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When it comes to tablets, Google doesn't even follow its own design guidelines." That's the upshot of Ars Technica writer Andew Cunningham's detailed, illustrated look at how Android handles screens much larger than seven inches, going back to the first large Android tablets a few years ago, but including Android 5.0 (Lollipop) on the Nexus 10 and similar sized devices. Cunningham is unimpressed with the use of space for both practical and aesthetic reasons, and says that problems crop up areas that are purely under Google's control, like control panels and default apps, as well as (more understandably) in third party apps. The Nexus 10 took 10-inch tablets back to the "blown-up phone" version of the UI, where buttons and other UI stuff was all put in the center of the screen. This makes using a 10-inch tablet the same as using a 7-inch tablet or a phone, which is good for consistency, but in retrospect it was a big step backward for widescreen tablets. The old interface put everything at the edges of the screen where your thumbs could easily reach them. The new one often requires the pointer finger of one of your hands or some serious thumb-stretching. ... If anything, Lollipop takes another step backward here. You used to be able to swipe down on the left side of the screen to see your notifications and the right side of the screen to see the Quick Settings, and now those two menus have been unified and placed right in the center of the screen. The Nexus 10 is the most comfortable to use if it's lying flat on a table or stand and Lollipop does nothing to help you out there.
jriding (1076733) writes AT&T Mobility, the nation's second-largest cellular provider, says it's no longer attaching hidden Internet tracking codes to data transmitted from its users' smartphones. The practice made it nearly impossible to shield its subscribers' identities online. Would be nice to hear something similar from Verizon.
An anonymous reader writes News suggesting that Microsoft plans to offer Windows 10 upgrades for all its Windows Phone 8 devices broke today. "It's our intention to enable a Windows 10 upgrade for Lumia Windows Phone 8 smartphones," a Microsoft spokesperson told VentureBeat. "At this early stage in the development process, and given the vast portfolio of Windows devices worldwide, we can't predict that all devices will be upgradeable, but it is our intention that the Lumia smartphone line be upgradeable to Windows 10."
Tyketto writes The US Department of Justice has been using fake communications towers installed in airplanes to acquire cellular phone data for tracking down criminals, reports The Wall Street Journal. Using fix-wing Cessnas outfitted with DRT boxes produced by Boeing, the devices mimic cellular towers, fooling cellphones into reporting "unique registration information" to track down "individuals under investigation." The program, used by the U.S. Marshals Service, has been in use since 2007 and deployed around at least five major metropolitan areas, with a flying range that can cover most of the US population. As cellphones are designed to connect to the strongest cell tower signal available, the devices identify themselves as the strongest signal, allowing for the gathering of information on thousands of phones during a single flight. Not even having encryption on one's phone, like found in Apple's iPhone 6, prevents this interception. While the Justice Department would not confirm or deny the existence of such a program, Verizon denies any involvement in this program, and DRT (a subsidiary of Boeing), AT&T, and Sprint have all declined to comment.
szczys writes SatNOGS has won the 2014 Hackaday Prize. The team of developers designed a satellite ground station which can be built with available tools, commodity parts, and modest skills. Data from each station can be shared via a networked protocol to benefit a much wider swath of humanity than one station could otherwise accomplish.
alphadogg writes Three days after security company FireEye warned of an iPhone/iPad threat dubbed "Masque Attack", the U.S. government has issued a warning of its own about this new risk by malicious third-party apps to Apple iOS devices. US-CERT warned: "This attack works by luring users to install an app from a source other than the iOS App Store or their organizations' provisioning system. In order for the attack to succeed, a user must install an untrusted app, such as one delivered through a phishing link." Revelations of Masque came on the heels of a related exploit (that also threatens Macs) called WireLurker.
MojoKid writes Nvidia's Shield Tablet is only a few months old, but Nvidia is already updating the device with a freshly minted OS, a refreshed Shield Hub and access to the company's newly upgraded GRID Game Streaming service. A number of new Tegra K1 optimized games are arriving as well, as well as a new game bundle which includes Half Life 2 Episode 1. The SHIELD Tablet Android Lollipop update will feature Android's new "material design" interface and improved app performance, according to Nvidia. The update will also come preloaded with a new version of Nvidia's own Dabbler drawing and painting app (Dabbler 2.0). In addition to a new interface inspired by Lollipop's design language, Dabbler 2.0 will offer full support for layers and it'll allow users to share their sessions over Twitch. Previously, accessing the Nvidia's GRID beta meant streaming games from a GRID server cluster on the west coast, but Nvidia is expanding the service with server clusters located in Virginia, Europe and Asia. For the best possible user experience, streaming games from the cloud must incur minimal latency, and adding more servers in strategic locations not only affords Nvidia greater capacity, but minimizes latency as well. Nvidia says the GRID service will be available in North America this month, Western Europe in December and Asia sometime next year. The company's GRID service gives gamers access to 20 top titles currently, including Batman Arkham City, Borderlands 2 and Psychonauts, among others, and Nvidia is planning to add new games every week.
wiredmikey writes Researchers have hacked several popular smartphones during the Mobile Pwn2Own 2014 competition that took place alongside the PacSec Applied Security Conference in Tokyo this week. The competition, organized by HP's Zero Day Initiative (ZDI) targeted the Amazon Fire Phone, iPhone 5s, iPad Mini, BlackBerry Z30, Google Nexus 5 and Nexus 7, Nokia Lumia 1520, and Samsung Galaxy S5. Using various attacks, some Mobile Pwn2Own 2014 Pwnage included: Apple's iPhone 5s (hacked via the Safari Web browser, achieving a full sandbox escape); Samsung's Galaxy S5 (hacked multiple times using near-field communications attacks); Amazon's Fire Phone (Web browser exploited); Windows Phone (partial hacks using a browser attack), andthe Nexus 5 (a Wi-Fi attack, which failed to elevate privileges). All the exploits were disclosed privately to the affected companies. HP promised to reveal details in the upcoming weeks.
Nerval's Lobster writes With the debut of Android 5.0 (also known as Lollipop, in keeping with Google's habit of naming each major OS upgrade after a dessert), it's worth taking a moment to break down how the latest version of Google's mobile operating system matches up against Apple's iOS 8. After years of battle, the two are remarkably similar. So while nobody would ever confuse Android and iOS, both Google and Apple seem determined to go "flatter" (and more brightly colored) than ever. Whether or not you agree with their choices, they're the cutting edge of mobile UX design. The perpetual tit-for-tat over features has reached a climax of sorts with Lollipop and iOS 8: both offer their own version of an NFC-powered e-wallet (Apple Pay vs. Google Wallet), a health app (Apple's Health app vs. Google Fit), car-dashboard control (Android Auto vs. CarPlay), and home automation. That's not to say that the operating systems are mirror images of one another, but in terms of aesthetics and functionality, they'll be at near-parity for most users, albeit not for those users who enjoy customizing Android and hate Apple's "walled garden." (Related: Lots of reviews are popping up for Google's new Nexus 6, one of the first phones to come with the newest Android; TechCrunch's is typical, in that reviewer Greg Kumparak has high praise for the Lollipop UI, but found himself nearly dropping the device because of its size and texture.)
MojoKid writes It has been over six years since Intel first unveiled its Atom CPUs and detailed its plans for new, ultra-mobile devices. The company's efforts to break into smartphone and tablet sales, while turning a profit, have largely come to naught. Nonetheless, company CEO Brian Krzanich remains optimistic. Speaking to reporters recently, Krzanich opined that the company's new manufacturing partners like Rockchip and Spreadtrum would convert entirely to Intel architectures within the next few years. Krzanich has argued that with Qualcomm and MediaTek dominating the market, it's going to be tougher and tougher for little guys like Rockchip and Spreadtrum to compete in the same spaces. There's truth to that argument, to be sure, but Intel's ability to offer a competitive alternative is unproven. According to a report from JP Morgan, Intel's cost-per-wafer is currently estimated as equivalent to TSMC's average selling price per wafer — meaning TSMC is making money well below Intel's break-even. Today, Intel is unquestionably capable of building tablet processors that offer a good overall experience but the question of what defines a "good" experience is measured in its similarity to ARM. It's hard to imagine that Intel wants to build market share as an invisible partner, but in order to fundamentally change the way people think about Intel hardware in tablets and smartphones, it needs to go beyond simply being "as good" and break into territory that leaves people asking: "Is the ARM core just as good as the Intel chip?"
KentuckyFC writes During the Chinese New Year earlier this year, some 3.6 billion people traveled across China making it the largest seasonal migration on Earth. These kinds of mass movements have always been hard to study in detail. But the Chinese web services company Baidu has managed it using a mapping app that tracked the location of 200 million smartphone users during the New Year period. The latest analysis of this data shows just how vast this mass migration is. For example, over 2 million people left the Guandong province of China and returned just a few days later--that's equivalent to the entire population of Chicago upping sticks. The work shows how easy it is to track the movement of large numbers of people with current technology--assuming they are willing to allow their data to be used in this way.
jfruh writes In-flight Wi-Fi services tend to be expensive and disappointingly slow. So when AT&T announced a few months ago that it was planning on getting into the business, with customer airlines being able to connect to AT&T's LTE network instead of slow satellite services, the industry shook. But now AT&T has announced that, upon further review, they're not going to bother.
MojoKid writes When Phonebloks visionary Dave Hakkens began evangelizing the idea of a modular phone with interchangeable components, many scoffed at the idea saying it couldn't be done or wasn't commercially feasible, that is until Google stepped up and backed a team of engineers for Project Ara. Ultimately, Project Ara's proof of concept efforts bore fruit and the vision is quickly becoming reality, now with apparently new competitors entering the fray. A start-up company by the name of Vsenn has come out of cover to disclose its intention to start a "smartphone evolution" and it also turns out that company has been co-founded by a former Nokia Android X Program Manager. The company also makes some lofty promises and has set big goals, noting not only modular hardware design but "guaranteed updates, maximum security and customizable looks." From encryption to secure VPN cloud services and back covers that are easily changed out, Vsenn seems to be targeting not only "Phonebloks-style" modularity and customizations like Project Ara but also some of the secure device and communication hot buttons that both Apple and Google have been acting on as of late with iOS and Android Lollipop.
dkatana writes: NXP, having worked with Apple on Apple Pay, is now launching its PN66T module for secure NFC mobile transactions — for Android. It's intended to implement the same functionality of Apple Pay. While NXP claims the module is OS independent, the features clearly indicate that Android devices are the likely recipients of the SoC. The PN66T is Europay, MasterCard, and Visa (EMVCo) certified, and also supports American Express ExpressPay, thus fully covering the three big credit card companies, ensuring compatibility and interoperability with existing and future payment methods.
angry tapir writes A security researcher has developed a tool to demonstrate how the unauthenticated data packets in the 802.11 wireless LAN protocol can be used as a covert channel to control malware on an infected computer. From the article: "The protocol relies on clients and access points exchanging informational data packets before they authenticate or associate with each other, and this traffic is not typically monitored by network security devices. Tom Neaves, a managing consultant at Trustwave, developed a proof-of-concept tool called Smuggler that leverages these packets, known as wireless management frames, to communicate with malware."