Big news a few months ago: Google announced that all new devices which ship with Lollipop would have encryption enabled by default. Fast forward to today, and aside from Google's own Nexus devices, none of the new Lollipop devices actually seem to have encryption enabled by default. It turns out that Google has quietly relaxed this requirement in the Android Compatibility Definition, from 'MUST' to 'very strongly RECOMMENDED'.
Why? Performance, supposedly.
Our best guess at this point is that the encrypted-by-default requirement was relaxed to give OEMs more time to prepare their hardware for the transition. The performance problems can be offset by using faster flash memory, faster file systems like F2FS, and chips that are better at encrypting and decrypting data quickly, but phones and tablets take long enough to design that OEMs will need time to make these changes. Whether the change in policy was prompted by external pressure or an internal decision isn't clear, but the performance explanation makes the most logical sense.
Ouch. It's pretty clear Google wanted to quickly gain some positive press, especially after Apple announced it would turn encryption on by default in iOS, but failed to look at any possible performance repercussions. Sleazy move.
NXP Semiconductors said on Sunday that it would buy a smaller peer, Freescale Semiconductor, in an $11.8 billion deal that would create a big maker of chips for industries as varied as automobiles and mobile payments.
The merger will also offer some relief to the private equity firms that bought Freescale at the height of the leveraged buyout boom, only to see the financial crisis bring the company low.
NXP is Dutch, and I have to admit, seeing a Dutch chip maker acquire Freescale makes me feel a little bit proud. Together with ASML, my little swamp does contribute at least something to the world of computing.
Samsung, naturally, is hoping to put the Galaxy S series back on people's radar as a top device, and it's doing so by starting afresh with the Galaxy S6 and S6 edge. Though it numerically follows the GS5, the Galaxy S6 bears little resemblance to the previous model, and marks a pretty significant change in the way Samsung designs phones. At the same time, the S6 edge picks up the fun parts of the Galaxy Note Edge and leaves behind the poor software experience.
There's a brand new design philosophy in play with the Galaxy S6 and S6 edge, starting with the radical hardware change and flowing into a more considered software experience. These are the phones that Samsung's hoping will change the perception of its devices in 2015 - let us show you what they're all about.
After HTC, Samsung was up. Most of the information regarding the new Galasy S6 and Galasy S6 Edge were leaked before their official unveiling, so we already knew what to expect. I'm particularly pleased with Samsung greatly simplifying TouchWiz, and the simplified camera interface and performance are very welcome too. The all-metal construction is nice, and I personally really like the Edge's curved display - not because of any software functionality, but because it just looks really nice and ergonomic.
During the unveiling event, one thing really stood out: confidence. Rarely have I seen Samsung personnel being this genuinely enthousiastic and confident about their new phones. They didn't resort to crazy antics or heavy buzzword dropping - they showed the device, its strengths, and that was it. For the first time, it felt as if Samsung truly believes the S6 and S6 Edge can stand on their own merit, instead of being held up by marketing and similar tricks.
My contract renewal is up later this year, and the S6 looks quite intriguing, and I haven't found any Samsung phone even remotely intriguing since the SII.
It's hard not to have high hopes for the HTC One M9. Its immediate predecessor and the first phone in this rebirth of the HTC's flagship line - that'd be 2014's HTC One M8 and 2013's M7 - were fan favorites, and highly regarded by those of us who critique phones for a living.
But those phones were not without their flaws. And as we've seen HTC slowly address its devices' shortcomings (while growing and innovating in other areas), it's been difficult to not expect it to finally get things - all the things - right.
At least that's what we've been hoping, especially when it comes to its one tragic feature: The inconsistent performance of its UltraPixel camera.
And that brings us to this. The HTC One M9. We've spent a little time with HTC's latest, and this is what we've found thus far.
The HTC One M9 - the new one, announced today - looks very similar to the M8, but of course with better specifications and updated software. As much as I think the One series might be the best Android phones out there in terms of build quality, I just can't get myself to like its overall design. I do hope, though, that the M9 sells in large enough numbers, because HTC is going to need it.
Today, after 2 years and 10 months of work, we are pleased to announce the release of the Xfce desktop 4.12, a new stable version that supersedes Xfce 4.10.
This long period can only be explained by how awesome Xfce 4.10 was. But as all things, it needed some refreshing - and for that we saw lots of new contributors providing valuable feedback, features and bugfixes. As always, Xfce follows its steady pace of evolution without revolution that seems to match our users' needs.
In this 4.12 cycle, we mainly focused on polishing our user experience on the desktop and window manager, and on updating some components to take advantage of newly available technologies.
Huawei is about to make its presence felt at MWC with the announcement of the Huawei Watch. The watch itself was first spotted yesterday on a billboard, but we now have full promo videos for this Android Wear-powered beauty that will be made official in a few hours. Posted to the Huawei YouTube channel, two videos walk through the design process for the watch and also show how cheesy Euros are when they take vacations with their brosephs.
Aside from the cheese, the videos do show one of the prettiest (this actually might be the prettiest) smartwatches we have seen to date. It features sapphire glass, a heart rate sensor, interchangeable leather or metal straps, crown, a bunch of classy watch faces, and a perfectly round watch face.
This thing is just gorgeous - full stop. Of course, it still has Android Wear which needs a lot of work, but it's clear that round is the way to go. Square just looks bulky, computery, and geeky.
A Lenovo press release today:
The events of last week reinforce the principle that customer experience, security and privacy must be our top priorities. With this in mind, we will significantly reduce preloaded applications. Our goal is clear: To become the leader in providing cleaner, safer PCs.
We are starting immediately, and by the time we launch our Windows 10 products, our standard image will only include the operating system and related software, software required to make hardware work well (for example, when we include unique hardware in our devices, like a 3D camera), security software and Lenovo applications. This should eliminate what our industry calls "adware" and "bloatware." For some countries, certain applications customarily expected by users will also be included.
A step in the right direction, but still way too much wiggle room. Why, for instance, do they insist on shipping third party antivirus crap when Windows has its own, faster security software built right in? And what are "Lenovo applications"?
Although long talked about, the Ubuntu Edge campaign exemplified the concept best with its "super phone" boast: your phone would hook up to a monitor, mouse and keyboard and become a fully functioning Ubuntu desktop PC. Phone apps would run on the desktop in an appropriate guise like responsive websites do on phones.
Today, ahead of Mobile World Congress next month, Ubuntu Desktop Manager Will Cooke has posted a three-minute video that shows how Canonical's engineering team is progressing.
My dream smartphone would be a phone that automatically turns into a PC the moment I get home. It knows I'm home, wirelessly and automatically hooks up to my display, mouse, and keyboard in my office, and done. Of course, it'd also automatically detect other displays and input devices in my house - say, a remote control and my TV.
Ubuntu is working on it.
With version 15.02, the Genode OS project complements its existing virtualization support for the x86 architecture with virtualization on ARM by turning their base-hw kernel into a microhypervisor. Besides virtualization, the most prominent underlying theme of the current release is the project's increasing focus on test automation and optimization.
Virtualization has a long history within the Genode project. After originally focusing on paravirtualized Linux kernels (L4Linux and OKLinux), the added support for the NOVA kernel and the Vancouver VMM in 2011 cleared the way towards hardware-based virtualization on the x86 architecture. In 2012, the project started exploring ARM TrustZone as another flavour of virtualization. With the Noux runtime, Genode introduced their take on OS-level virtualization. Finally, the transplantation of VirtualBox to NOVA last year marked the project's most ambitioned virtualization-related work. It enables VirtualBox to run as unprivileged user-level program on top of the NOVA microhypervisor.
During 2014, the Genode developers used those accumulated experiences to conquer another ground, namely the ARM virtualization extensions. The current release extends their custom kernel (called base-hw) with support for hosting virtual machines and adds a user-level virtual machine monitor that is capable of running an unmodified Linux-based system as guest OS. At a high level, it mirrors NOVA's virtualization architecture but for ARM-based systems. The microkernel/hypervisor implements merely the VM world switch and the virtualization of memory but leaves all the complex work to untrusted user-level virtual machine monitors. In fact, the added kernel complexity on account of virtualization support is less than 1,000 lines of code.
Besides the virtualization-related work, the base-hw kernel gained a further improved scheduler that takes IPC relationships into account, which is inspired by the pioneering work of NOVA. Furthermore, the project is happy to announce the principal ability to run Genode as secure-world OS on the upcoming USB Armory hardware platform.
Most of the other topics of the current release are concerned with improving the performance and stability of Genode-based system scenarios. The centerpiece of these efforts is a new tool kit for automating tests on a large variety of kernels and hardware platforms. In line with this overall theme, the new version vastly improves the user experience of VirtualBox on NOVA, comes with updated rump-kernel-based file-system support, and lifts long-standing scalability limitations on PC platforms.
More background information about all the improvements of version 15.02 are available in the extensive release documentation.
Leonard Nimoy, the sonorous, gaunt-faced actor who won a worshipful global following as Mr. Spock, the resolutely logical human-alien first officer of the Starship Enterprise in the television and movie juggernaut "Star Trek," died on Friday morning at his home in the Bel Air section of Los Angeles. He was 83.
"Of my friend, I can only say this: of all the souls I have encountered in my travels, his was the most... Human."
Fascinating inside scoop by WPCentral. According to them, there were very advanced talks between Microsoft and Pebble to come to a close partnership between the two companies. Microsoft built a fully functional Pebble application for Windows Phone with complete integration, offered to bundle Pebble devices with Windows Phone sales through Microsoft stores and carriers, and a whole lot more. All this was set to be announced at BUILD 2014.
However, it did not come to pass.
There is just one problem: Pebble founder and CEO Eric Migicovsky.
Despite Microsoft's attempts to win over Pebble, Migicovsky is reportedly not a fan of the company nor their mobile operating system. The young entrepreneur reportedly nixed any partnership.
Growing up in a world where Google and Apple have dominated the mobile scene, this perception that Microsoft is old and out of touch is seemingly more frequent these days. Particularly with those under 30 (see Snapchat's Evan Spiegel for a similar attitude). Even Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella was unable to persuade him personally.
If I were to take an uneducated stab at why Pebble didn't go through with this, I think we need to look no further than Apple. Apple has its watch coming, and that alone would be incentive enough for Apple to start making the life of other smartwatch makers who want to be compatible with iOS very difficult. Now imagine if Pebble, to boot, had a close partnership with Microsoft, including preferential treatment for Windows Phone? Apple is not exactly know for not being incredibly petty.
I think Pebble made the wise choice here.
Symmetric Multi-Processing (SMP) is on the wishlist of AmigaOS users for quite some time now, and while progress has been made, we're still not there yet.
To explain the progress, let us first look at the concept, and then point to where we are in the whole.
AmigaOS developer Thomas Frieden goes in-depth in the work currently under way to bring SMP to AmigaOS.
Now, more than a year into the SteamOS era (measuring from that beta launch), the nascent Linux gaming community is cautiously optimistic about the promise of a viable PC gaming market that doesn't rely on a Microsoft OS. Despite technical and business problems that continue to get in the way, Valve has already transformed gaming on Linux from "practically nothing" to "definitely something" and could be on the verge of making it much more than that.
Progress has been amazing, and once Valve gets its SteamOS and Steam Machines, things should pick up even more.
Google is bringing one familiar feature of Web search to its Google Play store: Paid search results.
The company said it will begin testing what it calls "sponsored" search results within its app store in the coming weeks. The move is intended to help developers better promote their apps in a store that boasts more than a million choices. Of course, it will also generate more revenue for Google.
Application stores are already completely and utterly useless and broken for application discovery, so I couldn't care less about this.
Over a billion people today carry Android smartphones - devices that are more powerful than the computers we used just a few years ago.
For many, these phones have become essential tools to help us complete important work tasks like checking email, editing documents, reviewing sales pipelines and approving deals. But for the majority of workers, smartphones and tablets are underutilized in the workplace. Their business and innovation potential remain largely untapped.
Today we're announcing the Android for Work program to tap into that potential. With a group of partners, we're helping businesses bring more devices to work by securing, managing and innovating on the Android platform.
The elephant in the room.
Tails 1.3 has been released.
Tails is a live system that aims to preserve your privacy and anonymity. It helps you to use the Internet anonymously and circumvent censorship almost anywhere you go and on any computer but leaving no trace unless you ask it to explicitly.
It is a complete operating system designed to be used from a DVD, USB stick, or SD card independently of the computer's original operating system. It is Free Software and based on Debian GNU/Linux.
A Linux distribution aimed at privacy.
Console OS, the Kickstarter project to release a distribution of Android specifically for regular PCs, has seen its first release. Sadly, for now, it only works with a relatively limited set of machines, so I can't try it out for you and tell you what it's like. I imagine it is not all that dissimilar from hooking a keyboard and mouse up to any other Android device, but it does add the ability to show two Android applications side by side. Additionally, it's based on KitKat and comes with the Google Play Store.
Interesting, but for now, the limited hardware support makes it hard to actually try it out. I'm intrigued though, and would really love to use it.
But here's the current reality, one that has been accurate for awhile. Apple has a very, very strong influence over what standards get adopted and what standards do not. Partly it's market share, partly it's developer bias (see, for example, how other vendors eventually felt forced to start supporting the webkit prefix due to vendor prefix abuse).
Apple simply does not play well with other vendors when it comes to standardization. The same sort of things we once criticized Microsoft for doing long ago, we give Apple a pass on today. They're very content to play in their own little sandbox all too often.
All this specifically pertaining to the Touch Events/Pointer Events dichotomy. The latter is superior, but Apple refuses to support it, while the former couldn't be adopted because of patent threats from Apple. So, Pointer Events is now finalised, but Apple will not implement it.
They're not the only ones to blame for yet another childish, nonsensical, anti-consumer spat in web standardisation - Google is just as much to blame. This is what a Google engineer has to say on the matter:
No argument that PE is more elegant. If we had a path to universal input that all supported, we would be great with that, but not all browsers will support PE. If we had Apple on board with PE, we’d still be on board too.
Android is the biggest mobile platform, and Chrome is the most popular desktop browser. Had Google the stones, they'd implement Pointer Events and help paint Apple in a corner. They refuse to do so, thereby contributing just as much to this nonsense as Apple.
All this reeks of specifically wanting to hurt the web just because these companies are competitors elsewhere. Bunch of children.
Today, we've been able to source the list of all the apps that will be pre-installed on the Galaxy S6 and the Galaxy S6 Edge. This list contains only two Samsung apps, three apps from Microsoft, all the Google apps, as well as apps like WhatsApp and Facebook. Samsung will also pre-install GALAXY APPS so that you can download other apps from Samsung, as well as other premium apps which Samsung provides for free.
Also, TouchWiz on the Galaxy S6 will not be much different from Android Lollipop based TouchWiz on the Galaxy Note 4, however the software will be leaner and faster, along with many more animations from Google’s latest design guidelines. Samsung has also updated the design of all the essential apps like music player, video player, and gallery to better suit Android 5.0 Lollipop.
Maybe Samsung learned its lesson?
Pebble has unveiled its new smartwatch - the Pebble Time. From an article The Verge published about the company and this new watch:
But this watch has a few tricks up its sleeve. For the first time, Pebble's smartwatch has a color e-paper LCD screen, replacing the black-and-white panels used on the Pebble and Pebble Steel. It’s not the same kind of display you'll find on an Android Wear watch or the Apple Watch; only 64 colors are available, and it has much less contrast, saturation, and resolution than other screens. It's more like a Game Boy Color screen than a modern smartphone display. But it uses very little power and is visible in bright daylight, letting Pebble keep the display on all the time without using a lot of battery life. That helps preserve one of Pebble's strengths over the competition: the company says the Pebble Time can last up to seven days between charges, far longer than other smartwatches.
Be sure to watch the video atop the article to get an idea of the awesome interface they have devised. The timeline concept, the distinctive animations - it's got some real personality and character. If you want a utilitarian smartwatch and don't care too much about looks, the Pebble seems to run circles around the charge-everyday, platform-locked competition.