Almost a month ago to the day, it was revealed by The New York Times that BLU - a smartphone manufacturer that largely sells rebranded handsets from Southeast Asia in the US - was among a group of smartphone OEMs with software on their devices sending private user data like text messages back to a company in China. The offending software's behavior was quickly patched with an OTA update to the phone, but the damage, it seemed, was done. BLU and the company who created the software both claim the data theft was entirely accidental, and that all user data the company in China received was promptly deleted. Read More
Blu took a substantial hit last month when security firm Kryptowire discovered a pre-installed service on several of the company's phones was sending users' data to a server in China. The offending service was part of the OTA update module provided by third-party company Adups. Blu has now promised to get rid of the Adups software after previously neutering it. Read More
Mobile security is a huge issue, but most consumers tend to think that at least a brand new phone is safe. That assumption may be in error, according to security research firm Kryptowire. In a new report Kryptowire documents the inclusion of software tools collectively called Adups, which allegedly shipped on phones like the Blu R1 HD and other devices sold internationally, including the US market via Amazon and Best Buy. Read More
The BLU R1 HD is a cheap Android phone, made even cheaper by its release as an Amazon Prime Exclusive device. You pay $50 (or $60 for the 16GB/2GB RAM version) for the phone instead of its original $100 price tag, but you get Amazon's apps pre-installed and its ads on the lockscreen. It's not that bad really: David has been trying to live with it for a month and hasn't faced many issues beside the "slowening", ie. the fact that the phone gets slower the more you use it.
If you've had an eye on this device either as your main phone or maybe as a Pokémon GO phone (hey, we understand), but you just can't bring yourself to accept Amazon's bloat, there's good news for you. Read More
Aziz Ansari's cultishly popular Master of None is a show you should watch (and also a Netflix exclusive). Ansari plays Dev, a not-convincingly-struggling actor in New York City. At one point, he is cast as a doctor in a film called The Sickening. Which, in the words of the show, is a "black virus" movie. The plot is familiar: there's some kind of unstoppable super-plague that turns everyone into not-zombies, and Dev's character is the one man who is trying to stop it. He, too, of course, succumbs to The Sickening in the end.
The purposely generic and vague namesake of that fake movie, though, I find is perfectly fit to be coopted and molded for use in describing a common Android smartphone phenomenon: the slowening. Read More
Pokémon GO is a phenomenon. And to an extent that I think Niantic and Nintendo scarcely could have imagined. Last night, my girlfriend and I walked down the street to have a nice dinner, and on the way there I counted four or five people clearly playing GO (several were walking their dogs).
On the way back, we spotted a small crowd - perhaps a dozen or so - standing outside of a rather famous recording studio in our neighborhood. "Oh," I said to my girlfriend, "there must be some kind of event at the studio tonight." As we walked closer, I noticed these weren't the, uh, sort of individuals who I'd expect at a venue like this. Read More
A $60 smartphone (or rather, $50 - but hold on) is basically a headline unto itself. It is a novelty solely because of its cost. And that makes talking about it in a way that doesn’t always use “yeah, but it’s only $60” as a reflexive crutch difficult. (Which is not to say I won't do that, because I will. Probably even in this post. Several times.)
BLU’s Amazon-supported R1 HD is far from the cheapest smartphone ever. And it’s far from being a revolutionary product - the only thing interesting about it is, frankly, the business model. And in particular, Amazon’s proposition that it being a nag on your lockscreen and in your app drawer is worth $50 if you’re already a Prime member. Read More