Week in Tech: Google says Allo – but will Lumia wave goodbye?


Fancy travelling at seven times the speed of sound while wearing a Google-branded VR headset, an Android Wear 2 smartwatch and playing the latest game from Metal Gear creator Hideo Kojima? Then have we got news for you: this week's Week in Tech has hypersonic flight, Google's gadget future, a whole world of wearables and some interesting Kojima news too.

IO, IO, it's off to Google we go

Google held its annual IO event this week, and while nobody threw anybody out of an aeroplane to demo Google Glass, there was plenty of tech to get excited about. From a super-powered replacement for Google Now to an Amazon Echo rival and a bunch of new messaging apps, we've rounded up the most important IO announcements for your excitement and delightment.

Will you want to wear Wear 2?

Google's still convinced that wearable tech is part of our hyper-connected future, and it's made some big changes to Android Wear. Version 2.0 is the first big update to the wearable OS, and it introduces improved connectivity, improved messaging, better fitness options and a whole bunch of watch faces. Gareth Beavis knows everything you need to know.

Allo allo, what's all this then?

Google continues its not-confusing-at-all policy of launching new messaging apps with Allo and Duo, which are both coming to iOS and Android. Allo – not, sadly, named after the cheesy UK sitcom Allo Allo – is designed to take care of all your messaging needs – including replying on your behalf – while Duo is for video chat. James Peckham and Parker Wilhelm explain what's new, and what it means for Hangouts.

What a day for a Daydream

Google Cardboard has a new, less cardboardy pal: Daydream, a Google-designed VR headset that will be made by third-party manufacturers. It's likely to be teamed with a new VR-friendly Nexus phone, and it's aimed squarely at the likes of Samsung's Gear VR and Facebook's Oculus Rift. Cameron Faulkner explains what Google's up to.

Guess who's back?

Hands up who loved Nokia phones back in the day? Well, now they're back! Back! BACK! A new company, HMD, has been created as a subsidiary of Foxconn to bring the Nokia brand back. Back! BACK! And there's good news for anybody who'd rather not run Windows on their Nokia: they'll be running Android. As John McCann points out, there's a lot of love for Nokia out there – here's hoping HMD doesn't take it for granted.

Guess who's borked?

Hands up who loves Nokia phones running Windows and who isn't Stephen Elop? Hmmm, as we thought – so it's no surprise that Microsoft appears to be canning its Lumia phone business. Gareth Beavis thinks it's doing so to concentrate on the Surface brand, with a high-spec Surface in the works – although given Intel's recent retreat from the smartphone market, we're curious about the processors that would power it.

Hideo and seek

Metal Gear creator Hideo Kojima has been searching for something – and as Hugh Langley reports, we now know that something was a new game engine. "Speaking to an audience at Nordic Game 2016, Kojima revealed that the first game to be made by his independent studio, Kojima Productions, will use a third-party engine – although he didn't disclose which one." Kojima also told the conference that the first game will be bigger than he first envisioned. So there you have it: whatever it is, it's going to be big.

PC Dooooooooooom

Doom was hitting the headlines this week – and not just because of the excellent and ultra-violent reboot of the videogame classic. PC sales are continuing to take shotgun rounds to the face, although there's a glimmer of cheeriness in the form of Chromebooks, which are outselling Macs in the US. They're a lot cheaper than Macs, of course, but we'll take any good news we can get.

How rubbish is your broadband? Netflix knows

Fed up with buffering? Don't blame Netflix: blame your ISP. That appears to be the motivation behind Netflix's new internet speed test, which can tell you your download rate on mobile and fixed line connections. It's not the first such service – everybody's used Speedtest.net already – but the Netflix test is purely focused on streaming performance.

Feelin' hypersonic, bring us gin and tonic

Supersonic flight is so 20th Century – the 21st is all about hypersonic travel, with rockets promising to hurl us around the globe seven times faster than the speed of sound. As Duncan Geere explains: "The next generation of air travel just got a step closer, with the successful completion of a rocket test in the Australian desert that could one day lead to flights from London to Sydney taking as little as two hours." It'll still take longer than that to get through security, though.

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