This Week in Tech: Buggy iPhones, Windows 11, Amazon announcements, and more
The past week has been a bit quiet in the world of tech, though that’s because it was the calm before the storm of next week’s Android 12 and Windows 11 launches. Ahead of those OS launches, we’ve seen both Google and Microsoft continue to build up to the launches with new software updates. On top of that, we’ve seen some problematic iPhones, a plethora of Amazon hardware announcements, and, the biggest news, a hands-on of Android 12.1 — before Android 12 is even here. If you missed any of our coverage, here’s a brief recap of all the significant developments in the tech world this week.
Hands-on with Android 12.1
We got our first hands-on with Android 12.1 this week, and it has a lot of features exclusive to large screen devices like foldable phones. Given that Android 12 isn’t even out yet, this is a pretty big deal. It’s possible that Google plans to release its upcoming Pixel Fold device soon with this new OS version and all the new foldable features therein, but we don’t know when Google plans to launch the Pixel Fold nor do we know when Google plans to release Android 12.1.
New iPhone bugs and problems
The iPhone 13 series has been plagued with issues since its release, though most of them will likely be fixed soon. While there have been smaller issues where users couldn’t use the “unlock with Apple Watch” feature, for example, that’s not all there was. Some iPhone 13 users had trouble connecting to Verizon’s 5G UW network, and third-party apps couldn’t properly make use of the 120Hz display rate on the iPhone 13 Pro series out-of-the-box. The most troubling of all, though, was the discovery that, even when replacing the display with official hardware, a third-party screen replacement completely disables face ID on the iPhone 13.
Windows 11 updates
Microsoft is preparing for the full release of Windows 11, which will also arrive next week. In preparation, Microsoft rolled out Windows 11 build 22468 with VPN setting improvements. As well, you can now remove recent searches when hovering over the search icon. The rest of the changelog was pretty much just comprised of fixes.
The company also recently showed off the new Windows 11 media player… albeit accidentally, so they attempted to hide it. Since this is the Internet, that was obviously never going to work. The new app was simply titled “Media Player” and had the option to shuffle the current playlist or skip tracks. These aren’t common features to see in a video player, so it’s possible that Microsoft is unifying the video and music player experiences in Windows 11. We’ll find out next week, though.
We also saw the company roll out a new Paint app for Windows 11 Insiders. Microsoft is calling this a “modern spin on the classic app”, and that basically sums it up. With Windows 11, Paint is getting its first proper visual overhaul in a long, long time. It’s adding things like rounded corners and Mica. There’s also a new toolbar, new icons, and dropdown menus for brushes. Sure, it’s mostly a visual refresh, but it’s an app that a lot of people have used over the years.
In a surprising move that might have been influenced by the Epic Games v. Apple/Google kerfuffle, Microsoft has announced that third-party web browsers and app stores can be served in the Microsoft store. You read that right; third-party app stores (so, the likes of the Epic Games Store) can be distributed through the Microsoft Store. In other craziness too, the company announced a lot of new Skype features, which is surprising as I’m sure many people thought that the company had abandoned the video calling platform in favor of Microsoft Teams. Speaking of Teams, Teams Phone also got a handful of new features for more modernized calling.
A bunch of Amazon product announcements
Amazon announced a ton of new products, the craziest of which is the Amazon Astro robot that follows you around your house. It costs $999 right now but will be priced at $1,449.99 in the future. Yeah, yikes. Apparently, it might not even be worth the price as rumors suggest it likes to throw itself down the stairs at any given opportunity.
The company launched a few other products, too, including:
- Amazon’s Echo Show 15 is a giant smart display you can hang on the wall
- Amazon’s new smart thermostat and video doorbell are cheap options for smart home beginners
- Amazon’s Ring Alarm Pro is a hub for Ring cameras and an Eero Wi-Fi 6 all-in-one
Google app and feature updates
Google has been working on many things recently. From new Personal Safety app features to a brand-new search widget for Google Maps, there’s been quite a lot. The company also held its annual Search On conference, where it announced AI improvements for both Google Lens and Google Search. You can check out some of the other Google-related announcements below.
- Google Chrome gets Drive suggestions on its new tab page
- You can now use animated backgrounds on Google Meet for Android
- Use the new Google Illustrations tool to create a custom Gmail profile picture
- Overcome language barriers with Live translated captions in Google Meet
- You can now add image watermarks in Google Docs
Other stories you should read
Along with these noteworthy announcements, we shared the following stories that you might have missed:
- Nintendo basically denies that it’s making a 4K Switch Pro
- Some Samsung phones can now be used as a car key, but support is limited
- iPad Mini 6 owners report experiencing the infamous jelly scrolling effect
- NBC’s fight with YouTube TV is why everyone should have a TV antenna
- Found a lost AirTag? Be careful when you scan it
- Samsung removes ads from Samsung Pay & Samsung Health, more to follow
- Here’s how much the Google Pixel 6 could cost
- The FCC is finally stepping in to fight SIM swapping scams
- USB-C cables and devices will soon show how fast they can charge
XDA’s thoughts on the latest hardware and software
Additionally, we published our hands-on of the Vivo X70 Pro Plus, a hands-on with Android 12 Developer Preview 2 on the OnePlus 9 Pro, and more.
- Apple iPhone 13 Pro vs Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra: Camera Shootout and Comparison
- Hands-on with Android 12 DP 2 on the OnePlus 9 Pro: OxygenOS makes way for ColorOS
- Vivo X70 Pro+ First Impressions: Flagship Cameras to watch out for
- Flexispot Kana Pro Bamboo Standing Desk review: Standing desks are the new staple in my life