Blog

Nextbit’s “Robin” Smartphone Uses Cloud Storage

nextbit robinNextbit Systems Inc. has unveiled its latest Android smartphone, which has been designed to manage storage and backup so you don’t have to. The device, called “Robin,” automatically moves files and apps to the cloud.

The Robin’s software works closely with Google’s Android operating system, and is designed to assess which files a user will need immediately and which can be moved to the cloud. Apps that are rarely used, for example, will be sent to the cloud to free up space for something used more regularly. Retrieval of apps from the cloud is easy and does not require reinstallation.

“In a way we can leverage the cloud to exceed the specs of your device,” said Mike Chan, Nextbit’s co-founder, who worked on several major Android releases. “We look at the system as a whole. We look at your usage patterns; we personalize this, really, for you.”

Nextbit’s Android phone is more reasonably priced to attract users who do not want to pay for high-end devices such as the iPhone or Samsung S6. The robin will be widely available early next year at a price of $399.

The device includes a 13 megapixel rear-facing camera, as well as dual speakers and amplifiers. It also has a fingerprint reader to activate the power button, and 32 gigabytes of storage plus up to 100 gigabytes of cloud storage.

Qualcomm’s New Smartphone Chip Fights Malware

Qualcomm_Snapdragon_logoQualcomm is trying to protect you from brand new viruses and malware attacks through its Smart Protect technology. Smart Protect will debut on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 820 mobile processor and will use machine learning to watch out for potential security issues in real time.

The Snapdragon 820 will also provide faster graphic capabilities making it ideal for VR solutions. Qualcomm will be offering an API for Smart Protect, which will allow security companies to take advantage of the chip’s heightened awareness.

“Snapdragon Smart Protect is engineered to look at the actual behavior of device applications in real time and almost instantly detect and classify any application behavior that is considered suspicious or anomalous,” Qualcomm wrote in a blog post. “Suspicious applications are classified into severity levels of malware, ranging from more destructive malware applications, to spyware apps, to less threatening though annoying adware apps.”

Qualcomm’s Smart Protect feature will keep your device secure even without an Internet connection, and without downloading new antivirus updates to keep you safe. Malware protection on mobile devices is becoming so sophisticated it is quickly surpassing desktop security software.

Instagram Now Allows Rectangular Photos

Instagram_Icon_LargeIf you use Instagram, you know that any photo you post is confined to a basic square format. Now, the Facebook-owned social networking site is allowing users to post in landscape and portrait format for the first time. This means 300 million users will have more creativity in the way they upload not only photos, but videos as well.

“It turns out nearly one in five photos or videos people post aren’t in the square format, and we know that it hasn’t been easy to share this type of content on Instagram,” the company said in a blog post. “Friends get cut out of group shots, the subject of your video feels cramped and you can’t capture the Golden Gate Bridge from end to end.”

The Internet is already taking advantage of this change, with big name accounts like Disney posting a landscape-oriented teaser for its upcoming Star Wars film. Clips like these are part of Instagram’s plan to carry more advertising.

Analyst Debra Aho Williamson agrees this move will benefit advertisers. “It boils down to giving advertisers more options,” she told Reuters. “You want people to be able to see more of your ad. It’s something advertisers are definitely going to be interested in.”

Disabling Automatic Windows 10 Updates

Windows-10-logoMicrosoft has made updates mandatory on its new Windows 10 operating system. If you happen to be using Windows 10 Pro, you have the option to delay these updates, but if you’re using the basic Windows 10 Home the updates will happen automatically by default.

The decision to include mandatory updates has not been popular. There are many reasons why users are saying they would prefer to choose when or if they update their computers, including data usage and the potential for errors. If you are one of these users who might want to delay or block updates, there are a few tricks to try.

If a user is accessing Wi-Fi for Internet connectivity, there is an option within settings that will stop Windows 10 updates if enabled. To do this, search for “Change Wi-Fi settings” in the Start Menu, click “Advanced Options” and enable the toggle below called “Set as metered connection.” This will stop the updates by making your computer believe you’re on a limited data plan, even if you are not.

Sadly, this little cheat will not work if you use a broadband connection or Ethernet cable. If you’re using one of these methods for internet connection, you may need to download a tool from Microsoft’s website that allows users to hide of disable updates selectively.

Facebook Introduces “Donate Now” Button for Non-Profits

facebook_2015_logo_detailFacebook is now making it more convenient to donate to the charitable organization of your choosing. The social networking site recently introduced a “Donate Now” button on all Pages and ads for non-profits.

“Now, it’s easier than ever for non-profits to connect with people who care about their causes and encourage them to contribute through the website of their choice,” said Facebook.

The Donate Now button would have been great last summer, when everyone was taking part in the Ice Bucket Challenge for the ALS Association. Now, the ALS Association’s Facebook page has a Donate Now button right beside the ‘Like’ and ‘Message’ options.

If you choose to donate to any organization, an alert will pop-up saying it is “not endorsed or affiliated with Facebook.” Pressing Continue will redirect you to the non-profit’s webpage, where you can then make a contribution at your own discretion.

The Donate Now button has existed since Christmas of 2013, but only for a select nineteen non-profits. These included the Livestrong Foundation, the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Water.org, the World Wildlife Fund, the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, ASPCA, The Red Cross and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Now, any organization designated as a non-profit has the choice to add this feature.

Comcast Planning Nationwide Gigabit Internet by 2018

comcast1Comcast VP of network architecture Robert Howald recently told FierceCable that the company plans to offer gigabit Internet to all of its customers by 2018.

Comcast was already found to be the fastest nationwide ISP in the United States, according to SpeedTest.net. In the not-too-distant future, things will be getting even faster.

Comcast plans to transition its DOCSIS 3 technology (Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification) to DOCSIS 3.1. Once the transition is complete, Comcast’s network will handle Internet speeds of at least 1Gbps, and potentially up to 10Gbps.

The rollout of Comcast’s DOCSIS 3.1 is anticipated to begin in early 2016. Comcast has said once fully deployed “every customer in our footprint will be able to receive gigabit speeds over our existing network (a combination of both fiber and coax).”

“We want to get it across the footprint very quickly,” Howald explained. “We’re shooting for two years.”

Once deployed, Comcast’s 300GB data cap will be a thing of the past. Early trials of DOCSIS 3.1 could begin by late 2015.

BlackBerry’s First Android Device – New Leaked Details

blackberryDetails surrounding BlackBerry’s rumored Venice slider device are being leaked at an astounding rate. The company will reportedly be releasing its first Android phone in November.

Evan Blass, trusted source for smartphone and tablet leaks, recently posted new tweets revealing additional details about the device. The first tweet shows what claims to be a demo of the BlackBerry Productivity suite, which can be viewed on YouTube here.

The second tweet included a file list, suggesting BlackBerry’s Android handset will still include a number of traditional BlackBerry features. These tweets reveal the BlackBerry Venice slider is more than a stock Android handset and will come with favorite BlackBerry experiences built into the system.

BlackBerry’s android device will reportedly come with an 18 megapixel camera, a slide-out physical QWERTY keyboard and a 5.4-inch display. The Venice slider will also feature a hexa-core 1.8 GHz Snapdragon 808 processor and 3GB of RAM.

Android and iOS on 96.8 Percent of Smartphones

iOS-and-AndroidAlthough global smartphone sales aren’t as high as in previous quarters, Google and Apple continue to dominate the industry. Research group Gartner says that Google’s Android OS is still by far the most popular in the world.

Samsung – which primarily uses Android – is still number one in smartphone sales with 21.9 percent of the market. However, Samsung had trouble competing with Apple’s iPhone lineup during the second quarter and its market share is down from 26.2 percent as a result. Apple, on the other hand, has improved from 12.2 percent to 14.6 percent.

“Apple recorded strong iPhone replacements in both emerging and mature markets — and particularly in China,” Gartner said. “Total iPhone sales in China grew 68 percent to 11.9 million units.”

Behind Samsung and Apple, the next best-selling vendors are Huawei with 7.8 percent of total smartphone sales, Lenovo with five percent and Xiaomi with 4.9 percent.

Android smartphones make up 82.2 percent of the market, even during its lowest year-over-year growth ever. Combined with Apple’s iOS, the two companies make up 96.8 of the world’s smartphones. This presents a serious challenge for Microsoft, whose Windows smartphone market share dropped from 2.8 percent to 2.5 percent.

“Microsoft continued to struggle to generate a wider demand for Windows Phone devices – even at the lower end,” Gartner said. “In light of Microsoft’s recent cuts in its mobile hardware business, we’ll await signs of its long-term commitment in the smartphone market.”

Moto X Play Available in Canada

moto playFriday, August 21 will mark the debut of Motorola’s Moto X Play in Canada, with support from Bell, Telus, Koodo and Sasktel. The device features a 5.5-inch 1080p LCD display, 2GB of RAM and 16GB of expandable storage. Wind Mobile and Videotron will also be offering the Play within the next week.

The Moto X Play will cost around $400 when purchased outright and is aimed at the mid-range market. The device has been designed to offer near-premium specs at a reasonable price. Unlike last year’s Moto X model, it is expected that carriers will offer the Play for between $0 and $50 on contract. Specific details from each carrier have yet to be disclosed.

Motorola has not indicated if it will also bring the larger, more powerful Moto X Style to Canada.

Facebook Hacker Pleads Guilty

file0002120440786Eric Crocker of Binghamton, N.Y. was one of a dozen people charged this summer for his participation in a hacking forum known as Darkode. The 29-year-old recently pleaded guilty in a U.S. District Court to violating the CAN-SPAM Act.

Crocker operated under the pseudonym “Phastman” and used a hacking tool called Facebook Spreader, which infected Facebook-connected PCs and turned them into bots. Crocker profited by selling access to his bots, which scammers then used to send out massive amounts of spam. The virus was designed to send a Facebook message to the affected users’ friends with an attached malware file that runs as soon as it is clicked.

Crocker and hackers of his caliber would have made about $200 to $300 for every 10,000 computers infected. This scheme likely earned Crocker as much as $21 million.

“This operation is a great example of what international law enforcement can accomplish when we work closely together to neutralize a global cybercrime marketplace,” Assistant Attorney General Leslie Caldwell said in July.

According to the FBI, Crocker faces up to three years in prison or a fine of $250,000, or possibly both. His sentencing is scheduled for November 23rd.