Mobile Nations Weekly: Silly season commences in 3… 2… 1...
Rumors of leaks, leaks of rumors, updates on suppositions of tales of releases.
We're entering something of a lull in tech news. Well, lull might not be the right word. It's not like the end-of-year holiday hiatus slash pre-CES quiet time. No, this is more like that period of time at the restaurant between the appetizer and the main course. In this metaphor, CES was the appetizer, and now we're talking about how much we enjoyed that little taste and how much we're looking forward to the surprises of the main course: MWC. It's still a few weeks out before the Barcelona trade show, but already things are starting to heat up in the kitchen.
On the Android front, Galaxy S7 silly season is in full swing. We've got Galaxy S7 benchmarks that don't matter (and might not even be real), and the rumored return of the microSD card slot on the Galaxy S7. And in companies not called Samsung, it looks like Android 6.0 Marshmallow is in testing for both HTC phones and Honor devices. The BlackBerry Priv also started hitting other carriers in the US, with T-Mobile up first.
Samsung's not the only smartphone company making the rumor rounds: the iPhone 7 is going to be the continued topic of conversation for months to come, but the iPhone 5se might get here first. iPhone silly season is the longest silly season of all. And in addition to updates to iOS 9 and OS X Yosemite, Apple pushed out an enormous update to GarageBand for iPad and the new artist-centric Music Memos.
And then there's Microsoft, who set the date for their Build 2016 developer conference and promptly sold out. At the same time, firmware updates came out for the 3rd-generation Surface tablets, Dropbox released a new universal app for Windows 10, and the first previews of the Xbox February update began to arrive.
All that and more, this week on Mobile Nations!
Windows Central — Updates wanted
Microsoft is pushing on with OS updates, Surface news and their Build conference set to kick off at the end of March.
First up is Build, which is taking place once again in San Francisco on March 30. Tickets went on sale for developers but within one to five minutes the event was sold out. The $2k tickets went faster than expected and leaving many developers a little peeved. Luckily, the event is streamed, and dev sessions later will be available for online viewing. Additionally, Microsoft won't be giving away any free hardware to attendees and will instead focus on offering more developer sessions at the event.
The Surface 3 and Surface Pro 3 picked up a rather significant firmware update. Newer Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book owners, however, are still waiting for their fix for ongoing power issues. Additionally, 1TB editions of the Surface Book and Surface Pro 4 also went on sale. Microsoft also did a voluntary recall of some Surface AC power plugs.
Dropbox has a new universal Windows 10 app that is part of their renewed partnership with Microsoft. HERE Maps and apps finally returned to Windows 10 Mobile after a bug fix.
Rounding things out was the Xbox February update, which is now rolling out to insider preview members.
- Review of the Orange and Blue replacement shells for the Lumia 950 and Lumia 950 XL
- Microsoft Lumia 650 announcement delayed until mid-February
- Windows 10 build 10586.71 update due this Tuesday, may come to Mobile Insiders too
Android Central — Something for everyone
There was a solid mix of news this week, offering a little bit for everyone. On the app front, Pocket Casts released a big update, Link Bubble has been re-released as the Brave browser and WhatsApp is dropping its annual subscription fee.
In terms of phone software, Marshmallow updates are in testing or on their way for both HTC's recent flagships and several Honor phones in the UK.
The Galaxy S7 speculation is growing a bit, and we're doing our best to analyze some of the available rumors. This week we explain why we don't care about benchmarks, and what an SD card slot could mean in the new flagship.
- Honor 5X review
- Under Armour HealthBox review
- Under Armour Headphones Wireless review
- These apps work with Marshmallow's Fingerprint APIs
CrackBerry — T-Priv
This week was unsurprisingly filled with quite a bit of Priv news as BlackBerry continues to expand the device availability. T-Mobile has revealed their pricing, we're expecting a launch in India soon and several other carriers are now offering the device. In other news, BlackBerry has shut down the Built for BlackBerry app program for developers and AtHoc has scored another win.
- BlackBerry Priv will cost $720 up front at T-Mobile for its Jan. 26 launch
- The Built for BlackBerry program for app developers has ended
- Department of Veterans Affairs selects BlackBerry's AtHoc to power its crisis communications
iMore — iPhones, Apple Watches, and Updates, Oh My!
This week at iMore, we saw rumors over the iPhone 7 and wireless charging and a smaller iPhone 5se, Georgia Dow gave us a primer on iOS 9.3's new Night Shift feature, and Serenity bemoaned the state of Google Drive on the iPad Pro.
We also saw a few new releases from Apple: iOS 9.2.1 and OS X 10.11.3 brought security fixes and bug updates, while the new Music Memos app and GarageBand update for iPad Pro had Serenity singing.
On the Apple Watch side, we heard more rumors about what to expect this March, and for those willing to drop $1100 on an Apple Watch, the Hermes model is now available online.
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Derek Kessler is Special Projects Manager for Mobile Nations. He's been writing about tech since 2009, has far more phones than is considered humane, still carries a torch for Palm, and got a Tesla because it was the biggest gadget he could find. You can follow him on Twitter at @derekakessler.
A lot to catch up
Never get it why there's an entire website for Blackberry news.
Blackberry is a mobile os? I don't understand why you don't get this, considering that this site is also part of Mobile Nations. In addition, I guess you are unaware that Windows Central used to be WP Central...
I'm aware, I'm here for some time. I doubt it Blackberry will be launching another Blackberry OS phone again, even they saying otherwise. They're now just another Android OEM.
I understand what you are saying, but since it is still blackberry hardware, and bb os isn't totally dead, I don't see that as a reason to kill the blog.
Not exactly true... Blackberry has shifted focus away from BBOS and more towards what's actually always been their strength: secure systems. Blackberry phones have never really been cutting edge phones... that's not why people have been buying them - it's because they have a secure services platform that the other three can't really match (yet), What Blackberry's been up to is to isolate out the secure part and make it more available as a service on any platform, rather than tying it to their hardware.
But the priv is android so no so secure? Or is it a special version?
"the iPhone 7 is going to be the continued topic of conversation for months to come" I appreciate that comment popping up in an article about "the silly season"... but given that Apple releases a new iPhone every year and the tech blogs start writing about the next one about a month after the current one is released - either the silly season is 11 months long or it's always silly season with Apple products...