Stagefright, a multimedia library in Android 2.2 and higher, has been exploited again, according to news reports published last week. Zimperium last year reported a Stagefright exploit that it said exposed 95 percent of Android devices. Details of the latest exploit, named “Metaphor,” were published earlier this month in a paper from NorthBit. Metaphor affects Android 2.2-4.0 and 5.0-5.1.
Consumers’ understanding of what encryption does apparently doesn’t determine whether they use the technology, as iPhone owners are much more likely to use encryption than Android users. Most Android phones are not encrypted, either by user choice or manufacturer design. About 95 percent of all iPhones reportedly are encrypted, compared with less than 10 percent of Android phones.
Amazon last week announced that it had reversed a previous decision to drop support for local encryption on version 5 of its Fire tablet operating system. The disclosure came one day after the company joined 14 others to support Apple in its fight against the FBI, which wants the company to create a tool or code to unlock an iPhone that belonged to one of the San Bernardino, California, terrorists.
Canonical on Thursday launched the Aquaris M10 Ubuntu Edition tablet, developed in partnership with BQ. The tablet is the first fully converged Ubuntu device, the company said. It will ship with the latest Ubuntu software and is the first tablet with the Ubuntu OS. The tablet has a 10.1-inch multitactile FHD screen made from Asahi’s Dragontrail glass, which is similar to Gorilla Glass.
Turing Robotic Industries this week announced that it has uninstalled Google’s Android mobile platform in favor of Jolla’s Sailfish OS in its yet-to-appear secure smartphone. The Turing Phone, molded from a single unit of the Liquidmorphium liquid-metal alloy, is designed to be more durable to absorb shocks and prevent screen breakage. Preorder pricing starts at $610.
Mozilla on Wednesday confirmed that it has hung up on the Firefox OS mobile phone and will try using the operating system to dial into other connected device uses instead. The company spent several years developing a browser-based smartphone OS. It ended its sales program of the Firefox mobile operating system to carriers and will no longer develop the OS for smartphones, Mozilla said.
The reviews are out for Google’s Nexus 6P and 5X, unveiled late last month, and they can be summed up in two words: Love them! They’re described as “the best Nexus devices ever produced” and “Google’s answer to Apple’s iPhones,” but those tired phrases are rolled out with every new Nexus or flagship Android smartphone, so what else is new? The camera, for one.
Google on Monday released an over-the-air update for Nexus devices, which includes patches for the latest Stagefright vulnerabilities and other flaws. Android’s Stagefright media processing feature, which recently imperiled 1 billion devices around the world, was once again putting them at risk, Zimperium revealed last week. Zimperium found two new vulnerabilities.
BlackBerry on Friday announced that it would introduce an Android smartphone later this year. The announcement came during the company’s Q2 earnings call. The device will be known as the “Priv” and will be built around user privacy, said CEO John Chen. BlackBerry didn’t offer any specifics about the Priv beyond the name — nothing about pricing, U.S. carrier partners or any handset specs.
Google recently issued a patch for Nexus mobile devices to fix an Android Lollipop vulnerability that lets hackers bypass the lockscreen and gain control of mobile devices. However, it could take weeks to months for manufacturers and service providers to roll out the patch for other Android devices. University of Texas security researcher John Gordon discovered the vulnerability.
BQ last week opened an Ubuntu global store accessible to anyone who wants to buy an Aquaris Ubuntu Edition handset. BQ recently launched the BQ Aquaris E4.5 and E5 HD Ubuntu Edition smartphones in Europe. Both BQ and Canonical, which provides commercial support for Ubuntu Linux, have acknowledged network frequency and mobile operator compatibility issues in some countries, including the U.S.
Zimperium on Monday revealed a stunning discovery by researcher Joshua Drake — a flaw in Android’s Stagefright media playback engine that could expose millions of mobile device users to attack without their having done anything. Stagefright, which processes several popular media formats, is implemented in native code — C++ — which is more prone to memory corruption than some other languages.
It’s rumored that the next version of Android Wear, reportedly scheduled for release in August, will bring tap gestures and watch-to-watch communications. The update initially was scheduled for launch on July 28th. “For now, these features simply bring parity between Android Wear and watchOS,” said IDC analyst Jitesh Ubrani, but neither platform “offers a compelling use case” as yet.
Palo Alto Networks’ Unit 42 team on Tuesday published a report on Gunpoder, a family of Android malware that can evade detection scans by pretending to be adware. Cong Zheng and Zhi Xu authored the report. The team discovered the new Android malware last November. Its new report aims to spur cooperation within the security community to mount defenses against the threat.
Information stored on an Android smartphone or tablet is vulnerable to almost 4,900 new malware files each day, according to a report G Data SecurityLabs released Wednesday. Cybercriminals’ interest in the Android operating system has grown, the firm’s Q1 2015 Mobile Malware Report revealed. The number of new malware samples in the first quarter increased 6.4 percent.
BlackBerry could be considering equipping an upcoming smartphone with Google’s Android operating system, Reuters reported last week. The move would be consistent with BlackBerry’s strategy to focus on software and device management instead of handsets. Such a pivot would take the company away from its current strategy to regain lost market share with a new generation of BlackBerry smartphones.
Russia wants to develop alternatives to proprietary or partly closed mobile operating systems by using open source tools as a foundation, Minister of Telecom and Mass Communications Nikolay Nikiforov said last week. “Success would make a fairly significant impact on the go-to market plans of numerous IT vendors,” said Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT.
Eurecom researchers recently developed an Android app that can monitor the network traffic of other apps to alert users of suspicious or malicious activity. With more than 1.2 million applications in the Google Play store, there are multiple programs for performing a particular task. That can make choosing an app a chore for users, they noted in a report released last month.
Cyanogen, best known for its FOSS Android-based OS, CyanogenMod, soon will provide caller ID screening and spam blocking directly from the native dialer on Cyanogen OS, the commercial version of its operating system. These capabilities will be provided through the company’s global partnership with Truecaller. They will be baked into future smartphone devices preloaded with Cyanogen OS.
Google has announced two new budget-busting Chromebook computers, a tablet/notebook convertible with a full swivel screen, and a Chrome computer-on-a-stick. The Haier Chromebook 11 and the Hisense Chromebook both are available for preorder for $149. The Asus Chromebook Flip will hit the market this spring with a $249 price tag. The Asus Chromebit will be available this summer for less than $100.