Articles about Android

Lumsing PBJ-6200 Power Bank: A stylish phone charging solution [Review]

lumsing

I charge my iPhone 5s every night -- it's pretty much a standard routine. Although people moan about the iPhone's battery life, I have no complaints. In fact my old Samsung Galaxy S III needed charging more regularly. But every so often a little extra battery boost is required, which is fine if I'm at home, but less convenient when I'm out and about (and I have no interest in being a wall hugger). This is where an external battery pack can come in handy.

Lumsing's PBJ-6200 Power Bank has already proven to be a life saver in the couple of weeks I've had it. The device is roughly the same dimensions as my phone -- 4.88x 2.64 x 0.51 inches  (124 x 67 x13 mm) -- and has a 6,000mAh capacity, which is enough to charge my iPhone about three times (a Galaxy S4 twice, or an iPad mini once).

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Could buying Cyanogen give Microsoft some smartphone credibility?

Could buying Cyanogen give Microsoft some smartphone credibility?

I'm not going to retread old ground too much here, but there's no getting away from the fact that Microsoft has something of an image problem when it comes to smartphones. But this could be set to change. The word on the grapevine is that Microsoft -- possibly in conjunction with the likes of Yahoo and Amazon -- is interested in joining forces with, or even, buying Cyanogen Inc, purveyor of some of the finest Android ROMs known to humanity. It's a branch of Android favoured by handset owners who live and breathe tweaking, who want an OS custom made to fit them like a well-tailored suit.

Little is known about what form any future arrangement might take, or how far talks have got so far. But we do know that Cyanogen Inc has met with Satya Nadella -- as reported by The Information. It would be interesting to see where this could go. There are two possible avenues that immediately spring to mind. The first -- and probably the least likely -- is that Microsoft might consider creating custom Windows Phone ROMs. This seems somewhat improbable, but there's another option: Microsoft could be looking to muscle in on Google's Android territory. This is not as far-fetched as it might first sound.

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Smartphone shipments show strong growth as Android dominates emerging markets

Mobile graph

More than 1.25 billion smartphones will be shipped worldwide in 2014, up 23.8 percent over last year, despite a slowing of growth in more mature markets, according to the latest data from IDC's Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker.

Growth in mature markets has slowed to 4.9 percent but emerging markets are surging ahead with 32.4 percent growth. Since these emerging markets have accounted for more than half of smartphone shipments since 2011 this is perhaps not too surprising.

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Circular-faced LG G Watch R to be unveiled at IFA 2014

Circular-faced LG G Watch R to be unveiled at IFA 2014

IFA 2014 kicks off in Berlin next week, and one of the devices that will be on display is the LG G Watch R. LG is looking to expand further into the wearable market with another Android Wear watch and the killer feature this time around is a round display.

The circular Plastic OLED face has be been designed to make use of the entire surface -- there is no bezel whatsoever. In terms of looks this could be what sells LG G Watch R, as it's a device that's likely to appeal to those pandering for a more traditional look to their wearable tech.

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There is simply no reason for anyone to care about the iPhone 6

There is simply no reason for anyone to care about the iPhone 6

Let's cut to the chase. No, they shouldn't. The iPhone used to be exciting and interesting. It used to be aspirational and high-end. Now the world and his dog has an Apple handset and it's turned from something special into a poor substitute for one of the countless alternatives. This is not to say that the popularity of the device in itself makes it less appealing, but it certainly seems to have made Apple lazy. Innovation has gone out of the window. We've had the same design for the handset for what seems like an eternity. It looks as though there might be something of a change in style this time around, but is this really enough to make the iPhone exciting -- or even interesting -- once again?

By far the biggest problem with the iPhone is the lack of choice. While Android users (and even Windows Phone fans) have a huge number of handsets to choose from, the same cannot be said of those sucking on Apple's teat. Things did improve slightly when the 2013 iPhones were released, but you're still stuck, essentially, with two phones to choose from -- the really expensive over-hyped one, or the pale imitation wannabe version. Some choice. To be clear… I've been an iPhone owner. It's a functional phone, but Christ it's dull.

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HTC unveils its first 64-bit Android smartphone

HTC_Desire_510_white

Apple started the 64-bit smartphone craze in September 2013 with iPhone 5s. It was the first 64-bit device of its kind to reach store shelves and, even now, it continues to be unrivaled in this regard by competing flagships. That's because other vendors could only use 32-bit high-end processors from major chip makers like Qualcomm and Nvidia.

While that has yet to change, other 64-bit smartphones, targeting a less demanding crowd, are on their way as, today, Taiwanese maker HTC announces its first 64-bit smartphone, touted to bring "super-fast LTE connectivity at an affordable price point". It's called Desire 510.

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California brings in smartphone kill switch legislation to protect handset owners

California brings in smartphone kill switch legislation to protect handset owners

In California, a bill has been passed that will require smartphone manufacturers to include a kill switch in their handsets. The bill states that "any smartphone, as defined, that is manufactured on or after July 1, 2015, and sold in California after that date, include a technological solution at the time of sale, which may consist of software, hardware, or both software and hardware, that, once initiated and successfully communicated to the smartphone, can render inoperable the essential features, as defined, of the smartphone to an unauthorized user when the smartphone is not in the possession of an authorized user".  It's a lengthy description, but it means the kill switch that many people have been asking for for so long is becoming a reality in another state.

This is not the first time a kill switch bill has been passed -- Minnesota did something similar back in May. The SB 926, Leno Smartphones bill in California is rather more far-reaching and comes partly in response to the statistic that between 30 and 40 percent of robberies in major US cities are smartphone robberies. Once activated, the kill switch will prevent a phone from being registered on a wireless network, and cannot be bypassed even with a hard reset. In the event of theft, a user will also be able to remotely wipe their device to protect any private information they may have stored on it.

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V.BTTN is a programmable Bluetooth button that can do anything your phone can

V.BTTN is a programmable Bluetooth button that can do anything your phone can

Think about wearable tech and your mind probably jumps to watches first. V.BTTN is a little different. It's a programmable button that links smartphones, tablets and computers via Bluetooth and it can then be used to trigger all manner of events. Looking for a remote shutter trigger for your smartphone? V.BTTN can do that for you. Need a remote control to start and stop recording? Got that covered too. The device comes from VSN Mobil and is available now for $59.99. It's one of those pieces of hardware billed as having virtually limitless possibilities, but this is one instance where the claim is justified.

What the button does depends entirely on the app you decide to link it to. It's slightly more advanced than just "hit the button" -- there are short and long press options, as well as gesture support thanks to a built-in accelerometer. As standard, V.BTTN is just a button. You can stick it in your pocket or bag and carry it around with you if you like, but there are also a number of accessories.

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How many apps are smartphone users taking advantage of?

Breakup Smartphones

It's a simple question, with no apparent simple answer. A Nielsen report has shed some light on the matter, revealing that Android smartphone and iPhone users, on average, use 26.8 apps per month. But, without knowing the context, it is impossible to accurately determine what it actually translates into.

If that's 26.8 apps out of 30, the usage rate is close to 100 percent, but if it's 26.8 apps out of 100, the usage rate is close to 30 percent. A new infographic, courtesy of Yahoo Aviate and Yahoo Labs, adds some much-needed context into the picture, but does it offer an accurate answer to that question?

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China takes on Windows, Android with new homegrown operating systems

china keyboard

China really is serious about shrugging off the shackles of Windows and other Western operating systems, as the country is apparently developing its own OS which is free from the security misgivings the government has about foreign software.

According to the Xinhua news agency (via Reuters), the Chinese government is looking to boost its domestic software industry and develop alternatives firstly for desktop operating systems (namely Windows), and then it will follow those footsteps in the mobile world with an Android usurper (or that's the theory). This is according to a certain Ni Guangnan, head of an "official OS development alliance" which was put together back in the spring.

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LG officially announces G3 Stylus

LG G3 Stylus 1

Early this month, LG revealed the existence of a stylus-toting G3 version, called G3 Stylus, in a marketing video for its newly-introduced G3 Beat. Given that Samsung will shortly announce the Galaxy Note 3 successor, it has been expected that LG's new handset will be positioned as a direct rival. As it turns out, that is not the case.

Today, LG officially takes the wraps off G3 Stylus, revealing hardware specifications worthy of a budget-friendly Android smartphone. There is no high-resolution display or high-end processor. Instead, it has a modest 5.5-inch IPS panel with a low resolution of 540 by 960, and a 1.3 GHz quad-core chip. And, because of it, LG says it sits in a class of its own.

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SSL vulnerabilities leave Android apps open to attack

Android danger sign

If you're an Android user you may already have been tempted to don your tin hat and descend to your bunker following today's earlier story about app hacking. Prepare to settle in for a long seige then as new research reveals that many of the most popular Android apps have SSL vulnerabilities that leave them open to man in the middle (MITM) attacks aimed at stealing personal information.

According to threat protection specialist FireEye a significant proportion of apps allow an attacker to intercept data exchanged between the Android device and a remote server.

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Sophos looking for beta testers for new Android security software, prizes offered

photo by Slavoljub Pantelic, Shutterstock

While the claims of Android malware may be a bit overblown, it does exist and has to be a consideration for customers. That fact has brought about an abundance of software designed to combat the perceived problem.

Now Sophos is jumping into the market with an updated version of its offering, but for the moment this latest version is in a testing phase. The company is calling on Android users to begin beta testing the new offering, and the security firm is adding an incentive in the form of prizes for people willing to step up.

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Gmail app hacked with 92 percent success rate

padlock phone

Researchers from the University of California Riverside's Bourns College of Engineering have identified a weakness in Android which allows personal data to be obtained from apps.

Tested against seven popular apps the method was between 82 and 92 percent successful on six of them, only Amazon with a 48 percent success rate proved more difficult to crack. Most vulnerable were Gmail and H&R Block at 92 percent, followed by Newegg (86 percent), WebMD (85 percent), CHASE Bank (83 percent) and Hotels.com (83 percent).

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Opera Mini will see some Microsoft feature phones through their death throes

Opera Mini will see some Windows Phone through their death throes

Asha and Series 40 "feature" phones (read cheap, crappy phones) may be taking their last breath -- Microsoft plans to kill them off by the end of 2015 -- but it's never too late to try spicing things up by changing the default browser, eh? This is precisely what's happening with the ill-fated handsets, along with the Series 30+ range, as Opera Mini replaces the current Xpress Browser. Despite the seemingly short-lived nature of the deal, Opera Software is upbeat about the arrangement as, undoubtedly, will any poor blighter suffering with one of these handsets.

What is there to look forward to in the browser switch? Like other versions of Opera Mini, the version replacing Xpress Browser benefits from built-in compression that reduces data usage and helps to speed up web browsing. The deal will come as something of a surprise to many, and it has come rather out of the blue. Starting in October, Asha, Series 30+ and Series 40 handset owners will start to see notifications inviting them to upgrade, and newly produced handsets will come with the browser pre-installed.

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