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Android

Headphone Users Rejoice: Samsung Reportedly Not Killing the Galaxy S8's Headphone Jack (thenextweb.com) 78

An anonymous reader writes: Contrary to previous reports, Samsung's upcoming flagship Galaxy S8 smartphone will come with a headphone jack, unlike the new iPhone 7 and 7 Plus and several other Android smartphones. The news comes from both Sammobile and Android Police. The Next Web reports: "Both Sammobile and Android Police are today reporting that Samsung is not actually killing the headphone jack. Sammobile, appears to be retracting its own report last month suggesting the jack would be dropped thanks to recent case renders, while Android Police has independently confirmed that the S8 will maintain the 3.5mm jack through its own source. In related news, Samsung's display unit may have also just given us our first good look at the S8. While there's a good chance the phone in the video is a generic model (it appears to be a render, rather than a physical object), as CNET points out, it looks an awful lot like the leaks we've seen from the S8 so far. There are also a few curious touches for a something that's supposed to be just a render, including what might be a faint visible antenna line (on the upper left corner) and a couple of LEDs or sensors to the left of the earpiece grill. By the way, there's also a definitely a headphone jack in this render."
Android

Creator of Android Andy Rubin Nears His Comeback, Complete With an 'Essential' Phone (bloomberg.com) 73

From a report on Bloomberg: Rubin, creator of the Android operating system, is planning to marry his background in software with artificial intelligence in a risky business: consumer hardware. Armed with about a 40-person team, filled with recruits from Apple and Google, Rubin is preparing to announce a new company called Essential and serve as its Chief Executive Officer, according to people familiar with the matter. A platform company designed to tie multiple devices together, Essential is working on a suite of consumer hardware products, including ones for the mobile and smart home markets, one of the people said. The centerpiece of the system is a high-end smartphone with a large edge-to-edge screen that lacks a surrounding bezel. At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in early January, Rubin discussed the smartphone with mobile carrier executives, including some from Sprint Corp., people familiar with the talks said. The smartphone, according to the report, would go on sale around the middle of this year and will cost nearly as much as iPhone 7 ($649, off contract).
AI

HTC's New Flagship Phone Has AI and a Second Screen, But No Headphone Jack (theverge.com) 205

An anonymous reader shares a report on The Verge: HTC is getting 2017 off to a flying start with an unseasonably early announcement of its next flagship phone: the U Ultra. This 5.7-inch device inaugurates a new U series of smartphones and is joined by a smaller and lesser U Play, which scales things down to 5.2 inches and a humbler camera and processor spec. HTC is touting a new Sense Companion, which is its take on the growing trend for putting AI assistants into phones, plus the addition of a second screen at the top of the U Ultra. As with Apple's latest iPhones, Lenovo's Moto Z, and the HTC Bolt, neither of HTC's new handsets has a headphone jack. The other big change on the outside is the U Ultra's second screen, which is a thin 2-inch strip residing to the right of the front-facing camera and immediately above the Super LCD 5 screen.
China

WeChat Beats Google in Releasing Apps That Don't Need Downloading or Installing (mashable.com) 69

An anonymous reader shares a Mashable report: Click on a link in China's top messaging app, WeChat, and you'll be taken to a rich app-like experience, but without needing to download or install anything. Tencent, WeChat's maker, on Monday released "mini programs." The new mini programs work within the messaging app, and the early crop at launch include a Prisma-like photo editing app, a Pomodoro Timer productivity app, a flight search engine, and one for recipe searches. With the mini programs, the already-dominant WeChat continues its march to become practically ubiquitous on Chinese handsets, where people already use the messenger for real-life tasks like paying at restaurants, to hailing a Didi Chuxing ride. Last year, Google too announced that it would soon allow users to check out apps without downloading or installing them. The feature is yet to go live.
Toys

Ask Slashdot: What's The Most Useful 'Nerd Watch' Today? 232

He's worn the same watch for two decades, but now Slashdot reader students wants a new one. For about 20 years I've used Casio Databank 150 watches. They were handy because they kept track of my schedule and the current time. They were very cheap. They required very little maintenance, since the battery lasts more than a year and the bands last even longer. Since they were waterproof, I don't even have to take them off (or remember where I put them!) They were completely immune to malicious software, surveillance, and advertising. However, their waterproof gaskets have worn out so they no longer work for me. Casio no longer makes them or any comparable product (their website is out of date).
Today's watches include everything from heart rate monitors to TV remote controls, and Casio even plans to release a new version of their Android Wear watch with a low-power GPS chip and mapping software. But what's your best suggestion? "I don't want a watch that duplicates the function of my cell phone or computer," adds the original submission -- so leave your best answers in the comments. What's the most useful nerd watch today?
Cellphones

Nokia Finally Returns To The Smartphone Market (In China) (mashable.com) 23

An anonymous reader quotes Mashable: To little fanfare, the Finnish technology company HMD Global Sunday unveiled the Nokia 6, a mid-range Android smartphone for the Chinese market. HMD owns the rights to use Nokia's brand on mobile phones. The Nokia 6, which runs the newest version of Google's mobile operating system, Android Nougat, sports a 5.5-inch full HD (1920x1080 pixels) display. With metal on the sides and a rounded rectangular fingerprint scanner housed on the front, the Nokia 6 seems reminiscent of the Samsung Galaxy S7.

The new Nokia smartphone is powered by a mid-range Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 processor and will compete with the likes of Samsung's Galaxy A series models and other mid-end smartphones... The smartphone is priced at 1,699 Chinese Yuan (roughly $250).

AI

Huawei Snubs Google, Ships An Android Phone With Alexa (reuters.com) 63

Huawei announced its flagship handset will gives users access to Amazon's Alexa assistant in the U.S., suggesting a new worry for Google, according to Reuters. An anonymous reader writes: "The adoption of Alexa by a prominent Android manufacturer indicates that Amazon may have opened up an early lead over Google as the companies race to present their digital assistants to as many people as possible, analysts said." Analyst Jan Dawson at Jackdaw Research even told Reuters that if Google's personal assistant lags in popularity when voice becomes the most popular interface, "that's a huge loss for Google in terms of data gathering, training its AI, and ultimately the ability to drive advertising revenue."

Tension may have started when Google decided to debut Google Assistant on their own Pixel smartphones. "While Google has expressed an interest in bringing its assistant to other Android smartphones, the decision to debut the feature on its own hardware may have strained relations with manufacturers, Dawson said. 'It highlights just what a strategic mistake it can be for services companies to make their own hardware and give it preferential access to new services.'"

Nvidia announced this week at CES that they'd be using Google Assistant for their Shield TVs, while Whirlpool and Ford both announced Alexa-enabled products. But this article argues Google Assistant has one thing that Alexa doesn't have: a search engine.
Operating Systems

Apple Could Finally Sell More Devices Than Microsoft In 2017 (computerworld.com) 97

Gartner predicts Apple will ship more iOS and macOS devices in 2017 than Windows-powered devices "for the first time this century," and then increase their lead over the next two years. An anonymous reader quotes Computerworld: Gartner predicted that iOS + macOS, unlike Windows, will recover in 2017. Apple's OSes will climb 8% to 268 million this year, add 3% in 2018 to reach 276 million, then increase another 3% in 2019, with that year's device shipment forecast at 285 million. Windows will dip this year, then stagnate for the following two years... The gap between Microsoft and Apple -- 12 million last year, with Microsoft atop -- will widen to 27 million by 2019, advantage Apple.

"The global devices market is stagnating," said Gartner analyst Ranjit Atwal in a statement Wednesday. Mobile phone shipments are growing only in emerging markets in the Asia and Pacific markets, Atwal added, and noted that "The PC market is just reaching the bottom of its decline." The PC industry's troubles have affected Microsoft most of all; Windows is almost entirely dependent on PC shipments, which have been stuck in a protracted slump. Future shipments were further hit when Microsoft walked away from the smartphone business last year.

The article also points out that even in 2016, Windows devices came in second, and "accounted for approximately 11.2% of the total devices, which overwhelmingly ran Google's Android."
Android

Fake Malware-Filled Super Mario Run Apps Take Advantage of Android Absence (silicon.co.uk) 34

Mickeycaskill writes: Nintendo's Super Mario Run was downloaded more than 40 million times in the first four days it was available. But an Android version has yet to materialize. An official release is on the way, but cybercriminals are taking advantage of this vacuum by spreading malicious apps masquerading as the real thing. The "Android Marcher trojan" appears as a fake landing page advertising the release of the game, where it can be downloaded onto users' devices. It then targets financial and banking apps and can modify your settings and read your contacts. The popularity of Pokemon GO last year saw similar scams emerge as users waited for the game.
Android

Google CEO Says Next Wave Of Affordable Smartphones Should Cost $30 (phandroid.com) 181

An anonymous reader writes: Google started the Android One program to get affordable smartphones into all corners of the globe. Those devices cost around $100, which is very good for an up-to-date device. However, Google CEO Sundar Pichai doesn't think $100 is good enough. Even $50 is too much. His goal is $30. "The right price point for smartphones in India is $30, and pursuing high-quality smartphones at the price point will unlock it even more." ndia currently has the largest base of Android users, and most of those users have phones that cost less than $150. Pichai went on to say that cheaper devices are only part of the solution. They also need services that can run reliably on "flaky" networks. He says Google is working on making more services adapt to slow internet.
Android

LG Is Abandoning the Modular Smartphone Idea (theverge.com) 78

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: LG's modular phone accessory strategy that served as the primary differentiator for last year's G5 smartphone appears to be no more. The Wall Street Journal reports that the South Korean company is pivoting away from the plug-in "Friends" modules for the upcoming G6 device after lackluster sales for the G5. Per The Wall Street Journal, an LG spokesperson commented that consumers aren't interested in modular phones. The company instead is planning to focus on functionality and design aspects for the upcoming G6, which Chief Technologist Skott Ahn says will be released "in the very near future." According to the WSJ, the LG G6 will arrive "in the very near future," which suggests the phone will launch at Mobile World Congress next month.
Android

Asus Unveils ZenFone AR With Google's Daydream and Tango Support, Coming In Q2 (venturebeat.com) 24

Krystalo quotes a report from VentureBeat: Probably the most-leaked device at CES 2017 so far has been the Asus ZenFone AR, through no fault of the Taiwanese company. Partner Qualcomm revealed much of the details in a blog post touting the use of its Snapdragon 821 chipset, and infamous leaker Evan Blass (evleaks) added front and back press renders of the phone. The key part that was missing was a release timeframe, which we now have: Q2 2017. The ZenFone AR stands out as the first smartphone that will support both of Google's Daydream and Tango platforms, and is only the second to support the latter (Lenovo's Phab 2 Pro was the first). Daydream is a virtual reality (VR) platform built into Android 7.0 Nougat and above. Tango is an augmented reality (AR) platform that detects users' positions relative to places and objects around them without using GPS or other external signals.
Google

Android Was 2016's Most Vulnerable Product, Oracle the (bleepingcomputer.com) 145

An anonymous reader writes: According to CVE Details, a website that aggregates historical data on security bugs that have received a CVE identifier, during 2016, security researchers have discovered and reported 523 security bugs in Google's Android OS, winner by far of this "award." The rest of the top 10 is made up by Debian (319 bugs), Ubuntu (278 bugs), Adobe Flash Player (266 bugs), openSUSE Leap (259 bugs), openSUSE (228 bugs), Adobe Acrobat DC (227 bugs), Adobe Acrobat Reader DC (227 bugs), Adobe Acrobat (224 bugs), and the Linux Kernel (216 bugs).

When it comes to software vendors, the company for which the largest number of new CVE numbers have been assigned was Oracle, with a whopping 798 CVEs, who edged out Google (698 bugs), Adobe (548 bugs), Microsoft (492 bugs), Novell (394), IBM (382 bugs), Cisco (353 bugs), Apple (324 bugs), Debian Project (320 bugs), and Canonical (280 bugs).

Android

Qualcomm Details Snapdragon 835 Processor (pcmag.com) 42

Qualcomm has detailed the Snapdragon 835 processor, which will power most of the leading Android smartphones this year. It's designed to grab information from the air at gigabit speeds and turn it into rich virtual and augmented reality experiences, according to several executives at a pre-CES briefing. Qualcomm SVP Keith Kressin said, "The 835 is going to be one of the key devices that propels the VR use case." PC Magazine reports: The hardest thing to understand about the Snapdragon 835, especially if you're thinking from a desktop CPU space, is how much Qualcomm has been prioritizing elements of the system-on-chip other than the CPU. This has been coming for years, and it can be tricky because it relies on firmware and the Android OS to properly distribute work to non-CPU components of the chip. During the briefing, it was striking how little Qualcomm talked about its Kryo 280 CPU, as compared to other components. Qualcomm tries to counter that by pointing out that this is the first 10nm mobile processor, which will improve efficiency, and also by saying the CPU is "tightly integrated" with other components using the new Symphony system manager, which operates automatically yet can be customized by application developers. This distributes work across the CPU, GPU, DSP, and more exotic components, letting the Snapdragon 835 work better than it would with CPU alone. How that will combine with Qualcomm's recent announcement that it will support Windows 10 on mobile PCs, including legacy Win32 apps, is yet to be seen. The Snapdragon 835 consumes 25 percent less power than the 820, according to Qualcomm. That means seven hours of 4K streaming video and two hours of VR gaming on a typical device, the company said. These new uses are really power hungry. Since Qualcomm can only do so much on power efficiency, it's also introducing Quick Charge 4, which supposedly charges a phone to five hours of use in five minutes and is USB-C power delivery compliant. The new Adreno 540 graphics chip improves 3D performance by 25 percent over the previous generation, Qualcomm said. But it also enables features like HDR10, which improves colors; foveated rendering, which most clearly renders what you're looking at rather than elements in the periphery of a scene; and low latency, which allows you to move your head smoothly around VR scenes. With one 32MP or two 16MP cameras running at the same time, the Snapdragon 835 supports various dual-camera functions. The Snapdragon 835 will feature the X16 modem, which Qualcomm announced earlier this year and will be able to boost LTE to gigabit speeds. The keys to gigabit LTE are triple 20MHz carrier aggregation with 256-QAM encoding and 4x4 MIMO antennas, said Qualcomm's senior director of marketing, Peter Carson. That's going to be first introduced with a Netgear hotspot in Australia this January, but Sprint and T-Mobile have said they're trying to assemble this set of technologies.
Television

Dish's New AirTV Set-Top Box Does Over-the-Air and 4K Streaming (techcrunch.com) 22

On Tuesday, Dish unveiled a new streaming device, the AirTV, which uses Android TV as its base operating system, and provides access to the wealth of Android media apps available. TechCrunch reports: But it's also able to grab over-the-air signals with an antenna for streaming live TV, and it works with Sling TV for a cable-free streaming subscription cord cutting experience. The AirTV also handles 4K, which is good news if you picked one of these up over the holiday shopping season. The 4K support will primarily grab content from Netflix and YouTube apps, but because the underlying platform is Android TV, there are other sources available, which is not necessarily true for other smart TV devices looking to bring more 4K into the living room. It's also not necessary for AirTV users to even use Sling TV, the subscription over-the-top streaming service Dish owns. Which is yet another sign of the changing world that TV and cable providers now find themselves in. The AirTV is also available in both OTA and streaming only hardware configurations, and retails for $129 for the antenna-compatible version, and $99 without.
Hardware

Samsung's Upcoming Galaxy S8 Smartphone Could Run a PC - Report (cnbc.com) 127

Samsung's upcoming flagship Galaxy S8 smartphone could give users the ability to plug it into a screen and turn it into a desktop personal computer, according to a media report. From the article: The All About Windows Phone blog posted a leaked slide from a presentation showing a Samsung smartphone being connected to a screen with a keyboard and mouse. The slide is titled "Samsung Desktop Experience" and shows a phone powering a screen to create a multi-tasking interface, presumably running on Google's Android mobile operating system. There is not much more information on the slide than a visual representation, but if this is true, it'd be an interesting feature that Samsung will tout as it launches its next flagship phone, one that is crucial to make up the fire-prone Galaxy Note 7 which was subsequently recalled.
Google

Programmer Finds Way To Liberate Ransomware Affected Smart TV, Thanks To LG (theregister.co.uk) 161

Television production factory LG has saved Darren Cauthon's new year by providing hidden reset instructions to liberate his Google TV from ransomware. From a report on The Register: The company initially demanded more money than the idiot box was worth to repair the TV and relented offering instructions for resetting the telly after Cauthon took to Twitter to express his displeasure. The infection came after the programmer's wife downloaded an app to the TV promising free movies. Instead, it installed the ransomware, with a demand of US$500 to have the menace removed. Cauthon said LG offered factory reset steps which are not publicly revealed nor known to its customer support technicians. He says a family member showed him the TV over Christmas laden with ransomware purporting to be a FBI message bearing a notice that suspicious files were found and the user has been fined.
Cellphones

Google and Facebook Dominate The List of 2016's Top Ten Apps (betanews.com) 37

After surveying over 9,000 Android and iPhone users, Nielsen's "Electronic Mobile Measurement" has calculated the 10 most popular apps of 2016. Interestingly, the #1 and #2 most popular apps of the year were Facebook and Facebook Messenger. BrianFagioli writes: Facebook holds the first, second, and eighth spots -- remember, the company owns Instagram too. Google has the most number of spots in the top 10, with three, four, five, six, and seven [YouTube, Google Maps, Google Search, Google Play, and Gmail]. Rounding out the bottom of the list is Apple [for Apple Music] and Amazon. Google Play is sort of a weird inclusion, however, as it is the app which downloads other apps -- it probably should have been excluded.

Amazon saw insane growth, seeing a massive 43 percent year-over-year gain. Instagram comes in at second place with 36 percent. Facebook Messenger scores the third spot. The biggest surprise is that Apple Music is the top streaming music app, beating apps like Pandora and Spotify...because other music apps had huge head-starts.

Android

Nintendo's Super Mario Run For Android is Coming Soon (venturebeat.com) 44

Following its huge launch on iOS this month, Nintendo's Mario auto-runner, Super Mario Run, comes to Android in 2017. We still don't have a specific release date, but Nintendo has now announced that Android users can now pre-register to learn precisely when the game will be available. From a report: Super Mario Run is up for pre-registration on the Google Play Store. To ensure that that you get a notification when Nintendo launches the mobile platformer, you can sign up for alerts on the game's market page. Once Super Mario Run launches on Android, you can grab it immediately as a free download, but then you will need to pay $10 to unlock the rest of its content after the third stage. Nintendo has already seen huge success with Super Mario Run on iOS. The publisher confirmed that iPhone and iPad owners downloaded it more than 50 million times in a matter of days, which makes it the fastest downloaded app ever in the $36.6 billion mobile gaming industry.
Android

Android Users Are So Committed that Exploding Note 7 Did Little To Help Apple: NPD (appleinsider.com) 191

An anonymous reader writes: Like loyalty to a political party or hometown sports team, smartphone users are extremely passionate about their choices -- a commitment that led many customers to stick with Samsung, despite the disaster of its downright dangerous Galaxy Note 7. Earlier this week, mobile analytics firm Flurry published data from the holiday season, showing that Apple saw twice as many device activations as rival Samsung. Despite Apple's continued commanding lead in holiday sales of smartphones and tablets, however, the numbers suggested Apple's share was lower and Samsung's was slightly higher from last year. Attempting to explain the trends shown in the data, NPD analyst Stephen Baker told The Wall Street Journal he believes that Android loyalists are committed, and even dangerous exploding batteries in the Galaxy Note 7 were not enough to push significant numbers of customers over to the iPhone. "Most of those who bought or wanted to buy a Note 7 opted for a different high-end Galaxy phone," Baker said.

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