• Apps

    by Published on 08-29-2017 07:00 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Apps



    As a Pebbler I'm supposed to hate Fitbit with a passion, despite the fact that they've mostly made good on their promise to keep Pebble servers up and running through the end of 2017. But I'm also a big fan of mobile tap-and-pay solutions, especially if they actually work in Canada. And it turns out that Fitbit's new Ionic smartwatch, made official yesterday, supports NFC-based payments from your wrist.

    What's a hard done by smartwatch enthusiast to do?

    This feature is almost certainly a result of Fitbit acquiring Coin last May, and by all reports will work exactly like you see in the photo above. Fitbit will only say that AMEX, MasterCard and VISA cards are supported; I dug around a little bit and found an unverified list of launch partners:

    ANZ
    Banco Santander
    Bank of America
    Capital One
    HSBC
    KBC Bank Ireland
    Royal Bank of Canada
    US Bank

    For some perspective on this, Apple Pay already enables wrist-based payments with an Apple Watch, and any Android Wear device with NFC should have the same functionality. The biggest hurdle for Fitbit Pay will inevitably be the ugliness of its first proper smartwatch—it's every bit as hideous as the leak we saw earlier this month.

    Source: Mobile Syrup, TechRadar, The Verge

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    by Published on 08-21-2017 07:00 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Rumors,
    3. Apps



    I'm having a hard time believing that this is in any way official artwork for the next version of Android, but I can't fault the source—Evan Blass rarely, if ever, get's this stuff wrong. If he's right, expect Android Oreo to be made official by the end of the day.

    It would be the first confectionery co-branding since Android KitKat, almost four years ago. That version of the platform introduced the Android Runtime as a technology preview which would eventually replace the Dalvik Virtual Machine; Oreo's most welcome feature will likely end up being Project Treble, a reworking of the OS as a modular base to enable more efficient OEM customizations and (hopefully) faster software updates for end users.

    Google has scheduled a web event to coincide with the solar eclipse rolling across the USA later today. Their livestream will start broadcasting at 2:40pm Eastern Time, so we won't be in the dark about the next version of Android for much longer...

    Sources: @android, @evleaks

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    by Published on 08-09-2017 07:45 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Apps



    Welcome back to your Pebble appreciation station. Today I'm here to tell you about a limited edition soft cover book showcasing the work of premier watchface designer Albert Salamon, who sells his work in the Pebble app store under the TTMM brand.

    Watchface design, particularly on a 144 by 168 pixel canvas, can be a very subjective thing, but this designer has actually won awards for his work. His book, available through eBay, features 100 TTMM faces—including some that haven't even been released yet! As a bonus, you'll receive a customized KiezelPay code that will unlock everything you see in the book.



    These are the two TTMM faces that I have installed on my own Pebble Time Steel. FEELTTMM (left) shows you the current temperature via a colour panel which changes from blue to yellow to green to red depending on how cold or hot it is outside. TTMMBRN is a funky LCD-style face paying tribute to the Jason Bourne movies (which I've never seen). Yes, my step counter is at zero, but I just woke up. Gimme a break, here...

    Mr. Salamon's book is limited to 100 copies and ships from his native Poland for less than $20 USD.

    Links: eBay via reddit

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    by Published on 08-04-2017 07:00 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Apps



    ... But only on Verizon, at least for the moment—an unlocked version is coming soon to Amazon. In Canada it's already available unlocked from Canada Computers and Memory Express.

    If you didn't know, "AR" stands for augmented reality; the ZenFone AR is the world's second-ever production handset to support Google's Project Tango, preceded only by the gargantuan (and also underpowered) Lenovo Phab Pro 2. Apps that support Project Tango are few and far between. Current showpieces include Lowe's Vision, which lets you preview Lowe's appliances and furniture in your own home, and Hot Wheels Track Builder, where you can lay out orange tracks to your heart's content in an entirely virtual space. The ZenFone AR also supports Daydream (Google's VR), and there are many more available titles which you can use with that.

    The phone's notable specs are as follows:

    Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 processor
    5.7 inch Super AMOLED QHD display
    23 megapixel rear camera
    Four-axis OIS and three-axis video stabilization
    4K video recording
    8 megapixel selfie cam
    6 or 8 GB of RAM
    64 or 128 GB of storage
    3,300 mAh battery
    Android 7.0 Nougat

    There are actually three variants of the ZenFone AR: one with 6 GB of RAM and 64 GB of storage for $599 USD ($899 CAD), another with 8 GB of RAM and 128 GB of storage for $699 USD and also a Verizon-exclusive version with 6 GB of RAM and 128 GB of storage for $649 USD.

    CNET has an in-depth preview of the phone with video and a gallery of photos; for links to that along with current buying options see directly below.

    Links: Canada Computers, CNET, Memory Express, Verizon

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    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
    Code:
    chrome://flags
    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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    by Published on 07-26-2017 07:00 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Tips,
    3. Apps



    Last week I wrote about issues that some Pebble users are having with their Android app, hammering Pebble's servers and in so doing killing their phone's battery. Fitbit has promised to support Pebblers only through to the end of 2017, but with their own proper smartwatch on the way it seems inevitable that Pebble servers will one day be powered down.

    Fortunately, if you're an Android user, there's an app for that: it's called Gadgetbridge. Available via F-Droid, it also supports Mi Band and Zeblaze fitness trackers. For Pebble it will give your watch 85% of the functionality it had with the companion Pebble app, and zero dependence on Pebble's servers.

    Let's have a look!



    This is the app's control center, where you'll see all your connected devices (I just have the one). The grey icons along the bottom row are, from left to right, your watch's battery level, a screenshot utility, your installed apps and watchfaces, your fitness data (stored locally on your phone) and another utility to buzz your watch if you've lost it.



    Here's a list of the watchfaces I have installed on my Pebble. Gadgetbridge has no direct connection to Pebble's app store, but you can use any web browser to download your desired face (or app) to your phone, and then install it locally from there. Just follow the instructions on the Gadgetbridge wiki here.



    So here's something I didn't know; the configuration page for watchface settings are actually remote web pages maintained by developers—GitHub in the example above. To protect you from malicious sites Gadgetbridge will show you the URL of the configuration site rather than taking you there directly.



    Once you've configured your watchface Gadgetbridge will show you a preview of your settings before sending them on to your watch, presumably to protect you from malicious code. I don't have a problem with this.

    Pebble and its community have done a fantastic job of making software available for the now-unsupported hardware. If and when the app store goes offline, no matter; someone on reddit is sharing their entire download of it. Likewise, there's no need to worry if your Pebble goes down; you can reinstall your watch firmware via Gadgetbridge, and links to the latest versions are available on their wiki.

    In terms of functionality it's easier to tell you what doesn't work rather than what still does. Switching to Gadgetbridge will basically remove the option of using your voice with your Pebble. You won't be able to initiate text messages but you can reply to them from your watch with your own canned responses, entered via the phone app. Gadgetbridge is very serious about protecting you, and as a policy will not allow any app or watchface to connect to the Internet directly; as a result apps like TripAdvisor and Yelp will be quite useless. If you use a watchface with a weather complication there is a fairly ugly hack that works for only a few faces, but will at least provide weather data for the native weather app on Pebble OS.

    For me the choice was obvious: have the official Pebble Android app continue to murder my phone's battery or give up some features and use Gadgetbridge instead. I should point out that I also own three Android Wear watches, and yet even with the reduced functionality it's still the Pebble that most often ends up on my wrist!

    Links: F-Droid, Gadgetbridge

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    by Published on 07-20-2017 07:45 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Apps



    Yup, my Pebble's connected... but not for long.

    Shortly after grabbing this screen from my phone I uninstalled the Pebble app for Android and powered down my Pebble Time Steel. Again. Just to explain what's going on here, it's the notification panel of my phone, with a frame from an excellent Android utility called OS Monitor, showing that the Pebble companion app is using almost 30% of my CPU. That translates to a battery drain of about 10% per hour. Where I often go to bed before midnight with a half-full battery, since firing up my Pebble again my phone has never even made it to dinner on a full charge.

    So what's going on here? According to a user on the Pebble Forums the app is hammering the Pebble servers for some unknown reason. And the only reliable fix for afflicted devices is to force them into offline mode—that is, sever any connection beyond the Bluetooth link between phone and watch. Unfortunately this kills much of the functionality that made Pebble so great: weather data, speech-to-text, Pebble Health... The watch faces I depended on when I was a full-time Pebbler all had weather complications; without them a big part of Pebble's appeal is lost.

    But wait, there's more!



    Pebblers have also reported that thumbnails for their watch faces and apps are disappearing from the phone app, like you can see above (it happened to me as well). This one can at least be fixed. The problem, as described on r/pebble, is a faulty certificate—the thumbnails actually aren't local to your phone, but live instead on Pebble servers for some reason. Running an Android app called Packet Capture can fix the connection and restore your thumbnails, at least temporarily.

    Of course that still may leave you with a watch that murders your phone battery. What I thought would be a fun couple of days getting re-acquainted with my Pebble turned out to be a bit of a nightmare. Maybe Fitbit should just shut down their Pebble servers altogether and be done with it.

    Sources: Pebble Forums, reddit

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    by Published on 07-17-2017 06:45 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Apps



    With Alexa and Echo it was only a matter of time, I suppose...

    Yesterday a site called AFTVnews spilled the beans on a survey that's been circulating among Amazon users, indicating that the company is getting into the messaging racket. The name they're going with is Anytime; I've transcribed the text from a separate graphic detailing its features:

    Everything you've always wanted in a messaging app—and a whole lot more!

    Everyone's on it. Reach all your friends just using name. No numbers needed.

    Private & secure. Keep chats private and encryt [sp] important messages (like bank account details)

    Works everywhere. Chat seamlessly across desktop or mobile, iPhone or Android

    Great for groups. With @mentions, fast photo sharing and video chat, group messaging is easy and fun

    High-quality voice & video calls. Call a friend one-on-one or get on a group call; it's always free.

    Express yourself. Mix up your conversations with GIFs, stickers and emojis.

    Filters for photos and videos: Make video calls and pics fun with special effects and masks.

    Game on: Challenge friends and groups to games

    Customize chats: Color code your conversations or add nicknames for your friends

    New ways to hang out: Share your location, listen to music, order food together, split a bill, and a lot more; all in Anytime

    Chat with businesses: Get super service, on your terms: make reservations, check on your orders, and even shop!
    Chatting with businesses will likely be the big—possibly the only—reason for anyone to use this. UPS, for example, would do well to have a chatbot in place at launch to field all those queries for late and/or missing packages.

    Source: AFTVnews.com via TechCrunch, XDA

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    by Published on 07-04-2017 07:15 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Reviews and Hands-on,
    3. Apps



    Mobile wallet fatigue. It's a thing. And perhaps my only excuse for glossing over the announcement of Paytm in Canada this past spring. Over the long weekend I finally got the chance to download the Android version of the app and have a look. In its current form it's nothing like what users in India would enjoy, but it does hold some value for Canadians.

    The homeland version, viewable at Paytm.com, looks like an Indian equivalent to WeChat—that is, an entire m-commerce ecosystem where you can pay bills, buy goods online, pay for physical goods at a store and send money to friends or family. I can best describe the Canadian version by comparing it to another Canadian Fintech innovation, Plastiq.

    Plastiq is a service that enables the payment of utility bills, taxes and almost any professional service by credit card. It does this by issuing and mailing a cheque on the user's behalf and charging their supported card for the same amount, plus a transaction fee. If you've ever wondered how yours truly can afford to travel so much, a big part of it is my almost fanatical obsession with earning points on my credit cards—and thanks to Plastiq I'm now earning those points on my property taxes and even condo fees.

    The only problem is that Plastiq's commission is pretty high, up to 2.5% on each cheque they cut depending on which credit card you charge it to. And this is where Paytm swoops in to save the day: as part of their launch promotion you can currently use it to pay most of the same bills without incurring any extra fees. Plastiq does give you the ability to manually add a payee yourself, but Paytm has an impressive payee list of its own. So far I've been using it to pay my mom's utility bills while my brothers and I figure out what to do with her house.

    Some additional factors that might sway you towards one service or the other: Plastiq is currently available in app form for iOS only (Android users can use a mobile or desktop web browser), but Paytm offers no browser login whatsoever—it's app-only for Android and iOS. And while both Paytm and Plastiq are available in Canada, Plastiq is the only available option for our friends in the USA.

    Links: Paytm Canada, Paytm.com, Plastiq

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    by Published on 06-15-2017 07:45 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Commentary and Analysis,
    3. Apps



    This isn't going to end well...

    I've nothing but respect for XDA recognized developer topjohnwu, but brazenly tweeting Google to boast that you've thwarted their tampering detection for Android is kinda dumb. I mean, it's fantastic that he was able to do it, just dumb to brag about it.

    I first wrote about topjohnwu's Magisk last month, and have been relying on it ever since. It's killer feature, Magisk Hide, does what no other Android rooting solution has been able to: hide root from SafetyNet-enabled apps. So Android Pay now works with root; ditto for other banking apps, Netflix, Nintendo games, and so on.

    The first hurdle for Magisk came two weeks ago, when the Magisk Manager app was pulled from the Play Store, not a huge deal because the flashable zip file—which includes the Magisk Manager apk—remains on XDA. Now a SafetyNet update seems to have broken Magisk Hide, but the issue is easily solved by updating to a beta version of Magisk. The sole developer of this incredible effort took to XDA to assure users:

    I personally think there really is no effective method to prevent magiskhide to work, unless there exist some ways that's beyond my knowledge; they add more checks, and I hide more. Since Magisk is running as root but the SafetyNet checks are not, we are more privileged than the detection method, and as a result we have MUCH more control over what the SN process can see.
    I don't doubt any of this, but I really hope that topjohnwu's Twitter braggadocio doesn't draw the ire of Google and end up ruining Magisk for everyone.

    Sources: @topjohnwu on Twitter, XDA (1) (2)

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    by Published on 06-12-2017 07:15 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Commentary and Analysis,
    3. Apps



    Here's another bombshell from WWDC last week: iOS 11 brings with it a brand new file format for storing photos. It's called the High Efficiency Image Format and uses the unwieldy suffix you see above. It's a new standard developed by the Motion Picture Experts Group (MPEG) and is used in video compression as well.

    I found a helpful side-by-side visual comparison of HEIF and other file formats on this Nokia Github page. While I'm not seeing the claimed 50% smaller file sizes for still images, HEIF does very well against animated GIFs. So there's an obvious benefit here for Apple's proprietary Live Photos.

    But here is also where HEIF gets a bit contentious. The HEIF image format is also part of a new video codec called HEVC (High Efficiency Video Codec) which will compete against another video codec called AV1. Whereas HEVC support requires licensing from no less than four patent pools, AV1 will be royalty free. Perhaps because of this AV1 already has broad support from companies including Adobe, Amazon, AMD, ARM, Broadcom, Cisco, Google, Intel, Microsoft, Mozilla, Netflix and Nvidia.

    How you feel about open standards versus user experience will very likely influence your opinions on HEIF. But hopefully our apps, browsers and desktop streaming boxes will be able to support both.

    Sources: JPEGmini Blog, Nokia Tech Github, XDA

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    by Published on 06-06-2017 07:00 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Apps



    Congratulations, Apple fans! Your iOS 11-powered device looks to be less like an electronic appliance and more like a proper pocket computer. According to The Next Web one of the many features coming to the new version of Apple's smartphone OS is a native file manager; The Verge's reporting on the same story points to a placeholder listing for an app called "Files" on the App Store.

    You might think that such a basic utility would be a prerequisite for any modern smartphone, but in my experience that hasn't been the case. Android only recently added file managing functionality, buried in your device settings—you can access it by navigating to Settings > Storage > Explore. Some OEM Android ROMs, like Oxygen OS on my OnePlus 3, do have their own native file managers, as do the majority of custom ROMs (at least the ones I've tried). And there are, of course, a variety of third-party file managers available on both Google Play and the App Store.

    It must also be remembered that with the iPhone Apple brought smartphones to the masses, and along with it the danger of overwhelming new users with features that they may not need, at least not right away. Conversely, anyone who has ever used a desktop computer should be able to grasp the relatively easy concept of browsing files on a device.

    Here's a question for iPhone users reading this: what have you been using for file management up to now?

    Sources: The Next Web, The Verge

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    by Published on 06-02-2017 07:00 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Apps



    Everything you need to know is in this image, really, but I'll walk you through it just so you're clear.

    This past Wednesday Mobile Syrup reported that Android Pay was officially available in Canada, and then quickly added an addendum that it was actually only partially available—RBC and TD joined AMEX in not being a launch partner. Here's what RBC had to say on the matter:

    “While we are not participating in the launch of Android Pay at this time, RBC clients with Android mobile devices can use their RBC Wallet to safely and securely pay for purchases. The RBC Wallet on Android gives users convenient access to their payment and gift cards at the point of sale.”
    Except that it doesn't.

    Launch the RBC Wallet and you must choose your RBC card as the default for NFC payments. Launch the AMEX Android app and you must likewise choose your AMEX card as the default for NFC payments. I haven't tried the TD app but I imagine it's the same story. Want the option of using your AMEX, RBC and TD cards for NFC payments? You'll have to wait until those banks quit their bulls**t and start supporting Android Pay.

    Until then make no mistake: mobile payments are still broken in this country, just not quite so much as they were before.

    Links: Mobile Syrup (1) (2)

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    by Published on 05-29-2017 07:00 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Carriers,
    3. Apps



    Here's my story. I'm hoping you'll share yours as well...

    On the morning that my mom died I was waiting for a text from my older brother, the main point of contact for the hospital where we had brought her the day before. I did get a phone call shortly before 7am but again, the text never came—and I had been awake and waiting for it since about 4.

    As an Android user my first instinct was to blame iMessage, but the more I think about it the more I believe it was some combination of iMessage and MMS. I actually have two older brothers and both of them use iPhones, much to my dismay (not really). What happened was that the brother who was contacted by the hospital sent a group text to my other brother and I. The oldest brother received the message on his iPhone without issue; the youngest brother on his Android phone (me) did not.

    SMS has been a fairly critical means of communication for me over the past two years; I've relied on it to organize my mom's around-the-clock care. In my experience the only way that bulk texting works reliably is if I set my app to send group texts as individual messages. This isn't ideal because it makes it harder to read through replies, but at least it works. My current Android SMS app does this by default; surely there's a similar option for iMessage...?

    Again, in my case it wasn't the absolute end of the world. But if you have to call someone and ask them if they got your text then messaging has failed for both of you. I personally have been using SMS for at least 17 years, and the technology has been around longer than that. This stuff should have been figured out by now, but clearly hasn't.

    Please feel free to name and shame your carrier, app and/or mobile messaging technology below.

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    by Published on 05-19-2017 07:00 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. How-To,
    4. Apps



    I spend a lot of time here making the case for smartphones as true pocket computers, not just Internet and app-enabled appliances. I try to demonstrate how you can fully exploit the potential of an Android-powered device with an unlocked bootloader and root, and how you can use these tools to blocks ads, backup, restore or freeze apps, change your theme or even your file system.

    But I'll let you in on a little secret: a couple of weeks ago I bought a Kindle.

    I know, right? Hypocritical much? This single purpose device riddled with DRM is pretty much the polar opposite of a generative computing device. But the Kindle is technically a tablet and tablets are technically mobile, and that's the justification I'm using for what I actually want to talk about, the Kindle DRM—which can be easily, almost trivially, stripped out of your Amazon purchases using a desktop computer.

    To be clear, I did buy a Kindle and I think it's a fine ebook-reading device, but I would never had bought the thing without the means to liberate my legal Amazon ebook purchases from it.

    You'll need two bits of software to do the same, both of which are 100% free. The first is the Calibre ebook management app, which you can install on Linux, Mac and Windows systems. You'll also need a plugin called DeDRM, which you can read about on the author's blog and download from GitHub. Both the app and the plug are open source—that is, free as in freedom as well as free as in beer.

    Get your plugin installed by following the instructions on the author's site and you're nearly done. If you're on a PC or Mac you'll also need the desktop Kindle app (free as in beer only) as this will include Amazon's encryption key. On my Linux box I had the extra step of entering my Kindle's serial number.

    At this point you can open your legal Amazon purchases in Calibre, and export them to any file format of your choosing. Stripping DRM may technically be illegal depending on where you live, but it's certainly better than pirating books—this way Amazon, the publishers and authors all get their money, and you get full property rights to the ebooks that you've paid for. Of course I would prefer if Amazon sold DRM-free books in the first place, but as workarounds go this one's pretty easy.

    So that's why I bought a Kindle... and if none of this is mobile enough for you, what about my first purchase for it?

    Links: Calibre, DeDRM

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    by Published on 05-18-2017 08:35 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Apps



    It seems that Netflix has joined the wrong side in the war on general purpose computing, denying access to their service on rooted Android devices. How and why would root be a threat to Netflix? Honestly, I've no idea; the only means I could find for capturing and saving Netflix streams are desktop PC apps.

    Android Police reports that the technology that enables this B.S. is a new function of the Google Play Console—specifically a check box which can disallow devices that fail Google's SafetyNet. So what's a rooted Android user to do? Use Magisk, that's what!

    Magisk is short for "Magic Mask", and is described as a universal systemless interface by XDA recognized developer topjohnwu. It's installed in the same way as Chainfire's SuperSU—a zip file flashed via a custom recovery—but offers a lot more functionality via installable modules. In fact, it reminds me a lot of the old Xposed Installer that for Android modders was all the rage back in 2014. Magisk includes a root module (obviously) but can also hide root on a per-app basis, meaning that you can now enjoy Netflix on your rooted phone or tablet, along with Super Mario Run and Pokémon GO.

    And if that's not enough, you can extend Magisk even further with a module that blocks ads system-wide.

    From the official XDA thread, here are the steps to get it up and running:

    Restore your boot image back to stock;
    download the latest Magisk zip file;
    reboot to a custom recovery;
    flash Magisk zip;
    reboot;
    update Magisk Manager to the latest version on the Play Store.

    Requirements are an unlocked bootloader and custom recovery.

    Full disclosure: I've not yet installed Magisk on any of my devices; I'm prepping my OnePlus 3 for it right now, will report back if anything goes horribly wrong...

    Links: Android Police, Play Store, XDA

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    by Published on 05-09-2017 07:30 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Commentary and Analysis,
    3. Apps



    Cool, they turned Google Keep into an operating system. </s>

    Seriously, this is what Mountain View is calling Armadillo, the UI layer of a mobile OS called Fuchsia, which could one day replace Android. And here's Ron Amadeo of Ars Technica with his best attempt to explain what's going on:

    Above the profile section are a bunch of cards labeled "Story [something]." The readme describes stories as "a set of apps and/or modules that work together for the user to achieve a goal." That seems pretty close to a recent apps list, maybe (eventually) with some kind of grouping feature. Tapping on any card will load it as a full-screen interface, and since one is labeled "email," it's pretty obvious that these are apps.
    Mmkay.

    Perhaps this video demo, where the grabbed screen comes from, will enlighten us:



    Nope, still not getting it.

    But hey, if you want to try Fuchsia and Armadillo for yourself Kyle Bradshaw, the author of the video, has compiled an .apk of Armadillo that you can install and run on your Android device.

    Me? Nah, I'm good.

    My derision for Google's latest flight of fancy stems from the project's proprietary nature. At present all the sources for Fuchsia are available on Github, which is great. But here's the bad news: if it ever sees a commercial release Fuchsia won't run on the Linux kernel but instead an in-house microkernel with a less-open software license. Which means no kernel sources. Which means no custom ROMs. Which means no thanks.

    Source: Hotfix IT via Ars Technica

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    by Published on 05-04-2017 07:00 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. News,
    3. Apps



    First, the good news: unless you clicked on a screen like this yesterday afternoon, both you and your contacts are probably safe.

    It was around that time that stories started popping up in my news feeds about a phishing scam seeking access to users' Google accounts through Google Docs. Everything I saw linked to this reddit thread, which summarized the threat as follows:

    • uses the existing Google login system
    • uses the name "Google Docs"
    • is only detectable as fake if you happen to click "Google Docs" whilst granting permission
    • replicates itself by sending itself to all your contacts
    • bypasses any 2 factor authentication / login alerts
    • will send scam emails to everyone you have ever emailed
    Pretty scary, right? That reddit thread was posted just before 3 pm Eastern; at 6:20 pm
    Google Docs tweeted this statement:

    We have taken action to protect users against an email impersonating Google Docs & have disabled offending accounts. We’ve removed the fake pages, pushed updates through Safe Browsing, and our abuse team is working to prevent this kind of spoofing from happening again. We encourage users to report phishing emails in Gmail.
    Even better, Android Police reported before midnight that Google had published a new version of the Gmail app for Android, with phishing protection baked in.

    I see a lot of phishing emails on my non-Google email accounts, and I'm pretty impressed with how quickly Google moved to neutralize this threat. Hopefully no one reading this was affected by it!

    Sources: Android Police, @GoogleDocs on Twitter, reddit

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    by Published on 05-02-2017 07:15 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Apps



    It's no secret that messaging is broken on Android. Where different services once talked to each other via XMPP, today a user will likely have multiple and incompatible messaging apps and services installed on their phone. And Google certainly isn't helping; not only are they removing SMS integration from Hangouts but they're turning Hangouts itself into an enterprise app.

    Meanwhile, over on iOS everything seems to be fine.

    I'm not an iPhone user myself, but from what I understand Apple has worked hard to make iMessage the only messaging app their users are likely to need. It takes the ubiquity of SMS and adds in the convenience of being able to text from a phone, tablet and/or computer. Wouldn't it be great if there was a solution like this for Android?

    There is, and it's called Pulse SMS.

    I read a glowing review of the app on Greenbot over the weekend, and after testing it for the past few days I can say it works exactly as promised. Once I set up an online account I could install a tablet version and text from that device as well. For the web there are no less than three ways to access your account: a browser plugin (which I'm currently using) a Chrome app and a regular web login. Pulse supports the dual SIM cards on my OnePlus 3, along with full support for Android Wear—meaning that I have full access to messages on my wrist, not just the notifications for new ones. And if, for some reason, you need to text from the 4K display in your living room, Android TV is fully supported as well.

    The one catch is that the service is not free, but you can at least enjoy a seven-day free trial before you pick one of the paid subscription options. I immediately went for the one-time payment of $13.99 CAD ($10.00 USD) instead; it's already proved to be 100% worth it.

    Sources: Greenbot, Play Store

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    by Published on 03-31-2017 07:00 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Carriers,
    3. Apps



    With Congress having cleared the way for U.S. operators to sell your browsing history to advertisers, Verizon is wasting no time, partnering with the developers of the popular Android launcher Evie to bring a new search tool to its customers on that platform. Unlike Evie, this new Verizon app isn't exactly getting rave reviews. Here's Cory Doctorow to explain why:

    "AppFlash" will come pre-installed on all Verizon Android handsets; it's a Google search bar replacement, but instead of feeding telemetry about your searches, handset, apps and activities to Google, it will send them to Verizon.
    The Electronic Frontier Foundation pored through Verizon's privacy policy for AppFlash, and found proof that your data will indeed be sold to third parties:

    “AppFlash information may be shared within the Verizon family of companies, including companies like AOL who may use it to help provide more relevant advertising within the AppFlash experience and in other places, including non-Verizon sites, services and devices.”
    If you're an Android user with a Verizon-branded phone, you might want to look into rooting and de-bloating it.

    Sources: Android Police, Boing Boing, EFF, The Verge

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