posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
If you ever wanted to know why some people - including myself - have such a negative opinion of Samsung devices, consider the following. Let's take the latest CyanogenMod ROM for, say, my Find 51, and add the latest Google Apps package, and it totals at about 300 MB. That's the complete, fully functional Android operating system with all the Google applications and services. The ROM on the Galaxy S5 takes up a whopping 8 GB. No wonder Samsung swears by SD card slots. 1 I actually run OmniROM.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
The Galaxy S5 is here. Our main takeaway from our brief time with the Galaxy S5 so far is that Samsung is has been listening to customers and critics alike, and has finally gotten around to addressing many of our gripes with its build quality, software and UI. It's still a plastic phone, and a plastic phone running TouchWiz at that, but the GS5 represents a clear improvement for Samsung in a bunch of important areas. The new Samsung UI strikes us as something we might enjoy using, rather than software that's just there. And the soft-touch back feels infinitely nicer in the hand than the glossy, slimy plastic of old. It still baffles me how Sony, HTC, and even the Chinese manufacturers can make such beautiful, elegant, and well-built Android phones, and then people go out and buy Samsung Galaxy phones. They're so... Eh.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
Today, at Mobile World Congress, Nokia has unveiled its new line of smartphones: Nokia X. Instead of running Windows Phone or even Asha, these devices run Android, altered to look (somewhat) like Windows Phone. There's really not a whole lot of new stuff to say here, since most of it has already been leaked - except for the fact that there will be three Nokia X devices (with more to come!). The Nokia X, Nokia X+ (with slightly more memory), and the Nokia XL (with a larger display). They look as colourful as any Nokia phone, but specifications are low-end; a dual-core 1Ghz processor, 800x480, and 512 or 768 MB RAM. It runs Android 4.1.2, and not the low-specifications optimised Android 4.4. It turns out that the low specifications impact the user experience, as evidenced by Tom Warren's first impressions: Using the X can be quite frustrating, however, as the entire interface is prone to slow response and a lot of lag. Closing or switching between apps on the X takes far longer than other, even entry-level, smartphones, and browsing the web will quickly test your patience. The third-party apps we saw on the X, such as Facebook, looked as they do on other Android smartphones, but they too suffered from poor performance. Nokia's choice to combine the functions of home and back into the single back button is confusing, and i's difficult to predict exactly where in the interface the button will take you when you press it. The user interface feels like Windows Phone, Android, and Harmattan had an illegitimate baby born out of wedlock. The end result is something that looks like a Frankenstein user interface, whose different aspects do not really align very well. The Metro-inspired homescreen, for instance, looks like a Windows Phone knock-off you would find on a cheap no-brand clone. The Android parts - inside applications, mostly - looks weird because Nokia's signature font simply doesn't fit. I haven't used it, of course, so imagine a big asterisk here, but it looks like a classic example of design-by-committee. The Metro homescreen? Implemented because of Microsoft. The Nokia fonts? Implemented because Nokia. The swipe aspects? Because hey, the N9 is loved, so let's throw that in there as well. It doesn't feel like it has a unifying vision behind it. The Nokia X looks like great hardware - as always, this is Nokia - but with a rather unusual and unappealing operating system. I honestly cannot wait until the XDA community gets its hands on this thing - I predict Google Play within a few days, and CyanogenMod within a few weeks. With this Android fork being completely void of Google services or Google applications, I would really wait until that's sorted out - unless you want to restrict yourself to a limited set of applications (developers need to port applications). This raises the question of 'why'. Nokia now ships phones with four different operating systems - Windows Phone, Android, Series 40, Asha platform - which must be a hell to maintain. It doesn't really seem like Nokia needed to make an Android phone, considering that it already sells the 520 with Windows Phone. The only reason I can think of is that Nokia plans to eventually supplant Nokia Asha platform with this Android fork. However, there's a problem here, and that's Microsoft's reaction to the Nokia X. Microsoft's Joe Belfiore: We have a great relationship with Nokia. They've built great products. We haven't complete our acquisition. They may do some things we're excited about. Other things we are LESS excited. But whatever they do we are very supportive of the partnership. That doesn't exactly instill confidence in the future of the Nokia X product line. All in all, despite the somewhat shoddy first impressions of the user interface, and the warnings of slow performance, I'm still quite excited about the Nokia X. They look great, and once the XDA community gets its hands on it, it will actually become useful - because I saved the best for last: price. It'll be EUR 89 for the Nokia X, EUR 99 for the Nokia X+, and EUR 109 for the Nokia XL. To be honest, I think the X+ is the best deal, since the low resolution's pixelated edges of the 5" XL will most likely cut your eyeballs. Important note: it won't be available in the US. That's a great price, and once CyanogenMod and other ROMs (4.4 instead of 4.1.2) run on it, it'll be useful too.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
NuttX is a real-time operating system (RTOS) with an emphasis on standards compliance and small footprint. Scalable from 8-bit to 32-bit microcontroller environments, the primary governing standards in NuttX are Posix and ANSI standards. Additional standard APIs from Unix and other common RTOS's (such as VxWorks) are adopted for functionality not available under these standards, or for functionality that is not appropriate for deeply-embedded environments (such as fork()). NuttX was first released in 2007 by Gregory Nutt under the permissive BSD license. NuttX saw its 100th release at the end of last month.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
Unlike the original Galaxy Gear, which has a full build of Android 4.2.2 on board, the Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo are running the Tizen OS - an open-source OS Samsung played a big hand in developing. That's good and bad, of course. It's great for those who have been waiting to see Tizen on a mainstream product (insofar as smartwatches are mainstream, we suppose) and bad for the tinkerers. That's also led Samsung to drop "Galaxy" from the product name. I don't care much about the Gear, but I like that Samsung is finally using Tizen for something.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
Microsoft isn't yet talking about the next update to Windows Phone. Though the company has made a series of small updates to Windows Phone 8, with three delivered so far, the platform is more or less the same as it was in 2012. A big update is, however, in the cards. A series of leaks over the past few weeks have revealed an abundance of details about what Microsoft is likely to call Windows Phone 8.1. Unlike the three updates already made to Windows 8, Windows Phone 8.1 will be huge: so big that the 8.1 name (no doubt chosen to align the phone operating system with the desktop and tablet one) is downright misleading. If version numbers were determined by the scale of changes alone, this would be called Windows Phone 9. Inside the bubble of Windows Phone, this is a huge update, and definitely one I'm looking forward to. However, outside of this bubble, this update contains nothing that iOS and Android haven't had for years, making WP 8.1 feel like what the platform should have been from day one. If Microsoft can keep up with the competition going forward from 8.1, things could (finally) get interesting.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
Yandex.Kit is a customisable suite of mobile components available for most versions of Android OS. It has all the basics indispensable for the up-to-date mobile experience. Vendors selling their original Android devices in Russia can enjoy the full Yandex.Kit package, which currently includes an app store, launcher and dialer, browser, maps, a cloud app - 15 apps overall. OEMs targeting other markets can enjoy Yandex.Kit as a trio of Yandex products - Yandex.Shell UI, Yandex.Browser and Yandex.Store. Interestingly enough, two Android OEMs, Huawei and Explay, will show Yandex.Kit devices at MWC. Which is interesting, because earlier this month, Ars Technica claimed that leaked GMS licensing terms prohibited companies from releasing Android forks ("The agreement places a company-wide ban on Android forks [...]"). If that is indeed true, then Huawei (I'm not familiar with Explay) will be in for a surprise. Alternatively, companies can release de-Googled Android phones (alongside Google Android phones) just fine. I guess we'll find out.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
The Revolution is not only more powerful than most, but also a first-of-its-kind. Geeksphone MultiOS technology allows you to choose your operating system. Starting with Google Android operating system, you can seamlessly switch to Boot2Gecko by Mozilla, or any other community-supported flavor of an OS. You choose, and we will keep you updated thanks to our 1-click OTA system. There are three reasons why this phone fascinates me. One, it is the first non-crappy device for Firefox OS, which I'm interested in, but never got into because I didn't want to waste money on underpowered hardware. This phone seems to solve that. Two, it's designed to provide dual-boot from the get-go, so you can truly run multiple ROMs. Three, it's an x86 phone, which fascinates me simply because it isn't ARM - and opens up possibilities of craziness like desktop operating systems on your phone. It's also relatively cheap at EUR 222, which is almost doable as an impulse buy. I'm keeping my eye on this one.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
Jolla, the Finnish smartphone and Sailfish OS developer, today announced that Jolla's mobile operating system Sailfish OS has reached release 1.0 and is now ready for global distribution. Jolla is also introducing availability of the Sailfish OS experience as downloadable software to devices running Android OS. A major milestone for the young company. The fourth big update to Sailfish OS will be released early March, at which point the operating system leaves beta and hits 1.0. This fourth update will further improve landscape supports, include visual changes, new camera functionality, and more. On top of that, Sailfish will be made available for popular Android devices as well, so that you no longer need to buy a Jolla phone in order to use the operating system. Furthermore - and I did not see this one coming - they will release a Sailfish launcher for Android that brings some of the operating system's unique features to Android. These men and women are on a roll.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
As we walk through our daily lives, we use visual cues to navigate and understand the world around us. We observe the size and shape of objects and rooms, and we learn their position and layout almost effortlessly over time. This awareness of space and motion is fundamental to the way we interact with our environment and each other. We are physical beings that live in a 3D world. Yet, our mobile devices assume that physical world ends at the boundaries of the screen. The goal of Project Tango is to give mobile devices a human-scale understanding of space and motion. A privacy nightmare, obviously, but the technology is impressive, still.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
When Gabriel Weinberg launched a search engine in 2008, plenty of people thought he was insane. How could DuckDuckGo, a tiny, Philadelphia-based startup, go up against Google? One way, he wagered, was by respecting user privacy. Six years later, we're living in the post-Snowden era, and the idea doesn't seem so crazy. In fact, DuckDuckGo is exploding. I wonder what the future holds for DuckDuckGo. Will there be a point where people leave Google Search completely, instead of just casting curious glances at DDG?

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posted 2 months ago on OSNews
Facebook today announced that it has reached a definitive agreement to acquire WhatsApp, a rapidly growing cross-platform mobile messaging company, for a total of approximately $16 billion, including $4 billion in cash and approximately $12 billion worth of Facebook shares. The agreement also provides for an additional $3 billion in restricted stock units to be granted to WhatsApp’s founders and employees that will vest over four years subsequent to closing. A huge deal. WhatsApp is one of the biggest messaging services is in the world - maybe even the biggest.

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posted 2 months ago on OSNews
Canonical today announces it has signed agreements with mobile device manufacturers bq (Spain) and Meizu (China) to bring Ubuntu smartphones to consumers globally. Canonical is working with these partners to ship the first Ubuntu devices on the latest hardware in 2014. Ubuntu has also received significant support from the world's biggest carriers, some of which intend to work with OEM partners to bring phones to market this year. Good news for Canonical.

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posted 2 months ago on OSNews
Gionee has announced what the company claims is the thinnest smartphone in the world. Aside from boasting the most impressive 5.55mm waistline, the Elife S5.5 runs an Android-based Amigo OS, sports an octa-core 1.7 GHz processor, 2GB of RAM and a duo of 13 MP and 5 MP cameras (back and front). I've already made the jump to Chinese smartphones early last year, and with still zero complaints about the Find 5, I have no intention of ever going back. Here, too, Gionee, shows that the stereotype we have here of Chinese devices being nothing but clones is starting to get very, very outdated. Influenced by lobbying from western companies, our governments will do all they can to block the influx of Chinese devices for as long as they can, but it won't take long for consumer demand for high-quality devices at low prices to overcome that. Chinese companies like Oppo, Huawei, Xaomi, and others will do to the device market what Japanese and later South-Korean car brands have done to the car market. If I were a Korean, Japanese, or American device maker - I'd be worried. Also, I totally want this phone. Beautiful.

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posted 2 months ago on OSNews
So, convertibles. Laptop/tablet hybrids. I think their popularity started with early Asus Transformers, but since then, they've become a pretty big staple in the device landscape. Since I'm in the market for a replacement for my dreadful ARM Surface RT, I've been looking at this market segment again, and have noted that there's a lot of choice out there. After the dreadful experience with the Surface RT, I'm steering clear of anything Windows RT-related. An x86-based convertible Windows 8.1 machine, however, still has some major appeal due to its excellent desktop application support that fits in nicely with my existing workstation. The tablet side of Windows 8.1, however, is still woefully underserved, with very few applications, and even those that do exist are of abysmal quality. As far as hardware goes, the Lenovo Miix 2 10" (not to be confused with the older Miix 2!) has really grabbed by attention. It's supposed to end up at around EUR 400-500, which is acceptable. The Surface 2 Pro is also interesting, but quite expensive - although it does have a far better processor than the 10" Miix 2. There's also an 11" Miix 2 which sports the same processor as the Surface 2 Pro, but 11" seems a bit large in my view. I've also been looking at Android convertibles, and here I run into a bit of trouble - most of them tend to run outdated versions of Android, and I'm really not looking forward to figuring out which of them have the best AOSP support. Do any of you have any suggestions here? Any models to look for? Experiences with custom, AOSP-like ROMs? An even bigger question regarding Android on convertibles is just how well Android handles laptop-like computing. Does it do a good job of it, considering where Android comes from? It seems like to me that where Windows has the upper hand on the laptop side of the convertible, Android rules on the tablet side of it. Am I right in thinking this is so?

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posted 2 months ago on OSNews
The MorphOS development team is proud to announce the public release of MorphOS 3.5, which introduces support for PowerMac 7,2 machines and features various bug fixes as well as other improvements. For an overview of the included changes, please read our release notes. They released 3.5.1 shortly after to fix a boot issue in 3.5.

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posted 2 months ago on OSNews
When my 3+ year old DELL laptop died last week, I decided to give Chromebooks a try. So the Acer C720, at just $199, became my new laptop. This is my experience with it so far. The Acer C720 is similar in specs to other Chromebooks currently on the market. It's a Haswell architecture with a dual core Celeron, 2 GB of RAM, 16 GB flash, HDMI-out, 3 USB, webcam, Bluetooth, and a 1366x768 px screen. It's 0.8" tall, and weighs just 2.76 lbs. Its battery life is rated for 8.5 hours but in real world usage rated at about 7 hours. You can view its specs in detail here. The laptop feels very light, sturdy and of a good build quality. Its keyboard is easy to get accustomed to, and I had no trouble at all, coming from a radically different keyboard design on the DELL. The ChromeOS function keys are really handy too, e.g. to change brightness, volume etc. The touchpad has the right size, position and responsiveness too. Read more on this exclusive OSNews article...

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posted 2 months ago on OSNews
The University of California, Berkeley, has been authorised by Alcatel-Lucent to release all Plan 9 software previously governed by the Lucent Public License, Version 1.02 under the GNU General Public License, Version 2. You can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation; version 2 of the License. I never really dove too deep into Plan 9, but it has always fascinated me. I think it's time to learn more - and I suggest you do so too. It's weekend, after all, right?

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posted 2 months ago on OSNews
BareMetal OS now supports TCP/IP by way of a port of LwIP, originally by Adam Dunkels for embedded devices. BareMetal is a 64-bit OS for x86-64 based computers. The OS is written entirely in Assembly, while applications can be written in Assembly or C/C++. BareMetal boots via Pure64 and has a command line interface with the ability to load programs/data from a hard drive. Current plans for v0.7.0 call for basic TCP/IP support, improved file handling, as well as general bug fixes and optimizations.

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posted 2 months ago on OSNews
Another day, another fear-mongering 'Android is closed!'-article at Ars Technica. After Peter Bright's article last week (sharply torn to shreds by Dianne Hackborn), we now have an article with the scary title "New Android OEM licensing terms leak; 'open' comes with a lot of restrictions". The title itself is already highly misleading, since one, the licensing terms aren't new (they're from early 2011 - that's three years old), and two, they're not licensing terms for Android, but for the suite of Google applications that run atop Android. This article makes the classic mistake about the nature of Android. It conflates the Android Open Source Project with the suite of optional proprietary Google applications, the GMS. These old, most likely outdated licensing terms cover the Google applications, and not the open source Android platform, which anyone can download, alter, build and ship. Everyone can build a smartphone business based on the Android Open Source Project, which is a complete smartphone operating system. Read more on this exclusive OSNews article...

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posted 2 months ago on OSNews
Major scoop by Tom Warren. Sources familiar with Microsoft's plans tell The Verge that the company is seriously considering allowing Android apps to run on both Windows and Windows Phone. While planning is ongoing and it's still early, we're told that some inside Microsoft favor the idea of simply enabling Android apps inside its Windows and Windows Phone Stores, while others believe it could lead to the death of the Windows platform altogether. The mixed (and strong) feelings internally highlight that Microsoft will need to be careful with any radical move. Now, I have a very crazy theory about this whole thing. I obviously have no inside sources like Warren has, so load this image in another tab while reading this, but what if instead of this being an attempt to bridge the 'application gap', this is the first step in a Microsoft transition towards Android as a whole? Much like the PC world, which eventually settled on two players, the mobile world has settled on two players: Android and iOS. It's the cold and harsh truth. Does it really make sense for Microsoft to focus all that energy on developing Windows Phone - not to a whole lot of avail so far - when they could just take Android, add their own services, and more importantly, their own very popular and ubiquitous enterprise software, and sell that instead? Microsoft actually started out as an application software provider, and not as an operating system vendor, so it's not like they would do something they're not comfortable with. The biggest reason this crazy, unfounded theory came to my mind is that I simply cannot believe Microsoft would actually make it possible to run Android applications on Windows Phone. First, running Android applications on another platform is not exactly issue-free. Second, this has not exactly helped BlackBerry (and Sailfish, for that matter) either. Third, Windows Phone (and Windows 8 Metro) are already afterthoughts for developers, nothing more than mere side-projects in between iOS and Android work. Why would any of them develop native applications if they can just send their already completed APK to Microsoft? It'd be the death of Windows Phone and Metro. Combined with the news that Nokia's Android phone is actually going to come out, it wouldn't surprise me at all if Microsoft is thinking about phasing out Windows Phone, with the ability to run Android applications on the platform as a first step in this migration. There are major issues with such an approach, of course, not least of which the problem Amazon has also run into: no Google Play Services, meaning several popular applications won't run at all. If you're truly, truly outrageous, you could even consider a pact between Microsoft and Google, a combined effort that would take some possible antitrust heat off Google's back, and would give them a united front against Apple and iOS. Even this has precedent: unlike what some think, Microsoft and Apple have a long history of close cooperation. There's no reason Microsoft wouldn't do it again, if needed. In any case, this is all very interesting stuff, and it shows just how much of a problem the lack of any presence in the mobile world has become for Microsoft. The new CEO has some very tough calls to make.

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posted 2 months ago on OSNews
Jolla has released their Sialfish browser as open source, so it seems like a good moment to dive into the lower levels of their Gecko-based browser. In this post I'd like to shade some light on what technology is used in the browser application for Sailfish OS. By now it's a widely known fact that the browser is based on the Gecko engine which is developed by Mozilla corp. and is used in their Firefox browser and Firefox OS. For some reason it's not that known that the Sailfish browser is built upon the EmbedLite embedding API (also known as IPCLiteAPI) for Gecko. This embedding API started as a research project in Nokia by Oleg Romashin and Andrey Petrov at the times when Nokia was still developing the Maemo platform. Currently the project is maintained by Tatiana Meshkova.

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posted 2 months ago on OSNews
The Amiga Operating System implementation of FUSE has been realized via a project called Filesysbox by Leif Salomonsson. A special thanks goes out to Leif for allowing his hard work to be utilized. Amiga programmer extraordinaire Fredrik Wikström was then commissioned to port Filesysbox over to AmigaOS. Fredrik took the original code and updated it to AmigaOS 4.1 standards. This work included utilizing advanced DOS features such as object notification and the new file system API which seeks to completely avoid the esoteric DOS packet interface. Colin Wenzel is the main man behind the advanced DOS features. Since I'm sure at least some of you will do a double-take upon reading this summary: they're referring to another kind of DOS.

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posted 2 months ago on OSNews
The mysterious developer of the world's most popular free app, who drew global attention this past weekend with his sudden decision to remove it, tells Forbes that Flappy Bird is dead. Permanently. This will go down as one of the craziest stories in what I reluctantly call "technology" of all time.

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posted 2 months ago on OSNews
A lot of new features in Windows Phone 8.1 - to be released around April - are starting to appear. First and foremost, it seems Windows Phone is finally getting a notification centre, which was long overdue. Microsoft originally intended live tiles to replace notifications, but as someone who has used Windows Phone extensively, live tiles are annoying in that they don't always show the notification count, and on top of that, are generally too small to contain enough information, forcing you to go into the application anyway, defeating their purpose. It seems Microsoft has finally figured out that a notification centre is pretty much mandatory these days. Furthermore, the private SDK releases reveal some more information, including some low-level changes. The first significant change appears to be the initial signs of a Windows Phone and Windows RT merger. Microsoft has been hinting at this plan, and the SDK includes "Universal App" support with templates to build Windows Store and Windows Phone Store apps from the same shared HTML and JavaScript code. There's more interesting stuff in there, like the ability to change the default messaging application, the back button will no longer terminate applications but suspend them, an improved camera application, and more. All in all, it does look like a worthy update for Windows Phone users, but there's nothing in there that other platforms haven't been enjoying for years now. In other words, it doesn't really contain anything that gives the platform an edge over the competition or that makes it stand out. None of these features is going to convince an iOS or Android user from leaving their platform behind. Still, these are just the new features and changes extracted from the private SDK, so there's bound to be more stuff hiding in the shadows that we don't yet know about. It's curious though that the preview SDK releases are private, something that was met with lots of complaints back during the run-up Windows Phone 8, since it means developers can't get their stuff ready before the release hits. Luckily, though, the new developer program does mean anyone can get the 8.1 update as soon as it's released. I'm hoping my relatively old HTC 8X won't be left out of the loop, because this looks like a worthy update for Windows Phone users.

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