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.
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.
Another week, another spate of security related news. In the latest of a recent run of high-profile hacks, Kickstarter announced that it had been hacked, and it was discovered that ASUS routers could be sharing files with more people than users intended. Google is looking to bolster online security with its latest acquisition -- audio-based authentication outfit SlickLogin, while Microsoft's latest partnership with DocuSign looks set to make digital signatures in Office simpler and more secure. If you were under the impression that app security was generally increasing, think again; a new study shows that an almost unbelievable 96 percent of applications have security issues.
Brian got his hands on the Lenovo Miix 2 and was reasonably impressed by what he saw. He also unboxed the much touted Nokia Lumia Icon and found it to be not dissimilar to the 928 -- no bad thing. Anyone looking for an entry-level 4G smartphone now has the Android-based Samsung Galaxy Core LTE to look forward to, complete with "Jelly Bean Plus".
Smartphones without LTE cellular connectivity are becoming increasingly rare nowadays in 4G-enabled markets, as consumers are looking towards faster data speeds to get more out of their handsets. It is no surprise then that research firm Strategy Analytics predicts that sales of LTE smartphones will grow by a whopping 547 percent year-over-year in China, the largest market worldwide.
Samsung is no stranger to 4G LTE, as many of its smartphones offer this cellular capability. To tap further into the growing entry-level market, the South Korean company has announced the Galaxy Core LTE, which touts a premium look coupled with decent specs and fast connectivity speeds on mobile networks.
South Korean maker LG has announced that its G Flex Android smartphone is set to reach 20 European countries. The roll out of the handset, that offers a curved display and self-healing coating as its main highlights, commences in February on the old continent.
"The introduction of the LG G Flex in Europe demonstrates our confidence in the global marketplace for a curved smartphone", says LG CEO Dr. Jong-seok Park. "As a premium smartphone, the G Flex will further establish LG as a brand that offers something unique for every consumer segment. This is a device that is guaranteed to start a conversation wherever it goes".
As mobile operators across the globe continue to roll out 4G LTE networks, more consumers will be able to take advantage of faster data speeds. By 2017, market research firm Strategy Analytics predicts that the technology will reach 1 billion connections. The main requirement, on the user side, is a compatible, 4G LTE device.
Nowadays, 4G LTE smartphones are increasing in number and availability, but without mobile operator subsidies consumers may still be put off by the cost. Luckily for price-conscious buyers, more vendors are lowering the admission bar by offering even more affordable 4G LTE phones. French consumer electronics company Archos just revealed that one of its latest such devices can be had under the magical €200 mark.
When Oppo unveiled the CyanogenMod version of its N1 phablet, the Chinese company did not provide any details as to whether the new model would receive Google's stamp of approval and, therefore, official access to the Play store. I was very skeptical that this would happen, seeing as CyanogenMod has never been certified for prime time use.
As some of you may know, in order for a device to officially receive Google Play access, it has to be certified by Google. This is one of the reasons why there are so many Android smartphones and tablets (mostly inexpensive ones) out in the wild that ship without any Google-branded apps and services. As it turns out, the N1 will not be part of the said bunch.
South Korean maker LG has announced a new Android phablet, called Gx, which is part of the company's G premium lineup. The device will go toe to toe against the Samsung Galaxy Note 3, sporting similar hardware specifications and dimensions.
The Gx comes with a 5.5-inch IPS display, with a now flagship-standard resolution of 1080 by 1920. LG has opted for a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 processor, instead of the more powerful Snapdragon 800 which is found in devices like the G2 and Galaxy Note 3, with 2 GB of RAM. The handset is powered by a 3,140 mAh battery.
Even though just a little over a month has passed since Google released the Nexus 5, and even less since Android 4.4 started rolling out to compatible devices, KitKat has already made its way into the Android distribution charts. It is a very impressive achievement considering that it took the third Jelly Bean iteration more than twice as long to enter the charts.
Based on the number of devices accessing Google Play in the seven days ending December 2, the three Jelly Bean iterations continue to dominate the Android landscape with a whopping 54.5 percent share, up from 52.1 percent a month before. Android 4.1 is the most popular distribution, running on 37.4 percent of all registered devices. Its growth is barely noticeable, up from 37.3 percent in early-November.
Samsung has reshaped the smartphone market with the Galaxy Note series by giving large-screened handsets mass-market appeal. The South Korean maker has sold tens of millions of its stylus-equipped phablets and other similar devices, with the recipe also being applied by rival companies, such as HTC, LG, Nokia or Sony, seeking to make great strides of their own. After all, consumers love phablets as this segment accounted for 21 percent of all smartphone shipments in Q3 2013, according to research firm IDC.
And, today, Samsung introduces a new phablet in its lineup, called Galaxy Grand 2. The device is the successor of the Galaxy Grand, which was introduced in mid-December 2012 albeit with a smaller, 5-inch display. So how big is the new model?
In August 2011, Google purchased Motorola Mobility (which was Motorola's cellular phone division prior to 2011). Google was good at software and services, but had little experience in making hardware for the mass market. Motorola had plenty of experience in building cell phones, starting with the first flip/clamshell mobile phone, the StarTAC, which was released in 1996. On paper, a good marriage, but the detractors complained that it was coming at too high a cost ($12.5 billion) even though buying Motorola Mobility gave Google ownership of a potentially valuable patent portfolio that it could use to defend itself against Apple and Microsoft.
The first child of this marriage, born in August 2013, was Moto X -- an Android smartphone that was to be Motorola's competitor to the iPhone. The main idea behind the Moto brand was to focus on user experience rather than technical specs. Focusing on the later had resulted in the Droid brand, which, although quite successful when it launched in 2009, perhaps owed most of its success due to a massive marketing campaign and the fact that it was the only decent smartphone available on the Verizon network (at that time, in United States, the iPhone was only available on the AT&T network). In 2013, with the smartphone market dominated, at least profit-wise, by Apple's iPhone and Samsung's Galaxy phones, it was time to try a new approach.
It's the iPad and the Nexus 7 that make the most headlines in the tablet market, but the fiercest competition for consumer cash in the run up to this year's Christmas holiday season will be taking place lower down the food chain.
Taiwan-based audio-visual specialist Hannspree is the latest to enter the fray with its new HANNSpad SN14T71. Offering a 13.3-inch screen it launched today in the UK with a price tag of just £199.99 ($318). The screen itself is a 10 point Multi Touch unit with a resolution of 1280 by 800. Whilst that’s pricier than other budget tablets like Tesco’s £119 Hudl, it’s squarely up against some premium smaller devices like the 16GB Nexus 7 and you are getting a lot more screen real estate for your money, albeit with a lower resolution.
Another busy week with more news than you could shake a stick at. Following the release of KitKat, Google was riding high as figures revealed that Jelly Bean is now installed on more than half of Android devices. It’s a similar story for Microsoft. Its previous operating system, Windows 7, is still the most popular while growth for Windows 8 and 8.1 remains slow. It was better news for Windows Phone which is making serious inroads into Android and iOS's share of the mobile market in Europe, and even managed to overtake Apple in Italy.
It seems that more people want to be able to use the latest and greatest version of Android, and following the announcement that the Galaxy Nexus would not receive a KitKat update, a petition was quickly launched to try to change Google's mind. Showing that the march of progress will always leave casualties, Google announced that Internet Explorer 9 will no longer be supported by Google Apps, and Windows 7 users gained Internet Explorer 11. To push the launch, Microsoft unveiled a new Anime ad campaign focusing on the browser's improved security.
Android has long been blamed for its fragmentation issues, with many pundits pointing out to the low adoption levels of the latest distributions as the main culprit. While this problem has yet to be resolved due to the nature of the operating system, it is much improved today as the Jelly Bean branch is now powering most Android smartphones and tablets.
Based on the number of devices accessing Google Play in the seven days ending November 1, Jelly Bean's market share in the Android realm is now at a dominating 52.1 percent. Combined, its three iterations have a higher distribution level than Ice Cream Sandwich and Gingerbread put together, which is a first for the green droid landscape.
When Samsung announced the Galaxy Round, the company's first smartphone with a curved display, many folks (myself included) struggled to see the real-life benefit that such a form factor would allegedly bring. The natural direction for the curve is considered to be on the long side, and not on the short one as the Galaxy Round has it. The rather gimmicky Roll Effect feature, that shows users some information when tilting the device, did not add more credibility to the touted benefits of the Galaxy Round either.
Rival Android maker LG has also announced its first smartphone with a curved display, that is called G Flex. The company markets it as the "world's first 'real' curved smartphone", in a (clever) attempt to take advantage of the negative feedback that the Galaxy Round has received so far.