Shielding MAC addresses from stalkers is hard and Android fails miserably at it

Gear & Gadgets - Posted On:2017-03-23 13:45:00 Source: arstechnica

In early 2015, architects of Google's Android mobile operating system introduced a new feature that was intended to curtail the real-time tracking of smartphones as their users traversed retail stores, city streets, and just about anywhere else. A recently published research paper found that the measure remains missing on the vast majority of Android phones and is easily defeated on the relatively small number of devices that do support it.

Like all Wi-Fi-enabled devices, smartphones are constantly scanning their surroundings for available access points, and with each probe, they send a MAC—short for media access control—address associated with the handset. Throughout most of the history of Wi-Fi, the free exchange of MAC addresses didn't pose much threat to privacy. That all changed with the advent of mobile computing. Suddenly MAC addresses left a never-ending series of digital footprints that revealed a dizzying array of information about our comings and goings, including what time we left the bar last night, how many times we were there in the past month, the time we leave for work each day, and the route we take to get there.

Eventually, engineers at Apple and Google realized the potential for abuse and took action. Their solution was to rotate through a sequence of regularly changing pseudo-random addresses when casually probing near-by access points. That way, Wi-Fi devices that logged MAC addresses wouldn't be able to correlate probes to a unique device. Only when a phone actually connected to a Wi-Fi network would it reveal the unique MAC address it was tied to. Apple introduced MAC address randomization in June 2014, with the release of iOS 8. A few months later, Google's Android operating system added experimental support for the measure. Full implementation went live in March 2015 and is currently available in version 5.0 through the current 7.1; those versions account for about two-thirds of the Android user base.

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Shielding MAC addresses from stalkers is hard. Android is failing miserably

Gear & Gadgets - Posted On:2017-03-23 13:30:00 Source: arstechnica

In early 2015, architects of Google's Android mobile operating system introduced a new feature that was intended to curtail the real-time tracking of smartphones as their users traversed retail stores, city streets, and just about anywhere else. A recently published research paper found that the measure remains missing on the vast majority of Android phones and is easily defeated on the relatively small number of devices that do support it.

Like all Wi-Fi-enabled devices, smartphones are constantly scanning their surroundings for available access points, and with each probe, they send a MAC—short for media access control—address associated with the handset. Throughout most of the history of Wi-Fi, the free exchange of MAC addresses didn't pose much threat to privacy. That all changed with the advent of mobile computing. Suddenly MAC addresses left a never-ending series of digital footprints that revealed a dizzying array of information about our comings and goings, including what time we left the bar last night, how many times we were there in the past month, the time we leave for work each day, and the route we take to get there.

Eventually, engineers at Apple and Google realized the potential for abuse and took action. Their solution was to rotate through a sequence of regularly changing pseudo-random addresses when casually probing near-by access points. That way, Wi-Fi devices that logged MAC addresses wouldn't be able to correlate probes to a unique device. Only when a phone actually connected to a Wi-Fi network would it reveal the unique MAC address it was tied to. Apple introduced MAC address randomization in June 2014, with the release of iOS 8. A few months later, Google's Android operating system added experimental support for the measure. Full implementation went live in March 2015 and is currently available in version 5.0 through the current 7.1; those versions account for about two-thirds of the Android user base.

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Google Maps gets real-time location sharing

Gear & Gadgets - Posted On:2017-03-23 12:30:00 Source: arstechnica

Location sharing is back in Google Maps. Google announced the addition of "real-time location sharing" to the Android and iOS apps, coming soon to an app store near you.

The process seems pretty simple: Open the navigation drawer and press the new "Share Location" button. You'll be able to send a sharing permission to a Google contact or send a link over a messaging app, and you'll be able to pick how long you want to share your location for—permanently or for a set time. Anyone you share to will get a notification from Google Maps, and they'll be able to see your location on the smartphone and Web versions of Google Maps. There's also a "share trip" button you can activate while navigating somewhere, so rather than sending someone an ETA, they can just see you drive around on the map.

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Location sharing finally returns to Google Maps

Gear & Gadgets - Posted On:2017-03-23 12:15:01 Source: arstechnica

Location sharing is back in Google Maps. Google announced the addition of "real-time location sharing" to the Android and iOS apps, coming soon to an app store near you.

The process seems pretty simple: Open the navigation drawer and press the new "Share Location" button. You'll be able to send a sharing permission to a Google contact or send a link over a messaging app, and you'll be able to pick how long you want to share your location for—permanently or for a set time. Anyone you share to will get a notification from Google Maps, and they'll be able to see your location on the smartphone and Web versions of Google Maps. There's also a "share trip" button you can activate while navigating somewhere, so rather than sending someone an ETA, they can just see you drive around on the map.

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Apple snaps up Workflow, an iOS automation app for power users [Updated]

Gear & Gadgets - Posted On:2017-03-23 10:59:56 Source: arstechnica

Late yesterday, Apple closed a deal to acquire Workflow, an app for iOS power users that lets you string a series of repetitive actions together to make them easier and quicker to accomplish. In many ways, the app accomplishes for iOS what the Automator app does for macOS. Late last year Apple laid off Sal Soghoian, the product manager in charge of automation-related products like Automator and AppleScript, and eliminated his position; the purchase of Workflow suggests that it could be the future of Apple's automation-related efforts.

Workflow's developers—Ari Weinstein, Conrad Kramer, Ayaka Nonaka, and Nick Frey—are all being hired by Apple, and they'll continue to develop Workflow which will continue to exist in the App Store. It used to cost $2.99, but it's now available to all users free of charge. The amount Apple paid for Workflow hasn't been disclosed, but TechCrunch reports that it was a "solid payday" for both the developers of the app and its investors.

Apple's statement about the acquisition highlighted that it had won an Apple Design Award in 2015 for its use of iOS' accessibility features, which suggests that the Workflow team could also help Apple develop and implement new accessibility features in future versions of iOS.

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Hands-on with Android O—A million new settings and an awesome snooze feature

Gear & Gadgets - Posted On:2017-03-23 10:44:57 Source: arstechnica

Android O is actually here! After diving into Google's blog post, we fired up our developer tools and loaded Android O on a sacrificial device. There are a few new interesting features, lots of UI tweaks, and plenty of odd bugs and unfinished areas. Let's dive in.

My favorite new feature in Android O is the ability to do system-wide notification snoozing. If you don't want to deal with a notification right now, just pull it to the side a bit, which will unveil a new "clock" icon. Tap it, and the notification will be automatically snoozed for 15 minutes. You can tap on the drop-down menu to increase the time to 30 minutes or an hour. This is really handy, but I'd like to be able to customize the times here. I'm sure some people would like a few hours, or maybe a "tomorrow" option. A "type in your time" option would be fine, too.

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Hands on with Android O—A million new settings and an awesome snooze feature

Gear & Gadgets - Posted On:2017-03-23 09:59:57 Source: arstechnica

Android O is actually here! After diving into Google's blog post, we fired up our developer tools and got Android O loaded on a sacrificial device. There are a few new interesting features, lots of UI tweaks, and plenty of odd bugs and unfinished areas. Let's dive in!

My favorite new feature in Android O is the ability to do system-wide notification snoozing. If you don't want to deal with a notification right now, just pull it to the side a bit, which will unveil a new "clock" icon. Tap it and the notification will be automatically snoozed for 15 minutes, and you can tap on the drop down menu to up it to 30 minutes or an hour. This is really handy, but I'd like to be able to customize the times here. I'm sure some people would like a few hours, or maybe a "tomorrow" option. A "type in your time" option would be fine, too.

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Hands on with Android O—Snooze that notification and customize everything

Gear & Gadgets - Posted On:2017-03-23 09:44:57 Source: arstechnica

Android O is actually here! After diving into Google's blog post, we fired up our developer tools and got Android O loaded on a sacrificial device. There are a few new interesting features, lots of UI tweaks, and plenty of odd bugs and unfinished areas. Let's dive in!

My favorite new feature in Android O is the ability to do system-wide notification snoozing. If you don't want to deal with a notification right now, just pull it to the side a bit, which will unveil a new "clock" icon. Tap it and the notification will be automatically snoozed for 15 minutes, and you can tap on the drop down menu to up it to 30 minutes or an hour. This is really handy, but I'd like to be able to customize the times here. I'm sure some people would like a few hours, or maybe a "tomorrow" option. A "type in your time" option would be fine, too.

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Corsair One review: The best small form factor PC we’ve ever tested

Gear & Gadgets - Posted On:2017-03-23 09:14:57 Source: arstechnica

It's hard to believe that the Corsair One comes from the same company that designed the Bulldog, a small form factor PC so monstrously ugly that the mere thought of placing it in a living room was enough to set off a spousal gag reflex. Where the Bulldog was a confused mishmash of jaunty, l33t gamer angles, the One is sleek, sophisticated, and—dare I say it—even a little grown up.

That Corsair continues to sell a slightly updated version of the Bulldog is something of mystery considering just how good the Corsair One is. Of all the small form factor (SFF) PCs I've tried—and there have been quite a few over the past year—it is by far the best. I'd even go as as to say it's one of the best pre-built PCs you can buy, full stop.

At £2,300 for a fully loaded version, the Corsair One isn't cheap by any means—and as always, going the DIY route can lead to substantial savings—but few homebrew PCs have such a tiny footprint. Fewer still do so while being entirely liquid cooled, graphics card and all. It's a combo that results in a PC that doesn't just fit into the living room environment aesthetically, but acoustically too.

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Apple snaps up Workflow, an iOS automation app for power users

Gear & Gadgets - Posted On:2017-03-23 08:59:57 Source: arstechnica

Late yesterday, Apple closed a deal to acquire Workflow, an app for iOS power users that lets you string a series of repetitive actions together to make them easier and quicker to accomplish. In many ways, the app accomplishes for iOS what the Automator app does for macOS. Late last year Apple laid off Sal Soghoian, the product manager in charge of automation-related products like Automator and AppleScript, and eliminated his position; the purchase of Workflow suggests that it could be the future of Apple's automation-related efforts.

Workflow's developers—Ari Weinstein, Conrad Kramer, Ayaka Nonaka, and Nick Frey—are all being hired by Apple, and they'll continue to develop Workflow which will continue to exist in the App Store. It used to cost $2.99, but it's now available to all users free of charge. The amount Apple paid for Workflow hasn't been disclosed, but TechCrunch reports that it was a "solid payday" for both the developers of the app and its investors.

Apple's statement about the acquisition highlighted that it had won an Apple Design Award in 2015 for its use of iOS' accessibility features, which suggests that the Workflow team could also help Apple develop and implement new accessibility features in future versions of iOS.

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Early Snapdragon 835 benchmarks show mixed results from semi-custom design

Gear & Gadgets - Posted On:2017-03-22 19:14:59 Source: arstechnica

When it announced the Snapdragon 835, Qualcomm promised that the latest in its family of ARM systems-on-chips would boost performance by 27 percent with a 40 percent reduction in power consumption. The first early benchmarks of the processor that Qualcomm doesn't want us to call a processor have been run and the results are... well, they're a little uneven.

Anandtech went to Qualcomm's San Diego headquarters and was shown the 835 running in a hardware platform reference—a basic smartphone built around the chip that serves as a platform for hardware testing and software development. During this visit, they were able to run a handful of basic benchmarks to gauge the performance of the new chip.

Naively, one would assume that Snapdragon 835 would be faster than the 820/821 that went before it. 835 is, after all, a higher number than 820, and higher numbers usually mean better when it comes to processors. But the situation with the 835 is more complicated than that. In the early days of the modern smartphone era, Qualcomm's 32-bit ARM Snapdragon chips were generally best-in-class. While many ARM chips use core designs that are developed by ARM itself in the UK, Qualcomm did something different; it had a pair of custom designs, Scorpion in 2008 and Krait in 2012, developed in house. These designs were broadly superior to ARM's Cortex-A8, A9, and A15 designs that other companies were using.

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Behold the robo-fruit

Gadgets - Posted On:2017-03-22 18:45:01 Source: techcrunch

 Perhaps you’ve been watching the BBC’s Spy in the Wild, in which meticulously recreated robotic animals cohabitate with their fleshy brethren and record all their secret goings and doings. But haven’t you ever wondered what fruit gets up to during the long trip from its homeland to your local produce department? These robo-fruits are your best bet to find out.

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Nintendo blames Switch Joy-Con issue on ‘manufacturing variation,’ offers fix

Gadgets - Posted On:2017-03-22 15:15:02 Source: techcrunch

 Nintendo’s latest console, the Switch, has been received quite favorably by us and others (having one of the best games ever on it helped) — but one recurring complaint concerned the Joy-Con L, or left controller, as everyone else calls it. Interruptions in the wireless signal were rare for me but more common for others, and Nintendo has finally acknowledged the problem as a…

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The Casio Edifice EQB501 takes a licking, connects to your cellphone

Gadgets - Posted On:2017-03-22 12:15:02 Source: techcrunch

 Casio makes beefy watches for not-always-beefy people. Their latest, the Edifice EQB-501 is an interesting amalgam of form, function, and high tech features and it has enough dials, buttons, and sensors to keep well-connected on your trek through the jungle, urban or otherwise. This monster watch is 44.4mm wide and water resistant up to 100 meters. It connects to your phone and the CASIO…

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Galaxy Tab S3 review: The high price of a well-rounded Android tablet

Gear & Gadgets - Posted On:2017-03-22 09:14:56 Source: arstechnica

Video shot/edited by Jennifer Hahn. (video link)

Samsung continues to compete with Apple's iPad with the revamped Galaxy Tab S3. Two years ago, the company released 8.0-inch and 9.7-inch models of the Tab S2, but Samsung is now simplifying with just one 9.7-inch model of the updated tablet. The $599/£599 tablet has an HDR-ready display, a sleek glass design, a faster processor, a fingerprint sensor, and an included and improved S Pen, just to name a few of its features.

The new S3 continues Samsung's efforts to persuade those who want a high-end, all-purpose tablet to choose its Android device over an iPad, and Samsung padded this attempt with a couple of features geared toward users of its Galaxy smartphones. But Android's tablet app gap, among other things, continues to make premium Android tablets a hard sell.

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ANA’s new C-3PO jet is fluent in over 6 million forms of communication

Gadgets - Posted On:2017-03-22 08:29:59 Source: techcrunch

 Fancy paint jobs for airplanes are nothing novel, but few airlines ever really commit to making their jets look unique like Japan’s ANA. The air carrier’s latest custom craft is one of its Star Wars series of planes, commemorating everyone’s favorite golden protocol droid with a C-3PO yellow fuselage wrap, and interior decorating to match. The C-3PO ANA Jet follows R2-D2…

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The Gladius underwater drone will shoot in 4K as it reaches the briny deep

Gadgets - Posted On:2017-03-22 05:29:59 Source: techcrunch

 First drones took to the air. Now they take to the sea! The Gladius is basically a remote-controlled submarine with a 4K camera that can dive to 100 meters. A big, yellow double-barreled monster, the beast is controlled via a phone-connected remote and it is semi-tethered, which means it can roll out about 500 meters with the right gear.

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NASA’s pop-up robot can tackle tight spots where rovers can’t reach

Gadgets - Posted On:2017-03-22 05:29:59 Source: techcrunch

 NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) is pretty much a non-stop source of amazing things, and the latest is the PUFFER, or Pop-Up Flat Folding Robot. The design of the robot is inspired by origami, and folding is its specialty.

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Google announces the Android O Developer Preview

Gear & Gadgets - Posted On:2017-03-21 13:15:00 Source: arstechnica

Almost exactly a year after the Android N Developer Preview launched, Google is unleashing a developer preview of the next major version of Android, "Android O." We haven't tried it yet (images should be dropping any minute now), and the heavy developer documentation is still on lockdown, but we do have a big list of new features to go over.

This first developer preview is apparently not going to be super stable. Google's blog post notes that "it's early days, there are more features coming, and there's still plenty of stabilization and performance work ahead of us. But it's booting :)."

Because of the early status, this first version of Android O won't be rolling out to the Android Beta program, which offers handy in-place OTA upgrades. Instead Google will be kicking it old school with images for the Nexus 5X, 6P, Player, and the Pixel, Pixel XL, and Pixel C. There's a Wear 2.0 version of Android O, but it's only available via the emulator. There's also a new version of the SDK, Android Studio 2.4, for developers interested in trying out the new APIs.

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Minor iPhone bump turns the 7 and 7 Plus red, gives iPhone SE more storage

Gear & Gadgets - Posted On:2017-03-21 09:29:56 Source: arstechnica

In addition to a new midrange iPad, Apple also announced a handful of minor updates for the iPhone via press release this morning.

Apple is also releasing a new Product Red version of the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus—like the name implies, it's got a bright red matte finish with blended antenna lines and a silver Apple logo on the back. It contrasts strikingly with the other iPhone colors Apple has offered in the past, but otherwise it doesn't differ from current iPhone 7 models. It will be available in 128GB and 256GB capacities, starts at $749, and will be available beginning on March 24.

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