Google Partners with Movidius to Enhance Deep Learning Capabilities in Next-Gen Android Smartphones

Google today announced a partnership with a Silicon Valley chip manufacturer Movidius Work to bring powerful machine learning image recognition technology directly to Android smartphones.

As part of the agreement, Google will deploy its advanced neural computation engine on Movidius’ ultra-low-power platform, revolutionizing the usual server-based AI computation model. This enhancement will allow complex machine learning algorithms to run on device locally without an Internet connection and little to no latency issue.

The head of Google’s machine intelligence group in Seattle, Blaise Agüera y Arcas commented said,

What Google has been able to achieve with neural networks is providing us with the building blocks for machine intelligence, laying the groundwork for the next decade of how technology will enhance the way people interact with the world. By working with Movidius, we’re able to expand this technology beyond the data center and out into the real world, giving people the benefits of machine intelligence on their personal devices.

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Android N is Saying Goodbye to Oracle’s Proprietary Java APIs

Google has announced to move away from Orcale’s proprietary Java Application Programming Interfaces (APIs). In the next version of their operating system, Android N, the new standard will be OpenJDK, an open source alternative.

It all started last month with a “mysterious Android codebase commit”  which shows 8,902 files were changed, clearly notes OpenJDK code was added to Android:

Initial import of OpenJdk files.
Create new libcore/ojluni directory with src/main/java and src/main/native subdirectiories.
Build ojluni into core-oj jar.
Use openjdk classes from java.awt.font package.
Copy all files from jdk/src/share/classes and jdk/src/solaris/classes directories in openjdk into libcore/ojluni/src/main/java.
Copy following native files from openjdk to libcore/ojluni/src/main/native: [long list of files]

I largely suspect it has a lot to do with Oracle vs Google case in which Oracle, which only bought Java a few months ago from Sun Microsystems, claimed Android has copied Java’s source code in their operating system. To anyone who didn’t follow the case, the main code in question was just a few lines written by a guy at Google who previously used to work at Sun on Java. That’s right. He wrote the code in both cases (among thousands of lines of code he wrote on both projects) and it happened to be the same on a few lines by the same guy (Joshua Bloch). Out of millions of lines, this was it:

private static void rangeCheck(int arrayLen, int fromIndex, int toIndex) { 
    if (fromIndex > toIndex) 
        throw new IllegalArgumentException("fromIndex(" + 
             fromIndex + ") > toIndex(" + toIndex+")"); 
    if (fromIndex < 0) 
        throw new ArrayIndexOutOfBoundsException(fromIndex); 
    if (toIndex > arrayLen) 
        throw new ArrayIndexOutOfBoundsException(toIndex); 
}

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Facebook is Scared of Android

Mark Zuckerberg’s $190 billion baby feels threatened by the world’s most widely used mobile operating system, Android.

Both companies are a giant in their respective core competencies. For Facebook, it is social media and accompanying online advertising and for Google, a multitude of Internet-based products including a mobile operating system used by over 1.4 billion people.

Why, then, a giant like Facebook is scared of Android?

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How to Protect Your Android Device from Stagefright Vulnerability

how-to-remove-android-stagefright-from-your-android-devices

A day ago, a vulnerability was disclosed for Android phones performing a remote code execution over MMS. The vulnerability, named Stagefright after Android’s built-in stagefright media library, occurs when your Android device, upon receiving an MMS, starts processing it in the background, so you have seamless experience when you actually open it up. This processing is done automatically and without any user action performed. Apart from the incoming MMS notification, you may never know if your device was accessed by a malicious user or not.

Joshua Drake, the security researcher who reported the bug believes

All [Android] devices should be assumed to be vulnerable,

he added,

Only Android phones below version 2.2 are not affected.

Zimperium zLabs, the mobile security firm Drake is a VP of, notified Google of the vulnerability and according to Drake,

Google acted promptly and applied the patches to internal code branches within 48 hours.

Upon reaching a Google spokesperson, she’d responded with an email that,

The security of Android users is extremely important to us, so we’ve already responded quickly to this issue by sending the fix for all Android devices to our partners.

Although it is to be noted that security is baked deep into Android and that the OS uses a sandbox environment which runs apps, processes, and services, in their own separate areas of sort. Coupled with SELinux enforce enabled by default, apps outside the sandbox can’t have access to data of other apps, processes, and services. According to Google vulnerability report, only 0.15% malware exist in Android. For more details on how security works in Android, read a detailed post by Android Authority and first-hand information about security on Android about the platform’s Lead Security Engineer, Adrian Ludwig.

Even though Google applied the patches to the Android Open Source Project, we all know how terrible OEMs are about distributing updates to their users. I’m not going to assume this vulnerability is going to change anything with OS updates on OEM devices hence a solution unless you decide to toss out your current phone and go Nexus.

How to protect from the vulnerability?

I’m going to demo how to do that on Google Hangout, the default SMS application on many Android devices and Messenger, another famous SMS application by Google.

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Android One in Pakistan – Hands on with QMobile A1

Android One is a line of consumer electronic devices running Android operating system. Unlike other Android-based smartphones, Google manages the design, development, marketing, and support of these devices whereas the original equipment manufacturers (OEM) are responsible for manufacturing them.

Cherry on top is the near-stock Android experience the smartphones running Android One get. With minimum (or no) bloatware and OEM modification to the OS, you get to use Android the way it is meant to be used.

With Android One we set the bar to be a great software experience and a great device. We really want to bring in a whole new set of people who have never tried a smartphone before.

Sundar Pichai, Senior Vice President of Products, Google.

Android One was introduced in Google I/O 2014 with smartphones starting to ship from September 2014. Now there are dozens of manufacturers in India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Indonesia, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and other South Asian countries. A couple of days ago, Google, with collaboration of QMobile, launched the first Android One phone in Pakistan, QMobile A1.

I’ve been a fan of stock Android myself and thus I own a Nexus phone, tablet(s), and a player. When I heard about Android One heading to Pakistan, I decided to jump the wagon and buy a QMobile phone to try out the software in lower specs device. Now, I’ve only used the phone for around 8 hours and these are my initial thoughts.

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Google will announce Android “M” in this year’s I/O

As per Google’s tradition, the latest version to Android will be announced during Google I/O 2015. While this information hasn’t been confirmed by Google (well, duh!) but AndroidPolice managed to get a screengrab of a session detailed agenda mentioning ‘Android “M”‘. That part is undoubtedly removed from Google I/O’s website adding more to the story.

Screen grab of the agenda of a talk at Google I/O 2015, mentioning Android M. It was later removed from the website.

Screengrab of the agenda of a talk at Google I/O 2015, mentioning Android M. It was later removed from the website.

Google’s not new at teasing its fans. Remember how Nexus 5 was unveiled?

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Windows 10 Will Run Android and iOS Apps

Windows 10 will run ios and android apps

Have you been a proud owner of Nokia Lumia? Do you love its apparent build quality, design aesthetics, and killer camera? You very well be but all of these bells and whistles don’t seem to matter when your friends with an Android device or iPhone can flaunt an awesome game or a useful application that just isn’t available on Windows Store yet. If you think that way, you’re not alone. App selection is a major problem faced by manufacturers wanting to enter the mobile world. Though, Android has arguably taken over the world of mobile OS with over 80% of market share, iOS still holds its ground in the global market. Both of these ecosystems have a combined market share of over 93%. That doesn’t leave much for other players in this game, including Microsoft.

Infographic: Smartphone Duopoly Pushes Competition to the Fringes | Statista

Source: Statistica

For Windows Mobile, it goes something like this:
Windows Phone app selection problem

This is why Microsoft was largely unable to get more developers on board for its platform. Sure, you’d find almost all top-tier apps on Windows Mobile, but below that level, it’s a different story altogether. Many apps either don’t have a presence on Windows Mobile or they don’t update it as much as their Android and iOS counterparts.

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