Category: Android


WARNING: Factory Resetting your Android may leave private data on your device

It’s never fun to have to issue a warning, but a new study by the LA Times indicates that the Factory Reset function on Android devices may not work as advertised. The site worked with a security expert to run a test on BlackBerry, Android, and iOS devices as well as PCs. It discovered that important, sensitive data could be retrieved on a large portion of Android devices even after the Factory Reset feature had been properly used.

Robert Siciliano, an identity theft expert from McAfee performed the experiment, where he purchased 30 used devices (mostly smartphones and laptops) from random users on Craigslist. His goal was to see how smart people were about removing their personal information from phones, but as it turns out, even though a majority of owners did correctly Factory Reset their Android devices, he was still able to retrieve vital data like “Social Security numbers, child support documents, credit card account log-ins, and a host of other personal data.” This finding is all the more disturbing since he could find no problems with the way iPhones, iPads, or BlackBerry devices delete their data. The only other weak link was Windows XP, which is so old it’s almost expected.

We’ve reached out to Google’s Android team to try and learn more about this potential vulnerability, but have not heard back as of publication. We’ll update this article if and when we get some answers.

Until we learn more, we don’t recommend that you don’t sell your used Android devices to anyone that you don’t know or trust. It’s quite possible that personal information could be leaked from it.

Ryan: I’ve owned a couple Android phones and I also have the Galaxy Tab.. I am back to BlackBerry and using the 9900, I find Android Phones to drop calls and bug out with force close errors more often like I like when using a phone.  And I can’t seem to drop this keyboard.. emails are much quicker on a BlackBerry than other devices. It would be interesting if RIM decided to let other companies use their keyboard design.

Source: DigitalTrends

Tether: Wireless tethering for only $30 per year

For those of you constantly traveling and unable to access a Wi-Fi connection for your Mac or PC, but unwilling to dish out the $360 a year that some carriers will require for native tethering, you can download Tether’s application for $15 for the first year and $30 for the years following.

While jail breaking is one option for avoiding the cost of tethering, other people may find that paying $30 per-year is worth avoiding the hassle of hacking a phone. Plus, for those of us who have a tendency to drop our phones, voiding the warranty and keep customer support and geniuses at bay is also reason enough to avoid the hack — which is why Tether is such a great service.

Initially launched in November 2011, Tether was originally accepted into Apple’s iTunes App Store. But the app was taken down only a few days later because it violated Apple’s terms. Since then, the team had been creating a workaround. And now, they’ve unveiled the latest version of Tether, built using its patent-pending technology, made possible by HTML5. This time around, the team decided to forgo the app’s submission to Apple altogether, seeing as how acceptance into the iTunes App Store was highly unlikely. Instead, Tether is entirely We-based, letting it bypass Apple’s scrutiny.

The service is available for Blackberry, iPhone and Android, and will currently work for any carrier throughout the world. But it’s a game of cat and mouse. Once the major carriers discern how to distinguish a tethered phone using HTML5 from a non-tethered phone, Tether users will run the risk of being forcibly upgraded to the carrier’s tethering plan, or risk being charged extra for the data sent while being tethered to your computer as per the carrier’s terms of service.

Using Tether isn’t too difficult as the video below will show you. You’ll need to download and install the appropriate software for your operating system, and proceed to create an ad-hoc network on your computer by entering in a password (if desired) for the auto-generated SSID. Note that if once Tether is open on your desktop, your current Wi-Fi connection will be disabled to make way for the tethered connection.

On your phone, find and select the ad-hoc network from list of available Wi-Fi. Then, using your mobile browser, you will be required to log into your paid account on tether.com/web. After logging in, you’re tethered and able to browse the Web on your computer right away.

 

Source: DigitalTrends

Apple wins ‘device destroying’ injunction against Motorola

Apple, which continues to disrupt the mobile space with its patent litigation, has successfully won a case against rival Motorola, in which a photo management patent was infringed.

The German court ruling said that the “zoomed in” mode for viewing photos on Motorola’s Android handsets infringed the Apple-held patent, but not the “zoomed out” mode. EU Patent No. EP2059868 originally derived from another patent, which allowed photos to ‘bounce’ when they are over-scrolled; because people will attempt to claim anything nowadays.

FOSS Patents author Florian Mueller understands that Apple could order the destruction of devices if it chooses so.

“If Apple enforces the ruling, it can even require Motorola to destroy any infringing products in its possession in Germany and recall, at MMI’s expense, any infringing products from German retailers in order to have them destroyed as well.”

Having said that, Motorola played down the fears that devices could be subject to such ghastly ends by saying that doesn’t expect the ruling to affect future sales, and that it has “implemented a new way to view photos”, reports Bloomberg with a spelling mistake.

While Motorola can continue selling the devices, it did not comment on Mueller’s comments that would lead to ultimately the mass graves of Motorola phones. Motorola has said that it has already sought a workaround to prevent its smartphones from infringing Apple’s patent, thus rendering the court’s judgement effectively useless.

It appears from this, that not only is Germany a hot bed of patent activity, litigation — and frankly, trolling — but while one company sues another, the defendant in each case is more often than not forced to simply modify the software of the phones.

If you thought the patent wars were all in Apple’s favour, you would be wrong. It was just over a week ago when Apple pulled the plug on its iCloud and MobileMe push email feature within the borders of Germany, after Motorola won a patent claim of its own.

Source: ZDNet

HTC tool unlocks bootloader on some Android devices

Last summer, phone maker HTC raised eyebrows by announcing it would enable users to unlock the bootloaders on some of its most popular phones, enabling technically-inclined customers to root the devices and install custom operating systems or, really, any darn thing they like. Now, HTC has come through, releasing a tool to unload the bootloader on phones launched after September 2011. HTC also says it is working to make the bootloader operational on phones launched before September 2011.

The company has offered a complete list of devices currently supported by the tool. HTC notes some devices may never be supported by the unlock tool due to operator restrictions.

HTC had previously gone to some lengths to lock down bootloaders on its Android devices—partly as a defense against malicious software—but reversed course in the face of strong feedback from technically-inclined customers who feel that the ability to install their own custom operating systems is a key element of Android’s “openness.” (HTC says it was “overwhelmed by the enthusiasm of our fans.”) After all, what’s the point of an operating system being available as open source if programmers can’t download it and install it on devices?

For ambitious users, unlocking the bootloader may be a quick way to get Android 4 Ice Cream Sandwich onto HTC devices without waiting for official updates.

HTC is clear that it not officially supporting devices that have been unlocked with the bootloader, merely allowing users to unlock their devices at their own risk—and may mean they’re no longer covered by device warranties. HTC also notes that it’s possible unlocking devices may have unintended consequences, including overheating.

Ryan:  Ultimately, the main reason why I sold my HTC Desire Z and went back to BlackBerry was because of the buggy HTC Sense interface.  I am glad HTC is giving its customers more choice by allowing them to use a bootloader, “at their own risk” of course.

Source: DigitalTrends

Samsung, You’re Doing It Wrong With Android 4.0

The No. 2 bestselling Samsung smartphone in history won’t officially see an upgrade to Android 4.0, leaving owners to decide among buying a newer phone, sticking with Android 2.3, or hacking on a custom build of Google’s latest mobile operating system. The reason Samsung won’t be offering such an upgrade? According to Samsung Tomorrow by way of the Verge, Samsung’s own customized TouchWiz user interface is the answer, which sounds more like a lame excuse than a valid explanation.

Samsung’s Galaxy Tab—a 7-in. slate I’ve been using daily for more than a year now—is also on the “won’t see Android 4.0″ list, says the Samsung Tomorrow blog. I can understand we’re looking at a smartphone and a tablet that made their debut in 2010, and there’s a limited shelf life for future updates on mobile devices. What I don’t understand, nor accept, is that the issue is Samsung’s user interface software. Even worse, I think Samsung is shooting itself in the foot. Here’s why.

You have to treat current customers well. On the one hand, I can see Samsung’s stance if it chooses not to bring Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS) to these older devices. From a financial standpoint, those handsets and tablets are already sold, and Samsung has earned all the income it’s going to from the sale of such devices. To bring Android 4.0 to the Galaxy S and Galaxy Tab, the company would have to invest time, effort, and money to deliver the software. It has no financial incentive to do so. But customers don’t care about that and could decide to buy a competing product if they feel slighted.

Software add-ons should never stop product advances. Some people like TouchWiz, and some don’t. The same could be said for HTC’s Sense. Both are user interface add-ons atop Google Android, and neither should be the primary cause of stopping an Android update. HTC once fell into this same trap with Gingerbread on its Desire handset and eventually compromised by removing some custom apps to make room for the update.

This isn’t a technical issue, it’s a bad decision. My first thought about this situation was that perhaps the Galaxy S and Galaxy Tab didn’t have the horsepower to run Android 4.0. Yet the Nexus S, made by Samsung, will get the ICS software, and it has very similar specifications to the Galaxy S in terms of memory, storage capacity, and processor. And I’m willing to bet the Android enthusiast community will have a custom build of Android 4.0 for both devices, if it doesn’t already. How sad is it that external developers can make this happen, when Samsung can’t?

Will most people who own a Samsung Galaxy S or Galaxy Tab be in an uproar over this? Probably not, as they’ll likely never know about Samsung’s decision, nor will they be thinking about Android 4.0 for devices that are 18 months old. But the decision sets a bad precedent and suggests that Samsung is more concerned with selling newer hardware than supporting existing customers and their current devices.

My suggestion would be a compromise of sorts: Offer a stock version of Android 4.0 for these devices with the customer understanding and accepting the fact that the TouchWiz interface will no longer be available after the upgrade. Unless there’s a real technical reason for the lack of an Android 4.0 upgrade—something Samsung should make clear—this might be the best answer. It wouldn’t cost nearly as much for Samsung to develop and test, while consumers thinking Samsung has let them down might be more accepting of the situation.

Ryan:  Samsung needs to seriously get their &%#* together.  I would like to update my Samsung Galaxy Tab, I find it buggy and it force closes way too much, too bad I will be forced to workaround this to put 4.0 on myself manually.

 

Source: BusinessWeek

AirDroid flies between your Android device and your computer

The tagline reads “enjoy your Android over the air,” but perhaps more accurate would be “enjoy your Android over your computer.” AirDroid connects your Android device to your desktop, laptop or tablet — really anything that can browse the web — and lets you send messages, browse photos or files, set ringtones, uninstall apps, and many other things that can be done more easily through a larger screen and perhaps a mouse and full-sized keyboard. If you want this type of functionality, don’t hesitate to download this free app.

I’ve used other apps that claim to provide the same or similar features, but this is the best that I’ve personally tried. It’s easy — just launch AirDroid and it shows a specific URL (IP address) to type in your browser and a password to keep it secure. It’s fast, too. Once your browser connects, just click through the big icons on the web page to navigate into picture and files, view the call log, read text messages, and a lot more in a second. It’s also secure. AirDroid doesn’t store any of your info on its systems, and the password changes with each use (or you can set your own password if you prefer). All this, and it’s 100 percent free.

Once you control your phone over a computer screen, you’ll want to do so every time you’re near a computer. It’s very convenient. The app works its magic over a Wi-Fi connection.

Source: Appolicious

BlackBerry maker RIM offers its software for Android, iOS users

BlackBerry maker Research In Motion has allowed apps Google’s Android operating system to run on its BlackBerry Playbook tablet thanks to an emulator. Now it seems to want to return the favor by offering its software to Android and Apple’s iOS users.

According to a story from Ars Technica, RIM is offering its device management software to both its major competitors. The company made the announcement today that it would make the software available to Android and iPhone owners, which would allow users to manage those devices alongside BlackBerry devices using the software.

The new software is called BlackBerry Mobile Fusion and gives a lot of the same device management controls that BlackBerry customers enjoy (like remote phone locking and wiping and security features) to non-BlackBerry phones. It’s an acknowledgment on RIM’s part that it’s slowly losing its dominance in the field of business. While BlackBerry devices are still used heavily in enterprise, companies are also allowing employees to bring their own phones and use them.

BlackBerry Mobile Fusion allows RIM to continue to support its devices among businesses, even if its users also have other devices. RIM is aiming to become the “de facto platform” for device management among enterprise users, according to Alan Panezic, VP of enterprise product management at RIM. So while BlackBerry devices might be losing their market share, RIM doesn’t intend to be forgotten: it may just have to change the way it does things.

RIM has its work cut out for it, though. Its BlackBerry devices still curry a lot of favor among the government and businesses, but it’s losing traction to the widespread popularity of Android, and Apple’s iPad is popping up more and more in business settings. It probably didn’t help that BlackBerry devices suffered a worldwide outage in October. But the popularity BlackBerry does enjoy, as Ars Technica points out, largely comes from its management capabilities. Now Android users are going to have access to those same capabilities, which could help RIM maintain some popularity, especially if those capabilities become as popular on other devices as they have been on BlackBerrys.

On the other hand, if RIM gives up the things that make its handsets unique – by allowing millions upon millions of Android users to have those same capabilities without buying a BlackBerry – it could very well have a huge negative impact on the BlackBerry. We’ll have to wait and see if RIM’s gamble pays off, but in the meantime, Android users are going to have access to some potentially cool new software.

RIM says it’ll be releasing BlackBerry Mobile Fusion in the first quarter of 2012.

Source: Appolicious

Google Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich source code is now available

Google promised, and Google delivered: the source code to Google Android 4.0.1, codenamed “Ice Cream Sandwich,” has been released to the open source community. And as a nice side bonus, the code now available encompasses the complete source code history tree, which includes the never-before-open Android Honeycomb family of releases.

I’m not a developer, so I’ll defer to Google Android Open-Source Project software engineer Jean-Baptiste M. “JBQ” Queru’s post to the Android Building mailing list for details:

This is actually the source code for version 4.0.1 of Android, which is the specific version that will ship on the Galaxy Nexus, the first Android 4.0 device. In the source tree, you will find a device build target named “full_maguro” that you can use to build a system image for Galaxy Nexus. Build configurations for other devices will come later.

Later in the same post, he writes:

 

This release includes the full history of the Android source code tree, which naturally includes all the source code for the Honeycomb releases. However, since Honeycomb was a little incomplete, we want everyone to focus on Ice Cream Sandwich. So, we haven’t created any tags that correspond to the Honeycomb releases (even though the changes are present in the history.)

This is a very cool thing for Google to do – I stand by my opinion that Google had been misrepresenting the openness of the Android operating system to everybody up to and including the US Senate, but this goes a long way towards realigning perception with reality.

But on the other hand, it seems pretty transparent that they only did it for fear that Google’s rushed Motorola Mobility buy coupled with the closed Google Android 3.0 release tree would intensify the scrutiny on the search giant at a time when it can’t afford much more of the legal spotlight.

There’s no point looking a gift horse in the mouth, though, and I’m looking forward to seeing what the Android hacker community puts together with Ice Cream Sandwich as its new foundation.

Download it here.

 

 

Source: Googling Google

Adobe Abandons Mobile Flash Development

Latest Update: Adobe confirmed it will cease Flash development on mobile devices in a press release published Wednesday morning.

In an abrupt about-face in its mobile software strategy, Adobe will soon cease developing its Flash Player plug-in for mobile browsers, according to an e-mail sent to Adobe partners on Tuesday evening.

And with that e-mail flash, Adobe has signaled that it knows, as Steve Jobs predicted, the end of the Flash era on the web is coming soon.

The e-mail, obtained and first reported on by ZDNet, says that Adobe will no longer continue to “adapt Flash Player for mobile devices to new browser, OS version or device configurations,” instead focusing on alternative application packaging programs and the HTML5 protocol.

“Our future work with Flash on mobile devices will be focused on enabling Flash developers to package native apps with Adobe AIR for all the major app stores,” the quoted e-mail says.

In the past, Adobe has released software tools for mobile developers that create a single platform programmers can use to make applications that work across three major mobile platforms: Android, iOS and the BlackBerry OS. While it’s seemingly easier than learning all of the native languages for each operating system, some developers have claimed a loss in app performance when coding in a non-native language that then gets translated into other languages.

The move indicates a massive backpedaling on Adobe’s part, a company who championed its Flash platform in the face of years of naysaying about its use on mobile devices. Despite Flash’s near ubiquity across desktop PCs, many in the greater computing industry, including, famously, Apple Computer, have denounced the platform as fundamentally unstable on mobile browsers, and an intense battery drain. In effect, Flash’s drawbacks outweigh the benefits on mobile devices.

Flash became a dominant desktop platform by allowing developers to code interactive games, create animated advertisements and deliver video to any browser that had the plugin installed, without having to take into account the particulars of any given browser. However, with the development of Javascript, CSS, and HTML5, which has native support for video, many web developers are turning away from Flash, which can be a resource hog even on the most advanced browsers.

Apple made its biggest waves in the case against Flash in April of last year, when Steve Jobs penned a 1,500-word screed against the controversial platform, describing it as a technology of the past. Jobs and Apple disliked the platform so intensely, it has since been barred from use on all iOS devices.

Despite attempts to breathe life into Flash on other mobile devices — namely, Android and BlackBerry OS — Adobe has failed to deliver a consistently stable version of the platform on a smartphone or tablet. In WIRED’s testing of the BlackBerry PlayBook in April, Flash use caused the browser to crash on a consistent basis. And when Flash was supposed to come to tablets with Motorola’s Xoom, Adobe was only able to provide an highly unstable Beta version of Flash to ship with the flagship Android device.

“Adobe has lost so much credibility with the community that I’m hoping they are bought by someone else that can bring some stability and eventually some credibility back to the Flash Platform,” wrote software developer Dan Florio in a blog post on Wednesday morning.

The drastic reversal in Adobe’s mobile plans comes in the wake of the company cutting 750 jobs on Tuesday, a move prompted by what Adobe labeled “corporate restructuring.”

An Adobe representative did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Source: Wired

Smartphone scams: Owners warned over malware apps

Get Safe Online says that there has been an increase in smartphone malware as the market has grown.

Criminals are typically creating Trojan copies of reputable apps and tricking users into installing them.

Once on the phone, the app can secretly generate cash for criminals through premium rate text messages.

Get Safe Online, a joint initiative between the government, police and industry, said it was concerned that users of smartphones, such as Android devices, were not taking steps to protect their devices.

Get Safe Online said fraudsters are designing apps which generate cash secretly in the background without the owner realising until their monthly bill.

A typical scam involves an app designed to send texts to premium rate services without the user knowing.

Apps can appear to be bona fide software or sometimes masquerade as stripped down free versions of well-known games.

Rik Ferguson, a hacking researcher with internet security firm Trend Micro, said: “This type of malware is capable of sending a steady stream of text messages to premium rate numbers – in some instances we’ve seen one being sent every minute.

“With costs of up to £6 per message, this can be extremely lucrative. The user won’t know this is taking place, even if they happen to be using the device at the same time, as the activity takes place within the device’s back-end infrastructure.”

Online banking

Another major security firm, Symantec, recently warned in its annual threat assessment that Android phones were at risk and that it had found at least six varieties of malicious software.

Minister for Cyber Security Francis Maude said: “More and more people are using their smartphone to transmit personal and financial information over the internet, whether it’s for online banking, shopping or social networking.

“Research from Get Safe Online shows that 17% of smartphone users now use their phone for money matters and this doesn’t escape the notice of criminals.”

Tony Neate, head of Get Safe Online, urged people to check their phone’s security.

“Mobile phones are very personal. I have talked to people who are never more than a yard away from their mobile phone. Because of that attachment, they start to think that they are in a way invincible.

“It’s the end user that picks up the tab – it’s your phone that incurs the costs. Whether you have pay-as-you-go or a monthly account, that money is going to come from the account and go to the criminal.”

Source: BBC News

Samsung joins forces with Intel and Microsoft

Samsung has quickly become one of the largest smartphone makers globally, helped by its strong offering of devices using Google’s Android platform.

Analysts said Wednesday’s deals signaled Samsung’s aim to lower its exposure to Android following Google’s $12.5 billion August acquisition of Motorola Mobility.

“The Google Motorola deal certainly gives Samsung some motivation to lessen the dependence on Android,” said Matthew Thornton, analyst at Avian Securities.

Microsoft and Samsung signed on Wednesday a new deal for development and marketing of Windows phones, while also agreeing on a wide patent cross-licensing deal. Samsung has also used Microsoft’s software in the past.

Earlier on Wednesday two Linux software groups, one backed by Samsung, another by Intel, said they have joined forces to develop a new operating system for cellphones and other devices.

Under the deal, the LiMo Foundation and Linux Foundation are effectively merging their LiMo and Meego mobile operating systems and hope to gain wider industry and consumer support, but analysts said the new Tizen platform is likely to struggle.

It would have to attract wide support from developers and manufacturers to compete with the dozen or so other mobile operating systems available in a smartphone market currently dominated by Apple’s in-house software and Google’s Linux-based Android.

“The best hope for them is that big operators get worried by Android … and decide to consciously switch their allegiances to rival platforms to restrict Google’s huge influence over the mobile market,” said analyst Neil Mawston from Strategy Analytics.

Earlier this year Nokia, the biggest phone maker by volume, ditched its own Symbian operating system in favor of Microsoft’s Windows Phone software.

Currently Windows Phone has a smartphone market share of 2-3 percent, according to industry analysts, and LiMo and Meego have less than 1 percent apiece, while Android’s share is almost 50 percent and still growing.

“This (Tizen) is driven by necessity. Linux rivals to Android have failed to gain traction and Samsung needs to reduce its dependence on Google,” said Geoff Blaber, an analyst at London-based telecoms industry consultancy CCS Insight.

The world’s second-biggest cellphone maker behind Nokia, Samsung is the leading user of the Android platform, which has been one of the reasons for its escalating court-room fight over patents with Apple.

Microsoft said the definitive agreement with Samsung to cross-license the patent portfolios of both companies, provides

broad coverage for each company’s products, and it will get royalties for Samsung’s devices running the Android platform.

“It’s probably a win-win. Microsoft is leveraging its patents to get customers while Samsung is looking for ways to lessen its dependence on Android,” said Avian’s Matthew Thornton.

2012 LINUX STORY

LiMo Foundation and the Linux Foundation said the new Tizen platform is an open-source, standards-based software platform that supports multiple devices including smartphones, tablets, smart TVs, netbooks and in-vehicle ‘infotainment’ systems.

A spokesman for Samsung said: “We’ve been a core Linux partner … and this is in line with our strategy of supporting many platforms.”

The initial release is planned for the first quarter of 2012, enabling the first devices using Tizen to come to market in mid-2012, the two groups said.

The world’s largest semiconductor firm Intel and Samsung Electronics, the second biggest maker of cell phones and one of the key contributors to LiMo, will head the technical steering committee developing Tizen.

Earlier this month Intel and Google launched a development partnership to adapt Android for Intel’s Atom processor chips, with a view to having the first Anroid phones featuring Intel chips in the first half of next year.

Linux is the most popular type of free, or open-source, computer operating system which allows the public to use, revise and share. Linux suppliers earn money selling improvements and technical services.

Source: Reuters