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Wednesday, 20 August 2008 01:20

Google says: Hack the Android!

By
Google has released the 0.9 SDK Beta and admits that its ambitious project to produce the first complete, open, and free mobile platform is "converging on a final Android 1.0" release. It has also taken the bold step of posting an open letter to the security community which, in effect, invites them to hack the Android...

In a posting on the official Android Developers Blog Android Developer Advocate Dan Morrill has announced the release of the latest Beta SDK, Android 0.9.

Morrill admits to feeling "pretty happy" as the platform converges on a final Android 1.0 release with Open Handset Alliance partners set to start shipping the first Android devices in the fourth quarter of 2008.

This is good news considering there were serious doubts only a couple of months back whether Android handsets would be available this year at all. "The beta SDK that we're releasing today is the first big step on the SDK's road to compatibility with 1.0" Morrill says "The APIs are now pretty stable and we don't expect any major changes."

Highlights of the new SDK Beta include:

A new Home screen with 'a ton of UI changes' for 1.0

New applications including: Alarm Clock, Calculator, Camera, Music player, Picture viewer, and Messaging
for SMS/MMS conversations

New development tools including a graphical preview for XML layouts for users of Eclipse, and a tool for constructing 9-patch images

New APIs have been fleshed out and improved, while others are close to their 1.0 final forms

However, it's not all a case of new additions, some things were taken out. As well as the hopeful removal of many bugs such as those people had experienced with the MediaPlayer, Google has removed the Bluetooth API. Morrill also reveals that the GTalkService has been removed "for security reasons."

What has the Android Security Team got to say about it all, and how have they approached the security research and vulnerability disclosure communities for help? Find our on page 2...

CONTINUES


Which is interesting, because this news coincides with an open letter to security research and vulnerability disclosure communities from the Android Security Team which admits that building the platform has been "a difficult task."

It goes on to confess "While we have found and fixed many of our own bugs as well as flaws in other open source projects, we realize that the discovery of additional security issues in a system this large and complex is inevitable."

Which is why the security team has taken the bold decision to reach out to the security researcher community and ask for help. "We do appreciate and encourage responsible disclosure" it says "especially since Android will be deployed on many different devices that will require a large amount of coordination to patch."

In effect the team are saying hack Android and help us fix it. "Help from security researchers in the form of usable bug reports and responsible time lines will greatly assist us in securing the ecosystem of Android devices as quickly as possible."

Android vulnerability bulletins will credit responsible reporters of any flaws.

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