Android Phones, Info and Apps

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Google wants to make Android safer for its users, for this it has removed more malware-infected applications from its Android Market. This action was done in response to the report of Xuxian Jiang, an assistant professor in computer science at North Caroline State University.

Jiang had published a malicious code, dubbed “Plankton” recently in a blog post. “Plankton” has the capacity to remotely access a command-and-control (C&C) server for instructions, and upload additional payloads. Once a person installs the fake app, Plankton has the capacity to call in other files from the hacker-controlled server and this would exploit one or more un-patched Android bugs.

A total of 10 apps have been pulled by Google. Many of these apps were not affected by the malware but were helping in the delivery of Plankton. “Angry Birds” was the game being used by the malware.

On June 5th, Google Apps were infected with “DroidKungFu” which works on the same bases as “DroidDream” which was the first malware to hit the Android Market. It is connected to an unauthorized Chinese App stores, two days later “YZHCMS”, a Trojan horse was reported, it was sending hidden text messages.

We see that malicious apps are causing a lot of problem to Google Android since the last few months. In March Google had to pull down more than 50 programs which were able to compromise phones and remotely issue commands.

Around two weeks ago Google was forced to suspend nearly three dozen malicious apps from the market. “Droid Dream Light” was the cause for it and was connected to the March Campaign.

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Android has taken the world by storm but not the US. The US market is quite lukewarm towards Android Smartphones and the response of the market towards Android tablets is even poorer. It’s the iPhone which is predominant in the USA. Popular manufactures like Motorola and Samsung have not sold many Android tablets in the US, on the other hand Apple has sold over 25 million iPads (most of them in the US). Although we see that the response of the rest of the world is very good toward Android tablets. The Samsung Galaxy Tab has actually had amazing sales and has become a craze.

The recent announcements of Dell are going to make it even more difficult for Android in the US. According to a recent interview of John Thode the vice president of Dell with CNET, the American market is not yet ready for Android, this system has been quotes as ‘ahead of its time’ for the US. For many reasons Dell has decided to launch its’ first 10-inch Android tablet, the Streak 10 Pro, in China. This summer launch is expected to be real big, but the US consumers will have to wait for this product till the end of the year. This is another disappointment of Android in the USA.

Dell has decide to see the response of the market in China for its forth coming product, as the Chinese market will very soon be the worlds largest tablet market. Here people are savvier to new technology.

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Malicious apps and Android seem to have a strong bonding. Every few weeks such apps keep coming up in the market; this keeps Google busy; removing the malware all the time. Google at times uses the “kill switch” to disable all the already downloaded apps from all the Android devices around the world.

At the Next@Norton event last week, Eric Chien, Technical director for Security Response, Symantec researchers; showed some simple steps by which any trouble maker could build a Trojan. This was demonstrated by creating a quick new sample, as follows.

Start with a simple free download of any app, preferably one which is popular.
The language complier takes textual source code and converts it into assembly language for the CPU to read and process, this is a one-way translation, with no way to go from the final executable file back to source code. Android apps are written in Java, you can easily decompile the target apps using simple tools.
The tricky step is where you have to obtain a nasty Java source code, like Android.Geinimi.
After adding the source code, copy it into the folder containing the existing course code. Make a small change to run the Trojan code before the whole app. Give it permission to have free access to the whole device. Then Chien tweaked the demo app’s name “FREE”.
The app is ready, once you compile it and upload to the market.

The good thing is that, malicious apps don’t last for long in the Android market. These apps can easily be spread in China as it has no official Android market.

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For the past few months, it has been observed that voice calls over the android phones have been the subject of interception and to avoid that Cellcrypt has released an android based application to encrypt voice calls over android phone. According to the company, they decided to build the application after they saw an increase in number of users for Android phones. Cellcrypt already has the voice encryption applications for E-series and N-series of Nokia phones.

Even though it was acclaimed that GSM calls are already encrypted, software tools to break A5/1 stream cipher are easily available in the market and software experts have claimed that they can intrude into the GSM calls within 30 minutes of time which is a dangerous sign for voice calls. Meanwhile, it is also an issue that once the call has been intecepted, it becomes hard to trace the intruder.

Looking at all these aspects, Cellcrypt decided to develop an application and finally did it for android as well. This application is a singular software application which can be downloaded from android market. In order to make an encrypted call, it is necessary for dialer as well as receiver to have this application installed in their respective phones. However, different OS is no issue in this case and they can have Android and Symbian on their phones.

This voice encryption app is a VOIP app which can work on Wi-Fi or operator’s data channel on GPRS, 3G, Satellite or Edge networks to transceiver voice. Application works on public key based cryptography and each device using application generate its own private encryption key.

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Apple iCloud
During the presentation from Steve Jobs a few days ago, many eyes caught the attention of Apple’s upcoming iCloud service. However, there were more eyebrows up when Apple unveiled new features of iOS5 which will be released to customers later this year with Apple iPads and new versions of iPhone. It seemed that many of these features were the adaption of few extravagant features from other OS’s that distinguished those OS’s from other ones. Let us look at some these features and you might be convinced of what we are talking about here:

Notifications: A new notification feature allows users to get the notification about mails, calendar events or new text messages even at the time when phone is locked. This is purely borrowed from Android. Another borrowed feature is that unobtrusively, an alert comes up at the top of your phones screen as a bar when you’re working with some other application. Just like window-shade, you can pull down that bar just like you would do so with an android phone.

Reminders: It’s not just a simple reminder feature. It’s about assigning the list of things as a reminder to GPS location in your phone. This means, phone will give you a reminder to buy cosmetics when you are passing from particular location.
Messaging: It is about extending the iPhone messaging to other iOS devices with some enhancements like adding a picture or a video by tapping the camera icon and selecting content to attach to message.
Contacts: Now, contacts can integrate with data from many different sources just as it’s possible in Android phones.

The list of the features given above is just a preview. There are many other features borrowed by iOS from many other OS as well.

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Recently, CEO of Motorola, Mr. Sanjay Jha accused android apps for having performance issues which actually caused the return of Motorola’s android phones. He claimed that even though Google removes the malware apps from the market, they do not check the applications for performance which causes the battery drain for most of the Android mobiles.

Basically, no Android app comes with the requirement of certain processor speed and ram memory. In addition, mobile phone companies add lower speed processor and memory to reduce the cost of the handset. Now, if an application is not able to run with lower ram memory or processor, it eats up mobile battery and thus causing quick battery drain from the android mobile phone. It’s not just that. Such poor performing android apps can also cause functional issues in the phone such as to drag the phone’s speed down, this has been observed by many android handset users.

Few days ago, it was noted on one of the TV shows that an android app does not come with notification that it requires certain speed of processor and ram. So, diagnosing and fixing performance issues for android phones becomes geekier than a normal customer may want to handle. iPhone apps generally comes with predicted performance because of the few iPhone models as well as better processor and ram speed in a phone.

However, for those users who want to go with Android phones, it will be good to check the least required hardware specifications for an android app before using it in their phones.

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With the launch of android platform, android apps have hit the market at thick and fast rate. The best thing about these applications was that they were free to download for everybody with its open source platform. The applications came in almost all the forms and all kind of android devices which made the things more special for android phone users.

The apps came in large numbers and believe me almost everything was possible with this application. Yes, everything was possible. However, there were few chosen applications that rocked the market and became as a necessity for an android user.

ATM Hunter – As its name suggests, this application is able to locate any ATM across the world by availing its location information through GPS. The application has been released by MasterCard. The best part of the application is that it’s also able to tell whether a transaction on a particular ATM will charge you some bucks.

Hound – This is the best application for the music freaks out there in the market and as a music lover, my one of the most favorite application. As a used, you just need to speak out a name of a song or an artist or a band and it will display smallest of details about the song with its pictures and lyrics. The killer feature is that it is able to provide tour dates of that band if any.

Words with Friends – Its more of a scrabble game or you can say it’s a clone of a scrabble game. Then, what is special about this game? The killer feature for this application is that a user is able to play this application with a buddy who either has an android based phone or an iPhone.

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Did you ever think that there can be an application with malware in open Android market? Google just removed some of the malware affected open application from the android market last weekends. The applications were checked and it was found that they had some malicious data which could have compromised significant personal data.
This was not the first incident of Google deleting malware application. In early March this year, Google deleted certain applications which were affected by malware known as Droiddream. In addition, Google also sent a security update to all its clients to remove malware affected programs. It has also been heard that a recent malware was also developed by the users of Droiddream.

Actually, the problem was reported by one of the android applications developer that his modified version of existing applications was distributed on Google even before released. This incidence brought malware to notice of Google and Google took an action after investigating the issue.
Google has also warned Android users to download applications only from the trusted sources and has also asked users to check permission request prompted by such applications. Users have also been asked to check whether the application matches the feature it actually claims. Google has also asked users to check the unusual activities from phone such as sending useless messages and uninitiated network activities. It has also requested its users to download mobile security application from the market to keep phone safe from all such events. So, if you are a regular android market visitor and looking to download application, please take care of such malware applications and also download android security application.

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It seems like every other day, the smart phone market comes up with yet another Android phone or a tablet from the houses of the giant phone or tablet makers like Samsung, HTC or Toshiba. If you look at four major mobile careers in the US and you will come to know that either they have come up with more than eight new android smart phones and there are at least twelve more phones in queue either to be announced or to be launched in coming summer.

It’s definitely good news but with so many announcements, one can really get confused about which one is right for him/her. So, I thought to take a look at what’s coming in the market this astonishing android summer.

Lately, the most active mobile carrier is T-Mobile, announcing three android phones with their launch in second half of June. The first one is HTC Sensation 4G coming to market on 15th June which is quickly followed by two more phones from Samsung, Samsung Gravity Smart and Samsung Exhibit 4G.

If we talk about AT&T, they are launching their next android phone – The Crossover within the next couple of days on 5th of June. This phone is expected to fly off the shelves with its lower cost of $69.99 on a two years’ contract.

Let us come to Sprint which have announced the launch of three phones in the near future. The models of this line up are HTC Evo 3D, Motorola Titanium and Motorola XPRT. A Motorola XPRT is expected in a couple of days on 5th June just when AT&T is launching their Crossover.

However, at the same time, Verizon is concentrating more on a tablet Galaxy tab 10.1 which is on horizon. Its launch is on horizon and its preorders are starting from 8th June.

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