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AT&T Considers Buying Time Warner ( 57

In what would likely be one of the largest telecommunications takeovers in American history, Bloomberg is reporting that ATT has discussed the idea of a possible merger or other partnership with Time Warner Inc (may be paywalled; alternate source). Bloomberg reports: The talks, which at this stage are informal, have focused on building relations between the companies rather than establishing the terms of a specific transaction, the people said, asking not to be identified as the deliberations are private. Neither side has yet hired a financial adviser, the people said. Acquiring Time Warner would give ATT, one of the biggest providers of pay-TV and of wireless and home internet service in the U.S., a collection of popular programming to offer to subscribers, from HBO to NBA basketball to the Cartoon Network. ATT CEO Randall Stephenson has been looking to add more content and original programming as part of his plan to transform the Dallas-based telecommunications company into a media and entertainment giant. Time Warner Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bewkes is a willing seller if he gets an offer he thinks is fair, said one of the people. Bewkes and his board rejected an $85-a-share approach in 2014 from Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox Inc., which valued Time Warner at more than $75 billion. Last year, ATT paid $48.5 billion to acquire satellite-TV provider DirecTV, its biggest deal in at least 10 years, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. ATT has been developing an internet-based version of the pay-TV service, called DirecTV now.

iPhone 7 Plus Qualcomm LTE Modem Significantly Outperforms Intel LTE Modem, Study Finds ( 40

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Mac Rumors: With the iPhone 7 and the iPhone 7 Plus, Apple elected to use LTE modems from two different sources, Qualcomm and Intel. The A1778 and A1784 iPhone models use a GSM-only Intel XMM7360 modem while the A1660 and 1661 iPhone models use a GSM/CDMA-compatible Qualcomm MDM9645M modem. Apple's decision has already caused some disappointment among customers because the GSM-only Intel modem is not compatible with as many carrier networks as the GSM/CDMA Qualcomm modem, and now independent testing conducted by Cellular Insights suggests there are some significant performance differences between the two modems, with the Qualcomm modem outperforming the Intel modem. Using an RS TS7124 RF Shielded Box, two RS CMW500, one RS CMWC controller, and four Vivaldi antennas, Cellular Insights created a setup to simulate LTE performance at different distances from a cellular tower using two iPhone 7 Plus devices, one with an Intel modem and one with a Qualcomm modem. The goal of the test was to measure the highest achievable LTE throughput starting at a Reference Signal Received Quality of -85dBm (a strong signal) and gradually reducing the power level to simulate moving away from a cellular tower where signal is weaker. Three LTE bands were tested: Band 12, Band 4 (the most common band in North America), and Band 7. In all three tests, both the iPhone 7 Plus models offered similar performance in ideal conditions, but as power levels decreased, Cellular Insights saw "unexplainable sharp dips in performance" in the Intel modem, finding a gap "north of 30%" in favor of the Qualcomm iPhone 7 Plus. In the charts, the Qualcomm modem maintains noticeably higher throughput speeds than the Intel modem as signal strength decreases. According to Cellular Insights, in every single test, the iPhone 7 Plus with a Qualcomm modem "had a significant performance edge" over the iPhone 7 Plus with an Intel modem.

Higher-End Smartphones Make You Happier, Says JD Power Study ( 120

A new J.D. Power study published Thursday found that users who pay more for their smartphones report higher satisfaction than those who pay less for their smartphones. The study also found that among ATT and Sprint customers, Samsung phones ranked highest in overall satisfaction, while T-Mobile and Verizon customers preferred Apple iPhones. Jessica Dolcourt via CNET writes about the other conclusions made by the J.D. Power study: - Customers of ATT, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon (full-service carriers) report more satisfaction than customers on Boost Mobile, Cricket, MetroPCS and Virgin Mobile (co-contract carriers).
- Full-service customers pay an average of $361 for their phones compared with prepaid customers' $137 average.
-Customers who pay more for their phones report higher satisfaction.
- This is likely because high-cost phones perform better. (Editor's note: no duh)


Samsung Forced YouTube To Pull GTA 5 Mod Video Because It Showed Galaxy Note 7 As Bomb ( 213

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Redmond Pie: The Galaxy Note 7 wasn't just recalled, it was cancelled. For good. And that makes Samsung very cranky indeed. So when YouTube user HitmanNiko created a video showing a Grand Theft Auto 5 mod in which Galaxy Note 7 handsets can be used as grenades, it's perhaps somewhat understandable that someone inside Samsung took offense to the idea. What's incomprehensible though is the fact that Samsung has apparently set about trying to erase that video, and presumably others like it, from the Internet. The first step? Forcing YouTube to remove HitmanNiko's video. Trying to view the video now does nothing but display a message which says that the video is "no longer available due to a copyright claim by Samsung Electronics America" which leaves quite the bad taste in our mouths. The biggest issue here is that this is arguably the worst misuse of the DMCA we have ever come across, simply because nothing was copied, unless Samsung is trying to claim that by making the in-game grenades look like Galaxy Note 7 smartphones then the video creator was in fact in breach of copyright.
Data Storage

32GB iPhone 7 Has 8 Times Slower Storage Performance Than 128GB Model ( 155

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Next Web: Apple isn't telling you everything about its phones. Few weeks back, GSMArena reported that the 32GB iPhone 7 and 7 Plus had significantly slower storage performance than the 128GB and 256GB models of the device. In a new video, Unbox Therapy's Lew Hilsenteger conducted a series of speed tests that confirm the discrepancy in storage speeds between the different configurations of Apple's phone -- and it turns out the 32GB iPhone is about eight times slower than the larger capacity storage version of the device. For his first test, Hilsenteger used the free PerformanceTest Mobile app to compare the read and write speeds of the iPhone. While there was little difference between the read speeds of the 32GB and 128GB models, there's a huge disparity when it comes to write speed. The 32GB iPhone writes at 42MB per second, which is nearly eight times slower than the 128GB version's 341MB per second. Hilsenteger then performed a real-world speed test, which included transferring movies from a MacBook to the iPhone using a USB cable. While the 256GB model took two minutes and 34 seconds to complete the 4.2GB file transfer, the 32GB iPhone 7 needed a total of three minutes and 40 seconds for the same transmission.
The Almighty Buck

Samsung Hit With Class Action Lawsuit Over Exploding Galaxy Note 7 ( 42

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: Samsung's Galaxy Note 7 troubles are continuing -- the company was just hit with a class action lawsuit in New Jersey focused on recovering cell phone contract fees for customers who were left with an unusable phone for several weeks. The suit has three initial plaintiffs, who say that they were left without a phone for the several weeks between when Samsung and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission originally issued a recall and told consumers to "power down" their devices (September 9), and when the company began offering replacement devices (September 21). It also notes that Samsung didn't make enough replacement devices immediately available -- which is probably a good thing considering that the company ultimately had to recall those as well. "Samsung informed consumers they would have to wait several days, and even weeks in many cases, before receiving a replacement smartphone," the suit alleges. "During this time, and as a result of Defendant failing to provide consumers with an adequate replacement, consumers continued to incur monthly device and plan charges from their cellular carriers for phones they could not safely use." The total recall and destruction of Galaxy Note 7 phones is unprecedented for a modern smartphone, so there isn't much to look at in order to project whether the case will succeed. "Samsung has agreed to recall and reimburse the cost of the device, but their customers have had to continue to pay on their data and voice plans during the time they had to make their device inoperative until they received their replacement device," Richard McCune, one of the lawyers representing the class, told me. "That is the loss that the case is focused on."

Patriots Coach Bill Belichick on Microsoft Surface: 'I Just Can't Take It Anymore' ( 185

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick is not happy with the Surface tablet provided to him via a deal between Microsoft and the NFL. Not only has he physically thrown the tablets at things, but he has verbally expressed his negative opinions of them. TechCrunch reports: When asked about the Patriots' headsets malfunctioning during last weeks game, Belichick instead took the time to let everyone know he's "done with the tablets." While he didn't go into too much detail on the tablets, Belichick essentially said that Microsoft's surface tablets are too "undependable," and there "isn't enough consistency in their performance." In terms of the rest of the sideline technology like headsets, Belichick is essentially fed up with the fact that everything always malfunctions and is impossible to fix during games. So why is the sideline technology so hard to get right? The tablets (as well as the headphones and all other sideline technology) are owned and maintained by the NFL. That means it gets delivered to teams literally hours before the game and taken away when it ends. This makes it hard for teams to test for issues before a game and to troubleshoot when something goes wrong. Belichick's full rant can be read here, which reads in part: "As you probably noticed, I'm done with the tablets. They're just too undependable for me. I'm going to stick with (paper) pictures, which several of our other coaches do, as well, because there just isn't enough consistency in the performance of the tablets. I just can't take it anymore..."

1 In 2 Samsung Galaxy Note 7 Owners To Switch To iPhone 7, Says Analyst ( 212

Branding Brand recently conducted a post-recall study asking Samsung Galaxy Note 7 users which smartphones they would consider upgrading to. While 40 percent of them said they are ready to jump ship to a different manufacturer, 30 percent of respondents said they are likely going to be switching to the iPhone. However, according to one analyst, that number could be even higher. Softpedia reports: KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said in a note to investors that approximately 50 percent of those who ordered a Note 7 are now very likely to go for an iPhone 7, as customer trust is collapsing in the Samsung ecosystem and all these buyers are no longer planning to stick with phones manufactured by the South Korean firm. Between 5 to 7 million Note 7 orders are likely to transfer to Apple, the analyst says, and the iPhone 7 Plus is expected to be the main model benefitting from this transition. Other Android phone manufacturers, including Huawei, are also likely to benefit from Samsung's fiasco, and Google itself could also record an increase in Pixel sales following the Note 7 demise. But Apple will certainly take the lion's share here, mostly thanks to the iPhone 7 Plus currently being positioned as a direct rival to the Note 7.

WikiLeaks: Ecuador Cut Off Assange's Internet Access ( 311

Following a report from WikiLeaks claiming that its co-founder's internet service was intentionally cut off by a state actor, the anti-secrecy organization released a statement confirming the state actor was Ecuador. WikiLeaks tweeted: "We can confirm Ecuador cut off Assange's internet access Saturday, 5pm GMT, shortly after publication of Clinton's Goldman Sachs speechs." BBC reports: There was no way to immediately verify if he had been knocked offline, and if so, what was Ecuador's motivation. The anti-secrecy organization did not return calls and emails on Monday, though it said in a tweet: "We have activated the appropriate contingency plans." A woman who picked up the phone at the Ecuadorean embassy said: "I cannot disclose any information." The Wikileaks claim follows the latest emails it disclosed from a hack of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta's emails. It released three transcripts on Saturday of Mrs Clinton's paid speeches to Goldman Sachs, which her campaign had long refused to release. The scrips reveal her bantering relationship with the investment bank's executives, which is unlikely to allay fears among liberal Democrats that she is too cosy with Wall Street.

More Performers Are Demanding Audiences Lock Up Their Phones ( 550

More performers -- and other venues -- are discovering a new anti-piracy technology called Yondr -- including comedian Dave Chappelle. Slashdot reader quotes the New York Times: Fans are required to place their cellphones into Yondr's form-fitting lockable pouch when entering the show, and a disk mechanism unlocks it on the way out. Fans keep the pouch with them, but it is impossible to snap pictures, shoot videos or send text messages during the performance while the pouch is locked.

'I know my show is protected, and it empowers me to be more honest and open with the audience,' says Dave Chappelle...But some fans object to not being able to disseminate and see live shows via videotape...

"In this day and age, my phone is how I keep my memory," one live-music fan told the Washington Post, adding "If you don't want your music heard, then don't perform it." But the device is becoming more common, and according to the Times it's now also being used at weddings, restaurants, schools, and when movies are being prescreened.

Will The iPhone 8 Include Augmented Reality? ( 55

Earlier this month Mashable wrote "it's now even more obvious what [Apple] is working to bring to the masses, and it's probably not, as some rumors have indicated, virtual reality." They cited CEO Tim Cook's recent predictions that augmented reality "is going to become really big" -- he said it again on Thursday -- and BuzzFeed noted that Apple "has quietly put into place the components of what could prove to be an AR ecosystem: The iPhone 7 Plus has...a two-camera system capable of gathering stereoscopic data and generating image depth maps... In Apple Watch, the company has a spatially-aware, wearable device outfitted with an accelerometer and GPS. In its new AirPod wireless earphones, Apple essentially has a pair of diminutive, spatially-aware microcomputers -- each one with an Apple W1 wireless chip (the company's first), two accelerometers, two optical sensors, beam-forming microphones, and an antenna... And sources tell BuzzFeed News that the company has recently been taking meetings with immersive content companies like Jaunt.
Their article also lists AR companies that Apple's bought over the last three years -- plus their patents for a "head-mounted display" and a "peripheral treatment for head-mounted displays." BGR adds that Tim Cook "likes to tease future products," and points out that Cook has even said Apple is working on AR features "behind the curtain". This casts a new light on those rumors of an all-glass case for next year's iPhone 8. Will the whole body of the phone become part of an Augmented Reality display system? (And could AR also explain Apple's aggressive push for wireless headphones?)

Apple To Obsolete iPhone 4 and Late 2010 MacBook Air On October 31 ( 114

Apple will make all iPhone 4 models, the late 2010 13-inch MacBook Air, third-generation AirPort Extreme, and mid-2009 AirPort Time Capsule obsolete come October 31, MacRumor claims, citing a different report. From the report: Apple products on the vintage and obsolete list are no longer eligible for hardware service, beyond a few exceptions. Apple defines vintage products as those that have not been manufactured for more than five years but less than seven years ago, while obsolete products are those that were discontinued more than seven years ago. Each of the products added were released between 2009 and 2010. The report specifically pertains to Apple's vintage and obsolete products list in Japan, but the new additions will more than likely extend to the United States, Australia, Canada, and the rest of the Asia-Pacific and Europe regions.
United States

California City Converts Its Street Lights Into A High-Speed IoT Backbone ( 61

Harvard Law professor Susan Crawford describes how the city of Santa Monica installed its own high-speed IoT backbone on its street lights and traffic signals -- and why it's important. Neutral "micro" cell sites can make very high-capacity wireless transmissions available, competitively, to everyone (and every sensor) nearby. This can and should cause an explosion of options and new opportunities for economic growth, innovation, and human flourishing in general... Very few American cities have carried out this transmogrification, but every single one will need to. Santa a city that will be able to control its future digital destiny, because it is taking a comprehensive, competition-forcing approach to the transmission of data...

Cities that get control of their streetlights and connect them to municipally overseen, reasonably priced dark fiber can chart their own Internet of Things futures, rather than leave their destinies in the hands of vendors whose priorities are driven (rationally) by the desire to control whole markets and keep share prices and dividends high rather than provide public benefits.

Santa Monica's CIO warns that now telecoms "are looking for exclusive rights to poles and saying they can't co-locate [with their competitors]. They're all hiring firms to lock up their permits and rights to as many poles as possible, as quickly as possible, before governments can organize."

Smartphones Are 'Contaminating' Family Life, Study Suggests ( 84

An anonymous reader quotes a report from CBS News: Mobile devices like smartphones and tablets can be distracting from child-rearing, upending family routines and fueling stress in the home, a small, new study finds. Incoming communication from work, friends and the world at large is "contaminating" family mealtime, bedtime and playtime, said study lead author Dr. Jenny Radesky. She's an assistant professor of developmental behavioral pediatrics at the University of Michigan Medical School. Her comments stem from her team's study involving interviews with 35 parents and caregivers of young children in the Boston area. "This tension, this stress, of trying to balance newly emerging technologies with the established patterns and rituals of our lives is extremely common, and was expressed by almost all of our participants," Radesky said. "We have to toggle between what might be stress-inducing or highly cognitively demanding mobile content and responding to our kids' behavior," she said. The result, said Radesky, is often a rise in parent-child tension and overall stress. Modern parents and caregivers interact with tablets, smartphones and other communication devices for about three hours a day, the study authors said in background notes. Radesky's team previously found that when parents used mobile devices during meals they interacted less with their children, and became stressed when children tried to grab their attention away from the device. The new study included 22 mothers, nine fathers and four grandmothers. Participants were between 23 and 55 years old (average age 36) and cared for toddlers or young children up to age 8. Roughly one-third were single parents, and nearly six in 10 were white. On the plus side, many parents said that mobile devices facilitated their ability to work from home. But that could fuel anxiety, too. Some said smartphones provided access to the outside world, and alleviated some of the boredom and stress of child-rearing. On the down side, caregivers described being caught in a tug-of-war between their devices and their children. The study findings were published in the Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics.

Apple's Redesigned London Store Has Untethered iPhones ( 76

Apple is putting a lot of faith into its customers' hands. The company is stopping the practice of tethering iPhones to demo desks. (It's a common practice, and pretty much everyone does it for their top smartphones). From a CNET report, which describes Apple's redesigned London store: Perhaps the most interesting feature of the store is that when it opens to the public at the weekend the devices won't be tethered to the tables as they were previously, and are in other stores around the world. Apple says this is to allow people to hold them properly, try cases on them and even see how they feel in your pocket. It's a bold move, especially given the lack of visible security in the building. We couldn't spot a single CCTV camera, although any phone taken out of the store will set off an alarm. If not returned, the phones will also be rendered unusable.

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