Cara_Latham writes "Mobile wallets are all the rage. But legitimate questions remain as to whether they will ever truly replace their leathery counterparts. Mobile wallets, which use NFC-based technology to allow customers to make contactless payments at the point of sale, already have begun to make their presence felt. Mountain View, Calif.-based Google launched a digital wallet this past fall. The search giant has agreements with Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover to make the Google Wallet available to the card companies' account holders, and there even are some NFC-enabled terminals in use across the U.S. that can accept it, including at many mass transit stations. And mobile wallet ventures are cropping up around the globe, as well. Telecom companies including Vodafone and Telefonica announced this year wallet initiatives in Africa and Latin America. But mobile wallets still face many hurdles before they can gain widespread adoption, experts say, including the rather difficult task of getting consumers to change long-held habits."
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suraj.sun writes with a followup to last week's news that Mozilla was thinking about reversing their stance on H.264 support. Mozilla chairman Mitchell Baker and CTO Brendan Eich have now both written blog posts explaining why they feel H.264 support is no longer optional. Eich wrote, "We will not require anyone to pay for Firefox. We will not burden our downstream source redistributors with royalty fees. We may have to continue to fall back on Flash on some desktop OSes. I’ll write more when I know more about desktop H.264, specifically on Windows XP. What I do know for certain is this: H.264 is absolutely required right now to compete on mobile. I do not believe that we can reject H.264 content in Firefox on Android or in B2G and survive the shift to mobile. Losing a battle is a bitter experience. I won’t sugar-coat this pill. But we must swallow it if we are to succeed in our mobile initiatives. Failure on mobile is too likely to consign Mozilla to decline and irrelevance." Baker added, "Our first approach at bringing open codecs to the Web has ended up at an impasse on mobile, but we’re not done yet. ... We'll find a way around this impasse."
alphadogg writes with this excerpt from Network World: "Many mobile apps include ads that can threaten users' privacy and network security, according to North Carolina State University researchers. The National Science Foundation-funded researchers studied 100,000 apps in Google Play (formerly Android Market) and found that more than half contained ad libraries, nearly 300 of which were enabled to grab code from remote servers that could give malware and hackers a way into your smartphone or tablet. 'Running code downloaded from the Internet is problematic because the code could be anything,' says Xuxian Jiang, an assistant professor of computer science at NC State."
New submitter unimacs writes "So Apple has been under fire recently for the conditions at the factories of their Chinese suppliers. I listened to 'This American Life's' recent retraction of the Michael Daisey piece they did a while back. Great radio for those of you who haven't heard it — rarely has dead air been used to such effect. Anyway, while his work has been discredited, Michael Daisey wasn't inaccurate in his claims that working conditions are poor in iPhone and iPad factories. Given that, are there any smart phone manufacturers whose phones are made under better conditions?"
eldavojohn writes "Apparently the Samsung and Apple patent hoedown has received some uninvited guests that wish to troll with the big trolls — all over a built-in button for an emoticon. According to Varia Holdings (don't bother googling, you won't find anyone trying to license their patents to you) 'by asserting [its European] emoticon patent against Apple, Samsung has recognized the value of the type of invention embodied in [Varia's] '731 Patent.' And, thusly, Varia feels this provides grounds to sue Samsung and RIM. Techdirt provides commentary on the obviousness of said patent while raking the USPTO examiner over the coals (although, curiously, gives Samsung a free pass)."
judgecorp writes "Here's a reason to pay for smartphone apps: the free versions can spend three times as much energy finding and serving ads as they do serving their actual purpose. Research from a Purdue University scientist found that as much as 75 percent of the energy used by free apps (PDF) goes on accessing location services, finding suitable advertisements and displaying them."
Nick Bilton, Lead Technology writer for The New York Times Bits Blog, called the FAA to complain about its gadget policies on flights and got an unexpected reply. Laura J. Brown, deputy assistant administrator for public affairs, said that it might be time to change some of those policies and promised they'd take a “fresh look” at the use of personal electronics on planes. From the article: "Yes, you read that correctly. The F.A.A., which in the past has essentially said, 'No, because I said so,' is going to explore testing e-readers, tablets and certain other gadgets on planes. The last time this testing was done was 2006, long before iPads and most e-readers existed. (The bad, or good, news: The F.A.A. doesn’t yet want to include the 150 million smartphones in this revision.)"
SonicSpike writes in with a story about the latest state contemplating raising revenues by taxing the net. "Downloading music, movies, e-books and Apps could soon cost Connecticut residents more as lawmakers consider a tax on digital downloads. The bill, proposed by the General Assembly's Finance, Review and Bonding Committee, would have consumers pay the 6.35% sales tax on any electronic transfer. Supporters say the bill would level the playing field for brick-and-mortar retailers in the state who are already required to charge Connecticut sales tax to consumers who purchase these products in their stores. About 25 states around the country have already begun taxing digital downloads."
pinguin-geek writes "Computer science researchers at Northwestern University have developed a way to exert limited control on how people move, pushing them out of their regular travel patterns. The key: tapping into some of their cell phone applications. The findings could elicit a broader range of user-collected data by driving foot traffic to under-utilized areas."
theodp writes "English comedian Russell Brand could be facing a felony conviction for snatching an iPhone from a would-be paparazzi and tossing it through a window. Singer/parolee Chris Brown also found himself in iPhone hot water after being charged with 'robbery by snatching' in a similar DIY-paparazzi-thwarting incident, which could be a misdemeanor or felony depending on the value placed on an iPhone. But in the world-of-crazy-pricing created by phone makers and wireless providers ($899 Nokia Windows Phone, anyone?), where the quoted price of an iPhone varies by a factor of 376 from the same company, should one really be charged with a felony for snatching an iPhone, especially when an iPad 2 can be had for $399 retail?"
An anonymous reader writes "Security firm Elcomsoft analyzed 17 iOS and BlackBerry password-keeping apps and found their actual security levels well below their claimed level of protection. With additional digging, however, Glenn Fleishman at TidBITS found that Elcomsoft's criticisms rely on physical access to the apps' data stores, and, for some of the more common apps, on the user employing a short (6 characters or fewer) or numeric password. In other words, there really isn't much risk here."
New submitter Hartree writes "This American Life aired an episode in January about visiting Foxconn's factory in Shenzhen China that supplies Apple with iPhones and iPads. It was the most downloaded of all of its episodes. That show helped prompt Apple to release, for the first time, a list of its suppliers and allow outside audits of working conditions at its suppliers. This American Life has now retracted the episode after finding out that Mike Daisey, whose visit to the factory the show was based on, fabricated portions of the story. This included a number of minor items, but also major ones such as his saying that he personally met underage workers and those poisoned by hexane exposure. To set the record straight, this weekend's episode of This American Life will present how they were mislead into airing a flawed story (PDF)."
angry tapir writes "PayPal is targeting small businesses, service providers, and casual sellers on the move with its new PayPal Here service, which allows vendors to process a variety of payments including checks and cards using their mobile phones. The new service includes a free app and encrypted thumb-sized card reader, which allows merchants with an iPhone, and later Android smartphones, to process payments."
volts writes "Troubled LightSquared's primary Skyterra 1 satellite has been out of service since the solar storm on March 7. The company says it is 'working through the rebuild of the satellite tapping into the resources that were involved in the original program.' This development follows a stream of bad news including layoffs, default on payments, the resignation of CEO Sanjiv Ahuja and FCC rejection of a scheme to repurpose satellite frequencies for cellular data due to interference with GPS. Another kick in the teeth as company struggles to avoid bankruptcy."
snydeq writes "Dan Bricklin, the co-creator of the PC revolution's killer app, weighs in on the opportunities and oversights of the tablet revolution. 'In some sense, for tablets the browser is a killer app. Maps is a killer app to some extent. Being able to share the screen with other people — that it's a social device — also might fit the bill. I think that for tablets, there isn't and won't be one killer app for everyone. It's more that there are apps that are killers for individual people. It's the sum of all those that is the killer app. This has been true since the original Palm Pilot.'"