Hey folks! We're getting to that part of the year where we get our first glances at the flagship devices that'll arrive next year, and this week has really delivered. Check out these stories in the article below, and much more!
First in-screen fingerprint reader revealed
Samsung to ship Galaxy S9 earlier than expected
iPhone X gets untethered jailbreak
New Microsoft patents reveal rumoured 'smart notepad'
Let's take a look!
First in-screen fingerprint reader to come from Vivo
Chinese smartphone maker Vivo is the first to demonstrate Synaptic's new in-screen fingerprint reader working in a phone. Forbes has reported that the sensor was 'fast and simple' after using a pre-production model, which uses a 0.7mm sensor embedded within the screen. Vivo isn't well known in the Western world, but it's a subsidiary of BBK Electronics alongside the better-known Oppo and OnePlus; alone Vivo is the sixth biggest phone brand in the world, and combined these three brands would rank fourth. It'll be interesting to see if Synaptics' solution will come to phones from these brands in the future -- maybe even the OnePlus 6?
Google Maps adds 'this is your stop!' notifications on iOS & Android
Google Maps has been updated with a helpful new feature for public transport: push notifications that appear when you're approaching your stop. It's easy to get complacent while travelling by bus or train, particularly if you're listening to music or reading the news, so this should help users break their reverie and get off at the right time. It could also be quite useful for travelling in unfamiliar areas, where you might not be familiar with what different stops look like. In any case, you can find the updated version of Google Maps on iOS and Android now.
Samsung to ship Galaxy S9 early
A new report from Bloomberg suggests that Samsung will announce their Galaxy S9 in February and start shipping in March, around a month earlier than the usual yearly cycle. The S9 and S9 Plus will be iterative upgrades over the S8 and S8 Plus, with newly announced Snapdragon 845 processors, improved cameras and a slightly relocated rear fingerprint sensor. Renders of the phone are shown above, courtesy of @OnLeaks.
Samsung's Bixby smart speaker will arrive by June
According to Bloomberg, Samsung's new Bixby-powered smart speaker will debut in the first half of next year. The speaker is intended to aim more for the higher end of the market, like Google's Home Max and Apple's HomePod, and will include integration with smart home appliances and Samsung products of all kinds. The report mentions one prototype, which used coloured lights like the Google Home, available in different colours for around £200.
New Galaxy A8 phones to come with dual front-facing cameras
According to a user manual uploaded to Samsung's support website, spotted by Android Police, its upcoming A8 and A8 Plus smartphones will come with unique dual front-facing cameras. That will allow the phones to do cool DSLR-style portrait mode selfies, unlike most other phones with portrait mode that largely work best with the rear camera. The phones will also come with a modern 18:9 aspect ratio screen with skinny bezels, and a rear fingerprint sensor below the rear camera -- a better location than that of the Galaxy S8 and Note 8. It's also likely that we'll see at least some of these features in the Galaxy S9, Galaxy S9+ and Note 9 later next year. The A8 and A8 Plus will replace this year's A5 and A7 smartphones, and should be announced by February.
Alibaba researchers reveal iPhone X jailbreak on latest iOS version
Chinese researchers working at ecommerce giant Alibaba have jailbroken the latest version of iOS running on an iPhone X. The researchers state that their untethered jailbreak works equally well on iOS 11.2 and 11.2.1, which was released just recently. Unfortunately, news of the the Alibaba exploit didn't include many technical details, and the researchers have no plans to release the jailbreak publicly. It's still possible that other developers might still find some inspiration and release the jailbreak more widely, but I wouldn't hold my breath if I were you.
New Microsoft patents add fuel to foldable smart notepad fire
The Verge reports that Microsoft recently filed patents that appear to show their rumoured foldable smart notepad. The patent's illustrations show a device with a unique hinge that joins two screens, allowing the device to fold into a traditional laptop or into a tent-shaped alarm clock. There's no guarantee that this device will actually make it to market -- a long rumoured Surface Mini was abruptly cancelled after years of development -- but it's a heartening sign that we're continuing to find new morsels like this.
Thanks for checking out This Week's Headlines! Let me know what you think of these stories in the comments below!
Will is a gadget fanatic, working from cafes and gadget-infused mega-hovels to turn caffeine into technology articles. Follow him on Twitter @wsjudd.