Apple reveals Vision Pro, available for $3,499 “early next year”

After years of speculation, leaks, rumors, setbacks, and rumblings of amazing behind-the-scenes demos, Apple has made its plans for a mixed reality platform and headset public. Vision Pro is “the first Apple Product you look through, not at,” Apple’s Tim Cook said, a “new AR platform with a new product” that augments reality by seamlessly blending the real world with the digital world.

The headset will start at $3,499 and be available early next year. That puts the device in an entirely different class than most existing VR headsets, including the $550 PSVR2 (which requires a tethered PS5 to use) and the $500 Quest 3 that was just announced for a fall release.

The technology on display here is amazing, but the presentation itself, including Apple’s proposed use cases, were thoroughly dystopian. When you’re wearing it, a video feed of your eyes can be shown on the outside display when talking to someone next to you, which looks like pure nightmare fuel to me. Apple also showed a birthday party where the dad was wearing this thing while his daughter and her friends were blowing out the candles – which, as a dad… Just no. Don’t wear the creepy glowing robot face during your daughter’s birthday party.

Other than that, since it has no controllers, the gaming proposition consisted of regular “2D” games projected on a screen, so you can’t play popular VR games like Beat Saber or Gorilla Tag. Since the device tries very hard to mimic a traditional user interface in VR, many of the renders shown off during the presentation consisted of floating windows. Videoconferencing consisted of floating windows with camera feeds from the participants, for instance, while the VR user’s face is rendered onto an avatar. Showing multiple application windows floating around you definitely looks very cool, but whether or not that’s actually a pleasant user experience? I don’t know.

But the biggest problem with the whole presentation is that Apple has not actually showed off anything tangible. Everything shown off during the keynote was fake – prerendered special effects layered onto video, and since nobody has received any hands-on time with the actual hardware, and thus nobody outside of Apple has seen the real user interface in action, we actually have no idea how it will actually look, feel, and perform. This is the AR/VR equivalent of using prerendered cinematics to create hype for a video game, and we should know better by now.

If there’s one company that can convince people to spend $3500 to strap an isolating dystopian glowing robot mask onto their faces it’s Apple, but I still have a hard time believing this is what people want.

Apple unveils macOS Sonoma

Apple today announced macOS Sonoma, the latest version of its Mac operating system. Launching this fall, macOS Sonoma includes several new features, including desktop widgets, Apple TV-like aerial screensavers, enhancements to apps like Messages and Safari, a new Game mode that prioritizes CPU and GPU performance for gaming, and more.

Apple also showed off iOS 17, watchOS 10, and iPadOS 17.

iOS 17‌ features personalized contact posters with photos, Memojis, and eye-catching typography that appear during calls and in the updated address book. A new Live Voicemail feature brings live-transcription in real-time, allowing old-school call screening. Users can now pick up the phone mid-voicemail and transcription is handled-on device.

Developer betas will be available starting today, with the final releases expected in the Fall.

This is the new Apple Silicon Mac Pro

The Mac Pro might not look different from its predecessor on the outside, but on the inside, Intel’s Xeon CPU and AMD’s Radeon Pro graphics are gone, and in their place we have a new chip called the M2 Ultra. This is the same chip in the new Mac Studio; it has a 24-core CPU and an up to 76-core GPU, and it starts with twice the memory and SSD storage of the old Mac Pro. Apple promises it will be “3x faster” than the Intel Mac Pro. Memory tops out at 192GB. These stats all match the new Mac Studio—the only thing you get from the bigger chassis is expansion capabilities and more ports.

The whole point of a Mac tower is support for traditional expansion cards, and that normally means discrete GPUs. Apple demoed some expansion cards, but none of them were graphics cards. It sounds like you’ll be using the M2 Ultra’s on-board GPU. Making real graphics cards work with an ARM chip would have been a massive undertaking—for starters, no ARM drivers exist. Even for the non-GPU options, compatibility will be an interesting problem. Apple calls out digital signal processing (DSP) cards, serial digital interface (SDI) I/O cards, and additional networking and storage as PCI express card possibilities.

Apple’s transition from Intel to ARM is now complete, and there’s no denying they’ve done a fantastic job. The competition is catching up, but for now, especially the Mac laptop lineup is in the best state it’s ever been in.

Windows 11’s redesigned File Explorer leaks online, here’s our closer look

At Build 2023 developer conference, Microsoft finally teased the all-new modern File Explorer refresh. It’s unclear when the update is coming out, but we have accessed an early and unreleased version of the new File Explorer that mirrors what was teased at the conference.

This definitely looks like a marked improvement over the aging current File Explorer, which isn’t very hard to do. It should ship somewhere later this year.

Red Hat stops packaging LibreOffice as RPM for RHEL and Fedora, suggests Flatpak instead

The tradeoff is that we are pivoting away from work we had been doing on desktop applications and will cease shipping LibreOffice as part of RHEL starting in a future RHEL version. This also limits our ability to maintain it in future versions of Fedora.

We will continue to maintain LibreOffice in currently supported versions of RHEL (RHEL 7, 8 and 9) with needed CVEs and similar for the lifetime of those releases (as published on the Red Hat website). As part of that, the engineers doing that work will contribute some fixes upstream to ensure LibreOffice works better as a Flatpak, which we expect to be the way that most people consume LibreOffice in the long term.

I’m no fan of Flatpak for a multitude of reasons, but at the same time, I can’t blame Red Hat and other distribution makers for not wanting to maintain a complex set of packages such as LibreOffice. This does give me pause regarding my current use of Fedora on two of my three machines, as I do not wish to rely on Flatpak for anything serious.

ArcaOS 5.0.8 released

ArcaOS 5.0.8 includes refreshed driver content, updated kernel and included software, as well as installation boot fixes since 5.0.7 was released at the end of 2021. It also rolls in a few fixes that come from our 5.1.0 development work. ArcaOS 5.0.8 can be used for new installs or to update any prior version of ArcaOS 5. If you have experienced difficulty installing previous releases of ArcaOS on your hardware, 5.0.8 may address your issue(s).

This is a small point release in the run-up to the release of ArcaOS 5.1.0, which will be a much bigger update, but that is currently held back by the developers having to redesign their ISO delivery stack. The wiki has all the detailed changes since 5.0.7.

DESKTOP2: a graphical user interface for DOS

DESKTOP is a graphical user interface for DOS, which ones used to be a commercial shell like MS-Windows 3.0 or GEOS. However, due to the dominance of MS-Windows 95, we were forced to stop publishing the program, so it’s free now…

I’ve done a lot of digging into these alternative shells for both MS-DOS and Windows 3.x/9x, but I had somehow never heard of this one. It’s freely available, and has some neat and interesting features, like copy and paste, a full file manager, and much more.

Windows 11’s Get Help support app is showing ads as well now

Windows 11 users who open the official Get Help support application of the operating system may be greeted with an advertisement for Microsoft’s Teams application now.

The ad is not the first for Microsoft Teams in Windows 11. Back in late 2021, a Microsoft Teams advertisement was causing freezes on Windows 11 systems it was displayed on.

Another day, another ad. Fun times to be a Windows user.

A developer says Reddit could charge him $20 million a year to keep his app working

Apollo, the popular Reddit app for iOS, could face millions of dollars in fees as a result of Reddit’s new paid API modelAccording to an update posted by developer Christian Selig, Reddit could charge Apollo roughly $20 million per year if it continues operating at its current scale.

Reddit announced changes to its API policy in April, which allows the platform to put limits on the number of API requests made by a third-party client like Apollo. But now, we have more details on what exactly this means: Selig says Reddit plans on charging about $12,000 per 50 million requests.

Reddit looked at Twitter and thought now that’s how you run a business.

The solid legal theory behind Nintendo’s new emulator takedown effort

Ars Technica:

This weekend saw an exception to that rule, though, as Nintendo’s lawyers formally asked Valve to cut off the planned Steam release of Wii and Gamecube emulator Dolphin. In a letter addressed to the Valve Legal Department (a copy of which was provided to Ars by the Dolphin Team), an attorney representing Nintendo of America requests that Valve take down Dolphin’s “coming soon” Steam store page (which originally went up in March) and “ensure the emulator does not release on the Steam store moving forward.” The letter exerts the company’s “rights under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA)’s Anti-Circumvention and Anti-Trafficking provisions,” even though it doesn’t take the form of a formal DMCA takedown request.

In fighting a decision like this, an emulator maker would usually be able to point to some robust legal precedents that protect emulation software as a general concept. But legal experts that spoke to Ars said that Nintendo’s argument here might actually get around those precedents and present some legitimate legal problems for the Dolphin Team.

This silly cat and mouse game between Nintendo and emulators is childish. The only people getting rich off this are lawyers.

All-Snap Ubuntu Desktop coming next year

According to Canonical’s Oliver Grawert, the next long-term support release of Ubuntu will be available to download in 2 versions: a classic, deb-based version (default) and, for the first time, an immutable, snap-based build.

This makes sense, and was inevitable. I wonder how long they’re going to keep the .deb-based version around; I doubt they’d pull it any time soon. Still, competition is good, and it’s been clear for a while now that immutability is the next big thing in the desktop Linux world.

Molly White tracks crypto scams. It’s going just great

As cryptocurrencies rise and fall, there’s one number that just keeps going up. Whenever somebody loses money to a crypto scam or hack, the Grift Counter on Molly White’s blog, Web3 Is Going Just Great, spins higher and higher. Recently it ticked over $12 billion.

White started the blog in December 2021 out of frustration with the mainstream coverage of crypto, which she says paid too much attention to rags-to-riches tales and not enough to its dark underbelly. Her goal was to paint a fuller picture, to chronicle the thefts and failures, debunk the marketing spiel, and underline the risks in the process.

A software engineer by trade, White coded Web3 Is Going Just Great over the span of a few weeks. It was only a side project, designed to “entertain me and me alone,” says White; she never imagined it would gain any traction. But within a few months, the blog had become a viral hit, earning White a reputation as an authoritative crypto pundit.

Cryptocurrencies, NFTs, and all the related bullshit are nothing but pyramid schemes – MLMs for tech bros. I’m glad most of us and the wider world has finally come to the same conclusion.

US federal judge makes history in holding that border searches of cell phones require a warrant

With United States v. Smith (S.D.N.Y. May 11, 2023), a district court judge in New York made history by being the first court to rule that a warrant is required for a cell phone search at the border, “absent exigent circumstances” (although other district courts have wanted to do so).

EFF is thrilled about this decision, given that we have been advocating for a warrant for border searches of electronic devices in the courts and Congress for nearly a decade. If the case is appealed to the Second Circuit, we urge the appellate court to affirm this landmark decision.

Of course, a decision like this can go through quite a few more courts, but it’s a good precedent.

MINIX is dead

Way back in 2006, to celebrate the introdiction of MINIX 3, Andy Tanenbaum, the operating system’s legendary creator, published an introduction article to the new version here on OSNews. I’ve followed along with development ever since, with the last item we ever posted dating from 2015. Over the weekend, a link to the MINIX 3 git repository made the rounds, noting that the last change is dated 14 November, 2018.

It seems like MINIX 3 has pretty much stalled, and digging through the Google Groups group isn’t of much help either. There’s certainly interest in the platform, but even the people frequenting the list state while MINIX 3 isn’t dead, because open source projects technically rarely die, it is in a “coma”, in a post from 2021. There’s been various proposals for improvements or new directions – notably this very detailed one – but nothing has come of them.

It probably does not help that MINIX’s creator and steward, Andy Tanenbaum, retired in 2014 from VU University, my alma mater, where he and a team of doctoral students worked on MINIX 3 for a long time. Without its main creator, who is now 79 years old, and without the funding and manpower from the university, it makes sense MINIX’ development petered out in the years after 2014.

But did it?

As many of you already know, MINIX’ development isn’t actually dead at all – one of the biggest technology companies adopted the platform, and MINIX currently runs on every processor that company sold since roughly 2015. Yes, every decently modern Intel processor runs MINIX on its Intel Management Engine, including things like a networking stack, storage drivers, and more. This was first discovered in 2017, but Intel has kept the source code to its version of MINIX entirely closed, so this fact is not of much use to anyone interested in revitalising the platform.

The fact of the matter is that MINIX 3’s development has halted, and this effectively means that MINIX is, for all intents and purposes, dead. With the last commit being almost five years old, even simply picking up where development left off would be a big undertaking, and would require some seriously bright minds and dedication. I’d love for it to happen, but I have my doubts.

IRIX community proposes to reverse-engineer the last 32 bit IRIX kernel

The IRIX Network, the primary community for SGI and IRIX enthousiasts, has announced a fundraising effort to reverse-engineer the last 32 bit version of the IRIX kernel.

IRIX-32, so named for its basis on kernel and APIs of the last 32-bit compatible IRIX (5.3) is a proposed reverse engineering project to be conducted by a team of developers in the US and the EU.

Purpose: We will reverse engineer the version 5.3 kernel with future goal of producing a fully open source reference implementation. This is the first major step and the delivery will be documentation and reference material to enable effective emulation and driver development for IRIX.

This is huge. If they can do this, they will save the operating system from an inevitable demise. I’m of course 100% behind this, and the total costs of 8500 dollars – 6500 from the fundraiser, 1000 as a donation from the IRIX Network itself, and 1000 from a few companies still using IRIX – is definitely realistic in the sense that they should be able to meet their goal. It’s not a lot of money, and it’s not meant as fair compensation for the work delivered – the teams of developers involved know this and aren’t asking for such either.

The thread so far is a great read. They haven’t selected a fundraising platform yet, but I am definitely throwing money their way once they do.

HP has found an exciting new way to DRM your printer

The Verge:

First introduced in 2020 at the height of the pandemic, HP Plus was built around FOMO right from the start. You get just seven days to claim your free ink, starting the moment you plug a new printer into the wall. Act now, and it’ll also extend your warranty a full year, give you an “Advanced HP Smart app,” and plant trees on your behalf. Because why wouldn’t you want to save the forest?

Here’s one reason, as detailed in a new complaint by the International Imaging Technology Council (IITC) that might turn into a false advertising fight: HP Plus comes with a firmware update that utterly removes your printer’s ability to accept third-party ink. You have to buy “genuine” HP ink as long as you use the printer.

I mean, complaining about printer makers is basically like shooting fish in a barrel, but somehow they always manage to find rockier bottom.

Windows 11 to get more archive format support

There’s more coming to Windows 11 at some point during this year, and three of them are of particular interest to the type of people who read OSNews. First, Windows is finally getting support for more archive file formats.

Microsoft has finally added native support for more archive formats, allowing you to open tar, 7-zip, rar, gz, and other files. In addition, Windows 11 users will benefit from improved compression performance when zipping files.

You’ll soon also be able to force quit applications straight from the taskbar, instead of having to open Task Manager, and as we noted not too long ago, ungrouped taskbar buttons are also making a comeback – among other things.

Built-in ChatGPT-driven Copilot comes to Windows 11 starting in June

Ars Technica:

A couple of months ago, Microsoft added generative AI features to Windows 11 in the form of a taskbar-mounted version of the Bing chatbot. Starting this summer, the company will be going even further, adding a new ChatGPT-driven Copilot feature that can be used alongside your other Windows apps. The company announced the change at its Build developer conference alongside another new batch of Windows 11 updates due later this year. Windows Copilot will be available to Windows Insiders starting in June.

Like the Microsoft 365 Copilot, Windows Copilot is a separate window that opens up along the right side of your screen and assists with various tasks based on what you ask it to do. A Microsoft demo video shows Copilot changing Windows settings, rearranging windows with Snap Layouts, summarizing and rewriting documents that were dragged into it, and opening apps like Spotify, Adobe Express, and Teams. Copilot is launched with a dedicated button on the taskbar.

Windows is getting an upgraded Clippy, one that shares its name with the biggest copyright infringement and open source license violation in history. In fact, some of the Windows Copilot features are built atop the Github Copilot, such as the new “AI” features coming to Windows Terminal. Now you can get other people’s code straight into your terminal, without their permission, and without respecting their licenses. Neat!

Microsoft announces Windows 11 “Moment 3” update

The time has arrived for Windows 11 users to prepare to download the latest feature drop for the operating system. After months of testing in the Windows Insider program, Windows 11 “Moment 3” update is ready for its public release on May 24, 2023.

The latest feature update for Windows 11 has no official name (so much for hating silly names, such as “Fall Creators Update“), so enthusiasts call it “Moment 3,” according to the leaked story about Microsoft changing its approach to servicing its operating system. The release is not the biggest one we have seen, but it still packs a few excellent changes and new features.

There’s not a whole lot going on with this update, but it’s out now, and you can get it from Windows Update. It’s optional for now, so it won’t be pushed automatically.