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Cellphones

Microsoft Convinced That Windows 10 Will Be Its Smartphone Breakthrough 419

Posted by samzenpus
from the for-sure-this-time dept.
jfruh (300774) writes At the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, handset manufacturers are making all the right noises about support for Windows 10, which will run on both ARM- and Intel-based phones and provide an experience very much like the desktop. But much of the same buzz surrounded Windows 8 and Windows 7 Phone. In fact, Microsoft has tried and repeatedly failed to take the mobile space by storm.
Cellphones

Blackphone 2 Caters To the Enterprise, the Security-Minded and the Paranoid 58

Posted by samzenpus
from the press-p-for-privacy dept.
Mark Wilson writes While much of the news coming out of MWC 2015 has been dominated by Microsoft's Lumia 640, the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge, and tablets from Sony, there's always room for something a little different. Following on from the security-focused Blackphone, Silent Circle used the Barcelona event to announce the follow-up — the Blackphone 2. The privacy-centric company has been working on the "world's first enterprise privacy platform" for some time now and the second generation Blackphone. As you would expect, there's a faster processor than before -- an 8-core beast -- as well as an upgraded 3GB RAM, a larger 5.5 inch screen and a bigger battery than before. Blackphone 2 has a $600 price tag and will be unleashed in July.
Cellphones

Ikea Unveils Furniture That Charges Your Smartphone Wirelessly 95

Posted by samzenpus
from the power-up dept.
pbahra writes Swedish furniture maker Ikea unveiled a new range of furniture that it says can wirelessly charge some mobile devices. The Swedish furniture giant made the announcement on Sunday at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. Ikea's introduction of wireless charging functionality on some of its new furniture heats up the battle for a global wireless charging standard, of which there are currently three, all struggling to become the global leader.
Cellphones

Samsung Officially Unpacks Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge At MWC 231

Posted by samzenpus
from the check-it-out dept.
MojoKid writes Today, at Mobile World Congress, Samsung took the veil off of its much-anticipated Galaxy S6, and also the Galaxy S6 edge. As has been heavily rumored, the S6 foregoes the plastic shell of its predecessor and integrates metal and glass instead, resulting in a far more premium feel, a thickness of 6.8mm, and a weight of 138g on the normal S6 and 132g on the edge. Samsung made it a point to mention that the metal it uses in the S6 is 50% stronger than other smartphones- a Apple bendgate jab, perhaps? Both the S6 and S6 edge share the same hardware, which includes a 5.1-inch Quad HD Super AMOLED display. That gives us a resolution of 2560x1440, and a high pixel density of 577 ppi. The new phones also include an octa-core processor (2.1GHz quad + 1.5GHz quad), 3GB of DDR4 memory, and LTE cat 6 (300/50Mbps) support. Also of note is the phone's rear 16 megapixel f/1.9 camera, which Samsung says will launch in less than a second (0.6 seconds, to be exact). The front camera is no slouch either, also boasting an aperture of f/1.9, and coming in at 5 megapixels. The company says that the phone can add 4 hours of battery-life after a mere 10 minutes of charging, and when compared to the iPhone, it charges up to full in half the time. The S6 also has built-in wireless charging as well.
Encryption

BlackPhone, In Wake of Gemalto Fallout, Receives $50 Million In Funding 59

Posted by timothy
from the small-steps dept.
An anonymous reader writes The BlackPhone, a $600-plus encrypted Android handset designed to keep the prying eyes of criminals and the government out of mobile communications, is now fully owned by Silent Circle thanks to the company raking in investment cash. Terms of the buyout deal with Spanish smartphone maker Geeksphone, the phone's hardware manufacturer, were not disclosed. Silent Circle said Thursday that it has raised $50 million and plans on showing off an encrypted 'enterprise privacy ecosystem' at World Mobile Congress next week. A BlackPhone tablet is on the way, too.
China

Microsoft Closing Two Phone Factories In China 85

Posted by Soulskill
from the end-call dept.
randomErr writes: Microsoft is closing two factories in China by the end of March. About 9,000 people worked in these factories, and those jobs were cut a while back as part of the company's major restructuring after its Nokia purchase. Much of the equipment located in these factories from Beijing and the southeastern city of Dongguan is being shipped to Vietnam.
Cellphones

Pakistanis Must Provide Fingerprints Or Give Up Cellphone 134

Posted by Soulskill
from the must-donate-kidney-to-keep-tablet dept.
schwit1 sends this report from the Washington Post: Cellphones didn't just arrive in Pakistan. But someone could be fooled into thinking otherwise, considering the tens of millions of Pakistanis pouring into mobile phone stores these days. In one of the world's largest — and fastest — efforts to collect biometric information, Pakistan has ordered cellphone users to verify their identities through fingerprints for a national database being compiled to curb terrorism. If they don't, their service will be shut off, an unthinkable option for many after a dozen years of explosive growth in cellphone usage here.

Prompted by concerns about a proliferation of illegal and untraceable SIM cards, the directive is the most visible step so far in Pakistan's efforts to restore law and order after Taliban militants killed 150 students and teachers at a school in December. Officials said the six terrorists who stormed the school in Peshawar were using cellphones registered to one woman who had no obvious connection to the attackers.
Cellphones

How Walking With Smartphones May Have Changed Pedestrian Etiquette 290

Posted by timothy
from the outta-the-way-bub dept.
An anonymous reader writes The phenomenon of 'distracted walking' — pedestrians who walk while using smartphones — has raised civic attention in the last few years, with Utah issuing fines and cities in China creating dedicated 'smartphone lanes' for walkers who need to keep up with Whatsapp on the move. This article argues that smartphone users have become so accustomed to other people getting out of their way that they will no longer negotiate for sidewalk space even when not using their phones.
Cellphones

Apple Will Let Users Test iOS Beta Versions For the First Time 54

Posted by timothy
from the go-ahead-take-a-bite dept.
9to5 Mac reports that In an effort to eliminate bugs from upcoming iOS versions ahead of their general releases, Apple plans to launch the first-ever public beta program for the iOS operating system, according to multiple people briefed on the plans. Following the successful launch of the OS X Public Beta program with OS X Yosemite last year, Apple intends to release the upcoming iOS 8.3 as a public beta via the company’s existing AppleSeed program in mid-March, according to the sources. The article goes on to say Like the early iOS 8 developers builds, the public betas will include a dedicated app that allows users to report bugs to Apple. The main goal of the iOS beta program will be a more reliable and widely tested operating system by the time of the wider consumer launch, as Apple has come under fire for lack of quality control in iOS 8. Launching public beta versions of iOS will also reduce the demand for unauthorized sales of beta downloads from developer accounts, which enabled some consumers to test-drive future iOS features.
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

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.
Medicine

Ask Slashdot: Panic Button a Very Young Child Can Use 327

Posted by samzenpus
from the shiny-red-button dept.
First time accepted submitter Zotonian writes My wife is epileptic. Her seizures have been well controlled by medication until recently. My concern is that we have a toddler and infant at home. I've set up cameras so I can monitor the house, but I'm looking for a solution that my 2 year old daughter can hit a button to tell me to look at them if necessary. Most of the options I'm finding off the shelf notify first responders and I'm concerned of the number of false positives a toddler might initiate. Other solutions like cellphones or wearables for kids are too overloaded with unnecessary options like GPS, phone, games, etc. I'd rather have a simple 'push button' solution I can wire into my router that would send me a text or chat message that alerts me to check the cameras. Then if there is an actually emergency I can take the steps from there. I'm looking for cheap and simple. Any suggestions from the Slashdot community?
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."
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."
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.
Cellphones

ARM's Cortex-A72 and Mali-T880 GPU Announced For 2016 Flagship Smartphones 85

Posted by samzenpus
from the new-guts dept.
MojoKid writes ARM's Cortex-A57 is just now starting to break stride with design wins and full-ramp production in new mobile products. However, ARM is releasing a wealth of information on its successor: the Cortex-A72. ARM is targeting a core clock of 2.5GHz for the Cortex-A72 and it will be built using a 14nm/16nm FinFET+ process. Using the Cortex-A15 (NVIDIA Tegra 4, Tegra K1) as a baseline, ARM says that the Cortex-A57 (Qualcomm Snapdragon 810, Samsung Exynos 5433) offers 1.9x the performance. Stepping up to the Cortex-A72, which will begin shipping in next year's flagship smartphones, offers 3.5x the baseline performance of the Cortex-A15. These performance increases are being made within the same power envelope across all three architectures. So in turn, the Cortex-A72 can perform the same workload as the Cortex-A15 while consuming 75 percent less power. Much like the Snapdragon 810, which uses a big.LITTLE configuration (four low-power Cortex-A53 cores paired with four high performance Cortex-A57 cores), future SoCs using the Cortex-A72 will also be capable of big.LITTLE pairings with the Cortex-A53. ARM has also announced its new Mali-T880 GPU, which offers 1.8x the performance of the current generation Mali-T760. Under identical workloads, the Mali-T880 offers a 40 percent reduction in power consumption compared to its predecessor. ARM again also points to optimizations in the Mali-T880 to efficiently support 4K video playback.