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AT&T Brings Back Unlimited Mobile Data To Lure TV Subscribers (bloomberg.com) 68

An anonymous reader writes: Five years after AT&T discontinued its unlimited mobile data plan, the company is bringing it back with a catch: users must be subscribed to DirecTV or U-verse TV as well. The service will start at $100/month for a single subscriber. Two additional users can be added for $40/month each, and the fourth is free. There's also one more caveat: "Customers that exceed 22 gigabytes of data use in one month will have their speed throttled during peak network traffic periods." AT&T looks to do battle with T-Mobile, who has a similar four-person plan. This is one of the first major consequences of AT&T's acquisition of DirecTV last year for $48.5 billion. The company says it will soon roll out other plans to combine the services.

Lenovo To Build Google's First Project Tango Phone (pcworld.com) 48

Press2ToContinue writes: Google and Lenovo announced plans Thursday night in Las Vegas for the first Project Tango phone to be released this summer for less than $500. Project Tango is Google's vision to bring augmented reality to phones by enabling devices to be able to sense where they are and what is around them. During the announcement, Google's Johnny Lee demonstrated measuring a room using a prototype Project Tango tablet and then shopping at Lowes for furniture that would fit it. Google also announced an app incubator for Project Tango, which they hope will encourage developers to start building apps that make use of the AR technology.

A New, App-Based Format For Novels (theguardian.com) 57

HughPickens.com writes: The Guardian reports that Julian Fellowes, creator of Downton Abbey, plans to release his new novel, a historical drama set in London during the 1840s, in installments via an app. It's a tradition that dates back to Charles Dickens, but utilizes modern technology. Each of Belgravia's 11 chapters will be delivered on a weekly basis, and will come with multimedia extras including music, character portraits, family trees and an audio book version. "To marry the traditions of the Victorian novel to modern technology, allowing the reader, or listener, an involvement with the characters and the background of the story and the world in which it takes place, that would not have been possible until now, and yet to preserve within that the strongest traditions of storytelling, seems to me a marvelous goal and a real adventure," says Fellowes.

Publisher Jamie Raab says the format appealed to her precisely because of Fellowes's television background and his ability to keep audiences engaged in a story over months and even years. "I've always been intrigued by the idea of publishing a novel in short episodic bites. He gets how to keep the story paced so that you're caught up in the current episode, then you're left with a cliffhanger."


BlackBerry Will Continue Operations In Pakistan (fortune.com) 36

An anonymous reader writes: At the end of November, BlackBerry announced it would pull its operations out of Pakistan after the country's government demanded access to BlackBerry's user data. The Pakistan government has now dropped that request, and BlackBerry will continue operating there as a result. In a statement, BlackBerry COO Marty Beard said, "We are grateful to the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority and the Pakistani government for accepting BlackBerry's position that we cannot provide the content of our customers' BES traffic, nor will we provide access to our BES servers."

Carrier iQ Goes Under, AT&T Buys Assets and Staff (techcrunch.com) 26

An anonymous reader writes: You may recall a company called CarrierIQ from when it angered tech-savvy internet users four years ago. They developed software that allowed explicit monitoring of anything happening on a cell phone, down to individual keystrokes. It was pre-installed on millions of phones at the time, and Carrier iQ unsuccessfully tried to silence the researchers working to uncover it. As the article notes, the company and its software "became synonymous with creepy, unseen monitoring of everything that you do on a smartphone on behalf of carriers and phone makers." Well, it seems they never really recovered. Carrier iQ seems to have evaporated. The bad news is that they sold most of their assets to AT&T, and handed off some employees as well. AT&T says they've continued to use Carrier iQ's software over the past few years to "improve the customer's network and wireless service experience."

Fujitsu Spins Off Its PC and Mobile Divisions (engadget.com) 100

An anonymous reader writes: Back in February, Sony unloaded the part of its business that built PCs. Now, a year later, competitor Fujitsu is doing the same. The company announced it would be spinning off its PC and mobile business, effective 1 February 2016. Your first reaction was probably, "Fujitsu had a PC and mobile business?" You're not alone, and this is likely why the split is happening. In their press release, they say, "With the ongoing commoditization of ubiquitous products, mainly of PCs and smart phones, it has become increasingly difficult to achieve differentiation, and competition with emerging global vendors has intensified." More simply: they couldn't make a competitive product. Hopefully, this is the start of a trend; the race to zero in the Windows laptop market is finally killing off some of the participants.

Mozilla Will Stop Developing and Selling Firefox OS Smartphones (techcrunch.com) 174

An anonymous reader writes: Mozilla announced today at its developer event in Orlando that the company is ending its smartphone experiment. Mozilla will stop developing and selling Firefox OS smartphones. Ari Jaaksi, Mozilla's SVP of Connected Devices, said, "We are proud of the benefits Firefox OS added to the Web platform and will continue to experiment with the user experience across connected devices." However, he added that it didn't end up providing a great user experience, so they decided to move their efforts elsewhere within the "connected devices" ecosystem. The TechCrunch article notes, "Mozilla has been on a streamlining track lately. Last week it announced that it would be looking for alternative homes for its Thunderbird email and chat client. The aim is for the company to focus more on its strongest and core products and reputation."

Millions of Smart TVs, Phones and Routers At Risk From Old Vulnerability (trendmicro.com) 65

itwbennett writes: Adding fuel to the growing concern over how manufacturers of devices such as routers and smart TVs deal with security vulnerabilities that emerge in their products, Trend Micro found that a 3-year-old vulnerability in a software component used in millions of smart TVs, routers and phones still hasn't been patched by many vendors. Although a patch was issued for the component in December 2012, Trend Micro found 547 apps that use an older unpatched version of it, wrote Veo Zhang, a mobile threats analyst on the Trend Micro blog. 'These are very popular apps that put millions of users in danger; aside from mobile devices, routers, and smart TVs are all at risk as well,' he wrote.

Samsung Agrees To Pay Apple $548 Million Over Smartphone Patents (theverge.com) 64

An anonymous reader writes: After years of legal wrangling over smartphone patents, Apple and Samsung appear to have reached an agreement. The two companies released a joint statement (PDF) saying Samsung will pay Apple $548 million before December 14th. Apple must send them an invoice before they'll pay. It's not a complete stand-down; even their agreement contains disagreement. "The statement notes that Samsung 'continues to reserve all rights to obtain reimbursement from Apple,' although in the same document, Apple disputes these rights. ... Not only does the joint statement reserve Samsung's right to take some of this money back in any future cases, but this summer, the South Korean company announced it would be requesting a U.S. Supreme Court review of its legal case." At the very least, it's a big step toward resolving the mountain of patent issues between the companies.

IRS: We Used Stingray Devices To Track 37 Phones (arstechnica.com) 63

An anonymous reader writes: In October, we discussed the troubling revelation that the U.S. Internal Revenue Service had its own stingray devices, which are commonly used by law enforcement to intercept phone signals and track criminal suspects. The IRS has now addressed these allegations (PDF), confirming that they do indeed have one of the devices, and are trying to get a second. The agency said it tracked 37 phones across 11 different grand jury investigations, and the devices were also used in four non-IRS investigations. They say, "IRS use of cell-site simulation technology is limited to the federal law enforcement arm of the IRS, our Criminal Investigation division. Only trained law enforcement agents have used cell-site simulation technology, carrying out criminal investigations in accordance with all appropriate federal and state judicial procedures."

BlackBerry Exits Pakistan Amid User Privacy Concerns (blackberry.com) 71

An anonymous reader writes: BlackBerry has announced that it will pull its operations in Pakistan from today, quoting a recent government notice which read that the company would not be permitted to continue its services in the country after December for 'security reasons.' In a blog post released by BlackBerry today, chief operating officer Marty Beard confirmed the decision: 'The truth is that the Pakistani government wanted the ability to monitor all BlackBerry Enterprise Service traffic in the country, including every BES e-mail and BES BBM message.' He added: 'BlackBerry will not comply with that sort of directive.'

Pursuit of Slenderness May Mean No More Headphone Jack In iPhone 7 (pcmag.com) 412

An intriguing rumor reported by PC Mag (and initially reported in this Japanese blog) holds that Apple may drop the standard headphone jack from the next revision of the iPhone, in favor of Bluetooth and Lightning connectors. From PC Mag's article: The big question is just how such a move might affect all the other headphones one can buy, as well as the other devices Apple makes. While we can envision some manufacturers making iPhone-exclusive variants of their headphones, we doubt that Apple's potential decision to chop out the headphone jack is going to suddenly make for a market full of Lightning-only headphones and earbuds. There are, after all, plenty of non-iPhone devices that still use the 3.5mm connection. And, of course, you could just pair any ol' pair of Bluetooth headphones or earbuds with the iPhone 7.

On iFixit and the Right To Repair (vice.com) 250

Jason Koebler writes: Motherboard sent a reporter to the Electronics Reuse Convention in New Orleans to investigate the important but threatened world of smartphone and electronics repair. As manufacturers start using proprietary screws, offer phone lease programs and use copyright law to threaten repair professionals, the right-to-repair is under more threat than ever. "That Apple and other electronics manufacturers don't sell repair parts to consumers or write service manuals for them isn't just annoying, it's an environmental disaster, [iFixit CEO Kyle Wiens] says. Recent shifts to proprietary screws, the ever-present threat of legal action under a trainwreck of a copyright law, and an antagonistic relationship with third-party repair shops shows that the anti-repair culture at major manufacturers isn't based on negligence or naiveté, it's malicious."

UK Mobile Operator Could Block Ads At Network Level (telegraph.co.uk) 109

Mickeycaskill writes: UK network operator EE says it is investigating the possibility of blocking adverts at a network level, allowing customers to limit the types and frequency of adverts they see in browsers and applications. The move is likely to concern digital publishers, many of whom rely on advertising revenue to fund their content. Ad blockers have become more popular in recent times, with many users employing them to save battery life, consume less data and protect against malvertising attacks. EE CEO Olaf Swantee said, "We think it’s important that, over time, customers start to be offered more choice and control over the level and intensity of ads on mobile. For EE, this is not about ad blocking, but about starting an important debate around customer choice, controls and the level of ads customers receive. This is an important debate that needs to happen soon."

Blackberry Offers 'Lawful Device Interception Capabilities' (itnews.com.au) 137

An anonymous reader writes: Apple and Google have been vocal in their opposition to any kind of government regulation of cell phone encryption. BlackBerry, however, is taking a different stance, saying it specifically supports "lawful interception capabilities" for government surveillance. BlackBerry COO Marty Beard as much at a recent IT summit. He declined to explain how the interception works, but he denied the phones would contain "backdoors" and said governments would have no direct access to BlackBerry servers. The company may see this as a way to differentiate themselves from the competition.

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