Google’s Android Head Sundar Pichai talks Galaxy S6, Tizen, security and Nokia X range

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Google’s Android head Sundar Pichai has been answering questions at Mobile World Congress and French site FrAndroid provided a roundup of a few of the more interesting snippets (in addition to his denial that Google tried to buy WhatsApp).

Update: Google provided a direct transcript (though no video was made available) in which not surprisingly Pinchai is a little less self criticizing:

Sorry, the premise of the question is because Android is open, it has more security issues? Respectfully, I’m not sure that’s a correct premise of the question. Open platforms historically undergo a lot of scrutiny, but there are a lot of advantages to having an open source platform from a security standpoint. I would argue that it’s the best way for a platform to be secure, because every researcher in the world can inspect it, every developer in the world can inspect it, and I think that contributes a lot to Android security.

Android was built to be very, very secure. The thing that you’re seeing is because Android is an open platform, many people can ship Android in many different ways and so there are some partners when they ship devices, they have an older version of Android. And sure you can have a security vulnerability there, but that doesn’t mean Android isn’t secure. We go to great lengths–the depth of work in Android to make it secure; the depth of work done by Google Play…Google Play automatically scans and verifies thousands of applications for malware. We track data on this. It’s state of the art in terms of what we do. What you see across the ecosystem…people will ship good phones and keep them updated…you will have some phones that will not be updated. That’s where we see issues. Not Android at a fundamental level.

As long as you’re on a phone and able to update, Android is very very secure.It’s designed to be very very secure. I would go as far to say — open systems are far more secure. We do this on the browser side. Chrome is very secure. The fact that some things are open, by any stretch of the imagination, does not make it any less secure.

Malware targets where users are. When you say numbers like 90% of malware is targeting Android, you know, I hate to point out that if you’re a smart business person running this malware company, that’s what you should do. It’s the wrong way to look at the lens. Obviously, you will always see more malware targeting Android because Android is used more than any smartphone platform by a pretty substantial difference. I think that drives a lot of it so I understand that part of it. What matters much more is – as a user, if you use Android, are you fundamentally more compromised? We don’t think so.”

Responding to a question about malware on the Android platform, Pichai said:

We cannot guarantee that Android is designed to be safe, the format was designed to give more freedom. When people talk about 90% of malware for Android, they must of course take into account the fact that it is the most popular operating system in the world. If I had a company dedicated to malware, I would also be addressing my attacks on Android …  Read more

Google’s first Ara Developers’ Conference coming April 15-16 alongside Ara Module Dev Kit

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Project Ara, the modular phone project announced by Motorola’s ATAP team last year, will be getting its own developer conference this April. Google announced the event on the Project Ara website (via AndroidPolice) and noted that a live stream with “interactive Q&A capability” will be available online for those that can’t attend. The conference will take place at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View and Google says there will be a limited number of attendees. The event will focus heavily on a new Ara Module Developers’ Kit that will be released online in early April: Read more

Google Now Launcher now available to Nexus & Google Play edition devices

One of the big standout features of the Google’s latest Android release, KitKat, was a new homescreen/launcher experience that essentially merged Google search app with the standard Android home screen. Unfortunately, up until now the feature was exclusive to the Nexus 5. That changes today as Google released the Google Now Launcher app on Google Play allowing users to enable the functionality on Nexus and Google Play Edition devices. The experience brings a few improvements to Google Search integration on the home screen, the most notable of which is the ability have “always-on” voice commands using “OK Google.” It will also put a ton of Google Now content within easy reach: Read more

Samsung releases Gear 2, S-Health, & Gear Fit SDKs, opens S5 fingerprint scanner to developers

Samsung announced the release of three new SDKs for new products today during its developer day at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. The new and updated SDKs bring new features for developers interested in developing apps for Samsung’s latest suite of products including the just announced Galaxy S5, Samsung Gear 2, and Gear Fit. With the new SDK’s, developers will have full control over some of the new sensors Samsung packed into its new product lineups including the S5’s fingerprint sensor: Read more

Motorola: New Moto X coming this summer, Moto Maker hits EU/Mexico next quarter

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During its press conference at Mobile World Congress today and fresh off news that the company is being purchased by Lenovo, Motorola unveiled some of its upcoming product plans including an ETA for the next-generation Moto X. The company confirmed during a Q&A session that the “next version of Moto X” will arrive sometime in “late Summer.” The news comes alongside plans to expand availability of its current smartphone lineup and the Moto Maker customization tool for Moto X customers.  Read more

Google, Samsung, Apple & others push EU to combat patent trolls

court-decision1Bloomberg reports that Google, Apple, Samsung and others have teamed up to co-sign a letter sent to the European Union requesting policy changes that will limit the ability of patent trolls to block product sales. Apple and Samsung are just two of 19 companies backing the letter:

Apple and Samsung are among 19 companies and associations that told the EU in a letter that a new court should limit the ability of companies that license technology to win court injunctions when the validity of the underlying patent is in dispute.

Manufacturers are turning to lawmakers and courts in Europe and America in battles with patent trolls, a derogatory term for intellectual property owners that don’t manufacturer products and instead rely on license fees. A similar group of companies are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to make it easier for them to collect legal fees in patent disputes.

As noted in the report, similar initiatives involving many of the same companies have recently been put before the U.S. Supreme Court. Apple made its feelings on patent trolls pretty clear in a recent FTC filing when it revealed that it was the subject of 92 lawsuits by patent assertion entities over the course of the past three years. That, Apple noted, is more than any other company. Google published its own blog post today noting “the current draft rules contain certain provisions that trolls could exploit, taking a potentially serious toll on economic growth and innovation in Europe.” Read more