Posts by Leah McGuire

Nextbit’s “Robin” Smartphone Uses Cloud Storage

nextbit robinNextbit Systems Inc. has unveiled its latest Android smartphone, which has been designed to manage storage and backup so you don’t have to. The device, called “Robin,” automatically moves files and apps to the cloud.

The Robin’s software works closely with Google’s Android operating system, and is designed to assess which files a user will need immediately and which can be moved to the cloud. Apps that are rarely used, for example, will be sent to the cloud to free up space for something used more regularly. Retrieval of apps from the cloud is easy and does not require reinstallation.

“In a way we can leverage the cloud to exceed the specs of your device,” said Mike Chan, Nextbit’s co-founder, who worked on several major Android releases. “We look at the system as a whole. We look at your usage patterns; we personalize this, really, for you.”

Nextbit’s Android phone is more reasonably priced to attract users who do not want to pay for high-end devices such as the iPhone or Samsung S6. The robin will be widely available early next year at a price of $399.

The device includes a 13 megapixel rear-facing camera, as well as dual speakers and amplifiers. It also has a fingerprint reader to activate the power button, and 32 gigabytes of storage plus up to 100 gigabytes of cloud storage.

Qualcomm’s New Smartphone Chip Fights Malware

Qualcomm_Snapdragon_logoQualcomm is trying to protect you from brand new viruses and malware attacks through its Smart Protect technology. Smart Protect will debut on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 820 mobile processor and will use machine learning to watch out for potential security issues in real time.

The Snapdragon 820 will also provide faster graphic capabilities making it ideal for VR solutions. Qualcomm will be offering an API for Smart Protect, which will allow security companies to take advantage of the chip’s heightened awareness.

“Snapdragon Smart Protect is engineered to look at the actual behavior of device applications in real time and almost instantly detect and classify any application behavior that is considered suspicious or anomalous,” Qualcomm wrote in a blog post. “Suspicious applications are classified into severity levels of malware, ranging from more destructive malware applications, to spyware apps, to less threatening though annoying adware apps.”

Qualcomm’s Smart Protect feature will keep your device secure even without an Internet connection, and without downloading new antivirus updates to keep you safe. Malware protection on mobile devices is becoming so sophisticated it is quickly surpassing desktop security software.

Comcast Planning Nationwide Gigabit Internet by 2018

comcast1Comcast VP of network architecture Robert Howald recently told FierceCable that the company plans to offer gigabit Internet to all of its customers by 2018.

Comcast was already found to be the fastest nationwide ISP in the United States, according to SpeedTest.net. In the not-too-distant future, things will be getting even faster.

Comcast plans to transition its DOCSIS 3 technology (Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification) to DOCSIS 3.1. Once the transition is complete, Comcast’s network will handle Internet speeds of at least 1Gbps, and potentially up to 10Gbps.

The rollout of Comcast’s DOCSIS 3.1 is anticipated to begin in early 2016. Comcast has said once fully deployed “every customer in our footprint will be able to receive gigabit speeds over our existing network (a combination of both fiber and coax).”

“We want to get it across the footprint very quickly,” Howald explained. “We’re shooting for two years.”

Once deployed, Comcast’s 300GB data cap will be a thing of the past. Early trials of DOCSIS 3.1 could begin by late 2015.

BlackBerry’s First Android Device – New Leaked Details

blackberryDetails surrounding BlackBerry’s rumored Venice slider device are being leaked at an astounding rate. The company will reportedly be releasing its first Android phone in November.

Evan Blass, trusted source for smartphone and tablet leaks, recently posted new tweets revealing additional details about the device. The first tweet shows what claims to be a demo of the BlackBerry Productivity suite, which can be viewed on YouTube here.

The second tweet included a file list, suggesting BlackBerry’s Android handset will still include a number of traditional BlackBerry features. These tweets reveal the BlackBerry Venice slider is more than a stock Android handset and will come with favorite BlackBerry experiences built into the system.

BlackBerry’s android device will reportedly come with an 18 megapixel camera, a slide-out physical QWERTY keyboard and a 5.4-inch display. The Venice slider will also feature a hexa-core 1.8 GHz Snapdragon 808 processor and 3GB of RAM.

Sprint Introduces “iPhone Forever” Plan

iphone-6-flexislim-smoke-white_3 The competition between U.S. carriers continues to heat up, benefitting customers. Sprint has just launched a new monthly fee plan called “iPhone Forever,” available at a discounted price for a limited time. This new plan is designed to ensure all subscribers have the latest iPhone models, which is ideal for users who always want the newest Apple products.

This plan typically costs $22 per month on top of service fees. It ensures users are eligible to trade in their previous model and upgrade to the latest iPhone whenever a new model is released.

For a short while, the “iPhone Forever” plan is being offered at the discounted price of $15 per month. Customers willing to trade in their existing smartphone for a 16-gigabyte iPhone 6, and upgrade to another iPhone before December 31, will maintain the $15 fee until the time of their next upgrade.

All major U.S. carriers are venturing away from contracts in favor of upgrade programs, and Sprint claims its “iPhone Forever” plan will save users a minimum of $20 per month compared to similar programs offered by its competitors.However, these savings depend on your device and service needs.

Users who are satisfied with the base iPhone model will benefit most, and the advantage shrinks for those who desire a larger screen or higher capacity. Whether or not the plan works out to be a deal also relies on heavy data usage. The price gap will diminish considerably if users don’t need unlimited data.

That being said, this plan is still a good deal, especially if you are satisfied with your coverage and are not planning on switching platforms.

AT&T Willingly Helped NSA Spy on Users

att logoAccording to the New York Times, newly disclosed NSA documents reveal AT&T willingly helped the National Security Agency (NSA) conduct surveillance on large volumes of Internet traffic in the United States. The documents revealing AT&T helped the spy agency in a broad range of classified activities – dated from 2003 to 2013 – were leaked by Edward Snowden.

The telecommunications giant reportedly provided extensive assistance to the NSA in carrying out a secret court order allowing wiretapping of all Internet communications at the United Nations Headquarters.

AT&T demonstrated “extreme willingness” to participate in this surveillance. The company reportedly installed equipment in at least 17 of its Internet hubs, which far exceeds those installed by Verizon Communications Inc. Its engineers were also among the first to use newly invented NSA surveillance technologies.

One NSA document described its links with AT&T as, “a partnership, not a contractual relationship.” Another document stated AT&T’s “corporate relationships provide unique accesses to other telecoms and I.S.P.s,” or Internet service providers.

The NSA’s partnership with AT&T has been extremely important, as the United Nations is an AT&T customer. This enabled the agency to conduct surveillance of international and foreign-to-foreign Internet communications that passed through network hubs in the United States, while operating under various legal rules.

When asked for a comment, AT&T spokesman Brad Burns told Reuters: “We do not voluntarily provide information to any investigating authorities other than if a person’s life is in danger and time is of the essence. For example, in a kidnapping situation we could provide help tracking down called numbers to assist law enforcement.”

 

AT&T Offers $500 Credit to DirectTV Customers

att logoAT&T has announced a limited time offer that will allow DirectTV customers to save $500 on their wireless bills when switching to AT&T.

This deal makes use of AT&T’s $49 billion buyout of DirectTV. Since DirectTV is now under its umbrella, AT&T is able to offer pay-TV service subscribers up to a $500 credit per line if they switch wireless service. Families of four, therefore, could be eligible for $2000 in credits.

AT&T will issue $300 in credits to the account holder for each line ported over to the company’s Next program. Additionally, AT&T will offer up to $200 if customers trade in their handsets, provided they are in “good working” order.

“This is a unique offer and unlike anything we’ve ever done – all to celebrate DirecTV now being part of the AT&T family,” says David Christopher, chief marketing officer for AT&T Mobility. “This is another way we’re making it better when you choose TV and wireless from AT&T.”

If customers combine their wireless and U-Verse bills, AT&T will also provide a $10 monthly bill credit, for a total of $120 off annually.

This offer is only available to customers in the continental United States and ends October 4.

Verizon Gets Rid of Contracts and Simplifies Plans

verizon logoVerizon recently announced it will be doing away with traditional phone plans and ditching contracts in favor of four simplified data plans ranging from 1GB to 12GB.

These new phone plans represent a shift away from the way Verizon has traditionally operated, as they will require users to pay for their smartphones in monthly installments or buy them outright from the beginning. Instead of locking users into contracts by offering subsidies on their handsets, this new trend set by T-Mobile two years ago offers lower service fees in exchange for users purchasing their devices themselves.

Verizon’s four new data plans will see the end of single lines and family plans. Instead, users will have a choice of the following amounts of data:

  • Small – 1GB of data for $30 per month
  • Medium – 3GB of data for $45 per month
  • Large – 6GB of data for $60 per month
  • X-Large –12GB of data for $80 per month

Since users will no longer be locked into specific plans, they will be able to modify their data plans on a monthly basis to suit their needs. This data can also be shared between different devices and accounts.

Some additional monthly fees will also be applied. An “access fee” will cost $20 per month for smartphones, $10 per month for a tablet and $5 per month for a connected device like a smartwatch.

“Choosing a wireless plan is now easier than ever. Customers said they don’t want to have to do a lot of math to figure out their best options, and we heard them,” said vice president of consumer pricing Rob Miller, in a statement. “A plan with small, medium, large and x-large choices makes sense for the way people actually use their wireless service.”

Only offering four main plans could prove problematic for heavy data users, and could lead to significant charges for exceeding the monthly 12GB cap. To remedy this situation, Verizon will offer additional large data plans in-store.

Samsung to Update Android Security Monthly

Samsung-BIG-LogoSamsung recently announced its new security update process for Android that will provide up-to-date protection from mobile security vulnerabilities. The company is promising regular over-the-air security patches “about once per month.”

In their announcement, the world’s largest smartphone maker made mention of Stagefright, an Android vulnerability revealed last week that affected approximately 95 percent of devices running Google’s operating system. The hole in security had the potential to allow a hacker to remotely access a user’s Android smartphone using only their telephone number.

Samsung stated they worked with carriers to provide security patches to Galaxy devices affected by Stagefright. The South Korean company is addressing the importance of quickly remedying major vulnerabilities and, therefore, is turning this process into a “timely security update practice.”

“With the recent security issues, we have been rethinking the approach to getting security updates to our devices in a timely manner,” said Dong Jin Koh, executive vice president and head of Samsung Mobile R&D. “Because bugs in software are constantly exploited in new ways, developing a fast response process to deliver security patches to our devices is critical in keeping our customers protected. We believe that this new process will vastly improve the security and best mobile experience possible of our devices.”

While Samsung has yet to share a date for these updates to begin, they are currently in talks with carriers and partners, and expect to release timelines for specific models in the near future.

New Samsung Monitor Wirelessly Charges Your Phone

SamsungIn a move to make computer monitors more attractive to consumers, Samsung’s latest model will feature integrated wireless charging for mobile devices.

Any device supporting Qi wireless charging, such as the LG G3, Galaxy S6 or Nexus 6, will be automatically charged when placed on the monitor’s stand. This application of wireless charging technology proves far more convenient than standalone charging pads. Building this technology into devices that typically reside on a desk makes for seamless integration into daily routines.

The Samsung SE370 features 1,920×1,080 pixel resolution, a response time of 4ms, 100:1 contrast ratio and a 178 degree horizontal and vertical viewing angle. It also has a PLS type panel and HDMI, DP and D-Sub ports.

The monitor will be made in two sizes: 23.6 and 27 inches. Pricing and release date have not yet been announced.