though – there’s no freedom to explore, unlike in, say, Device 6. But this doesn’t matter when you’re glued to the screen, and the interactive components are so cleverly designed. Entertainingly, even the one-off IAP to unlock the last two-thirds of the book is baked deep into the storyline – how very meta!

Florence ($2.99/£2.99/AU$4.49)

Florence is really an interactive storybook, but there are game-like elements peppered throughout – and because it was created by the lead designer of Monument Valley, you know it’ll be full of heart.

It also features plenty of clever design elements. For example, you at one point create something as a child that later makes a reappearance in a box of mementos. After a crash, sliders are used to make the blurred vision of the protagonist coherent. And at one point you fashion speech balloons from puzzle pieces, which reduce in number as the people conversing with each other become more comfortable.

The downside is brevity – Florence is very short and lacks replay value. But it’s a heartwarming experience, and one that showcases the kind of innovation that occurs at the fringe of gaming.

Far From Noise ($2.99/£2.99/AU$4.49)

Far From Noise is as much an exercise in self-reflection as a game. It begins with a car balanced precariously on a cliff edge. With no means of escape, what remains is to make sense of it all – not easy when you start possibly hallucinating a conversation with a surprisingly philosophical deer.

Interaction comes by way of balloons, which you tap to confirm thoughts and actions. As you make decisions, the narrative branches, leading you to one of several endings. Oddly, we could have perhaps done with fewer choices, because many seemed almost inconsequential. Although perhaps that’s the point.

Despite the situation (car wobbling; imminent death), the pace is very restful and the experience is unique. We suspect Far From Noise will nonetheless prove divisive, but it’s great to see such artistic games on iPhone.

Dark Echo ($1.99/£1.99/AU$2.99)

Dark Echo is a weirdly creepy horror game that manages to make squiggly lines scary. As you stomp about in the dark, sound waves are represented as abstract lines that rebound off of objects you can’t otherwise see.

The soundtrack is all-important. Don a pair of headphones, and you can hear your footsteps, and the floor squelching beneath you. Flies buzz as you pass… well, it doesn’t bear thinking about. And then you hear things growling in the shadows, before one decides it fancies a snack.

Dark Echo will helpfully suggest RUN! as you bolt for an exit – or end up devoured in a dead end. It’s a great example of how the imagination can give you bigger scares than any rendered CGI beast on your iPhone’s screen. That and you’ll never look at red zig-zags in quite the same way again.

Mr. Robot ($2.99/£2.99/AU$4.49)

Based on the hit TV show, Mr. Robot (or Mr. Robot:1.51exfiltrati0n.ipa, to give it its full name), immerses you in a world of hacking as you accidentally become entwined with a shady group planning a mysterious world-changing event.

It begins with a smartphone you find and quickly pocket, shortly before it's hacked by its actual owner, the furious Darlene, who then press-gangs you into service. The game plays out by way of a messaging app, your replies selected from canned responses to progress you through the narrative.

This simple structure is similar to the Lifeline games, and there's a distinct feeling of being shoved along a particular story regardless of what you choose to say. However, it's exciting bouncing between different message threads, and smart writing throughout infuses the game with palpable tension.

Sorcery! 4 ($4.99/£4.99/AU$7.99)

Gamebook-style text adventures have had something of a renaissance on mobile, and the adaptations of Steve Jackson's Sorcery! series are among the very best. The fourth entry, suitably titled Sorcery! 4, again immerses you in a world of fantasy, with you attempting to ascend a mountain, infiltrate a fortress, and recover the Crown of Kings.

If you’ve played previous games in the series, you’ll find a familiar set-up akin to a single-player board game. You drag your character about, respond to scenarios, bash up monsters, and can (thankfully) flip back to save points should you mess up and get horribly killed.

But even for total newcomers, there’s a full standalone adventure here – one that perfectly marries and balances a book, interactive game, and touchscreen experience. (Note that should you fancy trying the rest of the series first, it’s available as a bargain-priced three-pack.)

The Room Three ($3.99/£3.99/AU$5.99)

The Room is a series about mysteries within mysteries. It begins with a box. Fiddling with dials and switches causes things to spring to life elsewhere, and you soon find boxes within the boxes, layers unraveling before you; it’s the videogame equivalent of Russian dolls meets carpentry, as breathed into life by a crazed inventor.

The Room’s curious narrative and fragments of horror coalesce in follow-up The Room Two, which expands the ‘boxes’ into more varied environments – a seance room; a pirate ship. Movement remains restricted and on rails, but you’re afforded a touch more freedom as you navigate your way through a strange clockwork world.

The Room Three is the most expansive of them all, featuring intricate, clever puzzles, as you attempt to free yourself from The Craftsman and his island of deranged traps and trials. Get all three games, and play them through in order, preferably in a dark room when rain’s pouring down outside for best effect.

Spider: Rite of the Shrouded Moon ($4.99/£4.99/AU$7.99)

A game of exploration, mystery, and puzzles, Spider: Rite of the Shrouded Moon once again stars an intrepid eight-legged protagonist and lets you unravel a subtle story with each clue you find. Trap insects in your web as you explore the enormous Blackbird Estate, and solve some puzzles along the way too.

What's more, the game uses your location, time, and local weather to add dynamic features to your experience each time you play.

Our favorite iPhone arcade titles, from breakout and one-thumb rhythm action to multitouch madness and gorgeous survival efforts.

Microbian (free + $1.99/£1.99/AU$2.99)

Microbian is a creepy arcade game that features a scuttling spider scurrying through the gloom. Its monochrome world is full of traps, and instant death is always but a second away.

To keep the arachnid hero alive, you tap to make it jump, thereby avoiding things liable to kill it. Tap again while it’s in mid-air, and it will leap to the ceiling – or back to the floor if it’s already upside-down. The procedurally-generated path is finite, but you’ll need the timing and focus of a champ to reach the end.

Even if you never make it, Microbian is well worth a look. The action is great for quick blasts, and the art style is gorgeous – from jump scares when spike-toothed monsters lurch from the dark, to flying fish that offer a brief ride to safer ground.

INKS. ($2.99/£2.99/AU$4.49)

INKS. is a pinball game. Each table has flippers and a ball to spang about, but INKS. differentiates itself from traditional fare by instilling proceedings with art and fine-tuning challenges so they heighten pinball’s demands for precision shots.

Tables are therefore stripped back, simple affairs, with a handful of targets, and you are rewarded for hitting them all in a minimum number of shots. Delightfully, targets splatter ink when hit, which the ball can subsequently pick up and create trails with, transforming every table into a tiny canvas.

Devoid of the clutter usually associated with pinball, INKS. is far more suited to iPhone play; and the unique presentation makes it a pinball game for people who didn’t even realize they might like pinball.

Spitkiss ($1.99/£1.99/AU$2.99)

Spitkiss is an arcade game about lobbing bodily fluids about. That probably sounds a bit graphic, but Spitkiss actually comes across as a sweet-natured, cartoonish game, with cute characters in silhouette flinging little blobs at each other.

The mechanics are a bit like Angry Birds, but once you’ve fired your goop by slingshot, you get another shot if it hits a flat surface. Typically, you need many to get to your target – and this isn’t simple in levels packed with winding pathways, spikes, and monsters.

Fortunately, you can hold the screen for some slo-mo action, and plan your route before you start. It’s good stuff, in all – a quirky mix of shooter and platform game, and with a nicely conceived underlying narrative about love.

Dig Dog ($2.99/£2.99/AU$4.49)

Dig Dog features a dog that’s a big fan of digging. The pooch is after bones, but the snag is that this canine’s decided to search on fragile islands sitting atop deadly spikes, and peppered with roaming beasties.

You direct the hungry hound left and right, and tap a button to jump, at which point you can tap again to dig, tap fast to dig rapidly, or move horizontally to dash at speed.

Dig Dog’s claustrophobic nature and trap-laden levels create an experience that’s initially punishing. But put in the legwork and the game does open up. You’ll learn when to take risks, and how to obliterate multiple enemies in a series of bounds, to get extra coins you can spend on power-ups in a shop that infrequently appears.

Give this one time, then, and you’ll dig it.

Part Time UFO ($3.99/£3.99/AU$5.99)

Part Time UFO is the videogame equivalent of those claw crane games you find in arcades and want to smash because they keep dropping things. Only you won’t smash this one, because the claw extends from the bottom of an adorably cute UFO.

Said alien has crashed on Earth, and rather than humans spiriting it away to a top-secret location, they suggest it starts earning a living. So the little hovering critter ends up performing duties such as dropping goods in a van, repairing a broken art exhibit, and, erm, stacking cheerleaders.

The entire thing’s regularly frustrating yet spellbindingly charming. Just make sure you ditch the on-screen joystick for the thumbs-anywhere option, or you’ve no chance of success.

AR Smash Tanks! ($1.99/£1.99/AU$2.99)

AR Smash Tanks! is all about smashing tanks. Specifically, using yours to smash up your opponent’s.

Because this is an augmented reality game, you can project the rectangular arena onto anything from a table to a large garden – and then let battle commence. Whether using multiple devices or playing with pass-and-play, it’s great to be able to check out your next move from any angle.

Tanks are pinged around in slingshot fashion. If you’ve played Angry Birds, you’ll be right at home and, as with that title, the environments are destructible. That comes as a surprise first time round, when you knock a skyscraper on to your own tank. Later, you start trying for snooker-like trick shots, toppling towers, smashing up tanks, and escaping to safety.

In short, it’s tons of fun; an excellent example of the potential in AR gaming.

Super Samurai Rampage ($1.99/£1.99/AU$2.99)

Super Samurai Rampage seemingly depicts the stabby breakdown of a legendary warrior, “provoked into a relentless rampage”. Quite how he was provoked isn’t made clear, but there’s no shortage of bloodshed in this lightning-fast slash ’em up.

Swipe the screen and your samurai moves and attacks: up and he’ll leap; across, and he’ll slash his sword – not great for anyone in the vicinity at the time. The key is to chain kills to increase a multiplier that culminates in a brief period of murdery invulnerability.

One hit and you’re dead, and although you’re given fair warning when an enemy’s going to attack, keeping track of everything on the busy screen is tricky. Still, get into the zone, and Super Samurai Rampage is a rewarding way to unleash your frustrations on hordes of little computer guys who should really learn to run away.

Beat Sneak Bandit ($2.99/£2.99/AU$4.49)

Beat Sneak Bandit is one of the most audacious genre mash-ups you’re likely to find on an iPhone. Despite each level taking place on a single screen, the game manages to combine platforming, pathfinding, rhythm action, turn-based puzzling, and stealth.

The premise is that the nefarious Duke Clockface has stolen all the clocks, throwing the world into disarray. Benevolent pilferer Beat Sneak Bandit vows to get them back.

Amazingly, everything is controlled using a single thumb, which propels Bandit onwards. He must move on the beat, and you make use of walls to turn around, ensuring the rhythmic hero’s not spotted by a guard or security camera.

The game’s full of character, along with devious level design that requires seriously twisty routes and deft timing to crack. Great stuff.

Micro Miners ($1.99/£1.99/AU$2.99)

Coming across like an auto-scrolling stripped-back Lemmings, Micro Miners features a team of excitable, tiny miners that toddle along tunnels you dig with a finger. On encountering a deposit of gold, silver or coal, they’ll gleefully hack it to bits with their tiny pickaxes.

At first, this all feels noodly and simple, but Micro Miners soon bares its teeth. You must commit each level’s layout to memory, in order to navigate underground hazards, often splitting and rejoining your little auto-running-team.

Before long, you’re carving complex pathways through the dirt, so you can grab large deposits and huge gems, circumvent lava, and avoid ferocious giant worms that eat anyone daft enough to stray into their path. The result is a fun, sometimes chaotic, and unique iPhone gaming experience.

Edge ($2.99/£2.99/AU$4.49)

In Edge, you control a cube that finds itself within a minimal geometric clockwork universe. As the cube trundles about, the blocky world frequently shifts and changes, often thwarting your attempts to find the goal. When you do finish a level, Edge dispassionately awards you a rating, which will probably be rubbish.

If you’ve got steely resolve, you’ll try again to see how rapidly you can speed through each isometric wonderland. If not, you’ll still have a great time exploring the dozens of varied worlds, regularly being surprised at how much imagination can be packed into landscapes comprising only cubes.

And if in either case, you exhaust Edge’s levels, you can start all over again in equally impressive sequel Edge Extended.

Eliss Infinity ($2.99/£2.99/AU$4.49)

The original Eliss was an early App Store darling, defining the iPhone in terms of multi-touch gaming. Eliss Infinity takes the basic premise of the original and runs with it, cementing itself as a modern-day classic.

The basic aim is to control (move; tear apart; combine) colored planets in order to fit into them into wormholes that sporadically appear. Should planets of different colors collide, your energy reserves are depleted – only replenished by mopping up space dust that appears after successful planet dumpage.

Each of Odyssey mode’s 25 levels demands unique tactics to conquer. Best them all and there’s the manic Infinity mode, ready to tie your fingers in knots.

Power Hover ($3.99/£3.99/AU$5.99)

Power Hover is an impressive action game that takes you through a beautiful world to recover a village's stolen power. Hover through deserts, oceans, and highways, and grind on rails as you make your way to the finish line, chase down baddies, or play through arcade-style boss runs and challenge your friends for the best score. Collect dropped batteries to unlock even more gorgeous and thrilling levels.

It turns out the future will involve hoverboards, only it'll be robots piloting them. In Power Hover, all the humans are gone, but so too are the batteries that power your robot village. So you hop on your flying board and pursue a thief through 30 varied and visually stunning levels.

Whether scything curved paths across a gorgeous sun-drenched sea or picking your way through a grey and dead human city, Power Hover will have you glued to the screen until you reach the end of the journey. And although it's initially tricky to get to grips with, you'll soon discover the board's floaty physics and controls are perfectly balanced.

Our favorite iPhone games where you run, leap, board, and dodge your way to a high-score – or an abrupt end.

Alto’s Odyssey ($4.99/£4.99/AU$7.99)

Alto’s Odyssey is a side-on endless sandboarding game. Alto zooms across windswept dunes, frequently hurling himself into the air to perform speed-boosting tricks that then enable him to leap across vast canyons.

In gameplay terms, it echoes Alto’s Adventure, and long-time players of that title might get a sense of deja vu. However, stick with Odyssey and you learn it’s more than just a reskin.

Complete achievements and new elements are slowly revealed: additional biomes to explore, and – more importantly – a rock-wall ride move that can have you reach greater heights than ever.

The main mission remains a curious combination of heart-poundingly exhilarating (when escaping a frenzied lemur, or completing a jump by a hair’s breadth) and relaxing; if you hanker after the latter, check out the Zen mode, which removes scores, coins and power-ups. At that point, it really is just you and the endless desert.

Impossible Road ($2.99/£2.99/AU$4.49)

Impossible Road is an endless survival game, starring a featureless sphere belting along a ribbon of road suspended in space. Gates are placed along the road at intervals, each of which bestows a single point when you blaze through it. As the road bucks and lurches, it’s all you can do to stop yourself plummeting into the abyss.

But Impossible Road is sneaky. It turns out that if you’re careful – or lucky – you can soar briefly into the air and return to the track, taking massive shortcuts that would perhaps be best referred to as ‘cheating’.

Amusingly, high scores are logged not only for the farthest gate reached, but also the most skipped. And although the App Store has freebie riffs on the Impossible Road theme, none have the class, style, polish and razor-sharp focus of this premium title – so stick to the original.

Canabalt ($2.99/£2.99/AU$4.49)

Canabalt popularized endless runners on the iPhone. Originally released in 2009, it strips back platform gaming to tapping the screen to make a little sprinting man leap over gaps rather than plummet to his doom.

You might wonder why such an ancient title is on this best-of list, but Canabalt is a classic that easily deserves a place. With a firm emphasis on speed, Canabalt’s breakneck pace makes it a pure adrenaline rush in a way that complex and slower rivals just can’t match.

The game hasn’t stood still for years, either. It’s optimized for modern iPhones and has eight variants on the basic theme. The aesthetics remain intriguing too – an ominous, urgent soundtrack accompanies a city’s destruction by massive machines, perhaps explaining why the leaping hero is so desperate to flee.

Sheep Goes Right ($0.99/£0.99/AU$1.49)

Sheep Goes Right is an auto-scrolling arcade game that features a sheep that goes right. And also up. But mostly right.

For reasons unknown, the heroic Sheepy has been challenged to pick his way through 100 levels of mayhem, packed with swirling maces and massive spiked balls. Hitting one is baa-d, sending you back to the start of the level, and wiping out one of your three gold stars. Fail too many times and the game assumes you’re rubbish and helpfully offers to let you skip the level, at which point you woolly feel like a failure.

The game looks crude, but proves compelling as you figure out which combination of rightward steps and upward jumps will get you to the end without being turned into a kebab.

Run-A-Whale ($0.99/99p/AU$1.49)

A friendly whale beckons a shipwrecked pirate to leap on its back. So begins their joint adventures, in Run-A-Whale, which is perhaps the iPhone’s most gorgeous endless runner.

Really, endless swimmer is more like it, seeing as you’re a massive aquatic mammal speeding through the sea. You hold the screen to dive and release your finger to surface and leap, grabbing coins in a manner akin to Jetpack Joyride in reverse.

But Jetpack Joyride was never this eye-dazzling, and Run-A-Whale is packed with wonderful moments, from soaring through the air after being blasted from a cannon, to zooming along as a volcano erupts in the distance.

Occasionally, the game irks with its demands – obstacles in succession you have little chance of avoiding, or unskippable tricky missions – but for the most part this is a gem that’s not to be missed.

Frutorious HD ($0.99/£0.99/AU$1.49)

Slingshotting cartoon characters across your iPhone’s screen is a popular gaming pursuit. But if you’ve become bored rigid of catapulting miffed avians at kleptomaniac hogs (and, let’s face it, who hasn’t?), try Frutorious HD for something that’s somewhat familiar, but with far more spark and heart.

The story is that an evil skull’s turned all the protagonist’s friends into fruits, and so he must bound up vertically scrolling levels, making use of handy levitating platforms and cannons to collect fruit and avoid various nasties ambling about.

It’s a jolly, sweet-natured game with superb hand-made visuals that add plenty of character, and a slightly unhinged edge always lurking just beneath the surface.

Chameleon Run ($1.99/£1.99/AU$2.99)

You might have played enough automatic runners to last several lifetimes, but Chameleon Run nonetheless deserves to be on your device. And although the basics might initially seem overly familiar (tap to jump and ensure your sprinting chap doesn’t fall down a hole), there’s in fact a lot going on here.

Each level has been meticulously designed, which elevates Chameleon Run beyond its algorithmically generated contemporaries. Like the best platform games, you must commit every platform and gap to memory to succeed. But also, color-switching and ‘head jumps’ open up new possibilities for route-finding – and failure!

In the former case, you must ensure you’re the right color before landing on colored platforms. With the latter, you can smash your head into a platform above to give you one more chance to leap forward and not tumble into the void.

Super Hexagon ($2.99/£2.99/AU$4.49)

Super Hexagon is an endless survival game that mercilessly laughs at your incompetence. It begins with a tiny spaceship at the centre of the screen, and walls rapidly closing in. All you need to do is move left and right to nip through the gaps.

Unfortunately for you, the walls keep shifting and changing, the screen pulses to the chip-tune soundtrack, and the entire experience whirls and jolts like you’re inside a particularly violent washing machine. It seems impossible, but you soon start to recognize patterns in the walls.

String together some deft moves, survive a minute by the skin of your teeth, and you briefly feel like a boss as new arenas are unlocked. And although complacency is wiped from your face the instant you venture near them, Super Hexagon has an intoxicating, compelling nature to offset its mile-long sadistic streak.

Our favorite iPhone platform games, from retro-style 2D titles to full-on console-style adventures.

Rolando: Royal Edition ($2.99/£2.99/AU$4.49)

Rolando: Royal Edition is a love letter from the early days of iPhone gaming. It remasters one of the platform’s earliest hits, released way back in 2008: an inventive puzzle-platformer, where you trundle rotund Rolandos to their goal.

With drag-based selection in the multiple-character levels, gestural actions and tilt-based movement, Rolando always felt like a game designed for iPhone first. It’s stood the test of time remarkably well. With spruced-up visuals, it still feels like a modern, vibrant take on what mobile gaming can be.

There’s great variety in its challenges too, whether you’re rolling a chubby regal Rolando along, avoiding traps and pits, or whirling your iPhone around like a maniac, trying desperately to get to the end of a level in an extremely tight time limit. Buy it (again)!

see/saw ($2.99/£2.99/AU$4.49)

see/saw is a fast-paced platform game with a delicious streak of sadism. It features a subject who’s been invited to help with scientific tests of a distinctly dubious nature. 

Each single-screen test involves collecting three coins as rapidly as possible. This is easy at first, as your little player zips about, scooting up walls, and leaping around. But the professor in charge is a nutcase, and soon has you facing massive saw blades, spikes, and rockets. Helpfully, challenges often require the player to be killed in precisely the right manner to fling them at the final target.

With 150 bite-sized levels, this platformer is ideal for dipping into – and engaging enough that you may find yourself wanting to blaze through the entire thing in a handful of sittings.

Suzy Cube ($3.99/£3.99/AU$5.99)

Suzy Cube is a platform game set in a world with a thing for straight edges. Assuming you’ve played a platformer before, you know the drill: explore; grab gold; unsportingly jump on the heads of enemies to obliterate them.

But Suzy Cube goes beyond the stripped-back 2D fare we often see on iOS for something akin to Super Mario 3D Land. This means you may find yourself quickly swapping between skidding down icy mountains in 3D, following Suzy Cube as she runs side-on around a tower, and then delicately leaping between floating platforms, as seen from above.

Bar some duff boss battles, it’s ambitious, entertaining fare, with tight touchscreen controls, and a great sense of pace and variety as you delve into the world and discover its many hidden secrets.

Oddmar ($4.99/£4.99/AU$7.99)

Oddmar is a platform game featuring the titular protagonist, a selfish Viking who suddenly has to become the hero when his village vanishes and evil critters take over the land. It is a stunning mobile production, awash with dazzling visuals, and wonderful set pieces, such as trying desperately to outrun a massive troll in a boss battle, or riding a pig like you’re starring in a medieval Metal Slug.

But even the more typical platforming bits are something special. Wonderful animation ensures the game is full of life, while carefully placed hazards and enemies cleverly shift and change the game’s tempo as you pick your way through each level.

On iPhone, there’s the slight niggle of thumbs getting in the way of the action. That said, the controls are among the best we’ve ever seen on a mobile platformer, as – to be frank – are all other aspects of the game.

Ovivo ($0.99/£0.79/AU$0.99)

Ovivo comes across as much like an art experiment as a platform game. It’s certainly rather more reflective than most running and jumping games.

Much of this is down to the environments, which are all stark monochrome – semi-abstract silhouettes that only occasionally offer a spark of familiarity. You tilt your device to move circular protagonist Ovo, and a tap of the screen switches Ovo from existing within the light to the dark.

By using gravity and flipping from black to white (and back) at opportune moments, you can scale hitherto unreached heights. And although there are objects to collect en route, your main aim is simply to reach a goal. Finish an entire world and the screen zooms out, giving you a slice of dazzling artwork to take in before immersing yourself in the next challenge.

Mikey Hooks ($1.99/£1.99/AU$2.99)

Mikey Hooks is a speed-run platform game that plays out a bit like a stripped-back Super Mario Bros. in fast-forward – if Mario happened to be armed with a grappling hook he could used to swing past enemies.

Each level is full of spikes, pits, monsters, and platforms, along with piles of gold coins to collect. You run left and right, and use virtual buttons to jump and slide through narrow gaps. The twist is the aforementioned ‘hooks’ bit, and it’s exhilarating to swing through the air, scooping up coins, missing a spike-headed roaming enemy by a whisker.

There are 36 levels and a bespoke ‘race’ mode to tackle; and to keep you coming back for more, you can race against ‘ghosts’ of your fastest times.

VVVVVV ($2.99/£2.99/AU$4.49)

VVVVVV is a love letter to classic games. Its visuals and soundtrack recall the Commodore 64, and its platforming action (each single-screen challenge also being amusingly named) echoes much-beloved 1980s fare, like Manic Miner and Bounty Bob.

However, VVVVVV’s speed and fluidity are thoroughly modern, as you zoom about a huge space station, trying to locate lost crew members. And unlike comparatively stodgy platformers of old, VVVVVV doesn’t have you leap over hazards – you instead invert gravity to flip between ceiling and floor in an excitingly disorienting manner.

The spike and alien-infested twisty corridors awaiting you require serious dexterity to conquer. Fortunately, death is not the end, because you get unlimited lives, and there are frequent checkpoints.

And in another nice nod to the old-school, even the 4:3 viewing area works in the game’s favor – you can control your character by swiping and tapping in black bars at the edges of your display, rather than covering up his on-screen exploits with your thumbs.

Bean Dreams ($2.99/£2.99/AU$4.49)

Precision platformer Bean Dreams is more bouncing bean than jumping bean. The edible hero, decked out in a natty sombrero, bounds about colorful environments, aiming to grab fruit, free a hidden axolotl (a Mexican salamander, if you didn’t know), and reach the exit without getting impaled. Your part in all this: guiding the bean by prodding left or right on your iPhone.

Bean Dreams offers plenty of replay value – you can spend time learning each small level, but only on committing to memory every nook and cranny can you aim for the tiny number of bounces that unlocks a gold medal award.

And to succeed in grabbing the axolotl or getting all the fruit, you’ll often need to play again, shaking up your approach.

With plenty of variation in its stages, alternate beans with special powers, and devious puzzles lurking within, Bean Dreams is ample proof platform games can work on iPhone – when specifically designed for the system.

Super Mario Run (free + $9.99/£9.99/AU$14.99)

Mario on iPhone could have been a disaster – a lazy port of a DS title with virtual buttons. But that’s not very Nintendo. Instead, Super Mario Run rethinks Mario for touchscreen and mobile, in a manner that initially seems reductive – even regressive – but that in time reveals a clever game with surprising depth.

In essence, it’s an auto-runner, where you tap to jump. But this isn’t Canabalt in Mario’s dungarees. Clever level design forces you to master – and subvert – perceived limitations should you want to scoop up all of the coins.

This transforms each of Super Mario Run’s admittedly smallish number of stages into a compelling mix of puzzling, precision timing, and gradual mastery of the game’s tiny worlds.

Undoubtedly, traditionalists will grumble, cheapskates will baulk at the price, and gamers on the go will rightly gripe at Nintendo’s infuriating decision to require an internet connection to play.

But we nonetheless reckon Super Mario Run is a worthy addition to the Mario canon – and a polished, playable title for iPhone.

Mimpi Dreams ($0.99/£0.99/AU$1.49)

Mimpi is a little dog with a big imagination, and in Mimpi Dreams he becomes a canine superhero as he snoozes. Within various dreamtime worlds, Mimpi fends off dragons, leaps atop projectiles blasted between pirate ships, and deals with the dastardly goings on in an evil pollution-spewing factory.

This all plays out as a straightforward platform puzzler. The cheery pup pootles along and you prod and swipe at various contraptions to make them do things so Mimpi can continue. Most of the puzzles are gentle in nature, but hints are generously peppered about and give you an idea of how to proceed by way of comic-like speech balloons.

Much of the joy in Mimpi's Dreams, though, is immersing yourself in its sheer inventiveness. Only a few times does it slip, with the odd tedious maze to grind through; mostly, the game is a breezy, grin-inducing, vibrant romp through a charming cartoon world.

Leo’s Fortune ($4.99/£4.99/AU$7.99)

The bar's set so low in modern mobile gaming that the word 'premium' has become almost meaningless. But Leo's Fortune bucks the trend, and truly deserves the term.

It's a somewhat old-school side-on platform game, featuring a gruff furball hunting down the thief who stole his gold (and then, as is always the way, dropped coins at precise, regular intervals along a lengthy, perilous pathway).

The game is visually stunning, from the protagonist's animation through to the lush, varied backdrops. The game also frequently shakes things up, varying its pace from Sonic-style loops to precise pixel-perfect leaps.

It at times perhaps pushes you a bit too far — late on, we found some sections a bit too finicky and demanding. But you can have as many cracks at a section as you please, and if you master the entire thing, there's a hardcore speedrun mode that challenges you to complete the entire journey without dying.

Drop Wizard ($1.99/£1.99/AU$2.99)

This single-screen platformer initially resembles a tribute to arcade classics Bubble Bobble and Snow Bros., but Drop Wizard is a very different beast. It's part auto-runner, which might infuriate retro-gamers, but this proves to be a brilliant limitation in practice.

Your little wizard never stops running, and emits a blast of magic each time he lands. You must therefore time leaps to blast roaming foes, and then boot the dazed creatures during a second pass. It's vibrant, fast-paced, engaging, and — since you only need to move left or right — nicely optimized for iPad play.

Our favorite iPhone turn-based puzzlers, match games, path-finding tests, dexterity challenges, and open-world brain-smashers.

The Witness ($9.99/£9.99/AU$14.99)

The Witness echos classic puzzle adventures like Myst. You emerge from a metal tunnel onto a lush island. You’ve no idea why you’re there – and the game isn’t saying. This wordless effort leaves you to figure out what’s going on.

What you do know is there are puzzles everywhere – maze and logic tests linked by massive lengths of piping. Learn the game’s ‘vocabulary’ and you can work yourself deeper into the island’s mysteries, eventually cracking the secrets of a distant mountain.

On iPhone’s smaller display, some of the visual spectacle is less dazzling, and interactions are more fiddly than on other systems. But for a game on the go, The Witness showcases the sheer clout and capabilities of modern iPhone gaming, and iCloud support means you can always continue your efforts on iPad.

Photographs - Puzzle Stories ($3.99/£3.99/AU$5.99)

Photographs - Puzzle Stories wraps familiar puzzle tropes around emotionally charged narratives – or perhaps it’s the other way around. Either way, the combination in this unique game sucks you in and never lets go.

Each of the five vignettes slowly reveals its tale, alternating voiceovers and basic animated scenes with you searching a screen for clues, and then brief puzzle sections. The last of those cleverly shift and change as the narrative demands, ensuring Photographs is a coherent whole.

This all makes for a surprising and rewarding game. What you won’t be prepared for, though, is the hard-hitting nature of the stories, which pull on the heart-strings as you work your way to the bittersweet ending. It’s an excellent game that shows puzzlers can do far more than just test your brainpower.

Snakebird Primer ($7.99/£7.99/AU$12.99)

Snakebird Primer is a turn-based puzzler that has you direct worm-like birds around levitating islands. They need to get to a swirling rainbow goal; but often the gaps between bits of land are too big, resulting in the grumpy burping avians ending up in the drink – or getting horribly spiked.

So you need to figure out paths, which often involves multiple birds working together. Eating fruit lengthens a bird, potentially enabling it to reach a ledge, or become a bridge for another. On quite a few levels, Tetris-style blocks appear – to help and hinder.

Snakebird Primer feels right at home on iPhone. It’s colorful, and the challenges tease your brain without smacking it too hard. But if you do get to the end and want a much sterner test, there’s always the vicious, unforgiving and equally brilliant Snakebird

Pipe Push Paradise ($3.99/£3.99/AU$5.99)

Pipe Push Paradise sends you to a desert island, but not to the beach. Nope – you’re there to sort out the island’s dreadful plumbing disasters. This involves moving massive pipes around confined angular rooms, aiming to make connections that get water flowing once again.

It echoes box-shoving games, but adds some ideas of its own. Pipes can be rotated and dropped into pits – and sometimes you’ll consider yourself victorious, but then realize your little character can’t get back out of the room, thereby forcing you to rethink.

On iPhone, the controls are a touch fiddly, but infinite undos ensure errors don’t frustrate, while also giving you space to experiment. With multiple challenges unlocked at any given time, this is a puzzler where you’ll want to plumb the depths.

Chuchel ($4.99/£4.99/AU$7.99)

Chuchel is a very strange experience that sits somewhere between trial-and-error logic game and decidedly oddball animation. The premise involves a ball of angry fluff who’s desperate to devour a cherry. Unfortunately for the hairball hero, it’s snatched away by a giant hand after every hard-fought victory.

Actually, ‘logic game’ might be stretching things a bit. Ultimately, you’re tapping hotspots, seeing how things play out, and trying to crack the sequence that will temporarily get Chuchel his fruity prize.

This can be a bit of a grind, given that you may end up seeing a canned animation several times before cracking a level; but it’s hard to stay mad at a game that has so much to give in terms of charm, surprise, energy, and flat-out imaginative weirdness.

Marching Order ($1.99/£1.99/AU$2.99)

Marching Order is an amusingly absurd logic game, featuring a put-upon band leader who must keep his band members happy. If he doesn’t, disaster ensues as the band abruptly collapses in a heap.

The way to keep said critters – a veritable menagerie of cartoon animals – content is by responding to their text messages. These brief missives outline specifically where each member wants to stand – one might, for example, want to be next to the drums, or sandwiched between animals with fur.

It’s fun, cute, silly, and also quite simple at first. But more animals are added after every few successful marches – and if that’s still not enough to challenge your brain and digits, there’s a tougher mode where you rearrange your bizarre band against the clock.

Where Shadows Slumber ($4.99/£4.99/AU$7.99)

Where Shadows Slumber is a puzzle adventure featuring an old man with a mysterious lantern. Its special power is to change the landscape when shadows are cast on it, transforming treacherous drops into bridges, and blocked passages into doorways.

Much of this is a logic test, with you needing to figure out how to build a path to an exit, sometimes with the help of lights you can switch on and off, or people that march back and forth, triggering switches. The mechanics are engaging, as is the minimal yet vibrant art style.

There’s also a story underpinning your adventures, which has moments as dark as the shadows that are cast. If nothing else, though, these shocking moments only make you root for the protagonist more, and urge you to help him to victory.

7 Billion Humans ($4.99/£4.99/AU$7.99)

7 Billion Humans is the follow-up to excellent puzzler Human Resource Machine. Taking place in a benign robot dystopia, it features humans that demand to be useful. The robots therefore have humans becoming living computer programs, performing entirely pointless tasks in return for the slightest praise.

Topical and satirical backstory aside, this is clever stuff. The puzzle mechanics use real-world programming concepts, although in a drag-and-drop manner that proves accessible to newcomers, but coding experts will also be tested by each level’s optional additional challenges that demand you use the fewest possible steps, or complete tasks within a set time.

On iPhone, the going is a touch fiddly on the smaller screen, in terms of interaction and seeing what all your people are doing. Even so, this is an excellent sequel – and a first-rate title in its own right.

Persephone ($3.99/£3.99/AU$5.99)

Persephone is a puzzle game that asks you: what if death is not the end? Here, it’s instead a vital component of solving puzzles.

That might sound a bit confusing, but really Persephone is a quite conventional isometric puzzler. You need to reach an exit, and do so by getting past hazards. It just so happens that along with avoiding projectiles and shoving boxes around, you sometimes have to trample on the corpse of your previous incarnation, or shove your dead predecessors along to trigger a switch.

It’s comically dark stuff, but in a cartoonish way. And its mix of the macabre, clockwork movement, and twisty labyrinthine puzzles makes for a compelling and engaging combination.

Evergarden ($4.99/£4.99/AU$7.99)

Evergarden is a gorgeous puzzler underpinned by an emotionally charged narrative adventure. The main game echoes Threes! and Triple Town, in being about merging elements on a board to boost your score. Only here, you’re combining plants into new forms, and having them strategically spit out seeds between rounds.

The game has a great sense of rhythm, and stunning visuals that make everything shine on the iPhone’s screen. It’s also layered, gradually revealing new ideas as you play. Early on, animal companion Fen will demand you match provided patterns to increase your score; within the adventure, you acquire new skills, and must strategically apply them within the main challenges.

In all, Evergarden is a distinctive, beautifully realized treat – even if you think you’ve already got quite enough mobile puzzlers installed on your device.

Donut County ($4.99/£4.99/AU$7.99)

Donut County is a physics puzzler where you play as a hungry hole in the ground. The more the hole eats, the larger it grows. Initially you are only able to swallow a few blades of grass but as you crack the correct order of items to gulp down you’ll soon be downing cars, buildings and even hillsides.

Coupled with the satisfying gameplay, Donut County adds lovely visuals, inventive ideas, and a superb storyline. The imaginative conceit is that a local raccoon has been sending people down the hole when they order donuts, and now everyone’s deep underground recounting their stories and figuring out how to get back to the surface.

The challenge is slight and the journey short, but that also means Donut County wisely doesn’t outstay its welcome. Instead, it’s a beautifully crafted finite slice of engaging entertainment.

Dissembler ($2.99/£2.99/AU$4.49)

Dissembler is a match puzzler that seemingly has you methodically dismantle tiny geometric works of art. The mechanics will be familiar to anyone who’s played the likes of Bejeweled – flip two elements (flat colored tiles in this case) and try to make a match of three or more – only there’s no gravity in this game to fill blank spaces.

Instead, your matches vanish, and nothing else appears, which sometimes leaves single tiles isolated. At that point, you must undo moves and think again, figuring out the precise sequence needed to consign the entire artwork to oblivion.

It’s a deliciously captivating, tactile game, which also builds on its many dozens of hand-made puzzles with an intriguing endless mode, and extra daily free puzzles. In all, it’s flipping great.

Linelight ($1.99/£1.99/AU$2.99)

Linelight is a serene, smartly designed puzzle game set in a universe of lines. It vaguely resembles a stripped-back take on Tron, or perhaps a circuit board diagram as reimagined by a graphic designer with taste. Your task is to help a white line find its way through dozens of pathfinding puzzles.

Movements are controlled by a virtual stick, which is one of the most effortless and elegant in any iOS game. The puzzles are similarly graceful and ingenious, gradually introducing new mechanics.

These include enemies that amusingly bob along to the chill-out soundtrack’s beat. Said foes are colored lines that kill with a single touch; but when carefully directed, they trigger switches to help you across otherwise impassable divides.

It might not be the longest experience on iOS, but Linelight deserves a place on your iPhone, due to being an engaging, beautiful experience, and a perfect example of how minimal design can have a soul.

Threes! ($5.99/£5.99/AU$9.99)

In our opinion, Threes! is the iPhone’s Tetris – that absurdly addictive puzzler that’s perfect for the hardware, with simple rules but enough depth that you can conceivably improve your skills over a period of years.

It takes place on a four-by-four grid, within which you manipulate tiled cards. The aim is to merge matching pairs, which increases their face value and leaves an extra space for subsequent cards to appear.

Subtleties in the rules keep Threes! head and shoulders above countless App Store pretenders, and it’s also infused with personality. Even when you’re in a fix, it’s hard to be mad at a game where all the cards on the board have cute faces and natter away to each other.

Hitman GO ($4.99/£4.99/AU$7.99)

Square Enix would have been on a hiding to nothing converting its free-roaming 3D game to touchscreens, and so it's great to see the company do something entirely different with Hitman GO.

Although still echoing the original series, this touchscreen title is presented as a board game of sorts, with turn-based actions against clockwork opposition. You must figure out your way to the prize, without getting knocked off (the board). It's an oddly adorable take on assassination, and one of the best iOS puzzlers. 

Lara Croft GO ($4.99/£4.99/AU$7.99)

Following in the footsteps of Hitman GO, which astonishingly managed to transform that series into an adorable board game, Lara Croft GO reworks the adventures of the world's most famous tomb raider. It's another turn-based affair, with lashings of atmosphere, finding Lara carefully working her way past traps crafted by an ancient civilisation with a penchant for blocky design and elaborate moving parts.

There are also lots of snakes and deadly lizards about, which she's quite keen on shooting in the head. The five chapters are quite brief, but savour the game rather than blazing through, and you'll find something that merges early Tomb Raider's sense of adventure and solitude, Monument Valley-level beauty, and bite-sized touchscreen gaming that's perfect for iPhone.

You Must Build A Boat ($2.99/£2.99/AU$4.49)

It's always great when a savvy developer rethinks a genre and comes up with something that feels fresh. EightyEight Games welds auto-running to match-three in You Must Build A Boat.

Deft fingerwork must be married with careful timing, matching keys as the hero approaches locked chests, or swords at the moment an incoming enemy prepares to get all stabby. Get shoved off of the left-hand side of the screen and you're told YOU WIN!, because every step potentially adds to your coffers.

There are missions to complete, abilities to power-up, and a cheeky sense of humour that sets the title apart from its frequently comparatively po-faced contemporaries.

Our favorite iPhone trails games, top-down racers, 3D console racing sims, and quirky time-attack challenges.

Rush Rally 3 ($3.99/£3.99/AU$5.99)

Rush Rally 3 reasons rally simulations shouldn’t be restricted to PCs or consoles under your telly. Here, you get the full experience, whether you like belting along stages with a co-driver yelling in your ear in which direction to head, or grinding metal in furious rallycross competitions.

Visually, the game looks great. It runs at 60fps, and you get to race in all lighting and weather conditions. The game feels good, too – the car is weighty but responsive. And, sensibly, the controls can be tuned to make things more manual – or less, if you fancy a more arcade-oriented blast.

During testing, we had the rare odd moment, not least the car once rather unrealistically clambering up a steep incline. For the most part, though, this game really does feel like a slice of console racing on your iPhone.

Reckless Racing 3 ($2.99/£2.99/AU$4.49)

Reckless Racing 3 is a top-down effort that features dilapidated cars and trucks battling it out across a surreal section of courses. Whereas the original in the series appropriately restricted itself to scrapyards and mall parking lots, Reckless Racing 3 features routes through a quaint European village, an airport, and a nuclear plant with a worrying amount of green goop sloshing about.

The handling feels a bit lightweight, but the races are amusingly smashy. And if you’re in the mood for something completely different, there’s a gymkhana mode for precision driving and drifting in your decrepit vehicle.

PAKO 2 ($1.99/£1.99/AU$2.99)

PAKO 2 exists in a bizarre universe of constant, unending criminal shenanigans, and a police force whose sole response to getaway drivers is to hurl police cars at them with merry abandon – and then attempt to blow them away with a gunship when that approach fails.

This presents a tiny problem for you, given that you’re the getaway driver. Prodding left and right to direct your tiny car, you must zoom between pick-ups and drop-offs, gradually powering up your car as you do so, and trying to avoid taking a career-ending plummet into a ravine, or being atomized by psychotic law enforcement.

PAKO 2 is a shallow game, but also buckets of fun, and with several environments and a slew of vehicles to unlock, it should tempt you to unleash your inner criminal for many weeks to come.

Grid Autosport ($9.99/£9.99/AU$14.99)

Grid Autosport is a console-quality racer. That isn’t hyperbole; this is an accurate conversion of a game that has graced countless PCs and PlayStation 3s – all on your iPhone.

Naturally, not just any iPhone will do; you’ll need an iPhone SE or an iPhone 7 or newer, and at least 6GB(!) of storage space. But once the game’s installed, you can immerse yourself in by far the deepest racing experience mobile has to offer.

If you’re a simulation nut, turn off all driving aids, head into a full season and prepare to spend time spinning off into gravel traps. More cautious players can stick with quick races and rookie mode for a while, gradually learning car handling and tracks alike, and wondering why all mobile games can’t be made with such love.

Pigeon Wings ($1.99/£1.99/AU$2.99)

Pigeon Wings is a deranged side-on racing game, featuring wide-eyed pigeons belting along in tiny planes. The backstory involves a rich nutcase aiming to destroy a city by way of a heavily-armed gigantic flying fortress; the birds race it out to decide who gets the chance to stop him.

The game switches things up between strings of races and occasional battles. In the former, you slipstream rivals, bob and weave through the air by tilting your iPhone, and power up your craft through trophies won in-game.

The shooty bits are brief and intense – a nice change of pace, despite the fact you’ll likely be blown to bits several times before claiming victory.

Should you hanker after something marrying the intensity of ALONE… and the frantic racing of Mario Kart, Pigeon Wings is a must – in fact, you’d be bird-brained to miss it.

Mini Motor Racing ($2.99/£2.99/AU$4.49)

Mini Motor Racing is a top-down racer featuring tiny vehicles that blast about twisty-turny circuits. They auto-accelerate, so you’re left with steering, and periodic use of a turbo that rockets your vehicle forward a few car lengths, leaving you unable to steer in the meantime.

From the off, Mini Motor Racing is frenetic. The tracks are claustrophobic, and the cars respond (and even sound like) remote controlled vehicles – albeit ones seemingly driven by psychopaths. Once you’re a few dozen races into the game, it seems your opponents are keener on smashing into you than winning.

That grumble leaves Mini Motor Racing languishing in the slipstream of the best top-down effort on iPhone, Reckless Racing 3, but it still manages a podium finish. And that’s because it’s packed full of content, has a great multiplayer mode, and in its ‘remastered’ 2017 form looks stunning.

Riptide GP: Renegade ($2.99/£2.99/AU$4.49)

The core of Riptide GP: Renegade feels like it's been wrenched wholesale from the unhinged water-based faction of 1990s arcade racers. Renegade, for the most part, matches their energy and spirit, as you barrel along splashy tracks atop a souped-up futuristic jet ski, performing death-defying stunts to accrue boost that catapults you along at even more breakneck speeds.

The game's packed full of content, from single races to a challenging career mode, and the premium price means you need skill rather than cash to succeed.

There are times you wish the game would let go a little – the colors are drab and it at times takes itself too seriously - but when it fully unleashes as you blaze through factories or get hurled into the air by the wake from a rocket launch, Renegade is glorious.

Drift 'n' Drive ($2.99/£2.99/AU$4.49)

Madcap racer Drift 'n' Drive somehow appears to have arrived from a 1980s home computer and yet feels perfect for mobile play. It's an old-school overhead racer that pits you against a grid of crazed opponents, all fighting to get to the finish line first.

The game only scrolls vertically, and the controls are simple: steer by tapping near a screen edge or prod the centre for a temporary boost of extra speed. Tracks snake left and right within the screen's narrow confines, but sometimes do so abruptly, causing plenty of opportunity for massive pile-ups.

Manage to not crawl in last and you move up the grid next time round. Place better and you start getting cash to upgrade your car. Before long, you're laughing like an idiot while barreling along in a race of two-dozen tiny cars buzzing around the track like flies, boosting into walls, and occasionally wondering why modern racers are rarely this much giddy fun.

Horizon Chase ($2.99/£2.99/AU$4.49 IAP)

Time was racing games were all about ludicrous speed, gorgeous graphics, and the sheer rush of weaving through a sea of cars to the finish line. Horizon Chase briefly reverses back to such halcyon days, grabs the best bits from the likes of Lotus and Top Gear, before zooming back to the present as a thoroughly modern arcade racer.

It looks gorgeous, with some stunning weather effects, and an odd but pleasing low-poly roadside-object style; it sounds great with veteran games musician Barry Leitch on soundtrack duties; but most importantly, it handles perfectly, and is a joy until the very last track.

AG Drive ($2.99/£2.99/AU$4.49)

In the future, it turns out people have tired of racers zooming about circuits on the ground. In AG Drive, tracks soar into the air – akin to massive roller-coasters along which daredevil racers of the day speed, gunning for the checkered flag.

This is a pure racing game – all about learning the twists and turns of every circuit, and the thrill of breakneck speed. The only weapons you have available are strategy and skill. And this suits the kind of stripped-back controls that work best on iPad – tilting to steer, and using thumbs to accelerate, brake, and trigger a turbo.

Also, while some slightly irksome IAP lurks, there’s little need to splash out. The game’s difficulty curve is such that you can gradually improve your skills and ship, working your way through varied events until you become an out-of-this-world racing legend. (Or, if you’re a bit rubbish, an ugly stain on the side of a massive metal building.)

Our favorite iPhone blasters, from precision shooters to classic arcade shoot ’em ups.

Backfire ($2.99/£2.99/AU$4.49)

Backfire is a shooter that pitches you as a coward who runs away from fights, blasting behind you as you flee. That’s fair enough in this claustrophobic horror world, where you’re relentlessly pursued by swarms of ferocious demons – or, for an occasional change of pace, one massive, deadly boss.

It’s worth noting this is a vicious, tough game. It feels ponderous at first, but soon your foes multiply in number and you end up darting through tiny gaps, blasting behind you, trying to eke out a few extra seconds of survival. Fortunately, you can upgrade powers between games, for a fractionally better fighting chance next time around.

Stick with it and gradual success feels very rewarding. And especially on iPhone, the touch controls are superb, movement feeling like fish darting about a pond – albeit one filled with glowing, demonic piranhas.

Steredenn ($3.99/£3.99/AU$5.99)

Steredenn is a side-on blaster with a retro bent but a modern feel. It’s packed full of delicate pixel art and you’d be forgiven for assuming it a port of a classic, but Steredenn takes full advantage of the iPhone’s power, flinging glowing bullet death about with merry abandon.

This is a smart shooter in every sense. There’s humor, with your ship endearingly expelling spent bullet cases, and a giant sword power-up, and you’re just as likely to find yourself battling swarms of craft with chainsaws strapped to their noses as laser-spewing behemoths. 

Procedurally-generated levels ensure Steredenn remains endlessly replayable, and refreshing your energy after beating a boss feels like a reward that also allows you to dig deeper into the game. 2019’s Binary Stars revamp – more ships, modes and content – further cemented its place as a mobile classic.

ATOMIK: RunGunJumpGun ($2.99/£2.99/AU$4.49)

ATOMIK: RunGunJumpGun finds the hero of the hour belting along hazard-infested corridors, attempting to obliterate evil-doers in a world where the local sun is dying. Unfortunately, said hero forgot their jet-pack, and relies on shooting a massive gun at the ground in order to stay aloft.

This becomes problematic when huge saw blades and the like need blasting. Shoot ahead and you plunge towards the ground (often covered in deadly spikes). The game therefore plays out like a choreographed juggling act, as you balance flying and shooting in its brutal, bite-sized levels.

Given how intense the game is (although you do get a shield and unlimited rewinds), it’s perhaps a good thing levels are short. But if you somehow don’t think it’s challenging enough, try grabbing every collectible; you can then rightly lay claim to being the toughest iPhone gamer around.

Tanks! - Seek and Destroy ($2.99/£2.99/AU$4.49)

One of the earliest 3D games was Battlezone, a tank warfare title at the time so realistic the US military commissioned a version from Atari to train gunners. iOS tribute Vector Tanks was subsequently gunned down by Atari lawyers, but its DNA survives in Tanks! - Seek & Destroy.

Like Battlezone, Tanks pits you against an endless number of vector tanks on a sparse battlefield, but this is a much faster, tougher game, with tilt-and-tap controls that put you more in mind of console racing games than a stodgy tank 'em up. The result is a relentlessly thrilling 3D shooter that marries the best of old-school smarts and modern mobile gaming.

Kick Ass Commandos ($2.99/£2.99/AU$4.49)

Kick Ass Commandos is a top-down twin-stick shooter that begins in conventional fashion. But as you blast through the jungle, you quickly happen upon a prisoner. He then tags along, also shooting all and sundry. Save more and you amass a tiny army, which blows everyone in their path into chunks of meat.

This is a violent game, and also sometimes a stupid one. Despite the retro stylings, it can be a bit gross and occasionally tone-deaf; in one early scene, you mow down largely defenseless enemies in a shower block.

Fortunately, Kick Ass Commandos isn’t without brains. It demands you think tactically and safeguard health – particularly of characters who must survive to the level’s end. If you can deal with the odd icky moment, there’s hours of breezy action-packed high-octane retro shooting here, with an interesting twist.

Super Crossfighter ($0.99/£0.99/AU$1.49)

Super Crossfighter is a modern take on classic blasting action that harks back to Space Invaders. But instead of lobbing the occasional pot-shot at lumbering green beasts, Super Crossfighter is a neon-infused affair, with bullet hell aplenty, and a thumping techno soundtrack.

There’s also the ‘crossfighter’ bit, which alludes to the way you can leap back and forth between the top and bottom of the screen. This can be handy for grabbing power-ups, un-sportingly shooting an enemy in the back, or simply escaping certain death when facing a hail of projectiles.

The touchscreen controls work nicely, and there are over 150 waves and an upgrade system to sink your teeth into. The game’s perhaps a touch ‘relaxed’ in feel at times, rather than super-intense, but otherwise this is an excellent iPhone shoot ’em up.

Orbital ($2.99/£2.99/AU$4.49)

This neon-infused one-thumb single-screen shooter has you fire orbs into the void. When an orb stops, it expands into available space and is given a number. Hit it with subsequent orbs and the number decreases until the orb explodes, sometimes starting a chain reaction that obliterates its neighbors.

Your main concern is an orb returning over the line of death above your cannon. Orbital  therefore rapidly becomes a tense battle of nerves, accurate aiming, and space management.

Whichever of its three varied modes you try, it’s a gripping game, and there’s also a same-device two-player mode that pits you against a friend.

Our favorite iPhone extreme sports, golf, soccer, and sports management games.

Desert Golfing ($1.99/£1.99/AU$2.99)

Desert Golfing streamlines smacking a ball with a big stick as far as it’s possible to go. It begins with you being invited to drag an arrow to direct a shot towards a hole. The course you’re faced with is side-on, jagged, and – as you soon discover – composed entirely of unfriendly sand.

There are no do-overs, but there is a score. Yet that becomes almost meaningless as you find yourself dozens of holes into a seemingly endless bout of golfing, deep in a minimalist desert.

What’s surprising is Desert Golfing is so compelling. Gradually, the colors change and the challenges increase in complexity. But even though some holes frustrate, you realize they’re ultimately fleeting. It’s a Zen take on golf, then – and an experience that’s far more satisfying than its appearance in still imagery would suggest.

Motorsport Manager Mobile 3 ($3.99/£3.99/AU$5.99)

Motorsport Manager Mobile 3 is a racing management game without the boring bits. Rather than sitting you in front of a glorified spreadsheet, the game is a well-balanced mix of accessibility and depth, enabling you to delve into the nitty gritty of teams, sponsors, mechanics, and even livery.

When you’re all set, you get to watch surprisingly tense and exciting top-down racing (This being surprising because you’re largely watching numbered discs zoom around circuits.)

One-off races give you a feel for things, but the real meat is starting from the bottom of the pile in the career mode, with the ultimate aim of becoming a winner. It’s all streamlined, slick and mobile-friendly, and a big leap on from the relatively simplistic original Motorsport Manager Mobile.

Touchgrind BMX 2 (free + IAP)

Touchgrind BMX 2 invites you to coax a virtual BMX to the checkered flag in courses likely to usher in panic attacks and vertigo, while performing all kinds of stunts along the way. But unlike ostensibly similar fare on iPhone, there’s no rider on the bike – instead, you control it with two fingers.

You plant one finger on the saddle, and one on the handlebars, dragging left and right to steer. As you pick up speed and hurtle into the air on hitting a ramp, you perform stunts by flicking your fingers in various ways. Land safely and you get points.

Wonderfully tactile, and with superb track design, Touchgrind BMX 2 easily betters traditional BMX racing fare on iPhone. And although grabbing all the courses sets you back US$7.99/£7.99/AU$12.99, they’re worth the outlay.

Wonderputt ($0.99/99p/AU$1.49)

Wonderputt is what might happen if Monty Python-era Terry Gilliam was hurled through time and charged with designing an iPhone minigolf game. The single 18-hole course is an exercise in surrealism and imagination from the moment tiny meteors smash into the ground to fashion the first hole.

Things then get weirder, with courses eaten into grass fields by cows (who are then whisked away by UFOs), and an impossible waterfall hole that looks like it’s escaped from a colored Escher print.

Fortunately, the game is more than a visual delight – it plays well too. Notably, a ‘smart zoom’ feature ensures you don’t need a magnifying glass to see what’s going on in the visually arresting miniature landscapes.

The only snag is there’s just that one course – but even if you only play it once, this game’s worth the outlay. And for perfectionists, there’s replay value in spotting visual details you may have missed, and getting all of the achievements.

Touchgrind Skate 2 ($6.99/£6.99/AU$10.99)

A criticism leveled at touchscreens since day one is how they robbed gamers of ‘proper’ controls. Touchgrind Skate 2 highlights how ridiculous such a statement can be, because rather than having you perform tricks on a little on-screen board by manipulating a gamepad, two of your fingers become legs that dictate how the board behaves.

This is not an pick-up-and-play game, though. You really need to work through the tutorials and fully master them, before you try your hand at competition and jam sessions where you’re punished for mistakes, but greatly rewarded for strings of amazing moves.

In a sense, it feels weirdly like the real thing in miniature – which is more than you can say when your hands are fashioned into claws, gripping a traditional console controller.

NBA JAM ($4.99/£4.99/AU$7.99)

If you’re a massive basketball fan whose nose will be put out of joint when rosters aren’t entirely accurate, or the game you’re playing is a bit weird, skip this game description and head on to our next entry.

Otherwise, try NBA JAM.

This game’s an updated take on a mid-1990s arcade game, which features weird photorealistic characters playing two-on-two matches. Sportsmanlike behavior’s left in the dressing room, as they muscle each other off the ball, and a big-head version of the visuals is deeply unsettling yet oddly hypnotic.

The controls are a bit of a virtual-joystick-and-buttons nightmare at first, but simple enough to grasp without sliding your fingers all over the place. And before you know it, you’ll be BOOM SHAKALAKAing it with the best of them. (Or hiding from the freaky oversized heads.)

Our favorite iPhone games based on anagrams, crosswords, and generally doing clever things with letters.

Supertype ($1.99/£1.99/AU$2.99)

Supertype is a word game more concerned with the shape of letters than the words they might create. Each hand-designed level finds you staring at a setup of lines, dots, and empty spaces in which to type. Tap out some letters, press the tick mark, and everything starts to move.

The aim is to get the letters you type to the dots. In some cases, the solution may be fairly obvious – for example, placing a lowercase l on each ‘step’ towards an out-of-reach dot at the top of a staircase, then having a p at the start tip over to set everything in motion.

More often, you’ll be scratching your head, experimenting, trying new approaches, and then grinning from ear to ear on cracking a solution.

Sidewords ($2.99/£2.99/AU$4.49)

Sidewords is a word game with a new twist. Each single-screen puzzle has a grid with words along the top and left-hand edges. You use letters from those (at least one from each edge) to create each new word.

On selecting a letter, a line shoots into the grid; where lines from the left and top edges collide you get solid blocks, which display the words you create. Blocks can at any time be tapped to remove them.

The aim is to fill the grid with these blocks – simple early on, but not when you’re staring at a seven-by-seven grid annoyingly full of gaps. At that point, the devious nature of Sidewords becomes apparent.

But this game’s nonetheless also forgiving and relaxing – there’s no time limit, and the vast majority of puzzles are unlocked from the start. There’s replay value here, too, despite the static set-ups, since for each puzzle you can save a solution, clear the grid, and try to solve it in a different way.

Typeshift (free + IAP)

Games creator Zach Gage is seemingly on a mission to reimagine all those puzzle games that used to languish only in newspaper pages. With Typeshift, you get something that approximates anagrams smashed into a crossword.

But unlike on paper, the word grid here isn’t static – you drag columns to try and form words in the central row. When every letter has been used, the puzzle is complete.

For free, you get a smallish selection of puzzles, but many more are available via various IAP. If you’re at all into word games, you’re likely to devour them all.

The best of them roll another aspect of crosswords into the mix – cryptic clues. In these brain-benders, you can’t almost brute-force solutions by dragging the columns about and finding weird words – you must figure out what a clue means, eke it from the grid, and after a few of those probably go for a little lie down.

AlphaPit ($2.99/£2.99/AU$4.49)

To differentiate itself from a slew of Boggle and Scrabble clones, word game AlphaPit tries something a bit different. Although the aim is, as ever, to clear a grid of letters, there’s more to AlphaPit than simply dragging lines through the grid, making words to remove tiles.

There are bonuses, which you can use strategically, to shuffle letters, or blow to pieces a tile that’s particularly annoying you. Spare letters also lurk, which can be swapped in at an opportune moment.

Perhaps most importantly, though, AlphaPit isn’t random – instead, you get 200 predefined levels to work through. This proves rewarding, transforming the experience into a set of puzzles you know you can beat – if only you can figure out the solutions.

Blackbar ($2.99/£2.99/AU$4.49)

Blackbar is fundamentally a game about guessing words. Yet it’s also a chilling commentary on the dangers of a dystopian surveillance society.

The game begins with you receiving letters from a friend who’s started work at the Department of Communication. Anything from them considered controversial or negative is censored – a ‘blackbar’ – which you must correctly guess to continue.

Over the course of a number of communications, the story escalates in a frightening manner, and you find yourself feeling like you’re beating the system (man), despite ultimately just tapping in words to best a basic logic test. If nothing else, this showcases the power of great storytelling; and filling in Blackbar’s blanks feels a lot more fulfilling than chucking more hours at a run-of-the-mill Scrabble clone.

Heads Up! ($0.99/99p/AU$1.49)

Heads Up! is a digital take on the party game where you guess something written on a piece of paper clamped to your forehead on the basis of guess clues yelled out by friends. Here, though, words are housed on your iPhone’s screen, and you can blaze through many.

To get started, you select a category (several are included, and more are available to buy). During a round, you flip the screen upwards to pass or downwards when you correctly guess. At the end of your minute of glory, you’ll get a score. It’s simple, smart, effective and fun.

SpellTower ($2.99/£2.99/AU$4.49)

There’s something gleefully classic about SpellTower. It marries very old-school word games – in the sense of paper-based crosswords and word searches – with much-loved arcade puzzlers. The result is perhaps the best word game on iOS.

Tower mode has you face a stack of letters, tapping out snaking words that disappear when submitted, the tiles above then falling into the gaps. A keen sense of planning is required to balance letter stacks and ensure tiles aren’t left stranded.

Additional modes soon open up: Puzzle adds a new row of letters for every word you submit; Rush throws in a timer; and Debate pits two players against each other. iPad Pro owners also get Super Tower mode, offering a colossal 432 tiles and the potential for blockbuster scores – if you can find the right words lurking within the jumble.

This Week in Security News: Tax Scams and Spam Emails

Welcome to our weekly roundup, where we share what you need to know about the cybersecurity news and events that happened over the past few days. This week, learn how criminals can use tax deadlines for social engineering schemes and redirection URLs in spam emails to sidestep spam filters.

Read on:

Beware Tax Scams and Sextortion Blackmail Attempts as Email Scams Worsen

Criminals often use the April 15th tax filing deadline in the United States for social engineering schemes to make victims share their credentials, money and personal information – costing 12,000 victims a total of $63 million in 2018.

Singapore Updates Guidelines on Data Breach Notifications and Accountability

Expected to be part of the upcoming amendment to Singapore’s data protection law, the new guidelines state that businesses must take no more than 30 days to investigate a suspected breach and notify the authorities 72 hours after completing their assessment of the breach.

Celebrating the Next Generation of Technology Innovators

Trend Micro and its venture capital arm Trend Forward Capital held a pitch-off competition for ambitious start-ups, where office automation company Roby won the $10,000 Forward Thinker Award.

Millions of Instagram Influencers Had Their Private Contact Data Scraped and Exposed

A massive AWS-hosted database containing contact information of millions of Instagram influencers, celebrities and brand accounts was found online exposed and without a password, allowing anyone to look inside.

Trickbot Watch: Arrival via Redirection URL in Spam

Trend Micro discovered a variant of the Trickbot banking trojan using a redirection URL in a spam email to sidestep spam filters that may block Trickbot at the onset.

Florida Governor Announces Cybersecurity Review Following Election Hacking Revelations

The state of Florida will conduct a cybersecurity review into election security for every county in the state after it was revealed two counties were hacked during the 2016 election.

Ryuk Ransomware Shows Diversity in Targets, Consistency in Higher Payouts

Ransomware’s persistence is best embodied by a relatively new breed of ransomware, Ryuk, which has been making waves recently with multiple incidents occurring over the past year.

TalkTalk Admits New Failings in 2015 Data Breach Notification

UK telecom company TalkTalk has admitted that it failed to notify 4,545 customers affected by the cyberattack in 2015 that exposed personal details of more than 150,000 customers.

Cyberextortionists Wipe Over 12,000 MongoDB Databases

Over the past three weeks, over 12,000 MongoDB databases have been deleted, with attackers from hacking group Unistellar demanding ransom in return for their restoration.

What are some of the warning signs of spam that you look for in your emails? Share your thoughts in the comments below or follow me on Twitter to continue the conversation: @JonLClay.

 

The post This Week in Security News: Tax Scams and Spam Emails appeared first on .

AMD Navi RX 3080 specs leak ahead of Computex 2019

Information on AMD Navi graphics cards keeps leaking out, and this time the specs for the AMD RX 3080 have been spotted online ahead of Computex 2019.

This leak comes via renowned leaker KOMACHI, and while the tweet was deleted, it was spotted by Wccftech. Despite the remarkably similar name, it doesn't look like the AMD Navi RX 3080 will go up against something like the Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080


Instead, with its rumored 2,560 stream processors and 8GB of VRAM on a 256-bit bus, it looks like it will take on RTX 2070 instead – something that recent leaks back up. We've heard for a while now that the first round of AMD Navi graphics cards – known simply as 'Navi 10' – would occupy the mid-range, rather than competing with Nvidia's flagship RTX 2080 Ti.

Image Credit: AMD

It's all coming together, now

Because Computex 2019 is right around the corner, there's been a wave of speculation and leaks about AMD Navi, and it's all starting to come together. 

We already know that the next-generation mid-range graphics cards from Team Red are coming in Q3 2019, and it's rumored that Nvidia is gearing up to compete. It hasn't been confirmed to appear at Computex, but just a couple days ago we heard a rumor that these new GPUs would be on sale by July 7

Add that to all the leaked benchmarks, and we're pretty confident that at least some of the rumors are true. And, if Nvidia's recent 'Super' tease is any indication, Team Green is getting ready for something big to drop. 

It's going to be interesting to see if these rumored new AMD Navi GPUs are going to be able to compete in the mid-range, as that's where the real AMD vs Nvidia smackdown typically occurs. The flagships of the world get the headlines, but the mid-range is where people usually spend their cash. 

We just want to see if AMD can provide better value for the money at that $499 price tag with the Navi RX 3080 than Nvidia offers with the RTX 2070. But at least we don't have to wait too much longer until Computex 2019 to learn fact from fiction.


Dyson hair dryer: the best Supersonic prices and sales in May 2019

Dyson, a company mostly known for vacuums, has engineered a high-tech hair dryer called the Dyson Supersonic. The Dyson hairdryer features innovative technology that puts it in a category of its own and is unlike any traditional hair dryer. The Supersonic features a digital motor that creates ultra-fast drying while also preventing heat damage. The only downside of this futuristic hair dryer? The Supersonic is priced well above most hair dryers, currently retailing for $400 in the US and £300 in the UK. But fear not, we're here to ease your financial pain by listing the best prices and sales below so you can get the best deal on the premium hair dryer.

The Dyson Supersonic hair dryer is built with a powerful V9 digital motor that combined with air multiplier technology produces high-velocity controlled air for fast, controlled drying. The Supersonic hair dryer measures air temperature 20 times a second so you'll never have to worry about damaging your hair with extreme heat. The Dyson hair dryer offers four different heat settings as well as three different speed settings so you can style your hair exactly how you want. The controlled heat and settings also help with reducing frizz so you can achieve sleek, smooth hair with every use. The Supersonic also comes with three different magnetic attachments so you can achieve different styles using just one tool.

See the best prices and sales available for the Dyson hair dryer below.

The best Dyson hair dryer prices and sales:


If you're still undecided about the Dyson hair dryer we've answered some common questions below to help with your buying decision.

Dyson hair dryer price: is the Dyson hair dryer worth the money?

The high price tag on the Dyson hair dryer can initially cause sticker shock, but there are several reasons for the steep price. The Supersonic is engineered like other Dyson appliances and therefore priced similarly. The Dyson hairdryer features a tiny a digital motor that combined with the heat sensor produces fast drying results without damaging the hair. Dyson installed the tiny motor in the handle rather than the head which balances the weight of the dryer so your hand won't get tired when drying your hair. The Supersonic will also outlast other hairdryers so you won't have to keep repurchasing the same $70 hair dryer every couple of years. 

Does the Dyson hair dryer dry faster?

The short answer is yes; the Dyson Supersonic dries hair faster and more efficiently than traditional hair dryers. The Dyson hair dryer combines controlled heat with a powerful motor that results in drying time that's twice as fast as most hair dryers. The Supersonic also features three different drying speeds so you can control how fast you want your hair dried. 

Learn more about the Dyson hair dryer with our Dyson Supersonic review.

You can also shop for more Dyson discounts with our best cheap Dyson deals and offers that are currently going on. 

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