Week in Tech: Watch out, Apple's back and bigger than ever

Bringing up the curtain in Cupertino

Week in Tech Apple comes back big

What's black and white and gold and completely invisible? The iPhone 6, if you were trying to watch Apple's live stream as it unveiled the biggest phones it's ever built. Apple also unveiled the long-rumoured iWatch, now called the Apple Watch, and a new way to pay called - yes! - Apple Pay.

Elsewhere Microsoft mulled the end of Windows Phone and the acquisition of Minecraft while Tesco saw Amazon's Fire Phone disaster and promptly canned its own smartphone plans. It's a particularly fun-packed Week in Tech!

The joy of six

In news that surprised exactly nobody, Apple launched the iPhone 6 in two variants: a big one and a bigger one. The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus have similar internals but different screen sizes, batteries, cameras and prices - the Plus is £100 more expensive - and David Nield has put together a handy guide to the important differences between the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus.

Space this watch

If you've ever wanted a watch that showed you planet earth instead of the time, you're in luck: the new Apple Watch has more faces than a politician and comes in a dizzying range of options. There are two sizes, six models and a bajillion different straps, and there's even an 18-carat gold option for the important celebrity and sheikh sectors.

We're still not convinced that smartwatches are anything more than an accessory rather than the future of computing, but as Gareth Beavis says, the Apple Watch is "probably one of the best smartwatches [almost] on the market."

Apple Pay pals

Pundits have been predicting NFC-enabled iPhones since 1832, and they're finally right: the iPhone 6 and Apple Watch have Apple Pay, an NFC-based payment system that enables you to buy things in the real world with a wave. It's currently US-only and while it's simple and effective, we can't help worrying that outside the US it'll be as useful, popular and widely supported as Apple's Passbook e-ticketing system.

Microsoft: let's dump Nokia and kill Windows Phone

Don't worry, they only mean the names. A leaked internal document says that Microsoft is abandoning the much-loved Nokia brand and the considerably less loved Windows Phone brand in favour of new names. No, not "please buy our phone" and "please, please, please buy our phone". The favoured new brands will be Lumia and Windows respectively.

(D)Rifting into view

Having taken the latest version of the Oculus Rift out for a spin ourselves, we can tell that the polished consumer version can't be too far away. This week we learned that it could be arriving as early as April 2015, though our sources tell us that date might be pushed back into the summer.

They also revealed that Oculus VR is planning to pull a Google Glass by launching the Rift in a public beta. We suspect there will be some sort of registration system, with only a lucky few getting their hands on the consumer-ready head-mounted display in its first wave.

A Notch in Microsoft's belt

Remember those ads where Victor Kiam liked a shaver so much he bought the company? Microsoft appears to feel the same about Minecraft. Microsoft is reportedly close to sealing a $2 billion deal that will make creator Markus "Notch" Persson a very rich man indeed.

The best of the best

It seems like the IFA gadget show was just a week ago, and that's because it was. Now the dust has settled and we've finally got some sleep, we've taken a look back at the very best tech IFA had to offer - and we've also picked out the unsung heroes, the tech that might not have hit the headlines but that may well find a place in your heart. It might even make the Bluetooth earpiece cool again.

Not every Hudl helps

And finally, one for all you UK-based folk: Remember Tesco's plans to make a Hudl smartphone? You can forget them again: in a move that's in no way connected with Amazon's Fire phone being a complete disaster, it's decided not to make its own smartphone after all. Maybe it'll get round to making a Passbook-compatible Clubcard instead.

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