Operating Systems

Google Developing 'Brillo' OS For Internet of Things 203

Posted by Soulskill
from the won't-run-on-your-brilloPad dept.
An anonymous reader writes: A new report from The Information (paywalled) says Google is working on an operating system called "Brillo" that would be a platform for Internet-of-things devices. It's supposedly a lightweight version of Android, capable of running on devices with extremely limited hardware — as little as 32 MB of RAM, for example. The company is expected to launch the code for Brillo at its I/O event next week. This is particularly relevant now that Google has acquired Nest, Dropcam, and Revolv — a trio of "smart home" companies whose devices could potentially by unified by Brillo.
Open Source

Ask Slashdot: Can SaaS Be Both Open Source and Economically Viable? 47

Posted by timothy
from the no-that-is-impossible dept.
An anonymous reader writes: The CTO behind Lucidchart, an online diagramming app, recently cited the open source rbush project as an invaluable tool for helping implement an "in-memory spatial index" that "increased spatial search performance by a factor of over 1,000 for large documents." My question is this: what risks does a SaaS company like Lucidchart face in making most of their own code public, like Google's recent move with Chrome for Android, and what benefits might be gained by doing so? Wouldn't sharing the code just generate more users and interest? Even if competitors did copy it, they'd always be a step behind the latest developments.
Chrome

Chrome For Android Is Now Almost Entirely Open Source 51

Posted by Soulskill
from the strong-work dept.
jones_supa writes: After lots of work by Chrome for Android team and a huge change, Chrome for Android is now almost entirely open source, a Google engineer announced in Reddit. Over 100,000 lines of code, including Chrome's entire user interface layer, has been made public, allowing anyone with the inclination to do so to look at, modify, and build the browser from source. Licensing restrictions prevent certain media codecs, plugins and Google service features form being included, hence the "almost." This is on par with the open source Chromium browser that is available on the desktop.
Firefox

Ads Based On Browsing History Are Coming To All Firefox Users 525

Posted by Soulskill
from the just-what-you-wanted dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Mozilla has announced plans to launch a feature called "Suggested Tiles," which will provide sponsored recommendations to visit certain websites when other websites show up in the user's new tab page. The tiles will begin to show up for beta channel users next week, and the company is asking for feedback. For testing purposes, users will only see Suggested Tiles "promoting Firefox for Android, Firefox Marketplace, and other Mozilla causes." It's not yet known what websites will show up on the tiles when the feature launches later this summer. The company says, "With Suggested Tiles, we want to show the world that it is possible to do relevant advertising and content recommendations while still respecting users’ privacy and giving them control over their data."
Android

Factory Reset On Millions of Android Devices Doesn't Wipe Storage 91

Posted by samzenpus
from the stucking-around dept.
Bismillah writes: Ross Anderson and Laurent Simon of Cambridge University studied a range of Android devices and found that even though a "factory reset" is supposed to fully wipe storage, it often doesn't. Interestingly enough, full-device encryption could be compromised by the incomplete wiping too. ITnews reports: "The researchers estimated that 500 million Android devices may not fully wipe device disk partitions. As many as 630 million phones may not wipe internal SD cards. Five 'critical failures' were outlined in the researchers' Security Analysis of Android Factory Resets paper.
Handhelds

Asus ZenFone 2 Performance Sneak Peek With Intel Z3580 Inside 106

Posted by timothy
from the doesn't-work-with-google-fi-though dept.
MojoKid writes: Asus just finally made their ZenFone 2 available for sale in the US. It's an Intel-powered smartphone running Android Lollipop that's compatible with AT&T and T-Mobile, and other cellular networks that utilize GSM technology, like Straight Talk, MetroPCS, and Cricket Wireless among others.The device is packing a quad-core Intel Atom Z3580 (2.3GHz) with PowerVR G6430 graphics and 4GB of RAM, along with Intel 7262 and Intel 2230 modem tech, a 5.5" Full HD screen, a 13MP rear camera, dual-SIM support and 802.11ac Wi-Fi. The high-end model can be had for only $299, unlocked. A $199 version with 2GB of RAM and a slightly slower Intel Atom Z3560 is also available. In the benchmarks, the Zenfone 2 offers competent though middling performance but considering Asus has priced the ZenFone 2 so aggressively, it's sure to grab some attention at retail with consumers looking for a contract-free commitment.
Linux

Rate These 53 Sub-$200 Hacker SBCs, Win 1 of 20 45

Posted by samzenpus
from the pick-your-favorite dept.
DeviceGuru writes: LinuxGizmos and Linux.com have just launched their annual 2-minute survey asking folks to rate their favorite hacker SBCs from a list of 53 single board computers that are priced below $200, supported by open documentation and Linux or Android OSes, and will ship before July. As usual, the survey's data will be made available publicly, but one big change this year is that participants can register for a random drawing that will give away 20 hacker SBCs, split equally among the BeagleBone Black, Imagination Creator CI20, Intel Edison Kit for Arduino, and Qualcomm DragonBoard 410c. (Emails submitted will only be used for selecting and notifying SBC drawing winners, say the sites.)
Firefox

Adblock Plus Launches Adblock Browser: a Fork of Firefox For Android 108

Posted by Soulskill
from the unblocking-the-blocked-blocker dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Adblock Plus has launched Adblock Browser for Android. Currently in beta, the company's first browser was created by taking the open source Firefox for Android and including Adblock Plus out-of-the-box. The Firefox Sync functionality is disabled, as is the ability to use other addons. "Adblock Plus for Android got kicked out of Google Play along with other ad blocking apps in March 2013, because Google’s developer distribution agreement states apps cannot interfere with the functionality of other apps. Williams thus believes Adblock Browser “should be fine” as it only blocks ads that are shown as you browse the Web."
Twitter

Tweets To Appear In Google Search Results 91

Posted by Soulskill
from the social-Social-SOCIAL! dept.
mpicpp writes with news that Google will now begin showing tweets alongside search results. Mobile users searching via the Android/iOS apps or through the browser will start seeing the tweets immediately, while the desktop version is "coming shortly." The tweets will only be available for the searches in English to start, but Twitter says they'll be adding more languages soon.
Transportation

The Auto Industry May Mimic the 1980s PC Industry 284

Posted by Soulskill
from the as-long-as-my-car-gets-a-turbo-button-i'm-ok-with-it dept.
An anonymous reader writes: An article at TechCrunch looks at some interesting parallels between the current automobile industry and the PC industry of the 1980s. IBM was dominant in 1985, employing four times as many people as its nearest competitor. But as soon as Windows was released, the platform became more important for most end users than the manufacturer. Over the next decade, IBM lost its throne. In 2015, we're on the cusp of a similar change: the computerized car. Automakers, though large and well-established, haven't put much effort into building the platform on which their cars run. Meanwhile, Google's Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are constantly improving. As soon as those hit a breakthrough point where it's more important for a customer to have the platform than the manufacturer's logo on the side, the industry is likely to resemble a replay of the PC industry in the 1980s.
DRM

Firefox 38 Arrives With DRM Required To Watch Netflix 371

Posted by timothy
from the chinese-finger-trap dept.
An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt from VentureBeat: Mozilla today launched Firefox 38 for Windows, Mac, Linux, and Android. Notable additions to the browser include Digital Rights Management (DRM) tech for playing protected content in the HTML5 video tag on Windows, Ruby annotation support, and improved user interfaces on Android. Firefox 38 for the desktop is available for download now on Firefox.com, and all existing users should be able to upgrade to it automatically. As always, the Android version is trickling out slowly on Google Play. Note that there is a separate download for Firefox 38 without the DRM support. Our anonymous reader adds links to the release notes for desktop and Android.
Encryption

James Comey: the Man Who Wants To Outlaw Encryption 241

Posted by samzenpus
from the man-with-a-terrible-plan dept.
Patrick O'Neill writes: "There has not been a tradeoff between liberty and security in our response to terrorism in this country and in our efforts to offer security to the people of the United States," said James Comey, now the director of the FBI. Comey was the number two man in the Department of Justice during the Bush years when NSA and law enforcement surveillance of Americans grew to unprecedented heights. Now he's pushing to stop encryption by default on Apple and Android devices.
Android

Google Can't Ignore the Android Update Problem Any Longer 434

Posted by Soulskill
from the i-bet-they-can dept.
An anonymous reader writes: An editorial at Tom's Hardware makes the case that Google's Android fragmentation problem has gotten too big to ignore any longer. Android 5.0 Lollipop and its successor 5.1 have seen very low adoption rates — 9.0% and 0.7% respectively. Almost 40% of users are still on KitKat. 6% lag far behind on Gingerbread and Froyo. The article points out that even Microsoft is now making efforts to both streamline Windows upgrades and adapt Android (and iOS) apps to run on Windows.

If Google doesn't adapt, "it risks having users (slowly but surely) switch to more secure platforms that do give them updates in a timely manner. And if users want those platforms, OEMs will have no choice but to switch to them too, leaving Google with less and less Android adoption." The author also says OEMs and carriers can no longer be trusted to handle operating system updates, because they've proven themselves quite incapable of doing so in a reasonable manner.
Portables

Ask Slashdot: Most Chromebook-Like Unofficial ChromeOS Experience? 99

Posted by Soulskill
from the get-your-company-to-pay-for-it-wink-wink dept.
An anonymous reader writes: I am interested in Chromebooks, for the reasons that Google successfully pushes them: my carry-around laptops serve mostly as terminals, rather than CPU-heavy workhorses, and for the most part the whole reason I'm on my computer is to do something that requires a network connection anyhow. My email is Gmail, and without particularly endorsing any one element, I've moved a lot of things to online services like DropBox. (Some offline capabilities are nice, but since actual Chromebooks have been slowly gaining offline stuff, and theoretically will gain a lot more of that, soon, I no longer worry much about a machine being "useless" if the upstream connection happens to be broken or absent. It would just be useless in the same way my conventional desktop machine would be.) I have some decent but not high-end laptops (Core i3, 2GB-4GB of RAM) that I'd enjoy repurposing as Chromebooks without pedigree: they'd fall somewhat short of the high-end Pixel, but at no out-of-pocket expense for me unless I spring for some cheap SSDs, which I might.

So: how would you go about making a Chromebook-like laptop? Yes, I could just install any Linux distro, and then restrain myself from installing most apps other than a browser and a few utilities, but that's not quite the same; ChromeOS is nicely polished, and very pared down; it also seems to do well with low-memory systems (lots of the current models have just 2GB, which brings many Linux distros to a disk-swapping crawl), and starts up nicely quick.

It looks like the most "authentic" thing would be to dive into building Chromium OS (which looks like a fun hobby), but I'd like to find something more like Cr OS — only Cr OS hasn't been updated in quite a while. Perhaps some other browser-centric pared-down Linux would work as well. How would you build a system? And should I go ahead and order some low-end 16GB SSDs, which I now see from online vendors for less than $25?
Privacy

Researchers Detect Android Apps That Connect to User Tracking and Ad Sites 74

Posted by samzenpus
from the don't-track-me-bro dept.
An anonymous reader writes: A group of European researchers has developed software that tracks the URLs to which cellphone apps connect. After downloading 2,000+ free apps from Google Play, they indexed all the sites those apps connected to, and compared them to a list of known advertising and user tracking sites. "In total, the apps connect to a mind-boggling 250,000 different URLs across almost 2,000 top level domains. And while most attempt to connect to just a handful of ad and tracking sites, some are much more prolific. Vigneri and co give as an example "Music Volume Eq," an app designed to control volume, a task that does not require a connection to any external urls. And yet the app makes many connections. 'We find the app Music Volume EQ connects to almost 2,000 distinct URLs,' they say. [Another major offender] is an app called Eurosport Player which connects to 810 different user tracking sites." The researchers plan to publish their software for users to try out on Google Play soon.
Windows

Android and iOS App Porting Will Not Be Available At Windows 10 Launch 51

Posted by timothy
from the all-things-in-time dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Arguably the biggest news out of Microsoft's Build 2015 conference was that developers will be able to bring Web apps, Windows desktop apps (Win32), as well as Android and iOS mobile apps to the Windows Store. Yet each of these work differently, and there are a lot of nuances, so we talked to Todd Brix, general manager of Windows apps and store, to get some more detail. First and foremost, upon Windows 10's launch, developers will only be able to bring Web apps to the Windows Store. The Win32, Android, and iOS app toolkits will not be ready in time. That said, with Microsoft's Windows as a service strategy, they will arrive as part of later updates
Android

LG G4 and Qualcomm's Snapdragon 808 Benchmarked 45

Posted by samzenpus
from the looking-at-the-numbers dept.
MojoKid writes: LG officially lifted the veil on its new G4 flagship Android phone this week and the buzz has been fairly strong. LG's display prowess is well known, along with their ability to pack a ton of screen real estate into a smaller frame with very little bezel, as they did with the previous generation G3. However, what's under the hood of the new LG G4 is probably just as interesting as the build quality and display, for some. On board the LG G4 is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 808, the six-core little brother of the powerful and power-hungry Snapdragon 810 that's found in HTC's One M9. The One M9 is currently one of the fastest Android handsets out there, but its battery life suffers as a result. So with a six-core Snapdragon and a slightly tamer Adreno 418 graphics engine on board, but also with 3GB of RAM, it's interesting to see where the G4 lands performance-wise. It's basically somewhere between the HTC One M9 (Snapdragon 810) and the Snapdragon 805 in the Nexus 6 in CPU bound workloads, besting even the iPhone 6, but much more middle of the pack in terms of graphics and gaming.
IOS

Windows 10 Can Run Reworked Android and iOS Apps 223

Posted by samzenpus
from the welcome-to-the-party dept.
An anonymous reader writes with this interesting news from Microsoft. After months of rumors, Microsoft is revealing its plans to get mobile apps on Windows 10 today. While the company has been investigating emulating Android apps, it has settled on a different solution, or set of solutions, that will allow developers to bring their existing code to Windows 10. iOS and Android developers will be able to port their apps and games directly to Windows universal apps, and Microsoft is enabling this with two new software development kits. On the Android side, Microsoft is enabling developers to use Java and C++ code on Windows 10, and for iOS developers they'll be able to take advantage of their existing Objective C code. 'We want to enable developers to leverage their current code and current skills to start building those Windows applications in the Store, and to be able to extend those applications,' explained Microsoft's Terry Myerson during an interview with The Verge this morning.
Android

Crowdfunded Android Console Ouya Reportedly Seeking Buyout 123

Posted by Soulskill
from the internet-doesn't-want-what-it-says-it-wants dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Ouya, the Android-based games console, enjoyed one of the most successful crowdfunding campaigns to date, raising $8.6 million after asking for only $960,000. But now that the console has been on the market for a while, the company is struggling. After borrowing roughly $25 million from investors to keep it going, they're now trying to restructure the debt, and reportedly seeking a buyout. "Interest in Ouya's microconsole has dropped considerably since its launch back in 2013, where it had to offer store credit to dissatisfied Kickstarter backers for failing to deliver devices on time. Following disappointing sales figures for early games, the company has tried several times to turn its fortunes around."
Encryption

Why Crypto Backdoors Wouldn't Work 105

Posted by Soulskill
from the because-math dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Your devices should come with a government backdoor. That's according to the heads of the FBI, NSA, and DHS. There are many objections, especially that backdoors add massive security risks.

Would backdoors even be effective, though? In a new writeup, a prominent Stanford security researcher argues that crypto backdoors "will not work." Walking step-by-step through a hypothetical backdoored Android, he argues that "in order to make secure apps just slightly more difficult for criminals to obtain, and just slightly less worthwhile for developers, the government would have to go to extraordinary lengths. In an arms race between cryptographic backdoors and secure apps, the United States would inevitably lose."