• Tips

    by Published on 11-13-2020 08:45 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Tips

    One thing I didn't mention about my new commodity smartphone is that it's my first Android phone in many years running without root access. Now I'm not going to be one of those apologists with excuses like "I need my device to work all the time", or "I stopped rooting back in 2013"... Nope, the honest truth is that the process of getting and keeping root has gotten to be enough of a hassle that I've lost the fight.

    I've actually been sitting on this post for a couple of weeks, thinking how it could possibly be of any value to you, an Android user, who statistically has almost never bothered with root. At best, this will hopefully give you the opportunity to reflect on your personal data; at worst, it will be a grim reminder of what we're all giving up.

    The Good:

    Far and away the best thing about being an Android peasant (sorry, still coming to terms with this) is having a clean boot screen like this. Once upon a time phones with unlocked bootloaders would display a simple and instructive open lock graphic at the bottom of the screen; that has long since been replaced by an over-the-top warning that your device has been compromised and that everybody dies if you proceed.

    Jokes aside, it's not hard to see the importance of a clear warning for someone inheriting a secondhand device from someone they don't necessarily know or trust. But I also think there could have been a better compromise for owners who know what they're doing.

    The Bad:

    Wow, it's like I'm looking into a mirror!

    For me the bad (but not worst) thing about Android without root is the constant barrage of ads. I personally would steer clear of VPN-based solutions like AdGuard or Blokada, simply because your traffic is being routed through points unknown. Instead, here are two easy fixes:

    1. Browser-based ads can go away by replacing Chrome with a different default browser. DuckDuckGo and Firefox with the uBlock Origin plugin are what I use.

    2. For apps and games where ads don't somehow improve the experience (I'm thinking specifically of games where watching an ad gives you an extra life or something) you might actually want to reward the developers for their efforts and, you know, actually pay for the app or game.

    The Ugly:

    And finally, the bitterest pill... Android without root means that I no longer have direct access to the data generated by my installed apps. It might be as trivial as login details for a particular service, or as critical as the database of collected WhatsApp chats and media that I never bothered to back up to Google Drive because I always had access to the local binary blob on my phone.

    Here again, however, it's not all doom and gloom. Through its takeout service Google lets you export virtually all of your data directly associated with its services. Apps like Swift can still back up your call logs and SMS without root, or you can use Google One to do the same. And WhatsApp? You can back that up to Google Drive or, like me, shrug it off with the realization that there's nothing so important on there that I couldn't stand to lose.

    Long story short, Android users don't necessarily need root for access to their personal data. Definitely nicer to have the option, though.

    Andrew Currie has been blogging about mobile phones since 2001, smartphones (depending on how you define them) since 2002 and smartwatches since 2014.
    by Published on 10-31-2019 11:30 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Tips

    In honour of Halloween I humbly present a recent tale of terror:

    I've a neighbour who not only doesn't know how to use her Android phone, but actively (if unwittingly) does it harm. In her defence, she's never really used a computer; as such the whole desktop/homescreen metaphor is pretty much lost on her, as are the modern conventions of interacting with touch screens. I've received numerous panicked phone calls from her, to the effect of:

    "Everything on my phone has suddenly changed!"

    ... Only to find out that she's unknowingly moved an app icon across several newly-created homescreens to a place where she understandably can't find it.

    That's bad enough, but what I discovered a few weeks ago is even worse. She asked me for help downloading an app, but upon examining her phone (a mid-range Samsung, if that matters) I was shocked to discover that it had no app store!

    The phone was purchased new at a carrier store, yet somehow a key component had been hacked away. I asked its owner if she recalled seeing anything by the name of "Play Store". Her response?

    "Oh yeah, I deleted that. It kept bugging me to upgrade, it was really annoying."

    I was ready to tell her what would be obvious to anyone reading this, that without an app store neither she nor I could download new apps, but then I realized that the browser version of Google Play had an active install button for the title she wanted. To my surprise and disbelief, the app downloaded and installed right from the browser.

    The useful information here is that so long as your device has the necessary libraries and APIs from Google, you don't necessarily need the Play Store app. But the scary part for me is this poor phone, doomed to further torture by my neighbour for the rest of its days.

    Image source: Flickr

    Andrew Currie has been blogging about mobile phones since 2001, smartphones (depending on how you define them) since 2002 and smartwatches since 2014.
    by Published on 01-17-2019 01:30 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Tips,
    3. Carriers

    Notice how I didn't say "best"... the fact of the matter is that of Taiwan's four national carriers—Chunghwa Telecom, FarEasTone, Taiwan Mobile and T Star—I've only ever used FarEastTone. And none of their SIM cards in my growing collection has ever let me down.

    If you're flying into Terminal 1 of Taoyuan International Airport you'll find counters for all four carriers just outside of immigration (to the right). But if you're flying into the yet-to-be-made-over Terminal 2 then you'll have to hunt down each one separately. I'm happy to save you that trouble: FarEastTone provides prepaid data SIMs charged by volume or by day, and you'll definitely want to choose the former because data is unlimited, and cheap! 5 days of service will set you back a mere $350 TWD, about $11 and change USD; my girlfriend and I got 15 full days for exactly $32.03 CAD each.

    Speeds, as you can see from my collection of tests above, were fine—maybe not as fast as peak 4G speeds on Bell in downtown Toronto, but perfectly usable. And because of the unlimited throughput I never once had to connect to hotel WiFi.

    So if there's a trip to Taiwan in your near future and you require a prepaid SIM then I think you'll be quite satisfied with FarEastTone. More on them and your other options at the links immediately below.

    Links: FarEasTone, Prepaid Data SIM Card Wiki

    by Published on 12-04-2018 02:50 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Tips

    Bloomberg is reporting today that new iPhone sales are falling short of expectations—so much so that Apple marketing staff have been pulled from other projects to address the situation. The result is potentially good news for anyone in the market for the company's latest and greatest:

    On Sunday evening, Apple kicked these efforts into high gear, adding a new banner to the top of its website advertising the iPhone XR for $449, $300 less than its official sticker price. The deal, noted with an asterisk and described at the bottom of the page, requires customers to trade in an iPhone 7 Plus, a high-end handset from two years ago.
    Unfortunately I don't think any comparable trade-in deals are available to Canadian buyers, at least not yet. Apple's GiveBack program in Canada is apparently run by an outfit called Brightstar; their current trade-in value for a 256 GB iPhone 7 Plus is only $315 CAD, or $237.75 USD. And I can see no asterisks on Apple.ca

    We'll have to live vicariously through our American friends, it seems. Be sure to let us know if you snag a sweet discount!

    Source: Bloomberg via iPhone in Canada

    by Published on 11-09-2018 03:28 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Tips,
    3. Apps

    For us few, proud Pebblers desperately hanging on to our favourite smartwatch it seems inevitable that it's going to suffer a death by a thousand cuts. I've just learned on reddit (via this post) that version 9 of Android comes with some unknown "improvement" that breaks call display for all Pebbles connected with the official app.

    Pebbles connected via Gadgetbridge aren't affected. Then again, Gadgetbridge doesn't support Rebble.io features like weather and voice replies.

    For those of us connected via Rebble there is thankfully an Android (and companion Pebble) app that purports to fix this critical functionality. It's called Dialer for Pebble, and can be found on both F-Droid and Google Play.

    Before you go ahead and try it, though, be aware of two potential issues: First, it brings the grand total of required apps on your Android device to three—the Pebble app (obviously), Wear OS (for additional notification support) and now this Dialer app. Second, and perhaps more importantly, it may not even work. Here's a telling comment from a related r/Pebble thread:

    After a back and forth with matejdro [the developer] about how Dialer hangs on my Pixel XL with Pie, a Time Steel (two, actually—I tested with a second watch) and Rebble, I've uninstalled Dialer.

    The problem has been that Dialer hangs (for lack of a better term) and prevents any subsequent notifications from coming through until I notice and cancel Dialer. Then it works until the next hang.
    If any Pebblers have a better experience with this solution kindly let the rest of us know. I myself am going back to the Amazfit Bip for the time being; I'm sure the Chinese government has missed my daily step counts...

    Sources: r/Pebble (1) (2)
    Links: Dialer for Pebble on F-Droid / Google Play

    by Published on 11-02-2018 02:15 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Tips,
    3. Carriers

    We all know that BCE, parent company of Bell Canada, owns the electronics chain The Source, right? Here's something you maybe didn't know (but could probably guess): The Source is a terrible place to upgrade your phone.

    On the front page of r/Canada this week is the sad tale of a redditor who wanted a new Galaxy S8 for their existing Virgin Mobile service. They were told by an unscrupulous sales agent that the best deal could be had by activating a new line on a new plan and then cancelling after a billing cycle, transferring that new plan to the existing phone number.

    Of course it was a scam to get the salesperson a new activation, and one month later the customer was on the hook for the full price of the phone, plus cancellation fees.

    But this isn't even the best part. The redditor, a student who likely didn't have the $850 on hand, had to call their mother to explain the situation. Here's how that call went:

    She laughs at me. Then angrily yells at me. Typical Latina mom move. While yelling though, she was asking why do I do these kind of things without consulting her before, etc., etc. but then proceeds to explain that she was also furious because she had THE SAME EXACT THING HAPPEN TO HER A FEW YEARS AGO.
    Similar experiences are detailed in the comments that follow, plus some free advice from the other side:

    As someone who years ago used to manage a Source By Circuit City store:

    Do not use this company for anything other than buying small electrical components for guitars or minor electrical repairs.
    Anybody here been burned at The Source?

    Link: r/canada

    by Published on 08-23-2018 03:00 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Tips,
    3. Apps

    Once again, it's summer vacation time for yours truly, and before I set off I thought I'd share some travel wisdom in regards to airlines and their mobile apps. After a decade of pining for paperless check-in it's now very much a thing, but after getting this notification from China Airlines' spiffy Android app I went straight to my desktop computer to check in online and print out boarding passes the old fashioned way. Here's why...

    The girlfriend and I are actually starting our journey from Toronto on Air Canada. When we check our bags for that first flight I'm going to ask if they can be also checked through on China Airlines to our final destination; if Air Canada can facilitate that request I'll then hand over our paper boarding passes from China Airlines, instead of two smartphones whose screens will timeout and will have to be unlocked every sixty seconds by a fingerprint and pattern, respectively.

    We'll then request paper boarding passes for our Air Canada flight, so that we don't have to hand over the same smartphones that contain our entire digital lives to a security official who might decide, for whatever reason, that a further inspection of our digital lives is necessary.

    It's not that we've anything to hide; when it comes to our travel plans it's really quite the opposite. My pre-travel printing spree also includes two complete sets of airline tickets and hotel reservations, which I'll leave in each of our unlocked suitcases, along with scans of our passports, in the event that they get misdirected somewhere along the way. And lest you think I'm some kind of tree-hating monster, the pages will be shredded and recycled upon our return home.

    To sum up, paper still has its place in 21st century travel, for your security and the convenience of everyone you'll interact with along the way. Thanks for indulging; I expect to be back on regular duty on Monday, September 10th.

    by Published on 07-13-2018 07:00 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. News,
    3. Tips

    BBC Four has just released an hour-long documentary chronicling our favourite Finnish phone-maker. The Guardian calls it "a morality tale for late-era capitalism", showing how the company that once ruled the mobile phone market lost its pioneering spirit and was undone by the likes of Apple and Samsung.

    Now the bad news: at present, you cannot legally watch it outside of the UK.

    Those residing within the United Kingdom can stream the documentary using BBC's iPlayer—the listing for the program can be found right here. Unfortunately for the rest of us, iPlayer seems to be VPN-proof, as their support page confirms:

    If we detect that you might be using a VPN, you'll be unable to play programmes. This is because we need to be confident you're in the UK, and if you're using a VPN or proxy, we can't detect reliably where you are.
    For the die-hard Nokia fan this leaves BitTorrent as your only other option. And while the advertisers that keep these forums up and running probably wouldn't be too happy with links to infringing content, I can say with some confidence that said infringing content is out there, if you know where to look.

    Just remember to fire up your VPN before downloading, so that the BBC doesn't come after you.

    Links: BBC Four, The Guardian

    by Published on 07-09-2018 07:15 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Tips

    Gadget Hacks has published a list of more than one hundred dialer codes specific to OnePlus devices. Some are also specific to certain carriers; others I've not seen posted anywhere else, so I'm sharing them for OnePlus users here.

    *#06# .....show IMEI and MEID
    *#66# .....show and encrypt IMEI and MEID
    Firmware and Software
    *#1234# or *#*#1234#*#* ....check firmware and build number
    *#6776# OR *#*#1111#*#*.....view full software details
    *#*#4986*2650468#*#* .......check firmware versions for pda, phone, hardware and rfcalldate
    Weather App
    *#*#1288#*#* ......select from a list of cities, add new cities
    *#*#33344#*#* .....weather location selection
    *#*#3345678#*#* ...weather option setting
    *#*#55688#*#* .....weather app full screen
    *#8778# ...............resets device, with confirmation
    *#*#7780#*#* ..........erases google account, third-party apps, and all associated data, with confirmation
    *#*#947322243#*#* .....instant data wipe, no confirmation
    *2767*3855# ...........completely wipes device and reinstalls firmware
    Engineer Mode
    *#36446337# .......enter engineer mode
    *#268# ............view qualcomm settings
    *#888# ............view hardware pcb version and qr code
    *#9090# ...........diagnostic configuration
    *#*#2222#*#* ......fta hardware version
    *#*#2663#*#* ......touch screen version
    *#*#3264#*#* ......ram version
    *#12580*369# ......software and hardware information
    *#*#232337#*# .....shows bluetooth device address
    *#*#232338#*#* ....shows wifi mac address
    *#*#1472365#*#* ...gps
    Manual Test Mode
    *#808# ..........enter manual test mode
    *#99# ...........toggle always-on display
    *#800# ..........log test settings
    *#801# ..........engineering switch test mode
    *#802# ..........gps time-to-first-fix test mode
    *#803# ..........engineering wifi setting
    *#804# ..........automatic disconnect test mode
    *#805# ..........engineering bluetooth test mode
    *#806# ..........engineering aging test mode
    *#807# ..........engineering automatic test mode
    *#809# ..........enter engineering mic echo test mode
    *#814# ..........automatically searches for available tdscdma carriers
    *#824# ..........automatic search for available wcdma carriers
    *#834# ..........automatic search for available lte carriers
    *#844# ..........automatic search for available gsm carriers
    *#900# ..........test photograph rgb
    *#*#0*#*#** .....lcd display test
    *#*#0283#*#* ....packet loopback
    *#*#0289#*#* ....melody test
    *#*#0588#*#* ....proximity sensor test
    *#*#0673#*#* ....melody test
    *#*#0842#*#* ....test vibration and backlight
    *#*#1575#*#* ....advanced gps testing
    *#*#2664#*#* ....touch screen test
    *#*#7668#*#* ....checks for root
    *#*#232331#*#* ..bluetooth test
    For carrier-specific codes, plus a list of secret codes with unknown functions, see the link immediately below.

    Source: Gadget Hacks

    by Published on 06-27-2018 07:00 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Tips

    This story popped up in my news feed last night, so I'm passing it on as a PSA. The Montreal Blog has posted a list of 5 things that Canadians should delete off their phones before attempting to cross the U.S. border:

    1. Illegally downloaded music;
    2. prescription information;
    3. photos of marijuana;
    4. marijuana apps;
    5. distasteful memes and other potentially incriminating photos.

    (For our American friends reading this, recreational weed use will be legal in this country come October...)

    I guess the biggest problem that I have with this list is the very presumption that my phone will be searched. The only time I've ever had to surrender my electronics was to a Canada Border Services Agent on my return from a visit to Thailand. In hindsight, and as a middle-aged white dude travelling alone even I can see how that would look sketchy af.

    Pirated content is a no-brainer, and the tip about prescriptions is based on a one-off incident described here. I don't question the right that the United States has to protect its borders; on the other hand, these tips read to me as if they were written by someone's fretful mother. Not once have I ever had my phone searched at the U.S. border, nor have I ever been asked for any social media passwords.

    Have you?

    Source: MTL Blog

    by Published on 05-15-2018 07:30 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Tips

    Here's a deal you don't see every day: if you're in the market for a new high-powered Android device, LG Canada is offering a free 43 inch 4K Smart TV if you pre-order their new G7 between May 18th and May 31st.

    A quick reminder about the G7: LG's 2018 flagship features a dedicated Google Assistant button, a speaker that uses the phone's innards as a resonance chamber, a rare second wide-angle camera lens and also a display notch. I don't know anything about the TV, but what do you care? It's free.

    A few caveats about this deal: In North America LG sells its smartphones only through carriers, not directly to consumers. So you'll have to purchase your G7, possibly with a service commitment, from either Bell, Bell MTS, Best Buy, Best Buy Mobile, Fido, Freedom Mobile, Koodo Mobile, Mobile Shop, Rogers, SaskTel, T-Booth Wireless, Telus, Virgin Mobile, Visions Electronics, Walmart, Wireless Etc, Wireless Wave or WOW! Mobile.

    The other thing you should probably know is that, despite being the OEM behind the legendary Nexus 5, more recent LG devices have been known to experience boot-loop issues. Not every device, but enough of them to be a concern.

    Let us know if you grab this deal!

    Source: LG Canada Promotions via r/Android

    by Published on 04-27-2018 07:30 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Tips,
    3. Carriers

    If you need a data SIM while visiting Copenhagen, this is the one to get.

    Lebara Mobile is an MVNO that uses the Telenor and Telia networks in Denmark. It's not to be confused with Lycamobile, another MVNO that has more aggressive marketing but offers a less-generous data bucket. You'll see Lycamobile being advertised on billboards and in shop windows—you might even see staff selling them at Kastrup International Airport. But if you can resist the temptation until you get to the city centre, you'll be rewarded with 30GB of fast LTE data for a quite reasonable 149 DKK, the equivalent of about $32 CAD or $25 USD.

    The SIM is valid for 50 days and also includes 10 hours of local calls.

    I used OpenSignal to do some random speed testing when I remembered to; here's my best recorded download speed, at the Fisketorvet shopping mall. During my 10-day visit I ended up using less than 6GB, which included a whack of last-minute podcast and YouTube downloads for the flight home. I never had to rely on hotel or restaurant WiFi, either, which is always a plus.

    So where do you find yourself one of these Lebara SIMs? Any supermarket or convenience store should stock them. If you're staying at Ibsens Hotel, you can buy them one street over at this Døgn Kiosken. Remember, ignore the Lycamobile ads!

    by Published on 01-15-2018 06:30 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. News,
    3. Tips

    Fyi, any time I lead off with this captioned photo of Carl Pei it's probably going to be bad news...

    Last week a customer took to the OnePlus Forums to post about suspicious charges on two of their credit cards, both of which were used for purchases at OnePlus.net last November. It turns out he is not alone; to date some 69 users have reported similar fraudulent charges, and it's looking increasingly likely that the upstart Android OEM's payment portal has been compromised.

    For a company that only sells its products online to most of the world, this is understandably a big concern—even if the number of affected customers is so far relatively small.

    A blog post by Fidus Info Security explains how an attacker could have compromised the portal:

    The payment page which requests the customer’s card details is hosted on-site and is not an iFrame by a third-party payment processor. This means all payment details entered, albeit briefly, flow through the OnePlus website and can be intercepted by an attacker. Whilst the payment details are sent off to a third-party provider upon form submission, there is a window in which malicious code is able to siphon credit card details before the data is encrypted.
    The working theory at Fidus is that the credit card numbers were intercepted not by client-side attacks via javascript, but instead a server-side compromise via PHP. But if this were the case then I'd expect a lot more fraudulent charges to be reported.

    If, like me, you paid for your OnePlus purchase using PayPal then your credit card info should be safe. If I recall correctly, PayPal was the only available option for my last few orders; in light of this news I'm pretty grateful for that!

    Links: Fidus InfoSec, OnePlus Forums

    by Published on 11-24-2017 07:00 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Tips,
    4. Carriers,
    5. Apps

    Too late for the midnight stampedes, but I'm hoping this will at least serve as a starting point for your mobile-centric Black Friday shopping. It's not exhaustive by any means; you'll notice that Android Police and Mobile Syrup are responsible for a few links each. Kudos to them for doing the grunt work so that I didn't have to.


    Amazon Canada’s Black Friday tech deals are now live!

    Best Buy VIP Black Friday sale now live with discounts on smartphones, tablets, smart home devices

    Freedom Mobile offers up to $450 in MyTab savings for Black Friday

    Here are Canadian carriers' 2017 Black Friday deals

    Rogers and Fido launch Black Friday iPhone deals


    2017 Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals roundup [Updated continuously]

    Deal: Get 3 months of unlimited data for $99 from Rok Mobile

    Fossil smartwatch Black Friday sale: 30% reduction on Android Wear

    Free iPhone 8: The Best Black Friday Deal Is From T-Mobile

    Here are Google Play's Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals

    Feel free to add any deals not mentioned above, for the benefit of anyone else reading this. Happy bargain hunting, and stay safe out there!

    by Published on 11-14-2017 07:30 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Tips,
    3. Apps

    Short answer: it's an open source replacement for Google Play Services, useful for Android modders who run custom ROMs without flashing Google's proprietary apps and APIs.

    Long answer: from the official project page, it's these five components:

    • Service Core (GmsCore) is a library app, providing the functionality required to run apps that use Google Play Services or Google Maps Android API (v2).
    • Services Framework Proxy (GsfProxy) is a small helper utility to allow apps developed for Google Cloud to Device Messaging (C2DM) to use the compatible Google Cloud Messaging service included with GmsCore.
    • Unified Network Location Provider (UnifiedNlp) is a library that provides WiFi and cell-tower-based geo-location to applications that use Google’s network location provider. It is included in GmsCore but can also run independently on most Android systems.
    • Maps API (mapsv1) is a system library, providing the same functionality as now deprecated Google Maps API (v1).
    • Store (Phonesky) is a front-end application providing access to the Google Play Store to download and update applications. Development is in early stages and there is no usable application yet.

    If an open source interface for Google's app store seems somewhat contradictory, consider the promising YouTube replacement NewPipe, which offers access to the same videos but removes the annoying pre-roll ads.

    The microG project was first announced on XDA over two years ago, but just got a lot easier to install; there is now an unofficial build of LineageOS with microG services built-in. Device support is impressive to say the least—I'm guessing that the builds are automated from the official Lineage device tree.

    With their completely unnecessary vendor image Google has already ruined their phone hardware for me; should the day ever come for me to wean myself off of Gmail and the like my fallback position would most likely be the F-Droid app store and an Android custom ROM. I've never actually tried it, though, and I honestly hadn't considered just how deeply integrated Google Mobile Services were in a typical Android device.

    Love Android but hate Google? microG is here to help.

    Links: microG, XDA (1) (2)

    by Published on 11-10-2017 07:30 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Tips

    To honour the 10th anniversary of the smartphone that changed everything, I forced myself to read the entirety of Brian Merchant's The One Device. It's definitely meant for Apple fans, and seems at times to be set in a fictitious world where Android doesn't even exist.

    To be fair, one of the chapters where Android is actually acknowledged turned out to be the most illuminating one, at least for me. The author visits the infamous Foxconn factory in Shenzhen, China, where a surprisingly candid employee had this to say about the local job market:

    “I was tricked to work for Foxconn,” a new recruit says. “I intended to work for Huawei,” he adds, referring to the Chinese smartphone competitor. “People feel way better working for Huawei, better corporate culture, more comfortable.” In fact, he says, “Everyone has the idea of working in Foxconn for one year and getting out of the factory and going to work for Huawei.”
    So congratulations to any Huawei owners reading this; you can rest easy with the knowledge that the people who built your device were treated well while making it. And if you were wondering about that other big smartphone OEM, later in the same chapter a Foxconn higher-up had this to say:

    “I had a meeting with Samsung executives and they said they would just follow Apple [...] That’s what they told us—they would do whatever Apple did.”
    So what exactly does Apple do? If you're not familiar with Cupertino's decidedly hands-off approach to manufacturing, check out my Christmas Downer post from 2014.

    Links: The One Device on Amazon.ca / Amazon.com

    by Published on 10-19-2017 06:00 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. News,
    3. Tips

    This week Belgian researchers discovered a major security flaw in WPA2, previously thought to be an unbreakable security protocol for WiFi networks and the devices that use them—including routers, desktop computers, streaming set-top boxes, connected appliances and, of course, smartphones.

    The flaw is called Krack, or Key Reinstallation Attack, and can be exploited to read sensitive information like passwords or credit card numbers being sent through the network, or insert malicious code into websites as they are loaded onto devices.

    The bad news for Nexus and Pixel owners is that they'll have to wait for the next monthly security update from Google to get their devices patched; the really bad news is for users of other Android devices (Samsung), who will have to wait much longer than that. The good news? If you're a modder and are running either LineageOS or OmniROM then your hardware is likely already patched. Android Police reports that official Lineage builds from October 17th onwards have been patched; ditto for Omni builds starting October 18th.

    For anyone reading this who has ever questioned the value of custom Android firmware I'd say that this right here is a pretty good example of their worth.

    Sources: Android Police, The Guardian

    by Published on 09-21-2017 07:30 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Tips,
    3. Carriers

    Yup, Samsung is everywhere...

    For anyone who will ever visit Sri Lanka (and you totally should) here's a quick guide to getting mobile service there. Although carriers in both Canada and USA offer "roam like home" packages—where you access your plan's data bucket anywhere in the world for an additional daily fee—it's often cheaper to get a local SIM when you arrive. Case in point: for the equivalent of about $9 USD each my girlfriend and I were able to get 4GB of data (plus an extra 5 GB of "overnight" data) that lasted through the entirety of our 10 days on the island.

    This special tourist package is available through Sri Lanka's number one mobile carrier, Dialog. Getting set up was easy but not an experience that I would call pleasant. There's a Dialog shop right in the Arrivals Hall of Bandaranaike International Airport that's open 24 hours—perfect for us as our inbound flight from Hong Kong didn't land until close to midnight. They only accept cash but fortunately for us there was a currency exchange in the same Arrivals Hall that was also open.

    After taking our money the Dialog rep robotically set up the SIM on one of our phones and then left it there on the counter without telling me it was ready; he didn't even bother with the second phone. I eventually got the hint and set up the second SIM myself, using the settings from the first one. In so doing I noticed that the home SIM on my first phone—a dual-SIM OnePlus 3—was disabled for absolutely no reason. Thanks, jerk...

    I did speed tests all over the island (when I remembered to) and not once did I ever see a 4G signal while I was there. That in itself wasn't a problem, but the sometimes spotty coverage took a huge hit on our phone batteries, as they desperately hunted for a signal to lock on to. To keep my phone juiced up for the next photo opp I got into the habit of keeping it in airplane mode until I actually needed data for something.

    In other words, Sri Lanka might not be the best holiday destination for the obsessed Instagrammer or YouTube Livestreamer but it's definitely worth visiting for its Cultural triangle, friendly people and amazing food!

    by Published on 08-24-2017 07:00 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Tips

    Before you upgrade your Nexus or Pixel to Google's latest and greatest, you might want to read this first...

    Android Police is reporting that some users who have done so are reporting that, on Android Oreo, Bluetooth automatically switches off almost immediately after being turned on. Granted, this was also an issue on some devices running Android Nougat; this time, however, Google itself is taking the unprecedented step of soliciting feedback on its Pixel and Nexus forums.

    Most of the replies so far concern Android Auto, and include pairing issues, problems displaying music album artwork and audio hiccups while making phone calls. For Bluetooth headphones, headsets and speakers, there are multiple reports of audio cutting out, sometimes as often as every 5-20 seconds.

    It's all but certain that there will be no headphone jack on Google's second-generation Pixel phones; these Bluetooth issues should probably be fixed before those devices ship.

    Source: Android Police

    by Published on 07-27-2017 07:00 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Tips,
    3. Apps

    iMessage is the one thing that Apple fans can rightly gloat about—nothing beats the convenience of having your SMS reach you on whatever iDevice you happen to be using. With its Chrome browser extension Pulse SMS can give Android users the same convenience, along with AirDroid, MightyText, Pushbullet, etc. But for those Chrome users seeking native SMS support there is some potentially good news on the way.

    Chrome Unboxed received a screenshot from a reader with a Samsung Chromebook Plus, showing a new field in the Settings menu called Connected Devices, and a toggle labeled SMS Connect. It doesn't actually do anything at the moment, but you can supposedly see the menu item on your own Chromebook by enabling developer mode and searching
    for the following:

    Enable multidevice features Chrome OS
    Enables UI for controlling multidevice features. #multidevice
    Remember that enabling developer mode will wipe all local data from your machine—which is why I'm unable to test this for you on my girlfriend's Chromebook.

    Hopefully an update is on the way that will activate this feature, at least so that users in the developer channel can test it. Perhaps one day soon all Android users will be able to enjoy native SMS functionality through their Chrome desktop browsers—and that iMessage envy won't be quite so bad.

    Source: Chrome Unboxed via Android Police

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