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Mozilla

$33 Firefox Phone Launched In India 68

Posted by samzenpus
from the cheaper-by-the-dozen dept.
davidshenba writes Intex and Mozilla have launched Cloud FX, a smartphone powered by Mozilla's Firefox OS. The phone has a 1 GHz processor, 2 Megapixel camera, dual SIM, 3.5 inch capacitive touchscreen. Though the phone has limited features, initial reviews say that the build quality is good for the price range. With a price tag of $33 (2000 INR), and local languages support the new Firefox phone is hitting the Indian market of nearly 1 billion mobile users.
Cellphones

California Passes Law Mandating Smartphone Kill Switch 233

Posted by timothy
from the we-control-the-vertical dept.
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."
Cellphones

Google Announces a New Processor For Project Ara 36

Posted by timothy
from the starting-from-not-quite-scratch dept.
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.)
Government

Smartphone Kill Switch, Consumer Boon Or Way For Government To Brick Your Phone? 298

Posted by samzenpus
from the best-of-both-worlds dept.
MojoKid writes We're often told that having a kill switch in our mobile devices — mostly our smartphones — is a good thing. At a basic level, that's hard to disagree with. If every mobile device had a built-in kill switch, theft would go down — who would waste their time over a device that probably won't work for very long? Here's where the problem lays: It's law enforcement that's pushing so hard for these kill switches. We first learned about this last summer, and this past May, California passed a law that requires smartphone vendors to implement the feature. In practice, if a smartphone has been stolen, or has been somehow compromised, its user or manufacturer would be able to remotely kill off its usability, something that would be reversed once the phone gets back into its rightful owner's hands. However, such functionality should be limited to the device's owner, and no one else. If the owner can disable a phone with nothing but access to a computer or another mobile device, so can Google, Samsung, Microsoft, Nokia or Apple. If the designers of a phone's operating system can brick a phone, guess who else can do the same? Everybody from the NSA to your friendly neighborhood police force, that's who. At most, all they'll need is a convincing argument that they're acting in the interest of "public safety."
Cellphones

Your Phone Can Be Snooped On Using Its Gyroscope 96

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the phone-can-be-snooped-on-by-everything dept.
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.
IOS

Xiaomi's Next OS Looks Strikingly Similar To iOS 179

Posted by samzenpus
from the imitation-is-the-sincerest-form-of-flattery dept.
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!"
Electronic Frontier Foundation

EFF's Cell Phone Guide For US Protesters 82

Posted by Soulskill
from the do-not-use-your-cell-phone-as-a-projectile-weapon dept.
An anonymous reader writes: The Electronic Frontier Foundation has updated its guide for protecting yourself and your cell phone at a protest. In addition to being extremely powerful tools (real-time communication to many watchers via social media, and video recording functionality), cell phones can also give authorities a lot of information about you if they confiscate it. The EFF is trying to encourage cell phone use and prepare people to use them. (The guide is based on U.S. laws, but much of the advice makes sense for other places as well.) Here are a few small snippets: "Start using encrypted communications channels. Text messages, as a rule, can be read and stored by your phone company or by surveillance equipment in the area. ... If the police ask to see your phone, tell them you do not consent to the search of your device. Again, since the Supreme Court's decision in Riley, there is little question that officers need a warrant to access the contents of your phone incident to arrest, though they may be able to seize the phone and get a warrant later. ... If your phone or electronic device was seized, and is not promptly returned when you are released, you can file a motion with the court to have your property returned."
Cellphones

Samsung Announces Galaxy Alpha Featuring Metal Frame and Rounded Corners 220

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the strange-sense-of-deja-vu dept.
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.
Cellphones

Reversible Type-C USB Connector Ready For Production 191

Posted by Soulskill
from the it's-never-the-facing-the-right-way-on-the-first-try dept.
orasio writes: One of the most frustrating first-world problems ever (trying to connect an upside-down Micro-USB connector) could disappear soon. The Type-C connector for USB has been declared ready for production by the USB Promoter Group (PDF). "With the Type-C spec finalized, it now comes down to the USB-IF to actually implement the sockets, plugs, cables, adapters, and devices. The problem is that there are billions of existing USB devices and cables that will need adapters and new cables to work with new Type-C devices. It’s a lot like when Apple released the Lightning connector, but on an even grander scale. Further exacerbating the issue is the fact that China, the EU, and the GSMA have all agreed that new mobile devices use Micro-USB for charging — though it might be as simple as including a Micro-USB-to-Type-C adapter with every new smartphone."
Cellphones

China Smartphone Maker Xiaomi Apologizes For Unauthorized Data Access 64

Posted by samzenpus
from the our-bad dept.
SpzToid writes Following up an earlier story here on Slashdot, now Xiaomi has apologized for collecting private data from its customers. From the article: "Xiaomi Inc said it had upgraded its operating system to ensure users knew it was collecting data from their address books after a report by a computer security firm said the Chinese budget smartphone maker was taking personal data without permission. The privately held company said it had fixed a loophole in its cloud messaging system that had triggered the unauthorized data transfer and that the operating system upgrade had been rolled out on Sunday. The issue was highlighted last week in a blog post by security firm F-Secure Oyg. In a lengthy blogpost on Google Plus, Xiaomi Vice President Hugo Barra apologized for the unauthorized data collection and said the company only collects phone numbers in users' address books to see if the users are online."
Cellphones

Xiaomi Arrives As Top Smartphone Seller In China 82

Posted by timothy
from the presto-change-oh dept.
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.)
Cellphones

Cell Phone Unlocking Is Legal -- For Now 135

Posted by Soulskill
from the can-successfully-kicked-down-road dept.
On Friday President Obama signed into a law a bill allowing mobile devices to be legally unlocked, so that consumers can switch between carriers. The legislation was kicked off by a successful petition on Whitehouse.gov after the Librarian of Congress decided that cell phones no longer needed an exemption from the Digital Millennium Copyright Act's anti-hacking provision. The legislation (PDF) passed both houses of Congress and is now law. Unfortunately, the new bill doesn't guarantee permanent legality. It simply reinstates the exemption, and leaves the DMCA alone. For the next year, cell phone unlocking will certainly be legal, but after that, the Librarian of Congress once again has the ability to void the exemption once every three years.
Cellphones

Hotel Chain Plans Phone-Based Check-in and Room Access 120

Posted by Soulskill
from the but-i-love-digging-those-keycards-out-of-my-wallet dept.
GTRacer writes: Forbes reports that Hilton Worldwide, international hotel operator, is rolling out smartphone-based guest tools allowing self-service check-in, access to a virtual floorplan to select a room, and (in 2015) actual door access once checked in. The author states the drive for this technology is the growing influence of the swelling ranks of Millennials, who "[...] have a very strong inclination toward automated and self-service customer service." The security risks seem obvious, though.
Android

Google, Linaro Develop Custom Android Edition For Project Ara 46

Posted by timothy
from the things-you-want-to-see-folded-in dept.
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.
Cellphones

Is the App Store Broken? 258

Posted by Soulskill
from the honeymoon-is-over dept.
A recent post by Instapaper's Marco Arment suggests that design flaws in Apple's App Store are harming the app ecosystem, and users are suffering because of it. "The dominance and prominence of 'top lists' stratifies the top 0.02% so far above everyone else that the entire ecosystem is encouraged to design for a theoretical top-list placement that, by definition, won’t happen to 99.98% of them." Arment notes that many good app developers are finding continued development to be unsustainable, while scammy apps are encouraged to flood the market.

"As the economics get tighter, it becomes much harder to support the lavish treatment that developers have given apps in the past, such as full-time staffs, offices, pixel-perfect custom designs of every screen, frequent free updates, and completely different iPhone and iPad interfaces. Many will give up and leave for stable, better-paying jobs. (Many already have.)" Brent Simmons points out the indie developers have largely given up the dream of being able to support themselves through iOS development. Yoni Heisler argues that their plight is simply a consequence of ever-increasing competition within the industry, though he acknowledges that more app curation would be a good thing. What strategies could Apple (and the operators of other mobile application stories) do to keep app quality high?
Cellphones

Samsung Delays Tizen Phone Launch 112

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the enlightenment-deemed-too-cool-for-you dept.
New submitter tekxtc (136198) writes Slashdot has reported in the past that a Tizen phone is coming and that the design and photos leaked. But, it has just been announced that the launch of the first Tizen phone has been delayed because of Tizen's small ecosystem. Should it ever ship? Haven't Android and iOS completely cornered the market? Is there any hope for the likes of Tizen, Firefox OS, and Windows on phones and tablets?
Cellphones

Lots Of People Really Want Slideout-Keyboard Phones: Where Are They? 544

Posted by timothy
from the could-be-anywhere-really dept.
Bennett Haselton writes: I can't stand switching from a slideout-keyboard phone to a touchscreen phone, and my own informal online survey found a slight majority of people who prefer slideout keyboards even more than I do. Why will no carrier make them available, at any price, except occasionally as the crummiest low-end phones in the store? Bennett's been asking around, of store managers and users, and arrives at even more perplexing questions. Read on, below.
Microsoft

Microsoft's Nokia Plans Come Into Better Focus 149

Posted by timothy
from the ringtones-baby-the-future-is-ringtones dept.
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.
Stats

Do Apple and Google Sabotage Older Phones? What the Graphs Don't Show 281

Posted by timothy
from the maybe-apple-fans-are-driven-by-pheremones dept.
Harvard economics professor Sendhil Mullainathan takes a look in the New York Times at interesting correlations between the release dates of new phones and OSes and search queries that indicate frustration with the speed of the phones that people already have. Mullainathan illustrates with graphs (and gives plausible explanations for the difference) just how different the curves are over time for the search terms "iPhone slow" and "Samsung Galaxy slow." It's easy to see with the iPhone graph especially how it could seem to users that Apple has intentionally slowed down older phones to nudge them toward upgrading. While he's careful not to rule out intentional slowing of older phone models (that's possible, after all), Mullainathan cites several factors that mean there's no need to believe in a phone-slowing conspiracy, and at least two big reasons (reputation, liability) for companies — Apple, Google, and cellphone manufacturers like Samsung — not to take part in one. He points out various wrinkles in what the data could really indicate, including genuine but innocent slowdowns caused by optimizing for newer hardware. It's an interesting look at the difference between having mere statistics, no matter how rigorously gathered, and knowing quite what they mean.
Cellphones

Compromise Struck On Cellphone Unlocking Bill 77

Posted by timothy
from the pit-carrier-against-carrier dept.
NotSanguine (1917456) writes The U.S. Senate has passed a bill (S.517) today, allowing users to unlock their phones when moving to another provider. From a recent article at thehill.com: "Consumers should be able to use their existing cell phones when they move their service to a new wireless provider," [Sen. Patrick] Leahy said in a statement. "Our laws should not prohibit consumers from carrying their cell phones to a new network, and we should promote and protect competition in the wireless marketplace," he said. [Sen. Chuck] Grassley called the bipartisan compromise "an important step forward in ensuring that there is competition in the industry and in safeguarding options for consumers as they look at new cell phone contracts." "Empowering people with the freedom to use the carrier of their choice after complying with their original terms of service is the right thing to do," he said. The House in February passed a companion bill sponsored on cellphone unlocking from House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.)." Also at Ars Technica, as pointed out by reader jessepdx.

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