posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
Microsoft's had a variety of weird and wonderful consumer devices over the years that haven't gone so well. Jon Friedman, now chief designer of Office 365, has been at the center of Microsoft's notorious product failures, including the SPOT watches from 2004, ultra mobile PCs, the KIN phone, and the unreleased Courier device. At Microsoft's Build developer conference this week, Friedman reflected on his personal career at the software giant and why some of these products weren't successful. The Courier always seemed like a fascinating device to me, even though I wouldn't really know what to do with it.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
Today, we are pleased to announce that Visual Studio 15.8 Preview 1 contains an early preview of the SDK and tools to allow you to create your own 64-bit ARM (ARM64) apps. These tools answer the requests of many eager developers, and the development made possible with these tools represents the next step in the evolution of the Always Connected PC running Windows 10 on ARM.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
Support for Linux will enable you to create, test and run Android and web app for phones, tablets and laptops all on one Chromebook. Run popular editors, code in your favorite language and launch projects to Google Cloud with the command-line. Everything works directly on a Chromebook. Linux runs inside a virtual machine that was designed from scratch for Chromebooks. That means it starts in seconds and integrates completely with Chromebook features. Linux apps can start with a click of an icon, windows can be moved around, and files can be opened directly from apps. It's official now.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
After the previous post honing in specifically on the Google Duplex feature, it's time to take a look at all the other features coming to the Google Assistant. We announced our vision for the Google Assistant just two years ago at I/O, and since then, we've been making fast progress in bringing the Assistant to more people around the world to help them get things done. As of today, the Google Assistant is available on more than 500 million devices, it works with over 5,000 connected home devices, it's available in cars from more than 40 brands, and it's built right into the latest devices, from the Active Edge in the Pixel 2 to a dedicated Assistant key in the LG G7 ThinQ. Plus, it'll be available in more than 30 languages and 80 countries by the end of the year. Today at I/O, we're sharing our vision for the next phase of the Google Assistant, as we make it more naturally conversational, visually assistive, and helpful in getting things done. The new features will roll out over the coming months.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
This is both the scariest and the most amazing technology Google demoed on stage during I/O today. Today we announce Google Duplex, a new technology for conducting natural conversations to carry out “real world” tasks over the phone. The technology is directed towards completing specific tasks, such as scheduling certain types of appointments. For such tasks, the system makes the conversational experience as natural as possible, allowing people to speak normally, like they would to another person, without having to adapt to a machine. You must listen to the recorded conversations where a computer is making appointments with a hair salon and restaurant. The computer-generated half of the conversation sounds incredibly natural, with interruptions, "uhs", and so on. It even managed to fully understand the heavy accent of the restaurant worker, which even I had a hard time understanding at times. I am absolutely stunned this is even possible. This is downright amazing, and will be built into the Google Assistant - so it can make appointments for you. While I doubt I'd ever even want to use something like this, there's no denying the technology is incredibly advanced. I am wondering, though, about the possible negative consequences of this technology, especially combined with advanced video editing tools.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
Ten years ago, when we launched the first Android phone - the T-Mobile G1 - it was with a simple but bold idea: to build a mobile platform that's free and open to everyone. Today, that idea is thriving - billions of people around the world rely on their Android phone every day. To make Android smarter and easier to use than ever, today we're unveiling a beta version of Android P, the next release of Android. There's tons of new features, mostly about Android trying to anticipate what you want to do next. Android P takes Android's already pretty good inter-application communication a step further, by exposing actions and even parts of applications outside of the applications themselves, with App Actions and Slices. App Actions, for instance, help you get to your next task more quickly by predicting what you want to do next. Say you connect your headphones to your device, Android will surface an action to resume your favorite Spotify playlist. Actions show up throughout Android in places like the Launcher, Smart Text Selection, the Play Store, the Google Search app and the Assistant. Actions are a simple but powerful way for helping you get what you need quickly; but what if we could surface part of the app itself, right when you need it most? Slices do just that, giving you an even deeper look into your favorite apps. If you search for "Lyft" in Google Search, you can see an interactive Slice that gives you the price and time for a trip to work, and it’s interactive so you can quickly order the ride. Other than that, Android P also brings gesture navigation to Android, to deal with phones with smaller bezels. Furthermore, Google put a lot of emphasis on what it calls "digital wellbeing", which aims to make you more aware of how and how often you use your phone. For instance, a feature called Wind Down will make the screen go black and white at a chosen time, encouraging you to put the phone down and go to sleep, and Dashboard gives you detailed information about how you use your phone. The beta version of Android P is available starting today, for Pixel phones and a variety of other phones.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
Now that iOS and Android are approaching technical maturity, new updates to these operating systems no longer feel revolutionary. The new stuff we get every year is boiling down to smarter notification handling, under-the-hood upgrades, screen notch adaptations, and “borrowing” good ideas from one another. As Google prepares to take the wraps off its next big iteration, Android P, at Google I/O 2018, I have an idea for an alliterative theme: make it Android P for Privacy. Fully agreed with Vlad Savov. Sadly, the lack of encryption in Google's new chat feature doesn't bode well.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
Interesting little tidbit from Microsoft's Build developer conference: Updates helping you support the Fluent Design System, so you can create immersive, deeply engaging experiences with Microsoft's updated design language. Now every organization can make beautiful solutions that empower your customers to do more. With UWP XAML Islands, you can access the more capable, flexible, powerful XAML controls regardless which UI stack you use - whether it's Windows Forms, WPF, or native Win32. It seems like Microsoft is giving developers of Win32 applications the option to add Fluent Design to their applications.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
We're taking this leak with a grain of salt: it's either a perfectly executed set of Photoshopped images (along with very accurate timestamps) or the real deal. Supposing that it's real, Gabriel Bryne, whom I can't find anything tangible about, has somehow managed to get his hands on the Android P DP2 beta and installed it on his Pixel. He then did what any sensible man with a super secret Android release would do and took a bunch of screenshots and images of the interface. Some interesting possibilities for Android P, which will probably be demoed later today during the Google I/O keynote.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
But I do believe that the old Mac makes for a timely reminder that the digital age hasn't always felt so frantic, or urgent, or overwhelming. And maybe, even if an old Mac interface isn't the solution, we can view it as a subtle north star for its sensibilities, and how much it was able to accomplish with so little. This story is far too light on details and quite fluffy, and the final sentence quoted above is far too simplistic - "how much it was able to accomplish" was, in fact, quite little compared to today's machines - but it's interesting to see people discovering the classic Macintosh operating system for the first time, and recognizing its many fun little affordances that made using it so pleasant. Personally, I consider Mac OS 9 to have one of the most pleasant and usable graphical user interfaces ever designed. Sure, the underlying operating system was a grossly outdated technical mess by that point, but the many subtle animations, the spatial Finder, the consistent and elegantly understated Platinum looks made the UI a pleasure to use, to this very day. And considering I never used the classic Mac OS back when it was current, this isn't a case of rose-tinted nostalgia; I didn't get to try out OS 9 until 2005 or so. I wish Apple's current software designers were forced to use the classic Platinum UI for a month or two, just to experience what it was like. Maybe they'd step up their game, because as it stands today, macOS' UI is mere shadow of OS 9.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
I was at Microsoft's campus in Redmond a week before the Build developer conference, and I wanted to know what was going on with Windows after a reorg split the team into different divisions. Was Microsoft really preparing itself for a world without Windows? Nadella was ready to tell me that Windows isn't going away - of course Windows isn't going away - but he also wanted to explain his latest buzzwordy vision for the future of the Microsoft: AI, Intelligent Cloud, and Intelligent Edge. Windows might still be here, but after talking to Nadella, I did get the sense that Windows is no longer as central to the company's future plans as it once was. Instead of trying to make everything run on Windows (as his predecessor Steve Ballmer was trying to do), Nadella wants to ensure that everything can work with Windows. The decline of Windows is definitely overblown in the media, but Microsoft did miss the next big thing by a thousand miles, and mindshare-wise, this has had enormous consequences. It hasn't hurt Microsoft much financially though, and you can be sure Windows isn't going anywhere any time soon.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
Tomorrow at Google I/O’s developers keynote, we will see the official launch of Flutter Beta 3. This beta is an important step towards the 1.0 build for Flutter, with a heavy focus on solidifying the improvements that Google has been working since they launched the initial Flutter Beta. First and foremost among those improvements is the implementation of the Dart 2 programming language. The second version of Dart was designed specifically with the challenges that early Flutter builds ran into in mind, and brings some substantial changes, including strong typing, cleaner syntax, and an updated developer tool chain. Flutter and Dart are also important parts of Fuchsia. And on that note, might I point out that Fuchsia is getting support for ART, the Android Runtime?

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
Android Things is Google's managed OS that enables you to build and maintain Internet of Things devices at scale. We provide a robust platform that does the heavy lifting with certified hardware, rich developer APIs, and secure managed software updates using Google's back-end infrastructure, so you can focus on building your product. After a developer preview with over 100,000 SDK downloads, we're releasing Android Things 1.0 to developers today with long-term support for production devices. Developer feedback and engagement has been critical in our journey towards 1.0, and we are grateful to the over 10,000 developers who have provided us feedback through the issue tracker, at workshop events, and through our Google+ community. Google is promising three years of security updates, straight from Google itself.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
This has been bugging me for a while - definitely since iOS 11 was unveiled last June and probably before then. I have no clue what Apple's strategy is with their iOS app icon sets, other than to resign myself to the truth that there isn't one. For simplicity, I'm focusing on just the share icon in this post (what Apple formally calls the 'action' button) but these criticisms apply much more widely. iOS is, indeed, an inconsistent mess when it comes to user interface design. Every application looks and feels different, which trips me up all the time. Android is a little bit better in this regard thanks to Material Design, but that's really not saying much. And you know what? I'd rather have misaligned ports I never see at the bottom of my phone than inconsistent UI design I look at multiple times a day.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
A years-old privacy flaw will finally be coming to an end on Android. It's an issue you've probably never heard of, but one that you should absolutely be concerned about. Currently, apps on Android can gain full access to the network activity on your device - even without asking for any sensitive permissions. These apps can't detect the content of your network calls, but they can sniff any outgoing or incoming connection via TCP/UDP to determine if you are connecting to a certain server. For instance, an app can detect when another app on your device connects to a financial institution’s server. Don’t believe me? Just download one of the many netstat apps on the Play Store and see for yourself. I had no idea this was an issue at all. Good to see it fixed, and since it'll probably be part of a monthly security update, it'll propagate to most Android devices.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
So the objective here was to take a C64 breadbin case and keyboard and put a Raspberry Pi 3 into it; keeping the keyboard and joystick ports working, but also giving me HDMI, USB controller support, and modem emulation. While I still have 2 real Commodore 64s (and an Ultimate64 on the way!), I like using the RPi and Vice to play 64 games. These mounts do not require you to drill or cut your C64 case! The 3D files are provisioned under the creative commons license so they are FREE to use, distribute, modify, or even sell. Just a fun project.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
Sharing from one app to another has been a mainstay of Android for years and years. It was one of the features that first drew me to Android: no more copying and pasting, no more having to open Twitter or WhatsApp to send a picture I just saw in my Gallery. Apps could talk to each other and the experience felt more cohesive and seamless. But with time, the Share UI in Android has languished, stuck with the same features and same problems. It switched from a vertical list to a horizontal one, it added direct share in Android 6.0 and app pinning in Android 7.0, yet these felt like putting lipstick on a pig: the Share UI remains slow, bloated, convoluted, and if you pay close attention to it, one of the most inconsistent experiences on Android to date. Android P, like Oreo before it, appears to bring no improvements to the Share interface, but that's a big oversight in our opinion. It's high time Google gave it the attention it deserved and fixed its many issues. The share sheet on Android is, indeed, a mess. It's odd how such an important aspect of one of Android's major strong points - inter-application communication - is being left to rot.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
RISC OS 5.24 has been released. The headline features see previously neglected areas of RISC OS dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st Century, with JPEG support, monitor EDID support, handling of larger hard drives, and the network stack being upgraded. The bounty system is delivering some really worthwhile enhancements into the software. USB and network stack improvements are a massive undertaking, and ROOL broke each into several stages to make them more manageable. There are also some genuine improvements to user features such as clipboard improvements and new features in Paint. Lots of applications have received little tweaks such as unicode and fancy fonts in Chars, improved dialogs in Printers, tweaks to HForm, DosFS, Maestro, more secure LanmanFS which can connect to Windows 8 and 10, etc. RISC OS 5.24 is freely available for Raspberry Pi machines.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
By far, the worst part of working on beets is dealing with filenames. And since our job is to keep track of your files in the database, we have to deal with them all the time. This post describes the filename problems we discovered in the project's early days, how we address them now, and some alternatives for the future.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
Following Facebook's acknowledgement that it had let a political ad targeting firm scrape the personal data of 87 million users, I rushed to see what kind of personal data the social network and Google had gathered on me. Both had more information, reaching back longer, than I had envisioned. So Apple was next. I use an iPhone, iPad and two Mac computers, and Apple also offers data downloads in the privacy section of its website. It's hard to find, and once you do make the connection, you can expect a hefty wait to get the results. But don't expect to stay up all night reading what Apple has on you. Hint: it ain't much.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
I’ve been a professional Free Software developer in the GNU/Linux area for 14 years now, and a hobbyist developer and user for much longer. For some reason that never extended much to the smartphone world, beyond running LineageOS on my older phones (my current Sony Xperia is still under warranty and I’m fine with the officially supported Android), and various stabs at using the Ubuntu phone (RIP!). On a few long weekends this year it got a hold of me, and I had a look over the Google fence to see how Free Software is doing on Android and how to reduce my dependency on Google Play Services and Google apps. Less because I would actually severely distrust Google, as they have a lot of business and goodwill to lose if they ever majorly screw up; but more because of simple curiosity and for learning new things. I want to note down my experience here for sharing and discussing. I started experimenting on my old Nexus 4 by completely blanking it and installing current LineageOS 14.1 without the Google apps. This provides a nice testing ground that is completely free of any proprietary Google stuff. From that I can apply good solutions on my "production" Xperia. One of those topics not particularly suited for most smartphone users, but among OSNews readers, there are sure to be quite a few people who are interested in this.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
But if we can't change our behaviors, maybe we can change our devices. Enter the minimalist phone: a phone that does less. Over the course of a few weeks, I tried out four different phones - the Unihertz Jelly, the Nokia 3310 3G, the Punkt MP01, and the Light Phone - in an effort to curb how much time I spend needlessly scrolling and refreshing. Not every one of these phones is intentionally minimalist, but each came with unique limitations, built-in throttles that would effectively discourage anyone from wallowing in the stupor of infinite feeds. I was looking for a change. I was looking for salvation. But when it was all over, I came crawling back to my iPhone. It shouldn't be this hard to find a good feature phone. I'm pretty sure we have more readers longing for a good feature phone than most websites, and those of you who have that longing should be able to pick up a good feature phone - not some crappy fashion statement that is frustrating to use.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
A 20th anniversary is a milestone worthy of celebration in its own right, but even more so when describing a computer. Few technology products boast such a feat in an industry where changing customer preference and exponential technical advancement can quickly obsolete even the most well-considered plans. This Sunday, Apple's iMac line joins the 20-year club. Its ticket to entry is two decades of valuable lessons and ideas that tell the recent history of the personal computer industry and reveal Apple's priorities and values. The iMac's timeline tells many stories - some of reinvention and business strategy, others of software and hardware. Perhaps none are more significant than the iMac's design story. Explorations of color, form, material, and miniaturization have marked significant breakthroughs throughout the years. On this anniversary week, we'll take a look at the design evolution of the iMac. The iMac G4 is definitely my favourite iMac. I've owned all types of iMac - the G3, G4, G5, and various Intel models - and the latest incarnation, the iMac Pro, is definitely on my list of things I'd love to buy if I win the lottery.

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
When you set a password for your Twitter account, we use technology that masks it so no one at the company can see it. We recently identified a bug that stored passwords unmasked in an internal log. We have fixed the bug, and our investigation shows no indication of breach or misuse by anyone. Out of an abundance of caution, we ask that you consider changing your password on all services where you've used this password. You can change your Twitter password anytime by going to the password settings page. I like how the story is titled "Keeping your account secure".

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posted about 1 month ago on OSNews
Your devices are tracking you all the time. You just don’t know it yet. When you consent to sharing your data with many popular apps, you’re also allowing app developers to collect your data and sell it to third parties through trackers that supply advertisers with detailed information about where you live, work, and shop. In November 2017, Yale Privacy Lab detected trackers in over 75% of the 300 Android apps it analyzed. A March 2018 study of 160,000 free Android apps found that more than 55% of trackers tried to extract user location, while 30% accessed the device’s contact list. And a 2015 analysis of 110 popular free mobile apps revealed that 47% of iOS apps shared geo-coordinates and other location data with third parties, and personally identifiable information, like names of users (provided by 18% of iOS apps), was also provided. These are particularly nasty trackers, since it's generally more difficult to block them.

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