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Winnergear’s Montar Car Mount – update 2

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Montar Car Mount

Montar Car Mount

A few weeks back we received our Car Mount. We were very sceptical because of the bad experiences we had with car mounts in general.

To give you an idea:

  • One car mount which should be mounted on the ventilation exit of the car broke after the second time mounting it, leaving parts in the ventilation system of the car. So every time we needed the ventilation on high, we heard these parts brattling :(The dealer switched the broken item within one day, but this one had the same problem
  • So we switched to glass mounted car mounts, but on that one our smartphone didn’t fit
  • The second one was better, but it was impossible to both charge the phone and use the controls on the side of the phone
  • The last one we tried worked quite fine, but when the sun was shining and the window became warm, the car mount fell of the window

So, you can imagine we were quite sceptical when the package of Winnergear was delivered to our office.
Lees verder

Nooit meer wachten op je nieuwe telefoon

Vanaf vandaag hoef je bij Telfort niet meer lang te wachten op je nieuwe aankoop. Telfort is namelijk als eerste Nederlandse provider met ‘vandaag bij ons besteld, vandaag nog bij u thuis afgeleverd’ gestart. Deze nieuwe service geldt voor alle Telfort producten die voor 12.00 uur worden besteld. Met ingang van vandaag kunnen nieuwe èn bestaande Telfort klanten die een nieuwe contract afsluiten of het telefoonabonnement verlengen via de website gebruikmaken van deze gratis service. Met deze ontwikkeling wil Telfort Nederland het haar klanten nog makkelijker maken door ze nooit meer langer dan een paar uur op hun nieuwe telefoon te laten wachten.

Google Photos Prepares to Allow for Editing the Date and Time of a Photo

Google Photos has always been one of Google’s more useful services. The photo backup service has garnered widespread praise for its unlimited, free backup features as well as its robust sharing capabilities. But one area that Google Photos has always lagged in is the ability to edit your photos. Luckily over time, Google has been introducing more and more features to allow you to customize your pictures to your liking (though the editing features are not as robust as those found in some of its competitors).

Editing your photo to produce a better image is one thing, but what about editing your image to make it easier to organize? Unfortunately, the ability ot Google Photos to modify EXIF data has been rather limited. Even today, the ability to edit something as basic as the date and timestamp of a photo is limited to the desktop version. This can be frustrating if you primarily manage your photos on your phone (which there’s no shame in doing, the Android application is pretty well-designed) and you want to re-arrange certain photos to your liking. But with Google Photos version 2.7 now rolling out, that may soon change. A teardown of the APK reveals that Google may soon allow you to edit the EXIF timestamp of your photos.

Although a teardown can provide valuable information regarding upcoming features, it is entirely possible that these features may not make their way into the final product. Do not take these teardowns as proof that a feature will be added, but rather as a hint of what could be coming.


Google Photos Teardown

Within the latest version of Google Photos, there is an interesting string located within the APK that hints at the ability to edit the timestamp of a photo:

<string name="photos_mediadetails_details_edit_datetime_icon_content_description">Edit icon to allow the user to edit the date/time of the media.</string>

As you can see, there apparently will be an icon within the picture detail screen that will allow you to simply edit the date/time of the media. Previously, you were limited to just editing the location EXIF data. Now it appears that changing the date and time will soon be possible as well. Further evidence for this new feature can also be found with a new layout file called exif_datetime_item.xml that has been added to the APK:

Google Photos Teardown

exif_datetime_item.xml

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<LinearLayout android:orientation="horizontal" android:id="@id/exif_datetime_item_layout" android:padding="@dimen/photos_mediadetails_item_padding" android:layout_width="fill_parent" android:layout_height="wrap_content" android:minHeight="@dimen/photos_mediadetails_item_min_height"
xmlns:android="http://schemas.android.com/apk/res/android">
<ImageView android:layout_gravity="center" android:id="@id/icon" android:padding="@dimen/photos_mediadetails_item_padding" android:layout_width="66.0dip" android:layout_height="36.0dip" />
<LinearLayout android:orientation="vertical" android:padding="@dimen/photos_mediadetails_item_padding" android:layout_width="0.0dip" android:layout_height="wrap_content" android:minHeight="@dimen/photos_mediadetails_item_min_height" android:layout_weight="1.0">
<TextView android:layout_gravity="start|center" android:id="@id/label" android:paddingLeft="2.0dip" android:paddingTop="8.0dip" android:paddingRight="2.0dip" android:layout_width="fill_parent" android:layout_height="wrap_content" style="@style/quantum_text_subhead_black" />
<TextView android:textColor="@color/quantum_black_secondary_text" android:layout_gravity="start|center" android:id="@id/value" android:paddingLeft="2.0dip" android:paddingRight="2.0dip" android:paddingBottom="8.0dip" android:layout_width="fill_parent" android:layout_height="wrap_content" style="@style/quantum_text_subhead_black" />
</LinearLayout>
<ImageView android:layout_gravity="center" android:id="@id/edit_icon" android:padding="@dimen/photos_mediadetails_item_padding" android:visibility="gone" android:layout_width="66.0dip" android:layout_height="36.0dip" android:src="@drawable/quantum_ic_mode_edit_black_18" android:contentDescription="@string/photos_mediadetails_details_edit_datetime_icon_content_description" android:alpha="0.38" />
</LinearLayout>

The name of the layout file and the description of the string are quite clear: editing the EXIF timestamp of a photo may soon be available on the Android version of the application. Furthermore, this layout file seems to directly correspond to the added string, as you can see where it calls to draw the “edit icon”. Desktop users (and even iOS users) have had this ability for quite some time now, so hopefully it finally makes its way to Android as well.

The Future of the Pixel is Bright

According to trend analyses and reports produced by Wave7, a U.S. mobile market analyst, the Google’s Pixel series have been selling consistently well over the three or so months it has been available. Given a selection of reporting around the time of launch that failed to clearly differentiate between Verizon being the exclusive Pixel carrier and Verizon being the only Pixel carrier, as well as displaying some reasonable hesitation about certain aspects of the relationship, there was no consensus among those covering the topic about the likelihood of Pixel succeeding as a product.

However, Verizon has made it clear that they were taking their exclusivity deal seriously and embarked on a multi-million dollar advertising campaign for the Google Pixel devices, as well as offering aggressive discounts and deals just after release that continued throughout the holiday season. Wave7 has found that Pixels have sold extremely well despite limited availability, reporting that Verizon representatives claimed that Pixels accounted for between 12.3% and 9.5% of all devices sold by Verizon in December and January, respectively. Given this fact, the limited availability of Pixel devices, a fact which has remained rather constant since launch, may well be a result of Google responding to greater demand than they had originally anticipated.

Regardless, with multiple financial analysts expecting around $2-4 billion in revenue from Pixel sales in fiscal year 2017, industry confidence in the Pixel is firm, albeit with plenty of room for growth. Gross margin estimates for Q4 2016 sales place Google’s Pixel and Pixel XL at a bit more than half of the iPhone’s industry-leading 41%, with overall profit estimates fluctuating around $400 to 500 million.

IHS Markit, Company Data, Morgan Stanley Research

Morgan Stanley estimates Pixels will bring in around $375 million of profit in Q4 of 2016. (IHS Markit, Company Data, Morgan Stanley Research)

This places the Pixel devices magnitudes below Apple’s iPhone in terms of sales throughput and profitability, but the fact that it is profitable at all is of great importance. Given that Morgan Stanley’s analysts term the Pixel as a program of “Android user monetization”, the Pixel devices likely have a broader financial impact and utility for Google than can be seen simply by estimating device sales — past a certain point.


The Future of the Pixel Brand

Alphabet has been relentless in its willingness to shed internal groups and pursuits that fail to be profitable for too long. Fios, the Titan drone platform of Project Loon, and Alphabet’s self-driving car program have all been either put on hold, cancelled, or spun off into non-Alphabet related entities in the last 12 months alone. With a central goal of profitability clearly for the most part taking precedent over any form of vision or other non-financial goals, any program that fails to show growth and profitability is likely at risk of being excised from Alphabet. Thankfully, Pixel appears to be safe for the foreseeable future, as long as it continues to perform well.

With the stability of the Pixel brand more or less assured for 2017, it is worth briefly considering what the future may hold for Google’s nascent smartphone. XDA’s own Mario Serrafero published an extensive review of the Pixel XL and concluded that “the Pixel XL is a great consumer smartphone, but not the Google flagship I expected. Nevertheless, it sets the foundations for something bigger, and as Google’s ecosystem matures, the Pixel and its Assistant will get wiser with it.” This sentiment aligns closely with the response most technical reviewers have had. The Pixel shows immense promise but has also demonstrated some rough edges and areas that could use improvement, something that we recently explored.

One of the reasons that I maintain a significant amount of hope for the Pixel’s future, in spite of those rough edges, lies in the story of the development for the Pixel and Pixel XL. As discussed over at Ars Technica, there are a couple hints which suggest that the Pixel was pushed through a rushed development schedule of as little as 9 months from conception to production. As the article clearly illustrates, the Pixel features a large number of similarities with HTC’s A9, ranging from the appearance of the device to its motherboard layout — this isn’t odd considering who the actual assembler of the Pixel is. XDA also covered suspicious software-level tidbits that pointed to some HTC influence. Given unofficial reports that Huawei was initially pegged to manufacture the Pixel but backed out over concerns about Google’s insistence on maintaining its own brand on the device as well as David Pierce of Wired stating that employees of Google blamed “running out of time” for the lack of waterproofing, a strong case can be made that the Pixels were rushed to market.

For how strong of a device it is, the Pixel’s brief but mostly successful development is a notable accomplishment for Google (and possibly HTC). Dave Burke, Android’s VP of Engineering, also told interviewers in early November 2016 that he had already been shown photos taken by a device that was to be released in fall of 2017. This suggests that Google’s second foray into (semi) in-house smartphone development will have at least 12 months, and probably closer to 16 months, if a functional prototype existed only a month after the Pixel was released. With a more typical production cycle for the Pixel’s successor, the few rough edges of the Pixel have a good chance of being alleviated. By potentially tripling the amount of time Google engineers will have worked from start to finish to bring an Android device to market, there is plenty of time for Google to mature its hardware development team and more effectively step into the role of being its own smartphone designer.

A Pixel successor that seriously addressed the original’s flaws would be quite the sight to behold, and I am immensely excited to see what Google may yet accomplish before the end of 2017.


What do think about the Pixel and the approach Google has taken for its development? Let us know in the comments below if you have any thoughts or predictions for the future Google’s in-house smartphone development. 

Source: FierceWireless (1)
Source: FierceWireless (2)

Qualcomm Maintains its Dedication to Security with Secure Boot

Along the lines of Android Nougat’s strictly enforced verified boot and Windows’ Secure Boot features, Qualcomm is also pursuing a set of security standards based on cryptographic image authentication to ensure a secure boot chain.

A typical secure boot chain. (Qualcomm, Ryan Nakamoto)

As Qualcomm Engineer Ryan Nakamoto muses, all devices with boot chains are potentially vulnerable to malicious image injection. If an attacker gains access to images earlier in the boot chain, particularly the primary or secondary bootloaders, they gain the ability to control much or all of what follows. In order to better prevent attacks like these, Qualcomm’s implementation of secure boot secures every aspect of the boot chain, beginning with the first ROM bootloader. As a step of the chain finishes, the segment will verify that it is unmodified and then provide a signature that the next segment in the boot chain must cryptographically verify. If the signature produced is different than what the following segment expects, then the boot process will be immediately ended.

While secure boot implementations like dm-verity and Windows Secure Boot are the bane of many a custom ROM developers, the improved security they offer the lay-consumer is paramount.

As Microsoft and Qualcomm recently announced that upcoming devices would be able to run Windows 10 on Snapdragon hardware this year, it is far from surprising that Qualcomm chose to bring up its secure boot implementation in late 2016. Given the spate of Android security scares that arose throughout 2016, security has become a serious concern for many consumers, so Qualcomm’s continued dedicated to secure software is more than welcome.


Source: Qualcomm

Sony Starts Rolling Out Android Nougat Update to Xperia Z5 and Xperia Z5 Premium

After updating their Xperia X devices to Android 7.0 Nougat, Sony has now started rolling out the Nougat update for its Xperia Z5 series as well.

Several users of the Xperia Z5 and Xperia Z5 Premium are now reporting that they have received an official update notification. The OTA is 1288 MBs in size and is labeled with a build number of 32.3.A.0.372 with the December security patches on board.

As expected from prior Sony builds of Android Nougat, all of the usual Nougat related features such as the Multi-Window mode, improved Doze mode, Vulkan API support and more can be found in this update. Furthermore, Sony’s own additions have made it in this update, including the revamped Xperia Home launcher with built-in Google Now support, a messaging update, and a self-timer button for the front-facing camera for a better selfie experience. As of now, the update is only rolling out for the Xperia Z5 and Xperia Z5 Premium, but it’s expected that the Xperia Z5 Compact, Xperia Z3+, and Xperia Z4 Tablet will receive the update in the near future.

If you’re carrying either an Xperia Z5 or Xperia Z5 Premium, keep an eye out for the OTA update. As is always the case with staged software roll-outs, the update might take some time before it reaches your device.


Source: Xperia Blog

Google Enhances Searches for Spotty Data Connections

Making Google searches while on poor data connections can be a frustrating experience. Sometimes you really, really want to find an answer to some question or you are looking up, but because you’re barely out of network range, your search never goes through.

Thankfully, Google is looking to alleviate some of those headaches. In an official blog post, they reveal that they are releasing an update to searching from on your Android device. When you enter a search term while you are offline or about to lose your connection, the results will be queued and returned to your device when you re-establish an Internet connection.

This is a neat feature enabling you to queue up a bunch of searches while offline. Google states that this feature could be useful for farmers or those traveling by car or train where the connection is spotty. Google stresses that this feature will not stress your battery life and that it will only use minimal amounts of data as the results are returned as “streamlined search results”.

Furthermore, these “streamlined results” are designed to still contain all of the information you require. It appears that advertisements will still make it into your results, though that’s to be expected given the nature of Google’s business model. This feature should be available to those users running the latest version of the Google App.


Source: Google

Report: Samsung Completes Note 7 Investigation, Blames Faulty Batteries

The Galaxy Note 7 was one of the most anticipated smartphones when it was first launched, thanks to its symmetrical design and superior camera performance. But a few weeks after the device went on sale, reports started coming in about the device’s explosive performance. This led Samsung to immediately recall and replace Note 7 devices with what they believed to safe batteries, but when the replacement devices started to catch fire it forced the South Korean electronics giant to completely halt sales of the device.

After the Galaxy Note 7 debacle, Samsung has been busy investigating the cause behind the explosions and overheating issues in its flagship device. Reuters reports that Samsung has now finished its investigations of the Note 7 and has reached a conclusion that faulty batteries were mainly responsible. Earlier a tear down by a manufacturing technology company called Instrumental showed that the Note 7’s “aggressive design” was the reason for battery explosions and overheating, but Samsung’s reports are indicating that this wasn’t the case. According to a source who spoke to Reuters, Samsung didn’t find any design or software-related issue which could cause the battery to explode. The source also noted that the company was able to replicate the battery fires during its internal investigation.

The source says Samsung will likely officially announce the investigation reports on January 23rd, which is the day before the company is slated to announce its fourth-quarter earnings. The source also adds that along with the investigation reports the company will also announce new safety measures they have been taking to ensure the safety of their future devices.

Finding the root cause of the Note 7’s fire safety issue is crucial for Samsung as it prepares for its next flagship smartphone, the Galaxy S8. As the launch of the Galaxy S8 nears, Samsung would definitely like to leave behind the bitter memories of the Note 7 fiasco.

Source: Reuters

ZTE Reveals the Specs of their Crowdsourced Hawkeye Smartphone — SD625, 1080p, 3GB RAM

We’ve talked about ZTE’s Project CSX smartphone extensively. The company first announced the idea back in August of last year, and started asking the community what they wanted to see in a smartphone from ZTE. Naturally we wanted the company to release a device with stock Android, but things didn’t turn out that way. Instead, ZTE says the community chose the self adhesive phone with eye-tracking software and then asked the community what it should be called.

The company unveiled the ZTE Hawkeye at CES earlier this year, but they still hadn’t revealed any hardware specifications about the device. They even launched a Kickstarter campaign to sell the phone to the community – without announcing any of this information. That finally changed yesterday, though, as ZTE finally announced what hardware it plans to include inside the innovative ZTE Hawkeye. Which, if everything goes according to schedule and they collect at least $500,00 on Kickstarter, should start to ship in September of this year.

The Hawkeye will apparently be using Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 625 SoC and will have a 5.5″ 1080p display. It is also going to feature a 13MP+12MP rear (dual) camera along with an 8MP front-facing camera for selfies. Internally, ZTE states it will have 3GBs of RAM, 32GBs of internal storage, and a microSD card slot for expanding the storage capacity. All of this will be running on Android 7.0 Nougat and will be powered by a 3,000mAh rated battery.

Other features to note are the fingerprint sensor, Hi-Fi audio, NFC, USB Type-C, and Quick Charge 2.0 technology. ZTE is asking that you pledge at least $200 for this phone, so seeing mid-range specifications like these are to be expected. ZTE is also asking the community to help decide what colors and material finish they should use with the phone. They want you to go to their forum and vote on the two polls they created earlier today.


Source: Kickstarter

Google and LG’s Watch Sport and Watch Style Launching with Android Wear 2.0 on Feb 9

Android Wear 2.0 is the next iteration of upgrades planned for connected smartwatches. While Developer Previews have been around for a while, the last one was rolled out in mid December as Developer Preview 4. So it’s only expected that we start getting impatient for the final release once new information starts rolling in.

While it was widely known that the Android Wear 2.0 update will be rolling out in early 2017, we now have a specific date to set our eyes on. Notable leaker Evan ‘evleaks’ Blass has leaked the date on which we can expect Android Wear 2.0 to launch.

In his blog post on VentureBeat, Evan has also leaked the upcoming new Android Wear smartwatches. Meet the new Watch Sport and Watch Play:

Evan reports that Google has teamed up with LG in a ‘Nexus-style’ partnership to produce the first devices powered by Android Wear 2.0. The watches will be launched along with Android Wear 2.0 on February 9th, and will begin selling in the US from the next day. The watches will also be given prominent placement at LG’s booth at MWC 2017.

Evan notes that the mockups from Android Police closely resemble the shipping products. The Watch Sport will be 14.2 mm thick and will sport a 1.38″ OLED display with 480 x 480 resolution. The Watch Sport is the flagship product, with 768MB RAM, 4GB internal storage and 430 mAh battery.

The smaller Watch Style will be 10.8mm thick and will sport a 1.2″ 360 x 360 OLED display. Evan specifically mentions swappable straps, although something like that should be a standard feature, so we will have to see what that means. There is 512MB RAM, 4GB of internal storage and a 240 mAh battery on this device.

Both the watches will come with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity, and the Sport will throw in 3G and LTE connectivity along with GPS and NFC as well. This will allow the watch to take advantage of Android Wear 2.0’s Android Pay capability. There’s a heart rate sensor on the Sport, too.

One more point of differentiation on the Sport and Style is the water and dust resistance certification. The Watch Sport will bear IP68 certification, while the Watch Play will have it limited to IP67.

On the other hand, both the watches will have iOS compatibility, will include Google Assistant integration and boast of handwriting recognition. There is also a digital crown button to facilitate UI navigation.

The Watch Sport will come in titanium and dark blue colors, while the Watch Style will come in titanium, silver and rose gold colors.

Pricing for the devices is not known yet. Assuming this is a ‘Nexus style’ partnership and not a ‘Pixel style’ partnership, we hope the watches are priced competitively and not at a hefty premium. We will have to wait until the launch announcement to know more.

What are your thoughts on the LG Watch Sport and the LG Watch Style? Let us know in the comments below!

Source: VentureBeat Image Credit: Android Police

Google Shares Details on How They Spot Malicious Apps in the Play Store

Google works very hard at keeping malicious applications out of the Play Store and off of your device. They aren’t perfect at this and there are some instances when a malicious app slips through the cracks and is published in Google’s application store. Thankfully, Google will remove them if an issue is brought to their attention, but they’re still constantly scanning and checking applications and games that have already been published in the Play Store.

One of the methods Google uses to see if an application on your device is safe, is with their Verify Apps feature. This will scan an application you want to install from outside of the Play Store. This scan takes place before and after it’s actually installed on your phone just to make sure it is safe to be on there. This verify function is baked into the Android OS and there are instances when a device is no longer using the feature at all (which in some cases can be security reasons).

Google flags these devices that are no longer using the verify feature and considers them to be Dead or Insecure (DOI). Now, if Google starts to detect that an application is being installed from the Play Store to a high number of DOI devices, then that raises a flag for them. This flags that as a DOI application, and Google uses this metric with many other security measures to see if it needs to be investigated. Google is even taking this a step further and finding out if an application is the cause of the phone becoming DOI.

For instance, if Google notices that a high number of devices are becoming DOI because they installed a certain application or game from the Play Store, then it makes sense that this would need to be looked into. Using these methods, Google has been able to uncover over 25,000 applications that had been infected by the Hummingbad, Ghost Push, and Gooligan malware.

Source: Android Developers Blog