In light of the recent The Atlantic article, Arnoud Wokke, editor at the popular Dutch technology site Tweakers.net, pointed me to an interesting OSNews comment by Dianne Hackborn, former Be engineer (that's still major street cred right here), former Palm engineer, and Android engineer at Google since early 2006. Her recollection of the story regarding the cancellation of the BlackBerry-esque 'Sooner' prototype and the touchscreen 'Dream' prototype is entirely different from what Vogelstein states in his article.
From a software perspective, Sooner and Dream were basically the same -- different form-factors, one without a touch screen -- but they were not so different as this article indicates and the switch between them was not such a huge upheaval.
The main reason for the differences in schedule was hardware: Sooner was a variation of an existing device that HTC was shipping, while Dream was a completely new device with a lot of things that had never been shipped before, at least by HTC (new Qualcomm chipset, sensors, touch screen, the hinge design, etc). So Sooner was the safe/fast device, and Dream was the risky/long-term device.
However the other factor in this was the software. Work on the Android we know today (which is what is running in that Sooner) basically started around late 2005 / early 2006. I got to Google at the beginning of 2006, and it was around that time we started work on everything from the resource system through the view hierarchy, to the window manager and activity manager that you know today. Some work on stuff we have today (like SurfaceFlinger) was started a bit earlier, but also after Google acquired Android.
Even if there was no iPhone, there is a good chance that Sooner would have been dropped, since while it was a good idea to get Android out quickly from a hardware perspective, the software schedule was much longer. I don't recall the exact dates, but I believe the decision to drop Sooner was well before the iPhone announcement... though we continued to use it for quite a while internally for development, since it was the only semi-stable hardware platform we had. If nothing else, it helped remove significant risk from the schedule since software development could be done on a relatively stable device while the systems team brought up the new hardware in parallel.
This is very different from the somewhat internally inconsistent story Vogelstein tells. I'm very curious to find out where, exactly, the truth lies.
That's because Google right now is building Dart technology directly into Chrome.
Does anyone here use Dart?
Fred Vogelstein, writing for The Atlantic, on what happened with the Android team after the iPhone was unveiled:
Within weeks the Android team had completely reconfigured its objectives. A phone with a touchscreen, code-named Dream, that had been in the early stages of development, became the focus. Its launch was pushed out a year until fall 2008. Engineers started drilling into it all the things the iPhone didn't do to differentiate their phone when launch day did occur.
Me, a few years ago:
Now, does this mean that the iPhone had zero influence on Android's early development? Of course not. Like the iPhone itself was standing on the shoulders of giants (iPhone to PalmOS: hi daddy!), Android stood on the shoulders of giants as well. However, unlike what has already become an accepted truth for some, the infamous photograph of a prototype Android device was not the prototype Android device. In fact, Google was working on touch screen devices alongside that infamous BlackBerry-like device, and the evidence for that is out there, for everyone to see.
Vogelstein's entire article - which is actually adapted from a chapter of a book - is a bit contradictory in nature. It claims, several times, that the Android team had to start over after the release of the iPhone, but at the same time, it states that a full touch phone was already in development.
So, just to reiterate: touchscreen devices had always been part of Android, even during its initial stages at Google. Several different form factors were in development, but after the release of the iPhone, it made little sense to continue to focus on the BlackBerry-like device. Some make it seem as if Vogelstein's article is some sort of massive eye-opener completely rebutting this point, but it seems they may have missed its second-to-last paragraph.
Apple today announced the all-new Mac Pro will be available to order starting Thursday, December 19. Redesigned from the inside out, the all-new Mac Pro features the latest Intel Xeon processors, dual workstation-class GPUs, PCIe-based flash storage and ultra-fast ECC memory.
This thing is so damn awesome. I don't need it, but I still want one.
2013 was nothing less than a blockbuster success for Windows Phone, which went from industry also-ran to the undisputed third mobile ecosystem, and is poised to challenge iPhone for the number two spot. You didn't think it could get this good? That's OK, neither did I.
Windows Phone seemingly turns a corner with every new application, small operating system update, and new Nokia Lumia. It's turning so many corners it's running in circles.
The MorphOS development team is proud to announce the public release of MorphOS 3.4, which introduces faster R300 graphics drivers, improved video playback on G5-based systems, support for non-native display resolutions on various PowerBooks, screen blanker password protection, and numerous bug fixes and other improvements. For an overview of the included changes, please read our release notes.
Some serious improvements in there. Their market is probably small, but they release new versions at a relatively stable pace. One of the very few alternative operating systems that has managed to survive over the years where so many others fell.
There's this one other thing about the Jolla phone that sets it apart from the competition. In marketing terms, it's called The Other Half, the backside of the phone, which can be replaced and is 3D-printable. While the two The Other Halfs shipping with the first wave of pre-order customers have tiny RFID chips in them for communication (it instructs the phone to download a matching background and sounds), the Jolla phone also has a set of electrical contacts on the back of the exposed device - I2C.
This is one of the wildcard when it comes to Jolla - there's lots of possibilities here, such as a backplate with an additional battery, or even one with an integrated sliding keyboard. One of Jolla's engineers already added wireless charging to his backplate using I2C, to illustrate what it possible.
I'm really curious what other people are going to come up with - if at all. Right now there's probably little commercial interest to create products for The Other Half, but if Jolla manages to pick up enough steam, we might see some really cool stuff coming out of this.
We just discovered an issue in both 220.127.116.11 and 18.104.22.168 today which causes update of the store token required for accessing store repositories to fail. A fix for that has been pushed a few minutes ago: The update to version 22.214.171.124 you might be seeing on your device soon contains exactly this one fix to keep store access working.
My Jolla arrived this morning, and I've been playing with it all day. It is by far the most exciting device and operating system I've used in a long, long time. When it arrived, the first update to the operating system was already waiting for me to be installed - and only a few hours later, another update is hitting the device. They have promised another large bugfix and stability update before the end of the year, with updates with new features arriving early next year.
These men and women know what they're doing. They're not overselling, and they keep their promises. A very promising start.
A federal judge in Washington ruled on Monday that the bulk collection of Americans' telephone records by the National Security Agency is likely to violate the US constitution, in the most significant legal setback for the agency since the first disclosures prompted by the whistleblower Edward Snowden.
Judge Richard Leon declared that the mass collection of metadata probably violates the fourth amendment, which prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures, and was "almost Orwellian" in its scope. In a judgment replete with literary swipes against the NSA, he said James Madison, the architect of the US constitution, would be "aghast" at the scope of the agencyâs collection of Americans' communications data.
It's just a preliminary ruling, and while the judge stated that he would most likely uphold the preliminary ruling after the merits of the case have been handled, there's probably thousands of appeals and stuff like that where this could crumble into dust.
Once a government has obtained a power, it rarely releases it. That's the nature of government - it can only grow.
Microsoft is preparing to ship its Windows Phone 8.1 update with two significant changes: a notification center and a Siri-like personal assistant. Sources familiar with Microsoft's plans have revealed to The Verge that the company is currently beta testing copies of Windows Phone 8.1 internally, with plans to fully detail its features at BUILD 2014 in April. A highly requested notification center feature will be added to the software, and we're told it's enabled by swiping down from the top of the screen in a similar way to iOS and Android.
Pretty sure this update will turn it all around.
PhoneArena's Micheal H. addresses an article at Forbes:
The conclusion may sound redundant at this point, but it is fairly simple: if you want to have a discussion about Android and iOS (and there are plenty of incredibly interesting discussions to be had), think about the issues you want to cover, and break each down on their own terms. Trying to bundle arguments under and umbrella term like "fragmentation" is just lazy and it holds very little meaning at this point.
At the end of the day, I always get the feeling that the people yelling the loudest about "fragmentation" are people on the sidelines, who've never coded for Android at all. That's not to say it's not a problem at all - it's just to say that it's an area where the competition does a better job. Android's device diversity certainly creates additional challenges for Android developers, much in the same way that Apple's inconsistent App Store policies creates additional challenges for iOS developers.
Each platform has its weaknesses, but none have been as aggressively made larger than it really seems to be than Android's supposed fragmentation. Unravelling this positive feedback loop among these bloggers should make for fascinating material.
As promised, Valve has released the first test release of SteamOS. From the FAQ:
SteamOS is a fork (derivative) of Debian GNU/Linux. The first version (SteamOS 1.0) is called 'alchemist' and it is based on the Debian 'wheezy' (stable 7.1) distribution.
The major changes made in SteamOS are:
Backported eglibc 2.17 from Debian testing
Added various third-party drivers and updated graphics stack (Intel and AMD graphics support still being worked on)
Updated kernel tracking the 3.10 longterm branch (currently 3.10.11)
Custom graphics compositor designed to provide a seamless transition between Steam, its games and the SteamOS system overlay
Configured to auto-update from the Valve SteamOS repositories
You need to have an NVIDIA card for it to work, since Intel and AMD graphics are currently not yet supported (work is underway).
Yesterday, we published a blog post lauding an extremely important app privacy feature that was added in Android 4.3. That feature allows users to install apps while preventing the app from collecting sensitive data like the user's location or address book.
After we published the post, several people contacted us to say that the feature had actually been removed in Android 4.4.2, which was released earlier this week. Today, we installed that update to our test device, and can confirm that the App Ops privacy feature that we were excited about yesterday is in fact now gone.
If there's one thing that needs some serious love in Android, it's the application permissions. I carefully look at them every time I install an application, but I'm guessing most people don't. While there's only so much stupidity technology can solve, Android's application permissions are, indeed, quite overwhelming at times. I'm not a particular fan of modal dialogs every time an application needs permission for something (the iOS way) either, so I'm not sure how this can be addressed in a user-friendly way.
App Ops seemed like a decent compromise that allowed for lots of finetuning of permissions, per application. Luckily, I'm using a custom ROM that re-enables it, Google be damned. Google claims App Ops may break some applications - well, that's not really any of my concern. If an application breaks because I do not give it permission to find out if I'm on the toilet or not - there's always an uninstall button.
So, Google better have some serious improvement in mind for application permissions, or they're just making sure regular users don't get into the habit of blocking Google's data collection. I hope the former, but I'm reasonably sure it's the latter.
Reviving an old computer is like restoring a classic car: There's a thrill from bringing the ancient into the modern world. So it was with my first "real" computer, my Mac Plus, when I decided to bring it forward three decades and introduce it to the modern Web.
It's amazing what's possible on these old machines.
This website runs an emulator of the Amiga 500 inside of Chrome by using Portable Native Client, a way to run existing C/C++ in the browser in a safe way across operating systems and across machine architectures. On the main page you can boot the Amiga, insert floppy disks, play the games, and generally pretend it's still the late 80s.
Jordan Hubbard has announced the release of FreeNAS 9.2.0, a FreeBSD-based operating system that enables the users to build networked storage: "After one early beta and two release candidates, it gives us great pleasure to announce the full and final release of FreeNAS 9.2.0. As implied from the....
Yann Le Doaré has announced the release of LinuxConsole 2.0, a major new version of the project's Linux distribution designed primarily for game consoles: "LinuxConsole 2.0 is ready. Features: fast boot; should run on old and new video cards (Intel, NVIDIA, ATI); live CD and live USB; can....
Peter Baldwin has announced the release of ClearOS 6.5.0 "Community" edition, a CentOS-based distribution for cloud-connected servers and gateways designed for homes, hobbyists and small organisations: "ClearOS Community 6.5.0 is now available. Along with the usual round of bug fixes and enhancements, the 6.5.0 release introduces QoS, marketplace....