Archives for Mobility

5G Standards Are on the Way

FCCIf you’re addicted to your phone’s data, but it just isn’t fast enough, you’ll be interested to know a faster network could be coming your way. Soon, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will be sharing its thoughts on the future of data, 5G.

Right now most of us are using 4G and have been since 2010. This enabled revolutionary connection speeds, and HD streaming of video and music. 5G will take this to a new level by attempting to match our society’s increasing mobile needs. More towers are expected to be built, creating a broader frequency spectrum. The biggest change is that 5G will use millimeter wave bands for the first time; these are high frequency, short range bands that will allegedly increase connection speeds tenfold.

According to the FCC, 5G won’t roll out in full force until 2020, but companies like Verizon, Sprint, and AT&T have already begun testing. Verizon boasts limited release of 5G starting next year. Even so, the FCC and Congress still have to vote on and formalize the regulation and allocation of high-spectrum bandwidth.

*Source: Popular Mechanics

How Many Times a Day Do You Touch Your Phone?

smartphoneHumans are crazy about their smartphones – that’s nothing new. But a new study by research firm Dscout has calculated just how obsessed we really are. The heaviest 10 percent of users click, tap, or swipe their phone 5,427 times a day.

Now, you’re not likely in that top 10 percent, right? Maybe not, but the average person is still on their phone more than you might expect – an average of 2,617 times a day.

Dscout installed special software on 94 smartphones, tracking user interaction over five days. The results showed those Top 10 heavy users will end up touching their phone a couple of million times every year.

“Each tap and swipe feels small and harmless. Just a tiny fraction of our brain power and physical effort,” explained Dscout in a blog post.

This is true in the sense that most of these 2,617 touches comprise brief interactions. Dscout discovered that long-periods of usage on phones was unusual, and when it did happen it was mostly due to Netflix and reading. In general, people use their devices in small sessions. The average person is on their device for a total of 145 minutes a day, with the heavier users clocking in at 225 minutes.

*Source: Network World


Powerball App Bringing Lotto to Your Smartphone

autolottoIt’s already pretty easy to buy a lottery ticket; all you really have to worry about is losing the physical copy. The new AutoLotto Powerball app is making the whole process even more accessible and instant, allowing players to purchase, play, and redeem lottery tickets all from their smartphone. They even get their first ticket free.

As of now, it is only available in New Hampshire, but easily has the potential to launch nationally. There’s no question about its future popularity: 166,000 users previously signed up and were on the waiting list for AutoLotto, which went live in the Apple App Store on June 7. Lotteries such as Powerball and Mega Millions represent a $70 billion industry, so it was only a matter of time before an app like AutoLotto came to fruition.

Right now, AutoLotto users are restricted to one ticket with quick pick numbers per Powerball draw, but that will eventually increase to 20 tickets with custom-picked numbers. It also plans to add a group buying feature.

Gambling is tricky business, and rightfully so. That’s why AutoLotto cofounders Matt Clemenson and Tony DiMatteo say they will work with state lottery commissions, lottery directors, offices of the governor and attorney general, as well as other relevant legislators before bringing in new states.

“We’re not here to ‘disrupt’ the industry. We seek formal acknowledgement that we are not in conflict with existing laws before we operate. We provide a service that helps state lottos and retailers, and people who enjoy playing,” DiMatteo was quoted as saying in a TechCrunch article.

Do Smartphones Need a Consumer Warning?

smartphoneOur smartphones are on us constantly; we hardly every have them off our person. The age-old argument over whether or not these devices are safe continues, with some calling for proper consumer warning labels outlining the potential danger.

The link between radio-frequency waves and illnesses like cancer is still entirely ambiguous, which leads to varying levels of suspicion where mobile phones are concerned. Advocates who believe there are health risks say that, like any other potentially harmful product, our smartphones should have a clearly visible label on the back of the device. People on the other side of this debate believe consumers will be unnecessarily scared away by unproven concerns.

Joel M. Moskowitz, a researcher and director of the Center for Family and Community Health in the School of Public Health at the University of California, believes manufacturers need to be more transparent about the possible risk associated with RF emissions.

“Manufacturers have a legal duty to provide warnings that are clear and conspicuous when products raise health and safety concerns. But, typically, RF safety instructions are buried in user manuals with tiny print, hidden within smartphones, or made available on the Internet,” Moskowitz wrote in the Wall Street Journal.

He also points out that, “Even before we had scientific consensus about the public health threat from tobacco, Congress mandated warning labels on cigarettes in 1965.”

University of Michigan’s professor of neurology Larry Junck is on the other side of the debate. He believes there is not enough risk to warrant labels. He also says that labels would not prevent brain tumor deaths.

“Consider that brain tumors have not increased in incidence in correlation with cellphone use. If cellphones were an important cause of brain tumors, we would have seen an increase perhaps starting in the 1990s, when cellphones came into widespread use, or starting several years later, if it took several years of cellphone use to cause a brain tumor,” wrote Junck. “While the number of people diagnosed with brain tumors has risen, the increase has been mainly among the elderly, who use cellphones less than others.”

Learn more about both sides of the debate in this Wall Street Journal article.

FCC, FTC to Investigate Mobile Security Updates

smartphoneThe Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) are launching parallel probes into the mobile industry’s security update practices. The agencies want to determine how manufacturers issue security updates for mobile devices, and how carriers review and release the patches.

“As consumers and businesses turn to mobile broadband to conduct ever more of their daily activities, the safety of their communications and other personal information is directly related to the security of the devices they use,” stated an FCC press release.

“There have recently been a growing number of vulnerabilities associated with mobile operating systems that threaten the security and integrity of a user’s device, including ‘Stagefright’ in the Android operating system, which may affect almost 1 billion Android devices globally.”

In all, the FTC has contacted eight companies – Apple, BlackBerry, Google, HTC, LG, Microsoft, Motorola and Samsung – to gain insight into how manufacturers determine if a vulnerability needs to be patched. It has also asked for a list of all devices offered for sale since 2013, with information on any bugs that have impacted them and any fixes that were issued.

The main concern is that delays in developing patches may be leaving devices unprotected. Older devices may never receive the necessary protection.

App Allows You to Delete Texts From Recipients’ Phones

walking and textingEveryone has sent a text they almost immediately regret – you know, the kind of thing you would never say in person? Now you can delete them from the recipient’s phone before they read it. Introducing the new app Privates, which allows users to recall messages of any kind, as long as they haven’t been opened yet.

The app allows you to select from three levels of security , Mild, Wild and Insane, which determine after how long messages are deleted – after three, 12 or 24 hours.

Privates was created by Dr. Isaac Datikashvili, who said “We originally going to call it ‘Private’ or ‘Keep Your Messaging Private’ and we didn’t really think about what it meant when we added the ‘s’. It’s only when someone mentioned the double-meaning of the privates that we realized.” Oops.

As of now, Privates is only available on iOS, but the Windows and Android versions of the app are in progress.

*Source: Metro UK

AMC Won’t Allow Texting in Movie Theaters After All

texting in movie theaterWhen we caught wind that AMC was considering allowing texting in its movie theatres, we knew nothing was sacred anymore. Thankfully, it appears the plan that execs thought would appeal to millennials has fallen flat: AMC has announced it is dropping the concept before it even got off the ground.

According to a PC Mag article, the company hoped to allow texting in a way that would not disturb other patrons. Angry masses quickly discounted the idea online, leading to its speedy demise.

“We have heard loud and clear that this is a concept our audience does not want,” AMC Entertainment CEO Adam Aron wrote in a note on AMC’s Twitter account. “With your advice in hand, there will be NO TEXTING ALLOWED in any of the auditoriums at AMC theaters. Not today, not tomorrow, and not in the foreseeable future.”

It was a close call but we’re glad to see some things are still right in this world.

LMCable Charges All Phones

lmcableIsn’t it a pain when you’re an Android user, need to borrow a charging cable and everyone around you uses an iPhone? iPhones use different cables from most other smartphones, the Lightning and the micro USB ports, respectively. But what if that problem was no longer an issue? The LMcable aims to make your charging woes disappear.

The LMcable, a Kickstarter-funded product, has a reversible male end that works in both the Lightning and micro USB ports. Although it charges both kinds of devices, the LMcable’s only drawback is that it does not transfer data. That means no syncing your wealth of tunes onto your iPhone. In short, don’t throw away all your device-specific USB charging cables.

On the aesthetic side, the LMcable has a unique design. It is wrapped in leather and has a brass buckle to keep it neat and coiled. You can order it in white, brown, black and blue.

The LMcable’s Kickstarter campaign had an original goal of $3,582, which is surpassed tenfold in just over a week, gaining a total of over 1,500 backers. Right now you can pre-order it in $21 with shipping expected for April.

*Source: Mashable

Microsoft acquires SwiftKey

SwiftKey-LogoTech giant Microsoft has officially confirmed its $250 million purchase of London-based SwiftKey, a company that creates predictive keyboards for mobile devices. In the last six months of 2015, Microsoft has made a series acquisitions, averaging at around $65 million. That makes SwiftKey one of the company’s largest recent purchases.

SwiftKey uses algorithms to accurately understand what users are typing. It is already used by more than 300 million Android and iOS devices, says Harry Shum, a Microsoft executive vice president of technology and research. This is just one of the reasons SwiftKey is a very valuable asset to Microsoft, in addition to bringing the company a new set of artificial intelligence tools.

Shum hinted in a blog post that SwiftKey is an important part of Microsoft’s move to innovate technology that better anticipates people’s needs. You might notice Microsoft’s efforts in this area with the recent release of Cortana and other artificial intelligence pursuits.

*Source: Seattle Times

ISPs Won’t Get Chance to Offer Discounted Wireless

Schooley Mitchell complaintsA recent Canadian Radio-television Commission (CRTC) ruling likely means high cellphone bills are here to stay in Canada. Last week, the CRTC ruled against a coalition of small ISPs interested in offering steeply discounted wireless services.

The ISPs – known as the Canadian Network Operators Consortium – hoped to rent the networks of the big Canadian telcos, allowing them to offer alternative, inexpensive services. However, the CRTC says such a move wouldn’t be fair to the companies that have invested in their own networks, such as Bell, Rogers and Telus.

One thing is clear: it’s unlikely Canadians will benefit from a wave of new competition in the wireless industry anytime soon. According to a Bank of America Merrill Lynch Report, Canadians pay some of the highest rates in the developed world, an average of $46 US per month. It’s not a coincidence Canadian carriers are also making some of the biggest profits in the world.

*Source: CBC