BQ’s Ubuntu Bows on World Stage

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.

Super-Scary Android Flaw Found

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.

Report: Android Wear Smartwatches to Get Together

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.

Gunpoder Malware Masquerades as Lesser Evil

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.

New Android Malware Sprouting Like Weeds

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.

Can Android Give BlackBerry New Life?

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 Aims to Build US-Free Mobile OS

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.

The Rampant, Risky Babbling of Android Apps

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 Taps Truecaller in Effort to Build a Better Mobile OS

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 Goes Crazy for Chromebooks

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.

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.