Tag Archive: Android


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Mobile security company Lookout has continued to expand its list of Android Market applications that have been found to contain malicious code known as ‘RuFraud’. Researchers spotted 22 malicious apps by the start of the week, prompting Microsoft to offer victims free Windows Phone handsets, while five more have been discovered since then.

The titles include several horoscope apps, wallpaper utilities that offer pictures from movies such as Twilight and Moneyball, fake downloaders for popular Android games such as Angry birds, and fake free versions of other games.

Once downloaded, the apps trick users into agreeing to charges that will be applied to the bill due to SMS messages sent to premium numbers. The code appears to affect users in Europe and Asia, rather than North America.

Google has quickly pulled the offending titles from the app portal, however the situation has given credence to criticism of the mobile platform’s security features. The company’s open approach is said to make it easier for attackers to post malicious apps without encountering problems in the approval process. Fragmentation is also seen as a potential problem, as most Android handsets are running older OS versions that lack the latest security protection.

Thanks: Electronista

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When you come to talking about a major revision to the most popular smartphone operating system, it’s hard to find a place to start because there is simply so much to cover. Android 4.0 “Ice Cream Sandwich” is perhaps the second largest step Android has taken in terms of major revisions, the largest of course being Android 2.0 back in 2009 which brought a wealth of new features.

Ice Cream Sandwich (or ICS) has included a huge amount of things to Android, from a new design and unified stylings to new functionality and features. Google has followed in the footsteps of Android 3.0 “Honeycomb” for tablets by shifting to blue as the primary color, as opposed to green in Android 2.3 “Gingerbread”. The blue design glows in a somewhat futuristic way, and interface elements are squarer and more angled than before.

Throughout all stock applications on ICS is seems like they have gone for several major styles, most of which differ to previous versions:

Sharp angles and lines are commonplace. In the app drawer, around the search bar, under the text entry bay and even in the onscreen buttons, smooth curves or gradients have been replaced with single-color lines and sharp corners. The Roboto font is modern and clean. Thanks to the 720p display on the Nexus, it appears very sharp and it’s very easy to read. The sans-serif and simple design makes it feel at home in a 2011/2012 world. Black, grey and blue are the colors used, along with transparency. The notification pane uses blue/grey icons on a black background, sliding it down reveals a semi-transparent background with blue highlights. In apps, buttons are grey on semi-transparent black with blue highlights.

For the first time in my history of using Android (and I’ve used it since the Google G1), a unification has been achieved. It is absolutely essential these days in a mobile operating system that moving between included applications feels like you are still “in” the OS, and never before has Google achieved this.

With Gingerbread Google may have updated the Calendar to a new style, but left Gmail with the same style from original Android. It was an awful mess of old and new, but going through ICS feels like everything is in place. I always see the same button styles, the same layouts, the same designs and the same colors used in every single included application, and it actually makes me smile at an Android design for once.

Now this may be somewhat controversial, but I really believe that the push to the ICS style was due to the threat of Windows Phone. Using Windows Phone’s style is simply outstanding because every single application uses the Metro design language, so browsing from Messaging to the Browser feels like you haven’t left Microsoft’s world. Fonts are crisp and clean, designs are angled and minimalistic and there is a focus on text over imagery.

Of course not everything in Metro has influenced Android, in fact many, many things are quite different, but it seems more obvious than ever before how influential Microsoft have been in the mobile space. In all honesty, I don’t care that Google borrowed some aspects of Windows Phone, such as the angular design, minimalist icons and swiping panes, because in the tech industry this happens all the time.

The point is Ice Cream Sandwich feels like the first Android revision that actually has a style. A proper, unified and beautiful style that feels modern, clean and even futuristic. I love it, almost to the point where it pushes out Windows Phone from my mobile OS design preference.

Thanks: Neowin & Tim Schiesser

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Motorola’s original Droid was one of the first Android-based smartphones when it launched at the end of 2008. Since then Android has exploded onto the smartphone market with lots of new smartphones using the OS. Motorola has released two more versions of the Droid since the original along with various spin-offs; indeed the Droid 3 was just launched last July.

Now comes word via Droid-Life.com that Motorola is about to launch the Droid 4, possibly as soon as December 8, via its long time wireless carrier partner Verizon. The pictures that have been leaked of the Droid 4 make it look very similar to the recently released and very thin Droid RAZR smartphone. Like previous versions of the Droid, the Droid 4 will come with a slide-out QWERTY keyboard for people who prefer to text and email via a physical keyboard.

The hardware specs for the Droid 4 include a 1.2 GHz dual-core processor, compared to the Droid 3’s 1 GHz dual-core processor, and 1 GB of RAM (double what the Droid 3 has). Both phones have a 4-inch touchscreens and an eight megapixel rear camera. The biggest change is that the Droid 4 is the first in the Droid series that will link to Verizon’s faster 4G wireless network.

There’s no word yet as to the pricing for the Droid 4.

Thanks: Neowin

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The image of Android users as people who seek out danger and live on the edge may not be far from the truth. That’s the image that Verizon has been trying to project in some of their ads for the Droid Razr and a new study from Websense suggests that it’s an accurate portrait – but in ways that Verizon had rather not project.

The study suggests that while iPhone users are happy to stay within the bounds of Apple’s walled garden, enjoying music and video from legitimate sources, Android users spend more times exploring the web’s less reputable districts.

Unlike iPhone users, Android owners spend more time reading about guns and ‘exploding shuriken’ than they do playing Angry Birds, and many of them venture out in search of information on hacking and other ‘illegal or questionable’ activities, as shown in the chart below. Almost all iPhone users get their apps exclusively from Apple’s carefully crated App Store, but Android users have no problem getting their apps from a wide variety of unsanctioned (and sometimes illegal) marketplaces.

While a lot of fuss has been made about Google’s lack of tight control over what apps get into their marketplace, users are really sticking their neck out by getting their apps elsewhere. It’s remarkably easy for a legitimate looking Android app to be repackaged with malware and most users won’t know the difference until they are already infected.

A lot of questions have been raised about the security of Google’s mobile OS. McAfee recently reported that Android was shattering records for mobile malware, with almost all new viruses being targeted at it. While Microsoft’s Windows Phone and Apple’s iOS remain relatively safe, some security experts are suggesting that it might be wise to keep your Droid protected with security software, as reported over at Monsters & Critics. Some have gone so far as to call Android the ‘smartphone Windows of the future,’ referring to the high number of security threats targeting Microsoft’s venerable OS.

Thanks: Neowin

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slightly backtracked on its plans to drop mobile Flash entirely Monday after it stated that there was one more version coming to support Android 4.0. Where it had previously said Flash 11.1 was the last version, the company told Pocket-lint one more version would come to support the Galaxy Nexus and future devices before the end of the year. An update was also coming for the Flash Linux Porting Kit on a similar schedule.

It’s not apparent why Adobe was making the exception. Adobe may be following up on an obligation to Google, which began promoting and bundling Flash on Android and the Chrome browser, respectively. Google has been a supporter of HTML5, but it may also want Flash for one last generation of phones.

The news will still rule out any support for Jelly Bean, the next major revision of Android after 4.0. While this will lead to many 2012 Android phones and tablets still supporting Flash, it will lead to some high-end phones in the second half of the year having to rely on web standards for video and complex web apps instead of the proprietary plugin.

Companies like HTC, Motorola, Samsung, and Toshiba may be the most affected by the switch. These have often made Flash a major and sometimes central focus of their marketing but will now have to compete more on their own features than on third-party extras they don’t control.

Thanks: Electronista

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The BlackBerry is going the way of the dinosaurs. Or at least, it will be extinct soon at the rate the company is losing market share in the US. In the last three months, the company has seen a incredible drop of 15% in US market share on the same period last year.

Vendor Q3 2011 Q3 2010

HTC.         24%         14%

Samsung 21%         14%

Apple.      20%         26%

Motorola 18%           9%

RIM.           9%         24%

According to Business Insider today, who obtained the statistics from Canalys, the company dropped from 24% market share down to 9% in the three months that made up Q3 2011. It’s clear that Android is literally ripping the shares from RIM’s (almost) cold, dead hands. The numbers in the report show HTC market share being up to 24% from 14%, and Samsung market share being up to 21% from 14% in the same quarter last year.

Android’s growth is undeniable in this look at market share, and it’s only going to get even more powerful as Android 4.0 based devices hit the market in November. It’s worth noting that the drop in Apple marketshare from 26% to 20% is due to people holding off on buying iPhones before the announcement of the iPhone 4S (which was announced just after Q3 completed).

In total, HTC and Samsung now hold over 45% of the market, and its sad to see RIM losing so much ground. With the release of several ill-fated devices and a major outage this year, and the company now scrambling to get the Android app store on their platform, it may be too late for a company that’s becoming slow and out of date.

Thanks: Neowin

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As promised, Microsoft has begun pushing its Windows Phone 7.5 update to all compatible phones from around the world, no matter what the carrier or device. The LG Optimus 7 on Telefonica in Spain and Samsung Omnia 7 on Deutsche Telekom were updated on Wednesday, for example. Users can check if their handset will get the update online. If an update for a phone is not listed as “scheduling” or “testing,” it will get the update.

Major changes in Windows Phone 7.5 focus on multitasking, a modern IE9-based browser, and Twitter integration. custom ringtones, visual voicemail, new speech commands and threads in e-mails, social networks and text messages. E-mails from multiple accounts can also be funneled into a single inbox and can also be organized in a more flowing conversation view.

Firmware updates beyond 7.5 itself are being sent out to certain phones around the world. The patches will improve phone performance, fix bugs and activate new features if supported by the hardware. These updates are sent to phones on particular carriers in some countries and certain phone models.

Thanks: Electronista

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For Google and Android fans around the world, today has been a big day, as Google teamed up with Samsung to announce the Galaxy Nexus and Android 4.0 “Ice Cream Sandwich”. Many new features were shown off today at the event, including the Galaxy Nexus, so we have compiled a list of everything to know from the Google event in case you missed it or were asleep.

Galaxy Nexus

The Galaxy Nexus specifications were fully leaked an hour before they were unveiled at the event in Hong Kong. They include:

A 4.65-inch 1280 x 720 HD Super AMOLED display HSPA+ or LTE (depending on region) 1.2 GHz dual-core processor (TI OMAP 4460) 1 GB of RAM 16 or 32 GB of internal storage 5 MP rear camera with flash; 1.3 MP front camera Full HD 1080p video recording at 30 FPS; zero shutter lag Bluetooth 3.0 and dual-band WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n NFC and a barometer 8.94mm thin; 135g light 1,750 mAh battery

We also have a convenient comparison table between the Galaxy Nexus and the Galaxy S II, iPhone 4S and HTC Sensation. In most cases, the Galaxy Nexus is the victor.

The Galaxy Nexus will be available in the United States, parts of Europe and Asia starting in November; more regions to follow. You can register your interest in the device at Google’s Nexus website.

Android 4.0 “Ice Cream Sandwich”

Google announced a plethora of new features in Android 4.0, and while many improvements are visual, there are still core enhancements being made. Below we have listed some of these new features so you can quickly get an idea what Google has introduced in Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS).

Honeycomb-styled interface New Roboto typeface used throughout the UI New lockscreen featuring quick unlock to camera and notification pane access Improvements to multitasking and the notification pane Resizable widgets Quick SMS responses when rejecting incoming calls Improvements to text input, autocorrect and copy & paste Real-time voice-to-text input Full control over data usage, including usage notifications New contacts app featuring better social integration and “Me” profile More advanced Calendar and Gmail apps Improved Gallery featuring a photo editor Improved Camera app including panorama mode and easy sharing Cloud connectivity with automatic Google Chrome bookmark sync Offline access to emails (past 30 days by default) and web pages (when you save them) Face unlock using facial recognition technology Android Beam for NFC sharing of loads of content Integrated visual voicemail and appropriate APIs Integrated screenshots from hardware button combination Support for high-density mobile displays such as the Galaxy Nexus’ 720p display Many, many new APIs

For developers out there, the Android 4.0 SDK with all the improved and new APIs is now available from Google’s developer website.

The first device to be loaded with ICS is, obviously, the Galaxy Nexus, but the OS is also heading to the Nexus S at some point. It is unclear, however, if ICS will make its way to the older Google Nexus One. It is also unclear whether smartphone manufacturers will update their devices to ICS, or which devices will end up being updated. Hopefully carriers and manufacturers will announce their intentions soon.

Thanks: Neowin

Fake Netflix Android app discovered

When it comes to its streaming video service, Netflix can be access by any number of devices and software programs. That includes the official Netflix app for Android-based smartphones. But it looks like a person has now created a malicious Android app that’s made to look much like the real one. The PC security software company Symantec has sent out an alert to this fake app which it calls Android.Fakeneflic.

As you can see in the picture above, the user interface for Android.Fakeneflic closely resembles the real Netflix Android program and could easily be downloaded and installed by an unsuspecting Android smartphone user. Symantec’s alert says, “The malicious app is not too difficult to understand. Despite the fact that there are multiple permissions being requested at the time of installation – identical to the permissions required by the actual app – our analysis shows that this is, in fact, a red herring, probably used to add to the illusion that the end user is dealing with the genuine article.”

The goal of Android.Fakeneflic is apparently to record the Netflix user name and password of the affected Netflix subscriber and send that information to a remote server, although Symantec’s alert claims that server doesn’t appear to be online at the moment. It adds, “Once a user has clicked on the ‘Sign in’ button, they are presented with a screen indicating incompatibility with the current hardware and a recommendation to install another version of the app in order to resolve the issue. There is no attempt to automatically download the recommended solution.” The alert doesn’t say if the fake Netflix app is available on the Android Marketplace or if it is found on a third party app store.

Thanks: Neowin

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If you’re one of those people whose heart isn’t exactly yearning for an iPhone 4S, but you’re still craving a hot new handset, now is certainly a very exciting time, with an incredible array of amazing new hardware available or coming soon, coupled with some equally awesome improvements to the operating systems that power these dazzling new devices.

Windows Phone recently upped its game with the introduction of its ‘Mango’ update, and some of the first new handsets to take advantage of the latest version of that OS are on sale now. Perhaps the most impressive Windows Phone 7.5 handset on sale so far is HTC’s Titan, a phone that certainly lives up to its name, with a vast 4.7” S-LCD display housed in a gorgeous 9.9mm-thick aluminum unibody shell.

Many Android users will have looked on in envy at the Titan’s sleek lines. For those who prefer their OS to be served in Gingerbread flavour rather than Mango, though, HTC is ready to satisfy your tastes, with the launch of the new Sensation XL – and if you’re familiar with the Titan, then you already know plenty about the XL, for the two are remarkably similar.

Like the Titan, the Sensation XL has a single-core 1.5GHz Snapdragon MSM8255 processor. The same 8MP camera with twin-LED flash sits on the back, capable of 720p recording, also with a 1.3MP unit up front, and the same 4.7” display has an identical WVGA (480x800px) resolution. The XL gets 768MB of RAM, compared with 512MB for its Windows Phone cousin, but both share a fixed amount of 16GB of embedded storage. Curiously, for an Android handset, there’s no microSD expansion slot.

But beyond that, the Titan and Sensation XL part ways and do their own thing. The XL runs Android 2.3.5, along with HTC’s latest version (3.5) of its Sense user experience. Where the Titan arrives at the party in a very classy, understated two-tone dark grey, the XL bursts onto the scene looking like it’s ready to dance, in a rather more upbeat white and light grey outfit.

This is a handset clearly geared towards music lovers; it’s packed with Beats Audio enhancements –including profiles and presets to improve audio fidelity, plus a set of either Your Beats in-ear ‘phones or special edition Beats Solo over-the-ear headsets (depending on the retail or operator pack that you purchase.

Thanks:Neowin