Mobile phone Stories February 17, 2016

Next year’s fingerprint sensors could fit into volume rocker buttons, guard against spoofing

Synaptics has provided fingerprint sensors for a number of different smartphones, the HTC One Max among them, but Engadget says that it has a much sleeker version in the works.

Synaptics’ latest fingerprint sensor for mobile devices measures only 3.5 mm wide. It’s so thin and tiny, it can fit inside a volume rocker switch on the side of your smartphone or tablet.

The company says it has also found a way to prevent the use of fake fingerprints by a new algorithm that can distinguish live fingers from printed replicas.

We probably won’t be seeing the new reader make it into phones until next year, though, as Synaptics says mass-production isn’t due to start until the third quarter of this year. There’s as yet no word of which phone brands might be looking to include it.

We’re also expecting to see the company’s pressure-sensitive screens coming to some Android devices later this year.

Image for illustration only: 91mobiles.com

Mobile phone Stories October 7, 2015

samsung

There’s good news and bad news for Samsung today. The good news: the company has forecast a reversal of its seven-quarter decline in profits, suggesting an impressive year-on-year hike of almost 80%.

The bad news is that, while the company itself hasn’t released any details on where the profit is coming from, analysts cited by the WSJ and elsewhere put it down to strong growth in sales of chips and displays – not phone sales. This suggests that Samsung is making its money by helping other manufacturers, like Apple, sell their phones …  expand full story

Mobile phone Stories August 27, 2015

82% think it’s rude to use a smartphone at a social gathering, but 89% do it anyway

A Pew study on mobile etiquette found that 82% of Americans think it hurts the conversation when people use smartphones at social gatherings, but 89% did so anyway at the most recent one they attended.

When asked for their views on how mobile phone use impacts group interactions, 82% of adults say that when people use their phones in these settings it frequently or occasionally hurts the conversation […]

In spite of this […], 89% said that they themselves used their phone during their most recent time with others.

Many do at least have the excuse that some of the smartphone use is related to the gathering, 45% posting a photo or video taken there, 41% sharing something that happened there and 38% getting information they thought would be interesting the group.

The majority thought it was fine to use a smartphone while walking down the street, on public transport and while waiting in line – but not at a restaurant, at a family dinner or during a meeting. The worst places to use a smartphone were said to be a movie theater and a church.

Photo: Samsung

Mobile phone Stories August 20, 2015

gartner

New data from Gartner suggests that Samsung saw its worldwide sales fall by 5.3% year-on-year, its market share dropping from 26.2% in Q2 2014 to 21.9% in the same quarter this year. The company lost ground to both Apple and Chinese brands Huawei and Xiaomi.

Despite the launch of new S6 models, Samsung’s premium phones continued to be challenged by Apple’s large-screen iPhones. Samsung lost 4.3 percentage points in market share and declined 5.3 percent in unit sales in the second quarter of 2015.

Samsung was hit hardest by Huawei, which saw sales growth of 46.3%, followed by Apple, which increased its sales by 36% …  expand full story

Mobile phone Stories July 22, 2015

Report: Samsung Galaxy Note 5 to get August 13 unveiling in New York City

For some time now it’s been predicted that Samsung will skip the noise of IFA in September and choose to launch the Galaxy Note 5 in August. We had heard previously that Sammy was planning an event for its flagship phablet on August 12th. Business Korea, however, stepped in this morning with its own information claiming the Note 5 is being launched just a little later than that.

According to the publication’s sources, Samsung will host an unveiling event in New York City on August 13, during which it will announce both the Galaxy Note 5 and Galaxy S6 Edge Plus.

Mobile phone Stories March 25, 2015

AAA road safety campaign shows real videos of teenage car crashes while using smartphones

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has put online video clips from real car crashes caused by 16-19 year old drivers using smartphones while driving. The videos, which show both the view through the windscreen and a view of the driver, are designed to make real the dangers of distracted driving.

None of the crashes featured in the above clip feature injuries, but almost 3,000 people a year are killed in crashes involving drivers in this age-range, the majority of them caused by the driver being “inattentive or engaged in some other non-driving-related activity.” A further 383,000 people a year are injured.

Researchers at the University of Iowa examined carcam footage from 1,691 crashes involving drivers aged 16-19 to determine the cause. Distracted driving was found to be the cause in 58% of crashes, with 12% of them due to using a phone while driving. For crashes involving the car leaving the road, a full third of crashes were attributed to cellphone use.

UK tests conducted earlier this month suggested that smartwatches are even worse than smartphones for driver distraction.

The full AAA report can be downloaded here.

Mobile phone Stories March 13, 2015

watch

UK safety tests have shown that using a smartwatch while driving is more dangerous than using a smartphone, reports the Huffington Post.

The Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) in Wokingham, Berks showed that a driver reading a message on an Apple Watch would take 2.52 seconds to react to an emergency manoeuvre, whereas a driver talking to another passenger would react in 0.9 seconds. Reading on an Apple Watch was even found to be more distracting than using a handheld mobile (1.85 second delay).

While the piece refers to the Apple Watch, the TRL told me that the tests were conducted with an unspecified smartwatch, and was not a full-scale study, but earlier studies have shown that even talking with someone handsfree is more distracting that holding a conversation with someone in the car. expand full story

Mobile phone Stories February 10, 2015

Comms chip company Qualcomm fined almost $1B in Chinese anti-trust case

Qualcomm, which licenses 3G and 4G communications patents to smartphone manufacturers, has been fined almost a billion dollars by the Chinese government in an anti-trust case. The company was found to have abused its dominant position in wireless chip technology by charging “unfairly high” licensing fees to manufacturers of smartphones and tablets.

The 6B Yuan ($960M) fine is the largest fine ever imposed on a foreign company, reports the GuardianChina’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) said that the fine was calculated as 8% of Qualcomm’s 2013 revenue in China. China is responsible for around half of Qualcomm’s total revenue.

Chinese regulators said that Qualcomm bundled together patent licenses, forcing Chinese companies to buy unwanted licenses in order to get the core 3G and 4G ones they needed. Qualcomm said that it was disappointed by the ruling, but has agreed to separate out its licenses to allow companies to purchase only the ones they need.

The ruling should reduce costs for Chinese smartphone makers, but it isn’t known how significant the saving may be, and it’s unlikely to show up as a price-reduction for consumers.

Photo: Mike Blake/Reuters

Mobile phone Stories January 3, 2014

Photo: Fox
Photo: Fox

AT&T has announced incentives worth up to $450 for T-Mobile customers who switch to their service. The move is being made in response to T-Mobile’s Uncarrier offers, after AT&T recently said that it too expected to move toward separating device and service charges.

Proving the old adage that there’s no such thing as a free lunch, the deal of course comes with strings. First, $250 of that is the maximum you’ll receive in return for trading in your existing T-Mobile handset. To get the full $250, you’ll need a recent handset in good condition – in which case you’d almost certainly get more selling it privately …  expand full story

Mobile phone Stories November 30, 2012

EgyptTwitter_avatarv2

Google made an announcement on its official Europe Blog today to confirm it is reactivating the Speak2Tweet service following Internet access being completely shut off in Syria yesterday. It originally launched the service two years ago to allow Egyptians without Internet access to send tweets using only a voice connection. Google noted in the post that since yesterday its “transparency Report has shown that Internet access is completely cut off in Syria.”

For those interested in using the service… Google explained:

Unfortunately we are hearing reports that mobile phones and landlines aren’t working properly either. But those who might be lucky enough to have a voice connection can still use Speak2Tweet by simply leaving a voicemail on one of these international phone numbers (+90 212 339 1447 or +30 21 1 198 2716 or +39 06 62207294 or +1 650 419 4196), and the service will tweet the message… No Internet connection is required, and people can listen to the messages by dialing the same phone numbers or going to twitter.com/speak2tweet.

Mobile phone Stories October 9, 2012

Today Google announced on its Android Building group that Android version 4.1.2 is being released to the Android Open Source Project, the same build spotted running on an LG Nexus prototype yesterday. While the update is listed as minor by Google, improving performance and fixing bugs, it also enables the ability to enter landscape orientation for the Home screen on the Nexus 7. According to reports from Android Police and others, Nexus 7 users are already seeing the 31.3MB update arriving over the air. We have yet to see the update ourselves, but the images above and below come from EETimes.

In other Nexus 7 news, Phandroid pointed us to a retailer’s inventory listing showing the 16GB model as “end of line” and indicating the model would be replaced with a 32GB variant. It’s unclear exactly what this would mean for pricing of the 8GB and 32GB models, but it looks like Google might be planning to drop the 16GB and lower pricing on the remaining models.  expand full story

Mobile phone Stories September 24, 2012

Netflix just announced a new user-interface experience for Android smartphones.

“Compared to the previous version, the new Netflix experience on Android phones is much more immersive,” explained Netflix on its official blog. “It is much closer to the Netflix experience on tablets, which got a major upgrade late last year.”

The updated app now shows more titles and galleries, bringing it up to par with the tablet version, and it features a new browse row at the top of the screen that lets users continue watching content previously started. Just tap the browse menu to access genre lists.

The Instant Queue, which is available in select regions, is now on the Home screen under the Top 10 list, and a new experience area further below displays several rows filled with personalized recommendations. Tap on any title to view more information or double-tap to start instant playback.

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Mobile phone Stories August 23, 2012

Google Goggles updated with faster object tracking and better QR code scanning

Google Goggles received a decent update today that brings more than a few new features and enhancements. Most notably, users no longer have to enable search history to use the “search from camera” function. Google also noted object tracking in continuous mode is now “faster and more robust.” Google then explained a number of ways it improved scanning QR codes with a URL encoded:

– When scanning a QR code that has a URL encoded: – The thumbnail of a page is shown – URL is checked against a malicious URL blacklist – More complete barcode coverage – Support for non-autofocus cameras – When Goggles fails to find an exact match – search for products that look similar.

As always, the updated version of Google Goggles for Android devices running 2.2 and up is free from Google Play now.

Mobile phone Stories July 20, 2012

We just received an invite from Samsung Electronics America to “Save the Date” for a major Galaxy announcement. This business division is not to be confused with Samsung Telecommunications America that handles mobile phones.

What could it be?

We are hoping the Samsung Galaxy Camera lands, but it will likely be a tablet or TV.

SAVE THE DATE

August 15, 2012

10:00AM EST

Please join Samsung Electronics America for a major announcement and unveiling of the newest GALAXY device. An exclusive press conference will take place where full details will be disclosed.

An invitation with details will follow soon.

Thank you.

More as it comes in. expand full story

Mobile phone Stories July 18, 2012

In a blog post on the official Google Africa blog today, the company announced it created Gmail SMS. It is a new service that will allow users to send and receive Gmail messages via SMS. Rolling out first in Ghana, Nigeria, and Kenya, Google explained the feature would hopefully make Gmail even more accessible to users who often find themselves without an Internet connection:

You can now send and receive emails as SMS messages using your mobile phone, regardless of whether or not your phone has an internet connection, like Wifi or 3G. Gmail SMS works on any phone, even the most basic ones which only support voice and SMS. 

Gmail SMS automatically forwards your emails as SMS text messages to your phone and you can respond by replying directly to the SMS. You can control the emails received by replying with commands such as MORE, PAUSE and RESUME. Additionally, compose a new email as an SMS and send to any email address recipient – who will find your message in the right email conversation thread!

Receiving Gmail messages via SMS will be free, but your standard SMS rates will apply for replying to messages and everything else. Google has instructions for how to sign up for the new service on its blog. expand full story

Mobile phone Stories May 5, 2012

This is a special guest post written by Steven Troughton-Smith. Follow him on Twitter or his blog.

When Google first showed off Android, the company showed it running on a device very similar to Blackberries or Nokia E-class devices of the time. This device was the Google Sooner—an OMAP850 device built by HTC with no touchscreen or Wi-Fi. This was the Android reference device…and the device Google originally built the OS on.

Recently, I got access to a Google Sooner running a very early version of Android. With all the recent information coming out of the Oracle vs. Google trial, I thought it would be interesting to take you on a brief tour of the OS. The build of Android this is running was built on May 15, 2007, which is four months after the iPhone announced. The first M3 version of Android announced in November 2007, and Android 1.0 did not come until a year later….

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Mobile phone Stories May 1, 2012

Today, research firm IDC published its Q1 2012 report of top mobile phone and smartphone shipments worldwide. While Apple was able to post impressive growth with a high of 8.8-percent of the total mobile phone market (up from 4.6-percent a year ago) and 24.2-percent of the global smartphone market (up from 18.3-percent), Samsung was able overtake Apple for the top spot with a year-over-year change of 267 percent and 29.1-percent of the total smartphone market. Samsung also took the top spot of global mobile phone marketshare from Nokia for the first time since 2004.

Meanwhile, the worldwide smartphone market grew 42.5% year over year in 1Q12, as Samsung overtook Apple for the smartphone leadership position. Vendors shipped 144.9 million smartphones in 1Q12 compared to 101.7 million units in 1Q11. The 42.5% year-over-year growth was 1% higher than IDC’s forecast of 41.5% for the quarter, and lower than the 57.4% growth in the fourth quarter of 2011

In terms of shipments among smartphone vendors, Apple took the second spot behind Samsung up from 18.6 million units in Q1 2011 to 35.1 million in Q1 2012. Apple was only behind Samsung with 42.2 million units shipped, up from just 11.5 million a year ago.

The company does not publicly release shipments from Samsung, and IDC’s number of 42.2 million smartphones shipped during Q1 is significantly more than the 32 million estimated by IHS iSuppli just days ago. If IHS’s estimate were correct, it would put Samsung much closer to the 35.1 million devices Apple confirmed it shipped sold during the quarter.

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Mobile phone Stories April 3, 2012

Amazon finally nixed AmazonWireless.com‘s beta mode by officially launching the website with two new advantages for the online retailer’s customers.

AmazonWireless first launch in July 2009 as a beta to ease the process of buying cell phones while allotting the best value for top devices. A new benefit for the website is “AmazonWireless Best Price Guarantee.” As the name indicates, Amazon now promises the best cell phones prices with service from the main carriers.

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Mobile phone Stories September 26, 2011

From the Mobilize conference:

T-Mobile’s network is 75% smartphones and 90% of those are Android. That means more than 2/3rds of the devices sold by T-Mobile are Android. That is a big number.  Remember T-Mobile has a million iPhones on its network but those weren’t sold by T-Mobile.

Is it game over for everyone else? expand full story

Mobile phone Stories August 2, 2011

Today Google started rolling out the calling feature that previously only allowed North American Gmail users to make phone calls to landlines and mobile phones to 38 new languages.

Last year, we made it possible for those of you in the U.S. to call any mobile phone or landline directly from Gmail and starting today, we are making this available to many more of you who use Gmail outside the U.S. by offering calling in 38 new languages.

Purchasing calling credit has also been made more accessible and can now be acquired in four currencies including U.S. dollars, Euros, Canadian dollars, and British Pounds. Also starting today, the feature will no longer include connection fees so you “only pay for the time you talk”.

In addition to the announcement, Google also confirmed they will be lowering rates in over 150 locations. You can check out a full list of rates on the Google calling rates page here.

The Gmail calling feature will start to roll out to in the new languages over the next few days. Keep an eye out for a small green phone icon in your chat list within your inbox. expand full story

Mobile phone Stories June 30, 2011

I see these things from time to time on 9to5Toys and wonder how the heck they can make any type of tablet with a 7-inch screen $90.

The one review it does get on Amazon sums it up pretty well:

While the unit does work. It’s slow, and sometimes the touchscreen is unresponsive to touch commands. I basically have to press really hard on the screen for it to take commands.

It does a poor job streaming video from youtube. My Samsung Captivate, cell phone is faster than this unit.

Overall:

Pros: Works, great for web surfing low media content sites, great to use as a picture frame,

Cons: Slow, Touch screen not accurate/responsive.

So, it would appear that you are pretty much buying a photoframe with a battery and a resistive touch screen (enclosed stylus).  Still, for $90…

Mobile phone Stories June 1, 2011

It is pretty desperate times over at Nokia which has lost significant amounts of its market cap Since new CEO Stephen Elop announced plummeting numbers for most of its Symbian Smartphones and dumbphone handsets earlier this week.  What does one expect when the CEO publicly executes its flagship Symbian product with nothing to replace it for almost a year?

The company is now worth $25B and Microsoft is said to be trying to by the mobile phone division for somewhere around $19B.  Nokia-Siemens and its other businesses would likely remain independent.

For Microsoft and Nokia, it seems like a pretty cozy deal.  Microsoft goes from building OSes to building experiences end to end, like Apple, RIM and HP.  Just like PlaysforSure->Zune

But what about Microsoft’s other partners in Windows Phone 7?  Samsung, who has created arguably the best WP7 device in the Focus, HTC who has a broad range of Windows Phone 7 devices, Acer and other players would be left out in the cold.  They won’t use WP7 when Microsoft is making hardware through its Nokia subsidy (again, just like Zune).  You can’t compete against the company that makes your software.

They’d all probably double down on Android at that point.  In fact, just reading the tea leaves now might have executives at those companies scaling back their Windows Phone 7 R&D.

A floundering Nokia tied up with Microsoft could be the best thing to happen to Android yet.

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