Monthly Archives March 2016

T-Mobile Launching Data, Text Only Plans

tmobilesquareWe know that landline service is dying, but is talking to people on the phone on its way out completely? T-Mobile thinks so, at least. Reports suggest the company is rolling out new plan options that would include data, texting, but no minutes for voice calls.

Many young users simply use their smartphones for texting and Internet browsing, making voice calls obsolete in the era of FaceTime and Skype. T-Mobile’s “Simple Choice” offers these users an option more akin to their needs.

Simple Choice also allows users to build their plan based on how much data they use. It starts at $20 a month for 2GB up to $95 for 22GB, with options in-between. Since this plan has only just been introduced, it’s hard to say whether or not it will prove popular. It will be interesting to see if more companies follow T-Mobile’s lead.


Snapchat Scoops Up Bitstrips

SnapchatSnapchat is expanding its social media empire with its recent $100 million purchase of Bitstrips, a move experts say could make the messaging app more appealing to advertisers.

Toronto-based Bitstrips features personalized emojis that appeal to users and the advertisers targeting them.

Senior strategist Andy Walker of told CTV that he believes Bitstrips is popular because it allows users to “create a little icon of yourself with your hair type and your nose… and then share that with your friends.”

“If you talk to perhaps 100 teenagers, I think you’ll probably find the majority are aware of it and maybe half are users,” he explained.

Bitstrips creators Jacob Blackstock and Shahan Panth founded the start-up in 2007 with dreams of fuelling a comic-strip version of YouTube. Since 2013, the service has grown with the launch of Android and iOS applications. By 2014, Bitstrips had 30 million users across 90 countries.

The new union with Snapchat could appeal to users of both apps.

Schooley Mitchell Lawsuit Watch: A Big Verizon Rip-Off?

verizonIn this edition of the Schooley Mitchell lawsuit watch, a consumer advocacy group is squaring off against Verizon, accusing the telecom giant of scamming customers and diverting the funds to expand its wireless and fiber optic networks.

The New Networks Institute alleges Verizon has overcharged New York landline subscribers to the tune of $1,000 to $1,500 each, spending the money on infrastructure improvements and corporate expenses.  New Networks executive director Bruce Kushnick says Verizon is overcharging for its copper-based landline service and that its other services are a rip-off. For example, call forwarding and call waiting costs $7.95 per month, but only costs the company 2 to 3 cents, he says.

“All the copper networks have been written off,” Kushnick was quoted as saying in a New York Post article. “Copper-based phone services should be $10 or $20 [per month].”

New Networks is planning on filing a lawsuit related to these allegations, while Verizon continues to deny any wrongdoing. Stay tuned …

U.S. Employees Would Sell Their Work Passwords

passwordNearly 30 percent of American office workers at large companies would sell their work passwords to an outsider, a recent study has showed. In total, 27 percent said they would happily exchange their passwords for cash, which is higher than the global average of 20 percent.

The study, which was conducted by research firm Vanson Bourne, is a follow-up to the same survey done two years ago. At that point, only one-in-seven office workers were willing to share their passwords. It’s alarming to think the number of people willing to compromise their employer’s network – and give access to proprietary data – is on the rise.

However, workers are not willing to give away their data for cheap. Over half of the employees said they wouldn’t sell their passwords for less than $1,000. To add a further layer, some said they would change their passwords immediately after receiving the cash.

The survey also revealed that 65 percent of employees use their work password in multiple locations and 32 percent shared their passwords with co-workers.

*Source: CSO Online

Nintendo’s First Mobile App Sends Stocks Soaring

miitomoJapanese gaming company Nintendo has received a lot of criticism for not adapting to the ever-growing mobile world. On March 17, however, Nintendo released its first smartphone app, Miitomo. In the first three days it was downloaded over 1 million times by Japanese users.

This week stock shares of Nintendo have risen 8.2 percent and messaging-based Miitomo is Japan’s No. 1 free-app for iOS devices. The app is scheduled to be released by the end of the month in 15 more countries, including the United States. Nintendo also promises to bring traditional characters like the Super Mario Bros and Donkey Kong to future apps.

“They didn’t even have to use Mario to get 1 million downloads, a testament to the power of Nintendo’s content,” analyst Tomoaki Kawasaki of Iwai Cosmo Securities Co was quoted as saying in a Bloomberg article.

Miitomo lets users create an avatar in the traditional style of Nintendo by using a photo taken on their smartphone. The app encourages people to share their in-app selfies on different social media platforms and offers rewards for connecting with friends.

Hopefully Miitomo signifies not just temporary growth for Nintendo – whose stocks have increased 33 percent over the past year – but a permanent rebound.

Facebook Dumps BlackBerry

facebook_2015_logo_detailBlackBerry has slipped to the point that not even Facebook is taking it too seriously – the social media giant is removing its support from the BlackBerry version of its app. This comes after the announcement made earlier this month by Facebook subsidiary WhatsApp, which also plans to withdraw from the BlackBerry OS. Both applications will still be available on the Android powered BlackBerry Priv device.

BlackBerry has stated that it is “extremely disappointed” in Facebook’s decision to pull the apps. It is urging its users to log onto Facebook via the web browser on their handsets. This will be aided by a native app that will direct users to the web version. The app will replace the official Facebook app on March 31.

“We fought back to work with WhatsApp and Facebook to change their minds, but at this time their decision stands,” said Lou Gazzola, of Blackberry’s developer relations department in a CBC story. Gazzola urged users to let Facebook and WhatsApp “know how you feel on social media, using the hashtag #ILoveBB10Apps.”

Galaxy TabPro S Rises from Collaboration

Galaxy TabPro SSamsung, Intel and Microsoft recently announced the launch of a new two-in-one computer that is the product of their combined efforts. Called the Galaxy TabPro S, it has all the benefits of a tablet and all the power of a laptop. Although it isn’t a revolutionary device by any means, it could be the best functioning.

“I think there’s never been a better time to buy a new computer,” Navin Shenoy, corporate VP for Intel, was quoted as saying in an Observer article. The Galaxy TabPro S shows “what we can do when we come together and collaborate,” he added.

Beginning this month, the new device will be available at major retailers for $899 and will run Windows 10. It features an Intel Core m3 processor and a full-sized keyboard and trackpad.

Although it’s technically a Samsung tablet, it runs programs like Photoshop with no trouble. Shenoy promises that it has 30 times the graphics, triple the battery life and less than half the weight of today’s standard laptops.

As far as battery life goes, it runs for 10.5 hours off a single charge and features Adaptive Fast-Charging – the first tablet to have it. This allows a 30 minute charge to give 2.4 hours of life and a 60 minute charge gives it 4.9 hours of life.

Canadian Commissioner to Hear Television Service Complaints

Schooley Mitchell complaintsCanadian consumers with television service complaints will soon be able to turn to the Commission for Complaints for Telecommunication Services (CCTS) for help. The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) announced last week that television service providers would have until Sept. 1, 2017 to become members of the CCTS.

This means the CCTS is now the single point of contact for complaints about all major services, including television, Internet, wireless and landline telephone. Consumers concerned with things such as billing and service delivery are asked to first contact their provider for attempted resolution before filing to the CCTS.

“Since 2007, the Commissioner for Complaints for Telecommunications Services has been providing a valuable service to Canadian consumers of telecommunications services by helping them resolve their complaints,” said CRTC chair Jean-Pierre Blais, in a press release. “With an increasing number of Canadians taking advantage of bundled offers including local voice, wireless, Internet, and television services offered by the same communications service provider, ensuring a single point of contact to deal with their complaints has never been more important.”

Read the full press release on the CRTC website.

Instagram To Choose What Posts You See

Instagram_Icon_LargePeople love that Instagram lists photos in reverse-chronological order, putting no more priority on one user or another. However, this could all soon be changing. Instead of showing the most recent post first, Instagram says it will be using an algorithm to determine what each user is most likely to care about and displaying that first.

Parent company Facebook’s News Feed works the same way, showing each user what it believes to be most relevant content. It uses factors such as close friends and similar “likes” in the past to determine which posts get priority. Twitter has also shifted to this method of organization, ditching the most recent layout.

Instagram cites its 400 million users as one of the reasons why it is making this change, saying it has become more difficult for users to keep up with the constant stream of photos and videos posted by all the accounts available to follow.

“This means you don’t often see the posts you might care about the most,” Instagram explained in a message to users on March 15.

However, not all Instagram users agree with this decision – many have taken to Twitter to protest this change. Luckily for them, Instagram plans on working this new formula in gradually, using a similar algorithm to Facebook. It promises that users will still see all the posts they saw before, just not necessarily in the same order.

*Source: CBS

Amazon Developing Selfie Payment

amazon_logo_RGBAmazon has filed a patent application for a technology that would allow shoppers to pay with a selfie. The company believes this method is more secure and less “awkward” than using a traditional password.

Amazon’s facial recognition system would allow users to take a picture or short video of themselves to authenticate payments. This ensures the actual customer – not hackers, thieves, or kids on their parents’ device – is the one making the purchase. And in order to confirm it is a real selfie, not a previously taken photo, the system asks users to blink, smile or tilt their head.

“The entry of these passwords on portable devices is not user friendly in many cases, as the small touchscreen or keyboard elements can be difficult to accurately select using a relatively large human finger,” the company said when filing for the patent.

This is not necessarily revolutionary technology. MasterCard has recently rolled out a selfie and finger print payment system and Windows 10 allows people to log into their PC with a facial scan.

Amazon has not given a date for when users can expect this new system to be available.

*Source: CNN