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Google no longer requires full-disk encryption on Lollipop by default

Posted by wicked March - 3 - 2015 - Tuesday Comments Off

We were certain that Google would be adding encryption as default to the then upcoming Android L (now Android 5.0). A few months later, we discovered through a benchmark test by tech website AnandTech that Android 5.0 encryption was bringing storage performance issues to most smartphones already running Lollipop. Google seemed to be serious about requiring full-disk encryption on new phones but right now, the Internet giant is quietly backing away from its decision.

The full-disk encryption means that newer smartphones running Android 5.0 Lollipop would require it instead of the optional disk encryption on older Android versions. That didn’t quite sit well with some Android users because even if the intention was good–protecting people from possible profile leaks–others think that such would help criminals in protecting their activities. Phone will be secure alright but this could mean those criminals are also protected and are free to do what they want to do.

No formal and big announcement from Google about this development of backing away from full encryption but new phones are believed not to be encrypted by default now. New devices running Android 5.0 Lollipop are expected to be fully encrypted out of the box but there have been some changes. The Nexus 6 and Nexus 9 from Google were two of those units that were encrypted by default. That was expected but those that were upgraded later didn’t allow encryption by default.

Fast forward to three months later, Google has changed its decision. Why, the newest Android Lollipop phones are no longer encrypted by default. One major example is the highly anticipated Galaxy S6 recently launched at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.True enough, Google did some revision on the policy as per Motorola and Google. Noted in the latest Android Compatibility Definition document (PDF) version are the subtle changes in requirements:

 

9.9 Full-Disk Encryption

If the device implementation has a lock screen, the device MUST support full-disk encryption of the application private data (/data patition) as well as the SD card partition if it is a permanent, non-removable part of the device. For devices supporting full-disk encryption, the full-disk encryption SHOULD be enabled all the time after the user has completed the out-of-box experience. While this requirement is stated as SHOULD for this version of the Android platform, it is very strongly RECOMMENDED as we expect this to change to MUST in the future versions of Android.

 

Google still requires devices to support encryption but it’s up to the phone manufacturers to enable it–just like before. In Lollipop, it’s back to being optional. Perhaps future Android versions will finally have full-disk encryption. We’ll see again.

VIA: Ars Technica

Android Lollipop catches up in latest distribution chart

Posted by wicked March - 3 - 2015 - Tuesday Comments Off

We complained before how long it took for Android 5.0 to make it to Google’s Android Distribution chart. But ever since it landed last month, it seems to be making strides. As of March 2, 2015, just at the beginning of MWC 2015, Android 5.0 Lollipop has climbed up to 3.3 percent of the pie. While still an extremely small number, it’s already twice than it’s number last month. If this is the start of a trend, Lollipop may very well quickly rise up to take a larger portion in the months to come.

In comparison, it took Android 4.4 Kitkat a bit more time to double its month by month percentage. Perhaps there is far more excitement over the huge changes that Lollipop is bringing to Android. Google seems to also be more aggressive in pushing out the latest version as the one OEMs should aim for. And lastly, users have become more aware of Android updates and are holding their OEMs and carriers more accountable for updates.

And this figure could very well jump high again in the next month or so. By the end of February, a lot more devices have started receiving Android 5.0 updates around the world and will continue to do so. MWC 2015 has also seen the announcements of new Lollipop devices, ranging from high end devices to budget selections, some of which will launch in April. Needless to say, it looks like full steam ahead for Android 5.0.

android-distribution-march-2015

Is it, however, enough to banish the dreaded ghost of Android defragmentation? Sadly, the trend doesn’t look encouraging. Aside from Lollipop, everything else is moving slowly. KitKat only went up by 1.2 percent after nearly months of rock solid climbing. All the rest are going down but only ever so slightly. The combined might of the three Jelly Beans still hold 42.6 percent of the total and, as a group, only went down by 1.9 percent. That said, it is close to giving up the crown to KitKat, which singlehandedly owns 40.9 percent of the market. Curiously, Android 2.2 Froyo refuses to budge and remains at 0.4 percent as it has since January.

SOURCE: Google

New Google Play Games API puts game on TV, smartphone as controller

Posted by wicked March - 3 - 2015 - Tuesday Comments Off

At the Game Developers Conference 2015 – which is incidentally happening in San Francisco, California even as all eyes are on Barcelona for the MWC 2015 – Google announced a new API within the Google Play Games services called “Nearby Connections” that has a few interesting features and could impact the way users play games on their Android devices in the near future.

Android gaming has always been mobile based, and Android users have gotten used to that. But innovations in interfaces and the way Android devices connect with each other could change that soon. With the “Nearby Connections” API, users will be able to use their handheld Android devices as game controllers as they cast their game screen to a central Android TV hub – meaning that the games will be displayed on the big screen TV.

As of now, only one game has been designed with the API, but with the excitement around the API. We expect more developers to incorporate this API in their games sooner than later. If you check out the video below, you will see that even multiplayer gaming is possible with this API.

We can feel that Google is pushing for Android TV to become a central hub in your living space, as they are allowing more features between the connections you make between your Android devices. Watch out for this feature soon in more games, and expect game app developers to innovate the gameplay of their games for this.

SOURCE: Android

Google confirms Android Pay framework, MVNO network

Posted by wicked March - 3 - 2015 - Tuesday Comments Off

Google announcements at major tech events are always worth noting, and at this year’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, they made some major announcements that may not have been the “sexiest” but will definitely have a major impact on not just users but OEMs and their future partners as well. Google’s Sundar Pichai confirmed several things, including the setting up of an Android Pay framework as well as the possibility of their own MVNO network.

While Google Wallet has been in existence since around 2011, Pichai is quick to differentiate Android Pay and says that the latter is a framework for payments while the former is a payment app per se. Android Pay is what developers will need to build service on its framework. NFC will probably be the initial way that payments will be made through it, but it will not just be the only way eventually, since “users love choice,” he stressed. They will also be using the “tokenized” system of security that uses one-time credentials instead of storing card details. Details of Android Pay have not been discussed yet though, although the confirmation that it exists and will come soon will be fodder for developers in the next few months.

Meanwhile, the rumors that Google will be coming up with their own Mobile Virtual Network Operator to rival that of existing carriers, is apparently true, but only to a certain extent. Pichai said, yes, it is true, but rather than compete with the likes of Verizon or AT&T, it is more of a Nexus type of move. He stressed that Android’s business core is to work with an ecosystem and with partners, and that is what they’ll be doing here as well. They will be using the network to test out some technologies they want to experiment with and then convince carriers to join them in the endeavor, which is kind of what they do with Nexus and OEMs.

The Android Pay announcement will definitely intrigue developers and even OEMs on how they can integrate this with their respective products. Because we don’t have a lot of details on Google’s plans for their MVNO, it’s still too early to judge if carriers will actually be interested in going on board with them. We’ll probably know more in the next few months, particularly in the upcoming Google I/O.

VIA: SlashGear (1), (2)

Google’s got a slam dunk with their latest Android commercial

Posted by wicked March - 3 - 2015 - Tuesday Comments Off

Did you need a 15 second distraction to get you pumped up about Android today? Good, that is exactly what Google’s latest Android commercial is for, jam packed with cameras, it is a slam dunk, of sorts.

There is very little to say about the commercial itself, more Androidify characters grace the screen, sports are involved, and everyone is taking a photo with their Android device. It is fun.

Highlighting the wide range of camera sizes, styles and capabilities available across Android devices is subtly masked behind the action here. Camera technology has come a long way on Android, ranging from the single digit MP sensors often used for front facing, or ‘selfie’ cameras all the way up to the 20.7MP Sony sensor found on many last generation higher-end device and beyond.

Lenovo Vibe Shot Hands On-1

Although we did not see or hear a whole bunch about the cameras and capabilities on the recently announced HTC One M9 or the Samsung Galaxy S6 flagship devices, Lenovo came to MWC with a treat. The Lenovo Vibe Shot is a well equipped mid-range device with a focus on photography. Packing a 16MP OIS camera and dedicated camera buttons, we see a great example of Google’s point, we can all use Android, but we don’t have to use the same equipment.

Surprised we could get so much out of this 15 second spot? Us too. Here, check out some of the older Android commercials and Androidify goodness before you go.

Google Logo Angle

Google has announced a few great things at Mobile World Congress this year. Ranging from their plans to put unmanned drones above our heads all the way down to a simple update to Google Play Service. Ah, but this is no ordinary update, Google Play Service 7.0 introduces its own set of good things, including the ability to use your Android phone as a video game controller for your Android TV set-top box.

As is usually the case with updates to Google Play Services, it may be a little while before we see these new features go live on our devices. The update does not automatically make these features available, instead, it opens up APIs for developers to work with in order to create apps for these features.

google sundar pichai mwc logo 6

The short list of new items in Google Play Service 7.0 includes an improved Location settings dialog, to better inform the user when and how location services need to be used for an app. A new Places API, that allows developers to pull from Google’s database of places and business, not just GPS coordinates or addresses.

Google Fit sees a big bump, opening half a dozen new APIs, allowing devs to tap into sensors, recording, history and more. Google Mobile Ads have also been updated for optimizations on battery usage and better Analytics tracking. App Indexing sees an updated API, allowing apps to be better searched by Google on your device. And more.

The big one here, which I’ve made you wait to read about, Google Play Games now has a Nearby Connections API. This API serves one amazing purpose, to allow your Android phone or tablet to operate as a video game controller to your Android TV hooked to the big screen. More than just a simple A, B, Up, Down etc. controller, your phone or tablet can operate as a second screen to your TV, adding additional controls, or just cleaning the main display of clutter.

I imagine myself playing a first-person shooter, in which I must look down to the device in my hands to reload my gun. A touch of reality that may or may not appeal to all users.

Head over to the Google Developer blog for all the details on the Google Play Service 7.0 update.

What do you say, are you excited for any of the new features made possible with Google Play Service 7.0?

Google_Play_Services_Splash_BannerGoogle has officially updated Play Services to version 7.0 bringing several new features and enhancements for developers to take advantage of. They had previously mentioned some additions to AdMob and Google Play Games, but now the entire service has been updated.

The new Places API seems like the biggest new addition to Play Services, as it will allow apps to get information from Google’s database of locations, venues, and restaurants, and users can quickly get info about the business in particular including addresses and phone numbers. 

Google Fit has introduced a handful of new APIs for tracking new measurements and sensors, and it’s supposedly significantly lighter on memory requirements for Fit apps. AdMobs is seeing some Google Analytics integrations, and Google Play Games has adopted a new feature that will let games use a nearby device as a second screen for content. This is especially useful for using your Android device as a controller on Android TV.

Although the developer SDK hasn’t gone live yet, this update should be hitting your devices in the near future. For Google’s full blog post about it, hit the link below.

source: Android Developers

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Google posts new Selfie Slam Android commercial

Posted by wicked March - 3 - 2015 - Tuesday Comments Off

android selfie slamGoogle has released their latest Android commercial, titled Selfie Slam. If you’ve ever wanted to see an extremely tall Android dunk a basketball over a team of other Androids while everyone (including the guy with the ball) takes a selfie, this is the commercial you’ve been waiting for.

The video cashes in on the selfie craze and uses the tagline “Be together, not the same.” I guess the point behind the video is to show how varied and versatile Android devices are, and even though they’re made by many manufacturers with all kinds of different hardware and software, everyone can take selfies in the middle of basketball games together.

Click here to view the embedded video.

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[Deal] Nexus 9 tablet available through Office Depot at discount

Posted by wicked March - 3 - 2015 - Tuesday Comments Off

Nexus_9_LTE

If you have been eyeing the Google Nexus 9 tablet, Office Depot may have a deal that makes it a little easier for you to grab one of the devices. The office supplies retailer has several variants of the Google tablet listed at discounted prices. The best deal is for the white 16GB version which is currently listed for only $320, which is $80 or 20% off the normal $400 price tag.

If you want the black version with 16GB of memory, you can grab one for $350. Meanwhile, the 32Gb versions in black or white are available for $430 which is a $50 savings off the normal $480 price tag.

All of the variants are currently listed as being in stock and with free shipping, should be delivered within three to five days. Hit the source link if you want to grab one of these tablets at a special price.

source: Office Depot

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Googles takes step back from default encryption on new Android Lollipop devices

Posted by wicked March - 3 - 2015 - Tuesday Comments Off

Samsung-Galaxy-S5-Note-4-Android-5.0-Lollipop-b

Last fall in the lead up to the release of Android Lollipop, Google let it out that they were planning to enable encryption of storage by default on new devices. This was going to be a change from previous versions of the Android operating system which had the capability of encrypting storage space, but left it up to the user to enable the encryption. As several new devices are starting to finally come to market loaded with Android Lollipop out of the box, Google has apparently decided not to make encryption the default, at least not for their partners manufacturing mobile devices.

When Google first announced plans to make encryption the default, they said it would only apply to new devices. Older devices that were upgraded to Lollipop would not be forced to enable encryption by default as part of the upgrade process. This was apparently done in consideration of potential hardware limitations for devices not designed with encryption in mind.

During the last few months of 2014 and in to 2015, this position appeared to hold. Only the Nexus 6 and Nexus 9 were released to market and they did indeed have encryption turned on by default. Meanwhile, the small number of devices that received the Lollipop update left the decision about encryption up to the user, but it was off by default.

However, the recently released Motorola Moto E (2015) does not have encryption turned on out of the box and sources at MWC 2015 who have gotten their hands on the Samsung Galaxy S6 demo units say encryption is not turned on for those devices either.

Google has not issued any statement about why their position regarding default encryption changed or is at least being delayed. It could be the performance hit is still a concern, even on new hardware, especially after Google’s own Nexus 6 performance was hurt by encryption. It seems hard to imagine a device like the Galaxy S6 would suffer a noticeable performance hit from disk encryption.

For the present time at least, Google’s guidelines for OEMs only indicates that disk encryption should be turned on by default and Google strongly recommends this. However, it is not mandated.

source: Ars Technica

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