mardi 26 septembre 2017

Firefox to Drop Support for Adobe Flash with v56 Update

Many people praised Android for its continued support of Flash when other competitors refused to allow it on their platform. However, recently we’ve seen a shift to the point where even Adobe says they’re ending support for Flash in the next three years. The latest beta of Firefox from Mozilla has been released and it will be the first major release to finally drop support for Flash. The stable version of this update is scheduled to be released before the end of the month.

Android has a whole has slowly been moving away from Flash for years now. Looking all the way back to 2012, Android 4.1 was the first major version to lose official support for the Flash plugin. Since then, it was up to the individual browser to decide if they wanted to support it or not. Chrome has already disabled automatic support for it across all of their platforms and will require the user to enable the permission for individual websites they want to use it on.

Just like Adobe, Google is completely stopping support for Flash in Chrome (including this opt-in method) by the end of 2020. For years, Flash enabled websites to deliver content and features that many didn’t even think were possible on a website. As HTML has evolved though, Flash is becoming less and less of a requirement and it’s simply too much of a security risk. Many will be sad to see it go while others will be happy they don’t have to worry about it anymore.

Firefox is the latest popular web browser to move against or away from Flash and that’s happening with version 56. This update is currently in beta, but it is expected to reach the stable branch sometime this month. It’s also the first update to require version Android 4.1 or higher, so naturally it makes sense that Mozilla would be dropping support for a feature that isn’t officially supported.

Source: AndroidPolice

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Google Extends Security Patches of the Nexus 6P and Nexus 5X by Two Months

We don’t know why, but Google has just extended support for the Nexus 6P and Nexus 5X  by increasing the security patch lifespan by two months, pushing it back from September 2018 to November 2018. Two weeks ago we reported on the Google Security Update bulletin for September 2017, and actually showed the security patch lifespan for each of Google’s devices.

For those somehow unfamiliar with security patches, they are simply Google’s response to security vulnerabilities and other, similar problems. Previously, without a platform update there was no way to update the device to protect against key vulnerabilities. The answer to this was the security update system, a set of CVE and bug fixes, compartmentalized enough that carriers and manufacturers can easily apply them to their devices.

Sadly the actual life span of the devices for major updates hasn’t changed, not that an extra two months would really matter. Due to the nature of platform updates on Android, it is unlikely an extra two months for major updates would actually be a benefit as they come yearly. It’s already highly likely both devices will not receive Android P. This is because their Android version update lifespan came to an end this month, and it’s unlikely that we’ll see anything new within the next two months.

This coming October, the Nexus 9 and Nexus 6 will receive their last security updates before finally being deemed End of Life. This will leave the Nexus 6P and Nexus 5X as the final, sole survivors of the Nexus program. It’s interesting that Google has extended their support for two months so far in advance, and it’s unlikely to have an actual security based reason behind it. It may be that Google are doing a customer service as a final send off for the devices, but nobody can really say why.

Source: Google Support

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China Blocks All Access to WhatsApp

In a move strengthening China’s grasp on internet consumption and social media, mainland China has now fully blocked WhatsApp and all of its services. This is a large blow to the Facebook re-entrance attempt of the Chinese market, as now there is no Facebook-owned product (with the exception of Colorful Balloons, an application mimicking Facebook moments) operating within the country.

Back in July, China initially blocked all media on WhatsApp except for messaging. This meant you could not send images, make calls or use stories within China, though you could send messages. Now that has changed and has led to the complete shutdown of the application within the country’s borders. This is possibly because of the end-to-end encryption which was added to WhatsApp last year. It may also be an attempt to push users towards WeChat (a WhatsApp alternative), which provides user data to the Chinese government. Applications such as WeChat are still increasing in usage, and the blocking of WhatsApp will only push its usage higher. WhatsApp has over 1 billion users, but WeChat has nearly 700 million. It’s gaining ground fast. Facebook products are not the only ones blocked in China, with Google’s suite of products and other social media from other companies blocked too by the Great Firewall of China.

However, Facebook as a company has tried to enter the Chinese market before, but Facebook was banned in 2009 and Instagram never made it over there. This is a major blow to the company, as the country’s 600 million or so smartphone users can be a lucrative market for the tech giant.

It’s interesting to note this is not the only ban this year, with Pinterest and Periscope also being blocked. With over three thousand websites blocked, WhatsApp is just another to add to the list and I’m sure we’ll see more.

Source: The New York Times

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Nokia 8 with Dual-cameras and Snapdragon 835 SoC Launched in India For ₹36,999 ($566)

After a solid re-entry in the Indian smartphone market with the launch of Nokia 6, Nokia 5 and Nokia 3, HMD Global is back again with a new, more powerful Nokia smartphone. Today the company officially announced the Nokia 8, its first Android flagship smartphone, in India. The Nokia 8 was originally announced last month, but it’s only today that the company is bringing its latest flagship device to the Indian market.

As far as specifications are concerned, the Nokia 8 sports a 5.3-inch 1440p LCD polarised display and features a premium unibody design made out of 6000 series aluminum. Powering the device is the Snapdragon 835 SoC coupled with 4GB RAM and 64GB of UFS 2.1 storage. In the camera department, the device features a vertically-aligned dual-camera setup on the back along with a dual-tone flash module and an IR range finder. The dual-camera setup is comprised of two 13MP f/2.0 sensors (RGB + monochrome) with Carl Zeiss optics, while the front camera is a 13MP shooter with f/2.0 aperture and 78.4-degree wide-angle lens.

Nokia 8

To power it all up, the Nokia 8 packs a 3,090 mAh battery and supports fast charging (Quick Charge 3.0) via its USB Type-C port. On the software side of the things, the Nokia 8 comes running a near-stock version of Android 7.1.1 Nougat out of the box, with the company promising Android 8.0 Oreo update before the end of this year —in fact, the update is already under beta testing.

Finally, the device comes with a front mounted fingerprint reader, Bluetooth 5.0, 4G VoLTE support, a microSD card slot, and thankfully, a 3.5mm jack.

Available in four different colors to choose from —Polished Blue, Tempered Blue, Steel, and Polished Copper, the Nokia 8 will officially go on sale on October 14 for a price of  ₹36,999 ($566).

Unlike the Nokia 3 and Nokia 5, which were offline exclusive, the Nokia 8 will be available from both online and offline channels. Amazon India is the exclusive online partner while the offline partners include Croma, Reliance, Sangeetha Mobiles, Poorvika, and BigC among others.

Additionally, Nokia is partnering with Reliance Jio to offer Nokia 8 owners up to 100GB of additional 4G data —users will receive 10GB of additional data on every recharge of RS.309 and above until August 2018. The Nokia 8 will compete directly against the likes of the OnePlus 5 and the LG G6, two most popular options in India in this segment. The entry of Nokia 8 will definitely give both devices a run for their money.

So far, Nokia has done an outstanding job at keeping its word on delivering timely security updates to all Nokia devices. In fact, several times the company has managed to roll out security updates even before Google’s monthly security bulletin drops. On top of that, the company has already confirmed that it would roll out Android Oreo update to its entire Nokia lineup before the end of this year. In a world where timely software updates are still a novelty for a majority smartphone owners, Nokia’s approach to software updates is definitely a breath of fresh air.

Source: Amazon India

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lundi 25 septembre 2017

Levi’s Commuter Trucker Jacket Now Available, Powered by Google’s Jacquard Smart Clothing Platform

The day has finally come, smart clothing has hit the markets. The Levi’s Commuter Trucker Jacket with Jacquard is launching next week, and will set you back $350. This is probably an item you never asked for, and have no intention of buying, but it’s one of the first products in what’ll likely be (slowly) expanding category.

Jacquard is Google’s smart-apparel platform, aimed at providing a smart experience to clothing. Their first partnership with Levi’s has resulted in the Levi’s Commuter Trucker Jacket. The jacket comes with Bluetooth, a battery, a processor and an invisible touchscreen on the left arm made from fibers woven into the denim. The device is mostly located on the left cuff (the snap tag), with an LED and a vibration motor too. It can light up and vibrate for incoming notifications.

The jacket pairs to your device like Android Wear does, using the dedicated Jacquard app. You can initiate actions via the touchscreen on it, either with gestures or taps which can be tied to certain functionality. You can also skip songs and count steps. For now the functionality doesn’t extend much further than that.

You’ll need to charge the jacket every few days, which sounds mostly fine. It’s not like you’ll be wearing it all hours of the day and charging it at night shouldn’t be too much of a hassle. It’s mainly aimed at people commuting currently, with an “on-the-go lifestyle”. You can even wash it! Just remove the snap tag on the left cuff and you’re good to go.

Sure, it may all seem a tad underwhelming, but it doesn’t need to be the best, especially not right now. This simply opens the door for other pieces of clothing running Jacquard, with better features or more uses. This is only the tip of the iceberg, and with Google having intentions to expand the platform, can only get even better (or weirder). Smart clothing really sounds out of the ordinary at the moment, but it just may work in a future where it’s more affordable. Though we imagine it’ll bring an entire new level of… privacy concerns…

Google Blog announcing the Levi’s Commuter Trucker Jacket

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Motorola Uploads a Camera Tuner App for the Moto X4 in the Play Store

Traditionally, OEMs have needed to push out full OTA updates if they wanted to substantially improve the camera experience of their smartphone. We then started to see certain companies uploading individual applications (such as the camera application) to the Play Store so they can be updated much faster. Lately, Motorola has gone a different route and has chosen to upload tuner applications to the Play Store for specific devices they have released.

As mentioned, Motorola has down down all of these routes in the past. The company used to only update their camera’s performance when there was a new OTA update pushed out to devices. This was never an optimal solution for anyone since it cost the company time and resources to certify each OTA update. So this means updates would be rare and they sometimes wouldn’t even reach some of the company’s aging devices since they no longer receive OTA updates.

We then saw Motorola upload their camera to the Play Store and as of right now, they have the Moto Mods Camera, the Moto Camera, the Motorola Camera and then the Moto Camera 2. It’s possible that Motorola wasn’t happy with this method as it led to them uploading multiple cameras and newer updates could have caused conflicts with older devices. So then we started to see the company upload camera tuner applications for specific devices (like the Moto X4) to the Play Store.

So far, they have one of these for the Moto G Play, the Moto G4, and the Moto G5S. These camera tuner applications get pre-installed on the device and are then updated via the Play Store. These allow for Motorola to improve the color, contrast, picture noise, video noise, and sharpness all from this one tuner application. Today, they have uploaded one of these camera tuner applications for the Moto X4 ahead of its official release.

Camera tuner for Moto X (4) (Free, Google Play) →

Via: Android Police

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Chinese-backed Investment Firm Acquires Imagination Technologies for £550m

Imagination Technologies hit mainstream success when Apple chose to use their technology in the iPhone. For years Apple would design their own CPUs while licensing Imagination’s PowerVR GPU technology in the company’s A series chips. This obviously was quite a successful partnership for them, but just like the custom CPUs that Apple uses, they eventually decided to design their own GPUs as well. This year we saw three new iPhones announced that decided to move away from Imagination’s PowerVR GPUs.

We first learned about this split up earlier this year and it resulted in the company’s shares dropping by nearly 70% overnight. When you’re making money hand over fist like that, it can be easy to forget that you have put all of your proverbial eggs in one basket. You can see how devastating it was for the company to hear that Apple would not be licensing the company’s GPU technology anymore. This resulted in Imagination Technologies’ June announcement about how they have put the company up for sale.

This hasn’t stopped them from developing new technology though, as we recently learned about their jump into the neural network market with the PowerVR Series 2NX Neural Network Accelerator. So after many meetings, they have decided to accept an acquisition offer from the Chinese-backed investment firm Canyon Bridge. This deal is for £550m and seems incredibly low for the company who supplied the sole GPU in Apple’s iPhone for years.

The two are satisfied with this acquisition as the boss of Imagination Technologies, Andrew Heath, says it was a good outcome and it would allow the team to remain in the United Kingdom and continue their work. Not only that, but there doesn’t seem to be any plans to cut jobs at the Hertfordshire-based offices once the takeover has been completed. It will be interesting to see what they can do with this team and the technology they produce now that Apple is no longer the biggest customer for their GPUs.

Source: BBC

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