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12 Jun 12 Dual Core Processors Wasted on Android, Intel Claims


Current versions of Google’s Android operating system for smartphones make woeful use of their dual core processors, according to an Intel executive.

Poor implementation of threading technology by the operating system saps any benefits dual core processing brings to a system — and in some cases can actually be a detriment to performance, contends Mike Bell, general manager of Intel’s Mobile and Communications Group.

Bell told The Inquirer that even the latest version of Android, 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) suffers from problems with threading scheduling that limits the benefits dual core ARM processors bring to Android phones. Intel uses a competing technology, Atom, in its mobile processor.

What’s more, he maintains that Intel testing found single core processors running faster than some dual core processors. For a lot of the handsets in the market, it isn’t clear that much benefit is gained by turning on the chip’s second core. Worse yet, “having a second core is actually a detriment, because of the way some of the people have not implemented their thread scheduling,” Bell says.

While multicore processors offer performance benefits in environments without power constraints, Bell maintained, that’s not the case with smartphones, which have limits on both power consumption and thermal tolerances.

Bell doesn’t lay all the blame for the poor performance of dual processors on Android’s doorstep. Some of the OS’s threading scheduler problems could be addressed by the chip makers, he asserts, “they just haven’t bothered to do it.” 

Consider the Source

One has to wonder how much of Bell’s thinking is colored by Intel’s experience in the mobile market. No smartphones currently have Intel processors in them. The company’s first stab at making a mobile chip, Moorestown, flopped. Its latest offering, Medfield, has had better luck. It has lined up Motorola and Lenovo to make smartphones with the chips later this year.

LG’s first Intel phone, the never-released GW990

Nevertheless, it’s true that multicore processing has been used as a marketing tool of Android handset makers. For example, they began releasing phones with dual core processors even before Android could support those chips. And they’ve rushed to bring quad core phones into the market.

While Bell’s remarks on dual core performance may have a marketing spin of their own, the questions they raise need further exploration by a party with less of a stake in the market. If Android can’t handle the existing dual core chips in its handsets, what’s the point of doubling the cores — other than to make meaningless marketing claims and deceive consumers that they’re getting performance that they’re not.

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Article source: http://www.pcworld.com/article/257307/dual_core_processors_wasted_on_android_intel_claims.html

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13 May 12 Phony Flash Player Plants Malware on Android Phones


Source: Trend MicroAdobe Flash Player users beware: A website that promises visitors a free copy of the download for all versions of Android is reportedly planting malware on smartphones running Google’s mobile operating system.

The infected web page used to distribute the malware was discovered in a number of Russian domains, wrote Karla Agregado, a fraud analyst with Trend Micro, in a recent company blog. A similar tactic emerged last month to infect Android phones with bogus copies of Angry Birds and Instagram.

When a visitor clicks the download button at the infected site, Agregado explained, a connection is made to another site that, without the guest’s knowledge, sends a malicious APK file to the mobile web surfer’s smartphone.

Once on the phone, the malware starts to secretly send text messages to premium numbers. This scam is a popular one among cyber criminals targeting Android phones. Symantec estimates in its most recent annual threat report that in 2011 some 18 percent of all mobile threats during the year involved premium SMS messages from infected phones.

“Malware that sends premium SMS text messages can pay the author $9.99 for each text and for victims not watching their phone bill could pay off the cyber criminal countless times,” Symantec noted.

Source: Trend MicroAgregado wrote that she identified a bunch of URLs hosted on the same IP address as the infected web site. “Based on the naming alone used in these URLs, it appears that Android is a favorite target for cybercriminals behind this scheme,” she said.

Mobile threats are a growing trend, increasing 93 percent in 2011 over the previous year, according to John Harrison, Symantec group product manager for endpoint threat protection and security technology and response.

“Malware authors are continuing to find ways to monetize a lot of these threats,” he told PCWorld. While mobile threats are small compared to desktop and laptop threats, he observed, “it’s a growing upward trend that we will continue to watch.”

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Article source: http://www.pcworld.com/article/255524/phony_flash_player_plants_malware_on_android_phones.html

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09 Apr 12 Will Google Tablet Sales Frag or Defrag the Android Market?


Will Google Tablet Sales Frag or Defrag the Android Market?For consumers who don’t live and breathe Android, the market can be confusing. There are dozens of phone models, many running different versions of the Android operating system.

The Android tablet market is a little less confusing. There are fewer models out there, probably because slate makers haven’t figured out how to make a decent buck selling the tablets. Amazon has found a way to move its Kindle Fire: Sell it at a loss.

Now that Google is poised to enter the Android tablet market, a question that’s being raised in many observers’ minds is: Will this move reduce or augment market fragmentation?

Background

Google is expected to start selling a seven-inch Android tablet sometime in July at a price–$200–that will make it competitive with Amazon’s Fire. The units would be sold directly to consumers through an online store operated by Google. In addition to Google’s tablets, slates from other manufacturers will eventually be sold through the store.

Kindle FireKindle FireIf Google tablet sales can be as successful as those for the Kindle Fire, that move could reduce the fragmentation in the Android tablet market. Other tablet makers would bring the specs of their devices in line with the Google slate to capitalize on its success.

The flip side of that scenario, though, is that Google’s offering becomes just another tablet. Then it would be contributing to the market’s confusion by just adding another device to an already crowded field.

Pros and Cons

Now, selling its tablets online at a single location could help Google defrag the market. It would provide a powerful magnet for online tablet shoppers. Sure, there are those who say you can’t move tablets unless people can first get their hands on them in the physical world, but the online retail approach seems to have worked successfully for Amazon, which has sold three million Fires since its introduction last fall.

Opening up the online store to other tablet makers, though, could add to market disarray. You could have Google’s tablet running the latest version of Android, while models in the store from other tablet makers would be running other versions of the operating system. Instead of presenting consumers with a unified front on tablets, the store could actually emphasize just how fragmented the market is.

On the other hand, by releasing its own tablet with the latest version of Android, Google might encourage makers of Android devices to move faster in upgrading their hardware. The more devices that are operating on the same page, the less apparent fragmentation there will be.

However, if Google launches its tablet with a new version of Android–say, the upcoming version 5.0 codenamed “Jelly Bean”–it could add to the confusion, since adoption of the latest version of the OS, “Ice Cream Sandwich,” has been so slow.

Such a move would be a disaster for developers, too, who are already having trouble creating apps that run on both Android tablets and phones.

The bottom line is, however, with details about Google’s tablet still in flux, even hypotheses about the potential impact of such a device on fragmentation in the Android market remain on very uncertain footing.

Follow freelance technology writer John P. Mello Jr. and Today@PCWorld on Twitter.

Article source: http://www.pcworld.com/article/253435/will_google_tablet_sales_frag_or_defrag_the_android_market.html

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28 Feb 12 Chrome Now Able to Open E-Mail Links in Gmail


Google has added a feature to Gmail that allows you to use the e-mail service as the default mail client for the Chrome browser. Chrome users who click on an e-mail link on a webpage or e-mail the page’s Web address to someone can now do it automatically through Gmail.

Prior to the release of the new feature, users had to copy an e-mail address on a webpage or its URL, open Gmail manually, create a new message and paste it into the message. Otherwise, clicking on a “mailto” link or choosing to e-mail a link of a page would open the default e-mail client on your computer.

That may not be as efficient as using Gmail. For example, when I choose to e-mail the address of a webpage to myself, my desktop client is painfully slow in opening a new composition window. With the new Gmail feature, the task is much faster.

Chrome Now Able to Open E-Mail Links in GmailIf you use Google Chrome, when you log into your Gmail account, a message will appear at the top of your browser window asking you whether you want to make Gmail your default e-mail client for the browser. Click yes and you’re good to go.

Firefox and Microsoft Internet Explorer users have been able to make Gmail their default client for some time, so it is a bit curious that it has taken Google this long to implement the feature in Chrome. However, turning the feature on in Firefox and IE requires some menu drilling so it isn’t as smooth as turning it on in Chrome.

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Article source: http://www.pcworld.com/article/250877/chrome_now_able_to_open_email_links_in_gmail.html

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16 Feb 12 Google Working on Password Generator for Chrome


Google Working on Password Generator for ChromeGoogle is working on a new password manager for its Chrome browser that would also automatically create strong passwords for users.

The new manager is currently in the design phase, but Google has described the process by which it would work.

When a user visits a page that Chrome thinks is asking to set up an account, it will place a key icon in the password field of the registration form. If the person clicks on that key, Chrome will ask the user whether he or she wants it to create a password. If the user says yes, Chrome will generate a password that includes letters, numbers and characters that make it difficult for a hacker to crack and impossible for the user to remember — and ask the user to approve it.

Chrome asks the user to approve the password because it may not jibe with the rules established by the site for a proper password. That means a person may have to modify the password manually before accepting it.

Once the password is accepted, Chrome will sync it with the user’s other devices running the browser — provided the sync feature is activated for the person’s Chrome account.

Google thinks its idea is a good one because if a person doesn’t remember his or her password, then it can’t be given away to phishers and other Net lowlifes.

Google’s ultimate goal is to have browsers authenticate a user’s identity. That would be done through a browser sign-in and something called OpenID. “While implementing browser sign-in is something that we can control, getting most sites on the Internet to use OpenID will take a while,” it said in a company blog. “In the meantime it would be nice to have a way to achieve the same affect of having the browser control authentication.”

Google Working on Password Generator for Chrome“Currently you can mostly achieve this goal through Password Manager and Browser Sync, but users still know their passwords so they are still susceptible to phishing,” it continued. “By having Chrome generate passwords for users, we can remove this problem.”

Nevertheless, Google acknowledges that users may actually want to see their passwords from time to time, even if they can’t remember them. So in conjunction with the new password manager/creator, it’s mulling over creating a secure website where users will be able to see, and possibly print, the passwords.

Google also admits the new manager will face several challenges. For example, only accounts created after the feature is released will be included in the password archive.

If a site has disabled filling in passwords automatically, it added, the feature won’t work. In some cases, as with certain Microsoft sites, even if autofill is enabled, the manager won’t recognize the registration form.

Another potential danger of using a unified scheme like this is that all your passwords are stored in a single place. If someone cracks a user’s Chrome account, they would have immediate access to all that person’s passwords.

In addition, if a user accesses a site from a device that’s not their own or a browser that’s not Chrome, that person is going to have to remember that jumble of letters, numbers and characters.

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Article source: http://www.pcworld.com/article/250120/google_working_on_password_generator_for_chrome.html

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30 Jan 12 Firefox 12 Tab Features May Have Been Prematurely Hyped


Firefox tab features slated for the upcoming version may not be available until the following iteration, upsetting some fans who could ditch the web browser and use a competitor’s instead — a development that would be good news for Apple’s Safari and Google’s Chrome.

www.electronista.comBoth the home tab and new-tab page features initially reported as slated for Firefox 12, which is to be released in April, may not appear until Firefox 13, according to ExtremeTech.

“It now looks like at least the Home Tab, and possibly the New Tab Page, will not arrive until Firefox 13; they just weren’t ready for Firefox 12,” it reported on Sunday.

Other reports over the weekend based on nightly builds of Firefox 12 said that edition of the browser would have a new-tab page feature, similar to what’s found in Safari and Chrome, and a revamp of the home tab page.

With the new-tab feature, whenever a blank new tab is launched, Firefox would display a 3-by-3 matrix of thumbnails of your most visited sites.

You can edit the thumbnails. They can be reordered within the matrix through drag and drop. Thumbnails can be hidden or “pinned” to their position in the matrix.

The home tab changes are more ambitious and will come in two phases. Phase one calls for a clean and simple page with a row of “launchers” at its bottom. The launchers give you quick access to tools, such as bookmarks, history, settings, add-ons, web apps and downloads.

Phase two completely overhauls the home tab. It adds a new toolbar and direct access to Google Chat. It also incorporates the thumbnail matrix display used in the new new-tab feature. There’s a matrix of “top sites,” for example, and one for “recently shared” sites.

There’s a “top apps” section with shortcuts for webposts like Netflix, Facebook, Twitter and such.

www.extremetech.comThose tab features, though, probably won’t be seen until Firefox 13, which doesn’t have a release date yet, although it’s expected to be sometime at mid year.

Two things that will be in Firefox 12 are auto completion of web addresses and deeper integration with Web applications.

With auto completion, Firefox will automatically complete a URL that you start typing in the address bar based on information from your browser history or bookmark library.

Firefox 12 will enter its Aurora phase on January 31. Final release is expected in April.

With Mozilla’s rapid release schedule for Firefox, it’s not surprising that things can be a little confusing from time to time. The breakneck pace allows Mozilla to incorporate new features into Firefox faster, but it can create more pain than some users are willing to bear, users like “John S,” a commenter at ExtremeTech.

“Thanks but no, thanks, [F]irefox,” he wrote. “I’ve moved on.”

“Your fast release schedule has put me out in the cold,” he continued. “My add-ons are broken, and new bugs pop up every week. In fact, this is all academic, because your lost update broke my ability to use your browser at all. It won’t start, and no matter how many times I uninstall and reinstall, the problems remains the same.”

“So, it’s Chrome for me,” he concludes.

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Article source: http://www.pcworld.com/article/248923/firefox_12_tab_features_may_have_been_prematurely_hyped.html

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26 Oct 11 Google Revamps New-Tab Page in Chrome Web Browser


Google has revamped the “new-tab” feature in its Chrome web browser to give the look and feel of a mobile web app.

Let me explain: in the past, when a new tab was spawned in Chrome, a single page would open with three divisions–applications, most visited, and recently closed.

Chrome's old lookChrome’s old look

Now, Chrome creates a single page for each of these divisions. You can slide between pages by clicking on arrows at either end of the browser window, or jump to a page by clicking on tabs for the pages that appear at the bottom of the screen.

Items on the pages can be reorganized by dragging and dropping them to new positions on the screen. To get rid of an item, just drag it to the right corner of the browser window and a trash receptacle will appear.

If you’re looking for new apps or extensions to add to Chrome, just click on the Web Store app that appears on all new-tab pages by default.

Google has also revamped its Chrome Web Store. The storefront is now a wall of photos that display the latest additions or most popular apps. There’s a slider at the top of the page for browsing recent additions to the store.

Google has simplified the app/extension installation process–when you hover over an image on the store page, it morphs into a screen with an “add to Chrome” button on it. Just click “add” and your app or extension will be installed.

To learn more about an app, you can click on its image. A page will pop up containing screenshots, video, and a description of the app or extension. You can also add the app from this page, by clicking the “add to Chrome” button.

In addition to cosmetic changes, Google has introduced some new apps at the Chrome Web Store. There’s Robot Nation, which lets you design your own robot and bring it to life if you have a 3D printer; two new games, The Godfather: Five Families and Fieldrunners; and there’s a new eBay app for shopping at that auction site.

Follow freelance technology writer John P. Mello Jr. and Today@PCWorld on Twitter.

Article source: http://www.pcworld.com/article/242557/google_revamps_new_tab_page_in_chrome_web_browser.html

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