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  • Do Specs Matter Anymore For the Average Smartphone User?

    ourlovecanlastforeve writes: While reviewing a recent comparison of the Nexus 5 and the iPhone 6, OSNews staffer Thom Holwerda raises some relevant points regarding the importance of specs on newer smartphones. He observes that the iPhone 6, which is brand new, and the Nexus 5 launch apps at about the same speed. Yes, they're completely different platforms and yes, it's true it's probably not even a legitimate comparison, but it does raise a point: Most people who use smartphones on a daily basis use them for pretty basic things such as checking email, casual web browsing, navigation and reminders. Those who use their phones to their maximum capacity for things like gaming are a staunch minority. Do smartphone specs even matter for the average smartphone user anymore? After everyone releases the biggest phone people can reasonably hold in their hand with a processor and GPU that can move images on the display as optimally as possible, how many other moons are there to shoot for?

    194 comments | 4 hours ago

  • Google Partners With HTC For Latest Nexus Tablet

    Rambo Tribble writes The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Google is partnering with HTC for its upcoming 9-inch Nexus tablet. Shunning larger manufacturers like Samsung, speculation is that Google is trying to mitigate the effects of market dominance by one firm. When asked for comment, a Google spokesperson only responded, "There's room for many partners to do well and to innovate with Android."

    71 comments | yesterday

  • Ask Slashdot: Is iOS 8 a Pig?

    kyjellyfish writes I've been using iOS 8 for several days and aside from a few gimmicks and add-ons that attempt to achieve parity with Android, my experience has been overwhelmingly unsatisfactory. My chief complaint is that the vast majority of my apps are slow to boot and noticeably sluggish in operation. I want to point out that all of these apps have been "upgraded" specifically for iOS 8 compatibility. Previous operating system upgrades have been relatively seamless, so I'm asking whether other slashdotters have experienced this degraded performance.

    492 comments | 2 days ago

  • Android Apps Now Unofficially Able To Run On Any Major Desktop OS

    An anonymous reader writes A developer who goes by the handle Vladikoff has tweaked Google's App Runtime for Chrome (ARC) to allow any Android app to run on any major desktop operating system, not just the handful announced last week which were also limited to Chrome OS. His tweaked version of ARC is re-packaged as ARChon. The install isn't very straightforward, and you have to be in developer mode on Chrome. But there's a support forum on reddit. The extension will work on any OS running the desktop version of Chrome 37 and up as long as the user also installs chromeos-apk, which converts raw Android app packages (APKs) to a Chrome extension. Ars Technica reports that apps run this way are buggy, fast, and crash often but expresses optimism for when Google officially "opens the floodgates on the Play Store, putting 1.3 million Android apps onto nearly every platform."

    101 comments | 3 days ago

  • Next Android To Enable Local Encryption By Default Too, Says Google

    An anonymous reader writes The same day that Apple announced that iOS 8 will encrypt device data with a local code that is not shared with Apple, Google has pointed out that Android already offers the same feature as a user option and that the next version will enable it by default. The announcements by both major cell phone [operating system makers] underscores a new emphasis on privacy in the wake of recent government surveillance revelations in the U.S. At the same time, it leaves unresolved the tension between security and convenience when both companies' devices are configured to upload user content to iCloud and Google+ servers for backup and synchronization across devices, servers and content to which Apple and Google do have access.

    126 comments | 4 days ago

  • Ask Slashdot: Remote Support For Disconnected, Computer-Illiterate Relatives

    An anonymous reader writes I use email to communicate with my folks overseas. Their ISP only allows dial-up access to their email account (there is no option of changing ISP), that can receive messages no larger than 1MB nor hold more than 15MB (no hope of changing that either). They are computer-illiterate, click on everything they receive, and take delight on sending their information to any Nigerian prince that contacts them, "just in case this one is true". Needless to say, their PC is always full of viruses and spyware. In my next yearly visit, instead of just cleaning it up, I'd like to gift them with some "hardened" PC to use for email only that would hopefully last the year before someone has to fix it. So far, these are the things I have in mind:

    • Some kind of linux distro, or maybe even mac. Most viruses over there are windows only and propagate via Autorun.inf or by email attachments, not having Windows could prevent both.
    • Some desktop environment that hides anything unrelated to connecting to the net and accessing their account (dial-up software, email client, web browser, exchanging files between their hard disk/email attachments and USB drives). By "hide", I just want the rest to be out of the way, but not entirely removed, so that if necessary, I can guide them over the phone. For this, Ubuntu's Unity seems like a particularly bad solution, but a Gnome desktop with non-removable desktop shortcuts (is this possible?) for the file manager, browser, email client and dial-up program could work. An android system is unlikely to work (they have no wifi, and they were utterly confused with Android's UI).
    • This could be a life saver: some kind of extension to the email client that executes commands on specially formatted emails (e.g., signed with my private key), so that I can do some basic diagnostics or install extra software if I have to. This las point is important: they currently rely on acquaintances who may not be competent (they can't evaluate that) if something happens between my visits. They, most likely, wont know how to deal with anything non-windows, so all tech support would fall on me. (This is the reason I haven't moved them from windows yet.)
    • Another very useful extension would be something to automatically re-assemble attachments split into several emails, to overcome the 1MB message limit.

    Does any of that exist? If I have to build that system myself (or parts of it), do you have other suggestions? For the inevitable and completely reasonable suggestion of getting someone competent for tech support: I've tried that too. The competent ones don't last beyond the third visit.

    334 comments | 5 days ago

  • iOS 8 Review

    An anonymous reader writes: Apple is releasing iOS 8 today, and Ars Technica has posted one of their huge, thorough reviews of the updated operating system. They have this to say about the UI: "iOS 8 tries to fit a whole lot more stuff onto a single screen than iOS 7 did. The operating system was clearly developed in anticipation of iPhones with larger screens." The biggest new feature is Extensions: "Older versions of iOS limited what third-party applications could do to communicate with external services and other third-party applications. ... Extensions remove some (but not all) of those barriers." The biggest examples of extensions are custom keyboards, a feature iOS users have been requesting for years. Downsides to iOS 8 include increased storage and processing requirements, which are bad news for older iPhones, and a host of new bugs associated with the new features.

    216 comments | about a week ago

  • Browser To Facilitate Text Browsing In Emergencies

    Rambo Tribble (1273454) writes "Programmers at Fast Company are developing the Cosmos browser to allow text browsing from Android phones when networks are buckling under the load of local disasters. A common phenomenon when disaster strikes is the overloading of cell and data networks by massively increased traffic. The Cosmos browser is intended to facilitate using SMS text messages, which often still get through in such circumstances. To quote one developer, "We want this to be a way for people to get information when they're in dire need of it." Sort of a Lynx comes to Android affair. The Smithsonian contemplates the possibilities, here."

    40 comments | about a week ago

  • Google's Android One Initiative Launches In India With Three $100 Phones

    An anonymous reader writes Google has unveiled its first set of Android One low-cost smartphones in the Indian market, partnering with Indian hardware vendors Spice, Micromax and Karbonn. The three phones will be available online on Flipkart, Amazon and Snapdeal and via Reliance Digital, Croma and The Mobile Store, offline. The phones provide a minimum set of features determined by Google, which has sourced several of the components to help cut manufacturing costs. The company has also teamed up with a local network to make it cheaper to download Android updates and new apps.

    50 comments | about a week ago

  • Robot Operating System To Officially Support ARM Processors

    DeviceGuru writes: The Open Source Robotics Foundation (OSRF), which maintains the open source Robot Operating System (ROS), has announced its first formal support for an ARM target. The organization will add support for the Qualcomm Snapdragon 600, a smartphone-oriented, quad-core, Cortex-A15-like system-on-chip running up to 1.7GHz. The Linux version of ROS for Snapdragon 600 will be available in Q4 of this year, with the Android version due in the first half of 2015. The OSRF will test, refine, and fully integrate support for the ARM instruction set architecture into ROS development efforts. OSRF will also perform ongoing maintenance to support ROS on the Snapdragon 600.

    33 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Chrome OS Can Now Run Android Apps With No Porting Required

    An anonymous reader writes On Thursday, Google launched "App Runtime for Chrome (Beta)" which allows Android apps to run on Chrome OS without the need for porting. At the moment, only Duolingo, Evernote, Sight Words, and Vine are available on the platform with the rest of the Play Store's offerings to come later. Google "built an entire Android stack into Chrome OS using Native Client" in order to achieve this.

    132 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Amazon Instant Video Now Available On Android

    briancox2 writes Amazon has avoided releasing the Amazon Instant Video app that is on Fire and Kindle to the general Android market, even though the app has been available for some time on iOS. Now, after a workaround had allowed some users to install the app on Android by fiddling with permissions, Amazon has released the app to many devices calling it "Amazon Instant Video for Google TV". It's not clear yet which devices can run this app. Currently it is not available for older Samsung Galaxy lines, however the Nexus, a major competitor of Amazon's devices, can run the new app.

    77 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Google Hangouts Gets Google Voice Integration And Free VoIP Calls

    sfcrazy writes Google will integrate Voice and Hangouts with the launch of its redesigned Hangouts apps for Android and iOS, as well as on the web. Amit Fulay, Product Manager at Google says, "Starting today you can make voice calls from Hangouts on Android, iOS and the web. It's free to call other Hangouts users, it's free to call numbers in the U.S. and Canada, and the international rates are really low. So keeping in touch is easier and more affordable than ever."

    162 comments | about two weeks ago

  • European Commission Reopens Google Antitrust Investigation

    An anonymous reader writes: Earlier this year, European Commission regulators finally agreed to a settlement in the organization's long-running antitrust investigation of Google's search and advertising business. Unfortunately for Google, it didn't stick. The EC said today they're reopening the investigation after a large number of "very negative" complaints about the settlement. "The key objection to the proposed settlement, which would have allowed rival services to buy spaces at the top of search results pages, was that it would not prevent Google from favoring its own services, and would divert money from the rivals to Google even if they received clickthroughs from the adverts — rather than the zero-cost solution if they were ranked highly in 'organic' search results, and Google was prevented from putting its own commercial services above those." The Commission is also looking into other parts of Google's business, including its influence over mobile devices through Android.

    95 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Carmack On Mobile VR Development

    An anonymous reader writes: After surprising everyone by demonstrating Samsung's new VR headset at IFA yesterday, John Carmack spoke with Gamasutra about the difficulties of developing virtual reality in a mobile environment. He also had some interesting comments on developing for Android: 'Okay, there's the normal hell of moving to a new platform — and I gotta say, Android was more hell to move to than most consoles I've adopted. Just because of the way Google has to position things across a diverse hardware spectrum, and because Google still doesn't really endorse native code development — they'd still rather everyone worked in Java. And that's a defensible position, but it's certainly not what you want to be doing on a resource-constrained VR system. So brace yourself: Android setup and development really does suck. It's no fun at all.' He also had insights on building compute-intensive software — if you go to full speed on all CPU and GPU cores, you can expect overheating and thermal throttling in less than a minute.

    60 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Moto 360 Reviews Arrive

    An anonymous reader writes: Reviews for the Moto 360 smartwatch have started to roll in. David Pierce at The Verge praises the design: the circular display is framed by an unadorned, stainless steel shell, and fastened to your wrist with a simple leather strap. At the same time, he criticized the battery life, saying the device averaged around 12 hours of use before it needed to be charged. Pierce adds, "The Moto 360's most impressive feature is that I stopped noticing it almost immediately. Whenever I wear the LG G Watch or the Samsung Gear Live, I'm constantly compelled to fidget with it; there's this unexplainable feeling of having something alien on my wrist that is there because I need to use it. The 360, on the other hand, just vanished into the spot left on my wrist by the Seiko watch that conveniently died this week." AnandTech takes a deeper dive into the device's hardware, noting that the TI OMAP 3 processor is built on a somewhat old 45nm process, which necessitates higher power consumption than newer, smaller processes. The Wall Street Journal says it's easy to get used to speaking into your watch for basic functions, but the software — and thus, the Moto 360 as a whole — still isn't quite ready for prime time. However, almost all the reviews agree that the smartwatch's time is coming.

    87 comments | about three weeks ago

  • E-Books On a $20 Cell Phone

    An anonymous reader writes "Moon+ Pro Reader, FBReader, Kindle, you name it--many popular Android e-book apps can run on a smartphone available for $20 and shipping. The trick is to respect the device's limits and keep down the number of apps you install. This fun isn't for eager multitaskers. On the bright side, the $20 phone can do Acapela TTS, includes a 4GB memory card and works with cards of up to 32GB--easily enough for scads of pre-loaded books. Plus, the WiFi is great. And the screen of 3.2 inches isn't that much smaller than the 3.5 inchers on the older iPads. What could cell phone e-reading mean in the many "book deserts" of the U.S.? And how about the U.K. where miserly pols are closing libraries even though the Guardian says "a third of UK children do not own a single book and three-quarters claim never to read outside school"? The smartphone post on the LibraryCity site tells how librarians and others could start "cell phone book clubs" to promote the discovery and absorption of books as well as smarter use of technology."

    116 comments | about three weeks ago

  • Firefox 32 Arrives With New HTTP Cache, Public Key Pinning Support

    An anonymous reader writes: Mozilla today officially launched Firefox 32 for Windows, Mac, Linux, and Android. Additions include a new HTTP cache for improved performance, public key pinning support, and easy language switching on Android. The Android version is trickling out slowly on Google Play. Changelogs are here: desktop and mobile.

    220 comments | about three weeks ago

  • Post-Microsoft Nokia Offering Mapping Services To Samsung

    jfruh writes: With Nokia's Windows Phone handset line sold off to Microsoft, one of the company's remaining businesses is its Here digital mapping service. No longer feeling loyalty to Microsoft or its OS, Nokia has inked a deal with Samsung to supply Here services to both Tizen and Android devices, including the upcoming Samsung smartwatch.

    67 comments | about three weeks ago

  • MIPS Tempts Hackers With Raspbery Pi-like Dev Board

    DeviceGuru (1136715) writes "In a bid to harness the energy and enthusiasm swirling around today's open, hackable single board computers, Imagination Technologies, licensor of the MIPS ISA, has unveiled the Creator C120 development board, the ISA's counter to ARM's popular Raspberry Pi and BeagleBone Black SBCs. The MIPS dev board is based on a 1.2GHz dual-core MIPS32 system-on-chip and has 1GB RAM and 8GB flash, and there's also an SD card slot for expansion. Ports include video, audio, Ethernet, both WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0, and a bunch more. OS images are already available for Debian 7, Gentoo, Yocto, and Arch Linux, and Android v4.4 is expected to be available soon. Perhaps the most interesting feature of the board is that there's no pricing listed yet, because the company is starting out by giving the boards away free to developers who submit the most interesting projects."

    88 comments | about three weeks ago

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