‘Pokémon Go’ rolls out on Android and iOS

With all the news surrounding Pokémon Go‘s beta test and wearable, you’d be forgiven for thinking the full game was already out. Until recently, it wasn’t, but that’s changing if you live in the United States and have an Android device, as spotted by 9to5 Google. Rocking a handset designed in Cupertino? Well, only iPhone owners in Australia have access at the moment so a measure of patience is in order.

The game that brings Pokémon collecting into the real world via developer Niantic Labs’ augmented reality and GPS tech has been gestating for quite a bit. The intent, Niantic CEP John Hanke told us back in June, is to make you feel like you’re venturing out into the world and capturing the pocket monsters for yourself. “You can live the story of being a Pokemon trainer,” he said. Now it’s time to discover how quickly can you catch ’em all.

Via: 9to5 Google

Source: iTunes (Australia), Google Play

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Android malware from Chinese ad firm infects 10 million devices

The Android malware Hummingbad has infected 10 million devices so far, but what’s most interesting is where it comes from. First discovered by the security firm Check Point in February, the researchers have tied it to Yingmob, a highly organized Chinese advertising and analytics company that looks like your typical hum-drum ad firm. Once it successfully infects and sets up a rootkit on Android devices (giving it full administrative control), Hummingbad generates as much as $ 300,000 a month through fraudulent app installs and ad clicks. As Check Point describes it, Hummingbad is an example of how malware companies can support themselves independently.

“Emboldened by this independence, Yingmob and groups like it can focus on honing their skill sets to take malware campaigns in entirely new directions, a trend Check Point researchers believe will escalate,” the researchers say. “For example, groups can pool device resources to create powerful botnets, they can create databases of devices to conduct highly-targeted attacks, or they can build new streams of revenue by selling access to devices under their control to the highest bidder.”

On top of its Hummingbad victims, Yingmob controls around 85 million devices globally. Naturally, the company is also able to sell access to the infected devices, along with sensitive information. And while its attack is global, most victims are in China and India, with 1.6 million and 1.3 million infected users, respectively. iPhone users aren’t safe from Yingmob either — researchers have also found that the group is behind the Yispecter iOS malware.

Via: CNET

Source: Check Point (1), (2)

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BBM Video for Android and iPhone is now out in Asia-Pacific

Most BBM users finally have access to the app’s video calling capability. BlackBerry has released the feature for Android and iOS in Asia-Pacific, which is apparently home to its biggest userbase. The company said it made cross-platform video calls available in the US and Canada first, because it wanted to be able to fix bugs before it reaches more people. Since video calling is now stable, the phonemaker can roll it out to the rest of world.

While BBM isn’t as popular as its newer, shinier rivals like Messenger or WhatsApp anymore, BlackBerry is still developing new features for it. In fact, this release is but a small part of a bigger rollout. Later this summer, the company will launch the capability to register for an account using a phone number, among other things. Android users will be able to share larger videos, as well, while those on iOS will be able to mute group notifications.

Source: BlackBerry

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Android Pay Day offers UK discounts for mobile payments

Now that Android Pay is available in the UK, Google wants to make sure people are actually using it. The company has come up with a promotion called Android Pay Day, which offers discounts every month on the Tuesday before your next pay slip. The scheme kicks off today with two deals; firstly, in Starbucks, you can get two-for-one on Frappucinos; the second is a £5 voucher (ANDROIDPAY5 for new users, ANDROIDPAY2.5 for existing customers) that you can redeem inside the Deliveroo app, provided you select Android Pay as your payment method at checkout.

These discounts are designed, no doubt, to educate people about the different ways they can spend with Android Pay. Most Brits will know they can use their phone to pay at physical stores — they’ll have seen iPhone users doing the same with Apple Pay. But it’s possible, or rather likely, that users are less familiar with Android Pay’s second role as a digital wallet. Android Pay Day could, therefore, be an important tool for raising awareness among the Android-wielding public. Success will ultimately hinge, however, on Google promoting the monthly rewards effectively — if no-one knows they exist, they won’t have an impact on adoption.

A good start would be a promotions page like the one it’s set up for US customers.

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Add-on brings Game Boy cartridges to your Android phone

Hyperkin toyed with gamers last year when it teased a peripheral that would play real Game Boy cartridges on your phone, but it wasn’t just kidding around — it’s making good on its word. The company is now taking pre-orders for a Smart Boy Development Kit that lets your Android smartphone play Game Boy and Game Boy Color cartridges. The $ 60 peripheral isn’t meant for everyday use — Hyperkin is hoping you’ll improve the open source code yourself. Nonetheless, it’s likely the closest you’ll get to reviving your childhood short of dragging the original hardware out of storage. Just be ready to wait until December 1st to get yours… and while Hyperkin originally talked about an iPhone version, Apple handset users are out of luck so far.

Via: SlashGear, Neowin, Gizmodo

Source: Hyperkin

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Shazam’s background listening feature comes to Android

Shazam can build you a Spotify playlist, help you discover new tunes and identify magazines, but song recognition is still at the heart of the app. Even with this core feature getting faster and quicker to start up, sometimes it can still be a race to ask for Shazam’s ear before the DJ drops the next track. In the latest update to its Android app, though, Shazam has added the ‘Auto’ background listening feature so you never have to let a hot beat pass you by.

You still need to open Shazam to enable Auto mode — a feature that came to the iPhone version two and half years ago — but that’s a good thing. It’s described as “battery friendly,” but the app will stay active in the background, draining that bit more of your precious juice. You can at least leave it running while your favorite radio show is on, though, and if you just happen to get a perfect score on the music round at your next quiz night, fear not: Your secret’s safe with us.

Via: Ubergizmo

Source: Shazam (Google Play)

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AT&T brings WiFi calling to Android phones

Hey, AT&T subscribers: you no longer need an iPhone to make calls over WiFi. The carrier has introduced WiFi calling for Android. If you have a supporting device (currently limited to the LG G4), a postpaid plan and HD Voice support, you can grab an update that lets you make calls over the internet when cell service just isn’t an option. As on the iPhone, what you pay for a call only depends on who you’re calling — you can reach a US number at no extra charge while you’re abroad. AT&T certainly isn’t the first out of the gate with WiFi calling on Android, but this will definitely make a difference if you’d rather not switch networks just to get the improved coverage.

Source: AT&T

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Facebook adds SMS to Messenger for Android

A few months ago, Facebook was reported to be testing SMS integration in its Messenger app for Android. Now, that feature is officially live. It’s entirely optional, so you’ll need to enable it. To do so, head over to Settings in the Messenger app, select “SMS” and then choose “Default SMS app.” This means all of your text messages will be sent and received on the Messenger app. Your SMS conversations will be in purple to differentiate them from the default Messenger blue.

Interestingly, SMS in Messenger doesn’t support just text and images. It also supports rich content like stickers, GIFs, emojis and location sharing — just like regular Messenger conversations. Facebook also wanted to clarify that none of the messages are stored on the company’s servers; all of the text messages are sent via SMS as per usual. That does mean that regular texting fees do apply.

This feature is only for the Android app due to the limitations of iOS. But seeing as Apple’s own Messaging is getting a lot of these Messenger-like enhancements — emojis, stickers etc — iPhone users probably aren’t missing out too much.

Source: Facebook

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Run Android on an iPhone – with some heavy engineering and caveats

Familiar with cramming one operating system into somewhere it doesn’t belong, developers at Tendigi have just created a homemade iPhone case that lets you run Android on your iOS smartphone. (Well, kind of). Fortunately, because of the Android Open Source Project, it gave Nick Lee the freedom to clone the mobile OS and build his own local hardware. Before he went that far, Lee decided to test the concept — streaming Android across to an iPhone through a cable — with a Nexus 5. He needed tools that could communicate with iOS, as well as services that let USB cables play nice with an iPhone. Lee also crafted software that transmitted what was happening on the Android devices’ screen to the iPhone, while also send touch-input back. The next challenge: cramming it all into an iPhone “case”. See it working after the break.

He then made his own tiny Android development board (all the technical specifics are here), linking it to the soon-to-be franken-iPhone and its own power supply, prototyping and 3D-printing an enclosure to house it all and attach to the iPhone. It’s not the prettiest case, and really you’re ‘streaming’ Android to your iPhone screen, but it’s the man-hours thought that counts, right?

Source: Tendigi

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A closer look at that $14,000 Android phone

How much do you value your privacy, and how worried are you that your calls and text messages are under observation? If the answer to both question is “lots,” then perhaps you’d be interested in Israeli startup Sirin Labs’ first smartphone, the Solarin. The device is a titanium-clad Android smartphone that lets you quickly toggle between a regular Android device and a secure, locked-down communications tool. The headline detail here is that it costs $ 14,000 (plus tax), or £9,500 in the UK. At that price, it’s intended mainly for titans of industry and the jet set: people with secrets worth stealing. In many ways, it’s the first phone that’s been specifically designed to keep the personal data of the 1 percent safe from everyone else.

The system works like this: By default it’s a beefy, ultra-masculine Android smartphone with a skin that looks like it was designed by the prop department of a spy movie. But once you’ve flicked the tiny toggle on the back of the device, it’ll switch into a secure mode with a green and white, 8-bit skin. In this mode, all but the most essential sensors are disabled, and both calls and text messages are encrypted, only to be read by trusted devices carrying the Solarin Friend app. In this environment, your data is protected by 256-bit AES encryption, backed up by security firms Zimperium and Koolspan. There’s even a secure concierge service that monitors the state of your phone and warns you of incoming attacks.

An Android skin that looks like it was designed by the prop department of a spy movie

When not in this mode, it’s just your average Android smartphone, with a high-end Snapdragon 810 chip and a healthy 4GB of RAM. You’ll also get 120GB of internal storage (no memory card slot) and a 23.8-megapixel, Sony made camera and a quad-LED flash. Hold the 5.5-inch device in your hand and the first thing you’ll notice is how hefty it feels. The pictures convey some degree of chunkiness, but only in real life do you see how pleasingly solid it feels. Imagine a BlackBerry Storm binged on protein powder for a few months and you’ll get the idea. The unobtrusive styling, coated in black “technical leather” (read: leather made to look like carbon fiber), means that Solarin oozes the sort of ultra masculine charm that business types probably fetishize.

The 5.5-inch, QHD IPS LCD display boasts fantastic viewing angles and beautifully rich colors. Like the Snapdragon 810 chip, it isn’t brand new, but the compromise there was intentional. The year-old chipset was chosen to ensure that the company had a year to ensure it was secure. Likewise, the Solarin may not have a 4K display, but the comparatively lower resolution here is surely gentler on the 4,040mAh battery.

Of course, members of the jet set are so called because they’re often found touring the world. The company promises that the device will work with more LTE carriers across the world than any other device on the market. Regardless of the network you choose, you’ll insert your SIM into a single, hot-swappable microSIM card slot on the upper-right hand side. Connectivity-wise, the phone also packs gigabit WiFi and MIMO in order to handle multiple connections at once. Then again, BlackBerry made similar promises back in the day, and those never really amounted to much.

Now, it’s not hard to see who this device is aimed for, but you have to ask: Do they need this device anymore? An Android smartphone with high level encryption and security is highly desirable, but the highest levels of protection is only available within the secure mode. And in this secure mode, the only features you can make are calls and texts — and who does either of those anymore? Sure, there are a handful of people who still need to make calls, but is the NSA really targeting them?

When I spoke to co-founder Moshe Hogeg, he said that the NSA isn’t interested in business people, but the question is: are hackers? How likely is it that the precise details of a forthcoming transaction would be outlined on a voice call that criminals could then use to game the stock market? It’s plausible, sure, but enough to drag people away from the comfort of their Galaxy S7s and iPhone 6Ss? That’s harder to say. This phone will surely appeal to people who feel that they deserve a device this secure — this high-end — but then again, nobody wants using their phone to feel like a chore, right?

Aaron Souppouris contributed to this report.

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