Paypal has introduced a mobile credit card reader enabling on-the-fly transactions at small firms worldwide. The BBC reports.
"Paypal Here" consists of a blue triangular reader which plugs into a smartphone's audio jack and an app to control it.
The announcement by eBay's online payments unit marks an aggressive move into the mobile payment space. It puts the business in direct competition with other providers including Square and Google Wallet.
The three solutions offer an alternative to installing a more complex cash register system.
Researchers can garner vast amounts of information bearing on pollution, epidemics, transportation, from cameras, audio recorders and other applications built into cell phones, cheaply and efficiently.
But how to get mobile users to cooperate? "We can 'soft control' users with gaming or social network incentives to drive them where we want them," said study co-author Fabian Bustamante of Northwestern University.
With the App Store’s debut in 2008, Apple revolutionized the way tech companies interact with their customers and third-party developers. Bloomberg Business Week report.
Instead of the open-air sandbox typified by Microsoft’s Windows, where developers can create any programs they want and distribute them any way they please, Steve Jobs decided that Apple would have to OK every bit of code that reaches its customers. He effectively built a walled garden for Apple users. The explicit promise was, and still is, that in exchange for giving up some control, developers and consumers get a curated marketplace where the software is high-quality, free of bugs and malware, and unplagued by scams and marketing gimmicks.
But living up to those promises has become increasingly difficult as the App Store has expanded to include nearly 600,000 games, organizational tools, and other programs. Once criticized by app developers for long approval times and arbitrary rejections, Apple is now struggling with the opposite problem: letting through too many apps that violate the company’s own privacy rules or rip off trademarks. The company is also trying to swat down startups trying to manipulate the App Store, which has helped drive sales of more than 315 million iPhones, iPads, and iPod touches. Apple declined to comment for this story.
Connecticut lawmakers are considering a tax on digital downloads, including songs, e-books, smartphone applications and ring tones. The Hartford Courant reports.
A bill introduced by the General Assembly's finance, revenue and bonding committee would have consumers pay the state's 6.35 percent sales tax on any electronic transfer of a digital product that grants the purchaser "a right or license to use, retain or make a copy," the bill says.
Israelis' favorite goods to smuggle last year were cell phones, Viagra and fake brand-name clothes, said the customs authorities at Ben-Gurion International Airport in their annual report. Haaretz reports.
The most popular cell phones were the iPhone 4S and the Samsung Galaxy SII. Of the thousands of phones confiscated, most were caught in packages, not actually on travelers. However, agents recalled one woman in her 60s caught hiding 44 iPhones in her stockings. Another person, a 22-year-old customer-retention team leader at cell phone company Pelephone, was caught with eight iPhones taped to his body.
A series of heartwrenching text messages is being used by the boyfriend of a car accident victim to warn people to pay attention when driving.
Mathieu Fortin has created a Facebook page to get the word out in memory of Emy Brochu, who died Jan. 18 when her car slammed into the back of a tractor-trailer truck as it merged with traffic near Victoriaville, Que.
Brochu and Fortin had exchanged loving messages before her last one.
In the news again, more Indians have access to a mobile telephone than a lavatory. The country's latest household census reveals a nation more concerned with consumer goods than essential services. The Telegraph reports.
The census covers the last decade in which India's economy has soared to become the second fastest growing in the world after China with sharp increases in the number of people who own televisions, cars and motorbikes.
But it has also revealed the scale of poverty which remains in millions of homes without electric lighting, access to clean water and dependent on cow dung fuel for cooking.
According to the findings, the number of homes with a lavatory of any kind jumped from 69 million in 2001 to 115 million in 2001, 16 million fewer than the 131 million homes which now have a mobile telephone.
... The number of Indian families without access to any lavatory and forced to use open ground instead increased from 122 million families in 2001 to 130 million last year – almost half of the country's 1.2 billion people.
The Federal Trade Commission has reportedly subpoenaed Apple to learn the details of its deal with Google to make its search engine the preferred search provider on the iPhone. The subpoena comes as the FTC is broadening its investigation into Google's business practices, according to a Bloomberg News Tweet reported by arstechnica.
A computer program that translates sign language into written text could revolutionize the lives of the deaf and hard of hearing, scientists say, reports The Sydney Morning Herald.
The software, which can be used on portable devices and provides near instantaneous translation, would be the first of its kind.
Ernesto Compatangelo, a lecturer in computing science at the university, said of the portable sign language translator (PSLT): ''The user signs into a standard camera integrated into a laptop, netbook, smartphone or other portable device such as a tablet. Their signs are immediately translated into text, which can be read by the person they are conversing with.
''The intent is to develop an application - an 'app' in smartphone terms - that is easily accessible and could be used on different devices, including smartphones, laptops and PCs.''
According to the WSJ, a New York man represented by Robbins Geller is suing Apple for false advertising, alleging that the company’s commercials convey a “misleading and deceptive message” about Siri’s capabilities.
Frank M. Fazio, who bought his 4S in Brooklyn in November, is part of purported class of people who feel suckered. According to the lawsuit filed Monday in federal court in California:
In many of Apple’s television advertisements, individuals are shown using Siri to make appointments, find restaurants, and even learn the guitar chords to classic rock songs or how to tie a tie. In the commercials, all of these tasks are done with ease with the assistance of the iPhone 4S’s Siri feature, a represented functionality contrary to the actual operating results and performance of Siri.
Fazio claims Siri is far less responsive in real life.
A report by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) shows Saudi Arabia has the largest number of mobile phone users worldwide. Reuters reports.
The report revealed that there are 180 mobile phones for every 100 residents in Saudi, and that the usage of mobile phones is on the rise among teenagers and children as young as nine years in age.
Saudi Arabia came first in the report despite its population of 25 million of which a sizable number is expatriates.
China?s Macau Island came second after Saudi Arabia. Macau is considered to be the most densely populated region in the world, with a population density of 18,428 persons per square kilometer. There is no population data for the number of people living on the island.
Phones in the theater were once regarded as a nuisance, or worse — the embodiment of a mobile revolution that was dragging consumers away from the multiplex. These days, theaters welcome them. The Los Angeles Times reports.
Along with better seats, 3-D projectors and upscale snacks, smartphones, iPads and other tablets are changing the century-old exhibition business, presenting opportunity for growth in an industry trying to stay relevant in the digital age.
"With box office having been down last year, it's important to use technology in every possible way to drive the industry forward, and we think mobile is the core of that," said Nicholas Lehman, an NBCUniversal executive who oversees several digital properties, including the online ticket service Fandango. "It puts more people into seats, sells more tickets and creates a better experience for users."
Already there are dozens of phone apps that help consumers get to the movie theater, share their movie plans with friends and family on Facebook and receive special offers on concessions. A new app called MoviePal enables users to store trailers on their cellphones while sitting in the auditorium, and then sends them a reminder when the movie from the tagged trailer is being released.
WiTricity Corp. is developping a new system that can wirelessly recharge smartphones and other consumer devices from up to several feet away — and it may eventually find use for electric vehicles and medical implants, too, according to Bits Blog.
Eric Giler, the C.E.O., said consumer electronics using systems from WiTricity, which is short for wireless electricity, would appear this year. The systems will not be sold directly to consumers, but to equipment manufacturers who will embed the magnetic coils in phones, laptops and other products and systems.
Losing a smartphone won't just cost you the price of a new phone. A recent study commissioned by privacy software company Symantec Corp shows that there's a strong likelihood it will cost you your privacy as well. The Los Angeles Times reports.
Symantec deliberately "lost" a total of 50 smartphones in five cities: New York City, Washington D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco and Ottawa, Canada.
The phones were preloaded with fake apps that would be instantly recognizable to a finder. They were also equipped with a GPS tracking device, as well as the ability to transmit data, such as when an app was opened, to a central database.
Researchers then left the phones in high-traffic areas like shopping malls, food courts and public transit stops and waited to see what happened.
The results were pretty depressing. Key findings:
1. 96 percent of lost smartphones were accessed by the finders of the devices
2. 89 percent of devices were accessed for personal related apps and information
3. 83 percent of devices were accessed for corporate related apps and information
4. 70 percent of devices were accessed for both business and personal related apps
5. 50 percent of smartphone finders contacted the owner and provided contact
The study also found that there is only a 50% chance the finder will try to return the phone to the person who lost it.
... After an app is downloaded to a smartphone, it typically connects to Facebook to pull in address book and personal information. The user must give it permission to do this.
The apps run quietly in the background of the phone and wait for someone else using the service to wander by. Because the app knows the locations of all its users, the software can notify people who are close by. It then checks for commonalities, like a love of Quentin Tarantino films or hidden social connections, like sharing a group of friends.
Some apps, like Highlight (described as a "crowd-sourced location recommendation app"), even allow people to “bookmark” people they enjoyed meeting and will remind them of that interaction the next time they cross paths, even if it is a year later, in a restaurant across the country.
... The use of batteries and data, precious commodities among smartphone owners. Because applications that run in the background, constantly checking location, can deplete both quickly, the makers of these apps must make sure they do not drain either to function.
An end is in sight to the problem of people who have had their mobile phones stolen being landed with enormous bills – an issue repeatedly highlighted by Guardian Money over the past four years. The Guardian reports.
The telecoms regulator has given mobile phone companies until the summer to come up with plans to introduce caps on their customers' monthly bills to prevent what has been dubbed "bill shock".
Ofcom warned the companies they face enforcement if they fail to put measures in place to protect customers from unexpectedly high bills after going abroad, or, worse, having their handset or sim card stolen
Facebook has over 432 million monthly active mobile users as of December 2011. 13.4 percent access the service strictly through mobile, while the rest check Facebook from desktop and mobile, according to ZDNet. This represents 51.1 percent (up from 50.3 percent) of Facebook’s total user base of 845 million monthly active users.
According to a report by Reuters via TheNextWeb, it appears that Google wants all of the apps on its Google Play platform to use its own payment system for in-app purchases. And by want, it reports that Google is nearly forcing developers to do so.
Some developers that are using external payment systems such as PayPal, Boku, and Zong have been contacted to change their ways or potentially get the heave-ho from the platform.
News reports about a passenger using a hand-held device to block cell phones on a bus captured the public’s imagination. The story became so popular on social media, in fact, that the Federal Communications Commission has issued a consumer alert that using or importing jammers is illegal.
A mobile phone that could detect whether leftovers in your fridge are safe to eat could be heading to an app store near you. A device has been developed that attaches to mobiles and can detect small amounts of E. coli in liquid samples.
Global internet usage through mobile devices -- excluding tablets -- has almost doubled to 8.5% in January 2012 from 4.3% last year according to StatCounter. The firm's research arm highlighted the increasing use of mobile devices to access the internet with market share doubling year on year since 2009.
Global use of mobile devices to access internet (excludes tablets)
On Tuesday American Express unveiled a new program with Twitter to let cardmembers sync accounts with the social network, and earn savings from big brands such as Whole Foods, Best Buy, and Zappos--just by retweeting certain hashtags. Fastcompany reports.
With the partnership, AmEx helps fortify its role as the credit card for the social media generation--and, apparently, following through on the whole Social Currency idea beyond offering membership points rewards.
... The process of syncing your AmEx account to your Twitter account is a quick, one-time process. Once linked, U.S. cardholders have the opportunity to earn rewards by tweeting special offers from hashtags. "Tweet #AmExWholeFoods, get $20 back 1x on next $75 in-store purchase," Whole Foods might tweet. Once the consumer tweets the #AmExWholeFoods hashtag, the offer is automatically loaded into that member's account, ready to be redeemed effortlessly the next time he or she shops at Whole Foods.
An Arkansas jury found Erickson Dimas-Martinez guilty of murder in March 2010. This past December, the conviction was thrown out. The reason: A juror had been tweeting during the trial. The Wall Street Journal reports.
This case and others across the country show how the use of social media is disrupting the jury trial. While juror misbehavior is nothing new, social media have made it extremely easy—and tempting—to break the rules, and lawyers are increasingly using that as a reason for appeals, legal experts say.
While most judges frown upon jurors' using their smartphones while sitting in the jury box, jurors typically have full access to social media outside the courtroom. The challenge for courts, legal experts say, is enforcing social-media bans during trials—which can last for weeks—at a time when authorities can't even stop some people from risking their lives by sending text messages while driving.
According to C/net, Apple and Google would rather avoid a federal smartphone privacy probe. Both tech giants have agreed to meet with Sen. Charles Schumer of NY to discuss concerns that applications running on their mobile operating systems violate user privacy.
Smartphone privacy concerns have increased in the past couple of weeks after it was revealed that when Path--a popular iOS and Android application--was found to be collecting user contact information without permission.
"We have talked to both of them today and they seem open to talking about it," the Senator told the NY Times. "We asked them if they could find a way on their own to prevent apps from having access to private info. They were friendly and open to the idea that this ought to be changed."
California's nearly 4-year-old ban on drivers using handheld cellphones is saving lives, according to a University of California, Berkeley, study released Monday.
The study found that overall traffic deaths dropped 22 percent, while deaths blamed on drivers using hand-held cellphones were down 47 percent. Deaths among drivers who use hands-free phones dropped at a similar rate.
Nearly one in five mobile phone users have experienced some type of security threat with their device. That's the finding of a Cloudmark survey of 1,000 cellphone users, scheduled to be released Tuesday, reports USA Today.
Poison text messages, nearly non-existent in the U.S. a few years ago, grew 300% in 2010 and 400% in 2011, accounting for about 1% of all text messages.
One type of poison text message involves tricking people into signing up for worthless services for which they get billed $9.99 a month. Another type lures them into doing a survey to win a free iPhone or gift card.