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Cellphones

Turing Near Ready To Ship World's First Liquid Metal Android Smartphone 78 78

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.
Android

Microsoft Brings Office To Android Smartphones For Free 85 85

Mark Wilson writes: After a few weeks in preview, Microsoft Office is now available for Android smartphones. Despite Microsoft's mobile-first, cloud-first philosophy, it has actually taken some time to bring the world's most popular office suite to Android phones — it joins the tablet version of the suite that was released last year. Just like the tablet editions, the phone versions of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint won't cost you a penny, allowing for the viewing and editing of a range of files when on the move. There is a cloud focus with support for not only OneDrive, but also Google Drive, Dropbox, and Box, and Microsoft says it has made changes based on the feedback received during the preview period.
Handhelds

UW Researchers Prototype Sonar-Based Contactless Sleep Monitoring 40 40

n01 writes: Researchers of the University of Washington are testing the prototype of their ApneaApp to diagnose sleep apnea, a health problem that can become life-threatening. To monitor a person's sleep, the app transforms the user's smartphone into an active sonar system that tracks tiny changes in a person's movements. The phone's speaker sends out inaudible sound waves, which bounce off a sleeping person's body and are picked back up by the phone's microphone. "It's similar to the way bats navigate," said Rajalakshmi Nandakumar, lead author and a doctoral candidate in the UW's department of computer science and engineering. "They send out sound signals that hit a target, and when those signals bounce back they know something is there." In technical terms, the app continuously analyzes changes in the acoustic room-transfer-function (sampled at ultrasonic frequencies) to detect motion. This is very similar to what the iPhone app Sleep Cycle Sonalarm Clock does, except that the UW researchers have improved the sensitivity of the method so it can precisely track the person's breathing movements which allows it to not only detect different sleep phases but also sleep apnea events. The advantage in both use cases is that the sleep monitoring is contact-less (there's nothing in the user's bed that could disturb their sleep) and doesn't require any additional hardware besides the user's smart phone.
Youtube

Ghost Towns Is the First 8K Video Posted To YouTube -- But Can You Watch It? 181 181

Iddo Genuth writes: 4K videos and movies are still far from common and now 8K seems to start making its appearance online. A few days ago, what might be the first 8K video entitled "Ghost Towns" was published on Youtube and you can now watch it for yourself in its full 7680 × 4320 pixel glory — that is if you happen to have access to a 8K display (or projector).

The video was created by cinematographer Luke Neumann who used a 6K EPIC DRAGON camera using some advanced and complex techniques such as shooting in portrait orientation and then stitched the video together in Adobe After Effects. Some shots simply scaled up by 125% from 6.1K to meet the 7.6K standard and handheld stuff was 6K scaled up by 125% and sharpened up.

Youtube is now offering an 8K option and according to Google: "8K video has been supported since 2010, but that labeling for 8K video (the 4320p/8K quality setting like pictured above) was added "earlier this year — but presumably there was noting to view — until now...
Android

LG Arbitrarily Denying Android Lollipop Update To the G2 In Canada? 131 131

Lirodon writes: Its funky rear-mounted buttons may have left critics divided, but the LG G2 is still a pretty capable Android device. While it has gotten an update to Android 5.0 "Lollipop" in some major markets (including the United States, of course), one major holdout is Canada. Reports are surfacing that LG's Canadian subsidiary has decided not to release the update for unknown reasons. But, what about custom ROMs? Well, they handled that too: they have refused to release Lollipop kernel source for the Canadian variant of the device. It is arbitrary actions like this that cause Android's fragmentation problems. A curious note, LG has not specifically made reference to the bugs other users have been having with the update.
The Courts

Blackberry Defeats Typo In Court, Typo To Discontinue Sales of Keyboard 67 67

New submitter juniorkindergarten writes: Blackberry and Typo have reached a final settlement that effectively ends Typo selling its iPhone keyboard accessory. Blackberry took Typo to court for twice for patent infringement over the copying of Blackberry's keyboard design. Blackberry and Typo first battled it out in court, with Typo losing for copying the Blackberry Q10 keyboard design. Typo redesigned its keyboard, and again Blackberry sued them for patent infringement. The final result is that Typo cannot sell keyboards for screens less than 7.9", but can still sell keyboards for the iPad and iPad air. Exact terms were not disclosed.
Android

An Early Look At Android M's Multi-Window Mode For Tablets 95 95

Ars Technica has a look at the experimental multi-window mode in the just-announced Android M. It's not a headlining feature yet: "buggy, busted, and buried, but intriguing nonetheless" is how Ars describes it. Android Police is similarly faint in its praise. All that might be true, but to many users even a partly working multi-window mode would be welcome, especially one blessed by Google. (Some Samsung users have had multi-window support for a while, but not built into the OS proper, and multi-window capabilities can be found via app, too.)
Android

Android M Arrives In Q3: Native Fingerprint Support, Android Pay, 'Doze' Mode 83 83

MojoKid writes with yet more news from the ongoing Google IO conference: Google I/O kicked off this afternoon and the first topic of discussion was of course Google's next generation mobile operating system. For those that were hoping for a huge UI overhaul or a ton of whiz-bang features, this is not the Android release for you. Instead, Android M is more of a maintenance released focused mainly on squashing bugs and improving stability/performance across the board. Even though Android M is about making Android a more stable platform, there are a few features that have been improved upon or introduced for this release: App Permissions, Chrome Custom Tabs for apps, App Links (instead of asking you which app to choose when clicking a link, Android M's new Intent System can allow apps to verify that they are rightfully in possession of a link), NFC-based Android Pay, standardized fingerprint scanning support, and a new "doze" mode that supposedly offers 2X longer battery life when idle.
Android

Android M To Embrace USB Type-C and MIDI 106 106

jones_supa writes: USB Type-C connection is showing up in more and more devices, and Google is rolling support for the interface in its Android M operating system. The most significant additions relate to the USB Power Delivery spec. Charging will now work in both directions. That effectively means that Type-C devices can be used as external batteries for other devices. Android M is also finally introducing a feature that musicmakers have been long asking for: MIDI support. This builds on some of the audio features Google introduced in Android 5, including reduction in latency, multichannel audio stream mixing, and support for USB microphones, amplifiers, speakers, and other accessories. As others have written, music and media creation apps are much more prevalent in iOS than they are in Android, and Google hopes turning that around.
Cellphones

Mozilla Drops $25 Smartphone Plans, Will Focus On Higher Quality Devices 90 90

An anonymous reader writes: When Mozilla developed Firefox OS, its goal was not to provide the best smartphone experience, but to provide a "good enough" smartphone experience for a very low price. Unfortunately, these cheap handsets failed to make a dent in the overall smartphone market, and the organization is now shifting its strategy to start producing a better experience for better devices. CEO Chris Beard said, "If you are going to try to play in that world, you need to offer something that is so valuable that people are willing to give up access to the broader ecosystem. In the mass market, that's basically impossible." Of course, when moving to the midrange smartphone market, or even the high end, there's still plenty of competition, so the new strategy may not work any better. However, they've hinted at plans to start supporting Android apps, which could help them play catch-up. Beard seems fixated on this new goal: "We won't allow ourselves to be distracted, and we won't expand to new segments until significant traction is demonstrated." He adds, "We will build products that feel like Mozilla."
Cellphones

Ask Slashdot: What's the Best Dumb Phone? 313 313

An anonymous reader writes: For those of us who don't need or want a smartphone, what would be the best dumb phone around? Do you have a preference over flip or candy bar ones? What about ones that have FM radio? Do any of you still use dumb phones in this smart phone era? Related question: What smart phones out now are (or can be reasonably outfitted to be) closest to a dumb phone, considering reliability, simplicity, and battery life? I don't especially want to give up a swiping keyboard, a decent camera, or podcast playback, but I do miss being able to go 5 or more days on a single charge.
Android

Factory Reset On Millions of Android Devices Doesn't Wipe Storage 92 92

Bismillah writes: Ross Anderson and Laurent Simon of Cambridge University studied a range of Android devices and found that even though a "factory reset" is supposed to fully wipe storage, it often doesn't. Interestingly enough, full-device encryption could be compromised by the incomplete wiping too. ITnews reports: "The researchers estimated that 500 million Android devices may not fully wipe device disk partitions. As many as 630 million phones may not wipe internal SD cards. Five 'critical failures' were outlined in the researchers' Security Analysis of Android Factory Resets paper.
Handhelds

Asus ZenFone 2 Performance Sneak Peek With Intel Z3580 Inside 108 108

MojoKid writes: Asus just finally made their ZenFone 2 available for sale in the US. It's an Intel-powered smartphone running Android Lollipop that's compatible with AT&T and T-Mobile, and other cellular networks that utilize GSM technology, like Straight Talk, MetroPCS, and Cricket Wireless among others.The device is packing a quad-core Intel Atom Z3580 (2.3GHz) with PowerVR G6430 graphics and 4GB of RAM, along with Intel 7262 and Intel 2230 modem tech, a 5.5" Full HD screen, a 13MP rear camera, dual-SIM support and 802.11ac Wi-Fi. The high-end model can be had for only $299, unlocked. A $199 version with 2GB of RAM and a slightly slower Intel Atom Z3560 is also available. In the benchmarks, the Zenfone 2 offers competent though middling performance but considering Asus has priced the ZenFone 2 so aggressively, it's sure to grab some attention at retail with consumers looking for a contract-free commitment.
Cellphones

Pre-Orders Start For Neo900 Open Source Phone 134 134

New submitter JoSch1337 writes: After a year and a half of development, the Neo900 project now opened its web shop for the down payments of binding pre-orders for either a full Neo900 phone or the bare circuit board to upgrade an existing Nokia N900. The up-front down payment is necessary to now secure expensive "risk parts" like the modem, 1GB RAM and N900 cases. Thus, without pre-ordering now, there might not be enough parts left after the first batch.

The Neo900 is the spritual successor of the Nokia N900. The new circuit board can be placed into an existing N900 for better specs (faster CPU, more RAM, LTE modem) than the original device while still maintaining fremantle (maemo 5) backwards compatibility. Alternatively, a fully assembled phone can be purchased as well. The Neo900 will be fully operational without any binary blob running on the main CPU. While the modem still requires a non-free firmware, it is completely decoupled from the rest of the device (think of a LTE usb stick you put in your laptop) and can reliably be monitored or switched off by the operating system.

You can follow the development of the project in the maemo forum, read about the specs of the device or consult the FAQ
Cellphones

Police Can Obtain Cellphone Location Records Without a Warrant 216 216

mi writes: A new ruling from the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals found by a margin of 9-2 that law enforcement does not need to get a warrant to grab your cell phone's location records. The justices ruled that there is no expectation of privacy for your location when you're using a cell phone. This decision (PDF) was based on a case in which a man was convicted of robbery after months of location data was given to authorities by his cell phone carrier, MetroPCS. Police got the information using a court order, rather than a warrant, because there were less stringent requirements involved. One of the judges wrote: "We find no reason to conclude that cellphone users lack facts about the functions of cell towers or about telephone providers' recording cell tower usage."
Android

LG G4 and Qualcomm's Snapdragon 808 Benchmarked 45 45

MojoKid writes: LG officially lifted the veil on its new G4 flagship Android phone this week and the buzz has been fairly strong. LG's display prowess is well known, along with their ability to pack a ton of screen real estate into a smaller frame with very little bezel, as they did with the previous generation G3. However, what's under the hood of the new LG G4 is probably just as interesting as the build quality and display, for some. On board the LG G4 is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 808, the six-core little brother of the powerful and power-hungry Snapdragon 810 that's found in HTC's One M9. The One M9 is currently one of the fastest Android handsets out there, but its battery life suffers as a result. So with a six-core Snapdragon and a slightly tamer Adreno 418 graphics engine on board, but also with 3GB of RAM, it's interesting to see where the G4 lands performance-wise. It's basically somewhere between the HTC One M9 (Snapdragon 810) and the Snapdragon 805 in the Nexus 6 in CPU bound workloads, besting even the iPhone 6, but much more middle of the pack in terms of graphics and gaming.
Cellphones

Patents Show Google Fi Was Envisioned Before the iPhone Was Released 31 31

smaxp writes: Contrary to reports, Google didn't become a mobile carrier with the introduction of Google Fi. Google Fi was launched to prove that a network-of-networks serves smartphone users better than a single mobile carrier's network. Patents related to Google Fi, filed in early 2007, explain Google's vision – smartphones negotiate for and connect to the fastest network available. The patent and Google Fi share a common notion that the smartphone should connect to the fastest network available, not a single carrier's network that may not provide the best performance. It breaks the exclusive relationship between a smartphone and a single carrier. Meanwhile, a story at BostInno points out that Google's not the only one with a network-hopping hybrid approach to phone calls.
Bug

iOS WiFi Bug Allows Remote Reboot of All Devices In Area 117 117

New submitter BronsCon writes: A recently disclosed flaw in iOS 8 dubbed "No iOS Zone" allows an attacker to create a WiFi hot spot that will cause iOS devices to become unstable, crash, and reboot, even when in offline mode. Adi Sharabani and Yair Amit of Skycure are working with Apple for a fix; but, for now, the only workaround is to simply not be in range of such a malicious network.
Facebook

Facebook's "Hello" Tells You Who's Calling Before You Pick Up 78 78

Mark Wilson writes: When you receive a call you'll usually see the number of the caller, but this may not be helpful in identifying them before you decide whether to pick up. Facebook's answer to this problem is Hello. This new app comes from the Facebook Messenger team and aims to tell you more about the person getting in touch with you even if you don't have their number saved in your address book. Currently available for Android, the dialer app also allows for the blocking of calls from individuals.