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21
Apr

ZTE and AT&T announce Spro 2 availability on April 24


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ZTE and AT&T have announced the two-in-one Spro 2 Smart Projector. The Android-based device has a mobile hotspot with a 5-inch touch screen capable of providing web access directly from itself and connecting up to 10 independent Wi-Fi devices at the same time.

The Spro 2 is similar to other other portable projectors. Additionally, it can stream content from Google Play apps  and from game consoles, USBs, micro SD cards, and other mobile devices.

The post ZTE and AT&T announce Spro 2 availability on April 24 appeared first on AndroidGuys.

21
Apr

HTC One M9 review


For all the grief Android fanboys give Apple for merely refreshing its iPhone each year they don’t always hold Android smartphones to the same accountability.

Sure, most years we something big and revolutionary happen across the board; most hardware makers are able to produce something that looks different at first glance from one model to the next. What happens, though, when someone appears to go back to the same well three times in a row? In a boiled-down look, that’s what HTC has done with its flagship One.

The argument of revolution versus evolution plays out quite heavily with the HTC One line of devices. At a casual glance the average person might not be able to quickly identify the difference between the now-three generations? More importantly, does that matter?

Suffice it to say, the One and the One M8 received high marks for build quality and look to represent HTC very well. While other hardware makers were going the cheaper route with materials, HTC was putting out solid devices.

Android and UI

The HTC One M9 is not all that different from its predecessors yet it feels new at the same time. Attributed to Android 5.0 Lollipop and HTC Sense 7, the UI is the first thing that sticks with you.

Remember back to the first generations of HTC Sense and how it was a welcome alternative to the stock Android experience. A few years later, however, we were pining for HTC to stop pushing its agenda so heavily and to scale things back. The 7.0 release of Sense feels terrific and relies more on what Android sets forward with its Material Design principles.

Not only does Sense look wonderful with its more minimal influence, it’s also smarter than ever before. Out of the box you’ll find the One M9 set up with widgets, BlinkFeed (left screen), and a customizable launcher. What’s more, you’ll have a widget called Sense Home which is designed to highlight apps and games you’ll be more prone to use at home.

The idea is that when you leave you’ll turn to different apps; work sometimes requires entirely different apps. It might take a while for the phone to totally learn your preferences but it’s rather cool when it does. For those who already have specifics in mind you can drag and drop your own titles into the widget and jumpstart the learning.

For me BlinkFeed has always been a mixed bag. I love the concept but I always felt like execution was not where it could have been. That’s somewhat the case here for the latest iteration. Yes, there are more tie-ins and features, yet somehow I still come away wanting to drill down even more.

If there were a way for me to log into HTC’s website and pick and choose RSS feeds, sources, and other things and tie that to my profile I would be much more content. For example, I would  like to weigh some social media updates more heavily than a Yelp recommendation. Keep reaching for the stars, HTC, you’re getting closer each time out.

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As someone who loves to play with launchers, change icons and wallpapers, or install new widgets I love what HTC has done for the One M9. Specifically, I was so happy to see them embrace Themes. Users can pick a layout with like-minded icons, fonts, color schemes, sounds, and wallpapers.

Indeed, this is a rabbit hole for me as I am constantly looking at the various themes being created by HTC and the community.  To that end, I certainly recommend heading to the HTC site for themes and having a look around. There’s so many to install already in these early days and it’s only to get better.

If there was a drawback to the themes its that I might like 80 percent of the look but something about the widget or font irks me. Unfortunately you’re constrained on the handset and cannot do the full tailoring. But, head to the website and you’ll be able to customize the look to your liking.

HTC does a great job of leaving Android alone for the most part. You don’t have to look hard for things such as pinning apps, notification filters, and other Lollipop features. What’s more, HTC even lets users decide which order they want to place the Home/Back/Recent Apps buttons across the bottom. If you’re coming from another hardware maker you’ll not be slowed by having things out of order.

The default keyboard is good, but not perfect. For me, nothing beats the Google Keyboard that can be freely installed and customized to my liking. After using the Google option for more than a year or so I have become accustomed to its learning, key placements, and other tiny details. It’s not that the HTC version is terrible; it’s better than it has ever been. Auto-correction could certainly use a punch-up but otherwise this one does the job for most users.

Display

IMG_20150421_143134While the battle for pixels per inch has now gotten into Quad HD territory I was surprised to learn HTC opted for a 1080p (Super LCD) display for the One M9. At 5-inches it trails far behind the competition but ultimately matters not to the average end user.

Looking closely at the screen you are very hard-pressed to discern any pixels; viewing angles are some of the best we’ve seen on smartphones. Going any larger and it might have made a difference but then you’re not dealing with something as pocketable or easy to use with one hand.

Colors are great on the HTC One M9 and black looks very crisp. It’s not a perfect 100% black, but it sure does look good. Spend time playing games, looking at photos, or just generally playing with the phone and you’ll be thoroughly impressed by the screen.

I did not have the chance to review the One M8 however my understanding is that this screen is “cooler” than the predecessor. What’s more, other reviews I’ve seen indicate it feels less vivid or punchy than the display in last year’s model. With that said, I am reminded of one simple principle. If you have nothing to compare this to you’ll have a hard time finding something “wrong” or lacking.

Design

The One M9 feels (and looks) almost equal parts  One M7 and One M8. Suffice it to say, this is a good thing as we love holding this one in our hand. It’s angular where it needs to be yet doesn’t feel sharp or border on squarish. On the other hand, we like the smooth polished finish and tapered edges.

Looking at the device straight away you see the BoomSound speakers across the top and bottom of the face. The front-facing UltraPixel selfie camera, for its part, sits to the upper right corner. The speaker grille holes are very tiny but really push the sounds through. Depending on the lighting you might not even “see” them at all. Not to worry, though, because you definitely hear them.

htc-one-m9-global-ksp-best-audio-just-got-betterThe phone offers Dolby 5.1 surround sound effects which promise a cinematic experience. While it’s very easy to discern the left and right channels, it’s not all that easy to notice differences between Theater and Music modes. However, you won’t find anything else that delivers the levels and clarity that the One M9 does.

The One M9 feels fantastic and has just the right amount of weight. While you might initially find it heavy, especially as compared to other models, that goes away quickly. Indeed, the gunmetal and polished hairline effect has an air of quality and the overall package exudes attention to detail. If there’s one word that comes to mind in this phone it’s sturdy.

The nano-SIM and microSD card slots are tucked into the left and right edges, respectively. You can’t take the cover off and/or remove the battery; everything can be reached without digging under the hood.

The volume rocker (right side) is split in half with the power button sitting below the two. Looking closely you see a spiral pattern printed into the power/wake button. This helps make it easily identifiable without looking.

The One M9 is available in three color options: rose gold and silver, all-silver, and gunmetal. I’ve not spent any time with the other colors but I’ve seen them in person and find that all three are a nice touch that border on premium without pretense.

Depending on what kind of person you are you may want to get a protective case; there are plenty of official offerings to choose from. The One M9 can feel a tad slippery in the right (or wrong) conditions and the finish is not something you’ll want to scuff.

Along those lines, HTC’s Uh-Oh Protection plan is something you just don’t find in any other handset maker. Should you break the glass or crack the screen or even get water damage in the first year HTC will replace the phone for free. Hell, they’ll even extend the courtesy should you switch carriers in that same time frame.

The best part of this is that it comes free of charge and is just a perk of buying the One series. You can’t really put a price on this but it’s something I am sure some of us would have been glad to have in years past.

Camera

In an interesting twist, or about face, HTC has opted to go from UltraPixels back to megapixels in the M9. Yes, after spending so much effort on convincing us it in our interest to have UltraPixels, we’re given the standard unit of measurement (20-megapixels) in the 2015 flagship.  Well, that is, of course, except for the front-facing camera which is still UltraPixels.

The first few pictures I took with the One M9 were not what I would have liked but I would later learn it was the result of a software defect. HTC has since pushed an update and pictures are more accurate and much clearer. Also gone is the greenish vibe that was found in some images.

HTC One M9 camera samples

 

As I mentioned above, I did not review the One M8 so I cannot do a true comparison. However, looking through the reviews of others I get the sense that there isn’t a case of one camera being better than the other. In other words, we might have expected more behind the push to return to megapixels.

With that said, I found the camera to be very responsive even out of the box. I wager to guess that most users don’t dig deep when it comes to smartphone cameras. HTC, for its part, provides a really efficient setup for those who just want to snap pics in the moment.

In terms of the software side of the camera I really enjoy using the HTC One M9. There are a number of settings and controls to play with, some to satisfy the most powerful of users. Should you be the type of shooter who tweaks the ISO and white balance or toggles exposure settings, you’ll have plenty of tools.

On the other side of the coin there are some standard modes (Selfie, Panorama, etc) to choose from if you’re more of the “open and shoot” sort of user. Once you take your pics you can go in and remove red eye, add some particles, or create videos. Indeed, there are some fun settings to  play around with and a few of them produce really cool creations.

I don’t have any saved images from the front-facing camera but I can tell you it provides a much wider photo than other models. If you’re the selfie type of user (I am definitely not) then you will appreciate the picture quality and software for editing.

Overall Performance

Powered by a Qualcomm 810 processor and packing 3GB RAM, the One M9 screams along, handling everything you throw at it. Whether it’s an HD video, a massive first-person shooter game, or simply hopping from one app to another, this phone takes it all in stride.

You’ll have to look elsewhere for a head-to-head matchup or for benchmark scores. Our typical reader doesn’t care all that much for those sort of things, but we do know there’s a market for it. And, having a peek around the internet, we found the One M9 performs admirably and stands toe-to-toe with others recent models.

I like to keep my screen a touch more dim than my friends. I often set this on the first time I turn it on and never notice the difference. Keeping that in mind, I am consistently pulling in a full day’s work and play with this one. Even on days where I deliberately did not charge the phone I found myself going well into a second day before looking for a charger. I can image that playing with the power modes could push me two solid days.

If you’re in the market for a highly-rated, well-constructed smartphone you’ll have a difficult finding more for your money than the HTC One M9. Priced competitively to begin with, the Uh Oh Protection gives it an obvious edge.

I was thoroughly impressed with the software experience in this phone even though I didn’t love every aspect. While I do tend to prefer a more stock Android experience, I was not quick to hide or turn off the HTC stuff that comes out of the box.

Those who are graduating from the first or second generation One models will feel right at home. Likewise, those who are getting into their first smartphone altogether will be pleased with the ease and setup of the One M9.

The post HTC One M9 review appeared first on AndroidGuys.

21
Apr

Kraken A.M.S Case for the Samsung Galaxy S5 review


Finding a case for your shiny new Samsung Galaxy S5 can be as simple as getting the first case you see, or as hard as having to do hours upon hours of research to find one that will keep your device safe from the daily struggles of modern day life.Well, if you fall in the latter category, then do we have a great option for you. Today we are taking a look at one such case, the Kraken A.M.S Case for the Samsung Galaxy S5 by Trident, that not only offers a superb protection but does so in a sleek manner, a true rugged knight.

Trident Kraken AMS Series Case for the Samsung Galaxy S5 

Design and Build Quality

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The Kraken A.M.S Case is composed of hardened polycarbonate materials with over-molded shock-absorbing TPE, on both the outside and inside. On the corners, you also get some added protection where the shock absorbing padding is since one of the most likely places your phone is going to hit if it falls are the corners. While this is great and all, but how do they feel to the touch? Thankfully, the answer is comfortable. One of my biggest gripes with cases is how some of them tend to offer great protection, they look fantastic, but alas, they feel awful to the touch. The device is going to spend most of its time in our hands, so it only makes sense that case manufacturers take the time to make sure that they feel comfortable to the touch. Anyway, I digress.

There are two layers to the Kraken A.M.S Case, one being the front part that also hold the screen protector, and the bulk of the device, the back. The screen protector does have an opening on the bottom where the home button is so that, unfortunately, does not get any kind of protection. Most ports are covered to help keep out dust, but don’t expect the case to make your Samsung Galaxy S5 waterproof (which would be pointless, as the smartphone is waterproof straight from the factory.), but it will help keep out dust and other particles from touching the device. We all know that those evil dust bunnies are keen on ruining our lives.

  • Drop (Mil-STD-810F, Method 516.5) – 26 drops onto concrete from 4ft.
  • Vibration (Mil-STD-810F, Method 514.5) from 20-2000Hz across 3 different axes for a total of 18 hours.
  • Dust (Mil-STD-810F, Method 510.4) – blow dust for 3 hours at 29 ft / sec.
  • Sand (Mil-STD-810F, Method 510.4) – blow sand for 3 hours at 59 ft / sec.
  • Rain (Mil-STD-810F, Method 506.4) – 7.9 inches per hour of rain at 40 mph wind velocity for 1 hour.

Trident

Special Features

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One of the best features about the Kraken A.M.S Case for the Samsung Galaxy S5 is the stand on the back of the device. Now you can watch all of your favorite shows while you work on that essay that is due in an hour, you know, just watch your shows… The stand allows you to stand the device in both portrait or landscape modes.

On the back layer, you get one large opening where the camera is allowed to shine through and a smaller port on the lower left-hand corner where the speakers are located. Right in the middle you get the added bonus of a stand, which we will address in more detail later on.

Overall, the Kraken A.M.S Case provides protection from many kinds of damage, as it holds various kinds of certifications, such as:

Final Thoughts

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The Kraken A.M.S is a great option for those that like rugged cases. It provides excellent protection, and for the price, you would be hard-pressed to find a better case. The kickstand is a great added feature, and for those of you that like to carry your phones on your waist, it also comes with a belt holster. The Kraken A.M.S does what supposed to do, and that is protect your device from damage and the case delivers on that front. What makes it even better, in my personal opinion, is the comfort level I experience when using the device, which is usually not the case for cases of this kind. If you wish to purchase one for yourself, or just get some more information regarding the Kraken A.M.S, you can head over to Amazon using the link provided.

The post Kraken A.M.S Case for the Samsung Galaxy S5 review appeared first on AndroidGuys.

21
Apr

Sony’s new Android-powered 4K TVs will be available this May


Sony Bravia hands-on

Sony introduced its 2015 lineup of Android TV-powered 4K televisions back at CES 2015, and now the company has finally released pricing and availability information for most of its new television sets. Backed by the new 4K Processor X1, the TVs range in size anywhere from 43 to 75 inches and cost up to $8,000.

The majority of Sony’s televisions will go on sale to the public in May and are available for pre-order from today. The X830C (available in 43 and 49-inch versions) will be available for $1,299.99 and $1,599.99, respectively. The X850C is available in 55, 65 and 75-inch variants and will cost $2,199.99, $3,499.99 and $4,999.99. The 65-inch X930C and 75-inch X940C series will be available for $4,499.99 and $7,999.99, respectively.

At CES, we got a first-hand look at the 65-inch Sony X900C and 43-inch X830C televisions. Measuring less than 5mm thick, the X900C will ship later this summer in both 65 and 55-inch versions.  The X910C will also ship at the same time in a 75-inch version, although no pricing information has been revealed for any of these sets yet. Take a look at the video below for our first impressions.

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When autoplay is enabled videos will start playing automatically, you can turn off autoplay by clicking checkbox.

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It’s clear that these televisions are top-of-the-line products, but how do you feel about the price? Would you pick one of these up for yourself? Let us know what you think.

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21
Apr

Android 5.1.1 factory image arrives for the Nexus Player


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We first caught wind of Android 5.1.1 Lollipop a few days ago, as the build popped up on Google’s own Android Audio Latency website. The Nexus 7 (2013) and Nexus 9 were both listed as running this new version, but it looks like the first device to actually receive the update is the Nexus Player. Bringing the build number up to LMY47V, the Nexus Player’s 5.1.1 factory image is now available for download.

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Google released way more bugs than it wanted to in Android 5.0, and some of those even stayed around with the update to version 5.1. We’re not exactly sure what we’re going to see in this new update, but odds are, it’s filled with mostly bug fixes and performance improvements.

More on the Nexus Player

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We’ll certainly let you know as more factory images arrive for more devices. But for now, if you own a Nexus Player, you can download the factory image by clicking the link below. If you aren’t sure how to flash a factory image, be sure to check out our walkthrough. While the guide was designed for Android 5.0 Lollipop, the same overall process should apply. Just remember that things can go wrong, so be sure to flash at your own risk.



21
Apr

Adobe updates Lightroom app with support for RAW files, other improvements


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Adobe has announced several updates to their Lightroom CC platform, including some improvements specifically targeted at Android devices. Lightroom CC is Adobe’s answer to the ever increasing cloud-based service world and makes use of the Adobe Creative Cloud, combined with Lightroom features, to make life easy for image editors. For Android users who have the mobile Lightroom app, they will find they can now edit DNG, or RAW, files on their devices. The ability to produce DNG files is new to Android Lollipop if a device has a camera sensor capable of producing the file format. Users will also be able to open, edit and save files to their microSD card storage on Android devices. Adobe also added support for tablet devices where Lightroom was previously only usable on Android smartphones.

To use the Adobe Lightroom app, users do have to have an Adobe Creative Cloud Photography subscription plan. The nice thing about these plans is they give you access to a whole suite of apps, both mobile and on the desktop, and work on one platform is available on another platform if you need to switch. The Creative Cloud Photography plan runs $10 per month.

Along with the update to the mobile app, Adobe also updated the desktop app with a host of improvements like HDR merge, Panorama Merge, Facial Recognition, and a host of performance improvements.

You can grab the Adobe Lightroom app from the Play Store using the links below.

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Google Play Download Link

source: Adobe

Come comment on this article: Adobe updates Lightroom app with support for RAW files, other improvements

21
Apr

EU Commissioner denies any personal grudge against Google


Google_Logo_Headquarters_01Google is in the middle of an antitrust battle with the European Union, and the lawsuit has the potential to cost the company billions. It’s not a giant leap to assume the EU has a vendetta against Google for some reason, especially when other major government agencies like the FTC in the US have dismissed all of their antitrust investigations against the search engine, but the EU commissioner says that’s simply not the case.

Margrethe Vestager, competition commissioner of the European Union, says that she personally has no grudge against Google. She’s only interested in pursuing the company over their purported consumer domination.

On the subject of how regulations would be similar in other countries, Vestager said she wants to strengthen ties with other agencies to keep similar regulations in place so no one country would favor its own companies. Depending on how this ruling pans out, though, the US and Europe may have different stances on Google’s search engine tactics.

source: re/code

Come comment on this article: EU Commissioner denies any personal grudge against Google

21
Apr

Apple Offers Developers a Chance to Buy Apple Watch Sport With Guaranteed April 28 Delivery Date


Apple today began sending out emails to iOS developers, offering them a chance to purchase a 42mm Apple Watch Sport with a Blue Sport Band that has a guaranteed shipment date of April 28, 2015, in order to get them a device to begin testing apps on. Quantities of the watch are limited, and developers eligible to purchase a watch will be chosen by random selection.

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We want to help give Apple developers the opportunity to test their WatchKit apps on Apple Watch as soon as it is available. You have the chance to purchase one (1) Apple Watch Sport with 42mm Silver Aluminum Case and Blue Sport Band that’s guaranteed to ship by April 28, 2015.

This opportunity is offered by random selection and quantities are limited. Register now though April 23 at 10 a.m. PDT. We’ll let you know your status on April 23.

It’s not known why Apple is offering that particular watch combination to developers, but it can be assumed that the 42mm Aluminum Apple Watch Sport may be one of the devices that the company has an ample supply of, along with the Blue Sport Band.

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Confirmation screen after entering the lottery
A guaranteed April 28 delivery means developers who make a purchase will receive the Apple Watch Sport one week from today and four days after customers are expected to begin receiving the first Apple Watch devices.



21
Apr

UPS Tracking Numbers Start Trickling Out to Apple Watch Customers


As of yesterday afternoon, credit and debit cards have been charged and many Apple Watch pre-orders have begun shifting from “Processing Items” to “Preparing for Shipment” as Apple prepares to send out the first Apple Watch orders to customers who pre-ordered on Friday, April 10.

Shipment emails have yet to go out from Apple, but a few lucky customers have gotten a heads up on their orders through UPS’ “My Choice” opt-in emails, which lets people sign up to get notifications whenever a package is sent to their address. These emails suggest the first Apple Watch orders will indeed be arriving on Friday, April 24.

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On reddit, one Apple Watch buyer got what appears to be an accidental UPS notice about a package being unable to be delivered, letting him know his Apple Watch is on its way from Rialto, CA. We’ve also heard from a MacRumors reader who got a similar notice, with an alert about an upcoming Apple Watch package from Apple set to be delivered on Tuesday, April 21.

When checking that tracking number, it states that a UPS shipping label has been created and that the order has been processed and is ready for UPS. Both customers confirm they have no other orders such as accessories currently pending with Apple.

These alerts appear to have been delivered prematurely, as we’ve seen only these two reports of such notices, and it’s unlikely the readers who have a delivery alerts will receive their package before Friday, but they do give us our first hints that tracking numbers are starting to go out and may be showing up in shipment emails in the near future.

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While many people who pre-ordered early have had their credit or debit cards charged and have seen their order statuses change, there are some early pre-orderers who still have not had their orders shift to “Preparing for Shipment” as seen in this Google document. Space Gray Sport watches, Space Black stainless steel watches, and stainless steel watches with Milanese Loop, Classic Buckle, and Black Sport Band seem to make up the majority of those that have not yet seen a status change.

Apple Watch orders that have not yet changed should not cause alarm, as based on the early tracking info received, Apple is using Next Day Air shipments.

Customers who do have a “Preparing for Shipment” notification may be able to get an early look at where their watches are located by using UPS and FedEx’s “Track By Reference” tools, using a phone number to locate an order.



21
Apr

Google Play vulnerability allegedly lost woman “thousands” of dollars


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We’ve all heard nightmare stories about unexpected charges relating to our mobile devices, the majority of which can be traced back to children purchasing apps or making in-app purchases and often a lack of security on the part of a parent’s account. But what if you got online one day, checked your account and found that you’d be charged “thousands” and were adamant you had done nothing wrong? That’s the situation one Californian resident claims to be in.

Susan Harvey recently filed a lawsuit against Google claiming that between the period of April 2013 and May 2014 approximately 650 transactions had occurred that she was totally unaware of, alleging that her account was ‘hacked’. The total of the transactions reportedly came to thousands of dollars, though no exact amount has been publicly listed as far as we can tell.

First question you might have is “how the hell can you not notice thousands of dollars going missing from your account” — we’re right there with you. To be fair, this happened slowly over the course of an entire year and so it’s possible the hit wouldn’t be that noticeable to those that don’t keep a watchful eye over their bank accounts. Still, it’s always a good idea to review your bank account transactions at least on a weekly basis, if possible (friendly tip of the day).

Between the period of April 2013 and May 2014 approximately 650 transactions had occurred that the plantiff was totally unaware of, alleging that her account was ‘hacked’.

As for how Harvey first discovered the error? Apparently in March of 2013 Harvey bought her first Android phone, signed in with her Google email address, linked to her bank debit card, and downloaded her first app, a trial app that a little later she ended up updating to the full version. From there, she began enjoying her phone and never noticed any issue. It wasn’t until August of 2014 that she bought a second phone and was looking to transfer a paid app to her new phone that she stumbled upon the issue. She logged into her Google account and was “shocked to find approximately six hundred and fifty (650) listed transactions, the majority of which were unrecognizable to Plaintiff, and certainly not transactions conducted by Plaintiff.”

At the advice of both her bank and Google, she filed a police report but neither of these entities agreed to refund her the money. Harvey went on to contact the individual developers that were listed in her transaction history:

Almost every vendor that cooperated with Plaintiff advised her the same thing: they could not identify the transaction numbers as part of their billing and the transactions cited by Plaintiff are Google transactions under which Google is receiving monies.

The plantiff then went back to Google, which eventually acknowledged she didn’t authorize the transactions and the company then allegedly promised to refund her, but never did.

Bottom-line, the plantiff is suing for two reasons. First, Harvey believes that a security vulnerability in the Playstore allowed hackers to obtain her information and make fraudulent charge. As for the second reason, Harvey says that Google failed to notify the plantiff of the alleged security breach in a timely manner, and failed to promptly refund her for her fiscal lose.

If we had to take a guess, the root cause of Harvey’s issue probably boils down to one of two things: a weak password or a malicious app. If it’s the former, Google really can’t help that. If it’s the latter, and the app she initially bought caused the breach due to malicious code, then she probably has a pretty strong case. What do you think, do you buy the story here? In your opinion, is Google likely at fault or is bad security practices on the plantiff’s part just as likely the culprit?

Lesson learned? Pay attention to your finances!



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