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Dive into the details of iOS 11: is Apple still detail-oriented?
By Thom Holwerda on 2017-09-21 10:59:23

The unfinished feeling in iOS 11 mostly comes from UI and animation. UI elements in iOS are quite inconsistent, mixing a variety of UI elements, which might look quite similar but introduce a disconnected feeling for UX. The inconsistency of those elements majorly stems from those UI element updated in iOS 11, such as Large Title and new Search Bar. In my opinion, those newly introduced elements, which might be unfamiliar and new even to Apple engineers, have caused many inconsistent UI experience in iOS 11.

Many of you will look at this and consider it a bunch of whiny nonsense, but the problem with Apple being lax on details is that it turns into a case of monkey see, monkey do. Third party developers will become lax as well, leading to an overall degradation of UI quality and consistency. This is the last thing iOS, which has never exactly been a visually consistent operating system to begin with, needs.

People go nuts because the ports on the bottom of a Samsung phone - which you effectively never look at - aren't aligned, yet, ever since iOS 7, Apple has basically been winging its iOS UI design and polish.

Something about grading on a curve.

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Google buys large part of HTC's smartphone team
By Thom Holwerda on 2017-09-21 10:59:09

Rick Osterloh, Google's senior vice president of hardware, writes:

About a year and a half ago, I joined Google to pursue my dream job to create compelling hardware products, built with Google's smarts at their core. As a first step, we brought together various consumer hardware-related efforts and established a single hardware organization within the company. Our team's goal is to offer the best Google experience - across hardware, software and services - to people around the world. Last fall, we introduced our first family of Made by Google products, including Pixel smartphones, Google Home, Google Wifi, Daydream View and Chromecast Ultra, and we're preparing to unveil our second generation of products on October 4. We're excited about the 2017 lineup, but even more inspired by what's in store over the next five, 10, even 20 years. Creating beautiful products that people rely on every single day is a journey, and we are investing for the long run.

That's why we've signed an agreement with HTC, a leader in consumer electronics, that will fuel even more product innovation in the years ahead. With this agreement, a team of HTC talent will join Google as part of the hardware organization. These future fellow Googlers are amazing folks we've already been working with closely on the Pixel smartphone line, and we're excited to see what we can do together as one team. The deal also includes a non-exclusive license for HTC intellectual property.

This may elicit some flashbacks to Google buying Motorola, but said purchase was more about patents than it was about the company's hardware business - and even after selling Motorola, it turned out this was actually a pretty good deal. Google's sale of Motorola supposedly was part of a series of deals with Samsung, which included a patent-sharing agreement and Samsung promising to stick closer to stock Android.

It seems like Google is feeling more confident now, and is willing to risk agitating Samsung by investing in their own hardware capabilities.

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Redox 0.3.3 released
By Thom Holwerda on 2017-09-20 12:23:46

Redox 0.3.3 has been released. Redox is an operating system written in Rust.

This release brings much lower memory usage with ISO - 480 MB instead of 1300 MB. There are also other bug fixes, features, and improvements.

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Swift 4.0 released
By Thom Holwerda on 2017-09-20 12:21:49

Swift 4 is now officially released! Swift 4 builds on the strengths of Swift 3, delivering greater robustness and stability, providing source code compatibility with Swift 3, making improvements to the standard library, and adding features like archival and serialization.

You can watch a quick overview of it by watching the WWDC 2017: What's New in Swift presentation, and try out some of the new features in this playground put together by Ole Begemann.

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iOS 11 on the 2017 iPad Pro 12.9" convinced me it's the future
By Thom Holwerda on 2017-09-19 21:52:06

iOS 11 has been released, and if you have an iPhone or iPad, you should really update right now. It's a big release, and especially iPad users will get to enjoy an overhauled user experience on their tablets. If you're not convinced, be sure to read the only two reviews you need: the one by fervent and enthusiastic (his enthusiasm for the iPad is infectious, in a good way) iPad user Federico Viticci, and the Ars Technica review written by Andrew Cunningham.

I've been using the betas on my 2017 iPad Pro 12.9", and it truly transforms how you use the iPad, to the point where I can use mine comfortably for work (translating, posting OSNews stories - like this one - and so on). No macOS or Windows laptop is as responsive and fluid as this iPad Pro, and the battery life of this machine is so good, it's probably illegal in 12 US states. Unlike macOS or Windows, I don't have to spend time fighting with iOS 11 to get it to do what I want, like fidgeting with windows, or anxiously managing battery life because otherwise I won't get through a day, or manage applications. And trust me, there's no PC - not even my own €4000 monster PC - that is as fluid and responsive as this iPad Pro.

The iPad Pro with iOS 11 is the truest realisation yet of it just works.

I'm not going to claim this is for everyone, or that you should ritually sacrifice your ThinkPad and run to the Apple Store and get the iPad Pro. However, after a few months of use, there's no way I'm ever going back to a traditional laptop. That being said - my only complaint about the 2017 iPad Pro 12.9" is an odd one: it's not a mobile device.

I am a sit down behind my desk kind of person. I work and compute behind a desk, with a large display at eye height and a comfortable chair. The iPad Pro isn't suited for this kind of work, as it forces you to look down, which due to back problems I cannot do for longer periods of time. What I really want is a small iOS box I can hook up a display, keyboard, and mouse to. Apple already makes such a box - the Apple TV - so I know they can do it. Mouse and keyboard support is probably coming to iOS over the coming years, and with the Mac Mini languishing, it feels like they might be working on just such a box.

I'd easily pay €500-700 for such a machine.

I know stating iOS is a great general purpose computing platform tends to be controversial - I myself have been skeptical about this very thing for years - but iOS 11 and the iPad Pro have utterly convinced me. This is the platform I want for laptop and desktop computer use. Windows and macOS feel like the past now.

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CCleaner downloads infected with malware
By Thom Holwerda on 2017-09-19 09:58:57

Talos recently observed a case where the download servers used by software vendor to distribute a legitimate software package were leveraged to deliver malware to unsuspecting victims. For a period of time, the legitimate signed version of CCleaner 5.33 being distributed by Avast also contained a multi-stage malware payload that rode on top of the installation of CCleaner. CCleaner boasted over 2 billion total downloads by November of 2016 with a growth rate of 5 million additional users per week. Given the potential damage that could be caused by a network of infected computers even a tiny fraction of this size we decided to move quickly. On September 13, 2017 Cisco Talos immediately notified Avast of our findings so that they could initiate appropriate response activities. The following sections will discuss the specific details regarding this attack.

Don't use registry cleaners. They serve no purpose.

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HP shows us what a real workstation looks like with a 56-core Z8
By Thom Holwerda on 2017-09-19 09:55:42

If you're a demanding computer user, sometimes your 13-inch Ultrabook laptop just won't quite cut it. For those looking for a little more computing power, HP's new Z8 workstation could be just the answer. The latest iteration of HP's desktop workstations packs in a pair of Intel Skylake-SP processors, topping out with twinned Xeon Platinum 8180 chips: 28 cores/56 threads and 38.5MB cache each running at 2.5-3.8GHz, along with support for up to 1.5TB RAM.

Next year, you'll be able to go higher still with the 8180M processors; same core count and speeds, but doubling the total memory capacity to 3TB, as long as you want to fill the machine's 24 RAM slots.

Those processors and memory can be combined with up to three Nvidia Quadro P6000 GPUs or AMD Radeon Pro WX 9100 parts if you prefer that team. The hefty desktop systems have four internal drive bays, two external (and a third external for an optical drive), and nine PCIe slots. Storage options include up to 4TB of PCIe-mounted SSD, and 48TB of spinning disks. A range of gigabit and 10 gigabit Ethernet adaptors are available; the machines also support 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.2. Thunderbolt 3 is available with an add-in card.

This is one hell of a beast of a machine, and something most of us will never have the pleasure to use. That being said - I've always been fascinated by these professional workstations, and the HP ones in particular. Current models are obviously way out of my price range, but older models - such as a model from the Z800 range - are more attainable.

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What the iPhone X borrowed from the Palm Pre
By Thom Holwerda on 2017-09-15 21:27:15

I have become the unofficial standard bearer for webOS, the operating system created by Palm for the Pre and its successive devices. It was a wildly innovative and smart foundation for a smartphone done in by performance problems, mediocre hardware, and most of all by US carriers who acted as kingmakers for other companies.

So as the bearer of a thoroughly-tattered banner, I’ve been hearing a lot of people ask what I thought about the iPhone X and how it borrows many of the ideas first introduced by Palm. Here’s what I think: it’s great, and also it’s silly compare the state of tech in 2017 with the state of tech in 2009. Just because Palm did some stuff first doesn’t take away from Apple is doing them now. Context matters, and our context today is very different.

WebOS had some great ideas, but on a technical level, the operating system was a mess. It was a major battery hog, slow, and basically nothing more than a tech demo made in WebKit on top of a largely unmodified Linux kernel, running on mediocre hardware. WebOS wasn't a product worthy of the Palm name.

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FSFE: publicly funded software has to be open source
By Thom Holwerda on 2017-09-15 21:20:16

Digital services offered and used by public administrations are the critical infrastructure of 21st-century democratic nations. To establish trustworthy systems, government agencies must ensure they have full control over systems at the core of our digital infrastructure. This is rarely the case today due to restrictive software licences.

Today, 31 organisations are publishing an open letter in which they call for lawmakers to advance legislation requiring publicly financed software developed for the public sector be made available under a Free and Open Source Software licence.

Good initiative, and a complete and utter no-brainer. Public money, public code.

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Google renames Fuchia's Magenta kernel to Zircon
By Thom Holwerda on 2017-09-15 21:13:03

Zircon is the core platform that powers the Fuchsia OS. Zircon is composed of a microkernel (source in kernel/...) as well as a small set of userspace services, drivers, and libraries (source in system/...) necessary for the system to boot, talk to hardware, load userspace processes and run them, etc. Fuchsia builds a much larger OS on top of this foundation.

Google changed the name for this project from Magenta to Zircon, which seems like an opportune time to highlight it.

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