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The Almighty Buck

Apple Is In Talks To Launch Its Own Venmo (recode.net) 26

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Recode: The company has recently held discussions with payments industry partners about introducing its own Venmo competitor, according to multiple sources familiar with the talks. The service would allow iPhone owners to send money digitally to other iPhone owners, these people said. One source familiar with the plans told Recode they expect the company to announce the new service later this year. Another cautioned that an announcement and launch date may not yet be set. The new Apple product would compete with offerings from big U.S. banks as well as PayPal, its millennial-popular subsidiary Venmo, as well as Square Cash in the increasingly competitive world of digital money-transfers. Apple has also recently held discussions with Visa about creating its own pre-paid cards that would run on the Visa debit network and which would be tied to the new peer-to-peer service, sources told Recode. People would be able to use the Apple cards to spend money sent to them through the new service, without having to wait for it to clear to their bank account.
Network

Slashdot Asks: Which Wireless Carrier Do You Prefer? 206

Earlier this year, telecommunications giants like T-Mobile, AT&T, Verizon and Sprint were battling to see who could release the best unlimited data plan(s). T-Mobile started the domino chain reaction with the launch of its "One" unlimited plan in August. But the competition became especially fierce in February when Verizon introduced unlimited data plans of their own, causing Sprint and AT&T to unveil new unlimited data plans that same week, both of which have their own restrictions and pricing. Each of the four major carriers have since continued to tweak their plans to ultimately undercut their competitors and retain as many customers are possible.

Given how almost everyone has a smartphone these days and the thirst for data has never been higher, we'd like to ask you about your current wireless carrier and plan. Which wireless carrier and plan do you have any why? Is there any one carrier or unlimited data plan that stands out from the others? T-Mobile, for example, recently announced that it added 1.1 million customers in Q1 2017, which means that it has added more than 1 million customers every quarter for the past four years. Have they managed to earn your business? MyRatePlan has a good breakdown of the current unlimited data plans on the market today.
Botnet

Developer of BrickerBot Malware Claims He Destroyed Over Two Million Devices (bleepingcomputer.com) 88

An anonymous reader writes: In an interview today, the author of BrickerBot, a malware that bricks IoT and networking devices, claimed he destroyed over 2 million devices, but he never intended to do so in the first place. His intentions were to fight the rising number of IoT botnets that were used to launch DDoS attacks last year, such as Gafgyt and Mirai. He says he created BrickerBot with 84 routines that try to secure devices so they can't be taken over by Mirai and other malware. Nevertheless, he realized that some devices are so badly designed that he could never protect them. He says that for these, he created a "Plan B," which meant deleting the device's storage, effectively bricking the device. His identity was revealed after a reporter received an anonymous tip about a HackForum users claiming he was destroying IoT devices since last November, just after BrickerBot appeared. When contacted, BrickerBot's author revealed that the malware is a personal project which he calls "Internet Chemotherapy" and he's "the doctor" who will kill all the cancerous unsecured IoT devices.
Android

Samsung Will Fix the Galaxy S8 Red Tint Issue With a Software Update (xda-developers.com) 31

When the Galaxy S8 and S8+ first launched, several users reported a red tint to the displays. But then a few days passed and more reports emerged about the issue being widespread, especially in South Korea where many owners are facing this issue. According to XDA Developers, Samsung is aware of the issue and will be issuing a software update to fix it. From the report: Some thought this was just the nature of OLED technology. Because it's organic, it is expected to have some sort of variance from one device to another. We've seen this time and time again on Samsung devices, and others which are using AMOLED panels that were sourced from Samsung. This is generally not a widespread issue though and most of the time the difference is rather small. For whatever reason though, this doesn't seem to be the case with the Galaxy S8 and the Galaxy S8+. This new OTA update to fix the red tint issue is said to be coming next week at the end of April, and Samsung assures their customers that there isn't a problem with the phone itself.
Desktops (Apple)

Apple Forces Recyclers To Shred All iPhones and MacBooks (vice.com) 223

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: Apple released its Environmental Responsibility Report Wednesday, an annual grandstanding effort that the company uses to position itself as a progressive, environmentally friendly company. Behind the scenes, though, the company undermines attempts to prolong the lifespan of its products. Apple's new moonshot plan is to make iPhones and computers entirely out of recycled materials by putting pressure on the recycling industry to innovate. But documents obtained by Motherboard using Freedom of Information requests show that Apple's current practices prevent recyclers from doing the most environmentally friendly thing they could do: Salvage phones and computers from the scrap heap. Apple rejects current industry best practices by forcing the recyclers it works with to shred iPhones and MacBooks so they cannot be repaired or reused -- instead, they are turned into tiny shards of metal and glass. "Materials are manually and mechanically disassembled and shredded into commodity-sized fractions of metals, plastics, and glass," John Yeider, Apple's recycling program manager, wrote under a heading called "Takeback Program Report" in a 2013 report to Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. "All hard drives are shredded in confetti-sized pieces. The pieces are then sorted into commodities grade materials. After sorting, the materials are sold and used for production stock in new products. No reuse. No parts harvesting. No resale."
Android

Benchmarks Show Galaxy S8 With Snapdragon 835 Is a Much Faster Android Handset (hothardware.com) 82

MojoKid writes: Samsung recently launched the Galaxy S8 series of Android smartphones to much fanfare but only recently did the handsets begin to arrive in market for testing and review. Though the high-polish styling of the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ may or may not appeal to you, few would argue with its claims of significant performance gains and improved battery life. As it turns out, in deep-dive testing and benchmarking, the Galaxy S8 series is significantly faster than any other Android handset on the market currently, especially when it comes to graphics and gaming workloads. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor on board the GS8 is currently a Samsung exclusive, though it's expected to arrive in other handsets later this year. The Adreno 540 graphics engine on board the new Snapdragon chip is roughly 25% faster than the previous generation 820/821 series, though the chip is only about 10 percent faster in standard CPU-intensive tasks. Regardless, these are appreciable gains, especially in light of the fact that the new Galaxy S8 also has much better battery life than the previous generation Galaxy S7 series. The Samsung Galaxy S8 (5.8-inch) and Galaxy S8+ (6.2-inch) are expected to arrive at retail this week and though pricing is carrier-dependent, list for roughly $720 and $850 respectively, off contract.
Iphone

Apple To Launch Three New iPhones This Year: Bloomberg (bloomberg.com) 96

Apple is reportedly building three new iPhones, though the one with the most new features might not launch until a couple of months after the others. According to a report on Bloomberg, Apple is testing three new phones that it plans to launch this fall, including two with the same screen sizes as the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. The third iPhone, which may be named to help celebrate the 10th anniversary of the original iPhone's launch, is said to pack a new design with a stainless steel frame and curved glass. It's said to feature an embedded fingerprint reader and use OLED panels from Samsung and may have a screen that takes up most of the front of the smartphone's face. From the article: Apple also tested a more ambitious prototype with the same slightly curved front and steel frame, but a glass back with more dramatic curves on the top and bottom like the original iPhone design from 2007, one of the people said.
Transportation

Despite Well Known Risks, Survey Finds Most People Use Smartphones While Driving (cbslocal.com) 344

From a report: Everyone knows it's dangerous, but a lot of people are still doing it -- driving while distracted. In a survey of 3-million motorists, almost 9 out of 10 admitted to using their smartphone behind the wheel. According to a report by Zendrive, which studied device use among 3.1 million drivers over 5.6 billion miles of driving, in 88 percent of trips, drivers made at least some use of their phones. On average, they spent more than three-minute on the phone.
Canada

'Breakthrough' LI-RAM Material Can Store Data With Light (ctvnews.ca) 104

A Vancouver researcher has patented a new material that uses light instead of electricity to store data. An anonymous reader writes: LI-RAM -- that's light induced magnetoresistive random-access memory -- promises supercomputer speeds for your cellphones and laptops, according to Natia Frank, the materials scientist at the University of Victoria who developed the new material as part of an international effort to reduce the heat and power consumption of modern processors. She envisions a world of LI-RAM mobile devices which are faster, thinner, and able to hold much more data -- all while consuming less power and producing less heat.

And best of all, they'd last twice as long on a single charge (while producing almost no heat), according to a report on CTV News, which describes this as "a breakthrough material" that will not only make smartphones faster and more durable, but also more energy-efficient. The University of Victoria calculates that's 10% of the world's electricity is consumed by "information communications technology," so LI-RAM phones could conceivably cut that figure in half.

They also report that the researcher is "working with international electronics manufacturers to optimize and commercialize the technology, and says it could be available on the market in the next 10 years."
Security

Remote-Access Router Exploit Finally Revealed (helpnetsecurity.com) 38

"Back in the days, Cisco fixed the vulnerability, but we are not sure about all other router vendors and models because there are too many of them," writes the DefenseCode team. Orome1 quotes a new report from Help Net Security: Back in January 2013, researchers from application security services firm DefenseCode unearthed a remote root access vulnerability in the default installation of some Cisco Linksys (now Belkin) routers. The flaw was actually found in Broadcom's UPnP implementation used in popular routers, and ultimately the researchers extended the list of vulnerable routers to encompass devices manufactured by the likes of ASUS, D-Link, Zyxel, US Robotics, TP-Link, Netgear, and others. Since there were millions of vulnerable devices out there, the researchers refrained from publishing the exploit they created for the flaw, but now, four years later, they've released their full research again, and this time they've also revealed the exploit. The researchers pointed out that most users don't update their router's firmware -- meaning many routers may still be vulnerable.
Cellphones

Children As Young As 13 Attending 'Smartphone Rehab' As Concerns Grow Over Screen Time (independent.co.uk) 152

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Independent: Children refusing to put down their phones is a common flashpoint in many homes, with a third of British children aged 12 to 15 admitting they do not have a good balance between screen time and other activities. But in the U.S., the problem has become so severe for some families that children as young as 13 are being treated for digital technology addiction. One "smartphone rehab" center near Seattle has started offering residential "intensive recovery programs" for teenagers who have trouble controlling their use of electronic devices. The Restart Life Center says parents have been asking it to offer courses of treatment to their children for more than eight years. Hilarie Cash, the Center's founder, told Sky News smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices can be so stimulating and entertaining that they "override all those natural instincts that children actually have for movement and exploration and social interaction."
Operating Systems

Microsoft Confirms Only a Handful of Windows Phones Will Receive Windows 10 Creators Update (zdnet.com) 46

Windows Phone has less than a 1 percent market share in the mobile industry, but it is not completely dead, yet. In fact, if you own a relatively new Windows Phone, it may receive a new update that will give new life to it. Microsoft has confirmed today that only a subset of Windows Phone handsets will be getting the Windows 10 Creators Update when it begins rolling out on April 25. ZDNet reports: [Here's] Microsoft's list of supported phones: Alcatel IDOL 4S; Alcatel OneTouch Fierce XL; HP Elite x3; Lenovo Softbank 503LV; MCJ Madosma Q601; Microsoft Lumia 550; Microsoft Lumia 640/640XL; Microsoft; Lumia 650; Microsoft Lumia 950/950 XL; Trinity NuAns Neo; VAIO VPB051. "Devices not on this list will not officially receive the Windows 10 Creators Update nor will they receive any future builds from our Development Branch that we release as part of the Windows Insider Program. However, Windows Insiders who have devices not on this list can still keep these devices on the Windows 10 Creators Update at their own risk knowing that it's unsupported," said Windows Insider chief Dona Sarkar in today's blog post. Microsoft attributed the short list of support phones to Insider feedback that indicated older phones might not be providing "the best possible experience" for customers. Microsoft also released a Fast Ring test build of Windows 10 Mobile for phones to Fast Ring Insiders today. That build number is 15204 and it includes a number of bug fixes. This is the first Redstone 3 build for Windows Phones. It's only available to Insider phone users of handsets that are on the list above.
Privacy

Virgin Media Starts Turning Customer Routers Into Public Wi-Fi Hotspots (arstechnica.co.uk) 149

UK ISP Virgin Media is expanding its public Wi-Fi network by co-opting customers' home routers as hotspots. Only the most recent router design (the SuperHub v3) will be recruited at first, and customers can opt-out from the program if they wish. Virgin says the change will have "no impact on customers" because affected homes will be allocated extra bandwidth. ArsTechnica offers more context: A little background: a couple of years ago, Virgin Media started trialling a public Wi-Fi service very similar to "BT Wi-Fi with FON," where residential BT customers have their routers turned into hotspots. For some reason the broad rollout of Virgin's service was delayed until now. There are some curious differences between BT and Virgin Media's approach, though. For starters, it seems only Virgin Media customers will have access to this nationwide Wi-Fi network; BT grants free access to BT customers, but non-customers can pay for access ($5 per hour). The owner of that subverted hotspot doesn't get any of the money, of course. Furthermore, while BT customers must share their ADSL or VDSL bandwidth with any public Wi-Fi users, Virgin Media promises that "your home network is completely separate from Virgin Media WiFi traffic, meaning the broadband connection you pay for is exclusively yours, and just as secure."
Cellphones

Researchers Develop Master Fingerprints That Can Break Into Smartphones (digitaltrends.com) 29

Researchers at New York University and Michigan State University have recently found that the fingerprint sensor on your phone is not as safe as you think. "The team has developed a set of fake fingerprints that are digital composites of common features found in many people's fingerprints," reports Digital Trends. "Through computer simulations, they were able to achieve matches 65 percent of the time, though they estimate the scheme would be less successful in real life, on an actual phone." From the report: Nasir Memon, a computer science and engineering professor at New York University, explained the value of the study to The New York Times. Modern smartphones, tablets, and other computing devices that utilize biometric authentication typically only take a snapshots of sections of a user's finger, to compose a model of one fingerprint. But the chances of faking your way into someone else's phone are much higher if there are multiple fingerprints recorded on that device. "It's as if you have 30 passwords and the attacker only has to match one," Memon said. The professor, who was one of three authors on the study, theorized that if it were possible to create a glove with five different composite fingerprints, the attacker would likely be successful with about half of their attempts. For the record, Apple reported to the Times that the chance of a false match through the iPhone's TouchID system is 1 in 50,000 with only one fingerprint recorded.
Android

Samsung Is Delaying the 'Voice' Part of Its New Bixby Voice Assistant (washingtonpost.com) 38

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Washington Post: A much-touted feature of Samsung's next smartphones isn't going to work as advertised when the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ launch April 21. Samsung said it's delaying the launch of voice-command capabilities for its Bixby voice assistant in English, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal. Although some of its features will still work, the report said, Bixby -- Samsung's answer to Apple's Siri -- won't be able to respond to any user voice commands, perhaps until as late as May. The Korean-language version of Bixby will have all of its features at launch, the Journal report said. The reason this is a big deal is because Samsung has touted Bixby as a big new feature for the Galaxy S8. Not only is it baked into the software, but it features a dedicated Bixby button on the lefthand side of the phone. The new assistant is designed to "perform almost every task that the app normally supports using touch," according to PhoneDog. "It'll be able to understand the current context and the state of the app that you're in without interrupting the work that you're doing," and will be able to "understand commands with incomplete commands, meaning you don't have to remember the exact phrase that you have to say to perform a task with an assistant."
Cellphones

Scientists Prove Your Phone's PIN Can Be Stolen Using Its Gyroscope Data (digitaltrends.com) 61

A team of scientists at Newcastle University in the UK managed to reveal a user's phone PIN code using its gyroscope data. "In one test, the team cracked a passcode with 70 percent accuracy," reports Digital Trends. "By the fifth attempt, the accuracy had gone up to 100 percent." From the report: It takes a lot of data, to be sure. The Guardian notes users had to type 50 known PINs five times before the researchers' algorithm learned how they held a phone when typing each particular number. But it highlights the danger of malicious apps that gain access to a device's sensors without requesting permission. The risk extends beyond PIN codes. In total, the team identified 25 different smartphone sensors which could expose compromising user information. Worse still, only a small number -- such as the camera and GPS -- ask the user's permission before granting access to that data. It's precise enough to track behavior. Using an "orientation" and "emotion trace" data, the researchers were able to determine what part of a web page a user was clicking on and what they were typing. The paper has been published in International Journal of Information Security.
Chrome

Chrome Now Uses Scroll Anchoring To Prevent Those Annoying Page Jumps (techcrunch.com) 113

Google has updated its Chrome browser to fix the annoying page jumps that occur when pages are loading. While developers want pages to load the actual content of a page before additional ads and images appear, "the problem is that if you've already scrolled down, your page resets when some off-screen ad loads and you're suddenly looking at a completely different part of the page," reports TechCrunch. From the report: The latest versions of Chrome (56+) do their best to prevent these jumps with the help of a feature called scroll anchoring. Google tested scroll anchoring in the Chrome beta versions for the last year and now it's on by default. Google says the feature currently prevents almost three jumps per page view -- and, over time, that number will likely increase.
Businesses

Qualcomm Says Apple Broke Contract, Hindered Performance of Its Chipsets (arstechnica.com) 92

Qualcomm has filed a 139-page rebuttal of a lawsuit lodged by Apple in January in which the US chipmaker counterclaimed that the iPhone giant was "misrepresenting facts and making false statements." From a report on ArsTechnica: It alleged that Apple had "breached" and "mischaracterized" deals it had in place with Qualcomm and accused the Tim Cook-run firm of interfering with the chipmaker's "long-standing agreements" with iPhone and iPad manufacturers, such as Foxconn. In a statement, Qualcomm said, "Apple effectively chose to limit the performance of the Qualcomm-based iPhones by not taking advantage of the full potential speed of which Qualcomm's modems are capable. Apple's actions were intended to prevent consumers from realizing that iPhones containing Qualcomm chipsets performed far better than iPhones containing chipsets supplied by Intel."
Cellphones

FCC Kills Plan To Allow Mobile Phone Conversations On Flights (pcworld.com) 99

An anonymous reader quotes a report from PCWorld: On Monday, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission killed a plan to allow mobile phone calls during commercial airline flights. Since 2013, the FCC and the Federal Aviation Administration have considered allowing airline passengers to talk on the phones during flights, although the FAA also proposed rules requiring airlines to give passengers notice if they planned to allow phone calls. The plan to allow mobile phone calls on flights drew sharp objections from some passengers and flight attendants who had visions of dozens of passengers trying to talk over each other for entire flights. But FCC Chairman Ajit Pai on Monday killed his agency's 2013 proceeding that sought to relax rules governing the use of mobile phones on airplanes. Under the FCC proposal, airlines would have decided if they allowed mobile phone conversations during flights.
Iphone

The iPhone 7 Has Arbitrary Software Locks That Prevent Repair (vice.com) 199

Jason Koebler, reporting for Motherboard: Apple has taken new and extreme measures to make the iPhone unrepairable. The company is now using software locks to prevent independent repair of specific parts of the phone. Specifically, the home buttons of the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus are not user replaceable, raising questions about both the future repairability of Apple products and the future of the thriving independent repair industry. The iPhone 7 home button will only work with the original home button that it was shipped with; if it breaks and needs to be replaced, a new one will only work if it is "recalibrated" in an Apple Store.

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