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Android phones ‘betray’ user location to Google  

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Image copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionMobile phone masts transmit a unique address

A majority of Android smartphones collect location data and send it back to Google, even when location services are switched off.

News website Quartz reported Android phones gathered information about nearby mobile phone masts and shared those details with Google.

One privacy advocate described the finding as a “betrayal” of users.

Google told Quartz the information was never stored and it said Android would be updated to stop the practice.

The issue affected Android phones with Google Play Services running in the background. Google Play Services are required to access many of the search giant’s apps and the framework is pre-installed on a majority of Android smartphones targeted at consumers.

Quartz found that the smartphones were scooping up phone mast addresses – a string of data used to identify individual masts – and sending them back to Google.

The data could be used to work out a person’s position.

The phones did so even when location services were switched off in the settings menu and even when there was no Sim card in the phone.

There was no option to disable the practice.

‘Discarded’

Google said it had been collecting the tower addresses for 11 months “as an additional signal to further improve the speed and performance of message delivery”.

“We never incorporated Cell ID into our network sync system, so that data was immediately discarded,” it said in a statement.

Online rights group Privacy International said the finding showed people had “little control” over what smartphones did in the background.

“When we buy a smartphone, we don’t expect it to betray us,” said Millie Graham Wood, a solicitor for Privacy International.

“While Google states in this instance it will stop the practice, this raises the question of what else it is doing beyond the knowledge of the user, and why.

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Alleged Samsung Galaxy S9 CAD leaks surface giving us an early glimpse of the handset

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 The Samsung Galaxy S9 is one of the handsets we are eagerly looking forward to seeing. The South Korean tech giant will most likely launch the new duo, the Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus in January or February 2018, so it is already in the works. CAD leaks of the handset already surfaced, giving us a glimpse at what the smartphone might look like. The sketches come from SlashLeaks, so they might actually be legitimate. Even so, they are quite sketchy, and they are in extremely low resolution, so they might not reflect the reality after all.

This year, Samsung introduced a brand new design, so it probably won’t change a lot next year either. No smartphone manufacturers come with major changes two years in a row and probably Samsung won’t either. This means that the Samsung Galaxy S9 will probably look a lot like the current model, the Galaxy S8, with minor changes here and there. Samsung will, first of all, keep the infinity display it introduced with the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus. This way, the front of the upcoming smartphone will probably look almost exactly the same as the one of the Galaxy S8. Of course, the bezels could get a little slimmer, but there is not much wiggle room there either, so the changes probably won’t be groundbreaking.

On the back, on the other hand, there could be some changes, especially when we think of the fingerprint sensor’s position. Many users complained about the misfortunate placing of the sensor on the Galaxy S8, so Samsung could change this. At least one thing will change on the back of the new model, as the Samsung Galaxy S9 will sport a  dual rear camera setup, instead of the Galaxy S8’s single camera. Some people hoped that the upcoming model will have the fingerprint sensor embedded in the display, however, this seems less likely with every new report. This is why the alleged CAD images could actually turn out to be quite accurate. They do show the fingerprint sensor on the back of the handset, just under the dual camera setup.

The smartphone seems to keep its curved back, which is nice, as it sits more comfortably n the hand of the user. The aspect ratio doesn’t seem to have changed either. The body of what should be the Samsung Galaxy S9 still looks rather tall. The upcoming model will probably maintain the display size too, not only the aspect ratio. Rumor had it that Samsung is going to ditch the Bixby button. If the CAD images turn out to be accurate, this rumor will turn out to be quite false. In the images, the Bixby button is clearly visible.

While these are among the first images that allegedly depict the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S9, they don’t reveal anything new. No one expects the Galaxy S9 to come with a new design, as the current one is still quite fresh. of course, there will probably be changes, but they will be minor ones. The smartphone will get a more powerful processor, and it could even get a boost in memory, but we don’t expect any other major changes next year. The Samsung Galaxy Note 9, on the other hand, could hold some surprises

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Gionee S11 with four cameras leaked in all its glory

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Now that the majority of smartphones sport dual rear cameras, we aren’t impressed anymore. Probably this is why some of the new models are going to come with no less than four sensors. We have seen similar devices before, and the next one to arrive will be the Gionee S11. The handset doesn’t only come with four cameras, it also adopts the new standard in aspect ratio, namely the 18:9 ratio that allows manufacturers to squeeze huge displays into bodies that are still easy to handle one-handed. Live images of the upcoming handset just leaked, showing the smartphone in all its glory.

Thanks to the 6-inch display and the new aspect ratio, the Gionee S11 will be quite a large handset, with an elongated body. The smartphone will reportedly become available in three color options, pink, blue, and golf, which is an interesting shade of grey, in fact. On the back, the dual camera setup is visible in one corner, and there is also a fingerprint sensor which at first sight seems to be a little too high to be comfortable to use. Of course, we might be wrong here, and Gionee S11 users could actually unlock their handsets easily. Also, the camera protrusion seems to be a little too big, so the handset most likely won’t sit steadily on its back. On the front, the handset seems to be all-screen. On the top, there are two more camera sensors and a speaker, while on the bottom there is the Gionee logo. The overall look of the handset is quite nice, however, saying that it is innovative would be an overstatement.

The Gionee S11 will reportedly come with an octa-core chipset, and it could include 6GB of RAM and 64GB internal storage. The rear camera setup will consist of a 16MP and an 8MP sensor, while on the front, users will have a 20MP and an 8MP sensor for selfies and video calls.  The smartphone will most likely run Android nougat out of the box. A 3,600mAh battery will keep things going. Given the size of the display, it probably will be able to take users through the day on a single charge, but don’t expect it to ensure an amazing battery life.

Gionee will most likely launch the new model on November 26. There still are a few days to go until then. We will probably find out more about the Gionee S11 ahead of its official unveiling. Hopefully, ti will have a reasonable price tag and it will become available for purchase soon enough.

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