Android Pay: Mobile Payment Systems, Unite

Google this week confirmed that it’s preparing to launch a mobile payments framework called “Android Pay.” Google SVP of Product Sundar Pichai discussed the project at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain. Android Pay will be an API layer of Android. Google will incorporate standard features for mobile payments, such as tokenized card numbers, into an Android Pay software development kit.

First Ubuntu Smartphone to Arrive in Europe Next Week

The first smartphone to be powered by the open source Ubuntu operating system will arrive at retail in Europe beginning on Monday, Feb. 9. The Aquaris E4.5 will be offered to early adopters via a series of “flash sales” across the continent. The unlocked phone will retail for 169.90 euros or roughly US$195, without the need for a contract.

Adobe Opens Lightroom’s Door to Android

Adobe last week released an Android mobile app as a companion to its Lightroom desktop application and cloud service. Adobe released a mobile app for iOS last year. The new app will include all of the functionality of the iOS mobile app — but refined to take advantage of the Android platform, according to Shared Mangalick, senior product manager for photography at Adobe.

Samsung Tries Out Tizen in India

Samsung has released the first Tizen-powered smartphone for India, the Samsung Z1. The Tizen phone offers localized entertainment apps and a simpler user interface than Android, the company said. Tizen is an open source platform that Samsung has taken the lead in developing. It is an offshoot of the Linux OS. Tizen OS 2.3 enables faster boot time and quicker access to apps than other mobile OSes.

NotCompatible Mobile Malware Gets Badder

A new version of the NotCompatible malware, which first appeared in 2012, is bigger, badder and pretty much indestructible, Lookout Security reported. And it can compromise corporate networks, thanks to the BYOD trend. The malware, called “NotCompatible C,” focuses on Android devices. The NotCompatible Trojan is used to spread spam campaigns, among other nefarious activities.

Jolla’s Open Source Tablet Gets Crazy Crowd Love

Jolla, the company set up by former Nokia executives to keep the Meego operating system alive, raised more than $841,000 on Wednesday, the first day of its Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign. That’s 221 percent of its goal of $380,000 — and the campaign has 21 days to go, closing Dec. 9. Nearly 5,325 people have contributed to the campaign, although only about 3,800 actually purchased the tablets.

Android Hoards 84 Percent Smartphone OS Market Share

Google’s Android stole share from all of its major mobile OS rivals over the past year to achieve a whopping smartphone market dominance of roughly 84 percent in the third quarter of 2014, according to a new Strategy Analytics report. Apple’s iOS, which weighed in with about 12 percent, lost more than a point of share to Android since the same quarter a year ago.

Mobile Database Management’s Coming of Age

The push is on for mobile database management tools built from the ground up to run directly inside phones, tablets and wearables. These mobile database solutions are being designed to do what heavyweight open source solutions like SQLite, Cord Data, MySQL and PostgreSQL were not designed to do. Some 4.55 billion people worldwide are using mobile phones this year.

Android Wear Gets Its First Big Update

Google’s Android Wear on Thursday got its first major update, bringing GPS support and offline music capabilities to the wearables platform. “Android Wear is great for tracking things like route, distance and speed,” wrote Kenny Stoltz, Android Wear product manager. “Before today, you had to keep your phone close at hand. Starting today, Wear supports watches with GPS sensors.”

Lollipop Could Make Android Stickier

Google on Wednesday unwrapped Android 5.0 Lollipop, officially replacing the “Android L” code name by which the latest version of its mobile platform previously had been known.
“Lollipop is our largest, most ambitious release on Android, with over 5,000 new APIs for developers,” wrote Sundar Pichai, Google’s senior vice president for Android, Chrome & Apps, in a blog post.

The Importance of Openness to the Internet of Things

Consumers today are in an awkward position. Personal privacy is being wiped out by the Internet. At the same time, new technologies that interconnect our devices, homes and offices are offering stupendous advantages. Welcome to the new Internet of Things’ open world. “Openness” means something different depending on whether you’re basking in the convenience or contributing to a vendor’s cash flow.

OS Flaw Leaves Android Wide Open for App Hack Attacks

A flaw in Android’s GUI framework let university researchers hack into applications with up to 92 percent success. They tested apps from Gmail, H&R Block, Newegg, WebMD, Chase Bank, Hotels.com and Amazon. “Changes in the shared memory side channel allow an attacker to infer if there is an activity transition going on in the foreground,” said researcher Zhiyun Qian, an assistant professor at UCR.

Samsung Z Delay Prompts Tizzy Over Tizen

Samsung has delayed the launch of its Samsung Z smartphone running the Tizen OS, which was scheduled for Q3 release in Russia. The move, just short of two months after the Samsung Z’s launch at the Tizen Developers Conference, sparked a death watch for the device. However, Samsung said it needed to further enhance the Tizen ecosystem. Samsung has had several setbacks with the Tizen smartphone.

Android Sets iPhone Cloning Factory in Motion

Chinese company Wico has cloned the yet-to-be-released iPhone 6, if a pair of videos can be believed. “The similarities are eerily close,” said IDC Research Manager Ramon Llamas, to the extent that the casual observer “may just simply accept this as an iPhone.” There are slight differences on the sides, such as the volume and power buttons and the headphone jacks, as well as the chassis overall.

New IoT Group to Get Devices Talking Among Themselves

Half a dozen companies this week launched the Open Interconnect Consortium to define the connectivity requirements and improve the interoperability of the 200 billion devices that will make up the Internet of Things by 2020. The consortium aims to define a common communications framework based on industry standard technologies, regardless of form factor, operating system or service provider.

LG G Watch Rides In on 1st Android Wear Wave

LG has launched its Android Wear-powered G Watch around the world. It can be ordered from Google Play and purchased at retailers in the United States, Canada, France, Ireland, Germany, Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom, Australia, India, Japan and South Korea. In 15 other countries — including Brazil, Mexico, Russia, Singapore and New Zealand — the device will be available only from retailers.

Nokia X2 Mixes and Matches Android Apps, Windows Phone Services

Microsoft on Tuesday announced the launch of the Nokia X2, the first device to come out in Nokia’s Android-based X line since Microsoft acquired the company earlier this year. The Nokia X series targets emerging markets with a low-cost family of smartphones offering access to Android apps and Microsoft services. However, the new Nokia X2 offers an enhanced experience.

Mozilla Trumpets Firefox Smartphone Progress

Mozilla showcased the latest developments in its plan to offer inexpensive smartphones running the open source Firefox OS at the Mobile Asia Expo this week in Shanghai. Although Mozilla has announced plans to sell Firefox smartphones for less than $25 and has teamed with Chinese fabless semiconductor firm Spreadtrum to create reference designs, it did not mention pricing in its expo announcements.

Samsung to Try Out Tizen Smartphone in Russia

Samsung this week officially launched its long-anticipated Tizen phone, at the Tizen Developer Conference being held in San Francisco through Wednesday. One description of Tizen is that it’s an open source Linux-based operating system from Samsung — but that might be open to debate. The Samsung Z Tizen phone initially will debut in Russia in the third quarter.

Sony Gives Android Wear the Cold Shoulder

It’s been just barely a week since Google’s Android Wear project made its initial debut, but already one major maker of wearable devices has snubbed the new platform.
Sony this week said it will stick with its own Android-based SmartWatch platform for wearables instead. Consumer electronics manufacturers including Asus, HTC, LG, Motorola and Samsung have signed on as Android Wear partners.