TIME Smartphones

Miss Your Flip Phone? LG Has Released a New One

Snag: Right now, it's only available in South Korea

The flip phone is back. On Monday, LG unveiled the Gentle—an Android-powered flip phone that evokes the svelte simplicity of the Motorola Razr, which was all the rage back in 2005.

It’s not just a stylistic emulation, apparently: Mashable reports that the Gentle’s capabilities are “terribly outdated,” with just 4 gigabytes of storage (on par with the first iPhone model, circa 2007) and a camera operating with just three meager megapixels.

Still, it’s compact, probably user-friendly, and almost certain to go for longer between charges than its more advanced peers, whose innumerable capabilities come at the cost of battery life. It’s also super affordable. According to Mashable, the phone will sell in South Korea for the equivalent of $171. The iPhone 6 goes for about $730.

[Mashable]

TIME Android

Nearly 1 Billion Phones Can Be Hacked With 1 Text

The Latest Mobile Apps At The App World Multi-Platform Developer Show
Chris Ratcliffe—Bloomberg / Getty Images Google's Android platform is vulnerable to the attack.

"Stagefright" is one of the worst Android vulnerabilities to date.

So listen: Can I have your number?

Can I have it? Can I? Have it?

Um…maybe not. Actually, you should think twice before giving away your cell phone number—especially if you happen to own a phone that runs on Google’s Android operating system.

That’s the only thing a hacker needs to compromise a handset.

A mobile security researcher has uncovered a flaw that leaves as many as 95% of Android devices—that’s 950 million gadgets—exposed to attack. The computer bug, nicknamed “Stagefright” after a vulnerable media library in the operating system’s open source code, may be one of the worst Android security holes discovered to date. It affects Android versions 2.2 and on.

Should a hacker learn someone’s cell phone number, all it takes is for that person to send a malware-laced Stagefright multimedia message to an affected phone in order to steal its data and photos or to hijack its microphone and camera, among other nefarious actions. Worse yet, a user might have no idea that his or her device has been compromised.

Joshua Drake, vice president of research and exploitation at the mobile security firm Zimperium zLabs, says an attacker can delete the message before a victim has any idea.

“These vulnerabilities are extremely dangerous because they do not require that the victim take any action to be exploited,” he writes on his company’s blog. “Unlike spear-phishing, where the victim needs to open a PDF file or a link sent by the attacker, this vulnerability can be triggered while you sleep. Before you wake up, the attacker will remove any signs of the device being compromised and you will continue your day as usual – with a trojaned phone.”

When Drake reported the severe vulnerabilities along with potential fixes to Google in April (as well as another set May), the company, he writes, “acted promptly and applied the patches to internal code branches within 48 hours.” That doesn’t mean the problem is resolved, however.

As Forbes reporter Thomas Fox-Brewster writes, device manufacturers will still need to push the updates out in order to safeguard their customers. Google’s major Android partners, which include phone-makers like LG, Lenovo, Motorola, Samsung, and Sony were not immediately available to comment. (Fortune will update this when we hear back.)

An HTC spokesperson responded: “Google informed HTC of the issue and provided the necessary patches, which HTC began rolling into projects in early July. All projects going forward contain the required fix.”

Drake praises the security firm Silent Circle, based in Geneva, Switz., which makes the Blackphone handset, for its quick response protecting users since it released PrivatOS version 1.1.7. He also praises Mozilla, maker of the Firefox web browser, for including fixes since version 38. “We applaud these vendors for prioritizing security and releasing patches for these issues quickly.”

“This is Heartbleed for mobile,” said Chris Wysopal, chief tech and information security officer at the application security firm Veracode. These vulnerabilities “are exceedingly rare and pose a serious security issue for users since they can be impacted without having clicked on a link, opened a file or opened an SMS.”

Drake plans to present his research at the Black Hat and Def Con security conferences in Las Vegas next month.

So, um, can I have your number?

TIME eBay

Ebay Just Killed Off Its Same-day Delivery Service

Ebay Reports Quarterly Earnings
Justin Sullivan—Getty Images

It launched the service in 2012

EBay’s business plan took a bit more shape on Monday when the online marketplace announced it will be shutting down its same-day delivery service, eBay Now, by the end of the week, according to CNET.

Last week, the company said it is acquiring Twice, an online marketplace for second-hand clothing, and now it seems the company’s business realignment is becoming clearer. The company is killing off the delivery service it launched in 2012, born out of its $75 million acquisition of startup Milo. Through the service, eBay customers could get same-day delivery of items from local merchants, and it was available in New York, Chicago, Dallas, and parts of the Bay Area.

Through the pilot programs, eBay has realized that same-day delivery makes more sense for items such as diapers or groceries, which aren’t core eBay categories like collectibles and used items. Also, this type of delivery proved challenging for its individual sellers, many of whom are selling their wares from their homes.

Most of the employees affected by the shutdown will be reassigned elsewhere in the company, an eBay spokesperson told CNET.

EBay will also be sunsetting some of its apps, eBay Motors, eBay Fashion, and eBay Valet, as it looks to focus customers’ attention on its flagship app. With PayPal officially and fully split off from eBay, the company will need to focus its business now more than ever.

TIME Red Border Insights

See Why This Snake-Inspired Robot Is So Important

It's surprisingly mesmerizing to watch

Robotics researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have developed a modular snake robot designed to safely perform tasks that aren’t easily done by humans. From performing surgery to inspecting pipes at nuclear power plants, the robot is changing how researchers and engineers look to tackle emerging problems in a changing technological landscape.

TIME privacy

Activists Flood Congress With Faxes to Protest Cybersecurity Bill

"We figured we’d use some 80s technology to try to get our point across"

Internet activists opposed to a controversial cybersecurity bill are trying to get Congress’ attention the old-fashioned way: by flooding its fax machines.

The nonprofit group Fight For the Future has set up eight phone lines to convert emails and tweets protesting the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA) into faxes that will be sent to all 100 U.S. senators. Supporters can fax their own messages via FaxBigBrother.com or with the hashtag #faxbigbrother.

The legislation, first introduced last year by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), would give tech companies more freedom to collect user data and share it with federal agencies in the name of cybersecurity; the data they share would then be exempt from Freedom of Information Act requests.

“Groups like Fight for the Future have sent millions of emails [about the issue], and they still don’t seem to get it,” campaign manager Evan Greer told the Guardian on Monday. “Maybe they don’t get it because they’re stuck in 1984, and we figured we’d use some 80s technology to try to get our point across.”

 

 

 

TIME Innovation

Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking Join Call for Ban on Artificially Intelligent Weapons

"It will only be a matter of time until they appear on the black market and in the hands of terrorists"

Physicist Stephen Hawking and Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk have joined scores of artificial intelligence and robotics experts calling for a ban on “offensive autonomous weapons” in an open letter published Monday.

“AI technology has reached a point where the deployment of such systems is–practically if not legally–feasible within years, not decades, and the stakes are high,” reads the letter, which the Guardian reports will be presented Wednesday at the International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence in Buenos Aires. “Autonomous weapons have been described as the third revolution in warfare, after gunpowder and nuclear arms.”

The letter distinguishes AI weapons, which can select and attack targets without human orders, from drones and cruise missiles whose targets are selected by humans. The letter also says that while artificial intelligence can make war zones safer for members of the military, weapons that can operate without human control would kick off “a global AI arms race.”

“It will only be a matter of time until they appear on the black market and in the hands of terrorists, dictators,” and other bad actors, the signatories warn. “There are many ways in which AI can make battlefields safer for humans, especially civilians, without creating new tools for killing people.”

Other signees include Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak as well as DeepMind founder and Google executive Demis Hassabis.

TIME Elon Musk

Elon Musk Joins The Call For a Ban On Autonomous Weapons

Official Opening  Of The Geneva Motor Show
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images Tesla’s Elon Musk.

Tesla and SpaceX CEO adds his name to an open letter voicing concern over artificial intelligence in weaponry

Elon Musk has joined a long list of high-profile tech leaders and scientists calling for a ban of autonomous weapons created with artificial intelligence technology.

Musk’s is one of many names affixed to an open letter released Monday by the Future of Life Institute (FLI), a Boston-based research organization cofounded by Skype cofounder Jaan Tallinn. The letter addresses the possible future of autonomous weapons, including “armed quadcopters” that rely on artificial intelligence to seek and destroy certain targets without direction from humans (as opposed to existing technologies such as armed drones that are remotely controlled by humans). FLI warns that such AI-controlled weaponry could be in use “within years, not decades” and that they represent “the third revolution in warfare, after gunpowder and nuclear arms.”

In addition to Musk, Stephen Hawking and Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak also signed their names to the open letter, along with dozens of other scientists and tech industry representatives. While AI technology has the potential to do a lot of good for the human race, the letter reads, it could easily lead to “a global arms race” if that technology is applied to advanced autonomous weaponry. As an example of a potential autonomous weapon, the letter imagines “armed quadcopters that can search for and eliminate people meeting certain pre-defined criteria.”

The letter goes on:

“Unlike nuclear weapons, they require no costly or hard-to-obtain raw materials, so they will become ubiquitous and cheap for all significant military powers to mass-produce. It will only be a matter of time until they appear on the black market and in the hands of terrorists, dictators wishing to better control their populace, warlords wishing to perpetrate ethnic cleansing, etc. . . . We therefore believe that a military AI arms race would not be beneficial for humanity. There are many ways in which AI can make battlefields safer for humans, especially civilians, without creating new tools for killing people.”

The CEO of electric car company Tesla Motors, Musk is no stranger to artificial intelligence, having donated millions of dollars to the cause of safe AI technology. Musk’s other projects include his role as CEO of commercial aerospace company SpaceX, which makes unmanned rocket ships.

TIME the big picture

Why Windows 10 Is So Important for Microsoft’s Future

It's trying to correct the mistakes of Windows 8

Windows 8, Microsoft’s last major operating system, was based on flawed logic. Assuming users wanted to adopt its radical new touch-and-tile based interface, Microsoft made it the default option. A vocal number of Windows users hated it. While a tile-based interface may still be the future of Windows, to push that change on users so suddenly was a mistake, and it significantly hurt Microsoft from a competitive standpoint.

Microsoft’s effort to right those wrongs arrives this week with Wednesday’s launch of Windows 10 (the company skipped “Windows 9″). Windows 10 lets users easily restore the old Windows interface, while simultaneously gently nudging people to try the new style, too. I’ve been using a beta version of Windows 10 for some time, and it feels like a solid operating system. Over time, it will probably help Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella reach his goal of having 1 billion Windows-powered devices on the market by the next two-to-three years.

The biggest hurdle facing Nadella in reaching his goal, however, is convincing app developers to build native apps for Windows 10, which will run on desktops as well as tablets and phones. More software options tends to mean more users, after all. But there are only about 500,000 Windows 8 or 8.1 apps available today, compared to 1.3 million for Apple’s iOS and 1.4 million for the Google-owned Android. If Microsoft wants more software options for Windows devices, it has to convince developers Windows is worth their time.

The company took a big step in that direction last Spring, when it said it would offer tools that make it easier to turn web, iOS and Android apps into Windows 10 software. But it remains to be seen how many developers will actually take Microsoft up on the offer. Any amount of Windows development is a real investment in terms of time and money. To start working on Windows apps, developers must be convinced Windows is a growth market where they’ll see a worthwhile return on their investments.

There’s another challenge facing Microsoft and Windows 10, too: A PC market that stubbornly continues to decline. Recent estimates say personal computer sales shrunk about 10% last quarter, meaning they’ll see somewhere between -3% and -5% growth for the year. That means only about 290 million PCs will ship before January, with Microsoft rival Apple selling about 17 million of them. At the same time, Microsoft’s Windows Phone mobile platform has utterly failed to gain any traction in the handset marketplace, meaning it won’t help offset that dropoff in PC sales.

Still, Windows 10, with its shared interface among devices, is among Microsoft’s most crucial strategic moves. If Microsoft and its partners can ship at least 275 million PCs a year — along with mobile devices, Xbox One units and other devices running Windows 10 — it should be able to reach Nadella’s 1 Billion Devices goal by the end of 2019. And if that happens, Windows 10 could prove to be among the most important software Microsoft has ever released.

TIME Samsung

Samsung’s New Monitor Has a Secret Feature You Wouldn’t Expect

The new Samsung SE370, the industry’s first monitor with an integrated wireless charging function for mobile devices.

Because who wants a screen that just shows pictures?

Samsung has unveiled the SE370 — don’t ask us the company names its devices — and has touted it as the world’s first monitor with an integrated wireless charging function for mobile devices, the company announced in a statement.

Using the Qi wireless charging standard, viewers can place their phone on a circular wireless charging area at the base of the monitor. Charging begins automatically, and you can pass the time by wondering if the second season of True Detective on HBO is really worth your time.

The SE370 also features an eye-saver mode that aims to reduce eye strain and the harmful effects of blue light on monitor viewers. No word from the company, however, on pricing and when the monitor might go on sale.

The release of a phone-charging monitor set can be seen as a complement to Samsung’s line of phones, including their just-released Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge. The monitor can also be interpreted as a way to jumpstart sales of their new models, which failed to prevent Samsung from posting its seventh consecutive decline in profits recently. Analysts were quick to put the blame on Samsung’s flagship smartphone series, the Galaxy S6, and a failure to correctly anticipate the demand for both the S6 and S6 Edge.

Samsung still occupies the largest share of the global smartphone market, however, with around 25% of phones shipped. Samsung also leads the global flat TV market with a 29.2% share.

TIME Apple

China Police Shut Down Factory Making $19 Million-worth of Fake iPhones

This picture taken on November 13, 2009
PHILIPPE LOPEZ—AFP/Getty Images A man looking at fake iPhones displayed in a shop at a market known for counterfeit US goods and housed in the metro station connected to the Science and Technology Museum in Shanghai.

Some of the iPhones were sold in the U.S.

China’s reputation for producing counterfeit goods has come up again after police in Beijing busted a company that made and exported more than 41,000 fake iPhones worth as much as 120 million yuan, or $19.4 million, in this year alone.

Police have arrested nine people, including a married couple who were the alleged leaders of the counterfeit ring, after a raid in May on the factory, which was disguised as a gadget maintenance company, according to a statement posted online on Chinese social media site Weibo and in a report by Reuters.

The couple bought second-hand components and fake parts with Apple logos from the manufacturing hub of Shenzhen, and then hired hundreds of workers to reassemble them on six production lines. Some of these fake devices landed up in the U.S., where authorities discovered their presence and alerted Chinese counterparts.

As detailed by The Wall Street Journal, this case is exceptional for its scale and reach. It also buttresses fears that the country has not properly dealt with issues of producing and reselling near-exact replicas of original goods. In 2012, the International Chamber of Commerce estimated the global value of all counterfeit goods reached $1.7 trillion, and China alone accounted for 70% of all counterfeits seized globally.

This is not the first time Apple fakes have been uncovered. In 2001, trade officials found 22 fake Apple retail outlets in the city of Kunming, with such close resemblance that staff working in the fake shops thought they were working in a real Apple store. The country is of critical importance to Apple: in the most recent quarter, revenue in China grew 112% from the previous year $13.2 billion, and the Greater China region is Apple’s second largest market after the U.S.

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