Android

T-Mobile's 'Digits' Program Revamps the Phone Number (arstechnica.com) 22

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: T-Mobile has announced the launch of its "Digits" program, coming May 31. Digits is a revamp of how T-Mobile phone numbers work, virtualizing customer numbers so they can work across multiple devices. It sounds a lot like Google Voice -- rather than having a phone number tied to a single SIM card or a device, numbers are now account-based, and you can "log in" to your phone number on several devices. T-Mobile says the new phone number system will work "across virtually all connected devices," allowing multiple phones, tablets, and PCs to get texts and calls. This means T-Mobile needs apps across all those platforms, with the press release citing "native seamless integration" in Samsung Android phones, Android and iOS apps, and a browser interface for PCs. The new phone number system is free to all T-Mobile customers. Customers can also buy an extra phone number for $10 or by signing up to the $5-per-month "T-Mobile One Plus" package, which is a bundle of extra features like a mobile hotspot and in-flight Wi-Fi.
Google

Google Launches Google Assistant On the iPhone (venturebeat.com) 6

At its I/O 2017 developer conference, Google announced the Google Assistant is coming to iOS as a standalone app. Previously, the only way for iOS users to get access to the Assistant was through Allo, the Google messaging app nobody uses. For those interested, you can download the Google Assistant on your iOS device here, but keep in mind that your device needs to be running iOS 9.1 or higher. VentureBeat reports: Google Assistant for iPhone won't ship on Apple's mobile devices by default, and naturally won't be as tightly integrated into the OS. But it is addressable by voice and does work with other Google apps on Apple's platform. Apple has API restrictions on iOS, so Google Assistant can't set alarms like Siri can. It can, however, send iMessages for you or start playing music in third-party apps like Spotify. You also won't be able to use the Home button to trigger Google Assistant, so you'll need to use the app icon or a widget.
Desktops (Apple)

App Maker's Code Stolen in Malware Attack (bbc.com) 73

Mac and iOS software developer Panic has had the source code for several of its apps stolen. An anonymous reader writes: Panic founder Steven Frank said in a blog post that it happened after he downloaded an infected copy of the video encoding tool Handbrake. He said there was no sign that any customer data was accessed and that Panic's web server was not affected. Users have been warned to download Panic's apps only from its website or the Apple App Store. Panic is the creator of web editing and file transfer apps Coda and Transmit, and the video game Firewatch. On May 2, Handbrake was hacked, with the Mac version of the app on one of the site's download servers replaced by a malicious copy. In what Mr Frank called "a case of extraordinarily bad luck", he downloaded the malicious version of Handbrake and launched it "without stopping to wonder why Handbrake would need admin privileges... when it hadn't before. And that was that, my Mac was completely, entirely compromised in three seconds or less."
Desktops (Apple)

Apple Releases macOS 10.12.5, iOS 10.3.2, watchOS 3.2.2, tvOS 10.2.1 (macworld.com) 45

On Monday, Apple released point updates to all its operating systems. Starting with the desktop, the macOS 10.12.5 update for Sierra is the fifth major update since the operating system was released in September of 2016. The iPhone-maker also released the iOS 10.3.2 for iPhones, iPads and iPods to the public. The update for Macs offers a range of bug fixes, improvements to Night Shift, and a long list of security patches. The iOS 10.3.2 update offers "bug fixes and improves the security." More details -- including what's new in tvOS, and watchOS -- here.
Microsoft

Microsoft Finally Bans SHA-1 Certificates In Its Browsers (zdnet.com) 38

An anonymous reader quotes ZDNet: With this week's monthly Patch Tuesday, Microsoft has also rolled out a new policy for Edge and Internet Explorer that prevents sites that use a SHA-1-signed HTTPS certificate from loading. The move brings Microsoft's browsers in line with Chrome, which dropped support for the SHA-1 cryptographic hash function in January's stable release of Chrome 56, and Firefox's February cut-off... Apple dropped support for SHA-1 in March with macOS Sierra 10.12.4 and iOS 10.3... Once Tuesday's updates are installed, Microsoft's browsers will no longer load sites with SHA-1 signed certificates and will display an error warning highlighting a security problem with the site's certificate.
Android

Google Maps Now Uses Street View To Show You Exactly Where To Make Turns (theverge.com) 25

Google Maps has received a small design update that will show Street View images of every road you're supposed to turn onto. "If you tap the image, Street View will open up to that location, showing an arrow in the direction you're meant to turn," reports The Verge. From the report: It's a small change, but it could make a difference at confusing intersections or for people (like me) who are very bad with street names. The change was spotted by Android Police. Unfortunately, the images display as tiny thumbnails until you tap to open them up, so while the addition is definitely helpful, it's not quite glanceable information -- you'll definitely have to tap to open every turn that you want to see in detail. The feature only appears to be on Android for now. But Google's iOS app usually has the same look and features, so it may just be a matter of time before it gets updated. Android Police also points out that Google changed the bottom navigation bar when getting directions. It takes up a bit more of the screen now, but it's also a bit more explicit about what tapping certain things will do. Altogether, seems like a smart change.
Microsoft

Microsoft Is Surprisingly Comfortable With Its New Place In a Mobile, Apple, and Android World (fastcompany.com) 73

An anonymous reader writes: The company that once held a mock funeral for the iPhone -- complete with dedicated "iPhone trashcans" -- now has a very different attitude about the company of Jobs. The Microsoft whose old CEO Steve Ballmer in 2007 famously predicted the iPhone had "no chance; no chance at all" of getting market share, now readily accepts and embraces a world where the iPhone and Android dominate personal computing. Microsoft talked a lot here at its Build 2017 developer conference about extending Windows experiences over to iOS and Android devices. And it's not just about fortifying Windows. Microsoft says it not only wants to connect with those foreign operating systems, but by bringing over functionality from Windows 10 (along with content) it hopes to "make those other devices better," as one Microsoft rep said in a press briefing yesterday. The developers here at Build cheered when Microsoft announced XAML Standard 1.0, which provides a single markup language to make user interfaces that work on Windows, iOS, and Android. In one demo, the company demonstrated how an enterprise sales app could be extended to an iOS device so someone could continue capturing a potential client's data on a mobile device. Windows not only sent over the client data that had already been captured, but also the business-app shell that had captured it.
Google

Google's Upcoming 'Fuchsia' Smartphone OS Dumps Linux, Has a Wild New UI (arstechnica.com) 219

More details have emerged about Fuchsia, the new mobile OS Google has been working on. ArsTechnica reports that Fuchsia is not based on Linux (unlike Android and Chrome OS). Instead, the OS uses a new, Google-developed microkernel called "Magenta." From the article: With Fuchsia, Google would not only be dumping the Linux kernel, but also the GPL: the OS is licensed under a mix of BSD 3 clause, MIT, and Apache 2.0. Dumping Linux might come as a bit of a shock, but the Android ecosystem seems to have no desire to keep up with upstream Linux releases. Even the Google Pixel is still stuck on Linux Kernel 3.18, which was first released at the end of 2014. [...] The interface and apps are written using Google's Flutter SDK, a project that actually produces cross-platform code that runs on Android and iOS. Flutter apps are written in Dart, Google's reboot of JavaScript which, on mobile, has a focus on high-performance, 120fps apps. It also has a Vulkan-based graphics renderer called "Escher" that lists "Volumetric soft shadows" as one of its features, which seems custom-built to run Google's shadow-heavy "Material Design" interface guidelines. The publication put the Flutter SDK to test on an Android device to get a sneak peek into the user interface of Fuchsia. "The home screen is a giant vertically scrolling list. In the center you'll see a (placeholder) profile picture, the date, a city name, and a battery icon," the author wrote. "Above the are 'Story' cards -- basically Recent Apps -- and below it is a scrolling list of suggestions, sort of like a Google Now placeholder. Leave the main screen and you'll see a Fuchsia 'home' button pop up on the bottom of the screen, which is just a single white circle."
Iphone

Global App Usage Still Rising, and Users in the US Spend 135 Minutes a Day in Them (geekwire.com) 47

An anonymous reader shares a report: There's a reason that everyone you look at it is looking at a smartphone. According to the folks whose job it is to track such things, people can't get enough of apps, and global usage of them continues to increase. In its latest usage report, App Annie takes a look at the average user's app usage for the first quarter of 2017 and reaches the conclusion that mobile apps have become vital to our day-to-day lives. Last year's report found that time spent in apps reached 1 trillion hours. The average smartphone user, in the United States and other countries analyzed, used over 30 apps per month. That's about a third of the number that are actually installed on phones in the U.S. People use about 10 apps every day, the data shows, with iPhone users using slightly more than Android users. Utilities and tools are the most commonly used apps on a monthly basis, thanks to pre-installed apps such as Safari on iOS and Google on Android.
Microsoft

Microsoft's Nadella Says Company Will Make More Phones, But They Won't Look Like Today's Devices (zdnet.com) 150

As he told the Make Me Smart podcast, Microsoft is looking for something far more transformative, like an entirely new category of smartphone that's so original and appealing that OEMs won't be able to resist tagging along. From a report: "At this point we're making sure that all of our software is available on iOS and Android and it's first class and we're looking for what's the next change in form and function," he said when asked whether Microsoft would make another phone. Nadella doesn't discuss what form these mobile devices could take, though Microsoft does have some candidates, like its HoloLens augmented reality (AR) headgear. No doubt he's keeping close tabs on Google's early progress with its Tango phone AR experiments.
IOS

Apple AirPods Customers 'Satisfied' With the Product (techpinions.com) 73

Columnist Ben Bajarin, writing for TechPinions: The big story is customer satisfaction with AirPods is extremely high. 98% of AirPod owners said they were very satisfied or satisfied. Remarkably, 82% said they were very satisfied. The overall customer satisfaction level of 98% sets the record for the highest level of satisfaction for a new product from Apple. When the iPhone came out in 2007, it held a 92% customer satisfaction level, iPad in 2010 had 92%, and Apple Watch in 2015 had 97%. Bajarin notes that the site surveyed 942 AirPods customers.
Operating Systems

Microsoft Unveils Windows 10 S, an Education Edition Limited To Windows Store Apps (venturebeat.com) 127

On Tuesday, Microsoft announced a new edition of its latest operating system: Windows 10 S. Available on first-party and third-party hardware -- Microsoft will be releasing its own Windows 10 S device and will also let manufacturers sell their own -- Windows 10 S is a streamlined edition of Windows 10 aimed at the education market. From a report: "We really are working hard to deliver the best platform for education, for students of all ages and school districts of all devices," said Joe Belfiore, corporate vice president in Microsoft's operating systems group, about the new Windows 10 S release. The main way that Windows 10 S differs from the other editions is that it can only run apps from the Windows Store. That includes Universal Windows Platform (UWP) apps and Win32 apps that Microsoft has approved into its app store. The goal is to avoid the problems of traditional Win32 apps that often run in the background and push their own updates. Microsoft wants to stop apps from hooking into the boot and sign-in process to handle all their own updates, which in turn slows down startup time. Windows Store can take care of this today, but Windows 10 S makes it the only way to install and update apps. As a result, Microsoft hopes Windows 10 S will be able to offer faster sign-in times and better battery life. This is still a full version of Windows 10. It's just locked down to only work with apps that Microsoft has approved, similar to how Apple and Google lock down iOS and Android to their respective app stores. The operating system follows the company's Intune for Education announcement back in January. Those systems created by third-party hardware partners like Acer, Asus, HP, Dell and Toshiba, start at $189.
Education

Microsoft And Apple Target Schools In War With Chromebook (techcrunch.com) 143

An anonymous reader writes: "Google [is] commanding 58% of U.S. K-12 schools. Windows is in second with around 22% and the combined impact of MacOS and iOS are close behind at 19%," reports TechCrunch, citing figures from consulting firm Futuresource. But now Chromebooks are under fire from cheaper iPads and Microsoft's upcoming Windows 10 Cloud laptop with its cloud-based software. "For many schools, the dream of a one-device-per-child experience has finally been realized through a consumer technology battle waged by the biggest names in the industry... Fostering an entire generation of first-time computer users with your software and device ecosystem could mean developing lifelong loyalties, which is precisely why all this knock-down, drag-out fight won't be drawing to a close any time soon." That raises an interesting question. Do Slashdot readers remember the computers that were used in their own high schools -- and did that instill any lifelong brand loyalty?
Education

Apple Makes iMovie, GarageBand, and iWork Apps for Mac and iOS Free for All Users (macrumors.com) 65

Apple today updated several of its Mac and iOS apps, making them available for all Mac and iOS users for free. From a report: iMovie, Numbers, Keynote, Pages, and GarageBand for both Mac and iOS devices have been updated and are now listed in the App Store for free. Previously, all of these apps were provided for free to customers who purchased a new Mac or iOS device, but now that purchase is not required to get the software. Many Apple customers were already likely eligible to download the software at no cost if they had made a device purchase in the last few years.
Google

Google Earth Gets a New Home On the Web (arstechnica.com) 46

To celebrate the Earth Day, Google says it is rolling out what was a two-year in the making major update to Google Earth. From a report: V9 is designed to run in a Web browser (just Chrome for now), but there's now a standalone home for Google Earth. The Android app has been updated, too (iOS is coming soon). Version 9 puts a big focus on guided tours via the "Voyager" section, which serves as a jumping off point for YouTube videos, 360-degree content, Street View, and Google Earth landmarks. The tours are led by scientists and documentarians, with some content produced by well-known groups like the BBC's Planet Earth team. For kids, there's a Sesame Street muppet section.
Facebook

Instagram's Snapchat Clone Is Now More Popular Than Snapchat -- and It's Only 8 Months Old (cnbc.com) 50

Facebook's top Snapchat clone Instagram Stories has hit 200 million daily active users, surpassing the last count of 161 million that Snapchat announced alongside its IPO. Instagram Stories launched in August, hit 100 million dailies in October, and 150 million in January, so it's hardly slowing as it grows. Meanwhile, Instagram is getting faster at copying even Snapchat's most technologically advanced features with a series of global iOS and Android updates. A report adds: Along with this announcement, Facebook is introducing new 'sticker' tools for Instagram, to make it a more appealing alternative to Snapchat, and more engaging for its users. Now Instagram's users can turn their selfies into stickers, which they'll be able to easily share, or pin within a video. The app is also launching new Geostickers for Chicago, London, Madrid and Tokyo to apply over photos. The stickers have been designed by artists from the respective cities, enabling users to tap to learn more about the art.
Ubuntu

Canonical Founder Criticizes Free Software Developers Who 'Hate On Whatever's Mainstream' (google.com) 374

Canonical Founder Mark Shuttleworth said Saturday that "I came to be disgusted with the hate" on Canonical's display server Mir, saying it "changed my opinion of the free software community." After announcing his company was abandoning Unity for GNOME, Shuttleworth posted a gracious thank-you note to the Unity community Friday on Google Plus. But on Saturday, he added a sharper comment: "I used to think that it was a privilege to serve people who also loved the idea of service, but now I think many members of the free software community are just deeply anti-social types who love to hate on whatever is mainstream. When Windows was mainstream they hated on it. Rationally, Windows does many things well and deserves respect for those. And when Canonical went mainstream, it became the focus of irrational hatred too. The very same muppets would write about how terrible it was that IOS/Android had no competition and then how terrible it was that Canonical was investing in (free software!) compositing and convergence. Fuck that shit."
The comment begins by saying "The whole Mir hate-fest boggled my mind - it's free software that does something invisible really well. It became a political topic as irrational as climate change or gun control, where being on one side or the other was a sign of tribal allegiance. We have a problem in the community when people choose to hate free software instead of loving that someone cares enough to take their life's work and make it freely available."
Android

Android Devices Can Be Fatally Hacked By Malicious Wi-Fi Networks (arstechnica.com) 154

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: A broad array of Android phones is vulnerable to attacks that use booby-trapped Wi-Fi signals to achieve full device takeover, a researcher has demonstrated. The vulnerability resides in a widely used Wi-Fi chipset manufactured by Broadcom and used in both iOS and Android devices. Apple patched the vulnerability with Monday's release of iOS 10.3.1. "An attacker within range may be able to execute arbitrary code on the Wi-Fi chip," Apple's accompanying advisory warned. In a highly detailed blog post published Tuesday, the Google Project Zero researcher who discovered the flaw said it allowed the execution of malicious code on a fully updated 6P "by Wi-Fi proximity alone, requiring no user interaction." Google is in the process of releasing an update in its April security bulletin. The fix is available only to a select number of device models, and even then it can take two weeks or more to be available as an over-the-air update to those who are eligible. Company representatives didn't respond to an e-mail seeking comment for this post. The proof-of-concept exploit developed by Project Zero researcher Gal Beniamini uses Wi-Fi frames that contain irregular values. The values, in turn, cause the firmware running on Broadcom's wireless system-on-chip to overflow its stack. By using the frames to target timers responsible for carrying out regularly occurring events such as performing scans for adjacent networks, Beniamini managed to overwrite specific regions of device memory with arbitrary shellcode. Beniamini's code does nothing more than write a benign value to a specific memory address. Attackers could obviously exploit the same series of flaws to surreptitiously execute malicious code on vulnerable devices within range of a rogue access point.
The Almighty Buck

Amazon Launches Amazon Cash, a Way To Shop Its Site Without a Bank Card (techcrunch.com) 35

An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch: Amazon this morning announced the launch of Amazon Cash, a new service that allows consumers to add cash to their Amazon.com balance by showing a barcode at a participating retailer, then having the cash applied immediately to their online Amazon account. The service will support adding any amount between $15 and $500 in a single transaction, Amazon says. Amazon Cash will be available at brick-and-mortar retailers across the U.S., including CVS Pharmacy, Speedway, Sheetz, Kum & Go, D&W Fresh Market, Family Fare Supermarkets, and VG's Grocery. Other stores will be added in the future. The advantage to Amazon Cash is that, as soon as you checkout at the register, the funds are available in the customer's Amazon account. There are also no fees -- something that can't be said of all the prepaid cards on the market. However, Amazon isn't selling "Amazon Cash"-branded Gift Cards at stores -- instead, customers visit Amazon.com/cash from web or mobile, or search for "amazon cash" in the Amazon mobile app to access their Amazon Cash barcode. They can also navigate to "Manage Gift Card" balance to find the Amazon Cash barcode, as it's effectively connected Amazon's gift card functionality. That same barcode can be reused any time the customer wants to add more cash to their Amazon account. It can also be added to your Wallet app on iOS or as a homescreen shortcut on Android.
Movies

Netflix Now Lets You Download Videos Onto Your PC (pcworld.com) 60

Netflix now offers offline streaming via its Windows 10 PC application, meaning you'll have even more options wherever you're stuck without Internet access. From a report: Netflix added the offline viewing options as part of the most recent update to the Netflix app on Windows 10. Because the Windows Store doesn't show you what version of the Netflix app you're using, just make sure you check for updates using the large blue button in the upper-right corner of the Windows Store app to receive the latest version. You won't need the Creators Update to take advantage of the new feature, either. When you open the app, Netflix will show you a large splash screen that advertises the new "download and go" capability. Unfortunately, if you click the Find me something to download button, the Netflix app doesn't currently display a list of downloadable titles; you'll have to hunt them down yourself. Netflix introduced the same capability on iOS and Android late last year. It's a bold move by Netflix to bring this feature to desktop. There is always the risk of someone finding out a way to break the DRM and easily distribute the files.

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