Sony Reveals Launch Date for Sony Tablets

Sony has revealed the specifications and launch dates for its two forthcoming tablet devices, Sony Tablet S and Sony Tablet P.

Although both are Android-based, Sony’s tablets are quite different from the other Android tablets on the market, which generally follow the iPad‘s design philosophy.

Sony Tablet P sports a foldable design, with two 5.5-inch screens, 4 GB of storage space, a NVIDIA Tegra 2 processor and Wi-Fi/3G connectivity. Tablet P can be described as a pocket tablet, measuring 79 x 180 x 26mm and weighing only 327 grams. We like how Sony is breaking new ground here, and we’re eager to see whether the market will embrace this novel design.

Sony Tablet S has a more standard slate design, but unlike most other tablets on the market, it’s thicker on one end than the other. It has a 9.4-inch display, a NVIDIA Tegra 2 CPU and Wi-Fi/3G connectivity. It’s also very light, weighing approximately 598 grams. It will come with either 16 GB or 32 GB of storage.

Both will be available as Wi-Fi-only or Wi-Fi/3G devices, the former coming with Android 3.2, and the later with Android 3.1, although an upgrade is planned for the future. Also, both will come with a 5-megapixel rear and a 0.3-megapixel front-facing camera, a USB 2.0 port and an SD card slot.

Sony squeezed a couple extra features into its new tablets. Both devices will have a 3-axis accelerometer, a gyro sensor, a digital compass and an ambient light sensor. Tablet S will come with infrared remote control functionality. Both are compatible with Sony’s Media Remote technology, which allows you to control Sony devices, including ones from the BRAVIA line, through Wi-Fi.

Finally, both devices are “PlayStation Certified,” meaning you’ll be able to play original games such as Crash Bandicoot and Pinball Heroes on your tablet.

Sony Tablet S will be available in the UK at Sony Centres, Currys & PC World and John Lewis in mid-Sept., with pre-orders beginning Aug. 31 at www.sony.co.uk, www.currys.co.uk and www.pcworld.co.uk. Sony Tablet P is scheduled for a November 2011 release.

Phone Wars

It’s no secret how much most people are attached to their cellphones, but now TeleNav has released a survey showing just how willing Americans are to give up the finer things in life so they can still hang onto that handset.

Think about this hypothetical situation for a moment: What would you be more willing to give up so you could still have your mobile phone?

Not only does this infographic give you insight into mobile-device love, but it also helps you sort out general priorities as well. For instance, one third of the U.S. population would rather give up sex for a week than a mobile phone, but 70% were willing to give up alcohol for that phone?

Or who would’ve guessed that smartphone users had worse manners than their cellphone counterparts, with 26% of smartphone users frequently pulling out their handset at the dinner table, compared with 6% of cellphone (“featurephone”) users?

Worse (and this one’s not included in the infographic) — “Smartphone users were twice as likely as feature phone users to give up hot showers rather than their phone for one week,” according to TeleNav’s survey. Now that’s got to be love.

The History of Android

Android‘s box of sweets has gotten much more diverse since launching its first dessert-themed operating system, Cupcake, in 2009.

Mobile app developers [x]cubelabs have laid out a timeline of these versions — from Cupcake to Ice Cream Sandwich — in the infographic below.

What updates do you think were most influential? At what point did you decide that Android was or wasn’t the right OS for you?

 

 

Mobile Hacking: How Safe Is Your Smartphone?

New instances of phone hacking seem to emerge from Rupert Murdoch’s empire on a daily basis. But are the reports of interest beyond Murdoch and his detractors? Should you, as a consumer, fear that your phone will be hacked?

Not yet. Experts say that it’s still fairly easy to hack into your phone, but unless you’re a celebrity, you’re unlikely to be a target. Don’t get too comfortable, though. The era of safe mobile computing may be coming to an end as smartphones and other mobile devices become more popular than PCs.

For the moment, however, phone hacking is the farm team version of big league PC hacking. Methods — particularly in the case of the Murdoch charges which stretch back a decade in some cases — are pretty old school. Robert Siciliano, a McAfee consultant and identity theft expert, says probably the most prevalent way people hack phones is via “social engineering,” a.k.a. lying. For instance, a would-be hacker might call you and pose as the phone company saying they need to update your account and need your password. Or the hacker might get enough of your information to call the phone company and pose as you.

Steve Santorelli, director of global outreach at the Internet security research group Team Cymru, and former Scotland Yard police officer, says that the Murdoch phone hacks probably didn’t even take that much effort. It’s likely, he says, that the victims left a default password provided by the carrier on their phone and the hackers merely guessed correctly. Santorelli says that some carriers still use default passwords. Lesson: Change your passwords often.

There are, of course, more technologically savvy ways to hack your phone as well. A would-be hacker, for instance, might get a bit of information about your account and send a phishing email purportedly from your carrier asking you to log in. At that point they will have your password and other sensitive information. Smartphones also provide an opportunity to install monitoring software. iPhone owners are probably the safest in that regard, unless they jailbreak their phones, Siciliano says. Android users are less secure since publishers can upload their apps directly to Android Market. In March, hackers added malicious code to 58 Android apps, infecting 250,000 phones. “Android is more vulnerable because it’s a more open system,” says Siciliano. “While Google does vet its apps, some do slip by that are malicious.”

Once an app is installed, it can record all your calls and texts and, depending on what kind of apps you have and what you do with your phone, possibly get personal data related to banking and credit cards. There are other possibilities as well. A hacker could commandeer your phone into sending thousands of texts or making calls beyond your monthly minutes, causing you to rack up huge bills.

Such attacks are still pretty rare.”The low hanging fruit is still the PC,” says Siciliano. “If you are a criminal hacker, Microsoft’s OS is the most hacked software on the planet.” Yet that could be changing quickly. A recent survey by Flurry showed that consumers are now spending more time on mobile apps than on the web. Another by Mary Meeker of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers estimated that combined tablet and smartphone shipments eclipsed those of desktops and laptops this year for the first time.

Security firms have taken notice. Market research firm Infonetics predicts sales of mobile security software will grow 50% each year through 2014, when it will hit $2 billion. AT&T also plans to start selling a security offering to customers next year.

In short, sometime soon phone hacks may not just be Hugh Grant’s problem. Says Santorelli: “If I had money right now, I’d bet on the Russian mafia. Mobile hacking is going to be huge.”