Android users are probably familiar with the Swype keyboard which basically allows users to type on their phones just by swiping (or “swyping”) between characters versus pecking at individual letters one at a time. In fact one iOS developer has event attempted to port Swype onto iOS devices although it didn’t exactly take off. However it seems that Apple did think about keyboard alternatives back in the day, and thanks to a recent patent that was published, it looks like Apple’s idea was pretty similar to Swype. According to the patent filing, it was filed for back in 2007 which is the same year that the first iPhone debuted, suggesting that Apple was already looking for keyboard alternatives for touchscreen devices back in the day.
However given that it’s 6 years later and the only revision to the Apple keyboard on iOS would be its design, it’s safe to say that Apple decided not to pursue this idea, or other keyboard ideas the Cupertino company and its team might have cooked up then. In any case Apple’s keyboard is more than functional and is pretty accurate as far as onscreen keyboards are concerned.
If an Android device (phone or tablet) has ever logged on to a particular Wi-Fi network, then Google probably knows the Wi-Fi password. Considering how many Android devices there are, it is likely that Google can access most Wi-Fi passwords worldwide.
Recently IDC reported that 187 million Android phones were shipped in the second quarter of this year. That multiplies out to 748 million phones in 2013, a figure that does not include Android tablets.
Many (probably most) of these Android phones and tablets are phoning home to Google, backing up Wi-Fi passwords along with other assorted settings. And, although they have never said so directly, it is obvious that Google can read the passwords.
Sounds like a James Bond movie.
Android devices have defaulted to coughing up Wi-Fi passwords since version 2.2. And, since the feature is presented as a good thing, most people wouldn’t change it. I suspect that many Android users have never even seen the configuration option controlling this. After all, there are dozens and dozens of system settings to configure.
And, anyone who does run across the setting can not hope to understand the privacy implication. I certainly did not.
In Android 2.3.4, go to Settings, then Privacy. On an HTC device, the option that gives Google your Wi-Fi password is “Back up my settings”. On a Samsung device, the option is called “Back up my data”. The only description is “Back up current settings and application data”. No mention is made of Wi-Fi passwords.
In Android 4.2, go to Settings, then “Backup and reset”. The option is called “Back up my data”. The description says “Back up application data, Wi-Fi passwords, and other settings to Google servers”.
Needless to say “settings” and “application data” are vague terms. A longer explanation of this backup feature in Android 2.3.4 can be found in the Users Guide on page 374:
For details and more information click the source link below.
Thinkspace, an organization created by sixteen-year-old James Anderson, seeks to “inspire the next generation of app developers” through dedicated coding zones in high schools across the globe. Anderson formally launched Thinkspace this month with campuses in Plymouth and Northern Ireland.
Anderson first came up with the idea for Thinkspace when he became disappointed with the UK educational system’s approach to computer information and related topics. Rather than attempt to change the curriculum, Anderson sought to work around it by creating “Thinkspaces” within schools.
A Thinkspace is essentially a room filled with computers and mobile devices with which students are encouraged to build whatever software they can imagine. The UK Thinkspace, located at Plymouth’s Devonport High School for Boys, contains Android devices, iPod touches, iPads, Blackberrys, and Windows Phone devices, all connected to an assortment of Mac and PC computers.
The flagship UK campus cost around £10,000, but Anderson says that almost any budget will suffice. The goal is not necessarily to build state-of-the-art development labs, but rather to provide students with a place to go in order to learn to code, collaborate on projects, and just build software.
Any school interested in establishing a Thinkspace is welcome to join the program. The only requirement is that a teacher from the school join Thinkspace Social—a development-oriented social network created by Anderson—and begin inviting students from the school. Anderson told 9to5Mac that the organization is already looking to expand internationally into Australia, Israel, Singapore, and the United States.
The Thinkspace project has gained the backing of many well-known public figures, such as Google SVP of Engineering Vic Gundotra, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, Twitter CEO Dick Costolo, Virgin founder Richard Branson, and top executives from other companies like Microsoft.
Anderson told Wired that he envisions Thinkspaces as a student-driven program where experienced coders can help educate the next generation of software designers and developers. He hopes to see the program spread not only across Europe, but around the world.
For more photos click the soure link below.
A new piece of Android malware has been discovered that can intercept your incoming text messages and forward them on to criminals. Once installed, the trojan can be used to steal sensitive messages for blackmailing purposes or more directly, codes which are used to confirm online banking transactions.
The malware in question, detected as “Android.Pincer.2.origin” by Russian security firm Doctor Web, is the second iteration of the Android.Pincer family according to the company. Both threats spread as security certificates, meaning they must be deliberately installed onto an Android device by a careless user.
Upon launching Android.Pincer.2.origin, the user will see a fake notification about the certificate’s successful installation but after that, the trojan will not perform any noticeable activities for a while. Here are a few screenshots:
The malware is loaded at startup via CheckCommandServices, a service that runs silently in the background (right-most screenshot above). It will then connect to a remote server and send over the following information about the mobile device to those behind the attack: handset model, device’s serial number, IMEI, carrier, cell phone number, default system language, operating system, and availability of the root account.
The threat then awaits instructions that contain commands in the following format: command:[command]. Doctor Web has found criminals can send the following instructions to the trojan:
• start_sms_forwarding [telephone number]— begin intercepting communications from a specified number
• stop_sms_forwarding — stop intercepting messages
• send_sms [phone number and text] — send a short message using the specified parameters
• simple_execute_ussd — send a USSD message
• stop_program—stop working
• show_message—display a message on the screen of the mobile device
• set_urls – change the address of the control server
• ping – send an SMS containing the text ‘pong’ to a previously specified number
• set_sms_number—change the number to which messages containing the text string ‘pong’ are sent.
The first one allows attackers to indicate the number from which the trojan should intercept messages, meaning this can be used for targeted attacks to steal specific messages. The third one from the bottom shows the criminals have planned for changing servers in case they believe the current one will be shut down.
Although Doctor Web doesn’t say so, the good news here is that Pincer2 is not likely to be very prevalent. It has not been found on Google Play, where most Android users should be getting their apps, and appears to be meant for precise attacks, as opposed to being aimed at as many users as possible.
In short, this malware threat isn’t one that you will likely be hit with, but it is an interesting example of how Android malware is evolving. Our advice is the same as always: only install apps that you know are safe.
Malware that avoided detection and made its way onto the official Google Play store has been downloaded at least 2 million times, a security firm warned today.
Google was notified of the outbreak by Lookout and all affected rogue apps have been removed from the Android store. As many as 9 million could have downloaded the dirty code.
Lookout found 32 applications contained code from the “BadNews” software development kit, which masqueraded as a standard advertising network SDK.
But it was particularly aggressive, sending phone number and device IDs to their command and control servers, and prompting users to install applications, including AlphaSMS, a “well-known premium rate SMS fraud malware”, which can cost users plenty of money.
“It is not clear whether some or all of these apps were launched with the explicit intent of hosting BadNews or whether legitimate developers were duped into installing a malicious advertising network,” the company wrote in a blog post.
“However, based on our analysis of the backend code behind a number of these purported ad networks there is little doubt that BadNews is a fraudulent monetisation SDK.”
“Further, it is clear that a substantial amount of code in BadNews has previously appeared in other families associated with Eastern European toll fraud.”
Lookout identified three C&C servers, in Russia, Ukraine and Germany.
It’s another big outbreak of Android malware, which has been spreading rapidly in recent years. NQ Mobile reported earlier this week that mobile malware jumped 163 percent in 2012, with almost all threats aimed at Android.
Governments appear to be using mobile Trojans too. China was this month implicated in attacks on Tibetan activists, which sought to get malicious kit on Android devices.
Source: Tech Week Europe
Offering a game for free — but charging for further content in-game like extra levels, power-ups and accessories — is an extremely popular business model for many companies. Currently, 80 of the 100 top-grossing apps on the Google Play Store in the are free-to-play but make their money with in-game purchases.
“The OFT investigation is exploring whether these games are misleading”
Official statement, Office of Fair Trading
The OFT’s statement reads:
“The OFT investigation is exploring whether these games are misleading, commercially aggressive or otherwise unfair. In particular, the OFT is looking into whether these games include ‘direct exhortations’ to children — a strong encouragement to make a purchase, or to do something that will necessitate making a purchase, or to persuade their parents or other adults to make a purchase for them. This is unlawful under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.”
There are numerous reports of children running up large bills without their parents’ knowldeg. Wired.co.uk reported in March on an eight-year-old boy who racked up a bill of £980 for virtual donuts on The Simpsons: Tapped Out for iPad. The boy’s parents only realised when their monthly phone bill came through, with purchases on it ranging from £1.50 to as high as £75 — for donuts, remember, that aren’t even real.
Apple agreed in this case to refund the bill, a decision that the company usually makes on a case-by-case basis. In the US, Apple was forced into a settlement in a class-action suit brought over what were labelled “bait apps” — if someone could prove that a minor made an in-game purchase without permission from the responsible adult, the money could be reclaimed in either cash or iTunes credit.
That’s just a US case, but the OFT’s investigation could see a similar case resulting in the UK depending on what evidence is uncovered. The OFT has asked parents to write in
“with information about potentially misleading or commercially aggressive practices they are aware of in relation to these games”.
The contact page is on the OFT’s site.
Games companies are also being contacted for information on how they advertise in-game purchases. The OFT’s Cavendish Elithorn said:
“We are concerned that children and their parents could be subject to unfair pressure to purchase when they are playing games they thought were free, but which can actually run up substantial costs.”
“The OFT is not seeking to ban in-game purchases, but the games industry must ensure it is complying with the relevant regulations so that children are protected. We are speaking to the industry and will take enforcement action if necessary.”
The report of the OFT’s findings is due to be published in October 2013.