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Thursday, August 16, 2012

Pinterest finally comes to Android, iPad

Good news for mobile users of fast-growing social networking site Pinterest: it’s finally coming to devices running Google’s Android and Apple’s iPad.
The new app for Android in particular involved a full redesign so Android users can take full advantage of the social network’s features, tech site Mashable noted.
“Announced at a summer party at Pinterest’s new San Francisco headquarters, the Android app represents a complete redesign of the app from the ground up, this time designed specifically for Android,” it said.
It said the Android app has been in the works for some time, and was even rumored to be coming late last month at Google’s I/O developers’ conference.
Pinterest’s app for the iPad was also relatively new as it already has an app for Apple’s iPhone.
Mashable noted Pinterest is still relatively new, as shown by its launching of new features by talking about them on its Facebook wall and then waiting for comments.
But it also said Pinterest has received many requests for an Android app.
“The requests are so common that it has become a Pinterest in-office joke with each launch: How long will it take for someone to ask for an Android app?” it said.
Last May, Pinterest raised $100 million in a round of funding that values the company at $1.5 billion. Originally an invite-only service, on Aug. 8 Pinterest went public for everyone without an invitation.

1 Million Public Transit Stops Now on Google Maps for Android

Share1 digg 1 Million Public Transit Stop on Google Maps for Android Although it is often regarded as a feature rather than the robust standalone product that it is, the power of Google Maps as one of the most valuable pieces in the company's digital ecosystem cannot be underestimated. From mapping routes to your next destination, to pinpointing the location of businesses or historic sites, Google Maps has become an essential tool for even the most casual smartphone user.
Recognizing the public's heavy reliance on the application, Google has made it easier to use the transit information feature on Android devices, and now has schedules for more than 1 million public transit stops worldwide.
The new version of Google Maps on Android allows you to highlight a single mode of transportation (subway, bus, or train), temporarily hiding the other transit information, thus making it easier to map your destination. If you've ever used Google Maps to actually get to a particular location in a major city packed with a myriad of transit options, this new mobile feature will come as welcome news.
The information isn't limited to the U.S. Google has teamed with transit authorities around the world, including public transport hubs such as Tokyo, London, and Sydney, Australia, to provide a rich database of transit information no matter what region you're traversing.
The international nature of the rollout is important. In Tokyo's case, non-Japanese commuters have generally relied on services like Jorudan to plot train routes through Tokyo's exceedingly complicated rail system. Using the new Google Maps functionality on Android, international users in far-flung countries can view up-to-date transit information that also connects to Google's larger suite of services in English and other languages.
Another helpful feature included in the update allows you to highlight an entire area of a city based on its postal code, a vital tool when attempting to navigate tricky directions in an unfamiliar city. You can also enable a feature called Location History that lets you review the places you've been on your Google Maps dashboard. The update is now available for download in Google Play.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Android phones hijacked via wallet tech

harlie Miller created tools that forced phones to visit websites seeded with attack software.
The software on the booby-trapped websites helped Mr Miller look at and steal data held on a handset.
NFC is becoming increasingly common in smartphones as the gadgets are used as electronic tickets and digital wallets.
Beam guide Mr Miller, a research consultant at security firm Accuvant, demonstrated the work at the Black Hat hacker conference in Las Vegas.
During his presentation, Mr Miller showed how to attack three separate phones - the Samsung Nexus S, the Google Galaxy Nexus and the Nokia N9.
To attack the phones Mr Miller wrote software to control a reader tag that works in conjunction with NFC. As its name implies, NFC works when devices are brought close together or are placed near a reader chip.
In one demo Mr Miller piped commands through his custom-built chip that abused a feature of the smartphones known as Android beam. This allows phone owners to send links and information over short distances to other handsets.
He discovered that the default setting in Android Beam forces a handset to visit any weblink or open any file sent to it. Via this route he forced handsets to visit websites that ran code written to exploit known vulnerabilities in Android.
"The fact that, without you doing anything, all of a sudden your browser is going to my website, is not ideal," Mr Miller told tech news website Ars Technica.
In one demonstration using this attack Mr Miller was able to view files on a target handset.
On the Nokia phone, Mr Miller demonstrated how to abuse NFC and take complete control of a target handset, making it send texts or make calls, via the weaknesses exploited by his customised radio tag.
Mr Miller said that to successfully attack phones they must be running a particular version of the Android operating system, be unlocked and have their screen active.
Nokia said it was aware of Mr Miller's research and said it was "actively investigating" his claims of success against its N9 phone. It said it was not aware of anyone else abusing loopholes in Android via NFC.

Android news and rumor round-up for week ending July 27

According to the Guardian, Google "seriously underestimated" demand for the tablet, particularly the variant with 16GB of storage. You can still order the 8GB version from Google Play, but retail stocks have been disappearing quickly and the 16GB device isn't being sold via the Play store.
Among the new Nexus 7 users apparently happy with their purchase is Linus Torvalds, who seems to really like the Google tablet. You can tell, because when Linus doesn't like something, he lets you know.
Jelly Bean version news: There's a rumor that 4.1 updates for the Samsung Galaxy S II and S III are in the final stages of testing and will be deployed by early September. That sounds plausible, though it's not confirmed.
In related Galaxy S III news, Samsung decided to preemptively ditch the local search feature that was at the heart of a recent patent case for international models of the device. Better safe than sorry, apparently.
Motorola Xoom users - relax. After a delay caused by soak testing problems, Wi-Fi Xooms are apparently getting the Jelly Bean update. Verizon users, of course, will have to wait a while longer.
Speaking of which - Verizon Galaxy Nexus users could be forgiven for being a little psyched out earlier this week, as finally - finally! - there's the little "software update" notification. Unfortunately, this turned out not to be the long-awaited upgrade to Android 4.1, and was instead an incremental update for Ice Cream Sandwich. We kind of wish the update had taken a snapshot when opened, so that we could make a photo collage of disappointed Verizon GNex users.
Still, even those folks are likely to get an update before Nexus S 4G users, according to GottaBeMobile. While other versions of the Nexus S got the Jelly Bean treatment recently, there's been total silence on plans to upgrade Sprint's version of the phone. As ever, of course, you can just install an unofficial Jelly Bean ROM if you're reasonably technical and willing to void your warranty.
If you're a devotee of the hardware keyboard, you might be feeling a little bit left out by the Android ecosystem of late, given the lack of flagship releases with that feature. However, Android Central says that Sprint is planning to roll out the Motorola Photon Q "very soon." According to that site, it'll have what looks like a slide-out QWERTY keyboard of the same style as the old Moto Droid, as well as 4G LTE connectivity and GSM world phone functionality outside the U.S.
Some numbers: Bad news for Android in the enterprise - an Appcelerator/IDC study found that business developer interest in iOS is now far ahead of Android, despite the two being neck-and-neck as recently as the third quarter of 2011. (Hat-tip: Boy Genius Report)
What's more, despite Android device activations among enterprise customers doubling since the previous quarter, Good Technology's second quarter 2012 report on business mobile use still shows iOS way out in front. (Hat-tip: InformationWeek)
From the oh-God-here-we-go-again department: Bloomberg has the latest on the interminably rumored Facebook phone. Apparently, The Social Network is working with HTC on a device to be released in early 2013, which will include a modified operating system.
Rumors about a Facebook phone have been breathlessly passed around since 2010, and it does seem like Zuckerberg and the gang want to make this happen. That said, almost nothing is definitively known about the project, and frankly, we'd prefer they focus on making the official Android app less crappy.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Android now boasts 50 per cent market share in US, Australia, and most of Europe

According to market analysis company Kantar Worldpanel ComTech, Google's mobile operating system, Android, now accounts for more than 50 per cent of the market in the Australia, the US, and many of the largest countries in Europe.

In the UK, for example, Android marketshare has risen by 8.5 per cent to 57.2 per cent since a similar 12-week poll that was carried out by the company in July of 2011.

Apple's iOS has also seen a small 5.4 per cent rise in the UK to 25.6 per cent marketshare, with Windows Phone 7 now accounting for 3.7 per cent of the pie - a 2.7 per cent rise. BlackBerry, on the other hand, has fallen from 19.3 per cent marketshare to just 10.6 per cent.

Other platforms such as Symbian, bada, and Windows Mobile are next to non-existent.

Day trip

Spain, Germany, Italy, and France all boast similar results, although iOS isn't as popular as it was last year. For instance, in Spain, iOS only has 3.2 per cent share of the market, which is less than even Symbian. Android is king with 84.1 per cent marketshare.

In the US, however, it's not such good news for Android: Google's operating system has dipped by 7.2 per cent to around 50.2 percent marketshare. Apple's iOS has risen by 8.7 per cent to 37.4 per cent marketshare, whereas BlackBerry now accounts for just three per cent of the market. Ouch.

Finally, down in Australia, iOS has dropped to 30.5 per cent of the market and Android has risen to 56.9 per cent marketshare, with Windows Phone 7's 4.8 per cent share of the pie bringing up the rear.

Android-Powered Ouya Isn't Without Its Share of Problems

It’s not a secret that gamers are pining for new hardware. Whether that’s next-gen consoles or new handhelds, it doesn’t really matter, they just want something new to play games on. That seems to be where the fervor directed at Ouya comes into play.
Our own Jared Newman wrote about the console's unveiling and what you need to know already, but I find the whole concept of a new, Android-powered home console extremely interesting. Android isn’t what I would immediately think of if someone asked what operating system a low-cost home console should run on.
There’s a few reasons, but the biggest is the state of games on Android platforms. Take a minute to search through Google Play (formerly known as Android Market) and find some of the few games that have actually been optimized for Android tablets; there aren’t many. Now take that number, compared to the overall number of games available for Android, and try to estimate how many of those will be optimized for play on a television. Maybe a few dozen, at most?
Thousands of people are investing in a system that will be able to play a few dozen games at launch. That isn’t much. Sure, it’s all about investing in the future. Developers might start to optimize their titles once they realize that there’s a market for them, but that takes time. Unless developers can get their hands on final Ouya hardware a few months ahead of time, they won’t be ready for launch (The Ouya Kickstarter does claim that some developers will receive Ouya dev kits before the console launches -- Ed.). The Android OS is known for being very picky about the specific type of hardware that the user has. An application might work perfectly on one phone, but not at all on another, simply because of the onboard video card. That’s the first challenge that users are going to have to face, but there’s plenty of challenges ahead for developers as well.
One of the biggest issues with Android is piracy. The whole appeal of Ouya is that it’s open-source, the console manufacturer doesn’t decide what is allowed on the console and what isn’t. That also means that they don’t really decide how things go on the console. Any Android application is available illegally by simply searching for the name of the application and file type and I see that being the case for games released on Ouya as well. According the manufacturer, the console will have a USB port for expanded storage, and that could very well be used for this nefarious purpose.

One of the main features of Ouya is that some part of the game has to be free-to-play. Developers can charge for titles, but they have to offer some kind of demo or trial. It’s a good model, because most gamers want to be able to try something out before they put down their money. This is something that PlayStation has done a great job with; they offer 60-demos of most of their titles to PlayStation Plus users, and I’m hoping that we see something similar here. Even with this caveat, there are still full versions of games and with Ouya’s open-source nature, you can bet that someone will find a way to crack and distribute them. It’s something that developers are going to have to consider before putting in the effort and development time to optimize their titles for Ouya.
We really have no idea what Ouya could do. It’s an extremely novel concept and the Kickstarter video sold me on the UI (something that I always find troubling with Android), but there’s still so much that’s unknown. We don’t even know what the left side of the controller looks like! We can only hope that they reveal more information as the Kickstarter campaign continues. At the time of writing, they’ve raised over $3.2 million dollars and it has been less than 48 hours. That says something about what gamers are looking for.

Android Jelly Bean rolling out to HSPA+ Galaxy Nexus, hands-on impressions

I have both an HSPA+ Galaxy Nexus (I use it with my T-Mobile and AT&T accounts) and a Verizon CDMA Nexus. As Google announced yesterday, the Jelly Bean (Android 4.1) update is now rolling out to HSPA+ devices. I installed a custom ROM last week and have been using Jelly Bean for a few days so wanted to share some experiences. I thought Ice Cream Sandwich was excellent and what we always wanted from Android and now Jelly Bean greatly improves on that experience. The primary improvements for me include Google Now, enhanced notifications, and a smoother user interface. You can check out many screenshots of Jelly Bean on my Galaxy Nexus in my image gallery. The Verge has an excellent detailed review of Jelly Bean that you should check out too.
Check out my full screenshot gallery of Jelly Bean

Google Now

Google Now is a slick new feature that appears to be the ultimate compilation of Google Search personalized for you. Simply swipe up from below the screen to have Google Now appear. The upper section shows a cool image that changes to reflect your location and time of day with a search box to enter text or voice commands. Below this is where your Google Now cards will appear dynamically. As you can see below the Google Now cards are great for the business person who commutes, goes out to lunch, meets with clients, and travels. There are no real media or social networking features, but primarily personal assistant tools to help you be more efficient and have your smartphone take care of gathering data for your in a smart manner.
The voice search lets you perform the following types of searches and actions:
  • Set reminders (one major reason I used Siri)
  • Send a text message
  • Check weather in different locations
  • Perform calculations
  • Perform a barrel roll (try it, it's fun)
  • Check out sports scores and upcoming game times
  • Get directions
I found the voice search to be fairly picky in regards to how you phrase your question too. If done "properly" you will get the results you expect, but if you don't ask how Google wants you too then you may end up with simple web search results. Unlike S Voice on the Galaxy S III, you cannot perform device functions such as toggling wireless radios with Google Now at this time. Check out this video showing a great selection of questions asked using the Google Now voice search utility.

I found it to be much better than S Voice on the Galaxy S III and any other Android voice control program. I would even argue that it is better than Siri on iOS. You can perform some things without an internet connection too, including composition of emails and text messages (voice dictation tasks). Anything requiring a search obviously requires some kind of connection.
The Google Now cards change depending on the time of day, searches you have performed, and settings that you customize. There are cards for the following:
  • Traffic: Get traffic conditions and alternate routes before you leave for work.
  • Public transit: Find when the next bus or train departs.
  • Next appointment: See what is coming up and also find out how long it will take given the current traffic conditions.
  • Flights: Keep track of your upcoming flight status.
  • Sports: Keep updated on your local sports teams and even pick up tickets if you want to watch it live.
  • Places: Quickly find a place for lunch or check out local places of interest.
  • Weather: Know what the day is going to be like before you leave the house.
  • Translation: Handy for when you are traveling outside the country or down to California.
  • Currency: Check local conversion rates instead of relying on the local vendor.
  • Time at home: Travelers will appreciate knowing local and home time when traveling.
There are settings for each Google Now card and you can check them out in my image gallery. Be patient when you first start using Google Now as it takes some time for Google to collect the data needed to have it working best for you.

Enhanced notifications

Notifications have always been a distinguishing feature in Android and Jelly Bean helps them get even better. They look better with more use of white and the Roboto fonts rather than so much Tron blue. Some notifications also now appear two blocks high, photos for example, so you can see more relavent information in the notification. You can also now perform some actions right from the notifications, such as tap to share a photo, snooze an alarm, make a quick call back, and more. You can clear all notifications by tapping the new three bar step icon in the upper right.
You also now have app level control of notifications so if you go to your app settings and app info page you can toggle the Show notifications option. The easiest way to get to this app info from a notification is to simply press and hold on it to see an App Info link appear.

NFC to Bluetooth pairing support

I recently reviewed the Nokia Play 360 speakers and followed up by purchasing my own white set of speakers. Jelly Bean supports NFC tap to pair to Bluetooth so just like my Nokia N9 I simply tapped my Galaxy Nexus to my speakers to setup the Bluetooth connection and connect. I know it is not a huge deal, but it is much more convenient than enabling the Bluetooth radio, setting up the pairing, and then connecting through menus.

Other Jelly Bean improvements

There are several more improvements in Jelly Bean. Some are listed below and if you can think of others feel free to let me know in the comments.
  • Smooth as butter: Google had an initiative called Project Butter that was used to make Android more responsive, including optimizing touches on the display. You can immediately tell everything seems just a bit smoother when you use Jelly Bean.
  • Keyboard love: I use SwiftKey for my keyboard, but Google improved the native one and uses a text prediction algorithm like SwiftKey in their new keyboard. There are also some advanced settings options in the keyboard.
  • Offline maps: You have been able to get a small portion of your maps offline in Google Maps for some time, but now you can get more of the area downloaded to your life. However, this area still needs a lot of work and if you want to get full navigation without a connection you should still stick with some excellent 3rd party navigation solutions or use Nokia Maps on another device.
  • Homescreen update: Widgets will now automatically move icons around, similar to what you see on iOS so you shouldn't get that annoying error message that there is no room for the widget as much as before.

Where and when can you get Jelly Bean?

As I started off saying, the HSPA+ Galaxy Nexus Jelly Bean update is rolling out now. There is no word on when the Verizon or Sprint CDMA version will appear as it first goes through carrier testing. You can purchase an HSPA+ Galaxy Nexus for just $349 with no contract and then use it on AT&T and T-Mobile in the US or around the world on GSM carriers. You can also order a Nexus 7 tablet that comes with Jelly Bean. I have mine pre-ordered and look forward to testing it out.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Android 4.1 Jelly Bean – Savior of the Samsung Galaxy Nexus

Google’s recent unveiling of its latest and greatest Android 4.1 Jelly Bean OS seems destined to not only skyrocket the Nexus 7 tablet to fame, but also breathe new life into an array of existing high-end Android Smartphones. Likely to be the first of countless devices to receive a well-deserved facelift, Google is once again showcasing the Samsung Galaxy Nexus for sale in its own Play Store, with a tempting serving of 4.1 Jelly Bean to boot.
In fact, Samsung has dodged quite the proverbial bullet to say the least as the inclusion of Android 4.1 Jelly Bean is exactly what has allowed the company to sidestep a temporary restriction put on sales of the Galaxy Nexus
For those who may have somehow missed out on the hype so far, Google unveiled Android 4.1 Jelly Bean at is I/O conference a couple of week ago, delivering the full inside scoop though falling short of an exact release date. Among an array of new features and tweaks afforded to version 4.1 is what has been dubbed the Siri-killing Google Now, which according to early test puts its Apple cousin to shame in terms of overall accuracy.
Of course, no Android 4.1 Jelly Bean release date also meant no information as to existing product update rollouts, though the wheels appear to have been set in motion and the future looks promising for Samsung devotees.
With preorders already in high gear, the official Google Nexus tablet release date is expected to come about during the mid-stages of this month and bring Android 4.1 Jelly Bean to the masses for the very first time. With an incredible spec-sheet, a price tag of just $199 and the bragging-rights that come with temporary Jelly Bean exclusivity, chances are the Nexus 7 will take quite the bite from a market traditionally dominated by Apple’s iPad.

Google Edges Jelly Bean Closer to Release

Google announced on Monday that the company was releasing Android 4.1 Jelly Bean to the open source community, a step that usually indicates the company is getting close to officially shipping the next major release of the mobile operating system. Jean-Baptiste Queru, technical lead for the open source side of Android, made the announcement on the company’s developer forums.
Android 4.1 Jelly Bean

Google officially announced Jelly Bean at the company’s I/O developer conference in June. This version of Android is aimed at both tablets and smartphones, and it was the featured OS for Google’s new Nexus 7 tablet that was also unveiled at the conference.
To that end, Mr. Queru noted that, “Proprietary binaries are available for Nexus 7 and Galaxy Nexus. Nexus S and Xoom will follow.”
Jelly Bean will be an important release for Google as the company works to make a dent in the world of tablets with the Nexus 7. Jelly Bean could also bring Android’s voice command infrastructure up to par with Apple’s Siri. As such, it’s the first version of Android that The Mac Observer considers all that interesting—you’re mileage will certainly vary.

Hands On With Android 4.0 for the Samsung Galaxy Note

Samsung Galaxy Note (AT&T)
So here's what's wrong with Android. Right now the tech world is talking about Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, which brings a smoother interface, better responsiveness, and the potentially radical Google Now search function to the world's top smartphone platform. But as of July 10, AT&T is beginning to push Android 4.0 out to its popular Samsung Galaxy Note phablet.
That said, you shouldn't look a free software update in the opcodes. Many Android phones are still stuck on version 2.3 or earlier, so Samsung deserves some kudos for making it this far. Android 4.0 is a distinct update to the Galaxy Note's earlier Android 2.3, with better handling of multitasking and access to the superior Chrome browser. Those two features alone make the upgrade worth the time to install, but Samsung has also added in some entertaining frills.
Touchwizzing All Over The Place Android 4.0 on the Galaxy Note doesn't look anything like stock Android 4.0, with its minimalist black backgrounds. In fact, you'll be hard-pressed to tell the difference between the UI here and the earlier Android 2.3 UI. Samsung's TouchWiz overlay is so heavy and complete, touching every major app, that there's little new in many of the core apps.

Hold down the Home button, though, and you get a scrolling list of thumbnails of running apps - that's a new Ice Cream Sandwich feature. The new software also supports NFC (but not Google Wallet) and Google's gimmicky face-unlock feature.
Web-browsing performance has really improved, too. The Antutu and Nenamark system and graphics benchmarks didn't show any change, but the Android 4.0 browser shows dramatically better results on the Browsermark browser benchmark, jumping from 48260 under Android 2.3 to 67380 under Android 4.0. That's still far short of the fastest scores we've seen, though, because the Galaxy Note's 1.5-GHz Qualcomm S3 processor isn't as powerful as the Qualcomm S4 we're seeing in leading devices like the Samsung Galaxy S III.
Android 4.0 also gives you access to the Chrome browser, which I consider a killer app for Ice Cream Sandwich; it's fast and smooth and clean and you'll never go back. Chrome hit a 71702 on Browsermark, and its tab management is much quicker than the standard Android browser.
Some owners of foreign Galaxy Notes have complained about stability issues after their updates, but I didn't run into any such issues after running a range of apps on our unit.
Samsung also brought a few new apps along to showcase its pressure-sensitive, Wacom-powered S Pen technology. S Note is a note-taking app with various templates and a neat trick of solving mathematical formulas using Wolfram Alpha. My Story lets you create and send little handwritten cards made up of a collage of images and ink.
Thanks to a tweet from Samsung spokesman Phil Berne, I also discovered the new software supports Share Shot, a camera mode that automatically shares out your photos to nearby friends via Wi-Fi Direct.
I didn't see any responsiveness problems in Samsung's own apps, but Autodesk Sketchbook Pro sometimes wouldn't recognize light pen touches. That's disappointing, and it's also something Google specifically said it was addressing in Jelly Bean.
It's Not Just Jelly Bean Samsung won't commit to bringing Jelly Bean to the Galaxy Note yet. "Samsung will soon announce which additional devices are eligible for the Jelly Bean update," the company told me in an email. But my disappointment here doesn't just have to do with Jelly Bean.
Android 4.0 on the Galaxy Note now lacks important Samsung-specific features, too - the features that came with the new Galaxy S III. The S Voice personal assistant, S Beam file transfer, and more camera features all set Samsung's new flagship phone apart, but they aren't coming to the Galaxy Note with this update.
This leaves the Galaxy Note in an odd position. Already, rumors are whizzing around the Internet about a "Galaxy Note II" coming out in August with a newer processor and the Galaxy S III software extensions. Will that one have Jelly Bean? That's anyone's guess.
The new software doesn't change the Galaxy Note's basic value proposition, though. This is still the handheld for people who want to play games, watch videos, or read text without squinting at a tiny screen, who don't make a lot of voice calls and do spend a lot of time tapping at their devices. Right now, it's unique in the market. The Android 4.0 upgrade is a nice perk, but it doesn't change the game here.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Spam Emails: Android Botnet or Not?

Reports emerged this week about a spam-producing Android botnet, but is this really an Android problem?
As outlined by PCMag's Security Watch, researchers from Microsoft and Sophos on Wednesday said they had found the first instance of an Android botnet. The spam messages included the signature, "Sent from Yahoo! Mail on Android," prompting Microsoft researcher Terry Zink to conclude that "a spammer has control of a botnet that lives on Android devices."
Sophos chimed in, with analyst Chester Wisniewski arguing that it is "likely that Android users are downloading Trojanized pirated copies of paid Android applications."
Later that day, however, Lookout Security said "a more plausible explanation for this behavior appears to be insecure Android applications."
Lookout said the information provided by Microsoft and Sophos was not enough to "definitively identify" the cause of the spam because the data is "easily replicable."
"After taking a detailed look at the app, we've found a number of issues that have potentially broader implications for all Android users of Yahoo! Mail," Lookout continued. "In the interest of responsible disclosure, we cannot at this time provide details around such vulnerabilities."
Microsoft's Zink and Sophos's Wisniewski have since published follow-up posts. Zink conceded that it's "entirely possible" that a bot on a compromised PC connected to Yahoo Mail inserted the Android tagline in an effort to dupe people into thinking it came from Android devices.
"On the other hand, the other possibility is that Android malware has become much more prevalent and because of its ubiquity, there is sufficient motivation for spammers to abuse the platform. The reason these messages appear to come from Android devices is because they did come from Android devices," he said.
Zink said he considered both options before publishing his data and "selected the latter."
In his own post, Wisniewski said he "didn't make it clear that we do not have a malware sample that does this, simply evidence that strongly suggests it is happening."
Wisniewski said he has "no evidence" of message forgery. "The messages are delivered to our spam traps from genuine Yahoo! servers with valid DKIM signatures," he wrote.
Wisniewski conceded that "we don't know the answer right now," but said "the evidence suggests it is Android malware and there isn't a good reason to think that pretending it is from Yahoo! via Android devices is of any benefit to the spammers."

Droid Incredible 4G LTE review: Verizon gets an excellent smaller-sized Android phone

It's hard to underestimate the value of brand loyalty. Just ask Verizon Wireless. It's with satisfied Incredible and Incredible 2 owners in mind that the carrier is promoting the Droid Incredible 4G LTE, a 4-inch, $149 device that -- as you may have guessed -- rides along VZW's fast LTE network.

Interestingly, the Incredible 4G LTE is landing at a time when many consumers might have preferred, say, the HTC One X. In fact, though, Verizon's decision to instead update the Incredible (also made by HTC) introduces a rather enviable proposition to Verizon customers. Remember that in a short matter of time, the Samsung Galaxy S III will soon make its debut at Verizon, at which point, it's expected to become the network's premiere smartphone. Still, its large size will deter many shoppers, and when viewed through this lens, the Droid Incredible 4G LTE begins to make sense. Put simply, it's a compact handset that stands as the antithesis to the assumption that size equals power. While the handset doesn't quite approach the capabilities or elegance of the One X (or the One S, for that matter), the latest Incredible is a worthy successor and deserves consideration as your next smartphone -- regardless of your current provider. Read on to learn why.

Go ahead and raise your hand if you were surprised that the Rezound wasn't christened as part of the Incredible lineup. Given the cosmetic similarities, you'd be forgiven. Perhaps it was the phone's larger 4.3-inch display that ultimately dictated its fate, but Incredible fans will be pleased to know that the industrial design of the Droid Incredible 4G LTE is remarkably similar to its forebears. The phone maintains roughly the same dimensions and weight as the previous iterations, and features bold, beveled lines around back. Purists will appreciate that the original Incredible's red accents have returned, which are evident on the front speaker grille, the power button and camera pod.
Thankfully, the latest Incredible is remarkably more comfortable to hold -- especially in comparison to the first generation -- as the beveled edges now flow into gentle curves along the side that allow the phone to fit naturally in one's palm. The soft-touch rear cover has also gained a nice textured finish, which adds to the overall visual appeal and makes the handset easier to grip. HTC has also updated the capacitive navigation buttons, which now fall in line with the scheme of the One lineup.
DNP HTC Droid Incredible 4G LTE review a compact superphone debuts at Verizon Wireless
While the external changes to the Droid Incredible 4G LTE are rather modest, the real story lurks within -- and it's a thriller. Based on the Snapdragon S4 from Qualcomm, the phone sports a 1.2GHz dual-core CPU and an Adreno 225 GPU. We'll discuss performance details a bit later, but quite simply, the phone offers a lot of power in a little package and feels every bit as snappy as the dual-core One X and Galaxy S III. It's very impressive.
Naturally, a smartphone is only as good as its display, and the Droid Incredible 4G LTE doesn't disappoint. While some may be put off by its smallish size, just as many will view the 4-inch screen as the phone's most compelling feature. Like the HTC One S, the Incredible offers a qHD (960 x 540) display, and while the resolution isn't exactly cutting edge, it's a great fit for a screen of this size. The end result is a pixel density of 275ppi, which is slightly better than the One S. Thanks to the S-LCD screen, text is very sharp and crisp, viewing angles are admirable and color reproduction is solid. The display is also reasonably usable in direct sunlight. Only in comparison to the S-LCD 2 screen of the One X does the new Incredible appear to be anything less than excellent.
DNP HTC Droid Incredible 4G LTE review a compact superphone debuts at Verizon Wireless
Sadly, you won't find anything like the Infinity screen on the One X and One S, which gently drapes over the phone's edge. Here, your fingers will rub against the phone's frame. While the Droid Incredible 4G LTE is a solidly built phone, small touches like this reinforce the impression that it doesn't reach the fantastic engineering heights of the One lineup. That said, the design is also more functional, as the device offers an accessible 1,700mAh battery and removable microSD storage. Users will need to handle the rear cover gently, however, which includes a built-in NFC antenna along with raised contact points that appear somewhat fragile. While the stock rear cover doesn't support inductive charging, the phone contains the necessary contact points. FCC documentation also hints at the functionality. So, perhaps we'll see HTC introduce a separate cover to make inductive charging possible.
In terms of amenities, you'll find the power button, 3.5mm headphone jack and a secondary microphone up top (which allows users to record sound in stereo), a volume rocker on the right-hand side, the primary microphone on the bottom and an MHL-capable micro-USB port situated on the left-hand side. There's also a handy charging / notification light, which is hidden just above the Verizon logo on the face of the phone. Positioned to the right of the camera pod on the rear is a speakerphone.
HTC Droid Incredible 4G LTE
Pricing $199 on-contract before $50 mail-in rebate
Dimensions 4.8 x 2.4 x 0.46 inches (122 x 61 x 11.7mm)
Weight 4.66 oz. (132g)
Screen size 4.0 inches (102mm)
Screen resolution 960 x 540 pixels (275ppi)
Screen type Super LCD display
Battery 1,700mAh
Internal storage 8GB (5.21GB available)
External storage MicroSD, none included
Rear camera 8MP, AF, LED flash
Front-facing cam VGA
Video capture 1080p
Radios CDMA 800 / 1900MHz; LTE 700MHz
Bluetooth v4.0
SoC Qualcomm MSM8960 (Snapdragon S4)
CPU 1.2GHz dual-core Krait
GPU Adreno 225
WiFi 2.4GHz: 802.11b/g/n; 5.0GHz 802.11a/n
Operating system Android 4.0.3
Performance and battery life
DNP HTC Droid Incredible 4G LTE review a compact superphone debuts at Verizon Wireless
Don't be fooled by the small size of the Droid Incredible 4G LTE, because this one runs with the big dogs. Like the US variants of the One X and Galaxy S III, the phone includes a wicked fast Snapdragon S4 from Qualcomm. Granted, the dual-core CPU within the latest Incredible runs at 1.2GHz -- compared to 1.5GHz in its larger brethren -- but it contains the same Adreno 225 GPU and real-world performance is comparable.
Benchmark tests reveal a similar story. For example, within Quadrant, the new Incredible's slower CPU is evident, but it also boasts significantly faster memory that helps it best even the mighty Transformer Prime tablet. In Vellamo, the Droid Incredible 4G LTE outperformed the quad-core HTC One X -- which features NVIDIA Tegra 3 internals -- and fell just behind the dual-core One X and Galaxy S III.
HTC Droid Incredible 4G LTE HTC One X (AT&T) Samsung Galaxy S III (AT&T)
Quadrant 4,247 4,784 5,084
Vellamo 2,045 2,259 2,153
AnTuTu 6,001 6,956 6,713
SunSpider 0.9.1 (ms) 1,871 1,453 1,926
GLBenchmark Egypt Offscreen (fps) 56 56 54
CF-Bench 7,778 9,479 9,439
SunSpider: lower scores are better.
As we've alluded to, the real-world performance of the latest Incredible is buttery smooth: boot times are quick, apps are summoned without hesitation and the web browser is utterly fluid. Put simply, it's a joy to use.
The story with Verizon LTE is generally consistent and two-fold: excellent data speeds and miserable battery life. While we never experienced the insanely fast speeds that many have come to expect (performance averaged 13Mbps down and 6Mbps up) the latest Incredible offers battery life that's a refreshing departure from the norm. In our standard rundown test, the Droid Incredible 4G LTE eked out a solid seven hours and 15 minutes of runtime, which matches the excellent longevity of the Droid 4. Similarly, the phone managed to get 52 hours of uptime from a single charge with moderate use. While the Incredible's battery life doesn't approach the high mark set by the Droid RAZR Maxx, it offers a respite from the constant search for power outlets. And at the end of the day, that's all that really matters.
DNP HTC Droid Incredible 4G LTE review a compact superphone debuts at Verizon Wireless
The Droid Incredible 4G LTE is a remarkably solid performer as a phone. While it doesn't quite approach landline quality, it's easily one of the better experiences we've had with a mobile device in quite some time. In all cases, voices were remarkably clear -- even at low volume -- and we were able to carry on a natural conversation without straining to hear the caller or struggling to properly position the earpiece. Similarly, others commented on the clarity and depth of our voice.
With respect to navigation, we're happy to say that the latest Incredible was able to detect GPS satellites nearly instantaneously.
DNP HTC Droid Incredible 4G LTE review a compact superphone debuts at Verizon Wireless
If you're familiar with Sense 4, the Droid Incredible 4G LTE offers very few surprises. The skin was developed by HTC independent of Google's work with Android 4.0, and while it remains a significant departure from Ice Cream Sandwich, the overall experience is attractive, intuitive and responsive. For the purposes of this review, we'll focus on the software that's specific to the latest Incredible, but if you're unfamiliar with Sense 4, be sure to check out our full review of HTC's latest skin.

Upon first boot, you'll be greeted by a setup wizard that prompts first-timers to select their default language, configure Verizon's Backup Assistant Plus service (a freemium offering, which can be skipped), setup various email accounts and enable their Google account. As you'll see, the setup wizard also beats users over the head with the fact that their phone can be used to track location. Indeed, in the next step you'll be asked to configure which location services -- Verizon, GPS and Google -- to enable. Lastly, users are given the option to view basic tutorial videos. Once that's out of the way, you'll be delivered to the home screen, where the default wallpaper is quick to remind users that this is, indeed, a Droid. As you'd hope, you can easily switch to HTC's own themes, but by default, it's all rather heavy-handed with Verizon's own brand. The phone even goes so far as to play the familiar "Droid" sound with each new message. It's a not-so-subtle way of turning users into walking advertisements.
Fortunately, Verizon exercised restraint with its bundled apps. That's not to suggest that the phone is pristine, however, as you'll discover a few applications that essentially amount to advertisements. These include two games, Let's Golf 3 HD and Real Racing 2, along with Amazon Kindle, Amazon MP3, Slacker Radio and Slingbox. With respect to the games, these are merely shell apps that weigh in at less than 1MB and immediately prompt users to download approximately 600MB worth of data. As a bit of an insult, both games are merely playable demos, so it's hard to argue that they add any value to the phone. Slingbox is a similar story, as the included "app" merely prompts users to sign up for the paid service and download the software.
DNP HTC Droid Incredible 4G LTE review a compact superphone debuts at Verizon Wireless
With respect to Verizon's own software, you'll find My Verizon Mobile for quick account access, NFL Mobile, V Cast Tones (for those who still pay for ringtones), Verizon Video, visual Voicemail -- a $1.99/month service -- and VZ Navigator. There's also a Mobile Hotspot app, which more or less exists for those who can't find the toggle within the settings menu. Those who need to keep close tabs on their data usage will also find a small widget from Verizon for this purpose, which links to the My Verizon app.
None of the bundled apps can be uninstalled, but HTC's software allows users to selectively disable unwanted titles, which keeps them out of the launcher. In this sense, it's rather unoffensive as each application's footprint is so small, but several of the apps are annoyances just the same.
DNP HTC Droid Incredible 4G LTE review a compact superphone debuts at Verizon Wireless
We've good news and bad news to share with respect to the camera in the Droid Incredible 4G LTE. First, the bad: this phone's camera isn't the same as you'll find on the One X and One S. It's inferior. On the upside, however, the camera is still quite excellent in its own right. While the One X features an f/2.0 lens, you'll find an f/2.2, 28mm setup here. Both 8-megapixel cameras contain backside illuminated sensors and are rather comparable with respect to daylight and indoor photography, but the One X is noticeably better when it comes to low-light scenes.

All told, the camera captures an impressive amount of detail with admirable color reproduction and delivers fantastic results at the press of a button. Most users will be rightfully thrilled by this camera, and our only nitpick is an excessive amount of sharpness that's discernible when images are viewed at full size.
The greatest differentiator between the camera of the Droid Incredible 4G LTE and the One lineup is the exclusion of HTC's ImageSense processor. While you'll find roughly the same set of software features, the real magic of HTC's imaging capabilities happen on the processing level, and it's absent on the latest Incredible. Not only does ImageSense affect overall image quality, but it has a bearing on the camera's real-world functionality as well. For example, while the Droid Incredible 4G LTE can capture roughly three images per second, the HTC One series can process twice this in the same amount of time -- all thanks to its hardware. In terms of software, you'll find the same set of shooting modes, which include the ability to capture HDR imagery, gyroscope-assisted panoramas, close-up and low light scenes, along with landscape, portrait and a few others. You'll also find the ability to apply Instagram-like filters to images, along with basic crop and rotation tools.
The Droid Incredible 4G LTE once again impresses with its 1080p video capture, which records at a smooth 30fps with stereo sound. We would like to see more refinement with respect to the image stabilization feature, however, and while the auto-focus during recording is a nice feature, you'll likely need to tap-to-focus during the clip in situations where you transition between close-up and distant subjects. Like with the One X and One S, you'll find the ability to easily capture widescreen (3,264 x 1,840) images while recording 1080p video.
DNP HTC Droid Incredible 4G LTE review a compact superphone debuts at Verizon Wireless
At first blush, it's easy to say that Verizon made a crucial misstep by excluding the One X from its lineup. While it's difficult to quickly dismiss that claim, the Galaxy S III will no doubt satisfy a large number of customers in search of a large and powerful smartphone. And besides, the Droid Incredible 4G LTE is a strong addition to Verizon's lineup, as it offers nearly all of the power and functionality of a premiere Android superphone, except in a smaller form factor.
As is, the purchasing decision for Verizon customers is now clear and distinct: those who want a best-of-breed smartphone with a large display should choose the Galaxy S III, while those who want nearly the same level of performance within a smaller enclosure should choose the Droid Incredible 4G LTE. Naturally, the Galaxy Nexus remains a solid option for those who insist upon stock Android above all other considerations, and the Droid RAZR Maxx is a competent performer for those who demand maximum battery life.
While the One X would still be a welcome addition at Verizon Wireless, the carrier now has an incredibly strong portfolio of Android smartphones that cater to a wide variety of desires. If you're currently on the hunt for a compact smartphone that offers world-class performance, you've reached your destination.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Microsoft engineer discovers Android spam botnet

Microsoft engineer Terry Zink has discovered Android devices are being used to send spam. He has identified an international Android botnet and outlined the details on his MSDN blog.
Android malware is on the rise. There have been many fake versions of Android apps (see links below) that try to cash in by sending expensive SMS messages. This is different.
In this case, the money is being generated after spam e-mails are sent from Yahoo Mail servers on Android devices. A closer look at the e-mails' header information shows all the messages come from compromised Yahoo! accounts. Furthermore, they are also stamped with the "Sent from Yahoo! Mail on Android" signature.
As such, Zink believes a cybercriminal has developed a new piece of malware that can access Yahoo Mail accounts on Android devices and send spam messages from them. Since this is happening on a large scale, it follows the perpetrator has also linked the Android devices together to create a spam botnet, a technique often used when trying to monetize spam; it's all about volume, volume, volume.
Since Yahoo provides the originating IP address for the e-mails, Zink was able to list the countries from where the spam is being sent: Asia, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and South America. More specifically, the e-mails Zink got his hands on came from Chile, Indonesia, Lebanon, Oman, Philippines, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, Ukraine, and Venezuela.
Most of these countries are in the developing world, and so the Microsoft engineer argues that users likely tried to download pirated versions of apps to avoid paying. Alternatively, they were tricked into downloading a fake version of the Yahoo! Mail app. Either way, it's unlikely they used the official Google Play store.
Android lets you download and install apps from anywhere. Please only install apps from Google Play unless you are absolutely certain you know who wrote the software you want to install. Fighting malware isn't just the responsibility of security firms: you can help by being smart about what you install.

Sky Go is coming to Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich this month

TV BROADCASTING OUTFIT Sky has declared plans to bring Sky Go to Os 4.0 Ice Lotion Food gadgets by the end of the month, just in here we are at the rollout of Os 4.1 Jam Vegetable.

This is best part about it for clients who have already made the leap to Os 4.0, as Sky said that the app will be suitable with the HTC Wish S, Wish HD, Amazing S, Feeling, Feeling XE, New samsung Universe S, Universe Observe, Universe Nexus, Universe S2 and, of course, the Universe S3.

However, it's not such best part about it for those looking to update to Os 4.1 Jam Vegetable, as the app won't work with Google next mobile managing system.

Despite Sky typically moving out new functions to IOS first, owners of Os 4.0 Ice Lotion Food operated gadgets will also get access to Sky Go's new on-demand functions, allowing users' to get up with reveals while on the go.

"With the huge and ever-growing reputation of Os gadgets in the UK it's amazing to make on-demand content from Sky Films and Sky Enjoyment available to Sky clients for at the first try," said Mom Knill, product home of Sky Go.

"This update means clients can enjoy some of the most popular reveals such as Sky Atlantic's Mad Men, Veep and thousands of the newest Artist blockbusters, whenever matches them.

"We wish this update to the assistance offers extra versatility to Os clients and the new option of on-demand watching makes a better experience for all Sky clients across all systems."

It's still ambiguous when the Sky Go tv catch-up assistance will be coming to the Iphone and Ipad, and Sky was not available for thoughts at plenty of duration of writing.

Source: The Inquirer (

Monday, July 2, 2012

Android extends its US smartphone lead

The Google Android platform has extended its lead in the US smartphone market while Apple increased its market share to nearly a third in March in May, a survey shows.
Android accounted for 50.9 per cent of all smartphones used in the US during the three-month average period, according to the comScore survey.
Apple's iPhone scored 31.9 per cent of the market, up from 30.2 per cent in the prior three-month period.
The survey comes amid intense competition and legal fights over patents in the smartphone market.
A judge in California last week granted Apple's request for an injunction blocking US sales of Samsung Galaxy Nexus smartphones made in collaboration with Google to challenge the iPhone. Additional patent cases are pending in other courts.
ComScore on Monday said nearly 110 million people in the US owned smartphones during the three months ending in May, up five per cent from February.
The survey showed continued bad news for Research in Motion's BlackBerry, which saw its platform share fall to 11.4 per cent from 13.4 per cent.
Microsoft's share edged up slightly to 4.0 per cent from 3.9 per cent.
Among all mobile phones, Korean-based Samsung remained the top maker with 25.7 per cent of the US market. Second was fellow Korean LG with 19.1 per cent, while Apple was third with 15 per cent.
Android and iPhone smartphones accounted for slightly more than 90 per cent of US smartphone sales in the fourth quarter of 2011, industry-tracker NPD Group reported earlier this year.
A recent survey by ABI Research found that Samsung and Apple have captured more than half the global market for smartphones and over 90 per cent of its profits.
ABI said Samsung delivered 43 million units in the quarter, to 35 million for Apple.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Google Design Chief Would Love to Work With RIM on an Android Phone With a Real Keyboard

SAN FRANCISCO – Take a look at the myriad Android phones on the market today and you’ll notice that most of them no longer have actual keypads — only virtual keyboards on their screens. But Google’s Director of Android User Experience, Matias Duarte, said he still hopes there will be Android phones with hardware keyboards.
“I am still a huge fan of hardware keyboards,” Duarte told ABC News in an interview. “Many of the products I have worked on in the past  have had them. I think there is a place for them — it’s all about choice and different types of devices. I would love, personally, to have a portrait oriented device, like we made at Palm.”
Before joining Google, Duarte headed up software design at Palm and worked on the company’s Palm Pre device, which had a physical keyboard and touchscreen.
On the heels of RIM’s major loss and struggles to put out a new operating system and phones, Duarte said he would love to work with the BlackBerry maker. “If RIM wanted to work on Android devices, I would really welcome that. They clearly make great physical keyboards.”
Duarte is one of the leads on Google’s Android Nexus program, in which Google works closely with hardware partners to make phones or tablets to highlight the software. Google and Asus released the Nexus 7 tablet yesterday with the new version of Android called Jelly Bean.
Just today RIM announced plans to cut 5,000 employees after reporting lackluster earnings. The company does allow for Android applications to run on its own software, but has continued with its plans to develop BlackBerry 10, the next version of its BlackBerry software for its phones.

Android apps to run on Apple Macs via Bluestacks program

Owners of Android smartphones now have a way to run their favourite apps on an Apple Mac computer.
Start-up Bluestacks has produced a software wrapper that lets the phone apps run on a desktop Apple machine.
The release follows an earlier software tool that helped Android apps make the jump from a phone to a Windows PC.
Bluestacks said the software was for people that wanted a consistent experience with their favourite apps, no matter where they used them.
Playing games So far, only 17 Android developers, including Handy Games, Creative Mobile and Pulse, have signed up to make their apps available to run on a Mac.
Bluestacks said more developers were signing up to get their apps working with the company's software.
The latest estimates suggest there are about 400,000 Android apps available.
In a statement, Bluestacks head Rosen Sharma said its software was helping to "break open" the closed ecosystem surrounding Apple's computers.
Making apps that looked good on desktops could also help developers produce programs that worked well on tablets, he said.
Stuart Miles, founder and head of technology news website Pocket-lint, said the Bluestacks software would likely prove popular with keen users of Android apps.
"The appeal is likely to be more for gamers," he said. "So your favourite Android game, you could have that on your desktop at work."
It might fill another gap, he said, because there was currently no easy way to run apps for the iPhone on a Mac desktop computer.
In addition, it might also mean that people can get hold of free versions of iOS apps by going to an Android site, downloading it and running it on a Mac. If more developers sign up it could mean they can get popular programs, such as Angry Birds, for free instead of buying them from Apple's Mac store.
A test, or alpha, version of the Bluestacks Mac software is now available for download on the company's website.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Instagram Rolls Out iOS, Android Updates

Instagram on Monday rolled out its first update since Facebook snatched up the popular photo-filter application for $1 billion.
Apple iOS and Android users received upgrades, bumping the app up to version 2.5 and 1.1.4, respectively.
The most notable change on both operating systems is the "Explore" tab, which was swapped for the former "Popular" tab, and now sports a new compass-like icon leading to the top-ranking snapshots.
The update also gave the Profile tab a cleaner look, added the ability to search for users and tags in the Explore tab, improved commenting, and pumped up its speed optimization, according to the iTunes Store app description.
Instagram iOS Update Touting its Facebook connection, the app now offers the option to share "likes" to the social network, though the option seems to be strictly an iPhone feature.
The iOS app also removed the two-click process to pull photos from the phone's Camera Roll into Instagram. Now, just tap and hold the camera button, and users will be brought directly there.
Instagram has been staying busy this year. In March, it partnered with Hipstamatic to bring more photo options to iPhone users, and launched its Android app before being sold to Facebook in April, the same month that it hit No. 1 on the iTunes app chart.
The most recent version of Instagram is available in the iTunes Store and on Google Play.
For more, see PCMag's review of Instagram for Android and the slideshow below as well as our review of Instagram for iOS.

Mozilla Releases Updated Firefox for Android

Mozilla today released an updated version of Firefox for Android that the company said is "faster, smarter, and safer than ever before."
The revamped app is available now in the Google Play store.
Mozilla touted the improved speed of the new app. "You'll notice dramatic performance improvements that make Firefox on your Android phone super fast with everything from startup and page load times to panning and zooming and Web app performance when you just want to play Mozilla's BrowserQuest game with your friends," Mozilla wrote in a blog post.
The company said its browser is "significantly faster" than the stock browser that currently ships on Android phones, according to benchmarks like Sunspider and the new, Mozilla-developed Eideticker (click below).
Firefox for Android In terms of features, the new app "has a fresh, streamlined look with a personalized start page that saves you time getting where you want to go on the Web," Mozilla said.
A new Awesome Screen syncs browsing history, bookmarks, passwords, and form data from the desktop PC browser to your Android device. Mozilla also optimized features like tabbed browsing, Firefox Sync, and Firefox Add-ons for mobile.
Firefox for Android also supports Flash, so the updated browser will allow for more video watching, game play, and Web interactions than before. Mozilla also promised enhanced HTML5 capabilities, which will help developers create richer Web apps and websites.
On the security front, there is support for things like Do Not Track, Master Password, HTTP Strict Transport Security, and more.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Google entices Android developers to 'build beautiful, powerful, successful apps' with site refresh

Google entices Android developers to 'build beautiful, powerful, successful apps'
You know what's happening next week in Android land? Yes, it's Google I/O, and we'll be there to give you the all the details, of course. Leading up to the event, Google's just given its Android developer site a fresh new "streamlined, simplified, and refocused" look. The redesign touches on three aspects of the app development lifecycle -- design, development and distribution -- in the hopes to entice developers to "build beautiful, powerful, successful apps". Want to find out more? Check out the gallery below and hit the break for the PR.

Google Mistakenly Outs Android 4.1 Jelly Bean as Next OS

Google Play
Google's next version of Android will be dubbed Jelly Bean according to a temporary listing on the Google Play store. New wallpaper options might show up too. Image: Google
If there was ever any debate about what the nickname of Google’s next version of Android would be, those questions can be put to rest. According to a posting in Google’s own online storefront, Android 4.1 will be called Jelly Bean.
This doesn’t come as much of a surprise, as Jelly Bean had been rumored as the code name for months. But it was a surprise that the facts were revealed Thursday on the Google Play online store. It also seems to have been a mistake.
According to a user named Lil Jones on the XDA Developers forum, a popular site among Android developers and modders, Google Play listed the Samsung Galaxy Nexus smartphone as, “The latest smartphone from Google, soon the first phone with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean.”
The website Droid Life also saw the same product description on Google Play after adding a Galaxy Nexus to a Google Play shopping cart. Google, however, took the product listing down after a few minutes. While the Galaxy Nexus is still available through Google Play, it no longer makes mention of Android 4.1. A shot of the Galaxy Nexus sporting a new pink and green wallpaper and what looks like a new search box still shows up (as seen above) on Google Play when the Galaxy Nexus is in a user’s shopping cart.
Google declined to comment on the Google Play mishap, or on the Jelly Bean nickname. One bit of detail not disclosed on Google Play or by Google is when the next iteration of Android will arrive. A good time for such a launch would, of course, be Google I/O, the company’s massive developer conference taking place June 27-29 in San Francisco.
At the last I/O conference, Google teased Android 4.0, Ice Cream Sandwich, but it didn’t arrive until November with the launch of the Galaxy Nexus.
In case you’re not up on Google’s Android name game, the tasty treat-inspired monikers for the software are selected in alphabetical order. Over Android’s history, we’ve seen Cupcake, Donut, Eclair, Froyo, Gingerbread, Honeycomb and Ice Cream Sandwich. Jelly Bean, you’re up next.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

ARM preps Mali GPU for low-cost Android tablets

ARM has developed a new, entry-level version of its Mali graphics processor that could help expand the market for low-cost Android tablets.

The GPU, called the Mali-450, is designed to help manufacturers build tablets that cost less than market-leading products like Apple's iPad, which starts at $399, but provide good enough graphics performance to keep most users satisfied.

With touchscreens and high-definition video now fairly mainstream, the GPUs in tablets and smartphones account for a bigger share of the cost, and take up more space on the CPU on which they're integrated.

Some manufacturers want cheaper parts, however, that offer reasonable graphics performance and occupy less die space. That's where the 450 is targeted, said Ian Smythe, director of marketing in ARM's Media Processing Division.

The new GPU is offered with up to eight cores and offers double the performance of its predecessor, the Mali-400, which has up to four cores, Smythe said. The Mali-450 is expected to appear in tablets in the first half of next year, he said.

Tablet makers are demanding a wide range of price and performance characteristics, so ARM is essentially bifurcating its GPU road map. It will offer the Mali-T600 family for higher-end devices, and the Mali-400 family, including the 450, for the low end.

Both can do gaming and video playback, but only the higher-end parts do "computational graphics," Smythe said. That includes tasks like matching points on two images to do facial recognition, or stitching photographs together into a panorama.

ARM supplies the CPU designs used in most tablets and smartphones but it's a relative newcomer to graphics. ARM entered the GPU market in 2006 when it bought Norwegian chip maker Falanx. It's since built the team in Norway from 20 to about 80 people, Smythe said.

The GPUs in Apple's iOS devices are based on a design by ARM's U.K. rival Imagination Technologies. ARM does better in Android-based devices, supplying GPUs for about 20 percent of the smartphones and more than half of Android tablets, Smythe said.

ARM expects its licensees to sell about 100 million Mali GPUs this year, up from 48 million in 2011. "We've not quite caught up to our CPU colleagues who are shipping several billion units per year, but we're making progress," he said.

The best-known smartphone with an ARM GPU is the Samsung Galaxy SII, which uses the Mali-400. The Galaxy SIII, expected later this year, will use the higher-end T604. The Mali-T658, announced in November, should start appearing in phones and tablets in the first half of next year.

Further out, ARM is developing a high-end part code-named Skrymir, named after a giant in Norse mythology, which is due in 2014.

Microsoft debuts Xbox Live app for Android

Xbox fans with Android phones can now keep up – or at least begin to keep up – with their fellow gamers using iPhones and Windows Phone devices, now that Microsoft has released an Xbox Live app for Google's OS.

The XBox Live app for Android went live on Google Play Wednesday, and requires an Xbox Live account as well as Android 2.2 or higher – and a WGVA screen resolution or higher.

"Take your Xbox LIVE experience wherever you go with the My Xbox LIVE app. Track and compare your achievements, connect with your Xbox LIVE friends, and change up your 3D Avatar," read the description on the app's page on Google Play.

"Review all the recent great games you and your friends love to play and compare achievements with them. Access Xbox Spotlight feeds, get breaking news from Xbox LIVE, game tips and tricks, gamer spotlight and much more," it added.

But an article posted on PC World said the app may not be as polished as the versions for Apple's iOS and Microsoft's own Windows Phone.

PC World also noted another potential downside for the Android app is that users will not find out that the app does not fit their phone until they have installed it.

"That appears to have angered some," it said.

Meanwhile, PC World said Microsoft also released an XBox Live app update for iOS, which lets them catch up with Windows Phone users as far as letting them use the app to search and control content from their devices.

"The iOS app now acts a remote which can navigate through the Xbox 360 menus as well as play, pause, rewind, or fast forward through content," it added.

New redesigned Spotify app for Android 4.0

Spotify, the popular music streaming service is ready to sizzle on Android devices that run on Ice Cream Sandwich. The company has now released a redesigned Spotify app for Android, reveals the official Spotify blog.
The preview of the app was released a few weeks ago. It has been crafted with an array of improvements and new features like a cool new design and faster performance. The app completely supports the latest flavour of Google operating system - Android 4.0 a.k.a. Ice Cream Sandwich.
The app has been released with a facelift, featuring all new slide-out navigation, displaying artist imagery in high resolution and it also offers related artist view on the mobile device.
New redesigned Spotify app for Android 4.0
It also follows the social fad, allowing users to check friends' profile pages and playlists on-the-go, and supports 'Extreme' 320kbps files.
The slew of features further include play queue, scrobbling and Crossfade/gapless playback settings. Then, there's the Spotify widget that allows access to the app from the homescreen and also support for folders.
Spotify now provides free access to Spotify Premium on your mobile devices with a trial period of 48 hours. If 48 hours isn’t enough, then users can further extend it by 30 days. Spotify offers instant access to over 15 million tracks, allows online streaming, listening to music offline, sharing music with friends, wirelessly syncing MP3s to Android device, creating and syncing playlists and sending tracks to Facebook and

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Nokia’s Elop: Lumia price cuts will help us take on Android in retail war

Consumers do actually like Nokia’s Windows Phone Lumia device, but retailers are proving harder nut to crack, according to Nokia chief exec Steven Elop - as he set the scene for a price war with Android.
For the relatively small number of consumers the Lumia has reached in its short existence, the phone has been “well received”,  Elop told analysts on a conference call Thursday.
The troubled Finnish mobile device maker today announced it will lay off 10,000 workers worldwide and acquired elements of Swedish mobile imaging software company, Scalado, as part of a longer term effort to focus on the Lumia.
With “specific support from Microsoft” Nokia will aim to increase its appeal by pushing the price of the Lumia line below the entry level Lumia 610 as part of its “low end price point war” with Android.
The real challenge, Elop said, is convincing retailers to bring the device out of the shadows.
“How do you get a preferred position on a shelf, how do you make sure the lights on your device are brighter than the ones from down the road?” asked Elop.
While the aim is to get more Lumia devices into the hands of consumers, Nokia will in fact narrow its direct sales and marketing efforts to select markets, palming off less significant ones to distributors to be managed through a central hub.
The US, UK, China and “certain” Asian and European nations would remain in focus with more effort placed on carrier partnerships, said Elop.
“We’re deliberately going through a cycle of concentrating on some markets at the expense of others.”
Nokia’s chief financial officer Timo Ihamuotila would not give a timeline for the Lumia to exceed its current market share of roughly 1.5 percent, but said Nokia hoped in the longer term to increase that to 10 percent.
While mapping and navigation have become commoditised, Elop said,  Nokia’s location-based services would give it an edge over rivals, pointing to Nokia City Lens, its augmented reality application, and its public transport mapping system.
Elop blamed Nokia’s inability to differentiate the Nokia experience on Windows Phone to date on its late entry on the platform but added that Windows Phone 8 (Apollo) and Windows 8, both expected to be released by the end of summer or thereabouts, will be “key milestones” for Nokia.