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Google May Prevent Samsung From Adding Viv AI Assistant To Galaxy S8 ( 60

New submitter drunkdrone quotes a report from International Business Times: Samsung is reported to be equipping its upcoming Galaxy S8 flagship with all manner of technical marvels in its attempt to erase the Note 7 catastrophe from memory. However, Google may throw a wrench into the works by potentially prohibiting Samsung from imbuing the phone with one of its most compelling features (Warning: source may be paywalled; alternate source) -- its AI personal assistant. Reports have suggested that Samsung planned to load the Galaxy S8 with Viv, a smartphone-based digital assistant similar to Apple's Siri and Google Assistant. Because of an ongoing non-compete pact between Samsung and Google, however, Samsung may be forced to exclude Viv from its upcoming flagship as would challenge Google's digital helper. The report adds: "According to Recode, the restriction forms part of a patent-sharing agreement Samsung signed with Google in 2014. While the pact will allow the two companies to put up a stronger, united front against Apple, it may hinder Samsung's ambitions for independence and its attempts to differentiate itself from the wider Android crowd."

Comment Re:Please explain (Score 1) 187

Can someone please explain this for us dumb foreigners? I never could make any sense of the US telephone system. Its crazy with being charged for *incoming* calls, and roaming charges when you have not even left the country. Why would the network care if you change handsets? Can't you just buy a new phone from the local tech-shop and swap the SIM over? Upgrade/Activation fees are charged when you purchase a phone under a contract or installment plan to pay for the phone. The carriers claim that it is to cover the costs associated with setting up the new phone which often involves transferring your data one phone to another, walking the customer through the setup of the new phone, etc. The activation fee is essentially paid back the local retailer in the form of commissions or other similar reimbursement systems. This is why online phone purchases often have "free activation" since you don't have to pay for the person behind the counter. (I have about 5 years of experience in cell phone sales.) Really they only stopped charging upgrade fees because they wanted to promote the use of their installment plans to pay for the phones. I have personally been expecting Verizon do go back to charging upgrade fees for awhile now.

Comment Re:Jumping ship? (Score 1) 123

an important tool used by cellular carriers to prevent customers from jumping ship.

Handset locks don't stop anything, it is contract law which ensures people pay for the remainder of their contract terms... Handset locks just decrease the usefulness and resale value of the handset, while creating an artificial grey market in unlocking methods.

I intentionally avoid any operator who supplies locked handsets.

The purpose of locked phones isn't to keep people from switching carriers. Having similar plan pricing, focusing on "best coverage" in specific areas, employer discount programs, retention offers, different network technology and most importantly individuals own reluctance to change does that.

Lots of people want to believe that the big companies lock phones to trap them but the real reason is fraud. Cell phone fraud is a lot bigger than most people think.

It works like this: Company A sells phones and service for Verizon. Company A buys Iphone 6's for about $600. A person comes in and buys 2 iphones for $150 each totaling $300 with a contract. The person then goes to another location to buy more phones. As many as they can get away with. Then the person never pays their bill so Company A NEVER GETS PAID BY VERIZON. Thus they lose $600 per phone. 2 phone = $1200 loss, 5 phones = $3000.

It used to be that people doing this would focus on AT&T. Now they just want Verizon phones because they are unlocked for international use. That makes it lot easier to resell them overseas.

I'm just glad that things are moving to installment plans/ full price phones. Now the carrier is the one taking on the liability. And since installment plans require a higher level credit check it's a lot more difficult to commit fraud. Of course, what it means now is that those with poor credit (mostly low income) are now stuck with cheap phones. They come in to get a good phones and now they have to make a 30-40% down payment, if they can get them at all. It use to be that they would just buy last years flagship phones on contract for $0-$50.

Comment Re:Good guy teleco emplyees... (Score 1) 123

If only the idea of a carrier-locked phone could be made illegal... It would put more pressure on the companies to actually come up with decent pricing and plans to secure their customers!

Having all phones unlocked would have no effect on plan pricing in the US. There are already reasonably priced plans out there from MVNOs. You just have to pay full price for your phone and sacrifice some on customer service. It might have some effect on the price of the phones themselves but the only sure result is that you would have to pay full price for your phone up front all the time, and only those with the very best credit would be able to use installment plans to pay for phones.

Comment Re:No big deal (except the encryption part) (Score 1) 176

You might consider checking out as they claim to not store your password on their servers so that it is impossible for them to decrypt your files without you. Also they have a decent synchronization client for all major OSs. Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with Spideroak, just a user.

Comment Re:re-auction them every 5 years (Score 1) 51

If you actually did that it would put a huge cost burden on the customers. The carriers would have to set aside a large portion of their earnings every year to ensure that they would have enough just to keep the spectrum that they have let alone expand. Not to mention that if they lost an auction they would also loose most if not everything that they invested in their network. The companies that survive would be the ones that are able to squeeze the most money out of their customers and are the best at making back room deals with their competitors. And it wouldn't be the small companies. It would be far better at this point if the FCC just gave the spectrum to some of the smaller carriers so that they could expand their markets and offer more choice to customers. Or just nationalize the network and let companies resell service.

Comment Re:They must have felt the 'heat' (Score 1) 166

it is sad though, that HTC appears to be paying at least US$5 to Microsoft for their more reason for me to avoid HTC.

That doesn't make any sense. It's not as if HTC wants to pay Microsoft money. They are a relatively small company and don't have a choice. If anything, this is yet another reason to avoid Microsoft products and buy an Android based phone.

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