Week in Tech: Samsung goes VR crazy, and Musk is heading for Mars

Week in Tech

You can't accuse tech firms of lacking vision. This week we discovered that Samsung's gearing up to provide an entire ecosystem of virtual reality products, and that Tesla's Elon Musk wants to colonise Mars. We also learned about the imminent end of the Wii U, how Pokemon works in Augmented Reality and that HTC would quite like to sell some smartphones – and we wondered whether Apple's extraordinary iPhone sales streak is finally coming to an end. It's a particularly futuristic Week in Tech!

Samsung's VR vision

Could Samsung become the king of virtual reality? It's certainly aiming for that position, unveiling yet more components of a VR ecosystem that encompasses smartphones, headsets, and now 360-degree VR filming. Samsung's new 360-degree video camera will go on sale in April, using two cameras in a sphere to record VR-friendly content, and the device integrates tightly with the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge phones. We don't have full price info yet, but in Europe it'll be €350, which is about £271/$400/AU$515.

HTC: 10 out of 10?

Does the new HTC 10 get 10 out of 10 in our review? Not quite: we've docked a few points for a less than impressive camera, buggy system software and disappointing audio. "HTC has put all the right bits in here," says our smartphone supremo Gareth Beavis says, but it "only partly delivers". It's "technically very able but doesn't offer a massive wow factor". Check out our full HTC 10 review.

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

Mark your calendars: Google IO 2016 developer conference takes place from May 18-20. It's when Google sets out its stall for the year ahead, and it's going to be fascinating. We'll see much more of Android N, which is the next generation of Android, and the latest Android Wear devices and software – possibly improved iPhone compatibility – as well as self-driving cars, modular mobiles and sharks with frickin' laser beams. Okay, maybe not that last one. Expect lots of buzz around Chrome and Android cross-compatiblity, lots of smart home tech and some eye-popping VR demos.

Apple financials: mo' money, mo' problems

Were last year's soaraway iPhone sales a blip, or has Apple reached peak iPhone? Analysts are consulting the tea leaves and reading the runes after Apple's latest financial results, which showed a drop in iPhone sales. They're still doing staggering numbers, but the numbers aren't as staggering as they were last year. But even if, after 13 years, Apple's amazing sales streak is starting to slow, the iPhone is still one of the most extraordinary successes in tech history – and Apple still has enough money to wage war on Jupiter.

Pokemon is Go, but the Wii U is going

Fancy playing with Pokemon in the real world? You'll be able to do just that very soon with Pokemon Go, an augmented reality app for smartphones. James Peckham explains: "Nine minutes of leaked gameplay footage has revealed more about how the upcoming augmented reality game Pokémon Go will work. Pokémon Go… will let us catch monsters in the wild using our smartphones and fulfil our destinies as Pokémon masters."

But while it's all Go for Pokemon, Nintendo has confirmed what we'd already guessed: the Wii U's days are numbered. The Nintendo NX is still nearly a year away, but production of the Wii U will cease a year after the NX launches – so the Wii will be RIP in March 2018. Here's hoping the Nintendo NX is brilliant, because some analysts are already predicting that "it is not going to be very good".

Musk's mission to Mars

If you thought SpaceX's recent orbital adventures were impressive, you ain't seen nothing yet: the firm, founded by Tesla's Elon Musk, is planning to send a rocket to Mars – and it plans to do it in the next two years. As Matt Swider explains: "Landing a reusable spacecraft on Mars is just the first step for SpaceX CEO Elon Musk who, earlier this year, said he wanted humans to colonize Mars by 2025." Humans won't be on the first flight, however: Musk "wouldn't recommend transporting astronauts beyond Earth-Moon region" in spaceships with the "internal volume size of an SUV".

CSI Caveman

How's this for a cold case: scientists are using forensic analysis techniques on footprints dating back 3.6 million years. They aren't trying to solve a crime, though – they're using software normally used for crime scene analysis to discover how our ancestors walked. Duncan Geere explains that "researchers from Bournemouth University have used modern forensic footprint analysis techniques to decouple the tracks on the merged trail, revealing information about the body mass, height and walking speed of the creatures that made them". The information it offers is "incredible", researchers say.

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