PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless Archive

Sailfish OS 3.0.1 released

Sailfish OS 3.0.1 has been released. From the release notes: Sipoonkorpi is mainly a bug fixing update, bringing in just a few new features. We’ve added Bulgarian language support and improved the handling of email folders. You can now create light ambiences, and respond to meeting invitations through Exchange and Google. We’ve also tuned up SD card encryption and protected critical Top Menu toggles with the security code. It’s available for Jolla devices and the Xperia X and XA2.

Sailifish 3.0.0 released to early access

Sailfish 3 now fully packetizes the offering for multitude of corporate and governmental solutions. In line with the regional licensing strategy, Sailfish 3 has a deeper level of security making it a solid option for various corporate and organizational solutions, and other use cases. In addition to the security and corporate features there are many user experience highlights for Sailfish 3.0.0. Sailfish 3 brings the new Top Menu, giving you quick access to lots of functions with a single swipe. The new Light Ambiences will show you your device in a whole different light. SD card support has been improved with better formatting and encryption, and you can use external storage through USB On-The-Go. Also in this release we have quick keyboard layout switching, a dedicated Gallery folder for screenshots and Xperia XA2 support for Sailfish X. Finally, there are system-wide speed improvements: both the new app launch and in-app page opening paths are considerably quicker now. Things load faster.

It's a pretty massive release, but since I doubt much has changed on the applications and third party developer support fronts, I have a hard time seeing any value in dedicating effort into updating and using my Jolla phone and tablet to give the platform yet another chance. Still, good to see they're still going strong.

Apps for preschoolers are flooded with manipulative ads

In the children's gaming app Doctor Kids, a popular purchase in the Google and Amazon app stores, kids get to play doctor in a children's hospital. They clean patients' teeth as a dentist, straighten crooked bones inside an X-ray scan, and play optometrist by helping kids with blurry vision find the right prescription glasses, all against a backdrop of brightly colored characters and a twinkling soundtrack.

Until suddenly, the game is interrupted. A bubble pops up with a new mini game idea, and when a child clicks on the bubble, they are invited to purchase it for $1.99, or unlock all new games for $3.99. There's a red X button to cancel the pop-up, but if the child clicks on it, the character on the screen shakes its head, looks sad, and even begins to cry.

Next time you see Tim Cook or Sundar Pichai on stage waxing lyrically about how much they value society and how humbled they are they are playing role in making the world a better place, just remember - Apple and Google are complicit in extorting money from toddlers.

iFixit and Motorola partner to sell official device repair kits

Motorola is setting an example for major manufacturers to embrace a more open attitude towards repair. If you're a Motorola customer, you can now either send in your broken device directly to Motorola for repair - or you can fix it yourself with the highest quality parts and tools, plus a free step-by-step guide, all included in our official Motorola OEM Fix Kits.

That's a model worth replicating, and we couldn't be more thrilled to consider Motorola a repair ally.

This is a very welcome move, and I deeply hope more companies will follow in Motorola's footsteps here. It's refreshing to see a large company actually care about repairability, and even more so to see such a company actively working with repair partners to make it easier for consumers to repair devices themselves.

The $12 “Gongkai” Phone

Recently, I paid $12 at Mingtong Digital Mall for a complete phone, featuring quad-band GSM, Bluetooth, MP3 playback, and an OLED display plus keypad for the UI. Simple, but functional; nothing compared to a smartphone, but useful if you’re going out and worried about getting your primary phone wet or stolen.

How is this possible? I don't have the answers, but it's something I'm trying to learn. A teardown yields a few hints.

These are amazing products for a specific niche, and the young teenager in me who got his first cellphone at 13 marvels at the price of this thing.

Despite being shunned in the US, Huawei flourishes in Europe

When major smartphone manufacturers talk about growth, they generally target three different markets: China, which is the biggest; the United States, which is highly influential and profitable; and the rest. India will soon rise from the latter pile, but until it does, Europe might be the most interesting battleground for the respective companies dominating the US and Chinese spheres. Until very recently, Western Europe looked a lot like the United States, with Samsung commanding more than a third of the market, Apple in a close second spot, and minnows picking up the scraps. But IDC's latest data, as provided to The Verge, shows China's Huawei enjoying a meteoric rise since the start of 2017. Yes, the same Huawei that the US government advises its citizens to avoid.

Huawei is marketing quite aggressively over here, but I still haven't seen any of their phones in the wild. It's exclusively Samsung and Apple, so far.

Palm’s new Android phone has a tiny 3.3″ screen

What you're seeing above is the first Palm smartphone since the Pre 3 was announced in 2011. Currently codenamed 'Pepito,' this new handset is headed for Verizon, and it's the possibly the weirdest Android phone of 2018. Sporting a tiny 3.3-inch 720p LCD screen, Pepito is easily the smallest Android device in years to be sold in the USA, and probably one of the smallest in the world. The diminutive size doesn't end at the display - this phone will have a tiny 800mAh battery, we've been able to confirm. That probably doesn't make this phone much of an all-day device, and it really is a bit of a head-scratcher.

The Pepito is powered by a Snapdragon 435 processor and, oddly, has 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage according to our source. Of course, it's possible there could be multiple storage and RAM SKUs depending on region and operator. We don't have any information about where this device is being released aside from Verizon here in America.

Not the highest-specced phone, but I like the elegant design and tiny size - bucks the trend, really, in a welcome way. The logo needs some work though.

The dawn of wearable computers

If you deem your new smartwatch the most futuristic piece of technology around, better you have a look at this strange thing dating back to the good old Eighties. It's the UC-2000, a wristwatch wearable computer introduced in 1984 by well-known Japanese tech company and watchmaker Seiko.

I love these things. They're not exactly pretty, but its designers and engineers must've worked within some insane limitations.

EU to study need for action on common mobile phone charger

EU regulators plan to study whether there is a need for action in the push for a common mobile phone charger following a lack of progress by phone makers towards this goal, EU competition chief Margrethe Vestager said.

Many phone makers voluntarily promised to standardize chargers, and while a lot of progress has been made, the EU isn't satisfied - so, they're now thinking of making it mandatory. This would mostly affect Apple, since that's the only major holdout still using a non-standard, proprietary port.

General Magic tried to invent a smartphone in the 1990s

On the latest episode of Recode Decode, hosted by Kara Swisher, Sarah Kerruish and Matt Maude talk about their new documentary, "General Magic", which tells the story of a pioneering tech startup that tried and failed to invent a smartphone in the 1990s. Kara appears in the documentary, as do some of the most important figures from the company's history, such as Andy Hertzfeld, John Sculley and Tony Fadell. Although few people know the name General Magic anymore, Kerruish and Maude say the team's failure paved the way for the Silicon Valley we know today.

Here's the transcript for this interview and podcast, which is quite interesting.

Google invests $22 million in KaiOS

KaiOS Technologies Inc., developer of the emerging operating system for smart feature phones, KaiOS, today announced a $22M Series A investment from Google to help bring the internet to the next generation of users.

In addition to the investment, Google and KaiOS have also agreed to work together to make the Google Assistant, Google Maps, YouTube, and Google Search available to KaiOS users. These apps have been developed specifically for the KaiOS platform, which is entirely web-based, using open standards such as HTML5, JavaScript, and CSS.

You're probably not aware of KaiOS, since it only runs on feature phones most of us don't use. KaiOS is a fork of FirefoxOS, and is actually quite popular - it's already on 40 million feature phones, including various Nokia phones. Google's investment makes sense here, and ensures its services are available on these devices. I'm still contemplating buying the 8110 (in yellow, of course) to get acquainted with KaiOS.

Qualcomm announces Snapdragon 632, 439, and 429

A month ago we saw Qualcomm release a new "upper mid-range" SoC with the announcement of the Snapdragon 710 - the emphasis was on the fact that this was a new market tier aiming slightly below the top-tier flagship chipsets. Today, we're seeing Qualcomm expand the traditional mid-tier and also what can be considered the low-end for smartphone devices. The Snapdragon 439 and 429 follow in the footsteps of the 435 and 425 and bring FinFET to the low-end; the Snapdragon 632 is more akin to the Snapdragon 652 as it's now the first time we see big cores brought down to the lower mid-tier successor to the Snapdragon 630.

Sure, the high-end Apple and Qualcomm Snapdragon SoCs get all the attention, but it's these mid-to-low-end SoCs that are the real workhorses of the mobile revolution.

The best phone to buy right now

There are a lot of great smartphone options available at any given moment, so it can be a challenge to sort through them all if you're trying to choose the absolute best one. The stakes here can't be understated: your smartphone is the most important gadget in your life, and you ll probably be living with the one you buy for at least a year, if not two or three.

Most of the time, there's a phone that stands out from the pack in all the areas that matter: performance, value, camera, and support. But this year, depending on who you ask, you could get as many as four different answers for what the best phone is to buy. And depending on what kind of phone user you are, any one of them could be the ideal phone for you.

The answer has been the iPhone for years, and as long as expensive Android flagships don't get updates and the Google Pixel is only available in three countries, that's not going to change any time soon - whether Android people like it or not.

Oppo’s Find X ditches the notch for pop-up cameras

If there's a singular trend to point to for phones in 2018, it's the effort to cram as much screen into a device as possible. Oppo's new Find X, which is being officially announced at a live streamed event in Paris today, combines a number of trendy design ideas, plus some even newer tricks, to fit an extremely large 6.4-inch display into a phone that you can still hold in one hand. The Find X’s design is so space efficient that Oppo claims it has a screen to body ratio of 93.8 percent. And it does this without utilizing a notch, which should make at least some people happy.

The most interesting aspect of the Find X's design is its camera system, which is completely hidden when the phone is off or the camera app is closed. When you turn the Find X on and open the camera app, the entire top section of the phone motorizes up and reveals a 25-megapixel front-facing camera, 3D facial scanning system, and 16-megapixel + 20-megapixel dual rear camera. Close the camera app and the whole assembly motors back into the phone's chassis. Oppo says the camera can open in just 0.5 seconds, and based on my experience, that seems fairly accurate.

I have my doubts about the longevity and durability of motorized camera systems like these, but there's no denying it's a pretty neat trick.

How do iOS Screen Time and Android Digital Wellbeing stack up?

Developer conference season is coming to an end with Apple's WWDC this week, and the main takeaway is that between Google's "Digital Wellbeing" and Apple's "Screen Time", the two biggest smartphone developers are taking some time to discourage smartphone overuse.

On the surface, the two companies are taking very similar approaches with the tools they're offering to present information to users. Apple and Google are both adding new dashboards, with options for more zoomed-out perspectives on how you're spending your time, along with more granular views of how often you're using individual apps - down to the minute. There's data on how many notifications you've received, where they're coming from, and breakdowns of when you're actually on your phone.

I like these features. I don't really need them - I don't even use my phone all that much - but I do like that they give me insight into how long I use certain applications, how often I pick up my phone, and so on. Neat data to have.

Sailfish OS 2.2.0 released

This update, nicknamed Mouhijoki, introduces a new simpler single item view in Gallery and Camera app, adds fingerprint unlock support and emoji keyboard layout. VPN and MDM have become more robust. Android Support has been updated for Xperia X and Jolla C devices. There are several improvements for Email app. Remorse timers can be swiped away to commit immediately. We have dropped continuous focus from Xperia X camera - the camera stays out of focus when it starts until you either tap or try to take a shot - but the pictures seem to be better focused now. Last but not least Sailfish X now officially supports the Xperia X dual SIM phone (F5122).

It's only for early access subscribers for now, but assuming no gamebreaking issues are found, it should roll out to everyone else soon enough.

Samsung won’t be forced to update old phones

Samsung will not be forced to update the software on its mobile phones for years after their release, after it won a court case in the Netherlands.

A consumer association had argued that Samsung should update its phones for at least four years after they go on sale.

Regular software updates can address security problems but older models do not typically receive all the latest updates.

However, the court rejected the association's claims.

The fact that it might be difficult for poor Samsung to update phones weighed heavier than the safety and longevity of devices.

Cool.

Razer Phone XDA display analysis

When contemplating who’d be a major player in the Android smartphone business, the gaming hardware giant Razer probably doesn’t come to mind. While they have yet to establish themselves as a reliable smartphone provider, Razer’s first attempt did not at all seem like it was their first time dabbling into Android, likely because much of their engineering team came from Nextbit. Razer leveraged their status in gaming hardware to appeal to those who game, and those who game hold high refresh rate monitors in high regard. So Razer put one on a smartphone.

This article takes a close look at the Razor phone's display, which is rather unique among Android phones for its 120Hz refresh rate (iPhones have 120Hz displays as well).

A collection of Windows 95 UI components for iOS’ UIKit

This is a little exploration into applying '90s-era design & principles into a modern platform with some primitive components. The assets and design metrics were (for the most part) taken from an actual installation of Windows 95. These are pixel-accurate renditions of the original design.

There's something refreshing about seeing Windows 95's controls and widgets running on a modern smartphone.