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FAA's Ruling On Smartphones During Takeoff Has Had Little Impact

Soulskill posted about 4 months ago | from the or-we're-just-used-to-hiding-it dept.

Cellphones 128

colinneagle writes: Airlines have seen almost no increase in the use of smartphones, tablets, and laptops among passengers since the Federal Aviation Administration ruled in October that they are now allowed to do so during takeoff and landing, a recent study found. Over a four month period observed by DePaul University's Chaddick Institute for Metropolitan Development this year, 35.9% of passengers used mobile devices at any point during the flight. In last year's study, while flight attendants still patrolled the aisles for devices that hadn't been shut off, 35.3% of passengers used devices during flight. Chaddick Institute director Joseph Schwieterman said many people may not be interested in using their mobile devices in-flight, and are simply excited for an opportunity to "use the time to sleep and chill out." Another contributing factor is the stipulation to the FAA's rule that still bans the use of smartphones for making phone calls or send text messages, the report noted. That may change soon, however. The FAA recently received public comment on a proposal to lift its ban on in-flight cellphone communications service, which has been in place since 1991.

Project Tango is Giving Mobile Devices a Sense of Space and Motion (Video)

Roblimo posted about 4 months ago | from the my-smart-phone-is-already-smarter-than-most-people dept.

Handhelds 16

Project Tango is part of Google's Advanced Technology and Projects group (ATAP), which Wikipedia says was "...formerly a division of Motorola." Tango's goal is "to give mobile devices a human-scale understanding of space and motion." We humans and our forebears have spent millions of years learning to sense our surroundings, not as a set of static 2D images, but in 3D with motion. This YouTube video starring Johnny Lee, the Tango project lead Tim interviewed at Google I/O 2014, gives you some decent insight into Project Tango's goals -- in addition to our video, that is. (Alternate Slashdot Video Link)

Ask Slashdot: Replacing Paper With Tablets For Design Meetings?

Unknown Lamer posted about 4 months ago | from the where's-the-messagepad-now dept.

Portables 143

New submitter faderrider (3726665) writes I work in the healthcare design industry and our firm is looking to get away from using paper during our design meetings. My first thought was to load our reports and plans on a tablet, bring a half dozen or so tablets for attendees and somehow create a local ad hoc network that would allow them to view my desktop. A little more thinking brought me to consider the value of attendees being able to mark up documents on their own, or take control of what is being viewed to talk through ideas. Is anyone else out there doing something like this and if so what are you implementing? Specifically the challenges i see are creating the local network, establishing share/control relationships between tablets and managing any documentation markups attendees may make during the meeting. I am also looking at the Samsung 10.1 as the hardware but would be interested in any recommendations. I can also provide, most of the time, web access via my phone but would prefer not to rely on a service like WebEx or JoinMe.

FTC Says T-Mobile Made Hundreds of Millions From Bogus SMS Charges

Soulskill posted about 4 months ago | from the joke-of-the-day-only-$7.95 dept.

Communications 110

An anonymous reader writes "Today the FTC filed a complaint (PDF) against T-Mobile USA, alleging the carrier made hundreds of millions of dollars from bogus charges placed on customers' bills for unauthorized SMS services. "The FTC alleges that T-Mobile received anywhere from 35 to 40 percent of the total amount charged to consumers for subscriptions for content such as flirting tips, horoscope information or celebrity gossip that typically cost $9.99 per month. According to the FTC's complaint, T-Mobile in some cases continued to bill its customers for these services offered by scammers years after becoming aware of signs that the charges were fraudulent." FTC chairwoman Edith Ramirez said, "It's wrong for a company like T-Mobile to profit from scams against its customers when there were clear warning signs the charges it was imposing were fraudulent. It's wrong for a company like T-Mobile to profit from scams against its customers when there were clear warning signs the charges it was imposing were fraudulent." According to the complaint, T-Mobile also made it hard for customers to figure out they were being billed for these services, and failed to provide refunds when customers complained." Here's T-Mobile's response.

Disappointed Woz Sells His "Worthless" Galaxy Gear Watch

timothy posted about 4 months ago | from the get-that-man-a-tricorder dept.

Handhelds 242

curtwoodward (2147628) writes Apple co-founder and legendary nerd Steve Wozniak is a huge gadget enthusiast, often appearing in lines with mere mortals to purchase new Apple products. So you can bet he's tried out most of the smartwatches on the market today. The worst one? By far, the Samsung Galaxy Gear, which The Woz says he sold on eBay after half a day's use. "It was so worthless and did so little that was convenient," Wozniak said at an appearance in Milwaukee. "You had to hold it up to your ear and stuff." So maybe the watch sucked, but just imagine being the one who bought Woz's used Gear---do you think they know?

Improv Project, Vivaldi Tablet Officially Dead

timothy posted about 4 months ago | from the sad-news dept.

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sfcrazy (1542989) writes "It's a sad day for free software as one of the most ambitious free software projects, Improv, is officially dead. Along with the board also dies the promising Vivaldi tablet [video intro]. The developers have sent out emails to the backers of the project that they are pulling plugs on these. The end of the Improv project also means a disappointing end to the KDE Tablet project, as Aaron Seigo was funding both projects out of his own pocket (almost exactly $200,000 spent)."

Ars Takes an Early Look At the Privacy-Centric Blackphone

timothy posted about 4 months ago | from the all-voice-calls-should-be-encrypted dept.

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Ars Technica has spent some time with pre-production (but very nearly final) samples of the Blackphone, from Geeksphone and Silent Circle. They give it generally high marks; the hardware is mostly solid but not cutting edge, but the software it comes with distinguishes it from run-of-the-mill Android phones. Though it's based on Android, the PrivOS system in these phone offers fine grained permissions, and other software included with the phone makes it more secure both if someone has physical access to the phone (by encrypting files, among other things) and if communications between this phone and another are being eavesdropped on. A small taste: At first start up, Blackphone’s configuration wizard walks through getting the phone configured and secured. After picking a language and setting a password or PIN to unlock the phone itself, the wizard presents the option of encrypting the phone’s stored data with another password. If you decline to encrypt the phone’s mini-SD storage during setup, you’ll get the opportunity later (and in the release candidate version of the PrivOS we used, the phone continued to remind me about that opportunity each time I logged into it until I did). PrivOS’ main innovation is its Security Center, an interface that allows the user to explicitly control just what bits of hardware functionality and data each application on the phone has access to. It even provides control over the system-level applications—you can, if you wish for some reason, turn off the Camera app’s access to the camera hardware and turn off the Browser app’s access to networks.

Overkill? LG Phone Has 2560x1440 Display, Laser Focusing

timothy posted about 4 months ago | from the too-much-overkill-is-never-enough dept.

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MojoKid (1002251) writes LG is probably getting a little tired of scraping for brand recognition versus big names like Samsung, Apple and Google. However, the company is also taking solace in the fact that their smartphone sales figures are heading for an all-time high in 2014, with an estimated 60 million units projected to be sold this year. LG's third iteration of their popular "G" line of flagship smartphones, simply dubbed the LG G3, is the culmination of all of the innovation the company has developed in previous devices to date, including its signature rear button layout, and a cutting-edge 5.5-inch QHD display that drives a resolution of 2560X1440 with a pixel density of 538 PPI. Not satisified with pixel overload, LG decide to equip their new smartphone with 'frickin' laser beams' to assist its 13MP camera in targeting subjects for auto-focus. The G3 performs well in the benchmarks with a Snapdragon 801 on board and no doubt its camera takes some great shots quickly and easily. However, it's questionable how much of that super high res 2560 display you can make use of on a 5.5-inch device.

On the Significance of Google's New Cardboard: An Idea Worth Recycling

timothy posted about 4 months ago | from the off-the-shelf dept.

Cellphones 42

Last week at Google I/O, the company introduced Cardboard, its cheap-and-cheerful (it's made of cardboard, after all) approach to nearly instant VR viewing. It's no Oculus Rift — lacking the Rift's connection to a powerful backend PC, it can't do the same heavy lifting. In fact, it looks sort of like a prank, and the announcement at I/O that everyone at the conference would be getting "a piece of cardboard" drew a lot of chuckles. Gigaom argues that it's nonetheless extremely valuable, because it makes immersive viewing easy and cheap for anyone with a fairly capable smartphone — a pretty satisfying experience in itself, and a good taste of what even higher-end viewers can bring. "In addition to the Cardboard app," writes an anonymous reader, "Google has pushed out an updated version of Google Maps which includes a VR mode for Street View." And if you weren't blessed with an I/O pass, and aren't sure about your skills cutting one out of a pizza box, note that you can buy a kit for about $25, including the RF tag that will tell a phone to fire up the Cardboard app. (The linked article says an aluminum version is in the works from at least one company; I'd like to see one in corrugated plastic — strong but light — and with connection points for a headstrap.) If you've made something similar (or would like to), what would you improve in the design or feature set? (Look soon for a video introduction to Cardboard with Google VP Clay Bavor, too.)

KeyStore Vulnerability Affects 86% of Android Devices

timothy posted about 4 months ago | from the that's-a-lot dept.

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jones_supa (887896) writes "IBM security researchers have published an advisory about an Android vulnerability that may allow attackers to obtain highly sensitive credentials, such as cryptographic keys for some banking services and virtual private networks, and PINs or patterns used to unlock vulnerable devices. It is estimated that the flaw affects 86 percent of Android devices. Android KeyStore has a little bug where the encode_key() routine that is called by encode_key_for_uid() can overflow the filename text buffer, because bounds checking is absent. The advisory says that Google has patched only version 4.4 of Android. There are several technical hurdles an attacker must overcome to successfully perform a stack overflow on Android, as these systems are fortified with modern NX and ASLR protections. The vulnerability is still considered to be serious, as it resides in one of the most sensitive resources of the operating system."

Ask Slashdot: SIM-Card Solutions In North America?

timothy posted about 4 months ago | from the not-our-strong-suit dept.

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An anonymous reader writes I'll be returning to North America for July for the first time in a few years, and I'm curious how the phone carrier market compares with the rest of the world. My last time in the U.S., I had to pick up a disposable phone with all kinds of unnecessary environmental waste (charger, packaging, etc.), and *still* had to register it with another domestic (!) phone number and credit card. I don't think I could get a SIM card there without a contract. Anywhere else I travel, picking up a new SIM card with pre-loaded credit is trivially easy. In my last trip to the UK, I just put GBP 10 into a vending machine at the airport and picked up a loaded SIM card for my phone which aldready has my contacts and settings. No ID, no name, no hassle. What are the best options for me in North America (U.S. *and* Canada)?

Saudi Government Targeting Dissidents With Mobile Malware

timothy posted about 4 months ago | from the they-don't-go-in-for-a-slap-on-the-wrist dept.

Government 41

wiredmikey (1824622) writes Human Rights Watch on Friday demanded a clarification from Saudi Arabia over allegations from security researchers that the kingdom is infecting and monitoring dissidents' mobile phones with surveillance malware. The New York-based rights watchdog said surveillance software allegedly made by Italian firm Hacking Team mostly targeted individuals in Qatif district in Eastern Province, which has been the site of sporadic Shiite-led protests since February 2011. "We have documented how Saudi authorities routinely crack down on online activists who have embraced social media to call out human rights abuses," said Cynthia Wong, HRW's senior Internet researcher. "It seems that authorities may now be hacking into mobile phones, turning digital tools into just another way for the government to intimidate and silence independent voices." The accusations against the Saudi Government come days after researchers from Kaspersky Lab and Citizen Lab uncovered new details on advanced surveillance tools offered by HackingTeam [Note: mentioned in this earlier Slashdot story], including never before seen implants for smartphones running on iOS and Android.

What To Do If Police Try To Search Your Phone Without a Warrant

Soulskill posted about 4 months ago | from the swallow-your-phone-when-they-approach-your-car dept.

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blottsie writes: The Supreme Court ruled this week that it is illegal for police to search your phone without a warrant. But just because that's the new rule doesn't mean all 7.5 million law enforcement officers in the U.S. will abide by it. This guide, put together with the help of the EFF and ACLU, explains what to do if a police officer tries to search your phone without a warrant. Of course, that doesn't mean they don't have other ways of getting your data.

Google Demos Modular Phone That (Almost) Actually Works

samzenpus posted about 4 months ago | from the if-youd-like-to-make-a-call-please-wait dept.

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An anonymous reader writes Google's Advanced Technology and Projects (ATAP) group demonstrated Tango, a tablet with 3D cameras similar to Microsoft's Kinect and a version of the Ara phone that could almost boot to the Android home screen (it froze during the demo) at Google I/O today. Project Ara will give $100,000 to anyone who can create an Ara module that does something current smartphones can't. From the article: "Ara moved from concept render to physical mockup in about six months, and onstage today Google demonstrated a version of the phone that could just about boot to the Android home screen. In the demo above, the phone displayed a partial boot screen before freezing. The full boot time (had the demo worked as intended) would be about a minute, which would be a long time for a shipping phone but is reasonably impressive for such an early prototype. Software is the other thing that Ara's developers need to figure out. Current Android builds ship with support for the hardware the phone runs, but they don't include a whole bunch of extraneous drivers for other modems or Wi-Fi modules or cameras or SoCs. Current phone hardware doesn't change, so Android doesn't typically need to worry about this kind of thing."

Funding for iFind Kickstarter Suspended

Unknown Lamer posted about 4 months ago | from the didn't-see-that-one-coming dept.

Wireless Networking 104

An anonymous reader writes As of approximately 9AM PDT, funding for the iFind project at Kickstarter, the one with the bluetooth tags that have no battery and that harvest energy from WiFi and other radio sources, has been suspended. No word yet on how this came about. Not an unexpected outcome since their claims of harvesting enough energy for a Bluetooth beacon from ambient wireless signals looked pretty far-fetched.

Supreme Court Rules Cell Phones Can't Be Searched Without a Warrant

Unknown Lamer posted about 4 months ago | from the sanity-outbreak dept.

The Courts 249

New submitter CarlThansk (3713681) writes The courts have long debated on if cell phones can be searched during an arrest without a warrant. Today, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the police need warrants to search the cellphones of people they arrest. "Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., writing for the court, said the vast amount of data contained on modern cellphones must be protected (PDF) from routine inspection." Phones may still be searched under limited circumstances (imminent threats), but this looks like a clear win for privacy. Quoting the decision: "We cannot deny that our decision today will have an impact on the ability of law enforcement to combat crime. Cell phones have become important tools in facilitating coordination and communication among members of criminal enterprises, and can provide valuable incriminating information about dangerous criminals. Privacy comes at a cost."

San Francisco Bans Parking Spot Auctioning App

Soulskill posted about 4 months ago | from the no-tech-for-you dept.

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A couple months ago, we discussed a new phone app being used in San Francisco to auction off parking spaces to the highest bidder. The city has now ordered the app makers to cease and desist, and threatened motorists with a $300 fine for each transaction. City Attorney Dennis Herrera said, Technology has given rise to many laudable innovations in how we live and work -- and Monkey Parking is not one of them. It's illegal, it puts drivers on the hook for $300 fines, and it creates a predatory private market for public parking spaces that San Franciscans will not tolerate. Worst of all, it encourages drivers to use their mobile devices unsafely — to engage in online bidding wars while driving. People are free to rent out their own private driveways and garage spaces should they choose to do so. But we will not abide businesses that hold hostage on-street public parking spots for their own private profit.

First Phone Out of Microsoft-Nokia -- and It's an Android

timothy posted about 4 months ago | from the glorious-or-inglorious? dept.

Microsoft 193

An anonymous reader writes BBC reports that the first phone resulting from the Microsoft-Nokia merger has been announced: the Nokia X2. And foiling everybody's ability to guess what OS it would run on, the answer is Android. But this being Microsoft, do expect some embrace-and-extend — the user interface is similar to the Windows phone. And it is being offered as a way to hook users into its cloud-based services, several of which come pre-installed as apps. Is this the first Linux product being offered by Microsoft? Can we upgrade Microsoft's social rating from CCC to CCC+?

Florida Man Faces $48k Fine For Jamming Drivers' Cellphones

timothy posted about 4 months ago | from the carl-hiaasen-on-high-alert dept.

Cellphones 358

An anonymous reader writes with this news from The Independent: An American driver is facing a $48,000 fine after using a mobile signal jammer in his car to block motorists around him from using their phones on the road. Jason Humphreys reportedly used the jammer from the back seat of his Toyota Highlander for around two years before being caught by Florida police. The 60-year-old said that he used the jammer – which transmits radio signals that interfere with mobile phones – because he was 'fed up' with watching others use their phones on the road. A story from late April (before the fine was levied) gives more detail: The case along I-4 started on April 29, 2013, when the cellular company Metro PCS contacted the Federal Communications Commission because a transmission tower along I-4 would suffer in the morning and evening. A week later, agents from the FCC's enforcement division in Tampa staked out the freeway on May 7, 8, and 9 and pinpointed a “strong wideband emission” in the cellphone wireless range “emanating from a blue Toyota Highlander sport utility vehicle,” with Florida license plates, according to a complaint issued by the FCC on Tuesday. Another clue: When Hillsborough County Sheriffs deputies stopped the SUV, their own two-way radios were jammed."

$500k "Energy-Harvesting" Kickstarter Scam Unfolding Right Now

Unknown Lamer posted about 4 months ago | from the stolen-goa'uld-technology dept.

Wireless Networking 448

New submitter FryingLizard (512858) writes For a while I've been following the saga of the Kickstarter "iFind" Bluetooth 4.0 tracking tag. Nothing new about such tags (there are many crowdfunded examples; some have delivered, some have disappointed), but this one claims it doesn't require any batteries — it harvests its energy from electromagnetic emissions (wifi, cell towers, TV signals, etc). The creators have posted no evidence other than some slick Photoshop work, an obviously faked video, some easily disproven data, and classic bad science. So far they've picked up half a million in pledges. With six days to go until they walk off with the money, skeptics abound (10min in) including some excellent dissections of their claims. The creators have yet to post even a single photo of the magical device, instead posting empty platitudes and claims that such secrecy is necessary to protect their IP.

Using just their published figures, their claims are readily refuted, yet still backers flock in. Kickstarter appear uninterested in what can only be described as a slow-motion bank robbery, despite their basic requirement to demonstrate a prototype. It seems self-evident that such scams should not be allowed to propagate on Kickstarter, for the good of other genuine projects and the community at large. Skeptics are maintaining a Google Doc with many of the highlights of the action. Bring your own popcorn and enjoy the show."

Microsoft Wants You To Trade Your MacBook Air In For a Surface Pro 3

samzenpus posted about 4 months ago | from the try-ours-instead dept.

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mpicpp writes with news about a new Microsoft trade-in program to encourage sales of the new Surface Pro 3. Microsoft is offering a limited time Surface Pro 3 promotion via which users can get up to $650 in store credit for trading in certain Apple MacBook Air models. The new promotion, running June 20 to July 31, 2014 -- "or while supplies last" -- requires users to bring MacBook Airs into select Microsoft retail stores in the U.S., Puerto Rico and Canada. (The trade-in isn't valid online.)...To get the maximum ($650) value, users have to apply the store credit toward the purchase of a Surface Pro 3, the most recent model of the company's Intel-based Surface tablets.

EFF To Unveil Open Wireless Router For Open Wireless Movement

samzenpus posted about 4 months ago | from the router-to-the-people dept.

Open Source 184

hypnosec writes A new movement dubbed the Open Wireless Movement is asking users to open up their private Wi-Fi networks to total strangers – a random act of kindness – with an aim of better securing networks and facilitating better use of finite broadband resources. The movement is supported by non-profit and pro-internet rights organizations like the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), Mozilla, Open Rights Group, and Free Press among others. The EFF is planning to unveil one such innovation – Open Wireless Router – at the Hackers on Planet Earth (HOPE X) conference to be held next month on New York. This firmware will allow individuals to share their private Wi-Fi to total strangers to anyone without a password.

BlackBerry Back In Profit

Soulskill posted about 4 months ago | from the bouncing-back dept.

Blackberry 67

An anonymous reader sends word that BlackBerry, hit hard over the past several years by the emergence of smart phones, has come back to profitability. BlackBerry has been fighting an uphill battle to stay relevant in the world of mobile devices. It has lost market share to Apple, companies like Samsung that offer gadgets running on Google's Android operating system, and Microsoft. But John Chen, who took over as CEO in November, has injected new life to the company. Chen, who says BlackBerry is getting close to breaking even on its hardware business, has steered the company's focus more towards software. He's made several product announcements that Wall Street has cheered. Last month, the company launched its Project Ion, an initiative to develop more connected devices ... a trend dubbed the Internet of Things. On Wednesday, BlackBerry reached a deal with Amazon that will let users of BlackBerry's newest operating system access Android apps in Amazon's appstore later this fall.

Chinese Vendor Could Pay $34.9M FCC Fine In Signal-Jammer Sting

samzenpus posted about 4 months ago | from the jam-cracker dept.

United States 188

alphadogg writes A Chinese electronics vendor accused of selling signal jammers to U.S. consumers could end up leading the market in one dubious measure: the largest fine ever imposed by the Federal Communications Commission. The agency wants to fine CTS Technology $34,912,500 for allegedly marketing 285 models of jammers over more than two years. CTS boldly—and falsely—claimed that some of its jammers were approved by the FCC, according to the agency's enforcement action released Thursday. Conveniently, CTS' product detail pages also include a button to "report suspicious activity." The proposed fine, which would be bigger than any the FCC has levied for anti-competitive behavior, or a wardrobe malfunction, comes from adding up the maximum fines for each model of jammer the company allegedly sold in the U.S. The agency also ordered CTS, based in Shenzhen, China, to stop marketing illegal jammers to U.S. consumers and identify the buyer of each jammer it sold in the U.S.

Malware Posing As Official Google Play Store Evades Most Security Checks

timothy posted about 4 months ago | from the ok-ok-using-ios-doesn't-count dept.

Android 100

DavidGilbert99 (2607235) writes Mobile malware on Android is nothing new, but now security company FireEye has discovered in the Google Play store a sophisticated piece of malware which is posing as....the official Google Play store. Using the same icon but a different name, the malware is not being detected by the vast majority of security vendors, is difficult to uninstall and steals your messages, security certificates and banking details.

Google and Microsoft Plan Kill Switches On Smartphones

timothy posted about 4 months ago | from the ok-but-do-you-want-this-in-syria-or-china dept.

Cellphones 137

itwbennett (1594911) writes "Responding to more than a year of pressure, Google and Microsoft will follow Apple in adding an anti-theft "kill switch" to their smartphone operating systems. In New York, iPhone theft was down 19 percent in the first five months of this year. Over the same period, thefts of Samsung devices — which did not include a kill switch until one was introduced on Verizon-only models in April — rose by over 40 percent. In San Francisco, robberies of iPhones were 38 percent lower in the six months after the iOS 7 introduction versus the six months before, while in London thefts over the same period were down by 24 percent. In both cities, robberies of Samsung devices increased. 'These statistics validate what we always knew to be true, that a technological solution has the potential to end the victimization of wireless consumers everywhere,' said San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon."

'Selfie' Helps Doctors Diagnose Mini-Stroke

timothy posted about 4 months ago | from the socially-redeeming-value dept.

Medicine 47

OakDragon (885217) writes A Toronto woman had the presence of mind to record herself, using her smartphone, as she suffered from a bout of semi-paralysis. She had suffered the same symptoms two days earlier, and had gone to the hospital; but by that time the condition had passed, and doctors sent her home. However, using the smartphone video, doctors later diagnosed her with a transient ischemic attack, or mini-stroke. The diagnosis was confirmed with an MRI.

Amazon Announces 'Fire Phone'

Soulskill posted about 4 months ago | from the not-actually-made-from-fire dept.

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Amazon has unveiled the Fire Phone. It runs a modified version of Android, and it will launch exclusively for AT&T's network. The screen is a 4.7" IPS LCD (they tested from 4.3" to 5.5", and decided 4.7" worked best for single-hand use), with an emphasis on brightness. It runs on a quad-core 2.2GHz processor with 2GB of RAM, and an Adreno 330 GPU. It has a rear-facing, 13-megapixel camera using an f/2.0 five-element lens with image stabilization. There's a dedicated physical button on the side of the phone that will turn it on and put it into camera mode when pressed. The phone comes with dual stereo speakers that produce virtual surround sound. Amazon wants the phone to be distinctive for its ability to provide video content, both from a hardware and software perspective.

The Fire Phone runs Mayday, Amazon's live tech support service for devices. They also demonstrated Firefly, software that recognizes physical objects using the phone's camera, as well as TV shows and songs it hears. It runs quickly, often identifying things in less than a second (and it pulls up an Amazon product listing, of course). It can even recognize art. Firefly has its own dedicated physical button on the phone, and Amazon is providing a Firefly SDK to third parties who want to develop with it. Another major feature of the Fire Phone is what Amazon calls "dynamic perspective." Using multiple front-facing cameras, the phone tracks the position of a user's head, and uses that to slightly adjust what's displayed on the screen so content is easier to see from the new angle. It allows for gesture control of the phone — for example, you can tilt the phone to scroll a web page or move your head slightly look around a 2-D stadium image when browsing for available seats. Putting your thumb on the screen acts like a mute button for the head tracking, so it isn't confused when you look up from the screen or turn your head to talk to somebody. It's an impressive piece of software, and they've made an SDK available for it.

Wireless Industry Lobbying Hard to Keep Net Neutrality Out

Soulskill posted about 4 months ago | from the all-about-the-benjamins dept.

The Internet 85

Taco Cowboy writes: The net neutrality issue has become a hot topic recently, but on the mobile side, net neutrality rules are absent. Why? The wireless companies successfully convinced regulators four years ago to keep mobile networks mostly free of net neutrality rules. Now that FCC officials are looking into whether wireless networks should remain exempt from net neutrality rules, the mobile carriers are lobbying hard to maintain the status quo. "Wireless is different ... it is dependent on finite spectrum," said Meredith Attwell Baker, the new head of CTIA, the wireless industry's lobbying arm. Baker previously served as an FCC commissioner. On the other side of the issue, net neutrality advocates are "hoping to convince regulators to include wireless networks more fully under any new proposed rules. They are pushing for the FCC to re-regulate broadband Internet under a section of the law (called Title II), which was written with old phone networks in mind. ... The FCC will be taking public comments about what it should do about new net neutrality rules through the end of July." You can comment by emailing to openinternet@fcc.gov or go to file a Consumer Informal Complaint on the FCC's wesbite. Meanwhile, AT&T says that strong net neutrality regulations will ruin the internet.

Why Amazon Might Want a Big Piece of the Smartphone Market

Soulskill posted about 4 months ago | from the because-the-world-is-not-enough dept.

Cellphones 61

Nerval's Lobster writes: If rumors prove correct, Amazon will unveil a smartphone at a high-profile June 18 event in Seattle. According to a new article in The New York Times, Amazon's willing to take such enormous risks because a smartphone will help it sell more products via its gargantuan online store. In theory, a mobile device would allow customers in the midst of their daily routines to order products with a few finger-taps, allowing Amazon to push back against Google and other tech companies exploring similar instant-gratification territory. But a smartphone also plays into Amazon's plans for the digital world. Over the past several years, the company has become a popular vendor of cloud services and used that base to expand into everything from tablets to a growing mobile-app ecosystem. A smartphone could prove a crucial portal for all those services. If an Amazon smartphone proves a hit, however, it could become a game-changer for mobile developers, opening up a whole new market for apps and services. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has succeeded in the digital space largely by opening up various platforms—whether Kindle self-publishing or the Amazon app store—to third-party wares. It'll be interesting to see whether he does something similar with the smartphone. Early reports suggest Amazon's phone will be exclusive to AT&T.

Nokia Extorted For Millions Over Stolen Encryption Keys

Soulskill posted about 4 months ago | from the good-showing-all-around dept.

Cellphones 89

jppiiroinen writes: At the end of 2007, when Nokia still had huge market share with Symbian devices, they failed to disclose that somebody had stolen their encryption keys and extorted them for millions of Euros. The Finnish National Bureau of Investigation has not been able to figure out who did it. "The blackmailer had gotten hold of the Symbian encryption key used for signing. The code is a few kilobytes in size. Had the key been leaked, Nokia would not have been able to ensure that the phones accept only applications approved by the company."

Huawei, Vodafone Test Out Hybrid System That Combines LTE and GSM

timothy posted about 4 months ago | from the they're-into-bonding dept.

Cellphones 46

alphadogg (971356) writes "In the hunt for more spectrum to speed up mobile networks, Vodafone and Huawei Technologies have successfully tested a technology that lets LTE and GSM share the same frequencies. The speed of future mobile networks will depend on the amount of spectrum mobile operators can get their hands on. The more they get, the wider the roads they can build. One thing they can do to get more space is to reuse frequencies that are currently used for older technologies such as GSM and 3G. But that isn't as easy as sounds, as operators still have a lot of voice and messaging traffic in those older networks. However, using a technology called GL DSS (GSM-LTE Dynamic Spectrum Sharing) Vodafone and Huawei have shown a way to allow GSM and LTE to coexist."

Help Crowd-FOIA Stingray Usage Across America

Unknown Lamer posted about 4 months ago | from the muckrock-reclassified-as-terrorist-threat dept.

Privacy 89

v3rgEz (125380) writes "Collaborative investigative news site MuckRock is trying to take a national look at Stingray usage across America, and is looking for people to submit contact information for their local police departments and other law enforcement groups for a mass FOIA campaign. The submissions are free, but the site is also running a crowdfunding campaign to cover the cost of stamps, etc. on Beacon Reader." This comes after news broke that the federal government has been pushing for local police to avoid disclosing their use of Stringray devices.

US Agency Aims To Regulate Map Aids In Vehicles

samzenpus posted about 4 months ago | from the the-right-way-to-go dept.

Transportation 216

An anonymous reader writes in with news about proposed rules regarding mapping technology used in cars.Many are in favor of rules that prevent texting while driving, but in-car navigation is a murkier legal area — how do you minimize distractions without limiting the ability to get from point A to point B? Like it or not, the US government may settle that debate before long. The proposed Grow America Act would let the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) set rules for dash-mounted GPS units, smartphone mapping apps and anything else you'd use for driving directions. While it's not clear what the NHTSA would do with its power, the Department of Transportation's voluntary guidelines ask for limits on eye-catching visuals (think videos) and interaction times; don't be surprised if these enter the rulebooks.

EU, South Korea Collaborate On Superfast 5G Standards

samzenpus posted about 4 months ago | from the greased-lightning dept.

EU 78

jfruh writes The European Commission and the South Korean government announced that they will be harmonizing their radio spectrum policy in an attempt to help bring 5G wireless tech to market by 2020. While the technology is still in an embryonic state, but one South Korean researcher predicts it could be over a thousand times faster than current 4G networks.

Amazon's 3D Smartphone As a (Useful) Gimmick

timothy posted about 4 months ago | from the will-it-play-holochess? dept.

Businesses 68

Steve Patterson (2850575) writes It's rumored that Amazon will launch its own 3D smartphone on June 18. While it may be compelling, a sexy 3D feature won't catapult Amazon into the lead of the cut-throat smartphone category. If this were true, the EVO 3D, introduced two years ago by HTC and the W960, introduced by Samsung four years ago, would have been top sellers rather than niche products. However, a smartphone that renders 3D images does present an internet retailing opportunity for Amazon. It would be useful to Amazon in selling tangible consumer merchandise, just like Amazon's Kindle Fire tablet was designed to improve Amazon's merchandising of ebooks and video streaming products. What else would you like to use a 3D phone for?

Can Google Connect the Unconnected 2/3 To the Internet?

timothy posted about 4 months ago | from the if-it-makes-business-sense-sure dept.

The Internet 99

lpress (707742) writes "Google, along with Facebook, is a founding partner of Internet.org, which seeks "affordable internet access for the two thirds of the world not yet connected." Google is trying to pull it off — they have projects or companies working on Internet connectivity using high-altitude platforms and low and medium-earth orbit satellites. These extra-terrestrial approaches to connectivity have been tried before, without success, but Google is revisiting them using modern launch technology (public and private), antennas, solar power, radios and other electronics, as well as tuning of TCP/IP protocols to account for increased latency. For example, they just acquired Skybox Imaging, which has a low-earth orbit satellite for high resolution video imaging. In the short run, Skybox is about data, video and images, but the long range goal may be connectivity in developing nations and rural areas — substituting routers for telescopes. Skybox plans to operate a constellation of low-earth orbit satellites and that sounds a lot like Teledesic's attempt at providing connectivity in the mid 1990s, using the technology of 2014."

Google Fit To Curate Steps, Calories, Heart Rate, Other Biometric Data

timothy posted about 5 months ago | from the makes-me-go-all-pitter-patter dept.

Stats 53

mpicpp (3454017) writes "Google is planning to release a new product called Google Fit that will aggregate health data from various devices and apps, according to a report Thursday from Forbes. Fit will use available APIs to pull biometric information together into one place, but it's unclear whether it will be a standalone app or part of the Android OS. Reports of Fit come on the heels of Apple's announcement of HealthKit in iOS 8, a system that also interacts with apps and APIs to curate and present health data like steps walked, calories consumed, and heart rates logged. Fit also follows the announcement of Sami, Samsung's health platform for culling health-related info."

European iPhone Chargers Prone To Overheating

Soulskill posted about 5 months ago | from the marketed-as-the-only-incendiary-device-you'll-ever-need dept.

Bug 128

jones_supa sends word that Apple has launched an exchange program for European iPhone USB power adapters. The company says its A1300 adapters were bundled with the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, and iPhone 4S models, and were also sold on their own from Oct. 2009 to Sept. 2012. The reason for the recall is that the adapters "may overheat and pose a safety risk." No further details are provided (a YouTube video shows a teardown of the device).

US Pushing Local Police To Keep Quiet On Cell-Phone Surveillance Technology

timothy posted about 5 months ago | from the all-you-debaters-are-welcome dept.

Government 253

schwit1 (797399) writes with this story from the Associated Press, as carried by Yahoo News: The Obama administration has been quietly advising local police not to disclose details about surveillance technology they are using to sweep up basic cellphone data from entire neighborhoods, The Associated Press has learned. Citing security reasons, the U.S. has intervened in routine state public records cases and criminal trials regarding use of the technology. This has resulted in police departments withholding materials or heavily censoring documents in rare instances when they disclose any about the purchase and use of such powerful surveillance equipment. Federal involvement in local open records proceedings is unusual. It comes at a time when President Barack Obama has said he welcomes a debate on government surveillance and called for more transparency about spying in the wake of disclosures about classified federal surveillance programs.

Starbuck's Wireless Charging Stations Won't Work With Most Devices

timothy posted about 5 months ago | from the gotta-start-somewhere dept.

Power 114

Lucas123 (935744) writes Starbucks today announced that after beta-testing wireless charging in several locations, it will roll it out to all of its cafes in the U.S. Unfortunately, the Powermat wireless chargers they chose to use doesn't support the overwhelming number of mobile devices that are enabled for wireless charging using the Qi standard. Of the 20 million consumer devices estimated to have shipped in 2013 with wireless charging capabilities, nearly all were built with the Qi specification, according to IHS. The majority of the Qi technology was built into devices such as the Google Nexus 4 and 5 smartphones, Google's Nexus 7 second-generation tablet and a number of models in Nokia's Lumia smart phone range. The battle between the three wireless charging consortiums is expected to continue to adversely impact adoption of the technology.

Mozilla To Sell '$25' Firefox OS Smartphones In India

timothy posted about 5 months ago | from the prosperity-sensors dept.

Cellphones 82

mrspoonsi (2955715) writes Mozilla, the organisation behind the Firefox browser, has announced it will start selling low-cost smartphones in India within the "next few months". Speaking to the Wall Street Journal, the firm's chief operating officer suggested the handsets, which will be manufactured by two Indian companies, would retail at $25 (£15) [note: full article paywalled]. They will run Mozilla's HTML5 web-based mobile operating system, Firefox OS. The firm already sells Firefox-powered phones in Europe and Latin America. Firefox OS has come a long way even in the year since we saw a tech demo at Linux Fest Northwest.

New Permission System Could Make Android Much Less Secure

Soulskill posted about 5 months ago | from the this-app-is-requesting-permission-to-shock-you-with-a-tazer dept.

Android 249

capedgirardeau writes: An update to the Google Play store now groups app permissions into collections of related permissions, making them much less fine grained and potentially misleading for users. For example, the SMS permissions group would allow an app access to both reading and sending SMS messages. The problem is that once an app has access to the group of permissions, it can make use of any of the allowed actions at any time without ever informing the user. As Google explains: "It's a good idea to review permissions groups before downloading an app. Once you've allowed an app to access a permissions group, the app may use any of the individual permissions that are part of that group. You won't need to manually approve individual permissions updates that belong to a permissions group you've already accepted."

Firefox 30 Available, Firebug 2.0 Released

Soulskill posted about 5 months ago | from the 30-is-over-the-hill dept.

Firefox 270

Today Mozilla made Firefox 30 available, a relatively minor release after the massive redesign in version 29. According to the changelog, new features include VP9 video decoding, support for Opus in WebM, and horizontal volume control for HTML5 video and audio. Developers got support for multi-line flexboxes and hang reporting for background threads. There were also a number of security fixes. The Android version of Firefox received better support for native text selection, cutting, and copying, as well as predictive lookup for Awesomebar entries. The availability of Firefox 30 coincides with the launch of Firebug 2.0, which features an updated UI and a new debugging engine called JSD2. Significant new features include JavaScript syntax highlighting and de-minifying, improved code auto-complete, and the capability to hide or show individual Firebug panels.

Comcast Converting 50,000 Houston Home Routers Into Public WiFi Hotspots

Soulskill posted about 5 months ago | from the just-what-you-never-wanted dept.

Wireless Networking 474

New submitter green453 writes: 'As a Houston resident with limited home broadband options, I found the following interesting: Dwight Silverman of the Houston Chronicle reports (warning: paywalled) that Comcast plans to turn 50,000 home routers into public Wi-Fi hotspots without their users providing consent. Comcast plans to eventually convert 150,000 home routers into a city-wide WiFi network. A similar post (with no paywall) by the same author on the SeattlePI Tech Blog explains the change. From the post on SeattlePI: "What's interesting about this move is that, by default, the feature is being turned on without its subscribers' prior consent. It's an opt-out system – you have to take action to not participate. Comcast spokesman Michael Bybee said on Monday that notices about the hotspot feature were mailed to customers a few weeks ago, and email notifications will go out after it's turned on. But it's a good bet that this will take many Comcast customers by surprise."' This follows similar efforts in Chicago and the Twin Cities.

iOS 8 Strikes an Unexpected Blow Against Location Tracking

Unknown Lamer posted about 5 months ago | from the waiting-for-obvious-patents dept.

IOS 323

schwit1 (797399) writes 'It wasn't touted onstage, but a new iOS 8 feature is set to cause havoc for location trackers, and score a major win for privacy.As spotted by Frederic Jacobs, the changes have to do with the MAC address used to identify devices within networks. When iOS 8 devices look for a connection, they randomize the MAC address, effectively disguising any trace of the real device until it decides to connect to a network.'

Replicating the NSA's Gadgets Using Open Source

samzenpus posted about 5 months ago | from the spy-on-it-yourself dept.

Privacy 47

An anonymous reader writes "Wireless security researcher Michael Ossmann asked himself: 'Could I make the gadgets that the agency uses to monitor and locate mobile phones, tap USB and Ethernet connections, maintain persistent malware on PCs, communicate with malware across air gaps, and more, by just using open source software and hardware?' In this podcast he shares his insights on what to use — and how — to duplicate hardware devices found in the ANT catalog."

Ask Slashdot: A 'Mavis Beacon' For Teaching Smartphone and Tablet Typing?

Soulskill posted about 5 months ago | from the start-texting-conversations-with-a-teenager dept.

Cellphones 55

theodp writes: "Where have you gone, Mavis Beacon? A nation of smartphone and tablet typists could use your help. You've seen people type fast-and-furiously on smartphones and tablets, so you know it can be done, but how exactly do these one- and two-fingered wonders (YouTube video) manage to do so? Is it their reaction time? Technique? Both? Back in the day, touch-typing teachers showed kids the secrets to higher word-per-minute scores on their Smith Coronas. Later, typing tutor software got kids up-to-speed on PCs. So, with over 1 billion smartphones and 200 million or so tablets shipped in 2013, what are the best software and tutorials that teach mobile typing techniques? And what platform specific features — iOS, Android, WP8/Win8, BB — do you find make your mobile typing life a whole lot easier?"

Apple Acquires Social Search Engine Spotsetter

timothy posted about 5 months ago | from the what-you-did-last-summer dept.

Businesses 21

redletterdave (2493036) writes 'Apple has purchased Spotsetter, a social search engine that uses big data to offer personalized recommendations for places to go. Spotsetter was designed to combine recommendations from friends with trusted reviews and other data to create more social maps. It would show you which friends were 'experts' in a given area, and you could tag your friends as experts (like LinkedIn) to boost the influence of their recommendations. You could also discover new places by browsing Spotsetter's maps to see where your friends have been and what they've recommended. Spotsetter's app, which was available on iOS and Android, officially closed down just six days ago.'

Tetris Turns 30

Soulskill posted about 5 months ago | from the supply-of-long-straight-tetrominos-still-strained dept.

Classic Games (Games) 36

An anonymous reader writes "Wildly popular video game Tetris launched 30 years ago today, and continues to capture the hearts of folks around the world. Topping best-of video game lists for years, the colorful block puzzle has sold an estimated 170 million copies—about 100 million of which are played on mobile devices."

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