Stop your Android from dreaming of electric sheep

Subject: General Tech | September 14, 2015 - 02:45 PM |
Tagged: smartphones, Android

In the model used by Purdue University they found that 45.9% of your battery's charge is drained by apps which access resources while your screen is turned off and that 28.9% of that is because of bad programming in apps which refuse to let the CPU go back to sleep.  Being able to prevent the launch of the apps, or to ensure that they do properly release resources when finished could therefore extend your battery life.  They have modified Android framework to do so in this proof of concept available at GitHub, it is not an app yet so you will need to be familiar with the Android OS to test it out now.  Check out the their paper at The Register, modify your phone or simply wait for the app to be released.


"Too many Android apps are battery hogs when the screen is off, so researchers at Purdue University have released to a tool to shut them up."

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Source: The Register

Bad Google! That is not how you patch

Subject: General Tech | August 14, 2015 - 12:56 PM |
Tagged: google, stagefright, Android, security

So it would seem that the patch which Google rolled out and carriers have been pushing OTA is not going to be the last that we hear of Stagefright as the patch is not all that effective.  Stagefright is a vulnerability present on all 950 million devices running Android 2.2 to 5.1 and allows certain MMS to be able to execute code on your mobile device.  The recently released patch does not completely ameliorate this vulnerability, an MMS can still cause the library to crash, most likely just preventing you from using the application but possibly allowing other attacks to occur. 

Also of note is the monthly Android patches that Google is providing to various phone manufacturers who are supposed to be pushing them out.  As many Android users will have noticed, up to and including the staff at The Register, you may not have seen the flawed patch yet, let alone the update for the patch.


"Google's security update to fix the Stagefright vulnerability in millions of Android smartphones is buggy – and a new patch is needed.

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Source: The Register

Cortana for Android Invite-Only Beta Launches

Subject: Mobile | July 19, 2015 - 06:43 PM |
Tagged: Android, microsoft, windows, windows 10, cortana

When it graduated from high school, Microsoft was voted “least likely to have an open relationship with itself”. Well who's laughing now, member of the Yearbook Committee? You thought you were so clever, sitting in the back of the late bus for students in extra-curricular activities, giggling as you doodled in your Five Star binder. Even though they always hogged the Windows seat, maybe they would have opened it up for a little fresh air in the Summer time had you taken the time to ask.


Image Credit: Ars Technica

While Cortana is first and foremost a Windows 10 feature, it will appear on iOS and Android as well. Peter Bright of Ars Technica got in on the pre-release, invite-only beta and walked through the features. He notes that, while many have complained about crashes, his experienced wasn't marred with stability issues. On the other hand, because Cortana is not as deeply integrated into the operating system, despite the laundry list of permissions it requests, he expects that most users looking for a digital assistant will look to Google Now on their Android devices, even if they use Cortana on Windows 10.


Image Credit: Ars Technica

There really wasn't a whole lot of note in the article though, at least in my opinion. There are a few interesting screenshots, but it basically looks like someone grafted the Cortana fly-out menu from Windows 10 onto a fullscreen mobile device. Even though I already saw the similarities in the Windows 10 Technical Previews, it is funny to see it so explicit.

No release date has been set for Cortana on Android or iOS.

Source: Ars Technica

Rumor: 2015 Moto G to Feature Snapdragon 410 with LTE

Subject: Mobile | June 22, 2015 - 11:43 PM |
Tagged: snapdragon 410, smartphone, rumor, Moto G, LTE, lollipop, Android

9to5google is reporting specs of the upcoming Moto G refresh, and it looks like the phone will carry over the internals of the current Moto E with a Snapdragon 410 SoC, and add an improved 13MP camera.


The current Moto G has been a favorite for many as a low-cost unlocked option (and one that runs mostly stock Android), and the adoption of the faster SoC with integrated (Cat 4) LTE baseband is a necessary move to update a device that in its current iteration is limited to 3G data speeds. It is interesting that the SoC would only match that of the $149 2015 Moto E (reviewed here), but it makes sense from a financial standpoint if the rumored Moto G is to be sold at or below its current $179 price point.

There is certainly stiff competition in the midrange smartphone market, bolstered considerably by the recently released ASUS Zenfone 2 (reviewed here as well) which starts at $199 unlocked; and with devices like the new Zenfone offering full 1080p screens the rumored choice of the Moto G’s existing 5-inch 720p screen returning in 2015 might be another indication that this new phone will feature a very aggressive price.


The alleged 2015 Moto G photo (image credit: 9to5google)

The phone is also rumored to ship with Android 5.1.1, which would carry on the recent tradition of Motorola phones running the latest versions of Android. All of this is unconfirmed information based on leaks or course, but regardless of its final form more options are always welcome in the $200-and-under unlocked phone space - and this year is shaping up to be a good one for consumers.

Source: 9to5google

Juicy Friday rumour; a mysterious Blackberry device running Android?

Subject: General Tech | June 12, 2015 - 12:39 PM |
Tagged: Android, blackberry, google, rumour

Could this Reuters' story that Slashdot linked to possibly be correct?  A phone with a physical keyboard using Blackberry hardware with an Android OS?  The fact that you have been able to set up the Google Play store on BB10 devices for a while now is well known and lends credence to the rumour but it would represent a huge change for the long suffering smartphone company.  Blackberry opened up BBM to all phones, which did not generate much interest and the company has also announced that it will make some of its proprietary security feature available to iOS, Android and Windows phones which makes their devices a little less unique.  A slider style phone with a keyboard that is natively Android is interesting but just how likely is this to restore Blackberry as a player in this highly competitive market?


"BlackBerry is considering equipping an upcoming smartphone with Google Inc.'s Android software for the first time, an acknowledgement that its revamped line of devices has failed to win mass appeal, according to four sources familiar with the matter."

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Source: Slashdot

Google I/O 2015: Android OS M Revealed

Subject: Mobile, Shows and Expos | May 29, 2015 - 03:42 PM |
Tagged: Android, google, google io, google io 2015

I'll be honest with you: I did not see a whole lot that interested me out of the Google I/O keynote. The company released a developer preview of their upcoming Android OS “M”, which refers to the thirteenth alphabetical release (although only eleven were formally lettered because they started with “C”upcake). Version nomenclature aside, this release is supposed to tune the experience. While the platform could benefit from a tune-up, it is also synonymous with not introducing major features.


But some things are being added, including “Google Now on Tap”. The idea is that Google will understand what is happening on screen and allow the user to access more information about it. In a demo on Engadget, the user was looking at scores for the Golden State Warriors. She asked “When are they playing next”, actually using the pronoun “they”, and the phone brought up their next game (it was against the Cavaliers).

Fingerprint reading and Android Pay are also being added to this release.

Other than that, it is mostly performance and usability. One example is “Doze State”, which allows the OS to update less frequently when the device is inactive. It is supposed to play nice with alarms and notifications though, which is good. Normally, I would wait to see if it actually works before commenting on it, but this seems like something that would only be a problem if no-one thought of it. Someone clearly did, because they apparently mentioned it at the event.

Android M, whatever it will actually be called, is expected to ship to consumers in the Fall.

Source: Tech Report
Manufacturer: NVIDIA

SHIELD Specifications

Announced just this past June at last year’s Google I/O event, Android TV is a platform developed by Google, running Android 5.0 and higher, that aims to create an interactive experience for the TV. This platform can be built into a TV directly as well as into set-top style boxes, like the NVIDIA SHIELD we are looking at today. The idea is to bring the breadth of apps and content to the TV through the Android operating system in a way that is both convenient and intuitive.

NVIDIA announced SHIELD back in March at GDC as the first product to use the company’s latest Tegra processor, the X1. This SoC combines an 8-core big.LITTLE ARM processor design with a 256-core implementation of the NVIDIA Maxwell GPU architecture, providing GPU performance previously unseen in an Android device. I have already spent some time with the NVIDIA SHIELD at various events and the promise was clearly there to make it a leading option for Android TV adoption, but obviously there were questions to be answered.


Today’s article will focus on my early impressions with the NVIDIA SHIELD, having used it both in the office and at home for a handful of days. As you’ll see during the discussion there are still some things to be ironed out, some functionality that needs to be added before SHIELD and Android TV can really be called a must-buy product. But I do think it will get there.

And though this review will focus on the NVIDIA SHIELD, it’s impossible not to marry the success of SHIELD with the success of Google’s Android TV. The dominant use case for SHIELD is as a media playback device, with the gaming functionality as a really cool side project for enthusiasts and gamers looking for another outlet. For SHIELD to succeed, Google needs to prove that Android TV can improve over other integrated smart TV platforms as well as other set-top box platforms like Boxee, Roku and even the upcoming Apple TV refresh.

But first, let’s get an overview of the NVIDIA SHIELD device, pricing and specifications, before diving into my experiences with the platform as a whole.

Continue reading our review of the new NVIDIA SHIELD with Android TV!!

Think twice before selling that old Android phone

Subject: General Tech | May 25, 2015 - 12:49 PM |
Tagged: Android, Samsung, htc, Nexus

It seems that the factory reset for Android 4.3 and below is flawed, in that researchers were able to recover data from wiped phones.  Two University of Cambridge scientists tested 21 phones from Samsung, HTC, Nexus and 2 other unspecifed vendors all running versions of Android ranging from 2.3 to 4.3 and were able to recover data from a supposedly wiped phone.  They did not test newer versions and so are unsure if the problem has been rectified nor did Google respond to The Register when they inquired.  The researchers had a success rate of 80% for recovering tokens for Google and Facebook and could even recover encryption keys, although the keys were still password protected they could be brute forced.  Make sure to encrypt your phone with a long password before you wipe it and sell it, give it away or toss it out!


"Half a billion Android phones could have data recovered and Google accounts compromised thanks to flaws in the default wiping feature, University of Cambridge scientists Laurent Simon and Ross Anderson have claimed."

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Source: The Register

Lost Your Phone? Try Googling For It!

Subject: General Tech | April 24, 2015 - 12:37 AM |
Tagged: remote access, gps., google, Android

Looking for your phone? Well, Google will now let you literally search for it. A recent update to its Android Device Manager service, the search giant now allows users to type "find my phone" into Google search. So long as you have Android Device Manager turned on (and some sort of network connection) and you have the latest version of Google's Search application installed on your Android phone, you will be presented with the phone's location on Google Maps along with options to ring the device at the loudest volume, remotely lock the device with a new password, or remotely wipe it altogether. Note that you will need to be signed into your Google account on the PC to access these options, and you may need to re-enter your password. Hopefully you have a trusted PC (or backup codes) available that you will not have to authenticate with your, well, (lost) phone if you have two factor authentication turned on.

Android Device Manager Find My Phone Search.png

If your smartphone is nearby you can have Google ring the device at its loudest volume for up to five minutes (once you find it you can stop the ringing by pressing the power button).

Android Device Manager Find My Phone Search Ring Device.jpg

The remote lock is handy if it appears the phone has simply been left behind somewhere relatively secure while the erase option is handy if the phone is on the move and appears to be stolen. If you don't have a backup of your data, you might try calling it first to see if you can get it back, otherwise it is best to erase it, report it stolen to the authorities and chalk it up to a lesson learned (backup, backup, and backup again! Bittorrent Sync makes this easy, btw).

On the phone side of things, you will get a notification card along with a timestamp of when the device was located by ADM. This locate, ring, lock, and erase functionality has been around for a couple of years now, but it is now even easier to use and all you have to do to get to it is run an intuitive Google search of "find my phone". It works well and is definitely a welcome update. More information can be found here.

This has been a public service announcement from PC Perspective. Stay vigilant out there folks!

Source: PC Mag

Podcast #346 - Intel Compute Stick, ASUS X205TA, Samsung PCIe SSDs and more!

Subject: General Tech | April 23, 2015 - 03:02 PM |
Tagged: podcast, video, Intel, compute stick, baytrail, asus, x205ta, SM951, NVMe, XP941, windows 10, SSD 750, acer, XR341CKA, gamebench, ios, Android

PC Perspective Podcast #346 - 04/23/2015

Join us this week as we discuss the Intel Compute Stick, ASUS X205TA, Samsung PCIe SSDs and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: - Share with your friends!

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Hosts: Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, Allyn Malventano, and Sebastian Peak

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