It’s been just over a year since Android was released, and we’re finally seeing the floodgates open. There are currently no fewer than 12 Android phones available and still more coming soon. While this may make Android fans out there giddy with excitement, it’s not so thrilling for app developers.
There are 3 versions on Android in the wild: 2.0, 1.6, and 1.5. Developers increasingly find themselves devoting time to patching incompatibilities with new Android handsets. “Instead of working on updates to our apps, we find we are trying to make each app work for multiple versions of the OS and different hardware capabilities,” said Froogloid’s Chris Fagan.
The modifications some manufacturers are making to Android complicate things even further. The recent;y released HTC Hero, for example, was incompatible with Froogloid’s application ‘a2b’. When a2b attempted to enable GPS using standard commands, the Hero would instead respond by presenting the lock screen. The new Motorola Droid also had a few incompatibilities due to the high screen resolution and new Android 2.0 APIs.
Can Android overcome this fragmentation? The solution may be to keep phones more uniformly updated. But that requires better cooperation between hardware partners and Google. Only time will tell if Android’s ecosystem can continue to grow more robust despite these challenges.
It looks like those rumors about the impending release of Google’s Chrome OS weren’t all smoke and mirrors. Google is planning to hold a Chrome OS event at its Mountain View headquarters this Thursday. Apparently Google will be giving some technical background, as well as showing some demos of the OS in action.
Google Senior VP of Product Management, Sundar Pichai, and Google Engineering Director, Matthew Papakipos will be speaking at the show. There will also be a Q&A after the event. No word on possible developer preview access though.
Chrome OS was just announced in July, so the fact that Google is already prepared to give a complete overview is impressive. There have been a few leaks of possible browser UI designs, but now we’ll get to see what form the whole OS will take. Are your hopes high for this operating system? Feel free to share any predictions in the comments.
At long last, Google has finally released the source code for Android 2.0 (codenamed Eclair). Motorola's Droid is the only smartphone currently shipping that's built around the latest version, but now that Eclair's out in the wild, expect to see plenty more handset makers jump on board.
The release is also great news for the Android modding community, many of which have been eagerly awaiting the update. Modding guru Steve Kondik, otherwise popularly known as "Cyanogen," stated in a Twitter message that he's already gotten Eclair to run on his HTC G1 smartphone, noting that "it runs really well, fast, and smooth. Audio and video not working yet, though."
So what's the big deal? Android 2.0 is the most significant update to Google's open source platform to date. Just a few of the added features include native Exchange support, search functionality for all saved SMS and MMS messages, more camera options (built-in flash, digital zoom, white balance, and so forth), an improved virtual keyboard, multi-touch support, and more. This could be the OS that finally gives Apple's iPhone OS a run for its money.
Apple didn't just win its case against Psystar, it demolished the "open computer" vendor whose Mac clones triggered a legal battle over whether or not the hackintoshes violated Mac OS X's EULA. According to Judge William Alsup, it most certainly does. In fact, the judge ruled in Apple's favor on every count brought to the court's attention, although the biggest focus was on copyright.
"Psystar's use of Mac OS X has been in excess and has violated Apple's copyrights," the judge wrote at one point in his 16-page order.
According to Groklaw, there are still issues that remain for trial, including allegations of breach of contract, induced breach of contract, trademark infringement, trademark dilution, trade dress infringement, and state unfair competition under California Business and Professions. In other words, the best case scenario for Psystar at this point is that it will be held liable for damages on Apple's copyright claims, but with its primary defense now seemingly dismantled, the company appears to be in a world of hurt. Or as Groklaw puts it, "Psystar is toast."
It was reported that just a day after Microsoft squashed a dozen bugs in its software, there remained an unpatched bug in Windows 7 and Server 2008 R2 capable of locking up systems and forcing a complete shutdown in order to regain control. Turns out the report was true, as Microsoft Friday evening confirmed that the unpatched vulnerability does indeed exist.
"Microsoft is aware of public, detailed exploit code that would cause a system to stop functioning or become unreliable," Dave Forstrom, a spokesman for Microsoft security group, said in an email. "The company is not aware of attacks to exploit the reported vulnerability at this time."
In theory, the attacks could be targeted towards any browser. Should a user be tricked into visiting a malicious site, hackers could send out tainted URIs (uniform resource identifiers) and crash their PCs.
Microsoft didn't give a time frame on when it will patch the bug. In the meantime, users can stay protected by blocking TCP ports 139 and 445 at the firewall, although doing so would also disable browsers and a host of critical services, including network file-sharing and IT group policies, ComputerWorld reports.
We almost made it halfway through November without a Chrome OS rumor, and if the latest inside tip turns out to be true, the oft talked about OS will launch next week so we never have to hear another related rumor again.
At least, that's the word coming from Michael Arrington over at TechCrunch, who says a "reliable" birdie told him we'll all be able to download the lean OS within a week. When and if that does happen, expect sketchy driver support, as Google engineers continue to work around the clock building hardware drivers. Or, according to other rumors, it will be up to hardware manufacturers to get their drivers in line. Whichever the case might be, expected a bit of busted support out of the box.
TechCrunch says the launch will probably be a cautious one in terms of which platform the OS supports. Netbooks will be the most obvious candidates, and it's unlikely Google will tout Chrome as being ready for notebooks and desktops in general. The search-giant-gone-OS-developer might even list specific makes and models that Chrome is known to work with.
Think we'll see Chrome OS next week? Hit the jump and place your bets.
Right from the very beginning, Windows XP has dominated the netbook scene. Vista is just too demanding for a low-power PC, and Linux hasn't been able to win over the mainstream. But even though Windows XP played an important role in the popularizing ultraportable netbooks, Microsoft appears ready to move on.
"We will continue to make Windows XP available for those devices [netbooks], but it doesn't make sense to put marketing effort behind those devices. As much as we make Windows XP available for a year, we won't see it last in the market that long. We will get through the holidays. My gut is we will walk away from the holidays and see that it's not worth keeping on the market," said Don Paterson, director of netbook PCs in Microsoft's Windows client group.
Moving on is something Microsoft probably would have liked to have done with Vista, but it just sucked up too many resources to be a viable alternative to XP. That changes with Windows 7, which looks to become the new standard.
A Microsoft manager has gone on record saying one of Microsoft's goals with Windows 7 was to "create a Mac look and feel in terms of graphics." After posting the story, Maximum PC reader Tekzel commented, "That dude is sooo going to get in trouble." Tekzel, you sooo called it.
It didn't take long at all for Microsoft to distance itself from Simon Aldous, the partner group manger who made the comment. In an official Windows blog post this morning, here's what Microsoft had to say:
"An inaccurate quote has been floating around the Internet today about the design origins of Windows 7 and whether its look and feel was “borrowed” from Mac OS X. Unfortunately this came from a Microsoft employee who was not involved in any aspect of designing Windows 7. I hate to say this about one of our own, but his comments were inaccurate and uninformed."
Oh snap! Microsoft went on to suggest reading an AP story with Ms. Larson-Green and a couple of other articles linked in the blog to learn more about the design of Windows 7.
Director of Programming for Xbox Live Larry Hryb (better known as Major Nelson) is a few weeks late on this one, but we still give him props for a pretty hilarious Achievement issued to Microsoft: Shipped Windows 7. Unlocking the novelty Achievement adds a billion points to Microsoft's Gamerscore (even if Apple gets the assist).
"We've been a little busy around the Xbox offices getting ready for the Facebook, Twitter, Last.FM, and Zune Video marketplace release coming up. We did, however, wanted to recognize the occasion the best way we know how: with an Achievement! We had a banner made up for everyone on the LIVE team to sign, then we hung it up in the lobby of the main Windows building," Hryb wrote on his blog.
Apple would argue that Microsoft has been ripping off its Mac OS GUI ever since Windows was first introduced, a notion Microsoft has dismissed on more than one occasion. That being the case, we're willing to bet the Redmond company isn't too thrilled that one of its managers is flapping his gums about Windows 7 taking a liberal cue from Mac OS X.
"One of the things that people say an awful lot about the Apple Mac is that the OS is fantastic, that it's very graphical and easy to use," said Simon Aldous, partner group manager with Microsoft. "What we've tried to do with Windows 7 -- whether it's traditional format or in a touch format -- is create a Mac look and feel in terms of graphics."
Spending a little time with the redesigned Taskbar is all it takes to see what Aldous is talking about, and it's not too difficult to find other similarities, either. And that's not necessarily a bad thing, though it's not something you want to flaunt if you're Microsoft, or one of Microsoft's managers. These types of admissions have a way of ending up twisted, taken out of context, and capitalized on by Mac OS pitchmen Justin Long and John Hodgman.