Android Phones Can Be Hacked – By displaying An Image

It should be no surprise by now that your phone can be hacked. But did you know it can be done just by you looking at an image on your phone?

Yes, I know this particular vulnerability doesn’t really pass as “news” anymore. It was patched on February 4, and The Inquirer reported about it over two weeks ago. But I drafted this post the day Google released the February Android security bulletin, and there’s no way in hell that effort will go down the drain. So this post gets published, news-worthy or not!

So what’s the issue? Let’s see what Google writes in their February security bulletin:

The most severe of these issues is a critical security vulnerability in Framework that could allow a remote attacker using a specially crafted PNG file to execute arbitrary code within the context of a privileged process.

Android Security Bulletin — February 2019

Allrighty then…

Dump Google

Google shows its true colors, and removes “don’t be evil” from the code of conduct. It’s time to dump Google.

For years, Google’s been the good guys of the internet. They’ve provided great services without showing a single stick up their customers collective asses. But when they decided to go to bed with the Pentagon war machine, those of us with an ethical backbone started to feel a tiny tingle in the pooper. I covered the utterly moronic decision in the post You Might Be Helping Pentagon Train Killer Dones back in March.

Even Google’s own employees thought playing with Pentagon was a bad idea, and several thousand of them petitioned the company to end the so called Project Maven. About a dozen employees even quit the company in the wake of information about the project surfacing. But that’s a tiny drop in the vast ocean that is Google. With its 85,000 employees, a dozen resignations don’t make a difference.

Now Google has decided to go full anal fist instead, removing the well-known “don’t be evil” from its code of conduct. For me, this is a clear sign the once beloved company is heading in the wrong direction.

It’s time to dump Google.

The Superbook

A great many of us are walking around with a very powerful computer in our pocket: The smartphone. Today’s high-end models boast more CPU power than laptops, and many times more than a vintage super computer.

But no matter how powerful your smartphone is, it’s hard to harvests its potential for productivity. Today, the vast majority of smartphones are used as very, very efficient entertainment devices. I suspect that the main reason is that their screens are too small to be used efficiently for non-entertainment tasks that typically take more than 30 seconds to complete, like writing documents, computer programming, and creating presentations. All the tools to perform such tasks are in fact available for your smartphone, but using them is a pain.

The screen size problem is to a degree solved by tablets and phablets, the latter often accompanied by a stylus pen. But a high-end tabled and phablet will set you back as much as a high-end smartphone, and suddenly you’re walking around with two dreadfully expensive devices that only differ in screen size. Also, while a large screen is helpful, tablets and phablets lack one of the key1 productivity features: A physical keyboard.

What this basically means is that what you really need is a laptop. The powerful-and-productive-yet-still-mobile-device laptop segment is currently being filled by ultrabooks form-factor laptops: portable and powerful, with a large screen and a physical keyboard. But a high-end ultrabook is even more expensive than a state-of-the-art smartphone. So now you need to carry your precious smartphone, and the freakishly valuable ultrabook with you.

But what if it was possible to buy a cheap, ultrabook-sized computer shell with a large screen, and a physical keyboard? The shell comes with no hard drive, CPU, RAM, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or any other of the usual ultrabook features, but simply connects to your smartphone over USB to utilize all its hardware and software. Andromium Inc. might have a solution for us. Let’s hear what Andrew Jiang, co-founder of Andromium Inc. has to say:

2014 Android Photo Editing App Review – The Verdict

More reviews! There has been a lot of them this year, and over the last month, there has been a lot of Android reviews in particular. But after this post, I’ll calm down a little, as least with the Android stuff.

After the 2014 Android Camera App Review – The Verdict post, I decided to go ahead and find a photo editing app for my Android phone. I picked three popular apps from the photography category in the Google Play store and took a deep dive into each one of them (links are to my reviews):

Based solely on the review score, Photo Editor comes out on top. While it’s a great piece of software and without doubt the most feature rich and powerful app pf the three, the learning curve is rather steep. Photo Editor really requires you to spend a lot of time with it to get a good result, so if you’re looking for a quickie, I’d recommend that you got for PhotoDirector or Snapseed instead.

All three apps have their own strong sides and in some ways complement each other. So why not use all three? PhotoDirector is somewhat handicapped by its resolution limit in the free version, and you should consider paying for the full version if you plan to use it often. The free version of Photo Editor only show you an ad without removing any features, but if you are bothered by ads, you can turn them off by upgrading. It’ll cost you roughly half of what you have to spend on the full version of PhotoDirector. Snapseed is totally free, compliments of Google, but on the downside it hasn’t been updated in almost a year.

While you might think that we’ve found the ultimate collection of photo editing apps to cover your every need, we’ve not. All these apps could have been replaced by a single one: Pixlr Express – photo editing (review). It’s feature packed, easy to use and very quick. But for some moronic reason, the creator Autodesk has decided that it’s a great idea to wipe out the original EXIF data when you save a photo edited with the app. It’s not a great idea, it’s a bad idea.

But until Autodesk decides to fix this, the winners are all of the reviewed apps: Photo Editor, PhotoDirector and Snapseed. Happy photo editing!


SnapseedThis is the third post in a short series of Android photo editing and post-processing app reviews.

Snapseed is an interesting piece of software. It is developed by Nik Software, who, since they were founded back in 1995, mostly spent their time developing photographic filters for Adobe PhotoShop. But in 2011, they released Snapseed on the iPad, then a desktop version for Microsoft Windows in 2012 before they were acquired by Google. In late December, Snapseed was also released for Android devices. Many of the features in Snapseed also found their way into Google Plus and Google eventually discontinued the desktop version of the software.

While the other apps I’ve reviewed lately are updated quite frequently by their developers, Snapseed hasn’t seen any updates since October last year, which is pretty lame. There might be many reasons for this, but if I’m to speculate, I would say that Google is probably working on incorporating Snapseed features into their own camera app, Google Camera – or perhaps an advanced version of that app. Until that happens – if it ever does – there’s no reason why you can’t use Snapseed with all of its features (as described by Nik Software on in the Google Play Store) even if its not updated at the moment:

  • Auto Correct – Automatically analyzes your photo and adjusts color and exposure to perfection.
  • Selective Adjust – Make precise selections and enhancements to specific areas of your photos in seconds with Nik Software’s revolutionary U Point technology.
  • Tune Image – Use Ambience to create depth and vibrancy that uniquely adapts to colors and textures. Adjust White Balance, Saturation, Contrast, more.
  • Straighten & Rotate – Rotate 90° and/or straighten photos with simple gesture controls.
  • Crop – Easily crop images to remove distracting parts of your photo with standard aspect ratios, or a free crop.
  • Create enhancements – Black and white, vintage films, drama, grunge, tilt-shift, details, center focus, frames and retrolux.