Stealthy Google Play apps recorded calls and stole e-mails and texts

Google has expelled 20 Android apps from its Play marketplace after finding they contained code for monitoring and extracting users’ e-mail, text messages, locations, voice calls, and other sensitive data.

The apps, which made their way onto about 100 phones, exploited known vulnerabilities to “root” devices running older versions of Android. Root status allowed the apps to bypass security protections built into the mobile operating system. As a result, the apps were capable of surreptitiously accessing sensitive data stored, sent, or received by at least a dozen other apps, including Gmail, Hangouts, LinkedIn, and Messenger. The now-ejected apps also collected messages sent and received by Whatsapp, Telegram, and Viber, which all encrypt data in an attempt to make it harder for attackers to intercept messages while in transit.

The apps also contained functions allowing for:

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AMD Ryzen 3 1300X and 1200: True quad-core CPUs for just $130 and $110

Ryzen 3 1300X and Ryzen 3 1200, AMD’s budget-focused quad-core CPUs, launch today for $130 and $110 respectively. UK pricing is yet to be confirmed, but don’t expect much change from £120 and £100 respectively.

Like the rest of the Ryzen line-up, Ryzen 3 offers more cores compared to a similarly priced Intel chip. The Ryzen 3 1200—which features four cores, four threads, a base clock of 3.1GHz and a boost clock of 3.4GHz—is priced below Intel’s Core i3-7100, a dual-core chip with hyperthreading. The Ryzen 3 1300X—which is also a 4C/4T chip with a base clock of 3.5GHz and a boost clock of 3.7GHz—is cheaper than the 2C/4T Intel Core i3-7300. Both sport a TDP of 65W.

While the Intel chips offer higher out-of-the-box clock speeds along with better IPC performance, Ryzen 3 should perform better in multithreaded tasks. AMD’s own Cinebench results put Ryzen 3 ahead of Core i3 by as much as 29 percent. AMD claims Ryzen 3 will match Core i3 in 1080p gaming performance too, thanks to its two extra physical cores.

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iPhone-maker Foxconn to build flat-screen display factory in Wisconsin

Foxconn, one of the electronics manufacturers that makes Apple’s iPhones, is set to reveal plans to build a factory in Wisconsin to product flat-screen displays. Foxconn has been in talks with state governments about investing $7 billion in US manufacturing since Donald Trump took office as President. The announcement will come at an event at the White House today at 4pm CT.

The factory will be located in southeastern Wisconsin in House Speaker Paul Ryan’s congressional district. It’s currently unclear how many jobs this will create in the state—an earlier report from The Chicago Tribune suggests it could create as many as 10,000 jobs, while others state the factory would initially create 3,000 jobs. Back in January, Foxconn Chairman Terry Gou estimated the $7 billion investment, if it went through, could create between 30,000 and 50,000 jobs in the US.

The deal won’t come for free, though. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is reporting Foxconn will receive an incentive package of $1 to $3 billion over the next few years, including state, local, and federal incentives.

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USB 3.2 will make your cables twice as fast… once you’ve bought new devices

If you’ve invested heavily in USB Type-C cables, the USB Promoter Group has some good news for you. The next version of USB, USB 3.2, will double the speed of existing Type-C cables. Cables currently qualified for USB 3.1 generation 1’s 5 Gbps will be able to operate at 10 Gbps; those qualified for generation 2’s 10 Gbps will be able to run at 20 Gbps.

The only small inconvenience is that to use these new speeds you’ll need brand new devices at each end of the cable. But if you’ve managed to find some Type-C cables that actually properly comply with the specification—something rather harder than it should be—then you can rest assured that they’ll continue to work with the new spec, without holding back the performance of your devices.

As for how the cables are able to double in performance, the explanation is simple enough. One of the most compelling features of USB Type-C is that it can be used for more than just USB signalling; other protocols such as Thunderbolt 3 and DisplayPort can use the same ports and the same cabling. To support this flexibility, the ports and cables have four pairs of wires used for high-speed data transmission. While some protocols, such as Thunderbolt 3, use all four of these pairs simultaneously, USB 3.1 only uses two of them—one pair for transmitting data, the other pair for receiving it—with the other two going unused.

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Moto Z2 Force hands-on—Motorola bets the farm on Moto Mods, loses

Remember the Moto Z? The Lenovo-controlled redesign of Motorola’s flagship smartphone bet the farm on a modular phone idea, and the modular system kind of sucked. The modules were expensive, only worked with brand-new Motorola smartphones, and didn’t offer anything useful over a non-modular version of the same accessory. To limit the effect the bulky modules would have on the phone, Motorola slimmed the phone down as much as possible, resulting in the removal of the headphone jack. Motorola sacrificed a lot to make the modular phone idea work, but at the end of the day the modular system never delivered a compelling use case.

Motorola committed to the modular “Moto Mod” system for at least “two more generations” after the Moto Z, which doesn’t leave the company much room to course correct. The “backpack” modular design demands an identical back shape to the Moto Z, with the same size camera bump and massive modular connector in the same place. So say hello to the Moto Z2 Force, the 2017 flagship for Motorola. It looks a lot like the Moto Z(1).

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Elon Musk: Mark Zuckerberg’s understanding of AI is “limited”

There aren’t many people in the world who can justifiably call Mark Zuckerberg a dumb-ass, but Elon Musk is probably one of them.

Early on Tuesday morning, in the latest salvo of a tussle between the two tech billionaires over the dangers of advanced artificial intelligence, Musk said that Zuckerberg’s “understanding of the subject is limited.”

I won’t rehash the entire argument here, but basically Elon Musk has been warning society for the last few years that we need to be careful of advanced artificial intelligence. Musk is concerned that humans will either become second-class citizens under super-smart AIs, or alternatively that we’ll face a Skynet-like scenario against a robot uprising.

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Android O Preview 4 is out—next stop, final release

Google has just announced the availability of the fourth and final Android O Developer Preview. As usual, the preview is available for the Pixel, Pixel XL, Pixel C, Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P, Nexus Player, and the Android Emulator.

Like the third preview, we’re not expecting much in the way of UI changes in this release. It will take some time to find out, but hopefully this preview is a little more stable and performant than the third release. Right now, our Pixel XL test device has a super-slow camera, frequent crashes, and lots of bluetooth issues running the third preview.

The Android O APIs have been stable since release 3, so the major news with these release seems to be a stable release of version 26 of the Android Support Library. Despite the name, the Android Support Library is actually a collection of libraries developers can add to their apps to bring some of the latest Android features to an app, regardless of the host OS version. Support Library 26 brings new physics-based animations, downloadable fonts and emojis, and an auto-sizing TextView.

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Samsung Foundries plans to triple market share in the next five years

A report from Reuters says Samsung Electronics plans to “triple the market share” of its foundry business over the next five years. Samsung plans to “aggressively add new clients,” with E.S. Jung, head of the Samsung foundry division, telling Reuters, “We want to become a strong No. 2 player in the market” behind TSMC.

In May, Samsung officially created a new business unit for its growing foundry operations. The business unit will fight TSMC and Intel for orders from Apple, Qualcomm, and other SoC vendors.

Despite the recent creation of the business unit, Samsung has been doing foundry work since 2005 and is a major player in the high-end SoC space. It exclusively manufactures the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835, which goes into nearly every high-end Android phone. Samsung’s foundry has also done business with Apple in the past, but for the A10 SoC, Apple went exclusively with TSMC.

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