US government spying on people’s cell phones using fake signal towers
By Dima Aryeh
We constantly hear about how our personal info isn’t safe, whether it would be from hackers or our own government. And it’s not like the government isn’t already knee deep in controversy with the NSA debacle still coming back into the news frequently. However, in more bad luck for our government, additional news has come out about a new spying technique that they use on us innocent folk.
This new method uses fake cell towers some call “dirtboxes” attached to planes. When these planes fly overhead, the dirtboxes get the phones of everyone around to connect to them and deposit identifying information and location. Location can be accurate enough to know what room someone is in inside of a building. This is used to find fugitives and criminals without having to go through the carrier, which is reportedly slow and inefficient. It cuts out the middle man entirely.
The problem isn’t that this information is being taken, but what’s being done with it. We don’t know of the info taken from the innocent people is deleted or stored or what this data is used for. This is important information that can be used to know where you are at all times without the help or resistance of carriers. And worst of all, judges seem to be pretty supportive of these methods.
While not too much is known about this method, it is said that it can also intercept text messages and even photographs being sent, which is another huge security risk which may have absolutely no oversight. And the government being irresponsible with such data is the last thing people need. So what do you think of this method of finding criminals? Is it overly invasive, or is it just part of the legal process? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!
Android customization – how to connect a USB flash drive to your Android device
Last week on our Android customization series, we rounded out a string of Tasker and Zooper Widget tutorials that made it possible to rock your Homescreen with custom widgets. With the software customizations we’ve been working with, perhaps it is time to look at something a little more physical, like connecting a USB flash drive to your Android device.
Flash drives spent a good amount of time as the number one way to take your files with you wherever you needed to go. As some of that has changed with Android devices and cloud storage, many of us still have those USB flash drives kicking around looking for a good use.
Let us take a good look at connecting a USB flash drive to your Android device, but fair warning, you’ll need to purchase a new cable to proceed.
Before we get started
As mentioned, connecting a USB flash drive to your Android device will more often than not require a special cable called an USB On-The-Go or OTG cable. I will be using a simple $1.47 OTG cable from Monoprice today, but you may be more comfortable looking at this $1.09 cable from Amazon.
Beyond the basic OTG cable, you can step it up to a powered Y-splitter OTG cable. Be aware that this is not intended to charge your device, rather it is to power your connected USB peripheral. You shouldn’t need this for your basic USB flash drive, but it is highly recommended if you are attempting to connect a full external hard drive or anything that will draw more than 500mA of power.
If you do not already have a flash drive or ten kicking around, you may consider one of the OTG capable USB flash drives or card readers already on the market. Equipped with a micro USB connector, these unit will attach directly to your Android device.
There are also some folks over on Kickstarter that have taken the OTG Flash drive all-in-one approach to the next level, creating a microSD card reader that can plug into either your computer or Android device, plus much more. Feel free to head on over to Kickstarter to learn more about the project, then, if it appears slightly beyond your drone flying, GoPro packing, smart TV flash drive needs, maybe this simpler USB OTG microSD card reader will better suit your needs.
Connecting a USB flash drive to you Android device
This is the easy part. For best results, plug your USB flash drive into your USB OTG cable first, then plug the OTG cable into the micro USB port on your device.
With the right cable, connecting a flash drive to your Android device is a simple thing, but what do you do now?
Apps that can read USB flash drives
Once your USB flash drive is connected to your Android device, you’ll need to use specific apps to be able to access the data. There are a number of options here, of which I will cover just two.
ES File Explorer
In addition to being one of the few apps that can take advantage of your installed microSD card on device, ES File Explorer can also read and write to your connected USB flash drive. Best of all, no root required.
With your USB flash drive connected, open up ES File Explorer, you will be greeted with a permissions screen. Click OK to allow ES File Explorer to access your USB flash drive.
Now, swipe in from the left hand side to access the side menu. Open the Local section and choose your USB flash drive, mine was named “USB1002″ but this is not the first time I’ve connected it.
To eject, simply close out of ES File Explorer then unplug. If your USB flash drive is equipped with an indicator light, make sure that it is not flashing before you unplug.
Special note: Although I’ve used ES File Explorer today, you should find that most file explorer apps will perform the same task in their own way. Check out our list of favorite file explorer apps for suggestions.
Nexus Photo Viewer and Nexus Media Importer
Don’t let the names fool you, these apps should work on any USB Host enabled Android 4.0+ Android device.
Nexus Photo Viewer is a simplified free version of Nexus Media Importer. Do try out Nexus Photo Viewer before spending the $4 on Nexus Media Importer. Both apps should connect to the media on your OTG cable connected USB flash drive.
As above, simply connect your USB flash drive to your OTG cable, then plug the OTG cable into your Android device. These apps will act on the USB attached intent and will immediately ask if you would like to connect. Click OK to proceed.
Once in either Nexus Media Importer or Nexus Photo Viewer, you will be able to view your stored content, with extra features such as a photo slide show available in the paid version. There is also a basic file explorer too, so you will be able to transfer files to and from your USB flash drive.
Disconnecting from Nexus Photo Viewer and Nexus Media Importer …read more
Source:: android authority
Addictive connect-the-dots puzzler, TwoDots, enters the Play Store
So we’ve all played Dots, right? It’s a mega-addicting puzzle game where the premise is simple: connect the dots. If you’re looking for the next big thing to come from Playdots, Inc., it’s here. TwoDots has just launched in the Google Play Store after a brief time as an iOS exclusive, and it’s living up to the expectations the first game set.
TwoDots’ premise is simple. You’re still connecting dots, but the developers have added some extras this time around. You can now sink anchors, use bombs, and you can even break ice or fight fire. The game has slightly strayed away from the simple goal of Dots by adding more variety to each level. They’ve also removed the clock this time around, so there’s no need to freak out over a time limit.
The game is free, and you can download it from the Play Store now. It does feature a small amount of in-app-purchases, though it’s still very playable without them.
Source:: android authority
Nexus 4 Lollipop update coming ‘soon’
By Andrew Grush
While Nexus 7 (2012,2013 WiFi models), Nexus 10 and Nexus 5 owners have seen both OTA and factory images of Android 5.0 Lollipop arrive, the Nexus 4 has so far been left out in the dark. The good news is that the latest sweet treat is coming soon for owners of the LG Nexus 4, at least that’s the word from Google’s Sascha Prüter.
On Google+, Prüter first teased that the Lollipop LRX21T was “Locked and loaded!” After a bit of poking and prodding by various G+ users (including Artem Russakovskii), it was revealed that he was referring to the Nexus 4’s upcoming Lollipop update.
No exact timeframe has is given, with Prüter only saying it will come soon, “not sure when exactly but shouldn’t be too long. Staging the factory images always takes some time.” So don’t be sad, Nexus 4, your time to shine again is almost here! We’ll be sure to update our readers as soon as we learn more.
Source:: android authority
My first 30 days with the Moto 360
By Andrew Grush
On October 8th I greedily snatched a package out of the FedEx guy’s hands, and quickly started unboxing my Moto 360 right there in the doorway, turning it on for the very first time. While excited for a new toy to play with, I’ll be honest: I wasn’t for sure what to expect from the device.
Sure, I’d seen some reviews and knew a good deal about the AW platform, but would I really enjoy wearing a watch again after years of ditching a wearable timepiece in favor of a cellphone? Would the features be enough to lure me in, or would it be more a novelty piece to show off to friends? I immediately shared my first impressions of the device via our forums, though I admitted I was still unsure of certain aspects.
Would I really enjoy wearing a watch again after all these years?
Now that more than a month has passed, the honeymoon phase is over and I can honestly tell you a bit about how the Moto 360 does (or doesn’t) fit in my life, and whether I’d recommend that others pick one up.
Obviously everyone is different, and so other users of the Moto 360 may have a very different opinion than mine. Without further ado, let’s jump in and take a look at both at the watch and the platform.
Aesthetics and display
When I first started thinking about picking up an Android Wear device to play with, I almost immediately was drawn to the circular form factor. While square works well enough, there’s just something about circular watches that comes off as classic and a bit more refined.
I had considered waiting off for the G Watch R, which would have a more energy efficient processor and better battery life. Ultimately though, I liked the way the 360 looked and felt it was worth ignoring some potential quirks in order to experience it. Now that I’ve had it for a month, I can say I still love the way the watch looks, and I get compliments about it on a fairly regular basis.
Now that I’ve had it for a month, I can say I still love the way the watch looks
The round shape and curves are clean, and the single button is unobtrusive and semi-useful on occasion. The display is equally easy to read, always bright enough even when outdoors. I also find that the “flat tire”on the bottom of the display doesn’t really bother me as much as I thought it would, though I admit I can’t use a white watchface — only black, as it better hides the flat tire look.
Another thing I really like about the Moto 360 is that it is lightweight, and while big, isn’t so massive that I feel awkward. Unfortunately, my love doesn’t extend to the leather strap — at least when it comes to looks.
I own the silver/stone model and find that the ‘stone’ strap is very comfortable to wear, but it looks pretty cheap. I’ve had several folks who told me they thought it was some kind of faux leather. Additionally, the strap seems to scuff easily, at least for me that’s been the case. It’s for that reason I’m considering getting a new strap, either an official Moto 360 one or perhaps a 3rd party choice (which Motorola recommends against). I do prefer leather over metal when it comes to comfort, though.
Battery life and charging
In addition to the flat tire, the Moto 360 has often come under fire for its battery life. I will admit that early on, I totally agreed that battery life was poor. A few software updates later, and things are much better.
While it’s true that Snapdragon 400-based alternatives still do better, I have found that I average 16 to 18 hours of life with the ambient screen on (screen always on). With the screen off when not in use, it lasts about 27 to 29 hours. For someone who almost always is near and charger and takes off his watch every night for comfort reasons, I find that the Moto 360’s battery life is good enough.
While it’s true that Snapdragon 400-based alternatives still do better, I have found that I average 16 to 18 hours of life with the ambient screen on
If I was camping or in another situation without power for extended periods of time (like 2+ days)? Things might get a bit more dicey, though you could always use a power pack and hook up the Moto 360’s cradle to it, since the cradle works with any standard microUSB cable. For now, it’s not a situation I’ve had to deal with, but the day could come.
As for charging? It’s easy. You simply place the watch in its cradle and it starts charging, no wires and no need to plug things in. On the downside, you’ll need to invest in additional cradles (or any QI charger will do) if you are the kind of person who wants to be able to charge in your car, office and other places without having to drag around your main cradle.
Hardware — is it up for the job?
I’m not going to talk about specs here, other than to point out the watch uses an older Texas Instruments processor, instead of more common choices like a Qualcomm Snapdragon 400. The reason I’m not focusing on hardware is that Android Wear is about performance and user experience, not specs.
Still, you have to wonder, are the Moto 360’s “less advanced” internals up for the job? The answer is yes. At least most of the time. Early on I read reviews and other reports about occasional stuttering, freezing and dropped signal issues with the Moto 360. In the first few days I ran into a few other these problems, but software updates made nearly all these issues go away. That is, except dropped …read more
Source:: android authority
AT&T updating Samsung Galaxy S 4 to KitKat 4.4.4
By Dima Aryeh
If you’re a Samsung Galaxy S 4 user on AT&T, then you’re in luck. The device is getting a small update from Android 4.4.2 to Android 4.4.4, which is the latest Android version out there aside from the just released Lollipop. With this update come all the bug fixes and security updates that Google included in the new build, which are plentiful.
In the classic carrier style, a few new apps have been added to the device. Keeper, Mail, Live, Uber, Remote Support, and Device Help will now be installed on your Galaxy S 4. They’re already on newer AT&T devices and can be disabled if you wish, so it’s not a big deal. Other than that and the inclusion of Knox 2.0, you shouldn’t notice any major differences in how the software works.
If you want to download the update, head to Settings > About device > Software update and check for new updates. Do this over WiFi so you don’t waste data, as this update is between 392 and 488 megabytes.
Cricket Wireless introduces a ton of deals for the holidays
The holidays are approaching fast, and that means the holiday deals are too. Cricket Wireless has just released their holiday promotions, and there are quite a few of them.
The deals start November 14th (tomorrow) and go through January 8th. Let’s take a look at some of the savings they’re offering.
- HTC Desire 510 – Free after $75 mail-in rebate (standard pricing $149.99)
- Motorola Moto G – $24.99 after $75 mail-in rebate (standard pricing $149.99)
- ZTE Sonata 4G – $39.99 (standard pricing $79.99)
- Motorola Moto E – $49.88
- LG Optimus L70 – $59.99 (standard pricing $99.99)
- Samsung Galaxy Express – $99.88
- ZTE Grand X – $99.99 after $50 mail-in rebate (standard pricing $149.99)
Not only is the company offering all of these discounted phones, they’re also offering to give T-Mobile, Metro PCS, Sprint, Boost Mobile, Virgin Mobile, and Cincinnati Bell customers a $100 bill credit if they switch over to Cricket. You can receive the bill credit for every line switched over to Cricket, and it’s only offered through December 31st.
Between November 14th and January 8th, they’re also offering three months of Cricket International for free to Smart and Pro Plan customers. Just sign up within the given dates, and Cricket will give you a $5 bill credit on your next three phone bills. Additionally, customers who use Cricket International Roaming Mexico plans will be able to make and receive calls and texts to and from Mexico for a flat rate of $10.
Are you a Cricket Rewards member? Do you pay your bill on time? If so, after 12 months of on-time payments, Cricket will give you a $50 credit every year to use towards a new phone. So essentially, you can get a decent phone for free, all because you paid your bill on time. Not bad! Are you going to take advantage of any of these deals?
Source:: android authority
OnePlus team releases guide for switching from iPhone to OnePlus One
By Eric McBride
Android and IOS are two very different operating systems that offer different ways of accomplishing similar things, which can naturally make it confusing for someone that has become accustom to using a specific OS. The OnePlus team apparently realizes that, and in an effort to make the transition from “IOS flagship to flagship killer” as painless as possible, the team has released a guide to help new OnePlus One owners get the hang of things.
The guide helps previous IOS users get their contacts synced to the CyanogenMod powered device, shows how to get their music from iTunes to Google Play, how they can view their photos, sync email accounts, where to find apps, how to use widgets, and how to customize Android and the OnePlus One in general.
As someone that has often watched people make the switch from IOS to Android (and vice versa), I can certainly appreciate how this guide could be a big help to a lot of people. If you came from IOS and managed to get your hands on a One Plus One (or if you’re coming from IOS to Android in general) , you can view the entire guide by visiting the source link below.
Source:: android authority
ASUS ZenWatch hits Google Play, listed as “coming soon”
The time has come, ladies and gentlemen. Well, almost. The ASUS ZenWatch has just been added to the Google Play Store, but you can’t buy it yet. ASUS’ first attempt at an Android Wear device was originally scheduled to be available in the United States come November 9th. It’s a few days past that date, but quantities are still pretty limited. If you haven’t gotten your hands on one just yet, you should be able to relatively soon.
The watch’s status is currently listed as “coming soon” in the Play store, but we’re assuming the watch will be available sooner rather than later. That said, the Sony SW3 was listed in the Play store for quite a while before units finally came in stock.
In addition to bringing fairly solid design aesthetics, the ZenWatch also has a few special extras included in the mix:
- ASUS ZenUI integration: The watch will “seamlessly integrate with ZenUI on ASUS smartphones”, letting users utilize wearable versions of ASUS apps like What’s Next and Do It Later.
- ASUS advanced applications: ASUS is also launching a companion app along with the watch. The app will allow you to use functions called Watch Unlock, Cover to Mute, Tap Tap, and Find My Phone. Remote Camera and Presentation Control can also be used in conjunction with the ASUS Remote Camera and ASUS Remote Link on your smartphone.
- ASUS wellness manager: The ZenWatch will collect your fitness activity as well. It can track your heart rate, step count, and relaxation levels to help you stay on top of your wellness progress.
The ZenWatch is listed in the store with a $199 price point, and should be available any day now. Are you going to pick up one of these bad boys?
Source:: android authority
Asus ZenWatch listed as coming soon on Google Play
Coming in at exactly $199, the Asus ZenWatch is very similar to other Android Wear devices, sporting a 1.63-inch AMOLED display, 1.2GHz Snapdragon 400, 512MB of RAM, a 1.4Wh battery and IP55 water resistance. As far as design goes, the ZenWatch looks something like the rectangle equivalent of the Moto 360, meaning that it’s made out of premium materials with a beautiful, elegant look that is sure to turn heads. Despite not using a fancy round display, it’s definitely one of the top contenders for best-looking smartwatch ever made.
When exactly the Asus ZenWatch will become available is anyone’s guess, but if past “coming soon” listings are any indication, it won’t be more than a couple weeks at the most. What do you think of the Asus ZenWatch and how it stacks up to the competition?