Saturday, 24 February 2018

Samsung Max Launch to Replace Opera Max Data Protection

Opera Max was one of the best way to keep track of what apps were siphoning data in the background and keeping (some of) your privacy intact. Then Opera announced it was shuttering the app. There's a sliver of silver lining to that though: Samsung has stepped in and rescued the application from the great smartphone in the sky, renaming it to Samsung Max in the process. 

NOTE If you were a fan and using the app on something other than a Galaxy handset, you'll have to say goodbye once Max drops its Opera branding.

As VentureBeat reports, the application has gotten a bit of a UI refresh, but also isn't a VPN anymore. Instead, the app has a DNS masking feature that keeps your IP address intact. Samsung promises to keep updating Max's data-saving and privacy protection measures. The app will come pre-installed on certain devices in developing nations including Argentine, Brazil, India, Indonesia, Mexico, South Africa, Thailand and Vietnam.

Of all of Samsung's branded apps, this might be the most helpful and useful. After all, plenty of people already have a platform-agnostic mobile email client they like, or set of productivity apps. At least Max is useful for a broader set of users.

Samsung Galaxy S9 Video Leak Out - Watch Here

There is going to be a lot of novelties and innovations set to debut at Samsung’s Galaxy Unpacked 2018 event tomorrow. The only thing we were missing was a well-produced video running us through the new Galaxy S9’s features, and Samsung has kindly obliged — courtesy of its launch video, which managed to sneak out in public a little bit early.


“Reimagined.” is the tagline for the new device, which is set to be the first smartphone with a dual-aperture camera while keeping most of the other specs relatively unchanged from the predecessor Galaxy S8. 

The video shows a new built-in automatic translator in Samsung’s camera app, which looks to work very much like Google Translate’s option for live translation via the camera. The S9 is also IP68-rated for dust and water resistance, matching the S8 as expected. The new phone’s fingerprint sensor has shifted to a more sensible central position, the previously leaked DeX Pad is shown in use, and the conclusion of Samsung’s vid leans heavily into the idea of the S9 being a great business phone.

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Samsung Galaxy S9 Teases Video

 Only a few days left until the grand reveal, Samsung is stirring up excitement for its upcoming flagship phone, the Galaxy S9.

Samsung just released a handful of quick ads on its YouTube channel. While the ads may seem cryptic at first, they could hint at new camera features coming to the Galaxy S9. Take a look below.


Video: The first ad is a fast-paced action-packed short brimming with motion. Finally, the frenzied activity abruptly halts and you see a skydiver falling ever so slowly as the number 9 appears. See how the skydiver falls perfectly in the center of the number 9? It's just like it's mimicking a camera's lens. 

What it hints about the Galaxy S9: Samsung could emphasize lightning-quick focusing and camera capture for action shots, as well as a previously rumored super slow-motion video recording feature.


Video: Next up we get an ad filled with dark nighttime scenes, some with lights from a cityscape or a home, others in the woods with no visible light source around. At the very end, we see the silhouette of a deer that is lit up when the number 9 appears around its head, another reference to the camera shutter. 
What it hints about the Galaxy S9: Low-light photography is clearly the organizing theme to this video. Special low-light photography was rumored due to a new variable aperture lens that may be coming to the Galaxy S9.


Video: The third and final ad follows a very expressive guy through a handful of scenarios. It seems like his facial expressions are the focus of this video as he goes from pensive, to sad, to excited, and then happy. At the end of the video, the number 9 forms around his face and turns it into a little cartoon version of his mug. 

What it hints about the Galaxy S9: The teaser ties in perfectly with rumors of a "3D emoji" that mimics the iPhone X's Animoji, animated emoji that use the front-facing camera to copy your expressions, and style them as an emoji character. This clip suggests that the feature could turn you into an animated version of yourself, which you would then perhaps share with friends in texts or post online.

Camera quality is one of the top purchasing decisions for buyers looking for a new phone. Anything Samsung can do to meet or beat the iPhone X, Google Pixel 2 XL and any other device. Samsung's Galaxy Note 8 was the first of its phones to feature a dual-camera setup on the back. It's rumored that the Galaxy S9 Plus will follow suit.

Source: CNET

Friday, 9 February 2018

Android x86 7.1 R1 Presents Android 7.1 Nougat to Desktop PCs

Android x86 project aims to port Android to x86-based Windows PCs and Mac computers. It’s a full port of Android, instead of being more of an application player like other solutions. The last release of Android x86 brought a stable port of Android 6.0 Marshmallow back in September 2016, letting desktop users experience the Google Play Store, run Android apps, work with ADB, and more. Now, 7.1 R1 of the Android x86 project is available and it brings full Android 7.1 Nougat to x86 computers.

Although Android 7.1 Nougat was released back in October 2016, it has taken a while for Android x86 to develop a stable port of the operating system for x86 users. Release candidates of Android x86 7.1 were released on June and October, and now, the developers have released a stable port of Android 7.1 Nougat. The port is provided in ISO and rpm formats, so it can be installed as a virtual machine or as a full install on an x86 PC.

Here’s the changelog for Android x86 R1 compared to October’s release candidate:
  • Android-x86 installer was improved a lot including:
    • Create EFI boot entry to efibootmgr.
    • Add auto-installation function which is useful to install Android-x86 as the only one OS.
    • Provide more information on disk and partition selection menu.
    • Add advanced options to provide more boot options.
    • Save the last choice in grub2 menu.
  • Update kernel to the LTS kernel 4.9.80 with more patches from AOSP.
  • Add a new HAL for iio type sensors.
  • Show poweroff menu by ctrl-alt-del.
  • Fix a lot of bugs.
Although it may seem disappointing that the latest stable release of Android x86 is based on Android 7.1 Nougat and not Android Oreo, Android Nougat is still a fairly recent version of Android and developing a stable port of it for x86 PCs fulfills the needs of users who need to use Android on x86 PCs.

As it’s a stable port, critical components such as the Play Store work as they should, and for those needing to use the full version of Android on x86 instead of app players, Android x86 is a great choice. According to Android Police, the build even includes Taskbar as a launcher, which should make the desktop experience a tad sweeter thanks to freeform multi-window support.

Source: xda-developers

Qualcomm Rejects Second Broadcom Bid

Qualcomm isn’t shy of action - it is entangled in lawsuits, signs partnerships and memorandums with smartphone manufacturers and at the same time is being pursued by Broadcom with an aggressive takeover bid. Last week’s offer of $82 per share, $121 billion in total was declined today in a statement on the chipset company’s website.


The Board of Directors believes the second offer is not enough and suggests a meeting with Broadcom “to see if it can address the serious deficiencies in value and certainty in its proposal”. The letter also puts two questions on the table - what is the highest price Broadcom is willing to pay and is the company willing to commit to all the actions needed to ensure the transaction closes.

The questions suggests that the deal might still happen but a way higher price. And if it happens, both parties should be ready for “significant regulatory hurdles”. The eventual merger agreement might fail in the middle of the process and Qualcomm says the company will be “irreparably damaged” after such action.

Asus ZenFone 5 Max Phone Leak

Asus looks set to stroll into MWC 2018 with a handful of devices that succeed the ZenFone 4 range. Just last week we saw a ZenFone 5 phone rear its head in a Wi-Fi Alliance listing. Thanks to a newly leaked image, we now have a good idea what one of the 5-series devices will look like.

The diagram we’re looking at is apparently taken directly from an official manual and depicts a phone only referred to as the “Asus X00PD”. Based on the device’s height, which may have been extended to fit a larger battery, the folks over at WinFuture believe this is the ZenFone 5 Max.

Asus ZenFone Max Plus hands-on
Asus is one of the stranger companies when it comes to mobile devices. They often try to make super affordable handsets with incredibly competitive specs, but they don't go out of their way to try …

As well as enough room to house a chunky battery that potentially outdoes its predecessor, the image also appears to confirm that the ZenFone 5 Max, and most likely every ZenFone 5 device, will sport an elongated 18:9 aspect ratio display.

To make way for the estimated 5.7-inch screen, Asus has apparently shifted the fingerprint sensor to the handset’s rear – right next to a dual-camera unit with a vertical orientation that looks a lot like a certain iOS phone. There’s also a traditional 3.5mm jack for those that haven’t swapped over to wireless headphones just yet.

While the overall design looks neat enough for a possible mid-to-low-range device with a monster battery, there are a few quirks that hopefully don’t transfer over to the rest of the ZenFone 5 family.

The most notable is the device’s MicroUSB port instead of USB-C. Dual-sim and/or microSD card support also appears to be off the table. ZenFone 5 leaks allegedly showing non-Max models have previously shown these features for other models, but we’ll have to wait for official confirmation to be sure.

Spec-wise we’re also a bit in the dark. There have been several benchmark reports doing the rounds with the X00PD model number that list Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 430 SoC, but RAM, storage, and the phone’s all-important battery capacity rating are still unknown. On the plus side, every ZenFone 5-related leak has hinted that each device will be powered by Android 8.0 Oreo out-of-the-box.

Considering that the ZenFone 4 series only launched in the US just a few months ago, it could be a fair while before the ZenFone 5 family makes its debut in the region. We’ll no doubt hear a little more at MWC, and Android Authority will be there bringing you the news live from the show.

Xiaomi Mi7 With 8GB Ram

The Xiaomi Mi7 is expected to be unveiled in MWC 2018 though it is possible that the Mi MIX 2s is showcased in place of the former. A recently leaked screenshot of the phone shows that it will have 8GB of RAM and a massive 4,480mAh battery. This will be a monumental upgrade from the Mi6, which features 4 or 6GB RAM and a 3,350mAh cell.

According to more leaked information, the phone will be powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 845. A dual-camera setup (16MP and 16MP) will be seen on the phone as well, with the screen being a 5.6-inch full HD+ resolution display. The storage in the image can be seen as 128GB but it is more than possible that we see a 256GB variant being released too.

The leaked screenshot also shows that the interface vision is MIUI 8.1 30x, which indicates that the build is from January 30 is not an old UI version. Xiaomi updated 40 of its devices, including some 5-year old Mi phones to MIUI 9, so it won’t make sense for Mi7 to run on an older UI version.

The Xiaomi Mi7 could also be the first phone from the company to sport wireless charging and is rocking a near bezel-less design. This is going to be an impressive-looking and feeling phone and before we forget, it could come with a very affordable price tag.

Thursday, 8 February 2018

Review: Sony Xperia XA2 Ultra

The ultimate dual selfie camera smartphone with an impressive 6” display made for big-screen entertainment. 

In addition to its 23MP main camera, the Xperia XA2 Ultra packs two selfie cameras, so you can capture any moment in perfect clarity, day or night, alone or with a group of friends.  

The Xperia XA2 Ultra’s edge-to-edge design gives you more of the entertainment you love for a fuller watching experience. Immerse yourself in your favourite shows, movies and games wherever you go, with a huge full HD display.

With a 3,580 mAh charge capacity, the Xperia XA2 Ultra gives you power you can rely on. Our Smart Stamina, Qnovo Adaptive Charging, and Battery Care technologies all work to monitor your battery’s performance, so you can stay powered up for longer.  

32GB / 64GB eMMC internal memory1
microSDXC support (up to 256GB)
Single SIM
Dual SIM
Nano SIM
Google Android™ O
Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 630 Mobile Platform
3580 mAh
Qnovo Adaptive Charging
Battery Care
Smart STAMINA Mode
Quick Charging (Qualcomm® Quick Charge™ 3.0)2
Corning® Gorilla® Glass
163 x 80 x 9.5mm
6" full HD 1080p
Image Enhance Technology
1/2.3” Exmor RS™ for mobile image sensor
Hybrid Autofocus
Quick Launch & Capture
Low-light photo: ISO12800
84° wide-angle F2.0 lens
5x Clear Image Zoom
4K video recording
120fps slow-motion video recording
Dual Selfie camera with flash: 16MP OIS + 8MP 120° super wide-angle
16MP with OIS (Optical Image Stabilizer)
1/2.6" ExmorRS for mobile
Low-light photo: up to ISO 6400
88° wide-angle lens F2.0
8MP 120° super wide-angle
1/4" Exmor R for mobile™ for mobile image sensor
Low-light photo: up to ISO 3200
120° super wide-angle lens F2.4
LTE (4G) Cat13/Cat12
WiFi Miracast
Bluetooth® 5 wireless technology
Google Cast
USB Type-C™
Fast and secure unlock
Clear Audio+
Stereo Recording
Bluetooth® 5 wireless technology, aptX / A2DP
FM radio
Qualcomm® aptX™ HD audio 4
Movie Creator
AR effect
Xperia Lounge
Style Cover Stand SCSH20
Quick Charger UCH12W
Mono Bluetooth® Headset MBH20

5G Phones in 2019 - LG, HTC, Oppo and Sony Plans

A handful of smartphone makers are announcing plans to have 5G-ready phones by 2019. Among them: HTC, LG, Sony, and Oppo who will be among the first to adopt Qualcomm's ultra-fast Snapdragon X50 modem.

In total, 19 manufacturers have signed on to make 5G-compatible devices using the X50 in 2019. For consumers, that means there will be at least a handful of 5G-enabled devices on the market next year, in time for the first rollout of commercial 5G networks. 

On that front, Qualcomm also announced Thursday that 19 carriers, including AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint, will start testing 5G networks using the X50 modem next year.

Even so, 5G coverage still won't be widespread anytime soon — most experts agree 2020 is the earliest it could happen — even though carriers are beginning to make progress. But the fact that so many hardware makers are willing to commit to Qualcomm's 5G chips in 2019 is certainly a positive sign.

Put it all together and it's a significant milestone on the long journey to 5G. 
Qualcomm originally introduced the X50, which enables lightning-fast gigabit-speed connections, in 2016. At the time, the company said it hoped to have devices on the market by 2018, but that timing didn't pan out.

But now that so many carriers and device makers have come on board, Qualcomm is now closer than ever to making its 5G plans a reality.

Google Chrome Will be Labelling HTTP Sites Not Secure From July

When you talked about a company that strive to make internet a safe zone google always comes first. For years, it’s campaigned against unsecured HTTP sites that solicit sensitive information like payment details, and in 2015 began prioritizing websites that use HTTPS — an encrypted alternative to HTTP — in Google Search. And starting July 2018 with Google Chrome 68, Google will begin designating unencrypted websites “Not secure” with a label in the address bar.

Google began labeling HTTP pages with password or credit card form fields as “not secure” in January with Chrome 56, and recently brought the “not secure” label to Chrome’s Incognito mode. But in Chrome 68, it’ll show the “Not secure” tag by default on all unencrypted websites.

The idea is to keep users aware of where they are on the internet and whether it’s safe to submit sensitive information. “For the past several years, we’ve moved toward a more secure web by strongly advocating for HTTPS encryption, and helped users to understand that HTTP sites are not secure,” Google said in  a blog post. “Developers transitioning their sites to HTTPS have made the web safer for everyone.”

Thanks to the efforts of developers who’ve transitioned their sites to HTTPS, over 68 percent of all Google Chrome traffic on Android and Windows is protected, Google says, and over 78 percent of all Chrome traffic on Chrome OS and Mac. What’s more, 81 of the top 100 sites on the internet use HTTPS.

It caps off a year of incredible progress. As of October 2017 in Japan, HTTPS traffic surged from 31 percent to 55 percent, according to Google, and in Brazil, it rose from 50 percent to 66 percent.

With the wealth of available documentation about HTTPS, there’s no reason developers shouldn’t adopt it, really. It’s cheaper and easier than ever before, thanks in part to efforts like Let’s Encrypt, a free and automated certificate authority, and Google’s SSL for Google App Engine. There are also tools like Lighthouse, the latest version of which identifies website resources which are ready to be upgraded to HTTPS, and Google-made guides to moving sites to HTTPS.

“Chrome’s new interface will help users understand that all HTTP sites are not secure, and continue to move the web towards a secure HTTPS web by default,” Google said. “Chrome is dedicated to building a better web that provides secure and safe experiences for our users.”

Source: xda-developers

Huawei P20 With Tri-Camera

Huawei P20 is actually really going to ship three cameras instead of the typical two. This is thanks to Chinese case maker, Lenuo, who leaked a render of the hotly-anticipated flagship.

The Huawei P20, or at least the most premium type in this release, is going to sport a tri-camera system that will most likely have Leica branding. The three cameras arranged in a vertical fashion. What’s more, the Huawei P20’s front system will have sensors that house what is called Point Cloud Depth Camera, which can unlock superior facial recognition and a possible Animoji-like feature—making the P20 an obvious competitor to the iPhone X.

The Huawei P20 is  to be unveiled in Paris on March 27, along with other releases from the company.

LEAKED: Vivo Bezel-Less Flagship Phone Online

The vivo X30 allegedly leaked with full bezel-less front, then later a live image of the eventual vivo Xplay 7 was revealed by Weibo without a notch. Now a new image has appeared online with a little improved credibility, purported to be the either the Xplay 7 or vivo X30.


The phone pictured appears to be the same as the one in the live image from Monday – vivo’s Funhouse user interface, and slightly thicker bottom bezel that might host the selfie camera, similar to what Xiaomi did with the Mi Mix back in 2016.

vivo has already been seen implementing a fingerprint scanner under the screen, so it is a safe bet to say this phone will have the technology as well, meaning the display with rounded corners is most likely an OLED panel.

Leaked slides from last month suggest vivo is aiming to launch a phone with 4K screen resolution, Snapdragon 845 and 256/512 GB storage.

Singapore MAS Confirms Not to Ban Crypto Currency

Singapore's deputy prime minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam provided new commentary on the government’s commitment “not to ban” cryptocurrency as part of its future regulatory plans.


In a series of fourteen statements published Monday, Feb. 5 in response to questions posed by members of parliament Tuesday, Tharman Shanmugaratnam, deputy prime minister and minister in charge of regulatory body the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), confirmed a broadly hands-off policy regarding cryptocurrencies going forward.

“...(MAS) has been closely studying these developments and the potential risks they pose. As of now, there is no strong case to ban cryptocurrency trading here,” the deputy PM said.

“But we will be subjecting those involved as intermediaries to our anti-money laundering regulations. And we will keep highlighting to Singaporeans that they could lose their shirts when they invest money in cryptocurrencies.”

Like Japan, Singapore has highlighted itself as a permissive environment for both cryptocurrency and Blockchain innovation over the past few years.

In stark contrast to China and Indonesia, the city-state has favored Blockchain in particular as part of its bid to become a global hub for the technology.

Addressing the disparity between Singapore and its neighbors, Shanmugaratnam noted that volumes involved were comparatively small and exposure to the financial system correspondingly insignificant.

“For now, the nature and scale of cryptocurrency trading in Singapore does not pose risks to the safety and integrity of our financial system,” he continued.

    “...Further, connections between cryptocurrency trading and Singapore’s financial system are also not significant at present. Singapore’s banking system does not have any signficant (sic) exposure to global and local entities dealing in cryptocurrencies. We hence do not have broader, systemic risk concerns with regard to cryptocurrencies.”

Last month, MAS managing director Ravi Menon sounded similarly bullish on crypto’s future when he went on record to mainstream media to say he hoped assets and their underlying technology would survive a major crash.

Google Facing Lawsuit Over Original Microphone Pixel

In a class action complaint filed this week, plaintiffs allege that the microphones in their Pixel and Pixel XL phones were defective from the start, and that Google knowingly sold defective phones amid widespread complaints immediately after launch. The lawsuit also claims that some warranty replacement phones continued to have problems, though neither of the named plaintiffs in the lawsuit had their phones repaired within Google’s standard warranty period.

Google acknowledged the Pixel phones’ microphone issues in March 2017. An employee on Google’s support forums attributed the problems to “a hairline crack in the solder connection on the audio codec,” and said the problem can come and go depending on the temperature of the phone or the way it’s being held. “This is especially frustrating as a user because, just when you think you’ve got it fixed, the problem randomly comes back,” the Google employee wrote. This might explain why one of the plaintiffs didn’t seek a repair until more than a year after buying the phone.

Hardware defects have been a recurring theme for Google’s Pixel phones, which have otherwise won praise for their excellent cameras and unadulterated Android software. Pixel 2 and XL2 users have complained of burn-in and black image smudging with the phones’ OLED displays, along with muted microphone problems. Girard Gibbs LLP, the same law firm that’s suing Google over the original Pixel, is looking into a class action suit over the second-generation model as well.

In response to Pixel 2 complaints, Google extended customers’ standard warranties to two years. No such courtesy exists for original Pixel owners.

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

iPhone, Services, Mac and Apple Watch Set All-Time Records - First Quarter Results

Apple today announced financial results for its fiscal 2017 first quarter ended December 31, 2016. The Company posted all-time record quarterly revenue of $78.4 billion and all-time record quarterly earnings per diluted share of $3.36. These results compare to revenue of $75.9 billion and earnings per diluted share of $3.28 in the year-ago quarter. International sales accounted for 64 percent of the quarter’s revenue.

“We’re thrilled to report that our holiday quarter results generated Apple’s highest quarterly revenue ever, and broke multiple records along the way. We sold more iPhones than ever before and set all-time revenue records for iPhone, Services, Mac and Apple Watch,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “Revenue from Services grew strongly over last year, led by record customer activity on the App Store, and we are very excited about the products in our pipeline.”
“Our outstanding business performance resulted in a new all-time record for earnings per share, and over $27 billion in operating cash flow,” said Luca Maestri, Apple’s CFO. “We returned nearly $15 billion to investors through share repurchases and dividends during the quarter, bringing cumulative payments through our capital return program to over $200 billion.”
Apple is providing the following guidance for its fiscal 2017 second quarter:
  • revenue between $51.5 billion and $53.5 billion
  • gross margin between 38 percent and 39 percent
  • operating expenses between $6.5 billion and $6.6 billion
  • other income/(expense) of $400 million
  • tax rate of 26 percent

Apple’s board of directors has declared a cash dividend of $0.57 per share of the Company’s common stock.  The dividend is payable on February 16, 2017 to shareholders of record as of the close of business on February 13, 2017. 

Apple will provide live streaming of its Q1 2017 financial results conference call beginning at 2:00 p.m. PST/11:00 p.m. CET on January 31, 2017 at This webcast will also be available for replay for approximately two weeks thereafter.
This press release contains forward-looking statements including without limitation those about the Company’s estimated revenue, gross margin, operating expenses, other income/(expense), and tax rate. These statements involve risks and uncertainties, and actual results may differ. 
Risks and uncertainties include without limitation the effect of competitive and economic factors, and the Company’s reaction to those factors, on consumer and business buying decisions with respect to the Company’s products; continued competitive pressures in the marketplace; the ability of the Company to deliver to the marketplace and stimulate customer demand for new programs, products, and technological innovations on a timely basis; the effect that product introductions and transitions, changes in product pricing or mix, and/or increases in component costs could have on the Company’s gross margin; the inventory risk associated with the Company’s need to order or commit to order product components in advance of customer orders; the continued availability on acceptable terms, or at all, of certain components and services essential to the Company’s business currently obtained by the Company from sole or limited sources; the effect that the Company’s dependency on manufacturing and logistics services provided by third parties may have on the quality, quantity or cost of products manufactured or services rendered; risks associated with the Company’s international operations; the Company’s reliance on third-party intellectual property and digital content; the potential impact of a finding that the Company has infringed on the intellectual property rights of others; the Company’s dependency on the performance of distributors, carriers and other resellers of the Company’s products; the effect that product and service quality problems could have on the Company’s sales and operating profits; the continued service and availability of key executives and employees; war, terrorism, public health issues, natural disasters, and other circumstances that could disrupt supply, delivery, or demand of products; and unfavorable results of legal proceedings. 
More information on potential factors that could affect the Company’s financial results is included from time to time in the “Risk Factors” and “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” sections of the Company’s public reports filed with the SEC, including the Company’s Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended September 24, 2016 and its Form 10-Q for the fiscal quarter ended December 31, 2016 to be filed with the SEC. The Company assumes no obligation to update any forward-looking statements or information, which speak as of their respective dates.

Amazon Removes Locks Screen Ads From Phones

About two years ago, Amazon launched its Prime Exlusive program with discounted prices on smartphones for those who accepted lock screen ads and offers. These were rather unobtrusive and saved customers $50 to $150.

As from tomorrow, Amazon is evolving the program so that there will no longer be lock screen offers and ads as an option. Those with an Amazon Prime Exclusive phone will receive a free update, starting this week, that will remove existing lock screen offers and ads.

Amazon recognizes the customers rely on phone manufacturers lock screens for security such as facial recognition, as well as using the lock screen for personalization.

Amazon will still offer smartphones through the Prime Exclusive program with discounted prices for unlocked phones. Prime members will still enjoy a single sign-on experience, have access to pre-installed Amazon apps and services, take advantage of free unlimited photo storage through Prime Photos, and more.

There are currently some solid smartphone options available on the Prime Exclusive Phones site, and these prices will change tomorrow.

For instance, the LG G6+ is currently priced at $651.56 for the version without ads, while the offers and ads model is just $499.99. Amazon confirmed that it will continue offering discounted prices on certain unlocked Android phones, paired with easy access to Prime benefits for Prime members. It will still offer a discount off of the list price, increasing the price of every current Prime Exclusive Phone in the portfolio by $20. That should make the LG G6+ only $519.99, which is still a great value for this smartphone.

Source: zdnet

Chrome OS Will be Getting a Display Size Slider in Settings

Display density, which is measured in dots per inch (DPI), determines the size of interface elements on a given device’s screen. Higher display densities increase the resolution (in pixels) relative to the device’s size (in inches), resulting in a greater number of elements being squeezed into a smaller space. Lower screen densities make interface elements larger. 

For a while, Android didn’t have software-adjustable display density. That changed in Android Nougat, which introduced a display size adjustment tool that allowed users to change display size on the fly without having to resort to ADB. Unfortunately, Google’s other operating system, Chrome OS, hasn’t followed suit with a display slider of its own. However, a commit in the Chromium Gerrit shows that Google might be planning to implement one in the near future.

Implements a Display size slider in settings
This patch adds a slider to adjust the size or zoom of a display from
chrome display settings page. The slider is hidden behind a command line switch which can be toggled from the chrome experiments page.
Adds a check on the API to ensure the values are not abused are always
within reasonable bounds. Added tests for the same.
This patch also updates the minimum allowed device scale factor for a
display from 1.0f to 0.5f.
When the commit is merged, Chrome OS users will be able to adjust the size of elements on the screen with a simple slider in the settings menu. It’s sure to improve the Chrome OS user experience.

Source: xda-developers

Android Oreo Now on More than 1% of Devices While Android Nougat top the Chart

Google updated its Developers dashboards with the February 2018 Android platform distribution numbers. As always, they’re not 100 percent accurate, but they give a pretty good idea of where Android stands right now.

Android 8.X Oreo accounted for more than 1 percent of the active Android user base this past month, while Android 7.X Nougat took the lead as the most-used version of Android.
Oreo now accounts for 1.1 percent of all active devices, according to Google, up from 0.7 percent in January. (It might sound tiny, but considering that there are more than 2 billion active devices Android devices in the wild, that’s millions of users.)

Android Version January 2018 February 2018
Android Gingerbread 0.4% 0.3%
Android Ice Cream Sandwich 0.5% 0.4%
Android Jelly Bean 5.6% 5%
Android KitKat 12.8% 12%
Android Lollipop 25.1% 24.6%
Android Marshmallow 28.6% 28.1%
Android Nougat 26.3% 28.5%
Android Oreo 0.7% 1.1%

Android 7.X Nougat took the lead with a 28.5 percent share, up from 26.3 percent the previous month. It slotted right above Android 6.0 Marshmallow, which was running on 28.1 percent of devices (from 28.6 percent) queried in the report.

Next on the list is Android 5.X Lollipop, which held strong with 24.6 percent of the Android device user base (compared to 25.1 percent in January). Android KitKat paled in comparison with 12 percent (from 12.8 percent), and Android Jelly Bean fell to 5 percent (from 5.6 percent) of active devices. Android 4.0.X Ice Cream Sandwich, meanwhile, represented just 0.4 percent of Android phones and tablets in January, and Android 2.3.X Gingerbread took 0.3 percent of the market.

As always, Google’s Android distribution numbers come with a bit of a caveat: The data is only representative of devices that visited the Google Play Store during the 7-day period ending on February 5, 2018. (Any phones and tablets that were turned off during the first week weren’t counted, for example.) And Android versions that account for less than 0.1 percent of the active user base are left out, which is why Froyo isn’t in chart anymore, for example.

Source: xda-developers

Monday, 5 February 2018

LLOYDS Bank UK Blocks Bitcoin Purchases With Credit Card

Credit card issuers fear that people will fall into debts that they will have to shoulder if they buy crypto and the prices continue to fall. Bitcoin has taken a battering this year, falling over 50% from $17,000 in early January to around $8,000 today.


Lloyds Banking Group will make the announcement to its 9 million credit card customers today. According to reports, the bank will block any attempts to buy cryptocurrencies using credit cards. However, debit cards are still accepted. In an email, a company spokesperson said:

    Across Lloyds Bank, Bank of Scotland, Halifax and MBNA, we do not accept credit card transactions involving the purchase of cryptocurrencies.

The banking giant is the first in the UK to clamp down on its customer’s credit cards and purchasing power. This could further exacerbate the fall in prices as it has just become a little harder to buy crypto. The banks, not wanting to finance a falling knife, are already anti-crypto as decentralized money goes against their business model.

The move follows a wave of regulation across the world from governments which want to prevent digital currencies being used for criminal activities. Contrary to a number of misleading reports in the mainstream media, there has been no ban on trading or exchanges in India or South Korea.

Across the pond, banks are following suit. Three major US banks are taking a similar stance with announcements last week. JPMorgan Chase & Co., Bank of America Corp., and Citigroup Inc. have all stated that they will no longer allow crypto to be purchased with a credit card.

Using a credit card carries a much higher risk, and the banks are making efforts to mitigate this by forcing their customers to use their own money to purchase virtual currencies. Banks are also concerned that customers will be spending more than they can actually afford, which is far easier when it is not their money!

Android Oreo Update For Sony Xperia X and the Xperia X Compact

The Sony Xperia X and the Sony Xperia X Compact launched with Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow back in 2016. In 2017, both phones received an upgrade to Android 7.1.1 Nougat, and the age of the devices hasn’t stopped Sony from supporting them with new software. 

This week, the Xperia X and Xperia X Compact started receiving Android 8.0 Oreo-based firmware with the build number 34.4.A.0.364 (from 34.3.A.0.252), which includes features like picture-in-picture mode, Autofill, Smart Text Selection, background app limiting, Notification Dots, and new emoji.

The Xperia X and Xperia X Compact might be nearly two years old, but their specs are nothing to scoff at. Both phones have Qualcomm Snapdragon 650 system-on-chips, 3GB of RAM, and battery capacities slightly less than 3,000mAh (the Xperia X Compact has a 2,700mAh battery, and the Xperia X has a 2,620mAh battery). The real difference between them is the screen sizes — the Xperia X Compact, which has a smaller form factor, has a smaller, lower-resolution screen (4.6 inches, 720p). The Xperia X, on the other hand, has a 5-inch Full HD screen.

The phones’ other highlights include 23MP rear cameras, fingerprint scanners, and compatibility with Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 3.0 rapid charging tech.

If you’ve got an Xperia X or Xperia X Compact lying around and you’re looking to try out the Oreo update, head to the Settings menu, scroll to About phone, and check for the new firmware manually. 


Saturday, 3 February 2018

Honor 8 Pro and Honor 9 Receiving Android 8.0 Oreo Update

The Honor 8 Pro and 9 have started receiving the Android 8.0 Oreo update via OTA in India. The update includes EMUI 8.0, which is the name of the custom skin of Android used by Honor in its phones.

Android Oreo is coming to the Honor 8 Pro and Honor 9
Android Oreo is coming to the Honor 8 Pro and Honor 9

The Oreo update will bring with it several Android Oreo-specific features like picture-in-picture mode, notification dots and more, reports Android Authority. The report also adds that the Honor 8 Pro will receive the update first, followed by the Honor 9 a little later.

Interestingly, the previous version of EMUI was version 5.1, and Honor seems to have bumped up the version number to 8.0 to avoid confusion. This is certainly appreciated as it certainly brings more clarity to the version of Android you’re running.

The Honor 8 Pro launched in April last year, offering a 5.7-inch 2K screen and a HiSilicon Kirin 960 based chipset with up to 6 GB of RAM and accompanied by a 12 MP dual camera setup on the rear. At the time of launch, it seemed like a worthy rival to the OnePlus 5.

The Honor 9 features a 5.15-inch HD display, the same Kirin 960 and up to 6 GB of RAM. The rear camera setup is also a similar dual 12 MP unit. The phone was released in July.
Both phones now join the recently launched Honor View 10 in boasting of an Android 8.0 Oreo-based OS.

How to Update Samsung Galaxy S8/S8+ and Note8 Leaked Snapdragon Android Oreo Build With February Security Patches

New leaked versions of Samsung’s Android Oreo update for the Galaxy S8, Galaxy S8+, and Note8 have been posted online. These builds are not beta builds, but release candidate builds although they may not be officially pushed. This version of Oreo contains this month’s February security patch. We cannot say what has been patched in this month’s security update as neither Samsung nor Google have posted their security update bulletins for February yet.
Regardless, you might want to get on these security updates as soon as you can. It feels like every month a new major vulnerability is uncovered. BlueBorne, KRACK, and Spectre/Meltdown have all been unveiled in the past 5 months, so we wouldn’t be surprised if the February patch fixes some critical vulnerability that hasn’t yet been disclosed.

Fortunately, these builds are able to be installed from the stock Samsung recovery, and they are 100% safe to install. You can install it by first flashing version BQL1 with the latest Odin tool on the Samsung Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+, and flashing version BRA8 on the Samsung Galaxy Note8.

To do this, you download the files from the links below and place them in their respective categories in Odin based on the file names, and then boot into recovery and apply the update over ADB or from your SD Card. This will erase the data on your phone so if you update, make sure to back up first. You can use either Samsung Cloud on your phone or Samsung Smart Switch on your computer. Here are some step-by-step instructions:

  1. First, download and put the file, linked below, onto your SD Card.
  2. On your computer download the Odin files linked above. In the zip you will see six files. In Odin, you will see 5 categories, though you will only use 3.
  3. Put your phone into Odin mode by turning it off then holding Power + Volume Down + Bixby button.
  4. In Odin, put the corresponding BL, AP, CP, CSC (ignore HOME_CSC), but nothing in UMS.
  5. Hit start.
  6. Your phone will flash the new firmware and then reboot to the setup screen.
  7. After you do this, shut off your phone then reboot into recovery by holding Power + Volume Up + Bixby.
  8. Use the volume buttons and power to select “apply update from SD card.”
  9. Use the volume buttons again to select the file and the power button to select it. The update will then start.
  10. It can take from 2 to 10 minutes to install the update. After this just set up your phone like normal.

Samsung Galaxy S8 Oreo Update Schduled For February Ending

We’ve received a tip from one of our readers in the Maghreb region of North Africa (comprised of Algeria, Morocco Tunisia, Libya and Mauritania), who got in touch with Samsung’s customer care to ask when the Oreo update would arrive for the Galaxy S8. The response? The end of February is when the Galaxy S8 Oreo update is scheduled to arrive.

 Now, this doesn’t mean everyone will have to wait so long, but it does seem that despite the wider availability of the Oreo beta, Samsung will still be taking its sweet time to make the final update available in all regions.

What’s worse is that the official Oreo update still hasn’t started rolling out, so the global rollout may not complete until the end of 2018’s first quarter. Which, coincidentally, would be around the time the Galaxy S9 and S9+ will go up for pre-order and, subsequently, on sale. Samsung has held on to a major OS update for an existing flagship until the arrival of the new flagship in some markets before, and it may well be gearing up to do the same this time around. Maybe not deliberately, but it looks like it’s bound to happen given the current scenario.

For more on Android 8.0 Oreo for Samsung devices, peruse the links below, and hope that the end of February doesn’t turn out to be the ETA for the first wave of the Oreo update!

Source: Sammobile

Avoid Snapchat Ban - how To

Snapchat is not like the rest social media apps and networks, has to self-regulate. This is done to prevent spam and trolling and harassment, or to punish users for violating a content policy. It’s necessary if social apps and platforms want to retain users. 

Snapchat doesn’t have an option to report users like Facebook and Twitter do. It lets you block people but that’s about it. You can’t report a user so any time a user is banned on Snapchat, it’s at the app’s discretion. That’s not to say that Snapchat goes around banning people at random. A Snapchat ban targets users who violate the terms of service and/or misuse the app.

Snapchat Ban Wave
Snapchat doesn’t proactively ban users. If you’re violating its terms, chances are you’ll get away with it for a while. Large scale blanket bans are enforced in waves and if you aren’t doing anything too crazy, you might even slip through until the next wave hits. Between waves, you can stop your infractions and your account will not be suspended in the next round of bans.

Reasons Snapchat Bans You
Snapchat bans you for three main reasons;
  • Sending spam, and engaging in abusive behavior
  • Adding too many friends with an unverified phone or email
  • Using third-party apps and plug-ins
Using a rooted or jailbroken device does not result in a ban.

Avoiding The Snapchat Ban
It’s not that hard to avoid getting banned on Snapchat. Make sure you verify your phone number and/or email and don’t spam users or harass them. Honestly, the guidelines aren’t that hard to follow. The real guideline that users have trouble with is the third-party app or plugin one.

There are apps that allow you to use Snapchat and override some of its security features. For example, some apps and tweaks let you take screenshots of snaps or even save snaps without the other person knowing. This is a clear violation of Snapchat’s terms of service. Snapchat++ is a popular app that, if used, will get you banned. It lets you view a snap without the user knowing and it lets you keep snaps open indefinitely.

Any app or plugin that advertises itself as a way to get around a Snapchat feature is violating the app’s terms of service. You shouldn’t use it. It’s not illegal in the sense that you’ll end up in prison but it will result in a ban.

Appealing A Snapchat Ban
Snapchat doesn’t have an appeal process however, it doesn’t implement a permanent ban right off the bat. It suspends your account for 24 hours. If you’re locked out, you should wait that long before trying to sign in again.

If after 24 hours, you’re unable to sign in you’ve been given a harsher ban. Still, it isn’t permanent yet. If you’re using any third-party apps or plugins, remove them immediately and visit this page to login to your account.

If you continue to spam users, harass users, or use third-party apps you will be permanently banned and there is no way around it.

How to Change Your Apple ID Free

Finally you can now change your Apple ID country without having to enter a payment method. The change, it seems, has been made in iOS 11. You don’t need to jailbreak your device and the change is instant. 

Here is how it works.

Change Apple ID Country
Open the Settings app and go to iTunes & App Store. Assuming you’re already signed into the account you want to change the country for, tap your Apple ID email. A menu will appear with several options. Tap the View Account option. Enter your account password, or authenticate with Touch ID or Face ID.
Next, tap Country/Region. The Country/Region screen has only option; Change Country or Region. Tap it. A list of supported countries will appear. Select the country you want to change your Apple ID to.

You will be shown a new EULA which you have to accept before you can proceed. Once you’ve accepted the EULA, you’ll be taken to the payment details screen. Here, select the ‘None’ option, fill in the street address for the new country (you can fake this), and tap done.

That’s all it takes. The change takes affect right away and it’s just as easy to change it back. Apple recently added Paypal as a payment method and that alone allowed a lot of users to change their Apple ID country. The Paypal account worked across multiple countries and regions so it served as the valid payment method that was needed to switch countries.

Now, the need to enter a valid payment method has been removed altogether. Instead, you can just choose the ‘None’ option and you’re good to go.

Adding Payment Method
If you do need to add a payment method after you change the Apple ID country, you will need a payment method that is valid in the country your Apple ID is now tied to. Apple has made it easy to change the Apple ID country but it cannot change the requirements for a valid payment method. Without a valid payment method, you can use your Apple ID to download free apps only.

Before Apple allowed users to change the Apple ID country on the fly, users had to create separate accounts for each country store they wanted to download apps from. The only way around this was to have a valid payment method for the country you were switching to.

Now all we need is for Google to wise up and let Android users do the same for the Google Play store.

Japanese FSA Had Asked Coincheck before 530 Million Dollar Cyber theft

Japan's financial regulator on Friday swooped on Coincheck Inc with surprise checks of its systems and said it had asked the Tokyo-based Coincheck to fix flaws before $530 million cyber theft exchange to fix flaws in its computer networks well before hackers stole $530 million of digital money last week.


Security gaps in Coincheck's systems were among the reasons the exchange had not been given official approval to operate, the Financial Services Agency said. Coincheck had been allowed by the regulator to operate pending registration.

The comments came after 10 FSA officials conducted surprise checks on Coincheck's office on Friday morning, as authorities stepped up efforts to pin down how hackers pulled off one of the world's biggest cyber heists.

The inspection, launched at 8 a.m. on Friday (2300 GMT Thursday), focused on compensation for customers, financial conditions and system management at the exchange, and Coincheck's efforts on consumer protection, a senior FSA official said.

Coincheck has said the virtual coins were stored in a "hot wallet" instead of the more secure "cold wallet," which operates on platforms not directly connected to the internet. The exchange was also not using an extra layer of security known as a multi-signature system.

The regulator's knowledge of flaws in Coincheck's systems before the theft will likely draw further focus on Japan's approach to regulating cryptocurrency exchanges.

Japan last year became the first country to regulate exchanges at the national level - a move that won praise for boosting innovation and protecting consumers, contrasting sharply with crackdowns in South Korea and China.

The theft highlights the vulnerabilities in trading an asset that policymakers are struggling to regulate, as well as the broader risks for Japan as it aims to leverage the fintech industry to stimulate economic growth.

The FSA earlier this week issued a business improvement order to Coincheck and said it would investigate all cryptocurrency exchanges in Japan for security gaps following the hack.

The regulator said on Friday it had ordered all cryptocurrency exchanges to submit a report on their system risk management.

Coincheck had been ordered to submit a report on the hack and measures for preventing a recurrence by Feb. 13. But Friday's surprise inspection was conducted ahead of the deadline to "ensure protection of users," Finance Minister Taro Aso told reporters.

The FSA has already conducted an interview-based hearing with Coincheck but questions remain, a source with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters on Friday.

In 2014, Tokyo-based Mt. Gox, which once handled 80 percent of the world's bitcoin trades, filed for bankruptcy after losing bitcoins worth nearly half a billion dollars to a hacking attack. More recently, South Korean cryptocurrency exchange Youbit shut down and filed for bankruptcy after being hacked twice last year.


Coincheck said on Sunday it would repay about 46.3 billion yen ($425 million) of the virtual money. The FSA has said it had yet to confirm whether the company had sufficient funds for the reimbursement.

Coincheck has turned over communication records to police in Tokyo investigating the heist, the Nikkei business daily said on Thursday. A Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department spokesman declined to comment.

Authorities in several countries are also investigating last week's heist involving the NEM cryptocurrency, a member of the foundation behind the digital coin said on Thursday.

Last year's explosive rise in the value of digital coins and the flood of new retail investors drawn to the market have rattled global regulators nervous about a sector used largely for speculation. Officials have said cryptocurrencies are used by criminals to launder money.

Bitcoin, the world's largest cryptocurrency, skidded 11% on Thursday to its lowest since November, as a Facebook ban on cryptocurrency adverts and a growing regulatory backlash against the nascent market frightened investors.

Bitcoin extended its slide to $8,639 on Friday after skidding a day earlier to as low as $9,022 on the Luxembourg-based Bitstamp exchange, less than half the peak price of almost $20,000 it reached in December.