Archives for April 2011

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April 30, 2011

Verizon to Slap Phones With Location-Tracking Disclaimers

Verizon Wireless plans to slap a label on its smartphones and revealed its plans in a letter to Congress, as noted by Forbes.

quotemarksright.jpgThis device is capable of determining its (and your) physical, geographical location and can associate this location data with other customer information." The label goes on to tell users how they can limit the location information available to others. quotesmarksleft.jpg

[via TIME Techland]

emily | 5:29 PM | permalink

Google faces $50 million lawsuit over Android location tracking

Google and Apple have both been in the news lately over details of how both companies' mobile operating systems store and transmit geolocation data. Following a class-action suit brought by two Tampa men targeting Apple over alleged user tracking, Google is facing a similar class action lawsuit filed in Detroit on Wednesday. arstechnica reports.

quotemarksright.jpgTwo Detroit-area residents are suing Google for $50 million. They claim Google's collection and use of location data far exceeds the disclosure to end users, and could be used by stalkers or other unsavory third parties.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read more.

Related: - Apple's Steve Jobs Says Software Update Will Curtail Location Collection

emily | 5:17 PM | permalink

Bank Lets Customers Pay Friends By Bumping iPhones

iPhone Screenshot 2.jpeg ING Direct customers can now transfer payments to friends with the bump of a cellphone — no account numbers needed, reports Mashable.

quotemarksright.jpgThe bank released an updated version of its iPhone app on Wednesday morning that integrates an API from Bump Technologies, a startup that makes it easy to transfer information between phones by tapping them together.

When a Bump is recognized, a signal is sent to cloud servers that match it with another Bump that occurred at the exact same place and time. It decides those two Bumps are a match, and exchanges information between them.

In ING’s case, each user will need to log into his or her secure account to send or receive payment.

Previously Bump’s technology has been used to exchange contact information, photos and music between users. This is the first time that a bank has leveraged it for person-to-person payments.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read more.

emily | 5:00 PM | permalink

Royal Wedding Prompts Huge Surge in Text Messages

Royalwedding.jpg According to D | All Things Digital, the Royal Wedding wasn’t just big for social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. It also led to a huge surge of text messages.

quotemarksright.jpgThe wedding led to text messaging volume that was more than six times normal in the United States and the United Kingdom at the start of the wedding.

And Friday was the second biggest text messaging day of the year, behind only New Year’s. Even stateside, where it was the middle of the night, traffic was up 31 percent, according to SAP’s Sybase unit, which compiled all this vital messaging data.quotesmarksleft.jpg

emily | 4:22 PM | permalink

April 29, 2011

Cell Phone Radiation Could Interact With Human Tissues in a Never-Before-Considered Way

Cell phone signals’ effect on biological tissue surfaced again today via a Los Alamos researcher Bill Bruno who says the microwaves emitted by cell phones can interact with human tissues in an entirely new way that has yet to be taken into account. PopsSci reports.

quotemarksright.jpg... This doesn’t mean that microwave photons are necessarily scrambling your neurons, but it does add another wrinkle to the debate and is cause for concern and further evaluation. quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article. Bill Bruno's paper

emily | 8:23 AM | permalink

Divorce By SMS in Tajikistan

Live in Tajikistan? Get a Divorce by Text.jpeg Tajikistani men can now divorce their wives via text message, as technology makes its way even into such personal issues as ending a marriage, reports Mobiledia.

quotemarksright.jpgIf a woman in Tajikistan receives an SMS reading "Taloq, taloq, taloq," she's reportedly on her own, since according to Muslim ritual men can dump their wives by repeating this word for "divorce" three times.

The tradition still holds even over the phone, though clerics are divided on whether texting is too impersonal a way to say goodbye.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

Related: Links to articles related to divorce by SMS

emily | 8:04 AM | permalink

April 28, 2011

Nokia to shed 7,000 staff as part of reorganisation

Mobile phone manufacturer Nokia has announced it will shed 7,000 jobs from next year as part of a plan to refocus the company on smartphones.

[via the BBC]

emily | 9:31 AM | permalink

US Army to launch its own app store

AppsForTheArmy.jpg Wired reports that the US Army will soon launch its version of an app store, where soldiers can download Army-relevant software to their work computers and - with a little luck - mobile phones.

quotemarksright.jpgCalled Army Marketplace, it'll start off featuring the few dozen applications that soldiers created last year during the Apps for the Army contest. Those early efforts ran the gamut from workout guides to digitized manuals for standard Army tasks. So far, there are 17 apps for Android phones and another 16 for iPhones.

But the Army Marketplace will do more than sell existing apps. It'll help generate ideas for new ones, says Lt. Col. Gregory Motes, chief of the Army's new Mobile Applications Branch. Imagine that a soldier wants an app instructing how to call for artillery fire, and the app doesn't exist yet. The soldier would post a description of what she needs on a Marketplace forum, attracting discussion from fellow soldiers and potential designers.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

emily | 8:26 AM | permalink

No tweets allowed from Westminster Abbey

According to Shine, the royal wedding will be a tweet-free zone on Friday morning after event organizers arranged for signal-blocking technology to be installed at Westminster Abbey.

emily | 8:22 AM | permalink

April 27, 2011

New Kosher phone makes you pay $3 per minute if you call on the Sabbath

ksphone.jpeg An Israeli telecoms company is offering ultra-Orthodox Jewish clients a new kosher phone. reports.

quotemarksright.jpgWhile other firms have tapped into the religious market by offering phones free of Internet access, with no email or access to Facebook which could lead users into temptation, none has so far offered its services in Yiddish, Yediot Aharonot said.

"And if you call from it on the Sabbath, you will pay an exorbitant price of 10 shekels ($3) per minute." quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

Related: - Cell phones for the Orthodox. The “kosher” phone launched in 2005 carried a stamp signifying its approval by rabbinical authorities, who recommended haredi community members to take out contracts with MIRS Communication. The Motorola handsets were modified to disable internet access, SMS text services and video and voice-mail applications. More on Kosher phones.

emily | 8:40 PM | permalink

California's Hand-held Cell Phone Ban Could Extend to Bicyclists - as well it should


Californians could soon face higher fines for using cell phones while driving -- and bicyclists may have to put the phone down as well. A new bill wouldextend the 3-year ban on hand-held phones to bicyclists, however, the fine would be slightly lower.

[via KTLA News. Image from]

emily | 9:08 AM | permalink

France Telecom Suicide Caused by Work Stress

Yesterday's tragic news of a Telecom-Orange employee who set himself on fire seems indeed to be related to his work, according to the AFP and brings to 36 the number of employees who took their own lives between 2008 and 2011.

quotemarksright.jpgA local official of the CFE-CGC/Unsa union, Francois Deschamps, said the man had been with the company for 30 years and had suffered recently from being moved repeatedly from one post to another in the company.

In recent years the man "had a lot of changes of post imposed on him, during which he had a hard time," Deschamps told AFP, but added: "I saw him two or three weeks ago. I did not feel like he was on the verge of suicide.quotesmarksleft.jpg

emily | 8:03 AM | permalink

Text Messages Proliferate as Threats in Iraq

Actual violence may have declined substantially since the worst days of the war, but a culture of fear and intimidation still prevails. One of Irak's more peculiar menaces are death threats by text message. The New York Times reports.

quotemarksright.jpgDigital media have amplified the young voices of democracy ringing around the Middle East, but the flip side here is that the authorities and insurgents alike are also adept at using technology, particularly cellphones, largely unavailable here before the 2003 American invasion, as part of their arsenals of intimidation. quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

emily | 7:10 AM | permalink

Malls Test Apps to Aid Shoppers


Shopping malls, threatened by the rapid growth of online retailing, are experimenting with mobile applications to help consumers navigate their stores and parking lots and, in some cases, find sales and special discounts.

[WSJ via intoMobile]

emily | 7:00 AM | permalink

April 26, 2011

911 systems slow to make shift to text-messaging

The growth of technology has left 911 behind writes The Washington Post. Although people can send a text to vote for the next American Idol, they can’t send one to report the East Coast Rapist in Prince William or anywhere else.

quotemarksright.jpgModernizing 911 has taken on renewed urgency as the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks approaches, but actual progress is slow and could be years away in many places.

... Consumer expectation has already outpaced 911 capabilities. When Verizon Wireless customers send a text message to 911, they get this reply: “Please make a voice call to 911.” Other simple actions, including sending 911 a smartphone photo of a car speeding from a robbery, are also impossible.

Today, about 70 percent of the 240 million 911 calls received each year come from wireless phones, according to the Arlington-based National Emergency Number Association.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

emily | 10:08 PM | permalink

Want a free Pepsi Max? Just point your iPhone at the TV commercial with IntoNow app

id406436404.pngA fascinating advertising experiment has just got under way in the US: watch an ad on TV and get a free Pepsi Max. But you don't have to go to a website for coupons. All you do is point your iPhone at the screen while the commercial is playing, and hit the green button on the IntoNow (a free download) . [via The Drum]

quotemarksright.jpgTechnology called audio-fingerprinting recognises the ad - and a coupon for a free 20-ounce bottle of Pepsi Max is downloaded to your phone instantly.

Pepsi is to honour as many as 50,000 such coupons as a way of getting people to try Pepsi Max - as well as (much more significant) the potential for interactive TV ads.

IntoNow's "fingerprinting" knows not only what consumers are watching, but also if they're watching it live or delayed on a DVR or other recording device.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

Related: - Shazam like IntoNow app recognizes TV shows

emily | 8:46 PM | permalink

Jobs responds to iPhone tracking fears: 'We don't track anyone'

Apple's PR team has so far kept mum on the tracking controversy that emerged last week, but Steve Jobs has seemingly taken matters into his own hands, writes TechRadar.

According to MacRumors, Jobs replied to a reader's email on the matter:

quotemarksright.jpgQ: Steve,

Could you please explain the necessity of the passive location-tracking tool embedded in my iPhone? It's kind of unnerving knowing that my exact location is being recorded at all times. Maybe you could shed some light on this for me before I switch to a Droid. They don't track me.

A: Oh yes they do. We don't track anyone. The info circulating around is false. quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

emily | 1:45 PM | permalink

Employee of France Telecom-Orange sets himself on fire

According to the AFP (French) a 57 year-old male employee of France Telecom-Orange set himself on fire in the parking lot of one of the company sites near Bordeaux.

That's all the AFP had to say for now. It's unknown at this point if it's related to management issues at France Telecom.

Last April French prosecutors ordered a preliminary criminal investigation into allegations that management practices at France Télécom led 35 of its employees to take their own lives between 2008 and 2009.

emily | 1:18 PM | permalink

China to have 900 million cellular phone users this year

Chinabride.jpeg China becomes the first country to have 900 million cellular phone users reports People's Daily Online.

quotemarksright.jpgGovernment statistics show that by the end of March, the country's mobile phone users had hit 889 million, a net rise of 30 million in the first three months this year. Market analysts say the total number of cellular phone users will surpass 900 million sometime in May, or no later than June.

The U.S. has 302 million mobile phone users, while India, another rapidly growing Asian economy, had 790 million mobile phone uses now, sources say. quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read more.

emily | 8:04 AM | permalink

Class Action Lawsuit Filed Against Apple For Undocumented Location Database

A class action lawsuit has been brought against Apple, accusing the company of invasion of privacy and computer fraud. [via MobileCrunch]

quotemarksright.jpgVikram Ajjampur, an iPhone user in Florida, and William Devito, a New York iPad customer, sued April 22 in federal court in Tampa, Florida, seeking a judge’s order barring the alleged data collection.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

emily | 7:56 AM | permalink

April 25, 2011

Humblebragging: How to Disguise-Twitter Your Vanity


An amusing piece in TIME Techland on the lengths some people go through to pretend that they're not boasting on Twitter. Brought to light by comedian and Parks & Recreation writer Harris Wittels on his own twitter feed Humblebrag - which has 51,125 followers.

quotemarksright.jpg-- bostonita Rebecca Boston by Humblebrag

Realizing I'm every copywriter's worst nightmare. Im never pleased! In my head, things sound better cuz I pull words from 3+ languages!

-- whitneyhess Whitney Hess by Humblebrag

Being in demand means disappointing 95% of people 95% of the time. I have yet to learn how to overcome this.

-- jephjacques jeph jacques by Humblebrag

It's really nice being famous on the Internet but anonymous where you live.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read more.

emily | 9:32 AM | permalink

AT&T Selling 'Cell Tower In A Suitcase'

According to an AP Newswire, for the first time AT&T is selling small, portable cellular antennas that will allow corporate and government customers to provide their own wireless coverage in remote or disaster-struck areas.

quotemarksright.jpgUsually, cellphone companies have to restore service after disasters like hurricanes by sending in their own trucks that act like mobile cell towers. But AT&T's new product would let first responders such as police and emergency workers immediately control where they have coverage.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

emily | 9:22 AM | permalink

App brings voice to Facebook messages

BobSled.jpg Facebook users who have been instant messaging, poking, and friending each other are now able to use the social network to communicate via plain old voice phone calls — with a service provided by Natick-based company Vivox Inc. The Boston Globe reports.

quotemarksright.jpgVivox said last week that it was partnering with wireless service T-Mobile to offer users a free “voice chat’’ Facebook application. The service, called “Bobsled,’’ lets users initiate phone calls with their Facebook friends with a click of the mouse.quotesmarksleft.jpg

[via Cellular-News]


emily | 9:12 AM | permalink

iPhones and Android phones building vast databases for Google and Apple

According to The Guardian on Friday, Italy, France and Germany are to investigate smartphone tracking software amid privacy concerns.

quotemarksright.jpgApple and Google are using smartphones running their software to build gigantic databases for location-based services, according to new research following the Guardian's revelations that iPhones and devices running Android collect location data about owners' movements.

iPhones and Android smartphones swap data – which does not contain information directly identifying the user or the phone – back and forth with their respective companies if the user agrees to use "location services".

The news has led some European governments to announce investigations into whether Apple is breaking privacy laws.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.


-- Your phone, yourself: When is tracking too much? (USA Today) - If you’re worried about privacy, you can turn off the function on your smartphone that tracks where you go. But that means giving up the services that probably made you want a smartphone in the first place. After all, how smart is an iPhone or an Android if you can’t use it to map your car trip or scan reviews of nearby restaurants?

emily | 8:57 AM | permalink

Instant messaging forecast to hit texting

BBM-logo.png Instant messaging applications for mobile devices, such as BlackBerry Messenger, are becoming so popular that use of text messages by 15-24 year olds will fall by a fifth in many large markets including the UK, analysts predict. The FT reports.

quotemarksright.jpgMobile Youth, a consultancy, forecasts that text, or SMS, volumes will drop by 20 per cent in the next two years in regions including the UK, Indonesia, South Africa and Brazil, where BBM is particularly popular among teenagers and students.

“We’ve seen SMS usage fall among young people and the main driver is BlackBerry,” said Graham Brown, director at Mobile Youth.

More than 39m people use BBM, with volumes increasing 500 per cent.

Text messaging has been a cash cow for mobile operators in recent years but instant messaging services allow unlimited mobile chat without needing to pay for each transmission.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

emily | 8:30 AM | permalink

April 23, 2011

The Really Smart Phone

Researchers are harvesting a wealth of intimate detail from our cellphone data, uncovering the hidden patterns of our social lives, travels, risk of disease—even our political views. The Wall Street Journal reports.

quotemarksright.jpg... Data can reveal subtle symptoms of mental illness, foretell movements in the Dow Jones Industrial Average, and chart the spread of political ideas as they move through a community much like a contagious virus, research shows. In Belgium, researchers say, cellphone data exposed a cultural split that is driving a historic political crisis there. quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

emily | 7:26 PM | permalink

April 22, 2011

Charlie Sheen Launches Mobile App on iTunes

TheMasheen.jpg Where can Charlie Sheen rant and rave next? Why on your iPhone/iPad of course. He's launched an app!

The Masheen - available on the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad offers 17 short videos, a fortune teller, among other features.

[via The Hollywood Reporter]

emily | 10:39 PM | permalink

California bill to rid prisons of smuggled cell phones shelved over costs

PhoneinDeckofCards.jpg In most states, if you smuggle a cell phone into a prison, you’ll end up spending time in prison - but not in California, according to SCPR.

quotemarksright.jpgCalifornia has no law to keep contraband cell phones from inmates. Law enforcement officials and most lawmakers agree California needs one, but it’s unlikely to pass this year - because it costs too much.

... Deputy Corrections Director Richard Subia says prison staff confiscated 11,000 cell phones from inmates last year. "We’ve found them in walls, put down inside of walls, inside of toilets, in peanut butter, in garlic..." Subia says you’d be surprised.

Subia says prison visitors, men and women, young and old, smuggle phones to inmates. So does a full spectrum of prison workers. "We had an officer that we stopped in one of our Northern California prisons who said he made $100,000 one year for bringing in cell phones."

The Department of Corrections fires staff that smuggle cell phones into prisons. But the Attorney General can’t prosecute them or the inmates that use the phones unless a phone was used to commit a crime. State Senator Alex Padilla (D-San Fernando Valley) says that’s not good enough.

Padilla told the Senate Appropriation Committee last week, "There are no consequences either for the inmates who are caught with cell phones and there is no consequence for either a visitor or an employee who is caught smuggling cell phones in, and that is unacceptable."

Padilla was arguing for a bill he authored to make it a misdemeanor to smuggle cell phones into a California prison. Anyone convicted would get six months in jail and up to a $5,000 fine, per phone. Padilla’s bill would also add extra time to the sentences of inmates found with contraband phones – but reducing good time credits.

But that’s why the Senate Appropriations Committee shelved the measure. The Department of Finance estimates the longer sentences could cost up to $50,000 more per year, per inmate.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article. Image above left of a contraband cell phone discovered in inmate's deck of cards (January 2010) from CA Corrections photo stream on Flickr.

emily | 9:39 PM | permalink

Smart Diaphragm sends SMS re collagen levels in cervix

Pre-term births can result in dangerous deliveries for mothers and life-long medical problems for children. Currently, one in ten babies are born prematurely, but a new project called SMART Diaphragm is working to change this through an early detection system. reports.

quotemarksright.jpgSMART Diaphragm is an early warning system for high-risk pregnancies. Pregnant women insert a sensor-enabled diaphragm that monitors decreasing collagen levels in the woman's cervix - an indicator of impending pre-term labor. The results are wirelessly transmitted via bluetooth-enabled phones to a cloud data storage system.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

emily | 6:09 PM | permalink

Twitter to hide excessive messages from over-active tweeters

twitter.jpeg The company is testing a new feature that would hide excessive messages from users who send lots of messages in a short amount of time — an ability that has been standard in Facebook for ages.

[via SocialBeat]

emily | 9:41 AM | permalink

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