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The Mind Tech Podcast: Episode 16

July 3rd, 2013

MindSet

[audio:http://www.podtrac.com/pts/redirect.mp3/mindsetcentral.com/mp3/mindtech/mtech16.mp3]

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Paranoid Android

Hosted by Gareth Davies and Joe Ressington

The Mind Tech Podcast is your weekly dose of tech, privacy, security and conspiracy.

Each week we’ll talk about the very latest tech news and the continued threats to internet freedom.

Mind Tech News:

Google reader dead

Government wiretaps were foiled by encryption for the first time in 2012

Palantir is helping California police develop controversial license plate database

 

Android

Mobile OS geared towards touch devices like phones and tablets.

Powers other devices like TVs, games consoles, E-readers and soon there will be watches.

Announced in 2007 and released in 2008 running on the T-Mobile G1.

Has a Linux kernel but not GNU. Uses Dalvik virtual machine (similar to a Java VM).

Open source but as Stallman points out in this article, Honeycomb (version 3) wasn't open sourced until 4.0 came out. Also most Android phones need proprietary firmware and drivers in order to use most of the hardware. Also the Google applications (Maps, Gmail etc) are proprietary.

The good

Relatively open platform in terms of what software you can install on it. By default you can only install software from the Play Store but you just have to go into the menu and tick a box to be able to install anything you want. This is very different to iOS devices (jailbreaking etc).

Because it is somewhat open source there is a large development community which makes various alternative ROMs which can be installed on some devices. Cyanogenmod is the most popular.

To do that you need to unlock the bootloader (often have to gain root access to do that) and flash (copy) the new ROM to the device. In my experience, custom roms are faster and have no bloatware but don't work perfectly. Camera/flash buggy etc.

Huge choice of hardware. Unlike iOS which is only available on Apple devices, Android is available on a massive range of phones and tablets ranging from dirt cheap pieces of crap to high end devices like the Galaxy S4 and Nexus 4.

The bad

Fragmentation is a big problem. Often phones and tablets will get one or two updates if you are lucky. Often you won't get any updates at all, including security updates. This leads to phones having old versions of Android and makes it difficult for developers. This is the downside to having so many manufacturers and carriers (networks) selling Android phones.

The interesting

There are x86 ports of Android. There are even some Atom based phones and tablets now like the Razr i. Android x86 works quite well on my new touch screen laptop.

The elephant in the room

Like Windows, Android slows down over time. At least in my experience.

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