For years, the Open Invention Network (OIN), the largest patent non-aggression ever, has protected Linux from patent attacks and patent trolls. Now, on October 13, 2020, it expanded its scope from core Linux programs and adjacent open-source code by expanding its Linux System Definition. In particular, that means patents relating to the Android Open Source Project (AOSP) 10 and the Extended File Allocation Table exFAT file system are now protected.
That’s important because for those of you with long memories Microsoft used to make billions from Android and exFAT-related patent licenses. Those days are long over, and this buries them for good.
First, Microsoft joined the OIN in 2018. Then, as Erich Andersen, then Microsoft’s corporate vice president and chief intellectual property (IP) counsel said at the time meant “We’re licensing all patents we own that read on the ‘Linux system.'” This includes patents pertaining to the File Allocation Table (FAT), Extended FAT (ExFAT), and Virtual (VFAT).
Then, in 2019, Microsoft went one step further. It announced it was “supporting the addition of Microsoft’s exFAT technology to the Linux kernel.” Developers immediately started adding exFAT to Linux. In May 2020, exFAT was added to the mainline kernel in Linux 5.7.
This is important because ExFAT is based on FAT, one of the first floppy disk file systems. Over time, FAT became Microsoft’s filesystem of choice for MS-DOS and Windows. It would become the default file system for many applications. But, with a hard limit of 4GB file systems, it’s days were numbered.
Microsoft extended FAT to larger and flash memory storage devices such as USB drives and SD cards in 2006 with exFAT. Both FAT and exFAT are used in hundreds of millions of devices including all Android phones. Indeed, exFAT is the official file system for the SD Card
Microsoft recently published a security blog that warned about a sophisticated new ransomware variant. Not, as you might expect, ransomware that impacts users of the Windows operating system, though. Nope, instead, this was a warning for Android users.
The discovery of a context-aware machine learning code module in the MalLocker.B certainly deserves the sophisticated tag. However, that module has yet to be activated, and more of that in a moment. What has grabbed the attention of Android users who have read the various reports online, it would seem, is the fact that MalLocker.B can effectively brick phones only with a press of the home button when answering a call. But how true is that, and how worried should Android smartphone users actually be?
First things first, this is a fascinating and highly detailed bit of technical blogging from the Microsoft security folk. As such, that is to be welcomed, as is all information that helps us understand how threats, including ransomware, are evolving. Most users, however, will not have read that report for the very same reason: it’s a technical deep dive. That’s a shame, but not unsurprising. The job of journalists and reporters in the information security space is to explain such highly technical revelations in a way that can be absorbed by almost anyone regardless of their level of technical understanding.
On the whole, I think ‘we’ do a pretty decent job of that, and the MalLocker.B reporting is no exception. Apart from one thing: my inbox would suggest that many readers are coming away with the idea that their Android smartphones are in danger of being bricked simply because they have pressed the home button in response to an incoming call. That is
Samsung’s One UI 3.0 update, which incorporates Android 11’s new features alongside some Samsung-specific improvements, has started rolling out in public beta in the US, SamMobile reports. The software is reportedly available for the T-Mobile variants of Samsung’s Galaxy S20 lineup, including the standard S20, S20 Plus, and S20 Ultra, though the rollout should expand in the hours and days ahead. If you’ve got a supported device, you can enroll in the beta via the Samsung Members app.
Thanks to the earlier developer beta release, we already have a pretty good idea of what to expect from One UI 3.0. There are minor UI tweaks like being able to touch and hold an app to quickly access its widgets, or double-tapping the home screen to turn off the phone’s display. A full list of these Samsung-specific improvements, which also include include DeX, stock app, and Bixby updates, can be found in a full changelog posted by Android Police.
As well as Samsung’s changes, One UI 3.0 also delivers Android 11’s new features, which include updated media player controls and notification panel tweaks. You can read all about them in our full Android 11 review. The update also includes Android’s latest security patch from October 2020, SamMobile reports.
Samsung’s One UI 3.0 beta launched in South Korea yesterday, and SamMobile reports that it’s expected to launch soon in China, Germany, India, Poland, and the United Kingdom.
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The overwhelming majority of smartphones on the market today are powered by Android or iOS, but it wasn’t long ago that Microsoft was in the game with Windows Phone and Windows 10 Mobile.
Windows 10 Mobile was Microsoft’s last attempt to gain traction with a smartphone operating system. It offered a distinctive Live Tile interface, a desktop mode for external displays, and support for universal Windows apps.
Unfortunately, the Achilles Heel for Microsoft’s latest mobile OS continued to be a lack of apps compared to Android and iOS. This would be a significant contributing factor to the platform’s demise, but did you know that Microsoft was in the advanced stages of bringing Android app support to Windows 10 Mobile?
Microsoft initially developed multiple software “bridges” for Windows 10 Mobile, with the purpose of helping developers easily port their apps from legacy Windows, iOS, and Android. The first two bridges, dubbed Project Islandwood and Project Centennial and designed for porting iOS and Windows, respectively, actually saw the light of day.
The third bridge, dubbed Project Astoria, was unfortunately pulled from Windows 10 Mobile ahead of its commercial release. However, the Android sub-system was available on preview builds of the then-new operating system, giving users an idea of what to expect.
It’s one thing to facilitate easier porting of apps from one platform to another, but Project Astoria and the associated sub-system was a little more advanced. The project actually made it possible for end-users to install Android apps on their phones too. To do so, you needed to enable developer mode on your phone running the Windows 10 Mobile preview, install the APK2W10M internal app on your PC, connect your phone to the PC, and then deploy the desired app.
Preview builds of Windows 10 Mobile allowed you to