Posts Tagged ‘Android’

Near 100% of Android phones have a hole, and it isn’t a good hole.

Thursday, May 19th, 2011

Yarr, I hope someone did'nt loot my info...dammit.

(Game Politics) – A new report claims that around 99.7 percent of phones using Google’s mobile operating system contain a security hole that can enable hackers to send unencrypted personal data. Mobile devices using the Android operating systems have a weakness that could allow hackers to gain “full access” to private information such as calendar, contact information, and “private web albums,” according to a research group from Germany’s University of Ulm. The security hole could also give hackers the ability to view, modify or delete contacts, calendar events, and private pictures. Thankfully, the security flaw only affects individual phones.

In a new research paper, researchers at the University of Ulm detailed the flaw, testing it for vulnerabilities. They found that some Android applications could transmit unencrypted data, allowing others to “eavesdrop” any of the transmitted information. Researchers were tested to see if they could hack into Android data using a simple third-party application. Apparently they found a lot of success in completing the exercise.

“We wanted to know if it is really possible to launch an impersonation attack against Google services and started our own analysis,” researchers said. “The short answer is: Yes, it is possible, and it is quite easy to do so.”

The hack was tested on various versions of the Android operating system including 2.1, 2.2, 2.2.1, 2.3.3, 2.3.4 and 3.0. Phones used in the test included the Nexus One, HTC Desire, HTC Incredible S, and newly released tablet the Motorola XOOM.

Froyo Killed My Phone

Friday, March 25th, 2011

I can't guarantee my phone will look like this much longer, you know, all in one piece and everything

Ever since I got my Samsung Epic back in November, I’ve had something of a love-hate relationship with it. Up until the day I started using it, I was a hard-core Blackberry fan and I’m fairly sure I always will be. The Epic appealed to the hardcore nerd in me with the glow of its AMOLED screen and the processing power under the hood.

And when Blackberry released the substandard specs for their next phone, well, I couldn’t defend them any more.

I’ve gone through the growing pains of adapting to a touch screen device. The initial switch was eased by the pull out QWERTY keypad but I found myself using it less and less often and began to adapt to the touchscreen keypad and actually found myself typing faster than I had with my Blackberry.

I quickly found and began using apps that made my phone more of a workhorse than it was out of the box. I began to rely on the Epic as much as I had on my Blackberry for appointment reminders, on the go edits of documents, and the various other things I could do without being at my PC.

I’m using the “stock” Android OS that came with the phone. Two attempts to upgrade to an unofficial release of 2.2 ended in abysmal failure and I preferred to have a device that functioned correctly and performed what I needed it to do without issue and so, I simply nodded my head when friends told me I could upgrade without waiting for Samsung to push the software update.

Then, this morning, my phone shut off for no apparent reason. (more…)

How I Pick Apps And Portable Games

Tuesday, February 1st, 2011

Sometimes a screenshot doesn't do an app justice... other times, it doesn't tell the full story.

Between my iPod Touch and my Epic, I have pretty much every cool app and/or game I could care to have.

That isn’t to say I won’t be downloading more. I’ve been pretty fortunate on my choices of apps and I have yet to purchase one that isn’t something I use on a semi-regular basis. I’d like to say that it’s because I’m awesome (which I am) but in this case, I’ve actually had a little help.

I’m not the type to be taken in by a pretty screenshot or to make impulse purchases online. I typically go in armed with some form of information before I make a purchase. If you’ve had a few digital lemons in your purchase history, let me give you a few hints on how to avoid them in the future.

Your first source of information for app or game purchases for your portable device is most likely your friends and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. However, you have to consider the friend you’re talking to before making a purchase. Are they the type who like more flash in their apps than substance? Do they have 20 different soundboards that they use to torment you on long trips? If their taste is different from yours in another entertainment media (like TV or movies), you might want to think twice before taking their advice on an app they say is a “must download”.

The second place you might find advice on apps would be tech or gaming sites (*ahem* Like this one) which again isn’t a bad thing. Many of the sites I visit have entire articles dedicated to specific apps or might only mention something in passing in an article about a device. Again, you have to consider the source. Is the site you’re reading geared towards casual gamers and you consider yourself a hardcore gamer? Are you reading about a game on a site that typically reviews hardware? Have you ever purchased a game or app based on the advice of the site and had it be a flop for you? Make sure the opinions you’re reading match up with yours more often than not before acting on it.

Many people quote the reviews of the apps as the deciding point. But when I ask, they never go past the initial three or four reviews and typically don’t even read the reviews, instead choosing to rely on how many stars an app has been awarded by reviewers. This is what I like to refer to as a mistake…

There are, unfortunately, app creators who are not above using false accounts to promote and recommend their own apps. This can come in the form of using the accounts to push a sub-par review off of the front page or last three reviews in order to make their product look better. If you want the skinny on a particular app, take the time to fully read a few randomly chosen reviews from *all* of the reviews, not just the first three or four.

Lite and beta versions can often be downloaded to try out before you decide to purchase...

Keep in mind that a large majority of the apps out there have a “lite” version, something you can download before you decide to purchase and see if you like it or not. It’s worth the few extra minutes to try on a pair of shoes before you just go and buy them, right? Same principle applies here.

Finally, I recommend a quick search on the company or persons that produce the app you’re looking at. If there’s any potential foul play or if the company has a track record of producing crappy, buggy apps, you’re going to find out pretty quick just by typing in their name in the search bar.

Remember, it might only be a buck here or a buck there but it adds up… and crap is crap no matter how pretty the bow on the package it’s presented in.

Gritskrieg – End of Line

My Top Three Apps for iOS and Android

Tuesday, November 9th, 2010

I’ve made a point not to choose sides in the Apple – Android war. Some people may see it as being wishy-washy about my tech but I can honestly say that I enjoy the offerings each brings to the table. I currently own a Galaxy S model phone and I have an iPod and both see frequent gaming usage. I have no favorites in regards to the devices themselves and I am constantly looking at new games that come up on each respective market.

Many of the games that come up with these devices are meant to be played on the go or when you have a bit of down time and as such are very Busy Gamer friendly. I’ve been playing several and I’d be happy to share what I consider the top three on each platform with you. So here are my top choices listed in no particular order.

iOS:

You have to play it in order to understand it... Seriously.

Plants vs. Zombies: I have a lot of love for this particular game. On the PC, it was easily one of the most Busy Gamer friendly games I had played in a long time and provided me with an inordinate amount of gaming goodness for a low price. I was initially concerned that the graphics might not survive the transition to a smaller device but it is easily the most played game on my iPod at this time. Clever humor, excellent graphics, and an almost non-existent learning curve combine to make this app a must have for anyone who is serious about portable gaming.

Civilization Revolution: Sid Meier is single handedly responsible for stealing large portions of my days and now that one of his games has made the move to iOS, he will be responsible for much more. Surprisingly, this port is very well done and suffers very little from the move to a touch screen. The help file is actually helpful and the classic gameplay is present in its full glory. I find myself devoting roughly 30 minutes a day to this game thanks to a full save feature that allows me to pick up where I left off. Long and short play sessions are entirely possible and there is very little to prevent you from picking it up when you have some down time thanks to a relatively low learning curve. Viewing the tech tree to determine your scientific path is handled well and will allow you to choose your population’s path easily. Overall, this is one for anyone who enjoys turn based strategy games or has an itch to play some Side Meier’s Civilization on that long flight.

"We don't take kindly to yer kind in these parts..."

Zombieville: This side scrolling shooter caught me off guard. I didn’t expect to be so drawn in so quickly and so thoroughly. Reminiscent of old arcade shooters, Zombieville pits one of several characters against a zombie horde that gets progressively tougher as you try to escape from the doomed little town you find yourself in. Power ups are achieved via cash you collect from killing zombies and from inside houses you can enter along the way. Ammo is a commodity and you’ll find yourself sweating a bit when you see you’re almost out of shells for your shotgun. The game will pick up from whatever level you were on when you exited out if you have to cut a session short or just need to get to that next meeting. Definitely a good purchase if you like your zombie hunting on the small screen.

Android:

Angry Birds: I’m fairly certain that this game should be mandatory for anyone picking up an Android Phone or iPhone because it really is *that* good. You have pigs that are your enemies hiding out in hastily constructed buildings, some less stable than others, and you are armed with a slingshot and a variety of Angry Birds with which to level the little pigs’ homes. There’s a free version for those of you who are pinching pennies but this is one of those games that you want more of from the company that made it. This one is very BG friendly but you have to watch the time if you only have a few minutes as it can get addictive in a very short time frame.

Live Hold ‘em: I’m a bit of a poker fan. I’ve been hoping for a decent poker app for a long time and I may have found it with this one. Integrated chat and the ability to play with your Facebook friends would make this one a good purchase… except it’s free. Setting up your login will allow you to tie your game account to your FB account which will let you challenge your friends if you so choose. Play is smooth and well animated and players who drop out will fold their hand rather than forcing you to wait for them to reconnect. All in all, a very good way to blow 30 minutes if you enjoy Texas Hold ‘em.

Angry Birds are... angry.

Daily Sudoku: I have a fascination with Sudoku. It’s like a crossword without all those weird obscure words and forces you to think logically about the placement of numbers. There’s a ton of Sudoku apps out there that I have tried with varying results but this one is able to keep me coming back for more. The free version allows you to play one puzzle from each difficulty setting once per day and I’ve found that to be plenty to keep my attention in my random bits of free time. It also scores you based on how other people performed on that particular puzzle based on the time it took you to complete it. Even when I don’t care how well I do, I find it interesting to see my time compared to other players. The paid version has all of the same features but allows you to play as many puzzles as you like from each difficulty. It’s hands down my favorite of the Sudoku apps on either version.

So there’s my picks for each platform… So let’s hear what you folks are playing these days.

Gritskrieg – End of Line

Why we want (and need) the new Windows Phones to succeed

Tuesday, October 12th, 2010

One of LG's initial offerings to the WP7 launch

I’m willing to bet that most our visitors out there own either an iPhone or one of the various Android phones on the market.  I’m also willing to bet that you’re already a fan of one or the other and wouldn’t consider changing to the other end of the spectrum.  But those of you who have swapped between the devices might notice a trend.

When the iPhone launched, I think we can all agree it considerably upped the ante in the smartphone market.  The same thing happened when the first few iterations of the Android mobile phones launched.  The trend some of you might be seeing is that there’s been a leveling out of the innovations that were coming out so fast and furious in the beginning from Apple and Google.  After all, in the consumer market, it’s quickly becoming only the two of them duking it out and if you’ve ever had the opportunity to mess around on the iPhone and then immediately after had access to an Android phone, I think you’ll agree that the race to innovate has quickly become one of who can do existing features better.

They are, of course, the major players in the market.  Some would argue that Nokia’s Symbian stands a chance (and the numbers might support the argument) but with the market share Apple and Google have managed to grab up in such a very short amount of time, the trend appears to indicate otherwise.  They’ve made their points, lines have been drawn in the sand, and each has their staunch supporters.  Lately, however, the experience of the two operating systems have began to take on similarities.  That isn’t to say that each isn’t still moving in their own direction but that each tends to see something the other can do and decides to add the functionality without making too many changes.  A case of “monkey see, monkey do”, if you will.

It’s my firm hope, and belief, that with the launch of the Microsoft Windows Phones that we may be looking at a much needed change.

Many would argue that Microsoft missed their chance in the smart phone market but looking at the offerings that will be available on November 8th and the functionality they provide, it may be too early to count them out just yet.  Incorporating aspects of the Xbox Live experience, a music service that is getting a lot more attention and respect, and a solid hardware platform, Microsoft might not only be getting a second shot at the much coveted business in the smart phone market but offering new opportunities for users who are feeling as if they’ve “been there, done that”.

I, for one, am willing to forgive and forget the fiasco that was the Kin and see what Microsoft has up its sleeve when the phones begin to hit the market in November.  I just hope they don’t pull the same marketing “oops” as they did with their last ill-fated offering.

Gritskrieg – End of Line

Microsoft wants to bury the iPhone this month

Monday, October 4th, 2010

Just a hunch, but I'm sure iPhone has more HP's.

(Reuters) – Last month, a few hundred Microsoft Corp employees acted out their fantasy with a mock funeral for Apple Inc’s iPhone at its Redmond, Washington campus.

The bizarre gathering, which morphed into a spirited Michael Jackson “Thriller” dance routine, marked the completion of its Windows Phone 7 software, and showed how badly Microsoft wants to resurrect itself in the viciously competitive phone market.

The new software, which will be publicly unveiled on October 11 and expected on handsets in stores by November, is Microsoft’s last chance, some analysts say, to catch up with Apple and Google Inc’s Android smartphones, after squandering its strong market position in only a few years.

A group of smartphone manufacturers including Samsung and HTC Corp are expected to roll out Microsoft-based phones for the holiday season.

Whether they will be good enough to render the iPhone obsolete is the question.

“The product can’t be an also-ran that just does everything that is already out in the marketplace,” said Bryan Keane, an analyst for Alpine Mutual Funds, which holds Microsoft shares. “Right now, it isn’t apparent that Windows 7 is better than anything that’s out there, except that it might have a better tie-in to the actual Windows platform.”

By the admission of Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer, the company “missed a generation” with Windows Mobile, its last phone operating system, which floundered while the iPhone and Android roared past with sumptuous touch screens and a host of new applications.

Microsoft is now fourth in the fast-growing U.S. market for smartphone operating systems with a share of less than 12 percent, according to research firm comScore, behind BlackBerry-maker Research in Motion Ltd, Apple and Google.

Go out, go discover, go share – Gowalla.

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

We love games. We love all types of ‘em. Video games, table top games, dice games, games of chance, trading card games, RPG’s, drinking games… and one day we’ll get that game of Gamette strip poker to happen. (Hey guys gotta have goals right?)

One thing that had been catching our eyes lately is the newer market of “Geo” tag gaming. It’s been relatively new the past year of so with mobile phone applications getting more sophisticated and such. The two forerunners being Foursquare and Gowalla.

To tell the truth, I never really wanted to try it to begin with. While it did seem vaguely interesting, I was hesitant of the social networking aspect of it. While we here at BG are big on social networking… I’m also hesitant to be the D-bag who sends you flowers for your facebook garden or wants you to answer questions about me. With that aspect, the foursquare users just seemed to kinda fit that bill. (I know I can imagine all the hate mail now)

So SXSW came to town this past few weeks in Austin Texas (Home of the proud Busygamer crew) and we also learned via web buzz that Gowalla is actually developed in Austin Texas made it’s debut around SXSW LAST year and had tons of local SXSW inspired trips and locations to visit. I actually happened to be rolling into the festival for my own devious personal reasons not business related, so in the tradition of trying out new apps on roadtrips (which I have somehow become accustomed to doing) I decided to try it out.

First off, the premise of geo gaming is pretty simple. You use your mobile device to “Tag” where you are. This is done by the simple action of “checking in”. The purpose is really a neat way to share the places you are going with friends. Of course, where the social aspect comes in, is that at certain places you can find “hidden” virtual items from place to place. Maybe a pint in a random bar, or a fish in a pond. These items get added to your profile, you can collect them, or swap them for other items people leave behind, or you can drop them in a spot others have not yet done so and become a “founder” of the spot. You also have the option of creating a spot for the first time if you are at a location no one on Gowalla has ever been before.

The purpose of all this? Collecting Pins man. You can get pins for all sorts of things, from visiting a certain number of spots, to creating or founding a certain number of spots, or even visiting a lot of bars or coffee shops (the bar pin should be no problem for us).

In addition to the pins, the people of Gowalla have put together series of trips you can take. (Being founded in Austin, there are some neat ones.) SXSW visitors were in luck as there were a number of SXSW “trips” you can take by visiting all the locations on the list. Gowalla had SWSW music, interactive, film and even keynote trips you could take. In addition to the specific SXSW trips they also had there BBQ Bonanza (oh the arteries are hardening now) and the Austin Bar Hop (which we will be gathering a group of Austinites in the near future to come along with us to complete!)

Besides the trips that are featured, it looks like the website also lets you make your own trips as well.

The most interesting thing about this app game is the slick interface. For a Busygamer who is always on the road and out of the office living life, it has become a neat way to “check in” to somewhere new, grab a hidden item (some which can be traded for actual goods IRL), and move on filling my casual gaming needs while I work on being a traveling man. It’s also handy because it lets you decide which check ins or pictures you want to post on twitter or facebook to avoid the “annoying guy who is always asking for help on mafia wars in FB” syndrome.

Because Gowalla is a world wide application, I cant wait to visit other cities to see the spots others have created and also making my own blazing a path where others have not been (already got a “founded” and “commissioned” pin thank ya very much). The app really makes you want to check a city out, as we were sitting around auditorium shores waiting for a concert to begin, looking for the time capsule and fountain we knew were nearby.

So far… Gowalla looks like a winner to us, and we’re pretty serious about that Austin barhop trip. If you are in the Austin area… keep a look out for us to advertise it in the coming weeks and you can come along. It’s kinda like getting a boyscout badge except that not all of us will make it back alive.

Gowalla is available FREE to download on the iPhone, Android, BlackBerry and Palm phones. Sign up and read more info at www.gowalla.com.

Google closing the door on China?

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

Google may make good on its threat to leave China should the most recent negotiations with the government fall through

Anyone who may listen to the “Week in Geek” show I do each Friday morning would be able to tell you how often I mention the words “China” and “Google” each time the show airs.  The ongoing battle between China and its censorship guidelines and Google with their ongoing frustration in dealing with China’s empirical choke hold on what information is allowed through the web giant’s google.cn site makes for soap opera type drama.  And while I may make light of the situation, it is quickly becoming anything but a laughing matter.

Google continues to hold its ground in talks with China in regards to filtering (read “censoring”) search results through the google.cn site.  Recent months have seen the clashes between Google and China reach the point where Google has determined that it may be best to pull out of the China market rather than continue to attempt to comply with the restrictions put in place by the Chinese government.  And recent days have seen activity that may suggest that Google plans to make good on the threat.

While the retreat of Google from China may not mean much of an impact to the coffers of the search company, several burgeoning industries in China may be negatively impacted should the pullout come to fruition.  The Android based phone business may not be completely shut down by a lack of a local Google presence but it is certain that the devices would be severely limited in their functions as China restricts access to sites external to the country.  In addition, China Mobile Ltd., the largest phone company in China and perhaps the world, relies on the search giant for mobile searches and maps.

Analysts have described the withdraw of Google from China as a “lose-lose” scenario as the country would not see another company move in to take Google’s place but rather a vacuum.  And at a 35% share of the search market is a sizable vacuum.

Spokespersons for Google have stated that the company remains in negotiations with China and would not confirm that they would be withdrawing should those negotiations fail.

Gritskrieg – End of Line

[Source]

The T-Mobile G1, Definitely a [G]reat [1]!

Tuesday, December 16th, 2008

Photobucket

I thought it would take me a few days of playing with my new G1 before writing a review due to so many comments about it being too much technology for most to handle. But I got the phone just yesterday and already I feel completely comfortable with it! The device is VERY user-friendly, there have been no noticeable glitches or failures so far and it feels rather sturdy, even with it’s somewhat sliding form factor.

For a while, T-Mobile was really lacking on the technology end and the main attraction for the longest time was their Sidekick franchise. This drew a lot of consumers away from this provider and towards AT&T for its iPhone and Verizon for its usual mimics. But what the public didn’t know is that T-Mobile was using this valuable time to kick back and watch the rate at which other companies were advancing in their technical aspect; then it happened… I knew that Google was cooking up some ideas for a phone but little did I know that T-Mobile obtained the sale rights.

I heard about the idea about a year and a half ago then as the time of production came closer I learned that Google teamed up with a mobile software entity called Android. Which might I add is the best thing to happen to mobile devices EVER. Period. So yes, Android is an operating system for handsets, so what? It’s more than that. This phone features a “market” icon in the menu with the cute little Andriod logo. I click on it expecting a few free applications to spark my interest with the phone and instead I find multiple categories of applications including communication, entertainment, finance, shopping, travel, and so much more. This was great already but then I decide to scroll through the games section, and there’s tons of downloadable content there as well. I go crazy installing programs, games, little things here and there and I suddenly realize the best part… ALL OF THIS IS FREE. Sure, you’re paying $35 for unlimited internet and texting but EVERY other aspect of this phone’s capabilities are absolutely free. So the marketplace and endless usability of the phone more than make up for the pricey plan. What’s more, you’ll never pay for wallpaper, ringtones, or games again!

(more…)










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