Ubuntu

Canonical Reveals the BQ Aquaris M10 Ubuntu Tablet (omgubuntu.co.uk) 92

LichtSpektren writes: Several tech sites have now broke the news that Canonical has revealed their BQ Aquaris M10 Ubuntu Tablet. Joey-Elijah Sneddon builds the hype: "A stunning 10.1-inch IPS touch display powered a full HD 1920×1200 pixel resolution at 240 ppi. Inside is a 64-bit MediaTek MT8163A 1.5GHz quad-core processor, 2GB of RAM, and 16GB of internal memory. A micro SD memory card is included, adding storage expansion of up to 64GB. Furthermore, the converged slate includes an 8-megapixel rear camera with autofocus and dual LED flash (and capable of recording in full 1080p), plus a front facing 3-megapixel camera for video chats, vlogs and selfies. Front facing Dolby Atmos speakers will provide a superior sound experience during movie playback. The M10 measure 246mm x 171mm x 8.2mm, weighs just 470 grams — lighter than the Apple iPad Air — and has a 7280 mAh battery to give up to 10 hours of use. ... Tablet mode offers a side stage for running two apps side-by-side, plus a full range of legacy desktop applications, mobile apps and scopes. LibreOffice, Mozilla Firefox, The GIMP and Gedit are among a 'curated collection of legacy apps' to ship pre-installed on the tablet. It will also be possible for developers and enthusiasts to install virtually any ARM compatible app available on Ubuntu using the familiar 'apt-get' command." A photo gallery can also be seen on his website here. The price is not yet announced, but the Android version of the same tablet is currently on sale for €229.
Google

Google To Take 'Apple-Like' Control Over Nexus Phones (droid-life.com) 179

Soulskill writes: According to a (paywalled) report in The Information, Google CEO Sundar Pichai wants the company to take greater control over development of their Nexus smartphones. When producing Nexus phones, Google has always partnered with manufacturers, like Samsung, LG, and HTC, who actually built the devices. Rather than creating a true revenue stream, Google's main goal has been to provide a reference for what Android can be like without interference from carriers and manufacturers. (For example, many users are frustrated by Samsung's TouchWiz skin, as well as the bloatware resulting from deals with carriers.

But now, Google appears to want more control. The report indicates Google wants to do a better job of competing throughout the market. They want to compete with Apple on the high end, but also seem concerned that manufacturers haven't put enough effort into quality budget phones. The article at Droid-Life argues, "We all know that Nexus phones will never be household items until Google puts some marketing dollars behind them. Will a top-to-bottom approach finally push them to do that?"

Privacy

Ask Slashdot: How Do I Reduce Information Leakage From My Personal Devices? 256

Mattcelt writes: I find that using an ad-blocking hosts file has been one of the most effective way to secure my devices against malware for the past few years. But the sheer number of constantly-shifting server DNs to block means I couldn't possibly manage such a list on my own. And finding out today that Microsoft is, once again, bollocks at privacy (no surprise there) made me think I need to add a new strategic purpose to my hosts solution — specifically, preventing my devices from 'phoning home'. Knowing that my very Operating Systems are working against me in this regard incenses me, and I want more control over who collects my data and how. Does anyone here know of a place that maintains a list of the servers to block if I don't want Google/Apple/Microsoft to receive information about my usage and habits? It likely needs to be documented so certain services can be enabled or disabled on an as-needed basis, but as a starting point, I'll gladly take a raw list for now.
Cellphones

Exploitable Backhole Accidentally Left In Some MediaTek-based Phones (ndtv.com) 79

Lirodon writes: MediaTek has confirmed findings by security researcher Justin Case, who discovered that some devices running Android KitKat on MediaTek processors (often used in lower-cost devices) had a debug function, meant to be removed on production devices, accidentally left in by their manufacturer. This hole could be used to trivially gain root access, among other possibilities.
Cellphones

Apple Developing Wireless Charging For Mobile Devices (thestack.com) 132

An anonymous reader writes: Apple is currently working with partners in the US and Asia to develop wireless charging for iPhone and iPad. Mobile devices with wireless charging capabilities could be released as soon as next year. Apple has not released the specific details on the range that could be available, but as far back as 2010, Apple applied for a patent to use an iMac as a wireless charging hub for distances of 1 meter. In 2014 it applied for a patent on specialized housing for a mobile device with an integrated RF antenna, which would also allow for wireless charging by helping to eliminate the problem of metallic interference with charging signals. Apple would apparently be building on these ideas to create a new iPhone or iPad that could charge further away from the hub, while continuing to be used.
Cellphones

WhatsApp Will Get Indicators To Highlight Encrypted Chats (softpedia.com) 27

An anonymous reader writes: WhatsApp 3.0 will come with two privacy-related changes. The first is in the Security section and is in the form of a new setting called "Show security indicators." Turning on this setting will add a lock icon to your WhatsApp whenever you're having encrypted conversations. The second new setting is in the Account section, with the addition of a new option that says "Share my account info." This setting will send the user's WhatsApp data to Facebook servers "to improve [their] Facebook experiences."
Communications

Jailbreak Turns Cheap Walkie-Talkie Into DMR Police Scanner 82

An anonymous reader writes: Last Shmoocon, famous reverse engineer Travis Goodspeed presented his jailbreak of the Chinese MD380 digital handheld radio. The hack has since been published at GitHub with all needed source code to turn a cheap digital radio into the first hardware scanner for DMR digital mobile radio: a firmware patch for promiscuous mode that puts all talk groups through the speaker including private calling. In the U.S. the competing APCO-25 is a suite of standards for digital radio communications for federal users, but a lot of state/county and local public safety organizations including city police dispatch channels are using the Mototrbo MotorolaDMR digital standard.
Windows

Microsoft's Windows Phone Platform Is Dead (windows10update.com) 455

Ammalgam writes: Tom Warren at the Verge today gave voice to what a lot of other technology analysts and today definitively declared that Microsoft's Windows Phone platform is dead. This largely based on the abysmal adoption numbers released in Microsoft's most recent earnings report. Mr. Warren articulates the obvious by stating: "With Lumia sales on the decline and Microsoft's plan to not produce a large amount of handsets, it's clear we're witnessing the end of Windows Phone. Rumors suggest Microsoft is developing a Surface Phone, but it has to make it to the market first. Windows Phone has long been in decline and its app situation is only getting worse. With a lack of hardware, lack of sales, and less than 2 percent market share, it's time to call it: Windows Phone is dead. "

Now this news should not be surprising to anyone who has watched the slow decline of Windows Phone. Last December, in an article on Windows10update.com, Onuora Amobi also wrote off the platform. In this case, his analysis was based on the nonconformity of the Microsoft user interface to Apple and Android's widely adopted aesthetic appeal. He wrote "I believe Windows Phone is dead. Kaput. Finished. Over. Done. ... Windows 10 is successful in part because it's a return to Windows 7 in many ways and that's what made the consumers happy. One of the definitions of insanity is "doing the same thing over and over again but expecting a different result". This is exactly what Microsoft is doing and it's insane. Over 90% of Microsoft's desired audience like the look and feel of iPhones and Android devices. They do – it's not good or bad – it just is what it is. They spend their money on those two user interfaces."

The Courts

Stingray Case Lawyers: "Everyone Knows Cell Phones Generate Location Data" (techdirt.com) 171

An anonymous reader writes with news that the Maryland Attorney General is arguing that anyone who has ever used a smartphone knows it's tracking them, so no warrant is needed for stingrays. Techdirt says: "Up in Baltimore, where law enforcement Stingray device use hit critical mass faster and more furiously than anywhere else in the country (to date...) with the exposure of 4,300 deployments in seven years, the government is still arguing there's no reason to bring search warrants into this. The state's Attorney General apparently would like the Baltimore PD's use of pen register orders to remain standard operating procedure. According to a brief filed in a criminal case relying on the warrantless deployment of an IMSI catcher (in this case a Hailstorm), the state believes there's no reason for police to seek a warrant because everyone "knows" cell phones generate data when they're turned on or in use.

The brief reads in part: 'The whereabouts of a cellular telephone are not "withdrawn from public view" until it is turned off, or its SIM card removed. Anyone who has ever used a smartphone is aware that the phone broadcasts its position on the map, leading to, for example, search results and advertising tailored for the user's location, or to a "ride-sharing" car appearing at one's address. And certainly anyone who has ever used any sort of cellular telephone knows that it must be in contact with an outside cell tower to function.'"
Handhelds

Video Which do You Prefer: Mobile Web Apps or Mobile Websites? (Video) 90

On December 28, 2015, Larry Seltzer wrote an article for Ars Technica provocatively titled (by Ars editors), The App-ocalypse: Can Web standards make mobile apps obsolete? A link to this article was posted on Slashdot, where it provoked a spirited discussion. In this video conversation, we talked to Larry about mobile aps vs. Web standards. Not surprisingly, he had some interesting things to say.
Blackberry

BlackBerry Will Continue Operations In Pakistan (fortune.com) 36

An anonymous reader writes: At the end of November, BlackBerry announced it would pull its operations out of Pakistan after the country's government demanded access to BlackBerry's user data. The Pakistan government has now dropped that request, and BlackBerry will continue operating there as a result. In a statement, BlackBerry COO Marty Beard said, "We are grateful to the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority and the Pakistani government for accepting BlackBerry's position that we cannot provide the content of our customers' BES traffic, nor will we provide access to our BES servers."
Verizon

Verizon Offering $650 To Switch To Their Network (pcmag.com) 83

An anonymous reader writes: Verizon is offering up to $650 to customers who switch to their network. PC Mag reports: "To get the discount, you'll need to port your number to Verizon, trade in your current device, and buy a new 4G LTE smartphone. Verizon will give you up to $650 on a prepaid card to cover the installment plan balance, minus the device trade-in value, or up to a $350 via a prepaid card to cover your old carrier's early termination fees (minus the device trade-in value). Your existing phone needs to be in 'good working condition,' and you have to keep your new Verizon line active for at least six months."
Microsoft

The Reason a Surface Phone Won't Fix Microsoft's Mobile Problem (windows10update.com) 154

Ammalgam writes: Microsoft's CMO recently admitted that Microsoft was behind in the mobile arena and needed time to build a competitive phone. In the Windows community however, some feel that the Windows Phone platform is out of time. On Windows10Update.com, the author discusses some of the reasons why a "Surface Phone" might not be enough to fundamentally change public perception about Microsoft mobile phones.
Microsoft

Microsoft CMO Confirms Development of 'Spiritual Equivalent' of Surface Phone (hothardware.com) 165

MojoKid writes: We all know what Microsoft wants to do with Windows 10. It's supposedly the last monolithic release of Windows and the ultimate plan is to unite hardware from different device categories under a single, universal ecosystem. That includes smartphones, which is an area where Microsoft has historically struggled hard to compete. The release of a premium "Surface Phone" of some sort, however, could prove to be a game changer. Microsoft is aggressively pushing Windows 10 upgrades, and makes no bones about it, all in an effort to get developers on board to build universal Windows 10 cross-platform apps and spur mobile development. In that respect, Microsoft needs to finally make an impact in the handset space and Windows 10 Mobile is the company's one shot to do just that. And it appears that Microsoft is working on what could be essentially a true Surface Phone, or at least something very similar. In a recent interview, Mary Jo Foley pushed Microsoft's Chief Marketing Officer Chris Capossela on the prospect of a Surface Phone and he confirmed the company is working on a "breakthrough" phone that is the "spiritual equivalent" of their very successful line of Surface branded products. Capossela has been with Microsoft for over two decades. He used to write speeches for Bill Gates and is intimately familiar with Microsoft's many products and strategies.
Cellphones

Switzerland Moves Toward a Universal Phone Charger Standard (vice.com) 401

Press2ToContinue writes: Apple's Lightning cable cartel be damned: Switzerland is moving forward with a plan for a single, universal phone charger across the country, standardizing phone chargers across the board. While the exact standard hasn't been mentioned yet, it wouldn't be hard to guess the standard: Micro USB, used across phone platforms, most especially Android, which has a gigantic chunk of the cell phone market worldwide.

The likely loser? Apple, which has relied on proprietary chargers since introducing the iPhone in 2007. While many companies have tried releasing generic cables, Apple often relies on DRM software to ensure that it's an Apple certified cable, charging $19 a piece for the Lightning charger used by the iPhone 5 and 6 and similar models.

What do you think -- are government-mandated standards for chargers a good idea? Despite the success of the standard household 3-prong electrical plug, doesn't this hamper progress?
China seems to have done most of the work on the wall-circuit side of the equation,several years ago. But as to the "standard" 3-prong plug, any particular plug type is only as universal as the sockets and voltages they supply.
Cellphones

Israeli Firm Creates a Device That Can Hack Any Nearby Phone (softpedia.com) 143

An anonymous reader writes: Israeli startup Rayzone created a device that can hack any smartphone that has its WiFi connection open. The device can steal passwords, files, contact lists, photos, and various others. Called InterApp, the device is dumb-proof (comes with a shiny admin panel), works on hundreds of devices at the same time, and leaves no forensics traces behind after the hack. The company says it will only sell it to law enforcement agencies.
Power

Sony Creating Sulfur-Based Batteries With 40% More Capacity Than Li-Ion (hothardware.com) 151

MojoKid writes: Since the original iPhone was released in 2007, we have seen some incredible advances in smartphone processing power along with a wealth of feature improvements like faster Wi-Fi and cellular speeds and larger, higher resolution displays. However, battery technology, for the most part, hasn't kept up. There are a few major battery suppliers but Sony is currently an underdog, commanding just 8 percent of the market for compact lithium-ion batteries. Its three largest competitors — Samsung (SDI), Panasonic and LG Chem — each command around 20 percent of the market. In an effort to change that, Sony is developing a new type of battery chemistry that can boost runtimes by 40 percent compared to lithium-ion batteries of the same volume. Sony's batteries use a sulfur compound instead of lithium compounds for the positive electrodes, reportedly allowing for much great energy density. Sulfur batteries can also supposedly be made 30 percent smaller than traditional lithium-ion cells while maintaining the same run times. The company is now working to ensure that the new battery chemistry is safe enough for commercial use.
Cellphones

Cellphones Really Are Not As Good As They Were 10 Years Ago At Making Calls (telegraph.co.uk) 215

whoever57 writes: If you ever thought that your cellphone does not make calls as well as the cellphone you had 10 years ago, you may be right. The UK's Ofcom (roughly equivalent to the FCC) tested cellphones and found that many needed a much higher signal than the standards recommend in order to send and receive data. This applied to 2G, 3G and 4G connections. Confirmation bias has me nodding along; Google Fi has been dropping a huge percentage of my calls lately, and I've been unfairly reminiscing about the good old days with a heavy Nokia 5100 series phone.
Blackberry

BlackBerry Exits Pakistan Amid User Privacy Concerns (blackberry.com) 71

An anonymous reader writes: BlackBerry has announced that it will pull its operations in Pakistan from today, quoting a recent government notice which read that the company would not be permitted to continue its services in the country after December for 'security reasons.' In a blog post released by BlackBerry today, chief operating officer Marty Beard confirmed the decision: 'The truth is that the Pakistani government wanted the ability to monitor all BlackBerry Enterprise Service traffic in the country, including every BES e-mail and BES BBM message.' He added: 'BlackBerry will not comply with that sort of directive.'
Iphone

Pursuit of Slenderness May Mean No More Headphone Jack In iPhone 7 (pcmag.com) 412

An intriguing rumor reported by PC Mag (and initially reported in this Japanese blog) holds that Apple may drop the standard headphone jack from the next revision of the iPhone, in favor of Bluetooth and Lightning connectors. From PC Mag's article: The big question is just how such a move might affect all the other headphones one can buy, as well as the other devices Apple makes. While we can envision some manufacturers making iPhone-exclusive variants of their headphones, we doubt that Apple's potential decision to chop out the headphone jack is going to suddenly make for a market full of Lightning-only headphones and earbuds. There are, after all, plenty of non-iPhone devices that still use the 3.5mm connection. And, of course, you could just pair any ol' pair of Bluetooth headphones or earbuds with the iPhone 7.

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