Tag Archives: Android

Google introduces digital Braille keyboard for Android

Last week, Google unveiled a built-in virtual Braille keyboard for their blind and visually impaired users . The feature — named the TalkBack keyboard — has been enabled on devices running Android 5.0 or later on Thursday.

Image via Google.

The keyboard has six keys, each representing the dots used to create letters, numbers, and symbols in Braille script. Users can type the letter “A” for example by pressing the button labeled “1”, and the letter “B” by pressing buttons 1 and 2 at the same time. In Braille, ‘A’ is represented as a dot and ‘B’ as two dots side-by-side. In a blog post last week, Google stated that anyone who has already used Braille will be familiar with the new program.

Dot Comms

“As part of our mission to make the world’s information universally accessible,” the post said, “we hope this keyboard can broadly expand Braille literacy and exposure among blind and low-vision people.”

To activate the keyboard, users have to go to the Accessibility section in Android Settings. Google says grades 1 and 2 in Braille are supported, meaning it can convey fundamental letters and characters as well as phonetic symbols, punctuation, formatting marks, contractions, and abbreviations.

Feedback is provided to the users as they type; this can be a spoken letter, word, other types of audio cues, or vibrations. Gesture functionality has been implemented to delete letters, whole words, start a new line, and sending the text.

UI + shell.png
Image via Google.

For now, the program is available only in English, but Google hopes to expand on it soon. But, whichever language it operates in, the keyboard is definitely a step in the right direction. Our societies revolve heavily around sight, but this isn’t readily obvious to those who aren’t visually impaired. Such users, for example, can’t make heads or tails of the touchscreen keyboards on smartphones and have long had to rely on physical keyboards connected to their computers to allow them to type in Braille. According to the American Foundation for the Blind, such equipment costs between $3,500 and $15,000.

Google’s first attempt to assist visually impaired users came in 2018 with Voice Access which allows for control of the device using only voice commands. When initiated, numbers appear on-screen next to any actionable options such as clicking, saving, deleting and sending. Google then added a feature to their web browser that recognizes images and uses artificial intelligence to describe what appears in those images.

This was meant to help visually impaired people better understand and navigate the information their device was showing. Previously, visually impaired users would hear only that “an image” or “unlabeled graphic” is present. Live Caption, a program that generates real-time captioning for videos, podcasts, and audio messages introduced last fall is another feature they highlight meant to help such users enjoy their devices to the fullest.

Supposed health benefits of sexbots have no meat to them, new study says

Credit: HBO.

Credit: HBO.

One would think that after two seasons of Westworld, people would be more careful with how they handle robots. Instead, all signs point towards a future of violent delights (with possibly violent ends). I’m referring to the fact that more and more companies are selling ‘sexbots’ that are marketed with all sorts of health claims. Specifically, sexbots allegedly have a ‘harm reduction’ effect, supposedly curbing the incidence of sex crimes and sexual violence against women and children.

However, this may or may not be true, according to an editorial published online in the journal BMJ Sexual & Reproductive Health. The truth is that there is no study that’s been published in a peer-reviewed journal that has documented any of these alleged public health benefits. In the absence of any such evidence, the authors of the editorial, Chantal Cox-George and Susan Bewley, argue that doctors, as well as any potential buyers of sexbots, should act upon the ‘precautionary principle’ and reject its clinical use until data proves otherwise.

The sex technology industry is already worth US$30 billion and could skyrocket if sexbots catch on. But, for now, at least, only several companies are offering android-like sexbots, most of which mimic women, but some which mimic little boys or girls. One manufacturer called True Companion has designed Roxxxy, the world’s first sex robot which is “always turned on and ready to talk or play.” Roxxxy ships for $6,995 and can allegedly learn an owner’s preferences.

“So she likes what you like, dislikes what you dislike, etc. She also has moods during the day just like real people! She can be sleepy, conversational or she can “be in the mood!” the company’s website reads.

Some of the preprogrammed personalities include:

  • Frigid Farrah – She is reserved and shy
  • Wild Wendy – She is outgoing and adventurous
  • S&M Susan – She is ready to provide your pain/pleasure fantasies
  • Young Yoko – She is oh so young (barely 18) and waiting for you to teach her
  • Mature Martha – She is very experienced and would like to teach you!

They’re also working on a version destined for women — Rocky the male sex robot.

“Rocky is described as everyone’s dream date! – just imagine putting together a great body along with a sparkling personality where your man is focused on making you happy! This is Rocky!”

Sounds like a real gentleman.

Advocates of sexbots say that these human-like sex toys will comfort the sexually frustrated and keep potential pedophiles at bay, as well as satisfy a huge market of lonely men and women. They liken it to a 21st-century sexual revolution. David Levy, an artificial intelligence expert, is optimistic and thinks humans will not only have sex with robots but will fall in love with them, too. He believes prostitution, sex crimes, and loneliness will be no more as a result of a robot utopia.

“The world will be a much happier place because all those people who are now miserable will suddenly have someone. I think that will be a terrific service to mankind,” he says.

These sexbots can be programmed to each individual person’s requirements and will always be available. They won’t ever say ‘no’ to anything — and this is why they might cause problems. Some, like Kathleen Richardson, a senior research fellow in the ethics of robotics at De Montfort University and director of the Campaign Against Sex Robots, claim that sexbots are dangerous because they objectify people and escalate misogyny.

“One of the first impacts of something like sex robots would be to increase human isolation because once you try to tell people that they don’t need other human beings any more, one of the consequences of that is more isolation,” she told Sky News.

“Sex robots will create another means through which women will be presented as objects to be used for sexual gratification and mistreatment,” wrote researcher Lydia Kaye, who, just like Richardson, thinks sex robots will encourage men to think women are nothing more than objects designed exclusively for masculine sexual gratification — something that reinforces the idea that a woman’s body is a commodity.

“They will also desensitise humans to intimacy and empathy, which can only be developed through experiencing human interaction and mutual consenting relationships.”

Ethical discussions aside, do sexbots actually offer any ‘harm reduction’ as some manufacturers claim?

The authors of the new study reviewed the existing literature, interviewed experts, and carried out internet searchers looking for any evidence of sexbots providing health care benefits in four distinct areas: safer sex, therapeutic potential, treatment of pedophiles and sex offenders, changing social norms. They concluded that data supporting the proponents’ positive claims are few or none existent and that any ‘harm reduction’ statements surrounding sexbot use are gravely overstated.

While the authors acknowledge that might be possible that sex robots will reduce prostitution and encourage safe sex, such outcomes are simply fantasies at the moment.

“It is speculative whether the development of a sexbot marketplace will lead to lesser risk of violence and infections, or drive further exploitation of human sex workers,” they write.

It’s even unclear why manufacturers and proponents feel the need to flaunt potential health benefits of sexbots. There will be a lot of people buying them whether they’re scientifically validated or not.

“The overwhelming predominant market for sexbots will be unrelated to healthcare. Thus the ‘health’ arguments made for their benefits, as with so many advertised products, are rather specious,” they write.

“Currently the precautionary principle should reject the clinical use of sexbots until their postulated benefits, namely ‘harm limitation’ and ‘therapy’ have been tested empirically,” they conclude.

 

HummingWhale turns millions of Android devices into ad-playing zombies

One of the most prolific smartphone viruses, which infected an estimated 10 million devices last year alone, is back with a vengeance. Known as HummingWhale, the malware is a new take on HummingBad — and it was embedded in some 20 different Android apps on the Play Store. The virus feeds ads to your devices to generate revenue for its makers.

Image credits Andrekheren / Pixabay.

For a society that spends much its time looking at screens, we’re laughably bad at keeping the bits of code behind them safe from tampering. Which is staggering, since we trust said code with our conversations, location, credit card information, and in some cases, pictures of our junk. A fact which certain groups are perfectly aware of and perfectly ok with cashing in on.

There’s no whale like a malwhale

Last year, cyber security firm Check Point stumbled upon HummingBad, a piece of malware that had infected more than 10 million Android devices through non-Google markets and shady sites — slowly minting money off of each one. It worked by silently downloading into Android devices running anything from Ice Cream Sandwich all the way up to Marshmallow, then attempting to wrestle root privileges through loopholes in the OS. If it failed to do this, HummingBad would prompt the user with a fake upgrade notification — during which it embedded itself in the OS.

For the most part, HumminBad was used to generate ad revenue by logging fake ad clicks from devices and performing unsolicited downloads to generate an estimated US$300,000 each month for Yingmob. It was one of the most advanced pieces of malware ever created and frustratingly difficult to remove. Eventually, though, Google shored up its software and security apps popped up all over to do just that.

But a new member of the family has been released upon the world, and experts are calling it HummingWhale. It infects devices by hitch-hiking on seemingly safe apps, 20 of which could be downloaded from the Play Store. Its end goal is largely the same as it’s predecessors — generate ad revenue for its programmers.

What it does

Check Point has been silently monitoring the Humming family for almost a year now, and reports that the new malware was downloaded between 2 and 12 million times already. They don’t believe Yingmob is behind Whale as well, but the two programs are obviously similar. The software is hidden in 5-star bot-reviewed apps uploaded by false Chinese companies. Its code is stored in a 1.3MB file called ‘assets/group.png‘ that matches many of the traits seen in HummingBad.

Everybody hates it, but it constantly got 5 stars? Pass.
Image credits Oren Koriat / Check Point.

After download, the malware will display unsolicited ads that become increasingly harmful if opened. It doesn’t try to root devices any longer but creates a virtual machine on your device to perform ad fraud and automatically install apps, Check Point reports. It doesn’t require your approval to install these apps. It doesn’t need you to allow permission to use the device. And, if you close the ads or delete the apps, this functionality allows HummingWhale to continue running them in the virtual machine. It just stacks them up, as many as it likes.

“Once the user tries to close the ad, the app, which was already downloaded by the malware, is uploaded to the virtual machine and run as if it is a real device,” Check Point said. “This is a prime example of malware developers learning from each other, as tactics that were introduced by one of them are quickly adopted by others.”

“The fraudulent ratings left by such malware is another reminder that users cannot rely on Google Play for protection, and must apply further, more advanced means of security,” they urged.

Man the Harpoons

Because it can do stuff on your device without you having to approve or even know about, HummingWhale could become a security breach more glaring than the Death Star’s thermal exhaust.

Google has already removed the HummingWhale apps from the Play Store after Check Point alerted them. If you want to scan for the malware, Check Point has an app you can use. Lookout, one of Check Point’s competitors, also has an app set up as well — note that it treats the threat as part of the Shedun malware family.

Dan Gooding of ArsTechnica also recommends that the more tech-savvy among you can check if your device ‘connects to a control server located at app.blinkingcamera.com. Package names for infected apps typically contain a common naming structure that includes com.XXXXXXXXX.camera, for example com.bird.sky.whale.camera (app name: Whale Camera), com.color.rainbow.camera (Rainbow Camera), and com.fishing.when.orangecamera (Orange Camera)’. I’ve included a list of all known compromised apps and their naming structure below.

But if you suspect that you’ve got the Whale, it’s best to murder it violently with (digital) fire — back-up your data, write down your favorite apps, and perform a factory reset.

[panel style=”panel-danger” title=”Infected Apps:” footer=””] com.bird.sky.whalecamera – Whale Camera
com.op.blinkingcamera – Blinking Camera
com.fishing.when.orangecamera – Orange Camera
com.note.ocean.camera – Ocean camera
io.zhuozhuo.snail.android_snails -蜗牛手游加速器-专业的vpn,解决手游卡顿延迟问题
com.cm.hiporn – HiPorn
com.family.cleaner – Cleaner: Safe and Fast
com.wall.fast.cleaner – Fast Cleaner
com.blue.deep.cleaner – Deep Cleaner
com.color.rainbow.camera – Rainbow Camera
com.ogteam.love.flashlight – com.qti.atfwd.core
com.wall.good.clevercamera – Clever Camera
com.well.hot.cleaner – Hot Cleaner
com.op.smart.albums – SmartAlbums
com.tree.tiny.cleaner – Tiny Cleaner
com.speed.top – Topspeed Test2
com.fish.when.orangecamera – Orange Camera
com.flappy.game.cat – FlappyCat
com.just.parrot.album – com.qti.atfwd.core
com.ogteam.elephanta.album – Elephant Album
gorer – File Explorer
com.with.swan.camera – Swan Camera
com.touch.smile.camera – Smile Camera
com.air.cra.wars – com.qti.atfwd.core
com.room.wow.camera – Wow Camera-Beauty,Collage,Edit
com.start.super.speedtest – com.qti.atfwd.core
com.best.shell.camera – Shell Camera
com.ogteam.birds.album – com.qti.atfwd.core
com.tec.file.master – File Master
com.bird.sky.whale.camera – Whale Camera
cm.com.hipornv2 – HiPorn
com.wind.coco.camera – Coco Camera
global.fm.filesexplorer – file explorer
com.filter.sweet.camera – Sweet Camera
com.op.blinking.camera – Blinking Camera
com.mag.art.camera – Art camera
com.cool.ice.camera – Ice Camera
com.group.hotcamera – Hot Camera
com.more.light.vpn – Light VPN-Fast, Safe,Free
com.win.paper.gcamera – Beauty Camera
com.bunny.h5game.parkour – Easter Rush
com.fun.happy.camera- Happy Camera
com.like.coral.album – com.qti.atfwd.core
com.use.clever.camera – Clever Camera
com.wall.good.clever.camera – Clever Camera[/panel]

Nothing awkward in this scene from the movie "Lars and The Real Girl."

The next sexual revolution might be that of the human-robot intercourse

Nothing awkward in this scene from the movie "Lars and The Real Girl."

Nothing awkward in this scene from the movie “Lars and The Real Girl.”

This week in Manchester, UK, academics and researchers from all over the world have gathered for the 12th Human Choice and Computers Conference, an event which “works to shape socially responsible and ethical policies and professional practices in the information society.” One of this year’s themes focused on the realities and ethical dimensions of love and sex between humans and machines, and it turned out to be a lively discussion, to say the least.

Advances in artificial intelligence, but also robotic hardware means humanoid robots, known as androids, are no longer the stuff of science fiction. They might be clunky and awkward today, but in the foreseeable future, these machines might appear indistinguishable from humans. These androids will help with chores, keep us company and, some note, will inevitably become sex partners.

Among academics, two distinct trains of thoughts can be distinguished. On one side, there are those like David Levy, an artificial intelligence expert, who are optimistic and think humans will not only have sex with robots but fall in love with them too. Then there are those like Kathleen Richardson, senior research fellow in the ethics of robotics at De Montfort University and director of the Campaign Against Sex Robots, and others, who believe robot sex should be banned because the objectification is against human values.

Michelle Mars and Ian Yeoman are among those who think humans will soon happily have sex with robots. In a 2012 paper, the two present a scenario in which Amsterdam’s Red Light District of 2050 will be “about android prostitutes who are clean of sexual transmitted infections (STIs), not smuggled in from Eastern Europe and forced into slavery, the city council will have direct control over android sex workers controlling prices, hours of operations and sexual services.”

These sexbots would be better than humans and programmed to each individual person’s requirements. The androids will also be always available and will never say ‘no’ to anything. And that’s why Richardson thinks robots for sex are a big problem.

“Empathy is about taking into account what another person is thinking and feeling, and responding appropriately to it,” she said. “Empathy is not about projecting onto, or appropriating someone to use as you want. You can do that with an object. But I don’t want you to do that with a person.”

“Everyone thinks [sex robots are] very exciting to begin with, but when you’re alone and you have to carry a 40Ib robot upstairs, or their programme breaks down and you have to call ‘support’ and go through automated options to speak to an ‘advisor’ to find out why your robot is twitching its head repeatedly—the excitement will quickly fade,” Richardson told Motherboard. “You will realise there’s only other people and we have to find a way to build healthy and loving relationships with each other.”

"This is the future" ... inventor Doug Hines with his sex robot, "Roxxxy". Credit: SMH.au

“This is the future” … inventor Doug Hines with his sex robot, “Roxxxy”. Credit: SMH.au

Notice that Richardson assumes that a sex android can be considered a ‘person’. That’s because sexbots are expected to be used as companions as well, with a programmable personality. Nobody wants to have sex with an awkward robot. Speaking of which, meet Roxxxy — the world’s first sex robot which is “always turned on and ready to talk or play.”

Roxxxy ships for $6,995 and can allegedly learn an owner’s preferences, according to the manufacturer True Companion.

“So she likes what you like, dislikes what you dislike, etc. She also has moods during the day just like real people! She can be sleepy, conversational or she can “be in the mood!” the company’s website reads.

Some of the preprogrammed personalities include:

  • Frigid Farrah – She is reserved and shy
  • Wild Wendy – She is outgoing and adventurous
  • S&M Susan – She is ready to provide your pain/pleasure fantasies
  • Young Yoko – She is oh so young (barely 18) and waiting for you to teach her
  • Mature Martha – She is very experienced and would like to teach you!

They’re also working on a version destined for women — Rocky the male sex robot.

“Rocky is described as everyone’s dream date! – just imagine putting together a great body along with a sparkling personality where your man is focused on making you happy! This is Rocky!”

Sounds like a real gentleman.

Although pre-orders became available last year, it’s unclear whether anyone came in the possession of a Roxxxy unit. Judging from the pics and videos posted online, though, Roxxxy is far from the sex androids of the future. Rather it’s more of an augmented, smarter sex doll. But it’s a start, one that Levy, who is the author of the bestseller Love and Sex With Robots: The Evolution of Human-Robot Relationshipsthinks will unleash a sexual revolution which will better mankind. He believes prostitution, sex crimes, and loneliness will be no more as a result of a robot-utopia.

“The world will be a much happier place because all those people who are now miserable will suddenly have someone. I think that will be a terrific service to mankind,” he says.

Richardson, on the contrary, thinks sex robots will not cure loneliness but only amplify it.

“One of the first impacts of something like sex robots would be to increase human isolation because once you try to tell people that they don’t need other human beings any more, one of the consequences of that is more isolation,” she told Sky News.

Researcher Lydia Kaye, just like Richardson, thinks sex robots will encourage men to think women are nothing more than objects designed exclusively for masculine sexual gratification — something that reinforces the idea that a woman’s body is a commodity.

“Sex robots will create another means through which women will be presented as objects to be used for sexual gratification and mistreatment,” she wrote.

“They will also desensitise humans to intimacy and empathy, which can only be developed through experiencing human interaction and mutual consenting relationships.”

University of Oslo Professor Charles Ess said at the conference in Manchester sex robots “may well be able to offer good sex on demand,” but cautions that they shouldn’t be made identical to humans otherwise “human virtues become endangered.”

 

On the Road: 3 Apps for the Busy Motorist

Ahhh, driving! It’s just getting from point A to B, right? But for most drivers today, it’s not just about the act of driving anymore. Most of the time, it’s an “escape-from-traffic-adventure” or “I’m-this-close-to-losing-it-incident”. It would have been okay if gas prices didn’t keep increasing and if certain motorists actually take the time to learn some driving etiquette. Luckily, we’re living in the smartphone era, where everyone can take advantage of the thousands of apps developed to make our lives easier. No need to ask us if there’s an app that will help you overcome the challenges on the road. Here are our top three picks to help you power through even the most hectic driving days.

GasBuddy

Hey, remember when you can get a gallon of gasoline for only 30 cents? No? Well that’s because you didn’t live in the 1920s (we assume) and because you haven’t paid a visit to one of the oil-rich countries in the Middle East. Anyway, you get the idea. When you’re running low on fuel and funds, the last thing you want to do is to keep driving around looking for a gas station until your tank goes empty. GasBuddy, a free app developed for Android, Blackberry and iOS users in the United States and Canada, helps you find the nearest gas stations that offer the lowest prices. Tap “Find Gas Near Me” to go to the list of gas stations closest to you. Users can report gas prices based on their city/postal/zip code or GPS location. The price entries are time stamped so you can check if there were any recent price hikes or drops. The comments section also allows users to review the service and indicate if a particular station has closed down.

INRIX Traffic

There’s no foolproof way to predict traffic conditions, because there are several variables involved. Today you left home late, but you still made it to the office in the nick of time; the day before that, you left earlier than usual but still found yourself stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic for an hour. INRIX Traffic is a free app that helps you eliminate the guesswork involved when it comes to choosing the best route to take. At first glance, INRIX just provides a live traffic map that you can find in GoogleMaps or iOS Maps; but in reality it gives you more useful information like accidents, comparative traffic, construction sites, and predicted traffic. The data is gathered from an estimated 100 million mobile phones and fleet vehicles equipped with GPS. The information is processed in real-time so you can compare current conditions to normal conditions as well as get traffic forecasts. Upgrading to the premium INRIX Traffic for $25 allows you to save commuting routes, provides you with personalized directions and travel time recommendations, and gives you access to live video from traffic cameras along certain roads. Just make sure to turn off the GPS when not in use because this app is a battery guzzler.

Drivesafe.ly Pro

You don’t really need us to tell you that texting while driving is a no-no. And yet we still hear about cases of negligent driving even when there are laws in place. Now if you have a teen who has his or her own car or if you’re someone whose job requires you to be always on the road and reachable at the same time, you need to download DriveSafe.ly, “the solution to texting while driving.” Compatible with Android, Blackberry, iPhone and Windows Mobile, DriveSafe.ly is an app “that reads text (SMS) messages and emails aloud in real time and automatically responds without drivers touching the mobile phone.” In a way, this app is somewhat like a business telephonebut without the callback functionality. Still, for just $13.95 (annually, for a single user), it’s a worthy investment towards safely staying connected while reducing distracted driving.

 

What Happened in Mobile Tech Last 2012

Another year has passed and another step towards mobile technology evolution has been taken. It looks like the world is going digital right before our very eyes and this trend is expected to continue until 2013.

From smartphones and tablets to cloud technology, 2012 has been a year of advancements and improvements.

To give you more idea, here are some significant things that happened in mobile tech last 2012:

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Android Catches iOS

The Android vs. iOS debate has been going on even before 2012 but Apple’s iPhone and the iPad has always been the standard that other OEMs have looked up to. But when the Samsung Galaxy S3 came out, the game changed. Suddenly, there is a phone that is not only good enough to compete with the iPhone, but also has the brand name to attract consumers. After that, more people gave Android a chance which gave other devices like HTC One X more attention. And with the underwhelming improvements of the iPhone 5, iPad 4 and the iPad Mini, and the success of Google’s own Nexus brand complete with the latest Jellybean updates, the debate over which OS is better has become more heated than ever.

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Windows is back in the Game… Sort of

Windows tried to make a big splash with their new operating systems for mobile devices. First there is the Windows phone 8 OS for smartphones. Though it was also featured on other devices like HTC Windows Phone 8+, it was really the Nokia Lumia 920 that represented the new operating system. Nokia and Microsoft banked on it to bring them back to contention but the sales have been modest. Same goes for Microsoft’s first foray to the tablet market. Unfortunately, the Surface RT was not the iPad killer Microsoft has touted it to be. A lot of it can be attributed to the confusion over what Windows RT is in the first place, especially when people were expecting a full out Windows 8 device. That said, though Microsoft is still a step behind both Android and iOS, I think they made enough splash to get some attention to their brand. What they do in 2013 should be interesting.

 

Hardware and Software under the Same Roof

Looks like a lot of the major players are following the Apple route, which is developing software and hardware under one company. As mentioned above, Microsoft has already produced their own tablet in Surface, much to the chagrin of some partners like Acer. Google is following the same route as well. Though their mobile devices were produced in partnership with other manufacturers, it already carries their Nexus brand. And with the acquisition of Motorola, Google might be poised to produce their own devices in-house in 2013 or 2014.

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The Rise of Cloud Technology

Cloud technology has been around for a long time but with the rise of mobile technology through tablets and smartphones, there are now more and more cloud providers popping up to provide different services. From online storage apps like Box and Dropbox, to online PBX services like RingCentral, it seems like hosting and creating your own solution is really turning to something impractical and expensive. And with the frankenstorm Sandy hitting the East Coast and disrupting a lot of business operations, it looks like third party cloud service providers will be a common business technology route for a lot of companies from here on out because it can be accessed anywhere as long as there is Internet connection.

 

 

Noteworthy: Samsung Galaxy Note II is a Hit

When Samsung unveiled the sequel to its successful “phablet,” the Galaxy Note, all eyes were on how the Korean manufacturer would improve upon the original. Sure, the category had been defined and dominated, but what was next for this segment? The Note was able to impress; what would its successor do to live up to the expectations? Now that the phone’s out, let’s check it out.

Design

If you loved how the Galaxy S III looks in real life—photos don’t really do it justice, and it doesn’t feel as “cheap” as others make it out to be—then you should also love the look of the Note II. After all, it’s just a super-sized version of the S III as far as appearance is concerned. From the minimal bezels to the lone Home button at the bottom of the handset, it looks like Samsung just blew up the design for the S III. Of course, there’s the slot along the back for the stylus.

The plastic material has a glossy finish and is bounded by chrome. Some say that this feels cheap. To be fair, it does, especially when you compare to the tight aluminum or polycarbonate around some of the handsets fielded by Samsung’s competitors. Still, once you get to hold the Note II, it’s actually pretty nice on the touch and the grip is surprisingly alright despite the size. Plus, the proportions of the Note II are better for single-hand use compared to its predecessor.

Performance

The Note II isn’t only bigger than the S III—it’s also more powerful. The international version is powered by a 1.6GHz quad-core CPU that’s bundled with 2GB of RAM, Mali-400MP graphics, and the heavily praised Exynos quad chipset. The inside is where the handset really shines, and you have to experience its power firsthand so that any misgivings you have about the cheap feel will just be blown away.

It’s a spec sheet that’s worthy of the top tier of top tiers, and the benchmarks speak for themselves. The Note II will be able to handle anything you throw at it, from widgets to HD videos to HD games. Plus, it comes with a large 3100mAh battery to handle these tasks longer than many other smartphones.

Of course, the performance isn’t anything to brag about if there’s no good software to take advantage of it. As per standard Samsung fare, the Note II ships with TouchWiz as the default launcher. While a direct lift from the S III’s, it’s pretty fluid and looks even nice on the Note II. Everything is just responsive. Then again, it’s a tired interface and certainly could use more tweaks—which is why many turn to rooting or using custom launchers so they don’t have to use TouchWiz.

The Note II also packs an 8MP camera at the rear, and it’s practically the same one that’s been heavily praised on the Galaxy S III. There’s standard editing and settings for the user, along with decent 1080p video recording. The Exynos processor only helps make the process seem so effortless for the Note II.

S Pen

For the Note II, Samsung has redesigned and optimized the S Pen, and that is really the feature around which many of the highlights of the Note shine. Using S Memo, for example, is infinitely better on the Note II (compared to the S III) thanks to the larger screen and the stylus. Samsung has made the Note II smarter when it comes to using the S Pen, and the whole experience of interacting with apps just becomes more fluid and intuitive thanks to all the optimizations. Because of this, drawing and handwriting recognition are much improved. Of course, there are relatively few apps that can take advantage of this fact, but there are many people who can surely find many good uses for the stylus on the Note II.

No Competition

Let’s face it, while the smartphone segment’s top tier is crowded with contenders like the S III, iPhone 5, and the HTC One X (or now the One X+), there’s really no offering from any manufacturer that can put up a fight against the Galaxy Note II. Heck, there wasn’t even one that could rival the original Note. While it’s not an overwhelming sequel, it sure is a huge upgrade over the original Note.

You’d have to go straight into the 7-inch tablet category to find the next decent contender that you can pit against the Note II, but as far as phablets go, there is nothing that comes close to it. It’s a perfect handset for a variety of applications—a handy business telephone like RingCentral, a stylish personal phone, a portable media powerhouse, or a shrunken-down tablet slash super-sized smartphone that gives you the best of both worlds.

RIM keeps a hold on the market…at least in Europe

When asked about smartphones, what is the first thing that comes to mind? Often it’ll be the iPhone, or one of Samsung’s devices, maybe even the new Google Nexus 4. Most likely, it’ll be something that runs on either iOS or Android. But what people these days are forgetting is that not so very long ago Blackberrys were the smartphones to have, being quite the preference for business phone and the phone of choice among the “chic” set.

But as the iPhone and other Android phones continued to garner more prestige and as demand for them increased, it seemed like Blackberry manufacturer RIM couldn’t keep up. Nevertheless, the almost-forgotten Blackberry still clings to a slice of the market pie; and it’s most evident in Europe, where the Blackberry smartphone is still in demand.

RIM’s market track

The global market share for smartphones can be split into three major chunks—iOS, the even larger Android, and then everyone else. Sadly for a phone that was in so much demand before, the Blackberry is now found in the “everyone else” slice of that pie. The RIM global market share plunged to an abysmal 4.3%, which, compared to the major market shareholders, is a mere pittance. Indeed, a lot of analysts figure that this might be the death knell for the once-famous phone brand.

The Cavalry from Europe

However, all isn’t completely lost for RIM. It appears that, for a great number of teens in Europe that doesn’t have enough money for an iPhone or a Samsung Galaxy, the Blackberry is a saving grace. As European teenagers become more and more immersed in conversing via mobile phones, it appears that they turn to Blackberrys as the reliable, less expensive, but still fashionable alternative to Apple or Android products.

According to reports, there are a great deal of teenage Blackberry users in France, Spain, and the United Kingdom, which provides evidence that RIM is far from dying, even though its markets back in the US and other global areas are dwindling.

Why Blackberry for Europe?

Young people prefer to use the Blackberry for mobile media —social networking, IM, email, browsing the Internet—because the Blackberry can satisfactorily comply with these needs. This is more than simply texting; they are relying on the smartphone for their social interactions. A good 64% of student-age demographic and teens possess a Blackberry in Spain, while the United Kingdom’s teen demographic present a whopping 46% of Blackberry users.

The Blackberry is popular among teens (mainly in mid-to-late teens), because mainly of its price and performance. Teens and students do not have much disposable income. This is mainly why Nokia phones are still in demand (they are far cheaper still, and own a larger demographic than the Blackberry). Yet the Blackberry is still associated with a kind of prestige that makes it desirable over a Nokia, without having to shell out for quite as much.

RIM still has a market and a bit of a hold. This may just give the company enough time to regroup with its new Blackberry plans, and maybe it still has a fighting chance in the world market.

 

Privacy Protection on your Android Device

Meta description: Smartphones mostly contain private information and details. Therefore, we must always check if we’re protecting them against security and privacy threats well enough.

Android smartphones and tablets are our best friends when it comes to doing business, playing games, or simply hanging out. These gadgets are usually stuffed with too many applications, photos, messages, and account details that may be too private for us to share, if ever the devices get lost or stolen.

Unavoidable situations can make your Android device land in the hands of some stranger who might use your private information to hack your social media accounts or take advantage of credit card information that you might have stored on your Android phone.

With this, you have to check the security measures for your Android-powered tablet or phone. Here are some tips to prevent or lessen the chance of being victimized by people who want to steal private information from your Android device:

Set a Password, PIN, or Pattern Lock

Thankfully, Android hosts a number of ways to protect your home screen from being opened by others. You have the option to set a password with the character length you want, type a four-digit PIN (personal identification number) if you want an easy-to-recall sequence, or swipe your fingers to form patterns that only you can decipher. But this is just a “first aid” remedy in case your phone gets stolen. Some people can hack the passwords or deactivate them; but at least you’ve made it a bit harder for them to unlock it.

 

Set up a SIM card lock

 

This feature may be available on other devices, but Android OS has a more detailed approach to protecting your phone number and SIM (subscriber identity module) content. Your phone can prompt you for a SIM PIN every time you turn your phone on in order to send a text message, view your inbox or call someone. If you are keen on SMS privacy, this function will be of great help.

 

Install Privacy Apps from Google Play

 

With over 600,000 applications, Google Play is home to a great number of apps dedicated to ensuring your phone’s security. You can install apps that can store all your passwords safely without having to save them on the Notes or Calendar app on your device. Some apps can hide photos that you want to be private, or restrict people from reading your SMS. If you’re using an Android device as your business phone, there are other third-party apps dedicated to saving business transactions, Excel files, and other essential files and folders neatly – they can only be viewed by providing the correct password.

Clear your Browsing History, Cookies and Cache

 

Sometimes, mobile browsing becomes so easy that we tend to neglect our browser settings. You might have set your browser to remember passwords for frequently visited sites, but this can spell danger for your Android device. Make sure to clear your browsing history every so often so that your personal details won’t get compromised.

These are but a few suggestions on how you can protect your Android device(s) from being hacked and to prevent you from being a victim of identity theft. You can customize your security settings according to your preference, but don’t neglect the task of protecting your gadgets’ stored files and information. Android already offers great security features, and users must take advantage of the said features to ensure security and privacy for devices.

Technology

Getting Things Done with Technology

Technology

With technology, many things are now simpler and faster to do. It has become one of the few incredible inventions found anywhere in the globe. Communication has also been easier than before. Connecting to people around the globe can only take seconds now.

To know more the latest technological advancements, here are three high-tech gadgets and their uses that you can check out:

Mobile phones.

Mobile phones are found anywhere today, being one of the many necessities in the business arena and even in a typical workplace. Mobile phones are capable of letting you connect and communicate with anyone at any time. They are not only designed for calling but also sending text messages, emails, running applications and games. What’s even good about mobile phones is that it can also run office applications like PowerPoint presentations, word docs, worksheet, converters, dictionaries, calculators and the likes. This means that a mobile phone owner does not need to purchase all these as separate gadget anymore.

However, it is unfortunate that many buy mobile phones but are not able to utilize them in the right and efficient ways. Some just buy them because such gadgets are prominent. It has become a want, rather than a need. Moreover, mobile phones have hundreds, if not thousands of uses and advantages. One can get things done with a mobile phone in hand, be it finishing projects in school, making appointments, surfing the Internet, making presentation for a meeting and many more.

Android tablets.

Android tablets are now trendy. They are touch screen tablets that can be installed with laptop applications. They are cheaper and easier to carry than laptops, but mostly have the same features. Some android tablets can even be installed with a sim card, hence it can be used to call and text as well. Just like laptop computers, android tablets can also be installed with word documents, power point presentations, worksheets, as well as pdf file readers, music players, games, e-book readers.

Laptops and desktop computers.

One of technology’s best gadgets: the laptop/desktop. Laptops and desktops are designed for entertainment, work, school and many more. They are packed with various applications that help users create projects, documents and presentations. It also has features that allow users to record, take pictures, manage files and convert files. With today’s Operating systems, memory capacity, features and applications, projects can now be done 20 times faster than its normal speed rate. Surfing the Internet also started with laptops and desktops. Since the inception of the Internet and computers, searching and gathering of information has become easier and more convenient.

With the capacity of modern-day gadgets, making documents and operating devices are simpler and basically entails lesser budget. This is because companies do not need to regularly pay workers who will be assigned to manually operate such devices. They only need to connect the devices to a computer and program its system.

Google Nexus 4

Why Lack of LTE Can’t Keep the Nexus 4 Down

Initial impressions and full-fledged reviews of the fresh LG-made Google Nexus 4 smartphone have been pretty harsh, considering the only “fatal flaw” the reviewers see with the latest Nexus phone is that it doesn’t come with LTE support. Is the omission of 4G connectivity really all that bad? We say no.

Google Nexus 4

LTE isn’t as Essential as Some People Think

From the time people have been dissing the iPhone for getting LTE connectivity so late to the condemnation of the Nexus 4 for not having this same feature, it’s like 4G is the end-all and be-all of mobile technology. News flash, guys—it’s not. While having the “blazing-fast” speeds offered by this new network is certainly a great thing to have, right now it’s just not as ubiquitous as people make it out to be. Sure, telcos are rolling out LTE across more locations at a rapid rate, but it’s still not available everywhere.

In addition, the LTE data plans we have right now, with all their bandwidth caps, don’t really let consumers make the most out of the technology. It’s such a waste, but it would probably take a couple or more years before LTE becomes mainstream the way HSPA is at the moment. Speaking of HSPA, would you rather have an uber-fast but capped LTE plan or a fast-enough but unlimited 3G plan? With the way people consume content these days—video and music streaming, downloads, video calls, et cetera—it’s all too easy to go through that LTE cap.

LTE is Expensive

As stated previously, unlimited Internet is still king; until LTE becomes cheap enough or loses the bandwidth caps, people will likely still prefer their HSDPA connections—plus, they don’t have to worry about where there are LTE zones. Besides, with practically every corner restaurant or café offering Wi-Fi access, people won’t get to maximize LTE nor justify the cost of getting the service.

Then you have to consider that the Nexus 4 will be much cheaper compared to other flagships. Unlocked off the Google Play Store, the phone is set to cost $299 for the 8GB verison, while the 16GB unit will set you back $349. Is that a good deal? Of course it is. Part of what makes the latest and greatest Nexus so affordable is that it doesn’t have to have an LTE radio.

The Nexus 4 is an All-Around Powerhouse

LTE or not, it’s plain to see that the Nexus 4 is a powerhouse. LG put together a superb mix of specs and gave it a fairly decent body. People will always have issue with build quality and materials used, but we suggest you actually spend some time with the handset to get a good feel for the frame. Besides, you’ll be using a protective case anyway. The Nexus 4 has a 4.7-inch IPS screen with Gorilla Glass 2 and a 1280×768 resolution, good for 320 ppi. It packs an 8MP camera at the back for some high-quality stills and HD video recording, and a 1.3MP front cam for video calls for your preferred personal or Business VoIP service like RingCentral. There’s 2GB of RAM onboard, along with the aforementioned internal memory setups. Standard connectivity options are included, from BlueTooth to Wi-Fi to HSPA+. Of course, there’s no LTE.

There’s a reason the Nexus 4 is on sold-out status right now—the device is simply that good. It’s pretty capable in practically every aspect, affordable, and comes with the stock Android 4.2 Jelly Bean experience. If you’ve been very reliant on LTE since you got your plan, then by all means, stay away from the Nexus 4. The rest of us will be happy to get our hands on it.

 

 

android spy

How to use Android Spy: 5 funny ideas

android spyAndroid has dominated smart phones. Everywhere you go, the mall, coffee shop, restaurants, offices, you will most likely see the trademark Android mascot on people’s phones. You know the green robot with cute antennas and a wide smile? Who would miss that?

Android phones are preferred by many because of the amazingly cool and trendy software and applications. A recent addition to these is the android spy.

This software lets you monitor someone using their Android phone. Every activity where the phone is used is recorded, calls, emails, SMS, video, everything! The best thing about it is that it is completely undetectable. Your target will not know he or she is being spied on.

It does not even require a techie or a genius to install an Android spy. Just follow these simple steps.

Step One. Search for a reliable software. Examples are SpyBubble, StealthGenie and Mobistealth.

Step Two. Download and install it to your target’s phone. Instructions are available along with the software. Don’t worry; even a six grader can understand them.

Step Three. It’s done. You now have a spy.

In what ways can you use your Android Spy?

Spy phones are indeed very convenient. It is not limited for business or forensics where they are obviously very useful. Here are some ideas how you can also use your Android Spy.

1. Lipstick on the Collar?

Do you notice something unusual about your spouse? Lipstick on his shirt collars? Different perfumes? More and more friends’ or workmates’ night outs? Secret phone calls? Are you suspecting an extramarital affair?

Install a spy on his or her Android phone and sate your curious bone. With the spy phone, you can monitor your spouse, 24/7. Read their messages, listen to their phone calls, browse through their electronic mails and you might discover the indecent activities he or she is hiding from you. Track his/her whereabouts and you might catch him/her with his/her other partner on their love rug.

There is no way a cheating unfaithful spouse can get away with the powerful features of a spy phone.

2. Office Love Affairs?

Are you a business owner, a manager, a department head? Do you think your employees are doing their job properly or do you think they spend more time with each other’s arms? Office love affairs are generally not that good for a business. Yes, it is but proper to create an environment with a good working relationship but a love affair is out of the picture.

Love with an officemate can only end up in either one of these two options. First, their love may flourish; they get married and live happily ever after. Second, they might have a nasty break-up and end up hating each other ever since. With the second option, they won’t be able to see and stand each other much less, to work together.

As a business owner or a manager, it is your job to make sure that your employees work together for the good of the company. It is also your duty to prevent something that could tarnish a good working relationship. Use a spy phone and supervise your employees anywhere they go and whoever they are with.

3. Delinquent Teens?

Do your teenagers often give you problems? Are you a parent who always worries that your teen might be in trouble?

Teenagers are very hard to monitor. In this stage of growth and development, a teenager is often closer and more open to friends than their parents. A parent may be left guessing what their child and their friends are really up to.

Quit guessing and use a spy phone. You can give an Android phone to them as a gift without them knowing that a spy soft ware has been installed. With it, you will never have to worry about your teen’s welfare. If they are already into something like drugs and alcohol, you will be able to prevent them wallowing in those vices.

4.     Bullied?

Bullies are everywhere. Now, they have also invaded the web with cyberbullying. It is the use of the internet and technology to harass and embarrass a person. Are you a victim of such scheme? Guess what? You actually use technology against them. Use a spy phone and put a stop to cyberbullying.

5.     Be a Detective!

Do you like watching crime-solving movies and TV series like CSI? Do you fancy being a detective?

A spy software can give a glimpse of how a detective works. With this really cool application, you can do your own little detective works and who knows, this might be a start of a future career.

About the Author:

 

Samsung Galaxy Nexus

The Samsung Galaxy Nexus is out now – just $300!

Samsung Galaxy Nexus

Samsung‘s really tapping into the ultra smartphone market lately, which has seen a slew of releases lately. In its top-tier sector, Samsung released the Galaxy S II just a few months ago, in close competition with the 4Gs from Apple. And just recently, Samsung has delivered the dream phone us geeks all of over world have been drooling after for so long – the Samsung Galaxy Nexus.

The mobile is official out today on Verizon, which is just perfect for the Nexus, catering to its needs with mega powerful 4G LTE network. The Galaxy Nexus is the first with Android 4.0, called “Ice Cream Sandwich,” 32 GB of un-replaceable storage, all sized at 4.65-inches, which is just insanity.

The phone is out starting today, Thursday 15 Dec., in all Verizon shops at $300.

New Samsung Galaxy S II mocks iPhone users

The new TV ad for the Samsung Galaxy S II depicts their rivalry with iPhone so good, that they actually mock iPhone users, caricaturing customers waiting in line. The spot shows lots of people waiting in line to get ‘some smartphone’, and then BAM! Out of nowhere, cool guys with Samsung appear. But that’s not all they mocked.

“If it looks the same, how will people know I upgraded?” a line-waiter asked.


This isn’t the first time Samsung and Apple have argued over iPhone 4S and Galaxy S II. The two companies argued in the U.K. over who had the right to advertise the world’s thinnest smartphone, if you can imagine that; and Apple won, as an UK court declared that the Galaxy S has “prominent bulges” at the top of the device that made it thicker than the iPhone 4 at its thickest point.

Samsung’s rivalry with Apple will heat up even more, as the Android 4.0 flagship Galaxy Nexus arrives in the U.S. Initial tests shows that in some relevant instances, it performs much better than its rival, but others claim that Apple’s handset bests it with respect to graphics.

Apple and Samsung are currently entangled in over 20 lawsuits across more than 10 countries.

Google buys 1,000s IBM patents for law suit battle

This August bought 1,023 patents from IBM in August, according to records filed at the US Patent and Trademark Office’s website. This is in addition to the 17,000 patents the Mountain View company has gained once with its recent sealed transaction with Motorola, in the course of which Google has bought off the whole cell phone manufacturer.

The play here is both technological and strategic in nature. First of all, among these patents there are bound to be important innovative concepts which Google deems fit to launch with its next killer product. Secondly, and part of a more pressing current issue, they’ll use them to battle the current tech giants who seem to have rallied themselves against Google and have repeatedly filled patent infringement law suits. More exactly, these actions have been described as   “hostile, organized campaign against Android by Microsoft, Oracle, Apple and other companies”  by David Drummond, senior VP and chief legal officer, on the Google blog in early August.

Neither IBM or Google have chosen to comment on this recent acquisition, with due reason probably. Silence in the industrial tech war is a commodity big corporations have always wished to seal.

“We’re looking at other ways to reduce the anti-competitive threats against Android by strengthening our own patent portfolio,” he said at the time, and it seems as if the Chocolate Factory really meant it.

Just recently, Google passed a few of its patents to HTC, a major Android-supporting manufacturer, for its incoming patent suit onslaught with Apple.

 

Google plans world domination: now they’re selling light bulbs

This is already starting to sound like a cartoon world domination scheme; in an obvious plan to take over the world, Google plans to fill your home with electrical producs, including but not limited to light bulbs, dishwashers and thermostats which can be controlled remotely via an Android device. The plan is to create these electrical devices which can communicate wirelessly with your Android device, under a project called Android@home.

“We want to think of every device in your home as a connection to Android apps,” says product management director Hugo Barra.

Using only a smartphone, or another Android power device, you will be able to turn on the heater, switch the light off and run other appliances throughout the house, all with a single push of a button while downloading music from the internet. What’s admirable is that Google open sourced the new mesh network wireless protocol which allows this kind of control, in the hope that other home automation companies will go for it.

The first product available from this project will be a LED bulb, developed by Lighting Sciences Group, which contains an integrated radio, and which will not be significantly more expensive than an usual LED bulb. Yeah, but what do you do when it starts attacking you out of the sudden ?

RIM announces two more Blackberry Bold smartphones

Despite numerous problems, Research in Motion (RIM) isn’t doing as bad as you might think; they just announced two new BlackBerry Bold smartphones on Monday that run on a new BlackBerry 7 operating system and include near field communication (NFC) support.

They will be the most powerful (1.2 GHz processors), but also the slickest (at 10.5 mm, about .4 of an inch thickness) yet from RIM, who made the announcement at the biggest annual conference in Orlando on Monday.

An official price tag has not been yet released, but they will be both out this summer, so we’re probably going to find out really soon exactly how much these beauties cost. Having to fight competition from Apple and the ever growing Android, the new BlackBerry 7 OS is designed for an easier and faster user experience with improved browsing, voice searches and the ability to manage a user’s personal content separate from the user’s corporate content, which should be extremely useful for the ever present busy but in touch client.

RIM has long announce the separation of the business and the personal, and they have even bragged about it, for good reason it you ask me. Smartphones are not only for the cool guys who must have the best gadgets, and they’re also not only for the busy guys who need the apps and connectivity – they’re for both, and not only. But with these new Bold smartphones, things will go even further: they are perfect for companies, because they allow IT managers to easily strip off corporate content from the smartphone if the employee decides to leave the company, and they can also restrict the user’s ability to transfer this data.

Blackberry 7 OS also gives a unique way of handling Powerpoint, Excel and Word files; they also announce they have fixed the browsing system, which has been one of their biggest problems ever, with many users reporting unfriendly and even unpleasant experience, with slow speeds and awkward zooming. RIM said they fixed the issues, as well as adding just-in-time JavaScript compiler to improve the load time for Web pages, and support for HTML5 (even HTML5 video).

Bold smartphones will feature 2.8-in. touchscreens as well as the already classic QWERTY keyboard. Armed with the 1.2 GHz processors, they will weigh a meager 130 grams (4.5 ounces), and will have 8 GB of internal memory, allowing a micro SD slot that can go up to 32 GB. The 9900 is a tri-band phone for HSPA+ and GSM/EDGE, while the 9930 is a Dual Bank CDMA/EV-DO Rev. A, Dual Bank HSPA+ and Quad Bank GSM/EDGE device.

All in all, it seems to be all good for RIM, and if these improvements would have been made a few months ago, they would have absolutely rocked; however, at the moment, the competition is much, much harder to take on for them, especially as Google seems to be all over the place, and more and more users opting for Android. Also, they don’t bring anything new to the table, they just fix some of the already existing issues, which isn’t a plus per se, but it’s just not a minus anymore. That being said, I for one am eager to see the new Blackberry Bold phones in action

The 5 megapixel camera supports 720HD videorecording and

Map displays a visualization of iPhone data collection. Credit: O’Reilly radar.

iPhone 4 and iPad records your every move!

Map displays a visualization of iPhone data collection. Credit: O’Reilly radar.

Map displays a visualization of iPhone data collection. Credit: O’Reilly radar.

In a recent event which is sure to produce a lot of controversial waves, a team of security researchers have come across  a frightning discovery which puts Apple next to Big Brother. It seems any iPhone or iPad that has been updated with iOS 4 records everywhere you have been to a secret file – the file is also copied to the owner’s computer whenever the two are synchronized.

This is something which I’ve found to be scandalous and outrageous, a violation of countless privacy laws. Any such Apple user will most likely have a “consolidated.db” file which logs in your daily position, and contain latitude and longitude coordinates along with a timestamp. The file can contain tens of thousands of data points since iOS 4’s release in June 2010.

Pete Warden and Alasdair Allan, founder of Data Science Toolkit, discovered the file and presented their findings today to the Where 2.0 conference in San Francisco.

When the security researchers browsed Google’s Android OS based phones far and wide, they couldn’t find a similar tracking code.

Why Apple is collecting this data I am unsure, but it’s pretty clear it’s all  intentional because the data is being restored across backups and phone migrations. Whatever their reasons might be, there are large stakes at hand and one can only wonder – was it really worth it, Apple? Law suits will arise soon, and although there is currently no evidence that anyone outside the user itself can view the positioning data, it’s still suffice to say that it can prove to be a huge breach of security and intimacy.

Apple’s Product Security team was contacted but no one has responded. In the below video you can find out how Pete Warden and Alasdair Allan discovered and examined the consolidated.db file.

Unstable performance by Android seen as benefit for iPAD

Android is doing an absolutely amazing job in the market, but it’s not all rosy for them. Tablet makers who make their own operating system are trying to take advantage of every wrong step Android makes, and it’s mostly Apple that is actually real competition for them. Recent issues with Honeycomb, Google’s tablet-centric Android 3.0 will benefit HP and Research in Motion as well as Apple though.

“Due to Android 3.0 currently still having several issues that are unable to be resolved immediately and which are causing unstable performance in terms of operation,” the report said, “HP, which is ready to launch its TouchPad tablet PC with its own OS, webOS, in the second quarter, and RIM, which will soon launch its PlayBook with BlackBerry OS in the middle of April, as well as Apple, are expected to gain from the mischief of Android 3.0 the sources pointed out.”

Rumour has it that the success behind Apple’s launch of iPAD 2 is at least partially related to these Android blunders, but despite all this, manufacters such as HTC and Acer are still betting big on Honeycomb.

Geminoid Android

[VIDEO] android ‘tea party’ with their human counterparts

Humanoid robots, affectionately called androids, have fascinated SciFi writers for generations now, leading to the creation of some of the most memorable characters in cinema, like Start Trek’s Data or Blade Runner, but as technology keeps progressing the line between reality and fiction seems to get ever thinner. It’s enough to check out the video from above featuring three Geminoids, androids of extreme realistic proportions and behavior, sitted around a table next to their human counterparts they’ve been emulating, as part of a recent meeting at ATR in Nara, Japan.

Why would someone want to create an exact replica of themselves? Besides the fact that there are three, apparently the Geminoid is going to be used for researching “emotional affordances” in human-robot interaction, the novel notion of “blended presence,” as well as cultural differences (from different continents) in the perception of robots. In respect to how it basically works, the Geminoid is remote controlled by an operator with a computer, by means of a  motion-capture system that tracks facial expressions and head movements. More explicit, turn your head and the Geminoid does the same, move your mouth and the android follows suit and so on.

Although the Geminoids can’t talk and can’t act on their own, it’s not very hard imagine a model in the not so distant future 100% autonomous, as well as being equipped with a cutting edge AI. How long before clean bots, friends bots and even sex bots arrive on the market? Yes, more SciFi candy for the brain.

Geminoid Android

Geminoid Android

Geminoid Android

Geminoid Android

Geminoid Android

Geminoid Android