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ZTE Exports Ban May Mean No Google Apps, a Death Sentence For Its Smartphones

ZTE Exports Ban May Mean No Google Apps, a Death Sentence For Its Smartphones

New submitter krazy1 shares a report from Ars Technica: The U.S. government is going after another Chinese Android device maker. After shutting down Huawei’s carrier deals and retail partners, the government is now pursuing ZTE. The U.S. Department of Commerce has banned U.S. companies from selling parts and software to ZTE for seven years. ZTE was caught violating U.S. sanctions by illegally shipping telecommunications equipment to Iran and North Korea. The company then made things worse by “making false statements and obstructing justice, including through preventing disclosure to and affirmatively misleading the U.S. Government,” according to the Department of Commerce.

The latest news from Reuters raises even bigger issues for ZTE, though. A source told Reuters that “The Commerce Department decision means ZTE Corp may not be able to use Google’s Android operating system in its mobile devices.” Android is free and open source and will probably remain free for ZTE to use without Google’s involvement. Reuters’ source is probably referring to the Google apps, which aren’t sold to device makers but are carefully licensed to them in exchange for other concessions. The Google apps package includes popular services like Gmail and Google Maps, and it also unlocks the Play Store, Google Play Services, and the entire Android app ecosystem. For a market-viable Android device, the Play Store is pretty much mandatory in every country other than China. So while ZTE could conceivably source hardware components from non-U.S. sources, being locked out of the Play Store would devastate ZTE’s smartphones worldwide.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Posted by amiller in Android, Blog
Use your favorite password manager with Android Oreo

Use your favorite password manager with Android Oreo

Security experts recommend strong, unique passwords for each service that you use. For most of us, however, it can be difficult to manage credentials across multiple websites and apps, especially if you’re trying to keep track of everything in your head.

In Android 8.0 Oreo, we made it simpler to use Autofill with a password manager, like LastPass, Dashlane, Keeper, or 1Password. Particularly on tiny devices like your phone, autofill can make your life easier by remembering things (with your permission), so that you don’t have to type out your name, address, or credit card over and over again.

With the new autofill services in Oreo, password managers can access only the information that’s required in order to autofill apps, making your data more secure. There’s a specific list of password managers (which you can find in Android Settings) that meet our security and functional requirements, and we’ll be continuing to grow this list over time. If you already use a password manager, then you’ll be able to try the new experience today.

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How does it work?

Setting up Autofill on your device is easy. Simply go to Settings, search for “Autofill,” and tap “Autofill service.” If you already have a password manager installed, it will show up in this list. You can also tap “Add service” to download the password manager of your choice from the Play Store.

Once you’ve set a password manager as your Autofill service, the information stored in that app will show up in Autofill whenever you fill out forms (for example, your saved username and password will show up as a suggestion when you’re logging into an app for the first time).

We include Google as an autofill service on all devices running Android 8.0 and above, which lets you use data that you already have saved in Chrome to fill in passwords, credit cards, addresses, and other personal information.

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Language and input settings

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Autofill service settings: here you can pick the app that you would like to use as your Autofill service

Whether you use Google or another password manager from the Play Store, the new Autofill experience on Oreo makes it easier to securely store and recall commonly typed information, like passwords and credit card numbers.

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Posted by amiller in Android, Blog
Some Android Device Makers Are Lying About Security Patch Updates

Some Android Device Makers Are Lying About Security Patch Updates

An anonymous reader shares a report: Security patches for smartphones are extremely important because many people store personal data on their devices. Lots of Android phones out there get regularly security patches, but according to a new report, some of them are lying about the patches that they’ve actually gotten. According to a study by Security Research Labs, some Android phones are missing patches that they claim to have. Wired explains that SRL tested 1,200 phones from more than a dozen phone makers for every Android security patch released in 2017. The devices tested include ones from Google, Samsung, Motorola, LG, HTC, Xiaomi, OnePlus, Nokia, TCL, and ZTE. The study found that outside of Google and its Pixel phones, well-known phone makers had devices that were missing patches that they claimed to have. “We found several vendors that didn’t install a single patch but changed the patch date forward by several months,” says SRL founder Karsten Nohl.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Posted by amiller in Android, Blog
LG's Upcoming 'G7 ThinQ' Smartphone To Feature Almost-Bezel-Less Display With Notch, Launch On May 2nd

LG's Upcoming 'G7 ThinQ' Smartphone To Feature Almost-Bezel-Less Display With Notch, Launch On May 2nd

Earlier this morning, LG announced in a blog post that it will be hosting an event on May 2nd in New York City, where it would unveil its upcoming “LG G7 ThinQ” Android smartphone, with a public event in Korea on May 3rd. While LG has yet to confirm any other details of the phone in this post, we do have a pretty good idea as to what this flagship smartphone will feature thanks to some recently-leaked renders courtesy of Android Headlines. 9to5Google reports: This latest shot of the phone gives us a clear look at the design on the front and back. Up front, there’s the same notched display we saw at MWC with questionably thick bezels on the bottom and top. With those bezels and the notch, users are undoubtedly going to be questioning LG’s design choices this time around. There’s also a glass back that comes in several colors with a fingerprint sensor and vertically oriented camera in tow. According to the report, LG will be launching the phone in Aurora Black, Platinum Grey, Moroccan Blue, Moroccan Blue (Matte), and Raspberry Rose, but it’s unclear which markets those colors will be available in.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Posted by amiller in Android, Blog
Slashdot Asks: Should Android OEMs Adopt the iPhone's Notch?

Slashdot Asks: Should Android OEMs Adopt the iPhone's Notch?

Earlier this year, Bloomberg reported that Google was currently working on a “dramatic redesign” of its Android OS — one that embraces the “notch” made popular by the iPhone X. A couple weeks after that report was published, Mobile World Congress was happening, and the biggest trend among Android OEMs was the introduction of a notch in their smartphones. The Verge’s Vlad Savov argues that Android smartphone manufacturers are straight up copying the iPhone’s design with “more speed and cynicism” than ever before.

Should Android original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) adopt the iPhone’s display notch? A display notch can offer a greater screen-to-body ratio, for example, but lower overall aesthetic value. It can also create a headache for developers who need to update their apps to account for the notch that eats into the actual display area. What are your thoughts on display notches? Should Android OEMs adopt the iPhone X’s display notch in their devices?
If you’re not a fan of notches for aesthetic reasons, you may like the solution that OnePlus has come up with. The company will soon be launching their notch-equipped OnePlus 6 smartphone, but will allow OnePlus 6 owners to “hide” the device’s notch via software. Users will have the option to black out the background of the notifications and status bar if they so desire.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Posted by amiller in Android, Blog
Google Is Considering Launching a Mid-Range Pixel Phone This Summer, Claims Report

Google Is Considering Launching a Mid-Range Pixel Phone This Summer, Claims Report

According to a report from The Economic Times, Google is developing a new mid-range Pixel smartphone. “The paper claims that ‘Google’s top brass shared details of its consumer products expansion plans in trade meetings held in Malaysia, the UK, and the U.S. last month.” The story cites “four senior industry executives” that were present at the talks. Ars Technica reports: The Economic Times pegs “around July-August” for the launch date of this mid-range device, which the publication says will have a focus on “price-sensitive markets such as India.” The phone would be part of Google Hardware’s first push into India, which would involve bringing the Pixelbook, Google Home, and Google Home Mini to the country. The Indian paper did not say if the phone would launch in other countries, but it did say the phone would be launched in addition to the regular Pixel 3 flagship, which the report says is still due around October. It’s good to hear Google is considering expanding the Pixel line to more countries (even if it’s just one more country) as distribution is currently one of Google Hardware’s biggest weak points. The Pixel 2 XL is only available in eight countries; by comparison, the Samsung Galaxy S9 is sold in 110 countries. If Google really wants to compete in the smartphone market, it will have to do a lot better than selling in eight countries.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Posted by amiller in Android, Blog
Verizon Plans To Launch a Palm Smartphone Later This Year

Verizon Plans To Launch a Palm Smartphone Later This Year

Verizon is planning on launch a Palm-branded smartphone later this year, an anonymous source told Android Police. The rumor backs up what a TCL executive said last August, when they confirmed that the company would launch a Palm phone this year. From the report: Sadly, we don’t know anything about the phone itself at this time (well, we know it runs Android), but the fact that TCL is working with Verizon is telling. The carrier was a longtime Palm partner, selling most of the brand’s webOS handsets all the way through the Pre 2. Verizon had intended to carry the ill-fated Pre 3, but the phone was cancelled by Palm’s then-buyer HP before it could be released in the U.S. TCL acquired the rights to the Palm name back in 2015, and it’s starting to get something of a reputation for reviving dead and dying brands: the Chinese firm manufactures BlackBerry handsets, which have received a surprising amount of attention in the mainstream press.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Posted by amiller in Android, Blog
Google Starts Blocking 'Uncertified' Android Devices From Logging In

Google Starts Blocking 'Uncertified' Android Devices From Logging In

Google logins on unlicensed devices will now fail at setup, and a warning message will pop up stating “Device is not certified by Google,” reports Ars Technica. “This warning screen has appeared on and off in the past during a test phase, but XDA (and user reports) indicate it is now headed for a wider rollout.” From the report: While the basic operating system code contained in the Android Open Source Project is free and open source, Google’s apps that run on top of Android (like the Play Store, Gmail, Google Maps, etc.) and many others are not free. Google licenses these apps to device makers under a number of terms designed to give Google control over how the OS is used. Google’s collection of default Android apps must all be bundled together, there are placement and default service requirements, and devices must pass an ever-growing list of compatibility requirements to ensure app compatibility. Android distributions that don’t pass Google’s compatibility requirements aren’t allowed to be called “Android” (which is a registered trademark of Google), so they are Android forks. The most high-profile example of an Android fork is Amazon’s Kindle Fire line of products, but most devices that ship in China (where Google doesn’t do much business) fall under the umbrella of an “Android fork,” too.

While Google’s Android apps are only properly available as a pre-loaded app (or through the pre-loaded Play Store), they are openly distributed on forums, custom ROM sites, third-party app stores, and other places online. When a non-compatible device seller (or a user) loads these on a device, they can potentially trigger Google’s new message at login. The message pops up when you try to log in to Google’s services, which usually happens during the device setup. Users who purchased the device are warned that “the device manufacturer has preloaded Google apps and services without certification from Google,” and users aren’t given many options other than to complain to the manufacturer. At this point, logging in to Google services is blocked, and non-tech-savvy users will have to live without the Google apps. Users of custom Android ROMs — which wipe out the stock software and load a modified version of Android — will start seeing this message, too.

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Posted by amiller in Android, Blog
Face ID Deemed Too Costly To Copy, Android Makers Target In-Display Fingerprint Sensors Instead

Face ID Deemed Too Costly To Copy, Android Makers Target In-Display Fingerprint Sensors Instead

“Android phone makers are ‘rushing’ to implement fingerprint sensors under the display for upcoming handsets,” reports 9to5Mac, citing a new report from Digitimes. “Android manufacturers have decided that recreating the 3D facial recognition used by iPhone X is simply too costly to include, and are instead focusing on implementing Qualcomm’s ultrasonic fingerprint scanners.” From the report: The report says that including an Infrared depth-sensing facial recognition system like the iPhone X is simply too expensive for Android smartphones to offer, which cannot command the same price premiums as Apple’s iPhones. This is a combination of hardware and software development costs. Digitimes claims the cost of the TrueDepth 3D sensors in iPhone X peaked at $60 per unit, an incredibly high proportion of the overall phone cost if accurate. Android makers are also worried about possible patent infringement from adopting Infrared dot projector systems. Instead, they have turned to in-display fingerprint sensors as their next-generation of device authentication. This depends on using Qualcomm technology for ultrasonic-based fingerprint scanners, which can sit below the cover glass and work even if fingers are wet or greasy.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Posted by amiller in Android, Blog
Some Galaxy S9/S9+ Units Have Large Dead Zones On the Touchscreen

Some Galaxy S9/S9+ Units Have Large Dead Zones On the Touchscreen

hyperclocker shares a report from Android Police: The touchscreen on your phone is the primary way you interact with it, so it absolutely needs to work. That makes problems like so-called “dead zones” or ignored/unregistered inputs among the most annoying out there. Based on reports, many are running into those types of touchscreen input problems with Samsung’s Galaxy S9+. It’s tough to tell precisely how common the problem might be. Few users are as apt to report issues as Pixel-purchasers, so we can’t quite compare things against our coverage for Google’s hardware. But from what we have seen in places like Reddit, it’s reasonably widespread. The problem manifests as you’d expect: a chunk of the touchscreen’s digitizer just doesn’t seem to work. Interestingly, not all users are reporting issues with the same physical areas of the display. For some, it’s the top of the screen that isn’t accepting input — resulting in an inability to pull down the notification tray — but for others, it’s the bottom of the screen that’s wonking out in the traditional keyboard input area. A few people have been able to diminish the effect by cranking up the touchscreen sensitivity, and there’s at least one report of a factory reset fixing things. But for many, the problem persists between wipes. Worse, some people with the problem have experienced further issues seeking help via Samsung’s support process if a trade-in was involved. Samsung has released a statement concerning these reports: “At Samsung, customer satisfaction is core to our business and we aim to deliver the best possible experience. We are looking into a limited number of reports of Galaxy S9/S9+ touchscreen responsiveness issues. We are working with affected customers and investigating. We encourage any customer with questions to contact us directly at 1-800-SAMSUNG.”

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Posted by amiller in Android, Blog