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Google will implement a Microsoft-style browser picker for EU Android devices

Ars Technica - March 20, 2019 - 2:16pm

European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager during one of the Google antitrust announcements. (credit: John Thys/AFP/Getty Images)

Back in 2009, the EU's European Commission said Microsoft was harming competition by bundling its browser—Internet Explorer—with Windows. Eventually Microsoft and the European Commission settled on the "browser ballot," a screen that would pop up and give users a choice of browsers. Almost 10 years later, the tech industry is going through this again, this time with Google and the EU. After receiving "feedback" from the European Commission, Google announced last night that it would offer Android users in the EU a choice of browsers and search engines.

In July, the European Commission found Google had violated the EU's antitrust rules by bundling Google Chrome and Google Search with Android, punishing manufacturers that shipped Android forks, and paying manufacturers for exclusively pre-installing Google Search. Google was fined a whopping $5.05 billion (€4.34 billion) (which is it appealing) and then the concessions started. Google said its bundling of Search and Chrome funded the development and free distribution of Android, so any manufacturer looking to ship Android with unbundled Google apps would now be charged a fee. Reports later pegged this amount as up to $40 per handset.

This was how Microsoft did a Windows browser ballot back in 2010. (credit: Peter Bright)

Android is a free and open source operating system, so Google's control over Android is derived from the Google apps. Anyone can take the core Android package and distribute it without Google's involvement, but if they want access to the millions of apps on the Google Play Store, they will need to get a license from Google. It's the same story with killer apps like Google Maps, Search, Gmail, and YouTube. Android is free (as in speech); the Google apps are not. Previously, shipping Android without the Google apps—"forking" Android—would mean expulsion from the Google ecosystem. Google was forced to lift this restriction as part of the EU concessions, and now manufacturers can simultaneously ship forked Android and Google Android on different devices.

Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Microsoft angers ex-Windows boss: Halting Office 365 sync on his new iPhone is 'crazy'

ZDnet Blogs - March 20, 2019 - 1:59pm
An apparent test at Microsoft to boost Outlook app installs has really riled former Windows chief Steven Sinofsky.
Categories: Opinion

Hardware is hard: The tech products that fooled or failed us

ZDnet Blogs - March 20, 2019 - 1:52pm
The tech history books are littered with the corpses of products that died on the vine. But there's a special sort of gadget or technology that on the face of it looks like it has what it takes to take the world by storm, only to fall flat on its face.
Categories: Opinion

Fake news: The tech products that fooled or failed us

ZDnet Blogs - March 20, 2019 - 1:52pm
The tech history books are littered with the corpses of products that died on the vine. But there's a special sort of gadget or technology that on the face of it looks like it has what it takes to take the world by storm, only to fall flat on its face.
Categories: Opinion

More mid-range Google Pixel rumors include updated specs, OLED display

Ars Technica - March 20, 2019 - 1:30pm

It's amazing that, despite originally hitting the rumor mill almost a full year ago and putting out pictures four months ago, Google's mid-range Pixel phone is still the subject of rumors. The latest report comes from 9to5Google, which has a new round of specs.

Just like with the flagship lineup, there are two phone sizes in Google's supposedly-launching-someday mid-range lineup. What exactly these devices will be called is still up in the air. These devices have had the codename "Bonito" and "Sargo," and the rumor mill has referred to the consumer names as "Pixel 3 Lite" and "Pixel 3 XL Lite" in the past. As discovered by XDA, though, the recent Android Q Beta is calling Bonito and Sargo the "Pixel 3a" and "Pixel 3a XL." The names are not quite as bad as "LG V50 ThinQ 5G." But they're still pretty wordy.

9to5Google says the smaller "Pixel 3a" has a 2220×1080 5.6-inch screen, while the bigger "Pixel 3a XL" has a 6-inch screen of unspecified resolution. One important bit of news is that the site claims the display technology is actually OLED instead of the LCD tech that previous rumors have claimed. The report says the Pixel 3a has a Snapdragon 670, 4GB of RAM, a 3000mAh battery, a USB-C port, and again reiterates that the camera is identical to the industry-leading camera on the premium Pixels. The Pixel 3a XL likely has similar specs, of course with a bigger battery.

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Guidemaster: The best Windows ultrabooks you can buy right now

Ars Technica - March 20, 2019 - 1:00pm

Enlarge (credit: Valentina Palladino)

Buyers looking for premium Windows laptops today have plenty of choices; every few months sees some splashy launch of a new high-end PC. Ultrabooks have become the standard design for most premium Windows laptops, and they represent the best of what companies like Acer, Asus, Dell, HP, Lenovo, and Microsoft have to offer in terms of design, power, and innovation.

If you're looking for a thin-and-light laptop that's still powerful enough to handle work and play with ease—and doesn't run macOS—a Windows ultrabook is what you want. But not all ultrabooks are created equal. That's why Ars has tested some of the most popular Windows laptops to see which are worthy for consideration as your next high-end notebook.

Note: Ars Technica may earn compensation for sales from links on this post through affiliate programs.

Read 54 remaining paragraphs | Comments

People brought food from all over Britain to feast near Stonehenge

Ars Technica - March 20, 2019 - 12:30pm

Enlarge / Feasts at nearby Durrington Walls drew attendees from all over Britain. (credit: Stefan Kühn / Wikimedia)

The remnants of prehistoric monuments still dot the modern British landscape. Around 4,500 years ago, people gathered at these sites or in nearby communities for annual winter feasts where the main delicacy on the menu was pork. Chemical analysis of the pig bones left behind after feasts at four major henge sites in southern Britain reveals a surprisingly far-flung network of Neolithic travel.

This little piggy went to Stonehenge...

Mount Pleasant Henge is a stone circle about 70km (44 miles) southwest of Stonehenge, near the coast of the English Channel. West Kennet Palisaded Enclosures is a set of circular ditches and palisades near the famous stone circle at Avebury, about 39km (24 miles) north of Stonehenge, while Marden Henge, between Avebury and Stonehenge, is a 14-hectare site surrounded by ditches and embankments that once held its own circle of standing stones. Durrington Walls, a large settlement (which eventually built its own stone circle) just 3km (1.86 miles) northeast of Stonehenge, was closely linked with the iconic monument itself.

"Stonehenge is for the dead, Durrington Walls for the living: the place of the builders of Stonehenge and the places of Stonehenge's feasts," archaeologist Richard Madgwick of Cardiff University told Ars Technica. Archaeologists have unearthed the remains of ancient feasting at all four sites: broken ceramics, discarded stone tools, and the bones of butchered pigs. Those 4,500-year-old leftovers suggest that these sites were hubs linking a Neolithic social network that connected far-flung communities from Scotland to Wales.

Read 14 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Google tweaks search after EU competition scrutiny

BBC Technology News - March 20, 2019 - 11:56am
Rival companies' price comparison results will be displayed more prominently thanks to the changes.

Ars Technica is hiring an experienced reporter

Ars Technica - March 20, 2019 - 11:30am

Enlarge (credit: Aurich Lawson / Getty Images)

Ars Technica is looking for an experienced reporter—a true journalistic hustler who will work the (literal and metaphorical) phones to bring our readers fresh, hot news about the interaction between technology and society.

What do we mean by "technology and society"? We mean stories about the growing political and cultural "Big Tech backlash," copyright clashes, the culture of Silicon Valley firms, tech-policy battles, and important tech-related court cases—not a review of the science in the latest sci-fi blockbuster.

We're looking for someone "experienced to senior" (at least 3 years of quality reporting experience) who already knows what we mean by an "Ars story."

Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

San Francisco moves to ban e-cigarettes until health effects known

BBC Technology News - March 20, 2019 - 10:37am
The law would halt sales until vaping's health effects are fully evaluated by US regulators.

Tokyo 2020: Robots to feature at Olympic and Paralympic Games

BBC Technology News - March 20, 2019 - 10:27am
The Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games are set to revolutionise the way spectators experience sporting events - by introducing robots

£36 iPhone XR ad criticised

BBC Technology News - March 20, 2019 - 9:12am
Advertising body criticises a Black Friday promotion for iPhones, following complaints from the public.

The Most Powerful iMac Pro Now Costs $15,927

Slashdot - March 20, 2019 - 8:15am
Categories: Geek, Opinion

PayPal urged to block essay firm cheats

BBC Technology News - March 20, 2019 - 3:11am
Ministers call for payments companies to block essay writing firms, in a bid to beat university cheats.

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