Week in Tech: Chu Detective, why Alphabet rules, and the multi-million dollar keyboard


This week we discovered that everything can change in an instant. One minute you're the hot favourite for the top political job; the next, you're regretting those tweets in which you called everybody losers. And it's the same in tech. This week we saw Apple knocked from its perch as the world's most valuable company, and we saw a family favourite go to a very dark place indeed. It's Week in Tech!

Google is good, Apple is doomed

Something interesting happened in the world of tech: Alphabet, Google's parent company, became more valuable than Apple – which means it became the world's most valuable company. We're using the past tense because Apple quickly recaptured the lead, which is based on share valuations rather than anything sensible, but it's still significant: Apple has been far ahead of Google since 2010, and most of its valuation is reliant on a single product, the iPhone. Alphabet is much more diverse, which means it's less exposed to shocks should one of its key products hit some obstacles.

Apple's March event: what to expect

Apple's next big launch event will take place on March 15, and while it won't be about the iPhone 7 – that's set for an Autumn reveal – we should see some interesting new devices. Multiple reports say there will be a 4-inch iPhone 5SE to replace the iPhone 5S, a four-speaker iPad Air 3 to update the main iPad range, and new Apple Watch bands. An updated Watch may be on the cards too, but if it happens it'll be a tweaked S model rather than a brand new version. As always we'll have the full details as soon as Tim Cook shows them off.

LG G5: launch date and new leaks

The LG G5 launch is so close we can almost touch it: the firm has confirmed a February 21 event at MWC 2016, and a bevy of new leaks suggest it will have some pretty tasty features. There are two rear cameras, a removable battery, a metal design and – most intriguingly of all – a "mysterious hardware expansion slot". That's not its official name, but it'd be great if it was. We've collated all the latest rumours and renders, and put them on our LG G5 page for your excitement and delightment.

Could you be the most beautiful phone in the world?

Well, no. But the new Vaio Phone Biz more than compensates for its awful name by being the best-looking Windows Phone ever made. And while that may sound like faint praise, akin to "the world's most sarcastic Yorkshireman" or "least irritating YouTube vlogger", the Biz really is rather pretty. Vaio used to be Sony's high-end brand, but the computing and phone arm was sold off and is now its own company, fully independent of the Japanese giant. If its designs stay as interesting as this, the Vaio name could be destined for greatness once more.

Microsoft: the future of phones and football

You don't need a Windows Phone to benefit from Microsoft's technology: it's coming for your iPhone and Android, and for your face. First we discovered that Microsoft had bought Swiftkey, the predictive keyboard developer, and then we saw Microsoft's vision for "immersive sports entertainment": using Hololens to watch the Super Bowl. And the two stories are more connected than they seem. The Swiftkey keyboard is great, but what Microsoft is really after is the developer's artificial intelligence smarts – smarts that could one day help Hololens decide what to show you, or help power virtual assistants.

D'oh, d'oh good

The internet is pretty good, but when it comes to finding the perfect Simpsons image to illustrate your meme it's not great. Hurrah, then, for Frinkiac, a Simpsons-specific search engine. As Stephen Lambrechts explains: "Pulling images from the first 15 seasons of The Simpsons (because we all know that absolutely nothing memorable has occurred in the seasons since), Frinkiac finds stills using the indexed subtitles of each episode." With three million stills in its database, even Homer should be able to get decent results.

Nintendo: Splatoon saves the day

Nintendo's financial results have been published, and while they're mainly what we expected – the Wii U hasn't suddenly rocketed to the top of the console sales charts – there's some good news among the numbers. With 40.6 million copies sold so far, the superbly entertaining Splatoon has outsold the PS4's Bloodborne and the Order: 1886 combined. As Hugh Langley reports: "Splatoon isn't the only one going strong. Super Mario Maker, which launched in September, has sold 3.34 million copies, while Mario Kart 8 has sold 7.24 million since May 2014. But it's Splatoon that should have Nintendo and its investors celebrating today… That a brand new IP has been so successful less than a year after launching is worth shouting about. The result of this, I hope, is that Nintendo will feel more confident in creating new IPs in the future."

True Detective… Pikachu?

Were you disappointed with season 2 of True Detective? So were we, until we discovered a dark and gritty police procedural in an unexpected place: the Nintendo 3DS. It turns out that Detective Pikachu is pretty dark stuff. Hugh Langley: "…we discover that Pikachu was once happy, munching on apples and bouncing around without a care in the world. Then one day he was in a car accident which killed his owner, leaving the little yellow guy wandering the streets, catcalling at women and yelling at cars… Without a translation we're not sure what he's saying. Something about waiting for a "real rain" to come and wash the scum off the streets, probably."

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