Category: Software

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The real Skype app arrives for Android worldwide

Posted by Charbax – October 5, 2010

It works on 3G and WiFi worldwide except in the USA (for some telco policy reasons, in the USA, it only works on 3G with Verizon).

Even though Skype is a proprietary VOIP platform, this is a big deal. It working smoothly on 3G as well as WiFi means this can help popularize VOIP on Android devices. Sure, Skype kind of worked with Truphone, Nimbuzz, Fring on Android previously, but Skype did sometimes block those third party apps from accessing its proprietary network. And sure there are open SIP based apps for Android like Sipdroid. Anyways, this is cool and awesome. I'm looking forward for Google Voice to be released internationally as well. More VOIP on Android may bring about cheaper Android devices that don't even come with voice/sms packages anymore but which can do everything on Data networks only, and not even with compulsory 2-year subscription plans. You can download it to your Android device at http://skype.com/m/ or in the Google Marketplace.

Source: blogs.skype.com
Found via: engadget.com

Toshiba Places, content on all screens

Posted by Charbax – September 2, 2010

A synchronized cloud based content browsing and streaming system that works across set-top-box, laptops both ARM powered and Intel powered, and on Toshiba's new Tegra2 based Android laptops and tablets.

Advanced video games coming to Android devices

Posted by Charbax – August 12, 2010

As the Nintendo 3DS might come with 3G and smartphone-like features, it is also about to be the time for the smartphones to include button layouts that are optimized for advanced 3D video games. As the OpenGL ES 2.0 3D rendering is getting so advanced with the latest ARM processors, all it takes to experience advanced video gaming decently on phones is game pad buttons on each side of the screen. While capacitive touch screens and accelerometers provide the start of an idea that gaming can work on these devices, to get the best possible experience, it is just a hardware issue relating to the hardware design.

Gaming emulators seem to work great on Android, it is to be seen if Nintendo will be bold enough to offer legal access to all its old games at fair prices to licence and download legally directly from within an official Nintendo game console emulator to be released in the Android market place. I think that the best pricing strategy that they could provide is $5 subscription pricing renewed each month that the games are played offering unlimited access to all Nintendo games on the specific supported platforms. Hopefully all Nintendo game console games emulated up until Nintendo 64 and Sega Dreamcast would be supported this way.

Another very interesting possible development, is that the portable gaming device will have so powerful graphics acceleration that it will actually be able to function as a HD video games console when connected using HDMI to the HDTV. Whether the latest portable ARM powered devices are able to render 1080p video games at full frame rates using HDMI to a HDTV, that is to be seen, but the development might be approaching that possibility. At least current hardware definitely might output Wii level quality graphics to any TV using the TV output. So the portable Android gaming device might not only compete with the Nintendo DS and the PSP, it might also compete with the Wii, XboX and Playstation 3.

Engadget is reporting on a rumor that Sony-Ericsson is preparing a 1ghz Snapdragon powered Playstation smartphone with Android 3.0 onboard. It is to be expected that Sony may want to keep exclusive access to their own games to be released for that new Android gaming platform. The slide-out gamepad design from under the device that is shown in Engadget's mockup design, instead of the keyboard, is probably an okay solution for gamers.

I would like to see someone build a good elastic design for a wireless bluetooth gamepad accessory that can be strapped to each side of any smart phone or tablet of any size and shape and have good gaming buttons push inwards to cover as much of the screen bezel as possible. Even to snap into 4:3 gaming mode and 16:9 gaming modes as the user prefers. Thus a solution to nicely transform any Android device into an advanced video gaming device. The design below is not exactly good enough design for this idea, please let me know in the comments if you know any better design:

Canonical explains the status of Ubuntu on ARM Powered Laptops

Posted by Charbax – July 5, 2010

In this video, Jerone Young, Partner Engineer at Canonical explains the status of software optimizations and development to make ARM Powered Laptops and Desktops a reality. He tells about some of the fascinating challenges where Canonical is working together with the their partners at the Linaro group of companies (ARM, Freescale, IBM, Samsung, ST Ericsson, Texas Instruments...) to realize a full desktop experience on ARM Powered devices, including full and fast web browsing and full access to most of the most useful Ubuntu applications.

It's about hardware acceleration, about standardization of boot process and other aspects of the ARM platforms, this is about focusing development efforts to solve the most important challenges and provide thus open source and free software tools to be used by all ARM Powered Linux based products. With faster memory bus speeds coming up in the next generation of Desktop-centric ARM Processors, such as support for DDR3 RAM speeds, the implementation of multiple cores as in upcoming ARM Cortex A9 processors, the standardization of how to use graphics and video hardware acceleration to speed up user interfaces, applications and features. Those are the challenges that Canonical and its partners are working very hard on and plan to implement in actual products that can start to be sold to the mass market during these coming months.

As you have been able to see in hundreds of videos here on ARMdevices.net, many, many prototypes of ARM Powered laptops are being shown at trade shows. Huge laptop makers like HP, Toshiba, Dell, Lenovo, Quanta, Compal, Inventec, Pegatron, all of those and many more have shown or have announced ARM Powered laptop projects. Yet to actually launch these to a very large market, the ARM Partners are first collaboratively making sure that those devices provide a user experience that is fast enough for most consumers.

This story as discussed on Slashdot: http://linux.slashdot.org/story/10/07/06/1256252/Surveying-the-Challenges-of-Linux-On-Cortex-A9-Based-Laptops

Microsoft Word on ARM Powered Laptop using Genesi and Citrix solutions

Posted by Charbax – June 23, 2010

Genesi Americas is presenting this awesome looking ARM Cortex A8 based Smartbook design, presented by Genesi who designed the hardware in collaboration with Pegatron of this latest generation of this Freescale Powered Smartbook design. For fun, we are running Microsoft Office through a high resolution version of Citrix viewer on the latest version of Ubuntu 10.4 for ARM processors. This could provide a one click online based software as a service solution. Want to run any X86 application on your ARM Laptop? Just click through the Citrix virtualization stuff and you can have it all running and smoothly. In theory, the apps could be processed by a grid and delivered much faster than on a single x86 processor based device.

Genesi are providing the hardware and software integration solution, in combination with Future Electronics, they can provide the whole solution to carriers, distributors, with the full bill of material, setting up the manufacturing and making the whole thing work and be sold to the market.

Genesi's main IP is their Aura firmware solution:

Aura, the Genesi Firmware offering, implements a run-time, re-entrant hardware abstraction layer supporting the industry standard IEEE 1275 (OpenFirmware) and UEFI firmware specifications, with significant added functionality.

These additional features provide cost reduction of systems and faster time-to-market of hardware. Genesi provides board bring-up services and firmware for other Power Architecture and ARM hardware suppliers, up to and including a Linux desktop, based on our firmware.

Genesi is an active Open Source supporter, having donated a lot of hardware over the years to Debian, OpenSuSe, Gentoo, Crux and many other Linux distributions.

Genesi are very active in optimizing software specifically for ARM Cortex by porting libraries to the NEON unit in these devices resulting in large speedups.

Genesi has a developer forum: http://www.powerdeveloper.org

Linaro, new company to make ARM compatible software

Posted by Charbax – June 4, 2010

ARM, IBM, Freescale, Samsung, TI, ST Ericsson are the founding members of a new not-for-profit open source software engineering company called Linaro.

Linaro plans to invest resources in open source projects that can be used on all Linux-based distributions like Android, LiMo, MeeGo, Ubuntu, and webOS. The goal is to provide stable and optimized base for creating new optimized tools for developers along with kernel, middleware, and more validated for a wide range of SoCs every six months.

Find more informations: http://linaro.org

Source: http://dailytech.com

Qt development framework demonstrated

Posted by Charbax – May 15, 2010

Qt is a cross-platform application and UI framework for developing once, and deploying across lots of embedded Linux platforms, Windows CE, Symbian and Maemo without rewriting the source code. At Mobile World Congress, Qt was demonstrating their solution used in many different devices.

Qt Quick (Qt User Interface Creation Kit) is a high-level user interface technology that makes it dramatically easier for UI designers and developers with scripting language skills to quickly and easily create beautiful, pixel perfect UIs and lightweight, touch-enabled apps with Qt – all without requiring any C++ skills. It will be part of the Qt 4.7 release, which has had its first technology preview released in March.

Native Client enables video-editing on cheap ARM Powered devices

Posted by Charbax – May 13, 2010

Google has just released a developer preview of the Native Client software development kit at http://blog.chromium.org. What this could mean is to run more powerful web apps, such that require C/C++ code to run smoothly with Javascript, CSS and other HTML5 features in the web browser.

This could be how very powerful authoring applications like video and photo editing may work on ARM based Chrome OS laptops or in Chrome on Android laptops and tablets.

Imagine uploading all your rough video files from your camcorder to the cloud, then launch a web app that combine offline web app caching features of HTML5 (previously called Google Gears) together with Native Code features, this will enable to download to cache storage and stream the thumbnail video from the server while editing, then when the edit is done in the timeline, the full quality video encoding and publishing happens on the cloud in seconds. This could thus provide powerful video and photo editing tools to professionals and enthusiasts, and actually provide a more powerful rendering and encoding performance using a basic and cheap ARM Powered device than would be achieved using any expensive machine with powerful local processors.

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Google to open-source On2 VP8 for HTML5 video

Posted by Charbax – April 13, 2010
JVC GZ-MG555 digital camcorder
Image via Wikipedia

I was right when I immediately deducted back in August 2009 that Google's purchase of On2 would likely lead to them open-sourcing and releasing On2's VP8 video codec as a free open-source video codec to be used as the HTML5 video format.

Google could use VP8 codec on Youtube in HTML5 mode, and force everyone using Youtube to upgrade to HTML5 browsers

Newteevee.com is reporting that Google plans to announce VP8 video codec for HTML5 at next month's Google I/O conference in San Francisco.

This means the world will get an open-source and free video-codec to use in all consumer electronics, to use in all websites and for the distribution of all video contents. Look forward to small Chinese manufacturers not anymore having to pay ridiculous $20'000 or more licencing fees to the Mpeg Consortium through "Sisvel" and other such hugely expensive licencing costs which manufacturers have to pay to exhibit products in Europe or in the USA for simply being able to playback those formats. Consumer electronics products will likely ship with Google's Video codec installed by default and only unlock access to proprietary codecs through a codec licence unlocking system through letting users pay the licence themselves or only unlock the functionality at the time of sale and not during the conference exhibitions.

Using this new VP8 for HTML5 could potentially save Google and other content and distribution companies millions of dollars in H264 licencing costs for sites like Youtube. Google Chrome and Firefox will thus ship with HTML5 video codec pre-installed in the browser, and obviously that Android, Chrome OS will come with it too. And Google will likely freely provide all the tools for hardware acceleration on all hardware platforms as well.

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Chitech CT-PC89E 8.9″ ARM11 Powered laptop runs Debian Linux

Posted by Charbax – March 20, 2010

User lkcl of elinux.org got some samples of the Chitech CT-PC89E ARM Powered laptop with a Samsung ARM11 S3C6410 processor, a 1024x600 8.9in LCD screen, factory-upgradeable SO-DIMM which also has, in the standard low-cost option, 256mb of RAM and 2gb of NAND Flash, two internal USB2-capable PCI-express slots, which can take 50x30mm PCI-e cards. One is occupied with the RALink RT2070 WIFI, whilst the other is designed to take a 3G or an EDGE modem (bootup logo on this sample seems to show a China Mobile logo): there is even a slot for a SIM card next to the SD card slot.

According to lklc as shown in this video, this ARM Powered laptop has been hacked by to run:

Debian Lenny with a matchbox window manager and some GPE applications, due to the limited size of the root filesystem partition (450mb) and the fact that the factory haven't been able to provide the Linux kernel source code yet. The important thing is that it proves that it's possible to install your own OS on this machine.

You can find more informations about the Linux hacking going on for this device at: http://elinux.org/CT-PC89E