Breakfast Briefing: webOS rises again, Microsoft's App Store stand-off, Gmail outage crashes Chrome

Australians brand iPhone mapping dangerous as users go walkabout

11 Dec 2012

Today's technology stories include another revamp for webOS, an App Store spat between Microsoft and Apple, how a Gmail outage hit Chrome users and iPhone users lost in the Bush.

webOS to rise from the ashes

MIT's Technology Review reports on a new lease of life for webOS, the much-admired but little-used OS developed by Palm and killed off by HP. A team of volunteers working for a startup called Phoenix International Communications has been working on bringing the software back from the dead, and is planning to make it compatible with the latest smartphone hardware ahead of a possible handset launch in 2013. The developers would attempt to overcome the knotty issue of building an app ecosystem by using OpenMobile to port Android apps onto webOS.

Microsoft and Apple in App Store stand-off

Apple and Microsoft are locked in an impasse over the 30% slice of in-app revenue that Apple wants to charge people using SkyDrive. According to The Next Web, Microsoft is trying to get an update to its storage service app that would fix a crashing bug, but won't be able to do so unless it agrees to pay Apple 30% of the revenue, as the App Store rules state. The tussle highlights the problem of in-app purchase commissions that are charged on top-up storage, because they are billed solely through Apple's system.

"Microsoft does not appear keen to pay Apple the 30% cut, as it lasts in perpetuity, regardless of whether a user continues to use an iOS device or not, as the billing is through their Apple account," The Next Web points out.

Gmail outage drags down Chrome

The brief Gmail outage that affected users yesterday had some unexpected side effects, according to The Atlantic, which pointed out that the cloud service glitch also caused the Chrome browser to crash - something we witnessed here at the PC Pro offices too.

The cause is unclear, although we suspect it has something to do with Chrome being unable to reach the servers that handle browser synchronisation.

The story quoted author and technologist Robin Sloan as saying: "Weird to think an error in some data centre can reach its quavering tentacle into your laptop and bring down one of your apps." Weird indeed.

McAfee watch

Antivirus pioneer John McAfee is hoping to head to the US following his troubled time in Central America. Having escaped Belize, where authorities were looking to question him concerning a neighbour's death, McAfee is currently in a Guatemalan detention centre after entering the country illegally. Now he just wants to head for the States.

"Our intent is to return to America and settle down to whatever normal life we can settle down to under the circumstances," he said in a broadcast reported by The Telegraph. "I simply would like to live comfortably day by day, fish, swim, enjoy my declining years."

Well wouldn't we all, just perhaps not next door to Mr McAfee.

Apple Maps now officially dangerous

Our favourite news of the day comes from Wired, which recounts the bizarre tale of Apple Maps repeatedly leading Australian travellers wildly (literally) astray.

"The bewildered travellers had been looking for Mildura, a rural city with a population of just 30,000," Wired reports. "Imagine their surprise when they ended up in Murray Sunset National Park, a vast area of more than 6,000 square kilometres where the population is mainly made up of rare fauna and birds.

"Having found themselves 70km off-course in what the app said was downtown Mildura, the motorists were left without food and water, on some occasions, for up to 24 hours. Oblivious to the reason behind their predicament, they would walk miles further off course, away from their vehicles, looking for a phone signal."

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