Tag Archives: Technology

How is virtual reality helping the development of driverless cars?

California’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) had registered slightly less than 50 cases of traffic accidents that involve autonomous vehicles since 2014.

While this may not seem a lot currently there is a limited amount of driverless cars on the streets of California – less than 15 in the state itself, and approximately 50 in the whole continental US.

We are less than five years away from seeing self-driving cars become available for the masses and the numbers of accidents involving autonomous vehicles that have occurred so far are not particularly satisfying. The cars that are currently being tested tend to get involved in a minor crash at least once a year. We sincerely hope the cars that will end up in the hands of the consumers in the next decade will be safer than the ones we see on the roads of California right now. While safety is number one for car manufacturers, inevitably there will be deaths in accidents involving autonomous vehicles.

Meeting the federal standards for public safety for a vehicle that does not require a driver sound complicated, doesn’t it? So how are automobile manufacturers going to achieve it? They are planning to meet the federal motor vehicle safety standards by using the power of virtual reality.

Technology

The sophisticated technology that will be integrated into the driverless cars of the future will have some hard decision to make. Steering the wheel on the left might be aiming towards a pregnant lady crossing the street while turning right might end up endangering a group of children. How does your self-driving vehicle make a choice? Developers are making some tough decisions as the lives of millions are currently in their hands. While the programming experience of software engineers might be great, most of them are unlikely to be professional drivers, nor they have vast fleets of driverless cars to work with. So where do they get usable data? Is it possible for them to experience every obstacle that happens on the road? Not really, this is why they are adding VR to the equation.

Companies have testing vehicles inside virtual reality

Companies such as Toyota and Uber have begun testing vehicles inside virtual reality simulations of the very same cities that we inhabit. Scientists realized there is no need to have plenty of real cars on the roads when there is an option to let virtual cars “drive” the streets of any city photographed by Google on street-view mode. Vehicle tested in the virtual world is harmless but having a car accident in the real one could be fatal. Well done for finding a way to save lives!

Hats down to the people who made it happen! Some of the major cities where self-driving cars are present already struggle with traffic so the people would appreciate the lack of additional bot-cars. Let the testing continue where safest – the virtual reality.

If you are curious if there are any driverless cars in your town, or if your city is preparing to welcome the autonomous vehicle revolution, check out this useful map – http://avsincities.bloomberg.org/ .

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Digital prints and why online privacy is non-existent

Have you ever thought of googling your name? Unless you are lucky enough to have a common name or a celebrity with the same name as yours, the majority of the results you will see online will be about you. You are very likely to see some of the work you’ve done, pages that you’ve liked, forums that you’ve been participating in and comments that you’ve left all over the internet.
While such information may not be revealing sensitive details about you, the Google results you will encounter will most likely contain links to detailed personal information such as your full name, address and phone number. This means that if someone knows merely your name, it will only take them couple minutes to know your current residential address, residence history, phone number and even the names of your relatives. If the person interested in your life is happy to fork out a small amount of cash, usually within the range of $10-$30, the stranger will have access to even more details of your life, such as how much payments you have left on your mortgage and your criminal records. All this information is just sitting there a few clicks away from anyone who wants to access it, i.e., a prankster colleague, a Russian hacker or anyone who has a crush on you.

Companies like White Pages even offer reverse lookup as a free tool readily available to everyone with a computer and an internet connection. You no longer have to know the name of the neighbor so that you can learn more about him or her, all you can do is use the free tool offered by White Pages and reverse lookup his or her address. You can reverse lookup using a phone number too. Once you have the name of the person, you can see where he or she works, and learn more about his or her hobbies, date of birth and favorite places to hang out.

The recent Equifax data breach does not make your life easier, the people trying to steal your identity no longer have to be hackers, anyone with a computer and an internet connection can learn everything about you. These databases are available online, and some of them are free to access – lawbreakers are using such readily accessible information for social engineering and identity theft.

Where does it end?

This is a simple question that requires a simple answer – it never does. We all need to adapt. This is only the tip of the iceberg.  Net Neutrality is most likely going to be repealed by the current administration – google searches are being recorded and stored, and all your browsing history will be up for grabs for the highest bidder, including the sites you visit while you are in incognito mode.

What can you do to protect your online privacy?

There are a few things we advise you to do;

  1. Freeze your credit reports

You do not purchase a car, open a new credit line, or take loans every day. Send requests to the three main credit bureaus – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion – and request a freeze. They will confirm the freeze by sending you a pin number – keep it somewhere safe and unlock your reports only when you need them. By doing so, no one else but you will be able to open a new credit line with your SSN.

If you see reports about you on websites such

  1. Take off your personal information from the internet

as TruthFinder and WhitePages, read through the terms and conditions and request the data to be taken down. They are legally obliged to remove your details should you not wish to have it online. It only takes a few minutes. And keep an eye on these websites as sometimes they end up uploading your details again. To be on the safe side, add a reminder to checkup Google for sensitive information every six months and act when you see something you don’t like.

  1. Protect all your devices

Having in mind here in the US we spend so much time on our cell phones, the likelihood of having sensitive information that should never be public on our phones is high. Make sure you have anti-virus software installed on every connected device you own to prevent hackers from being able to penetrate your personal space and information.

  1. Review social media privacy settings

Spend some time reviewing who has access to your social media profiles. Make sure your profiles are not publicly visible, or the content you share is well vetted. Never post anything on social media if you would not be happy to yell it through the window. If you value your privacy, review the terms and conditions on your favorite social media tools such as Instagram, Twitter, and Tinder and act if you are not happy with them. Make sure you understand who has access to the information you share on these profiles.

It’s great when the government has this information, but when third parties start compiling information they get from multiple sources into one giant database and make it easily accessible to third parties –  you are no longer the person benefiting from the system, you are the product that is being sold. Online privacy may be a thing of the past, but bear in mind that governments are not here to spy on you, they are here to protect its citizens. So sharing with them might not be scary, but sharing with money hungry third-party companies ready to sell everything they know about you to others – this is something you may want to avoid.

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KRACK attack: beware of public Wi-Fi

Why can KRACK be so dangerous?

Cybersecurity experts have discovered a critical weakness in Wi-Fi connections that could make your private information vulnerable to cyber criminals. The threat is called KRACK (key reinstallation attacks) and could allow someone to steal information sent over your private Wi-Fi or any open connections you might access in public places like coffee shops.

KRACK is dangerous because it affects so many people. Most people who connect wirelessly to the internet through Wi-Fi on their phone, tablet, laptop, etc. do so using the WPA2 (Wi-Fi Protected Access) protocol that helps keep your information safe by encrypting it—making it a secret code. Only now, KRACK has made it much less protected because thieves may be able to decypher the code that protects your information, and read it whenever they want.

Cyber criminals can also use KRACK to modify wirelessly transmitted data to and from the websites you visit. You might think you’re going to your bank’s website, when in reality you’re at a fake phishing site made to look like it. You unknowingly enter your username and password, and the thieves now can record that information.

How do I protect myself?

Update your operating system

Update your OS ASAP. In the meantime, Apple, Google and others are presumably working to roll out a patch to protect against KRACK.

Microsoft just announced it included a patch in an October 10th security update. For Windows customers who have their “Windows Update enabled and applied the security updates,” they’re automatically protected from the KRACK threat, according to Windows Central.

However, don’t assume you’re protected. Even if you’re a Windows user, double check you have the latest security updates.

Use Wi-Fi networks only when necessary

Until you’ve installed the security KRACK patch, avoid using Wi-Fi connections, both at home and especially public hotspots. Your home Wi-Fi connection is slightly more secure only because cyber thieves need to be relatively close to your physical location to steal your data. But that doesn’t mean you’re safe at home or in public.

If you absolutely need to use a wireless network, make sure you’re not transmitting confidential info like your SSN, credit card number, or bank information.

If possible, hardwire your wirelessly connected devices back to your modem/router. Cyber criminals can’t steal signals out of the air if they’re not there, so find that yellow ethernet cable you stashed somewhere in a drawer and use it to connect to as many devices as possible.

Update your wireless router’s firmware

Your router’s firmware helps it work correctly with your devices, so keep it up-to-date. When the security patch rolls out, you don’t want any issues with conflicting or unsupported firmware versions. Updating your router’s firmware is a relatively painless process.

Configure your router so only your approved devices can connect to the network. Each of your devices has a media access control (MAC) address that uniquely identifies it to work with the network. Configure your router to only allow listed devices. The process may differ depending on your router brand.

Hide your Wi-Fi network so even those close enough to detect your signal won’t see it listed. Hiding your network won’t stop dedicated hackers from eventually finding it, but it will create another step they must go through, which is your goal until the patch comes through. It’s likely it will take developers some time to adequately address KRACK, so stay vigilant.

Avoid unencrypted websites

Encrypted websites contain an HTTPS at the beginning of their URL’s. The information you send and receive to them is secure. Websites that only use the HTTP are NOT encrypted. So use HTTPS sites as much as possible. HTTPS Everywhere is a browser plugin that automatically switches thousands of sites from HTTP to HTTPS.

Get some good cybersecurity software

Having cybersecurity software always helps mitigate risk. For critical attacks like KRACK, it’s especially important to add as many layers of protection as possible.

What information can be stolen?

Anything you can send wirelessly over the internet. So, pretty much everything. Passwords, credit card numbers, voice messages, pictures, texts, and the like. Again, this goes for both public and private wireless networks, so your info could be stolen while you’re signed in to the library’s Wi-Fi network or when you’re texting someone from your living room. Deactivate your cell phone’s Wi-Fi connection until you’ve gotten the fix from your OS developer or stay on 3G network for data transfer.

Can it affect my devices?

Strictly speaking, no. Neither your wirelessly connected devices nor your router are being directly targeted. Unlike ransomware, thieves aren’t KRACKing into your device and threatening to destroy your information. It’s more of an elaborate heist job than a hostage situation. They want to decrypt the protocol, to eavesdrop on what your devices are saying. They’re interested in the info not who is talking. More importantly, thieves want to go unnoticed.

How did the KRACK vulnerability happen?

Your cell phone and Wi-Fi device (i.e. modem) need to “talk” to each other decide on how to work together transmit data. The language they use is called a protocol, or system of rules. The protocol is encrypted for privacy. It’s like if two people switched to a different language to discuss something privately. If you don’t know the language, you’re in the dark. That’s how your information is kept private when sent over Wi-Fi.

But the KRACK attack gives cyber criminals an opening to decrypt the information sent. It would be like someone bringing an interpreter to the couple’s private discussion. They now can overhear everything that’s being said.

Can I tell if someone’s stealing my info over Wi-Fi?

As of yet, there’s no way to know if someone is KRACKing your wireless access. That’s why it’s especially important to keep an eye out for an update, and to follow the safety recommendations above.

 

 

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Bionic employees and biohacking

pandasecurity-biohacking

Wireless chips are an increasingly important part of day-to-day life. We use contactless cards to pay for goods, they have replaced travel tickets, and many people even use embedded chips to access their offices at work.

But almost every chip required another plastic card – pretty soon you end up with a wallet full of contactless cards. Which is why some individuals have taken an extreme approach that allows them to do away with the cards altogether.

Embedding embedded chips

The chip inside a contactless card which provides all the clever intelligent functionality is actually extremely small. In fact, it is probably no larger than a grain of rice – which means that most of the plastic card it is embedded in is just wasted space.

As a result, some people are choosing to have the chips surgically implanted in their skin. The process is very similar to the microchipping technique used to help identify lost pets.

Once implanted, you can never leave home without your contactless card again. It also means that you can tell your friends you’re a bionic human!

Gaining acceptance

What was once a niche hobby for hardware hackers and geeks is now gaining more widespread acceptance. One American firm – Three Square Market – is even offering these wireless bionic implants to employees, replacing traditional door access cards and cash payments in the office canteen.

Other businesses are already looking at ways to take these implants to the next level. More than simply replacing existing electronics systems, they are looking at ways to enhance our biological capabilities. Some hope that one day humans will be able to navigate in the dark using echolocation like a bat, or to see colours in the normally-invisible infra-red spectrum for instance.

Obviously, there are ethical questions about these kinds of projects, but there are also concerns about security. If people are worried about AI being hacked and destroying the world, should they not have the same fears about bionic humans who meld biology and wireless technology?

There are already some serious issues to consider

The reason that existing implants work so well is because they simply replicate existing systems. Embedding your bank card’s chip under the skin allows you to tap-and-pay in-store for instance. But in the same way that someone can “skim” your contactless card to steal cash, criminals could also scan the card under your skin without your permission. People with embedded chips will need to pay extra attention to where they put their hands if they want to avoid being scammed!

On the plus side, current embedded chips are not designed to perform serious computing activities. Hackers may be able to read the chip contents without permission, but they cannot (yet) upload viruses or other malware to them. And because these chips are not connected to the human nervous system, they cannot be used to take over someone’s body.

As bionic chips improve, bionic hacking will undoubtedly become a real issue. Fortunately, technology has not yet brought us to that point. Which is great news for early adopters of implanted chips.

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Bionic employees and biohacking

pandasecurity-biohacking

Wireless chips are an increasingly important part of day-to-day life. We use contactless cards to pay for goods, they have replaced travel tickets, and many people even use embedded chips to access their offices at work.

But almost every chip required another plastic card – pretty soon you end up with a wallet full of contactless cards. Which is why some individuals have taken an extreme approach that allows them to do away with the cards altogether.

Embedding embedded chips

The chip inside a contactless card which provides all the clever intelligent functionality is actually extremely small. In fact, it is probably no larger than a grain of rice – which means that most of the plastic card it is embedded in is just wasted space.

As a result, some people are choosing to have the chips surgically implanted in their skin. The process is very similar to the microchipping technique used to help identify lost pets.

Once implanted, you can never leave home without your contactless card again. It also means that you can tell your friends you’re a bionic human!

Gaining acceptance

What was once a niche hobby for hardware hackers and geeks is now gaining more widespread acceptance. One American firm – Three Square Market – is even offering these wireless bionic implants to employees, replacing traditional door access cards and cash payments in the office canteen.

Other businesses are already looking at ways to take these implants to the next level. More than simply replacing existing electronics systems, they are looking at ways to enhance our biological capabilities. Some hope that one day humans will be able to navigate in the dark using echolocation like a bat, or to see colours in the normally-invisible infra-red spectrum for instance.

Obviously, there are ethical questions about these kinds of projects, but there are also concerns about security. If people are worried about AI being hacked and destroying the world, should they not have the same fears about bionic humans who meld biology and wireless technology?

There are already some serious issues to consider

The reason that existing implants work so well is because they simply replicate existing systems. Embedding your bank card’s chip under the skin allows you to tap-and-pay in-store for instance. But in the same way that someone can “skim” your contactless card to steal cash, criminals could also scan the card under your skin without your permission. People with embedded chips will need to pay extra attention to where they put their hands if they want to avoid being scammed!

On the plus side, current embedded chips are not designed to perform serious computing activities. Hackers may be able to read the chip contents without permission, but they cannot (yet) upload viruses or other malware to them. And because these chips are not connected to the human nervous system, they cannot be used to take over someone’s body.

As bionic chips improve, bionic hacking will undoubtedly become a real issue. Fortunately, technology has not yet brought us to that point. Which is great news for early adopters of implanted chips.

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Artificial Intelligence: Myth and Reality

pandasecurity-artificial-intelligence-myths

As Artificial Intelligence (AI) begins to find practical applications in day-to-day life, we are hearing more and more about it. In amongst the success stories are countless warnings of a Terminator-like future where self-aware robots take over the world.

So how can you separate fact from fiction, and could humanity really be eradicated by intelligent computers?

Computers will be more intelligent than people within the next 50 years – MYTH

Computer scientists are still divided over whether artificial intelligence will ever outperform humans. Computers are capable of storing and analysing huge amounts of data – much more than people – but they lack the intuition that makes us human.

Whether AI becomes more intelligent, or is able to appear more intelligent than us, remains unclear. Without the ability to display and read emotions, AI will never have the complete skillset that defines human intelligence.

Artificial Intelligence will destroy humanity – MYTH

Many philosophers ask the question, ‘What happens if machines achieve self-awareness?’ If AI can think for itself, could it act for itself? And what would it do to protect itself?

These questions formed the basis for The Terminator, and the movie has been scaring ordinary people ever since. Could AI wipe out humanity if it felt threatened?

The answer is…probably not. Artificial Intelligence systems run according to pre-defined parameters, helping to ensure they stay on track, solving the problems for which they were invented. Unless someone makes a mistake creating these parameters, the system is unlikely to develop “evil” tendencies.

AI can control people – FACT

We tend to think that only other humans can control us because we interact with them in the real world. But the reality is that our thoughts, feelings and emotions are manipulated by machines all the time.

Many of the adverts we see online are already designed and targeted using AI. Take Amazon for instance – they keep a record of every product you ever search for. AI then uses that information to arrange for you to see adverts for those products on other websites you visit. Known as “retargeting”, by continually showing us the same product AI begins to influence our interests – and many people do end up making a purchase.

As AI develops, these techniques will become more effective. AI may not completely “control” us, but it can certainly motivate us to act in specific ways.

AI is hack-proof – MYTH

Just because AI demonstrates intelligence, it is still little more than a complex computer program. Which means that it can be hacked.

Sophisticated cybercriminals could change the parameters used to control the AI system, allowing it to develop in unexpected ways – such as gaining Terminator-style self-awareness. More likely, AI will be directed to perpetuating other criminal activities, like bank fraud.

The future of AI isn’t really scary at all

As AI develops, systems may get better at identifying cyberattacks and protecting themselves. But for the foreseeable future, AI will need the same protections as your notebook computer – a decent anti-malware application, protected by a firewall to monitor network connections and block malicious activity.

Although you probably don’t have much dealing with AI in your house, there’s no reason to leave your computers unprotected. Download a free trial of Panda Protection and keep hackers away from your personal data.

The post Artificial Intelligence: Myth and Reality appeared first on Panda Security Mediacenter.

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Artificial Intelligence: Myth and Reality

pandasecurity-artificial-intelligence-myths

As Artificial Intelligence (AI) begins to find practical applications in day-to-day life, we are hearing more and more about it. In amongst the success stories are countless warnings of a Terminator-like future where self-aware robots take over the world.

So how can you separate fact from fiction, and could humanity really be eradicated by intelligent computers?

Computers will be more intelligent than people within the next 50 years – MYTH

Computer scientists are still divided over whether artificial intelligence will ever outperform humans. Computers are capable of storing and analysing huge amounts of data – much more than people – but they lack the intuition that makes us human.

Whether AI becomes more intelligent, or is able to appear more intelligent than us, remains unclear. Without the ability to display and read emotions, AI will never have the complete skillset that defines human intelligence.

Artificial Intelligence will destroy humanity – MYTH

Many philosophers ask the question, ‘What happens if machines achieve self-awareness?’ If AI can think for itself, could it act for itself? And what would it do to protect itself?

These questions formed the basis for The Terminator, and the movie has been scaring ordinary people ever since. Could AI wipe out humanity if it felt threatened?

The answer is…probably not. Artificial Intelligence systems run according to pre-defined parameters, helping to ensure they stay on track, solving the problems for which they were invented. Unless someone makes a mistake creating these parameters, the system is unlikely to develop “evil” tendencies.

AI can control people – FACT

We tend to think that only other humans can control us because we interact with them in the real world. But the reality is that our thoughts, feelings and emotions are manipulated by machines all the time.

Many of the adverts we see online are already designed and targeted using AI. Take Amazon for instance – they keep a record of every product you ever search for. AI then uses that information to arrange for you to see adverts for those products on other websites you visit. Known as “retargeting”, by continually showing us the same product AI begins to influence our interests – and many people do end up making a purchase.

As AI develops, these techniques will become more effective. AI may not completely “control” us, but it can certainly motivate us to act in specific ways.

AI is hack-proof – MYTH

Just because AI demonstrates intelligence, it is still little more than a complex computer program. Which means that it can be hacked.

Sophisticated cybercriminals could change the parameters used to control the AI system, allowing it to develop in unexpected ways – such as gaining Terminator-style self-awareness. More likely, AI will be directed to perpetuating other criminal activities, like bank fraud.

The future of AI isn’t really scary at all

As AI develops, systems may get better at identifying cyberattacks and protecting themselves. But for the foreseeable future, AI will need the same protections as your notebook computer – a decent anti-malware application, protected by a firewall to monitor network connections and block malicious activity.

Although you probably don’t have much dealing with AI in your house, there’s no reason to leave your computers unprotected. Download a free trial of Panda Protection and keep hackers away from your personal data.

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Oreo and the sweet history of Android versions

Oreo Android, the sweetest version?

What does an Oreo cookie, a donut, a marshmallow or a lollipop have to do with your smartphone? Well, believe it or not, the names of all those sweets indicate the Android operating system installed on your cell phone.

After months of speculation about the new features to be included in the new Android operating system, August 21, the day of the solar eclipse, was the date chosen by Google’s engineers to unveil Android 8.0, codenamed Oreo. This new version allows you to minimize videos to a small window in any corner of your screen so that you can video chat while you’re checking your calendar or writing an email, for example.

However, the trend of codenaming Android releases after sweets and desserts is nothing new. Despite Android’s first two versions were unnamed: Android 1.0 (launched in September 2008) and Android 1.1 (released a year and a half after the first one), all subsequent Android versions have received tastier names than their predecessors.

Android Cupcake

Version 1.1 was followed three months later by version 1.5 (April 2009). Despite incorporating some really cool features (such as the ability to associate the contacts on your phone to pictures, or record videos in MPEG-4 and 3GP formats), this release is mainly remembered for being the first one codenamed after something as sweet as a cupcake.

From then on, all new Android versions have received a name that is irresistible for those with a sweet tooth.

Android Donut

If it was not tasty enough, Android Cupcake was followed by Android Donut in September 2009. This version, which featured a quick search box and major improvements to Android Market,  was followed a month later by Eclair (Android 2.0 and 2.1), with amazing live wallpapers which responded to your touch. Additionally, Eclair included live traffic information that allowed users to choose the fastest way to get to their destination.

Frozen yogurt

Almost a year after Eclair’s release, Android decided it was time to offer users another delicacy with the launch of Froyo, short for “frozen yogurt.” This new version enabled users to control their phones using their voice.

Gingerbread

In December 2010, seven months after Froyo was released, Android announced the launch of Ginberbread. This codename was used to refer to versions 2.3 and 2.3.7, which provided a smooth experience for both users and app developers. This release introduced support for NFC communication, which allows users to, among other things, make payments with their phone as if it were a credit card.

An Android version as sweet as honey

Just three months after the release of Gingerbread, Android launched Honeycomb in March 2011. Honeycomb was the first Android operating system specifically adapted for work with tablets, and featured a simple interface that allowed the use of wide-format images.

Ice cream sandwiches

Several months had to pass before Android 4.0, codenamed Ice Cream Sandwich, was released in October 2011. This version managed to satisfy users’ sweet tooth once again, with its new control technology and customization options.

Jelly beans

Almost an entire year had to pass before Android 4.1, Jelly Bean, came out  in July 2012. Jelly Bean was the first operating system to include a personal assistant with Artificial Intelligence. Plus, it provided the ability to use different user accounts on the same cell phone.

After a long break… Kit Kat

The technological advances included in Android 4.1 were so widely acclaimed that users had to wait more than a year for the next Android version. However, after the long wait, October 2013 saw the release of Android Kit Kat and its revolutionary ‘OK Google’. ‘OK Google’ allowed people to start a voice search, get driving directions or play a song without even touching their phones – just verbally saying the phrase.

Lollipop

Android Lollipop, released in November 2014, allowed the operating system to make the jump from smartphones and tablets to other types of devices. This update, which spanned versions between 5.0 and 5.1.1, marked the birth of the Android-based smartwatches, smart cars and smart TVs.

Marshmallow

It looks as if, after Jelly Bean, Android made the decision to launch a single new version per year.  So, 13 months after Lollipop was launched, Google released Android Marshmallow in October 2015. User devices (now spanning not only tablets and smartphones, but all sorts of devices), became even tastier with the new Google Now on Tap, a feature that provided quicker shortcuts and smarter replies, as well as improved security features.

Summer nougat

June 2016 saw the release of Android Nougat. This version included a new Multi-Window mode and support for a new virtual reality platform called Daydream.

Some years ago, getting your phone wet was lethal. Today, however, Samsung’s latest spot for the launch of the Galaxy S8 smartphone features people taking pictures with their cell phones from the bottom of a swimming pool. Who knows if Android version 35, if Google continues with its habit of releasing a new version each year, will allow us to command our smartphone or smartwatch to make us some chocolate cookies…

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