Thurrott Daily: December 18

Thurrott Daily: December 18
Typical weekend at stately Thurrott Manor.

Tech tidbits from around the web.

12/18/2016 10:38:23 AM

Microsoft and Mobile World Congress … Not that big, sorry

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I’m seeing some news reports popping up about potentially exciting Microsoft developments at Mobile World Congress in February, including some rather sad ones I will not link to that suggest—or even overtly state—that we can expect a Surface phone announcement at the event. That is not happening. The site referred below is simply the same thing Microsoft has done at MWC each of the past few years, and they are not actually a major part of the show. Point being, you might want to temper your excitement: I’d be surprised if they event provided an update on Windows 10 on ARM, to be honest. Anyway. Here’s how Neowin is reporting it. They take a more measured approach to this than some, which is smart.

As the mysterious Walking Cat (@h0x0d) spotted, Microsoft has launched a site – which it set up in the last ten days – for partners and other important visitors to arrange meetings with the company at MWC 2017.

The site invites visitors to “join us at Mobile World Congress 2017”, and includes the familiar Windows 10 tagline, “do great things”.

What’s not yet clear is exactly how Microsoft will present itself at MWC 2017.

They may literally have no formal presence at all. This could literally just be back-door meetings, since everyone is in one place at the same time. And the “great things” Microsoft will do with its partners won’t happen for months if not years.

A quick reminder about Photosynth

I answered an email from a reader this morning who reported that Microsoft’s Photosynth mobile apps were shutting down as of February 2017. Microsoft actually announced this in mid-2015, but I barely covered it. Which was my mistake. But if this is somehow a surprise to, please read this.

We are retiring the Photosynth mobile apps. We are doing this because the new Photosynth Preview technology and its cloud processing is a more immersive way to capture a place than the spherical panoramas that our apps produce.

If you use the Photosynth Windows Phone App or the Photosynth iOS App you can continue to use it, but it is now officially unsupported, and will not be maintained going forward. Both apps will be withdrawn from their respective stores.

Because the app is now unsupported, we strongly encourage people to upload their panoramas to is still maintained and you will be able to view your panoramas online with or without the Photosynth app. Panoramas can be made public, or kept unlisted to protect your privacy

Google Wallet gets a new web experience

Google announced this past week that it has updated the Google Wallet experience on the web. So. Here you go.

We’re excited to introduce the new Google Wallet web experience just in time for the holidays. Available across all browsers, the updated Wallet website has a brand new look and added features, which will make planning that New Year’s trip with friends a breeze.

You can send what you owe to your friend’s email address or phone number, and they can quickly transfer the money to their bank account – all without installing an app

Ah, right. Google Wallet isn’t Google’s electronic wallet experience anymore; that’s Android Pay. Google Wallet is like a version of PayPal that only works between individuals. Stupid. This should all be one thing.

This is the definition of insanity

Some say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. I say it’s trying to put Android on a three-year-old Windows phone that was underpowered when it launched. Android Police reports.

A few days ago, XDA developer banmeifyouwant posted a video of his in-progress CyanogenMod 13 port to the Lumia 525. The video shows CM13, based on Android 6.0, booting on the device as well as opening and closing apps.

The developer only demonstrated the 525 booting, but he is currently working on kernel tweaks to allow the 520 to boot as well. He intended on releasing an installer and the source code in the near future, but his Lumia 525’s EMMC died, leaving him without a dev device.

Running any form of Android on a Windows Phone device is impressive, and I wish him the best of luck.

It’s not impressive, it’s futile. And pretending otherwise is, sorry, insane.

Android apps on Chromebook aren’t measuring up to expectations so far

So Android on Windows phone makes no sense, but how about Android apps on Chromebook? I am cautiously optimistic that this could be a game changer for Chromebooks, but it’s fair to say, too, that getting this working is taking longer than Google promised. And as James Martin from CIO points out, it may be because it just doesn’t work very well yet.

At the moment, [only] three different Chromebooks can run Android apps on the Chrome OS. However, that doesn’t mean the apps work well.

The ability to install Android apps on a Chromebook is a cool concept … but right now it’s a decidedly beta experience.

For example, I downloaded Microsoft Word and Dropbox Android apps from the Google Play Store. It’s easy enough to open text files from Dropbox and edit them in the Word app, but saving the edited files back to your Dropbox account isn’t intuitive at all. The Chromebook saved files I edited deep in its folder structure, with no easy way to sync them back to their original Dropbox folders.

Using the online version of Word in the Chrome browser, I had no issues opening files from my Dropbox account, editing them, and then saving them back to their original Dropbox folders. That’s a much better user experience.

He has more examples. And he’s right, this needs to be fixed.

Vine gets a reprieve, of sorts

For me, Vine sits somewhere between Periscope and ornithology on the “it’s interesting” spectrum, but I know some people will care about this. Vine reports:

In October we let you know that we’re shutting down Vine.

Here’s what’s coming: in January, we’re transitioning the Vine app to a pared-down Vine Camera. With this camera app you’ll still be able to make six-second looping videos, and either post them directly to Twitter or save them to your phone.

You can now download your Vines through the app or the website. All of your Vines will continue to live on the website so you can browse all of the amazing videos you created over the years.

See our FAQ for more details.


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Conversation 16 comments

  • 5496

    18 December, 2016 - 8:56 am

    <p>So what if he get android to run on an old Windows Phone. Being that WP boot loader is locked, it is impressive.</p>

    • 170

      18 December, 2016 - 9:27 am

      <blockquote><em><a href="#31026">In reply to </a><a href="../../users/lordbaal1">lordbaal1</a><a href="#31026">:</a></em></blockquote>
      <p>Yeah, I think Paul missed the point. &nbsp;Climbing Mt. Everest is impressive even if it really serves no purpose. &nbsp;Same goes for getting Android on a 525.</p>

      • 8578

        19 December, 2016 - 11:14 am

        <blockquote><em><a href="#31028">In reply to </a><a href="../../users/Sprtfan">Sprtfan</a><a href="#31028">:</a></em></blockquote>
        <p>Personally, I prefer meaningful challenges. Chuck Yeager breaking the sound barrier vs being the nth person to climb Everest or going through a lot of effort to get Android to run on a WP when you could just buy an Android phone.</p>

        • 1609

          19 December, 2016 - 8:26 pm

          <blockquote><em><a href="#31127">In reply to </a><a href="../../users/skane2600">skane2600</a><a href="#31127">:</a></em></blockquote>
          <p>Of course you could just buy an Android phone. This is meaningless if it’s for Windows phone users to hang onto some hope that their phone might run Android, but for tinkerers, this is certainly an accomplishment. It’s cool that someone did it, and that’s it.</p>

          • 8578

            19 December, 2016 - 9:51 pm

            <blockquote><em><a href="#31194">In reply to </a><a href="../../users/rwoods716">rwoods716</a><a href="#31194">:</a></em></blockquote>
            <p>IMO it’s just reinventing the wheel. No doubt, it was challenging, it just wasn’t very meaningful. If someone took a WP and wrote their own original code to make the HW do something unique, that would be more impressive.&nbsp;</p>

  • 5234

    18 December, 2016 - 9:40 am

    <p>"right now it&rsquo;s a decidedly beta experience"</p>
    <p>Which is why they still have the beta tag on the Play Store icon. &nbsp;How does anybody miss this?</p>

    • 8057

      18 December, 2016 - 10:38 am

      <blockquote><em><a href="#31029">In reply to </a><a href="../../users/Waethorn">Waethorn</a><a href="#31029">:</a></em></blockquote>
      <p>Everything Google does is&nbsp;beta, so a beta tag doesn’t tell us much. Gmail was beta for 5 years.</p>

      • 5486

        18 December, 2016 - 12:13 pm

        <blockquote><em><a href="#31031">In reply to </a><a href="../../users/drfisheye">drfisheye</a><a href="#31031">:</a></em></blockquote>
        <p>Everything MS does these days is beta as well, if not in name, certainly in quality.</p>

  • 7309

    Premium Member
    18 December, 2016 - 9:40 am

    <p>The screenshot that accompanies this article is why I’m less optimistic about Windows 10 on ARM than a lot of other people/sites. The update experience alone is horrible and slow. I have no idea why updating some system files has to take so long. Even on high-end hardware. It’s barely acceptable on a PC (on only because we have&nbsp;become used to it there throughout the years), but can you imaging having something like this integrated in your fridge? Microsoft has a lot of work cut of for them if there plan really is to put full Windows 10 everywhere.</p>

    • 9077

      18 December, 2016 - 1:27 pm

      <blockquote><em><a href="#31030">In reply to </a><a href="../../users/timo47">timo47</a><a href="#31030">:</a></em></blockquote>
      <p>Yep. Slapping bloated Windows x86 on top of an expensive ARM CPU will be like a Ford F-150 with a 2-cylinder engine. &nbsp;Its precisely back asswards.</p>
      <p>And it’ll be 2018 before they attempt this nonsense anyway. &nbsp;They had their shot with RT, they blew it. It’s over.</p>

    • 8578

      19 December, 2016 - 11:19 am

      <blockquote><em><a href="#31030">In reply to </a><a href="../../users/timo47">timo47</a><a href="#31030">:</a></em></blockquote>
      <p>Whenever my PC starts to act strange, I discover that there’s an update ready to install. For IoT applications, many could be implemented without an OS at all, having "full windows" would just be unnecessary bloat.&nbsp;</p>

  • 412

    Premium Member
    18 December, 2016 - 3:01 pm

    <p>"Android apps on Chromebook aren&rsquo;t measuring up to expectations so far."<br /><br />My wife won an Acer Chromebook 14 at her company Christmas party and she didn’t know what a Chromebook was, so I told her to turn it on and try it. She saw no point in the device…she said all it was is a browser. I tried to explain the need for something like this, but just couldn’t. Perhaps I am just not getting it when you can pay the same for a fair Windows PC with touch.&nbsp;</p>
    <p>Also, I did change to the beta and then developer channel and I had no option for the PLAY Store. I have a qualified Chromebook for the Play Store but it never showed up as an option, so couldn’t test how well they work. But seeing what Paul wrote, that might have been narrowed down to 3 Chromebooks now.&nbsp;</p>

  • 6956

    18 December, 2016 - 3:39 pm

    <p>Hold on Eeyore, I think you’re missing the point of Android on the 520/525 a little bit. It’s to see if you can, basically, and maybe a stepping stone to getting it to work on other Lumias. But it’s not to be a serious daily driver or anything like that. It’s just tinkering around with phones and Android. Just I play with Raspberry Pi, but not for the purpose of replacing my full-powered Windows 10 laptop.</p>

  • 5812

    Premium Member
    19 December, 2016 - 8:42 am

    <p>Android apps all coming to most and almost all the chromebooks and chromeboxes 1st quarter of 2018. They want to bring the entire play store. MS is making specific apps just for this so I wouldn’t write it off just because they are trying to deliver a more finished experience than they usually do. Remember they are 50% of the school market and half assing this would kill it in schools which they’d disable them before the apps even get started. Key for Google is to release this where it just works and the only issues are if app devs don’t have a tablet version limiting the size of the apps to phone size.&nbsp;</p>

  • 5510

    19 December, 2016 - 9:56 am

    <p>In regards to this statement, "it&rsquo;s fair to say, too, that getting this working is taking longer than Google promised."</p>
    <p>My question, exactly what was the exact thing that was promised? Please give a direct quote or a link.&nbsp;</p>
    <p>I am suspicious as to if Paul is making this up?</p>

  • 1775

    10 January, 2017 - 12:36 pm

    <p>&gt;…if they [even] provided</p>
    <p>&gt;…somehow a [surprise, please] read this[:]</p>
    <p>&gt;…browse all of the amazing videos you created <br />How amazing can a 6-second video be?</p>

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