posted 3 months ago on OSNews
An absolute must-read from Don Norman and Bruce "Tog" Tognazzini, two absolute heavyweights in the field of usability. On top of that, Tognazzini was heavily involved in the development of the early interface guidelines at Apple, which gives him a unique perspective on the matter. The products, especially those built on iOS, Apple's operating system for mobile devices, no longer follow the well-known, well-established principles of design that Apple developed several decades ago. These principles, based on experimental science as well as common sense, opened up the power of computing to several generations, establishing Apple's well-deserved reputation for understandability and ease of use. Alas, Apple has abandoned many of these principles. True, Apple's design guidelines for developers for both iOS and the Mac OS X still pay token homage to the principles, but, inside Apple, many of the principles are no longer practiced at all. Apple has lost its way, driven by concern for style and appearance at the expense of understandability and usage. Apple is destroying design. Worse, it is revitalizing the old belief that design is only about making things look pretty. No, not so! Design is a way of thinking, of determining people’s true, underlying needs, and then delivering products and services that help them. Design combines an understanding of people, technology, society, and business. The production of beautiful objects is only one small component of modern design: Designers today work on such problems as the design of cities, of transportation systems, of health care. Apple is reinforcing the old, discredited idea that the designer's sole job is to make things beautiful, even at the expense of providing the right functions, aiding understandability, and ensuring ease of use. The problem Apple is facing - as has been explained to me by people who are in the know about these matters - is that the people originally responsible for usability at Apple, including those responsible for the first multitouch interface of the first iPhone, are no longer at Apple. The company currently doesn't have an overarching philosophy when it comes to user interface design, leading to the problems described in detail in this article. The software side of Apple lacks its own Ive, if you will. And boy, does it show. I bought an iPhone 6S (the pink one, 64GB) a couple of weeks ago, and while I don't want to reveal too much from my review, I'm appalled at just how unfocused, chaotic, messy, inconsistent, and hard to use iOS has become. This article articulates really well where the main problems lie. It's easy to look at Apple's massive profits and the quality of its hardware and miss the abysmal state of Apple's software. They've got a lot of work to do - and they really need the right people to get there.

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posted 3 months ago on OSNews
Windows Central is now hearing from multiple sources that Project Astoria is on hold indefinitely, and maybe even shelved completely. Although Microsoft is not publicly - even privately - stating Astoria is cancelled, they are not openly talking about it anymore, or even privately discussing it with developers. One source has told us that "the Android app porting is not going as planned." The interpretation by others familiar with the matter is that Astoria is not happening anytime soon and Microsoft has yet to find a way to announce the news publicly. Indeed, while the news will be welcomed by Windows developers, it could come across as a failure by the company to execute on a publicly announced strategy. All evidence is pointing towards the Android application support promised for Windows 10 being axed.

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posted 3 months ago on OSNews
Today, the US Department of Energy announced that it had established a partnership with NVIDIA that would be enhancing the LLVM compiler collection. The goal will be to port an existing FORTRAN compiler that targets massively parallel GPUs. The results are expected to be released as open source in late 2016. Cutting-edge research still universally involves Fortran; a trio of challengers wants in. While FORTRAN isn't a mainstream language, it's still heavily used in scientific computing, and there's lots of legacy code that relies on it. A lot of that code is maintained by people at the US National Labs, and the new project is being organized by staff at Lawrence Livermore, Sandia, and Los Alamos.

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posted 3 months ago on OSNews
Today we have made Firefox OS 2.5 available worldwide. We are also making an early, experimental build of the OS - Firefox OS 2.5 Developer Preview - available for developers to download on Android devices. So you can flash Firefox OS 2.5 as a standalone operating system, or run parts of it atop your existing Android device. On a related note: Firefox for iOS lets you take your favorite browser with you wherever you go with the Firefox features you already love including smart and flexible search, intuitive tab management, syncing with Firefox Accounts and Private Browsing. iOS, of course, doesn't provide real browser choice to its users, so even this Firefox iOS browser uses iOS' own rendering engine.

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posted 3 months ago on OSNews
Mac users faced trouble with their apps overnight after the security certificate Apple uses to prevent piracy expired late on Wednesday. Applications downloaded from the Mac App Store were temporarily unavailable from 10pm UK time, when a security certificate expired, five years after its creation, with no replacement immediately available. Even once Apple fixed the error, issuing a new certificate for the apps (with an expiry date of April 2035, this time), users were still faced with problems. Those who could not connect to the internet couldn’t verify the new certificate, while those who had forgotten their password or couldn’t log in to iCloud for some other reason are also unable to use the downloaded apps until they can log in to the service. My tweet from yesterday seems apt here. Unbelievably incompetent.

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posted 3 months ago on OSNews
The Windows 10 November update is available now to everyone running Windows 10. This first major update has a handful of visible features, a variety of bug fixes, and even some enterprise features. Microsoft's message to businesses is that if they were following the traditional policy of waiting for the first Service Pack or major update to Windows before deploying it, this is it: time to take the plunge. It's also the time for gamers to make the switch too - in parallel with this release, Microsoft is rolling out the new Xbox Experience, which is based on Windows 10, and gives the dashboard a big shake-up. Only a Windows update could extoll the virtues of reducing the number of differently design context menus.

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posted 3 months ago on OSNews
The reviews for the Apple Surface are coming in. There's two reviews at The Verge, one at the Wall Street Journal, and John Gruber's got early access from Apple as well. The general gist? If you've ever read a Surface Pro review, you've read all the iPad Pro reviews. Well, mostly - the complaints leveled at the Surface Pro are being tip-toed around a bit now that they apply to an Apple product, of course, and suddenly, the magic argument "but it will get better in the future" is now completely valid, while the same argument is never considered valid for the Surface Pro (or something like the Priv and its early bugs). That being said, all reviews dive into just how uncomfortable the iPad Pro is to use as a laptop - and the problem, of course, is iOS itself. iOS is a mobile, touch-first operating system that Apple is now trying to shoehorn into a laptop role. iOS provides no support for mice or trackpads, and the keyboard and iOS lack most basic shortcut keys, so in order to do anything other than typing, you'll need to lift your arm and reach for the screen to use touch. This is something Apple has mocked for years as the reason not to include touch on laptops, and now they release a device which requires it 100%. This is what happens when you run out of ideas and try to shoehorn your cashcow - iOS - into a role it was never intended to fulfill, without being gutsy enough to make the changes it requires. The iPad Pro is clearly screaming for a touchpad (and proper keyboard shortcuts), but it doesn't have any, and according to John Gruber, it never will (a comment I filed away for later when Apple inevitably adds mouse support to iOS). Microsoft's Surface may not be perfect, but its problems stem almost exclusively not from a lack in hardware capability or a faulty concept, but from Microsoft's Metro environment being utterly shit. The concept of having a tablet and a laptop in the same device, seamlessly switching between a tablet UI and a desktop UI, is sound - the only problem is that Microsoft doesn't have a working tablet UI and applications. Meanwhile, trying to shoehorn a mobile, touch-first UI into a laptop form factor is just as silly and idiotic as trying to shoehorn a desktop UI into a mobile, touch-first form factor - and Apple should know better. Or should they? Paul Thurrott, earlier this week: While the iPad Pro was in many ways inevitable, it also points to a crisis of original thought at Apple, which has been coasting on the iPhone’s coattails for perhaps too long. At Apple, the solution to every problem is another iPhone. And the iPad Pro, like the new Apple TV and the Apple Watch, is really just another attempt to duplicate that singular success in other markets. Thurrott really hits the nail on the head. The iPhone became a success because Apple sought - and succeeded in - designing an interface and interaction model that was specifically designed for the iPhone's input methods - the multitouch display, the home button. Ever since that major big hit, they've been trying to shoehorn that exact same interface and interaction model into every major new product - the Apple Watch, the new Apple TV, and now the iPad Pro. However, if there's one thing we've learned from Palm OS (pen-first, mobile-first) and iOS (multitouch-first, mobile-first), it's that every form factor needs a tailored interaction model - not a shoehorned one. When you're a hammer, every problem looks like a nail - which sums up Apple's new major product lines ever since the release of the iPhone, and the iPad Pro seems no different. It will do great as an iPad+, but beyond that? It's not going to make a single, meaningful dent, without considerable restructuring of iOS' UI and interaction models - and lots and lots of crow. Read more on this exclusive OSNews article...

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posted 3 months ago on OSNews
Today, we're announcing the end of Chrome's support for Windows XP, as well as Windows Vista, and Mac OS X 10.6, 10.7, and 10.8, since these platforms are no longer actively supported by Microsoft and Apple. Starting April 2016, Chrome will continue to function on these platforms but will no longer receive updates and security fixes. Yet another reason for those few stragglers to finally dump that silly excuse for an operating system called Windows XP, and move towards something newer. Windows XP was dreadful the day it got released, and has only become more so over the years. Really - there's no excuse.

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posted 3 months ago on OSNews
Tag Heuer has teamed up with Google and Intel to launch the Connected Watch, its first Android Wear timepiece. The Connected isn't just any average Android Wear watch, however. It's a $1,500 luxury timepiece clad in titanium and bearing more than a passing resemblance to Tag Heuer's analog watches. Tag Heuer has so much faith in this pig of a watch that it includes a special trade-in program where you can replace the Connected Watch with a real watch down the line. Confusing messaging there.

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posted 3 months ago on OSNews
"Yes, the iPad Pro is a replacement for a notebook or a desktop for many, many people. They will start using it and conclude they no longer need to use anything else, other than their phones," Cook argues in his distinctly Southern accent (he was born in Alabama). He highlights two other markets for his 12.9 inch devices, which go on sale online on Wednesday. The first are creatives: "if you sketch then it’s unbelievable..you don't want to use a pad anymore," Cook says. Aside from the fact that the death of the PC has been predicted just as often as the death of Apple, I'm obviously not going to claim the man successfully running the largest company in the world is wrong, but I am going to state I'm rather skeptical of the iPad Pro. I predicted the original iPad would do well, but this Microsoft Surface clone? The doubt is very real.

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