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Displays

Apple Patents Head-Mounted iPhone 55

Posted by Soulskill
from the short-step-to-a-literal-eyephone dept.
mpicpp sends word of a patent newly awarded to Apple, #8,957,835, which describes a head-mounted apparatus that uses an iPhone (or iPod) as a display. The device "temporarily integrates or merges both mechanically and electronically a head-mounted device with a portable electronic device." It sounds a bit like Samsung's Gear VR headset, and many outlets are reporting it as being a virtual reality device. However, the patent itself doesn't mention VR, and it was filed in 2008, long before the VR rush of the past few years. That said, Apple has recently been trying to hire engineers with experience developing VR-related software, so it's something they could be evaluating.
Networking

Flaw In Netgear Wi-Fi Routers Exposes Admin Password, WLAN Details 57

Posted by timothy
from the oops-and-darnit dept.
An anonymous reader writes A number of Netgear home wireless routers sport a vulnerability that can be misused by unauthenticated attackers [here's the report at seclists.org] to obtain the administrator password, device serial number, WLAN details, and various details regarding clients connected to the device, claims systems/network engineer Peter Adkins. The vulnerability is found in the embedded SOAP service, which is a service that interacts with the Netgear Genie application that allows users to control (change WLAN credentials, SSIDs, parental control settings, etc.) their routers via their smartphones or computers.
Businesses

Cellphone Start-Ups Handle Calls With Wi-Fi 73

Posted by samzenpus
from the mixing-it-up dept.
HughPickens.com writes Brian Chen writes in the NYT that two companies, Republic Wireless and FreedomPop, that reduce cellphone costs by relying on strategically placed Wi-Fi routers are at the forefront of a tantalizing communications concept that has proved hard to produce on a big scale, The concept championed by the two little companies in their nationwide services is surprisingly simple. They offer services that rely primarily on Wi-Fi networks, and in areas without Wi-Fi, customers can pull a signal from regular cell towers. "Wi-Fi first is a massive disrupter to the current cost structure of the industry," says Stephen Stokols. "That's going to be a big shock to the carriers." For $5 a month, customers of Republic Wireless can make calls or connect to the Internet solely over Wi-Fi. For $10 a month, they can use both Wi-Fi and a cellular connection from Sprint in Republic's most popular option. Republic Wireless's parent company, Bandwidth.com, a telecommunications provider with about 400 employees, developed a technique to move calls seamlessly between different Wi-Fi networks and cell towers. "You can't pretend these companies are major players by any stretch. But I think their real importance is proof of concept," says Craig Moffett. "They demonstrate just how disruptive a Wi-Fi-first operator can be, and just how much cost they can take out."

In major cities, the Wi-Fi-first network makes sense. People use smartphones frequently while sitting around their offices and apartments, and Wi-Fi can handle the job just fine. But once people start moving around, it is not so simple. The benefit of a cell service is that your phone can switch among multiple towers while you are on the go which wi-fi is not designed to handle. Google may be experimenting with a hybrid approach similar to the small companies'. A person briefed on Google's plans, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the conversations were private, says the company wants to make use of the fiber network it has installed in various cities to create an enormous network of Wi-Fi connections that phones could use to place calls and use apps over the Internet. In areas out of reach, Google's network would switch over to cell towers leased by T-Mobile USA and Sprint. Still many wonder if even the biggest companies could make a Wi-Fi-based phone network work. "There are just so many places where Wi-Fi doesn't reach," says Jan Dawson "and the quality of Wi-Fi that you can find is often subpar."
Microsoft

Report: Samsung Replacing Its Apps With Microsoft's For Galaxy S6 148

Posted by Soulskill
from the trading-proprietary-for-proprietary dept.
An anonymous reader writes: SamMobile is reporting that the next major revision of Samsung's Galaxy S line of phones is going to have some major changes. According to insider sources, Samsung has gotten rid of many of their pre-loaded apps, making them optional downloads. What's interesting is that they're replacing these apps with software from Microsoft — apps like Skype, Office Mobile, and OneDrive. "With Windows Phone failing to make a dent on the smartphone market, Microsoft has recently shifted focus to its software services, and having them pre-installed on one of the bestselling Android smartphone lineups might just give the Redmond giant the exposure it needs to court consumers into switching from Google's massively more popular services that come preloaded on all Android devices."
Transportation

Iowa Wants To Let You Carry Your Driver's License On Your Phone 232

Posted by Soulskill
from the cell-phone-and-registration-please dept.
An anonymous reader writes: The Iowa Department of Motor Vehicles is busily developing software that will allow users to store the information from their driver's license on their smartphone. It would also add features like a simple barcode to scan for information transfer, and two-factor authentication to access it. "At first thought, the idea seems rife with potential security and privacy issues. It is well known at this point that nothing is unhackable; and if a project is made on a government contracting schedule, the likelihood of a breach is only greater. ... Questions of security, however, must take into account context – and there, it can be argued that our current regimes of physical documents have been an enormous failure. Having every state choose their own approach for issuing IDs has led to patchwork regulations and glaring weak points in the system that criminals have repeatedly taken advantage of. Driver's licenses today are regularly forged, stolen, and compromised – it’s far from a secure situation."
Windows

Microsoft Releases Windows 10 Preview For Phones 85

Posted by Soulskill
from the good-news-for-all-six-people-who-bought-lumias dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Microsoft has launched Windows 10 preview for phones. To get started, you'll need to download the Windows Insider app from the Windows Phone Store. Microsoft has already released multiple new Windows 10 preview builds, but those were limited to just PCs. The new preview for smartphones comes with a slew of new features. Until now, the Windows Insider app only worked for Microsoft employees. Now, users who are part of the Insider program can install the first Windows 10 preview build, as long as they have one of the six compatible devices. The Windows 10 preview works on the Lumia 630, Lumia 635, Lumia 636, Lumia 638, Lumia 730, and Lumia 830.
Cellphones

Starting This Week, Wireless Carriers Must Unlock Your Phone 100

Posted by timothy
from the better-than-employees-must-wash-hands dept.
HughPickens.com writes Andrew Moore-Crispin reports that beginning today, as result of an agreement major wireless carriers made with FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler in late 2013, wireless carriers in the US must unlock your phone as soon as a contract term is fulfilled if asked to do so unless a phone is connected in some way to an account that owes the carrier money. Carriers must also post unlocking policies on their websites (here are links for AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile), provide notice to customers when their devices are eligible for unlocking, respond to unlock requests within two business days, and unlock devices for deployed military personnel. So why unlock your phone? Unlocking a phone allows it to be used on any compatible network, regardless of carrier which could result in significant savings. Or you could go with an MVNO, stay on the same network, and pay much less for the same cellular service.
Cellphones

Study: Smartphones Just As Good As Fitness Trackers For Counting Steps 128

Posted by samzenpus
from the stepping-it-up dept.
jfruh writes While dedicated fitness trackers that you wear around your wrist have any number of functions, many people are focused on a single metric: counting steps, which serves as a proxy for determining how active you are. But a recent study from the University of Pennsylvania showed that if that's mainly what you want out of a fitness tracker, then you almost certainly have a device in your pocket that can do the same thing as well if not better: your smartphone.
Cellphones

Smartphone Theft Drops After Spread of Kill Switches 190

Posted by Soulskill
from the stated-purposes-and-unstated-purposes dept.
alphadogg writes "Thefts involving smartphones have declined dramatically in three major cities since manufacturers began implementing 'kill switches' that allow the phones to be turned off remotely if they are stolen, authorities said on Tuesday. The number of stolen iPhones dropped by 40 percent in San Francisco and 25 percent in New York in the 12 months after Apple added a kill switch to its devices in September 2013. In London, smartphone theft dropped by half, according to an announcement by officials in the three cities.
Privacy

FBI Attempts To Prevent Disclosure of Stingray Use By Local Cops 85

Posted by Soulskill
from the annnnnd-we're-back dept.
Ever since the public became aware that law enforcement is making use of StingRay devices — hardware that imitates a cellular tower so that nearby mobile devices connect to it — transparency advocates have been filing Freedom of Information Act requests to see just how these devices are being used. But these advocates have now found that such requests relating to local police are being shunted to the FBI, who then acts to prevent disclosure.

ACLU lawyer Nathan Wessler says, "What is most egregious about this is that, in order for local police to use and purchase stingrays, they have to get approval from the FBI, then the FBI knows that dozens of police departments are using them around the country. And yet when members of the press or the public seek basic information about how people in local communities are being surveilled, the FBI invokes these very serious national security concerns to try to keep that information private."
Security

EU Parliament Blocks Outlook Apps For Members Over Privacy Concerns 24

Posted by timothy
from the network-hygiene dept.
jfruh writes Microsoft last week released Outlook apps for iOS and Android, but one group that won't be getting to use them is members of the European Parliament. They've been advised by their tech staff that the apps are insecure and that they shouldn't download them — and if they have, they should change their Outlook passwords.
Businesses

Alibaba Bets $590 Million On Becoming Smartphone Player 50

Posted by samzenpus
from the piece-of-the-pie dept.
An anonymous reader was one of many to note that Alibaba has bought a $590 million minority stake in Chinese smartphone manufacturer Meizu. "China's Alibaba Group Holding Ltd is taking a $590 million stake in an obscure domestic smartphone maker as the e-commerce giant tests ways to expand its mobile operating system in a shrinking, cut-throat handset market. Extending a previously muted push into hardware, Alibaba said on Monday it will buy an unspecified minority stake in smartphone maker Meizu Technology Co. Dwarfed by rivals like Xiaomi Inc, privately owned Meizu's slice of China's smartphone market is estimated by analysts at below 2 percent. The deal, unlike U.S. rival Amazon.com Inc's foray into smartphones with its own-brand Fire Phone, is designed to help Alibaba push its mobile operating system within China through Meizu's handsets. In return, Zhuhai, Guangdong-based Meizu will get access to Alibaba's e-commerce sales channels and other resources, the companies said in a joint statement."
Operating Systems

The First Ubuntu Phone Is Here, With Underwhelming Hardware 177

Posted by timothy
from the early-days-yet dept.
A few days ago, Fast Company reviewer Jay Cassano was enthusiastic about Ubuntu's approach to apps for its new phone OS: namely, not relying on them, and instead interfacing seamlessly with existing websites and protocols. Now, new submitter ablutions (4006541) writes with a less than glowing review at The Daily Dot of the actual hardware that the OS is launching on. A sample that conveys the gist: Let's start with the good stuff: It sports a 4.5-inch multi-touch screen and a respectable 8-megapixel rear camera and 5-megapixel lens on the front. That's pretty much it. The list of negatives is a bit longer.
Handhelds

Dell Venue 8 7000, "World's Thinnest Tablet" With Intel Moorefield Atom Reviewed 120

Posted by timothy
from the straight-outta-round-rock dept.
MojoKid (1002251) writes "Dell recently launched their Android-based Venue 8 7000 slate, claiming it's the "world's thinnest" tablet. It measures a mere 6 millimeters thick, or 0.24 inches and change. That's 0.1mm slimmer than Apple's iPad Air 2 and 1.5mm flatter than the iPad mini 3, giving Dell full bragging rights, even if by a hair. Dell also opted for an Intel Atom Z3580 processor under the hood, clocked at up to 2.3GHz. This quad-core part is built on Intel's 22nm Moorefield microarchitecture. Compared to its Bay Trail predecessor, Moorefield comes in a smaller package with superior thermal attributes, as well as better graphics performance, courtesy of its PowerVR G6430 graphics core. The Venue 8 7000 also features one of the best 8-inch OLED displays on the market, with edge-to-edge glass and a 2560x1600 resolution. Finally, the Venue 8 7000 is also the first to integrate Intel's RealSense Snapshot Depth Camera, which offers interesting re-focusing and stereoscopic effects, with potentially other, more interesting use cases down the road. Performance-wise, the Venue 8 7000 is solid enough though not a speedster, putting out metrics in the benchmarks that place it in the middle of the pack of premium tablets on the market currently."
DRM

Kickstarted Firefox OS HDMI Dongle Delayed, DRM Support Being Added 106

Posted by Soulskill
from the surprise! dept.
An anonymous reader writes: You may recall last September when Mozilla and a new company named Matchstick announced a Kickstarter project for a new device that would compete with Google's Chromecast. It was an HDMI dongle for streaming media that runs on Firefox OS. They easily quadrupled their $100,000 funding goal, and estimated a ship date of February, 2015. Well, they emailed backers today to say that the Matchstick's release is being pushed back to August. They list a few reasons for the delay. For one, they want to upgrade some of the hardware: they're swapping the dual-core CPU for a quad-core model, and they're working on the Wi-Fi antenna to boost reception. But on the software side, the biggest change they mention is that they're adding support for DRM. This is a bit of a surprise, since all they said on the Kickstarter about DRM was that they hoped it would be handled "either via the playback app itself or the OS." Apparently this wasn't possible, so they're implementing Microsoft PlayReady tech on the Matchstick.
Ubuntu

Why It's Important That the New Ubuntu Phone Won't Rely On Apps 140

Posted by Soulskill
from the they-hope dept.
tedlistens writes: To tackle the chicken-and-egg problem faced by the Windows Phone or Blackberry — you need an app ecosystem to gain market share, but you need market share in order to entice developers to your platform — Canonical, the creators of the free, open-source Linux-based OS Ubuntu, have taken a novel approach with their new phone, which will be launched in Europe next week: The phone — the Aquaris E4.5 Ubuntu Edition, made with Spanish manufacturers BQ — won't feature apps. Instead, it will have a new user experience paradigm called Scopes. These are "essentially contextual home-screen dashboards that will be much simpler and less time-consuming to develop than full-on native apps." For instance, the music Scope will pull songs from Grooveshark alongside music stored locally on your device, without strong differentiation between the two. The user experience, writes Jay Cassano at Fast Company, seems a lot more intuitive than the "app grids" that dominate most devices.
Verizon

Verizon Dropping Data Rates, But Current Customers Have To Call 136

Posted by timothy
from the oh-you-mean-you-didn't-like-getting-slammed? dept.
New submitter executioner writes with this news from Consumerist: In spite of Verizon Wireless' recent boasts that it's 'a leader, not a follower,' a new announcement from the nation's biggest wireless company shows that Big V is indeed following the competition down the path of charging customers less for their data plans. However, current Verizon subscribers will need to let the company know they want to save money (or get more data). It's a little confusing, so stick with us for a moment. Verizon MORE Everything customers who currently have monthly data allotments of 1GB, 2GB, 3GB, or 4GB will have an option on how they want to save.They can either get more data for their money by getting 1GB of additional data per month for no extra charge OR they can have their bill reduced by $10/month.So someone with a 2GB plan is currently paying $50/month. If they take the free data option, that goes to 3GB for the same price. Or they can elect to stick with the 2GB and their data bill drops to $40/month.
Cellphones

What Happened To the Photography Industry In 2014? 422

Posted by timothy
from the it-got-even-more-nervous dept.
Iddo Genuth writes 2013 was the worst year for the photography industry in decades — but what happened in 2014 and will the upcoming blitz of cameras (including the super resolution Canon 5D S with 50MP sensor to be announced tomorrow) change everything in 2015? The official numbers published by CIPA (the Camera & Imaging Products Association) are out and they tell a story of a struggling photography industry trying to stay afloat in a sea of smartphones. Will it survive? This is the big question all of the photography manufacturers are facing over the past two years, and eventually what does it all mean for us as consumers? One thing that tiny phones lack, no matter their megapixel count, is the space for heavy glass or large sensors, which seems to leave a lot of room in the market even for small(ish) but dedicated cameras.
Facebook

Facebook Brings React Native To Native Mobile Development 78

Posted by timothy
from the reflex-hammer-writ-lare dept.
the_insult_dog writes Despite a lack of dev tools, samples, tutorials, documentation or even a blog post or press release, Facebook's announcement that it's bringing the popular React.js JavaScript library to iOS and Android native mobile development stirred up comments like "groundbreaking" and "game changing." In a series of videos from the recent React.js Conference 2015, Facebook engineers said they're rejecting the "write-once, run-anywhere pipe dream" in favor of a "learn-once, write-anywhere" paradigm. All efforts to duplicate native performance and look-and-feel actually feel like "s__t", an engineer said in explaining the company's new approach to native development in a conference keynote video. Yet to be proven, with tools in the works, it's supposedly a huge success internally at Facebook and experts said the new approach could shake up the whole mobile dev industry.
Medicine

Smartphone Attachment Can Test For HIV In 15 Minutes 84

Posted by timothy
from the text-anxiety dept.
stephendavion writes A team of researchers from Columbia University have developed a device that can be plugged into a smartphone and used to quickly test for HIV and syphilis. The mobile device tests for three infectious disease markers in just 15 minutes by using a finger-prick of blood, and draws all the power it needs from the smartphone, Science Daily reports. The accessory costs an estimated $34 to make and is capable of replicating tests done in a laboratory using equipment that costs many thousands of dollars.