An anonymous reader writes "Joel Runyon recounts a tale that will be familiar to many people who have bought secondhand smartphones. After his old dumbphone died a few months ago, Runyon picked up a used iPhone. He just needed it for basic phone capabilities, and used it as such, turning data off. However, AT&T eventually figured out he was making calls from a smartphone, and they decided he needed a data plan, even if he wasn't going to use it. They went ahead and opted him into a plan that cost an extra $30 a month. Quoting: 'According to AT&T: They can opt me into a contract that I didn't agree to because I was using a phone that I didn't buy from them because it had the ability to use data that I wasn't using (and was turned off). To top it all off, they got the privilege of charging me for it because I bought a differently categorized device – even though the actual usage of their network did not change at all and I never reconstituted a new agreement with them.'"
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coondoggie writes "When it comes to relatively new technologies, few have been developing at the relentless pace of mobile. But with that development has come a serious threat to the security of personal information and privacy. The Federal Trade Commission has issued a report (PDF) on mobility issues and said less than one-third of Americans feel they are in control of their personal information on their mobile devices. 'The report makes recommendations for critical players in the mobile marketplace: mobile platforms (operating system providers, such as Amazon, Apple, BlackBerry, Google, and Microsoft), application (app) developers, advertising networks and analytics companies, and app developer trade associations. ... The report recommends that mobile platforms should: Provide just-in-time disclosures to consumers and obtain their affirmative express consent before allowing apps to access sensitive content like geolocation; Consider developing a one-stop “dashboard” approach to allow consumers to review the types of content accessed by the apps they have downloaded; Consider offering a Do Not Track (DNT) mechanism for smartphone users.'"
Nerval's Lobster writes "To give the Mars Rover Curiosity the brains she needs to operate took 5 million lines of code. And while the Mars Science Laboratory team froze the code a year before the roaming laboratory landed on August 5, they kept sending software updates to the spacecraft during its 253-day, 352 million-mile flight. In its belly, Curiosity has two computers, a primary and a backup. Fun fact: Apple's iPhone 5 has more processing power than this one-eyed explorer. 'You're carrying more processing power in your pocket than Curiosity,' Ben Cichy, chief flight software engineer, told an audience at this year's MacWorld."
silverpig writes "It now appears that graphene has reached a point worthy of serious, direct industrial attention. The grant money itself comes from the European Union for the Future and Emerging Technologies (FET), but the work will be done by a large non-governmental company with eyes on developing useful real-world applications. Smartphones contain many components with high potential for making use of graphene. From the article: 'Nokia is leading the electronic firms within the Graphene Flagship Consortium, which includes 73 other companies and academic institutions from a number of mediums. The Finnish handset manufacturer has received a grant of $1.35 billion to research and develop graphene for practical applications, with the European Union for the Future and Emerging Technologies (FET) providing the grant itself.'"
itwbennett writes "Here's a bright spot in Beijing's off-the-chart bad air pollution: The market for mobile apps that monitor air quality is thriving. 'When the pollution went beyond the air quality index, all the social networks in China and media began paying attention to the problem,' said Wang Jun, one of the developers of the China Air Pollution Index app. 'This caused the downloads to increase 30 times.'" Obviously a Spaceballs fan, a Chinese man is even selling fresh air in cans.
Nerval's Lobster writes "The company formerly known as Research In Motion—which decided to cut right to the proverbial chase and rename itself 'BlackBerry'—launched its much-anticipated BlackBerry 10 operating system at a high-profile event in New York City Jan. 30. Meanwhile, Microsoft is still dumping tons of money and effort into Windows Phone. But can either smartphone OS — or another player, for that matter — successfully challenge Apple iOS and Google Android, which one research firm estimated as running on 92 percent of smartphones shipped in the fourth quarter of 2012? What would it take for any company to launch that sort of successful effort?"
An anonymous reader writes "Ok, so the idea of opening all Wi-Fi networks in a misthought utopian vision didn't go over so well. But no one discussed the best part of open Wi-Fi networks: bonding different Wi-Fi and mobile carriers to get the best price and decent performance. We could save money and avoid lock in by bouncing to whoever gives us the best rate, and, when we need speed, jump on all of them at once for a network bonded boost."
Zordak writes "Micron has recently landed U.S. Patent 8,352,745, which claims priority back to a February 2000 application---well before Apple's 2004 slide-to-unlock application. While claim construction is a highly technical art, the claims here are (for once) almost as broad as they sound, and may cover the bulk of touch screen smart phones on the market today. Dennis Crouch's Patently-O has a discussion."
judgecorp writes "Yesterday's BlackBerry 10 announcement did not mention the company's tablet, the Playbook, but users will be relieved to know it will get an update to BlackBerry 10. It's not a huge surprise, since BB10 is based on the PlayBook's QNX operating system, but PlayBook users may have been worried since the company did not even mention the struggling tablet in passing at the event." Hopefully the Playbook's camera is better than the one in the new BB10-based Z10 phone, the low-light performance of which Gizmodo describes as "four-years-ago crap."
itwbennett writes "Now that the ridiculous phone unlocking law is a done deal, and we all understand exactly what that means (i.e., 'fines of up to $500,000 and imprisonment of up to five years'), you might be left wondering what can you do about it. Well, you could start by lending your John Hancock to this petition at the White House's 'We The People' platform. It's already over halfway to the number of signatures required to get a response from the executive branch."
pigrabbitbear writes "We are strangely territorial when it comes to our wireless networks. The idea of someone siphoning off our precious bandwidth without paying for it is, for most people, completely unacceptable. But the Open Wireless Movement wants to change all that. 'We are trying to create a movement where people are willing to share their network for the common good,' says Adi Kamdar, an activist with the Electronic Frontier Foundation. 'It's a neighborly thing to do.' That's right, upstanding citizen of the Internet, you can be a good neighbor just by opening your wireless network to strangers — or so the line goes. The ultimate vision is one of neighborhoods completely void of passwords, where any passerby can quickly jump on your network and use Google Maps to find directions or check their email or do whatever they want to do (or, whatever you decide they can do)."
Nerval's Lobster writes "Research In Motion has whipped the curtain back from BlackBerry 10. The revamped operating system is widely perceived as RIM's best chance at staying relevant in a smartphone market dominated by Google Android and Apple's iOS. Once a significant player in mobility, RIM watched its earnings and market-share crumble over the past few years. BlackBerry 10 abandons the longtime BlackBerry user interface, centered on grids of icons, in favor of one built on the same QNX technology that powers RIM's PlayBook tablet. The BlackBerry 10 home-screen offers 'live tiles' that dynamically refresh with updated information, and RIM is playing up how users can move between apps and alerts by swiping and flicking the screen. Other features include BlackBerry Balance, which divides the 'personal' and 'corporate' sides of the phone, as well as an updated BlackBerry Messenger. More details in the article." RIM also announced they are rebranding themselves as BlackBerry. If you like pictures, omfglearntoplay sent in an article that delivers. Gimmicks of the launch include hiring Alicia Keys as their "Global Creative Director."
An anonymous reader writes "From the LA Times: 'Although Microsoft's 128 GB Surface Pro tablet is advertised as having 128 gigabytes of storage, the amount of space available to users is much less than that. That's also true for the 64 GB model. The Redmond, Wash., company confirmed Tuesday that the 128 GB Surface Pro has 83 GB of free storage, while the 64 GB version comes with 23 GB of open space. The reason for the difference: space already taken up by the tablet's Windows 8 Pro operating system and various preinstalled apps.' It's generally understood that your device won't have as much available storage as advertised, but it's usually a lot closer than this. Should device-makers be required to advertise how much storage is available to users, rather than the size of the storage media?"
adeelarshad82 writes "With the BlackBerry 10 launch just around the corner, there is a lot of pressure on RIM's CEO to provide a 'Steve Jobs Moment.' However, given BlackBerry's 1.1% percent market share compared to the combined 92% share between rivals Android and iOS, it's a long road back. To add to the struggle, no other first-generation smartphone leader has been able to pull off this kind of rebirth. Palm and Symbian are dead and Microsoft is struggling. But, as one mobile analyst explains, RIM has a chance to carve out its own market with tomorrow's launch of BlackBerry 10 given that they get a few things right. They need to heavily promote their devices to CEOs, heavily promote the top apps to users, and most of all, they need to be able to explain why people should give it a look."
noh8rz10 writes "Holy moly! iPad gets a heavyweight sibling, clicking in at 128GB. This places it in range of storage for Surface Pro and ultrabooks. It's clearly targeted at the professional market, as the press release cites X-rays and CAD files as reasons. Should Microsoft be afraid? Methinks so. Best part, pricing is growing by log 2. Just as the 32GB version is $100 more than the 16, and the 64 is $100 more than the 32, this new version is $100 more than the 64!" Update: 01/29 16:00 GMT by T : Here's Apple's announcement itself.