Start Up No.901: Google hits tech scammers, Firefox to block trackers, do AI cameras work?, and more


Transporting bauxite (here as a slurry) in a ship can be really dangerous. Photo by Norsk Hydro ASA on Flickr.

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A selection of 13 links for you. Well, some of us are labouring. I’m @charlesarthur on Twitter. Observations and links welcome.

Mystery of the cargo ships that sink when their cargo suddenly liquefies • The Conversation

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Think of a dangerous cargo and toxic waste or explosives might come to mind. But granular cargoes such as crushed ore and mineral sands are responsible for the loss of numerous ships every year. On average, ten “solid bulk cargo” carriers have been lost at sea each year for the last decade.

Solid bulk cargoes – defined as granular materials loaded directly into a ship’s hold – can suddenly turn from a solid state into a liquid state, a process known as liquefaction. And this can be disastrous for any ship carrying them – and their crew.

In 2015, the 56,000-tonne bulk carrier Bulk Jupiter rapidly sunk around 300km south-west of Vietnam, with only one of its 19 crew surviving. This prompted warnings from the International Maritime Organisation about the possible liquefaction of the relatively new solid bulk cargo bauxite (an aluminium ore).

A lot is known about the physics of the liquefaction of granular materials from geotechnical and earthquake engineering. The vigorous shaking of the earth causes pressure in the ground water to increase to such a level that the soil “liquefies”. Yet despite our understanding of this phenomenon, and the guidelines in place to prevent it occurring, it is still causing ships to sink and taking their crew with them.

Solid bulk cargoes are typically “two-phase” materials as they contain water between the solid particles. When the particles can touch, the friction between them makes the material act like a solid (even though there is liquid present). But when the water pressure rises, these inter-particle forces reduce and the strength of the material decreases. When the friction is reduced to zero, the material acts like a liquid (even though the solid particles are still present).

A solid bulk cargo that is apparently stable on the quayside can liquefy because pressures in the water between the particles build up as it is loaded onto the ship.

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There’s a terrific part of the book The Martian which involves a similar calamity. The science of this is pretty scary: you wouldn’t want to be on a ship with something thixotropic like this.
link to this extract


The Top 10: Mnemonics • The Independent

John Rentoul:

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This list started with “X is a cross”, by which Tom Chivers remembers which is the X-axis and which is the Y on a graph. “My son’s been told ‘Y to the sky’ which seems to work as well,” said Funkadelic Horse. Thanks to Stephen Tall and Xlibris1 for drawing this to my attention.

1. How I wish I could calculate pi. The number of letters gives the first seven digits of pi: 3.141592… Thanks to Andrew Ruddle, who said piphilology is the word for the invention and study of mnemonics for pi. 

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And nine more excellent ones, none of which is Richard Of York Gave Battle In Vain, or Norwich. The periodic table elements (first 18) is especially clever.
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Tech-support scams prompt Google to act • WSJ

Samarth Bansal and Rob Barry:

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The move comes after a Wall Street Journal investigation found fraudsters were exploiting Google’s advertising system by purchasing search ads and masquerading as authorized service agents for companies such as Apple.

For instance, the first result in a recent Google search for the phrase “Apple tech support” showed a link to Apple.com and a toll-free number, with the suggestion: “Get instant help from our experts.” The Journal found that the phone number didn’t belong to Apple and instead led to a call center that engages in tech-support scams.

Responding to questions about the ads earlier this week, a Google spokeswoman told the Journal the company was committed to removing bad ads, and last year removed more than 100 such ads per second for violating company policies.

On Friday, Google announced a more stringent crackdown on tech-support ads. “We’ve seen a rise in misleading ad experiences stemming from third-party technical support providers and have decided to begin restricting ads in this category globally,” Google’s global product policy director David Graffsaid on the company’s blog.

Google plans to roll out a verification program “to ensure that only legitimate providers of third-party tech support can use our platform to reach consumers,” Mr. Graff wrote…

…A 2018 study found 72% of sponsored ads on major search engines related to technical support queries led to scam websites.

These scams are on the rise: Microsoft Corp. , which receives around 12,000 complaints about tech support scams every month, reported a 24% increase in such complaints through 2017. The Federal Trade Commission registered 45,000 complaints about online tech support fraud in 2016, which the agency estimates is only a fraction of the true total.

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I first wrote about these scammers back in 2010, and they’d been going for a while even then. Also, how exactly is Google going to “verify” that a company is legit, and that it won’t just sell its database to a scam group?
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Changing our approach to anti-tracking • Firefox Future Releases

Nick Nguyen:

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Anyone who isn’t an expert on the internet would be hard-pressed to explain how tracking on the internet actually works. Some of the negative effects of unchecked tracking are easy to notice, namely eerily-specific targeted advertising and a loss of performance on the web. However, many of the harms of unchecked data collection are completely opaque to users and experts alike, only to be revealed piecemeal by major data breaches. In the near future, Firefox will — by default — protect users by blocking tracking while also offering a clear set of controls to give our users more choice over what information they share with sites.

Over the next few months, we plan to release a series of features that will put this new approach into practice through three key initiatives…

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This will look similar to Safari’s tracker blocking and cookie blocking. If that gives them an advantage in page load speeds, then Google is either going to have to find some magic way to speed up Chrome. Assuming, that is, that the speed difference is brought to peoples’ attention, and that Chrome doesn’t have other elements that people find preferable. Would anti-tracking plus speed be enough to make people change?

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Can Beethoven send takedown requests? A first-hand account of one German professor’s experience with overly broad upload filters • Wikimedia Foundation

Ulrich Kaiser:

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The first video I uploaded to YouTube promoted the website where my digitized copies of public domain recordings are available to download. In this video, I explained my project, while examples of the music played in the background. Less than three minutes after uploading, I received a notification that there was a ContentID claim against my video. ContentID is a system, developed by YouTube, which checks user uploaded videos against databases of copyrighted content in order to curb copyright infringement. This system took millions of dollars to develop and is often pointed to as a working example of upload filters by rights holders and lawmakers who wish to make such technology mandatory for every website which hosts user content online. However, these claims ignore the widespread reports of its often flawed execution.

In fact, when I replied to the claim on my introductory video stating that the claimant’s own website said that the date of the recording’s first publication was in 1962, and thus it was in the public domain, the claim was withdrawn with no further ado. This interaction sparked a curiosity in me: were other users uploading public domain music to YouTube receiving similar requests?

I decided to open a different YouTube account “Labeltest” to share additional excerpts of copyright-free music. I quickly received ContentID notifications for copyright-free music by Bartok, Schubert, Puccini and Wagner. Again and again, YouTube told me that I was violating the copyright of these long-dead composers, despite all of my uploads existing in the public domain.

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That’s both the composition and the performance in the public domain. ContentID isn’t perfect, but you can see how it might fail to distinguish a performance from 1964 and 1962. That’s pretty granular.
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Electric vehicles in California: their day will come, and might come suddenly • Bloomberg

Nathaniel Bullard:

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In the first half of the year, vehicles with a battery were more than 10% of new vehicle sales in California. The model mix includes hybrids like the Toyota Prius that have no electric charging plugs, as well as plug-in hybrids and pure electric cars with no combustion engine at all.

The data reveal three trends. The first is the steady erosion of hybrid market share, which is down from seven% of new sales in 2013 to four% in the first half of 2018. That’s noteworthy, and so is the fact that battery electric vehicles are now more popular than plug-in hybrids.

In 2017, the plug-in electric car market is now more than six% of new car sales in California. It’s not a big number — but it will get bigger, and it’s worth asking, “how much bigger?”

My colleague Colin McKerracher suggested we look at Norway for guidance on how much bigger California’s electric car market could be. 

It took Norway about a decade to reach six% electric vehicle sales but then only five years to go from 6% to 47%. Norway is a special case, given that the country has generous incentives that aren’t replicated elsewhere. It does show, though, that inflection points occur, and when they do, markets can change quickly.

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Isn’t that why we call them inflection points?
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AI camera shootout: LG V30S vs Huawei P20 Pro vs Google Pixel 2 • Android Authority

Robert Triggs tries out the “AI” photo tweaks for colour profiles and post-processing (and has lots of photos to prove it):

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it’s a mixed bag across all of the devices we tested. LG and Huawei’s tweaks ranged from subtle to overbearing. Most of the time, it’s preferable to leave the AI setting off. Many of the changes could be imitated at leisure afterwards if you really want them. Google’s HDR+ implementation is very different and clearly helps to compensate for the rare occasions when the camera’s exposure is a little off. It also offers improved dynamic range over other cameras, but this sometimes comes at the cost of drab colors. Overall, it’s the most subtle and consistent of the technologies.

LG definitely offers the most basic AI camera technology of the three. It does little more than color profile and filter switching. Google’s HDR+ is much more useful for general image enhancements. Huawei’s P20 Pro appears to do a bit of both.

Getting an AI camera to even detect the desired scene can be tricky, as there is only a limited range of options to pick from. LG’s software spits out plenty of words for what it’s looking at, but often this won’t result in a change of settings. Huawei’s is similarly finicky, struggling to tell the difference between Flowers and Greenery settings, and constantly switching in and out of the Blue Sky option. Google’s tech is better in this regard because it’s always available should you need it, but often subtle enough not to be missed if it doesn’t trigger.

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To me, the AI photos look worse in pretty much every case.
link to this extract


India’s biometric database is creating a perfect surveillance state — and US tech companies are on board • Huffington Post

Paul Blumenthal and Gopal Sathe:

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Microsoft, which uses Aadhaar in a new version of Skype to verify users, declined to talk about its work integrating products with the Aadhaar database. But Bill Gates, Microsoft’s founder, has publicly endorsed Aadhaar and his foundation is funding a World Bank program to bring Aadhaar-like ID programs to other countries. Gates has also argued that ID verification schemes like Aadhaar in itself don’t pose privacy issues. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has repeatedly praised Aadhaar in both his recent book and a tour across India.

Amazon did not respond to a request for comment, but according to a BuzzFeed report, the company told Indian customers not uploading a copy of Aadhaar “might result in a delay in the resolution or no resolution” of cases where packages were missing.

Facebook, too, failed to respond to repeated requests for comment, though the platform’s prompts for users to log in with the same name as their Aadhaar card prompted suspicions from users that it wanted everyone to use their Aadhaar-verified names and spellings so they could later build in Aadhaar functionality with minimal problems.

A spokesman for Google, which has its own payments platform in India called Tez, told HuffPost that the company has not integrated any of its products with Aadhaar. But there was outrage earlier in August when the Aadhaar helpline was added to Android phones without informing users. Google claimed in a statement to the Economic Times this happened “inadvertently” 

But the same features that are set to make tech companies millions are are also the ones that threaten the privacy and security of millions of Indians.

“As long as [the data] is being shared with so many people and services and companies, without knowing who has what data, it will always be an issue,” said Srinivas Kodali, an independent security researcher. “They can’t protect it until they encrypt it and stop sharing data.”

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You thought that democracies didn’t do surveillance databases?
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The broken promise of Android Treble • BirchTree

Matt Birchler:

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Google surprised everyone when they announced the Android Pie (then just Android P) beta would be on more than just Google’s own phones this year. The full list was:

• Sony Xperia XZ2
• Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S
• Nokia 7 Plus
• Oppo R15 Pro
• Vivo X21
• OnePlus 6
• Essential PH‑1
Not a bad list! I mean it would be nice for Samsung, Motorola, LG, or HTC to be on the list, as these are all very niche phones in the US, but it’s certainly progress.

So here were are a month after Android Pie was released, so let’s look at how many of these beta phones have been updated to Pie. After all, they were running the beta all summer, so they should be ready to go, right?

Phone Status
Sony Xperia XZ2: Coming in November 2018
Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S: Unknown, but alpha build leaked online
Nokia 7 Plus: Coming in September 2018
Oppo R15 Pro: Unknown, no announcements
Vivo X21: ”Q4 2018” so likely close to the end of the year
OnePlus 6: Q4 2018, so likely also by December
Essential PH‑1: Released same day as Pixel devices

I have 2 things to say about this:

One, this is a sad showing by these companies who were involved in the official Android Pie beta. They’ve had Pie in beta since May and they were not able to have it ready when Google released Pie to the world. A month after launch and we’re still looking at October through “someday” on most of these phones.

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Android OS updating is still like hunting the snark.
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Why California’s privacy law won’t hurt Facebook or Google • WIRED

Ex-Facebook ads person Antonio Garcia Martinez:

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To understand why the CCPA won’t impact Facebook in any meaningful way requires understanding (at a high level, not to worry) how Facebook’s ads ecosystem treats data and outside partners. Unlike much of the ad-tech world, Facebook lives in a walled garden where no data leaves and very little enters. When an advertiser wants to retarget you, it exchanges your contact information with Facebook, both sides agreeing to a pseudonym for you, before placing you in one or more targeting buckets (“shoe shoppers,” for example). For Facebook’s most powerful and invasive micro-targeting, almost no data is shared between advertiser and publisher, and data middlemen are largely absent. Which is why, if you download your data from Facebook, the juiciest information is in the least remarkable section: “Advertisers Who Uploaded a Contact List With Your Information.” Users and journalists fixate on the supposed creepiness of Facebook having a call log for you, for example, but the real targeters are buried in that list of companies sharing contact information. The CCPA won’t change this.

So who is impacted by the CCPA?

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Essentially, companies you’ve never heard of but which inveigle themselves into your browser and all your activities all the time.
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Chinese smartphone makers are winning in India — the fastest growing market • VentureBeat

Manish Singh:

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India’s smartphone market is currently a key battleground for a number of phone makers from China, Taiwan, and South Korea. As the smartphone shipments slow in many parts of the globe, India’s handset market continues to grow. July saw 42 different smartphone models launched in the nation, up from 25 models during the same period last year, research firm Counterpoint told VentureBeat.

Most of the new handsets are from Chinese smartphone makers, many of whom see India as their most important market.

Leading the charge is Xiaomi, which last year ended Samsung’s five-year-streak as the top phone vendor in the nation. The period between April and June of this year was the fourth consecutive quarter for Xiaomi as the top vendor in India, according to IDC. Xiaomi (29.7% market share as of Q2) has aggressively undercut the offerings of its rivals by selling inexpensive but high-quality smartphones in India. A spokesperson for the company said that India is currently its most important market.

In the second quarter of this year, four of the top five smartphone makers were Chinese, according to IDC. In addition to Xiaomi, that number includes Oppo (7.6% market share), Vivo (12.6%), and Transsion (5%). Together with other Chinese phone makers such as Lenovo, the group held two-thirds of the local smartphone market in the second quarter, IDC said in a report published last month. Less than three years ago, the aggregate market share of these companies was under 15% in India.

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Apple is pretty much invisible there, with about 1% of the market. Possible clue: India is really, really price-conscious, and per-capita GDP is $1,940.
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Tesla, software and disruption • Benedict Evans

Evans considers what parts of Tesla’s IP might give it disruptive power: batteries, motors, software, “experience”, or autonomous driving:

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Tesla’s first bet is that it will solve the vision-only problem before the [rivals’] other sensors get small and cheap, and that it will solve all the rest of the [self-driving] autonomy problems by then as well. This is strongly counter-consensus. It hopes to do it the harder way before anyone else does it the easier way. That is, it’s entirely possible that [Google’s] Waymo, or someone else, gets autonomy to work in 202x with a $1000 or $2000 LIDAR and vision sensor suite and Tesla still doesn’t have it working with vision alone. 

The second bet is that Tesla will be able to get autonomy working with enough of a lead to benefit from a strong winner takes all effect – ‘more cars means more data means better autonomy means more cars’. After all, even if Tesla did get the vision-only approach working, it doesn’t necessarily follow that no-one else would. Hence, the bet is that autonomous capability will not be a commodity. 

This takes us back to the data. Tesla clearly has an asset in the data it can collect from the 200k+ Autopilot 2 cars it’s already sold. On the other hand, Waymo’s cars have driven 8m miles, doubling in the last year or so. Tesla’s have driven more (without LIDAR, but set that aside), but how much do you need? 

This is really a question about all machine learning projects: at what point are there diminishing returns as you add more data, and how many people can get that amount of data? It does seem as though there should be a ceiling for autonomy – if a car can drive in Naples for a year without ever getting confused, how much more is there to improve? At some point you’re effectively finished. So, how many cars do you need before your autonomy is as good as the best on the market? How many companies might be able to reach that? Is this 100 or a thousand cars driving for a year, or 1 million cars? And meanwhile, machine learning itself is changing quickly – one cannot rule out the possibility that the amount of data you need might shrink dramatically. 

So: it’s possible that Tesla gets SLAM working with vision, and gets the rest of autonomy working as well, and its data and its fleet makes it hard for anyone else to catch up for years. But it’s also possible that Waymo gets this working and decides to sell it to everyone.

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This article is quite hard to extract from, but that’s pretty much the nut. Evans says he started out writing it as a comparison of Tesla and Netflix, but Tesla is too particular in so many ways.
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Global smartwatch shipments grew 37%yoy in q2 2018, apple watch series 1 the most popular model.

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Looking at the different smartwatch platforms, Research Analyst, Flora Tang, added, “Proprietary platforms continue to dominate the smartwatch market. The smartwatch engine is mostly powered by Apple’s watchOS or Fitbit OS or Samsung’s lone adoption of Tizen OS and different flavors of RTOS implementations and all are closed platforms. Hybrid watches which are mostly non-touch smartwatches based on proprietary platforms and sensors, mostly from Swiss watchmakers declined 22% YoY.

The shift to Androidwear OS still hasn’t happened like we have seen in Android for smartphones. This is partly due to lesser focus, less intuitive UI and selective smartwatch OEM partnerships by Google over the last few years for Androidwear OS. Google hopes to change this with the upcoming launch of wear OS 2.0 based watches but will need a complete overhaul of the UI, powerful integration of key Android experiences and by striking key partnerships.”

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But look at Android’s share. That’s tiny. Of course its problem is, and remains, that most Android phone OEMs have tried and given up on watches because they lack the scale and expertise to make them profitably, while traditional high-end watch makers are a bit wary.
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Errata, corrigenda and ai no corrida: a word was missing from Friday’s post. If you didn’t miss it, don’t worry, If you did, it was quite obvious, wasn’t it?

6 thoughts on “Start Up No.901: Google hits tech scammers, Firefox to block trackers, do AI cameras work?, and more

  1. Re. firefox: Anti-tracker, anti-ads and addons in general were enough to make *me* switch: Firefox is the only browser to accept all Desktop addons on Mobile, so I switch to get rid of ads on Mobile where they hurt the most (limited bandwidth, limited screen, limited CPU). And I switched on Desktop too, to keep the sync functionality. It’s worked fine OK for me, early glitches (crashed 1/week on Mobile, failed to render tabs on Desktopa few times a day), all fixed with updates. Speed is fine, compatibility is perfect, and I certainly notice the blocked ads.

  2. re. Android updates:I think iOS users are hysterical about updates (or, in the case of those who should -and probably do- know better, pretending to be) because they don’t grok that updates on Android mean so much less than on iOS: most Android users don’t care. There’s a very false equivalency being peddled.

    1- iOS updates are required for all 1st-party apps (Mail, Browser, Launcher, Maps, etc.) updates, not so for Android/Google apps, which are updated separately off the Playstore; and/or you can use 3rd parties’.
    2- iOS updates are required for all new features (Music, Health, Home, VR…), not so on Android those are mostly independent, running off Google Services not the OS. For example, Google Fit didn’t require an OS update (launched in 2014, compatible with 2013’s 4.4), Apple’s Health did.
    3- iOS updates are required for all security patches, most of Android’s (not all) are done separately
    4- for devs, Google provides backwards-compatibility libraries.
    5- OS versions are only part of the story anyway, even on iOS you can have the same OS on 2 devices, but noticeably different experiences (multitasking, and some weird stuff: http://www.iphonehacks.com/2012/06/ios-6-features-not-available-on-older-ios-devices.html , I’m sure one could find a more recent list)

    It would indeed be nicer if all/most/more Android devices got updated at all, or for longer, or quicker. There is *some* stuff that does require an OS update (in Pie: gesture navigation, Battery AI, tweaks to notifications and the multitasking screen, more granular permissions… https://www.wired.com/story/google-android-9-pie/). That’s not earth-shattering stuff.

    A not-updated Android device in no way feels as hamstrung as a not-updated iOS device. My 2011 Galaxy Note 10.1 tablet runs 2012’s Android 4.1, and all the same apps my Android 8.1 device does (gReader Pro, Firefox, Clash of Clans, and the gaggle of Google apps), except MS Outlook – I have to make do with the gMail client. An iOS device running on iOS 2012’s 5.1 would be much more painful to use. I could get Android 8.1 on that tablet via LineageOS… I’m struggling to find the motivation to spend the 2hrs required to tackle the issue, especially with much better, 2018 tablets only $200-300 away (I got 2 of those anyhow).

    I’ve yet to see anyone around me junk an Android device because its OS is outdated. I’m sure it happens for specific use cases (very security-sensitive users, or when a new OS-dependent feature is spot on for a specific use case… though I can’t think of one those must exist). But really, only people with an agenda care.

    • “But really, only people with an agenda care.”
      If your “agenda” makes you care, then you care, which makes the statement tautological. You’re saying *you* don’t care, and that most of it isn’t important. But you also say there are OS-level things that do matter (granular permissions really matter to me and my family, for example; and you mentioned SD storage sandboxing, which is the source of the Fortnite problem). Dismissing your own indifference to OS updates doesn’t absolve Android of this endemic problem, which Birchler highlighted because a whole load of companies said they would update and then haven’t.
      You’re right that iOS doesn’t update individual apps as Android can via GPlay (that’s an iOS-level frameworks thing). That makes updating really important for iOS, certainly.

      • I’m saying 90+% of Android users don’t care (and when they do, it’s for bragging rights mostly), and that most of those who kick up a fuss about Android updates are not Android users.
        I’ve been approached by users wanting to get a Notch (not the 3D facial recognition inside the Notch, just a cutout in the screen, even an empty one, for the looks of it). I haven’t been approached about Pie or anything in it (well, more battery in general but they don’t know Pie has that).
        Of course, if you ask users “would you like / do you want the OS update…”, the answer is yes. If you say “… that phone has it, it costs an extra $30/10% compared to the exact same one on an older version”, the answer is then no. I’ve yet to deal with someone who is concerned about initial OS version, let alone update policy. I am, mildly, and that’s it.

  3. Also, the surprise at the OEMs taking a handful of months to port Android 9.0 is either very naive or very fake:
    1- OEMs customize Android. They don’t just add (crap) stuff to it, they actually change Google’s code for stuff like Notifications, Settings, Launcher, Multitasker… that takes time.
    1b- they also adapt their own apps to the new OS/UI.
    1c- Nobody cares about a few months’ delay. Except PR puppets.
    2- OEMs and Carriers don’t just compile and tweak OS code, they test and validate it. That takes time in any case, I’d bet the validation procedures haven’t changed (yet ?).
    3- Hackers who don’t bother changing anything, nor testing much, have released 9.0 for a bevy of devices: https://www.xda-developers.com/pixel-experience-project-treble-rom/ , https://download.pixelexperience.org/treble_gsi/ , and that’s just one (very small) team, there are others. That’s much more, and much faster, than before, for anyone who’s actually been following the topic.
    4- on that team’s page, notice the “download generic image” links. I’m not sure how well that actually works, but they feel at least semi-confident that, if a phone has Treble, a generic OS image will work. That’s never, ever, happened before.

    So:
    1- it seems Treble works as advertised, vanilla OS updates require very little work. Essential (they use a very vanilla Android) said it took them a few days.
    2- Newsflash, getting code to run is only part of the problem, tweaks and validation take time too. Doesn’t mean the bare code doesn’t run fine. It might mean OEMs’ custom stuff is even less desirable than before if that’s possible. It’s been a while since OEM have added real value, I’d say the last was Huawei’s EMUI doing per-app post-install permissions management 2-3 years ahead of mainstream Android, around 2013; before that Samsung did KNOX, pen, and Windowing. Today, maybe DeX ? Anyhow, Samsung taking months to release Pie doesn’t mean that it took months for Pie to run, but that Samsung added months of (make-)work to a straightforward task.
    3- a handful of months of delays don’t matter anyway, what matters is lower cost for OEMs to create new devices, and to update older devices. And eventually getting the update.

    That blogger is tackling the issue from a skewed angle (OS updates don’t matter that much); he is being surprised at unsurprising stuff (yep, OEMs tweak and add code, then test, then carriers test and that takes time); overlooking the technical validation of hackers indeed now porting vanilla Pie fast, easily, and a lot; and missing the much lower cost / potential longer support forest for the “but 4 months !” tree.

    Other than that, a fine post.

  4. re. Tesla, as I get older I’m getting convinced that the softer stuff (company culture) matters more than the harder stuff (technological, financial, logistics, marketing prowess). Apple broke through because they got that consumer IT (in the form of a phone) needed to be easy + sexy, while the incumbents remained fixated on features and could never pivot to gestalt, usability… Designers vs engineers.

    In Mr. Evans’ fascinating piece, the only deeply cultural topic is the one about a car’s dashboard reflecting its maker’s org chart. I’m not sure it’s as weighty as Apple’s breakthrough, or that their competition is as lost in their own navels as Apple’s was. Cars have been at least partly marketing/design driven for a while, I’m not sure carmakers will get as mired in their past products and processes as RIM/Nokia/Palm were.

    Also, the OEM infrastructure for cars is embryonic while that for phones was strong thanks to PCs. This adds a lot of work to upstarts’ plate. Then again, it also lowers the chance of an Android coming out of left field to gobble up most market share. Ask Leeco ^^

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