An anonymous reader writes "With the focus from Ubuntu on phones, seven carriers have signed onto their Ubuntu Carrier Advisory Group including Deutsche Telekom, Everything Everywhere, Telecom Italia, Korea Telecom, LG UPlus, Portugal Telecom, and SK Telecom. The group is designed for the carriers to let 'mobile operators shape Ubuntu's mobile strategy. Members receive advance confidential briefings and provide us with industry insight to ensure that Ubuntu meets their needs.'" Looks like Ubuntu Phone is getting serious. Mark Shuttleworth writes about their first meeting: "We mapped out our approach to the key question I’ve been asked by every carrier we’ve met so far: how can we accommodate differentiation, without fragmenting the platform for developers? We described the range of diversity we think we can support initially, received some initial feedback from carriers participating immediately, and I’m looking forward to the distilled feedback we’ll get on the topic in the next call. CAG members get a period of exclusivity in their markets."
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onyxruby writes "In a move that will remind many of Apple in the '80s, Microsoft is going to start dumping Surface RT computers to educational institutions. In an effort to try to gain mindshare for their struggling Surface RT platform, Microsoft is giving away 10,000 Surface RTs to teachers through the International Society for Technology in Education. They're also preparing to offer $199 Surface RTs to K12 and higher education institutions. The strategy of flooding the educational market was quite successful for Apple. Unfortunately for Microsoft, today's computers require management and the Surface RT presents significant management challenges in terms of the inability to join the computer to a domain or available management tools."
Nerval's Lobster writes "When hurricane Sandy pummeled New York City last fall, it left a sizable percentage of the metropolis without electricity. Residents had trouble keeping their phones and tablets charged, and often walked across whole neighborhoods to reach zones with power. Come the next disaster, at least a few citizens could communicate a little easier thanks to 25 solar-powered charging stations going up around the city. The stations—known as 'Street Charge' — are the result of a partnership between AT&T, Brooklyn design studio Pensa, and portable solar-power maker Goal Zero (with approval by the city's Parks Department). The first unit will deploy in Brooklyn's Fort Green Park on June 18, followed in short order by others in Union Square, Central Park, the Rockaways, and other locations. Each station incorporates lithium-ion batteries in addition to solar panels; charging a phone to full capacity could take as long as two hours, but the time necessary for a partial charge is much shorter. But a couple of charging stations also won't help very much if half the city is without power: In order to help mitigate the effects of the next hurricane, New York City major Michael Bloomberg has put forward a $20 billion plan for seawalls, levees, and dozens of other improvements. 'Sandy exposed weaknesses in the city's telecommunications infrastructure — including the location of critical facilities in areas that are susceptible to flooding,' reads one section of the plan's accompanying report. The city will harden the system 'by increasing the accountability of telecommunications providers to invest in resiliency and by using new regulatory authority to enable rapid recovery after extreme weather events.'"
adeelarshad82 writes "For the fourth year running, PCMag sent drivers out on U.S. roads to test the nation's Fastest Mobile Networks. Using eight identical Samsung phones, the drivers tested out eight separate networks for four major carriers across 30 cities evenly spread across six regions. Using Sensorly's 2013 software, a broad suite of tests were conducted every three minutes: a 'ping' to test network latency, multi-threaded HTTP upload and download tests including separate 'time to first byte' measures, a 4MB single-threaded file download, a 2MB single-threaded file upload, the download of a 1MB Web page with 70 elements, and 100kbps and 500kbps UDP streams designed to simulate streaming media. Nearly 90,000 data cycles later, the data not only revealed the fastest networks (AT&T) and the most consistent (Verizon), but also other interesting points. The tests recorded the fastest download speed (66.11 Mbits/sec) in New Orleans and the best average in Austin (27.25 Mbits/sec), both for AT&T's LTE network. The tests also found T-Mobile's HSPA network to have the worst Average-Time-To-First-Byte, even when compared with AT&T HSPA network. Also according to the tests, Sprint's LTE network didn't even come close to competing with other LTE networks, to the point that in some cities its LTE network speed averaged less than T-Mobile's HSPA network speed."
sciencehabit writes "In a few years, an iPhone app may give you a 3D layout of a room as soon as you step into it. Researchers have developed an algorithm that spits out the shape and contours of complex structures (including Switzerland's Lausanne Cathedral) using data compiled from four randomly placed microphones. The technology, which relies on the same sort of echolocation bats and dolphins use to navigate, could be used to develop more realistic echoes in video games and virtual reality simulations and to eliminate the echo from phone calls."
Reuters reports that Saudi Arabia's government, after banning Viber within the kingdom, is poised to prohibit at least two other such communication apps: Skype and WhatsApp. Says the article: "Conventional international calls and texts are a lucrative earner for telecom operators in Saudi Arabia, which hosts around nine million expatriates. These foreign workers are increasingly using Internet-based applications such as Viber to communicate with relatives in other countries, analysts say." With fewer legal options, a wide-scale Internet censorship regime would be easier to implement, too.
First time accepted submitter TigerPlish writes "AT&T has rolled out Wireless Emergency Alerts for iPhones. The alerts are for huge catastrophes (a Presidential Alert), for weather / natural calamities, and for AMBER alerts. One can turn off the latter two, but the Presidential alert cannot be turned off. The article mentions only 4S and 5 get this update. That said, I have a 4 and it got the update this morning. This was enacted in 2006, for those keeping track of such things. I, for one, do not care for this any more than I like the idea of them reading my communications to begin with. Oh, I'm sorry, the "metadata" from my communications." As promised.
An anonymous reader writes "Computerworld has an interview with an Australian startup called LIFX, producing WiFi-connected LED light bulbs. Each light bulb is a small computer running the Thingsquare distribution of the open source Contiki operating system that creates a low-power wireless mesh network between the light bulbs and connects them to the WiFi network. The wireless mesh network lets the light bulbs be controlled with a smartphone app. Through a Kickstarter project, the company has already raised a significant amount of money: over one million USD. "
New submitter BrokenHalo writes "Google has revealed that it has 30 balloons floating over New Zealand in a project to bring free Wi-Fi to earthquake-stricken, rural or poor areas. They're calling it Project Loon. '[W]e’ve built a system that uses balloons, carried by the wind at altitudes twice as high as commercial planes, to beam Internet access to the ground at speeds similar to today’s 3G networks or faster. As a result, we hope balloons could become an option for connecting rural, remote, and underserved areas, and for helping with communications after natural disasters.' Eventually, as the balloons move across the stratosphere, consumers in participating countries along the 40th parallel in the Southern Hemisphere could tap into the service. The technology will be trialled in Australia next year, possibly in Tasmania. If the latter happens to be true, then you'll probably hear the telcos' screams in New York."
New submitter jcenters writes "Apple's new AirPort routers feature the new 802.11ac protocol, promising Wi-Fi speeds in excess of 1 Gbps, but Glenn Fleishman of TidBITS explains why we are unlikely to see such speeds any time soon. Quoting: 'When Apple says that its implementation of 802.11ac can achieve up to 1.3 Gbps — and other manufacturers with beefier radio systems already say up to 1.7 Gbps — the reality is that a lot of conditions have to be met to achieve that raw data rate. And, as you well know from decades of network-technology advertising, dear reader, a “raw” data rate (often incorrectly called “theoretical”) is the maximum number of bits that can pass over a network. That includes all the network overhead as well as actual data carried in packets and frames. The net throughput is often 30 to 60 percent lower.'"
New submitter EdPbllips writes "Law enforcement officials nationwide are demanding the creation of a 'kill switch' that would render smartphones inoperable after they are stolen, New York's top prosecutor said Thursday in a clear warning to the world's smartphone manufacturers. Citing statistics showing that 1 in 3 robberies nationwide involve the theft of a mobile phone, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced the formation of a coalition of law enforcement agencies devoted to stamping out what he called an 'epidemic' of smartphone robberies. 'All too often, these robberies turn violent,' said Schneiderman, who was joined at a news conference by San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon. 'There are assaults. There are murders.'" Apple described a system like this in their presentation about iOS 7 at WWDC.
An anonymous reader writes "After years of rumors and months of bickering with Apple over revenue splits, Microsoft has finally released an official iOS app for Office 365 subscribers, allowing people to use Word, Excel and PowerPoint on their iPhones and iPads. According to a hands-on report with the software, the Office app has basic functionality, but is missing some key productivity features. 'These include: font options, text alignment, bulleted lists and, again, more color choices, all of which you can find in, say, the Google Drive app.' They say it's a fairly useful addition for current subscribers, but certainly not enough to make it worth the Office 365 subscription fee on its own. 'We can't tell if Microsoft deliberately handicapped Office Mobile for iPhone, or if it's simply saving some features for a later update. (A company rep declined to comment on what we can expect from future versions.) We're willing to believe Microsoft still has some unfinished items on its to-do list, but even so, it's a shame that iPhone users waited this long for an Office app, only to get something with such a minimal feature set. All told, Office Mobile represents a good enough start for Microsoft, and in some ways it's better than Google Drive, particularly where spreadsheets are concerned. Still, it's miles behind other office apps for iOS, including Apple iWork.'"
DeviceGuru writes "Variscite has unveiled what it claims is the world's tiniest Cortex-A9 system-on-module, measuring 52 x 17mm. The Linux- and Android-compatible DART-4460 board is based on a 1.5GHz dual-core TI OMAP4460 SoC, is available with up to 1GB of DDR2 RAM and 8GB eMMC flash, and can run at 400MHz on just 44mA. The module provides interfaces for display (HDMI, RGB, DSI), wireless (Bluetooth, WiFi), audio, camera, USB, and more, and it consumes as little as 5mA in suspend and 44mA while running from a 3.7V battery at 400 MHz, according to Variscite. And in case you were wondering, the iconic Gumstix form-factor is 12 percent larger, at 58 x 17mm."
First time accepted submitter jarle.aase writes "It's doable today to use a mix of virtual machines, VPN, TOR, encryption (and staying away from certain places; like Google Plus, Facebook, and friends), in order to retain a reasonable degree of privacy. In recent days, even major mainstream on-line magazines have published such information. (Aftenposten, one of the largest newspapers in Norway, had an article yesterday about VPN, Tor and Freenet!) But what about the cell-phone? Technically it's not hard to design a phone that can switch off the GSM transmitter, and use VoIP for calls. VoIP could then go from the device through Wi-Fi and VPN. Some calls may be routed trough PSTN gateways — allowing the agencies to track the other party. But they will not track your location. And they will not track pure, encrypted VoIP calls that traverse trough VPN and use anonymous SIP or XMPP accounts. Android may not be the best software for such a device, as it very eagerly phones home. The same is true for iOS and Windows 8. Actually, I would prefer a non cloud-based mobile OS from a vendor that is not in the PRISM gallery. Does such a device exist yet? Something that runs a relatively safe OS, where GSM can be switched totally off? Something that will only make an outgoing network connection when I ask it to do so?" And in the absence of a perfect solution, what do you do instead? (It's still Android and using the cell network, but Red Phone — open sourced last year — seems like a good start.)
judgecorp writes "Security researchers say that iPhone and other Apple devices are vulnerable to an old attack, using a fake Wi-Fi access point. Attackers can use an SSID which matches one that is stored on the iPhone (say "BTWiF"), which the iPhone will connect to automatically. Other devices are protected thanks to the use of HTTPS, which enforces HTTPS, but iPhones are susceptible to this man in the middle attack, researchers say."