It hasn’t been a good week for Microsoft. Instead of getting excited about the Xbox One Mini, most of us were sad about the apparent end of Windows Phone, and furious at some sneaky Windows 10 tomfoolery. Elsewhere we discovered Apple’s plans for your home and the tech that you’ll see in the 2020 iPhone, uncovered the OnePlus 3 and explored Netflix in VR. It’s been a particularly packed Week in Tech!
Microsoft and Nokia: a bad call?
Microsoft is laying off thousands of staff from its smartphone division, and it looks increasingly likely that it’s getting out of the phone hardware business altogether. But Microsoft’s biggest mistake wasn’t buying Nokia, says Gareth Beavis: it was not pushing Windows Phone aggressively in the low-margin, high-volume phone market. “If Windows Phone had truly dominated the low-end smartphone arena as it could, it would have nabbed market share that would have been golden to Microsoft,” he says. Instead of mourning Windows Phone, we’d be using it.
Windows 10 tomfoolery
It seems that Microsoft can’t see its feet without unloading a shotgun at them. This week it emerged that if you say no to the Windows 10 upgrade then Microsoft takes that as a yes, and installs it anyway. It’s been reclassified as a “recommended update”, so if your system is set to install those automatically then hitting the red X to close the upgrade pop-up doesn’t stop the installation. The internet, you’ll be amazed to hear, is furious.
Big One, little One
Microsoft is working on multiple new Xbox devices, including an Xbox Two, slated for next year, and an Xbox One Mini, due to be unveiled at E3 2016. The smaller, cheaper Xbox One will be joined by a Chromecast-style media streamer and an Apple TV-style box, priced at around $100 and $200 respectively. As for the Xbox Two, the console, codenamed ‘Scorpio’ will have 4K video (but not 4K gaming) and VR, as well as an improved GPU. It’s expected to launch in spring 2017.
OnePlus 2 is 3
Yep, the follow-up to the OnePlus 2 is the OnePlus 3. Mark your diary for June 14, because that’s when the OnePlus 3 is expected to launch. With an anticipated cost of £239/US$329, a new design and possibly 6GB of RAM it could be quite the bargain – and as ever we’ve collated everything you need to know about the handset in one place.
Siri seems to be the hardest word
It’s fair to say that Apple’s Siri isn’t quite living up to its initial promise. Google’s voice control is more reliable and Amazon’s Alexa has more friends – but that may change at WWDC with the arrival of a new home speaker/mic, rather like Amazon’s Echo. It’ll come with a software development kit enabling app creators to link Siri to their products, so you’ll be able to yell for a cab or a pizza without having to wait for Apple to approve it. Here’s hoping the voice recognition is better too.
The iPhone you can’t buy yet
2020 sounds impossibly futuristic, but it’s only four years away – so what tech can we expect to see in that year’s flagship iPhone? Gary Marshall teamed up with Ulster University’s Dr Kevin Curran to sift fact from fiction, and identify which technologies are likely to make it into your pocket or purse in the 2020 iPhone. The good news? It’ll be amazing. The bad news? It’ll probably still need a daily charge.
The biggest Things in the Internet of Things
2020 should also see much more of the Internet of Things, which will make even the humblest item intelligent and hyper-connected. But which firms should we be watching? Max Slater-Robins knows – and some of the names may surprise you.
Netflix – now in VR
How’s this for irony? Netflix, which started off as a service that would stop people from having to go to a video store, is now available as a virtual reality video store, offering all the inconvenience of physical video shops with the added expense of virtual reality hardware. It’s a demo rather than a product, though: Netflix Zone was created at a hackday, rather than cooked up in Netflix’s own labs.
Prepare for battle(cast)
Good news for parents who’d like their kids to drain the family finances but would rather they didn’t do it on plastic figurines: Skylanders is now available as a card game in the form of Skylanders Battlecast. The game enables kids to spend their pocket money on cards, and use the characters in the game that runs on iOS, Android or Kindle Fire. Hugh Langley, no stranger to card-based gaming, has the details.
Pebble smartwatches have struggled to keep up with the likes of Android Wear 2 and the Apple Watch, but there’s a whole bunch of new Pebbles for 2016, including the second-generation Pebble 2, which has much more of a fitness focus than its predecessor. It’s going via Kickstarter again, so shipping won’t happen until at least September, but at just $99 (around £70, AU$140) backing it now will save you around $30/£20/AU$40.