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Android

Samsung May Release an 18" Tablet 177

A report at PC Magazine says that Samsung may soon field a tablet to satisfy people not content with the 7", 9", 12", or even slightly larger tablets that are today's normal stock in trade. Instead, the company is reported to be working on an 18.4" tablet aimed at "living rooms, offices, and schools." There's a lot of couching going on, but it sounds like an interesting idea: It's said to run Android 5.1 Lollipop and be powered by an octa-core 64-bit 1.6GHz Exynos 7580 processor. Other rumored specs include 2GB of RAM, 32GB of internal storage, a microSD card slot with support for cards up to 128GB, and a large 5,700 mAh battery. The device also has an 8-megapixel main camera (and you thought people looked silly taking photos with their iPads) and 2.1-megapixel "secondary camera."
Android

Google Relaxes Handset Makers' Requirements for "Must-Include" Android Apps 80

According to The Verge, anyone who buys a new Android phone may benefit from an interesting change in their phone's default apps: namely, fewer pieces of included bloatware. However, the affected apps might not be the ones that a user concerned with bloatware might care most about (like carrier-specific apps), but are rather some of the standard Google-provided ones (Google+, Google Play Games, Google Play Books and Google Newsstand). These apps will still be available at the Google Play Store, just not required for a handset maker to get Google's blessing. (Also at ZDNet.)
Advertising

Why Google Wants To Sell You a Wi-Fi Router 198

lpress writes: Last quarter, Google made $16 billion on advertising and $1.7 billion on "other sales." I don't know how "other sales" breaks down, but a chunk of that is hardware devices like the Pixel Chromebook, Chromecast, Next thermostat, Nexus phone and, now, WiFi routers. Does the world need another $200 home router? Why would Google bother? I can think of a couple of strategic reasons — they hope it will become a home-automation hub (competing with the Amazon Echo) and it will enable them to dynamically configure and upgrade your home or small office network for improved performance (hence more ads).
Cellphones

Mobile Phone Data Can Track the Spread of Infectious Diseases 21

jan_jes writes: Researchers have used anonymous mobile phone records for more than 15 million people to track the spread of rubella disease in Kenya and were able to quantitatively show that mobile phone data can predict seasonal disease patterns. The researchers compared the cellphone analysis with a highly detailed dataset on rubella incidence in Kenya. They matched; the cellphone movement patterns lined up with the rubella incidence figures. In both of their analyses, rubella spiked three times a year. This showed the researchers that cellphone movement can be a predictor of infectious-disease spread.
Iphone

Apple Launches Free iPhone 6 Plus Camera Replacement Program 68

Mark Wilson writes: Complaints about the camera of the iPhone 6 Plus have been plentiful, and Apple has finally acknowledged that there is a problem. It's not something that affects all iPhone 6 Plus owners, but the company says that phones manufactured between September 2014 and January 2015 could include a failed camera component. Apple has set up a replacement program which enables those with problems with the rear camera to obtain a replacement. Before you get too excited, it is just replacement camera components that are on offer, not replacement iPhones. You'll need to check to see if your phone is eligible at the program website. (Also at TechCrunch.)
Portables

Yet Another Compromising Preinstalled "Glitch" In Lenovo Laptops 89

New submitter execthis writes: Japanese broadcaster NHK is reporting that yet another privacy/security-compromising "glitch" has been found to exist in preinstalled software on Lenovo laptops. The article states that the glitch was found in Spring and that in late July Lenovo began releasing a program to uninstall the difficult-to-remove software. The article does not specify, but it could be referring to a BIOS utility called Lenovo Service Engine (LSE) for which Lenovo has released a security advisory with links to removal tools for various models.
Displays

A New Take on Wearable Devices 29

minstrelmike writes: A company called Polyera is working on a wrist-worn device with a flexible, fabric-like screen that uses e-Ink technology and can go days without recharging. "Right now we design electronic devices that are built on rigid little bricks, so our devices end up looking like rigid little bricks. We wanted to make a fundamental technology that would completely open up the design capabilities. Now we're playing with materials that are more warm, and integrating electronics with materials that are more like leather than they are metal or glass." Their device is touch-sensitive and has much more usable screen space than most wrist-borne devices, which comes at the cost of being lower-resolution and grayscale.
Google

Google Targets Low-Cost Android One Phone At African Markets 43

jfruh writes: In order to meet its goal of bringing Android to five billion users, Google needs to get smartphones into the hands of people in the developing world. The company's Android One program aims to do just that. Already active in India, the program is now bringing an $88 smartphone to West Africa. “The software on Android One devices automatically updates to the latest version of Android and will get the Android M release after release. The goal is to provide a consistent and uncompromising smartphone experience, for everyone,” Google VP of product management, Caesar Sengupta, said.
Desktops (Apple)

Could the Best Windows 10 Laptop Be a Mac? 434

dkatana writes: Now that Windows 10 is finally out there many people are looking for the best laptop with the power to make the new OS shine. The sweet spot appears to be in $900-$1500 machines from Dell, Asus and HP. But Apple, the company that has been fighting Windows for ever, has other options for Windows 10: the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air. According to InformationWeek there are many reasons to consider purchasing a MacBook as the next Windows machine, including design, reliability, performance, battery life, display quality and better keyboard. Also MacBooks have a higher resell value, retaining up to 50% of their price after five years.
Businesses

Sprint Drops Two-Year Contracts 112

An anonymous reader writes: Following the recent news that Verizon has ended smartphone subsidies, now Sprint has announced it is ending two-year contracts as well. This leaves AT&T as the last of the major carriers to offer such a plan. Most consumers will now have to get used to paying full price for their phones, though Sprint is also running a phone-leasing plan that lets people pay an additional $22/month for an 16GB iPhone, with yearly upgrades.
Communications

FCC Fines Smart City $750K For Blocking Wi-Fi 188

schwit1 writes: FCC's Enforcement Bureau today announced a $750,000 settlement with Smart City Holdings, LLC for blocking consumers' Wi-Fi at various convention centers around the United States. Smart City, an Internet and telecommunications provider for conventions, meeting centers, and hotels, had been blocking personal mobile 'hotspots' that were being used by convention visitors and exhibitors who used their own data plans rather than paying Smart City substantial fees to use the company's Wi-Fi service.
Wireless Networking

The Promise of 5G 158

An anonymous reader writes: From instant monitoring of leaking pipelines, to real-time worldwide collaboration, the increase in machine-to-machine communications that 5G allows will change the way we live. This TechCrunch article takes a look at the promise that 5G holds and its possibilities. From the article: "By 2030, 5G will transform and create many uses that we cannot even think of yet. We will live in a world that will have 10-100 times more Internet-connected devices than there are humans. Hundreds of billions of machines will be sensing, processing and transmitting data without direct human control and intervention."
Cellphones

The Realities of a $50 Smartphone 141

An anonymous reader writes: Google recently reiterated their commitment to the goal of a $50 smartphone in India, and a new article breaks down exactly what that means for the phone's hardware. A budget display will eat up about about $8 of that budget — it's actually somewhat amazing that so little money can still buy a 4-4.5" panel running at 854x480. For another $10, you can get a cheap SoC — something in the range of 1.3Ghz and quad-core, complete with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and GPS radios. A gigabyte of RAM and 4 gigabytes of storage can be had for another $10 or so. Throw in a $2.10, 1,600 mAh battery and a $5 camera unit, and you've got most of a phone. That leaves about $9 to play with for basic stuff like a casing, and then packaging/marketing costs (some of which could be given freely, like the design work.) Profit margins will be nonexistent, but that's less of an issue for Google, who simply wants to spread the reach of Android.
Communications

New Rules From the FCC Open Up New Access To Wi-Fi 64

CarlottaHapsburg writes: White space — unused channels in the VHF and UHF spectrum — is already part of daily life, from old telephones to going online at your coffee shop or plugging in baby monitors. The time has come to 'permit unlicensed fixed and personal/portable white space devices and unlicensed wireless microphones to use channels in the 600 MHz and television broadcast bands,' according to the FCC. One of the ramifications is that Wi-Fi could now blanket urban areas, as well as bringing it to rural areas and machine-to-machine technology. Rice University has tested a super Wi-Fi network linked by next-generation TV or smart remotes. Carriers are sure to be unhappy about this, but consumers will have the benefit of a newly open web.
Displays

Motorola Quickly Shows Next Moto 360 Smartwatch, 'Flat Tire' Display Lives On 44

MojoKid writes: Will they or won't they continue on with the 'flat tire' display? That's been the big question surrounding Motorola's next generation Moto 360 smartwatch. Today, we finally learn the answer to the question, and unfortunately, it looks as though Motorola still hasn't seen clear to incorporate a completely circular display like LG, Huawei and now Samsung into a smartwatch. In an incredibly short video posted to Motorola's official Twitter account (the tweet has since been taken down), we see a fleeting glimpse of the next generation Moto 360. There is still a cutout at the bottom of the display, which houses an ambient light sensor in the current generation Moto 360. Keen eyes will also spot that the side button has been moved from the 3 o'clock position to the 2 o'clock position and that the integrated lug system for the watch bands has been abandoned in favor of an external lug system typical of most modern wristwatches.