burglar Google and Apple want anti theft smartphone kill switchA whole host of mobile-makers, including Apple, Google, Samsung and HTC, have entered an agreement to add a global anti-theft kill-switch in their devices from July 2015.

A report says that “devices going on sale after July 2015 will have the ability to remotely wipe data and be rendered inoperable, if the user chooses, to prevent the device from being reactivated without the owner’s permission.”

The publication adds that, should a handset be recovered, then data can be restored.

Apple, Google, HTC, Huawei, Motorola, Microsoft, Nokia, and Samsung (and some others) have all volunteered themselves to “facilitate these measures.”

While Apple have been working on something similar to this kill switch, they’ve got other problems concerning anti-trust accusations where the prices of e-books got hiked up.

California state Senator Mark Leno has criticised an element of this development. He said: “The wireless industry today has taken an incremental yet inadequate step to address the epidemic of smartphone theft. Only weeks ago, they claimed that the approach they are taking today was infeasible and counterproductive. While I am encouraged they are moving off of that position so quickly, today’s ‘opt-in’ proposal misses the mark if the ultimate goal is to combat street crime and violent thefts involving smartphones and tablets.”

The news that phone shops are selling stolen handsets from yesterday, shows that this is a big business and criminals will no doubt find a way around it in good time. However, if this acts as any kind of deterrent, it can only be a good thing.

Samsung Galaxy S5: someone’s already hacked it

April 16th, 2014 1 Comment By Mof Gimmers

A matter of days after Samsung unleashed the Galaxy S5 on the world, some smart-arse has already hacked the fingerprint scanner on it.

In a video, below, the researchers showed how a wood glue spoof made from a mould is all that’s needed to get under the fingerprint security.

The narrator on the video says: “the spoof was made under lab conditions but is based on nothing more than a camera phone photo of an unprocessed latent print on a smartphone screen.” Well, obviously.

Of course, this isn’t the only fingerprint hack. Apple’s iPhone 5S was hacked by Chaos Computer Club a matter of hours after launch. The main difference between the two hacks is that, unlike the iPhone, the Samsung handset doesn’t require a password to authenticate after a certain number of incorrect attempts.

That means nasty people can try as many times as they like.

SRLabs accuse Samsung of failing to learn from the mistakes of other technology companies, and seeing as the method used in the S5 hack was basically the same as the iPhone hack, they may well have a point.

bbc iplayer ipad 300x242 BBC extend iPlayer downloads to Android phones and tabletsThe BBC have, in their own sweet time, extended their iPlayer download facility to pretty much every Android smartphone and tablet on the market.

Until recently, the download feature has been limited to a few Android devices, but now, it is on offer to anyone running Ice Cream Sandwich, version 4.0, or later. That’s around 96% of Android users now able to download episodes of Coast and Pointless for offline viewing.

So what happened to change their minds? The notion that there are more Android devices in use than iPhones?

Not quite. Basically, the BBC has got a bit carefree and decided to stop extensive tests for all the devices.

“We believe that the vast majority of devices will enjoy a great video downloading experience. However, with more than five thousand different phone, phablet and tablet models able to install the BBC iPlayer Android app, there are likely to be a number of devices that exhibit bugs concerning download behaviour,” said Auntie Beeb.

“We can’t promise that we will fix every issue that is brought to our attention (there may be device limitations that prevent us from doing so) but we will seek to address problems according to the complexity of the issue, as well as the UK popularity and the user numbers of the device itself,” they added.

festival woman 300x185 Glastonbury Festival to have own 4G to maximise annoyanceThe gits at Glastonbury will be getting their usual blanket coverage on the BBC this year, like an alternative Royal Wedding – of interest to only a few, but shoved down everyone’s craw like it’s a worthy event.

And now, to maximise the omnipresent nature of the event, Glastonbury’s organisers have announced that EE will provide a special 4G network on site at this year’s festival.

That means all the posh white kids in attendance will be able to tweet constantly through the weekend, appearing on everyone’s feeds, talking about having ‘experiences’ and gushing with praise about some dreadful group of herberts in waistcoats playing on a stage call Hector Wizard’s Banana Vibez Plantation or something.

This is under the assumption that the signal actually holds up with all those glamping weasels jamming up the network with Instagram pictures of themselves and pals posing in front of a Stonehenge made from old cars.

There’s no point hoping that their phones will run out of juice, because EE have that covered as well, saying that they’ve released an EE Festival Power Bar. Buy that before 9th June and you’ll have a portable charger to keep your phone topped up with power. When that dies, go to the on-site EE tent and swap it for a new one.

EE Brand Director Spencer McHugh said of all this: “Last year we saw a huge increase in photo and video uploads on our network at Glastonbury as people shared their magical festival moments from across the site. By providing superfast 4G at the festival alongside the launch of our new charging solution, the EE Festival Power Bar, we will make sure all those at the UK’s best-loved festival can stay connected and share content more easily and quicker than ever before”.

Amazon 3D smartphone, due to drop in September

April 15th, 2014 1 Comment By Mof Gimmers

Amazon Smartphone 300x180 Amazon 3D smartphone, due to drop in SeptemberAmazon are going to show off their smartphone in June, rumour has it, hitting the shelves sometime in September.

Some secretive source told The Wall Street Journal that Amazon is gearing up to launch a smartphone in Autumn. Makes sense, given that they’ve already got the set-top Fire TV and a variety of Kindles on the go. Amazon, it seems, have worked out that there’s money to be had in flogging hardware.

According to the sources, the retailer have shown off a number of prototypes to developers, hoping to have a decision in time for the summer reveal. Apparently, the Amazon phone will have a display that renders 3D images without the need for 3D glasses, which is a fun gimmick.

It has also been suggested that the phone will have retina-tracking technology, which will help the four cameras the phone will host. Sounds like a huge battery drain from here.

Worth noting though, is that this new handset is likely to have Amazon’s Android spinoff operating system. While that is fine, if the newest Kindles are anything to go by, you could be irritated by the lack of Google Play store and, sadly for Amazon, their appstore isn’t nearly as comprehensive as the competition. Developers, it seems, aren’t too fussed about making apps for Amazon devices just yet.

However, with the TV box and more hardware on the go, Amazon might pull their finger out so users can have access to all the apps you’d find on an Android device.

In other hardware news, seems like the phone will have a 4.7-inch screen, a 13MP camera on the back, a 12MP camera on the front, and a quad-core Snapdragon 800 processor. An Amazon phone has been rumoured for a long time, so don’t hold your breath if you’re holding out for one.

neil diamond 300x300 Neil Diamond costs foolish phone user over £2600It doesn’t take a genius to work out that downloading stuff abroad is likely to incur roaming charges. However, it seems you need to be cleverer than a maths teacher, after a Warwickshire woman failed to calculate that an £8.99 album would cost over £2,600 once roaming charges were added.

Teacher Katie Bryan, 43, was visiting her boyfriend’s family in South Africa when she decided to download a multiple-track “best of Neil Diamond” CD from iTunes to her phone for £8.99. When she returned to the UK, she was dismayed to find that, not only did she still have a Neil Diamond album on her phone, her bank account was more than £2,000 overdrawn after Orange took a direct debit of £2,609.31.

No-one, not even Miss Bryan herself, can explain what possessed her. She admits to having had “a bit” of wine, but claims it was “not too much”, thereby scotching the drunk-and-didn’t-know-what-I-was-doing excuse. She can’t even claim the moral high ground on musical taste despite describing herself as “really not that big a Neil Diamond fan”, after admitting to not only owning a Neil Diamond cd in the UK, but actually having it in her car, as well as claiming to be “more of a James Blunt fan”.

Upon her return to the UK, Miss Bryan called Orange, who laughed at her were initially unable to help her, reiterating the published tariffs which meant her 20 minute download, which used 326 MB of data, had been charged at £8 per megabyte once her 10MB monthly foreign allowance had been used up. Nevertheless an enterprising employee then came up with the solution of selling her a backdated bundle which would bring the data cost down to a still-scandalous £400.

Unfortunately, the powers that be at Orange tried to rescind the offer, entitled as they rightly were to the full £2,600, but last Friday the executive office agreed to the £400 compromise, refunding the hapless teacher £2,209.31. Orange also apologised for the stress they had caused. Presumably adhering to the customer service school of the customer is always right, even when they are an idiot.

Miss Bryant said: “I think Orange are preying on people who make a mistake while abroad. Why such a massive difference in cost? In England you would just pay the album price. There is no way this huge bill relates to the actual cost to Orange.” Grossly inflated roaming costs are currently under investigation by the European Commission within the EU, but this would not have helped someone holidaying in South Africa. Besides, no phone company ever claimed that roaming costs bore any resemblance to the costs incurred.

Miss Bryant continued bleating: “You hear of people doing this and you think ‘stupid person – why did you do that?’ I do feel foolish.” No-one, anywhere, argued with her.

“But I also feel it is morally wrong to be expected to pay this sort of money for a Neil Diamond album” she finished. Now there’s something we can agree with.

Android vulnerable to Heartbleed

April 14th, 2014 2 Comments By Mof Gimmers

heartbleed bug Android vulnerable to HeartbleedSay what you like about the Heartbleed bug that’s been going round, but one thing is for certain – it definitely has the most eye-catching logo.

However, it isn’t very nice and Google are the latest to issue a warning about it, saying that their products could be prone to Heartbleed exploitation.

The company have noted that all Android versions are unaffected, unless you’re on version 4.1.1 (that’s Jelly Bean to you), which a good number of you are. Google are in the process of patching up the chink in the OS’s armour.

Over a third of Android users are running on 4.1 to 4.1.2, with the exact number of users running 4.1.1 not known. The problem here is that a lot of budget handsets could be on this specific Jelly Bean and not being given updates once shipped.

In addition to that, Google’s Search, Gmail, YouTube, Wallet, Play, Apps, App Engine, AdWords, DoubleClick, Maps, Maps Engine and Earth were affected by Heartbleed, but should’ve been patched by now. Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, Yahoo!, Dropbox and Amazon were also vulnerable.

Apple, meanwhile, have said that nothing of theirs was in danger at any point.

Charge your phone in 30 seconds!

April 11th, 2014 1 Comment By Ian Wade

zzzw2 300x216 Charge your phone in 30 seconds!Smartphone battery life – it’s a bugger isn’t it? One minute you’re all charged up and on fire. The next your entire world is about to collapse.

Well, it looks like that will soon be a thing of the past, as a company named StoreDot has created a prototype battery charger, which they reckon will be bring charging time down to 30 seconds.

30 SECONDS. Amazing.

The company, which hailed from the nanotechnology department at Tel Aviv University, has developed its prototype for the Samsung Galaxy S4, and has plans to adapt the technology to other phones.

The prototype still involves a charging device, the main change is the battery itself.

StoreDot has been developing biological semiconductors, made from naturally occurring compounds called peptides – a compound created by two or more linked amino acids – which is used in the battery to reduce charging time.

The technology was unveiled at Microsoft’s Think Next conference in Tel Aviv, and while the prototype is bulky, the makers say it plans to create a smaller version of it before it’s commercially produced.

However there’s still going to be something of a wait, as the makers plan to go into production in late 2016, with no actual confirmed date for when the product will be released.

Still, the future eh? Looks like it’s going to happen at some point! Hurrah!

People on the internet love getting new technology and trying to break it. Some people like putting iPads in blenders, while others like breaking PS4s on the day of release, in front of a load of people queuing up to buy one.

Well, the latest instalment in People Breaking Stuff sees a guy reviewing the toughness of the new Galaxy S5 from Samsung. They got the handset, along with the S4, and dropped it numerous times, before getting the SUV out and running it over a poor defenceless phone.

Of course, Samsung will have done loads of their own simulated drop tests, but tech dweebs like doing their own, just to make sure no-one is fibbing.

The people at TechSmart decided to do theirs, as you can see from the video above, in a manner that isn’t as exciting as most videos concerning people trashing technology, but the results are reasonably cheering for those thinking of buying a Galaxy S5.

It looks like the Galaxy S5 is a rather durable phone, which is great news for all you clumsy oafs, borderline alcoholic students and vigilantes who are looking at alternative weaponry. If it can withstand a big car driving over it, it should be able to withstand dropping it on a dancefloor or smashing it into someone’s skull.

But can it survive Android and Samsung’s propensity for filling up your phone with bloatware?

Co-op launch 99p PAYG mobile service

April 9th, 2014 2 Comments By Mof Gimmers

co op bank 300x187 Co op launch 99p PAYG mobile serviceThe Co-op have been having a bleak time, what with losing loads of money and being involved in drug scandals and the like. So, as well as turning some pubs into shops, they’re hoping to revive their fortunes by getting in on some hot phone action.

The group have launched their own PAYG SIM card, where they’ll piggyback on EE’s network. It’ll be launched in their stores across the country and is going to make bold claims about cheap national and international rates, especially if you are ringing someone else who also has a Co-op SIM.

One thing they won’t do, like other services, is get extra pennies out of customers by rounding up calls to the nearest minute.

Vivian Woodell, founder and CEO of The Phone Co-op, says: “Up to now, consumers have been forced to accept that if you want to get very good national rates, you’ll have to pay a lot for an international call, and vice versa, or that you’ll be charged an arm and a leg for calling 0800 or 0845 numbers. Some providers have low ‘headline rates’ but then charge for a whole minute when you’ve just spoken for a few seconds.”

“With The Co-operative Mobile that won’t happen, and it’s the combination of all these features that makes us so different. We’re proving it’s possible to have all these benefits in just one SIM card.”

The Co-op SIM card will start from 99p.

woman on the phone 243x300 Newsflash. If you leave rude pictures on your smartphone, your phone repair man might look at them.You know how it is. Every now and then you feel the need to take ‘explicit’ photographs of yourself and save them in your phone. We’ve all got a boob selfie hanging around. However, when handing said porno-phone in to be fixed, surely it might occur to you that the spotty youth working in a phone repair shop might have nothing better to do than scroll through your camera roll. With one hand.

That’s exactly what happened to some Welsh girls recently, where 35 year old Lee Hawkes,  not only looked at sexy pictures of some female customers, but then proceeded to downloaded dozens of images of two women for his own personal use. Eeyeuw.

When police raided his shop, Get Connected in Brecon, Powys, they found 48 images of a woman in her twenties in a series of different nude poses and 135 sexually explicit images of a woman in her thirties. 135 images? She must have been really bored that day.

Mr Hawkes came a cropper (amongst other things) when he showed the images to a “gobsmacked” colleague, who was unconvinced by Hawkes’ claims that this was normal behaviour practised “industry wide”.

Hawkes was found guilty of voyeurism and inappropriate access to data and sentenced to four months, although the sentence was suspended for 12 months. He also has to go on the sex offenders register for being the 21st century equivalent of a peeping tom.

PC Gareth Tanswell said after the case, “People’s mobiles carry a vast amount of personal data and images these days, and they expect to be able to trust those that they give access to them for repair, maintain or for advice purposes.” While all completely true, in the real world, you could consider just removing the photos from your phone when giving it to someone else. There’s a thought.

‘Virus Shield’ app killed by Google

April 8th, 2014 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

android logo 300x225 Virus Shield app killed by GoogleHave you got an Android phone with the Virus Shield app? You might have because, for a period, it topped the charts on Google Play. Well, you should delete it because Google have pulled it after it turned out to be a total phoney.

So what was the deal with it? For starters, the app had virtually no function at all, but cost a $3.99 to buy. At over 10,000 downloads, the developer/con-artist raked it in on something that was nigh-on useless for your phone.

If you’re wondering what little function it did have, the icon changed when you tapped it while it pretended to look for viruses.

The Android Police, who rumbled it, said: “This is such a brazen and expensive fake that we felt the need to give it some special attention. It’s somewhat disheartening that an app so obviously fake could rise to the top, especially considering that it’s paid, and possibly hundreds or thousands of people have been defrauded already.”

This comes with the news that Google are finally trying to clean up their apps. They need to start being a bit sharper, clearly. Either way, ‘Virus Shield’ isn’t harming your phone and won’t hammer your battery, but it isn’t doing a thing for your phone, so get shot of it.

If you want to get a refund on the app beyond the normal 15 minute refund window, Android Central have a nifty how-to guide.

EE announces price rise

April 8th, 2014 2 Comments By Ian Wade

zzzw EE announces price riseAs seems to be the case with mobile providers, EE has joined in by increasing the monthly cost of phone bills by 2.7%. That’s what happens when everyone says you’re the best mobile network around.

Subscribers on EE, Orange and T-Mobile will be affected by the price hike, which comes into effect from May 28th.

Additional charges for usage beyond customers’ monthly allowance will also increase. GOOD TIMES.

And as the price rise is linked with inflation, customers will not be able to cancel their contract early, unless they joined or upgraded after January 23rd.

The network has warned that those who signed up or upgraded within the last 30 days may still receive a letter about the move, but will not be affected by the changes.

What are EE saying on their website? “We know price rises are never great news, but we work hard to keep costs down while offering our customers great value on the UK’s biggest and fastest network. As a result of rising business costs, we are increasing the price of EE, Orange and T-Mobile monthly plans.”

Looks like the mobile companies are pre-emptively trying to make some money back now that roaming charges are to get the chop.

Tag Heuer launch solar powered smartphone

April 7th, 2014 1 Comment By Mof Gimmers

TAG Heuer might mean little more than fancy watches to most, but they’ve released a new smartphone which is, of course, needlessly expensive and looks funny.

Their Meridiist Infinite has a nifty idea though, that other phone companies should look at. The new handset has solar panels which means it can conserve power. If cheap calculators can have solar panels, then surely we could have some working efficiently with our phones?

This new phone’s solar panels will slowly charge the device when it starts running low on battery, powered by Wysips technology created by Sunpartner Technologies. The panels are hidden in the phone’s screen and can be charged with natural or artificial light.

Tag Heuer Meridiist Infinite 500x291 Tag Heuer launch solar powered smartphone

 

TAG Heuer will be selling 1911 units of the Meridiist Infinite, which, if you’re a Championship footballer, will be on-sale from July onwards.

 

Are Facebook working on an anonymity app?

April 7th, 2014 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

Bitterwallet Facebook censorship Are Facebook working on an anonymity app?There’s a handful of anonymity apps, such as Secret and Whisper, which have been growing in popularity lately and, not one to miss a money-making opportunity, it looks like Facebook is thinking of making their own version.

If this latest trend has passed you by, these apps showcase streams of short confessions from your contacts list or in your area. You comment or ‘love’ posts anonymously and what gets people hooked, is that you keep scrolling in case someone declares their love for you, slags you or someone you know off, and basically, it’s a trickle of gossip where users shout things they wouldn’t dare post on Twitter or Facebook.

Apparently, Facebook have already got in touch with the folks at Secret, but for once, it doesn’t look like they’ll be buying someone out. Seems like they’re just tapping people up for ideas. That said, it hasn’t stopped rumours that Zuckerberg will be willing to fork out $100 million to buy Secret.

If Secret are willing to sell, they’d be wise to wait a while: if Facebook have the money to buy WhatsApp for $19bn and Oculus for $2bn, then they’ll surely have some leeway to broker a more hefty deal.

It certainly looks like Facebook are investigating the building of apps that you don’t have to couple with your Facebook account, allowing the company to spread out without forcing people into having a Facebook account.