It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas – or at least the part of Christmas when you were little and you knew Santa was coming. After years of hype VR is absolutely, positively ready to fall onto your face, and it’s nearly time for new Apple devices too. Not only that, but we’re excited about future Xboxes and a game that could be as emotionally affecting as a movie – a good movie. It’s an excited Week in Tech!
Virtual Reality costs lots of real money
Hold the front page: VR headsets won’t be cheap. The latest manufacturer to put its mouth where its money is is HTC, whose Vive will cost £689 in the UK. It’s pricier than the Oculus VR, but cheaper than Hololens – dev kits for Microsoft’s specs have gone on sale for a whopping $3,000. But if you’re into Minecraft it’ll be worth every penny – at least that’s our takeaway from Nick Pino’s trip to Minecraft in VR. But while we’re getting ready for the first generation of VR, work has already begun on the second: Oculus creator Palmer Luckey told techradar of his plans for the future of VR in general, and for Oculus in particular. The limiting factor right now isn’t the VR tech – it’s the cost of a PC powerful enough to drive it.
WhatsApp with BlackBerry?
Another blow for the beleaguered BlackBerry: WhatsApp is dropping support for the BlackBerry OS and BlackBerry 10 – and that means the platform will no longer have one of the world’s most popular chat and messaging apps. There’s one bit of good news, and that’s for BlackBerry Priv owners: because that handset uses Android, it won’t be affected by WhatsApp’s decision.
iPhone rumours: iPhone SE and iPhone 7
Apple’s unveiling some new products later this month, and the smart money says the iPhone SE – previously known as the iPhone 5SE – will be one of them. Apple’s smaller handset is expected to look like the iPhone 5S, have the innards of the iPhone 6S, and possibly be called the iPhone SE. Its new tablet, meanwhile, was initially thought to be the iPad Air 3, but new reports indicate it will actually be a smaller iPad Pro.
There have been new rumours about the iPhone 7, too, although that’s not expected until the Autumn. As always we’ve collated all of the latest rumours, leaks and wild-eyed speculation, and sifted the fact from obvious fantasy. You’ll find our iPhone 7 rumour round-up right here.
Upgrade your Xbox forever
It’s been a busy week for games news: Sony is bringing PS4 remote play to PCs and Macs, and Microsoft is bringing universal Windows 10 apps to the Xbox. Not only that, but it’s considering an upgradeable architecture instead of a closed system for the next Xbox, so you’ll be able to upgrade it much as you would a PC. As Kevin Lee reports, Microsoft’s Xbox chief Phil Spencer says consoles “could and should be upgradable to keep up with PC, which may lead to doing away with the generational shifts of consoles”.
Give us a (Quantum) Break
We’ve got good news and bad news about Quantum Break. The bad news is that the Xbox One and PC game won’t work on Windows OSes older than Windows 10. The good news is that the game itself is looking great, and concentrates on something that’s fairly rare in video games: character and story development. Joe Osborne explains: “The story Remedy Entertainment wants to tell requires the emotional depth and nuance that film has mastered over its 150-year history. (Modern games, like The Last of Us and Beyond: Two Souls are just starting to navigate this remotely well.) So, the studio has deferred to the experts to deliver the pathos and context while it works on delivering the playable set-piece moments.”
Netflix: VPNs can GTF
Netflix has opened a new front in its war on virtual private networking, which enables users in one country to access Netflix services for another: it’s blocking lots and lots of VPNs in Europe, including in the UK. Netflix hasn’t had anything to add since its announcement of a crackdown in January, but unhappy users are taking to Reddit to share their anger. As Hugh Langley reports, “Netflix’s attack on proxies isn’t just unpopular among people who use them to access content from other countries, but also with the many who use VPNs and DNS proxies for security purposes.”
How to hack the Pentagon without going to prison
We’ve come a long way since the US authorities spent two decades chasing hacker Gary McKinnon: this week, the Department of Defense announced a ‘bug bounty’ for hacking the Pentagon. The competition isn’t open to just anybody, but the aim is to find holes in the US government’s security before the bad guys do. “Monetary rewards and other recognition” may be offered too.
Yeezus, Kanye: don’t pirate apps!
We thought we’d seen Kanye West at his daftest, but apparently not: this week he tweeted a photo of his Mac’s screen, forgot to crop it and showed the world that he was searching for music-editing software on The Pirate Bay. As Hugh Langley says, “There’s a theory that Yeezy’s controversial public persona is all one big joke. It’s times like this that we really hope that’s the case.”