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On Friday President Obama signed into a law a bill allowing mobile devices to be legally unlocked, so that consumers can switch between carriers. The legislation was kicked off by a successful petition on Whitehouse.gov after the Librarian of Congress decided that cell phones no longer needed an exemption from the Digital Millennium Copyright Act's anti-hacking provision. The legislation (PDF) passed both houses of Congress and is now law. Unfortunately, the new bill doesn't guarantee permanent legality. It simply reinstates the exemption, and leaves the DMCA alone. For the next year, cell phone unlocking will certainly be legal, but after that, the Librarian of Congress once again has the ability to void the exemption once every three years.
jfruh writes The FTC has moved aggressively recently against companies that make it too easy for people — especially kids — to rack up huge charges on purchases within apps. But at a dicussion panel sponsored by free-market think tank TechFreedom, critics pushed back. Joshua Wright, an FTC commissioner who dissented in a recent settlement with Apple, says a 15-minute open purchase window produced "obvious and intuitive consumer benefits" and that the FTC "simply substituted its own judgment for a private firm's decision as to how to design a product to satisfy as many users as possible."
mikejuk writes The constant war to jailbreak and patch iOS has taken another step in favor of the jailbreakers. Georgia Tech researchers have found a way to jailbreak the current version of iOS. What the Georgia Tech team has discovered is a way to break in by a multi-step attack. After analysing the patches put in place to stop previous attacks, the team worked out a sequence that would jailbreak any modern iPhone. The team stresses the importance of patching all of the threats, and not just closing one vulnerability and assuming that it renders others unusable as an attack method. It is claimed that the hack works with any iOS 7.1.2 using device including the iPhone 5s.
It is worth noting that the The Device Freedom Prize for an open source jailbreak of iOS7 is still unclaimed and stands at just over $30,000. The details are to be revealed at the forthcoming Black Hat USA (August 6 & 7 Las Vegas) in a session titled Exploiting Unpatched iOS Vulnerabilities for Fun and Profit:
GTRacer writes: Forbes reports that Hilton Worldwide, international hotel operator, is rolling out smartphone-based guest tools allowing self-service check-in, access to a virtual floorplan to select a room, and (in 2015) actual door access once checked in. The author states the drive for this technology is the growing influence of the swelling ranks of Millennials, who "[...] have a very strong inclination toward automated and self-service customer service." The security risks seem obvious, though.
jones_supa (887896) writes "Nokia's future as a company focused on providing network solutions, rather than mobile phones, looks to be bright. The company made big profits in the second quarter of 2014 after selling its mobile devices unit — the cornerstone of Nokia's rise in the 1990s — to Microsoft. Meanwhile Nokia has been buying up other businesses such as the Chicago-based SAC Wireless. Now Nokia is acquiring part of Panasonic's network business in an effort to boost its presence in Japan. The deal announced Thursday will give the Finnish firm control of roughly one third of Japan's mobile network market."
rtoz writes with this excerpt from an IDG story about the creation of an Android fork made just for Google's modular cell-phone project : A special edition of Android had to be created for the unique customizable design of Project Ara, said George Grey, CEO of Linaro. ... Android can already plug and play SD cards. But Grey said additional OS functionality is needed for storage, cameras and other modules that are typically inside smartphones, but can now be externally added to Project Ara. A lot of work is also being done on UniPro transport drivers, which connect modules and components in Project Ara. UniPro protocol drivers in Android will function much like the USB protocol, where modules will be recognized based on different driver "classes," such as those for networking, sensor, imaging, input and others. Some attachable parts may not be recognized by Android. For those parts, separate drivers need to be developed by module makers through emulators. "That will be need to be done in a secure system so the device can't do damage to the system," Grey said. Project Ara is a very disruptive concept, and it turns around conventional thinking on how to build phones, Grey said.
A recent post by Instapaper's Marco Arment suggests that design flaws in Apple's App Store are harming the app ecosystem, and users are suffering because of it. "The dominance and prominence of 'top lists' stratifies the top 0.02% so far above everyone else that the entire ecosystem is encouraged to design for a theoretical top-list placement that, by definition, won’t happen to 99.98% of them." Arment notes that many good app developers are finding continued development to be unsustainable, while scammy apps are encouraged to flood the market.
"As the economics get tighter, it becomes much harder to support the lavish treatment that developers have given apps in the past, such as full-time staffs, offices, pixel-perfect custom designs of every screen, frequent free updates, and completely different iPhone and iPad interfaces. Many will give up and leave for stable, better-paying jobs. (Many already have.)" Brent Simmons points out the indie developers have largely given up the dream of being able to support themselves through iOS development. Yoni Heisler argues that their plight is simply a consequence of ever-increasing competition within the industry, though he acknowledges that more app curation would be a good thing. What strategies could Apple (and the operators of other mobile application stories) do to keep app quality high?
Vigile (99919) writes "Last week NVIDIA announced the SHIELD Tablet and SHIELD Controller, and reviews are finally appearing this morning. Based on the high performance Tegra K1 SoC that integrates 192 Kepler architecture CUDA cores, benchmarks reveal that that the SHIELD Tablet is basically unmatched by any other mobile device on the market when it comes to graphics performance — it is more than 2.5x the performance of the Apple A7 in some instances. With that power NVIDIA is able to showcase full OpenGL versions of games like Portal and Half-Life 2 running at 1080p locally on the 19:12 display or output to a TV in a "console mode." PC Perspective has impressions of that experience as well as using the NVIDIA Game Stream technology to play your PC games on the SHIELD Tablet and controller. To go even further down the rabbit hole, you can stream your PC games from your desktop to your tablet, output them to the TV in console mode, stream your game play to Twitch from the tablet while overlaying your image through the front facing camera AND record your sessions locally via ShadowPlay and using the Wi-Fi Direct powered controller to send and receive audio. It is incredibly impressive hardware but the question remains as to whether or not there is, or will be, a market for Android-based gaming devices, even those with the power and performance that NVIDIA has built."
First time accepted submitter baka_toroi (1194359) writes I got a Tungsten E2 from a friend and I wanted to give it some life by programming for it a little bit. The main problem I'm bumping up against is that HP thought it would be awesome to just shut down every single thing related to Palm OS development. After Googling a lot I found out CodeWarrior was the de facto IDE for Palm OS development... but I was soon disappointed as I learned that Palm moved from the 68K architecture to ARM, and of course, CodeWarrior was just focused on Palm OS 4 development.
Now, I realize Palm OS 4 software can be run on Palm OS 5, but I'm looking to use some of the 'newer' APIs. Also, I have the Wi-fi add-on card so I wanted to create something that uses it. I thought what I needed was PODS (Palm OS Development Suite) but not only I can't find it anywhere but also it seems it was deprecated during Palm OS's lifetime. It really doesn't help the fact that I'm a beginner, but I really want to give this platform some life. Any general tip, book, working link or even anecdotes related to all this will be greatly appreciated.
New submitter tekxtc (136198) writes Slashdot has reported in the past that a Tizen phone is coming and that the design and photos leaked. But, it has just been announced that the launch of the first Tizen phone has been delayed because of Tizen's small ecosystem. Should it ever ship? Haven't Android and iOS completely cornered the market? Is there any hope for the likes of Tizen, Firefox OS, and Windows on phones and tablets?
UrsaMajor987 (3604759) writes I have a Asus Transformer tablet that I dropped on the floor. There is no obvious sign of damage but It will no longer boot. Good excuse to get a newer model. I intend to sell it for parts (it comes with an undamaged keyboard) or maybe just toss it. I want to remove all my personal data. I removed the flash memory card but what about the other storage? I know how to wipe a hard drive, but how do you wipe a tablet? If you were feeling especially paranoid, but wanted to keep the hardware intact for the next user, what would you do?
Bennett Haselton writes: I can't stand switching from a slideout-keyboard phone to a touchscreen phone, and my own informal online survey found a slight majority of people who prefer slideout keyboards even more than I do. Why will no carrier make them available, at any price, except occasionally as the crummiest low-end phones in the store? Bennett's been asking around, of store managers and users, and arrives at even more perplexing questions. Read on, below.
Forbes has an update on what sort of future Nokia faces, as Microsoft reveals a strategy for making sense of the acquisition: [Microsoft EVP of devices Stephen] Elop laid out a framework for cost cuts in a memo to employees on July 17. Devices would focus on high and low cost Windows smartphones, suggesting a phasing out of feature phones and Android smartphones. Two business units, smart devices and mobile phones, would become one, thereby cutting overlap and overhead. Microsoft would reduce engineering in Beijing and San Diego and unwind engineering in Oulu, Finland. It would exit manufacturing in Komarom, Hungary; shift to lower cost areas like Manaus, Brazil and Reynosa, Mexico; and reduce manufacturing in Beijing and Dongguan, China. Also, CEO Satya Nadella gave hints about how Microsoft will make money on Nokia during Tuesday' conference call. Devices, he said, "go beyond" hardware and are about productivity. "I can take my Office Lens App, use the camera on the phone, take a picture of anything, and have it automatically OCR recognized and into OneNote in searchable fashion. There is a lot we can do with phones by broadly thinking about productivity." In other words, the sale of a smartphone is a means to other sales.
New submitter Brett W (3715683) writes The security researchers that first published the 'Heartbleed' vulnerabilities in OpenSSL have spent the last few months auditing the Top 50 downloaded Android apps for vulnerabilities and have found issues with at least half of them. Many send user data to ad networks without consent, potentially without the publisher or even the app developer being aware of it. Quite a few also send private data across the network in plain text. The full study is due out later this week.
Harvard economics professor Sendhil Mullainathan takes a look in the New York Times at interesting correlations between the release dates of new phones and OSes and search queries that indicate frustration with the speed of the phones that people already have. Mullainathan illustrates with graphs (and gives plausible explanations for the difference) just how different the curves are over time for the search terms "iPhone slow" and "Samsung Galaxy slow." It's easy to see with the iPhone graph especially how it could seem to users that Apple has intentionally slowed down older phones to nudge them toward upgrading. While he's careful not to rule out intentional slowing of older phone models (that's possible, after all), Mullainathan cites several factors that mean there's no need to believe in a phone-slowing conspiracy, and at least two big reasons (reputation, liability) for companies — Apple, Google, and cellphone manufacturers like Samsung — not to take part in one. He points out various wrinkles in what the data could really indicate, including genuine but innocent slowdowns caused by optimizing for newer hardware. It's an interesting look at the difference between having mere statistics, no matter how rigorously gathered, and knowing quite what they mean.
PC Magazine (along with Forbes, Reuters, and others) reports that those on the rightmost edge of the graph for Verizon's "unlimited" 4G LTE service are about to hit a limit: [T]hose in the top five percent of Verizon's unlimited data users (which requires one to pull down an average of just around 4.7 gigabytes of monthly data or so) who are enrolled on an unlimited data plan and have fulfilled their minimum contract terms (are now on a month-to-month plan) will be subject to network throttling if they're trying to connect up to a cellular tower that's experiencing high demand." As the article goes on to point out, though, [A] user would have to hit all of these criteria in order to have his or her connection slowed down. There are a lot of hoops to jump through, giving even more weight to the fact that Verizon's throttling — while annoying on paper — won't affect a considerable majority of those still holding on to their unlimited data plans.
Jason Koebler (3528235) writes "The biggest thing that sets the Amazon Fire Phone apart from its Android and Apple competitors probably isn't the clean interface or the unlimited photo storage—it's the dirty power behind it. When Fire users upload their photos and data to Amazon's cloud, they'll be creating a lot more pollution than iPhone owners, Greenpeace says. Apple has made a commitment to running its iCloud on 100 percent clean energy. Amazon, meanwhile, operates the dirtiest servers of any major tech giant that operates its own servers—only 15 percent of its energy comes from clean sources, which is about the default national average." Greenpeace's jaundiced eye is on Amazon more generally; the company's new phone is just an example. Maybe Amazon or some other provider could take a page from some local utilities and let users signal their own preferences with a (surcharged) "clean energy" option.
theshowmecanuck (703852) writes with this excerpt from Reuters summarizing the upshot of a talk that Jonathan Zdziarski gave at last weekend's HOPE conference: Personal data including text messages, contact lists and photos can be extracted from iPhones through previously unpublicized techniques by Apple Inc employees, the company acknowledged this week. The same techniques to circumvent backup encryption could be used by law enforcement or others with access to the 'trusted' computers to which the devices have been connected, according to the security expert who prompted Apple's admission. Users are not notified that the services are running and cannot disable them, Zdziarski said. There is no way for iPhone users to know what computers have previously been granted trusted status via the backup process or block future connections. If you'd rather watch and listen, Zdziarski has posted a video showing how it's done.
NotSanguine (1917456) writes The U.S. Senate has passed a bill (S.517) today, allowing users to unlock their phones when moving to another provider. From a recent article at thehill.com: "Consumers should be able to use their existing cell phones when they move their service to a new wireless provider," [Sen. Patrick] Leahy said in a statement. "Our laws should not prohibit consumers from carrying their cell phones to a new network, and we should promote and protect competition in the wireless marketplace," he said. [Sen. Chuck] Grassley called the bipartisan compromise "an important step forward in ensuring that there is competition in the industry and in safeguarding options for consumers as they look at new cell phone contracts." "Empowering people with the freedom to use the carrier of their choice after complying with their original terms of service is the right thing to do," he said. The House in February passed a companion bill sponsored on cellphone unlocking from House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.)." Also at Ars Technica, as pointed out by reader jessepdx.
jfruh writes While the Internet has made communications easier, that ease had made us very dependent on the Internet for communications — and, when disaster strikes, power and infrastructure outages tend to shut down those communications networks when we need them most. But now researchers are examining how the so-called "Internet of Things" — the proliferating array of Internet-communicating devices in our lives — can transmit emergency messages via ad-hoc networks even when the Internet backbone in a region is inoperable.
Dave Knott writes: Scientists from the University of Maryland say they have turned thin air into an "optical fiber" that can transmit and amplify light signals without the need for any cables. As described in the research, this was accomplished by generating a laser with its light split into a ring of multiple beams forming a pipe. Very short and powerful pulses from the laser are used to heat the air molecules along the beam extremely quickly. Such rapid heating produces sound waves that take about a microsecond to converge to the center of the pipe, creating a high-density area surrounded by a low-density area left behind in the wake of the laser beams. The lower density region of air surrounding the center of the air waveguide has a lower refractive index, keeping the light focused, and allowing the higher-density region (with its correspondingly higher index of refraction) to act like an optical fiber. The findings, reported in the journal Optica, have applications in long range laser communications, high-resolution topographic mapping, air pollution and climate change research, and could also be used by the military to make laser weapons.
chicksdaddy (814965) writes The Security Ledger reports on newly published research from the firm zScaler that reveals CNN's iPhone application transmits user login session information in clear text. The security flaw could leave users of the application vulnerable to having their login credential snooped by malicious actors on the same network or connected to the same insecure wifi hotspot. That's particularly bad news if you're one of CNN's iReporters — citizen journalists — who use the app to upload photos, video and other text as they report on breaking news events. According to a zScaler analysis, CNN's app for iPhone exposes user credentials in the clear both during initial setup of the account and in subsequent mobile sessions. The iPad version of the CNN app is not affected, nor is the CNN mobile application for Android. A spokesman for CNN said the company had a fix ready and was working with Apple to have it approved and released to the iTunes AppStore.
An anonymous reader writes: Amazon's Fire Phone launches later this week, and the reviews have started to come in. The hardware: "There's nothing terribly special about the Fire Phone's hardware, but there's very little to turn you off either." "The nice-looking IPS display in the Fire Phone gets bright enough for outdoor viewing, and it has nice viewing angles—a necessity for a phone that's meant to be tilted around and looked at from every which way." "An indistinct slab of glass and plastic, the Fire Phone looks more like a minimalist prototype than a finished product."
Software: "Firefly can recognize lots of things, but it's incredibly, hilariously inconsistent." "Firefly is the one Fire Phone feature you'll want on any phone you're currently using. Let's hope that it gets enough developer support that it isn't just a link to Amazon's storefronts." "First, and to be absolutely clear, Dynamic Perspective will impress you the first time you see it, and Amazon is pretty good at showing it off. ... But if there's some cool, useful functionality to be had from super-aggressive, super-accurate face tracking, the Fire Phone doesn't have it." Conclusion: "Smartphones are for work, for life. They're not toys, they're tools. Amazon doesn't understand that, and the Fire Phone doesn't reflect it."
klapaucjusz writes: The EFF has released an experimental router firmware designed make it easy to deploy open (password-less) access points in a secure manner. The EFF's firmware is based on the CeroWRT fork of OpenWRT, but appears to remove some of its more advanced routing features. The EFF is asking for help to further develop the firmware. They want the open access point to co-exist on the same router as your typical private and secured access point. They want the owner to be able to share bandwidth, but with a cap, so guests don't degrade service for the owner. They're also looking to develop a network queueing, a minimalist web UI, and an auto-update mechanism. The EFF has also released the beta version of a plug-in called Privacy Badger for Firefox and Chrome that will prevent online advertisers from tracking you.
MojoKid (1002251) writes NVIDIA just officially announced the SHIELD Tablet (powered by their Tegra K1 SoC) and SHIELD wireless controller. As the SHIELD branding implies, the new SHIELD tablet and wireless controller builds upon the previously-released, Android-based SHIELD portable to bring a gaming-oriented tablet to consumers. The SHIELD Tablet and wireless controller are somewhat of mashup of the SHIELD portable and the Tegra Note 7, but featuring updated technology and better build materials. You could think of the SHIELD Tablet and wireless controller as an upgraded SHIELD portable gaming device, with the screen de-coupled from the controller. The device features NVIDIA's Tegra K1 SoC, paired to 2GB of RAM and an 8", full-HD IPS display, with a native resolution of 1920x1200. There are also a pair of 5MP cameras on the SHIELD Tablet (front and rear), 802.11a/b/g/n 2x2 MIMO WiFi configuration, GPS, a 9-axis motion sensor, and Bluetooth 4.0 LE. In addition to the WiFi-only version (which features 16GB of internal storage), NVIDIA has a 32GB version coming with LTE connectivity as well. NVIDIA will begin taking pre-orders for the SHIELD Tablet and wireless controller immediately.
alphadogg (971356) writes "In its quest to help enterprises seek out and neutralize all threats to their Wi-Fi networks, AirMagnet is now looking to the skies. In a free software update to its AirMagnet Enterprise product last week, the Wi-Fi security division of Fluke Networks added code specifically crafted to detect the Parrot AR Drone, a popular unmanned aerial vehicle that costs a few hundred dollars and can be controlled using a smartphone or tablet. Drones themselves don't pose any special threat to Wi-Fi networks, and AirMagnet isn't issuing air pistols to its customers to shoot them down. The reason the craft are dangerous is that they can be modified to act as rogue access points and sent into range of a victim's wireless network, potentially breaking into a network to steal data."
Bennett Haselton writes My LG Optimus F3Q was the lowest-end phone in the T-Mobile store, but a cheap phone is supposed to suck in specific ways that make you want to upgrade to a better model. This one is plagued with software bugs that have nothing to do with the cheap hardware, and thus lower one's confidence in the whole product line. Similar to the suckiness of the Stratosphere and Stratosphere 2 that I was subjected to before this one, the phone's shortcomings actually raise more interesting questions — about why the free-market system rewards companies for pulling off miracles at the hardware level, but not for fixing software bugs that should be easy to catch. Read below to see what Bennett has to say.
An anonymous reader points out that even though China's internet adoption rate is the lowest it's been in 8 years, the number of people surfing the net from a mobile device has never been higher. "The number of China's internet users going online with a mobile device — such as a smartphone or tablet — has overtaken those doing so with a personal computer (PC) for the first time, said the official China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) on Monday. China's total number of internet users crept up 2.3 percent to 632 million by the end of June, from 618 million at the end of 2013, said CNNIC's internet development statistics report. Of those, 527 million — or 83 percent — went online via mobile. Those doing so with a PC made up 81 percent the total. China is the largest smartphone market in the world, and by 2018 is likely to account for nearly one-third of the expected 1.8 billion smartphones shipped that year, according to data firm IDC.
DroidJason1 writes Microsoft has attempted to compete in the small-screen tablet market with Windows 8.1 and Windows RT, but it looks like the growing adoption of small-screen Android tablets are just too much for Lenovo to handle. Lenovo has slammed the brakes on sales of small screen Windows tablets in the United States, citing a lack of interest from consumers. In fact, Lenovo has stopped selling the 8-inch ThinkPad 8 and the 8-inch Miix 2. Fortunately, these small-screen Windows tablets have seen some success in Brazil, China, and Japan, so Lenovo will focus on efforts there. Microsoft also recently scrapped plans for the rumored Surface Mini.
Watches that do more than tell the time have been around for a long time. (And in fiction, James Bond, Dick Tracey, and Michael Knight all had notably high-tech watches.) The new smart watches from Samsung and LG, without a phone connected via Bluetooth as backhaul, can still serve to show the time and to serve as alarms (and Samsung's can measure your pulse, too), but all the magic features (like searching by voice via the watch) do require a connection. They can't play MP3s or take pictures on their own, and they don't have built-in GPS. Even so, compared to the polarizing Google Glass, the new breed of smart watches are wearables that probably are an easier sell, even if this far the trend has been to replace watches with smart phones. (Android Wear has gotten a lot of attention, but Microsoft has their own upcoming, and Apple almost certainly does, too.) Are you interested in a smart watch, and if so, what uses do you want it for? If they have no appeal to you now, are there functions that would make you change your mind on that front?
rtoz (2530056) writes A London based company, This Place, is launching a new app "MindRDR" for providing one more way for controlling Google Glass. It will allow the users to control the Google Glass with their thoughts. This MindRDR application bridges the Neurosky EEG biosensor and Google Glass. It allows users to take photos and share them on Twitter and Facebook by simply using brainwaves alone. This Place has put the code of this app on GitHub for others to use it and expand on it.
MojoKid writes: "When NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden came forth last year with U.S. government spying secrets, it didn't take long to realize that some of the information revealed could bring on serious repercussions — not just for the U.S. government, but also for U.S.-based companies. The latest to feel the hit? None other than Apple, and in a region the company has been working hard to increase market share: China. China, via state media, has today declared that Apple's iPhone is a threat to national security — all because of its thorough tracking capabilities. It has the ability to keep track of user locations, and to the country, this could potentially reveal "state secrets" somehow. It's being noted that the iPhone will continue to track the user to some extent even if the overall feature is disabled. China's iPhone ousting comes hot on the heels of Russia's industry and trade deeming AMD and Intel processors to be untrustworthy. The nation will instead be building its own ARM-based "Baikal" processor.
itwbennett writes: The Federal Communications Commission, in a 3-2 party-line vote Friday, approved a plan to revamp the 17-year-old E-Rate program, which pays for telecom services for schools and libraries, by phasing out funding for voice service, Web hosting and paging services, and redirecting money to Wi-Fi. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler had proposed a $5 billion budget for Wi-Fi, but Republican commissioners and some lawmakers had questioned where the money would come from. Still, the E-Rate revamp (PDF) approved Friday contemplates a $1 billion-a-year target for Wi-Fi projects "year after year," Wheeler said.
redletterdave (2493036) notes that Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) has shipped its first batch of microprocessors to Apple as the iPhone maker looks to diversify its overseas suppliers. Apple will continue to rely on Samsung for its microprocessors, but as the rivalry between Apple and Samsung heats up in the mobile and soon wearable arenas, the deal with TSMC allows Apple to be less reliant on Samsung and therefore have more leverage with respect to price negotiations for future chips, as TSMC has supplanted Samsung Electronics as Apple's chief chipmaker for iPhones and iPads. Since 2011, Apple has been striking deals with other display and chip makers around Asia to reduce its dependence on Samsung. As a result of this slowdown in sales, Samsung on Monday announced operating income for its fiscal second quarter had sunk to a two-year low, blaming 'weak' sales of low- and medium-end smartphones, strong competition and subpar demand.
It may not be a household name like Intel or AMD, but TSMC is the world's biggest chip maker by revenue.
An anonymous reader writes: The used smartphone market is thriving, with many people selling their old devices on eBay or craigslist when it's time to upgrade. Unfortunately, it seems most people are really bad at wiping their phone of personal data before passing it on to a stranger. Antivirus company Avast bought 20 used Android phones off eBay, and used some basic data recovery software to reconstruct deleted files. From just those 20 phones, they pulled over 40,000 photographs, including 1,500 family pictures of children and over a thousand more.. personal pictures. They also recovered hundreds of emails and text messages, over a thousand Google searches, a completed loan application, and identity information for four of the previous owners. Only one of the phones had security software installed on it, but that phone turned out to provide the most information of all: "Hackers at Avast were able to identify the previous owner, access his Facebook page, plot his previous whereabouts through GPS coordinates, and find the names and numbers of more than a dozen of his closest contacts. What's more, the company discovered a lot about this guy's penchant for kink and a completed copy of a Sexual Harassment course — hopefully a preventative measure."
EthanV2 sends word that BlackBerry, having finally caught up to a world dominated by smartphones, is now trying to push the envelope by developing a smartphone with a square screen. The BlackBerry Passport has a 4.5-inch screen with a resolution of 1440x1440. The phone has a physical keyboard as well. In a blog post about the new phone, they show a picture with it side-by-side with an iPhone and a Galaxy S5 — the Passport is slightly taller than the iPhone, and significantly wider, as you'd expect. The Passport is a play for BlackBerry's "traditional" work-oriented user base, where the earlier BlackBerry Z10 and Z30 were efforts to break into the post-iPhone consumer smartphone space. Though the Passport may well be preferable for spreadsheets and word processing, that square screen will be much less useful for widescreen movies, and its wide, blocky design will entirely prohibit one-handed use. The Passport is expected to appear later this year, and it will launch with BlackBerry 10.3 (at least, according to early hands-on previews).
This interview with Googler Pete LePage took place at Google I/O 2014, where Pete and coworker Matt Gaunt set up a Device Lab with 46 different devices on their display wall. The point wasn't to show off Google's coolness as much as it was to let developers see how their websites displayed on as wide a range of mobile devices as possible. This is reminiscent of the last century's Any Browser campaign, which was set up to encourage developers to make sites that worked right in any browser instead of having a WWW full of sites "best viewed in Exploroscape" that displayed poorly in other browsers.
Today, the trick is to make a site that is fully functional across a wide range of devices with different size screens that a user might decide to view in landscape mode one day and portrait mode the next. Google is happy to share their MiniMobileDeviceLab with you to help set up multi-unit displays. Pete also suggests checking out PageSpeed Insights and Web Fundamentals even if you're a skilled and experienced Web designer, because those two Google sites are chock full of information on how to make sure your site works right on most devices and in most popular browsers. (Alternate Video Link)
Kittenman writes: The BBC is carrying information on a type of contraception (funded in part by Bill Gates) that takes the form of a microchip, inserted under the skin. The chip releases contraceptive hormones to the body until wirelessly advised not to do so. This device has several interesting applications and issues associated with it. The researchers are already working on making the device secure against unauthorized transmissions. There's also the issue of making it easier for governments to control population levels. The chip will be available from 2018. This correspondent will watch the issues with interest.
AHuxley (892839) writes The Sydney Morning Herald is reporting that Australian federal and state police are using a no warrant cell phone tower metadata access technique called a "tower dump". A "tower dump" provides the identity, activity and location of all cell phones that connect a cellphone tower(s) over time (an hour or two). The metadata from thousands of phones and numbers connected are then sorted. Australian law-enforcement agencies made 330,000 requests for metadata in 2012-13. AHuxley links to some U.S. views on the same kind of massive data grab: The Wall Street Journal says they caputure innocent users' data; the Chicago Police Department is being sued for information on its purchases of equipment associated with this kind of slurping; and the EFF asks whether warrant protection for users' data will be extended by voice-comm companies as it has been for ISPs. I wonder what people would think of an occasional "postal zone dump" employing the same kind of dragnet but for communications on paper.
PuceBaboon writes "The BBC is reporting that a Spanish firm, Gowex, which provides free Wi-Fi services in major cities world-wide, has filed for bankruptcy, following revelations that financial accounts filed over the past four years were "false". The company supplies services in London, Shanghai, New York and Buenos Aires, as well as Madrid. Other sources report that up to 90% of the company's reported revenue came from "undisclosed related parties" (in other words, from Gowex itself) and that the value of the company's share price was now effectively zero.
An anonymous reader writes One of the common problems of the smartphone generation has been parents who given their phones to children, who then rack up hundreds of dollars of in-app purchases without the parents' knowledge. The FTC smacked Apple with a fine for this, and Google is facing a lawsuit as well. Now, Amazon is the latest target, having received a complaint from the FTC demanding a similar settlement to Apple's. Amazon, however, is not willing to concede the fine; they plan to fight it. Amazon said, "The Commission's unwillingness to depart from the precedent it set with Apple despite our very different facts leaves us no choice but to defend our approach in court (PDF). The main claim in the draft complaint is that we failed to get customers' informed consent to in-app charges made by children and did not address that problem quickly or effectively enough in response to customer complaints. We have continually improved our experience since launch, but even at launch, when customers told us their kids had made purchases they didn't want, we refunded those purchases."
An anonymous reader writes With Apple rumored to be entering the wearables market this Fall, the company's string of notable hires continues. CNBC is reporting today that Apple recently poached Patrick Pruniaux away from TAG Heuer where he served as the company's VP of global sales for the past five years. TAG Heuer, in case you're unfamiliar, is a Swiss-based manufacturer of luxury watches. Word of the Pruniaux hire comes just shortly after it was discovered that Apple hired the lead software engineer away from Atlas Wearables, a company working on a fitness tracker capable of measuring a plethora of exercise related data.
Bismillah writes: The Preferred Network Offload feature in Android extends battery life, but it also leaks location data, according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation. What's more, the same flaw is found in Apple OS X and Windows 7. "This location history comes in the form of the names of wireless networks your phone has previously connected to. These frequently identify places you've been, including homes ('Tom’s Wi-Fi'), workplaces ('Company XYZ office net'), churches and political offices ('County Party HQ'), small businesses ('Toulouse Lautrec's house of ill-repute'), and travel destinations ('Tehran Airport wifi'). This data is arguably more dangerous than that leaked in previous location data scandals because it clearly denotes in human language places that you've spent enough time to use the Wi-Fi."
colinneagle writes: Airlines have seen almost no increase in the use of smartphones, tablets, and laptops among passengers since the Federal Aviation Administration ruled in October that they are now allowed to do so during takeoff and landing, a recent study found. Over a four month period observed by DePaul University's Chaddick Institute for Metropolitan Development this year, 35.9% of passengers used mobile devices at any point during the flight. In last year's study, while flight attendants still patrolled the aisles for devices that hadn't been shut off, 35.3% of passengers used devices during flight. Chaddick Institute director Joseph Schwieterman said many people may not be interested in using their mobile devices in-flight, and are simply excited for an opportunity to "use the time to sleep and chill out." Another contributing factor is the stipulation to the FAA's rule that still bans the use of smartphones for making phone calls or send text messages, the report noted. That may change soon, however. The FAA recently received public comment on a proposal to lift its ban on in-flight cellphone communications service, which has been in place since 1991.
Project Tango is part of Google's Advanced Technology and Projects group (ATAP), which Wikipedia says was "...formerly a division of Motorola." Tango's goal is "to give mobile devices a human-scale understanding of space and motion." We humans and our forebears have spent millions of years learning to sense our surroundings, not as a set of static 2D images, but in 3D with motion. This YouTube video starring Johnny Lee, the Tango project lead Tim interviewed at Google I/O 2014, gives you some decent insight into Project Tango's goals -- in addition to our video, that is. (Alternate Slashdot Video Link)
New submitter faderrider (3726665) writes I work in the healthcare design industry and our firm is looking to get away from using paper during our design meetings. My first thought was to load our reports and plans on a tablet, bring a half dozen or so tablets for attendees and somehow create a local ad hoc network that would allow them to view my desktop. A little more thinking brought me to consider the value of attendees being able to mark up documents on their own, or take control of what is being viewed to talk through ideas. Is anyone else out there doing something like this and if so what are you implementing? Specifically the challenges i see are creating the local network, establishing share/control relationships between tablets and managing any documentation markups attendees may make during the meeting. I am also looking at the Samsung 10.1 as the hardware but would be interested in any recommendations. I can also provide, most of the time, web access via my phone but would prefer not to rely on a service like WebEx or JoinMe.
An anonymous reader writes "Today the FTC filed a complaint (PDF) against T-Mobile USA, alleging the carrier made hundreds of millions of dollars from bogus charges placed on customers' bills for unauthorized SMS services. "The FTC alleges that T-Mobile received anywhere from 35 to 40 percent of the total amount charged to consumers for subscriptions for content such as flirting tips, horoscope information or celebrity gossip that typically cost $9.99 per month. According to the FTC's complaint, T-Mobile in some cases continued to bill its customers for these services offered by scammers years after becoming aware of signs that the charges were fraudulent." FTC chairwoman Edith Ramirez said, "It's wrong for a company like T-Mobile to profit from scams against its customers when there were clear warning signs the charges it was imposing were fraudulent. It's wrong for a company like T-Mobile to profit from scams against its customers when there were clear warning signs the charges it was imposing were fraudulent." According to the complaint, T-Mobile also made it hard for customers to figure out they were being billed for these services, and failed to provide refunds when customers complained." Here's T-Mobile's response.
curtwoodward (2147628) writes Apple co-founder and legendary nerd Steve Wozniak is a huge gadget enthusiast, often appearing in lines with mere mortals to purchase new Apple products. So you can bet he's tried out most of the smartwatches on the market today. The worst one? By far, the Samsung Galaxy Gear, which The Woz says he sold on eBay after half a day's use. "It was so worthless and did so little that was convenient," Wozniak said at an appearance in Milwaukee. "You had to hold it up to your ear and stuff." So maybe the watch sucked, but just imagine being the one who bought Woz's used Gear---do you think they know?
sfcrazy (1542989) writes "It's a sad day for free software as one of the most ambitious free software projects, Improv, is officially dead. Along with the board also dies the promising Vivaldi tablet [video intro]. The developers have sent out emails to the backers of the project that they are pulling plugs on these. The end of the Improv project also means a disappointing end to the KDE Tablet project, as Aaron Seigo was funding both projects out of his own pocket (almost exactly $200,000 spent)."
Ars Technica has spent some time with pre-production (but very nearly final) samples of the Blackphone, from Geeksphone and Silent Circle. They give it generally high marks; the hardware is mostly solid but not cutting edge, but the software it comes with distinguishes it from run-of-the-mill Android phones. Though it's based on Android, the PrivOS system in these phone offers fine grained permissions, and other software included with the phone makes it more secure both if someone has physical access to the phone (by encrypting files, among other things) and if communications between this phone and another are being eavesdropped on. A small taste: At first start up, Blackphone’s configuration wizard walks through getting the phone configured and secured. After picking a language and setting a password or PIN to unlock the phone itself, the wizard presents the option of encrypting the phone’s stored data with another password. If you decline to encrypt the phone’s mini-SD storage during setup, you’ll get the opportunity later (and in the release candidate version of the PrivOS we used, the phone continued to remind me about that opportunity each time I logged into it until I did). PrivOS’ main innovation is its Security Center, an interface that allows the user to explicitly control just what bits of hardware functionality and data each application on the phone has access to. It even provides control over the system-level applications—you can, if you wish for some reason, turn off the Camera app’s access to the camera hardware and turn off the Browser app’s access to networks.