Mihaita Bamburic

Thieves beware: Android 5.0 Lollipop packs kill switch

lock key smartphone iPhone

We have known for quite some time that the next incarnation of Android will pack a kill switch. This feature has long been requested, as it would prevent unauthorized reuse and, therefore, make a serious dent in smartphone and tablet theft. It is even imposed under Californian law, going into effect next year. But even though Google has not mentioned it yet, the kill switch is indeed baked into Android 5.0 Lollipop.

The kill switch in Android 5.0 Lollipop is officially known as "Factory reset protection", and is offered as an opt-in feature which only works in conjunction with a passcode. After it is enabled, the user's credentials (Google account and password) are required in order to reset the device, to allow a person other than the original user to use the device as intended.

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Google takes the wraps off Nexus 6, Nexus 9 [Update]

Google Nexus 6

It is estimated that one in three smartphones shipped in 2018 will be a phablet, which is more than double their projected share for 2014. For Google -- with Android still likely to run on the majority of phablets -- helping developers to properly optimize their apps for larger screens has become a top priority. Ensuring that Android phablets provide a great user experience is paramount; otherwise, users may jump ship to Apple's iPhones or Microsoft's Windows Phones.

So, today, Google takes the wraps off its first phablet, Nexus 6. It is the embodiment of all the great features we have come to expect out of a phablet from late-2014: super high-resolution screen, super fast processor, solid cameras, very thin bezels and a huge battery. As expected, Google also announced a new tablet, the first one to come since July 2013, called Nexus 9. It does not disappoint either. Of course, both run the new Android 5.0 Lollipop, which is shipping in the next few weeks.

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Samsung's 5G is now 25 times faster than 4G

speed road fast

Samsung has made good progress on its 5G cellular technology, increasing transfer speeds to a whopping 7.5 Gbps from a tad over 1 Gbps in April 2013. To put things into perspective, the next-generation cellular networks are now more than 25 times faster than the fastest 4G (LTE Advanced) networks in use today.

The 7.5 Gbps transfer speed represents a new record for 5G cellular networks; it was achieved during the first successful outdoor test. Samsung says that stable transfer speeds of 1.2 Gbps were registered while traveling at 100 kph (62 mph), which is a more accurate representation of how fast the current 5G technology is in actual practice.

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Mozilla will make Firefox 34 immune to POODLE, releases fix for older versions

Security Lock

Google yesterday disclosed a major security vulnerability it has found in the SSL 3.0 encryption protocol, that is still employed by many sites across the web, despite long being superseded. Dubbed POODLE (Padding Oracle On Downgraded Legacy Encryption), it allows attackers to steal private data, like cookies, and, possibly, use it to access user accounts on vulnerable sites. The search giant says its Chrome browser should be safe, but warns that others may be vulnerable.

Firefox is one of the vulnerable ones. To address this issue, Mozilla reveals that the upcoming version -- Firefox 34, to be exact -- will feature code which makes it immune to the POODLE attack. For those who use lesser versions of the open-source browser -- most users, basically -- the organization provides an optional fix.

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Vertu unveils new smartphone for Bentley owners and enthusiasts

Vertu for Bentley lifestyle

Most people who own expensive smartphones have the latest Apple iPhone, Samsung Galaxy S or Galaxy Note device, which, at launch, costs at least $650 off-contract. Even though they are unattainable to the average buyer, tens of millions of consumers can still afford to get them. And that creates a problem for the elitist one percenters of the world, who are faced with an unusual dilemma: own a smartphone that even their chauffeurs may afford or turn to a proper luxury device.

For those who can pay €12,500 for a smartphone and just so happen to be Bentley owners or enthusiasts, renowned luxury smartphone manufacturer Vertu has unveiled Vertu for Bentley. It is the first device to come out of the new five-year partnership with the high-end British car maker. Luckily, for that much money, it certainly is special.

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Samsung's new Wi-Fi technology enables 4.6Gbps transfer speeds

speed fast highway

It is only natural for Wi-Fi transfer speeds to increase as we are getting closer to the Internet of Things (IoT). The new technology era will see virtually every single thing we can imagine being designed, from the start, to go online. That requires technologies which can cope with the extra load. But since what we have now is seemingly not good enough, Samsung, being heavily invested in IoT, has decided to take matters into its own hands.

As it works towards bringing its Smart Home concept to fruition, which is an integral part of its IoT plans, Samsung announces today that the new Wi-Fi technology it has developed, formally known as 802.11ad, will enable transfer speeds of up to 4.6 Gbs (575 MBps). In plain English it means that a 1 GB file will be downloaded in less than two seconds.

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Microsoft app lets you adjust Pen pressure sensitivity on Surface Pro 3

Surface Pro 3 Photoshop

Microsoft Surface Pro 3 is one of the greatest tablets for content creators. It can run full-blown software like AutoCAD, Lightroom, Office and Photoshop because Windows 8.1 runs the show, it rivals ultrabooks in the speed department, can double as a laptop with a Type Cover attached, offers good battery life thanks to efficient processors and, on top of all this, ships with a neat stylus as well, out-of-the-box, which Microsoft calls Surface Pen.

Surface Pen is a precise input tool, which comes in handy when users want to draw, sketch or take notes, for instance. Still, for those who would like to make the stylus even more precise in operation can turn to Microsoft's new app, Surface Hub, to adjust pressure sensitivity, among other things.

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Sony Xperia Z3v launches at Verizon

Sony Mobile Communications Xperia Z3v

For a well-known and longstanding smartphone manufacturer, Sony has an unusual strategy in the US. Its presence is limited, and few of its devices make it in the country officially. And when they do, they are about to be superseded. Proof is Xperia Z2. Unveiled at CES 2014 in January, it went on sale shortly after, but only made it to the US in late-July. Its successor, Xperia Z3, was announced at IFA 2014, early last month, and went on sale just weeks later.

However, Xperia Z3 must be the smartphone that breaks the pattern for Sony, and finally show us that the Japanese maker can get its US strategy right, as it will soon be available at two of the largest mobile operators in the country. Yes, while it is still a hot device! After T-Mobile, Verizon was just revealed to also carry Xperia Z3, albeit in a slightly tweaked version called Xperia Z3v. Here are the details.

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Rise of Macs: Apple is the fifth-largest PC maker

Apple Mac Laptop MacBook

The PC market is not what it once used to be. Both shipments and sales are in the proverbial toilet. Old devices are still adequate years down the road, and more than capable of running newer versions of Windows, if users wish to upgrade -- many don't. Other types of devices, like tablets, can do the basic tasks just as well, if not better than the PC, and, for many in emerging markets, smartphones are what they buy these days to connect them to the Internet.

There are other changes afoot as well. Thanks to the increasing popularity of its Macs, Apple, once known as a niche vendor with a limited appeal, now ranks as the fifth-largest PC maker worldwide, according to a new report from research firm IDC. How did it get here? Well, blame the lower prices, among other things.

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HERE beta officially available for Samsung Galaxy smartphones

Nokia HERE Android Samsung Galaxy

Today, Nokia officially brings HERE to Samsung Galaxy smartphones, expanding the reach of its powerful mapping software outside of Windows Phones and handsets that bear the Nokia branding. For the time being, the app is exclusively available in the South Korean maker's app store for Galaxy devices, but, later, it will make its way to other Android smartphones as well.

The HERE app may currently be labeled as a beta, but it does not skimp on features. It arrives with pretty much all the major features that Windows Phone users are enjoying from the HERE suite, which says a lot about Nokia's plans post-Lumia. Let's take a look.

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How to enable the notifications center in Windows 10 Technical Preview

Windows 10 Technical Preview Notifications Center

When Microsoft took the lid off Windows 10 in late-September, the software giant showcased some of the new features that its new tiled operating system offers in the Technical Preview build. Chief among them was the revival of the Start menu, but virtual desktops, a beefed-up Command Prompt, and Task View were also demoed during the presentation. However, even though it has been an oft-requested addition, there was no mention of a notifications center being baked-into Windows 10.

That was a major disappointment in my book, as a notifications center is a must-have feature for any modern operating system, let alone one that is supposed to run on desktops, laptops, tablets and smartphones (perhaps, even wearables). But, rest assured, Windows 10 does come with a notifications center. Microsoft may not yet want us to see it, but it can be enabled. And here is how.

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Root already available for Samsung Galaxy Note 4

Samsung Galaxy Note 4 N910 Black

Galaxy Note 4 is not yet available in most markets across the globe, as Samsung has opted for a staggered launch. However, despite the limited market availability, a well-known Android modding enthusiast has already achieved root access for the phablet.

Chainfire, the developer behind dedicated modding tools like SuperSU, has announced on his Google+ page that a number of Galaxy Note 4 models, based on Samsung's own Exynos chip as well as Qualcomm's Snapdragon 805 processor, are now supported by CF-Auto-Root. The software has been designed to automatically enable root access on Android devices.

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Who would pay more than $60,000 for an iPhone 6 prototype?

iPhone 6 prototype 2

People do crazy things to get their hands on a new iPhone. They queue for days in a row, travel to another country or pay absurd amounts on black market imports. Still, none of those things is as expensive as the iPhone 6 prototype that is listed on eBay, for which some folks will go as far as paying over $60,000. That's just crazy.

At the time of writing this article, the latest bid for the iPhone 6 prototype -- a 64 GB model -- is $61,100. For the money, you get a hugely overpriced smartphone which may not even be legit. Normally, you would pay $750, off-contract, for a 64 GB iPhone 6, in Silver -- the same color as the prototype -- that is. But, wait, there is more.

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Windows 10 Technical Preview for ARM tablets, smartphones will only come next year

Untwist your panties -- Windows 10's 'keylogger' is nothing to worry about

When Microsoft took the wraps off Windows 10, the software giant informed us that its latest operating system, which officially launches next year, will run on all sorts of devices, including PCs, smartphones and tablets, and feature a unified app store. Both are firsts, as, so far, there was a Windows to suit everything: one for ARM tablets, one for PCs, one for embedded devices, one for smartphones and so on. Of course, the Server editions will not go away, but that's to be expected.

As a Windows Phone user and watcher, I am particularly interested in seeing Windows 10 in action on smartphones. Microsoft has talked quite a lot about what the new operating system brings on PCs and tablets -- it even released a Technical Preview build for x86 devices -- but kept quiet about its plans for smartphones. Well, that has changed, thanks to Joe Belfiore, the software giant's Operating Systems Group corporate vice president (better known as the head of Windows Phone).

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Microsoft's new Portable Power external charger packs 6,000 mAh battery

DC-21-Lumia-930

While traveling, my smartphone's always running out of juice sooner than it normally does. This leads to some frustrating moments, like being unable to make calls, open a map or send texts, not to mention having to watch the percentage indicator. Not knowing where someone is, for instance, is never great news in such situations. I know I could use an external battery charger, but I tend to avoid them, and for good reasons.

They generally tend to be bulky, ugly, and almost fragile. Getting the impression that what can only be regarded as a tool is flimsy is not confidence-inspiring -- if it breaks, it's going to be a problem. Microsoft's new Portable Power appears to be different, however. And why wouldn't it be, when it has some Nokia DNA in it?

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