Tag Archive: Mobile


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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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4G high-speed mobile trials begin in London

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While American network operators proudly roll out their high-speed 4G mobile networks across the United States, there are many other nations where 4G has yet to arrive. The UK is one such example; while elsewhere in Europe, such as Germany and Scandinavia, operators already sell 4G services to customers, Britain has yet to even award spectrum licenses to carriers.

Despite this, operators are forging ahead with testing the new technologies on their networks, and today sees the launch of a new 4G LTE trial in London by O2, the UK’s second largest operator with over 22 million subscribers, and part of Spanish telecoms giant Telefónica.

This isn’t the first 4G trial in the UK – O2 has been carrying out testing in Slough, west of London, since 2009; a joint trial between BT and Everything Everywhere, owner of Orange UK and T-Mobile UK, began this year around the village of St Newlyn East in Cornwall, but with just 200 people on that trial, its scale is quite limited.

O2’s London trial is on a much larger scale, and will run through to June 2012. At its peak, there’ll be 25 4G sites active across the capital, covering 40 square kilometres in total. Two distinct trial zones will encompass many of London’s most prominent locations, including Hyde Park, Westminster, Soho and areas north to Kings Cross; and around The O2 arena (shown at the top of this article), parts of London’s Docklands, and the Canary Wharf business district in the east.

The trial won’t include mobile phones though; rather, Samsung B3730 dongles will be supplied to testers, supporting 4G speeds of up to 100Mbps, although users are expected to receive average speeds of 25-50Mbps in practice. When the network is deployed nationally, average speeds are likely to drop further, but will still dramatically exceed the kind of speeds users routinely see on 3G networks which, in the UK, averages around 1.5Mbps.

The trial will be carried out on the 2.6GHz spectrum band under a temporary license. The UK auction of spectrum allocation to the network operators should have taken place this year, but has been delayed until mid-2012; spectrum can also not be allocated until analog television signals are switched off next year.

Even once the auction is complete, operators will still have a considerable amount of work to do to build and test their 4G networks before they’re ready to sell products to customers – as a result, the first commercial 4G services aren’t expected to launch in the UK until the first half of 2013 at the earliest.

Don’t get too excited about the prospect of joining the O2 London trial either – access is by invitation only for around a thousand users in total, including premier O2 customers and selected small businesses. Staff at John Lewis department stores will also be involved in the trial to see how faster mobile broadband can be used to help businesses.

UK consumers can get a sneak-peek of the technology in action at the O2 Arena in London’s Docklands, where the company will be offering demos of the trial in action at its store and O2 Lounge.

Thanks: Neowin

Review: Droid Razr

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The Droid Razr is a phone that is using a name that helped to define Motorola in the mobile phone segment. By taking on this branding, Motorola is betting big that this device will not tarnish the name that the original Razr established. The Droid Razr retails for $649.99 or is $299.99 on a two year contract.

Hardware:

The Droid Razr comes in at 7.1mm and it definitely feels like a slice of mechanical joy that the original Razr first introduce. Coming in at just over a quarter inch thick, you begin to realize that this phone is pushing the boundaries of how thin a device can be and still retain the quality that doesn’t make it feel cheap in your hands. One thing did become clear during our review, design was placed over functionality for this device. Does the device turn heads? Yes, but is that always a good thing?

Just because a device is thin, does not mean it isn’t wide. The 4.3 inch device has a bezel that makes the device feel as if the screen is larger than 4.3 inches. With the extended bezel, the device does feel rather wide at times and those with tiny hands may not be able to firmly grasp the device.

The one thing that does separate this phone from other Android devices but does link it closer to that of the iPhone, is that the battery is not user replaceable. For some this may be a deal breaker for others, it’s a non-issue. For us, it goes both ways as if you compare it to an iPhone, it’s not a big deal but then again, in the Android community, user replaceable batteries are rather common.

Display:

Motorola is packing in the goods with the display as it comes in with a resolution of 960 x 540 Super AMOLED display which allows you to make the most of the 4.3 inch real estate provided by the Droid Razr. The screen is beautiful, but one thing to note is that it’s not the best display that we have seen as there is something awkward about how text is handled when scrolling as it becomes a bit jaded when compared to other devices.

For the average user, most will not notice the small imperfections of the screen and it does work well on this device. Those who are overly sensitive and notice the finer things in life may get annoyed with some of the blurring of text when scrolling but it is far from a show stopper.

Software:

Victory! Motoblur is not on this device, well, at least the naming of the skin is not. For the most part, a lot of Motoblur has been removed from the skin but elements of the theme are still hidden in the cracks and can still be found when using the device. There are also many free apps that come on the device and Verizon is pushing its free NFL mobile app for those on 4G for the 2011 season. There are the usual other apps such as Vcast, Blockbuster and a few others. Motorola also includes Motocast which is similar to the iCloud service.

Another interesting and useful app is the “Smart Actions”. These location based tasks are clever and quite useful. You can set them up to turn specific features on and off depending on many different metrics. You can have it adjust device settings when at work, turn off certain features when the battery hits a denoted percentage, or even automatically silence the ringer in certain locations such as the office (it can change settings based on location). They take some time to setup, but once done, they reduce the amount of times you have to change particualr settings in your daily routine.

Battery:

Motorola made big claims when introducing the phone that the battery would not be short sided in use, but we have yet to use a 4G device that doesn’t kill the battery when pulling down data. We can’t give a full breakdown of battery usage yet as we have limited time with the device but it does have a 1780 mAh battery. We noticed, as one would expect, that heavy use of 4G does impact the battery, but in a single day we made several calls, checked email, and of course, browsed the web.

The battery appeared to be standing up to this punishment but we were not exactly heavy on the 4G use either.

Camera:

Not surprisingly, Motorola is using an 8 megapixel shooter in this device. If that sounds familiar, it’s because Motorola has been using this same camera in the Bionic. There is also a 1.3 megapixel camera upfront that and as you have guessed, is used for video calling.

Overall we were generally pleased with both of the cameras. The rear camera was modest in its color reproduction and focus time was acceptable to the point that it should not impede use. It was not the fastest focusing camera we have ever used on a mobile device but it is far above the worst we have seen too. It’s well above average, especially in well lighted areas but low light pictures did begin to show noise at even modest darkness.

Video capture is above average as well. The device comes pre-set to 720P but you can bump it up to 1080P. We might suggest that if you require high quality 1080P video to purchase a dedicated device, but for a cell-phone, it does reasonably well. Personally, we will keep it at 720P as 1080P video will fill up your internal storage rather quickly.

Performance:

The device feels great in use, but is far from perfect. Actually, the only time we really saw a slowdown with the device was occasionally while browsing the web. Quadrant came back at 2700 on average over a series of tests during the day which puts it in company with many other high end smartphones.

If you were thinking that it’s really thin and that Motorola must have sacrificed on the performance to get it this thin, you were wrong. However, if you are watching a movie or any other intensive action, the device does get a bit warm.

Call Quality:

The Droid Razr is an average performer in this category. Sure, calls were easily heard and understood on both ends but definitely had a tint of tin to them. The same can be said for the speakerphone; it’s clear the thinness of the device plays into quality but it doesn’t render the device unusable, far from it.

Conclusion:

The Droid Razr is a device that will turn heads but also makes a few sacrifices to get the job done. It is by far one of the best looking devices on the market with its sleek profile and Kevlar back plate. But to get that thin profile, the device is rather light and almost (almost!), feels cheap and the display does leave some room for improvement.

What Motorola has done proves that it can compete in the design game and produce a fantastic looking device. If you need a gorgeous device that runs Android but cuts only a few corners, this is your device. But at the same time, with the Samsung Galaxy Nexus right around the corner that will also be on Verizon, it makes the decision a little bit harder.

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

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Facebook appears to have outed their long-rumoured ”Project Spartan” in a blog post. The post, since removed from a Facebook developer site but captured for posterity by TechCrunch, features a host of screenshots of a yet-to-be-released mobile app. It’s worth noting that, according to reports from company insiders and developers, Project Spartan isn’t an app in the traditional sense. Instead, it’s a complete redesign of Facebook’s mobile experience, built in HTML5 and designed, first and foremost, to run in Mobile Safari on iOS devices.

Facebook has reportedly been working with a host of third-party developers for months to ensure the full Facebook experience will be available to users when Project Spartan – or whatever name it is given -launches. TechCrunch has apparently confirmed with Facebook insiders that this is the elusive project and it is not far off launching. Spartan was pegged to launch at Facebook’s f8 event on September 22, then at a later, ”Spartan-only” event. Neither came off, but TechCrunch’s MG Siegler now reckons he’s got solid information pointing to a launch in the next week.

While there are a bunch of visual changes in the now-pulled screenshots, reports about the project have long said a new user experience isn’t really the point; instead, it’s all about taking control of Facebook’s mobile platform out of Apple’s hands and allowing Zuckerberg and co to make changes to their mobile experience without having to negotiate their way into the gated community that is the App Store.

Image Credit: TechCrunch

Thanks: Neowin

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We received a tip that claims that the next version of Android after Ice Cream Sandwich could be called Jelly Bean. Unfortunately, there is no information as to what version number Google might give this update, and we still don’t know what the official version number will be for the previously-announced Ice Cream Sandwich when it is released.

The Jelly Bean name would fit in line with Google’s convention of naming versions of Android after alphabetically sequential desserts. The publicly released versions of Android have been known as Cupcake (1.5), Donut (1.6), Eclair (2.0 and 2.1), Froyo (2.2), Gingerbread (2.3), and Honeycomb (3.0, 3.1, and 3.2). Ice Cream Sandwich was announced back at Google IO as the name of the next version to be released, though Google has yet to reveal a version number for it.

Another source says that while Jelly Bean is in contention for a name, it has not been finalized by Google as of yet. Of course, there aren’t many choices when it comes to desserts that begin with the letter “j”,so Jelly Bean could be a solid contender.

Google’s chairman Eric Schmidt hinted recently that the Ice Cream Sandwich version of Android could make its debut in October or November of this year, but there is no timeline to estimate for the version after that.

Thanks: Mobile Run

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RIM has taken the wrapping paper off of their new music service, which for BBM (Blackberry Messenger) addicts, will only feed this habit. But for anyone who uses a Blackberry and does not have hundreds of BBM contacts, the service falls flat.

The idea for the service is that for a monthly fee of $4.99, you can download 50 songs a month, via Crackberry. The twist that RIM has put into its service is that if you have a BBM contact who is paying for the service as well, you can stream their 50 downloads to your device. Also, you can only swap out 25 songs a month.

The basic concept is to build a web of BBM users and stream each other’s music, which sounds like a good idea, until you realize that if you don’t have that many contacts with the service, then your $4.99 a month doesn’t go all that far.

For those who are BBM addicts, this may be a good deal. But with Spotify, Zune Pass, Pandora and many other services out there, charging similar prices it may be a tough sell.

RIM knows that its BBM is what keeps most of its non-corporate users glued to the platform. So it’s understandable that they are trying to use that service to help maintain the loyalty. But for those of us without many BBM contacts, the new service falls flat compared to its competition.

Thanks: Neowin

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It’s been known for a while now that Google’s Android mobile phone and tablet operating system is the one that seems to get more attention by malware makers. Now a new report from anti-virus company McAfee seems to confirm that notion. McAfee, a division of Intel, announced earlier this week that it has recorded a massive 76 percent increase in Android-based malware attacks in the second quarter of 2011. That rise has put Android in the dubious distinction of surpassing Nokia’s Symbian OS as the operating system that has the most malware. McAfee speculates that Android will become an even bigger target for cybercriminals who create dangerous malware programs.

McAfee says that overall it has found 12 million unique malware samples in the first half of 2011 which was a 22 percent increase from the same period a year ago. The company claims that it now has 65 million malware samples in its “zoo” and says those numbers could expand to a whopping 75 million samples by the end of 2011.

In addition to all of the new threats against the Android OS, McAfee says that there is an increasing malware threat to Apple’s Mac OS. In the past the Mac OS had been ignored by the malware community but now the first ever fake anti-virus threat has been found for the Mac operating system. In addition more malware in general are being hidden in a rootkit program. This kind of “stealth malware” threat has increased 38 percent this year compared to a year ago.

Thanks: Neowin

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A new leak from Radio Shack indicates the retailer is near ready to go live as a Google launch partner on its Google Wallet undertaking. The leak, sent to Engadget, comes in the form of a memo to Radio Shack employees that specifically references September 1 as the date Google Wallet is ready. The functionality is more likely to go live later on in September, however.

Google Wallet is the first major NFC mobile payment system that relies on virtual cards to make payments at retailers that have the required hardware. The system requires users to enter a PIN code, encrypts the data and never shows the full card number after registration. The payments are kept from being hijacked thanks to a unique identifier created by a trusted services manager handled by First Data that is viewable by the bank and the phone.

Google Wallet requires Android 2.3 to be preloaded onto Android smartphones that also have the required hardware onboard. The search firm has stressed that it ultimately won’t be platform-specific and that it would support the iPhone if it added NFC.

Thanks: Electronista