An anonymous reader writes: The U.S. Department of Justice has launched a major review of how law enforcement around the country uses cellphone tracking technology, and they will also begin sharing more information about how it works. So-called "Stingray" devices have been in the news a lot recently, as privacy activists try to piece together how they're used. Police and federal agencies have been notably resistant to sharing how they use this tool, even after we learned that they often don't bother with warrants and may have been drastically overusing it. Still, they're not going to reveal everything about the Stingrays: "Officials said they don't want to reveal so much that it gives criminals clues about how to defeat the devices. Law-enforcement officials also don't want to reveal information that would give new ammunition to defense lawyers in prosecutions where warrants weren't used, according to officials involved in the discussions."
eldavojohn writes: The staggering ingenuity of the U.S. Patent system has again been showcased by the EFF's analysis of recent patents. This week's patent and follow-up patent cover the futuristic innovative idea that when you order something, you can update your order and add additional amounts to your order while it's being processed. But wait, it gets even more innovative! You may one day be able to even to notify when you would like it delivered — on your phone! I know, you're busy wiping all that brain matter off your screen as your head seems to have exploded. Well, it turns out that inventor and patent holder Scott Horstemeyer (aka Eclipse IP, LLC of Delray Beach, FL) found no shortage of targets to go after with his new patents. It appears Tiger Fitness (and every other online retailer) was sending notices to customers about shipments. Did I mention Horstemeyer is a lawyer too? But not just a regular lawyer, a "SUPER lawyer" from the same firm that patented social networking in 2007, sued Uber for using location finding technologies in 2013 and sued Overstock.com as well as a small time shoe seller for using shipping notifications in 2014. A related article at Vox makes this case: "The primary problem with the patent system is, well, the patent system. The system makes it too easy to get broad, vague patents, and the litigation process is tilted too far toward plaintiffs. But because so many big companies make so much money off of this system, few in Congress are willing to consider broader reforms."
itwbennett writes: An initiative between Apple, IBM and Japan Post Holdings could put iPads in the hands of up to 5 million members of Japan's elderly population. The iPads, which will run custom apps from IBM, will supplement Japan Post's Watch Over service where, for a monthly fee, postal employees check on elderly residents and relay information on their well-being to family members.
MojoKid writes: LG officially lifted the veil on its new G4 flagship Android phone this week and the buzz has been fairly strong. LG's display prowess is well known, along with their ability to pack a ton of screen real estate into a smaller frame with very little bezel, as they did with the previous generation G3. However, what's under the hood of the new LG G4 is probably just as interesting as the build quality and display, for some. On board the LG G4 is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 808, the six-core little brother of the powerful and power-hungry Snapdragon 810 that's found in HTC's One M9. The One M9 is currently one of the fastest Android handsets out there, but its battery life suffers as a result. So with a six-core Snapdragon and a slightly tamer Adreno 418 graphics engine on board, but also with 3GB of RAM, it's interesting to see where the G4 lands performance-wise. It's basically somewhere between the HTC One M9 (Snapdragon 810) and the Snapdragon 805 in the Nexus 6 in CPU bound workloads, besting even the iPhone 6, but much more middle of the pack in terms of graphics and gaming.
An anonymous reader writes with this interesting news from Microsoft. After months of rumors, Microsoft is revealing its plans to get mobile apps on Windows 10 today. While the company has been investigating emulating Android apps, it has settled on a different solution, or set of solutions, that will allow developers to bring their existing code to Windows 10. iOS and Android developers will be able to port their apps and games directly to Windows universal apps, and Microsoft is enabling this with two new software development kits. On the Android side, Microsoft is enabling developers to use Java and C++ code on Windows 10, and for iOS developers they'll be able to take advantage of their existing Objective C code. 'We want to enable developers to leverage their current code and current skills to start building those Windows applications in the Store, and to be able to extend those applications,' explained Microsoft's Terry Myerson during an interview with The Verge this morning.
infolation writes: American Airlines was forced to delay multiple flights on Tuesday night after the iPad app used by pilots crashed. Introduced in 2013, the cockpit iPads are used as an "electronic flight bag," replacing 16kg (35lb) of paper manuals which pilots are typically required to carry on flights. In some cases, the flights had to return to the gate to access Wi-Fi to fix the issue.
jones_supa writes: SOHO routers from manufacturers including at least Trendnet and D-Link allow attackers anywhere in the world to execute malicious code on the devices, according to a security advisory issued over the weekend. The remote command-injection vulnerability resides in the "miniigd SOAP service" as implemented by the RealTek SDK. Before someone asks, there is no comprehensive list of manufacturers or models that are affected. Nerds may be able to spot them by using the Metasploit framework to query their router. If the response contains "RealTek/v1.3" or similar, the device is likely vulnerable. For now, the vulnerable routers should be restricted to communicate only with trusted devices. HP's Zero Day Initiative reported the bug confidentially to RealTek in August 2013, but the issue was disclosed 20 months later as no fix has been provided.
According to Wikipedia, 'Project Ara is the codename for an initiative that aims to develop an open hardware platform for creating highly modular smartphones.' Google is the sponsor, and the project seems to be moving faster than some people expect it to. There's a Project Ara website, of course, a GitHub repository, a Facebook page, even an Ara subreddit. During his conversation with Timothy Lord, Ara firmware project lead (and spokesman) Marti Bolivar said it won't be long before prototype Ara modular phones start user testing. Meanwhile, if you want to see what Marti and his coworkers have been up to lately, besides this interview, you can read a transcription of his talk (including slides) from the January Project Ara Developers Conference in Singapore.
An anonymous reader writes: Chinese internet and media giant Tencent Holdings has today launched an operating system for mobile devices such as internet-connected phones, TVs, smartwatches and other IoT products. Tencent Operating System (OS) TOS+ is open to all developers and manufacturers free of charge should they agree to share their revenue – a framework similar to Google's popular Android mobile OS. The new Tencent OS offering, which provides voice recognition and mobile payment systems, will rival other home-grown operating systems looking to conquer the smart hardware arena with connected wearables, TVs and smart homeware technology. These competitors include smartphone maker Xiaomi and Asia's largest internet company Alibaba, who hopes to see its recently launched Yun OS eventually installed on tens of millions of smartphones. The Chinese systems for mobile and hardware products provide an alternative to Google's services, which constantly face challenges across the country due to strict censorship and licensing laws.
itwbennett writes: E-commerce giant Alibaba Group hasn't given up on its YunOS mobile operating system, and is taking the software to China's rural markets through a series of low-cost phones, which will be built by lesser-known Chinese brands and will range from 299 yuan ($49) to 699 yuan. Slashdot readers may remember that in 2012, Google claimed it was a variant of its Android OS, sparking a clash that threatened to derail Alibaba's effort to popularize the mobile OS.
itwbennett writes: The tools available to developers who need to build an application once and deploy everywhere have exploded. Frameworks like famo.us, Ionic, PhoneGap, Sencha Touch, Appcelerator, Xamarin, and others are reducing the grunt work and improving the overall quality of web based mobile applications dramatically. The benefits of a build once, deploy everywhere platform are pretty obvious, but are they enough to make up for the hits to user experience?
An anonymous reader writes: Google's 7-inch tablet has disappeared from the Google Store, where a note in red type simply states that the device is no longer available for purchase. "The Nexus 7 was first released back in 2013, so it's fair to say it had a good run. The Android-based tablet received great reviews, but what really made it a long-term success was the fact that it was affordable and continually received updates from Google. Manufactured by Asus, the Nexus 7 was even treated to Android Lollipop, the latest version of the operating system, although not with bug-free results. The discontinuation shouldn't come as a big surprise, however, as Google pulled a similar move back in March with the Nexus 5 smartphone, not to mention the Nexus 9 tablet's release last fall."
janimal writes: The iPhone used to be the smartphone that "just works." Ever since the 4S days, this has been true less and less with each generation. My wife's iPhone 6 needs to be restarted several times per week for things like internet search or making calls to work. An older 5S I'm using also doesn't consistently stream to Apple TV, doesn't display song names correctly on Apple TV and third party peripherals. In short, as features increase, the iPhone's stability is decreasing. In your opinion, which smartphone brand these days is taking up the slack and delivering a fully featured smartphone that "just works"?
New submitter jan_jes writes: Recent mobile phones integrate fingerprint scanners to authenticate users biometrically and replace passwords, making authentication more convenient. Researchers at Yahoo Labs have created a new technology called "Bodyprint," which turns your smartphone's touchscreen display into a biometric scanner. It allows the touch sensor to scan users' body parts (PDF) such as ears, fingers, fists, and palms by pressing them against the display. Bodyprint implements the four-eye principle for locking sensitive documents — accessing the document can require the presence of two or more people involved with the project. Another application is authenticating a user to answer a call by scanning their ear pressed against the phone.
smaxp writes: Contrary to reports, Google didn't become a mobile carrier with the introduction of Google Fi. Google Fi was launched to prove that a network-of-networks serves smartphone users better than a single mobile carrier's network. Patents related to Google Fi, filed in early 2007, explain Google's vision – smartphones negotiate for and connect to the fastest network available. The patent and Google Fi share a common notion that the smartphone should connect to the fastest network available, not a single carrier's network that may not provide the best performance. It breaks the exclusive relationship between a smartphone and a single carrier. Meanwhile, a story at BostInno points out that Google's not the only one with a network-hopping hybrid approach to phone calls.
New submitter BronsCon writes: A recently disclosed flaw in iOS 8 dubbed "No iOS Zone" allows an attacker to create a WiFi hot spot that will cause iOS devices to become unstable, crash, and reboot, even when in offline mode. Adi Sharabani and Yair Amit of Skycure are working with Apple for a fix; but, for now, the only workaround is to simply not be in range of such a malicious network.
An anonymous reader writes: Traffic-alert app Waze has announced a partnership with Los Angeles to share information on hit-and-runs and kidnappings taking place across the city, alongside traffic data and road closure updates. The deal forms part of a data-sharing agreement between L.A. authorities and the Google-owned tech startup detailed yesterday by the city's mayor Eric Garcetti. He assured that the data provided to the city by Waze would be "aggregated" and completely anonymous. According to the councillor the collaboration was mutually confirmed on Monday following a "very good meeting" between Waze and LAPD chief officer Charlie Beck. This move signals a considerable turn of events after Beck argued at the end of last year that the traffic alert app posed a danger to police due to its ability to track their location. The complaint followed the shooting of two police officers in New York after the shooter used the app to track his targets.
Freshly Exhumed writes: Wellness advocate Belle Gibson, who translated her high profile as a cancer survivor into publishing success, has admitted her cancer diagnosis was not real. Ms Gibson, 23, who claimed to have healed terminal brain cancer by eating wholefoods, made the admission in an interview with the Australian Women's Weekly. The success of Gibson's book, The Whole Pantry, and her smartphone application, which advocates natural therapies, has been largely dependent on her high-profile as a cancer survivor. Sadly, we've seen this sort of behaviour before. It would seem that Belle Gibson has emulated Dr. Andrew Wakefield in knowingly decieving the public in ways that could possibly be dangerous to the health of believers.
Mark Wilson writes: When you receive a call you'll usually see the number of the caller, but this may not be helpful in identifying them before you decide whether to pick up. Facebook's answer to this problem is Hello. This new app comes from the Facebook Messenger team and aims to tell you more about the person getting in touch with you even if you don't have their number saved in your address book. Currently available for Android, the dialer app also allows for the blocking of calls from individuals.
An anonymous reader writes: Google unveiled today a new cell phone service called Project Fi. It offers the same basic functionality as traditional wireless carriers, such as voice, text and Internet access, but at a lower price than most common plans. From the article: "Google hopes to stand out by changing the way it charges customers. Typically, smartphone owners pay wireless carriers like AT&T and Verizon a bulk rate for a certain amount of data. Google says it will let customers pay for only what data they use on their phones, from doing things like making calls, listening to music and using apps, potentially saving them significant amounts of money. For now, the program is invite-only and will only be available on Google's Nexus 6 smartphone."