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The Case For a Safer Smartphone

Soulskill posted about 7 months ago | from the everyone's-dangerous-behind-the-wheel-except-me dept.

Cellphones 184

itwbennett writes: "According to the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, people who text and drive increase their chances of 'safety-critical events' by a multiple of 23.2. And new research is constantly rolling out, showing the same thing: 'We can't handle the visual, manual, and cognitive commitment of using a phone while driving,' writes blogger Kevin Purdy. What's needed, Purdy suggests, isn't more laws that will go ignored, but phones that know enough to stop giving us the distractions we ask them for: 'I think the next good phone, the next phone that makes some variant of the claim that it "Fits the way you live," needs to know that we don't know what is good for us when it comes to driving. We want to be entertained and shown new things while doing the often mundane or stressful task of driving. More specifically, those phones should know when we are driving, quiet or otherwise obscure updates from most apps, and be able to offer their most basic functions without needing to turn on a screen or type a single letter.'"

Amazon Reportedly Launching Smartphone This Year

Soulskill posted about 7 months ago | from the bookstores-building-gadgets dept.

Cellphones 38

According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, Amazon is working on a smartphone for release in the second half of the year. They're currently aiming to announce it by July and launch the end of September. One of the differentiating features of the phone is its capability to display 3-D images. "..the phone would employ retina-tracking technology embedded in four front-facing cameras, or sensors, to make some images appear to be 3-D, similar to a hologram." However, it may not be just a gimmick for 3-D movies and TV shows: "Sources tell Re/code that one advantage of this display will supposedly be that the phone can be moved from right to left to navigate, so a user can interact with the interface with only one hand." The report's sources say Amazon has been demonstrating the phone for developers in San Francisco and Seattle, but they're likely to have difficulty luring developers away from established platforms.

Wi-Fi Problems Dog Apple-Samsung Trial

timothy posted about 7 months ago | from the it's-the-little-things dept.

The Courts 80

alphadogg (971356) writes "There's a new sign on the door to Courtroom 5 at the federal courthouse in San Jose, the home to the Apple v. Samsung battle that's playing out this month: 'Please turn off all cell phones.' For a trial that centers on smartphones and the technology they use, it's more than a little ironic. The entire case might not even be taking place if the market wasn't so big and important, but the constant need for connectivity of everyone is causing problems in the court, hence the new sign. The problems have centered on the system that displays the court reporter's real-time transcription onto monitors on the desks of Judge Lucy Koh, the presiding judge in the case, and the lawyers of Apple and Samsung. The system, it seems, is connected via Wi-Fi and that connection keeps failing."

Fire Risk From Panasonic Batteries In Sony Vaio Laptops

Soulskill posted about 7 months ago | from the reclassified-as-variable-BTU-heating-units dept.

Sony 36

jones_supa writes: "Sony is warning about a potential fire risk in some of its Vaio Fit 11A portable notebooks (the final model under the Vaio brand, which was sold off in February). The company is asking customers to stop using this laptop model as soon as possible. Sony said it had received three reports of overheating batteries causing partial burns to Vaio computers. The company stopped selling the product at the beginning of this month, with nearly 26,000 units in the wild. The manufacturer and company responsible for the faulty batteries is Panasonic. 'A Panasonic spokeswoman confirmed the company had provided the batteries to Sony under an outsourcing contract. She declined to say which other computer makers had received Panasonic batteries, as such information is confidential. However, she said the batteries are customized according to clients' requirements and differ depending on client.'"

In-Flight Wi-Fi Provider Going Above and Beyond To Help Feds Spy

Soulskill posted about 7 months ago | from the come-fly-with-the-friendly-spies dept.

Privacy 78

An anonymous reader sends in a report from Wired that GoGo, a company the provides in-flight Wi-Fi access to airline passengers, seems to be making every effort to assist law enforcement agencies with wiretaps. From the article: "Gogo and others that provide Wi-Fi aboard aircraft must follow the same wiretap provisions that require telecoms and terrestrial ISPs to assist U.S. law enforcement and the NSA in tracking users when so ordered. But they may be doing more than the law requires. According to a letter (PDF) Gogo submitted to the Federal Communications Commission, the company voluntarily exceeded the requirements of the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act, or CALEA, by adding capabilities to its service at the request of law enforcement. The revelation alarms civil liberties groups, which say companies should not be cutting deals with the government that may enhance the ability to monitor or track users."

China Approves Microsoft-Nokia Deal, Gets Patent Concessions In Return

Soulskill posted about 7 months ago | from the go-big-or-go-home dept.

Microsoft 26

itwbennett writes: "On Tuesday, China's Ministry of Commerce gave conditional regulatory approval to Microsoft's purchase of Nokia's Devices & Services business. The $7.2 billion deal means that Microsoft could very soon produce its own smartphones using the Windows Phone operating system. In return, China is requiring Microsoft and Nokia to make promises on fair patent use, fearing that the proposed acquisition between the two companies could spell trouble for the nation's Android device makers."

Qualcomm Announces Next-Gen Snapdragon 808 and 810 SoCs

Unknown Lamer posted about 7 months ago | from the all-the-better-to-melt-your-pocket dept.

Power 47

MojoKid (1002251) writes "Qualcomm has announced two fundamentally new chips today with updated CPU cores as well as Qualcomm's new Adreno 400-class GPU. The Snapdragon 808 and the Snapdragon 810 have been unveiled with a host of new architectural enhancements. The Snapdragon 810 will be the highest-end solution, with a quad-core ARM Cortex-A57 paired alongside four low-power Cortex-A53 cores.

The Snapdragon 808 will also use a big.Little design, but the core layouts will be asymmetric — two Cortex-A57's paired with four Cortex-A53's. The Cortex-A57 is, by all accounts, an extremely capable processor — which means a pair of them in a dual-core configuration should be more than capable of driving a high-end smartphone. Both SoC's will use a 20nm radio and a 28nm RF transceiver. That's a major step forward for Qualcomm (most RF today is built on 40nm). RF circuits typically lag behind digital logic by at least one process node. Given that RF currently accounts for some 15% of the total area and 30-40% of the PCB, the benefits of moving to a smaller manufacturing process for the RF circuit are significant."
To clarify, the 810 can use a combination of the Cortex-A57 and Cortex-A53 cores so a single task that needs a lot of power won't cause as large of a power jump. All of the chips are 64-bit ARM too.

Nanodot-Based Smartphone Battery Recharges In 30 Seconds

samzenpus posted about 7 months ago | from the greased-lightning dept.

Power 227

Zothecula (1870348) writes "At Microsoft's Think Next symposium in Tel Aviv, Israeli startup StoreDot has demonstrated the prototype of a nanodot-based smartphone battery it claims can fully charge in just under 30 seconds. With the company having plans for mass production, this technology could change the way we interact with portable electronics, and perhaps even help realize the dream of a fast-charging electric car."

CryptoPhone Sales Jump To 100,000+, Even at $3500

timothy posted about 7 months ago | from the when-envelopes-are-outlawed dept.

Encryption 68

An anonymous reader writes "Since Edward Snowden started making NSA files public last year, GSMK has seen a jump in sales. There are more than 100,000 CryptoPhones in use today. How secure they really are will be determined in the future. But I'm sure that some government agencies, not just in the U.S., are very interested in getting a list of users." For the price the company's charging for a modified Galaxy S3, it had better be as secure as they claim; otherwise, the free and open source RedPhone from Moxie Marlinspike's Whisper Systems seems like something to think about first.

Google Project Ara Design Will Use Electro-Permanent Magnets To Lock In Modules

Soulskill posted about 7 months ago | from the magnets-how-the-heck-to-they-work dept.

Cellphones 62

MojoKid writes: "Google's Project Ara, an effort to develop a modular smartphone platform, sounded at first as much like vaporware, but Google is actually making it happen. In an upbeat video, Dave Hakkens (the guy who created the Phonebloks design that appears to be the conceptual basis for Project Ara) visited the Google campus to see what progress is being made on the project. The teams working on Project Ara have figured out a key solution to one of the first problems they encountered, which was how to keep all the modules stuck together. They decided to use electro-permanent magnets. In terms of design, they've decided not to cover up the modules, instead making their very modularity part of the aesthetic appeal. 3D Systems is involved on campus, as they're delivering the 3D printing technology to make covers for the modules."

New MU-MIMO Standard Could Allow For Gigabit WiFi Throughput

timothy posted about 7 months ago | from the it-slices-it-dices-it-emits-radiation dept.

Networking 32

MojoKid (1002251) writes "Today, Qualcomm is announcing full support for a new wireless transmission method that could significantly boost performance on crowded networks. The new standard, MU-MIMO (Multiple User — Multiple Input and Multiple Output) has a clunky name — but could make a significant difference to home network speeds and make gigabit WiFi a practical reality. MU-MIMO is part of the 802.11ac Release 2 standard, so this isn't just a custom, Qualcomm-only feature. In SU-MIMO mode, a wireless router creates time slices for every device it detects on the network. Every active device on the network slows down the total system bandwidth — the router has to pay attention to every device, and it can only pay attention to one phone, tablet, or laptop at a time. The difference between single-user and multi-user configurations is that where SU can only serve one client at a time and can therefore only allocate a fraction of total bandwidth to any given device, MU can create groups of devices and communicate with all three simultaneously."

European Parliament Votes For Net Neutrality, Forbids Mobile Roaming Costs

timothy posted about 7 months ago | from the everything-not-expressly-permitted dept.

Communications 148

First time accepted submitter TBerben (1061176) writes "The European Parliament has voted to accept the telecommunications reform bill. This bill simultaneously forbids mobile providers from charging roaming costs as of December 15, 2015 and guarantees net neutrality. Previous versions of the bill contained a much weaker definition of net neutrality, offering exemptions for 'specialized services,' but this was superseded in an amendment (original link, in Dutch) submitted by Dutch MEP Marietje Schaake (liberal fraction). Note that the legislation is not yet definitive: the Council of Ministers still has the deciding vote, but they are expected to follow the EP's vote."

App Developers, It's Time For a Reality Check

Soulskill posted about 7 months ago | from the attack-of-the-clones dept.

Software 161

Nerval's Lobster writes: "An article in the Harvard Business Review does its best to punch a small hole in the startup-hype balloon. 'Encouraging kids to blow off schoolwork to write apps, or skip college to become entrepreneurs, is like advising them to take their college money and invest it in PowerBall,' Jerry Davis, Wilbur K. Pierpont professor of management at the Ross School of Business and the editor of Administrative Science Quarterly, wrote in that column. 'A few may win big; many or most will end up living with their moms.' Whether or not the unfortunate developer ends up back in the childhood bedroom, it's true that, with millions of apps available across all mobile platforms, it's increasingly difficult for independent developers to stand out. Compounding the problem, some of the hottest companies out there for developers and programmers don't have nearly enough job openings to absorb the flood of graduates from the world's universities. So what's a developer to do? Continue to plow forward, with adjusted expectations: the prospect of becoming the next Mark Zuckerberg is just too tantalizing for many people to pass up, even if the chances of wild success are smaller than anyone rational would like to admit."

Microsoft: Start Menu Returns, Windows Free For Small Device OEMs, Cortana Beta

Soulskill posted about 7 months ago | from the giving-in dept.

Microsoft 387

At Microsoft's BUILD conference today, the company announced that the Start Menu will officially be returning to Windows 8.1. It will combine the Windows 7 Start Menu with a handful of Metro-style tiles. They're also making it so Windows 8 apps can run in windows using the normal desktop environment. In addition to the desktop announcements, Microsoft also talked about big changes for Windows on mobile devices and Internet-of-Things devices. The company will be giving Windows away for free to OEMs making phones and tablets (9" screens and smaller), and for IoT devices that can run it. Microsoft also finally unveiled Cortana, their digital assistant software that's similar to Siri.

A Third of Consumers Who Bought Wearable Devices Have Ditched Them

Soulskill posted about 7 months ago | from the still-waiting-on-a-smart-cummerbund dept.

Portables 180

An anonymous reader writes "The Guardian reports on research (PDF) into the (alleged) wearable device trend: fully one third of customers who bought one stopped using it within six months. Activity trackers fared even worse: half of them are collecting dust. 'For comparison, you wouldn't find people from the early days of the smartphone saying that they'd abandoned their BlackBerry, Treo or Windows Mobile or Symbian phone. They were the early adopters, and they found utility in having email and (sometimes) web pages on the move. The idea of giving them up just wouldn't occur to them. ... So far, there aren't clear signs of quite what it is that smartwatches and fitness trackers are replacing, in the way that [early] music players did. Useful new technology has to replace or simplify some function, ideally; otherwise it has the challenge of persuading us that we need this entirely new thing. Smartphones are simpler ways to collect your email – and also make phone calls and surf the web (and so on). Fitness trackers... let you track your fitness. But given that 41% of people run with their smartphones, you might get by with a movement tracking app instead. The trouble with devices that claim to track your steps is they're so easily hoaxed by waving your arms around.'"

Apple Patent Could Herald Interchangeable iPhone Camera Lenses

timothy posted about 7 months ago | from the plug-and-shoot dept.

Input Devices 160

concertina226 (2447056) writes with this excerpt from IBTimes: "Apple has been granted a patent for interchangeable camera lenses — which could be used on the up-coming iPhone 6. The application was granted by the US Patent and Trademark Office in remarkably quick time, according to Patently Apple. Patent No. 8,687,299 has been granted to Apple today for 'Bayonet attachment mechanisms,' i.e. a bayonet mount that is able to securely attach lenses to an iOS device, such as an iPhone, iPod touch or iPad. A bayonet mount is a fastening mechanism which is typically seen on cameras, used to attach lenses to the camera body. At the moment, there is no adjustable camera lens system in existence for smartphones, although there are lots of third party macro lens products that consumers can buy to clip onto their smartphone."

Smartphone Kill-Switch Could Save Consumers $2.6 Billion

samzenpus posted about 7 months ago | from the kill-it dept.

The Almighty Buck 218

itwbennett (1594911) writes "Creighton University professor William Duckworth has released a report finding that kill-switch technology that remotely makes a stolen smartphone useless could save American consumers up to $2.6 billion per year — mostly from reduced insurance premiums. Duckworth estimated that Americans currently spend around $580 million replacing stolen phones each year and $4.8 billion paying for handset insurance. If a kill-switch led to a sharp reduction in theft of phones, most of the $580 million spent on replacing stolen phones would be saved. And a further $2 billion in savings could be realized by switching to cheaper insurance plans that don't cover theft."

WSJ: Prepare To Hang Up the Phone — Forever

Soulskill posted about 7 months ago | from the rotary-phones-won't-breed-in-captivity dept.

Communications 449

retroworks writes: "Telecom giants AT&T and Verizon Communications are lobbying states, one by one, to hang up the plain, old telephone system, what the industry now calls POTS — the copper-wired landline phone system whose reliability and reach made the U.S. a communications powerhouse for more than 100 years. Is landline obsolete, and should be immune from grandparents-era social protection? The article continues, 'Last week, Michigan joined more than 30 other states that have passed or are considering laws that restrict state-government oversight and eliminate "carrier of last resort" mandates, effectively ending the universal-service guarantee that gives every U.S. resident access to local-exchange wireline telephone service, the POTS. (There are no federal regulations guaranteeing Internet access.) ... In Mantoloking, N.J., Verizon wants to replace the landline system, which Hurricane Sandy wiped out, with its wireless Voice Link. That would make it the first entire town to go landline-less, a move that isn't sitting well with all residents."

China Arrests 1,500 People For Sending Spam Messages From Fake Mobile Bases

samzenpus posted about 7 months ago | from the watch-what-you-text dept.

China 35

concertina226 (2447056) writes "Chinese authorities have detained a total of 1,530 suspects in a crackdown on spam SMS text messages being sent out by illegal telecoms equipment, according to Chinese news agency ECNS. Over 2,600 fake mobile base stations were seized and 24 sites manufacturing illegal telecoms equipment shut down as part of a massive nationwide operation involving nine central government and Communist Party of China departments. A report released by Trend Micro this month looked into the telecoms equipment black market in China (PDF) and found that cybercriminals routinely use either a GSM modem, an internet short message gateway and an SMS server to send out spam messages. On the underground market, SMS servers come in 'all-in-one' packages that include a laptop, a GSM mobile phone, an SMS server, an antenna to send out the fake signal and a USB cable, all for RMB 45,000 (£4,355)."

Russian Officials Dump iPads For Samsung Tablets Over Spy Fears

timothy posted about 7 months ago | from the putin-actually-invented-it dept.

Android 198

wiredmikey writes: "Russian government officials have swapped their iPads for Samsung tablets to ensure tighter security, the telecoms minister told news agencies on Wednesday. Journalists spotted that ministers at a cabinet meeting were no longer using Apple tablets, and minister Nikolai Nikiforov confirmed the changeover "took place not so long ago." He said the ministers' new Samsungs were "specially protected devices that can be used to work with confidential information." This isn't the first time Russian powers have had concerns over mobile. In August 2012, Russia unveiled a prototype tablet with its own "almost Android" mobile OS that has the remarkably familiar feel of an Android but with bolstered encryption. In an even more paranoid move, this past July a Russian state service in charge of safeguarding Kremlin communications was looking to purchase an array of old-fashioned typewriters to prevent leaks from computer hardware."

Taxis By Algorithm: Streamlining City Transport With Graph Theory

timothy posted about 7 months ago | from the upsetting-the-big-apple-cartel dept.

Transportation 72

New submitter Mark Buchanan (3595113) writes with a story about research from scientists at MIT, Cornell and elsewhere showing "that big city taxi systems could be made 40% more efficient with device-enabled taxi sharing. We could cut miles driven, costs, and pollution with the right application of just data and algorithms, and do it while introducing no more than a 5 minute delay to any person's trip. " Letting such algorithms compete seems an excellent reason to encourage, rather than reject by law, ride-coordination services like Uber and Lyft.

Ubuntu Phone Isn't Important Enough To Demand an Open Source Baseband

Unknown Lamer posted about 7 months ago | from the pick-your-battles dept.

Cellphones 137

colinneagle (2544914) writes "Canonical is producing a version of the Ubuntu Linux distribution specifically for smartphones, but Richard Tynan, writing for PrivacyInternational.org, recently pointed out that the baseband in Ubuntu-powered phones will remain proprietary. ... Some have criticized Canonical for missing an opportunity to push for a fully Open Source smartphone, but in order to fix this problem (and open up the code for this super-critical bit of software), we need companies that have a large amount of clout, in the smartphone market, to make it a priority. Canonical (with Ubuntu) just doesn't have that clout yet. They're just now dipping their toes into the smartphone waters. But you know who does have that clout? Google.

Google has made a point of touting Open Source (at least sometimes), and they are the undisputed king of the smartphone operating system world. And yet I hear no big moves by Google to encourage phone manufacturers to utilize Open Source baseband firmware, such as OsmocomBB. So has Canonical missed an opportunity? No. Not yet. If (some may say 'when') Ubuntu gains a critical amount of market share in the phone world, that will be their chance to pressure manufacturers to produce a truly Open Source phone. Until then, Canonical needs to continue to work within the world we have today."

One Billion Android Devices Open To Privilege Escalation

timothy posted about 7 months ago | from the that's-beeeeeellion dept.

Android 117

msm1267 (2804139) writes "The first deep look into the security of the Android patch installation process, specifically its Package Management Service (PMS), has revealed a weakness that puts potentially every Android device at risk for privilege escalation attacks. Researchers from Indiana University and Microsoft published a paper that describes a new set of Android vulnerabilities they call Pileup flaws, and also introduces a new scanner called SecUP that detects malicious apps already on a device lying in wait for elevated privileges. The vulnerability occurs in the way PMS handles updates to the myriad flavors of Android in circulation today. The researchers say PMS improperly vets apps on lower versions of Android that request OS or app privileges that may not exist on the older Android version, but are granted automatically once the system is updated.

The researchers said they found a half-dozen different Pileup flaws within Android's Package Management Service, and confirmed those vulnerabilities are present in all Android Open Source Project versions and more than 3,500 customized versions of Android developed by handset makers and carriers; more than one billion Android devices are likely impacted, they said."
Handily enough, the original paper is not paywalled.

Oppo's New Phone Hits 538 PPI

timothy posted about 7 months ago | from the how's-your-vision? dept.

Cellphones 217

itwbennett (1594911) writes "Oppo Electronics has taken off the wraps on its first LTE phone, and it packs more technology than most if not all laptops. The Find 7 is a 5.5" phone and is the first to support 2560 x 1440 resolution [538 PPI] (by comparison, the Samsung Galaxy S5 has 441 PPI). 'Another striking and unique feature of the phone is its 2.5GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor,' writes blogger Andy Patrizio. 'This is Qualcomm's first chip to feature its Gobi True 4G LTE World Mode, supporting LTE FDD, LTE TDD, WCDMA, CDMA1x, EV-DO, TD-SCDMA and GSM4. Translation: this phone will work on LTE all over the world.'"

WPA2 Wireless Security Crackable WIth "Relative Ease"

timothy posted about 7 months ago | from the relatively-absolute dept.

Wireless Networking 150

An anonymous reader writes "Achilleas Tsitroulis of Brunel University, UK, Dimitris Lampoudis of the University of Macedonia, Greece and Emmanuel Tsekleves of Lancaster University, UK, have investigated the vulnerabilities in WPA2 and present its weakness. They say that this wireless security system might now be breached with relative ease [original, paywalled paper] by a malicious attack on a network. They suggest that it is now a matter of urgency that security experts and programmers work together to remove the vulnerabilities in WPA2 in order to bolster its security or to develop alternative protocols to keep our wireless networks safe from hackers and malware."

Wireless Carriers In Huge Washington Lobby Fight Over Spectrum Auction

timothy posted about 7 months ago | from the rent-seeking-on-display dept.

Wireless Networking 51

First time accepted submitter techpolicy (3586897) writes "The big four wireless carriers are spending millions of dollars to hire professors, fund Washington think tanks and to meet with the Federal Communications Commission to try to convince the agency to write rules for an upcoming auction of spectrum that favor them, according to an article posted by the Center for Public Integrity in Washington. The frequencies are needed to bolster or build out their nationwide networks — and this kind of low-band spectrum won't be up for sale for a very long time. The biggest fight is over a rule that would limit how much AT&T and Verizon can get of these valuable frequencies. How it plays out will determine who has control over your smartphone."

Google's Project Tango Headed To International Space Station

Soulskill posted about 7 months ago | from the much-cheaper-than-testing-in-somebody's-basement dept.

Space 22

itwbennett (1594911) writes "A pair of Google's Project Tango phones, the prototype smartphone packed with sensors so it can learn and sense the world around it, is heading to the International Space Station on the upcoming Orbital 2 mission where they will be used to help develop autonomous flying robots. Work on the robots is already going on at NASA's Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley, and this week the space agency let a small group of reporters visit its lab and see some of the research."

Tor Project: Fake Tor App Has Been In Apple's App Store For Months

Unknown Lamer posted about 7 months ago | from the well-he-paid-his-developer-fees-so-... dept.

Iphone 78

itwbennett (1594911) writes "For the past several months Tor developers have unsuccessfully been trying to convince Apple to remove from its iOS App Store what they believe to be a fake and potentially malicious Tor Browser application. According to subsequent messages on the bug tracker, a complaint was filed with Apple on Dec. 26 with Apple reportedly responding on Jan. 3 saying it would give a chance to the app's developer to defend it. More than two months later, the Tor Browser app created by a developer named Ronen is available still in the App Store. The issue came into the public spotlight Wednesday when people involved in the Tor Project took to Twitter to make their concerns heard. Apple did not respond to IDG News Service's request for comment."

A Call For Rollbacks To Previous Versions of Software

timothy posted about 7 months ago | from the forced-upgrades-are-a-pox-on-the-world dept.

Software 199

colinneagle writes "In a blog post, Andy Patrizio laments the trend — made more common in the mobile world — of companies pushing software updates ahead without the ability to roll back to previous versions in the event that the user simply doesn't like it. iOS 7.1, for example, has reportedly been killing some users' battery power, and users of the iTunes library app TuneUp will remember how the much-maligned version 3.0 effectively killed the company behind it (new owners have since taken over TuneUp and plans to bring back the older version).

The ability to undo a problematic install should be mandatory, but in too many instances it is not. That's because software developers are always operating under the assumption that the latest version is the greatest version, when it may not be. This is especially true in the smartphone and tablet world. There is no rollback to be had for anything in the iOS and Android worlds. Until the day comes when software developers start releasing perfectly functioning, error-free code, we need the ability to go backwards with all software."

Brazil Blocks Foreign Mobile Phones

timothy posted about 7 months ago | from the taxation-failing-to-buy-civilization dept.

Cellphones 97

First time accepted submitter fabrica64 writes "The Brazilian government has today started blocking mobile phones not sold in Brazil (Portuguese-language original), i.e. not having paid sales taxes here. The blocking is based on IMEI, and if you come to Brazil for the World Cup in June and think of buying a Brazilian SIM card to call locally at lower rates, then it won't work because your mobile's IMEI will be blacklisted as not sold in Brazil. This is not a joke, it's true!"

Camera Module Problems May Delay Samsung's Galaxy S5

timothy posted about 7 months ago | from the tiny-little-pieces dept.

Bug 70

concertina226 writes "There's less than a month to go before Samsung launches its new flagship Galaxy S5 smartphone worldwide on 11 April, and the new device has still not gone into mass production due to camera module manufacturing problems. The 16 megapixel camera module consists of six plastic pieces, one more piece than in the existing 13 megapixel camera modules in the Galaxy S4. The problem that Samsung is having is that even though the number of plastic pieces has gone up, the thickness of each piece has remained the same, so in order to fit the new camera module into the Galaxy S5, the lens makers will likely have to develop new technology to make thinner lenses. Not only that, joining six pieces together instead of five for the 13 megapixel camera modules increases the risk of optical faults surfacing at the lens manufacturers' plants dramatically."

Harsh Wireless Conditions? Send In the Drone Hot Spot

samzenpus posted about 7 months ago | from the stay-connected dept.

Wireless Networking 20

coondoggie writes "The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has moved along a project it says would use hot-spot enabled drones to bring wireless communications to even the most distant and harsh environments. The project known as Fixed Wireless at a Distance is designed specifically to overcome the challenge inherent with cell communication in remote areas and this week the agency awarded L-3 $16.4 million to support the next iteration of the system."

Goodbye, Google Voice

timothy posted about 7 months ago | from the your-mileage-may-vary dept.

Communications 166

itwbennett writes "The trouble with Google Voice is that the way we use phones has changed — and it hasn't kept up with the times: 'Fewer people have a mobile phone and a business line and a home line that might make One Number For All so. Text message costs (which are actually close to nothing) are almost always bundled into contract costs. Automatic voice transcription, while still a mean feat, is no longer such a magic trick,' writes Kevin Purdy in a blog post explaining why he's breaking up with Google Voice. The main problem is that, despite some very cool features, Google Voice doesn't play well with others — even apps in its own family. And it doesn't look as though that's going to get better anytime soon." I've been very happy with Google Voice for a few years now, and one reason is the transcribed voice messages, which may get hilariously garbled sometimes, but are almost always correct enough to be useful.

EU Votes For Universal Phone Charger

Soulskill posted about 7 months ago | from the guilty-as-charged dept.

Cellphones 358

SmartAboutThings writes "The European Union has voted in favor of a draft legislation which lists among the 'essential requirements' of electrical devices approved by the EU a compatibility with 'universal' chargers. According to a German MEP, this move will eliminate 51,000 tonnes of electronic waste. The draft law was approved by an overwhelming majority: 550 votes to 12. At the moment, according to estimates, there are around 30 different types of charger on the market, but manufacturers have two years at their disposal to get ready for the new restriction."

Google and Microsoft Both Want To Stop Dual-Boot Windows/Android Device

Soulskill posted about 7 months ago | from the partners-in-nope dept.

Google 153

An anonymous reader writes "The laptop has undergone many changes over the past decade. At various times, netbooks, ultrabooks, and Chromebooks have been en vogue. Over the past several months, we've seen signs of the next step in the laptop's evolution: Android/Windows dual-boot laptops. Several companies have built these machines already, including Asus and its upcoming Transformer Book Duet TD300. However, neither Google nor Microsoft seem to want such an unholy marriage of operating systems, and they've both pressured Asus to kill off the dual-boot product lines. Asus has now complied. 'Google has little incentive to approve dual-OS models, since that could help Microsoft move into mobile devices where Android is dominant. ... Microsoft has its own reasons for not wanting to share space on computers with Google, particularly on business-oriented desktop and laptop PCs that could give the Internet giant an entry point into a Microsoft stronghold. Computer makers that make dual-OS machines risk jeopardizing a flow of marketing funds from Microsoft that are an important economic force in the low-margin PC business.'"

How Steve Jobs Got the iPhone Into Japan

samzenpus posted about 8 months ago | from the back-in-the-day dept.

Iphone 104

hcs_$reboot writes "Masatoshi Son, SoftBank CEO, remembers the early days when he tried to cut a deal with Steve Jobs in order to be the first to offer the not-even-named-iPhone-yet- 'new phone' from Apple, back in 2005. At the time, Son didn't even own a mobile carrier. He then purchased Vodafone, and was indeed the first to sell the iPhone in 2008 (then Au-Kddi in 2011, and DoCoMo in 2013). Today, 75% of smartphones sold in Japan are iPhones."

Microsoft Dumping License Fees For Windows Phone?

timothy posted about 8 months ago | from the as-price-approaches-zero dept.

Windows 125

Nerval's Lobster writes "For years, Microsoft remained adamant about its licensing fees for Windows Phone: if a smartphone manufacturer wanted to include the software on its devices, it would need to pay Microsoft a certain amount per unit. That was a logical strategy for Microsoft, which became a very big company thanks to licensing fees for Windows and other platforms. Unlike some of those other products, however, Windows Phone has struggled for adoption in its marketplace, which is dominated by Apple and Google. In response, suggests the Times of India, Microsoft may have dumped licensing fees for two Indian smartphone makers, Karbonn and Lava (Xolo). Microsoft's biggest rival, Google, gives its Android mobile operating system away for free, a maneuver that helped it gain spectacular market-share in a relatively short amount of time. If Microsoft pursues a similar strategy in different markets, it could encourage more smartphone manufacturers to produce Windows Phone devices, which could increase the platform's market-share—but there are no guarantees that scenario will actually play out. The smartphone market is increasingly saturated, and Microsoft's opponents have no intention of allowing Windows Phone to gain any ground."

Replicant Hackers Find and Close Samsung Galaxy Back-door

timothy posted about 8 months ago | from the in-their-spare-time dept.

Handhelds 81

gnujoshua writes "Paul Kocialkowski (PaulK), a developer for the Replicant project, a fully free/libre version of Android, wrote a guest blog post for the Free Software Foundation announcing that whlie hacking on the Samsung Galaxy, they "discovered that the proprietary program running on the applications processor in charge of handling the communication protocol with the modem actually implements a back-door that lets the modem perform remote file I/O operations on the file system." They then replaced the proprietary program with free software.

While it may be a while before we can have a 100% free software microcode/firmware on the the cellular hardware itself, isolating that hardware from the rest of your programming and data is a seemingly important step that we can take right now. At least to the FSF anyhow. What do others think: is a 100% free software mobile device important to you?"

Replicant OS Developers Find Backdoor In Samsung Galaxy Devices

Soulskill posted about 8 months ago | from the caught-out dept.

Android 126

An anonymous reader writes "Developers of the Free Software Foundation-endorsed Replicant OS have uncovered a backdoor through Android on Samsung Galaxy devices and the Nexus S. The research indicates the proprietary Android versions have a blob handling communication with the modem using Samsung's IPC protocol and in turn there's a set of commands that allow the modem to do remote I/O operations on the phone's storage. Replicant's open-source version of Android does away with the Samsung library to fend off the potential backdoor issue."

Is One Laptop Per Child Winding Down?

Soulskill posted about 8 months ago | from the still-waiting-on-one-steam-machine-per-child dept.

Portables 111

An anonymous reader sends this quote from OLPC News about whether the One Laptop Per Child project can expect to continue much longer: "Here is a question for you: 8 years on, would you recommend anyone start a new deployment with XO-1 laptops? With the hardware now long past its life expectancy, spare parts hard to find, and zero support from the One Laptop Per Child organization, its time to face reality. The XO-1 laptop is history. Sadly, so is Sugar. Once the flagship of OLPC's creativity in redrawing the human-computer interaction, few are coding for it and new XO variants are mostly Android/Gnome+Fedora dual boots. Finally, OLPC Boston is completely gone. No staff, no consultants, not even a physical office. Nicholas Negroponte long ago moved onto the global literacy X-Prize project." A response from OLPC says their mission is "far from over." They add, "OLPC also has outsourced many of the software and development units because the organization is becoming more hardware and OS agnostic, concentrating on its core values – education."

Apple Demands $40 Per Samsung Phone For 5 Software Patents

timothy posted about 8 months ago | from the we-had-these-ideas-separately dept.

Cellphones 406

An anonymous reader writes "Apple and Samsung couldn't agree on a patent cross-license even though their CEOs met recently. What could be the reason (or one of the reasons) is that Apple is asking for obscenely high patent royalties. At the March 31 trial an Apple-hired expert will present to a California jury (already the third jury trial in this dispute) a damages claim of $40 per device (phone or tablet) for just a handful of software patents. The patents are related to, but don't cover all aspects and elements of, functionalities like slide-to-unlock, autocorrect, data synchronization, unified search and the famous tap-on-phone-number-to-dial feature. Google says there are 250,000 patentable inventions in a smartphone. On average, Apple wants $8 per patent per device. That would add a patent licensing bill of $2 million to each gadget. So Apple and Samsung will be back to court again later this month."

Ask Slashdot: How Can I Prepare For the Theft of My Android Phone?

Unknown Lamer posted about 8 months ago | from the self-destruct-fuse dept.

Android 374

New submitter Adam Jorgensen writes "Last week my 4-week old Moto G phone was stolen while getting onto the train at Salt River in Cape Town, South Africa. That in itself is no big deal. Cellphone theft is a huge problem here in South Africa and I've had at least two previous cellphones stolen. The big deal this time, for me at least, was that this was the first time I've lost an Android phone to theft. When I actually sat down and thought about it, losing a fully configured Android phone is actually a big deal as it provides ready access to all kinds of accounts, including ones Google account. This could potentially allow the thief to engage in all kinds of malicious behavior, some of which could have major implications beyond the scope of the theft.

Luckily for me it seems that the thief did the usual thing: Dumped the SIM card, wiped the phone, and switched it off. It's probably had its IMEI changed by now and been sold on to some oblivious punter, possibly some oblivious punter in another country. Still, the potential for serious issue is making me have second thoughts about replacing the phone with anything capable of doing much more than calling. My question is this: Are there any serious solutions out there for Android that secure against theft?"

Yik Yak, After Complaints From Schools, Suspends Its Service In Chicago

timothy posted about 8 months ago | from the best-kind-of-publicity dept.

Communications 167

The Chicago Tribune reports that Yik Yak, a mobile app that can (among other things) be used for anonymous communications, has drawn complaints from several local schools, who are unhappy that students can use it to bully or pester others. "'The problem, as you might imagine, is that the anonymity is empowering certain individuals to post comments about others that are hurtful, harassing and sometimes quite disturbing,' Joseph Ruggiero, head of the Upper School at Francis W. Parker School in the Lincoln Park neighborhood, wrote in an email to parents last week. ... In light of the controversy, Yik Yak's co-founder said the company was disabling the app in the Chicago area and will attempt to specifically prevent it from being used on high school or middle school grounds."

Google Blocking Asus's Android-Windows "Duet"?

timothy posted about 8 months ago | from the when-free-will-isn't-quite-good-enough dept.

Android 194

theodp writes "Android is free and open," reiterated Google Android Chief Andy Rubin in 2010 as Microsoft launched Windows Phone 7. Rubin added, 'Competition is good for the consumer and if somebody has an idea for a feature or a piece of functionality in their platform and Android doesn't do it, great. I think it's good to have the benefit of choice, but in the end I don't think the world needs another platform.' But now, CNET and Digitimes report that Google is holding up the Asus Transformer Book Duet TD300 (specs), a laptop-tablet hybrid that can instantly switch between Android and Windows 8.1. A source familiar with the Asus Duet told CNET that Google is the one that has not favored the idea, while Microsoft has not, to date, been actively opposed to the idea. 'If true,' reports Apple Insider, 'it may not be the first time Google has helped to quash such a product.' South Korean electronics giant Samsung quietly canceled plans for its hybrid Ativ Q tablet last year, and Digitimes notes that Asus may not be the only company to bow to Google's wishes."

Firefox OS Will Become the Mobile OS To Beat

Unknown Lamer posted about 8 months ago | from the foxes-are-friendlier-than-androids dept.

Firefox 205

mattydread23 writes with an opinion piece naming a few reasons Firefox OS is likely to succeed "It's geared toward low-powered hardware in a way that Google doesn't care as much about with Android, it's cheap enough for the pre-paid phones that are much more common than post-paid in developing countries, and most important, there are still 3.5 billion people in the world who have feature phones and for whom this will be an amazing upgrade." I'd push greater commitment to keeping the essential components of the system under FOSS licenses onto the head of that list.

Stanford Team Tries For Better Wi-Fi In Crowded Buildings

samzenpus posted about 8 months ago | from the greased-lightning dept.

Wireless Networking 43

alphadogg writes "Having lots of Wi-Fi networks packed into a condominium or apartment building can hurt everyone's wireless performance, but Stanford University researchers say they've found a way to turn crowding into an advantage. In a dorm on the Stanford campus, they're building a single, dense Wi-Fi infrastructure that each resident can use and manage like their own private network. That means the shared system, called BeHop, can be centrally managed for maximum performance and efficiency while users still assign their own SSIDs, passwords and other settings. The Stanford project is making this happen with inexpensive, consumer-grade access points and SDN (software-defined networking)."

Samsung Galaxy Glass Patent Plans To Turn Fingers Into a Keyboard

timothy posted about 8 months ago | from the this-and-google-glass-equals-full-societal-breakdown dept.

Input Devices 63

rjmarvin writes "Samsung looks to have found a way around voice commands for smart glasses by projecting an augmented reality keyboard onto users' hands. Galaxy Glass wearers' thumbs are used as input devices, tapping different areas of their fingers where various keys are virtually mapped. According to the August 2013 patent filing with the WIPO and South Korea's Intellectual Property Office, Samsung states that voice controls are too imprecise a technology, which are too heavily impacted by the noise levels of the surrounding environment."

Target Rich Environment: Mobile Malware in China

timothy posted about 8 months ago | from the making-it-up-on-volume dept.

China 11

An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt from Help-Net Security (based on the linked Trend Micro report): "Every country's cybercriminal underground market has distinct characteristics, and with 500 million national mobile Internet users and the number continuously rising, the Chinese underground market is awash with cyber crooks buying and selling services and devices aimed at taking advantage of them. Trend Micro's senior threat researchers Lion Gu has been scouring forums, online shops and QQ chats to give us a sense of what is actually going on on this burgeoning mobile underground. Mobile apps that stealthily subscribe users to premium services are, naturally, very popular with cyber crooks in China as in the rest of the world. Premium service numbers can also be bought on underground markets. Network carriers usually assign premium service numbers to qualified service providers, but obviously some of them are not [averse to] selling them on to criminals."

Comcast Turning Chicago Homes Into Xfinity Hotspots

Soulskill posted about 8 months ago | from the airwave-rights-are-the-new-mineral-rights-for-homeowners dept.

Networking 253

BUL2294 writes "The Chicago Tribune is reporting that, over the next few months in Chicago, Comcast is turning on a feature that turns customer networks into public Wi-Fi hotspots. After a firmware upgrade is installed, 'visitors will use their own Xfinity credentials to sign on, and will not need the homeowner's permission or password to tap into their Wi-Fi signal. The homegrown network will also be available to non-subscribers free for several hours each month, or on a pay-per-use basis. Any outside usage should not affect the speed or security of the home subscriber's private network. [...] Home internet subscribers will automatically participate in the network's growing infrastructure, although a small number have chosen to opt out in other test markets.' The article specifically mentions that this capability is opt-out, so Comcast is relying on home users' property, electricity, and lack of tech-savvy to increase their network footprint." Comcast tried this in the Twin Cities area, and was apparently satisfied with the results, though subscribers are starting to notice.

F-Secure: Android Accounted For 97% of All Mobile Malware In 2013

Soulskill posted about 8 months ago | from the going-for-the-high-score dept.

Android 193

An anonymous reader writes "Back in 2012, Android accounted for 79 percent of all mobile malware. Last year, that number ballooned even further to 97 percent. Both those data points come from security firm F-Secure, which today released its 40-page Threat Report for the second half of 2013. More specifically, Android malware rose from 238 threats in 2012 to 804 new families and variants in 2013. Apart from Symbian, F-Secure found no new threats for other mobile platforms last year."

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