Argos dole out budget tablet and mobile

January 22nd, 2015 1 Comment By Mof Gimmers

argos logo 300x230 Argos dole out budget tablet and mobileRemember Bush? No, not the fella who ran America even though, remarkably, he had less braincells than Reagan – the people who used to make tape-eating stereos? Well, they owned wholly by Argos these days and together, they’ve developed , two devices which they say are ‘budget-beating’.

Argos will sell them for just £49.99 and £79.99 and both devices will run on Android, obviously.

The cheaper model is a mobile that has a 4-inch display, 4GB of internal storage and a 5-megapixel camera. It’ll have interchangeable covers too. The more expensive device has a slightly larger 5-inch display and 8GB of internal storage.

Argos mobile phone buyer, Nick Clarke, said “The new Bush smartphone is the answer for technology beginners or digital veterans on a budget. Affordable and easy to use, people can use these phones for both their work and personal life as it holds two SIM cards, making it one of the most flexible smartphones on the market.”

There’ll also be a 4G enabled Alcatel OneTouch Pop 2 device too, selling for £99.95 and SIM-free, which also has a ‘power bank’ back-up for when your battery is running low.

In addition to all that, Bush will be selling tablets as well as mobiles, with one of them having an 8 inch screen and a slightly bigger version with a 10-inch screen. The MyTablets will also run on Android.

Things are heating up in the budget technology stakes!

Watch you don’t get hacked by WhatsApp Plus

January 22nd, 2015 2 Comments By Mof Gimmers

whatsapp Watch you dont get hacked by WhatsApp PlusHave you been using an app called WhatsApp Plus? Well, stop that at once! You see, WhatsApp have banned some users from using the app for 24 hours because it is a third party application and it violates the ‘terms of service’.

WhatsApp have asked their users to uninstall WhatsApp+ and install the authorised version of WhatsApp from official website or Google Play if they want to resume normal service. This other app isn’t related to WhatsApp, which means it has code that isn’t supported by the company and, worse still, if you get hacked and your details and photos leak, they won’t be taking any responsibility for it.

So if you’ve been sending photos of your junk to people through this third party app, you’re asking for trouble.

WhatsApp are treating the Plus app as malware and, in their FAQ section, they’ve said: “WhatsApp Plus is an application that was not developed by WhatsApp, nor is it authorised by WhatsApp. The developers of WhatsApp Plus have no relationship to WhatsApp, and we do not support WhatsApp Plus. Please be aware that WhatsApp Plus contains source code which WhatsApp cannot guarantee as safe and that your private information is potentially being passed to 3rd parties without your knowledge or authorization.”

In short – stop using it, alright? Good.

Windows 10 is (nearly) here!

January 22nd, 2015 2 Comments By Ian Wade

windows 10 300x199 Windows 10 is (nearly) here!Microsoft have announced details of Windows 10! And it looks like they may have got their act back together.

First up: THE START MENU IS BACK. Finally!

They’ve made it a proper cross platform affair, so that whether you’re using a desktop, laptop, phone or tablet, the apps will run across all of them. Even holograms!

That’s right – with Microsoft Holographic, it’ll allow you to overlay digital images into the real world via a special headset, and should also be compatible with Google Glass (Good news, you 12 people!) and Occulus Rift

The key news with No.10 is that Windows Phone assistant Cortana will now be loaded into the desktop system. So now you can literally talk to your computer now as she’s built into your search. Nice to have a friend at last.

The other main attraction is Project Spartan, it’s a web browser that has a minimalist user interface but with various features, the key feature is killing off Explorer. You can now “freeze” web pages and annotate with either text or just doodling obscene images with your finger or a stylus and you’ll be able to save them to read offline and even set up a reading mode which help make various sites easier to read, a bit like Amazon’s Silk browser.

And finally, Xbox is going to be more integrated into Windows 10, with Xbox apps contained in each device. Appswise, they’ve made it where Office and Outlook and all that will work the same way on all your devices.

A new feature called Continuum will automatically switch an app into fullscreen tablet mode if it detects there’s no keyboard attached. Then, it’ll offer to return if you hook one up.

CEO Satya Nadella said of No.10 at the launch event: “Windows 10 is built for a world where everything is digitally mediated. It’s not just a checklist of features, it’s a design sensibility. We want people to love Windows on a daily basis.”

‘Love’.

But don’t start queuing up just yet, Windows 10 is still a few months off, but frankly when you have a holographic doodah, you’re gonna want to let people know about it.

Is your iPhone spying on you for governments?

January 22nd, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

sad apple logo Is your iPhone spying on you for governments?Edward Snowden – the NSA whistleblower – is making some bold claims again, this time, saying that Apple’s iPhones have built-in spy software that can be used to track you. That’s some bad PR for Apple if it turns out to be true, eh?

Snowden’s lawyer says that this software can be activated without the user knowing, and remotely.

“Edward never uses an iPhone, he’s got a simple phone,” says Anatoly Kucherena. “The iPhone has special software that can activate itself without the owner having to press a button and gather information about him, that’s why on security grounds he refused to have this phone.”

Of course, this is at odds with Apple’s recent campaigns to improve privacy for users. You may recall Apple saying that it would be nigh-on impossible for government officials to get personal data from those using iOS 8. Apple have also pushed for stronger privacy protection policies, along with a number of other big tech firms.

According to the Independent, the NSA have published documents that reveal how GCHQ (the British intelligent agency) used this software in the iPhone – known as its UDID – to keep tabs on some people. These documents don’t refer to specific spyware, but there might be more documents on the way.

Kucherena did note that, while Edward Snowden doesn’t use an iPhone, if you want to, no-one is stopping you. Very kind of him that.

Wireless charging at Starbucks

January 21st, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

starbucks logo 300x300 Wireless charging at StarbucksJust like McDonald’s, Starbucks are going to start offering wireless charging for customers, or people who are just sneaking in pretending to be customers, but really having a sly poo.

To start with, only 10 Starbucks in the UK will be offering wireless charging by the end of January, but you suspect they’ll roll it out further.

Now, there’s a few different types of wireless charging portals and Starbucks have decided to go with Powermat, which means you have to plug in an adapter to their phone. If there’s a plug socket available, you could just plug it into the mains and be done with it.

If not, you can buy one of the ring-shaped devices for £10. It only makes sense to do that if you spend a lot of time in a Starbucks, which a good number of folk do. The rest meanwhile, can be found muttering about taxes and inflating the cost of a Starbucks brew for comedic value while slagging them off.

If you have an adapter, you place your phone on one of the specially equipped tables and like magic, you’ll get some juice for your phone. We can already sense the in-store leaflets, tittering about how these things are like an espresso for your mobile.

Ian Cranna, vice president of marketing and category at Starbucks, said: “We have always tried to anticipate our customers’ needs and innovate with technology to provide even more convenience. Our partnership with Powermat demonstrates Starbucks response to an increasing need to stay connected whilst on the go.”

The first ten cafes will be at Princes Street, Kingsway, Wardour Street, Pentonville Road, Harewood Place, Berkeley Street, Great Portland Street, Moorgate, Fleet Street, and Euston Tower.

All in London then.

zzzw EE customers to share £1m refund after VAT kerfuffleSeveral EE customers are due a windfall refund of around £1 million. Not each, mind.

The EE customers were those who went outside of the EU and used internet data between October 2012 and October 2014 are affected – about 0.5% of EE’s total customers.

EE told the BBC that the cash was never EE’s and that the overcharges went straight to Revenue & Customs. Customers affected can expected refunds from about £2 to £80 per customer.

Spokesman David Nieberg said: “Due to a configuration error in our billing system, made following a system change, a small number of customers were wrongly charged VAT on the Data Roaming bundle outside of Europe.”

“This was a mistake, and we are now refunding these charges and contacting affected customers to apologise for the error.”

He added: “We’ve claimed that money back from HMRC, and then it goes back to the customers.”

Customers affected by the error are being contacted via text message and told the amount they are owed, and any former customers who believe they may be eligible have been told to contact customer services.

Ofcom looking into 5G becoming a thing by 2020

January 19th, 2015 No Comments By Ian Wade

5G 300x251 Ofcom looking into 5G becoming a thing by 2020Ofcom are looking into the feasibility of 5G becoming very much a thing.

The regulator is seeing how the technology will work and how it will be delivered, just as people are starting to get themselves used to 4G.

It would mean such giddy developments as holographic projection, which would be a boon* (*fad) for gaming and trading and entertainment solutions. 5G would see such speeds up to 50 Gbit/s, according to Ofcom, which is more than 3,000 times quicker than the average 4G download speed in the UK.

Steve Unger, Ofcom acting chief executive said: “We want the UK to be a leader in the next generation of wireless communications. No network has infinite capacity, but we need to move closer to the ideal of there always being sufficient capacity to meet consumers’ needs.”

Ofcom wants to set up the UK’s infrastructure to be able to carry 5G by seeking which sections of the airwaves would be able to be used. They’ve identified the spectrum above 6 GHz as potentially useful as it is not popular with mainstream television and mobile services given difficulties in carrying conventional communications.

Ideally, Ofcom say they’d like to have it out by 2020, which is not worth holding your breath for really. Either way, just imagine how fast you’ll be able to download dirty pictures to your phone while you’re on the bog at work!

Three to buy O2 for £9 BILLION?

January 19th, 2015 4 Comments By Mof Gimmers

three1 300x292 Three to buy O2 for £9 BILLION?Get this! Three owner Hutchison Whampoa (yep) is all set to try and takeover O2 with a very large bid indeed! In what will be a huge merger, O2 owner Telefonica will be offered a whopping £9 billion.

Not to be sniffed at.

This seems to be the order of the day as BT were tabling a bid of £12.5 billion for EE, and they were also eyeing up O2 as well.

If this bid is successful, the unified Three and O2 network would be the largest in the UK, leaving us all will only three major mobile players, alongside EE and Vodafone. Madness. Absolute madness.

Hutchinson has previous in this area too, as it bought O2 Ireland in 2013 in a €780 million deal. If they have friends in the O2 boardroom, this is a deal that could go through reasonably quickly.

If O2 and Three merge their masts too, then Three would reach their target of 98% coverage in the UK without having to do much building work and the like. Very clever.

Of course, no-one has made an official statement yet, but the rumours are loud and strong, so there’s going to be more on this in the coming weeks.

Twitter Logo1 Twitter hits the road, offering you big fat lineTwitter is going on a worldwide tour!

The social network braindump is travelling the globe in a bid to encourage developers to build apps using Twitter data. This follows last year’s announcement that Twitter were launching a mobile devlopment platform called Fabric, which is supposed to make it easy for developers to create their own apps.

Fabric features a suite of tools that enable developers to monitor the stability of their apps, embed streams of tweets, verify users’ identities using phone number sign-in, and monetise their apps via the MoPub platform. Money! Everyone likes money.

Twitter will be roaming Earth offering all of these tools to developers for free, and making it extremely simple for developers to embed them into their apps.

Already, the likes of Spotify, McDonalds and the Wall Street Journal have come aboard using elements of Fabric to improve their performance and engagement.

There’ll be a series of half-day events in cities around the world, including London, Berlin, New York, Tokyo, Seoul, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Bangalore and Sao Paolo. The London event will be on February 19th.

Twitter’s director of mobile platform Jeff Siebert said: “The mobile market is very much dominated by Apple iOS and Google Android. Where we’re different is we want to look across both of them, and we’re hoping to provide the tools that solve developer challenges no matter what platform they’re developing for.”

The company has also announced its first worldwide startup contest, called Hatch, which gives winners the opportunity to meet with potential investors and win cash to fund their projects.

“Our goal is to make developing apps as an individual as easy and powerful as if you have a large development team at a big enterprise,” said Siebert. ”While we obviously care about the big brands, our passion is enabling these small independent developers to build equally incredible experiences with just a few lines of code.”

Everybody can have incredible experiences with a few lines of… oh sorry, they said CODE.

Deathwatch: Google Glass

January 16th, 2015 No Comments By Ian Wade

google glass Deathwatch: Google GlassGoogle Glass is no more. Or at least the first phase of it anyway.

Which will be great news for the beleagured supermarket chain that’s just released an app with them, eh?

Google have admitted that the whole Glass thing isn’t really happening, and has decided to halt sales of its specs. They’ve said that they are committed to unveiling some form of eyewear at some point, but the current model is to be no more.

The uptake has been slow to say to least, as people decided they didn’t want to look a bit Borg-y, but after an initial roll out in 2013 and in the UK in 2014, the mass rollout didn’t happen. So Google have stopped taking orders as of January 19th.

Google Glass was also one of the big wearable tech launches, and so it will be interesting to see how all the rest fare in the coming months.

Google said it would still offer support to companies that already use Glass, which is kind of them. Maybe for the next push, they might consider making them less expensive?

BT face new restrictions on broadband access

January 15th, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

bt logo BT face new restrictions on broadband accessOfcom are after BT again, this time regarding new restrictions on their superfast broadband pricing.

Other companies, such as Sky and TalkTalk have to buy access to the BT network so they can provide the service to customers. There’s been complaints and Ofcom have been looking into whether or not BT are squeezing margins against competitors, and if it looks like they’ve been up to no good, BT will either have to raise their prices to be in-line with their rivals, or drop their wholesale costs.

The regulator’s ew rules would be to ensure that other companies are able to make a reasonable profit and maintain competition in the sector.

Ofcom, intitally, think that BT aren’t operating a margin squeeze and said: “Therefore, the condition is a safeguard which limits BT’s ability to reduce retail margins in future, and ensures that any increases in BT’s costs must be reflected in its prices.”

Naturally, BT have been fighting these new rules, in particular, Ofcom’s decision to include the cost of BT Sport, which goes into hundreds of millions of pound per year, when totting up BT’s costs of providing superfast broadband to their own customer base. However, Ofcom argue that, because the TV channels are given free to broadband customers, these costs need to be included.

Not only that, if BT start doing mobile offers bundled in with broadband, then they’ll need to be taken into consideration too. With BT completing their £12.5bn acquisition of EE, there’s a lot to take into account.

If the decision goes against BT, then they’ve got a ‘stick or twist’ decision to make by making things more expensive for customers or rival businesses.

Spotify subscriptions are up!

January 14th, 2015 No Comments By Ian Wade

spotify logo Spotify subscriptions are up!Spotify have revealed that they’ve recruited 15 million subscribers in 2014. The streaming effort also revealed that it had 60 million active users as the year ended.

Not bad eh?

The blog on their site failed to go into much more detail as to where and who was subscribing, but it suggests that the bulk of the gain happened in the second half of the year.

Paying subscribers make up around 25% of the Spotify user base, with most of the growth coming from mobile devices – 42% on phones and 10% on tablets – with old school desktops providing 45% and 3% on the web player.

Spotify’s mobile explosion validates its decision to offer users free access to its streaming catalogue on IOS and Android smartphones and tablets late 2013 for the first time.

And this was after Taylor Swift took her back catalogue off the service too.

It’s all set to get interesting in 2015 though, with Apple’s Beats Music, Pandora and Google Play muscling in more and more into Spotify’s manor and, of course, simultaneously, there’s a vinyl revival afoot too! The heat is on.

Crazy Chinese people news now, and a man has been arrested after trying to smuggle 94 iPhones into China. You might not think that this is mental at all…

…but this man tried to do it by strapping them on to his body, of course.

smuggler 500x310 Man tapes 94 iPhones on his body to smuggle into China

The man caught the attention of inspectors at the Futian crossing in Shenzhen, a southern Chinese metropolis bordering Hong Kong,  who noticed the gent was walking a little funny carrying a couple of carrier bags, and was waved through when there was nothing suspicious found in the bags.

However, when he went through the metal detector, the alarms went off and he was busted.

Photos released by customs show dozens of neatly shrink-wrapped shiny iPhones strapped around the man’s chest, abdomen, crotch and thighs with duct tape. Dude clearly went to some right effort.

iPhones are quite the thing in China, with consumers going nuts for the gadget ahead of the launch of iPhone 6 last year. Apple handsets are also more expensive in the mainland than Hong Kong, due to higher import taxes. Fr’instance, an iPhone 6 with 64 gigabytes of storage, sells for almost $1,000 in the mainland but only about $820 in Hong Kong, hence a bit of a black market has sprung up.

This isn’t the first case of iPhone smuggling the authorities have seen, Shenzhen customs officials disclosed that they have caught 18 mules strapping smuggled electronic products – including 282 iPhones – on, or in their bodies since December.

One can only applaud the audacity and madness of the man who thought “Yeah. 94 iPhones strapped on my body. That’ll work. NO ONE WILL SUSPECT A THING”.

But in Mandarin obviously.

EE gain millions of new customers thanks to 4G

January 12th, 2015 1 Comment By Ian Wade

zzzw EE gain millions of new customers thanks to 4GEE have announced that they’ve gained 5.7 million 4G customers in 2014. Blimey.

Admittedly the Orange and T-Mobile merger added most of that figure before the launch of the EE TV service, and that helped EE pull in a further 1.7 million subscribers in the final two months of the year.

So now EE’s 4G user base is 7.7 million users, covering around 80% of the UK, after it expanded its super-fast mobile broadband to an additional 350 cities and towns during 2014, and is aiming to cover 98% of the population by the end of this year.

There will be no escape.

This follows last month’s news that BT were sniffing around trying to shove £12.5 billion into EE’s thong.

However, EE has smashed their target of 6 million handsomely, as well as gaining more new users than any other European network. Of course, that won’t stop people complaining about their service on social media, but EE’s bosses can’t hear as they’ve now stuffed £50 notes into their ears.

Apple to whack prices up on the App Store

January 9th, 2015 1 Comment By Mof Gimmers

apple pay 300x169 Apple to whack prices up on the App StoreApple will be sticking the prices up on all the apps in the App Store. They told developers that “prices on the App Store will increase for all territories in the European Union as well as in Canada and Norway, decrease in Iceland, and change in Russia. These changes are being made to account for adjustments in value-added tax (VAT) rates and foreign exchange rates.”

So, good news if you live in Iceland. Rubbish news for everyone else. The price increase will happen “within the next 36 hours”.

What this means is that developers don’t have the option to pick the price they want for Apps. Now, they’ll be given a series of tiers to choose from.

Prices could increase further, with a bigger discrepancy between European and American prices, which is annoying. If you’re really eager to save some pennies, then those apps you’ve been weighing-up – buy them now.

The price increases won’t be huge (a couple of pence here and there), but there’s sure to be some grievances being aired as one country gets exactly the same thing than another.