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Google

Report: Google Will Return To China 72

An anonymous reader writes: Google famously withdrew from mainland China in 2010 after fending off a series of cyberattacks from local sources. Now, according to a (paywalled) report from The Information, the company is working on plans to return. "As part of the deal Google is looking to strike, Google would follow the country's laws and block apps that the government objects to, one person told The Information." They're also seeking approval for a Chinese version of Google Play.
Cellphones

20+ Chinese Android Smartphones Models Come With Pre-Installed Malware 67

An anonymous reader writes: Security researchers from G DATA have published research (PDF) into Android phones produced in China, which found that a large number of devices ship with pre-installed malware and spyware. Affected models include the Xiaomi MI3, Huawei G510, Lenovo S860, Alps A24, Alps 809T, Alps H9001, Alps 2206, Alps PrimuxZeta, Alps N3, Alps ZP100, Alps 709, Alps GQ2002, Alps N9389, Android P8, ConCorde SmartPhone6500, DJC touchtalk, ITOUCH, NoName S806i, SESONN N9500, SESONN P8, Xido X1111, Star N9500, Star N8000 and IceFox Razor. The researchers do not believe the manufacturers are responsible for the malware; rather, they suspect middlemen within distribution channels. "According to G DATA, the contamination of these smartphones is done by hiding malware as add-on code in legitimate apps. Since users don't usually interact with the malware and the add-on runs in the app's background, unless using a mobile antivirus solution, these infections are rarely discovered."
Cellphones

Cheap Smartphones Quietly Becoming Popular In the US 180

An anonymous reader writes: Bloomberg reports that ZTE and its cheap Android smartphones have been grabbing more and more of the market in the U.S. It's not that the phones are particularly good — it's that they're "good enough" for the $60 price tag. The company has moved up to fourth among smartphone makers, behind Apple, Samsung and LG. That puts them ahead of a lot of companies making premium devices: HTC, Motorola, and BlackBerry, to name a few. ZTE, a Chinese manufacturer, seems to be better at playing the U.S. markets than competitors like Xiaomi and Huawei, and they're getting access to big carriers and big retailers. "Its phone sales are all the more surprising because it's been frozen out of the more lucrative telecom networking market since 2012. That year, the House Intelligence Committee issued a report warning that China's intelligence services could potentially use ZTE's equipment, and those of rival Huawei Technologies, for spying. Huawei then dismissed the allegations as 'little more than an exercise in China bashing.'"
Technology

Second Gen Moto 360 Men's and Women's, Fitness-Oriented Moto 360 Sport Unveiled 52

MojoKid writes: Motorola's first generation Moto 360 smartwatch was one of the first Android Wear smartwatches to hit the market, and because of its round display, became the immediate flag bearer for the Android Wear platform. As new competition has entered the fray — including entries from Apple with the Apple Watch and Samsung with the Gear S2 — Motorola is announcing a second generation smartwatch that solves most of the complaints of the previous model. Motorola has ditched the archaic Texas Instruments OMAP 3 processor in the original Moto 360. The new second generation Moto 360 brings a more credible 1.2GHz, quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor and Adreno 305 graphics to the table. You'll also find 512MB of RAM and 4GB of storage. And if you didn't like the largish dimensions of the previous Moto 360, you'll be glad to know that Motorola is offering two sizes this time around. There's a 46mm diameter case that comes with a 360x330 display and a smaller 42mm diameter case that houses a 360x325 display. Motorola has also introduced a dedicated women's model of the Moto 360 which features a 42mm diameter case and accepts smaller 16mm bands. As for battery life, Motorola says that the men's and women's 42mm models comes with a 300 mAh battery which is good for up to 1.5 days of mixed use, while the 46mm watch comes with a larger 400 mAh battery which is good for up to 2 days on charge.
Chrome

Chrome 45 Launches, Automatically Pauses Less Important Flash Content, Like Ads 88

An anonymous reader writes: Google today launched Chrome 45 for Windows, Mac, Linux, and Android with some expected changes and new developer tools. First and foremost, Chrome now automatically pauses less important Flash content (rolling out gradually, so be patient). This has been a longtime coming from both Google and Adobe, with the goal to make Flash content more power-efficient in Chrome: In March, a setting was introduced to play less Flash content on the page, but it wasn't turned on by default, and in June, the option was enabled in the browser's beta channel. Now it's being turned on for everyone.
Cellphones

Former Apple CEO Creates an iPhone Competitor 138

An anonymous reader links to Fast Company's profile of Obi Worldphone, one-time Apple CEO John Sculley's venture into smartphones. The company's first two products (both reasonably spec'd, moderately priced Android phones) are expected to launch in October. And though the phones are obviously running a different operating system than Apple's, Sculley says that Obi is a similarly design-obsessed company: "The hardest part of the design was not coming up with cool-looking designs," Sculley says. "It was sweating the details over in the Chinese factories, who just were not accustomed to having this quality of finish, all of these little details that make a beautiful design. We had teams over in China, working for months on the floor every day. We intend to continue that process and have budgeted accordingly." Obi is also trying to set itself apart from the low-price pack by cutting deals for premium parts. "Instead of going directly to the Chinese factories, we went to the key component vendors, because we know that ecosystem and have the relationships," Sculley says. "We went to Sony. It’s struggling and losing money on its smartphone business, but they make the best camera modules in the world."
Android

Since-Pulled Cyanogen Update For Oneplus Changes Default Home Page To Bing 87

ourlovecanlastforeve writes: Nestled into GSMArena's report on the Cyanogen OS 12.1 update for Oneplus [ Note: an update that the story reports has since been pulled.] is this tasty bite: "...you'll find out that your Chrome homepage has been changed to Bing." Then it's casually dismissed with "Thankfully though, you can easily get rid of Microsoft's search engine by using Chrome settings." as if this were the most normal thing to have to do after an OTA update. Is this the new normal? Has Microsoft set a new precedent that it's okay to expect users to have to go searching through every setting and proactively monitor network traffic to make sure their data isn't being stolen, modified or otherwise manipulated?
Transportation

Many Drivers Never Use In-Vehicle Tech, Don't Want Apple Or Google In Next Car 417

Lucas123 writes: Many of the high-tech features automakers believe owners want in their vehicles are not only not being used by them, but they don't want them in their next vehicle, according to a new survey by J.D. Power. According to J.D. Power's 2015 Driver Interactive Vehicle Experience (DrIVE) Report, 20% of new-vehicle owners have never used 16 of 33 of the latest technology features. The five features owners most commonly report that they "never use" are in-vehicle concierge (43%); mobile routers (38%); automatic parking systems (35%); heads-up display (33%); and built-in apps (32%). Additionally, there are 14 technology features that 20% or more of owners don't even want in their next vehicle. Those features include Apple CarPlay and Google Android Auto, in-vehicle concierge services and in-vehicle voice texting. When narrowed to just Gen Yers, the number of vehicle owners who don't want entertainment and connectivity systems increases to 23%.
Google

Meet YouTube Gaming, Twitch's Archenemy 94

An anonymous reader writes: As expected Google has launched its answer to Twitch, YouTube Gaming available on the web, Android and iOS. Techcrunch reports: "We played with the Android app before the launch, and here's how it works. When you open the app, you are presented with a search bar at the top, a few featured channels at the top and then a feed of the most popular channels. The current featured channels don't focus on esports like most Twitch channels. Right now, you can find a 12-hour stream of NBA 2K15, and official stream of Metal Gear Solid V, a speed run of Until Dawn and an Eve Online live show."
Android

Many Android Users Susceptible To Plug-In Exploit -- And Many Of Them Have It 61

Ars Technica reports that a recently reported remote access vulnerability in Android is no longer just theoretical, but is being actively exploited. After more than 100,000 downloads of a scanning app from Check Point to evaluate users' risk from the attack, says Ars, In a blog post published today, Check Point researchers share a summary of that data—a majority (about 58 percent) of the Android devices scanned were vulnerable to the bug, with 15.84 percent actually having a vulnerable version of the remote access plug-in installed. The brand with the highest percentage of devices already carrying the vulnerable plug-in was LG—over 72 percent of LG devices scanned in the anonymized pool had a vulnerable version of the plug-in.
Bug

Backwards S-Pen Can Permanently Damage Note 5 157

tlhIngan writes: Samsung recently released a new version of its popular Galaxy Note series phablet, the Note 5. However, it turns out that there is a huge design flaw in the design of its pen holder (which Samsung calls the S-pen). If you insert it backwards (pointy end out instead of in), it's possible for it get stuck damaging the S-pen detection features. While it may be possible to fix it (Ars Technica was able to, Android Police was not), there's also a chance that your pen is also stuck the wrong way in permanently as the mechanism that holds the pen in grabs the wrong end and doesn't let go.
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.)
Security

Cheap Thermal Imagers Can Steal User PINs 101

Bismillah writes: A British infosec company has discovered that cheap thermal imaging attachments for smartphones can be used to work out which keys users press on -- for instance -- ATM PIN pads. The thermal imprint last for a minute or longer. That's especially worrying if your PIN takes the form of letters, as do many users' phone-unlock patterns.
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.
Android

Android M's Official Name Is Marshmallow 92

An anonymous reader writes: As they've done in the past, Google has revealed the name for the upcoming version of Android with a new statue in front of its headquarters. Android's sixth version will be called Marshmallow. Dave Burke, Android's VP of engineering, unveiled the statue on Twitter. Google has also released the Android 6.0 SDK and the final M preview.
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.
Build

Video 'My Name is C.H.I.P. and I'll Be Your $9 Computer Today' (Video) 111

Think of C.H.I.P as a tablet computer that runs Linux instead of Android, "without the tablet bits," says interviewee Dave, who gave a talk -- which was mostly live demos -- at OSCON 2015. 50,000 C.H.I.P.s have already sold for $9 through their successful Kickstarter campaign, and Next Thing Co. plans to stick with the $9 price for the foreseeable future -- plus add-on boards (that they call "shields") they hope to sell you, but that won't flatten any but the skinniest wallets; given the projected price scale, you'll have trouble spending as much as $50 for a fully-accessorized C.H.I.P. unit.

"But," you may ask, "is C.H.I.P. Open Source?" You bet! No hedging here, just flat-out Open Source, from the bottom to the top, with all software (and hardware specs) freely available via GitHub. And lastly, the "I'll Be Your $9 Computer Today' statement in the headline above is allegorical, not factual. We've seen projected shipping dates for C.H.I.P ranging from "by the end of 2015" to a simple "2016." Either way, we're waiting with bated breath.
Oracle

Oracle: Google Has "Destroyed" the Market For Java 457

itwbennett writes: Oracle made a request late last month to broaden its case against Android. Now, claiming that 'Android has now irreversibly destroyed Java's fundamental value proposition as a potential mobile device operating system,' Oracle on Wednesday filed a supplemental complaint in San Francisco district court that encompasses the six Android versions that have come out since Oracle originally filed its case back in 2010: Gingerbread, Honeycomb, Ice Cream Sandwich, Jelly Bean, Kit Kat and Lollipop.
The Almighty Buck

Samsung Pay Launches In Korea In August, US In September 30

Mark Wilson writes: The main thrust of Samsung's Galaxy Unpacked event was to launch the Galaxy Note 5 and Galaxy S6 Edge+, but the company also provided some details about Samsung Pay. With so many similarly-specced smartphones vying for attention, each manufacturer needs to offer something slightly different, and Samsung is hoping that a new digital payment system will prove attractive to people. Going head to head with Android Pay and Apple Pay is Samsung Pay. As well as offering compatibility with the newly announced Galaxy Note 5 and Galaxy S6 Edge+, Samsung's payment system is supported by many of its older handsets. It will launch in its home country of Korea on August 20, and will spread to the US at the end of September.