Archive for the ‘Tech’ Category

Microsoft making more of the Windows 10 built-in apps removable

October 18th, 2018

It will soon be possible to discard more of the in-box apps that ship with Windows 10.

Currently, a handful of pre-installed apps can be removed, including OneNote, Skype, and Weather, but most of the other built-in apps are permanent fixtures. Windows 10 has also promoted a number of third-party applications such as Candy Crush Saga to the chagrin of many. These don't appear to be going away, but such apps have always been uninstallable if you don't want them. However, the latest preview build of Windows 10, build 18262, enables the removal of apps such as Mail, Calendar, Movies & TV, and the Groove Music app.

The ability to remove these apps doesn't really mean much in terms of disk space or convenience, as none of them are very big. The move may be of more interest to corporate deployments; an organization that has standardized on Outlook, for example, might want to remove the Mail and Calendar apps to reduce user confusion.

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Posted in Crapware, microsoft, Tech, Windows | Comments (0)

Essential circles the drain, lays off 30 percent of staff

October 18th, 2018
The Essential Phone and 360 camera.

Enlarge / The Essential Phone and 360 camera. (credit: Ron Amadeo)

Things aren't looking good for Essential, Andy Rubin's smartphone startup. After announcing it was cancelling its next smartphone earlier this year, the company will now lay off 30 percent of its staff, according to a report from Bloomberg.

Essential produced a pretty good product for its first-ever smartphone. The Essential Phone had a unique ceramic body, pioneered the notch design trend, and shipped with stock Android. Essential's update support has also been great—besides consistent monthly security updates, it delivered an update to Android 9 Pie on day one, an unheard-of speed for most Android OEMs. Essential did all this while, in the news, it seemed like a dead company and was considering a sale.

The Essential Phone ultimately wasn't competitive, though. It had flagship pricing but couldn't keep up with the competition, lacking a good camera, screen, and water resistance. Essential was also a brand-new company, and it's hard to trust a company with no track record. The phone didn't sell well, and eventually, fire sales took the price from $700 all the way down to $250.

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Spotify comes to Wear OS with stand-alone app, Spotify Connect support

October 17th, 2018
Spotify standalone Wear OS app on three Fossil smartwatch screens.

Enlarge (credit: Spotify/Fossil)

Wear OS gains a popular new app today that many have been waiting for, as Spotify announced that it's bringing a stand-alone wearable app to Google's smartwatch platform.

Spotify's stand-alone app lets you browse and control music from your wrist. It seems to be a lighter version of Spotify's mobile app, allowing you to browse your tracks and playlists and quickly save songs to your library. You can also control playback from your wrist—it appears similar to Wear OS' native music controls, just built into a dedicated Spotify app.

The Wear OS app also integrates with Spotify Connect, the company's method of connecting and controlling playback on Bluetooth devices. Now from your wrist, you can manage connections between Bluetooth speakers, laptops, and other devices and quickly change the playback source.

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Posted in apple watch, fossil, spotify, Tech, watchos, wear OS, wearables | Comments (0)

After $5 billion EU antitrust fine, Google will start charging for Android apps

October 17th, 2018
After $5 billion EU antitrust fine, Google will start charging for Android apps

(credit: Aurich Lawson)

Google is adjusting to life in the EU after the $5.05 billion (€4.34 billion) antitrust fine levied against it by the European Commission earlier this year. Google is still appealing the initial ruling, which found that Google used Android to illegally dominate the search market, but for now Google will comply with the ruling and offer looser licensing agreements to Android device makers.

In a post on the official Google Blog titled "Complying with the EC’s Android decision," Google outlined a few changes coming to the Google app licensing agreements that it offers to Android OEMs. As you might recall from the numerous times we've written about it, this announcement is a change to the secretive "Mobile Application Distribution Agreement" (MADA) document that is a requirement for getting access to the Play Store and other Google apps. What we think of as a commercial "Android" device comes in two parts. The core Android OS is free and open source—anyone can take it and do whatever they want with it without Google's involvement. If you want the Play Store, Google Maps, Gmail, and all the other Google apps you need to make a viable commercial smartphone, though, you need to talk to Google and sign a MADA, which comes with a ton of restrictions.

The new rules

Google's new MADA makes three big changes. First, Google's blog states "Android partners wishing to distribute Google apps may also build non-compatible, or forked, smartphones and tablets for the European Economic Area (EEA)." The last time we saw a MADA document (back in 2014), it had an "anti-fragmentation" clause, which said that any company signing the agreement has to be all-in on Google's Android. If you produced any Android device without Google's apps, you got booted from the Google ecosystem. This means that a company like Amazon, which makes forked Kindle devices, could never ship a smartphone with Google apps.

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Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Mozilla come together to end TLS 1.0

October 16th, 2018
A green exterior door is sealed with a padlock.

Enlarge (credit: Indigo girl / Flickr)

Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Mozilla have announced a unified plan to deprecate the use of TLS 1.0 and 1.1 early in 2020.

TLS (Transport Layer Security) is used to secure connections on the Web. TLS is essential to the Web, providing the ability to form connections that are confidential, authenticated, and tamper-proof. This has made it a big focus of security research, and over the years, a number of bugs that had significant security implications have been found in the protocol. Revisions have been published to address these flaws.

The original TLS 1.0, heavily based on Netscape's SSL 3.0, was first published in January 1999. TLS 1.1 arrived in 2006, while TLS 1.2, in 2008, added new capabilities and fixed these security flaws. Irreparable security flaws in SSL 3.0 saw support for that protocol come to an end in 2014; the browser vendors now want to make a similar change for TLS 1.0 and 1.1.

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Posted in apple, browsers, chrome, EDGE, Firefox, google, microsoft, Mozilla, Safari, security, standards, Tech, TLS | Comments (0)

Now Dell has a mixed reality headset, and the XPS 13 has 8th-gen Intel CPUs

August 28th, 2017

Enlarge (credit: Valentina Palladino)

Dell has a wide array of products under its name and brands, including Alienware, but the company has never had its own mixed reality headset until now. Dell announced the Dell Visor ahead of this year’s IFA conference, along with a number of updates to its XPS and Inspiron systems. Most notably, all of Dell’s updated laptops and convertibles will have 8th-generation Intel processors, making them some of the first devices to launch with the new CPUs later this year.

Dell jumps into mixed reality

Dell has made a number of VR-ready desktops and laptops, but now it has its own VR headset to go along with them. The company’s first mixed reality headset looks most like HP’s or Acer’s headset, with an oval-shaped ring that fits around your head with an attached, goggle-like viewfinder. The head-wrapping ring adjusts easily using a thumbwheel that expands and contracts the sides, similar to adjusting the length of a pair of over-ear headphones. With the ring opened just wide enough for your head, you can tilt the viewfinder up to put the device on, then snap it down into place when you’re ready to enter a mixed reality experience.

Overall, the Visor feels less cumbersome on your face than an Oculus Rift. With no external sensors needed, it’s also easier to set up than an HTC Vive. Users will still need to draw a five-by-seven-foot boundary for their mixed reality situations to live in, but that’s done by simply hovering the headset over your boundary lines. The Visor connects to a compatible PC through a single USB Type-C connector, and you only have to manage that one cord, so it creates less of a mess around your PC. Similarly to HP’s and Acer’s headsets, it has 1440×1440 panels for each eye.

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Posted in ar, dell, dell visor, Gaming & Culture, inspiron 5000, inspiron 7000, mixed reality headset, Tech, VR, xps-13 | Comments (0)

A 4K Apple TV set-top box may come out this fall

August 24th, 2017

(credit: Andrew Cunningham)

Apple is reportedly debuting much more than new iPhones later this year. According to a Bloomberg report, the company will reveal an updated 4K TV box alongside the new iPhones at its rumored September event. The new Apple TV will stream 4K content and highlight “live television,” including news and sports.

The ability to stream 4K content would be the biggest update that the Apple TV has seen in a while, at least in terms of hardware. Back in 2015, the Apple TV was updated with a new remote control, app store, and Siri support. The report claims the new device will have a faster processor capable of streaming 4K and HDR content. But as with any 4K set-top box, users will have to connect it to a display that’s also capable of playing 4K content to reap any benefits.

To accompany the new set-top box, Apple is also reportedly testing out a new version of the TV app. This was introduced last year as an app that aggregates streaming video content from various sources, making it easier for users to watch all their favorite content in one place.

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Posted in 4K, Apple TV, original video content, Tech | Comments (0)

Confederate sub’s weapon killed its own crew, researchers find

August 24th, 2017

The Confederate submarine CSS H. L. Hunley bears the distinction of being the first submarine to ever sink an enemy ship. But the Hunley, a work of state-of-the-art engineering for its time, never returned from that mission on February 17, 1864. Instead, after exploding a “torpedo” below the waterline of the Union sloop-of-war USS Housatonic in Charleston Harbor, the sub was lost at sea. 

Just how the sub was lost had been a mystery for over a century. The Hunley would not be found again until it was discovered on the floor of Charleston Bay in 1995. The sub was recovered five years later—largely intact, with the remains of its crew all at their stations. Based on the findings of Clemson University archaeologists who examined and restored the sub, it did not appear any attempt was made by the crew to escape.

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Posted in civil war, CSS Hunley, science, Submarines, Tech | Comments (0)

Report: Google’s flagship smartphones launch October 5

August 24th, 2017

Android Police

VentureBeat’s Evan Blass says he knows the date for the launch of Google’s next smartphone, the Pixel 2: October 5th. The ever-reliable leaker also says the device will come with a new SoC from Qualcomm, a “Snapdragon 836.”

The report lines up well with how Google did things last year. The Google Hardware division held an event around the same time—October 4th—where it unveiled the Google Home, Google Wi-Fi, Daydream VR, a 4k Chromecast, and the Google Pixel phones. This year, in addition to the phones, Android Police claims Google will also launch a new Chromebook and a smaller version of the Google Home. It would not surprise me to hear about a few other devices as well.

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Posted in Tech | Comments (0)

Report: Google’s flagship smartphones launch October 5

August 24th, 2017

Android Police

VentureBeat’s Evan Blass says he knows the date for the launch of Google’s next smartphone, the Pixel 2: October 5th. The ever-reliable leaker also says the device will come with a new SoC from Qualcomm, a “Snapdragon 836.”

The report lines up well with how Google did things last year. The Google Hardware division held an event around the same time—October 4th—where it unveiled the Google Home, Google Wi-Fi, Daydream VR, a 4k Chromecast, and the Google Pixel phones. This year, in addition to the phones, Android Police claims Google will also launch a new Chromebook and a smaller version of the Google Home. It would not surprise me to hear about a few other devices as well.

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