Ikea’s furniture that charges your mobile

March 2nd, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

ikea Ikeas furniture that charges your mobileIkea have hit on a novel idea and, typically, they’re putting it into action. They’ll be selling a load of desks, lamps and tables that’ll charge your mobile wirelessly (and tablets etc, obviously).

This new range will utilise Qi wireless technology to charge your devices which have been put on (or near) the special bits of furniture.

“Through research and home visits, we know that people hate cable mess. They worry about not finding the charger and running out of power,” said Ikea’s business area manager of lighting and wireless charging, Jeanette Skjelmose. “Our new innovative solutions, which integrate wireless charging into home furnishings, will make life at home simpler.”

You’ll be able to buy the charging furniture under the Home Spot range and they’ll be getting rolled out across Europe and North America in April. Getting them in the stores globally will follow that.

The good thing about this, is that Ikea are often copied, which means that all the other furniture floggers and homeware vendors will be eyeing all this up. That means, if you’re wanting something that isn’t the traditional plug, which gives your devices some juice, then there’s going to be a lot of activity soon.

Emoji get more diverse

February 25th, 2015 1 Comment By Mof Gimmers

emoji middle finger 300x300 Emoji get more diverseThere’s been complaints that emoji aren’t exactly inclusive, but that’s all about to change. This, no doubt, will prompt a load of tutting from people who a) Never see what the fuss is about because they’re fine or b) People who swear at the mere mention of emoji.

There’s another set of people who shudder because they didn’t realise that their Samsung phone was making them have a large phone bill for sending texts with emoji in them.

Anyway, 300 more are being added to the iOS 8.3 keyboard and include a whole host of differently coloured faces and whatnot. Good news for those that have been wishing for it and taking absolutely nothing away from those that didn’t.

There’s more too. There will be more options for relationships and gadgets. That means there’s going to be some same-sex emoji available for use and, because this is Apple, they’ve created an iPhone 6 and an Apple Watch icons. There’s going to be a load of new flags added too, which is nice for vexillologists.

“Apple supports and cares deeply about diversity, and is working with The Unicode Consortium to update the standard so that it better represents diversity for all of us,” said an Apple spokesperson.

And here, we have some of the more more diverse emoji, c/o Apple.

Emojis diverse 500x281 Emoji get more diverse

If you’re wondering about the skin tones, they’re apparently based on something called the Fitzpatrick Classification scale, which was founded by dermatologist Thomas Fitzpatrick at Harvard Medical School in 1975. The yellow emoji is supposed to be the standard, just-like-the-old-emoji-and-therefore-aren’t-meant-to-be-human-coloured, just in case you were wondering.

google plus logo Google, Apple and Samsung are fighting over your walletsGoogle are revamping their Google Wallet service, upping their game to take on Samsung and Apple to make the battle for your money a three-way dogfight. Well, if you don’t include all the other companies that is.

Anyway, Wallet is getting improved and incorporating Softcard (which used to be called Isis Mobile Wallet, which would’ve been interesting if it were still called that in today’s climate) and in the States, will be a joint venture between AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless. Similar deals are being worked on in a number of other markets and Wallet, of course, is already installed on loads of Android handsets, so look out for updates.

Google clearly want to take-on Apple Pay and the search giant’s announcement makes particular reference to the “tap and pay functionality” of Wallet, meaning that this is a move to make Android fans take their NFC app seriously, after years of indifference.

Seeing as AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile had previously blocked Wallet on their phones, this teaming-up means that the new platform is going to be more robust than previous efforts.

Of course, only last week, Samsung bought into LoopPay, which means there could be a scrap between the mobile maker and Google, which is a problem that Apple don’t have.

However, with the UK being rather slow to embrace NFC payments, Google might hold out to see what Apple do first. With contactless payments being increased, things could get going sooner, rather than later.

Samsung’s Galaxy S6 – a curved affair

February 23rd, 2015 2 Comments By Mof Gimmers

Even though Samsung aren’t ready to actually unveil the new Galaxy S6, an image of it has appeared on the internet. With this not being an Apple phone, the level of salivating is greatly reduced as Android users tend to be a bit more lowkey about new handsets.

The new device is going to be officially announced next week, but T-Mobile CEO, John Legere, tweeted a link to the S6. When you get to the page, you’re greeted with this image.

galaxy s6 500x281 Samsungs Galaxy S6   a curved affair

So what does all this mean?

Well, it does look like the handset will be a curved affair, as seen with a previous Samsung release – the Note Edge. The difference this time is that it is thought the curve will be on both sides of the thing.

note edge 500x375 Samsungs Galaxy S6   a curved affair

One good thing is that Samsung appear to have edged away from the fake leather and horrible plastic, with a rear made out of metal.

Gathering up the online rumours and confirmed reports, the Galaxy S6 will have an improved processing chip which will be faster and use less battery, which is useful. There’s also news that there’s going to be some wireless charging going on, as well as something that Samsung describe as a new “amazing” camera feature.

Samsung’s DongHoon Jang has vowed that this is “the future of cameras”, which is a rather bold claim, adding that the S6 “will be intelligent and do all the thinking for users, allowing them to take amazing pictures under any conditions, without having to worry about anything more than just pressing the shutter button.”

Hmmmm. Either way, this new phone has got to be better than the S5 which was met with a thorough ‘meh’ from the world.

UK & US intelligence illegally hack SIM cards

February 20th, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

sim cards petr kratochvil pd 300x168 UK & US intelligence illegally hack SIM cardsAmerican and British intelligence agencies have been up to no good. They’ve been hacking, illegally, into SIM cards to steal codes so they can try to listen in on people’s calls, according to reports.

This, like all scary spy and surveillance news, has trickled out from the infamous former American intelligence contractor, Edward Snowden.

Spies hacked the SIMs of a company called Gemalto who, as you can imagine, are pretty furious about all this as they operate in 85 different countries and they’d rather not be thought of as complicit in all of this.

The Intercept are calling this “the great Sim heist” and that surveillance agencies were given “the potential to secretly monitor a large portion of the world’s cellular communications, including both voice and data”. Some of the mobile networks that are clients of Gemalto include T-Mobile, AT&T, Verizon and “some 450 wireless network providers around the world”.

The source also claims that this hack was organised by Britain’s GCHQ and America’s NSA and that, the hack resulted in the ability to unscramble calls, texts and emails from the decode data that is flung through the air between phones and cell towers. It has also been claimed that Gemalto employees were cyber-stalked and their emails were tapped into so agencies could steal encryption keys.

A Gemalto spokeswoman said: “We take this publication very seriously and will devote all resources necessary to fully investigate and understand the scope of such highly sophisticated techniques to try to obtain Sim card data.”

Google to let you build your own phone from March

February 16th, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

google plus logo Google to let you build your own phone from MarchHave you ever wanted to build your own customisable mobile phone? Most of you are probably quite happy to simply buy one that is ready-made, but Google see a future in having phones that are built by you, so your phone can be filled with things that you want.

They’re going to unveil such a thing at the upcoming Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2015 in Barcelona, giving the world the first proper look at their modular mobiles.

This is all part of a thing called Project Ara and Toshiba are in on it too, developing a 5 megapixel camera module for Google’s Spiral 2, which is a phone that allows you to swap modules and gives you flexibility on what hardware your phone has.

One huge advantage with these modular phones, is that, should you break the screen on it, instead of buying a whole new handset, you can just buy a new screen and replace it yourself, without being one of those people who owns a soldering kit and likes pulling phones to bits for fun.

It looks like the phones will be unveiled next month, in March and the price will range from $50 to $500, depending on what base you want to work from.

More news when we get it – until then, here’s a video to explain it all and give you, dear reader, the chance to not read these words in the article itself.

Brits – generally quite rude while on the phone

February 13th, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

mobile Brits   generally quite rude while on the phoneWe’ve all seen ‘em – berks using their phones in public in a hugely inconsiderate fashion, yakking loudly about their personal stuff which you don’t need to know.

That said, we shouldn’t be eavesdropping so much, so everyone’s as bad aren’t they?

Well, O2 have been researching all this and revealed exactly that – that we’re all quite rude when it comes to using our mobiles. They’ve found that over 80% of British folk are listening in to other people’s calls and that 9 in 10 Brits think that people have no reservations when they’re on the phone. 40% of people will relay what they’ve heard on social media.

60% of us think that we could collectively benefit from some kind of guide to etiquette regarding mobile use on public transport.

Handily, O2 have knocked such a thing up, helping everyone to be considerably less rude while their on their phones.

image001 500x352 Brits   generally quite rude while on the phone

O2 commissioned the survey to point in the direction of the TU Go app (it helps O2 customers to text, call and check your voicemail over WiFi without the need for a signal) while whispering: ‘Hey – don’t be a hooting idiot now you can use your phone on the train more frequently’.

That said, according to the results of the survey, 6% of you actually enjoy the idea of people being able to hear your conversations. Absolute filth.

“We’re now able to make use of our phone in more places than ever before, including on the underground,” said Nina Bibby, O2’s Marketing and Consumer Director. “This often means that people are having both personal and professional conversations within earshot of lots of other people, so we thought we’d offer them a helping hand by suggesting some simple and easy tips for when on the phone in public.”

You’ve no excuse now. Sort it out.

Kill switches are reducing mobile theft

February 11th, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

Mobile phone holiday beach GUIDE 01 Kill switches are reducing mobile theftThefts of smartphones are a real problem and Google and Apple have both extolled the virtues of kill switches on mobiles.

A new report suggests that kill switches are not only a good idea, but actually working as a deterrent as phone thefts in London have decreased by 50% in London, since manufacturers began putting these kill switches in place. Over in San Francisco and New York, mobile theft has dropped by 40% and 25% respectively.

If you’re not up to speed, kill switches allow a mobile to be deactivated remotely.

Apple have their ‘activation lock’ and ‘delete phone’ services while Google and Microsoft have been introducing kill switches into their phones. Samsung are also on-board with the idea.

Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, has been putting pressure on manufacturers of phones to have kill switches in all new handsets, while California is in the middle of implementing laws which means all phones will have to have a kill switch option.

“The wireless industry continues to roll out sophisticated new features, but preventing their own customers from being the target of a violent crime is the coolest technology they can bring to market,” said San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon.

emoji 300x300 Samsung charge for emoji in text messages   so be carefulOld people hate emoji. We know this because they rant about them on Twitter and in the comments on articles about emoji use in badly spelled rants about the deth of the english langage. and kids not speakin proper.

The problem with emoji isn’t down to the fact that they’re replacing words and grammar, but rather, the small matter of sending them in text messages. If you tap out “:-)”, it isn’t the same as choosing a smiley face emoji on some networks. Instead of being a part of the text, the emoji counts as a picture message, which of course, can end up costing you.

And so, to a lady who clearly didn’t realise this, who got a whopper of a phone bill from EE for £1,200 after she sent a load of emoji-filled messages on her Samsung.

Paula Cochrane was charged 40p for each text message, even though she thought she’d be covered on her unlimited text plan, which costs her £30.99 per month. After complaining to EE, they knocked £100 from her bill, which still leaves an eye-watering £1,100 to cough-up.

Cochrane told The Daily Record: “Even the staff at my local EE shop were shocked when I told them. They knew nothing about it. Do EE really think I’d run up these bills if I knew the cost? It’s daylight robbery.”

“I feel violated that EE have withdrawn more than £1,000 from my account for a £30.99-a-month contract. It’s totally unacceptable.”

So, here’s a thing – if you have a Samsung Galaxy S1, S2, S3, or S4, or indeed, a Galaxy Note 1, 2, 3 or Galaxy Ace, you should be keeping an eye on any messages you send with emoji. If you’re using WhatsApp, Kik or any other similar messaging service, you’re fine. However, in texts, you’re going to end up getting hammered.

An EE spokesman said: “There are a number of factors which can affect whether customers are charged for sending an emoji usually by the settings on the handset and so is a manufacturer – rather than a network issue. EE has a help section on the website which details instances where an SMS may convert into MMS.”

If you have an Apple, HTC, Nokia and Sony phone, you’re fine as they don’t convert emoticons into picture messages. Samsung owners, you’ve been warned.

beatsbydrdrelogo Apple to get around to Beats Music at some point, finallyWhen Apple bought Beats, everyone expected them to tackle Spotify head-on. Then, nothing really happened. Apple, it seemed, had actually forgot about Dre.

But alas, no more, as rumours are getting very loud about Apple and Beats and what they plan to do.

It looks like there’s going to be a launch for a new subscription-based music service which will be Apple-made, but powered by Beats technology and music content. This won’t be a mere installing of the Beats app into iDevices, but rather, Apple things will integrate Beats ‘deeply’ into the iOS mobile operating system, iTunes and Apple TV.

According to reports, the service will cost $7.99 per month, which crucially, makes this cheaper than Spotify’s $9.99-a-month. It’ll also be cheaper than Google’s music offerings, as well as Rhapsody and Rdio. It’ll be more expensive than Pandora though. Not that anyone cares as this is a three-way dogfight between Google, Spotify and Apple.

Apple should really get a wriggle on with this, as there was a lot of fanfare when they bought Beats for $3 billion last year. It looks like they’ll be rolling something out this Summer, with mutterings pointing at a June release.

However, we’re all too long-in-the-tooth and cynical to believe that by merely embedding something as standard into a device, it’ll be a success. Anyone who owns a Samsung phone will tell you about the huge amount of entertainment apps that just sit in devices, taking up space and being unused.

Either way, Apple will be pushing on, and it has been suggested that this new service will focus on cloud streaming that is centred on what’s already in your music library.

BT are finally taking over EE

February 5th, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

zzzw BT are finally taking over EEIn December, we reported that BT were looking at taking over EE and, it looks like it has finally happened, with BT saying that they’re going to raise £1 billion through the placing of new shares, to fund the £12.5 billion acquisition.

BT have been talking to EE’s owners – Orange and Deutsche Telekom – and the deal struck will be funded by giving Deutsche a 12% stake in BT and Orange, 4%.

“This is a major milestone for BT as it will allow us to accelerate our mobility plans and increase our investment in them,” said BT Chief Executive Gavin Patterson, adding: “The UK’s leading 4G network will now dovetail with the UK’s biggest fibre network, helping to create the leading converged communications provider in the UK.”

As well as standing to make loads of money and have much more power and influence, BT hope that, by buying the UK’s largest superfast mobile network, it can combine it with their services to give customers seamless internet access via fibre broadband, WiFi hotspots and 4G mobile.

With EE saying that their customer base now stands at 7.7 million subscribers, this takeover is going to result in one Godzilla-sized company.

The combining of Britain’s biggest fixed-line telecoms operator and the largest mobile operator will generate £360m in savings per year within four years, according to BT.

Of course, BT’s rivals won’t be happy about this and will be complaining about this to regulators or anyone else who’ll listen about their dominance, which could mean BT giving up some of the control they’ve had on their fixed-line network. Keep an eye on Sky, looking at tag-teaming with O2 and locking antlers with BT over Premier League rights.

HTC make toe-curling hip hop beef track

February 4th, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

Hip hop, thanks to being so fantastically successful, is hugely lampoonable, which means the whole genre is a marketing team’s dream. Not only do they think it is easy to make passable raps, but they also think it lends them immediate credibility, which is why there are so many awful marketing team hip hop parodies out there.

Samsung were the last lot to have a stab at it, and now we find HTC at it, making a tune that looks to start beef with other mobile makers, including Some White Guy throwing ironic gang shapes.

And so, let us listen to their attempt at being razor sharp.

Aiming lyrical daggers at their rivals, Apple and Samsung, we hear that HTC holds ‘the crown’ and that the company ‘can’t be beat’ and other self-aggrandising business.

However, while that is perfectly ignorable, there’s some hugely clunky lines in there. Doc G (once of PM Dawn no less) spits about “Peter Chou” before going H.A.M. about how the ”internal battery’s strong” and the ”extreme power saving mode”, over an ATL-esque stripclub beat.

Then there’s the in-your-face; ”more than a few clowns stole what we originated. We own the universe, your Galaxy is overrated!” coupled with; “your phone was all glass – why you change your tune now? Your chip is slower but you’ll never touch our BoomSound”.

Seeing as Doc G was in PM Dawn, he could’ve at least done a pun about being set adrift on “memory bliss” or something. Honestly – what is this world?

If you’re completely daft, you can download the song too.

Ofcom promise to improve mobile signals in the UK

February 3rd, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

mobile Ofcom promise to improve mobile signals in the UKMobile signals in the UK can be really patchy, so with that in mind, we’ve all been promised better signals which means we can spend our time waiting for people in pubs mucking about on our phones, instead of swearing under our breath.

EE, Vodafone, O2, and Three are all teaming up with the government to ramp up coverage to 90% of the UK by 2017. To help, Ofcom has announced that they’re going to vary the licences of the signal overlords to boost the signals of the main providers.

Plainly speaking, this means that they’re going to reduce the licence fees paid by operators, which will allow them to increase the availability of voice and text services around Britain. Ofcom say: “In light of these variations, Ofcom will shortly consult further on the annual licence fees for the 900 MHz and 1800 MHz spectrum bands.”

“The Government directed Ofcom in 2010 to revise these fees to reflect full market value after the completion of the 4G auction. The two bands are used for 2G and 3G, including voice calls, and some 4G services.”

In return, the biggest four operators will throw £5 billion at improving network coverage.

Not only that, Ofcom will be working alongside the government on a £150 million infrastructure project, which will allow mobile phone masts to be placed in current mobile hot spots, which is all very pleasing to hear. Unless of course, someone erects a mast on top of your head.

How to fix your sleep with your phone

February 3rd, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

sleep tired How to fix your sleep with your phoneResearch has decided that teenagers are buggering up their sleep patterns thanks to the use of smartphones and tablets. Apparently, the more they use them, the worse their sleep is going to be. Seeing as teenagers pretty much have their hands grafted to their phones, they’re going to end up looking like Nosferatu.

A study of around 10,000 16- to 19-year-olds suggested that over two hours of screen time after school was strongly linked to delayed sleep and a shorter kip – many of the kids tested said they frequently got less than five hours sleep per night, according to the BMJ Open report.

On average, girls said they spent around 5-and-a-half hours a day watching TV, using smartphones and computers, and other devices, and boys did the same for around 6-and-a-half hours a day in front of a screen. The most common thing they’re all doing is chatting online and playing video games.

Various bits of research in recent years has shown that the quality of sleep has got worse since gadget use became more frequent.

Dr Mari Hysing and colleagues at Uni Research Health, Bergen said: ”We know that sufficient sleep is essential for good physical and mental health. Logging off may be one important step toward securing a good night’s sleep.”

However getting anyone to stop using their phone is nigh-on impossible, unless you rule your loved-ones with an iron fist. So with that, instead of stopping phone use, here’s some apps that can aid you for sleeping or at least, get you up in the morning if you’re a dozy berk.

Best Apps For Sleep

Twilight App

The blue light in your phone or tablet might be messing around with your natural (circadian) rhythm and is making your sleep go wonky, according to some recent research. So, the Twilight app, according to the makers: “makes your device screen adapt to the time of the day. It filters the flux of blue light emitted by your phone or tablet after sunset and protects your eyes with a soft and pleasant red filter. The filter intensity is smoothly adjusted to the sun cycle based on your local sunset and sunrise times.” Less blue light equals a better sleep, apparently.

Sleep As Android

This app describes itself as “an alarm clock and sleep cycle tracker, wakes you gently in optimal moment for pleasant mornings”. It has a load of graphs and whatnot, to see how well you were sleeping in the night, which you can pore over in the morning to see if you can fix future sleeps. If you have bother waking up, the alarm clock has puzzles to complete, or it’ll keep beeping at you.

Sleep Cycle

Sleep Cycle is a popular iOS app that keeps an eye on your sleeping habits and wakes you up at the optimum time of the morning. This app will also advise where you place your iPhone at night, to ensure a better sleep. Again, it is another app that features graphs and the like, so you can study your sleeping patterns.

Sleep Bot

One sleeping app that is popular with both Android and Apple-fans, is Sleep Bot, which again, tracks your sleep patterns and gives you stats. However, this one auto-records your sleep so you can listen to yourself snoring or muttering about that hot stuff in the office. Basically, it’ll let you know if you’re having breathing problems, which you can then fix and hopefully, have a better rest in the night. This app even has tips to help improve your sleep hygiene and offers advice on how to fall asleep faster and more deeply.

F.lux

F.lux is another ‘blue light’ designed to help you prepare for sleep. It adjusts the colour of your display, making it ‘warm’ in the evenings and looking more like sunlight during the day.

Sleepio

This app was created by Colin Espie, Professor of Sleep Medicine and Professor at the Nuffield Department of Clinical Neuroscience at the University of Oxford, and has a load of good reviews on the NHS website, which is quite the thing. With this app, you log in weekly, for your personalised session with the virtual ‘Prof’, where you’ll get a load of advice about ways of helping you sleep better – things to do during the week to aid your snoozing and all that. This one has add-ons though, which aren’t cheap.

Do you have any tips for sleeping that don’t involve ignoring your phone or getting blind drunk every night? Feel free to share them in the comments.

Facebook tests adverts that know where you are

January 30th, 2015 No Comments By Ian Wade

Bitterwallet Facebook censorship Facebook tests adverts that know where you areFacebook are road-testing a new thing where adverts will be able to respond to where you are.

The all-seeing social media icon will be installing ‘beacons’ that will set off a trigger that will alert you to any deals or suchlike that are available in that vicinity. A bit like that Minority Report film where you get personalised adverts and the like.

It hopes the service, called Place Tips, could help it take on Yelp by offering information about shops and other locations

It’s currently being tested in New York around various landmarks such as the Statue of Liberty, Central Park and JFK Airport.

Trials of a special bluetooth ‘beacon’ also underway in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Dominique Ansel Bakery and several other NYC stores. Your location is determined using mobile networks, WiFi and GPS, and the beacons will transmit Bluetooth signals up to 500ft.

Facebook reckons that “Place tips will show you fun, useful and relevant info about the place you’re at. Starting today on Facebook for iPhone, place tips may show up at the top of your News Feed when you’re out and about.”

Place tips won’t show up in your general feed. Your contacts won’t see an alert telling them that you’ve just bought some towels that were recommended from a local sauna or how much you got some sausages for. It will show some restraint at least.

facebook stalk 300x186 Facebook tests adverts that know where you are

Users can turn place tips off or on at any time in your settings, or just hide tips about specific places. And anyway, Place tips only appear if you’ve given Facebook permission to access your location on your phone, the firm said.

“If you choose to view place tips, you’ll find things like posts and photos your friends have shared with you about that place. You can also see information about the place, including posts from its Page, popular menu items and upcoming events.”

Well, isn’t the future just WONDERFUL!