posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
The Verge has published a long excerpt from the upcoming book The One Device: The secret history of the iPhone by Motherboard editor Brian Merchant, and there's quite a few interesting details in there. What stands out if you take it all in is that unlike what many seem to think - and unlike the romanticised image Apple tries to maintain - Apple didn't take some singular, targeted, focused stride to "invent" the iPhone. For example, Phil Schiller wanted a hardware keyboard, and remained stubborn in his conviction: The iPod phone was losing support. The executives debated which project to pursue, but Phil Schiller, Apple's head of marketing, had an answer: Neither. He wanted a keyboard with hard buttons. The BlackBerry was arguably the first hit smartphone. It had an email client and a tiny hard keyboard. After everyone else, including Fadell, started to agree that multitouch was the way forward, Schiller became the lone holdout. He "just sat there with his sword out every time, going, 'No, we've got to have a hard keyboard. No. Hard keyboard.' And he wouldn't listen to reason as all of us were like, 'No, this works now, Phil.' And he'd say, 'You gotta have a hard keyboard!'" Fadell says. In fact, Jobs was incredibly insecure about whether Apple should even pursue a phone at all. Privately, Jobs had other reservations. One former Apple executive who had daily meetings with Jobs told me that the carrier issue wasn't his biggest hang-up. He was concerned with a lack of focus in the company, and he "wasn't convinced that smartphones were going to be for anyone but the 'pocket protector crowd,' as we used to call them." The iPhone that would eventually change the industry wasn't a clear vision in Steve Jobs' mind's eye - no, it was the result of hundreds of incredibly smart engineers trying out thousands of different ideas and solutions, and endless arguing with other engineers and management - up to and including Jobs himself - to try and convince them their particular idea was the best one. The iPhone is the result of thousands of little and big arguments, small and huge decisions, eventually leading to one of the most transformative devices in computing history. Jobs did not invent the iPhone. Apple's management didn't invent the iPhone. The iPhone was invented by hundreds of relatively nameless engineers, who poured years of their lives into it. And a hundred years from now, nobody will remember their names.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
You'd expect with Microsoft adding x86 emulation to its upcoming ARM-based windows 10 PCs all the possible licensing issues would be sorted. As ubiquitous as x86 is, it's easy to forget it's still a patent minefield guarded by Intel. And surprise, surprise, with the chipmaker under pressure from AMD and ARM, it felt the need to make that very, very clear. Dangling at the end of a celebratory PR blog post about 40 years of x86, Intel writes: However, there have been reports that some companies may try to emulate Intel's proprietary x86 ISA without Intel's authorization. Emulation is not a new technology, and Transmeta was notably the last company to claim to have produced a compatible x86 processor using emulation ("code morphing") techniques. Intel enforced patents relating to SIMD instruction set enhancements against Transmeta's x86 implementation even though it used emulation. In any event, Transmeta was not commercially successful, and it exited the microprocessor business 10 years ago. Only time will tell if new attempts to emulate Intel's x86 ISA will meet a different fate. Intel welcomes lawful competition, and we are confident that Intel's microprocessors, which have been specifically optimized to implement Intel's x86 ISA for almost four decades, will deliver amazing experiences, consistency across applications, and a full breadth of consumer offerings, full manageability and IT integration for the enterprise. However, we do not welcome unlawful infringement of our patents, and we fully expect other companies to continue to respect Intel's intellectual property rights. Strong intellectual property protections make it possible for Intel to continue to invest the enormous resources required to advance Intel's dynamic x86 ISA, and Intel will maintain its vigilance to protect its innovations and investments. I'm assuming Microsoft has all this stuff licensed nice and proper, but it's interesting that Intel felt the need to emphasize this as strongly as they do here. Which companies is Intel referring to here? Maybe Apple?

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
It's one of many, for sure, but as far as I'm concerned, we can never have enough of them: experimental hobby operating systems. GopherOS - no, not what you think - is an experimental operating system written in Go, licensed under the MIT license. It's all very small and early, but possibly interesting to some of you.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
At WWDC, Apple reported that they've paid out $70 billion to developers, with 30% of that ($21 billion!) in the last year. That's a huge spike, and surprising to me because it didn't seem like my friends and I were spending more on apps last year. But that's anecdotal, so I wondered: where are these revenues coming from? I opened App Store to browse the top grossing apps. The controlled, walled garden at work.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
MacStories points to a change in the App Store guidelines, which now state that: Apps designed to teach, develop, or test executable code may, in limited circumstances, download code provided that such code is not used for other purposes. Such apps must make the source code provided by the Application completely viewable and editable by the user. How generous. On a related note, the first reviews of the new iPad Pro 10.5" are hitting the web, and it looks like the best tablet got even better. I have to admit - combined with iOS 11's many changes to make the iPad feel more like a real computer, I'm definitely intrigued.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
Source for an experimental 64-bit Plan 9 kernel, and supporting software. It features a revised memory-management system, MCS spin locks, and other changes to system data structures to support full 64-bit addressing. Changes to the scheduler are also planned, to improve support for multicore. Currently it supports AMD64 (x86-64, Intel 64), although parts have run on other platforms.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
Drag and Drop has arrived in iOS 11! Learn the fundamentals behind the new iOS Drag and Drop - architecture and APIs. This session will go over the design goals, architecture and key components of the API to allow you to quickly adopt Drag and Drop in your App. Drag and drop seems like a boring feature, but on iOS 11 and the iPad, it's actually quite interesting and implemented in a novel way. This WWDC session starts with a demo, showing off how you can use multiple fingers to drag multiple things, combine different dragged objects, while still being able to interact with other touch UI elements. Sadly, Apple decided to cripple drag and drop on the iPhone, restricting it to only being able to drag and drop within a single application.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
A small comment from Head of Xbox Phil Spencer was the final bit of news necessary to convince me Microsoft's Project Scorpio will be named Xbox 10 S, and it will serve as a Windows 10 gaming PC built for the living room. I know, that's a big claim - and I don't encourage anyone to gamble on it. But ahead of Microsoft's E3 event on Sunday, I'd like to collect the evidence that Microsoft is eager to put a computer beneath your television. If true, this could be a great move by Microsoft. Imagine the sales pitch to, say, older high school students and first-year college students: a games console that also servers as a full Windows PC. That's not a bad package. On a related note - Microsoft's latest preview build for the Fall Creators Update contains a lot of changes for Windows 10.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
CD Projekt Red, the company behind the popular Witcher series of videogames, put out a statement earlier today that individuals have stolen internal documents, and threaten to release them online if ransom isn't paid. A demand for ransom has been made, saying that should we not comply, the files will be released to the general public. We will not be giving in to the demands of the individual or individuals that have contacted us, which might eventually lead to the files being published online. The appropriate legal authorities will be informed about the situation. I haven't before seen a company being this open about something like this. It seems like a good strategy - with this statement, they're basically preemptively making the documents rather valueless. Pretty much the entire gaming community has very warm feelings towards CDPR - and rightfully so - so the individuals in question are left with empty hands here. Clever.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
Microsoft's security team has come across a malware family that uses Intel's Active Management Technology (AMT) Serial-over-LAN (SOL) interface as a file transfer tool. Because of the way the Intel AMT SOL technology works, SOL traffic bypasses the local computer's networking stack, so local firewalls or security products won't be able to detect or block the malware while it's exfiltrating data from infected hosts.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
Today we're rolling out Developer Preview 3 with the final Android O APIs, the latest system images, and an update to Android Studio to help you get ready for the consumer release later in the summer. Watch for one more preview update coming in July that will bring you the near-final system images.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
Chinese authorities say they have uncovered a massive underground operation run by Apple employees selling computer and phone users' personal data. Twenty-two people have been detained on suspicion of infringing individuals' privacy and illegally obtaining their digital personal information, according to a statement Wednesday from local police in southern Zhejiang province. Of the 22 suspects, 20 were Apple employees who allegedly used the company's internal computer system to gather users' names, phone numbers, Apple IDs, and other data, which they sold as part of a scam worth more than 50 million yuan (US$7.36 million). Privacy isn't about words, it's about actions. Read into that what you will.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
I'm not asking for an iPhone with replaceable RAM. I understand the value of a sleek, highly integrated, highly custom product. But if the most important and expensive part of the desktop computer you're looking to buy is the GPU, it's insane to choose one that's soldered to the motherboard. Absolutely.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
Almost immediately, fans asked how this happened. Why was Andromeda so much worse than its predecessors? How could the revered RPG studio release such an underwhelming game? And, even if the problems were a little exaggerated by the internet's strange passion for hating BioWare, how could Andromeda ship with so many animation issues? I've spent the past three months investigating the answers to those questions. From conversations with nearly a dozen people who worked on Mass Effect: Andromeda, all of whom spoke under condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to talk about the game, a consistent picture has emerged. The development of Andromeda was turbulent and troubled, marred by a director change, multiple major re-scopes, an understaffed animation team, technological challenges, communication issues, politics, a compressed timeline, and brutal crunch. Many games share some of these problems, but to those who worked on it, Andromeda felt unusually difficult. This was a game with ambitious goals but limited resources, and in some ways, it's miraculous that BioWare shipped it at all. (EA and BioWare declined to comment for this article.) Mass Effect: Andromeda was in development for five years, but by most accounts, BioWare built the bulk of the game in less than 18 months. This is the story of what happened. This is a great read, even if you don't care much about games in general or Mass Effect in particular. It's a cautionary tale. BioWare is one the greatest game studios of all time, boasting a long list of genre-defining games that people will continue to enjoy for decades to come. I never bought into the whole "EA ruined BioWare" nonsense, but with a story like this under my belt - which I almost found a little emotional to read - it becomes harder and harder to discard the negative influence EA has over this great studio. I enjoyed Mass Effect: Andromeda, and 100%-ed the game despite its uneven quality, and it sports some great moments and by far the best combat system of the entire series, but you'd have to be blind to not see the disjointed state of the game, with some aspects - like the aforementioned combat system - feeling fully realised and polished, while other aspects were subpar not just for BioWare standards, but for gaming standards in general - such as the story, some of the characters, and, of course, the animations. I am grateful to each and every writer, animator, designer, and programmer who, according to the reports in the article, were driven far, far beyond breaking point, for Andromeda. BioWare and its people deserve a better master - or better yet, no master at all - and above all, the freedom to make their own choices. Most likely in vain, I hope EA learns from Andromeda.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
This article has been in my to read list for a few days now, but due to a lack of time I haven't been able to finish it yet. There's a lot of information in the article about the development of Windows Vista, and even though I haven't finished it yet I can guarantee you it's worth the read. Mauro A. Meloni submitted a link to the article, accompanied by the following note: It is quite long, but I've found it really interesting. It is a view of the old Microsoft, with its idiocyncracies and good and bad points, as seen from the inside. I understand that Vista set the ground for the better Win7, but personally, my experience with the former was worse than awful. Sometimes a simple file copy operation of a few kb could take minutes. The real-time AV scans delayed every icon refresh, and each time I had to scan for Windows Updates, it would take a whole afternoon... Performance-wise, it was deplorable. My experience with Vista wasn't all that different, but especially with the powers of hindsight it's hard to discount just how important Vista has been for Microsoft. It was all part of Microsoft's massive cleanup effort in the Windows codebase, the fruits of which the company is still picking today, and will be picking for a long, long time to come. Many other a company would've been forced to write a completely new operating system, but Microsoft actually managed to clean up such a complex codebase. The cleanup of the Windows codebase might very well be one of the most impressive technical achievements in Microsoft's history, and Vista is a hugely important part of that.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
We've already covered the most interesting announcements Apple made last night, so consider this item a grab bag of other things the company announced. First, a new iPad Pro with thinner bezels housing a 10.5" display, 120Hz refresh rate, better pen tracking, and, of course, eventually it'll get iOS 11 with a lot of iPad-specific improvements. Apple also entered the market for speakers-you-can-talk-to with the HomePod, which is exactly what it sounds like: Siri in a can with a bunch of speakers. None of these products - the Echo, the Google Home, or this one - are available in The Netherlands, so I have no idea how useful they actually are. I don't quite understand what a speaker which will be invariably worse than your hi-fi system has to offer over your smartphone and a ChromeCast or ChromeCast Audio, especially since you can't take the can with you. Maybe I'm just not getting it. Then there's watchOS 4: Apple has announced new features for watchOS 4, including major updates coming to Workouts, Activity, Music, all-new watch faces, and "GymKit," which provides a seamless connection between Apple Watch and gym equipment. Combined with yesterday's items, this covers pretty much all of the stuff Apple announced last night. A lot of cool new features and products to look forward to for Apple users.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
macOS High Sierra will deliver new video and graphics technologies that will lay the groundwork for even more improvements to macOS down the line, according to Apple. The big additions in High Sierra include Apple File System (APFS), support for High-Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC), and an all-new version of Metal - simply called Metal 2 - which will allow Apple's advanced graphics tech to power even more Mac apps, including machine learning and VR-based content. Apple also mentioned that macOS' window manager will run on Metal 2. As always, be sure to take a peek at Apple's official High Sierra page.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
During Apple's WWDC keynote, the company updated both its iMac and MacBook lineup with 7th generation Kaby Lake processors, better GPUs, better displays, and so on - good, solid speed bumps all around. Nothing to get too excited about, but Apple has been inconsistent with keeping up with the industry, so this is a good step. Much more exciting is that Apple also announced an upcoming iMac Pro - an iMac with incredibly specifications for its body size - Xeon processors, Radeon Pro Vega GPUs, all-flash storage, 5K displays, u to 128GB RAM. The 27-inch iMac Pro includes a Retina 5K display, up to 18-core Xeon processors, and up to 22 Teraflops of graphics computation achievable on the high-end configurations. The iMac Pro also marks the first time than a desktop Mac will come in Space Gray, including the iMac Pro's Magic Keyboard, Magic Trackpad 2, and Magic Mouse. As someone who has a thing for workstations - whether from Apple, Dell, HP - I can say I am thoroughly impressed with the iMac Pro. Sure, it's not a workstation in the traditional sense in that it is not upgradable and has a built-in display, but if you're working in video, audio, animation, and so on, and are in Apple's ecosystem - this is a seriously good machine. The base price is $5000 for the base 8-core Xeon with 32GB of RAM, Radeon Pro Vega 56 with 8GB of HBM2 memory, and a 5K display - which may sound like a lot, but for such a workstation-class machine combined with a display like that, it's actually a pretty good price (a similarly-specced HP Z workstation, for instance, will probably be similarly priced, but won't come with a 5K display). The iMac Pro will be available in December of this year, and it's good to see Apple pre-announce such professional products instead of keeping them under wraps until the last minute. Professional users need roadmaps for planning purposes, and it's beginning to look like Apple is accepting that.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
Apple is calling iOS 11 its biggest software release ever for the iPad, thanks to the myriad iPad features it includes, like a new dock that supports improved multitasking, a Files app for better managing files, improved Apple Pencil support, a new App Switcher, and system-wide drag and drop. iOS 11 also includes many features for both the iPhone and the iPad. There's an incredible ARKit API that's going to let developers build all kinds of new augmented reality apps, and there's also a CoreML machine learning API that's going to allow apps to become a whole lot smarter. Peer-to-peer Apple Pay payments are being introduced, Messages is gaining a new App Drawer that makes it easier to access apps and stickers, a Do Not Disturb feature that mutes notifications will make it easier for drivers to stay focused on the road, and Siri, Photos, and the Camera app are gaining huge improvements. There's a ton of great stuff coming once iOS 11 is released, and it truly looks like the iPad-focused release people have been asking for. Be sure to take a peek at Apple's official iOS 11 page, as it details some of the prime new features.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
The MaXX Interactive Desktop a.k.a. The MaXX Desktop is the continuation of the 5dwm.org implementation released many years back. So don't be mistaken, there is only one implementation of the SGI Desktop on Linux. Our goal is to bring to the masses this great user experience which focus on performance, stability and productivity. The MaXX Desktop is available in two versions, the free Community Edition (CE) which provides basic SGI Desktop experience and the commercially available Professional Edition (PE) that comes with support, CPU and GPU specific optimizations and a full SGI Desktop experience. The MaXX Desktop PE is excellent for SGI customers using both IRIX and Linux platforms or for power users using pro applications. The first release was released a few days ago. And yes, I used the SGI database category for this news item. Try and stop me.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
Here's a quick recap before we dive in. CShell is Microsoft's new Windows Shell that will eventually replace the existing Windows Shell in future releases of Windows 10. It's an adaptable shell that can scale in real time, adapting to different screen sizes and orientations on the fly. CShell is a shell modularized into sub-components, which can transition between those components when required, making for a far more flexible user experience on devices that have multiple form factors. The actual Windows Explorer shell is one of the last high-profile parts of Windows that's still mostly Win32. This CShell is supposed to be its replacement.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
With the new version 17.05, the Genode project moves forward to the goal of becoming more attractive and approachable to a wider audience. On the one hand, the release promises to be a sustainable basis for longer-term projects. With a modern tool chain based on GCC 6.3, Qt 5.8, VirtualBox 5.2.11, and the framework's finished API modernization, the foreseeable future will be free of disruptions for users. On the other hand, Genode introduced a new approach and tooling for package management to relieve users from low-level technicalities. Modern operating systems are unthinkable without a package-management solution for installing and updating software. Until now, however, Genode's work flows were primarily geared towards appliance-like systems that come in the shape of system images. Even though the Genode developers managed to build a day-to-day usable OS (called "Turmvilla") for their own use on that basis, there is a natural limit of how scalable such systems can be. Even for the developers, installing and updating such a system is a burden. Instead up building and installing a new system image on each update, users universally expect to install software from ready-to-use packages, and to update and configure the system in parts instead of a whole. The discussion of suitable package-management approaches for Genode reaches several years back. The first step in this direction were custom tools for managing and integrating 3rd-party source code with the framework. But there was no notion of pre-built and easy-to-install packages, nor even a tangible idea of what a package in the context of Genode should represent. During a long period of experimentation, the developers encountered and fell in love with the Nix package manager. This encounter was followed by porting work, mind-bending architectural discussions, and a series of prototype scenarios. However, while those prototypes were technically sophisticated and interesting playgrounds, they were also complicated. A real-world solution remained cloudy. At one time, it became clear that the universal notions of "software packages" and the role of a package manager made things more complicated than they should be. After all, Nix is designed for Unix-like systems with its existing ecosystem of libraries, build tools, conventions, and methodologies. In contrast, Genode opens up unique opportunities for simplification thanks to its breath of scope that covers the entire software stack including the build system, tool chain, the ABI and API design, the inter-component protocols, the dynamic linker, the system configuration, and the execution runtime. By taking a step back and soul-searching for the actual problem to solve, a strikingly simple new approach emerged. It is undeniably inspired by the virtues of Nix. But it leverages Genode in ways that wouldn't be possible with a ported version of Nix. For example, it facilitates Genode's notion of library ABIs to largely decouple libraries from applications and thereby completely eliminates transitive build-time dependencies. Or as another example, by introducing sensible categories of packaged content, the need for a package description language disappeared. Genode's release 17.05 contains the new packaging tools. Even though they are still labeled as experimental, the release comes with several examples of modest system scenarios based on them. Other prominent news are a feature-complete version of VirtualBox 5 for the NOVA microkernel, the update of Qt to version 5.8, added support for the Nim programming language, a new tool chain based on GCC 6.3 including Ada support, new tools for monitoring network traffic and CPU load, greatly enhanced flexibility of the init component, and a brand new timeout API. All these topics are covered in detail by the release documentation.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
Chrome has always focused on giving users the best possible experience browsing the web. For example, Chrome, like other browsers, prevents pop-ups in new tabs based on the fact that they are annoying. Today, we have an even better understanding of the types of experiences that bother users when it comes to unwanted advertising. New public, consumer-driven research done by the Coalition for Better Ads in creating the Better Ads Standards outlines a number of these experiences, such as full-page ad interstitials, ads that unexpectedly play sound, and flashing ads. In dialog with the Coalition and other industry groups, we plan to have Chrome stop showing ads (including those owned or served by Google) on websites that are not compliant with the Better Ads Standards starting in early 2018. Interesting that this will also block Google's ads. I'll still feel more comfortable with third party blockers, though.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
I wonder if these rugged aesthetics, now commonplace in cutting-edge websites, can work at scale - in mobile apps used by +1b people. Instagram's new UI paved the way: can this effort be replicated in other categories (e.g. gaming)? Is brutalism a fad or the future of app design? Would it make apps more usable, easy-to-use and delightful? To end with, would it generate more growth? Conversions experts sometimes suggest that more text equals more engagement - what if we push this idea to the extreme? There's something unsettling about these brutalist redesigns by Pierre Buttin - but I don't outright hate them. There's something very functional about them.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
At today's press conference, AMD has confirmed that the 16 core processor will for most purposes be half of an Epyc processor. This means that the two die MCM chip will feature 4 DDR4 channels and a whopping 64 lanes of PCIe, with all 64 lanes being enabled for all ThreadRipper SKUs. This will be broken up into 60+4: 60 lanes directly from the CPU for feeding PCIe and M.2 slots, and then another 4 lanes going to the chipset (with an undisclosed number of lanes then coming off of it) to drive basic I/O, USB, and other features. AMD seems to be particularly relishing the point on PCIe lanes in light of the yesterday's Intel HEDT announcement, which maxes out at 44 lanes and no chip below $1000 actually has all of them enabled. All this competition.

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