• Commentary and Analysis

    by Published on 09-23-2016 07:00 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Commentary and Analysis
    Article Preview



    Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh have just published the results of a two-year study on wearable technology and weight loss. A total of 471 participants in the study, men and women aged 18-35, were weeded down into two groups; the group using fitness trackers lost less weight on average than the ones that didn't.

    All of the initial subjects got six months of a low-calorie diet, prescribed increases in physical activity and group counseling. From that larger group subjects were selected at random for an additional 18 months of phone counseling, SMS reminders and access to either a website or a wearable device.

    The results: After 2 years, the non-wearable group lost 13 lbs on average, and the wearable group only 7.7 lbs. ...
    by Published on 09-21-2016 07:30 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Commentary and Analysis,
    3. Apps
    Article Preview



    Sometime overnight Allo, Google's mobile-first messaging app, went live. Available for both Android and iOS, it may or may not be ready for download in your country or to your specific device—but Android users can at least grab the officiall package from Android Police's APK Mirror.

    Reading through the feature list on the official website I can already tell that this app is not for me; it's meant for a user whose primary—possibly only—connection to the Internet is through their smartphone. There's currently no desktop client for it, nor do there seem to be any data portability options. You register for Allo with a Google account and a phone number, though the Google hook-up is only necessary if you want to interact with Google's chatbot, @google.

    Out of the gate Allo faces some stiff competition from more established players in the rich messaging racket, including Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and a slew of alternatives whose popularity will depend on what part of the world you call home. So why even bother? ...
    by Published on 09-15-2016 07:30 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Commentary and Analysis
    Article Preview



    "There isn't really going to be much if any involvement from the Inc this time around and I'm taking on a lot of stuff on my own to try and keep us moving forward."

    That's an uncharacteristically candid Steve Kondik, commenting in a commit thread for CyanogenMod, the first and most famous custom ROM for Android devices. It was discovered by Android Police earlier this week, and if nothing else is an indication that the Nougat-powered version of CyanogenMod, CM14, might face some delays.

    To Kondik's credit, CyanogenMod development was largely unaffected by the folly of the corporate counterpart, Cyanogen, Inc. A quick summary of how that went: What I initially saw as a savvy move to bring a Western-friendly OS to the rising tide of Chinese Android phones was squandered through arrogance and the downright sleazy deal with Micromax that got OnePlus banned from India. At the end of it all, "the Inc." had little to show but a few custom apps and a questionable deal with Microsoft. ...
    by Published on 09-12-2016 07:30 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Commentary and Analysis,
    3. Apps
    Article Preview



    XDA was the bearer of bad news for Pokémon GO players over the weekend; the latest update to the game locks out Android users with root, and jailbroken iPhones as well. The official line from Niantic Labs is as follows:

    "We continue to focus on eliminating bots and scrapers from Pokémon GO. Rooted or jailbroken devices are not supported by Pokémon GO. Remember to download Pokémon GO from the official Google Play Store or iTunes App Store only."

    Okay, fair enough... Niantic wants only to keep an even playing field for everyone participating, right? It's a noble idea, but there are at least three problems with the way they've chosen to implement it. First, the game's root-block can be bypassed—I wouldn't call it easy but for someone hell-bent on being a Pokémon cheat it's certainly doable. Second, there's the rather insulting presumption that a user who has taken full control of their Android or iOS device has done so only to punk the game. And third, there is the continuing, if unspoken, narrative by software companies that rooted or jailbroken phones are somehow unsafe. If you've rooted or jailbroken your own device then this is just not true.

    So now, if you're a Pokémon player with root, your only choices are to give it up or bypass the root/jailbreak checks. The game itself is almost certainly compromised already and will continue to be; Niantic has really accomplished nothing here. ...
    by Published on 09-08-2016 07:00 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Commentary and Analysis
    Article Preview



    I caught an interesting feature on the new iPhones yesterday, on BuzzFeed, of all places. It's all about the 3.5mm audio plug—or rather, the lack thereof, on the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus.

    Apple isn't the first phone-maker to nix the headphone jack, but as the world's most valuable brand it stands to face the most blowback from its customers. So it only makes sense that the first official explanation from the company got published in something other than your typical tech blog.

    Here's the relevant snippet straight from the source—Apple’s senior VP of hardware engineering Dan Riccio:

    At the top of both devices is something called the “driver ledge”—a small printed circuit board that drives the iPhone’s display and its backlight. Historically, Apple placed it there to accommodate improvements in battery capacity, where it was out of the way. But according to Riccio, the driver ledge interfered with the iPhone 7 line’s new larger camera systems, so Apple moved the ledge lower in both devices. But there, it interfered with other components, particularly the audio jack.

    So the company’s engineers tried removing the jack.
    This design decision opened up some intriguing possibilities, like a bigger battery, IP7 water resistance and a "Taptic Engine" right behind the home button. All of these features are now standard on the 7 and 7 Plus. ...
    by Published on 08-26-2016 07:30 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Commentary and Analysis
    Article Preview



    What the hell...? Hang on, I'll get to it.

    So Linux celebrated its 25th birthday yesterday, an event observed with a particularly good blog post on XDA. If you didn't know, Linux powers great swaths of the Internet—including these forums—as well as the world's dominant operation system, Android. Full disclosure: the desktop computer that I'm posting this from also runs Linux, so I've a bit of bias here. B)

    As awesome as Linux is, its software license is as big a deal or even bigger. Linux creator Linus Torvalds has called it "a defining factor" in the success of Linux; its official moniker is the GPL.

    GPL is an acronym for the GNU General Public License, which will hopefully explain the logo above. But GNU itself is also a recursive acronym for "GNU's not UNIX"—some lame programmer humour from GPL creator Richard Stallman, but also a pointed dig at the UNIX software running the mainframe computers that he used while studying at MIT. The GPL is quite unlike any other commercial software license in that it's founded on what Stallman calls the four freedoms—and if this sounds like some hippie bs it absolutely is. Silicon Valley as we know it today has direct ties to Haight-Ashbury's 1967 Summer of Love. Some forward-thinking minds back then saw how computers could change the world. ...
    by Published on 07-25-2016 07:30 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Commentary and Analysis
    Article Preview



    The infamous quote from Cyanogen, Inc. CEO Kirk McMaster, taken from an interview with Forbes in 2015. And the image accompanying an XDA tweet, bringing news that the days of Cyanogen OS may, in fact, be numbered.

    Android Police reported Friday afternoon that a significant portion of the company's workforce have been cut loose:

    Accounts indicate that employees were called into meetings, sometimes in groups, and told they were being let go. In Seattle, Steve Kondik himself is allegedly conducting the layoffs. At this time, we've been told roughly 30 out of the 136 people Cyanogen Inc. employs - around 20% of the workforce - have been let go. It's unclear if that number may change more in the coming hours and days. According to one source, the systems and QA teams in Palo Alto and Seattle have been heavily cut, with Cyanogen's smaller offices in Lisbon and India reportedly being essentially gutted. Community support members were allegedly removed, too.
    There are rumours that the company will abandon their Android OS entirely, focusing on apps instead. The employees laid off were mostly those working in the open source arm of the company. It won't mean the end of CyanogenMod, necessarily, because the ROM is open source. But it's definitely bad news for the commercial version of that product, Cyanogen OS. ...
    by Published on 07-13-2016 06:45 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Commentary and Analysis
    Article Preview



    Just yesterday J.D. Power released the results of a new survey, ranking the Apple Watch highest of all smartwatches in customer satisfaction. There's just one problem: another survey run by Quartz reports that nobody actually wants to buy one.

    Could they both be right?

    Here are the key findings from the J.D. Power 2016 Smartwatch Device Satisfaction Report. Note that customer satisfaction is calculated on a scale of 1,000 possible points:

    Apple (852) ranks highest in customer satisfaction with smartwatches and performs particularly well in comfort, styling/appearance and ease of use.

    Samsung (842) ranks second, performing well in customer service, display size and phone features.

    Overall customer satisfaction with smartwatches is 847.
    And here's a summary of the findings by Quartz:

    In early 2015, before the launch of the watch Quartz ran a survey asking iPhone owners if they planned to buy one. Only about 5% of owners thought it very likely they’d buy a watch in the next 12 months. A little over a year later, not too much has changed: Only about 8% of those surveyed this time said they owned an Apple Watch.

    The outlook for the next year isn’t much better: Less than 5% of respondents surveyed that didn’t already own an Apple Watch said they were either extremely likely or very likely to purchase an Apple Watch if a new version is released this year.
    The survey respondents, identified as a sample group of 534 US iPhone owners, singled out price as the biggest barrier to the purchase of an Apple Watch. Over 60% of them said that no new feature would justify the purchase of a new version at the launch price of the first. ...
    by Published on 07-11-2016 07:20 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Commentary and Analysis,
    3. Apps
    Article Preview



    I think it's safe to say that Pokémon GO has become the most successful augmented reality game ever, for the simple fact that it's already much more popular than the only other AR game I can think of, Ingress. For its follow-up to that title the same company, Niantic Labs, has partnered with Nintendo of America to release what appears to be a runaway hit.

    Though officially only available for download in Australia, New Zealand and the USA Pokémon GO can already boast tens of millions of players, and is so much of a strain on Niantic's servers that a wider rollout of the game to other markets has been put on pause.

    So what's the big deal about this title? How do you play it? And is there a way to get it if it's not yet available in your country? Read onwards, and I'll try to answer each of these questions as best I can. ...
    by Published on 07-08-2016 07:08 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Commentary and Analysis
    Article Preview



    There was an interesting point/counterpoint that caught my eye on the Android reddit this week—an editorial by Phil Nickinson of Android Central and a rebuttal by a Twitter user on Medium, that company's blogging platform.

    The Android Central op-ed, entitled The single reason I trust Google with my data, seeks to address the shock of users who discover that Google has been tracking their location through their Android phone. Location tracking can be turned off, of course, but more important is Google's transparency about the personal data it collects from you. ...
    by Published on 07-05-2016 07:10 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Commentary and Analysis
    Article Preview



    The good news is that if you own a Nexus or Samsung device, you're probably safe. For everyone else, full disk encryption on Android can be cracked.

    That's the verdict from Israeli security expert Gal Beniamini, and the subject of two features by Ars Technica and Digit over the weekend. The cause of the vulnerability has to do with how FDE works on Android, but the reason why so many devices are vulnerable is ultimately the lack of security updates available for them. ...
    by Published on 06-20-2016 07:05 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Commentary and Analysis
    Article Preview



    Yesterday morning I came across a post on the OnePlus subreddit with evidence that Android Authority had published, then deleted, an overly-critical opinion piece on the OnePlus 3. Unfortunately (for AA) a Google cache of the post—Strike Out: OnePlus’ 3rd flagship isn’t adding up for me—can still be read in its entirety, along with comments posted before it was pulled.

    So why was it pulled? Is the invisible hand of OnePlus somehow controlling the tech media and preventing disparaging words about its new flagship ever seeing the light of day? Or is there another, less sinister reason? ...
    by Published on 06-16-2016 07:00 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Commentary and Analysis,
    3. Apps
    Article Preview



    While CyanogenMod remains, for the moment, the godsend for Android modders, Cyanogen OS—which first became widely known on the original OnePlus One—is becoming more and more integrated with a variety of Microsoft services.

    It started back in April of 2015, when Cyanogen, Inc. announced a strategic partnership with Microsoft:

    "Under the partnership, Cyanogen will integrate and distribute Microsoft’s consumer apps and services across core categories, including productivity, messaging, utilities, and cloud-based services. As part of this collaboration, Microsoft will create native integrations on Cyanogen OS, enabling a powerful new class of experiences."

    In February of this year, Cyanogen announced their MOD platform—nothing to do whatsoever with the open source CyanogenMod, but instead a means for developers to hook their wares into Cyanogen OS. Now, a new version of CM OS has just been released, and Microsoft products and services are all over it. ...
    by Published on 06-14-2016 12:18 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Commentary and Analysis,
    4. Reviews and Hands-on
    Article Preview


    When the Moto G came out in 2013, it was way ahead of curve. In terms of value it just blew its contemporaries out of the water.

    The follow up, the 2014 Moto G wasn’t received quite as well. It was a decent package but Motorola forgot to toss in LTE, at a time when it was starting to become a must-have feature.

    The 2015 Moto G received LTE but other than having water resistance, the rest of the package wasn’t all that different from the 2014 and thus it was passed by the rest of the market.

    With the Moto G4 Plus, Motorola looks to regain the magic that has seeped away from the G line. ...
    by Published on 06-14-2016 06:35 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. News,
    3. Commentary and Analysis
    Article Preview



    The 2016 edition of Apple's annual Worldwide Developer Conference kicked off yesterday with a keynote that has yet to be posted to Apple's own site. Fortunately the big tech blogs and notable YouTubers were there to fill the void.

    iOS, tvOS, watchOS and the newly-renamed macOS are each getting a slew of new features. I saw a handy index of text links on iPhone in Canada, but to really understand what went down yesterday I figured that video was the way to go. So let's get to it! ...
    by Published on 06-13-2016 06:30 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Commentary and Analysis
    Article Preview



    The Huffington Post ran a story late last week accusing Apple of actively lobbying against so-called "right to repair" legislation in two of the four states where it has been proposed.

    Right to repair is an organized movement, currently seeking to be recognized by law in Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nebraska and New York. The official website makes the following pitch:

    "When manufacturers own the only repair shop around, prices go up and quality goes down. Competition is better for customers, but mom and pop repair shops are struggling with unfair practices by multinational corporations. Consumers and repair pros are starting to fight back."

    Lawmakers in the aforementioned states like the idea because it could potentially reduce the vast amounts of electronics waste generated by consumer electronics. Apple says it helps recycle millions of pounds of such waste each year, yet it has actively campaigned against right to repair. ...
    by Published on 06-06-2016 06:35 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Commentary and Analysis,
    3. Apps
    Article Preview



    By now everyone reading this has hopefully uninstalled ES File Explorer, the app with access to everything on your Android device—and potentially your home network—that also phones home to a remote server. If that weren't bad enough it's also become bogged down with adware as of late; a recent version put ads right on users' lock screens by default.

    Last Friday MakeUseOf included ES in a list of 10 popular Android apps not to install on your device. Here are the other 9 offenders on that list. ...
    by Published on 06-01-2016 06:48 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Commentary and Analysis
    Article Preview



    It's customization.

    Sure, you can swap out the band on the vast majority of watches out there, but only a smartwatch gives you the ability to change the watch face to match the band. The pair of photos you see here were taken on the same day; you'd be forgiven for thinking that they're two different watches. Okay, it probably doesn't help that I'm using the same watch face with both bands, but it definitely helps that the watch face in question has a customizable colour palette.

    Notifications on your wrist may be the raison d'ętre for smartwatches, but changeable faces and bands are what elevate them from the lowly fitness tracker. ...
    by Published on 05-31-2016 06:35 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Commentary and Analysis,
    3. Carriers
    Article Preview



    Last Thursday Professor Dwayne Winseck and Ben Klass—known on Howard Forums as Mediamorphis and benzito respectively—released a 46-page report assessing Bell Canada Enterprises' proposed bid to acquire Manitoba Telecommunications Services.

    They did so through the Canadian Media Concentration Research Project. According to its own website: "The CMCR project offers an independent academic, empirical and data-driven analysis of a deceptively simple yet profoundly important question: have telecom, media and Internet markets become more concentrated over time, or less?"

    Read on for a copy/paste of the CMCRP's press release, plus a bonus video from the floor of the Manitoba Legislature. ...
    by Published on 05-27-2016 01:36 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Commentary and Analysis,
    4. Reviews and Hands-on
    Article Preview


    When it comes to the top end of the market, flagships are more alike than they are different. Of course, the devil is in the details, they’re what separates the has and the has beens.

    I mean, they all come with 5-ish inch quad-HD displays, SoC powered by the latest ARM cores, 3 or 4GB of RAM, that sort of thing.

    So what is different about the G5? For starters, LG is touting the G5 as a modular phone. The bottom part can be removed so that you can attach other accessories.

    It also has 2 rear cameras, no, they’re not for fake Bokeh or 3D or even black and white. The 2nd camera has a super wide-angle lens on it which, in the right hands, makes for some dramatic photos.

    Hmm, modular with a super-wide camera? It could just be what the doctor ordered for an shaking up a slightly stale flagship market. ...
    Page 1 of 20 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 ... LastLast