Tag: os

Is Google planning a Chrome netbook?

It has come to light that Google has trademarked the name “Speedbook” fuelling speculation that it may be the name of a soon-to-be-released Chrome netbook.

The name was trademarked with the US Patent and Trademark Office last week and was discovered on BNet.

We initially wondered if Google was planning to rename its rumoured upcoming attempt at social networking, Google Me, to Speedbook. As a kind of middle finger up to Facebook over its recent lawsuit against teaching community TeachBook.

But that was just a flight of fancy on our part. The category Google filed the “Speedbook” trademark in was “computer hardware” – which gives a pretty big hint at what it might be planning to use the name for.

The Chrome OS is a fast-boot Linux-based operating system which gives the bear necessities for getting online – offering a faster boot-up time and overall experience. Given the super-fast speeds Google is saying Chrome OS will deliver, it seems just about right that it may plump for “Speedbook” as a name for its range.

Google has already confirmed that it plans to release the Chrome OS in Autumn of 2010. There has been speculation that it will target the netbook market first before going for tablets, letting its Android OS take the fight to the tablet market instead.

Acer is rumoured to be the first company that will deliver a Chrome OS device, with some early speculation that it would have released a netbook as early as June. This was quashed by Acer, but we’re half holding our breath and expecting it to ship a Chrome netbook some time this year.

Dell also signed a partnership with Google to deliver Chrome OS on a range of laptops, suggesting that it will have a broader market than just netbooks. Given how stripped down we hear Chrome is in comparison to Windows it could be a limiting experience.

The truth is we don’t really know. It’s not clear if either of these third-party devices will utilise the “Speedbook” name. The fact that Google has trademarked it suggests that it may attempt a foray into the hardware market as it did in the mobile sector with the Nexus One.

The smartphone was technically good and received positive reviews but poor marketing led to poorer sales until finally it was rebranded as a developer phone

Google didn’t make the phone itself – it teamed up with HTC. We wonder then, if a netbook is on the way, who it might team up with for its Google Speedbook offering. Acer is a likely candidate.

That said, in early July Google CEO Eric Schmidt said that Google most likely won’t need to launch its own Chrome device. Circumstances may have changed since then. There could be a surprise product launch some time soon.

Google to name next Android update "Honeycomb"

Google is to call the next version of its Android operating system “Honeycomb”.

The name, which follows Google’s naming convention of sweet products, will follow the upcoming Gingerbread 3.0 release and will most likely be 3.1 instead of a full jump to 4.0, according to TechRadar.

Honeycomb was one of the suggested names by Android fans, just as Gingerbread was before it, but some other suggestions that were made included Hot Fudge, Hot Chocolate, Honeysuckle, Huckleberry, Hazelnut, or just plain Honey, but the most popular name by far was Honeycomb, which fits in perfectly with the rest of the names.

With Gingerbread addressing pivotal issues for the Android OS such as the user interface, which may see the end of third-party UI overlays like HTC’s Sense or Motorola’s Blur, it seems likely that Honeycomb will focus on smaller issues, including anything that isn’t ready for the Gingerbread release later this year.

The next big hurdle for Android to overcome after it addresses its UI in 3.0 is fragmentation. With so many handsets and so many versions out there, there is a lot of confusion over which one to use and what features go with which. Gingerbread should help by lowering the requirement for a UI overlay, which will mean faster updates to the latest version, but Honeycomb will need a trick up its sleeve if it is to solve that problem completely.

In many ways, however, it’s simply a problem that comes part and parcel with being such an open platform.

Honeycomb is expected to be released in 2011. By then, however, Android will have to compete with Google’s Chrome OS on tablets and netbooks and may even borrow from it as it continues its ascent in the mobile market.

Apple still says no to jailbreaking iPhones

It is now officially legal to jailbreak your phone in the US, after a move by the Library of Congress to revise the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, but Apple is still staunchly against the idea, claiming it will brick your jailbroken phone because it loves you, wants you to be happy, and wants to save the world from bad men.

Apple previously claimed that jailbreaking a phone was illegal under the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which it hoped would stop its customers installing different versions of its OS, running unsupported applications, switching to a network it doesn’t have a large dollar deal with, or switching to the rival OS, Google’s Android. It’s illegal and you’ll go to jail, it claimed.

And now it’s not, but that’s not stopping the fruity party line. It might not be illegal now, but Apple still thinks it’s immoral and the jailbreaking sinners must repent now or face eternal damnation. You see, souls are at risk here, not just mobile phones, and Apple is looking out for us all.

As part of its efforts to protect us all it issued the following statement to Cult of Mac in response to the legalisation of jailbreaking:

“Apple’s goal has always been to insure that our customers have a great experience with their iPhone and we know that jailbreaking can severely degrade the experience. As we’ve said before, the vast majority of customers do not jailbreak their iPhones as this can violate the warranty and can cause the iPhone to become unstable and not work reliably.”

So you may not be going to prison, but you certainly also won’t be going back to your local Apple store to get your iPhone 4 fixed if a jailbreaking attempt results in a bricked phone. Apple has previously sent out software updates that actually deliberately brick jailbroken phones, making them completely inoperable. In other works, if you don’t do it Apple’s way, they will break what you have paid for, and their defence is that you have violated their warranty, which is now not supported by the legal stance they had previously taken.

But Apple is doing this for a good cause. It previously claimed that unlocking an iPhone should be illegal, because it aids hackers, criminal gangs, drug lords, and terrorists. Eh, what? Apparently Apple thinks jailbreaking iPhones gives people potential access to mobile phone masts, which is a possible terrorist threat, while altering the chip identification number allows for anonymous calls, which is clearly the work of drug dealers. Only criminals could ever want an unlocked phone. It’s called jailbreaking for a reason, right?

In other words: leaving Apple’s precious walled garden leads you into sin and temptation. Do not bite the apple the serpent offers you. Wait – the Apple? There’s clearly something the Cupertino-based company isn’t telling us.

In stark contrast, Apple’s rival, Google, which has been gaining momentum with its Android operating system lately, is not against jailbreaking of its phones and has actually sold unlocked phones itself. But clearly it is evil for doing so and must also be supporting terrorists and drug dealers.

Apple users can now avail of unofficial app stores like Cydia or finally use rival Google’s free apps, without fear of Judge Jobs calling the cops, but it still violates your warranty, which, let’s face it, is the Law as far as Apple is concerned. It’s their way or the highway, folks. The Digital Millenium Copyright Act was only ever something they would abide by when it supported their policies. Typical.

Intel shows off MeeGo OS for tablets

Intel has posted a video showing the features of its Linux-based Meego OS for tablet computers on YouTube.

The MeeGo OS is targeted at mobile and embedded devices and was first announced in February. MeeGo is a collaboration between Intel and Nokia and is managed by The Linux Foundation. The MeeGo version for netbooks was released last month.

The video, which also shows the operating system’s multitouch support, multitasking and integrated social networking runs for 3 minutes and also demonstrates how people can use the pre-alpha version of MeeGo OS 1.1 using a multitouch tablet PC.

Also linked into the video is a blog entry by Intel’s Atom Development Program site, which gives more information on MeeGo, slated for release in autumn.

According to the blog’s author, Bob Duffy, some features may not be available in the tablet release.

However, as it stands it seems the OS is going to give users some pretty good stuff including integrated social-networking tools so that users can view updates from sites like Facebook and Twitter in real time.

There is also a gesture control feature shown within the photo app, which lets users use gestures for resizing and rotating a photo as well as a 5 finger multi-touch, which could allow up to 5 people to control part of the screen and game play.

The demonstration also shows how the OS can run multiple applications at the same time. It demonstrates this through a background music application running while an image is being edited in a photo application.

Duffy wrote in his blog post: “From the Atom Developer Program side I can tell you we are excited about MeeGo. And we will be in the middle of this, helping developers get MeeGo apps developed for devices like shown in this video.

“Currently we have folks working with the MeeGo team on developing SDK for AppUp and we are keenly interested in making sure our site and community gets the information & tools needed to develop & port apps to MeeGo.”

Youtube launches video editor

Google’s video portal Youtube today presented its new online video editing feature, which allows Youtubers to create mash-ups of existing videos and edit video in the cloud. Soundtracks can be added from Youtube’s AudioSwap library, however the songs will replace the original audio track. 

Users and makers of expensive, high-class video editing software such as Avid and FinalCut may laugh at the basic functionality of Youtube’s video editor, however more and more regular, desktop-based software is heading towards the cloud.

Just like video editing and movie making, the realm of Digital Audio Workstations (DAWS) has been an exclusive one in the last 20+ years, limited to people buying a sequencer and creating and recording music at home. Technological advancements such as USB 2.0, Firewire, DSPs and laptops made it increasingly easier to record music in a practice room or at home. High-quality audio interfaces could be bought on a budget, alongside software and sample packs containing additional instruments.

This gave users far more possibilities to create music than back in the ancient days when productivity was limited to a rather expensive four-track cassette multitracker and an expensive analogue synthesizer.

Nowadays, browser-based audio editing is becoming increasingly popular. Aviary has launched its “Music Creator” audio recording and editing application, after it bought Digimix, the original developer. Track and Fields allows people from around the globe to record songs together using a browser application, adding social networking to music production. The company has also launched online remix competitions with bands such as Ash and the seminal Krautrockers Neu!.

Youtube’s online video editor is an innovation in its field, however it is following a general trend. In ten years time, it might be commonplace to use a mobile device running Chrome OS to record one’s guitar strumming or create a video, upload it to the cloud and use it to create content with friends online. What once required a RAID-array, expensive external hardware and software is heading onto servers.

Windows 7 vulnerable to memory attack

Windows 7 is vulnerable to a memory attack that could allow others to gain complete access to your system, according to new research reported by ZDNet.

Christophe Devine and Damien Aumaitre are not your average hackers. They’re researchers working for the European Security Expertise Centre and are planning to give a presentation on the Windows 7 vulnerability called Subverting Windows 7 x64 Kernel with DMA Attacks at the Hack in a Box conference between 29 June and 2 July.

They will show how an attack using Direct Memory Access (DMA) allows hackers to completely bypass the operating system and CPU, eliminating all of the security features present within both. This does require physical access to the computer, however, which limits the amount of attacks that occur in this fashion, but the vulnerability is still worrying.

Currently the researchers are focusing on the 64-bit version of Windows 7 for their report, so it’s unclear if those using the 32-bit version are as equally vulnerable. We imagine that they are and that the findings from the new research will also apply to 32-bit systems.

Windows XP and older versions of the Mac OS X were attacked using this same method, but the researchers had to completely rewrite their DMA engine to allow it to bypass the security features in Windows 7. Their attack uses the PCMCIA port, while other DMA attacks have been shown using the CardBus port.

In May a couple of professors at the University of California San Diego and the University of Washington demonstrated how to hack into a car’s computer system and stop the brakes. Hackers everywhere are probably eager to enroll in those colleges.

Another researcher, Niels Teusink, will present a demonstration at Hack in the Box of how to remotely hack the wireless devices of people giving presentations with parts costing only €40. Steve Jobs was given as an example and the words “public humiliation” also featured, presenting some interesting possibilities for the next Apple Worldwide Developers Conference.

HP to buy Phoenix's Linux OS for $12 million

Hewlett-Packard is to buy a Linux-based operating system from Pheonix Technologies for $12 million.

The quick-boot Linux OS, called HyperSpace, is similar to Google’s upcoming Chrome OS, as it has shaved off all the excess to deliver a fast boot speed so users can immediately jump on the web. HyperSpace can load within a couple of seconds, compared to between 30 seconds and several minutes for a Windows operating system.

HP is also set to buy assets relating to HyperCore, an embedded hypervisor that allows the Linux-based OS to run limited core services alongside Windows, reports TechWorld.

HP already has a large Linux portfolio, including Palm’s Linux-based WebOS, which HP grabbed by buying out Palm for $1.2 billion, an announcement that came in April of this year.

HP also already has a quick-boot OS called QuickWeb on a number of its netbooks and laptops, which allows users to hit a button on their device to get on the web within 20 seconds. HP is keeping tight-lipped on what it’s planning to use HyperSpace for, but potentially it could be a speedier replacement for QuickWeb.

This may cause problems for the uneasy relationship between HP and Microsoft. The latter may not be too happy with HP’s increasing portfolio of operating systems, which could be seen as a direct challenge to Microsoft’s Windows franchise. While HP is unlikely to topple the Vole any time soon the demand for speedy access to the net may see people ditching Windows on their netbooks for Chrome OS or HP’s new HyperCore.

The deal should close by the end of the month.

Chrome OS hardware arrives in autumn

Google claims the first piece of hardware running its open sauce Chrome OS will ship in autumn.

At least that is what Sundar Pichai, a product management VP working for the all-your-data-is-belong-to-us search behemoth, told the world+dog at Computex. According to Digitimes, industry deep throats are croaking Acer will be the company to keep an eye on.

Acer launched a dual-boot netbook last year which allowed users to switch between Windows and Android, Google’s other OS.

Once upon a time Microsoft forbade PC makers to build dual-boot machines, hanging a Damocles sword above their heads, but that’s a different story entirely, please ask Jean-Louis Gassee, who found beOS.

Google offers Chromium as an OS for companies who want to release a Linux-based netbook, without the Chrome brand. Vendors have to cooperate with Google to use the Chrome label and let the data kraken have its say in terms of product development and marketing. Google is currently focusing on small netbooks with screen sizes of 10 to 12 inches, Pichai added.

Chrome is basically centered on using a browser as the main programme, using internet-based applications to work and play, whilst data is stored somewhere in the cloud. Google claims its such a nice new approach as most people use their browser most of the time. It is also a nice approach for Google, which will be able to siphon off megatons of anonymised user data. However, Google will never ever link personal user data to anonymised statistics and so forth, as no one would ever trust the company again and it would go down the drain.

Intel and Nokia OS MeeGo shown off

The fruits of an open source partnership between Nokia and Intel have been shown off in a couple of official YouTube videos from the Intel Developer’s Forum.

MeeGo, a mash-up between Nokia’s Maemo and Intel’s Moblin UI, was first announced at the Mobile World Congress earlier in the year. It is an operating system built on Linux and which will be shared with the open source community.

In the video below, MeeGo 1.0 is shown off on a netbook, with the user interface appearing to make social networking and other media applications simple to access from the home screen.

In another video it shows MeeGo is shown working on a number of devices. As well as running on a netbook it also showed how MeeGo could work connected to a TV, with the netbook synchronised to show the content on a large screen. 

It was also shown to work on a mobile phone, where you could also view the content from the netbook as it was also synchronised. The final example was of a vending machine running Meego which recognised the mobile phone’s identity using RFID and where a user could download an electronic coupon.

The demonstrations were certainly impressive, showing that MeeGo had the capability of running on different low powered devices as well as have all devices using MeeGo being totally aware of what each other was doing.

The companies say that MeeGo ‘builds upon the capabilities of Moblin core software platform and reference user experiences, adding the Qt UI toolkit from Maemo’. 

What this means exactly is unknown, but developers will soon know, because at the end of last month Nokia and Intel declared that they were starting on an effort to share the MeeGo OS with the open source community. 

Linux Foundation attacks the BBC

A statement from the Linux Foundation has attacked the BBC over its plans to impose content management controls on new free-to-air high definition channels.

A spokesman for the Foundation said that the plan involves restrictively licensing the Huffman codes used in the electronic programme guide.

It said that this will have a negative effect on open source applications and would distort the markets which have built up around those applications.

It accuses the BBC of badly treating Open Source and ignoring the severe market distortions that this content management scheme would produce in open platforms.

It said that there was currently no approved content management system available for fully open systems, so the BBC proposal would effectively destroy the ability of those systems to display TV-based content.

This would kill off things like the Moblin netbook operating system, which is a significant player in the netbook space and the Android phone system, which has several million users and broad handset industry support.

It said the BBC was being short sighted in not assisting the fully open platform category which was the fastest growing market segment in the mobile industry.