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iPhone sinks as Android seizes market share

Android logo

Google’s Android software continues to steamroll the competition in smartphones, posing bigger problems for companies like Apple and BlackBerry.

New data Wednesday from research firm IDC found that Apple’s share of the global market slid to 13.2 percent in the second quarter from 16.6 percent in the year-earlier period. Handsets running Android, meanwhile, jumped to 79.3 percent from 69.1 percent.

The signs are particularly ominous for one-time market leader BlackBerry, despite some high-profile product announcements recently. Devices running its software accounted for just 2.9 percent of global smartphone shipments in the three months ended in June, compared with 4.9 percent for the same period in 2012.

Android is given away free to handset makers by Google, whose strategy is to make money on advertising associated with mobile devices. It has long powered smartphones offered by industry giant Samsung, but has lately also benefited by Chinese companies such as Lenovo, Huawei and ZTE. that are grabbing a bigger chunk of the smartphone market.  Read More

New Nexus 7 Tablet Launches Early at Best Buy, Amazon, More

New Nexus 7

Can’t wait to get your hands on Google’s new Nexus 7 tablet? Several popular retailers have you covered.

The next-gen slate will be available at Best Buy, Amazon, GameStop, and Walmart today, several days before its official launch in the Google Play store.

A quick visit to the Nexus 7 product page shows that the device is in stock, available for $229 (16GB), and ready for two-day Amazon Prime shipping.

Best Buy, meanwhile, confirmed in an email to PCMag that the tablet is on sale now at and in all Best Buy and Best Buy Mobile stores, in the 16GB and 32GB ($269.99) versions.

GameStop brick-and-mortar and virtual stores will also have the Nexus 7 in stock, starting 1 p.m. Eastern today. For a limited time, GameStop customers can also trade in items — games, consoles, accessories, smartphones, Android tablets — to earn an additional 30 percent of in-store credit for use toward a new Nexus 7.  Read More

Malicious ‘Master Key’ Android Apps Appear Online

Cyber crooks are actively taking advantage of a serious flaw affecting most Android users, which allows attackers to add malicious code to a legitimate app without altering the app’s cryptographic signature, a security company warned today.

Whilst purported exploit code had been released online, no truly malicious apps had been found taking advantage of the “master key” vulnerability until now.

Android master key

Google, Android © Lyao Shutterstock 2012

Details on the flaw are due to be expanded on by startup BlueBox at BlackHat later this month, but one clear way to exploit the flaw is to somehow tamper with an app by adding an extra file into an Android application package (APK).

To exploit the flaw, attackers add two files of the same name to an APK subdirectory called META-INF, which contains signed checksums for all the other files in the package.

But Android only validates the most recently-added file where two files have the same name. Yet it installs the second one, as Sophos explained in a blog post. That’s how hackers can sneak in infected files (a similar exploit was uncovered in China recently).

And it appears that is what hackers have now done in their attempts to steal user data.

The so-called “Skullkey” apps, two of which were uncovered by Symantec, look like legitimate applications distributed on Android marketplaces in China to help users make doctor appointments.

“An attacker has taken both of these applications and added code to allow them to remotely control devices, steal sensitive data such as IMEI and phone numbers, send premium SMS messages, and disable a few Chinese mobile security software applications by using root commands, if available,” Symantec said in a blog post.

“We expected the vulnerability to be leveraged quickly due to ease of exploitation, and it has.

“We expect attackers to continue to leverage this vulnerability to infect unsuspecting user devices.”

A program from Duo Security and the System Security Lab at Northeastern University claims to patch the master key flaw.

Read More

Microsoft better than Facebook, Twitter; Android cooler than Apple, according to TECH survey.

Microsoft Inc. has a reason to smile. A Reuters/Ipsos poll has just revealed that under half of 853 respondents age (18- 29) thought that Microsoft is much better now than it was 1 or 2 years ago. Microsoft garnered 50 Percent votes. Only 42% of the youth thought that Facebook is better than it was in the past. On the same criteria Twitter scored 47%.  Microsoft has recently focused on its marketing and product images. Its Windows interface in Surface tablets has found its share of admirers. Most of the users were happy with the consumer oriented push of Microsoft.

Most of the users also reaffirmed the view that if Microsoft will continue to move up with the same pace, then it will challenge the hegemony of Apple. Microsoft Still dominates the personal Computing Industry but has lagged behind in almost all the other technological races with its rivals. If we exclude Xbox and Kinect then it has failed in other tech competitions. Windows smartphones now have 3%of the world market share but it still lags behind Android (70%) and Apple (21%).  Read More

Galaxy Note 8.0 Announced: The Just-Right Size for Samsung’s Pen-Equipped Tablet?

PHOTO: Samsung's Galaxy Note 8.0 has an 8-inch screen and a stylus.

Feb. 23, 2013


The 10.1-inch Galaxy Note 10.1 tablet too big? The 5.5-inch Galaxy Note 2 too small to be your tablet but too big to be your phone?

The Galaxy Note 8.0 might be just right. Or at least that’s what Samsung is hoping. The company has announced its new 8-inch, Android tablet today at Mobile World Congress, a large mobile tradeshow in Barcelona, and it hopes its new software features and the portable size will make it standout, especially against Apple’s iPad Mini.

A Notebook Size 
The tablet is slightly wider than the 7-inch tablets on the market, including Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 7, and is meant to be easier to operate in one hand.

“We have seen through consumer research people like the one-handed experience,” Shoneel Kolhatkar, Samsung’s director of Product Planning, told ABC News. “The Note 10.1 is more of a lean back experience and this is really about the lean forward, you are actively engaged with your notepad and the content you are editing.”

Samsung’s first Android tablet introduced in 2010 — the Galaxy Tab — had a 7-inch display and the company has since made tablets with various different screen sizes. Apple introduced a smaller, 7.9-inch version of the iPad — the iPad Mini — in late 2012. Shoneel and other Samsung executives stressed to ABC News that it had smaller tablets long before Apple came out with the Mini.  Read More

NFC Phone Hacking and Other Mobile Attacks

One of the main tracks today at the Black Hat 2012 conference in Las Vegas is Mobile. The most compelling one to me was Don’t Stand So Close To Me: An Analysis Of The NFC Attack Surface by the famous Charlie Miller. The others raised important concerns, but only Miller’s made me cringe. His presentation included a demonstration of the use of a malicious NFC device which, simply when placed close enough to a user’s phone, resulted in a complete compromise of the phone, or what security people call “remote code execution.”

Dr. Miller, formerly of the NSA, is well-known in the security field as a top security researcher and probably the top researcher of Apple products. He has won many awards for impressive attacks on Macs and iPhones. He is currently a principal research consultant for Accuvant Labs.

The NFC Forum's N-Mark logo for NFC-enabled devices

The NFC Forum’s N-Mark logo for NFC-enabled devices.

NFC is designed for close wireless communications with the most famous application being wireless payments. It’s very similar to RFID in design, but devices can exchange much richer sets of data. NFC communications are very close-range. Miller said he heard of it can be made to work as far as 10 cm, but 4 cm was about where he found the outer range.

It turns out that, at least on Android, if your phone is on and awake, NFC is active. And if it’s asleep and locked, an attacker who knows the number can wake it up with an SMS message. Google addressed this some in Android 4 (Ice Cream Sandwich) by turning NFC off when the phone is locked. You have to first unlock it with the passcode. Miller did all his testing on Android and on a Nokia phone running Meego.  Read More

Facebook Is Said To Work With HTC On Mobile Phone For Mid-2013

Facebook Inc. (FB), owner of the largest social network, is working with HTC Corp. to build its own smartphone for release as soon as mid-2013, people with knowledge of the matter said.

The companies had intended to release the device as early as the end of this year, and pushed back the timetable to give HTC more time to work on other products, said some of the people, who requested anonymity because the plans aren’t public. Facebook is also developing a modified operating system for the device and has assembled a team of former Apple Inc. (AAPL) programmers to improve its iPhone application, people said.

Facebook Is Said to Work With HTC on Mobile Phone

Facebook is working with HTC Corp. to build its own smartphone, people with knowledge of the matter said. Photographer: Jason Alden/Bloomberg

More than half of Facebook’s 900 million users access the social network via mobile devices, while none of the $3.15 billion in advertising sales last year came from ads on phones. Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg could use a Facebook phone, with social-networking features built-in, to woo marketers and assuage concerns dragging on the company’s shares.  Read More

Windows Phone Marketplace hits 100,000 apps mark

Microsoft Windows PhoneDevelopers have now published 100,145 apps in the Windows Phone Marketplace. The mark was reached in 20 months. Above, Microsoft’s Windows Phone. (Armand Emamdjomeh / Los Angeles Times / June 5, 2012)
Windows Phone Marketplace has reached the 100,000 app milestone, an important benchmark for any smartphone operating system that wants to compete in today’s market.

To be exact, developers have now published 100,145 apps in the Marketplace. The mark was reached in 20 months.

That means the Marketplace, which is adding more than 300 apps per day, reached the feat faster than the Android market, which did so in 24 months, but not quite as fast as Apple’s App Store, which got there in 16 months.

Windows Phone still falls behind the App Store, which leads the way with 600,000 apps, and the Android Market, which has 500,000 apps. BlackBerry comes in fourth place with its App World, which has yet to reach the 100,000 mark after nearly 40 months.

And although more than 100,000 Windows Phone apps have been published, users of the phone can access only 88,371 of them because some of the apps published have also either been taken down by Microsoft or their developers.

For American users of the operating system, there are only 77,450 apps because some apps are either exclusive to other parts of the world or are not available in English, according to All About Windows Phone.  Read More

A Facebook smartphone in 2013?

Can a Facebook smartphone solve Facebook’s mobile problem?

Just one week after Facebook’s less than stellar IPO comes news that the social network is beefing up its engineering staff in the hopes of releasing a Facebook smartphone by 2013.

Rumors and reports that Facebook has been working on building its own cellphone go back to 2010 when Tech Crunch reported that two high-level Facebook staffers had been tasked with developing a Facebook phone in secret.

The rumor resurfaced in 2011 when All Things D reported that the company was working with the Taiwanese cellphone maker HTC to create a cellphone, code-named “Buffy,” that has the social network integrated into “the core of its being.”

While Facebook refused to comment on Buffy specifically, the company did send All Things D the following statement: “We’re working across the entire mobile industry; with operators, hardware manufacturers, OS providers, and application developers to bring powerful social experiences to more people around the world.”

Not exactly a denial.  Read More

Google+ for Android adds beautiful layout, easier-to-start hangouts

Google+ for Android adds beautiful layout, easier-to-start hangouts

Google has updated its Google+ app for Android with beautiful new flourishes and the ability to start a video chat Hangout on the go, the company announced today.

The app update makes a lot of sense in light of Google+’s new photo-centric iPhone app and the service’s focus on wanting to be the next Flickr. Google clearly knows it can’t win directly competing against Facebook on status updates so it will try to get people to use Google+ for other things, namely video chat Hangouts and photo-sharing.

My favorite feature of the bunch is Hangouts and that feature has been nicely updated today by letting you start hangouts directly from your phone. Before, you could attend Hangouts in progress but could not create new ones from your phone. To try it out, tap “Hangout” in the navigation ribbon, add a few folks, and tap “Start.”

As for the layout, there is now full-screen media in your river, conversations that fade in, and the ability to +1 content instantly.  Read More

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