Monthly Archives January 2017

Amazon’s Alexa goes on a shopping spree

amazon_logo_RGBAmazon Echo, the company’s new voice command AI device which responds to the name “Alexa”, has been the cause of complaints from purchasers. According to Fortune, a California news program woke up a number of household Echo devices, triggering them to make a series of false purchases.

Ironically, it was a San Diego morning news show doing a segment on a six-year-old from Texas who was able to use her parents’ Echo device to order a doll house and four pounds of cookies which woke up a number of Echo-devices across the region. The Echos reportedly woke up when hearing the news anchor say “I love that little girl saying ‘Alexa ordered me a dollhouse.”

Consequently, a number of Echos interpreted the statement as a command, and ordered dollhouses for their owners. According to the Verge, “a handful” of people were victims of the Echo’s shenanigans, but the actual figure has not been disclosed.

This raises the problem of Amazon activating voice-command purchases with its device. Although it is very convenient and beneficial to a service like Amazon, it is also prone to errors. Who is responsible for Alexa’s blunders? Luckily, customers do have the option to add parental controls such as a four-digit code to authorize purchases.

What are the biggest VoIP trends of 2017?

voipDoes your business use Voice over IP services (VoIP)? Many do, and the number continues to grow as the convenience of internet telephony services becomes more and more sought after. VoIP_News, a blog dedicated to discussion of this handy tech, published a piece on the upcoming VoIP trends of 2017. Their list gives a bit of insight into the industry, and may just give you some idea as to whether or not VoIP is right for your business.

The first trend VoIP_News outlined was “5G Technology Begins to Emerge.” Although not expected until 2020, VoIP providers are beginning to think about how to adapt to a network with speeds faster than we’ve ever seen before. We might not see this in our offices just yet, but telecommuters using internet telephone systems from their cell could be affected before long.

Secondly, VoIP News mentioned “Security at the Forefront.” Security is a huge business concern, especially because VoIP services are much easier to breach than your average landline. The industry in 2017 will have to focus on preventing malicious attacks on the various cloud services associated with businesses, including VoIP. Consequently, it will be interesting to see what new, innovative security tech will be developed in the next year or two.

“Mobile VoIP Skyrockets” is VoIP_News’ third trend of 2017. Tying in with 5G Network, they believe it will become easier in the coming year for employees to telecommute via VoIP. It’s estimated that there will be over one billion VoIP users by the end of 2017, which makes mobile a viable pathway for business owners to follow. It also means that, because of the competition, services and features will improve and expand, all for lower costs.

Fourth is “Potential Network Strain.” This means that with VoIP user numbers increasing, along with the ever growing Internet of Things, providers and innovators will have to work hard to make sure their networks can handle all the connectivity.

Lastly, VoIP_News mentions “Trend Towards Integration Continues.” With everyone jumping on the VoIP bandwagon, more and more companies will be forced to do so or get left behind. Vendors therefore will have to continue to integrate their services with other areas like customer relationship management (CRM), enterprise resource planning (ERP), and more. It’s important that VoIP providers approach their business with an integrative strategy.

Do you agree with VoIP_News’ predictions? One thing is for sure – 2017 is going to be a big year for VoIP!

T-Mobile is looking strong heading into 2017

T-MobileFor four years now, carrier T-Mobile has been picking up a lot of momentum. It looks like 2017 will continue this trend. According to CNET, CEO John Legere boasted about his company’s success at adding new customers in the end of 2016 at CES when announcing the new unlimited-only data plans.

In 2016, for the third year in a row, T-Mobile has added more than eight million new customers, with 2.1 million of those subscribing in the last quarter. Legere says that this is impressive, especially because competitors AT&T and Verizon haven’t significantly grown their phone customer base in 2016 at all. Legere reminds us that T-Mobile has been responsible for the vast majority of the industry’s growth in new phone subscribers for four years, and he predicted it will continue to add more customers.

Should T-Mobile’s competitors be concerned? In its third quarter of 2016, AT&T lost 268,000 postpaid phone customers, while Verizon lost 36,000. Sprint, ranked fourth in the US wireless market, even added 347,000 postpaid customers in the third quarter.  Verizon and AT&T are known as the mega-carriers in the US, but it looks as though their competition might be more serious than they may have though.

Intel releases its first 5G modem

intelIntel has never really been seen as a mobile-friendly company, but it’s new product hopes to hit every corner of our connected world. According to The Verge, Intel is banking on getting into the 5G game early and announcing a new modem which is meant to let companies test the new on their upcoming products, from phones, to cars, to drones, and even more.

It seems Intel is hoping that by getting into the 5G market early, it will become the go-to supplier for 5G needs. This is a big challenge, because hefty competitors have announced similar plans. Specifically, LTE modem maker Qualcomm will be conducting 5G trials with AT&T later this year.   However, Intel has the advantage of being the modem provider for products like the iPhone 7, different drones, and some self-driving automobiles.

The 5G network is expected to drop in 2020, so the next few years will be really important for Intel’s growth.

How will the Samsung Galaxy S8 make up for the Note 7?

SamsungThere’s no way around it – Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 was an explosive disaster. But will the company be able to reclaim some customers with the impending release of the Galaxy S8? According to Mobile Syrup, they may be attempting one trick from Microsoft’s playbook; a leaked slide from a company presentation has revealed that the S8 will include desktop functionality when hooked up to a computer monitor.

The leaked image comes from a website called All About Windows Phone and shows a Samsung device connected to a computer monitor. It reads “Samsung Desktop Experience: Next Mobile Workspace.”

All About Windows Phone explains that the system shown in the leak looks similar to Microsoft Windows’ Continuum, which scales the mobile OS on a Windows phone for use on an external display, compatible with a mouse and keyboard.

So far the leak hasn’t been confirmed by Samsung, but this could be a step in the right direction for the recently embarrassed smartphone maker. Making tech more accessible is important in our ever-connected world.

Apple loses $2 million lawsuit for employee treatment

apple logoApple recently lost a lawsuit that was first filed in 2011 over denying some of its retail workers regular meal breaks. According to CNN, the company has to pay two million dollars as a consequence.

Back in 2011, only four Apple employees from San Diego were part of the original lawsuit. Their primary complaint was the lack of meal breaks, but they also cited that the company didn’t pay them in a timely manner. According to California law, employers must give hourly workers a 30 minute meal break if their shift exceeds five hours. California employees are also entitled to ten minute breaks for every four hours worked.

By 2013, the case had become a class action suit that had grown to include 21,000 people who worked for Apple in California between 2007 and 2012. In 2012, Apple changed its scheduling policy.

As of now, representative attorney Jeffrey Hogue says that Apple only owes the two million, but it could potentially turn into more.