Devices | How To | Tech and Innovation |

How to take incredible portrait photos with Google’s Pixel 6 Pro

By Tommy Kuo December 16, 2021

They say that the best camera you have is the one you have on you, and with modern smartphones improving year on year, there are even more photography technologies available in our latest devices.

I took the new Google Pixel 6 Pro out for a spin, shooting some everyday photos of a friend to find out if Google’s latest Pixel lives up to the hype.

The new Pixel 6 Pro

Google have really taken their photography up a notch with their camera. With the some of the best computational photography technology in the game and new pro-level lenses, it means you get the best of both worlds in terms of photography software and hardware on a smartphone.

The back of the device hosts 3 lenses, firstly the 50 MP wide (f/1.85 aperture) for everyday shots, allowing big prints and letting in plenty of light. Secondly, a 48 MP telephoto (f/3.5 aperture) for shots of subjects further away (that’s a lot of megapixels!). And a 12 MP ultrawide (f/2.2 aperture) for those wider lens needs.

All of them are sharp, clean and bright. Everything you expect from a high quality lens. Also, the Pixel 6 Pro makes leaps of improvements from their previous Pixel 5, in fact the Pixel 6 Pro captures 150% more light thanks to its new larger main sensor. This helps with any low light/night photography, which is handy more often than you think.

The Pixel 6 Pro also allows you to capture 4x optical zoom, retaining all of that image information optically, versus digitally. While all those upgrades are awesome to have, you’ll get way more out of the Pixel 6 if you know how to make the most of it with a few photography basics.

4 tips for incredible portrait photos

Tip 1 – Take lots of photos! While you’re framing your shot with your device, it is ideal to take multiple shots of the same ‘framing’. This is because there are small details within the environment or about the subject you might not notice, including the way hair flies, the subject’s facial expression, moving objects in the background, and also slight changes in positioning. By capturing more shots rather than less, you will have more options in your Gallery to select as your perfect shot.

Tip 2 – Shoot motion. Whether it’s a hand adjusting hair, walking on the street, or hair flying in the wind, photos that freeze a frame in motion just seem to feel more natural. I like to give directions to my subject to perform small, repeatable actions or gestures that I can capture to make a shot feel authentic and natural.

Tip 3 – Framing your shot. When I was shooting with the Pixel 6 Pro, I used the guidelines feature in the settings to help frame my shot. Below this is a demo of how I use it. It’s pretty simple. I like to use the guides to help frame my half-body shot starting with the vertical axis, approximately two-thirds of the portrait subject (person) and one-third environment. Then looking horizontally depending on how they are angled, generally, keep the subjects face close to the centre grid space. Below you can see I had my subject’s body on an angle. Since she’s on an angle, I found it optically balanced to keep her face in the top left side of the centre grid.

Tip 4 – Make use of shadows. I love to shoot in places where there’s a mix of sun and shadow in the same spot. Shadows can play a big role in contouring the face, softening the lighting and also providing interesting shapes to work with in your photo. Below is an example of how shadows can be used on the wall to make interesting patterns and shapes with the leaves, and also spotted lighting on her hair and face for more artistic effect! Gotta love shadows.

Making the most of the Pixel 6 Pro

To my surprise, I also really enjoyed using Portrait Mode Blur when editing my photos. The technology has come a long way to make depth of field look very convincing, especially when used subtly and sparingly. This is a great way to bring out your subject in your photo.

Skin tones is another thing that I see a lot of smartphones struggle with. However on the Pixel 6 Pro, skin tone is captured very authentically. Google have really prioritised accurate representation of all skin tones for this device, and that is something that I love to see.

One of the real things that I love about the Pixel 6 Pro though is how advanced their editing technology is for photography. Take the Magic Eraser tool for example, with it I’m able to use AI technology to remove any unwanted objects or photo bombers from my photo.

I loved using the Google Pixel 6 Pro! Not only is it a great smartphone for everyday use, I also found the camera capabilities and technology to be perfect for how I like to capture life day to day.

Entertainment |

Forza Horizon 5: tips for getting started

By Luke Hopewell November 16, 2021

Horizon Festival is back on, this time in glorious Mexico. Forza Horizon 5 is here. Before you hop in the driver’s seat, here’s what you need to know.

What is Forza Horizon 5?

Forza Horizon 5 is the latest driving adventure game from Playground Games. Horizon bucks the format of traditional track-based Forza games and takes you on an adventure to a foreign land under the guise of the “Horizon Festival”.

Horizon Festival is a series of driving events around a single country, all in different modes and stages. Sometimes you might be jumping a car a few hundred metres for a fictional photoshoot; other times you’re pushing a rally car to the ragged edge. It’s Carchella, this time set in Mexico.

The developers have cobbled together the best parts of Mexico for you to drive around, with the latest iteration of Horizon featuring a massive active volcano you can scale.

Forza Horizon 5 is available day one on Xbox Games Pass Ultimate, which you can get your hands on with Xbox All Access from Telstra.

Tips for getting started in Forza Horizon 5

Here’s what we wish we knew before we started.

Get your settings right

The initial setup gives you the opportunity to tweak really fine settings about how you can drive in Horizon. Whenever I get into a new game I always skip this step, but taking a bit of extra time for the sake of preparedness is going to put you in good stead for Horizon.

The tutorial is incredibly low-impact and really fun to fly through, too. With each mini-race ahead of the Horizon Festival getting underway, you can tweak and tune your settings to make sure you’re getting the most out of your chosen controller.

Drive a test race, tweak some more, drive another, make sure you’re getting the most out of your car to help unlock those crucial podium finishes.

Get to know the cars

There are a lot of cars in Forza Horizon 5. Like, a LOT.

There are five hundred cars in Forza Horizon 5, from rally cars to classics; EVs to hypercars. And there’s likely more to be added

It’s worth taking a look at the Forza Horizon 5 car list to really get to know what’s on offer.

By also taking a look at the price list, you can set a goal of which cars you want to acquire first. I’m the proud owner of a rose gold Porsche Taycan Turbo S as my first treat to myself, and boy does it move. Is it a common car? Yes, but it also has huge acceleration and an AWD system, so it’s great for getting around the map.

Each car is also suited for different races. Just because your Ferrari goes vrroom doesn’t mean you should use it for every race. Sometimes a Ford Focus RS will do the job even better!

Level up and spin your wheels

Levelling up not only gets you cred (shoutout to the Level 137 friend I see driving around), but also nabs you Wheelspins for in-game rewards.

Some rewards like Forza-exclusive legendary car builds are only available to be won, and not purchased. So making sure you’re spinning that wheel as much as possible is of huge benefit!

There are a tonne of ways to level up in Horizon, and not all of them involve placing first in races. You can set your map to only highlight XP bonus boards that can be smashed for additional points, or you can use your skill points that you pick up to nab additional XP or another free Wheelspin!

Customise, customise, customise

Fancy blowing up your entire car to customise every single panel? You got it.

What about fine tuning every single moving part before a race? Done and done.

The number of cars in Horizon 5 is eclipsed only by the number of customisable options.

You can even make a name for yourself in the Forza Horizon modding community by designing your own wraps and decals that other players can download.

Shoutout to the Aussie (clearly) who created the Bunnings Warehouse wrap for the HSV Maloo. Have fun getting that song out of your head all day.

Getting real with real estate

Don’t do what I did and put off visiting houses in Forza Horizon 5.

Each house gives you a unique ability, like periodic skill point boosters via the in-game radio stations.

Truly the best unlock, however, is the $2m house that unlocks free fast travel across the map. A great investment if – like me – you don’t have as much time to pour into Horizon as you’d like.

Go mobile with Xbox Cloud Gaming (Beta)

We’ve been talking a lot about great new games on Xbox Cloud Gaming (Beta) recently, but Forza Horizon 5 is probably the title that shows it off best.

With Xbox All Access from Telstra, you can use Cloud Gaming (Beta) to load up Forza Horizon 5 on the go.

Horizon translates beautifully onto a mobile platform, and really shines on your big-screened, Telstra 5G-capable smartphone.

Someone in our team has been burning rubber on the go via their Samsung Galaxy ZFold 3 and it’s a revelation!

We’ve got a look at some of the best accessories for cloud gaming on the go on Telstra Exchange!

How To |

A timeline for small businesses to prepare for disasters

By Anne Da Cunha October 26, 2021

If you’re a small business owner and an emergency alert for fires, floods or a cyclone goes out, one of your first thoughts is probably how you’re going to keep the lights on and the payments flowing. Here’s how you can prepare your business to stay open – and protect your livelihood – no matter how early or late you start.

Depending on where you are, it’s important to note that many of these disasters are a matter of when – not if. So it’s vital you start planning for a disaster as early as possible.

Whether you’re well prepared or are more likely to act at the last minute, we’ve got a disaster preparedness checklist for you. This is just a guide though – for a full disaster preparedness checklist, take a look at one prepared by your State Emergency Service like this one from NSW.

First things first

Before you get started on your disaster prep, there’s an important thing most businesses can do to get ready. It’s all about getting online and going digital.

We saw during COVID that those who were well-established online before lockdowns hit – or were able to quickly pivot – were well placed to weather the disruption. The same goes for businesses who’ve been affected by severe weather events. We would encourage all businesses to digitise their business so they already have an online presence far ahead of disaster season to ensure business continuity.

That way, even if they can’t open their physical doors, they can still keep their digital doors open and continue to operate, support their customers and drive income.

We understand that knowing where to start can be difficult for time-poor small businesses, which is why we have services that can help.

Until the end of 2021, we’re offering businesses Go Digital consultations for free (normally $149).

The new service (RRP$149) helps businesses to get and be their best online through a consultation with a Telstra Small Business Expert. The consultation covers a review of your existing and potential, digital touchpoints and advice on how to best start or enhance your digital operations – from online marketing and cyber security, to e-commerce and employee engagement. Our experts will identify gaps, vulnerabilities, and opportunities, and then help equip your business with a tailored report and roadmap to go digital.

The Go Digital Consult also unlocks a host of exclusive offers with Telstra’s extensive partner network which also provides SMB support, including Small Business Australia, Samsung, Cisco, Spotzer, Facebook and Microsoft.

Not every business will be able to move fully online, but taking a step back to look at your operations allows you to see what could potentially go online ahead of a disaster to support the continued operation of your business, as well as enhance your businesses growth into the future.

Five weeks out

If you’re prepared, you can take appropriate steps to ensure business continuity in the face of disaster.

Get to know your EFTPOS terminal

EFTPOS is the preferred method of payment for most customers. As part of business continuity planning, take the time to ensure your EFTPOS terminals are configured to use alternative connectivity in the event of a service disruption.

EFTPOS terminals can be impacted by mobile network outages and power outages, with differing scenarios depending on exactly what occurs.

In the case of a power outage, EFTPOS terminals will not work unless they have a back-up source of power. Where EFTPOS terminals can access back-up power, they’ll be able to continue operating as normal if the mobile network is still operating, but if the mobile network is also impacted only terminals that have electronic fallback or use a Telstra enterprise satellite product will be able to continue operating.

In the case of a mobile network outage, where power otherwise remains available:

  • Terminals with wireless and Wi-Fi/ethernet capabilities will be able to toggle between the two connectivity options and should switch automatically to a Wi-Fi/ethernet connection where one is available.
  • Terminals with dual SIMs will be able to toggle between different mobile networks, provided they have SIM cards from different mobile network operators inserted.
  • Terminals with electronic fallback options will be able to continue processing transactions within certain payment limits, despite there being no mobile connectivity.
  • Planning ahead helps – outages are inevitable, both planned and unplanned, and preparing ensures your business keeps on running smoothly.

By knowing your terminal, you may be able to connect it to another WiFi network should you find one at your next temporary place of business.

Consider a satellite phone or repeater device

Sometimes in a disaster, the traditional communications network can go out in your area due to infrastructure being affected.

If you absolutely need to stay in touch to get your business going, you might consider a satellite phone.

It’s worth pointing out, however, that satellite connectivity also has vulnerabilities. Signals can be affected by heavy clouds or storms and satellite dishes can be damaged by cyclones and bushfires.

Alternatively, you can also take a look at our range of repeaters and extenders to see if one suits your needs. Legal network coverage extension devices amplify the existing network signal your mobile device receives, which extends the area that your device can work in. These devices can help you connect to the Telstra mobile network from further away than normally possible, or in areas where a signal may struggle to penetrate – such as indoors, or in hilly or dense terrain.

It’s important to note that boosters are illegal to own or operate on any network in Australia, and they can disrupt or even prevent others from making calls to emergency 000.

Five days out

You know there’s potential disaster conditions forecast this week, so now is the time to get your business in order. Check out some of the above steps too if you have extra time.

Back up your data

Store your important data, like contact information, registration and financial/payroll information, in the cloud using an online service.

Get a corded phone

A cordless fixed line phone is convenient, but remember, most cordless phones rely on electric power to operate, so you may lose the use of your landline during a power outage. A corded phone draws its electricity directly from the phone line (excluding fixed line phones on nbn) and can be used during a power outage.

It’s important to remember that since the nbn provides your business line, it will be unavailable during a power outage. It’s best to have a mobile phone or satellite phone handy for this instance, especially in remote areas.

Invest in an alternative charger

If you don’t already have one, purchase a phone charger that isn’t dependent on a power outlet. A popular choice is a ‘power bank’ battery pack that can be charged from a power outlet prior to an event and used if grid electricity is unavailable, or a portable solar panel charger or in-car charger.

Five hours out

If you just received an emergency alert and you’ve only got hours to prepare, you can still take steps to make sure your business stays online.

Gear up

Ensuring business continuity when you have limited time is about making sure you have the absolute basics to get back on your feet. You won’t be able to pack everything, but you can grab the essential gear.

Anything with crucial business data on it that can’t be backed up in a hurry should be secured or stowed with you – provided it’s safe to do so. That means hard drives or whole desktop computers. You likely won’t have time for anything else.

Charge your phone. Right now.

Every second matters when you need power. Anyone looking to charge their phone before heading out of the house knows this. And if you got a text recommending evacuation, you might not know when you’ll be near a working power point again.

Charge your phone on the highest wattage charger you can find nearby for as long as you can. Don’t forget to turn it on loud while you do this so you can hear calls and messages come through.

When you’re ready to leave, take the phone and the charger. You might not be able to find another one of these in a hurry if you’re evacuated.

Use local information sources

Online, social media accounts for your local authorities and emergency services will share crucial information. Your local broadcaster will also share information over the radio – make sure you have a battery-powered radio or car radio to listen in on.

Below we’ve provided a short list of some official information sources from various federal, state and territory governments that you should read if you’re preparing yourself and your business against disaster.

Government agencies for emergency response information:

Other critical information websites:

Confused man looking at phone
Cyber Security |

The FluBot SMS cyber attack continues to evolve

By Darren Pauli October 15, 2021

Criminals behind the prolific FluBot SMS-based cyber attack sweeping Australia and the world have flipped their scam on its head – they’re now telling potential victims they need to install a ‘security update’ to remove an existing FluBot infection. The ‘security update’ actually contains FluBot.

The latest trick showcases the criminals’ willingness to experiment with new scams (known as a pretext) in a bid to increase infections as news of the cyber attacks spread.

A sample of the new message being sent to users, which erroneously says they're infected with FluBot in a bid to install FluBot.
A sample of the new message being sent to users, which erroneously says they’re infected with FluBot in a bid to install FluBot.

We warned of FluBot in August as reports of strange, often garbled “missed call” messages began to hit people’s SMS inboxes.

FluBot is malware – like a computer virus – that can be installed on your Android device if you click on a malicious link in a SMS message. This malware then sends many similar text messages to other people from your phone without your knowledge, potentially infecting them.

The malware requests high levels of access to a victim’s phone in order to steal data and proliferate to other devices. Modern Android phones will provide owners with warnings about the access an app is requesting, but this may be of little protection to those who believe they are installing a legitimate app.

The scam is thought to have begun in Italy before spreading around Europe and then coming to Australia. The attacks are independent of carriers and can potentially affect everyone.

Currently, the FluBot “bait” messages you’re likely to receive suggest you have an unchecked voicemail as a way to get you to click the link. The message content can change, however, as we’ve seen from the messages claiming to help with an existing Flubot infection.

It has also in recent weeks claimed the recipient has missed a parcel and that Australia Post deliveries have been stalled amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

If you click on the link, the FluBot malware authors will attempt to trick you into installing the virus by deactivating some security settings on your device. FluBot webpages you click may ask you to allow the installation of “unknown apps”, which is restricted by default to stop malware like FluBot.

Android devices typically don’t allow unknown apps (that is, apps not from the Google Play Store) to be installed by default. FluBot cannot be installed if the installation of unknown apps is left as its default setting of denied. We strongly recommend you leave this setting as denied.

FluBot also cannot, to date, be installed on iOS devices like iPhones and iPads.

Infected Android phones should be factory reset after important data like photos and phone contacts are backed up. Make sure you restore from a backup that was taken before you were infected with FluBot, otherwise you may risk reinfecting yourself.

If you don’t regularly back up your device, now is the time to start!

The evolution of the FluBot scam reinforces our continued message that the public is best placed to beat scams by being sceptical of all unexpected communications, regardless of the message, the sender, and the medium on which it was sent – be it email, SMS, chat message, or a phone call.

Telstra and our industry peers are continually examining ways to combat sophisticated threats such as Flubot.

You can report a scam to Telstra using our website. If you want to learn more, we also have more cyber safety advice on our website.

How you can tell if you are infected with FluBot

If you have clicked one of these links, you may be infected with FluBot already. The malware sits on your phone and intercepts passwords and other login details, while simultaneously sending out messages to your contacts to encourage them to install it too.

You can tell if you have FluBot in a few ways. Your phone may warn you it is sending a large number of text messages, and you are also likely to receive SMS messages from mobile numbers that have received FluBot links sent from your device. Customers of Telstra will also receive a message from us warning of a likely FluBot infection.

Finally, you may notice an app called ‘Voicemail’ bearing an icon of a blue cassette in a yellow envelope on your device. Please bear in mind the name and icon of this app could change anytime.

What we’re doing about it

Connected technologies increasingly sit at the very heart of the lives of most Australians. But as we move more rapidly to a digital economy, we need to be more and more cognisant of the growing cyber risks and those who seek to do us harm online.

We get that scams like FluBot are annoying, and we’re working to make the internet a safer place for our customers through our Cleaner Pipes initiative.

Cleaner Pipes includes a range of existing work designed to help keep our users safe from malicious activity online. We also recently announced we’re blocking around 13 million scam calls, on average, from being delivered every month.

Alongside Cleaner Pipes, we’re actively working to help people who have inadvertently been infected with FluBot. We identify compromised users based on the distinctive nature of the FluBot malware and notify those affected as to how they can fix their infected devices.

For those close to home, our free Broadband Protect service also helps safeguard you and the devices connected to your home network from accessing many known dangerous websites. Our data shows that Broadband Protect blocks, on average, around 2.5 million malicious websites per hour.

For even more online protection when you’re out and about, our Device Protect product helps safeguard your mobile, tablet or laptop, keeping users from falling foul of scammers that want to do you harm.

Devices | How To |

How to block your number and caller ID on your phone

By Campbell Simpson August 2, 2021

There are plenty of legitimate reasons that you might want to temporarily or permanently block your caller ID so that your phone number is not displayed to whoever you’re calling. Here’s how to do that on your home phone or mobile phone.

Change your caller ID on a home phone

To block your number on a call by call basis when you’re making a call from your home phone service, first dial 1 8 3 1 and then dial the number that you want to call. When you do this, your caller ID won’t be displayed.

You can find out more of the features that your home phone service is capable of, like Call Waiting and Call Return, at our Home Phone Features page.

If you wish to block your caller ID on a permanent basis, we call this an ‘unlisted service’; you can enable this feature in My Telstra – a guide on how to do so can be found on our Silent Line page.

Change your caller ID on an Android phone

Blocking your caller ID on an Android phone varies depending on what device you’re using, but the below is a general guide – it will work on most current Android phones including Google’s Pixel range.

  1. Open the Phone app
  2. Tap the three dots to open the menu, then tap ‘Settings’
  3. Tap ‘Calls’
  4. Tap ‘Additional settings’
  5. Tap ‘Caller ID’, then select whether you want to hide or show your number when calling.

To check the network default setting, dial * # 3 1 # in the Phone app and tap the call button – you’ll then see a pop-up message that tells you whether your caller ID is restricted or unrestricted by your mobile provider.

Change your caller ID on an iPhone

Blocking your number on an iPhone is quite straightforward – there’s only one setting that you need to change to decide whether you want your caller ID displayed when you’re making a phone call.

  1. Open the Settings app
  2. Tap ‘Phone’
  3. Tap ‘Show my Caller ID’ to switch between displaying or hiding your caller ID every time you call.

To check the network default setting, dial * # 3 1 # in the Phone app and tap the call button – you’ll then see a pop-up message that tells you whether your caller ID is restricted or unrestricted by your mobile provider.