BlackBerry’s Privacy Shade App Prevents Bystanders From Peeking Into Your Phone

While laptop makers have introduced several workarounds to avoid nosy eyes from peeking from behind, smartphones haven’t really been able to address that pain point. Users, especially with large smartphone screens, have always found people (particularly the nosy ones) leaning over to read that personal text or see what you’re browsing. BlackBerry is trying to address this woe by launching an app called Privacy Shade.

BlackBerry's Privacy Shade App Prevents Bystanders From Peeking Into Your Phone

The Android app makes the entire screen dark, except for a small view area that can be moved around to what you really want to read on the screen. The viewing area can change shapes from a bar to a circle, depending on what you prefer. Furthermore, the transparency of the darkened screen can also be manually adjusted, so for those who are extra paranoid, they could maximise the shade to near opaque for optimal privacy.

It is worth noting that this app is only available only to BlackBerry devices, so not all users will be able to take advantage of the nifty app. You can check if you own a compatible Blackberry device by trying to download it from the Google Play Store, or you can also sideload it from APK Mirror. Downloading from APK Mirror doesn’t lift the restriction limit of BlackBerry devices, Android Police reports.

BB Merah Putih, the company that currently holds the right to manufacture and sell BlackBerry smartphones in Indonesia, recently launched the BlackBerry Aurora smartphone for the country. The dual-SIM (Micro-SIM) based BlackBerry Aurora runs Android 7.0 Nougat out-of-the-box and sports a 5.5-inch (720×1280 pixels) display. It is priced at IDR 3,499,000 (roughly Rs. 17,400) in Indonesia.

Destiny 2 Release Date Leaked: Report

Destiny 2 could be primed for release earlier than anticipated. According to a poster allegedly spotted at a branch of GameStop in Italy, the sequel to 2014’s shared world sci-fi shooter is out on September 8 of this year. According to Kotaku’s Jason Schreier who has a solid track record with information regarding the game, developer Bungie may officially reveal Destiny 2 later today.

The poster, which found its way to Italian site Lega Network as well as photo sharing service Imgur also has PlayStation branding, indicating that much like the first game, Destiny 2 will see an exclusive marketing campaign with the PS4 with a beta pre-release as well.

destiny 2 destiny_2

Prior to this, Activision Blizzard confirmed that Destiny 2 would be available in 2017 during its latest earnings call.

“Full Destiny sequel in 2017 to broaden the franchise’s global reach, which along with follow-on content plans, sets the stage for growth,” reads the company’s earnings report.

This could imply that we might see a more accessible entry in what Activision Blizzard deems as a new franchise. How this impacts the gameplay and progression systems as well as the delivery of its narrative, will be of interest.

Earlier, a leak suggested the sequel to the shared world sci-fi shooter would be called Destiny II: Forge of Hope and will be launched on five platforms: PS4, PS4 Pro, Xbox One, Xbox Scorpio, and PC.

From your dorm room to your car: ethernet is back

Wi-Fi, DSRC, Bluetooth, NFC — there are so many ways to connect without cables that ethernet seems retro, like a flip phone. But ethernet is staging a comeback in our cars. Manufacturers like Hyundai and Land Rover are using this old-school technology to connect the sensors that allow for advanced driving assistance systems (ADAS) and baby steps toward self-driving cars.

“As autonomous driving and safety features have come about, there is a need for higher capacity networking within the car,” said Ali Angha of Spirent in a phone interview. “It’s a proven technology that’s been around for a long time.”

For years, sensors have communicated with the car’s main computer using point-to-point connections. “At one end is a device, and there’s another device on the other end, and they’re directly communicating,” Angha said. But when there are so many sensors, including cameras, radar and LIDAR, that is a lot of point-to-point cabling. Angha said that the cabling in a modern vehicle is the third-heaviest component of a car, after the engine and transmission. “It’s a lot of copper,” he said.

Enter the ethernet! It uses switches that allow connections to any number of devices, reducing the amount of cabling required and thus the overall weight of the car. It’s also more scalable, allowing devices and sensors to connect at different speeds. Ethernet also has the benefit of components being available off the shelf, so automakers don’t have to design everything from scratch.

 Moving away from point-to-point communications within a vehicle does create security vulnerabilities, Angha admitted: “You have a lot of points of connection into the system,” including over-the-air updates and Wi-Fi hotspots. But that’s where segmenting comes in. Groups can be created within an ethernet system that communicate with each other but are isolated from other groups. The idea is to reduce the likelihood that outside connections will create vulnerabilities for mission-critical systems.

“Within the car, in the very long term, everything is going to be ethernet,” Angha predicted. It will be able to handle uncompressed video, which becomes important in autonomous driving, where computations are based on image recognition. “If someone runs into the road, you cannot afford the time to compress and uncompress a video” in order to avoid hitting them, Angha said.

But it’ll be a while before ethernet systems are used throughout cars. There are plenty of sensors that don’t require a lot of bandwidth, like the one that knows if your window is up or down. Angha noted that it’s more cost-effective for OEMs to not change those kinds of connections. But over time, ethernet could end up being cheaper in terms of both manufacturing and maintenance, he believes. “The security of connectivity will become a major concern, and ethernet solves that problem.”

Yahoo hackers manipulated search results for ‘erectile dysfunction medications’

One of the hackers alleged to be responsible for a 2014 hack of Yahoo that affected half a billion users also manipulated search results in his favor to make some money on the side, according to the indictment filed today by the Justice Department.

Alexsey Belan has been charged multiple times with e-commerce fraud and hacking offenses, but managed to escape to Russia in 2013 — after his arrest in Europe but before he could be extradited. His alleged offenses in the Yahoo case appear to be more opportunistic than those of his colleagues.

One of his schemes was to manipulate some of Yahoo’s search engine servers so that when people searched for “erectile dysfunction medications,” (as the indictment puts it, but perhaps less formal inquiries were also included) they were forwarded to an “online pharmacy company” that paid commissions to traffic-drivers. This was done using an unnamed cloud computing company that apparently (and no doubt unknowingly) acted as intermediary between the Yahoo link and the pharmacy.

This rather expands the access hypothetically enjoyed by the hackers; whereas before it was certain that emails, hashed passwords and security questions (among other common data) were stolen, this implies interference at a considerably deeper level. If Belan could plant search results for what must be a closely monitored market and query set, what else could he have tweaked to his or a client’s advantage?

 Two weeks ago a Yahoo SEC filing also revealed new details about the hack, namely that the intrusion had exposed “proprietary code.” What code? How? At the current rate Yahoo is hemorrhaging unflattering information about the hacks, it may not be long before we find out.

Toyota’s new autonomous test car 2.0 is a tricked out Lexus

Toyota’s Research Institute (TRI) houses some of the automakers most ambitious future-focused projects, and the R&D organization debuted its new second-generation autonomous safety technology research vehicle on Friday. The car debuted at Toyota’s Prius Challenge event in Sonoma, California, which is a Silicon Valley forum designed to bring entrepreneurs, roboticists and more together with TRI.

The new vehicle is also the first self-driving test platform built entirely by TRI, and its intended purpose is to help the research group test and explore a wide range of safety features and autonomous technologies. It’s loadout includes a drive-by-wire interface, as well as layered LiDAR, radar and camera sensors to reduce dependency on pre-populated high-def maps. It’s also designed to be fairly modular, meaning it can improve on the fly when upgrades to individual parts are available and can be swapped in.

 

Toyota’s first test car got its debut at CES in 2013, so the team has had some time to improve. The new Lexus LS 600hL upon which the car is based is just one of the more obvious examples of the changes. The vehicle is designed to help TRI pursue development of both its Chauffeur and Guardian systems, which are Level 5/Level 4 (fully autonomous) and very advanced driver assistance features, respectively.

Guardian’s goal is to clue in drivers when they’re needed to intervene, via active monitoring of the driver assistance, while handing control entirely for a significant percentage of time. The Guardian system has more near-term potential, according to TRI lead Gill Pratt, and could get much smarter over time with plenty of immediate life-saving potential before full autonomy via things like Chauffeur are feasible for broad deployment.

Facebook adds a travel-planning feature called ‘City Guides’

Facebook has been busy with the app updates, as of late. In recent months, it has added new sections for finding nearby Wi-Fi, meeting new people, checking the weather, and more. Now, it’s rolling out yet another addition to the “More” menu inside the Facebook app: City Guides. A potential challenger to Foursquare, Facebook’s guides will show you a list of cities and which of your friends visited, along with various recommendations of places to go and things to do.

When you click into an individual city, you’ll see a row of rounded profile icons of your friends who have visited there. Tap on each one, and a list of the places they’ve been – like hotels, restaurants, attractions, and other businesses – will appear. This data is presumably being extracted from users’ check-ins and Facebook posts.

img_3247

Facebook has long allowed users to check-in via their status updates, but it hadn’t done much with that data, in terms of offering a consumer-facing feature to rival Foursquare. That’s been fairly surprising, given that asking friends for ideas of what to do in a new city seems like a perfect feature for a social network like Facebook.

City Guides seems to correct that problem, or at least it’s trying to. The feature itself, however, is more useful if you have a lot of well-traveled friends. But also included in each city’s guide is a list of “Places the Locals Go,” which pulls in popular, highly rated spots. Here, Facebook uses technology to summarize what people are saying about the suggested place.

For example, a restaurant’s summary might read: “People talk about delicious tacos, friendly atmosphere, and brews on tap.” 

img_3248

Each item has a bookmark icon to the right, which lets you save the place to a list of favorites. These bookmarked items are available in a “Saved” section at the top of the city’s page. You can also save the city itself, to make a sort of bucket list of places you want to go.

Meanwhile, if you scroll down further in the guide, you’ll see a list of Upcoming Events, which you can swipe through horizontally. Beneath this, is a list of Popular Attractions, which includes things like famous landmarks, tourist attractions, and scenic places. All these can be bookmarked, as well.

img_3249

Social travel planning apps (often using Facebook data) was an area where a number of startups competed years ago, including Gtrot, Zetrip, Roam7, Trippy, Jetpac, Gogobot and others. But the market later fizzled out.

Belatedly, Facebook has stepped in.

Its city guides feature feels like a socially infused version of a traditional travel planning app, but they’re also augmented with the public data available on Facebook, which makes them more useful.

Unfortunately, City Guides seems to only focus on major international cities, and not the small, out-of-way locales that are also popular destinations, like beachy islands, quaint resort towns, remote small towns, and more. It would be great to see this city guides feature expanded in the future so you could pull up any city in the world, no matter its size, and see what your friends did while there.

The City Guides feature was seen in testing last year, noted 9to5Mac, which also spotted this launch, but it now appears to be rolling out more broadly on mobile.

Facebook confirmed the new feature, but noted it’s still in limited availability.

“We’re testing a redesigned surface on city Pages that showcases information about your city, a spokesperson said. “This content already exists on Facebook, and during this test we’ll be centralizing it in a way that is more personalized and relevant to you. So, this new feature can help people get a better sense of their city, or a city they’re visiting through their friends’ eyes.”