Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sun 21st Sep 2014 22:58 UTC
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless

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.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 19th Sep 2014 23:11 UTC

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.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 19th Sep 2014 12:28 UTC
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless

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.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 18th Sep 2014 22:28 UTC
Privacy, Security, Encryption

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.

And Apple:

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.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 18th Sep 2014 21:14 UTC
Oracle and SUN

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.

Good riddance.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 18th Sep 2014 20:17 UTC

Google is set to institute a new policy in the Play Store, and it has some developers up in arms. A message in the developer console (seen below) has appeared asking developers to add a physical address to their account profile. For those offering paid apps and in-app purchases, this is mandatory as of September 30th. Failing to do so could result in Mountain View pulling the apps.

The notice points out that this address will be visible on the app details page for all users of the Play Store.

Publishing the addresses of every Android developer with paid applications or in-application purchases, online, for all to see? Is there anyone who thinks this is anything other than a terrible, terrible idea?


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 17th Sep 2014 21:12 UTC

In-depth iOS 8 review at Ars.

With this release, Apple is trying to make additions that developers and power users want without upsetting people who come to iOS specifically because of its consistency and simplicity. It's telling that just about every major iOS 8 feature can be disabled or ignored, and that big transformative features like third-party extensions are hidden from view by default. A surface-level glance at iOS 8 suggests an operating system that isn't all that different from iOS 7. Look just a little deeper, though, and you'll see just how different it is.

As someone who finds Android the least crappy mobile operating system (by a very, very narrow margin), I see little in iOS 8 (or the new iPhones, for that matter) to convince me otherwise. The additions are very welcome for iOS users, but it's nothing we haven't seen before; nothing that makes me go - yes, this gives iOS the edge it needs (for me). Not that it matters - iOS, the iPhone, and Apple are doing just fine without massive hordes of Android users making the jump.

If feels like to me the new iPhones and iOS 8 are here to consolidate their existing market - not to expand it at the cost of the competition.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 17th Sep 2014 18:44 UTC

Apple has released iOS 8, the latest version of its mobile operating system, for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. Users can download the new software by navigating to the "general" tab in their device's settings menu and selecting "software update." If you don't want to download the update wirelessly - perhaps you're on a restrictive data plan and have limited Wi-Fi access - you can also connect your phone to the latest version of iTunes to download the update. The iOS 8 update pack weighs in at 1.4GB and requires a staggering 5.7GB of free space to install on an iPhone (6.9GB on an iPad), so you may need to delete something like half a dozen games to free up some room before you get started.

Lots of improvements over iOS 7, so definitely worth it. Do pay mind to the hefty space requirements, though.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 16th Sep 2014 21:36 UTC, submitted by beng
OSNews, Generic OSes

MINIX is a modern, microkernel-based UNIX implementation. The code size of the microkernel is just 129 kB. Servers implement UNIX on top of it. The userland, toolchain, packages etc. are from NetBSD. Release 3.3.0 was just announced:

New features:

  • The first release with ARM support, three Beagle targets are supported
  • Experimental USB support for the Beaglebones (hubs & mass storage)
  • Cross-compiling for both ARM and x86 - the buildsystem is very portable


  • Big source code cleanup - cleaner C types in messages, improved NetBSD compatibility, all minix-specific code moved to a top-level minix/ folder
  • Updated packages overall - a big set is built now; and they are dynamically linked now
  • Improved driver modularity


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 15th Sep 2014 18:02 UTC

Apple has released a tool to remove U2's new album from its customers' iTunes accounts six days after giving away the music for free.

Some users had complained about the fact that Songs of Innocence had automatically been downloaded to their devices without their permission.

It had not been immediately obvious to many of the account holders how to delete the tracks.

The US tech firm now offers a one-click removal button.

Great headline. Great story. Great everything. This is just great.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 15th Sep 2014 13:16 UTC

Update: In Notch' own words (Pastebin version because his site is being hammered):

I'm aware this goes against a lot of what I've said in public. I have no good response to that. I'm also aware a lot of you were using me as a symbol of some perceived struggle. I’m not. I’m a person, and I'm right there struggling with you.

I love you. All of you. Thank you for turning Minecraft into what it has become, but there are too many of you, and I can't be responsible for something this big. In one sense, it belongs to Microsoft now. In a much bigger sense, it's belonged to all of you for a long time, and that will never change.

It’s not about the money. It's about my sanity.

His honesty and openness is very welcome.

I bought Minecraft way back in the alpha days (September 29, 2010, to be exact), and I haven't ever regretted it one bit. Thank you for Minecraft, Markus.

It's official. Microsoft has acquired Mojang, and thus, Minecraft.

From Mojang's announcement:

Minecraft has grown from a simple game to a project of monumental significance. Though we're massively proud of what Minecraft has become, it was never Notch’s intention for it to get this big.

As you might already know, Notch is the creator of Minecraft and the majority shareholder at Mojang. He's decided that he doesn't want the responsibility of owning a company of such global significance. Over the past few years he's made attempts to work on smaller projects, but the pressure of owning Minecraft became too much for him to handle. The only option was to sell Mojang. He'll continue to do cool stuff though. Don't worry about that.

While I'm not particularly happy about Minecraft going to Microsoft - of all places - I fully understand Notch' reasoning. Even my own little one-man translation company is a huge amount of effort to run, both in actual working hours (translating) and all the stuff that comes with owning a company (the administrative and office crap nobody likes to do). I can only imagine that is must be a thousand times more difficult to run a company as successful as Mojang, and I can understand him wanting to get rid of it, get a huge pile of money, and use it do new stuff, free from pressure.

So, thank you for Minecraft, Notch, and you and your colleagues deserve this massive break. Congratulations!

So, what about Minecraft's future? From Microsoft's announcement:

Minecraft fans are loyal, with nearly 90 percent of paid customers on the PC having signed in within the past 12 months.

That sentence.

That sentence, Microsoft.

That sentence tells me all I need to know. If you've paid any attention to the negative developments in gaming over the recent years, that sentence should send chills down your spine.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 12th Sep 2014 22:06 UTC, submitted by Orichalcum

Microsoft may have demonstrated its new Start menu earlier this year, but thanks to a recent "Windows 9" leak we're now seeing every single part of the company’s plans for bringing back this popular feature. German site WinFuture has posted a two-minute video that demonstrates how the Start menu works in the next major release of Windows. As you'd expect, it's very similar to what Microsoft demonstrated with traditional apps mixing with modern apps (and their Live Tiles) into a familiar Start menu.

It boggles my mind why Microsoft doesn't just remove Metro from the desktop altogether. Is there anyone who wants to run those comically large touch-optimised applications in windows on their desktop? Why not restrict Metro to where it belongs, i.e., mobile? Why all this extra work?

It just doesn't seem to make any sense.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 12th Sep 2014 22:04 UTC

The Supreme Court's June ruling on the patentability of software - its first in 33 years - raised as many questions at it answered. One specific software patent went down in flames in the case of Alice v. CLS Bank, but the abstract reasoning of the decision didn't provide much clarity on which other patents might be in danger.

Now a series of decisions from lower courts is starting to bring the ruling's practical practical consequences into focus. And the results have been ugly for fans of software patents. By my count there have been 10 court rulings on the patentability of software since the Supreme Court's decision - including six that were decided this month. Every single one of them has led to the patent being invalidated.

This doesn't necessarily mean that all software patents are in danger - these are mostly patents that are particularly vulnerable to challenge under the new Alice precedent. But it does mean that the pendulum of patent law is now clearly swinging in an anti-patent direction. Every time a patent gets invalidated, it strengthens the bargaining position of every defendant facing a lawsuit from a patent troll.

Great news.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 11th Sep 2014 21:32 UTC

Chromebooks were designed to keep up with you on the go - they're thin and light, have long battery lives, resume instantly, and are easy to use. Today, we're making Chromebooks even more mobile by bringing the first set of Android apps to Chrome OS.

These first apps are the result of a project called the App Runtime for Chrome (Beta), which we announced earlier this summer at Google I/O. Over the coming months, we'll be working with a select group of Android developers to add more of your favorite apps so you’ll have a more seamless experience across your Android phone and Chromebook.

I was under the impression all applications would work when they announced this at I/O. I had no idea only select applications would work. That's a bit of a bummer.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 11th Sep 2014 14:34 UTC

Nokia and Windows Phone are history.

Now we can confirm that Microsoft will be completely dropping the "Nokia" branding from their devices, leaving "Lumia" as the hero brand for upcoming devices. In fact we understand that the Lumia 830 and Lumia 730 will be the final two devices to launch with "Nokia" branded on the phone. Future devices will most likely carry the "Microsoft" name along with "Lumia".

Furthermore the document also reveals that Microsoft is shying away from placing the Windows Phone logo next to their devices in promotions and advertisements, and will instead place the standard Windows logo alongside them (sans the "Phone"). In fact we understand, from a source with knowledge of the plans, that this is part of the preparation to leave the "Windows Phone" logo behind, as part of a gradual phase out of the Windows Phone name (and OS) which will merge with the desktop version of Windows in the upcoming updates (i.e. no Windows Phone 9).

This is verified by The Verge's sources inside Microsoft.

So, we now not only live in the crazy world where a version 1 Google product looks (and seems to work) way better than the comparable version 1 Apple product, but also in a world where Microsoft has a very simple naming scheme, and Apple just unveiled the Apple Watch, Apple Watch Sport, and Apple Watch Edition.

I will miss my worn-out Windows Mobile PocketPC Embedded 2003 Compact Standard Edition CE Service Pack 2 Pro jokes, though.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 9th Sep 2014 22:21 UTC

Well, file this under 'holy crap'.

Microsoft is nearing a deal to buy Mojang AB, makers of the Minecraft video game franchise, according to a new report. According to the Wall Street Journal, the deal would value Mojang at more than $2 billion and could be signed as soon as this week.

No. Just no.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 9th Sep 2014 19:46 UTC

It's that time of the year again: Apple announced a bunch of new products. First, the iPhone 6 and iPhone Plus - 4.7" and 5.5", with upgraded silicon, better camera, and a new design. They both look like fantastic and worthy upgrades for iOS users, although I'm sure some are going to cringe over the camera bulge and the hilarious, Samsung-y one-handed mode called Reachability (yes. That is a thing. A thing Tim Cook showed off as a feature).

Moving on, the biggest news, of course, is Apple's entry into the smartwatch market. It's called the Apple Watch, and to sum it up: they put an iPhone on your wrist - including a homescreen, endless applications, a long list of features like using it to control other Apple devices, and so on. The user interface is operated through a combination of a crown on the side of the device and the touchscreen. The touch screen can sense the difference between a tap and a press, with the latter being used a right-click sort of thing.

If this sounds complex for a watch, you're not alone. The interface looked incredibly cumbersome and complex to me - far more so than what I've seen of Android Wear. For instance, the homescreen is a grid of round, zoomed-out icons that you navigate by panning with touch, but zooming in with the crown on the side. In other words, you have to shift from screen to crown to screen to launch an application. Add in the various up/down/right/left swipes, touch+holds, and the difference between taps and presses, as well as the tiny display, and it just sounds cumbersome and complex to me. Take a look at the photos application - now zoom with the crown, pan with swipes, zoom with the crown, pan with the screen, until you find the photo you want (and remember: you have to do it all that with just one hand!). Good luck, with that.

As for the hardware - it's square, and that will most likely be the most dividing aspect of it all. Some prefer square watches, some round. I'm firmly in the round camp, and combined with the 'bulgy' and curvy design of the Apple Watch it just looks entirely unappealing to me - not to mention uncomfortable, with that huge sensor bulge pressing into your wrist. It looks and operates like a tiny computer strapped to your wrist - and that's exactly not what I would want in a smartwatch.

Then there's the weirdest thing about the Apple Watch: that awkwardly huge button underneath the crown. Press it, and it will open a messaging application, allowing you to send messages and make calls to a select group of friends (after scrolling with the crown, of course). Yes, they dedicated the only button on the device to that. It's indicative of something I'm not used to seeing from Apple: everything and the kitchen sink.

In a nutshell - it seems like the Android Wear team is a lot better at saying 'no' than the Apple Watch Team.

The Apple Watch will go on sale "early 2015", will come in two sizes, and six different materials. Straps are interchangeable. Apple only announced the price of the cheapest model (no sapphire on this one): $349. Missing from the entire presentation? Battery life. Apple made zero mentions or references to battery life, which tells you all you need to know. In current versions, it sucks. The biggest drawback? It requires an iPhone 5 or higher. Other platforms are not supported.

It's very hard to make any predictions about where this is going. Will users prefer the everything-and-the-kitchen-sink, complex approach from Apple, or the simpler, restricted approach from Google? This is a new device category, so I have absolutely no idea. This thing is either going to be Tim Cook's iPhone, or Tim Cook's Newton (Peter Bright had the same idea).

I'm not placing any bets.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 8th Sep 2014 21:49 UTC

This, then, is what we want to articulate here: we’re now in a place where our pursuit can be made by anyone, can be about anything, and can be enjoyed almost anywhere. If games were diversifying when we started the site in 2007, now they actually have diversified. Games can be for everyone. Games are by everyone. Games are about everything. That is their great power. That is their utterly vital quality. It is why they matter so, so much.

Games can be for everybody. Games should be for everybody. They should be for you.

RPS is probably the best gaming website on the web, and this article only cements that position. Fantastic job.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 8th Sep 2014 21:44 UTC

Marco Arment:

The Apple fans who had previously defended the 3.5-inch screen - myself included - got the new one, got used to it, and never wanted to go back to the smaller screens. It turned out that while the larger screen did make the phone slightly taller, technological progress also let Apple make the phone thinner and much lighter.

We had resisted the idea of bigger screens not because we hated screen space, but because we thought they'd bring major costs in size and weight. But the iPhone 5 really didn't.

The "right size" principle was disproven. We were wrong.

This is an interesting bit of revisionist history. The argument that in those earlier days, phones with larger screens had to be thicker, heavier, and have less battery life simply does not add up. The Galaxy SII, for instance, was only 4 grams heavier than the iPhone 5, and was unveiled in the timeframe Arment is referring to (early 2011). Battery life on the SII was about two days of use, which is not very different from an iPhone 4/5 either. It was, however, slightly thicker (8.5mm vs. 7.6mm).

This is just one phone, but it illustrates that while it's nice that he's admitting both he and Gruber were wrong about display sizes, it's a bit embarrassing to see him make claims that are provably false. It was obvious to everyone who wasn't part of any camp that phones with larger screens were going to be the norm - and aside from the obvious argument that they're bigger, the arguments about weight, battery life, and thickness were untrue then just as much as they are untrue now.

What I'm most interested in tomorrow - aside from the possible smartwatch, which I'm very excited about - is in what ways Tim Cook is going to spin, twist, turn, and revise history to explain why large screen phones are suddenly okay.

Because those will be the arguments copy/pasted on every technology forum for years and years to come.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sun 7th Sep 2014 23:09 UTC

And that's when it hit me, OneNote is the Pro 3 killer feature. This is what makes it not just another tablet or a laptop, it's OneNote and if you are not in the OneNote world, the competitive advantage of this feature diminishes the use of the device. But here is where it all made sense and not just with the Surface Pro 3.

I'll be on vacation in the US late October/early November, and since electronics are a lot cheaper in the US than here, I'm going to buy a new laptop while I'm there. I've been debating the MacBook Air, Acer S7, and the Surface Pro 3, but when I line up all my needs and wants, the Pro 3 comes out so far ahead it's just a humiliation for the other two.

The MBA is out of the question because I prefer the Windows version of Office (Office is hugely important for my line of work). On top of that, its display is far too outdated and low-resolution to warrant the total laptop's price tag. The choice between the S7 and the Pro 3 is more interesting, but in the end, I know the quality feel of Surface devices first-hand. The lightness and thinness really stand out too (this photo really illustrates just how thin the Pro 3 really is).

Software-wise, I will use the Pro 3 as a laptop, and I like using Windows 8.x as a desktop operating system, so after disabling the horrid Metro crap it'll be my ideal laptop. I'll of course play around with all these machines before making the actual choice, but on paper, it's no contest for me.

The whole OneNote stuff that this article highlights hadn't even crossed my mind. I'm currently not really a OneNote user, and I don't make a whole lot of notes as it is (my memory is creepy good - I remember almost every posted and submitted story on OSNews going back 8 years), but the idea of using the pen and quickly note down a thought and have it synced everywhere appeals to me.

I think the eventual sales figures for the Surface Pro 3 will not reflect its actual quality very well - much like how Windows Phone sales do not really match its quality either. It's the reality of the market, and it's easy to laugh it off 'because Microsoft', but remember that this reality affects many promising, quality products - which are not made by the big boys.