AfterDawn: Tech news

News written by Petteri Pyyny

AfterDawn: News

Sideloading apps to Android gets easier, as Google settles its lawsuit

Written by Petteri Pyyny @ 19 Dec 2023 11:09

Sideloading apps to Android gets easier, as Google settles its lawsuit Google settled a class-action lawsuit in September 2023, which accused the company of distorting the Android app market and abusing its dominant market position in the United States. Today, the company announced the terms of the settlement.

Firstly, it will pay a total of $700 million in compensation to parties and authorities that participated in the class-action lawsuit. Of the amount, which is equivalent to approximately 637 million, 90% will go to consumers who participated in the class-action lawsuit, and the remaining 10% of the compensation amount will go to individual US states.

From the perspective of an average Android user, the bigger significance is that Google intends to simplify the so-called sideloading mechanism for Android as a result of the settlement. This mechanism is used to install applications on Android phones from outside Google's own Play Store.

Currently, the process of downloading apps (typically in .apk file format) with phone's browser and installing it includes several roadblocks that Google has added, to "protect the users". Because of the settlement, the entire process gets streamlined.


AfterDawn: News

Roomba Combo j7+ review - Clever trick allows robot vacuum finally to tackle home with rugs and carpets

Written by Petteri Pyyny @ 06 Jun 2023 9:19

Roomba Combo j7+ review - Clever trick allows robot vacuum finally to tackle home with rugs and carpets Chinese robot vacuum manufacturers have been successful in selling consumers the idea that a robot vacuum combined with a robot mop is a much better solution. However, I personally have been skeptical of this idea for years. There are essentially two reasons for this: first, a lightweight mop cannot actually remove stuck-on dirt from the floor. But more importantly, I have highlighted the fact that a mop completely ruins the idea of easy-to-use robot vacuums.

Well, the world's largest robot vacuum manufacturer, Roomba, has strongly agreed with me on this and has not released any combination device that includes a robot vacuum and mop. However, apparently the pressure from Chinese manufacturers has changed Roomba's mind and they have finally released such a device: Roomba Combo j7+ is Roomba's first robot vacuum with a mop function.

We received the new device for testing in late 2022 and the testing period lasted almost a record-breaking four months because the robot stayed in our test locations for that long. During the testing period, Roomba Combo j7+ was used as the only floor cleaning tool in the test locations, as always during our tests. The robot was used in two very different types of homes during the testing period: one with lots of carpets and obstacles, and another that was very minimalist.


AfterDawn: News

Neato, the robot vacuum company, ends its operations

Written by Petteri Pyyny @ 02 May 2023 3:38

Neato, the robot vacuum company, ends its operations Although robot vacuums have become a commonplace item in households in recent years, their story goes back much further. In fact, robotic vacuums have been around in some form for over 20 years.

For a long time, the market was dominated by a single company, iRobot, and its Roomba product line until a real contender emerged in 2005 with the American company Neato Robotics.

Especially in the 2010s, Neato Robotics gained a loyal following among technology enthusiasts as the company's products brought many innovations to the world of robot vacuums. Neato's robots were the first so-called "connected" robot vacuums, meaning they communicated their actions to the internet - and to a smartphone app. In addition, Neato courted technology enthusiasts by opening up its robots' programming interfaces and enabling the first steps towards a smart home at a time when the term "smart home" was still completely unknown. Furthermore, Neato also introduced LiDARs to the robot vacuum world - at the time when most robot vacuums did their navigation based on guesswork.

Sometime around 2015, Neato was perhaps at its peak and the company's then-current lineup was in many ways the best that the world of robot vacuums had to offer. Unfortunately, the company's development seems to have stalled since those years.


AfterDawn: News

Tech year 2022 wrapped up: The rise of the AI, EU to become the much-needed counterweight to tech giants, ...

Written by Petteri Pyyny @ 01 Jan 2023 2:11

Tech year 2022 wrapped up: The rise of the AI, EU to become the much-needed counterweight to tech giants, ... Year 2022 was supposed to be the year when we were planning to get out of the pandemic and get back to normal lives. Well, Russia decided differently and the entire year will be remembered as the year when a new war started in Europe.

Despite the war and horrors of it, tech world had some interesting developments during the year - lets try to wrap those changes up here.

The rise of the artificial intelligence

Since the very dawn of computing history, people have dreamed about the possibilities of artificial intelligence. Turing test has existed for decades and every now and then we've heard about the developments in AI research.

But the yeat 2022 as the year when AI finally became part of our everyday lives.

It all started with DALL-E in Spring of 2022, when OpenAI released its text-to-images AI project to the public. Suddenly, the entire web was flooded with psychedelic images created by the weird artificial intelligence software.

Soon after, in summer of 2022, open source world pushed the envelope further, by releasing Stable Diffusion project. An open source project doing exactly the same as DALL-E did: generate images from text prompts, but doing that better and with more customization options.


AfterDawn: News

OPPO to follow Samsung, OnePlus: Promises 4 Android updates, 5 years of patches for upcoming flagships

Written by Petteri Pyyny @ 21 Dec 2022 3:45

OPPO to follow Samsung, OnePlus: Promises 4 Android updates, 5 years of patches for upcoming flagships Chinese phone manufacturer OPPO has grown in recent years in Europe and Asia and has become one of the major Android phone manufacturers in the world. Now, company is following the footsteps of other Android manufacturers and is improving its update policy dramatically.

From year 2023 onwards, all new OPPO flagship models will be eligible for 4 major Android operating system updates and 5 years of security patches. Basically all new OPPO flagship phones released next year with Android 13 will get updated to Android 14, Android 15, Android 16 and finally to Android 17.

New policy matches the policy in place for Samsung and is in line with OPPO's sister brand, OnePlus, which made recently a similar policy change for its upcoming flagship models.

Policy change wont cover those phones released in year 2022 or before that, so current flagship models like OPPO Find X5 Pro wont be eligible for the four updates.

OPPO hasn't made any official statement on how midrange phones or low-end phones will get updates in future. But it is obvious that the longetivity of the phones is getting more and more important for consumers - and manufacturers are responding to that need.


AfterDawn: News

Gmail is down for everybody, globally

Written by Petteri Pyyny @ 10 Dec 2022 10:06

Gmail is down for everybody, globally World's largest email service, Gmail is down. Email service owned by Google has vanished or is experiencing problems for all of its users currently.

The problems began around 15:00 UTC today and as of now, have lasted for more than an hour.

According to the DownDetector which monitors web service's online status, the problems are global and have just worsened during the past hour.

Gmail down 10th of December, 2022 according to DownDetector

Gmail problems are widely reported by Twitter users, but Gmail's official support hasn't made an official statement about the issue yet.

EDIT 15:20 UTC: For some users, the web interface works fine, but new incoming messages aren't coming through at all.

AfterDawn: News

OnePlus changes update policy: Flagship models to get 4 major Android updates, 5 years of patches

Written by Petteri Pyyny @ 30 Nov 2022 4:19

OnePlus changes update policy: Flagship models to get 4 major Android updates, 5 years of patches OnePlus has decided to match Samsung's update policy for its flagship models, starting in year 2023.

What it means is that all OnePlus flagship models will receive four major Android updates and five years worth of security updates. Company wasn't too clear with its press release on what models will be rolled into the new policy and we don't know whether the models released in 2022 (like OnePlus 10 Pro and OnePlus 10T) will be included with the updated policy.

But at least all flagship OnePlus phones released after this policy change will be eligible for four major Android updates. Basically meaning that the rumored OnePlus 11, expected to launch with Android 13, will get Android 14, Android 15, Android 16 and Android 17 updates during its lifetime. And after Android 17, the model will also get one year of security patches.

It is also still open what will be the OnePlus' Android update policy for its mid-range and low-end phones, like OnePlus Nord series and OnePlus Nord N series. So far, those phones have received only two or one major Android update.


AfterDawn: News

Sony releases Android 13 update for Xperia 1 IV and Xperia 5 IV

Written by Petteri Pyyny @ 03 Nov 2022 4:37

Sony releases Android 13 update for Xperia 1 IV and Xperia 5 IV Sony is nowadays a small player in the smartphone world. But company focuses solely on very specific customers with its small, high-end phones and doesn't even try to woo the mainstream audiences to its phones. And within its own, self-defined category, Sony's recent phones have been simply excellent.

And Sony has done pretty good job with speedy Android updates too: company just announced that its most recent flagship phones, Sony Xperia 1 IV and Sony Xperia 5 IV are now receiving stable, official Android 13 update.

Sony was very quiet about the exact details, such as which countries will get the update first and how big the update is. But based on previous years' experience, the update should arrive to all Xperia 1 IV and 5 IV users within a week or two (unless your mobile operator blocks it, as some carriers tend to do).


AfterDawn: News

WhatsApp is down - Globally, nobody can send or receive messages

Written by Petteri Pyyny @ 25 Oct 2022 4:08

WhatsApp is down - Globally, nobody can send or receive messages For about an hour now, since 07:00 UTC, the world's largest instant messaging platform WhatsApp has been completely down.

People have panicked, uninstalled/reinstalled WhatsApp on their phones and even blamed their service providers for the situation. But no, it is down to WhatsApp itself, which simply cannot be accessed right now.

As of now, the outage has been on-going for more than an hour, marking this one of the longest downtimes for WhatsApp in quite some time now.

WhatsApp nurin 2022-10-25

According to DownDetector, the problem is global and none of the WhatsApp's functionality works right now.

You can monitor the situation by following tweets with #WhatsAppDown hashtag. Obviously, Twitter is full of fun takes on the situation already:


AfterDawn: News

USB-C and quick charging become mandatory in EU for phones, laptops, more

Written by Petteri Pyyny @ 04 Oct 2022 2:04

USB-C and quick charging become mandatory in EU for phones, laptops, more In a landmark decision that has been in works for more than a decade, European parliament almost unanimously decided to make USB-C mandatory in all portable electronics.

By the end of 2024 all new phones, digital cameras, headphones, tablets and various other portable devices sold within the European Union must have a USB-C charging port. The new legislation doesn't allow manufacturers to circumvent the requirement with adapters or anything like that.

Interestingly, the legislation also makes USB PD quick charging mandatory for mobile phones, tablets and other "medium-sized" devices. Manufacturers are required to support at least 30W quick charging USB PD standard by end of 2024.

The requirement for 30W+ quick charging is a big deal, considering how some manufacturers don't provide any quick charging for their budget phones - and some expensive models only support 18W quick charging.

Additionally, all laptops sold in Europe must switch to USB-C charging by spring 2026. Only exception to this requirement are the high-end laptops that draw more than 100W power when operating at full power. For those, manufacturers can continue to use their non-standard charging ports.


AfterDawn: News

Android 13 officially released

Written by Petteri Pyyny @ 15 Aug 2022 2:24

Android 13 officially released Without much fanfare, Google just released the final, stable version of Android 13 operating system.

As usual, the new operating system is already available for all supported Google Pixel phones, starting with Pixel 4 series. Pixel 3 and older wont be eligible for the update and they're considered to have reached their end.

Android 13 beta is already available to selected handsets outside the Google Pixel family. All major Android manufacturers (Samsung, OnePlus, Xiaomi and more) have at least one of their models enrolled to Android beta program.

Android 13 improves privacy controls, the way how audio can be cast to various output devices and much, much more.

There's already a list of phones expected to get the Android 13 update available. Obviously, as manufacturer announce their detailed release plans, the list will evolve and grow.

For full list of changes - technical or more visible ones - Google's developer site has a very detailed list of changes since Android 12.

AfterDawn: News

Russia introduces new 100 rouble bill - but you can't get it from ATMs or to pay with it

Written by Petteri Pyyny @ 01 Jul 2022 11:39

Russia introduces new 100 rouble bill - but you can't get it from ATMs or to pay with it "What looks and feels like a real paper money, but doesn't work?" Well, obviously, that is Russian paper money.

Russian Central Bank officially introduced the updated 100 rouble bill today. The bill shows a Soviet Soldier Memorial as its main image and bill is supposed to replace the previous 100 rouble bill currently in circulation.

But there's a small problem with all that: you can't withdraw the new bill from ATMs and you can't pay with it in stores.

And why is that? Because ever since Russia launched its attack against Ukraine, Western companies have refused to deliver any technology to Russia. And it just happens to be that 60 percent of all Russian ATMs are made by Western companies and whopping 100 percent of all the cash registers in the country are made by Western companies.

Thus, in order to get the new bill into circulation, the ATMs and cash registers need to be updated in order to recognize the new bill. And Western manufacturers simply wont do that due the sanctions against Russia. Even banks refuse to take the bill, as they don't have updated hardware to detect fake bills from authentic ones.

So, new paper money theoretically exists, but it can't be used.


AfterDawn: News

Internet Explorer finally dies, after 27 years

Written by Petteri Pyyny @ 14 Jun 2022 2:04

Internet Explorer finally dies, after 27 years Very rarely any piece of computer software is so loved and hated as Microsoft's browser, Internet Explorer has been throughout its lifespan. But finally, after 27 years, IE is being killed off.

Microsoft released the first version of IE back in 1995. But it wasn't until the turn of the millennium when the browser finally managed to become the most popular web browser in the world.

Partially that success was because of Microsoft's shady tactics, like bundling IE tightly with its Windows operating system. But partially, the reason was also due the fact that back then, IE was simply a faster and more nimble browser than the previous #1, Netscape Navigator.

IE quickly solidified its top position, despite the arrival of open source contender, Firefox. Firefox never manager to get past IE in terms of global popularity and IE became quickly de facto browser during the first years of 2000s.

Microsoft was so certain of its pole position that the company didn't even bother to do any major updates to its browser: Internet Explorer 6 was released in 2001, but it took over five years for IE7 to arrive.

That era when IE dominated is remembered with horror by many old-time web developers, as IE was notoriously bad at supporting any web standards, whatsoever. Basically during those years, web developers had to create two separate versions of their websites: one for everything else and one for IE only.


AfterDawn: News

AfterDawn's 23rd birthday

Written by Petteri Pyyny @ 10 Jun 2022 2:59

AfterDawn's 23rd birthday Damn. Time flies. Our news output has temporarily slowed down quite dramatically during the past year or so, but we're still here, after all these years.

Yes, 23 years ago today, our site officially launched, back in 1999. Since those days, lots of things have changed - in technology, culture, our personal lives and Internet. But our site is still here, having survived all these years - good times and the bad ones.

I wont go over our history and our roller-coaster years now, as I've done so three years ago, extensively when our site turned 20 years old.

Again, I'd like to thank all of you who have supported our site over all these years. Thank you, everybody!

-Petteri Pyyny, CEO
AfterDawn Oy

P.S. Now, AfterDawn has existed over half of my life, which is kinda weird thing to think about..

AfterDawn: News

End of an era: iPod discontinued - the device that revolutionized music industry

Written by Petteri Pyyny @ 11 May 2022 4:06

End of an era: iPod discontinued - the device that revolutionized music industry Sure, there were digital music players well before Apple introduced its first iPod back in 2001. But iPod was the device that made digital music a mainstream reality.

It also paved a way for new music industry revenue models by introducing legal and easy-to-use ways to purchase digital music. Since then, the digital music purchase model has died and been replaced by a streaming services, such as Spotify. But it was the iPod and Apple's music store that acted as catalysts for that transition.

Apple has already retired most of its iPod models, but the iPhone-like Apple iPod touch has remained in production. Until now.

Apple has announced that it will cease the production of iPod touch immediately and the device will be available through retail channels until the supplies last.

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