March 20th, 2014
As you probably know, Google have made Chromecast available in 11 more countries (Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden and the U.K). The SDK is available for Android and iOS developers. The idea is that developers add the SDK libraries to existing apps to allow content to be viewed on the TV. More information is available in the Developers Guide.
One of the advantages of Chromecast over Apple TV is that the latter only works with Apple devices. Chromecast works from iOS, Android and the Chrome browser in laptops/desktops (Mac, Windows and Linux). This offers a new wide-ranging outlet for media owners.
Surprisingly, Chromecast on Android is more limited than on the other platforms. The Android SDK relies on Google Play Services (4.2+) which means Chromecast apps won’t work on AOSP (non-Google sanctioned) devices. This means it won’t work on forked versions of Android such as the Kindle Fire, Nokia X and many inexpensive Chinese tablets. Media owners such as the BBC are concerned about this and say, particularly of the Kindle…
"We recognize that the Kindle is an important device for BBC iPlayer in terms of usage and we have, on behalf of our users, asked Google to do what they can to support this platform."
It’s an interesting dilemma for Google. Should they relax access to Chromecast thus enabling the types of device, the use of which, they wish to discourage. I suppose the answer comes down to this - What’s more important for Google, Chromecast or Android?
March 12th, 2014
If you read the tech news you will know Facebook intends to buy WhatsApp. One of WhatsApp’s USPs and appeal is privacy of messages. However, as Bas Bosschert showed yesterday, it’s very easy for any other app to read the WhatsApp database.
So what did WhatsApp do wrong? For some strange reason they decided to store the database outside the private app specific directories and on the sd card. The only reason I can think the developer did this was to make the database more readable during development. In later releases they encrypted the database. However, they seem to have made the decryption key easily available (hardcoded in code?) which means Bas was able decompile to extract the key and re-use to easily decrypt the database.
1. Store the database and all data files in the private directory space where they are inaccessible to all but rooted devices.
2. They can still encrypt the database and files. Take a look at Conceal and/or SQLCipher.
3. Store the decryption key where it’s less easily read. In the private directory space is better than in code, fetched online via SSL even better and not stored at all (generated from a user password entered each session) the best.
UPDATE: It’s entertaining that TheGuardian implies this is a problem with Android. As with a previous article, they seem to blur the truth.
March 3rd, 2014
Gartner’s latest tablet sales numbers show that Android tablets sales exceeded iOS tablet sales for the first time in 2013. Android now has a 61.9% market share while iOS market share has decreased from 52.8% to 36%.
As with smartphones, Gartner says smaller low-cost (7") tablets are driving growth. Apple say they won’t go this small because this small size doesn’t make for a good product.