#1 By: Cory Doctorow, November 13th, 2013 13:17
#2 By: technogeek, November 13th, 2013 13:50
Hm. That may finally convince me to get an Android toy.
#3 By: Edwin Gore, November 13th, 2013 13:53
Isn't the fact that an app from the store can do this a security concern? I mean, in this case you are aware of what is going on, but should any app be able to root your device and replace your OS?
#4 By: Stephen Schenck, November 13th, 2013 13:56
*- so long as you have a PC running Vista or better, which instantly excludes a huge swath of potential users.
#5 By: SamSam, November 13th, 2013 13:58
It's actually not a security concern, as far as I know, because in order to unlock the bootloader, Android first wipes the internal memory (specifically for security issues).
So when you tell this thing to run, it will first warn you to make sure that everything is backed up because everything will be wiped.
#6 By: marco, November 13th, 2013 14:06
That protects the confidentiality of anything you had on the phone prior to installing the app. It doesn't do anything for the confidentiality of what you do on the phone after installing the app.
So, I'd say it mitigates but does completely eliminate the security concern.
A scenario where there is a real security concern with an app doing this (not this app, as it makes clear what's going on, but a malicious app using similar powers)
the OS installed would look just like the stock OS, except it contains hidden capabilities the user doesn't want (spying on them, leaking passwords, posting unappetizing food photos to Flickr, etc.)
in order to escape detection, you'd have to target people's early use of the phone - convince people to install it as one of their first actions with a new phone. Then hopefully, they haven't put too much data into the phone, and might chalk its loss up to OS updates going badly or something.
The latter point actually might not be that hard - for instance, monitoring a user's social network activity for the first "posted via twitfacespace for Android" status.
#7 By: Épinards & Caramel, November 13th, 2013 14:11
You could install Cyanogenmod before this, you know.
#8 By: Stephen Schenck, November 13th, 2013 14:45
You realize that installing this requires more than just a download from the Play Store, right? You need to install a PC app and tether your phone to your PC over USB. It's all EXTREMELY intentional - no one's tricking anyone into installing malware in such a manner.
#9 By: Carsten Agger, November 13th, 2013 14:50
Argh: Download app, click, launch.
First notification: "You will need a Windows PC running Vista or newer, and a USB cable."
Who on Earth has a Windows PC these days? I haven't owned one since 2007.
#10 By: pedersentimothy, November 13th, 2013 15:15
I didn't read that until I had already tried installing... BOOOOO HISSSSSS
#11 By: technogeek, November 13th, 2013 15:34
Toy. It'd be primarily a fidget-toy and a convenience. I have no serious need for The Internet In My Pocket, as evinced by the fact that the closet thing to a smartphone I have now is a Palm Treo with no data plan.
#12 By: Dave Eckblad, November 13th, 2013 15:50
You should get out a little often bud. PCs are still the best choice for people that know how to save money or wish to use their computer as a tool and not just an appliance.
There are many ways to install roms on Android phones from OSX. Take the time to do some research.
#13 By: amordecosmos, November 13th, 2013 16:02
I have Cyanogenmond installed on my Kindle Fire, turning it from a crappy proprietary device running a modified Android 2.6 into a great little tablet running 4.2 Jelly Bean. Sadly, Kindle Fire is not on the list of supported devices for this mod.
But I heartily recommend it - Cyanogenmod is stable, robust, and awesome. I've never had it crash in the year since I installed it.
#14 By: marco, November 13th, 2013 16:03
In this case, yes. I'm not sure how necessary that is in the general case, or what if anything can be achieved without the PC part.
#15 By: Carsten Agger, November 13th, 2013 16:04
You misunderstand. I never owned a Mac either. Since 2007(-ish) I've only used free software on my PC's, mainly GNU/Linux distributions (mainly Ubuntu), but also FreeBSD.
And I know it's possible to install CyanogenMod from GNU/Linux, but I was allured by the notion of an app with a "one-click installer". Would have been a Very Good Thing, though.
#16 By: marco, November 13th, 2013 16:06
That's a bit of a bummer.
It is possible to install CM from Linux or OS X as well - but given the risk of bricking a phone, I would be very reluctant to try to mix and match methods (use the phone app that calls for this Windows app, but use that Linux software instead...)
#17 By: Carsten Agger, November 13th, 2013 16:07
No, I wouldn't try that either.
#18 By: zaren, November 13th, 2013 16:50
Well, then. The Android phone I bought to use with Virgin Mobile two years ago (that still runs 2.3) has been replaced by an iPhone, so it's got nothing better to do. I might give this a spin.
EDIT: Actually, my phone's not supported. So, never mind
#19 By: Phasma Felis, November 13th, 2013 16:54
Um. I've got a Windows desktop myself, but I'm not sure how you figure that Linux is less functional on cheap hardware or less valuable as a tool.
Oh, wait. Just read Agger's response. Are one of those people who thinks the opposite of Windows is MacOS, which you think is the same thing as iOS?
#20 By: daneel, November 13th, 2013 16:58
I Installed Cyanogenmod on a TouchPad using a Mac. Seemed easy enough to me.
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