Category: Mobile Computing

Project Ara and the dream of a modular pocket computer

Google’s Project Ara is no more. The failure of Ara shouldn’t be seen as the inability to make a modular smartphone where users can replace parts (after all, Fairphone seem to be doing rather well with Fairphone 2… I just wish the team would hurry up and get Sailfish running on the Dutch handset). Ara’s cancellation feels like the realisation of Android’s commercial nature. Modular smartphones are not going to be as efficient as custom-built sealed units. The software cannot be tightly optimised around specific hardware, the modular components require connectors to a central spine, they’ll need to be larger

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Apple, the iPhone 7, and assuming Taniyama-Shimura

There’s an Apple event next week, but anyone who follows tech news online knows that already. They have also read what Apple is announcing, even though Apple has confirmed absolutely nothing about the event. And the great thing about the tech reporting industry is that everyone is cool with that. I find it curious that this attitude follows one of the great ‘I hope this is right’ moments of 20th century mathematics. In 1955, a presentation by Yutaka Taniyama and Goro Shimura proposed that every elliptic curve had a modular form. Every mathematician was confident that the Taniyama-Shimura conjecture was correct,

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Apple Can Respond When It Wants To

Early last week a design flaw with the iPhone 6 was published by iFixit and picked up by the media. To my eyes the removal of underfill in the IC board construction along with placing chips along a stressful point in the iPhone cause was causing chips to come loose from the main logic board. Apple did not explain what was happening. Then three zero-day exploits of iOS came to light that would allow an iPhone to be jailbroken and have malware installed came to the world’s attention. A n update to iOS was rolled out with the notes that it was about

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On Apple, security, the FBI, and positioning

Bruce Schneier writes in the Washington Post on the case for Apple to stand firm against the FBI demand it cracks open the protection on an iPhone 5C: The policy implications are complicated. The FBI wants to set a precedent that tech companies will assist law enforcement in breaking their users’ security, and the technology community is afraid that the precedent will limit what sorts of security features it can offer customers. The FBI sees this as a privacy vs. security debate, while the tech community sees it as a security vs. surveillance debate. Privacy versus security, plus security versus

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Kickstarter lessons from the failed Zano drone project

Crowdsourcing is still a ‘big thing’ that many people are relying on. Which means when crowd funding goes wrong it can have a big impact. For those of you following the funding merry-go-round the name of Zano will be familiar. If you haven’t heard, it was a semi-autonomous drone that you would control from your smartphone and it would follow you, avoid obstacles, and record HD video. It was a spectacular failure, burning through funds, promises, and delivery goals. Kickstarter commissioned Mark Harris to write an investigative report into the failure. It’s chock full of lessons for people running crowd funding

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Ninety-nine-one is everywhere in technology

I’ve always been aware of the 90/9/1 split in terms of creating online content (ninety percent of people consume content, nine percent will interact with content, and one percent will create content) but I’ve never looked to see how it carries over into other areas of the geekerati’s world. Thankfully Charles Arthur has. What do operating systems, browsers and search engines all have in common? It seems to be a ratio of 90:9:1 between the key players. One player dominates; then others get a minimal share. Take mobile OSs: This week the Mozilla Foundation pulled the plug on Firefox OS

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