KDE

KDE Community Announces Fully Open Source Plasma Mobile 44 44

sfcrazy writes: Today, during the Akademy event, the KDE Community announced Plasma Mobile project. It's a Free (as in Freedom and beer), user-friendly, privacy-enabling and customizable platform for mobile devices. Plasma Mobile claims to be developed in an open process, and considering the community behind it, I don't doubt it. A great line: "Plasma Mobile is designed as an ‘inclusive’ platform and will support all kinds of apps. In addition to native apps written in Qt, it also supports GTK apps, Android apps, Ubuntu apps, and many others." And if you have a Nexus 5, you can download and play with a prototype now.
Privacy

Researchers: Mobile Users Will Trade Data For Fun and Profit 21 21

itwbennett writes: Even as mobile users become more security and privacy conscious, researchers and other mobile data collectors still to collect user data in order to build products and services. The question: How to get users to give up that data? Researchers at the New Jersey Institute of Technology tested two incentives: gamification and micropayments. The test involved building a campus Wi-Fi coverage map using user data collected from student participants who either played a first-person shooter game or who were paid to complete certain tasks (e.g., taking photos). The game turned out to be a quick and efficient way to build the Wi-Fi coverage map. But data from the micropayments group was found to be "sometimes unreliable, and individuals were trying to trick the system into thinking they had accomplished tasks."
Privacy

US Court: 'Pocket-Dialed' Calls Are Not Private 179 179

itwbennett writes: In a case of a pocket-dialed call, a conscientious secretary, and sensitive personnel issues, a federal appeals court in Ohio has ruled pocket-dialers shouldn't have any expectation of privacy. 'Under the plain-view doctrine, if a homeowner neglects to cover a window with drapes, he would lose his reasonable expectation of privacy with respect to a viewer looking into the window from outside of his property,' the court said. The same applies to pocket-dialed calls, according to the court. If a person doesn't take reasonable steps to keep their call private, their communications are not protected by the Wiretap Act.
Cellphones

A Month With a Ubuntu Phone 118 118

When the first Ubuntu phone came out, reviews were quick to criticize it for its lackluster hardware and unusual take on common mobile software interactions. It's been out for a while, now, and Alastair Stevenson has written about his experiences using it for an entire month. While he doesn't recommend it for phone users who aren't tech savvy, he does say that he began to like it better than Android after adjusting to how Ubuntu does things. From the article: [T]he Ubuntu OS has a completely reworked user interface that replaces the traditional home screen with a new system of "scopes." The scope system does away with the traditional mobile interface where applications are stored and accessed from a central series of homescreens. ... Adding to Ubuntu’s otherworldly, unique feel, the OS is also significantly more touch- and gesture-focused than iOS and Android. We found nearly all the key features and menus on the Meizu MX4 are accessed using gesture controls, not with screen shortcuts. ... Finally, there's my biggest criticism – Ubuntu phone is not smart enough yet. While the app selection is impressive for a prototype, in its infancy Ubuntu phone doesn't have enough data feeding into it, as key services are missing."
Cellphones

Ask Slashdot: Do You Use a Smartphone At Work, Contrary to Policy? 227 227

Jason McNew writes: I have been in IT since the late '90s, and began a graduate degree in Cyber Security with Penn State two years ago. I have always been interested in how and why users break policies, despite being trained carefully. I have observed the same phenomena even in highly secure government facilities — I watched people take iPhones into highly sensitive government facilities on several occasions. That led me to wonder to what extent the same problem exists in the private sector: Portable Electronic Devices (PEDs) are a huge threat to both security and intellectual property. This question has become the subject of a pilot study I am doing for grad school. So, do you use a smart phone or other PED during work hours, even though you are not supposed to? Please let me know, and I will provide the results in a subsequent submission to Slashdot.
Android

Meet "London," Marshall's First Android Smartphone 67 67

MojoKid writes: Marshall may be better known for its music equipment, but that isn't stopping the company from bringing a better audio experience to the smartphone market with its London handset. Given its highly customizable nature, it should come as no surprise that London runs Google's Android operating system (Lollipop 5.0.2). The London features dual front-facing speakers, a Wolfson WM8281 sound processor, Bluetooth atpX support, and a gold-tinged scroll wheel on the right side of the device that handle volume control, which Marshall says offers "tactile precision [that] allows you to find that sweet spot of sonic goodness." Once you get past the audio-centric functionality, there's a lot of lower-end hardware under the hood of the London. You'll find a 4.7-inch 720p display, a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 processor with 2GB of RAM, 16GB of internal storage, a microSD slot, LTE connectivity, 8MP rear camera, 2MP front-facing camera, and a removable 2500 mAh battery. In other words, those specs make the London more in line with the Moto G.
Cellphones

Nokia Wants To Make Phones Again 111 111

An anonymous reader writes: Nokia has indicated that it's interested in returning to the phone-making business. In a post on the company's website, spokesman Robert Morlino explains that although they sold their devices business to Microsoft last year, they're still interested in the phone industry. They're not capable of building their own devices, and it looks unlikely that they'll be able to build a new hardware section in a reasonable time frame. Instead, they're looking for a partner to build the actual phones (and support them). Nokia would contribute design and branding. All that said, their deal with Microsoft prevents them from getting back into the phone business until Q4 2016, so we won't be seeing Nokia phones soon either way.
Cellphones

Cell Phone Radiation Emission Tests Assume Use of Belt Clip 184 184

jfruh writes: Most Slashdotters rightfully roll their eyes when people panic about the "radiation" put out by cell phone. But there is a germ of truth to some of the nervous talk: when the FCC assesses how much radio-frequency radiation a phone user will absorb, they work on the assumption you'll be wearing it in a belt clip, rather than putting it in your pocket as most people do. With the size of some recent phones, I think assuming use of a backpack might be just as realistic.
Cellphones

Ask Slashdot: Measuring (and Constraining) Mobile Data Use? 129 129

An anonymous reader writes: I've carried a smart phone for several years, but for much of that time it's been (and I suspect this is true for anyone for whom money is an object) kept pretty dumb — at least for anything more data-intensive than Twitter and the occasional map checking. I've been using more of the smart features lately (Google Drive and Keep are seductive.) Since the data package can be expensive, though, and even though data is cheaper than it used to be, that means I don't check Facebook often, or upload pictures to friends by email, unless I'm in Wi-Fi zone (like home, or a coffee shop, etc). Even so, it seems I'm using more data than I realized, and I'd like to keep it under the 2GB allotment I'm paying for. I used to think half a gig was generous, but now I'm getting close to that 2GB I've paid for, most months.

This makes me a little paranoid, which leads to my first question: How accurate are carriers' own internal tools for measuring use, and do you recommend any third-party apps for keeping track of data use? Ideally, I'd like a detailed breakdown by app, over time: I don't think I'm at risk for data-stealing malware on my phone (the apps I use are either built-in, or plain-vanilla ones from Google's store, like Instagram, Twitter's official client, etc.), but of course really well-crafted malware would be tough to guard against or to spot. And even if they can be defeated, more and more sites (Facebook, for one) now play video just because I've rolled over a thumbnail.
Read on for second part of the question.
Cellphones

Turing Near Ready To Ship World's First Liquid Metal Android Smartphone 93 93

MojoKid writes: Liquid Metal is an alloy metal (technically, bulk metallic glass) that manages to combine the best features of a wide variety of materials into one product. Liquid Metal also has high corrosion resistance, high tensile strength, remarkable anti-wear characteristics and can also be heat-formed. Given its unique properties, Liquid Metal has been used in a number of industries, including in smartphones. Historically, it has been limited to small-scale applications and pieces parts, not entire products. However, Turing Robotic Industries (TRI) just announced pre-orders for the world's first liquid metal-frame smartphone. The Turing Phone uses its own brand of Liquid Metal called Liquidmorphium, which provides excellent shock absorption characteristics. So instead of making a dent in the smartphone casing or cracking/chipping like plastic when dropped, a Turing Phone should in theory "shake it off" while at the same time protecting the fragile display from breaking. The Turing Phone does not come cheap, however, with pricing starting at $610 for a 16GB model and escalating quickly to $740 and $870 respectively for the 64GB and 128GB models, unlocked. Pre-orders open up on July 31.
Cellphones

TracFone Finally Agrees To Allow Phone Unlocking 85 85

jfruh writes: While most Slashdot readers probably enjoy the latest and greatest smartphones and heavy-use data plans, millions of Americans use low-cost, prepaid featurephones, and many of those are sold under various brand names owned by TracFone. Today, after much pressure from the FCC, TracFone admitted that its customers also have the right to an unlocked phone that they can port to a different provider, including those low-income customers who participate in the government-subsidized Lifeline program, widely (though incorrectly) known as "Obamaphone".
Ubuntu

"Invite-Only" Ubuntu Mobile-Powered Meizu UX4 Goes On Sale 51 51

Mickeycaskill writes: Chinese manufacturer Meizu and Ubuntu developer Canonical have released the MX4 smartphone, but prospective owners will have to 'earn' an opportunity to buy the phone by playing an interactive origami game. Players are limited to three chances per day and this is the only way to buy the smartphone as it will no go on wider sale at a later date. The MX4 is the third Ubuntu Mobile smartphone to be released, following the BQ Aquaris E4.5 and E5 devices.
Cellphones

Political Polls Become Less Reliable As We Head Into 2016 Presidential Election 292 292

HughPickens.com writes: Cliff Zukin writes in the NY Times that those paying close attention to the 2016 election should exercise caution as they read the polls — election polling is in near crisis as statisticians say polls are becoming less reliable. According to Zukin, two trends are driving the increasing unreliability of election and other polling in the United States: the growth of cellphones and the decline in people willing to answer surveys. Coupled, they have made high-quality research much more expensive to do, so there is less of it. This has opened the door for less scientifically-based, less well-tested techniques.

To top it off, a perennial election polling problem, how to identify "likely voters," has become even thornier. Today, a majority of people are difficult or impossible to reach on landline phones. One problem is that the 1991 Telephone Consumer Protection Act has been interpreted by the Federal Communications Commission to prohibit the calling of cellphones through automatic dialers, in which calls are passed to live interviewers only after a person picks up the phone. To complete a 1,000-person survey, it's not unusual to have to dial more than 20,000 random numbers, most of which do not go to actual working telephone numbers.

The second unsettling trend is rapidly declining response rates, reaching levels once considered unimaginable. In the late 1970s, pollsters considered an 80 percent response rate acceptable, but by 2014 the response rate has fallen to 8 percent. "Our old paradigm has broken down, and we haven't figured out how to replace it," concludes Zukin. "In short, polls and pollsters are going to be less reliable. We may not even know when we're off base. What this means for 2016 is anybody's guess."
Cellphones

Samsung Fixes Cellphone Keyboard Vulnerability 41 41

An anonymous reader writes: Several days ago, news broke that Samsung's keyboard software on their Galaxy series of cell phones had a glaring security issue that left 600 million devices vulnerable to attackers. The company has now fixed the flaw internally, and is making plans to roll out security updates to affected devices. They say the likelihood of an actual attack is low, because a particular set of conditions need to be met before any damage could be done.
Cellphones

Planned Sequel To Fairphone Promises an Ethical, Repairable Phone 83 83

New submitter sackvillian writes: An article in Wired reports on the ongoing development of the Fairphone 2, planned for European release in September. The phone is the follow-up to the Indiegogo-funded original that inevitably had room for improvement. The manufacturers promise a modular phone with an emphasis on repairability and expandability, with otherwise respectable specs (Qualcomm Snapdragon 801, 2GB RAM, Dual SIM, 8MP camera). It runs on a customized Android 5.1. So, the inevitable question arises — would you be willing to sacrifice some performance (and pay a significant premium) for a phone that's repairable, moddable, and ethical?
Security

Samsung Cellphone Keyboard Software Vulnerable To Attack 104 104

Adesso writes: A serious security problem in the default Samsung keyboard installed on many of the company's cellphones has been lurking since December 2014 (CVE-2015-2865). When the phone tries to update the keyboard, it fails to encrypt the executable file. This means attackers on the same network can replace the update file with a malicious one of their own. Affected devices include the Galaxy S6, S5, S4, and S4 mini — roughly 600 million of which are in use. There's no known fix at the moment, aside from avoiding insecure Wi-Fi networks or switching phones. The researcher who presented these findings at the Blackhat security conference says Samsung has provided a patch to carriers, but he can't find out if any of them have applied the patch. The bug is currently still active on the devices he tested.
Blackberry

Is BlackBerry Launching an Android Phone? 113 113

An anonymous reader writes: According to a Reuters report BlackBerry may launch an Android phone with a hardware keyboard. If true, it's a definite shift in their business model. "We don't comment on rumors and speculation, but we remain committed to the BlackBerry 10 operating system, which provides security and productivity benefits that are unmatched," said the company in an email. Google declined to comment.
Medicine

South Korea Tracks Mobile Phones Over MERS Outbreak 20 20

An anonymous reader tips news that South Korea has stepped up its efforts to fight an outbreak of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) after the number of known cases keeps increasing rapidly. World health officials are not recommending general travel restrictions, but members of the public are being advised not to do so. Nearly 2,000 schools have been closed, and 2,300 people are in quarantine. The South Korean government is also taking the unusual step of using mobile phones to track which citizens may have been in contact with confirmed MERS patients. The outbreak in South Korea has been traced back to a man who went to multiple medical centers in mid-May seeking treatment for his symptoms. The government is apologizing for its slow response to the situation, and hoping the economic damage won't be too bad.
Music

A Music-Sharing Network For the Unconnected 66 66

An anonymous reader writes: Operating as personal offline versions of iTunes and Spotify, the téléchargeurs, or downloaders, of Mali are filling the online music void for many in the country. For less than a dime a song, a téléchargeur will transfer playlists to memory cards or directly onto cellphones. Even though there are 120,000 landlines for 15 million people in Mali, there are enough cellphones in service for every person in the country. The spread of cell phones and the music-sharing network that has followed is the subject of this New York Times piece. From the article: "They know what their regulars might like, from the latest Jay Z album to the obscurest songs of Malian music pioneers like Ali Farka Touré. Savvy musicians take their new material to Fankélé Diarra Street and press the téléchargeurs to give it a listen and recommend it to their customers....This was the scene Christopher Kirkley found in 2009. A musicologist, he traveled to Mali hoping to record the haunting desert blues he loved. But every time he asked people to perform a favorite folk song or ballad, they pulled out their cellphones to play it for him; every time he set up his gear to capture a live performance, he says, 'five other kids will be holding their cellphones recording the same thing — as an archivist, it kind of takes you down a couple of notches.'”
Microsoft

Microsoft Hasn't Given Up On the Non-Smart Phones It Inherited From Nokia 66 66

jfruh writes: Microsoft's acquisition of Nokia's handset business was mostly focused on gaining a hardware line that ran the company's Windows Phone OS; but in the process, Microsoft also gained ownership of some model lines that are classified as "feature phones" and some that are straight up dumb, and they're still coming out with new models, confusingly still bearing the "Nokia" brand. The $20 Nokia 105 as billed as "long-lasting backup device" and comes with an FM radio, while the $30 Nokia 215 is "Internet-ready" and comes with Facebook and Twitter apps.