Google's Project Ara is such a drastic departure from the hardware designs that make up mainstream smartphones that it's pretty impressive to see just how swiftly progress is moving forward on the effort. From the earliest announcement back in the fall of last year, we've moved on to developer conferences and the release of the Ara Module Developers Kit. Now it's nearly time for Ara's next phase to begin, as Google prepares to distribute the dev boards that will let hardware makers continue with work towards creating the modules that will go into Ara devices.
Will this project go anywhere? No idea. Will it change the smartphone world forever? Probably not. Is it awesome? Pretty much, yeah. Runaway success or no, I like this crazy idea.
Microsoft has disabled an option to set Google as the default search engine on its latest Lumia Windows Phones. The option is currently supported on the majority of Nokia's Lumia devices, thanks to an advanced setting in Internet Explorer on Windows Phone 8.0. Microsoft acquired Nokia’s phone business in April, and the company's first handsets, the Lumia 630 and Lumia 930, are shipping without the option on Windows Phone 8.1. Microsoft has never allowed Windows Phone users to alter the physical search button behavior, which defaults to Bing, but Internet Explorer users could enable the setting to use the address bar to search within Google instead of manually navigating to the search engine or using the Bing default.
Oh my god Microsoft give it up already.
Microsoft has announced a pricing offensive versus Google's Chromebooks.
Microsoft is aiming straight for Google's Chromebooks this holiday season. At the company's partner conference today, Microsoft COO Kevin Turner revealed that HP is planning to release a $199 laptop running Windows for the holidays. Turner didn't provide specifications for HP's "Stream" device, but he did detail $249 laptop options from Acer and Toshiba. Acer's low-cost laptop will ship with a 15.6-inch screen and a 2.16GHz Intel Celeron processor, and Toshiba's includes a 11.6-inch display. It appears that Intel's Celeron chips will help Microsoft's PC partners push out cheaper devices in the race to the bottom.
Turner also revealed that HP is planning to release 7- and 8-inch versions of its new "Stream" PCs for $99 this holiday season, both running versions of Windows.
If you think only Apple, Google, Intel, and several other technology companies flagrantly broke the law by illegally robbing their employees of wages - think again. As it turns out, the digital animation industry - centering around Steve Jobs' Pixar, unsurprisingly - was just as bad.
[Pixar's] Catmull's deposition and emails from the lawsuit confirm that he was instrumental in operating a secret wage-theft cartel that violated the Sherman Antitrust Act. But it's even worse than you think. The cartel orchestrated in large part by Catmull robbed potential wages and job opportunities from thousands of animation industry workers at other studios, including DreamWorks, Lucasfilm, Robert Zemeckis’ ImageMovers, the now-defunct Orphanage, and Walt Disney Animation Studios.
The wage fixing scandal is way, way more sprawling than anyone could have originally anticipated. The sad thing is that the criminals behind this illegal behaviour - Steve Jobs, Tim Cook, Eric Schmidt, George Lucas, Ed Catmull, and many, many more - will never have to face any serious consequences for their crimes.
The official launch was to come at Thursday's event for Tizen developers in Moscow, complete with market-ready products. But, in an echo of Samsung's most recent failure to launch a Tizen smartphone - in Japan earlier this year - the launch was canceled just days earlier.
Samsung provided no concrete date for the rollout of the commercial version of the phone at the developer summit but said in a statement Thursday that "the smartphone will appear on the Russian market later, when we can offer our users a fullest portfolio of applications".
In all seriousness, nobody - not even Samsung itself - sees Tizen as a serious option or competitor to Android, and this news only serves to make that even clearer. Certain people keep trying to posit Tizen as some sort of huge threat to Android or as a sign that Samsung is seriously considering dumping Android (presumably thereby crippling Android and Google), but anyone with even the remotest bit of sense realises this makes about as much sense as a software patent.
No amount of wishful thinking is going to make Tizen happen.
However, I still field plenty of questions from lots of people about this, and a lot of the time, it's extremely simple stuff: "What is X?" "How does it interact with my graphics card and mouse/keyboard?" "What do apps use X for?" "What is Wayland, and how does it fit into the picture?" "What problems did X have that made us want to write new display server technologies?"
These sort of questions were what inspired me to write "The Linux Graphics Stack" in the first place, but there's really never been a comprehensive, historical writeup of our display server technologies in general. So, I chose to spend my free time at Red Hat writing it.
A very fun look at what X actually is - including embedded X server sessions running in your browser using HTML5 canvas. Fancy.
Great keyboards are in our DNA. With BlackBerry Passport, we set out to create a smartphone that would break some cherished rules in order to set a new bar for real productivity. In particular, BlackBerry Passport's keyboard will show there is an easier way to do more.
This is exactly the kind of stuff I want to see from BlackBerry: instead of trying to copy everyone else and build yet another black glass slab, they should build on their strength and go from there. The Passport looks to be exactly that. I have no idea if anyone cares or if it's too late, but I love this thing.
Accessibility is something that seldom gets the attention it deserves. Most of us go about our day without ever wondering how accessible an iPhone or iPad or Mac is to the blind or the deaf, to those with autism or motor disfunction, or how accessible the apps that run on them are. Yet there are people who do care deeply about accessibility. Those who need iPhones and iPads and Macs to be ever-more accessible, of course, and those working to make iPhone and iPads and Macs ever-more accessible. Among technology companies, Apple does a tremendous job not only implementing accessibility, but promoting it and prioritizing it as well. And it starts at the very top.
An area where Apple leads. It might not be an area that's considered very sexy or flashy, but it's hugely important for large numbers of people.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has just published a letter to employees about... Uh, yeah, about what exactly?
The day I took on my new role I said that our industry does not respect tradition - it only respects innovation. I also said that in order to accelerate our innovation, we must rediscover our soul - our unique core. We must all understand and embrace what only Microsoft can contribute to the world and how we can once again change the world. I consider the job before us to be bolder and more ambitious than anything we have ever done.
I've read through the whole thing - twice - but I still have no idea what I'm supposed to take from this. There's nothing concrete, nothing we haven't heard before - it's so vague that I'm not really sure it even has a point to begin with. I think it's supposed to announce some sort of change in direction, but that's the problem - there isn't one.
Especially these two successive paragraphs are startling.
More recently, we have described ourselves as a "devices and services" company. While the devices and services description was helpful in starting our transformation, we now need to hone in on our unique strategy.
At our core, Microsoft is the productivity and platform company for the mobile-first and cloud-first world. We will reinvent productivity to empower every person and every organization on the planet to do more and achieve more.
What's the difference between "devices and services" and "mobile-first and cloud-first"?
That's the problem with vague, abstracted drivel from company executives. It's essentially homeopathic communication - so watered down it's essentially just water with zero medicinal effects.
Another Xbox One communication failure by Microsoft - but this time, with a good outcome, sort of. At launch, the company promised that every Xbox One could eventually be used as a development kit, but comments by Microsoft's Martin Fuller earlier today made it clear that idea was dropped and not going to happen. Turns out, though, that Fuller was wrong.
"The comments today were inaccurate. We remain committed to ensuring the best possible solutions for developers and hobbyists to create games for Xbox One. We will share more details at a later date," said the Microsoft representative.
I would have liked a more resolute confirmation here - "best possible solutions" could be anything - but I'm hoping Microsoft persists with the idea of turning every Xbox One into a development kit. I'm sure it would lead to some amazing games that would otherwise never make it to the Xbox, and that's, after, what gaming is about.
A coalition of technology companies large and small has created a sort of arms-control treaty to prevent future abuses of their intellectual property.
Among Google, Canon, SAP, Newegg, Dropbox and Asana, there are nearly 300,000 patent assets on the line. But the companies aren't licensing all of each others' patents today. Instead, by agreeing to join the License on Transfer network, they promise to grant licenses to one another whenever one of those patents is sold.
Clever. Sad, though, that companies have to resort to complicated tricks like this instead of just having the damn law changed to align with reality.
Android's various screen sizes - how big of a problem is it, really, for developers? Not a big one, according to iOS and Android developer Russell Ivanovic:
The answer tends to surprise pretty much everyone: It's not that hard, and honestly causes us less headaches than most people imagine. Firstly, the tools Google give us to lay out interfaces have supported this from day one. You've been able to define one or more layouts that scale to various sizes, and if you want to get everything perfect, you can have as many of these layouts as you like, while still keeping the one codebase. The layouts are XML, and don't live in your code. If you're an iOS developer they are pretty much the equivalent of XIB files with size classes like iOS 8. The other part people don't realise is that Android has standardised on screen resolutions for a long time now.
I've long since accepted that certain complaints and issues are mostly only perpetuated by people with an agenda, even long after the actual problems are solved or no longer relevant. There's Windows and security, Apple and pricing, Android and security - you name it. In order to get a real finger on the true extent of these problems, you have to cut out the official bloggers and party parrots.
Windows has been secure for almost a decade now. Apple's devices and PCs are not expensive. Android has never been insecure. These are all cases of 'fear, uncertainty, and doubt' perpetuated and/or made excessively worse than they really are by people of questionable nature.
The latest updates to iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite introduce some very welcomed changes to the way Security and Privacy is dealt with on these platforms and may serve as an inspiration for others.
I've gathered this information by watching over 17 hours of WWDC 2014 sessions and carefully reviewing, analyzing what was said, and writing a huge number of notes on Security, Privacy, UX and other areas which I will be publishing here in the coming weeks.
A very detailed look at all that's coming to the Apple platforms in terms of privacy and security.
The CentOS Project is pleased to announce the immediate availability of CentOS 7 for x86_64, including images for docker, and various cloud providers. There are many fundamental changes in this release, compared to previous releases of CentOS. Notably the inclusion of systemd, Gnome3, and a default filesystem of XFS. For more information about what makes CentOS 7 stand out, please see our release notes.
CentOS 6 can be upgraded to 7, but that functionality is still being tested.
The KDE Community is proud to announce KDE Frameworks 5.0. Frameworks 5 is the next generation of KDE libraries, modularized and optimized for easy integration in Qt applications. The Frameworks offer a wide variety of commonly needed functionality in mature, peer reviewed and well tested libraries with friendly licensing terms. There are over 50 different Frameworks as part of this release providing solutions including hardware integration, file format support, additional widgets, plotting functions, spell checking and more. Many of the Frameworks are cross platform and have minimal or no extra dependencies making them easy to build and add to any Qt application.
The release candidate for Plasma 5 has also been released.
Visopsys has seen a new release.
This maintenance release features enhanced internationalization support with Spanish and German translations, per-user settings, and extensive stability and performance improvements, most notably to the kernel memory, user input, disk I/O, and GUI subsystems.
More details can be found in the changelog.
While most leaks concerning the Lumia series fall under the purview of Windows Phone, a recent rumor by @evleaks suggests that Microsoft may be considering launching a Lumia branded handset that runs on Android.
There is no further information regarding the handset, when Microsoft intends to launch it. Nokia had previously launched Android powered handsets under the X series, but those devices ran a forked version of Android with Nokia's own digital store in lieu of Google's services.
Do Lumias running Android exist? No doubt. Will they actually make it onto shelves? Honestly, I don't think anybody knows for sure at this point. The Nokia X is weird enough as it is, and I wouldn't be surprised at all to see Microsoft releasing an Android Lumia. If they do, however, the real question is going to be if it'll come with the suite of Google applications, or with nothing but Microsoft services - greatly reducing its usefulness, at least here in the west.
I'd be very interested in a Lumia running Android, but only if it's got Google services. I don't think we need another Frankendroid.
I'd like to release this as an open source project, but at the moment I'm not comfortable with the patent issue (I'm interested in any advice on this topic). I live in a country outside the US (and without software patents), so should I just find a code hosting service with no relation with the US?
Fellow Sailfish developers and users chimed in, arguing he should be fine with releasing it as open source and hosting it outside of the US, with a warning that it should not be used in the US. He has accepted this advice, and is currently working on releasing it. While this is great news for Sailfish users, this does highlight the destructive nature of software patents.
Since he's going to release the code as open source, we can be 100% sure that none of the code in there is stolen from Swype and that none of it violates the open source license governing possible other swipe-like functionality (e.g. Google's Android keyboard). Ergo, he has developed this on his own, and has produced his own code, or used code that is freely available. It's a fruit of his labour, possibly infused with code that was meant to be used in a sharing manner.
And yet, despite the above, it's very likely that yes, he is violating a bunch of patents by producing this keyboard, and is, potentially, running a risk. I'm not so sure the legal advice given in the thread holds up - I'm not a lawyer, and neither are (I'm assuming) the people in the thread - but I'm at least happy he is willing to run the risk for us.
Now, I ask you: is this fair? Is this the future that we want for developers and programmers? Is this the message that the United States government, its technology companies, and said companies' public advocates want to send to aspiring hobby developers the world over? Should Europe, India, China, and the rest of the world just accept this?
I'm sure the proponents of software patents will wave this away to solve their state of cognitive dissonance, but I'm honestly and seriously worried about the developers who have not released, are not releasing, or will not release their code because of the bribes changing hands from Apple, Microsoft, IBM, Google, and the rest to Washington legislators.
Patents are supposed to spur innovation, not hinder it.
This year's Google I/O developer conference was a massively Android-centric affair. The OS dominated the two-and-a-half-hour keynote presentation, which saw a new platform version - Android "L" - previewed to developers, alongside new form factors in Android Wear, Android Auto and Android TV.
It really does seem as if Android is 'winning' inside Google. Android on phones, TVs, cars, and watches - the only exception here is laptops, but even those are getting sort-of Android because Android application will run on Chrome OS. You have to wonder how long it'll take for Chrome OS itself to more or less turn into Android.
The second interesting point that became very clear during Google I/O is that the company is taking control away from OEMs. OEMs cannot alter Android TV and Android Wear's user experience, and that's a huge customer win. The downside here is that there's a very real possibility that these platforms won't become part of AOSP, ruling out things like CyanogenMod TV or OmniROM Wear.
Third, while it's clear that Google is trying to exert more control of phone/tablet Android too, it's still not clear how far they're willing to go. There was nothing on 'Android Silver', and the fact that the company confirmed that the Nexus programme will not go away means they still see a need for OEM-less Android - which would not be necessary if Google managed to get the same kind of control over phones/tablets as it will have over TV/Wear.
Google didn't spend enough time on Material Design during the keynote. We saw a beautiful video and learned a little bit about the intent and thought behind Google's new cross-platform look (which we actually saw a bit earlier than anticipated), but there's so much more to be said. Having attended as many design sessions as possible during I/O, I think it's worth taking a somewhat closer look at Material Design. In this post we'll attempt to scratch a little bit deeper into what Material means, why it's awesome, and why it's a forward-looking move for Google.
I personally really like this new design direction, but the big question is going to be whether or not third party developers will embrace it. I still see non-Holo applications today, so I'm not getting my hopes up.