Saturday, February 18, 2012

Microsoft reveals Windows 8 logo

By Nicole Kobie

Posted on 17 Feb 2012 at 17:56

Microsoft has revealed the logo for its next OS, confirming along the way that it will indeed be called Windows 8.

The basic blue design is the same one that was leaked earlier in the week, and was created to fit in with the Metro UI style.

"The Windows logo is a strong and widely recognised mark but when we stepped back and analysed it, we realised an evolution of our logo would better reflect our Metro style design principles and we also felt there was an opportunity to reconnect with some of the powerful characteristics of previous incarnations," said Sam Moreau, principal director of user experience for Windows, in a blog post.

Windows 8

According to Moreau, the logo's designer criticised the last Windows icon, asking: “Your name is Windows. Why are you a flag?”

"We did less of a re-design and more to return it to its original meaning and bringing Windows back to its roots – reimagining the Windows logo as just that – a window," he added.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Adobe confirms: no Flash for Chrome on Android

Google issued a beta release of Chrome for Android earlier today. The browser provides support for modern Web standards and includes a number of compelling features that aren't available in the Android's default browser. One noteworthy Chrome desktop feature that isn't included in the mobile port, however, is the integrated Flash runtime.

Adobe has issued a statement confirming that Chrome for Android does not support Flash content. The company also indicated that it does not plan to work with Google to add Flash support to the new mobile browser. Adobe will, however, continue supporting Flash in the current default Android browser.

"Today Google introduced Chrome for Android Beta. As we announced last November, Adobe is no longer developing Flash Player for mobile browsers, and thus Chrome for Android Beta does not support Flash content," wrote Adobe's Flash Platform product manager Bill Howard.

Adobe struggled for years to make the Flash player plugin viable on mobile devices. Though it was able to make Flash work reasonably well on Android phones, results were mixed on other systems. Due to Apple's unwillingness to allow the Flash plugin on iOS and the difficulty that Adobe faced bringing the Flash player to new devices, the plugin never achieved the same ubiquity on phones that it has historically enjoyed on the desktop.

These setbacks caused Adobe to abandon its mobile Flash player strategy last year. The company announced that it would phase out development of its mobile Flash player plugin and not support it on new platforms. Adobe instead focused its mobile Flash efforts on developing tools for deploying Flash content as native mobile applications. It also strengthened its commitment to native Web standards and acknowledged HTML5 as the way forward for building rich mobile Web experiences.

When Google eventually moves to replace the default Android browser with Chrome in future versions of the Android platform, devices that run the operating system will likely no longer be able to play Flash content in the browser.

Google (finally) brings Chrome to Android

Google (finally) brings Chrome to Android

Google is finally bringing Chrome to the Android platform. A beta release of the increasingly popular Web browser was published this morning in the Android Market and is available to users who are running Android 4. The port includes Chrome's advanced HTML rendering engine and many of the browser's popular features.

The Chrome beta is designed to run on both phones and tablets. The tablet version of the user interface is nearly a perfect match of Chrome on the desktop, including the distinctive slanted tab design. The phone version has a more compressed interface, suitable for smaller screens, and includes the standard Chrome features such as the Omnibar and application shortcut pane.

The gap between Chrome and the native Android Web browser has long been a source of confusion for users and pundits. Although both browsers are based on WebKit and use some of the same underlying components, such as the Skia vector graphics framework, they are separate implementations and originally had little else in common.

In fact, the Android Web browser didn't even use Google's unique V8 JavaScript runtime until the release of Android 2.2 in 2010. Prior to that, it used Apple's SquirrelFish engine, presumably because V8's ARM JIT (just in time) backend wasn't good enough yet. The Android Web browser also has relatively poor support for the latest Web standards compared to Chrome.

As we have pointed out in our reviews of the Android operating system, the platform's default browser tends to have difficulty handling the most intensive application-like Web experiences. Google announced last year that it would try to close the gap between the Android browser and Chrome, with the aim of eventually converging them around a shared code base. The release of Chrome on Android appears to be the fruit of that labor.

In a video posted this morning on the official Chromium blog, Google's engineers offered some technical insight into the port and what it has to offer on Android. They said that the new software has the same multiprocess architecture that Chrome uses on the desktop. It also offers support for modern Web features such as WebSockets, IndexedDB, and Web Workers.

Chrome scores 343 at The default browser only scores 256.
Chrome scores 343 at The default browser only scores 256.

Other features that will appeal to Web developers include hardware-accelerated rendering for the HTML5 Canvas element and a built-in remote debugging tool that works over USB. The latter will allow developers to attach the WebKit Inspector in a desktop version of Chrome to an instance of Chrome running on a device.

The Chrome port, which can be downloaded from the Android Market on Android 4 devices, currently installs side-by-side with the default Android browser. Users can make it the default handler for URLs, but it doesn't replace the standard browser.

That also means that the advanced features in the HTML rendering engine won't be available to third-party applications that integrate an embedded WebView control. (It's possible that Chrome will be fully integrated in future versions of the Android operating system.)

The availability of Chrome for Android is a big step forward for Web browsing on mobile devices powered by Google's operating system. It should deliver a significantly better user experience on the Web and make Android a better environment for running next-generation mobile Web applications.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Microsoft to remove Start button from Windows 8

A screenshot from the upcoming build of Windows 8 has been leaked and although it seems similar to the developer preview available right now, conspicuous by its absence is our long time friend, the Windows Start button.

The Windows Start button, which took the form of an orb since Vista, has been around since the days of Windows 95, so it would feel a bit strange for any long time Windows user to not find it in its usual place in the corner of your display when he or she upgrades to Windows 8. However, even if Microsoft may have done away with the actual button, some of its functionality will still be available to the user.

According to The Verge, instead of pressing the Start button, the user will now have to hover over the corner to bring forth a new menu. It’s not entirely clear what sorts of functions you will be able to access from this new menu but it’s safe to assume it won’t be exactly like the current Start menu. Meanwhile, the taskbar or the Superbar as Microsoft likes to call it, will continue to behave the way it does in Windows 7.

While we’re still talking about the consumer preview that is going to be released soon, chances are the new changes will be carried over to the final build.


Sunday, February 5, 2012

iOS apps crash more often than Android apps, study shows

iOS apps crash more often than Android apps, study shows

In this episode of smartphone myth busters, we'll investigate the claim that Android apps are often released to the market unstable, whereas iOS apps are always bug-free and buttery smooth.

According to a study by Crittercism, quoted by Forbes, both platforms have their share of apps that crash and, if anything, the iOS ones do so more often. The company which specializes in providing real-time crash reports for mobile apps evaluated reports over a period of one month and found that iOS apps crash quite a lot more than their Android counterparts.

In the first of the three quartiles we got data for, iOS apps crashed after 0.51% of all launches, whereas Android apps only crashed in 0.15%. In the second quartile the picture is similar with iOS apps crashing in 1.47% of the cases, whereas Android apps did so 0.73% of the time. Things are much closer in the third quartile - 2.97% crashes for Android vs 3.66% for iOS.

Crittercism even gave us a detailed breakdown of the most problematic releases by OS. As it turns out, iOS 5.0.1 generates more than a third of all iOS crashes - 33.93%, while iOS 4.3.5 is the second most problematic with 10.62%. That sounds quite believable as these two software versions are the two latest releases of iOS4 and iOS5.

On Android, it's the two Gingerbread releases that generated most of the trouble - 2.3.3 with 24.76% and 2.3.4 with 23.38%.

Of course, those are the most popular releases of each platform, so it's only logical that they will generate the most crashes.

Study data shows apps crash more often on iOS than on Android

Still, the study warns against making hasty conclusions - despite what the data might show at the moment, iOS isn't a worse system for making more apps crash. It's just that Apple introduced iOS 5 relatively soon, made it available to a lot of devices simultaneously and is still working to fix its issues on all of them. The scales might tip the other way once Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich updates start hitting more devices.

What the study was bound to show is that every OS has its more stable and its buggier releases and there's a good portion of apps everywhere that don't behave as they should. Now can we put that debate to sleep, please?

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