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Oliver Cragg / Android Authority

Microsoft’s Xbox might be the newest player in console gaming’s “big three,” but the brand has managed to stand out with unique hardware and services from the very beginning. Two decades in, Xbox is already looking well beyond the console age and into the future of gaming with cloud-based gaming infrastructure.

So how exactly did Xbox get here and what lies ahead? We put together this comprehensive guide to the brand, covering everything from console history to first-party studio acquisitions and more. Whether you’re a long-time fan or a recent Xbox Series X or Series S buyer, here’s everything you need to know about Xbox!

Although Xbox has expanded to software and services in recent years, the heart of the brand is still home consoles. At this point, we’ve had two decades of releases, comprising four separate generations and several more inter-generational upgrades to keep pushing graphical limits as far as possible.

If you really want to learn more about the history of Xbox consoles, we have a full guide for that linked below. For the brief version, keep reading.

Read also: The history of Xbox

Xbox

Hadlee Simons / Android Authority

Microsoft’s first Xbox console came out back in 2001, competing with the Sony PlayStation 2, Nintendo Gamecube, and to a lesser extent, the Sega Dreamcast. Considering the PS2 is the best-selling console of all time, that’s some fierce competition.

Even so, the Xbox managed to win over some fans. It didn’t make much headway in Japan (where all three other consoles originated), but it fared much better in Europe and the United States.

Much of that success is due to Xbox Live, which offered the best online gaming experience of any console at the time. Paired with an integrated broadband modem and the flagship game Halo 2, the original Xbox truly set the stage for later expansion of online gaming as a whole.

Xbox Series X and Series S

Oliver Cragg / Android Authority

Xbox was at a low point when coming into its fourth generation of consoles, but it really brought the heat with two separate console designs to suit all budgets in 2023. The more expensive Xbox Series X provides truly next-gen performance, while the all-digital Xbox Series S allows access to the same games at a lower resolution — and a much lower price point.

Without getting too deep into technical specifications, the Series X is built to target consistent 4K/60fps, with support for up to 8K resolution and 120fps. The less powerful Series S, on the other hand, targets 1440p/60fps, with support for 4K upscaling and 120fps.

Xbox services

As mentioned above, Xbox had a special focus on service since its very early days with Xbox Live. Today, those services expand beyond just the console space and form a big part of Xbox’s strategy to build out its digital ecosystem.

To give you an idea of what the company has to offer, here’s a quick roundup of all Xbox services currently available. Be sure to check out our dedicated guides to learn more about each service.

Xbox Cloud Gaming

Oliver Cragg / Android Authority

Looking to the future, Xbox has recently launched a cloud gaming service called Xbox Cloud Gaming. Known as Project xCloud while in beta, it offers access to a library of Xbox games streamed directly from the cloud to your mobile device.

Xbox Game Pass

Microsoft

Another key Xbox service is Game Pass. First launched in the Xbox One era in 2023, it offers access to a library of games for a simple monthly subscription fee. It’s often referred to as a “Netflix-for-games” model, and Microsoft’s last official disclosure revealed 18 million paying subscribers. However, an unofficial source pegs the service at 23 million subscribers as of April 2023.

Next: Xbox Game Pass buyer’s guide

There are actually two separate versions of Xbox Game Pass: One for Xbox consoles and one for PC. These have different libraries and require separate subscription fees (unless subscribed to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate). Both libraries are constantly shifting, although discounts are offered on games leaving Game Pass for those who want to continue playing.

Microsoft has pushed Xbox Game Pass heavily in the past few years, and a big part of that is day-one access to new first-party games from Xbox Game Studios. As the list of studios grows to include Bethesda, Rare, Mojang, Activision Blizzard (pending the deal’s closure), and many others, the value of a Game Pass subscription also goes up. That makes it an attractive prospect for both casual and hardcore gamers alike.

Xbox Game Pass Ultimate

Microsoft

While Xbox Game Pass and Xbox Game Pass for PC offer great value, nothing compares to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate. As the name implies, it’s the ultimate subscription service for both console and PC gamers.

Xbox Game Pass Ultimate is the best deal in gaming.

Xbox Game Pass Ultimate includes both Xbox Game Pass and Xbox Game Pass for PC, Xbox Live Gold, Xbox Cloud Gaming, and EA Play. All of that costs just $14.99 a month, which is less than any two of those subscriptions purchased individually.

This premium subscription is a big part of Xbox’s strategy going forward, as evidenced by its bundling with an Xbox Series X or S with Xbox All Access. This special deal includes a console and two-year access to Game Pass Ultimate for either $24.99 or $34.99 a month, depending on whether you opt for the Series S or Series X.

Xbox controllers and accessories

Read also: The best PC game controllers you can get

While we’re on the subject of controllers, there’s one more option you might want to consider if you’re an avid user of Xbox Cloud Gaming, and that’s the Razer Kishi Xbox Edition. It has all of the same buttons as a regular Xbox controller, but it clips onto your phone for Xbox gaming on the go.

The company also released the innovative Xbox Adaptive Controller for gamers with disabilities in 2023. This features two large buttons and a large D-pad, plus more than twenty ports that support a variety of input devices. This setup allows enormous customization of control schemes so virtually anyone can game, no matter how limited their mobility.

Xbox charging accessories

Unless you want to spend the rest of your days buying AA batteries, you’ll want to invest in a Play and Charge controller battery pack. This nifty little pack offers up to 30 hours of playtime on a single charge. It takes about four hours to fully charge via USB

If you’re worried about charging downtime cutting into your gaming, you can also swing for the PowerA Charging Stand. It comes with two battery packs and a handy stand to store two controllers. The battery pack won’t last quite as long, but it will make sure you always have at least one controller ready to go.

343 Industries: Halo

Alpha Dog Games: Primarily mobile titles

Arkane Studios: Dishonored, Deathloop

Bethesda Game Studios: The Elder Scrolls, Fallout, Starfield

The Coalition: Gears of War

Compulsion Games: Contrast, We Happy Few

Double Fine Productions: Psychonauts, Brutal Legend, Broken Age

id Software: Doom, Quake

The Initiative: Perfect Dark

inXile Entertainment: Wasteland, Bard’s Tale

MachineGames: Wolfenstein, Indiana Jones

Mojang Studios: Minecraft

Ninja Theory: Kung Fu Chaos, Heavenly Sword, Devil May Cry, Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice

Obsidian Entertainment: The Outer Worlds

Playground Games: Forza Horizon, Fable

Rare: Banjo-Kazooie, Conker, Kameo, Sea of Thieves

Roundhouse Studios: New studio from Human Head Studios devs (Prey, The Quiet Man, Rune II)

Tango Gameworks: The Evil Within, Ghostwire: Tokyo

Turn 10 Studios: Forza Motorsport

Undead Labs: State of Decay

World’s Edge: Age of Empires

Xbox Game Studios Publishing: Publishes games by external devs (Ori and the Blind Forest, Microsoft Flight Simulator, Zoo Tycoon)

ZeniMax Online Studios: The Elder Scrolls Online

What makes Xbox unique?

Ryan-Thomas Shaw / Android Authority

For other game consoles like the Nintendo Switch and the Sony PlayStation 5, what makes them stand out from the crowd is a variety of exclusive titles. In the case of Xbox, there are some exclusive titles (as seen above), but the approach is much more inclusive.

Nearly all first-party Xbox games are available on both PC and console (not to mention the cloud), so gamers don’t need to purchase any expensive hardware to get the Xbox experience. Even the latest next-gen console games are available with ray-tracing support on the $300 Xbox Series S.

Xbox is well-positioned in an increasingly crowded and competitive gaming industry, but that doesn’t mean it can rest on its laurels. For now, it sits among the top three for console games, but with mobile and now cloud gaming on the rise, other brands may rise and fall to meet the shifting tides.

Here’s a quick roundup of some of Xbox’s biggest competitors now and in the future.

More: PS5 vs Xbox Series X

Still, PlayStation has a lot to offer beyond just first-party exclusives. Its consoles offer excellent VR support (which the Xbox Series X/S do not have), as well as an incredible new DualSense controller with adaptive triggers and immersive haptic feedback. For many pure console gamers, that puts PlayStation a head above Xbox when choosing new gaming hardware for the living room.

Nintendo

Oliver Cragg / Android Authority

Nintendo has historically been the odd man out in the console gaming scene, with unique console designs and input schemes unlike even its own previous iterations. This means that each generation is fresh and exciting, although backwards compatibility is often woefully absent.

The biggest draw, regardless of the hardware, has always been Nintendo’s incredible library of first-party games. Iconic games from series like Mario Bros, The Legend of Zelda, Pokemon, Animal Crossing, Kirby, Fire Emblem, Super Smash Bros, and countless others are exclusively found on Nintendo consoles. This is enough to drive demand, despite historically weak graphical performance when compared to Xbox or Sony consoles.

Neither Xbox nor PlayStation can compete with Nintendo’s first-party games.

The Japanese company’s latest console, the Nintendo Switch, is one of a kind in that it can serve as both a home console and a portable console by removing it from the included dock, hence the name. More than four years after it first hit the market, it’s selling better than ever and may prove to be Nintendo’s most popular console to date by the end of its run.

That said, it isn’t seen as an Xbox rival to the same extent as the Sony PlayStation is. As the Xbox brand expands into the cloud gaming space and beyond, this is unlikely to change. Nintendo will continue to do its thing by delivering excellent, but limited, gaming experiences for the whole family.

Google

It might come as a surprise to find Google on the list of Xbox competitors, but it makes sense when you consider the wider goals of the brand. Xbox wants to be a household name in gaming in the same way that Google is a household name in search (and many other industries). It can also be seen as an offshoot of the rivalry between Google and Xbox’s parent company, Microsoft.

That said, the main overlap between the two is cloud gaming. Google was the first major player to enter the scene with Google Stadia back in 2023, and it remains one of the most (technically) proficient platforms, with low latency performance and excellent device support. Instead of relying on subscription services, players can buy a game and keep it forever, playing whenever they want from the cloud.

The Xbox 360 catches on

Xbox has been in a perennial second or third place, but the brand really made some headway with its second major console release. The Xbox 360 didn’t exactly sell more than its fellow generation of consoles, but it does remain the best-selling console in Xbox history.

A big part of that was price. It launched a full $200 cheaper than the PS3, which was a tough upsell from the incredibly popular PS2 at the time.

Online gaming with Xbox Live

Online gaming was big in certain circles when Xbox Live launched in 2002, but on consoles it was in a fairly sorry state. Dreamcast Online and PlayStation Online suffered from poor server performance and a serious lack of basic features, meaning that online play was mostly relegated to PC gaming.

To combat this, Microsoft made Xbox Live a key feature of its first console, providing excellent server performance, a friends list, voice chat, built-in broadband support, downloadable content, and more. Once Halo 2 came out in 2004, the service had more than established itself as the premier platform for online multiplayer on consoles.

Release of the Xbox Adaptive Controller

When it comes to accessibility, gamers with reduced mobility are often left in the dust. Thankfully, Microsoft addressed this problem in 2023 with the Xbox adaptive controller.

With two large buttons and a host of features for customization, it opens a lot of doors for disabled gamers. It was named as one of Time’s Best Inventions of 2023 and remains one of the best accessibility controllers for any platform.

Launching Xbox Game Pass Ultimate

It’s no secret that Xbox Game Pass is set to play a huge role in Xbox’s business strategy going forward, but it’s also a huge boon for gamers. While most people are suffering from subscription fatigue, few are complaining about Game Pass. Everyone wanted a “Netflix for games” subscription, and that’s exactly what Xbox delivered.

The most expensive option, Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, is widely considered the best deal in gaming. It just has so many excellent titles to play through on console, PC, and the cloud, with new first-party titles joining the service on day one.

The commitment to backwards compatibility

Ever since the release of the Xbox 360, Xbox has been committed to maintaining backwards compatibility for all of its consoles. This is a huge benefit for legacy gamers and goes far beyond anything offered by its rivals.

Currently, the Xbox Series X and Series S are backwards compatible all the way back to the original console. Not every game is supported, but virtually all of the big hits from Xbox history can be enjoyed on a single console.

Worst moments in Xbox history

Xbox 360 Red Ring of Death

While the Xbox 360 was a high point for the brand, it wasn’t all sunshine and lollipops. Early consoles were plagued with technical problems, most notably the infamous Red Ring of Death (RRoD), riffing off Window’s Blue Screen of Death.

Mostly caused by consoles overheating, it led gamers to try all kinds of strange home remedies like wrapping their consoles in a cold towel. Ultimately, Xbox extended warranties to three years for early models, and spent a lot of cash repairing and replacing faulty consoles.

Xbox One price shock Heavy-handed DRM on second-hand games

Pricing wasn’t the only controversy during the Xbox One era. When the console was first announced, Microsoft announced that it would require gamers to fully install games onto their hard drives (including disc-based games), and verify their purchase every 24 hours to play. This also meant the company would control whether or not you could sell your games or lend them to friends and family.

Thankfully, Xbox officials quickly walked these plans back after heavy backlash from fans. Gamers were free to share, lend, and sell their games at launch, and once a game was installed on a console it could be played without ever connecting to the internet again.

Xbox Live Gold price hike

Shortly after the release of the Xbox Series X/S, the company announced that its online component, Xbox Network (formerly Xbox Live), would double in price from $60 to $120 a year. Compared to online gaming on PCs, which has always been free of charge — plus the fact that even free-to-play games like Fortnite required a paid subscription — this struck fans as incredibly out of step with the times.

Like the DRM debacle above, Xbox backtracked on these plans as well. Xbox Live Gold remained the same price as always, and the company even dropped the paid subscription requirement for free-to-play games.

Other details

Although Xbox seems to have largely abandoned its aspirations to be a set-top box replacement, the brand does have one interesting device in the works that ties in with Xbox Cloud Gaming. Essentially a streaming stick that plugs into the back of any TV, it would allow access to game streaming without any further hardware (other than a controller).

Microsoft has confirmed that the device is coming soon, but hasn’t provided any details beyond that. We don’t know what it looks like, how much it will cost, or even whether it will launch alongside a standalone Xbox Cloud Gaming subscription (it’s currently tied to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate).

Another upcoming development is an Xbox TV app, which essentially does the same as the device above but for smart TVs. With just a compatible controller and a stable internet connection, users can stream Xbox games directly to their TVs. This would bring it up to device parity with the most accessible cloud streaming platform at the moment, Google Stadia.

Other FAQs

A: The first Xbox came out on November 15, 2001 in North America, and in early 2002 in the rest of the world.

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Everything You Need To Know About Emui 11

Robert Triggs / Android Authority

EMUI 11 is Huawei‘s latest take on Android 10, not Android 11, as you may have expected from the naming scheme. That’s pretty big news, as it’s a departure from HUAWEI’s previous scheme of matching EMUI and Android build numbers. This means that existing and upcoming HUAWEI devices won’t sport the latest Google additions to the Android formula, relying instead on HUAWEI’s own tweaks. HUAWEI notes that Google has only just made Android 11 open source for them to access and that it believes EMUI already includes superior features anyway.

We won’t dwell on that here. Let’s see what’s actually new with EMUI 11. HUAWEI’s update focuses on three core principles: user interface improvements, privacy and security, and what HUAWEI calls “seamless AI life.”

We originally got our hands on an early EMUI 11 version running on the HUAWEI P40 Pro to try out some of the new features for ourselves. The software also shipped with the HUAWEI Mate 40 series, giving us hands-on time with the finished product too. You can read more about our impressions at the link below.

EMUI 11 features Tweaking the user interface

This feature is HUAWEI’s best addition to EMUI, as power users will undoubtedly find the multitasking potential invaluable. That said, getting used to minimizing apps in and out of the orb takes some time, and I imagine that many users may end up forgetting this feature exists.

Privacy and security

Security is the third and final pillar of HUAWEI’s latest OS software, which builds on ideas that started with EMUI 10. For starters, HUAWEI has revamped app permissions.

With EMUI 11, notification icons display whenever a foreground app uses your phone’s location, microphone, or camera. Background apps are now completely forbidden from using the mic and camera. Permission pop-ups for these settings no longer display an option to “always allow”. It is instead relegated to the permissions manager settings menu.

HUAWEI has also introduced new permission access history and app launch record pages to the settings menu, allowing you to see times and number of requests.

Product integration

Robert Triggs / Android Authority

Huawei’s ecosystem spans a range of products and the company is working to integrate them ever closer together. Multi-screen Collaboration enters its third iteration, allowing you to share documents, watch movies, and play mobile games from your phone on your HUAWEI or HONOR laptop. Up to three apps are now supported on a single PC simultaneously for improved multitasking.

Huawei’s Celia Voice Assistant also receives some love, with new support for Italian and German. This brings the total to 7 different languages available in 11 countries. The MeeTime voice call service also sees a wider rollout, heading to Poland, Singapore, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, and South Africa, across three devices.

EMUI 11 release date and eligible devices

HUAWEI EMUI 11 arrived in earnest with the HUAWEI Mate 40 series and a stable update has been available for HUAWEI P40 smartphones since December 2023. Most HUAWEI Mate 30 series and Mate XS owners should also have seen the update notification in early 2023 as well.

Plenty more devices are on the roadmap for 2023 too. HUAWEI P40 and Mate 20 owners should see the EMUI 11 update start landing on their devices from February 2023. The Mate 20 PR Porsche Design and other variations should also start seeing updates throughout March 2023. The HONOR 30, V30, Nova 7, and others are also on the roadmap and should see their update land in the first half of 2023.

Interestingly enough, devices running EMUI 11 may also be eligible to upgrade to Harmony OS, HUAWEI’s in-house Android operating system, further down the line.

Up next: Hands-on with EMUI 11

Oneplus 5: Everything You Need To Know About The Mid

The OnePlus 5 is a major improvement over the 3 and 3T, but nearly all of the changes are on the inside. That means you’re getting the same display as last year at a higher price. So while it’s still a good deal, it’s not quite the killer bargain it was last year. There’s a lot more to it, so read our review for the full details.

The OnePlus 5 was released in June 27, 2023, and is available for purchase through OnePlus’s website . The gray model with 64GB of storage and 6GB of RAM costs $479, and the black model with 128GB of storage and 8GB of RAM will set you back $539. Like OnePlus’s other handsets, the 5 won’t be available through carriers, though OnePlus is calling it a “true world phone,” with support for 34 networks across the globe.

And it looks to be a formidable competitor. Packing the fastest processor around in the Snapdragon 835, up to 8GB of RAM, a 3,300mAh battery, and dual cameras, the OnePlus 5 fills out the spec sheet for less. Here’s everything you need to know, including our full review of the OnePlus 5.

The original flagship killer is back with, well, another flagship killer. After weeks of leaks and rumors, OnePlus has released its sixth handset, the OnePlus 5, and it has the major Android players in its sights: the LG G6 , Galaxy S8 , and HTC U11 .

Updated 08/07/17: The OnePlus 5 is now available in gold. See the Display and Design section below for the full slate of color options.

OnePlus 5 display and design

At 7.25mm thick, the OnePlus 5 is the thinnest phone OnePlus has made. It has moved the camera to the upper-left corner like the iPhone rather than keeping it centered, and the antenna lines remain, meaning the back is made of aluminum and not glass. 

Christopher Hebert/IDG

The OnePlus 5 looks a lot like the iPhone 7 Plus from the back.

Around the front, OnePlus has resisted the bezel-trimming trend. It looks almost exactly like the 3T, with the same 5.5-inch Full HD 1920×1080 resolution display and pill-shaped home button/fingerprint sensor. Thankfully, it also still has the 3.5mm headphone jack on the bottom edge of the device and an alert slider on the left side. It is available in three color options, depending on options. Both models are available in a slate gray color, but to get it in soft gold you’ll need to choose the 64GB model, while the 128GB version is available in an exclusive midnight black color.

OnePlus 5 performance and battery

While the battery is smaller than the one in last year’s 3T, it’s more than big enough to get through a full day of use. Plus, the 5 uses OnePlus’ proprietary Dash Charge system to power up quicker than its competitors. However, since the OnePlus 5 has an aluminum back, it doesn’t support wireless charging like the S8 and G6.

OnePlus 5 camera

OnePlus

The OnePlus 5 features dual 16MP and 20MP sensors.

The system brings Fast AF and Smart Capture that will let you take shots instantaneously while filtering out noise and inconsistencies in low-light situations, as well as improved HDR and a portrait mode that simulates a depth of field. It also features 1.6x optical zoom (up to 8x when combined with the digital zoom) and a pro mode that includes a tiny histogram so you can fine-tune the pixels. Notably neither lens features optical image stabilization.

IDG

In bright sunlight the OnePlus 5 (left) focused quickly, but the images were a bit too cool. The LG G6 (center) went in the other direction, and the Pixel (right) was spot on.

OnePlus 5 OS 

The OnePlus 5 runs OxygenOS based on Android 7.1.1 Nougat. Previous iterations haven’t strayed too far from stock Android, and the OnePlus 5’s version is no different. But there are some new features.

OnePlus

OxygenOS doesn’t mess with Android too much, but there are some changes.

As you use it, it will learn your habits and prioritize your apps accordingly on a new quick-launch area of the Shelf. A Do Not Disturb mode just for gaming will block notifications and disable the soft buttons for an uninterrupted experience. Secure Box lets you lock up documents, photos, and videos behind a fingerprint- or pin-protected folder. And a new Reading Mode will optimize the display in apps like Amazon’s Kindle reader to make words easier on your eyes.

FAQ What happened to the OnePlus 4?

There’s a reason OnePlus has jumped from the 3T to the 5. In Chinese culture, the number four is considered unlucky, like the number 13 in the U.S. This is due to the Chinese phonetic pronunciation of the number four being like the word for death and suffering. Many elevators in China skip the fourth floor, much like U.S. hotels often jump from floor 12 to 14.

What’s in the box? Are there any cases available?

Yes! Just like its previous phones, OnePlus is selling a series of case available in faux wood, carbon fiber, and sandstone. Additionally, there’s a flip cover and an official Otterbox case in black or red.

Can I bring an SD card?

Sadly, no. While there are two nano SIM slots in the SIM tray, the OnePlus 5 doesn’t support SD cards for storage. So you might want to splurge on the bigger model if space is a concern.

How does Dash Charge work?

OnePlus supplies a proprietary cable and a plug that is needed for Dash Charging. But since the OnePlus 5 doesn’t support the Quick Charge standard on the S8 and LG G6, if you don’t use the supplied cable and plug, the phone will charge as normal.

I’m a Verizon customer. Will it work for me? Is it true that calling 911 will cause the phone to reboot?

There were a few reports on Reddit that OnePlus 5 users who dialed 911 in the U.S. or 999 in the UK, and had their phones reboot rather than place a call to emergency services. It doesn’t seem to have been a widespread problem, and OnePlus acted quickly to pinpoint the bug. In a statement, the company said, “We have been in touch with the customer and have tested a software update that has resolved the issue. We will be rolling out the software update shortly. We will be rolling out the software update shortly.” Users have reported the update is already hitting their phone. If you have a phone that is affected by the issue, you can contact OnePlus support at [email protected] or (858) 609-6590 for more information.

Everything You Need To Know About Fake Cell Towers

How A Fake Cell Tower Works

To learn how fake cell towers work, we have to have a little background on the real ones. Your service provider must authenticate your SIM card with a phone number that gives it a sort of “account.” Everything that passes through that tower is usually encrypted (depending on how the provider sets its system up) and mostly tap-proof. So, how can someone listen in on your calls simply by catching your signal? To get to your phone and listen to your calls, a fake tower must be able to imitate your provider’s handshake.

In case you don’t understand what I mean by “handshake”, it’s basically a word used to describe the unique way in which your phone and your provider say “hello” to each other and determine their identities on the network. From the handshake onward, you are authenticated, which means that you and the tower you’re connected to are communicating on a “first name basis.” You’re able to place calls and ping the tower at any time. So, all a fake cell tower has to do is imitate this behavior from the provider’s side and pretend to be one of your provider’s towers during the handshake. The phone will only know how to communicate with the fake tower instead of the real one.

The fake tower must also relay your phone’s signals to the real one so that it can establish a connection with the rest of the network.

If this sounds confusing, let me make it a little simpler: A fake cell tower will imitate your provider’s behavior to you, while it also imitates your behavior to the real tower that’s supposed to be transmitting your signals.

What Fake Towers Can Do

Since your phone is now “attached” to this tower, it can now record anything from metadata to the content of your actual calls. It can also be used by scammers to send falsified text messages and phone calls your way. The latter problem has already been identified in China and reported on The Verge. Someone received a text message from their bank’s phone number, but the bank did not send it. A fake tower the phone connected to had intercepted the phone’s signal to its provider and sent the message originating from the bank’s phone number.

In the US, fake towers called Stingrays are being used by unknown entities (although some are claiming it is the government). The reason why the government is a prime suspect in this case as opposed to scammers (as we have observed in China) has to do with the fact that this particular tower is an IMSI-catcher, which basically captures the information about your phone and analyzes the data it gathers. This sounds more like a wide-scale surveillance operation than a scam project.

To be clear: It’s not known to us whether the US government is actually running these towers or whether they are listening to calls. All that is known is that the towers are collecting information related to the phones themselves. Anything else said on this subject is pure speculation and shouldn’t be taken at face value until there’s evidence to support it.

How Many Are There?

I cannot necessarily speak veritably about information regarding other countries, since such information is not present at this time. However, in the United States, there may be as many as nineteen towers, as seen in this map from ESD’s CEO:

This is all the information we have, and it’s very likely that there may be other towers that remain undiscovered.

How You Can Protect Yourself

Theoretically, there is no surefire way to protect yourself against infiltration from fake cell towers. To protect yourself from scammers, simply call whatever number contacts you from a land line. If there’s a strong difference between the person who contacted you on your mobile and the person you contacted on a land line, then your cellphone is probably being commandeered by a fake tower.

If you have lots of money to shift around, you can throw it at a CryptoPhone. These phones are specifically built to deal with interception from fake towers. However, I must warn you that such an investment could prove useless if the people producing fake towers can circumvent the security measures that this phone takes.

Miguel Leiva-Gomez

Miguel has been a business growth and technology expert for more than a decade and has written software for even longer. From his little castle in Romania, he presents cold and analytical perspectives to things that affect the tech world.

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Everything You Need To Know About Neural Architecture Search

Neural architecture search is an aspect of AutoML- Here is an in-depth elaboration of the NAS system

Handcrafting neural networks to find the best performing structure has always been a tedious and time-consuming task. Besides, as humans, we naturally tend towards structures that make sense in our point of view, although the most intuitive structures are not always the most performant ones.

Walking into the Depths of Neural Architecture Search

An alternative approach to NAS is based on evolutionary algorithms, which have been employed by several groups. An Evolutionary

Reinforcement Learning

Reinforcement learning has been used successfully in driving the search process for better architectures. The ability to navigate the search space efficiently to save precious computational and memory resources is typically the major bottleneck in a NAS algorithm. Often, the models built with the sole objective of a high validation accuracy end up being high in complexity–meaning a greater number of parameters, more memory required, and higher inference times.  

Neuroevolution

Floreano et al. (2008) claim that gradient-based methods outperform evolutionary methods for the optimization of neural network weights and those evolutionary approaches should only be used to optimize the architecture itself. Besides deciding on the right genetic evolution parameters like mutation rate, death rate, etc. There’s also the need to evaluate how exactly the topologies of neural networks are represented in the genotypes used for digital evolution.  

Designing the Search Strategy

Most of the work that has gone into neural architecture search has been innovations for this part of the problem which is finding out which optimization methods work best, and how they can be changed or tweaked to make the search process churn out better results faster and with consistent stability. There have been several approaches attempted, including Bayesian optimization, reinforcement learning, neuroevolution, network morphing, and game theory.  

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Handcrafting neural networks to find the best performing structure has always been a tedious and time-consuming task. Besides, as humans, we naturally tend towards structures that make sense in our point of view, although the most intuitive structures are not always the most performant ones. Neural Architecture Search is a subfield of AutoML that aims at replacing such manual designs with something more automatic. Having a way to make neural networks design themselves would provide a significant time gain, and would let us discover novel, good performing architectures that would be more adapted to their use-case than the ones we design as humans. NAS is the process of automating architecture engineering i.e., finding the design of a machine learning model . Where it is needed to provide a NAS system with a dataset and a task (classification, regression, etc), it will come up with an architecture. And this architecture will perform best among all other architectures for that given task when trained by the dataset provided. NAS can be seen as a subfield of AutoML and has a significant overlap with hyperparameter chúng tôi alternative approach to NAS is based on evolutionary algorithms, which have been employed by several groups. An Evolutionary Algorithm for Neural Architecture Search generally performs the following procedure. First, a pool consisting of different candidate architectures along with their validation scores (fitness) is initialized. At each step, the architectures in the candidate pool are mutated (eg: 3×3 convolution instead of a 5×5 convolution). Next, the new architectures are trained from scratch for a few epochs and their validation scores are obtained. This is followed by replacing the lowest scoring architectures in the candidate pool with the better, newer architectures. This procedure is repeated multiple times and thus the candidate pool is refined over time. Mutations in the context of evolving ANNs are operations such as adding or removing a layer, which includes changing the type of a layer (e.g., from convolution to pooling), changing the hyperparameters of a layer or changing the training hyperparameters. NAS algorithms design a specific search space and hunt through the search space for better architectures. The search space for convolutional network design in the paper mentioned above can be seen in the diagram below. The algorithm would stop if the number of layers exceeded a maximum value. They also added skip connections, batch normalization, and ReLU activations to their search space in their later experiments. Similarly, they create RNN architectures by creating different recurrent cell architectures using the search space shown below. The biggest drawback of this approach was the time it took to navigate through the search space before coming up with a definite solution. They used 800 GPUs for 28 days to navigate through the entire search space before coming up with the best architecture. There was a need for a way to design controllers that could navigate the search space more intelligently.Reinforcement learning has been used successfully in driving the search process for better architectures. The ability to navigate the search space efficiently to save precious computational and memory resources is typically the major bottleneck in a NAS algorithm. Often, the models built with the sole objective of a high validation accuracy end up being high in complexity–meaning a greater number of parameters, more memory required, and higher inference times.Floreano et al. (2008) claim that gradient-based methods outperform evolutionary methods for the optimization of neural network weights and those evolutionary approaches should only be used to optimize the architecture itself. Besides deciding on the right genetic evolution parameters like mutation rate, death rate, etc. There’s also the need to evaluate how exactly the topologies of neural networks are represented in the genotypes used for digital chúng tôi of the work that has gone into neural architecture search has been innovations for this part of the problem which is finding out which optimization methods work best, and how they can be changed or tweaked to make the search process churn out better results faster and with consistent stability. There have been several approaches attempted, including Bayesian optimization, reinforcement learning, neuroevolution, network morphing, and game theory.

Everything You Need To Know About Rbi’s Kyc Guidelines

RBI updated its regulation in September for KYC and here we are answering some frequently asked questions about the process of KYC.

Answer: An individual needs to submit an identity and address proof to the respective bank with a recent photograph.

Answer: According to the Indian government, there are six documents that can be considered as ‘proof of identity’ and ‘proof of address’ which include Passport, Driving Licence, Voters’ Identity Card, PAN Card, Aadhaar Card issued by UIDAI and NREGA Job Card. Usually, these documents consist the individual’s address but, in case it is not mentioned then an additional ‘proof of address’ has to be submitted.

Question: Can anyone open a bank account without submitting the above-mentioned documents?

Answer: Yes, one can open a bank account without submitting the documents mentioned above. The individual needs to submit a recent photograph and put the signature or thumb impression in front of the bank official. Such account will be termed as ‘Small Account’.

Answer: If you open a ‘small account’ then it will have the following restrictions:

The balance cannot exceed Rs 50,000 at any point of time

The total credit within a year cannot exceed Rs 1,00,000

The total transfers and withdrawal should not exceed Rs 10,000 in a month

The account cannot accept foreign remittances

The ‘small account’ remains operational for a period of 12 months. If a customer applies for any valid documents within 12 months then this account operational validity increases to next 12 months.

Answer: Ideally no, for any normal account to be open, an individual need to submit a particular official Proof Of Identity (PoI) or the following documents:

An identity card issued by Central/State Government Departments, Statutory/Regulatory Authorities, Public Sector Undertakings, Scheduled Commercial Banks and Public Financial Institutions with person’s photograph.

Or

    2) A letter issued by a gazetted officer, with person’s photograph with duty attested

Utility Bill which includes electricity, telephone, postpaid mobile phone, piped gas, and water bill. This bill can be of any service provider and should not be older than 4 months

Municipal or property tax receipt

Bank Account or Post Office savings account statement

Pension or family Pension Payment Orders (PPOs) issued to retired employees by Government

Letter of allotment of accommodation from employer given by State or Central Government departments, statutory or regulatory bodies, scheduled commercial banks, public sector undertakings, financial institutions and listed companies. Documents provided by Government departments of foreign jurisdictions or letter issued by Foreign Embassy or Mission in India

These documents are not the only way to judge an individual’s eligibility. The final decision is in the hands of the bank to let an individual open the bank.

Question: How can I open an account if my name has been changed and I do not have any OVD with a new name?

Answer: One can submit a copy of marriage certificate issued by the state government or Gazette notification that indicates the changed name. Along with this, a document with previous name has to be presented if a person has a changed name due to marriage or otherwise.

Answer: Yes, it is mandatory for banks to classify customers into three categories – low, medium and high risk, depending on their AML risk assessment

Question: Do bank notify about risk assessment to the customers?

Answer: No, banks do not notify the customers about their risk assessment.

Answer: In this case, you might not be able to open a bank account.

Question: Is Aadhaar Card valid for opening a bank account?

Answer: Yes, Aadhaar card is now categorised under OVD for both identity and address.

Answer: No, you can provide any other OVD from the above-mentioned list.

Question: What is e-KYC? How does it work?

Answer: e-KYC is the electronic form of Know Your Customers.

e-KYC can be done for the customers who have Aadhaar numbers. For doing e-KYC service, the customers needs to authorize the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), by own consent to reveal the identity/address information through biometric authentication to the respective bank branches/business correspondent (BC).

Question: Is it mandatory to give the introduction at the time of opening an account?

Answer: No, it is not necessary.

Question: If I am staying in a Mumbai and my address states address of Jaipur then can I open the bank account in Mumbai?

Answer: Yes, you can open a bank account in Mumbai. You just need to provide a statement of your current residing address for communication purpose.

Answer: Yes, you can transfer an account from one branch to another branch of the same bank. KYC is only required if you have changed you current address. If the address on your previously submitted OVD is also changed then KYC is again required.

Question: Do I have to do KYC every time I open a different account within the same bank?

Answer: No, if you have already completed your KYC then you can open other accounts without undergoing the exercise again. But, in the case of opening a bank account in a different bank, you need to do KYC again.

Question: Which banking transactions require PAN number?

Question: Is KYC applicable for Credit/Debit cards?

Answer: There is no need for a separate KYC for debit cards, as these are issued after opening an account. For Credit/Smart Cards, KYC is mandatory in case you don’t have a bank account with the respective bank.

Question: Do I need to do KYC exercise if I need to make a remittance and I do not have a bank account?

Answer: Yes, you need to undergo KYC exercise if you want to make domestic remittances of Rs 50,000 or above.  For all foreign remittances, you need to undergo KYC.

Answer: Yes, demand draft, payment order, traveller’s cheques for below Rs 50,000 can be purchased against cash. For a bigger amount, it can be done by way of debiting the customer’s account or against cheques.

Question: Is KYC necessary while purchasing third-party products?

Answer: Yes, if a customer does not have a bank account then a proof identity and address should be produced. KYC exercise is not necessary for the bank’s own customers for third party products. But, in the case of a transaction above Rs 50,000, PAN number has to be produced. Also, the payment should be made by debit from customers’ accounts or against cheques for remittance of funds/issue of travellers’ cheques, the sale of gold/silver/platinum.

Question: What are the rules of periodic KYC and why my bank insist on doing KYC again after doing it once?

Question: What If I am unable to submit KYC documents at the time of periodic update?

Answer: If it is necessary to provide KYC documents and you are unable to provide them then the bank can close your account. Before closing, the bank may impose ‘partial freezing’. After ‘partial freezing’ you cannot debit from your account while credit will be operational. Later, even credits will be not allowed.

Question: How partial freezing is imposed?

Answer: It can be done in the following ways: –

A bank will give you three months notice before implementing partial freezing

A reminder of further three months will be sent to you

After that partial freezing will be imposed. Allowing credits and disallowing debits with the freedom of closing your account

If KYC is still not completed after six months of partial freezing then your account will be closed

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