7 Days: A week of the Essential Android, Windows 10 Mobile PCs, and Winsider mayhem

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.

Next week, Apple will host its Worldwide Developer Conference, sharing details of its plans for the next major versions of its operating systems, and possibly a few new pieces of hardware too. But let's not get ahead of ourselves, because there's already been a ton of exciting news this week - and if you've struggled to keep up with it all, we know how you feel!

But don't panic... 7 Days is here to bring you up to speed on what's been happening, walking you through the week's top tech news.

Our global tech odyssey begins this week in New Zealand, where the world's first rocket with an engine made almost entirely from 3D-printed parts made a successful first flight.

Over in the UK, Amazon recently added live TV channels to its Prime Video service - and that means that anyone using the streaming service will still need a TV licence to use it.

In the United States, Amazon has begun offering refunds to customers whose kids made unauthorized in-app purchases. The company is expected to pay out up to $70 million in refunds.

Image via Geekwire

Amazon has also patented a shipping label with a built-in parachute, with an eye on giving drone-based deliveries a nice, soft landing.

Snap, Inc. - parent company of Snapchat - is getting into the autonomous aerial vehicle business too, having acquired a Los Angeles-based drone company.

And on Friday, the UK became the first European market to get Snap's Spectacles, which launched in the US last year. The glasses - which record short bursts of video in a circular format, to be shared on Snapchat - are priced at £129.99.

In worrying news, security firm WhiteScope published details of over 8,000 bugs that it discovered in the code used in multiple pacemakers, small devices placed in patients' chests to regulate abnormal heart rhythms. The bugs are said to make the devices vulnerable to hackers.

Sony's new 13.3-inch Digital Paper tablet will go on sale in the US this month, priced at $699.

And Sony is also preparing to launch the Xperia Touch in the United States. The portable Android 7.0 projector is priced at a whopping $1,700 - but only offers one hour of battery life.

Check out my hands-on video with the device to find out more.

Image via Lockerdome

Earlier in the week, reports claimed that the US Department of Homeland Security was intending to introduce a complete ban on laptops and tablets in passenger cabins on all flights to and from the United States. But a few days later, the DHS said that there was no immediate plan to do so - at least on flights originating from, and terminating in, Europe.

Much of the week's most exciting news came from the Computex industry expo in Taipei - and there were some very cool announcements there indeed.

Intel announced that its new credit card-sized computer will go on sale this August. The Compute Card will be available in a range of configurations.

Intel also revealed its new high-end X-Series processor family, including the Core i9 Extreme Edition, which it described as the "most extreme desktop processor ever". Priced at $1,999, it's an 18-core, 36-thread beast - but more affordable options will be available.

The company also revealed that its 8th-generation Core processors, coming later this year, will offer a 30% performance boost over its current 7th-gen Kaby Lake chips; it had previously indicated that the increase would be closer to 15%.

Meanwhile, Nvidia announced its new Max-Q initiative, working with leading manufacturers to bring desktop-class GTX 1080 gaming to thin and light Ultrabooks, promising supreme portable performance.

Asus unveiled the ROG Zephyrus GX501 gaming laptop as a striking example of Nvidia's Max-Q efforts. The Asus device is the world's thinnest notebook with a GTX 1080 - just 17.9mm at its thickest point - and will go on sale later this month.

Asus made a ton of announcements at Computex, including its stylish new ZenBook range, which includes the "world's thinnest, lightest convertible".

Asus introduced its new VivoBook S and VivoBook Pro laptops too, available in a wide range of configurations to suit a variety of budgets.

And if one screen just isn't enough on the go, then Asus' new portable ZenScreen display might be what you need. The 15.6-inch, $249 screen offers Full HD resolution, and it's pretty slim too.

If you're in the market for a new wireless router you might want to take a peek at - or through! - the new Asus Blue Cave, which has a distinctive design with a big hole in the middle.

Asus revealed that its new ZenFone AR - the first handset to support Google's Tango augmented reality platform, and its Daydream virtual reality suite - will launch in the United States in July.

Asus also showed off its new Windows 10 all-in-one PC, the Vivo AiO V241, with a 23.8-inch multitouch display, and "near-invisible" bezels.

Dell also unveiled new all-in-one PCs with ultra-thin bezels, including the striking, HD-ready Inspiron 27 7000 AIO with up to 4K resolution; and the touch-enabled Inspiron 24 5000.

On top of that, Dell revealed the Inspiron Gaming Desktop, promising competitive performance at affordable prices. The new budget-friendly gaming PC has a versatile tower design with advanced cooling options, integrated LED lighting, AMD and Nvidia GPU options, 7.1-channel HD audio, and up to 32GB of DDR4 RAM.

Samsung was at Computex too, where it announced the Notebook 9 Pro, a Windows 10 convertible with a 13.3- or 15-inch 1080p display, and Intel's 7th-gen Core processors. It also comes with an S Pen stylus, which can be stored within the device.

In much more disappointing news, Samsung launched its Galaxy J3 Pro handset in India. At face value, that's not bad news, until you realize that Samsung originally announced the device a year ago - and it's shipping the device in India with Android 5.1.1 Lollipop... which is now over two years old.

That's pretty poor.

While Samsung was sending its outdated handsets to India, Android co-founder Andy Rubin unveiled what he believes is the quintessential Android device. The Essential Phone has a huge 5.71-inch display with curved corners, and a rather unusually placed front-facing camera, along with the latest Snapdragon 835 processor, and plenty of other high-end specs.

The device is priced at $699, and also supports modular accessories. Rubin said that the Essential Phone will address some of the common criticisms levelled at Android devices - and it will even work on all major US networks.

It's an intriguing new addition to the Android landscape, but it remains to be seen if it will resonate with buyers.

ZTE-owned Nubia unveiled its new flagship-class handset, the Z17, priced from $410. The device has a Snapdragon 835 processor, and up to 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, and it also supports Qualcomm Quick Charge 4.0+.

Qualcomm announced details details of Quick Charge 4.0+ this week, bringing significant improvements over version 4.0, including dual-charge support, improved thermal performance, and new safety features.

Feast your eyes on the image above. That's an early LG mockup for its new V30, exploring new directions for the handset's distinctive dual-display setup. LG has considered a new design for its next-gen flagship-class device, featuring a slider configuration that exposes a secondary display that can be used for secondary controls, or even as a touchscreen keyboard.

Check out more images and uses of that secondary display here.

Long before the V30 arrives, LG is expected to launch new G6 Plus and G6 Pro models this month - but they may not be quite what you're thinking.

OnePlus CEO Pete Lau confirmed that the company intends to upgrade its 3 and 3T to Android O - but it's worth remembering that it's made (and broken) a similar promise before.

OnePlus released its latest OxygenOS beta for the 3 and 3T this week, bringing new Ambient Display 2.0 and Lift Up Display functionality, among other improvements. The firm is preparing to launch its new handset, the OnePlus 5, in the next few weeks, which Lau said will be "the thinnest flagship phone" - and it looks like it will also have dual rear cameras.

Another week, another Android security nightmare. Security specialists CheckPoint published details of what it described as "possibly the largest malware campaign found on Google Play" to date, affecting as many as 36 million Android devices.

Google's Project Zero researcher Travis Ormandy reported a "potentially extremely bad" vulnerability in Windows Defender's Malware Protection Engine to Microsoft, which the company fixed this week.

Following the recent WannaCry ransomware attack, which affected huge numbers of Windows PCs across the world, a survey revealed consumers' perceptions of Microsoft and its products.

Microsoft announced that it will hold an online forum later this month with members of the Windows engineering and product management teams, answering users' questions about Windows 10 security.

The latest data from NetMarketShare and StatCounter shows gains for Windows 10 and Windows 7 market share, while Windows XP usage has declined considerably.

On Wednesday, Microsoft rolled out the Creators Update for Windows 10 Team, the specialized version of the OS that runs on its Surface Hub touchscreen collaboration device. The update brings a range of improvements and new features, including a revised Start screen, better Office 365 integration, and more.

On Thursday, Microsoft teased the imminent rollout of its latest Windows 10 Insider Previews, hinting at the release of build 16203 for PCs, and 15220 for phones. Things did not go to plan.

Shortly after the teaser, Windows 10 Mobile devices in the Fast, Slow and Release Preview rings began receiving build 16212. However, it wasn't a Mobile build - its 'rs_iot' designator indicated that Microsoft was pushing an Internet of Things build to Mobile devices. Some PCs also received a variant of build 16212 from the rs_edge_case branch.

A few hours later, more erroneous builds appeared on Windows Insiders' phones, from the rs_devices and rs_xbox (!!) branches. Microsoft warned Insiders not to install any of these builds, but many attempted to do so nonetheless, and found that their devices were stuck in a bootloop.

Microsoft later explained the circumstances of its accidental build releases, and delayed the release of any further builds until at least next week.

Elsewhere, it seems that Alcatel is still planning to bring its Windows 10 Mobile flagship to Europe. The IDOL 4 Pro is expected to launch in Germany on July 1 priced at €599 (around $670), despite the company selling the same handset in the US for $275 as the IDOL 4S with Windows 10.

Images emerged of an unannounced Windows 10 Mobile flagship from Microsoft, with a Snapdragon 820 processor and metal bodywork. Codenamed Northstar, it also featured dual front-facing speakers, it would likely have been known as the Lumia 960 if it hadn't been cancelled.

Microsoft and Qualcomm announced a new generation of Always Connected Windows 10 'Mobile PCs', with Snapdragon 835 processors and 4G LTE. ASUS, HP and Lenovo will be the first manufacturers to release these new "sleek, thin and fanless PCs", which promise exceptional battery life on the go.

To help realize its vision of Always Connected PCs, Microsoft has signed up carrier partners around the world "to provide seamless eSIM connectivity" on Windows devices, along with support from both Qualcomm and Intel. Embedded SIMs will make it easier for users to switch between carriers and data plans without having to swap physical SIM cards in their devices.

Microsoft's vision for Windows Mixed Reality is gradually coming together too. The company showed off new head-mounted displays on the way from its partners, including the stylish Asus headset shown above.

HP's new speaker, powered by Microsoft's Cortana digital assistant, also made its first appearance at Computex.

Microsoft has been testing a new UI for Cortana on Windows 10 PCs, integrating Bing search results with the assistant on the desktop.

And as Microsoft continues to develop its new Fluent Design System, a user concept showed what the Windows Resource Monitor could look like with Microsoft's stylish new visual language.

Microsoft announced a(nother) major redesign for Skype, saying that the app has been "rebuilt from the ground up". In an effort to deal with "all the noise" of everyday life, Microsoft has crammed even more noise into the app, adding more colors, more emoticons, more bots, and new Snapchat-style features.

This was my favorite line from Microsoft's announcement: "With the ability to connect to your favorite businesses and brands from within the app, the simplest conversations can pave the way to lasting memories." Apparently, Microsoft believes that users love engaging with companies so much that speaking to a frustratingly unhelpful bot to try to get customer service will be an unforgettable life-changing experience.

Good grief.

Oh, and Windows users are at the back of the queue again. The new Skype is launching first on Android, then coming to iOS, but Mac and Windows won't get it for months. Given all the superfluous fluff Microsoft has stuffed into the app, perhaps that's not a bad thing.

Microsoft released its latest Arrow Launcher beta for Android devices, adding numerous features and improvements.

Ookla's popular Speedtest app, which lets users test the speed of their internet connections, has been available on the Windows Store for some time, and it now supports Windows 10 Mobile devices too.

Blue light filtering app f.lux also made its way to the Windows Store. While the functionality appears to duplicate the Night Light feature baked into Windows 10, f.lux offers far more settings and customization.

And audio distribution platform SoundCloud - a favorite among podcasters - also arrived on Windows 10 PCs and the Xbox One. The current beta release even allows users to control playback through Cortana.

Microsoft's experimental Garage division launched a new app for the Xbox One. Powered by MSN, Your News aims to bring personalized news and current affairs videos to console owners.

On Thursday, Microsoft launched its Xbox Game Pass subscription service, priced at $9.99 a month. 112 titles are currently available, but Microsoft will regularly rotate the games in its collection.

Rockfish Games' Everspace, a space shooter with "AAA visuals", has exited the Xbox Game Preview program and is now available on Windows 10 and Xbox One with over 500 changes compared to its initial release.

On Wednesday, Microsoft release its first Xbox Insider Preview of Version 1706, the next update for the Xbox One, to the Alpha ring. The update also made its way to the Beta ring on Thursday.

In a survey for Xbox Live Rewards members, Microsoft included a question referring to the announcement at E3 2017 of the "SNES Classic Edition" - a rumored console that Nintendo hasn't yet confirmed.

Sony reached the end of an era this week, ending production of its much-loved PlayStation 3 console.

Here's another beloved classic. Originally released as an arcade game in 1999, before making its way to the Sega Dreamcast and other platforms, Crazy Taxi has been available on mobile devices for a while - and it's now free to play on iOS and Android.

Our journey across the tech world is nearing its end this week - but not before we take a small detour to the final frontier. Virtual reality game Star Trek: Bridge Crew is finally available for the HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, and PlayStation VR, putting players in command of an experimental new Federation starship, the USS Aegis, as well as the iconic USS Enterprise from the original TV series.

The iPad. No, not that one - the other one. Or is it...?

But our final destination this week is North Korea, where a company has launched a new tablet called... the iPad.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to enjoy a bit of Manbang action.


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.

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

Report a problem with article
Previous Story

Star Wars: Commander being removed for Windows devices to focus resources elsewhere

Next Story

Gears of War 4's biggest update yet brings new skills, maps, achievements, and much more

1 Comments - Add comment

Advertisement