The most popular stories on BetaNews this past week - January 19 -- 25

Handset news aplenty this week. The Nokia Lumia 929 appeared for sale in China, and also showed up on Verizon's US website under the Nokia Lumia Icon name before quietly disappearing. None of this did anything to improve Windows Phone sales for Nokia which were found to be disappointing. Figures released this week showed that phablets are going to become increasingly popular as user look to merge smartphones and tablets in to a single device. It will probably come as little surprise that in the next few years it is predicted that mobile apps will be the most used software. Samsung Galaxy Note 3 owners were disappointed to find that upgrading to KitKat killed their ability to use third party accessories.

Ahead of the release of Update 1 to the operating system, Microsoft finally got around to releasing a guide to mastering Windows 8.1. So keen is Microsoft for you to learn more about Windows 8.1, a second batch of guides was released later in the week. And while you're becoming an expert Windows 8.1 user, Microsoft would like you to take a second look at Internet Explorer and rethink its web browser.

Microsoft fixed yet more problems with the Surface 2 via another update, but a new portable entered the fray as Toshiba's Chromebook became available for pre-order. An interesting debate about the future of Facebook was sparked by a Princeton paper.

Looking to be entertained? The Smart TV Box is an Android-driven media player released this week. If streaming media if your thing, the fastest broadband connection in the world could be what you need -- assuming you can speed-watch movies. Music fans gained a new service in the form of Beats Music, and while Android and iOS users could listen to their favorite artists straight away, Windows Phone users are still waiting. This wasn't just a week of new releases; LogMeIn Free was killed off, with users being herded towards the paid version of the software.

Anyone upset at the activities of the NSA is unlikely to have been placated by President Obama's proposed surveillance reform, which could ultimately amount to nothing. The annual list of popular passwords was released showing we're little better at taking steps to keep ourselves protected. Perhaps this is what contributed to the theft of the credit card details of millions and millions of South Koreans.

Two birthdays this week, so we'll finish on a happy note by wishing many happy returns to Vine which turned one, and the Mac which is now 30. Happy birthday to both!

Image Credit: vinz89 / Shutterstock

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