Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 9th Feb 2015 17:58 UTC
Apple

For 2015, iOS 9, which is codenamed Stowe (after the ski resort in Vermont), is going to include a collection of under-the-hood improvements. Sources tell us that iOS 9 engineers are putting a "huge" focus on fixing bugs, maintaining stability, and boosting performance for the new operating system, rather than solely focusing on delivering major new feature additions. Apple will also continue to make efforts to keep the size of the OS and updates manageable, especially for the many millions of iOS device owners with 16GB devices.

Very reminiscent of what Palm did with the Palm V (something Apple also did with Mac OS 10.6): no new features, but a huge focus on stability. From what I can gather from my friends using iOS, it's sorely, sorely needed.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 9th Feb 2015 16:43 UTC
Apple

The latest numbers from Canaccord Genuity reveal that Apple accounted for 93% of mobile profits during the fourth quarter, leading the financial services company to raise its price target on Apple shares from $135 to $145. The firm also predicted that iPhone adoption could grow to 650 million users through 2018 as more smartphone owners upgrade to the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.

That's just crazy impressive for a single company to achieve.

 



Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 9th Feb 2015 16:35 UTC
Windows

Microsoft has been heavily focused on low-end Windows Phone hardware over the past two years to grow market share, but its upcoming Windows 10 update won’t be finely tuned for these devices with low specifications. Microsoft’s Joe Belfiore revealed on Twitter yesterday that the software maker is working on Windows 10 for phones with 512MB of RAM, but that "features may vary."

This is the other side of the coin of focusing on low-end devices.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sun 8th Feb 2015 22:46 UTC
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless

With the first Tizen device, the Samsung Z1, shipping and reaching the hands of customers, it might be a good time to take a look at what kind of development options you have if you want to build a Tizen application. While you can code in HTML5, the real deal is, as always, native development.

Native applications can utilize a greater range of device features and can provide better performance than other applications. This is because native applications use a wide range of device APIs and are particularly lightweight. However, creating native applications can initially be complex if you are not familiar with the native API layout, application architecture, and life-cycle. In addition, you must become familiar with the Enlightenment Foundation Libraries (EFL) that are required to make scalable and fast graphics.

You can also delve deeper into Tizen development.

Meanwhile, AndroidCentral has taken a look at the Z1 as well, concluding:

If we're ever to see Tizen on a high-end phone, with a proper global marketing push behind it, chances are it'll look drastically different to what we see on the Samsung Z1 today. For now, what Samsung has is a lower-cost, slightly more modern replacement for its older Bada devices, not a potential successor to its vast Android lineup.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sun 8th Feb 2015 22:35 UTC
In the News

The letter S appears nowhere in the word "dollar", yet an S with a line through it ($) is unmistakably the dollar sign. But why an S? Why isn't the dollar sign something like a Đ (like the former South Vietnamese dong, or the totally-not-a-joke-currency Dogecoin)?

There's a good story behind it, but here's a big hint: the dollar sign isn't a dollar sign.

It's a peso sign.

Fascinating little bit of history. Us Dutch used the 'rijksdaalder' (where the suffix '-daalder' is the Dutch transliteration of the same word 'dollar' comes from) from the late 16th century all the way up until 2002, when we moved to the euro.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 6th Feb 2015 17:53 UTC
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless

Ars Technica reviews the Samsung Z1, the very first Tizen smartphone. The conclusions are... Well, it's a piece of crap.

Similar to when Samsung started making modern smartphones, its first swing at building an OS boils down to a lesser copy of the market leader. Tizen is just a less mature version of Android with no apps and no major ecosystem player supporting it. The OS feels like it's straight out of that Dilbert comic where the Pointy-Haired Boss suggests "If we work day and night, we can match our competitors' features within twelve months." Tizen seems to have done a good job copying an OS from several years ago, but it never evolved while its competitors did. For now, the conclusion of any Tizen-based smartphone review will always say "this would have been a better product if it ran Android."

Tizen: a bland, outdated, pointless operating system nobody is asking for except Apple bloggers.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 6th Feb 2015 17:42 UTC
Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Xubuntu

Canonical has announced the first actual Ubuntu phone, which will go on 'flash sales' in Europe over the coming days.

The Ubuntu handset can run apps written in either the HTML5 web programming language or its own native QML code.

However, its operating system effectively hides them away. Instead of the traditional smartphone user interface - featuring grids of apps - it uses themed cards that group together different facilities.

Canonical calls these Scopes, and they are reminiscent of the swipe-based card system used by the Google Now personal assistant.

I'm curious about this new approach. It seems a bit cumbersome to me - configuring your own 'Scopes' - but I'd love to try it out.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 6th Feb 2015 17:36 UTC
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless

Late last year, Open webOS was renamed to LuneOS, and they've released a new version. The post is dated 9 January, but for some reason, it only showed up for me today (no idea why).

  • Initial support for IM and SMS messaging
  • Mobile data usage is now functional but needs an unlocked SIM card and be manually enabled through the settings app
  • Extended dashboard support
  • Location service with WiFi based position source only (using Mozilla’s location service; see https://location.services.mozilla.com/)
  • Charger status on Nexus 4 is now correctly detected
  • Improved image quality in some apps and the card shell
  • Screen recording support (see https://github.com/webOS-ports/luna-next/pull/93 for details)
  • Backend support for MMS messages but not yet integrated with LuneOS services
  • Several metadata cleanups

As far as I can tell, it's still limited to the Nexus 4 and HP TouchPad for now.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 6th Feb 2015 10:24 UTC
Windows

A bunch of screenshots have been obtained by ITHome.it, a Chinese website, claiming to show off Windows 10 Build 10009, although the build information is covered up in the images, we'll just have to take their word for it.

In the images it can be seen that many more standard icons have received the flattened treatment, among them: the Recycle bin, Control Panel and Drive icons. New icons have also appeared, but the images are rather small, but embedded for your enjoyment below.

Huh.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 5th Feb 2015 19:51 UTC
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless

We've been testing pushing early updates to a small group of opt-in users for update9 and the connectivity hotfix. This went well so we're going one step further and making each software update available for opt in approximately one week before releasing it. We mainly expect this to be useful for developers and technically minded users who can handle potential problems (eg if you don't know how to do a backup and a restore then it may not be for you).

Flip a toggle on your Jolla account settings page and you'll receive each new Sailfish update a week before general release so you can test it out. Needless to say, my switch has been flipped.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 5th Feb 2015 19:49 UTC
Mac OS X

Apple released a beta version of OS X 10.10.3 today, and it includes the first preview of its new Photos application.

Apple might have just fixed that for Mac users with the new Photos app. It's the final piece in a plan that Apple unveiled last June, and one that both fixes and unifies a patchwork system it rolled out in 2011. It's a rethink of how people manage their photo library on a Mac, something that's been iPhoto's home turf for more than a decade. Apple's discontinuing that software along with Aperture (which is aimed at pro photographers), in favor bringing the tools people have on their iPhones and iPads to the Mac. It's also been built with Apple's iCloud in mind instead of an afterthought, which feels years overdue.

Over time, iPhote gradually turned into an iTunes-esque behemoth of a program that couldn't handle larger amounts of photos and generally had serious performance issues. This new Photos applications looks amazing, and I know many, many people who are going to love this.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 5th Feb 2015 10:19 UTC
Google

This is a story that involves lots of public intrigue, a futuristic wearable technology, a secret laboratory, fashion models, sky divers and an interoffice love triangle that ended a billionaire’s marriage. This is the story of Google Glass.

Definitely a story that's worth a read, but I can't for the life of me understand why the author decided to add the 'love triangle' nonsense. It comes in out of nowhere, has no bearing on the story, and feels like it was only put in there to draw clicks. While I would expect such behaviour from Buzzfeed or celebrity gossip sites, it has no place in The New York Times.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 4th Feb 2015 22:24 UTC
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless

Samsung's scale is such that when it chooses to change, the whole mobile industry feels the repercussions. So far, the key alterations from previous Galaxy S generations appear to be a move to an all-metal construction, a display that may be curved on one or both sides, and the repudiation of Qualcomm's Snapdragon processors in favor of a full reliance on Samsung’s own Exynos. These factors all matter individually, but taken as a whole they mark a major departure from the almost cynical pragmatism with which Samsung has approached its phones in the past. Let's address each one of them in turn.

Samsung's problem is that all the things that caused its rapid growth in smartphones were things that were easily replicated both on the low end (Xiaomi etc.) and the high end (Apple). Samsung needs something unique for its smartphones, and aping Apple and HTC by moving to an all-metal construction is not going to do it, nor are gimmicky bent screens and whatnot.

It may already be too late.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 4th Feb 2015 20:43 UTC
Windows

Two weeks ago we shared our plans to introduce new, Universal Office apps for Windows 10 including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and OneNote, that can be installed on PCs, tablets and phones. Today, we're excited to announce that Word, Excel and PowerPoint are now available for technical preview on PCs, laptops and tablets running the Windows 10 Technical Preview! In the coming weeks, we'll open up our preview for the same apps on phones and tablets running Windows 10.

It's three years too late, but we're finally - finally - getting proper, non-preview, non-beta, fully functional and grown-up Metro applications.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 4th Feb 2015 20:38 UTC
Internet & Networking

FCC chairman Tom Wheeler:

Originally, I believed that the FCC could assure internet openness through a determination of "commercial reasonableness" under Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. While a recent court decision seemed to draw a roadmap for using this approach, I became concerned that this relatively new concept might, down the road, be interpreted to mean what is reasonable for commercial interests, not consumers.

That is why I am proposing that the FCC use its Title II authority to implement and enforce open internet protections.

Using this authority, I am submitting to my colleagues the strongest open internet protections ever proposed by the FCC. These enforceable, bright-line rules will ban paid prioritization, and the blocking and throttling of lawful content and services. I propose to fully apply - for the first time ever - those bright-line rules to mobile broadband. My proposal assures the rights of internet users to go where they want, when they want, and the rights of innovators to introduce new products without asking anyone’s permission.

Great news for Americans.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 4th Feb 2015 20:33 UTC
Android

A few hours ago, we spotted no less than five mentions of "Android 5.1" on Google's Indonesian Android One page. Considering that 5.1 is quite a jump from 5.0.2, and something like 5.0.3 seemed more likely as the next bug fixer, we were cautious to suggest it may have been a mistake or a very persistent typo.

But as it turns out, Android 5.1 is real, and it's indeed shipping on Android One phones in Indonesia.

...but without a changelog, we have no idea what's in it, and as always, we have zero idea when anyone else is going to get it, if at all.

Android™.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 3rd Feb 2015 22:30 UTC
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless

OsmocomBB is an Free Software / Open Source GSM Baseband software implementation. It intends to completely replace the need for a proprietary GSM baseband software, such as

  • drivers for the GSM analog and digital baseband (integrated and external) peripherals
  • the GSM phone-side protocol stack, from layer 1 up to layer 3

In short: By using OsmocomBB on a compatible phone, you are able to make and receive phone calls, send and receive SMS, etc. based on Free Software only.

This project is doing amazing work, but despite all the effort, it only supports very small number of phones based on one particular baseband chip because this one happens to accept unsigned firmware. It only supports 2G (and not even completely), so 3G and 4G are completely out of the question. Don't expect to flash this on your Samsung Galaxy Whatever any time soon.

Aside from the immense technical knowledge, expertise, and dedication required to code your own baseband software, there's a huge legal barrier - it's pretty much illegal to use a baseband like this without explicit approval. In fact, the people behind the project do not use their software on carrier networks.

Despite the fact that the need for a properly open source baseband firmware is obvious to everyone, the cold and harsh truth remains that we're not even close.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 3rd Feb 2015 21:27 UTC
Internet & Networking

A few weeks ago, someone reported this to us at Medium:

"I just started an article in Polish. I can type in every letter, except Ś. When I press the key for Ś, the letter just doesn't appear. It only happens on Medium."

This was odd. We don't really special-case any language in any way, and even if we did... out of 32 Polish characters, why would this random one be the only one causing problems?

Turns out, it wasn't so random. This is a story of how four incidental ingredients spanning decades (if not centuries) came together to cause the most curious of bugs, and how we fixed it.

Interesting.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 3rd Feb 2015 11:53 UTC
BeOS & Derivatives

The very first BeOS story OSNews ever published - from 23 January 1998. Here's the same article rendered in the then-current OSNews website.

More of the fallout from Apple's decision to bump off its cloners last Fall has settled over the Valley recently, falling particularly hard in Menlo Park, home of Be Inc.. It seems Apple has been loath to hand over the documentation for the "Gossamer" motherboard line of PowerPC 750 machines (popularly referred to as the "G3" line) that began shipping last November.

In the past, Apple had been more than happy to hand over the documentation to its various motherboard designs, each having colorful names like Alchemy, Tanzania, and Tsunami. But the return of Jobs has chilled the once congenial relationship the two companies had, although both Motorola and IBM are more than happy to provide the BeOS team all the technical specs they desire.

The result for Be users on PowerPC machines (right now they're the only kind, although BeOS for Intel is due in March) is that Apple's gradual improvements in motherboard design are forever off limits, forcing them into an upgrade path (if they choose to even stay on the PowerPC platform) dependent upon the processor upgrade cards offered by companies like Newer Technologies and PowerLogix.

Steve Jobs closing off the entire company and cutting off access to its specifications is one of the four times Be, Inc. died. Fitting it is the subject of our very first BeOS story.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 3rd Feb 2015 11:37 UTC
BeOS & Derivatives

A few years back, the Macintosh operating system was considered innovative and fun. Now many view it as dated and badly in need of a rewrite rather than a simple upgrade. Windows 95 is the most popular operating system in the world - but this operating system is in many ways a copy of the Mac OS, less the Mac's character. Many programmers and computer enthusiasts enjoy the command-line interface power of Unix - but Unix isn't nearly intuitive enough for the average end user. What users really want is an operating system that has an easy-to-use graphical user interface, takes advantage of the power of today's fast microprocessor chips, and is unencumbered with the burdens of backward compatibility. Enter Be, Inc., and the BeOS - the Be operating system.

The glory days.