7 Days: A week of Android flagships, Surface tension, and Windows updates

7 Days is a weekly roundup of the Editors' picks of what's been happening in the world of technology - written with a dash of humor, a hint of exasperation, and an endless supply of (Irish) coffee.

We made it through another week! And it’s been quite an exciting one too, with big announcements, spicy rumors, and some eyebrow-raising moments. As ever, 7 Days is here to make sure you know what’s been going on, with a handy briefing of the week’s top tech news.

Watch out

Disney announced that it's pulling its movies from Netflix, as it plans to launch its own streaming service next year - but Netflix is still hoping it can retain the rights to continue offering the Star Wars and Marvel film series.

Meanwhile, Facebook announced Watch, its new video content platform that no-one asked for.

Watch outed

Fitbit's new smartwatch was unofficially revealed in leaked images on Thursday, and its design looks rather familiar. Fitbit has previously confirmed that the device will offer "multi-day battery life", and water-resistance up to 50 meters.

Intel info

Intel revealed the full specs of its monstrous new Core X-series processors, and said that its 18-core range-topper will be available next month. It also said that it will officially unveil its eighth-generation Core processors, codenamed 'Coffee Lake', on August 21.

Intel finalized its acquisition of autonomous car technology specialist Mobileye on Thursday, and said that it's preparing to build a fleet of 100 self-driving vehicles.

Fruity bits

Apple's next iPhone keeps popping up in various images, but on Friday, a 'dummy' model of the new handset appeared in a video, clearly showing its exterior design.

Apple's own firmware for its upcoming HomePod speaker apparently confirmed a new Apple TV model with support for both Dolby Vision and HDR10.

And it seems that Apple employees are less than pleased with the company's vast new headquarters, known as Apple Park. Some staff, including executives, are reportedly unhappy with the open-plan layout of its offices.

Google responds

The author of the controversial 'anti-diversity' memo, which referred to women as being inherently inferior to men, was fired by Google earlier this week, after the company's CEO, Sundar Pichai, denounced the document.

Android things

Google released a new Developer Preview for Android Things, its IoT platform, bringing a welcome upgrade to the next major version of the OS, Android O. It also published its latest monthly Android security update, rolling out new OTA and system images for Pixel and Nexus devices, as well as releasing new figures showing the usage of each version of Android. According to that data, the latest version of the OS, 7.1, is on just 1.2% of Android devices, ten months after its release.

With new models of its flagship phones on the way, Google is now offering chunky discounts on its Pixel and Pixel XL, including a free Daydream View VR headset too.

LG's new V30 flagship made an unexpected appearance in a series of videos this week, before the company confirmed that it will be officially unveiled on August 31. LG also released the unlocked version of its rugged 'X venture' handset in the US, priced under $300.

On Monday, Samsung announced its new rugged flagship, the Galaxy S8 Active, which will launch exclusively on AT&T for a limited time.

OnePlus released a new limited edition 'Soft Gold' model of its 5 flagship on Monday too. It also confirmed that the upcoming Android O update will be the last major update for its 3 and 3T handsets.

Two and a half years after its predecessor was originally announced, leaked images apparently revealed the new Yota 3. Like the previous YotaPhone 2, it will feature a secondary e-ink display on the rear of the device.

And ahead of its expected launch event later this month, Asus accidentally revealed its new ZenFone 4 handsets on its online store. Oops.

Lenovo letdown

After announcing plans to ditch its custom user interface on future phones, Lenovo launched its new K8 Note this week with stock Android onboard.

But Lenovo also confirmed that its Phab 2 Pro - the first consumer phone to support Google's Tango augmented reality platform - won't be upgraded to Android 7.0. Despite having been launched less than a year ago, the device will remain stuck on Android 6.0 Marshmallow.

Effectively abandoning a device just nine months after its launch is appalling.

Windows phones (yep, they’re still a thing)

Following an unexplained delay last month, Alcatel's new Windows 10 Mobile flagship launched in the UK on Monday. The device was originally released in the US under a different name last year.

After months of unpredictable price increases and reductions on its Elite x3, it appeared that HP had permanently cut the price of the handset to £549 earlier this week. A few days later, HP increased its price by 23%. Given that it originally announced the Elite x3 a year and a half ago, the current cost of the device is absurd.

Meanwhile, another nail was driven into the coffin of Windows phones by EA, which announced the end of its support for FIFA Mobile on those devices.

Windows updates

Microsoft rolled out a new Windows 10 Mobile preview, build 15240, to the Fast ring on Thursday. There's not much to get excited about in there, unless you really like emoji.

Windows Server Insider Preview build 16257 arrived with some new features too, along with various known issues to be aware of.

Microsoft didn't release a new Windows 10 preview for PCs this week, but it did make ISOs available for build 16251, as well as SDK Preview build 16257 and Mobile Emulator build 15235.

For those not on the Insider Program, Microsoft also issued new cumulative updates for all Windows 10 versions, along with Patch Tuesday updates for Windows 7 and 8.1.

Windows for workstations

On Thursday, Microsoft announced Windows 10 Pro for Workstations, a "high-end edition of Windows 10 Pro" designed for power users and high-performance PCs. It will launch as part of the Fall Creators Update, and according to Microsoft, it was developed with "valuable feedback" from those on the Windows Insider Program.

Kaspersky vs Microsoft

In June, Kaspersky filed an antitrust complaint against Microsoft, claiming that the company had disabled its antivirus software on Windows 10. This week, Kaspersky dropped its complaint, after Microsoft agreed to make changes to its OS, to improve how it handles third-party antivirus programs.

Surface tension

In an unexpected development, independent US product review journal Consumer Reports withdrew its coveted 'recommended' status for all of Microsoft's Surface devices, due to poor reliability. Following a survey of 90,000 people, it said that an estimated 25% of Surface owners would experience problems with their devices by the second year of ownership.

Unsurprisingly, Microsoft rejected the findings of the survey, saying: "We stand behind Surface."

A fresh Outlook

Microsoft announced a range of improvements coming to Outlook.com, launching a beta program for users to test its new design. It promises faster performance, new 'smart inbox' features, and enhanced emoji and GIF support, with more improvements to come.

Officially, Microsoft is gradually expanding availability of the beta - but you can try it out right now without waiting.

Xpotify

After news of its development emerged last week, Spotify launched on the Xbox One on Tuesday. The app is available for free and premium Spotify customers and comes with Spotify Connect.

Fall comes to Xbox

Microsoft announced details of its next major update for the Xbox One console family, which will bring a range of new features, including an overhauled user interface. The first preview build has already rolled out to the Alpha ring - make sure you check out our hands-on video to find out more.

On Wednesday, Microsoft announced a restructuring of its Xbox Insider Program, including the renaming of Ring 3 and Ring 4 to the Delta and Omega rings, respectively.

Game on

Back in March, Microsoft announced the Xbox Live Creators Program, opening up the Xbox One to anyone that wants to develop a game for the console. Following a brief preview phase, the first games to be released through the program are now available to everyone.

Microsoft added another four Xbox 360 games to the list of those playable on the Xbox One through its Backward Compatibility program, including Batman: Arkham Origins.

Last week, Microsoft announced a new, smaller version of its Xbox Wireless Adapter for Windows 10 PCs. It was originally due for release in the US on Tuesday - but bizarrely, and without explanation, Microsoft has now pushed back its US launch until 2018.

If you're looking forward to the launch of the new Xbox One X, you may be interested in comments made by the studio behind Project Cars 2. Slightly Mad Studios' Stephen Viljoen said that the game will look 'significantly' better on Microsoft's upcoming console compared with Sony's PlayStation 4 Pro.

A major update was revealed for No Man's Sky, bringing story improvements, and the ability to quickly travel between locations through portals. It also introduces multiplayer functionality, a year after the game's release.

A new update is also heading to Dota 2; called The Dueling Fates, it will bring two new heroes to the game. That announcement came at The International, Valve's annual Dota 2 tournament, where the world's best players were defeated by a bot.

Bethesda announced the Fallout 4 Game of the Year edition, coming next month, with all official DLCs and add-ons. The company will also release a limited number of Pip Boy devices, priced at $99.99.

Nintendo revealed that the long-anticipated remake of Metroid 2, titled Metroid: Samus Returns, will be released on September 15th, along with a new Metroid-themed limited edition 3DS XL.

…and finally

Alibaba is going to start selling luxury cars from a vending machine in China.

And OnePlus is promoting the capabilities of its latest flagship phone's camera with a chainsaw massacre.

Good grief.


Bonus content

Before we wrap things up for another week, let me first highlight a few extra bits around the site that I hope you’ll enjoy reading.

Banish those memories of bland, beige Windows desktop boxes from yesteryear. I took a closer look at Windows 10's vast hardware ecosystem, from tiny, low-power PCs, to mighty gaming machines, and smart home devices.

There are some rather surprising Windows 10 devices out there!

It's back to school season, which means that it's time to break out your wallet for the student in your life. Rich Woods put together a handy shopping guide, featuring some great products for students on a range of budgets.

Usama Jawad shared his thoughts on Sony's approach to the gaming market. In an editorial, he argued that Sony's PlayStation strategy needs to focus more on gamers, rather than solely on its business.

Usama also published his review of Batman: The Enemy Within - The Enigma, the latest release from Telltale Games. To put it simply, he loved it - make sure you read the review to find out why!

Usama has been pretty busy lately! He also shared his review of Halcyon 6: Lightspeed Edition, a turn-based strategy game that's fun to play, bears a striking resemblance to XCOM, and features exhilarating battles in space.

And Vishal Laul reviewed Fictorum, describing it as "a game that does justice to wizardkind". It sounds like there's plenty to like about it - but there's clearly room for improvement too. Check out the full Fictorum review here.


Don't forget, we've got an awesome community of readers around the world, sharing in all sorts of other discussions over on our forums. And if you're not yet a member, you can register now - it's free, quick and easy to sign up!

From all of us
on the Neowin team,
have a great weekend!

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