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4 years ago

Major security vulnerability in some Samsung phones could trigger factory reset via web page

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Update, 09/26: Samsung has told us that the latest Galaxy S3 firmware fixes this exploit. Our own testing has shown other phones, particularly Galaxy S2 models, may still be at risk, however. If you're still concerned, you can check our USSD vulnerability test to see if your phone is vulnerable.

A major security vulnerability has been discovered in some TouchWiz-based Samsung smartphones, including the Galaxy S2 and certain Galaxy S3 models on older firmware. The bug was first demonstrated days ago by security researcher Ravi Borgaonkar at the Ekoparty security conference. It involves the use of a single line of code in a malicious web page to immediately trigger a factory reset without prompting the user, or allowing them to cancel the process. Even more serious is the possibility that this could be paired with a similar glitch to render the user's SIM card inoperable. And as the malicious code is in URI form, it can also be delivered via NFC or QR code.

Our Verizon Galaxy S3 was not reset by the malicious code embedded in a web page, though we were able to trigger a reset using similar code tied to a hyperlink. Mobile dev Justin Case tells us the issue is fixed in the latest AT&T and international Galaxy S3 firmwares, though devices that have not been updated may remain vulnerable. Others have reported that devices like the Galaxy Ace and Galaxy Beam are also affected. As far as we can tell, though, the bug does not affect Samsung phones running stock Android, like the Galaxy Nexus.

The vulnerability is the result of the way the native Samsung dialer app handles USSD codes and telephone links. USSD codes are special combinations of characters that can be entered in the keypad to perform certain functions, like enabling call forwarding, or accessing hidden menus on the device. On Samsung phones, there's also a USSD code for factory resetting the phone (and presumably another for nuking your SIM). This, combined with the fact that the dialer automatically runs telephone links that are passed to it by other apps, results in a particularly nasty issue for anyone unfortunate enough to run by a malicious web page.

There are, of course, other applications of this glitch -- for example, the ability to automatically run numbers through the dialer could be used to call premium-rate phone numbers. But the fact that just visiting a web site could factory reset your phone, wipe your internal storage and nuke your SIM is a very serious issue. So we'd advise you update your software if you're running an S3, and if you're not, we'd recommend using a third-party dialer like Dialer One until all this has blown over.

We've reached out to Samsung for comment on this issue, and we'll keep you updated with any information they provide.

Source: @Paul Olvia; via SlashGear, @backlon, @teamandirc

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4 years ago

Samsung reportedly developing its own mobile browser, just as it always has done

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The Internet's in a bit of a tizzy this morning over reports from a Korean news that Samsung has begun development of its own WebKit-based mobile browser, to be used in future smartphones. ETNews reports that Samsung's browser will be offered as an alternative to Google Chrome on mobile. WebKit, of course, is the open-source software at the core of many mobile and desktop browsers, including Chrome, the native Android browser, and Safari. Today's report says Samsung has recruited several "WebKit professionals" in order to accelerate its browser efforts. The project is said to be based out of the Samsung Information Systems America R&D Center in Silicon Valley.

While this would be a fairly noteworthy development, it's not as big a deal as you might think. Google has been pushing Chrome as the default browser for Android for a while now, and it comes pre-loaded on upcoming phones like the RAZR M and RAZR HD, as well as Samsung's own Galaxy Camera. Samsung's already shown that it wants to foster its own ecosystem rather than relying on Google's. Competing Samsung and Google services are numerous -- Music Hub versus Play Music, Video Hub versus Play Videos and TV, Samsung Apps versus Play Store. So with Google taking the initiative to push Chrome center stage, a reaction from Samsung was only natural.

But today's news is only a natural progression of the work Samsung's been doing on its own native Android browser for the past several years. If you examine the bundled browser on a Samsung phone, you'll find it's quite far from the stock Android browser. Samsung was the first to introduce tiled rendering on Android in the Galaxy S2, and on the Galaxy S3 it offered its own unique tab control and power saving options. Other Android OEMs have done the same, so in a way they all have their own mobile browsers. And with Chrome replacing the stock browser as the default on Android handsets, we wouldn't be terribly surprised to see the likes of HTC and LG follow a similar path.

It's possible Samsung might be developing its browser from the ground up, based upon WebKit, though today's article is light on technical details like this. What we think is more likely is that we'll find Samsung's own S Browser, based upon the speedy stock Jelly Bean browser, made available alongside Chrome on future Samsung Android handsets. And really, that's not all that different from the way things work right now.

Source: ETNews, via SamMobile

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4 years ago

Samsung Galaxy Note 2 coming to UK on Oct. 1

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Samsung has announced that its latest smartphone/tablet hybrid, the Galaxy Note 2, will land on British shores next Monday, Oct. 1. Like the Galaxy S3 and Galaxy Note 10.1 before it, the Note 2 will be available first at the Samsung brand store at the Westfield shopping center in Stratford, London, as well as major UK networks, and independent retailers. That roughly fits with what we were hearing yesterday from Phones4U, which expects to fulfill Note 2 orders from Oct 2.

The Galaxy Note 2 will become the first major non-Nexus Android device to hit store shelves with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. And with a 1.6GHz quad-core Exynos CPU and 2GB of RAM, it's no slouch in terms of hardware specs either. Like its predecessor, the Note 2 comes with a Wacom-based Samsung "S Pen," which this time around has been redesigned for easier grip and better on-screen action. For more on the Galaxy Note 2, check out our hands-on coverage from IFA.

Samsung informs us that the Note 2 will be available in both marble white and titanium grey colors, so it looks like there'll be no waiting around for secondary color options, as was the case around Galaxy S3 launch time.

Anyone picking up a launch day Galaxy Note 2 in the UK? Hit the comments and let us know. We've got today's press release in full after the break.

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4 years ago

'Martian pink' Samsung Galaxy S3 is official, headed to South Korea

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New color launches in South Korea, as sales figures suggest six percent of the country's population now own a Galaxy S3

It was leaked last week, but now it's official -- the Samsung Galaxy S3 will be launching in South Korea in a new "Martian pink" color. Currently, Samsung plans to make available just 100,000 of the pink S3s across South Korea's three main mobile operators.

On its official Korean blog, the company quoted an official as saying (roughly translated) --

"The Martian pink Galaxy S III is refined and sensuous. With its distinctive style, we expect a great response from the younger generation and women."

Samsung also notes that it's surpassed 3 million Galaxy S3 sales in its home territory, which is all the more impressive considering the country's population of just under 50 million. By our calculations, that suggests that six percent of all South Koreans now own a Galaxy S3. Internationally, sales of the phone stand at 20 million, and that's expected to rise to 30 million before the end of the year.

Samsung's accustomed to strong sales of its handsets in Korea. Back in January it emerged that some 5 million Galaxy S2 phones had been sold in the country, the equivalent of 10 percent of the population.

Samsung hasn't announced any plans to launch the new Martian pink S3 outside of South Korea, but given its track record with the pink Galaxy S2 and Galaxy Note, we wouldn't be surprised to see this a Martian pink invasion of Europe taking place in a few months' time.

Source: Samsung (Korean, Translated)

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4 years ago

Nexus 7 and Google Play Books now available in Japan

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Google has a treat today for all Android fans in Japan. The Google Nexus 7 is now available in the country, and brings with it Google Play Books for the ride. Available from the Play Store for 19,800 Yen ($250) for the 16GB variant, it's good to see the same great pricing expanding across the world with the device. Despite rumors of an upcoming launch in India before the years end, this marks the first expansion into the Asian market following the Australian, North American and European launch markets. 

Google has even given the Nexus 7 its own Japanese launch page, which you can find by hitting the source link below. 

Source: @GoogleNexus, Google Japan

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4 years ago

Adobe's HTML5 Edge development suite goes live today

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Adobe has kicked off their Edge development tool suite today with the release of Edge Animate and PhoneGap -- tools designed to develop HTML5 and wean the Internet off of Flash, as well as package things up for smartphones. 

While this is exciting news for developers, its significance shouldn't be lost on the rest of us. I've been lamenting for weeks that Flash on the Internet won't ever die until easy to use and robust tools are provided, both to ease development time and costs as well as drive the platform (meaning pure HTML5 on the web) forward. The reason we ever needed Flash players on our computers or smartphones was because it was so easy to use it became the de facto web standard for interactive animations. Just because the Flash player for mobile was going the way of the dodo, didn't mean the existing content developers would abandon its use. Tools like the Edge suite are what it's going to take.

In addition to the full IDE for creating the content, Adobe has released a few other tools to assist web developers. Edge Inspect is a cross platform debugger, Edge WebFonts bundles over 500 free fonts (including two new fonts from Adobe) and the one we're pretty interested in -- PhoneGap. PhoneGap is a cloud based utility that can take HTML5, CSS, and JavaScript created with tools like Edge Animate and bundle it all up in an application for iOS, Android, Windows Phone, webOS, BlackBerry OS, Bada, or Symbian.

If you're a developer, be sure to head to Adobe's site, as Edge Animate is being offered for free as a promotion, and free beats $499 any day of the week. It looks like the gap left when Adobe killed off mobile Flash Player should be filling up nicely in short order. Quick -- someone tell Facebook.

Source: Adobe

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4 years ago

Who needs a car head unit when you have a Galaxy S3?

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Looking for something to replace that lackluster 8-Track, cassette, or CD player that came with your car? Instead of using some goofy adapter or FM transmitter, why not replace the entire unit with a Samsung Galaxy S III?

That was the train of thought for Steve, aka youtube user philstuffs. He had an old JVC head unit that just wasn't cutting it. So instead of spend the money on a stand-alone head unit for his vehicle, he used his trusty SGS3. He modified a standard car charger so the phone charges when the car is on and he hooked up the audio-out from his phone to the amplifier in his trunk. Simple and effective.

Before you get on his case for the phone not being centered, he knows this. He states in his youtube video description that he still needs to come up with a "prettier facia" and is even thinking about using fiberglass. 

What I want to know is: How does he take the phone with him when he leaves the vehicle? From the looks of it, that facia he cooked up is removable, and he can unhook his SGS3 and be on his way. Not the most practical solution. Maybe his final design will be more practical and user friendly.

Would you replace your entire head unit with your smartphone? How do you listen to music from your phone in your car? Let us know in the comments. Video after the break.

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4 years ago

AOKP JB build 3 released; Samsung devices added, Motorola devices dropped

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Image courtesy BlueWall

AOKP has released the JB 3 build of their popular Jelly Bean ROM, with a few new features, some bug fixes, and device support news. Support for the Samsung i9100, Samsung i9100g (OMAP version of the Galaxy S 2), and Samsung i9300 has been added to the project, as well as the return of the two Sprint Nexus devices, the Toroplus and Crespo 4G.

Unfortunately, due to lack of a device maintainer, support for both the Wingray and Stingray (Motorola Xoom devices) has been dropped. This puts a damper on the otherwise good news, and we hope someone can step forward and get Motorola's best tablets back into the game.

The four new features are SMS Quickreply, stopwatch and countdown timers in the clock app, "expert" calculator options (graphing. matrices and the like), and adding IME switching and vibration/ringer toggle to the navigation ring targets. Bugs squashed include the ability to add custom ringtones again, as well as other under-the-hood fixes and improvements. 

Downloads for the various Nexus devices are already live, and you can find them here (as well as the G apps you'll need). Keep an eye out for the newly added devices to be released as the maintainers get things up to speed.

Source: AOKP

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4 years ago

Google Play Books updated with new tools, highlighting and notes

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Google has updated their Play Books application, bringing a new set of tools such as definitions, maps integration, translation, and text highlighting. The new feature set brings along some great options that we've seen in other popular e-book apps, as well as some that we haven't.

With today's update, users can select a named place and have a card with a Google Maps view displayed, with the option to find out more via a Google search or from Wikipedia. Similarly, when you come across a word or term you're not familiar with you can tap it for a quick definition. 

Taking things a bit further, you can also select a word or phrase and use the button in the action bar to translate it into other languages, presumably using Google's translate engine.

Last but not least, readers can now highlight sections and insert notes, which sync across the cloud to all devices running the app. 

It's great to see Google keeping their applications fresh and filled with new features, but it's even more exciting to see them moving outside the confines of the US into other countries. Google Play Books is available in the U.S., Canada, Australia, Germany, Spain, Italy, France, Korea and Japan. Download it via the link above.

Source: Google 

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4 years ago

Galaxy Note 2 UK on-contract prices emerge, shipping next Tuesday

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UK SIM-free pricing for the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 emerged some time ago, but if you're still wondering much it'll set you back on-contract, then wonder no more. The answer, it seems, is a lot. Independent UK retailer Phones4U has published its subsidized prices for the Note 2, which it's offering on Vodafone, O2, T-Mobile and Orange. But if you want to pick up a Galaxy Note 2 for free, you'll be paying at least £41 per month to one of the UK's leading networks.

On O2, that'll get you a free Galaxy Note 2, and an allowance consisting of unlimited texts, unlimited minutes and 1GB of data. Though for just a pound more per month, Vodafone offers the same call and text package, but with 2GB of data thrown in. Cheaper plans are available, but you'll pay up to £299 for the phone itself.

Phones4U expects to fulfill orders from next Tuesday, Oct. 2, which would fit with rumored release dates that've been doing the rounds in the past few days.

Source: Phones4U

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4 years ago

This week's sidebar poll: What is your browser of choice?

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Having access to the Internet's rich content is a good reason why many of us love our smartphones. The days of WAP browsing are over and we have all sorts of options and way to get the Web and services right in our hands. On the Android platform we're especially lucky, because we have an abundance of browser apps available right in Google Play. Whether you need one of the numerous fast-as-heck rendering Webkit browsers, like Chrome or Dolphin, or want the compatibility with desktop web apps that Firefox's Gecko delivers, or even the quick loading pages that come with Opera Mini, Android has you covered.

This is where we share, so I'll tell what I'm using. I actually install two full browsers -- Chrome and Firefox. I need Chrome's device sync and tie-in to my Google account, and use it as my device default browser, but when I'm just playing and surfing the 'net I use Firefox, as it seems to do a better job with the sites I frequent. What about you guys? Hit the poll -- you'll find it in the sidebar to the right or after the break -- and let us know how you do it.

Last week's poll was about NFC, and here are the results.

Do you use NFC often?

  • Yes -- 31-percent
  • No -- 43.98-percent
  • My phone doesn't have NFC. Sad Panda face -- 25.01-percent

With a 30-percent plus adoption rate among Android enthusiasts, NFC looks like a feature the manufacturers need to consider when they make their next device. 

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4 years ago

Netflix details their UI update for the Android application

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Following reported sightings, Netflix has gone on record and detailed the UI updates that are being pushed to the Android version of the Netflix application. No download is required, everything has been done on the back end, and users should be seeing it for themselves. 

Other than looks, there's nothing else to be found within. But, looks are important. The Netflix app has always felt like a means to an end rather than an enjoyable application use. These changes looks to go someway to changing that feeling, and follows changes to the iOS offerings. A pretty sweet addition is the ability to double tap on a title and have it beginning right away. If you're a Netflix user, be sure to hit us up in the comments below and let us know your thoughts on the new mobile experience. 

Source: Netflix (YouTube)

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4 years ago

Motorola XPRT update brings Gingerbread and bugfixes

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The Motorola XPRT, that BlackBerry-like keyboard phone on Sprint, has finally made its move to Android 2.3 Gingerbread. Along with bumping up to the next platform version, the update brings a decent grouping of bug fixes for the device:

  • Email User Interface fixes.
  • Contact User Interface fixes.
  • UXD fix to color backgrounds (remove red).
  • Fix the ability to use Bluetooth car kits.
  • Improve EAS GAL (Global Address List) Search.
  • Improve EAS First Sync timing.
  • Fix Forward / Reply markers to original email. (this is if you reply or forward an email from your phone, it would not display in your EAS email account.)
  • SMS fix when using () in SMS body.
  • Bluetooth toasts when syncing contacts improved.

The latest software version, 4.5.1-110-kns-46, is available now and your device should prompt you to update. If you haven't been updated yet, a quick trip to Settings > About phone > System updates should remedy that. As far as Ice Cream Sandwich goes, we think this is probably the end of the road for updates on the XPRT.

Source: Sprint Support

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4 years ago

Motorola Droid RAZR M torn down on video, phone parts found inside

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Motorola's latest Android offering, the Droid RAZR M, has a complete and thorough teardown video available now thanks to the folks over at DirectFix. This is a pretty quick turnaround considering the RAZR M just hit Verizon stores, and we're glad there are people out there who are willing and capable of tearing these new gadgets apart. If for some reason you need to know how to replace a part in your new device -- or maybe you're just curious what Moto has packed behind that kevlar back plate, we wouldn't blame you -- then this video may be of interest to you.

Source: DirectFix YouTube

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4 years ago

Samsung ChatON app with voice and video chat spotted

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Samsung continues to try and push its ChatON instant messaging service, and if the image seen here is to be believed they look set to push into the world of voice and video chat. Spied by SamsungMania.cz on a Samsung Galaxy Camera is the as yet unreleased ChatONV. 

Very little else is known about it at this time, other than the apparent support for voice and video chat. While seen here as a separate application, presumably Samsung could integrate the services into their existing ChatON application rather than offering it separately. 

Source: SamsungMania via Sammyhub

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