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Microsoft unveils new Lumias, Surface laptop
By Thom Holwerda on 2015-10-06 21:53:14

Microsoft announced a whole bunch of new products today - all from the devices team. We've got two new high-end Lumia phones, the 950 and 950XL. These phones have all the latest specifications, and peculiarly enough, they are water-cooled (I'm not joking). They obviously run Windows Phone 10, and support the Continuum feature, so you can hook them up to a monitor, keyboard, and mouse, and you'll be greeted by something that looks a lot like a regular windows 10 desktop. Universal application swill automatically scale between the two different screen sizes. Pretty nifty.

Microsoft also unveiled two new Surface devices: the Surface Pro 4 - a thinner, faster, and all-around better version of the Surface Pro 3 - but also the long-awaited Surface laptop, dubbed the Surface Book. The Surface Book is crazy powerful, has a beautiful display and full, regular keyboard, a crazy hinge that really sets it apart, and just like any other Surface, the screen can some off - but this time, using something Microsoft calls "Muscle Wire", electrified attachment points that keep the two parts firmly together - you can grab it by the screen and dangle it without any fear of the two parts disconnecting.

The keyboard half contains a discrete graphics chip and some batteries, while the rest of the computery parts are housed within the display. Microsoft makes some crazy claims about performance, but we'll have to see some proper benchmarks first. In any case, it looks like the kind of laptop Microsoft wanted its partner to build - but we all know something like this is simply beyond the capabilities of the likes of Dell or HP.

That being said, the Surface Book ain't cheap, and starts at $1500.

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Google posts Android 6.0 Marshmallow factory images
By Thom Holwerda on 2015-10-06 09:34:55

Last night, Google posted the Android 6.0 Marshmallow factory images online, for the Nexus 5, 6, 7 (2013), 9 (Wi-Fi), and Player. since these are factory images, you'll have to perform a wipe and install. If you don't want to go through the hassle of doing so, you'll have to wait for the OTA updates rolling out in the coming weeks.

If you want to take the plunge, AndroidCentral has a great guide on how to do so.

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EU's highest court rejects 'safe harbor' agreement with US
By Thom Holwerda on 2015-10-06 09:30:32

The European Court of Justice has just ruled that the transatlantic Safe Harbour agreement, which lets American companies use a single standard for consumer privacy and data storage in both the US and Europe, is invalid. The ruling came after Edward Snowden's NSA leaks showed that European data stored by US companies was not safe from surveillance that would be illegal in Europe.

This could have far-reaching consequences for Facebook, Apple, Google, Microsoft, and other US tech giants operating in Europe.

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Android 6.0 Marshmallow, thoroughly reviewed
By Thom Holwerda on 2015-10-06 09:24:46

If we were to ask for any new feature from a new Android version, it would be some kind of scalable update solution. Right now a custom update still needs to be built for every single individual device model, and that's really not a workable solution when you have more than 24,000 models out there. The Stagefright vulnerability seemed to be a wakeup call for the Android ecosystem, but it came too late to affect anything in Marshmallow. Google instituted monthly updates for Nexus devices, and OEMs are pledging to bring the monthly update program to flagship devices. The majority of Android devices, though - the low-end devices - are being ignored. Monthly updates for Google, Samsung, and LG flagships only works out to a very small percentage of the Android install base.

Android 6.0 could dispense gold nuggets and clean my bathroom for free, but as long as this update hell exists, it's all for naught.

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HP announces OpenSwitch
By Thom Holwerda on 2015-10-06 00:18:57

HP today announced the launch of the OpenSwitch community and a new open source network operating system (NOS). HP and key supporters, Accton Technology Corporation, Arista, Broadcom, Intel, and VMware, are delivering a community-based platform that provides developers and users the ability to accelerate innovation, avoid vendor lock-in, and realize investment protection as they rapidly build data center networks customized for unique business applications.

Here's the official OpenSwitch site - and I'll admit, this goes way over my head.

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Microsoft's new Windows Phones
By Thom Holwerda on 2015-10-05 19:35:58

The Lumia 950 and its bigger sibling are intended not as a revolution, but as a solid foundation to a brighter and better future for Microsoft's mobile efforts. They should be judged on that basis, not on whether they're able to make a dent in the Apple and Google duopoly. To achieve that lofty goal, Microsoft will need multiple generations of devices as well as the collaboration of other service providers willing to bring their apps to its platform. Tomorrow's event will be indicative of how progress is going along that path, while also giving us a pair of interesting new devices to talk about.

I have little to no hope for Windows Phone. It's done.

One interesting note for tomorrow's Microsoft event: there's rumblings and rumours about Google unveiling official Google applications for Windows 10 tomorrow. It's nothing solid, and take it with some salt, but it wouldn't be that surprising - just as Microsoft needed Apple almost 20 years ago, Google may need Microsoft today.

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Apple vs. Android usage stats on Pornhub
By Thom Holwerda on 2015-10-05 19:14:25

September means the beginning of sweater weather, the return of Pumpkin Spice Lattes and the launch of a new iPhone. Now that the highly anticipated iPhone 6s line has finally hit stores and is smashing sales records, the Pornhub statisticians have decided to dig through the data and found out what it is that separates iPhone-wielding Pornhub users from our Android-loyal visitors, in terms of how they interact with the site and what kinds of content they prefer. Currently, just over 60% of our traffic comes from mobile devices, so without any further ado, let's take a look at what makes each of these major subsets of Pornhub's viewership tick.

I didn't put the link in the copied blurb itself. The following link is to the company blog, and not the Pornhub site itself, so it's completely safe for work, and contains no nudity or otherwise inappropriate content, so you can read it for the interesting mobile stats without any worries. It's still a link to the Pornhub domain, so you might want to skip this one if you're on a work computer or someone else's machine.

Here's the link. And yes I find it totally hilarious the OSNews database now contains a link to the Pornhub domain.

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"Google's Nexus phones are just ads"
By Thom Holwerda on 2015-10-02 16:45:41

I've spent the past couple of days desperately trying to puzzle out the purpose behind Google's newly announced Nexus 5X and 6P smartphones. Unlike predecessors such as the Nexus One and Nexus 5, these phones don't have a clear reason for being, and are not in themselves terribly unique. That's led me (and others) to question Google's overall aim with the Nexus line of pure Android smartphones, and I think I've finally arrived at an answer. The Nexus program is not so much about carrier independence or purity of Android design as it is about presenting Google in an overwhelmingly positive light. In other words, Google, the ultimate ad seller, sells Nexus phones as ads for itself.

This article feels a bit like a trainwreck to me. It just doesn't make any sense. Of course Nexus devices are built specifically to put Android and Google's services on a pedestal - has anyone ever claimed otherwise? Has anyone ever seen them as anything but? The tone of the article also tries to somehow posit this as a negative thing, which I don't understand either. Some of the very best Android phones of all time have been Nexus phones, so aren't they a great thing for us consumers? What's the problem here?

Making Android profitable for Android phone makers is one of the great challenges of our time. We're all better off when we buy things from sustainable companies that we know will still be around when we have an issue months or years down the line. I wish Google would recognize that and try to do more to support Android as a whole rather than just its own good name. Nexus devices have in the past and can still serve nobler purposes than just making Google look good.

No, it's not. The goal of Android is to reach as many people as possible, and do so in a way that benefits us as consumers as much as possible. Expensive Android devices with 50% profit margins don't benefit us at all - they just allow major corporations to suck money out the economy and shadily funnel it to foreign tax havens. We benefit from access to high-quality phones at reasonable prices running Android-proper - and anything that pushes the Samsungs and HTCs of this world to do so is a huge win for consumers.

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El Capitan's System Integrity Protection
By Thom Holwerda on 2015-10-01 08:55:56

With El Capitan released, there's one 'feature' that really needs to be highlighted - for better or worse.

System Integrity Protection (SIP, sometimes referred to as rootless) is a security feature of OS X El Capitan, the operating system by Apple Inc. It protects certain system processes, files and folders from being modified or tampered with by other processes even when executed by the root user or by a user with root privileges (sudo). Apple says that the root user can be a significant risk factor to the system's security, especially on systems with a single user account on which that user is also the administrator. System Integrity Protection is enabled by default, but can be disabled.

Here's Apple's WWDC presentation about SIP, and here's the Ars review's section about it.

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Google, Microsoft end global patent fight over phones, Xbox
By Thom Holwerda, submitted by jonsmirl on 2015-09-30 23:45:33

Google and Microsoft have agreed to end their long-running patent feud over smartphones and video game systems, dropping about 20 lawsuits in the U.S. and Germany.

The two companies, which didn't disclose financial terms, have been litigating over technology innovations for five years. Google's former Motorola Mobility unit had been demanding royalties on the Xbox video-gaming system, and Microsoft had sought to block Motorola mobile phones from using certain features.

If you've been paying attention, you know why this is taking place now.

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