Contactless supply pilot throughout pandemic brings efficiencies to the CPG provide chain, notes report

The Consumer Brands Association recently released an operational standard for contactless freight pickup and delivery designed to empower companies to shift from an archaic paper-based delivery process to a digitized supply chain.

Spokesmen say this will enhance safety, increase productivity and bring transparency to every employee involved in the end-to-end supply chain ecosystem.At the beginning of the pandemic, the consumer packaged goods industry faced the enormous dilemma of continuing to produce and deliver the essential products Americans needed to stay home and stay safe, while also protecting the health and safety of truck drivers, CPG facility employees and their families.

In June 2020, Consumer Brands and its partners Vector, Accenture and Coyote Logistics convened the Contactless Freight Pickup and Delivery Task Force, comprised of CPG companies, carriers and retailers to solve this problem.“The COVID-19 pandemic forced CPG and our adjacent industries to rapidly innovate and accelerate technologies to keep our workforce safe and ensure store shelves remained stocked,” says Geoff Freeman, president and CEO of the Consumer Brands Association. “As we emerge from the pandemic, companies are taking the best lessons learned — like the contactless operational standard — and applying them to maximize efficiencies as the industry shifts from the challenges of COVID-19 to unprecedented cost pressures and inflation.”The operational standard is a set of data requirements for the critical steps in the pickup and delivery process, from the moment drivers arrive at a facility ready to pick up CPG goods to the moment they make their delivery.

The collaborative workflows create a “control tower” view of the entire supply chain, improving visibility and aligning to key performance indicators. By digitizing the pickup and delivery process, the contactless standard eliminates an estimated 2 tons of paper per year at each facility, protects driver and employee health by reducing physical interaction and lowers costs by reducing the amount of time spent by drivers and facility employees at each pickup or drop off.

On average, the contactless delivery workflows reduced driver dwell time by 40 minutes at each facility, giving drivers more time on the road. By adopting the standard, stakeholders can operate more efficiently and better serve the consumer.“The supply chain and trucking industries rely on surprisingly old-fashioned systems — paperwork, and lots of it,” says Tom Madrecki, vice president of supply chain and logistics at Consumer Brands. “Consumer Brands’ Contactless Freight Pickup and Delivery Task Force has taken a significant step forward to accelerate progress, creating a data and technology standard for how companies can become contactless and eliminate paperwork.”

He adds that the potential to save time, money, employee resources and the environment is on the table, and they are only scratching the surface.

“Leveraging the contactless standard and replacing paper with digital transactions is a no-brainer for any shipper or receiver, enabling next-generation supply chains to become more efficient and resilient,” he concludes.Chris Adderton, vice president, Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals, is among those members who endorses the findings.

“Based on the validation provided by the pilot programs, it is clear building to a standard will provide a safer, more efficient and more accurate pickup and delivery process which will improve the performance of the supply chain,” he says.Nick Shroeger, chief network solutions officer, Coyote Logistics, concurs.

“As a global third-party logistics provider, we work with thousands of carriers every day and we understand the pain points that inhibit driver adoption,” he says. “From our point of view, creating a new standard is arguably more valuable than any one piece of new technology that is introduced in our industry.”Digitization and automation are key to building more resilient supply chains, concludes Will Chu, co-founder and CEO, Vector.

“As the technology advisor in the task force, it was important for us to develop an open standard which gave logistics partners the flexibility to become contactless with their technology of choice.”

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Locus Robotics reaches half-a-billion items picked milestone

Locus Robotics, a provider of autonomous mobile robots (AMR) for fulfillment warehouses, today announced they have surpassed the half-a-billion-units-picked milestone. This new achievement was attained just 94 days after Locus reached their 400M level.

“Reaching our half-billion pick milestone this quickly underscores the critical business value that Locus’s proven technology brings to our customers around the world as they face exploding order volumes and limited labor availability,” said Rick Faulk, CEO, Locus Robotics.” As ecommerce volumes increase, the pace of picking with LocusBots is also increasing exponentially. Locus’s first 100-million milestone took 1,542 days while the most recent 100 million picks took just 94 days. Locus is proud to have helped our customers efficiently meet this challenge while positioning them for success today, and easily-scalable growth in the future.”

The 500 millionth pick was made at a VF Corporation Fulfillment Center in Prague, Czech Republic and the item picked was a pair of Vans Old Skool Shoes.

As more shoppers continue to buy online and as businesses prepare for what is expected to be a record-breaking holiday season, retailers and fulfillment warehouse operators are turning to AMRs to meet growing demand and mitigate labor shortages to avoid the risk of losing valuable customers.

“DHL Supply Chain is committed to bringing innovative and productivity-enhancing technology to our customers with partners like Locus so that they have the capacity and flexibility to capitalize on new opportunities in the marketplace,” said Adrian Kumar, Vice President, Global Operations Science, DHL Supply Chain. “We congratulate Locus on this momentous achievement and look forward to continuing to work with Locus to drive productivity, support capacity growth, and deliver continuous improvement within our customers’ supply chains.”

LocusBots have now traveled more than 3 million miles in customers’ warehouses, the equivalent of more than 120 times around the Earth.

“Innovation and an unrelenting drive towards customer success have no doubt been drivers in this achievement.” Says John Santagate, Vice President of Robotics at Körber Supply Chain. “500M picks handled on LocusBots is quite the milestone.  Congratulations to the Locus team and here’s to the next 500M”

Locus Robotics’ robotics fulfillment solution enables brands, retailers, and third-party logistics (3PL) operators to easily meet higher order volumes and increasing consumer demand for e-commerce, retail, omnichannel, and manufacturing order fulfillment. Global customers, including CEVA, DHL, Boots UK, GEODIS, Whiplash, Saddle Creek, Quiet 3PF, Radial, and others, are doubling or tripling their fulfillment productivity while lowering labor recruitment, training, and retention costs.

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Ghost of Tsushima Director’s Lower: The whole lot new on Iki Island

Ghost of Tsushima: Director’s Cut took the 2020 game we fell in love with and revamped it for the PlayStation 5. If the Last of Us 2 didn’t exist, Ghost of Tsushima would have arguably taken home every award at the 2020 game awards, including Game of the Year. We’ll likely see the same results with 2021’s nominees. But, with such positive fan feedback, the team at Sucker Punch knew they had to deliver on something special. With plenty to unpack, let’s talk about everything new on Iki Island in Ghost of Tsushima: Director’s Cut.
Warning: Minor spoilers ahead! We won’t be giving away any character-building or story progression spoilers in this article. We’ve only mentioned new abilities to unlock, enemies you’ll fight, and collectibles you’ll find on Iki Island.

Tales of Iki Island

Again, we won’t be giving away any spoilers for the story itself. However, the Iki Island expansion dives deep into Jin’s past as we learn more about the relationship between Jin and his father, Kazumasa. The Eagle has sunk her talons into Iki Island by way of a hallucinogenic poison. Once she’s taken control of Iki, she’ll set her sights on Tsushima. If Jin’s already defeated the Khan, he’ll see the Eagle as the next threat to his home. If not, he’ll know he can’t win a war on two fronts.
Before players leave for Iki Island, Jin makes it clear that the Sakai name is not welcome there. He’ll have to cover his insignias if wearing the Sakai Clan armor and must not speak his true name to residents of Iki. From now on, our protagonist is known as Jin from Yarikawa. As the story unfolds, you’ll learn why the Sakai clan is not welcome on Iki Island.
Other than the main quest, Iki has plenty of side quests and rumors for players to tackle. There are, however, no long tales such as Sensei Ishikawa or Lady Masako’s storylines.
New techniques
Jin was already the deadliest man on Tsushima. Now with a few new techniques at his disposal, he’s about to become the most lethal man on Iki Island. Funny enough, it’s Jin’s horse that’ll be learning these new moves.
As far as our Samurai hero is concerned, Jin can learn two new exploration techniques to help him find new locations on Iki island. The Wind of Harmony will guide Jin to Animal Sanctuaries around Iki. The Wind of Concentration will show him the way to Archery Challenges. We’ll get into both of these new editions later on.
Horse abilities and upgrades

Jin’s horse will learn Horse Charge shortly after arriving on Iki. If you’ve got a handful of technique points leftover from your previous adventures on Tsushima, you can upgrade Horse Charge to its full potential. You’ll find Horse Charge upgrades under the Ghost Techniques tab. So, what is Horse Charge?
While riding your horse, press L1 to trigger Horse Charge. Jin’s horse will stampede toward a group of enemies and trample any that get in its way. Horse Charge is a great way to take out those roaming bands of Mongols and build up Jin’s Ghost Stance along the way. Hop off, trigger Ghost Stance, and clean up any Mongols that aren’t already covered in hoof prints.
To further improve your Horse Charge, you can equip Horse Armor, specifically the Sakai Horse Armor. Unlock this by completing The Legacy of Kazumasa Sakai, a brand-new mythic tale unique to Iki Island.
Finally, Jin can unlock Saddle Bags for his horse, which will hold reserve ammo when Jin maxes out his carry capacity. For example, if Jin is holding the maximum amount of arrows possible, any additional arrows he picks up will transfer to his horse. If you’ve played Red Dead Redemption 2, you’ll understand how this works in a way. Of course, your saddlebags can only hold so much, but Jin can transfer ammo to himself by approaching his horse and pressing Left on the D-Pad. It’s a great way to re-up on ammo before taking down a Mongol stronghold.
New Mythic Tales
Mythic Tales are one of the coolest features in Ghost of Tsushima. The Director’s Cut adds two brand-new Mythic Tales to Iki Island: The Legacy of Kazumasa Sakai and The Legend of Black Hand Riku. Of the two, The Legacy of Kazumasa Sakai is worth doing first, as you’ll unlock the Sakai Clan Horse Armor for your mount. However, Black Hand Riku will net players a new set of armor.
Sakai Banners
Scattered around Iki Island are Sakai Banners that work similarly to the Sashimono Banners on Tsushima. However, Jin can use the Guiding Wind to take him from banner to banner while on Iki Island. Collecting them will unlock new dye for your horse armor. Believe us when we say that these dyes are some of the coolest cosmetics in the game.
Hot Springs, Bamboo Strikes, and Shinto Shrines
Upgrade your health and resolve even further by finding new Hot Springs and Bamboo Strikes on Iki Island. Yes, everyone’s favorite golden bird flew to Iki to guide players to these locations. They can also set the Guiding Wind to take them there if they’ve unlocked the appropriate exploration techniques.
There is one new Shinto Shrine on Iki Island located off the southeast coast, on a small island called Nakajima Island. There, you’ll also find a Sakai Clan Banner, plenty of supplies, and Mashira’s Bite, an awesome-looking sword kit. There are no Inari Shrines on Iki Island, though. Fox dens, apparently, are native to Tsushima.
Progressive charms

Progressive is the only way we can describe four new charms added to Iki Island. The first time you encounter an Animal Sanctuary, be it monkey, deer, or cat, you’ll unlock a charm specific to that sanctuary. Upon your first Archery Challenge, you’ll unlock the Charm of Concentration. Each subsequent discovery and completion will upgrade those charms. Let’s go into more detail.
Archery Challenges
There are eight Archery Challenges scattered all over Iki. You can use the Wind of Concentration to find them all, but don’t get stuck on them. Upon discovering the first challenge, you’ll unlock the Charm of Concentration. This minor charm gradually increases your concentration by one-tenth of a second as you gain upgrade points toward it. Accumulate points by completing all three Archery Challenge time milestones. Hitting all seven targets in seven seconds is no easy task without the right gear and charms for the job.
Animal Sanctuaries
There are three types of Animal Sanctuaries on Iki Island: Deer, monkey, and cat. Each type has three of its own sanctuaries for players to find and complete. However, each sanctuary plays the same way. Jin will sit with his flue and play a tune from his childhood to calm and lure the animal. You’ll physically move your controller up and down, following the song track. The only way we can describe it is Ghost of Flute Hero without the buttons.
Deer Sanctuaries unlock and upgrade the Charm of Subaru’s Might, a Ranged Charm that locks onto an enemy’s head after aiming your bow for 3.5 seconds. The time decreases as you complete Deer Sanctuaries and upgrade the charm.
Monkey Sanctuaries unlock and upgrade the Charm of Mashira’s Protection, a Defense Charm that extends your perfect parry window for six seconds every time you heal. However, healing now costs two Resolve. Upgrading it will increase the time duration.
Cat Sanctuaries unlock and upgrade the Charm of Nekoma’s Hunt, a Stealth Charm that allows you to throw a Kunai at a target 15 meters away during a Chain Assassination. Upgrading this charm will increase the distance at which a Kunai can be thrown.
New enemies
There are several new enemies that Jin will encounter on Iki island. While the mechanics you’ve learned thus far will help you deal with these enemies, it’s how you implement those mechanics that increase your chance of survival.
Shamans are the first new enemy that Jin will encounter. They are The Eagle’s spiritual lieutenants and cause other enemies to attack relentlessly. While under a Shaman’s spell, enemies will attack Jin on all fronts instead of one or two at a time. They are harder to stagger and don’t ever let up on the attack. Therefore, Jin should prioritize Shamans whenever he hears one chanting. Thankfully, killing them is not that hard.
Shamans are technically spear-wielding enemies and thus weak to Wind Stance. Approach one and hold Triangle to launch a Typhoon Kick. Then, roll toward the Shaman and press Square to kill them while they’re still on the ground. The kill window is pretty big, so don’t worry if they look like they’re about to get up. If you’re having trouble locating the Shaman, enter focus by pressing the trackpad. You’ll hear the Shamans chanting above everything else and be able to pinpoint their location.
Multi-weapon enemies are new to Iki Island and will put your stance-switching skills to the test. You’ll need Wind and Water Stance unlocked to fight these guys, as they’ll switch between swords, shields, and spears. Pay attention to which weapon they’re using, and switch to the necessary stance. Thankfully, multi-stance Brutes don’t exist.
Spear Brutes, though, are how Iki Island has taken the game’s biggest enemies and made them deadlier. Wielding a double-ended, spear-like Darth Maul, these Brutes pack a serious punch and are near impossible to perfectly dodge away from. Switch to Moon Stance, and kick them in the face until you break their guard. Their attack can be interrupted with a well-placed kick, too.
Replay missions/duels

Duels in Ghost of Tsushima are the best fights in the game. Boss battles are both cinematically pleasing and hard enough to make you want to pull your hair out. In Ghost of Tsushima: Director’s Cut, you can replay all the duels you’ve previously beaten. When you go to replay a duel, you’re told that it offers a “uniquely challenging experience.” So what does that mean?
Well, it just makes the duel harder than it was originally. Your opponent deals more damage, and they take more damage.
Other than duels, you can replay Mongol strongholds. Again, you’re prompted with the same message and are given a new set of bonus challenges than before.
The Hidden Cove Tournament
Shortly after completing the first few Tales of Iki, you’ll unlock the Hidden Cove Tournament. Here, Jin will face off against four unique opponents with Bokken Sticks, Japanese wooden swords used for training. Each opponent fights with a different combat style and will throw different moves at Jin that he’ll have to parry or dodge away from. There is no penalty for losing, but you do have to defeat the first three opponents before facing the fourth and final enemy.
However, upon beating the fourth opponent, he’ll become available as a vendor known as the Crimson Dye Merchant.
The Crimson Dye Merchant
Your recently bested opponent will offer one item free of charge from his shop. He has a unique inventory of Sword Kits, Armor Dyes, hats, and masks available with his patented crimson color. Choose your free gift wisely. Everything else will cost you those hard-earned flowers.

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The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Z Flip 3 are pre-order hits

Ahead of its most recent Galaxy Unpacked event, Samsung made no secret of the fact it intended to make foldables go mainstream this year. And now it seems that early Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Z Flip 3 pre-order data confirms the company is well on the way to doing just that. 

Admittedly, we only have data for one market – Samsung’s base of South Korea – but the numbers are certainly impressive. The Korea Herald reports that pre-orders of the Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Z Flip 3 have reached a combined total of 450,000 and could go as high as 600,000 to 800,000 if momentum continues.   

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To put those numbers into perspective, the site claims that the Galaxy Z Fold 2 managed just 80,000 sales in the pre-order period. 

But what’s more interesting is how it compares to Samsung’s non-folding flagships. The site claims that these numbers are double those seen for the Galaxy S21 and 1.5 times that for the Galaxy Note 20. Enthusiasm was especially strong amongst younger age groups, with those aged 20 to 30 accounting for 49% of Galaxy Z Fold 3 pre-orders and 57% of Galaxy Z Flip 3 purchases.

That’s extremely encouraging for a company that has seen phone sales lagging year on year as consumers seemingly feel a sense of upgrade fatigue. And while this only represents the pre-order enthusiasm of one country – and one that is probably more enthusiastically pro Samsung than others – it would be surprising if this was wholly out of kilter with other regions.

“We are thankful for the great customer response to our new Galaxy Z Fold3 and Galaxy Z Flip3. Interest in foldable smartphones is at an all-time high, with pre-order volume for Z Fold3 and Z Flip3 already outpacing total sales for Galaxy Z devices to date in 2021,” Samsung said in an official statement. “We’re committed to providing the most innovative experiences to our consumers.”

Both foldable phones are due for release on August 27.

Module 11: Errors to Keep away from in Job Interviews

In case your job search has led you to an interview, then you will have most likely already averted a few of the frequent errors that can be detailed beneath: sustain the nice work. If you’re simply now embarking on a job search, then all of the following pointers can be useful to your future […]

Home windows 10 vs. MacOS vs. Chrome OS

Deciding on the right operating system can feel downright overwhelming. There are so many factors to consider when choosing an OS, and it often comes down to your personal preference for features, capabilities, user-friendliness, and price.
If deciding on the best OS has been nothing but a headache, look no further. We’ve rounded up the most vital information on the latest from Windows, Mac, and Chrome to make the process a breeze.
Windows 10 (and 11)

Microsoft’s Windows holds around 77% of the global desktop market share, with just shy of two-thirds of that being made up by Windows 10. If you throw in laptops, Windows 10 controls a full 40% of the entire global market, making it by far the most popular OS in the world for those sorts of devices. There are several reasons why that is, but the most important is the depth and breadth of its supporting hardware and software.
Because Microsoft sells Windows licenses to more or less any PC manufacturer to load on desktops, tablets, the best laptops, and everything in between, you can get a Windows machine at almost any size, shape, or price. Microsoft even sells Windows on its own, so consumers and businesses can manually load it onto their PC. That wide-open approach has let it conquer all competitors over the last few decades.
Because of its worldwide availability and longevity, Windows also boasts the biggest library of traditional software on the planet. Windows users don’t get every new application that comes on the market, but even those they don’t receive initially tend to come to Windows eventually. Consumer, media, enterprise, gaming, it doesn’t matter — if you want the most comprehensive array of capabilities, Windows is the way to go.
Moreover, the app library is now broader than in years past, and with the advent of Windows 11, the Microsoft Store is getting compatibility with Android apps while adding new support for a wider range of compatible software.
Works with everything
Riley Young / Digital Trends
Windows boasts compatibility with the most extensive array of hardware, thanks to extensive driver support. That’s a significant consideration if you want to play graphically intense video games or work with high-powered software for media, video editing, or computer-aided design. There are some superpowered Macs as alternatives, but they tend to be far more expensive, and the breadth of hardware choice isn’t the same. Very few Chrome OS devices can even compete.
The Windows PC ecosystem also boasts a wide variety of shapes and sizes, more so now than in years past. There are the usual desktop and traditional clamshell notebooks, which are more powerful and higher in quality than ever. They range in price from just a few hundred dollars for entry-level options up to many thousands for premium machines. The 2-in-1 market has ballooned in recent years, too, most notably thanks to Microsoft’s own Surface range, which makes some of the best convertible laptops and tablets to date.
Though most accessories are universal since the introduction of the USB standard, Windows still technically boasts the most compatibility with third-party add-ons, too. Just about any mouse, keyboard, webcam, storage drive, graphics tablet, printer, scanner, microphone, monitor, or other doodads you care to add to your computer will work with Windows, which is something that can’t always be said for MacOS and is true to an even lesser extent for Chrome OS.
Rapid and meaningful updates

If you haven’t used Windows in a few years, then you may associate it with slow, tepid progress. That’s no longer true. With Windows 10, Microsoft committed to twice-a-year updates. We’ve seen these updates introduce new features, security improvements, and performance enhancements.
For those who want to access the cutting-edge, they can join the free Insider program, which puts out new updates almost every week. Insiders get access to fixes, tweaks, and major new features — and they do add up over time. Not only do Insiders get immediate access to the latest capabilities, but they also help shape the OS by providing ongoing feedback to Microsoft.
Over time, this rapid update policy has given Windows an edge over MacOS, which updates every year, usually with just one or two significant new features (with the exception of Big Sur). Chrome OS also updates quickly, but Google only rarely introduces major new features — which has slowed progress relative to Windows and MacOS.
The only downside to the rapid updates with Windows is that they can occasionally cause more problems than they fix. For instance, the October 2018 update deleted user data and caused all sorts of driver issues. It took months to fix and prompted Microsoft to change its update practice to be a little less ambitious in the future.
Compatibility problems and version confusion

With all that said, Windows isn’t perfect. The open nature of Microsoft’s relationship with desktop and laptop manufacturers means that two different machines, often with the same specifications, can and do perform very differently. Production quality can vary wildly, even within hardware from the same manufacturer. That makes choosing a new Windows PC a challenge. Research devices first to get the most for your money.
Windows also has the reputation of being less secure than MacOS and Chrome OS, simply because it’s the most-used desktop OS and thus the most targeted. Windows includes numerous Microsoft tools and safeguards to prevent and clean viruses and other threats, and third-party tools are also available. Therefore, Windows is much more secure than it once was despite remaining the most-attacked OS — it’s simply no longer quite the security risk it once was.
The wide variety of Windows hardware can cause problems as well. Windows’ complex driver system can cause system errors that force the user to diagnose and solve, and frequent updates from Microsoft might break software or devices that it hadn’t considered or anticipated. For that reason, Windows is more difficult to administer for the typical user, although the Windows update infrastructure does make things easier than they were in the old days of scouring the web looking for updates and new drivers.
Moving to Windows 11

Windows 11 isn’t out quite yet, but it’s slated for a full release in 2021, which means Windows 10 users will have to consider upgrading. The good news is that Windows 11 isn’t changing too much from Windows 10 functionality. Native apps have a friendlier, more streamlined interface on Windows 11, but are otherwise very familiar. More customization options are available, from where to place the Start to bringing back Windows Widgets, the mini-apps you can set up on your home screen to show all kinds of useful information.
Microsoft is also ditching some of the less popular features from Windows 10, such as Live Tiles. The Microsoft Store is receiving an update that will allow users to run Android apps with the Amazon App Store, and the company is pointedly allowing developers to maintain their own commerce engines, something that Apple has repeatedly refused to entertain.
Given this user-friendly optimization and the similarities to Windows 10, there’s little reason to not at least examine with Windows 11 when it becomes available — it appears to be a worthy upgrade for almost all users.
Is Windows for you?

Windows increasingly improved quality of life throughout Windows 10, and the trajectory looks similar for Windows 11 as well. The result is one of the most elegant and user-friendly versions of Windows that receives frequent feature updates.
The problem of complexity does remain, however. You will likely encounter more bugs with Windows than with MacOS and Chrome OS. But these bugs are rarely the fatal errors that used to drag Windows systems to a halt, and they’re balanced by features and hardware compatibility that is simply unavailable with Microsoft’s competition.
One of Apple’s older promotional messages for Mac computers and their software was “it just works.” That philosophy is applied to more or less everything that the company sells, including laptops, desktops, and the associated MacOS software. Formerly called OS X, MacOS runs on all Apple computers, and buying an Apple machine is the only legitimate way to access it.
Because of this unique top-down approach to its products, Apple enjoys tighter control over MacOS than any of its current competitors. MacOS is designed to run on only a relatively small — and highly controlled — variety of computers and parts, compared to millions of possible combinations for Windows. That allows Apple to do more intense quality testing on its products, optimize software for only a few PC configurations, and provide targeted services that can diagnose and fix problems with much more speed and accuracy than Windows manufacturers.
For users who want a computer that “just works,” Macs are an appealing proposition.
It just works

The OS itself is designed to be easy to operate, even for novices. While the interface of Windows 10 is simple on its face, Microsoft’s OS has an infinitely deep layer of menus beneath. Troubleshooting can be bothersome and confusing.
New computer users often find MacOS to be more intuitive than Windows 10, though long-term Windows users may need some time to adjust to the interface. Some important features — like the MacOS file explorer, called Finder — are not as easy to understand.
Though the software market for MacOS is nowhere near as broad as Windows, it has its own expansive collection of cross-platform and bespoke apps. Apple includes a suite of in-house programs for basic tasks, and most popular third-party software, like Google’s Chrome browser, is available on MacOS. Microsoft even produces a version of its Office application suite for Apple hardware, and some of the best creative applications are available in superior versions for MacOS. It’s no surprise that MacOS is a popular option for design and media production, and many art-focused applications are available only on Mac, including Apple’s iconic Final Cut Pro video editing suite.
That said, MacOS is disadvantaged for gamers, as many new games are not immediately available on Apple’s platform. In 2021, more games are supporting Mac than ever before, and the new M1 chips are more gamer-friendly than previous processors, but it’s still a paltry list compared to Windows. For people who really love MacOS but still want to game, they can always leverage Apple’s Bootcamp application. This utility helps users prepare any Mac computer to run Windows instead of — or as a switchable option to — its built-in OS, allowing access to most Windows applications and capabilities.
This requires a separate Windows 10 license purchase, though it’s possible to run other operating systems, like Linux, on Bootcamp as well. (Windows machines can also boot Linux and other third-party operating systems, but MacOS cannot be licensed for use on non-Apple hardware.) Macs can even run Windows at the same time as MacOS through virtualization tools like Parallels or VMWare, offering even more flexibility for those who like the way MacOS operates but need access to some specific Windows software.
Better together

MacOS computers work in parallel with Apple’s mobile products, like the iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch. Users who go all-in on Apple hardware for both desktop and mobile enjoy a unified design language, tools like Siri and Apple Pay that work with both devices, and cross-functionality through an Apple account for apps like iMessage. Apple’s Continuity function is perhaps the most exciting example of how well PC and mobile are integrated, with the ability to pick up where you left off in a document on any device and take phone calls and answer texts on your Mac.
Owners of the Apple Watch can even log in to the latest version of MacOS without a password. This synergistic approach simply doesn’t exist to nearly the same extent on Windows, although Microsoft is pushing Windows back into the mobile space with Android and incorporating some Windows 10 X features into Windows 11. While it’s technically possible to acquire many similar features on Windows with third-party tools, it’s much more difficult than using MacOS.
Limited options
Photos by Riley Young
Apple only offers a few product lines running MacOS, and that’s a problem for many. The hardware (especially storage) is often expensive yet not always up-to-date, and it may not fit your needs. There is no 17-inch MacBook, for example, and Macs don’t offer a touchscreen in any form save for the miniature Touch Bar on the MacBook Pro. In fact, unless you want to add a keyboard to your iPad, the 2-in-1 isn’t a thing at all in the MacOS world, leaving behind anyone who’d rather carry just one device compared to lugging around a notebook and a separate tablet.
Apple does have some high-end solutions, though, if you need real power. They’re expensive, but the likes of the iMac and iMac Pro are some of the most capable workstation desktops and all-in-ones in the world.
Apple’s desire to trend-set when it comes to style can often leave users with limited options elsewhere, too. It has been several years since Apple effectively ditched anything but USB-C Thunderbolt connectors, in some cases limiting devices to just one or two ports. That means using an adapter if you want to plug in legacy or multiple devices and accessories at once, especially if you’re charging at the same time.
Is MacOS for you?
Dan Baker/Digital Trends
Mac computers and MacOS are for users who want a premium, fine-tuned, maintenance-free desktop experience. Apple’s top-to-bottom philosophy makes its software relatively accessible to newcomers. It’s also a great pick for people who are dedicated to Apple’s mobile products.
However, Mac systems are expensive and often don’t offer hardware on par with Windows alternatives. The OS also lacks certain features that can be found on Windows, like touch support. You’ll need to commit yourself to USB-C or grab a few adapters if you’re interested in Apple’s MacBook line.
Read our coverage of MacOS Catalina
Chrome OS
Google’s approach to the world of desktop-class hardware is an interesting one. Chrome OS was originally designed as an OS that mostly relied on constant access to the internet — which made sense because it was designed as an extension of the Chrome desktop browser. Chrome hardware — usually called a “Chromebook” for laptops and sometimes a “Chromebox” for desktop designs — was intended for users who rely primarily on the web and only occasionally use more complex desktop software.
Today, Chrome OS feels more like an OS than a bloated browser. It packs an integrated file manager, a messaging app for sending and receiving texts via a linked Android phone (think iMessages), and more. It also supports both Google Play Android apps and Linux-based software. Users essentially get three platforms in one at a lower cost than a Windows PC or Mac.
It’s a web world
Riley Young / Digital Trends
Because Chrome OS revolves around a web browser, it’s the least complex of the three major operating systems. Calling it a “browser in a box” isn’t the whole story, but it’s a good way to think about it. Though Chrome OS includes some basic desktop tools like a file manager and a photo viewer, its primary focus is content on the web. Android app compatibility does expand its capabilities significantly, but not all the apps scale well with a laptop or desktop display.
The interface is designed to get users to the web quickly and easily and to present as few barriers to internet content as possible. Anyone who uses the Chrome browser on a Windows or MacOS machine will be instantly comfortable with the interface, and all their saved history, bookmarks, and extensions will sync over.
Chrome devices excel at web browsing, streaming video and music, chatting and video conferencing, and other relatively simple web tasks. It can do anything that the Chrome browser on a desktop can do, including advanced Flash and Java applications. Chrome extensions and apps can change the interface and add extra functionality to a certain degree, but they lack the fine controls and more advanced “power user” options of Windows and MacOS.
That’s where Android app compatibility comes in, providing millions of new app options that greatly expand the Chrome OS experience. Support for Linux desktop programs, currently still in beta, builds on the Chrome OS ecosystem for users who prefer more powerful, traditional software over mobile and web-based applications.
Since Google designed the system to rely on Chrome, it’s understandably reliant on Google tools, to a greater degree than Windows relies on Microsoft software and MacOS relies on Apple software. That’s either a good or a bad thing, depending on how completely a user has bought into Google properties.
If you already use Gmail, Sheets, Drive, and other Google services, Chrome OS is a fantastic platform for better integrating those tools with your everyday tasks.
Cheap and easy

The focus on the web gives Chrome OS some dramatic advantages over Windows and MacOS. It can run comfortably on very low-power, inexpensive hardware. Laptops with cheap processors, tiny solid-state drives, and very little RAM can run Chrome OS easily, all with expansive storage in the cloud. Sometimes, these inexpensive designs run faster and more reliably than Windows and MacOS, even when the latter is used primarily for a browser anyway.
If you want the best Android app experience, particularly gaming, then you’ll want a fast processor, but you’re much less reliant on high-end components for a usable experience. Options for high-end Chromebooks are more expansive than they’ve ever been, even if they aren’t the focus of the range. The Pixelbook leads the way, but there are plenty of other great Chromebooks to choose from.
Whether you go high- or low-end, if you aren’t running intensive applications, Chrome OS is essentially the same experience on every single Chromebook and Chromebox. It doesn’t suffer from the “bloatware” problem that Windows has, even though Chrome OS devices are sold by third-party manufacturers like Dell, Samsung, and Toshiba. And the administration of such devices is easier, making Chrome OS popular in educational environments.
The combination of this all-in-one approach and low-power requirements means that Chromebooks can be extremely inexpensive, sometimes even less than $200. More expensive models offer high-resolution screens, backlit keyboards, fold-back touchscreens, and other fancy features, including the top-of-the-line Pixelbook 2-in-1 sold by Google itself, complete with touch and pen support.
Is Chrome OS for you?
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends
Chrome OS originally offered virtually no compatibility with external software. Google is changing that dynamic by supporting mobile Android apps and traditional Linux-based software. Chromebooks won’t work with advanced accessories like USB monitors or complex gaming hardware — Google simply doesn’t provide the drivers. It can handle basic keyboards, mice, USB drives, and Bluetooth add-ons, but that’s about it.
Meanwhile, gaming on Chrome OS is one of the most meaningful beneficiaries of Android and Linux support. While you won’t be running the massive gaming titles available for Windows, and to a much lesser extent MacOS, there are at least hundreds of thousands of Android games that should run fairly well on newer Chromebooks and Chromeboxes. That’s a significant improvement over the early days of Chrome OS when gaming took a real back seat.
On the Linux front, you can install Steam along with any game you purchase that offers a Linux-based version. However, given that most Chromebooks offer lower-end specifications, storage, and GPU processing will be the limiting factor. Google’s own Stadia streaming service and Nvidia’s GeForce Now offer ways to play your favorites without those software and hardware limitations.
In short, Chrome OS is almost all web, all the time. If you’re a Windows or Mac user and you often find that the only app you’re using is a browser, or you’re okay with the huge ecosystem of simpler Android apps, then it’s worthy of consideration. But the almost complete lack of the most advanced third-party software is a deal-breaker for anyone who relies on a computer for more complex tasks.
If you conduct the vast majority of your business online, you’ll find Chrome OS incredibly appealing. Compared to competitors, it’s budget-friendly, easy to use, and designed with durability in mind. While it’s an excellent choice for students, it might fall short for users who need software to handle more complex tasks.
Verdict: Windows is the best all-rounder, at a price
Overall, Windows 10 delivers practical user design, competitive pricing, and the broadest hardware selection, making it the best all-around platform for most users. If you’re not entirely sure about what features you’ll need from your operating system, you can bet that Windows has everything you need. Windows 11 will shake things up in the future too, potentially bringing some of the aesthetic qualities and fluid animations of MacOS to the Windows experience.
Students, folks on a limited budget, and loyal Google users can’t go wrong with Chrome OS. Generally speaking, MacOS tends to be the best option for professionals who are comfortable paying extra for optimized hardware and software.

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Acer could launch a number of HD and 4K good TVs in India

The Covid-19 ushed pandemic has had strange implications on consumer-focused brands. While smartphone makers are trying to find more ways to get closer to your workstations, conventional tech companies are looking to gain some foothold into your drawing rooms.We recently caught up with Acer’s Chief Business Officer Sudhir Goel, who briefed us on the company’s vision, ongoing chip shortage and the new Air purifier that the company had launched. He also talked about the new IoT products that the company is planning to come up with, however, he did not reveal that the company is also looking to add smart TVs to its kitty.Folks at 91Mobiles have got us covered here and have reported that the Taiwanese tech company may launch a slew of smart LED TVs ranging from 32-inch to 70-inch screen sizes by next month.[embedded content]The report states that these TVs will be made locally in India at one of the facilities of the contract manufacturer Dixon. According to the report, these TVs will cover the entire price gamut starting from the budget HD-Ready and going all the way up to premium 4K TVs.As per the report, since these TVs will run on Android TV OS they will support various OTT applications natively and will also support downloading of applications from the Play Store. Standard connectivity features will include Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, USB, and HDMI will be present on all the TVs while the premium ones will come with features like Micro Dimming and Dolby Audio.While the report even states that these LED TVs could be priced between Rs. 20,000 to Rs. 70,000, we’ve reached out to Acer for some clarity around this report and the brand chose not to comment as of right now.Analysis: Does Acer wants to make the brand more relevant to consumers?While there is no doubt that smartphone makers venturing into the Smart TV segment makes sense. Along with smart home products and accessories, this not only helps them create a connected ecosystem of products that can talk to each other.Also, these smartphone and lifestyle brands launching laptops can be considered a demand-driven decision. Thanks to the pandemic terms like remote work and remote education have become an essential part of our lifestyle and hence these brands are trying their best to make the most out of the opportunity.Similarly, core tech brands like Acer venturing into the smart TV segment can also be seen as a demand-based decision. Ever since people are forced to stay indoors, online content consumption has increased drastically. Hence, the shift from the workspace to the drawing-room could help Acer become a household brand.However, in both scenarios, it boils down to quality and after-sales support. If these are not handled properly, this decision to venture into unknown territories can backfire and hurt the brand’s image and impact the core business as wellWant to know about the latest happenings in tech? Follow TechRadar India on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram!

Greatest Cell Cellphone Offers of August 2021

Frequently asked questions about cell phone deals

Welcome to the FAQ section, where we answer all of your burning questions about love, life, and cell phones … well, mostly about cell phones actually.

When is the best time to look for cell phone deals?

It depends on what you want. It’s well known in the industry that Apple tends to unveil its new devices in September of each year, while Samsung usually sticks to a January release date. So, if you want a new iPhone or Galaxy phone, then those will be the times you’ll see a flurry of deals on new models.
You’ll also see a good amount of deals landing around Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and other holidays.
If you’re not interested in waiting for the right deal to land in your lap, then you can take the initiative by switching to a new carrier or adding a new line to your plan (to make it a family plan). Since pretty much every company has done away with restrictive contracts, it doesn’t really matter when you switch.

Should I switch to a different cell phone carrier to get a good deal on a cell phone?

The short answer is yes, unless you’re really happy with your current carrier.
Not only are the best deals usually saved for new customers, but many companies will also give you other incentives to “break up” with your current cell phone company. For example, T-Mobile will pay up to $650 for you to pay off your phone or phone bill with your old carrier when you switch over.

What are the best upgrade cell phone deals?

There is some incentive for folks to stay with their existing carrier. Most companies will offer upgrade deals every year or two. These deals can help you keep up with the latest models from Apple, Samsung, or Google, but they might not be as substantial as the deals for brand new customers.
If you think you should be eligible for an upgrade, give your carrier a call.

What are the best refer-a-friend cell phone deals?

Mint Mobile has one of the best referral deals around. You can get up to $240 of credit when you refer up to five friends. That’s enough credit to get you a full year on Mint’s 10 GB plan! Plus, each friend that you refer will get a $15 credit for themselves. Everyone wins.
Most companies have a referral program. So, if you’ve got friends looking for a new phone plan, be sure to ask your current carrier about their referral deals. You may be able to score some credit for a new phone or to help pay your bill.

What are the best cell phone trade-in deals?

That old iPhone 8 may seem totally worthless to you. But it could be worth a couple hundred bucks in the right context. Verizon Wireless probably has the most robust trade-in program, offering up to $800 (!) off a new iPhone 12.
Of course, trading in your old phone might not fetch as much as selling on your own using Facebook Marketplace.

What are the best smartphones?

There are several contenders for the best smartphone on the market. But after a lot of research and analysis, we’ve come up with three devices that clearly beat out the competition.

Best overall performance: The Samsung Galaxy S21+ quite simply has everything. The best camera, a lightning-fast processor, an insanely beautiful display, 5G capability, and pretty much everything else you could want.
Best overall value: If you want a phone that balances incredible performance with reasonable price, the iPhone 12 is the way to go. You’ll get the beautiful design and solid reliability of an Apple product for less than $1,000 factory price.
Best for budget: Google has snuck into the cell phone market in recent years with some phones that rival the performance of Apple and Samsung but cost half as much. The Pixel 4A is no different. You can get this surprisingly powerful phone for under $400.

You’ll be able to add Alexa to your kitchen for simply £14.99 – right here’s how

The Amazon Echo Flex, which crams an Alexa smart speaker into a small plug socket device, is now just £14.99 over at Currys PC World.

Originally available for £24.99, this pint-sized smart device can now be had with a swish £10 off – handy if you’re on the lookout for a cheaper way of adding Alexa functionality to one of your rooms.

The Echo Flex itself is just ever so slightly larger than a typical plug socket, making it a solid choice if space is at a premium in your kitchen and a larger smart speaker would be too out of place. It is worth pointing out though that the Flex’s size does limit its capabilities somewhat, and it shouldn’t be considered as a full replacement for a dedicated smart speaker.

As mentioned in our review: “Voice responses are what this smart speaker is designed for, with the speaker good enough that you can clearly hear things like the current weather forecast or responses to general questions.”

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It’s because of this setback however that the Flex works best as a kitchen assistant, less so as a means for playing music but more so as a quick and easy timer, as well as for asking cooking questions on the go. Speaking from experience, the chance of burning ingredients falls exponentially if you bring a smart assistant into the mix.

Rather brilliantly, the Echo Flex has a USB a port on the bottom so that you can add extensions to expand its functionality. Add-ons include a motion sensor and a night light – the latter being particularly helpful if you want to navigate the kitchen for a late night glass of water.

As an affordable means of adding Alexa to your kitchen, the Echo Flex at £14.99 is an absolute steal, either for yourself or as an easy gift for someone else.