First time accepted submitter Augury writes "I'm about to undertake a lengthy trip involving travel through dusty, damp and drop-inducing environments. When it comes to packing for such a trip, reading is a fundamental need, to help while away the inevitable hours spent in transit lounges, at bus stops and on beaches. The weight and bulk of the dead tree approach makes it impractical, so an e-book reader seems ideal — does anyone have any experience with ruggedising an e-book reader for such conditions?"
jalfreize writes "The Indian government is finalizing a $1.2 billion plan to hand out free mobile phones to the poorest Indian families (around six million households, according to some estimates). The Times of India reports: 'Top government managers involved in formulating the scheme want to sell it as a major empowerment initiative... While the move will ensure contact with the beneficiaries of welfare programmes (sic) ..., there is also a view the scheme will provide an opportunity for the (government) to open a direct line of communication with a sizable population that plays an active role in polls.'"
An anonymous reader writes "A U.S. government report released on Tuesday says the Federal Communications Commission needs to update its guidelines for limiting cell phone radio-frequency exposure. The limit was set in 1996 to an exposure rate of 1.6 watts per kilogram, and has not been updated since. The report does not advocate in favor of any particular research, and actually points out that the limit could possibly be raised, but says the FCC's rules have not kept pace with recent studies on the subject one way or the other. An executive for The Wireless Association said, 'The FCC has been vigilant in its oversight in this area and has set safety standards to make sure that radio frequency fields from wireless phones remain at what it has determined are safe levels. The FCC's safety standards include a 50-fold safety factor and, as the FCC has noted, are the most conservative in the world.'"
wiredmikey writes "Despite its significant user base within enterprises, BlackBerry devices have managed to stay off the radar for malware writers. That may be ending, as four new Zeus-in-the-mobile (Zitmo) samples targeting BlackBerry users in Germany, Spain, and Italy have been found. Zitmo, which hit Android devices back in July 2011, refers to a version of the Zeus malware that specifically targets mobile devices. Denis Maslennikov, a security researcher at Kaspersky Lab, also identified a new Zitmo variant for Android using the same command and control (C&C) numbers as the BlackBerry versions. While previous Android variants have been primitive, the latest .apk dropper, which shows up as an app 'Zertifikat,' looks 'more similar to "classic" Zitmo,' he said. When executed, it displays a message in German that the installation was successful, along with an activation code. The Android sample also included a self-issued certificate that indicates it was developed less than a month ago."
david.emery writes "In a document from the ongoing Samsung/Apple trial, provided in both English translation and Korean original, Samsung engineers provided a detailed comparison of user interface features in their phone against the iPhone. In almost all cases, the recommendation was to adopt the iPhone's approach. Among other observations, this shows how much work goes into defining the Apple iPhone user experience." Ars has an article on the evidence offered by Apple so far.
Square, the start-up mobile payment service that aims to bring credit card transactions to anyone with a smartphone, has formed a partnership with Starbucks, a move that vastly increases Square's reach and visibility. According to the NY Times, "This fall, Square will begin processing all credit and debit card transactions at Starbucks stores in the United States and eventually customers will be able to order a grande vanilla latte and charge it to their credit cards simply by saying their names. Though smartphone payments have a long way to go before they replace wallets altogether, Starbucks’s adoption of Square will catapult the start-up’s technology onto street corners nationwide, and is the clearest sign yet that mobile payments could become mainstream. ... At first, Starbucks customers will need to show the merchant a bar code on their phones. But when Starbucks uses Square’s full GPS technology, the customer’s phone will automatically notify the store that the customer has entered, and the customer’s name and photo will pop up on the cashier’s screen. The customer will give the merchant his or her name, Starbucks will match the photo and the payment will be complete."
Shortly after Microsoft announced its upcoming Surface tablet, there was speculation that it might sour the company's relationships with OEM partners. Statements from an Acer spokesperson indicate that's definitely the case. The spokesperson told Bloomberg, "On one hand Microsoft is our partner, but on the other, Microsoft’s move makes them compete not only with us but all PC makers. We think that Microsoft’s launch of its own-brand products is negative for the whole PC industry." The company is reportedly considering whether or not they want to keep relying on Microsoft's software products.
redletterdave writes "Siri can send texts and emails, set alarms and reminders, surf the Web, ask questions, place calls, play music, and get directions. But would you trust Siri, or any of her similar rivals out there for Android, to pay your bank bill? Or report a lost card? Or set up an auto-payments for your bills? Even if you wanted to do these things, how does Siri even know you are who you say you are? Nuance has clearly thought about what's missing from the voice recognition department, and unveiled its own solution on Monday, called 'Nina.' The Nuance Interactive Natural Assistant, or NINA, is a cloud-based AI that can be enabled in most business and enterprise applications thanks to a set of APIs and an open SDK for iOS and Android. Nuance calls Nina 'a watershed of firsts for virtual assistants,' mainly because she is the 'first [VA] to understand what is said and who said it' using voice-ID authentication software. Unlike Siri, Nina can help users manage their bank accounts, book flights and hotels, oversee and manage their investments, and more."
zacharye writes "Bruised mobile carriers such as AT&T and Verizon are 'fighting back' against Apple's iPhone, despite the fact that the device has helped them eke out consistently higher average revenue per wireless subscribers since its launch. To hear the carriers tell it, the iPhone is a major inhibitor to their profits as last year they were 'only' generating wireless service profit margins in the 38% to 42% range. But ever since these beleaguered companies started 'fighting back' by implementing data caps, increasing fees for device upgrades and implementing longer waiting periods before users can switch devices, they’ve seen their wireless service profit margins surge. AT&T reported a 45% margin in Q2 2012 and Verizon reported a record-high 49% margin."
An opinion piece at ZDNet makes the case that Intel is the best match for struggling handset-maker Nokia, arguing that Intel needs help breaking into the smartphone market and Nokia isn't tied as tightly to Qualcomm/ARM hardware as other vendors. From the article: "Another factor in favor of a union is Nokia and Intel's shared history — albeit not the most successful — of working together in mobile, thanks to their collaboration on the Linux-based MeeGo mobile OS. What's more, Intel has a long relationship with Microsoft, handy given the impending release of Windows Phone 8 and Nokia's new-found commitment to Microsoft's platform. The fact that Intel is currently using Android, as seen with Orange's San Diego smartphone, isn't much of a hindrance; Intel has already said it hasn't written off the idea of using Windows Phone 8 in future, and due to the x86 architecture, Android phones that use Intel's Atom processor won't even run all of the apps on Google Play, suggesting the relationship between Android and Intel isn't all it could be."
colinneagle writes "In an interview with Fortune a few years ago, Steve Jobs explained that Apple never does market research. Rather, they simply preoccupy themselves with creating great products. On Monday, Apple's Greg Joswiak — the company's VP of Product Marketing — submitted a declaration to the Court explaining why documents relating to Apple's market research and strategy should be sealed. Every month, Apple surveys iPhone buyers and Joswiak explains what Apple is able to glean from these surveys. And as you might expect, Apple conducts similar surveys with iPad buyers. Apple wants all of these tracking studies sealed. Joswiak explains that if a competitor were to find out what drives iPhone purchases — whether it be FaceTime, battery life, or Siri — it would serve as an unfair competitive edge to rival companies. Further, competitors, as it stands today, have to guess as to which demographics are most satisfied with Apple products." A few other interesting facts have come out of the trial so far; Apple spent $647 million advertising the iPhone in the U.S. from its launch through fiscal 2011, and they spent $457.2 million advertising the iPad from its launch up to the same point.
hypnosec writes "Researchers at University College of London have applied principles of radar used in defense and designed a detector using home based Wi-Fi routers to spy on people across walls. Using the principles behind the Doppler effect ... Karl Woodbridge and Kevin Chetty, at University College London, have built a prototype unit that uses Wi-Fi signals and recognizes frequency changes to detect moving objects. The size of the prototype unit is more or less the size of a suitcase. The unit contains a radio receiver comprising of two antennas and a signal-processing unit. The duo carried out test runs and ... they managed to determine a person's location, speed, and direction (even through a one foot thick brick wall). The device could be used to spot intruders, monitor children or the elderly, and could even be used in military applications."
Social game developer Zynga has been on the receiving end of complaints in the past for releasing games that look a bit too much like games from indie developers, and for other shady business practices. Now, they've run afoul of somebody with sharper teeth. Today Electronic Arts and Maxis filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against Zynga claiming that The Ville is "blatant mimicry" of The Sims Social. "'This is a case of principle,' says EA Maxis general manager Lucy Bradshaw. 'Maxis isn't the first studio to claim that Zynga copied its creative product. But we are the studio that has the financial and corporate resources to stand up and do something about it. Infringing a developer's copyright is not an acceptable practice in game development.' In its complaint, EA argues that Zynga willfully and intentionally copied ideas from The Sims Social, the Facebook edition of the EA/Maxis franchise that released in August 2011. When Zynga released The Ville last June, consumers and the press immediately pointed out that the title resembled The Sims more than a little."
The Wall Street Journal reports that AT&T has plans to shut down its 2G network by January 1, 2017. Roughly 12% of its contact wireless customers — 8.4 million people — have 2G handsets, and the company plans to gradually move them to devices running on more modern networks. "The timeline for the 2G shutdown was made in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday. An AT&T spokesman said the company no longer sells 2G handsets to contract or prepaid customers. Along with phones, the company does have some other devices connected to its 2G networks, but it also expects that they will transition to more modern technology in coming years. As the carriers deal with ever increasing data usage on their networks, they also are facing a spectrum shortage to carry all the traffic. Shutting down legacy networks is one part of the plan, along with acquiring new spectrum and finding innovative ways to use unused airwaves."
schwit1 writes with news from London that Olympic venues are being patrolled by so-called "Wi-Fi police," who seek out and shut down unauthorized access points and hotspots. BT is the "official communications services provider" for the Games, so access points other than the ones they set up or approve have been disallowed. A picture tweeted from the Olympics shows a gentleman carrying a portable direction antenna that can localize sources of transmission and interference. "One possible aim of shutting down such WiFi access points is to cut down on interference with essential wireless communications being used by those refereeing, reporting on and working at the sporting events. ... The news of the WiFi crackdown has angered many of those following the Games online, who were already upset at Olympic authorities' attempts to limit the use of social networking tools at the Games at certain times. The London Olympics had been billed as the first 'social media Games,' but organizers have been accused of bungling the effort to seamlessly integrate popular technologies like Twitter and Facebook into the event."