Saturday 16 January 2016

Asus Live With 5-Inch Display, 8-Megapixel Camera Launched

Asus Live With 5-Inch Display, 8-Megapixel Camera Launched 

Asus has launched a new non-ZenFone smartphone dubbed the Asus Live in Brazil. Priced around $210 (roughly Rs. 14,000), the dual SIM supporting smartphone is yet to reach other countries.
The Asus Live smartphone with model name G500TG is a low-end device based on the specifications. The Android 5.1 Lollipop-based smartphone features a 5-inch HD (720x1280 pixels) resolution display. It packs a quad-core MediaTek MT6580 processor clocked at 1.3 GHz, clubbed with 2GB of LPDDR3 RAM.
The 3G-enabled smartphone houses 16GB of inbuilt storage, which can be further expanded via microSD card (up to 64GB). It bears an 8-megapixel autofocus rear camera along with a 2-megapixel front-facing camera. It is backed by a 2070mAh battery. Asus Live users will also be receiving 100GB of free Google Drive storage for 2 years. 5GB of free Asus WebStorage will also come included.
The smartphone sports a plastic build and is available in Blue, Magenta, and Yellow colour variants. Measuring 144.5x71x9.98mm, the Asus Live weighs 140 grams. As for the connectivity, the handset includes 3G, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, USB 2.0, Bluetooth v4.0, FM radio and GPS options.
Asus is set to launch its ZenFone Zoom smartphone in India on January 22. The ZenFone Zoom was first unveiled at CES 2015 but has yet to see wide availability. Running Android 5.0 Lollipop with the Asus ZenUI on top, the ZenFone Zoom sports a 13-megapixel rear camera with f/2.7 to f/4.8-aperture, 10-element lenses with 3X optical zoom, OIS (optical image stabilisation), laser autofocus, and dual-colour Real Tone flash. The company touts that with a thickness of just 11.95mm, the ZenFone Zoom is the "world's thinnest 3X optical smartphone offering up to 12X zoom-in effect."

Google self-driving exec says needs proposals to share research


John Krafcik, the head of Google’s project to develop self-driving vehicles, said on Thursday he would have to see specific proposals before entering into a consortium including automakers.
Krafcik appeared with U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, who spoke of working with companies to develop safety guidelines for self-driving vehicles.
Krafcik was asked whether Google would enter into a consortium of automakers that Mark Rosekind of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will announce on Friday, and share technology including intellectual property.
“I’d guess I’d want to see more and understand more. It’s the first I’m hearing about it,” said Krafcik.

Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 budget phablet coming to India
Xiaomi will soon release the Redmi Note 3 budget phablet to the Indian market, the company said in a tweet. However, the company did not reveal the launch date or the price of the smartphone. The successor of Redmi Note, the upcoming Xiaomi phablet was launched in China in November last year.

The Chinese startup also tweet said that it is looking for 100 explorers who will try out the smartphone before it hits the market. Those who are interested in the programme can sign up by January 31.

Redmi Note 3 has a 5.5-inch display with Full HD (1080x1920p) resolution and runs on MIUI 7 software, based on Android Lollipop OS. Powering the device is a 2GHz octa-core Mediatek Helio X10 chipset, which is usually found in mid-range (or more expensive) handsets. The smartphone comes in two variants; 16GB internal storage and 2GB RAM; and 32GB internal storage and 3GB RAM.

For imaging, Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 packs a 13MP camera with phase detection autofocus and two-tone LED flash on the back as well as a 5MP camera for selfies. Connectivity suite of the smartphone consists of the usual: 2G, 3G, 4G, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and dual-sim functionality.

A 4,000mAh battery keeps the smartphone running. Despite the beefy battery, Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 is only 8.65mm thick, but weighs a hefty 164 grams. The new smartphone is an all-metal affair with an iPhone 6-like look, since Xiaomi has done away with the plastic body of the successor.

The 16GB variant has been priced at 899 yuan (approximately Rs 9,350), whereas the 32GB model costs 1,099 yuan (approximately Rs 11,400).

TomTom Spark Music GPS Fitness Watch comes Bluetooth headphones

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TomTom, known for its GPS navigation systems and highly specialised sports watches, has launched a new set of watches in India called Spark Fitness series with prices starting Rs 13,999. The watches are available online on Flipkart, Amazon and Snapdeal.
The Spark Fitness watches comes in four options: TomTom Spark GPS Fitness Watch (priced at Rs 13,999), TomTom Spark Cardio GPS Fitness Watch (priced at Rs 17,999), the TomTom Spark Music GPS Fitness Watch (also Rs 17,999) and TomTom Spark Cardio + Music GPS Fitness Watch, which is priced at Rs 21,999.
TomTom is also selling the Spark Music GPS Fitness Watch bundled with Bluetooth headphones at Rs 21,999 and the Cardio + Music fitness with the Bluetooth headphones at Rs 25,999.
TomTom Spark watches come with 3GB of music storage space and allow users to listen to music while running so they don’t have to carry their smartphones. The watches can connect with a variety of Bluetooth headphones and come pre-loaded with Running Trax, a thirty minute mix of motivating, high energy songs.
TomTom Spark watches with Cardio come with a built-in heart rate monitor that tracks heart rate, and all watches support a multi-sports tracking. The watches have a Gym, Running, Swimming, Cycling, Treadmill mode for training sessions. The Spark series has built-in 24×7 activity trackers as well to count the number of steps taken, calories burnt, sleep during the day, etc.
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The new watches are also water resistant up to 40 metres. TomTom says the battery life is up to 3 weeks if used only for regular activity tracking. However if you use the watch for intense training sessions, it has a battery life of 11 hours, while the GPS Cardio and Music watch has a battery life of up to 5 hours.
“Our internal study revealed that over 75 per cent of people listen to music while they work out and many use a smartphone to do so. We have solved this uncomfortable problem with the integrated music player in the TomTom Spark,” said Peter Frans, co-founder of TomTom International on the launch.

On the growing competition in the fitness wearable space and the rise of more ‘prettier’ fitness bands in recent times, Frans said that unlike others TomTom offers a clear purpose, which helps them stand out.
“I think we’re in a good space with our fitness watch.  It is a product with a clear purpose, it is built for workouts. If you’re going to be active, then this is a good product. Of course, in general what we’re seeing is more sensors are coming into the market built into the devices, dealing with more data and analytics. We’re doing a lot of innovations there, especially in our app,” said the TomTom co-founder.
“For instance our app MySports also links to Apple’s HealthKit, to Android Wear. We also link to Strava as a lot of people who cycle use that app, we link to RunKeeper, etc. We have a completely open approach to that. But what’ve seen is that most people who buy the product, they loved the MySports app too,” he added.
TomTom’s India Country Sales Manager Hitesh Ahuja stressed that the high-prices of the watches had not proved to be a problem for the company in India.
“When we launched our watches in 2015, we were looking at India from a different angle. We thought India is going to be very price-sensitive market, but we’ve been proved wrong. Our top-end watches with heart-rate sensors contributes more than 50 per cent to our sales. It shows the rising trend for fitness gadgets in India,” said Hitesh Ahuja, Country Sales Manager, TomTom India.

Samsung Galaxy S7, S7 edge and S7 edge+ could be announced at the same time

Samsung Galaxy S7, S7 edge and S7 edge+ could be announced at the same time 

Famed tipster Evan Blass has leaked out a bit of information that could be the reason why Samsung did not announce a single smartphone at CES 2016. The leaker has tipped his fans in a tweet stating that the flagship Galaxy S7 models may actually be launched at the same time this year.
The launch of the smartphones is expected to take place in Barcelona at the Mobile World Congress 2016 (MWC). The tipster says that the Samsung Galaxy S7, S7 edge and S7 edge+ are all expected to be launched on the same day, at the same time, as opposed to two separate launches in 2015.
Seems like all three smartphones may come with the same hardware, with the only differentiator being the display size and form factor. The standard S7 is expected to pack in a flat display, while the S7 edge and the edge+ are expected to pack in a dual-edged curved display. According to the rumours so far, all the three variants are expected to sport a Quad HD resolution.
As for the internals of the Samsung Galaxy S7 and its siblings, they are expected to utilize chipsets coming from both Samsung and Qualcomm. The Samsung chipset in question is the Exynos 8890, while the Qualcomm variants would pack in the Snapdragon 820 chipset. It was recently revealed that it is Samsung themselves, who would be building the chipsets for Qualcomm.

Samsung Note 5 dual SIM launching in India, price to start from Rs 51,400


Samsung now reportedly planning to launch a dual SIM version of its latest flagship, the Note 5. According to Economic Times, the Note 5 dual-SIM will be priced at Rs 51,400 for the 32 GB storage variant and Rs 57,400 for 64 GB. The report also claimed that the device will be sold in India from January 17.
The single SIM variant of Note 5 was introduced in India back in September 2015 for Rs 53,900 for the 32 GB version and Rs 59,000 for its 64 GB version. Now the 32 GB version is available for about Rs 47,000.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 5 offers a large 5.7-inch Super-AMOLED display with Quad HD resolution, 4 GB RAM, Android 5.1 Lollipop operating system and is powered by Samsung's 64-bit octa-core Exynos 7420 chipset that has four Cortex-A57 cores clocked at 2.1GHz, and four Cortex-A53 cores clocked at 1.5GHz.
With snazzy metal-and-glass construction, the phablet has a 16 megapixel rear camera with optical image stabilisation feature and F1.9 aperture. It has a 3000 mAh battery and 5 megapixel front camera with F1.9 aperture. Fast charging and wireless charging facility are also available in the smartphone.
For connectivity, the Note 5 offers 4G, NFC, WiFi (a/b/g/n/ac), Bluetooth 4.2 LE, micro USB 2.0 port, and GPS with GLONASS and Beidou. Ofcourse it has the fingerprint sensor.
Meanwhile, Manu Sharma, director-product marketing at Samsung India, told ET, "In the high-end segment, we saw a very strong trend of people using dual-SIMs in our A series smartphones. Consumers want a premium device, which has a local SIM and space for another SIM."
"We will continue doing products that will address an opportunity and we will drive the dual-SIM market in the premium segment, starting with the Note 5," he further added.

iPhone 6S absolutely kills Android phones in Antutu benchmark


There is a saying that iPhone - or rather Apple's products - are never about benchmarks. Those who know about these things a bit thoroughly, and understand smartphone hardware, realise that it is an absurd statement to make. The iPhone, especially in the last three odd years, has become very powerful, even on the paper and in benchmarks. Now, we have a sort of proof of it. In its annual list of most powerful phones, Antutu, a popular benchmarking app, has revealed the score managed by the iPhone 6S. And it is truly phenomenal.
The iPhone 6S, according to Antutu, scores 132620 points. This is nearly 50 per cent more than what the second fastest phone - Huawei Mate 8 - manages. Meizu Pro and the Galaxy Note 5, both of which use Samsung's Exynos 7420 processor, come third and fourth respectively.
The iPhone manages top honours despite packing in a processor that has just two cores and 2GB RAM. In comparison, many of the Android phones not only have processors with eight cores but also 4GB RAM.
However, the numbers are hardly surprising. As we have explained it earlier, the processor used inside the iPhone may have just two cores, it is a very very fast processor because of its internal architecture. Due to its architecture, the A9 processor used in the iPhone 6S is very fast at single-thread computing, something that largely determines performance in day to day use. Even though theoretically processors like the Exynos 7420 and Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 can be used to do a lot of fast computing, if the code can utilise all their cores simultaneously, in reality it is not often possible. Not only there are limitations related to writing apps that can use multi-threaded computing but the processors like the Snapdragon 810 also start throttling and slow down because they heat up very fast when stressed.
In terms of hardware, for Android 2015 has been a terrible year. As we have noted earlier, this has been one area where Apple just totally outgunned Android manufacturers.
However, it seems that the 2016 would be somewhat better. The vibe coming from the Qualcomm's Snapdragon 820 is good. Unlike the Snapdragon 810 that used off-the-shelf cores, the Snapdragon 820 uses custom cores, is seemingly much more efficient, is more powerful in terms of single-thread performance, and probably doesn't heat up like its predecessor. At the same time Samsung too is gearing up to offer something special in its Exynos 8990, which too uses custom cores.

Stream IFC Shows and Share Portlandia Emojis With New Apps For Android and iPhone

Good news, IFC fans! You no longer have to drag your TV along with you on long commutes, to the gym, or anywhere else you want to watch our shows and Comedy Crib clips. With the IFC app, you can now stream Portlandia, Comedy Bang! Bang!, Todd Margaret, and other IFC programming directly to your Android or iOS device. There’s free full-length episodes, original web series, movies and show clips included with the app, plus even more if you have a cable subscription. You can nab the Android version here and the iOS version here.
But if that’s not enough for the diehard Portlandia fan, there’s also the Portlandia emoji keyboard — a virtual keyboard for Android or iOS devices containing a slew of show-themed emojis of Fred and Carrie’s characters, as well as recognizable items like a cacao bar and a certain messenger’s bike. Android users can grab it here, and iOS users can go here.
Want more, you say? How about a free full episode from Portlandia season six! Check in with Fred and Carrie before the sixth season premieres on January 21st at 10/9c right here on or on the IFC app. As the kids say these days, one taste of Portlandia season six will have you like:
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Peach Gets An Unofficial Web And Android Version Called Nectarine

If you haven’t tried Peach out because you don’t have an iOS device, a developer has ginned up something called “Nectarine,” which is an unofficial Android and web version of the service.
It’s limited as far as what you can do and how you can interact, but you can definitely view your stream (in flipped order), like posts and comment on posts. It’s pretty handy if you’re still using the service…ya know, since some folks are already calling it “dead.”
Screen Shot 2016-01-14 at 1.34.25 PM
I’ve found the service to be pretty sticky, with its command-line interface or “Magic Words” an intriguing approach to social messaging.
Peach’s creator, Dom Hoffman, jumped into Product Hunt to give it the “cool” nod, so that’s good. Maybe there’s potential for some fun creations to be made for the service down the road from third party developers. The official Android app is being worked on, the Peach team has said, but this will get you your non-iOS fix for now.

What Remix OS means for Android on PCs

Remix OS is a modified version of Android that can run on practically any PC. It remixes Android into a desktop operating system, complete with applications running in windows, a Start menu, taskbar, desktop, and notification area.
With rumors that Google might merge Chrome OS and Android, and Google's desire to add split-screen multitasking to the Pixel C with future versions of Android, Remix OS might just be a peek at the future of Android.
This operating system was created by Jide Technology, a company formed by a trio of former Google employees. Last year, they showed off a Microsoft Surface Pro-like device running Remix OS. Now, they've made Remix OS available to download, and you can run it yourself on practically any computer or virtual machine.
Remix OS is based on Android-x86, an unofficial open-source project that ports Android to run on standard PC hardware. Remix OS adds a windowing system, turning that operating system into something that you might actually want to run on a PC.
Like typical Linux distributions, you can put Remix OS on a USB drive and boot from it, running entirely from that USB drive and even saving your settings and files to it. So you could take Remix OS everywhere—just like a Linux live system.

More novelty than usable OS

Despite all those pretty screenshots showing Google's Android apps and various Android apps from Google Play, the current code is definitely in a bare-bones, alpha state. The Start menu includes Browser, Calculator, Clock, Contacts, Downloads, File Manager, Google Pinyin Input, MX Player, Music, Settings, and Widgets apps. It should be possible to sideload Google Play Services and Google's own suite of Android apps—like Gmail—just like you could on a cheap Android tablet from China or a custom ROM that doesn't ship with these things. But I didn't even bother trying, as the initial release seems too unstable enough for regular use.
remix os file manager
Jide's Android file manager looks like a capable desktop application.
All that said, the File Manager is a particularly good example of what an Android desktop application could look like. Android already includes support for mice and right-clicking, so keyboard and mouse input both work fairly well.
I personally booted up the ISO image in a 64-bit VirtualBox virtual machine, and it ran fine. That's probably the easiest way to play with it, and you probably just want to play with it rather than running it as a real operating system right now.

A glimpse at Android's future?

What Remix means for Android is unclear. While Chrome OS has taken over the education market, it hasn't seen the same level of success that Android has in mobile. In particular, the selection of Chrome apps is pretty paltry, while development of Android apps is thriving. If Android were Google's laptop-and-desktop operating system, the app gap would cease to be an issue.
But Google's ultimate plans don't really matter. Android's fundamental open-source nature means it can be hacked and modified into a desktop operating system even if Google never wants to go in that direction. The Remix OS proves that.
Even if Android does become more of a desktop operating system, Google probably won't start offering it for download onto any PC. With some work and polish, Jide's Remix OS could become a more compelling alternative for average computer users than traditional desktop Linux. This is a project to keep an eye on.

For comprehensive coverage of the Android ecosystem, visit

All-New 2017 Hyundai Elantra Launches With Apple CarPlay And Android Auto

The 2017 Hyundai Elantra launches this month with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto™. CarPlay is the smarter, safer way to use an iPhone® in the car, taking the things users want to do with their iPhone while driving and putting them right on the car's built-in display, so drivers can stay focused on the road. For Android phone users, the 2017 Elantra is also compatible with Android Auto.
Both smartphone integrations will be available on the 2017 Elantra's seven-inch Display Audio touchscreen system with rearview camera and Hyundai's eight-inch touchscreen navigation system with voice texting, access to music stored on the phone and third-party audio apps.
"By launching our best-selling model, Elantra, with CarPlay and Android Auto support, we are building on our promise to offer more convenience features for today's modern driver at an affordable price point," said Mike O'Brien, vice president of product and corporate planning, Hyundai Motor America. "Also, the new smartphone integrations will help to keep drivers' eyes on the road and hands on the wheel, helping to reduce driver distraction."
CarPlay delivers an instantly recognizable experience to iPhone users that will help reduce driver distraction due to its familiarity. CarPlay support lets drivers make calls, get directions optimized for traffic conditions, listen to music, and access messages. With CarPlay, Siri provides drivers an eyes-free experience by responding to requests through voice commands that are easily and directly accessed through the steering wheel's voice button. Using a Lightning connector, CarPlay works with iPhone 5 and current models running the iOS 7.1 or higher operating systems. Elantra provides an available second USB port for charging because of this wired connection.
Elantra is also compatible with Android Auto for seamless and intuitive operation of the most commonly used smartphone functions including navigation with Google Maps™, streaming audio, voice-controlled search capabilities and over 40 approved smartphone apps. Android Auto is compatible with Android phones running Android 5.0, Lollipop or higher.
The CarPlay roster of supported apps can be found at the following link: Android Auto's app roster can be found here: Apple and Google plan to add more third-party apps in the future, and these will not require any vehicle software updates.
In early 2016, Hyundai will have additional information regarding the availability of CarPlay and Android Auto on other models. This will include information on how existing owners of compatible vehicles with Hyundai's fourth-generation navigation system or Display Audio can update their vehicles with these features. Android Auto is currently available on 2015 and 2016 Sonata models.
Hyundai's Display Audio system features a high-resolution seven-inch color touch-screen display optimized specifically for smartphone integrations and the latest generation of Blue Link.
In addition, Display Audio incorporates Hyundai's latest and most innovative in-vehicle technology by offering a simple, multi-use home screen, HD Radio® capability, mixed AM, FM and SiriusXM presets, along with Pandora-link integration.
Additional Display Audio Features:
  • Integration with Apple's Siri-powered "Eyes Free" mode
    • Functionality allows owners of compatible vehicles to use the voice command button on the steering wheel to ask Siri questions without taking their eyes off the road
    • Siri Eyes Free supports making calls, selecting and playing music, composing and reading back text messages, using Maps and getting directions, reading notifications, finding calendar information, and adding reminders, among other functions
  • Integration with Google's voice actions and predictive Google Now functionality through Android Auto
    • Functionality allows owners of compatible vehicles to find destinations in Google Maps, set appointment reminders, make and receive calls, respond to text messages with intuitive voice commands, and more
  • Pandora integration
  • SiriusXM Satellite Radio with enhanced features
    • Pause, back and play for current station
    • Automatic recording of top six presets
  • SiriusXM Travel Link
    • Sports scores and schedules, stock ticker, movie times, fuel prices and weather/alerts
  • Advanced voice recognition
  • Multi-touch screen that supports swipe and wipe gestures
  • New home screen with multiple functions
Display Audio combines the best of phone-based connectivity technologies with Blue Link. Blue Link provides a full suite of safety and diagnostic features, as well as features that are only possible with an embedded telematics system, such as remote engine start, stolen vehicle recovery and remote door lock/unlock.
Hyundai's eight-inch navigation system offers an enhanced display and home screen that shows map and music information, regardless of the music source. The Blue Link Guidance package (three-month trial included) works with Hyundai's on-board navigation system by providing Destination Search, powered by Google™, as well as POI Web Search and Download to help you get to your destinations via your connected car. Owners can make the most of SiriusXM Travel Link with the ability to send searched locations to their car's navigation system.
Blue Link brings seamless connectivity directly into the car with technology like Remote Start with Climate Control, a Monthly Vehicle Health Report, Remote Door Lock/Unlock and Stolen Vehicle Recovery. Remote features can be accessed via Hyundai's smartphone app or Web portal. Blue Link also features maintenance alerts and safety features, such as Automatic Collision Notification and SOS. The next-generation Blue Link system uses a 4G connection. The Blue Link Connected Care package includes safety and diagnostic features and is standard for one year on equipped models.
Hyundai Motor America, headquartered in Fountain Valley, Calif., is a subsidiary of Hyundai Motor Co. of Korea. Hyundai vehicles are distributed throughout the United States by Hyundai Motor America and are sold and serviced through more than 830 dealerships nationwide. All Hyundai vehicles sold in the U.S. are covered by the Hyundai Assurance program, which includes the 5-year/60,000-mile fully transferable new vehicle limited warranty, Hyundai's 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain limited warranty and five years of complimentary Roadside Assistance. Hyundai Blue Link Connected Care provides owners of Hyundai models equipped with the Blue Link telematics system with proactive safety and car care services complimentary for one year with enrollment. These services include Automatic Collision Notification, Enhanced Roadside Assistance, Vehicle Diagnostic Alert, Monthly Vehicle Health Report and In-Vehicle Service Scheduling.

Android banking malware SlemBunk is part of a well-organized campaign

150817 google marshmallow 03

An Android Trojan that targets mobile banking users has evolved into a sophisticated, persistent and hard-to-detect threat, suggesting that it is part of a well-organized attack campaign.
Researchers from security firm FireEye first documented the Trojan in December and named it SlemBunk. Once installed, it starts monitoring the processes running on the device and when it detects that a mobile banking app is launched, it displays a fake user interface on top of it to trick users into inputting their credentials.
The Trojan can spoof the user interfaces of apps from at least 31 banks from across the world and two mobile payment service providers.
The first variants of SlemBunk were distributed as rogue copies of legitimate apps through various third-party websites, but not Google Play. This meant that devices configured to only install apps from Google Play were not affected.
The latest versions, however, are distributed through drive-by download techniques, predominantly when visiting porn websites. Device owners are alerted that in order to view the videos on the site they need to update their Flash Player and an APK (Android application package) is offered for download.
"Unwary users, who are more eager to see the video than to consider what this app is really about, would readily accept what the website is saying, and happily install the app that claims to be a Flash update," the FireEye researchers said in a blog post Wednesday.
This would still require users to enable the installation of apps from unknown sources, which is disabled by default on Android devices.
The attack is more complicated than it appears at first glance, because the APK downloaded during this first stage does not contain any malicious functionality, making it hard for antivirus apps and even Android's built-in app scanner to detect it.
This "dropper" app is using a packing technique to hide some functions that generate code on the fly and save it to another temporary APK in the device's storage. This second APK is loaded into memory dynamically by the first app and is then deleted from the file system. It too is not explicitly malicious, but it contains the routine that downloads the final, malicious payload.
The downloader app contacts a command-and-control server and receives the link for the actual SlemBunk APK and also its MD5 signature. The signature is used to verify that the downloaded file has not been tampered with or corrupted during transmission.
This chained attack, the first two steps of which are not directly malicious, is intended to make the attack more persistent, harder to detect and difficult to analyze, the FireEye researchers said. "Even if the malicious action of the SlemBunk payload were detected and removed, the more surreptitious downloader could periodically attempt to re-download the payload to the device."
The command-and-control infrastructure is also well thought out, using separate domain names for the payloads and the configuration data and administration panel.
"The use of a drive-by download to distribute the SlemBunk payload and the details of the CnC server communication suggest that this campaign is well-organized and continuing to evolve," the FireEye researchers said.

For comprehensive coverage of the Android ecosystem, visit

The only small-screened Android phone worth buying is coming to the US

If you long for the days of 2011, when 5.3-inch smartphones were enormous outliers rather than the norm, Sony has some news that may interest you: its flagship Xperia Z5 smartphone and its smaller-but-still-high-end sibling the Xperia Z5 Compact are coming to the US on February 7, 2016.
As usual, Sony's small footprint in the US smartphone market means that it doesn't have any distribution deals with major carriers. You won't be able to buy these phones on an installment plan from AT&T or T-Mobile—you'll have to get them at Amazon, Best Buy, B&H, or another retailer, and you'll pay the full unlocked price of $599.99 for the Z5 or $499.99 for the Z5 Compact. Both phones support GSM networks, so Verizon and Sprint customers need not apply.
The Z5 looks like a competent but unexceptional flagship smartphone. It has a 5.3-inch 1080p IPS display, a Snapdragon 810 SoC, 3GB of RAM, 32GB of storage, a microSD card slot, a 23MP rear camera, a 5MP front camera, and a 2,900 mAh battery that Sony says is good for "up to two days" on a charge. Like most of Sony's recent phones, it's also dust- and waterproof.
The 4.6-inch Z5 Compact is the more compelling phone, if solely because the only small-screened phones you can buy in 2016 are either old or cheap or both. Its IPS display is 720p instead of 1080p and it has 2GB of RAM instead of 3GB, but otherwise it manages to fit in all the most important features of its larger counterpart: the Snapdragon 810 SoC, the 32GB of internal storage expandable via microSD, the 23MP rear camera and 5MP front camera, the dust- and waterproofing, and an "up to" two-day battery (2,700 mAh in this case).
Both phones ship with Android 5.1.1 installed, and Sony has committed to providing Marshmallow updates for both handsets. Sony says it's providing review units to US press this year, something it doesn't always do—when it does, we plan to take a closer look at the Z5 Compact in particular.

How to turn your Android phone and Windows 10 PC into a dynamic duo with Cortana

One of the best features of Windows 10 is its integration with Cortana, Microsoft's personal digital assistant. Cortana is pretty powerful on its own, but until recently you needed a Windows 10 mobile device to experience the service's full power. That's changing, however, with Microsoft adding new features to Cortana for Android to help your Google-licious phone fit into a Windows 10 world.
Here are three useful Cortana features that turn your Android phone and PC into a powerful combo.
Note: Cortana for iOS was released in December, but does not have the new call and text features that are currently on Android. We will update this post should that situation change.

Missed-call alerts

Microsoft recently added the ability for Cortana for Android users to get missed-call notifications on their PC—or at least I only recently discovered it.
If your phone's in the other room while you're in front of your Windows 10 PC, Cortana will alert you to missed calls.

Text Messages

Send a text from Windows 10 with Cortana on your Android device.
Of course, knowing about missed calls isn't much use if you can't do anything about them. But Cortana for Android has the ability to send text messages from your PC without you ever touching your handset.(Windows 10 mobile devices have a similar feature.)
Alternatively, you can just tell Cortana on your PC, using voice or the keyboard, to "Send a text." That lets you initiate a text message, whether you've just missed a call or not. Similar to Google Now, you can specify the recipient, such as "Send a text to Lisa" or "Send a text to my wife."
The caveat is that you can only send texts and get missed call alerts from people in your contacts list.


Cortana's ability to set reminders is one of my favorite features and is available on Android and iOS versions of Cortana. This feature isn't particularly original since you can set reminders on your phone any number of ways. What I like about Cortana is that the reminders pop-up on my Windows 10 PC as part of the native interface. I also have the ability to snooze them if I need a few minutes (or hours) before I can get to them.
In my tests, reminders worked flawlessly and the texting feature was very reliable. The ability to see missed call notifications, however, was hit-or-miss. It's early days for Cortana on Android so this will probably get better over time.
Remember that even if you do employ Cortana for Android that doesn't mean you have to give up on Google Now. I use both interchangeably depending on which personal assistant is best suited to a particular task.

For comprehensive coverage of the Android ecosystem, visit

Android Auto coming to 40 car models this year

Android Auto in a Ford car 

Google is positive about the road ahead for Android Auto, saying it will come to 40 car models and support more apps this year.
Android Auto brings messaging, mapping, entertainment, media playback and other apps to cars, but via a smartphone. The apps run on an Android smartphone, which plugs into an in-car display via a USB port.
Hyundai was first to bring Android Auto to its dashboard, and today ten car models in a few countries have Android Auto. The 40 car models launching this year will give Android Auto a “global” reach, said Daniel Holle, product manager for Android Auto at Google during the Ubiquity Developer Summit in San Francisco this week.
One obvious use for Android Auto is Google Maps, which will provide in-car navigation. Users can also answer calls, listen to music, set up reminders, get the latest news, receive notifications, or use applications like Google Hangout.
Android Auto relies heavily on voice-activated features to ensure driver safety. Notifications received can be narrated, and drivers can respond by speaking back. Like Apple’s Siri, the voice-activated Google Now provides the latest news, weather and other relevant information.
Currently Android Auto has about 500 applications. Updates to Android Auto this year will allow playback of more media file types, Holle said.
Car makers will also be able to develop apps for specific car models. The apps will be updated over the air so drivers don’t have to go back to dealerships.
Android Auto competes with Apple’s CarPlay, which provides a similar way to use the iPhone in a car. About 100 car models in the market or coming soon support CarPlay.
All the major auto makers support Android Auto except Toyota, which is also shunning Carplay.

'Homefront: The Revolution' latest update: Release date for PS4, Xbox One and PC officially announced


The upcoming open-world first-person shooter video game, "Homefront: The Revolution," has been through a lot of complications in the past few months, with some fans speculating that the issues may be getting the better of it. The release date for the title therefore has become quite the hot topic for fans who have been wondering when the it would finally come out.
Just a few days ago, there were some leaks regarding the game release date which were based on images of the game reservations cards printed for Target. The images show that the game would be released on May 17, 2016, clearly printed on the retailer's pre-order card.
True enough, just about a week later, Deep Silver and Dambuster Studios have now announced that the game is in fact going to be launched on the aforementioned date for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and for Microsoft Windows.

Along with the official release date announcement, the game's developer and its publisher have also revealed that they will be launching the upcoming title's closed beta exclusively for Xbox One users starting next month.
For those who are interested to participate, they just need to have an Xbox One Beta token which will be given out by Deep Silver over the next few weeks. To be entitled to the tokens, players just have to register on the game's official website in order to stay notified on when the giveaway events will be taking place.
The upcoming game will be taking place in 2029 exactly four years after the events of the original occupation by the Korean forces in the United States. Players will be taking the role of the game's protagonist, Ethan Brady, as he leads a small resistance movement against the occupying army in the city of Philadelphia.
The game's developers have also expressly announced that despite the game being a sequel to the original "Homefront" game, they mentioned that everything in the brand new sequel is "all new". There will be a single player campaign included in the game upon launch ,along with a four-player online cooperative mode.

Bayonetta 2 Re-Releasing as a Standalone Game on Wii U

Bayonetta 2 is being re-released on Wii U, this time as a standalone game, Nintendo of America announced today.

The game will be available for $30 beginning on February 19. It's already available on its own on Nintendo's eShop for $50. However, the only physical version--released in October 2014--came packaged with a copy of the first Bayonetta (previously an Xbox 360 and PS3-only game).
This physical bundle has since become difficult to find without resorting to places like eBay, where it routinely sells for more than the original retail price. We've followed up with Nintendo to see if it has any plans to bring back the bundle to retail and will report back with any details we receive.
Bayonetta 2 was extremely well received in GameSpot's review, which awarded it a 10/10.
Bayonetta the character will soon be popping up in Super Smash Bros. as the game's final DLC character. She's due out in February, as is Fire Emblem's Corrin.