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Add physical, customisable buttons to your Android phone with this sticker!

Touchscreen phones are all the rage these days; and while they may do the job of giving you greater interaction with the phone; and haptic feedback is helping to bring back the feeling you get of actually "pressing" buttons etc. – sometimes there's just no substitute for real, physical buttons. As well as always knowing where they are – because they can't be moved or replaced by something else like on a screen – physical buttons often provide short-cuts to the parts of a phone you want to use, letting you get to them in one press even when trying to do the same through the phone itself would take multiple touches, gestures or flicking through different screens.

Dimple on the bank of a Nexus phone; and a simulation of the app.
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Most Android phones lack any kind of physical button – even a Home button like on the iPhone – choosing to utilise virtual ones instead. If you found yourself nodding in the last paragraph and wishing you could add some physical buttons to your Android phone, let me introduce you to Dimple. As described on their website, Dimple is "a small NFC™ sticker with four buttons for Android™ devices. You are the one who chooses the button functionality. It makes doing everyday tasks quicker and saves your precious time."

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    Canonical Tout Android/Ubuntu Smartphone, Asks For Tons Of Money To Make It Happen

    In the development of their mobile platform, it seems the people over at Ubuntu have discovered something about the smartphone industry: every smartphone in production is “consumer grade”. Noting that Formula 1 cars are used a commercial test-bed for new automotive technologies, the people at Ubuntu wanted a similar product for the smarphone industry. So they decided to build one.



    The Ubuntu Edge is indeed a powerhouse of a phone. With a 4GB of RAM, 128GB of storage, and a multicore processor to be named later, this phone is more powerful than many PC's. And the chips aren't the only impressive things on this phone. With a casing crafted from a single piece of textured metal, and a sapphire crystal screen, this phone will be incredibly durable. Rather than focusing on just having a higher ppi, which is wasted on most phones today, the 4.5 inch screen will sport greater clarity through color enhancement and improved brightness. The battery life will also be improved, utilizing a silicon anode battery, in place of the more standard lithium-ion of today's phones.





    On the software side, the Edge will be running both the Ubuntu mobile platform and Android side by side.


    To finance this project, Ubuntu is reaching out to technology enthusiasts to donate a whopping $32,000,000 on Indigogo. If the campaign succeeds, it will shatter all previous crowd-funding records. To receive one of the new devices, supporters will have to donate at least $830, and wait until the project is finished in May of next year. Participating in the campaign will be the only way to receive one of these phones, as Ubuntu is only planning to make 40,000 of the phones.


    The full pitch can be read on the Indigogo page here:

    [Via Sanitarium.FM]


    Beware the fake Google Play store that’s actually malware

    Malware on Android is nothing new. In fact, stories about this very subject can be found on most major news websites or tech blogs on an irregular basis, perhaps approaching once a month if not more. Usually the malware is easy to identify with the right amount of attentiveness, with the wrong developer names, low quality icons or badly written descriptions on the download page being a dead giveaway; and even if you're foolish enough to download these, the failure of the app to work; or unexpected behaviour while it's running should usually grab attention. But what if the Malware looks and acts like the official store where you buy the apps in the first place?

    This is the latest threat to Android users, discovered by effective Russian security firm Doctor Web. Known as the "Android.DDoS.1.origin" trojan, infected devices can be used for an array of malicious purposes including spamming text messages; and even DDoS attacks. Once installed, the app creates an icon that is an exact replica of the Google Play Store. Clicking it will still send you to the Store, but also activates the trojan, which runs silently in the background. The trojan will immediately try to connect to its Command and Control (C&C) server and if it does, the server operators are sent the victim's phone number. From here, the virus can receive texts from its operators, which are intercepted so the phone isn't aware of their receipt, telling it what to do next. These instructions can include a request to start DDoSing; at which point, the malware will spam a given target with quick bursts of data from the infected phone

    The DDoS attacks present a threat to the infected phone's user, who will find the data limits on their calling plans quickly used up unwittingly and criminally; and if enough phones attack the same location, it can also be bad for the receiving site, which may fail temporarily due to the sudden surge of traffic. Be careful out there!


    Offline Google Docs comes to Android – but Read-Only for now

    Google keeps taking tiny steps toward creating a full-fledged document creation and editing experience to users of computers and mobile devices. Recently, Google unveiled an HTML5-powered app for the Chrome browser that lets you read documents offline—but not edit them. Yesterday, Google brought the same offline viewing capability to Docs for Android, but again without the ability to edit documents and then sync the changes once an Internet connection is reestablished.

    Once you’ve updated the Docs app for your Android phone or tablet, you can select individual documents that you want to make available offline. The document is downloaded and it will then be available in a list of offline documents. Once you’ve granted a document offline status, though, the offline version will be updated automatically when you connect to Wi-Fi.

    Google provides some more instructions on how to use offline Docs for Android. “You can make an item available offline while you have an Internet connection. You can also request to make an item available offline when your device is disconnected from the Internet,” Google said. “The item will update the next time your device regains Internet connectivity.”

    Unfortunately, Google noted that “offline editing isn’t currently supported,” and hasn’t yet said when it will be offered. In September, when the company introduced offline Docs access for Chrome, Google said future versions of the browser would support offline editing, but we’re still waiting for that to arrive as well. On the plus side, Gmail’s offline mode in Chrome can work somewhat like a regular mail client, allowing you to reply to e-mails offline and have them sent automatically when an Internet connection is established.


    US Telephone Networks ‘blocking’ Tethering apps in Android Market

    Some of America’s biggest wireless carriers are trying to restrict access to free apps that let Google Android users use their smartphones as modems, without paying the carriers’ extra fee.

    Several blogs have reported in recent days that free Android phone tethering apps that are typically found in the Android Market are no longer available for Android phones on AT&T, Verizon Wireless, and T-Mobile USA. Those on the Sprint NexTel network seem to so far not be affected.

    Reports first surfaced from the blog DroidLife that the free tethering app Wireless Tether could not be downloaded onto AT&T and Verizon Wireless handsets.AT&T and Verizon representatives declined to comment, and said that Google chooses which apps are in the Android Market. Neither company would comment on whether they asked Google to remove the Wireless Tether app or any other free tethering app from the Android Market.

    A Google spokesman states that they are not “blocking” the apps per se. Instead, Google is simply making it unavailable for download on certain carrier networks at the request of those carriers. If an application is in direct violation of the terms and conditions of a usage contract, a carrier can request Google make the app unavailable. In essence, the apps are still on the Google Market, but they are just not visible to users on certain carrier networks. Apps are only hidden from view if they are in direct violation of the carrier’s terms of service.

    But that doesn’t mean that AT&T, Verizon Wireless, and T-Mobile customers can’t get access to these apps. Any app can still be side-loaded onto the device. So if the developer distributes the application file in a way other than the Android Market (say, just as a download from a Web site) a user can install that on his device. Before they do this, however, US Android users should make sure they are actually entitled to tethering on their current plan – or risk the wrath of the carrier. Most carriers have an extra fee for tethering services – AT&T charge $20 per month for it, as an example – and those who tether without paying have already received warnings for their activities.

    Be warned – this could turn nasty.


    Google Apps Enhances Android Security and Device Management Tools

    Today Google announced a new version of its Google Apps Device Policy app for Android. New features include the ability to locate a lost or stolen Android device on a map, and remotely reset the PIN or password. The new version also includes the ability to encrypt all data stored on Android 3.0 (Honeycomb) tablets (previously, this feature was limited to phones).

    Google also announced a new Android app called Google Apps Lookup. It enables Google Apps users to search their company directory from Android and quickly make calls or send text messages to colleagues.

    Given that Microsoft and RIM will offer free hosted BlackBerry Enterprise Server as part of Microsoft Office 365 it makes sense for Google to expand its security offerings. What do you think? Let us know in the comments!


    Rumour: Was a test of a new Google Music app leaked to the web?

    An odd glitch on a Tech Review website’s Android phone appeared to replace the Android Market on their phone with a Test version filled with numerous unseen (and many non-functional) apps; but it is one in particular, which actually DID function, that got their attention – and, when it was posted about on the internet, seemingly everyone else’s, too.

    Now, there’s a claim that a download for the app has been discovered, and subsequently leaked online, and is now being shared by several websites.

    The app – apparently a test release of a future update to Google’s official Google Music app, tentatively titled “Google Music 3.0” – was discovered Read the rest of this entry »


    Google Music Coming With Honeycomb, Motorola Exec Hints

    At Mobile World Congress, Motorola Mobility CEO Sanjay Jha let slip that Google’s long rumored music service will be tied to Honeycomb, the version of Android that’s launching with the Motorola Xoom tablet.

    According to a report in The Guardian, Jha said: “If you look at Google Mobile services [via Android] today, there’s a video service, there’s a music service – that is, there will be a music service.”

    Google first showed off an online music service at its I/O conference last May, but the company has struggled to get the licensing rights in place. The latest rumors say that Android chief Andy Rubin is in charge of getting the music service launched, and that it will let users store their own music collections online and then stream those songs to Android devices.

    The Motorola Xoom is slated to launch later this spring.


    BlackBerry PlayBook will reportedly support Google Android apps

    Well, this is a bit of a surprise. Research In Motion – otherwise known as RIM and famous for the BlackBerry line of smartphones – is reportedly working to ensure that the BlackBerry PlayBook can support some apps from the Google Android platform.

    BlackBerry PlayBook is RIM’s first attempt at entering the Tablet Computer market, by making a device that’s larger and fully touch-screen. With BlackBerry having never made a Tablet before, it’s hard to judge how good they’ll be at it until the Tablet has been in customer’s hands long enough – and considering there are already established competitors in the market in the guise of Apple’s iPad and the range of Android tablets, this means RIM will need something special to encourage users to take a look at it instead.

    So RIM are reportedly looking at making the PlayBook compatible with Google Android apps, in order to widen their market, and increase familiarity from those who may be interested in switching from Android. The rumours come from Bloomberg, who cite the following statement, credited to “anonymous sources close to Google”:

    RIM plans to integrate the technology with the PlayBook operating system, giving customers access to Android’s more than 130,000 apps, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the effort isn’t public. RIM, after looking outside the company, is developing the software internally and may have it ready in the second half, two people said.

    However, RIM won’t be using Google’s Dalvik Java software due to patent issues.

    Android certainly is growing in popularity, and given that we don’t have a BlackBerry tablet precedent, it might be helpful to have a feature that is familiar to a wider audience to bring more customers in. This doesn’t mean that the PlayBook is automatically going to be a strong alternative to the iPad and Android, but it will certainly garner some extra attention it might not have otherwise.


    Confirmed: The “PlayStation Phone” cometh!

    It’s been rumoured, supposedly debunked, and rumoured again more times than Ant & Dec have appeared on TV, but now it’s finally official: The “PlayStation Phone” is real, and it’s coming to market very soon!

    Officially named the Xperia Play, the phone combines a traditional Android 3.0-powered smart-phone with a preloaded PlayStation Pocket app for downloading and playing PlayStation games. It’s also powered by a Qualcomm chip for lightning fast performance. The Xperia Play has been leaked and spied for months, with Sony Ericsson happily previewing the phone on several occasions – but despite it all, there were constant doubts as to whether the phone was ever actually going to be released.

    O2, T-Mobile/Orange and Vodaphone have all confirmed they will host the phone in the UK as soon as it is launched, which Orange has stated is due in April. This leaves only the Three network left to confirm a launch.

    Pricing is still to be confirmed by all the networks.

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