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Businesses

Samsung Chief Lee Arrested In Corruption Investigation (reuters.com) 24

According to Reuters, Samsung chief Jay Y. Lee was arrested on Friday over his alleged role in a corruption scandal that led parliament to impeach South Korean President Park Geun-hye. From the report: The 48-year-old Lee, vice chairman of Samsung Electronics Co Ltd (005930.KS), was taken into custody at the Seoul Detention Centre, where he had awaited the court's decision following a day-long, closed-door hearing that ended on Thursday evening. The judge's decision was announced at about 5:30 a.m. (2030 GMT) on Friday, more than 10 hours after Lee, the sprawling conglomerate's third-generation leader, had left the court. The same court rejected a request from prosecutors last month to arrest Lee. On Tuesday, the special prosecutor's office had requested a warrant to arrest him and another executive, Samsung Electronics president Park Sang-jin, on bribery and other charges. The prosecution said it had secured additional evidence and brought more charges against Lee in the latest warrant request. While Lee's detention is not expected to hamper day-to-day operation of Samsung Group companies, which are run by professional managers, experts have said it could affect strategic decision-making by South Korea's biggest conglomerate. Prosecutors have focused their investigations on Samsung's relationship with Park, 65, who was impeached by parliament in December and has been stripped of her powers while the Constitutional Court decides whether to uphold her impeachment. They accused Samsung of paying bribes totaling 43 billion won ($37.74 million) to organizations linked to Choi to secure the government's backing for a merger of two Samsung units. That funding includes Samsung's sponsorship of the equestrian career of Choi's daughter, who is in detention in Denmark, having been on a South Korean wanted list.
Cellphones

FCC Chairman Wants It To Be Easier To Listen To Free FM Radio On Your Smartphone (recode.net) 209

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Recode: Your smartphone has an FM radio in it, only it's unlikely that you're able to use it. That's because in the U.S., less than half of phones actually have the FM tuner turned on. But FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, who just recently assumed the top position at the regulatory agency under President Trump, thinks that should change. In remarks made to the North American Broadcasters Association yesterday, Pai said that it's a public safety issue. Both the former head of the Federal Emergency Management Association and an FCC advisory panel on public safety have advocated for turning on the FM radio capabilities in smartphones, since radio is a reliable source of information when internet or cellphone networks go down in severe weather. Although Pai thinks smartphones should have the FM chip turned on, he doesn't think the government should mandate it: "As a believer in free markets and the rule of law, I cannot support a government mandate requiring activation of these chips. I don't believe the FCC has the power to issue a mandate like that, and more generally I believe it's best to sort this issue out in the marketplace."
Government

Bipartisan Bill Seeks Warrants For Police Use of 'Stingray' Cell Trackers (usatoday.com) 113

Tulsa_Time quotes a report from USA Today: A bipartisan group of House and Senate lawmakers introduced legislation Wednesday requiring police agencies to get a search warrant before they can deploy powerful cellphone surveillance technology known as "stingrays" that sweep up information about the movements of innocent Americans while tracking suspected criminals. "Owning a smartphone or fitness tracker shouldn't give the government a blank check to track your movements," said Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee who introduced the bill with Reps. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, and John Conyers, D-Mich. "Law enforcement should be able to use GPS data, but they need to get a warrant. This bill sets out clear rules to make sure our laws keep up with the times." The legislation introduced Wednesday, called the Geolocation Privacy and Surveillance (GPS) Act, would require a warrant for all domestic law enforcement agencies to track the location and movements of individual Americans through GPS technology without their knowledge. It also aims to combat high-tech stalking by creating criminal penalties for secretly using an electronic device to track someone's movements.
Facebook

DC Inauguration Protestors Are Being Hit With Facebook Data Searches (citylab.com) 341

During the protests over the inauguration of Donald Trump, more than 230 protestors were arrested -- many of which were charged with rioting and had their phones seized by Washington, D.C., police. One of the individuals who was arrested received an email from Facebook's "Law Enforcement Response Team," which raises the question: Did D.C. police ask Facebook to reveal information about this arrestee? CityLab reports: In an emailed response to CityLab's request for more information, Rachel Reid, a spokesperson for the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department, responded that "MPD does not comment on investigative tactics." The District of Columbia United States Attorney's Office -- the agency leading the prosecution of Inauguration protesters -- has not yet responded to CityLab's inquiry. CityLab also asked Facebook about the email. "We don't comment on individual requests," company spokesperson Jay Nancarrow said. He referred CityLab to the site's law enforcement guidelines page and to its Government Requests Report database, where the public can see how many legal processes it receives from countries worldwide. According to this database, U.S. law enforcement requested information on the accounts of 38,951 users over January to June of 2016, and they received some type of data in 80 percent of cases. Which "legal process" authorities sent to Facebook for information on the protester matters considerably in terms of how much data they can seize for investigation. According to Facebook's legal guidelines, a search warrant, for example, could allow Facebook to give away content data including "messages, photos, videos, timeline posts, and location information." A subpoena or a court order would give authorities less information, but would still include the individual's "name, length of service, credit card information, email address(es), and a recent login/logout IP address(es)."
Japan

Tokyo 2020 Olympic Medals To Be Made From Recycled Phones (silicon.co.uk) 56

Mickeycaskill quotes a report from Silicon.co.uk: The medals for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games will be made from recycled mobile phones in an effort to engage the Japanese nation and meet sustainability criteria. The Tokyo 2020 organizing committee has called on the Japanese public to donate their "discarded or obsolete electronic devices" to provide the eight tonnes of metal required for the production of the medals. The production process will reduce this eight tonnes down to around two, enough to produce 5,000 Olympic and Paralympic medals. Collection boxes will be installed in the stores of partner organizations NTT DOCOMO and the Japan Environmental Sanitation Center (JESC) from April, with the collection ending when the eight-tonne target is reached.
Power

Researcher Develops Explosion-Proof Lithium Metal Battery With 2X Power of Lithium-Ion (hothardware.com) 124

MojoKid writes: Tufts University professor and founder of Ionic Materials, Mike Zimmerman, hopes that his resilient ionic battery technology will finally replace Lithium Ion. The reason scientists and researchers pay so much attention to battery design is because today's lithium-ion technologies have several downsides, as we saw recently with Samsung's Galaxy Note 7 recall. If you were to take apart a lithium-ion battery, you'd find a positive electrode called the anode and a negatively charged electrode called the cathode. There's a thin separator that sits between the anode and cathode. Everything else is filled up with liquid, or electrolyte. Charging the battery causes positively charged ions to flow through the liquid from the negative side to the positive side. As you use the battery, the ions flow in the opposite direction. However, the electrolyte is extremely flammable and they can explode when pierced or overheated. Zimmerman's ionic battery trades the flammable liquid for a piece of plastic film to serve as the electrolyte. It isn't prone to overheating and catching fire. The same goes for piercing, cutting or otherwise destroying the battery. Also, unlike lithium-ion batteries, Zimmerman's ionic batteries use actual lithium-metal, which can store twice as much power. Lithium-ion batteries don't contain lithium-metal because they're even more prone to overheating and exploding than lithium-ion, but that risk is removed by Zimmerman swapping out the liquid electrolyte for a solid. Further reading: Yahoo News
Television

Roku Owners: Comcast Is About To Sell You Cable TV Without the Cable Box (bloomberg.com) 108

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bloomberg: Comcast is making its Xfinity TV service available to subscribers with Roku set-top players via a new app, paving the way for customers of the nation's largest cable provider to watch live programming without the cost or hassle of a cable box. Roku is the first set-stop box to offer the Xfinity TV service, Comcast said in a statement Tuesday. During a test period, subscribers will have to hang on to their cable devices. When the app formally rolls out later this year, they'll be able sign up without renting a cable box. While Comcast expects the majority of its customers to opt for the typical setup, traditional pay-TV providers are trying to be more flexible about where and how people can watch TV given the popularity of streaming services like Netflix and Amazon and the boxes that offer them. Customers with Roku players will be able to watch live TV, browse on-demand libraries and record shows, just as they can with Comcast's boxes. Those who use the Roku as their primary device instead of Comcast's X1 device will receive a $2.50 monthly credit, the company said.
Medicine

Medical Startup To Begin Testing At-Home Brain Zapping Devices (ieee.org) 59

"A doctor's prescription for clinical depression could one day sound like this: In the comfort of your own home, slip on a brain-zapping headband a few times per week," reports IEEE Spectrum. Slashdot reader the_newsbeagle writes: This isn't old-school brain zapping: It's not electroshock therapy... While "transcranial direct current stimulation" is being investigated as a treatment for all sorts of neuropsychiatric disorders, many researchers and doctors think depression may be the killer app. A South Korean company called Ybrain thinks its consumer-friendly headband for depression will be the product that makes this treatment mainstream...
Ybrain plans to test the device on thousands of depression patients in 70 hospitals in Korea, according to the article, then "use data from all those patients to build a case for approval in Europe...and then in the U.S." The company's founder and CEO believes that after the FDA approves the first brain-zapping device, "it will be seen as a mainstream treatment."
Android

Remote Attackers Can Force Samsung Galaxy Devices Into Never-Ending Reboot Loop (helpnetsecurity.com) 71

Orome1 quotes a report from Help Net Security: A single SMS can force Samsung Galaxy devices into a crash and reboot loop, and leave the owner with no other option than to reset it to factory settings and lose all data stored on it. This is because there are certain bugs in older Samsung Galaxy phones and tablets that can be triggered via SMS, and used by attackers to force maliciously crafted configuration messages onto the users' device. The bugs allow these types of messages to be executed without user interaction. As the ContextIS researchers who discovered the vulnerabilities explained, this avenue of attack can be abused by crooks to hold users' devices for ransom. "First a ransom note is sent, if ignored then the malicious configuration message can be sent," they noted. If the victim pays up, a configuration message can later be sent to stop the rebooting. The vulnerabilities in question, CVE-2016-7988 and CVE-2016-7989, can be triggered through SMS on the S4, S4 Mini, S5 and Note 4, but not on newer Samsung devices. "It's worth noting that although newer phones such as the S6 and S7 aren't affected over the air, [a similar result] could be accomplished by a malicious app abusing CVE-2016-7988," they added. These specific issues are related to modifications Samsung made to to the Android telephony framework and are found in a Samsung-specific application for handling carrier messages. They've since been patched (November 2016).
Android

A Lack of Alternatives To Qualcomm Is Hurting the Ecosystem (androidauthority.com) 73

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Android Authority: Smartphone enthusiasts are probably eagerly awaiting the arrival of Qualcomm's flagship Snapdragon 835 SoC, which was unveiled back at the beginning of January. However, recent revelations suggest that consumers could be in for an unexpected wait, and we're unlikely to see an alternative manufacturer step in to fill the void given the current market conditions. The report claiming that LG G6 won't ship with the latest Snapdragon 835 flagship SoC is looking like bad luck for LG and a blow to consumers looking to spend their cash on the latest mobile technology. If true, this is also likely to have an impact on sales, as consumers hold out for better technology released in just a few months time. It's not only LG facing this prospect though, HTC, Sony, and all the other manufacturers that typically make announcements early in the year look to be facing a situation where they will be using the same processor as last year for early 2017 models. This scenario is unprecedented in modern Android history. The past few years have seen manufacturers kick start the year with flagship releases packing new processing technology. Unfortunately for these OEMs, there aren't any competing processors to use as a direct alternative to the delayed Snapdragon 835. The choice is then either to launch with an older technology or delay their product until the 835 is ready. While many will focus on performance stagnation, using the same chip also means that handsets are bound by the same feature sets, and so camera, video, virtual reality, and other capabilities won't be moving on either. Samsung's Exynos and HiSilicon's Kirin series are the closest SoCs to the 821 and 835 in terms of performance and features, but these are primarily reserved for their maker's own flagships and aren't rolled off the production line in anything close to enough numbers to meet global demand. This situation is a bit of a catch-22, with manufacturers unlikely to buy up expensive foundry lines without a strong indication that OEMs will use their products, while a lack of availability means major releases can't pick up these chips.
Android

Google's Pixel 2 To Feature Improved Camera, CPU and Higher Price, Says Report (9to5google.com) 105

Google's Pixel smartphone was released in October last year, but we're already starting to hear about the "Pixel 2" successor. The "reliable" source told 9to5Google that the next Google flagship will feature an improved camera, faster CPU and higher price tag. Interestingly, the source notes a "budget" Pixel is in the works. 9to5Google reports: We're also now being told, however, that Google is once again focusing intensely on the camera with Pixel 2, that the device is currently being tested with improved chipsets from two different manufacturers, and that it will bring a higher price. Finally, the same source says Google has lately been testing lower-end Pixel devices which would bring lesser specs and a much lower price tag. As for waterproofing, this is a slight change in tone today from this same source that before told us the feature would "definitely" be coming with the next Pixel. Now we're told that the feature is "still on the table," which would suggest a less firm position from Google on the feature. More interestingly, we're now told that -- just like with last year's model -- the Pixel 2's camera will be a major focus for the Mountain View company. Our source says that, specifically, Google is aiming to master low light photography with the next-generation device. We're further told that the phone's camera will "not have large MP size," but will rather "compensate in extra features." Our source says that multiple Pixel 2 models are being tested now with improved chipsets: "some with Snapdragon 83X chips, others with Intel chips." We're also told that MediaTek was at one point collaborating with Google on the Pixel 2, but isn't any longer. Finally, our source has indicated to us that Google is internally testing a "few" prototypes of a device they referred to as "Pixel 2B" which would purportedly be released either "alongside or shortly after Pixel 2." This phone would bring with it a lower-price point and less powerful hardware, and would be "aimed at different markets," our source says. As for the price of the next Pixel, we're told that -- as of the time of this writing at least -- Google is expecting that there will be "eat least" a $50 USD increase in price.
Android

Samsung's Galaxy S8 Will Feature a Headphone Jack, Desktop Dock, 'Infinity Display' and More, Says In-Depth Report (theguardian.com) 146

The Guardian has published a considerable amount of information on Samsung's upcoming Galaxy S8 smartphone. The phone will reportedly launch in March with a headphone jack and a desktop dock, among other features. From the report: Samsung's Galaxy S8 will come in two sizes, have an almost bezel-less, edge-to-edge "infinity" display and an iris scanner, the Guardian has learned. The two variants will have screens in the 5in to 6in region, with the devices having the same or smaller proportions of previous versions of Samsung's flagship smartphone but with larger displays, according to several well placed sources talking to the Guardian. The S7 was available with either a 5.1in and 5.5in screen. The two smartphones are codenamed Dream and Dream 2, representing the smaller and larger Galaxy S8 respectively, according to two sources. Both versions will have screens that curve down at the left and right sides of the device similar to the Galaxy S7 Edge, two sources have said. The so-called "infinity display" will cover the majority of the front of the device, with very little body on the top and bottom of the screen not dedicated to the display. Two sources said there wasn't even room to put a logo or brand name on the front of the device. Samsung has moved the fingerprint scanner to the back of the device, multiple sources said. The Galaxy S8 will have a traditional 3.5mm headphone socket, according to several sources. Samsung also plans a range of new accessories for the Galaxy S8. Two sources said a new dock and service that turns the Galaxy S8 into an Android desktop computer, connecting to a monitor, keyboard and other peripherals called DeX (desktop extension) will be available. DeX has been likened to Microsoft's Continuum, which connects Windows smartphones to a desktop extension to allow them to be used as Windows PCs, but only with Windows Store applications.
Android

Netflix Will Now Let Android Users Download Content Onto SD Storage (consumerist.com) 62

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Consumerist: Now that Netflix has finally opened the doors to offline viewing, subscribers have the ability to download content and watch it later. That's all well and good if you've got plenty of space on your device, but not so useful if you don't. Android users will have some breathing room now, however, as Netflix's most recent app update lets users set their download location to either internal storage or an SD card. As The Verge notes, offline content has a time limit, so it's not like you can download all the movies and TV shows your heart desires and leave them there forever. The feature doesn't support any Android devices that have a microSD slot, either.
Iphone

Apple Is Releasing a Find My AirPods Feature (theverge.com) 98

For those of you worried about losing an AirPod or two, you may soon be able to find some peace of mind. According to The Wall Street Journal, Apple is adding AirPods support to the Find My iPhone app with the release of iOS 10.3, which will be released in the coming weeks. The Verge reports: Inside the app, AirPods owners will be able to see either the current or last known location of their headphones (although it seems like Apple will determine that based on where the case was last seen, not the actual earbuds). That location data is going to be pretty broad, so it'll really only be good for confirming whether your AirPods are at home or got left behind at work or a coffee shop -- it's not granular enough to say where within your home they might be. To help out with the trickier issue of locating missing headphones that have been separated from their case, Apple is able to blast sound out of each earbud (so long as it has some remaining power). That's by no means an assurance that you'll find a lost earbud, especially if you drop it outside, but it could be pretty helpful if one goes missing around the house.
Microsoft

Microsoft Patent Hints At Foldable Tablet Design For Surface Phone (trustedreviews.com) 26

A new patent has surfaced from Microsoft that may shed some light on the company's upcoming Surface Phone. The patent, which was first filed in October 2014 and recently made public, details a 2-in-1 foldable device with a flexible hinge that can act both as a smartphone and a tablet. TrustedReviews reports: The device in the filings can be configured into various shapes, either folded out like tablets, or folded back inwards to create a smaller phone-like handset. There's also the opportunity to place it in a tent-mode much like Lenovo's range of Yoga hybrids which can be propped up to make it easier to watch media. Microsoft has taken a universal approach to Windows 10, in that the OS is designed to work across multiple devices, so a Surface Phone that could transform into another mobile product would make a lot of sense in terms of demonstrating Windows 10s capabilities. The inventor of the product in the patent is listed as Kabir Siddiqui, the man behind Microsoft's successful patent for the Surface kickstand and Surface camera angle -- which bodes well for this latest design in the long run. Unfortunately, there's every chance we'll never see this technology in a retail-ready product from Microsoft, though some version of the foldable device could well arrive.

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