Chris Nacca has posted an interesting video, in which the startup times of applications are compared between a Nexus 5 (released about a year ago) and the brand new iPhone 6. As you can see in the video, application startup times are essentially the same between the two devices, and in both cases, applications open very quickly.
This raises an interesting question, more so because of this article I read on The Verge today, about some guy who was very depressed about his brand new iPhone 6 Plus because he couldn't use it with one hand. Aside from two obvious points - one, you have two hands, and two, didn't you know how big the phone was? - it struck me that with phones being used almost exclusively for very lightweight tasks, why would you rush out and buy the latest iPhone or Galaxy or whatever when it doesn't bring you any obvious benefit?
The iPhone 5S, or even the 5, is still a perfectly fine, fast, and capable phone, and other than getting a larger screen, upgrading to an iPhone 6 or 6 Plus will get you absolutely nothing. If even a year-old Nexus 5 that's only half the price gives you about the same performance when checking Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and so on, what's the point in spending $700-$900 on the new iPhone or Galaxy?
The video is not interesting because a Nexus 5 and iPhone 6 show equal application startup performance, but because it illustrates that the specifications race has already run its course. On desktop computers, newer machines at least give you better gaming performance, but on phones? Are you going to notice that little bit of extra AA or whatever the iPhone 6 is going to give you over the 5S?
Phones have really gotten into the numbers game, and it serves absolutely nobody, except the bank accounts of Apple and Samsung. The person in The Verge article is exactly how Apple and Samsung like their customers: rushing out to buy the latest and greatest phone, without giving it any obvious thought - not because they need it, but because they feel inferior if they don't have the latest and greatest, actual needs be damned.
Google has gone to valiant lengths to convince us that rumors of Google+’s demise have been greatly exaggerated, but Google is no longer forcing new Gmail users to connect their account to a Google+ profile - yet another move that could signal the end for Google’s troubled social network.
I think I speak for all of us when I say - well, nice of them to do something Google+-related right for a change.
In all seriousness - nobody asked for Google+, nobody wanted it, and virtually everyone hated it, and it does not solve any actual problem anyone had with Google products. It doesn't have to die, but it shouldn't be forced down our collective throats anymore.
Earlier this week, coder and game designer Jonathan Blow gave a presentation on his Twitch channel outlining his thoughts on why and how programmers might go about building a new programming language specifically for game development.
"We are literally killing ourselves every project, deathmarching to get games done," said Blow, during a Q&A segment. "It just really doesn't have to be anywhere near that bad -- at least for programmers."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
- 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
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.
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, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.