AMD's first major driver release for 2013 is here in the form of the just-released AMD Catalyst 13.1 WHQL drivers. These drivers are similar to the company's 12.11 "Never Settle" driver, with the new 13.1 WHQL drivers delivering performance enhancements for a huge amount of games.
They mainly aim for the Radeon HD 7000 series GPUs, and AMD have also included some new 3D settings and profile management user interface within the Catalyst Control Center (CCC). This is on top of the performance enhancements and various fixes. From the changelog, we can expect:
- Enhanced performance in Far Cry 3 (up to 25% with 8xMSAA, SSAO enabled @ 1600p, and up to 15% with 8xMSAA, HDAO enabled @1600p) (AMD Catalyst 12.11 CAP2 must also be installed)
- Enhanced AMD CrossFire scaling performance in Call of Duty Black Ops 2
- Up to 10%-15% more performance in Battlefield 3 in most cases
- More than 20% in certain missions and sequences (Comrades)
- Up to 7% more performance in Metro 2033
- Up to 10% more performance in DiRT Showdown
- Up to 8% more performance in Sleeping Dogs
- Up to 12% more performance in Civilization V
- Up to 10% more performance in StarCraft II
- Up to 8% more performance in Sniper Elite: V2
- Up to 5% more performance in Max Payne 3
Thanks to Beats Audio's acquisition of music subscription service MOG, we should expect an iTunes-like music service to be launched from the company. Currently going under the codename of Daisy, the company announced the service on Thursday and have chosen Ian Rogers to oversee "the direction, vision and strategy for project 'Daisy' and the talented team developing the service.
Beats Audio have also announced that Trent Reznor from Nine Inch Nails fame, has been appointed Chief Creative Officer. CEO and co-founder of Beats Audio, Jimmy Iovine, has said:
What's missing from the digital music landscape is a cultural context. We need to bring an emotional connection back to the act of music discovery. With Trent and now Ian we have the right team in place to do it.
There aren't many more details to report on just yet, but we should see a late-2013 launch, and should expect it to arrive as a stand-alone company falling under Beats Electronics' umbrella.
The Chrome Beta channel has just opened for Android today, offering up version 25.0.1364.8. It acts just the same as the Beta channel for a PC, which offers up a preview of features and fixes that has already passed the development channel and is on its way to final testing before it gets baked into the final version.
It makes for the perfect way to try out new things that might still be broken, but will allow the software to function as a hole. The release offered up comes with the following bugs:
- Performance is sluggish, noticeably on Galaxy Nexus and Nexus S
- Frequent freeze on devices with specific versions of Qualcomm GPU driver
- Text autosizing may break formatting on some sites
- 164632 - Editing bookmark feature is broken
- 165244 - Text position handler jumps or disappears when moving
- 163439 - Clicking on links in yahoo.com not navigating on Nexus 7
- 166233 - Unable to submit comments on Facebook posts in desktop version of Facebook
- 165244 - Text handler jumps or disappears when moving
- 167351 - Youtube video controls are lost after returning from fullscreen video mode
- 162486 - iframe scrolling broken
If you want to hit up the Beta channel, check it out here.
Futuremark continues to tease us with a slow release of screenshots and video trailers of the upcoming 3DMark benchmark that will work on a variety of devices and operating systems. The Cloud Gate benchmark, shown in the trailer video below, is a DX10 benchmark designed for notebooks and lighter weight desktop PCs.
We recommend watching it in the native 1080p resolution offered by YouTube. The FireStrike trailer that was released a week or so ago is the DX11 benchmark destined to push gaming PCs to their knees. This will be the last we hear out of Futuremark before their Christmas break, so check out the video and wait for 2013 to see the full benchmark in action.
Adobe has updated their popular Photoshop Lightroom product to make use of the higher resolution available on Apple's new Retina screen Macs. Photoshop and Illustrator CS6 both received a similar treatment earlier this week. So what can you expect out of the new version? Not too much other than Retina Support.
- HiDPI support within the Library and Develop Modules. HiDPI provides support for Retina-enabled Macs.
- Additional raw file support for 20 cameras including the Canon EOS 6D, Nikon D600 and Olympus PEN E-PL5
- Corrections and bug fixes for issues introduced in previous versions of Lightroom.
For $149.99, you can get Lightroom from the Mac App Store, that is if you don't already own it.
Ask the Experts: How can I rebind my keys on my Apple Mac system when using Boot Camp to access Windows?
Our Ask the Experts section has a new question, with Robert in the US wanting to remap his keys on his Mac through Boot Camp with Windows installed
Q: Hi TT,
I use an Apple iMac with Windows through Boot Camp and I want to rebind my keys. I don't use the command button all that often and would like to rebind the key so it's better suited to my needs - is there a trick I need to know? Or some software I can download for this?
Thanks in advance,
A: You can view the answer to Robert's question right here.
It's the festive season, so over at the Android developer blog they've just unveiled version 3 of in-app purchasing. Most of this isn't for show and tell, and is back-end stuff that most people won't notice. It does include some cool new stuff:
- Streamlined code. Google says what used to take several hundred lines of code can be done in as few as 50 now.
- A more robust architecture.
- Local caching, so API calls happen faster. That means part of the legwork is being done on your phone, without the need to call into Google Play.
- And "the ability to consume managed purchases and query for product information."
Futuremark showed off a trailer for their upcoming 3DMark benchmark last week, and now they have released more screenshots, this time from the Cloud Gate test. Cloud Gate is one of the three tests included in the new 3DMark and uses a DX11 engine that is limited to Direct3D feature level 10_0 so that it can test DirectX 10.
The new test in the upcoming 3DMark appears to make extensive use of particle and lighting features, as you can certainly see above. Click the picture to see it in full 1080p quality.
The release time frame for the new version of 3DMark is looking to be in January 2013 for Windows, with Android, iOS, and Windows RT versions coming some time after that.
NVIDIA announced their "GeForce Experience" earlier this year, and have now released a beta that will allow the first 10,000 people to register to get their hands on it. After the signups have closed, NVIDIA will monitor the user feedback and take out any of the big bugs.
The GeForce Experience only supports 32 games at the moment, and just the Fermi- and Kepler-based NVIDIA GPUs. More games will be added to the supported list in the coming weeks. If you don't know what the GeForce Experience offers, it will help people who don't optimize their games for their specific hardware. Enthusiasts, like myself and I'm sure many others reading this, will sit there and optimize their graphics settings in their games to get the best performance, or quality.
Everyone is different - some people like a mix of medium/high graphics and a steady 60fps or 120fps minimum (that would be me). There are others who want the maximum eye candy, and will find no problem running at 30fps or lower. NVIDIA's software will help those who don't want to sit there adjusting sliders and settings, with the software eventually being capable of accessing NVIDIA's cloud-based supercomputers that will work out, and then download the best in-game settings for your particular PC.
Sony produces Xperia flash tool, in beta, to allow unlocked devices to be flashed back to stock ROMs
Sony is consumer friendly when it comes to flashing Android ROMs. Today continues that trend as the company has just released a tool that will allow Xperia modders with an unlocked bootloader to reflash Sony's stock ROM. The tool, available on Sony's developer site, currently supports the Xperia S, arc, and arc S.
The tool is currently in beta and Sony is working on increasing the number of supported devices. It's a pretty simple task, something that should be easy to people who are messing around with ROMs and bootloaders in the first place. A video how-to is included below for your viewing, and modding, pleasure.
iTunes in Russia has a bit of a bug that has iTunes showing ads for pornography websites in the movies section. Clicking on "more films in different languages" results in pornographic content being displayed, with iPhones.ru speculating, probably accurately, that the bug comes from the use of temporary xxx placeholder links.
Furthermore, it seems as though iTunes and the App Store are unavailable for many. People have taken to Twitter to complain, though the cause has yet to be ascertained. It's possible that the outage could be linked to the Russian iTunes launch or it could be the result of something completely different. We'll update you when we know more.
Extra! Extra! Read all about it! NVIDIA has just released their latest drivers for the GeForce line of graphics cards and you get bet they're proud of themselves. According to NVIDIA, "The culmination of our recent beta releases, these WHQL-candidate drivers improve performance by up to 37% in the year's most popular games..."
Not to mention, the drivers also "add TXAA support to Call of Duty: Black Ops II and Assassin's Creed III, make Sparse Grid Supersampling easier to use, get your system ready for the latest releases, including Far Cry 3, Hitman: Absolution and Planetside 2, and resolve key issues, like shadow flickering in Assassin's Creed III."
It really does sound like NVIDIA has knocked the ball out of the park with these drivers. If you're running any GeForce-branded card, new or older, it definitely appears to be worth your time to upgrade to these latest drivers. You can pick them up from NVIDIA's driver download site.
The SMS turned 20 years old yesterday, but a number of companies are working on ways to eradicate it for good. Facebook has now thrown its hat into the ring as it has made changes to its Android application that can replace SMS messages for good.
Facebook announced today its messenger application for Android won't require users to have a Facebook account. Instead, those Facebook-less users will have the option of putting in their name and phone number into the messenger application and they can start using it as their alternate to SMS messages.
iTunes 11 was just released a few days ago to the expected joy and displeasure to the majority of its users, but today, Apple has announced it has made its iTunes Store available in 56 additional countries including Russia, India and South Africa.
Apple's iTunes Store is now available in 155 countries and today's expansion will further secure its dominance in the world of music, television and movies. Pricing in the newly launched countries will vary as a single song's price can range from 15 rubles (48 cents) in Russia to seven rupees (12 cents) in India.
After so many teases of its arrival, Steam have officially launched Big Picture mode. For those of you who aren't aware of what Big Picture mode is, it is an addition to Steam that provides a perfect user interface that fits on the big screen TV.
You can use your PC through a HDMI cable, kick your legs up onto a table and get ready for some truly large screen gaming. Steam provides support to the typical PC gamers' mouse and keyboard, but also to controllers - as gaming on the TV is more console-like, having proper controller support is a great addition.
Steam and their Big Picture mode brings over all of your Steam friends, library of games and all of the stuff that your friends make and put on Steam. There's also a web browser included, which has controller support and Valve call it the world's first, first-person browser. I'm going to try out Big Picture mode later on tonight with some Far Cry 3, how about you?
Futuremark has just teased the tech world by uploading a trailer of its upcoming DX11 3D benchmark called 3DMark Fire Strike.
In the trailer which just runs for 42 seconds we see a futuristic looking fire kind of robot dude with fire swords fighting a smaller non-fire female character.
It's also pretty clear that MSI is once again investing money into the project. We'll keep you posted as we find out more!
Apple released iTunes 11 today after having delayed it from being released in October. Included in the new version of the software is a pretty nifty feature that will surely help users who redeem many Apple gift cards. The feature in question allows users to take a picture of their iTunes gift card to redeem it.
Now, instead of having to type out that long and confusing 16-character string, users will be able to take a picture with their computer's camera. The new feature requires iTunes gift cards that have a box around the code. The box aids the system in detecting the code and I imagine that Apple started printing those boxes as soon as they knew this feature would be present in iTunes 11.
iTunes will, of course, still allow users to manually type in the code. This is needed because not everyone's computer has a camera and sometimes OCR just doesn't work very well. Not to mention, some people may still have gift cards that were printed before the updated cards with the boxes went into production.
Those who were waiting around for Apple's latest version of iTunes will not have to wait any longer. As of right now, Apple's iTunes 11 is currently available for download from Apple's website.
The new version of iTunes was originally set to debut in October, but then Apple announced that it had been delayed due to engineering problems. If you don't want to download a new copy of the software via the above link, you can also let your currently installed copy check for updates.
For Mac users, this means using Software Update, and Windows users can have iTunes "Check for Updates."
Streaming-music service Spotify has been used heavily in my home ever since it debuted in the U.S. last summer as I'm sure many other users have been doing so as well. With the end of the year looming over us, Spotify has released its most popular songs of the year decided by its users who have streamed these songs the most.
The top streamed track of 2012 goes to Gotye's "Somebody That I Used To Know," with Carly Rae Jepsen's "Call Me Maybe" taking second place. It just goes to show all of those late nights playing those songs on your computer at the lowest possible volume possible so your roommates don't hear your guilty pleasures have come back to haunt you.
NVIDIA has released the latest version of their GeForce drivers this morning ahead of the launch of Far Cry 3. This release, 310.64, is still in beta, but brings better support for Far Cry 3. Far Cry 3 launches in Europe tomorrow and in North America on next Tuesday, so it's important to update to these drivers if you plan on getting the game.
NVIDIA tested out the new drivers and saw improvements of up to 38 percent in the 600 series of graphics cards. Of course, you mileage may vary as differences between systems, manufacturers, etc will affect performance. However, NVIDIA has said they expect to see improvements of varying degress on any system using a 400 series or newer GPU.
Using the most popular gaming resolution, 1920x1080, we maxed out Far Cry 3's many graphics options, selected SSAO Ambient Occlusion (an excellent balance between performance and fidelity), set the game's version of Transparency Supersampling to "Standard", and enabled 8xMSAA to eliminate those pesky jaggies. As you can see below, today's 310.64 beta driver boosted performance significantly, helping the GTX 670 and GTX 680 achieve playable frame rates at this demanding detail level. Please note that we expect improvements of varying degrees to be seen on any system utilizing a GeForce GTX 400, 500, or 600 series GPU, but due to time constraints we were unable to run comprehensive, in-depth tests ahead of the driver's release.
Enthusiasts who have purchased the Nexus 10 have already got to work tinkering away at it and the folks over at XDA-Developers have just released a toolkit that will make tweaking, adjusting, and modding your Nexus 10 tablet just a bit easier.
The Nexus 10 toolkit will let you do nearly anything that you could desire. The toolkit, released by mskip, can backup/restore single packages, the entire internal storage, unlock and re-lock the bootloader, root the stock Jelly Bean build, take Nandroid backup, and install BusyBox, among other things.
If you've got a Nexus 10 and would like to start hacking it, head on over to the XDA forums to download the toolkit and ask for help, should you need it. Of course, be sure to thank you to mskip and provide him with a donation if you feel this is worth money to you.