7 Days: A week of sci-fi screens, Microsoft's Moonraker and space-bound sexy-time

7 Days is a weekly round-up 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.

Well, that was quite a week. From official announcements and juicy rumors, to some intriguing insights and even a couple of surprises, there’s been no end of excitement across the tech world, and 7 Days is here again to bring you up to speed with what’s been happening.

We begin this week with Samsung, which unveiled two OLED panels that look like something straight out of a sci-fi movie. One of the two 55-inch displays is transparent, while the other has a mirrored surface, and Samsung thinks they could be a big hit in retail stores. With Intel RealSense cameras, the displays support augmented reality scenarios, such as allowing customers to virtually ‘try on’ clothes while in a store just by looking at the screen.

Twitter announced a couple of very welcome improvements to its service this week, including the ability to share lists of blocked users with other people, to help deal with persistent trolls and the like. Twitter also said that it is removing the 140-character limit on direct messages from next month.

Apple made a series of announcements at its Worldwide Developer Conference this week, detailing much of what the company is developing on the software side of things. First up was OS X El Capitan, which Apple says is aimed at improving system performance, as well as the overall user experience.

It also unveiled iOS 9, promising significant improvements in performance and battery life, as well as new security enhancements. Apple also said that it wanted to boost the ‘intelligence’ of every iOS device, with upgrades to Siri and the search experience.

iOS 9 introduces all sorts of new features, including much-improved multitasking support which, amusingly, appears to draw much of its inspiration from Microsoft’s ‘Snap’ window management features in Windows 8. However, not all devices will get all of the new multitasking features.

Apple is also launching a new ‘Move to iOS’ app, to make it easier for existing Android users to switch to an iPhone or iPad, transferring their data and helping to rebuild their app library on iOS.

Apple also announced its new "revolutionary music service", priced at $9.99 a month or $14.99 a month for a family of up to six people. Apple Music includes personalized recommendations, social and interactive elements, and a new app that aims to be users' only destination for music on iOS 9 devices. As part of the service, Apple is also launching Beats 1, its own 24-hour worldwide internet radio station.

Along with improvements to OS X and iOS, Apple also announced watchOS 2. The next version of the Apple Watch operating system is aimed at making the experience better for users, and giving developers more access to exploit the capabilities of the device.

While Apple has been shaking things up, over at BlackBerry, it’s more of the same. Leaked photos popped up this week of BlackBerry’s next handset, codenamed ‘Oslo’, but it seems that it’s just a repackaged version of its existing Passport, with identical specs.

Image via Ars Technica

But far more intriguingly, it also emerged this week that BlackBerry is preparing to launch an Android device with a large display and slide-out QWERTY keyboard.

Sony recently launched its latest Android flagship, the Xperia Z3+, but if you were planning to buy one, you might want to hold off. Sony acknowledged this week that the device is experiencing overheating issues, after tests conducted by a Dutch publication found that the device, which features a Snapdragon 810 processor, became unusually hot while playing games and using the camera.

There was more bad news for Sony this week as it emerged that its new Sony Xperia M4 Aqua with 8GB of storage comes with just 1.26GB of free storage available for the user, due to the amount of bloatware the company pre-installs on the device. Even worse, Sony’s own documentation states that users should have 3GB of free space on the device as soon as they turn it on.

On Monday, OnePlus announced a permanent price cut for its One handset. With $50 slashed from the previous prices, the 16GB model now costs $249, and the 64GB model is available for $299.

Samsung announced a third addition to its S6 range this week, the Galaxy S6 active. Think of it as a ‘rugged’ version of the standard S6, but with a much bigger battery – a rather large 3500mAh battery, in fact.

Image via Android Headlines

If battery life is your priority when it comes to buying a smartphone, you might want to consider the S6000 handset from Chinese manufacturer Doogee. The Android 5.1 Lollipop phone will come with a massive 6000mAh battery, although the rest of its specs are about what you’d expect of a $140 device.

Our regular readers may well have spotted that we’ve been covering a lot of handsets from Chinese OEMs lately, including some obscure ones that you may never have heard of. This weekend, Neowin editor Steven Johns took a closer look at some of the technologies that Chinese manufacturers will be focusing on in their upcoming devices, so be sure to check that out.

Image via Microsoft Theater/AEG

On Tuesday, the world famous Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles – best known as the venue for the annual Emmy Awards – officially became the Microsoft Theater, following Microsoft’s acquisition of Nokia’s devices and services business last year.

On Wednesday, we exclusively published slides from a Microsoft webinar for OEMs that showed some of the marketing highlights that the company wants to focus on when promoting Windows 10 to consumers and businesses.

And on Thursday, it emerged that Microsoft has now revised its out-of-box experience for customers who are currently buying Windows 8.1 devices. When these users turn their new PC on for the first time, they’ll now receive an invitation to reserve their copy of Windows 10, which follows on from similar prompts introduced for existing Windows 7 and 8.1 users earlier this month.

The latest Windows 10 Insider Preview is build 10130, which was released to the Fast ring at the end of last month. On Tuesday, Microsoft rolled out a patch to fix problems with notifications and flyouts in that build, and on Friday, it pushed out three security updates and fixes for some other particularly annoying issues.

Later that day, it also announced that build 10130 would be rolling out to the Slow ring – but some users may be unable to upgrade to it via Windows Update, although there is a workaround.

Windows 10 build 10135 leaked onto the web earlier this week, but before you download and install it, we advise caution – the version that has leaked is a modified ‘homebrew’ release by WZor.

Windows 10 Mobile build 10134 appeared on video this week, in a Chinese video that showed off a few minor changes in the smartphone OS, along with performance improvements.

But on Thursday, Microsoft said that the newer build 10136 is a possible candidate for release as the next Windows 10 Mobile Insider Preview.

On Wednesday, we exclusively revealed when Microsoft plans to release Windows 10 Mobile to its hardware partners, ahead of its public launch later this year.

Windows Phone 8.1 Update 2 began rolling out to the Lumia 635 on AT&T this week, making it one of the few devices to get the update so far. Update 2 is the latest non-preview version of the OS, which also comes pre-installed on the latest devices, like Microsoft’s new Lumia 640.

The Lumia 640, which did pretty well in our recent in-depth review, is expected to join T-Mobile US on June 17. Pricing info hasn’t yet been announced, but a recent Microsoft Store listing for the device suggests that it could be very affordable indeed.

One of the most affordable Windows Phones ever is currently even cheaper over in Australia. Until June 16, Microsoft’s Lumia 532 can be purchased for just $39 AUD (roughly $30 USD) off-contract.

There was some bad news for Windows Phone this week, as the latest independent figures from comScore show that the OS lost around one million users in the US alone during the last quarter. Ouch.

Changes in Facebook’s Graph API have meant that a number of major Microsoft platforms and services – including parts of Windows Phone 7 and 8, Windows 8 and 8.1, Windows Live Essentials, OneDrive and more – can no longer integrate and sync with Facebook contacts, calendars and other data from the social network.

A bunch of images (briefly) posted on Tumblr by a Microsoft employee revealed a Nokia smartwatch, which was developed under the codename ‘Moonraker’. It seems it came very close to actually launching last year alongside the Lumia 930, but Microsoft killed it off in favor of its own Band wearable device. Are we the only ones who think it makes the Band look a bit boring?

Microsoft unveiled its new Portable Dual mobile battery chargers this week, available in three sizes: 5200mAh, 9000mAh or 12,000mAh. Prices start at $35, but the color options are a bit, errrr… limited.

The company also announced full specs and pricing details for its new Surface Hub, the gigantic multitouch display designed to boost productivity and improve workplace meetings. There’s no way to sugar-coat this: the 55-inch model costs $6,999, and the 84-inch Quad HD model will set you back $19,999. Those of you who can afford these vast, magnificent displays can place your pre-orders from July 1, while the rest of us grit our teeth and stare at you in envy.

Meanwhile, Microsoft’s (much smaller) 12-inch Surface Pro 3 came first in a performance test of ten of the most popular tablets in the UK, conducted by one of the country’s leading independent consumer watchdog groups. The Core i5 Surface Pro 3 with 4GB RAM beat the iPad Air 2 into second place, and Apple’s iPad mini 3 was beaten by a low-cost $150 Android tablet launched by UK supermarket giant Tesco.

Microsoft's Scott Hanselman said in no uncertain terms this week that the company is going to open source its Windows Live Writer blogging software. However, it’s not yet clear exactly when that’s going to happen.

Microsoft rolled out a new update for its Office 2016 for Mac preview this week, and while it’s not as feature-packed as the update it released in April, it does bring the sweet relief of various bug fixes for some annoying issues across the productivity suite.

On Thursday, Microsoft announced that its Skype Modern app for Windows 8/8.1 is being killed off next month, requiring users to download the desktop app instead, which is the only version that will be maintained – for now at least. Microsoft is planning to launch a more deeply integrated Skype experience in Windows 10, but this won’t arrive until sometime after the OS rolls out on July 29.

Later this summer, Microsoft has said that it will begin integrating Skype Translator functionality into its mainstream Skype desktop app. Currently, the Translator – which can translate spoken language in near-real-time – is only available in a standalone preview app.

It emerged this week that some Windows 10 PCs won’t get Microsoft’s new Edge browser at all. However, this will apply to a very specific set of Windows 10 Enterprise PCs that are maintained on Microsoft’s Long-Term Servicing Branch.

Microsoft announced a new $399 version of its Xbox One console on Tuesday, with 1TB of onboard storage and an updated wireless controller with integrated 3.5mm headset jack.

Virtual reality specialists Oculus formally unveiled the consumer version of its new VR headset, the Rift, this week – and Microsoft played a big part in that too. Every Oculus Rift will come bundled with an Xbox One wireless controller and wireless adapter; and for Xbox One owners, the headset will also support streaming games from the console.

YouTube launched a new gaming-themed strand to its video streaming service, designed to go head-to-head with Twitch, the popular game-streaming platform. The launch of the imaginatively-named YouTube Gaming comes a year after the company failed to acquire Twitch, which was ultimately bought by Amazon.

Remember Angry Birds? Yep, it’s still going, and Rovio is determined to milk every penny it can out of the franchise before we all move on to bigger and better things. That’s why The Angry Birds Movie is coming out later this year, and why this week, the company announced that it has teamed up with Lego to offer a range of Angry Birds toys and sets to coincide with the movie’s release.

Ever wondered what it might be like to play Grand Theft Auto not on screen in Los Santos, but in the real world? A production team put together an impressive video recreation of gameplay transposed into real-world locations across Los Angeles – and unless you want to go to jail, that video is probably the closest you’ll get.

The intrepid 'sextronauts' who will boldly go (and come) on this noble mission

And have you ever wondered what porn would be like in space? If you have, then Pornhub has got you covered. The people behind the popular adult site have launched a $3.4 million crowdfunding campaign to allow them to cross porn’s final frontier with some zero-G docking maneuvers.

Before we leave you to enjoy the rest of your weekend, just a reminder that you can still enter the Neowin Deals Google Gadget Giveaway in partnership with StackCommerce. You’re in with a chance of winning a Nexus 9 tablet, Google Chromecast and $100 Google Play credit, so don’t forget to enter!

…and be sure to check out our review of Portal Pinball too - it’s pretty good fun!

- - -

As ever, there’s plenty more to read across the site – including loads of interesting discussions over on our forums. From all of us on the Neowin team, have an awesome weekend!

Report a problem with article
Next Article

This is what queueing for Microsoft's E3 2015 FanFest looks like

Previous Article

Xperia Z3+ overheating issue confirmed by Sony

2 Comments - Add comment

Advertisement