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Qualcomm Unveils Snapdragon 820 With Adreno 530 Graphics For Mobile Devices ( 34

MojoKid writes: Qualcomm held an event in New York City today to demonstrate for the first time its highly anticipated Snapdragon 820 System-on-Chip (SoC). More than just a speed bump and refresh of the Snapdragon 810, Qualcomm says it designed the Snapdragon 820 "from the ground up to be unlike anything else." Behind that marketing spin is indeed an SoC with a custom 64-bit quad-core Kyro processor clocked at up to 2.2GHz. Qualcomm says it delivers up to twice the performance and twice the power efficiency of its predecessor, which is in fact an 8-core chip. Qualcomm officials have quoted 2x the performance of their previous gen Snapdragon 810 in single threaded throughput alone, which is a sizable gain. Efficiency is also being touted here, and according to Qualcomm, the improvements it made to the underlying architecture translate into nearly a third (30 percent) less power consumption. That should help the Snapdragon 820 steer clear of overheating concerns, which is something the 810 wasn't able to do.
The Internet

No Such Thing As 'Unlimited' Data ( 622

An anonymous reader writes: According to an article at Wired, the era of 'unlimited' data services is coming to an end. Carriers don't give them out anymore unless they're hobbled, and they're even increasing the prices of grandfathered plans. Comcast's data caps are spreading, and Time Warner has been testing them for years as well. It's not even just about internet access — Microsoft recently decided to eliminate its unlimited cloud storage plan. The big question now is: were these companies cynical, or just naive? We have no way of evaluating their claims that a small number of users who abused the system caused it to be unprofitable for them. (A recent leaked memo from Comcast suggests it's about extracting more money, rather than network congestion.) But it's certainly true that limited plans make costs and revenue much easier to predict. Another question: were we, as consumers, naive in expecting these plans to last? As the saying goes, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Unlimited data plans clearly won't work too well if everybody uses huge amounts. So did we let ourselves get suckered by clever marketing?

How a Mobile App Firm Found the XcodeGhost In the Machine ( 69

SpacemanukBEJY.53u writes: A Denver-based mobile app development company, Possible Mobile, had a tough time figuring out why Apple recently rejected its app from the App Store. After a lot of head scratching, it eventually found the XcodeGhost malware hidden in an unlikely place — a third-party framework that it had wrapped into its own app. Their experience shows that the efforts of malware writers can have far-ranging effects on the mobile app component supply chain.

Report: Google Wants To Design Its Own Smartphone Chips ( 90

An anonymous reader writes: Google has been stepping up its efforts to build higher quality Android phones, and one thing holding it back is Qualcomm's SoC technology. According to two reports in The Information (paywalled: [1], [2]) Google is now looking for other partners, and may even jump into chip design itself. The company has already done some design work, hoping to co-develop it with a manufacturer. "The new chips are reportedly needed for future Android features that Google hopes to release 'in the next few years.' By designing its own chips, Google can make sure the right amount of horsepower gets assigned to all the right places and remove bottlenecks that would slow down these new features. The report specifically calls out 'virtual and augmented reality' as use cases for the new chips."

Another big area Google wants better hardware for is video processing tech. The article notes, "Qualcomm has a near monopoly on Android SoCs, but it is more marketing driven than performance driven and has been doing a disservice to the mobile space lately. It rushed to get 64-bit support out the door when it was beaten to the punch by Apple, which resulted in the very hot Snapdragon 810 SoC."

Wireless Networking

LA's Smart LED Street Lights Boost Wireless Connectivity ( 75

An anonymous reader writes: Los Angeles will introduce a smart street lighting system, featuring connected LEDs and fully-integrated 4G LTE wireless technology. In a collaboration between Dutch tech firm Philips and Swedish telco Ericsson, the SmartPole project aims to deliver LA citizens public lighting which is energy efficient and improves network performance in urban areas. By the close of this week, a total of 24 SmartPoles will be installed across the Hollywood area. The city plans to place 100 poles over the coming year, with a further 500 to follow.

Google Engineer Warns Against Perils of Buying Cheap, Third-Party USB-C Cables ( 206

MojoKid writes: A USB-C cable is just a cable. Or is it? Google engineer Benson Leung noted today that it's definitely not the case. Leung and his teammates at Google work inside of the Chromebook ecosystem, and as such, they've had lots of hands-on experience with USB-C cables. The Chromebook Pixel remains one of the very few notebooks on the market that directly supports USB-C. Nonetheless, in his experience, not all cables are built alike, and in some cases, cheap out-of-spec cables could potentially cause damage to your device. It's such a big problem, in fact, that Leung began buying cables off of Amazon and leaving his feedback on each one. Ultimately, what the problem boils down to is that some of the specifications in a cable may be not well controlled. He notes that in some bad cables, resistor values are incorrect, throwing off power specs wildly — 3A vs 2A in one example.

Sprint Faces Backlash For Adding MDM Software To Devices ( 123

itwbennett writes: On Wednesday, Sprint customer Johnny Kim discovered an in-store technician adding MDM software to his personal iPhone 6 without prior notice or permission. Kim took to Twitter with his complaint, sparking a heated conversation about privacy and protection. One expert who commented on the issue told CSO's Steve Ragan that 'it's possible Sprint sees the installation of MDM software as an additional security offering, or perhaps as a means to enable phone location services to the consumer.' But, as Ragan points out, 'even if that were true, it's against [Sprint's] written policy and such offerings are offered at the cost of privacy and control over the user's own devices.' (MDM here means "Mobile Device Management.")

First Remote-Access Trojan That Can Target Android, Linux, Mac and Windows 63

An anonymous reader writes: Hackers have put on sale OmniRAT, a remote access trojan that can target Androids, Linux, Mac, and Windows PCs. The tool costs $25-$50, which is only a fraction of $200-$300,the price of DroidJack, another Android RAT. Avast is currently reporting that the RAT was used this summer in Germany, spread to victims via SMS messages. The Softpedia article about OmniRAT includes a video, but declined to post the tool's homepage. You can easily find it via a Google search.

Google Hackers Expose 11 Major Security Flaws In Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge ( 61

MojoKid writes: Going on a bug hunt might not sound like the most exciting thing in the world, but for Project Zero, the name for a team of security analysts tasked by Google with finding zero-day exploits, a good old fashioned bug hunt is both exhilarating and productive. As a result of Project Zero's efforts to root out security flaws in Samsung's Galaxy S6 Edge device (and by association, likely the entire Galaxy S6 line), owners are now more secure. The team gave themselves a week to root out vulnerabilities. To keep everyone sharp, the researchers made a contest out of it, pitting the North American and European participants against each other. Their efforts resulted in the discovery of 11 vulnerabilities, the "most interesting" of which was CVE-2015-7888. It's a directory traversal bug that allows a file to be written as a system. Project Zero said it was trivially exploitable, though it's also one of several that Samsung has since fixed.

Activision Buys Candy Crush Developer For $5.9B ( 132

ForgedArtificer writes: Activision Blizzard purchased Candy Crush Saga developer King Interactive Entertainment last night for a cool $5.9 billion USD; about 20% above market value. The move likely leaves them owning five of the top grossing franchises in the industry. "Candy Crush is one of the most lucrative games in the world, earning some $1.33 billion in revenue in 2014 alone according to a King financial statement. The studio, which operates Candy Crush and a number of similar games including Bubble Witch and Farm Heroes, grossed $529 million in the second quarter of 2015."

FCC Fines Another Large Firm For Blocking WiFi 138

AmiMoJo writes: Another company is learning about the fine points of Section 333 of the Communications Act, which prohibits willful interference with any licensed or authorized radio communications. This time, M.C. Dean, who provided the Baltimore Convention Center's in-house WiFi service, were caught by the FCC sending deauthentication frames to prevent hotspot users maintaining a connection. The complainant alleged that M.C. Dean's actions were identical to those that had earned Marriott a $600,000 fine only weeks earlier.

App To Hold Police Instantly Accountable In Stop and Search ( 167

An anonymous reader writes: A collective of London-based youth clubs and organizations has released an app called Y-Stop to help encourage those involved in unfair police encounters to instantly record and report their experiences. The idea is to 'encourage police accountability' by making it easier for anyone to have a say about what they think may be unjustified or illegal police action. The app allows its user to immediately send audio and video footage of harassment for secure holding with the charities themselves, or with the police directly. It also enables easier communication with lawyers for assistance and advice.

Somebody Just Claimed a $1 Million Bounty For Hacking the iPhone ( 100

citadrianne writes with news that security startup Zerodium has just paid a group of hackers $1 million for finding a remote jailbreak of an iPhone running iOS 9. Vice reports: "Over the weekend, somebody claimed the $1 million bounty set by the new startup Zerodium, according to its founder Chaouki Bekrar, a notorious merchant of unknown, or zero-day, vulnerabilities. The challenge consisted of finding a way to remotely jailbreak a new iPhone or iPad running the latest version of Apple's mobile operating system iOS (in this case iOS 9.1 and 9.2b), allowing the attacker to install any app he or she wants app with full privileges. The initial exploit, according to the terms of the challenge, had to come through Safari, Chrome, or a text or multimedia message. This essentially meant that a participant needed to find a series, or a chain, of unknown zero-day bugs."

Sprint Signs First Direct Roaming Agreement With Cuba ( 17

An anonymous reader writes: Sprint is now the first U.S. wireless carrier to sign a direct roaming agreement with Cuba. Sprint already has a direct long-distance interconnection agreement with the Telecommunications Company of Cuba (ETECSA). "As the commercial relationship between the U.S. and Cuba continues to progress, it is expected that the number of travelers to Cuba will increase exponentially," said Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure. "We want to make sure any Sprint customer traveling to Cuba can use their phone the same way as they do in the United States."

How a Group of Rural Washington Neighbors Created Their Own Internet Service ( 94

An anonymous reader writes with a story that might warm the hearts of anyone just outside the service area of a decent internet provider: Faced with a local ISP that couldn't provide modern broadband, Orcas Island residents designed their own network and built it themselves. The nonprofit Doe Bay Internet Users Association (DBIUA), founded by [friends Chris Brems and Chris Sutton], and a few friends, now provide Internet service to a portion of the island. It's a wireless network with radios installed on trees and houses in the Doe Bay portion of Orcas Island. Those radios get signals from radios on top of a water tower, which in turn receive a signal from a microwave tower across the water in Mount Vernon, Washington.

Report: Google To Fold Chrome OS Into Android ( 104

An anonymous reader writes: According to a report at the Wall Street Journal (paywalled) Google plans to merge its Chrome operating system into Android. Google engineers have already been working on this transition for two years; the company expects to have a functioning preview next year, and a finished product in 2017. "The move is also an attempt by Google to get Android running on as many devices as possible to reach as many people as possible. The operating system runs phones, tablets, watches, TVs and car infotainment systems. Adding laptops could increase Android's user base considerably. That should help Google woo more outside developers who want to write apps once and have them work on as many gadgets as possible, with little modification." This doesn't mean Chrome OS is on its way out. According to public statements from Google execs, it will continue to exist and see active development.

Motorola Unveils Droid Turbo 2, Claims Shatterproof Display, 48 Hour Battery ( 111

MojoKid writes: We've seen leaks and teasers for Motorola's new Droid Turbo 2 Android flagship for weeks. However, the Lenovo-owned company officially announced the smartphone, and it offers two highly sought after features: a long-running battery and a shatterproof display. Its battery has a 3760mAh capacity, allowing the Droid Turbo 2 to operate for up to 48 hours per charge. And if that wasn't enough, Motorola has incorporated Quick Charging support which allows the device to achieve 13 hours of battery life from a mere 15-minute charge. The most talked about feature, however, is its shatterproof display, which Motorola calls Moto ShatterShield. Motorola says that it's "the world's first phone screen guaranteed not to crack or shatter. The display sports a flexible AMOLED panel to absorb shocks, dual touch layers, a rigid aluminum backing, as well as interior and exterior lenses. At the launch event, Motorola was dropping the phone from about 6 feet up, direct to concrete and it was holding up to the abuse just fine.

Carriers Selling Your Data: a $24 Billion Business ( 125

An anonymous reader writes: It goes without saying that cellphone carriers have access to tons of data about their subscribers. They have data about who you call, what sites you visit, and even where you're located. Now: "Under the radar, Verizon, Sprint, and other carriers have partnered with firms including SAP to manage and sell data." The article describes some of the ways this data is used by marketers: "The service also combines data from telcos with other information, telling businesses whether shoppers are checking out competitor prices on their phones or just emailing friends. It can tell them the age ranges and genders of people who visited a store location between 10 a.m. and noon, and link location and demographic data with shoppers' web browsing history. Retailers might use the information to arrange store displays to appeal to certain customer segments at different times of the day, or to help determine where to open new locations." Analysts estimate this fledgling industry to be worth about $24 billion to the carriers, and they project huge growth over the next several years. The carriers are trying to keep it a tightly held secret after seeing the backlash from the public in response to government snooping, which involves much less private data.

Chase and MasterCard Jump Into Mobile Payments ( 56

itwbennett writes: JP Morgan Chase said Monday that it plans to launch its own smartphone payment platform in mid-2016. 'Chase Pay will be based on CurrentC, a retailer-led mobile payment system that has largely been written off by Silicon Valley techies for its reliance on barcodes rather than the more sophisticated NFC (near-field communications) technology adopted by its competitors,' writes Martyn Williams. CurrentC, and therefore Chase Pay, is compatible with a much larger number of smartphones than the rival services from Apple, Google and Samsung. Meanwhile, MasterCard announced a program that aims to turn any type of gadget into a payment device, from car keys to fitness trackers.

The IRS Has Stingray Devices ( 83

An anonymous reader writes: The Guardian reports that the use of stingray technology — devices that simulate cell towers in order to gather phone data — is not limited to intelligence agencies and law enforcement. It turns out the Internal Revenue Service owns some of the devices as well. It's unknown how or why the tax agency uses the stingray devices. The only reason The Guardian figured it out was that they happened to see an IRS invoice from when they paid a company to upgrade one of their devices and provide training on its use. It's thought they're being used when the IRS collaborates with other agencies to knock down money laundering operations. "... there are currently between 2,000 and 3,000 "special agents" in the IRS who form the criminal investigation division (CID). They have the ability to get PEN register orders – the only authority needed to use Stingray devices."