Articles about Android

HP launches NFC authentication for enterprise printing

HP corporate

The increased use of mobile devices in the workplace leads to a number of issues. Not least of which is establishing control over shared resources like printers.

To address this HP has launched its first touch-to-authenticate solution for enterprise customers using NFC enabled smartphones or tablets.

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The most popular stories on BetaNews this past week March 9 -- 15

march-2014

This is the week that saw the web celebrating its 25th birthday and Tim Berners-Lee took the opportunity to call for a web bill of rights, which I argued is essential for the future of democracy.

Another week means a fresh batch of security concerns. In Europe, users were warned of the dangers of connecting to public wifi hotspots, while a new report found that cybercriminals are becoming increasingly sophisticated in their techniques. Ian was on hand with advice for anyone trying to tackle or avoid viruses.

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Facebook for Android improves photo support, group admin tools

fbook-android-200x1751

Facebook has unveiled a major update to its Android app with the release of Facebook for Android 7.0. The latest version concentrates on improving photo management for users, and also gives group administrators more control from within the app itself.

For the first time, users can now include photos when posting comments using the Android app -- it’s an overdue update, as the feature has been present on the web since June 2013 and first appeared in Facebook for iOS five months ago.

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Eek! Android WhatsApp database can be stolen and shared by other apps

phones-stealing-data

The Android version of WhatsApp, the cross-platform messaging tool recently snapped up for $19 billion by Facebook, contains a security flaw that means its chat database could be accessed by any app and uploaded to a web server without user knowledge or intervention. It's not clear whether this vulnerability has yet been exploited, but a proof-of-concept attack by Bas Bosschert (consultant, sysadmin and entrepreneur) shows that it is not only possible, but also incredibly simple. To cut to the chase, the answer to the question posed by Bas' brother, "is it possible to upload and read the WhatsApp chats from another Android application?", is "yes, that is possible".

In order for an "attack" to be successful, a user must have granted the app access to the SD card. As Bas points out, "since [a] majority of the people allow everything on their Android device, this is not much of a problem" for an attacker to overcome. Assuming this setting has been enabled, there really is very little work to be done. With a webserver at hand, it is quite easy to create an app that seeks out WhatsApp's database and uploads it ready for perusal.

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Fiverr launches new Android app

fiverr

If you have a talent -- be it singing, computer programming, or crafting -- you can make a little extra cash from it by advertising your service on Fiverr. As the name of the site suggests, most offers are priced at $5, although top-rated sellers can offer single orders upwards of $8,000. Examples of available services include recording voiceovers, providing SEO reports on websites, offering business and legal advice, and creating illustrations. I’ve used the service in the past with great results.

Fiverr already has an iOS app available, and now the marketplace is rolling out a free Android app too.

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Microsoft, Samsung 'take a leading role' backing Qi wireless charging

Wireless Charging Smartphone Wall Cable Charger Plate Pad

Qi is one of the most popular wireless charging standards, used by many companies in devices like chargers, speakers, smartphones and tablets. It adds convenience to such products, giving users the option to top up the battery on their handsets without plugging cables into them. I personally use a Qi wireless charger, made by Nokia, with my Lumia 920 and Google Nexus 7.

One of the hurdles Qi has to overcome to become more popular and attractive to consumers is mass-market support from key players, like smartphone vendors and mobile operators, which can dictate which standard they embrace. Qi appears to be on the right track, as it just added Microsoft and Samsung to its growing list of supporters.

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Say cheese! -- new Android malware can hijack your camera

Smartphone eyeball

Remote access toolkits (RATs) for Android are nothing new, but until now they've mostly targeted the Asia region.

Now researchers at mobile security specialist Lookout have uncovered Dendroid, a custom RAT aimed at users in western countries. Dendroid’s author is selling the toolkit online with payment in virtual currencies like Bitcoin and even offers a warranty promise that it will remain undetected.

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Tablet growth forecast slows as markets mature

Tablet down graph

Market intelligence specialist IDC has released the latest results from its quarterly tablet tracker. It predicts that the sales growth of tablets (including 2-in-1 devices) will be 19.4 percent in 2014, down from 51.6 percent last year.

There are a number of reasons for this predicted reduction, partly the number of new releases has slowed, and in mature markets the sales pattern will switch to replacement of older devices rather than first time buys.

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Time for honesty -- Samsung seems to have stopped fiddling with benchmark figures

rock-gold

Benchmarks are important. With so much choice in the world of computers, smartphones and tablets, a key factor for potential buyers to bear in mind is raw performance. A few months back benchmarking stalwarts Futuremark took the unusual step of delisting a number of handsets produced by HTC and Samsung after tests appeared to show that the phone artificially boosted performance when they detected benchmarking software was running. Now it looks as though this apparent cheating has come to an end.

Back in October, results published on Anantech showed how a number of popular phones seemed to be cheating the system, giving consumers a false representation of real-world handset performance. Now, according to new tests carried out by Ars Technica it would appear that handsets are behaving in a far more reasonable fashion after being updated to KitKat.

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Jelly Bean, KitKat continue their rise in Android distribution

Businessman rise stairs chalk

Google's Android distribution charts give us a fresh look at adoption trends with each monthly update. In early-March, we see Jelly Bean and KitKat continuing their rise in popularity, while older iterations of the popular open source operating system are on their descending path.

Based on the number of devices accessing the Play store in the seven days ending March 3, KitKat is running on 2.5 percent of monitored Android handsets. Its distribution share is 38.88 percent higher compared to the previous month, when it accounted for 1.8 percent. KitKat will see a stronger uptake once smartphones like the new Samsung Galaxy S4 are released, and vendors upgrade their existing devices to the latest Android iteration.

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Where have all the fanboys gone? Is brand loyalty dead and buried?

brand

This is a personal account of the way I have noticed the technology markets changing over the years. It is not gospel, and you are welcome (encouraged, if you like) to disagree… It's not all that long ago that brand loyalty was a given; it was almost the default setting for many people. If you got into computing -- and it was something you "got into" rather than just having as part of your life -- you stuck loyally to whatever brand you chose at the start. We could go back to the 70s and look at the birth of personal computing, but as this is my personal account, we'll have to start in the 80s.

I did just manage to sneak into the 70s -- being born in 1979 puts me in the difficult-to-comprehend position of being 34 years old but having seen five decades -- but an interest in computing didn't emerge until some time in the late 80s. I remember there being several computing camps: BBC, Amstrad, Spectrum, Vic and Commodore to name a few. My decision was made for me at an early age when my dad decided to invest in a Commodore 16 Plus 4 (the Plus 4 referring to the fact that the OS featured four built-in applications including a spreadsheet tool, the absurd simplicity of which was not lost on me even at a young age).

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Zombies, Run! Season 3 out next month

zombies

I went for a 5k run before starting work this morning, and as always Zombies, Run! provided me with the motivation required to not come to a stop, bored, after ten minutes. I’ve covered the immersive app several times in the past, but if you’re not familiar with it, Zombies, Run! basically turns a real-world jog into a journey through the zombie apocalypse. Episodic stories unfold in between tracks from your playlist as you run.

There are plenty of episodes on offer for regular runners, and a radio mode will give you something to listen to once you’ve finished with the main story and side quests. However, sooner or later you’ll have listened to everything and be ready for new tales, and the good news is they’re on their way.

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Yahoo and BlackBerry worm further into your life with mobile ads

ad wall

There are few people who like ads. Sure, they can be works of art -- certainly there are some advertisements that are infinitely better than a lot of the dirge pumped out by television networks -- but while advertisements on television can be fairly easily avoided (thank you TiVo -- other PVRs are available!) it is a different matter on a computer or mobile device. "Opting" to watch a mindblowing ad for Apple, Guinness or Honda is one thing, but to have unavoidable -- and usually crappy -- advertisements forced upon you whilst browsing the web or using an application is an entirely different matter.

There are groups of people who are happy to endure these adverts because they fund apps, and make it possible for developers to provide their hard work free of charge -- you may fall into this group and have perhaps been able to configure an automatic ad filter for your eyes. But there are larger legions for whom ads are just plain, damned irritating. In some instances it is possible to pay to avoid them, but this is not always the case. If BlackBerry and Yahoo get their way, advertisements are going to become rather more noticeable.

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Tablet vendors should focus more on hybrids

Businessman tablet reading coffee desk table touch

The tablet market is showing strong, continuous growth year-over-year. Research firm Gartner today announces that slate sales in 2013 increased by 68 percent compared to the year before. Android takes the market share crown after more than doubling its sales, iOS came second and Windows follows in third place.

Of the three, iOS was the only platform that did not post tremendous year-over-year growth. Android increased its sales, and lead over Apple's iPads, to 120.96 million units in 2013, up from the 53.34 million units sold in 2012. Meanwhile, Windows grew to 4 million units, which is, again, considerably higher than in the previous year when sales topped 1.16 million units. In contrast, iPad sales came in at 70.4 million units, marginally more than the 61.45 million units sold in the year before.

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The most popular stories on BetaNews this past week February 23 -- March 1

March 2014

Webcam porn! Spying! Cell phones! Bitcoin controversy! Just another normal week in the world of tech news! Bitcoin exchange Mt Gox disappeared offline amid concern about missing millions and then filed for bankruptcy. After panic spread through Mac users following the discovery of a serious SSL bug in Mavericks, Apple released an update that plugged the hole -- but it was also discovered that iOS 7 has a keylogging vulnerability. Microsoft released Service Pack 1 for Office 2013, but anyone using Office 365 will need to force the installation of newer updates in order to reap the benefits.

Security updates are all well and good for operating systems and applications, but it will do little to protect you against the wandering eyes of government agencies. As if everything we have already learned about the activities of the NSA et al, this week's revelations about what the UK's GCHQ has been getting up to is sure to raise ire. Not content with logging emails and web searches, the UK intelligence agency apparently spent a number of years tapping into the webcam chats of millions of Yahoo users. There may be little good news in this revelation, but it was at least slightly amusing to find that the surveillers were rather taken aback by the amount of pornographic content they encountered. It makes ya proud!

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