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  1. Opera 55 Stable for Android is out: here is what is new Opera Software released a new stable version of the web browser on December 5, 2019. The new Opera 55 web browser for Android devices includes a new Night Mode and improved keyboard dimming functionality. The new version of the mobile web browser should be offered to Android users soon via Play Store updates. It may also be downloaded from Google Play (and other sources) manually. The major new feature of Opera 55 for Android is the browser's redesigned Night Mode. It is disabled by default but may be activated with a tap on the Opera icon and the toggling of Night Mode in the menu. You may customize Night Mode functionality in the browser's settings. Just tap on Night Mode there to open the configuration page. There you find the following options in Opera 55: Change the color temperature to alter blue light emission. Change the dimming. Toggle the use of the dark theme. Enable dark web pages. The feature enables a dark theme for sites that don't support dark themes by default. Enable the new dim keyboard feature; this requires an additional permission as the browser uses an overlay to dim the keyboard on the device. Schedule Night Mode so that it is enabled during a specific period, e.g. from sunset to sunrise or custom period. With Night Mode enabled, Opera for Android will display webpages that are opened in the mobile browser accordingly. It makes sense to use Night Mode together with Dark Mode on the deice and the extra dark web page and dim keyboard modes. All taken together paint the entire screen in darker colors that may make the whole experience more enjoyable in the morning and at night, and may also improve sleep. Opera Software calls it Super Dark Mode when all Night Mode features are enabled. The browser takes care of the UI, webpages, and keyboard that may be displayed when it is active. Source: Opera 55 Stable for Android is out: here is what is new (gHacks - Martin Brinkmann)
  2. Vivaldi releases second Beta of its Android browser Vivaldi Technologies, the company behind the Vivaldi web browser, released the second Beta of the upcoming Vivaldi mobile browser for Android on December 5, 2019. The company released the first, long-awaited, version of its Android browser back in September and has been working on improvements since then. The new version is already available on Google Play. Users who have installed the previous beta may notice that it is updated automatically eventually; users who don't want to wait can force the update in the Google Play application or the browser's Play Store webpage. Vivaldi Beta 2 for Android is a big update that introduces new features and changes to the mobile browser. As is the case with most Vivaldi updates, a lot of development time went into improving the browser's usability. Users of the Android version of Vivaldi find a whole assortment of new features in the Settings: Swipe to close tab -- Can be enabled in the Settings to quickly close open tabs in the Tab Switcher by swiping them to the left or right of the screen. Show scrollbars on internal pages -- The option displays scrollbars on Vivaldi's internal pages which provides a position indicator. Always show desktop site -- When enabled, tries to load the desktop version of visited sites automatically instead of mobile pages. But there is more. It is now possible to delete all bookmarks and notes marked for deletion with a single tap on the "empty trash" icon. The browser's Start page received several improvements as well. Vivaldi added drag & drop support to the Speed Dials to allow them to be rearranged by the user. A long-tap displays a context menu with options such as edit or delete, and a tap on the plus icon adds a new Speed Dial to the current folder. The Vivaldi Search widget may be placed on the home screen to run searches directly from it (without opening Vivaldi first). Additionally, there is support for running the beta 2 of the browser on Chromebooks, improved stability, and thinner icons in the UI. Closing Words It is too early to give a final verdict but if Vivaldi Technologies manages to add as many features and options to the Android version as it has added to the desktop version, it could easily become as successful. Not all Internet users want customizations and options but those who do, may have something to look forward to. Source: Vivaldi releases second Beta of its Android browser (gHacks - Martin Brinkmann)
  3. Quick Tip Today am gonna show you how you can download your favorite Android Apps directly from Google Play Store. From the Play Store, search for your favorite app, copy the link with the app id visit apps.evozi.com/apk-downloader/ Paste the link and click generate download link. Wait for some seconds as your download link is been generated. After some few seconds, your link should be ready for download. eNJOy!!! source: thetechblog
  4. Vulnerability in fully patched Android phones under active attack by bank thieves "StrandHogg" spoofing flaw exploited by 36 apps, including bank trojans. Enlarge portal gda / flickr A vulnerability in millions of fully patched Android phones is being actively exploited by malware that's designed to drain the bank accounts of infected users, researchers said on Monday. The vulnerability allows malicious apps to masquerade as legitimate apps that targets have already installed and come to trust, researchers from security firm Promon reported in a post. Running under the guise of trusted apps already installed, the malicious apps can then request permissions to carry out sensitive tasks, such as recording audio or video, taking photos, reading text messages or phishing login credentials. Targets who click yes to the request are then compromised. Researchers with Lookout, a mobile security provider and a Promon partner, reported last week that they found 36 apps exploiting the spoofing vulnerability. The malicious apps included variants of the BankBot banking trojan. BankBot has been active since 2017, and apps from the malware family have been caught repeatedly infiltrating the Google Play Market. The vulnerability is most serious in versions 6 through 10, which (according to Statista) account for about 80% of Android phones worldwide. Attacks against those versions allow malicious apps to ask for permissions while posing as legitimate apps. There's no limit to the permissions these malicious apps can seek. Access to text messages, photos, the microphone, camera, and GPS are some of the permissions that are possible. A user's only defense is to click "no" to the requests. An affinity for multitasking The vulnerability is found in a function known as TaskAffinity, a multitasking feature that allows apps to assume the identity of other apps or tasks running in the multitasking environment. Malicious apps can exploit this functionality by setting the TaskAffinity for one or more of its activities to match a package name of a trusted third-party app. By either combining the spoofed activity with an additional allowTaskReparenting activity or launching the malicious activity with an Intent.FLAG_ACTIVITY_NEW_TASK, the malicious apps will be placed inside and on top of the targeted task. "Thus the malicious activity hijacks the target's task," Promon researchers wrote. "The next time the target app is launched from Launcher, the hijacked task will be brought to the front and the malicious activity will be visible. The malicious app then only needs to appear like the target app to successfully launch sophisticated attacks against the user. It is possible to hijack such a task before the target app has even been installed." Promon said Google has removed malicious apps from its Play Market, but, so far, the vulnerability appears to be unfixed in all versions of Android. Promon is calling the vulnerability "StrandHogg," an old Norse term for the Viking tactic of raiding coastal areas to plunder and hold people for ransom. Neither Promon nor Lookout identified the names of the malicious apps. That omission makes it hard for people to know if they are or were infected. Google representatives didn't respond to questions about when the flaw will be patched, how many Google Play apps were caught exploiting it, or how many end users were affected. The representatives wrote only: "We appreciate the researchers['] work, and have suspended the potentially harmful apps they identified. Google Play Protect detects and blocks malicious apps, including ones using this technique. Additionally, we're continuing to investigate in order to improve Google Play Protect's ability to protect users against similar issues." StrandHogg represents the biggest threat to less-experienced users or those who have cognitive or other types of impairments that make it hard to pay close attention to subtle behaviors of apps. Still, there are several things alert users can do to detect malicious apps that attempt to exploit the vulnerability. Suspicious signs include: An app or service that you're already logged into is asking for a login. Permission popups that don't contain an app name. Permissions asked from an app that shouldn't require or need the permissions it asks for. For example, a calculator app asking for GPS permission. Typos and mistakes in the user interface. Buttons and links in the user interface that do nothing when clicked on. Back button does not work as expected. Tip-off from a Czech bank Promon researchers said they identified StrandHogg after learning from an unnamed Eastern European security company for financial institutions that several banks in the Czech Republic reported money disappearing from customer accounts. The partner gave Promon a sample of suspected malware. Promon eventually found that the malware was exploiting the vulnerability. Promon partner Lookout later identified the 36 apps exploiting the vulnerability, including BankBot variants. Monday's post didn't say how many financial institutions were targeted in total. The malware sample Promon analyzed was installed through several droppers apps and downloaders distributed on Google Play. While Google has removed them, it's not uncommon for new malicious apps to make their way into the Google-operated service. Update: In an email sent after this post went live, a Lookout representative said none of the 36 apps it found was available in Google Play. Readers are once again reminded to be highly suspicious of Android apps available both in and outside of Google Play. People should also pay close attention to permissions requested by any app. Source: Vulnerability in fully patched Android phones under active attack by bank thieves (Ars Technica)
  5. An early look at Firefox Preview 3.0 for Android Mozilla released the first beta version of Firefox Preview 3.0 on the project's GitHub home. The beta, which is only available on GitHub and not on Google Play, upgrades the mobile browser for Android to version 3.0. Firefox users who want to test the new browser using a version from Google Play may download the Nightly version instead. Note that Nightly versions are development builds that may be unstable. Mozilla started to work on Firefox Preview, initially known as Fenix, some time ago. We covered the first public release of Firefox Preview in 2019 and the launch on Google Play. The organization plans to replace the current version of Firefox for Android with Firefox Preview (and rename Firefox Preview to just Firefox once that is done). Firefox Preview 2.0 was released some time ago. The version, available on Google Play and GitHub, introduced support for a number of features including send tab to other device, more browsing data clearing controls, or options to add website shortcuts and a search widget to the Home screen of the device. Firefox Preview 3.0 introduces major new features that extend the functionality significantly. The new version includes options to add search engines manually to the Firefox browser, control autoplay behavior, and adds better enhanced tracking protection and syncing controls. Enhanced Tracking Protection improvements: switch between standard and strict protection settings and better manage the feature. Open links in private tabs: option to open any link in a private tab in Firefox Preview. (tap on the link you want to open, select Firefox Preview, pick always). Clear browsing data on exist: a new Setting to clear browsing data on exit is available in Firefox Preview 3.0. Previously, it was only possible to clear the data manually (only works when you select the quit option from the menu). Choose what to sync: currently, you may select Bookmarks or History only. Option to control media autoplay: was not available in the beta version that I used. List and manage downloads. Ability to add search engines manually. Put the navigation bar at the top or bottom of the browser interface. Enforce zoom on all websites. The browser lacks add-on support at the time but Mozilla promised that Firefox Preview would support extensions after all. Support for some extensions is expected to become available in the first half of 2020. Closing Words Firefox Preview is improving with every release but that is usually the case before the first final release of a product. Mozilla wants to ensure that all major features of the current Firefox version for Android are supported by the upcoming browser before users are switched over to the new browser. Source: An early look at Firefox Preview 3.0 for Android (gHacks - Martin Brinkmann)
  6. I have started this sub-section for Android Games to keep Android mobile games free from applications / themes. All nsane members are requested to post Games here. If admins as requested creates a sub-forum for it at any stage, this thread will be merged later. For posting guidelines, please refer to this post: //www.nsaneforums.com/topic/220597-guidelines-and-templates/ PS: Admin, thanks for listening to Android sub-forum request.
  7. Facebook Viewpoints lets you make money by giving the company more data Facebook has announced Viewpoints, a new app for Android and iOS that lets users get monetary rewards for participating in different kinds of user research programs, such as surveys. The platform will offer a number of programs over time, requesting to collect certain information about the user. Rewards are given out as points, and when a user gather enough points, they can be turned into money that's sent to the user's PayPal account. To kick off the Viewpoints app, Facebook is launching a well-being survey, which aims to help the company create products that "limit the negative impacts of social media and enhance the benefits". This research is worth 1,000 points, which is equal to US$5. Facebook isn't in a particularly good position to be asking users for more data, but it tried to ease the concerns of those worried about their privacy. For each program, Viewpoints will tell the user what information will be collected and how it will be used before the user registers for it. The Viewpoints app itself will ask for the user's name, age, gender, country of residence, and e-mail address. Facebook says this information will be used to improve the company's own products and that it won't be sold to third parties. Viewpoints activity won't be posted to Facebook without the user's permission, and, of course, users can quit anytime. If that's enough to ease your fears, you can download Viewpoints for Android or iOS to start completing the first program. You can learn more about the app here. Source: Facebook Viewpoints lets you make money by giving the company more data (Neowin)
  8. Google Photos markup feature begins rolling out to all users Google Photos has recently been receiving updates that aim at improving user experience and bringing in nifty features. One such feature that was spotted by a few users was the ability to markup images on Google Photos. As the name suggests, the feature provides users with simple tools to draw on images. However, not many devices saw this update, and there was no way to force install it. Now, a small post on the Google Photos Support forum suggests that the feature is rolling out to all Android users. Accessing the tool is straight forward since the Markup icon is present right in the editing interface. It provides users with the option to choose from a list of colors and two types of brushes. For those that are accustomed to using the Photos app for quick editing, this feature will indeed be a welcome addition. There is a separate support page with more details on using the editing tools in Photos. In addition to these small improvements, reports suggest that the firm is also testing the ability to manually tag faces in Photos for when automatic tagging fails to recognize a person. This feature was confirmed to be in the roadmap for the app earlier this year. The markup tool is currently rolling out to users worldwide. The feature might not show up right away to all users and may be a while till every device received the update since it is staggered. Source: Google Photos markup feature begins rolling out to all users (Neowin)
  9. MSPU Tips: Here is how to use your Android smartphone as a means to send texts to your Windows 10 PC and other devices We’re on the cusp of 2020 and most of us are carrying multiple devices, each serving different purposes. And since tech companies are still far from being able to make the “One device to rule them all” idea a reality, it only makes sense for the companies to find a solution that helps users make their devices work together. Apple has done it, Microsoft has done it, and Google is doing it. You can now use your Android smartphone as a means to send texts or webpages to devices that are linked to your Google account. The process is simple and easy. All you have to do is select a text and then hit the share option, you’ll then see an option called “Send text to Your Devices,” the logo of which is of Google Chrome browser. Now, click on the option and it will then display a “Send to” sheet, containing the list of devices that are liked your Google account. You need to select the device you want to send the text to. Tap and hold on a text field that appears on the device you just send the text to, choose the option paste. You can now see the result. You’ll be able to paste text on smartphones, PCs, Macs, iOS devices, and any device that has a screen and is connected to your Google account. Note, the device from which you’re sending the text and the device you’re sending the text to need to be tied to a similar Gmail account in order for this feature to work. Similarly, you can send URLs to devices that are linked to your Google account. The process is exactly the same! It’s also worth noting that you’ll also be able to send texts from your Outlook email app on Android, meaning that sending texts doesn’t require you to open Google Chrome. This is Google’s answer to Microsoft’s Cloud clipboard feature in Windows 10, though I’d argue that Google’s solution is way better than Microsoft’s Cloud clipboard. If you want to copy something on your PC and then want to paste it to a non-Windows 10 device, Microsoft’s Cloud clipboard won’t help you. Microsoft’s solution is limited only to Windows 10 devices. Google Chrome on Android also lets you directly send webpages to your other devices, including Windows 10 PC, Mac, iPhone, and any other Android smartphone. Source: MSPU Tips: Here is how to use your Android smartphone as a means to send texts to your Windows 10 PC and other devices (MSPoweruser)
  10. Firefox Preview on Android now supports custom search engines Users of Mozilla new Firefox Preview browser for Android will soon be able to select a bigger variety of search engines and add custom search engines. Additionally, users will be able to remove any of the search engines provided by default, which is typical of the customisability we’ve come to expect from Mozilla over the years. The new search engines which have been added were picked due to a number of users requesting them; they include the tree-planting Ecosia, privacy-focused Startpage, Yahoo, Reddit, and YouTube. They join Google, Amazon, Bing, DuckDuckGo, Qwant, Twitter, and Wikipedia. If you're using the nightly version of Firefox Preview, choosing the new search engines is easy, just head to Settings > Search > Add search engine, from here you can select one of the pre-defined search engines or add your own. If you remove any of the default providers, they’ll be moved into this sub-menu. According to Sören Hentzschel who spotted the feature, users should receive the custom search feature in the upcoming Firefox Preview 3.1 update although it’s unclear when this update is planned for. Source: Firefox Preview on Android now supports custom search engines (Neowin)
  11. EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY — Google will pay $1.5 million for the most severe Android exploits Big bump coincides with investments Google has poured into securing its Pixel phone. Enlarge New Line Cinema Google will pay up to $1.5 million for the most severe hacks of its Pixel line of Android phones, a more than seven-fold increase over the previous top Android reward, the company said. Effective immediately, Google will pay $1 million for a “full chain remote code execution exploit with persistence which compromises the Titan M secure element on Pixel devices,” the company said in a post published on Thursday. The company will also pay $500,000 for exploits that exfiltrate data out of a Pixel or bypass its lock screen. Google will offer a 50 percent bonus to any of its rewards if the exploit works on specific developer preview versions of Android. That means a critical Titan M hack on a developer preview could fetch $1.5 million, and a data exfiltration or lockcscreen bypass on a developer preview could earn $750,000, and so on. Previously, rewards for the most severe Android exploits topped out at $200,000 if they involved the trusted execution environment—an independent OS within Android for handling payments, multi-factor authentication, and other sensitive functions—and $150,000 if they involved compromise only on the Android kernel. Putting Titan M to the test The big reward bump coincides with the investments Google has poured into securing the Pixel. The Titan M is a Google-designed chip that’s physically segregated from the main chipset of the device. In many respects, it’s analogous to the Secure Enclave in iPhones or the TrustZone in devices running an Arm processor. The Titan M is a mobile version of the Titan chip Google introduced in 2017. The Titan M carries out four core functions, including: Storing the last known safe version of Android to ensure hackers can’t cause the bootloader—which is the program that validates and loads Android when the phone turns on—to call a malicious or out-of-date version Verifying the lock screen passcode or pattern, limiting the number of unsuccessful login attempts that can be made, and securing the device’s disk encryption key Storing private keys and securing sensitive operations of third-party apps, such as those used to make payments Preventing changes to the firmware unless a passcode or pattern is entered Titan M was first introduced in 2018 with the roll out of the Pixel 3. It’s also in the recently released Pixel 3a, and will also be included in the just-released Pixel 4. Pixel 2 models relied on a less robust dedicated tamper-resistant hardware security module. In-the-wild exploits disclosed last month were able to remotely execute malicious code on an array of Android phones, including the Pixel 1, Pixel 1 XL, Pixel 2, and Pixel 2 XL, but not the Pixel 3. The Titan M wasn't responsible for stopping that attack, however. Instead, the reason was that the Pixel 3 and 3a received Linux patches that the vulnerable Pixels had not. In the four years since the Android Security Rewards Program was introduced, it has paid out more than $4 million from more than 1,800 reports. More than $1.5 million of that came in the past 12 months. The top reward this year was $161,337, which was paid to Guang Gong of Qihoo 360 Technology’s Alpha Lab for a one-click remote code execution exploit chain on a Pixel 3. (Gong’s exploit received an additional $40,000 from the Chrome Rewards Program.) The new rewards come almost three months after third-party exploit broker Zerodium started paying $2.5 million for zero-day attacks compromising Android, a 25-percent premium over comparable exploits for iOS. As tempting as it is to contrast the Zerodium’s top Android payouts to those from Google, don’t. The talent and amount of work required to develop a weaponized exploit for Zerodium are considerably higher than what Google demands, making for an apples-to-oranges comparison. Source: Google will pay $1.5 million for the most severe Android exploits (Ars Technica)
  12. android giveaway

    Home Workouts Gym Pro (No ad) | ANDROID

    All exercise guides by video animation 3D (It is easy to understand) Home Workouts No equipment Pro provides daily workout routines for all your main muscle groups. In just a few minutes each day, you can build muscle and exercise at home without having to go to the gym. No equipment or coach needed, all exercises can be done only with your body weight. This application includes exercises for the abs, chest, legs, arm as well as body training. All exercises are designed by exeperts. No need equipment, so no need to go to the gym. Although it only takes a few minutes each day, it can effectively tone your muscles and get six pack abs at home. Stick with our home workout, and you will notice a change in your body in just a few short weeks PRICE: $1.49 FREE FOR LIMITED TIME SOURCE: https://www.paidapps-free.com/2019/11/home-workouts-gym-pro-no-ad LINK ON PLAYSTORE : https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=fitness.workouts.home.workoutspro&hl=en
  13. Google & Samsung fix Android spying flaw. Other makers may still be vulnerable Camera and mic could be controlled by any app, no permission required. Enlarge Aurich Lawson / Getty Until recently, weaknesses in Android camera apps from Google and Samsung made it possible for rogue apps to record video and audio and take images and then upload them to an attacker-controlled server—without any permissions to do so. Camera apps from other manufacturers may still be susceptible. The weakness, which was discovered by researchers from security firm Checkmarx, represented a potential privacy risk to high-value targets, such as those preyed upon by nation-sponsored spies. Google carefully designed its Android operating system to bar apps from accessing cameras and microphones without explicit permission from end users. An investigation published Tuesday showed it was trivial to bypass those restrictions. The investigation found that an app needed no permissions at all to cause the camera to shoot pictures and record video and audio. To upload the images and video—or any other image and video stored on the phone—to an attacker-controlled server, an app needed only permission to access storage, which is among one of the most commonly given usage rights. The weakness, which is tracked as CVE-2019-2234, also allowed would-be attackers to track the physical location of the device, assuming GPS data was embedded into images or videos. Google closed the eavesdropping hole in its Pixel line of devices with a camera update that became available in July. Checkmarx said Samsung has also fixed the vulnerability, although it wasn't clear when that happened. Checkmarx said Google has indicated that Android phones from other manufacturers may also be vulnerable. The specific makers and models haven't been disclosed. "The ability for an application to retrieve input from the camera, microphone, and GPS location is considered highly invasive by Google themselves," Checkmarx Director of Security Research Erez Yalon wrote in Tuesday's analysis. "As a result, AOSP created a specific set of permissions that an application must request from the user." To demonstrate the risk, Checkmarx developed a proof-of-concept rogue app that exploited the weakness. It masqueraded as a simple weather app. Hidden inside were functions that could: Take pictures and record videos, even when the phone was locked, the screen was off, or the app was closed Pull GPS data embedded into any photo or video stored on the phone Eavesdrop and record two-way phone conversations and simultaneously record video or take images Silence the camera shutter to make the spying harder to detect Transfer any photo or video stored on the phone to an attacker-controlled server List and download any JPG image or MP4 video stored on the phone's SD card An attack wouldn't be completely surreptitious. The screen of an exploited device would display the camera as it recorded video or shot an image. That would tip off anyone who was looking at the handset at the time the attack was being carried out. Still, the attack would be able to capture video, sound, and images at times when a phone display was out of eyesight, such as when the device was placed screen down. The app was able to use the proximity sensor to determine when the device is face down. Checkmarx's PoC app was also able to use a phone's proximity sensor to detect when it was held to a target's ear, as often happens during phone calls. The app was able to record both sides of the conversation. It could also record video or take images, a useful capability in the event the back of the phone was facing a whiteboard or something else of interest to an attacker. Checkmarx's report includes a video demonstrating the capabilities of the PoC app. In a statement, Google officials wrote: "We appreciate Checkmarx bringing this to our attention and working with Google and Android partners to coordinate disclosure. The issue was addressed on impacted Google devices via a Play Store update to the Google Camera Application in July 2019. A patch has also been made available to all partners." Samsung officials wrote: "Since being notified of this issue by Google, we have subsequently released patches to address all Samsung device models that may be affected. We value our partnership with the Android team that allowed us to identify and address this matter directly." The statement didn't say when Samsung released the fix or how Samsung customers can check if the patch has been installed. Checkmarx said Google has privately indicated that other makers of Android phones besides Samsung may also be vulnerable. Google's statement didn't directly confirm this or say if any other manufacturers have installed an update. In an email, Checkmarx's Yalon said it wasn't clear why apps could access the camera without the user providing permission. He speculated that the weakness may be the result of Google making the camera work with the voice-activated Google Assistant and other manufacturers following suit. Users of Pixel phones can confirm they aren't vulnerable by accessing Apps and Notifications from the settings menu, choosing Camera > Advanced > and App details. The screen should show that the app has been updated since July (and ideally much more recently than that). Checking if other Android phones are susceptible will be difficult for most users. Those who are more technically skilled can run the following command: $ adb shell am start-activity -n com.google.android.GoogleCamera/com.android.camera.CameraActivity --ez extra_turn_screen_on true -a android.media.action.VIDEO_CAMERA --ez android.intent.extra.USE_FRONT_CAMERA true The above command will force the phone to take video. The following command will force the phone to take a photo: $ adb shell am start-activity -n com.google.android.GoogleCamera/com.android.camera.CameraActivity --ez extra_turn_screen_on true -a android.media.action.STILL_IMAGE_CAMERA - -ez android.intent.extra.USE_FRONT_CAMERA true --ei android.intent.extra.TIMER_DURATION_SECONDS 3 The skill and luck required to make the attack work reliably and without detection are high enough that this type of exploit isn't likely to be used against the vast majority of Android users. Still, the ease of sneaking malicious apps into the Google Play store suggests it wouldn't be hard for a determined and sophisticated attacker to pull off something like this. No wonder phones and other electronics are barred from SCIFs and other sensitive environments. Source: Google & Samsung fix Android spying flaw. Other makers may still be vulnerable (Ars Technica)
  14. Google outlines plans for mainline Linux kernel support in Android Google wants less forking, more modularization for Android's Linux kernel. First image of article image gallery. Please visit the source link to see all images. It seems like Google is working hard to update and upstream the Linux kernel that sits at the heart of every Android phone. The company was a big participant in this year's Linux Plumbers Conference, a yearly meeting of the top Linux developers, and Google spent a lot of time talking about getting Android to work with a generic Linux kernel instead of the highly-customized version it uses now. It even showed an Android phone running a mainline Linux kernel. But first, some background on Android's current kernel mess.Currently, three major forks happen in between the "mainline" Linux kernel and a shipping Android device (note that "mainline" here has no relation to Google's own "Project Mainline"). First, Google takes the an LTS (Long Term Support) Linux kernel and turns it into the "Android Common kernel"—the Linux kernel with all the Android OS-specific patches applied. Android Common is shipped to the SoC vendor (usually Qualcomm) where it gets its first round of hardware-specific additions, first focusing on a particular model of SoC. This "SoC Kernel" then gets sent to a device manufacturer for even more hardware-specific code that supports every other piece of hardware, like the display, camera, speakers, usb ports, and any extra hardware. This is the "Device Kernel," and it's what actually ships on a device. This is an extremely long journey that results in every device shipping millions of lines of out-of-tree kernel code. Every shipping device kernel is different and device specific—basically no device kernel from one phone will work on another phone. The mainline kernel version for a device is locked in at the beginning of an SoC's initial development, so it's typical for a brand-new device to ship with a Linux kernel that is two years old. Even Google's latest and, uh, greatest device, the Pixel 4, shipped in October 2019 with Linux kernel 4.14, an LTS release from November 2017. It will be stuck on kernel 4.14 forever, too. Android devices do not get kernel updates, probably thanks to the incredible amount of work needed to produce just a single device kernel, and the chain of companies that would need to cooperate to do it. Thanks to kernel updates never happening, this means every new release of Android usually has to support the last three years of LTS kernel releases (the minimum for Android 10 is 4.9, a 2016 release). Google's commitments to support older versions of Android with security patches means the company is still supporting kernel 3.18, which is five years old now. Google's band-aid solution for this so far has been to team up with the Linux community and support mainline Linux LTS releases for longer, and they're now up to six years of support. Last year, at Linux Plumbers Conference 2018, Google announced its initial investigation into bringing the Android kernel closer to mainline Linux. This year it shared a bit more detail on its progress so far, but it's definitely still a work in progress. "Today, we don't know what it takes to be added to the kernel to run on a [specific] Android device," Android Kernel Team lead Sandeep Patil told the group at LPC 2019. "We know what it takes to run Android but not necessarily on any given hardware. So our goal is to basically find all of that out, then upstream it and try to be as close to mainline as possible." Google says that "compared to [Linux] LTS (4.14.0), the Android common kernel has 355 changes, 32,266 insertions, and 1,546 deletions (as of February 2018)." Progress is being made here every year, but keep in mind there are still two more forks after this. Google While there is still work to be done for getting the wider Android ecosystem and myriad device configurations on board, for specific models of device, things seem to be progressing well. Tom Gall, the director of the Linaro Consumer Group, showed off a Xiaomi Poco F1 actually running the mainline Linux kernel under the usual Android OS. Gall told the audience "There are major, major props to be given to the Google Kernel Team in particular for getting their code upstream so that we can boot devices with a mainline kernel." Along with the plan to upstream as much kernel code as possible, Google is also looking to replicate its earlier work at modularizing Android, Project Treble. Just as Treble created a stable interface between the Android OS and the device HALs (Hardware Abstraction Layers), Google's proposal for bringing Android closer to mainline Linux (How is there not a silly "project" name for this yet?) involves stabilizing Linux's in-kernel ABI and having a stable interface for the Linux kernel and hardware vendors to write to. Google wants to decouple the Linux kernel from its hardware support. The Linux community has been against the idea of a stable interface for some time, with the suggestion that if you want the ability to quickly update a kernel, open source your drivers and get them in the main kernel tree, where any changes will be taken care of for you. Open sourcing drivers is an absolute deal breaker for many hardware companies, though, and no amount of advocacy or product degradation is going to change that. The fact that Google is stuck supporting five-year-old versions of Linux shows this model isn't working. Enlarge / Instead of a bunch of forks, Google imagines the new kernel as a series of modules. Matthias Männich Matthias Männich, a senior software engineer at Google, displayed a diagram labeled "Android Next Generation" that showed what this proposed kernel architecture would look like. Google would ship a "Generic Kernel Image (GKI)" along with several "GKI Modules" that would expose this stable API/ABI in the kernel. The hardware-specific drivers (probably closed source drivers) would be loaded as kernel modules. So instead of forks on top of forks, everything gets modularized into additive packages. For now, Google is only proposing that the in-kernel ABI be stable for a single LTS version. So this wouldn't allow devices to upgrade from one version of the Linux kernel to another—it would just allow for a single generalized kernel image to work across multiple devices, instead of the device-specific kernel forks we have today. It would definitely allow for easier security updates, and hopefully it would get new LTS releases to market faster. We would be premature if we said this is a change that is definitely coming to Android and the Linux kernel. There are still tons of problems to solve (both technically and politically, I would imagine), and some of these talks were more like public brainstorming sessions between the Google presenters and the Linux engineers (many of which were also Googlers!) in the audience. This is the second year in a row Google has showed up to LPC and pitched the idea of using the mainline Linux kernel in Android, though, and with Android being of the biggest Linux sort-of-distros on Earth, it makes sense for everyone to work together, right? "We have miles to go, and we know that, but we've come along from where we started," Patil told the crowd. "Last year, I talked it into existence. This time, we actually have problems to discuss." Listing image by Eric Adeleye / Flickr Source: Google outlines plans for mainline Linux kernel support in Android (Ars Technica) (To view the article's image gallery, please visit the above link)
  15. Chrome for Android has just solved one of the web's most irritating problems Browser notifications just got less bothersome (Image credit: Shutterstock) Google has added a new experimental option to Chrome for Android, which helps make alerts about site notifications less intrusive. The browser already has some options for customizing how these alerts appear, but the new setting aims (called 'Quieter notification permission prompts') is new for anyone using Chrome Canary on their phone or tablet. This setting is added to the existing 'Enabled', 'Enabled (force heads-up notifications)' and 'Enabled (force mini-infobars)' options. You can choose the setting you would like to use by visiting chrome://flags in Chrome, and then searching for 'Quieter notification permission prompts'. As Techdows reports, the new option can be found in Chrome Canary 80.0.3969.0 and newer, and as the name would suggest, 'Force quiet notifications' is far less intrusive than the other options. Quieten things down With 'Force heads-up notifications' selected, you'll be shown an aggressive popup informing you that notifications are available for a site, and giving you the option of blocking or allowing them. Select 'Force mini-infobars', and instead you'll see a small mini-message at the bottom of the screen. You can tap this to change settings, or just ignore it. With the new 'Force quiet notifications' option enabled you will instead see a soft notification in Android itself which you can deal with or ignore as you see fit. Source: Chrome for Android has just solved one of the web's most irritating problems (TechRadar)
  16. Microsoft is killing off its Cortana mobile apps everywhere except the U.S. next year If you're a fan of Microsoft's Cortana virtual assistant and you live outside of the U.S., you're in for some bad news, although that should frankly be no surprise. The company is ending support for the Cortana mobile app on iOS and Android as of January 31, as noted in a support document published this week. The support document is from the UK, as Microsoft isn't killing the app if you're in the United States. Indeed, the page also notes that Cortana is being removed from Microsoft Launcher on Android, something that was previously reported earlier this month, and that news is also exclusive to those outside of the U.S. Instead, Microsoft's strategy is to integrate its digital assistant into its various Microsoft 365 apps, such as Office, To Do, and so on. The Redmond firm was clear that it's not actually killing off Cortana, but only the mobile apps and the integration with Microsoft Launcher. It's unclear why the apps will continue to be supported in the U.S., so it's entirely possible that those will be removed at a later date as well. Source: Microsoft is killing off its Cortana mobile apps everywhere except the U.S. next year (Neowin)
  17. “Absolutely relentless” “ad blocker” plasters users with—you guessed it—ads Ads Blocker uses several tricks to covertly and constantly bombard users with ads. Enlarge captcreate / Flickr A fake ad blocker available outside of Google Play is bombarding Android users with ads, many of them vulgar, and to make matters worse, the cleverly hidden adware is hard to uninstall. As documented by antimalware provider Malwarebytes, Ads Blocker, as the app is called, employs several tricks to surreptitiously and constantly bombard users with ads. The first is to simply ask for usage rights to display over other apps. Next, it makes a connection request to "set up a VPN connection that allows it to monitor network traffic." Finally, it seeks permission to add a widget to the homescreen. In fact, approving the the VPN connection—a standard requirement for some legitimate ad blockers—allows Ads Blocker to run in the background at all times. Combined with the permission to display over other apps, the app is free to plaster ads in a variety of aggressive and annoying ways. It displays full-page ads across the screen. It delivers ads in the default browser. It includes ads in notifications. And it places ads in the homescreen widget. Enlarge / There's no Ads Blocker icon. "This Android malware is absolutely relentless in its ad-serving capabilities and frequency," Malwarebytes researcher Nathan Collier wrote. "As a matter of fact, while writing this blog, it served up numerous ads on my test device at a frequency of about once every couple minutes." The content of the ads is wide ranging, including some, Collier wrote, that are "unsavory" or even "vulgar." Equally annoying is the difficulty in removing the fake ad blocker from devices. Ads Blocker has no icon. There's no mention of Ads Blocker on the App info section of the Android settings, because the app shields the name with a white box. The concealment leaves many people struggling to uninstall the app. Another white box appears over the notification box. Pressing the box causes a dialog box to appear asking for permission to install yet more apps. Enlarge / The name of the fake ad blocker is removed from Android's App Info section. Malwarebytes Collier went on to describe a simple way to remove the app—by looking for an entry with storage size of 6.57 megabytes in the App Info section of the Android settings. Users can then select that entry and use the uninstall button. This method didn't appear to work on Android 10, since the App Info box doesn't display storage sizes (at least not on the device I was using). An alternate method in that case may be accessing Storage in the Android settings and choosing the Apps tab. While the Ads Blocker name and icon won't appear, its use of 6.57MB should still be displayed. Users can then press the 6.57MB entry, click the screen immediately above the "clear storage" and "clear cache" icons, and choose uninstall. People can also use the free version of Malwarebytes for Android to remove the app. Malwarebytes researchers still don't know how Ads Blocker is getting distributed. Data in malware-scanning service VirusTotal suggests the app is spreading in the United States, most likely when people look for an ad blocker from a third-party app store. A forum post on a French website and a file name written in the German language provide evidence the app may also be distributed in Europe. So far, the Malwarebytes app has detected only 500 infections. After collecting more than 1,800 samples of the app, company researchers suspect the total number of infections is much higher. Source: “Absolutely relentless” “ad blocker” plasters users with—you guessed it—ads (Ars Technica)
  18. Google Chrome is getting a new tab switcher – and it's a bit of a mess There's a lot going on... Chrome's old tab switcher on the left, with large cards, and the redesigned switcher on the right (Image credit: Google) Google is testing an update for Chrome that might prove controversial: a new tab switcher that's packed with extra icons and options, eschewing the old minimalist look. Rather than simply showing a set of large 'cards' that you can swipe through to choose the tab you want, the new design presents you with (take a deep breath) the Google logo front and center, an Incognito mode toggle, a set of links to recently visited sites, a search bar (complete with voice search option), an options menu, and a button for creating new tabs. The 'cards' for your current tabs have been replaced by much smaller tiles, similar to those used by Firefox. The overall effect is rather crowded, with the Incognito toggle seeming like a particularly unusual addition, crammed right beside the Google logo. Try it now The new design is still in an experimental stage, and it's not clear when it might roll out to the release version of Chrome, but it's available to try now in both the Canary and Dev versions for Android. As Android Police explains, whether the new tab switcher appears is rather hit-and-miss. It might appear by default the first time you try it, or you might need to visit chrome://flags and search for 'enable tab grid layout'. Change this flag's setting to 'Enabled' and re-launch the browser. Source: Google Chrome is getting a new tab switcher – and it's a bit of a mess (TechRadar)
  19. (Reuters) - The several dozen attorneys general investigating advertising practices at Alphabet Inc’s Google are planning to expand their antitrust probe into the unit’s flagship Android business, CNBC reported on Thursday, citing people familiar with the matter. The investigation, led by the Texas attorney general’s office, is known to have focused on Google’s search and digital advertising businesses since it began in September. Google has said it is cooperating with the probe by U.S. states and territories and that previous investigations in several have considered similar issues without charging the company with wrongdoing. It did not have further comment on Thursday. The Alphabet unit also faces two other major inquiries — a U.S. Justice Department investigation and a probe by the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee — both of which have broad reviews of the big internet companies underway. Last year, Google was fined 4.34 billion euros by the European Commission, which said the tech giant gave itself an unfair advantage by pre-installing its Chrome browser and Google search app on Android smartphones and notebooks. Source
  20. Only available in Brazil Instagram has launched a new video editing tool in Brazil that copies some of the best-known features of TikTok. As reported by TechCrunch and Variety, the tool is called Reels and is available on both iOS and Android. There’s no word on whether it will be launched in other countries, but it’s certainly likely if the tool is a success. With Reels, users can record 15-second videos, adjust their speed, set them to music, or borrow audio from others’ videos — similar to the “Duet” feature in TikTok. They can share them to their stories, send them via DMs, or post them to a new section of Instagram’s Explore tab called Top Reels, where the company is hoping the best clips will go viral. It seems like a clever way for Instagram to leverage its existing network of users in order to take on TikTok. Facebook has previously tried to clone the app’s success with a standalone product called Lasso but it’s difficult to build a user base from scratch. Instagram previously had great success with this tactic copying Snapchat’s signal Stories feature in 2016. You can watch a quick demo of Reels below: It’s clear that Instagram is trying to steal TikTok’s thunder, but the company’s director of product management, Robby Stein, told TechCrunch that there was more than one way to skin a cat. “No two products are exactly the same, and at the end of the day sharing video with music is a pretty universal idea we think everyone might be interested in using,” said Stein. “The focus has been on how to make this a unique format for us.” The Verge previously reported that the new tool might be called Scenes, after a similar feature was spotted by Jane Manchun Wong, a software engineer who’s made a name for herself reverse engineering code from top apps. It now seems Scenes is actually Reels. We’ve known for a while that Facebook is extremely keen to counter TikTok’s rise. As well as launching Lasso, Mark Zuckerberg revealed the company’s ambitions regarding the Chinese app in audio leaked to The Verge in October. The Facebook CEO indicated then that Instagram would probably have to be enlisted in the fight against the new upstart. TikTok has “married short-form, immersive video with browse,” said Zuckerberg. “So it’s almost like the Explore Tab that we have on Instagram.” Now is certainly a good time for TikTok’s competitors to pounce (Google is also reportedly working on its own response). The app has seen huge growth but is facing trouble from regulators, including a US national security review. For TikTok, the clock is ticking. Update November 12th, 7:23AM ET: Story has been updated to incorporate news of the launch of Reels. Source: Instagram is testing a new video editing tool called Reels that copies TikTok’s best features (via The Verge)
  21. Mozilla Taiwan releases Firefox Lite 2.0 for Android Mozilla has created several Android web browsers in the recent past: from classic Firefox and Firefox Preview to Firefox Focus and Firefox Lite. Firefox Lite 1.0 was released last year by Mozilla Taiwan; it is a mobile browser that, besides its name, does not have much in common with Firefox for Android (or the desktop). The browser uses Chromium WebView and not Mozilla's own rendering engine to display websites. One advantage of that is that it is very lightweight (roughly 5 Megabytes) in comparison. Firefox Lite's availability is limited to several regions in Asia. Users from other regions may download the APK file from mirror sites such as APK Pure to install it on their devices. The installation itself is not restricted. Some functionality, e.g. the display of coupons and deals, is limited to certain geographic regions such as India or Indonesia. Firefox Lite 2.0 improves the mobile browser in several meaningful ways. The main idea of the browser, to create a lightweight mobile browser with a focus on privacy and the saving of data. The browser's Turbo Mode is activated by default; it blocks known trackers and most of the advertising on the Internet which in turn reduces the amount of data that needs to be transferred to display websites in the browser. Firefox Lite offers no controls to manage the blocking other than turning Turbo Mode on or off. While it does reduce the time it takes to load sites that display advertisement, it offers no option to add trackers to the list or whitelist sites. The browser uses Google as the default search engine but there is an option in the settings to change it to DuckDuckGo. It does not seem possible to add other search engines to it though. As far as settings are concerned, you may want to disable the sending of usage data to Mozilla while you are there. The browser displays several controls when you tap on the settings icon in the main interface. It features an option to block the loading of images which will further speed up the loading of sites. Firefox Lite users may also capture entire webpages using the built-in screenshot tool designed to provide read-only access to these webpages even when offline. The homepage of the browser is divided into two main parts. The main area links to news and gaming sections, the lower speed dial pane to 15 websites. Custom sites may be added to the section and a long-tap on any of the 15 sites displays options to remove it from the listing. The news interface divides news into different sections such as world, business or technology. The interface itself lists titles, the source and the time it has been released only; a tap opens the original source in the browser. The gaming interface lists several game categories on start but a tap on a game loads the game right away on the device. A long-tap on a game displays options to pin it to the home screen for quick access. A shopping icon is placed prominently next to the search/address bar in Firefox Lite 2.0. A click opens the browser's Smart Shopping Search which redirects to a special tabbed-interface of the browser to look at results on Google, eBay, Amazon, and other sites. Closing Words Firefox Lite 2.0 is a lightweight browser for Android that is designed to eliminate most of the tracking and advertisement on the Internet. The browser has a handful of interesting features, e.g. the screenshot functionality that is built-in, but lacks customization options. Additionally, it has little in common with the main Firefox browser for Android other than its name and the fact that it is developed by Mozilla Taiwan. Source: Mozilla Taiwan releases Firefox Lite 2.0 for Android (gHacks - Martin Brinkmann)
  22. If you are an avid PC gamer, you probably know about Discord. It started out as a chat service for gamers, but it has seen immense growth since then among regular users as well. Due to Discord's popularity as a chat service, the mobile apps for Android and iOS are also quite popular among consumers. While the Android app may have had a dark theme for a while now, Discord has quietly added a new AMOLED dark theme in the latest version (9.8.2 and later) of its Android app. The new dark theme may feel more pleasurable than the current "Dark" theme for some users but it is unlikely that the new theme will prolong the battery life on your phones. Currently available on version 9.8.2 or later, the hidden "AMOLED optimized (experimental)" option can be accessed in Settings -> Appearance where you will need to tap on the "Dark" option ten times. You should see a toast notification that says, "Brave one, the path to darkness opens!". Then, the hidden option will be visible under the "Light" and "Dark" options. After the setting is enabled, app needs to be restarted so that the theme can be applied to nearly all of the UI elements. Unfortunately right now, AMOLED dark doesn't support all UI elements. Nevertheless, you don't need a phone running Android 10 to access the new dark theme but if you do, make sure that the theme isn't tied to the dark mode on Android 10. Source: 1. Discord 9.8.2 has a hidden AMOLED dark theme on Android (via Neowin) - main article 2. Discord 9.8.2 adds a hidden AMOLED dark theme on Android (via XDA Developers) - reference to the main article
  23. It’s calling the partnership the ‘App Defense Alliance’ Google announced today that it’s teaming up with three security companies to help identify malicious apps before they’re published on the Play Store and can potentially do harm to Android users. The company is calling this partnership the App Defense Alliance. Android is on over 2.5 billion devices, according to Google, and the company says that makes the platform “an attractive target” for abuse. That abuse can take the form of hidden malware or secret code designed to spy and siphon away sensitive user data. This seems to be particularly true of the Play Store — over the past year or so, Google has had to take action against multiple developers for releasing apps on the Play Store using scammy ad practices. By forming the App Defense Alliance, Google is enlisting security companies ESET, Lookout, and Zimperium to help scan for bad apps before they hit the Play Store in the first place. Google already builds Google Play Protect, its malware protection service, right into Android. The company says it also uses Play Protect to scan “billions” of apps every day on the Play Store. So it seems like Google should already be catching these bad apps — but apparently, the problem is big enough that the company felt the need to bring in some reinforcements. In theory, with more companies helping scan Play Store apps, there’s a better chance you won’t accidentally download one of the bad offenders on your Android device. Source: Google teams up with security companies to catch bad apps before they hit the Play Store (via The Verge)
  24. Bill Gates: Windows Phone could have defeated Android Microsoft founder laments missed opportunity due to antitrust investigation (Image credit: Microsoft) Microsoft founder Bill Gates believes the company would have dominated the smartphone world had it not been for an antitrust investigation it faced in the early 2000s. Speaking at the New York Times’ DealBook conference, Gates said he was too distracted by the case and missed a deadline to put Windows Mobile on a Motorola device by a matter of months. Microsoft dominated smartphones in the first part of the decade with Windows Mobile, but this first mover advantage was limited by the fact the market for such devices was so small. Motorola was a major device manufacturer during the period, meaning Windows Mobile could have gained significant traction in the market and would have limited the opportunity that Google seized with Android. Microsoft Mobile “There’s no doubt that the antitrust lawsuit was bad for Microsoft, and we would have been more focused on creating the phone operating system and so instead of using Android today you would be using Windows Mobile,” Gates is quoted as saying. “If it hadn’t been for the antitrust case... we were so close, I was just too distracted. I screwed that up because of the distraction.” The first Android devices were launched in the latter part of the decade and filled the vacuum left by Microsoft for a non-Apple mobile operating system. Android has effectively become to smartphones what Windows is to PCs. Windows Phone was critically acclaimed but released far too late to gain the consumer, vendor and developer support required to successfully challenge for the top spot. Not even the acquisition of former market leader Nokia could help arrest the decline. Gates has previously described Microsoft’s inability to capture the market as his biggest mistake, one worth hundreds of billions of pounds, but the company has at least made peace with its failure. A final low-key attempt to win share with a mobile version of Windows 10 has run out of steam, and Microsoft even plans to use Android in its upcoming Surface Duo device. Under Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s strategy is to get its services, such as Microsoft Office 365, onto as many devices as possible and drive subscription revenue. Source: Bill Gates: Windows Phone could have defeated Android (TechRadar)
  25. In order to make small firms sell goods more easily, WhatsApp has added a new feature to its WhatsApp Business app called catalogs. Catalogs are accessible via a business’s profile page and users can scroll through the different products to see a description and price. This will cut out the need for back and forward messaging between customers and businesses. For each product, businesses can attach a price, a description, and a product code. Not only does this speed custom up but it also makes smaller businesses look more professional. According to WhatsApp, catalogs are stored in the cloud which saves both customers and businesses storage space on their devices. Setting up a new catalog is pretty easy; head into the WhatsApp Business app and go to settings, then go to Business Settings and select Catalog, from here you can add products. Once you’re happy with the details just hit save. In order to promote your products, you can attach them from the catalog directly into chats. The feature is available now for WhatsApp Business on both Android and iPhone in Brazil, Germany, India, Indonesia, Mexico, the U.K., and the U.S. If your country is not listed, don’t worry, WhatsApp will roll out the feature to the rest of the world soon. Source: WhatsApp Business app gains catalog feature to help small firms (via Neowin)
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