Eighth in a series. What goes around comes around. It's cliché but describes my return to Nokia after abandoning the brand five years ago. I never expected to come back, and the app experience, while a backwater compared to Android or iOS, is little different than when I left. Cameras are great and app selection limited, but it's hugely improved because of Microsoft.
Nokia was in 2009 still the world's mobile handset leader, except for one major market: The United States. As such, Symbian dominated mobile app development, even as iOS rose in prominence. (Remember: Apple opened its app store in July 2008, and the first Android phone shipped a few months later.) But the majority of apps and supporting services, developed by Nokia and third-parties, best suited the rest of the world. Americans had limited choices on the company's handsets.
Mobile security specialist Lacoon has released details of a new vulnerability in the Gmail app for iOS that may allow hackers to view or modify encrypted communications.
It allows attackers to use a Man-in-the-Middle (MitM) technique to impersonate a legitimate server using a spoofed SSL certificate.
As a test, Avast purchased 20 used and supposedly wiped Android phones and discovered that it was able to recover vast amounts of personal user data. My colleague Brian Fagioli reported the story here.
Google responded to the news, stating "This research looks to be based on old devices and versions (pre-Android 3.0) and does not reflect the security protections in Android versions that are used by the vast majority of users". It went on to offer users advice on how to make sure when selling an old mobile phone you aren’t also gifting your personal data to buyers.
Phones hit the headlines for lots of reasons -- the biggest, the most expensive, the shiniest, or just the newest. We live in times in which security and privacy are major concerns for people in all walks of life. The activities of the NSA, as revealed by Edward Snowden, served only to heighten paranoia -- the prospect of having one's phone calls and text messages intercepted is something that fills few people with joy. Enter Vysk communicastions' Vysk QS1 phone case which can be used with an iPhone 5 or 5s, and a Samsung Galaxy S5 or S4. The selling point here is that it's not just your phone that's protected, but also your privacy.
The privacy features come in mechanical and software forms. On the mechanical front there are "shutters" that can be used to obscure your phone's front and rear cameras, and there's also a jamming system for microphones. This is described by Vysk as "Lockdown Mode", but you can take things a step further. For $9.95 you can subscribe to "Private Call Mode". This introduces encryption to your texts and phone calls, with an onboard processor taking care of encryption on the fly and sent via the Vysk encrypted network. As Vysk puts it: "No one -- not even Vysk -- will know the identity of the caller or the recipient. No data is collected -- no phone numbers, call times or content - so there is no data to record. Because nothing is recorded, nothing is at risk."
A few weeks ago I took a look at Lumsing's harmonica battery pack. Now from the same stables comes the lengthily titled DCH-5U 5-Port USB Travel Wall Charger. This is a slightly different twist on the idea of providing power to travellers' devices -- this is a wall charger rather than a portable battery pack. If you're going on vacation, taking a trip, or even just hitting the office, there are your devices to consider. Your phone, tablet, MP3 player, and other bits and pieces all need power, all need their own charger.
Except they don’t. Leave all of your chargers at home, and just take a selection of USB cables -- this 5-port hub allows for up to five USB devices (obviously) to be charged from a single wall power point. The 31W/6.2A unit has two 5V 1A ports for phones, and three 5V 2A ports for tablets and devices with higher power demands. Oddly, the ports are labelled, left to right, iPad, iPad, Samsung Tab, iPhone, and Android. It would have made more sense to simply indicate which of the five were the high-powered ports, but this is a minor niggle in the grand scheme of things.
Something of a quieter week this week -- perhaps because of Independence Day and preparations there for. Still, there was plenty of news to keep us busy, including the NSA releasing a transparency report -- for what it's worth. Facebook found itself in the firing line after it transpired that the social network had been conducting psychological experiments by meddling with users' newsfeeds. Security is an on-going concern in technology, but it's something we have tendency to think about only in relation to computers and smartphones. One of the latest targets for malware and attacks is the power grid, and it's hard to tell what sort of havoc could be wreaked.
Microsoft tried to do its bit for security -- arguably in a misguided fashion -- by taking control of dynamic DNS service No-IP, and accidentally taking out a number of legitimate sites in addition to those malware-related ones -- the intended targets. In more positive Microsoft news, enhancements were made to Office 365's collaboration options. Windows Phone is still struggling in the smartphone market, but Microsoft will be hoping that this month's launch of Windows Phone 8.1 will help to improve things -- will the addition of folder support be enough? Looking further into the future, Joe pondered what Microsoft should do with Nokia. He also decided to give Windows another chance, helped along by his new Surface Pro 3.
Facebook has unveiled Facebook Messenger 7.0 for iOS and Android, a major new version of its dedicated messaging app for Facebook users.
Version 7.0 is notable for being the first version to include a native iPad build, coming three years after Facebook originally acquired the app’s forerunner, Beluga. The app also includes improvements to its video functions.
TripAdvisor LLC has unveiled a major update to its iPhone app with the release of TripAdvisor for iOS 9.0. The free travel planning app gets -- according to TripAdvisor -- it’s "biggest update ever" with the new release.
The major highlight of version 9 is offline support, but other new features include a shortcut for returning to the home screen and the ability to now find and reserve tables at restaurants.
WinZip has released WinZip for iOS 3.5, a major update to its iOS app for managing zip files on an iPhone or iPad. The latest version of the app, which is heavily discounted to just $1.99 until July 2nd, allows users to zip, extract, encrypt and share zip files safely.
Version 3.5 opens with added support for two new cloud-based storage accounts, with users now able to directly access both Google Drive and OneDrive accounts in addition to Dropbox.
Samsung Galaxy S5 may face stiff competition from the likes of HTC One (M8), LG G3 and Sony Xperia Z2, but it is doing quite well sales-wise in major markets, according to a report released today by Kantar Worldpanel ComTech. Apple's older iPhone 5s, however, still edges ahead.
"In the USA the Samsung Galaxy S5 was the second highest selling smartphone in May just behind the iPhone 5s", says Kantar Worldpanel ComTech global strategic insight director Dominic Sunnebo. "Apple loyalty is high in the US, with former iPhone owners making up just 8 percent of Galaxy S5 sales. The majority of those switching to Samsung were LG and HTC users".
The battle for dominance between Microsoft and Google continued, with Microsoft offering a huge storage boost for Office 365 and OneDrive users. This was quickly trumped by Google later in the week at 1/0 2014, when the company announced unlimited storage for Google Drive for Work users. Microsoft is basking in the glory of being heralded as cooler than Apple by Joe -- and stunts like offering cashback deals to sway MacBook Air owners into switching into Surface Pro 3 certainly helps. Microsoft opened a new store on Long Island, while Google branched out into new territory with a trial run of a new domain registration service. Microsoft also ventured into new waters with its first Android smartphone, the Nokia X2.
In something of an interesting twist, Microsoft opted to use Opera Mobile as the default web browser. Opera is also returning to Linux after the surprise release of Opera 24 Developer. Linux Mint 17 "Qiana" KDE was also released. Linux also managed to hit the headlines for facilitating the hacking of Google's Nest thermstats. If this hasn’t put you off, Logitech added support to its Harmony remotes.
Many Google fans and developers are still excited in the wake of an eventful Google I/O 2014. From a transcendent show-opener where a metaphor-heavy Rube Goldberg device crossed through the physical and digital space to more discussion on the expansion of wearable technology, there was something for everyone at this developer conference.
The US tech giant's big hitter of this year was an emphasis on improving the integration of Android apps more seamlessly into users' everyday lives. Conference attendants were also granted an unprecedented look at the figures behind Android users' buying habits in the Play Store.
Twenty-fourth in a series. Apple refreshed its aging iPod touch lineup this week, introducing a new 16GB model with an iSight camera, and lowered the price of the existing models. If you’ve been tempted to pick up an iPod touch, but were put off by the price, now is the time to go for it.
The App Store saw some excellent releases this week, including a free app which lets you store unlimited photos and videos in the cloud, a Ministry of Silly Walks game voiced by John Cleese, a travel app that covers everything from planning to booking, an origami based puzzle game, and a slot machine that lets you put pictures of friends and family on the reels. And that’s just for starters!
Opera Software ASA has unveiled Opera Mini 8.0, a major new version of its speed-optimized browser for iPhone and iPad. The browser, which uses compression technologies to speed up data transfer and browsing, gets a major overhaul with this new release, the first for over two years.
It’s also joined by a new version of Opera Developer 24.0 for Windows and Mac, which adds a new Tab Preview feature.
Security company Kaspersky Lab has published a new report uncovering previously undiscovered Remote Control System (RCS) Trojans that work on both Android and iOS. It's also mapped their massive international command and control network.
The Trojans are part of the allegedly 'legal' spyware tool, RCS, also known as Galileo, developed by the Italian company, HackingTeam. Kaspersky's researchers were able to map the presence of more than 320 RCS command and control servers in over 40 countries. The majority of the servers being found in the United States, Kazakhstan, Ecuador, the United Kingdom and Canada.