posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
A Chinese no-name Galaxy S4 knock-off allegedly comes pre-loaded with spyware: For the first time ever, the experts at the German security vendor have discovered a smartphone that comes with extensive spyware straight from the factory. The malware is disguised as the Google Play Store and is part of the pre-installed Android apps. The spyware runs in the background and cannot be detected by users. Unbeknownst to the user, the smartphone sends personal data to a server located in China and is able to covertly install additional applications. The news comes from a security firm, so take it with a grain of salt, but still - this is exactly the kind of stuff legitimate Chinese manufacturers really do not want.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
Linux kernel 3.15 has been released. This release resumes much faster in systems with hard disks, it adds support for cross-renaming two files atomically, it adds new fallocate(2) modes that allow to remove the range of a file or set it to zero, it adds a new file locking API, the memory management adapts better to working set size changes, it improves FUSE write performance, it adds support for the LZ4 algorithm in the zram memory compressor, it allows to load 64-bit kernels from 32-bit EFI firmware, it adds support for x86 AVX-512 vector instructions; it also adds new drivers; and many other small improvements. Here's the full list of changes.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
KnightOS [github] is a third-party Operating System for Texas Instruments z80 calculators. It offers many features over the stock OS, including multitasking and a tree-based filesystem, delivered in a Unix-like environment. KnightOS is written entirely in z80 assembly, with a purpose-built toolchain. Additionally, the KnightOS kernel is standalone, and you can use it as the basis for your own powerful operating systems. Alternative for this alternative: GlassOS.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
To prevent any more of Android's past from being lost to the annals of history, we did what needed to be done. This is 20+ versions of Android, seven devices, and lots and lots of screenshots cobbled together in one space. This is The History of Android, from the very first public builds to the newest version of KitKat. Very detailed, and a fun read.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
A list of hundreds of patents that Microsoft believes entitle it to royalties over Android phones, and perhaps smartphones in general, has been published on a Chinese language website. The patents Microsoft plans to wield against Android describe a range of technologies. They include lots of technologies developed at Microsoft, as well as patents that Microsoft acquired by participating in the Rockstar Consortium, which spent $4.5 billion on patents that were auctioned off after the Nortel bankruptcy. These are the secret patents Microsoft's patent mafia uses as a club to beat other companies into paying protection money.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
I am taking the plunge and moving from an iPhone to an Android device. I've been waiting a long time for Android to get to the point that it was fast and responsive enough, with a big enough application warehouse, wide enough support, and a smooth enough experience, to support me. Android is maturing with a consistent, system-wide look-and-feel, almost every major service now has an Android app as the counterpart to its iOS-first experience, and has a bright future with wearables, home automation, and more. I certainly won't be the first person to change ecosystems entirely. Several have done it before, some looking for change or claim freedom, some aiming to save money, some because someone prompted them, some think they may be conforming by going with the ever-stylish Apple. I am doing it for this reason: for me, Android is now a better platform than iOS. Read more on this exclusive OSNews article...

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
Quantum Paper is the overarching name for a new, unified design framework intended to make experiences consistent across all platforms. According to information available to us, it represents Google's effort to both create (with Google apps) and encourage consistent, beautiful design that delights across all platforms. Quantum Paper is a hugely ambitious project, looking to unify and codify paradigms for visual, motion, and interaction design across all platforms, including web, Android, and iOS. Google I/O is going to be very, very interesting.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
HFS+ lost a total of 28 files over the course of 6 years. Most of the corrupted files are completely unreadable. The JPEGs typically decode partially, up to the point of failure. So if you're lucky, you may get most of the image except the bottom part. The raw .CR2 files usually turn out to be totally unreadable: either completely black or having a large color overlay on significant portions of the photo. Most of these shots are not so important, but a handful of them are. One of the CR2 files in particular, is a very good picture of my son when he was a baby. I printed and framed that photo, so I am glad that I did not lose the original. If you're keeping all your files and backups on HFS+ volumes, you're doing it wrong. HFS+ is a weird vestigial pre-OS X leftover that, for some reason, Apple just does not replace. Apple tends to be relentless when it comes to moving on from past code, but HFS+ just refuses to die. As John Siracusa, long-time critic of HFS+, stated way back in 2011: I would have certainly welcomed ZFS with open arms, but I was equally confident that Apple could create its own file system suited to its particular needs. That confidence remains, but the ZFS distraction may have added years to the timetable. Three years later, and still nothing, and with Yosemite also shipping with HFS+, it'll take another 1-2 years before we possibly see a new, modern, non-crappy filesystem for OS X. Decades from now, books will be written about this saga.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
This system worked fairly well. If an app changed its permission needs, you’d be notified, and could choose whether to accept the update. With the most recent Play Store update, however, users are not told about certain permission changes if they don’t result in the addition of permissions to a new group. Given the sheer breadth of permissions a group now covers, this effectively leaves Android with only 13 permissions. An application can quietly update itself in future, to grant itself access to further permissions within a group, with the user left none the wiser. Once an app is granted an individual permission within a group, that application has the ability to add any other permissions from the group in a future update, without users being notified of the change. Oh Google. Optimist view: Google I/O will bring changes to the permission system wherein the above makes sense. Pessimist view: Google is monumentally stupid. I'm not an optimist.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
Remember this? Turns out there was more to this rumour than we thought. As Steven Troughton-Smith notes (and yes, you can trust him): So... just in case there was any doubt left... iOS 8's SpringBoard has code to run two apps side-by-side. 1/4 size, 1/2 size, or 3/4 size With Apple pushing developers to use Auto Layout as hard as they can, we can pretty much assume that yes, multiwindow is coming to iOS. Note, though, that this is not a Windows 8 or Samsung or whatever feature - multiwindow is as old as the graphical user interface itself. It will be a great addition to future iOS releases, and I can't wait until Android implements multiwindow as well.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
It's a holiday in The Netherlands today, so I'm a bit late with this, but Jolla has released another Sailfish update today, and it's a big one. The headline feature of the new update is that it enables the phone's 4G support for all countries. So, if you have 4G, your Jolla phone will now use it. The hardware was obviously available from the beginning, but it was never enabled until now. Aside from 4G, this update packs a whole lot more - most importantly, it fixes a major annoyance with the Sailfish browser. The browser did not keep its tab contents in memory, so each time you switched to a tab, the page had to be reloaded. This has now been addressed, and tabs stay in memory properly. These are just two of the many, many improvements, new features, and bug fixes in this update. Us Sailfish users know where to get it.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
Over the past several years, mobile devices have greatly influenced user interfaces. That's great for handheld users but leaves those of us who rely on laptops and desktops in the lurch. Windows 8, Ubuntu Unity, and GNOME have all radically changed in ways that leave personal computer users scratching their heads. One user interface completely avoided this controversy: Xfce. This review takes a quick look at Xfce today. Who is this product for? Who should pass it by? Read more on this exclusive OSNews article...

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
This site calls itself 'the biggest free abandonware downloads collection in the universe'. No idea if that's true or not, but all I can say is that I spent a lot - a lot - of time today browsing through the incredibly extensive collection of old operating systems. From an alpha release of Windows 1.0 to NEXTSTEP, this site has it all. Great for emulators.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
Xiaomi (pronounced she-yow-mee) is one of the fastest-growing tech companies in the world. It's the sixth-largest handset maker on earth and No. 3 in China, behind Samsung Electronics and Lenovo Group, according to research firm Canalys. Xiaomi's recent growth is impressive, and its potential is even greater. In 2013, the company says, it sold 18.7 million smartphones almost entirely from its own website, bringing in $5 billion in revenue. Earlier this year, Lei set an internal goal of selling 40 million smartphones in 2014, then raised it to 60 million. In a financing round last August, venture capitalists gave Xiaomi a $10 billion valuation, about on par with 30-year-old PC maker Lenovo and Silicon Valley darlings Dropbox and Airbnb. At the same time, Xiaomi has branched out from smartphones to tablets, the large-screen HDTVs, a set-top box and home router, phone cases, and portable chargers, as well as a $16 white plush toy bunny - Mitoo, the company mascot, who wears a red-starred Chinese army hat. The technology establishment's biggest threat comes from the east.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
The new release includes new USB stack (USB4BSD), which supports USB3; updated video drivers for Intel and AMD cards (although latter are still disabled by default); binaries in /bin and /sbin are now dynamic, allowing for PAM and NSS. The HAMMER2 filesystem is also included, but not ready for general use just yet.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
There are still many rough edges in the new OS but overall I am really excited about the visual direction that Mac OS X Yosemite is taking. It demonstrates a more mature and subtle approach in adapting iOS 7 design language. No ultra thin fonts, no crazy parallax, no ridiculous icons, just subtle use of translucent materials accompanied by a bright and cheerful palette. Using the new OS feels fresher, exciting, and more modern. I am looking forward to exploring other design changes in the the new OS that I may have missed. I'm definitely pleased with the design direction Apple is taking OS X into, despite the fact that as it currently stands it's clearly still in flux. We're in beta, though, so that's just fine. The two biggest issues to me are one, that text input fields and buttons are not visually different, and two, that neither of them get any mouseover effect whatsoever - both cursor and button/input fields remain exactly the same. Something else I've noticed: is it just me, or does Apple use a different theme on-stage during a keynote than what actually ships in the beta right now? The transparency and colours pop way more during the keynote than while using the beta. Odd.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
Android's biggest weakness is the horrible upgrade situation. Where iOS and Windows Phone users are generally always running the latest version, Android users generally have to settle for whatever version the likes of Samsung and HTC bothered to release for their device. This is a horrible situation for developers and user alike, and, in my view, should be Google's number one priority. Unless, of course, you're running a custom ROM. This morning my Find 5 greeted me with an update notification, but that's normal - I get a new OmniROM OTA delta update every morning. This time, however, something was different: the version number clearly stated this update would bump my Find 5 from Android 4.4.2 to 4.4.3. As it turns out, the OmniROM team is already pushing 4.4.3 to all the devices it officially supports (52 phones and tablets). A mere three days after Google pushed 4.4.3 to AOSP. Thanks to the tireless work of our own Xplodwild, Omni has now merged the changes to Android 4.4.3, and these will be rolling out in nightly builds for the 5th June. As I write this, builds are scheduled to start in around 20 minutes or so, and will appear at our download pages once they are completed. They will also be available through Omni's inbuilt delta OTA updater, as always. This is just one of the many, many reasons you should be running a custom ROM. Aside form the fact that a proper custom ROM is lighter and cleaner than the crappy OEM ROMs, they are also more secure because they tend to be up-to-date. In addition, warranty is not an issue because, at least in the EU, rooting and custom ROMs do not void your warranty. As an aside - the fact that a single person, Xplodwild, can make sure Android 4.4.3 runs on 52 devices within a matter of days of the code becoming available is all the proof you need (in case you still needed it) that carriers and OEMs are simply incredibly incompetent at doing their job. Sure, they have to provide warranty and service so some form of delay is understandable because they require more testing, but the way they refuse to update most, if not all, of their devices in a timely manner or even at all should be a crime.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
Virtualizing OS X is a thing that can today be done very easily, with VMware and VirtualBox fully supporting it under OS X hosts. But what about virtualizing it using a bare metal hypervisor and QEMU? Under Linux? Finally I've got Mavericks fully working under QEMU (with no extra kexts(!)) and it wasn't easy. Impressive.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
Interesting and detailed review of the OnePlus One by AndroidCentral, but this paragraph stood out to me: Even with all of the right decisions made here, this isn't revolutionary hardware design. There's no two-tone camera flash, fingerprint scanner, ultra-high resolution display, waterproofing, dedicated two-stage camera key, massive camera sensor, front-facing speakers, heart rate sensor, back buttons or anything of the sort. The OnePlus One is just a phone, basically shaped like every other phone and with absolutely no design flair or features to set it apart from other devices. In my view, it's exactly this lack of "design flair and features" that sets it apart from the competition. There's no fake leather, no fake metal backplate, nu buttons on the back, no super-sized gimmicky protruding camera sensors, useless fingerprint scanners, double camera sensors, heart rate monitors, flair guns, flamethrowers, fishing poles, and god knows what else the established players shove into and onto phones these days. It's a minimalist device focused almost entirely on a smartphone's most important aspect - its display. And it's exactly this minimalism that makes it stand our from the pack.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
My love and appreciation for Palm OS is somewhat obvious around these parts, culminating in the detailed Palm OS retrospective I wrote a little over a year ago. I consider Palm OS to be the shoulders on which all subsequent mobile operating systems are built, and I believe it would do the current technology press and users a world of good if they acquainted themselves with this prescient masterpiece. That being said, with Palm OS being old and dead, the only way to experience it is to get your hands on a real device on eBay or its local equivalent in your country of residence. If you go down this route - which I strongly advise everyone to at least look into - try and go for the ultimate Palm device, the Palm T|X. It's the most advanced PDA Palm ever built, and you can pry mine from my cold, dead hands. Sadly, not everyone has the disposable income, time, will, desire, or any combination thereof, to go out and buy real hardware just to play with a dead operating system and all the hardships that come with it. Since I still want to spread the word of Palm OS, I've been looking into an alternative - namely, the Palm OS Simulator. Read more on this exclusive OSNews article...

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
Close, minimize, and maximize are now close, minimize, and full screen, eliminating the extra full-screen control and consolidating the window controls in one place. Streamlining these and other elements of the interface means you can navigate the desktop more efficiently. OS X' idea of "maximise" was "some random window resizing nobody really used anyway", so I'm glad Apple finally replaced it with something else. Too bad OS X' fullscreen view is way too disruptive for my tastes to be of any practical use.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
Apple's WWDC kicked off today, with the usual keynote address. Apple unveiled OS X 10.10 Yosemite and iOS 8 - packed with new features, but I can't detail all of them. There's a lot of catch-up going on here with the competition, but even so, they're still great features for iOS users. In fact, I would go as far as to say that iOS may provide a pretty convincing argument for a number of Android users to come back to iOS - especially combined with all the other new features. For instance, iOS is finally getting a form of Android-like inter-application communication called Extensions. The implementation details will differ, of course, but essentially, iOS is getting Android's Intents for a far more seamless multitasking-like user experience. For applications updated to support Extensions, you no longer have to jump in and out of applications; instead, one application can call up specific parts of another. Similarly, iOS will also finally allow third party keyboards for those of us who don't like the default iOS keyboard. Apple is also opening up the notification tray to third party widgets. An area where Apple is not playing catch-up but is clearly ahead of the game is a set of features that personally impressed me the most about iOS: Continuity. Essentially, using Bluetooth and proximity information, your iPad/iPhone and Mac can work together to a far greater (and easier) degree than ever before. For instance, an incoming call on your iPhone automatically pops, and can be answered, through your Mac. Working on a Keynote document on your iPad? Keynote on the Mac will notify you of it, allowing you to easily pick up where you left off on your iPad - and vice versa. There's tons of other examples, and I'm really excited about its potential. To me, this approach to bridging the gap between PC and mobile seems far more useful than Microsoft's one-operating-system-for-all approach. Coincidentally, it highlights Google's problem of not being in control of a major PC operating system. OS X 10.10 Yosemite is intriguing. It constitutes a complete visual overhaul of OS X, with a lot of blurred transparency, iOS-like visuals, and a sidebar full of widgets. Some of the language used regarding the blurred transparency and the sidebar were the exact same words used by Microsoft for Aero and the Vista sidebar, but overall, I'm really liking the new design. It's a fantastic step forward from a design that, in my view, had become quite stale and messy, to a more unified set of visuals and UI elements that, at least on the stream looked absolutely fantastic - especially in the new 'dark mode', which replaces the white with blacks. All the above (plus the huge amount of stuff I haven't mentioned) would be more than enough for a really strong keynote, but Apple had one more major trick up its sleeve - and for the developers among you, this is a big one: Apple introduced Swift, a new programming language set to replace Objective-C. Apple claims - of course - that it will be faster and easier than Objective-C, but we'll need proper hands-on from developers to substantiate those claims. It's a huge deal, though: Apple essentially just introduced the way forward for its developers, after twenty years of Objective-C. And nobody saw it coming. All in all, this keynote was Apple at its very best, in optima forma, showing a set of improvements, new features, and new products that really constitute major steps forward for Apple's ecosystem. iOS still can't grab my attention in any meaningful way (too little, too late), but OS X 10.10 is shaping up to be a fantastic (free!) update, and I can't wait to pull my 2012 iMac out of storage and try it out. That being said - all the amazing stuff Apple showed today made one distinct part of the keynote stand out like a bright yellow Lumia in a unitary sea of grey iPhones: the competition bashing. The bashing has reached such a low point this year that Tim Cook had to resort to flat-out lying to smear Android. Not only did Cook lie about Android version adoption rates, he also trotted out the baseless scaremongering from anti-virus peddlers about malware writes focusing on Android. Sure, those people target Android - but Android is so secure that despite all this effort from malware makers, their results are absolutely laughable. With such an incredibly strong showing, the bashing stood out more than usual, especially because many of the features and improvements demonstrated by Apple today consist of things the competition has been enjoying for years. All this bashing detracted from the amazing work done by Apple's engineers, and simply wasn't necessary. Strong showing marred by unnecessary pettiness.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
Finally. Well, it looks like Samsung finally managed to do what it has been trying to do for a painfully long time - the Korean manufacturer has made its first Tizen-powered phone official. Called the Samsung Z, the phone features a 4.8-inch Super AMOLED display of 1280x720 resolution and is powered a quad-core 2.3GHz processor (most like a Snapdragon 800), and runs on version 2.2.1 of Tizen. The Z comes with a new look that should come as a breath of fresh air for those who have gotten bored of Samsung's design language on Android devices (let's face it, who hasn't?), though the overall design seems to be along the same lines as the company's previous efforts. I want one of these, like, right now. Not only is it an alternative operating system backed by a huge player, it's also very likely to become a rarity a few years down the line. A great and fascinating addition to my collection.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
iTnews points to a study performed by Joseph J. Mueller and Timothy D. Syrett of IP firm WilmerHale, and Ann Armstrong of Intel, which concludes that for an average $400 smartphone (no subsidies), patent royalty costs may be higher than component costs. Indeed, the royalty data shows that the potential royalties demands on a smartphone could equal or even exceed the cost of the device's components. To be sure, for the reasons described above, many of the so-called "headline" rates on which these royalty figures are based may not withstand negotiation or litigation, but they have nonetheless been sought (and received) from some licensees. With the addition of royalties for the components/technologies for which we did not have sufficient data to include royalty figures, the total potential royalties would increase. Without access to the actual royalty figures paid by smartphone suppliers it is impossible to know for certain their magnitude. But our research demonstrates that they are likely significant. Indeed, the available data suggest that the smartphone royalty stack may be one important reason why selling smartphones is currently a profitable endeavor for only a small number of suppliers. Let me repeat that last line for you - savour it and let it sink in. Indeed, the available data suggest that the smartphone royalty stack may be one important reason why selling smartphones is currently a profitable endeavor for only a small number of suppliers. Bingo. This is exactly why the patent system will never change: this construction benefits the large players immensely. Smaller players will have a hard time keeping up with the patent costs, since they most likely won't have much to barter with patent-wise. The result is less competition for established players.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
There were two striking pieces of business news this week from America's leading technology brands. On the one hand, Google unveiled a prototype of an autonomous car that, if it can be made to work at scale, promises to end mass automobile ownership while drastically reducing car wreck fatalities and auto-related pollution. Meanwhile, Apple bought a company that makes high-end headphones. Which is to say that Apple's playing checkers while Google plays chess. For better or worse, this is exactly why many people seem to hold Google in higher regard than they do Apple. Both Apple and Google are rich and wealthy beyond average-person-measure. Now, which company will be liked more: the one that uses said wealth to develop crazy may-or-may -not-work technologies that can change the world at a massively substantial scale, or the one that stuffs $150 billion in shady bank accounts to avoid having to pay taxes? The more wealth you hoard, the less sympathetic people will be towards you. Unless, of course, you use that wealth in a very public way.

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