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Android Malware Using Twitter To Communicate With Infected Phones

August 26, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

Twitter-on-smartphones-150x150Twitter users aren’t the only ones getting updates from the micro-blogging social media site. One maker of Android malware is also using Twitter to communicate with infected smartphones, according to security firm ESET.

The company uncovered the feature in a malicious app called Android/Twitoor. It runs as a backdoor virus that can secretly install other malware on a phone.

Typically, the makers of Android malware control their infected smartphones from servers. Commands sent from those servers can create a botnet of compromised phones and tell the malware on all the phones what to do.

The makers of Android/Twitoor decided to use Twitter instead of servers to communicate with the infected phones. The malware routinely checks certain Twitter accounts and reads the encrypted posts to get its operating commands.

Lukas Stefanko, an ESET researcher, said in a blog post that this was an innovative approach.  It removes the need to maintain a command and control server, and the communications with the Twitter accounts can be hard to discover.

“It’s extremely easy for the crooks to re-direct communications to another freshly created account,” he said.

ESET said this was first Twitter-controlled Android botnet it had ever found. Windows-based botnets using Twitter have been around since at least 2009.

ESET said Android/Twitoor hasn’t been detected in any app stores, so it probably spreads through malicious links sent to the victim. The malware pretends to be a porn player or multimedia messaging app, and it’s only been active for about a month.

So far, Android/Twitoor has been found downloading versions of mobile banking malware to users’ phones.

“In the future, we can expect that the bad guys will try to make use of Facebook statuses or deploy LinkedIn and other social networks,” Stefanko added.

Drones Take On Pizza Delivery

August 26, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Drone-pizza-delivery-150x150A New Zealand pizza chain wants to be the world’s first company to offer a commercial drone delivery service, a milestone in the quest to save time and money with an air-borne supply chain dispensing with people.

Some of the world’s biggest companies including Amazon.com Inc and Google, or Alphabet Inc as it is known, have plans to make deliveries by drone and aviation authorities in the United States, Britain, Australia and New Zealand have been relaxing rules to allow air deliveries.

Last month, U.S. convenience store chain 7-Eleven Inc conducted the first single commercial drone delivery – coffee, donuts and a chicken sandwich – as part of a trial.

Domino’s Pizza Enterprises Ltd conducted a demonstration pizza delivery by drone in the New Zealand city of Auckland on Thursday, and afterwards said it aimed to be the first company to launch a regular drone service, late this year.

“We’ve always said that it doesn’t make sense to have a 2-tonne machine delivering a 2-kilogram order,” Domino’s Chief Executive Officer Don Meij said in a statement.

With clear skies and small population of 4.4 million, New Zealand last year became one of the world’s first countries to clear commercial drone deliveries.

“Our enabling laws and regulation means we have the ideal environment,” New Zealand Transport Minister Simon Bridges said after the Domino’s test flight.

But Philip Solaris, director of another drone company, X-craft Enterprises, said that while New Zealand has accommodating regulations on drones, Domino’s would be held back by a rule requiring drones to be kept in sight at all times.

“I can’t truly see how commercially viable that idea is because you would have to literally have somebody walking along to keep it in the line of sight, watching it at all times,” Solaris said.

Domino’s service would still need to overcome “random hazards (like) power lines, moving vehicles, children in the backyard playing”, he said.

The Domino’s and 7-Eleven deliveries both used drones provided by U.S.-headquarted Australian drone company Flirtey.

 

Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 Sales Exceed Supply Chain’s Expectations

August 25, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

Galaxy-Note-7-150x150Better-than-expected demand for Samsung Electronics Co Ltd’s new Galaxy Note 7 is creating supply problems worldwide, the South Korean tech giant said, suggesting strong initial sales for the new premium smartphone.

While robust demand could help deliver another solid quarter of earnings, Samsung also risks missing out on potential sales if it cannot boost supply quickly. Rivals such as Apple Inc are poised to launch new phones which could pull customers away from Samsung if a shortage persists.

“As pre-order results for the Galaxy Note 7 have far exceeded our estimates, its release date in some markets has been adjusted,” Samsung told Reuters in a statement without commenting on where launch delays could occur.

Production problems for the curved displays for the Galaxy S6 edge phone resulted in disappointing sales last year, and some investors fear a repeat if the world’s top smartphone maker does not move quickly to meet Note 7 demand.

Samsung said it was trying to boost production at the secret locations where the Notes are made, and aimed to meet demand “as early as possible”. It gave no further details.

A person familiar with the matter told Reuters there was no production issue for the curved screens used on the Galaxy Note 7 and that the shortage would not be a long-term problem.

“The party got more visitors than Samsung expected, so they just need to put more food out,” said Nomura analyst C.W. Chung, who said the supply situation was not a major risk given that Samsung made key parts such as displays and chips in-house.

Samsung could sell as many as 15 million Galaxy Note 7 phones this year, Chung said, compared with an estimated 9 million Galaxy Note 5 phones sold last year.

The phone went on sale on Aug. 19 in countries including the United States and South Korea, where it retails for 988,900 won ($882).

 

Samsung To Offer A Third Tizen OS Smartphone

August 24, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

Tizen-OS-150x150South Korean electronics giant Samsung Electronics Co Ltd announced that it will begin selling its third smartphone powered by the company’s own Tizen mobile operating system in India next week.

The Z2 phone, equipped with a 4-inch screen and India-specific features such as a safety mode for motorcyclists, will be the cheapest Tizen phone Samsung has launched to date at 4,590 rupees ($68.44).

The phone, the first Tizen-powered device that will run on 4G networks, will start selling in India on Aug. 29.

The world’s top maker of smartphones, televisions and memory chips is trying to reduce its dependence on Google, whose Android operating system powers Samsung’s Galaxy smartphones.

The firm has been using Tizen on products ranging from TVs, home appliances and wearable products to enable the devices to communicate with each other and phones via the internet.

Samsung has so far kept Tizen for a small number of markets such as India and Bangladesh, where many potential customers are still first-time buyers looking for a cheap device and do not necessarily need a big library of apps.

The firm declined to comment on sales figures but analysts have said the Z2’s predecessors have found some success.

 

Intel To Focus On The Backend For 5G

August 24, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

Fresh after scoring a reasonably sized contract for the iPhone, Intel is getting more excited about its mobile business and is talking about its 5G plans.

5G is a good thing to talk about as there is no standard yet and it could be years away before carriers think of moving to away from 4G. However, it does inspire confidence that companies, like Intel are busy researching it.

However the Intel Developer Forum (IDF),in San Francisco heard how Intel is not that interested in trying to create 5G modems for mobiles and will instead focus on the back-end infrastructure supporting the technology.

Intel said that while 5G will power the mobile internet, Intel believes there will be a lot of room for its processors and data centers to look after the millions of sensors, cars and internet of things devices which will all be part of it.

Intel said that 2G networks were about phones and voice, and it was rolling out 4G there were requirements that hadn’t been planned for when it was originally designed.

While 5G is expected to start appearing by 2020, it should support IoT devices, as well as broadcast-like services and lifeline communications. This means that the backbone of datacenters will need to be in place to make it go.

While Intel has been talking about this backbone, it does seem odd that it is not mentioned much about the modem front end of the technology. Our guess is that it is something that Intel cannot ignore and does not appear to be doing so, with its various Internet of Things gadgets.

Courtesy-Fud

Smartphones Sales Posts 4% Gain In Second Quarter

August 23, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

smartphones-decline-150x150Global smartphone sales enjoyed a 4.3% bump in the second quarter compared to a year ago, but iPhone sales declined for the third straight quarter, market research firm Gartner announced.

Gartner’s figures for second-quarter smartphone growth were more optimistic than numbers reported by Strategy Analytics and Canalys recently. Both had reported modest growth of no more than 3% in smartphone shipments.

IDC last month reported second-quarter shipments were flat, growing just 0.3%.

Gartner’s numbers show that Apple’s iPhone sales dropped 7.7% in the second quarter, with 44.4 million phones sold globally, down from 48 million a year earlier. This decreased Apple’s market share to 12.9%, down from 14.6% a year earlier. Even so, Apple was second globally in smartphone sales.

Meanwhile, Samsung was the top smartphone seller, with 76.7 million smartphones sold, compared with 72 million sold a year earlier. That increase boosted its share to 22.3%, up from 21.8%.

Gartner said Samsung benefited by sales of the Galaxy A and Galaxy J series of smartphones which competed well against devices from Chinese smartphone makers.

Apple’s declines were the worst of any market in greater China and mature markets in Asia/Pacific, decreasing by 26%. There were also declines for Apple in North America and Western Europe, but there was a big jump of 95% in Eurasia, Sub-Saharan Africa and Eastern Europe.

Gartner ranked Huawei, Oppo and Xiaomi, in order, for third to fifth biggest in sales. Android devices were 86% of the total market, compared to 14.6% for iOS and 2.5% for Windows. Overall sales reached 344 million, up from 330 million a year earlier.

 

HipChat Adds Videocalling Feature

August 22, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Hipchat-video-calls-150x150It just became easier for HipChat customers to see one another whenever they want it. The company launched new group video calling and screen sharing functionality that lets up to 10 other people share a virtual face-to-face meeting.

Users can spin up a call in a HipChat channel, or bring additional people into a one-on-one video call. That way, people who work in far-flung teams can get onto the same page face-to-face, using the same software that they count on for text chat during the day.

HipChat’s announcement Thursday is a move to compete with both consumer services like Skype and Google Hangouts, as well as workplace videoconferencing systems like Lifesize and Skype for Business. The launch is particularly important for HipChat’s competition with Slack, which recently added group voice calls and has video calling on its roadmap.

Group video calls are only available for teams that pay for HipChat Plus, which costs $2 per user per month.

The new video calling features are based on technology HipChat vendor Atlassian acquired with the JitSi open source video-conferencing product. The company still makes the open source version available, but this integration brings video calling into HipChat natively.

Right now, group video calling is only available on HipChat’s desktop apps, but it will make its way to mobile in some form in the future.

It will be interesting to see how quickly Slack can answer with video calling features of its own, after the high-flying productivity startup acquired screen sharing company Screenhero in January 2015.

Some teams may still find themselves in need of dedicated videoconferencing services, if they use specialized hardware for video meetings or if their needs exceed what HipChat can offer. For example, meetings in HipChat can’t have moderators with special privileges, and are limited to 10 participants at launch.

 

Hyundai, Google Discussing Self-driving Car Deal

August 22, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Hyundai-Motor-150x150Hyundai President Jeong Jin Haeng said that his company is holding discussions with Alphabet’s Google unit about helping it develop a self-driving car.

The world’s fifth largest automaker hopes to enter into a symbiotic relationship, where it will bring its manufacturing prowess to Google and the Silicon Valley giant will help the automaker’s autonomous technology development.

“Hyundai is lagging behind the competition to develop autonomous vehicles,” Ko Tae Bong, senior auto analyst at Hi Investment & Securities Co, told Bloomberg News. “It’s not a choice but a critical prerequisite for Hyundai to cooperate with IT companies, such as Google, to survive in the near future.”

At a news conference with Korea’s Minister of Trade on Wednesday, Haeng said that “because Google is not too familiar with vehicles” his company can help with the execution of Google’s self-driving vehicle, which is one of the most advanced in the market.

The two companies are already connected in that Google’s self-driving vehicle project is being led by John Krafcik, the former CEO of Hyundai Motor America; Krafcik left Hyundai in 2013.

Hyundai also has been among the most aggressive automakers adopting Alphabet’s Android Auto and Apple’s CarPlay, which allow the iPhone and Android smartphones to connect wirelessly to car infotainment systems.

Google’s self-driving vehicle division has also joined forces with major carmakers and ride-sharing services to form a coalition to lobby lawmakers and regulators for faster adoption of self-driving car technology.

In all, five companies — Alphabet, Ford, Lyft, Volvo and Uber — formed the Self-Driving Coalition for Safer Streets coalition. Its mission: to spur the federal government to usurp a “patchwork” of state driving laws that could hinder autonomous vehicle acceptance.

 

Major Technology Giants Join Forces To Crackdown on ‘Robocalls’

August 22, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Robocalls-150x150Major technology and communication companies announced they are joining the U.S. government to crack down on “robocalls,” automated, prerecorded phone calls that regulators have labeled a “scourge.”

AT&T Inc, Google parent Alphabet Inc, Apple Inc, Verizon Communications Inc and Comcast Corp are among members of the “Robocall Strike Force” that held its first meeting with the U.S. Federal Communications Commission.

The strike force will report to the FCC by Oct. 19 on “concrete plans to accelerate the development and adoption of new tools and solutions,” said AT&T Chief Executive Officer Randall Stephenson, chairman of the group.

The strike force hopes to implement Caller ID verification standards to help block calls from spoofed phone numbers and consider a “Do Not Originate” list that would block spoofers from impersonating legitimate phone numbers from governments, banks or others.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler in July urged major companies to take new action to block robocalls, which often come from telemarketers or scam artists.

“This scourge must stop,” Wheeler said on Friday, calling robocalls the No. 1 complaint from consumers.

“The bad guys are beating the good guys with technology,” Wheeler said. In the past, he has said robocalls continue “due in large part to industry inaction.”

Stephenson emphasized “the breadth and complexity” of the problem.

“This is going to require more than individual company initiatives and one-off blocking apps,” Stephenson said. “Robocallers are a formidable adversary, notoriously hard to stop.”

The FCC does not require robocall blocking and filtering but has strongly encouraged phone service providers to offer those services at no charge.

The strike force brings together carriers, device makers, operating system developers, network designers and the government.

Other companies taking part include Blackberry Ltd, British Telecommunications Plc, Charter Communications Inc, Frontier Communications, LG Electronics Inc, Microsoft Corp, Nokia Corp, Qualcomm Inc, Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, Sirius XM Holdings Inc, T-Mobile US Inc and U.S. Cellular Corp.

Consumers Union, a public advocacy group, said the task force is a sign “phone companies are taking more serious steps to protect their customers from unwanted calls.”

nVidia Dumps The Shield Tablet

August 17, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

According to leaked FCC documentation, it appears that Nvidia has decided to cancel its new Shield Tablet, that was earlier spotted in the in the FCC filing.

According to a leaked document from Federal Communications Commission (FCC) database, dated August 1st and spotted by Androidpolice.com, Nvidia has decided to cancel the tablet “for business reasons”.

The earlier rumored Shield Tablet refresh, which was spotted at FCC, packed some impressive specifications, including an 8-inch 1920×1200 resolution screen, faster Tegra X1 SoC, 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage.

The most probable reason is the decline in tablet sales and Nvidia’s focus on cars.

Hopefully, this doesn’t mean that we won’t see any more tablets or similar devices from Nvidia in future but not the new Shield Tablet.

Courtesy-Fud

 

HP Building Mobile Device Strategy Around Windows 10

August 15, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

HP has experimented with many operating systems over the last few years, but the company always returns back to Microsoft’s Windows.

The company is building a mobile device strategy around Windows 10 Mobile and is slowly cutting its reliance on Android, once high on the company’s list for tablets and PCs.

HP has discontinued low-cost Android tablets, and two remaining enterprise tablets feature aging hardware and an old version of the OS. Company executives have said future mobile devices will be built around Windows 10 unless there’s significant new demand for Android.

HP is following the lead of Dell, which has cut Android devices to focus on Windows. Lenovo, meanwhile, still sells Android tablets and smartphones but is cutting its number of Android tablets and increasing its number of Windows 2-in-1s.

The goal for HP is simple: to unify products around one OS, much like Apple. That’s a challenge facing Samsung, with its PCs on Windows, tablets and smartphones on Android, and wearables and smart TVs on Tizen. Samsung is still working to put the pieces together to ensure all devices communicate flawlessly, but the company claimed progress during the recent launch of Galaxy Note 7.

HP is re-entering the smartphone market its Elite X3 handset, which runs Windows 10 Mobile. The company is building its smartphone strategy around Windows 10 Mobile, which had just a 0.7 percent market share in the first quarter, according to Gartner.

HP says Elite X3 can be a PC replacement with help from cloud services and accessories. Users will be able to run Universal Windows apps on PCs and smartphones. HP also plans to bring augmented reality apps on HoloLens to the Elite X3.

“We’re not trying to hit the volumes and scales of Android,” Park said. “We’re going after IT shops. There are a lot of people in the commercial domain who are not using Pokemon Go.”

HP has said it doesn’t want to sell low-cost devices and has cut many Android devices in the process. But the same strategy doesn’t apply to Windows — this week it announced low-cost Stream notebooks running Windows 10 starting at US$199.

 

 

 

 

Intel Goes Deeper Into A.I. With Nervana

August 15, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

Intel has acquired artificial intelligence (AI) startup Nervana Systems in a bid to future-proof its data centre business and shift focus away from the flailing PC market.

Intel hasn’t revealed the financial details of the deal, but Recode reported that the company paid “more than $400m”, citing an anonymous source.

Nervana, a 48-person firm based in San Diego, California led by co-founder Naveen Rao, a former Qualcomm researcher, was founded in 2014 and offers a fully optimized software and hardware stack for deep learning.

The firm’s cloud-based service allows businesses to build and deploy applications that make use of deep learning, and Nervana has developed a custom processor, known as an ASIC, especially for deep learning.

Intel is looking to the firm to bolster its own deep learning credentials, betting big on the fact that AI represents the next big shift in corporate data centres. The purchase also sees the firm moving away from the PC market, which hasn’t been going too well for Intel lately.

Diane Bryant, executive vice president and general manager of Intel’s Data Centre Group, said: “I’m excited to announce that Intel signed a definitive agreement to acquire Nervana Systems, a recognized leader in deep learning.

“Their IP and expertise in accelerating deep learning algorithms will expand Intel’s capabilities in the field of AI. We will apply Nervana’s software expertise to further optimise the Intel Math Kernel Library and its integration into industry-standard frameworks.

“Nervana’s engine and silicon expertise will advance Intel’s AI portfolio and enhance the deep learning performance and TCO of Intel Xeon and Xeon Phi processors.”

Rao added: “The semiconductor integrated circuit is one of humanity’s crowning achievements and Intel has the best semiconductor technology in the world.

“Nervana’s AI expertise combined with Intel’s capabilities and huge market reach will allow us to realize our vision and create something truly special.”

Intel’s acquisition of Nervana comes just days after Apple scooped up an AI startup called Turi. The firm handed over £150m for the Seattle-based firm, according to reports.

Courtesy-TheInq

 

Chrome Sets December As Deadline For Purging Flash Content

August 12, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Google has set an early December deadline for removing most Flash content from its Chrome browser, adding that it will take an interim step next month when it stops rendering Flash-based page analytics.

In a post to a company blog, Anthony LaForge, a technical program manager on the Chrome team, said the browser would refuse to display virtually all Flash content starting with version 55, which is scheduled for release the week of Dec. 5.

Previously, Google had used a broader deadline of this year’s fourth quarter for quashing all Flash content except for that produced by a select list of 10 sites, including Amazon, Facebook and YouTube.

Another anti-Flash change will reach Chrome with version 53, now slated to ship the week of Sept. 5. At that time, Chrome will stop rendering very small Flash elements, which are invisible to users but generate data for Web analytics platforms.

LeForge’s latest deadlines were what will probably be among the closing moves in Chrome’s years-long campaign to eradicate Flash. Like other browser makers — including Apple, Microsoft and Mozilla — Google has championed the elimination of Adobe’s once-dominant media player by arguing that it results in longer laptop battery life, faster page rendering and improved security.

Apple’s Safari has frozen some Flash content since 2013, and will beat Chrome to the no-Flash milestone when it ships Safari 10 with macOS Sierra between now and October: Then, Safari will default to HTML5 and only alert users that a site supports just Flash with a message that they need to download the plug-in. Microsoft’s Edge — Windows 10’s default browser — froze some Flash content in the version bundled with last week’s 1607 upgrade.

Mozilla has only begun to restrict Flash content inside its Mozilla browser. While the open-source developer has said it will require users next year to manually activate the Flash Player plug-in, it has not revealed a timetable for more drastic constraints, like those Google announced.

 

 

Is Blackberry Turning Into A Patent Troll?

August 11, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

Troubled mobile phone maker BlackBerry has decided to make a bit more money by suing those it thinks stole its ideas.

A patent lawsuit has been launched against internet telephony outfit Avaya. However in making its case that Avaya should pay royalties, BlackBerry appears to be looking at what it has done rather than what it is doing. The firm argues that it should be paid for its history of innovation going back nearly 20 years.

The court papers say:

“BlackBerry revolutionised the mobile industry. BlackBerry… has invented a broad array of new technologies that cover everything from enhanced security and cryptographic techniques, to mobile device user interfaces, to communication servers, and many other areas.”

BlackBerry claims Avaya infringes eight US Patents:

Nos. 9,143,801 and 8,964,849, relating to “significance maps” for coding video data;

No. 8,116,739, describing methods of displaying messages;

No. 8,886,212, describing tracking location of mobile devices;

No. 8,688,439, relating to speech decoding and compression;

No. 7,440,561, describing integrating wireless phones into a PBX network;

No. 8,554,218, describing call routing methods; and

No. 7,372,961, a method of generating a cryptographic public key.

The oldest is 1998 and the most recent is 2011..

Products targeted by Blackberry include Avaya’s video conferencing systems, Avaya Communicator for iPad, a product that connects mobile users to IP Office systems, and various IP desk phones. .

The BlackBerry complaint states that the company notified Avaya of its alleged infringement of those specific patents in a letter dated December 17, 2015, which must have come as a bit of a surprise. It has been filed in the Northern District of Texas, which is less because the region is more patent friendly (like East Texas) but because it is where Avaya does business and maintains a two-story office.

BlackBerry has hired top patent lawyer Quinn Emanuel. The firm defended Samsung in the high-profile Apple v. Samsung case and has taken on various cases for Google.

Last year Cisco paid a “license fee” to Blackberry. Details were few and far between but it seems to have been to make Blackberry lawyers go away. In May, BlackBerry CEO John Chen told investors on an earnings call that he was in “patent licensing mode,” eager to monetize his company’s 38,000 patents.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Google Acquires Cloud-computing Startup Orbitera

August 10, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

Google has purchased Orbitera, a startup that aims to make it easier for software vendors to sell cloud-based products to enterprise customers. The startup gives software vendors a suite of tools for deploying and managing cloud applications and for billing businesses that use them.

Orbitera supports deploying applications on Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure, not Google Cloud Platform. Google said it will continue to support software deployments on platforms other than its own. That’s similar to its approach to Stackdriver, a cloud monitoring tool that works with GCP and AWS.

One of Orbitera’s key features is a service that lets companies try out enterprise software using the cloud. Vendors can set up profiles for proof-of-concept environments that are then automatically deployed on the cloud platform of their choice when a user requests a trial.

Google’s announcement explicitly states that it’s aiming to support businesses with multi-cloud deployments. That’s a somewhat different approach to Amazon and Microsoft. While they both support multi-cloud deployments, their marketing is focused on getting customers to standardize on their own services.

DC analyst Al Hilwa said the move is a way for Google to build credibility with enterprises.

“Google is aggressively building its enterprise credibility in the cloud, so perhaps they believe that this will allow them to build on the ecosystem side, which is always a great area to increase community engagement and adoption,” he said.

Because Orbitera doesn’t require customers to use GCP, Hilwa said it’s possible the deal might not drive any new growth for Google’s cloud.

The deal also seems to mesh nicely with Google’s acquisition of Bebop, the startup helmed by Diane Greene before she became head of the company’s cloud division. Bebop was building tools to help businesses more easily build cloud apps. If Google is able to fuse the two, it could help companies build cloud apps and then turn them into commercial products.

 

 

 

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