Archive for May, 2015

May 30, 2015

Everything You Need to Know from Google I/O 2015 Keynote

It’s Keynote Day!
On May 28th, I attended Keynote day at Google’s 2015 I/O Conference held in San Francisco, CA at Moscone Centre West, and you know what that means: Cutting edge innovative announcements, announcements, announcements. Here they are:

HBO Now on Android
HBO’s standalone, no cable-required streaming service was exclusive to Apple… temporarily. It’ll come to Android and Google Play this summer.
Google Play Hits Huge Numbers
Google Play now has 1B active users, with 50B app installs in the past 12 months.
The “Family Star”
Apps can now get a “family friendly” designation called The Family Star. These apps will also be available in a special family section, with categories for different age groups.
Android M is coming!
The next version of Android, shipped as a developer preview today. It has 6 flagship new features…
#1: App Permissions
App Permissions (like camera or GPS access) are now requested the first time they’re used, rather than in one big blast at install. Permissions can also be toggled on a one-by-one basis after install.
#2: Chrome Custom Tabs
Developers now have a full featured, skinnable version of Chrome they can embed in their app
#3: App Links
App devs can now lock down Android intents. If you click a link that should open in Twitter, for example, Twitter can keep third-party apps from hijacking that intent
#4: Android Pay
Remember the NFC, touch-to-pay part of Google Wallet? It’s that, but rebranded and built into the OS by default. Unlock your device, hold it up to an NFC reader (in Whole Foods, McDonalds, or many other retailers), and bam — you’ve paid. Your
#5: Fingerprint Reader Support
While Android phones with fingerprint readers already exist, such things were always built by the device makers — not Google. Android now supports fingerprint readers at an OS level, allowing for things like making purchases in the Play store
#6: Doze
When you haven’t moved your device in a while, apps can be pushed into low-power “doze” modes. Google says this can extend your device’s standby life by up to 2x.
The little things…
Other, smaller features include:
– An improved copy/paste workflow
– Greatly improved volume controls with indepedent settings for ringer/alarm/music volume.
And as an added bonus: USB C support is coming to Android soon.
Oh! I forgot to mention. This whale came out briefly right before the keynote started, swimming across the wall-to-wall panoramic projection display. People. Went. Bananas. Really. It was probably the loudest applause of the day. It was kind of
Android Wear
Android Wear is getting an overhaul. The gist: wrist flicking gestures for fast (if goofy) navigation, emoji recognition, an always on display, and a rearranged (and improved!) UI flow.
Google goes after the Internet of Things
Google announced two new projects focusing on the Internet of Things: Brillo and Weave. Brillo is a Android-based operating system for IoT devices; Weave is a standard for IoT devices to communicate with each other. Gadget makers can use
Speech Recognition
Google has improved the speech recognition error rate from 23% in 2013 to 8% in 2015.
Now On Tap
Google Now can now use the current, on screen information as context to provide you info. If you’re looking at a text about a certain restaurant, holding the home button will bring up details about that restaurant or movie. If you’re listening to a song by, say, Skrillex, saying “Okay Google, What’s his real name?” will auto-scrape that “his” refers to Skrillex. Mind blowing.
Google Photos
Google is breaking its photo hosting stuff out of Google Plus. Google Photos is a free, unlimited storage service. It’ll host photos up to 16MP, and videos up to 1080p. It’s available for Android, iOS, and the web.
Offline Maps
Google Maps is getting deep offline support. Once you’ve saved a map for an area, you’ll be able to search for businesses within that area, read reviews, and even do turn-by-turn navigation without an internet connection.
Google Cardboard V2
Google released V2 of their super-economical VR viewer. It now supports phones with screens up to 6″ Meanwhile, the incredibly neat magnet-button from V1 has been replaced with a more universal button.
Cardboard In The Classroom
Google will begin shipping teachers “Expedition” kits, complete with everything they take their class on Cardboard fieldtrips. All of the Cardboard viewers in the class are synchronized and controlled by a teacher’s tablet, allowing
A counterpart to Cardboard, Google is working on making it easier to film immersive 360° VR video. They’re opening up the plans for a 360° camera rig, and launching server-side software that stitches the video together in a way that
GoPro JUMP Rig
Google isn’t selling a VR camera rig of their own, but GoPro is building one based on the JUMP specifications

May 30, 2015

New Google Photos Breaks Free Of Google+, Now Offers Free, Unlimited Storage

Google officially announced its long-rumored revamp of its photo-sharing service, Google Photos, at its I/O developer conference in San Francisco today. The killer feature? Users can now backup up full-resolution photos and videos – up to 16MP for photos and 1080p for videos – to Google’s cloud for free. The service will roll out to Android, iOS and web users starting today, the company says. The free storage option makes more sense for those with point-and-shoot cameras, and lets you keep a copy of your photos that’s good for your typical printing and photo-sharing needs. However, those with DSLR cameras or who want to store their photos and videos in their original sizes can choose a different plan which taps into your Google Account’s 15 GB of free storage. This is what was available before, and you can add to your storage quota as needed for a fee. We had been hearing for some time that Google would break out Photos from Google+, where it was previously more of a feature within the larger social networking site rather than a standalone product. With the relaunch of Photos, which will now be available from any device, Google wants to provide a way for users to privately and securely back up and share their photos from a single destination.

As before, the photos you snap using your mobile phone’s camera are automatically backed up to Google Photos using the new app, which displays the most recent photo at the top of the stream.

The app also lets you sort your photos by day, or even scroll back through the months or years. While the app looks a lot like an improved version of your phone’s native photo gallery at first glance, the images themselves are not actually being stored on the device. That saves space on mobile phones’ sometimes limited storage. Google claims that photos will still load fast, however, making it seem as if they’re stored locally.

As before, the photos you snap using your mobile phone’s camera are automatically backed up to Google Photos using the new app, which displays the most recent photo at the top of the stream.

The app also highlights Google’s machine learning capabilities better than it did when it was part of Google+. Many users weren’t aware they could search their photos on Google+ for persons, places or things, but the new Photos app calls this out more visually in its user interface.

“Google Photos can automatically sort photos based on the people and places that matter in your life,” explained Anil Sabharwal, director of Photos, on stage. “I did not tag a single one of them, and these information is private – it’s for your eyes only.”

This feature means that you’ll be able to more easily find specific photos – whether it’s a dog, your kid’s birthday, your beach vacation, and more – without having to first tag or organize photos into albums.

This ability to understand and locate photos by what’s in them directly competes with the new photo sorting and search features Yahoo’s Flickr recently debuted – something which has gotten it in hot water, however, as its auto-tagging capabilities have been a little rough around the edges.

As before, Google Photos will also help users do more with their photos without requiring them to manually create things like collages. The new app will build videos and collages for you, and with a swipe to the left, an “Assistant” feature will appear to offer suggestions if you need inspiration. For example, it might suggest you build a montage of your recently uploaded GoPro video, or a timelapse of recent photos.

Essentially, this is an update on Google+’s earlier “auto awesome” feature, though with an improved interface.

In addition to collages, Google Photos can also help you build GIF-like animations, movies with soundtracks, and more.

May 29, 2015

Did Popular Chrome extension Hola sold users’ bandwidth for botnets?

Hola, one of the most popular online services for viewing blocked videos and TV shows from other countries, has turned its users into a botnet without their knowledge. The software, which is available as plugin for the Chrome browser on desktop and mobile devices, had previously been praised for offering an easy-to-use and free service. However, it seems the company has been discreetly selling users’ “idle resources” (i.e. their bandwidth) via a separate Luminati brand, allowing anyone to buy traffic in bulk and redirect it to a target site as a denial-of-service attack. Essentially, Hola’s users have been unwitting mercenaries in a botnet-for-hire.

“Hola realized they basically have a 9 million strong botnet.”

The issue came to light after the moderator of the controversial 8chan forum — an off-shoot of 4chan that has been criticized for acting as an “active pedophile network” — reported that the site had been the target of multiple DoS attacks from Hola’s network. “[Hola] recently … realized that they basically have a 9 million IP strong botnet on their hands, and they began selling access to this botnet,” says a note on the site. “An attacker used the Luminati network to send thousands of legitimate-looking [requests to 8chan] in 30 seconds, representing a 100x spike over peak traffic.”

Hola is able to act as a botnet for the same reason that its service is free: it doesn’t provide its own bandwidth or servers, but simply redirects that of its users’. Most virtual private networks (VPNs) have their own servers spread around the world, channeling a users’ internet connection through these so that it appears to be coming from a different country. This allows a user in France, for example, to watch geoblocked TV shows from the US. Hola, however, operates as a peer-to-peer VPN, routing users’ connections through each other’s devices like a giant telephone exchange. Hola makes money by selling idle bandwidth from its free users under the Luminati brand. Users who don’t want to contribute their bandwidth have to pay $5 a month explains the site’s FAQ.

Hola’s founder Ofer Vilenski has said that the site has “always made it clear” how this business model works, but Hola’s users seem to have been almost universally unaware that their bandwidth was being sold off. A thread on Reddit discussing the news is full of commenters expressing their outrage and surprise. “I’ve had it for years,” writes one commenter, “fuck knows who has been using my internet connection!! And for what?!” Even users who might have taken the time to read Hola’s FAQ could have been misled — TorrentFreak alleges that the site “only recently” added details explaining the role of the Luminati service to its site.

The worry for some users is not only that Hola has been leeching their bandwidth, but that their connection might have been used for illegal purposes — accessing anything from copyrighted content to images of child abuse. In the case of the DoS against 8chan, Hola’s Vilenski has said that the attacker “could have used any commercial VPN network, but chose to do so with ours” and has now had their account “terminated.” Hola’s millions of users, though, might not be comforted by this news. At the time of writing, the company has not responded to The Verge‘s request for comment.

May 29, 2015

Now on Tap is the coolest Android feature in a long time

I’ve just gotten a chance to play around with an early build of Now on Tap, Google’s wild new feature that, in essence, does Google searches inside apps automatically. It works like this: when you’re in an app — any app — you hold down the home button. Android then figures out what is on the screen and does a Google Now search against it. A Now search is slightly different from your usual Google search, because it brings back cards that are full of structured data and actions, not just a list of links.

The build we were using was a little buggy still, but in the preplanned demos we tried, it worked really well. In a chat that mentioned Anna Kendrick and Pitch Perfect 2, cards for those very entities popped up from the bottom of the screen. In both cases, they had information from the web and tiny icons to open up the relevant page inside an app like Flixter or IMDB.

It really works

In another example, we had a tweet that mentioned Walter Isaacson. The Now on Tap card found him, and then you can say “OK Google” and ask a question that assumes Google knows what is on the screen, like “What books did he write?” Sure enough (well okay, two out of three times), it returned a Google web search that answered that precise question.

It’s a feature that infuses your entire phone with Google. It can search anything, anywhere, and it can connect you to other apps when you do it. Want to get from an email about dinner to having dinner? Hold down the home button, trust it to give you an OpenTable card for the restaurant mentioned in the email, tap it, and you’ve got a reservation. It’s so good at knowing what you’re doing in any given app, it’s kind of creepy. We’ve all gotten used to being able to be sloppy when we jam text into a Google search box. Now we don’t even have to bother typing it out, we can just let Google read our screens for us.

now on tap

In these early builds we did see more than a few loading spinners and we didn’t venture too far outside the examples that Google already had set up, so we’ll need to see just how well it works on a final build. And if you’re worried about the privacy implications of Google being able to read what you’re doing in your apps, Google tells us that you have to opt in to make the feature work and that nothing gets read until you initiate Now on Tap by either holding down the home button or saying “OK Google” inside an app.

Developing, video coming soon!

now on tap
May 29, 2015

Google Jump is an entire ecosystem for virtual reality filmmaking

It’s much more than a quirky camera.

Near the end of the opening keynote at Google’s I/O developer conference, the company announced something called “Jump.” And while it may have sounded like Jump was just a camera rig the company built in conjunction with GoPro, it’s much more than that. Jump is an entire ecosystem for creating virtual reality videos, and it sounds like the kind of thing that could help VR take off by making it much more accessible to both create and consume.

As Clay Bavor, Google’s vice president of product, detailed on stage Jump consists of three parts: the camera rig itself, software that automatically assembles and processes the footage, and a player. First, Google has developed blueprints for a 360-degree camera rig made with 16 cameras — enough to keep the quality of the content high without totally sacrificing portability, apparently.

Filmmakers will be able to use “any off-the-shelf” cameras

And while GoPro is obviously the first company working on a Jump rig, Bavor said that filmmakers will theoretically be able to use any off-the-shelf cameras. (The benefit of buying GoPro’s instead of building your own, however, would be that the optimizations done on the back end would already be taken care of.) You can also make the camera array out of any material. “We’ve made one out of 3D-printed plastic, one out of machined metal, and for good measure, of course, we also made one out of cardboard,” Bavor said.

“What’s critical is the actual geometry, and we spent a lot of time optimizing everything,” Bavor continued. Basically, Google did all the math for you. “The size of the rig, the number and placement of the cameras, their field of view, relative overlap — every last detail.”

Like it did with the plans for Cardboard at last year’s I/O, Google will release the camera geometry plans to everyone this summer.

The second part of Jump is something called “the assembler.” It’s a back-end software that can create VR video in stereoscopic 3D from the Jump rig’s 16 raw video feeds. By combining computational photography and “computer vision,” the assembler software recreates the scene being captured but also generates thousands of in-between viewpoints as well. As Bavor put it, “this is where the Google magic really begins.”“This is where the Google magic really begins.”

The third part of Jump is, simply, YouTube. Instead of building a new kind of player specific to immersive, stereoscopic VR video, Google will just make Jump an option in the YouTube player. “If you want to experience VR video all you need is the YouTube app, your smartphone, and some cardboard,” Bavor said.

VR content isn’t impossible to come by these days, but it’s still not what you would call easily accessible. It’s also not very easy to create — even professional filmmakers are still using hacked-together rigs like what I saw being used at the NBA All-Star game earlier this year. And if Google really wants to push VR into places like the classroom, making it more accessible for consumers is key.

Last year’s release of Cardboard really helped establish an entry point for virtual reality, but until now it hasn’t been surrounded by the kind of ecosystem that could really let it take off. With Jump, it sounds like Google has finally done just that. GoPro may be the first company on board, but it certainly won’t be the last.

May 29, 2015

Google Announces Brillo, an Operating System for the Internet of Things

Meet the Android for the Internet of Things. On Thursday at Google’s I/O developer conference, SVP Sundar Pichai announced Brillo, a new operating system for connected devices created by Android and Nest Labs.

Pichai noted the litany of devices soon to be plugged into the Internet — parking meters, airport kiosks, farm equipment. Google wants to make sure it is the backbone of this future. It is also introducing Weave, a software tool for the devices to communicate with one another. “For the first time,” Pichai said, “we are bringing a comprehensive end-to-end solution. And we hope we can connect devices in a seamless way.” Pichai didn’t, however, name any of the devices in Nest’s portfolio. Brillo will land by the third quarter of the year and Weave will come in the next.

May 29, 2015

The 12 most important announcements from Google I/O 2015


Sundar Pichai, Senior Vice President at Google, in charge of Android, Chrome, and Google Apps

Android M

Android M looks a lot like its predecessor Lollipop. It’s more like a reorganization of Android, with power optimization, new services, and changes to how your apps interact. If you’re a developer, you can check out the preview today. Otherwise, you’ll be getting it later this year.

App permissions get less intimidating

Android has traditionally given you a wall of permission requests — accessing your location, using your microphone — whenever you install a new app. That’s all supposed to be changing with Android M. There are fewer update categories, and you’ll no longer be asked to look at them on installation. Instead, Google will ask you to approve individual permissions when the developer calls them up. You can also look up everything that the app is accessing, or which ones are using, say, your calendar or camera.


Chrome in all your apps

Right now, when you click on a web link from within an app, you either have to load the browser or use a stripped-down web view in the app. Google announced something called Chrome Custom Tabs, which looks like an in-app Chrome browser and is supposed to make loading pages faster by preloading certain elements, including passwords and autofill. Google also announced measures to make it easier for apps to link to other apps, for example, loading the Twitter app automatically when you click on a link to a tweet.


Better battery life and USB-C

In an effort to save battery life, Google introduced a new feature called Doze. Android M uses motion detection to go into deeper sleep if inactive for longer periods of time. Google said it trades “app freshness” for battery life. While dozing, devices can still respond to high-priority messages and use alarms. In a test against a Nexus 9 running Lollipop, Google, said the M Nexus lasted up to two times longer in standby. USB Type-C will also be supported on Android.


Google Now on Tap

Google Now is getting smarter, and it’s going to be incorporated throughout the phone, through a program called Now on Tap. With Now on Tap, you can hold the home button and bring up Now cards with relevant information, whether you’re in an app, email, or web browser. For example, if someone emails you about going to a movie, summoning Now displays information about whatever was mentioned, with links to YouTube trailers, ratings, and other info. If you’re messaging about laundry and dinner, it can prompt you to set up a to-do item, and give you restaurant listings, along with buttons for Yelp, Maps, and OpenTable. It’s a big expansion for Now, and Google emphasized improvements in contextual understanding. In the demo, asking “What is his real name?” while listening to Skrillex in Spotify brought up the answer without needing to specify “Skrillex.”


A new Google Photos app with free online storage

Google already has a photo tool for your Android phone, but Google Photos is a revamped app that will back up an unlimited number of photos and videos for free (photos up to 16MP, video up to 1080p), organize them as a timeline, and group them together by locations, things like “beaches” or “boats,” and people — using what purports to be some pretty advanced auto-tagging. And there are new interface tools for sharing your photos or making collages and movies out of them. Yes, it’s competing with some similar iOS tools, but it could stack up pretty well; it’s available starting today for Android, iOS, and web.


Offline Maps and Chrome for developing countries

Google announced a bunch of updates designed to make its products work better in parts of the world with poor connectivity. A new streamlined search results page will load faster with a spotty connection and optimize pages to load fewer images. Google already lets people save YouTube videos offline in some countries, but now, Chrome will also be able to save pages for offline use, and Google Maps will be able to run a bunch of features offline. In an onstage demo, it could autocomplete searches, show reviews and information, and give turn-by-turn directions offline.

Android everywhere

There’s more to Android than phones, obviously. If Google has anything to say about it, it’ll be on your wrist, in your house, and in your wallet… sort of.

Some more polishing for Android Wear

Google added some powerful new apps to its Android Wear smartwatch OS, including an easy option for calling Uber cars. It also reiterated some of the ways it’s smoothed out the platform. The screen in Android Wear is always-on, Google noted several times, and now apps will be always-on as well, displaying information in a low-power black-and-white mode. If you’re navigating with Google Maps, for instance, directions will stay on the screen, making them glanceable as you move. There’s also a new app launcher designed to make loading apps faster and easier. There are a bunch of other small updates as well, including the ability to recognize drawings and turn them into emoji.


Google wants to manage your smart home

Project Brillo is an operating system built on the “lower layers of Android,” Weave is a communications system that will let smart devices talk to each other, and Google hopes you’ll install both of them on your door locks, light bulbs, and thermostat. There’s built-in support for Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, and Google will have a certification platform for Weave, which companies can use with or without Brillo. A lot of people have tried to create a standard for home automation, including Google — it announced Android@Home back in 2011 — but Google will officially be throwing its hat in the ring again by the end of this year.


Android Pay gets closer

We’re getting some more details about Android Pay — which is both Google’s answer to Apple Pay and a second chance for the largely failed Google Wallet service. Android Pay will let you make purchases in apps or tap an NFC sensor to pay for physical goods. Android Pay will work with phones running KitKat and higher, and it’s supposedly being pre-installed by AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile; Google promises 700,000 stores will accept it, including Chipotle and Dunkin Donuts. And if your phone has a fingerprint sensor, you can use it to authenticate payment.


HBO Now is coming to Android

We thought we might hear more about TVs from Google this year than we did, but though there wasn’t much news about the Chromecast or Android TV, we did get one new development. HBO Now, the streaming-only service for watching everything from Game of Thrones to True Detective, is coming to Android. There’s no firm release date, but this marks the end of Apple’s exclusive access.


Virtual reality

Yes, this gets its own section now. It might still be a fledgling field, but Google put some decent effort into promoting VR during the keynote.

New, iPhone-compatible Google Cardboard

Phones have gotten a lot bigger in the year since Google Cardboard launched, so Google is releasing a new version which can fit phones as large as six inches. The new unit, which goes on sale from partners today, is ditching the headset’s original magnet clicker for a cardboard button that will work with any phone. Google is now making its SDK available for iOS as well as Android, and a dedicated Cardboard app launched on Apple’s App Store today. In order to help kick-start VR use, it’s also announced Expeditions, a virtual reality education tool that lets students take VR field trips while teachers control their experience with a tablet.


A VR Camera rig for everyone

In an effort to make it easier for people to film VR-compatible video, Google partnered with GoPro to build a circular 16-camera rig. The geometry of the rig, called Jump, will be made available this summer for anyone to build their own. Once you’ve recorded something with these cameras, Google’s assembler will figure out depth data from the different images and stitch them together into a stereoscopic VR video. Google said the assembler takes “thousands of computers” and would be available this summer to a “select few” people.


What’s next

There wasn’t much talk of Google’s new Project Fi wireless carrier at the keynote, or of Android Auto, though the introduction mentioned that 35 car brands are participating. Instead, the focus was on improvements in Google’s machine learning, deployed in Google Photo and Now on Tap. Expanding connectivity was also a theme. Sundar Pichai concluded by saying that Google is about solving problems for everyone: “it’s about putting technology to work on important problems that users face and do it at scale for everyone in the world.” In the last few minutes, he touched on Google’s self-driving car, the latest version of which will soon begin driving around Mountain View, and balloon-based internet service Project Loon, which he says will expand connectivity to the next billion users.

May 29, 2015

India arrests pigeon accused of spying for Pakistan

Alleged spy bird was carrying a ‘stamped message’ written in Urdu

Police in India this week arrested a pigeon on charges of spying for Pakistan. As BBC News reports, the pigeon was taken into custody on Thursday after a 14-year-old boy found it in a historically tumultuous region along the India-Pakistan border. The bird, whose name has not been disclosed, reportedly had a “stamped message” on its body that was partially written in Urdu. The message also included a Pakistani phone number. An X-ray of the bird didn’t show anything out of the ordinary, but police have nevertheless registered it as a “suspected spy” and are keeping it in custody.

“We have caught a few spies here.”

“This is a rare instance of a bird from Pakistan being spotted here,” police superintendent Rakesh Kaushal told The Times of India. “We have caught a few spies here. The area is sensitive, given its proximity to Jammu, where infiltration is quite common.”

This isn’t the first time that a bird has been caught in the middle of an international dispute. In 2008, Iranian authorities arrested two pigeons accused of spying on a nuclear facility, and a stork was detained in Egypt two years ago after being spotted with a mysterious device attached to its feathers. Others have been targeted as potential terrorists. Last year, Chinese officials probed 10,000 pigeon anuses amid fears that they may be carrying bombs.

No word yet on whether the pigeon arrested this week has hired a lawyer.

May 28, 2015

Microsoft Office Coming To 20 More Android Tablets

Microsoft has won over more tabletmakers in its bid to increase adoption of Office on mobile devices. This week, Redmond announced that 20 OEMs have agreed to install Microsoft’s productivity apps on their tablets, a sign that the software giant is finally making the right waves in mobile.

Microsoft’s new tablet partners come from near and far.

Some of the most prominent include Haier, LG, Prestigio, and Sony. These 20 new firms join 11 others, including Dell, Pegatron, and Samsung, that made similar commitments earlier this year. All 31 of the tablet builders will preload Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, OneDrive, and Skype on their hardware in the near future.

More specifically, Microsoft said Sony will put Office on the Xperia Z4 tablet and LG will put Office on a new, soon-to-be-launched tablet both in the next three months.

Microsoft’s aggressive push onto competing platforms clearly spells out its goal for Office to be the default productivity tool for mobile workers. The company has systematically improved Office for mobile devices — including those running Android and iOS — and now offers feature-rich versions of these core apps for free.

More importantly, Office has been reengineered for touch-based devices. The most recent versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneDrive, OneNote, and Skype are touch-friendly and support mobile document creation, editing, and management.

“Our strategic agreements with these partners demonstrate how Microsoft is leveraging the scale of the hardware ecosystem, and working with partners in new ways to deliver rich experiences to our customers,” wrote Nick Parker, Microsoft’s corporate vice president for Original Equipment Manufacturer Division, in a May 26 blog post. “This is a cornerstone of our cross-platform services strategy, to bring an array of Microsoft services to every person on every device. By pre-installing Microsoft software and services solutions on Android tablets, our partners are able to increase the value of those devices by delivering the rich productivity experiences customers want.”

Office is a highly visible product, of that there is no doubt.

Let’s not forget, however, that Google has its own productivity apps based around its Google Drive product. Google Docs, Sheets, and Presentations are capable in their own right and are backed by the power of Google’s cloud services. Google’s productivity suite is also free to Android tablet owners.

Both Office and Drive are available to Apple’s iPad and iPhone, as well, but Apple will never consent to preloading them. Apple would prefer owners of its tablets and smartphones use its own iCloud service and Pages, Numbers, and KeyNote — all of which are available to its mobile and desktop machines.

Android tablets continue to make gains against Apple’s iPad in the global market, while Microsoft’s own Surface tablets still have a long way to go to match the adoption rates set by Android or iOS. With 31 OEMs prepared to put Office on their devices in the next few months, Microsoft has done what it can to maximize the potential footprint of Office users around the world.

The full list of the 20 partners announced this week includes: Axdia, Cube, DL, General Procurement, Grupo Nucleo, Haier, Inco, Ionik, Iview, LG, Multilaser, Noblex, Pacific Vulcan, Philco, Positivion, Prestigio, Sony, Teclast, TMAX Digital, and Wortmann.

May 28, 2015

Top Java performance Problems to Devs

Java performance is an issue of interest for all Java application developers, since making an application fast is as important as making it functional. However, most of them have common root causes and the basic performance issues can be sorted to three basic categories:

  • Database problems, that mostly have to do with persistence configuration, caching or database connection thread pool configuration. Since database is the basic component of an application functionality, it also is the basic root of performance issues.
  • Memory problems, that usually are garbage collection misconfiguration or memory leaks. Garbage collection may cause all threads to stop in order to reclaim memory. When this procedure takes too much time or occurs too often, then there is a problem. Memory leaks in Java may occur in different ways than C or C++, since they are more of a reference management issue. In Java a reference to an object may be maintained even though it may not be used again.
  • Concurrency problems, and basically deadlocks, gridlocks and thread pool configuration problems. Concurrency occurs when several computations are executed at the same time. Java uses synchronization and locks to manage multithreading. But synchronization can cause thread deadlocks, gridlocks and thread pool size issues.