Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 24th Jun 2016 22:10 UTC
Games

The long awaited Dolphin 5.0 release is finally here! After nearly a year of bug-hunting and handling the release process, everything has come together for our biggest release yet! The three previous releases followed a very distinct pattern: sacrifice performance, hacks, and features in exchange for higher accuracy. As such, Dolphin 3.0, 3.5, and 4.0 progressively grew slower. But thanks to the cleanups put forward throughout those releases, Dolphin 5.0 is the fastest Dolphin has ever been! By removing all of those hacks and outdated features while cleaning up the codebase, Dolphin has reached a new level of efficiency, powered by a revitalized dynamic recompiler. On the GPU side, OpenGL and D3D11 have seen tons of optimizations and accuracy improvements, and have been joined by a brand new D3D12 backend for huge performance gains. If there's a CPU or GPU extension that can make Dolphin faster, we take advantage of it.

Dolphin is an incredibly impressive project - not just from a technological standpoint, but also from an organisation one. They post regular, detailed development updates, have in-depth release notes that are still entirely readable for laypersons such as myself, and you always learn a ton of new stuff following the project's progress.

A great example of how to run a project like this. Don't forget to check out the release video with tons of side-by-side examples of the long list of improvements.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 24th Jun 2016 22:02 UTC
OSNews, Generic OSes

PowerNex is a kernel written in the D Programming Language. The goal is to have a whole OS written in D, where PowerNex powers the core.

Exactly what it is.

 



Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 24th Jun 2016 01:11 UTC
Mac OS X

It's tempting to read the "macOS" rebranding as some grand statement about the Mac, but, truth be told, "Sierra" is more indicative of what we're getting. The name comes from a mountain range that encompasses Yosemite and El Capitan rather than moving away from them. It's another year of building on Yosemite's foundation, another year of incremental change, and another year of over-saturated mountain wallpapers.

Like El Capitan before it, Sierra focuses on a few marquee features, a couple of under-the-hood changes, a smattering of smaller tweaks, and one or two signposts pointing toward future development. It's the next release of OS X, new name or not. And we've spent a week with the first developer beta to dig into some of the new features ahead of the public beta in July and the public release in the fall.

Insights into the developer preview.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 24th Jun 2016 01:04 UTC, submitted by Adurbe
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless

Huawei, the world's third-largest smartphone manufacturer, is reportedly developing its own mobile OS. Phones made by the Chinese manufacturer currently run on the company's Android skin, EMUI, but according to a report from The Information Huawei is building an alternative OS in case its relationship with Google sours.

The company reportedly has a team working on the mobile OS in Scandinavia, with the engineers including ex-Nokia employees. But although Huawei isn't the only Android phone maker exploring alternatives (Samsung has its own Linux-based Tizen OS, although that's mainly been deployed in IoT devices so far), sources speaking to The Information say the company's operating system "isn't far along."

That ship has sailed. It's probably in Fiji by now.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 22nd Jun 2016 20:00 UTC
Apple

After Nilay Patel's strong piece and John Gruber's meager response, here's another one by Steve Streza:

John can argue all he wants that this is all somehow in the best interest of customers by virtue of it being great business for Apple, but it simply isn’t true. It also won’t be a hill that many customers will die on at the point of sale. People will not buy into Lightning headphones, they will put up with it. This transition will be painful and difficult because of just how thoroughly entrenched the current solution is, how little the new solution offers, and how many complications it adds for customers. Nilay is correct, it is user-hostile, and it is stupid.

But hey, it’s great for Apple.

I have very little to add here, other than dongle, and a plea: can somebody finally give me a valid reason for removing the 3.5mm jack? I've heard nonsense about waterproofing (can be done just fine with 3.5mm jack), battery life (negligible, unlikely because of the location of the assembly, entirely and utterly eclipsed by making the battery like 0.5mm thicker), cost (...seriously? That's the best you can do?), or thinness (oh come on, the iPhone 6S is 7.1mm thick - it will take a miracle for the iPhone 7 or even 8 or 9 to be thinner than 3.5mm).

Anyone?

As far as I can tell, there are only downsides.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 21st Jun 2016 21:20 UTC
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless

Another day, another rumor that Apple is going to ditch the headphone jack on the next iPhone in favor of sending out audio over Lightning. Or another phone beats Apple to the punch by ditching the headphone jack in favor of passing out audio over USB-C. What exciting times for phones! We're so out of ideas that actively making them shittier and more user-hostile is the only innovation left.

Tell us how you really feel, Nilay.

Needless to say - fully agreed. Removing the headphone jack is dumb.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 20th Jun 2016 22:58 UTC
Hardware, Embedded Systems

Speaking of the Xerox Alto - let's move on a few years and talk about the Xerox Star, its successor and, like the Alto, one of the most influential computers ever made. There's this great demo up on YouTube, where some of its creators walk you through the basics of using the Xerox Star, from basic filing, down to the included virtual keyboard which could display any keyboard layout you wanted - including things like Japanese or a math panel.

I love watching videos of the Xerox Star in action, because it shows you just how little the basic concepts of the graphical user interfaces we use every day - OS X/Windows or iOS/Android or whatever - have changed since the '70s, when Xerox invented all the basic parts of it. Of course, it has been refined over the decades, but the basic structure and most important elements have changed little.

Like still relying on shoehorning a timesharing punchcard mainframe operating system onto a phone, we still rely on the same old Xerox concepts of icons and windows and dialogs on our phones as well. Hardware has progressed at an incredibly pace - we have watches tons more powerful than 100 Xerox Stars combined - but software, including UI, has not kept up.

We should have better by now.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 20th Jun 2016 13:05 UTC
Apple

Apple announced a new file system that will make its way into all of its OS variants (macOS, tvOS, iOS, watchOS) in the coming years. Media coverage to this point has been mostly breathless elongations of Apple’s developer documentation. With a dearth of detail I decided to attend the presentation and Q&A with the APFS team at WWDC. Dominic Giampaolo and Eric Tamura, two members of the APFS team, gave an overview to a packed room; along with other members of the team, they patiently answered questions later in the day. With those data points and some first hand usage I wanted to provide an overview and analysis both as a user of Apple-ecosystem products and as a long-time operating system and file system developer.

An incredibly detailed look at Apple's new filesystem, APFS.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sun 19th Jun 2016 22:13 UTC
Hardware, Embedded Systems

Alan Kay recently loaned his 1970's Xerox Alto to Y Combinator and I'm helping with the restoration of this legendary system. The Alto was the first computer designed around a graphical user interface and introduced Ethernet and the laser printer to the world. The Alto also was one of the first object-oriented systems, supporting the Mesa and Smalltalk languages. The Alto was truly revolutionary when it came out in 1973, designed by computer pioneer Chuck Thacker.

This is just great. All-around great. No possible way to snark, be cynical, blame it on Android updates or iOS walled gardens - just plain old great. Be sure to watch the introductory video, and definitely don't forget part one of the restoration, with more sure to follow.

Goosebumps the entire time. I would give a lot to be in that room.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sun 19th Jun 2016 22:10 UTC
Apple

To make a long story short, it sounds like Apple is going to be collecting a lot more data from your phone. They're mainly doing this to make their services better, not to collect individual users' usage habits. To guarantee this, Apple intends to apply sophisticated statistical techniques to ensure that this aggregate data - the statistical functions it computes over all your information - don't leak your individual contributions. In principle this sounds pretty good. But of course, the devil is always in the details.

While we don't have those details, this seems like a good time to at least talk a bit about what Differential Privacy is, how it can be achieved, and what it could mean for Apple - and for your iPhone.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 16th Jun 2016 21:40 UTC
Android

Our testing, technical analyses and audio latency measurement database of more than 4,238 different Android models/builds shows that Google has been making great progress in order to solve the Android round-trip audio latency problem, however progress seems to be slowing as the current media server internals are not likely to be hacked much further unless fundamental changes should happen. To date, we have seen no improvements with Android N with regards to audio latency.

We receive emails from all around the world, almost on a daily basis, where developers beg us for a solution to Android Audio's 10 ms Problem. Which is why we're proud to announce a solution to Android Audio 10ms Problem, which you can install and demo today.

Few regular users will ever care, but for those users that do need low audio latency for music/audio creation applications, this is a godsend.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 16th Jun 2016 21:34 UTC
Hardware, Embedded Systems

Earlier this month we took a look at ARM’s new Mali-G71 GPU. Based on the company's equally new Bifrost architecture, Mali-G71 marks a significant architectural change for the Mali family, incorporating a modern thread level parallelism (TLP) centric execution design. The Mali GPU is in turn the heart of ARM’s graphics product stack - what ARM calls their Mali Multimedia Suite - but in practice it is not a complete graphics and display solution on its own.

As part of their IP development process and to allow SoC integrators to mix and match different blocks, the Mali GPU is only the compute/rendering portion of the graphics stack; the display controller and video encode/decode processor are separate. Splitting up these blocks in this fashion gives ARM's customers some additional flexibility, allowing something like Mali-G71 to be mixed with other existing controllers (be it ARM or otherwise), but at the same time these parts aren't wholly divorced within ARM. Even though they’re separate products, ARM likes to update all of the parts of their graphics stack in relative lockstep. To that end, with the Mali GPU core update behind them, this week ARM is announcing an updated video processor, codenamed Egil, to replace the current Mali-V550 processor.

AnandTech takes a first look at what's coming.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 16th Jun 2016 21:31 UTC, submitted by Nth_Man
Qt

I'm very happy to announce that Qt 5.7 is now available. It's been only 3 months since we released Qt 5.6, so one might expect a rather small release with Qt 5.7. But apart from the usual bug fixes and performance improvements, we have managed to add a whole bunch of new things to this release.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 15th Jun 2016 22:02 UTC
Apple

At that same WWDC Apple announced Time Machine, a product that would record file system versions through time for backup and recovery. How were they doing this? We were energized by the idea that there might be another piece of adopted Solaris technology. When we launched Solaris 10, DTrace shared the marquee with ZFS, a new filesystem that was to become the standard against which other filesystems are compared. Key among the many features of ZFS were snapshots that made it simple to capture the state of a filesystem, send the changes around, recover data, etc. Time Machine looked for all the world like a GUI on ZFS (indeed the GUI that we had imagined but knew to be well beyond the capabilities of Sun).

Of course Time Machine had nothing to do with ZFS. After the keynote we rushed to an Apple engineer we knew. With shame in his voice he admitted that it was really just a bunch of hard links to directories. For those who don’t know a symlink from a symtab this is the moral equivalent of using newspaper as insulation: it's fine until the completely anticipated calamity destroys everything you hold dear.

So there was no ZFS in Mac OS X, at least not yet.

Somewhat related: the history of Microsoft's WinFS.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 14th Jun 2016 21:51 UTC
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless

Maru OS is a platform that lets you run both Google Android and Debian Linux on a smartphone. Use your device as a phone, and it'll act like any other Android phone. Connect an external display, mouse, and keyboard and you've got a full-fledged Debian Linux desktop environment.

It's available for the Nexus 5 now.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 14th Jun 2016 21:46 UTC
Apple

Apple's new Watch software, watchOS 3, isn't just new software, it's an admission that Apple had it all wrong when it came to interactions on the first-generation Apple Watch. It's less of a revamp and more of a rescue of the Watch, an attempt to deconstruct the old software and to focus on the stuff that people actually care about.

It's rare for Apple to be this forward.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 14th Jun 2016 13:30 UTC
Microsoft

Microsoft Corp. and LinkedIn Corporation on Monday announced they have entered into a definitive agreement under which Microsoft will acquire LinkedIn for $196 per share in an all-cash transaction valued at $26.2 billion, inclusive of LinkedIn's net cash. LinkedIn will retain its distinct brand, culture and independence. Jeff Weiner will remain CEO of LinkedIn, reporting to Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft. Reid Hoffman, chairman of the board, co-founder and controlling shareholder of LinkedIn, and Weiner both fully support this transaction. The transaction is expected to close this calendar year.

This deal is so incredibly boring I can't even be bothered to finish this sen

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 13th Jun 2016 22:49 UTC
Mac OS X

Moving on from iOS 10, we get to OS X, and the biggest news is the forthcoming death of HFS+, but before we get there, Apple made it official: OS X is now macOS, causing millions of slightly peculiar people like myself to twitch every time we have to type it out. It should, of course, be called Mac OS, but maybe that's why I'm a sad, lonely translator, and Apple has so much money it can buy, like, I don't know, Belgium. macOS Sierra (10.12? We don't yet know) will be coming this fall.

With that out of the way: Apple announced a brand new file system. You'd think big news like this would be front and centre during the keynote, but I guess not everybody gets bug-eyed by the supposed brutal murder of HFS+. In any event, the new Apple file system is called Apple File System - because, you know, Apple is for creative snowflakes - and it's been designed to scale from the Apple Watch all the way up to Mac OS macOS (this is not going to work out). Since I'm by far not qualified enough to tell you the details, I'll direct you to Ars, where they've got a good overview of what APFS is all about, or you can dive straight into Apple's technical documentation.

For the rest, macOS was pretty under-served at WWDC, as expected. Siri is coming to the Mac, and there's things like a universal clipboard that works across devices, and Apple states that every application can be tabbed now - basically all multi-window applications can be tabbed, without developer input. I'm kind of curious how this will work in practice. Lastly, Apple is making it first steps towards macOS treating the file system like iOS does it (i.e., pretending it doesn't exist), by using iCloud to automatically sync your desktop and documents folder. All optional now, but you can expect this to expand and eventually be mandatory, and cover all user-facing files.

One final tidbit: the Mac App Store has been effectively declared dead - all the APIs that were previously only available to MAS applications, are now available to everyone. And nobody shed a tear.

As always, there's more, but this is the highlight reel.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 13th Jun 2016 21:50 UTC
Apple

While I was watching Belgium vs. Italy, Apple did its whole WWDC thing, so time for some serious catch-up here on OSNews. Amidst all the frustrations caused by Belgium's terrible play (still better than my own country, because we didn't even qualify!), sideways glances at Twitter made it clear there was some awesome stuff taking place at WWDC, and since I'm trying this new thing where I'm not writing a mega keynote story, let's chop it up a bit and look at the most interesting things in separate items.

Let's start with iOS 10. First, while technically a small thing, it will cause millions of iOS users to heave a sigh of relief: starting with iOS 10, Apple will let you remove all the craptastic crapware that's been accumulating in iOS over the years. No more 'crapware' folder on every iPhone, but a glorious little red jiggling X. It's taken them way too long, but for me it's probably the most welcome change in iOS at WWDC.

Apple also redesigned the lock screen, giving it the ability to display rich notifications, so you can interact with the notifications without opening the applications they belong to. They also introduced lock screen widgets. ESPN, for example, allows you to watch highlight videos without even opening the application.

Siri's also been improved, and most notably, has been opened up to third parties. This mean you can now tell Siri to send a message through WhatsApp, or order a car through Uber. The number of supported applications is still relatively small, but this will surely rise in the near future. Siri's contextually aware too, now, so it looks at your location, calendar contents, contact information, and so on.

There's way more going on, of course, but nothing else really jumped out at me.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 10th Jun 2016 12:25 UTC
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless

The 3.5mm port is dying - at least when it comes to smartphones. If the persistent Lightning headphone rumor wasn't enough to persuade you, the fact that Motorola beat Apple to the punch should be. Motorola's new Moto Z and Moto Z Force don't have that familiar circular hole for your cans to plug into, and it now seems inevitable that almost every phone within a few years will forgo the port in favor of a single socket for both charging and using headphones.

This is a change that few people actually want. It's driven entirely by the makers of our phones and their desire to ditch what they view as an unnecessary port.

It's all about control. You can't put DRM on a 3.5mm jack, but you can do so on a digital port or wireless connection. Imagine only Beats headphones being certified to pull the best quality audio out of an iPhone, protected through Apple DRM.

You know it's going to happen.