We already reported on this one yesterday, but it's official now: after a preliminary investigation, the EU has accused Ireland of providing illegal state aid to Apple by means of Apple-specific low tax rates which the EU states do not conform to market standards. In addition, while there are certain specific cases in which state aid is legal, none of those seem to apply in this case. These cases cover things like aid to severely impoverished regions, natural disaster relief, important projects of common European interest, and similar things.
At this stage, the Commission considers that the measure at issue appears to constitute a reduction of charges that should normally be borne by the entities concerned in the course of their business, and should therefore be considered as operating aid. According to the Commission practice, such aid cannot be considered compatible with the internal market in that it does not facilitate the development of certain activities or of certain economic areas, nor are the incentives in question limited in time, digressive or proportionate to what is necessary to remedy to a specific economic handicap of the areas concerned.
Possible fines, which could run in the billions of euros, would be on Apple. So, unlike what some of our readers vehemently claimed - "There is no possibility of a fine upon Apple whatsoever" - Apple could very well end up paying billions of euros.
The Commission wishes to remind Ireland that Article 108(3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union has suspensory effect, and would draw your attention to Article 14 of Council Regulation (EC) No 659/199935, which provides that all unlawful aid may be recovered from the recipient.
This is only the beginning. Several other companies and countries - Google, Starbucks, The Netherlands, Luxembourg - are also under investigation, and will likely face similar proceedings in the near future.
Chromebooks are fast, easy to use and secure. They bring the best of the cloud right to your desktop, whether that's Google Drive, Google+ Photos or Gmail. Today, in partnership with Adobe, we're welcoming Creative Cloud onto Chromebooks, initially with a streaming version of Photoshop. This will be available first to U.S.-based Adobe education customers with a paid Creative Cloud membership - so the Photoshop you know and love is now on Chrome OS. No muss, no fuss.
This streaming version of Photoshop is designed to run straight from the cloud to your Chromebook. It's always up-to-date and fully integrated with Google Drive, so there's no need to download and re-upload files - just save your art directly from Photoshop to the cloud. For IT administrators, it's easy to manage, with no long client installation and one-click deployment to your team's Chromebooks.
This is quite interesting - and a direct assault on Windows and OS X. We'll have to see just how well it works, but if it works well, and a lot of the heavy lifting is done server-side, it might a winner.
The European Union will accuse Apple of taking illegal aid from the Irish state through sweetheart tax deals over two decades, the Financial Times reported on Monday.
A European Commission investigation into Apple's tax affairs in Ireland, where it has a rate of less than 2%, has found that the company benefited from illegal state aid, the newspaper reported, citing sources close to the matter.
Nail these corporate criminals.
Since announcement of the BlackBerry Passport in Toronto, London and Dubai, there has been over 200,000 devices sold across Amazon and Shop BlackBerry. As noted by BlackBerry CEO John Chen on the Q2 2015 earnings call, the BlackBerry Passport has moved to the number one spot on the Amazon unlocked device list and sold out through ShopBlackBerry within the first six hours after sales had gone live.
I'm pretty sure all the really, really funny people are already making very, very funny jokes about these numbers compared to the quazillion iPhones Apple sold in three nanoseconds. We're all laughing. Really, we are.
So here I am on a battered PowerBook that will barely hold a charge, playing with classic Mac OS (version 9.2.2) and trying to appreciate the work of those who developed the software in the mid-to-late '90s (and to amuse my co-workers). We're now 12 years past Steve Jobs' funeral for the OS at WWDC in 2002. While some people still find uses for DOS, I'm pretty sure that even the most ardent classic Mac OS users have given up the ghost by now - finding posts on the topic any later than 2011 or 2012 is rare. So if there are any of you still out there, I think you're all crazy... but I'm going to live with your favorite OS for a bit.
Ars Technica rewrote the article I wrote eight years ago.
By now you may have heard about a new bug found in the Bash shell. And unless you're a programmer or security expert, you're probably wondering if you should really worry. The short answer is: Don't panic, but you should definitely learn more about it, because you may be in contact with vulnerable devices.
This bug, baptized "Shellshock" by Security Researchers, affects the Unix command shell "Bash," which happens to be one of the most common applications in those systems. That includes any machine running Mac OS X or Linux.
A very simple and straightforward explanation of this major new security issue. The OSNews servers were updated yesterday.
Apple has released iOS 8.0.2. It's available now via Settings > General > Update or over Lightning to USB tether to iTunes on your Mac or PC. This comes just one day after the iOS 8.0.1 update left iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus customers unable to use Touch ID or connect to cellular networks. Apple promised a fix within days and delivered it with a day.
Quick response by Apple.
Elizabeth Lopatto writing for The Verge:
Maybe I sound exasperated. I am. I cannot believe it is 2014, and threats against women are still treated as fundamentally unserious. Here's why: One in five U.S. women has been raped in her lifetime, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. One in six has been stalked. One in four women has experienced violence from a domestic partner. When women are murdered, two times out of five, the culprit is an intimate partner, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. Domestic violence is a leading cause of death for pregnant women, the CDC warns. So it's in our best interest to take threats seriously, even when they're coming from internet strangers, because we know women to be at extremely high risk for violence at the hands of men.
Threats make the internet unsafe for me, and for Emma Watson, and for a lot of other women, too. Ask Anita Sarkeesian. Ask Kathy Sierra. Ask Catherine Mayer, Lindy West, or Alyssa Royce. This isn't even an exhaustive list, it's just the first women that came to mind, because the sick thing is that this never stops. And honestly, if we - all of us - don't make it stop, it never will.
The treatment of women on the internet will remain a topic on OSNews until the problem is resolved, or the day I die - whichever comes first. I know from previous stories that many OSNews commenters would rather not face the harsh reality of the systematic mistreatment of women online - I have been disgusted with some of the comments posted - but those people can hit that little 'close tab' button and leave, because I don't want them here.
Today was the day! You marked it in your calendar, you counted down the nights, and last night, as you went to bed, your stomach had that tingly feeling you get when you're nervous about what that long-awaited day would bring. Yes, today, BlackBerry officially released the Passport - the first high-end smartphone with a proper keyboard in years. Since everything was already known about this device, let's go straight to CrackBerry's review:
The whole time I've been reviewing the BlackBerry Passport there's been a lingering thought in my head and I'm sure it's one I share with many of you all as well. How well is the BlackBerry Passport going to sell for BlackBerry? At the end of the day, or in this case at the end of the review, I really don't know but what I have decided is this. The BlackBerry Passport is just quirky enough, just odd enough to make people interested in it. Even during my review, I've had several people ask about the device, even a guy at the Apple Store (Yes, I was showing off) had questions about it and that's actually beneficial to BlackBerry. Just quirky enough, just odd enough, that people want to pick up the device and see what it is all about and well, BlackBerry needs that. Not enough people know BlackBerry 10 even exists, let alone the fact that's a great operating system. If their first experience on BlackBerry 10 is the BlackBerry Passport, I feel that's a good thing because even though it looks a little odd, it's a pretty complete package when all things are considered.
This pretty much sums up how I feel about the Passport (but obviously without actually having used it). It looks a little quirky - and therefore interesting - and I am very happy that at least someone has the gusto to try something new in the physical keyboard department. At this point, the Passport is literally the only high-end, modern smartphone with a hardware keyboard.
That's sad, but at least we have an option now.
One week after the launch of iOS 8, Apple has already released its first update for the new OS in iOS 8.0.1, which contains a slew of bug fixes.
But you shouldn't hit the install button yet. Soon after the update hit, an abnormally high number of users immediately started reporting that the iOS 8.0.1 update is breaking cellular reception and other features like TouchID. For those affected, "no service" is displayed after the update has been installed, and toggling airplane mode or powering the phone off and on again doesn't seem to be fixing it. We've reached out to Apple for comment on the situation.
Do not install this update. There's no way around it - these issues are very widespread. The iOS developers and ordinary users in my Twitter timeline are not pleased right now.
Debian switched to Xfce as the default desktop environment back in November 2013. But that didn't last long because a few days ago, Debian restored GNOME as the default desktop, based on preliminary results from the Debian Desktop Requalification for Jessie.
According to Joey Hess, the Debian developer who performed this change, the main reasons for Debian switching back to GNOME as the default desktop are related to accessibility and systemd integration.
I missed this one last week, so just pretend it's 17 September. AnandTech's in-depth review of iOS 8, probably the best one you'll read online. They conclude:
Despite my concerns, iOS 8 makes me feel excited for the future more than anything else. Apple's steps to open up more options for customization by developers and users on iOS marks a significant departure from their previous releases. It's not Android but it isn't meant to be. It brings new features and capabilities that are implemented in a very Apple-like manner, for better or for worse. I don't think it's going to do much to sway Android fans toward iOS, but it gives a lot of reason for current iOS users to stay with Apple. This is especially true for users who can take advantage of continuity. iOS 8 feels like another step in the maturation that began with iOS 7. Most exciting of all is that it's still only the beginning.
Like I said before: consolidation.
Chris Nacca has posted an interesting video, in which the startup times of applications are compared between a Nexus 5 (released about a year ago) and the brand new iPhone 6. As you can see in the video, application startup times are essentially the same between the two devices, and in both cases, applications open very quickly.
This raises an interesting question, more so because of this article I read on The Verge today, about some guy who was very depressed about his brand new iPhone 6 Plus because he couldn't use it with one hand. Aside from two obvious points - one, you have two hands, and two, didn't you know how big the phone was? - it struck me that with phones being used almost exclusively for very lightweight tasks, why would you rush out and buy the latest iPhone or Galaxy or whatever when it doesn't bring you any obvious benefit?
The iPhone 5S, or even the 5, is still a perfectly fine, fast, and capable phone, and other than getting a larger screen, upgrading to an iPhone 6 or 6 Plus will get you absolutely nothing. If even a year-old Nexus 5 that's only half the price gives you about the same performance when checking Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and so on, what's the point in spending $700-$900 on the new iPhone or Galaxy?
The video is not interesting because a Nexus 5 and iPhone 6 show equal application startup performance, but because it illustrates that the specifications race has already run its course. On desktop computers, newer machines at least give you better gaming performance, but on phones? Are you going to notice that little bit of extra AA or whatever the iPhone 6 is going to give you over the 5S?
Phones have really gotten into the numbers game, and it serves absolutely nobody, except the bank accounts of Apple and Samsung. The person in The Verge article is exactly how Apple and Samsung like their customers: rushing out to buy the latest and greatest phone, without giving it any obvious thought - not because they need it, but because they feel inferior if they don't have the latest and greatest, actual needs be damned.
Google has gone to valiant lengths to convince us that rumors of Google+’s demise have been greatly exaggerated, but Google is no longer forcing new Gmail users to connect their account to a Google+ profile - yet another move that could signal the end for Google’s troubled social network.
I think I speak for all of us when I say - well, nice of them to do something Google+-related right for a change.
In all seriousness - nobody asked for Google+, nobody wanted it, and virtually everyone hated it, and it does not solve any actual problem anyone had with Google products. It doesn't have to die, but it shouldn't be forced down our collective throats anymore.
Earlier this week, coder and game designer Jonathan Blow gave a presentation on his Twitch channel outlining his thoughts on why and how programmers might go about building a new programming language specifically for game development.
"We are literally killing ourselves every project, deathmarching to get games done," said Blow, during a Q&A segment. "It just really doesn't have to be anywhere near that bad -- at least for programmers."
The team is also responsible to promote and spruce up devices that are based on Tizen, an open-source mobile operating system built by Samsung. Tizen-based devices will be introduced in the Indian market in November. "It will coexist with the Android devices," he said.
A number 210 for Samsung, please.
Oh, right, there's an entirely new version of Android right around the corner. It could be days away, it could be weeks away. We're not totally sure what Google has planned for what is easily the most ambitious and promising update to the platform since Android 2.1. It's easy to forget that there's a whole new world right around the corner, because Android is in this seemingly constant state of change now. We have core apps updating on a regular and consistent bases, manufacturers pushing their apps to the Play Store in order to update them in a timely manner, and the beating heart of the platform is on a six week release cycle. Of all the incredible things that we saw and heard about at Google I/O this year, Sundar Pichai's announcement that Google Play Services would be updating and improving every six weeks is one of those things that didn't get nearly as much attention as it probably should have.
It really is quite remarkable. In some ways, Android is starting to faintly look like a rolling release, with more and more core smartphone applications, as well as several core smartphone APIs, updated continuously through Google Play. The pace is quick, and I like it.
Still, the Android update situation has not been resolved. There's a lot more work to do.
With all the hype and interest in wearables these past few months, you'd think more companies would be looking to compete with Google's Glass headset, but up until now that hasn't really been the case. Sony teased an alternative to Google's gear in the form of a SmartEyeglass prototype first shown off at CES 2014, which aims to be as versatile as Glass while bettering it in some respects as well. The rather awkward-looking SmartEyeglass is peppered with sensors - there's an accelerometer, gyroscope, electronic compass, ambient light sensor, and a 3-megapixel camera - and comes with a wire connecting it to an external battery pack equipped with an extra touch sensor and microphone.
If Apple's iPhone Mini won't make you look enough like a dork, there's always this thing.
Two good pieces of news today. Both Apple and Google have announced that the most recent versions of their mobile operating systems will encrypt user data by default. Google:
The next generation of Google's Android operating system, due for release next month, will encrypt data by default for the first time, the company said Thursday, raising yet another barrier to police gaining access to the troves of personal data typically kept on smartphones.
Android has offered optional encryption on some devices since 2011, but security experts say few users have known how to turn on the feature. Now Google is designing the activation procedures for new Android devices so that encryption happens automatically; only somebody who enters a device's password will be able to see the pictures, videos and communications stored on those smartphones.
Rather than comply with binding court orders, Apple has reworked its latest encryption in a way that prevents the company - or anyone but the device's owner - from gaining access to the vast troves of user data typically stored on smartphones or tablet computers.
The key is the encryption that Apple mobile devices automatically put in place when a user selects a passcode, making it difficult for anyone who lacks that passcode to access the information within, including photos, e-mails and recordings.
Larry Ellison has agreed to step down as the chief executive officer at Oracle, ending one of the most entertaining and profitable runs for a leader in business history.
Oracle announced Ellison's departure via a press release delivered on Thursday afternoon after the close of U.S. financial markets. The company said that Ellison will remain chairman of Oracle's board and take on the role of chief technology officer. Mark Hurd and Safra Catz, both presidents at Oracle, will each inherit the CEO title. Catz will remain as chief financial officer as well.
The "master"mind behind the onerous and despicable Java/Android/API patent troll lawsuit versus Google, in which Oracle is trying to actively, willingly, and knowingly cause great harm to developers all over the world. Coincidentally, he is a close, personal friend of Steve Jobs.