posted 3 months ago on OSNews
This year's Google I/O developer conference was a massively Android-centric affair. The OS dominated the two-and-a-half-hour keynote presentation, which saw a new platform version - Android "L" - previewed to developers, alongside new form factors in Android Wear, Android Auto and Android TV. It really does seem as if Android is 'winning' inside Google. Android on phones, TVs, cars, and watches - the only exception here is laptops, but even those are getting sort-of Android because Android application will run on Chrome OS. You have to wonder how long it'll take for Chrome OS itself to more or less turn into Android. The second interesting point that became very clear during Google I/O is that the company is taking control away from OEMs. OEMs cannot alter Android TV and Android Wear's user experience, and that's a huge customer win. The downside here is that there's a very real possibility that these platforms won't become part of AOSP, ruling out things like CyanogenMod TV or OmniROM Wear. Third, while it's clear that Google is trying to exert more control of phone/tablet Android too, it's still not clear how far they're willing to go. There was nothing on 'Android Silver', and the fact that the company confirmed that the Nexus programme will not go away means they still see a need for OEM-less Android - which would not be necessary if Google managed to get the same kind of control over phones/tablets as it will have over TV/Wear.

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posted 3 months ago on OSNews
Google didn't spend enough time on Material Design during the keynote. We saw a beautiful video and learned a little bit about the intent and thought behind Google's new cross-platform look (which we actually saw a bit earlier than anticipated), but there's so much more to be said. Having attended as many design sessions as possible during I/O, I think it's worth taking a somewhat closer look at Material Design. In this post we'll attempt to scratch a little bit deeper into what Material means, why it's awesome, and why it's a forward-looking move for Google. I personally really like this new design direction, but the big question is going to be whether or not third party developers will embrace it. I still see non-Holo applications today, so I'm not getting my hopes up.

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posted 3 months ago on OSNews
When you Google someone from within the EU, you no longer see what the search giant thinks is the most important and relevant information about an individual. You see the most important information the target of your search is not trying to hide. Stark evidence of this fact, the result of a European court ruling that individuals had the right to remove material about themselves from search engine results, arrived in the Guardian's inbox this morning, in the form of an automated notification that six Guardian articles have been scrubbed from search results. And then the EU wonders why support for even more 'Europe' is at an all-time low.

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posted 3 months ago on OSNews
And this is the second part of the future of KDE. We already covered part one. This is the second half of the 'where KDE is going' write-up. Last week, I discussed what is happening with KDE's technologies: Platform is turning modular in Frameworks, Plasma is moving to new technologies and the Applications change their release schedule. In this post, I will discuss the social and organizational aspects: our governance.

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posted 3 months ago on OSNews
So yes, this story is pretty much an excuse to show off our fancy new Android story category (it's 2014. We thought it was time), but hey, it's still informative. In case you've been wondering why you don't see many applications with Google's new Material Design just yet, it's because applications created with the Android L Preview SDK may not yet be submitted to the Google Play Store. In fact, said applications won't even run on non-Preview devices to begin with. Alongside the release of the Android L Developer Preview images, Google also released the Android L Preview SDK. Using the L Preview SDK, developers are now able to make use of Theme.Material.* and give their applications this highly sought after theme. And in fact, this is only available when using the preview SDK. However, Google makes it very clear that applications created with the preview SDK should not be published to the Google Play Store. It's pretty clear Material Design simply isn't done yet, and as such, Google has wisely decided to not let developers use it in the real world just yet.

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posted 3 months ago on OSNews
There's a lot of information coming out about the future versions of Windows - and it's looking like Microsoft is listening to its users. First and foremost, it seems like the Metro interface will be disabled completely when Windows runs on traditional laptops and desktops; however, Metro applications will still run in windows on the desktop. The Desktop/laptop SKU of Threshold will include, as previously rumored, the Mini-Start menu - a new version of the traditional Microsoft Start menu, an early concept of which Microsoft showed off at the company's Build developers conference in April. It also will include the ability to run Metro-Style/Windows Store apps in windows on the Desktop. Will it turn off completely the Metro-Style Start screen with its live-tile interface, as Neowin is reporting, and make the tiled Start Menu a toggleable option from the Mini Start menu? I'm not sure, but I wouldn't be surprised. Meanwhile, convertible devices will work pretty much like Windows 8.x does today, switching between the two modes. Microsoft will also do the inevitable: merge its phone and tablet operating system into one product. The combined Phone/Tablet SKU of Threshold won't have a Desktop environment at all, but still will support apps running side by side, my sources are reconfirming. This "Threshold Mobile" SKU will work on ARM-based Windows Phones (not just Lumias), ARM-based Windows tablets and, I believe, Intel-Atom-based tablets. These are all looking like some very decent changes, and something they should have done from the get-go. In fact - they should have never tried to shove Metro down desktop user's throats to begin with. They should have moved Windows Phone over to NT (which they did anyway), and scale that up to tablets. I am, though, quite interested in what the Metro-on-desktop apologists are going to say now. For entertainment value, of course!

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posted 3 months ago on OSNews
Russell Ivanovic comparing his experiences at WWDC and Google I/O. For instance, the differences between Apple and Google developer representatives. Perhaps it's just the ones I've met at Apple, but I've never had this experience before. Our developer rep is a nice guy, but he's not the least bit technical, and in general I could only talk to him when he contacts me. I say 'could' because ever since we've had success on the Android platform he's made it very clear that his services are no longer available to us. Perhaps that makes me bitter and jaded about the Developer Rep experience at Apple, but if you ask me it's justified. Seems to be in line with how Apple handles the press. A long, long time ago, Apple loaned me one of the first Intel MacBook Pros. Those models got notoriously hot to the touch under heavy use. I dared to mention in my review that the device would sometimes get uncomfortably warm. Let me just say that it did not exactly go down well with Apple. Moving on, it's not just the companies' employees that have differing attitudes. One of the first things that struck me was the contrast between the kind of people that attend I/O vs those at WWDC. Granted in both cases I didn't meet all 5000 attendees, so there's nothing scientific about what follows. That said everyone I met at I/O was open-minded and tended to work on more than one platform. As such it wasn't the least bit strange when someone pulled out their iPhone to check something on it. The majority of phones there seemed to be Androids, with the Nexus 5 making up the lions share of the devices I saw. What I'm getting at, and let me put it bluntly if I may, is that it highlighted just how insular and superior a lot of Apple developers act and feel. If you don't believe me, just join a group of them at WWDC and whip out your Android phone. Within moments, you'll wish you had whipped out something less offensive, like your genitalia instead. Apple's employees seem "overly obsessed with Google", he notes, which shouldn't be a surprise considering the amount of time Tim Cook spends bashing Android during a keynote - often with facts of questionable value. This kind of stuff trickles down to lower employees, too, of course. In any case, this doesn't exactly seem like a great way to treat developers. I wonder if this will ever come back to bite Apple in the butt.

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posted 3 months ago on OSNews
A few days ago, the crazy BlackBerry Passport reared its... Square head. Over the weekend, Crackberry.com posted a review of a pre-release version of the device. It fits in dress shirt pockets and you can hold it with one hand. You just need two hands to use it. The battery lasts forever and the screen is a breath of fresh air for the 'cramped' Q10 users. The keyboard is a delicious treat that is a different approach compared to anything BlackBerry has done before it and anything that the market has ever seen. The combination of physical and onscreen this time around is exciting and intuitive. It is what we have been waiting for all along. A breath of fresh air. This seems to be the device BlackBerry should have put out years ago. It's different, it's fresh, yet retains what makes a BlackBerry, well, a BlackBerry. This is exactly the kind of device us hardware keyboard lovers need. Bring it on, BlackBerry. Do it. Release it. Everywhere.

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posted 3 months ago on OSNews
Ars Technica reviews the BlackPhone, a device which claims to be much more secure than other smartphones. After configuring the various pieces of Blackphone's privacy armor, it was time to check it for leaks. I connected my loaner phone to a Wi-Fi access point that was set up to perform a packet capture of my traffic, and we started to walk through the features. I also launched a few Wi-Fi attacks on the phone in an attempt to gather data from it. [...] For my last trick, I unleashed a malicious wireless access point on Blackphone, first passively listening and then actively trying to get it to connect. While I did capture the MAC address of the phone’s Wi-Fi interface passively, I was unable to get it to fall for a spoofed network or even give up the names of its trusted networks. So, we've verified it: Blackphone is pretty damn secure. A very disappointing test of the essential claim to fame of this smartphone. All Ars has done is confirm it does not leak data - something you can easily achieve on any phone. This review does not spend a single word on the baseband operating system of the device, which is a crucial part of any smartphone that we know little about. There's no indication whatsoever that the baseband operating system used by the NVIDIA chipset inside the Blackphone is in any way more secure than that of others. Unless we have a truly open baseband processor, the idea of a secure phone for heroes like Edward Snowden will always be a pipe dream. I certainly commend Blackphone's effort, but there's a hell of a lot more work to be done.

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posted 3 months ago on OSNews
Steven Troughton-Smith points to an article by Brad Larson: I always find it more effective to learn new programming concepts by building projects using them, so I decided to do the same for Apple's new Swift language. I also wanted to see how well it would interact with my open source GPUImage framework. As a result, I made GPUImage fully Swift-compatible and I've built and committed to the GitHub repository a couple of Swift sample applications. I wanted to write down some of the things that I learned when building these. It's interesting to see programmers get their hands dirty with what most likely will be the way forward for iOS developers.

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posted 3 months ago on OSNews
Some operating system updates from Cupertino today. First up, OS X 10.9.4. This update: Fixes an issue that prevented some Macs from automatically connecting to known Wi-Fi networks Fixes issue causing the background or Apple logo to appear incorrectly on startup Improves the reliability of waking from sleep Includes Safari 7.0.5 iOS 7.1.2 has also been released. Apple has released iOS 7.1.2. This update contains bug fixes and security updates. These include an update to iBeacon connectivity and stability, data transfers for 3rd party accessories, and data protection class issues with Mail attachments. To round it all off, Apple also updated the Apple TV to version 6.2.

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posted 3 months ago on OSNews
This new version can now utilize the built-in Wi-Fi hardware in all Apple systems that feature Broadcom's BCM43 chipset. In addition, MorphOS further extends its support of graphics chipsets to include AMD's R400 series by adding compatibility with Radeon X800 XT/Pro and FireGL X3 cards. Moreover, the latest version of MorphOS now enables laptop owners to define custom screen modes and provides default modes for increasingly common high resolution displays. Improving interoperability and overall convenience, MorphOS 3.6 adds a new SMBFS filesystem handler with 64-bit I/O support for easy file sharing via network storage devices, a new VNC server to control your MorphOS systems remotely or even without a display, and a Synergy client for sharing a nearby mouse and keyboard with any Linux, MacOS or Windows machine that is part of your local network and acts as a Synergy server. Seems like a pretty big update. I'm keeping my eyes open for a nice PowerBook G4 so that I can re-review MorphOS somewhere in the near future.

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posted 3 months ago on OSNews
Metal. If the name sounds hardcore, it's because it's a hardcore improvement to the way games will be able to perform on iOS 8. Metal represents a much more no-nonsense approach to getting the most out of the Apple A7's gaming performance, assuring users of the iPhone 5S, iPad Air and iPad mini with Retina display that their devices will continue to be top-notch game systems come this fall. Right now in iOS 7 software called OpenGL ES sits in between the game and the core hardware that runs it, translating function calls into graphics commands that are sent to the hardware. It's a lot of overhead. And iOS 8 is getting rid of a lot of it. A nice overview of Apple's Metal.

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posted 3 months ago on OSNews
"With the introduction of the new Photos app and iCloud Photo Library, enabling you to safely store all of your photos in iCloud and access them from anywhere, there will be no new development of Aperture," an Apple spokesperson told TechCrunch. "When Photos for OS X ships next year, users will be able to migrate their existing Aperture libraries to Photos for OS X." Apple says that it will provide compatibility updates to Aperture that allow it to run on OS X Yosemite, but will not continue to develop it. In addition, it is working with Adobe to work on a transitionary workflow for users moving to Lightroom. If your workflow depends on Aperture, you might want to start planning for its demise.

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posted 3 months ago on OSNews
The success of Android has brought Linux to many millions of new users and that, in turn, has increased the development community for Linux itself. But those who value free software and privacy can be forgiven for seeing Android as a step backward in some ways; Android systems include significant amounts of proprietary software, and they report vast amounts of information back to the Google mothership. But Android is, at its heart, an open-source system, meaning that it should be possible to cast it into a more freedom- and privacy-respecting form. Your editor has spent some time working on that goal; the good news is that it is indeed possible to create a (mostly) free system on the Android platform. Meanwhile, some claim AOSP is a "featurephone" and a "barebones husk". It's always nice to see reality beat punditry.

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posted 3 months ago on OSNews
Chances are you've used something developed by Dutchman Bas Ording. Ording is responsible for the OS X dock (in fact, Steve Jobs hired him on the spot because Ording showed him dock magnification in 1998), the little pinheads for text selection and magnification in iOS, iOS' kinetic and bouncy scrolling, the pre-iOS 7 keyboard, and probably more. He's listed on a long list of Apple patents, including those Apple is asserting against its competitors. After about 15 years at the company as User Interface Designer, he left about a year ago for unknown reasons - until now. Speaking at a conference here in The Netherlands, and noted by Emerce (via Tweakers), Ording explains that he decided to leave Apple because he was fed up with having to appear in court. "Because my name is listed on patents, I increasingly had to appear in court cases versus HTC and Samsung," he said, "That started to annoy me. I spent more time in court than designing. Aside from that, I missed the interaction with Steve Jobs. We discussed matters every fourteen days." It's easy to forget - and I'm certainly guilty of that - that companies like Apple, in the end, consist of people like you and me, who dislike all this patent crap just as much as we do. Developers and designers working at Apple are not magically different from everyone else, and since developers almost unanimously dislike software patents, so do Apple's developers. It does make you wonder - how many more talented people have left companies like Apple and Microsoft for their patent aggression?

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posted 3 months ago on OSNews
The μg Project aims to provide a free, fully compatible replacement of the often used proprietary GAPPS package by Google. Very little information is available at this point, but I've always wondered why nobody ever tried to create open source replacements for the various Google Apps - most notably Google Play Services. This is clearly in its very early stages, but it'd be fantastic if we could one day have a drop-in replacement for Play Services, ensuring you could have a truly Google-free Android device while still being able to run applications that use the Play Services APIs.

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posted 3 months ago on OSNews
Google CEO Larry Page on privacy issues: I'm not trying to minimize the issues. For me, I'm so excited about the possibilities to improve things for people, my worry would be the opposite. We get so worried about these things that we don't get the benefits. I think that's what's happened in health care. We've decided, through regulation largely, that data is so locked up that it can't be used to benefit people very well. Right now we don't data-mine health care data. If we did we'd probably save 100,000 lives next year. I'm very worried that the media and governments will try to stoke the people's fears and we'll end up in a state where we could benefit a lot of people but we re not able to do that. That's the likely outcome. The problem is not that people aren't open to the possible benefits from information gleamed from large piles of data. No, the problem is that both governments and companies alike have a history of abusing and/or leaking this data. In other words, the people's skepticism is entirely the industry's own fault. Introspection, Mr. Page.

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posted 3 months ago on OSNews
This article explores where the KDE community currently stands and where it is going. Frameworks, Plasma, KDE e.V., Qt5, KDE Free Qt Foundation, QtAddons - you heard some of these terms and want to know what all the fuss is about? A set of articles on the Dot aims to bring some clarity in the changes and constants of the KDE community in 2014 and further. This is the first article, diving into the technical side of things: Plasma, applications and libraries. An update on where KDE stands today.

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posted 3 months ago on OSNews
So, the Google I/O keynote just finished, so I guess it's time to start summarising the most important announcements so we can go on to discuss them to death. Google announced a lot today - and most of it focused on Android. They detailed the next version of Android, dubbed the L release, which brings biggest visual overhaul of the platform since Honeycomb. Google calls it Material Design, and it covers every aspect from Google - from Android to web. Material Design covers both how the user interface looks and how it behaves - with entirely new animations, dynamic shadows, and Z-depth. It is accompanied by loads of new APIs - both on Android and for the web - to make all these new transitions and Z-depth as easy as possible to code, and to ensure it always runs at 60 FPS (both on Android and on the web). Material Design covers all screen sizes - from round watches to big televisions. There's a stylised video and

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posted 3 months ago on OSNews
Way back in 2009, I wrote about a few specific cases in which computers led to (subtle) changes in the Dutch language. While the changes highlighted in that article were subtle and not particularly substantial, there are cases around the world where computing threatens much more than a few subtle, barely noticeable features of a language. This article is a bit too politicised for my taste, but if you set that aside and focus on its linguistic and technological aspects, it's quite, quite fascinating. Urdu is traditionally written in a Perso-Arabic script called nastaliq, a flowy and ornate and hanging script. But when rendered on the web and on smartphones and the entire gamut of digital devices at our disposal, Urdu is getting depicted in naskh, an angular and rather stodgy script that comes from Arabic. And those that don’t like it can go write in Western letters. It'd be fantastic if Microsoft, Google, and Apple could include proper support for nastaliq into their products. It's one thing to see Dutch embrace a new method of displaying direct quotes under the influences of computers, but to see an entire form of script threatened is another.

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posted 3 months ago on OSNews
In the latest contest, not only did Linux dominate, but Linux showed that is slowly pushing out all its competitors. In the June 2014 Top 500 supercomputer list, the top open-source operating system set a new high with 485 systems out of the fastest 500 running Linux. In other words 97 percent of the fastest computers in the world are based on Linux. With numbers like this, it's easy to forget that this project started with the words "just a hobby, won't be big and professional like gnu". This hobby now dominates almost every field of computing - from mobile to supercomputing.

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posted 3 months ago on OSNews
Ever wanted to try LG's webOS for smart televisions, but without buying an LG TV? Fret not, as LG has the answer for you - there's an emulator in the SDK. You can download the SDK from here, and opt to only install the emulator. This is clearly geared towards developers, so there's not a whole lot you can do once you load up the emulator (a VirtualBox image), but for those of you interested in webOS development this is very interesting.

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posted 3 months ago on OSNews
The OnePlus One is among the most talked-about phones these days. Both because of its high-end features and affordable price, making it one of the flagship models of 2014, but also because it's... impossible to get one. These are my first impressions of the device so far. Read more on this exclusive OSNews article...

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posted 3 months ago on OSNews
Announced three weeks ago, the Diane Von Furstenberg accessory set offers five new frames and eight shades designed specifically for ladies. They're available for sale individually (i.e., separate from Glass, for existing Explorers) in the official online Glass store, and they're available with Glass on the luxury fashion site, Net-A-Porter. I haven't spent a whole many words on Google Glass on OSNews thus far, partly because these things are quite expensive and only available to a select group of Americans. Since this is as good a time as any to show my cards on Glass: I think Google has been botching, and continues to botch, the publicity around Glass in a spectacular way. They've been positioning it as a consumer product that you wear all the time, through all your daily activities, but I don't think that's where the real value of Glass (and technology like it) will come into its own. Glass is geeky, and while that's not really a bad thing in my book (no matter what certain looks-obsessed bloggers say), it does limit the device's appeal. They can make it really small and unobtrusive, but that'll raise concerns regarding privacy even more than Glass already does today. On top of that, I simply doubt that most people have any need for Glass in their regular, day-to-day life. No, I think the real value of Glass lies in an entirely different area Google seems to have been ignoring so far. It's a far less sexy area than the world of designer glasses and paragliders, but one that offers far, far more potential: 'traditional' workplaces. Construction. Road works. Law enforcement. The military. Farmers. Firefighters. Plumbers. Roofers. You name it. People who work with their hands in potentially dangerous environments, who can use the heads-up display for at-a-glance, crucial information while out in the field. In short, I think Glass could be huge for people who do what I admiringly refer to as "real work" (to differentiate it from my own job, which comes down to sitting behind a desk translating crap). Sadly, Google seems to ignore this area, overflowing with potential, completely, continuing down its path of trying to make Google Glass hip and fashionable. I am much more interested in seeing what Glass can do for the kinds of professions I just mentioned. Those traditional workers might not be VC-sexy, but I'm convinced they'd benefit a whole lot more from Glass than privileged tech bloggers, supermodels, and translators.

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