posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
Speaking of Windows Phone - it seems like it's not happening. Telecom executives for years have trumpeted the need for a new cellphone platform to provide a counterweight to the dominance of Google's Android and Apple's iOS. Maybe it could be BlackBerry. Or maybe Windows. Or maybe not. According to the data from IDC, the two top players are only getting stronger, grabbing 96.4% of global smartphone shipments in the second quarter, up from 92.6% a year ago. Windows Phone’s share of shipments fell to 2.5% of the total from 3.4% a year ago, as shipments dropped by more than 9%. BlackBerry’s share fell to 0.5% from 2.8% - below the market share of the "other" category - amid a total collapse in shipments. This is a two-horse race, and the rest is fighting over the scraps. Those scraps are enough for newcomers such as Jolla, who don't really need the massive numbers to keep a small company alive, but it's the death knell for platforms from larger, established companies with demanding shareholders. So far, the whole Windows Phone experiment has been a disaster for Microsoft (and Nokia). They've had to pour so much money into Windows Phone just to keep it alive that it will take them 5-10 years before they will ever make any profit on the platform - and that's assuming it actually takes off. If it continues to muddle as it does now, it will remain a huge money pit - and at some point, shareholders and the new CEO will question its existence.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
Microsoft has had "passionate" discussions about renaming Internet Explorer to distance the browser from its tarnished image, according to answers from members of the developer team given in a reddit Ask Me Anything session today. In spite of significant investment in the browser - with the result that Internet Explorer 11 is really quite good - many still regard the browser with contempt, soured on it by the lengthy period of neglect that came after the release of the once-dominant version 6. Microsoft has been working to court developers and get them to give the browser a second look, but the company still faces an uphill challenge. Windows Phone faces the same problem. I'm fairly certain 'a Windows phone' just sounds dirty to many people, associating it with viruses and other issues from the past. Can't blame them.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
Samsung has officially announced its first metal phone in a very long time: the Samsung Galaxy Alpha. Normally, Samsung goes all-out in the specs department and puts all the pieces in a plastic case - but the Galaxy Alpha is all about design over specs. Or, as I like to call it, the Samsung Galaxy Oh Crap.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
Steven P. Jobs established Apple University as a way to inculcate employees into Apple’s business culture and educate them about its history, particularly as the company grew and the tech business changed. Courses are not required, only recommended, but getting new employees to enroll is rarely a problem. Although many companies have such internal programs, sometimes referred to as indoctrination, Apple's version is a topic of speculation and fascination in the tech world. Mildly interesting puff piece on Apple, but what I found kind of hilarious is how the author chose Apple's mice as a shining example of Apple's philosophy. Apple makes some great, defining products - but Apple's mice are absolutely horrible. The little mice timeline also curiously omits the most horrible mouse in computer history. About 7-10 years ago, I was talking to a sales person at the oldest and then-largest Apple retail chain in my country (founded by the first Dutchman to own a Mac). The sales person was obviously a fervent Apple fan, but as we were detailing my Mac purchase, he said "do you want an Apple mouse, or a mouse that works?" The first thing I do when I buy a new Mac is toss out the Apple mouse.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
When Microsoft announced its plans to scrap its Asha feature phones and shift its Android-based Nokia X to Windows, it appeared the company might be getting out of the low-end phone business entirely. That's apparently not the case, though, as Microsoft is introducing the Nokia 130, a 19 euro ($25) cellphone that lacks an Internet connection but includes the ability to play digital music and movies along with an FM radio and flashlight. The new device sits in between the even more basic Nokia 105 and the Nokia 220, which does have some Internet abilities. I'm glad Microsoft will continue to make phones like this. They are very important in large parts of the world, and these are the kinds of phones that made it possible for Nokia to bring the mobile phone to every corner of the world.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
A recent article in Taiwan and a related report by F-Secure raised privacy concerns by stating that Xiaomi devices are sending phone numbers to Xiaomi's servers. These concerns refer to the MIUI Cloud Messaging service described above. As we believe it is our top priority to protect user data and privacy, we have decided to make MIUI Cloud Messaging an opt-in service and no longer automatically activate users. We have scheduled an OTA system update for today (Aug 10th) to implement this change. After the upgrade, new users or users who factory reset their devices can enable the service by visiting "Settings > Mi Cloud > Cloud Messaging" from their home screen or "Settings > Cloud Messaging" inside the Messaging app - these are also the places where users can turn off Cloud Messaging. We apologize for any concern caused to our users and Mi fans. We would also like to thank the media and users who have been sending us feedback and suggestions, allowing us to improve and provide better Internet services. Fast response, but it's exactly this kind of shitty behaviour that especially a Chinese company simply cannot afford out here in the west. If Microsoft, Apple, or Google does something like this, they'll have armies of defenders and a huge PR department to solve it. Upcoming Chinese companies are generally much, much leaner and do not have that at all. In any case, you're generally much better off with a custom ROM anyway, and this just yet another reason.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
Four Silicon Valley companies including Apple and Google failed to persuade a U.S. judge to sign off on a $324.5 million settlement to resolve a lawsuit by tech workers, who accused the firms of conspiring to avoid poaching each other's employees. In a ruling on Friday, U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh in San Jose, California, said the class action settlement was too low, given the strength of the case against the companies. Intel and Adobe were also part of the proposed deal. Good on her. I've said it before and I'll say it again: Eric Schmidt, Tim Cook, and the other criminals behind this crime belong in jail. If a poor member of a minority steals a wallet, he gets jail time. Rich CEOs steal hundreds of millions - and if you do the math, it actually comes down to billions - and they can get away with a paltry sum and walk free. This is unfair and unjust. Eric Schmidt, Tim Cook, and the others are criminals. They belong in jail.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
Apple Inc products such as laptops and tablets are not banned from Chinese government procurement lists, according to the country's chief procurement center, refuting a report claiming Apple was blacklisted on national security concerns. According to a Bloomberg News report published on Wednesday, 10 Apple products, including MacBook laptops and iPad tablets, were taken off a government list of approved hardware due to security concerns. The Central Government Procurement Centre, as well as the finance ministry and Apple, said the company never applied to be on the list in the first place. Earlier reports were wrong.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
If you have a Nexus 5 you can experiment with, you can now experiment with Sailfish OS. A community port has been released, and while it's clearly not stable or anywhere near production-ready, it's still interesting to try out on your NExus 5. It's not feature-complete, and several things don't yet work, but it's getting there. The flashing instructions are pretty straightforward - in a nutshell, flash CyanogenMod, flash Sailfish on top of it, done. It's weekend, so have fun!

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
Some of the recent discussions on this forum regarding "Tickless OS" support NuttX inspired me. So I implemented it! It really was not that difficult... About a day and a half of work with only a few spills and chills. I did all of the testing on the NuttX simulator using the OS test. I built in a simulated interval timer for the simulator and ran the OS test against the tickless OS support. The OS test is probably more exhaustive than what the typical application does so I am fairly confident in the implementation. Of course the simulator can miss certain classes of bugs. NuttX is a 32bit embedded realtime operating system, licensed as open source under the BSD license.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
Microsoft continued to lose money on its Surface tablets throughout its just-concluded 2014 fiscal year, adding hundreds of millions of dollars in red ink and boosting total losses to $1.7 billion since the device's 2012 launch. It doesn't look like Surface has really been working out for Microsoft. I think the hardware's pretty great, the software is well below par (as a tablet!), but yet, people aren't buying them. Combined with Windows Phone's and Nokia's inability to make any form of profit, it looks like Microsoft's 'devices' focus has been a pretty big failure. At the glacial pace with which Lumia sales are growing, it might take the company several years before turning a profit and recouping all the investments made (e.g. Nokia acquisition).

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
Earlier today, someone decided to post to the Android issue tracker complaining about the lack of multiuser support for smartphones. Within a few hours, a developer at Google responded and closed the issue, remarking that "the development team has implemented this feature and it will be available as a part of the next public build." Sounds pretty definitive to us. On tablets, the use case for multiple accounts (of course, Android has always been multiuser) is clear. The device is often shared among family members, so each user having her or his own account is very useful. For smartphones, though, this feature seems more for business use cases than for home user, where most people will have their own phone. Pretty sure business users are going to love this: one device, two accounts. One for work, one for play.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
China's government excluded Apple Inc. iPads and MacBook laptops from the list of products that can be bought with public money because of security concerns, according to government officials familiar with the matter. Windows 8 was already banned from Chinese government computers. I can't really blame the Chinese government. American companies have cooperated very closely with the US intelligence industry, so it was only a matter of time before the Chinese government started doing to American companies what the American government did to Chinese companies. The several billion dollars question formulated in one word: iPhone?

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
While nobody hated the iPad, by any means, the iPad was edged out by some key feedback, said Joel Handler, Hillsborough's director of technology. Students saw the iPad as a "fun" gaming environment, while the Chromebook was perceived as a place to "get to work." And as much as students liked to annotate and read on the iPad, the Chromebook's keyboard was a greater perk - especially since the new Common Core online testing will require a keyboard. Another important finding came from the technology support department: It was far easier to manage almost 200 Chromebooks than the same number of iPads. Since all the Chromebook files live in an online "cloud," students could be up and running in seconds on a new device if their machine broke. And apps could be pushed to all of the devices with just a few mouse clicks. Hillsborough educators also tend to emphasize collaboration, and they found that Google's Apps for Education suite - which works on either device - was easier to use collaboratively on Chromebooks. I'm shocked - shocked! - that a device with a keyboard is more useful in educational settings than a tablet.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
Microsoft is considering bringing virtual desktops to Windows Threshold. The feature, which is already on other platforms like Ubuntu and OS X is currently being tested and is said to have similar functionality to that of Ubuntu. You can activate the desktops with a button on the taskbar (subject to change) and there are keyboard shortcuts that let you jump between active desktops. Of course, this should have been done eons ago, but the fact they're considering it now is great news. Let's hope it's true.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
Samsung in China: Xiaomi, a smartphone maker based in China, sold more devices in its home market during the second quarter than Samsung, the world's No. 1 supplier of devices. Samsung owned the Chinese smartphone market for more than two years, but data from Canalys says its reign has come to an end. Samsung in India: Indian budget smartphone maker Micromax has ousted Samsung Electronics Co Ltd as the leading brand in all types of mobile phones in the April-June quarter, grabbing a 16.6 percent market share, a recent research report showed. Great news for consumers and the market in general. This will drive prices down, foster competition, and increase choice. We all win. Now, if only Europe had its own smartphone maker. And what about South-America?

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
As promised, Windows Phone 8.1 Update 1 is rolling out to Lumia phones with Developer Preview enabled. The biggest feature is Live Folders, which allows users to dynamically create folders on the Start screen. Other new features include the Apps Corner, SMS merge and forwarding and much more. It should also add Cortana support for the UK and China, and India, Australia, and Canada residents can check out the US version of Cortana officially for the first time. The update is not rolling out for owners of non-Lumia devices - HTC 8X and 8S owners, for instance, are not getting the update. There's no word from Microsoft yet as to why Lumia devices are getting the preferential treatment.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
The MorphOS development team is proud to announce the public release of MorphOS 3.7, which features various bug fixes as well as other minor improvements. For an overview of the included changes, please read our release notes. They just keep on going with these regular releases.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
Microsoft is suing yet another Android device maker - but this time it's a very different case than their usual protection money scheme. Microsoft claims that Samsung has stopped complying with a patent sharing agreement between the two companies. After becoming the leading player in the worldwide smartphone market, Samsung decided late last year to stop complying with its agreement with Microsoft. In September 2013, after Microsoft announced it was acquiring the Nokia Devices and Services business, Samsung began using the acquisition as an excuse to breach its contract. Curiously, Samsung did not ask the court to decide whether the Nokia acquisition invalidated its contract with Microsoft, likely because it knew its position was meritless. Interesting, if true. This is what happens when you stop paying protection money - the burly men with clubs show up.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
Based on your feedback, we pursued a web experience for IE users consistent with what is available on iOS and Android devices - even where this meant we would be adding non-standard web platform features. We believe that this is a more pragmatic approach to running today's less-standardised mobile web. Thank you, web developers, for turning mobile Safari into the new Internet Explorer. Have you people learned nothing?

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
Hewlett-Packard has changed its direction on OpenVMS. Instead of pushing its users off the system, it has licensed OpenVMS to a new firm that plans to develop ports to the latest Itanium chips and is promising eventual support for x86 processors. Great news for OpenVMS, and a great move by HP.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
Phone Arena has a short video up in which the BlackBerry Passport gets introduced. The unique hardware keyboard whose entire surface is also a touchpad gets demonstrated. Typical of a BlackBerry, the Passport employs a portrait style QWERTY keyboard. However, this time around, they've minimized the layout by shrinking the row of buttons to a mere 3 - as opposed to the 4 we're normally accustomed to seeing. Additionally, numbers and punctuations aren't available through the keyboard, but they've been turned into virtual keys that sit above the top row for quick access. And during our demo, we got the chance to see the keyboard be used to scroll through web pages by lightly brushing your finger over the QWERTY. This has been a long time coming: innovation in the hardware keyboard space. Currently, there are effectively no decent high-end smartphones with hardware keyboards, and that's a shame. I'm glad BlackBerry has the guts to go against the grain here and try to breath new life into this severely neglected form factor.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
As expected, Microsoft is finally revealing all there is about Update 1 for Windows Phone 8.1. Known internally as GDR1 for 'general distribution release,' this update is one of two for the 8.1 operating system in 2014. The news comes out of Beijing, China where Microsoft's Joe Belfiore announced the release during his keynote, in addition to the expansion of Cortana to the UK and China. Coming next week for Preview for Developers. If Microsoft can keep this pace of updates up, they've got something very good going. A very welcome contrast to the slow and monolithic approach the company took in the first few years of Windows Phone's existence.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
Dan Goodin, at Ars Technica, is writing about a security flaw in Android. It's got all the usual scary-scary language about doom and gloom, quotes from antivirus peddlers, and it wasn't long until sensationalist Apple site AppleInsider took it all one step further (relevant). So, is this a real security threat, or are we looking at sensationalism run amok? This is the issue in a nutshell. The Fake ID vulnerability stems from the failure of Android to verify the validity of cryptographic certificates that accompany each app installed on a device. The OS relies on the credentials when allocating special privileges that allow a handful of apps to bypass Android sandboxing. Under normal conditions, the sandbox prevents programs from accessing data belonging to other apps or to sensitive parts of the OS. Select apps, however, are permitted to break out of the sandbox. Adobe Flash in all but version 4.4, for instance, is permitted to act as a plugin for any other app installed on the phone, presumably to allow it to add animation and graphics support. Similarly, Google Wallet is permitted to access Near Field Communication hardware that processes payment information. Sounds serious! Should you be worried? Is it time to stock up on canned beans and switch to a Nokia 3310? Of course, it's always time to switch to a Nokia 3310, but not really because of this "issue". Buried deep within the Ars Technica article is Google's response to the issue. After receiving word of this vulnerability, we quickly issued a patch that was distributed to Android partners, as well as to AOSP. Google Play and Verify Apps have also been enhanced to protect users from this issue. At this time, we have scanned all applications submitted to Google Play as well as those Google has reviewed from outside of Google Play, and we have seen no evidence of attempted exploitation of this vulnerability. First, a patch been sent to OEMs and AOSP, but with Android's abysmal update situation, this is a moot point. The crux, however, lies with Google Play and Verify Apps. These have already been updated to detect this issue, and prevent applications that try to abuse this flaw from being installed. This means two things. First, that there are no applications in Google Play that exploit this issue. If you stick to Google Play, you're safe from this issue, period. No ifs and buts. Second, even if you install applications from outside of Google Play, you are still safe from this issue. Verify Apps is part of Play Services, and runs on every Android device from 2.3 and up. It scans every application at install and continuously during use for suspect behaviour. In this case, an application that tries to exploit this flaw will simply be blocked from installing or running. As a sidenote, you can actually disable Verify Apps, but unlike what some people seem to think, the dialog you get about sending data to Google when trying to sideload an application has nothing to do with this (that dialog just covers sending data about the application to Google, which is not required for Verify Apps to work). To actually completely disable Verify Apps, you need to go into the Google Settings application (or the Android settings application in 4.2 and up), navigate to Security, and disable it from there. To get back to the matter at hand: this means that every Android user with Google Play Services is 100% protected from this issue. The only way an Android user can potentially be affected by this issue is if she, one specifically allows installation from unknown sources, and two, specifically disables Verify Apps - all accompanied by several warnings. Luckily, not a single application in or outside of Google Play is currently trying to exploit this issue. While one can expect sensationalist nonsense from a site like AppleInsider - you don't blame TMZ for reporting on a fart by Miley Cyrus; you don't blame AppleInsider for spreading sensationalist nonsense - I'm very disappointed that a respected site like Ars Technica resorts to spreading this kind of fear, uncertainty, and doubt, especially since this isn't the first time the site has done so. Recently, it has become very clear that the security industry - antivirus peddlers and similar companies - have focussed all their attention on Android, resorting to all sorts of dirty tactics to scare unsuspecting users into buying their useless software. Since I can't stress this often enough: do not install antivirus on Android (or iOS, for that matter). It is not needed in any way, shape, or form. This is not the first time they have tried to spread and exploit fear, uncertainty, and doubt. Back when Windows started properly shoring up its security, Microsoft released MSE, and the mass infections of the early XP days became a thing of the past, they tried to use the exact same tactics to try and scare the rapidly growing number of OS X users into buying their junk. I advocated against this practice then (more here), and I will advocate against it now. When you come across stories like this, you can almost always assume it's FUD, whether it covers Android, OS X, or iOS. They almost always originate from antivirus peddlers, who know full well that operating system security - on both desktop and mobile - has increased so much these past decade or so that their core business model is at stake, and as such, they have to drum up the FUD. I just wish respected websites would not dance to their tunes for clicks. And yes, you should totally get a 3310.

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