posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
Ikea recently launched their Trådfri smart lighting platform in the US. The idea of Ikea plus internet security together at last seems like a pretty terrible one, but having taken a look it's surprisingly competent. Hardware-wise, the device is pretty minimal - it seems to be based on the Cypress WICED IoT platform, with 100MBit ethernet and a Silicon Labs Zigbee chipset. It's running the Express Logic ThreadX RTOS, has no running services on any TCP ports and appears to listen on two single UDP ports. As IoT devices go, it's pleasingly minimal. It's always nice to be pleasantly surprised when it comes to non-IT companies and IT security.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
As we learned this week, the 2013 trash can Mac Pro is going to... Well... The trash can. Apple has promised a new "modular" Mac Pro for sometime after 2017. In the light of this news, I thought it would be interesting to look back a model, to the "cheese grater" Mac Pros Apple sold from 2006 until 2013. The cheesegrater is a truly iconic Mac. I love it. On a related note, here's some interesting tidbits and nuggets I've picked up regarding the new Mac Pro from people and sources who know their stuff. The Mac Pro was in limbo inside Apple. The decision to go ahead and develop a modular Mac Pro replacement seems to have been made only in recent months, with development starting only a few weeks ago, which makes it clear why Apple said it won't ship this year. I have no idea how long it takes to develop a new computer like a Mac Pro, but I think we can expect the new Mac Pro late 2018 at the earliest, but most likely it won't be until early 2019 before it ships. What made Apple do a 180? Well, after the announcement of the new MacBook Pro with Touch Bar, orders for refurbished "old" MacBook Pros supposedly went through the roof, and after the initial batch of reviews came out, they shot up even higher. This response to the new MacBook Pro with Touch Bar took Apple completely by surprise. Combined with the problems surrounding the LG UltraFine 5K display and the constant negativity from professional Apple users, the company decided to double down on professional users. As Apple announced, we'll be getting a new Mac Pro and an iMac Pro as a result. In addition, Apple is said to be exploring additional Retina MacBook Pro models without the Touch Bar, and other pro-oriented features, such as hooking an iPad Pro up to a Mac to use it as a Cintiq-like device. All in all, there is definitely excitement in the air regarding professional Mac use, and to be honest - that's been a while. Personally, I'm still very cautious, because in the end, all we got yesterday was a more official version of Tim Cook's endless "we've got great stuff in the pipeline, trust us!" meme that's been going on for a few years now. Until we get it - and that may still be 2 years away - the new Mac Pro is vapourware. Read more on this exclusive OSNews article...

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
The Basic level gathers a limited set of information that is critical for understanding the device and its configuration including: basic device information, quality-related information, app compatibility, and Windows Store. When the level is set to Basic, it also includes the Security level information. The Basic level helps to identify problems that can occur on a particular device hardware or software configuration. For example, it can help determine if crashes are more frequent on devices with a specific amount of memory or that are running a particular driver version. This helps Microsoft fix operating system or app problems. Use this article to learn about diagnostic events, grouped by event area, and the fields within each event. A brief description is provided for each field. Every event generated includes common data, which collects device data. The long, long, long list of data Microsoft gathers when Windows 10's data collection is set to 'basic'. Some... Light reading as the Windows 10 Creator's Update, which is now available, installs (you can also wait until 11 April to get it through Windows Update).

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
Mark Shuttleworth, dropping a bombshell on a boring Wednesday: We are wrapping up an excellent quarter and an excellent year for the company, with performance in many teams and products that we can be proud of. As we head into the new fiscal year, it's appropriate to reassess each of our initiatives. I'm writing to let you know that we will end our investment in Unity8, the phone and convergence shell. We will shift our default Ubuntu desktop back to GNOME for Ubuntu 18.04 LTS. [...] I took the view that, if convergence was the future and we could deliver it as free software, that would be widely appreciated both in the free software community and in the technology industry, where there is substantial frustration with the existing, closed, alternatives available to manufacturers. I was wrong on both counts. In the community, our efforts were seen fragmentation not innovation. And industry has not rallied to the possibility, instead taking a 'better the devil you know' approach to those form factors, or investing in home-grown platforms. What the Unity8 team has delivered so far is beautiful, usable and solid, but I respect that markets, and community, ultimately decide which products grow and which disappear. That just happened.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
Once upon a time, a friend of mine accidentally took over thousands of computers. He had found a vulnerability in a piece of software and started playing with it. In the process, he figured out how to get total administration access over a network. He put it in a script, and ran it to see what would happen, then went to bed for about four hours. Next morning on the way to work he checked on it, and discovered he was now lord and master of about 50,000 computers. After nearly vomiting in fear he killed the whole thing and deleted all the files associated with it. In the end he said he threw the hard drive into a bonfire. I can't tell you who he is because he doesn't want to go to Federal prison, which is what could have happened if he'd told anyone that could do anything about the bug he'd found. Did that bug get fixed? Probably eventually, but not by my friend. This story isn't extraordinary at all. Spend much time in the hacker and security scene, you'll hear stories like this and worse. It's hard to explain to regular people how much technology barely works, how much the infrastructure of our lives is held together by the IT equivalent of baling wire. Computers, and computing, are broken. It's from 2014, but drop everything you're doing right now and read this. Go on. Don't put it off. Read it.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
But the operating system is riddled with serious security vulnerabilities that make it easy for a hacker to take control of Tizen-powered devices, according to Israeli researcher Amihai Neiderman. "It may be the worst code I've ever seen," he told Motherboard in advance of a talk about his research that he is scheduled to deliver at Kaspersky Lab's Security Analyst Summit on the island of St. Maarten on Monday. "Everything you can do wrong there, they do it. You can see that nobody with any understanding of security looked at this code or wrote it. It's like taking an undergraduate and letting him program your software." Raise your hand if you're surprised.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
Every Apple user - professional users specifically - has known for a long time the situation with Apple's most powerful Mac, the Mac Pro, had become entirely untenable. After years of utter silence on the matter, the company has finally opened up today. John Gruber, after a meeting with several Apple executive and three other members of the press: Apple is currently hard at work on a "completely rethought" Mac Pro, with a modular design that can accommodate high-end CPUs and big honking hot-running GPUs, and which should make it easier for Apple to update with new components on a regular basis. They're also working on Apple-branded pro displays to go with them. I also have not-so-great news: These next-gen Mac Pros and pro displays "will not ship this year". (I hope that means "next year", but all Apple said was "not this year".) In the meantime, Apple is today releasing meager speed-bump updates to the existing Mac Pros. The $2999 model goes from 4 Xeon CPU cores to 6, and from dual AMD G300 GPUs to dual G500 GPUs. The $3999 model goes from 6 CPU cores to 8, and from dual D500 GPUs to dual D800 GPUs. Nothing else is changing, including the ports. No USB-C, no Thunderbolt 3 (and so no support for the LG UltraFine 5K display). During the meeting, Apple almost-but-not-quite flat-out apologised for the silence and complete lack of updates over the past three years, almost calling the current Mac Pro a mistake, a miscalculation. Apple's Phil Schiller: We're not going to get into exactly what stage we're in, just that we told the team to take the time to do something really great. To do something that can be supported for a long time with customers with updates and upgrades throughout the years. We'll take the time it takes to do that. The current Mac Pro, as we've said a few times, was constrained thermally and it restricted our ability to upgrade it. And for that, we're sorry to disappoint customers who wanted that, and we've asked the team to go and re-architect and design something great for the future that those Mac Pro customers who want more expandability, more upgradability in the future. It'll meet more of those needs. I can't stress how out-of-character this almost-apology and peek into the future Mac Pro roadmap really are. After more than three years of silence, Apple didn't really have much of a choice, especially now that we know a successor to the Mac Pro is at least a year away. Be sure to read Gruber's entire article - it's well worth it.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
The research arm of StatCounter, the independent web analytics company, finds that in March, Android topped the worldwide OS internet usage market share with 37.93%, which puts it marginally ahead of Windows  (37.91%) for the first time. "This is a milestone in technology history and the end of an era," commented Aodhan Cullen, CEO, StatCounter, "It marks the end of Microsoft's leadership worldwide of the OS market which it has held since the 1980s. It also represents a major breakthrough for Android which held just 2.4% of global internet usage share only five years ago." Quite a fast rise to power. This means Linux (read this!) now dominates everything from HPC down to mobile and embedded. Who knew that while everyone was off making jokes about "the year of desktop Linux", Linus' little kernel became the motor under the hood of the mobile computing revolution. The first computer for vast swaths of people all over the world runs something not from Microsoft or Apple - but from a huge, worldwide community of developers. And that's kind of nice.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
In what shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone who's been paying attention to Apple these past 10-15 years, the company is developing its own graphics chips. The news was revealed in a quite venomous statement from Imagination Technologies, the company whose chips Apple is using right now. From the statement: Apple has used Imagination's technology and intellectual property for many years. It has formed the basis of Graphics Processor Units ("GPUs") in Apple's phones, tablets, iPods, TVs and watches. Apple has asserted that it has been working on a separate, independent graphics design in order to control its products and will be reducing its future reliance on Imagination's technology. As a result of the news, Imagination's shares fell 70 percent, because Apple is by far Imagination's largest customer, accounting for about half of its revenue. Imagination's statement then proceeds to almost but not quite (yet) threaten Apple with patent litigation. Apple has not presented any evidence to substantiate its assertion that it will no longer require Imagination’s technology, without violating Imagination's patents, intellectual property and confidential information. This evidence has been requested by Imagination but Apple has declined to provide it. Further, Imagination believes that it would be extremely challenging to design a brand new GPU architecture from basics without infringing its intellectual property rights, accordingly Imagination does not accept Apple's assertions. Of note here is that in the past 18 months or so, various high-level Imagination employees joined Apple.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
Fuchsia is a new operating system being built more or less from scratch at Google. The news of the development of Fuchsia made a splash on technology news sites in August 2016, although many details about it are still a mystery. It is an open-source project; development and documentation work is still very much ongoing. Despite the open-source nature of the project, its actual purpose has not yet been revealed by Google. From piecing together information from the online documentation and source code, we can surmise that Fuchsia is a complete operating system for PCs, tablets, and high-end phones. The source to Fuchsia and all of its components is available to download at its source repository. If you enjoy poking around experimental operating systems, exploring the innards of this one will be fun. Fuchsia consists of a kernel plus user-space components on top that provide libraries and utilities. There are a number of subprojects under the Fuchsia umbrella in the source repository, mainly libraries and toolkits to help create applications. Fuchsia is mostly licensed under a 3-clause BSD license, but the kernel is based on another project called LK (Little Kernel) that is MIT-licensed, so the licensing for the kernel is a mix. Third-party software included in Fuchsia is licensed according to its respective open-source license. Great overview of what Fuchsia is and what it consists of. Google is really experimenting with some different approaches here. Definitely worth a read - before you comment. At this point, it's really hard to fathom what Fuchisa's part is in Google's strategy, if at has one at all. It's too big, and involves far too many notable people, to 'just' be a research project, but at the same time, they're literally doing everything from scratch with some radically different ideas here and there, which makes it unlikely that we're going to see it replace Android or whatever any time soon. My guess? Google is clearly having issues with Android in that it doesn't control the whole stack, causing Google to be at the whim of chip makers to maintain support for the Linux kernel, leading to the massive problems with Android updates we all know and hate. Fuchsia seems to be Google's response to these problems. I'm not saying Google will replace Android with Fuchsia - I'm saying Fuchsia is the answer to thought experiment "if we could start over, what would we do differently?"

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
QNX Software Development Platform (SDP 7.0) includes the next generation 64-bit QNX Neutrino RTOS and the award-winning QNX Momentics Tool Suite. It provides a comprehensive, multi-level, policy-driven security model incorporating best-in-class security technologies from BlackBerry, which help guard against system malfunctions, malware and cyber security breaches. Building on existing certifications including ISO 26262, IEC 61508 and IEC 62304, QNX SDP 7.0 also brings a proven safety pedigree. Various features, including: microkernel architecture, file encryption, adaptive time partitioning, and high availability framework, make QNX SDP 7.0 the most advanced and secure embedded OS developed for use in all safety and mission critical applications. That's an incredible amount of marketing speak for such a short paragraph, and sadly, the official press release isn't much better. QNX let go of what small enthusiast support among hobbyists it had almost a decade ago, and at this point it's so buzzworded up I barely recognise it anymore. This was a long, long time ago.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
JEDEC DDR5 memory will offer improved performance with greater power efficiency as compared to previous generation DRAM technologies. As planned, DDR5 will provide double the bandwidth and density over DDR4, along with delivering improved channel efficiency. These enhancements, combined with a more user-friendly interface for server and client platforms, will enable high performance and improved power management in a wide variety of applications. I'm still using DDR3, planning a PC upgrade which will include DDR4, and DDR5 is already in the pipeline.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
AT&T has a YouTube channel, where a few times a week they post old videos from the glory days. A few years ago, they posted a cool video from 1982 called The UNIX System: Making Computers More Productive. It's worth a watch. There's lots of other gems on the channel. For example, how about an interview with Arthur C Clarke from 1976?

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
Relive the glory of 80's 8-bit computing! This is a full-featured emulator of a TRS-80 Model III microcomputer. It is free of charge and all source code is publicly available.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
Samsung officially unveiled its Galaxy S8 today. Since the device was leaked extensively, there's very little in the way of news here, but there are still a few things I thought were interesting. Most notably: DeX, a dock which turns your Galaxy S8 into a desktop computer. An old idea, of course, but still a holy grail companies are trying to obtain. The DeX dock looks kind of clever, and my absolute favourite part of it is that it has a fan to keep the phone cool while it's in desktop mode. Any application with proper Nougat support works just fine with windowing, but developers can also optimise for Samsung's own windowing features - which no developer will, of course, so you can forget that right away. Curiously, the S8 comes with a new personal assistant built by Samsung with its own dedicated hardware button on the side of the device. It sports a 3.6mm headphone jack, and comes with a 99 USD wired Harman AKG headphones in the box, which is a nice touch. The S8 will start at 750 USD or 799 EUR, and will be available this April.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
The Creators Update represents more solid incremental improvement to Windows 10. With features such as Night Light, Microsoft is showing that it can use the new Windows 10 development and release model to react more quickly to work done by its competitors, and to put new features in front of Windows users more quickly than before. While the changes to the privacy settings won't make everyone happy, they show that the company is also able to respond to user demands more rapidly than in the past, too. That said, the "creators" theme feels like a stretch. The release doesn't include everything originally planned - the People Hub, demonstrated at last year's launch event, was pushed back - but even if that were included, it wouldn't make the build seem any more creator-y. Some of the work, such as the VR support, is foundational rather than something people are going to run out and use. Others, such as Game Mode, are (I hope) a taste of things to come rather than a finished product. I have the Creator's Update running already, and it's really not all that noticeable. General availability will be on 11 April.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
The United States, a country in North-America bogged down by extensive corruption, just passed a bill allowing ISPs to share and sell users' browsing history without their consent. Internet providers now just need a signature from President Trump before they’re free to take, share, and even sell your web browsing history without your permission. The House of Representatives passed a resolution today overturning an Obama-era FCC rule that required internet providers to get customers' permission before sharing their browsing history with other companies. The rules also required internet providers to protect that data from hackers and inform customers of any breaches. The corrupt US senator who sponsored this clearly atrocious bill, Marsha Blackburn, from an area in the southern part of the country called Tennessee, received 693,000 US dollar in bribes from AT&T, Comcast, Verizon, and other related companies who operate in the country's dysfunctional telecommunications sector. In the United States, officially a representative democracy, it is entirely normal for high-level figures - up to and including the president of the troubled nation, a man named Donald Trump - to receive vast sums of money to enact laws written by corporations, regardless of their effects on civil liberties or the poor and needy people of the country. Americans, as citizens of the nation are called, often lack access to basic necessities such as healthcare, parental leave, clean drinking water, high-quality infrastructure, and so on. This is in spite of the country's vast natural resources and wealth, to which only a few percent of the country's population of 320 million have access to.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
The Amiga has what is with no doubt in my mind, the absolute finest sound chip inside of any computer or console throughout the 1980's as well as most, if not all of the 1990's. Full disclosure; I have an MT-32... And the Amiga can actually do a piano. Yes, in a time when the vast majority of IBM and compatible PC owners were using a small speaker stuck deep inside of a metal tomb, Amiga users had a quality of sound nobody else could touch for that price. [...] To combat the story that has long been shaped that the Amiga was not popular to musicians because it did not have built in MIDI connectors I give you this quote given directly to me from the creator of the sequencing program Music-X, Talin: "The story with MIDI is actually much more complex than most people realize. You see, the early Amiga models had a hardware bug which made the serial port unreliable at high data rates. Basically the problem was that the serial port hardware had only a one-byte buffer, and if you didn't grab that byte before the next byte came in then data would be lost. Unfortunately, the Amiga's four timer chips would generate a software interrupt at regular intervals, during which time the serial port could not be serviced. And while MIDI speed wasn't super-high, it was high enough that you'd get a dropped byte every 10 minutes or so depending on how many notes you were sending over. Note that this did not affect the higher-end MIDI adapters which had their own dedicated serial point, but those were considerably more expensive." Interesting article about past MIDI challenges with the Amiga and how to hook up a modern synth to an Amiga to make music.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
The Amiga has what is with no doubt in my mind, the absolute finest sound chip inside of any computer or console throughout the 1980's as well as most, if not all of the 1990's. Full disclosure; I have an MT-32... And the Amiga can actually do a piano. Yes, in a time when the vast majority of IBM and compatible PC owners were using a small speaker stuck deep inside of a metal tomb, Amiga users had a quality of sound nobody else could touch for that price. [...] To combat the story that has long been shaped that the Amiga was not popular to musicians because it did not have built in MIDI connectors I give you this quote given directly to me from the creator of the sequencing program Music-X, Talin: "The story with MIDI is actually much more complex than most people realize. You see, the early Amiga models had a hardware bug which made the serial port unreliable at high data rates. Basically the problem was that the serial port hardware had only a one-byte buffer, and if you didn't grab that byte before the next byte came in then data would be lost. Unfortunately, the Amiga's four timer chips would generate a software interrupt at regular intervals, during which time the serial port could not be serviced. And while MIDI speed wasn't super-high, it was high enough that you'd get a dropped byte every 10 minutes or so depending on how many notes you were sending over. Note that this did not affect the higher-end MIDI adapters which had their own dedicated serial point, but those were considerably more expensive." Interesting article about past MIDI challenges with the Amiga and how to hook up a modern synth to an Amiga to make music.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
An SBX container is composed of a collections of blocks with size submultiple/equal to that of a sector, so they can survive any level of fragmentation. Each block has a minimal header that includes a unique file identifier, block sequence number, checksum, version. Additionally, non-critical info/metadata are contained in block 0 (like name, file size, crypto-hash, other attributes, etc.). If disaster strikes, recovery can be performed simply by scanning a volume/image, reading sector-sized slices and checking block signatures and then CRCs to detect valid SBX blocks. Then the blocks can be grouped by UIDs, sorted by sequence number and reassembled to form the original SeqBox containers. This was submitted to us by the author of the project, so hopefully she or he can answer possibly questions in the comments.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
Who is winning the race for jobs between robots and humans? Last year, two leading economists described a future in which humans come out ahead. But now they’ve declared a different winner: the robots. The industry most affected by automation is manufacturing. For every robot per thousand workers, up to six workers lost their jobs and wages fell by as much as three-fourths of a percent, according to a new paper by the economists, Daron Acemoglu of M.I.T. and Pascual Restrepo of Boston University. It appears to be the first study to quantify large, direct, negative effects of robots. These effects are only "negative" effects because of the way our society currently works. Nobody is going to stop automation, but automation is going to make our capitalist systems wholly and deeply untenable. Those countries who recognise and adapt to this fact the earliest, will be the ones coming out on top once the dust settles. Countries that look backwards and thereby artificially stunt their economic growth by investing in wholly outdated and destructive industries... Well. Good luck.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
DragonFly version 4.8 brings EFI boot support in the installer, further speed improvements in the kernel, a new NVMe driver, a new eMMC driver, and Intel video driver updates. A ton of changes in this release.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
Apple has released iOS 10.3, which brings with it a major change you should really, really be aware of before you install this update. iOS 10.3 introduces a new Apple File System (APFS), which is installed when an iOS device is updated. APFS is optimized for flash/SSD storage and includes improved support for encryption. Other features include snapshots for freezing the state of a file system (better for backups), space sharing, and better space efficiency, all of which should result in a more stable platform. Customers updating to iOS 10.3 should first make a backup given that the update installs a new file system. While everything should work out just fine with this update, I'd take additional precautions to make sure all your important data is properly backed up. In addition, Apple also released macOS Sierra 10.12.4, which introduces Night Shift to the Mac.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
Modern computer science is dominated by men. But it hasn't always been this way. A lot of computing pioneers - the people who programmed the first digital computers - were women. And for decades, the number of women studying computer science was growing faster than the number of men. But in 1984, something changed. The percentage of women in computer science flattened, and then plunged, even as the share of women in other technical and professional fields kept rising. What happened? An older article from 2014 that - sadly - just refuses to become irrelevant.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
March has been a particularly fecund time for new Android Wear watch announcements, though unlike previous years, the brands behind these devices are almost all from the fashion and luxury spheres of business. Tag Heuer, Montblanc, Hugo Boss, Tommy Hilfiger, Diesel, Emporio Armani, Michael Kors, and Movado are just some of the well known names announcing Wear 2.0 smartwatches. This wave of new products is symptomatic of a broader trend in the tech industry: one where a high degree of component and software integration has made it almost trivial to launch a new tech product, whether or not you're actually a tech company. Maybe this is the right strategy for Android Wear. I've definitely seen some nice Wear 2.0 devices for later this year, and we wouldn't have this much variety if Google had kept Wear 2.0 close to its chest, much like what Apple does with the Apple Watch. If you don't like a square watch - and which sane person does? - you're out of luck on Apple's side of things. That being said, none of these have actually come out yet, so I'm not holding my breath on any of them being any good. All I want is an understated, simple smartwatch that doesn't have all this useless garbage like NFC, Wi-Fi, or LTE sucking up battery. I have my eyes on the LG Watch Style for exactly that reason, but they don't sell it in The Netherlands.

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