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Google

Judge Skewers Oracle Attorney For Revealing Google, Apple Trade Secrets (arstechnica.com) 49

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: The federal judge who presided over the Google-Oracle API copyright infringement trial excoriated one of Oracle's lawyers Thursday for disclosing confidential information in open court earlier this year. The confidential information included financial figures stating that Google generated $31 billion in revenue and $22 billion in profits from the Android operating system in the wake of its 2008 debut. The Oracle attorney, Annette Hurst, also revealed another trade secret: Google paid Apple $1 billion in 2014 to include Google search on iPhones. Judge William Alsup of San Francisco has been presiding over the copyright infringement trial since 2010, when Oracle lodged a lawsuit claiming that Google's Android operating system infringed Oracle's Java APIs. After two trials and various trips to the appellate courts, a San Francisco federal jury concluded in May that Google's use of the APIs amounted to fair use. Oracle's motion before Alsup for a third trial is pending. Oracle argues that Google tainted the verdict by concealing a plan to extend Android on desktop and laptop computers. As this legal saga was playing out, Hurst blurted out the confidential figures during a January 14 pre-trial hearing, despite those numbers being protected by a court order. The transcript of that proceeding has been erased from the public record. But the genie is out of the bottle. Google lodged a motion (PDF) for sanctions and a contempt finding against Hurst for unveiling a closely guarded secret of the mobile phone wars. During a hearing on that motion Thursday, Judge Alsup had a back-and-forth with Hurst's attorney, former San Francisco U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag. According to the San Francisco legal journal The Recorder, Haag said that her client Hurst -- of the law firm Orrick, Herrington and Sutcliffe -- should not be sanctioned because of "one arguable mistake made through the course of a very complex litigation."
Google

Google To Introduce Google Wifi, Google Home and 4K Chromecast Ultra Devices On October 4th (androidpolice.com) 47

Android Police has learned of a new Google device that will launch alongside the Google Pixel smartphones, Google Home, and 4K 'Chromecast Ultra' dongle on October 4th. Called Google Wifi, the Wi-Fi router will cost $129 and contain several "smart" features. Android Police reports: [The] source additionally claims that Google will advertise the router as having "smart" features -- probably similar to OnHub in some respects -- and that Google will claim it provides enhanced range over typical Wi-Fi routers (a claim we see basically every router make, to be fair). But the one thing that will make it an insta-buy for many over OnHub? Our source claims multiple Google Wifi access points (two or more) can be linked together to create one large wireless network. We don't have any details on how this works, unfortunately. But one source claims that Google Wifi device will essentially be like a little white Amazon Echo Dot. So, relatively small and inconspicuous. In a separate report, Android Police details Google's upcoming smart speaker called Google Home, along with their upcoming 4K 'Chromecast Ultra' devices. Specifically, they will be priced at $129 and $69 respectively: Google Home was announced at Google I/O in May. Our sources also confirmed that the personalized base covers Google showed at I/O will be a feature of the final device. $129 also undercuts Amazon's Echo by a full $40, and though matches the price of the portable Amazon Tap, it's clear Google has Amazon's flagship smart home product in its sights with Home. Chromecast Ultra, which we are now all but certain is the name of Google's upcoming 4K version of Chromecast, will come in at $69 retail. As for what it brings beyond 4K, one of our sources claims that HDR is indeed on the list of bullet points.
Android

Google Play Starts Bringing Android Apps To Chromebooks (venturebeat.com) 14

An anonymous reader quotes a report from VentureBeat: As promised, Google has finally brought the Google Play store to Chrome OS. Android apps, Android games, and media content from the store are all now finally available on Chromebooks running the latest stable build. But that still doesn't mean all Chromebook owners can use the store. This continues to be a gradual rollout -- even on the stable channel, Google is limiting the launch in multiple ways. "A beta release of the Play store is available to users now on the Acer R11 and Asus Flip (and coming soon to Pixel 2015) and can be enabled from the Settings page," a Google spokesperson told VentureBeat. "The team is hard at work making the experience great for users before making the Play Store available by default on these Chromebooks." That's right -- even though we're still talking about just three devices, the Play store is disabled by default. Once you've updated to version 53.0.2785.129 (make sure to switch back to the stable channel if you aren't already on it), you'll have to enable the Play Store in Chrome Settings.
Google

Google Backs Off On Previously Announced Allo Privacy Feature (theverge.com) 84

When Google first unveiled its Allo messaging app, the company said it would not keep a log of chats you have with people when in incognito mode. The company released Allo for iOS and Android users last night, and it seems it is reneging on some of those promises. The Verge reports:The version of Allo rolling out today will store all non-incognito messages by default -- a clear change from Google's earlier statements that the app would only store messages transiently and in non-identifiable form. The records will now persist until the user actively deletes them, giving Google default access to a full history of conversations in the app. Users can also avoid the logging by using Alo's Incognito Mode, which is still fully end-to-end encrypted and unchanged from the initial announcement. Like Hangouts and Gmail, Allo messages will still be encrypted between the device and Google servers, and stored on servers using encryption that leaves the messages accessible to Google's algorithms. According to Google, the change was made to improve the Allo assistant's smart reply feature, which generates suggested responses to a given conversation. Like most machine learning systems, the smart replies work better with more data. As the Allo team tested those replies, they decided the performance boost from permanently stored messages was worth giving up privacy benefits of transient storage.
Communications

Google Allo Messaging App Launches For iOS and Android (phonedog.com) 98

An anonymous reader writes: Google has officially launched their long-awaited messaging app for iOS and Android, called Google Allo. There are several unique features associated with this app that Google hopes will win you over. Smart Reply lets you respond to messages with just a tap, so you can send a quick "yup" in response to a friend asking "Are you on your way?" It will also suggest responses for photos. For example, if you send a picture of a dog, Smart Reply might suggest a heart emoji or "Super cute!" message, which you can select and send with a tap. Google says Smart Reply will improve over time and adjust to your style. You can also send large or small text and emojis, as well as draw on pictures. There's an incognito mode that will activate end-to-end encryption, discreet notifications, and message expiration on your chats. Arguably best of all is the Google Assistant that can be added to your chats to automatically cater useful information to you depending on what is being conversed in the chat. For example, it can deliver news, weather, traffic, sports or your upcoming flight status to your chat. You can also ask your Assistant to "share that funny YouTube video or play games with friends right in your group chat." Google Allo is rolling out to Android and iOS starting today.
Mozilla

Firefox 49 Arrives With Improvements (venturebeat.com) 129

An anonymous reader writes: Mozilla today launched Firefox 49 for Windows, Mac, Linux, and Android. The new version includes expanded multi-process support, improvements to Reader Mode, and offline page viewing on Android. The built-in voice and video calling feature Firefox Hello, meanwhile, has been removed from the browser. First up, Firefox 49 brings two improvements to Reader Mode. You can now adjust the text (width and line spacing), fonts, and even change the theme from light to dark. There is also a new Narrate option that reads the content of the page aloud. Next is the Mozilla's crusade to enable multi-process support, a feature that has been in development for years as part of the Electrolysis project. With the release of Firefox 48, Mozilla enabled multi-process support for 1 percent of users, slowly ramping up to nearly half of the Firefox Release channel. Initial tests showed a 400 percent improvement in overall responsiveness.Mozilla says at least "half a billion people around the world" use its Firefox browser.
Google

Google Launches 'Google Trips' Personalized Travel Planner (techcrunch.com) 38

Google has an app for just about everything. Their latest application, called Google Trips, aims to help you better plan your vacations and other travels. TechCrunch reports: Called Google Trips, the iOS and Android app pulls in a combination of data from Google Maps and crowdsourced contributions from other travels, in order to offer a personalized travel guide that helps you keep track of your day trips, reservations, points of interest, tourist attractions, restaurants and more. The home screen includes a search box with a prompt "where do you want to go?" for planning new trips, and other cards let you keep track of your current and upcoming vacations and plans. What's helpful is that each city you plan to visit during one of your trips can each have its own tab within the larger "Trip" section, and with a simple toggle switch, you can download all the information about that destination for offline access. Meanwhile, on each city's screen, a variety of colorful cards help you jump into various sections like "Saved places," "Day Plans," "Food and Drink," "Getting around," "Things to do," "Reservations," and more. Google says Trips can show you the most popular day plans and itineraries for the top 200 cities worldwide. This information is actually based on historic visit data from other travelers, which Google has then assembled into lists that include the most popular sights and attractions. In addition to sightseeing, the app can also track flight, hotel, car and restaurant reservations, which makes the app something of a competitor to Concur's TripIt, and, to some extend, the new territory Airbnb is carving out with its own forthcoming Airbnb Trips app, which will focus on travel services. However, what makes Google Trips compelling is that it leverages Google's ability to tap into the data you have stored in your Gmail, as it automatically gathers your reservations from your email and organizes them into trips on your behalf. Google Trips is live now on Android and iOS.
Android

Samsung's Latest Note 7 Battery Fix Violates Android Compatibility Docs (arstechnica.com) 117

Over the past few days, we have extensively talked about the Galaxy Note 7 -- and its faulty battery. Amid announcements of a global recall, Samsung noted that it is rolling out a firmware update to let users know if their device is affected by the faulty battery. If the battery icon on the device turns green, it means the device is safe to use. The problem is that according to Google's Android Compatibility Definition Document, a set of guidelines that Google imposes on every OEM that opts for Google Mobile Services-enabled Android aren't supposed to tinker with things like battery icon. ArsTechnica reports:In the CDD, Google also defines some of the interface design -- usually the parts apps need to interact with, like the System UI and shared theme assets. This includes mandating the color of the status bar icons, which seems to throw a wrench in Samsung's publicized plans. The section titled "3.8.6. Themes" reads: "Android device implementations MUST use white for system status icons (such as signal strength and battery level) and notifications issued by the system, unless the icon is indicating a problematic status or an app requests a light status bar using the SYSTEM_UI_FLAG_LIGHT_STATUS_BAR flag." Google spells it out pretty clearly: status bar icons have to be white. They aren't allowed to be green, which is the color Samsung plans to use in a future update.
Chrome

Google Chrome Beta For Android Now Lets You Play YouTube In the Background (techtimes.com) 51

The recently released version of Chrome on Android -- v54 (albeit in beta) -- finally brings a feature that users have been requesting for years: it lets them play YouTube songs in the background. Much like some of you, there are many out there who prefer listening to songs on YouTube instead of getting a subscription or otherwise downloading a music-streaming service. From a TechTimes report: With version 54, Google introduced a handful of updates to Chrome Beta. The new version introduces a handful of features that include background video and playback and a redesigned new tab page, among others. Among the features that are packed in the said beta version, background video playback is perhaps the most significant. In older iterations of Chrome, including version 53, videos will get paused once a new app is opened or after switching to the home screen. In version 54 beta, the videos will still get paused automatically but Android users are provided with an option to resume them via a media notification. Audio from the video will continuously be heard while using other apps.
Android

Run Android 6.0 Marshmallow on Your PC With Android-x86 6.0 (softpedia.com) 90

This week saw the first stable release of Android-x86 6.0 (marshmallow-x86) -- and a new version of Remix OS for PC, a PC-optimized version of Android. Slashdot reader prisoninmate quotes Softpedia: Android-x86 6.0 has been in the works since early this year, and it received a total of two RC (Release Candidate) builds during its entire development cycle, one in June and another in August. After joining the Remix OS team, Chih-Wei Huang now has all the reasons to update and improve its Android-x86 system for the latest Android releases. Therefore, as you might have guessed already, Android-x86 6.0 is the first stable version of the project to be based on Google's Linux kernel-based Android 6.0 Marshmallow mobile operating system, and includes the most recent AOSP (Android Open Source Project) security updates too.

Under the hood, Android-x86 6.0 is using the long-term supported Linux 4.4.20 kernel with an updated graphics stack based on Mesa 12.0.2 3D Graphics Library, and offers support for Samsung's F2FS file system for SSD drives, better Wi-Fi support after resume and suspend, and initial HDMI audio support.

Security

Over 500K People Have Installed a Pokemon Go-Related App That Roots and Hijacks Android Devices (softpedia.com) 57

An anonymous reader writes: Over 500,000 people have downloaded an Android app called "Guide for Pokemon Go" that roots the devices in order to deliver ads and installs apps without the user's knowledge. Researchers that analyzed the malware said it contained multiple defenses that made reverse-engineering very difficult -- some of the most advanced they've seen -- which explains why it managed to fool Google's security scanner and end up on the official Play Store. The exploits contained in the app's rooting functions were able to root any Android released between 2012 and 2015. The trojan found inside the app was also found in nine other apps, affecting another 100,000 users. The crook behind this trojan was obviously riding various popularity waves, packing his malware in clones for whatever app or game is popular at one particular point in time.
Android

Xiaomi Can Silently Install Any App On Your Android Phone Using A Backdoor (thehackernews.com) 97

Xiaomi, the Chinese smartphone manufacturer many refer to as the "Apple of China," can silently install any app on your device, according to a Computer Science student and security enthusiast from the Netherlands. Thijs Broenink started investigating a mysterious pre-installed app, dubbed AnalyticsCore.apk, that constantly runs in the background and reappears even if you try and delete it. The Hacker News reports: After asking about the purpose of the AnalyticsCore app on the company's support forum and getting no response, Thijs Broenink reverse engineered the code and found that the app checks for a new update from the company's official server every 24 hours. While making these requests, the app sends device identification information with it, including the phone's IMEI, Model, MAC address, Nonce, Package name as well as signature. If there is an updated app available on the server with the filename "Analytics.apk," it will automatically get downloaded and installed in the background without user interaction. Broenink found that there is no validation at all to check which APK is getting installed to a user's phone, which means there is a way for hackers to exploit this loophole. This also means Xiaomi can remotely and silently install any application on your device just by renaming it to "Analytics.apk" and hosting it on the server. Ironically, the device connects and receives updates over HTTP connection, exposing the whole process to Man-in-the-Middle attacks."
Hardware

Android Wear Hopefuls Call Timeout On Smartwatches (cnet.com) 117

Things are not looking good for Google's Android Wear. Three of the top Android Wear smartwatches maker have confirmed that they won't be releasing a smartwatch in the waning months of the year. From a CNET report:While LG launched a watch in the first half, it'll have been more than a year since Huawei and Motorola offered an update on their wearables. That marks a reversal from last year, when all three companies launched Android Wear smartwatches at the early September IFA trade show in Berlin in what was supposed to be a resurgence of the platform. At this year's show, Chinese maker Asus was the only major tech company to return with a new Android Wear watch. The poor showing underscores the general lack of enthusiasm for smartwatches, which the industry has touted as the next hot trend in tech. Consumers, however, continue to question the usefulness of these gadgets. Even Apple, which leads the market for smartwatches, saw its shipments fall 55 percent from a year ago in the second quarter, according to IDC. "Smartwatches still have yet to make a significant impression on consumers as a must-have device," said Ramon Llamas, an analyst at IDC. Time stands still for some in the smartwatch market.
Advertising

Samsung Stops Airing Galaxy Note 7 Commercials, Preps Early Launch of Galaxy S8 (sammobile.com) 86

An anonymous reader writes: Given the bad press surrounding Samsung in regard to the faulty Galaxy Note 7 batteries, the company appears to have stopped airing Galaxy Note 7 commercials on TV. You know it's bad when they have reportedly stopped airing commercials in their home country, South Korea. One of the reasons behind the move is because sales of the Galaxy Note 7 have been suspended for over a week now, and will not be resuming until there is enough inventory to replace all Galaxy Note 7 units that have already been shipped. Some analysts believe sales might not be resumed until next month. Samsung will be using the ad space to market their other products like TVs and refrigerators. In addition, the company may be looking to launch the successor to the Galaxy S7 ahead of schedule. Kim Sang-pyo, an analyst for KB Investment and Securities said in a report: "If Samsung's flagship smartphone launch is delayed to the end of the first quarter of next year, the profitability of the mobile business division could be worsened next year," states the analyst. SamMobile also recently revealed the new model numbers for the Galaxy S8: the SM-G950 and the SM-G955. One model will feature a smaller screen, the other larger -- similar to the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge, though both phones might have a curved display this time around.
Android

Google Is Offering $200K To Hack Android Phones Using Email and A Phone Number (thenextweb.com) 49

Google is feeling so confident about the security of their latest Android 7.0 Nougat operating system that they're offering $200,000 to anyone who can remotely execute code on a Nexus 6P or 5X running Android 7.0. The Next Web reports: Today, Google is launching the Project Zero Security Contest and awarding over $300,000 in prizes to anyone who can hack Nexus 6P and 5X knowing only the devices' phone number and email address. To be eligible to win, contestants are required to dig up vulnerabilities that can be exploited remotely -- by sending a text message or an email, for instance. All winning participants will be invited to describe the bugs they've discovered in a short technical report that will appear on the Project Zero Blog. The winner will scoop $200,000, while the runner-up will receive $100,000. There's also another $50,000 in the prize pool for any additional winning entries.
The Almighty Buck

Pokemon Go's Paying Population Drops By 79% -- Still Most Profitable Mobile App In The US (metro.co.uk) 91

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Metro: The world's obsession with Pokemon Go was clearly never going to last, but the incredible thing about its success is that although the paying population of the game is now down by 79% from its mid-July peak it's still easily the most profitable mobile app in the U.S.. According to analysts at Slice Intelligence, at its peak Pokemon Go inspired twice as many people as normal to spend money on mobile games, but that's now returned to normal. But Pokemon Go still accounts for 28% of all money spent on mobile games in America, bringing in six times more than nearest rival Candy Crush Saga. The obvious problem for Pokemon Go is that there's not really much gameplay to keep you coming back, and as winter approaches wandering around the countryside is going to lose some of its appeal somewhat. But there's a huge range of new features that could be added to the app, and just this week has seen the introduction of the buddy feature that lets you walk around and team-up with a particular Pokemon. There's also the delayed release of the Pokemon Go Plus Bluetooth device and the recent announcement of the Apple Watch app.
Android

Android Users Need To Delete Google Maps and Google Play If They Don't Want Their Locations Tracked (theregister.co.uk) 395

Kieren McCarthy, reporting for The Register: Google, it seems, is very, very interested in knowing where you are at all times. Users have reported battery life issues with the latest Android build, with many pointing the finger at Google Play -- Google's app store -- and its persistent, almost obsessive need to check where you are. Amid complaints that Google Play is always switching on GPS, it appears Google has made it impossible to prevent the app store from tracking your whereabouts unless you completely kill off location tracking for all applications. You can try to deny Google Play access to your handheld's location by opening the Settings app and digging through Apps -> Google Play Store -> Permissions, and flipping the switch for "location." But you'll be told you can't just shut out Google Play services: you have to switch off location services for all apps if you want to block the store from knowing your whereabouts. It's all or nothing, which isn't particularly nice. This is because Google Play services pass on your location to installed apps via an API. The store also sends your whereabouts to Google to process. Google doesn't want you to turn this off.
Censorship

Instagram Rolls Out 'Keyword Moderation Tool' That Will Filter Out Offensive Comments (macrumors.com) 220

In an effort to "promote a culture where everyone feels safe to be themselves without criticism or harassment," Instagram has introduced today a "keyword moderation tool" that anyone can use to block offensive or inappropriate words. Mac Rumors reports: Referred to as a "keyword moderation tool," the feature will let each user type in words they find to be offensive, effectively hiding any mention of them in the comment section of their posts. The comments containing the harsh language will still be available for other Instagram users, but the company believes that allowing each user to determine which words to hide from their personal collection of photos will cultivate a "positive and safe" environment. To deal with abusive accounts, Instagram already lets users swipe to delete comments, report inappropriate comments and block accounts.
Android

Samsung Galaxy Note 7 Explodes In New York, Burns Six-Year-Old Boy (arstechnica.com) 202

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: A six-year-old boy from Brooklyn has reportedly become the latest victim of Samsung's disastrous exploding Galaxy Note 7 batteries. The boy had been using the device at his family home when it "suddenly burst into flames," according to the New York Post. He was rushed to hospital with burns to his body. Samsung issued a recall of 2.5 million of its latest flagship phone on September 2 -- which had only been released the previous month -- after 35 reports that lithium batteries were exploding while they were being charged. The injured boy's grandmother said that the fire caused by the phone was strong enough to "set off alarms in my house." "He is home now," Linda Lewis told press. "He doesn't want to see or go near any phones. He's been crying to his mother." Samsung issued a statement on Saturday, urging owners of the Galaxy Note 7 to "power down your device and return to using your previous phone. We will voluntarily replace your Galaxy Note 7 device with a new one, beginning on September 19th... We acknowledge the inconvenience this may cause in the market but this is to ensure that Samsung continues to deliver the highest quality products to our customers." The recall has caused Samsung's stock to plunge. On Monday, Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. stock suffered from its biggest one-day price decline in its 28-year history as a public company.
The Almighty Buck

Digital Wallets Have Yet To Catch On, JPMorgan Executive Says (reuters.com) 206

Despite major tech companies working aggressively on making digital wallet solutions available everywhere, these digital payment apps in our smartphones are yet to gain traction, according to Chief Executive of Consumer Banking JP Morgan Chase & Co. From a Reuters report: Apple Pay, Android Pay, and Samsung Pay are being used for less than 1 percent of payments at retailers, Gordon Smith said, citing industry data at an investor conference. Ultimately, the convenience of paying with phones will bring a surge of use from consumers, but it is impossible to know when that inflexion point will be reached, said Smith.

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