January 31, 2015

'Micro-volunteer' your time to help the blind

eyegrid_3180994b.jpg A new app called Be My Eyes allows you to “micro-volunteer” tiny portions of your time, perhaps less than a minute, remotely via your smartphone. The Telegraph reports.

quotemarksright.jpgThe idea is to lend your sight to a blind person, via a one-way video link, and help them accomplish a task that is simple for you but impossible for them.

Imagine cooking a meal, but being unable to tell one can of food from another. Or receiving a letter and not knowing if it was a bill, a wedding invitation or junk mail. Or perhaps you have taken a taxi to an appointment but can't find the correct doorbell.

All you need to do to register is download the app and set up a profile, identifying yourself either as a sighted volunteer or a blind user. From that point on you're available to anyone who needs assistance.

When a blind users requests help, a call goes out to a random sighted volunteer. The clever part is that there’s no pressure: if you’re in the middle of something, you can ignore it, and another user will pick it up. But if you are free you can answer with a tap and help with their problem.

According to Hugh Huddy, policy manager at the Royal National Institute of Blind People, said it could make life easier for thousands: “For blind and partially sighted people who use a smartphone, Be My Eyes is an important and innovative new development which could make a big difference to their lives.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read more.

January 30, 2015

The one chart that shows how Facebook has nailed mobile

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Many online companies knew that mobile was the future, but few have transitioned as impressively as Facebook, both in product and business. Quartz reports.

-- It owns four mobile apps that live in the top ten lists of the world’s app stores, including two it acquired—Instagram (genius deal) and WhatsApp (looking good).

-- It now has almost 750 million daily active users on mobile, representing more than 80% of its total daily users.

-- It also has more than a half-billion monthly users who only access Facebook on mobile—up more than 75% from a year ago.

-- And it now generates 69% of its advertising revenue on mobile, up from effectively zero three years ago, without even really tapping into Instagram.

But here’s one chart that says it all, via long-time mobile industry watcher Benedict Evans, who is a partner at Andreessen Horowitz, the venture capital firm.


Read full article.

BulkSMS gets taken to new heights

Below is another good example of how text messaging is being used and a reminder that SMS remains the most reliable option to reach someone. According to a report from Deloite published in 2014, Short Messaging Services vs Instant Messaging: Value vs volume:

quotemarksright.jpgSMS is the one messaging standarad common to almost every mobile phone. There are 32 billion unique mobile subscribers that can send and receive SMS. MIM is popular, but it requires a smartphone, tablent or MP4 player. It also need a mobile data plan, or a connection to a WiFi network. Both are ubiquitous in some regions of the world, but in some markets, such most of the African region, only a minority has mobile broadband and even few have fixed broadband. Further, many over-the-top providers are incompatible with each other.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Screen Shot 2015-01-30 at 10.22.52.pngThe British Balloon and Airship Club (BBAC) runs four competitive events annually where members and balloon enthusiasts can enjoy the thrill of competing approximately 2,000 feet off the ground. The competitions are also vital in the selection process for the UK team that goes to the European and world ballooning events.

Communication with the members and officials exist on three simple platforms including the club website, email groups and SMS. The club started using the BulkSMS web platform in 2011 when they realised they needed a system in place that provided a fast and reliable way of communicating to all members and race participants.

According to Tony Molony, Senior official of the Competitions club it is extremely important that the messaging system is reliable because the sport is heavily dependent on the weather, specifically wind speed and direction. “It is [also] our primary method of telling pilots to land should the weather change whilst they are in flight, so it is vital that it works."

Read full article.

emily | 10:19 AM | New SMS Services | permalink

January 29, 2015

Is smartphone penetration massively overestimated?

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Over a quarter of Android devices worldwide are dual-SIM, according to a new report, suggesting that smartphone penetration has been massively overestimated. The Telegraph reports.

quotemarksright.jpgMulti-SIM smartphones were developed as a way to help people stay connected, but new research claims that the popularity of these devices could be creating a distorted view of the mobile market.

Most of the figures published on mobile penetration are based on subscriber numbers provided by network operators, which assume that each active SIM card represents an individual subscriber.

In the UK and US, this is a fair assumption, as dual SIM devices are uncommon, used by under 5 per cent of the population. However, a new report by OpenSignal reveals that there are places in the world where over 40 per cent of new Android users have multi-SIM devices, suggesting that smartphone penetration has been massively overestimated.

"If you add all the numbers of subscriptions you’ll over-count the number of users because some will have subscriptions on multiple networks," said OpenSignal in its report.

"This is a significant result, not only for understanding consumer behaviour, but because it impacts the calculations of how many people in the world have mobile devices and therefore the figures on mobile penetration in individual countries.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

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January 28, 2015

You’re spending more time playing mobile games than ever before

imgres.jpg The average time spent playing mobile games in 2014 increased by 57 percent compared to 2012, according to a report from industry intelligence group NPD Group. [via VentureBeat]

quotemarksright.jpgThe study reveals that people spent about 3 hours every day playing games on their iPhones, Android, and tablets. In 2012, that was 2 hours, 20 minutes. While phones are a big part of this trend, it’s actually the larger tablets that are leading the increase in game time.

The NPD notes that not only do people spend more time playing games on tablets, but these gamers are also more likely to spend money. That’s a good thing for the industry, and it is a big reason why mobile gaming has grown into a $25 billion market.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article and NPD Press release.

emily | 8:34 AM | SMS and Gaming | permalink

January 22, 2015

Bill and Melinda Gates want to fix another messy global problem: banking

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... In Bill and Melinda's annual letter published today, they’re outlining ambitions to tackle another messy sector: banking. Quartz reports.

quotemarksright.jpgThe central thesis of the letter, which lays out goals for the 15-year-old Gates Foundation’s next 15 years, is of unparalleled progress ahead for the world’s poor. (Last year’s annual letter predicted there would be almost no poor countries by 2035.)

It’s also based on the belief that mobile banking will transform the lives of the world’s poor. They write:

By 2030, two billion people who don’t have a bank account today will be storing money and making payments with their phones. And by then, mobile money providers will be offering the full range of financial services, from interest-bearing savings accounts to credit to insurance.

The Gates Foundation’s focus is on supporting the creation of mobile-money systems over which financial services can be provided. The foundation has previously provided funding to help the spread of the M-Pesa mobile-money service pioneered in Kenya, and invested in bKash in Bangladesh.

“The thing we’re trying to create is essentially a debit card with your cell phone where you have transaction costs for digital transfers under 2%,” said Bill Gates in an interview with Quartz. “So whether it’s savings or transferring to other accounts or taking out loans, you have that basic capability, and innovators can do educational or agricultural offerings on top of that.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

Apple's apps economy 'as big as Hollywood'


Apple's app developers earned as much collectively as Hollywood did from US box offices in 2014 according to Asymco analyst Horace Dediu, reports The Telegraph.

quotemarksright.jpgApple recently revealed that apps generated over $10 billion (£6.6bn) in revenue for developers in 2014, while Hollywood also took $10 billion in box office revenues, according to Box Office Mojo.

While Hollywood’s revenue stream is made up of more than just US box office takings, Horace Dediu, founder of analyst firm Asymco, pointed out that the app economy is also made up of more that Apple’s App Store billings.

"The Apps economy includes Android and ads and service businesses and custom development. Including all revenues, apps are still likely to be bigger than Hollywood," he said.

The app industry is also healthier than Hollywood, sustaining many more jobs (627,000 iOS jobs in the US versus 374,000 in Hollywood). It is easier to enter, has a wider reach, and offers a higher median income (many actors earn less than $1,000 a year).

Mr Dediu noted that apps are now a bigger digital content business than music, TV programmes, movie rentals and purchases put together. Apple passes 70 per cent of app revenues directly to developers – a much larger proportion artists in other formats get.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

QualityTime app records how long you spend interacting with your phone

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Californian developers have created a new app called QualityTime which records how long you spend interacting with your phone, even going as far as to log how many times you use each app. At the end of the day or the week you can then look back at your totals. And the numbers may shock you. The Telegraph reports.

quotemarksright.jpgYou can then impose limits on yourself if you don’t like what you see, setting alerts to inform you when you’ve spent too long using a certain app – or even locking you out for a certain time for your own good.

The developers say that the software is intended to “curb your habits” and “help you manage and control your usage”.

At the moment the app is only available on Android phones.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read more.

January 20, 2015

Quickie makes mobile conversations disappear, just like in real life

Screen Shot 2015-01-20 at 18.28.02.pngThe New Webt reports on a new free app for Android and iOS called Quickie that makes mobile conversations disappear, just like in real life.

quotemarksright.jpgThe app is touted as a “live messaging app for the next generation” and it keeps it dead simple. Add up to eight of your close friends, then you can send quick messages, GIFs from your camera, voice messages, or drawings.

Messages in Quickie are ephemeral; once you’ve seen them once, they’re gone forever. If you don’t check it for 24 hours, they’ll also be automatically deleted.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

Microsoft patents 'Inconspicuous mode for mobile devices'

Noisy and bright mobile phones are the bane of cinemagoers, theatre fans and significant others trying to get to sleep in dark bedrooms. But Microsoft has now been granted a patent for a system that automatically puts a handset into an “inconspicuous mode” when it detects that it’s in a venue which demands a little restraint. [via The Telegraph

quotemarksright.jpgWhen in “inconspicuous mode” the phone would not make any sounds, the screen would be dimmed and even the background wallpaper may be changed to a solid dark colour.

Notifications on the screen would also be simplified, perhaps only showing the time to help those who use their handset as a watch.

How does the mobile phone know when to enter Inconspicuous Mode, for one?

Microsoft suggests that it could automatically take the step when it detects that it is in a darkened and quiet room, which may indicate that it’s in a darkened theatre, cinema or bedroom at bed time.

It doesn’t explain how it would differentiate that from a dark pocket or bag, however.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

emily | 6:08 PM | Technology | permalink

January 16, 2015

App Lets You Take Back Your Text Messages

Screen Shot 2015-01-16 at 16.54.30.png An app called Strings that lets you permanently take back text messages that you sent out. Created by Be Labs in Seattle, Strings allows users to “spontaneously and fearlessly” share your personal thoughts and photos from your smartphone. Its like WhatsApp, but you have more control. [via Forbes]

quotemarksright.jpgUsers cannot download or share your content without your approval. If someone tries to take a screenshot of your content, then the app detects it and suspends that user’s account. When you leave a conversation, everything that you sent will be removed. After deleting a photo, video or message that you sent, it is removed from every participant’s device. When you deactivate your account, all of your photos, videos and chat messages are deleted on all phones and servers.

The Strings app has several limitations. The biggest limitation is that everyone that you send the message to must have Strings downloaded also. Once you send out the text, the receivers may see it — even though you can take it back anytime. And Android users will have to wait since Strings is only available for iOS as of right now. quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

January 12, 2015

Smartphones and tablets cause skin wrinkling condition dubbed 'tech-neck'

turkeyneck.jpg A recent study asserting that texting was harmful to the spine has been brushed aside by other scientists, who claim that looking down at your phone exerts no more pressure than reading a book or watching your step while you walk.

The real risk is developing a "turkey neck", even at a young age. The Telegraph reports.

quotemarksright.jpgDermatologists say that constant neck bending to look at screens is leading to sagging skin, dropping jowls and a distinct crease above the clavical, a condition they have dubbed ‘tech-neck.’

Dr Christopher Rowland Payne, Consultant Dermatologist at The London Clinic, said: “The problem of wrinkles and sagging of the jowls and neck used to begin in late middle age but, in the last 10 years, because of 'tech-neck', it has become a problem for a generation of younger women.”

The ‘tech-neck’ crease is found mostly in people aged 18 to 39 who have an average of three digital devices and peer at their screens up to 150 times a day – accelerating the impact of gravity and natural loss of the skin’s elasticity.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read more.

January 9, 2015

Apple customers spend $500m in App Store in single week

Appstore_2610363b.jpg Apple customers spent nearly half a billion dollars on apps and in-app purchases during the first week of January, with new Year's Day marking the busiest day in the App Store's history. The Telegraph reports.

quotemarksright.jpg2014 also marked a bumper year for the App Store after billings rose by 50 per cent and apps generated over $10bn in revenue for developers.

“This year is off to a tremendous start after a record-breaking year for the App Store and our developer community,” said Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet Software and Services. “We're so proud of the creativity and innovation developers bring to the apps they create for iOS users and that the developer community has now earned over $25bn.” App Store developers have earned a cumulative $25bn from the sale of apps and games since the distribution platform's introduction in 2008.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read more.

January 7, 2015

WhatsApp tallies 700M monthly active users

Screen Shot 2015-01-07 at 09.25.46.png WhatsApp, ne of the world's most popular mobile messaging services continues growth three months after Facebook acquisition. C/net reports.

quotemarksright.jpgThe company, whose app is used by people around the world to send texts without paying carrier fees, said 700 million people now use its app each month, up from 600 million in August. Users are sending 30 billion messages per day, WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum wrote in a Facebook post.

That makes it one of the world's largest social networks -- bigger than Twitter's 284 million or even its corporate cousin, the photo-sharing service Instagram, which tallied 300 million users last month. Facebook itself, however, is still bigger, topping 1.3 billion users signing in each month.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

January 2, 2015

Mobile payments bring light to Kenyan villages

Solar+panels+xxx.jpg The wife of a cow herder recently switched on a light in her home for the first time ever, all thanks to a mobile phone. BusinessDay Live reports.

quotemarksright.jpgRokoine Tipanoi used the mobile phone in November to make a tiny down payment on a solar panel on her roof that provides electricity to her home. The payment was so small, in fact, that it is cheaper to light her room now than it was to fill her old kerosene lantern.

Hundreds of thousands of such payments have allowed a Kenyan startup called M-Kopa to build a business, one light bulb at a time.

"Now I have two lights, instead of one lamp. And I can charge my phone," Ms Tipanoi said of the new solar panel she snagged for a $30 deposit and daily fees of 40 Kenyan shillings, or less than 50 cents.

Across Kenya, mobile money is breathing life into micro business. Companies whose business models are based on mobile payments have shown how targeting some of the world’s poorest customers can not only pay but also be a promising way to grow. Small digital transactions are fuelling new ventures, from insurance to loans, and pointing the way for other companies that want to reach the global poor, or the "bottom billion".

"The mobile phone made the bottom of the pyramid viable as a business opportunity," said Aly Khan Satchu, who runs a Kenyan investment firm. "If you’re taking a dollar off a million people, that’s a reasonable revenue stream, but it wasn’t possible to do that without the mobile phone.quotesmarksleft.jpg

December 23, 2014

Samsung’s Look At Me app for Android helps kids with autism make eye contact

Screen Shot 2014-12-23 at 17.49.11.png Those who live with autism often have trouble making eye contact with others and perceiving emotions in others. A new app from Samsung might help children develop these skills — and make it fun too. [via TheNextWeb]

quotemarksright.jpgDubbed ‘Look At Me‘, the new app for Android uses smartphones’ cameras to help kids learn to read people’s moods, remember faces and express themselves with facial expressions and poses.

The app is geared towards helping children with autism to develop their communication skills, so they are more comfortable in various social situations as they grow up. Look At Me is available for free from Google Play.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Watch video demo on YouTube.

December 20, 2014

BlackBerry on a phone that self-destructs


BlackBerry Ltd is working with Boeing Co on Boeing's high-security Android-based smartphone that could elf-destruct if it tampered with, the Canadian mobile technology company's chief executive said on Friday. [via Reuters].

quotemarksright.jpgThe Boeing Black device encrypts calls and is aimed at government agencies and others that need to keep communications and data secure.

The Boeing phone uses dual SIM cards to enable it to access multiple cell networks and can be configured to connect with biometric sensors and satellites. Boeing has begun offering the phone to potential customers.

The BlackBerry Enterprise Service, or BES 12, will allow clients such as corporations and government agencies to manage and secure not just BlackBerry devices on internal networks, but those that run on rival operating systems such as Google's Android and Apple's iOS.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

Huge flaw that undermines privacy of mobile phone networks revealed by German researchers

German researchers have discovered security flaws that could let hackers, spies and criminals listen to private phone calls and intercept text messages on a potentially massive scale - even when mobile networks are using the most advanced encryption now available. The Sydney Morning Herald reports.

quotemarksright.jpgThe flaws, to be reported at a hacker conference in Hamburg this month, are the latest evidence of widespread insecurity on SS7, the global network that allows the world's mobile carriers to route calls, texts and other services to each other.

... These vulnerabilities continue to exist even as mobile carriers invest billions of dollars to upgrade to advanced 3G technology aimed, in part, at securing communications against unauthorised eavesdropping. But even as individual carriers harden their systems, they still must communicate with each other over SS7, leaving them open to any of thousands of companies worldwide with access to the network. That means that a single carrier in Congo or Kazakhstan, for example, could be used to hack into mobile networks in the United States, Europe or anywhere else.

"It's like you secure the front door of the house, but the back door is wide open," said Tobias Engel, one of the German researchers.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

December 16, 2014

KENYA: People will receive from now their electricity bills via SMS and email

Kenya Power, one of companies which operate in the electricity transmission and distribution system in the country will begin to send bills via emails and SMS to its customers. [via MedAfrica]

quotemarksright.jpgAccording to Ben Chumo, Kenya Power acting managing director of the company will save more than US$ 9.3 million every year with the new system.

The company said that the new system will also send alerts to customers on news, products, notify customers who are disconnected for non-payment of bills a day before and updating applicants for new power connections.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read more.

The Rise of a New Smartphone Giant: China’s Xiaomi

images.jpg In China, the smartphone battle used to be Samsung versus Apple. But not anymore. The New York Times reports.

quotemarksright.jpgOver the summer, a Chinese company, Xiaomi, took the No. 1 position in China’s competitive market and became the world’s third-largest phone maker in the process.

Founded in 2010 as a lean start-up to sell smartly designed phones at cheap prices over the Internet, Xiaomi was decidedly late to the game. Its first handset came out around the time of the iPhone 4S.

But a clever social media strategy and a business plan that emphasized selling services that work on the phone helped Xiaomi build frenzied support from young and trendy Chinese.

With people in China expected to buy 500 million smartphones in 2015 — more than three times as many as will be sold in the United States, according to the research firm IDC — Xiaomi is poised to cement its place as one of the most powerful phone makers in the world’s most important market.

Now the company’s founders, who include the Chinese entrepreneur Lei Jun and the former Google executive Lin Bin, hope that status will help them take their brand globally.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read more.

December 11, 2014

Text alerts 'help prompt people to take their pills'

A text messaging service could help people remember to take the medicines they have been prescribed," BBC News reports, after a small trial scheme in London helped increase drug adherence in people with cardiovascular disease. [via NHS]

quotemarksright.jpgLack of adherence – not sticking to a recommended treatment plan – is a known problem in some people with chronic diseases, such as heart disease.

The BBC reports up to half a billion pounds a year is wasted as a result of people not taking medication and resulting complications that could have been avoided.

The study recruited 303 adults who were taking blood pressure tablets such as Perindopril, or pills to lower their cholesterol (statins).

Half the participants received text messages over a six-month study period and the other half did not – more people in the text group took their medication as prescribed compared with the "no text" group (91% versus 75%).

The main difference between the groups appeared to be related to people being telephoned by a healthcare professional if they did not respond to the text, or if they replied they had stopped taking their medication.

This telephone call resolved medication issues in almost all cases. In contrast, it does not appear any such measures were in place for the other group.

Text messages could be a cost-effective method of improving adherence and could potentially be used for other chronic conditions.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Full article.

December 8, 2014

Text messaging turns 20

imgres.jpg Neil Papworth, a software programmer from Reading, sent an early festive greeting to a mate on December 3, 1992. The Guardian reports.

quotemarksright.jpgAs text messaging turned 20 last week More than 8 trillion were sent last year. Around 15 million leave our mobile screens every minute. There is now text poetry, text adverts and text prayers and an entire generation that's SMS savvy.

Aged 22, Papworth was part of a team developing a Short Messaging Service Centre at Vodafone's site in Newbury, Berkshire. The idea was to use text as an in-company paging service: "We thought SMS was a clever way for a company's staff to send simple messages to one another."

It took seven years from Papworth's festive greeting for texting to become popular, let alone spawn that whole new style of linguistics from LOL to L8TR and other trunc8ed spellings and acronyms that have become universally understood. UK mobile phone companies believed people wouldn't want to type in a message when they could simply speak.

SMS took off. According to a survey by mobile communication firm Acision, it is still the most popular way to message despite competition from email and social networking messaging services with 92% of smartphone users still preferring to text.

... From his new home in Canada, where he works as a software architect for Tekelec, Papworth yesterday sent the Observer a message: "IMHO, SMS is still the GR8ST :-)"quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

December 2, 2014

Unplugged Weddings Are The Latest Craze


Over the last year photographers, wedding planners, and even the couples themselves, are planning unplugged weddings in which guests are asked to refrain from recording devices, especially during the actual ceremony.

quotemarksright.jpgCamera phones at weddings are a huge problem for photographers,” Minneapolis-based photographer Liz Banfield tells Yahoo Style. “Not only do these guests get in the way but they also can ruin the background of a photo. Literally every aisle shot I have from the last few years has someone holding out a phone into the aisle.quotesmarksleft.jpg

[via Yahoo! Style]

November 27, 2014

Yes, There is such a Thing as Smartphone Junkies

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Ultra-wired South Korea takes smartphone addiction more seriously than any other country. Should we listen? A fascinating read by Elizabeth Woyke for Medium. Wokye is also author of The Smartphone, a new book about the smartphone industry.

quotemarksright.jpg... Though the psychiatric establishment has been slow to add technological addictions to its repertoire of diagnoses, a growing band of clinicians in South Korea is finding evidence in favor of them.

Currently, Korean clinicians define smartphone addiction as excessive use that hinders users’ daily lives and triggers symptoms of craving, mood modification and withdrawal.

In one recent study, Korean psychiatrist and addiction specialist Sam-Wook Choi, and several colleagues wrote that smartphone addiction, like other impulse-control disorders, can “interfere with school or work; decrease real-life social interaction; decrease academic ability; and cause relationship problems.”

Because smartphones are portable and easy to conceal, identifying overuse is more difficult than with PC-based online gaming. As a result, researchers feel some urgency to better characterize this condition.

Smartphone addicts tend to use their phones in a distinctive way. Problematic smartphone usage stems more from how and why people use their phones. For example, a recent study by Lee, the KAIST professor, found that people who turn to their smartphones for “mood adjustment purposes,” such as to relieve boredom, stress or depression, may form a habit of using their phones for those objectives, which can lead to addictive behaviors.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

November 24, 2014

The endangered SIM card

Moves to reinvent, or even abolish, the SIM card could have big consequences. The Economist reports.

quotemarksright.jpgThe job of the SIM (subscriber identity module) is to store some unique numbers and an encryption key, which are used to identify the subscriber when the device is communicating with the network.

For as long as wireless networks carried mostly voice calls, SIMs worked well. Their chips are hard to hack: prying them open to get at the stored information can make them self-destruct. Since only mobile operators were allowed to issue SIMs, and were given much leeway over the terms on which they did so, they were able to create monthly payment schemes which subsidised the upfront cost of a handset. This helped mobile telephony to get going, and thereafter provided a mechanism for persuading consumers to keep on trading their old phones for ever more sophisticated new ones.

However, now that most mobile devices can connect through Wi-Fi, their SIM cards no longer seem quite so indispensable. Most tablets, even those with SIM card slots, are not bought from a mobile operator; and the cost and hassle of signing up for a SIM card, so as to use the device when there is no Wi-Fi available, is too much for many buyers.

So, Apple’s new SIMs are meant to make it easier to sign up for a mobile operator—and to encourage people to choose the pricier iPad models that contain them.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article

November 19, 2014

What texting does to the spine


Sixty pounds is roughly the weight of four adult-sized bowling balls. Or six plastic grocery bags worth of food. Or an 8-year-old. [via Quartz]

quotemarksright.jpgIt is also, according to a new calculation published in the journal Surgical Technology International, the amount of force exerted on the head of an adult human who is looking down at her phone.

According to Nielsen, Americans spend about an hour on their smartphones each day. Unless you train yourself to stare straight ahead into your iPhone screen, you could be continually stressing your spine. For Kenneth Hansraj, a New York back surgeon, “these stresses lead to early wear, tear, degeneration, and possibly surgeries.”

Of course, physical therapists have been howling about the scourge of “Text Neck” for years. But it’s certainly eyebrow-raising to learn that looking at Twitter in the supermarket checkout line is the equivalent of giving an aardvark a piggy-back ride.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

Snapchat launches Snapcash money transfer service

Ephemeral messaging service Snapchat has teamed up with payment processing company Square to launch a new money transfer service called Snapcash, that allows users to send and receive money directly from the app. The Telegraph reports.

quotemarksright.jpgSquare already offers a payment app called Square Cash, which allows users to type a dollar amount into the subject line of an email in order to send cash to friends.

Snapcash builds on this by allowing Snapchat users to type the dollar amount into a private message and transfer the money into the recipient's pre-registered account with the touch of a button.

The service is currently limited to Snapchat users in the United States who have a debit card and are 18 or older. However, it is possible the company will roll it out on a wider scale if it proves to be successful.

Snapchat emphasised that no personal financial data will be stored on Snapchat's servers. Square will be responsible for storing all user bank and debit card information, and for handling transactions.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

November 18, 2014

U.S. Mobile Payments Market to Boom by 2019, Research Firm Says

Screen Shot 2014-11-18 at 09.08.42.png Mobile-based payments in the United States are expected to reach $142 billion in volume in 2019, according to a report Forrester, from about $50 billion currently. The New York Times reports.

quotemarksright.jpgIn the study, which released on Monday morning, the firm spoke to a dozen payments industry companies, including PayPal, Verifone and Visa. They indicated that the shift to mobile commerce was growing quickly.

Companies like Google, PayPal and AT&T have tried for years to create their versions of a mobile wallet, but they have not gotten much traction. Forrester claims that the market has matured over the last five years, and it expects that the next five will be the tipping point bringing mobile payments into the mainstream.

“It’s not just that we have smartphones. It’s that we’re increasingly dependent or rely on or expect them to deliver more,” said Denée Carrington, a Forrester analyst.

Ms. Carrington expects that Apple Pay, the first major e-commerce product from the tech giant Apple, will accelerate much of the growth of in-person mobile payments at the register.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article

November 14, 2014

Report: Feds Using Airplanes to Target Criminal Suspects’ Cell-Phone Data

The Justice Department is using equipment on board aircraft that simulates cell towers to collect data from criminal suspects’ cell phones, according to a report Thursday.[via TIME]

quotemarksright.jpgCiting “people familiar with the operations,” the Wall Street Journal reports that a program operating under the U.S. Marshals Service is said to use small aircraft flying from five different airports around the country. Devices aboard those planes called “dirtboxes” essentially trick the suspects’ cellphones into thinking they’re connecting to legitimate cell towers from big wireless carriers like Verizon or AT&T, allowing the feds to scoop up personal data and location information about those targeted.

However, the report details those devices could be gathering data from “tens of thousands” of Americans in a single flight, meaning nonsuspects are likely to be included in the data roundup. The new report could shed some light on earlier reports of mysterious “phony” cell towers that security researchers have found around the country.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

November 11, 2014

Reuters wants to convince young people to embrace TV news on their phones

screen-shot-2014-11-10-at-23-20-32.jpg Reuters TV, which the company showed off at an event in New York last night, is intended to be a new kind of TV news for a generation that largely gets its news elsewhere. Quartz reports.

quotemarksright.jpgReuters TV comes in the form of a smartphone or tablet app that will download a tailored video news bulletin at any time of day or night. The content will depend on what’s currently breaking, how long a bulletin you want—you can specify from five to 30 minutes—and your interests, which the app learns as you watch. (Reuters anticipates that people will set it to load up a bulletin before they leave home or work, and watch on the commute.)

It also includes live feeds from Reuters TV crews around the world; should you so desire, you can spend your entire day watching people lounge around their tents at Hong Kong’s Occupy Central.

All this is made possible by some in-house technology and a team of editors, who pull in reports from Reuters’ ma

ssive network of worldwide correspondents and re-edit them into packages of several different lengths. It is slick, well-made, and undeniably clever. Nobody else has built so comprehensive a hybrid between the old format of TV news with modern ways of consuming media.quotesmarksleft.jpg

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November 10, 2014

Mobile Data Collection Apps in Fight Against Ebola


Magpi, a leading provider of configurable, cloud-based mobile data collection and communication applications, today announced several government agencies and nonprofit organizations are already using its technology in the fight against Ebola.

The U.S. Department of Defense, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), and International Rescue Committee (IRC) are among some of the organizations currently using Magpi in West Africa for contact tracing, identification of bodies, lab reporting, health supply tracking, and other purposes.

In addition, Magpi announced it has added photo collection to its technology. Users can now take photos along with form data in order to better collect and analyze information. The new feature will be used to take photos of unidentified Ebola victims at burial, in an effort to let their families locate them later.

“We’re incredibly pleased to be a part of such important work that is helping in the fight against this deadly disease,” said Dr. Joel Selanikio, CEO and co-founder of Magpi. “Using Magpi instead of paper forms will save critical time in gathering and analyzing data as we work to contain and eliminate Ebola as soon as possible.”

[via Press release] Follow Magpi on Twitter @Magpi_Mobile.

Image from US News article: 'Mobile Phones, Social Media Aiding Ebola Fight'.

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