7 Days: A week of Spotify Xcitement, Windows 10 Eye Control and Microsoft's iPad Cover story

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.

At the end of another action-packed week, it’s finally time to pause and catch our breaths. And there's another reason for rejoicing too, as 7 Days is here again to make sure you know what’s been happening across the tech world lately. Let’s get on with it…!

Cover story

A document recently spotted on Microsoft's servers included a reference to an unannounced 'iPad Touch Cover', with the model number 1719. Of course, Microsoft previously sold a Touch Cover for its early Surface devices, before it was discontinued in favor of its newer Type Covers, which featured more 'conventional' keys.

But could Microsoft be planning to resurrect the Touch Cover for a new life with Apple's tablets? Stranger things have happened...

Image: Cult of Mac

Fruity bucks

Apple published its latest quarterly earnings report, revealing a 7% increase in revenue, rising to $45.4 billion - and over half of that came from iPhone sales.

But according to Strategy Analytics, it was Samsung that dominated global smartphone shipments last quarter, grabbing 22% of the market. Further research suggests that Apple may soon be overtaken in smartphone sales by Huawei.

Some wear

Fitbit confirmed that its long-awaited new smartwatch will launch in time for the holiday season, with water-resistance up to 50 meters, a GPS tracker, cross-platform compatibility, and "multi-day battery life".

Samsung is working on another wearable device too, new details of which emerged a few days ago.

Flash back

While much of the world rejoiced after Adobe announced its plans last week to finally kill off Flash in 2020, not everyone was pleased about that news. In fact, a developer has started a petition to try to persuade Adobe to open source Flash, with the aim of preserving existing online content.

Dell gets creative...

Dell's Canvas 27 went on sale this week, priced at $1,799. It's designed for use with Windows 10 PCs, and includes a pen, and a rotary input device - similar to Microsoft's Surface Dial - known as the 'totem'.

...while HP reinvents retail, or something

The hyperbole that companies use to market their products is often amusing, although it frequently borders on the absurd. HP claimed to have "reinvented retail" and "reimagined the retail industry" with its announcement on Wednesday of the ElitePOS, a Windows 10 point-of-sale machine.

It certainly seems like an impressive and well-designed device, making HP's silly, over-the-top claims appear quite unnecessary.

LastPass gets a bit more premium

After launching its free service in November, LastPass has now removed two features from that tier, and doubled the price of its Premium plan. Unsurprisingly, that announcement didn't go down too well with its customers.

Image: Shutterstock

Security matters

Security concerns seem to be taking their toll on consumers. A study by Visa found that 72% of British online shoppers abandon the contents of their shopping carts before they pay, due to security fears.

Meanwhile, HBO confirmed that it "experienced a cyber incident", in which hackers claimed to have stolen 1.5 terabytes of data, including some episodes of the network's TV shows, and a new Game of Thrones script.

Marcus Hutchins, the security researcher who first discovered the WannaCry kill switch, was arrested by the FBI in Las Vegas over his alleged involvement in the creation of the Kronos banking Trojan.

And reports emerged of more security threats on Android too. An Android Trojan was recently found to be updated with a keylogger and the ability to take advantage of the OS's accessibility feature, which can be used to display phishing links and steal data. Researchers also found that some Chinese smartphones are being shipped with a tampered Android core library that features one of the most sophisticated malware strains for Android.

Android things

Nearly three and a half years after launching the Galaxy S5, Samsung rolled out the very latest Android security update to that device. It also released an update for the Galaxy S8 and S8+, bringing support for Google's Daydream VR platform.

Samsung's Galaxy Note8 will be unveiled later this month, but there may not be much left for it to announce, as images and specs of the new stylus-toting handset emerged this week. Meanwhile, Samsung officially revealed its new flagship-class Android flip-phone, with dual 1080p displays, 4GB RAM, and 64GB storage.

Samsung also brought Android 7.0 Nougat to the Galaxy A3 (2017), almost seven months after the device was released. Meanwhile, HMD Global confirmed that it will update its new Nokia 3 to Android 7.1.1 by the end of this month.

HMD also launched the Nokia 6 in the UK this week, priced at £199.99. And ahead of its announcement of the new Nokia 8 flagship on August 16, more details of that device were leaked on Monday.

LG provided a glimpse of the OLED FullVision display that will feature on its new V30 flagship. It seems the V30 will ditch the distinctive dual-display design of its predecessors.

Meizu, on the other hand, is loving the whole dual-display thing these days. After revealing the Pro 7 with a rectangular secondary screen on the rear of the handset last month, images of its new X2 phone emerged on Tuesday, showing a circular display on the back.

RED's new $1,195 phone made its first appearance on camera on Wednesday, but the secrets of its 'holographic display' remain a mystery.

Lenovo confirmed that it's ditching custom user interface, and switching to stock Android for its future smartphones. Lenovo also unveiled its new mid-range Moto G5S Plus on Tuesday, priced from €299.

Android O is coming soon, and so are Google's new Pixel and Pixel XL phones. However, it's hard to understand what Google is thinking with the new Pixel, which will reportedly have huge bezels, 'squeezy' edges, no dual-camera... and no headphone jack.

Bleugh.

OnePlus 5 minus 4.5.7

Yep, another issue for the OnePlus 5 (and if you're struggling to keep up with them, I can't blame you). Earlier this week, the company released OxygenOS 4.5.7, bringing electronic image stablization for 4K video recording.

Days later, OnePlus pulled the update, after owners complained of 'stutter' issues when trying to play games. To its credit, OnePlus quickly pushed out a fix, with the rollout of OxygenOS 4.5.8.

Ad-block plus Chrome

After details emerged in April of Google's plans to integrate an ad-blocker into Chrome, the browser's latest Canary build on Android and Windows has added settings to "block ads from sites that tend to show intrusive ads".

Developers, developers, developers

Microsoft is bringing its Windows Dev Center app to Android, making it easier for developers to manage their apps on the go. An early 'alpha' preview of the app is now available to download.

Over on the Windows Store

MEGA's new cloud storage app is built on the Universal Windows Platform, but remained in closed beta for several weeks. Now, an open beta is available to all users of Windows 10 PCs and phones.

However, there was bad news for T-Mobile customers with Windows phones on Monday. The carrier revealed that it's ditching support for its Windows phone app later this month.

Groovy

Microsoft has been working hard to improve its Groove Music app in recent months, and further enhancements are on the way. Visualizations, an equalizer, and playlist tools are among various features that were revealed a few days ago.

Sadly, it doesn't look like the old Zune-style visualizations (as shown above) are making a comeback anytime soon... but we live in hope.

Windows 10 S

Until this week, the only device available with Windows 10 S was the Surface Laptop. But on Tuesday, Microsoft announced that ultra-low-cost Windows 10 PCs are now available for schools, priced from $249 - and even cheaper devices are on the way.

Microsoft also made Windows 10 S available for anyone to install on their PCs this week.

Windows 10 eye

In a hugely important announcement, Microsoft revealed that Windows 10 is getting support for eye-tracking, making the OS more accessible and easier to use for people with disabilities. Microsoft has already introduced a diverse range of accessibility improvements in Windows 10, and more are coming in the Fall Creators Update.

Windows updates

Microsoft released a beta of its new eye-control features in Windows 10 Insider Preview build 16257, which made its way to PCs in the Fast ring on Wednesday. Windows 10 build 16251 made its way to PCs in the Slow ring too.

Last week, Microsoft offered Insiders the option to 'Skip Ahead' for early access to Windows 10 previews from the Redstone 4 development branch - but that option is no longer available.

Windows 10 build 15063.502 - the latest cumulative update for those not on the Insider Program - also rolled out this week, bringing a range of improvements and fixes.

...and for those few devotees with Windows 10 Mobile devices, Microsoft also released build 15237 to phones in the Fast ring.

Microsoft market share

The latest data from NetMarketShare indicates that Microsoft Edge isn't winning over users, with its share of the browser market stagnating at just 6% - even while Windows 10 usage is increasing.

Steam's monthly hardware report showed an unexpected drop in Windows 10 usage on the gaming platform, while Windows 7 usage increased.

Reality shift

Acer's Windows Mixed Reality headset for developers launched in the US Microsoft Store on Tuesday, but just two days later, it had already sold out.

Developers outside of the US can get a Windows Mixed Reality headset from 3Glasses, priced at $399, including accessories.

Surface scribbles

Microsoft unveiled its new $99.99 Surface Pen in May, calling it "the fastest digital pen on the planet". It's finally available to pre-order in all of the colors it revealed over two months ago. However, the company also stopped selling the 1TB Surface Book.

On Tuesday, Microsoft announced Surface Plus, offering consumers and organizations a range of financing options to buy Surface devices, along with the ability to upgrade to newer Surface hardware every 18 months or so.

And on Thursday, it released new firmware for the Surface Pro 4, after owners complained that the previous update had broken Windows Hello on their devices.

Xpotify

Just a few weeks after Spotify brought its desktop app to the Windows Store, a new app for the Xbox One is now being tested internally. Its existence was confirmed by Microsoft's Larry Hyrb this weekend.

Spotify now has over 60 million paying subscribers, an increase of 10 million in five months.

Play time

Microsoft revealed three new designs for its Xbox Wireless Controller, and unveiled a significantly smaller version of its Xbox Wireless Adapter for Windows 10. The company also acknowledged a spam epidemic spreading across Xbox Live, following thousands of complaints from its gaming community.

Microsoft has also taken steps to make Minecraft safer for online players, with new controls and filters for individuals, and tougher measures against people who are abusive towards others. Those improvements came as Microsoft announced the 'Better Together Beta' for Minecraft, introducing cross-platform play to the blocky world-building game. Minecraft: Story Mode Season Two will continue on August 15 with the next episode in the adventure.

Popular tactical stealth game Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun - previously a PC exclusive - is now available on the Xbox One and PlayStation 4. The title offers five playable classes, artistic environments, and 25 hours of campaign.

Sony published its latest earnings report this week, reporting a 180% increase in operating income. Not bad...! It also revealed that it's shipped 63.3 million PlayStation 4 consoles so far - a hugely impressive achievement.

But the console that many gamers are really eager to get their hands on is Nintendo's SNES Classic Edition, which is coming later this year. Nintendo confirmed that pre-orders will finally go live in the US this month.

…and finally

Reports that Facebook had inadvertently come close to creating Skynet weren't quite what they seemed...


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.

Dreyer Smit shared his review of Shadow Tactics: Blade of the Shogun - but while he enjoyed its outstanding gameplay, and beautifully detailed environments, he found the storyline far too dull.

Rich Woods published his review of the new Moto Z2 Force flagship - and it seems to be very good indeed. It's thin and light, a performance powerhouse, and it has a gorgeous AMOLED display with 'shatterproof' glass... but it's also very easy to scratch.

Make sure you also watch his full video of Lenovo drop-testing the Moto Z2 Force alongside an iPhone, onto a brick floor!

Rich also got his hands on Lenovo's new Legion Y920 gaming notebook. Check out his unboxing video, including first impressions of the monstrous machine.

Rich has had a busy week! He also found time to put together another video for you, unboxing Microsoft's Modern Keyboard with Fingerprint ID, and sharing his first thoughts on the new peripheral.

After the Windows 10 Creators Update, Microsoft's choice of name for the upcoming 'Fall Creators Update' has been criticized for being unimaginative, inappropriate for use in some markets, and meaningless in others. But what would be a better name? Join in the discussion, and have your say!

...and it's not too late to enter our Caption Contest!

Twice a month, we invite our readers to share an amusing caption for an image, to be in with a chance of winning a prize. Microsoft's Joe Belfiore is the subject of our latest photo - join in the fun and enter 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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