Monthly Archives February 2018

Apple to release its largest iPhone ever

After all the hullaballoo surrounding the release of the iPhone X last November, you might not be ready for news about the next generation of the popular Apple smartphone. But, as it turns out, Apple is. Company insiders announced that the California-based tech goliath is preparing to reveal a trio of new iPhones this fall.

The trio includes what will be the largest iPhone ever, an upgraded version of the current iPhone X, and a less expensive version of the iPhone X that includes all of the original’s key features. According to The Toronto Star, “Apple wants to appeal to the growing number of consumers who crave the multi-tasking attributes of so-called phablets while also catering to those looking for a more affordable version of the iPhone X.”

Is Apple trying to make up for lackluster sales with the iPhone X? Statistics have shown that Apple sold far below its projections of 80.2 million phones in the final quarter of 2017, reaching only 77.3 million units. The cheaper version of the iPhone X suggests that Apple listened to customers who were unhappy with the original device’s thousand dollar selling point.

Some experts suggest that the screen increase is another good move for Apple. “This is a big deal,” Gene Munster, a co-founder of Loup Ventures and a long-time Apple watcher, told The Toronto Star. “When you have a measurable upgrade in screen size, people go to update their phone in droves. We saw that with the iPhone 6, and we think this is setting up to be a similar step up in growth. The market that will see the biggest jump in sales is likely Asia. That market has many single-device consumers, and they love big phones.”

Apple has not commented on the situation officially, so we will likely have to wait until fall to see these new phones.

Source: thestar.com – Apple to release trio of new iPhones, including its largest ever
Published: February 27, 2018

What are Google’s responsibilities in upholding the law?

Google is such a big presence that it is bound to come into conflict with law and ethics. However, Google is not a jurisdiction or government, and every country has different laws in regards to the internet.  So what is Google’s responsibility when someone using its platform breaks the law? According to Search Engine Land, a German court recently weighed in on the topic.

The German Federal Court of Justice – the nation’s highest court – has ruled that Google “is not required to pre-screen websites for defamation before displaying them in search results.”

In the case, the plaintiff wanted Google to be made to filter out website that displayed “allegedly defamatory content about them” in a discussion forum. They were also seeking damages from Google. Had they won, Google would have had to review all website content in Germany for any potential violations before displaying it in search results, which, as you can imagine, would be an enormous burden on the company.

According to Search Engine Land, the court decided that “that a duty to take action is triggered only if Google is notified ‘of a clearly recognizable violation of individuals’ rights.’” The court said, “, “Instituting a general duty to inspect the content would seriously call into question the business model of search engines, which is approved by lawmakers and wanted by society. Without the help of such search engines it would be impossible for individuals to get meaningful use out of the internet due to the unmanageable flood of data it contains.”

Source: searchengineland.com – German court: Google has no ‘duty to inspect’ websites for illegal content before displaying
Published: February 27, 2018

LTE roaming volume had industry majority in 2017

Although 5G may be dominating the news right now, let’s not forget about LTE. Last year, for the first time, LTE data roaming traffic surpassed non-LTE roaming traffic worldwide. This important milestone was reported in a study done by Syniverse, a self-proclaimed “global leader in mobile interoperability, mobile communications and mobile expertise.”

In 2017 alone, LTE traffic rose to 54 percent of the global outbound roaming traffic from 42 percent in 2016. Syniverse’s study analysed global roaming traffic records from its “global IPX network that connects nearly 1,000 mobile operators.” It also found that LTE roaming volume grew by 121 percent across six regions in 2017, and that the Americas represent 79 percent of the total roaming volume.

Senior Vice President of Syniverse, John Wick, broke the news by saying that, “eight years after its first commercial launch, LTE is only now a truly mature global technology. The data underscores the need for the industry to more urgently prepare for 5G and the internet of things (IoT).”

“If the 5G use cases exciting the industry are to become a reality and ubiquitously adopted, steps need to be taken soon to strengthen and evolve the entire framework of interconnection, interoperability, security, and roaming that many of these new 5G services would rely on,” Wick continued.

Source: LTE now represents most of the world’s roaming traffic
Published: 26 February, 2018

Android P promises to stop apps from listening to you through your phone

We posted back in January about the scandal that broke regarding some apps in the Google Play Store which were using users’ microphones to listen to their conversations without clear consent. It looks like Google has heard the complaints about the issue, and made a move to remedy the situation. The next version of the company’s mobile OS, Android P, will include new privacy protections that prevent apps from using a phone’s camera and microphone in the background.

According to ZD Net, the Android Open Source Project (AOSP) said in a developers note for the OS that “once an app has run in the background for a certain amount of time, it should not be able to use the camera.” The same goes for the microphone, of course. The policy notes for Android P say that if an app is in “idle state we don’t allow recording to protect user’s privacy.”

If you’re updating your device to use Android P, this should give you some comfort that the apps you’ve installed will not be spying on you while running in the background. Only when the app is in active use will it be enabled with microphone and camera functionality.

Source: zdnet.com – Android P will stop apps from silently using your phone’s camera and mic
Published: February 22, 2018

CRTC rejects consumer complaints of aggressive telcos

Ottawa-based consumer advocacy group, the Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC), is speaking out against the Canadian Radio-Television Telecommunications Commission’s (CRTC) recent refusal to hold a public inquiry into claims of aggressive and misleading sales practices by a number of the country’s leading telecoms. While the CRTC says there is no need for this inquiry, PIAC says the decision ultimately hurts Canadian consumers.

“CRTC throws to telco sales dogs,” accused PIAC’s executive director, John Lawford, in a statement. “The CRTC refusal to inquire into the shocking sales practices of Canada’s major telecommunications and broadcasting companies says to consumers, ‘You’re on your own.’”

The PIAC made the request to the CRTC in January, after CBC GO Public reported that it had heard from “from more than 200 past and present employees — mostly working for Bell and Rogers — describing intense pressure to mislead, lie and trick consumers in order to hit unrealistic sales targets.”

One Rogers employee admitted to not telling elderly customers about added fees and to sneaking extra products or services on their bills. Employees weren’t the only ones to come forward; CBC says over 300 customers have reached out as well. A woman in Oshawa, Ontario complained that Bell was charging her in-laws for internet service without their knowledge or express consent. So why, PIAC wants to know, did the CRTC refuse to hold an inquiry?

The commission stated in its rejection letter that Canadians already have “well-established and effective mechanisms to resolve issues with their [telecoms].”

While this is partially true – for example, consumers can complain to the Commissioner for Complaints for Telecom-Television Services (CCTS), which is an independent telecom ombudsman – there still will not be major change in the industry without the CRTC’s compliance. As Lawford points out, “Only the CRTC has the regulatory authority to ask the industry to change practices.”

​Source: CBC.ca – CRTC rejects call for public inquiry into aggressive telecom sales practices
Published: February 21, 2018

Apple’s HomePod could ruin your wooden furniture

What’s the most annoying thing to happen at a party or get-together in your home? When your friend sets a frosty drink down on your wooden coffee table without a coaster, of course! No one wants to see rings on their furniture. Unfortunately, drinks may not be the only culprit! According to various reports, Apple’s HomePod smart speaker allegedly leaves white rings on wooden surfaces in less than 20 minutes of use.

The $349.00 device, which launched February 9th, has reportedly caused early users a lot of grief when it came to their wooden tables and surfaces. Many have taken to Twitter to express their discontent.

One user – @Guvinsf415 – said “#homepod left rings on my wood furniture in less than 20 minutes of use. Thanks #apple I am glad a (sic) paid $400 to make perfect etched circles on my more expensive furniture. Guess I can not move it now to cover up the mark. Evil geniuses you are.”

Another user, Casey Newton, took a guess at the cause of the problem, tweeting, “Congratulations to everyone on their beautiful HomePods and sorry it secretes a deadly acid that destroys your furniture.”

On its HomePod support page, Apple has addressed the frustrating issue. It says that it’s “not unusual for any speaker with a vibration-dampening silicone base to leave mild marks when placed on some wooden surfaces” and that “the marks can be caused by oils diffusing between the silicone base and the table surface.”

Apple hopes the marks will disappear on their own “after several days when the speaker is removed from the wooden surface.” But in the meantime, the company says “If you’re concerned about this, we recommend placing your HomePod on a different surface.

Source: pcmag.com – Apple’s HomePod May Leave White Rings on Wood Surfaces
Published: February 14, 2018

Amazon shipping is making FedEx and UPS sweat

Amazon is the world’s biggest online retailer, with an army of merchandise warehouses, airplanes, trucks, drones and couriers to aid its shipping ambitions. The Seattle-based company has made use of existing shipping companies, including a delivery partnership with FedEx, but it has also been moving to overtake them according to The Seattle Times. The publications warns, “Amazon is coming for you, FedEx and UPS. Maybe not today or tomorrow. But soon.”

Amazon has been accused of trying to negate companies like FedEx and UPS in the past. Executives have stated that the fleets of trucks, warehouses, airplanes, and delivery drivers are “intended to supplement existing shipping providers when needed and improve service for Amazon shoppers.” But Amazon cannot deny that it has built its own shipping empire, and surely, before long, it won’t need FedEx’s help.

On February 9th, The Wall Street Journal reported that “Amazon plans for the first time to pick up packages from businesses and ship them to customers.” Meaning, it won’t be employing a middle man. This option is available only in Los Angeles for now, and only for companies that sell merchandise through Amazon’s website. But, as The Seattle Times points out, “this is the company’s first direct move into FedEx and UPS territory.”

FedEx and UPS have been denying this move for years. Two years ago, FedEx CEO Fred Smith told analysts that, “In all likelihood, the primary deliverers of e-commerce shipments for the foreseeable future will be UPS, the U.S. Postal Service and FedEx.”

Now it is clear Smith was wrong. The likelihood of Amazon ousting FedEx and UPS right away is low – the process will take years. But Amazon has only been building its shipping infrastructure since 2013, and it already has a formidable force behind it.

Source: seattletimes.com – Amazon’s delivery dream is a nightmare for FedEx and UPS
Published: February 11, 2018

Bell Canada and Telus start 2018 on a high note

If you remember this past December in Canada’s telecom world, then you’ll remember a bunch of holiday promotions and a frenzy for the major telecom companies to snatch up new customers. As it turns out, Telus and Bell Canada won that race.

Telus announced on February 8th that it added 121,000 new wireless customers in the fourth quarter of 2017, beating analyst expectations of 100,000. In the same period, Bell Canada (BCE Inc.,) added 175,000 new customer, while rival telecom Rogers Communications Inc., only added 72,000.  This is especially disappointing for Rogers, the company responsible for kicking off the period of frenzy in December. According to The Globe and Mail, Rogers “faced a computer glitch that left it unable to sign up certain customers for the deals and said it estimates it lost about 35,000 subscribers as a result.”

Telus executives have attributed its success over this period to simple superior service. And they may have a point. The Globe and Mail says, “A number of recent third-party tests – including a report Wednesday from OpenSignal– have ranked Telus’s download speeds and wireless network reliability at the top of Canada’s national carriers.” The company also maintains that it has a low rate of customer turn-over due to high quality customer service, and that this attracted more customers in 2017.

“When you have a lot of activity in the market, if your customers don’t have a reason to leave you will be successful and that is our goal,” Telus chief financial officer Doug French told The Globe and Mail.

Source: globeandmail.com – Telus wireless gains top forecasts amid battle for market share
Published: February 8, 2018

Koodo hunts for new customers with new referral deal

Koodo – a subsidiary of the Canadian telecom giant Telus – has recently launched an enticing new refer-a-friend deal that rewards both the original customer as well as referral. Under this offer, both individuals would receive a $50 bill credit.

Mobile Syrup explains that the deal “requires those interested to submit their name and email before activating with Koodo, in order to qualify for the credit. Once the new phone number has been activated, instructions will be sent to the subscriber’s email in order for them to claim their reward.”

Koodo has specified that only when the customer is activated and “all the requirements” have been met, will the money be awarded to both parties.

To take advantage of this deal, follow Mobile Syrup’s instructions: “First, Log in using your Self Serve email and password in order to send referrals to friends and family. Once they receive your referral, they’ll then need to redeem the offer by entering their name and email address into the referral system before they activate a service with Koodo. Referrals can then buy a phone or SIM card and activate with a Koodo plan After they’ve activated, your referrals will need to log back into the referral system and enter their new Koodo phone number.”

The deal expires March 1st.

Mysterious phone scam has global theme

Remember the one-ring phone scam? Well its back and broader than ever. This time the calls show up on your phone as having come from overseas locations such as Albania, Macedonia, and Seychelles. Most recently, Alberta residents have been falling prey to this scheme.

Here’s how it works. The scammer calls you and hangs up after one ring. Then they hope, out of curiosity, that you will call back.

Leah Brownridge of the Calgary Better Business Bureau explains what happens if you call the number back. “They may be connected to some kind of toll service. You may hear music playing, you may hear an automated recording of some sort. The longer you stay on the line, the chances are your phone bill is going to be racked up with long distance charges.”

Rogers Communications released a warning on social media regarding the scam. “If you receive a call from an unknown international number that disconnects immediately it could be part of a worldwide scam … don’t call back.”

 

Source: globalnews.ca – Mysterious missed calls on cellphones part of worldwide scam
Published: February 7, 2018