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This is how Google finds Android malware

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Google has outlined its process for finding malware via the Android Developers blog. In the post, Google Software Engineer Megan Ruthven discusses Android’s Verify Apps safety protocol — used to determine potentially harmful apps installed on a device — and what happens when a device stop communicating with it.

Verify Apps is a security function that routinely scans apps downloaded from the Play Store to ensure that they are safe but Ms Ruthven notes that sometimes phones cease interacting with it, perhaps through something as innocuous as buying a new handset.

When a device stops communicating with Verify Apps, it is considered Dead or Insecure (DOI). An app which has a “high enough percentage of DOI devices downloading it,” is then said to be a DOI app. Conversely, if a device continues to check in with Verify Apps following an app download, it becomes known as “retained.”

See also:

January security patch provides fixes for 50 vulnerabilities

2 weeks ago

Android gives apps a DOI score based on the number of number of devices that downloaded the app, the number of retained devices that downloaded the app and the probability of a device downloading any app that will be retained, to determine whether or not an app could pose a threat. Here’s the formula for how the Android security team calculates this:

N = Number of devices that downloaded the app.
x = Number of retained devices that downloaded the app.
p = Probability of a device downloading any app will be retained.
Z = DOI score

This is how Google finds Android malware

If the DOI score falls below “-3.7,” it indicates that a significant number of phones and/or tablets stopped checking with Verify Apps after installing the app in question. Google then combines the score with “other information” to ascertain whether it is indeed harmful, before taking action such as removing existing or preventing future installs.

Ms Ruthven notes that the implementation of this security process has contributed to the discovery of apps containing malware such as Hummingbad, Ghost Push, and Gooligan.

ZTE’s dual-camera Blade V8 Pro officially goes on sale for $230

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At CES 2017, we got a quick hands-on look at the ZTE Blade V8 Pro. Today, the phone officially goes on sale at the company’s web site for the unlocked price of $229.99.

See also:

ZTE Blade V8 Pro hands-on

2 weeks ago

As we mentioned in our previous look at the Blade V8 Pro, the biggest feature for this handset is its dual 13MP rear cameras, with one of them dedicated to recording depth information for images. This is supposed to give you a way to put the object of your photo in sharp focus, while also blurring the background slightly.

For some reason, ZTE will install Android 6.0 Marshmallow on this new Blade V8 Pro, rather than a version of Android Nougat, so that could be a deal breaker for some folks. The other hardware specs include a 5.5-inch 1080p display, an octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 processor, 3GB of RAM and 32GB of on-board storage, with a microSD card slot to add up to 128GB of extra storage. It will also have a 3,140mAh battery that supports Quick Charge 2.0, dual SIM support, and a fingerprint sensor embedded in the phone’s home button.

Are you interested in getting the ZTE Blade V8 Pro with its dual rear camera feature? Let us know in the comments.

Buy now from ZTE

Microsoft’s Cortana soon coming to your Android lock screen

Digital assistants are getting more and more popular these days. There are quite a few of them available including Google’s Assistant, Amazon’s Alexa as well as Microsoft’s Cortana. As Windows smartphones aren’t really in high demand, Microsoft brought its digital assistant to Android at the end of 2015 in hopes of expanding its user base.

According to a report from MSPoweruser, Microsoft is now trying to make it a lot easier for Android users to access Cortana on their devices. The digital assistant, which received a fresh new look about a month ago, will apparently soon be accessible from your smartphone’s lock screen. By swiping either left or right, you’ll be able to launch Cortana and ask her to help you out with various tasks.

See also:

Google Assistant update adds ability to take screenshots

1 week ago

Microsoft’s digital assistant is capable of opening apps, setting alarms, browsing the web, making calls, sending emails, and more based on your voice commands.

Microsoft is currently testing to see how well the new feature works with the help of users who have signed up for the Cortana beta testing program. Therefore, it is expected that the digital assistant might come to your lock screen soon, although no specific dates have been mentioned so far.

If you like Microsoft’s Cortana and would like to try out the new feature before the majority of users, you’ll be happy to hear that you can still sign up for the testing program. Click the button below if you’re interested.

Become a tester

Best Google Pixel Accessories

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Although the Pixel and Pixel XL have been out on the market for a little while now, Google’s flagship family remains one of the best smartphone choices on the market right now. Unlike the Nexus family before it, the Pixel line not only appeals to techies but also to more casual users as well, as evidenced by the continued struggle to keep up with demand over at Verizon. There’s a lot to like about the Pixel and Pixel XL, including beautiful (though clearly iPhone-inspired) designs, fast internals, and stock Android with a few extras including the super powerful Google Assistant.

If you are the proud owner of the Pixel or Pixel XL, congratulations! Now it’s time to make a great thing even better by pairing it with the right accessories. Some of these add-ons are no brainers, like the new Daydream View VR headset and a quality case. What other accessories do we recommend? Keep reading to find out.

See also:

Google Pixel XL review: a Pixel’s perspective

October 27, 2016

Official cases

Best Google Pixel Accessories

One of the most obvious Pixel and Pixel XL accessories would be an official case, and Google has quite a few options here. First up is the clear case. As the name suggests, the transparent case lets you show off the design of your phone, and the ultra thin case barely adds any bulk or thickness to the device. There are precise cutouts for power button, volume rocker, speaker, charging port, camera, and fingerprint scanner. The clear case is priced at $30.

Get the Clear case for the Pixel
Buy the Clear case for the Pixel XL

The next case offers a little more protection, and is built with three protective materials, including a silicon exterior that offers grip and shock absorption, a polycarbonate core that adds support, and finally, a premium microfiber interior. The buttons are covered, and the case is available in a slew of color options, including pink, blue, green, and black. This case is priced at $35.

Buy the Pixel phone case
Buy the Pixel XL phone case

Finally, you have the Live case, that lets you create your own case design, from a slew of choices ranging from artwork, your own photos or others, or even maps of places of your choice. Every case will get a downloadable live wallpaper that complements it. As far as the protection goes, this case is at the same level as the clear case above. The Live cases are priced at $40.

Get a Live case for the Pixel or Pixel XL

Interested in more case options? Check out our official Pixel and Pixel XL case roundup.


Daydream View

Best Google Pixel Accessories

Daydream represents a big leap forward for Google’s VR vision, which first began humbly with Google Cardboard. The Google Daydream View is an official Google-made VR headset that is built with the Pixel and Pixel XL in mind. The headset is made of a fabric material that is super comfortable to wear and once connected you are immersed in a special UI that includes its own versions of Google Play, YouTube and more. The Daydream View also includes a special motion controller allowing you to become more deeply immersed in your VR world.

For more details on the Daydream View be sure to check out our full review.

Buy now from Google Store

Google Pixel Desktop Charging Dock

Best Google Pixel Accessories

Looking for an attractive and easy to use cradle for your Pixel or Pixel XL? The Encased Google Pixel desktop charging dock could be exactly what you’re looking for. With a built-in Type-C compatible port for charging, this nice dock keeps your phone charging while you are at your desk or at your beside table while you’re asleep. The design also makes it easy to still use your phone for things like video chatting, using Google Assistant, navigating through your music apps, and more. The dock not only charges your phone but includes a cable that works with syncing to your computer as well, which is a nice little extra.

At a hair over $26, this accessory is a bit more than the cost of a charger, but it could be perfect for those that are looking for a better way to prop up and display their phone instead of laying it on its back or display.

Get it on Amazon

Chromecast

Best Google Pixel Accessories

If you’re looking for a simple streaming device that works flawless with your Pixel or Pixel XL, there are no better options than the Chromecast. With support for all your favorite apps from Spotify to Netflix and even a growing selection of games, the Chromecast is a great buy that starts at only $35. With the Chromecast, your phone acts as the remote, with Google’s casting technology quickly passing things over from your phone to your TV.

If you are looking for full 4K support there’s also the new Chromecast Ultra. At $70, the Ultra is a great bit more expensive, but the added benefit of 4K could make it worth it for some buyers.

Buy the Chromecast
Buy the Chromecast Ultra

Dual Port USB Type-C Rapid Wall Charger

Best Google Pixel Accessories

While your Pixel or Pixel XL obviously came with a charger in the box, the reality is that many of us have multiple mobile devices these days so having extra ports comes in handy. Google’s official Type-C rapid charger might not be the cheapest option on the market, but it’s designed to quick charge the Pixel (as well as earlier Nexus devices) with support for up to 15W on a single port. There’s also a 1.8-meter long cable that gives you plenty of flexibility when it comes to ensuring you can reach the cable to plug in your phone.

Buy from Google Store

Anker PowerCore+ 20100 mAh

Best Google Pixel Accessories

While the Pixel and Pixel XL have pretty solid battery life, a power bank can always come in handy and Anker is one of the best bets when it comes to power bank brands. The Anker PowerCore+ packs 20100 mAh and is comes in at $50.99 on Amazon. Along with the 10 LED capacity indicator, the PowerCore+ has 2 USB ports outputting power at 2.4A each, and a USB Type-C port. Included in the box is the power bank, a USB to USB Type-C cable which is used to quickly charge the power bank, a travel pouch, and a micro USB cable. Keep in mind that you don’t just charge the power bank using type-C, there’s also Type-C output, meaning you can charge your Nexus 6P (or whatever have you) from the battery charger as well.

The Anker PowerCore+ also utilizes a number of special technologies to help ensure the best experience possible, such as PowerIQ, a proprietary technology used to replicate the charging protocol of each device to ensure safe and efficient charging. VoltageBoost is another proprietary technology that detects cable resistance in order to provide a steady charge.

Buy on Amazon

CHARGED Quick Charge 3.0/2.0 & USB C

Best Google Pixel Accessories

If fast charging is what you want then the CHARGED 3.0 has you covered with 4 ports including a Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0 port which is the latest tech and also a USB Type C along with 2 smart USB ports that will give your devices the proper power they need to charge as quick as possible. The QC 3.0 port also quick charges Quick Charge 2.0 devices. This charger has all the latest technology and will serve you for some time. While the Pixel doesn’t use these standards officially, it should still charge at faster speeds through this charger, and any existing mobile devices you have will also play nicely here.

The CHARGED Quick Charge 3.0 is currently priced at $14.99.

10% OFF Coupon Code: QC3CAR10 (Enter this code at checkout to receive 10% off)

Buy at Amazon

iOttie Universal car mount

Best Google Pixel Accessories

While car docks aren’t an absolute must, I think you’ll find that pairing your Pixel or Pixel XL with a solid car dock will make life in your car that extra bit sweeter. The iOttie Universal car holder features a one touch mount system that lets you lock the device in place and release with just a press of a single button. Sticky gel pads allows for the holder to be stuck to most surfaces, and comes with a telescopic arm to allow for closer viewing of the screen. The holder can accommodate almost every smartphone, with the allowed width going up to 3.5-inches. The iOttie car holder is priced at $24.95.

Get it on Amazon

Any other Pixel or Pixel XL accessories you feel are worth picking up that we didn’t list? Let us know about them down in the comments.

Sony Xperia Z3+ and Z3+ Dual now receiving Android 7.0 Nougat

Sony is rolling out the Android 7.0 Nougat upgrade to the Sony Xperia Z3+ and Z3+ Dual (the dual-SIM version). The update, which features build number 32.3.A.0.372, arrived to the Xperia Z5 and Z5 Plus only yesterday and is expected to be identical to the software rolling out for the Z3+.

The update delivers Multi-Window support and improved battery life thanks to Android’s more efficient Doze system. Sony has also made changes to its proprietary battery saving feature STAMINA Mode, where you can now choose to prioritize performance or standby times.

In addition, Sony has altered its home screen, which now has Google Now integration and has added a timer to the selfie camera.

See also:

Sony sticking with 3.5 mm headphone port for upcoming smartphones

2 weeks ago

The update comes in at more than 1.3 GB, so connect to Wi-Fi before downloading unless you have the data to spare. Look out for it on your device in the coming days.

If you want to find out what other features you’ll find in Android 7.0 Nougat, head to our software review at the link.

Google app now saves offline searches and delivers results when connection is reestablished

I think we can all agree that losing internet connection during a Google search is quite annoying. Especially in this day and age when people don’t have a lot of patience and want to get the information they need as soon as possible.

While Google can’t help you with your spotty connection (, it can make your life a bit easier if you lose internet access during a search. The company unveiled that the Google app for Android has a new feature, which really does come in handy from time to time.

See also:

This year’s biggest Google search trends pretty much sum up 2016

December 14, 2016

When you lose internet access while doing a search, the app will save your query and deliver the search results to you right after the connection is reestablished. You don’t have to lift a finger, as the app will do it all for you in the background. It will send you a notification letting you know that the connection is back and that your search results can now be viewed. Google states that the new feature won’t drain your device’s battery and will have a minimal impact on data usage.

This a very useful feature to have, as we all lose internet connection from time to time. If you want to try it out, make sure you have the latest version of the app installed on your device.

Nvidia Shield Tablet K1 to get Android Nougat “in a few weeks”

Nvidia has confirmed that the Shield Tablet and Shield Tablet K1 will receive the Android Nougat update. The news arrived via a customer care agent in the Nvidia Forums, while the Nvidia Shield hub Google+ account suggests that Nougat will roll out to the Shield Tablet K1 “in a few weeks.”

Android 7.0 Nougat recently rolled out to the Nvidia Shield TV and introduced a wealth of new features to the platform, raising questions about when Nvidia’s other hardware would be upgraded to the new Android platform.

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Hands-on with the new Nvidia Shield TV

2 days ago

The original Nvidia Shield was released in July 2014 with Android 4.4.2 KitKat. If it receives the upgrade to Nougat, it would become the first (and perhaps last) former KitKat device to do so. The Shield was succeeded by the less expensive Shield K1 in November 2015; it’s rumored that an intended 2016 follow-up was cancelled by Nvidia for “business reasons.”

We’ll keep an eye out for a more detailed announcement regarding the update on the Shield blog in the coming weeks.

Vine officially transforms into Vine Camera app

It’s official. Vine, the popular six-second online video service, has shut down. As expected, the Vine app has now been transformed into the Vine Camera app, which is already available to download from the Google Play Store.

The new app allows you to create six seconds long looping videos that you can either post directly to Twitter or save to your smartphone. To make the video making process easier and better, the app includes some of the standard Vine creation tools including multi-clip trimming, grid overlay, AF focus, and ghost tool.

See also:

Twitter and Periscope launch support for 360 degree live video streaming

3 weeks ago

If you want to try out the new Vine Camera app, simply update the existing Vine app you have on your device and you’re good to go. In case you don’t already have it installed on your smartphone, you can download it from the Google Play Store by clicking the button below.

Download the Vine Camera app

Although the Vine service has officially closed its doors, the website is still up and running. For now, you’re still able to watch all the Vines that were posted online. However, new content obviously cannot be uploaded anymore.

Are you sad to see that Vine has shut down? Will you be trying out the new Vine Camera app? Let us know your thoughts down below.

Huawei could announce MediaPad T3 tablet at MWC 2017

Huawei could announce at new tablet, the MediaPad T3, at MWC 2017 in Barcelona. The information arrives via Roland Quandt (@rquandt) of WinFuture.de who tweeted a picture of what appears to be the device’s Wi-Fi certification approval.

Quandt, who has provided other accurate leaks in the past, stated it was a “safe bet” for MWC 2017, though this is the first time we’ve heard of the prospective T3 and hardware details are yet to be speculated upon.

Huawei has previously released the 7-inch MediaPad T2, along with the T2 Pro in 10-inch, 8-inch and 7-inch versions. While the series covers a range of sizes and price points, none of them were officially launched in the States. The last Huawei tablet the US got its hands on was the MediaPad M3 (pictured at the top), an 8.3-inch tablet that we said, “Ticked all the boxes.”

See also:

Huawei CEO Richard Yu talks new partnerships, growth in interview at CES 2017

2 weeks ago

MWC 2017 begins February 27 and we’ll be there to bring you all the news from the show. Stay tuned for more on the MediaPad T3.

European HTC 10 and One M9 to get Nougat update within two weeks

Last month, HTC started rolling out the Nougat update for its flagship device — HTC 10 — in the US. About a week later, the company also released Nougat for the One M9, while the unlocked One A9 devices started getting the update yesterday.

In Europe, HTC users are still waiting for the Nougat update, which is apparently just around the corner. Graham Wheeler, the Product and Service Director at HTC EMEA, took to Twitter to announce that the unlocked European HTC 10 devices will get Android Nougat within the next two weeks. Additionally, the HTC One M9 will also get bumped up to Nougat in the same timeframe.

European HTC 10 and One M9 to get Nougat update within two weeks

HTC is also working closely with operators in order to send the update to the carrier variants of both devices at roughly the same time. After the company updates both the 10 and One M9 in Europe, the next smartphone on the list is the One A9. Apparently, HTC is already working on the update for the device, however, it did not specify an exact time frame as to when it might be available.

See also:

Nougat update will roll out to the unlocked HTC One A9 starting tonight

2 days ago

It’s nice to hear that HTC will roll out Android Nougat to a few of its devices in Europe soon. Big updates like these are very important for users as they can change the look and feel of a device quite a bit, and make it a lot more fun to play around with.