From the paper (PDF link) AppleInsider found:
By exploiting these leaked capabilities, an untrusted app on these affected phones can manage to wipe out the user data on the phones, send out SMS messages (e.g., to premium numbers), record user conversation, or obtain user geolocations all without asking for any permission.
In other words: Android OEMs are playing fast and loose with customer privacy and security when tinkering with Android’s underpinnings, adding features, or making modifications to suit their priorities.
Manufacturers and carriers have been installing what is basically a rootkit on millions of Android, BlackBerry, and Nokia phones to record everything their users do, “ostensibly so carriers and phone manufacturers can do quality control.”
Wired has a video of the software in action, showing how it records a security researcher’s Google search for “hello world” despite using HTTPS (it’s recording keystrokes), as well as every phone number dialed. Numbers are uploaded to Carrier IQ, the company that created this rootkit for carriers and manufacturers, before the phone call is even placed.
Michael Degusta crunches a lot of data on software updates for the iPhone versus Android phones shipped in the US before July 2010. Then he nails the crux of the problem with the Android ecosystem:
It appears to be a widely held viewpoint that there’s no incentive for smartphone manufacturers to update the OS: because manufacturers don’t make any money after the hardware sale, they want you to buy another phone as soon as possible. If that’s really the case, the phone manufacturers are spectacularly dumb: ignoring the 2 year contract cycle & abandoning your users isn’t going to engender much loyalty when they do buy a new phone. Further, it’s been fairly well established that Apple also really only makes money from hardware sales, and yet their long term update support is excellent (see chart).
In other words, Apple’s way of getting you to buy a new phone is to make you really happy with your current one, whereas apparently Android phone makers think they can get you to buy a new phone by making you really unhappy with your current one. Then again, all of this may be ascribing motives and intent where none exist - it’s entirely possible that the root cause of the problem is just flat-out bad management (and/or the aforementioned spectacular dumbness).
If I gave a personal crap about Android, I’d be mad. Then again, fifteen Android phones should be out next week sporting Ice Cream Sandwich, and another 20 the week after that.
Apple used to take the biggest brunt of ‘need to upgrade your device? Just buy a new one’ jokes. Seems like Google, or specifically: its Android OEMs, are happy to step up to that plate.
“If things under the glass move as you move your finger, the illusion of direct manipulation of a digital interface is created. If you move your finger and, then, a split-second later something moves in response to your movement, that breaks the illusion. Apple has fully understood this from the beginning, and the iPhone has always responded to pinches and flicks with nearly 1:1 accuracy, especially in the browser, which is where iPhone users (myself included) seem to spend most of their time.”
T-Mobile must be getting a ton of requests to carry the iPhone, because Cole Brodman, T-Mobile’s Chief Marketing Officer, had to put his name on an official “letter to T-Mobile Customers” on the company blog.
Fun fact: over one million T-Mobile customers are using unlocked iPhones.
The letter basically boils down to “Apple already knows we want the iPhone, but hey look! Android! Choice! ‘Open source’, whateverthehell that means! Physical keyboards!”