Freephone sounds like it should be free, but at the moment, if you call a freephone number from a mobile, you could be charged through the nose. Now Ofcom have announced that Freephone will mean free, even if you’re not using a BT landline (and let’s face it, who does?).That means calls to 0800, 0808 and 116 numbers won’t incur any hidden charges from June 2015.
And if you’re calling a premium rate line, like an 08, 09 or 118 number, you’ll get a proper breakdown of your rates. At the moment, the recorded message will only tell you your call rate from a BT landline. That’s because mobile companies add on varying ‘access charges’. So when you call a premium rate number, you usually get the vague caveat that ‘calls from a mobile could cost more.’ Who knows how much? It is written in the wind (and usually on your astronomical monthly bill).
Ofcom say that now you’ll hear a message along the lines of: ‘Calls will cost XX pence per minute, plus your phone company’s access charge.’ That way if your provider piles on massive access charges, then you can find out and you have more CONSUMER CHOICE. Which is what we like.
Also, in even better news, call charges to premium rate numbers will be capped. So if you accidentally sit on your handset and phone the I’m A Celebrity Voting line for three hours, you won’t have to remortage your house to pay your phone bill.
Now all they have to do is bring back Tom Baker as the landline text message voice, and we’re laughing.
Here’s something a bit worrying – every one of the top 100 paid Android apps and just over half (56%) of the top 100 paid Apple iOS apps have been hacked, according to research. In comparison to last year’s research, compromised free Android apps has gone down to 73% from 80%, but increased in free Apple apps, up to 53% from 40%.
The research by Arxan Technologies also revealed hacking among high-risk apps, like finance apps. Basically, its all very widespread, with Arxan finding that 53% of the Android financial apps were cracked, with iOS finance apps figures at 23%.
“The widespread use of ‘cracked’ apps represents a real and present danger given the explosion of smartphone and tablet use in the workplace and home,” said Arxan CTO Kevin Morgan. “Not only is IP theft costing software stakeholders millions of dollars every year, but unprotected apps are vulnerable to tampering, either through installed malware or through decompiling and reverse engineering – enabling hackers to analyse code and target core security or business logic that is protecting or enabling access to sensitive corporate data.”
Pirated versions of popular apps are available and researchers found that some had been downloaded more than half a million times, which means the problem is most certainly a big one.
“The challenge for greater mobile application security remains significant,” said Morgan.
So, what needs to happen? Arxan says that: “All Android applications that process sensitive information assets must be hardened against binary-level integrity or reverse-engineering attacks before deployment” while “mobile applications with a high-risk profile (Android, iOS or other mobile platform) must be capable of defending themselves against static or dynamic analysis at runtime and be made tamper-resistant.”
Should mobiles be more explicit in their attempts to get us to use anti-virus software while the phone is fresh out of the box? More needs to be done as smartphones grow in popularity.
There’s always stories knocking around about smartphones catching fire. Now, again, there’s a report about a Samsung Galaxy S4. A YouTube user – Ghostlyrich – posted a video showing his S4 catching fire.
In response to this, Samsung said they would replace the handset, provided the video was removed from YouTube. Seems a bit heavy-handed when, with a little TLC, they could’ve come out of the incident looking like kindly aunts.
With that, Ghostlyrich has responded with another video showing fire damage to his phone. Samsung’s (alleged, lawyers) letter has also been stuck online too (have a look here).
This ties-in with another report earlier this year when an S4 exploded and burnt a house down in Hong Kong while the user was holding his device. See here for that story.
There have been stories about iPhones exploding and electrocuting people too (although most Apple problems arise from the use of third-party chargers.
In short, if you own a phone, might be worth buying a fire extinguisher.
Despite Apple announcing that they don’t like people spying on their customers, it seems they have some spying of their own to do as they switch on the iBeacon system across 254 stores. This network lets Apple watch their customers as they shop in Apple stores so they can send them targeted, specific message depending on where they are stood.
So, if you’re wandering past some iPads, you phone will kick into action and start telling you all about the products you haven’t bought. It does this by using iBeacon transmitters which utilise Bluetooth to figure out your exact location.
If you’ve got the Apple Store app, you’ve already agreed to let them track your whereabouts. It seems that this isn’t going to be solely used in stores though as this will work with any building that has iBeacon.
They say this offers “a whole new level of micro-location awareness, such as trail markers in a park, exhibits in a museum, or product displays in stores”.
So, if you don’t like the idea of Apple sending you messages you don’t want, all you have to do is turn off your location services. It may mean other apps don’t work as well, but at least you won’t be watched from afar by Cupertino & Co.
Dropping your phone, cracking the screen and generally buggering things up are a pain. However, thanks to a new smartphone airbag system from Honda, that could all change.
It is called the Smartphone Case N and envelopes your phone with six different airbags while it is falling.
Of course, if this went off in your pocket, it would look like you were wearing ‘Trust-Me Trousers’ from Chris Morris’ ‘Brass Eye’ special, which no-one wants.
Mercifully, this Smartphone Case N is an idea from Honda’s marketing team promoting cars, so you’re not likely to get the chance to buy this in person.
The American Patent and Trademark Office awarded Apple U.S. Patent No. 8,600,120 for “Personal computing device control using face detection and recognition,” which is all a bit sci-fi.
According to the document, face detection and recognition are two different things where detection involves locating faces within an image, while recognition goes further by pairing stored faces with a particular user.
Apple’s patent is made up of three separate systems: a face detection decision application; a face recognition application; and an input/output control application. All three work together so it can detect whether a user is authorised to operate the device in question.
Using your skin tone and features, it’ll also crate a vector of your face and use that for security purposes. So while one bit of the programme may detect a face through a sensor, it’ll then have to work out if it knows your face or not, which will then unlock the phone (or not). So, if someone steals your phone, it will ostensibly be useless as it won’t be able to recognise any stranger trying to use it.
The patent also says that this technology could recognise a user’s face over a period of time, ‘learning’ your face as it goes along. Of course, the new PS4 and Xbox One have similar things in place which use technology that is not unlike Apple’s patent and Apple themselves recently purchased PrimeSense, a motion-sensing hardware and software firm behind Microsoft’s first Kinect sensor.
Apple do make pretty robust programmes, so it’ll be very interesting to see what they do with this. Also, it gives them the chance to take loads of people to court all the time, so it’s win-win for them.
It’s time for phase two of EE’s 4G rollout, and this time the big switch (sadly not turned on by Bob Carolgees and Peter Andre in a dismal shopping centre) has lit up 10 new UK towns with super fast internet.
They are…*drumroll* Bath, Bournemouth, Cambridge, Darlington, Newcastle-under Lyme, Northampton, Poole, Portsmouth and…..REDCAR ba-dum-tish! They plan to increase the 4G service to a total of 160 towns before Christmas, so that everyone can enjoy a faster download speed for all their festive porn.
So the next rollout will take place in the next couple of weeks, and include such sexy hotspots as Grimsby, Ipswich and Swindon. EE CEO Olaf Swantee (too many eees, man) said: ‘That’s the fastest rollout of 4G in Europe, and with well over one million people already using the service, one of the most successful too.’
OK, Olaf, calm down.
But perhaps EE are entitled to show off a little bit. After all, some mobile providers, like the useless phone donkeys Three, are only just launching the service. Others have only managed coverage in big cities. And nobody is matching EE’s new trial of the speedier LTE advanced network, with download speeds of 300Mbps.
EEEEEE! Scream if you wanna go faster…
It takes a lot to be banned in the UK – even Nigel Farage and Nick Griffin are free to walk the streets, drinking pints and inciting hatred. But there’s been no such lenience for the naughty HTC One Mini phone, which has been the subject of a mega ongoing lawsuit from Finnish company Nokia.
Nokia claim that HTC nicked patented technology from them, and a UK judge has decided that Nokia are right –so the product is now effectively banned. The hardware has been described as a ‘modular structure for a transmitter and a mobile station’, for which HTC failed to obtain a licence.
HTC (now an acronym for Holy Titting Crap) were beside themselves because the HTC One Mini is their flagship phone, and there will literally be no sales of it in the UK.
However, there is some relief for the firm, as Judge Richard Arnold has delayed a similar injunction on the HTC One, which is still on sale. That’s to protect their business interests in the short term, while simultaneously slapping them on the wrist.
Even so, HTC have vowed to appeal the decision and deny that they’re dirty stealing tramps. Meanwhile, we can only assume that the HTC One Mini will become something of a collectors item – a holy grail thing, like a shiny Panini sticker or a Star Trek Pog.
In Google’s latest Android OS – KitKat – there’s a list of words they don’t want you to use. The usual swears are in their, but there’s other words that are also banned (not banned wholly – you can change the settings and add any word you like into the dictionary) which make Google look really quite peculiar.
So where to start? Of course, the big swear words and anything homophobic or misogynistic is straight into the censored bin, but also, medical terms for genitalia as well as the rather niche ‘gonadatrophia’, whatever that is. Typically, there are far more words Android doesn’t like pertaining to women’s junk compared to men’s.
On that note, Android doesn’t like the rather innocent “intercourse”. It also doesn’t like the painfully sweet “lovemaking” or “coitus” either.
The list comes in at just over 1,400 English words, which bafflingly includes “geek” and “preggers”. And don’t think about typing “braless” or “Tampax” either, because they are also included on Google’s Mary Whitehouse list. It also doesn’t like the word “condom” either, which seems oddly protestant.
It isn’t just biological chat either. Google seem to have a policy on the word “morphine” and “demerol” (yet “methamphetamine” is completely fine). Strangest of all is that some of Google’s own products are censored. Try and tap “Chromebook” or “AdMob” in and you’ll get no help, whereas “iPhone” is completely fine.
Have Google gone a bit Puritan?
Good news! If your phone gets nicked and the perpetrators use it to call their gangster pals in Serbia, or decide to Shazam everything and upload snuff movies onto it, you won’t be hit with a large bill.
The government has reached an agreement with four mobile phone companies – EE, Three, Virgin Media and Vodaphone – to put a cap on bills from stolen mobile phones from next Spring.
If you’ve reported your phone lost or stolen, there will be a £50 limit on bills. Also, phone providers will have to behave themselves when it comes to mid contract price rises. Customers will be able to decide to cancel their contract without any charges if their provider announces a price hike – following a ruling from Ofcom.
It’s all part of what the Government likes to sensationally call ‘the great mobile phone rip off.’ As announced earlier in the year, mobile providers must also work with the EU to end data roaming charges by 2016.
These days, if a Tory minister doesn’t mention ‘hardworking families’ in a speech, they’ll be jolly well egged and chucked into the River Cam without a punt. And Culture Secetrary Maria Miller didn’t disappoint.
‘We are ensuring hardworking families are not hit with shock bills through no fault of their own. Families can be left struggling if carefully planned budgets are blown away by unexpected bills from a stolen mobile or a mid-contract price rise. This agreement with the telecoms companies will deliver real benefits to consumers and help ensure people are not hit with shock bills.’
The iPhone 5C might be cheaper and come in pretty colours, but the iPhone 5S is outselling it by three to one in the UK. It seems that it takes more than some hackysack-playing hipsters waving neon yellow phones around to woo us.
Criticised as ‘unashamedly plastic’, the iPhone 5C has gone down as well as Rob Chubby Brown at a feminist rally. But it seems we’re not really buying either model in our droves. According to analysts Kantar, Apple’s market share slipped in the third quarter of the year from 32.7% in 2012 to a more modest 28.7%.
Kantar think that because there aren’t that many exciting new features on the 5S or 5C models that we’re saving our pennies for the arrival of the iPhone 6. They added: ‘This is not wholly unexpected as shoppers tend to react more positively to full releases than incremental improvements such as the 5S and 5C.’
But Apple will be pleased that the iPhone 5C has been a hit in the US, with many customers switching from other brands, rather than upgrading an existing iPhone. But it seems that in Blighty, we’re happy to pay more for a better product, cos we’ve got class and that.
*wipes nose on sleeve*
Schmidt says that an Android phone will make a lovely Christmas present for someone with an Apple device and they’ll need tips on how to use Google’s OS and how to transfer contacts and the like.
Schmidt says, on his G+ account (which is why no-one has seen it), that loads of his “iPhone friends are converting to Android. The latest high-end phones from Samsung (Galaxy S4), Motorola (Verizon Droid Ultra) and the Nexus 5 (for AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile) have better screens, are faster, and have a much more intuitive interface.”
‘Eric’s Guide: Converting to Android from iPhone’ continues: “Some general advice - Be sure to use Chrome, not Safari; its safer and better in so many ways. And it’s free.”
The last time Schmidt said Google was more secure than Apple, he drew hoots of derision, but he’s sticking to his guns, regardless of the fact that everyone’s been told not to expect any privacy with Gmail.
Are you going to be trying to persuade an iPhone user to switch to Android this Christmas?
Samsung have a new ad promoting their S Pen, and one billboard – apparently put up in France – has raised a few eyebrows.
Samsung changed the old adage “The pen is mightier than the sword” to “The pen is mightier than the finger.” However, in what is either a glorious error or a bit of nifty photoshopping by some prankster, we end up with a rather different message.