Android

Google Can't Ignore the Android Update Problem Any Longer 377

Posted by Soulskill
from the i-bet-they-can dept.
An anonymous reader writes: An editorial at Tom's Hardware makes the case that Google's Android fragmentation problem has gotten too big to ignore any longer. Android 5.0 Lollipop and its successor 5.1 have seen very low adoption rates — 9.0% and 0.7% respectively. Almost 40% of users are still on KitKat. 6% lag far behind on Gingerbread and Froyo. The article points out that even Microsoft is now making efforts to both streamline Windows upgrades and adapt Android (and iOS) apps to run on Windows.

If Google doesn't adapt, "it risks having users (slowly but surely) switch to more secure platforms that do give them updates in a timely manner. And if users want those platforms, OEMs will have no choice but to switch to them too, leaving Google with less and less Android adoption." The author also says OEMs and carriers can no longer be trusted to handle operating system updates, because they've proven themselves quite incapable of doing so in a reasonable manner.
Portables

Ask Slashdot: Most Chromebook-Like Unofficial ChromeOS Experience? 91

Posted by Soulskill
from the get-your-company-to-pay-for-it-wink-wink dept.
An anonymous reader writes: I am interested in Chromebooks, for the reasons that Google successfully pushes them: my carry-around laptops serve mostly as terminals, rather than CPU-heavy workhorses, and for the most part the whole reason I'm on my computer is to do something that requires a network connection anyhow. My email is Gmail, and without particularly endorsing any one element, I've moved a lot of things to online services like DropBox. (Some offline capabilities are nice, but since actual Chromebooks have been slowly gaining offline stuff, and theoretically will gain a lot more of that, soon, I no longer worry much about a machine being "useless" if the upstream connection happens to be broken or absent. It would just be useless in the same way my conventional desktop machine would be.) I have some decent but not high-end laptops (Core i3, 2GB-4GB of RAM) that I'd enjoy repurposing as Chromebooks without pedigree: they'd fall somewhat short of the high-end Pixel, but at no out-of-pocket expense for me unless I spring for some cheap SSDs, which I might.

So: how would you go about making a Chromebook-like laptop? Yes, I could just install any Linux distro, and then restrain myself from installing most apps other than a browser and a few utilities, but that's not quite the same; ChromeOS is nicely polished, and very pared down; it also seems to do well with low-memory systems (lots of the current models have just 2GB, which brings many Linux distros to a disk-swapping crawl), and starts up nicely quick.

It looks like the most "authentic" thing would be to dive into building Chromium OS (which looks like a fun hobby), but I'd like to find something more like Cr OS — only Cr OS hasn't been updated in quite a while. Perhaps some other browser-centric pared-down Linux would work as well. How would you build a system? And should I go ahead and order some low-end 16GB SSDs, which I now see from online vendors for less than $25?
Privacy

Researchers Detect Android Apps That Connect to User Tracking and Ad Sites 72

Posted by samzenpus
from the don't-track-me-bro dept.
An anonymous reader writes: A group of European researchers has developed software that tracks the URLs to which cellphone apps connect. After downloading 2,000+ free apps from Google Play, they indexed all the sites those apps connected to, and compared them to a list of known advertising and user tracking sites. "In total, the apps connect to a mind-boggling 250,000 different URLs across almost 2,000 top level domains. And while most attempt to connect to just a handful of ad and tracking sites, some are much more prolific. Vigneri and co give as an example "Music Volume Eq," an app designed to control volume, a task that does not require a connection to any external urls. And yet the app makes many connections. 'We find the app Music Volume EQ connects to almost 2,000 distinct URLs,' they say. [Another major offender] is an app called Eurosport Player which connects to 810 different user tracking sites." The researchers plan to publish their software for users to try out on Google Play soon.
Windows

Android and iOS App Porting Will Not Be Available At Windows 10 Launch 51

Posted by timothy
from the all-things-in-time dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Arguably the biggest news out of Microsoft's Build 2015 conference was that developers will be able to bring Web apps, Windows desktop apps (Win32), as well as Android and iOS mobile apps to the Windows Store. Yet each of these work differently, and there are a lot of nuances, so we talked to Todd Brix, general manager of Windows apps and store, to get some more detail. First and foremost, upon Windows 10's launch, developers will only be able to bring Web apps to the Windows Store. The Win32, Android, and iOS app toolkits will not be ready in time. That said, with Microsoft's Windows as a service strategy, they will arrive as part of later updates
Android

LG G4 and Qualcomm's Snapdragon 808 Benchmarked 45

Posted by samzenpus
from the looking-at-the-numbers dept.
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.
IOS

Windows 10 Can Run Reworked Android and iOS Apps 223

Posted by samzenpus
from the welcome-to-the-party dept.
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.
Android

Crowdfunded Android Console Ouya Reportedly Seeking Buyout 123

Posted by Soulskill
from the internet-doesn't-want-what-it-says-it-wants dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Ouya, the Android-based games console, enjoyed one of the most successful crowdfunding campaigns to date, raising $8.6 million after asking for only $960,000. But now that the console has been on the market for a while, the company is struggling. After borrowing roughly $25 million from investors to keep it going, they're now trying to restructure the debt, and reportedly seeking a buyout. "Interest in Ouya's microconsole has dropped considerably since its launch back in 2013, where it had to offer store credit to dissatisfied Kickstarter backers for failing to deliver devices on time. Following disappointing sales figures for early games, the company has tried several times to turn its fortunes around."
Encryption

Why Crypto Backdoors Wouldn't Work 105

Posted by Soulskill
from the because-math dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Your devices should come with a government backdoor. That's according to the heads of the FBI, NSA, and DHS. There are many objections, especially that backdoors add massive security risks.

Would backdoors even be effective, though? In a new writeup, a prominent Stanford security researcher argues that crypto backdoors "will not work." Walking step-by-step through a hypothetical backdoored Android, he argues that "in order to make secure apps just slightly more difficult for criminals to obtain, and just slightly less worthwhile for developers, the government would have to go to extraordinary lengths. In an arms race between cryptographic backdoors and secure apps, the United States would inevitably lose."
China

China's Tencent Launches Smart Hardware OS To Rival Alibaba 22

Posted by timothy
from the diversity-in-approach dept.
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.
China

Alibaba Looks To Rural China To Popularize Its Mobile OS 20

Posted by samzenpus
from the taking-it-to-the-country dept.
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.
Education

Imagination To Release Open MIPS Design To Academia 63

Posted by samzenpus
from the some-strings-attached dept.
DeviceGuru writes: Imagination Technologies has developed a Linux-ready academic version of its 32-bit MIPS architecture MicroAptiv processor design, and is giving it away free to universities for use in computer research and education. As the MIPSfpga name suggests, the production-quality RTL (register transfer level) design abstraction is intended to run on industry standard FPGAs. Although MIPSfpga is available as a fully visible RTL design, MIPSfpga is not fully open source, according to the announcement from Robert Owen, Manager of Imagination's University Programme. Academic users can use and modify MIPSfpga as they wish, but cannot build it into silicon. "If you modify it, you must talk to us first if you wish to patent the changes," writes Owen.
Google

Google Officially Discontinues Nexus 7 Tablet 160

Posted by samzenpus
from the end-of-the-road dept.
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."
Patents

Microsoft Increases Android Patent Licensing Reach 103

Posted by Soulskill
from the if-you-can't-beat-'em,-bleed-'em dept.
BrianFagioli writes: Microsoft may not be winning in the mobile arena, but they're still making tons of money from those who are. Patent licensing agreements net the company billions each year from device makers like Samsung, Foxconn, and ZTE. Now, Microsoft has added another company to that list: Qisda Corp. They make a number of Android and Chrome-based devices under the Qisda brand and the BenQ brand, and now Microsoft will be making money off those, too.
Cloud

Amazon's Profits Are Floating On a Cloud (Computing) 83

Posted by Soulskill
from the they're-hoping-the-weather-holds dept.
HughPickens.com writes: The NY Times reports that Amazon unveiled the financial performance of its powerful growth engine for the first time on Thursday, and the numbers looked good, energized primarily by renting processing power to start-ups and, increasingly, established businesses. Amazon said in its first-quarter earnings report that its cloud division, Amazon Web Services, had revenue of $1.57 billion during the first three months of the year. Even though the company often reports losses, the cloud business is generating substantial profits. The company said its operating income from AWS was $265 million.

Amazon helped popularize the field starting in 2006 and largely had commercial cloud computing to itself for years, an enormous advantage in an industry where rivals usually watch one another closely. At the moment, there is no contest: Amazon is dominant and might even be extending its lead. Microsoft ranks a distant No. 2 in cloud computing but hopes to pick up the slack with infrastructure-related services it sells through Azure, the name of its cloud service. Amazon executives have said they expect AWS to eventually rival the company's other businesses in size. The cloud business has been growing at about 40 percent a year, more than twice the rate of the overall company and many Wall Street analysts have been hoping for a spinoff.

As for Google, the cloud was barely mentioned in Google's earnings call. Nor did the search giant offer any cloud numbers, making it impossible to gauge how well it is doing. But the enthusiasm of Eric Schmidt, Google's executive chairman, was manifest when he spoke at an event for cloud software developers this week. "The entire world will be defined by smartphones, Android or Apple, a very fast network, and cloud computing," said Schmidt. "The space is very large, very vast, and no one is covering all of it."
GUI

Qt Creator 3.4.0 Released 20

Posted by timothy
from the well-that's-cute dept.
jones_supa writes: Qt Creator 3.4.0 has been released with many new features. Qt Creator is a C/C++ IDE with specialized tools for developing Qt applications, and it works great for general-purpose projects as well. The new version comes with a C++ refactoring option to move function definitions out of a class declaration, auto-completion for signals and slots in Qt5-style connects, experimental Qt Test and Qt Quick Tests support in the Professional and Enterprise edition, support for 64-bit Android toolchains, and various other improvements. More details on the new version can be found in the official announcement and the changelog.
Facebook

Facebook's "Hello" Tells You Who's Calling Before You Pick Up 78

Posted by samzenpus
from the who-is-it? dept.
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.
Image

Broken Beer Bottle Battle In Debate Over Merits of Android Over iPhone 134 Screenshot-sm

Posted by samzenpus
from the sticks-stones-and-beer-bottles dept.
HughPickens.com writes Lee Hutchinson writes at Ars Technica that platform loyalty is a powerful thing, as two roommates in Tulsa, Oklahoma stabbed each other with broken beer bottles in a debate over the relative merits of Android versus iPhones. Tulsa police were called to Evergreen Apartments at 1 a.m after a woman found a man covered in blood, stumbling around the parking lot and found that two roommates had been drinking and arguing over their mobile phones. The two men broke beer bottles and stabbed each other with them and one of the men smashed a bottle over the back of the other man's head. "In over 35 years as a cop, this is one of the oddest reasons I've seen for assault," says Maj. Rod Hummel. According to Channel 8 News, police had no comment when asked which phone was in fact better.
Crime

New Dark Web Market Is Selling Zero-Day Exploits 30

Posted by samzenpus
from the finest-crime dept.
Sparrowvsrevolution writes Over the last month, a marketplace calling itself TheRealDeal Market has emerged on the dark web, with a focus on sales of hackers' zero-day attack methods. Like the Silk Road and its online black market successors like Agora and the recently defunct Evolution, TheRealDeal runs as a Tor hidden service and uses bitcoin to hide the identities of its buyers, sellers, and administrators. But while some other sites have sold only basic, low-level hacking tools and stolen financial details, TheRealDeal's creators say they're looking to broker premium hacker data like zero-days, source code, and hacking services, often offered on an exclusive, one-time sale basis.

Currently an iCloud exploit is being offered for sale on the site with a price tag of $17,000 in bitcoin, claiming to be a new method of hacking Apple iCloud accounts. "Any account can be accessed with a malicious request from a proxy account," reads the description. "Please arrange a demonstration using my service listing to hack an account of your choice." Others include a technique to hack WordPress' multisite configuration, an exploit against Android's Webview stock browser, and an Internet Explorer attack that claims to work on Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7, available for around $8,000 in bitcoin. None of these zero days have yet been proven to be real, but an escrow system on the site using bitcoin's multisignature transaction feature is designed to prevent scammers from selling fake exploits.
Android

Google Adds Handwriting Input To Android 124

Posted by timothy
from the dreaming-of-sheep-is-next dept.
BarbaraHudson writes: The Reg is reporting on the release of Google Handwriting Input for Android smartphones and tablets: "The Chocolate Factory's research arm says handwriting recognition is needed because touchscreen keyboards remain modestly effective and while 'Voice input is an option, but there are situations where it is not feasible, such as in a noisy environment or during a meeting." The Google Research Blog notes that it allows recognition both on-device and in the cloud (by tapping on the cloud icon) in any Android app.

It works as advertised on my smartphone, so now I can type, speak, or scribble my searches, texts, etc.
Robotics

John Hawley Talks About UAV Controls (Video) 20

Posted by Roblimo
from the monocopter-bicopter-tricopter-quadcopter dept.
John 'Warthog9' Hawley was the boss sysadmin on kernel.org before he jumped to Intel in April, 2014, as an open hardware technical evangelist. He last showed up on Slashdot in June, 2014, with his Dr. Who-inspired Robot K-9. Now he's talking about flight computers for quadcopters, specifically ones based on MinnowBoards. Last month (April 2015) he was speaking at the Embedded Linux Conference + Android Builders Summit. That's where he and Timothy Lord had this conversation about flight controllers for UAVs, which makes it a fitting sequel to yesterday's video, which was also about controlling drones with real-time Linux.