Support For BlackBerry Comes to an End

Blackberry ended support for its smartphone on Tuesday. It was the first smartphone I ever had, so I confess to feeling a little nostalgic about it all! Reuters looked back on the life of the previously indispensable device.

Former U.S. President Barack Obama, one of its most celebrated users, made headlines in 2016 when he was asked to give up his BlackBerry and replace it with an unnamed smartphone. Blackberry lost favor with users with the advent of Apple’s touchscreen iPhones and rival Android devices. In recent years, the company pivoted to making cybersecurity software and embedded operating systems for cars. Social media was alight with tributes. One Twitter user reminisced it was a “fabulous machine” and hoped the company’s phones would be resurrected. In a document published in 2020, the company said it would take steps to decommission legacy services for BlackBerry 10 and BlackBerry OS operating systems and added devices running on them would no longer be supported and may not be able to receive or send data, make phone calls or send messages reliably.

[Image credit: Hafez Husin /]

Apple Exec Says Users Who Want ‘Sideloading’ Move to Android

Apple released a whitepaper [PDF] about the safety of the App Store, and the company’s head of user privacy, Erik Neuenschwander, spoke to Fast Company about it.

Without iOS, users wouldn’t have a mobile operating system platform they could choose from that is impossible to be targeted by malicious sideloading. In Apple’s view, in other words: Do you want the best privacy and security possible? Your choice is iOS. Do you want sideloading? Your choice is Android.

First, “if you want X move to Android” is a bad argument. I like Cory Doctorow’s text on the subject. Second, it’s not “sideloading” it’s downloading your software from the internet like desktop users have enjoyed for decades. Apple has smart people and I’m sure they can figure out a way to bring Gatekeeper to iOS.

Samsung’s ‘iTest’ Puts Android on Your iPhone

Samsung has created a web app called iTest that puts a simulation of Android on your iPhone to convince you to switch.

When you’re in the Samsung iTest app on your iPhone, you’ll even receive a variety of simulated text notifications and phone calls highlighting different things to try out and different ways of communicating with friends. And of course, Samsung is also using this as an opportunity to promote its other Galaxy products, such as Galaxy Buds Pro, Galaxy Watch3, and Galaxy Buds Live.

I think it’s really cool and creative.

Google Bravely Blocks Apps From Scanning Your Other Apps

Google announced that it will stop Android apps from scanning the list of your other apps in Android 11. Why this behavior was accepted before is beyond me.

Google has another page that lists allowable use cases for Play Store apps querying your app list, including “device search, antivirus apps, file managers, and browsers.” The page adds that “apps that must discover any and all installed apps on the device, for awareness or interoperability purposes may have eligibility for the permission.”

Time to make a fake antivirus app which queries your list of apps to sell to other companies.

Google Moves to Create Android Version of Apple Digital CarKey

Apple introduced digital car keys with iOS 13.6, and it looks like Google wants to do the same for Android.

With this new SE standardization effort, Google wants to support “digital keys” for your car, home, and office; mobile driver’s licenses; national IDs; ePassports; and the usual tap-and-go payments. Google notes that this initiative isn’t just for phones and tablets; Wear OS, Android Automotive, and Android TV are also supported.

47,000 iOS Apps Have Misconfigured Cloud Servers

Researchers at Zimperium analyzed 1.3 million Android and iOS apps to detect common cloud misconfigurations. They found that nearly 84,000 Android apps and 47,000 iOS apps have errors.

The researchers found almost 84,000 Android apps and nearly 47,000 iOS apps using public cloud services—like Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud, or Microsoft Azure—in their backend as opposed to running their own servers. Of those, the researchers found misconfigurations in 14 percent of those totals—11,877 Android apps and 6,608 iOS apps—exposing users’ personal information, passwords, and even medical information.

Android Could Mimic iOS 14 App Tracking Transparency

A report from Mark Gurman suggests that Google could add the App Tracking Transparency privacy feature to Android. But it wouldn’t be as private since Google is ultimately an advertising company.

A Google solution is likely to be less strict and won’t require a prompt to opt in to data tracking like Apple’s, the people said […] To keep advertisers happy while improving privacy, the discussions around Google’s Android solution indicate that it could be similar to its planned Chrome web browser changes.

In other words, why even bother?

Plot Twist: Apple Also Has to Follow Google Play Store Rules

Google has updated its Play Store rules, saying that developers have to use Google Play’s billing system. From Daring Fireball:

Most reports are mentioning Spotify and Netflix here, but unless I’m missing something this policy change (or as Google claim, “clarification”) will also apply to Apple Music — the Android version of which charges users who sign up directly. The fact that Apple forces all subscription streaming services to use Apple’s in-app payments on iOS but doesn’t use Google’s on Android for Apple Music has been a source of much heckling.

I’m on the side of Apple in the Epic v Apple case, but if Apple has to follow Google’s similar rules for developers when it hadn’t already, simultaneously enforcing similar rules on its own side for developers, is hilarious to me. I hope that made sense.

iOS 14 vs Android, App Library, Widgets, and Default Apps

Writer Nicole Lee is happy with iOS 14 features that are similar to Android, like widgets, default apps, and App Library. And she wants more of that.

But for me, the real star of iOS 14 is not quite so obvious (It’s so low-key that Apple didn’t mention it at its WWDC keynote). It’s the fact that, at long last, iOS now lets you pick your own default email and browser apps. This one feature, more than any other, is what I feel is a key factor in preventing me from switching to Android. That’s because, as an iOS user, it is not Android that I find attractive — it’s Google.

I’m trying to wrap my head around this argument. I don’t want to be one of those people who say, “If you’re not happy with iOS, then switch to Android.” But it doesn’t make sense to me that setting default apps would stop her from switching, considering Android had that all along. She goes on to say that she hasn’t bothered with iOS 14 widgets and that Android widgets don’t appeal to her. Okay, don’t use them?? Just like you’re not using iOS 14 widgets?? There’s more I have to say but this is running up against the length limitation of our Linked Teasers. Go read.

Underclocked iPhone SE More Powerful Than Android Phones

Some impressive news for Apple: Not only is the iPhone SE more powerful than the most expensive Android phones, it’s doing that while underclocked.

More powerful than Android phones:

Building your own mobile chipset brings many advantages, and Apple is leveraging them today. Google really needs to do the same, and soon.

Underclocked processor:

Looking at the result breakdown of the iPhone SE (2020), the CPU and GPU yield is closer to the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max that are powered by an A12 Bionic platform. Memory speed is the only thing pushing the 256GB iPhone SE way ahead of the XS family with the result of 77,968, which is in line with the iPhone 11 trio.

No speculation on why it’s underclocked, but one possible reason is heat.

The New Motorola Razr is a Blast From the Past

The Motorola Razr is back. It’s still a flip phone but it’s a foldable screen with the old UI skinned on top of it, and it’s US$1,500.

As I fold the Motorola Razr in half for the first time, it becomes clear that the Razr — with its foldable 6.2-inch screen, 16-megapixel double-duty camera and $1,500 price tag — is the best designed, most completely thought-out foldable phone to date. Streamlined. Utterly pocketable. Nostalgic, with a sharp futuristic edge.

I still think foldable phones are a bit gimmicky for now, but a phone that folds vertically makes more sense to me than a phone that unfolds horizontally to become a tablet-like device.