Mobile Archive

Huawei Mate 30 Pro goes official without Google apps

Obviously, the most notable aspect of the Chinese-made handset is the distinct lack of official access to Google apps and services. This is the first flagship to be released by Huawei since being blacklisted by the US government, therefore it is the first new release to explicitly come without access to common Google Play Services. Side-loading these services is likely to be possible but it is unclear just how this will be possible for most non-techie buyers. The Huawei Mate 30 Pro does come EMUI 10, which is based upon the recently released Android 10. Although, as expected, this build does not come with any Google apps. It will be interesting to see how well this handset will perform outside of China. I have my sincerest doubts.

PineTime is a $25 smartwatch/companion for PinePhone Linux phone

We’ve recently seen Linux smartphones are coming in a few weeks or months, but the $150 PinePhone may not come alone, and soon be joined by a $25 companion, namely PineTime smartwatch. That’s what we learned through a tweet by Pine64 explaining the PineTime is a Linux smartphone companion that can run FreeRTOS or Arm Mbed operating systems. It will be a side-project however, and the focus is still on PinePhone and Pinebook Pro, meaning it will take a while depending on the level of community engagement. Thanks in part due to easy access to Chinese OEMs, there’s a lot of interesting working going in building and shipping consumer-oriented devices like smartphones and smartwatches running Linux that isn’t Android – which only a few short years ago would’ve required massive funding and seemed like pipe dreams. While these devices may not be as fast or polished as an Android device or iPhone, they are starting to form a viable option for people who truly value open source.

KaiOS Developer Portal launches to help programmers create apps for the platform

With the launch of the KaiOS Developer Portal, developers new to the platform have all of the tools they need to begin building and distributing apps for KaiOS. The guide can help you get a feel for things with sample code, there are instructions for setting up your development environment, and there’s an easy to set up simulator that lets you run your app virtually to ensure everything is working. KaiOS is used by more than 100 million people, so there’s definitely value in taking a look if you’re a mobile developer.

Fairphone updates its Fairphone updates its ethical smartphone for 2019

Understandably, given Fairphone’s focus on making a phone that’s sustainable rather than a portable powerhouse, the Fairphone 3’s specs aren’t competitive with other flagships we’ve seen this year. It’s got a 5.7-inch Full HD display, a 12-megapixel rear camera, and an 8-megapixel front-facing camera. Internally the phone is built around a Qualcomm Snapdragon 632 processor, and features 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage. Its 3000 mAh battery might not be the biggest around, but it’s removable, allowing you to easily replace it if its capacity starts to degrade. The entire phone is made form recycled, conflict-free, and fair trade materials, and is remarkably repairable. Sustainability and repairability from a small company comes with a price tag, however – but at €450, it’s actually not that bad.

Huawei in talks to install the Russian operating system, Aurora, on 360,000 tablets

On paper, the reason for installing Aurora on the tablets is for carrying out Russia’s population consensus in 2020. A Huawei spokesperson confirmed that the company is currently holding talks with the Russian Ministry of Communications. Two sources at Reuters specified, “Huawei is interested in the project. It showed samples of tablets that could be used,” and, “This is a pilot project. We see it as the first stage of launching the Russian OS on Huawei devices.” Aurora is a Russia-specific version of Sailfish OS.

Huawei’s Kirin 990 chipset will finally support 4K video capture at 60fps

With Huawei’s P20 Pro last year and this year’s P30 Pro, the company pulled off some incredible camera innovations, at least in the photo department. In terms of recording video, it hasn’t done as much. Part of the reason for this is because the Kirin 970 and Kirin 980 chipsets don’t support recording video at 4K 60fps, a feature that you’d expect from such camera-centric smartphones. Luckily, that’s about to change with the next generation. While I was in Shenzhen for the past week, Huawei confirmed that the Kirin 990 will indeed support recording video at 4K 60fps. Starting with the Mate 30 series, you’ll no longer have to choose between a high resolution and a high frame rate. It’s incredible how fast Chinese companies manage to improve. If you ever wonder why the United States government is trying to hit Huawei so hard, it’s because of things like this. Aside from the possibly valid spying concerns, Huawei is simply also a major competitor to Silicon Valley, and this is a great way for American corporations/government to strike back. There aren’t many companies who can make every part of a device. Huawei is one of them.

Purism announces official specs of its upcoming Librem 5 smartphone

It has been almost two years since Purism ended its Librem 5 crowdfunder, raising $2.1 million. Now the company has unveiled the final specifications for the device as well as an approximate launch date of Q3 2019. If you’re unfamiliar with the device, the Librem 5 runs PureOS, a fully free and open source operating system that is not based on Android or iOS. The Librem 5 is an incredibly ambitious device, and while the specifications are decidedly low range at this point, it has a number of privacy-oriented features that no other smartphone has, such as the baseband separated form the processor in a black box, hardware toggles for all wireless communications and the camera/microphone, and much more.

Huawei’s HongmengOS is faster than Android and MacOS, has broader application

In an interview with a French magazine, Huawei’s CEO and founder, Ren Zhengfei, has stated that the homegrown HongmengOS will be faster than Android and will have a broader application as well. It can be used not only on smartphones but on routers, network switches, tablets, computers and even data centers. It will also be faster than macOS, he says. Nobody cares. No applications, no platform. Sadly, it’s as simple as that.

Bill Gates on making “one of the greatest mistakes of all time”

Bill Gates, in an interview for some venture capital firm’s event: You know, in the software world, in particular for platforms, these are winner-take-all markets. So, you know, the greatest mistake ever is the whatever mismanagement I engaged in that caused Microsoft not to be what Android is, Android is the standard non-Apple phone form platform. That was a natural thing for Microsoft to win. It really is winner take all. If you’re there with half as many apps or 90% as many apps, you’re on your way to complete doom. There’s room for exactly one non-Apple operating system, and what’s that worth? $400 billion that would be transferred from company G to company M . It really sucks that consumer technology platforms always seem to settle on only two platforms, with everything else relegated to the sidelines. Windows Phone, Sailfish, webOS, and others all had great ideas that just don’t get a fair chance in the market, and from both a consumer’s and an enthusiast’s perspective, that is such a shame.

Huawei files to trademark mobile OS around the world after US ban

China’s Huawei has applied to trademark its “Hongmeng” operating system (OS) in at least nine countries and Europe, data from a U.N. body shows, in a sign it may be deploying a back-up plan in key markets as U.S. sanctions threaten its business model. If you need to make your own operating system in the current market, you’ve already lost. Huawei is in a very deep hole.

Federal Trade Commission wins antitrust case against Qualcomm

One of the key points of this case is that “In numerous cases Qualcomm threatened with a disruption of chipset supplies unless OEMs accepted its patent licensing terms, and there were various agreements under which OEMs paid a higher patent royalty when using third-party modem chips than Qualcomm’s products.” The judge found that “Qualcomm’s licensing practices have strangled competition in the CDMA and premium LTE modem chip markets for years, and harmed rivals, OEMs, and end consumers in the process.” As a remedy, Qualcomm is ordered to take several steps which will reduce the amount of power it holds over its customers and will need to renegotiate new license terms without the threats that had accompanied previous negotiations.

Three big reasons why Americans aren’t upgrading their phones

Last month, Verizon and AT&T made official something you’ve probably been aware of for a while: American smartphone owners are upgrading a lot less than they used to. In fact, they’re hitting record lows at the two biggest US carriers, with people apparently more content than ever to keep hold of their existing device. This is a global trend, as the smartphone market is reaching maturity and saturation in many developed nations, and yet it’s most pronounced in the United States for a few reasons particular to the country. The article focuses on the United States, but correctly points out this is a global trend in the developed world. Not only are phones quite expensive, they have also been more than good enough for quite a few years now, and there’s very little in the sense of revolutionary progress being made form generation to generation. Earlier this year, I dropped my OnePlus 6T on a sharp rocky edge, and it broke the glass back. I sent it in for repairs – €40, not bad – and while it was being repaired, I dusted off my old Nexus 6P and used it instead. I was surprised by just how perfectly fine and usable it was – sure, it was a little slower here and there, the screen isn’t as nice, those sorts of things, but as a whole, if I hadn’t had the 6T to compare it to, I would be none the wiser. It makes perfect sense for general consumers to stick with their expensive phones for longer, especially now that the market has pretty much saturated.

How the first smartphone came out in 1994, but flopped

Silicon Valley’s favorite mantra goes “Fail often, fail fast.” It captures the tech industry’s long history of dismantled startups, lost jobs, demoralization, and bankruptcy. One casualty was General Magic, an offshoot of Apple that strove to develop the next level in personal computing: a handheld computer. At the time they considered the project an advanced PDA, but today we’d recognize it as a smartphone. Before the iPhone, General Magic created the operating system for the Sony Magic Link in 1994. Sandy Kerruish and Matt Maude’s new documentary General Magic details the colossal failure that ensued. Apple, Microsoft, General Magic, and Palm were all working on PDAs at the time. Only one of them succeeded.

rePalm

As I mentioned, none of the native API of PalmOS 5.x was ever documented. There was a small number of people who figured out some parts of it, but nobody really got it all, or even close to it. To start with, because large parts are not useful to an app developer, and thus attracted no interest. This is a problem, however, if one wants to make a new device. So I had to actually do a lot of reverse engineering for this project – a lot of boring reverse engineering of very boring APIs that I still had to implement. Oh, and I needed a kernel, and actual hardware to run on. I’m in awe. This is nothing short of breathtaking.

In African villages, these phones become ultrasound scanners

Lying on a church pew with his arm over his head, 6-year-old Gordon Andindagaye whimpered a bit — in fear, not pain — as Dr. William A. Cherniak slowly swept a small ultrasound scanner up and down his chest. Dr. Cherniak and Rodgers Ssekawoko Muhumuza, the Ugandan clinical officer he was training, stared at the iPhone into which the scanner was plugged, watching Gordon’s lung expand and contract. “O.K.,” Dr. Cherniak finally said. “What do you recommend?” Here in the west it’s easy to grow cynical towards smartphones and technology, but the impact phones and smartphones having in third world countries – which often skip desktops and laptops – is astounding.

Mer Project and Sailfish OS to merge

I am pleased to announce a significant change in Mer and Sailfish OS which will be implemented in phases. As many of you know Mer began many years ago as a way for the community to demonstrate “working in the open” to Nokia. This succeeded well enough that Mer eventually closed down and shifted support to MeeGo. When MeeGo stopped – thanks to its open nature – we, Carsten Munk and I, were able to reincarnate Mer as an open community project and continue to develop a core OS and a suite of open development tools around it. Over time a number of organisations used the Mer core as a base for their work. However, there was one that stood out: Jolla with Sailfish OS which started to use Mer core in its core and they have been by far the most consistent contributors and supporters of Mer. Once again, Mer has served its purpose and can retire. To clarify that this will be the official ‘working in the open’ core of SailfishOS we’re going to gradually merge merproject.org and sailfishos.org. Just another line in the footnote that is Maemo/Meego/Sailfish/etc.

KaiOS may succeed where Android Go Edition has failed

There’s another mobile operating system on the rise, but this one is special for a few reasons. First, it’s not necessarily trying to unseat iOS and Android — it’s designed to run on feature phones. It also has received significant investment from Google, and in most cases, Assistant and other Google applications are preinstalled. The operating system in question is ‘KaiOS,’ and it’s already shipping on a handful of phones, including the 4G version of the Nokia 8810 and the Jio JioPhone. I’ve been using KaiOS for a while on the Maxcom MK241, and while it’s definitely better than the average feature phone, it still has rough edges. A KaiOS device is definitely on my list of devices, since it’s a popular operating system I haven’t yet had the chance to try. I like the idea of having a more focused, less capable device, with better battery life and less distractions.

Purism’s PureOS is convergent

PureOS has laid the foundation for future applications to run on both the Librem 5 phone and Librem laptops, from the same PureOS release, in contrast, they say, to Google and Apple’s ecosystems which still have separate OSes for mobile and desktop. Now, Google and Apple seem to be intent on converging their mobile and desktop platforms, leading to fear and consternation from desktop OS power users, who assume that the move will dumb down desktop OSes. While this technical aspects of the PureOS team’s accomplishment are interesting and laudable, I’d suspect that the bigger challenge for any mainstream platform will actually be a user experience challenge, especially bridging familiar UI elements between mobile and desktop user environments.