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.
Another week has ended, and it’s been another exciting one, filled with news, rumors, and surprises from across the tech world. 7 Days is here once more to make sure you know what’s been happening, with a handy roundup of the week’s top tech news.
Thursday marked the end of an era, as Apple discontinued its venerable iPod nano and iPod shuffle. The two devices contributed significantly to the success of the iPod line - but standalone music players are far less popular now than they once were.
The UK Government has announced plans requiring new drones heavier than 250 grams to be registered, while their owners will be required to sit a safety awareness test.
India's transport minister said the country's government will not allow driverless cars on its roads, amid fears that autonomous vehicles will take away jobs from its citizens.
Meanwhile, in the UK, the sale of petrol- and diesel-powered cars will be banned by 2040, following a similar announcement by the French government.
The USB 3.0 Promoter Group shared details of the new USB 3.2 specification, supporting up to two lanes of 10Gbps operation, "effectively doubling the performance across existing cables." The new standard is expected to be finalized this year.
According to some online benchmarks, it seems that Intel may be readying quad-core U-series processors for its next generation of chips, codenamed Coffee Lake. That means we should be seeing quad-core Ultrabooks fairly soon...
Intel isn't the only one working on new processors. On Monday, Microsoft announced details of the new holographic processing unit for its next HoloLens headset, which will incorporate a custom-designed AI coprocessor.
HTC - which is more focused on VR, rather than augmented reality - announced a new standalone Vive headset using Qualcomm's Snapdragon 835 processor.
Rise of the machines
Microsoft brought us once step closer this week to the launch of SkyNet and humanity's destruction by our future machine overlords, as it revealed details of an artificial intelligence that teaches reading comprehension to other AIs.
Mark Zuckerberg recently dismissed concerns raised by billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk about the potential threat posed by AI, but Musk responded by saying that Zuckerberg's understanding of that threat is "limited".
So many speakers
It seems like everyone's launching an AI-infused smart speaker these days. Xiaomi unveiled its new Mi AI Speaker, calling it "a baby for nurture into your perfect companion". Creepy. Still, while its marketing may need some work, the price makes it very tempting - it'll cost just $45, despite promising "excellent sound quality".
Microsoft and Harman Kardon have been working on a speaker powered by Cortana, and as Neowin was first to reveal this week, the two companies have now launched a private beta program for the device. Specs and photos, along with the user manual, also emerged for the new Invoke speaker.
Facebook is reportedly developing a smart speaker too, with a 15-inch touchscreen. The social network is also expected to launch its new TV service next month.
Google's parent company, Alphabet, published its latest quarterly earnings report on Tuesday - but while it exceed expectations, its profits took a big hit from the $2.7 billion fine that Google was slapped with by European antitrust regulators.
Google has been tinkering with the results on its search engine too. It ditched its Instant Search feature, which displayed search results as users typed their queries - but search autocomplete suggestions will remain. In less welcome news, Google has also been testing video autoplay in its search results.
On Monday, Google released the fourth and final Android O Developer Preview, before the next major version of the OS launches in the coming weeks. Google still hasn't revealed which sweet, tasty treat the update will be named after. But could it really be... Octopus?!
All things Android
Owners of Google's Nexus 5X and 6P whose devices were affected by a frustrating 'bootloop' issue now have a fix that can bring their handsets back to life - but it's an unofficial solution to the problem.
Along with the smart speaker I mentioned earlier, Xiaomi unveiled its new mid-range Mi 5X phone, offering some solid specs at a very appealing price.
There was plenty of news this week for flagship fans too. Meizu announced its new Pro 7 and Pro 7 Plus, which feature a bizarre secondary display on the rear of each device.
Lenovo revealed its Moto Z2 Force, with a Snapdragon 835 processor, and a 5.5-inch Quad HD 'shatterproof' display, which it demonstrated by repeatedly dropping the handset onto a brick floor. Be sure to check out our hands-on video of that handset.
And HMD Global sent out invites to the launch of its new Nokia 8 flagship on August 16. The much-loved Lumia Camera UI - which featured on Nokia and Microsoft Windows phones - could come to future Nokia Android phones, as HMD acquired the patent from Microsoft.
A year and a half after HP unveiled the Elite x3, it seems the Windows 10 Mobile flagship may be heading to Verizon. Over in the UK, HP slashed the price of the Elite x3 and Desk Dock by 18% - no great surprise, as it's not exactly a new device any more.
Meanwhile, Microsoft delayed the launch of Alcatel's high-end Windows phone in the UK, and elsewhere in Europe. The IDOL 4 Pro is a rebranded version of the device that launched in the US last year, where it was ditched by T-Mobile after six months, following massive price cuts.
Microsoft's development of its Windows 10 Mobile has stagnated in recent months, leading many to claim that it's turned its back on its smartphone OS. Microsoft's Joe Belfiore responded to one such claim this week, saying that the company clearly "has no hate for" Windows phones, because it's trying to bring Windows phone features to iOS and Android devices.
Microsoft did share a bit of love with Windows 10 Mobile users in its latest Insider Preview. Build 15235 is the first phone preview in three and a half months to include a new feature.
Windows 10 build 16251 also rolled out to PCs in the Fast ring with a bunch of new features, including the ability to link your Android phone to your PC to continue browsing web pages between the two devices. Microsoft also added support for iPhones on Friday.
Microsoft is in the final phase of its development of the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update (codenamed Redstone 3). Windows Insiders can now 'Skip Ahead' to a new ring that will give them first access to preview builds from its Redstone 4 development branch.
Paint's brush with death
Last weekend, Microsoft revealed numerous features that will be deprecated or removed from Windows 10 when the Fall Creators Update rolls out. Microsoft Paint - a mainstay of Windows for two decades - was on the list of deprecated features, leading to a global outcry from nostalgic Windows users, and massive media coverage mourning the 'death' of the application.
On Tuesday, Microsoft made it clear that "Paint is not going away", and will remain available from the Windows Store.
There was no such outpouring of grief when Adobe announced on Tuesday that it will finally kill off Flash in 2020. Indeed, many people were practically dancing on its grave after the announcement.
Microsoft outlined its plans to phase out Flash support on Edge and Internet Explorer over the next few years, in line with similar roadmaps from Google, Mozilla and Apple.
With the Fall Creators Update expected in September, Microsoft announced that its SDK is 'platform-complete'. It also revealed that several new features for Windows app developers are now generally available. Developers can finally get their hands on ISOs for Windows 10 S too.
Microsoft launched its new Windows Bounty Program on Wednesday, offering payouts of up to $250,000 to those who discover new vulnerabilities in Windows 10 and some of its key features.
After beginning its 'phased' rollout in April, Microsoft announced on Thursday that the Creators Update is now available to all Windows 10 users (...except those whose PCs can't actually upgrade, of course).
It also revealed that it's replacing the Windows 10 Current Branch and Current Branch for Business with the Semi-Annual Channel to align with Office 365 ProPlus feature updates.
Microsoft's Phil Spencer confirmed that Xbox One X pre-orders are coming soon, and hinted at the possibility of sales bundled with 4K TVs.
Microsoft reached a major milestone this week, with over 400 Xbox 360 games now on its Xbox One Backward Compatibility list. It also revealed its Xbox Games with Gold titles for August.
The Sims 4 is coming to Xbox One and PlayStation 4, while Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered is now available as a standalone title for Xbox One and PC.
There was bad news for Sony's gaming community in some countries, as the company announced price increases to its PlayStation Plus subscriptions.
Good news for Nintendo, though: it's sold 4.7 million of its Switch consoles in the last few months, with 13 million games sold. However, Walmart confirmed that it's cancelling pre-orders of Nintendo's new SNES Classic Edition, due to a technical glitch. Predictably, that resulted in a ton of outrage from those hoping to buy one of the retro consoles.
You can stay up to date with all the top gaming news by following our dedicated Twitter feed @NeowinGaming.
Ever wondered how much of a Neanderthal you are? There's an app store for that!
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.
Two years on from its launch, Windows 10 has come a long way. But is it... any good? We're asking our readers what they think of the OS after three major updates (and a few controversies). Join in the discussion, and have your say!
Rich Woods has had a very busy week, but still found time to publish his review of Lenovo's ThinkPad X1 Yoga. Referring to the Windows 10 device as "a convertible that doesn't make compromises", it seems he was rather impressed by it!
Rich got his paws on the monstrous Lenovo Legion Y720 gaming laptop too, and recorded an unboxing video, including his first impressions.
Rich also put together an unboxing video of the NuVision Solo 10 Draw, a 10.1-inch Windows 10 tablet that's priced at just $99, which includes a digital pen. Stay tuned for the full review... and we'll also be giving away that device to a lucky reader in the near future!
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