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Next year’s fingerprint sensors could fit into volume rocker buttons, guard against spoofing


Synaptics has provided fingerprint sensors for a number of different smartphones, the HTC One Max among them, but Engadget says that it has a much sleeker version in the works.

Synaptics’ latest fingerprint sensor for mobile devices measures only 3.5 mm wide. It’s so thin and tiny, it can fit inside a volume rocker switch on the side of your smartphone or tablet.

The company says it has also found a way to prevent the use of fake fingerprints by a new algorithm that can distinguish live fingers from printed replicas.

We probably won’t be seeing the new reader make it into phones until next year, though, as Synaptics says mass-production isn’t due to start until the third quarter of this year. There’s as yet no word of which phone brands might be looking to include it.

We’re also expecting to see the company’s pressure-sensitive screens coming to some Android devices later this year.

Image for illustration only:

Add a beautifully illustrated cover art photo to your Facebook Event from Android

More than 75 million pages for private events were created on Facebook last year, and to keep its Events product growing the company is rolling out something that it believes will increase engagement for user-created events without much extra work on the part of the host: cover art themes.

If you’ve ever visited a group, event, or personal page on Facebook, you’ve seen cover art. The big photos which act as banners on these pages provide users with a little added personalization while keeping things within reason (*cough* MySpace *cough*). But at least in the case of events pages, it hasn’t been easy to add cover art from a mobile device — especially considering how the Events product is buried in a “More” menu within the Facebook app. And you have to find a good photo to use in the first place. With the addition of cover art themes to the Facebook app on Android, finding a beautiful, relevant photo to enhance your event is as easy as telling Facebook what the theme of your event is. The app will then present you with a pack of illustrations designed in-house and by outside designers.

The different cover art themes include everything from “Seasons,” which features illustrations of everything you might associate with the different seasons like summer and backyard BBQs, to “Recreation,” which within you might find an illustration of people jumping into a pool. There are 36 pieces of cover art to initially choose from, organized into categories like the aforementioned seasons and recreation. Facebook says it will periodically be adding new themes and illustrations over the coming months.

The big thing that Facebook wants to emphasize with the release of these cover art themes is engagement. The company says that it has found through feedback from users that adding a cover art photo to an event positively impacts the engagement (i.e. RSVPs) it sees. Launching this new Events product feature first on mobile makes sense simply because 55% of all Events activity (and most activity on Facebook period) happens from mobile devices. It’s Android and US-only for now, and will be coming to iOS soon.


HTC One Max fingerprint sensor data left unsecured for apps to see


A report from FireEye Labs (a security firm) reveals that some smartphones with fingerprint sensors aren’t as secure as we’d like them to be. The one device named specifically was the HTC One Max which was supposed to store fingerprint data in a secure enclave that no one could get to. Turns out, that wasn’t the case and any app could have potentially gained access to the fingerprint data and even recreated a bitmap image of the fingerprints stored. Thankfully, HTC fixed the gaping hole “in all regions” before the report went public.


FireEye shared images they managed to gain access to inside the HTC One Max, and cropped them to protect the identity of the owners. What you see to the left is just a small portion of someone’s fingerprint. Data obtained through the One Max’s supposedly ‘secure’ enclave. If there’s one small comfort to be taken from this, it’s that the HTC One Max isn’t the most popular phone around, and by now, it’s also relatively old. What’s more, HTC told The Verge that the flaw was only present in the HTC One Max, and doesn’t effect any of its other phones or devices.

While the One Max is the only device specifically named in the vulnerability report, the company does suggest devices from other manufacturers suffer(ed) with the same issue. What’s more, another issue present in a number of devices was a vulnerability which could potentially allow any app to interrupt the fingerprint scanning process as a user was using the sensor. If taken advantage of, this would see software with the ability to take fingerprint data as it’s being read, in real-time.

All devices mentioned (including the Galaxy S5) and others hinted at, have all be locked down since the vulnerability was discovered. When it comes to fingerprint data, we like to think that the information is being treated with paramount focus. Once someone gets your fingerprint data, there’s not a lot you can do about it. You can’t change it like a PIN, password or pattern.

Samsung has reportedly lost five high-ranking executives in the past two months



CNET reports that over the past two months, “at least” five high-ranking executives have departed from Samsung’s US mobile business, also known as Samsung Telecommunications America, or STA. The report, citing “people familiar with the departures”, claims that the departures have included the head of national sales, the mobile devices product chief, and a key strategist for the company’s Galaxy tablets and Gear smartwatches.

Notably, these departures all come less than a year after Gregory Lee took the reigns as president and CEO of Samsung’s US mobile and electronics business. The departures also come in the midst of the company batting Apple in yet another patent infringement case.

“As our US business continues to diversify and expand, we will continue to build an industry leading organization with people who will contribute to even greater success for Samsung,” Samsung said in a statement. “Some have left voluntarily to pursue other opportunities, and we thank them for their service.”


Google+ for Android now lets teens join Hangouts, Hangouts on Air from mobile


Google updated its Google+ for Android app today, and the most notable tweak allows users to join Hangouts on Air from their mobile devices.

That is not all: Teens can now create and join Hangouts from their mobile devices too. Apparently, they could not before, but Google now lets them take advantage of the social network’s premier video-chat feature on an Android-based smartphone or tablet.

Additional updates include:

  • – Floating timestamp in photos view
  • – Shortcuts for post creation
  • – Ability to report abuse in Events

 Screenshots of the updated app are below. 


Google Analytics gets and Android app and mobile app tracking

As highlighted on the official Google Analytics blog, the company is today announcing the addition of mobile app analytics for three main areas: Acquisition and new users, Engagement (retention, crashes, conversions), and Outcome (app sales and in-app purchases).

New and active users – measure the number of new and active users who launch your app everyday and analyze your most valuable segments.

App versions – keep track of the distribution of active users over the older and newer versions of your app so you know what to support.

Device overview – check out the top mobile devices and OS versions that your app runs on, and optimize the experience for each device.

User behavior – assess how loyal your users are, how frequently they use the app, and the engagement level of each loyalty group.

Engagement flow – visually see the screens, actions and paths users take to move throughout your application in order to optimize usage.

In-App purchases – if you sell virtual or tangible goods in your app, you can measure the number of purchases and the revenue generated.

In addition to the inclusion of the new Mobile App Analytics reports that can be seen in the screenshots above, Google is also rolling out a new Google Analytics Android app (images above via AnalyticsTalk.) If you are interested in checking out the new Mobile App Analytics and app, Google said it would roll out to select whitelisted users. You can sign up to become part of the beta here.


Gmail for mobile updated with pull down to refresh and transitions


Google has announced an update to their Gmail for mobile website. The updates are pretty minor, but we’re grateful for them nonetheless. First off, you can now pull down the message list to refresh your inbox (iOS and Blackberry PlayBook).

Google also included two minor updates: high-res icons and transitions. The high-res icons are pretty, as seen after the break. Lastly, transitions will take place when you tap on a conversation, tap back to the inbox, go to the menu or go back, the view will slide left or right. Check out a few press shots after the break.


Google Sites will automatically render websites for the mobile web


For those of you who use Google Sites to host your website, a new feature is available that allows your site to appear beautifully on the mobile web. Google announced, today, that Google Sites will automatically be rendered for mobile devices. Google will do the following to make your website appear better: align the header layout and top bar, smart handle sidebars, horizontal navigation, and dropdown links. This feature can be activated in the general settings. Besides presenting your site better, Google has also reformatted its own for mobile browsers.