Tag: Android

BlackBerry buys a UK company

blackberry-juicerMobile manufacturer BlackBerry said it has bought a UK company Movitu. Financial details of the transaction weren’t revealed.

Movitu makes so called virtual identities for mobile operators that lets many numbers to be active on a single device.

BlackBerry said this help device management for bring your own device (BYOD) and corporate environments.

The Movitu Virtual SIM platform lets business numbers and personal numbers be used on the same device with separate billing for voice, for data and for messaging.

The advantage is that employees can use the same phone for both company business and their own personal use.

The Virtual SIM capabilities will be offered by BlackBerry through mobile operators for all main smartphone operating systems, including Android, iOS and Windows.

Microsoft intros MSN beta

Microsoft campusSoftware giant Microsoft said it has introduced a beta version of its new MSN.

The company said it’s designed for a world where the cloud and mobile are the name of the game.  It has content from major worldwide media and comes with productivity tools.

The software is available on the web right now and will soon be available for Windows, Apple iOS and Android too.

Microsoft claims MSN’s existing audience is 425 million people.

Steve Lynas, the MS suit in charge of MSN, waxed lyrical about the thing. “Microsoft’s DNA is about empowerment,” he said weirdly.  “The new MSN brings together content from over 1,000 publishers with experiences that help people live fuller lives.  We’ve completely reimagined the experience to embrace this opportunity.”

Media mates include the Guardian, the Independent, Sky News and the Telegraph.  It has struck similar deals in other countries across the world.

It’s got reviews of over 1.5 million bottles of wine, and 300,000 recipes.

You can have a dekko at Microsoft’s latest rock star by clicking here.

Gmail a doddle to hack

black holeA hole in Android, Windows, and iOS makes Gmail a doddle to hack to steal personal information.

Researchers at the California Riverside Bourns College of Engineering and the University of Michigan have identified a weakness they believe to exist across Android, Windows, and iOS operating systems that could allow malicious apps to obtain personal information.

So far the attack has been tested only on an Android phone, but it is believed that the method could be used across all three operating systems because all three can access a mobile device’s shared memory.

Zhiyun Qian, an associate professor at UC Riverside aid that one app can in fact significantly impact another and result in harmful consequences for the user.”

First, a user must download an app that appears benign, such as a wallpaper, but actually contains malicious code. Once installed, the researchers can use it to access the shared memory statistics of any process, which does not require any special privileges.

The researchers monitored changes in this shared memory and can correlate see if someone is logging into Gmail, H&R Block, or taking a picture of a cheque to deposit it online via Chase Bank. They managed to hack with a success rate of 82 to 92 percent. Using a few other side channels, the team was able to accurately track what a user was doing in real-time.

It is not that easy. The attack needs to take place at the exact moment that the user is performing the action. Second, the attack needs to be conducted in such a way that the user is unaware of it.

Of the seven apps tested, Amazon was the hardest to crack, with a 48 percent success rate. This is because the app allows one activity to transition to another activity, making it harder to guess what the user will do next.

The team will present its paper, “Peeking into Your App without Actually Seeing It: UI State Inference and Novel Android Attacks” (PDF), at the USENIX Security Symposium in San Diego on August 23. You can watch some short videos of the attacks in action below.

Apache flaw scalps Android

apacheA four year-old hole in a critical part of Google’s Android OS could leave mobile devices that use it susceptible to attack.

Researchers at the firm Bluebox Security said that Android verifies mobile applications using the Apache Harmony module. This module has a flaw in it.

The vulnerability affects devices running Android versions 2.1 to 4.4.

According to Bluebox, Apache Harmony affects Android’s verification of digital signatures that are used to vouch for the identity of mobile applications.

Application signatures are the basis of the Android application trust model and link different applications with a reputable certificate authority.

Mobile application signatures on Android are secured using a Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) with certificate authorities.

But the package installer component of older versions of Android do not attempt to determine the authenticity of certificate chains that are used to vouch for new digital identity certificates.

This means that a hacker can build a certificate and claim it has been issued by another identity, and the Android cryptographic code will not check.

If a hacker faked an Adobe Systems certificate vulnerable versions of Android will treat the application as if it was actually signed by Adobe.

It would give it access to local resources, like the special webview plugin privilege, that can be used to sidestep security controls and virtual ‘sandbox’ environments.

Apache Harmony was abandoned in 2011 and was supposed to offer an open source alternative to Oracle’s Java technology. Google turned to Harmony as an alternative means of supporting Java after failing to strike a deal with Oracle to license Java.

Google continued to use Android libraries that were based on Harmony code even after the project was abandoned.

Google said that it is working with Bluebox to fix the vulnerability and has quickly issued a patch that was distributed to Android partners.


KitKat will always be in Jelly Bean shadow

android-china-communistHopes that the use of Android 4.4 KitKat would continue to grow dramatically appear to be unfounded.

In May there was a sudden rise in the use of Android 4.4 by five percent.  That led many to predict a meteoric rise in the use of the operating system.

However figures reported this month show a much more modest growth.

Google said that based on data collected in a 7-day period ending 7th July, which shows that Android 4.4 KitKat is sitting at a 17.9 per cent distribution. This is a slight increase from before but the increase of 4.3% is slightly less than the 5.1 percent from May.

Numbers for older builds of Android have started to decrease as well. Gingerbread has fallen from 14.9 per cent to 13.5 per cent which finally allowed KitKat to overtake it. Froyo has dropped as well from 0.8 per cent  to 0.7 per cent  Ice Cream Sandwich from 12.3 per cent to 11.4 per cent; and Jelly Bean from 58.4 per cent to 56.5 per cent which still puts it in the majority.

Various OEMs such as Motorola and OnePlus promise to update their products to Android L it seems unlikely that Android 4.4 KitKat will ever do as well as  Jelly Bean.

Tablet sales to go sky high

ipad3There will be a 30.9 percent rise on tablets shipped in the second quarter of 2014 compared to Q2 2013 – that’s 61.42 million units.

Digitimes Research said that Apple will continue to rule the roost as the biggest vendor but its share is falling.

Of the 61.42 million units shipped, 13.5 million will be iPads, 24.62 million non Apple tabs, and 23.3 million will be white box jobbies.

The research outfit said Apple will have 22 percent of shipments, closely followed by Samsung with 20 percent. Other vendors lag behind.

Android devices will account for 58.9 percent of shipments, Apple’s iOS 35.4 percent and Windows way back with only 5.7 percent.

Tab market booms in MEA

tablet-womanWhile Western Europe and the USA are showing signs of saturation for tablet sales, it looks like some regions are continuing to boom.

A report from IDC said that PC tablets grew 111 percent year on year in the last quarter of 2013 in the Middle East and African (MEA) markets.

Shipments amounted to 3.45 million units and both the home segment and the corporate segment showed steady growth. The educational market also saw growth.

Huawei won a deal to supply around 90,000 units in South Africa in the education sector.

Android wins the game – 2.8 million units shipped up 16 percent compared to the same quarter in 2012.  iOS fell and Windows OS lost share in Q4 2013.

Top vendor was Samsung, followed by Apple, Lenovo, Asus and Huawei.

The PC market will fall further in 2014, while tablets will grow significantly, IDC said.

Tablet growth slows

ipad3Despite phenomenal growth in sales during 2013, it seems that the tablet market will slow down during this year.

That’s according to market research company IDC that said the total tablet market – including stand alone units and 2-in-1 devices – will grow by 19.4 percent this year, down from 51.6 percent in 2013.

There is slowing growth at the consumer end of the market, and average selling prices (ASPs) have fallen rapidly in the tablet market.

Prices in 2013 dropped by 14.6 percent but IDC said price erosion “has started to slowly bottom out”, meaning ASPs will only fall by 3.6 percent this year.

Tom Mainelli, who runs devices and displays at IDC, said the white box tablet market will slow this year.  In mature markets, people are sticking with their current tablets and few feel the need to upgrade them, he said.

But there’s always a silver lining to every cloud. He said that commercial shipments are set to go up and while tablet growth has largely been confined to verticals like education, in the future tablets will penetrate SMEs globally.  And that will give a boost to Microsoft Windows.

Jitesh Ubrani, a research colleague of Mainelli, thinks that Android and iOS will stay as the dominant forces although Windows could grab more than a quarter of the market in the future.

Tablets continue their march forwards

cheap-tablets230 million smart connected devices – a term including smartphones, PCs and tablets – shipped in 2013 in Europe.

That’s according to a report from IDC today, which said that although growth was slightly down compared to 2012, the market continues to be one of the fastest growing IT sectors.

Tablets, particularly, will drive the sector during this year – shipments in Europe are likely to grow by 17.6 percent.  45 million units sold in Western Europe in 2013 – that’s a growth of 51.4 percent oer the previous year.  IDC thinks tablets will continue to show strong growth over the next three years.

The news is far gloomier for PCs – the market for consumer devices fell by 2.4 percent in Q4 2013. Enterprise sales, hwever, grew by 3.5 percent.

Smartphones are the undoubted king of the connected castle though. IDC said that they hogged 55 percent of the the sector, with 38 million units shipping  in Q4 2013.

Here is the breakdown of the market leaders in the sector, according to IDC.

Android still miles ahead of iOS

googleplaycardsA report said that Google’s Android operating system is the leader of the pack for smartphone operating systems.

IDC said that it had a 39 percent share of shipments in the fourth quarter of 2013, amounting to 226.1 million units and giving it a 78.1 percent market share.

Signficantly behind was the Apple iOS, shipping 51 million units and holding a 17.6 percent share.

Next came Windows Phone, with volumes of 8.8 million units and a three percent market share. It showed the largest increase for the quarter with 46.7 percent growth in the quarter.

Blackberry held 0.6 percent of the market and saw a steep decline of 77 percent compared to the same quarter in 2012.

For the whole of 2013, the Android operating system shipped 793.6 million units out of an overall market of just over a billion units.

Apple will beat up Android

smartphones-genericA report claims that despite the surge in sales of devices using the Google Android operating system, it will be hard for it to triumph over Apple and it’s IOS in the long term.

Foolproof claims that smartphone penetration will hit 75 percent of the UK population this year and demographics don’t count any more. But surely cost must be a factor.

Philip Morton, a principal consultant at the company said: “Ultimately what Apple does, it does better than Android.”

He claims that people are beginning to realise that they have a computer in their pocket rather than a phone. Morton claims the iPhone is the best smartphone.

It surveyed 450 people in September last year. It came up with this highly coloured graphic that underlines its notions.Foolproof

Android to hit one billion users

pc-sales-slumpA report from market research company Gartner said gadgets including PCs, tablets, ultramobile and phones will grow by 7.6 percent this year.

And the Android OS is set to exceed a billion users during the course of the year. By 2017, Gartner said, 75 percent of Android volumes will come from emerging market.

It’s not good for companies tied to the traditional PC market however. Ranjit Atwal, a research director of Gartner, said users were moving away from traditional PCs such as desktops and  notebooks and the better flexibility of hybrids, tablets and light notebooks are seen as better by many.

Gartner says 1.9 billion mobile phones will ship this yer, and smaller tablets will edge larger tablets out and compete with hybrids, said Atwal.

The report shows an inexorable move away from PCs – both notebooks and desktops from 341,273 thousands of units in 2012 to 268,491 thousand in 2015.

The tablet market will grow by 47 percent this year with lower average selling prices.  The PC market will be flat this year, but will get a boost from Windows ultramobiles.

Intel refuses to give up on tablets

Intel-logoNever one to give up even when the battle’s already lost, chip behemoth Intel is apparently preparing a big notebook push.

According to Taiwanese wire Digitimes, which claims to have information frm the supply chain, Intel will unveil a plethora of chips that support entry level and high end tablets.

And, in bitter news for its long time “friend” Microsoft, Intel will introduce CPUs that support Android operating systems at the end of this year.

Bay Trail Android CPUs aimed at seven inch tablets will cost between $99 and $129 while it will also introduce other chips in the first quarter of next year costing between $149 to $199.

Bay Trail and Cherry Trail CPUs will look to target eight to 10 inch tablets and cost a staggering $199 to $249.

And in September next year, Cherry Trail will emerge from the factories using 14 nanometre “Airmont” manufactures – Another Trail blazer wll be Willow Trail at the same time, using 14 nanometre Goldmont, according to Digitimes.

And it seems Chipzilla hasn’t given up the ghost on smartphones and will intro 22 nanometre chips.

It’s hard to see how Intel can possibly catch up this late in the game, but it sure looks like it’s going to give it a stab.

Android leaps ahead in smartphone sales

Keep taking the tabletsA report from analyst company Gartner shows that while the Android OS has lept ahead in the third quarter of 2013, Apple’s iOS has lost share.

According to Gartner figures, Android has 81.9 percent share, iOS 12.1 percent, and Microsoft 3.6 percent.  In the same quarter last year, the figures were 72.6 percent, 14.3 percent and 2.3 percent respectively.

Gartner attributes growth of Microsoft sales to decline in the shares of other OSes – particularly Blackberry, which had 1.8 percent in Q3 2013 compared to 5.2 percent in the same period last year.

On the smartphone device front, Samsung has 32.1 percent, Apple 12.1 percent, Lenovo 5.1 percent, and LG 4.8 percent for the third quarter.

The figures for smartphones shipped for the whole year is expected to reach 1.81 billion units, up 3.4 percent from 2012. Gartner thinks that in mature markets, people will buy smaller sized tablet over replacing older smartphones.

White box tablets make the grade

ipad3A report said that shipments of unbranded tablets amounted to 25 million in the third quarter of this year.

Digitimes Research said that figure is up by 56.3 percent sequentially and up 40.4 percent year on year.

Most of the shipments went abroad and seven inch screens accounted for most of the growth.

Yet the research outfit believes it won’t be all plain sailing for the white box suppliers because big brands will, and are, offering Android units at prices that compete with the white box units.

Mediatek continues to make progress in the sector, with its chips accounting for 70 percent of application processors.

Sales in Europe and the US of white box units often accompany other bundling deals, but the Chinese manufacturers of the tablets can expect to make headway in Eastern Europe, Southeast Asia and Latin America, according to the research.