Paul sez, "This past semester, three engineering grad students at the University of Toronto (myself and two others) created an Android app for a course project that allows for wireless and intuitive control of a robotic arm from an Android-powered smartphone. We're pretty proud of the results (the link is to a demo we put together) and have released the code open source."
Android Robotic Manipulator Demo
This is alarming, if true: according to a group of German security researchers at the University of Erlangen, if you put a locked, encrypted Android phone in the freezer for an hour and then quickly reboot it and plug it into a laptop, the memory will retain enough charge to stay decrypted, and can boot up into a custom OS that can recover the keys and boot the phone up with all the files available in the clear. The attack is called FROST: "Forensic Recovery Of Scrambled Telephones," and it requires a phone with an unlocked bootloader to work.
At the end of 2011, Google released version 4.0 of its Android operating system for smartphones. For the first time, Android smartphone owners were supplied with a disk encryption feature that transparently scrambles user partitions, thus protecting sensitive user information against targeted attacks that bypass screen locks. On the downside, scrambled telephones are a a nightmare for IT forensics and law enforcement, because once the power of a scrambled device is cut any chance other than bruteforce is lost to recover data.
We present FROST, a tool set that supports the forensic recovery of scrambled telephones. To this end we perform cold boot attacks against Android smartphones and retrieve disk encryption keys from RAM. We show that cold boot attacks against Android phones are generally possible for the first time, and we perform our attacks practically against Galaxy Nexus devices from Samsung. To break disk encryption, the bootloader must be unlocked before the attack because scrambled user partitions are wiped during unlocking. However, we show that cold boot attacks are more generic and allow to retrieve sensitive information, such as contact lists, visited web sites, and photos, directly from RAM, even though the bootloader is locked.
FROST: Forensic Recovery Of Scrambled Telephones
My friend, the technology journalist Andy Ihnatko, traded in his iPhone 4s for a Samsung Galaxy S III. Here's the first of his "three-part epic" for TechHive in which he explains why he did it.
I find that typing on an Android device is faster and much less annoying than typing on my iPhone. It's not even close.
This example also points out some of the philosophical differences that often allow Android to create a better experience for the user. Why is the iOS keyboard so stripped-down? Why can't the user customize the experience? Because Apple's gun-shy about adding features at the cost of simplicity and clarity. They're not wrong; it's a perfectly valid philosophy, and usually an effective one.
But sometimes, an Apple product's feature lands at the wrong side of the line that divides "simple" from "stripped down." The iPhone keyboard is stripped-down.
If you don't like how Android's stock keyboard behaves, you can dig into Settings and change it. If you still don't like it, you can install a third-party alternative. And if you think it's fine as-is, then you won't be distracted by the options. The customization panel is inside Settings, and the alternatives are over in the Google Play store.
But I'll be honest: the fact that the Samsung Galaxy S III doesn't suddenly go bip-BONG! and stick a purple microphone in my face when I'm mentally focused on what I'm writing is reason enough for me to prefer the Android keyboard.
Seriously, Apple. This is the single iOS quirk that makes me hate my iPhone. Every time it happens, it yanks me out of my task, and as I scowl and dismiss the microphone, I wonder if you folks put a lot of thought into this feature. "Press and hold to activate speech-to-text" needs to be a user-settable option.
Also, I wanted to mention that Andy has a terrifically entertaining podcast called The Ihnatko Alamanac, where he covers comics, technology, and other stuff that he expounds upon in colorful ways.
Why I switched from iPhone to Android
This morning, while hurrying down the concourse at La Guardia Airport, I tried to dictate a text message to my Nexus 4 while wheeling my suitcase behind me. It got the dictation fine, but appended "kdkdkdkdkdkdkdkd" to the message -- this being its interpretation of the sound of my suitcase wheels on the tiles. — Cory
A high-end Chinese electronics company called Oppo has announced a super-deluxe, $500 5-inch Android phone called the Find 5, with some amazing specs:
As the name suggests, the Find 5 has a 5-inch display with a 1080p display, something we saw on the impressive HTC Droid DNA. Inside of the Find 5′s sharply designed chassis, you’ll find Qualcomm’s speedy quad-core Snapdragon S4 Pro processor, 2GB of RAM, 16 gigs of storage and an NFC chip. Yes, the Droid DNA has the same internals. But Oppo one-ups that handset by giving the Find 5 a 13-megapixel rear shooter. There’s a 1.9-megapixel camera up front.
The phone uses Google’s Android 4.1 Jelly Bean operating system and, like Google’s Nexus 4, will run on HSPA+ and GSM networks but not LTE.
Chinese Phone Packs All the Best Specs Into a Sexy Package [Nathan Olivarez-Giles/Wired]
For the last year or two I have been using a free location–sharing app on my iPhone called Glympse. It's purpose is simple: when you are driving somewhere to meet someone, the app generates a URL so they can see where you are on a map and track your progress as you are driving.
Today, Glympse introduced a new version of the application, and it has interesting improvements.
Glympse Groups allows users to share and interact via common activities, such as sporting or industry events, meetings or social gatherings. Glympse reveals group members’ real-time locations on a map for a set amount of time, encouraging local interaction and social discovery.
Glympse allows users to automatically schedule location updates to everyone associated with a specific calendar event, virtually replacing the need for “Running Late” or “On my way” emails, texts or phone calls.
When Glympse first debuted, it made it fast and easy for users to “Share Your Where” with others, for a specified period of time without creating yet another network. Now, the new Glympse turns the tables and makes it just as easy to ask your friends, family, and colleagues, “Where are you?” With the new “Request a Glympse” feature, users simply send a request via text or email and recipients can instantly accept and start broadcasting their location for the given time period.
Get Glympse in the App Store and Google Play
I got an over-the-air update to my Nexus Galaxy last night, and I'm now running version 4.1 of Android, AKA Jelly Bean
. My preliminary impression: holy shit, this is awesome. Fast! Like a time-lapse of my old phone with all the waiting edited out. Haven't tried the voice-search yet, but I will.
The Ouya is an Android-based games console design that's been floated on Kickstarter. It's done spectacularly well, garnering over $2.3MM in the first day (now closing in on $4MM), far in excess of its target of $950,000. So much money has been raised, in fact, that the project's founders are now asking supporters for ideas on what to do with all the extra: "The biggest thing for us right now: we are working on our stretch goals, what we can do if we raise more money. It might take us a few days to figure that out, and we want your help."
Ouya's pitch is pretty awesome: a handsome, blobjecty console that is built on free/open source software, free SDKs to level the playing field to developers, with no publishing, licensing or retail fees. They promise easy-to-root hardware, and warranty support for rooted systems, and openness to hacker-designed peripherals.
Have at it: It's easy to root (and rooting won't void your warranty). Everything opens with standard screws. Hardware hackers can create their own peripherals, and connect via USB or Bluetooth. You want our hardware design? Let us know. We might just give it to you. Surprise us!
* Tegra3 quad-core processor
* 1GB RAM
* 8GB of internal flash storage
* HDMI connection to the TV, with support for up to 1080p HD
* WiFi 802.11 b/g/n
* Bluetooth LE 4.0
* USB 2.0 (one)
* Wireless controller with standard controls (two analog sticks, d-pad, eight action buttons, a system button), a touchpad
OUYA: A New Kind of Video Game Console
Police Tape is an Android app from the American Civil Liberties Union that is designed to allow citizens to covertly record the police. When activated, it hides itself from casual inspection, and it has a mode that causes it to send its recording to an ACLU-operated server, protecting against police seizure and deletion.
Citizens can hold police accountable in the palms of their hands with "Police Tape," a smartphone application from the ACLU of New Jersey that allows people to securely and discreetly record and store interactions with police, as well as provide legal information about citizens' rights when interacting with the police. Thanks to the generosity of app developer OpenWatch, the ACLU-NJ is providing Police Tape to the public free of charge.
The ACLU says that an iPhone version is "coming soon," though it remains to be seen whether something so potentially controversial passes muster with the App Store.
Dieter Bohn on the latest version of Google's Android operating system: "compared to what [iOS and Windows Phone] bring to the table today, I think Jelly Bean is a stronger offering, especially if you're a participant in the Google ecosystem
." [The Verge]
, the world's greatest video player, is now in beta for Android
. It's a bit shaky, but it's also amazing
Konstantinos Dimopoulous offers the 10 adventure games you must play on iOS
. Android gamers have plenty to choose from
too (albeit buried in Google Play's "Puzzle" section), including the just-released director's cut of Broken Sword
. — Rob
PGP creator Phil Zimmerman has launched Silent Circle, an encrypted phone-call app for Android and iOS. The service will likely cost $20/month, for which Zimmerman does not apologize: "This is not Facebook. Our customers are customers. They're not products. They're not part of the inventory" (from CNet).
Silent Circle's planned debut comes amid recent polls suggesting that Internet users remain concerned about online data collection (or at least are willing to tell pollsters so), with Facebook topping health insurers, banks, and even the federal government as today's No. 1 privacy threat. Yet even after a decade of startups that have tried to capitalize on these concerns, consumers spending their own money remain consistently difficult to persuade that paying for privacy is worth it.
Zimmermann hopes to overcome this reluctance by offering a set of services designed from the start to be simple to use: encrypted e-mail, encrypted phone calls, and encrypted instant messaging. (Encrypted SMS text messages are eventually planned too.)
Silent Circle | Worldwide Private Encrypted Communications
(via O'Reilly Radar)
A court filing from an FBI Special Agent reports that the Bureau's forensics teams can't crack the pattern-lock utility on Android devices' screens. This is moderately comforting, given the courts' recent findings that mobile phones can be searched without warrants. David Kravets writes on Wired:
A San Diego federal judge days ago approved the warrant upon a request by FBI Special Agent Jonathan Cupina. The warrant was disclosed Wednesday by security researcher Christopher Soghoian,
In a court filing, Cupina wrote: (.pdf)
Failure to gain access to the cellular telephone’s memory was caused by an electronic ‘pattern lock’ programmed into the cellular telephone. A pattern lock is a modern type of password installed on electronic devices, typically cellular telephones. To unlock the device, a user must move a finger or stylus over the keypad touch screen in a precise pattern so as to trigger the previously coded un-locking mechanism. Entering repeated incorrect patterns will cause a lock-out, requiring a Google e-mail login and password to override. Without the Google e-mail login and password, the cellular telephone’s memory can not be accessed. Obtaining this information from Google, per the issuance of this search warrant, will allow law enforcement to gain access to the contents of the memory of the cellular telephone in question.
Rosenberg, in a telephone interview, suggested the authorities could “dismantle a phone and extract data from the physical components inside if you’re looking to get access.”
However, that runs the risk of damaging the phone’s innards, and preventing any data recovery.
FBI Can’t Crack Android Pattern-Screen Lock
Vlad Savov reviews Sony's Xperia S for The Verge. With a 1280x720 display, 12 megapixel camera and a dual-core CPU, it's the company's first major new design since buying out Sony-Ericsson. How does it do?
The Xperia S isn't a bad phone, it's just not particularly good at any one thing. I find this disappointing because Sony's brand ethos has always been about conquering the heights of technology, not settling for a moderately good device in the middle of the pack.
Dead on arrival, in other words. You can tell Sony is trying hard to catch up, however, because the edition of Android on it is only 14 months old.