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Snowden Puts His Mind to Designing Spy-Proof Smartphone Cases
July 21, 2016
NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden and noted hacker Andrew "Bunnie" Huang on Thursday published a paper on their collaboration to design a smartphone case that will protect user privacy. The pair developed a prototype compatible with the 4.7-inch iPhone 6, as it's "driven primarily by what we understand to be the current preferences and tastes of reporters," the paper states.
Apple Patents Tech to Foil Concert Pirates
July 16, 2016
A patent for an infrared system that could be used to shut off iPhone cameras and microphones at live performances is one of dozens recently awarded to Apple. The system could assist the music and movie industries by automatically disabling camera functions at movies or concerts. It could have other applications as well -- for example, turning an iOS device into a museum or city tour guide.
HummingBad Mucks Up Android's Works
July 6, 2016
More than 85 million Android devices worldwide have been taken over by the Yingmob, a group of China-based cybercriminals who created the HummingBad malware, according to Check Point. HummingBad establishes a persistent rootkit on Android devices, generates fraudulent ad revenue, and installs additional fraudulent apps. HummingBad reportedly has been generating revenue of $300,000 a month.
New Apple Health App to Serve as Organ Donation Matchmaker
July 5, 2016
Apple and Donate Life America have partnered to offer an organ donation app with the next iOS 10 update. iPhone users will be able to register for the program with a couple taps of a button. They'll be able to sign up to make organ, eye or tissue donations, automatically entering their information in the National Donate Life Registry, which is managed by Donate Life America.
BlackBerry Lets Go of Its Classic Phone
July 5, 2016
BlackBerry on Tuesday announced it will cease manufacturing the BlackBerry Classic. "The Classic has long surpassed the average lifespan for a smartphone in today's market," noted COO Ralph Pini. "To keep innovating and advancing our portfolio, we are updating our smartphone lineup with state-of-the-art devices." BlackBerry intends to continue supporting its BlackBerry 10 platform, however.
Headphone Jack-less iPhone 7 Rumor Gains Ground
June 22, 2016
The rumor that Apple will get rid of the headphone jack in the iPhone 7 resurfaced Tuesday. Apple is expected to launch the new iPhone later this year. The iPhone's Lightning connector reportedly will do double duty as its charging port and headphone connector. The result will be a thinner device and better water resistance. If true, the move "is right in terms of timing," said analyst Jeff Orr.
Gadget Ogling: Pliable Phones, Clever Kicks, and Sumptuous Speakers
June 21, 2016
Lenovo has peeled back the curtain on a smartphone that you can wrap around your wrist, sporting a full-color screen. The "CPlus," as Lenovo calls the prototype, runs Android and has a 4.26-inch display. It will be available in 12 colors if and when it goes on sale. It's clear bendable smartphones will be a viable consumer product in the near future.
Drops and Spills Don't Faze Samsung Galaxy S7 Active
June 11, 2016
The water- and shatter-resistant Samsung Galaxy S7 Active on Friday became available exclusively from AT&T. Consumers who have eligible service can get the Galaxy S7 Active for $26.50 monthly for 30 months on AT&T Next, or $33.13 monthly for 24 months on AT&T Next Every Year. With a new two-year wireless agreement, customers who opt for AT&T Next also can get a free Samsung Gear S2 smartwatch.
Microsoft, Xiaomi Become Office Mates
June 1, 2016
Microsoft on Tuesday announced plans to sell 1,500 mobile technology patents to China-based Xiaomi, in a deal that will expand both companies' access to new markets. Microsoft's office apps will gain a stronger foothold in China, while Xiaomi's smartphones will gain a stronger global presence. The agreement calls for Xiaomi to ship Microsoft Office and Skype on its Android smartphones and tablets.
Microsoft Drastically Scales Down Smartphone Biz
May 25, 2016
Microsoft on Wednesday announced plans to streamline its smartphone business by cutting 1,850 jobs. It will record an impairment charge of $950 million, with severance payments accounting for $200 million of the charge. The restructuring will entail up to 1,350 job losses at Microsoft Mobile Oy in Finland, and 500 more cuts around the world.
OnePlus Offers Free Headsets to Lure Crowd to VR Smartphone Launch
May 25, 2016
The 30,000 virtual reality headsets OnePlus announced it would give away as part the unveiling of its OnePlus 3 smartphone were snapped up Monday, the day they became available. OnePlus has set up a VR space called "The Loop" in which it will unveil the OnePlus 3. The Loop can be accessed only by users of the OnePlus Loop VR headsets, made by AntVR.
Gadget Ogling: Speedy Tortillas, Racing Robots, and Real-Time 3D
May 20, 2016
Flatev is a pod-based system for instant tortillas in the mold of a Keurig coffee maker. Insert a pod of fresh dough -- you have several choices, all organic -- then adjust settings for type of dough and desired crispiness, and 90 seconds later you'll have a fresh, warm tortilla. There's a heated drawer to keep your tortillas warm while you make as many as you need.
Nokia Stages Smartphone Comeback
May 20, 2016
Nokia on Wednesday announced its return to the mobile phone and tablet business in connection with a larger agreement by Microsoft to sell its entry-level phone business to HMD Global and FIH Mobile for $350 million. Microsoft will sell its Hanoi, Vietnam, manufacturing facility to FIH Mobile. Nokia will grant HMD the exclusive global license to make Nokia-branded phones and tablets for 10 years.
Motorola Shows Off New Moto G Collection
May 18, 2016
Motorola on Tuesday unveiled three new smartphones: the fourth-generation Moto G, the Moto G Plus and the Moto G Play. The Moto G and Moto G Plus can be customized using Moto Maker, while the Moto G Play can not. All three run Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow. The Moto G and Moto G Plus became available Tuesday in Brazil and India. They will be rolled out elsewhere over time.
Could the Next Disruptive Consumer Product Be a Flip Phone?
May 16, 2016
Smartphones appear to be losing their luster, and the king of smartphones -- Apple -- clearly is not having a good year. Suddenly, I'm hearing that there is an upswing in flip phones, making this feel a bit like a Game of Thrones episode, when a believed-dead king returns to seize the throne by surprise. Clearly, the market is looking for the next big thing.
Google Gives iOS Users 1st Crack at Gboard App
May 12, 2016
Google on Thursday introduced Gboard, an app that combines search with a new soft keyboard for mobile devices running iOS. Gboard, which supports glide typing, allows users to perform searches from the keyboard without leaving the application they're in. Once the information is found, they can paste it into their application without leaving the keyboard.
iPhone 7 Rumors Blunt Anticipation
May 11, 2016
It appears there won't be a lot of design changes in the next iPhone, according to a schematic photo published online Monday. It shows what's purported to be Apple's upcoming iPhone 7 to be the same size as the 6s. "They've done a lot with the design already. They're keeping multiple design languages to keep their customer base happy," said analyst Kevin Krewell.
India Rejects Apple's iPhone Retread Plan
May 4, 2016
India's telecommunications ministry has rejected Apple's proposal to sell refurbished iPhones in the country. Officials apparently based their rejection of the proposal on rules that prohibit importing used electronics. The country's environmental ministry nixed a similar request last year. With smartphone sales starting to stall, India could become an important market for Apple.
Law Affords More Protection to PINs Than Prints
May 3, 2016
A federal magistrate in Los Angeles ordered the girlfriend of an alleged gang member to open her phone using her fingerprint so prosecutors could look at the data on it for a case they were working on, according to a news report published last week. After Paytsar Bkhchadzhyan pleaded no contest to identity theft, a judge issued a warrant to force her to press her finger to her iPhone to open it.
Osterloh's Return Suggests Google Just Got Serious About Hardware
May 2, 2016
Google has rehired former executive Rick Osterloh to lead its hardware businesses, which it plans to consolidate under a single division, according to news reports published last week. Osterloh, who recently stepped down as president of Motorola, reportedly will head up Google's Nexus business, which will include a suite of products dubbed the "living room."
Wall Street Pummels Apple After Weak Q2 Earnings Report
April 28, 2016
Apple shares were trading at around $95 as of mid-day Thursday in the wake of the company's disappointing Q2 earnings report. That was even lower than Wednesday's opening price, which was down more than $8 from Tuesday's $104.35 at market close. The company's second-quarter performance was dismal. The iPhone recorded its first drop in sales -- to 51.2 million units, down from 61.2 million in the year-ago quarter.
Apple's Q2 Report Expected to Be Light on Good News
April 26, 2016
Apple shares closed at $105.08 Monday -- down 60 cents -- as the market steeled itself for what's expected to be a gloomy quarterly earnings call on Tuesday. Apple will underperform the smartphone industry and become the only global top-five brand to see shipments decline in 2016, predicted Ming-Chi Kuo, a KGI Securities analyst who previously has made several accurate calls on the company.
Gadget Ogling: A 360-Degree Cam, a Leveled-Up Kindle, and a Space-Saving Home Gym
April 21, 2016
Facebook has unveiled its latest push into hardware -- an open source 360-degree camera. Bearing 17 cameras and Web-based software to render footage in 360-degrees, Facebook Surround 360 is more of a design than a commercial product. It would cost around $30,000 to build one as is, Facebook said. The idea is to allow creators to iterate on the design to create their own cameras.
2017 iPhone May Be a Glass Act
April 21, 2016
Apple has been developing a glass casing for a new iPhone with an AMOLED display to be unveiled in 2017, Ming-Chi Kuo, an analyst at KGI Securities, reportedly said this week in a note to investors. That would mark a return to the design of the iPhone 4 and 4s, both of which had glass cases. The use of the AMOLED screen will offset the heavier weight of a glass back for the device, Kuo said.
60 Minutes Shows How Network Flaw Makes Any Smartphone Easy Prey
April 19, 2016
An international team of cybersecurity experts hacked into an iPhone loaned to a U.S. congressman who sits on a key technology committee, in a 60 Minutes demonstration of how easy it is for a criminal to spy on callers by exploiting an international mobile phone network vulnerability. The hackers were able to listen in on a call by Rep. Ted Lieu just by getting the actual phone number he was using.
HTC 10 Wins Heaps of Praise With a Sprinkling of 'Buts'
April 15, 2016
HTC this week unveiled its latest flagship smartphone, the HTC 10. The phone's camera is outfitted with new, larger sensors and 12 million new-generation UltraPixels. Both the front and rear cameras sport the world's first optically stabilized, larger-aperture f/1.8 lenses on, the company said. The rear camera also has a faster laser autofocus.
FBI Paid Hackers to Defeat Security of Shooter's iPhone
April 14, 2016
The FBI paid hackers to break onto the iPhone of the San Bernardino, California, shooter, according to a news report published Tuesday. The bureau obtained the services of gray hats, insiders said, and apparently did not get help from Cellebrite, as earlier reports had suggested. Gray hats are hackers who sell flaws to governments or companies that make surveillance tools.
Learning to Love Virtual Reality
April 11, 2016
At Nvidia's technology conference, I saw a variety of new technologies showcased. From deep learning systems -- computers that arguably are smarter than we are -- to self-driving cars that can drive better than we can, the technological advances on display made me feel just a tad inadequate. One way to get over my sudden concern over obsolescence was to check out the virtual reality showcase.
White House Takes a Pass on Encryption Debate
April 7, 2016
It appears that the Obama administration will refrain from giving its outspoken support to any legislation that aims to compel high-tech companies to help law enforcement agencies crack mobile phone encryption. On the other hand, it won't level any outspoken opposition either. Introduction of such a bill -- sponsored by Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Richard Burr -- is expected soon.
Apple, FBI Tussle Puts Bull's-Eye on iPhone
April 7, 2016
The battle between the FBI and Apple over access to the iPhone of Syed Farook came to an abrupt end last week when the agency announced it no longer needed the company's assistance. Since the Department of Justice delayed a hearing on an order to force Apple to assist the FBI in brute-forcing the password, speculation has spread about how the agency planned to access the data.
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