All posts in “Tech”

Next version of Android might finally get a dark theme

Android is about to get... darker.
Android is about to get… darker.

Image: Lili Sams/Mashable

Programmers, night owls and dark lords have been asking for a system-wide dark theme on Android since forever, and it seems Google has finally listened. 

Android Q, which is currently in the very early stages, has a built-in dark theme — and several other interesting new features — according to XDA Developers.

According to the report, the early Android Q variant that XDA managed to run on the Google Pixel 3 XL has a “fully functional system-wide dark mode,” which can be enabled in the Display Settings by choosing “Set Dark Mode.” Once enabled, it turns all the menus in Android to a pleasant white-text-on-dark-grey-surface color scheme.

This includes Settings, Launcher, Files, the volume panel and third-party notifications (note that some of Google’s apps, such as YouTube, already have a dark theme). There also seems to be an option that appears to enable dark mode for apps that don’t have this option, turning pretty much everything dark (even Facebook, though that particular app does not respond too well to this and looks wonky in certain places). 

This is what the "dark theme" looks like on Huawei's Mate 20 Pro. Android Q's idea of dark theme is a bit lighter, though.

This is what the “dark theme” looks like on Huawei’s Mate 20 Pro. Android Q’s idea of dark theme is a bit lighter, though.

Image: Stan Schroeder/Mashable

Some Android makers have their own version of this — for example, Huawei’s Mate 20 pro has a similar feature, and I love it. And even if you don’t care about the visuals, note that dark mode saves your battery, as it takes a lot less light to show dark grey than white on an LCD screen. 

Other new features spotted in Android Q include restricting certain permissions, such as location, to work only when the app is in use, as well as a desktop mode, perhaps similar to Samsung’s DeX

Android Q is still in its early stages and it’s quite possible that some (or all) of these features won’t make it to the final version, but I’ll keep my fingers crossed that they do. 

For a detailed overview of the new features in Android Q, check out XDA’s post over here

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LG may be jumping on the ‘foldable’ phone train. But there’s a twist.

LG's second screen might come as an attachment.
LG’s second screen might come as an attachment.

Image: PAU BARRENA/AFP/Getty Images

LG is joining the “foldable” phone craze, but the company’s approaching the concept in a novel way. 

According to a report from CNET, LG will launch a smartphone that will allow users to attach a second screen, potentially doubling the total screen size.

The details are vague, but it seems that the attachment carrying the second screen might in fact be a case. It’s likely that the phone — alongside other devices — will be launched at the Mobile World Congress trade show, which kicks off on Feb 25 in Barcelona.

The concept of a second screen on a case is not entirely new; Alcatel did something similar in 2014, and we’ve seen phone cases with an additional E Ink screen, but the idea never really caught on. 

Alcatel's MagicFlip cover had a sort of a second screen back in 2014.

Alcatel’s MagicFlip cover had a sort of a second screen back in 2014.

Image: Jennifer Osborne/Mashable

This might be a smart play for LG, whose smartphone division isn’t afraid to experiment, albeit sometimes with disastrous results (remember the modular LG G5 and its “friends”?). Yes, foldable phones are a definite trend coming into 2019, but it’s still early days for them and the concept is thoroughly untested in the real world. My guess is that developing the second-screen-case-thingy was cheaper than developing a foldable phone, so it might be a cost-effective way of riding with the trend. And, if foldable phones turn out to be a dud, LG won’t be as much in the red as, say, Samsung. 

It’s also worth noting that LG publicly said it’s experimenting with “many” form factors for smartphones, including foldable and rollable designs. 

LG is known to “leak” details about its own upcoming devices ahead of a big show, so expect more news about the company’s new phones in the weeks ahead. 

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Microsoft is dropping a lot of money to help improve affordable housing in Seattle

Microsoft is spending $500 million to help affordable housing.
Microsoft is spending $500 million to help affordable housing.

Image: Stephen Brashear/Getty Images

Where the tech sector has boomed, affordable housing has suffered.

Now, Microsoft is following other tech giants in wanting to be part of the solution, announcing a $500 million fund targeting homelessness and affordable housing in Seattle on Wednesday.

It’s the biggest pledge in the company’s history, and one of the largest by a private corporation towards housing, according to the Seattle Times. 

Seattle, much like Northern California, is facing a lack of affordable housing, as the rapid growth of tech has led to people being priced out of the housing market.

A municipal report from December declared the Seattle region needs 240,000 more affordable housing units by 2040, to ensure low-income households are not spending more than 30 percent of their income on housing.

“At some level we as a region are going to need to either say there are certain areas where we’re comfortable having more people live, or we just want permanently to force the people who are going to teach our kids in schools, and put out the fires in our houses and keep us alive in the hospital, to spend four hours every day getting to and from work,” Microsoft president Brad Smith told the Seattle Times.

“That is not, in our view, the best outcome for the community.”

Where the money is going

The majority of the funds ($250 million) will go toward market-rate loans to build low-income housing in the King County region, which encompasses the Seattle metropolitan area.

Another $225 million will be loaned to developers at below-market rates for the construction and preservation of middle-income housing, with investments to be initially made in six cities east of Seattle: Bellevue, Kirkland, Redmond, Issaquah, Renton and Sammamish.

Finally, $25 million will be used for grants to help address homelessness in the Seattle region, such as the Home Base program, which allows people facing eviction from their homes access to flexible funds and legal representation.

Microsoft’s pledge eclipses those made by other tech giants. Down in California, Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan have put their money towards affordable housing initiatives through their foundation.

Facebook’s soon-to-come Willow Campus, will have 15 percent of its 1,500 homes offered at below-market rates. Google is partnering with a developer and the City of Mountain View to build 6,600 units on its doorstep, with 20 percent to be designated as affordable housing.

Microsoft said it had been working on the plan for the last eight months. It conceded that more money will be needed to solve these issues, as well as public policy changes to help make affordable housing more attractive to build.

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Nearly 22 million unique passwords leaked in ‘Collection #1’ data breach

It’s time to change your password again.

More than 87GB of passwords and email addresses have been leaked and distributed in a folder dubbed “Collection #1” by hackers in a significant data breach.

As detailed by security researcher Troy Hunt, the trove of nearly 22 million unique passwords and more than 772 million email addresses was hosted on cloud storage service MEGA.

The link to the dump was posted on a hacking forum, but has been since taken down from the service.

Hunt explains the cache of emails and passwords were built up from numerous data breaches from allegedly thousands of sources, dating all the way back to 2008.  

He came across the collection of files after he was alerted by “multiple people” last week, and discovered the breach even includes an email address and password he used years ago.

“Like many of you reading this, I’ve been in multiple data breaches before which have resulted in my email addresses and yes, my passwords, circulating in public,” he wrote. 

“Fortunately, only passwords that are no longer in use, but I still feel the same sense of dismay that many people reading this will when I see them pop up again.”

Hunt has loaded the email addresses and passwords into his site, haveibeenpwned, which allows people to be notified when their email has been tangled in a breach, or check if a password has been exposed and is thus unsuitable for use.

After you’re done checking whether if your email address or password has been compromised, it’s worth looking into a password manager, or even an analog one like a notebook, where you can store difficult to remember passwords in.

“It might be contrary to traditional thinking, but writing unique passwords down in a book and keeping them inside your physically locked house is a damn sight better than reusing the same one all over the web,” he added.

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The sad story of an alleged SIM swapper who boosted millions

Get that SIM.
Get that SIM.

Image: Thomas Trutschel / getty

You probably shouldn’t feel sorry for Nicholas Truglia. It’s just that his story is so pathetic.

The 21-year old Manhattan resident was arrested last November and extradited to California in December. There, he’d face 21 felony counts relating to accusations of SIM swapping his way to a million dollars worth of stolen cryptocurrency. While Truglia’s fate remains unclear, details of his life leading up to the arrest have begun to emerge thanks to a lawsuit filled by a separate alleged victim, and oh man is it a wild ride. 

As Krebs on Security reports, a lawsuit filed by Michael Terpin — a cryptocurrency investor and self-described “thought leader” — against Truglia claims he lost over $23 million after Truglia SIM swapped him and drained his crypto accounts in January of 2018. That document, and a supporting affidavit by one of Truglia’s former friends, tells the story of a cash-flush young man who saw himself as untouchable. 

And, perhaps unsurprisingly, they also paint Truglia as kind of an asshole. 

The now-deleted Twitter profile pic of @erupts, the account allegedly once belonging to Truglia.

The now-deleted Twitter profile pic of @erupts, the account allegedly once belonging to Truglia.

Image: twitter / waybackmachine

“Nick likened himself to Robin Hood who robs from the rich but did not give to the poor,” explained Chris David, former associate of Truglia’s, in the aforementioned affidavit. 

Instead, the documents paint a picture of someone who delighted in giving to himself — in the form of a Rolex, a $6,000-a-month apartment, and a $100,000 stack of cash he kept on his credenza. But that clearly wasn’t enough for him.

According to David, Truglia operated the now-suspended Twitter account @erupts, where he lamented that his wealth didn’t bring him friends, and even bragged about SIM swapping his dad.  

Exhibit D

Image: screenshot / superior court of california

“Stole 24 million but still can’t keep a friend,” reads one alleged Truglia tweet saved by David and included in his supporting affidavit. 

Ouch.

Image: twitter / waybackmachine

David’s affidavit is filled with some other gems, as well. 

“Nick arrogantly proclaims that he will never [be] caught hacking/stealing because he is so good at it—literally, ‘how are they going to prove that my story [his defense] wrong?,'” he wrote. “Nick also boasted: ‘Nobody can get me in trouble. Nobody can put me in jail. I would bet my life on it, actually.'”

That is a watch.

Image: twitter / waybackmachine

In addition to supposedly boasting about how he would never be caught, David says Truglia took pleasure in life’s small things: Like, for example, skipping out on a restaurant check and repeatedly beating his dog. 

Sounds fun.

Image: screenshot / SUPERIOR COURT OF CALIFORNIA

Obviously, Truglia was eventually arrested. According to Krebs On Security, his court date is set for April 10.

Terpin, for his part, wants his money back. “I have brought this lawsuit as part my ongoing effort to recover my losses caused by the perpetrators of the January 7, 2018 theft,” he explained to the court

Which, hey, why not. As this lawsuit makes clear, stranger things have happened. 

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