Category: Windows Phone 7

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

Windows Phone SMS attack discovered, reboots device and disables messaging hub

Microsoft’s range of Windows Phone devices suffer from a denial-of-service attack that allows attackers to disable the messaging functionality on a device.

The flaw works simply by sending an SMS to a Windows Phone user. Windows Phone 7.5 devices will reboot and the messaging hub will not open despite repeat attempts. We have tested the attack on a range of Windows Phone devices, including HTC’s TITAN and Samsung’s Focus Flash. Some devices were running the 7740 version of Windows Phone 7.5, others were on Mango RTM build 7720. The attack is not device specific and appears to be an issue with the way the Windows Phone messaging hub handles messages. The bug is also triggered if a user sends a Facebook chat message or Windows Live Messenger message to a recipient.

The flaw appears to affect other aspects of the Windows Phone operating system too. If a user has pinned a friend as a live tile on their device and the friend posts a particular message on Facebook then the live tile will update and causes the device to lock up. Thankfully there’s a workaround for the live tile issue, at initial boot up you have a small amount of time to get past the lock screen and into the home screen to remove the pinned live tile before it flips over and locks the device.

Both Apple and Google have suffered from SMS bugs with their iOS and Android devices. Security researcher Charlie Miller discovered a flaw in the iOS 3.0 software that allowed attackers complete control over an iPhone at the time. Android-based phones also suffered in the SMS attack, but attackers could only knock a phone offline rather than gain full access. The attack described in this article does not appear to be security related. It appears, from our limited testing, that the bug is related to the way Windows Phone handles messages.

Khaled Salameh discovered the flaw and reported it to us on Monday. WinRumors is in the process of disclosing the bug directly to Microsoft privately in co-operation with Khaled. At this stage there doesn’t appear to be a workaround to fix the messaging hub apart from hard resetting and wiping the device. Please see the video below for a demonstration.



Source: WinRumors

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.


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

Remote Support Tool TeamViewer Gets an Android App

Cross-platform screen sharing solution TeamViewer has been around for a while (we wrote about it a couple of years ago). But it’s been recently updated to version 6, and also has a new Android app. While there are many screen sharing and web conferencing apps available, TeamViewer stands out by offering an all-in-one solution for making presentations, connecting to and troubleshooting remote computers. I’ve been trying the Android app, and I found it easy to set up and use. It’s responsive, too, as the developer says that it can adapt to different connection speeds.

TeamViewer can be set up in different ways. If you want to share your screen for presentations or training, you can install the software on your machine, and then share your ID with your audience, who can view your desktop in a web browser. The software is not intended to support large numbers of viewers, so it would not be suitable for webinars.

TeamViewer can also be used for troubleshooting remote computers, similar to CrossLoop, LogMeIn Rescue, or the “remote assistance” functions built into Windows and Mac OS X. In this configuration, you ask the client to download and run the TeamViewer QuickSupport module (it doesn’t need to be installed). The client gives you the ID and password that the QuickSupport module creates, which you can enter into your copy of the software or use the web version.

The TeamViewer software, which is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux, can also be used to connect remotely to unattended computers. It’s also possible to connect on the go via iOS and Android apps.

One nice feature of TeamViewer is that (as with LogMeIn and similar products) it can create connections behind firewalls, meaning that it doesn’t take the sort of setup that VNC does. A chat and file transfer system is included.

All in all, TeamViewer is a well-developed product that can be used for many needs faced by those of us with remote workforces. I confess, though, that I got a bit of sticker shock from TeamViewer’s pricing structure, which starts at $729 for one workstation. But since TeamViewer is priced as a one-time payment with no monthly subscription fees, it may be a good buy for some organizations. Note that TeamViewer is free for non-commercial use, and also offers free trials.

Download Here.

Source: Gigaom

Intel’s MeeGo is a no-go for phones

Intel’s MeeGo software seems destined for obscurity, in the wake of the Nokia-Microsoft agreement announced yesterday.

Why do I say that? Intel made a splash at the Consumer Electronics Show last year by flourishing an LG phone with an operating system that would later be called, under joint ownership of Intel and Nokia, MeeGo. LG’s phone was due in the second half of last year–according to this video taken at the 2010 CES. But it has yet to appear.

That’s not in the least bit surprising. Why would LG build a phone with software that was being developed by a competitor (Nokia)? A high-ranking Intel executive confirmed this sticky situation to me last year in a meeting.

Needless to say, a MeeGo phone from Nokia is increasingly unlikely now.

“This is a Nokia decision. Yes, we’re disappointed with it,” said an Intel spokeswoman yesterday, reacting to the Nokia-Microsoft announcement. “But we still believe there’s a smartphone component to [MeeGo]. And we’re talking to other partners. But it’s also Netbooks, tablets, set-top boxes, automotive systems. So, it’s a lot more than just the phone element,” she said.

That statement notwithstanding, there’ a quick moral to this story. MeeGo is not an operating system for mass-market consumer devices, no matter how strenuously Intel would tell you otherwise.

I had a brief debate at the Consumer Electronics Show last month with Intel marketing chief Tom Kilroy about this. He put up a good defense. But he didn’t change my mind. And, quite obviously, Intel has not impressed Nokia.

So, what is MeeGo and why does Intel continue to hold on to it with a vise grip? MeeGo is what is called a reference platform. It’s a way for potential customers to try out Intel chips on an open source platform with full support from the chipmaker.

“That’s what Intel is known for. Building a lot of reference designs to show the industry what is possible. With MeeGo, they needed to get out there and demonstrate that their platform was viable,” said Richard Shim, an analyst with market researcher DisplaySearch. “That it could sustain and help nurture a robust mobile experience. They wouldn’t have objected if it had taken off as a full-fledged platform, but it wasn’t being taken up (by device makers) very rapidly. It definitely took a hit with the Nokia Microsoft announcement,” he said.

What else is MeeGo? It’s an operating system for the so-called embedded market, such as in-car devices and industrial equipment, where it is doing well, according to Kilroy.

So, MeeGo will be sticking around but don’t expect to pick up a consumer device at your local electronics retailer running the software. Friday’s announcement made that a moral certainty.

Source: CNET

Watch out Android and iPhone: WP7 expected to alter the app landscape

Microsoft  is about to formally unveil Windows Phone 7 during events in New York and other major cities, as it takes on Google’s Android and Apple’s iPhone.  But the Blagosphere has been buzzing about the implications of WP7.

Jennifer LeClaire reports in TopTechNews: “Microsoft is hoping to rebound in an increasingly competitive smartphone operating-system market where Apple and Android devices have been gaining ground on established players.”

Analyst Rob Enderle in Conceivably Tech said iPhone and Android phones impart status/pride of ownership. He said Microsoft will have to play the status game to succeed.

“I’m a Windows Phone user myself and I’m certainly looking forward to getting something that works better.  However, if it weren’t for the fact the iPhone is on AT&T and AT&T sucks where I live, I’d likely be using an iPhone today and not care as much about the new Microsoft offering,” he said. “Over the next few weeks, to be successful, Microsoft and its partners have to increase the status associated with their platform exponentially and while they have done this before, the degree of difficulty for this stunt is through the roof, given Apple’s dominance in the segment.”

LeClaire quoted Enderle: “Developers have actually been pretty positive about the platform. People who have seen the phone are pleasantly surprised about how good it is and are hoping for an alternative to the other devices that are out there, specifically Apple. The success is going to depend an awful lot on the hardware end.”

Thom Holwerda in OS News said stakes are very high for Microsoft and CEO Steve Balmer: “Windows Phone 7 has to succeed. Come hell or high water.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if Ballmer’s position at Microsoft depends on Windows Phone 7’s success. While Windows and Office continue to do well, Microsoft’s other endeavors haven’t been as successful; Windows Phone 7 should be the sign that Microsoft can still innovate and come up with something new that will enter a market, and grab a significant share.”

Nick Wingfield noted in the The Wall Street Journal that Ballmer’s pay was docked last year for screwing up with another mobile play, the Kin.

From Android alternative makes it extra tough

But he warns that Microsoft faces a tough sell against Android, having to persuade OEMs to pay for WP7 when they can get an OS for free from Google.

He said Microsoft “can always resort to what I call the rogue tactics. You can spread fear, uncertainty, and doubt about the competing platform – in this case, Android – by holding secret negotiations, speaking of patents nobody has ever seen, forbidding companies from ever revealing those supposed patents, and suing any company that flips you the bird (Motorola, you go girl).” (Microsoft filed a suit against Motorola last month, claiming its Android phones infringed on Microsoft patents. Still, business is business. Motorola’s co-Chief Executive Sanjay Jha and Ballmer both said they are open to collaboration.)

LeClaire said some analysts are skeptical that Phone 7 will breathe new life into Microsoft’s mobile Relevant Products/Services strategy. Gartner reports Microsoft’s share of the smartphone operating-system market has dipped to five percent, about a half from a year ago.

But Enderle said it’s never too late in the smartphone game.

“Apple entered the smartphone market way late. And we had smartphones in the market for several years before Apple brought out the iPhone. We clearly had some players that were thought to be unstoppable — Nokia and Research In Motion — and Apple swept in without any trouble at all and carved out a segment,” he said.

Early reviews  of WP7 are good

Garrett Rogers at ZDNet said last month: “If you haven’t had the opportunity to try a Windows Phone 7 device in person, I have to say that you are missing out. Today I had the chance to play with a prototype device from Samsung, and frankly, I was blown away. The phone is really fast, and everything feels consistent from app to app.”

He added: “There may be stuff missing from the initial version of WP7 when compared to other platforms like Android and iPhone, but what it does have is done very well. Compared to my Nexus One (which has similar hardware), the operating system is very responsive, and animations are very smooth. I’m not saying that Android is unbearably slow, but compared to Froyo, WP7 takes the cake.”

Meanwhile, the battle between MSFT and APPL is entering the iPAD tablet zone.

Carl Bagh reports in International Business Times : “Microsoft’s jump into the tablet market is an expected outcome of iPad’s dominance as it has started eating into the PC market. With Microsoft’s business model dependent on its sale of licenses, it is imperative that Microsoft has a gamut of devices running its OS.

He noted that “Santa Balmer,” AKA Microsoft CEO Steve Balmer, speaking at the London School of Economics last week, announced that MSFT will be delivering its new version of tablets in time for Xmas: “You’ll see new slates with Windows on them. You’ll see them this Christmas.”

PCWorld also reports that Spotify, the popular music app, has announced it will offer a Windows Phone 7 application in the coming months, “giving Microsoft another hugely popular application to add to its app catalog.”

Source: Appolicious

Microsoft shows off prototype mobile phone

For the past few months, I’ve been trying to piece together what Microsoft codename “Menlo” is. My tipsters described it as a project by Microsoft Researchers to investigate new operating system possibilities in the mobile space.

One of the research papers I mentioned in my original blog post about Menlo has now been published. (Thanks to reader Charon of for the tip about the paper’s availability.)

Lo and behold, there’s more in that paper, titled “User Experiences with Activity-Based Navigation on Mobile Devices,” (PDF) about Menlo. From that paper:

“Menlo is a prototype mobile device with a capacitive touch screen (4.1? diagonal, 800?480) running Microsoft Windows Embedded CE 6.0 R2 which incorporates a Bosch BMA150 3-axis accelerometer and Bosch BMP085 digital pressure sensor (barometer).”

Running on top of the Menlo platform is a new Microsoft Research Silverlight application codenamed “Greenfield,” which is a sensor-centric program allowing users to retrace their footsteps when seeking to find their cars.

Source: CNET

Hackers plant viruses in Windows smartphone games

Hackers have planted viruses in video games for smartphones running on Microsoft Corp’s Windows operating system, according to a firm that specializes in securing mobile devices.

The games — 3D Anti-Terrorist and PDA Poker Art — are available on sites that provide legitimate software for mobile devices, according to John Hering, CEO of San Francisco-based security firm Lookout.

Those games are bundled with malicious software that automatically dials premium-rate telephone services in Somalia, Italy and other countries, sometimes ringing up hundreds of dollars in charges in a single month.

Those services are run by the programmers who built the tainted software, Hering said on Friday.

Victims generally do not realize they have been infected until they get their phone bill and see hundreds of dollars of unexpected charges for those premium-rate services, he said.

Hackers are increasingly targeting smartphone users as sales of the sophisticated mobile devices have soared with the success of Apple Inc’s iPhone and Google Inc’s Android operating system.

Officials with Microsoft could not immediately be reached for comment.

Source: Yahoo! / Reuters (Boston)