Apple unveils macOS 12, iOS 15, iPadOS 15

Apple previewed macOS 12, iIOS 15 and iPadOS 15 yesterday. From MacRumors, one of the few remaining truly good Apple news websites: Apple today announced macOS 12, which it’s calling macOS Monterey. The new version of macOS is gaining features like Universal Control, AirPlay to Mac, and Shortcuts for Mac. Apple said that ‌macOS Monterey‌’s updates will help users get more done and work more fluidly across Apple devices. And iOS 15: Apple today previewed iOS 15, the company’s next major update for the iPhone, featuring new video calling capabilities, improvements to Messages, user statuses, a smart notification summary, and more. and iPadOS 15: Apple today unveiled iPadOS 15, its next-generation operating system for iPad that introduces a slew of new features like widgets on the Home Screen, an iPhone-style App Library, new multi-tasking features, and more. Here’s a rundown of what to expect. There’s no major tent pole features or drastic overhauls – instead, there’s a lot of smaller features and new additions that really do add up to what seem like three pretty major operating system releases. There should be something for everybody in here, but I do wonder which maniac approved the new tab bar design in Safari, because that behaviour should be a crime against humanity.

FreeBSD from a NetBSD user’s perspective

I’ve been a NetBSD developer for three years and it’s been my primary operating system for a long time too – on everything: routers, laptops, Raspberry Pis, PowerPC mac minis, Vortex86 embedded boards, and servers. I’ve recently been using FreeBSD a lot at work. We have a lot of servers and embedded boards running it, and I was given the option of installing anything I wanted on my workstation. I chose FreeBSD to maintain a separation of BSDs between my work and home life 😉 I thought I’d write a little bit about some differences that stand out to me. Since everyone that knows me well knows that typical use cases like web hosting aren’t really my jam, and I’m more of an embedded, audio, and graphics person, maybe I can offer a more uncommon perspective. It’s always nice to read perspectives like this.

Progress on the OpenPOWER SpiderMonkey JIT

This may not look like much, but it demonstrates that the current version of the OpenPOWER JavaScript JIT for Firefox can emit machine language instructions correctly (mostly — still more codegen bugs to shake out), handles the instruction cache correctly, handles ABI-compliant calls into the SpiderMonkey VM correctly (the IonMonkey JIT is not ABI-compliant except at those edges), and enters and exits routines without making a mess of the stack. Much of the code originates from TenFourFox’s “IonPower” 32-bit PowerPC JIT, though obviously greatly expanded, and there is still ongoing work to make sure it is properly 64-bit aware and takes advantage of instructions available in later versions of the Power ISA. (No more spills to the stack to convert floating point, for example. Yay for VSX!) Good progress being made on porting Firefox’ JIT to POWER. I’m forced to use Chromium for now, which is unpleasant.

Apple’s tightly controlled App Store is teeming with scams

Of the highest 1,000 grossing apps on the App Store, nearly two percent are scams, according to an analysis by The Washington Post. And those apps have bilked consumers out of an estimated $48 million during the time they’ve been on the App Store, according to market research firm Appfigures. The scale of the problem has never before been reported. What’s more, Apple profits from these apps because it takes a cut of up to a 30 percent of all revenue generated through the App Store. Even more common, according to The Post’s analysis, are “fleeceware” apps that use inauthentic customer reviews to move up in the App Store rankings and give apps a sense of legitimacy to convince customers to pay higher prices for a service usually offered elsewhere with higher legitimate customer reviews. Apple likes to claim the App Store is needed to keep people safe, but that simply is a flat-out lie. The App Store is filled to the brim not only with obvious scams, but also a whole boatload of gambling applications designed specifically to trick children into spending money. In fact, these “games” make up a huge proportion of the App Store’s revenue. Apple earns top dollar from every scam or disturbing gambling app on the App Store, so there’s a huge conflict of interest here that in and of itself should be enough reason to take control over iOS away from Apple. iOS users should have the freedom to install and use an application store that does not prey on their children and promotes scams.

iPhone 12 dropped in canal, retrieved with magnet

I don’t know why I found this account so delightful. I guess it’s just the can-do spirit. I’ve had an iPhone 12 Pro for a while, and I’m a fan of the new MagSafe feature. I find it convenient for daily charging, and it eliminates the danger of failing to line up the phone just right on a Qi charger. I also have a handy 3rd party car mount that’s great for cars without CarPlay. The magnet on the iPhone is pretty strong, and now I know that if I ever drop my phone into a canal, I may be able to retrieve it by “magnet fishing.” When an unlucky Berliner dropped his phone into a mucky canal, his friend suggested using the MagSafe magnet to fish it out. After several hours of experimentation, they succeeded!

What is NitrOS-9?

NitrOS-9 is a real-time, process-based, multitasking, multi-user, Unix-like operating system for the 6809 and 6309 processors. It runs on TRS-80 Color Computer, Radio Shack Color Computer 2, Tandy Color Computer 3 and Dragon 64. The original OS-9 was created in 1979. NitrOS-9 is the modern equivalent of that OS, and includes advanced features like support for up to 2 MB RAM and 4 GB Hard drive partitions. It is still being developed, and support is available in many mailing lists and forums. That is what we call commitment.

Google joins Apple to opt-out of mobile advertising IDs

Android 12 got the biggest privacy boost in recent years. Most were analogous to iOS 14’s privacy features with an exception in Bluetooth permission. By removing access to location services from Bluetooth, Google managed to weaken Facebook’s location-based advertisement business. However, the absence of a similar feature like App Tracking Transparency from Google I/O 2021 was a bummer. Gladly, though, our disappointment was short-lived. Only yesterday, Google announced its plans to make advertising ID an opt-out feature. Google doing this means they have an alternative the rest of the industry doesn’t.

Huawei officially replaces Android with HarmonyOS, which is also Android

So to recap: yesterday, Huawei was shipping smartwatches using LiteOS, and today, it’s shipping smartwatches with “HarmonyOS,” which is based on LiteOS. Yesterday, it was shipping phones and tablets using a forked version of Android without Google services. Today, Huawei is shipping “HarmonyOS” on phones and tablets, which is forked Android without Google services. Did anything actually change here? That about sums it up. We were promised a brand new operating system, but in reality, all they gave us is yet another Android fork, of which there are countless.

Firefox 89 released with new UI

Say hello to a fresh new Firefox, designed to get you where you want to go even faster. We’ve redesigned and modernized the core experience to be cleaner, more inviting, and easier to use. I was all set to dislike the new design, but honestly, on Linux – both on Gtk+ and KDE desktops, it looks and feels… Nice? I got used to it in an instant, and everything definitely looks cleaner, tighter, and fresher, without really making any massive changes or doing any truly drastic user interface overhauls.

Google employees admit in lawsuit that the company made it nearly impossible for users to keep their location private

Newly unredacted documents in a lawsuit against Google reveal that the company’s own executives and engineers knew just how difficult the company had made it for smartphone users to keep their location data private. Google continued collecting location data even when users turned off various location-sharing settings, made popular privacy settings harder to find, and even pressured LG and other phone makers into hiding settings precisely because users liked them, according to the documents. The cold and harsh truth is that these companies can pretty much get away with anything. In fact, hordes of people will crawl out of the woodwork to defend this kind of behaviour, all in the name of greed and wealth that they themselves never see anything of anyway, since it disappears into the pockets of a small number of billionaires, trickling down only as far as the drip after the last shake makes it to their shoe.

Windows 10 is now nagging users with Microsoft Bing alerts

A new update has brought back Microsoft’s recommendation for Bing and Chromium Edge on Windows 10. After Microsoft Edge 91, Windows 10 has now started displaying a pop-up message that appears through Windows 10’s built-in notification center. The nag prompt enthusiastically addresses users on the benefits of using “Microsoft Bing” as the default search engine. And as you might guess, this prompt is being delivered only when Microsoft Edge is not the default browser or you’ve moved away from Bing to another search engine manually. Apple and Microsoft are cramming ever more ads into their platforms – platforms you pay to use, making the practice even more user-hostile. I’m so glad I left Windows, macOS, and iOS behind – they treat users like credit cards on legs. It’s dreadful.

Genode OS Framework 21.05 released

The most prominent user-visible features of Genode 21.05 are the support for webcams and an easy-to-use component for file encryption on Sculpt OS. Both topics greatly benefit from Genode’s component architecture. The video-conferencing scenario described in Section Webcam support sandboxes the webcam driver in a disposable Genode component while using a second instance of the nitpicker GUI server as a video bridge. This design strikes a beautiful combination of simplicity, robustness, and flexibility. Genode keeps on improving at an impressive and steady pace.

How the Commodore Amiga powered your cable system in the ’90s

If you subscribed to cable television in the ’90s, you most likely saw Video Toaster in action on the cable dial. But the most notable use of the Amiga in cable television didn’t actually rely on Video Toaster at all. That was the Prevue Guide, which may not have gotten the attention of the MTV, TBS, or Nickelodeon in those days, but served an important purpose: It was the channel you watched to see what was on those channels. The Amiga was used in a number of projects that required on-screen graphics on TV.

SerenityOS’ founder and main developer goes full-time for SerenityOS

Until now, I’ve been juggling SerenityOS as a side project while also having a full time programming job. That all changes today! I just wrapped up my last day at work, and I’m no longer employed. Instead, I will be focusing on SerenityOS full time starting right now! :^) This is all made possible by the extremely generous support I’m receiving from folks via Patreon, GitHub Sponsors and PayPal! I feel super fortunate to have the trust & support of so many people. Thank you all so much!! SerenityOS is amazing, and its main developer seems to be a delightful person, whose character and demeanor is attracting a lot of interesting developers to the project. The progress it’s making is astonishing, and with this news, that progress is bound to keep steady for a long time to come. Since pretty much all the alternative, small operating systems from the early 2000s died out, it’s heartwarming to see a new one pop up and thrive.

Kvarken 4.1.0 brings full Sailfish 64-bit support to Sony Xperia 10 II

We’re happy to share with you the many firsts in this release: the 1st fully stacked 64-bit ARM Sailfish OS, that you can download and flash onto the Sony Xperia 10 II, which is also the first Sailfish device with AOSP-10 HW adaptation. The commercial Sailfish X package also introduces the 64-bit Android App Support for Xperia 10 II. Sailfish OS Kvarken 4.1.0 has now moved from early access to full release. That means the early access bugs have been ironed out, but also that the paid-for additions (particularly Android App Support) are also now available for it. While the headline changes in 4.1.0 is the shift to full 64-bit ARM and support for the new hardware, it also introduces many other improvements, including to location data support, VPN support, audio recording, browser, calendar sync and contact sync, amongst other things.

Review: the Cosmo Communicator

It’s 2021, and it’s time to upgrade your smartphone. Maybe it’s getting slow, it might be damaged, or your device’s OEM refuses to update your version of Android. Whatever the reason, you set your budget and full of hope and starry-eyed about all the possibilities, you go to your preferred electronics store (or carrier, if you’re American) – and as you scroll through the possible phones, your hopes are shattered and your heart sinks in your shoes. Your choices are between an endless array of black slabs, and while you can technically choose between Android and iOS, you will have most likely made that specific choice ages ago, and switching platforms is hard. Slightly dramatised, sure, but the reality of smartphones today is that all of them look and feel the same. The difference between mid range and high end have shrunk over the years, and while there are still small differences here and there, the general experience is going to be the same from device to device. Even if you skip a few years of upgrades, the jump in performance to the latest and greatest processor isn’t going to make that much of a difference in your day to day use. While you can technically opt for one of the new folding phones, the reality is that they still suffer from early adopter problems, and their prices are far beyond what most of us would want to pay for a smartphone. With all phones looking the same, it’s hard to find a company willing to stand out in a crowd of black rectangles. One of the victims of this race to the rectangle is the smartphone keyboard – whether it’s BlackBerry or Android phones with keyboards, they’re basically no longer being made, and if you’re simply not a fan of typing on featureless glass, you’re pretty much out of luck. Except, not really. There are a few companies left still making smartphones with keyboards, and the British company Planet Computers is one of them. This British company does not just focus on building Android smartphones with keyboards – they take the concept a step further and gun for the iconic Psion devices from the ’90s. The company’s chief designer, Martin Riddiford, worked at Psion in the ’90s and aided in the design of the Psion Series 5’s keyboard, and that design has formed the basis for the company’s first two devices: the Gemini PDA and the Cosmo Communicator. After seeing my sorrowful lament of the Nokia N900, the company contacted me and asked me if I wanted to review their Cosmo Communicator Android smartphone. I obviously didn’t hesitate to say yes, and after a few weeks of delay due to our first child being born, I can finally give you my thoughts and insights on this device that fills a unique niche in the current mobile landscape. Keyboard and hinge The Cosmo Communicator is unlike any other Android device on the market today. As to be expected due to its pedigree, the device resembles a Psion Series 5, or perhaps a Nokia Communicator if you’re more familiar with that line of devices. When closed, the device is thicker and heftier than most other smartphones, but there’s a valid reason for that: open it up, and inside you’ll find a full QWERTY keyboard with real keys. When opened, it looks more like a small laptop than a smartphone. I want to dive straight into that keyboard, since it’s by far the device’s most defining feature. First of all, it’s smaller than a regular keyboard, obviously, so it definitely takes a little time to get used to. I have small hands and tiny fingers, so for me, it wasn’t that hard to get used to the size of the keyboard. The layout of the keys feels natural, and for me, there are no cases where I would’ve opted for keys in different positions. With such a cramped space, you’ll always have to make compromises and hard choices, but I think the Planet team has made all the right choices. The layout will take some getting used to, but that’s to be expected with any new keyboard, especially one in such an exotic form factor. I’m slightly less happy about the actual typing experience, though. Granted, I am a very light typist who applies relatively little force to each key press, but I found that my key presses would often not register unless I applied what I would consider too much force. This problem increases the farther away from the home row I am, and it’s downright annoying. Getting used to a new keyboard layout and smaller keys is one thing – unless you have truly gigantic hands, it won’t take you more than a few days – but having to change how hard you press down on a key is very, very hard to learn. However, as said, if you apply more force for each key press than I do, this might not be much of an issue at all for you. You might wonder if you can use the keyboard when thumb-typing. My hands are definitely too small for thumb-typing, as reaching the centre-most keys requires an uncomfortable amount of stretching and grip adjustments. Again, though, my hands are small, and if you have more average-sized hands, you might be able to thumb-type just fine. The keyboard is backlit, and comes in a variety of keyboard layouts to choose from upon purchase. Using the Fn key, you can also control things like volume, brightness, airplane mode, and other Android-specific features, and Planet was smart enough to include full inverted-T arrow keys. Aside from the cramped size, it comes very close to offering all the functionality of a regular keyboard, and while my personal typing style doesn’t mesh well with it, the Planet team has done a great job given the constraints they were working in. Moving on from the keyboard, the second aspect of the Cosmo that stands out is

Arm announces mobile Armv9 CPU microarchitectures: Cortex-X2, Cortex-A710, and Cortex-A510

It’s that time of the year again, and after last month’s unveiling of Arm’s newest infrastructure Neoverse V1 and Neoverse N2 CPU IPs, it’s now time to cover the client and mobile side of things. This year, things Arm is shaking things up quite a bit more than usual as we’re seeing three new generation microarchitectures for mobile and client: The flagship Cortex-X2 core, a new A78 successor in the form of the Cortex-A710, and for the first time in years, a brand-new little core with the new Cortex-A510. The three new CPUs form a new trio of Armv9 compatible designs that aim to mark a larger architectural/ISA shift that comes very seldomly in the industry. Alongside the new CPU cores, we’re also seeing a new L3 and cluster design with the DSU-110, and Arm is also making a big upgrade in its interconnect IP with the new cache coherent CI-700 mesh network and NI-700 network-on-chip IPs. AnandTech’s usual deep dive into the processors Android devices will be using next year.

Google to use patient data to develop healthcare algorithms for hospital chain

Google has made a deal for access to patient records from HCA, which which operates 181 hospitals and more than 2,000 healthcare sites in 21 states, so the tech company can develop healthcare algorithms, The Wall Street Journal reports. Google will store anonymized data from patient health records and internet-connected medical devices. That data will be used to build programs that could inform medical decisions made by doctors. The deal is described as “multiyear” by the WSJ, without specifying how many years. This feels uncomfortable on so many levels.

Microsoft teases a ‘next generation of Windows’ announcement ‘very soon’

Microsoft isn’t talking about its big Windows plans at Build 2021 this week, and that’s because the company is preparing to detail what’s next for its PC operating system separately. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella teased this announcement during his Build keynote this morning, revealing he has been testing “the next generation of Windows” in recent months. Windows is in a bit of a rut. As far as its core frameworks and lower levels go, it’s an incredibly solid, fast, extensible, and yes, secure operating system that can chug along just fine. The user experience, however, is a garbled, confusing mess consisting of bits and pieces dating back to Windows 3.11 (if you look hard enough). Almost every part of the operating system has multiple sides to it with different user experiences, looks, and feels, and if you come from a modern Linux distribution, the update experience, installing and managing applications, changing settings, and so on, are just downright laughably bad. The user-facing part of Windows doesn’t just need an overhaul – it’s had countless overhauls over the years, all leaving various bits and pieces around that you still encounter today – but a complete redesign. I think the lower-levels and core frameworks are more than fine, but everything on top of that needs a clean start. Microsoft has promised countless of these “next generations” of Windows, and aside from the move from Win9x to Windows NT, they’ve all been thin, patchy veneers atop all the thin, patchy veneers that came before. After so many empty promises, it’s just hard to take them seriously. Mark my words: this “next generation of Windows” is nothing but a few nips and tucks to the current, existing UI to make it slightly less of an inconsistent mess. Nothing more.

Framework Laptop review (hands on): the anti-MacBook is here

Though it can’t match the high-quality screens and discrete GPUs available in some competing laptops (like the Dell XPS 13 and Alienware m15 r4), Framework offers a unique feature customers can’t find anywhere else right now: control.  Laptops have steadily gotten less repairable and upgradeable over time, to the horror of many computing enthusiasts. While we’re starting to see manufacturers ship more notebooks with upgradeable storage and graphics card options, the rest of the components are typically off-limits — and often soldered down in a way that makes trying to replace or upgrade it a dicey proposition at best. By contrast, Framework’s laptop has been designed from the ground up for socket-based modularity. This is a decision Patel claims hasn’t prevented them from achieving nearly the same heights of thinness and lightness as competitors like Apple and Dell have. This is the first review of the Framework Laptop I’ve seen, and it seems very positive. I’m unreasonably excited about this machine, and I’ll try and see if I can get my hands on a review unit. This machine seems like a perfect fit for the average OSNews reader.