Google recently confirmed that “Dark Mode” on Android phones uses less power and thus, helps to boost battery life.

Most websites and OS screens do all they can to make it easier to see them on the diminutive screens of our smartphones.  That means bright white backgrounds and bright colors are used to highlight what designers and webmasters want you to see.

Unfortunately, the brightness of those colors and the brightness of the screen itself both impact the power consumption of the display, and by extension, the life of your battery.

Dark Mode essentially reverses color themes, replacing white backgrounds with black.  How much power does this simple change save?  Well, according to Business Insider, Dark Mode uses 43 percent less power than normal mode in the YouTube App, which is white-heavy.

If it is an established fact though, that dark backgrounds are less power intensive than white ones, why does everyone insist on white backgrounds?

Actually, Google bears at least some responsibility for that, as the company has been quietly encouraging app developers to use the color white as backgrounds for their interfaces for years, via the company’s “Material Design Specification.”

The company is in the process of shifting gears and plans to roll out a Dark Mode for all Google apps in the future, though no firm data has been established for this.

In any case, the bottom line is that Dark Mode is good for your battery.  If you want to enable it on your Android device, just do the following:

  • Go to “Settings”
  • Tap “Display” then “Advanced” then “Device Theme”
  • Then tap “Dark”

That’s it.  You’re in Dark Mode.

If you want to enable Dark Mode for YouTube, here’s how:

  • Launch YouTube on your Android Device
  • Tap the profile icon (top right corner)
  • Go to “Settings” and then “General”
  • Tap the toggle switch for “Dark Theme” to enable it, then tap the back button. Your theme changes will automatically be saved.

 

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Google is making a small but pivotal change as it relates to calls placed to 911 operators.  They recently finalized a complex partnership with T-Mobile and two emergency technology companies, RapidSOS and West.  Google will now send location data from its “Emergency Location Service” when an Android user places a 911 call.

If the caller is a T-Mobile customer, the information will be passed along via the carrier. Where 911 call centers use RapidSOS, Google will send the location data via the technology company.  In the US Virgin Islands, Google has made the same arrangement with the Emergency Tech company, West.

While the announcement may raise some surprised eyebrows, the change has been in the works for more than a year. Google has spent much of that time testing.  Their findings were that the location data Google sent over was more accurate and arrived more quickly than the data the 911 call centers had been getting previously.

Not to be outdone, Apple announced in June of this year that it was developing a similar service for iOS users.  Beginning with iOS 12, Apple devices would automatically send location data to emergency call centers when users dial 911.

Even privacy advocates agree that this is generally a good move.  It’s one of the growing number of instances where smart use of technology can save lives.  Anything we can do to give our nation’s emergency call centers an edge is an important change. Currently, those call centers take an average of 140,000 calls a day, so this is by no means a trivial issue.

Kudos to both Google and Apple for taking bold action on this issue.  While we may not like the idea of having our location data shared, in this particular instance, it certainly seems like a smart play.

More on 911 Panic Systems

We hope to see more companies and establishments incorporating safety features like 911 alerts.  If your business or property is serious about staff safety, consider equipping your employees with 911 panic buttons.  Brash Concepts provides the installation, testing, and training of panic duress systems.  Contact us for a quote and more information.

Google security researchers have revealed last week that the immensely popular Fortnite Android app is vulnerable to man-in-the-disk (MitD) attacks.

This vulnerability allows low-privileged malicious apps already installed on a users’ phone to hijack the Fortnite app’s installation process and install other malicious apps that have a higher permissions level.

Fortnite’s developer, Epic Games, has released version 2.1.0 that fixes this problem.

What are MitD attacks?

Simply put, MitD attacks can happen when an Android app stores data on external storage mediums, outside its highly-secured internal storage space.  An attacker can watch a specific app’s External Storage space and tamper with the data stored because this space is shared by all apps.

The Fortnite app is vulnerable to these types of attacks because the app doesn’t contain the actual game, but is merely an installer. Once users install the app, the device accesses the external storage space to install the actual game.

“Any app with the WRITE_EXTERNAL_STORAGE permission can substitute the APK immediately after the download is completed and the fingerprint is verified. This is easily done using a FileObserver. The Fortnite Installer will proceed to install the substituted (fake) APK,” a Google researcher wrote in a recent public bug report.

“If the fake APK has a targetSdkVersion of 22 or lower, it will be granted all permissions it requests at install-time. This vulnerability allows an app on the device to hijack the Fortnite Installer to instead install a fake APK with any permissions that would normally require user disclosure,” the researcher added.

In their defense, Epic Games’ CEO Tim Sweeney claims Google released this information prematurely.

“We asked Google to hold the disclosure until the update was more widely installed. They refused, creating an unnecessary risk for Android users in order to score cheap PR points,” Sweeney said on Twitter.

Google refused Epic Games’ request and made the bug report public in late August, a week after Epic Games released its patch.  This made many people believe this was payback after Epic Games pulled the Android app from the Play Store so the game developer could keep 100% of the games’ profits.

The move was criticized by many security experts, who warned about possible security flaws that might go under the radar because the app wasn’t scanned by Google’s Bouncer service before reaching users’ devices.

“Google did privately communicate something to the effect that they’re monitoring Fortnite installations on all Android devices(!) and felt that there weren’t many unpatched installs remaining,” Sweeney said.

In conclusion…

Whether Epic Games or Google is in the right or wrong is up to you decide, but security risks are happening all around us… at the office, at home, free public Wi-Fi… The question is: how secure are your devices and how much of your personal identity information is at risk?

Contact us for questions, concerns, and how you can protect yourself, your family, and your business from cyber-criminals.

 

*Original Source: BleepingComputer.com