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.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sun 7th Sep 2014 20:26 UTC
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless

The Galaxy Alpha is terrifically thin and light, though that's not the first thing you'll notice about it. It happens to be damn good looking too. The sheen from those polished edges makes all the difference, combining with the lustrous Super AMOLED display to make a great first impression. Some devices look better in press photos than reality - the LG G Watch R is a recent example - but the Galaxy Alpha is exactly the opposite. You have to see it in person to appreciate its slick and refined look. Everything is appropriately proportioned, the 4.7-inch screen size feels just right, and ease of one-handed use is as good as you'll get from any device in that size class. Those who might have felt let down by the new Moto X moving to a larger 5.2-inch screen may find solace in Samsung's more compact Alpha. Ergonomically, this phone is a delight. I don't want to call it perfect, but it kind of is.

The Galaxy Alpha is a very interesting device, because it's essentially Samsung's answer to Apple's upcoming iPhone 6, while the upcoming iPhone 6 is Apple's answer to Samsung's devices with larger screens. The same applies to Samsung's Note 4, which now also sports a metal construction. Over the coming months, we're going to see which of these two answers will have the biggest impact.

I don't like making predictions - people, and thus the market, are fickle - but I'm fairly convinced that once the dust of the new iPhones settles down (they will sell very well, of course), nothing much will have changed, market share-wise, compared to now. People aren't going to switch away from iOS because Samsung now offers metal phones, and similarly, Android users aren't going to switch to iOS because they're going to get an extra row of icons on their homescreen.

Still, all this shows competition in action: companies producing better products. We, the people, win.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 5th Sep 2014 21:41 UTC
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless

The first reviews of the Moto360 are in, and they're basically all unanimous: this is the first proper smartwatch, and if you want to buy a smartwatch today, this is the one you should go for. Reception is apparently good, since Motorola states they are already sold out - but they're not providing any numbers, so take that with a grain of salt.

That being said, there's one huge drawback to the Moto360, and in my view, it's a massive dealbreaker: battery life if poor. Very poor. Most reviews are reporting about 12 hours of battery life, which, for a watch, is completely, utterly, and wholly unacceptable. People had to put it back on its chargers late in the afternoon, which effectively makes it a useless device.

Apple, it's your turn. I wonder if you've solved the battery problem.


Linked by Morgan on Thu 4th Sep 2014 21:10 UTC
Hardware, Embedded Systems

VIA is working on a new x86 compatible CPU codenamed Isaiah II, the first in years from the company. Its low power, highly efficient design compares favorably to offerings from AMD and Intel in the same market. It was tested on a VIA branded motherboard with a VIA chipset, giving hope to Free Software users who currently struggle with locked down or unsupported boards from the major manufacturers.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 4th Sep 2014 21:09 UTC
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless

LG was one of the first out of the gate with an Android Wear smartwatch and, well, let's just say there was room for improvement. The original G Watch suffered from short battery life, a high price and a homely design. Now, just a few months later, LG is back with the G Watch R, the first smartwatch with a completely circular screen (read: no black strip at the bottom, like on the Moto 360). Unfortunately, the G Watch R doesn't correct all of the original's shortcomings - it has a similar-sized battery, rated for up to two days, and an LG rep told us it will be more expensive.

This - and the Moto360 - looks like the first smartwatch that appeals to me. The Gear things from Samsung, the Pebble devices, and so on, all look like you strapped a computer to your wrist that happens to be able to display the time. They look like computers, not watches. This, however, is starting to look like an actual watch - that also happens to display Android notifications.

Today, I devised the funeral test. You see, a watch is something I always wear when I'm outside the house, no exceptions. All my regular watches can be worn at any time, during any occasion - even a funeral. The moment I can wear a smartwatch to a funeral and not look like an inconsiderate ass (because it looks like a smartphone and thus people might think I'm checking Twitter or something - which I will not be doing, of course), that's the smartwatch that will be a winner, because it can replace an actual watch.

This LG watch is getting closer, but it's still not there - it's still bigger than even my biggest watch (the red one in this photo), and looks uncomfortable. However, it's getting closer, and I'm very curious to see what Apple will come up with.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 4th Sep 2014 11:05 UTC
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless

Samsung's shown itself to be entirely unafraid when it comes to smartwatches. It's willing to try any size, any spec, any combination of features in an attempt to figure out what consumers want in a wearable. Its latest try, the Gear S, is a combination of Samsung's newest and best ideas - and a couple of ideas it'll soon leave by the roadside as well.

Once the Moto360, the round LG G Watch R, and Apple's supposed entry come out, we will look at these ridiculous Samsung contraptions in the same way we look at these now.

My favourite moment in the video: when the full QWERTY keyboard pops up. Samsung just has no taste.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 3rd Sep 2014 20:59 UTC
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless

It's IFA in Berlin this week, and as always, most of the new devices announced are iterations on what came before and not particularly interesting. One device stands out, though - and it's a Samsung.

The Note Edge is, on paper at least, only the slightest variation on the new Note 4. It has the same metallic design, a huge improvement on anything Samsung’s done before. It has the same soft-touch back, blissfully without the fake stitching. It has the same 16-megapixel camera, the same heart-rate monitor, the same processor, the same memory, the same software, the same new Multi Window feature, the same everything. It's an incredibly high-end, incredibly powerful phone. It even has a Quad HD, 2560 x 1440 display like the Note 4, though this one is slightly smaller at 5.6 inches rather than 5.7.

But there's more to the Note Edge than its spec sheet.

That 'more' refers to its display. The right edge of the display is curved downward, creating a sort of little side display attached to the big one. This little side display can be used to show additional application controls, a ticker, an alarm clock, and so on. It looks kind of neat, but as always with Samsung, I'm pretty sure their software is going to ruin it and turn it into even more of a gimmick than it already is.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 2nd Sep 2014 19:14 UTC

We wanted to provide an update to our investigation into the theft of photos of certain celebrities. When we learned of the theft, we were outraged and immediately mobilized Apple's engineers to discover the source. Our customers' privacy and security are of utmost importance to us. After more than 40 hours of investigation, we have discovered that certain celebrity accounts were compromised by a very targeted attack on user names, passwords and security questions, a practice that has become all too common on the Internet. None of the cases we have investigated has resulted from any breach in any of Apple's systems including iCloud or Find my iPhone.

So, iCloud accounts were compromised, but iCloud was not compromised.



Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 2nd Sep 2014 17:22 UTC
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless

It's been a long while since we announced our Alpha 2 release back in June of 2013, but today after months of very hard work we are very proud and happy to provide our latest release to the community now named "LuneOS".

The first eye catching change is the new name we'll be using for our project going forward. The distribution will be called "LuneOS" instead of "WebOS Ports Open webOS" because it wasn't very catchy. Lune is the French translation of moon and refers to the user interface we all love so much in legacy webOS, LunaSysMgr, which is named after the Latin/Spanish translation of moon.

The release model for LuneOS is a rolling one where each of the releases will get its own name from a list of coffee beverages. This first release is "Affogato".

It only supports the Nexus 4 and HP TouchPad, for now. Their focus is to provide a stable base for these devices, but they won't try to compete feature-for-feature with the likes of Android and iOS. Essentially, it's webOS for those of us who remember the operating system fondly - hopefully with some of the rough spots ironed out.

Interestingly, it makes use of libhybris, which is a contribution from Jolla's Carsten Munk to the mobile world. It allows Wayland to run atop Android GPU drivers. Open source can be a beautiful thing.


Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 1st Sep 2014 19:09 UTC
Internet & Networking

Over the weekend someone released hundreds of revealing photos of celebrities that appear to have been stolen from private storage. In response to this, a bunch of anonymous guys on the internet copied them and posted them all over the town square, because the internet is written in ink and if you are ever a victim once in your life the internet will remind you of it forever.

These men are the detritus of human society for whom the internet provides a warm blanket, so let's remove the warm blanket for a minute.

If the NSA spies on us, it's a massive violation of privacy and omg government and #impeachobama. When some (hopefully not for much longer) anonymous hacker breaks into the personal, private accounts of dozens of famous women, steals their most private photographs, and posts them online, these same men shouting from the rooftops about the NSA retreat to their bunkers, share the photos as much as they can, and do much more I'd rather not imagine right now.

Props to The Verge for this article.