17 December 2014

On the need for an open source smartphone

Threatpost is reporting on Palo Alto Networks' discovery of a backdoor on an Android phone sold primarily in the Chinese and Taiwan markets that allows the vendor (and ostensibly anyone approved by or who impersonates the vendor) to take over your phone.

Whether there is any hyperbole in this or not, it's clear that what they describe could very easily be done. And it thus underscores why we need a fully open source smartphone platform that puts the user in control. A solution that's effectively open only for vendors or leaves the last mile closed (i.e., drivers) just isn't good enough.

Once we have the software solved, we can move on to building hardware that's open in the critical areas. But let's start with the easier to solve software problem. With just the smallest help from manufacturers, we could have this problem solved yesterday.

Threatpost (via Slashdot)

10 December 2014

Here to stay?

As part of my effort to diversify my online data siloing, I've been looking for an alternative to Google Maps/Navigation on my phone. I've slogged through a lot of FOSS and proprietary offerings, but all have had various inadequacies that left me lusting for the latest from Google.

Then today I learned that the part of Nokia that wasn't sold to Microsoft released a beta of their Here mapnav app for Android. So far it has been quite good. All the features I want, some that I didn't know I wanted but am happy to have, and a reasonably usable if less than stunningly attractive UI. I only hope their monetization plans don't gut the app after it comes out of beta.

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