* Posts by Robert Synnott

103 publicly visible posts • joined 12 May 2007


LYING iPhone 4S mobes claim 4G connection on 3G network

Robert Synnott

Not new for AT&T

They've had a number of HSPA+14.4 phones branded as '4G', notably the Atrix 4G.

Apple shifts Lossless Audio Codec to open source

Robert Synnott

RE: [citation needed]

They released it under Apache 2, which includes a patent grant, so no issue there.

As to processor-intensiveness, yep, ALAC is generally seen as being worse than FLAC. ALAC's main advantage over FLAC (besides being supported on all 250million iOS devices; first-party support for FLAC is pretty rare, though I think Android 4.0 will include it), is that it's a bit more tolerant of data corruption.

HTC Android handsets spew private data to ANY app

Robert Synnott

You have to root to stop this app, though...

Robert Synnott

RE: He asks mischeviously

Er, yes. This is a closed-source HTC service. It was almost certainly discovered through running netstat on a rooted device and looking for open server ports. In no way would it be any harder to find on any other Android OEM's devices or on iOS. It _might_ be harder on Blackberry and WP7 simply because netstat and equivalent tools aren't as readily available.

Foxconn churns out '150,000' iPhone 5s a day

Robert Synnott

RE: And yet

Well, yes; given that they were activating 380k per day last quarter, 150k is nothing like enough. Apple has traditionally struggles to meet demand on release. 150k a day will build up a bit of a reserve for a launch next month, but only a week or so's worth. They'll have to wait for Pegatron's production to come online to meet demand longterm.

As for pricing, same as high-end Androids. They're highly unlikely to make the 5 more expensive than the 4.

Robert Synnott

RE: Of course iPhones phone home to Apple...

So, based on your misunderstanding of how the Find My iPhone thing works, you simply assume that Apple is tracking your location?

Find My iPhone's workings are not a secret; if you were curious you could just have Googled. What happens is, all iPhones keep a constant XMPP connection open to Apple for push notifications and various other things. (Androids do the same to Google for C2DM and marketplace stuff). When you go to the website and ask it to tell you the device's location, Apple sends a message to the phone over that connection. In response, the phone activates its GPS and sends back coordinates. Apple is not receiving your phone's location on a regular basis; only when you ask them to relay it to you.

Incidentally, Google is far more likely to know an Android user's rough location than Apple is to know an iPhone user's. Google's AdMob service, the mobile advertising market leader, offers location-based advertising. This is almost never used in iPhone apps (because it causes a dialog popping up asking if the app should be given permission to access location data), but is more commonly used in Android apps, where permission to access location data is granted in the big list of permissions on installation. There's nothing particularly sinister about Google collecting this data, of course.

As for the hotel thing, well, surely a rather _unsubtle_ check-in to home base, if it was one? I've never seen this myself, but I suspect it could be that Apple provides a service to hotels to send proxy config data to client devices, or something of that nature.

Robert Synnott

HTC's much lower prices...

I'm confused; HTC's high-end devices are usually about the same price as the iPhone de Jour; on contract, some of them, notably the Thunderbolt in the US, are actually more expensive. HTC, of course, competes in the low-end market, too; they still make some ARMv6 devices, even! Apple doesn't touch this.

Amazon's cloudy vid-tablet breaks cover: Not an iClone

Robert Synnott

RE: locked down kindles

You can also put any non-DRMed book on an iPad or Android tablet, though you'll generally be using ePub, not Amazon's MOBI.

Apple after Steve Jobs is still Steve Jobs' Apple

Robert Synnott

RE: He can resign, but he'll never leave

Welcome to the Hotel Cupertino...

Coders breathe Android into dead HP fondleslab

Robert Synnott


It isn't _actually_ particularly overpowered, though. It uses two Qualcomm Scorpion cores at 1.2GHz, which you'd expect to be a _little_ slower than the 1GHz A9s used in the iPad 2 or the current crop of Android tablets (in the latter case without NEON), but it shouldn't be dramatic, and it's much faster hardware than the original iPad, which isn't exactly painfully slow.

Google failing to pay Android developers

Robert Synnott

RE: Apple pay

Almost all things like this have a payment threshold; Apple's isn't unduly high.

Intel: Apple has online app sales exactly backwards

Robert Synnott

RE: Backwards you say...

So, hmm, they're going to ban outside advertisers? Even Apple didn't dare that (it briefly put considerable restrictions on advertisers who collected personally identifying information, at the time clearly targeting Google's AdMob, but backed down). I doubt Google will be impressed.

Kit steals Mac login passwords through FireWire port

Robert Synnott

Or, of course...

Disable Firewire.

If you've a computer unattended in a physically insecure area which you're particularly worried about, then disabling any interfaces with DMA (eSATA, FireWire, some SCSI, Thunderbolt/Light Peak, PCMCIA), or at least disabling DMA on them, is probably a good idea, unless you're actually using them.

I'm actually rather surprised that DMA is (apparently) not available on Macs when no user is logged in; I'd say that's a nightmare for driver authors.

Robert Synnott

RE: Er...

Nope; that would be a rather more basic attack which works on any perhipheral interface. The issue here is that on devices with a bus-mastering interface such as Firewire, Thunderbolt/Light Peak or eSATA, an attacker can simply read the machine's memory by plugging something in; there's rarely any security here because bus-mastering was originally intended for presumed-safe internal devices (and it's unclear how such security would work, anyway).

Bottom line; if someone getting access to an important machine while on and unattended is an issue for you, disable these interfaces.

Robert Synnott

RE: Superglue

There are a number of other external bus mastering interfaces out there, notably eSATA, Thunderbolt/Light Peak, and newer PCMCIA and its successors (including Compact Flash). This is by not any means solely an Apple issue, though for the moment Apple is the only manufacturer besides Sony who generally has these sorts of ports on non-laptop devices.

Apple Mac OS X 10.7 Lion Part Two

Robert Synnott

RE: Mouse Gestures

Using only two-finger gestures on the mouse is an Apple design choice. If you use MagicPerfs or similar software, you'll find that the mouse can support at least _four_ fingers, though I can't imagine this being terribly useful. It can also tell where your fingers are, but the only useful application I've found for this is middle-click, in practice. Third party apps can also use four-finger mouse gestures, if they so wish.

Corporates love iPhone, iPad more than Android kit

Robert Synnott

RE: Which tells us one thing

Apple has an option for enterprise app deployment, which doesn't go through their approval system. For many corporates, this is a nice compromise; tell employees to go to the magic section of the app store and install the home-made app, rather than having to distribute it themselves.

Robert Synnott

RE: Don't worry, it will soon change

Hmm. You're very competitive in your tableting. What would you have done if he'd pulled out a bluetooth keyboard, committed ritual suicide?

Mole says Apple A5 chip runs too hot for iPhone

Robert Synnott

RE: Oh

No; Apple will have contracts with Samsung. If a supplier could choose to break its supply contracts with clients if the clients sued a different, unrelated part of the business, that would make the supplier essentially unsueable, and for a dominant supplier like Samsung, there'd be serious anti-trust issues.

It's not uncommon for clients to sue their suppliers, because the suppliers are often also competitors, and for various other reasons. Microsoft, back in their peak, actually attempted to make OEMs sign an agreement not to sue them for anything in exchange for Windows licensing, but I gather they ran into legal issues; the deal never went into operation.

Robert Synnott

Chip size

There've been persistent rumours that Apple will move A5 production to TSMC's 25nm process. That should reduce size a good bit.

Apple Snow Leopard update sets stage for Lion

Robert Synnott

On giant printer drivers

Unfortunately, some printer companies seem to only make their official drivers available in huge bundles. If you want a Mac driver for a HP laser printer, for instance (direct from HP, not from Apple), you have to download a 200MB package with drivers for every HP LaserJet ever. Alternatively you can get a much smaller CUPS profile and install it manually, but this is generally more likely to lack control of certain printer features.

And HP is actually _good_, as far as these things go; at least they separate out laser printers and other printers, resulting in two very big packages rather than one vast one.

iPhone 5 gets iPad 2 chip and souped-up snapper

Robert Synnott

RE: Epic Fail

"only offering minimal hardware updates."

Minimal? Hmm? I would think that the iPad upgrade was a little more than 'minimal'. It went from a single core A8 with a GPU half the speed of the Tegra 2 to a dual-core A9 with a GPU five times the speed of the Tegra 2. What would you call a major upgrade, waiting another two years and going for a quad A15?

Apple iOS 5 gets web 3D...for ads only

Robert Synnott

RE: Steven Knox

iAds don't exist in the browser. They show up in apps only, and have to be approved pre-deployment. It's highly unlikely that bad WebGL would screw up a device sufficiently that a hard reset would be needed (I don't remember ever having to hard reset an iPhone, though older iPods required it periodically), but it's entirely possible that they're unclear about the security of their WebGL renderer for now. There have been proof of concepts demonstrating the ability to do very nasty things with WebGL (generally due to flawed, or at least overly-trusting, graphics drivers.

Apple tops Microsoft market cap, revenue, and profits

Robert Synnott

RE: How about profit over revenue?

Microsoft's main sources of revenue are aging cash cows (Windows Client, Office), while Apple's are newish and under very heavy development. In addition, Apple is a hardware company, Microsoft is a software company; due to marketplace realities profit margins on hardware always have to be low-ish, as that's what the competition are doing.

Google hits 'fast forward' button on WebM codec love for YouTube

Robert Synnott

A later stage

Any later stage ditching would want to be quite a _lot_ later; most smartphones don't have hardware acceleration for WebM, and most Android phones out there today don't even support it in software.

Apple spits out increment iOS version

Robert Synnott

RE: Is it me...

It's unlikely that phone manufacturers, including Apple, care that much about jailbreaking/rooting; if they did, they'd have gone for exotic solutions from the start, whereas seriously hard to root/jailbreak devices have only turned up in the last year (ignoring the Motorola locked bootloaders, which is a slightly different issue). I suspect that it's largely telecom pressure; nothing must endanger the all-important paid tethering!

Nokia to help WinPho outsell iOS in four years

Robert Synnott

RE: So what's low end?

All current low-end phones use ARM11 processors, which are _very_ much slower than the A8s and now A9s found in high-end phones. ARM11 SoCs also tend to have mediocre GPUs, which hurts games, particularly 3D games, and GPU-accelerated UIs like those found in iOS and Android 3.0. Part of Google's stated reason for not doing GPU-accelerated UIs earlier was that they wouldn't work on old devices like the G1 and current low-end devices.

I'd say the main practical difference is that if you buy a high-end phone today, it'll be fine in two years (provided the manufacturer bothers to make updates for it available). If you buy a low-end phone, it is less likely to be so.

iPhone 4: Now with added jailbreaky fun

Robert Synnott

RE: All a bit funny

It's probably a question of intent. The vast majority of people jailbreaking their Playstation are doing so for piracy-related reasons; the vast majority (or all five, in the case of WP7) rooting/jailbreaking their phone are not.

Carrier-sold iPad 2 Sim locks snag unwary buyers

Robert Synnott

RE: wuh?

Initially, though, all iPads were sold unlocked (and indeed weren't sold by telcos at all for a few months), so there's a potential for consumer confusion.

Steve Jobs screws my wife (out of $944)

Robert Synnott


"And of course, this being Apple, I won't be able to upgrade the camera ever."

The implication being that if it was a Motorola tablet, say, you'd totally be able to pop in a new camera? What?

Samsung intros 'skinnier than iPad 2' tablets

Robert Synnott


"some apple aficionados (see I'm being nice) will complain that AMOLED is too bright and too colourful and vibrant to give accurate colour rendering."

Bright?! While you can say many things about AMOLEDs, current ones are certainly not _bright_; lower light emission than all but the worst LCDs.

Google copyright purge leaves Android developers exposed

Robert Synnott

On apps being subject to GPL

The issue would seem to be that apps link against bionic; therefore if bionic is GPL without linking exemption (which it could theoretically inherit from the alleged use of headers), then anything linking against it must be GPL. This doesn't happen on, say, Linux, because GNU libc is LGPL, not GPL.

The FSF has traditionally been keen on the idea that merely implementing an interface causes infection (as in the CLISP/readline case), but in practice most caselaw in commercial software seems to say the opposite.

App Store not invited to web's date with destiny

Robert Synnott

Learning from history

When the iPhone came out, Apple actually made the rather controversial decision not to allow apps at all, but instead to encourage web apps through bundling what was at the time an extremely sophisticated browser for a phone, providing solutions for offline usage (through supporting manifest files), adding webapps to the homescreen, and so on. It didn't work out; at one time up to 20% of people were jailbreaking their phones apparently mostly just to install apps, and within six months Apple rushed out a then rather half-baked SDK.

Steve Jobs bends iPad price reality

Robert Synnott

RE: Ah Yes, iOS Updates

Well, it was 24 months old when they made the update. But yes, they made a serious mistake there; likely rushing to get an update of any sort out. They finally fixed it with 4.2, which is somewhat faster than 3.1.2, and much faster than the hideously slow 4.0, but it was a bit of a disaster. If they're going to keep updating devices for ~2.5 years, then they need to make sure the updates actually work; otherwise it's worse than useless.

Robert Synnott

RE: What if

"Jobs is factoring in the 30% cut he gets from Ipad apps into his overall pricing strategy."

Oh, I'm sure Apple is doing so. However, at the iPad 2 event, they mentioned that they've paid out 2 billion to developers thus far, which more or less matches up with recent reports on phone app store sales (where total sales on the Apple app store were $1.7 billion last year). That makes their cut of app store revenue $855 million. Apple has sold 17 million iPads and 73 million iPhones as of the end of 2010, and about 45 million iPod Touches, so 135 million app store-using devices. So for every device they make $6 on the app store. Obviously, this may be increasing over time, and it's likely that the iPad's cut is more than the iPod Touch's per device, but it really isn't enough to make up the price differences.

Robert Synnott

Apples to Apples

"For $799, Motorola provides a Xoom with both Wi-Fi and 3G, and includes 32GB of storage space. A comparably equipped iPad goes for $729."

The problem is, though, that, certainly for the original iPad, the biggest seller was the $499 16GB wifi model, and this should be expected to become even more the case, due to increasingly common wifi tethering on phones, and the media streaming stuff built into iOS 4.3 (streaming media was always available, of course, but previously via third-party apps that the average consumer mightn't be aware of). Motorola doesn't have anything at that price point.

"If you sign up with Verizon for that Xoom with a two-year contract, you'll pay $599. For a comparably equipped iPad from Verizon, you'll pay the full $729. From AT&T, it's currently $629, and that's for the now-discounted original model"

That's without a contract, though, no? Orange in the UK will sell you a 32GB 3G iPad for 149 pounds, but you'll be tied into a 2 year contract at 27 pounds a month. I don't think that the US carriers currently offer the iPad on contract, but it's unreasonable to compare a month-to-month or pre-paid plan with unsubsidized device to a two year contract with subsidised device.

"Should you want more storage space in your iPad than 32GB, you'd have to move up to the $829 64GB model – a $100 premium. Should you want to upgrade your Xoom's storage space, on the other hand, you could simply slip a 32GB card into its microSD slot – and that 32GB would set you back about $65"

Not currently, you can't. At this time, the microSD slot in the Xoom cannot be used; this will be amended with a software update at an unspecified point in the future. By the way, the obvious reason one might want lots of storage on a tablet is for playback of high-def media; the $65 microSD you're talking about is almost certainly a Class 2, which means that it has 2MB/sec write speed and an unspecified but generally low read speed, and which might struggle with HD media. For a class 8 or 10 32GB microSD, you're looking at more like $100, rising to $150 or $200 for a big brandname like SanDisk.

"We'll leave it to you, Reg reader, to divine Jobs' intent, but when comparing pricing, we advise that it's always best to compare, shall we say, apples to apples."

Indeed. So perhaps best not compare subsidised price to unsubsidised price, then.

Microsoft: 'No one cares about Google's dev cloud'

Robert Synnott

Tiny numbers

Okay, so half the Internet seems to be on AWS, and a few sites use App Engine... but who uses Azure, exactly? I can't think of a single example. I wonder are Google's tiny, almost non-existent numbers bigger than Microsoft's ones?

IT job seekers can't smell spell

Robert Synnott


Weeds out lucky people, surely? :) Nothing worse than wasting time interviewing with companies run by mad people.

Motorola 'flagship' Honeycomb tablet to ship sans Flash

Robert Synnott

Looks like Apple may have been dead right

One of the reasons that Apple gave for not supporting Flash was that it would leave them at Adobe's mercy for updates. I assume the issue here is that Flash for Android 3.0 isn't ready yet. While this is borderline tolerable on Android, where users do not usually expect or get timely OS updates, it would clearly be unacceptable on iOS, where users generally get the update a few hours after it comes out. Imagine if Apple had to hold back iOS 5 by six months because Adobe was dragging its heels on Flash!

Nvidia four-core chip to power quad-res Apple iPad

Robert Synnott


I'm sceptical that Apple would go with this; first, it would almost certainly drive up the price, which is precisely what Apple doesn't want to be doing right now; second, the Tegra 2 and 3 lack NEON (ARM gives implementors of A9s a choice between NEON or a fancy FPU), which is present in current iDevice chips, is used by developers, and will be present in OMAP's dual-core part and probably Samsung's.

On the matter of rebadging, by the way, the situation with Samsung is a bit special. Intrinsity, which is now owned by Apple, collaborated with Samsung on the 1GHz A8 core used in the Hummingbird and A4 (the only apparent difference between these two is the GPU). At the time this work was done, normal A8s were around the 600MHz mark; the Qualcomm Snapdragon does _not_ use an A8, but rather a custom ARMv7 design of Qualcomm's own devising. As Intrinsity was part of Apple by the time the iPad, the first Hummingbird/A4 user, launched, it's not at all surprising they could swing this branding. There's no way they could do the same with Tegra, but they mightn't necessarily care; previous iPhones used Samsung and TI-branded SoCs.

Apple iOS app hunger swells

Robert Synnott


An hour a day? An _hour_ a day? Unless you're customer support or something, I would have thought that an hour of email a day, on a phone, was severe overkill.

> "Messages (SMS) can be used when data roaming switched off"

Er, of course they can be. They don't come under the head of mobile data and are not treated as such by telecoms. As far as I know, no phone disables SMS when in data roaming mode.

RIM opens its PlayBook – tablets clearly set for dominance

Robert Synnott

RE: Replace PCs

> Can the iPad print to a regular printer?

In the latest 4.2 betas, yes. General public gets it in November.

> Does Adobe Photoshop run on any tablet? Does any tablet recognize and install drivers for any M-Audio audio interface devices? Does any tablet run Pro-Tools?

No, of course not.

The claim is not made that tablets will replace all PCs, but that they will replace _some_ PCs. In particular, they may replace PCs in normal consumer applications (web browsing, facebook/twitter, basic word processing and spreadsheets (Pages and Numbers for iPad cover most normal-person needs), IM etc etc etc), but they will certainly not replace PCs for, say, most multimedia production, or any development. Not in the short term, anyway; it's becoming increasingly clear that desktop OSes on tablets are not a sensible option (see any review of any Windows 7 tablet), and obviously it'll take time for such things to be ported to iOS or Android, and will be demand-dependent.

> those of us who need a real computer to do content creation (not just content consumption).

The point is that the only 'content creation' that a normal person does involves basic productivity tools (wordprocessors, etc) and posting to Twitter or whatever; a tablet can handle these with ease. With the exception of charting and music mixing software (don't ask me why it's these two...) there's little sign of any more specialised productivity software coming to tablets in any meaningful way just yet, and of course tablets are inherently unsuited for some things, like development, for the forseeable future; one day we will see an IDE with a sensible touch interface, no doubt, but it's a long way off right now and will take a lot of work.

Robert Synnott

RE: Ahhh, but

> What is it's battery life? This is he difference between iPad and all the wanna be's.......

Given the deafening silence on the matter from RiM, Samsung, et al, I'm going to go out on a limb and say that Apple still has an edge in the battery life department for this tablet generation...

Robert Synnott

Adobe Air as major development option?

I assume RIM's business model is now based on the hope that Adobe will make Air less staggeringly crap in the next six months, then. Sounds optimistic.

LG touts 'surprisingly productive' iPad killer

Robert Synnott

Differentiating from Apple

"You sell a (fairly precise) multitouch tablet for ~$400-500 that can either interface with DAW software (and act as a "mixer" frontend) or is useful as a DAW in its own right and you'd sell them like hotcakes." - So, erm... an iPad, then.

Beeb deploys ISS as unit of measurement

Robert Synnott

They've had better

For instance, one of the experimental devices in CERN was referred to as being 'roughly the size of a mansion', and Britain eats enough crisps to fill a telephone box every three seconds.

And then there was Calder Hall 1, the world's first nuclear plant, which was described as having had produced enough electricity to run a single-bar electric fire for 3 billion years, or something.

Vodafone won't act on customers' HTC Desires

Robert Synnott

Its no problem, if Vodafone don't do something I will just debrand it myself.

It's no problem, if Apple don't do something I will just jailbreak it myself.

I suspect, though, that Apple is rather less likely to release an update which adds bookmarks for naughty websites and breaks SMS...

IE9's Acid, speed and HTML5 trip to land lost surfers

Robert Synnott
Jobs Halo

Safari 4?

As in the one that's been obsolete since before Chrome 5 was? Why not Safari 5?

First among SQLs

Robert Synnott

RE: Acro-nots

Ah, yes, but you see, they both originated in the dark days before the invention of lower-case letters.

Apple opens SMS door for third parties

Robert Synnott


So, instead of giving 30% to Apple, one can just give about 60 or 70% to a dodgy premium text operator who will then take half an hour to notify the app that the purchase has gone through? Sounds like an excellent idea.