Giving the Finger to Android

Zack Whittaker on Android’s fingerprint vulnerability:

New research, set to be announced at the Black Hat conference in Las Vegas on Wednesday, by FireEye researchers Tao Wei and Yulong Zhang outlined new ways to attack Android devices to extract user fingerprints.

The threat is for now confined mostly to Android devices that have fingerprint sensors, such as Samsung, Huawei, and HTC devices, which by volume remains low compared to iPhone shipments. But down the line by 2019, where it’s believed that at least half of all smartphone shipments will have a fingerprint sensor, the threat deepens.

Of the four attacks outlined by the researchers, one in particular — dubbed the “fingerprint sensor spying attack” — can “remotely harvest fingerprints in a large scale,” Zhang told ZDNet by email.

Open always wins, right?

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Technology

“Don’t bother learning our platform or writing native apps for it.”

A few weeks ago I linked up to the story about Microsoft giving developers the ability to port Android and iOS apps to Windows.

At Ars Technica, Sean Gallager gets into more of the nerdy details and recalls IBM and Blackberry trying similar, unsuccessful moves:

Neither OS/2 nor BlackBerry 10 has made a success of this capability. There are two major problems with supporting foreign applications on a niche platform. The first is straightforward: it removes any incentive for developers to bother with the native platform. Investing in developing for a minor platform is already something of a gamble, and by telling developers “Oh hey, you can just use your existing Win16 or Android program…” as IBM and BlackBerry (respectively) did, you’re implicitly sending them a message. “Don’t bother learning our platform or writing native apps for it.”

And:

Even with Islandwood, porting iOS applications to Windows will require more work than Android apps require. While some Android apps will be 100 percent compatible with Astoria, that won’t be the case with Islandwood. There are differences between the platforms that need handling—Android and Windows Phone have a back button, for example, whereas iOS doesn’t—and devs will have to change code accordingly.

The impact this has will depend on the app. King’s Candy Crush Saga for Windows Phone is already using Islandwood, and the changes required were described as a “few percent.” CCS supports features including in-app purchases in its Windows Phone version, taking advantage of the StoreKit API mapping. However, as a game, its user interface is largely custom anyway. Apps that lean more heavily on UIKit may well need more work to ensure that their interfaces meet the expectations of Windows users.

It’s Microsoft’s last ditch effort.

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This Should Go Fine

At BGR.com, Brad Reed on Microsoft’s plans to let you port iOS and Android apps to Windows:

Microsoft is raising the white flag when it comes to developing its own mobile app ecosystem — instead, it’s going to let developers easily bring their iOS and Android apps over to Windows 10 without having to completely rebuild them from the ground up as they’ve had to do in the past. Essentially, Microsoft is letting developers reuse most of the same code that they used to write their apps for rival platforms and is giving them tools to help them optimize these apps for Windows.

Wow! Sounds tremendous. I’m sure there won’t be any redesigning needed. I mean, it’s not like Apple or Google have their own design guidelines, like this and this.

I’m also sure performance will be lickity-split. No lag or recoding needed.

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