Exploring the Future of Computing
Updated: 9 min 15 sec ago
Monthly security updates will come from Google (for all models), and system updates will be managed by Verizon for Verizon models, and Google for unlocked models bought from Google Store.
Pixels bought at Best Buy are the Verizon models, so system updates for those, too, will be managed by Verizon. Combined with the news that Verizon models will have a locked bootloader and come with Verizon crapware, it's pretty clear that Americans among us should really, really opt to buy the Pixel outright from the Google Store. Yes, that means higher upfront costs, but you'll have lower monthly expenses, proper updates, and an unlocked bootloader.
Anybody with even an ounce of common sense should avoid Verizon Pixels like the plague.
A big challenge in sharing digital information around the world is "tofu" - the blank boxes that appear when a computer or website isn't able to display text: â¯. Tofu can create confusion, a breakdown in communication, and a poor user experience.
Five years ago we set out to address this problem via the Noto - a.k.a. "No more tofu" - font project. Today, Google's open-source Noto font family provides a beautiful and consistent digital type for every symbol in the Unicode standard, covering more than 800 languages and 110,000 characters.
A single font with a uniform style covering 110000 characters - this is quite impressive.
Earlier today, Apple cancelled my developer account and has removed Dash from the App Store.
Dash is quite a popular application from a lauded developer, Bogdan Popescu, and yesterday, when he broke the news, he had no idea what the reasoning was. Other famous Apple developers expressed their worries, and now we have an update from Popescu, with Apple's explanation:
Apple contacted me and told me they found evidence of App Store review manipulation. This is something I've never done.
Apple's decision is final and canât be appealed.
I can't update Dash for iOS anymore and I can't distribute it outside of the App Store.
Dash for macOS will continue to be supported outside of the App Store. If you purchased Dash on the Mac App Store, you should migrate your license as soon as possible. At the moment you are not able to download Dash from your App Store's Purchases tab anymore, so if you lose access to your currently activated version of Dash you won't be able to migrate your license anymore.
Apple has pretty much nuked his entire account from orbit. Even people who own Dash can no longer install it from the Mac App Store - they'll have to migrate their license. Dash for iOS can't be distributed this way, of course, and is pretty much done.
Dash is quite a popular tool among Apple developers, and it seems incredibly unlikely that its developer would need to resort to manipulate App Store reviews, but obviously, none of us know the whole story. For all we know, a competitor manipulated the reviews.
In any event, all this - again, sadly - illustrates what I've been saying for years: building your business atop Apple's iOS or Mac App Store is a terrible business decision. You are completely and fully at Apple's whim, and while you may have some recourse if you're favoured by Apple's popular bloggers who can bring your case to the limelight, if you're not... Well, too bad for you.
Google, of Android operating system fame, released its first Pixel smartphones Tuesday to replace its Nexus lineup. HTC has been selected to assemble the device, becoming for Google what Foxconn is to Apple. "Google has done the design work and a lot of the engineering," the Mountain View-based company's hardware chief Rick Osterloh told Bloomberg News.
Ouch! That's gotta hurt. After spending years building its design and engineering chops, HTC has been demoted to water boy. Supplying Google with smartphones isn't a victory -- it's an embarrassing end to HTC's decade-long campaign to break out of that contract-manufacturing business and stand on its own two feet.
Sure, sure, I see your point - or, and bear with me here, because this might shock you, but maybe, just maybe, being a manufacturer of someone else's phones might actually be a more stable, more profitable, and wiser business decision in the long term.
We've seen Google put out job listings for a position that would indicate they wanted to create custom chips, and we have even seen this backed up by additional reports as well. We received confirmation that Google is indeed building custom silicon, but we aren't told the extent to which Google will customize their own chips (whether it will be custom a CPU, GPU or both). At least we get an idea as to what Google is working on.
Google is taking this Pixel endeavour quite seriously.
Yahoo Inc last year secretly built a custom software program to search all of its customers' incoming emails for specific information provided by U.S. intelligence officials, according to people familiar with the matter.
The company complied with a classified U.S. government directive, scanning hundreds of millions of Yahoo Mail accounts at the behest of the National Security Agency or FBI, said two former employees and a third person apprised of the events.
Some surveillance experts said this represents the first case to surface of a U.S. Internet company agreeing to a spy agency's demand by searching all arriving messages, as opposed to examining stored messages or scanning a small number of accounts in real time.
Ars Technica contacted various technology companies to ask them if they were ever subjected to the same FBI demands:
A spokeswoman for Microsoft, Kim Kurseman, e-mailed Ars this statement, and also declined further questions: âWe have never engaged in the secret scanning of email traffic like what has been reported today about Yahoo.â
For its part, Google was the most unequivocal. Spokesman Aaron Stein e-mailed: "We've never received such a request, but if we did, our response would be simple: 'no way.'"
PDFium is the Google open-source project for PDF support in Google Chrome. PDFium was previously closed-source based upon Foxit PDF technology while now it's been fully open-source since 2014.
The Pepper API Flash implementation is also what's used by Google's Chrome web-browser. By switching to the PAPI-based Flash, Firefox would be able to finish getting rid of their NPAPI support with the Firefox Flash support still relying upon it with Shumway and other projects not panning out.
Google unveiled a whole slew of new hardware products today, most notably its Pixel phones. You already know all the specifications and how it looks, so I won't bore you with the specifications details. Two good points about the Pixel phones: they come with easy on-device access to 24/7 phone and chat support with real Google people (...but what if it doesn't boot?), and it has a supposedly really great camera with no bump.
The bad news about the Pixel? The pricing. Oh boy the pricing. The small Pixel costs a whopping â¬759, the bigger Pixel costs â¬869 (German pricing). That's absolutely crazytown, and I simply don't know if the Google brand has what it takes, hardware-wise, to go toe-to-toe with Samsung and Apple. More bad news: it's barely available anywhere. It's only available in the few markets where iOS is really strong (US, UK, Canada, Australia), and Germany, but nowhere else. Not in the rest of mainland Europe (an Android stronghold), not in Japan, not in China, not in South America (another Android stronghold).
As a Dutch person, this is especially grating because virtually all of these goods are shipped to Europe from the port of Rotterdam, where they lie in warehouses before being shipped off. But not to The Netherlands. Anyhow, I just find it perplexing that in 2016, product launches are still nation state-restricted.
Honestly though, I like the Pixel phones. I was a little apprehensive when looking at the leaks, but with the higher-quality announcements, product videos, and hands-on photos and videos coming out, it's starting to grow on me. I definitely would have liked a more outspoken design, but then I remember that the best modern smartphone I've ever had was my beloved, cherished Nexus 5 - not exactly a beacon of extravagance - which just feels great in the hand, mostly thanks to the excellent type of plastic used on the orange-red model I have, but also thanks to its unassuming, generic shape.
Maybe I don't know what I want. I deeply dislike the design of my pink iPhone 6S (except for the pink, of course, that's still awesome), but at the same time, it feels pretty great in the hand, so I can't really fault Apple or Google or Samsung sticking to the generic, default shape we've settled on. The same applies to my current phone - a Nexus 6P - which is a pretty 'safe' design, too.
Google also unveiled - again - Google Home, its Alexa competitor, and an updated version of ChromeCast, which can now stream 4K video. They also demonstrated the first Daydream VR headset, which uses a Google Pixel - or any other future Daydream-compatible Android phone - as its display. Tying all of these devices together is Google Assistant, a souped-up Google Now with a conversational interface. It's difficult to say how useful Google Assistant will be beyond the staged demos. Like the Pixel, these devices are only available to a very small group of people - the US, mostly - save for the new ChromeCast.
So, why is Google getting into the hardware game for real this time?
That's why today Google is unveiling an entire, interconnected hardware ecosystem: two phones, an intelligent speaker, a VR headset, a Wi-Fi router, and a media-streaming dongle. And the most important parts of that ecosystem - the Pixel phone and Google Home speaker - exist to be the ideal vessels for the Google Assistant. The rest of the products fill out Google's ecosystem, but are also enhanced by Google's cloud-based intelligence.
In making its own hardware, Google is pitting itself against Apple for the first time, Google phone vs. iPhone. Those are very high stakes, with very little margin for error. So it looks like Google decided to follow a simple dictum:
If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself.
I'd like to add something to that dictum: you have to make sure people can actually buy your stuff. Google has a lot of work to do on that one.
On Saturday, the U.S. government plans to cede control of some of the internet's core systems - namely, the directories that help web browsers and apps know where to find the latest weather, maps and Facebook musings.
The U.S. has been in charge of these systems for more than three decades; plans to transfer control of these functions to a nonprofit oversight organization have been in the works since the late 1990s. Some Republicans in Congress raised late objections over the transfer, which they termed a "giveaway" to the rest of the world. But they failed to block the move in a spending bill to keep the government operating.
Here's a look at the systems in question and what's at stake for internet users.
So how do the Atari ST sales and marketshare actually stack up?
According to research by Reimer, who gathered his figures from various annual reports, International Data Corp (IDC) forecasts, Gartner Dataquest research, as well as a few magazine articles from the 1980s (most of which have gone dark online since originally compiled, unfortunately). The numbers were pretty grim for both platforms when looking at the larger overall marketshare picture.
Recent additions to MenuetOS include SMP support for up to 32 processors, support for 32GB RAM, support for time-critical, non-preempting processes, additions to window transparency, improved USB webcam and storage support, context-mixing compressor, WebCall (IP to IP with audio and video), streaming audio (internet radio) and video support - all written 100% in 64bit x86 assembly.
Tomorrow, Google will unveil two new phones, and for the first time, they won't be Nexus devices. So much has been leaked now that we know pretty much everything there is to know about these Pixel phones. With every Android manufacturer except Samsung in a death spiral, while Samsung's phones are having 'issues', it makes sense for Google to try and assert more control over what used to be the Nexus line. The result will be devices carrying Google's own Pixel brand.
One aspect of the rumours and leaks that caught my attention was this bit:
Making two high-end phones with all the bells and whistles, just as ready for the future as they are today is a step in the right direction. Buying billboards and commercial space during sports events so people know you're doing it is another step. Speculation about having a well-trained support staff that you can reach anytime from anywhere through the phone's settings points to yet another. If Google builds a better mousetrap and makes sure everyone knows they built a better mousetrap, the world may beat a path to their door.
If Google is really going to pursue a serious effort to expand the Nexus (okay, Pixel) appeal beyond us nerds, it's going to need more than billboards in New York. It's going to need these phones to be front and centre with carriers, smartphone stores, and online stores. It's going to need an aggressive marketing campaign to capture the attention of people who would otherwise just opt for an iPhone or Galaxy, and explain to them why they should abandon the two major brands they know.
Most of all, though, Google is going to need a support structure for these phones. For reasons that are still unclear to me, my Nexus 6P is not receiving its monthly security patches anymore, and I have no idea why. Sure, I can figure it out by browsing or posting on XDA or diving deep into my phone's software (and I will), but I'm a nerd, so set those options aside for a moment - where would I go with an issue like this? Who would I contact for help? Can I walk into a Google Store or whatever and get some sanctioned support for this issue?
The answer is - as with anything related to Google and support - a firm and resounding 'no'. If Google really wants to take its Pixel phones to the masses, it's going to need a sales and support structure that goes well beyond store.google.com and XDA.
How often have you taken a gadget or a pair of shoes in for repair and found out that fixing it will cost more than buying a new version? Too often, that's how often. And Sweden is trying to fix this, by halving the tax paid on repairs and increasing taxes on unrepairable items.
The new proposals come from the ruling coalition of the Social Democrat and Green parties, and, if successfully enacted, would be accompanied by a publicity campaign to encourage Swedes to repair products instead of replacing them.
I am a proponent of this, and feel like we should push especially electronics companies much harder to release information about parts, repairs, diagnostics, and so on, to ensure that consumers are not at the whims of the Apples and Samsungs of this world when it comes to defective products.
In response to cars becoming ever more complex, lawmakers all across the United States and Europe started proposing and passing bills to ensure that independent repairs shops and dealers would have access to the same kind of information that first-party dealers get or to make sure that vehicle warranties were not voided simply because you brought your car to a third-party repair shop.
We should strive for similar laws for electronics. Much like cars, if your smartphone is broken, you should be able to bring it into any repair shop to have it fixed, by forcing electronics companies, like car manufacturers, to release repair, parts, and diagnostics information, without said repair voiding any warranties. I see no reason why electronics companies should enjoy a special status.
And yes, this includes forcing companies to provide software updates for a set amount of time, especially when it comes to security flaws and bugs. Software has enjoyed its special little world wherein it's treated like a delicate little flower you can't demand too much from for long enough. The failure rate of the software we use every day is immense, but if we keep letting companies get away with the shoddy work they deliver, this will only get worse.
Today we're launching the third developer preview of Android Wear 2.0 with a big new addition: Google Play on Android Wear. The Play Store app makes it easy for users to find and install apps directly on the watch, helping developers like you reach more users.
Okay that's great and all, but where's the release and where are the new watches?
We've gotten tons of great feedback from the developer community about Android Wear 2.0 - thank you! We've decided to continue the preview program into early 2017, at which point the first watches will receive Android Wear 2.0. Please keep the feedback coming by filing bugs or posting in our Android Wear Developers community, and stay tuned for Android Wear Developer Preview 4.
Oh okay. Well, not that it matters for me personally anyway - I'm an early adopter and one of those idiots who bought the first generation Moto 360.
Our new Mobility Solutions strategy is showing signs of momentum, including our first major device software licensing agreement with a telecom joint venture in Indonesia. Under this strategy, we are focusing on software development, including security and applications. The company plans to end all internal hardware development and will outsource that function to partners. This allows us to reduce capital requirements and enhance return on invested capital.
End of an era, but not exactly unexpected. This leaves the Priv as the only - ad probably last - modern keyboard smartphone, which is really, really too bad.
A number of features or background services communicate with Google servers despite the absence of an associated Google account or compiled-in Google API keys. Furthermore, the normal build process for Chromium involves running Google's own high-level commands that invoke many scripts and utilities, some of which download and use pre-built binaries provided by Google. Even the final build output includes some pre-built binaries. Fortunately, the source code is available for everything.
ungoogled-chromium tries to fix these things.
By the end of 2015 Mozilla leadership had come to the conclusion that our then Firefox OS initiative of shipping phones with commercial partners would not bring Mozilla the returns we sought. We made the first of a series of announcements about changes in the development of Firefox OS at Mozilla. Since then we have gradually wound down that work and, as of the end of July 2016 have stopped all commercial development on Firefox OS. This message recaps what transpired during that period of time and also describes what will happen with the Firefox OS code base going forward.
Symbian, Sailfish OS, BlackBerry OS, Windows Phone, Firefox OS.
I'm incredibly excited that this morning at our Ignite conference in Atlanta we launched the newest release of our server operating system - Windows Server 2016! Now that we're ready to share it with the world, I want to take a moment to thank our customers who helped shape this exciting release. Windows Server 2016 is jam-packed with innovation and customer response has been overwhelming, with more than half a million devices running our final Technical Preview which we released five months ago. These customers range from large global enterprises to private cloud hosters to organizations of every size from every corner of the globe.
Update: more confirmation!
With Google's event fast approaching on 4 October, the rumour mill is in full swing. We know we're going to get new 'made by Google' phones, which will drop the Nexus brand in favour of Pixel. However, there's going to be more to watch out for - everything is lining up for 4 October being a major turning point in Android's relatively recent history.
If the rumours are to be believed - and with so many different sources all pointing towards the same thing, you can probably believe them - Google will unveil not just a few new phones, but a new operating system altogether, dubbed Andromeda. And, just like we've been talking about for a long time, this is the operating system that combines Android and Chrome OS into a desktop/laptop operating system.
As 9to5google reports:
Why so many mentions of Nexus 9 specifically in tandem with Andromeda? We asked the same question, and from what we can gather, Google is testing the Chrome OS/Android hybrid on the tablet. An anonymous source has told us of users running early builds of Andromeda on the Nexus 9, but we have not been able to obtain direct confirmation from those users. Why would Google be testing Andromeda on the Nexus 9? We don't know.
But we do know that Andromeda is aimed at making Android better suited for devices like laptops, as well as 2-in-1s (like the unfortunately mediocre Pixel C) and perhaps tablets. Another interesting tidbit to note: it seems that the hidden free form window management feature that popped up in Nougat (but isn't user-facing) could appropriately see its debut with Andromeda. "SurfaceCompositionMeasuringActivity.java" mentions "Detect Andromeda devices by having free-form window management feature."
The fact that Google is working on merging Android and Chrome OS is hardly news, but as more and more details come out, it seems to indeed be the case that Google is working on not just a smartphone operating system or a tablet operating system, but a full-fledged laptop/desktop operating system, complete with the kind of freeform window management we've come to expect from operating systems like MacOS and Windows.
This is further confirmed by AndroidPolice:
Two independent and reliable sources have confirmed to us that Google is planning a new Pixel laptop to be released in Q3 2017. The project, known internally as 'Bison' and by the informal nickname 'Pixel 3,' will likely be the first brand-new device to showcase Google's combined Android / Chrome OS 'Andromeda' operating system in a laptop form factor. Bison, then, would be the culmination of years of work by Google's Pixel team and Google's Android and Chrome OS teams.
We are extremely confident Google plans for the device to run Andromeda. We are also confident that Andromeda is a completely distinct effort from Google's current campaign to bring Android apps to Chromebooks, and that Bison would not be marketed as a Chromebook. Android apps on Chrome OS descended from the ARC project, while Andromeda is a much larger, more ambitious initiative that is being pursued via merging Chrome features into Android, not vice versa. As such, it would be more accurate to say Bison will run Android than Chrome OS, and could finally be Google's internal commitment to releasing Andromeda.
Taking all this into account, a tweet that came out late last week from Hiroshi Lockheimer, SVP of Android, Chrome and Google Play, is quite telling: "We announced the 1st version of Android 8 years ago today. I have a feeling 8 years from now we'll be talking about Oct 4, 2016."
Much like Apple's similar efforts, I'm excited about what's happening on the Android side of things. It's clear by now that Google has very ambitious plans about moving Android forward and scaling it up to work on not just phones and tablets, but on laptops and desktops as well. Up until relatively recently, such endeavours would've been futile, because 'new' operating systems could never challenge the hegemony of Windows and OS X, but in today's world, where more and more especially younger people no longer rely on staples like Microsoft Office, or could get by just fine with the surprisingly good Android and iOS versions of Office, there's an opening for the laptop/desktop world to be shaken up.
Now, a lot of this will, as always, depend on execution. I wouldn't be at all surprised to see Andromeda take a... Less laissez-faire approach to OEM and carrier customisations, and a more Chrome OS-like update policy (which is entirely free from meddling). There's also the question regarding Andromeda's relevance on phones - will it exist alongside 'classic' Android, or will Andromeda replace Android on phones and tablets as well? My guess would be yes - why unite Android and Chrome OS only to end up with another split - but that raises a whole bunch of other questions about possibly docking phones and using them with large screens and other input methods.
I'm ready for 4 October.
Well, file this in the "what the hell is going on" section. Chris Ziegler, long-time The Verge editor (and Engadget before that - he was part of the crew that started both Engadget and The Verge, if I'm not mistaken), had been missing from the site for a few months now - no posts, no tweets, nothing. Today, Nilay Patel revealed why.
First, Chris accepted a position at Apple. We wish him well.
Second, the circumstances of Chris' departure from The Verge raised ethical issues which are worth disclosing in the interests of transparency and respect for our audience. We're confident that there wasn't any material impact on our journalism from these issues, but they are still serious enough to merit disclosure.
Chris began working for Apple in July, but didn't tell anyone at The Verge that he'd taken a new job until we discovered and verified his dual-employment in early September. Chris continued actively working at The Verge in July, but was not in contact with us through most of August and into September. During that period, in the dark and concerned for Chris, we made every effort to contact him and to offer him help if needed. We ultimately terminated his employment at The Verge and Vox Media the same day we verified that he was employed at Apple.
So let me get this straight. One of The Verge's most prominent editors took a job at Apple - which is perfectly fine, we all change jobs - but then did not inform The Verge, continued to work for The Verge, then disappeared, still without informing The Verge, and then it took The Verge weeks to track him down and figure out what happened?
This story is completely bonkers, and I can assure you - this is not the whole story. According to John Gruber, Chris Ziegler is not listed in Apple's employee directory, and I personally have had this confirmed to me as well. Something really strange is going on here.