Bad Android security makes it easy to break into and steal millions of "smart" cars

Securelist's report on the security vulnerabilities in Android-based "connected cars" describes how custom Android apps could be used to find out where the car is, follow it around, unlock its doors, start its engine, and drive it away. Read the rest

Meitu's anime makeover app is a permission-grabbing privacy disaster

Meitu is one of Google Play's "Sand Hill" apps, part of the company's accelerator for apps with "viral potential" -- take a pic of yourself and Meitu will make you over to look like an anime character, and all they ask in return is every salient fact about you that can be gleaned from your mobile device. Read the rest

Company announces phone based on crowdsourced feature requests: eye-tracking and a sticky case

Last August, ZTE used Kickstarter to poll internet users for their wish-lists for an Android handset, and now they're taking pre-orders for Hawkeye, a $200 phone whose interface is controlled by gaze-tracking using the front-facing camera, and whose case will allow users to stick the phone to various surfaces for easy use. Read the rest

Here's a TV set turned into a useless brick by Android malware

Darren Cauthon, annoyed at LG's refusal to fix a family member's broken TV, went public with the problem.

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Barnes & Noble's releasing a $50 Android tablet that does all the things Amazon won't let Kindles do

Chris Meadows writes, "Barnes & Noble is coming out with a $50 Nook Android tablet, with hardware specs similar to Amazon's $50 Fire. The kicker is, this new Nook tablet will run plain-vanilla Android 6.0 Marshmallow and include the full suite of Google Play apps--unlike the Fire, which only permits installation of those apps Amazon deems suitable. Will this be enough to rescue the ailing Nook brand?" Read the rest

Your user data is secretly sent to China through a backdoor on some U.S. Android phones

Included for free with some Android phones: “a backdoor that sends all your text messages to China every 72 hours.”

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Every Android device potentially vulnerable to "most serious" Linux escalation attack, ever

The Dirty Cow vulnerability dates back to code included in the Linux kernel in 2007, and it can be trivially weaponized into an easy-to-run exploit that allows user-space programs to execute as root, meaning that attackers can take over the entire device by getting their targets to run apps without administrator privileges. Read the rest

Xiaomi phones are pre-backdoored; your apps can be silently overwritten

Thijs Broenink audited the AnalyticsCore.apk app that ships pre-installed on all Xiaomi phones (Xiaomi has their own Android fork with a different set of preinstalled apps) and discovered that the app, which seemingly serves no useful purpose, allows the manufacturer to silently install other code on your phone, with unlimited privileges and access. Read the rest

Hotel's Android-based lightswitches are predictably, horribly insecure

Matthew Garrett checked into a London hotel and discovered that the proprietors had decided that "light switches are unfashionable and replaced them with a series of Android tablets." Read the rest

Ultra thin BLU Vivo Air unlocked Android phone on sale for $100

The BLU Vivo Air, a GSM 4G phone, has just 16GB of internal storage (with no microSD expansion), but at $100, this unlocked 0.2-inch thick phone with a 4.8-inch display is a great deal. A newer LTE version is available for $144. Read the rest

When will we get sex robots?

Today we travel to the year 2086, a world where sex robots are on the market. What happens when we can buy a humanoid robot as a partner? Who wins and who loses? And where do you store the darn thing? [A note: if you listen to our show with or near young kids be aware that today’s episodes discusses the future of sex, and goes into some detail about sex toys, sex work and other sexy time things. If your kiddos are ready for a calm, reasonable discussion of sex and the sex industry, carry on! If you’re not there yet, that’s cool, but maybe skip this one.]

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In this episode we discuss everything from the warranties that a sex robot might have, to the ethical implications of owning a human form. We also discuss just how far away we are from having sex robots in the first place, something I explored a little more fully over at BBC today. What do you think? Would you use a sex robot?

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DIY smart bathroom mirror

Smart bathroom mirrors with Internet connections and integrated displays have been fodder for futurists (including me) since the early 1990s at least. Google engineer Max Braun decided to build his own from a two-way mirror, display panel, and Amazon Fire TV Stick running an Android application package for the UI. He posted about the project on Medium:

To the right of where my face would be we have the time and date. To the left is the current weather and a 24-hour forecast. Below are some recent news headlines...

Other concepts I’m playing with are traffic, reminders, and essentially anything that has a Google Now card. The idea is that you don’t need to interact with this UI. Instead, it updates automatically and there’s an open-ended voice search interface for anything else.

"My Bathroom Mirror Is Smarter Than Yours" (Medium)

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The new Nexus phones: beautiful, secure, and a shot across the bow

Dan Gillmor has been playing with Google's new Nexus phones, the humungous 6P phablet and the smaller 5X, and he's written a shrewd and thorough review of what these phones do -- and more importantly, what they mean. Read the rest

New $50 Kindle Fire won't recognize sideloaded ebooks on SD cards

The Kindle Fire comes with a SDXC card slot that outclasses every other tablet in its price range, accommodating storage cards that can hold as much as 128GB of media -- but it won't read ebooks from the slot. Read the rest

Newly disclosed Android bugs affect all devices

The newly released bugs are part of the Stagefright family of vulnerabilities, disclosed by Zimperium Zlabs. Read the rest

Your Android unlock pattern sucks as much as your password did

In Tell Me Who You Are, and I Will Tell You Your Lock Pattern, Marte Løge presented some of her Master's Thesis research on the guessability of Android lock-patterns -- and guess what? Read the rest

WATCH: Why Japan already embraces our android future

VPRO backlight looks at the current state of androids in Japan, including an interesting segment on geminoids, or robot twins made in the likeness of a human counterpart: Read the rest

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