Archive for the ‘Tech’ Category

Report: Microsoft is scrapping Edge, switching to just another Chrome clone

December 4th, 2018
Report: Microsoft is scrapping Edge, switching to just another Chrome clone

Enlarge (credit: Getty / Aurich)

Windows Central reports that Microsoft is planning to replace its Edge browser, which uses Microsoft's own EdgeHTML rendering engine and Chakra JavaScript engine, with a new browser built on Chromium, the open source counterpart to Google's Chrome. The new browser has the codename Anaheim.

The report is short on details. The easiest thing for Microsoft to do would be to use Chromium's code wholesale—the Blink rendering engine, the V8 JavaScript engine, and the Chrome user interface with the Google Account parts omitted—to produce something that looks, works, and feels almost identical to Chrome. Alternatively, Redmond could use Blink and V8 but wrap them in Edge's user interface (or some derivative thereof), to retain its own appearance. It might even be possible to do something weird, such as use Blink with the Chakra JavaScript engine. We'll have to wait and see.

Since its launch with Windows 10, Edge has failed to gain much market share. The first iterations of Edge were extremely barebones, offering little more than a basic tabbed browser—no extensions, little control over behavior. Early releases of Edge were also not as stable as one might have liked, making the browser hard to recommend. Three years later on and Edge is greatly—but unevenly—improved. The browser engine's stability seems to be much better than it was, and performance and compatibility remain solid (though with the exception of a few corner cases, these were never a real concern).

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Posted in browsers, chrome, EDGE, microsoft, standards, Tech, Web, Windows | Comments (0)

Google bridges Android and iOS development with Flutter 1.0

December 4th, 2018
Google bridges Android and iOS development with Flutter 1.0

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Today Google is launching Flutter 1.0, the first stable release of its open-source, cross-platform UI toolkit and SDK. Flutter lets developers share a single code base across Android and iOS apps, with a focus on speed and maintaining a native feel. The announcement was made today at Google's Flutter Live conference in London—a show dedicated entirely to the launch of Google's new developer track.

Flutter enables cross-platform app code by sidestepping the UI frameworks of both Android and iOS. Flutter apps run on the Flutter rendering engine and Flutter framework, which are shipped with every app. The Flutter platform handles communication with each OS and can spit out Android and iOS binaries with native-looking widgets and scrolling behavior if desired. It's kind of like applying a "video game" style of development to apps: if you write for a game engine like Unity or Unreal, those engines are packaged with your game, allowing it to run on multiple different platforms. It's the same deal with Flutter.

Flutter apps are written in Dart, and the SDK offers programmers nice quality-of-life benefits like the "stateful hot reload," a way to instantly make code changes appear in the emulator. For IDEs, there are plugins for Visual Studio Code, Android Studio, and IntelliJ. Apps come with their own set of Flutter UI widgets for Android and iOS, with the iOS widgets closely following Apple's guidelines and the Android widgets following Google's Material Design.

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Posted in Tech | Comments (0)

Review: Helm Personal Server gets email self-hosting (almost) exactly right

December 4th, 2018
The Helm Personal Server, <em>in situ</em> in my office during the review.

Enlarge / The Helm Personal Server, in situ in my office during the review.

Specs at a glance: Helm Personal Server
CPU Quad-core 1.6GHz ARM Cortex-A72 w/TrustZone crypto module
RAM 2GB ECC
Storage 128GB NVMe SSD w/256-bit AES-XTS encryption
Connectivity 802.11ac/a/b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.2, Gigabit Ethernet, 2x USB-C 3.0
Dimensions 111.1mm x 180.9mm x 130.1mm (4.375" x 7.125" x 5.125")
Price $499.99 at the Helm store (plus $99/year subscription, waived for first year)

As Ars security-meister Dan Goodin noted in his initial write-up back in October, the Helm Personal Server is a small-ish ARM-based email server that sits in your home and does for you what Gmail or Outlook.com or whomever your current email provider does for you. It’s a full-featured, single-domain (for now) MTA in a box that you can use with an unlimited number of email addresses and accounts, and it gives you 128GB of space to use as a mail store for those accounts. It also gives you CalDAV calendaring, notes, and CardDAV contacts, and it does it all with open-source applications that are chosen and configured in a way that demonstrates a solid bias toward individual security and privacy.

And I like it. I like it a lot. I didn’t think I would, but after spending a week with the device, I’m almost ready to spring for one—almost. And that’s high praise, coming from a paranoid email self-hoster like me.

Based on my short time with the Personal Server, the praise is properly earned. The Helm team based its product mostly around the same mail stack that I personally prefer and use—the holy trinity of Postfix for SMTP, Dovecot for IMAP, and SpamAssassin for keeping things clean. The device properly uses SPF, DKIM, and DMARC—and handles all the DNS stuff necessary to make those things work. End-user data is smartly encrypted at rest and in flight. Clever use of tunneling to AWS-based gateways transparently works around common ISP blocks on email service ports. And, perhaps most importantly, you don’t have to know what any of that stuff means to use the device securely—casual folks who maybe just want to lessen their reliance on Google or Microsoft will find the transition to Helm relatively painless, and there aren’t many ways to screw it up and make yourself less secure.

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Posted in Ars Approved, e-mail, e-mail hosting, helm, helm personal server, home server, review, servers, taking back e-mail, Tech | Comments (0)

Tim Cook: Apple won’t tolerate white supremacists, conspiracy theorists

December 4th, 2018
Apple CEO Tim Cook looks on as the new iPhone X goes on sale at an Apple Store on November 3, 2017 in Palo Alto, California.

Enlarge / Apple CEO Tim Cook looks on as the new iPhone X goes on sale at an Apple Store on November 3, 2017 in Palo Alto, California. (credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Apple CEO Tim Cook further condemned white supremacists when he accepted an award from the Anti-Defamation League at an event in New York on Monday. The ADL honored Cook with its first ever Courage Against Hate Award, and the tech CEO took his time on the stage to address Apple's stance against hate speech and what he thinks are tech companies' responsibilities to customers.

"From the earliest days of iTunes, to Apple Music today, we have always prohibited music with a message of white supremacy," Cook said. "Why? Because it’s the right thing to do. And as we showed this year, we won’t give a platform to violent conspiracy theorists on the App Store."

He went on to say that tech companies shouldn't be afraid to take the moral high-ground and stand up against hate speech and discrimination of all sorts.

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Posted in App Store, apple, Facebook, hate speech, Tech, Tim Cook, Twitter | Comments (0)

The Ars Holiday Gift Guide 2018—good tech for the power user in your life

December 4th, 2018
A power user, desperately hoping for a NAS this year, can't help themselves and must rip into this beautifully wrapped gift.

Enlarge / A power user, desperately hoping for a NAS this year, can't help themselves and must rip into this beautifully wrapped gift. (credit: Aurich / Thinkstock)

After focusing on gifts for the road and gifts for the home, Ars' third installment in our 2018 Holiday Gift Guide goes a different route. Since Ars is a site for people who don’t mind digging deep into how tech works, the theme today is gift ideas for “power users”—those who are more involved with modern tech and can’t stand to use less than fully-featured gear.

Basically, these items seem tailor-made for the people in your life who may already read a site like Ars Technica. The protocol here is the same as it was with our first two guides: we’ve looked back on a year of gadget testing and rounded up a smattering of items we think would make your loved one happy. Fair warning: because this particular guide is aimed at people who demand high utility and/or high performance, some of the items below are a little pricey. But, as always, you get what you pay for.

Note: Ars Technica may earn compensation for sales from links on this post through affiliate programs.

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Posted in buying guide, Features, gift guide, Holiday Gift Guide 2018, Tech | Comments (0)

Apple will skip 5G in 2019, report says

December 3rd, 2018
The iPhone 8, the iPhone XS, the iPhone XR, and the iPhone XS Max.

Enlarge / From left to right: the iPhone 8, the iPhone XS, the iPhone XR, and the iPhone XS Max. (credit: Samuel Axon)

Apple will not introduce an iPhone capable of taking advantage of faster 5G cellular data networks in 2019, a report from Bloomberg says. Citing people familiar with Apple's plans, the report specifies that Apple will wait until "at least 2020" to make the move.

5G networks are expected to ramp up deployment in the US, China, and other Apple markets in 2019. 5G promises one of the biggest generational leaps in cellular data speeds yet, and Apple competitors like Samsung are likely to market 5G handsets next year to capitalize on it. Further, networks like Verizon want to lead users onto the new 5G networks as soon as possible because the technology is more efficient and will ensure that the companies can make higher profits while theoretically offering the most reliable service.

Investors and analysts might have reason to be concerned that Apple will miss a major marketing opportunity if it waits too long to adopt the new technology, the Bloomberg report suggests.

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Posted in 5G, apple, broadband, cellular data, iphone, LTE, Tech | Comments (0)

Barnes and Noble’s newest Kindle competitor is a 7-inch, $49 Nook

December 3rd, 2018
Barnes and Noble’s newest Kindle competitor is a 7-inch, $49 Nook

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Barnes and Noble hasn't given up on its Nook tablets—quite the contrary, in fact. Last month, the bookseller debuted its biggest Android reading tablet yet, a $129, 10.1-inch slab with room for up to 256GB of storage. And today, Barnes and Noble came out with another, much more affordable tablet: an updated version of its two-year-old, 7-inch Nook that costs only $49.

The new Nook looks nearly identical to the previous model, which was the smallest Nook when it came out a couple of years ago. The black slate has a 7-inch, 1024×600 display on it, as well as a microUSB port for charging, a headphone jack, and a microSD card slot. The original tablet had a mere 8GB of onboard storage, but the new device starts at 16GB. With the microSD card slot, you can have up to 128GB of total storage—enough to support numerous e-books and a decent number of Android apps.

In addition, the tablet has Wi-Fi and Bluetooth support, front- and rear-facing cameras (the former being a VGA camera and the latter being a 2MP shooter), and up to seven hours of battery life on a single charge. It's certainly not the most capable Android tablet, but at $49, it's one of the most affordable available.

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Posted in amazon, barnes and noble, clara HD, e-reader, kindle, Kobo, Nook, paperwhite, Tech | Comments (0)

Apple published a surprising amount of detail about how the HomePod works

December 3rd, 2018
Image of a HomePod

Enlarge / Siri on Apple's HomePod speaker. (credit: Jeff Dunn)

Today, Apple published a long and informative blog post by its audio software engineering and speech teams about how they use machine learning to make Siri responsive on the HomePod, and it reveals a lot about why Apple has made machine learning such a focus of late.

The post discusses working in a far-field setting where users are calling on Siri from any number of locations around the room relative to the HomePod's location. The premise is essentially that making Siri work on the HomePod is harder than on the iPhone for that reason. The device must compete with loud music playback from itself.

Apple addresses these issues with multiple microphones along with machine learning methods—specifically:

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Posted in AI, apple, audio, HomePod, machine learning, Tech | Comments (0)

Report: AirPods with wireless charging expected in early 2019

December 3rd, 2018
The first generation AirPods.

Enlarge / The first generation AirPods. (credit: Valentina Palladino)

The approaching new year may bring updated AirPods sooner than we thought. A report by 9to5Mac cites noted Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo's predictions that Apple may release a new model of its truly wireless earbuds with "wireless charging support" in the first quarter of 2019.

The upgrade may only refer to the AirPods' charging case rather than the earbuds themselves. Kuo claims the upgrade case will have a new "rigid-flex board" internal component, redesigned hinges, and support for better thermal management. He also notes that these changes will make the case more expensive to produce, possibly leading to a higher price tag for the new product.

However, Kuo also suggests that the new AirPods themselves will have upgraded Bluetooth specs (possibly Bluetooth 5.0, no word on a new Apple-made, W-series chip). This may mean that Apple will debut an upgraded set of AirPods with internal improvements that comes with the new wireless charging case, but it may also make that wireless charging case available as an add-on for current AirPod owners.

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Posted in airpods, AirPower, apple, iphone, Ming-Chi Kuo, Tech, wireless charging | Comments (0)

Palm Phone Review: Fun, endearing, and bad at everything

December 1st, 2018

"Seriously?"

That's usually the expression I get when I whip out the new Palm phone, one of the tiniest Android phones released in recent memory. This 3.3-inch device has a spec sheet closer to a smartwatch than a smartphone, and it looks more like a prop from a comedy skit rather than a serious connectivity product. There have been phones with 3.3-inch displays in the past, but they haven't really been combined with the more compact design trends of today. The result is something ridiculously, eye-catchingly small. The Palm phone looks like a joke.

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