Barnes & Noble Has Been Quietly Refreshing Its Nook Hardware (itworld.com) 30

itwbennett writes: Peter Smith writes that he 'had more or less written off the Nook when Barnes & Noble farmed hardware duties out to Samsung.' But now that Amazon is aiming for the low end with its downgraded Fire tablet line, Barnes & Noble has an opportunity to 'carve out a niche on the higher end of things,' says Smith. And so it has been quietly moving in that direction. Yesterday, Venture Beat wrote about the newly (and stealthily) launched $250 Samsung Galaxy Tab E Nook. As Smith notes, 'the specs for this new tablet aren't anything special,' which might explain the stealthy launch, except that another, pricier Nook tablet apparently came out a month ago (again, according to VentureBeat), the Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 Nook.

Google Helped Cause the Mysterious Increase In 911 Calls SF Asked It To Solve (bbc.com) 152

theodp writes: Android users have long complained publicly that it's way too easy to accidentally dial 911. So it's pretty astonishing that it took a team of Google Researchers and San Francisco Department of Emergency Management government employees to figure out that butt-dialing was increasing the number of 911 calls. The Google 9-1-1 Team presented its results in How Googlers helped San Francisco Use Data Science to Understand a Surge in 911 Calls, a Google-sponsored presentation at the Code for America Summit, and in San Francisco's 9-1-1 Call Volume Increase, an accompanying 26-page paper.

Video Marijuana Growers Need Software, Too (Video) 86

Meet Kyle Sherman, founder and CEO of Flowhub, a company that makes software for marijuana growers. The company's website says Kyle "worked at a grow and experienced the problems with cannabis inventory management first hand. Frustrated by the software his grow was using, he searched for something better. When his search failed him, he became fueled by a passion to create a system that would accelerate workflows, increase accuracy, and simplify compliance."

Every state that legalizes marijuana will give Flowhub a new set of potential customers (and a new set of regulations their software must take into account). And Kyle talks about making easy-to-use enterprise software for other industries, based on his experience making super-simple software for marijuana people. It's possible that Flowhub will also make new versions of the NUG, the handheld "all-in-one device" Flowhub provides along with its subscription-based software. Are we talking about unbridled optimism here? Absolutely! This is America, where possibilities are endless, even in the not-100%-legal (yet) marijuana industry.

From Microsoft, HoloLens VR Dev Kit, New Phones, Continuum 87

Ars Technica and scads of other tech hardware sites are reporting that the big news so far from this morning's Microsoft product launch event in New York is that the company's Hololens development kit will begin shipping in the first quarter of next year, and at a price that puts the units out of the hands of typical consumers: $3000. At that level, developers are more likely to make the plunge, which Ars applauds.

The company also announced three new smartphones: two of them, the Lumia 950, 950XL, are worth designating "flagships," while the 550, notably, will sell for $139, putting it in the territory of cheap grey-market Android phones. More interesting than spec bumps, though, is Continuum for Windows, a Window 10 feature which made its official debut at the event. Continuum is one manifestation of the pocket-computer idea that others have had as well in various forms: it means that with an adapter, a phone can be used as the CPU and graphics engine when connected to a screen and keyboard: "The adapter features a Microsoft Display Dock, an HDMI and Display Port, plus 3 USB ports to provide productivity on the go and let you plug in additional peripherals, such as mice and keyboards. Other accessories can be connected too, Microsoft said."

Microsoft also demo'd the Surface 4. Its improved screen is 12.3" at 2160x1440, for a pixel density of 267 PPI. The new pro has a Skylake 6th-gen processor, which they say provides a 30% performance boost over the Surface Pro 3, and a 50% boost over the MacBook Air. The SP4 goes up to 1TB of storage, and up to 16GB of RAM. The Type Cover was improved as well — the touchpad is 40% larger and supports 5-point multi-touch, while the keys have better travel and pitch.

On top of this, Microsoft also unveiled the Surface Book laptop. Its defining feature is that you can unclip the 13.5" touchscreen and use it separately as a tablet. The keyboard dock has a dedicated GPU that will boost performance when attached. Microsoft is using a new type of hinge that bends and extends at multiple points, so you can also reattach the screen backward if you want to use it as a tablet while keeping the extra GPU power available. They claim a 12-hour battery life for the Surface Book.

Some Apple iPhone 6s and 6s Plus Smartphones Mysteriously Powering Down 54

MojoKid writes: Apple's iPhone 6s and 6s Plus were two of the most highly anticipated smartphones to launch so far this year. The excitement surrounding Apple's new refresh cycle flagships was so great that Apple reported record first weekend sales, with 13 million devices finding their way to customers. However, it appears that some of those customers are having a puzzling issue with their brand new iPhones. Owners are reporting that their phones are turning off randomly when left alone — even when the smartphones have sufficient battery remaining. "New Phone 6s 128GB turned off for no reason the last two nights," wrote Joachim Frey in an Apple discussion thread. "In the morning you then have to push the power-on button for a long time to get it started."

The Real Cost of Mobile Ads 117

New submitter cvdwl writes: A New York Times (mildly paywalled) article and associated analysis discuss the consumer cost of mobile ads, assuming a US$0.01/MB data plan. The article provides one of the only estimates I've seen of the the real cost in time and money (and time is money) of mobile advertising. Ethics of ad-blockers aside, this highlights the hidden costs of data-heavy (often lazy and poorly developed) web-design. In a nutshell, the worst sites took 10-30s load 10-20MB, costing $0.15-0.40, over 4G due to a blizzard of video, heavy images, and occasionally just massive scripts. The best sites had high content to ad ratios, typically loading 1-3MB of content and >500kB of advertising.

iPhone 6s's A9 Processor Racks Up Impressive Benchmarks 213

MojoKid writes: Underneath the hood of Apple's new iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus models is a new custom designed System-on-Chip (SoC) that Apple has dubbed its A9 processor. It's a 64-bit chip that, according to Apple, is the most advanced ever built for any smartphone, and that's just one of many claims coming out of Cupertino. Apple is also claiming a level of gaming performance on par with dedicated game consoles and with a graphics engine that's 90 percent faster than the previous generation. For compute chores, Apple says the A9 chip improves overall CPU performance by up to 70 percent. These performance promises come without divulging too much about the physical makeup of the A9, though in testing its dual-core SoC does seem to compete well with the likes of Samsung's octal-core Exynos chips found in the Galaxy S6 line. Further, in intial graphics benchmark testing, the A9 also leads the pack in mosts tests, sometimes by a healthy margin, even besting Qualcomm's Snapdragon 810 in tests like 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited.

BlackBerry Launches Android Smartphone 127

wiredmikey writes: In an attempt to come back from the dead, BlackBerry announced plans to sell an Android-powered smartphone. The struggling Canadian smartphone maker said it would begin selling "Priv," described as "a flagship handheld device that will run on the Android operating system with BlackBerry security," expected to be available later this year. The company isn't giving up on its own operating system, and will continue to develop and enhance its BlackBerry 10 platform, which currently represents less than one percent of smartphone users.

Apple Cleaning Up App Store After Its First Major Attack 246

Reuters reports that Apple is cleaning up hundreds of malicious iOS apps after what is described as the first major attack on its App Store. Hundreds of the stores apps were infected with malware called XcodeGhost, which used as a vector a counterfeit version of iOS IDE Xcode. Things could be a lot worse, though: Palo Alto Networks Director of Threat Intelligence Ryan Olson said the malware had limited functionality and his firm had uncovered no examples of data theft or other harm as a result of the attack. Still, he said it was "a pretty big deal" because it showed that the App Store could be compromised if hackers infected machines of software developers writing legitimate apps. Other attackers may copy that approach, which is hard to defend against, he said.

Google Releases Open Source Plans For Cardboard V2 Virtual Reality Viewer 26

An anonymous reader writes: After revealing an improved version of Cardboard, the super-low cost virtual reality smartphone adapter, Google has now also freely released the detailed design documents, encouraging people to use them for projects ranging from DIY fun to full blown manufacturing. The v2 version of Cardboard is easier to assemble, has larger lenses, a universal input button, and is bigger overall to support larger phones.

Ask Slashdot: What To Do About Android Malware? 191

An anonymous reader writes: What's your approach to detecting and dealing with Android malware? I have a fairly new, fairly fancy phone running Android Lollipop, the recently degraded performance of which leads me to believe that it's infected with malware. That, and a friend who noticed a lot of strange activity coming from my phone's IP — sorry, I don't have the logs, but he pointed out that there were pings coming from my phone to a lot of sketchy addresses — which pretty much seals the deal. There have been lots of stories lately about Android malware that remind me of the old saw about weather: everyone talks about it, but no one does anything about it. However, that can't be completely true, and before I reach a phone crisis, I'd like to get some sane, sage advice about diagnosing malware, and disposing of it, or at least mitigating its damage. When it comes to diagnosing, I don't know what software to trust. I've heard positive things from friends (and seen both positive reviews and terrible negative ones, raising even more meta questions about trust) about Malwarebytes, so I installed their mobile version. This dutifully scans my system, and reports no errors and malware. Which doesn't mean there isn't any, though I'd be happy to find out that I'm just being paranoid. The OS is stock (Motorola Nexus 6) and kept up to date. I have only very conventional apps, all downloaded from Google's Play store, and believe it or not I don't visit any dodgy websites on my phone, at least not intentionally. So: what's the most reliable way to get an accurate view of whether I am dealing with malware at all, and hopefully to eradicate it? Good malware hides well, I know, but is there any tool on the side of the righteous that is currently best at rooting it out? If I find a specific form of malware on my phone, how can I remove it?

iPad Mini-Style Specs, On the Cheap, In Android-Based ASUS ZenPad S 8.0 87

MojoKid writes: The ASUS ZenPad S 8.0 is a well-designed Android tablet based on an Intel X86 platform that boasts better specs than the iPad mini 3 in many areas and is also less expensive. As configured, the ZenPad S 8.0 Z580CA has an MSRP of $299, which is $99 less than the 16GB iPad mini 3, and $199 less than 64GB model. However, it's based on a quad-core Intel Atom Z3580 processor, 4GB of RAM, 64GB of internal storage, and modern amenities like 802.11ac Wi-Fi, a USB Type-C port and a 2048X1536 IPS display. A 2GB RAM and 32GB variant can be found for $199 as well. In the benchmarks, the ZenPad S 8.0 handles pretty well, offering middle-of-the-pack performance in both standard CPU tests as well as gaming, in addition to running the latest version of Android Lollipop.

The Handheld Analog Computer That Made the Atomic Bomb 45

szczys writes: When the physicists and mathematicians of the Manhattan Project began their work they needed to establish which substance was most likely to sustain vigorous fission. This is not trivial math, and the solution of course is to use an advanced computer. If only they had one available. The best computer of the time was a targeting calculation machine that was out of service while being moved from one installation to another. The unlikely fill-in was a simple yet ingenious analog computer called the FERMIAC. When rolled along a piece of paper it calculated neutron collisions with simple markings — doing its small part to forever change the world without a battery, transistor, or tube.

Amazon Stops Selling Fire Phone 80

An anonymous reader writes: Last June Amazon announced their Fire Phone, an Android device packed with interesting but questionably useful tech that left reviewers unimpressed. Now, just a few weeks after big layoffs in Amazon's Fire Phone division, the phone has gone out of stock globally and seems unlikely to return. GeekWire says it's "an indication that they've finally exhausted their supply and they don't have plans to manufacture anymore."

Proposed MAC Sniffing Dongle Intended To Help Recover Stolen Electronics 120

An anonymous reader writes to say that an Iowa City police officer is developing a new concept to help police find more stolen property. The Gazette has a short report that officer David Schwindt, inspired by a forensics class, is working on L8NT, a specialized wireless dongle to help police officers locate stolen electronics (any of them with wireless capabilities and a MAC address, at least) by scanning for MAC addresses associated with stolen goods. The idea is to have police scan as they drive for these MAC entries, and match them against a database. The article notes a few shortcomings in this concept, but does not point out an even bigger one: MAC addresses are usually mutable, anyhow, in a way that's not as obvious as an obscured serial number, and thieves could refine their business model by automating the change.

Amazon Reportedly Aiming For the Low End With a Loss-Leader $50 Tablet 111

Amazon has been dogged with criticism for its high-end, somewhat oddball phone, but done rather better with its high-end Fire tablets, and has mostly defined the market for e-ink book-reading devices with its long-lived Kindle series. Now, according to a report in the WSJ echoed by Fortune (and by Ars Technica and many others), the company is said to be working on a tablet aimed at the low end of the market, with a 6-inch screen, a mono speaker, and a tiny pricetag -- which could be as low as $50. "At the bottom end of the range at least, the devices won’t be priced to make a profit," writes Fortune. "The dirt-cheap price tag is intended to maximise the reach of its e-book and Amazon Prime video streaming content."

Ask Slashdot: Best Tablet In 2015? 283

An anonymous reader writes: My 2012 Nexus 7 tablet is showing its age. The battery drains quickly, the storage problem that plagued all the Nexus 7s persists even after rooting and re-imaging, and the CPU/RAM can't keep up with the later Android versions. When it came out, it was fantastic — good specs, solid build quality, Nexus line, and a good size. Is there anything on the market today that stands out as much as the Nexus 7 did? I tend to prefer the smaller tablets over the bigger ones, but I'm not entirely averse to an 8" or 9" device. There seem to be some really nice devices in the $3-400 range, but I'm not sure if there's a huge benefit to those over the ~$200 models. I don't do any serious gaming on my tablet, but I also want the apps I do use to be snappy. Those of you who have bought or used tablets made in the past year or so, what has your experience been? Any brands or models that stand out from the crowd? Any to avoid?

Smartphone Malware Planted In Popular Apps Pre-sale 42

An anonymous reader writes with news from The Stack that makes it a little harder to scoff at malware on phones as being largely the fruit of dodgy sideloaded software, game cracks, et cetera. They report that even phones marketed as brand new, from well-known brands like Lenovo and Xiaomi, have been tampered with and "infected prior to sale with intelligent malware disguised in popular apps such as Facebook." (To U.S. buyers, those makers may be slightly obscure as cellphone vendors; the scheme this article addresses involves handsets sold by vendors in Europe and Asia, involving more than 20 different handset types.)

T-Mobile Starts Going After Heavy Users of Tethered Data 346

VentureBeat reports that T-Mobile CEO John Legere has announced that T-Mobile will cut off (at least from "unlimited" data plans) customers who gloss over the fine print of their data-use agreement by tethering their unlimited-data phones and grab too much of the network's resources. In a series of tweets on Sunday, Legere says the company will be "eliminating anyone who abuses our network," and complains that some "network abusers" are using 2TB of data monthly. The article says, "This is the first official word from the carrier that seems to confirm a memo that was leaked earlier this month. At that time, it was said action would be taken starting August 17 and would go after those who used their unlimited LTE data for Torrents and peer-to-peer networking."

Ask Slashdot: Best Data Provider When Traveling In the US? 142

An anonymous reader writes: I am visiting USA 3-4 times a year and I need a data service. I also need to keep my cell phone number, so swapping the SIM card in my phone is not an option. I have bought those 19.95$ phones in Best-Buy to get a local number, but those were voice only. So I have been thinking about getting a MiFi hotspot.

I have been looking at pre-paid plans from Verizon(only 700 LTE band for their pre-paid hotspot), AT&T, T-Mobile etc. perhaps to put in a MiFi hotspot or buy a hotspot from a provider, but have no idea which one to use, their reputation, real life coverage etc. It is clear that all data plans in the USA are really expensive, I get 100GB monthly traffic with my Scandinavian provider for the same price as 6-8 GB monthly in the US, which I guess could be a problem with our Apple phones as they do not recognize a metered WiFi hotspot. But that is another issue. I travel all over but most of the time outside the big cities -- and my experience from roaming with my own phone and the cheap local phone so far tells me that coverage fluctuates wildly depending on the operator.