Tag: Android

Smartwatches drive wearable growth

iType SmartwatchA report from market research company IDC said that by 2019, 200 million wearables will ship.

And the driver for the growth is the smartwatch, according to the report.

IDC estimates that 34.3 million smartwatches will ship next year, while by 2019 shipments will amount to 88.3 million units, amounting for a large percentage of the total wearable market.

While the jury is still out on how successful smatwatches will be, Ramon Llamas, a research manager at IDC, said that smartwatches have changed from being extensions of a smartphone to “wearable computers capable of communications, notifications, applications and numerous other functionalities”. He continued: “The smartwatch we have today will look nothing like the smartwatch we will see in the future”.

He said that cellular connectivity and health censors “will change the game”.

IDC believes that Apple’s watchOS will lead the field from now until 2019. The Android OS will be “a distant second”, while the market will include traditional watch makers like Fossil and Tag Heuer.

Smartphone sales slow

smartphoneSales of smartphones will only grow by 9.8 percent in 2015, amounting to 1.43 billion units worldwide.

That’s the first full year of single digit growth, according to a report from IDC.

IDC is also predicting lower shipment forecast for Windows Phone. Microsoft has made several repeated attempts to enter this market but has so far failed to make a dent in the market.

There are slowing growth in Asia Pacific, Latin America and Western Europe and in China, the market has ecome a replacement market.

India, Indonesia, the Middle East and Africa are showing the strongest growth.

As far as operating systems go, Android will represent 82 percent of the market. Apple iOS has a much smaller share of 15.8 percent, while Windows Phone only amounts to 2.2 percent.

Worldwide smartphone sales show strong growth

HTC smartphoneFigures from Gartner said that worldwide smartphone sales grew by 15.5 percent in the third quarter, compared to the same quarter in 2014.

Global sales of smartphones numbered 353 million units, with much of the rise in sales from so-called emerging markets.

Anshul Gupta, a Gartner research analyst said: “The available of affordable smartphones in emerging markets saw people upgrade their feature phones to smartphones more quickly because of the small price gap. Smartphone sales in emerging markets rose to 259.7 million in the third quarter – an 18.4 percent growth over the third quarter of 2014 – while sales in mature markets saw growth of just 8.2 percent over the samw period.”

Samsung leads the ratings with 23.7 percent market share, followed by Apple (13.1%), Huawei (7.7%), Lenovo (4.9%) and Xiaomi (4.9%).

The Android operating system dominates the market with 84.7 percent market share. The Apple iOS has 13.1 percent, and Windows has a tiny 1.7 percent share.

TAG Heuer releases $1,500 smartwatch

small_TAGHeuerConnected_bannerLuxury Swiss watch maker TAG Heuer is showing Apple how it is done by releasing a $1,500 smartwatch.

TAG Heuer’s Connected Watch, which is its first to run Google’s Android Wear operating system and it looks a lot like the outfit’s Carrera analogue watch.

Company CEO Jean-Claude Biver said that his watch was the result of a marriage between of Watch Valley and Silicon Valley. It’s a marriage between America and Switzerland.

“The Swiss watch industry has entered today, thanks to Intel and Google, the Swiss Watch industry is connected to the future. That is the importance of the event today. That is why I’m excited. That is why I am proud to be here.”

What is surprising though is that the watch is surprising low spec. The smartwatch uses an Intel Atom Z34XX processor, Bluetooth LE, Wi-Fi, 4GB of internal storage and gyroscopic sensors.

It does not have GPS, a heart rate sensor or even a speaker on the smartwatch (all notifications announce themselves via vibrations). On the plus side you will get 30 hours of battery life before you need a recharge.

What you’re paying for is the grade 2 titanium casing and the TAG Heuer name. After the two year warranty is up, owners will have the opportunity to trade it in, pay an additional $1,500 and receive a “real” mechanical TAG Heuer watch.


Google wants to make its own chips

intel_ireland_semiconductor_chip_fab_300mm_waferIt would appear that Google is looking to design its own chips and his been having a quiet word with chipmakers to make it happen.

According to The Information, Google apparently gave chipmakers a road map for how it is thinking about the future of Android and what will be required to get there.

It also wants an image processor design that can minimise the camera delay in between photos for a “video-like stream” of images.

Buried in the details is the information that Google wants to add memory capacity inside the phone’s main processor so that the processor doesn’t need to reach into a separate memory chip to accomplish certain tasks. In otherwords it is talking about cache.

Google also requested “more powerful sensors so that the phone can collect more data on its surroundings.” It mentions “improved sensor hubs,” which presumably means Google wants to standardize or improve the “Android Sensor Hub” and always-on voice chip present in the Nexus 5X and 6P. Google is also looking to add “support for a wider range of sensors, including one that can measure distance,” something that would be helpful for AR and VR.

The Information mentioned that these talks originated “from Google’s efforts to find a manufacturer to make chips for an “enterprise connectivity device,” a plan that is still ongoing.

This cunning plan is very similar to Apple’s chip strategy. Under that approach Jobs’ Mob controlled hardware and software in a way that allowed it to move to a 64-bit platform.

At the moment Qualcomm has a near monopoly on Android SoCs, but it is more marketing driven than performance driven and has been doing a disservice to the mobile space lately. It rushed to get 64-bit support out the door which resulted in the very hot Snapdragon 810 SoC.

Google has apparently hired a senior product executive from Qualcomm along with several engineers from PA Semi, a chip firm that was acquired by Apple. Along with using off-the-shelf ARM designs as a starting point, it would seem Google has the expertise to pull off a chip design.

Smartphone apps spy on you

GoogleA report from scientists in the USA have concluded that using Android and iOS apps runs the risk of your data being shared with others.

Harvard, Carnegie-Mellon, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that 47 percent of 110 iOS apps they studied shared location data, while 73 percent of Android apps shared peoples’ email addresses.

Android apps are more likely to share personal names and addresses than the IOS apps.

But rather worringly one Android health app, the researchers claimed, shared medical information with third parties.

One iOS app, Localscope, sent data to 17 third party domains while 93 percent of Android apps connected to a domain called safemovedm.com No one, perhaps except Google, knows why this happens or what’s going on at safemovedm.com

Apple dominates the tablet market

Dell TabletDespite falling sales of tablets in general, data released shows Apple still leads the way in shipments of tablets.

Digitimes Research said that Apple represents 23.9 percent of shipments, followed by Samsung at 14.5 percent of the market.

But the remaining places are disappointing for other vendors, with Microsoft only having 2.3 percent of the market, Amazon 4.8 percent, Lenovo 5.3 percent, and Acer 1.3 percent.

The market research firm said that of the 38.5 million tablets it estimates will ship in this fourth quarter, 30.3 percent will have seven inch screens, 18.3 percent nine inch screens,, 5.3 percent eight inch screens and 9.2 percent tablets with eleven inch screens or above.

While Apple is doing well on shipments, in operating system terms it’s good for Android (56.8%), and Apple iOS 36.4 percent. MIcrosoft has a miniscule 6.9 percent of the market with Windows.

The market research outfit said that sales have fallen 22.6 percent, compared to the same quarter last year.

11 security bugs found in Galaxy S6 Edge

bugTwo teams of insecurity experts have found more than 11 security bugs in the popular Samsung Galaxy 6S Edge.

Project Zero selected the Edge to investigate because Samsung is the biggest OEM in the world and most of the bugs found in its phones would be found in other Android phones.

“In particular, we wanted to see how difficult finding bugs would be, what type of bugs we would find and whether mitigations in AOSP would make finding or exploiting bugs more difficult [on an OEM device]. We also wanted to see how quickly bugs would be resolved when we reported them. We chose the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge, as it is a recent high-end device with a large number of users,” Project Zero said.

The gave themselves a week to root out vulnerabilities. North American Project Zero members competed against their European counterparts in this exercise. Each side was given three challenges: gain remote access to data stored on the device such as contact information, photos and messages; gain access access to the same data from an app installed from Google Play with no permissions; and using the access gained in either of the first challenges, maintain persistence even if the device was wiped.

None of the official press releases say who won though.

Among the 11 vulnerabilities, the “most interesting” of which was CVE-2015-7888. It’s a directory traversal bug that allows a file to be written as a system. Project Zero said it was a doddle to exploit and it has since been fixed.

After reporting the issues to Samsung, it rolled out fixes for eight of the 11 vulnerabilities, which Project Zero confirmed by re-testing an updated Galaxy S6 Edge. As for the remaining three, they’ll be fixed sometime this month.




Marshmallow will need full encryption

sshot4ffc6ccb1c544Google is going to insist that devices running its OS Marshmallow operating system will to have full-disk encryption enabled.

Google’s first attempt to make default full-disk encryption mandatory for phone manufacturers was with Android 5.0 but it had to abandon that plan because of poor performance from some of the phones.

The Tame Apple Press has been marketing the fact that Apple is doing better because iOS already encrypts user data making it “unhackable.”

With the release of Android 6.0, the Android Compatibility Definition Document (CDD), which sets guidelines for manufacturers, has also been updated. The document now lists full-disk encryption as a requirement instead of a recommendation.

If the Android phone is not low-memory device — with about 512MB of RAM — and supports a secure lock screen, it must also support full-disk encryption of both the application data and shared storage partitions, the document says.

If the device has an Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) cryptographic operation performance above 50MB/s, the full-disk encryption feature must be enabled by default during the initial set-up.

Google said that the encryption should use 128-bit or greater AES keys. They are not aloowed to write the encryption key to the storage area later. The encryption key should never be transmitted off the device.

Of course coppers are furious because it means that they will have a hell of a job snuffling people’s personal data any more.

In addition to encryption, Google also requires a verified boot for devices with AES performance over 50MB/s. This is a feature that verifies the integrity and authenticity of the software loaded at different stages during the device boot sequence and protects against boot-level attacks that could undermine the encryption.

Google’s Android faces antitrust probe

GoogleGoogle, which is already under investigation in the European Union for alleged anticompetitive practices, now faces a probe related to the Android operating system.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is actively investigating the company to see whether the Android operating system is being used to stifle competition, according to a report on Bloomberg.

Apparently, the FTC wants to know whether Google is bullying Android smartphone manufacturers into showing certain apps on their phones and how they were arranged.

Apparently the FTC and the US Justice Government flipped a coin to decide which of the two bodies should conduct the investigation.

The FTC cleared Google in a previous investigation it made into Google two years ago.

The FTC has already started to talk to technology partners of Google in a bid to discover whether the search company is being a bit of a bully.

The EU is already investigating whether Google is using Android to stifle competition.