Nokia shocks, Galaxy Gears and all things IFA
6th Sep 2013 | 12:50
Big news, bigger phones and Samsung's smartwatch
You know those weeks where you get a year's worth of news in just seven days? This is one of those weeks. We've got so much news there's barely room for sarcasm and jokes!
First up, the not-entirely-shocking news that Microsoft is buying Nokia's phone business. As Nick Broughall explains, "According to the men who orchestrated the deal, the real advantage will be the accelerated growth of the company's mobile device offering." Nokia keeps its mapping and services, but Microsoft gets the Lumia and Asha lines.
"The big question is whether it'll work," says our columnist Gary Marshall. "There's another famous firm that makes the hardware, makes the OS and runs the App store - a firm that isn't doing nearly as well as Apple." Its name, of course, is SORRY WE'RE OUT OF TIME TOO MUCH NEWS.
This week, we also learned the Xbox One release date: it's going to trail the PlayStation 4 in America, but beat it by a week in Europe.
Oh, and in a move that shocked and saddened Key Lime Pie fans everywhere, Google announced that Android 4.4 will be known as KitKat. It's even teamed up with Nestle for the whole thing. So much for not being evil, eh?
Gearing up for a watch war
We might be days away from seeing Apple's legendary and quite possibly fictional iWatch, so the announcement of Samsung's Galaxy Gear smartwatch may be something of a spoiler.
This isn't Samsung's first smartwatch - as our in-depth guide to the surprisingly long history of the smartwatch points out, the Galaxy Gear is Samsung's third major attempt at such a device - but it's definitely the smartest one yet.
Is it any good? Only one man knows the answer, and his name is Gareth Beavis. In our Galaxy Gear review, he explains that the odds are stacked against it - "it's going to be pricier than a lot of mid-range smartphones out there" - and it suffers from a "laggy and buggy interface."
The styling is odd: "We're willing to bet it's going to be tough to convince a number of consumers to shell out for this new device." That's partly because for now, it only works with the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 or the new Galaxy Note 10.1.
Also, it's a horse.
Explain yourself, Gary Marshall! "Henry Ford famously said that he didn't ask people what they wanted, because they would have asked for faster horses. The Galaxy Gear is a faster horse," he says.
It's essentially Samsung's 2009 smartwatch, the S9110, given an update: that "was a fine piece of engineering, but it wasn't a paradigm-shifting, world-changing, envelope-pushing, category-defining sensation, which is why you almost certainly aren't wearing one on your wrist right now."
For Marshall, the magic is missing. "Where's the wow?" he asks. "Where's the killer app?" What would turn a smartwatch from an interesting and unnecessary accessory to something you'd sell your grandmother for? Maybe it's OH NO TIME FOR MORE NEWS!
On to Berlin
IFA. What does it stand for? It's a mystery, unless you look it up. The annual Internationale FunkAusstellung Berlin, or international radio exhibition Berlin, is the world's largest consumer electronics show - so naturally we were all over this year's exhibits like a thing that's all over a thing.
There were so many exciting new products at this year's IFA that you could fill a giant exhibition in Berlin with them. There was the Sony HMZ-T3W, an amazing if expensive 3D gaming headset. There was the LG G Pad 8.3, a nifty little slate. There was the new Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 2 Pro, a Windows laptop/tablet hybrid.
There was the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 and Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 2014. And there were new smartphones, tablets and laptops from pretty much everyone, not to mention 4K TVs, smartwatches and some really intriguing screenless cameras.
Naturally you'll find all the details in our exhaustive guide to IFA 2013, which COME IN, WEEK IN TECH! YOUR TIME IS UP!