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HTC Android Smartphone Stores Browsing Screenshots

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the hope-you-read-this-before-your-wife-does dept.

Cellphones 179

Mad Hamster writes "Boy Genius Report points out that the HTC Droid Incredible, using the Sense UI, 'will periodically store screenshots of the contents of your web browser.' These shots are stored in such a way that they are not easily deleted. 'They remain when the current browser session is closed, they remain after you clear the browser history, and they remain after a full factory reset,' though there is a way to delete them manually."

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OMG!!1one (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32618784)

Google is evil too!

Re:OMG!!1one (2, Informative)

Jon.Laslow (809215) | more than 4 years ago | (#32618882)

Err, Sense UI is by HTC, not Google.

Sounds like a debug feature (2, Interesting)

casings (257363) | more than 4 years ago | (#32618806)

Sounds like the equivalent of writing alert("here"); in javascript?

Don't think this is a big deal.

Re:Sounds like a debug feature (1, Interesting)

Bakkster (1529253) | more than 4 years ago | (#32618834)

Don't think this is a big deal.

Until you lose your phone and someone is able to see your e-mails with passwords contained.

It probably is a debug feature, but it's one that DEFINITELY should have been disabled before release.

Re:Sounds like a debug feature (2, Funny)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#32619620)

Passwords appear as ***** so no worry there, but the screencaps might show a thief (or unscrupulous friend) that you've been surfing porn, or looking at photos of your sexy wife. "Wow. Mrs. Stiffler is hot."

Re:Sounds like a debug feature (1)

oakgrove (845019) | more than 4 years ago | (#32619830)

Passwords appear as ***** so no worry there,

Except for the fact that as you're typing them in, they show each letter for a second or so then it becomes an asterisk. Say somebody uses the same password for a number of sites and you're unlucky enough that a screen cap was taken at various times showing the different letters...

Re:Sounds like a debug feature (-1, Flamebait)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#32619972)

>>>as you're typing them in, they show each letter for a second or so then it becomes an asterisk

No. They don't.

Re:Sounds like a debug feature (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32619984)

They do on other HTC Android phones.

Re:Sounds like a debug feature (1)

oakgrove (845019) | more than 4 years ago | (#32620042)

I have 2 Android phones, a G1 and a droid of which I am typing this on right now. if the phone the article is discussing doesn't show the letters for a split second, it is an exception.

Re:Sounds like a debug feature (2, Insightful)

s73v3r (963317) | more than 4 years ago | (#32619310)

A debug feature who's data persists through a factory reset? I don't buy it. And even if it is, its not ok.

Re:Sounds like a debug feature (2, Insightful)

kno3 (1327725) | more than 4 years ago | (#32619532)

A debug feature who's data persists through a factory reset? I don't buy it.

What are you suggesting it is? A plot by HTC to somehow retrieve private data from its customers? Seems pretty far fetched to me, and it is quite a leap from the evidence presented here. I think occam's razor suggests this is a mistake. Not a small one, but I can't see that it is anything else.

Re:Sounds like a debug feature (2, Insightful)

orient (535927) | more than 4 years ago | (#32619622)

A plot by HTC to somehow retrieve private data from its customers?

What about a way to obtain proof of child pornography possesion? Or proof of browsing undesirable web sites? Or proof of... whatever the masters might want to prosecute you for? Far fetched, but not impossible and a conspiracy theory is just a theory until it is proved.

Re:Sounds like a debug feature (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32619886)

Yes of course no company would ever try to profile its customers. In fact, swiss telecoms capturing ALL cellphone data for one year and google capturing wifi packets instead of just locate the APs (which is outrageous by itself, who gave 'em permission?) are urban legends right?. There's no money in profiling customers for advertising purposes, right?

Occam's razor in my hands says that a hard reset does not erase data because that would require more code and time (a dd on flash memory does also waste one kinda precious write cycle). So, while in principle i can agree there's nothing particularly strange in stuff surviving a reset, I also stress that your objection is irrelevant to what the GP point is, that I agree it COULD be intentional and not a bug, and that your quick way of writing things off is dangerous. Please never become a police inspector or a judge or a journalist.

Re:Sounds like a debug feature (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32620248)

Isn't the HTC phone (G1 to be specific) the one that you could root just by typing the right thing while on the home screen? HTC sure strikes me as being knowledgeable and responsible about security on my phone...

At least the Moto Droid that I have doesn't have anything ridiculous like this. I keep finding reasons to shy away from the HTC phones (not counting the Nexus One, though the reason there is T-Mobile/kind of AT&T, both of which I don't care to switch to any time soon).

Re:Sounds like a debug feature (4, Insightful)

mldi (1598123) | more than 4 years ago | (#32619596)

Nope, just a case of someone not turning off the Browser Favorites widget.

All I can say is "duh". Turn it off and you're fine. It's called a "cache file" so it can display that big static thumbnail image in the widget if you choose to use it.

Re:Sounds like a debug feature (1)

kronosopher (1531873) | more than 4 years ago | (#32619810)

It's called a "cache file"

A cache file that persists even after factory reset? Perhaps they have a ridiculous data retention policy.

Re:Sounds like a debug feature (1)

dunng808 (448849) | more than 4 years ago | (#32619990)

"Factory reset." You keep using that phrase. I do not think it means what you think it means.

Re:Sounds like a debug feature (5, Informative)

aster_ken (516808) | more than 4 years ago | (#32619998)

That is because the cache file is stored on your SD card and not in the phone's internal flash memory. A factory reset does not format your SD card. The BGR article was not thoroughly researched.

Re:Sounds like a debug feature (2, Informative)

Gordonjcp (186804) | more than 4 years ago | (#32620006)

A cache file that persists even after factory reset?

Why would a factory reset clear user data stored on removable media?

Re:Sounds like a debug feature (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#32619844)

What were you paid by the CIA to post this?

Huh. (2, Interesting)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 4 years ago | (#32618826)

Wonder what those are used for?

Are they ever read? Sent anywhere? Are they permanent (always taking up space), or are they rotated out?

Is there any particular reason I should care?

Re:Huh. (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32618894)

Are they ever read? Sent anywhere? Are they permanent (always taking up space), or are they rotated out?

They are sent out in the middle of the night when the phone is sleeping...

Poor story (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32618928)

It stores thumbnail images of recent pages, favourites, etc. I guess the non-deleting part, if true, is purely a bug.

Re:Huh. (5, Informative)

Jahava (946858) | more than 4 years ago | (#32618946)

I'll venture a guess: I have noticed on my HTC Incredible that the built-in browser displays a small graphical thumbnail of my bookmarked sites, presumably as a user interface enhancement. When scrolling through my bookmarks, I can see a picture of what the page looked like the last time I visited it. My guess is that these pictures are stored and used to generate those thumbnails.

If that is truly the usage, I have no issues whatsoever with the practice. If those pictures are leaving my phone, however, then this is really unacceptable.

Re:Huh. (1)

krelvin (771644) | more than 4 years ago | (#32619378)

That is Exactly what it is.... no big deal. If you don't want them, remove them. They are easily removed using any directory manager like Astro.

Re:Huh. (5, Insightful)

Saeed al-Sahaf (665390) | more than 4 years ago | (#32619404)

Why accept the obvious answer when you can assume the paranoid answer?

Re:Huh. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32619780)

Because more often than not, it turns out that the "paranoid" answer is the correct answer.

Re:Huh. (1, Funny)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#32619896)

Define “obvious”.

To me, the obvious answer is, that someone wants to look at what I’m doing. Which can not ever possibly be a good thing. Ever. Because it’s always a breach of trust and privacy.
I mean the fact that they aren’t even deleted after a factory reset really gives it away, plain as day.
And I bet the screenshots aren’t random at all.

Re:Huh. (2, Informative)

Aranykai (1053846) | more than 4 years ago | (#32619468)

Ironically I recall this reaction happening when the iPhone had the same feature awhile back. It's just the nature of visual bookmarks.

Next up, Google Chrome and Opera keep thumbnail screenshots of the websites you visit!

Re:Huh. (1)

shadowrat (1069614) | more than 4 years ago | (#32619426)

maybe a better practice would be to store a thumbnail size image of the screenshot. Then you would gain 2 things. You wouldn't be taking up as much space. You would probably be saving it in an illegible form (barring any CSI style investigation). You would recognize the thumbnail, but couldn't actually read words like ssn, password, or credit card numbers.

oh, and maybe delete them with a reset.

Re:Huh. (1)

dmomo (256005) | more than 4 years ago | (#32620228)

Even if they are being used for something benign, it still makes sense for them to go away on the deletion or browser history. That's essentially what they are.

Re:Huh. (1)

elashish14 (1302231) | more than 4 years ago | (#32619792)

But how does this fit in with the practice of making them so difficult to remove? Why then aren't they removed when you reset it?

Re:Huh. (2, Interesting)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 4 years ago | (#32618980)

Is there any particular reason I should care?

They remain even after a factory reset, which is a little concerning. TFA mentions they found screenshots of everything from their Facebook page to the bank website and everything in between, probably not enough to steal your money or your accounts but still enough to track your activity on the web. If you're doing anything on your HTC phone that you'd rather not have other people (informed, ambitious, and already suspicious people at least) find out about then yes it should concern you a bit.

Re:Huh. (5, Informative)

ChronoReverse (858838) | more than 4 years ago | (#32619126)

Of course it's not erased by a factory reset; the images are saved on the external memory card (microsd)

I'd be really concerned if it WERE erased

Re:Huh. (5, Informative)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 4 years ago | (#32619266)

It doesn't bother me that you're wrong (at least according to the article), honest mistake and all, but it does bother me that you're modded up for it.

They remain when the current browser session is closed, they remain after you clear the browser history, and they remain after a full factory reset. The JPEG files are saved to a folder named .bookmark_thumb1 which is located within the emmc folder of the phones internal storage (so you would expect a full factory reset to delete them).

Re:Huh. (5, Informative)

caladine (1290184) | more than 4 years ago | (#32619324)

The article is 100% incorrect. I have the Incredible and they're stored on the external SD card. The article is a load of FUD from Boy Genius.

Re:Huh. (0, Troll)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#32619932)

And we should clearly believe you. Because a Slashdot comment could never ever be just made up out of bullshit pulled out of an ass.

$100 that you have never even touched an HTC Incredible. ^^

Re:Huh. (3, Informative)

caladine (1290184) | more than 4 years ago | (#32620170)

Then you'd be out $100. I'm even posting from the phone... now there's now way I could collect nor is there any evidence I could give you that you'd take. The screen cap that BGR is using is even from the external SD. Drive h: is the default letter for external SD. I'm not the only one saying this.

Re:Huh. (1)

icydog (923695) | more than 4 years ago | (#32620070)

What happens if you don't have an SD card? Does it store it on internal memory? If so, does that persist through the reset?

Re:Huh. (1)

Josh04 (1596071) | more than 4 years ago | (#32619346)

The phone they're referring to has internal user memory. Basically, the SD card is on the inside.

Re:Huh. (2, Informative)

hax4bux (209237) | more than 4 years ago | (#32619994)

TFA is wrong. I have a Hero which exhibits the same behavior (i.e. writes thumbnails to the micro SD)

Re:Huh. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32618986)

They are thumbnails used for the visual bookmarks feature.

This is a non-story. this is not "omg they're watching me"

Why are they bookmarking what you do not bookmark? (0, Troll)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 4 years ago | (#32619094)

This is a non-story. this is not "omg they're watching me"

I don't think it's that either but...

They are thumbnails used for the visual bookmarks feature.

For sites you've not bookmarked?

It doesn't sound like it's only for sites you have bookmarked.

Re:Why are they bookmarking what you do not bookma (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32619146)

Do you have a droid? Have you used the browser? Have you seen the thumbnails in the history feature?

Seriously, taking thumbnails on the client would be the laziest and stupidest way to track web traffic I can think of.

Re:Huh. (1)

s73v3r (963317) | more than 4 years ago | (#32619338)

Then why do they persist through a factory reset?

Re:Huh. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32619488)

Because a factory reset doesn't clear the SD card. It's unclear under what circumstances this is stored on the fixed internal SD (It's called oneNAND -- basically a microSD in a BGA package, common way of adding 2-32GB in phones because SoCs often have one or more spare SD controllers) or the user-interchangeable SD -- there are reports of both -- but they're both large chunks of user storage intended for user data, and should not be cleared when reflashing the OS.

The bug here is not providing a proper UI for removing these images, not that they (along with all other user data) don't get wiped when reflashing the OS and settings.

Re:Huh. (1)

mindwhip (894744) | more than 4 years ago | (#32620064)

The factory reset is only intended to reset the phone to a known working state. It is not intended to wipe the phone of all user information. (Think windows 'upgrade in place' to fix corrupted system files)

The factory reset only resets the OS, basic phone settings and installed apps. It doesn't clear the contents of the installed microSD card (and people would complain if it did) and since the emmc memory is treated the same as the SD card and stores some of the things that were previously stored on the SD card it isn't wiped either. Imagine the complaints from people who had to do a factory reset due to a buggy app / corrupted settings and they lost all their photos, songs, bookmarks etc.

HTC only added the emmc memory in the new phone as a partial SD card replacement because people complained that when your remove/swap the SD card (for a change of mp3 files or more space to store photos for example) in the earlier phones installed apps couldn't access their settings and things like browser bookmarks were gone as well.

The only problem here is that HTC didn't make this clear and didn't provide a way to wipe the emmc (and SD card) memory for people wanting to sell or give away their phones when they get a new one...

Re:Huh. (2, Insightful)

e2d2 (115622) | more than 4 years ago | (#32619002)

I'm wondering if they are to make thumbnails like chrome does for a "new tab". I use this as my default page.

Re:Huh. (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 4 years ago | (#32620068)

But Chrome is made by Google, and this phone's OS is made by.. oh, wait, that's logical and consistent.

And then some app sends them somewhere? (1, Insightful)

Animats (122034) | more than 4 years ago | (#32618848)

And then some app sends those pictures somewhere? Some apps (including Facebook's) have enough permissions to access those images and send them to a remote site.

Re:And then some app sends them somewhere? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32619114)

If they're stored by the browser, then apps other than the browser won't have access to them on Android.

It's unlikely that they're sent anywhere. Rather, they're probably used the same way application and website screenshots are used on iPhone (and in Safari and perhaps Chrome): to be able to provide previews and gallery views of past websites, open apps, etc.

Data persisting after a factory reset is certainly a mistake, though.

Re:And then some app sends them somewhere? (1)

Fnkmaster (89084) | more than 4 years ago | (#32619358)

Data persisting after a factory reset is certainly a mistake, though.

Unless that data is on the SD card, in which case it's not supposed to be erased by a factory reset.

The only error here is that there seems to be a bit of an undefined condition - apps caching temporary content to the SD card. There just needs to be a better mechanism to clear that stuff out. I think that would resolve this issue.

Re:And then some app sends them somewhere? (2, Informative)

MikeBabcock (65886) | more than 4 years ago | (#32619226)

Apps only have permission to the data on their own section of the main memory by default. Even if they have access to your SD card then that doesn't give them permission to access other apps' private storage (unless they're from the same developer).

Hahaha (1, Flamebait)

gilesjuk (604902) | more than 4 years ago | (#32618862)

HTC producing great software as ever.

I could understand all the UI hacks when they were doing WinMo phones as WinMo has an awful interface. But Android isn't as bad, why produce all these closed source crud on top of the OS?

Why not submit the code back to the Android tree and have it properly scrutinized by the developer community? you won't get stupidity like this then.

Re:Hahaha (2, Insightful)

faber0 (234887) | more than 4 years ago | (#32618926)

if you are one of a hundret selling android devices you need something to be distinguished with from the others. So they add on their on UI so customers see it as a better android handset as the ones from other manufacturers. If you submitt it back to android then all will eventually have it and you are just one in the android soup again....

Re:Hahaha (1)

Toonol (1057698) | more than 4 years ago | (#32619056)

An unmodified, unrestricted Android OS phone would be a selling point in and of itself.

Re:Hahaha (1)

eihab (823648) | more than 4 years ago | (#32619178)

An unmodified, unrestricted Android OS phone would be a selling point in and of itself.

To you, me and a lot of people here. The masses in general only care about how shiny a phone is.

Over half of the people I see with smart phones do not use them beyond basic call/text and maybe some web browsing.

Now, if I was HTC, which of the two groups (techies/non-techies) will affect my bottom line?

Re:Hahaha (1)

GlassHeart (579618) | more than 4 years ago | (#32619788)

How would you compete with Google's own phone, then?

Re:Hahaha (1)

silentsteel (1116795) | more than 4 years ago | (#32619948)

Easy, if you are on Verizon (Droid Incredible), or Sprint (EVO), you do not have to. The Nexus One is not available for either network. I would love to have a Nexus One, since I would not have to wait on manufacturer/network decisions on when to upgrade to the next release of Android. Yes, I am aware that I can root my phone, but the average user is not comfortable with that.

Re:Hahaha (2, Insightful)

oakgrove (845019) | more than 4 years ago | (#32619098)

So they add on their on UI so customers see it as a better android handset as the ones from other manufacturers.

I guess if your customer's are complete idiots. Otherwise, you get the experience I had when I was at a T-Mobile store yesterday. I was looking at the new keyboarded version of the My3G and the interface goo they layered on top of Android was just atrocious. Garish bubblegummy looking colors and useless craptastic additions do not a superior interface make. It's like the shit pc makers do to Windows. Adding a bunch of useless docks and shit. Sure, technically, you are adding features and differentiating yourself. But, if it's so great, why do practically all of your savvy customers immediately take it home and wipe it all off? Same thing with SenseUi, motoblur, what ever else. It's all just useless unnecessary junk. I have a Droid with a stock albeit rooted Froyo interface. It's gorgeous, uncluttered, and works spectacularly.

Why? (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 4 years ago | (#32619498)

But, if it's so great, why do practically all of your savvy customers immediately take it home and wipe it all off?

Because "savvy customers" are few, and the not-so-savvy are many.

The people that build the products know you will wipe it after you get home. They don't care - why should they? They know you know how to do so.

The not-so-savvy people don't have much ability to customize so the phone makers try to do so in a way they think people will like.

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32619746)

The not-so-savvy people don't have much ability to customize so the phone makers try to do so in a way they think people will like.

Yeah, I get that part. But, my point is that if your more competent users are getting rid of your crap, it's because it sucks. Your other customers would be getting rid of it too if they knew how. These modified interfaces are trash. The PC stuff is trash, the Android stuff is trash. It works on WinMo but that's only because it is genuinely better. The bottom line is, the stock 2+ Android interfaces are great just the way they are so leave them the hell alone.

Re:Hahaha (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32619234)

OPEN SOURCE

To succeed in business is to be a sell out. Profit is theft. Corporations are conglomerates of pure greed that contribute nothing to our modern society. Intellectual property is mind slavery. Everyone is equal and equality means everyone has the same things. It's communism.

Re:Hahaha (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32619072)

Because SenseUI >>> default Android interface and widgets

Re:Hahaha (1)

gad_zuki! (70830) | more than 4 years ago | (#32619438)

I just got an EVO and shut off Sense on my second or third day. A few days later I turned it back on. It looks a lot better than stock. I love the "phone" button at the bottom and the plus button on the right. Some of the widgets are Sense-only like the 4G on/off button. IMHO, the stock android looks cheap. I'd love to see Sense or a Sense-like UI put into the stock Android distribution.

Product differentiation, added vallue (1)

hkmwbz (531650) | more than 4 years ago | (#32619540)

Simply put: Product differentiation and added value.

HTC feels that it is giving its customer added value by doing this. They are also setting themselves apart from the competition. And their Sense UI has been well received by the market, so why not?

You ask why they won't submit the code to Android, but then their differentiation would be gone.

And I don't think the goal should be for all phones to have identical UIs. Variety means choice. If people find that the Sense UI is better, that's one of the things that may compel them to buy a HTC phone. If they find it to be worse, HTC will lose business. Other companies can go for stock Android, or make their own custom UI. Thus, there is competition and choice. Not just one stock Android phone vs another stock Android phone.

Re:Hahaha (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#32619960)

Simple: All these years of WinMo pressed their brains into a mold of insanity. And after taking off the mold, they kept the form.
It’s like freeing an animal that has lived in captivity all its life. It won’t survive for long as it has no idea what to do with all that freedom.

Gotta love spyware (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32618890)

Another reason Android is not as lame as iPhone - iPhone doesn't spy on you after a full reset.

Boy, is your face red! (1)

mgierhart (1823976) | more than 4 years ago | (#32618934)

So basically, don't surf porn if you ever let your wife/kids/parents use your phone.

Workarounds? (1)

dyingtolive (1393037) | more than 4 years ago | (#32618950)

So, I haven't gotten mine yet (should by end of month), and I'm completely new to the Android scene. Couldn't you just chmod 000 the directory and be done with it?

Re:Workarounds? (1)

rickb928 (945187) | more than 4 years ago | (#32619042)

Probably not. No root or su for you on all Android stock ROMs (except for the G1 RC29/RC8), so you can't chmod a lot of folders. Though you might be able to slip the SD card (it MUST be the SDC that is getting these images) into another machine and do it there, but then I bet it interferes with something else, and you're hosed.

When root is cracked for this, then I suspect custom ROMs will solve the problem, if they even support Sense.

Re:Workarounds? (1)

TyFoN (12980) | more than 4 years ago | (#32619674)

You can just mount the sd card over usb on your computer and do it from there. You have no layers, its just a usb block device (the phone unmounts the sd card and just passes it through to the computer).

Re:Workarounds? (4, Informative)

Dr.Dubious DDQ (11968) | more than 4 years ago | (#32619348)

"Couldn't you just chmod 000 the directory and be done with it?"

From what other people are saying, the directory in question is on the microSD card, which (idiotically) is required to be Microsoft's "FAT32" format...so permissions are not really settable. (You might be able to set the "read only" DOS flag, but I don't know if that'll have any effect.)

(Honestly, why not even UDF is an option instead of FAT32 I have no idea. It's not like the linux kernel - and every modern Windows and Mac OS - doesn't have the ability to support it.)

Bookmarks. (3, Interesting)

LordAndrewSama (1216602) | more than 4 years ago | (#32618958)

The HTC Hero has a bookmark widget that uses screenshots of the websites as the buttons with a small label underneath(which is the websites title text I think). Since these images are called bookmark_thumb, I'm going to propose it has something to do with that...

Just like the iPhone then? (4, Informative)

Kostya (1146) | more than 4 years ago | (#32618966)

This is how the iPhone does its cool animated transitions. People threw a stink when that was first discovered, but I can't remember if Apple resolved it. I know a factory reset does work on the iPhone though :-)

Welcome.... (1)

faber0 (234887) | more than 4 years ago | (#32618978)

so Android tries to beat IPhone at every game? the IPhone used to be famous for the security issue of storing user screenshots [networkworld.com] on the device.

Re:Welcome.... (1)

hkmwbz (531650) | more than 4 years ago | (#32619598)

I believe this was HTC's custom software doing it, not Android.

The boring truth... (2, Informative)

nilbog (732352) | more than 4 years ago | (#32619068)

Everyone is up in arms about how these remain after a factory reset. Well the boring and unsensational truth is that the images are stored on the SD card. Your music, pictures, and videos are not deleted with a factory reset either.

These images are stored under the guise of being used as thumbnails for bookmarks but it seems unlikely as those could be taken as needed. This whole thing is pretty sketchy.

That said, if you don't want any more images delete the directory where they are stored and create an empty file of the same name (same name as the directory). No more screenshots!

The less boring truth... (1)

ericvids (227598) | more than 4 years ago | (#32619240)

TFA says it's stored in the internal storage on the Droid, which is more difficult to delete. (Not by much, but still worth noting.)

Re:The boring truth... (0, Redundant)

s73v3r (963317) | more than 4 years ago | (#32619374)

WRONG! Read the article, they're stored on the internal storage.

Re:The boring truth... (4, Insightful)

prockcore (543967) | more than 4 years ago | (#32619690)

The article is misleading.. they're on internal storage if you don't have an sd card.

They're also *only* created for bookmarks.. if you don't make it a bookmark, no thumbnail gets created.

Re:The boring truth... (1)

hkmwbz (531650) | more than 4 years ago | (#32619670)

These images are stored under the guise of being used as thumbnails for bookmarks but it seems unlikely as those could be taken as needed. This whole thing is pretty sketchy.

How would you have images for bookmarks without storing them somewhere?

Is there a way to install Android Vanilla? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32619070)

And the phone still work on the network (e.g. Sprint)?

Does the issue affect all Sense UI phones? (1)

ericvids (227598) | more than 4 years ago | (#32619080)

I've noticed that my HTC Desire (also with Sense UI) does a similar thing, except it stores the thumbnails in my SD card. (The factory reset won't touch SD cards.) Maybe it saves to internal memory when there's no SD card, but I have not checked.

So it's probably more of a feature with a failsafe (i.e. write to internal memory if no SD is there) that wasn't implemented correctly, and you can still delete the files manually anyway. No big deal for me, but it's enough for me to know in case I do dispose/resell my phone in the future. (And if the phone gets stolen, the thief would have gotten hold of the SD card too anyway, so it's moot.)

Re:Does the issue affect all Sense UI phones? (1)

Tacvek (948259) | more than 4 years ago | (#32619614)

The Droid Incredible has what is basically a hard soldered 8 GB SD card in addition to normal internal storage, and the external SD card. It is being written there (possibly only if there is no external SD card, I am unclear on that). As a result it is not being touched on a factory reset. HTC has customized the ROM on that phone in special ways to make the 8 GB internal memory look like regular internal memory. Factory reset would actually not work very well except for special code they wrote to delete things from the internal SD card on Factory reset, but that code is apparently imperfect.

Re:Does the issue affect all Sense UI phones? (1)

Tacvek (948259) | more than 4 years ago | (#32619778)

Correction. I slightly misunderstood the role of the internal storage. I know see that the 8GB chip (or 6 GB according to some sources) is indeed an internal SD card, but it is not actually treated specially. All normal user data is in the standard internal memory, and applications treat the 8GB or 6GB chip exactly like an SD card. No special code was written with regards to it. The idea was that apps are generally small, and any large amounts of data they store on the SD card, so keep the apps in real internal memory like normal, but allow programs to store data internally on the phone via the built-in SD card.

I am uncertain what happens when you insert an SD card into the external slot. I suspect it probably hides the internal sd card, and shows only the external one.

Live Bookmarks (1)

Andy Smith (55346) | more than 4 years ago | (#32619116)

I believe these 'screenshots' are used as thumbnails for the Live Bookmarks feature.

Non-story (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32619174)

Way to be behind the game, Slashdot. This has already been proven to be a non-story. The screenshots are saved for the bookmark widget which uses the screenshot for the bookmark. They remain when the browser is closed and the cache is cleared because they're tired to the bookmarks; They're not for cache. They remain after a factory reset because they are kept on the external storage, which I would hope a factory reset would not touch!

These screenshots are the device working exactly as intended.

Not easily deleted? (3, Insightful)

mweather (1089505) | more than 4 years ago | (#32619218)

Since when does clicking a file and pressing delete qualify as "not easily deleted"?

Re:Not easily deleted? (2, Interesting)

aristotle-dude (626586) | more than 4 years ago | (#32619376)

Since when does clicking a file and pressing delete qualify as "not easily deleted"?

So, now you have to use a file manager to administrate your phone?

Android is so easy to use, all you need is a third party task manager to close your apps and a filemanager to clear these thumbnails. Wow, Android is so user friendly. /sarc.

You are making light of a serious security hole were someone to get a hold of your phone or even the SD card from your phone.

Physical theft == you're compromised anyway (1)

ericvids (227598) | more than 4 years ago | (#32619748)

If your phone got stolen, the thief would get access to your google account (if you've ever set it up) or your browser history in the first place. Those are things that you wouldn't have been able to delete at the point of theft. Even if you lock the phone -- a good enough thief whose purpose is to steal your data would have researched enough to know how to get it. So that supposed "security hole" is moot -- it's just a tiny thing compared to the other data the thief has already gotten hold of.

My only real concern is if the issue is exploitable remotely.

iTunes or Google (1)

jamesyouwish (1738816) | more than 4 years ago | (#32619252)

I can't decide which is worse. A totalitarian Apple iTunes Store or Google as big brother.

Re:iTunes or Google (3, Insightful)

Mark19960 (539856) | more than 4 years ago | (#32619350)

Troll.
Has nothing to do with Google.
The images are not sent anyplace... they live on the SD card and factory wipes don't format your SD card.
It's all working as intended and the story might well be labeled a troll as well.

Besides, iPhones did this too.
I don't see the fanboys running for the hills.

Re:iTunes or Google (2, Interesting)

hkmwbz (531650) | more than 4 years ago | (#32619636)

This is done by HTC's custom software, not by Android. Furthermore, there is no evidence that there is anything sinister going on. All this is, is that HTC made a silly choice when storing thumbnails for bookmarks.

yes, they are stored... here's why (5, Informative)

miguelfp1 (657082) | more than 4 years ago | (#32619268)

yes, it does store the screenshots... for the purpose of having them show up in the Sense UI bookmark widget. on my Hero they are stored on the storage card, on the Incredible they are located on the on-board 6GB partition, http://www.androidcentral.com/htc-browser-bookmark-images-scare [androidcentral.com] explains it in greater detail

Big Brother (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32619382)

I'm very curious as to HTC's excuse for this behavior. I definitely won't get this phone. Is this part of Android or HTC? No I'm not wanting to buy anything with Android. Does Chrome do this too?

Just like Safari (4, Informative)

schlameel (1017070) | more than 4 years ago | (#32619496)

How is this different from what Safari does? As I recently discovered when someone gave me their old PC, clearing the cache (which the person did) does not get rid of the page images Safari creates. There were hundreds of them: news stories, many Google searches, emails being read and written, adult content. I imagine Safari creates the images for the frequently used wall it puts up when you create a new window or tab. However the images were the full page (top to bottom, not just a 4:3 thumbnail) and there were low resolution JPG's and full resolution PNG's. What Safari needs the full page, full resolution images for I can only guess. This was nine-ish months ago, so it may be different now.

Just noticed something even more shocking (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32619576)

The Google maps app leaves the .wav files from the turn by turn directions in the cache after they are played! They are trackign MY EVERYY MOOOOVEEEEE

Hi, I'm a slashdot poster, and caching is one of the many, many technical topics I pretend to understand.

so? (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 4 years ago | (#32619664)

Except for a bit of wasted storage space, is this all that big of a deal? And its android, so someone can just write an app to clear them, i would assume.

Risk is of malicious apps (2, Interesting)

DaveGod (703167) | more than 4 years ago | (#32619700)

Since in their hurried excitement TFA didn't report (or even ask) if this applied to other Android / Sense phones, I see them on my HTC Desire. Anyone using an Android phone without Sense (that is, any non-HTC made Android phone) willing to report? We're all assuming Sense, and it seems likely, but I've not seen any kind of confirmation.

The images aren't there to be sent back to HTC or whatever, they're just thumbnails for the fancypants UI. But there is an unintended security/privacy risk - that a malicious app could upload them, because apps can read anywhere on the SD card (if the app info says they can access the SD card, they can read all of it). OP is quite the dramatisation though, I read it to suggest shenanigans due to that folder being specifically and strangely excluded from the factory reset. That's not the case, the folder is on the SD card none of which is wiped on a factory reset - only the phone's storage is. If you're selling it with your phone (of any kind) you should know to also wipe the SD card.

Also, we don't know what the deletion policy is i.e. how much space they might eventually taking up, this is probably making a bit of an effort to imagine possibilities to complain about.

Another comment suggests "Can be fixed by deleting the folder .bookmark_thumb1 and create an empty txt file .bookmark_thumb1" (which, since being lackadaisical seems to be the in thing, I can't be bothered testing to confirm).

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