Google and Android 4.x.x WebView security problem

So recently Google has been getting nothing but flak from the online community in regards to an existing security issue in Android 4.x.x with the exception of Android 4.4.x (Kitkat). I’ve been watching this problem, and reading about it for the last 2-3 weeks or so.

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Apparently in Kitkat Google overhauled WebView completely, and probably for a good reason. Here is a good read about it. What really surprised me is the fact that professional sites the likes of Ars and others are siding with the hardware manufacturers. Which leads me to believe and confirms my previous suspicions, these hacks know very little about technology or are getting kickbacks from companies.

First they need a lesson on Linux versioning which can be found here. The basics of it… 4.x.x denotes a major revision with new features and major updates, think Windows 7 vs Windows 8. 4.4.x is a minor revision with bug fixes and probable feature additions and fixes, think Windows Service Packs. 4.4.4. is an insignificant update generally associated with bug fixes only, think Windows Updates.

As far as I am concerned Google did their part, they updated Android 4 all the way to 4.4.4, overhauled WebView and inturn fixed what was ailing previous versions of it on Android. This practice is similar to Windows releasing service packs, going from Windows 8 to Windows 8.1. The underlying OS is the same, however some features were fixed or replaced.

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I’m glad this issue is getting the light of day, because this raises a bigger problem that exists with the OEM Android hardware manufacturers, NOT with Google.

The culprits responsible for this issue are the OEMs. The Samsungs of the world. They are the ones responsible for updating their hardware with the software that Google provides them. They have Android 4.4.4 which is immune to the issue, but the problem is that the life expectancy of their devices is so short. So short that you might get one or two software revision updates if your lucky. The life expectancy of a Samsung phone is 1.5-2 years at most. The S4 is getting it’s last update this spring to version 5. I guarantee you after this the S4 will be abandoned by Samsung.

The life expectancy of a Nexus device is about 3 years. Apple does the same thing. After 3 years you can not expect an OEM to support their device anymore. The hardware tech moves so fast that is is nearly impossible to do so as well.

Yes the old version of WebView is patched via Google Play, where the new one is done via firmware updates. But I still believe that manufacturers should take responsibility and update their hardware, yet no one is screaming bloody murder in their direction. So the issue is not that google will not patch the problem, they already have. The issue is that OEMs the likes of Samsung are not willing to push software updates to their old devices. It is the OEMs

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BBM: Why you should be using it and the benefits of BlackBerry Messenger.

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So finally after about two years of picture leaks of the beta BBM for Android it arrived. I’ve head the chance to play with the service on an Android device. So what is the big deal you may ask, why is everyone flocking to BBM?

There are several reasons for this I would like to think. For the majority of us it may be nostalgia, but I hope it is the feature set that is available and that has not yet arrived. 10 million users downloaded the application in a span of 24 hours, could they be wrong?

So what are the benefits of using BBM when I can use Whatsapp, LiveProfile or similar chat progrmas? Well firstly BBM is secure encrypted communication. Profiles on the BBM platform are identified by a 8 character hexadecimal key string (PIN), it’s not email nor is a user id just a generic unidentifiable PIN. In a world where the NSA deems itself the world police for communications, weather sitting on a public wifi or using your providers data plan and chatting via BBM, it is encrypted using your PIN. No one should be able to sniff and read your communications. The encrypted communications part is the biggest selling feature for myself, maybe it is a false sense of security, or perhaps not, but having some security is better than none. Another benefit of the BBM platform is that you do not require a cellular data connection, it can work off WiFi. If you’re travelling across the pond or just to your neighbour next door, you plop in a SIM card with a data plan and your contacts will know who they’re communicating with.

BBM plays great with my battery on the Nexus 4, I’ve seen an improvement in battery usage already. My SMS application eats battery when in heavy usage, BBM doesn’t seem to even scratch the surface of what the default SMS applicaiton consumes.

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Then there is the elephant in the room. Sometimes SMS and MMS messages do not go through. They are very unreliable and this is just a fact of life. The unreliability of SMS/MMS communication has actually one time lead me to break up with a woman, lol. She would get very irritated with me when I wouldn’t reply to her texts. I tried to explain to her what the problem was, but she just woudln’t get it. So I had to cut the cord. With BBM you know if the message has been sent, delivered, and read, this is where the reliability comes in. Also the huge infrastructure and the time that RIM… err, BlackBerry has been at this for gives them an advantage in this space.

My personal favourite for BBM on the Android device is being able to add a contact to BBM via NFC. Open your BBM on both devices and touch your phones, they will vibrate, your screen will zoom out, you press the screen, and voila the contact is passed and added to BBM on both devices. Android to Blackberry NFC contacts are even simpler, you just touch the devices back to back and contacts are added on both devices.

So what is missing from BBM for Android and iOS? Two things, video chat and screen sharing. These will be added at a later date, this is straight from the horses mouth.

And lastly because… CANADA, F**K YEAH!

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Update: Apparently BB said that the video and sharing features will be available on Android and iOS within months. Also what I have been wondering is how they play on monetizing BBM, welcome to BBM Channels a new social media feature on the BBM. Check it out.