Android Nougat Now Running on 15.8 Percent of Active Devices, Oreo Not on Chart: Google

While all the news this week is revolving around Apple and the buzz it created around the iPhone X, iPhone 8, and iPhone 8 Plus, Google has released its Android platform distribution chart for the month of September. The chart shows that Android Nougat continuing to gain market share, with its presence now on almost 15.8 percent active devices. However, the latest Android Oreo version could not find its place in the chart for the same month – notably, Android versions with less than 0.1 percent share of active devices aren’t listed, implying Oreo is currently on fewer than those many devices.

In June this year, the Android Nougat version was found running on 10 percent of active devices. Then in July and August, Android Nougat reached 10.6 percent and 13.5 percent respectively. The total share of Android Nougat for September has now hit 15.8 percent, which includes 12.3 percent of devices on the Android 7.0 Nougat version and 1.2 percent of devices on Android 7.1 Nougat.

The new statistics show that Android Marshmallow continues to dominate with up to 32.2 percent share. The distribution share for Android Marshmallow has declined, but fell just 0.1 percent from the last month’s number that stood at 32.3 percent.

In addition to Android Marshmallow, all other Android versions have also declined. These builds include Android Gingerbread (at 0.6 percent share) and Ice Cream Sandwich (with 0.6 percent share) – which both fell 0.1 percent. Jelly Bean at 6.9 percent share, fell 0.7 percent. KitKat, currently at 15.1 percent share, fell 0.9 percent, while Lollipop, with a share of 28.8 percent, fell 0.4 percent.

Google says that this data has been collected during a 7-day period that concluded on September 11, and Android builds with less than 0.1 percent share have been excluded. It should also be kept in mind that Google takes only those Android devices into account that support Google Play (which itself supports Android 2.2 and above).

Google’s latest version Android Oreo officially rolled out to Pixel and Nexus devices a few days ago and it will take more than a month to get itself a substantial share in the Android platform distribution chart, as per recent trends.

The distribution chart also goes on to mention the OpenGL ES distribution amongst the active devices. While the latest OpenGL versions are not there in the chart, a major portion is dominated by OpenGL version 3.0 – standing at 45.8 percent, rising 0.2 percent. The other two versions in the chart are OpenGL 2.0 with 37.3 percent share (declining 0.3 percent) and OpenGL 3.1 with 16.9 percent distribution share (rising 0.1 percent). Note that support for a certain version means that it also supports any lower versions of OpenGL API, Google says in its developers blog post.

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Switch Has Difficulty Running Final Fantasy XV’s Luminous Engine

Final Fantasy XV has been a significant success for Square Enix, after spending years in development, and the publisher has recently discussed plans to continue playing within that world. Early comments led some to believe a port of Final Fantasy XV might even come to Nintendo Switch, but it sounds like the hardware’s difficulty running the game’s proprietary engine could prove prohibitive.

Hajime Tabata, the game’s developer, first gave fans hope a Switch version might happen when he spoke on Twitch during Gamescom 2017. “There’s another certain console out there that you may be thinking of,” he said at the time. “It sounds a little bit like your name, Twitch.”

Some fans interpreted this comment to be a reference to the Nintendo Switch, which Tabata’s team apparently loves. The problem is that the Luminous Engine on which Final Fantasy XV is built is proprietary. Although the Switch was designed to facilitate easy ports from mainstream engines such as Unity and Unreal, the same cannot necessarily be said of in-house engines.

In an interview at PAX West, Jordan Loeffler of DualShockers asked Tabata to expand on his earlier comments, which led to less cheerful news. He revealed that his team has found it can’t “bring out the most of the engine” on Switch. This probably shouldn’t come as a huge surprise, since Switch hardware is less powerful than the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One consoles, but it does mean a Switch version would at the very least require a lot of cut corners.

DualShockers notes that Tabata and the team ran tests with other engines, including Unity and Unreal Engine 4, and “noticed that those ran well on Switch.” It’s possible the team will consider converting the game so it runs on one of those engines, or they may instead look into porting the recently announced Final Fantasy XV Pocket Edition (see the trailer embedded above). Such a project could require considerably less work and yield results more in line with what the team wants.

What do you think? Should Square Enix try to develop a Final Fantasy XV port for Switch that comes as close as possible to matching the original experience, or is a unique twist that’s optimized for Nintendo Switch better for everyone?

Nokia 8 Spotted Running Android 8.0.0, Nokia 2 Photos Leaked

The Nokia 8 is set to launch in a few weeks, and even though almost everything has been leaked, new information keeps surfacing every day. A new GeekBench listing has popped up indicating an interesting development. According to the listing, the Nokia 8 may just be the first – or at least, among the first – device running on Android 8.0. This may also be reason the company has chosen the ‘8’ moniker. Furthermore, the Nokia 2 smartphone has been spotted online again, this time showing the front and back of the smartphone.

Starting with the flagship, the Nokia 8 disguised under the codename ‘Unknown Heart’ was spotted on GeekBench again. The listing states that the Nokia 8 will be powered by the Snapdragon 835 chipset paired with 4GB of RAM. Interestingly, it is seen running on Android 8.0.0, the first smartphone to have been spotted with this specification on a benchmark site. While this could just be a test version, we can’t help but be excited about the prospect of the Nokia 8 being the first smartphone running on Android 8.0.0. While the smartphone may be launched with Android 7.1.1 Nougat, HMD Global could very well confirm the arrival of the major update first on the Nokia 8 when it arrives. Last year, the LG V20 was the first smartphone to get Android 7.0 Nougat running out of the box, and HMD Global could be the lucky one this time around.

Last year, the compatible Nexus smartphones got it first as an OTA update, and then the V20 was launched with the version out of the box. Similar things could happen this year, or may be we are just going ahead of ourselves, and this listing could just be a test for a fall update, and nothing else. Google appears to have been favouring Nokia recently what with the Nokia 6 receiving the July security patch ahead of Pixel devices as well. HMD Global has, time and again, proved that it keeps software on top priority, and this Android 8.0.0 could just be another feather in its hat.

Separately, the entry-level Nokia 2, which is also expected to launch alongside the Nokia 8, has been leaked on social site Baidu (shared on SlashLeaks). The image shows the front and back of the smartphone, and the camera capsule is seen at the back centre, while the speaker grille resides at the rear bottom as well. The front has no home button, so presumably the smartphone won’t have fingerprint scanning capabilities. It is expected to sport on-screen navigation buttons. As for specifications, the Nokia 2 is expected to sport a 4.5-inch HD (720×1280 pixels) display, a Snapdragon 212 processor, 8GB internal memory, 8-megapixel rear camera, 5-megapixel front camera, and run on Android 7.1 Nougat out of the box. The Nokia 8 and Nokia 2 are expected to launch on August 16 at an event in London.

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What I learned running the Mac High Sierra beta

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My MacBook — my coffee shop-and-travel machine — is not used for heavy lifting. Its main use is keystroke capture as I write several thousand words each week.

For writing, I mostly use text editors or applications, like Notational Velocity, which incorporate a text editor. Take it as a given that an OS that hosed text editing would not be released, because developers all use text editors.

Bottom line: I’m not risking much when I install beta software on my MacBook. If you only have one machine, running a beta OS is a bad idea.

Bugs in the High Sierra beta

After installing the beta, I tried opening apps that have encountered problems in the past, such as Final Cut Pro. When Sierra came out, my copy of FCP would not startup until the .3 version of macOS.

So, I started FCP, Motion, Compressor, audio editors, transcoding apps, several media players, Steam, and Parallels Desktop, which runs virtual machines. They all worked. Joy!

But all is not well in beta land. I’ve found a number of things that didn’t work or, in beta-speak, “exhibited unexpected behavior.”

These include:

  • Third-party disk health utilities offer error messages due to the new APFS file system. When will they get updated to High Sierra? How much will they cost? And will they even be needed?
  • Drag and drop doesn’t work. However, copy and paste works very quickly, as APFS promised even with gigabyte files.
  • Hot corners didn’t work in beta 2, but it started working in beta 3.
  • Some utilities, such as Little Snitch, don’t work.
  • A favorite utility, Bartender, can’t include Apple menu bar items because of macOS changes.

On the plus side

The install process, which includes converting the old HFS+ file system to Apple’s new APFS file system, didn’t seem to take much longer than any other macOS install. I run FileVault, and as advertised, the install also converted that to APFS without decrypting the data.

Apple’s Disk Utility works fine with APFS as well. Time Machine is also supported.

The Storage Bits take

All in all, I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how well the High Sierra betas function. That said, I’m not putting them on my Retina iMac. I’ll wait for the official High Sierra release.

My main takeaway is that High Sierra is shaping up to be a solid release, more solid than I found Sierra to be.

However, it is in the nature of bugs that with every 10x of installs, new bugs are found. When the installs go from — I’m guessing — a hundred thousand or so beta installs to 10 million Macs, more bugs will be found.

Which means that, as with any major OS upgrade, from Apple or anyone else, if a stable machine is critical to your survival, you’d be wise to wait for the 10.13.1 release of High Sierra.

Courteous comments welcome, of course.

Fortnite Running Better on Xbox One than PS4 and PS4 Pro

by Matthew Hayes

People are going crazy for Fortnite. This build-your-own-fortress survival game will be free to play next year, but over half a million of you have already dished out at least $40 to play this thing in early access on Xbox One, PS4, and PC. Since the game is now running on PS4 and Xbox One, a graphics and performance comparison was inevitable — leave that to Digital Foundry.

As usual, and like you’d expect, the game targets 1080p on PS4 30fps on PS4, and 900p 30fps on Xbox One. That’s kind of the standard for a lot of demanding multi-platform games by now, right? What you might not expect is for the Xbox One version to perform better than the PS4 version.

According to Digital Foundry, Fortnite runs much better on the Xbox One than it does on the PS4, or even the PS4 Pro! It all comes down frame rate, frame pacing, and stuttering. Things get mighty choppy once enemies start filling the screen, and even when things are calmer and everything is running at 30 fps as intended, the wonky frame pacing makes everything feel jerky and jittery.

“Next up, there’s the PS4 Pro version of the game, which sticks more closely to its target 30fps frame-rate with only minor deviations, though the occasional 100ms stutter still kicks in. We do wonder whether this is perhaps related to netcode functions bearing in mind that the stutter can occur at any moment, regardless of what’s happening on-screen. These 100ms spikes also happen on Xbox One, but the overall outlook for Microsoft’s console is bolstered by perfectly implemented 33ms frame-pacing, giving a more consistent look, plus a performance level that’s very close to the PS4 Pro release overall.”

Pretty impressive! Of course, PC is still the place to be if you’re looking for optimum performance, but you didn’t need us to tell you that, that’s what all of your PC gaming friends are for! Keep in mind that this game is still very much in early access, and performance now is not necessarily indicative of what it will be when the game officially launches next year. Still, it’s an early and satisfying win for Xbox One gamers.


How to get Samsung Flow up and running


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Earlier this year, Samsung announced its Flow app would soon expand beyond Samsung PC’s and would work with any Windows 10 device. The service extends the Galaxy phone or tablet experience to the PC, making it possible to share files, view notifications, and more between the devices.

If you own a Galaxy phone or tablet and find yourself wishing it integrated better with your Windows 10 PC, you’re in luck. Here’s what you need to do to get Samsung Flow up and running.

Requirements

  • A Windows 10 PC with the Creators Update installed. Not sure if your device has the Creators Update? Read this
  • A Samsung Galaxy phone running Android Marshmallow or newer. (Galaxy S8, S8+, S7, S7 Edge, S6, S6 Edge, S6 Edge+, Note 5, A5, and A7 is officially listed on the Samsung Flow listing.)
  • Samsung Galaxy tablets must be running Android Nougat or newer. (Galaxy TabPro S, Galaxy Book, for example)

Get the software

If you have a compatible device, you’ll need to install a couple of apps. Download Samsung Flow from the Windows Store, then install Samsung Flow from the Google Play store on your Android device. 

The first time you run the Flow app on your Windows device, a prompt will instruct you to install the Samsung Flow Driver. Clock Download and follow the prompts.

Connect all the things

connect-samsung-flow-devices

 Samsung Flow app on Windows 10 during setup process. 


Screenshots by Jason Cipriani/CNET

With the Samsung Flow apps installed on your PC and phone or tablet, it’s time to get the two devices talking to one another.

Open Samsung Flow on both devices, then click Pair in the Windows app. Using Bluetooth, your PC will look for an available Galaxy device with Samsung Flow running.

After a few seconds, you should see your device show up on the bottom portion of the Flow app on your PC. Select your device, click Pair and then verify the pairing code on both devices. You may be presented with a button titled Register device; click on it, and follow the prompts if so. 

Now what?

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Left: Shared file history between Samsung Flow devices. Right: Settings for Samsung Flow on a Galaxy phone. 


Screenshots by Jason Cipriani/CNET

With Samsung Flow set up and working, you can view notifications sent to your Android device on your PC, reply to text messages from your PC, share files between the two devices (select Samsung Flow as the sharing app on your Android device), or, more conveniently, your PC will now auto-unlock when you’re nearby with your phone or tablet unlocked.

Alerts and notifications will show up as native Windows 10 alerts in the Action Center.  

You will need to enable the Simple Unlock feature on your mobile device in the Settings section. With it enabled, you only need to unlock your phone and wake your PC to skip having to enter a password or PIN on your PC. It’s kind of magical. 

SpaceX’s LEOS Plan Running Into Opposition

HAWTHORNE, Calif. — SpaceX’s plan to provide global broadband internet access using thousands of satellites in low-earth orbit has come under fire from competitors, including Boeing and OneWeb. (We previously covered both companies’ plans in Radio magazine Today, here and here.)

A SpaceX satellite coverage scheme described in a patent application envisions two sets of satellites orbiting in different inclinations at different altitudes, according to geekwire.com.

SpaceX is requesting a temporary waiver from the FCC’s time limits for putting the satellite system into full operation. The FCC would typically require the system to provide full coverage of U.S. territory within six years of a license being issued, but SpaceX says that’s not enough time to deploy the full 4,425-satellite constellation. Instead, the company proposes launching the first 1,600 satellites over six years, which would leave the northernmost part of Alaska without coverage when the deadline hits. Full U.S. coverage would be provided after the six-year deadline.

SpaceX’s competitors are urging the FCC not to waive the six-year requirement, and are calling for further study to make sure SpaceX’s satellites won’t interfere with their own. The FCC recently granted OneWeb regulatory approval to operate in the United States — and said that 11 other applicants were planning low-Earth-orbit constellations to provide broadband internet service — including SES/O3b, Intelsat, Boeing, ViaSat, Telesat, Audacy, Karousel LLC, Space Norway, Theia Holdings and LeoSat, according to the same article.

Both SpaceX and OneWeb have said they intend to start getting their satellites launched within the next year or so, with the first phase of operations due to begin in 2019.

 

Cult of Mac Magazine: Best Apple Watch Running App, Everything new with Siri, and more!

We’ve got a jam-packed issue this week including a rundown of six running apps for Apple Watch. See which one comes out on top!

In this week’s issue of Cult of Mac Magazine, you’ll find that story and more. Get the latest on iPhone 8’s Touch ID. Find out everything new with Siri in iOS 11 update. And discover five apps that keep you safe while traveling. Get your free subscription to Cult of Mac Magazine from iTunes. Or read on for this week’s top stories.

Cult of Mac Magazine, Issue 202

running appWhat’s the best Apple Watch running app?
Over the past three months, I’ve run more than a thousand kilometers testing these apps in real-world running conditions, and now it’s time to reveal which one earns pride of place on my sweaty wrist.

 

xperiaiPhone 8’s Touch ID could have a surprising new home
We’re all wondering where Apple will place Touch ID on the iPhone 8, with the physical Home button set to disappear in favor of a larger display.

 

siriEverything new with Siri in iOS 11
Siri often gets dinged for being stupid, but significant upgrades in iOS 11 and macOS High Sierra make Apple’s AI assistant smarter than ever. Here’s a brief look at everything new with Siri in iOS 11.

 



iphone travel

Change these settings to save data when you travel
Today on Tech Travel Tips, we’ll look at ways to stop your iPhone and iPad from using up all your data in the first few days of your vacation.

travel apps5 apps that keep you safe while traveling
Using public Wi-Fi is just about the worst thing you can do with your devices when you travel. Fortunately, there are ways to protect yourself — and they’re cheap and easy.

 

 

ios 10iOS 10.3.3 update eliminates serious Wi-Fi vulnerability
This release fixes a serious vulnerability in the Wi-Fi chips used in iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch, which allows an attacker to remotely take control of your device over a wireless network.

 

hackingApple issues security updates for all devices
Apple issued a laundry list of updates on most of its operating systems to resolve what appears to be security soft spots.

 

 

 

tech travel tips

Tips to help you relive your great vacation
We share our photos with friends and family while we’re still on the beach, then forget about them. But we can, and probably should, make a little effort to preserve our vacation memories. And — you guessed it — there are apps for that.


double tour
Customization is key with tailor-made bands
The Double Tour and all of OleksynPrannyk’s bands are completely customizable. Best yet, the entire collection is available now in Cult of Mac’s Watch Store. You will love this band.

 

 

 

 


fader dronePerform fun special ops with this sleek minidrone
Drones are awesome. However, they can also be big, complicated and expensive. The Fader Stealth Drone proves they can also be small, sleek and simple to use.

 

cultcast
Why Apple’s making an iPhone Pro
This week on The CultCast: Why Apple’s making an iPhone Pro, a tech-packed cutting-edge phone that will showcase what Cupertino is capable of. Plus: Genius Bar jackpot.

 

IBM Launches Z Mainframe With Encryption Running in Background

Today’s topics include IBM announcing that its Z mainframe will run universal encryption in the background; Samsung ratcheting up production of high-end DRAM; Microsoft releasing its new LinkedIn app for Windows 10 PCs; and luxury smartphone maker Vertu shutting its doors after 19 years.

IBM announced July 17 that its new IBM Z mainframe will be able to encrypt all the data in an enterprise all the time—and without users even knowing that the documents they are accessing and sharing are encrypted. It’s literally pervasive encryption.

Big Blue said this newest mainframe is the most significant system overhaul in more than 15 years. It was designed with input from 150 clients who cited data breaches and encryption as their biggest challenges and concerns.

Encryption has always been expensive and takes a lot of computing cycles to encrypt small chunks of data at a time, so a lot of time and power is always required. Not so with this new IBM system, which is automated and works quietly in the background.

The growing need for applications of all kinds that use artificial intelligence or machine learning is sending alarms to foundational IT product suppliers. Samsung, the world’s largest producer of advanced memory silicon hardware, on July 17 announced that it is increasing production volume of its 8GB High Bandwidth Memory-2 dynamic memory to meet this need.

The high-end solid-state memory is used for a range of applications that include not only artificial intelligence but also high-performance computing, advanced graphics, network systems and enterprise servers.

In anticipating the upswing in demand, Samsung said it believes that its volume production of the 8GB HBM2 will cover more than 50 percent of its HBM2 production by the first half of next year.

One way that LinkedIn users keep tabs on industry trends, their competition and their colleagues is to keep a browser tab open that points to LinkedIn.com during their web-browsing sessions. Now, Microsoft is offering an alternative for Windows 10 users seeking a more seamless experience between the popular social network and the desktop operating system.

With this week’s release of the LinkedIn app for Windows 10, users can get updates delivered directly to the Action Center, the operating system’s built-in notifications hub.

“With Windows 10 Action Center, LinkedIn for Windows 10 delivers real-time professional updates, including new messages, insights on who’s viewed your profile, trending news in your industry and other timely highlights on your professional network,” said LinkedIn Product Manager Hermes Alvarez in a July 17 announcement.

Vertu, a British company that has been designing and selling high-end luxury smartphones starting at nearly $7,000 for more than a decade, is being liquidated after failing to sell enough high-priced phones to pay its bills.

The demise of Vertu was revealed in a July 13 story by BBC.com, after it was bought by Hakan Uzan, a Turkish exile in Paris, in March, who was unable to turn the company around. Uzan is retaining the Vertu brand, technology and licenses after the liquidation.

The Vertu phenomenon began with the company’s original Vertu Signature luxury phones more than a decade ago. The Signature models were available in more than 25 variants using stainless steel, zirconium and other materials, starting at $16,150.