Android Put on 2. will lastly arrive in early February

Although the letter did not mention it, Android Wear two. is expected to launch with a couple of new smartwatches. They will not be Google-branded devices like the Pixel, but they’ll serve as the company’s flagship products in the smartwatch space. If Google goes through with its plan, we’ll see each the platform and the wearables in a handful of weeks’ time.

[Image credit: Android Police]

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Cyanogen failed to kill Android, now it is shuttering its services and OS as element of a pivot

It’s been a rocky few months for Cyanogen, the ambitious startup that aimed to build a far better version of Android than Google. It has laid off employees, let go of its CEO and parted ways with one more co-founder — now it is shutting down its services and nightly software builds on December 31.

The news was announced in a brief blog post released late on Friday:

As component of the ongoing consolidation of Cyanogen, all solutions and Cyanogen-supported nightly builds will be discontinued no later than 12/31/16. The open source project and supply code will remain accessible for any person who wants to create CyanogenMod personally.

This update implies owners of a device that runs the Cyanogen OS — such as the OnePlus One particular — must now transition more than to the CyanogenMod ROM, which is not a industrial item and is managed by a community of developers led by former co-founder Steve Klondik.

This essentially marks the end of Cyanogen’s grand ambition. Outspoken former CEO Kirk McMaster as soon as claimed his business was “putting a bullet via Google’s head,” but now it is transitioning to a various method that new CEO Lior Tal believes will be far more desirable to OEMs.

Tal, who was previously Cyanogen COO, described the new Cyanogen Modular OS program as “designed to accomplish the original objective of an open and smarter Android with no the limitations of requiring the full Cyanogen OS stack and individual device bring-ups.”

Essentially, Cyanogen has provided up on killing Google and will instead adapt to reside in Google’s planet.

Its software was constantly a hard sell due to the fact it required handset makers to ditch Android and Google services totally in favor of Cyanogen’s personal options. Then there was the politics. OnePlus was Cyanogen’s biggest partner, but the relationship was strained and it ended on a sour note following just 1 device.

Now that these Cyanogen services are dying, Tal’s strategy is to unbundle what the Cyanogen OS did provide so that it can function in conjunction with typical Android builds and the stock services that Google supplies with it.

“The new partnership program gives smartphone companies higher freedom and opportunity to introduce intelligent, customizable Android smartphones making use of distinct components of the Cyanogen OS via dynamic modules and MODs, with the ROM of their selection, whether or not stock Android or their own variant,” Lior said in a statement in October when he took his new function.

Cyanogen has raised $ 115 million to date from investors which include Andreessen Horowitz and Benchmark, according to Crunchbase. Lior said in late November that the organization is “well funded,” yet it has spent half of the year in cost-cutting mode. It made made layoffs over the summer and not too long ago shuttered its Seattle workplace in order to “consolidate” its workforce into 1 group based out of its base in Palo Alto. The closure of its services is a additional price-saving move that fits with its pivot to make it more accessible and much less of commitment for potential partners. The question now is whether it can supply anything that partners actually want and will spend for.

Hat tip @ow

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Android Spend is now obtainable in Japan

Android Pay continues its international rollout with a launch in Japan nowadays, some six weeks after Apple’s own mobile payment service reached Japanese shores.

Google has partnered with Rakuten to energy Android Spend employing its Rakuten Edy payment technique, which is offered at over 470,000 places in the nation, which includes retailers like Family Mart, Lawson, McDonald’s and Dominos. There’s also help for loyalty applications, which incorporate Rakuten’s Super Points initiative.

Google stated that it plans to work closely with FeliCa Networks, the RFID smart card system began by Sony, to add support for more eMoney services and traditional payment firms including Visa, Mastercard, Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi and more next year.

Android Spend is available to users in the U.S., UK, Ireland, Poland, Singapore, Australia, Hong Kong, Japan and New Zealand. The mobile wallet app can be downloaded to supported devices that run on Android Kitkat 4.4 or newer.


Samsung launches Android 7. beta program for S7 and S7 edge

You are going to have to apply for the privilege to be one of the very first — and rapidly, since it really is very first-come, initial-served — by creating a Samsung account and then downloading the Galaxy Beta Plan or the Samsung Members app. Given that the Korean conglomerate introduced the program for Android Marshmallow final year, you may currently have either app. In case you do get early access to Nougat, you’ll naturally be in a position to preview Samsung’s updated user interface and offer feedback on something you feel wants fixing.

Take note that that if you somehow managed to snag a restricted edition S7 edge Olympic Games or an S7 edge Injustice Edition, you will not be capable to participate in the beta. Further, you are only eligible in the UK if you have an unlocked device. In the US, on the other hand, you’ll have to be a Sprint, T-Mobile or a Verizon subscriber. If you can’t participate in the beta or finish up not obtaining a slot, Sammobile has some screenshots of Nougat on a Galaxy S7 so you can get an idea of what it would look like on your device.

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Elegant Physics (and Some Down and Dirty Linux Tricks) Threaten Android Phones

Even the biggest Luddite knows to download updates for his apps and telephone. That ensures that the application isn’t vulnerable to effortlessly avoided attacks. Research into a various type of vulnerability, even though, has not too long ago shown that manipulating the physical properties of hardware can pose a distinct digital threat—one that can not be patched with application alone. Now, researchers in Amsterdam have demonstrated how this variety of hack can permit them, and potentially anyone, to take manage of Android phones.

The vulnerability identified by researchers at the University of Vrije targets a phone’s dynamic random access memory using an attack called Rowhammer. Although the attack is well-known within the cybersecurity community, this is the initial time anyone’s used it on a mobile device. It’s troubling due to the fact the so-called DRAMMER attack potentially areas all information on an Android telephone at danger.

“The attacks that we are publishing now show that we need to have to believe differently about how we safeguard software program,” says Victor van der Veen, one of the researchers involved in the work. “A point like Rowhammer shows that at any offered time a trap can come up that nobody ever thought of.”

The group disclosed its findings to Google 3 months ago, and the company says it has a patch coming in its next security bulletin that will make the attack much tougher to execute. But you can’t replace the memory chip in Android phones that have already been sold, and even some of the computer software features DRAMMER exploits are so basic to any operating program that they are tough to take away or alter without impacting the user experience.

In other words, this is not effortless to fix in the subsequent generation of phones significantly less current ones.

The Dutch study group had worked on Rowhammer attacks just before, and shown they could target data stored in the cloud, and other pc scientists have worked in this area as effectively. But no one had tried attacking a phone. “When we began doing this individuals openly had questioned whether or not Rowhammer would even be feasible on mobile chips simply because they have a various architecture,” says researcher Cristiano Giuffrida.

The attack involves executing a program that repeatedly accesses the same “row” of transistors on a memory chip in a method named “hammering.” This can sooner or later lead that row to leak electricity into the next row, causing a bit, which only has two attainable positions, to “flip.” Considering that bits encode data, this little change alters that information, however slightly, making a foothold for gaining more and far more manage more than the device. But it must be just the appropriate foothold, and that is why creating on the group’s prior precision Rowhammer study was so critical.

In the new Android attack, the first step was seeing regardless of whether it was even feasible to flip bits on mobile phones. The researchers began by attempting Rowhammer attacks on Android phones they had root access to, and speedily observed flipped bits on test devices like the Nexus five. Some memory chips are a lot more resilient than others, and variables like age and temperature effect how effortless it is to flip bits. In the end, even though, flipped bits showed up in 18 of the 27 handsets they tested. The proof of concept led them to try flipping bits on phones they did not have root access to, and here, also, they succeeded.

As the group envisioned it, the DRAMMER attack would start off with a victim downloading a seemingly innocuous app laced with malware to execute the hack. The researchers decided that their app would not request any particular permissions—to keep away from raising suspicion—and for that reason would have the lowest privilege status achievable for an app. This produced accessing the dynamic random access memory (DRAM) difficult, but the researchers discovered an Android mechanism named the ION memory allocator that gives every app direct access to the DRAM. The ION memory allocator also had the added benefit of permitting the group to recognize contiguous rows on the DRAM, an essential factor for creating targeted bit flips. “This is as dependable and deterministic as it gets,” Giuffrida says.

When the researchers knew they could flip a bit, they had to figure out how to use that to accomplish root access—giving them full control of the handset and the potential to do every little thing from access information to take photos. The technique, which they contact “memory massaging,” makes use of the sources all Android apps are offered to reorganize what’s on the memory in inconspicuous methods that won’t alert the program to tampering. The researchers basically filled up portions of the memory with data, being cautious not to do it in a way that would potentially trigger the app to be “killed” by the resource manager. The goal was to occupy enough memory that the allocator would grow to be predictable and be forced to add to the memory in a position the researchers had chosen.

When they had cornered the allocator such that they could manage where it would location the next thing that came along, they could present some information from the app being aware of that the allocator would place it on a portion of the memory exactly where they could undoubtedly hammer and create bit flips. From the app they would only be in a position to generate information permitted by the lowest permission status, but when lined up perfectly on a vulnerable area, the researchers could flip a essential bit to give the data much more privileged qualities. At that point they could commence manipulating their information to move up the hierarchies of the operating technique and take over the phone. It is a clever moment in the hack, but also a deeply troubling one as almost everything comes with each other to escalate 1 tiny altered bit into widespread control of a device.

When an individual downloads the malicious app, DRAMMER can take more than a phone within minutes–or even seconds—and runs with no any indication. The victim can interact with the sham app, switch to other apps, and even put the telephone in “sleep” mode and the attack continues operating. If you’re feeling nervous, the researchers constructed a second app that you can use to verify regardless of whether your Android phone’s memory chip is susceptible to bit flips (and they guarantee they will not take more than your phone in the process).

This analysis looks at Android rather than iOS simply because Google’s operating program is primarily based on Linux, which the researchers are intimately familiar with. But they say it would, in theory, be feasible to replicate the attack in an iPhone with further research. “What DRAMMER shows is that this attack is concerning for widespread commodity platforms,” Giuffrida says. “The style is extremely general and applies not just on mobile platforms but maybe even in the cloud, even in the browser on desktop computer systems. So the effect of this attack is significantly broader than just mobile phones.”

Nevertheless, an exploit that can target the majority of the world’s Android phones seems mighty broad.

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Android Nougat Proves How Great Google’s OS Currently Is

If you owned an Android telephone in the late aughts, or even the early component of this decade, you were unwittingly component of a grand experiment in smartphone design and style. Google spent all those years attempting to operate out what people wanted in a smartphone. A couple of characteristics, like homescreen widgets and that pull-down notification shade, have been about because day one. But it took two versions before Android had an on-screen keyboard (!) and 3 just before the so-known as omnibox let you search your phone, the net, and far more all from Google’s white search box. Multitasking didn’t truly exist till Ice Cream Sandwich. There were lots of suggestions in in between, most of them bad. The oldest version of Android that looks even remotely like what’s now on your phone is possibly KitKat, which didn’t come out till 2013.

A lot has changed recently, though. Or, rather, not significantly has changed—and that is a very good thing. The most recent version of Android, known as Nougat (shoulda been Nun’s Farts), is the newest upgrade to the software program that is now used on far more than 3-quarters of all smartphones in the world. It is gradually rolling out to Google’s Nexus devices beginning today. (It’ll come to other phones, as well, at some point, but if history is any guide you’re going to have to get a new telephone if you want to see what Nougat’s all about.) Unlike the a lot of Android sweetmeats that came before—from Cupcake to Honeycomb to Jelly Bean—Nougat makes clear that Google now knows exactly what it’s doing.

Just Desserts

Nougat is polished, refined, and mature. It exists in a smartphone market place that is all of those items too, which indicates Google’s no longer grasping at straws trying to make Android operate on a hundred distinct device types and screen sizes. The market place chose large screens and computer software keyboards. Every person knows how to use smartphones, and with a decade of information in its hands Google knows too. Nougat’s not a terribly exciting update, honestly—its most noteworthy features are more about TVs and wearables than smartphones—but it is further proof that Google has locked onto the way forward for smartphone computer software. And it’s absolutely the greatest version of Android ever.

There are only a handful of truly new characteristics in Nougat. The one you’ll most likely use most is the new emoji: Google lastly ditched these blobby yellow characters for actual, you know, folks. Nougat has 72 new emoji, as well, such as avocado, scooter, bacon, selfie, and clown face (which is horrifying and you should please by no means send it to me). Beyond that, the most important new thing is the side-by-side window support, which lets you open two apps on the screen at the exact same time. I originally anticipated to never use numerous windows on a phone-sized screen, but it is fantastic for copying addresses to my calendar or watching a video whilst I burn by means of some e-mail on the train. And as extended as you have a current-ish telephone with a recent-ish processor, it works without having a hitch.


Although we’re on the topic of multitasking, it is worth noting the way Nougat tweaks app-switching. As an alternative of displaying you your most recent apps when you hit the square button on the proper side—including the app you are presently in, which is redundant and dumb and redundant—it shows you the app you were utilizing just before. Or you can skip the menu altogether by just double-tapping the square button and jumping straight to your most recently utilised app.

As always, notifications got some tweaking in the new version of Android. Google appears to know that notifications are a massive benefit more than iOS, and just keeps extending the lead. Now you can take far more action in a notification, archiving or snoozing or replying straight with no ever even opening the app. Receiving notifications you don’t need? Extended-press on 1 and adjust the settings right there. You can group like notifications, re-order them in terms of priority, and much more. If you use Android, you probably devote much more time in notifications than anywhere else—that’s only going to grow.

Sweetening the Deal

None of these attributes will inspire you to fling your iPhone from the leading of the Burj Khalifa while shouting, “Finally, Android has what I need to have!” Nor will the new dark mode, or the ability to edit which settings show up at the prime of the notification shade. Personally, I’m sold on the whole thing just because I can pin Google Keep and Inbox to the leading of the sharing menu, but you’re almost certainly not as excited about that as I am. That’s OK! The Android team does not require to have more wild new tips about everything. In truth it is much better not to. Our phones are also crucial to fiddle with for fiddling’s sake.


Right now, iOS is producing huge changes—but practically all those alterations are Apple catching up to the openness and interconnectedness that has created Android so effective. Meanwhile, Android’s in the spit-shining phase: it is mature and finished, but it could constantly be a tiny cleaner and prettier. The new settings that assist you save far more data, or a lot more battery, or more time, are all deeply un-sexy. Each and every makes Android much better, in the small approaches Android can nevertheless get far better.

None of this is to say there’s nothing left to do, of course. I still feel Android has a toolbar-overload dilemma, and it keeps adding fiddly bits without producing it simpler for average customers to find them. And provided that a enormous part of Nougat is its VR mode, meant to help Google’s Daydream VR platform coming later this year, there are nonetheless opportunities for Google to be weird and ambitious. But for you, dear Android telephone owner, Nougat provides only the modest and subtle progress of an currently exceptional smartphone OS. When it comes to my smartphone, where I operate and play and sext and watch The Americans, I’ll take that more than reckless reinvention any day.

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