Google

Google To Take 'Apple-Like' Control Over Nexus Phones (droid-life.com) 180

Soulskill writes: According to a (paywalled) report in The Information, Google CEO Sundar Pichai wants the company to take greater control over development of their Nexus smartphones. When producing Nexus phones, Google has always partnered with manufacturers, like Samsung, LG, and HTC, who actually built the devices. Rather than creating a true revenue stream, Google's main goal has been to provide a reference for what Android can be like without interference from carriers and manufacturers. (For example, many users are frustrated by Samsung's TouchWiz skin, as well as the bloatware resulting from deals with carriers.

But now, Google appears to want more control. The report indicates Google wants to do a better job of competing throughout the market. They want to compete with Apple on the high end, but also seem concerned that manufacturers haven't put enough effort into quality budget phones. The article at Droid-Life argues, "We all know that Nexus phones will never be household items until Google puts some marketing dollars behind them. Will a top-to-bottom approach finally push them to do that?"

Privacy

Ask Slashdot: How Do I Reduce Information Leakage From My Personal Devices? 261

Mattcelt writes: I find that using an ad-blocking hosts file has been one of the most effective way to secure my devices against malware for the past few years. But the sheer number of constantly-shifting server DNs to block means I couldn't possibly manage such a list on my own. And finding out today that Microsoft is, once again, bollocks at privacy (no surprise there) made me think I need to add a new strategic purpose to my hosts solution — specifically, preventing my devices from 'phoning home'. Knowing that my very Operating Systems are working against me in this regard incenses me, and I want more control over who collects my data and how. Does anyone here know of a place that maintains a list of the servers to block if I don't want Google/Apple/Microsoft to receive information about my usage and habits? It likely needs to be documented so certain services can be enabled or disabled on an as-needed basis, but as a starting point, I'll gladly take a raw list for now.
Cellphones

Exploitable Backhole Accidentally Left In Some MediaTek-based Phones (ndtv.com) 79

Lirodon writes: MediaTek has confirmed findings by security researcher Justin Case, who discovered that some devices running Android KitKat on MediaTek processors (often used in lower-cost devices) had a debug function, meant to be removed on production devices, accidentally left in by their manufacturer. This hole could be used to trivially gain root access, among other possibilities.
Android

LG G3 'Snap' Vulnerability Leaves Owners At Risk of Data Theft (betanews.com) 39

Mark Wilson writes: Security researchers have discovered a vulnerability in LG G3 smartphones which could be exploited to run arbitrary JavaScript to steal data. The issue has been named Snap, and was discovered by Israeli security firms BugSec and Cynet. What is particularly concerning about Snap is that it affects the Smart Notice which is installed on all LG G3s by default. By embedding malicious script in a contact, it is possible to use WebView to run server side code via JavaScript. If exploited, the vulnerability could be used to gather information from SD cards, steal data from the likes of WhatsApp, and steal private photos.
Cellphones

Apple Developing Wireless Charging For Mobile Devices (thestack.com) 133

An anonymous reader writes: Apple is currently working with partners in the US and Asia to develop wireless charging for iPhone and iPad. Mobile devices with wireless charging capabilities could be released as soon as next year. Apple has not released the specific details on the range that could be available, but as far back as 2010, Apple applied for a patent to use an iMac as a wireless charging hub for distances of 1 meter. In 2014 it applied for a patent on specialized housing for a mobile device with an integrated RF antenna, which would also allow for wireless charging by helping to eliminate the problem of metallic interference with charging signals. Apple would apparently be building on these ideas to create a new iPhone or iPad that could charge further away from the hub, while continuing to be used.
Portables

Asus ZenBook UX305CA Shows What Skylake Core M Is Capable Of (hothardware.com) 158

MojoKid writes: ASUS recently revamped their ZenBook UX305 family of ultralight notebooks with Intel's 6th generation Skylake Core m series, which brings with it not only improved graphics performance but also native support for PCI Express NVMe M.2 Solid State Drives. The platform is turning out to be fairly strong for this category of notebooks and the low cost ZenBook ($699 as tested) is a good example of what a Skylake Core M is capable of in a balanced configuration. Tested here, the machine is configured with a 256GB M.2 SSD, 8GB of RAM and a 2.2GHz Core m3-6Y30 dual-core CPU. Along with a 13.3-inch 1080p FHD display and 802.11ac wireless connectivity, the ZenBook UX305 is setup nicely and it puts up solid performance numbers in both standard compute tasks and graphics. It also offers some of the best battery life numbers in an ultralight yet, lasting over 10 hours on a charge in real world connected web testing.
Cellphones

ACLU Sues Anaheim Police For Public Records On Cell Phone Surveillance (scpr.org) 29

New submitter Lacey Waymire writes: The ACLU of Northern California is suing for a release of public records regarding Anaheim police's use of cell phone surveillance devices. "We don't think any surveillance devices, particularly these sorts of invasive cell phone surveillance devices, should ever be acquired or used without intense public debate and the adoption of safeguards to ensure they are only used in ways that follow our Constitution and laws," attorney Matt Cagle said. (See this Boing Boing posting with a bit more on "the happiest surveillance state on earth.")
Cellphones

WhatsApp Will Get Indicators To Highlight Encrypted Chats (softpedia.com) 27

An anonymous reader writes: WhatsApp 3.0 will come with two privacy-related changes. The first is in the Security section and is in the form of a new setting called "Show security indicators." Turning on this setting will add a lock icon to your WhatsApp whenever you're having encrypted conversations. The second new setting is in the Account section, with the addition of a new option that says "Share my account info." This setting will send the user's WhatsApp data to Facebook servers "to improve [their] Facebook experiences."
IOS

iOS App Update Technique Puts Users At Risk (csoonline.com) 67

itwbennett writes: An increasing number of iOS application developers use a technique that allows them to remotely modify the code in their apps without going through Apple's normal review process, potentially opening the door to abuse and security risks for users. An implementation of this technique, which is a variation of hot patching, comes from an open-source project called JSPatch. After adding the JSPatch engine to their application, developers can configure the app to always load JavaScript code from a remote server they control. This code is then interpreted by the JSPatch engine and converted into Objective-C. 'JSPatch is a boon to iOS developers,' security researchers from FireEye said in a blog post. 'In the right hands, it can be used to quickly and effectively deploy patches and code updates. But in a non-utopian world like ours, we need to assume that bad actors will leverage this technology for unintended purposes.'
The Internet

T-Mobile's Binge On Violates Net Neutrality, Says Stanford Report (tmonews.com) 217

An anonymous reader writes: The debate over whether or not Binge On violates Net Neutrality has been raging ever since the service was announced in November. The latest party to weigh in is Barbara van Schewick, law professor at Stanford University.

In a new report published today — and filed to the FCC, as well — van Schewick says that Binge on "violates key net neutrality principles" and "is likely to violate the FCC's general conduct rule." She goes on to make several arguments against Binge On, saying that services in Binge On distorts competition because they're zero-rated and because video creators are more likely to use those providers for their content, as the zero-rated content is more attractive to consumers.

Communications

Jailbreak Turns Cheap Walkie-Talkie Into DMR Police Scanner 82

An anonymous reader writes: Last Shmoocon, famous reverse engineer Travis Goodspeed presented his jailbreak of the Chinese MD380 digital handheld radio. The hack has since been published at GitHub with all needed source code to turn a cheap digital radio into the first hardware scanner for DMR digital mobile radio: a firmware patch for promiscuous mode that puts all talk groups through the speaker including private calling. In the U.S. the competing APCO-25 is a suite of standards for digital radio communications for federal users, but a lot of state/county and local public safety organizations including city police dispatch channels are using the Mototrbo MotorolaDMR digital standard.
Windows

Microsoft's Windows Phone Platform Is Dead (windows10update.com) 456

Ammalgam writes: Tom Warren at the Verge today gave voice to what a lot of other technology analysts and today definitively declared that Microsoft's Windows Phone platform is dead. This largely based on the abysmal adoption numbers released in Microsoft's most recent earnings report. Mr. Warren articulates the obvious by stating: "With Lumia sales on the decline and Microsoft's plan to not produce a large amount of handsets, it's clear we're witnessing the end of Windows Phone. Rumors suggest Microsoft is developing a Surface Phone, but it has to make it to the market first. Windows Phone has long been in decline and its app situation is only getting worse. With a lack of hardware, lack of sales, and less than 2 percent market share, it's time to call it: Windows Phone is dead. "

Now this news should not be surprising to anyone who has watched the slow decline of Windows Phone. Last December, in an article on Windows10update.com, Onuora Amobi also wrote off the platform. In this case, his analysis was based on the nonconformity of the Microsoft user interface to Apple and Android's widely adopted aesthetic appeal. He wrote "I believe Windows Phone is dead. Kaput. Finished. Over. Done. ... Windows 10 is successful in part because it's a return to Windows 7 in many ways and that's what made the consumers happy. One of the definitions of insanity is "doing the same thing over and over again but expecting a different result". This is exactly what Microsoft is doing and it's insane. Over 90% of Microsoft's desired audience like the look and feel of iPhones and Android devices. They do – it's not good or bad – it just is what it is. They spend their money on those two user interfaces."

Google

Google Testing Project Loon: Concerns Are Without Factual Basis (thestack.com) 80

An anonymous reader writes: In a filing submitted to the FCC, Google has stated that while concerns for health and environmental risks posed by Project Loon testing were 'genuinely held,' 'there is no factual basis for them.' Google's filing attempts to address a wide range of complaints, from environmental concerns related to increased exposure to RF and microwave radiation, to concerns for loss of control and crashes of the balloons themselves. First, it states that its proposed testing poses no health or environmental risks, and is all well within the standards of experimentation that the FCC regularly approves. It also pledges to avoid interference with any other users of the proposed bandwidth, by collocating transmitters on shared platforms and sharing information kept current daily by an FCC-approved third party database manager.
Communications

1 In 3 Home Routers Will Be Used As Public Wi-Fi Hotspots By 2017 172

An anonymous reader writes: Juniper Research predicts that at least 1 in 3 home routers will be used as public Wi-Fi hotspots by 2017, and that the total installed base of such dual-use routers will reach 366 million globally by the end of 2020. Major broadband operators such as BT, UPC and Virgin Media in Europe and several of the biggest cable TV operators in the U.S. such as Comcast and Cablevision have adopted the homespot model as a low-cost way of rapidly expanding their domestic Wi-Fi coverage.
Bug

Search Suggestions Causing Apple's Safari Browser To Crash on Many Devices (theverge.com) 83

An anonymous reader writes: According to the Verge (and my wife) Apple Safari browsers are crashing left, right, and center due to Safari's search suggestions feature. "Simply disabling this feature will stop Safari crashing, or using the private mode option in the browser as a temporary workaround. Not everyone is affected, and this could be because some have the search suggestions cached locally or they're still able to reach Apple's servers thanks to a DNS cache."

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