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Encryption

BlackPhone, In Wake of Gemalto Fallout, Receives $50 Million In Funding 50

Posted by timothy
from the small-steps dept.
An anonymous reader writes The BlackPhone, a $600-plus encrypted Android handset designed to keep the prying eyes of criminals and the government out of mobile communications, is now fully owned by Silent Circle thanks to the company raking in investment cash. Terms of the buyout deal with Spanish smartphone maker Geeksphone, the phone's hardware manufacturer, were not disclosed. Silent Circle said Thursday that it has raised $50 million and plans on showing off an encrypted 'enterprise privacy ecosystem' at World Mobile Congress next week. A BlackPhone tablet is on the way, too.
Android

Who's Afraid of Android Fragmentation? 135

Posted by Soulskill
from the aside-from-actual-androids dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes: The dreaded term "fragmentation" has been applied to Android more times than anyone can count over the past half-decade. That's part of the reason why game developers often build for iOS before Android, even though Android offers a bigger potential customer base worldwide, and more types of gaming experiences. Fortunately, new sets of tools allow game developers to build for one platform and port their work (fairly) easily to another. "We've done simultaneously because it is such a simple case of swapping out the textures and also hooking up different APIs for scores and achievements," London-based indie developer Tom Vian told Dice. "I've heard that iOS is a better platform to launch on first, but there's no sense for us in waiting when we can spend half a day and get it up and running." So is fragmentation an overhyped roadblock, or is it a genuine problem for developers who work in mobile?
Cellphones

Apple Will Let Users Test iOS Beta Versions For the First Time 54

Posted by timothy
from the go-ahead-take-a-bite dept.
9to5 Mac reports that In an effort to eliminate bugs from upcoming iOS versions ahead of their general releases, Apple plans to launch the first-ever public beta program for the iOS operating system, according to multiple people briefed on the plans. Following the successful launch of the OS X Public Beta program with OS X Yosemite last year, Apple intends to release the upcoming iOS 8.3 as a public beta via the company’s existing AppleSeed program in mid-March, according to the sources. The article goes on to say Like the early iOS 8 developers builds, the public betas will include a dedicated app that allows users to report bugs to Apple. The main goal of the iOS beta program will be a more reliable and widely tested operating system by the time of the wider consumer launch, as Apple has come under fire for lack of quality control in iOS 8. Launching public beta versions of iOS will also reduce the demand for unauthorized sales of beta downloads from developer accounts, which enabled some consumers to test-drive future iOS features.
Media

Watch Videos in Synch with Fellow iOS Users (Video) 71

Posted by Roblimo
from the let's-all-sing-together-now dept.
This video is about Dr. Saeed Darvish-Kazem and Dr. Michael Pazaratz, two MDs from Canada, who came up with a free iOS app called WeMesh that lets you share video content with iOS-owning friends in real time. You see the video and so does your friend. more or less simultaneously. Cat videos and 90s music are two categories the doctors say are especially popular on WeMesh, which only works with YouTube at the moment, a shortcoming they hope to change in the near future. NOTE: If you're on the Slashdot main page and click the 'Read' link below this paragraph, the video will autoplay.
Cellphones

Starting This Week, Wireless Carriers Must Unlock Your Phone 100

Posted by timothy
from the better-than-employees-must-wash-hands dept.
HughPickens.com writes Andrew Moore-Crispin reports that beginning today, as result of an agreement major wireless carriers made with FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler in late 2013, wireless carriers in the US must unlock your phone as soon as a contract term is fulfilled if asked to do so unless a phone is connected in some way to an account that owes the carrier money. Carriers must also post unlocking policies on their websites (here are links for AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile), provide notice to customers when their devices are eligible for unlocking, respond to unlock requests within two business days, and unlock devices for deployed military personnel. So why unlock your phone? Unlocking a phone allows it to be used on any compatible network, regardless of carrier which could result in significant savings. Or you could go with an MVNO, stay on the same network, and pay much less for the same cellular service.
Cellphones

Study: Smartphones Just As Good As Fitness Trackers For Counting Steps 128

Posted by samzenpus
from the stepping-it-up dept.
jfruh writes While dedicated fitness trackers that you wear around your wrist have any number of functions, many people are focused on a single metric: counting steps, which serves as a proxy for determining how active you are. But a recent study from the University of Pennsylvania showed that if that's mainly what you want out of a fitness tracker, then you almost certainly have a device in your pocket that can do the same thing as well if not better: your smartphone.
Businesses

Alibaba Bets $590 Million On Becoming Smartphone Player 50

Posted by samzenpus
from the piece-of-the-pie dept.
An anonymous reader was one of many to note that Alibaba has bought a $590 million minority stake in Chinese smartphone manufacturer Meizu. "China's Alibaba Group Holding Ltd is taking a $590 million stake in an obscure domestic smartphone maker as the e-commerce giant tests ways to expand its mobile operating system in a shrinking, cut-throat handset market. Extending a previously muted push into hardware, Alibaba said on Monday it will buy an unspecified minority stake in smartphone maker Meizu Technology Co. Dwarfed by rivals like Xiaomi Inc, privately owned Meizu's slice of China's smartphone market is estimated by analysts at below 2 percent. The deal, unlike U.S. rival Amazon.com Inc's foray into smartphones with its own-brand Fire Phone, is designed to help Alibaba push its mobile operating system within China through Meizu's handsets. In return, Zhuhai, Guangdong-based Meizu will get access to Alibaba's e-commerce sales channels and other resources, the companies said in a joint statement."
Operating Systems

The First Ubuntu Phone Is Here, With Underwhelming Hardware 177

Posted by timothy
from the early-days-yet dept.
A few days ago, Fast Company reviewer Jay Cassano was enthusiastic about Ubuntu's approach to apps for its new phone OS: namely, not relying on them, and instead interfacing seamlessly with existing websites and protocols. Now, new submitter ablutions (4006541) writes with a less than glowing review at The Daily Dot of the actual hardware that the OS is launching on. A sample that conveys the gist: Let's start with the good stuff: It sports a 4.5-inch multi-touch screen and a respectable 8-megapixel rear camera and 5-megapixel lens on the front. That's pretty much it. The list of negatives is a bit longer.
Handhelds

Dell Venue 8 7000, "World's Thinnest Tablet" With Intel Moorefield Atom Reviewed 120

Posted by timothy
from the straight-outta-round-rock dept.
MojoKid (1002251) writes "Dell recently launched their Android-based Venue 8 7000 slate, claiming it's the "world's thinnest" tablet. It measures a mere 6 millimeters thick, or 0.24 inches and change. That's 0.1mm slimmer than Apple's iPad Air 2 and 1.5mm flatter than the iPad mini 3, giving Dell full bragging rights, even if by a hair. Dell also opted for an Intel Atom Z3580 processor under the hood, clocked at up to 2.3GHz. This quad-core part is built on Intel's 22nm Moorefield microarchitecture. Compared to its Bay Trail predecessor, Moorefield comes in a smaller package with superior thermal attributes, as well as better graphics performance, courtesy of its PowerVR G6430 graphics core. The Venue 8 7000 also features one of the best 8-inch OLED displays on the market, with edge-to-edge glass and a 2560x1600 resolution. Finally, the Venue 8 7000 is also the first to integrate Intel's RealSense Snapshot Depth Camera, which offers interesting re-focusing and stereoscopic effects, with potentially other, more interesting use cases down the road. Performance-wise, the Venue 8 7000 is solid enough though not a speedster, putting out metrics in the benchmarks that place it in the middle of the pack of premium tablets on the market currently."
Verizon

Verizon Dropping Data Rates, But Current Customers Have To Call 136

Posted by timothy
from the oh-you-mean-you-didn't-like-getting-slammed? dept.
New submitter executioner writes with this news from Consumerist: In spite of Verizon Wireless' recent boasts that it's 'a leader, not a follower,' a new announcement from the nation's biggest wireless company shows that Big V is indeed following the competition down the path of charging customers less for their data plans. However, current Verizon subscribers will need to let the company know they want to save money (or get more data). It's a little confusing, so stick with us for a moment. Verizon MORE Everything customers who currently have monthly data allotments of 1GB, 2GB, 3GB, or 4GB will have an option on how they want to save.They can either get more data for their money by getting 1GB of additional data per month for no extra charge OR they can have their bill reduced by $10/month.So someone with a 2GB plan is currently paying $50/month. If they take the free data option, that goes to 3GB for the same price. Or they can elect to stick with the 2GB and their data bill drops to $40/month.
Cellphones

What Happened To the Photography Industry In 2014? 422

Posted by timothy
from the it-got-even-more-nervous dept.
Iddo Genuth writes 2013 was the worst year for the photography industry in decades — but what happened in 2014 and will the upcoming blitz of cameras (including the super resolution Canon 5D S with 50MP sensor to be announced tomorrow) change everything in 2015? The official numbers published by CIPA (the Camera & Imaging Products Association) are out and they tell a story of a struggling photography industry trying to stay afloat in a sea of smartphones. Will it survive? This is the big question all of the photography manufacturers are facing over the past two years, and eventually what does it all mean for us as consumers? One thing that tiny phones lack, no matter their megapixel count, is the space for heavy glass or large sensors, which seems to leave a lot of room in the market even for small(ish) but dedicated cameras.
Handhelds

The iPad Is 5 Years Old This Week, But You Still Don't Need One 307

Posted by Soulskill
from the interactive-chopping-boards dept.
HughPickens.com writes: Five years ago, Steve Jobs introduced the iPad and insisted that it would do many things better than either a laptop or a smartphone. Will Oremus writes at Future Tense that by most standards, the iPad has been a success, and the tablet has indeed emerged as a third category of computing device. But there's another way of looking at the iPad. According to Oremus, Jobs was right to leave out the productivity features and go big on the simple tactile pleasure of holding the Internet in your hands.

But for all its popularity and appeal, the iPad never has quite cleared the bar Jobs set for it, which was to be "far better" at some key tasks than a laptop or a smartphone. The iPad may have been "far better" when it was first released, but smartphones have come a long way. The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus and their Android equivalents are now convenient enough for most mobile computing tasks that there's no need to carry around a tablet as well. That helps explain why iPad sales have plateaued, rather than continuing to ascend to the stratospheric levels of the iPhone. "The iPad remains an impressive machine. But it also remains a luxury item rather than a necessity," concludes Oremus. "Again, by most standards, it is a major success. Just not by the high standards that Jobs himself set for it five years ago."
Google

Google Explains Why WebView Vulnerability Will Go Unpatched On Android 4.3 579

Posted by samzenpus
from the no-patch-for-you dept.
MojoKid writes If you're running Android 4.3 or earlier, you're pretty much out of luck when it comes to a baked-in defense against a WebView vulnerability that was discovered earlier this month by security analyst Tod Beardsley. The vulnerability leaves millions of users open to attack from hackers that choose to exploit the security hole. WebView is a core component of the Android operating system that renders web pages. The good news is that the version of WebView included in Android 4.4 KitKat and Android 5.0 Lollipop is based on Chromium and is not affected by the vulnerability. The bad news is that those running Android 4.3 and earlier are wide open, which means that 60 percent of Android users (or nearly one billion customers) are affected. What's most interesting is that Google has no trouble tossing grenades at the feet of Microsoft and Apple courtesy of its Project Zero program, but doesn't seem to have the resources to fix a vulnerability that affects a substantial portion of the Android user base.
Communications

For New Yorkers, Cablevision Introduces a Wi-Fi-Centric VoiP Network 43

Posted by timothy
from the they'll-take-manhattan dept.
The New York Times reports that Cablevision Systems plans to announce on Monday the start of a low-cost mobile phone service that will use Wi-Fi for connectivity rather than standard cellular networks, the first such service to be introduced by a cable operator. Called Freewheel, the service will offer unlimited data, talking and texting worldwide for $29.95 a month, or $9.95 a month for Cablevision’s Optimum Online customers — a steep discount compared with standard offerings from traditional cellular carriers. Freewheel customers initially must use a specific Motorola Moto G smartphone, which is being sold for $99.95. The service goes on sale next month, and no annual contract is required. (Reuters carries a similar story.)
Windows

Surface RT Devices Won't Get Windows 10 158

Posted by Soulskill
from the take-that-early-adopters dept.
whoever57 writes: In its announcement of Windows 10, Microsoft indicated not all devices would get the updated operating system. Now, Microsoft says its Surface devices running Windows RT won't be receiving full updates, though it does plan to roll some new functionality into them. "Given that Windows RT and RT 8.1 were designed for power economizing devices sporting 32-bit ARM architecture, and never had the same functionality — to many users' frustration — as full-blown Windows 8 and 8.1, it comes as little surprise that the RT versions of the operating system should be left out of the latest update loop. In fact, a week before Microsoft's big Windows 10 reveal on January 21, the company released firmware updates for all three models of its Intel-powered Surface Pro series, but neither of the ARM-based Surface tablets — the Surface 2 or Surface RT — received any new updates this month." The Surface Pro line of tablets, which run a normal version of Windows, will be getting an update to Windows 10.
Cellphones

Moscow To Track Cell-phone Users In 2015 For Traffic Analysis 63

Posted by timothy
from the why-do-you-hate-freedom? dept.
An anonymous reader links to this story at The Stack (based on this translated report) that "The Moscow authorities will begin using the signal from Muscovites' cell-phones in 2015 to research patterns of traffic and points of congestion, with a view to changes in travel infrastructure including roads, the Moscow metro and bus services. The tracking, which appears to opt all users in unilaterally, promises not to identify individual cell-phone numbers, and will use GSM in most cases, but also GPS in more densely-constructed areas of the old city. The system is already in limited use on the roads, but will be extended to pedestrians and subway users in 2015. The city of 11.5 million people has three main cell providers, all of whom cooperate fully with authorities' request for information. A representative of one, Beeline, said: "We prepare reports that detail where our subscribers work, live, move, and other aspects."
Advertising

Micromax Remotely Installing Unwanted Apps and Showing Ads 50

Posted by timothy
from the what-will-you-tolerate dept.
jones_supa (887896) writes "Reports are coming in that users of certain devices by Indian phone manufacturer Micromax noticed apps being silently installed without their consent or permission. Uninstalling these apps won't help, as they will be automatically reinstalled. Alternatively, instead of downloading apps, the phone might litter the UI with stack of notifications which are advertisements for online stores and other apps. It turns out that the "System Update" application is responsible for all of this. When starting to tear down the application (which is actually called FWUpgrade.apk on the filesystem), the first thing you notice is that it's a third-party application. A Chinese company named Adups developed it as a replacement for the stock Google OTA service. The article shows the potential abilities of this app and how Micromax customers can work around the disruptive behavior."
Sony

Sony Thinks You'll Pay $1200 For a Digital Walkman 391

Posted by Soulskill
from the good-luck-with-that dept.
An anonymous reader writes: The Walkman is one of the most recognizable pieces of technology from the 1980s. Unfortunately for Sony, it didn't survive the switch to digital, and they discontinued it in 2010. Last year, they quietly reintroduced the Walkman brand as a "high-resolution audio player," supporting lossless codecs and better audio-related hardware. At $300, it seemed a bit pricey. But now, at the Consumer Electronics Show, Sony has loudly introduced its high-end digital Walkman, and somehow decided to price it at an astronomical $1,200.

What will all that money get you? 128GB of onboard storage and a microSD slot to go with it. There's a large touchscreen, and the device runs Android — but it uses version 4.2 Jelly Bean, which came out in 2012. It also supports Bluetooth and NFC. Sony claims the device has 33 hours of battery life when playing FLAC files, and 60 hours when playing MP3s. They appear to be targeting audiophiles — their press release includes phrasing about how pedestrian MP3 encoding will "compromise the purity of the original signal."
Handhelds

Is the Tablet Market In Outright Collapse? Data Suggests Yes 328

Posted by timothy
from the then-give-me-a-cheap-nexus-9 dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes Is the tablet market rapidly collapsing? Mobile-analytics firm Flurry doesn't come to quite that stark a conclusion, but things aren't looking too good for touch-screens that don't qualify as "phablets." According to Flurry's numbers, full-sized tablets accounted for only 11 percent of new devices in 2014, a decline from 2013, when that form-factor totaled 17 percent of the new-device market; small tablets experienced a smaller decline, falling from 12 percent to 11 percent of new devices between 2013 and 2014. (Meanwhile, phablets expanded from 4 percent of new devices in 2013 to 13 percent this year.) Boy Genius Report, for its part, looked at those numbers and decided that the tablet market is doomed: "Consumers happy with compact smartphones are not switching to larger iPhones for now, but former tablet buyers are." That's not to say people will stop using tablets, but the onetime theory that they would one day cannibalize all PCs looks increasingly nebulous.
Android

Nokia's Back In the Tablet Business, With the Android Lollipop-Based N1 60

Posted by timothy
from the serious-side-talkin' dept.
Esra Erimez writes It's been a little over a year since the announcement of Microsoft Corp.'s acquisition of Finnish tech veteran Nokia Oyj.'s Devices unit. A year later Chinese leaks site SINA Tech says Nokia is back and ready to compete against its former unit, suggesting it will launch in China on Jan. 7. As one commenter on the Daily Tech story points out (as does this ExtremeTech article from last month), the not-yet-launched N1, with its "one piece aluminum body, 7.9", 2048*1536, [and] 3:4 aspect ratio" looks an awful lot like the iPad mini, but costs quite a bit less.