7 Days: A week of Microsoft's new AI, Windows 10 on ARM, and Lonely Nights

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.

It's been another busy week, with all sorts of exciting news, big announcements and spicy rumors pouring in from across the tech world. If you've had a busy week too, 7 Days is here to bring you up to speed with what's been happening, just in case you missed any of the big stories.

We begin this week with PornHub. The adult website released a holiday advertisement, which is totally safe for work.

Intel might be using AMD Radeon graphics in its upcoming processors. According to the rumor, a deal may have already been signed, as the company's deal with Nvidia comes close to being expired.

Google says that it will use 100% renewable energy in 2017, attributing the achievement to lower costs of wind and solar power. This includes the firm's data centers as well as its offices.

Google's Assistant will be getting smarter. The company will be opening up the platform to third-party developers, first adding the functionality to Home and later, its Pixel devices.

The firm also released an app called Trusted Safety. The app allows users to set a "trusted" status to some contacts, which will be able to see their activities and request their location in an emergency.

Chrome 55 was released, with the notable feature of blocking Flash in favor of HTML5. If a site doesn't support HTML5, the browser will prompt the user to allow the content; however, certain websites will be exempt.

Google announced its Best of 2016 list from the Play Store. It contains the top trending apps, games, streamed songs, movies, TV shows, and books of the year.

The company will be reducing the size of app updates from the Play Store by up to 90%. Dubbed as "Bsdiff", the delta algorithm analyzes the difference between the installed components and the updated components available in the new APK, eventually delivering only this differential to the user.

It would appear that Lenovo isn't giving up on the modular concept for the Moto Z, as the company plans to release at least 12 new Moto Mods each year. It's been rumored that the company may be working on one to support Google's Tango.

It appears that Honor is working on a concept handset, which will have a curved display and a modular design. In fact, the company might be announcing the device on December 16.

But there's also some bad news to come from Honor, as the Honor 7 won't be receiving the latest version of Android, Nougat. The handset is only 17 months old, giving it a short lifespan.

Lenovo has been teasing the ZUK Edge, and it looks like the handset will arrive on December 7, although the firm isn't likely to hold an event. The device will likely use a Snapdragon 821 chipset, a 5.5-inch FHD display, 6GB RAM, and 64GB of storage.

But while Honor was announcing that it wasn't upgrading phones, Lenovo confirmed Nougat updates for the ZUK Z1 and Z2 Pro. It will begin rolling out for the ZUK Z2 Pro on January 28, but perhaps more interesting is that the Z1 is the first Snapdragon 801 device to get a Nougat update. There was no news regarding the Z2.

The HTC One M9 began receiving 7.0 Nougat this week, making the One A9 the one HTC device (pun intended) without the update. This is interesting, considering that when the company announced the A9, it said that the handset would receive Android updates within 15 days. Carrier variants of the One M9 won't receive it until 2017.

Google released its monthly Android usage statistics this week, and Nougat saw an increase of a meager 0.1%, as it's now installed on a total of 0.4% of all Google Play Android devices. 6.0 Marshmallow is still the most popular version at 26.3%, seeing a 2.3% change, but Lollipop is still the most used codename, coming in at 34% between 5.0 and 5.1, seeing a drop of 0.1%.

But while 7.0 Nougat is on such a small percentage of active devices, Google is already rolling out its next update. Version 7.1.1 is available for the Nexus 5X, 6, 6P, 9, Player, Pixel C, and General Mobile 4G.

Speaking of Android 7.1.1, Samsung has confirmed that that will be the version of the OS that ships to the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge when the firm ships Nougat. The company confirmed a Nougat update for its 2016 Galaxy A handsets as well, although it didn't specify a version.

Samsung is also killing off its TouchWiz skin of Android. Well, at least it's killing the name. It will now be known as the Samsung Experience.

The company updated its Gear S2 smartwatches this week with a "Value Pack". It brought a number of features to the device that were included in the new S3.

Image via MySmartPrice Gear

Renders appeared this week for the 2017 model of the Samsung Galaxy A3. Other than the photos, not much is known about the device.

It's another week, which means that there are more rumors regarding the Galaxy S8. To no one's surprise, the handset might be ditching its 3.5mm headphone jack, as well as the physical home button, in favor of a fingerprint scanner that's integrated into the display. It's also likely to have stereo speakers.

Oh, and speaking of Samsung doing things that are suspiciously similar to things that Apple is doing, the firm announced a new Jet Black Galaxy S7 edge that launched in select markets. Wait, sorry, the color is called Black Pearl.

And speaking of stories that continue to develop week after week, Samsung is finally breaking Galaxy Note7 devices across the world. It starts in Canada, where the firm will release an update that will keep the handset from connecting to cellular networks on December 15.

On the 19th, there will be a similar update pushed in the United States, which will also keep it from charging. Verizon immediately commented that it won't be allowing its customers to receive the update, citing the idea that customers might not be able to replace their devices during this holiday travel season, and they may need to contact people in an emergency. This statement, of course, doesn't mention the fact that you can't travel with a Note7 during the holiday travel season (at least on a plane), and that the handset very well may have caused the emergency that caused you to have to make a call.

Finally, UK users will also receive an update on the 15th, but this one will only keep the device from charging above 30%.

Nokia shed some light on its upcoming Android handsets, saying that the company won't be focusing on specs, but instead premium quality and competitive pricing. The firm also promised "design that people will immediately recognize as Nokia".

Whatsapp announced that it will be extending support for BlackBerry OS, BlackBerry 10, Nokia Series 40 and Symbian Series 60 until halfway through 2017. Windows Phone 7.x and Android 2.1/2.2 won't be so lucky.

Kantar released its monthly market share report this week, and the results are not surprising. Apple did quite well in the US, Windows phone continues to stumble, and Android remains strong.

Apple released a number of betas this week. On Monday, the company seeded iOS 10.2 beta 6, and macOS 10.12.2 Sierra and watchOS 3.1.1 beta 5. Tuesday saw tvOS 10.1 beta 5, Wednesday was iOS 10.2 beta 7, and Thursday saw the release of macOS 10.12.2 Sierra beta 6. It seems clear that Apple is gearing up for a public release of the updates, and we might even see them next week, especially since the company promised an update next week to fix bused iPhone 6s devices.

The company also activated its Single sign-on feature for iOS and tvOS, which doesn't require a software update.

According to IDC, Apple Watch sales for Q3 were down by about 2.8 million units from the same quarter last year. Tim Cook said that Watch sales are strong, which isn't entirely surprising, since the Apple Watch Series 2 only came out a few days before the end of Q3, making the quarter the one where anyone who follows Apple tells their friends not to buy an Apple Watch.

Apple Music now has 20 million paid subscribers. Moving on...

Hoping to get a pair of Apple's sweet new AirPods for Christmas? Sorry, but it looks like the company set its sights too high, and they won't launch in time. Of course, if you want the "magic" of the W1 processor, you can always purchase Beats Solo3 or PowerBeats3 headphones.

According to a new report, iTunes might get access to movies while they're still in theaters, which would be a huge differentiator for the service. It won't be cheap though, as it would likely cost $25-$50, and would be offered through the store 14 days after its theatrical release.

Microsoft released Visio Viewer for iPad this week. The app will be coming to the iPhone also, as well as other mobile platforms, such as Android and Windows 10 Mobile.

Cortana on iOS and Android finally made its way to the United Kingdom, over two years since the feature launched on Windows. The respective apps also received a fresh coat of paint.

HP's bundle of the Elite x3, Desk Dock, and Lap Dock have become a permanent fixture in the Microsoft Store, rather than a promotion. You can grab it for $1,298.

In other Microsoft Store news, the Lumia 640 XL was back in stock, after weeks of the AT&T model and months of the unlocked variant being out of stock. Within a day, the unlocked model was sold out again and after another day, they were all gone.

The story doesn't end there, as the AT&T model showed up again the next day, and was sold out 12 hours later. So what's the device's current status? You guessed it. The 21-month-old handset is currently available to order for $99. If you want one, you should probably get it while you can.

Microsoft cut the price of the Surface Book by up to $250. In fact, if you caught it in time, you could get a similar deal on a Surface Pro 4, but that was part of the company's 12 Days of Deals.

In perhaps this week's most interesting news, Microsoft held its WinHEC conference in China and announced that full Windows 10 will be able to run on ARM processors. While the company demoed Photoshop running on a device with a Snapdragon 820 and 4GB of RAM, don't expect to see it until late next year on new hardware that's powered by Qualcomm's upcoming Snapdragon 835.

We also learned a bit more about the Snapdragon 835, as the Adreno 540 - which is likely to be the GPU in the chipset - showed up on GFXBench. It seems that the CPU will in fact include eight Kryo 200 cores.

Also at the event, the company announced Project Evo, which includes a number of AI and mixed reality efforts. It will include far-field speech communication, which will allow Cortana to directly compete with Amazon's Echo and Google's Home. Devices featuring Evo will be available by this time next year.

The firm also confirmed that HoloLens will be coming to China next year, having already submitted it for government approval. Windows Holographic headsets will also work with Windows 10 PCs next year, and Microsoft announced the minimum hardware requirements for that.

If you want to check out Microsoft's WinHEC keynote, it's available now.

The company outlined its event lineup for 2017, announcing that its Build 2017 developer conference will be held in Seattle between May 10-12. World Partner Conference will now be known as Inspire and will be held from July 9-13 in Washington, D.C., and Envision will now be folded into Ignite.

Microsoft's $26.2 billion acquisition of LinkedIn was approved by the European Commission, so CEO Satya Nadella finally noted some specific plans for the service, which include LinkedIn notifications in the Windows 10 Action Center. In other words, welcome to hell.

The company announced Zo, which is the successor to its failed Tay AI. Zo should have some advanced features that Tay didn't, such as the ability to not become a racist psychopath.

Microsoft released its weekly Fast ring build, which was 14986; however, it was for PCs only. It contains quite a few new features, as well as a long list of fixes, improvements, and known issues. There was a separate list of features for Asian users, as well as improvements to the Edge browser.

Some Insiders reported problems with downloading the build, but luckily, there's a workaround.

Speaking of the Creators Update though, the firm outlined a number of features that are coming for IT pros, most of which have been announced already.

Microsoft released a new cumulative update for PCs, bringing the build number to 14393.479. It was actually really strange, as it happened before Redmond business hours, the company never really acknowledged it, and the only changelog was posted on Reddit, rather than the Windows 10 Update History site.

The Surface Pro 4 received a minor firmware update this week. It was just fixes for the audio driver, which should include Cortana improvements.

It's also around that time of the month where the company releases its Office Insider builds. While all of the updates contained mostly minor new features, there were new builds for macOS, Android, and the Office Mobile apps on Windows 10.

Microsoft's UWP Skype Preview app received a significant update, which includes support for its Translator feature. Skype Translator supports 10 languages for voice calls, and 60 for instant messaging. The update also adds the ability to share video messages, and more.

The company finally added back support for music videos in Groove on the Xbox One. Microsoft would later announce that the feature was available for Windows Insiders, and then said it was a mistake. Movies + TV was actually updated for PCs, although like the Groove update, it was initially posted to the Feedback Hub with an Xbox changelog.

But that's not all of the app updates that Insiders on the Fast ring got. Sticky Notes has a couple new features and fixes, and there's a new app called View 3D Preview, which is meant to allow you to open 3D models.

It's the holiday season, which means that there are Xbox One deals going on. If you purchase a select Surface Book or Pro 4 model in the UK, you can get an Xbox One S for free. If you're in the US though, you can get a free Wireless Controller with the purchase of the console.

Microsoft added three more titles to the list of Xbox 360 games that are backward compatible with the Xbox One, hitting a major milestone. The list now supports 300 games.

Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite will be coming to PS4, Xbox One, and PC. You can expect the game to launch in 2017.

Sony has now sold over 50 million PlayStation 4 consoles, with 10 million of them being sold in the last six months. This all happened despite the Xbox One outselling it for four months in a row. If you want to buy one, you can get some solid deals this holiday season, as the Uncharted 4 bundle is just $249.99 until Christmas Eve.

Nintendo shed a bit of light on why the Switch has its name. There are two reasons: it will switch seamlessly from being played on a TV to handheld, and it's meant to switch the way people consume their entertainment.

Amazon announced Snowmobile, which is quite literally a truck that will drive your data to the cloud. It has a datacenter inside of it that can hold up to 100 petabytes, making it actually the fastest way to move that much data.

Amazon announced Go, its first market. Since pretty much everyone hates having to deal with cashiers, at Amazon Go, you won't have to. You just walk in with your phone that has the app on it, take what you want, and go.

After finally launching family plans in the US for Music Unlimited a few weeks ago, Amazon has finally launched them in the UK. Users can sign up for £15-per-month or £149 annually.

Bluetooth 5.0 launched this week, which has four times the range of previous version, twice the data transfer speed and supports up to eight times the amount of data in broadcast messages. You can expect devices to begin shipping with the technology in 2017.

Finally, Fitbit acquired some of Pebbles assets, including key personnel and intellectual property "related to software and firmware development". Existing Pebble devices will continue to work "for now", and anyone that has backed future products will be refunded.

You might say that Pebble is...

(•_•)

( •_•)>⌐■-■

(⌐■_■)

...out of time.


Global giveaway!

There’s still time for you to enter our latest giveaway… but you’ll have to be quick!

In the second of our festive giveaways, we're offering our readers around the world the chance to win a Huawei Honor 8 and a massive 128GB SanDisk Ultra Class 10 microSDXC card!

There are loads of ways for you to enter the contest, so head over to the giveaway page... and good luck! :-)​


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.

Timi Cantisano reviewed the Pixel XL this week. He found that while it's a good phone with decent battery life and a great camera, it's missing a few features and it doesn't quite live up to the hype.

Christopher White spent some time with the HP Elite x2, publishing his review just today. From his experience, the device performs well, the keyboard is good for typing, and it gets above average battery life. The main drawback was that the keyboard connects a bit too slowly.

We recently published our review of the Android version of the Yoga Book, but now it's time for the Windows model. I found that the device really excels when it comes to pen features like Windows Ink and using it as a tablet, but for a 2-in-1, the keyboard is lacking.


Stay tuned to Neowin in the days ahead for what’s sure to be another exciting week, filled with official news, lots of updates, and plenty of insights from around the world of technology.

For now, though, there’s lots more to read across the site – including all sorts of interesting discussions over on our forums.

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