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  • California Passes Law Mandating Smartphone Kill Switch

    alphadogg (971356) writes "Smartphones sold in California will soon be required to have a kill switch that lets users remotely lock them and wipe them of data in the event they are lost or stolen. The demand is the result of a new law, put into effect on Monday, that applies to phones manufactured after July 1, 2015, and sold in the state. While its legal reach does not extend beyond the state's borders, the inefficiency of producing phones solely for California means the kill switch is expected to be adopted by phone makers on handsets sold across the U.S. and around the world."

    233 comments | about a week ago

  • Google Announces a New Processor For Project Ara

    rtoz writes Google has just announced a new processor for Project Ara. The mobile Rockchip SoC will function as an applications processor, without requiring a bridge chip. A prototype of the phone with the Rockchip CPU, will be available early next year. Via Google+ post, Project Ara team Head Paul Eremenko says "We view this Rockchip processor as a trailblazer for our vision of a modular architecture where the processor is a node on a network with a single, universal interface -- free from also serving as the network hub for all of the mobile device's peripherals." (Project Ara is Google's effort to create an extensible, modular cellphone; last month we mentioned a custom version of Linux being developed for the project, too.)

    36 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Your Phone Can Be Snooped On Using Its Gyroscope

    stephendavion (2872091) writes Researchers will demonstrate the process used to spy on smartphones using gyroscopes at Usenix Security event on August 22, 2014. Researchers from Stanford and a defense research group at Rafael will demonstrate a way to spy on smartphones using gyroscopes at Usenix Security event on August 22, 2014. According to the "Gyrophone: Recognizing Speech From Gyroscope Signals" study, the gyroscopes integrated into smartphones were sensitive enough to enable some sound waves to be picked up, transforming them into crude microphones.

    96 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Xiaomi's Next OS Looks Strikingly Similar To iOS

    stephendavion writes Looks like Chinese device maker, Xiaomi, is taking its "Apple of the East" tag too literally. First, their CEO brazenly copies Steve Jobs' signature look, sitting cross-legged on the floor. And now, Xiaomi's latest version of Android shamelessly rips off iOS 7. MIUI 6, which is Xiaomi's upcoming edition of Android for its latest phones and tablets, looks almost exactly like Apple's operating system for iPhones, iPads and the iPod Touch. It features the same bright color palette and a flat design. Heck, it even does away with Google's "app drawer" and puts all apps on your home screen. It's like the CEO handed iPhones to the design team and barked: "Here, copy this!"

    181 comments | about two weeks ago

  • The Biggest iPhone Security Risk Could Be Connecting One To a Computer

    angry tapir (1463043) writes Apple has done well to insulate its iOS mobile operating system from many security issues, but a forthcoming demonstration shows it's far from perfect. Next Wednesday at the Usenix Security Symposium in San Diego, researchers with the Georgia Institute of Technology will show how iOS's Achilles' heel is exposed when devices are connected over USB to a computer or have Wi-Fi synching enabled. The beauty of their attack is that it doesn't rely on iOS software vulnerabilities, the customary way that hackers commandeer computers. It simply takes advantage of design issues in iOS, working around Apple's layered protections to accomplish a sinister goal.

    72 comments | about three weeks ago

  • Samsung Announces Galaxy Alpha Featuring Metal Frame and Rounded Corners

    mrspoonsi (2955715) writes with word that Samsung is hopping on the metal case and rounded corners design bandwagon. From the article: Samsung says a metal frame and curved corners give the Galaxy Alpha a "sophisticated" look. The South Korean company describes the Galaxy Alpha as representing a "new design approach". The firm has previously been criticised for the plastic feel of its handsets at a time when other firms have opted to use materials marketed as having a "premium" feel. Samsung Electronics saw a 20% year-on-year drop in its last quarter's profit. The phone features 2G of RAM, a 4.7" AMOLED display, and either an 8-core Exynos 5 or 4-core Snapdragon 801.

    220 comments | about three weeks ago

  • Silent Circle's Blackphone Exploited at Def Con

    Def Con shows no mercy. As gleefully reported by sites several Blackberry-centric sites, researcher Justin Case yesterday demonstrated that he could root the much-heralded Blackphone in less than five minutes. From n4bb.com's linked report: "However, one of the vulnerabilities has already been patched and the other only exploitable with direct user consent. Nevertheless, this only further proves you cannot add layers of security on top of an underlying platform with security vulnerabilities." Case reacts via Twitter to the crowing: "Hey BlackBerry idiots, stop miss quoting me on your blogs. Your phone is only "secure" because it has few users and little value as a target."

    46 comments | about three weeks ago

  • Xiaomi Arrives As Top Smartphone Seller In China

    New submitter redseo writes Xiaomi, known as the Apple of China, and recently enjoying its new-found fame and glory in the Indian market, has achieved yet another milestone. It has overtaken Samsung, to become China's best selling smartphone manufacturer, in Q2 2014. Xiaomi sold total of 15 million smartphones in China in Q2, which is a three-fold increase from a year ago. That's pretty good for a company founded only four years ago, with no stores of its own. (And though Xiaomi's phones are not widely sold in the U.S., they're offered by third-party sellers on Amazon and elsewhere; CNet has mostly good things to say about the company's Mi 3.)

    82 comments | about a month ago

  • T-Mobile Smartphones Outlast Competitors' Identical Models

    An anonymous reader writes Laptop Mag battery tested the leading phones on all four major U.S. carriers and found that the same models on T-Mobile typically last 1 to 3 hours longer on a charge. This trend is not new, but has continued for over 3 years of testing. The article says While we don’t know for certain why T-Mobile phones last longer on a charge, there are some strong possibilities. T-Mobile’s network could be more efficient at sending and receiving data because of the bands it uses, or maybe there are far fewer customers on its LTE network, easing the strain. Another possibility is that T-Mobile tends to pre-load less bloatware on its flagship devices relative to the other carriers. AT&T is firmly in second place in the battery life findings presented, with Verizon and Sprint jockeying for last of the four carriers measured. It woud be interesting to see a similar test battery for phones in marginal reception areas; searching for service seems to deplete my battery faster than talking does.

    127 comments | about a month ago

  • Google, Linaro Develop Custom Android Edition For Project Ara

    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.

    46 comments | about a month ago

  • $299 Android Gaming Tablet Reviewed

    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."

    65 comments | about a month ago

  • Microsoft's Nokia Plans Come Into Better Focus

    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.

    149 comments | about a month ago

  • Popular Android Apps Full of Bugs: Researchers Blame Recycling of Code

    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.

    150 comments | about a month ago

  • Greenpeace: Amazon Fire Burns More Coal and Gas Than It Should

    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.

    288 comments | about a month ago

  • NVIDIA Launches Tegra K1-Based SHIELD Tablet, Wireless Controller

    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.

    42 comments | about a month ago

  • Open Hardware and Digital Communications Conference On Free Video, If You Help

    Bruce Perens writes The TAPR Digital Communications Conference has been covered twice here and is a great meeting on leading-edge wireless technology, mostly done as Open Hardware and Open Source software. Free videos of the September 2014 presentations will be made available if you help via Kickstarter. For an idea of what's in them, see the Dayton Hamvention interviews covering Whitebox, our Open Hardware handheld software-defined radio transceiver, and Michael Ossman's HackRF, a programmable Open Hardware transceiver for wireless security exploration and other wireless research. Last year's TAPR DCC presentations are at the Ham Radio Now channel on Youtube.

    15 comments | about a month and a half ago

  • Chinese Hackers Infiltrate Firms Using Malware-Laden Handheld Scanners

    wiredmikey (1824622) writes China-based threat actors are using sophisticated malware installed on handheld scanners to target shipping and logistics organizations from all over the world. According to security firm TrapX, the attack begins at a Chinese company that provides hardware and software for handheld scanners used by shipping and logistics firms worldwide to inventory the items they're handling. The Chinese manufacturer installs the malware on the Windows XP operating systems embedded in the devices.

    Experts determined that the threat group targets servers storing corporate financial data, customer data and other sensitive information. A second payload downloaded by the malware then establishes a sophisticated C&C on the company's finance servers, enabling the attackers to exfiltrate the information they're after. The malware used by the Zombie Zero attackers is highly sophisticated and polymorphic, the researchers said. In one attack they observed, 16 of the 48 scanners used by the victim were infected, and the malware managed to penetrate the targeted organization's defenses and gain access to servers on the corporate network. Interestingly, the C&C is located at the Lanxiang Vocational School, an educational institution said to be involved in the Operation Aurora attacks against Google, and which is physically located only one block away from the scanner manufacturer, TrapX said.

    93 comments | about 1 month ago

  • BlackBerry's Innovation: Square-Screened Smartphones

    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).

    139 comments | about 2 months ago

  • Disappointed Woz Sells His "Worthless" Galaxy Gear Watch

    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?

    242 comments | about 2 months ago

  • Improv Project, Vivaldi Tablet Officially Dead

    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)."

    71 comments | about 2 months ago

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