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Businesses

MasterCard To Approve Online Payments Using Your Selfies 75 75

An anonymous reader writes: MasterCard is experimenting with a new program: approving online purchases with a facial scan. Once you’re done shopping online, instead of a password, the service will require you to snap a photo of your face, so you won’t have to worry about remembering a password. The Stack reports: "MasterCard will be joining forces with tech leaders Apple, BlackBerry, Google, Samsung and Microsoft as well as two major banks to help make the feature a reality. Currently the international group uses a SecureCode solution which requires a password from its customers at checkout. The system was used across 3 billion transactions last year, the company said. It is now exploring biometric alternatives to protect against unauthorized payment card transactions. Customers trialling the new technologies are required to download the MasterCard app onto their smart device. At checkout two authorization steps will be taken; fingerprint recognition and facial identification using the device's camera. The system will check for blinking to avoid criminals simply holding a photograph up to the lens."
Hardware Hacking

Celebrating Workarounds, Kludges, and Hacks 145 145

itwbennett writes: We all have some favorite workarounds that right a perceived wrong (like getting around the Wall Street Journal paywall) or make something work the way we think it ought to. From turning off annoying features in your Prius to getting around sanctions in Crimea and convincing your Android phone you're somewhere you're not, workarounds are a point of pride, showing off our ingenuity and resourcefulness. And sometimes artful workarounds can even keep businesses operating in times of crisis. Take, for example, the Sony employees, who, in the wake of the Great Hack of 2014 when the company's servers went down, dug out old company BlackBerrys that, while they had been abandoned, had never had their plans deactivated. Because BlackBerrys used RIM's email servers instead of Sony's, they could still communicate with one another, and employees with BlackBerrys became the company's lifeline as it slowly put itself back together. What hacks and workarounds keep your life sane?
Blackberry

Is BlackBerry Launching an Android Phone? 113 113

An anonymous reader writes: According to a Reuters report BlackBerry may launch an Android phone with a hardware keyboard. If true, it's a definite shift in their business model. "We don't comment on rumors and speculation, but we remain committed to the BlackBerry 10 operating system, which provides security and productivity benefits that are unmatched," said the company in an email. Google declined to comment.
The Courts

Blackberry Defeats Typo In Court, Typo To Discontinue Sales of Keyboard 67 67

New submitter juniorkindergarten writes: Blackberry and Typo have reached a final settlement that effectively ends Typo selling its iPhone keyboard accessory. Blackberry took Typo to court for twice for patent infringement over the copying of Blackberry's keyboard design. Blackberry and Typo first battled it out in court, with Typo losing for copying the Blackberry Q10 keyboard design. Typo redesigned its keyboard, and again Blackberry sued them for patent infringement. The final result is that Typo cannot sell keyboards for screens less than 7.9", but can still sell keyboards for the iPad and iPad air. Exact terms were not disclosed.
Blackberry

Microsoft Reportedly May Acquire BlackBerry 129 129

New submitter techtsp writes: Microsoft is just one one of many companies reportedly looking to get a bigger piece of the enterprise mobile market by buying BlackBerry. Reports claim that Chinese firms including Huawei, Lenovo and Xiaomi are also interested in picking up BlackBerry following the company's recent return to profitability. This report comes on the heels of BlackBerry announcing it is cutting jobs across its global business units in an attempt to consolidate its software, hardware and applications business.
United States

Officials Say Russian Hackers Read Obama's Unclassified Emails 109 109

An anonymous reader points out that Russian hackers reportedly obtained some of President Obama’s emails when the White House’s unclassified computer system was hacked last year. Some of President Obama's email correspondence was swept up by Russian hackers last year in a breach of the White House's unclassified computer system that was far more intrusive and worrisome than has been publicly acknowledged, according to senior American officials briefed on the investigation. The hackers, who also got deeply into the State Department's unclassified system, do not appear to have penetrated closely guarded servers that control the message traffic from Mr. Obama's BlackBerry, which he or an aide carries constantly. But they obtained access to the email archives of people inside the White House, and perhaps some outside, with whom Mr. Obama regularly communicated. From those accounts, they reached emails that the president had sent and received, according to officials briefed on the investigation.
Businesses

Apple Extends Its Trade-In Program 55 55

Mark Wilson writes "Earlier in the month it was reveal that Apple was about to start offering gift cards as part of a trade-in program for people buying new a new iPhone. The updated program has now gone live so you can take your old Apple device, or non-Apple smartphone to an Apple store, or mail it in to receive credit. The credit can be used in store or online against the purchase of a new Apple device, and this program expansion is the latest move from Apple to try to tempt users away from other platforms. You can check online to see how much you can expect to receive for your existing phone and decide whether it's worth your while. Hint: it might not be.
Blackberry

BlackBerry's Latest Experiment: a $2,300 'Secure' Tablet 95 95

An anonymous reader writes: After missing the boat on smartphones, BlackBerry has been throwing everything they can at the wall to see what sticks. From making square phones to insisting users want physical keyboards, their only standard is how non-standard they've become. Now they're expanding this strategy to the tablet market with a security-centric tablet that costs $2,300. And they're not doing it alone — the base device is actually a Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5. The tablet runs Samsung Knox boot tech, as well as software from IBM and encryption specialist Secusmart (which BlackBerry recently purchased). The device will be targeted at businesses and organizations who have particular need for secure devices.

"Organizations deploying the SecuTablet will be able to set policies controlling what apps can run on the devices, and whether those apps must be wrapped, said IBM Germany spokesman Stefan Hefter. The wrapping process—in which an app is downloaded from a public app store, bundled with additional libraries that encrypt its network traffic and intercept Android 'intents' for actions such as cutting or pasting data, then uploaded to a private app store—ensures that corporate data can be protected at rest, in motion and in use, he said. For instance, it can prevent data from a secure email being copied and pasted into the Facebook app running on the same device—yet allow it to be pasted into a secure collaboration environment, or any other app forming part of the same 'federation,' he said."
Canada

Quebecker Faces Jail For Not Giving Up Phone Password To Canadian Officials 340 340

wired_parrot writes Canadian customs officials have charged a 38-year old man with obstruction of justice after he refused to give up his Blackberry phone password [on arrival in Canada by plane from the Dominican Republic]. As this is a question that has not yet been litigated in Canadian courts, it may establish a legal precedent for future cases. From the article: [Law professor Rob] Currie says the issue of whether a traveller must reveal a password to an electronic device at the border hasn't been tested by a court. "This is a question that has not been litigated in Canada, whether they can actually demand you to hand over your password to allow them to unlock the device," he said. "One thing for them to inspect it, another thing for them to compel you to help them."
Ubuntu

Why It's Important That the New Ubuntu Phone Won't Rely On Apps 140 140

tedlistens writes: To tackle the chicken-and-egg problem faced by the Windows Phone or Blackberry — you need an app ecosystem to gain market share, but you need market share in order to entice developers to your platform — Canonical, the creators of the free, open-source Linux-based OS Ubuntu, have taken a novel approach with their new phone, which will be launched in Europe next week: The phone — the Aquaris E4.5 Ubuntu Edition, made with Spanish manufacturers BQ — won't feature apps. Instead, it will have a new user experience paradigm called Scopes. These are "essentially contextual home-screen dashboards that will be much simpler and less time-consuming to develop than full-on native apps." For instance, the music Scope will pull songs from Grooveshark alongside music stored locally on your device, without strong differentiation between the two. The user experience, writes Jay Cassano at Fast Company, seems a lot more intuitive than the "app grids" that dominate most devices.
Blackberry

Blackberry CEO: Net Neutrality Means Mandating Cross-Platform Apps 307 307

DW100 writes In a bizarre public blog post the CEO of BlackBerry, John Chen, has claimed that net neutrality laws should include forcing app developers to make their services available on all operating systems. Chen even goes as far as citing Apple's iMessage tool as a service that should be made available for BlackBerry, because at present the lack of an iMessage BlackBerry app is holding the firm back. Some excerpts from Chen's plea: Netflix, which has forcefully advocated carrier neutrality, has discriminated against BlackBerry customers by refusing to make its streaming movie service available to them. Many other applications providers similarly offer service only to iPhone and Android users. ... Neutrality must be mandated at the application and content layer if we truly want a free, open and non-discriminatory internet. All wireless broadband customers must have the ability to access any lawful applications and content they choose, and applications/content providers must be prohibited from discriminating based on the customer’s mobile operating system. Since "content providers" are writing code they think makes sense for one reason or another (expected returns financial or psychic), a mandate to write more code seems like a good way to re-learn why contract law frowns on specific performance.
Blackberry

Samsung In Talks To Acquire Troubled BlackBerry For $7.5 Billion 59 59

MojoKid writes Shares of BlackBerry (BBRY) were up nearly thirty percent as the closing bell sounded this afternoon. What could possibly be behind this sudden spike in interest in shares of a smartphone company whose glory days faded years ago? Well, it turns out that BlackBerry may be ripe for the picking and Samsung is ready to make an offer that John Chen and BlackBerry's board may be reluctant to refuse. According to a report, Samsung is willing to pay roughly $7.5 billion for BlackBerry's assets (including its patent portfolio). Samsung's sudden interest to make a deal comes just two months after the two companies entered a strategic partnership to bring BlackBerry's BES12 cross-platform EMM solution to Galaxy smartphones and tablets that feature embedded KNOX technology. At the time, the two companies indicated that they were looking forward to future ventures together.
Blackberry

BlackBerry's Survival Plan: the Internet of Things 74 74

jfruh writes BlackBerry's smartphone business is famously floundering, but the company isn't betting everything on its new retro physical-keyboard phones. It's also making moves into distributed, embedded, and asset-tracking computing for homes, cars, and businesses, which can all be lumped under the currently trendy "Internet of Things" buzzword umbrella. The company got a head start when it acquired the QNX OS in 2010, which was intended as the basis of a new smartphone OS but which already had credibility in the embedded market.
Android

De-escalating the Android Patent War 63 63

In 2011, a consortium formed from Microsoft, Apple, Sony, BlackBerry, and others spent $4.5 billion acquiring Nortel's patent portfolio, which contained a great deal of ammunition that could be used against Android. That threat has now been reduced. Today, 4,000 of the patents were purchased by a corporation called RPX, which has licensing agreements from Google, Cisco, and dozens more companies. [RPX is] a company that collects a bunch of patents with the goal of using those patents for member companies for defensive purposes. Even though RPX has generally been "good," the business model basically lives because of patent trolling. Its very existence is because of all the patent trolling and abuse out there. In this case, though, it's making sure that basically anyone can license these patents under FRAND (fair and reasonable, non-discriminatory) rates. The price being paid is approximately $900 million. While that article points out that this is considerably less than the $4.5 billion Microsoft and Apple paid originally, again, this is only 4,000 of the 6,000 patents, and you have to assume the 2,000 the other companies kept were the really valuable patents. In short, this is basically Google and Cisco (with some help from a few others) licensing these patents to stop the majority of the lawsuits -- while also making sure that others can pay in as well should they feel threatened. Of course, Microsoft, Apple and the others still have control over the really good patents they kept for themselves, rather than give to Rockstar. And the whole thing does nothing for innovation other than shift around some money.
Blackberry

Boeing and BlackBerry Making a Self-Destructing Phone 75 75

Rambo Tribble writes: It sounds like a Mission: Impossible scenario, but aerospace company Boeing is teaming with Canadian phone maker BlackBerry to produce an ultra-secure mobile phone that "self-destructs." The phone uses encryption on calls and is intended to serve the high-security needs of government and industry. As Blackberry CEO John Chen said, "We're pleased to announce that Boeing is collaborating with BlackBerry to provide a secure mobile solution for Android devices utilizing our BES 12 platform. That, by the way, is all they allow me to say."

No word yet if you'll need the services of the bomb squad when you go over your minutes.
Blackberry

Review: The BlackBerry Classic Is One of the Best Phones of 2009 132 132

Molly McHugh writes When Apple launched the iPhone in 2007, and I owned a BlackBerry Curve. To me, my BlackBerry was close to being the absolute perfect smartphone. Today, BlackBerry revealed the Classic, a phone that is designed to make me—and everyone who owned a BlackBerry before the touchscreen revolution—remember how much we loved them.
Verizon

Verizon "End-to-End" Encrypted Calling Includes Law Enforcement Backdoor 170 170

An anonymous reader sends this quote from TechDirt: As a string of whistle blowers like former AT&T employee Mark Klein have made clear abundantly clear, the line purportedly separating intelligence operations from the nation's incumbent phone companies was all-but obliterated long ago. As such, it's relatively amusing to see Verizon announce this week that the company is offering up a new encrypted wireless voice service named Voice Cypher. Voice Cypher, Verizon states, offers "end-to-end" encryption for voice calls on iOS, Android, or BlackBerry devices equipped with a special app made by Cellcrypt.

Verizon says it's initially pitching the $45 per phone service to government agencies and corporations, but would ultimately love to offer it to consumers as a line item on your bill. Of course by "end-to-end encryption," Verizon means that the new $45 per phone service includes an embedded NSA backdoor free of charge. Apparently, in Verizon-land, "end-to-end encryption" means something entirely different than it does in the real world.
Transportation

Ford Ditches Microsoft Partnership On Sync, Goes With QNX 233 233

Freshly Exhumed writes: Ford's in-car infotainment system known as Sync will soon evolve to add a capacitive touch screen, better integration with smartphone apps and, eventually, support for Android Auto and Apple CarPlay in version 3, thanks to a switch of operating systems. After years of teaming with Microsoft, the automobile giant has switched to BlackBerry's QNX, a real time operating system renowned for stability.
Encryption

BlackBerry Clears Hurdle For Voice Crypto Acquisition 27 27

angry tapir writes BlackBerry is now free to integrate German security vendor Secusmart's voice encryption technology in its smartphones and software, after the German government approved its acquisition of the company. BlackBerry CEO John Chen still wants his company to be the first choice of CIOs that want nothing but the best security as he works to turn around the company's fortunes.
Blackberry

BlackBerry Will Buy Your iPhone For $550 120 120

mpicpp points out that BlackBerry is hoping to get iPhone owners to switch to Passport smartphones by promising up to $550 to trade in their phones. "The promotion, which starts Monday, promises as much as $550 to iPhone owners who trade in their handsets in favor of BlackBerry's Passport. The actual trade-in value depends on the iPhone, with the iPhone 4S worth up to $90 and the iPhone 6 worth up to $400. (The iPhone 6 Plus is not eligible.) BlackBerry then sweetens the deal by kicking in an additional $150 as a topper for each iPhone. The deal will run through February 13, but it's good only in North America. Customers must buy the $599 to $699 unlocked Passport phone through either BlackBerry's website or Amazon. The trade-in amount comes in the form of a Visa prepaid card."