SiliconFilter

Google’s Gospel of Speed: “We Don’t Plan on Stopping Until the Web is Instant”

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Google loves speed. From Instant Search to SPDY, its nascent replacement for the ubiquitous TCP protocol, quite a bit of what the company does these days has to do with speed. Google does this for good reasons. As Urs Hoelzle, the senior VP for infrastructure at Google notes in the latest edition of the company's decidedly slow quarterly magazine "Think Quarterly," just a 400ms delay in delivering search results leads to a 0.44% drop in search volume. The average web page today takes 4.9 seconds to load according to Hoelzle – that's a lot of time for people to move on before the page has ever loaded. For Google's engineers, then, the "Gospel of Speed" is supported by one simple rule: never to launch a feature that slows things down.

The latest beta version of Chrome now features pre-rendering of some web pages while you type the URL, for example. As Hoelzle rightly notes, all of Google's efforts won't matter much, after all, if you are taken right back into the "slow lane" when you click on a link on a search results page.

Google's final goal, according to Hoelzle: "We don’t plan on stopping until the web is instant, so that when you click on a link the site loads immediately, and when you play a video it starts without delay."

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1:26 pm


Apple is Not Disabling Non-Developer Devices with iOS 5. Here’s What’s Really Happening

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Rumor: Apple is disabling non-developers iDevices running iOS5 beta versions. Truth: iOS 5 beta 1 and 2 expired last night – disabling those devices until they are upgraded.

Last night at 6pm PT, my decidedly non-developer iPhone running the iOS 5 beta 1 suddenly reset and went back into the activation mode, but wouldn’t allow me to set it up again. Once plugged into iTunes, my computer told me that the operating system on my phone was outdated and needed to be updated. That’s what I did, then restored from backup and things went back to normal (after a few tense moments during which I thought my phone had indeed become a very expensive paperweight).

What Really Happened: The Early iOS 5 Betas Expired Last Night

Fast forward to today and suddenly lots of rumors are flying around (and getting re-reported without much extra thought) that Apple is supposedly cracking down on those folks who are running non-developer devices running the iOS 5 betas. That’s simply not the case. What’s simply happening here is that the early beta versions of iOS 5 expired last night. There is nothing more nefarious going on here than that.

As I reported early this year, though, no other beta version of iOS was ever as widely installed as this one, as rogue activation services now make it very easy for anybody to get a phone’s (or iPod touch’s) UDID activated by a developer who wants to make some extra money.

That’s exactly what happened here as well. Chances are that most of the devices that reset yesterday were owned by users who paid between $5 and $10 to one of these developers (Apple gives 100 activation slots to every registered developer). Those users – just like me – were also less likely to install any of the subsequent beta versions on their phones. After all, you can never be quite sure if Apple didn’t figure out what was going on and kill those developers’ accounts, leaving you with the hassle of downgrading your phone.

How to Reactivate a “Bricked” iOS 5 Beta Phone

Now, if you installed iOS 5 using the trick that quickly made the rounds just after the release of the first beta and completely bypassed the UDID activation service, you are likely out of luck. You will have to put your phone into DFU mode and downgrade to iOS 4 again. Otherwise, just download the iOS 5 beta 3 or 4, restore your phone with it and you’ll be good to go (assuming Apple didn’t deactivate the account of the friendly developer who sold you your activation – in that case, just downgrade to iOS 4 as well).

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10:02 pm


iOS 5 Beta: So Widely Available Already, Users Leave Negative iTunes Reviews When Apps Crash

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The first developer-only beta version of iOS 5 has only been out for about a week, but it’s already clear that no other pre-release version of iOS has ever seen a wider release beyond the developer community than this one. It’s hard to pinpoint why this is the case, but there are clearly enough users who either paid $99 per year to become part of Apple’s developer program or who paid a rogue activation service a few dollars to get access to the beta that way. As iOS developer Malcom Barclay notes, this wide release has some interesting consequences for developers: some users are now leaving negative iTunes reviews for apps that don’t work on iOS 5 yet.

Ios 5 crashed please fix

Will Apple Crack Down on Fake Developer Accounts and Activation Resellers?

Few companies keep their betas under tighter wraps than Apple and the $99 developer fee has generally kept regular users from just installing a beta out of curiosity. Now, however, the rogue beta activation market continues to grow and even a $99 fee isn’t much of a deterrent anymore for those who really want to get the latest and greatest from Apple a few weeks early. Sadly, it seems some of these users don’t understand the meaning of the word ‘beta’ anymore.

It will be interesting to see if Apple will try to crack down on rogue installs when it’s ready to test the next major version of iOS. There’s little the company can do about those who want to pay $99, but we may see higher fees for developers who want to activate additional UDIDs (currently, every developer account comes with 100 additional activations for beta tests – a loophole that resellers then exploit).

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10:51 pm


Rogue Activation Services Let You Try iOS 5 Today

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Theoretically, only developers currently have access to the latest version of Apple’s iOS 5 software for the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. In reality, however, getting access to beta versions of iOS has never been easier for non-developers. Getting the software (which is easily available if you know how to use Google) is just one part of the process, though. Your phone’s UDID also has to be registered with Apple.

The easiest way to do that is to get a $99 developer account, but for most people, that’s a lot of money just to try out some beta software. Because of this, a large market for rogue iOS activations that allows virtually anyone who is wiling to risk their phone and $5 to $10 is currently flourishing. Some of these services have been around for a while, though most started around the time of the lengthy iOS 4 beta test.

There is, of course, also a well-known way to bypass the activation process altogether by performing a number of well-timed clicks and swipes, but that method leaves the phone part of your iPhone unusable. Using the paid rogue activation method leaves you with a fully functioning device without having to pay $99 for an Apple developer account.

How do these services work? Apple allows every developer to activate a set number of additional iPhones. These rogue activation services simply set up a developer account and then activate as many phones as they can (you have to send them your UDID when you request your activation).

Consider the Risks

There are obviously some risks involved here. Clearly you’re sending money to somebody who may or may not perform the service you requested. I hesitate to link to any of these services here, but if you decide to go this route, make sure to check what others are saying about them on the Web and on Twitter. Besides losing your money (generally between $5 and $10), you also run the risk of bricking your phone (at least temporarily until you can find somebody else who will activate your UDID on his developer account) as you can’t know for sure that your phone’s UDID was activated until you have installed the beta software. Most of these services will email you once they have activated your account, but you have to take them at their word that this is indeed the case.  

As usual, use common sense and proceed at your own risk.

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1:45 am


Firefox 6 Now in Alpha: Introduces New Developer and Privacy Tools

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Mozilla’s new rapid release schedule remains on track. Firefox 5 is now in beta and, right on schedule, Firefox 6 is now entering its development cycle. The next version of Firefox will introduce a number of new tools for both regular users and developers. The alpha version of Firefox 6 Mozilla launched today introduces a new experimental privacy feature called the Data Management Window, an enhanced add-ons manager and some new features for Panorama. For developers, Mozilla is introducing a new feature for quickly building and testing JavaScript snippets in the browser, as well as enhancements to the Web Console and a new Web Developer menu that makes it easier to access these tools from the Firefox menu button. (more…)



8:32 pm