Jolicloud users, get ready for an HTML5 User Interface

Jolicloud is a popular Ubuntu Netbook Remix fork and takes things a step further up by creating an awesome UI based on HTML5.  HTML5 has extensive support for creating awesome apps and the new launcher in Jolicloud, version 1.0 has been created completely in HTML5.

Jolicloud has come a long way and has released remarkable distros with the release of each of Ubuntu Netbook Remix. This time though, they are going for cloud storage and synchronization across all machines on which Jolicloud is installed. This makes installing apps, an install once and use anywhere phenomenon. Equally, files can be shared using Dropbox and other file sharing services.

The app center has over 700 apps for you to check out. Moreover, it comes pre-installed with apps for Gmail, Skype, Twitter and Firefox. This makes Jolicloud a better Netbook OS. The updates should start rolling out next week.

See this video to have a better view of the new look and features.

Cant see the video? Watch it at YouTube here.
(Source)

YouTube Mobile Supports HTML5 Videos on iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch And Other Mobiles

The fight between videos and Flash videos has been going on for a long time. Of course Flash has the upper edge with the videos right now because of features it has. On the other hand, HTML5 videos are still in its infancy with support for only few codecs.

YouTube Mobile Version YouTube Mobile Browser Videos

However, has been working with HTML5 videos for a while now and have now rolled out HTML5 videos on their mobile platform. This means that you can now watch YouTube videos on Safari on your , and devices. Sweet right.

YouTube Mobile Search Suggestions

In addition to being able to play HTML5 videos, YouTube mobile player is also faster than the earlier one and also incorporates a larger and more touch-friendly elements making it easier to access videos on your mobile phone. YouTube mobile now also supports search suggestions (see screenshot above) and allows users to like, unlike and favorite videos from your mobile device.

According to the Google, YouTube has grown over 160% in 2009 YoY and are now playing more than 100 million videos on mobile devices a day, this is roughly equal to the number of daily playbacks YouTube.com did in 2006. Currently YouTube.com does over 2 billion video views per day.

To access the new HTML5 player on your iDevice or other mobile devices which have a HTML5 compliant browser, just head over to m.youtube.com and try out the new video player. Watch a video of the new YouTube Mobile in action or visit the official announcement post here.

Mozilla Backing VP8 For Inclusion Into HTML5 Video

Mozilla is trying to incorporate the VP8 codec of WebM video into the HTML5 web video specification.

webm

Mozilla Chief Executive John Lilly, replied on being asked about this saying,

We’d love for VP8 to be specified in the HTML5 standard. Once it’s in the spec, it can really get better traction from other players.

This is a bold move by Mozilla as most other browsers are in support of H.264 currently. If this change is made, adding videos into web pages will be as easy as adding jpeg images. The current implementation of HTML5 video has no standard for video encoding and requires the web page developer to incorporate all popular web formats for the video in the page to be available across all browsers.

Before Google released VP8, there was tough competition between H.264, preferred by Apple and Microsoft, and Ogg Theora, backed by Mozilla and Opera. Now, with its better quality and open source nature, VP8 has better winning prospects in this race.

The next move Mozilla needs to make is to get some allies to support VP8 alongside itself. VP8 already sees some favor from W3C which says,

WebM/VP8 has the potential of providing a solution for the baseline video format of HTML5.

Apart from Mozilla and a part of W3C, Microsoft also supports VP8 and we too expect to see VP8 as the default HTML5 video.
(Source)

WebM: Why We Should Be Excited

WebM-Open-Video-Codec Google has just unveiled WebM – an open source royalty free codec based on VP8 by On2. If everything goes according to (Google’s) plans, WebM would become the de-facto standard for HTML5 videos. In the past, I have emphasized on numerous occasions the need for an open codec – both on TechieBuzz and on my personal blog.

Until now, two codecs were being considered for use with the <video> tag – H.264 and Theora. Unfortunately, there are considerable problems with both. While Ogg Theora is royalty free and open source, it is a technically inferior codec. Not only are the file sizes generated by Ogg Theora larger, but it also lacks hardware acceleration support. The latter is critical for mobile devices like the iPad and the the iPhone. H.264 is a superior codec, but it is proprietary. If it becomes the prevalent codec, we would be held hostage to MPEG-LA’s goodwill.

If you believe that this doesn’t affect you, then think again. MPEG-LA is legally entitled to collect royalty from both content distributors as well as (commercial) content providers. Yes, they have decided to waiver this fee til 2015. However, there is nothing stopping them from changing their minds after the initial grace period is over.

WebM offers a way out. It is a media project encompassing both audio and video. While the video codec is based on VP8 codec by On2 (Theora is based on VP3), Vorbis will be used for delivering audio. The container format is based on a subset of the Matroska media container.

WebM will be initially supported by Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox and Opera. While Chrome had earlier chosen to support both H.264 and Theora, the latter two had opted against using the patent encumbered H.264. Now the big question is, will Apple and Microsoft back WebM?

My guess is that Microsoft will make Internet Explorer WebM compliant in time. The biggest thorn in Google’s way may be Apple. Apple has been pushing hard in favor of H.264. In fact, recently Steve Jobs had issued a thinly veiled threat against Theora. His exact words being, “A patent pool is being assembled to go after Theora and other open sourcecodecs now”.

The biggest advantage WebM has is Google and its might. While, MPEG-LA would like to go after any open codec it considers a threat, Google is a formidable target. WebM will also be getting a huge initial impetus in form of YouTube compatibility. Numerous major players have already pledged to support WebM. Besides the aforementioned browser vendors, hardware manufacturers like AMD, ARM, Broadcom, Freescale, NVIDIA, Qualcomm, and Texas Instruments will be backing the new technology. Adobe will also be supporting WebM through Flash.

If you want to get a taste of WebM go ahead and download the experimental builds of Mozilla Firefox or Opera. Google Chrome builds with WebM should be released on May 24.

[ Download Opera and Mozilla Firefox with WebM ]

Google, Opera And Mozilla Announce New Competitor To H.264 – WebM

At Google I/O Google, Mozilla and Opera have announced a new alternative for video content in HTML5.

The video codec for HTML5 has been a major bone of contention with Apple siding with H.264 instead of Ogg. Microsoft has offered support for H.264 too. Today, Google, Mozilla and Opera have come up with another alternative to this debate. Known as WebM, the format is based on the VP8 technology Google acquired with On2 Technologies. CNET reports that the audio uses Ogg Vorbis.

Given that the video codec to be used with HTML5 hasn’t been finalised and browser makers are free to use their own, Opera, Firefox and Chrome will be using WebM. The format seems to have a massive momentum behind it with the three major cross-platform browsers behind it.

Google has also released documentation on WebM:

Opera has a blog post about their plans for WebM and have committed to the format for their mobile and desktop browsers.

You can download Opera builds of WebM for Windows, Ubuntu and Mac OS X as of now:

Windows:

Mac:

Linux (currently limited to Ubuntu support):

Update: VP8 is a royalty free and completely open source video codec.

Update #2: Adobe just announced support for VP8 in Flash. Looks like Flash might not be dying so soon after all.

Update #3: Download the Nightly Firefox build with WebM here.

Scribd Joins Microsoft and Apple in Ditching Flash for HTML5

We told you earlier that Flash and HTML5 are going to battle it out in 2010. Well, the heat is on and it seems like Flash isn’t gaining much ground right now except may be Android’s support. In a recent blow, the popular document sharing service Scribd has decided to ditch flash and adopt the new HTML5 standard.

Scribd CTO claims that HTML5 provides a dramatically better reading experience compared to Flash. But let’s face it, as a major we service, they would not want to miss out on the iPad frenzy by keeping up with flash. Previously, Apple and Microsoft have also openly denounced flash as an inferior technology than HTML5 and have decided to convert to HTML5 for all their applications.

Scribd hosts tens of millions of documents so it will take a little bit of time to convert all of them, but they have already started doing so. By implementing HTML5, the documents will no longer be enclosed in a box or a frame, but every document will be like a separate web page. Almost all major browsers will be able to read Scribd’s documents and documents will still be embeddable in other sites using an iFrame.

With Adobe still firm in defending Flash against HTML5, the war is anything but over.

Xiph.Org Foundation Responds To Steve Jobs’ Threat: “Creative Individuals Don’t Really Like to Give Their Business to Jackbooted Thugs”

Monty Montgomery of Xiph.Org Foundation has responded to Steve Job’s threat. Xiph is the foundation responsible for taking care of Ogg, Theora and many other codecs. If you have missed the on-going codec wars, now would be a good time to catch up. Check out our previous article on Steve Job’s veiled threat to Theora before proceeding.

Here is Montgomery’s response:

Thomson Multimedia made their first veiled patent threats against Vorbis almost ten years ago. MPEG-LA has been rumbling for the past few years. Maybe this time it will actually come to something, but it hasn’t yet. I’ll get worried when the lawyers advise me to; i.e., not yet.

The MPEG-LA has insinuated for some time that it is impossible to build any video codec without infringing on at least some of their patents. That is, they assert they have a monopoly on all digital video compression technology, period, and it is illegal to even attempt to compete with them. Of course, they’ve been careful not to say quite exactly that.

If Jobs’s email is genuine, this is a powerful public gaffe (‘All video codecs are covered by patents.’) He’d be confirming MPEG’s assertion in plain language anyone can understand. It would only strengthen the pushback against software patents and add to Apple’s increasing PR mess. Macbooks and iPads may be pretty sweet, but creative individuals don’t really like to give their business to jackbooted thugs.

Montgomery’s comment is both straight to the point and piercing. He is right in highlighting the fallacy of software patents. Instead of encouraging competition and innovation, they promote bullying and stifle the little guy. It’s ironic that Apple is trying to portray itself as open and also going after an open source project like Theora at the same time.

Update: Xiph’s Greg Maxwell has also responded to this controversy by trying to clear up the FUD (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt) that companies like Apple and Microsoft are trying to generate around open codecs like Theora. You can read his take over here.

Steve Jobs: A Patent Pool Is Being Assembled to Go After Theora

Apple Most of you have probably read Steve Jobs’ thoughts on Flash. It was undoubtedly an entertaining read. He was spot on about Flash being a closed platform, which has a poor security and stability track record. Yet, anyone with an analytical mind could not help but notice the hypocrisy inherent in the letter by Apple chief.

OSNews has already done a brilliant job at dissecting the letter and illustrating Jobs’ ‘holier than thou’ attitude, so I won’t be repeating the same points over here. Even Fake Diary of Steve Jobs succeeded in highlighting the shortcomings in Jobs’ reasoning – albeit in its own tongue in cheek way. Both of them are highly recommended reading.

Anyway, Steve Jobs’ open letter prompted Hugo Roy to write another open letter to Jobs’, to which Mr. Roy surprisingly enough received a reply. You can find both Hugo’s letter and Jobs’ reply over here. Here I am concerning myself only with Jobs’ reply.

From: Steve Jobs
To: Hugo Roy
Subject: Re:Open letter to Steve Jobs: Thoughts on Flash
Date 30/04/2010 15:21:17

All video codecs are covered by patents. A patent pool is being assembled to go after Theora and other open sourcecodecs now. Unfortunately, just because something is open source, it doesn’t mean or guarantee that it doesn’t infringe on others patents. An open standard is different from being royalty free or open source.

Sent from my iPad

(emphasis mine)

If I am not completely misreading things, Steve Jobs’ letter seems to strongly hint that Theora may soon face a patent infringement lawsuit. If you are wondering why Theora matters, check out my post on the recent codec squabble. In brief, browser vendors haven’t managed to agree on the codec to be used for the HTML5 <video> tag. The two major codecs being considered are H.264 and Ogg Theora. While Opera and Firefox are backing the open source Ogg Theora, Safari and Internet Explorer have pledged to go with the proprietary H.264 codec. Google Chrome supports both.

Theora is built on On2’s VP3, which was open sourced and handed over to the Xiph.Org Foundation. Most of the patents related to video codecs are owned by MPEG LA. So, in all likelihood it is playing an active role in gathering the afore mentioned patent pool. Interestingly enough, Apple is also a part of MPEG LA. MPEG LA is also the firm which stands to benefit if H.264 becomes the de-facto standard for web video. It’s not very hard to see the interrelation among the recent developments. I would leave it up to you to draw your own conclusions, but one thing is sure – the codec squabble will only get murkier.

RIM Unveils The Blackberry 6 OS

RIM just announced the Blackberry 6 OS at the ongoing WES 2010. The new Blackberry 6 OS features multi touch support, a new HTML 5 compatible web-kit based web browser, a brand new UI and a cover flow like music player.

RIM did not mention anything about the new features of the upcoming OS, but some information did leak out. The new OS will feature a brand new homescreen, along with smooth transitions and new pop-up menus. The Messaging and the Gallery application of the phone have also been revamped. It is also said that the web browser will support multiple tabs. The phone supports pinch zooming as well. The new OS is also more touch optimized.

The company also released a demo video of the new OS at their official youtube channel.


New Features In iPhone OS 4

The Apple event just ended and Apple has announced the highly anticipated iPhone OS 4. First and foremost the new OS introduces multitasking. Apple has made sure that multitasking is not a big battery drain or a resource hogger. The application running in the background will have access to only seven selected services. This basically means applications which need any of these seven services can only support multitasking.

The Home button is used to switch between the running applications. Another major change in the iPhone OS 4 is the upgraded version of the Mail application. Sadly, except for the iPhone 3G and the iPod Touch 3rd generation, no other models support multitasking.

The Mail application now features a unified mailbox, along with threaded email conversations. Users can now also download attachments and open them via applications from the App Store. A good piece of news for the Corporate users is that they can now set up more than one Exchange account setup. Apple also announced the iBooks application for the iPhone. The iBooks application has been a huge success on the iPad and thus Apple has released an iPhone compatible version of it.

Apple iPhone OS 4

Another good piece of news for the Corporate users is the support for Exchange Server 2010, SSL VPN support. Developers can now also encrypt the data present inside the application for more safety. One of the lamestfeature of the new iPhone OS 4 is the home screen wallpaper. The OS also brings Game Center a service which targets the likes of Microsoft Xbox Live service.

The major tentpolefeature of the iPhone OS 4 is the iAd platform from Apple. This platform will allow developers who publish free applications on the App Store to earn some revenue. The iAd demo from Steve definitely looked interesting. An interesting thing to note about the iAd platform is that it uses HTML5 instead of Flash.

Other notable features include the ability to create Folders, 5x digital zoom, Create Playlists, Bluetooth Keyboard and Persistent Wi-Fi even in sleep mode. Except for the iAd platform, the iPhone OS 4 does not introduce any innovative feature. Everything Steve Jobs introduced in iPhone’s OS 4 today, is already being done by other mobile phone operating system present in the market.

A developer preview version of the iPhone OS 4 is already available at developer.apple.com. The iPhone 3GS will get the iPhone OS 4 update this summer, while the iPad will get it this fall.