Dual-screen Android Smartphone from Microsoft

After a 4-year break, Microsoft is jumping back into the smartphone business but this time with a couple significant changes; their new phone will be running Android 10 and the phone, called the Surface Duo, will be a dual screen/dual battery folding design.

Other manufacturers have tried hinged or folding phones before but they have never been able to stand up to the harsh realities of actual use. Microsoft has gone at it differently by using an actual strong hinge to accomplish the fold. The result is that the dual 5.6″ AMOLED screens can combine to yield a huge 8.1″ diagonal display. The combined resolution is 2,700 x 1,880 pixels.

Also interesting is that the hinge swivels a full 360-degrees which means it can open partway like a book, flat like a tablet, or even bend back-to-back. Portrait or landscape modes are selectable.

Microsoft has also designed this smartphone to be a multitasker. It has the power and capability to run two apps side-by-side. So think of a video conference running on one screen while you surf the web on the other.

The 11-MP camera should produce nice results and the the phone can be had with either 128GB or 256GB of storage space. Interestingly, there are two batteries or about 3,600 mAh each. Weight is just under 9-ounces and when closed the Duo is only 5.7″ tall and 3.66″ wide. Thickness is just under 10mm (a little more than 1/3″)

The Surface Duo will be available September 10 with pricing starting at $1,399 and supporting all major cell carriers.

Galaxy Phone Meltdown

If you’ve been following the saga this year of vulnerabilities discovered in CPUs used in most computers and smart devices, then you recognize the term ‘Meltdown’. It was coined to identify one of the vulnerabilities attributed to design flaws internal to many popular microprocessors. Now we can add a wildly popular smartphone to the list of affected devices – the Samsung Galaxy S7.

In a story from Reuters, it’s now been determined that the microprocessor used in the tens of millions of S7s sold worldwide also contains the Meltdown vulnerability and therefore can expose user data or trick applications into revealing confidential information.

Samsung said it introduced patches in January and July to protect S7 phones against Meltdown.

Is it a safe guess that other smartphones may also have the same problem? It’s not yet known but in the meantime make sure you keep your phone up to date – just in case.

Everyone stay safe out there!


Your TV Can Now Get Held for Ransom?

The concept of the Internet of Things is appealing in many ways. It allows connectivity and interaction with devices which were not capable of being managed/monitored in the past. And when there one platform to link them all together, it gives a nice, consistent user interface and experience. But like most things in life, there’s a dark side to consider.

Consider FLocker – an Android based lock-screen ransomware. This one has been out there for a while but it’s being continuously being updated by the cybercriminals that produced it to keep it one step ahead of the firewall and antivirus companies. The latest version pretends to be from some law enforcement agency and accuses potential victims of crimes they didn’t commit. It now will also infect Smart TV’s that run the Android OS – effectively locking you out of your TV.

Consider a fully ‘smart home’ of connected devices and you can immediately see the possibility of them all getting infected and operation disrupted. Vendors haven’t thought this through yet, but they’ll need to – and soon.

Everyone stay safe out there!


Personal Computers Making a Comeback

A recent report from Gartner about shipments of PC’s, Tablets, Ultramobile, and Mobile Phone shipments sheds some light on what technologies people are using. And what’s interesting is that we are seeing a revitalization in traditional desktops with an actual forecast increase in PC shipments of 5.3% in 2015. This meshes with HP’s recent announcement that they are seeing activity up in their Personal Systems Group.

So what about tablets and smartphones? It seems that as that technology matures growth has slowed. We’ve seen these same trends here at MicroData.

What’s driving this shift? We believe that while portables and smartphones continue to have utility, for the worker that has to go to the office every day and work on a spreadsheet, a desktop computer is still a much more useful solution. Like any new technology, tablets and smartphones had a certain momentum when they were new because they were different. It appears that ‘shine’ has worn off now.

New Ransomware Targets iPhones & iPads

A new type of ransomware is appearing – mostly in Australia and the UK for now – that targets iPhones and iPads. The attack exploits the ‘Find My Phone’ feature to launch the attack and the bad guys have somehow got access to iCloud account info that’s used to lock the devices.

What happens is that suddenly your iPhone or iPad will lock itself and then you receive a message that you’ve been hacked by Oleg Pliss and you have to pay $100 US/EUR via PayPal to get the device unlocked.

Your best defense? Change your Apple ID credentials now.


Finally – Microsoft Releases a Remote Desktop App for Smartphones

One of our senior engineers, Matt Liacos, just found a great resource. On October 20 Microsoft released a Remote Desktop app for both Android and iPhones. This lets you connect seamlessly to any Windows 7/8 (Pro) desktop or Server. Company networks are fully supported via Terminal Server Gateway, Remote Desktop Web Access, and VPN (through iOS built-in VPN options).

Android users can download the client at: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.microsoft.rdc.android

iPhone users download at: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/id714464092?mt=8

For question about functionality and set up Microsoft has put together a FAQ in TechNet