Category: Google


Android and Windows smartphones to get ‘kill switch’

Google and Microsoft have both revealed that they will integrate a ‘kill switch’ into the next versions of their smartphone operating systems, allowing customers to disable their devices if they are lost or stolen.

Google told Bloomberg that it will add a “factory reset protection solution” to its next version of Android

Meanwhile, Microsoft’s vice president for US government affairs, Fred Humphries, said that the company would be adding new anti-theft capabilities to its Find My Phone feature in Windows Phone before July 2015.

“With these additional features, we’re hopeful that technology – as part of a broader strategy – can help to further reduce incentives for criminals to steal smartphones in the first place,” Humphries said in a blog post.

The news comes after Apple introduced ‘activation lock’ and ‘delete phone’ to its Find My iPhone app in September 2013.

As a result, robberies involving the company’s products reportedly decreased by 19 per cent in New York in the first five months of this year. San Francisco and London have also seen Apple-related robberies drop.

New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman said the statistics illustrate the “stunning effectiveness of kill switches”, and has called for other smartphone companies to add theft-deterrence features to their devices.

US Senator Amy Klobuchar, a Minnesota Democrat, and Jose Serrano, a New York Democrat, have both introduced bills that would require phones sold in the US to include kill-switch technology.

Last summer, the Mayor of London Boris Johnson also wrote to eight companies – including Apple, Samsung and Google – stating that about 10,000 handsets are stolen every month in London, and manufacturers have a “corporate responsibility” to help tackle thefts.

“If we are to deter theft and help prevent crimes that victimise your customers and the residents and visitors to our city, we need meaningful engagement from business and a clear demonstration that your company is serious about your corporate responsibility to help solve this problem,” Mr Johnson told manufacturers.

“Each of your companies promote the security of your devices, their software and information they hold, but we expect the same effort to go into hardware security so that we can make a stolen handset inoperable and so eliminate the illicit second-hand market in these products.

“We hope you would support this objective. Customers and shareholders surely deserve to know that business cannot and must not benefit directly from smartphone theft through sales of replacement devices.”

Source: The Telegraph

Android 4.4.3 KitKat update reportedly coming soon

After a never-before-seen version of KitKat has been spotted a few days ago – version KTU65 – suggesting that Google may release at least one more KitKat update before moving to a new Android OS version, a new tweet from known developer LlabTooFeR says that Android 4.4.3 may be just around the corner, with version KTU72B identified as the upcoming software update.

“Android 4.4.3 is under testing. Build number is KTU72B,” the developer wrote. “Probably it will fix known camera bug.” This KitKat version’s code name suggests this build (dated March 13) is newer than the previous one (dated March 6,) although the developer did not share any details as to when Google will actually release it.

Similarly, it’s not clear whether the update will bring any new features, on top of the expected camera fix for the Nexus 5, and whether it will be available to other devices as well. Still, this appears to be first time these newly discovered KitKat builds are associated with “Android 4.4.3.”

The latest KitKat software version available to Android users is KOT49H (Android 4.4.2), although only some devices have been updated so far, including Nexus tablets and smartphones. A recent report said that Google will unveil Android 4.5 this summer, likely together with new Nexus devices – the company is rumored to ship at least one new tablet this year, with rumors indicating that a Nexus device with an 8.9-inch may be in the works.

Source: BGR

Android for all and the new Nexus 5

android repair abbotsford - android screen repairs abbotsford Just in time for Halloween, we have two new treats for Android fans. First, we’re excited to unwrap our latest platform release, KitKat, which delivers a smarter, more immersive Android experience to even more people. And second, we’re introducing Nexus 5—a new Nexus phone developed with LG.

The first thing you’ll notice about KitKat is we’ve made the experience much more engaging: the book you’re reading, the game you’re playing, or the movie you’re watching—now all of these take center stage with the new immersive mode, which automatically hides everything except what you really want to see.

 

Bringing more Google smarts to Android
Behind the polish on the screen is the power under the hood. Take the Phone app, which for most people hasn’t really changed since the days of flip phones. Now, we’re making calling easier than ever, by helping you search across your contacts, nearby places, or even Google Apps accounts (like your company’s directory), directly from within the app. And with the new Hangouts app, all of your SMS and MMS messages are together in the same place, alongside your other conversations and video calls, so you’ll never miss a message no matter how your friends send it. This is just a small taste of KitKat—learn more on our site.

Google has always focused on helping users get immediate access to the information they need, and we want to bring this same convenience and power to users on Android. With the new Nexus 5 launcher, Google smarts are deeply integrated into the phone you carry around with you, so getting to the information you need is simple, easy and fast. Swipe once from the home screen to get Google Now literally at your fingertips. Put Google to work for you by saying “OK, Google” to launch voice search, send a text, get directions or even play a song you want to hear. And in the coming weeks, we’re enhancing Now with important new card types that bring you information about contextual topics that interest you such as updates from a favorite website or blog.

Reaching the next 1 billion users
Building a platform that makes mobile phones accessible for everyone has always been at the heart of Android. Until now, some lower-end Android phones couldn’t benefit from more recent Android releases due to memory constraints. With KitKat, we’ve slimmed down Android’s memory footprint by doing things like removing unnecessary background services and reducing the memory consumption of features that you use all the time. We did this not only within Android but across Google services like Chrome and YouTube. RAM (or memory) is one of the most expensive parts of a phone, and now Android can run comfortably on the 512MB of RAM devices that are popular in much of the world, bringing the latest goodies in Android 4.4 within reach for the next billion smartphone users.

Introducing Nexus 5
Along with our sweet naming tradition, we also introduce a new device with each platform release to showcase the latest Android innovations. For KitKat, we partnered with LG to develop Nexus 5 — the slimmest and fastest Nexus phone ever made. Its design is simple and refined to showcase the 5” Full HD display. Nexus 5 also keeps you connected at blazing speeds with 4G/LTE and ultra fast wifi. The advanced new lens on Nexus 5 captures more light for brighter night and sharper action shots. And with optical image stabilization, you no longer have to worry about shaky hands and blurry pictures. A new HDR+ mode automatically snaps a rapid burst of photos and combines them to give you the best possible single shot. Learn more on our site.

 

 

Nexus 5 is available today, unlocked and without a contract, on Google Play in the U.S., Canada, U.K., Australia, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Japan and Korea (and coming soon to India), starting at $349. Just in the time for the holidays, Nexus 5 will be available soon at the following retailers: Sprint, T-Mobile, Amazon, Best Buy and RadioShack.

Android 4.4, KitKat, which comes on Nexus 5, will also soon be available on Nexus 4, 7, 10, the Samsung Galaxy S4 and HTC One Google Play edition devices in the coming weeks.

Source: Google’s Official Blog

Russian BadNews bug found in Android app store

Security researchers have identified 32 separate apps on Google Play that harboured a bug called BadNews.

On infected phones, BadNews stole cash by racking up charges from sending premium rate text messages.

The malicious program lay dormant on many handsets for weeks to escape detection, said security firm Lookout which uncovered BadNews.

The malware targeted Android owners in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and other countries in eastern Europe.

The exact numbers of victims was hard to calculate, said Lookout, adding that figures from Google Play suggest that between two and nine million copies of apps booby trapped with BadNews were downloaded from the store.

In a blogpost, Lookout said that a wide variety of apps were harbouring the BadNews malware. It found the programme lurking inside recipe generators, wallpaper apps, games and pornographic programmes.

The 32 apps were available through four separate developer accounts on Play. Google has now suspended those accounts and removed all the affected apps from its online store. No official comment from Google has yet been released.

Lookout said BadNews concealed its true identity by initially acting as an “innocent, if somewhat aggressive, advertising network”. In this guise it sent users news and information about other infected apps, and prompted people to install other programmes.

BadNews adopted this approach to avoid detection systems that look for suspicious behaviour and stop dodgy apps being installed, said Lookout.

This masquerade ended when apps seeded with BadNews got a prompt from one of three command and control servers, then it started pushing out and installing a more malicious programme called AlphaSMS. This steals credit by sending text messages to premium rate numbers.

Users were tricked into installing AlphaSMS as it was labelled as an essential update for either Skype or Russian social network Vkontakte.

Security firm Lookout said BadNews was included in many popular apps by innocent developers as it outwardly looked like a useful way to monetise their creations. It urged app makers to be more wary of such “third party tools” which they may include in their code.

Half of the 32 apps seeded with BadNews are Russian and the version of AlphaSMS it installed is tuned to use premium rate numbers in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Armenia and Kazakhstan.

Source: BBC News

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

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

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

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

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

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