Mozilla brings its private web browser Firefox Focus to Android


Late last year, Firefox introduced a new, private web browser for iPhone, called Firefox Focus. The browser by default blocks ad trackers and can erase your browsing history, including passwords and cookies. Now, over a half-year later, Firefox is bringing the Focus browser to Android devices, with some added functionality.

Like the iOS version, Firefox Focus remains a minimalistic browser experience. There aren’t many configuration options, or even things you’d think of as core browser features – like support for favoriting websites or opening new tabs. Instead, Firefox Focus is designed more for quick searches, or direct visits to URLs, without having to worry about whether your session is being tracked in some way.

Unfortunately, its lack of tabs in favor of simplicity is…

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Google Play introduces ‘Android Excellence’ collections that showcase editorially selected top apps and games


At WWDC this month, Apple introduced an entirely revamped App Store that puts a much greater focus on editorial, with plans for stories about the apps, how to’s, interviews, and more, in addition to regular postings of curated lists and “app of the day” type features. Today, Google announced its own plans to expand editorial involvement on Google Play, with the launch of its new “Android Excellence” program.

The idea with “Android Excellence” is offer Google Play’s editors the ability to showcase the highest-quality apps and games on Android on a rotating basis. Like Apple’s “Editor’s Choice” round-ups which often highlight new iOS features or are top-tier examples of great design, the new “Android Excellence” collections will also be used to highlight…

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Android Pay expands to Canada


Android Pay launched in Canada on Wednesday, with support for a number of major banks at launch, and additional banks to be added soon. The Android Pay debut in Canada was teased at Google’s I/O developer conference keynote earlier this month, and reported as imminent last week by MobileSyrup.

The launch today includes support for Visa and MasterCard credit and debit, as well as Interac debit cards (starting June 5) from leading national banks BMO, CIBC and Scotiabank, as well as from smaller regional and specialist institutions like ATB Financial, PC Financial, Desjardins, Banque Nationale and ATB Financial. Android devices running version 4.4 of the OS or higher will be able to add cards from these banks and make mobile payments at compatible, tap-enabled terminals – which are…

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Android creator Andy Rubin’s Essential Phone looks stunning and will cost $699


There’s been much speculation around the new project from Andy Rubin, the man responsible for developing Android, and now we have the answer. Well, part of the answer, at least.

Essential, Rubin’s new company, unveiled its first smartphone alongside an Amazon Echo-like device and a new operating system called “Ambient”. The three products were unveiled to the Verge, but all that Essential is providing at this point is renders and graphics so we’ll have to wait on the final verdict.

The phone is the most anticipated item here, and the firm has teased its unveiling over the past month.

The first thing to notice from the renders — again, these are company supplied graphics not independent product shots — is the impressive edge-to-edge screen and tiny bezel. The design is…

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Cloak & Dagger is a newly-discovered Android exploit that lets hackers hide malicious activity


Researchers from Georgia Institute of Technology have released a full report on a new attack vector that affects Android up to version 7.1.2. The exploit, called Cloak & Dagger, uses Android’s design and screen behaviors against users, effectively hiding activity behind various app-generated interface elements that lets a hacker grab screen interactions and hide activity behind seemingly innocuous screens.

The team, Yanick Fratantonio, Chenxiong Qian, Simon Pak Ho Chung, and Wenke Lee, have created proof of concept users of the exploit including a bit of malware that draws an invisible grid over the Android screen that exactly mirrors – and can capture – the onscreen keyboard.

“The possible attacks include advanced clickjacking, unconstrained keystroke recording, stealthy…

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Chinese trio carve up a quarter of global smartphone sales in Q1: Gartner


The global smartphone market grew 9.1 per cent in the first quarter of this year, according to Gartner’s latest stats, and growth is being driven by a trio of Chinese device makers.

Smartphone sales in the quarter totaled 380 million units, with China’s top three mobile makers, Huawei, Oppo and Vivo, collectively carving out almost a quarter (24 per cent) of those sales, according to the analyst, up seven percentage points year on year.

The analyst says smartphone buyers are spending a bit more to get a better device, which is pushing up the average selling prices of devices and positively affecting the three makers as they have focused on adding higher end features at affordable price points.

Aggressive marketing and sales promotions have also helped the three grow by…

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Ford to add Android Auto and CarPlay to 2016 Ford SYNC 3 cars via update


Ford is updating a large number of 2016 model year cars equipped with SYNC 3 infotainment software, adding Android Auto and CarPlay to the vehicles with a free, over-the-air update via Wi-Fi, or using either USB or going through their dealer. The upgrade will be available for around 800,000 vehicles in total, giving a huge number of Ford car owners the chance to get big infotainment improvements without having to buy a newer model car.

The OTA update option is also a big step for Ford – it’s the company’s first for software, and it’s one of the major reasons that Ford recently hired around 400 new mobile smartphone engineers, the company tells me.

For CarPlay, users will still also need to upgrade their vehicle’s USB hub to make this work (which will also incur a dealer…

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In the car with Android in the Car

One of the areas that Google talked up regarding Android beyond phones at I/O this year was in vehicles, and Android in the Car was the main way it’s expanding its in-car presence. The expansion of its Android Auto software offers deeper integration with vehicle infotainment and climate control systems, and putting Assistant front and center for more voice control inside the car and out.

The system offers Google Maps navigation, of course, as demoed in a Volvo V90 outfitted with Android in the Car specifically for demonstration purposes. But it also offers easy access to your cabin AC and heat, and you can ask the Volvo to simply cool things down or heat them up to turn the air on or off. The Android-based OS can also control windows, sunroof and more.

You can also use…

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Google will now let users pay with any card they have on file, not just those saved in Android Pay


Google is today making it easier for users to make payments within third-party apps and mobile website, as well as in Google Assistant, when they’re out and about. No longer will the company rely that the card users want to pay with be preloaded in Android Pay – they’ll be able to choose from any payment card they’ve previously used with their Google Account.

The company says it’s expanding this access to payment options through its Google Payment API – the tool that lets merchants and developers integrate payments in their own sites and applications.

The move makes sense as Android Pay is struggling for traction compared with rival Apple Pay. As one report noted in April, Apple Pay has 86 million users versus just 24 million for Android Pay.

However, Google itself…

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