Five Most Popular Mobile Software Apps

We’ve done our homework over here and have pulled together the most popular mobile software downloads for you.

As a mobile device expert I can tell you one thing for certainty about ALL mobile devices and smartphones- they’re only as good as the mobile software available for them. If you recall, I addressed this in part in an article on what I think will make or break the iPad Pro. To be very honest, its true for all mobile devices – Software. Popular mobile software will make or break any mobile platform.

With software so important to the mobile devices that it runs on, it’s important to insure you have the right apps for your device. I’ve spent some time, pulling together five (5) of the most popular mobile software downloads, regardless of platform and brought them here, in no particular order, for your consideration.

The Top Five Apps

Maps.Me for Android
maps.meGPS apps are perhaps some of the best mobile software around. Maps.Me is an Android software download that provides turn by turn directions anywhere in the world. It supports over 345 countries and islands. Its maps are highly detailed, and contain more information than any other map or GPS app anywhere. It has millions of points of interest including restaurants, gas/ petrol stations, ATM machines, etc. It will work both online and offline, provided you have enough local storage available so you won’t incur any data roaming charges. It’s also fast, and free.

UC Browser
uc browserIf you remember, we reviewed UC Browser a few years ago. If you get the opportunity and if you’re interested in the app, you should give it a read, as it has a really complete breakdown of what the app can and cannot do.

UC Browser is an Android app that will allow you to surf the internet. Its adaptable configuration helps you adjust the way your browsing works under different networking connections and conditions. This helps manage bandwidth usage, and ultimately, data costs. The browser can also preload pages, download files in the background, and has an add-on platform that can extend the functionality of the app.

Kingsoft Office for Android
kingsoft officeOne of the most important apps I have on many of my mobile devices – tablets, laptops, and to an extent, smartphones – is a productivity suite. Kingsoft Office for Android is a free android software download. With it, you can create and edit rich text documents, spreadsheets and presentations. The suite is also fully Microsoft Office compatible.

Having the ability to edit content on the go is an important ability. Its why many of us carry mobile devices. Having this ability on your Android smartphone or tablet may just make life easier or save your bacon when you need to edit something in a pinch.

whatsappWhatsapp is perhaps the most used mobile application in the world, especially outside the US. With Android mobile software being the most popular type of mobile download, Whatsapp for Android is very popular. With Whatsapp being cross platform, meaning that it’s also very popular on iOS, its literally available and used on nearly every mobile device on the planet.

The app allows you to send and receive instant messages over a secure network. With it you can send text, pictures, audio notes, and video messages at no other cost than the cost of the app.

Let’s talk about that secure network thing. Whatsapp doesn’t function on its own network, it functions on any internet signal. However, it does employ encryption that can’t be broken, meaning that your messages can’t be read by “inquiring minds [that] want to know. Private and secure communications is what Whatsapp is all about.

MoboMarketYour mobile device doesn’t do too much without the software that runs on it. When it comes to Android, you actually have a choice of stores to buy software from. You can use Google Play. You can use the Amazon Store; or you can use Mobomarket.

MoboMarket for Android is a third-party Android Market App that really focuses on free Android games and apps. MoboMarket has a geo-location based recommendation system, helping you discover the apps that you’re interested in most. Apps updated in MoboMarket are updated in real time, giving you full control of the apps installed on your mobile device.

Android mobile software downloads are something that every Android user wants and needs. Getting the right software for your device is something that everyone wants and needs. With Android being the most popular mobile operating system, powering some of the most popular devices in the world, having the best of the mobile software available is what it’s all about. The apps that I’ve included here are some of the best… some of the most popular mobile software downloads on Soft32. If you’re an Android user (or an iOS user in the case of Whatsapp), you need to check these out and see if these mobile apps are the right ones for you.

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Anyone can Pick Up Malware – Part 2

Sometimes, you can be your own worst enemy…

malwareA while back, I posted an article about how anybody could get a computer virus. It was telling, because the anybody was me. I ran afoul of a bad ad network somewhere and picked up something that caused me to, I thought, pick up a key logger. In the end, it turned out I was wrong, but I’ll get to that in a bit.

Instead I had picked up a couple other viruses, both of which came through a bad ad network and both of which, it turned out, were responsible for my spam situation. Unfortunately, NONE of the anti-virus products that I had on my machine – Webroot Secure Anywhere and MacScan, could remove the software, though it had no problems at all identifying the viruses on my Time Machine drive.

Based on this information, it was clear to me that the malware was 1) on my Mac, and 2) actively hiding from the real time scanner of one app and the manual scanners of both apps. To be blunt MacScan didn’t detect a thing. Webroot found everything, but only on my Time Machine drive, and couldn’t remove all of it.

I had a couple options at this point – 1) Rebuild the system (which involved blowing the drive, putting the OS back on and then reinstalling everything from scratch, and 2) Finding an anti-malware app that could remove everything. After trying Malwarebytes for Mac and having it fail miserably, I started looking for another Mac malware scanner and removal system.

What I found, was FixMeStick; but even THAT had issues. It works very well with Yosemite and earlier based Macs; but when I purchased it in January of 2016, it didn’t work with El Capitan based Macs, and my MacBook Pro runs El Capitan. Unfortunately for me, FixMeStick didn’t know about their inability to work with El Cap Macs when I bought the product. I helped them confirm the issue.

FixMeStick is an offline anti-malware scanner. You purchase a self-booting USB stick. You stick it in a USB port, boot from it, it scans your drive, finds the goo and removes it. Unfortunately, El Capitan’s default drive format makes use of journaling, and (up until about 2 days ago, as of this writing), FixMeStick couldn’t even READ a drive that was HSF+ Journaled/ Journaled, Case Sensitive. So it was effectively USELESS to me.

I checked in with them every three to four weeks, asking if they had resolved the issue. They would always say they were close, and that they would have an update to users and a release in about four to eight (4-8) weeks. Those deadlines were always missed, and I came very close to demanding a refund.

I’m going to jump to the end, here, as its going to make this a lot more valuable to everyone in the end…

In the end, they figured it out. Their product now works with El Cap formatted Macs, and the product found three bugs on my Mac and removed them… on the first scan after the issue was resolved… but not without some last minute drama – none of the bugs were the key logger that Webroot Secure Anywhere had identified (and I THOUGHT was the cause of my Google Apps (Gmail) account getting hacked). I thought there was a problem.

Thankfully, I was very wrong.

What I learned is that Webroot has a known issue with identifying false positives when their scanner scans your Time Machine drive. While Key Logger.Spector.Pro.r is a real problem, it isn’t when Webroot Secure Anywhere ONLY identifies it on your Time Machine drive and ONLY on your Time Machine drive.

According to Webroot, and I traded email with their tech support team this past weekend, what Secure Anywhere finds is a false positive on a info.plist file in a kext file that Gatekeeper uses to identify software that can run on your Mac without you having to constantly approve it; AND it ONLY identifies it in this kext file on your Time Machine drive. It’s well documented in their support forums.

So… after 9 months… not only am I virus free; but I never had a key logger, and I shouldn’t have anything or anyone else hijacking my Google Apps account (though thankfully, I actually haven’t had that happen for about four (4) months).

But as I said in November, anybody can get a computer virus. Just because you do, doesn’t (necessarily) mean you’ve been somewhere you shouldn’t nor does it (necessarily) mean that you’re careless. It just means that you picked up a bug. What you do need to do is pick up the right tool to get rid of it, and then make certain you have a real time scanner on your computer.

For me, this is FixMeStick and Webroot Secure Anywhere for Mac.

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HTC sent me their new flagship Android smartphone to review, and it’s awesome.

I’ve always been a gadget guy. If its electronic and it has buttons of any kind, then I’m usually all over it. Smartphones have always been a favorite gadget, as I’ve always been a huge Star Trek fan (it’s a well-known fact that the idea for the cell phone came from the Star Trek communicator). So yeah… gadgets.

Back in the day, an obscure company out of Taiwan began making smartphones for a company out of Dubai called i-mate. These smartphones were the elite of the smartphone world. EVERYONE that was anyone in the tech journalism world went out of their way to try to get one of them in their hands, including me.

Fast forward to today. That obscure little company out of Taiwan, turned out to be HTC… and their flagship phones are some of the most sought after devices on the market today. Case in point – the HTC 10 is HTC’s latest offering in their Android line. This one is going to be kinda quick; but let’s see how well it does…

As I said, HTC has one of the best hardware reputations in the industry. It’s always been great at hardware engineering. That being said, let’s take a look at what you get when you purchase an HTC 10.

What’s in the Box?
When you get a new smartphone, you nearly always expect to find a few things included with the device. Back in the day, you got a number of different gadgets and goo-jams in the box. This nearly always included the device, some kind of device cradle or charging station, a USB cable, some kind of carrying case or pouch and a set of earbuds. Today, that’s just not the case. Nearly NO ONE includes a cradle or charging station. I find that very problematic, as I don’t like to leave my device – in a case or not – just sitting by itself on a desk. More likely than not, I’ve got a glass of something sweet and sticky also on my desk, and I’m the kind of guy that works cluttered, as I like to spread out. This potentially makes the desk a water (read: liquid) hazard zone for nearly EVERYTHING on my desk. I’m fairly good about NOT bumping or spilling anything, but accidents do happen. Having the device off my desk surface at least gives my smartphone a fighting chance; and that only happens with a sync/ charge cradle.

The ICE View Case
When I got the HTC 10, I was really surprised that it didn’t come with w case. The HTC One (M8) came with the Dot View case. It was included with the device. The HTC 10 has a similar case, but it – the ICE View Case – is a $50 USD add-on purchase. It’s not included.

Now the ICE View case is a cool HD update to the M8’s low-red DOT View case, but it’s expensive, and honestly, I don’t think it’s worth $50 USD. I happened to be fortunate enough to catch the case on sale for $20USD, direct from HTC, and my device is in one now. It’s nice and I think the device needs to have some kind of protective case. The ICE View case does a good job at $20 bucks, but a horrible one at $50 USD. At that price, it should do a lot more.

But enough about the case that should be, but isn’t, there…

OK, So What IS Included?
To be honest… not much. You get exactly the following:

  • HTC 10
  • SIM Card Removal Tool
  • USB-C Cable
  • Wall Wart Charger
  • Warranty Documentation

Notice, that you do NOT get any ear buds or other type of headphones with the device. I contacted HTC about the lack of accessories included with the device and got the following response:

“I know we used to include earphones but this time around we are teaming up with JBL to bring the highest quality earphones to consumers in a bundle package that will be coming soon to The earphones have not hit the market yet. What you received in the package is partially due to carrier agreements as well.”

According to my contact at HTC, the JBL bundle was supposed to the partnership with JBL was supposed to come together in late June. From what I can see, it hasn’t happened. The JBL ear buds that they do show on the site, are just that – earbuds; and they’re currently priced at $200 USD. I don’t care how great they are. No earbuds are worth $200 bucks. Period.

HTC also offers as set of HTC Pro Studio Earphones for $80 bucks and a set of HTC Hi-Res Audio Earphones for $30 bucks. The Pro set has a better dynamic range, and support HTC’s BoomSound audio profile. The plain Jane set don’t. You have to ask yourself if the HTC BoomSound audio profile is worth $50 bucks. For me… it’s not. Quite frankly, their entry level ear buds aren’t worth $30 bucks in my opinion. If you want a decent set of headphones, do some research on the internet and then go to an electronics store. If you’re looking for earbuds to get you listening to audio on the go, go to Wal-Mart or some other value retailer and buy a pair for $10-$15 bucks. Save yourself some money. Earbuds aren’t worth much more than that, in my opinion.

The Full 360
As you can see from the pictures, below, the device is similar in form factor to its cousins, the M8 and the M9. However, the first moment I took it out of the box, the first thing I thought was, “wow. This looks exactly like an iPhone.” In fact, for a split second, I thought I was holding an iPhone instead of the HTC 10.

To be blunt, the hardware is awesome looking. Check it out!


IMG_5490 IMG_5491 IMG_5492
FULL FRONTAL: The HTC One (M8), (M9) and HTC 10 LEFT SIDE: From top to bottom – the HTC One (M8), (M9) and HTC 10 TOP: From top to bottom – the HTC One (M8), (M9) and HTC 10. Notice the audio jack placement on the HTC 10
IMG_5493 IMG_5494 IMG_5495
RIGHT SIDE: From top to bottom – the HTC One (M8), (M9) and HTC 10. Both the M9 and the HTC 10 have power, volume rocker/ buttons and SIM card slots on the right side. BOTTOM: From top to bottom – the HTC One (M8), (M9) and HTC 10. The M8 and M9 have microUSB connectors, off-centered. The HTC 10 has a centered, USB-C connector & a bottom speaker instead of the headphone jack. BACK: The HTC One (M8), (M9) and HTC 10. The M8’s dual camera setup was so disappointing, they did away with it.

I’ve been shooting amateur photographs for quite a while now. I’ve become pretty good, though I will be the very first to admit that I have a great deal to learn when it comes to the manual settings on my cameras. However, one of the things that I do well is compose and take a good picture.

So, when I found out that the HTC 10 supported RAW camera files, I got very excited. For those not familiar with Camera RAW and its benefits, here’s a quick explanation. Camera RAW is basically a dump of the actual camera image that the camera captures when it snaps a shot.

Usually when you take a picture the camera will take the data that it captures and then convert that data into a file that your PC – either Windows PC or Mac – can read. In many cases, in order to conserve space on the SD card you’re camera uses for storage, it also compresses that file. While the choice of this file type and its compression level is user controllable, compressing a file always strips detail out of the file, degrading the image. This happens with JPEG’s and JPG’s regardless of the compression level you use. JPEG/ JPG by default has some compression to it, even when you choose a compression level of “0.”

This is an issue because when you go to tweak your photos, you want to work with as much detail and data as possible in order to insure that you get the best results. When you add compression, you strip detail away, and well, by now, you get the point – you don’t get the best results. Camera RAW is the FULL detail of the image you took, and is really the one that every photographer wants access to when they go to retouch their images.

However, most consumer based digital cameras don’t support camera RAW. While it’s mostly because 1) Most consumers don’t care about or understand how the loss of detail effects their pictures, it’s also about 2) The camera manufacturer doesn’t want (for whatever reason) to write the translation filter for your computer so it can read and edit the RAW files for that camera (and yes, each camera/ camera brand has its own RAW file format).

With this in mind, you’re going to need to do a couple of things

  1. Understand that RAW files are big. Pictures normally range in file size from 20MB to 30MB, depending on the lighting, detail, type of shot (macro, zoom level, etc.)
  2. You’re going to want/ need to store files on an external SD card. If you keep files available on your phone, you’re going to run out of space, quickly.

All this said, I was very pleased with the performance of the camera on the HTC 10. Full camera specs can be found below.

  • 12 MP,
  • f/1.8, 26mm,
  • OIS,
  • laser autofocus,
  • dual-LED (dual tone) flash
  • 1/2.3” sensor size,
  • 1.55µm pixel size,
  • geo-tagging,
  • touch focus,
  • face detection,
  • HDR,
  • panorama
  • 2160p@30fps,
  • 720p@120fps,
  • HDR,
  • stereo sound rec.
Secondary (Front-facing)
  • 5 MP,
  • f/1.8, 23mm,
  • OIS,
  • autofocus,
  • 1.34 µm pixel size,
  • 1080p,
  • HDR

The camera here has decent low light exposure and a decent depth of field, but it’s strictly your basic point and shoot camera. This isn’t going to do pro or pro-sumer level photography. Don’t expect that. The pictures that it takes are decent at best. I’ve noticed that zoomed in photos taken near dusk (some are below) can be grainy, even when using camera RAW.

Here are some unretouched photos that I took with the HTC 10. These are in fact JPG’s, as the RAW files wouldn’t have displayed in this review. However, they are done with minimal compression. However, if you’ve got a good eye, you may see some image degradation and graininess in them. I can; but that’s due more to the “Save for the web” feature that I used in Photoshop Elements than anything else.

IMAG0028 IMAG0029 IMAG0031 IMAG0032
My family at my oldest son’s baseball game. My granddaughter making friends at the game The following pictures are of the coach’s review after the game (they won…) This shot is grainier at the top than it is at the bottom. I think that may be due to the stark color discrepancy between the top and bottom of the shot. Its more washed out near the extreme powder blue of the sky.
IMAG0033 IMAG0035 IMAG0036
The coaches review continues. You can see some graininess here The graininess isn’t as bad here, though, as the picture contains more elements of color than actual white.

The unlocked version of the HTC 10 that HTC sent me runs on both the AT&T and T-Mobile networks here in the US. The HTC 10 uses a nano SIM, and I was able to pull the card out of my iPhone 6 and immediately stick it in the HTC 10.

As expected, calls were clear. As expected coverage and radio reception were on par with my iPhone 6. The thing that DID go sideways with it was its communication with my car radio, the Pioneer AVH-X4800BS.

While the radio is Siri Eyes Free Compatible, it is neither Apple CarPlay nor Android Auto compatible. The radio uses an app called AppRadio One to display audio and video content and compatible apps on the radio’s 7-inch screen. If you want, you can call this the “poor man’s” version of CarPlay or Android Auto. It does much the same thing, but it’s a Pioneer product.

While I’ve learned that its nothing anywhere close to either Android Auto or CarPlay, I have found that the iPhone communicates and works much better than the HTC 10 does with this radio. I’m not certain if that’s a USB issue (the radio supports a direct, cabled, USB connection), a software issue (it seems to work better with iOS than with Android, in my opinion).

The radio does hands free calling via Bluetooth. That works, mostly, without issue. There are more minor Bluetooth communication quirks with the HTC 10 than with the iPhone 6. To be honest, it was one of the major reasons why I went back to the iPhone 6 much earlier than I had originally planned.

The HTC 10 is an Android phone running Android 6.01 Marshmallow (or greater). The full platform specs are below.

OS Android OS, v6.0.1 (Marshmallow)
Chipset Qualcomm MSM8996 Snapdragon 820
CPU Dual-core 2.15 GHz Kryo & dual-core 1.6 GHz Kryo
GPU Adreno 530

I have been watching for updates to the operating system. Since I received the device about three months ago, I have received two OS updates and a carrier update. The device is running well.

The only real concern I have is how long HTC will support the device with upgrades. The device isn’t cheap, and one would usually expect to have it supported with updates and upgrades for at least 2 years (the average of a single “contract” term with any character. However, that may not be the case. HTC and the rest of the other OEM’s have made it clear they’d rather sell new devices than provide support.

I was impressed with the HTC One (M8), though it had its issues. The HTC 10 is a far cry better than the M8.

The HTC 10 is shy on accessories. You get little more than the device, a cable and a wall wart in the box. Even on, the number of offered accessories is limited to the ICE View Case and a handful of headphones/ earbuds. If you want a lot of accessories for your smartphone, the HTC 10 may not be the device for you.

However, as the device has killer battery life, and a decent point and shoot camera. Marshmallow is a decent version of Android, though to be honest, while it does a good job with the HTC 10, it’s much like any other version of Android since Jellybean. If Android is your mobile OS of choice and you’re due for an upgrade or looking for a new mobile device, this is a GREAT device of choice.

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Advanced Password Manager

Keep your PII (personally identifying information) safe and private with this important Windows utility.

image-01-100x100In an age where nearly EVERYONE is getting hacked, it’s important to keep all of your sensitive information, private. This is increasingly difficult, as most nearly every privacy utility out on the market concentrates on nearly the same things – web browsing history, passwords, advertisement blocking and cookie management. However, nearly none of them cover PII or personally identifying information. That is, until Advanced Password Manager. It’s a must have utility for your Windows PC.

There’s a reason why you have data on your PC. You need it for work, shop, surf, etc. However, a lot – or most of it – is at risk for loss. Advanced Password Manager identifies, saves and deletes traces of your identity from your computer system after saving them to an encrypted vault secured by one master password. After your information is saved, Advanced Password Manager enables you to fill web forms, including personal and financial information, automatically using your saved credentials.

Advanced Password Manager securely locks your personal and financial information with a master key. You generally have to remember multiple passwords for your accounts and unfortunately, using the same password for all your accounts is unsecure and unsafe. If someone obtains that one password, all your accounts will likely be hacked without your notice. The best way to remain safe, is to have a different, secure password for each online resource you use.

The application allows you to do all of the following:

  1. Protect all your passwords,
  2. Auto-fill login credentials using Advanced Password Manager’s add-on,
  3. Securely save your online accounts,
  4. Sync passwords, credit card details and more, over browsers and
  5. Generate strong passwords.

Advanced Password Manager lets you remember only one password to unlock all your accounts.


Advanced Password Manager can scan your PC for PII and then can clean it in three (3) steps

  1. Scan: Scan your PC for existing identity traces that can be stolen from your PC.
  2. Vault: Save these scanned traces to your vault and lock it using your master key.
  3. Clean: Remove scanned identity traces from your PC to stay safe & secure.


Advanced Password Manager is a fine addition to any PC owner’s utility box. This app should be part of everyone’s security arsenal, along with a top rated antivirus app and a good ad blocker. While the app pulls all of your PII off your machine, it secures all of your data on its own secure web servers. Your best bet here is to insure that your master password contains not only upper and lower case letters, but numbers and special characters as well.

The app stays resident on your PC and installs plug-ins to the most popular browsers – IE, Chrome and Firefox – so that it can prefill credential fields and manage other secure data while you surf the internet.

I like the app a great deal, if only because it scans for and removes data that no other privacy app that I’ve ever come across does. Aside from an odd help-related fly out that won’t stop flying out no matter how many times you put it away, this app is a great addition to your security toolbox.

Donwload Advanced Password Manager

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WhatsApp Blocked in Brazil due to Criminal Case

Facebook won’t turn over data, so a judge shut it down…

whatsapp-logo-iconeA Brazilian judge has blocked Facebook’s WhatsApp from operation inside the country and has authorized a fine of up to R$50,000 ($15,273 USD) per day while Facebook refuses to comply with a secret judicial order to provide data in a criminal case, according to Reuters. This is apparently the third such incident involving the popular IP-based messaging app since December of 2015.

The judicial order is officially being kept secret, according to Reuters; and is speculated to be related to conversations involving a number of drug trafficking cases currently under investigation. This action, however, appears to be severe, as its open ended. WhatsApp has been shut down indefinitely, and the outage affects more than 100 million Brazilian users.

WhatsApp is popular in Brazil and other countries due to steep local cellular carrier fees.

The big issue here is that WhatsApp’s data is encrypted. This case is similar to the recent case here in the US between Apple and the FBI. The Brazilian government wants to know what information was traded between suspects and is expecting WhatsApp to provide the unencrypted data.

Unfortunately, there’s a problem with the order(s) coming from the office of Brazilian Judge Baniela Barbosa Assunção de Souza from the state of Rio de Janeiro – Facebook doesn’t store the encrypted data on their servers,

“As we’ve said in the past, we cannot share information we don’t have access to. We hope to see this block lifted as soon as possible,” said a WhatsApp spokesperson in a public statement.

Brazil’s attorney general’s office has restated its position that judges who suspend WhatsApp for failure to provide data are incorrectly interpreting a 2014 law meant to provide a legal framework for the internet.

Brazil has five (5) major cellular carriers: Telefonica Brasil SA, América Móvil SAB’s Claro, TIM Participações SA, Oi SA and Nextel Participações SA. None of them had an immediate comment regarding this suspension.

I think they are waiting for either the other shoe to drop or for a higher judicial authority to lift the suspension. Since the nation’s attorney general doesn’t support this type of suspension, I suspect that it won’t last very long, and that any fine levied against Facebook/ WhatsApp will be negated, but we’ll have to wait and see.

What are your thoughts on this development? Should WhatsApp provide any information at all? Should they show the judge that they don’t have the messages? Why don’t you give me your thoughts in the discussion area below and tell me what you think?

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Blackberry is Dead

Blackberry has killed the Blackberry Classic

blackberryI’ve been decrying this the 2011-2012 timeframe, I think. Honestly, I’m really very surprised the company has held out as long as it has, but based on what’s just happened, the company is over and it needs to hang up its mobile devices (read; cleats).

In recent news, Blackberry has discontinued its Blackberry classic – the last current handset in the world running Blackberry OS. Instead, the firm has decided on the following strategy, according to their COO and GM for mobile devices, Ralph Pini,

We are committed to the success of both BlackBerry 10 and Android devices. To keep innovating and advancing…we are updating our smartphone lineup with state of the art devices… The Classic has long surpassed the average lifespan for a smartphone… We are ready for this change so we can give our customers something better — entrenched in our legacy in security and pedigree in making the most productive smartphones.

What this translates to is that Blackberry is releasing one Android phone every quarter, for the next three quarters.

  • Q3-2016: Neon
    This budget based phone should hit the streets in July-August 2016
  • Q4-2016: Argon
    This mid-range phone should be available in October 2016
  • Q1-2017: Mercury
    This upper mid-range phone should be available at the start of 2017 and is rumored to have a physical keyboard

While Blackberry – SAYS – it’s still committed to the success of both Blackberry 10 and Android devices, its immediate strategy doesn’t appear to include any native phones. In other words, I wouldn’t expect any, any time soon. This really makes Blackberry nothing more than yet another mediocre Android phone OEM, and with the devices they show above… I don’t expect them to do very well in the coming three quarters, regardless of price. Mid-range to low end Android devices don’t a lot of business in the enterprise. Those folks want flagship class phones. The market that does want affordable Android devices – emerging and “third world” markets – don’t want enterprise messaging services.

Back in the day, RIM – now called Blackberry – ruled the roost as the mobile device king, fighting off both Microsoft and Palm. Now, 12 – 14 years after their hay day, they’re just another company hanging on, trying to find a way to stay alive and remain relevant while continuing to rely on to IP and paradigms that just don’t resonate with today’s markets.

Are you or your company still using Blackberries? If not now, and you did previously, when did you stop? Do you feel that Blackberry has a chance at continued survival, or are they in an unstoppable death spiral? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this issue. Why don’t you meet me in the Discussion area below, and give me your thoughts?

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Is Pokemon Go Really Malware?

The application does some things that are setting off all kinds of alarms over here…

pokemon goWhen you have young kids, it’s hard to keep them away from all of the latest fads and trending stuff. They hear about from a friend who’s either tried it, got it or seen it, and then they feel they have to try it too, or be left out of the fun. This is the lure of Pokémon Go, and its taking the country and perhaps the world, by storm.

The game was released a few days ago as of this writing, and it’s become very popular. Scores of players are walking around, head down in their smartphone’s screen, searching for Pokémon to collect and for other players to battle. When players come to a monument, statue or other type of local landmark – called a Pokestop in the game – they can meet up, battle and play together thanks to the app using geolocation and a local GPS map of the area. Players can also drop a “virtual beacon” to attract and draw other players to their location.

Many people are doing just that… and then robbing players at gunpoint. It’s been all over the news.

But let’s put that aside for a moment… the game has a much larger problem and poses what I believe is much more real and more serious threat than bumping into “Bonnie and Clyde” at a Pokestop near you. The game poses a serious security threat to users who log in with their Google Accounts.

The game seems innocent enough. It’s a free download from the App Store or from the Google Play Store and uses in-app purchases to generate revenue. It’s a common enough model that’s proven profitable for a number of different game developers. However, the biggest problem I’ve seen is with the way the app handles Google Accounts.

Every time I’ve tried to create a “Pokémon Go” account on the developer’s website, it says that the website is overloaded and that users should try again in an hour. This is a condition that hasn’t changed since the game was released. The other option you’re given is to log in with your Google Account. That will usually get you in and to chasing Pokémon up and down the street. However, you need to understand a few things about what happens with you log into Pokémon Go with your Google Account.

  1. You Give it Full Access to your Google Account
    This means it has access to EVERYTHING in your Google Account. It has access to and can read all of your email. It has access to all of your passwords. It has access to all of your credit cards stored in your Google Account. It can even change the passwords and security settings on that account, with the full access you give it. It can take your credit cards, with the CVV’s and go on a shopping spree if it wants… And YOU authorized it, just to get access to the game. Nice, huh?
  2. The Game’s Privacy Policy Considers Your Personal Data a Business Asset
    The privacy policy explicitly states that the data it collects, including PII (personally identifying information – like your credit card or other sensitive data) is a business asset. This means that it can sell the data, and that if the company goes under or is acquired by a third party, your PII goes along with the sale. You have no control over this, since you gave the game full access to your Google Account.

There is one thing that you can do to “protect” yourself. I found this in a ZDNet article, and the procedure outlined at the end of the article works; but there’s a catch. I’ll get to that in a moment…

If you wish to play the game and don’t want Niantic (the game manufacturer) to have full access to your Google Account, you can revoke that access by following these steps:

  1. Log into your Google Account and go to the Apps Connected to Your Account page.
  2. Find “Pokémon Go” in the app list, and click on it.
  3. Click the Remove Access button.
  4. When prompted, click the OK button to revoke full access.

Please Note: After you do this, Pokémon Go won’t have ANY kind of access to your Google account; but there’s no guarantee that they didn’t ultimately mine out all of your intimate PII (personally identifying information) out of your account before you revoked its access.

However, this is where that catch comes in – I’ve noticed that when you do this, the app stops working.

You’re fine for the one session you’ve got, but if you quit the app, or push it to the background, you lose access to the game. The only way I’ve been able to get it working again is to either delete the app and set it up again; or to wait for the app to fault and then present you with the game setup process, including logging in with your Google Account, again. Game play and progress appears to be preserved across reaccessing/ resetting up the game. You don’t have to REcatch ’em all.

Niantic says that the iOS version of Pokémon Go erroneously requires full access to your Google Account. However, I haven’t seen anything about them correcting the problem with a new version of the app. Strangely, the Android version doesn’t do this. Logging in with a Google Account there, provides Pokémon Go with an appropriate level of access to your Google Account.

This whole situation really bothers me… Many times, iOS users don’t seem to have a way to create a Pokémon Trainer Club account. The game says that the website is overwhelmed and it won’t let you create an account or play the game. What you don’t see, is that the rest of the site doesn’t act like it’s on an overloaded web server. Its performance is really very good.

Stranger still is that after you log in with a Google Account, performance of the game is very good, too. If the game’s website and web servers were overwhelmed with as many new account requests and game play as is being alluded to, it would show up in game performance. It doesn’t.

I think Pokémon Go is the biggest Trojan horse in the world…and everyone is giving it exactly what it wants – all of your credit card info, all pf your PII, and access to your entire (Google catered) life, which it can sell to the highest bidder whenever it wants. And we’re doing it on purpose. Game players are either completely duped or just don’t seem to care…

I am deleting the game from my iPhone. I don’t need to catch ’em all… and honestly, you don’t either, especially if you don’t want your identity stolen. Prove me wrong, Niantic…! I dare you. Prove me wrong.

UPDATE: Several hours after submitting this story for publication, Niantic posted an update to the application that reduces Google Account, account access to the Basic level, only wanting to know your name and your email address. This is definitely a step in the right direction…

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Unboxing the Star Trek Original Series Communicator

If you’re a Star Trek fan, then you’re going to want to see this…

About a year ago, I got wind of a new prop replica and after seeing it, I had to have one. I’m a huge Trekkie, and honestly, this was just a little too difficult to resist. The closest I ever got to a Star Trek Communicator when I was a kid was one of these…

Communicator Walkie Talkie

The walkie talkies I got as a kid, weren’t very authentic. They were blue. They were made of plastic, and they didn’t work very well. However, for a ten-year-old in 1975, they were totally awesome.

As you can see from the unboxing video and from the photos below, this is TOTALLY different. The device is truly authentic. It’s got the right type of metal casing, with the correct die cast pattern on the casing. It has the gold tone grill antenna, flashing jewels and actuator buttons.

The device is a fully functional, Bluetooth handset. When paired with your smartphone, it can make and place calls, and even act as a Bluetooth audio speaker for your favorite music or video.

The battery life on this thing is (supposed to be) pretty decent. I’ve had it for a few weeks at this point, and after its initial charge, it hasn’t run out of power just yet. Though to be very honest, I haven’t used it too extensively. It’s been hugely fun to play with, but I don’t want to damage or ruin it…

You can see a number of still pictures of the device and its contents, below. As you can see from the shots, is correctly sized and proportioned, and the sounds, make it all that much more fun that you’d think.

IMG_5535 IMG_5536 IMG_5537 IMG_5538
The front of the box The back of the box. Notice all of the detailed specs and information The Communicator’s collector’s box The faux leather case
IMG_5539 IMG_5540 IMG_5541
The open Communicator’s Collector case The contents of the collector’s case. The open Communicator Kirk to Enterprise..!

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