Slashdot Deals: Prep for the CompTIA A+ certification exam. Save 95% on the CompTIA IT Certification Bundle ×
Cellphones

Sony Unveils Smartphone With 4K Screen 84

An anonymous reader writes: Sony has taken the wraps off its new Xperia Z5 Premium smartphone, which has a 5.5" display that operates at 4k resolution. "The company acknowledged that there was still a limited amount of professional content available in 4K — which provides about four times the number of pixels as 1080p high definition video. But it said the Z5 Premium would upscale videos streamed from YouTube and Netflix to take advantage of the display." Sony's answer to the obvious battery concerns raised by such a pixel-dense (808 ppi) screen was to use a 3,430 mAh battery and memory-on-display technology. The video upscaling can also be turned off to decrease battery drain.
Cellphones

Smartphone Malware Planted In Popular Apps Pre-sale 41

An anonymous reader writes with news from The Stack that makes it a little harder to scoff at malware on phones as being largely the fruit of dodgy sideloaded software, game cracks, et cetera. They report that even phones marketed as brand new, from well-known brands like Lenovo and Xiaomi, have been tampered with and "infected prior to sale with intelligent malware disguised in popular apps such as Facebook." (To U.S. buyers, those makers may be slightly obscure as cellphone vendors; the scheme this article addresses involves handsets sold by vendors in Europe and Asia, involving more than 20 different handset types.)
Networking

T-Mobile Starts Going After Heavy Users of Tethered Data 305

VentureBeat reports that T-Mobile CEO John Legere has announced that T-Mobile will cut off (at least from "unlimited" data plans) customers who gloss over the fine print of their data-use agreement by tethering their unlimited-data phones and grab too much of the network's resources. In a series of tweets on Sunday, Legere says the company will be "eliminating anyone who abuses our network," and complains that some "network abusers" are using 2TB of data monthly. The article says, "This is the first official word from the carrier that seems to confirm a memo that was leaked earlier this month. At that time, it was said action would be taken starting August 17 and would go after those who used their unlimited LTE data for Torrents and peer-to-peer networking."
Cellphones

Ask Slashdot: Best Data Provider When Traveling In the US? 142

An anonymous reader writes: I am visiting USA 3-4 times a year and I need a data service. I also need to keep my cell phone number, so swapping the SIM card in my phone is not an option. I have bought those 19.95$ phones in Best-Buy to get a local number, but those were voice only. So I have been thinking about getting a MiFi hotspot.

I have been looking at pre-paid plans from Verizon(only 700 LTE band for their pre-paid hotspot), AT&T, T-Mobile etc. perhaps to put in a MiFi hotspot or buy a hotspot from a provider, but have no idea which one to use, their reputation, real life coverage etc. It is clear that all data plans in the USA are really expensive, I get 100GB monthly traffic with my Scandinavian provider for the same price as 6-8 GB monthly in the US, which I guess could be a problem with our Apple phones as they do not recognize a metered WiFi hotspot. But that is another issue. I travel all over but most of the time outside the big cities -- and my experience from roaming with my own phone and the cheap local phone so far tells me that coverage fluctuates wildly depending on the operator.
Microsoft

A Courtroom Victory For Microsoft In Cellphone-Related Patent Suit 14

Mark Wilson writes: Microsoft has been cleared of patent infringement by the US International Trade Commission. The case dates back to 2007 when InterDigital Inc claimed Microsoft infringed its patents, and there were calls for a ban on the import of handsets. InterDigital Inc has been battling in court for eight years, initially trying to claim royalties on phones made by Nokia, now transferred to Microsoft. As well as blocking the call for an import ban, the ITC stated that Microsoft did not infringe patents relating to the way mobiles make calls. In short Microsoft is in the clear and InterDigital's rights have not been violated.
Wireless Networking

French Woman Gets €800/month For Electromagnetic-Field 'Disability' 456

An anonymous reader writes: If you were dismayed to hear Tuesday's news that a school is being sued over Wi-Fi sickness, you might be even more disappointed in a recent verdict by the French judicial system. A court based in Toulouse has awarded a disability claim of €800 (~$898) per month for three years over a 39-year-old woman's "hypersensitivity to electromagnetic waves." Robin Des Toits, an organization that campaigns for "sufferers" of this malady, was pleased: "We can no longer say that it is a psychiatric illness." (Actually, we can and will.) The woman has been living in a remote part of France's south-west mountains with no electricity around. She claims to be affected by common gadgets like cellphones.
Cellphones

Former Apple CEO Creates an iPhone Competitor 134

An anonymous reader links to Fast Company's profile of Obi Worldphone, one-time Apple CEO John Sculley's venture into smartphones. The company's first two products (both reasonably spec'd, moderately priced Android phones) are expected to launch in October. And though the phones are obviously running a different operating system than Apple's, Sculley says that Obi is a similarly design-obsessed company: "The hardest part of the design was not coming up with cool-looking designs," Sculley says. "It was sweating the details over in the Chinese factories, who just were not accustomed to having this quality of finish, all of these little details that make a beautiful design. We had teams over in China, working for months on the floor every day. We intend to continue that process and have budgeted accordingly." Obi is also trying to set itself apart from the low-price pack by cutting deals for premium parts. "Instead of going directly to the Chinese factories, we went to the key component vendors, because we know that ecosystem and have the relationships," Sculley says. "We went to Sony. It’s struggling and losing money on its smartphone business, but they make the best camera modules in the world."
Cellphones

Most People Use Their Phones During Social Events, Despite Thinking It Harms Conversation 137

Mark Wilson points out that the Pew Research Center has released a new report on mobile etiquette in the age of smartphones. 90% of U.S. adults now have cellphones and carry them around frequently. Pew's survey looked into how this is changing social norms with regard to shifting attention away from physical-world interactions. Most people think it's fine to use a cellphone while walking the streets or waiting in line, but 62% think it's not OK at a restaurant, an 88% disapprove of using one at a family dinner. Disapproval of using a cellphone in a meeting, movie theater, or church is almost universal. 89% of people say they used their cellphone during their most recent social activity, whether it was texting, checking the web, or snapping a picture. Despite this, 82% say cellphone use generally hurts the conversation. 79% of adults say they occasionally encounter loud or annoying cellphone behavior from others in public, and more than half say they often overhear intimate details of other people's lives because of it.
Android

Many Android Users Susceptible To Plug-In Exploit -- And Many Of Them Have It 61

Ars Technica reports that a recently reported remote access vulnerability in Android is no longer just theoretical, but is being actively exploited. After more than 100,000 downloads of a scanning app from Check Point to evaluate users' risk from the attack, says Ars, In a blog post published today, Check Point researchers share a summary of that data—a majority (about 58 percent) of the Android devices scanned were vulnerable to the bug, with 15.84 percent actually having a vulnerable version of the remote access plug-in installed. The brand with the highest percentage of devices already carrying the vulnerable plug-in was LG—over 72 percent of LG devices scanned in the anonymized pool had a vulnerable version of the plug-in.
Cellphones

In Baltimore and Elsewhere, Police Use Stingrays For Petty Crimes 211

USA Today reports on the widespread use of stingray technology by police to track down even petty criminals and witnesses, as well as their equally widespread reluctance to disclose that use. The article focuses mostly on the city of Baltimore; by cross-checking court records against a surveillance log from the city’s Advanced Technical Team, the USA Today reporters were able to determine at least several hundred cases in which phony ("simulated") cell phone towers were used to snoop traffic. In court, though, and even in the information that the police department provides to the city's prosecutors, the use of these devices is rarely disclosed, thanks to a non-disclosure agreement with the FBI and probably a general reluctance to make public how much the department is using them, especially without bothering to obtain search warrants. From the article: In at least one case, police and prosecutors appear to have gone further to hide the use of a stingray. After Kerron Andrews was charged with attempted murder last year, Baltimore's State's Attorney's Office said it had no information about whether a phone tracker had been used in the case, according to court filings. In May, prosecutors reversed course and said the police had used one to locate him. "It seems clear that misrepresentations and omissions pertaining to the government's use of stingrays are intentional," Andrews' attorney, Assistant Public Defender Deborah Levi, charged in a court filing.

Judge Kendra Ausby ruled last week that the police should not have used a stingray to track Andrews without a search warrant, and she said prosecutors could not use any of the evidence found at the time of his arrest.
Android

Google Relaxes Handset Makers' Requirements for "Must-Include" Android Apps 80

According to The Verge, anyone who buys a new Android phone may benefit from an interesting change in their phone's default apps: namely, fewer pieces of included bloatware. However, the affected apps might not be the ones that a user concerned with bloatware might care most about (like carrier-specific apps), but are rather some of the standard Google-provided ones (Google+, Google Play Games, Google Play Books and Google Newsstand). These apps will still be available at the Google Play Store, just not required for a handset maker to get Google's blessing. (Also at ZDNet.)
Cellphones

Mobile Phone Data Can Track the Spread of Infectious Diseases 21

jan_jes writes: Researchers have used anonymous mobile phone records for more than 15 million people to track the spread of rubella disease in Kenya and were able to quantitatively show that mobile phone data can predict seasonal disease patterns. The researchers compared the cellphone analysis with a highly detailed dataset on rubella incidence in Kenya. They matched; the cellphone movement patterns lined up with the rubella incidence figures. In both of their analyses, rubella spiked three times a year. This showed the researchers that cellphone movement can be a predictor of infectious-disease spread.
Businesses

Sprint Drops Two-Year Contracts 112

An anonymous reader writes: Following the recent news that Verizon has ended smartphone subsidies, now Sprint has announced it is ending two-year contracts as well. This leaves AT&T as the last of the major carriers to offer such a plan. Most consumers will now have to get used to paying full price for their phones, though Sprint is also running a phone-leasing plan that lets people pay an additional $22/month for an 16GB iPhone, with yearly upgrades.
Cellphones

Don't Hate the Phone Call, Hate the Phone (And the Network) 145

Ever screamed at your phone, or wanted to, when it can't handle the basic job of linking you to another person by voice? antdude writes to say that The Atlantic has posted a long article titled "Don't Hate the Phone Call, Hate the Phone" about how our telephone habits have changed, but so have the infrastructure and design of the handset. A snippet: When you combine the seemingly haphazard reliability of a voice call with the sense of urgency or gravity that would recommend a phone call instead of a Slack DM or an email, the risk of failure amplifies the anxiety of unfamiliarity. Telephone calls now exude untrustworthiness from their very infrastructure. Going deeper than dropped connections, telephony suffered from audio-signal processing compromises long before cellular service came along, but the differences between mobile and landline phone usage amplifies those challenges, as well.
Ubuntu

Ubuntu Phones Now Available Worldwide (On Some Networks) 45

An anonymous reader writes: When Canonical's phone-centric adaptation of Ubuntu first made it onto devices last year, it received a mostly "wait-and-see" reception. For anyone outside Europe, they didn't have much choice, since it was unavailable elsewhere. Now, BQ has opened sales of the Ubuntu phones worldwide. That said, the devices still have technological restrictions. "Both of these devices support GSM bands 850, 900, 1,800 and 1,900, as well as UMTS 900 and 2,100 — so you're not going to get any joy if you're on a CDMA network like Verizon."
Encryption

Prosecutors Op-Ed: Phone Encryption Blocks Justice 392

New submitter DaDaDaaaaa writes: The New York Times features a joint op-ed piece by prosecutors from Manhattan, Paris, London and Spain, in which they decry the default use by Apple and Google of full disk encryption in their latest smartphone OSes (iOS 8 and Android Lollipop, respectively). They talk about the murder scene of a father of six, where an iPhone 6 and a Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge were found.

"An Illinois state judge issued a warrant ordering Apple and Google to unlock the phones and share with authorities any data therein that could potentially solve the murder. Apple and Google replied, in essence, that they could not — because they did not know the user's passcode. The homicide remains unsolved. The killer remains at large."

They make a case for lawmakers to force Apple and Google to include backdoors into their smartphone operating systems. One has to wonder about the legitimate uses of full disk encryption, which can protect good people from harm, and them from having their privacy needlessly intruded upon.
Security

HTC Doesn't Protect Fingerprint Data 66

An anonymous reader writes: Biometric authentication is becoming commonplace — fingerprint scanners have been used on laptops for years, and now they're becoming commonplace on phones, as well. As more devices require your fingerprint to unlock, it becomes more important for each of them to guard that data. It's significant, then, that researchers from FireEye were able to easily grab fingerprint data off several recent phones. The most egregious offender is the HTC One Max, which stores the fingerprint comparison image as a simple .BMP file in a folder that's open to access. "Any unprivileged processes or apps can steal user's fingerprints by reading this file." According to the research they presented at Black Hat (PDF), it would also be simple for hackers who have remotely compromised the device to upload their own fingerprints to grant themselves physical access.
Businesses

Chinese Tech Companies Building Factories In India 104

jfruh writes: Over the past two decades, China's relatively high skill, low cost workforce made the country a powerhouse of tech and electronics manufacturing. But in a sign that things might be changing, several large Chinese companies, including Foxconn and Huawei, are investing billions to start manufacturing in India. Xiaomi is expected to announce its first India-made phone today, as well. The article says that Foxconn's planned factory in Maharashtra "would create employment for at least 50,000 people, state chief minister Devendra Fadnavis said after the signing of the agreement at which Foxconn CEO Terry Gou was present."
Cellphones

Ask Slashdot: How To Safely Use Older Android Phones? 133

An anonymous reader writes: Like many people reading this site, I have several older phones around as well as my newest, fanciest one; I have a minimal service plan on one of these (my next-to-most-recent), and no service plan (only WI-Fi, as available) on the others. Most of them have some reason or other that I like them, so even without service I've kept them around to act as micro-tablets. Some have a better in-built camera than my current phone, despite being older; some are nice on occasion for being small and pocketable; I like to use one as a GPS in the car without dedicating my phone to that purpose; I can let my young relatives use an older one as a camera, etc. Besides, some people have only one phone at all, and can't reasonably afford a new one -- and that probably means a phone that's not cutting edge. So: in light of the several recent Android vulnerabilities that have come to light, and no reason to think they're the last of these, what's a smart way to use older Android phones? Is CyanoGen Mod any less vulnerable? Should I be worried that old personally identifying information from online transactions is still hanging around somewhere in the phone's recesses? I don't want to toss still-useful hardware, but I know I won't be getting any OS upgrades to 3-year-old phones. How do you use older phones that are not going to get OTA updates to address every security issue?
Google

Google Fi: Simple Until It's Not 51

An anonymous reader writes: When Google started Project Fi, one of their big goals was to make cell phone calling simple and predictable. By combining Wi-Fi calling with cellular networks and flat $10/GB pricing, they're trying to put together a service that "just works." But as Dieter Bohn writes, things can get a lot more complicated when you try to integrate it with other Google services, like Voice. He says, "Precisely what happens when you port your number from Voice to Fi (which are kind of the same thing — but not really!) is clear as mud. ... You won't lose your Google Voice number, and it will still do most of the stuff it did before, but you may have to wend your way back to the 2011-era Google Voice site to manage it. Your texts no longer forward via SMS but they're available in the Hangouts App. You can't call people from Google Voice on the web but you can from Hangouts. Oh, and on Android there's a Hangouts dialer app you can use, sometimes, just because."