Encryption

Federal Bill Could Override State-Level Encryption Bans (thestack.com) 137

An anonymous reader writes: A new bill has been proposed in Congress today by Representatives Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) and Blake Farenthold (R-Tex.) which looks to put a stop to any pending state-level legislation that could result in misguided encryption measures. The Ensuring National Constitutional Rights of Your Private Telecommunications Act of 2016 comes as a response to state-level encryption bills which have already been proposed in New York state and California. These near-identical proposals argued in favour of banning the sale of smartphones sold in the U.S. that feature strong encryption and cannot be accessed by the manufacturer. If these bills are passed, current smartphones, including iPhone and Android models, would need to be significantly redesigned for sale in these two states. Now Lieu and Farenthold are making moves to prevent the passing of the bills because of their potential impact on trade [PDF] and the competitiveness of American firms.
Advertising

Adblock Fast Returns To Google Play a Week After Being Pulled 53

An anonymous reader writes: A week ago, Google suddenly removed Adblock Fast from its Android app store. Today, the ad blocker has been reinstated, enabling Samsung users to download it once again from Google Play. Late last month, the browser preinstalled on Samsung's Android phones gained support for content-blocking plugins, and the first plugin to support the functionality was a free and open-source solution called Adblock Fast. Rocketship Apps, the maker of Adblock Fast, uploaded the Android plugin on January 29, but Google rejected an app update on February 1. The app hit Google Play's top spot for free, new productivity apps on February 2, and was pulled by Google on the same day.
Social Networks

Instagram Launches Account Switching On iOS and Android (google.com) 29

Today, Instagram announced that users will be able to switch between up to five different accounts when using the app on iOS and Android. This new feature will be available later this week, when users download version 7.15 of the app. According to a blog post from the company, "Go to your profile settings to add an additional account. From there, tap your username at the top of your profile to switch between accounts. Once you have multiple accounts added, you'll see your profile photo appear in places throughout the app so you can always tell which one you're using at the moment."
Mars

NASA Is Building a Virtual Mars For VR Viewing (unrealengine.com) 37

An anonymous reader writes: NASA will release a free virtual reality program this year that will simulate exploring the surface of Mars. "Players will be able to walk on the Red Planet as well as drive the Mars Rover..." reads the official announcement at UnrealEngine.com. The Mars 2030 Experience will be available on Oculus Rift, Google Cardboard, and Samsung Gear VR, and will also "expand" to Sony PlayStation VR and HTC Vive, with additional versions for Android and iOS devices, and it will even be streamed on Twitch. NASA plans to reveal more details at this year's South by Southwest conference in March.
Android

Report: Google Will Go In Big For VR Hardware This Year 51

The Financial Times reports that Google isn't going to let the VR hardware wars fall to the likes of Samsung and Oculus; instead, it's working on a (cardboard-free) VR headset of its own, to be released in conjunction with Android VR software intended not only to make Android more VR friendly in general but specifically to help developers reduce nausea-inducing lag. The report doesn't quite come out of the blue, considering that Google has shipped more than 5 million of its own Cardboard viewer already, and has several projects dealing with VR infrastructure, either directly (like Jump) or indrectly (like Project Tango). Google (or Alphabet) has proven itself a hardware behemoth, not just the "search giant" it's so often called in news stories, and of late seems to be more interested in making its footprint in hardware a bit firmer.
Advertising

Samsung's AdBlock Fast Removed From the Play Store (androidheadlines.com) 167

New submitter Alexander Maxham writes with the news reported at Android Headlines that Samsung's ad-blocking Android app called AdBlock Fast "was apparently ousted from the Play Store for violating section 4.4 of the Developer Distribution Agreement, stating that an app cannot disrupt or interfere with devices, networks or other parties' apps and services. (Also noted by Engadget.)
Ubuntu

Canonical Reveals the BQ Aquaris M10 Ubuntu Tablet (omgubuntu.co.uk) 98

LichtSpektren writes: Several tech sites have now broke the news that Canonical has revealed their BQ Aquaris M10 Ubuntu Tablet. Joey-Elijah Sneddon builds the hype: "A stunning 10.1-inch IPS touch display powered a full HD 1920×1200 pixel resolution at 240 ppi. Inside is a 64-bit MediaTek MT8163A 1.5GHz quad-core processor, 2GB of RAM, and 16GB of internal memory. A micro SD memory card is included, adding storage expansion of up to 64GB. Furthermore, the converged slate includes an 8-megapixel rear camera with autofocus and dual LED flash (and capable of recording in full 1080p), plus a front facing 3-megapixel camera for video chats, vlogs and selfies. Front facing Dolby Atmos speakers will provide a superior sound experience during movie playback. The M10 measure 246mm x 171mm x 8.2mm, weighs just 470 grams — lighter than the Apple iPad Air — and has a 7280 mAh battery to give up to 10 hours of use. ... Tablet mode offers a side stage for running two apps side-by-side, plus a full range of legacy desktop applications, mobile apps and scopes. LibreOffice, Mozilla Firefox, The GIMP and Gedit are among a 'curated collection of legacy apps' to ship pre-installed on the tablet. It will also be possible for developers and enthusiasts to install virtually any ARM compatible app available on Ubuntu using the familiar 'apt-get' command." A photo gallery can also be seen on his website here. The price is not yet announced, but the Android version of the same tablet is currently on sale for €229.
Microsoft

Microsoft To Acquire SwiftKey Predictive Keyboard Technology Company For $250M (hothardware.com) 118

MojoKid writes: SwiftKey has been one of the more popular predictive keyboard offerings in the mobile space since it was first released in beta form on the Android market back in 2010. What made SwiftKey so appealing was its intelligent predictive texting technology. SwiftKey isn't a simple keyboard replacement. Rather, the software uses a combination of artificial intelligence technologies that give it the ability to learn usage patterns and predict the next word the user most likely intends to type. SwiftKey refines its predictions, learning over time by analyzing data from SMS, Facebook, and Twitter messages, then offering predictions based on the text being entered at the time. It is estimated that SwiftKey is installed on upwards of 500 million mobile devices. According to reports, Microsoft is apparently buying the UK-based company for a cool $250 Million. What Microsoft intends to do with SwiftKey is not clear just yet, but the company has been purchasing mobile apps at a good clip as of late.
Data Storage

Barracuda Copy Shutting Down (barracuda.com) 52

New submitter assaf07 writes: I received a notification [Monday] that Barracuda's excellent online storage option Copy will be shuttting down in May. A blog post by Rod Matthews, VP of Storage at Barracuda gives the usual business doublespeak excuse. Having used Google's Drive, Box, Dropbox, and Spideroak, I am very disappointed to lose Copy as its native Linux, Android, IOS, and Windows clients are/were wonderful.
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?"

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.
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."

Facebook

Facebook Introduces Emojis, Live Video (thestack.com) 70

An anonymous reader writes: Facebook has announced that it would roll out a new live video tool called Live, available immediately for US iPhone users, and expanding to the rest of the world and Android users over the next few weeks. It is also expanding the 'Like' button to a range of emojis called 'Reactions'. The 'Live' video service has had a limited testing group since December, according to Product Manager Vadim Lavrusik. Starting today, Facebook users can access the service through the existing Update Status tool, and can control the audience for the video before uploading. Facebook also announced that it will roll out an expansion of the 'Like' button to a range of emojis called 'Reactions'.The 'Like' function will now include emojis for Love, Sad, Angry, Happy and Wow. The emoji for 'Yay' was discarded after testing.
Android

Android Ransomware Threatens To Share Your Browsing History With Your Friends (symantec.com) 160

An anonymous reader writes: The newly discovered Lockdroid ransomware is unique in two ways. First it uses perfectly overlaid popups to trick users into giving it admin privileges. This trick works on devices running Android versions prior to 5.0 (Lollipop), which means 67% of all Android smartphones. Secondly, after it encrypts files and asks for a ransom, it also steals the user's browsing history and contacts list, and blackmails the user to pay the ransom, or his browsing history will be forwarded to his contacts.
Firefox

Firefox 44 Arrives With Push Notifications (mozilla.org) 182

An anonymous reader writes: Mozilla today launched Firefox 44 for Windows, Mac, Linux, and Android. Notable additions to the browser include push notifications, the removal of RC4 encryption, and new powerful developer tools. Mozilla made three promises for push notifications: "1. To prevent cross-site correlations, every website receives a different, anonymous Web Push identifier for your browser. 2. To thwart eavesdropping, payloads are encrypted to a public / private keypair held only by your browser. 3. Firefox only connects to the Push Service if you have an active Web Push subscription. This could be to a website, or to a browser feature like Firefox Hello or Firefox Sync." Here are the full changelogs: Desktop and Android.
The Internet

Spotify To Launch New Video Product This Week (thestack.com) 9

An anonymous reader writes: After first announcing the introduction of a video streaming service in May last year, Spotify is finally launching the feature this week. The Swedish company has taken its time tinkering with the new product and beta testing it on groups for months, readying it for its widespread rollout. Not all of the video content will be music-related – keeping the product's potential wide open to different verticals. Spotify has already confirmed partnerships with the BBC, Vice Media, Maker Studios, ESPN, and Comedy Central, among other popular brands. Initially, the video service will only be available in the mobile version of the Spotify app for consumers in the U.S., the UK, Germany and Sweden. It will roll out on Android first, before arriving on iOS a week later. It is also expected to be an ad-free feature at launch, but it is doubtful that it will remain like this for long.
Google

Google Paid $1 Billion To Keep Search On iPhone (bloomberg.com) 77

phantomfive writes: As the Google v. Oracle copyright case drags on, Oracle is claiming that Android has generated $31 billion in revenue for Google, $22 billion of which was profit. Court records also show Google paid Apple $1 billion USD to keep their search bar on the iPhone. A revenue sharing agreement was in place as well. At one point, Apple got 34% of the revenue generated by Google searches on iPhones. Both companies later requested that the information be redacted from the record, but once something is released on the internet, it tends to stay there.
Google

Google Fixes Zero-Day Kernel Flaw, Says Effect on Android Not Really That Bad (csoonline.com) 132

itwbennett writes: Google has developed a patch for Android in response to a flaw in the Linux kernel and has shared it with device manufacturers. That doesn't mean the patch will hit users' phones right away, though. It might take weeks. But that's ok, says Google, because most Android devices are unlikely to run vulnerable kernel versions, and those that do are protected by SELinux.
Facebook

Facebook's Android App Gains Privacy-Enhancing Tor Support (facebook.com) 43

Mark Wilson writes: Back towards the end of 2014, Facebook unveiled a new .onion address that allowed Tor users to visit the social network securely. Following on from this, the company is now giving Android users the ability to browse the site using Tor and the Facebook app. Security, privacy and anonymity may be words readily associated with Tor, but few people would use them in the same sentence as Facebook. The social network says that there is increased demand for secure connections to Facebook from Tor-enabled browsers, hence spreading to the largest mobile platform. The news will make some mobile users happy, but there are currently no plans to migrate the feature from Android to iOS.

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