The invisible problem: text editing on Android and iOS sucks

Android and iOS share a common problem: they copied desktop text editing conventions, but without a menu bar or mouse. This forced them to overload the tap gesture with a wide range of actions: placing the cursor, moving it, selecting text, and invoking a pop-up menu. This results in an overly complicated and ambiguous mess-o-taps, leading to a variety of user errors.

It’s less of a problem if you only do short bursts of text in social media or messaging apps. But doing anything more complicated like an email gets tedious. However, in my user study on text editing, I was surprised to find that everyone had significant problems and rather severe workaround for editing text.

With the extremely talented Olivier Bau, together we created a prototype called Eloquent, which offers a much simpler solution. We presented this work at UIST 2021.

This is now one of my favourite articles I’ve ever read. I despise text input and text editing on mobile devices, whether they be Android or iOS. I hate it with the passion of a thousand burning suns, but it seems like nobody else cares. Luckily, the author of this article, Scott Jenson, a man with an impressive career doing UI work at Apple, Google, and others, agrees with me, and together with his colleagues, during his time at Google, he came up with an entirely different, touch-first way of editing text.

The end result – be sure to watch the video to see it in action – immediately clicks for me. I want this. Now. This would be a massive usability improvement, and the fact it isn’t in Android yet, despite being developed at Google, is further evidence Google has no clue how to make good ideas float to the top. Jenson explains why Eloquent, as they called their new input/editing system, won’t ship with Android, while he expresses a bit more optimism Apple might be more open to rethinking mobile text editing:

Unfortunately, shipping something like Eloquent would be challenging. First, as too many people mistakenly see text editing as “done”, there is little appetite to fix it. Second, users have been trained to cope with this error-prone approach for well over a decade. Asking people to change at this point would be hard.

But most importantly, fixing text editing isn’t seen as important enough in the war between Android and iOS. It’s not the flashy feature that shifts your Net Promoter Scores. What I find ironic is that a fundamental change, like fixing text editing, could make people feel much more at ease using their phones and could be an enormous reason to switch. But it would be a slow burn and take years of steady effort. Android just can’t think this way. Apple just might.

Android needs this.

Nearly 500 brands exited smartphone market during 2017-2023

At its peak in 2017, the global smartphone market saw more than 700 brands fiercely competing. Fast forward to 2023 and the number of active brands (that have recorded sell-through volumes) is down by two-thirds to almost 250, according to Counterpoint’s Global Handset Model Sales Tracker, which has been tracking sales of these brands across more than 70 key countries.

So many good brands and good ideas kicked to the curb by the stranglehold Apple and Google have on the market. While many of these brands were mere OEMs, it also includes companies making their own platforms.

Java 21: The Nice, The Meh, and the… Momentous

Every six months, there is a new Java release. Ever so often (currently, every two years), Oracle labels a release as “long term support”, and Java users wonder whether they should upgrade. In theory, other JDK distributors could offer “long term support” for other releases, but it seems everyone is following Oracle’s lead.

Should you upgrade?

Here are the major features of Java 21. I omit preview and incubator features (which you are surely not going to use in production), JVM internals, highly specialized features such as this one, and deprecations.

The answer is yes – you should definitely upgrade.

GNOME 44.5 released

GNOME 45 may have just been released, but that doesn’t mean GNOME 44 will be buried right away. GNOME 44.5 has just been released, packed with bugfixes and small tweaks – nothing groundbreaking. Reading through the changelog, it’s a long list of squashed bugs, so it should be an uneventful upgrade for most GNOME users who aren’t upgrading to 45 quite yet.

iOS 17 review: StandBy for more features

iOS 17 and iPadOS 17 offer several welcome improvements, tweaks, and new features. They also continue two trends that have dominated recent updates for both platforms: the expansion of widgets giving modular access to functions from a variety of apps, and on-device intelligence that improves search, recommendations, and more.

This year’s update pushes both platforms forward just a bit—but not enough that too many people will notice. A more complete feature set will roll out over time, though, so by the end of the cycle, we’ll have seen a nice range of additions.

Honestly, with how mature iOS (and Android, for that matter) have become, I don’t think it’s a bad thing that we’re seeing more iterative releases bringing polish and nips and tucks instead of massive feature overhauls and additions nobody is asking for.

Visopsys 0.92 released

It’s been a while, but Visopsys has had a new release, 0.92, with all the details in the changelog. There is a longer-term project to bring the operating system into the modern era, with things like 64-bit support, UEFI booting, and so on. In the meantime, this maintenance release features stability and usability improvements, bug fixes, and multitasker portability changes designed to further unshackle it from the x86 processor architecture.

Visopsys has been in development since 1997, and one of its unique features is a focus on a partitioning tool built atop Visopsys, Partition Logic, to make partitioning changes without booting into any other operating system.

GoSub browser: gateway to optimized searching and unlimited browsing

This repository is part of the GoSub browser project. Currently there is only a single component/repository (this one), but the idea will be that there are many other components that as a whole make up a full-fledged browser. Each of the components can probably function as something standalone (ie: html5 parser, css parser, etc).

In the future, this component (html5 parser) will receive through an API a stream of bytes and will output a stream of events. The events will be consumed by the next component and so on, until we can display something in a window/user agent. This could very well be a text-mode browser, but the idea is to have a graphical browser.

Any new browser project has a certain “madman” quality to it, and I’m sure GoSub is no different.

Install Windows the Arch Linux way

Installing Windows strictly through the Command Line is an important tool to have. If Windows changes the installer or out of box experience, you can bypass any changes with this guide!

I had no idea this was possible. I knew you could open up cmd.exe during installation and do certain things there, but I didn’t know you could perform the entire Windows installation this way. I’m not entirely sure what the use cases are, but it’s definitely a neat trick.

Raspberry Pi RP2040 becomes Palm OS PDA

The Raspberry Pi is known for its versatility and ability to run different operating systems but it seems that the $4 Raspberry Pi Pico can also run an OS. This impressive foray into the world of Palm PDA (Personal Digital Assistant) emulation on our favorite microcontroller comes from Dmitry Grinberg. They have shared an early demo of his platform known as rePalm in which he manages to run PalmOS on a Raspberry Pi Pico.

We mentioned Grinberg’s work before – this person is a Palm OS wizard, and the progress he’s making will prove invaluable once the remaining stock of Palm OS devices – half of which is in my office – starts breaking down.

Windows 11’s next update arrives on September 26th with Copilot, AI-powered Paint, and more

Microsoft will release its next big Windows 11 update on September 26th. The update will include the new AI-powered Windows Copilot feature, a redesigned File Explorer, a new Ink Anywhere feature for pen users, big improvements to the Paint app, and much more.

Windows Copilot is the headline feature for the Windows 11 23H2 update, bringing the same Bing Chat feature straight to the Windows 11 desktop. It appears as a sidebar in Windows 11, allowing you to control settings on a PC, launch apps, or simply answer queries. It’s integrated all over the operating system, too: Microsoft executives demoed using Copilot to write text messages using data from your calendar, navigation options in Outlook, and more.

Copilot feels like Clippy 3.0 – yes, 3.0, if you know your Microsoft history – and I have zero interest in any of it. I don’t want to be second-guessed or receive “helpful” advice from a glorified autocomplete that’s hogging both bandwith and CPU cycles that I’d much rather put to use somewhere else. I’m absolutely baffled by this weird obsession Microsoft has to shove “AI” into every nook and cranny of their products.

Am I just out of touch? If this what Windows users want?

Android 14 adds support for using smartphones as a webcams

When you plug an Android phone into a PC, you have the option to change the USB mode between file transfer/Android Auto (MTP), USB tethering (NCM), MIDI, or PTP. In Android 14, however, a new option can appear in USB Preferences: USB webcam. Selecting this option switches the USB mode to UVC (USB Video Class), provided the device supports it, turning your Android device into a standard USB webcam that other devices will recognize, including Windows, macOS, and Linux PCs, and possibly even other Android devices.

Webcam support in Android 14 is not enabled out of the box, however. In order to enable it, four things are required: a Linux kernel config needs to be enabled, the UVC device needs to be configured, the USB HAL needs to be updated, and a new system app needs to be preloaded.

iOS recently introduced this feature as well, and it makes a ton of sense for Android to go down the same path.

Intel Xeon MAX 9480 deep dive: 64GB HBM2e on board

Today we have something that has taken months to write, and we feel that the best we have done is to give a sense of what Intel’s coolest CPU is capable of. The Intel Xeon MAX 9480 combines 56 cores with memory on the package. The memory is not standard DDR5. Instead, it is 64GB of HBM2e, the same kind of memory found on many GPUs and AI accelerators today. What seemed like a straightforward review at the outset became absolutely fascinating, especially when we pulled all of the DDR5 memory from a system and watched it boot. Let us get to it.

Few of us will ever get to use one of these – especially since they’re specifically designed for a supercomputer – but maybe we’ll get lucky and they end up on eBay or AliExpress ten years from now.

Can browser choice screens be effective?

Mozilla has conducted one of the first – maybe even the first – studies into the effectiveness of browser choice screens, and they conclude:

This research showed that browser choice screens have the potential to be effective. Well designed browser choice screens can improve competition, giving people meaningful choice and improving people’s satisfaction and feelings of control. And they can do all of this without overburdening people or taking too much of their time. What’s more, people have strong preferences: it turns out they want the ability to choose their default browser (rather than being assigned one by the operating system/device manufacturer); they also want to pick from a wider range of browsers.

You can download the full report from Mozilla.

Today I learned this weird Windows keyboard shortcut opens LinkedIn

If you’re running Windows try holding down CTRL + SHIFT + ALT + WIN + L. Then watch in bemusement as LinkedIn opens in your default browser. Windows watcher Paul Thurrott posted this bizarre keyboard shortcut on X (Twitter), noting that it’s an operating system hotkey.

So why does Windows even have this? It’s all part of the Office key that Microsoft introduced on some of its own keyboards a few years ago. The Office key replaced the usual right-hand Windows key, offering up the ability to hold the key in combination with another one to quickly open Office apps.

Absolutely bizarre.

The funniest outcome of this is a joke feature request by KDE developers in the KDE bugzilla, demanding a shortcut key combination be added to KDE to open LinkedIn to achieve “feature parity” with Windows, which sparked a flurry of proposed “fixes” and additional feature requests – with this one definitely being my favourite.

Intel unveils Meteor Lake architecture: Intel 4 heralds the disaggregated future of mobile CPUs

During the opening keynote at Intel’s Innovation event in San Jose, Chief Executive Officer Pat Gelsinger unveiled a score of details about the upcoming Meteor Lake client platform. Intel’s Meteor Lake marks the beginning of a new era for the chipmaker, as they move away from the chaotic Intel 7 node and go into a rollout of their Foveros 3D packaging with EUV lithography for their upcoming client mobile platform. Meteor Lake uses a tiled, disaggregated chiplet architecture for its client-centric processors for the first time, changing the very nature of Intel’s consumer chips going forward. And, according to Intel, all of these changes have allowed them to bring some significant advancements to the mobile market.

Intel’s first chiplet-based consumer CPU breaks up the common functions of a modern CPU into four individual tiles: compute, graphics, SoC, and an I/O tile. Within the makeup of the compute tile is a new pair of cores, a P-core named Redwood Cove and a new E-core called Crestmont. Both these cores promise IPC gains over their previous counterparts, but perhaps the most interesting inclusion is a new type of E-core embedded directly into the SoC tile, which Intel calls ‘Low Power Island.’ These new LP E-cores are designed with the idea that light workloads and processes can be taken off the more power-hungry compute tile and offloaded onto a more efficient and lower-powered tile altogether. Other major additions include a first-for-Intel Neural Processing Unit (NPU), which sits within the SoC tile and is designed to bring on-chip AI capabilities for workloads and inferencing, paving the way for the future.

With Meteor Lake, Intel is aiming to put themselves in a more competitive position within the mobile market, with notable improvements to compute core hierarchy, Intel’s Xe-LPG Arc-based graphics tile looking to bolster integrated graphics capabilities, and an NPU that adds various AI advantages. Meteor Lake also sets the scene for Intel and modular disaggregation, with Foveros 3D packaging set to become a mainstay of Intel’s processor roadmap for the future, with the Intel 4 process making its debut and acting as a stepping stone to what will become Intel’s next mainstay node throughout its fabs, Intel 3.

AnandTech takes its usual in-depth look at Intel’s upcoming Meteor Lake platform, which seems like it will be a rather radical shift for the company. It’s also the first generation whithout Intel’s Core ix naming scheme, so things might be a bit confusing for a while post-launch.

Long-term support for Linux kernel to be cut as maintainence remains under strain

Here’s one major change coming down the road: long-term support (LTS) for Linux kernels is being reduced from six to two years.


Why? Simple, Corbet explained: “There’s really no point to maintaining it for that long because people are not using them.” I agree. While I’m sure someone out there is still running 4.14 in a production Linux system, there can’t be many of them. 

Another reason, and a far bigger problem than simply maintaining LTS, according to Corbet, is that Linux code maintainers are burning out. It’s not that developers are a problem. The last few Linux releases have involved an average of more than 2,000 programmers — including about 200 new developers coming on board — working on each release. However, the maintainers — the people who check the code to see if it fits and works properly — are another matter.

The longer LTS support windows were put in place mostly for embedded devices, and as Ars Technica explains, it’s Android in particular that is affected by this change.

GNOME 45 released

The GNOME project is excited to present the latest GNOME release, version 45. For the new version we’ve focused on refining your daily interactions, enhancing performance, and making the overall experience smoother and more efficient. From subtle design tweaks to functional upgrades, GNOME 45 is all about refining the core desktop environment you rely on.

GNOME 45 comes with a new Activities indicator, which replaces the “Activities” button with workspaces indicator, letting you know at a glance which workspace you’re on. A lot of work has gone into improving search performance, and they’ve added an indicator to let you know when your camera is in use. The image viewer has been replaced by an entirely new application, and there’s a new camera application as well. Of course, this is just a small selection – there are countless improvements and fixes in all the core GNOME applications.

GNOME 45 will find its way to a distribution near you.

Microsoft is testing folders for the Recommended section in Windows 11’s Start menu

As it turned out, Microsoft is testing the idea of adding folders to the Recommended section in Windows 11’s Start menu, giving users access to more recently added applications and suggested files. The release notes do not mention the change, and enabling it requires a third-party app called ViVeTool.

I was forced to use Windows for a little while on a new laptop, and the current Start menu is an atrocious mess. Somehow I doubt adding folders to an already useless section of the Start menu is going to make it any less of a disaster.

New Huawei SoC features processor cores designed in-house

Four of the eight central processing units in the Mate 60 Pro’s “system on a chip” (SoC) rely purely on a design by Arm, the British company whose chip architecture powers 99 percent of smartphones.

The other four CPUs are Arm-based but feature Huawei’s own designs and adaptations, according to three people familiar with the Mate’s development and Geekerwan, a Chinese technology testing company that took a closer look at the main chip.

I could design my own processor cores too if had the means of a genocidal, totalitarian superpower.