Monthly Archives December 2015

YouTube Taking On T-Mobile

T-MobileYouTube is facing off against T-Mobile, accusing the carrier of degrading the streaming quality of its videos. T-Mobile has been offering unlimited streaming of Netflix, HBO and Hulu with its BingeOn package, however, YouTube has been excluded from the list.

If T-Mobile is “throttling all video services” as YouTube says, it could be a violation of the government’s net neutrality rules, something that would likely draw a lot of criticism from Washington regulators.

YouTube’s objection marks one of the first major public complaints against BingeOn. One of its side effects is that it down samples videos to 480p, a lower quality than one might be used to. And since consumers who have a 3 GB data plan or higher are automatically added to BingeOn, and need to opt out rather than opt in, T-Mobile is operating on the edge of neutrality rules.

“Degrading video quality this way violates the FCC’s no-throttling part of the net neutrality rule, which forbids reducing the quality of an applications or an entire class of applications,” Marvin Ammori, a net neutrality lawyer, was quoted as saying.

The Federal Communications Commission sent letters to T-Mobile earlier this month, asking it to explain its policies in greater detail. AT&T and Comcast received similar messages.

Chatbots Coming to Google’s New Service

GoogleRumor has it Google’s new chat service will answer user questions. In a move that sounds similar to Facebook’s digital assistant “M”, The Wall Street Journal says that automated “chatbots” could be added to Google’s Hangouts and Messenger within an undisclosed amount of time.

The chatbots answer questions about the app itself. Facebook tested its version, “M” – which can answer questions, book travel and set appointments – earlier this year and is expected to roll it out in the near future.

Google’s chatbots are likely an attempt to take on Facebook in the instant messaging world. Facebook owns the world’s two most popular messaging services, Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp. Google’s Hangouts, part of Google Plus, was initially launched as competition for Facebook’s services, but never became overly popular.

*Source: USA Today

A $17,000 Data Roaming Bill

mobile international roamingDespite years of warnings, people continue to fall victim to outrageous charges for international data roaming. The Domzalski family was one of them.

During a family trip from Illinois to Toronto, Canada, Mike Domzalski had his son occupy himself in the back seat with his iPad. His son was able to stream video to his heart’s content tethered to Domzalski’s work phone.

According to the family, the iPad dropped its signal and the screen went blank while crossing the bridge into Canada. He never thought twice about it until the IT department at work passed along the $17,465 bill for five hours of streaming.

In the end, AT&T agreed to drop the bill, but only after a local TV station stepped in.

Need a primer on the type of fees you could face for sucking back data while out of the country? Check out our post, Subscribers lost when it comes to mobile roaming.

Programmer Fights Comcast Data Ripoff

comcast data ripoffYou need to chose your battles and Comcast picked the wrong guy to take on in a fight against false data overages. According to Ars Technica – which has the lockdown on telecom scam stories, these days – a computer programmer named Oleg (last name withheld) started receiving notices from Comcast that he was eating through his data allowance.

This didn’t make sense to Oleg, as he was out of town when the overages started. Being a computer guy, Oleg checked out his traffic logs and surprise, surprise – they didn’t match Comcast’s records.

“Metering an empty house, they warned that I consumed three times my usual usage,” said Oleg, in a YouTube video he made about the incident. “I do not stream videos, play games, run servers, or give access to anyone.”

Determined to get to the bottom of it, Oleg decided to tether to the mobile data on his phone while keeping an eye on the usage meter. It continued to climb. He unplugged his modem completely, yet Comcast’s records showed he used 66 GB in six days. His own tests showed he used about 8 GB a week.

When he called to complain, a Comcast rep told him their meter was 94.6 percent accurate. He was also told someone was probably stealing his Wi-Fi, something he doubted considering the fact he’s a software developer who is serious about home security.

“Charging for phantom data is pure fraud,” said Oleg in the video. “I should tell them there is only a 94% chance I’ll pay my bill.”

Of course, after Ars got involved, Comcast reached out and settled the dispute, admitting there was a “technical error” associated with the account. As pointed out in its article, customers with less computer knowledge may not realize they’re being overcharged or know how to fix it. It makes you wonder just how many people out there are in Oleg’s shoes and don’t even realize it.

Google in Review 2015

GoogleA look at what people have Googled over the past year can say a lot about 2015 – a scrapbook of sorts. So what does 2015 say about us? Apparently, that we love looking up other people.

2015 has shined the light on not only athletes and celebrities, but the presidential candidates and other political stars. The Top 10 most Googled people this year include Lamar Odom, Caitlyn Jenner and Ronda Rousey in the first three positions, followed by Donald Trump, Ruby Rose, Charlie Sheen, Brian Williams, Rachel Dolezal, Adele and Josh Duggar. The balance between celebrated starlets and controversial figures is certainly interesting, to say the least.

Google searches that aren’t related to celebs and politicians are also very telling. Among the top general search categories are Oscar Red Carpet Dresses, Beer, Song Lyrics, Memes, GIFs, Car Models and more. Bud Light Mixxtail happened to be the most commonly searched beer of 2015, while “Just Do It” and “John Cena” topped the GIF search list. “What is Ashley Madison?” was also a popular search this year.

More information from Google shows how much people were thinking about different world events. For example, 897 million searches were dedicated to the recent Paris attacks, while 85 million people searched the Nepal earthquake.

What did you search on Google this year?

*Source: The Atlantic

Facebook Launches Instant Articles

facebook_2015_logo_detailFacebook Inc. has launched an instant article service for Android users that will allow media firms to publish articles directly to a news feed. This will involve more than 350 publications worldwide, including the New York Times, the Guardian and more.

Through this service, publishers can either sell or embed advertisements, or allow Facebook to sell ads. As well, publishers can track data and traffic through comScore in addition to other analytics tools.

Sound familiar? Instant articles was actually made available for iOS users since October, after an initial launch in May.

*Source: Reuters

Android Phone Stays Charged for 15 Days

oukitelWhen your phone dies at the most inconvenient of times, you sometimes curse the company that made it. Chinese smartphone maker Oukitel hopes to change the outlook on battery life by rolling out an Android handset with a 10,000mAh battery.

Oukitel’s smartphone, the K10000, boasts a battery that lasts 15 days on a single charge. The name K10000 even originates from the phone’s battery specs. Likewise, Oukitel also has a model called the K6000, named for its 6,000mAh battery, and that offers 10 days of life on a charge.

This method of making smartphones goes against the ideology of bigger companies like Apple – that prefer smaller batteries and thinner devices – to more powerful devices and a potentially clunky-looking phone.

Interested in the 15 day promise? Oukitel’s K10000 is available for pre-order at $240 and is expected to deliver by January 30 or later. It comes installed with Android 5.1 Lollipop.

*Source: ZDNet

T-Mobile Tempts Customers With Hulu

T-MobileWe know T-Mobile has been after Sprint customers for a long time, offering many perks to switch carriers. Now the company is going after Verizon as well. Mobile users who switch from Verizon to T-Mobile until December 17 can enjoy a year’s Hulu subscription for free.

The subscription that is part of the deal is the Limited Commercial Plan, which regularly goes for $7.99 a month. T-Mobile CEO John Legere says that it is a “gift that will keep giving all year long.”

This might be especially true, because with T-Mobile’s BingeOn program, video streaming from Hulu does not account against your monthly data limit.

T-Mobile has been particularly generous this holiday season, with several enticing offers aimed at different consumers. And like its policy for Sprint and AT&T customers, the company is willing to pay up to $650 in contract cancellation fees for Verizon customers.

*Source: PC Mag

Google Launching Family Play Music Plan

google play musicGoogle is combatting Apple Music’s success by offering its own family plan for its Play Music service. That means the only advantage Apple Music had over Google Play Music is gone. Now, a $14.99 monthly subscription will support up to six Google accounts.

Like its major competitors – namely Apple and Spotify – Google Play Music offers access to 35 million titles, all ad-free. Subscribers can access these tracks through the Android or iOS apps, or from the Play Music website. The new family plan, in the style of Netflix, will allow family members to keep their playlists separate.

Google is also including YouTube Red as part of the family plan, exclusively in the U.S. This service provides ad-free music videos which can be streamed online or saved for offline viewing.

Play Music’s Family Plan is currently available in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the U.K, and the U.S, with more countries coming soon.

*Source: ZDNet

Apple Battery Case Coming Soon

apple battery caseCharging your phone overnight is not enough anymore, considering how much we use them in our daily lives. As a result, the battery case for smartphones has become a must-have addition to your tech collection. Apple has decided to put its own design for a battery case on the market, a case for the iPhone 6S that will sell for $99.

Apple’s version of the battery case promises 25 hours of additional talk time and 18 hours of data usage on an LTE network. It has a silicone exterior and a hinge design that makes it easily removable. The case is supported by the Lightning connector and can charge alongside your smartphone.

Apple is, so far, the only smartphone manufacturer to also create its own battery case. This will create massive competition for the third-party case makers such as Mophie, Bootcase, and Anker who have been dominating this particular market.

*Source: USA Today