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Businesses

Netflix to Soon Let Users Download Videos, Says Report (dslreports.com) 79

Karl Bode, writing for DSLReport:Netflix will soon let users download and store videos locally, according to Penthera (a Pittsburgh-based firm that focuses on delivery of HD media to mobile devices by storing content on the recipient device) COO Dan Taitz and a report over at Light Reading. Taitz told the outlet that it shouldn't be long before the feature arrives. Netflix has been working harder to help consumers manage broadband caps, and being able to download a video on Wi-Fi for later viewing would go a long way in helping users (especially on wireless networks) that consistently find themselves hamstrung by their monthly usage allotments. "We know from our sources within the industry that Netflix is going to launch this product," Taitz tells the outlet. "My expectation is that by the end of the year Netflix will be launching download-to-go as an option for their customers."Bold move, if it does happen.
Businesses

Google Fiber To Acquire Gigabit Internet Provider Webpass (techcrunch.com) 59

An anonymous reader writes: Google Fiber has announced a deal to acquire high-speed internet service provider Webpass. Webpass is a 13-year-old company that provides high-speed internet, including gigabit service, for businesses and residential customers across parts of the U.S.. Webpass is most widely known in California, with service running in San Fransisco, Oakland, Emeryville, Berkeley and San Diego. It also has service in Miami, Miami Beach, Coral Gables, Chicago, and Boston. The President of Webpass, Charles Barr, said in a blog post: "Joining Google Fiber will be a great development for our users because the companies share the same vision of the future and commitment to the customer," he said. "Google Fiber's resources will enable Webpass to grow faster and reach many more customers than we could as a standalone company." The acquisition should help Google Fiber with its plans to grow to more than 20 U.S. cities in the near future, helping connect to business and residential markets.
Hardware

WiFi-Connected Hard Drive Fits a Plex Server In Your Pocket (engadget.com) 67

An anonymous reader cites an Engadget report:Over the years we've seen Plex's media software run across a number of different devices, from PCs to game consoles to NAS and cellphones. Now, it's teamed up with Western Digital for what it says is the first portable Plex Media Server. The hardware is handled by the My Passport Wireless Pro, a battery-powered portable hard drive that can run standalone for 10 hours, charge mobile devices, and back up data via SD or USB 3.0. The all-in-one box can even create a WiFi network to sync with mobile devices or stream media to any device running Plex. The 2TB version is ready to take your stuff on the go for $230, and upgrading to 3TB only costs an extra $20.
Advertising

Advertiser That Tracked Around 100M Phone Users Without Consent Pays $950,000 (arstechnica.com) 31

Mobile advertising firm InMobi will be paying a fine of $950,000 and revamp its services to resolve federal regulators' claims that it deceptively tracked locations of hundreds of millions of people, including children. Ars Technica reports:The US Federal Trade Commission alleged in a complaint filed Wednesday that Singapore-based InMobi undermined phone users' ability to make informed decisions about the collection of their location information. While InMobi claimed that its software collected geographical whereabouts only when end users provided opt-in consent, the software in fact used nearby Wi-Fi signals to infer locations when permission wasn't given, FTC officials alleged. InMobi then archived the location information and used it to push targeted advertisements to individual phone users. Specifically, the FTC alleged, InMobi collected nearby basic service set identification addresses, which act as unique serial numbers for wireless access points. The company, which thousands of Android and iOS app makers use to deliver ads to end users, then fed each BSSID into a "geocorder" database to infer the phone user's latitude and longitude, even when an end user hadn't provided permission for location to be tracked through the phone's dedicated location feature.
Hardware

Amazon's New Kindle Is Only $80, Comes In White, and With More Storage 87

Found the $290 Kindle Oasis too expensive? Amazon has a new, familiar e-reader for you. On Wednesday, the e-commerce giant announced a new, more-affordable Kindle that is pretty much identical to the Kindle Paperwhite, but costs only $80. It comes in white as well as black, and has 512MB storage space (the Kindle Paperwhite sport a 256MB internal storage chip). From an Ars Technica report:In addition to the extra memory, the $80 Kindle will have a slightly thinner, lighter, and more rounded design than its predecessors. It will have a touchscreen display as well, but it won't be the 300 PPI screen that the $120 Kindle Paperwhite has (it will sport a 167 PPI display instead). Some reports also suggest that the new Kindle will come with Bluetooth support so blind readers can hook up a pair of wireless headphones to listen to books, along with a note-sending feature that will let you send yourself messages and highlights, which can be exported as PDFs or spreadsheets.
Microsoft

Microsoft Launches NFC Payments For Windows 10 Phones (nfcworld.com) 75

Microsoft has finally added support for NFC payments to its mobile operating system Windows 10 Mobile. The company this week introduced the feature in an update to Microsoft Wallet app. Users will now be able to make mobile payments with their MasterCard or Visa accounts. The feature is now available to eligible Windows 10 Mobile handset users who are part of Windows Insiders program. Other users will get it with Windows 10 Anniversary Update in a few months. From a blog post on NFC World: Supporting banks and credit unions include Bank of America, BECU, Chase, First Tech, Fifth Third Bank, People's United Bank, US Bank and Virginia Credit Union. The launch date for each bank will be "posted when available," according to Microsoft. "Microsoft Wallet is a cloud-based payment technology that will make mobile payments simple and more secure for Windows 10 Mobile devices, starting in the US with our Lumia 950, 950 XL and 650," the company says. "With Microsoft Wallet, you simply tap your phone on a contactless payment terminal and your default credit or debit card is charged.
Android

Taking the Headphone Jack Off Phones Is User-Hostile and Stupid (theverge.com) 594

A WSJ report on Tuesday claimed that the next iPhone won't have the 3.5mm headphone port. A handful of smartphones such as LeEco's Le 2, Le 2 Pro, and Le Max 2 that have launched this year already don't have a headphone jack. The Verge's Nilay Patel has an opinion piece in which he argues that smartphone companies shouldn't ditch headphone ports as it helps no consumer. He lists six reasons:
1. Digital audio means DRM audio :Restricting audio output to a purely digital connection means that music publishers and streaming companies can start to insist on digital copyright enforcement mechanisms. We moved our video systems to HDMI and got HDCP, remember? Copyright enforcement technology never stops piracy and always hurts the people who most rely on legal fair use, but you can bet the music industry is going to start cracking down on "unauthorized" playback and recording devices anyway.2. Wireless headphones and speakers are fine, not great.
3. Dongles are stupid, especially when they require other dongles.
4. Ditching a deeply established standard will disproportionately impact accessibility.:The headphone jack might be less good on some metrics than Lightning or USB-C audio, but it is spectacularly better than anything else in the world at being accessible, enabling, open, and democratizing. A change that will cost every iPhone user at least $29 extra for a dongle (or more for new headphones) is not a change designed to benefit everyone.5. Making Android and iPhone headphones incompatible is incredibly arrogant and stupid.
6. No one is asking for this.
Communications

FCC To Vote On Spectrum For 5G Wireless Networks (reuters.com) 38

5G has been in the news for years, but it's not available for commercial use just yet. Things will become clearer this week. The Federal Communications Commission will vote on July 14 to decide new rules to identity and open spectrum for next-generation high-speed 5G wireless applications. Reuters reports: FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said if the FCC "approves my proposal next month, the United States will be the first country in the world to open up high-band spectrum for 5G networks and applications." He said the FCC also will seek comments on opening other high-frequency spectrum bands. Policymakers and mobile phone companies say the next generation of wireless signals needs to be 10 to 100 times faster and be far more responsive to allow advanced technologies like virtual surgery or controlling machines remotely.
Businesses

Google Accused of Stealing Balloon Network Tech Behind Project Loon (thestack.com) 58

An anonymous reader writes: Google's parent company Alphabet has found itself faced with a lawsuit, which claims that the tech giant stole the idea behind its Wi-Fi-emitting balloon network, Project Loon. The Space Data Corporation of Chandler, Arizona, filed the suit and is arguing that it currently holds patents for a balloon-based system which carries broadband antennae to create a wireless network to deliver data services to U.S. armed forces and across remote areas of Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico. The organization is seeking damages for two counts of patent infringement, as well as two counts of misappropriation of trade secrets and breach of written contract. Space Data says in their complaint that they had med with as many as 10 Google representatives, including Larry Page and Sergey Brin, in 2007 and 2008 to discuss potential partnerships. They say Google did not agree with the collaboration, and chose to steal trade secrets and start developing their own balloon network in 2011 instead. "Project Loon improperly and unlawfully utilizes Space Data's confidential information and trade secrets which Space Delta disclosed to Defendant Google pursuant to a 2007 Mutual Confidentiality and Non-Disclosure Agreement," the complain states.
Communications

Scientists Amplify Light Using Sound On a Silicon Chip (phys.org) 21

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Phys.Org: Yale scientists have found a way to greatly boost the intensity of light waves on a silicon microchip using the power of sound. Writing in the journal Nature Photonics, a team led by Peter Rakich describes a new waveguide system that harnesses the ability to precisely control the interaction of light and sound waves. "Silicon is the basis for practically all microchip technologies," said Rakich, who is an assistant professor of applied physics and physics at Yale. "The ability to combine both light and sound in silicon permits us to control and process information in new ways that weren't otherwise possible." Rakich said combining the two capabilities "is like giving a UPS driver an amphibious vehicle -- you can find a much more efficient route for delivery when traveling by land or water." "Figuring out how to shape this interaction without losing amplification was the real challenge," said Eric Kittlaus, a graduate student in Rakich's lab and the study's first author. "With precise control over the light-sound interaction, we will be able to create devices with immediate practical uses, including new types of lasers." The researchers said there are commercial applications for the technology in a number of areas, including fiber-optic communications and signal processing. The system is part of a larger body of research the Rakich lab has conducted for the past five years, focused on designing new microchip technologies for light.
Wireless Networking

Bluetooth 5 With 2x More Range and 4x Better Speed Coming Next Week (arstechnica.com) 94

Bluetooth is about to get more powerful. Mark Powell, executive director of the Bluetooth Special Interest Group noted in a newsletter that Bluetooth 5 will debut on June 16. The new incarnation of wireless standard offers "double the range and quadruple the speed of low energy Bluetooth transmissions." From an Ars Technica report: It also adds "significantly more capacity to advertising transmissions," which is more exciting than it sounds because it doesn't necessarily have anything to do with what you normally think of when you think of "advertising." In the Bluetooth spec, an "advertising packet" allows Bluetooth devices to send small snippets of information to other Bluetooth devices even if the two aren't actually paired or connected to one another.It's currently unclear whether existing devices will be able to support the new standard.
Network

A Solution To the Security Guidelines Proposed By FCC For Home Routers (imgtec.com) 55

An anonymous reader writes: Back in March 2015, the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued a security document that included a series of provisions related to the use of wireless devices. In order to comply with these security guidelines, some manufacturers of home routers and other networking equipment decided to lock down the software powering these devices. This caused an outcry from the open source community who demanded that the FCC and manufacturers would not restrict the free use of the operating system and associated software running on their devices. Now Imagination Technologies is presenting a proof of concept demonstration that addresses the next-generation security requirements mandated by the FCC and other similar agencies. The demo makes use of a feature of MIPS Warrior CPUs called multi-domain, secure hardware virtualization. This technology allows developers to create system-wide, hardware-enforced trusted environments that are much secure compared to current solutions. The platform used for the demonstration runs three virtual machines (VMs) on a MIPS P-class CPU integrated in a router-type evaluation kit; this approach securely separates the OpenWrt operating system from the Wi-Fi driver, allowing them to co-exist in isolation and thus comply with the FCC guidelines.Ars Technica has more details.
Android

Maru OS Exits Private Beta, Lets You Use an Android Phone As a Linux Desktop (liliputing.com) 60

Maru OS has exited beta, and is now available to anyone who wants to give it a try. For those unaware, Maru OS offers a platform that runs Android as well as Debian Linux on a smartphone. When you connect a Maru OS-powered smartphone to an external display, you get "full-fledged Linux desktop environment." Maru OS was unveiled in February, and currently supports only one smartphone: Nexus 5. The developers behind it have also started to work on making the project open source. They hope that doing this will help them support other devices as well. Brad Linger, writes for Liliputing: Work has also begun on making Maru OS an open source project, which could allow additional developers to contribute to the project or port it to run on other phones, although the current version of the Maru OS does require phones that support HDMI via MHL or SlimPort, which means not all phones will be able to run the software unless wireless display support is added in the future.
The Internet

Qualcomm's Connected Car Reference Platform To Connect Smart Cars To Everything (networkworld.com) 110

An anonymous reader writes: Qualcomm wants to supply the next generation of autonomous and connected cars with networking to connect everything inside and outside of the cars. That means 5G, WiFi, Bluetooth, GNSS, DSRC, V2X, OABR, CAN, etc. ... [Networkworld reports: "Qualcomm today announced its Connected Car Reference Platform intended for the car industry to use to build prototypes of the next-generation connected car. Every category from economy to luxury car will be much smarter than the connected luxury car of today, creating a big opportunity for Qualcomm to supply semiconductors to automakers and suppliers. Qualcomm described the following features of the Connected Car Reference Platform in its release:

Scalability: Using a common framework that scales from a basic telematics control unit (TCU) up to a highly integrated wireless gateway, connecting multiple electronic control units (ECUs) within the car and supporting critical functions, such as over-the-air software upgrades and data collection and analytics.
Future-proofing: Allowing the vehicleâ(TM)s connectivity hardware and software to be upgraded through its life cycle, providing automakers with a migration path from Dedicated Short Range Communications (DSRC) to hybrid/cellular V2X and from 4G LTE to 5G.
Wireless coexistence: Managing concurrent operation of multiple wireless technologies using the same spectrum frequencies, such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and Bluetooth Low Energy.
OEM and third-party applications support: Providing a secure framework for the development and execution of custom applications."]

Communications

T-Mobile Is Giving Customers Stock In the Company (cnn.com) 78

T-Mobile is going to great lengths to lure customers. On Monday, the United States' third-largest wireless carrier announced that it will give one share of T-Mobile stock to millions of customers. These customers, the company added, will get a chance to earn more stocks if they are able to refer friends and make them switch over. CNN reports: The company isn't issuing new stock, so the program won't dilute existing shareholder value. T-Mobile will buy shares from the open market and give them to customers. T-Mobile estimated about 1 million shares in its SEC filing, but Legere says he wants "millions and millions" of customers to participate. "I'm gonna thank you like you've never been thanked before," Legere said during an event in New York. The new "Stock Up" promotion is part of T-Mobile's Un-carrier marketing strategy, which strives to give customers more flexibility on data usage. In the past, the company has offered promotions for video and music streaming, roll-over data plans and international roaming.
Google

Google's Self-Driving Cars Now Know When To Honk (engadget.com) 156

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Engadget: Google's self-driving cars are not only getting smarter by the day, but they're also getting a little bit more polite. According to the project's latest monthly report, the self-driving car team has recently been teaching the car's AI when and how to honk the horn and give the human drivers on the road a helpful heads up. In order to train its honking algorithm, the team tested a variety of honk-worthy situations, like a car backing out of a blind driveway or a car headed the wrong way down a one-way street. At first, the car would play a little honk sound inside the vehicle so engineers could record whether there was a legitimate need for a honk and provide teaching feedback. Once they felt the AI was ready, they let it blare its horn to the world. The report goes on to say Google has "sound-designed the self-driving car's 'hum' so pedestrians and cyclists around the car can hear it coming." The sound increases when the car speeds up, and decreases when the car slows down.
Medicine

Samsung Unveils Gear Fit 2 Activity Tracker and IconX Wireless Earbuds (theverge.com) 25

An anonymous reader writes: At its New York City event today, Samsung unveiled two new wearables: an updated Gear Fit 2 activity tracker and IconX wireless earbuds. The Fit 2 features a thinner design than its predecessor, a curvier 1.5" Super AMOLED display, built-in heart-rate monitor, GPS, 4GB of built-in storage, and auto multi-sport and sleep tracking. Samsung promises three to four days of use on a single charge, and they are offering it in two sizes to appeal to male and female users. It's priced at $179, with in-store availability on June 10th. The IconX is Samsung's first truly wireless Bluetooth earbuds, featuring a built-in heart-rate monitor, and the ability to track one's distance and speed. The earbuds feature 4GB of storage, similar to the Fit 2, and are priced at $199 with a Q3 release date. Samsung notes that fitness bands comprise more than 50 percent of the wrist-worn device market, which is a way for the company to justify releasing new devoted fitness devices in addition to smartwatches.
Android

Police Are Filing Warrants For Android's Vast Store Of Location Data (theverge.com) 158

The Verge is reporting about a man who robbed a Bank of America office in Romana, California. A person, named Timothy Graham, matching his profile robbed another bank in November. The investigators, however, didn't have enough evidence to prove that Graham was indeed the same person who robbed the other bank as well. The cops contacted Google and utilised a feature of Maps that builds a comprehensive history of where a user has been -- information that is proved valuable to police and advertisers alike. The publication claims that in the past few months, police have used this Maps' feature in several other instances as well. From the report: Investigators had already gone to Graham's wireless carrier, AT&T, but Google's data was more precise, potentially placing Graham inside the bank at the time the robbery was taking place. "Based on my training and experience and in consultation with other agents," an investigator wrote, "I believe it is likely that Google can provide me with GPS data, cell site information and Wi-fi access points for Graham's phone." [...] It's not clear whether either of the public warrants were filled. No Google-based evidence was presented in Graham's trial, and the other suspect plead guilty before a full case could be presented. Still, there's no evidence of a legal challenge to either warrant. There's also reason to think the investigators' legal tactic would have been successful, since Google's policy is to comply with lawful warrants for location data. While the warrants are still rare, police appear to be catching on to the powerful new tactic, which allows them to collect a wealth of information on the movements and activities of Android users, available as soon as there's probable cause to search.
Government

US Court Says No Warrant Needed For Cellphone Location Data (reuters.com) 147

Dustin Volz, reporting for Reuters: Police do not need a warrant to obtain a person's cellphone location data held by wireless carriers, a U.S. appeals court ruled on Tuesday, dealing a setback to privacy advocates. The full 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia, voted 12-3 that the government can get the information under a decades-old legal theory that it had already been disclosed to a third party, in this case a telephone company. The ruling overturns a divided 2015 opinion from the court's three-judge panel and reduces the likelihood that the Supreme Court would consider the issue. The decision arose from several armed robberies in Baltimore and Baltimore County, Maryland, in early 2011, leading to the convictions of Aaron Graham and Eric Jordan. The convictions were based in part on 221 days of cellphone data investigators obtained from wireless provider Sprint, which included about 29,000 location records for the defendants, according to the appeals court opinion.
Software

Ubuntu Phones To Feature Wireless Display Support With OTA-11 Update (softpedia.com) 31

prisoninmate writes from a report via Softpedia: The moment you've all been waiting for is almost here, as you will no longer need a cable to connect your Ubuntu Phone to your TV or a supported LCD monitor. Canonical will soon release the OTA-11 software update to supported Ubuntu Phone devices implementing the Aethercast (also known as Miracast or Display Casting) technology that provides Wireless display support to Ubuntu Phone devices, but only for Meizu PRO 5, which comes with out-of-the-box wireless display functionality. Some other features of the OTA-11 update include: the adoption of the NetworkManager 1.2 network connection manager, an updated VPN feature with username and password authentication support, a pre-loaded Home Scope which will allow for a faster startup, multiple application windows, and subtitles in the header. In addition, the positioning in location service has been greatly improved, Dynamic Grid Unit (DGU) support is now available, and many bugs have been fixed (squashed). You can view a list of the devices that support the OTA-11 update here.

UPDATE 5/31/16: The report has been updated to clarify that the Meizu PRO 5 is the only device that supports wireless display functionality out-of-the-box.

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