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* Posts by ThomH

1969 posts • joined 18 Jun 2009

Samsung seeks bans on the iPhone 4S

ThomH
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If Siri isn't available, they can still use voice recognition

Siri isn't voice recognition and the iPhone has had normal, offline voice recognition built in for years. Arguing that Siri is voice recognition is like arguing that because Safari uses the touchscreen, the touchscreen isn't available when the user is offline.

So, in contrast to the GSII or Desire Z, a hypothetical user will find that Siri is available when online rather than not available at all under any circumstances.

Based on the demonstration and the simple obvious facts, a real user will quickly find that they don't want to use either Siri or voice recognition, both being essentially useless marketing puff. They'll subsequently then fail to notice whether the service is available on the handset they happen to own on the connection they currently have.

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Ten reasons why you shouldn't buy an iPhone 5

ThomH
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Embracing the adversarial system?

You wouldn't expect an article entitled "Ten reasons why you shouldn't buy an iPhone 5" to be a balanced summary. In fact you would expect it explicitly not to include any arguments in favour whatsoever. It's just a summary of the arguments in favour of a viewpoint; the conclusion precedes the discussion.

Obviously I'm confident that the opposing case will be forthcoming. Our favourite irreverent technical publication wouldn't descend to taking sides, surely?

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Chrome browser 'is becoming Number Two'

ThomH
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Per the linked articles

StatCounter don't consider the iPad to be mobile. Their iPhone + iPod Touch share is 23.93%. Their number for Opera's share across all mobile versions (ie, Mini + Mobile + the various fringe versions like that in the Nintendo DS) is 22.8%. Nokia come in third with 16.51%, then BlackBerry on 14.28% and finally Android on 12.85%.

Net Applications count the iPad as mobile and don't combine Opera versions the numbers are arguably skewed — 55.6% to Safari, 18.9% to Opera Mini, 16% to Android and 4.7% to the Symbian browser.

The disparity on Nokia/Symbian numbers is the oddest thing. I think Android's showing is consistent with the way many Android devices are sold, i.e. without cheap data. People can want to use apps and have a decent browser available just in case without intending to browse often when out and about.

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Amazon to whup Apple rivals when Kindle Fire hits UK

ThomH
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Not just the Apple price point

They tried to sell near identikit products, in HP's case with significantly reduced functionality, at the same price point as the runaway market leader. Amazon seem to be the first company to have hit on the idea of doing a device that is both distinct and priced attractively.

Unless Microsoft do something really amazing, my feeling is that it's a two-horse race from here on out. The interesting thing will be whether Amazon's forked Android slowly diverges from the Google original on technical grounds so as to make it effectively a different target.

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ThomH
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Looking at precedent

The Kindle 3 launched in the US at $189 (sans tax; see the many articles on Amazon's US avoidance of sales taxes) and the UK at £152 (fully taxed), both back in July last year. At the time the exchange rate was around $1.50 to the pound and VAT was 17.5%, so a literal translation of the US price with no other adjustments would have been about £148.

I therefore think it's likely we'll get a pretty accurate conversion rate for the Fire.

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New iPhone offered for sale via unauthorised outlets

ThomH
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No you don't

You might want to catch up on the announced iOS 5 features.

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Apple to Oz court: ‘Our products are lame, really’

ThomH
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@Phalamir: more likely to be about quantification

Without being strong on Australian law, I would expect the argument (which I'm not necessarily endorsing, voters) went: Samsung should face measures because they use technology covered by our patents without permission; if you accept that we are entitled to relief because of the patent infringement then such relief should be to bar them from the market because otherwise we lose out very significantly.

So Apple aren't arguing that Samsung's wrong is taking away potential customers, they're arguing that Samsung's wrong is patent infringement. Only if that wrong is established then will the other comments become relevant.

Of course, El Reg's story is correct: if Apple think that a customer lost once is a customer lost forever then they don't sound that confident in their products.

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Amazon intros $199 movie Kindle

ThomH
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Best of a bad set of options

The touch screens employed by other readers require something to be attached above the display. That reduces clarity a little, which is really important when you're trying to sell to people who value the printed page. I guess they've gone infrared because it looks over the screen from the edges. It also needn't necessarily be one of those cheap trip-the-wire things they had in the 80s, since doing it optically with two or three 1d cameras is now completely viable economically.

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ThomH
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That's not a problem

While I was in the US I was able to use my UK Amazon account to order purchases to a US address, even while keeping my UK address as the billing address linked to my card. So you should be able to head to amazon.com, order whatever you want and have it delivered to your brother-in-law.

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PlayBook stock mountain: RIM slashes prices

ThomH
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What are you talking about?

It's a name sure to attract every fan of basketball or American football living in the UK.

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Star Trek TNG revamped for Blu-ray in 2012

ThomH
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"exactly as they first aired"

Is that in the sense of exactly as they first aired as long as you didn't look at any of the bits they've almost certainly cropped or stretched to make a widescreen image?

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Schoolteachers can't teach our kids to code, say engineers

ThomH
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@Leigh Brown

There's one in the Window of the Maplin on the north side of Waterloo bridge, so presumably you can buy them at Maplin.

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WikiLeaks memoir races to 537th on bestseller chart

ThomH
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Per http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/3493498/Katie-Price-book-outselling-Gordon-Browns.html Katie Price was still managing to sell almost 1,000 copies every three days of 'Pushed to the Limit' (described as "the latest instalment of the model’s autobiography") after 10 months on the market.

Per the report linked to by El Reg, the best selling book last week — One Day — managed to sell about 14,443 copies every three days.

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ThomH
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Not especially surprising

Wikileaks published highly compelling evidence that a bunch of agencies that operate effectively above the law were — quelle surprise — acting as though above the law. If, like me, you think that greater accountability leads to better governance then that's a good thing. There's the counter-argument that what they did was likely to endanger actual operatives currently in the field and to negatively bias diplomatic relationships. I'm optimistic that the input of outlets like The Guardian will have caused the advantages to outweigh the disadvantages but the truth is that we'll probably never have a complete picture.

That all being said, Assange has always come off as so ostentatiously trying to benefit personally from the Wikileaks disclosures that you have to wonder about his motives. Not only do I not for a second believe that he's acting altruistically, but I don't even see him as an important component of the Wikileaks story. He didn't found the organisation and it's pretty obvious that not only do they not really need a public face but that even if they did they'd have been able to pick from a thousand others.

I'm therefore not really sure why I'd want to read a biography — he's a person with mostly negative traits that hasn't had any original ideas or built anything significant.

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Android outsells Apple 2:1

ThomH
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Quite a useful comparison

Per the text of the article, the figures show that:

(i) Android-aligned players dominate the market and Android's share continues to grow; but

(ii) not at the expense of Apple, which also continues to grow; whereas

(iii) RIM appears to be in decline.

This information is relevant and useful to us as IT professionals because the secondary markets (e.g., for application software) more or less break down along those same lines.

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Samsung plots 3G iPhone, iPad bans in the Netherlands

ThomH
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They'd just lose the business

Apple source screens and panels from multiple suppliers; all that would happen would be that somebody else would step up production. So Apple would be barely affected and Samsung would lose a lot of money.

Conversely, Samsung obviously have a government-granted monopoly on anything they've patented, so — without having an opinion about the merits of the case otherwise — it makes sense to kick back there.

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Why was Duke Nukem Forever s**t?

ThomH
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It was nothing like a game from 1998

Almost purely linear levels pushing you relentlessly from cut scene to cut scene are a much newer invention. As the cost of assets has gone up the temptation to limit the ability for the player to explore has raised proportionally, presumably in order to ensure that all the money is on show. A bog-standard shooter from 1998 would have been endless indistinguishable corridors and caves and an insistence on making you find coloured key cards and buttons.

As for the feedback, I notice they've stuck to asking how much you approve of Duke's style of humour rather than anything about the specific execution. So that's: "Well, obviously you have a problem with the style of content" as a counterargument to "It's just not funny".

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'iPhone 5' chippery captured on camera

ThomH
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It's 1420mAh

So 1430mAh wouldn't be a massive increase. Indeed, since that number comes from the tear downs that were carried out immediately after the device first launched it probably wouldn't even be surprising if Apple had silently substituted the one for the other in the existing model.

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Samsung preps anti-iPhone 5 lawsuit before it's even out

ThomH
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@Lars

That's simply untrue. Nokia sued first. See e.g. http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/10/22/nokia_sues_apple_iphone/ and, about a week later, http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/10/28/apple_will_fight_nokia/

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ThomH
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@hexx

Nah, it's just the point that Loyal Commanders makes is valid — there's a distinction between actionable copying (which relates to what's legally protectable and so invokes a whole bunch of other considerations) and merely following another company into a newly energetic segment of an existing market.

So if you want to establish that Samsung copied Apple then the test is: what have they done, that Apple did first, that wasn't obvious or taken from an even earlier source? I think multitouch gestures are the only potentially relevant thing (which Apple own by acquisition, but you get the idea), but Apple appear to be claiming ownership of the tablet form factor, the famous rounded corners, etc. So Samsung appear to be saying, you know, we've done a whole lot of hard graft engineering on radio technology and if you want to start being legal about it then bring it on.

I guess the iPhone 5 element is to threaten to hit Apple when it'll hurt them more and to make sure their threat gets the best possible airplay.

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ThomH
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Apple didn't start it, they just jumped in with unprecedented vigour. As far as I can make out, Nokia started it by suing Apple in 2009. Apple have since gone after HTC (starting in 2010) and Samsung (this year), neither company having previously had much of an interest in legal pursuits.

My phone's an iPhone, but I'm with Samsung on this one. I'm a turn the other cheek person in any situation with serious consequences, but I doubt this is anything more than rounding errors on the Samsung and Apple books, so letting Apple know that it can't bully everyone into submission feels like the right way forward.

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Apple MacBook Air 11in Core i5 notebook

ThomH
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The battery, presumably

Though 18 months may be a little bit of artistic licence. If Google is to be believed, the Airs ship with a lithium polymer battery, which normally means about 300 charge cycles. If you do a complete charge slightly more often than every other day then you get 18 months.

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How Apple's Lion won't let you trash documents

ThomH
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@tnovelli

You're quite right — no matter how much someone might want to buy a new Mac with 10.6 or earlier on it, nobody is able to supply that. So customers can't react to Lion in the same way as many reacted to Vista. However it's still worth drawing a distinction because most of the Vista story was customer reaction.

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ThomH
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Not a Vista for one important reason...

... its perceived faults haven't dented its sales figures. I wouldn't consider the comparison to be appropriate if the company doesn't see any response to its decisions.

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ThomH
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This isn't a way of protecting you from yourself

It's a versioning system, tacked on in such a way that the writer has found it to have at least one significant flaw. Apple's intention isn't to save you from accidental deletion, it's to retain extra historical information much like a common or garden source control repository. They just seem to have done a less than spectacular job of the implementation.

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Schoolkids learn coding at GCSE level in curriculum trial

ThomH
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@Arnold Liberman

I can tell you that Pascal (via Turbo Pascal, anachronistically) was still on the roster for Computer Science A-Level when I left sixth form in 1999. I don't recall any programming cropping up at GCSE level or earlier but there weren't any sort of computer-related courses at my school so that may not be typical.

At a guess, A-Level changes probably happened in or around the transition to fully separated AS and A2 curricula — around 2000.

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Google plan to kill Javascript with Dart, fight off Apple

ThomH
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It's the design pattern problem too

Though I guess if there were a standard library, that would set the tone for design patterns. So solving the one would solve the other.

That said, like you I think Google have picked the wrong direction. I'd have thought the best solution would be to pick any of the Javascript-with-extensions or compiles-to-Javascript languages like CoffeeScript, Objective-J, etc (but probably not those, I just picked some examples I'd heard of), produce a decent development kit for free and build that into their browser. So they win developers through good tools, the code works everywhere Javascript works, but in Chrome it works a lot faster and with less overhead. Let the market persuade the other browser vendors to built the language in and don't worry about companies like Microsoft that are perennially behind in implementing web technology support.

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Battery deal points to thinner, lighter iPad 3

ThomH
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It's because Apple aren't going to tell us

Apple are a prominent technology company, who are sometimes the first to succeed commercially in a field. They sell only about a dozen different products in total, so changes to any product are newsworthy. However they don't generally announce their plans in advance, so there's often speculation. Sites like El Reg like to carry stories that their readers will find interesting so they like to provide information that allows their readers to speculate.

So: gussying is caused by the official information vacuum.

Some companies don't adopt the same tactic because they're more connected to outside ecosystems, making it more likely that people would just feed on information supplied by another company instead and forget about them.

If you look at the phenomenon of vapourware you'll see that some companies have played exactly the other way — releasing information about products that they never launch, sometimes maliciously.

So it's definitely not true that everybody else would play it like Apple if they could, even if it is true that Apple's ability to get free publicity for doing absolutely nothing is enviable.

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HP Pre 3 webOS smartphone

ThomH
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More medium-termism

The original Pre launched in mid-2009, so WebOS has had more than two years to fail to reach a critical mass. Or nine quarters if you prefer to look at it that way.

It's sad and unfair that it's turned out like this, but compared to the Microsoft Kin or even to less extreme tech failures like the 3DO, the PowerMac G4 Cube or Google Wave it was actually given a reasonably decent amount of time to try.

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Galaxy Tab 7.7 pulled from IFA after new Apple moves

ThomH
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The Amazon tablet is the thing

Samsung, Motorola and the other big names have managed to get serious traction for Android in the mobile phone space because people already know they need a phone and Android handsets are very competitive. Conversely I think they're doing much more poorly with tablets because you have specifically to want one (because carriers aren't generally subsidising them so you're not very close to getting one either way) and people don't necessarily think they want a tablet. Apple's marketing machine here is a benefit because it isn't saying "you want us not them" so much as "here's a new type of thing you want".

I think Amazon are going to distinguish themselves by significantly reducing the price, by adapting a more sophisticated marketing drive than "you know those tablet things that Apple are on about, well we make one too you know" and by really promoting the thing through the single most popular storefront in the world today.

In a year it'll be Apple v Amazon. And supposing Amazon have forked Android and are paying Google nothing, they have neither the interest nor the legal right to attach the Android brand to their tablet so I don't foresee much of a halo effect.

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Elgato readies iPad 2 TV tuner dongle

ThomH
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@JEDIDIAH

Not only do I agree, but taking your thought further based on my actual usage I can't think of an occasion when the catch-up services aren't enough for me. I'm much more likely to spend money on any of the hundreds of devices that could put those on my [antiquated] TV than on getting broadcast television onto my digital devices.

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Windows 8 ribbon entangles Microsoft

ThomH
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@gerrg

I prefer Office to OpenOffice/LibreOffice because the ribbon allows me to navigate by shape. The traditional approach to toolbars long ago became a large grid of tiny icons that you have to inspect one by one. The pull-down-but-with-graphics approach of the Ribbon is much easier because the different sizing and positioning of buttons lets you approach the problem spatially, so that much more of it is innate rather than conscious.

In versions of Office long gone, I'd spent about 20 minutes after install just disabling toolbars and pointless toolbar icons to get to a state where navigation wasn't a chore. The old pull downs that hide unused features are actually a problem rather than a solution since every time you use one of the features you otherwise ignore for maybe 95% of the time the positioning of items is changed. So your navigation is off again.

And the standard rules of requiring user customisation apply: 90% aren't going to bother, you're going to be hampered every time you use anybody else's machine and you're going to spend a ridiculous amount of time syncing your various machines.

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Samsung 'mulls bid for' HP's orphaned webOS

ThomH
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Samsung don't see it how the bloggers see it

While a lot of the web paints the mobile OS space as a fight to the death, Samsung sees the OS as merely another component. To that end they've pursued a strategy of not allowing themselves to become dependent on any single supplier, so as to mitigate against risk. Their problem is that Bada is consciously designed to bring smart phone functionality to the feature phone tier and presents a relatively painful environment for developers as a result — nothing as low as the Symbian level but quite a few pegs down from the Java or C# end of the spectrum. If they were to buy or to licence WebOS, I imagine it'd be to provide greater diversity for their high end phones.

That said, like you I'm highly sceptical. Regardless of it's qualities, WebOS is a platform with a very poor track record in the market. I guess the question is whether Samsung feel both sufficiently emboldened and sufficiently restrained by Bada.

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Stephen on Steve: The most important man on Earth

ThomH
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Because we're already more than half way to forgetting Bill Gates?

Steve Jobs was one of the pioneers, on the front line during the early period when people were first pushing the radical idea that computers should be usable by anyone and sold to everyone. Whether you think he was unique or not, he was a suitably prominent member of a sufficiently small number of people that his position in history — like those of Gates, Sir Clive, Jack Tramiel and several others — is secure.

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Mac Lion blindly accepts any LDAP password

ThomH
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No, doesn't sounds like that

My reading was that LDAP is used as the login mechanism for machines; if you can supply suitable credentials then you can get to a desktop. That bit all works correctly, with the LDAP server giving a verdict.

OS X is then broken because if you get to another prompt that requires a machine password, like waking from sleep or performing a superuser operation if your user is set to have access to superuser stuff on that machine, it fails to verify with LDAP and just accepts whatever you type in. Meanwhile the user with actual credentials has already logged in, already gaining access to whatever else one keeps on an LDAP server.

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'Apple is not going to change,' new boss says

ThomH
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You're no lord

You are Liam Byrne MP and I claim my five pounds.

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ThomH
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News just in...

"Man who wants to make Apple sound uninventive only able to supply short list of Apple inventions"

I think Apple are more innovative than the market average but so are several others. In that list I'd include some of their direct competitors, such as Google and Microsoft.

If I had to think of a quality that makes Apple unique I'd be much more likely to pick uncompromising. I think that's the quality that makes their products either brilliant or worthless, depending on which side of the debate you're on.

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Samsung's iOS rival gets multitasking and HTML5

ThomH
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The SDK is awful though

For those that haven't experienced it, it's Eclipse based but available for Windows only, everything is done in C++ using vendor-specific memory management rules, an an odd proprietary alternative to STL (so you're supposed to use Samsung's custom classes for strings, arrays, hash maps, etc) and some weird usage conventions, such as two-stage constructors (ie, you're not meant to use the normal C++ constructor to do any construction, because someone at Samsung has decreed that exceptions are too costly to the processor).

The backstory, that Bada was designed and used purely internally for phones from 2004 onward, then opened up as best as it could be, is very credible.

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Apple wins (another) Samsung Android injunction in EU

ThomH
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@AC: check the article

"A Dutch court has warmed the hearts of Apple's patent Nazis, issuing a preliminary injunction against the sale of three Samsung Android phones"

This is a preliminary decision, just like that in the Galaxy Tab case. So the decisions made here are preliminary, exactly as in the Galaxy Tab case.

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ThomH
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@EyeCU: overstating your case

I think that in any argument like this, the concept of an invention becomes so debatable that you end up thinking nobody invented anything at any point.

For example, it's fact that Apple designed the Firewire port. But that's clearly just a development of the SCSI line of thought. Though on the other side, USB conceptually looks a lot like ADB, so should we award Apple credit for that?

How about the canvas tag? OpenCL? Pull-down menus? The modern laptop form? The Clang compiler front end? The scroll wheel?

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ThomH
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I disagree, but only slightly

If Apple were innovative, they would worry about things like this because patents exist to allow people who innovate to realise the benefit of their new methods, ideas or products.

The issues here are more whether the type of ideas in this particular case should be ownable and, if so, whether Apple owns them.

I end up being a moderate. The iPad's look shouldn't be a protectable form factor. Similarly, rounded icons are not some attempt at passing off. But some of the concepts that FingerWorks spent real money and time developing should be protectable (by Apple now by way of purchase) in a suitably constrained short term that I accept may already have passed.

Quickest way to spot a troll: look for anyone asserting simultaneously that Apple shouldn't have the patents because they've "stolen" all their ideas and Samsung should be in the clear because they haven't "stolen" anything.

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ThomH
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@AC: not quite that simple

It's pretty much a matter of record that Android's general format was heavily inspired by iOS, comparing the handsets demoed and photographed before the iPhone was announced and those afterwards.

That said, Google's position has almost always one contrary to restrictions on intellectual property so the fact that you can draw a line from the iPhone to Android for some features isn't an issue. There's no "well what about Google?" line to be taken here. I think the poster's point is that it is hypocritical for Apple simultaneously to borrow ideas from the competition and to try legally to block the competition from borrowing anything in return. Conversely it is not hypocritical for Google to borrow ideas from the competition and then not to kick up a fuss if ideas are borrowed back.

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ThomH
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They weren't thrown out

This is an interim judgment; the full case still has to be decided on the merits, so all of Apple's original claims are still part of the suit and will still be argued in front of the court.

To put it another way: the court hasn't told Apple that they're wrong, just that they're not sufficiently obviously right and that they'll return to the topic in the future.

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Steve Jobs resigns as Apple CEO

ThomH
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But he was forced out last time

So, last time, someone was determined to do something quite distinct from Jobs' ideas. This time I'd expect the company to try to continue to pursue exactly what Steve would have pursued.

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Just how will Apple restrict device-ID snooping in iOS 5?

ThomH
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Slightly better than that

Screenshots on other rumour sites indicate that Apple's suggested replacement is to generate a UUID (aka a GUID or IID) and store that in the user defaults (Apple's anachronistically named store of user preferences, on account of their main purpose in NextStep being to specify the default parameters of new documents).

User defaults are synchronised across devices, so a developer gets to track a single ownership of their application across multiple devices.

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ThomH
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Each iPhone will still have a UDID, too

It's just that, like the ESN is now, at some point it won't be accessible to applications. So it can't be used for tracking. So that's a privacy advancement.

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Nervous Samsung seeks Android Plan F. Or G, H ....

ThomH
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Absolutely, with caveats

It's a preliminary / temporary injunction, awarded in Germany and prima facie restrained Samsung from sale everywhere in the EU apart from the Netherlands but questions of jurisdiction have led to it being enforceable only in Germany at least until the next court date.

I haven't read the judgment myself and have seen an incredible stream of inaccurate reporting — the one that most sticks in the memory being a blog that wondered why a Dusseldorf court would think it can rule for the entire EU when Germany doesn't even currently hold the EU presidency — but I think the issue of contention is that while most of the EU has signed up for various unified intellectual property measures that would allow a final judgment to be enforced via local courts, nobody's sure where that leaves preliminary injunctions.

Preliminary injunctions tend to be a matter of process with no real investigation into merits, so that's fair. If a claimant applies and the court decides that, supposing everything they allege is true (ie, they get the benefit of the doubt with no real investigation into the dispute) then they have a real prospect of winning the case, they'll grant interim relief. And the EU agreements seek to make rulings enforceable, rather than unifying procedure.

Assuming German courts use that sort of test then it's not surprising Apple were granted relief and it's a massive gamble. If they lose in court they would likely end up owing Samsung for all economic losses incurred.

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Coders breathe Android into dead HP fondleslab

ThomH
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I think the 'underpowered' label is a response to...

... the news that surfaced over the weekend, on The Next Web, that "HP tested webOS on an iPad. It ran over twice as fast as the TouchPad" and, in the same story:

"With a focus on web technologies, webOS could be deployed in the iPad’s Mobile Safari browser as a web-app; this produced similar results, with it running many times faster in the browser than it did on the TouchPad."

The story refers to a current generation iPad 2 and claims that HP had the TouchPad hardware fully designed before they bought Palm, so "the TouchPad was a two-year old piece of hardware that the webOS team equipped with their tablet-friendly platform".

The reference cited is only "a source close to the subject" and makes it clear that the don't know what sort of testing produced those metrics in an appended update. So the story should be taken with a pinch of salt, but if true then it would justify calling the TouchPad underpowered given that it was priced at the same sort of level as the iPad 2.

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Windows Phone may be cheaper than Android - Inq boss

ThomH
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Cutting FAT32 would be a problem

Assuming I've not fallen for mere trolling, one of the things vocal Android proponents like is being able to plug their phone into the computer and manually copy music, movies, etc to it. FAT32 is really the only filing system that makes that easy and realistic across pretty much every USB sporting computer out there.

That being said, given that they use FAT32, properly following the DCIM spec would be nice. It's a bit pointless using a non-free standard and then improperly implementing a free standard on top of it.

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