Linked by Eugenia Loli on Fri 24th Oct 2014 07:41 UTC
Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Xubuntu Slashdot reports that Ubuntu 14.10, dubbed Utopic Unicorn, has been released today. PC World says that at first glance "isn't the most exciting update," with not so much as a new default wallpaper -- but happily so: it's a stable update in a stable series, and most users will have no pressing need to update to the newest version.

 

Linked by Eugenia Loli on Thu 23rd Oct 2014 03:59 UTC
Apple The new iPad is thinner, lighter and faster, but its biggest draw is yesterday’s features: Touch ID and a better camera, says The Guardian. Also reviews at The Verge, and Engadget.

 



Linked by Eugenia Loli on Wed 22nd Oct 2014 02:27 UTC
Google News broke this morning that Google, alongside a number of venture capital firms, led a $542 million investment in a mysterious startup named Magic Leap. The company is promising to "build a rocket ship for the mind" that will completely reinvent the way we experience the world. Founder Rony Abovitz calls his technology "cinematic reality" and says it goes way beyond what virtual or augmented reality have so far been able to accomplish. More at Engadget, and NYT.

 

Linked by Eugenia Loli on Mon 20th Oct 2014 20:07 UTC
Apple Apple’s iOS 8.1 update is now available to download. The biggest addition is the new Apple Pay service which goes live today alongside iOS 8.1. Apple Pay will allow iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPad Air 2, and iPad mini 3 owners to pay for goods within compatible apps by simply swiping a finger with Touch ID. iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus owners will also be able to use their phones to tap card readers in participating stores to pay for goods using a combination of Touch ID and NFC. Apple Pay integrates into the existing Passbook feature on iOS 8.1, allowing you to setup and store credit and debit cards. More info at The Verge.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 16th Oct 2014 19:05 UTC
Mac OS X

Apple officially released OS X Yosemite today, and to mark that occasion - as has become tradition among our people - the only OS X Yosemite review you need, from John Siracusa.

OS X and iOS have been trading technologies for some time now. For example, AVFoundation, Apple's modern framework for manipulating audiovisual media, was released for iOS a year before it appeared on OS X. Going in the other direction, Core Animation, though an integral part of the entire iPhone interface, was released first on the Mac. Yosemite's new look continues the pattern; iOS got its visual refresh last year, and now it's OS X's turn.

But at this year's Worldwide Developers Conference, Apple made several announcements that point in a new direction: iOS and OS X advancing in lockstep, with new technologies that not only appear on both platforms simultaneously but also aim to weave them together.

These new, shared triumphs run the gamut from traditional frameworks and APIs to cloud services to the very foundation of Apple's software ecosystem, the programming language itself. Apple's dramatic leadership restructuring in 2012 put Federighi in charge of both iOS and OS X - a unification of thought that has now, two years later, resulted in a clear unification of action. Even the most ardent Mac fan will admit that iOS 7 was a bigger update than Mavericks. This time around, it's finally a fair fight.

Grab some tea or coffee, and enjoy.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 16th Oct 2014 18:59 UTC
Apple

Apple introduced a 5K Retina iMac today.

iMac has always been about having a huge, immersive place to see and create amazing things. So making the best possible iMac meant making the best possible display. The new 27‑inch iMac with Retina 5K display has four times as many pixels as the standard 27‑inch iMac display. So you experience unbelievable detail. On an unbelievable scale.

At a relatively mere $2500 (a dell 5K display will set you back just as much, and that's just a display), this is an amazing machine. It's not useful for me (certainly not at that price point), but professionals are going to eat this thing up.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 15th Oct 2014 17:10 UTC
Android

Time for happy news! Google has just released Android 5.0 Lollipop, and to accompany the release of their latest treat, they're also unveiling not one, but three new Nexus devices.

Let's start with Android Lollipop. Since its features have been unveiled months ago, there's little news to tell you that you don't already know. The biggest visible change is Material Design, the brand new design and behaviour language that spans all of Android's screens - from watch to car. Notifications have been significantly overhauled, and Lollipop will give you more control over what you see and when. There's also a lot of work done on battery usage, and Google promises you should get 90 minutes more battery life with the battery saver feature.

As fa as security goes, and as we touched upon recently, all new devices will come with encryption turned on by default, making it harder for third parties to see what's on your device if it get stolen or impounded. Lollipop will also be the first Android release to swap out Dalvik in favour of ART, and it brings support for 64bit.

Google will release a new Developer Preview for Android Lollipop this Friday, which, looking at its label, still isn't complete. Of course, this build is for Nexus devices only.

The Nexus devices, too, have been leaked extensively. There's the Motorola-made Nexus 6, with its huge 6" 2560x1440 display, Snapdragon 805 processor, and a 13 MP camera with OIS. It basically looks like a larger Moto X - not exactly my thing (way too large), and the price is decidedly non-Nexus too: $649. It'll be available on contract, too. Luckily, the Nexus 5 remains available as well. Pre-orders will open late October.

The second new Nexus is the Nexus 9, built by HTC. As the name suggests, it's got a 9" 2048x1536 with a 4:3 aspect ratio. The processor is interesting: NVIDIA Tegra K1 64-bit dual-core processor at 2.3 GHz, making this the first 64bit Nexus device. It's a lot cheaper than the Nexus 6 at a mere $399, and it will also be available for pre-order 17 October (in stores on 3 November).

Lastly, there's the odd one out: the Nexus Player. It's a box (well, circle) for your TV, much like the Apple TV. It's actually got an Intel Atom processor inside, making it the first x86 Nexus device. It's got all the usual TV stuff, and Google is selling a dedicated gaming controller separately. It'll also be available for pre-order on 17 October, for $99.

I can't wait to update my Nexus 5 to Lollipop, but I'm a little unsure about the Nexus 6. It's huge and expensive (in Nexus terms), and I just don't like the Motorola design (but that's moot).

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 15th Oct 2014 08:50 UTC
Games

It's been another fantastic few days in the fabricated GamerGate terror campaign. This past weekend, female game developer Brianna Wu was forced to alert the police and leave her home, after receiving threats that she, her family, and possible children would face rape, mutilation, and death. Wu has vowed to not bow to the terrorist threats, and will continue to develop games.

Wu's ordeal was just the last in a long line of GamerGate terrorism, and yesterday we reached a new low.

Gaming critic Anita Sarkeesian was scheduled to hold a talk at Utah State University. However, GamerGate terrorists threatened to enact "the largest school shooting in American history" if the talk were to take place. The contents of the terrorist threat are horrific, and fit the general tone of GamerGate terrorism; threats of rape, murder, mutilation, the usual stuff, but now also with mass murder, automatic rifles, and pipe bombs.

Sadly, the GamerGate terrorists have won, because of concealed carry laws in Utah. Sarkeesian asked the police to perform pat-downs and check for firearms so she would not get murdered, but the police told her that if someone has a valid firearm permit for concealed carry, they are allowed to bring the weapons to the talk. As a result, Sarkeesian was forced to cancel the talk to ensure she and attendees would not get murdered.

And so, these people have successfully employed terrorism to stifle free speech. These GamerGate terrorist threats will continue, because sadly, there is very little that can be done to stop them. Sarkeesian - and several other women who have received terrorist threats from GamerGate supporters - have vowed to continue doing their work.

At this point, we're essentially just waiting for the first GamerGate supporter to murder someone. We like to think of terrorism as something done by outsiders, something imported from other countries or cultures. However, these GamerGate threats are just as much terrorism - we just hate calling it that because it hits too close to home.

Meanwhile, we're hearing very little - if nothing - from large game companies and distributors. These companies and distributors should, of course, take a stand against GamerGate terrorism, but they also know full well that they might lose business over it. So, they decide to shut up. Will it take an actual murder before they speak up?

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 14th Oct 2014 20:13 UTC
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless

Pop quiz, hotshot: When's the last time you saw a Sharp phone in the United States? The Sharp FX from years back? Maybe the FX Plus? If you're anything like me, your mind will hearken back to chunky clamshell classics like this one. Long story short, it's been ages since Sharp has had any kind of mobile presence around these parts. That's something the Japanese company is finally ready to change, and it's aiming to do it with a splash. Enter the AQUOS Crystal, one of the most striking phones you'll ever see. It's finally available for $149 on Boost Mobile now and Sprint will get it come October 17th, but we have questions -- so many questions. Has Sharp figured out a way to crack the all-too-fickle US market? Are we looking at a classic case of style over substance?

The AQUOS Crystal (and its higher-end, Japan-only brother) looks stunning. Hopefully, this is where the future is going: displays becoming nothing but glass, without bezels or bodies. This way, displays would truly integrate and disappear into our surroundings, so they aren't always the centre of attention. Put the AQUOS Crystal next to any other current phone, and they all look decidedly dated and old-fashioned.

I hope this new US effort works out well for Sharp, because it's really too bad that their often interesting and striking devices are Japan-only.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 14th Oct 2014 16:38 UTC
Mac OS X

My ultimate fear is that the complacent state of the Mac App Store would lead to the slow erosion of the Mac indie community. The MAS is the best place to get your software, it comes bundled with your OS, it's very convenient but when all the issues compound, developers will vote with their feet and continue the slow exodus. I feel that Apple needs to encourage the availability of high quality software rather than quantity over quality - the first step would addressing the core issues that have been known for years. The Mac platform would be a much worse place if we prioritise short-term gains, boasting about the hundreds of thousands of free abandonware rather than concentrate on the long-term fundamentals to sustain a healthy and innovative ecosystem.

It's finally starting to dawn on people that application stores' primary goal is not to make the lives of developers easier. No, the one true goal of application stores is to drive the price of software down to zero or near-zero - and if the side effect of that is that the independent and small developers who built your platform go out of business or leave the platform altogether, that's just too damn bad.

It was fun in the short term, when the low-hanging fruits were ripe for the picking, but everyone with more than two brain cells to rub together could see the unsustainability of it all. The 'app economy' is pretty close to bust, and I suspect zero to none of the suggestions listed in this article will be implemented by Apple. It's not in their interest to raise the prices of software in their application stores.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 13th Oct 2014 18:38 UTC
Internet & Networking

GSM/EDGE-only subscriptions represent the largest share of mobile subscriptions today (over 85% of the world's population). In developed markets there has been rapid migration to more advanced technologies, resulting in a decline in GSM/EDGE-only subscriptions. Despite this, GSM/EDGE will continue to represent a large share of total mobile subscriptions. This is because new, less affluent users in developing markets will likely choose a low-cost mobile phone and subscription. In addition, it takes time for the installed base of phones to be upgraded. GSM/EDGE networks will also continue to be important in complementing WCDMA/HSPA and LTE coverage in all markets.

I live in one of the richest countries on earth, and supposedly we have 100% coverage for 3G from all three major carriers. The truth is, however, more muddied. The town where I live technically has T-Mobile 3G, but only the very lowest quality, resulting in T-Mobile customers (like me) effectively never having a 3G connection in town. Interestingly enough, the moment I leave town - literally the moment I cross the road that marks the end of town - I magically have a perfectly stable 3G connection all the way to the coast (about 4km away).

Those 4km consists almost exclusively of cow pastures and uninhabited coastal sand dunes.

So please, developers, take 2G into account. Even in developed nations, there are many people who ain't getting more.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 10th Oct 2014 23:28 UTC
Apple

Apple's Jony Ive, on Xiaomi's style and products that are... "Inspired" by Apple.

There is a danger...I don't see it as flattery. I see it as theft. (Talking about copying desings in general). When you're doing something for the first time and you don't know it's going to work. I have to be honest the last thing I think is "Oh, that is flattering. All those weekends I could've been home with my family...I think it's theft and lazy. I don't think it's OK at all."

Xiaomi is shameless about trying to be as Apple-like as can be, and while you all know how I feel about Apple's tendency to claim it invented and owns everything, with Xiaomi Apple certainly has a very strong point.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 10th Oct 2014 23:19 UTC
Windows

With Windows 10, the update approach is set to change substantially. Microsoft is acknowledging the need, and even desirability, of making regular incremental improvements to its operating system. It's also, however, acknowledging the different appetite for change between consumers and enterprise users.

While all users, both enterprise and otherwise, will be using the same core operating system, for the first time, there will be different update policies for different kinds of user. The old fiction of not making feature changes to a shipping operating system is finally being put to bed.

A very sensible move in the current computing environment. I wonder if regular users, too, can opt for the slower update policy. There's a UI for the settings in the Windows 10 Technical Preview, but it's non-functional.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 10th Oct 2014 21:32 UTC
Games

Dozens of those players are now in Seoul, at the fourth world championship. On Oct. 19, the finals will be held in a stadium built for soccer's World Cup, with 40,000 fans expected and many times that number watching online. Last year, Riot Games says, 32 million people around the world saw a South Korean team win the Summoner's Cup, along with a grand prize of $1 million, in the Staples Center in Los Angeles. That's an audience larger than the one that tuned in to the last game of the N.B.A. finals that year.

I play League of Legends, and the sheer size of the game and everything related to it still baffles me. I, too, watch the World Championships live, I play almost every day, watch other people play on live streams and youTube, and I'm still enjoying it. Quite the phenomenon.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 9th Oct 2014 09:33 UTC
Benchmarks

So there you have it. As of October 4, Google Now has a clear lead in terms of the sheer volume of queries addressed, and more complete accuracy with its queries than either Siri or Cortana. All three parties will keep investing in this type of technology, but the cold hard facts are that Google is progressing the fastest on all fronts.

Not surprising, really, considering Google's huge information lead. Still, I have yet to find much use for these personal assistants - I essentially only use Google Now to set alarms and do simple Google queries, but even then only the English ones that do not contain complicated names.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 8th Oct 2014 12:32 UTC
Legal

It's our belief that we are entitled under the First Amendment to respond to our users' concerns and to the statements of U.S. government officials by providing information about the scope of U.S. government surveillance - including what types of legal process have not been received. We should be free to do this in a meaningful way, rather than in broad, inexact ranges.

So, today, we have filed a lawsuit in federal court seeking to publish our full Transparency Report, and asking the court to declare these restrictions on our ability to speak about government surveillance as unconstitutional under the First Amendment. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals is already considering the constitutionality of the non-disclosure provisions of the NSL law later this week.

Good move by Twitter.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 8th Oct 2014 12:27 UTC
Internet & Networking

It begins with simple threats. You know, rape, dismemberment, the usual. It's a good place to start, those threats, because you might simply vanish once those threats include your family. Mission accomplished. But today, many women online - you women who are far braver than I am - you stick around. And now, since you stuck around through the first wave of threats, you are now a much BIGGER problem. Because the Worst Possible Thing has happened: as a result of those attacks, you are NOW serving Victim-Flavored Koolaid.

And Victim-Flavored Koolaid is the most dangerous substance on earth, apparently. And that just can't be allowed.

The fact that I have to turn off comments on articles about the systematic abuse women receive from these low-life idiots on a small site like OSNews is all the proof you need. Until I no longer receive abusive comments for pointing out this issue, comments will remain closed.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 7th Oct 2014 21:10 UTC
IBM

The first thing you notice about the IBM Model M keyboard, when you finally get your hands on it, is its size. After years of tapping chiclet keys and glass screens on two- and three-pound devices, hefting five pounds of plastic and metal (including a thick steel plate) is slightly intimidating. The second thing is the sound - the solid click that's turned a standard-issue beige peripheral into one of the computer world’s most prized and useful antiques.

I have a Model M somewhere at my parents' house, with the very rare Dutch keyboard layout (we use US English now). However, I absolutely detest keyboards like that. I prefer keyboards with a decent click, but as little travel as possible, so that it requires as little pressure as possible to press a key, yet still get a decent click. Surprisingly - to some, perhaps - I am a huge fan of Apple's separate (so non-laptop) keyboard, and you can pry mine from my cold, dead hands.

However, I know I'm in the minority, and the Model M is a hugely popular beast of a keyboard. Great article by The Verge.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 7th Oct 2014 15:11 UTC
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless

Jaakko Roppola, senior designer at Jolla, writes:

I get asked this a lot so I did a post about it.

Simple really.

A Sailfish application has a much higher UX potential than any other platform counterpart. The whole operating system is designed around an unobstructed and efficient use of applications. What you as a user want to do.

That's all well and fine, and we all know why native applications are superior to less-than-native counterparts - which in the case of Sailfish comes down specifically to Android applications, which it supports quite well. The reality, however, is that these reasons are not even remotely enough to draw developers of native applications to Sailfish.

Early this year, I wrote a comprehensive review of Jolla and Sailfish. Since then, a lot of people have been asking me to revisit that review, and go into the current state of the platform. It's something that I've been wanting to do for a while now, but I've been putting it off because to be honest - there is very little to tell.

The general conclusion of the review was that Sailfish was a good operating system considering its age, with a comprehensive user interface that was a joy to use, and that was both fast, smooth, and intuitive. Being a new platform, its biggest issue was of course the lack of third party applications - but even there, the platform got off on a good start with a few high-quality applications such a WhatsApp client, a great Twitter client, a barebones but decent Facebook client, and a few others. For a platform that was only a few weeks or months old at the time, that was a great running start.

Sadly, even though we're almost a year down the line, the state of the platform is still pretty much exactly the same. The operating system itself has improved even further, and continues to do so at a decent pace. Every time I boot my Jolla, Sailfish delights me with its intuitive and smooth, one-handed interface. Between the review and now, we've seen like 10 proper operating system updates, and each of them have improved the operating system in noticeable ways. It's nowhere near as complete or full-featured as Android, iOS and WP, but it will certainly cover users of those platforms just fine.

As far as third-party applications go, however, the situation is - and let's not sugar-coat it - dire. The applications I highlighted in my review and again a few paragraphs above are still pretty much the only proper Sailfish applications today, with the note that the Facebook client hasn't seen any development in months and is, as far as I can tell, abandoned. Other than that, virtually every time I get my hopes up when I see tweets about "new" Sailfish applications, it's yet another Android application that also works on Sailfish.

Of course, we all knew this was going to be the hardest - and largest - piece of the Sailfish puzzle. However, I did expect more than what we have now. I'm sure the lack of support for paid applications plays a role here, discouraging more professional, non-hobby developers from joining in on the fun as a side-project. Whatever the cause, we're still looking at a third-party applications landscape that isn't much better than what I saw back in January.

It could be that there's a lot of stuff going on behind the scenes to get developers interested, but so far, we haven't seen much sign of that. I'm obviously not going to write off the platform or anything like that - the operating system is too good and fun for that - but progress on the application front is sorely, sorely needed.

Right now, my Jolla spends most of its time in my device drawer, only to be booted up when there's an update or when I'm bored. Sailfish deserves more, but I'm not sure how they're going to get it.

 

Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sat 4th Oct 2014 01:37 UTC, submitted by Yoni
Apple

The reality, though, is that Apple Pay is an exceedingly secure mobile payment platform. In fact, it may very well be the safest way to make any type of credit card payment. To understand why, below is a general overview of how the system works behinds the scenes. Note that this article is meant to paint the Apple Pay process in broad strokes, as a good portion of the nitty-gritty technical details aren't yet publicly known and, due to security considerations, may never be fully disclosed.

Keywords: credit card. Europe and much of the rest of the developed world has already left those insecure cards behind, using chip and PIN-based systems using debit cards instead. In other words, Apple Pay could be nice for the antiquated US payment market, where Apple still has a decent market share to pull this off.

Europe? I'm not so sure.