Android

The Tricky Road Ahead For Android Gets Even Trickier 229

Posted by samzenpus
from the careful-around-the-bends dept.
HughPickens.com writes: Farhad Manjoo writes in the NYT that with over one billion devices sold in 2014 Android is the most popular operating system in the world by far, but that doesn't mean it's a financial success for Google. Apple vacuumed up nearly 90 percent of the profits in the smartphone business which prompts a troubling question for Android and for Google: How will the search company — or anyone else, for that matter — ever make much money from Android. First the good news: The fact that Google does not charge for Android, and that few phone manufacturers are extracting much of a profit from Android devices, means that much of the globe now enjoys decent smartphones and online services for low prices. But while Google makes most of its revenue from advertising, Android has so far been an ad dud compared with Apple's iOS, whose users tend to have more money and spend a lot more time on their phones (and are, thus, more valuable to advertisers). Because Google pays billions to Apple to make its search engine the default search provider for iOS devices, the company collects much more from ads placed on Apple devices than from ads on Android devices.

The final threat for Google's Android may be the most pernicious: What if a significant number of the people who adopted Android as their first smartphone move on to something else as they become power users? In Apple's last two earnings calls, Tim Cook reported that the "majority" of those who switched to iPhone had owned a smartphone running Android. Apple has not specified the rate of switching, but a survey found that 16 percent of people who bought the latest iPhones previously owned Android devices; in China, that rate was 29 percent. For Google, this may not be terrible news in the short run. If Google already makes more from ads on iOS than Android, growth in iOS might actually be good for Google's bottom line. Still, in the long run, the rise of Android switching sets up a terrible path for Google — losing the high-end of the smartphone market to the iPhone, while the low end is under greater threat from noncooperative Android players like Cyanogen which has a chance to snag as many as 1 billion handsets. Android has always been a tricky strategy concludes Manjoo; now, after finding huge success, it seems only to be getting even trickier.
Android

GM To Offer Apple CarPlay and Android Auto API In Most 2016 Vehicles 69

Posted by samzenpus
from the don't-forget-the-undercoat dept.
Lucas123 writes: GM today announced it will offer Apple CarPlay and Android Auto mirroring APIs on 14 of its 2016 vehicles. GM's announcement follows one earlier this week by Hyundai, which said it would offer Android Auto in its Sonata Sedan this year. Some of GM's Chevrolet vehicles — such as the Malibu, Camaro and Silverado truck — use a seven-inch MyLink infotainment system; those systems will be compatible with both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay in the beginning of 2016. Those models offering the smartphone mirroring apps include the all-new 2016 Cruze compact, which will debut on June 24. Other GM vehicles use an eight-inch version of MyLink that will only be compatible with Apple CarPlay at the beginning of the new model year. While development and testing is not yet complete, Android Auto compatibility may be available on the eight-inch version of MyLink later in the 2016 model year, GM said.
AI

Microsoft Bringing Cortana To iOS, Android 65

Posted by Soulskill
from the new-ways-for-your-phone-to-yell-at-you dept.
An anonymous reader writes: While many big tech companies have their own personal assistant software these days, few of them are available on a broad variety of devices. Microsoft has now announced that it's becoming one of those few: Cortana will be available for iOS and Android devices later this year. It's part of an initiative by the company to ensure Windows 10 plays well with all sorts of devices, even phones made by the other major manufacturers. Microsoft said, "Regardless of the operating systems you choose across your devices – everything important to you should roam across the products you already own – including your phone." This led them to develop a "Phone Companion app," built into Windows 10, that's designed to help sync a user's PC with his phone.
Android

Hyundai Now Offers an Android Car, Even For Current Owners 86

Posted by timothy
from the one-way-to-spin-it dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Looking more like a computer company than a car company, Hyundai ships Android Auto on 2015 Sonatas and unlocks it for owners of the 2015 Sonata with a software update. Says the article: To enable Android Auto, existing 2015 Hyundai Sonata owners outfitted with the Navigation feature can download an update to a USB drive, plug it into the car's USB port, and rewrite the software installed in the factory on the head-unit. When the smartphone is plugged into the head-unit with a USB cable, the user is prompted to download Android Auto along with mobile apps. Android Auto requires Android 5.0 or above. That sounds like a good description of how I'd like my car's head unit to work -- and for that matter, I'd like access to all of the software.
Privacy

Sniffing and Tracking Wearable Tech and Smartphones 53

Posted by samzenpus
from the all-the-better-to-follow-you-with dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Senior researcher Scott Lester at Context Information Security has shown how someone can easily monitor and record Bluetooth Low Energy signals transmitted by many mobile phones, fitness monitors, and iBeacons. The findings have raised concerns about the privacy and confidentiality wearable devices may provide. “Many people wearing fitness devices don’t realize that they are broadcasting constantly and that these broadcasts can often be attributed to a unique device,” said Scott says. “Using cheap hardware or a smartphone, it could be possible to identify and locate a particular device – that may belong to a celebrity, politician or senior business executive – within 100 meters in the open air. This information could be used for social engineering as part of a planned cyber attack or for physical crime by knowing peoples’ movements.” The researchers have even developed an Android app that scans, detects and logs wearable devices.
Privacy

Privacy Behaviors Changed Little After Snowden 113

Posted by Soulskill
from the just-another-speed-bump-in-the-new-cycle dept.
An anonymous reader writes: An article in Communications of the ACM takes a look at how Edward Snowden's revelations about government surveillance have changed privacy behaviors across the world. The results are fairly disappointing. While the news that intelligence agencies were trawling data from everyday citizens sparked an interest in privacy, it was small, and faded quickly. Even through media coverage has continued for a long time after the initial reports, public interest dropped back to earlier levels long ago. The initial interest spike was notably less than for other major news events. Privacy-enhancing behaviors experienced a small surge, but that too failed to impart any long-term momentum. The author notes that the spike in interest "following the removal of privacy-enhancing functions in Facebook, Android, and Gmail" was stronger than the reaction to the government's privacy-eroding actions.
Cellphones

Mozilla Drops $25 Smartphone Plans, Will Focus On Higher Quality Devices 90

Posted by Soulskill
from the disposing-of-disposable-technology dept.
An anonymous reader writes: When Mozilla developed Firefox OS, its goal was not to provide the best smartphone experience, but to provide a "good enough" smartphone experience for a very low price. Unfortunately, these cheap handsets failed to make a dent in the overall smartphone market, and the organization is now shifting its strategy to start producing a better experience for better devices. CEO Chris Beard said, "If you are going to try to play in that world, you need to offer something that is so valuable that people are willing to give up access to the broader ecosystem. In the mass market, that's basically impossible." Of course, when moving to the midrange smartphone market, or even the high end, there's still plenty of competition, so the new strategy may not work any better. However, they've hinted at plans to start supporting Android apps, which could help them play catch-up. Beard seems fixated on this new goal: "We won't allow ourselves to be distracted, and we won't expand to new segments until significant traction is demonstrated." He adds, "We will build products that feel like Mozilla."
Operating Systems

Google Developing 'Brillo' OS For Internet of Things 225

Posted by Soulskill
from the won't-run-on-your-brilloPad dept.
An anonymous reader writes: A new report from The Information (paywalled) says Google is working on an operating system called "Brillo" that would be a platform for Internet-of-things devices. It's supposedly a lightweight version of Android, capable of running on devices with extremely limited hardware — as little as 32 MB of RAM, for example. The company is expected to launch the code for Brillo at its I/O event next week. This is particularly relevant now that Google has acquired Nest, Dropcam, and Revolv — a trio of "smart home" companies whose devices could potentially by unified by Brillo.
Open Source

Ask Slashdot: Can SaaS Be Both Open Source and Economically Viable? 48

Posted by timothy
from the no-that-is-impossible dept.
An anonymous reader writes: The CTO behind Lucidchart, an online diagramming app, recently cited the open source rbush project as an invaluable tool for helping implement an "in-memory spatial index" that "increased spatial search performance by a factor of over 1,000 for large documents." My question is this: what risks does a SaaS company like Lucidchart face in making most of their own code public, like Google's recent move with Chrome for Android, and what benefits might be gained by doing so? Wouldn't sharing the code just generate more users and interest? Even if competitors did copy it, they'd always be a step behind the latest developments.
Chrome

Chrome For Android Is Now Almost Entirely Open Source 51

Posted by Soulskill
from the strong-work dept.
jones_supa writes: After lots of work by Chrome for Android team and a huge change, Chrome for Android is now almost entirely open source, a Google engineer announced in Reddit. Over 100,000 lines of code, including Chrome's entire user interface layer, has been made public, allowing anyone with the inclination to do so to look at, modify, and build the browser from source. Licensing restrictions prevent certain media codecs, plugins and Google service features form being included, hence the "almost." This is on par with the open source Chromium browser that is available on the desktop.
Firefox

Ads Based On Browsing History Are Coming To All Firefox Users 529

Posted by Soulskill
from the just-what-you-wanted dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Mozilla has announced plans to launch a feature called "Suggested Tiles," which will provide sponsored recommendations to visit certain websites when other websites show up in the user's new tab page. The tiles will begin to show up for beta channel users next week, and the company is asking for feedback. For testing purposes, users will only see Suggested Tiles "promoting Firefox for Android, Firefox Marketplace, and other Mozilla causes." It's not yet known what websites will show up on the tiles when the feature launches later this summer. The company says, "With Suggested Tiles, we want to show the world that it is possible to do relevant advertising and content recommendations while still respecting users’ privacy and giving them control over their data."
Android

Factory Reset On Millions of Android Devices Doesn't Wipe Storage 92

Posted by samzenpus
from the stucking-around dept.
Bismillah writes: Ross Anderson and Laurent Simon of Cambridge University studied a range of Android devices and found that even though a "factory reset" is supposed to fully wipe storage, it often doesn't. Interestingly enough, full-device encryption could be compromised by the incomplete wiping too. ITnews reports: "The researchers estimated that 500 million Android devices may not fully wipe device disk partitions. As many as 630 million phones may not wipe internal SD cards. Five 'critical failures' were outlined in the researchers' Security Analysis of Android Factory Resets paper.
Handhelds

Asus ZenFone 2 Performance Sneak Peek With Intel Z3580 Inside 108

Posted by timothy
from the doesn't-work-with-google-fi-though dept.
MojoKid writes: Asus just finally made their ZenFone 2 available for sale in the US. It's an Intel-powered smartphone running Android Lollipop that's compatible with AT&T and T-Mobile, and other cellular networks that utilize GSM technology, like Straight Talk, MetroPCS, and Cricket Wireless among others.The device is packing a quad-core Intel Atom Z3580 (2.3GHz) with PowerVR G6430 graphics and 4GB of RAM, along with Intel 7262 and Intel 2230 modem tech, a 5.5" Full HD screen, a 13MP rear camera, dual-SIM support and 802.11ac Wi-Fi. The high-end model can be had for only $299, unlocked. A $199 version with 2GB of RAM and a slightly slower Intel Atom Z3560 is also available. In the benchmarks, the Zenfone 2 offers competent though middling performance but considering Asus has priced the ZenFone 2 so aggressively, it's sure to grab some attention at retail with consumers looking for a contract-free commitment.
Linux

Rate These 53 Sub-$200 Hacker SBCs, Win 1 of 20 45

Posted by samzenpus
from the pick-your-favorite dept.
DeviceGuru writes: LinuxGizmos and Linux.com have just launched their annual 2-minute survey asking folks to rate their favorite hacker SBCs from a list of 53 single board computers that are priced below $200, supported by open documentation and Linux or Android OSes, and will ship before July. As usual, the survey's data will be made available publicly, but one big change this year is that participants can register for a random drawing that will give away 20 hacker SBCs, split equally among the BeagleBone Black, Imagination Creator CI20, Intel Edison Kit for Arduino, and Qualcomm DragonBoard 410c. (Emails submitted will only be used for selecting and notifying SBC drawing winners, say the sites.)
Firefox

Adblock Plus Launches Adblock Browser: a Fork of Firefox For Android 111

Posted by Soulskill
from the unblocking-the-blocked-blocker dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Adblock Plus has launched Adblock Browser for Android. Currently in beta, the company's first browser was created by taking the open source Firefox for Android and including Adblock Plus out-of-the-box. The Firefox Sync functionality is disabled, as is the ability to use other addons. "Adblock Plus for Android got kicked out of Google Play along with other ad blocking apps in March 2013, because Google’s developer distribution agreement states apps cannot interfere with the functionality of other apps. Williams thus believes Adblock Browser “should be fine” as it only blocks ads that are shown as you browse the Web."
Twitter

Tweets To Appear In Google Search Results 91

Posted by Soulskill
from the social-Social-SOCIAL! dept.
mpicpp writes with news that Google will now begin showing tweets alongside search results. Mobile users searching via the Android/iOS apps or through the browser will start seeing the tweets immediately, while the desktop version is "coming shortly." The tweets will only be available for the searches in English to start, but Twitter says they'll be adding more languages soon.
Transportation

The Auto Industry May Mimic the 1980s PC Industry 285

Posted by Soulskill
from the as-long-as-my-car-gets-a-turbo-button-i'm-ok-with-it dept.
An anonymous reader writes: An article at TechCrunch looks at some interesting parallels between the current automobile industry and the PC industry of the 1980s. IBM was dominant in 1985, employing four times as many people as its nearest competitor. But as soon as Windows was released, the platform became more important for most end users than the manufacturer. Over the next decade, IBM lost its throne. In 2015, we're on the cusp of a similar change: the computerized car. Automakers, though large and well-established, haven't put much effort into building the platform on which their cars run. Meanwhile, Google's Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are constantly improving. As soon as those hit a breakthrough point where it's more important for a customer to have the platform than the manufacturer's logo on the side, the industry is likely to resemble a replay of the PC industry in the 1980s.
DRM

Firefox 38 Arrives With DRM Required To Watch Netflix 371

Posted by timothy
from the chinese-finger-trap dept.
An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt from VentureBeat: Mozilla today launched Firefox 38 for Windows, Mac, Linux, and Android. Notable additions to the browser include Digital Rights Management (DRM) tech for playing protected content in the HTML5 video tag on Windows, Ruby annotation support, and improved user interfaces on Android. Firefox 38 for the desktop is available for download now on Firefox.com, and all existing users should be able to upgrade to it automatically. As always, the Android version is trickling out slowly on Google Play. Note that there is a separate download for Firefox 38 without the DRM support. Our anonymous reader adds links to the release notes for desktop and Android.
Encryption

James Comey: the Man Who Wants To Outlaw Encryption 241

Posted by samzenpus
from the man-with-a-terrible-plan dept.
Patrick O'Neill writes: "There has not been a tradeoff between liberty and security in our response to terrorism in this country and in our efforts to offer security to the people of the United States," said James Comey, now the director of the FBI. Comey was the number two man in the Department of Justice during the Bush years when NSA and law enforcement surveillance of Americans grew to unprecedented heights. Now he's pushing to stop encryption by default on Apple and Android devices.
Android

Google Can't Ignore the Android Update Problem Any Longer 434

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

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