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  • Early iPhone 6 Benchmark Results Show Only Modest Gains For A8

    MojoKid writes: Historically speaking, we typically see impressive performance gains each time Apple releases a new custom processor for its mobile products. Certainly that was true of the A7 SoC, the world's first 64-bit smartphone processor. So, can we expect the same kind of performance bump from the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, both of which sport the new custom A8 SoC? Maybe not. The iPhone 6 recently surfaced in results for the Basemark X benchmark and armed with a dual-core 1.4GHz Cyclone CPU and A8 GPU, the iPhone 6 scored 21,204.26 and a earned a place at the top of the chart, though not by much. By comparison, the iPhone 5s scored 20,253.80 in the same benchmark. In other words, the iPhone 6 is currently less than 5 percent faster than the iPhone 5s, at least as far as the Basemark X benchmark is concerned.

    205 comments | 3 days ago

  • Amazon Instant Video Now Available On Android

    briancox2 writes Amazon has avoided releasing the Amazon Instant Video app that is on Fire and Kindle to the general Android market, even though the app has been available for some time on iOS. Now, after a workaround had allowed some users to install the app on Android by fiddling with permissions, Amazon has released the app to many devices calling it "Amazon Instant Video for Google TV". It's not clear yet which devices can run this app. Currently it is not available for older Samsung Galaxy lines, however the Nexus, a major competitor of Amazon's devices, can run the new app.

    77 comments | 5 days ago

  • Text While Driving In Long Island and Have Your Phone Disabled

    An anonymous reader writes: A District Attorney in Long Island, NY is stepping up efforts to combat distracted driving. Kathleen Rice says motorists who are caught texting while driving should have hardware or apps installed on their phone to prevent them from using it at all while driving. She likened such barriers to the ignition interlock devices that prevent people convicted of drunk driving from using their cars unless they're sober. "Hardware and software solutions that block texting during driving are currently produced by various manufacturers and software developers, and are constantly under development. The DA's office does not endorse any particular company and is in the process of reviewing specific solutions based on their features and services. Critical features include security measures to make the solutions tamper-proof, and data integrity measures to ensure accurate reporting to courts, law enforcement, parents, and guardians." New York is one of many states who already have laws banning all handheld use while driving.

    363 comments | about a week ago

  • Under the Apple Hype Machine, Amazon Drops Fire Phone Price To 99 Cents

    Whatever it is that Apple's going to announce a few hours from now, it seems Amazon has decided it's probably not going to send people rushing to buy its Fire phone. Amazon's cut the price of the phone from $199 to 99 cents. At that price, the Fire phone comes with free Amazon Prime membership, too -- but also a 2-year contract with (exclusive carrier) AT&T. Writes ExtremeTech: Whether that’s going to be enough to stimulate sales is an open question — $450 unlocked is still a tough sell for a device that is overmatched by products like the cheaper Nexus 5, or the recently unveiled $500 second-gen Moto X. In August, adoption data from advertising agency Chitika claimed that total Amazon Fire Phone sales were paltry, representing just 0.015-0.02% of phones in use, or fewer than 30,000 phones. That number will have doubtlessly ticked up slightly since then, and it’s true that Amazon’s partners, like AT&T, have aggressively pushed the phone in online stores.

    134 comments | about a week ago

  • Facebook's Auto-Play Videos Chew Up Expensive Data Plans

    Another good reason to be annoyed by autoplaying videos online: it eats up dataplan allowances, making for some rude surprises. I'm always nervous about data allowances, and sites should be cautious about what they shove at you; turning off the autoplay feature isn't hard (and it's explained in the second article linked above), but I sure wish it was the default setting, or at least caught and handled by a browser extension. (Perhaps this is a job for Social Fixer's next iteration.) Is Facebook the worst offender on this front?

    108 comments | about a week ago

  • E-Books On a $20 Cell Phone

    An anonymous reader writes "Moon+ Pro Reader, FBReader, Kindle, you name it--many popular Android e-book apps can run on a smartphone available for $20 and shipping. The trick is to respect the device's limits and keep down the number of apps you install. This fun isn't for eager multitaskers. On the bright side, the $20 phone can do Acapela TTS, includes a 4GB memory card and works with cards of up to 32GB--easily enough for scads of pre-loaded books. Plus, the WiFi is great. And the screen of 3.2 inches isn't that much smaller than the 3.5 inchers on the older iPads. What could cell phone e-reading mean in the many "book deserts" of the U.S.? And how about the U.K. where miserly pols are closing libraries even though the Guardian says "a third of UK children do not own a single book and three-quarters claim never to read outside school"? The smartphone post on the LibraryCity site tells how librarians and others could start "cell phone book clubs" to promote the discovery and absorption of books as well as smarter use of technology."

    116 comments | about two weeks ago

  • California Passes Law Mandating Smartphone Kill Switch

    alphadogg (971356) writes "Smartphones sold in California will soon be required to have a kill switch that lets users remotely lock them and wipe them of data in the event they are lost or stolen. The demand is the result of a new law, put into effect on Monday, that applies to phones manufactured after July 1, 2015, and sold in the state. While its legal reach does not extend beyond the state's borders, the inefficiency of producing phones solely for California means the kill switch is expected to be adopted by phone makers on handsets sold across the U.S. and around the world."

    233 comments | about three weeks ago

  • Google Announces a New Processor For Project Ara

    rtoz writes Google has just announced a new processor for Project Ara. The mobile Rockchip SoC will function as an applications processor, without requiring a bridge chip. A prototype of the phone with the Rockchip CPU, will be available early next year. Via Google+ post, Project Ara team Head Paul Eremenko says "We view this Rockchip processor as a trailblazer for our vision of a modular architecture where the processor is a node on a network with a single, universal interface -- free from also serving as the network hub for all of the mobile device's peripherals." (Project Ara is Google's effort to create an extensible, modular cellphone; last month we mentioned a custom version of Linux being developed for the project, too.)

    36 comments | about three weeks ago

  • Your Phone Can Be Snooped On Using Its Gyroscope

    stephendavion (2872091) writes Researchers will demonstrate the process used to spy on smartphones using gyroscopes at Usenix Security event on August 22, 2014. Researchers from Stanford and a defense research group at Rafael will demonstrate a way to spy on smartphones using gyroscopes at Usenix Security event on August 22, 2014. According to the "Gyrophone: Recognizing Speech From Gyroscope Signals" study, the gyroscopes integrated into smartphones were sensitive enough to enable some sound waves to be picked up, transforming them into crude microphones.

    96 comments | about a month ago

  • Xiaomi's Next OS Looks Strikingly Similar To iOS

    stephendavion writes Looks like Chinese device maker, Xiaomi, is taking its "Apple of the East" tag too literally. First, their CEO brazenly copies Steve Jobs' signature look, sitting cross-legged on the floor. And now, Xiaomi's latest version of Android shamelessly rips off iOS 7. MIUI 6, which is Xiaomi's upcoming edition of Android for its latest phones and tablets, looks almost exactly like Apple's operating system for iPhones, iPads and the iPod Touch. It features the same bright color palette and a flat design. Heck, it even does away with Google's "app drawer" and puts all apps on your home screen. It's like the CEO handed iPhones to the design team and barked: "Here, copy this!"

    181 comments | about a month ago

  • The Biggest iPhone Security Risk Could Be Connecting One To a Computer

    angry tapir (1463043) writes Apple has done well to insulate its iOS mobile operating system from many security issues, but a forthcoming demonstration shows it's far from perfect. Next Wednesday at the Usenix Security Symposium in San Diego, researchers with the Georgia Institute of Technology will show how iOS's Achilles' heel is exposed when devices are connected over USB to a computer or have Wi-Fi synching enabled. The beauty of their attack is that it doesn't rely on iOS software vulnerabilities, the customary way that hackers commandeer computers. It simply takes advantage of design issues in iOS, working around Apple's layered protections to accomplish a sinister goal.

    72 comments | about a month ago

  • Samsung Announces Galaxy Alpha Featuring Metal Frame and Rounded Corners

    mrspoonsi (2955715) writes with word that Samsung is hopping on the metal case and rounded corners design bandwagon. From the article: Samsung says a metal frame and curved corners give the Galaxy Alpha a "sophisticated" look. The South Korean company describes the Galaxy Alpha as representing a "new design approach". The firm has previously been criticised for the plastic feel of its handsets at a time when other firms have opted to use materials marketed as having a "premium" feel. Samsung Electronics saw a 20% year-on-year drop in its last quarter's profit. The phone features 2G of RAM, a 4.7" AMOLED display, and either an 8-core Exynos 5 or 4-core Snapdragon 801.

    220 comments | about a month ago

  • Silent Circle's Blackphone Exploited at Def Con

    Def Con shows no mercy. As gleefully reported by sites several Blackberry-centric sites, researcher Justin Case yesterday demonstrated that he could root the much-heralded Blackphone in less than five minutes. From n4bb.com's linked report: "However, one of the vulnerabilities has already been patched and the other only exploitable with direct user consent. Nevertheless, this only further proves you cannot add layers of security on top of an underlying platform with security vulnerabilities." Case reacts via Twitter to the crowing: "Hey BlackBerry idiots, stop miss quoting me on your blogs. Your phone is only "secure" because it has few users and little value as a target."

    46 comments | about a month ago

  • Xiaomi Arrives As Top Smartphone Seller In China

    New submitter redseo writes Xiaomi, known as the Apple of China, and recently enjoying its new-found fame and glory in the Indian market, has achieved yet another milestone. It has overtaken Samsung, to become China's best selling smartphone manufacturer, in Q2 2014. Xiaomi sold total of 15 million smartphones in China in Q2, which is a three-fold increase from a year ago. That's pretty good for a company founded only four years ago, with no stores of its own. (And though Xiaomi's phones are not widely sold in the U.S., they're offered by third-party sellers on Amazon and elsewhere; CNet has mostly good things to say about the company's Mi 3.)

    82 comments | about a month ago

  • T-Mobile Smartphones Outlast Competitors' Identical Models

    An anonymous reader writes Laptop Mag battery tested the leading phones on all four major U.S. carriers and found that the same models on T-Mobile typically last 1 to 3 hours longer on a charge. This trend is not new, but has continued for over 3 years of testing. The article says While we don’t know for certain why T-Mobile phones last longer on a charge, there are some strong possibilities. T-Mobile’s network could be more efficient at sending and receiving data because of the bands it uses, or maybe there are far fewer customers on its LTE network, easing the strain. Another possibility is that T-Mobile tends to pre-load less bloatware on its flagship devices relative to the other carriers. AT&T is firmly in second place in the battery life findings presented, with Verizon and Sprint jockeying for last of the four carriers measured. It woud be interesting to see a similar test battery for phones in marginal reception areas; searching for service seems to deplete my battery faster than talking does.

    127 comments | about a month ago

  • Google, Linaro Develop Custom Android Edition For Project Ara

    rtoz writes with this excerpt from an IDG story about the creation of an Android fork made just for Google's modular cell-phone project : A special edition of Android had to be created for the unique customizable design of Project Ara, said George Grey, CEO of Linaro. ... Android can already plug and play SD cards. But Grey said additional OS functionality is needed for storage, cameras and other modules that are typically inside smartphones, but can now be externally added to Project Ara. A lot of work is also being done on UniPro transport drivers, which connect modules and components in Project Ara. UniPro protocol drivers in Android will function much like the USB protocol, where modules will be recognized based on different driver "classes," such as those for networking, sensor, imaging, input and others. Some attachable parts may not be recognized by Android. For those parts, separate drivers need to be developed by module makers through emulators. "That will be need to be done in a secure system so the device can't do damage to the system," Grey said. Project Ara is a very disruptive concept, and it turns around conventional thinking on how to build phones, Grey said.

    46 comments | about a month and a half ago

  • $299 Android Gaming Tablet Reviewed

    Vigile (99919) writes "Last week NVIDIA announced the SHIELD Tablet and SHIELD Controller, and reviews are finally appearing this morning. Based on the high performance Tegra K1 SoC that integrates 192 Kepler architecture CUDA cores, benchmarks reveal that that the SHIELD Tablet is basically unmatched by any other mobile device on the market when it comes to graphics performance — it is more than 2.5x the performance of the Apple A7 in some instances. With that power NVIDIA is able to showcase full OpenGL versions of games like Portal and Half-Life 2 running at 1080p locally on the 19:12 display or output to a TV in a "console mode." PC Perspective has impressions of that experience as well as using the NVIDIA Game Stream technology to play your PC games on the SHIELD Tablet and controller. To go even further down the rabbit hole, you can stream your PC games from your desktop to your tablet, output them to the TV in console mode, stream your game play to Twitch from the tablet while overlaying your image through the front facing camera AND record your sessions locally via ShadowPlay and using the Wi-Fi Direct powered controller to send and receive audio. It is incredibly impressive hardware but the question remains as to whether or not there is, or will be, a market for Android-based gaming devices, even those with the power and performance that NVIDIA has built."

    65 comments | about a month and a half ago

  • Microsoft's Nokia Plans Come Into Better Focus

    Forbes has an update on what sort of future Nokia faces, as Microsoft reveals a strategy for making sense of the acquisition: [Microsoft EVP of devices Stephen] Elop laid out a framework for cost cuts in a memo to employees on July 17. Devices would focus on high and low cost Windows smartphones, suggesting a phasing out of feature phones and Android smartphones. Two business units, smart devices and mobile phones, would become one, thereby cutting overlap and overhead. Microsoft would reduce engineering in Beijing and San Diego and unwind engineering in Oulu, Finland. It would exit manufacturing in Komarom, Hungary; shift to lower cost areas like Manaus, Brazil and Reynosa, Mexico; and reduce manufacturing in Beijing and Dongguan, China. Also, CEO Satya Nadella gave hints about how Microsoft will make money on Nokia during Tuesday' conference call. Devices, he said, "go beyond" hardware and are about productivity. "I can take my Office Lens App, use the camera on the phone, take a picture of anything, and have it automatically OCR recognized and into OneNote in searchable fashion. There is a lot we can do with phones by broadly thinking about productivity." In other words, the sale of a smartphone is a means to other sales.

    149 comments | about a month and a half ago

  • Popular Android Apps Full of Bugs: Researchers Blame Recycling of Code

    New submitter Brett W (3715683) writes The security researchers that first published the 'Heartbleed' vulnerabilities in OpenSSL have spent the last few months auditing the Top 50 downloaded Android apps for vulnerabilities and have found issues with at least half of them. Many send user data to ad networks without consent, potentially without the publisher or even the app developer being aware of it. Quite a few also send private data across the network in plain text. The full study is due out later this week.

    150 comments | about a month and a half ago

  • Greenpeace: Amazon Fire Burns More Coal and Gas Than It Should

    Jason Koebler (3528235) writes "The biggest thing that sets the Amazon Fire Phone apart from its Android and Apple competitors probably isn't the clean interface or the unlimited photo storage—it's the dirty power behind it. When Fire users upload their photos and data to Amazon's cloud, they'll be creating a lot more pollution than iPhone owners, Greenpeace says. Apple has made a commitment to running its iCloud on 100 percent clean energy. Amazon, meanwhile, operates the dirtiest servers of any major tech giant that operates its own servers—only 15 percent of its energy comes from clean sources, which is about the default national average." Greenpeace's jaundiced eye is on Amazon more generally; the company's new phone is just an example. Maybe Amazon or some other provider could take a page from some local utilities and let users signal their own preferences with a (surcharged) "clean energy" option.

    288 comments | about 1 month ago

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