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Hacker Cracks Lumia Bootloader, Offers Tool For Root Access and Custom ROMs ( 62

MojoKid writes: Microsoft and Nokia have worked hard making Lumia smartphones difficult to break into at a low-level, but software hacker Heathcliff has just proven that it's not impossible. He's just released a solid-looking tool called Windows Phone Internals, and it can do everything from unlocking the bootloader to replacing the phone's ROM. WP Internals is a completely free download, though Heathcliff welcomes donations by those who've found the tool useful. According to the "Getting Started" section of the tool, supported models include Lumia 520, 521, 525, 620, 625, 720, 820, 920, 925, 928, 1020, and 1320. If your model is not on the list, the developer has said that he hopes to add more models in the near future.

Ask Slashdot: What Single Change Would You Make To a Tech Product? 505

An anonymous reader writes: We live in an age of sorcery. The supercomputers in our pockets are capable of doing things it took armies of humans to accomplish even a hundred years ago. But let's face it: we're also complainers at heart. For every incredible, revolutionary device we use, we can find something that's obviously wrong with it. Something we'd instantly fix if we were suddenly put in charge of design. So, what's at the top of your list? Hardware, software, or service — don't hold back.

Here's an example: over the past several years, e-readers have standardized on 6-inch screens. For all the variety that exists in smartphone and tablet sizing, the e-reader market has decided it must copy the Kindle form factor or die trying. Having used an e-reader before all this happened, I found a 7-8" e-ink screen to be an amazingly better reading experience. Oh well, I'm out of luck. It's not the worst thing in the world, but I'd fix it immediately if I could.

How Hollywood's Hedy Helped Heighten Handhelds ( 67

szczys writes: Hedy Lamarr is a household name for the wrong reason. Her name is known as a Hollywood actress, but her legacy is in your pocket and reaches far more people than her movies. She was a brilliant thinker who plied her skills during World War II, developing technology that could help to win the war. Her patent wasn't used at the time, but is a foundation of spread-spectrum which is used in the radio modules of your cellphone: WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, and others. This frequency hopping concept sat unused for decades before being added to the most ubiquitous of wireless connectivity methods.

Tim Cook: Apple Won't Create 'Converged' MacBook and iPad ( 337

LichtSpektren writes: In an interview with, Apple CEO Tim Cook has stated that Apple is currently not looking to create an iPad that runs Mac OS X. "We feel strongly that customers are not really looking for a converged Mac and iPad, because what that would wind up doing, or what we're worried would happen, is that neither experience would be as good as the customer wants. So we want to make the best tablet in the world and the best Mac in the world. And putting those two together would not achieve either. You'd begin to compromise in different ways." Cook also commented that he does not travel with a Mac anymore, only his iPad Pro and iPhone.

Chrome V8 JavaScript Exploit Leaves All Android Devices Ripe For Attack ( 107

MojoKid writes: If you're an Android user that makes heavy use of Google's Chrome web browser (and what Android user doesn't?), you'll want to pay close attention to a new exploit that has the capability of taking your smartphone hostage. The exploit was demonstrated at MobilePwn2Own, which was held at a Tokyo-based PacSec conference. Quihoo 360 security researcher Guang Gong first uncovered the vulnerability, and thankfully, he hasn't publicly revealed detailed specifics on its inner workings. As soon as a phone accessed the website, the JavaScript v8 vulnerability in Chrome was used to install an arbitrary application (in this case a game) without any user interaction, to demonstrate complete control of the phone. Google reportedly has been made well aware of the exploit and will likely act quickly to resolve it.

With Respect To Gaming, Android Still Lags Behind iOS ( 166

An anonymous reader writes: No matter what you think about the Android/iOS divide from either a hardware or software perspective, there's simply no getting around the fact that many developers still take an iOS-first approach with respect to app development. With games, where development costs are already sky-high, the dynamic is even more pronounced. For instance, one of the most addictive, successful, and highly rated apps currently available on the App Store is a great snowboarding game called Alto's Adventure. It was originally released this past February for the iPhone and iPad (and now the Apple TV). Still today, nine months after its initial release, an Android version of the app remains non-existent. Now if you're an Android user who happens to enjoy mobile gaming, it's easy to see how this dynamic playing out over and over again can quickly become an endless source of frustration.

Sprint Faces Backlash For Adding MDM Software To Devices ( 123

itwbennett writes: On Wednesday, Sprint customer Johnny Kim discovered an in-store technician adding MDM software to his personal iPhone 6 without prior notice or permission. Kim took to Twitter with his complaint, sparking a heated conversation about privacy and protection. One expert who commented on the issue told CSO's Steve Ragan that 'it's possible Sprint sees the installation of MDM software as an additional security offering, or perhaps as a means to enable phone location services to the consumer.' But, as Ragan points out, 'even if that were true, it's against [Sprint's] written policy and such offerings are offered at the cost of privacy and control over the user's own devices.' (MDM here means "Mobile Device Management.")

Activision Buys Candy Crush Developer For $5.9B ( 132

ForgedArtificer writes: Activision Blizzard purchased Candy Crush Saga developer King Interactive Entertainment last night for a cool $5.9 billion USD; about 20% above market value. The move likely leaves them owning five of the top grossing franchises in the industry. "Candy Crush is one of the most lucrative games in the world, earning some $1.33 billion in revenue in 2014 alone according to a King financial statement. The studio, which operates Candy Crush and a number of similar games including Bubble Witch and Farm Heroes, grossed $529 million in the second quarter of 2015."

Report: Google To Fold Chrome OS Into Android ( 104

An anonymous reader writes: According to a report at the Wall Street Journal (paywalled) Google plans to merge its Chrome operating system into Android. Google engineers have already been working on this transition for two years; the company expects to have a functioning preview next year, and a finished product in 2017. "The move is also an attempt by Google to get Android running on as many devices as possible to reach as many people as possible. The operating system runs phones, tablets, watches, TVs and car infotainment systems. Adding laptops could increase Android's user base considerably. That should help Google woo more outside developers who want to write apps once and have them work on as many gadgets as possible, with little modification." This doesn't mean Chrome OS is on its way out. According to public statements from Google execs, it will continue to exist and see active development.

Motorola Unveils Droid Turbo 2, Claims Shatterproof Display, 48 Hour Battery ( 111

MojoKid writes: We've seen leaks and teasers for Motorola's new Droid Turbo 2 Android flagship for weeks. However, the Lenovo-owned company officially announced the smartphone, and it offers two highly sought after features: a long-running battery and a shatterproof display. Its battery has a 3760mAh capacity, allowing the Droid Turbo 2 to operate for up to 48 hours per charge. And if that wasn't enough, Motorola has incorporated Quick Charging support which allows the device to achieve 13 hours of battery life from a mere 15-minute charge. The most talked about feature, however, is its shatterproof display, which Motorola calls Moto ShatterShield. Motorola says that it's "the world's first phone screen guaranteed not to crack or shatter. The display sports a flexible AMOLED panel to absorb shocks, dual touch layers, a rigid aluminum backing, as well as interior and exterior lenses. At the launch event, Motorola was dropping the phone from about 6 feet up, direct to concrete and it was holding up to the abuse just fine.

What Might a $50 Tablet Inspire? ( 169

theodp writes: Surprisingly, says Ars Technica's review of Amazon's $50 Fire tablet, it doesn't suck. "There's simply very little reason to spend more when you can get 90 percent of the functionality for a fraction of the price," writes Mark Walton. "The only real niggle right now with the Fire Tablet is the display (and the camera, if you really want to take photos with your tablet). Once budget tabs start coming with 1080p displays as standard, the writing really will be on wall. For now, the Amazon Fire Tablet is the budget tablet to beat." How does cheap technology like this mesh with Bill Gates's dream of putting a computer in every home, and projects like OLPC? Beyond that, any thoughts on what a $50 tablet price point might inspire in education, gaming, and other areas?

Microsoft Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book Reviews 152

An anonymous reader writes: Anandtech posted reviews of the Microsoft Surface Pro 4 and the Microsoft Surface Book today. They write: "After launching Surface Pro 3 with Haswell in 2014, Microsoft — like so many manufacturers — opted to skip the short-lived Broadwell generation of Intel CPUs in favor of making the larger jump to Skylake. Skylake brings with it notable increases in both CPU and GPU performance, particularly in the mobile space thanks to a series of optimizations and the use of Intel's leading 14nm manufacturing node," about the Pro 4 and with regards to the Book, "The basis of the Surface Book is that it is designed to be used as a laptop most of the time, but the display can be removed as a Clipboard for use with the pen. The Surface Book is certainly not the first device to do this, but it does some things in new ways that are pretty interesting."

Google Makes Full-Disk Encryption Mandatory For Some Android 6.0 Devices ( 150

itwbennett writes: Google's plan to encrypt user data on Android devices by default will get a new push with Android 6.0, also known as Marshmallow. Devices with enough memory and decent cryptographic performance will need to have full-disk encryption enabled in order to be declared compatible with the latest version of the mobile OS. From the ITWorld article: "The move is likely to draw criticism from law enforcement officials in the U.S. who have argued over the past year that the increasing use of encryption on devices and online communications affects their ability to investigate crimes. In addition to encryption, Google also mandates verified boot for devices with AES performance over 50MB/s. This is a feature that verifies the integrity and authenticity of the software loaded at different stages during the device boot sequence and protects against boot-level attacks that could undermine the encryption."

Apple Tells US Judge It's 'Impossible' To Break Through Locks On New iPhones ( 225

An anonymous reader writes: Apple told a U.S. judge that accessing data stored on a locked iPhone would be "impossible" with devices using its latest operating system, but the company has the "technical ability" to help law enforcement unlock older phones. Apple's position was laid out in a brief filed late Monday, after a federal magistrate judge in Brooklyn, New York, sought its input as he weighed a U.S. Justice Department request to force the company to help authorities access a seized iPhone during an investigation. In court papers, Apple said that for the 90 percent of its devices running iOS 8 or higher, granting the Justice Department's request "would be impossible to perform" after it strengthened encryption methods.

Guy Creates Handheld Railgun With a 3D-Printer ( 276

turkeydance writes: Using a combination of 3D printing and widely available components, David Wirth built a functioning handheld railgun that houses six capacitors and delivers more than 1,800 joules of energy per shot. So far he has tested the gun using metal rods made of graphite, aluminum and copper-coated tungsten. David has shot projectiles at over 250 meters per second in tests.

Is Amazon Harming the E-reader Category? ( 200

An anonymous reader sends a story from TeleRead which argues that Amazon doing harm to the e-reader category of devices it helped create. The company has been aggressively pushing adoption of its Kindle Fire brand of tablets, dropping the price for the cheapest model down to $50. Compare that to the basic version of the e-ink Kindle: $80 if you don't want it cluttered with "special offers." If you care enough about an e-ink screen, you might still buy it, but most of those people probably already have e-readers. The general populace, when looking at the tablet's color screen, app ecosystem, and access to forms of entertainment beyond books, will probably consider the tablet a no-brainer.

This is in Amazon's best interest; if you buy an e-reader, you're only going to be buying books for it. If you buy a tablet, they can sell you videos and software, too. Amazon has succeeded in pushing several competing e-readers out of the market. They also refuse to experiment or innovate on the design; there have been no significant changes since the Paperwhite's backlighting technology in 2012. Given that ebook sales are no longer growing explosively, this could be a sign that the e-reader category of devices is stagnating.

Ask Slashdot: Local Navigation Assistance For the Elderly? 161

An anonymous reader writes: I have an older (90+) relative who is experiencing mental decline. He's still fairly functional (you can have a decent conversation with him, and he's amazingly positive for someone in his condition), but his memory of anything recent is terrible. He's in an assisted living center, but he's having serious trouble for example finding his way to the dining hall and back to his room. He has visitors daily and the staff are supportive but 24/7 oversight is not an option. I am looking for a navigation system suitable for use indoors that will help him move around. The distances involved are short, and his schedule is pretty regular so it would be OK to have a schedule of where he usually is at a given time (lounge, dining hall, room) and a big green arrow that always points out which way he should go to get there (so it would need to accommodate doors and hallways etc, not just the straight line direction). Is anyone here aware of such a system? I've thought of trying to write an app for a smartphone but I'm not sure if GPS is really the way to go, seeing as it's indoors. Also, battery life would be an issue — he would have trouble remembering what to do if it stopped working and I'm not sure if he'd remember (or be able) to connect a charger. For the same reason it would need to be pretty bomb-proof — he's not in position to troubleshoot if it fails.

Teaching Kids Engineering By Building Cartoon Tech ( 33

szczys writes: If you're struggling to get your kids interested in electronics or other types of engineering, this is the way. Start young and focus on something they're already fascinated with. The two brothers in this article are really into the PBS cartoon Wild Kratts. There's a handheld communications device called a Creaturepod on the show. With the help of mom and dad the family built a working version of the fictional hardware. Of course having Joe Grand, a well-known professional computer engineer, as the patriarch was key in this story. But the roadmap is there for this to be replicated.

Barnes & Noble Has Been Quietly Refreshing Its Nook Hardware ( 31

itwbennett writes: Peter Smith writes that he 'had more or less written off the Nook when Barnes & Noble farmed hardware duties out to Samsung.' But now that Amazon is aiming for the low end with its downgraded Fire tablet line, Barnes & Noble has an opportunity to 'carve out a niche on the higher end of things,' says Smith. And so it has been quietly moving in that direction. Yesterday, Venture Beat wrote about the newly (and stealthily) launched $250 Samsung Galaxy Tab E Nook. As Smith notes, 'the specs for this new tablet aren't anything special,' which might explain the stealthy launch, except that another, pricier Nook tablet apparently came out a month ago (again, according to VentureBeat), the Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 Nook.