Posts

Showing posts from March 30, 2017

Displaymate Tests Galaxy S8, Ranks It Number One

Image
There's a fairly standard thing that happens twice a year, when Samsung launches a new flagship device. DisplayMate, that most scientific of display reviewers, puts the new device's screen under the microscope and declares it the best ever.
There's a good reason for this of course. Each time Samsung lets a new Galaxy S or Note out into the world it manages to improve on what has gone before.
This year the Galaxy S8 manages to not only keep that record intact, but also to deliver a sizeable leap ahead of the Note 7 screen, the previous display king.
Which makes Samsung's decision to supply Apple with its latest and greatest screen technology even more perplexing. We are not talking about Sony here, which seems to build handsets only to showcase its advances in camera performance and quality to other OEMs. This is Samsung, Apple's number one rival and direct competitor for the smart phone market top slot.
Selling the crown jewels in order to feed on the s craps f…

If A Psion Series 5 Existed Today Would You Own One?

Image
This is the Psion Series 5, a handheld computer which was the ultimate expression of Psion's vision for a PDA. Launched in 1997, long before smartphones were a thing and a whole decade before the iPhone, Psion built a machine which focused on some very specific use cases, and then delivered on them brilliantly.
It turned out that Psion was fighting a losing battle though, customers wanted vertical screens and pocketable devices like those from Palm. When Palm launched the impossibly small Palm V the battle between keyboards and pen was over. Touchscreens would ultimately triumph and today it's possible to trace a design heritage between just about every smartphone and the Palm V.
The keyboard / landscape design didn't die easily. Nokia built a line of Communicator devices around Symbian (which was the updated version of the Psion's EPOC operating system) whilst HTC built a number of devices similar in concept for its carrier partners, most famously the HTC Universal.

Samsung Hammered For Tizen Security Flaws

Image
Samsung's smart device OS, Tizen, which powers a range of IoT, TV, phone and smartwear products has been handed an absolute spanking by security researcher Amihai Neiderman. 
Reported in Motherboard magazine Neiderman calls Tizen the worst code he has ever seen, demonstrating a lack of basic understanding of security concepts and riddled with the sort of schoolboy errors that mark out a lack of experience in the coding team.
The errors are in newer parts of the Tizen code and do not stem from the Intel legacy code or Badawi, Tizen's direct ancestors. Neiderman was able to identify 40 zero day vulnerabilities in his testing.
A better case for Samsung sticking with Android across its range of electronics I cannot make. The failure of Samsung (and others) to understand the complexities of software aren't new nor are they easily fixed. Handing off platform development to a third party with specialist knowledge is just basic common sense. 
Samsung just got over the Note 7 deba…

Is Apple Music Really So Terrible?

Image
Apple Music has been rather less of a success than I, and probably many at Apple thought. Given the huge installed iOS user base, strong customer loyalty and a heritage in the iPod that suggests strong links to music listening, it wasn't a difficult call to say that Spotify was toast. Yet here we are, nearly a couple of years down the line and Apple Music appears to be fading away from Spotify, which continues to pick up users at a faster rate, consolidating its place as number one in the market. So a report from Verto last week (who?) which suggested that Apple had a massive lead in mobile streaming just doesn't seem to add up. Based on a survey of 20,000 users Verto reported the Apple had more than 40 million users on mobile devices, both iPhones and iPads. That rather jibes with the most recent subscriber numbers Apple reported - 20 million, or a 100% discrepancy. Either Apple Music had a lot of non paying users or Verto's counting methods are suspect. Given Verto's…

Apple Will Fix The Mac Pro - Next Year

Image
Apple picked a handful of its most friendly bloggers to meet the big guns yesterday, having them with the news of a speed bump for Mac Pro's, an all new Mac Pro lineup next year, and updated iMacs and Apple monitor ranges.Why did the ever so famously 'tight lipped on new products' company feel the need to do this? Probably because a regular announcement would have had them drowned in derision. It's clear evidence that Apple really did forget about its desktop using Pro's for the two years. Phil Schiller, Craig Ferderighi and John Ternus spoke about the reasons behind the updates to the Mac Pro and its replacement.That amounted to an admission that sounded like 'we thought we could rely on our Pro community to buy any old crap, based on their strong loyalty. Turns out they won't and we've had to hustle together a backup plan that we're trying to frame as a good thing by using our favorite cheerleading team'.Apple backed themselves into a corner b…

F1: Wehrlein Misses Out In China, Giovinazzi To Pilot Sauber Once More

Image
Mercedes protogé Pascal Wehrlein isn't having the greatest of years. Having suffered this clumsy accident in the Race of Champions, he was prevented from training thanks to an injury to his back. Consequently he also missed the first round of pre-season testing with his Sauber team.
Although he did take part in the second round of testing - completing close to two hundred laps in the process, Wehrlein's training regime had been disrupted and, after taking part in the two free practice sessions on the Friday of the Australian Grand Prix, he reportedly told Sauber that he wasn't fit enough to cope with the demands of a full race.

Ferrari reserve driver Antonio Giovinazzi deputised and acquitted himself admirably, eventually running to a comfortable twelfth place, having qualified just behind the team's lead driver Marcus Ericsson.

Aside from the big hitters, it was Giovinazzi who impressed most with his efforts in Melbourne. Jumping into the car in Free Practice 3 he qu…

APFS: Is This The Canary For A New iPad Direction

Image
New versions of Mac OS, iOS and Watch OS arrived from Apple this week and aside from some minor tweaks it centred around one key area: upgrading and standardising the file system used across all Apple devices.
The new solution, APFS, is a key part of a future Apple strategy which prioritises iOS over Mac OS, and in particular the iPad over MacBooks.

Apple probably felt it needed to upgrade HFS+ on the Mac, it is almost twenty years old after all. The version used in iOS is a significant variation of the desktop product.

Bringing the various platforms together on one file system seems like the first step on the road which ends in convergence. A Mac OS / iOS hybrid for example, along the lines of Windows 8, would be able to utilise the common file system to access the same files, storage and structures whichever platform was in control.

Previously the difference in the way that iOS and Mac OS managed disk encryption would have made that impossible.

It seems a very small indication of c…

Did Synaptics Delays Force A Late Galaxy S8 Redesign

Image
Two stories have leaked over the last two days which seem significant and clearly linked. Firstly we are seeing prototypes of the Galaxy S8 featuring a dual camera setup and no rear mounted fingerprint sensor. Secondly we're hearing that Samsung made significant investment in Synaptics behind the screen fingerprint reader over the last twelve months.
Logic would suggest that the failure to get the fingerprint reader working reliably and in volume meant Samsung had to rearrange the back of its new phone to accommodate a fingerprint sensor instead of a second camera setup.
That would certainly explain the awkward positioning of the sensor.
Given the Iris sensor on the S8, which we know works quickly and reliably from our (all too brief) experience of it on the Galaxy Note 7, I wonder why Samsung didn't take the opportunity to ditch the fingerprint sensor completely?
In all likelihood we'll see the new Synaptics behind the screen fingerprint sensor on the Note 8 when it arri…

PowerVR Just Got Sherlocked

Image
One of the key factors in the performance of Apple iOS devices is the snappy graphics chips it uses. The PowerVR GPU is a product of British company Imagination. Now it appears that Apple is going its own way on GPU design and manufacture and Imagination is out in the cold.
The news was announced by Imagination Technologies as part of its duty to shareholders and the Stock Market in general. Apple consumes a disproportionate percentage of Imagination's output and the news has significant bearing on the company's long term financial prospects.
Imagination's stock is crashing. To the point where Apple could conceivably purchase the company for a song.
Whether it does or doesn't it has quite effectively gutted the company and left it open for a takeover from somebody.
In the meantime Imagination is making threats about patent abuse and the adoption of its technologies, without licensing fees, in the iPhone 9.
Seems likely this could go one of three ways. Imagination'…

Australian Banks Lose Ability To Collectively Lobby For iPhone NFC Access

Image
A group of Australian banks have been lobbying the country's Competition and Consumer Commission for the right to negotiate collectively with Apple for access to the NFC chip which enables contactless payments.
Aside from ANZ, none of the big Australian banks have adopted Apple Pay, claiming that prevent access to the NFC chip in the iPhone puts them at a competitive disadvantage in developing their own payment apps.
The attempt to bargain collectively was rejected on the basis that Apple competes with Android by offering customers a closed system and forcing the company to give the banks access would damage its competitiveness in the smartphone market.
The argument has imapcted on the roll out of Apple Pay for Australian and New Zealand customers. Even ANZ, which broke the cartel and started offering Apple Pay to its customers late last year, hasn't been quick to market with its offering. ANZ's GoMoney wallet offered contactless payments on Android phones a year earlier.

Samsung's S8 Two Piece Cover Is Bizarre, But In A Good Way

Image
Samsung's new S8 is impressively well designed, looks and feels premium and manages to put itself into pole position at the head of the smartphone pack.
Samsung's Two Piece cover for the S8 is a rather more eccentric piece of design.
Now there has been some pretty strong invective directed at Samsung for this case design, which to my eyes looks all kinds of wrong. That rather misses the point of the case though. Samsung has a whole range of cases for the S8, including some really quite brilliant playthrough cases, as well as more traditional covers.
The Two Piece cover is aimed at a very different market - probably young and certainly concerned with everything to do with their looks. With that target market in mind this case actually looks pretty good.
So good on Samsung for doing something different and aimed at a different group of users. It would be a sad, sad world if everyone liked the same things. The two-piece case may have a small market, but it's a market that de…

HP's Elite x3 All But Worthless Compared To Samsung S8, DeX

Image
When Microsoft and HP unveiled the Elite x3 it was a product witha razor-like focus on enterprise. Here was Microsoft's admission of defeat in the consumer space, but also a defiant offering for enterprise customers: the best enterprise experience was still to be found on a Windows phone.
That offering was very much based on the utility of Windows 10 Mobile's Continuum capability. Your phone could be your desktop or your laptop.
Which sounds great for enterprise customers until you discover just how limited Continumm is. HP acknowledged this with its very expensive app virtualisation offering, which promised to address application shortcomings. 
The arrival of the Galaxy S8 and DeX dock destroys the Elite x3's credibility in the enterprise space. Not only does Android make it a more usable phone, but Samsung's DeX environment is significantly more flexible than Continuum, runs Office apps full screen and supports true enterprise virtualisation solutions like Citrix wi…

Dumb Kodak Pitch Has Serious Message Underlying Scaremongering Tactics

Image
This 'hilarious' stunt pulled by Kodak to promote its Moments app, pretends to wipe user phones and cloud storage on the pretext of showing how important it is to print your photos.
It's a piece of nonsense. The likelihood of an app or bug being able to wipe your local and cloud storage is so slim as to be immeasurable.
However it does highlight that some smartphone users may not be taking sensible steps to back up photos and documents on their devices.
If you don't already have them install Google Photos and Microsoft Onedrive on your smartphone and set them to backup all your files to the cloud. Do not rely on iCloud. If you're risk averse you might want to consider backing them up to a PC regularly too. This is especially important for your photos, which often contain moments that can't be recreated. Cloud backups are seamless. A local backup to your PC takes a couple of minutes. Do it. Now.
Printing photos en masse however, is senseless, environmentally un…

Samsung Teams Up With Bear Grylls For Gear S3 Frontier Ad

Image
Samsung's Gear S3 is probably the best smartwatch you can buy right now. The Frontier edition adds a touch of ruggedness to that offering. So who better to get to hawk it in an advert than Bear Grylls?
Of course based on past experience of celebrities Samsung has paid to endorse their products, Grylls is almost certainly going to photographed wearing an Apple Watch any day now.
Still, who knew about getting fire from ice?

Microsoft Edition Galaxy S8 Is The Brick Wall Windows Mobile Is Heading Into

Image
Microsoft will sell a special edition of the new Samsung Galaxy S8 through its online stores. An extension of the previous agreement between the two companies, which saw Microsoft's apps pre-installed on the S6, S7 and also the regular S8; the Microsoft Edition S8 will receive Microsoft customisations at first boot.
This is almost certainly going to involve replacing much of Google's software with Microsoft's as the default choice. Outlook for email, Onedrive for the cloud and most interestingly Cortana for voice search.
Cortana has grown in capability in its Android version and could, in theory, replace Google Assistant as the default voice tool on your Android phone.
The S8 is a bit different though. It packs Samsung's own Bixby intelligent agent, which promises to move the game on in very specific areas. Is Microsoft going to tie the Bixby button to Cortana by default? Seems unlikely Samsung would allow that, or customers would appreciate it. However bringing the t…

Formula E Shaping Up For Another Buemi - Di Grassi Championship Battle

Round four of the 2016-17 Formula E Championship saw last season's runner-up Lucas Di Grassi break reigning champion Sebastian Buemi's three race winning streak and narrow the points gap to just five. The Mexico race was the first time the Renault e.dams team has looked anything less than unbeatable all season.
There's a long way to go until the season finale double header in Canada, but the prospect of a Buemi - Di Grassi showdown in Montreal is mouth-watering. Last season's London finale ended in a first lap collision between the two protagonists, resulting in an all out battle for fastest lap for the precious to seal the title.
Buemi prevailed and was then publicly and highly critical of Di Grassi. The latter protested his innocence and had a right to feel hard done by anyway, given his victory in this same race last season was ultimately taken away after his car was found to be underweight. Those lost 25 points more than enough to ensure the championship win.
Form…

Windows 10 Creators Update Confirmed For April 11, Available April 5 If You're In A Hurry

Image
Microsoft will start delivering the latest major version of Windows 10 to customers from April 11, following its standard pattern of phased releases biased towards newer devices which it is confident will handle the upgrade without problems.
However Microsoft's desire to make the upgrade seamless for as many users as possible (and with close to half a billion out there it doesn't take too many problems to bring the house of cards down) means that the update will be available via its Update Assistant from April 5.
For technically competent and impatient users this is an opportunity to get out ahead of the pack and enjoy the new features Microsoft have packed into this release.
The early feedback will be more than useful in assisting Microsoft in ironing out any little niggles which remain after the extensive Windows Insider testing it has undertaken.

SSL Won't Protect You From ISP Snooping

Image
The US Government signed through a change which effectively allows ISPs to sell American's internet browsing history or use it for its own ends.
Apart from being a significant privacy risk, there are also security implications. Your password secured accounts are potentially wide open to abuse. Forget HTTPS as a defence mechanism. Your ISP undoubtedly has the tools to perform a man in the middle attack and extract any information they want from your emails, social media accounts and instant messaging.
Did you think your SSL encrypted sessions were secure? Unfortunately not. SSL interception appliances like Blue Coat ProxySG, IBM Datapower or even Microsoft's own Forefront Threat Protection allow an ISP to effectively proxy any secure connection and inspect packets passing through.
In corporate environments this is achieved by creating a trusted certificate authority on corporate PCs. For an ISP creating its own CA and relying on user's ignorance of the certificate warnings…

Samsung DeX: Continuum Revisited

Image
It's hard to argue that Microsoft got the Continuum concept spot on when it launched the Lumia 950 with Windows 10 Mobile. It really is a phone that could be your PC - for very small values of PC anyway.
As expected, Samsung has replicated the feature for the new Galaxy S8 with a desktop dock called DeX. The video above shows it in action and its very Continuum-like in its operation. There is one big advantage to Samsung's implementation though. Instead of forcing, unsupported phone-only apps to run on the phone itself, Samsung has allowed them to run as windows on the main display. Which suggests most, if not all Android apps will support this feature.
Microsoft missed this trick first time out, lets hope that the changes to Continuum promised for the Creators update brings this particular feature. Even if the imminent death of Windows Mobile means hardly anyone will ever use it.

Samsung Galaxy S8 – It’s All About The Screen, Maybe

Image
Samsung's first high-profile, big money launch since the Note 7 happened today and it's odds on that every review you read over the next few days will make some reference to the battery. Samsung has gone to great lengths to ensure that the battery won't combust, or at least is no more likely to do so than other smartphones. However it has also gone to some length to make sure the launch conversation is about anything but the battery. The screen, for example, which cloaks 83% of the device's face. It's slightly weird 18.5:9 ratio is designed to support multitasking. It’s a standout feature which should achieve Samsung’s desire to lead the discussion back to what it does best.And what it undoubtedly does best is screens.Aside from the aspect ratio, the HDR playback for video and the usual SAMOLED wonderfulness, there's also the bezels to consider. You'll need to find  them first of course. The curved edge of the screen is present, as on Galaxy Edge devices of…