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Encryption

Deutsche Telecom Upgrades T-Mobile 2G Encryption In US 23

Posted by timothy
from the tell-all-your-grandparents dept.
An anonymous reader writes T-Mobile, a major wireless carrier in the U.S. and subsidiary of German Deutsche Telecom, is hardening the encryption on its 2G cellular network in the U.S., reports the Washington Post. According to Cisco, 2G cellular calls still account for 13% of calls in the US and 68% of wireless calls worldwide. T-Mobile's upgrades will bring the encryption of older and inexpensive 2G GSM phone signals in the US up to par with that of more expensive 3G and 4G handsets. Parent company Deutsche Telecom had announced a similar upgrade of its German 2G network after last year's revelations of NSA surveillance. 2G is still important not only for that 13 percent of calls, but because lots of connected devices rely on it, or will, even while the 2G clock is ticking. The "internet of things" focuses on cheap and ubiquitous, and in the U.S. that still means 2G, but lots of things that might be connected that way are ones you'd like to be encrypted.
Cellphones

'Microsoft Lumia' Will Replace the Nokia Brand 148

Posted by timothy
from the not-many-years-from-dominance dept.
jones_supa writes The last emblems of Nokia are being removed from Microsoft products. "Microsoft Lumia" is the new brand name that takes their place. The name change follows a slow transition from Nokia.com over to Microsoft's new mobile site, and Nokia France will be the first of many countries that adopt "Microsoft Lumia" for its Facebook, Twitter, and other social media accounts. Microsoft has confirmed to The Verge that other countries will follow the rebranding steps in the coming weeks. Nokia itself continues as a reborn company focusing on mapping and network infrastructure services.
Blackberry

Rumor: Lenovo In Talks To Buy BlackBerry 70

Posted by Soulskill
from the business-segments dept.
BarbaraHudson writes: The CBC, the Financial Post, and The Toronto Sun are all reporting a possible sale of BlackBerry to Lenovo. From the Sun: "BlackBerry shares rose more than 3% on Monday after a news website said Chinese computer maker Lenovo Group might offer to buy the Canadian technology company. Rumors of a Lenovo bid for BlackBerry have swirled many times over the last two years. Senior Lenovo executives at different times have indicated an interest in BlackBerry as a means to strengthen their own handset business. The speculation reached a crescendo in the fall of 2013, when BlackBerry was exploring strategic alternatives. Sources familiar with the situation however, told Reuters last year that the Canadian government had strongly hinted to BlackBerry that any sale to Lenovo would not win the necessary regulatory approvals due to security concerns. Analysts also have said any sale to Lenovo would face regulatory obstacles, but they have suggested that a sale of just BlackBerry's handset business and not its core network infrastructure might just pass muster with regulators."
Android

Which Android Devices Sacrifice Battery-Life For Performance? 104

Posted by Soulskill
from the definitely-mine dept.
MojoKid writes: A couple of weeks ago, Futuremark began handing out copies of PCMark for Android to members of the press, in an effort to get its leaderboards filled while the finishing touches were being put on the app. That might give you pause in that the results, generated today, are not going to be entirely accurate when the final version comes out, but that's not the case. Futuremark has encouraged publication of results generated with the benchmark. What makes PCMark for Android useful benchmark is that it not only tests for performance, but also for battery-life and performance combined. As such, you can easily figure out which devices sacrifice battery-life for performance and which ones have a good blend of both. The HTC One M8 really stands out, thanks to its nearly balanced performance/battery-life ratio. A result like that might make you think that neither value could be that great, but that's not the case at all. In fact, the battery-life rating on that phone places far beyond some of the other models, only falling short to the OnePlus One. And speaking of that phone, it becomes obvious with PCMark why it's so hyped-up of late; it not only delivers solid performance, it boasts great battery-life as well.
Cellphones

Barometers In iPhones Mean More Crowdsourcing In Weather Forecasts 79

Posted by timothy
from the under-pressure dept.
cryptoz (878581) writes Apple is now adding barometers to its mobile devices: both new iPhones have valuable atmospheric pressure sensors being used for HealthKit (step counting). Since many Android devices have been carrying barometers for years, scientists like Cliff Mass have been using the sensor data to improve weather forecasts. Open source data collection projects like PressureNet on Android automatically collect and send the atmospheric sensor data to researchers.
Cellphones

Florida Supreme Court: Police Can't Grab Cell Tower Data Without a Warrant 113

Posted by timothy
from the let's-hope-it's-catchy dept.
SternisheFan writes with an excerpt from Wired with some (state-specific, but encouraging) news about how much latitude police are given to track you based on signals like wireless transmissions. The Florida Supreme Court ruled Thursday that obtaining cell phone location data to track a person's location or movement in real time constitutes a Fourth Amendment search and therefore requires a court-ordered warrant.

The case specifically involves cell tower data for a convicted drug dealer that police obtained from a telecom without a warrant. But the way the ruling is written (.pdf), it would also cover the use of so-called "stingrays" — sophisticated technology law enforcement agencies use to locate and track people in the field without assistance from telecoms. Agencies around the country, including in Florida, have been using the technology to track suspects — sometimes without obtaining a court order, other times deliberately deceiving judges and defendants about their use of the devices to track suspects, telling judges the information came from "confidential" sources rather than disclose their use of stingrays. The new ruling would require them to obtain a warrant or stop using the devices. The American Civil Liberties Union calls the Florida ruling "a resounding defense" of the public's right to privacy.
Wireless Networking

Samsung Achieves Outdoor 5G Mobile Broadband Speed of 7.5Gbps 36

Posted by Soulskill
from the who-needs-landlines dept.
Mark.JUK writes: Samsung has become the first to successfully demonstrate a future 5G mobile network running at speeds of 7.5Gbps in a stationary outdoor environment. They also managed 1.2Gbps while using the same technology and driving around a 4.3km-long race track at speeds of up to 110kph.

Crucially, the test was run using the 28GHz radio spectrum band, which ordinarily wouldn't be much good for mobile networks where wide coverage and wall penetration is an important requirement. But Samsung claims it can mitigate at least some of that by harnessing the latest Hybrid Adaptive Array Technology (HAAT), which uses millimeter wave frequency bands to enable the use of higher frequencies over greater distances. Several companies are competing to develop the first 5G technologies, although consumers aren't expected to see related services until 2020 at the earliest.
Cellphones

Flight Attendants Want Stricter Gadget Rules Reinstated 405

Posted by timothy
from the killjoys-in-uniform dept.
stephendavion writes You might be super happy to toil away on your phone or tablet the entire time you're on a plane, but not everyone is pleased to see your face buried in your device during takeoff and landing. The Federal Aviation Administration's new, more relaxed rules on gadget use aren't sitting well with one group — flight attendants. According to a report from The Wall Street Journal, the nation's largest flight attendant union is now suing the FAA to have the ban on gadget use during takeoff and landing reinstated. The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA argues that the change has caused many passengers to ignore flight attendants' emergency announcements, and that the new rules violate federal regulations requiring passengers to stow all items during takeoff and landing.
AT&T

AT&T To Repay $80 Million In Shady Phone Bill Charges 61

Posted by samzenpus
from the pay-up dept.
First time accepted submitter dibdublin writes The Federal Trade Commission announced today that AT&T will pay $105 million for hiding extra charges in cellphone bills. The best part of the news? $80 million of it will go back into the pockets of people bilked by AT&T. The FTC announcement reads in part: "As part of a $105 million settlement with federal and state law enforcement officials, AT&T Mobility LLC will pay $80 million to the Federal Trade Commission to provide refunds to consumers the company unlawfully billed for unauthorized third-party charges, a practice known as mobile cramming. The refunds are part of a multi-agency settlement that also includes $20 million in penalties and fees paid to 50 states and the District of Columbia, as well as a $5 million penalty to the Federal Communications Commission."
Cellphones

Studies Conclude Hands-Free-calling and Apple Siri Distract Drivers 208

Posted by timothy
from the popular-delusions dept.
New submitter operator_error writes with a story at the L.A. Times that echoes some previous research on the relative risks of hand-held vs. hands-free phones by drivers, and comes to an even grimmer conclusion: In many cars, making a hands-free phone call can be more distracting than picking up your phone, according to a new study from AAA and the University of Utah. In-dash phone systems are overly complicated and prone to errors, the study found, and the same is true for voice-activated functions for music and navigation. A companion study also found that trying to use Siri — the voice control system on Apple phones — while driving was dangerously distracting. Two participants in the study had virtual crashes in an automotive simulator while attempting to use Siri, the study's authors reported. In response, Toyota said the study did not show a link between cognitive distraction and car crashes. "The results actually tell us very little about the relative benefits of in-vehicle versus hand-held systems; or about the relationship between cognitive load and crash risks," said Mike Michels, a Toyota spokesman. Meanwhile, many states treat hand-held devices very differently from hands-free ones; in New York, for instance, both texting and talking on a hand-held mobile phone are put in the same category, while talking on a hands-free device is covered only by more general distracted driving laws. If the Utah study is correct, maybe that's backwards. (And some evidence suggests that phone use in cars is not quite the straightforward danger that it's sometimes presented as, despite the correlation of phone use with accidents.)
Cellphones

Test-Driving a $35 Firefox OS Smartphone 132

Posted by Soulskill
from the or-at-least-a-phone-of-middling-intelligence dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Ars Technica got its hands on one of the extremely low-cost smart phones running Firefox OS. The Intex Cloud FX retails for about $35 in India, and its intent is to bring smartphones to people who traditionally can't afford them. So, what do you have to sacrifice to bring a smartphone's costs down that far? Well, it has a 3.5" 480x320 display, a 1Ghz A5 CPU, 128MB of RAM, and 256 MB of storage. (Those a megabytes.) There's no GPS, no notification LED, and not even 3G support. They say the build quality is as poor as you'd expect, and if you aren't at a 90 degree angle with the screen, colors are distorted. But, again: it's $35 — this is to be expected.

How well does the phone work? Well, the UI works well enough, but multitasking is rough. Everything's functional, but slow, sometimes taking several seconds to register touch input. The real killer, according to the article, is the on-screen keyboard, which is unbearable. The article concludes, "Sure, we're spoiled, "rich" people compared to the target market, but it's hard to believe that this is a "best attempt" at a cheap smartphone. ... The problem is that Firefox OS just isn't the right choice of operating system for this device—it's trying to do way too much with the limited hardware. It isn't configurable enough." They say the phone doesn't even make sense for a $35 budget.
Communications

LTE Upgrade Will Let Phones Connect To Nearby Devices Without Towers 153

Posted by Soulskill
from the just-yell-really-loud dept.
An anonymous reader sends this excerpt from MIT's Technology Review: A new feature being added to the LTE protocol that smartphones use to communicate with cellular towers will make it possible to bypass those towers altogether. Phones will be able to "talk" directly to other mobile devices and to beacons located in shops and other businesses. Known as LTE Direct, the wireless technology has a range of up to 500 meters, far more than either Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. It is included in update to the LTE standard slated for approval this year, and devices capable of LTE Direct could appear as soon as late 2015. ... Researchers are, for example, testing LTE Direct as a way to allow smartphones to automatically discover nearby people, businesses, and other information.
Cellphones

When Everything Works Like Your Cell Phone 175

Posted by Soulskill
from the looking-forward-to-jailbreaking-my-breadmaker dept.
The Atlantic is running an article about how "smart" devices are starting to see everyday use in many people's home. The authors say this will fundamentally change the concept of what it means to own and control your possessions. Using smartphones as an example, they extrapolate this out to a future where many household items are dependent on software. Quoting: These phones come with all kinds of restrictions on their possible physical capabilities. You may not take them apart. Depending on the plan, not all software can be downloaded onto them, not every device can be tethered to them, and not every cell phone network can be tapped. "Owning" a phone is much more complex than owning a plunger. And if the big tech players building the wearable future, the Internet of things, self-driving cars, and anything else that links physical stuff to the network get their way, our relationship to ownership is about to undergo a wild transformation. They also suggest that planned obsolescence will become much more common. For example, take watches: a quality dumbwatch can last decades, but a smartwatch will be obsolete in a few years.
Ubuntu

Ubuntu Touch For Phones Hits RTM, First Phones Coming This Year 132

Posted by Soulskill
from the competition-is-a-good-thing dept.
An anonymous reader writes: In early 2013, Canonical showed the world Ubuntu Touch, a version of Ubuntu developed specifically for smartphones. Now, the mobile operating system has finally reached "release to manufacturing" status. (Here's the release announcement.) The first phone running Ubuntu Touch, the Meizu MX4, will start shipping in December. "Details are scarce on its hardware, but a leak from iGeek suggests the Pro variant may have a Samsung Exynos 5430 processor, 4GB of RAM, and a 2560x1536 resolution screen. ... This more powerful hardware is good news if true, and it bodes well for Ubuntu's vision of computing convergence." Softpedia has a preview of the RTM version of the OS. They say performance has improved significantly, even on old phones, and that the UI has been polished into a much better state.
Cellphones

Mobile Phone Use Soon To Be Allowed On European Flights 96

Posted by Soulskill
from the for-questionable-values-of-"soon" dept.
New submitter jchevali writes: The BBC reports that mobile phone use on European flights is soon to be allowed. This follows official safety agency findings that their use on the aircraft really poses no risk. Details on the implementation and the timeline for changes will depend on each individual airline.
Iphone

Consumer Reports: New iPhones Not As Bendy As Believed 304

Posted by Soulskill
from the but-mah-hashtags dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Over the past several days, we've been hearing reports about some amount of users noticing that their brand new iPhone 6 Plus is bending in their pockets. The pictures and videos shown so far have kicked off an investigation, and Consumer Reports has done one of the more scientific tests so far. They found that the iPhone 6 Plus takes 90 pounds of pressure before it permanently deforms. The normal iPhone 6 took even less: 70 lbs. They tested other phones as well: HTC One (M8): 70 lbs, LG G3: 130 lbs, iPhone 5: 130 lbs, Samsung Galaxy Note 3: 150 lbs. The Verge also did a report on how Apple torture-tests its devices before shipping them. Apple's standard is about 55 lbs of pressure, though it does so thousands of times before looking for bends. One analysis suggests that Apple's testing procedure only puts pressure on the middle of the phone, which doesn't sufficiently evaluate the weakened area where holes have been created for volume buttons. Consumer Reports' test presses on the middle of the device as well.
Encryption

FBI Chief: Apple, Google Phone Encryption Perilous 354

Posted by samzenpus
from the lock-it-down dept.
An anonymous reader writes The FBI is concerned about moves by Apple and Google to include encryption on smartphones. "I like and believe very much that we should have to obtain a warrant from an independent judge to be able to take the contents," FBI Director James Comey told reporters. "What concerns me about this is companies marketing something expressly to allow people to place themselves beyond the law." From the article: "Comey cited child-kidnapping and terrorism cases as two examples of situations where quick access by authorities to information on cellphones can save lives. Comey did not cite specific past cases that would have been more difficult for the FBI to investigate under the new policies, which only involve physical access to a suspect's or victim's phone when the owner is unable or unwilling to unlock it for authorities."
Blackberry

BlackBerry Launches Square-Screened Passport Phone 189

Posted by Soulskill
from the hip-to-be-square dept.
New submitter Andrewkov writes: BlackBerry released its new Passport phone today. It has a square 4.5" screen and a physical keyboard, and it's aimed at corporate users. The company hopes the larger size, Siri-like voice recognition, 30-hour battery life, and improved security will buoy its market share. Early reviews are not terribly favorable — the Wall Street Journal says BlackBerry is still behind on the software, and "The bulky, awkward design and the unfamiliar keyboard make it hard to justify finding space for it in a pocket or bag." The Verge said, "[T]he Passport got in the way of getting work done more than it helped." Re/code calls it a phone only a BlackBerry user will love.
Iphone

Users Report Warping of Apple's iPhone 6 Plus 421

Posted by Soulskill
from the apple-releases-first-warp-capable-phones dept.
MojoKid writes: Apple's iPhone 6 Plus weighs six ounces, and it's a scant 7.1mm thick. As an added bonus, according to a number of users, it has a hidden feature — it bends! And no, we don't mean it bends in a "Hey, what an awesome feature!" sort of way. More like a "Hey, the entire phone is near to snapping" kind of way. What's even more troubling is that many of the users who are reporting bent devices also claim that they were carrying it in front pockets or in a normal fashion as opposed to sitting on it directly. Either some of the iPhone 6 Plus hardware is defective (the vastly preferable option) or it's because the tests run by other venues are putting different kinds of stress on the chassis. It's not clear what the story is. Hopefully Apple will clarify it soon.
Handhelds

Phablet Reviews: Before and After the iPhone 6 277

Posted by timothy
from the but-that-was-different dept.
Velcroman1 writes Bigger is better. No, wait, bigger is worse. Well, which is it? Apple's newly supersized 4.7-inch iPhone 6 and the jumbo, 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus are a marked departure for the company, which has clung to the same, small screen size for years. It has gone so far as to publicly deride larger phones from competitors, notably Samsung, even as their sales grew to record highs. Tech reviewers over the years have tended to side with Apple, in general saddling reviews of the Samsung Galaxy Note – a 5.3-inch device that kicked off the phablet push in 2012 – with asides about how big the darn thing was. Are tech reviewers being fair when they review the iPhone 6 Plus? Here's what some of them said today, compared with how they reviewed earlier phablets and big phones from the competition.

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