Posts Tagged ‘mobiles’
However, their findings suggest that, generally, we’re all rather happy with our communications services and that satisfaction is quite high. Further to that, Ofcom have also found that the price we pay for these services are comparable to the rest of the world.
These findings were detailed in their Consumer Experience Report, which was published today, alongside the Cost and Value Report.
The regulator says that, in the past decade, we’ve benefited from significant reductions in prices across most communications services. Basically, they’ve said we’re getting more and spending less.
With that all in mind, Ofcom have vowed to focus on getting further improvements and better value for us. Which is nice. For improvements, they want consumers to be able to switch providers with greater ease and make sure that providers get installations more quickly and a faster turnaround on repairs and faults (or providers will face fines). They also want to review whether key communications services are affordable, particularly for poorer people.
They’ll also be publishing the quality of service so we can all decide who we want to spend our money with and, with that, give providers some incentive to improve. They’ll also be publishing things on 3G and 4G coverage. They’ve also noted that they’ll be trying to protect us from unexpected mid-contract price rises, but we’ve already seen what the providers are doing there.
Ofcom have said that they’ll be working with the Government in a bid to do more to rid us of nuisance and silent calls.
Speaking at the launch of Consumer Experience Report event yesterday, Ed Richards, Chief Executive of Ofcom, said: “The quality and value of communications services matters as much as their availability. The record in the last decade is good but we are determined to maintain focus on these important areas to ensure that communications markets continue to work in the best interests of consumers”.
A matter of hours after Ofcom slapped mobile and broadband providers with new rules which meant customers didn’t have to put up with providers changing what they charged on fixed contracts, O2 have changed their terms and conditions to get around it.
So, from today, any customer who signs up with O2 has to agree that their tariff will go up each year in line with inflation, kicking off with a 2.7% increase on 1st March.
If you are already a customer, you will have already heard that prices might go up with inflation.
With Ofcom trying to put an end to this price wiggling, they’ve actually made price increases compulsory. Of course, this isn’t Ofcom’s fault, but you can bet that all the other mobile companies will soon start tinkering with their t&cs, which is typically shady of them.
How profoundly irritating and unsurprising.
The telecoms giant cut the fee on its Last Caller Barring and Anonymous Caller Reject services on Sunday (19/1). They used to cost £3.25 per month and £3.88 per month respectively – or £86 per year for the pair.
However, further investigations show that TalkTalk is the only one of the major home phone providers which offers these features free. Earlier this month, BT started charging customers £1.75 a month for both its 1571 answerphone service and the caller display feature. Which sounds a bit of a piss-take really.
It says the move will help customers avoid nuisance, scam and unwanted calls, which is doubtful as the beggars still manage to get through somehow.
Anyway, new and existing TalkTalk home phone customers can use it for free now, but if you don’t have the services, you’ll need to manually activate them by logging into your online TalkTalk account.
“Is that a tiny printer in your pocket or are you pleased to see me… oh good god, he’s printed a small picture of his penis out!” That could be the cry you hear if you’re interested in buying LG’s latest gizmo, the Pocket Printer 2. Think of it like a Polaroid for 2014.
You plug it into your mobile or tablet and you can print images off when you feel like it. Excellent for very small invoices and the like.
This new gadget will be showcased at CES 2014 in January and is the follow-up to the first Pocket Printer which was launched earlier in the year.
The new one will be thinner and with a better battery. LG reckon it’ll be able to print 30 pictures on a single charge.
It comes with two connectivity options – NFC and Bluetooth – and supports Android, iOS and Windows Phone 8, with Android users getting extra options.
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.
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.
The regulator has started a consultation on how to meet growing demands on networks for communications, saying that a number of spectrum bands “have been identified as potential candidates for future mobile broadband use”.
And it’ll be massive. The next generation networks represent “approximately seven times the amount of spectrum released as part of the 4G auction”.
Ofcom are looking at the 2.3GHz and 3.4GHz spectrum, currently used by the Ministry of Defence, which probably sounds more exciting that it actually is. 5G won’t make spies of us all sadly. Basically, the goal is to move some of those bands from the public sector to commercial use. An auction could happen as soon as 2015 or 2016.
They’re also weighing up using the 700MHz band used by terrestrial TV the 2.7GHz band used for radar. It’s also considering opening up the 3.6GHz spectrum used for satellite links.
Ofcom said that there isn’t an “unlimited supply” of spectrum. “Ofcom has to balance the interests of all spectrum users and ensure that this scarce national resource is used as efficiently as possible. The public sector has access to just over half of the UK spectrum, and Ofcom is working with government to identify ways of increasing opportunities for commercial access in the future,” it added.
Thanks to a program called PIN Skimmer, the PIN for your phone can be revealed by its camera and microphone. Basically, the software watches your face via the camera and microphone is used to detect what you touch, and it works on Galaxy S3 and Google Nexus-S phones.
After the microphone hears clicks, the camera works out the orientation of the phone and “correlates it to the position of the digit tapped by the user” according to report authors Prof Ross Anderson and Laurent Simon. They continued: ”We demonstrated that the camera, usually used for conferencing or face recognition, can be used maliciously. We watch how your face appears to move as you jiggle your phone by typing. It did surprise us how well it worked.”
This means, codes to unlock your phone or the PIN to access your banking app can be worked out by others, posing the question: what should mobile manufacturers be doing to avoid people hacking into our phones?
Of course, Apple have fingerprint technology, but other mobiles could have longer PIN numbers or something that randomises the position of numbers on the keypad. Or are we moving toward everything being voice activated? Or should we just ride it out and stick with what we’ve got?
The future according to Google, looks pretty bleak as they’ve put a patent in for a microphone that you get tattooed on to your throat. Apparently, this will help to rid calls of background noise and will act as a lie-detector too.
That’s not nauseatingly dark at all.
Google owned Motorola say: “A user speaking falsehoods may exhibit different galvanic skin response than a truth-telling individual.”
“Mobile communication devices are often operated in noisy environments,” said Motorola. “Communication can be improved and enhanced with a method and system for reducing the acoustic noise in such environments.”
This electronic tattoo would have a transceiver embedded in it, so your neck is rigged up to wireless communications and it would run from a battery or solar power. So you might have to plug your skin into the mains at night.
Just think, if you’re trying to tell a white lie to someone, be it because you’re buying a birthday present, trying to throw a sickie a work or you’re simply trying to avoid telling someone that their new haircut is an absolute abomination, you phone will grass you up to everyone.
Still, it won’t just be us – Motorola also said in their application that the device ‘can also be applied to an animal’. So there you go. The future promises us random phonecalls from dogs with microphones grafted into their faces.
For your money, you get a T-Mobile Pay-As-You-Go1 Alcatel 1010 handset, which isn’t pretty and has little in the way of features… but it is cheap.
The features it does have are, well, it’s light and it has 3MB of memory and an inbuilt MP3 player and wireless FM radio. The offer comes without a minimum top-up charge so shoppers can buy as much or as little credit as they choose.
Why would you want one? Well, Asda reckon that it’ll be a hit with those looking to buy a spare phone or, failing that, old people.
Claire McAuley, Mobile phone buyer at Asda says: “With purse strings stretched ahead of the festive season and a quarter of mums budgeting more than ever, our customers are always looking for new ways to save money. We’ve launched the UK’s lowest priced phone as a solution to keeping in touch at the lowest cost possible this Christmas and are expecting shoppers of all ages to snap them off the shelves.”
American giant AT&T are looking at a potential takeover of Vodafone next year, who just happen to be Europe’s largest mobile carrier. If that fails, they are also eyeing up EE. Looks like they want to get a stronghold in the UK and fast.
If AT&T merge with Vodafone, they would become the world’s largest telecommunications operator (by sales) with a market capitalization exceeding $250 billion. More to the point, they’d have in excess of 500 million wireless subscribers, which puts them in-line with Google and Apple.
With Vodafone currently trying to get a stronghold in developing markets – especially India – then this merger would result in a dazzlingly large company. Vodafone already have a decent share of the African market.
It appears that AT&T are looking to branch out as competition in the States gets considerably stiffer. Of course, AT&T aren’t the first company to try and create a global telecommunications company. They’d be wise to remember Global Crossing and Concert – a failed venture between the original AT&T Corp. and BT – which went bankrupt.
There’s also likely to be political opposition over here, where politicians don’t like these huge mergers as seen when Kraft took over Cadbury.
Either way, it looks like the Americans are coming and, while the Russians make headway into our market, it looks like next year will be something of a Cold War 2.0.
Apple fans are forever hailing their products – especially iPhones – because ‘they just work’. Well, with ‘blue screen of death‘ and occasional exploding parts, that doesn’t seem to be the case. And now, the company has admitted that some iPhone 5S models are suffering from battery problems, and they’re willing to replace those affected.
Those who couldn’t wait to get their mucky paws on the new phone have complained that their batteries have been draining quicker than ever. Some users have noted that their phone only lasts for 3 hours with others saying that their battery is draining 20% ever hour.
This flies in the face of Apple’s claims that these new phones should last 25% longer than previous handsets.
An Apple spokesperson came clean and said that there’s an iPhone 5S battery problem: “We recently discovered a manufacturing issue affecting a very limited number of iPhone 5S devices that could cause the battery to take longer to charge or result in reduced battery life.”
“We are reaching out to customers with affected phones and will provide them with a replacement phone.”
We spoke about the interesting PhoneBloks project, where you can upgrade bits of your mobile like people used to do with their PCs, and it seems Google and Motorola have taken notice.
The Google-owned company has announced that they’re going to consult with Phonebloks inventor Dave Hakkens to develop a “free, open hardware platform for creating highly modular smartphones” under the name Project Ara.
Motorola have said that they’ll be working with Hakkens to develop their “common vision” and that the phone-maker will be handling the “deep technical work”, allowing Hakkens to develop and empowers the community, which presumably means he’ll be an ambassador for the product.
“We want to do for hardware what the Android platform has done for software: create a vibrant third-party developer ecosystem, lower the barriers to entry, increase the pace of innovation, and substantially compress development timelines,” say Motorola, adding: ”A module can be anything, from a new application processor to a new display or keyboard, an extra battery, a pulse oximeter– or something not yet thought of!”
Could this be the next big thing in mobile manufacturing or is this a nerd-only pursuit?
It came about after designer Dave Hakkens took apart his camera, which basically worked apart from one thing: ”I noticed all these little parts, and everything was good except for the lens motor. That had broken.”
When he contacted the manufacturer to get a replacement motor, he was advised to simply get a new camera: “With your bike you repair the tyre, you don’t throw the bike away, but for some reason this is what we do with electronics,” he said.
Through this, he came up with Phonebloks. The concept is to make a phone with a replaceable screen and components that are easily interchangeable. Basically, you could constantly upgrade bits of your phone without getting a new handset every time, like you’d do with a PC.
“Let’s say this is your phone and you do everything in the cloud – why not replace your storage blok with a bigger battery blok? If you… love to take pictures, why not upgrade your camera?”
Naturally, the phone may not look as great as your slim little smartphone, but there’s something really great about the idea of having something that evolves at your whim, rather than simply just getting handsets that are the same as everyone else’s.
What do you think? Would you have one of these or would you prefer something where the hard work has been done for you already and just wait for upgrade day?