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An anonymous reader sends this excerpt from MIT's Technology Review: A new feature being added to the LTE protocol that smartphones use to communicate with cellular towers will make it possible to bypass those towers altogether. Phones will be able to "talk" directly to other mobile devices and to beacons located in shops and other businesses. Known as LTE Direct, the wireless technology has a range of up to 500 meters, far more than either Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. It is included in update to the LTE standard slated for approval this year, and devices capable of LTE Direct could appear as soon as late 2015. ... Researchers are, for example, testing LTE Direct as a way to allow smartphones to automatically discover nearby people, businesses, and other information.
An anonymous reader writes Nokia must pay damages to consumers in Mexico who reported malfunctioning handsets, following a court ruling for a trial that has lasted four years. The case was brought to court by Mexican watchdog Profeco in 2010, before the Finnish manufacturer was acquired by Microsoft – that deal was only completed earlier this year. Profeco added that the court has ordered Nokia to either replace the faulty handsets and/or reimburse their cost. On top of that, Nokia must also pay compensation totaling at least 20 percent of the damages resulting from malfunctioning. Customers that had been affected by faulty Nokia equipment would be able to seek damages even if they had not yet presented complaints.
schwit1 writes Google is looking to exert more pressure on device OEMs that wish to continue using the Android mobile operating system. Among the new requirements for many partners: increasing the number of Google apps that must be pre-installed on the device to as many as 20, placing more Google apps on the home screen or in a prominent icon folder and making Google Search more prominent. Earlier this year, Google laid its vision to reduce fragmentation by forcing OEMs to ship new devices with more recent version of Android. Those OEMs that choose not to comply lose access to Google Mobile Services (GMS) apps like Gmail, Google Play, and YouTube.
The Atlantic is running an article about how "smart" devices are starting to see everyday use in many people's home. The authors say this will fundamentally change the concept of what it means to own and control your possessions. Using smartphones as an example, they extrapolate this out to a future where many household items are dependent on software. Quoting: These phones come with all kinds of restrictions on their possible physical capabilities. You may not take them apart. Depending on the plan, not all software can be downloaded onto them, not every device can be tethered to them, and not every cell phone network can be tapped. "Owning" a phone is much more complex than owning a plunger. And if the big tech players building the wearable future, the Internet of things, self-driving cars, and anything else that links physical stuff to the network get their way, our relationship to ownership is about to undergo a wild transformation. They also suggest that planned obsolescence will become much more common. For example, take watches: a quality dumbwatch can last decades, but a smartwatch will be obsolete in a few years.
An anonymous reader writes: In early 2013, Canonical showed the world Ubuntu Touch, a version of Ubuntu developed specifically for smartphones. Now, the mobile operating system has finally reached "release to manufacturing" status. (Here's the release announcement.) The first phone running Ubuntu Touch, the Meizu MX4, will start shipping in December. "Details are scarce on its hardware, but a leak from iGeek suggests the Pro variant may have a Samsung Exynos 5430 processor, 4GB of RAM, and a 2560x1536 resolution screen. ... This more powerful hardware is good news if true, and it bodes well for Ubuntu's vision of computing convergence." Softpedia has a preview of the RTM version of the OS. They say performance has improved significantly, even on old phones, and that the UI has been polished into a much better state.
New submitter jchevali writes: The BBC reports that mobile phone use on European flights is soon to be allowed. This follows official safety agency findings that their use on the aircraft really poses no risk. Details on the implementation and the timeline for changes will depend on each individual airline.
An anonymous reader writes: Over the past several days, we've been hearing reports about some amount of users noticing that their brand new iPhone 6 Plus is bending in their pockets. The pictures and videos shown so far have kicked off an investigation, and Consumer Reports has done one of the more scientific tests so far. They found that the iPhone 6 Plus takes 90 pounds of pressure before it permanently deforms. The normal iPhone 6 took even less: 70 lbs. They tested other phones as well: HTC One (M8): 70 lbs, LG G3: 130 lbs, iPhone 5: 130 lbs, Samsung Galaxy Note 3: 150 lbs. The Verge also did a report on how Apple torture-tests its devices before shipping them. Apple's standard is about 55 lbs of pressure, though it does so thousands of times before looking for bends. One analysis suggests that Apple's testing procedure only puts pressure on the middle of the phone, which doesn't sufficiently evaluate the weakened area where holes have been created for volume buttons. Consumer Reports' test presses on the middle of the device as well.
macs4all (973270) writes "I am an experienced C and Assembler Embedded Developer who is contemplating for the first time beginning an iOS App Project. Although I am well-versed in C, I have thus-far avoided C++, C# and Java, and have only briefly dabbled in Obj-C. Now that there are two possibilities for doing iOS Development, which would you suggest that I learn, at least at first? And is Swift even far-enough along to use as the basis for an entire app's development? My goal is the fastest and easiest way to market for this project; not to start a career as a mobile developer. Another thing that might influence the decision: If/when I decide to port my iOS App to Android (and/or Windows Phone), would either of the above be an easier port; or are, for example, Dalvick and the Android APIs different enough from Swift/Obj-C and CocoaTouch that any 'port' is essentially a re-write?"
An anonymous reader writes "BT Global Services is installing free Wi-Fi access points in Coca-Cola vending machines in rural parts of South Africa. "South African consumers will soon be able to quench their thirst and check their e-mail at the same time. Coca-Cola and BT Global Services have announced plans to offer free Wi-Fi Internet access in impoverished communities using Coke’s vending machines. BT – formerly British Telecom – will provide connectivity, support and business training as part of the roll-out. The pilot project has been launched in the rural Eastern Cape and in rural Mpumalanga. Sites were chosen for their accessibility to local communities, the companies said."
Zothecula writes There was an understandable amount of skepticism when Amazon announced its grand plans for delivery drones last year. But if the last twelve months are any indication, Jeff Bezos and his fellow tech heavyweights are actually kinda serious about the potential of unmanned aerial vehicles. Speaking at the Social Good Summit in New York on Monday, engineering director at Facebook Connectivity Lab, Yael Maguire, has further detailed the company's vision of internet-carrying drones, with plans to begin testing in 2015.
New submitter Andrewkov writes: BlackBerry released its new Passport phone today. It has a square 4.5" screen and a physical keyboard, and it's aimed at corporate users. The company hopes the larger size, Siri-like voice recognition, 30-hour battery life, and improved security will buoy its market share. Early reviews are not terribly favorable — the Wall Street Journal says BlackBerry is still behind on the software, and "The bulky, awkward design and the unfamiliar keyboard make it hard to justify finding space for it in a pocket or bag." The Verge said, "[T]he Passport got in the way of getting work done more than it helped." Re/code calls it a phone only a BlackBerry user will love.
MojoKid writes: Apple's iPhone 6 Plus weighs six ounces, and it's a scant 7.1mm thick. As an added bonus, according to a number of users, it has a hidden feature — it bends! And no, we don't mean it bends in a "Hey, what an awesome feature!" sort of way. More like a "Hey, the entire phone is near to snapping" kind of way. What's even more troubling is that many of the users who are reporting bent devices also claim that they were carrying it in front pockets or in a normal fashion as opposed to sitting on it directly. Either some of the iPhone 6 Plus hardware is defective (the vastly preferable option) or it's because the tests run by other venues are putting different kinds of stress on the chassis. It's not clear what the story is. Hopefully Apple will clarify it soon.
Threatpost reports: Heatmiser, a U.K.-based manufacturer of digital thermostats, is contacting its customers today about a series of security issues that could expose a Wi-Fi-connected version of its product to takeover. Andrew Tierney, a "reverse-engineer by night," whose specialty is digging up bugs in embedded systems wrote on his blog, that he initially read about vulnerabilities in another one of the company's products, NetMonitor, and decided to poke around its product line further. This led him to discover a slew of issues in the company's Wi-Fi-enabled thermostats running firmware version 1.2. The issues range from simple security missteps to critical oversights.For example, when users go to connect the thermostat via a Windows utility, it uses default web credentials and PINs. ...Elsewhere, the thermostat leaks Wi-Fi credentials, like its password, username, Service Set Identifier (SSID) and so on, when its logged in. Related: O'Reilly Radar has an interesting conversation about what companies will vie for control of the internet-of-things ecosystem.
jfruh writes: If Dell has a reputation in the PC market, it's as the company that got low-end PCs to customers cheaply. But after the great drama of founder Michael Dell taking the company private, the company is following a new path, adding higher-quality (and more expensive) products like the Venue 8 7000, the thinnest tablet on the market today, to its lineup. One analyst notes that "Because they are no longer reporting to Wall Street, they can be more competitive."
electronic convict writes: A year ago, security researcher Marc Rogers demonstrated how to spoof the TouchID sensor in the iPhone 5S using some Elmer's glue and glycerol — oh, and a high resolution camera and a laser printer. Has TouchID security improved at all on the iPhone 6? Not really, Rogers reports in his latest post, in which he again hacks the iPhone 6's TouchID sensors using the same method as before. "Fake fingerprints created using my previous technique were able to readily fool both devices [the 6 and the 5S]," he reports. Rogers, however, says there's no reason to panic, as the attack requires substantial skill, patience and a good clear fingerprint. As he writes: "We use locks on our doors to keep criminals out not because they are perfect, but because they are both convenient and effective enough to meet most traditional threats."
Velcroman1 writes Bigger is better. No, wait, bigger is worse. Well, which is it? Apple's newly supersized 4.7-inch iPhone 6 and the jumbo, 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus are a marked departure for the company, which has clung to the same, small screen size for years. It has gone so far as to publicly deride larger phones from competitors, notably Samsung, even as their sales grew to record highs. Tech reviewers over the years have tended to side with Apple, in general saddling reviews of the Samsung Galaxy Note – a 5.3-inch device that kicked off the phablet push in 2012 – with asides about how big the darn thing was. Are tech reviewers being fair when they review the iPhone 6 Plus? Here's what some of them said today, compared with how they reviewed earlier phablets and big phones from the competition.
ourlovecanlastforeve writes: While reviewing a recent comparison of the Nexus 5 and the iPhone 6, OSNews staffer Thom Holwerda raises some relevant points regarding the importance of specs on newer smartphones. He observes that the iPhone 6, which is brand new, and the Nexus 5 launch apps at about the same speed. Yes, they're completely different platforms and yes, it's true it's probably not even a legitimate comparison, but it does raise a point: Most people who use smartphones on a daily basis use them for pretty basic things such as checking email, casual web browsing, navigation and reminders. Those who use their phones to their maximum capacity for things like gaming are a staunch minority. Do smartphone specs even matter for the average smartphone user anymore? After everyone releases the biggest phone people can reasonably hold in their hand with a processor and GPU that can move images on the display as optimally as possible, how many other moons are there to shoot for?
An anonymous reader writes Apple has announced that it sold over 10 million new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus models, just three days after the launch on September 19. From the article: "Chief Executive Tim Cook said the company could have sold even more iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus models if supplies had been available. Analysts had estimated first-weekend sales of up to 10 million iPhones, after Apple booked record pre-orders of 4 million on Sept. 12, the day pre-orders opened."
HizookRobotics writes Georgia Tech researchers announced a new way robots can "sense" their surroundings through the use of small ultra-high frequency radio-frequency identification (UHF RFID) tags. Inexpensive self-adhesive tags can be stuck on objects, allowing an RFID-equipped robot to search a room for the correct tag's signal, even when the object is hidden out of sight. Once the tag is detected, the robot knows the object it's trying to find isn't far away. The researchers' methods, summarized over at IEEE: "The robot goes to the spot where it got the hottest signal from the tag it was looking for, zeroing in on it based on the signal strength that its shoulder antennas are picking up: if the right antenna is getting a stronger signal, the robot yaws right, and vice versa."
Nerval's Lobster writes Placing your iPhone in the microwave will destroy the phone, and possibly the microwave. While that might seem obvious to some people, others have fallen for the "Wave" hoax making its way around online. The fake advertisement insists that the new iOS 8 allows users to charge their iPhones by placing them in a "household microwave for a minute and a half." Microwave energy will not charge your smartphone. To the contrary, it will scorch the device and render it inoperable. If you nuke your smartphone and subsequently complain about it online, people will probably make fun of you. (If you want a full list of things not to place in a microwave, no matter how pretty the flames, check this out.)