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SwiftKey and Google Keyboard: Ever Heard of User Privacy?

unnamedA few days ago, I wrote an article here discussing some changes in Google Play Store permissions handling, and how these changes may have adverse privacy risks for users. The comments on that article indicated an overwhelming amount of concern from readers as to the permissions being used by applications, with many looking to use App Ops or XPrivacy to protect themselves.

Today, I’m going to take a slight detour and look at the permissions needed by two popular apps: Google’s first party keyboard, and SwiftKey. Both of these are keyboard applications, and both are available for download for free on the Play Store . . . READ ON »

Protecting Your Privacy: App Ops, Privacy Guard, and XPrivacy

After yesterday’s article about Google’s recent changes to the Play Store that post a number of privacy concerns for users, today we are going to look at the three most popular options for users to protect their own privacy on their Android devices. First though, let’s take a look at how they work, and what they are for.

Why Should I Care?

Since the start, Android has had a permissions system, to allow users to control what apps are able to do on their device. When an application is installed, the user is prompted to agree to the permissions that an app requires. The . . . READ ON »

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MediaTek Taking Steps to Be More Open

MediaTek Taking Steps to Be More Open

Whenever a device is released by an OEM (like Huawei, ZTE, Micromax, etc.) that makes use of a MediaTek SoC, one of the first things we invariably hear from users are complaints about the lack of kernel source code. If you’ve spent any appreciable time on XDA, you undoubtedly know that we take an OEM’s responsibility to adhere to the GPLv2 very seriously. Go ahead, click the link and read about it; we’ll wait. And while you’re at it, maybe check out the nice FAQ that GNU put together.

You back? Good. Now, we understand this can be a bit difficult to . . . READ ON »

Nokia X: A Phone for Nobody?

Nokia X: A Phone for Nobody?

It’s now been one day since the official unveiling of the Nokia X lineup at MWC in Barcelona. And while most of the details were already known far in advance, there were a few surprises the day of. For starters, we received not one, but three Android-powered Nokia devices. We also learned a bit more Nokia’s custom UI, including the Fastlane notification center and more specifics about various device specifications. But for the most part, the Nokia X family is almost exactly what we thought it would be—a low end device with a matching low end price tag. So now . . . READ ON »

Snapchat: A Lesson in How NOT to do Security

Snapchat: A Lesson in How NOT to do Security

Here at XDA, we focus on bringing you news about what developers are up to on the forums or significant changes in the mobile industry. Today though, I bring an analysis of some recent news about goings-on in the security world in relation to a particular mobile application you may or not have heard of: Snapchat.

Snapchat is best described as a gimmick application, widely used by teens to send each other photos and short videos, which “self destruct” after viewing, preventing copies being made, etc. Before the security world tries to spear me on a stick and roast me, . . . READ ON »

EFF Misguidedly Chastises Google for Further Hiding App Ops

Back in Android 4.3, a new tool was discovered that for the first time gave users first party granular permissions control for their installed apps. This was, of course, App Ops. As time went on, many users quickly took a liking to the hidden feature, not realizing that the feature was only accessible in the OS for internal debugging purposes. Rather, many took it to mean that Google was looking to bring granular permissions control to the masses. But then, Android 4.4.2 came. Along with the update’s various security upgrades, 4.4.2 also made it more difficult to access the (already . . . READ ON »

Microsoft Considering Free Versions of Windows Phone and RT: Too Little, Too Late?

It’s no secret that despite their previous successes in both the mobile and traditional computing spaces, Microsoft’s market performance as of late has been lackluster. And while sales for all of their platforms are currently suffering to a degree, it’s really only Windows Phone and Windows RT that are in serious trouble. Why have these two OSes struggled to gain any sort of traction? Part of this is due to the confusion of simply offering too many different versions. But that’s not the only reason. Though they generally offer optimized performance and a great user experience, industry adoption on either seems to . . . READ ON »

Interview with Motorola CEO Hints that Project Ara is Closer than Expected

Remember that ambitious modular smartphone platform project that Motorola announced a little over a month ago? Despite the backing from Motorola and now a 3D Printing hardware manufacturing partner, many have written off Project Ara as technically improbable and realistically impossible. Well, perhaps we shouldn’t be so quick to downplay this potential game-changer.

According to Motorola CEO Dennis Woodside, Project Ara is very much real. So real, in fact, that Dennis stated in an interview with YouTuber Marques Brownlee that a working prototype is just around the corner. While not much was revealed about the device will function, he reiterated the . . . READ ON »

Has Technology Become a Disposable Commodity?

Has Technology Become a Disposable Commodity?

I am, and have always been, an early adopter of a lot of things, particularly when it comes to technology. My cell phone voyage started back in the year 2000 with a Nokia 5110. Back then, only a handful of people had phones, and seeing someone on the street with one was a somewhat rare sight. Nowadays, the same cannot be said. Cell phones have become a massive commodity—one that gets a lot of attention, and certainly one that is likely one of the most profitable industries in the world today (in the tech sector anyways).

Every Joe Schmuck and . . . READ ON »

Shock and Awe: OEMs Cause Android Security Issues

Shock and Awe: OEMs Cause Android Security Issues

It should come as no surprise that here at XDA, we are always calling on the OEMs to do a better job of removing the bloat of their custom UIs (Samsung – we’re looking at you and your now insane TouchWiz size) and improving the overall user experience. What may come as a shock to some, though, is that a recent study by researchers at North Carolina State University says that those same OEMs, and their incessant need to have a custom UI as some sort of “branding,” are directly responsible for most of the security issues found with Android. Cue Home . . . READ ON »

Google Patent Trolled by Rockstar

Google Patent Trolled by Rockstar

31st of October. It’s a date millions of young boys and girls will remember as a fun-filled occasion of candies and sweets, ghosts and ghouls, and jack-o’-lanterns. On the other hand, Google and Co. will remember it as the eventful day when they were massively trolled.

Much like the history of Halloween, the developments leading towards this nuclear-level, momentous event is just as interesting, gripping, and downright peculiar in the world of tech and law. Back in 2009, Canadian-based, telecom company Nortel went into liquidation in 2009, auctioning off its biggest asset, a portfolio of mobile, networking, and . . . READ ON »

Just How Safe is “Safe” in Android?

Just How Safe is “Safe” in Android?

We’ve all heard about the Android malware problem. After all, proponents of other mobile operating systems love to spread FUD stating that Android’s malware situation is out of control. Further, there are various entities such as antivirus firms with vested interests in demonstrating that there is indeed an issue.

Who’s to blame the companies using these unscrupulous tactics? After all, it’s simply good business to undermine your mobile OS competitors or create demand for your product in the case of security solution providers. And up until very recently, Google unfortunately lacked a reliable way of determining and tracking the scope . . . READ ON »

Google Bans Spammy Ads from Play Store

Google Bans Spammy Ads from Play Store

If you’re a developer who writes mobile apps for a living, chances are that you’ve at least experimented with mobile ads in the past. Far more true than on other competing platforms, the Android app developer ecosystem is essentially driven by in-app advertisements rather than upfront payments.

This is a topic we broached some time ago, when we presented a thread with various developers’ experiences with different monetization strategies. Long story short: Ads and in-app purchases seem to be far more powerful tools in your monetization arsenal than upfront paid apps.

This should all come as no surprise for a . . . READ ON »

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