Sunday, July 29, 2012

HTC Desire HD Android 4.0 ICS update cancelled



acing a consumer backlash, HTC has defended its decision to cancel plans to bring Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich to the HTC Desires HD
 
Defending its decision not to bring Google’sAndroid 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich operating system to the HTC Desire HD, the Taiwanese handset manufacturer has suggested the software would cause users to lose data.

Responding to a backlash of Desire HD owners,HTC has revealed that adding the Gingerbread replacing OS to the handset would see stored data to be lost, a solution that the smartphone maker has suggested would be ‘unacceptable’ to many.

"We've heard your feedback on our decision not to update the HTC Desire HD to Android 4.0. We completely understand that this is a controversial decision,” a HTC spokesperson announced via the company’s official blog.

"For more background, due to how storage on the HTC Desire HD is partitioned – and the larger size of Android 4.0 – it would require re-partitioning device storage and overwriting user data in order to install this update. While technically advanced users might find this solution acceptable, the majority of customers would not."

Explaining its reasoning for going back on its promise to bring Android 4.0 to the Desire HD, HTC has suggested any move to bring the Android revamp to device would 'negatively impacted the user experience' and other features and functionality on the phone.’

The official response added "While we are very aware of the disappointment from this decision, we believe the impact to user experience was too great. We recognize this is a change from our previous statement and for that we're truly sorry."

Are you a HTC Desire HD owner? Are you disappointed by the lack of an Android 4.0 ICS update for your device? Let us know via the T3 Twitter and Facebookfeeds.

Android, Nokia MeeGo phones hacked using NFC


LONDON: A skilled hacker has revealed a new technique to hijack a smartphone via a short-range radio technology known as Near Field Communication (NFC).
Charlie Miller, a research consultant at security firm Accuvant, created tools that forced phones to visit websites seeded with attack software, which helped him look at and steal data contained in a handset. According to the BBC, Miller, who demonstrated the work at the Black Hat hacker conference in Las Vegas, showed how to attack three separate phones, namely, theSamsung Nexus S, the Google Galaxy Nexus, which both run Android, and the Nokia N9, which runs on the MeeGo system. To attack the phones Miller wrote the software to control a reader tag that works in conjunction with NFC, which works when devices are brought close together or are placed near a reader chip.
He discovered that the default setting in Android Beam forces a handset to visit any weblink or open any file sent to it, and via this route he forced handsets to visit websites that ran code written to exploit known vulnerabilities in Android, the report said.
"The fact that, without you doing anything, all of a sudden your browser is going to my website, is not ideal," Miller said. He said that to successfully attack the Android phones they must be running a particular version of the operating system, be unlocked and have their screen active.
Nokia claimed that it was aware of Miller's research and said it was "actively investigating" his claims of success against its N9 phone.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Follow the 2012 Olympic games on your iOS or Android phone


iPhone(Credit: CNET)
There are few events quite as exciting as the Olympics. With athletes from all over the world competing for their respective countries, it's easy to get excited as you root for your country to win. Obviously, I'll be rooting for my American compatriots, but seeing the drama of each event, no matter who the winner is, can be appreciated by anyone.
This year, the apps for tracking Olympic events are better than ever before, but still not quite perfect. Since NBC is covering the Olympics, it's the only app in this collection that will have live streams of events. Early reports around the Web on the first day of events (Thursday) were that the live streams are not up to snuff. Let's hope they work it out as the Olympics continue.
This week's apps are all about experiencing the 2012 Olympics on iPhone and Android phones. The first is iPhone-only and lets you see the Olympics as they happen in high-resolution images. The second is NBC's contribution, which is (currently) not perfect for live streams, but has great highlight videos. The third is the official app of the London 2012 Olympics, where you can track every medal, every athlete, and more.
Reuters olympics London 2012
The Reuters app has a big colorful picture stream with more info when you touch a photo.
(Credit: Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET)
Reuters Olympics London 2012  (iPhone only; free) lets you experience the Olympics with big high-res professional photos. The app has a unique touch-screen interface, showing a timeline of all the events with beautiful photos. At the very top you get the latest photos from events, and as you scroll down, you can see photos all the way to preliminary events and qualifiers.
Touching a photo brings up more information and a separate interface. Using buttons across the bottom you can look at photo captions; browse headlines pertaining to the event or athlete you're looking at; share comments with others who own the app; and get more information about the photographer who took the photo.
Back on the main screen, you can also touch a button in the upper left to view the Olympic schedule and results so far, a medal table, and current Olympic records. You also can set up notifications for results of specific events and choose your country so it will notify you when your country's athletes are successful. You also have the ability to view only photos from specific events, by touching a Photo Filter button in the upper right of the main screen, then touching the icon that corresponds to your favorite events.
Reuters Olympics London 2012 doesn't have any video streams or clips, but it offers the best photographic experience in this collection. As a free app, I highly recommend iPhone users grab it to track the 2012 Olympic games.
NBC Olympics Live Extra
Go to the sports tab to choose your favorite events so you can get to them quickly.
(Credit: Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET)
NBC Olympics Live Extra (iPhone  | Android ; free) is the official app for streaming video from the network covering the games here in North America. Early reports are that the video quality is lacking for live streaming, especially on 3G connections and Android phones in general, but the app is still useful for a number of other reasons. I'm hoping NBC will figure out the video problems so we can all check out events wherever we are.
The interface includes buttons across the top for the home screen with the latest videos, video clips broken up by individual sports, a schedule of events, and a Favorites section where you can tap a heart-shaped icon next to events to keep track of what interests you most. It's important to note here that I found that the best way to mark your favorites is to tap the Sports tab, then scroll down through each event, touching the heart icons for the ones you want to follow. These will all show up under the Favorites tab for easy access.
At this time, the best use for NBC Olympics Live Extra is to view highlights of events that already occurred. The video quality is fairly good and it's a great way to catch up on what you have missed. Hopefully NBC will improve the live-streaming component as the games go on, but the app still has enough to offer to make it worthy of your download.
London 2012 Official Results App
Browse through colorful menus to find out when your favorite Olympic events are happening.
(Credit: Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET)
The London 2012 Official Results App (iPhone  |Android ; free) is exactly as the name implies, and it's great for keeping up with what's going on and when your favorite Olympic events occur.
The interface is a little busy, but if you play around with it for a bit, it gets easier to navigate. You get two buttons on top for switching between what's happening Live and a Calendar where you can see which events occur on which days. The Live section shows a scrolling blog with photos and news items for each event happening at the moment. On the Calender you can swipe horizontally at the top to browse through days or you can find your favorite events by scrolling vertically on the bottom, then touch an event to see the when it will happen. You also have buttons across the bottom to browse by schedule, sporting event, medal counts, athlete bios, and a My Games section where you can track your favorite events. In this last section you'll be prompted to select your country, set your location to view the schedule in local time (GBR is the default), and set up push notifications for your country's events and daily event roundups.
Though the interface is fairly complex, the London Official Results App has all the info you need for just about anything surrounding the 2012 Olympic Games. You'll even get a few video clips for highlights (but nothing on the level of the previous app in the collection). If you're looking for an Olympic app with exhaustive information about the games, this is the app to have, if you can get past the confusing interface.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Android users warned vs malware bundled with Opera Mini


Security vendor GFI Labs said the latest version of the Trojan OpFake —which sends SMS messages to premium numbers— now bundles Opera Mini within itself.
 
"(There is) a fake Opera Mini support website where users can download a package named 'com.surprise.me' (file name: 'opera_mini_65.apk'), this new Opfake variant, which GFI VIPRE MobileSecurity detects as Trojan.AndroidOS.Generic.A. Do keep in mind that the package and/or file names may change over time," it said in a blog post.
 
When the app is installed, there will be two sets of “Permission to Install” pages shown to the smartphone users.
 
The first set comes from the malware itself, asking for rights to read and modify SMS and MMS messages; read rights to all contacts stored on the smartphone; and modify or delete rights to the SD card.
 
After users agree to install, the malware then redirects them to the second set, a legitimate Opera Mini page.
 
"More than likely, users will not be aware that something might have infiltrated their phones until the bill arrives," GFI said.
 
Once installed, the malware sends one SMS message to a premium-rate number before it installs the legitimate Opera Mini.
 
A command and control (C&C) server controls the message sent and the number where it is sent. The malware then connects to the C&C server to retrieve data.

Intel Porting Android 4.1 to Work on Atom Tablets, Smartphones


Intel is porting the Android 4.1 operating system, also called Jelly Bean, to work on smartphones and tablets using low-power Atom processors, the company said this week.
The company did not provide a time frame for when the Android 4.1 port would be complete, or when the OS would be deployed in products.
"Intel continues to work closely with Google to enable future versions of Android, including Jelly Bean, on our family of low power Atom processors," said Suzy Greenberg, a company spokeswoman, in an e-mail.
Smartphones running on Intel chips are currently being rolled out with Android 2.3, code-named Gingerbread, and are due to get Android 4.0, code-named Ice Cream Sandwich, as an update, though a time-frame has not been provided.
Lava International and Orange are among companies that launched Intel Inside smartphones with Gingerbread. Lenovo released an Intel Inside smartphone in China with a customized version of Android, and Motorola is due to release smartphones and tablets Intel chips with the Android OS later this year.
Intel has a minimal presence in the smartphone and tablet markets, which are dominated by ARM. The first tablet to get Android 4.1 was Google's Nexus 7, which was based on an ARM processor. Device makers that license ARM processors such as Asus and HTC are due to deliver over-the-air updates to Android 4.1 for devices in the near future.
ARM's rival MIPS, whose processor designs go into low-cost tablets, is also racing to complete a port of Jelly Bean to work on its processors.
Intel's Atom ProcessorIntel is a big backer of Android, and is mainly putting the OS on smartphones and tablets with its Atom chips code-named Medfield. Intel Inside smartphones carry Medfield chips, and a few tablets have been announced with Medfield. Vizio has announced it would use a Medfield chip in an upcoming 10-inch tablet.
Intel's next-generation Atom chip for tablets, code-named Clover Trail, is being targeted for use only in devices with Microsoft's upcoming Windows 8 OS. Intel is not porting Android for Clover Trail tablets, and hopes to expand its presence in the tablet market primarily around Windows 8 and Clover Trail. Microsoft has also announced Windows RT for ARM processors.
ARM is a step ahead of its rival with devices already carrying Android 4.1. But Intel is trying to attract developers to write applications for Android on Atom processors. It is sponsoring a contest where the company will award US$29,000 in cash prizes to attract Android developers to write games for Intel-based tablets and smartphones. As part of the contest, users can test the code in an Android 4.0 emulator.
Google has also said it would release an Android Platform Development Kit (PDK) to hardware companies to customize the OS for a chipset or device ahead of release.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Sony Hopes Android 4.0 Will Save the Walkman


Sony hopes it can offer Apple's iPod Touch sterner competition with the announcement of a new Walkman model powered by the latest version of Google's Android operating system.
Walkman F800
The Walkman 3.5 inch F800 is not the first media players to use Android -- the "Z" series started this trend for Sony back in May and Samsung has a similar product -- but the version included on those models was 2.3. The F800 which replaces these will use 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich.
Three capacities are offered, 8GB, 16GB, and 32GB, promising 4.5 hours of video playback and 20 for music. Inside, the F800 features a 1GHz dual-core CPU.
Do music players need Android to work well for their intended task? Not really but it allows the device to access apps on Google's Play Store via the Wi-Fi connection.
The bigger question is whether users actually want old-fashioned music players at all, even Apple's iPod.
Vintage Walkman
Despite the famous heritage there is no such thing as a "Walkman" these days. Even Sony calls them "personal media players" or PMPs which obscures the fact that the whole niche is slowly being rendered obsolete by improvements in phones and tablets running the same Android OS; the F800 even looks like a small smartphone.
Another drawback could be the F800's reported $279 (approximately £180) price tag.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

What may hurt Google's Android business


What may hurt Google's Android business
Google wants the world to know that it has grown into a new identity - it is a mobile company now.
SAN FRANCISCO: Google wants the world to know that it has grown into a new identity - it is a mobile company now. The financial report it issued Thursday reflects the growing pains that have accompanied the transformation.

Advertising, Google's main business, does not always make as much money on phones as it does on computers, and the price that advertisers pay for clicks on Google ads has decreased 16 per cent since last year. AndMotorola Mobility, the mobile device maker that Google now owns, is losing money.

Still, Google continues to chug along in its vast search advertising business and make headway in newer businesses like display advertising. Its core business, not including Motorola, had net revenue of $8.36 billion, less than the $8.41 billion that analysts had expected but up 21 per cent over last year. Google did not break out net income for the two businesses, but for the combined company it climbed 11 per cent. Google shares were up 2 per cent in after-hours trading.

Google's blossoming mobile strategy makes it even harder to differentiate among the big technology companies. Google, Apple, Microsoft and Amazon each have mobile devices, apps and cloud storage. And it is in those areas that the tech giants are competing.

In June, Google introduced the Nexus 7, a sleek seven-inch tablet to compete with the iPad, the Kindle and the Surface. It also showed the Nexus Q, for home entertainment; Internet-connected Google Glasses; and a new version of its Android mobile operating system, Jelly Bean.

The idea is to offer mobile devices so more people use Google services everywhere they go, instead of devices and services from competitors.

"All of the combatants in the intergalactic race for supremacy appear to be launching consumer products and hardware," said Jordan Rohan, an internet analyst at Stifel Nicolaus. "Google's management team realizes that if consumers lock into the Apple ecosystem, it's going to be hard to sell them Android devices in the future."

But while Google is meeting people on the devices they want to use, analysts are closely watching whether it can make as much money on mobile devices as it has on desktop computers.

People have long described the price difference between print and Web ads as moving from analog dollars to digital dimes. Cellphone ads could be described as trading those dimes for mobile pennies. Clicks on mobile ads cost about 40 per cent of the price of desktop ads, according to Stifel Nicolaus. That is because there is more inventory with the addition of mobile ads, and that could keep some Google users from seeing ads on computers. In addition, people are less likely to make purchases on their phones.

"The reality is when your click prices are going down, it means that advertisers are paying less for your inventory," said Colin W. Gillis, a technology analyst at BGC Financial.

Google executives said the decline in ad prices was mostly because of foreign exchange rates, that the mobile ad business was healthy and that mobile searches were not cannibalizing desktop searches.

"We believe that mobile searches are mostly incremental," said Susan Wojcicki, senior vice president for advertising. "For example, on weekends when users are out and about we see a rise in mobile activity and when users come back on Monday we see a rise on desktop."

Google dominates mobile advertising with 95 per cent market share for search ads and 52 percent market share for all types of mobile ads, according to eMarketer. The number of paid clicks on Google ads increased 42 per cent over last year.

In a statement, Larry Page, Google's chief executive, called it a "strong quarter" with "a bunch ofexciting new products" and said that with the acquisition of Motorola, "we're excited about the potential to build great devices for users."

Page did not speak to analysts on the earnings conference call, however, because of an ailment that has left him unable to speak for weeks. Although analysts said his health is an ongoing risk, Google executives declined to offer details.

"Larry has lost his voice, and we said that means he cannot do any public speaking engagements at the time, including today's earnings call," said Nikesh Arora, Google's chief business officer. "But he's here and continues to run the company and is involved in any strategic decisions we're making."

Google reported second-quarter revenue of $12.21 billion, up 35 per cent from $9.03 billion in the year-ago quarter. Net revenue, which excludes payments to ad partners, was $9.61 billion, up from $6.92 billion. Net income rose to $2.79 billion, or $8.42 a share, from $2.51 billion, or $7.68. Excluding the cost of stock options, Google's second-quarter profit was $10.12 a share, compared with $8.74 last year.

Analysts scrambled to make sense of Google's earnings report because for the first time it included Motorola, but not full quarterly results for the device maker because the acquisition closed May 22. Motorola lost $233 million on $1.25 billion in revenue during that period - results that analysts called "frightening."

Patrick Pichette, Google's chief financial officer, asked investors to give Google time to do its homework on Motorola. The addition of Motorola's 20,293 employees nearly doubled Google's headcount.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Android's Jelly Bean aims to be hard to hack


New features on Google's latest Android  mobile OS -- Jelly Bean 4.1  -- beef up the system's security over all other past OS iterations . With Jelly Bean's design, Google has aimed to defend against hacks that install viruses and other malware on mobile devices using the system.
"Android has stepped its game up mitigation-wise in the new Jelly Bean release," security researcher Jon Oberheide wrote in an analysis  published this week.
Oberheide notes that the central difference between Jelly Bean and other Android systems is that it incorporates Address Space Layout Randomization (ASLR), which randomizes locations in the devices' memory, along with another security feature called data execution prevention (DEP).
This is crucial because one way hackers tend to break into handsets is via memory corruption bugs, according to Ars Technica , which first reported this news. When ASLR is combined with DEP, these types of attacks can be defeated because hackers cannot locate the malicious code in the device's memory.

Besides ASLR and data execution prevention, Jelly Bean also has defenses against
information leakage, buffer overflows, and additional memory vulnerabilities. However, according to Oberheide, Android has not yet added code signing, which would help fortify against unauthorized applications running on the device.
Apple's iOS already has code signing, ASLR, and DEP.
"While Android is still playing a bit of catch-up, other mobile platforms are moving ahead with more innovation exploit mitigation techniques, such as the in-kernel ASLR present in Apple's iOS 6," Oberheide wrote in the analysis. "One could claim that iOS is being proactive with such techniques, but in reality, they're simply being reactive to the type of exploits that typically target the iOS platform. However, Apple does deserve credit for raising the barrier up to the point of kernel exploitation by employing effective userspace mitigations such NX, ASLR, and mandatory code signing."

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Serial hacker says latest Android will be "pretty hard" to exploit


Diagram showing attacker overwriting a return address with a pointer to the stack that contains attacker-supplied data
The latest release of Google's Android mobile operating system has finally been properly fortified with an industry-standard defense. It's designed to protect end users against hack attacks that install malware on handsets.
In an analysis published Monday , security researcher Jon Oberheide said Android version 4.1, aka Jelly Bean, is the first version of the Google-developed OS to properly implement a protection known as address space layout randomization. ASLR, as it's more often referred to, randomizes the memory locations for the library, stack, heap, and most other OS data structures. As a result, hackers who exploit memory corruption bugs that inevitably crop up in complex pieces of code are unable to know in advance where their malicious payloads will be loaded. When combined with a separate defense known as data execution prevention, ASLR can effectively neutralize such attacks.
Although Android 4.0, aka Ice Cream Sandwich, was the first Android release to offer ASLR, the implementation was largely ineffective at mitigating real-world attacks . One of the chief reasons for the deficiency was Android's executable region, heap, libraries, and linker were loaded at the same locations each time. This made it significantly easier for attackers designing exploits to predict where in memory their malicious code can be located.
"As long as there's anything that's not randomized, then it (ASLR) doesn't work, because as long as the attacker knows something is in the same spot, they can use that to break out of everything else," Charlie Miller, a veteran smartphone hacker and principal research consultant at security firm Accuvant, told Ars. "Jelly Bean is going to be the first version of Android that has full ASLR and DEP, so it's going to be pretty difficult to write exploits for that." Miller has spent the past seven years writing software exploits that can install malware on Macs, iPhones, and Android handsets when they do nothing more than browse a booby-trapped website.
By contrast, Apple's competing iOS has offered fully implemented ASLR and DEP for the past 16 months. Not that Apple developers' track record of adding the protection has been perfect. The 2009 debut of OS X Snow Leopard also failed to randomize core parts of the OS . Those omissions were finally fixed with the later release of OS X Lion.
Unlike its Android predecessors, Jelly Bean provides randomization for what's known as position-independent executables. That will make it significantly harder to use a technique known as return-oriented programming when exploiting buffer overflows and other memory-corruption vulnerabilities discovered in the mobile platform. Jelly Bean also provides defenses to prevent information leakage exploits that can lead to much more serious OS exploits.
Android has yet to introduce code signing, a protection designed to prevent unauthorized applications from running on the device by requiring code loaded into memory to carry a valid digital signature before it can be executed. It has long been present in iOS

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Living with Android Jelly Bean: more than just a point release


With the Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean) update to the unlocked HSPA+ version of the Samsung Galaxy Nexus rolling out and the upgrade coming out for other devices soon, I thought I'd take another look at it.
Since Google announced Jelly Bean at its Google I/O conference two weeks ago, I've been using the new upgrade on a Galaxy Nexus and I have to say I'm quite impressed. This may be just a point release, but the improvements in voice recognition and search in particular are noteworthy.
The biggest new feature is probably Google Now, which adds a variety of personal assistant tools to the search engine and voice recognition features in order to give you more personalized information.
You start Google Now by swiping up from the bottom of the screen, and it presents a variety of information on little "cards" in a stack.
It defaults to displaying the local weather and information about local attractions. As you use it more, it is supposed to learn about you, doing things such as routing you to your next appointment, displaying the traffic conditions, and updating your flight status. Much of this sounds great, but in practice, it hasn't done that much for me so far because I commute by train, which it currently doesn't seem to know anything about, and don't keep my calendar in Google. It does collect your local search results in stacks of cards, which is useful and should improve over time, so I'll be watching for that.
However, even the basic voice recognition parts have been surprisingly good. When I first got the device, I tested it against Apple's Siri and liked it then, but the more I use it, the better I like it.


When you are in Google Now, you just say "Google" and then ask a question or ask it to do something for you. Like Siri, it is good at dialing numbers from an address book, setting alarms or reminders, and checking the weather.
But compared with the current generation of Siri, it's just a broader product. It does a great job of directly answering questions such as "Who won the All-Star Game?," "When do the Cubs play?," and "When do the Olympics start?" without showing search engine results, though you can always pull those up. It is also capable of performing calculations. Of course, it doesn't know every answer, in which case it consults the search engine, but I was still impressed by the quality of the voice recognition. It simply works better for me than the competing choices.
Still, as much as I like the improved voice recognition, it is far from perfect. Saying "Google" turns on the voice recognition from Google Now, but not from elsewhere in the interface, though touching the microphone on the search bar always works.   
Unlike the Samsung Galaxy S III, whose voice features I found generally worse, you can't use voice to turn phone features on and off. While it is pretty good, it does get confused sometimes, particularly in noisy environments, and it really isn't suitable for long dictation.
In general, voice works by sending your words to the cloud and getting the results back. In the Settings app, there is an option for offline speech recognition, so it enables voice input while you are offline, though it can then only do things that are on the local device.
To me, the combination of Google Now and improved voice recognition is a big deal. It can really change the way you interact with a phone. In many respects, it makes the search engine appear less prominent by just giving you the answers instead. That is one of the great things about Siri, but it's a bit surprising to see Google take it even further. I'll be curious to see if or how Google treats advertising messages on Google Now going forward.
The other changes in Jelly Bean don't stand out so much, but are still good improvements. Google talked about "Project Butter," designed to make the interface work a bit smoother. There's not one thing that jumps out, but everything does indeed seem to work a little faster. It's subtle, but a nice improvement. The Notifications screen, which pulls down from the top, now offers some larger notifications, like email sender information, which I find quite useful. You also have a bit more control over how notifications work.
Although Google said that Chrome will be the new default browser, on the device I tested, the old Android browser and the new Chrome browser were present. In general, Chrome is a big improvement, with faster JavaScript rendering and the ability to sync locations about multiple Chrome instances (including Chrome on a desktop). Note that Adobe Flash is no longer supported. This was previously mentioned, but it is a bit of a disappointment as there still are sites that use it heavily.
The recent upgrades to Google Play have made the store a much better place to get music, movies, and magazines. Jelly Bean is optimized to stream your media from the cloud, rather than actually storing info on your local device, though there is a buried option to copy music and videos to the local device. Everything you buy from Google Play is synchronized with your account and when you sign in on a new device, it is all synced. (Note that you'll have to manually download the things you want, including the apps.) One good thing compared with iTunes is that you can continue to attach the device to a Windows PC and copy your data directly.
A big question facing Jelly Bean will be how quickly devices actually get the upgrade, particularly given the slowness of the Ice Cream Sandwich upgrades. It is supposed to be out for the Galaxy Nexus, the Nexus S, the Motorola Xoom, and Nexus 7 tablet (which will  come loaded with Jelly Bean) by mid-July, but we don't have any dates on any other devices.
Overall, I'd say Jelly Bean positions Android quite well in the mobile OS market. Apple continues to have the largest ecosystem with the most applications and peripherals, but what we've seen so far from iOS 6 has been very incremental. We'll have to wait a few months to see whether the company has more up its sleeve, such as improvements for Siri. 
Apple's control over its ecosystem means anyone who bought an iPhone after the 3GS or an iPad after the iPad 2 can upgrade (though older devices don't get all the new features), something Apple's competitors must envy. Microsoft is making big changes to Windows Phone 8 for this fall, but thus far has really only shown developer features, not consumer ones. It has said that existing devices won't be able to move to the new OS, only an interim version, though it will design Windows Phone 8 for easier over-the-air-updates. Google is in a middle ground with Jelly Bean, seemingly relying on the whims of both the device makers and the carriers. But from a user perspective, even though it doesn't appear like a huge change from Ice Cream Sandwich, its improved voice recognition system, Google Now, and faster UI make it feel like a big deal.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Android, iOS Called Dominant Smartphones


Google's Android and Apple's iOS account run 86 percent of the U.S. smartphones, leaving RIM's Blackberry and other mobile platforms -- we're looking at you, Windows Phone -- in the dust.
That's the latest word from research firm Nielsen, which reports that Android's lead in the U.S. smartphone market continues its steady rise. In fact, nearly 52 percent of U.S. smartphone owners use Android devices. Second-place iOS has a healthy 34.3 percent of the market.
Third-place RIM has just 8.1 percent, and other operating systems take the final 5.9 percent of the pie.
Obviously, the Nielsen numbers are very good news for Android and iOS. And the gulf between the two frontrunners and the rest of the mobile OS appears to be widening.
Among smartphone owners who purchased a handset in June 2012, 54.6 percent chose an Android device, and 36.2 percent bought an iPhone.
Meanwhile, Microsoft's Windows Phone platform continues to languish. That's despite positive reviews, a slick "live tile" interface, abundant advertising, and support from major phone manufacturers including Nokia, HTC, and Samsung. 
Windows Phone 7 has a meager 1.3 percent of the U.S. smartphone manufacturer share, Nielsen says. That's less than half the 3 percent share of Windows Mobile Phone -- the OS that Windows Phone replaced.
In terms of hardware sales, Apple has a commanding lead. More than a third (34.3 percent) of smartphone owners use an iPhone. Samsung is a distant second with 17 percent, followed by HTC (14 percent) and Motorola (11 percent).
As expected, consumers are steadily replacing their older cell phones with smartphones. In fact, two-thirds of new mobile buyers chose a smartphone, Nielsen reports.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Google starts uploading Android 4.1 Jelly Bean with Galaxy Nexus


Internet search giant Google has begun uploading the latest version of its Android operation system to users' smartphones.
Owners of the HSPA+ version ofSamsung's Galaxy Nexus, available in the UK, most of Europe and the US, are the first to receive the update.
Google claims that the Jelly Bean software offers an improved search experience.
According to The BBC, the update, also known as Android 4.1, poses a direct challenge to Apple iPhone's voice-recognition app Siri.
Google said it has improved Voice Search so that it can display answers to spoken questions from sources including Wikipedia.
According to the report, it has also introduced Google Now, which is designed to offer information without the user having to actively trigger a query.
"Google Now tells you today's weather before you start your day, how much traffic to expect before you leave for work, or your favourite team's score as they're playing," said the firm in an update to the Nexus page on its Google+ social network.
According to the report, both newly introduced features are potentially in breach of an integrated search patent filed by Apple

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Android's Biggest Threat: Adware?


Angry Birds free
For the price of “free,” most of us are willing to put up with a few ads in our apps. But as we saw in the PC world, the free-for-all mobile ad industry is evolving to do much more than serve annoying banner ads. 
According to mobile security firm Lookout Mobile, about five percent of Android apps contain what it calls an “aggressive ad network”—an intrusive mobile ad network that toes the line between legitimate software and actual malware. Behaviors of these networks include collecting excessive amounts of data, installing bookmarks in your browser without your knowledge, and spamming your Notifications Bar. 
Even if you’re willing to put up with the spam and extra icons, aggressive mobile ad networks will take a toll on your device as well. Mobile ads and push notifications significantly drain your battery life; a recent study from Microsoft said using a free, ad-monetized app can account for up to 75 percent of battery drain.
Furthermore, as we’ve seen from PC-based adware, mobile adware can easily morph into spyware, which is outright malicious. Spyware is an additional program that gets installed with adware unbeknownst to the you, and collects and transmits data without permission. 
Aggressive Ad Networks Lead to “Sketchy” AppsAn oft-cited example of an aggressive ad network is Apperhand. Back in January, Apperhand was spotted in dozens of free apps and was so aggressive that Symantec initially classified it as malware (but later retracted). 
It was an easy mistake to make. The Apperhand SDK contained code that added search icons to your desktop, added bookmarks without your knowledge, and pushed out ads through your Notifications Bar. Less noticeable, Apperhand also re-routed searches conducted within a mobile browser to another search engine, one that paid Apperhand for each search. Sketchy stuff. 
Aggressive ad networks are careless about data privacy too, and many have obscure or no privacy policies. Apple has seen its fair share of privacy-related lawsuits due to "leaky" apps. Just last month a Californiajudge allowed  most of these lawsuits to proceed, all cases brought upon by individuals who used apps that were secretly harvesting, and selling, excessive amounts of data for their iDevices. 
Complicating matters for the end user is the fact that Google doesn’t weed out aggressive ad networks—after all, it runs one of the biggest mobile ad networks, AdMob (an exemplary ad network, according to Lookout). But when Symantec contacted Google about Apperhand, it was told that the app abided by its Terms of Service. Meanwhile Apple's App Store has just begun rejecting apps that appear to collect too much data. 
Lookout Develops Framework for 'Adware' DefinitionUnfortunately most aggressive mobile ad networks pay developers pretty handsomely compared to the more responsible networks. For instance Airpush, which has gotten plenty of developers  into trouble for spewing Notification Bar spam, claims to pay  10-30 times more than Google’s AdMob. If you’re an indie app developer trying to make any sort of profit from a free app, that's a very tempting payout.
So how can an app developer decide? Working with consumer protection agencies, developers, and ad networks, Lookout has drawn up the "Mobile App Ad Guidelines," a set of criteria to help developers choose a responsible ad network that's less likely to hinder the user experience. After all, if a user deletes an app, the developer stops making money, plain and simple. 
In a nutshell, these recommendations include transparency, enabling user control, reasonable limits of data collection, and secure data transfer. Click here to read the entire 10-page report.
    According to Kevin Mahaffey, CTO and co-founder of the mobile security firm, Lookout warned offending networks that their code could one day be classified as malware. Some networks turned around; Mahaffey called Israeli ad network StartApp (bundled in indie apps like Tic Tank Toe and Bubbles Touch) a "redemption story." Others ignored the calls: Leadbolt, mOcean, Moolah Media, and Appenda, to name a few. 
    The fact is that until mobile ad networks have a strong incentive to behave, they probably won't. 
    Why You Can Still Be OptimisticThis Thursday, the White House is kicking off its first Privacy Bill of Rights roundtable with mobile apps. During this session all sorts of stakeholders, from advertisers to developers, will discuss ways they can "reach consensus  on a code of conduct" for how apps handle privacy issues. 
    I'm optimistic because unlike the decade-long controversy over PC-based adware, mobile adware hasn't been overpoliticized yet. The space is young, the lobbyists haven't lined up, and users are more vocal and better informed about their privacy rights than ever before. 
    For now, there are several apps that'll scan and identify the mobile ad networks within your existing apps. My tried and true ones include the Lookout Ad Network Detector and TrustGo Antivirus and Mobile Security

    Sunday, July 8, 2012

    Android Malware Botnet Claims Doubted as Researchers Review Evidence


    Android Malware Botnet Claims Doubted as Researchers Review Evidence





     

    Initial reports earlier this week of a new Android malware botnet could now be erroneous, according to follow-up interviews with the security researchers who made the original claims.

    Android Malware Botnet Claims Doubted as Researchers Review Evidence


    Two Internet security researchers who recently reported their findings of an Android botnet that pushes spam to users' Yahoo email accounts now say they might have jumped the gun.
    In an update from The Wall Street Journal, the two researchers aren't as sure that their original claims about the alleged Android malware and botnet are correct.
    "Chester Wisniewski, senior security adviser at Sophos, said he is rechecking his findings  after Google and some other security researchers disputed findings of an Android 'botnet,' or a cluster of computers hijacked by hackers,"The Journal reported in its Digits blog. "In an interview Thursday, Mr. Wisniewski said that the spam he identified generated by Yahoo’s free Web-based email service was different than normal patterns of email spam but 'we don’t know for sure that it’s coming from Android devices.'"
    The other security researcher, Microsoft engineer Terry Zink, also backtracked on his original report about the alleged Android malware, stating in a follow-up post  "that he also didn’t know for sure that Android devices had been compromised," according to The Journal. “Yes, it’s entirely possible that bot on a compromised PC connected to Yahoo Mail' and inserted the 'Yahoo Mail for Android' tagline at the bottom of the spam messages 'to make it look like the spam was coming from Android devices,' he wrote."
    Google, which owns and develops the Android mobile operating system, continues to deny the researchers' claims since the first reports were released. “The evidence we’ve examined does not support the Android botnet claim," the company said in a statement through a spokesman. "Our analysis so far suggests that spammers are using infected computers and a fake mobile signature to try to bypass anti-spam mechanisms in the email platform they’re using. We’re continuing to investigate the details.”
    The original reports from the two security researchers stated that the allegedmalware would get into a user's smartphone through a rogue app, which then used users’ Yahoo free email accounts to send out spam, according to an earlier story on eWEEK.com. "Microsoft engineer Terry Zink said he found spam samples coming from compromised Yahoo email accounts, but then noted that they were being sent from Android mobile devices."
    “We’ve all heard the rumors, but this is the first time I have seen it—a spammer has control of a botnet that lives on Android devices,” Zink originally wrote in ablog post July 3 . “These devices log in to the user’s Yahoo Mail account and send spam. … The messages all come from Yahoo Mail servers. They are all from compromised Yahoo accounts. They are sending all stock spam, the typical pump and dump variety that we’ve seen for years.”
    Now, though, there are questions about the validity of those initial claims in this case.

     

    Copyright @ 2013 getAndroidNews | Phones, News, Review and Lots more.