Category: Android


Android climbs to 43% in US, iPhone still at 28%

Android is still growing in the US, but is taking all its share from non-iPhone rivals, Nielsen found on Monday. Google was up from 40 percent in July to 43 percent in August, but Apple was still at the 28 percent it has held since June. Most of that decline came from Microsoft, which took the “other” category down from 13 percent to 11 percent.

RIM’s BlackBerry also lost a point to 18 percent. It may have been helped by a slew of BlackBerry 7 phones shipping the same month, such as the Bold 9900 and 9930.

Google still had added momentum in the Nielsen research. Among those who had bought a smartphone in the past three months, 56 percent were buying Android. Apple still wasn’t under threat with a static 28 percent, but there had been extra pressure on Microsoft and RIM, which collapsed to about six and nine points. Both audiences may have been in holding patterns for most of the summer as they either waited for later BlackBerry 7 launches or for Windows Phone 7​.5 (Mango) in October.

Android may see a rare share reversal in October. The year so far has been unusual as Apple’s first where a new iPhone didn’t ship in the summer. Possibilities exist that iphone sharecould start growing again as Apple fills pent-up demand, most of all if a Sprint iPhone 5 ships and eliminates another shelter for Android.

Smartphones should also still be on track to become the dominant cellphones in the US, researchers said. They were now up to 43 percent of total ownership and at 58 percent among those who had bought in the past three months. Ownership is expected to cross the 50 percent mark before the end of the year as the iPhone 5, and more Android devices like the Galaxy S II tip the balance.

Source: Electronista

Intel and Google To Cooperate on Android Devices

Intel and Google will work together to optimize new generations of Android for the chipmaker’s low-power Atom processors. The move means Intel will take a step in a different direction from Microsoft and its mobile platforms, and Google will help Intel establish more of a presence in the mobile space dominated by ARM processors.

At the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco on Tuesday, Intel CEO Paul Otellini showed a Android smartphone using his company’s Medfield chip, which is based on Atom. The 32-nanometer Medfield is the company’s flagship processor for smartphones, and succeeds the 45-nanometer Moorestown processor, which was Atom-based but had size and power issues.

Intel/Android Smartphones Next Year

The giant Intel is expected to reduce its mobile processor line to 22-nanometer within the next year, which would result in a smaller size and, most likely, a lower power need.

Intel has dominated the market for desktop and laptop PCs, and its integration with Windows was so powerful that the combination was dubbed Wintel. But the dominant processors for smartphones and tablets are those based on designs from the U.K.-based ARM Holdings. ARM chips are used in smartphones and tablets from Apple, Samsung, HTC and Research In Motion.

Intel and Google said that they expect Intel-based, Android smartphones to appear by the middle of next year. The arrangement with Google gives the chipmaker an endorsement that its new chips will be competitive in the challenging mobile environment.

Otellini told news media that the smartphone business “is not established” in terms of permanently dominant players, and he noted as evidence the speed with which Android has risen to become the leading mobile operating system.

‘Will Anyone Care?’

Microsoft’s coming Windows 8 operating system, unveiled to developers earlier this week, will have a version that runs on ARM processors. In fact, although Microsoft has been insisting that Windows 8 will be one operating system running on many platforms, there will be a branch just for ARM. The company said that Windows 8 on PCs will run all Windows 7 apps, but Windows 8 on ARM tablets may not be able to do so. Metro apps, designed specifically for Windows 8, will run on all Windows 8 machines.

Michael Gartenberg, research director at the Gartner Group, said the announced arrangement between Google and Intel makes sense for both companies, but the key question is “will anyone care?” He said Intel “has a lot to prove about whether it can make a mobile processor” that OEMs will want.

Avi Greengart, research director for consumer devices at Current Analysis, said the announcement showed “really, truly, nothing new.” Intel has, in the past, worked to some degree with other operating systems, while Microsoft has worked with other hardware makers, Greengart said.

One question is whether this new alliance with Google means that Intel’s own Meego mobile operating system, developed with Nokia, is now history. Greengart said it is “still around, but Intel is positioning it more for embedded applications.” When Nokia committed its product line to Windows’ Phone 7, he said, that “kind of killed any momentum.”

Source: NewsFactor

5 Reasons Droid Bionic Will Steal the iPhone 5’s Throne

The smart phone war is far from over. When the iPhone broke into the scene back in January 2007, it was clear it intended to remain there. However, the recent onslaught of high-quality and low-cost Android-fueled phones to make it to the market in the last year are leaving some skeptical. In fact, with Steve Jobs now out of the picture, many can’t help but ask: Is the iPhone’s time up?

That is where the new Droid Bionic from Motorola comes in. The Droid Bionic, released Thursday, is no weak contender in this fight to the top. Running on Android 2.3.4, the phone is miles ahead of even some of the most far-stretched rumors of the iPhone 5’s capabilities. With that being said, there are five reasons the Droid Bionic will be taking over the throne:

Price:

When the Bionic hits shelves early Thursday morning, it will not be undersold. With prices confirmed, such as $280 at Costco with free accessories, this phone is coming out swinging. As always, Apple plans to keep its customers in the dark, so no pricing is confirmed. However, knowing Apple’s past release of iPhone 4, one can expect a minimum $600 price tag.

Battery:

Anyone who has ever owned an iPhone knows one thing: There is no such thing as charging your iOS-powered phone too much. The Droid Bionic will operate using state of the art Lithium Ion battery with a capacity of 1,735 mAh, which is 315 more than the last iPhone released. Due to this, talk time is clocked in at 10.83 hours and stand a whopping 200 hours!

Flash:

Steve Jobs’ campaign against Flash compatibility has been a fight against what the people want. Bionic comes equipped to handle Flash and Flash-enabled software. This means no more sacrificing Web browsing or staring at error boxes where the flash content should be!

Music:

You would think that coming from having roots in an MP3 player the iPhone would have much more muscle in this field. However, the Droid Bionic once again outdoes Apple with the ability to handle formats such as WMA, eAAC+, AMR, and OGG. These formats, especially eAAC+, are some of the highest-quality, lowest-loss music media to date in the digital world.

Memory:

With no word from Apple yet on the iPhone 5’s ability to hold microSD cards, it is safe to assume the Droid Bionic is at the very top of its class. The microSD cards are already known for being some of the cheapest and most efficient ways to store data and Droid Bionic makes use of this. In fact, the new Motorola Smart Phone will be able to hold up to 32 GB of additional microSD or microSDHC memory!

The days of Apple’s rule over the kingdom are over. The new smart phone on the block, the Droid Bionic, is going to clean the floor with the lagging iPhone 5.

Source: Yahoo! / Engadget

Microsoft quietly finding, reporting security holes in Apple, Google products

Researchers at Microsoft have been quietly finding — and helping to fix — security defects in products made by third-party vendors, including Apple and Google.

This month alone, the MSVR (Microsoft Security Vulnerability Research) team released advisories to document vulnerabilities in WordPress and Apple’s Safari browser and in July, software flaws were found and fixed in Google Picasa and Facebook.

The MSVR program, launched two years ago, gives Microsoft researchers freedom to audit the code of third-party software and work in a collaborative way with the affected vendor to get those issues fixed before they are publicly compromised.

The team’s work gained prominence in 2009 when a dangerous security hole in Google Chrome Frame was found and fixed but it’s not very well known that the team has spent the last year disclosing hundreds of security defects in third-party software.

Since July 2010, Microsoft said the MSVR team identified and responsibly disclosed 109 different software vulnerabilities affecting a total of 38 vendors.

More than 93 percent of the third-party vulnerabilities found through MSVR since July 2010 were rated as Critical or Important, the company explained.

“Vendors have responded and have coordinated on 97 percent of all reported vulnerabilities; 29 percent of third-party vulnerabilities found since July 2010 have already been resolved, and none of the vulnerabilities without updates have been observed in any attacks,” Microsoft said.

This week’s discoveries:

  • A vulnerability exists in the way Safari handles certain content types. An attacker could exploit this vulnerability to cause Safari to execute script content and disclose potentially sensitive information. An attacker who successfully exploited this vulnerability would gain sensitive information that could be used in further attacks.
  • A vulnerability exists in the way that WordPress previously implemented protection against cross site scripting and content-type validation. An attacker could exploit this vulnerability to achieve script execution.

Source: ZDNet

Google buying Motorola: Nokia, Samsung, and other industry players react

Google said this morning that it dropped its “top five” Android partners a line yesterday to let them know that this Motorola acquisitionwas taking place — so naturally, many of them had prepared statements ready to go. The move will have ripple effects across several entire industries, though — not just the Android ecosystem alone — so we wanted to reach out and get reactions from a few companies that have a vested interest in Google’s successes and failures.

Overall, the theme across Android licensees’ initial statements is unwaveringly supportive at this point. Considering that Google’s primary goal is to shore up Android’s shaky patent situation, that comes as little surprise — though the striking similarity in some of the messaging suggests that Mountain View may have applied some pressure to show a unified front today. Regardless, the ball will be in Google’s court going forward to make sure that these guys aren’t put at a competitive disadvantage against Motorola — a move that could drive them away from Android altogether and into alternatives like Windows Phone, as Nokia’s statement seems to imply.

Follow the break for the full rundown from Nokia, HP, Samsung, HTC, Sony Ericsson, and LG.

 

Nokia

From Nokia, which had bypassed Android for its “commoditization risk” and is preparing to introduce a lineup dominated by Windows Phone devices in the coming years:

“This further reinforces our belief that opportunities for the growth of Nokia’s smartphone business will be greatest with Windows Phone. This could prove to be a massive catalyst for the Windows Phone ecosystem. Additionally, with our respective intellectual property portfolios, Nokia and Microsoft are working together to build and nurture an innovative ecosystem that benefits consumers, operators, developers and other device manufacturers.”

HP

HP hopes to go big with webOS through its own devices (and perhaps licensing deals at some point), which means it’s not directly affected by the Google-Motorola deal — but the seismic shift in the wireless ecosystem has the potential to affect the company’s fortunes nonetheless. Alas, they’ve issued a standard “no comment” today.

Samsung

Though Samsung Mobile US hasn’t specifically weighed in on the deal, JK Shin, President of Samsung Mobile’s global operations, had this to say:

“We welcome today’s news, which demonstrates Google’s deep commitment to defending Android, its partners, and the ecosystem.”

HTC

HTC — which splits its time between Android and Windows Phone — called on CEO Peter Chou for this quote:

“We welcome the news of today’s acquisition, which demonstrates that Google is deeply committed to defending Android, its partners, and the entire ecosystem.”

Additionally, the company insists that the deal won’t have an effect on its working relationship with Google:

“We are supportive of Google’s acquisition of  Motorola Mobility as this is a positive development to the Android ecosystem, which we believe is beneficial to HTC’s promotion of Android phones. The partnership between HTC and Google remains strong and will not be affected by this acquisition.”

Sony Ericsson

Bert Nordberg, CEO of the embattled company, released one of the briefest comments of the day — though it echoes the same sentiment that’s being conveyed by other Android manufacturers:

“I welcome Google‘s commitment to defending Android and its partners.”

LG

LG Mobile boss Jong-Seok Park seems to have cribbed off Nordberg’s notes (or vice versa):

“We welcome Google‘s commitment to defending Android and its partners.”

Source: Thisismynext

Security expert warns hackers can attack Android

A mobile security expert says he has found new ways for hackers to attack phones running Google Inc’s Android operating system.

Riley Hassell, who caused a stir when he called off an appearance at a hacker’s conference last week, told Reuters he and colleague Shane Macaulay decided not to lay out their research at the gathering for fear criminals would use it attack Android phones.

He said in an interview he identified more than a dozen widely used Android applications that make the phones vulnerable to attack.

“App developers frequently fail to follow security guidelines and write applications properly,” he said.

“Some apps expose themselves to outside contact. If these apps are vulnerable, then an attacker can remotely compromise that app and potentially the phone using something as simple as a text message.”

He declined to identify those apps, saying he fears hackers might exploit the vulnerabilities.

“When you release a threat and there’s no patch ready, then there is mayhem,” said Hassell, founder of boutique security firm Privateer Labs.

Hassell said he and Macaulay alerted Google to the software shortcomings they unearthed.

Google spokesman Jay Nancarrow said Android security experts discussed the research with Hassell and did not believe he had uncovered problems with Android.

“The identified bugs are not present in Android,” he said, declining to elaborate.

It was the first public explanation for the failure of Hassell and Macaulay to make a scheduled presentation at the annual Black Hat hacking conference in Las Vegas, the hacking community’s largest annual gathering.

They had been scheduled to talk about “Hacking Androids for Profit.” Hundreds of people waited for them to show up at a crowded conference room.

Hassell said in an interview late on Thursday the pair also learned — at the last minute — that some of their work may have replicated previously published research and they wanted to make sure they properly acknowledged that work.

“This was a choice we made, to prevent an unacceptable window of risk to consumers worldwide and to guarantee credit where it was due,” he said.

A mobile security researcher familiar with the work of Hassell and Macaulay said he understood why the pair decided not to disclose their findings.

“When something can be used for exploitation and there is no way to fix it, it is very dangerous to go out publicly with that information,” the researcher said. “When there is not a lot that people can do to protect themselves, disclosure is sometimes not the best policy.”

Hassell said he plans to give his talk at the Hack in The Box security conference in Kuala Lumpur in October.

Ryan:  If you are running an Android phone, two must have apps for your phone are:  Lookout Mobile Security for Android & Advanced Task Killer.

Source: Reuters

Facebook Launches Standalone Mobile Messaging App

Facebook has launched a standalone messaging app for iPhone or Android, showing the company’s larger ambitions as a service for communication between friends.

People no longer have to log-in to the Facebook app to get and send messages. Like with Facebook’s web interface, people can see SMS text messages, chat messages, emails and Facebook messages all in one place.

For friends who are not on Facebook, the app will send them a text message, so people do not have to decide which is the best way to reach someone. If users share their location with friends in a group chat, they can see a screen with their friends on a map.

Facebook previously acquired start-up Beluga, a group messaging app in March. That team has worked on building out this app for Facebook.

It’s an interesting move for Facebook, setting up a completely separate app just for messaging. It shows Facebook’s emphasis on mobile and the company’s increasing focus there. Facebook still doesn’t have an iPad app, but it’s widely expected.

One way to look at this is, is that people’s Facebook contacts–what Facebook calls the “social graph”–are extremely valuable in and of itself, outside of all the other features of Facebook. Group messaging apps such as GroupMe, Gogii’s TextPlus, Pinger’s TextFree, WhatsApp, and Zlango have grown quickly as a way for people to stay in touch with small or large groups of people on their mobile devices, with mostly free texting. To stay in the middle of all that communication, Facebook now has an app of its own.

Source: Forbes

Android App Turns Smartphones Into Mobile Hacking Machines

Dangerous hacks come in small packages.

Or they will, perhaps, when an app called Anti, or Android Network Toolkit, hits the Android market next week. The program, which Israeli security firm Zimperium revealed at the Defcon hacker conference in Las Vegas Friday and plans to make available to Android users in coming days, is designed for penetration testing–in theory, searching out and demonstrating vulnerabilities in computer systems so that they can be patched. Anti aims to bring all the hacking tools available to penetration testers on PCs to smartphones, with an automated interface intended to make sniffing local networks and owning remote servers as simple as pushing a few buttons.

“We wanted to create a penetration testing tool for the masses, says Itzhak “Zuk” Avraham, founder of Tel-Aviv-based Zimperium. “It’s about being able to do what advanced hackers do with a really good implementation. In your pocket.”

Anti, a free app with a $10 corporate upgrade, will offer a wi-fi-scanning tool for finding open networks and showing all potential target devices on those networks, as well as traceroute software that can reveal the IP addresses of faraway servers. When a target is identified, the app offers up a simple menu with commands like “Man-In-The-Middle” to eavesdrop on local devices, or even “Attack”; The app is designed to run exploits collected in platforms like Metasploit or ExploitDB, using vulnerabilities in out-of-date software to compromise targets.

A screenshot from Anti displaying target machines on the local network.

For now, the demonstration app Avraham showed me was equipped with only a few exploits: One aimed at a bug in Windows–the same flaw exploited by the Conficker worm in 2009–another targeting default SSH passwords in jailbroken iPhones, and a third exploiting a vulnerable, older version of Android. Zimperium has also built a Windows trojan that allows Anti to perform automated commands on hijacked machines like taking a screenshot, ejecting a CD, or opening the calculator, a common penetration-testing demonstration.

Even in its current form, the app raises the possibility of dangerous, stealthy attacks. A hacker could, for instance, walk into a coffee shop or a corporate office with his phone and start sussing out machines for data theft or malware infection. But Avraham says Zimperium will ask users in its terms of service to limit their hacking to “white hat” penetration testing.

Another screenshot showing command options on a target machine, including “man-in-the-middle” and “attack.”

“Hacking is not for the chosen few,” reads one description in the app’s documentation, formatted in Star Wars-style scrolling text. “Anti is your perfect mobile companion, doing it all for you. Please remember, with great power comes great responsibility. Use it wisely.”

Penetration testers who saw the app at Defcon were impressed. “It’s just sick,” says Don Bailey, a researcher with security firm iSec Partners. “The way it populates the screen with vulnerable targets…it’s really elegant.”

Another professional penetration tester for a defense contractor firm who asked that his name not be used called the app a “quick and dirty Swiss army knife for mobile pen testing.” “It’s so polished it’s almost like playing a video game,” he says, comparing it to penetration testing suites that cost thousands of dollars.

With its sheer simplicity, Anti’s impact could be comparable to that of Firesheep, a proof-of-concept tool released in October of last year that allowed anyone to easily snoop on devices on unsecured wi-fi networks that connected to unencrypted web pages. That tool was downloaded more than 1.7 million times, and no doubt used in some instances to spy on web users unawares. But it also helped inspire both Twitter and Facebook to encrypt traffic to their site and prevent such eavesdropping.

“People might use it in dangerous ways,” Avraham says with a shrug. “I really hope not. But I know this might be the risk to help people increase their security, and that’s our goal.”

Ryan: Great, now every kid that owns an Android phone can play wannabe hacker. Just what this world needs.

Source: Forbes

Vonage offering unlimited international calling via mobile phones

Vonage’s international calling plan is stepping up to be a more affordable and flexible option as the service extends to mobile.

The new Vonage World plan is as follows: Subscribers can call land-line numbers in over 60 countries from either their own land-line or mobile phone using the VoIP service for $25.99 per month. Users can also call mobile numbers in up to 10 countries on the same plan.

Vonage suggests that anyone who already conducts international phone calls for a little as an hour a week could save up to $250 with this option.

Mike Tempora, senior vice president of product management for Vonage, said that the mobile option was in high demand from its customers, citing that “70 percent said they make international calls while their away from home either by using a calling card or paying high carrier rates.”

Additionally, the revamped plan includes the new Extensions feature, which enables customers to add any U.S. phone number (mobile, home or office) as another number on the plan. (Note that fax numbers as well as 800/887 and virtual numbers are not supported). That number can then double as a virtual calling card to re-route calls over the Vonage’s network.

For example, this makes the most sense if a subscriber has Vonage World at home or work, and wants to add his or her cell phone number to the plan, or vice versa.

The process to take advantage of this might seem a bit complicated on paper, but it’s rather straightforward. Once the user registers the number on his or her online account page, the user will then have to select a PIN number for validating the subscriber and the phone line later on. From there, when the user wants to make an international call, he or she just dials an access number, the PIN number and then the international phone number he or she is calling.

Tempora added that customers who use virtual numbers and/or international calling cards will find the process to be quite similar and intuitive.

Although this service is supported by any mobile device, there will be apps for iOS and Android in the coming weeks with a one-touch solution to streamline this process.

Ryan: Good news for people looking for a cheaper alternative to call overseas. I will be definitely downloading the app once it hits the Android Market.

Source: ZDNet

RIM Slashes 2,000 Jobs on Market Losses to Android, iPhone

Things are looking grim and grimmer for Canada-based Research in Motion, who said today they’d slash 2,000 jobs to counter sales declines. “Slash” would be the correct verb, too, since 2,000 equals roughly 11% of RIM’s global workforce, reports Reuters.

The logic behind the job cuts: RIM says it’s zeroed on “eliminating redundancies and reallocating resources to focus on areas that offer the highest growth opportunities.”

What sort of growth opportunities? Probably the company’s new Blackberry OS 7 and PlayBook tablet (as well, the Unix-like QNX operating system that powers the latter). Not that the PlayBook’s fared terribly well since it launched unspectacularly mid-April—at least one “major big box retail” source claimed in May that the tablet missed its sales targets by over 90%, and in mid-June, UK wireless carrier O2 said it was scuppering plans to carry the 7-inch tablet on its network.

Jared Newman of Techland surmises the reason wireless carriers haven’t picked up RIM’s tablet could be because it “lacks native e-mail and calendar apps, which could be a big turnoff to customers, and there aren’t a lot of third-party apps available right now.” Also: “Because the PlayBook’s BlackBerry Bridge feature, which lets users tether their BlackBerry phones to check e-mail, messages and calendar, undermines carriers’ ability to sell additional data plans for tablets,” something Newman says might explain why AT&T’s blocked the Bridge app—it connects Blackberry phones to the Playbook tablet—on its BlackBerry phones.

RIM’s job cut announcement this morning isn’t exactly a surprise, but analysts say the numbers of jobs eliminated is higher than expected. RIM shares fell on news of the cuts in pre-marketing trading, probably also no surprise, though analysts have framed the job cuts as crucial to a corporate rally.

“This is not totally unexpected,” Jefferies & Co analyst Peter Misek told Reuters. “I think this is obviously realigning the cost structure to a new growth, or sales, reality.”

Ryan: It’s not like I didn’t see this one coming.  This last year for RIM has not been so innovative as in previous years.

Source: TIME

Researcher Says That 8% of Android Apps Are Leaking Private Information

Android has had its fair share of malware problems. Whenever malware are detected, Google reacts swiftly and remove them. However, according to security researcher Neil Daswani, around 8% of the apps on the Android market are leaking private user data.

Neil Daswani, who is also the CTO of security firm Dasient, says that they have studied around 10,000 Android apps and have found that 800 of them are leaking private information of the user to an unauthorized server. Neil Daswani is scheduled to present the full findings at the Black Hat Conference in Las Vegas which starts on July 30th.

The Dasient researchers also found out that 11 of the apps they have examined are sending unwanted SMS messages.

Google needs to take charge

This malware problem on Android has become too much. One of the main reason that we see malicious apps in the market is because of the lack of regulation in the apps that get into the Android Market.

Sure, the lack of regulation can be good. It means that developers can make their apps without worrying if Google will accept their apps or not. It fits into the pre-existing application distribution model where anyone can develop and publish their own apps.

However, this comes at a price – the malware problem. Yes, most of the problems with these malicious apps can be avoided if only users read the permission requirements of the apps. But, what percentage of the users actually read the permission requirements of all the apps they download?

I think that it is time that Google make approval of the apps a requirement before it gets into the Market. They do not need to do it like Apple, but a basic security check before an app gets on the market will be nice.

If nothing is done about and this problem is allowed to grow, it will end up killing the platform.

Ryan:  I’ve been using Lookout Mobile Security on Android OS for awhile now and it appears to be working great. You can find it here.

Source: Digitizor