Daily Report: Small Holidays Play Big on Social Media
Looking for something to say, many social media users are timing posts to match novel holidays. Tweed Day was big, as was Uncommon Instrument Awareness Day. Today happens to be National Watermelon Day. You didn't know?
Political Consultant for Uber to Advise Other Start-Ups
Bradley Tusk, a former campaign manager for New York's last mayor, Michael R. Bloomberg, is starting Tusk Ventures, a political consulting firm geared toward helping start-ups work with — and in some cases, beat back — government regulators.
Why Some Start-Ups Are Called Tech Companies and Others Are Not
For as long as there has been a commercial Internet, there has been fuzziness about what is or is not a tech company. And the question has only become more complicated with the rise of start-ups like Uber that deliver real-world services aided by technology.
Have you ever come across a website, service, application, or product that you’ve been impressed about that you’d like to know more about who created it? You can go the company’s “About” page for more information but chances are that it’ll just show you the executive team, not the name of the developers and designers. […]
GUEST: Willy Wonka made consuming media literal with his “Wonka Vision” invention that teleported a giant chocolate bar to be eaten right out of a TV screen. Sadly, this kind of instant gratification will likely only exist in fiction. With the arrival of buyable pins and stoppable buttons, however, brands may have found the next best […]
Microsoft’s Cortana personal digital assistant is now working on PCs running Windows 10, not just Windows Phones. That means Cortana is a lot more visible as a competitor to Apple’s Siri and Google Now. Cortana certainly has her share of tricks. As I’ve discovered in recent weeks, Cortana can tell time, show stock prices, open […]
Dutch mobile marketing firm iQU acquires TinyLoot and Target Gamers
Netherlands-based mobile marketer iQU has acquired two other mobile marketing companies TinyLoot and Target Gamers. In doing so, the Dutch company is assembling new ways to deal with the challenges of mobile game discovery and monetization. TinyLoot started by rethinking the business model where players pay for games. TinyLoot wanted to turn that on its head, paying […]
The Backed Pack: Batteriser extends the power of alkaline batteries
Each week our friends at Backerjack highlight a successfully crowdfunded gadget. This week, we look at Batteriser, a small battery add-on that can radically extend the life of alkaline batteries. It is close to 600 percent of its funding goal. Remember batteries? They used to show up in things like pagers, digital cameras, voice recorders, […]
German car makers agree to buy Nokia’s mapping business for $3.2B, report says
A consortium of German car makers have reportedly agreed to buy Nokia’s Here mapping technology. Daimler, BMW, and Volkswagen-owned Audi have agreed to buy the mapping business for almost $3.2 billion, according to Reuters. The agreement comes after a nearly two month stand-off between the three car makers. Nokia is apparently getting rid of its mapping business to […]
GUEST: Corporate boards fail for all kinds of reasons. Some boards lack the appropriate skillsets or experience around the table. Some boards are expertly composed but insufficiently engaged or committed. Others appear to be independent custodians with both hands on the wheel but preexisting relationships with other board members or with management denigrate their objective oversight. […]
Six reasons why there are two 5Gs … and maybe more
GUEST: My company, InterDigital, recently sponsored a survey conducted by the Telecom Industry Association on the topic of 5G development and deployment – one of the first of its kind, and necessary reading in these early days of 5G. Necessary reading because, quite frankly, we’re still in the earliest stages of actually defining what 5G will […]
Lollipop grows to nearly one-fifth of all Android devices in latest distribution results
For those keeping track, Google actually skipped the month of July when it comes to showcasing the latest Android distribution numbers, but it’s back again this month to show that Android Lollipop has not stalled in its adoption.
For August 2015, of which closes out Google’s 7-day recording period that ended on August 3 of [...]
Are you looking forward to the new Moto X Pure Edition? I’m personally waiting with money in hand. Buying it is the easy part come September, but figuring out how you want it customized will be tough. As with previous models, it will come with Moto Maker customizations [...]
Sony unveils Xperia C5 Ultra and Xperia M5 mid-range smartphones
Sony has announced two new mid-range devices called the Xperia C5 Ultra and M5, both of which focus on camera more than anything. And they’re definitely interesting devices, both featuring 13MP front facing cameras for the ultimate selfies. If your selfie game is strong enough, you might want to buy one of these.
Deep pockets may be an essential element for competing effectively in the exploding on-demand economy. Today, the on-demand cleaning services company Homejoy announced it was closing shop on 31 July, after…
Movie Studios Seek SOPA Power Through Broad Site-Blocking Order
Major movie studios are again trying to make a website they don’t like disappear without a trial. This time, the studios are asking for one court order to bind every domain name registrar, registry, hosting provider, payment processor, caching service, advertising network, social network, and bulletin board—in short, the entire Internet—to block and filter a site called Movietube. If they succeed, the studios could set a dangerous precedent for quick website blocking with little or no court supervision, and with Internet service and infrastructure companies conscripted as enforcers. That precedent would create a powerful tool of censorship—which we think should be called SOPApower, given its similarity to the ill-fated SOPA bill. It will be abused, which is why it’s important to stop it from being created in the first place.
I haven’t seen every singe bridge in the world, so I’m not happy calling this bridge-ferry-gondola hybrid the weirdest. But it’s definitely top five, and makes me question (once again) the sanity of Wales.
A Private High-Speed Network Will Help Researchers Do Better Science
Scientists working with supercomputers (or machines like the Large Hadron Collider) are generating vast amounts of data. Trying to pass around terabytes of numbers using Dropbox can get a little slow, so researchers on the West Coast are getting their own private fibre-optic network, dubbed the Pacific Research Platform.
I Want To Build All These Amazing Alternative Lighthouses
A new lighthouse would probably be a fitting memorial to the 2012 sinking of the Costa Concordia off the coast of Italy. Open-idea competition platform matterbetter has been running a contest to design a new lighthouse concept to live at the spot where the ship capsized, and while the entries aren’t realistic, they’re sure pretty to look at. http://gizmodo.com/the-costa-conc...
The algal bloom in Lake Erie is particularly bad this year, thanks to a combination of agricultural runoff, sunlight, and warm water. The result, as seen by NASA’s Landsat 8, is the Great Lakes turning slowly green.
Digitimes Research: Global tablet shipments to decline 15% on year in 3Q15
Global tablet shipments are expected to decline 15% on year to reach 51.88 million units in the third quarter as the mobile device market continues to see weak demand despite vendors' inventory preparation for the year-end holidays, the launch of Windows 10 and growth in the 4G services market. However, China-based white-box players will see a 15% growth from the second quarter because their orders from overseas markets will recover, boosting their combined shipments to over 19 million units, according to Digitimes Research's latest report on the global tablet market.
Digitimes Research: RT Works launches robot to help people walk
Japan-based RT Works has launched Robot Assist Walker RT. 1, an autonomous walking-assisting cart to help old people walk, in the Japan market, becoming the fourth model of personal care robots that have been certified by ISO 13482 safety requirements, according to Digitimes Research.
HP says business separation not affecting ordering system
Hewlett-Packard (HP) has recently finished the separation of HP and HP Enterprise, and orders received from August 1-6 are scheduled to ship on August 7. Although many channel retailers and upstream suppliers still have concerns about possible confusion over related orders, HP has maintained that its partners can just place orders as they used to do and the company will assign them to the relevant divisions.
Parents Reminded to Update Vaccines before Start of School Year; statewide immunization clinics scheduled for eligible children
Top Priority Sector:
Harrisburg, PA, Aug. 3 - With many school districts across Pennsylvania opening their doors this month, the Departments of Health and Education are announcing the "Don't Wait. Vaccinate." campaign to remind parents of the importance of having their children's immunizations up-to-date before they start class.
TeleCommunication Systems launches Lynx™ line of portable routers for connected public sector communications
Top Priority Sector:
Annapolis, MD, Aug. 3 - TeleCommunication Systems, Inc. (TCS), a world leader in secure and highly reliable wireless communication technology, today launched its Lynx™ portfolio of portable routers designed to provide highly secure and rugged wireless broadband network solutions for mission-critical communications applications, such as public safety, law enforcement, the special operations community, and, more broadly, the Department of Defense.
Geneva, July 30 – Results from an interim analysis of the Guinea Phase III efficacy vaccine trial show that VSV-EBOV (Merck, Sharp & Dohme) is highly effective against Ebola. The independent body of international experts - the Data and Safety Monitoring Board – that conducted the review, advised that the trial should continue. Preliminary results from analyses of these interim data are published today in the British journal The Lancet.
Lockheed Martin technology helps pilots and UAS operators share data, stay safe
Top Priority Sector:
Rockville, MD, Aug. 3 - As Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) take to the skies, it is essential for safety that UAS operators and pilots are aware of each other. To help provide this shared situational awareness, Lockheed Martin has deployed the first components of a UAS traffic management (UTM) system that is available to the UAS community now.
The Mariner Group’s CommandBridgeTM enhanced web-based platform cuts through clutter, enabling Common Operating Picture (COP) and true situation awareness
Top Priority Sector:
Editor’s Note: This is the fifth in a series of accounts of exceptional achievements in homeland security, as described in winning entries in GSN’s recently completed Airport, Seaport, Border Security Awards Program.
The Mariner Group – Winner: Most Notable Seaport Security Program
Congressman Chaka Fattah charged with participating in racketeering conspiracy
Top Priority Sector:
Congressman Chaka Fattah Sr
Washington, July 29 – A member of Congress and four of his associates were indicted for their roles in a racketeering conspiracy involving several schemes that were intended to further the political and financial interests of the defendants and others by, among other tactics, misappropriating hundreds of thousands of dollars of federal, charitable and campaign funds.
Driver arrested after vehicle rams into Capitol barricade
Top Priority Sector:
By Steve Bittenbender
A man is in federal custody after he rammed his car into a barricade to the south side of the U.S. Capitol Friday morning.
Witnesses using social media say the car, a red Nissan Altima with a Florida license plate, did not try to break before hitting the protective barrier around 8:40 a.m. this morning. U.S. Capitol Police and District of Columbia firefighters responded to the scene.
eGlobalTech Selected to Help Department of Homeland Security (DHS) U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Implement Sustainable Agile Frameworks
Top Priority Sector:
Arlington, VA, July 31 - eGlobalTech (eGT), a leading provider in management and IT consulting services for the Federal Government, has been awarded a contract to support the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for executing agile development programs across the agency.
eGT will be providing high-quality expertise and agile coaching to build team capabilities, help educate teams in measuring success, and make recommendations that lead to USCISevolution towards value-based delivery through agile practices.
HTC pisses off some One M7/M8/M9 users with Fantastic Four notification ad
Uh oh... HTC managed to piss off a few One M7/M8/M9 owners after pushing a Fantastic Four notification ad to their devices. While it's technically notifying users of a new theme available to them, it's hitting a little close to home for those that remember Android's AirPush ads from back in the day.
Someone figured out how to hack OnePlus 2’s waiting list and explains how he did it
The only thing worse than waiting in a long line to buy something is for someone to jump said line. Nobody likes a line cutter. But we’re almost inclined to give this one guy a pass because not only did he admit to doing it, he’s showing others how he did it.
Lollipop now running on 18.1% of Android devices according to official numbers for August 2015
We're not sure why Google skipped July, but they've finally updated their platform distribution numbers for the month of August. Better late than never, we suppose. For those unaware, these are Google's official numbers to help developers track which percentage of devices are running specific versions of Android.
YouTube player gets a UI update with new transparent controls and animations
We know, you probably don't visit YouTube on the actual web very often, what with all the many Android devices at your disposal. And it may not be the biggest change, but YouTube has announced some UI changes rolling out to their player controls.
KFC South Africa Lets Customers Listen To Music Using Bone Conduction
An anonymous reader writes: The end of annoying restaurant muzak may be nigh: A KFC branch in South Africa has put together a playlist of local artists for diners to enjoy — so long as they do so in silence. The in-shop broadcasts can only be heard using bone conduction as a speaker — diners put their elbows on the table and cup their ears if they want to hear the tunes.
An anonymous reader writes: Proving once again that the government has a form for everything, Buzz Aldrin has unveiled his Apollo 11 documentation on social media over the past few days, including a travel voucher detailing his expenses on his trip to the moon. The papers listed him as having been on a "work trip" from his home in Houston, Texas that had taken him to the moon and then back again with a total expenses claim of just $33.31. The report notes : "Government meals and quarters [were] furnished for all of the above dates."
William Robinson writes: The government of India has blocked over 800 adult websites through a secret order. “Free and open access to porn websites has been brought under check,” N.N. Kaul, a spokesman at the department of telecommunications said. “We don’t want them to become a social nuisance.” The ban has provoked debates in the country about extreme and unwarranted moral policing by the government. The action came after the Supreme Court of India had refused to ban porn sites in India.
Nerval's Lobster writes: Most programmers experience some tough bugs in their careers, but only occasionally do they encounter something truly memorable. In developer David Bolton's new posting, he discusses the bugs that he still remembers years later. One messed up the figures for a day's worth of oil trading by $800 million. ('The code was correct, but the exception happened because a new financial instrument being traded had a zero value for "number of days," and nobody had told us,' he writes.) Another program kept shutting down because a professor working on the project decided to sneak in and do a little DIY coding. While care and testing can sometimes allow you to snuff out serious bugs before they occur, some truly spectacular ones occasionally end up in the release... despite your best efforts.
Girls Catfish ISIS On Social Media For Travel Money
MarkWhittington writes: Yahoo Travel reported that three women in Chechnya took ISIS for $3,300 before getting caught. They are now under investigation for Internet fraud, which seems to be illegal even when committed against the most fearsome terrorist army in modern times. The scam seems to be a combination of the Nigerian Prince con, in which a mark is fooled into giving the con artist large sums of money and catfishing, in which the mark strikes up an online romance with someone he thinks is an attractive woman (or man depending on the gender and preference of the mark.)
AmiMoJo writes: A proposal (PDF) submitted by a Google engineer to the Unicode Consortium asks that food allergies get their own emojis and be added to the standard. The proposal suggests the addition of peanuts, soybeans, buckwheat, sesame seeds, kiwi fruit, celery, lupin beans, mustard, tree nuts, eggs, milk products and gluten. According to TNW: "This proposal will take a little longer to become reality — it's still in very early stages and needs to be reviewed by the Unicode Consortium before it can move forward, but it'll be a great way for those with allergies to quickly express them."
Research Scientists To Use Network Much Faster Than Internet
nickweller writes with this story from the Times about the Pacific Research Platform, an ultra-high-speed fiber-optic research infrastructure that will link together dozens of top research institutions. The National Science Foundation has just awarded a five-year $5 million dollar grant for the project. The story reports:The network is meant to keep pace with the vast acceleration of data collection in fields such as physics, astronomy and genetics. It will not be directly connected to the Internet, but will make it possible to move data at speeds of 10 gigabits to 100 gigabits among 10 University of California campuses and 10 other universities and research institutions in several states, tens or hundreds of times faster than is typical now.
Mr.Intel writes: Allison Pugh, professor of Sociology at University of Virginia, and author of The Tumbleweed Society: Working and Caring in an Age of Insecurity, says workers in the U.S. are caught up in a "one-way honor system," in which workers are beholden to employers. She says that the golden era when Americans could get a job, keep it, and expect to retire with an adequate pension are over. JP Morgan Chase has cut 20,000 from its workforce in the past 5 years, last year HP cut 34,000 jobs, and many others have announced layoffs. In this interview Pugh talks about the social effects of this "insecurity culture."
Sprint: LG G Flex Will Launch Online on January 31 for $299 on Contract
Starting today, Sprint customers can pre-order the unique LG G Flex smartphone for $299 online with a two year contract. By pre-ordering between now and January 31st, customers will receive a complimentary Quickwindow Folio Case, which is valued at $60. Sprint…
Motorola Announces Moto X Launch in UK, France, and Germany on February 1
Certain European consumers interested in the Moto X smartphone from Motorola will soon have their chance to purchase the excellent handset. Expected to launch on February 1st, Motorola will sell its iconic Moto X device in Black or White in…
You'll need to be an actual rock star to afford Rock Band 4 in Australia
Australian Rock Band fans have been feverishly anticipating the arrival of local release details for Rock Band 4 for some time now – so much so that no amount of cowbell could help break that fever.
So far, we’ve heard little in Australia about how much the game (and all of its accompanying plastic instruments) would eventually cost – until now.
Kotaku has confirmed the pricing for Rock Band 4’s various SKUs, straight from distributor Home Entertainment Services’ mouth, and like Noreaga once said in Cypress Hill’s classic track ‘Rock Superstar’, you’re going to have to “save your money, man… Save your money, too.”
Keep your eye on the money
The base game will cost you $99.95, which is fairly standard for a game in Australia, however the addition of a guitar peripheral will bump that price up to $249.95, while the full band package (guitar, bass, microphone and drum kit) will set you back a cool $499.95.
That’s quite a stack of change you’ll need to put aside to get the full Rock Band 4 experience, and a great deal more expensive than the prices set by the US version – US$59.99 for the game, US$129.99 with an additional guitar and US$249.99 for the full band package.
Home Entertainment Services told Kotaku that the prices were higher due to the stock being purchased directly from Europe instead of the United States.
Let’s hope we get some details soon on how we’ll be able to use our last-gen instruments on the new generation of consoles.
Updated: Buying Guide: 10 best laptops for students 2015
Best laptops for students
Even for those who feel at home with their nose in a textbook, the end of summer break (or Winter recess) is a big bummer. But as much as it's a return to school and schedules, it's an opportunity. This is a fine excuse to invest in some fresh tech to make the coming academia-addled year a little more bearable.
If you're still reliant on a desktop, or if your laptop winces at the sight of a high-definition video lecture, it's time to look into an upgrade. And thankfully if you know where to look, it's possible to get a sleek and impressive notebook without blowing through your savings (or student loans).
We've pored through ourarchives from the past several months and picked the best laptops for school. Our short list spans a variety of budgets that range from power-sipping Chromebooks to help you with that 1,000 page dissertation to more powerful machines that'll do better at a dorm room lan party.
Update: Many of the Windows laptops in our list are Windows 10-compatible. You can read our review and check out our impressions of Microsoft's latest operating system. The battle of the OSes is on. Will you choose Windows, OS X or Chrome OS?
1. Asus Zenbook UX305
A most affordable and excellent Ultrabook
CPU: 800MHz Intel Core M 5Y10 (dual-core, 4MB cache, 2GHz with Turbo Boost) | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 5300 | RAM: 8GB DDR3 | Screen: 13.3-inch FHD 1,920 x 1,080 (matte) | Storage: 256GB SSD | Connectivity: 802.11n Wi-Fi; Bluetooth 4.0 | Camera: 1.2MP HD | Weight: 2.6 pounds |Dimensions: 12.8 x 8.9 x 0.5 inches (W x D x H)
The Acer Chromebook 15 asks if you need a big machine to just run a Chrome browser, and I say 'oh, yes.' The Chromebook 15 takes Chrome OS to new places as it's the first device to arrive with a 15.6-inch display and the first to come with Intel's newest Broadwell processor.
3. Apple MacBook Pro 13.3-inch with Retina Display
The fastest small MacBook Pro yet is a force of nature
CPU: 2.7GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 with 3MB L3 cache (Turbo Boost up to 3.1GHz) | Graphics: Intel Iris Graphics 6100 | RAM: 8GB | Screen: 13.3-inch IPS, 2,560 x 1,600 pixels | Storage: 128GB SSD |Connectivity: 802.11ac Wi-Fi; Bluetooth 4.0 | Camera: FaceTime HD | Weight: 3.48lbs (1.58kg) |Dimensions: 12.35 x 8.62 x 0.71-inches (W x D x H)
The 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display is an excellent option for students who may need more power than a Chromebook or a MacBook Air without sacrificing portability thanks to its long battery life, relatively light weight, and high resolution display. Students on a budget will be happy to know that they can get started right away as the MacBook Pro with Retina display ships with free copies of Pages, Numbers, and Keynote out of the box as well as iMovie, Photos, and GarageBand for basic, creative projects.
CPU: Dual-core 1.3GHz Intel Core i5 (2.6GHz with Turbo Boost) | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 5000 | RAM: 4GB | Screen: 13.3-inch 1440 by 900 | Storage: 128GB SSD | Connectivity: 802.11ac Wi-Fi; Bluetooth 4.0 | Camera: FaceTime HD | Weight: 2.96 pounds (1.35 kg) | Dimensions: 12.8 x 8.94 x 0.68 inches (W x D x H)
CPU: Quad Core Intel Atom x7-78700 processor (2MB Cache, 1.6GHz turbo boost to 2.4GHz) | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics | RAM: 4GB | Screen: 10.8-inch ClearType Full HD Plus Display (1920 x 1200) | Storage: 128GB | Connectivity: 802.11ac Wi-Fi; Bluetooth 4.0 | Camera: 3.5 megapixel front-facing camera; 8.0 megapixel rear-facing camera with autofocus | Weight: 1.37 pounds | Dimensions: 10.52 x 7.36 x 0.34 inches (W x D x H)
If you want the cheapest and most portable Surface tablet money can buy for lightweight computing tasks, the Surface 3 fits the bill. Power-hungry users should consider the low-end Surface Pro 3 instead.
CPU: 1.9GHz Intel Core i5-4300U (dual-core, 3MB cache, up to 2.9GHz with Turbo Boost) | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 4400 | RAM: 8GB LPDDR3 | Screen: 12-inch, 2160 x 1440 multi-touch (ClearType, 3:2 aspect ratio) | Storage: 256GB | Connectivity: 802.11ac Wi-Fi; Bluetooth 4.0 | Camera: Two 5MP webcams (1080p HD video) | Weight: 1.76 pounds | Dimensions: 7.93 x 11.5 x 0.36 inches (W x D x H)
The HTC One M9 is a phone built on precision. It's a brand realising it made a pretty much perfect phone with the One M8 and doubling down on its greatest strength to try and win over more customers.
It's dropped the maligned 4MP Ultrapixel sensor, bumping it up to a huge 20.7MP option in a bid to attract those that feel safer buying a phone with higher numbers on the spec sheet.
And it's tied off the experience with a huge boost in the engine room and teamed up with Dolby to refine its already powerful BoomSound experience.
Even the battery capacity is improved, something HTC has struggled with in the past – now it's beating Samsung's Galaxy S6. So has the Taiwanese brand managed to do the almost impossible and create yet another perfect device?
It's certainly charging for it: the One M9 isn't cheap. In the UK it's got an RRP of £580 SIM free for the handset, with a good £10 per month extra on contract. US pricing has it at $649 without subsidy – which seems slightly out of kilter with the UK, but if you shop around you can get it for under £500.
This will go down further, but it seems this phone has had to have a price increase to facilitate the improved design and uprated innards. HTC has kept the microSD slot for extra storage, and boosted the internal spec to 32GB to ensure issues of low memory should be a thing of the past.
The internals are impressive: an octa-core Qualcomm 810 chipset, 3GB of RAM, 2840 mAh battery on top of a Super LCD3 screen. It's not got the cachet of Samsung's Super AMOLED display, but it's still colour rich and seems close to the glass, which is important for image quality.
There are some things that haven't improved though: the screen is still "only" 5 inches, which could be too big or too small depending on your opinion on the subject. The resolution is "only" 1080p, but again, some are questioning whether the pin-sharp QHD resolution is needed, especially as it's harder on battery life.
The metallic chassis is back and is bolder than ever. It's a two tone design (well, the Silver/Gold and Gold/Pink versions have a contrasting band around the side, whereas the Gunmetal Grey and Gold on Gold versions don't) that uses a single piece of metal for the entire phone – it really feels better packaged.
However, the key question remains: is this package good enough to warrant the extra cash? Have the improvements added more to the mix or is HTC just treading water, adding nuance rather than innovation?
Let's get this out the way at the start – the design is, by far, the most amazing part of the HTC One M9. HTC is calling it "jewellery-grade," with each one hand-finished by craftsmen, and it certainly shows.
The one-piece fascia is complemented beautifully by the two tone metallic rim (on my review unit, the silver and gold variant). The grey and gold versions will look less impressive, given they've lost the two-tone appeal, but that doesn't mean they won't be as nice to hold.
Actually, I'm pretty sure they'll be nicer than this model. There's something about the design right now that I really don't like, the rear edge proving to be quite sharp in the hand. It's not going to draw blood, but when I used the gunmetal grey preview device in Barcelona it definitely felt closer to the One M8 in style, with more of a comfortable curve.
The reason for this hasn't been confirmed by HTC, but I get the feeling it's something to do with the colouring process.
The other thing that's changed here – and not for the better – is the power button transferring to the right-hand side of the phone.
This is a more natural place for it to live, making it easier to turn the screen on and off. However, HTC has inexplicably made it the same size and shape as the volume buttons above, so feeling for it without explicitly looking means I often hit the volume key instead.
The microSD slot is right above the trio of buttons too, and as it's slightly indented can cause confusion when trying to change volume in the pocket. It's hard to tell which is which, even with the phone in your hand – the extra ridges on the power button don't help enough.
While the decisions HTC has made to improve the One M9's design don't seem to have hit the mark, there's no doubt this is a finely crafted phone, and is probably the best on the market in that respect.
The two-tone finish is superb, the weight and balance is even better than before, and the precision I spoke of earlier is the overriding feeling.
The sharp edges of the BoomSound speakers are well-defined, and while it's heavy at 157g, especially compared to the iPhone 6 or Galaxy S6, Apple's is the only device that can come close to beating the attractive packaging here – and I prefer the weight and balance HTC has created.
I'd definitely chuck it in a case though. After two days I'd already dented the bottom through it falling a foot onto the floor, and those nicks are really noticeable on the premium casing.
One thing HTC gets lambasted for is the extra space around the screen, with people saying the HTC logo doesn't need to be on there, surrounded by a black bar that many think is there for show.
It isn't. It's packing screen components that have to go somewhere as HTC has extended the length of the One M9 through the need for decent audio chambers to pump out BoomSound – and I'd rather have the powerful speakers than an identikit smartphone.
The M9 is actually a little smaller than before, despite having the same 5-inch screen as last year. In fact, it's an identical screen to last year's model with a 1080p SuperLCD display covered in Gorilla Glass.
There are undoubtedly performance improvements, but like last year, HTC is being cagey about them. What is apparent is the screen's colours are rich enough, the gap between glass and display is low and the response under the finger is noticeably sharper.
That said, in our testing the screen is too dark under auto conditions, the colours often appear washed out compared to the rest of the flagship phones and it doesn't pack the same 'wallop' as the iPhone 6 or LG G4, for instance. It's not terrible at all, but it begs the question why HTC hasn't updated this.
The screen's 441PPI is perfectly sharp and doesn't really offer a lot less than the QHD screens that are starting to flood the market. Well, more not so much "flood" as "gradually drip," but they are coming.
The only functional reason I can see to stick a super-sharp display into a screen below six inches in size is to allow for virtual reality headsets, which magnify the screen and can cause pixelation. However, HTC isn't using the phone as the base of its VR Vive headset, so there's not really any need here.
The 5-inch screen is a fraction smaller than the competition on the market right now, with many other brands choosing to go 5.1-inch and above – but again, 5 inches seems like a fine choice here. There's a fair amount of bezel on the One M9 compared to phones like the LG G4 and the Galaxy S6, and that's more pronounced due to the extra metallic lip that's running around the edge of the phone.
But we don't need edge to edge displays unless that's what the phone is about – and HTC's model is geared towards feeling more ergonomic in the hand, so it seems to suit the device.
Thinking about what's changed with the One M9 is where you'll realize that HTC has hit a roadblock when it comes to innovation.
For a brand that's been so heavily into bringing something extra to the smartphone table – think BoomSound speakers, the duo camera, finding a way to get phone signal through an all-metal body – there's very little to shout about here.
It's disappointing, given I've become used to HTC being the go-to brand for cool new ideas – making the same phone as last year with a little more polish has left me a little deflated.
And yet the phone costs so much more than in previous years – it's even more than an iPhone 6. Perhaps that will drop soon as the market stabilizes, but for now it feels like the brand is asking for more just to get a slightly more refined design.
What's better than hearing things? Hearing them in three dimensions of course! And that's just what HTC says it's done here, adding Dolby support to its BoomSound speakers (both with and without headphones connected) to create a virtual surround sound.
What this seems to mean in the real world is that the phone can now pump out sound for "theater" or "music" mode, and further improve the sound quality when you're listening to tunes over headphones.
HTC has also created its own range of earbuds to allow you to get the best out of this optimized sound too, taking advantage of the extra power for your ears.
HTC has gone bold and ditched the Ultrapixel camera for the new One M9 - well, ditched it from the rear anyway. Last year's sensor is now used on the front of the phone; with the low light ability making selfies looks much better.
The rear camera is now a 20.7MP affair, a very similar sensor to the one found in the Sony Xperia Z3 (although made by Toshiba).
It's been heavily revised, and now offers a much sharper image for those that like to zoom into photos. It's lost a little of the low light ability, and colors are more muted, but overall is a much sharper and more competent sensor.
Four more cores
The HTC One M9 is powered by Qualcomm's new all-star Snapdragon 810 chipset, which is offering two sets of four cores (with only one set ever working at any one time), clocked at 1.5GHz and 2GHz.
That's backed up by 3GB of RAM, and this combination results in a very fast experience under the finger. It's not perfect still, as Android Lollipop still seems to get in way when doing things like pressing the multi-tasking button and letting the phone lag.
Like a lot of things on this phone it seems that it's fine when 'warmed up' - pressing the multi tasking button will lead to a pause the first time, but press again and it's instant - but the first load is slow.
And there's the issue of heat. HTC has been subjected to some bad press in the build up to this review, with the insane power of the 810 chipset meaning you can really run this phone hot through benchmarks and gaming, although not to the levels being described thanks to recent software updates.
In reality, the phone does get rather warm at times thanks to the metal body dispersing heat more evenly, and while it's clear the Qualcomm chip is running to a higher temperature it's nothing massive.
Go and go and go
The battery life on the HTC range has always been something to keep an eye on, as I've always found it rather 'slippy'. That means that even doing general tasks like browsing the web or checking football scores will munch down battery life a little fast.
The One M9 has tried to eradicate that problem by using the Snapdragon 810 chip (which can use a lower power set of cores to get you through the less taxing tasks) as well as whacking in a massive 2840mAh battery, which is only fractionally smaller than the one used in the iPhone 6 Plus.
It's even bigger than the one used in the Samsung Galaxy S6, and combined with the lower pixel count should enable HTC to get a better battery life out of its flagship range.
Except, well, it doesn't. You can read more about this in the Battery section of the review, but HTC still seems unable to build a light interface that doesn't eat power when you don't want it to.
Looking at the statistics it seems that Android updating certain Google services is the main culprit, which is something usually associated with early software, so future updates might solve this - word is they're incoming, but man alive - they're taking a while.
So it's an OK battery life for HTC, and one that might get you through the day, but it will be close - and it's worse than the battery life on the One M8.
Here's a big win for HTC: the base (and only) level of storage on the phone is 32GB, which means any apps that need to be kept on the phone's internal memory can do so happily without leading to the dreaded 'delete apps to free up space' message when you need to take a picture or download new software.
There's also a microSD slot on board to allow you to get more storage in there as well, with the upper limit of 128GB bringing the total available to 160GB for your One M9.
It's worth remembering that putting loads of extra info into the phone via memory card can have an impact on performance, so don't chuck too much on there that you'll need to use regularly as it will slow the phone down somewhat.
Sense has been overhauled again for the new phone, with the new version coming with a few little tweaks - although it really looks very similar to the one we got last year.
The big changes are through themes and the gallery, with both having a marked effect on the way you personalize your phone. The theme generator is actually pretty cool: take a snap of anything, the phone will analyze the image and create a full palette of colors to use with icons and app headers - plus the font and icon shapes will be altered to match the overall 'ethos' too.
You can choose different styles if you're not completely happy with the way the phone's suggestions work - but it's a very holistic way of making a picture work throughout the phone.
Cloudex sounds like stock broking software, but it's the new way of organizing pictures on your new phone. It allows you to draw from Facebook, the One M9's internal gallery and others to give you a complete look at all your snaps in one place.
It takes a long time to sync up at the start and can munch battery if you're not careful (make sure uploading through mobile data isn't tagged, as this takes a lot power when you're snapping around) but does give you a more rounded view of all your photos across cloud and local services.
One of the interesting things about phones from the last two years was their ability to track fitness, the idea being that they'll always be in your pocket and therefore will give the best amount of info.
Despite partnering with Fitbit last year, HTC decided it needed its own version of a health tracker: HTC Fun Fit. It looks like you'll need to download this though, which is a shame – especially when you see some of the pre-loaded apps on the One M9 that I could live without happily.
Then again, Fun Fit doesn't seem like there's a lot of point to it for a number of reasons. Firstly, the rise of the fitness tracker has shown us that the phone is only so good for tracking steps, as it's not always in the pocket and therefore might not get all the data.
Secondly Fun Fit seems very limited beyond giving you information on what you've done in terms of steps taken or time spent running / walking. It's also a little useless, giving wildly incorrect results when working out how long you've been running for.
As part of a larger app, this stuff is great – and I love the cartoonish avatars, the ability to instantly sync up with friends using the app on Facebook and the different levels of activity on offer as you trot around through the day.
However, there's no end game here with HTC's option. No training plans or motivation to do more – so who's this for? The average non-exerciser will idly look at it, intrigued by their stats at the start, but with no motivation to go further.
It's a good app in that it's well-designed, but that's about it.
Interface and performance
The Sense interface on the HTC One M9 is still one of the most cultured and sophisticated around – far better than Samsung's TouchWiz and far more powerful than iOS - and with the addition of Android Lollipop it's been given another boost forward in terms of functionality.
There are still a lot of swipes needed to get around, which may put some people off, but it's simple to pick up and rewards you for playing with lots of subtle tricks.
The interface hasn't really been overhauled that much in the last year, and given most of the updates below will be coming to the HTC One M8 (and possibly even the M7) it seems like the reason to get them on the current model is slightly limited.
That said, they're still great ways to drive through the phone, and the nimbleness of the Snapdragon 810 chip means most of the touches are buttery smooth and quick. There are still pauses, judders and stumbles though, which I don't expect in a phone of this level.
In our testing, it's not got the same speed at all when compared with the iPhone 6, LG G4, Samsung Galaxy S6 and Sony Xperia Z3. It's very slow compared to the first three, taking an age to boot, to load apps and to generally keep things in the cache.
In a vacuum you probably won't notice it too much, but in comparison it's lagging.
I'll be honest here: I'm a fan of BlinkFeed, but I've barely used it on this review device. I only remembered it was there after a couple of days of using the phone, and even then I found the motivation to go through and set up all my favorite sites wasn't something I wanted to do.
There's something about Blinkfeed that's not evolved in the way I wanted it to, even though I was promised two years ago it would become really intuitive.
I really like the theory and when I'm sitting there waiting for something and I want to idly read some stuff for a few minutes, it's always great to have it there.
But then I realized that I don't want to keep snacking. I want something more substantial. After a couple of years of flicking past interesting tidbits of info, I'm not feeling full.
Blinkfeed needs to evolve, become something more substantial - and there was an attempt to do that here, with the service keeping an eye on where you are and the time, and showing you nearby restaurants and eateries that would be perfect for you based on Yelp recommendations.
However, this option doesn't seem to know anywhere in the UK, as it's never once recommended a place to eat, although it is working well enough in the US.
Either way, I don't want it - the times when I fancy a place to eat that I've not tried are few, so the One M9 telling me what's nearby each lunchtime isn't going to be helpful. Over the mpnths it's never recommended anywhere decent at the right time, so this feature feels completely redundant.
Ideally, this service should know the EXACT moments that I'll be looking for a new place to eat (when calendar invites show lunch, for instance) rather than just generically. If it worked now, I'd have turned it off.
The lockscreen does tell me when the sunset and sunrise is coming, which is nice. Always good to know when the vampires are going to be out.
This isn't something that's particularly new, but for those of you thinking about upgrading from the HTC One M7 or other phone from 2013, the improvements on Sense are really cool.
The lockscreen now shows information in strips which can be flipped away when not wanted, or double tapped to open in the relevant app. It's a neat system, and shows Google and HTC have worked well together to integrate the option with Sense.
In the pull down bar, there's often a lot going on though. With Google Now just chucking information at you (you'll get the option if you search for anything in the dedicated bar on the home screen) as well as apps telling you information, music widgets popping up and more, it's quite busy.
Another pull down will show the quick settings and the integration of all this together makes a lot of sense to me. It's one of those things to be experienced rather than read about, but with a few minutes of use it all makes sense.
Sense Home is one of the big things HTC is talking about with the One M9, a widget that lives on the home screen to show you the apps you use the most.
The clever trick is that the phone will work out where Home, Work and the more generic 'Out' zones are, and populate the apps accordingly - and you can set these locations yourself.
It generally works well too, although you can't tell it to NOT put certain apps there - Tinder fans probably won't want others to see that on the front screen.
By default HTC has also lobbed 'smart folders' into the mix, showing suggested apps and those you've downloaded.... but these are really poor and should be switched off. The suggestions are random and the titles truncated - not what you'd expect from a flagship phone.
I like the idea of having different apps for different times, and generally they were pretty good. However, I still found that after a week the eight slots weren't filled with my most-used apps, so I hope this gets more accurate over time.
Gestures are back from the HTC One M8, allowing you to wake the phone into certain modes when locked. The main gesture is double tapping the blank screen to unlock it, something Nokia invented and LG made popular. Given how hard it is to find the power button at times, this ability is useful - plus you can now double tap to turn the screen off too.
Flicking up from the bottom of the display bypasses the lock screen altogether if you've not got security on, and when I remembered to use it I found it quite a useful ability.
Plus you can drag down from the top or other side to open straight into voice dialing or Blinkfeed, although these are turned off by default.
The main thing that's annoyed me from last year is still there though: if the phone is asleep on the desk, you can't wake it without picking it up or knocking the One M9 first. I'm sure the screen doesn't stay constantly waiting for a tap or swipe input when asleep to save battery, but the LG range seems to be able to do it with better power management.
But this gesture unlock is one of the best thing HTC has done in a while, and it should be applauded for keeping it present.
While I don't want it to sound like I'm bashing the One M9 too much in the interface section, the keyboard is another place where HTC has let a lead go.
The brand used to be synonymous with an excellent and accurate keyboard, but it's so far behind the likes of SwiftKey that it's hard not to recommend you don't download a better option from the Play Store as soon as possible.
The accuracy is OK, but the word predictions are rarely correct. On top of that, the phone will only let you put in a word that's not in the dictionary if you explicitly to so - and it won't default to that the next time.
It's not terrible, but HTC used to be the best default keyboard on any phone, where now it's just OK.
Excellent contact integration
One thing HTC does do really well is make the phone section really easy to use, with the clever join between your contacts on handset and social networks almost seamless.
For instance the smart linking between your friends on the phone and the profiles on Facebook and Twitter is excellent. And on top of that, the One M9 can pull in HD pictures from Facebook profiles so when you get called it's not from a blurry, pixelated mess.
It can take a while for the app to overwrite the fuzzy pictures with the HD options, but it will shake itself out eventually. Given phones like the iPhone 6 still can't get close to this kind of happy integration (nor do they have smart dialing, where you can easily tap out numbers to get to friends' profiles) so HTC should be applauded for this effort.
The performance of the HTC One M9 is excellent, as noted. There are too many judders in this early version of the software that I anticipate will be ironed out in a very short time, but when it's opening apps or searching the web everything is crisper than last year.
I wish I could it say it would stay that way for the next two years that you'll own this phone, but when you start filling it with apps you'll get an inevitable slowdown as they start doing things in the background.
Always keep things clean and safe, kids. A factory reset once in a while doesn't hurt.
The GeekBench 3 results show a very impressive score, and remember this isn't really the full performance of the phone as HTC has throttled it slightly so it doesn't go burning hot.
That points out something huge about today's phones: they're pointlessly powerful. The octa-core processor can be pushed to insane speeds if you don't care too much about battery, but in day to day life it won't hit anywhere close to that limit, meaning HTC can dial back the power without a worry.
With that in mind, why does it matter how powerful the phone is? It's like buying a high performance sports car that will never see the track. It's good to know you've got that headroom to put your foot down when you want it, and the acceleration is great, but push it too hard and you'll be in trouble.
Even with the lower power, the HTC One M9 is one of the most powerful smartphones we've tested, though topped by the insane skills of the iPad Air 2.
For gaming, flying through multiple apps and more it's got the power – but then when you're trying to browse high resolution pictures in the gallery and it takes a second to load the fully sharp image, that experience is ruined.
Shout out for call quality though – the ability to grab signal is very good indeed, which is even more impressive when you think how much metal is in this phone.
Metal usually equals no phone signal at all, so it's good to see that HTC has somehow managed to improve this area. I was a really big fan of using the One M9 to make something as old-fashioned as a phone call.
Battery life on the HTC One M9 should be brilliant in comparison to what's been before. The Snapdragon 801 chipset finally made an HTC phone decent at lasting throughout a day last year, and with a larger power pack and an improvement from Qualcomm things should be awesome.
Sadly, they're not. I'm not saying that it's a problem and this phone won't last long enough to tap out a couple of tweets, but the performance hasn't been moved on much from last year.
The issue is that the phone heats up really easily doing the most mundane of tasks. Anything that takes a little bit of wireless connection is a quick way to watch it drop, be it mobile data or listening to music over headphones.
Where most phones these days won't have much of an issue losing no more than 10% on my morning commute, even with a bit of video action, the One M9 has dropped as much as 17% through Bluetooth music streaming and emails, which is odd as this doesn't usually munch too much power.
The good news is Google's new Android 5.0 gives you a good way of checking the problems, letting you shut down (or get rid of) the apps which are misbehaving.
However, in this case it's 'Google Services' which is the issue, elements fundamental to the running of the phone, which means there's not a lot to be done about it.
I usually see this in the first few days of reviewing, but the issue has pervaded. Hardcore testing - be it standby, heavy apps, web browsing and YouTube videos, for instance - has proven the HTC to be a poorer choice than the rest of the competition, with poorer background battery management.
This means you can't lean on the One M9 too heavily for playing games or watching videos, which is irritating if you want to have a little bit of battery left at the end of the day.
Gaming is really heavy on the battery, with a quick 15 minute game sometimes sucking 10% juice - although the issue is often that mobile games these days are constantly communicating with servers for online play or in app purchases, which hurts the battery.
Running TechRadar's standard battery test on the One M9, where we looped a 90 min full HD video at maximum brightness showed that the new HTC phone was one of the worst performers of recent times, with 31% of the battery disappearing.
If you consider that the LG G Flex 2, another big phone on the market with the Snapdragon 810 chipset, only lost 13% in the same test, then you'll see that there's something going on with the software here.
I also ran the same test on the newly-Lollipopped HTC One M8 and HTC One M7, and they managed 24% and 30% respectively - and the phone from 2013 had barely enough battery to make it through the day too. This shows that for some reason HTC has managed to go backwards in battery life, even with the larger capacity and theoretically more efficient processor.
I'm confident battery life will improve, but it's actually a small step back from the One M8, which can be had for nearly half the price of the new version, and that's just not good enough.
The other big thing here is QuickCharge 2.0 – although this offers a pretty amazing 60% charge in just 30 mins, the charger in the box isn't QuickCharge enabled to get the maximum speeds on offer.
This is just ludicrous – I thought by this point that they'd be standard as the tech began appearing in phones last year. It's really frustrating that you'll need to spend so much more given this is an already expensive phone.
HTC's given up on the UltraPixel idea with the One M9, at least for its main camera. Instead it's gone for the same 20.7MP sensor found in the Sony Xperia Z3, aiming to wow with the higher number of megapixels stuffed in.
That step away from Ultrapixels is a big disappointment, as HTC was the one big Android brand striking out against the need for loads of pixels to take a good picture, instead going for the innovative combo of a 4MP sensor that could nab loads of light and a secondary sensor for clever effects.
So how good is the new camera, trying to stand shoulder to shoulder with the best from Samsung and Sony? A good camera today needs to have a fast start up and shutter speed, excellent detail, accurate color reproduction and good low light performance, and it's clear HTC has gone in hard for all of these.
The One M9 generally has a very good performance in most conditions, whether it's low light, bright scenes or changeable conditions. The sharpness of the pictures is clear and the color tone, although a little more muted, looks more mature than the over-coloration of the One M8.
What's clear is there's a lot of post-processing going on throughout the photography process, and it's very good for the most part. It's evident that HTC has tried to offset the loss of low-light performance by boosting the exposure after the shutter is pressed – but this results in a lot of noise.
The flash isn't brilliant either, with the high power light taking over night pictures. The amber LED in there is designed to help improve skin tone, and while it does do that, the entire snap is a little over exposed.
The big annoyances here, though, are the shutter speed (and, to an extent, the start up time, which is far behind the iPhone 6 and the Galaxy S6) and the time taken to autofocus as well.
The biggest culprit was HDR mode, which forced the One M9 to pause for a while before even beginning to start processing the shot in darker conditions. Again, this isn't the sort of thing I'd have expected from a next-generation processor.
And the result, thanks to the lack of autofocus and the slow start to processing, is often muddy and lacks definition.
So while low light performance has dipped appreciably, the general performance has more than improved enough to take its place. In general daylight, I was really impressed with the performance of the One M9. OK, it's nothing different to the rest of the market, but it gives you quality and sharpness time and again.
The field of view is lowered though, thanks to the higher number of megapixels. This means you don't get as much info into the sensor, and where Apple is improving this year on year, HTC just took a step backwards to get more pixels into the mix.
The front facing camera, now using the UltraPixel sensor from the rear of the One M8, is miles better.
It captures a huge amount of detail and really removes the need for a flash – something a lot of people have been calling for on other handsets.
The beauty modes are still present, with the ability to smooth skin and increase the size of your eyes to a scary level. Face fusion, where you can work out what the demon spawn of you and your friend would look like, is also offered – and great fun down the bar.
The other area that HTC has traditionally been strong is the after effects party, with the Zoe ability to take short videos and mix them with pictures a really cool trick.
This year, Zoe has been moved to a separate app, been taken off as a camera option and been replaced in post processing with a lot of, well, useless effects.
I don't really get why HTC is making such a big deal about the ability to do things like double expose your photos – they just end up looking like you've messed up two snaps, unless they happen to perfectly complement one another.
Similarly the prism and stripe effects, allowing you to 'remix' your image – it just seems like a good way to create a Pink Floyd album cover. It doesn't make them look any better, and it's certainly not something I'd share on social media and be proud of.
One area that HTC has firmly wedged itself into is entertainment: whether that's using the phone for watching movies, listening to music, playing games or even letting it control your whole media system, the One M9 is really rather good for all of these things.
The BoomSound speakers should get the credit for a lot of things here, as they're the reason that HTC has managed to bag the tag of being so good at audio.
When I first heard what HTC was doing with these in 2013, I thought it was a stupid idea - making a phone better at playing sounds out loud was just going to appeal to the juvenile delinquents who play tinny music on a bus, right?
But then I found that I would put music on when working at home, show YouTube video to friends and even use the handset without headphones when using guided exercise apps - things I've never done before with a standard phone.
The sound is rich and loud, the extra space HTC allows meaning there's a lot of room for the audio to echo and gain in timbre. In short, it worked - and even the internal BoomSound optimizations were smart. Using the technology again makes sense - I'm still not convinced that the speakers couldn't have been made smaller in the same way as on other Desire devices in the HTC line.
It seems this is equal parts branding as it is technology holding back - HTC wants the speakers to be seen to give the impression of a flagship phone. I get that, but a slightly sleeker device would have felt like a step forward this year.
Enough of the look of the speakers though - how impressive is the audio capability of this phone? Very good, putting it simply.
The HTC BoomSound integration with Dolby technology really does improve the quality of the music, whether with or without headphones.
When listening to music through the speakers, the One M9 will automatically add a notification at the top of the screen to let you know which 'mode' the BoomSound speakers are pumping audio out in, either theater or music.
It's irritating that the phone doesn't switch this automatically, as it's clear that if you're using Netflix you'll need to be in theater mode, and if Spotify is up, then it's music.
Speaking of the streaming service, the music app on the One M9 is starting to feel a little redundant given the popularity of on-demand music, which explains why nothing has really changed of late with the app, apart from making it look more like the Google Play icon and thus causing confusion when selecting it in your apps menu.
If you do have a full audio arsenal of MP3s to throw onto your One M9, then you'll be pleased with the experience, as it's got downloadable lyrics, clever visualizations and a bright and clear interface.
There's no hi-res audio on offer though, and this is starting to trickle through as something people are looking for in a phone. Both LG and Sony are making a big deal of it, and Tidal is growing in popularity as a high resolution streaming option. I don't think HTC has missed out by not including it here, but it would have been a nice improvement.
Watching video on the HTC One M9 is fine, although the automatic brightness settings are a little on the dim side. Even watching stuff in bed, where a low brightness is OK, I found that I wanted to keep pushing the clarity of the display up, which obviously affects battery life.
HTC still hasn't got a dedicated video app, so if you want to sideload any video onto the device then you'll need to find it in the Gallery app or through Google Play Movies, but it's not particularly onerous to do so.
The sharpness and contrast ratios are impressive though, and if you've got the phone propped up somewhere then the BoomSound speakers make a nice addition.
I've yet to notice anything coming close to Dolby virtual surround sound coming out of them when it comes to watching video though. To me, surround sound is when you have moments where you're not sure if there's someone approaching to the side - all I felt here was that the dialogue was clearer.
That's not a bad thing, but don't get excited and think that buying this phone will replace a home cinema system. Then again if you did, I'd worry for your sanity.
Peel Smart remote
HTC's SenseTV app has disappeared, to be replaced by the Peel Smart Remote option. Given this was the power behind the app originally, it makes sense that HTC should cease bothering putting its own skin on and let the current app do the talking.
It's an odd app in terms of quality, ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous. When displaying what shows are on, or those you might like, the pictures look low res and stretched as it pulls them from the local channel servers.
Given this is one of the first things you'll see when turning on the app it won't fill you with glee.
But go a little further and you'll see that this is a very powerful app indeed. The set up for the main TVs couldn't be easier, and by simply entering your post code the channels are almost always spot on.
In less than 30 seconds of powering up the app you can be browsing channels and watching a TV that you've not been able to use remotely for years (we've all got one where the remote has been missing for a while, right?) and setting up a TV from a big brand is speed personified.
The interface is slick and easy to use, and the ability to call up the EPG on the remote screen is really cool. Plus I can never tire of pressing a button for a channel and watching the phone press all the buttons in the right order to make sure that the right pictures pop up.
Who doesn't like automation like that?
One annoying thing that kept happening was the fact programs I'd just watched and decided not to continue with remained in the notification bar, even if the app was closed down.
I'd wager that HTC's biggest problem here is letting people know that their phone is such a powerful remote. Given so many people asked me what the top section of dark plastic was for on the phone, it's clear not many know that this is a device with an infrared blaster packed in.
But if that's HTC's hardest problem to solve then it's not a bad thing at all.
The Adreno 430 GPU in the HTC One M9 is definitely strong enough to be one of the better options on the market for general gaming - in fact, there's very little that can be thrown at it that will cause the phone to crash or stutter.
That means you can play something like Real Racing 3 or Into the Dead and combine it with the rich sound from the BoomSound speakers to get a really decent experience, and the sensitivity of the touchscreen is something that makes it a real joy to use.
Sadly I'm still yet to find a phone that really does let me use it as a console, with an easy connection to the TV with a Bluetooth controller attached.
What fails to work here is the latency: connecting the phone wirelessly or through a MHL lead (which is supported) still results a slightly laggy experience if you've got a controller attached through Bluetooth on the phone, so all that raw power can't be exploited.
As a mobile gaming unit it's pretty good - as long as you can handle the dramatic loss in battery power - and I've not found much incompatibility for titles on the One M9.
The HTC One M9 is a very good phone, mostly let down by the fact the one from last year was brilliant. The only reason it's judged so harshly is the fact that in 2015 it's got so many other brilliant phones to steal its thunder - so if you're looking for an alternative, these are the ones to look at.
Samsung Galaxy S6
The Galaxy S6 is definitely the phone that most HTC users will be thinking about instead, especially if they're into the Android ecosystem.
While HTC managed to reboot its ailing flagship franchise two years ago, it's taken Samsung until now to manage the same thing - and boy, has it done it.
There's nothing particularly outstanding about the S6, but it manages to do everything very well. The camera is feature-packed and offers up brilliant snaps, with a more-than-decent 16MP low-light sensor. The processor is an Exynos 7420, built in-house and hyper-powerful, and the QHD screen really adds clarity to the mix.
However, that's likely more to do with the Super AMOLED technology underpinning than the crystal clear resolution on offer - after all, there's only so much sharpness the human eye can discern. It doesn't stop images looking amazing on it though.
The main issues you'll have to deal with are poor battery life (with a smaller battery pack and higher res screen, it's understandable that this would be slightly shorter in the power department) and the higher price: Samsung's charging iPhone-esque prices here, so while the One M9 is expensive, Samsung's taken that one up a level.
If I was going to recommend a phone over the One M9, the iPhone 6 would be it as they're so alike in terms of design prowess – and even the price has evened out.
However, the similarity is only in the effort put into build quality, as where the One M9 is well balanced and weighty, the iPhone 6 is very light and flat.
It still feels very much like a premium phone, and although the screen isn't as sharp, it still looks gorgeous to the point of not really noticing unless you compare.
In terms of the app selection and the general performance, it's on a par with the One M9, and the battery life is very similar too. It really comes down to whether you want to pay the extra cash and if you're an iPhan - if not, the build quality and general luster of HTC's option is excellent.
HTC One M8
And we come to my biggest issue, that the predecessor to the One M9 is actually a little bit better.
While it does lack in terms of spec, it manages to more than make up for it in cost, coming in between half and two thirds the price of the One M9 on contract.
And I can't really say what's that much worse with it. The battery life is actually a touch better, the build quality not miles away and the camera not terrible in comparison. OK, the new 20.7MP camera on the One M9 is stronger, but it doesn't have the innovative Duo Camera sensor for really cool effects.
I'm pretty sure the Sense experience from the One M9 will make its way to this device soon too - so really, with the same screen, a more palatable price and a little longer in the battery, is this actually the better phone?
The LG range is always going to be a thorn in HTC's side, as it can offer a premium smartphone experience for a lower price, as it channels its marketing budget back into the phone's cost.
The QHD screen is the real talking point here, but it doesn't really offer that much more than HTC does, and the build quality of the new HTC flagship far outstrips the weird leather the G4 is packing.
For the price - around 10% lower than the HTC - it's a tough call. If you're not fussed about design, the G4 is cheaper and faster with a better screen and camera (although not as much power) - but it does have a leather back, for some reason.
Sony Xperia Z3
With the Sony Xperia Z4 (or rather the Sony Xperia Z3+) still not globally available, last year's Z3 is the closest challenger to HTC's One M9 - although in my eyes there's very little competition.
It has price as a winner, and despite packing a very similar sensor the camera performance is superior from Sony thanks to better optimization. It's also got a longer battery life too, thanks to the enhanced Stamina Mode.
But it's in the interface and design that HTC is the winner here, as it's got a much better way of bringing the cool bits of the phone to the surface through BlinkFeed and clever notifications at the right time.
The Xperia Z3+ will be landing soon, but as the name suggests it's not much of an upgrade and the HTC One M9 still gives it a serious run for its money.
For me, a flagship phone needs to hit a lot of marks to be considered impressive: it has to have cutting-edge performance, beautiful design, a powerful camera, long battery life and not be too hard on the pocket.
Last year HTC hit nearly all these marks, with the One M8 excelling in every area. OK, it wasn't cheap, but nor was it the most expensive on the market. It didn't have the best camera, but it was the most innovative.
This year, HTC isn't at the top of any of those categories apart from design, where it still shows the rest of the market how it should be done. It's raised the price by nearly 8% and yet doesn't deliver any discernible upgrades beyond a more mature camera and slightly more professional speakers. It's all nuanced tweaks, not powerful improvements.
I think I'm most disappointed by the camera used here. I was expected HTC to come out all guns blazing, showing us that it really did believe the megapixel myth was something to be fought, that lower MP counts really do count for something.
Instead of the next generation of duo camera, an 8MP Ultrapixel sensor or similar, it seems to have thrown in the towel and decided to try and make more megapixels work… you know, just like everyone else.
This is a phone that has all the DNA of the HTC One M8 and polishes it well. Theme creator adds a lot of personalization to create an emotional attachment with the phone, and the Sense Home widget seems to be really useful too.
I thought I'd be getting rid of it straight away as I've seen this tried over and over again by other brands, but it's actually useful and surfaces the best stuff at the right time.
The main thing I liked is the design though. It's easily the best on the market, feeling almost hand-crafted with a great aesthetic and great feeling in the hand – this is the One range grown up.
And while things like BoomSound, BlinkFeed and Sense haven't necessarily been improved much, they're still really great features that HTC is rightly proud of, showing it's still a market leading brand.
Sadly, there's more to criticize this year than I've had in the last couple of years. The first is the battery: I'm expecting next generation power management in 2015, as most of the smartphone buying world is, and instead I get something that's a step backwards.
That's a reduction in power with no discernible reason either – the full HD screen isn't any different from last year, the battery is bigger and the software presumably stable. So why on earth are we not seeing at least 36 hours of battery life where I'm not even getting a day?
The camera is more powerful than I was expecting but I'm still disappointed in the loss of the UltraPixel and duo camera combo. I wanted to see an 8MP advance on last year, maintaining the strong snapping speed, and instead I got a sensor with the same specs as the one Sony's been pushing for over a year – although it does take some great pics on occasion.
The biggest issue I have with the One M9 is that it doesn't impress me as other models have. Good design is fine, but it seems like HTC's just remade the phone from last year as it didn't have anything new to add into the mix. Taking the DNA from the One M7 and One M8 doesn't mean that's fine for a new handset.
Let me make one thing clear: the HTC One M9 is an excellent phone, filled to the brim with good features, a clever interface and a design that it should rightly be proud of, once again showing every other brand how it should be done.
The issue is that it doesn't improve enough. The One M8 was pretty much the perfect phone, and not much has changed year on year… in fact, HTC has gone backwards on battery life and hasn't really done much more than polish throughout the phone.
Except perhaps in the camera, where things are improved and needed to be given that was somewhere HTC was struggling to gain consumer support. It's now just the same experience as on every other phone though, and I miss last year's innovation.
HTC hasn't been as arrogant as Apple by simply bringing out an S version of its phone though – there are some genuine upgrades, which are evident the second you put the One M9 in the hand. It makes the design of last year's model look sloppy in comparison, for instance.
This is a phone sold on precision, but comes with far too many ragged edges to be considered worthy of a perfect score again.
It's all tweaks and polish, an admission that HTC managed to create something brilliant last year and is loathe to deviate too far from that formula. Which is a shame, as this is a brand I've almost come to rely upon to offer genuinely useful innovation time and again.
Fingers crossed 2016 will see something from HTC that
Though Optus has offered family data sharing since April, the telco has announced that it will be allowing more of its plans to utilise a new data pooling feature.
The previous data pool arrangement allowed Optus mobile users to link their mobile data with a separate internet-only data plan for devices like tablets, but as of today a number of personal and business plans will be able to benefit from data pooling too.
Anyone with more than one My Plan Plus or My Plan Business, including both SIM only plans and term based contracts, on the one bill, will now be able to share the total data quota across up to six devices.
Add a tablet to the tab
Existing account holders with an active 12 or 24 month mobile or mobile broadband plan are also eligible to claim an $150 one time credit, for adding a new device on a 24 month contract to the bill.
Optus has stated that the credit for new device offer is valid until the 5th of October.
Having recently told Russian Facebook users to leave the social network over its blocking of Russia’s telecommunications regulator, the Russian government is taking its beef with the site even further, as it’s considering blocking it entirely over its use of gay emoji.
Russian senator Mikhail Marchenko has called for the government to investigate whether Facebook’s same-sex emoji are in direct violation of the country’s ‘homosexual propaganda’ laws which were established in 2013.
In his appeal to Russia's Roskomnadzor (Federal Service For Supervision of Communication, Information Technology and Mass Media), Marchenko stated that “these emoji of non-traditional sexual orientation are seen by all users of the social network, a large portion of whom are minors,” and that “propaganda of homosexuality is banned under the laws and under the pillars of tradition that exist here in our country.”
Though access to similar emoji on Twitter and in Apple’s own emoji section is readily available, the appeal makes no mention of these services, instead choosing to focus its attention on Facebook.
It could work, too – Roskomnadzor is believed to have closed down over 10,000 sites in Russia so far, and even managed to push Google and Intel out of the country entirely in 2014 for failing to comply with Russia’s blogger laws.
New iPhone 6S pictures leak off the production line
It's only a month or so until the time of year when Apple traditionally launches new iPhones, and the rumours and leaks are starting to gather pace. For your perusal this weekend we have some shots of the iPhone 6S display rolling off the production line, courtesy of GeekBar.
It's not the most dramatic set of shots we've ever seen but it confirms that the iPhone 6S is going to look an awful lot like the iPhone 6. Jony Ive wouldn't put in all that work on the design of a phone only to rip up the blueprints a year later.
There seem to be small and subtle differences to the display component when compared with last year's model - is Apple prepping an upgrade for the iPhone screen resolution, perhaps?
Force Touch for the very first time
In other weekend rumors of the rather unsurprising variety, there are new reports that Apple's suppliers are ramping up production of the Force Touch displays that will go inside the next batch of iPhones.
Considering the pressure-sensitive technology has already appeared in the Apple Watch and the new MacBook, it would be a surprise if Apple didn't add it to the iPhone - if you get Force Touch in the iPhone 2015 features office sweepstake we reckon you could be quids in.
If you want to know everything we think we know about the next set of iPhones, head to our dedicated hub page - it should give you a good idea of what Apple has in store this year.
So the latest iteration of Windows has now been unleashed, and as has become tradition at Linux Format, we pit the Redmond-ian OS mano-a-mano with Linux to determine the ultimate operating system.
Of course, in reality this is comparing apples and oranges: One is a free codebase which can run on most any hardware imaginable, the other is a proprietary product with an undecouple-able GUI that, until recently, has run only on x86 PCs. Our approach will be to consider features from Windows 10 and compare them with like-for-like equivalents from various Linux distributions.
Microsoft's new operating system has certainly brought forth a lot of changes, and perhaps the most notable is that Windows 10 will be the last incarnation of the OS. That doesn't mean the end of Windows, but rather the beginning of "Windows as a Service". Updates will be pushed to consumers once Microsoft deems them ready, while businesses will be offered a choice of two release channels, dubbed Current and Long Term which offer more rigid release cycles. Individuals who purchase (or are entitled to a free) copy of Windows will see it supported "for the lifetime of that device".
Windows gone by
One can forgive Microsoft for abandoning its previous strategy of doing discrete releases, it hasn't on the whole worked out well. Windows Vista was received with generally little affection, mostly because of its demanding system requirements, but let's not forget good old user-inertia.
This is going to get us in trouble but Vista did have some good points. Sure, the constant user account control interruptions were annoying, but they were part of a well-intentioned move to introduce proper account privileges to Windows. DirectX 10 introduced new and exciting multimedia features and the new WDDM driver model promised improved graphics performance. But for the most part, the release was widely seen as a failure, ignored by users and businesses alike. At its peak it could only manage a paltry market share of about 21%.
In sum, having a single release of Windows obviates fragmentation problems for Microsoft and upgrade woes for customers. Assuming, of course, that they upgrade in the first place. Many an upgrade-refusenik cites Windows 8 as a reason for staying put and it will be hard to assuage their trepidations and get them to move on. Cosmetically Windows 10 doesn't look or feel all that different to Windows 8.1.
This might just be because we here at LXF towers prefer to work with grown-up operating systems, but if Microsoft really wanted to avoid naming its latest progeny Windows 9, then 8.2 would be a much better title. Obviously it's a secret how different the underlying codebase really is, but digging around the settings you'll find the same Device Manager that has been kicking about since XP. You'll even find win.ini and system.ini files which date back to Windows 3.1.
The Microsoft of today is a different beast to that of yesterday. The company still enjoys desktop dominance (albeit split between its last five desktop OSes), but this is no longer enough, and Nadella is only too aware of it. The real battle is taking place on mobile devices, and Microsoft barely has a foot in the door.
One of the most touted Windows 10 features is platform convergence: PCs, Xboxes, Windows Mobile devices, giant Surface Hubs and even the Win10 build for Raspberry Pi will all run on a unified Windows core, so that one app will run consistently on any of these platforms. For convertible tablet/laptop devices, there is also the Continuum feature, which ensures apps will undergo a seamless UI transition whenever the device is transformed.
When Windows 10 Mobile is released, it will enable users to plug their phones into a monitor, mouse and keyboard and use the handset as they would a regular PC. In July last year Satya Nadella stated there was already 90% API overlap between mobile, desktop and Xbox code.
Convergence has also been one of Canonical's buzzwords ever since the introduction of the controversial Unity desktop. Two Ubuntu phones have already been released, but these rely on Unity 8 which incorporates the new Mir display server. These technologies have a long way to go before they are stable for desktop use, although brave souls willing to try can do so through the Ubuntu "Next" channel. In all likelihood Microsoft will achieve convergence before Canonical does, but the real challenge for both parties (both small fish in the mobile ecosystem) will be leveraging this feature to win over consumers.
Windows 7, released three years after Vista, did a reasonable job of righting some of its perceived wrongs and, credit where credit is due, was generally a much better OS than its predecessor. Adoption was fairly cautious, but by Q3 2011 it had surpassed XP. Unfortunately for Microsoft, many of those XP diehards refused to budge and to this day continue not to do so.
In a way, Microsoft's most successful operating system has become its greatest bugbear. Even today, fourteen years since being released and over a year after it reached its prolonged End Of Life (EOL) the blue and green dinosaur that is XP is still very much alive (but probably not well). No doubt Microsoft enjoys the remunerations that go with expensive post-EOL arrangements, but these resources could surely be better directed elsewhere.
Which brings us to 2012, Windows 8, and the interface formerly known as Metro. While a boon for touchscreen users, desktop users were lost and confused searching for familiars, namely the Start Menu and the desktop. These were hidden behind unintuitive shortcuts or touch gestures. The OS was accused of being in the midst of an identity crisis, with Desktop apps and Metro apps rendered entirely at odds with each other.
Windows 8.1 was released about a year later and, heeding users protestations, backpedalled on many of the design decisions. Reception was much warmer, but traditional keyboard and mouse navigation remained awkward. At the time of writing, there are about as many people still using Windows XP as are using 8.1, with both enjoying around a 13% share of the desktop market.
Borrowed bits and Windows SSH
As people do more and more on their desktops – what with multiple browser windows, Skype conversations, music players and whatever is the latest thing the kids nowadays are up to – desktop real estate becomes a scarce resource. Thanks to high resolution, widescreen displays the situation is not as bad as it used to be, but imagine if you could have group different applications or windows together on a single "virtual desktop".
The latest Windows offering lets you do exactly this, with its new Task View feature. Testing via Windows Insider program found that users preferred to have only icons from the current desktop visible, so this is the default setting. Previews of all available desktops can be accessed with a click/tap of the Task View button or using the Windows-Tab key combination. At the moment this is a little clumsy though, since invoking the keyboard shortcut places the focus inside the current desktop preview. A couple of extra key presses are required to actually cycle through other desktops and the applications running therein.
Virtual desktops have been available on Windows through third party programs since the XP days, but more often than not these just used ugly hacks to hide and group various entries on the taskbar. This confuses a number of applications, which are hardwired to believe there can be only one (desktop, not Highlander). The discerning reader will of course be aware that virtual desktops have been on Linux since the initial KDE and GNOME releases in the late 90s, and that they were around, in various guises, long before that in the days of the Amiga 1000 (1985) and the Solbourne window manager (1990). It's nice to see Microsoft join the party. Better late than never guys.
Task View in itself is also rather similar to Gnome Shell's Activities Overlay (the screen that shows all running applications). Like Gnome Shell, Windows 10 also features a central notification area (dubbed "Action Center"), so that one's tray is spared domination by dancing icons and toaster popups all vying for one's attention.
Typing Being able to livesearch applications (and in so doing get unwanted web results) from the Start bar is a nice feature, although it's been in Unity and Gnome Shell since their inception. The Unity Dash will even categorise various web results into 'lenses', but obviously it loses points because of the infamous Amazon sponsored results. Being able to see all installed applications is a useful feature. It was vaguely present in Windows 8 (and was in fact the only way to find newly installed applications), but again has been present in a much more useable form in modern Linux desktops for about five years.
Windows Powershell has been around since 2006, and the series sees a fifth instalment with the latest OS. One of its most touted features is that it provides something akin to a package manager. This amazing technology lets you source software from a trusted repository and install it without having to run the gauntlet of ambiguously worded questions relating to the installation of toolbars, smileys, or other bloatware. Packages can then be cleanly removed with a simple command.
The blurb from Redmond calls this Software Discovery, Installation and Inventory (SDII). If only we had something like this on Linux. Oh wait. At present, OneGet (being the title of this new tool) is just a collection of Powershell cmdlets that talks to the repository used by the third-party utility Chocolatey Nuget. This provides just shy of 3000 packages just now, an order of magnitude smaller than any Linux package manager. In future there will be many other repositories available, perhaps even an official Microsoft one. But at least you'll no longer need to fire up IE just to download your favourite browser, it can all be done by opening a Powershell window as administrator and typing:
Replace Firefox with GoogleChrome if you're that way inclined The -Provider argument proved to be necessary for disambiguation with another package called xFirefox when we tested, but hopefully things will have been tidied up now the OS has been launched. Naturally, Microsoft will encourage people to use the App Store as their first port of call for new software, but Powershell gurus will enjoy this method. Even if it's not a patch on Apt or DNF.
Windows as a Service can in some ways be compared to a rolling-release operating system, such as Arch or Linux Mint Debian Edition. At the same time the multi-branch release model for businesses is vaguely similar to Debian's release model. Indeed the whole Insider Preview model is a big old beta test itself, just like what has been happening with Steam OS over the past year-and-a-bit. But none of these are really Linux ideas, and it's actually pretty refreshing to see Microsoft co-opting them. Also pleasant is the fact that Microsoft's new OS is being offered as a free upgrade for those already running a legitimate copy of Windows 7 or later, but this move is largely a deal-sweetener for potential upgraders sitting on the fence.
Another development which isn't strictly part of Windows 10 but which we'll happily include here nonetheless is that PowerShell is soon to be blessed with SSH functionality. So you will be able to connect to your Windows box and use awkward PowerShell syntax to administer it. While it has always been possible to run a third party SSH client, such as the venerable PuTTY, running a server involved installing the Cygwin environment which is pretty heavy duty. Interestingly, various bods at Microsoft have pressed for SSH inclusion, but traditionally they have been struck down by management.
Nadella, though, is much more tolerant of what his predecessor might have called 'commie' technology. In fact, team Redmond are actually going to contribute to the OpenSSH community. In fact, they've just become an OpenBSD (custodians of the OpenSSH project) "Gold" contributor by flinging a five-figure sum their way.
Likely there will be some that look upon this move with scepticism and others all too willing to quote the oft' jested Microsoft strategy: Embrace, Extend, Extinguish. But remember that didn't work with (MS)HTML and it won't work with SSH either. Who knows, maybe we'll even be able to blame Redmond for the next Heartbleed.
Hardware and drivers
If you have an older computer running Windows 7, or even XP, and are considering upgrading to Windows 10, then bear in mind the minimum system requirements:
1GB RAM (2GB for 64-bit)
16GB Hard Drive
DirectX 9 video card (with WDDM driver)
These are pretty modest, especially when one considers the demands Windows Vista imposed back in the day. DirectX 9 has been around since 2004, but hardware from that era will likely not meet the driver requirement. Plenty of marginally newer hardware will though, for example the Nvidia Geforce 600 series from late 2004, or AMD's HD2xxx series from 2006 (which back then was made by a company called ATI).
These are minimum requirements though, don't expect a particularly slick experience using them. 2GB RAM is no match for a few tabs in Chrome, whatever your operating system. Also with an old processor, a 1GHz Celeron from back in the day say, you'll be spending a lot of time twiddling your thumbs waiting for Windows to catch up with itself. It is foolhardy to compare raw frequency numbers between old and new CPUs too – multi-GHz processors have been around for 10 years and an old Athlon 4800 (2.4GHz) pales into insignificance compared to the similarly clocked Intel Core i3-370M found in many budget laptops.
When people begin to consider switching to Linux, they are often concerned about hardware compatibility. The situation here is always improving, but there remain a few unsupported devices: Some older laptop graphics chips are modified by the OEMs, so are no longer recognised by some drivers (although if you encounter such a thing the open source drivers will happily accept your bug report).
Likewise, there remain some budget peripherals such as remote controls and TV cards that lack Linux support. No doubt you will have seen people on forums complaining about dysfunctional wireless cards, but 90% of the time this is due to missing firmware (which can't be bundled with most distributions, but is available in the linux-firmware package).
New converts to Linux often make the mistake of going and manually hunting for drivers. This is almost universally a bad idea, your distribution will come with drivers for pretty much all hardware that is supported on Linux in the form of loadable kernel modules. These will be loaded automatically as soon as each bit of hardware is detected, and while they might on some occasion need some minor configuration tweaks, rare is the occasion that one would want to replace them.
It's easy to forget that driver problems on Windows arise too. Perhaps now so more than ever thanks to Windows' driver signing requirements. A motherboard will require drivers for its chipset, network interface, RAID controller, audio device and various other obscurely named platform drivers. These will be available from the manufacturer's website, alongside a poorly translated manual. But you'll need to know the precise motherboard revision or you'll risk a whole world of pain. Such downloads often run to hundreds of megabytes, due to various manufacturers' insistence upon bundling all manner of bloatware.
Linux drivers, having to undergo the scrutiny of the various subsystem maintainers (and possibly even Linus himself) are guaranteed to be as efficient and well-coded as available hardware knowledge allows.
The difference is that we've only been using the Windows install for about a week, once a few apps and a few (thousand) obscurely titled runtime libraries are installed the age-old curse of Windows decline will kick in. Our Arch install has been used pretty much every day for over a year, has all manner of long-forgotten packages installed, and remains blazing fast.
One exception used to be playing Flash videos, which rapidly crippled the system. This was easily solved by uninstalling the Flash plugin because it's entirely unnecessary nowadays and serves only as a vector for the delivery of viruses. A modern computer is required to enjoy a smooth-running Windows 10 – running it on a virtual machine proved particularly painful.
By comparison pretty much any computer built in the last ten years will happily run a lightweight desktop, such as LXQt or MATE, with no fuss whatsoever. Add to that a slightly more modern graphics card (one supporting at least OpenGL1.4 and having 128MB of video memory), and it will easily manage a standard Ubuntu install (the stated minimum requirements are 1GB RAM and a 1GHz CPU).
Newer graphics cards will tend to perform better on Windows on release, but eventually the Linux drivers catch up performance wise. They are usually available quite soon after a new graphics card launches too, for example Nvidia already provides drivers for the high-end 980 Ti and Titan X cards.
That said, Nvidia's new hardware requires signed firmware blobs to work, and at the time of writing there seems to be some paucity in providing these to the open source Nouveau project. Hopefully this will all be resolved soon. AMD on the other hand is much more friendly towards the open source Radeon driver. Not only does the company provide specifications, it actually pays people to work on it. AMD's latest innovation has been to introduce a common kernel module for both its open source and proprietary (Catalyst) driver offerings, with the latter's naughty bits annexed to a separate userspace module.
Beyond the desktop and Windows IoT
The next edition of Windows Server won't be released until next year, but there are Technical Previews available. The big new feature is in Active Directory Federation Services (ADFS) which allows users from foreign directories and databases to be authenticated by Active Directory domains. ADFS itself has been part of the OS since Windows Server 2003 R2 and enables two realms to establish mutual trust so users from one realm can use their credentials on the other in an entirely fuss-free manner.
There are already commercial solutions for authenticating Linux clients against an Active Directory domain controller, and it's possible (though convoluted) to do it using FOSS software. Active Directory uses LDAP and Kerberos which are both open standards. These need to be tied together with Samba and PAM and the domain controller will likely need tweaking also. In the new edition, this process ought to be much more streamlined.
Centralised authentication in a pure Linux environment can be achieved using the aforementioned protocols, or others such as SASL or NIS. All of these approaches have their advantages and drawbacks, and people coming from a Microsoft background may struggle to recreate the more advanced functionality of Active Directory.
It's important to note that Active Directory provides much more than just authentication, it handles all the related arcana too – trust, certificates, domains and group policies. Many of these are only relevant on Windows systems and the rest can be dealt with using other Linux tools. A common tactic in heterogeneous environments is to have non-Windows machines authenticate to a directory server running something other than AD but which is capable of syncing to and from it, a method known as deflected integration. Version 10 of Internet Information Services (IIS) is included in Windows 10, bringing with it support for HTTP/2.
Naturally, our top three Linux Webservers (Apache, nginx and lighttpd) have had support since not long after RFC7540 was published in May. And they were supporting SPDY, essentially the parent protocol of HTTP/2, prior to that. Before the 7.0 release, IIS was something of a laughing stock, being little more than a bloated web server that didn't allow more than 10 simultaneous connections.
It has grown up now though, incorporating a modular extension system and being much more scalable on multiprocessor systems. To improve performance IIS uses a kernel-level driver for processing HTTP requests. An IIS vulnerability discovered in April allowed attackers to achieve remote code execution on unpatched systems by exploiting this driver and its privileged status. Linux has had web server bugs too, but its architects know what does and does not belong in the kernel.
Linux remains the undisputed champion of the server world, which is why it runs most of the internet. We have world class web servers and databases, industrial grade distributions (such as Red Hat Enterprise Linux or the free CentOS) and the advantage of open source on our side. Linux virtual machines tend to be much cheaper than their Windows counterparts, and are certainly much more efficient thanks to its modular nature.
Windows IoT Pi Edition
Windows Server Core, introduced in 2008, provided a minimal Server OS sans the Explorer shell and many other features not required by most people. Continuing this theme, we now have Windows 10 IoT core, aimed at small Internet of Things devices. At present, builds are available for five devices including the Raspberry Pi 2.
We're pretty far from impartial here, but we think that reducing the Pi to minion status in this way seriously detracts from its appeal. Being able to boot into a proper desktop (even if it is slow and clunky on the original Pi), or run code straight from the python interpreter, helps new coders appreciate that this diminutive board is very much a fully-functional computer.
Of course, if you're a seasoned embedded applications programmer then such a desktop is just going to get in your way. There are all manner of Linux distributions designed to be run on embedded devices, including Yocto Sancto and Angstrom. It's also worth mentioning that there are already a huge number of embedded devices already running Linux in one form or another: sat-navs, set-top boxes, the TVs which the latter are hooked up to, the list goes on. The latest tux-flavoured innovation in this area is Snappy Ubuntu Core, which is aimed at the cloud as well as Things.
Developers will get HoloLens within a year, says Microsoft CEO
Eager to get your hands on one of those shiny new HoloLens augmented reality devices? In an interview with the BBC, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella says a developer launch is scheduled sometime during the next year.
As for the rest of us, it may be some time before you can click to order one on Amazon - the device is on a "five year journey" according to Nadella, and enterprise users and businesses are going to get first dibs.
Still, a developer release within 12 months is something to look forward to. Microsoft knows it needs plenty of apps and content for the HoloLens to be a success, and developers are going to be crucial to that.
The hardware will have to get more streamlined and more portable in the next 12 months, and it's not the only AR headgear that's looking to polish its act before going on sale to consumers - see also Google Glass.
Elsewhere in the interview, Nadella said Windows was "a huge milestone" for Microsoft and the industry as a whole, "the beginning of the era of more personal computing" - and that means Cortana everywhere.
HARPS-N search finds rocky planets just 21 light years away
Just a couple of weeks after NASA announced the “Earth twin” (that might not be), astronomers working at the Italian-operated HARPS-N spectrograph have turned up four exoplanets just 21 light-years distant.…
Telstra's bush broadband boxes bugged, bashed, botted
Big T slings patch at man-in-the-middle diddle.
Regional Australians could have their internet connections intercepted and data stolen through a remotely-exploitable vulnerability in a series of wireless terminals the nation's dominant telco, Telstra, deploys under its universal service obligation.…
Wire transfers of drug profits earned in US went directly to Panama banks
MIAMI, USA -- As more details emerge in Miami-Dade County, regarding a discredited undercover law enforcement operation that directly wired more than $70 million in narco-profits overseas, yet failed to arrest a single person, Panama's banks were the preferred destination of the traffickers involved.
Commentary: Belize does not have to consult anybody to build a coast guard base
Under international law, nations have the right to govern their countries and citizens in accordance with their constitutions, without the interference of other nations in their domestic affairs. For Guatemala to tell Belize that they do not have the right to establish a coast guard base on Sarstoon Island...
CASTRIES, St Lucia -- In a letter written last Tuesday to Saint Lucia’s justice minister, president of the local Bar Association Mary Juliana Charles said that on no account will the members of the Criminal Bar resume practice in the current court building unless and until it is given a clean bill of health.
Cayman Islands mid-year visitor arrivals show modest overall increase
GEORGE TOWN, Cayman Islands -- Following another consecutive record breaking year in 2014, the Cayman Islands has remained in a modest growth position year to date June 2015. Overall air arrivals for 2015 have remained steady, with year to date arrivals increasing by 1.43 percent.
Hillary Clinton may have interfered with US program against offshore banks
NEW YORK, USA -- On the heels of revelations earlier this year about questionable Clinton family activities in Haiti, the Wall Street Journal revealed last week that presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and her husband accepted cash from Swiss bank UBS, after she intervened to help it out with the IRS.
Trinidad MP charged by US with four fraud and bribery schemes
PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad -- The detailed extradition case from the United States now before the courts in Trinidad and Tobago reveals four schemes of fraud and bribery against local politician Jack Warner, who was indicted in New York on May 27 on multiple counts of racketeering, corruption...
Bahamas government and resort developer resume sparring after court hearing
NASSAU, Bahamas -- Bankrupt megaresort Baha Mar on Friday blasted the Bahamas government over its attempt to have partners from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) appointed as provisional liquidators to wind up Baha Mar, only to make what it called a “preposterous reversal” in the Supreme Court.
Commentary: Tourism Matters: Our marketing people have a mountain to climb
With Sterling reaching an eight year high against the Euro, making most European countries dramatically less expensive as holiday destinations and the Canadian dollar below 80 cents when compared with its southern neighbour, the pressure is on to make Barbados perceived as offering value-for money.