New submitter clorkster writes "I am looking to upgrade my mobile phone. I have always bought the cheapest possible phone with the least features since I only use it to make calls and text. Further, I am opposed to paying for internet access twice and my home access is certainly more important and necessary. I am now running into the issue that my phone is too archaic to receive text messages from newer smart phones (they somehow become picture messages). Any thoughts on a good smart phone without data plan or an almost smart phone solution?"
Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive
An anonymous reader writes "How are you using smartphones and other portable devices to take charge of your medical care? The NY Times has an article about attachments to the iPhone for tracking blood sugar and blood pressure. There are also glorified web cams that take pictures of your ear drum, teeth or eyes to save you a trip to the doctor's. Some people are tracking the changes in their moles with an iPhone App. Is this the beginning of Med 2.0?" Odd as it sounds, I was able to be more quickly and reliably diagnosed with Lyme disease last fall because I'd taken some pictures on my phone of the lesion I'd wrongly thought was the result of a spider bite. Any camera would have worked, but I had my camera-equipped phone with me, rather than any other kind.
retroworks writes "Great piece in The Atlantic by Kyle Wiens of IFIXIT.org, who visited and photographed the Molycorp Mountain Pass rare earth facility in California's Mojave Desert. The mine is the only source of rare earths in North America, one of the only alternatives to the mineral cartels in China, and one of the only sources for the key metals such as tantalum needed in cell phones. There is of course actually one other source of rare earth metals in the USA — recycled cell phones. Is the best 'state of the art' mining as good as the worst state of the art recycling? If the U.S. Department of Energy subsidizes the mine, will China open the floodgates and put it out of business? Or will electronics be manufactured with alternative materials before the mine ever becomes fully scaleable?"
First time accepted submitter Nick Fel writes "As the UK nears the end of a lengthy digital TV switch-over, the sale of the analogue TV spectrum for 4G mobile phones will disrupt digital TV in almost a million homes. Affected homes will be issued with a filter or required to upgrade to satellite or cable, and in extreme cases may be granted funding to find their own solution."
YokimaSun writes "Sony has today released the PSVita in the U.S. and Europe. The console comes with features such as dual touch pads at the front and rear, dual cameras at the front and rear, dual analog sticks, a 5-inch OLED screen, GPS, six-axis motion sensors and a three-axis electronic compass. The PSVita is Sony's attempt at stealing the thunder away from the 3DS but also bringing back the gamers lost to the likes of Android and iOS Devices. The PSVita in Japan sold massively on its first release week but since has struggled and sold less than the PSP. With this in mind sites like Amazon have been offering many different deals to entice people to buy the console. Can Sony stop homebrewers from taking over this console?"
judgecorp writes "Microsoft has filed a complaint with the European Commission complaining that Motorola Mobility is charging too much for use of its patented technology in phones and tablets. The complaint follows a similar one by Apple last week, and will need to be resolved by Google as it takes charge of Motorola Mobility."
Alt-kun writes "On February 21st, The Blackberry Playbook finally received its long-promised overhaul. Called Playbook OS 2.0, this major upgrade provides native email and calendaring apps, limited support for Android applications (the developer has to repackage the app for the Playbook), and a bunch of other features. There are some fairly positive initial reviews, although one can no doubt expect a lot of too-little-too-late naysaying from various quarters as well. The Globe and Mail article also contains this somewhat interesting note: '...until RIM began deep discounting ... the device languished way behind rivals such as the iPad in terms of market share. One recent report by Toronto-based Solutions Research Group, however, pegs RIM's share of the tablet market at around 15 per cent, a big jump after discounting over the holiday buying season.'" ZDNet has some screenshots of the new features, and El Reg has a piece on an interesting bit of the new software.
kodiaktau writes "Google is working to deliver a heads-up display allowing users access to email, maps and other tools through a wearable interface. According to the NY Times' sources, the device will be available later this year, and sell for prices comparable to smartphones. 'The people familiar with the Google glasses said they would be Android-based, and will include a small screen that will sit a few inches from someone’s eye. They will also have a 3G or 4G data connection and a number of sensors including motion and GPS. ... The glasses will have a low-resolution built-in camera that will be able to monitor the world in real time and overlay information about locations, surrounding buildings and friends who might be nearby, according to the Google employees. The glasses are not designed to be worn constantly — although Google expects some of the nerdiest users will wear them a lot — but will be more like smartphones, used when needed.'"
nk497 writes "Canonical has revealed Ubuntu running on a smartphone — but the open source developer hasn't squashed the full desktop onto a tiny screen. Instead, the Ubuntu for Android system runs both OSes side by side, picking which to surface depending on the form factor. When a device — in the demo, it was a Motorola Atrix — is being used as a smartphone, it uses Android. When it's docked into a laptop or desktop setup, the full version of Ubuntu is used. Files, apps and other functionality such as voice calls and texting are shared between the two — for example, if a text message is sent to the phone when it's docked, the SMS pops up in Ubuntu, while calls can be received or made from the desktop." ZDnet has pictures; ExtremeTech has a story, too, including some words from Canonical CEO Jane Silber.
itwbennett writes "Following Tuesday's FCC ruling saying that the company's LTE network interferes with GPS, LightSquared's primary investor Philip Falcone is looking to sue the FCC and the GPS industry. Alternately, Falcone is considering ways to appeal the FCC's decision or even swap spectrum with the Department of Defense."
alphadogg writes "GSM cellular networks leak enough location data to give third-parties secret access to cellphone users' whereabouts, according to new University of Minnesota research. 'We have shown that there is enough information leaking from the lower layers of the GSM communication stack to enable an attacker to perform location tests on a victim's device. We have shown that those tests can be performed silently without a user being aware by aborting PSTN calls before they complete,' write the authors, from the College of Science and Engineering, in a paper titled 'Location Leaks on the GSM Air Interface' (Pdf). The researchers are working with carriers and equipment makers, including AT&T and Nokia, to address the security issues."
Lucas123 writes "New research shows that far more than wireless network or CPUs, the NAND flash memory in cell phones, and in particular smartphones, affects the device's performance when it comes to loading apps, surfing the web and loading and reading documents. In tests with top-selling 16GB smartphones, NAND flash memory slowed mobile app performance from two to three times with one exception, Kingston's embedded memory card; that card slowed app performance 20X. At the bottom of the bottleneck is the fact that while network and CPUs speeds have kept pace with mobile app development, flash throughput hasn't. The researchers from Georgia Tech and NEC Corp. are working on methods to improve flash performance (PDF), including using a PRAM buffer to stage writes or be used as the final location for the SQLite databases."
PolygamousRanchKid writes with this quote from CNN: "A Kenyan chief in a town far from the bustling capital foiled a predawn robbery recently using Twitter, highlighting the far-reaching effects of social media in areas that don't have access to the Internet. Chief Francis Kariuki said he got a call in the dead of the night that thieves had broken into a neighbor's house. Local residents, who subscribe to his tweets through a free text messaging service, jumped into action. They surrounded the house, sending the thugs fleeing into the night. In the town 100 miles from Nairobi, a majority of residents don't have access to computers, the Internet or smart phones. The sporadic cyber cafes strewn across the landscape charge for Internet access. However, almost every household has a cell phone and text messages are a major form of communication in the nation."
An anonymous reader writes "A preliminary settlement has been reached in the class-action lawsuit brought against Apple in June 2010 over the 'Antennagate' fiasco. Ira Rothken, co-lead counsel for the case, says there are 21 million people entitled to either $15 or a free bumper. 'The settlement comes from 18 separate lawsuits that were consolidated into one. All share the claim that Apple was "misrepresenting and concealing material information in the marketing, advertising, sale, and servicing of its iPhone 4 — particularly as it relates to the quality of the mobile phone antenna and reception and related software." The settlement has its own Web site, www.iPhone4Settlement.com, which will be up in the coming weeks (the site doesn't go anywhere right now). There, customers will be able to get information about the settlement and how to make a claim. As part of the arrangement, e-mails will also be sent alerting original buyers to the settlement before April 30, 2012. The claims period is then open for 120 days.'"
bonch writes "After months of reporting on photos of iPad 3 screen parts, MacRumors finally obtained one for themselves and examined it under a microscope, confirming that the new screens will have twice the linear resolution of the iPad 2, with a whopping 2048x1536 pixel density. Hints of the new display's resolution were found in iBooks 2, which contains hi-DPI versions of its artwork. The iPad 3 is rumored to be launching in early March."