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Cellphones

Former Apple CEO Creates an iPhone Competitor 133

An anonymous reader links to Fast Company's profile of Obi Worldphone, one-time Apple CEO John Sculley's venture into smartphones. The company's first two products (both reasonably spec'd, moderately priced Android phones) are expected to launch in October. And though the phones are obviously running a different operating system than Apple's, Sculley says that Obi is a similarly design-obsessed company: "The hardest part of the design was not coming up with cool-looking designs," Sculley says. "It was sweating the details over in the Chinese factories, who just were not accustomed to having this quality of finish, all of these little details that make a beautiful design. We had teams over in China, working for months on the floor every day. We intend to continue that process and have budgeted accordingly." Obi is also trying to set itself apart from the low-price pack by cutting deals for premium parts. "Instead of going directly to the Chinese factories, we went to the key component vendors, because we know that ecosystem and have the relationships," Sculley says. "We went to Sony. It’s struggling and losing money on its smartphone business, but they make the best camera modules in the world."
Android

Since-Pulled Cyanogen Update For Oneplus Changes Default Home Page To Bing 86

ourlovecanlastforeve writes: Nestled into GSMArena's report on the Cyanogen OS 12.1 update for Oneplus [ Note: an update that the story reports has since been pulled.] is this tasty bite: "...you'll find out that your Chrome homepage has been changed to Bing." Then it's casually dismissed with "Thankfully though, you can easily get rid of Microsoft's search engine by using Chrome settings." as if this were the most normal thing to have to do after an OTA update. Is this the new normal? Has Microsoft set a new precedent that it's okay to expect users to have to go searching through every setting and proactively monitor network traffic to make sure their data isn't being stolen, modified or otherwise manipulated?
Transportation

Many Drivers Never Use In-Vehicle Tech, Don't Want Apple Or Google In Next Car 415

Lucas123 writes: Many of the high-tech features automakers believe owners want in their vehicles are not only not being used by them, but they don't want them in their next vehicle, according to a new survey by J.D. Power. According to J.D. Power's 2015 Driver Interactive Vehicle Experience (DrIVE) Report, 20% of new-vehicle owners have never used 16 of 33 of the latest technology features. The five features owners most commonly report that they "never use" are in-vehicle concierge (43%); mobile routers (38%); automatic parking systems (35%); heads-up display (33%); and built-in apps (32%). Additionally, there are 14 technology features that 20% or more of owners don't even want in their next vehicle. Those features include Apple CarPlay and Google Android Auto, in-vehicle concierge services and in-vehicle voice texting. When narrowed to just Gen Yers, the number of vehicle owners who don't want entertainment and connectivity systems increases to 23%.
Google

Meet YouTube Gaming, Twitch's Archenemy 94

An anonymous reader writes: As expected Google has launched its answer to Twitch, YouTube Gaming available on the web, Android and iOS. Techcrunch reports: "We played with the Android app before the launch, and here's how it works. When you open the app, you are presented with a search bar at the top, a few featured channels at the top and then a feed of the most popular channels. The current featured channels don't focus on esports like most Twitch channels. Right now, you can find a 12-hour stream of NBA 2K15, and official stream of Metal Gear Solid V, a speed run of Until Dawn and an Eve Online live show."
Android

Many Android Users Susceptible To Plug-In Exploit -- And Many Of Them Have It 61

Ars Technica reports that a recently reported remote access vulnerability in Android is no longer just theoretical, but is being actively exploited. After more than 100,000 downloads of a scanning app from Check Point to evaluate users' risk from the attack, says Ars, In a blog post published today, Check Point researchers share a summary of that data—a majority (about 58 percent) of the Android devices scanned were vulnerable to the bug, with 15.84 percent actually having a vulnerable version of the remote access plug-in installed. The brand with the highest percentage of devices already carrying the vulnerable plug-in was LG—over 72 percent of LG devices scanned in the anonymized pool had a vulnerable version of the plug-in.
Bug

Backwards S-Pen Can Permanently Damage Note 5 157

tlhIngan writes: Samsung recently released a new version of its popular Galaxy Note series phablet, the Note 5. However, it turns out that there is a huge design flaw in the design of its pen holder (which Samsung calls the S-pen). If you insert it backwards (pointy end out instead of in), it's possible for it get stuck damaging the S-pen detection features. While it may be possible to fix it (Ars Technica was able to, Android Police was not), there's also a chance that your pen is also stuck the wrong way in permanently as the mechanism that holds the pen in grabs the wrong end and doesn't let go.
Android

Samsung May Release an 18" Tablet 177

A report at PC Magazine says that Samsung may soon field a tablet to satisfy people not content with the 7", 9", 12", or even slightly larger tablets that are today's normal stock in trade. Instead, the company is reported to be working on an 18.4" tablet aimed at "living rooms, offices, and schools." There's a lot of couching going on, but it sounds like an interesting idea: It's said to run Android 5.1 Lollipop and be powered by an octa-core 64-bit 1.6GHz Exynos 7580 processor. Other rumored specs include 2GB of RAM, 32GB of internal storage, a microSD card slot with support for cards up to 128GB, and a large 5,700 mAh battery. The device also has an 8-megapixel main camera (and you thought people looked silly taking photos with their iPads) and 2.1-megapixel "secondary camera."
Android

Google Relaxes Handset Makers' Requirements for "Must-Include" Android Apps 80

According to The Verge, anyone who buys a new Android phone may benefit from an interesting change in their phone's default apps: namely, fewer pieces of included bloatware. However, the affected apps might not be the ones that a user concerned with bloatware might care most about (like carrier-specific apps), but are rather some of the standard Google-provided ones (Google+, Google Play Games, Google Play Books and Google Newsstand). These apps will still be available at the Google Play Store, just not required for a handset maker to get Google's blessing. (Also at ZDNet.)
Security

Cheap Thermal Imagers Can Steal User PINs 101

Bismillah writes: A British infosec company has discovered that cheap thermal imaging attachments for smartphones can be used to work out which keys users press on -- for instance -- ATM PIN pads. The thermal imprint last for a minute or longer. That's especially worrying if your PIN takes the form of letters, as do many users' phone-unlock patterns.
Google

Google Targets Low-Cost Android One Phone At African Markets 43

jfruh writes: In order to meet its goal of bringing Android to five billion users, Google needs to get smartphones into the hands of people in the developing world. The company's Android One program aims to do just that. Already active in India, the program is now bringing an $88 smartphone to West Africa. “The software on Android One devices automatically updates to the latest version of Android and will get the Android M release after release. The goal is to provide a consistent and uncompromising smartphone experience, for everyone,” Google VP of product management, Caesar Sengupta, said.
Android

Android M's Official Name Is Marshmallow 92

An anonymous reader writes: As they've done in the past, Google has revealed the name for the upcoming version of Android with a new statue in front of its headquarters. Android's sixth version will be called Marshmallow. Dave Burke, Android's VP of engineering, unveiled the statue on Twitter. Google has also released the Android 6.0 SDK and the final M preview.
Cellphones

The Realities of a $50 Smartphone 141

An anonymous reader writes: Google recently reiterated their commitment to the goal of a $50 smartphone in India, and a new article breaks down exactly what that means for the phone's hardware. A budget display will eat up about about $8 of that budget — it's actually somewhat amazing that so little money can still buy a 4-4.5" panel running at 854x480. For another $10, you can get a cheap SoC — something in the range of 1.3Ghz and quad-core, complete with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and GPS radios. A gigabyte of RAM and 4 gigabytes of storage can be had for another $10 or so. Throw in a $2.10, 1,600 mAh battery and a $5 camera unit, and you've got most of a phone. That leaves about $9 to play with for basic stuff like a casing, and then packaging/marketing costs (some of which could be given freely, like the design work.) Profit margins will be nonexistent, but that's less of an issue for Google, who simply wants to spread the reach of Android.
Build

Video 'My Name is C.H.I.P. and I'll Be Your $9 Computer Today' (Video) 111

Think of C.H.I.P as a tablet computer that runs Linux instead of Android, "without the tablet bits," says interviewee Dave, who gave a talk -- which was mostly live demos -- at OSCON 2015. 50,000 C.H.I.P.s have already sold for $9 through their successful Kickstarter campaign, and Next Thing Co. plans to stick with the $9 price for the foreseeable future -- plus add-on boards (that they call "shields") they hope to sell you, but that won't flatten any but the skinniest wallets; given the projected price scale, you'll have trouble spending as much as $50 for a fully-accessorized C.H.I.P. unit.

"But," you may ask, "is C.H.I.P. Open Source?" You bet! No hedging here, just flat-out Open Source, from the bottom to the top, with all software (and hardware specs) freely available via GitHub. And lastly, the "I'll Be Your $9 Computer Today' statement in the headline above is allegorical, not factual. We've seen projected shipping dates for C.H.I.P ranging from "by the end of 2015" to a simple "2016." Either way, we're waiting with bated breath.
Oracle

Oracle: Google Has "Destroyed" the Market For Java 457

itwbennett writes: Oracle made a request late last month to broaden its case against Android. Now, claiming that 'Android has now irreversibly destroyed Java's fundamental value proposition as a potential mobile device operating system,' Oracle on Wednesday filed a supplemental complaint in San Francisco district court that encompasses the six Android versions that have come out since Oracle originally filed its case back in 2010: Gingerbread, Honeycomb, Ice Cream Sandwich, Jelly Bean, Kit Kat and Lollipop.
The Almighty Buck

Samsung Pay Launches In Korea In August, US In September 30

Mark Wilson writes: The main thrust of Samsung's Galaxy Unpacked event was to launch the Galaxy Note 5 and Galaxy S6 Edge+, but the company also provided some details about Samsung Pay. With so many similarly-specced smartphones vying for attention, each manufacturer needs to offer something slightly different, and Samsung is hoping that a new digital payment system will prove attractive to people. Going head to head with Android Pay and Apple Pay is Samsung Pay. As well as offering compatibility with the newly announced Galaxy Note 5 and Galaxy S6 Edge+, Samsung's payment system is supported by many of its older handsets. It will launch in its home country of Korea on August 20, and will spread to the US at the end of September.
Android

Stagefright Patch Incomplete and Zero Day in Android Google Admin App Found 42

msm1267 writes: A patch distributed by Google for the infamous Stagefright vulnerability found in 950 million Android devices is incomplete and users remain exposed to simple attacks targeting the flaw. Researchers at Exodus Intelligence discovered the issue in one of the patches submitted by Zimperium zLabs researcher Joshua Drake. Google responded today by releasing a new patch to open source and promising to distribute it next month in a scheduled OTA update for Nexus devices and to its partners. Drake's original patch failed to account for an integer discrepancy between 32- and 64-bit, Exodus Intelligence said. By inputting a specific 64-bit value, researchers were able to bypass the patch. Exodus, which submitted a bug fix of its own to Google, said it decided to go public with its findings for several reasons, including the fact that the vulnerability was widely publicized by Zimperium before and during Black Hat, not to mention that Google has had the original bug report since April, yet neither party noticed the discrepancy in the patch. The Android security team at Google is having a busy month. Trailrunner7 writes: Researchers at MWR Labs have released information on an unpatched vulnerability that allows an attacker to bypass the Android sandbox.
Advertising

Will Ad Blockers Kill the Digital Media Industry? 519

HughPickens.com writes: Michael Rosenwald writes at the Columbia Journalism Review that global online ad revenue continues to rise, reaching nearly $180 billion last year. But analysts say the rise of ad blocking threatens the entire industry—the free sites that rely exclusively on ads, as well as the paywalled outlets that rely on ads to compensate for the vast majority of internet users who refuse to pay for news. A new report from Adobe and one of several startups helping publishers fight ad blocking shows that 198 million people globally are now blocking ads, up 41 percent from 2014. In the US, ad blocking grew 48 percent from last year, to 45 million users. "Taken together, ad blockers are hitting publishers in their digital guts," writes Rosenwald. "Adobe says that $21.8 billion in global ad revenue will be blocked this year."

Publishers have been banking on the growth of mobile, where the ad blocking plugins either don't work or are cumbersome to install. A Wells Fargo analyst wrote in a report on ad blocking that "the mobile migration should thwart some of the growth" of ad blockers. But Apple recently revealed that its new operating system scheduled for release this fall will allow ad blocking on Safari. Apple is trying to pull iPhone and iPad users off the web. It wants you to read, watch, search, and listen in its Apple-certified walled gardens known as apps. It makes apps, it approves apps, and it profits from apps. But, for its plan to work, the company will need those entertainers and publishers to funnel their content to where Apple wants it to be. As the company makes strategic moves to devalue the web in favor of apps, those content creators dependent on ads to stay afloat may be forced to play along with Apple. Adblock Plus has released a browser for mobile Android devices that blocks ads, and it's planning to release a similar product for Apple devices. "The desire to figure out how to bring ad blocking to mobile consumers is a worldwide phenomenon," says Roi Carthy Ad blocking, he says, "is an inalienable right."
Encryption

Prosecutors Op-Ed: Phone Encryption Blocks Justice 392

New submitter DaDaDaaaaa writes: The New York Times features a joint op-ed piece by prosecutors from Manhattan, Paris, London and Spain, in which they decry the default use by Apple and Google of full disk encryption in their latest smartphone OSes (iOS 8 and Android Lollipop, respectively). They talk about the murder scene of a father of six, where an iPhone 6 and a Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge were found.

"An Illinois state judge issued a warrant ordering Apple and Google to unlock the phones and share with authorities any data therein that could potentially solve the murder. Apple and Google replied, in essence, that they could not — because they did not know the user's passcode. The homicide remains unsolved. The killer remains at large."

They make a case for lawmakers to force Apple and Google to include backdoors into their smartphone operating systems. One has to wonder about the legitimate uses of full disk encryption, which can protect good people from harm, and them from having their privacy needlessly intruded upon.
Firefox

Firefox 40 Arrives With Windows 10 Support, Expanded Malware Protection 113

An anonymous reader writes: Mozilla today launched Firefox 40 for Windows, Mac, Linux, and Android. Notable additions to the browser include official Windows 10 support, added protection against unwanted software downloads, and new navigational gestures on Android. Firefox 40 for the desktop is available for download now on Firefox.com, and all existing users should be able to upgrade to it automatically. As always, the Android version is trickling out slowly on Google Play. Changelogs are here: desktop and Android.
Security

Severe Deserialization Vulnerabilities Found In Android, 3rd Party Android SDKs 105

An anonymous reader writes: Closely behind the discoveries of the Stagefright flaw, the hole in Android's mediaserver service that can put devices into a coma, and the Certifi-gate bug, comes that of an Android serialization vulnerability that affects Android versions 4.3 to 5.1 (i.e. over 55 percent of all Android phones). The bug (CVE-2015-3825), discovered by IBM's X-Force Application Security Research Team in the OpenSSLX509Certificate class in the Android platform, can be used to turn malicious apps with no privileges into "super" apps that will allow cyber attackers to thoroughly "own" the victim's device. In-depth technical details about the vulnerabilities are available in this paper the researchers are set to present at USENIX WOOT '15.