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Google aims to make Android the safest mobile platform in the world


Safer apps make for a safer phone.

Google’s new Security for Android Developers page has a pretty bold statement as it’s tagline:

Our goal is to make Android the safest mobile platform in the world. That’s why we consistently invest in technologies that bolster the security of the platform, its applications, and the global Android ecosystem.

Google is pretty transparent when it comes to Android security, and the past year or so has seen media outlets pick up more and more of what they are doing. It’s important and interesting to know what’s going on when it comes to things that threaten your privacy and finances through your phone. It’s equally important and interesting to read about the things being done to keep us safer from them.

One place where Google is being more visible is best security practices for the people who build the apps we love to use. The new Security for Android Developers page is a great example.

Making essential information more visible is a key step to more secure apps.

It’s a portal for developers to read everything they need to know and how to do those things in order to make their apps as safe as they can be. Google has always had this information available at the Android Developers site, but the new landing page is friendly and shows you exactly what you would be looking for when writing a secure Android app. The resources available are a great way for anyone in the business to understand the how and why when it comes to mobile security, and then gives examples of how to incorporate the best practices. This means better apps, and making it easy for developers is a great move.

Things that threaten our privacy and data aren’t ever going to go away. In fact, many analysts feel that we’re going to be seeing even more of it done in sneakier ways. Anything a big tech company can do to assist developers in fighting them is welcomed.


LG G6 might come with Google Assistant (and maybe even Alexa)

LG’s next flagship might be getting coveted feature: Google Assistant.

Oh, and maybe Amazon Alexa.

Currently, the only phones with Google Assistant are the Google Pixel and Pixel XL. If LG were add Assistant to the upcoming LG G6, it would make LG the first brand outside of Google to use the Assistant. But that’s not all: LG Electronics is also open to cooperating with Amazon.

  • LG G6: What’s the story so far?

And all this is according to Business Korea. We’re not sure whether this means both services would be featured in the phone. For now, it seems like Assistant is looking most likely. However, LG has been embedding Amazon’s Alexa into several home appliances, which were unveiled at CES 2017, so this wouldn’t be the first collaboration between the two. Also, Huawei Mate 9 is a phone that features Alexa.

If it seems absurd to imagine one smartphone running two voice assistants, consider what Sonos’ CEO said to Variety on Friday. He wants Sonos speakers to feature not only Amazon Alexa, but also Google Assistant and any other voice assistant available on the market. But who knows how that would actually work – let alone whether the different partners would even consider such a thing.

  • Mobile World Congress 2017: Nokia, Sony, Huawei smartphones and more

LG is also rumored to use Google Assistant to power its next line of Android Wear smartwatches, which are also set to unveil next month at the Mobile World Congress show. Either way, Pocket-lint will be there to tell you as it happens whether the phone and watches get Assistant.


Kickstarter shuts down sketchy Adoptly campaign

About a week ago, a brain-dead campaign hit Kickstarter. Adoptly promised that adoption was “just a swipe away” through its Tinder-style app that let you find adoptable children. It was a terrible way to frame such a service, and something about the whole situation just didn’t make sense, despite assurances from the company that it was legit. Apparently, Kickstarter also feels that something is amiss here: the Adoptly campaign was just suspended.

In this situation, all funding is returned to the backers (in this case, 16 backers had pledged a total of $4,000 thus far) and the decision cannot be reversed. Kickstarter doesn’t say why it suspends projects, but its list of reasons includes a variety of reasons around misrepresentation that seem to be appropriate here.

In all liklihood, this decision won’t affect the outcome (assuming Adoptly was real to begin with). The campaign had only made $4,000 off of a $150,000 goal, so funding was unlikely to happen to begin with. Earlier this week, The Verge noted that most of its team was unable to be found on social media, LinkedIn or other places that you’d expect to find startup founders.

A Kickstarter spokesperson noted that the company doesn’t comment on individual suspensions and pointed me to the aforementioned list of reasons a campaign can get shut down. While the Kickstarter has been suspended, Adoptly’s website remains up, at least for now.

Source: Adoptly (Kickstarter)


Trump at 2AM: The new Oval Office in virtual reality

Donald Trump stands before me with a grim look on his face, lightly leaning against the Oval Office’s Resolute desk. Moonlight pours in through the office’s rear windows as a phone quietly rings. It’s 2am, and something has happened — and a new President holds the weight of the world on his shoulders. I’m looking at this surreal, frozen scene through the lens of an HTC Vive. It’s a free virtual reality experience called “Wide Awake,” and it tells a simple, concise story: no matter who Donald Trump was before or what you may have thought of him, he’s now the guy who answers the phone when shit hits the fan.

Staring at the President’s visage through virtual reality is a little like visiting a wax museum. Donald Trump stands unmoving, frozen in time — but his face looks like it could spring to life at any moment. The VR experience’s description boasts that virtual Trump is the “most photo-realistic human you will see in virtual reality today,” and he really is. Standing at the President’s official height of 6’3, virtual Trump towers over me, his face creased with intensity. His left knee bends slightly off the ground.

As the phone rings, it’s hard to tell if he’s sitting back in reflection, or preparing to spring off the desk into action. The ambiguity seems intentional. “We see Trump in VR as art,” co-creator John MacInnes explains. “A tableau vivant, in the American tradition of artists like Edward Hopper in painting, Gregory Crewdson and Cindy Sherman in photography.” Indeed, Wide Awake serves as a living picture — it’s as frozen as a painting, but a light in the player’s hand gives them some control over how the scene looks. And while the subject is frozen, the world around him isn’t. The ringing phone continues to add tension to the scene. Who is this new president? What is his reaction to a middle of the night emergency?

The work doesn’t answer this question — it merely offers a view of public service the average citizen will never see. Someday soon, Donald Trump will be awoken by a midnight call and rush to the West Wing. He’ll be called upon to make life and death decisions most of us can scarcely imagine.

The experience was actually created before the election, but was only released to the public on the Vive store on the dawn of Donald Trump’s inauguration. It has more impact this way, portraying a definite future instead of a potential one. It’s also an incredibly surreal experience to have just minutes after the President is sworn in.

Source: Macinnes Scott, VivePort


South Korean ‘World of Warcraft’ cooking show goes live tonight

The seminal MMORPG World of Warcraft may have dwindled from its peak of 12 million players back in 2010, but Blizzard’s still supporting the 12-year-old game with content and events. To celebrate the latest expansion, Legion, the studio built an elaborate cafe at Germany’s Gamescom convention that served themed food and cocktails. But for everyone who couldn’t fly out to Europe for some nerd cuisine, they’ve lined up the next best thing: A cooking show debuting tonight hosted by Choi Hyun-seok, a famous chef known for appearances on South Korean television.

Wow! Recipe? The Meal Is Ready, as it’s titled, debuts tonight at 11 PM KT. According to GameAbout, Choi a known WoW player, will cook dishes like ‘Hell Hound Sweet and Sour Fish’ and ‘Murlok Soup’ while guests share stories from and about the game.

Via: Kotaku

Source: GameAbout


Track Trump will keep tabs on the President’s first 100 days

President Trump was clear about the goals of his first 100 days in office before the election was even over, eventually laying out those goals in a PDF titled “Donald Trump’s Contract with the American Voter.” While Trump’s policies can often be obscured by his tweetstorms and rhetoric, the folks behind Track Trump hope to cut out all the noise and make it easy to track those promises in a simple, non-partisan dashboard that will hold the new administration accountable for the promises they’ve made to the American voters.

The site was created by Y Combinator president Sam Altman, along with cofounders Alec Baum, Gregory Koberger, and Peter Federman, and is laid out to be as straightforward as possible. Trump’s contract-bound promises are sorted into main categories like Immigration, Trade, Energy & Climate, Federal Government, Economic Policy, Education, Healthcare and Safety. Each bulleted item follows a simple stoplight system: gray means no action has been taken yet, yellow if the administration has started taking action on that particular policy and green if that policy has been implemented.

To keep things sane, the site’s founders say they will not be covering tweets or public statements — only making updates when work has actually been done to implement a particular policy. Updates to individual items, like the first steps taken to eliminate the defense sequester and expand military investment, will link directly to the primary sources. As with any tech project, the site is a work in progress and open to suggestions from the community and as Altman told Venture Beat, the site may pivot and focus on other issues once we’ve survived the first 100 days.

Source: Track Trump


‘House of Cards’ returns for its fifth season on May 30th

Netflix couldn’t have found a more ideal moment to tease season five of House of Cards. In the midst of Donald Trump’s inauguration as the 45th president of the US, the streaming service announced that its hit show is returning on May 30th. The slogan for the new episodes appears to be “We make the terror,” which could signal that the Underwood family is still up to no good. No surprise there.

As a reminder, the fifth season will be the first without the show’s original creator and writer, Beau Willimon, who earlier this year said it was time for him “to move on with new endeavors.” The political drama could definitely benefit from fresh ideas though, since it seems to have lost a bit of steam compared to its first couple of seasons.

We make the terror.

— House of Cards (@HouseofCards) January 20, 2017

Source: Netflix (Twitter)


Questionable Rumor Suggests Group FaceTime is Coming in iOS 11

Group FaceTime calls will be a new feature introduced in iOS 11, according to an unverified rumor shared by Israeli site The Verifier. Citing “several people familiar with iOS development,” the site says group FaceTime calls are being worked on by Apple’s iOS 11 team, with some of the work taking place in Israel.

Said to be a “social” update that focuses on iMessage and FaceTime development, iOS 11 will reportedly let users start multi-person calls through a group conversation in iMessage. Up to five people at once will be able to participate in a call.

The Verifier is not a site with an established track record for accurate rumors, so it is not clear how reliable this information is. We’ve heard few details on iOS 11 at this point in time, so the rumor should be viewed with skepticism until backed up by a secondary source.

The site also says that Apple could choose not to release group FaceTime calls in iOS 11, instead saving the feature for a future update.

Group FaceTime calls have been a long-desired feature on iOS and Mac devices, and would go a long way towards bringing FaceTime more in line with Microsoft’s Skype software, which allows several people to communicate with one another through video chats.

iOS 11 will likely be released alongside new iPhones in the fall of 2017, but we expect to see a preview of the new software at the Worldwide Developers Conference, likely to be held in June of 2017.

Tags: FaceTime, iOS 11
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Giuliani as Trump’s cybersecurity adviser is an unfunny joke

I had just finished hacking the Gibson when I heard the news: Rudy Giuliani, the guy who said he was gonna solve cybersecurity, had just been named Trump’s cyber advisor. I hopped onto our hacker mafia’s government-proof encrypted chat app to make sure everyone knew that we were in real trouble. When I got no response from Mr. Robot or Anonymous I got my rollerblades on, and got out of my mom’s basement as fast as possible.

I dialed our ringleader with a secret, anti-authority encrypted phone app while hacking all the traffic lights between here and his mom’s basement as I raced over. When he picked up I blurted, “Stop hacking baby monitors and trying to crash the stock market!”

He yelled, “What?!” I realized I’d forgotten to take my balaclava off! I shouted that Big Rudy was the new hacker sheriff in town, and all us hackers were gonna have to go underground. Tears spilled down the front of my ninja costume as I wobbled on my ‘blades, telling him our days of taking out the internet for lulz and raking in piles of bitcoin from ransomed AOL accounts was over.

In reality, we have plenty of reasons to worry. Before Rudy Giuliani was named Donald Trump’s official presidential Cybersecurity Advisor, the former New York City mayor had made a number of things crystal clear about his intentions towards hackers and the cyber. For one, he’d been pretty up front about the fact that he got into cybersecurity dealmaking for the money. Giuliani was emphatic over many years and at every opportunity that he was going to be the guy to “solve cybersecurity.”

Hacking, he said on several occasions, was like cancer. It was the worst word he could think of to call information security research. And finally, he never wavered from his belief that hackers were not only like the mafia, but that they could never, ever be trusted — especially so-called “reformed” hackers. Giuliani always made sure that people knew he couldn’t be fooled by that principle of the justice system.

All his talk of hackers as permanent criminals spreading cancer has no doubt bolstered the beliefs of conservatives in Trump’s extreme right pocket, who didn’t need help imagining pedophiles and lawless balaclava-wearing basement dwellers (or Asians in faraway hives). Like most things we’ve seen come out of Trump’s surreal fright show, Giuliani’s working hard to encourage that people and press wallow in these manipulative, lurid fantasies.

That’s why most hackers and infosec professionals found it all kinds of disturbing that Trump will be using Giuliani as his go-to for advice on all things cyber. It’s not just that he counts one of his qualifications as the fact that he’s given over 300 speeches on how everyone’s ignoring the scourge of hacking. Giuliani’s not great at following advice when it comes to security. When he was advised against moving New York City’s emergency services into the World Trade Center because it wasn’t a good call, he did it anyway. Right before 9/11.

It didn’t make anyone in the infosec sectors feel better when Giuliani announced he would be forming a cybersecurity team for the President-elect. Rudy isn’t exactly a team player when it comes to computer security matters. When the NYPD commissioner built a “computer statistics” system for crime, Giuliani did the equivalent of having him banished — forcing him out — to prevent credit going to anyone but Giuliani.

According to the Trump Transition’s official announcement, Rudy’s team will advise the leader of the free world on issues “concerning private sector cyber security problems and emerging solutions developing in the private sector.”

Things only got worse when, the minute the announcement was made, infosec denizens did impromptu security assessments of and Both servers were described as having sat for years with the equivalent of a “hack me” sign on them — meaning that both were likely hacked long ago. The laundry list of years-old unpatched vulnerabilities, nearly two dozen active exploits, and overall security failures was astonishing.

Team Giuliani didn’t respond to all the public attention around the nearly-comic website security failings of both sites. By January 14, both and suddenly failed to resolve in DNS, making both sites unavailable to the public. But, as of this writing, the server addresses remained (just visit, showing that whoever attempted to pull the sites only removed the DNS entry — but left Giuliani’s vulnerable servers online.

Whether or not Giuliani manages those servers himself is beside the point: This is the worst possible resume anyone in this position could have. It’s embarrassing and avoidable, and displays a blatant disregard for even the most basic cybersecurity practices. It is the behavior of someone who carelessly believes he is an exception to the rules everyone else must live by. It sends a terrible message to an industry struggling for both legitimacy and a voice with regard to US policy, and in every way possible.

Giuliani has been interested in cybersecurity since he read an FBI report in 2003 predicting a hacking crimewave, and instantly decided he needed to build a business around it. That business was Giuliani Partners, a security consulting company. His naming to Trump’s post comes one week after Giuliani Partners, had announced its new partnership with Blackberry. The recently released BlackBerry Secure platform will provide the underlying software for Giuliani Partners’ cybersecurity consulting product, whatever that will be.

Under these auspices, the future of cybersecurity policy looks dark. Given how much Giuliani hates hackers and believes he’s the king of cops, we can probably expect to see the cyber version of “stop and frisk” coming out of Trump’s inevitably opportunistic Giuliani-led Cybersecurity Working Group.

It’s clear the incoming powers-that-be don’t think very highly of hackers and hacking. Nor do they understand the subtleties of how hackers are actually the entire underpinning of infosec, let alone how important it is to this sector that someone like Giuliani models even the most basic website security. By Giuliani saying stupid things about infosec while pretending entire hacking communities didn’t just call out his own cybersecurity as literally the worst possible ever, he’s a complete hypocrite for even stepping into the ring. And if there’s anything that gets exposed faster and louder than an anti-gay senator on Grindr, it’s hypocrisy in security.

This is a business and culture that believes the teeny-tiniest details matter really and has witnessed firsthand that one careless step can topple businesses, and ruin lives. Unlike Rudy Giuliana, the people in cybersecurity have dedicated everything to giving a shit about getting things right.

So if Giuliani and his sideshow of opportunists want to think of hackers as some kind of criminal cancer, they’re doomed from the start. Thought pieces by armchair infosec pundits can try to tell us Giuliani should be taken seriously in this role all they want. But I can’t think of doing anything worse for the future of cybersecurity right now.

Images: Craig F. Walker/The Boston Globe via Getty Images (Lead image); United Artists/Getty Images (Hackers movie still); REUTERS/Mike Segar (Giuliani and Trump).


Tesla’s latest 100D models focus on range, not power

Tesla has proved that the Model S P100D goes as fast as you’d ever want, and it now has a model that goes farther than ever. As expected, it quietly started selling the Model S 100D with the same battery as the P100D, but lacking the performance tweaks. The new 335 mile range (compared to 315 for the P100D) is the best ever for a Tesla (not counting the upgraded Roadster), and by far, the most range of any EV on the market. At the same time, Elon Musk’s company released the Model X 100D with 295 miles of range compared to the performance variant’s 289 miles.

If you’ve got $80,000-plus to spend on a car, it frankly seems like a no-brainer to get the 100D instead of the 90D in either the Model S or X, as both cost just $3,000 more. The larger battery in the Model X gives it an extra 38 miles of range, while the Model S gains 41.

Mechanically, the main difference between the P100D and 100D is the drivetrain, as Tesla forum users point out. The P100D option features a larger rear “high performance motor,” giving it more oomph but slightly less efficiency (you can see that by clicking between “dual motor” and “P100D” on this product page). As Musk points out in the performance launch post, the P-model battery is also upgraded to safely increase battery output.

To put things in perspective, the Model S 100D still hits 155 mph and gets from 0-60 mph in 4.2 seconds. Sure, that’s slower than the P100D’s 2.39 seconds with the new Ludicrous Plus mode, but it’s still about the same as a Corvette Stingray. Yet, the 20 miles of extra range could easily make the difference between being comfy at home and stuck on a freeway. And the P100D costs nearly $40,000 more than the 100D, which seems like ludicrous amount (sorry) for a bit more acceleration.

Via: Techcrunch

Source: Tesla

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