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28 September 2015 ~ 0 Comments

Samsung Announces Monthly Security Patches for Smartphones

Android is often accused of being less than secure, something that Google has repeatedly said is the fault of OEMs who take the secure software of stock Android and change too much. The biggest Android OEM is Samsung and now the Korean giant has decided to take security on the platform a step further by issuing monthly security patches for its handsets.

Dong Jin Koh, executive VP at Samsung, spoke about insecurity on the open source Android operating system, particularly focusing on the “Stagefright” exploit that left 950 million Android devices open for attack recently. That was not the first time issues have been apparent, with Google’s own research showing 5% of all Android devices are infected with malware (a small amount on paper that actually totals millions of units worldwide).

“With the recent security issues, we have been rethinking the approach to getting security updates to our devices in a more timely manner,” said Koh. “Since software is constantly exploited in new ways, developing a fast response process to deliver security patches to our devices is critical to keep them protected.”
Samsung’s move will certainly be an aid to Google as the company has been fighting an unwinnable battle against the idea that Android is a security risk.

The company has repeatedly defended itself and claims that security is a top priority when building new Android versions. Mountain View insists that Android is as secure as any mobile platform in its stock form, but the problem is over 95% of all Android products do not run the platform as stock.

Third party vendors drape their own software and skins over Google’s platform, while developers are free to build apps with minimal restriction, using forked systems to bypass any Google rules. Samsung has been spearheading increased security on its own devices with its Knox system and other methods, and now the company is matching Google’s ambitions by sending out monthly security patches.

The company was among the first to send out fixes for the Stagefright problem and is clearly worried about any future vulnerabilities in Android. It is certainly in Samsung’s best interest to stamp out any problems and give consumers piece of mind, especially with the Samsung Pay service due to launch before the holiday season.

As for Google, it too will start issuing monthly updates, although the company said it will only do so for its Nexus products (i.e. the ones that run stock Android), including the Nexus 4, Nexus 5, Nexus 6, Nexus 7, Nexus 9, Nexus 10 (deep breath) and the Nexus Player.

What’s your thoughts?

25 September 2015 ~ 0 Comments

Four smartphones to get excited about this autumn

The summer months tend to be quiet in terms of new flagship smartphones landing. The autumn is typically where the action is at as manufacturers release their devices in time to take advantage of the pre-Christmas buzz. There will be myriad handsets arriving in the next few months, from budget and simple to expensive and bleeding edge, but here we will take a look at some high end smartphones you will be able to buy for yourself before Christmas.

Apple iPhone 6s

Last year Apple swept all before it with the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, two devices that pushed the company to record sales, profit, and revenue. Expect much of the same when the iPhone 6s launches next month, with the company already preparing 90 million units for the holiday season alone. It is arguable that no iPhone is the best smartphone on the market, and the device is certainly more about how it works as it is what specs it has.

That said, this will be the most decked out iPhone so far, with an Apple A9 processor, Full HD Retina Display, and a 13MP camera. With iOS 9 maintaining the ease of use and functionality we love from the platform, and the hardware likely to remain gorgeous, expect this to be the one most people want yet again.

Samsung Galaxy Note 5

Sure, the Galaxy S6 is an awesome smartphone, but connoisseurs know that to get the best of what Samsung can do you have to go to the Note series. Launching August 13th, the fifth iteration of the phablet king will be the best large screen phone yet and probably the best smartphone full stop, at least from a hardware perspective. The specs will be market leading, including a 5.7-inch Quad HD screen, Samsung’s own Exynos 7420 chip, 4GB of RAM, and of course the excellent S Pen.

With Samsung recently upping its design game, a metal frame and body is likely and the Galaxy Note 5 could be one of the best looking flagships around.

LG G4 Pro

Trying to steal Samsung’s phablet thunder will be Korean compatriot LG with the G4 Pro. If the G4 flagship launched in May felt like an incremental update, the Pro is said to be LG throwing everything it has into a high end smartphone. Will the company finally turn to a metal body? We hope so, even if the plastic G4 is elegant either way.

One thing is certain, the G4 Pro will match the Note 5 in terms of specs. Coming to the handset will be a Quad HD screen at 5.7 inches, and possibly even Qualcomm’s just announced Snapdragon 820 processor with 4GB of RAM. That would make the G4 Pro a performance powerhouse, while it will also boast a 20.7MP primary camera, 32GB of Storage, and an all-important micro SD card slot.

Sony Xperia Z5

Sony is under plenty of pressure, but the company has always enjoyed solid results in the UK and with the flagship line typically sold for a solid price in the country, the Xperia Z5 could be a compelling option. The Japanese giant’s flagships always scream premium, but perhaps that design language is ageing slightly, so an aesthetic refresh would be most welcome when the handset launches at IFA in Berlin next month.

Also welcome would be a Quad HD screen, high end chipset, and other flagship specs that would see the Xperia Z series keep pace with Sony’s rival. Arguably the most exciting aspect is the company’s new stock Android experience, although it is not confirmed whether that will be ready in time for the launch of the Z5.

What new handsets do you have your eyes on this autumn? Which manufacturers are tempting you the most? Or are you content with your current phone and prefer to wait and see what innovations 2016 will bring? Let us know with a comment :)

06 August 2015 ~ 4 Comments

Giffgaff upgrade all goodbags to 4G

giffgaff goodybags 2015

Giffgaff announced another set of changes do their range of goodybag monthly bundles this week. Some of the major changes include the phasing out of cheaper 3G only goodybags and the introduction of a new £20 goodybag will unlimited minutes, texts and slightly less unlimited “Always On” 4G data. The new goodybags will be available for purchase from 2 September 2015.

The changes are being implemented following a large market-research campaign that gathered opinions from their whole customer base about the most important aspects of the popular goodybags.

Among the results of this user survey, Giffgaff recorded strong preferences for high-speed data and not having to pay a premium for 4G access. Heavy users also were pleased with the new ability to buy additional goodybags before the end of the month once the allowance for one had been used up but also requested options with more minutes included from the start.

Another change Giffgaff have implemented in response to the
feedback they received is the introduction of what they have termed “Always On” data. It’s not quite as good as the truly unlimited packages from days past, but it appears to be a reasonable compromise.

Users who opt for the most expensive goodybag which cost £20 per month will get completely unlimited UK minutes and UK texts as well as 6GB of 4G data. Once that allowance has been used up, you won’t be cut off from mobile internet – instead you’ll have unlimited usage from midnight to 8am but at peak times, any bandwidth in excess of that 6GB allowance will be throttled back to a snail-paced 256Kb/s. Of course, you can always purchase extra allowance and, best of all, you can still tether your phone’s data connection at any time.

The existing goodybags will be phased out over the coming months in preparation for the launch of the new range at the beginning of September. As well as changing the regular goodybags which bundle together an allowance of minutes, texts and data, Giffgaff are also converting all their gigabags – data only bundles – to the faster 4G standard.

Are you a Giffgaff user? Do you user the regular PAYG option or do you regularly buy a goodybag? And do these changes affect you – what are your thoughts on them? What do you think is good about them and what would you have preferred?