Quarterly results largely positive for AT&T
AT&T achieved consolidated revenues of $33.0 billion for the last quarter, a year-on-year increase of 1.4 percent, according to the carrier's latest financial report. The earnings per share is also up to $0.69, up from $0.61 for the same period last year, with AT&T beating the $0.63 EPS expected by analysts despite meeting expectations on revenue, in what could be described as an overall positive quarterly report.
Phantom adverts affecting data caps, defrauding advertisers
Over 5,000 fraudulent apps currently available for iOS and Android are displaying ads users cannot see, but which are causing problems, using up cellular data, and costing advertisers around $850 million per year, says online fraud research company Forensiq in a new report. The ads are not visible on screen, yet the volume of them contributes to an overal slowing down of iPhone or Android devices while stealing data from often-limited cellular data plans.
Online deal highlights for July 22, 2015
Welcome to Daily Deals, the post where the staff of MacNN searches online retailers for offers, bundles, sales, and discounts on hardware, software, games, and gadgets for you, the discerning reader. All the old deals have been ruthlessly exterminated and are removed from the list, with the new collection including a refurbished 2.1-channel Logitech speaker system for $25, a 240GB Kingston SSD, and the Nikon 1 S2 mirrorless camera.
Region continues to offset normal summer sales doldrums
Although Apple's conference call with analysts on Tuesday was light on new information, a few facts and figures about China -- Apple's fastest-growing sales region by revenue, and currently buying more iPhones than the US -- came to light. In the most recent quarter, Apple's "greater China" revenues (which include Hong Kong, Singapore, Macau and Taiwan) jumped 112 percent from the year-ago quarter, to $13.2 billion. That's right, more than double. In a year.
Hidden fingerprint reader could aid removal of buttons from front of smartphones
Flagship smartphones and tablets of the future may not have a visible fingerprint reader on the front of the device, if a technology from one research firm is adopted by manufacturers. Sonovation has worked out a way to bond the fingerprint sensors directly onto the underside of a smartphone's glass display, potentially allowing for a future removal of visible readers, such as the home button on more recent Touch ID-enabled iOS devices.
Dozens of apps allow unlimited login attempts, creating minor security risk
A new report has found that a number of popular iOS and Android apps have what amounts to a minor security fault, in that they allow users to make an unlimited number of attempts to login to an associated account, thus making them vulnerable to password hacking for attackers who have physical access to the device, such as thieves or overzealous law enforcement. Security firm AppBugs says "dozens" of apps are affected, including Slack, iHeartRadio, Dictionary, SoundCloud and many others.
New e-SIM cards lets users switch carriers without changing SIMs
A new form of SIM card may be used in a future iPhone, if reports Apple is working with a mobile telecoms industry association are correct. Apple is reportedly working with the GSMA and a group of other companies in the mobile device market, including Samsung, in adopting electronic SIM cards (e-SIMs), which could allow for users to switch between carriers quickly and easily, without resorting to changing the physical SIM card.
T-Mobile refreshes family plans with four-person $120 option with 10GB data each
T-Mobile has revamped its family plan, as part of its "Uncarrier Amped" announcements. The new scheme has two people each having unlimited calls, texts, and 10GB of LTE data for each line for $100 per month, with additional lines including their own 10GB allocations costing an extra $20 per month, and an additional 10GB of data available at $10 per month per line. From now until Labor Day, the carrier will cut the cost of the fourth line entirely, making the four-person family plan with 10GB of data each cost $120 per month.
Pebble Time Steel production begins, shipments to backers starting this month
Pebble has revealed it is beginning production of the Pebble Time Steel smartwatch this week, with the first devices expected to start shipping to backers in the last week of this month, two months after the standard Pebble Time went through the same process. Steel version backers are supposed to receive a leather band and a matching metal version, but due to limited initial supply, Pebble will be including both bands where possible, with some backers getting their steel bands at a later time than the watch itself.
Roaming changes announced alongside T-Mobile subscriber increases
T-Mobile is allowing some of its subscribers to use their smartphones abroad in some countries without extra charges, under "Mobile Without Borders." As part of T-Mobile's Un-Carrier Amped announcements, users of the carrier's Simple Choice plans will be able to roam in Canada and Mexico for free, starting from July 15, with both prepaid and postpaid customers being able to use calls, texts, and data in the countries under their existing calling plans.
Loss of 7,800 Microsoft jobs, $7.8B impairment charge confirmed
Microsoft has revealed it is planning to majorly restructure its phone hardware business, in order to "better focus and align resources." An email sent out to staff by CEO Satya Nadella advises that the restructuring effort will also mean layoffs, with up to 7,800 positions at risk in its phone business in the coming months, as well as recording an impairment charge of approximately $7.6 billion in its next set of financial results.
Share of iPhone increases by 1.8 percent for second quarter in a row
Matching its performance in the previous quarter, Apple's iPhone again gained nearly two percent market share in the US in the last three months, according to ComScore, widening its lead as the dominant smartphone maker. While Android as a platform continued to hold the top platform position at 52.1 percent, it again suffered an overall decline of 0.7 percent, while iOS surged to 43.5, a 1.8 percent gain matched exactly by losses from Android, Microsoft, and BlackBerry.
Online complaints prompts backtracking by Sprint over bandwidth policy
Sprint has backtracked on its decision to limit the bandwidth of video streams in a recently launched plan, following online complaints. The All-In plan, launched just yesterday, will no longer have the video-specific rule in play, which prevented subscribers from watching streaming video at higher bit rates than 600kbps, with the carrier having to find other ways to prevent its network from being heavily used.
Huawei Honor 7 has 5.2-inch 1080p display, 20MP camera, metal body
Huawei has launched a pair of new devices in the last 24 hours, including a smartphone and a smartwatch that are both destined for sale in China in the near future. The Honor 7 is a smartphone equipped with a 20-megapixel camera with phase detection autofocus, held inside a metal alloy frame, while the Honor Band Zero has been teased as another round-faced smartwatch that the manufacturer is aiming to release this summer.
Video throttling restriction included in $80 Sprint unlimited data plan
Sprint has launched a new price plan today that it hopes will make the cost of the service simpler to subscribers signing up to it. At the same time, the carrier has also come under fire for including a policy in the "All-In" plan's small print, limiting the amount of data transferred for specific types of network traffic, a move which some may consider to be against the basic principles of net neutrality.
Deal puts end to roaming charges in European Union by June 2017
Europe is one step closer to ending mobile phone roaming charges throughout the continent, after the European Parliament agreed on new rules to forbid them once and for all. According to the deal, agreed to last night in the final days of Latvia's European Union Council presidency, roaming charges as a whole in the region will be scrapped in the next two years, with the agreement also -- surprisingly -- including stricter net neutrality rules that would apply across the continent.
Spring expands Direct 2 You deliveries to four new markets
Sprint is bringing its Direct 2 You home delivery and set-up service to two new markets. The latest major expansion of the service, Sprint will now be delivering smartphones and transferring files and user settings between old and new devices in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Denver. This brings the total number of cities covered by Direct 2 You to 28, with it expected to roll out to more locations throughout the rest of this year.
Jump On Demand customers able to upgrade three times per year
T-Mobile is altering its Jump program yet again, making it cheaper and easier for subscribers to upgrade their smartphone whenever they want. Introduced in a video from CEO and president John Legere, the Jump On Demand program continues to allow customers to upgrade their smartphone and cover the cost of the device with a monthly free, but now customers are able to trade in their device up to three times per year, instead of the current limit of twice per year.
Ubuntu smartphone being made available on invitation-only basis
A smartphone running Ubuntu is being made available to potential users in Europe, on an invitation-only basis. The Meizu MX4 Ubuntu Edition, a repackaged version of the existing Meizu MX4 running the titular operating system, is a device with a 5.36-inch, 1920x1152-resolution, Gorilla Glass 3-protected display, backed by a customized octa-core Mediatek processor with PowerVR G6200 GPU, 2GB of RAM and 16GB of storage.
Partnership will build developer resources, materials for mobile migration
Linux provider Red Hat and Samsung Electronics America today announced a strategic alliance to deliver the next generation of mobile solutions for the enterprise. The partnership will fuse Samsung's mobile device portfolio with Red Hat's open source middleware, mobile and cloud technologies to deliver mobile solutions that enable rapid development and integration of enterprise applications for organizations.
A seven-port USB Charging Station keeps you from being powerless
Whether at home or at work, there's a lot of stuff that needs to be charged -- and sadly there's only so many outlets to charge them on. Even if the number of outlets isn't a problem, who wants to always have to answer the question, "have you seen the iPad?" with the answer, "have you checked the bathroom?" The Satechi Seven-Port Multi Charging Dock is a seven-port charging hub that only takes up one outlet, keeps everything together in a single location, and makes an effort towards the Herculean task of making the rat's nest of cables and devices look nice and neat.
Deal brings Marvel comics to Kindle Store
Comic book fans now have more of a reason to go to Amazon, as a deal between Marvel and the retailer has brought more than 12,000 digital issues to the Kindle Store, allowing for comics from the Amazing Spiderman, Daredevil, and other franchises to be downloaded to the Kindle app and Kindle ebook readers. The agreement does not affect ComiXology, the digital comic book service owned by Amazon, nor the ComiXology-powered Marvel Comics platform.
Samsung Knox being used to force the update to affected smartphones
Samsung is issuing a patch to close a vulnerability in its smartphones caused through an insecure updating system for its software keyboard. The manufacturer is pushing the fix to affected smartphones over the next few days via a security policy update via Samsung Knox, its own security platform meant for enterprise use, though it is also working on a more standard firmware update for non-Knox devices that will pass through carriers.
FCC claims AT&T misled consumers using grandfathered unlimited data plans
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is planning to fine AT&T to the tune of $100 million, for "misleading its customers about unlimited mobile data plans." Resulting from complaints received by the agency since 2011, the carrier is being penalized for throttling the amount of data for customer accounts that have plans marketed with "unlimited data" once they reach a certain threshold for the month.
Issue with insecure updates for Samsung smartphone keyboard discovered last fall
A recently-demonstrated vulnerability in Samsung smartphones could put as many as 600 million devices at risk of being misused. Demonstrated at the Blackhat security conference by NowSecure researcher Ryan Welton, the vulnerability relates to the way the update system for the software keyboard operates, allowing a malicious user the opportunity to access data, install apps, and take control of the smartphone's microphone and camera for surveillance purposes.
No indication when technology will come to market, or pricing
Jaguar Land Rover has revealed some of the prototype technologies that its UK-based research team are developing to deliver autonomous driving in the future. A Remote Control Range Rover Sport research vehicle demonstrates how a driver could drive the vehicle from outside the car through a smartphone -- as shown by the company, specifically an iPhone.
Spotify Taste Rewind suggests songs from previous decades
Spotify is trying to get its users to discover older songs they may like, by launching a promotional site. Taste Rewind allows users to select three artists from a list that they have recently played on Spotify, reports VentureBeat, with the site then providing playlists of songs the user may enjoy from each decade between the '60s and the 2000s. While a neat software toy that may help introduce younger listeners to older tracks they could enjoy, the results do not apparently cover the entirety of Spotify's catalog, and can come up with some odd suggestions. For example, a test using Nicki Minaj, Skrillex, and Ellie Goulding brought up a playlist for the '60s headed up by Leonard Cohen.
Speculation about merger consideration by Asus
HTC is not entertaining the prospect of being acquired by Asus, following recent reports suggesting such a transaction could be on the way. The smartphone producer has been forced to comment following reported comments made by Asus chairman Johnny Shih about the potential purchase, but HTC claims it will not be considering any acquisition attempts by the computer manufacturer in the near future.
Report claims BlackBerry considering switch to alternative mobile operating system
The next smartphone from BlackBerry may not run on BB OS, switching out the operating system for Android. Reuters claims the manufacturer is contemplating switching over to producing Android devices because of the extremely low adoption rate of current BlackBerry devices compared to other popular smartphones on the market, and will form part of a change in focus for the company towards being a software-driven entity.
Ruggedized version of Samsung Galaxy S6 shipping June 12
The Samsung Galaxy S6 has a ruggedized stablemate, exclusive to AT&T. The Galaxy S6 Active, following the same pattern as the Galaxy S5 and the Galaxy S5 Active, is a heavy-duty version of the flagship smartphone, one which is IP68 certified, dust proof, water resistant to a depth of 1.5 meters (five feet) for 30 minutes, and shock resistant, making it more suitable for use outside or in sporting activities.
Other countries, such as Canada, may be ready to add Apple Pay as well
Rumors abound regarding what will be revealed by Apple this Monday at its Worldwide Developers Conference keynote, but one persistent story that is now an "expected" announcement is that Apple Pay will finally expand beyond the US, with announcements of additional countries. Apple is known to have been in negotiations with banks in the UK, and a new report in a British newspaper claims that UK iPhone 6 owners will be able to use Apple Pay by August. According to the Telegraph, unnamed insiders confirm the ability to accept Apple Pay will be available within two months of tomorrow's announcement.
Unlocking increases resale value, makes international travel easy, more
This Pointers tip actually works on most other smartphones as well, we should mention, but our experience in this regard is with the iPhone, so we use that as our example. Most people confuse "unlocking" an iPhone with "jailbreaking" or "rooting" it, and these two concepts could not be more different, in fact. This week, we will explain the chief advantages of unlocking your iPhone, or other smartphone, if its not already, and why you should do it as soon as possible -- even if you never plan to leave your home country.
Galaxy Note 4 tops iPhone 6, 6 Plus among 14,000 buyers
The American Customer Satisfaction Index ranking for the Telecommunications and Information industry sector this year is now available, and shows Apple and Samsung tied with equal customer satisfaction scores of 80 out of 100. Samsung's Galaxy Note 4, however, beat out the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus on individual model satisfaction, scoring 86 compared to the iPhone 6 line, the Galaxy Note 3 and Galaxy S5, all of which scored 82.
HTC, Mediatek partner on HTC One M9+, HTC One E9+
Electronista has had the opportunity to get hands on with the (so far) Asia-only HTC One M9+ and the HTC One E9+ while visiting the Mediatek booth at Computex Taipei. Mediatek, for the uninitiated, is a Taiwanese company that designs ARM-based chips that, up until recently, have been found more commonly in low-end or mid-range smartphones. Its latest chip, the Helio X10, its first truly high-end chip and is good enough to to go head-to-head with better known chips from Qualcomm and Samsung.
Combined fitness tracker and Bluetooth headset joins Huawei P8 Lite in US launch
Huawei has revealed a smartphone it has started shipping to the United States at Computex, accompanied by a previously-announced fitness tracker. The P8 Lite is a lower-specification version of the Ascend P8 and Ascend P8max smartphones Huawei launched in April, while the TalkBand B2 combination fitness tracker and Bluetooth earpiece is also confirmed for release in the United States this week.
Acer Liquid X2 manages to stand out from Android crowd
Electronista is currently on hand at Computex Taipei, and has had the opportunity to get hands-on with the forthcoming Liquid X2. The latest flagship smartphone from Acer stands out from the rest of the Android crowd for two reasons in particular; it packs a huge 4,000mAh battery, and it also has room for three SIM card slots. This is an Android handset for those who value battery life, flexibility and practicality over an ultra-thin design.
New ZenFone offers 13MP front and rear cameras
Asus has announced the official launch of its new ZenFone Selfie at this year's Computex in Taipei. As you might expect from the name, Asus' latest smartphone places a strong emphasis on the front-facing camera. While both of the handset's cameras offer 13-megapixel resolutions, the front f/2.2 aperture lens boasts an 88-degree field of view for capturing panoramic self-portraits of up to 140 degrees.
Data backup, data recovery, and smartphone protection deals
Every day, alongside our regular Daily Deals post, we are showcasing a few of the sales available on our own MacNN Deals page. Today, we're looking into ways to protect your precious data stored on your smartphone, including backing up your data, recovering it if things get accidentally deleted, and minimizing physical damage to the iPhone while also providing more photography options for the camera.
Magic View display on Lenovo smartwatch prototype projects second screen into user's eye
Lenovo used its TechWorld event to show two concept devices it has been working on. A smartphone with a built-in projector was revealed, complete with a mode that offered alternative ways to interact with the device, while a smartwatch was shown with a secondary "Magic View" display that provides an alternative and private viewpoint for personal data, along with other non-standard smartwatch functions.
The newest hardware, trends in industry, and possible Photoshop errors are our topics
Thanks to a combination of the Memorial Day weekend in the US (and bank holiday long weekend in the UK) along with continent-spanning long travel days for your MacNN editor, the process of putting the final touches on this week's episode of the growing-nicely and award-eligible MacNN Podcast was delayed by a couple of days, for which we apologize. As usual, we spent time on the weekend reviewing the top tech stories of the week, and bringing you our analysis.
OnePlus hints at announcement due on June 1
OnePlus has revealed it will be making an announcement on June 1, with a cryptic tweet hinting the company is "looking for ways to change the tech industry," that it is "time for change," and posting an image of a smartphone on a sheet of paper being erased. The current candidate for the announcement is a possible successor to the OnePlus One smartphone which OnePlus has previously confirmed it was working on.
Multifunction smartphone camera stand -- yeah, it's a fancy selfie stick
While IK Multimedia is perhaps better known for the audio software it creates, the past few years has seen the company growing more and more into the mobile accessory space. Products like the iRig, iRig Mic HD, and iLoud have given the company a reputation for creating products that are not only well-built, but also easy to use. Most recently, the company has announced the launch of the iKlip Grip, a new multifunction product aimed towards mobile photographers.
Upgraded version of Xperia Z3 will go on sale in June
Sony is bringing the Xperia Z4 smartphone it launched in Japan to the rest of the world, but with a change of name. Rebranded by Sony as the Xperia Z3+, the smartphone is seemingly being marketed as a slightly upgraded version of the Xperia Z3 rather than a new generation of mobile device, and considering its specifications and physical similarity to earlier models, that may be an appropriate move to make.
MacNN and Electronista deals for the Memorial Day weekend
Hello and welcome to an unusual edition of Daily Deals. Typically, the staff of MacNN and Electronista do not provide a deals post on a Saturday or Sunday, but since retailers are offering sales over this three-day weekend, we're making an exception. As well as a recap of the still-active deals from earlier this week, we've been adding new deals to the list throughout the weekend, with the most recent deals added this morning at 12:50APM EDT, so you can make the most of your money.
High number of Project Fi invite registrations causes delay in SIM deliveries
People registering for an invite into the recently-launched Project Fi, the Google-created wireless carrier, may have a bit of a wait before they will receive their SIM cards and be able to use the service. An email sent out to users suggests that it won't be able to get everyone currently signed up for the carrier until 'mid-summer' at the latest, due to the virtual network's overwhelming demand from potential subscribers.
Default outside carrier's stores now becomes Next installment program
AT&T, one of the US' largest carriers, has opted to make a significant change to its arrangements with third-party resellers of its services, including franchises and agents such as Apple, Walmart, and others. All non-company stores will be restricted from offering any two-year contracts in the traditional format with an up-front down payment, though AT&T company stores and its own online site will continue to offer contracts. Instead, retailers will have to offer the AT&T Next option, where buyers pay the cost of the phone alongside the monthly service plan fees.
MacNN and Electronista deals for May 22, 2015
Welcome to Daily Deals, the post where the staff of MacNN and Electronista scour online retailers for discounts, offers, sales, and bundles on hardware, software, and gadgets for you, the discerning reader. Our last recap of the week follows after the new batch of deals, including a 1080p home theater projector, a $130 Chromebook, and the Logitech UE Mini Boom speaker.
Google, Skrillex release Live Cases for Android smartphones
Google has unveiled a set of limited-edition cases for the Nexus 5, Nexus 6, Samsung Galaxy S5, Galaxy S6, and Galaxy Note 4 smartphones, designed in partnership with Skrillex. The Editions cases include early access to an album, a short-cut button that takes users to Skrillex's YouTube music feed, and a companion live wallpaper that updates throughout the course of the day with images shot from a specially-launched balloon satellite named after Skrillex's dog, reports Phone Arena. The cases are being sold through the Google Store for now, but the official Android blog suggests it may be available elsewhere in the future.
MacNN and Electronista deals for May 21, 2015
Welcome to Daily Deals, the regular post where we search the Internet to find bundles, discounts, offers, and sales on hardware and software for you, the discerning MacNN and Electronista reader. The last few days of still-active deals are accompanied by a new set, including a 2TB Seagate Barracuda hard drive, the Nintendo 2DS, and an Asus Transformer notebook.
Samsung delivers its best smartphone, but is it enough?
The Samsung Galaxy S6 range is a critical component in Samsung's flagging smartphone strategy. With sales of its high-end smartphones being sapped by intense competition from Apple's larger iPhone 6 models, and sales of its mid-range and low-end smartphones being attacked from all sides by the cheaper Chinese competition, the success of the Galaxy S6 is vital to the company reversing its fortunes. The Galaxy S6 Edge is potentially the more interesting of its two Galaxy S6 models -- both of which share identical specs on paper -- as the Edge features a more adventurous design with a curved version of its Super AMOLED display. So can Samsung claw back market share with its new smartphone, and return high profitability to its mobile division? Read on in our full review of the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge.