Ho-ho-hottest Android news and rumors for week ending Dec. 21

Multiscreen phones, M7's chips, Polaroid returns, and a partridge in a pear tree.

It's awfully hard not to start this with a holiday joke of some sort, but I'll do my best - it helps that the biggest Android news of the week isn't particularly cheery, what with the botnets and security breaches and all. We'll get all holly-jolly when we talk CES predictions and phone rumors later on.

Yes, unfortunately, security has reared its ugly head as we roar into the festive season, with the news that a number of popular Samsung devices can be completely hijacked by malicious apps, thanks to a configuration error affecting their Exynos 4210 and 4412 processors.

"You should be very afraid of this exploit," said XDA forum mod Chainfire. Samsung has promised a fix as soon as possible.

smartphone

A day later, it was discovered that an innovative botnet has been using its victims to infect fresh targets - an apparently novel strategy, given that SMS spam used to require the mass purchase of SIM cards.

For those waiting to see whether Android can overtake iOS in the enterprise the same way it did in the consumer market, it's not particularly heartening news. Industry analysts are more or less united in the view that the big thing holding back Android in the business world is security. While the platform itself isn't inherently insecure, the consensus seems to be that it's just too easy for users to install malicious apps. Hopping outside the App Store requires a full-on jailbreak. Going beyond Google Play just means you uncheck a box in a settings menu.

I think we'll begin to see at least moderate increases in Android adoption among businesses - the platform is so easily customized, re-skinned and otherwise messed with by developers and users that some clever companies are certain to find innovative uses for it. But that same flexibility, in some respects, is a liability. BYOD Android users accustomed to their freedom might not like, for example, a requirement that their device be locked down if it's going to be used on company networks. And developers hate having to ensure compatibility with a dozen different software versions running on a vast array of different devices.

So there's your lump of coal - now for some better presents.

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Samsung's heavily hyped flexible display technology is apparently coming to CES. A report from CNET says that sources at the company have confirmed a 5.5-inch 720p mobile screen and a 55-inch TV display for the huge Vegas gizmo convention. It sounds very much like these will be prototypes only, however - so you'll have to wait a while longer for an actual phone you can bend.

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Another old rumor mill favorite, the Amazon smartphone, may actually be in production already, according to a report from Taiwan Economic News. Well-known labor relations pioneer Foxconn, which I think produces some kind of other smartphone whose name escapes me, is said to be the manufacturer tapped by the online retail giant for its long-awaited handset.

Foxconn

Credit: IDG News Service

Workers leave the Foxconn factory in Zhenzhou, China

Obviously, it's a preliminary report from Taiwan citing the usual unconfirmed players in the supply chain, so take it with a pretty major grain of salt, but stranger things have happened, right?

(Hat tip: 9to5mac.com, of all places.)

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From Russia with Ink - while the YotaPhone is unlikely to make it to CES this year, the Russian dual-screen device could be a huge seller when it's released later in 2013. While phones with two screens haven't really taken off, Yota's prototype packs a regular 720p screen on one side of a standard slab form factor, along with an e-ink reader on the reverse. The company says it'll improve battery life, by transferring some display tasks to the energy-sipping e-ink side, and generally be an excellent and cool thing to have. (I'm paraphrasing pretty loosely on that last part.)

(Hat tips: The Wall Street Journal, The Verge.)

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Polaroid, apparently, is looking to get back into the camera market, this time with a new Android-powered smart device. A company profile in a trade mag spotted by Photo Rumors says that a firm called Sakar International is working to develop an 18.1MP "interchangeable lens" camera running on Android 4.0.

Android Central says it'll be on the lookout for this new Polaroid smart camera at CES - the company did show off a different model at this year's event, but nothing's been confirmed at this point.

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Well, that's it for this year - thanks for reading. I'll be back in January to talk more Android before heading out to CES and giving you the scoop from the show floor there. Happy holidays.

Email Jon Gold at jgold@nww.com and follow him on Twitter at @NWWJonGold.

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