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Cellphones

Ask Slashdot: Best Data Provider When Traveling In the US? 91

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 montly 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.
Android

Since-Pulled Cyanogen Update For Oneplus Changes Default Home Page To Bing 86

ourlovecanlastforeve writes: Nestled into GSMArena's report on the Cyanogen OS 12.1 update for Oneplus [ Note: an update that the story reports has since been pulled.] is this tasty bite: "...you'll find out that your Chrome homepage has been changed to Bing." Then it's casually dismissed with "Thankfully though, you can easily get rid of Microsoft's search engine by using Chrome settings." as if this were the most normal thing to have to do after an OTA update. Is this the new normal? Has Microsoft set a new precedent that it's okay to expect users to have to go searching through every setting and proactively monitor network traffic to make sure their data isn't being stolen, modified or otherwise manipulated?
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.
Bug

Backwards S-Pen Can Permanently Damage Note 5 157

tlhIngan writes: Samsung recently released a new version of its popular Galaxy Note series phablet, the Note 5. However, it turns out that there is a huge design flaw in the design of its pen holder (which Samsung calls the S-pen). If you insert it backwards (pointy end out instead of in), it's possible for it get stuck damaging the S-pen detection features. While it may be possible to fix it (Ars Technica was able to, Android Police was not), there's also a chance that your pen is also stuck the wrong way in permanently as the mechanism that holds the pen in grabs the wrong end and doesn't let go.
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.
Iphone

Apple Launches Free iPhone 6 Plus Camera Replacement Program 68

Mark Wilson writes: Complaints about the camera of the iPhone 6 Plus have been plentiful, and Apple has finally acknowledged that there is a problem. It's not something that affects all iPhone 6 Plus owners, but the company says that phones manufactured between September 2014 and January 2015 could include a failed camera component. Apple has set up a replacement program which enables those with problems with the rear camera to obtain a replacement. Before you get too excited, it is just replacement camera components that are on offer, not replacement iPhones. You'll need to check to see if your phone is eligible at the program website. (Also at TechCrunch.)
Cellphones

The Realities of a $50 Smartphone 141

An anonymous reader writes: Google recently reiterated their commitment to the goal of a $50 smartphone in India, and a new article breaks down exactly what that means for the phone's hardware. A budget display will eat up about about $8 of that budget — it's actually somewhat amazing that so little money can still buy a 4-4.5" panel running at 854x480. For another $10, you can get a cheap SoC — something in the range of 1.3Ghz and quad-core, complete with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and GPS radios. A gigabyte of RAM and 4 gigabytes of storage can be had for another $10 or so. Throw in a $2.10, 1,600 mAh battery and a $5 camera unit, and you've got most of a phone. That leaves about $9 to play with for basic stuff like a casing, and then packaging/marketing costs (some of which could be given freely, like the design work.) Profit margins will be nonexistent, but that's less of an issue for Google, who simply wants to spread the reach of Android.
Cellphones

Commodore Smartphone Hits Trademark Opposition 46

damnbunni writes: As reported on amiga-news.de, it appears that Massimo Canigiani didn't license the Commodore trademarks before announcing that Commodore PET Smartphone. The company that actually owns the mark, Commodore Holdings, is not amused. It's not like it would have been hard to determine who owns it and try to license. The C= Holdings trademark is registered with the same EU agency 'CBM Limited' applied for a new mark. I can't see much of an excuse here. The company holding Commodore's trademarks is literally Commodore Holdings. They can't even say "We had NO IDEA who to contact!"
Handhelds

Hands On Samsung's New Galaxy S6 Edge+ and Galaxy Note 5 At Unpacked New York 77

MojoKid writes: Samsung held their Unpacked 2015 event in New York City today and the company unveiled its latest flagship, big-screen smartphones, the Galaxy S6 Edge+ and Galaxy Note5. Immediately following the on-stage presentations and reveals, Samsung opened up a demo area featuring the new devices for direct hands-on time. Both of these phones feature a 5.7-inch Super AMOLED display with a QHD screen resolution (2560x1440), though the sides of the S6 Edge+'s display are curved. Powering the both devices is the the same octal-core Samsung Exynos 7420 processor that's at the heart of the previously-released Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge. These new phones, however, are packing 4GB of RAM—not just 3GB, like the older models and also have LTE Cat9 support and high-speed wireless charging built-in. Samsung has also beefed up the cameras; these new devices pack the same 16MP sensor from the Galaxy S6 with OIS, but an additional digital image stabilization algo which complements the optical solution to further smooth out video is included as well. Built-in software on the new devices also allows for live-streaming to YouTube.
Cellphones

Ask Slashdot: Best Big Battery Phone? 208

An anonymous reader writes: Samsung's announcement today of the Galaxy Note 5 and Galaxy S6+ was a disappointment to a lot of power users. The phones both use a 3,000 mAh, non-removable battery. This is presumably part of Samsung's quest for thinner and thinner phones, but it's bad news for those who prize function over form — particularly from a phone line that is ostensibly made for power users. So, those of you who have the pulse of the mobile industry: what's my best bet for a high end phone that doesn't compromise on battery life? Are there any devices on the horizon that are likely to have big batteries? I'm also wondering if I should just get a cheap phone to tide me over to the next generation of flagships. My current device is old and doesn't have the fast/quick-charge tech that modern ones do — does that work as advertised?
Security

Severe Deserialization Vulnerabilities Found In Android, 3rd Party Android SDKs 105

An anonymous reader writes: Closely behind the discoveries of the Stagefright flaw, the hole in Android's mediaserver service that can put devices into a coma, and the Certifi-gate bug, comes that of an Android serialization vulnerability that affects Android versions 4.3 to 5.1 (i.e. over 55 percent of all Android phones). The bug (CVE-2015-3825), discovered by IBM's X-Force Application Security Research Team in the OpenSSLX509Certificate class in the Android platform, can be used to turn malicious apps with no privileges into "super" apps that will allow cyber attackers to thoroughly "own" the victim's device. In-depth technical details about the vulnerabilities are available in this paper the researchers are set to present at USENIX WOOT '15.
Microsoft

Behind the Microsoft Write-Off of Nokia 200

UnknowingFool writes: Previously Microsoft announced they had written off the Nokia purchase for $7.6B in the last quarter. In doing so, Microsoft would create only the third unprofitable quarter in the company's history. Released on July 31, new financial documents detail some of the reasoning and financials behind this decision. At the core of the problem was that the Phone Hardware business was only worth $116M, after adjusting for costs and market factors. One of those factors was poor sales of Nokia handhelds in 2015. Financially it made more sense to write it all off.
Android

OnePlus Announces OnePlus 2 'Flagship Killer' Android Phone With OxygenOS 154

MojoKid writes: The OnePlus 2 was officially unveiled [Monday] evening and it has been announced that the smartphone will start at an competitively low $329, unlocked and contract free. The entry level price nets you a 5.5" 1080p display, a cooler-running 1.8GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 v2.1 SoC paired with 3GB of RAM, 16GB of internal storage, a 13MP rear camera (with OIS, laser focusing and two-tone flash), 5MP selfie camera, and dual nano SIM slots. If you don't mind handing over an extra $60, you'll receive 4GB of RAM to back the processor and 64GB of internal storage. Besides beefing up the internal specs, OnePlus has also paid some attention to the exterior of the device, giving it a nice aluminum frame and a textured backplate. There are a number of optional materials that you can choose from including wood and Kevlar. Reader dkatana links to InformationWeek's coverage, which puts a bit more emphasis on what the phone doesn't come with: NFC. Apparently, people just don't use it as much as anticipated.
Transportation

Study: Push Notifications As Distracting As Taking a Call 60

itwbennett writes: Researchers at Florida State University have found that simply being aware of a missed call or text can have the same damaging effect on task performance as actually using a mobile phone. 'Although these notifications are short in duration, they can prompt task-irrelevant thoughts, or mind-wandering,' the researchers wrote in their paper. In further bad news for chronic multitaskers, a new study by researchers at the University of Connecticut finds that 'students who multitasked while doing homework had to study longer, and those who frequently multitasked in class had lower grades on average than their peers who multitasked less often.'
Privacy

US Court: 'Pocket-Dialed' Calls Are Not Private 179

itwbennett writes: In a case of a pocket-dialed call, a conscientious secretary, and sensitive personnel issues, a federal appeals court in Ohio has ruled pocket-dialers shouldn't have any expectation of privacy. 'Under the plain-view doctrine, if a homeowner neglects to cover a window with drapes, he would lose his reasonable expectation of privacy with respect to a viewer looking into the window from outside of his property,' the court said. The same applies to pocket-dialed calls, according to the court. If a person doesn't take reasonable steps to keep their call private, their communications are not protected by the Wiretap Act.
Technology

Pocket SCiO Spectrometer Sends Chemical Composition of Anything To Smartphones 82

MojoKid writes: Is that a tricorder in your pocket or are you just happy to see me? All joking aside, the handheld SCiO could truly make you feel like a member Bones McCoy's medical team. The SCiO turns science fiction into science fact by shrinking mass spectrometry technology used in traditional lab settings into a device small enough to fit in the palm of your hand. While pricey handheld spectrometers have been available for researchers, the SCiO is the first such device marketed directly at consumers. To get the SCiO down to a reasonable price point, Consumer Physics uses near-IR spectroscopy and optics typically found in smartphones to measure the light reflected from any given object. Held at a distance of 5 to 15 mm from the intended target, SCiO captures reflected spectrum data and uploads it to its own cloud platform. The company's proprietary algorithms then analyze the data and send the information back down to your smartphone (SCiO require a Bluetooth connection). Reportedly, this whole process occurs within 1.5 seconds. The hope is to empower consumers to learn more about the world around them and even about the things that we put in our mouth. You'll be able to ascertain nutritional information about the foods you eat without having to rely on labels, or even determine the ripeness of fruits and vegetables with the push of a button. The Whole Foods crowd will be all over this, one would think.
Cellphones

Ask Slashdot: Do You Use a Smartphone At Work, Contrary to Policy? 227

Jason McNew writes: I have been in IT since the late '90s, and began a graduate degree in Cyber Security with Penn State two years ago. I have always been interested in how and why users break policies, despite being trained carefully. I have observed the same phenomena even in highly secure government facilities — I watched people take iPhones into highly sensitive government facilities on several occasions. That led me to wonder to what extent the same problem exists in the private sector: Portable Electronic Devices (PEDs) are a huge threat to both security and intellectual property. This question has become the subject of a pilot study I am doing for grad school. So, do you use a smart phone or other PED during work hours, even though you are not supposed to? Please let me know, and I will provide the results in a subsequent submission to Slashdot.
Android

Meet "London," Marshall's First Android Smartphone 67

MojoKid writes: Marshall may be better known for its music equipment, but that isn't stopping the company from bringing a better audio experience to the smartphone market with its London handset. Given its highly customizable nature, it should come as no surprise that London runs Google's Android operating system (Lollipop 5.0.2). The London features dual front-facing speakers, a Wolfson WM8281 sound processor, Bluetooth atpX support, and a gold-tinged scroll wheel on the right side of the device that handle volume control, which Marshall says offers "tactile precision [that] allows you to find that sweet spot of sonic goodness." Once you get past the audio-centric functionality, there's a lot of lower-end hardware under the hood of the London. You'll find a 4.7-inch 720p display, a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 processor with 2GB of RAM, 16GB of internal storage, a microSD slot, LTE connectivity, 8MP rear camera, 2MP front-facing camera, and a removable 2500 mAh battery. In other words, those specs make the London more in line with the Moto G.