Week in Tech: Play Star Wars like a boss, own your Xbox and discover your Sky Q

Robot cats, emojis take over and why Apple's even more loaded

WiT

Did everyone have a happy World Toilet Day? Don't worry if you missed the biggest celebration in the sanitation year though – this week had plenty to offer. We had Star Wars! Frightening cats! Emojis confusing old people! A hint that's almost certainly nothing to do with Half-Life 3! And more! It's Week in Tech!

Can you feel the Force?

Star Wars Battlefront has arrived, but there are a few things you need to know before you suit up and start shooting: Hugh Langley has the five things you need to nail in order to stand the slightest chance of survival. His tips will turn you into a skilled fighter pilot in no time, and they'll help you boost your ranking and equipment as fast as possible too.

Cat's entertainment

Hasbro has a new product to go with the My Little Ponies and Play-Doh: what Parker Wilhelm calls "robotic pet cats fresh from the Uncanny Valley." As he explains, "The Joy For All Companion Pet Cat features soft fur and sensors that react to motion and petting. The cat purrs realistically, and can roll on its back when it wants a belly rub. The animatronic pet will even nuzzle close or doze off to simulate a particularly relaxed kitty-cat." The Joy For All Companion Cat is yours for US$99.99 (about £65, AU$141).

Apple: all your profits are belong to us

Tim Cook's favourite joke probably goes like this: "What's got two thumbs and 94% of global smartphone profits during the third quarter of the year? This guy!" That's an increase from 85% in 2014, and it's something Apple achieved while selling just 14.5% of the smartphone total for the quarter. By comparison, Samsung sold 24.5% of phones but raked in just 11% of the profits, and some firms made big losses. Where many firms dream of double digit profit margins, Apple's getting 37%.

More than words

The Oxford Dictionaries word of the year has been announced, and it isn't a word: it's the "face with tears of joy" emoji, which accounted for 20% of all emoji characters sent globally in 2015. Runners up included "ad blocker," "dark web," and "on fleek," none of which are single words either.

The Sky Q's the limit

Sky has unveiled the future of its set-top box: Sky Q, which you can use to watch four shows at once while recording another one. Hang on, that's the wrong way round. It records four shows at once while you're watching something else. But that's not all. As Patrick Goss explains, "At its heart, the new Sky Q service brings with it a hugely enhanced version of the Sky+ box, but also introduces a whole new UI, some killer features for those who buy extra boxes and, perhaps most significantly, the ability to transfer your recordings to your tablet or phone.

Of course, all of this will come at a cost – which has yet to been revealed – but we've been mightily impressed with what we've seen so far."

Does HTC have Half-Life 3?

Probably not, but it's hinting at something big: "There's going to be a big story and we're excited to share it," says HTC's senior manager of product marketing for VR. The imminent HTC Vive headset has been developed in partnership with Half-Life developer Valve, so hopes for a VR episode in the franchise – or if we can't have that, a VR Left for Dead – are high. We're warning you, HTC: if this turns out to be some crappy sports sim we're going to have words.

I scream, you scream, we all scream for Graphene

Is there anything graphene can't do? Apparently not: the miracle material's latest application is in batteries that could power your smartphone for a week between chargese. And that's not all: it could also be used in the manufacture of synthetic skin for people with prosthetics, and to help create new kinds of building materials. Not bad for a material that's just one atom thick.

Own the Xbox One

Like its predecessor, the Xbox One has just been given a major, much-needed overhaul. Microsoft calls it the New Xbox One Experience (NXE), and in addition to some interface tweaks there are new features including cross-platform gaming, a much more sensible OneGuide and a new side panel that reminds us of the Xbox 360 dashboard. Dom Resiegh-Lincoln explains how to get it, and how to use it once you've got it.

The best Black Friday bargains – before Black Friday

Black Friday may be a week away but the deals have already started, and we're seeing significant savings on big-ticket items such as the iPhone 6S and the PlayStation 4. James Rivington has your guide to the best deals around and we're not letting him out of the office until the last Cyber Monday deal is claimed in a week-and-a-bit's time.

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