Go ahead and call your mother, she'd love to hear from you. No home phone, you say? No worries, chatting on your mobile phone is probably safe. It's not going to cause tentacles to grow out of your head, if that's what you're worried about, and according to a Danish study of more than 350,000 people, cellphone users aren't at a higher risk of getting cancer.
Chris Paget made a name for himself back in 2009 when he exposed security vulnerabilities in RFID that allowed him to wirelessly download the contents of US passports from a parked car, and he’s making headlines again by exposing serious problems in the GSM cellphone network. Using nothing more than an off the shelf laptop, and a pair of RF antennas he was able to successfully imitate an AT&T cellphone tower which allowed him to intercept and record phone calls. “As far as your cell phones are concerned, I'm now indistinguishable from AT&T,” he told a crowd at this year’s DefCon security conference.
The demonstration was supposed to highlight a major flaw in the 2G GSM system which automatically directs phones to the tower with the strongest signal, apparently without proper authentication. So far the system only works on outgoing calls, but is a pretty critical flaw in the most commonly used wireless technology in the world. "GSM is broken," Paget said, "The primary solution is to turn it off altogether." I’m willing to bet carriers will take his recommendation “under advisement”, but hopefully a more reasonable fix is possible with the existing hardware.
It is unknown at this point if similar vulnerabilities exist in CDMA, but for the time being anyway, it will be the last refuge for tin foil hat wearing propeller heads who need to keep their calls private at any cost.
They always say the best camera is the one you have with you, but if you're like me, then you probably have more than one camera phone shot that probably wasn't even worth the effort. Low light images taken with small sensors often come out dull and granny if you're lucky, but more often the picture serves as a reminder that the pinhole camera you used wasn't really up to the task. The bigger the camera the better the picture seemed to always be the rule of thumb, but a little known technology called Quantum Dots could challenge this theory.
Manufacturer InVisage explains that the quantum dots used in its technology are actually tiny semiconducting crystals and are able to absorb various colors thanks to a "doppelganger trick". If the technology lives up to its promise, it means smaller cameras will be able to capture more light then they do currently, vastly improving the quality of low light shots. "Placing the quantum dots on top of the electronics means more pixels can be crammed into a given area and less incoming light is lost. Moreover, photodetectors based on quantum dots produce less noisy images, so the picture is sharper even if the number of pixels is not increased."
No products have been announced, and sure this is all still just scientific theory, but I think batteries and cameras are two technologies that everyone is hoping will get better and smaller in the next few years. Intel can make a million transistors dance on the head of a pin, but my Blackberry still can't take a picture outdoors after 5 PM, go figure.
Opera has always had a tough time taking on the big guys in the desktop browser market, but anyone who has given Opera Mini a try on their smart phone platform of choice would probably be pleasantly surprised. Rather than simply spitting out web pages just like everyone else, the "Mini" version of the browser will actually relay messages through the company's compression servers, vastly reducing both load time and data usage on the device. This feature makes it one of the fastest mobile browsers available for any of the open smart phone platforms, which up until now, included just about everything short of the iPhone.
Well according to Opera's Jon von Tetzschner the company is not just working on an iPhone version of its browser, but that it doesn't anticipate Apple having any problem with it either. "Our expectation is that Apple will allow it," von Tetzschner said. "Why will they block ours?" My response to this would be simply, why wouldn't they block it? Apple has a pretty strict policy when it comes to app's that duplicate native phone functionality, but I suppose only time will tell.
Maybe Apple wants to get ahead of the anti-trust wrecking ball then inevitably hunts down anyone who tries to shoehorn web browsers into monopolistic markets, but I wouldn't count on it. Expect to see a release notice, or angry blog posting from Opera within the next few weeks.
Blackberry users love email, and those who don't probably wish they had an iPhone. RIM's primary advantage over the years has been dynamite push email services, but as any Gmail user will tell you, support for Google's free email service has been somewhat lacking. Push support allowed users to retrieve Gmail messages, but when they got home to check their inboxes the old fashion way, anything read on the Blackberry was still marked as un-read even with IMAP enabled. Gmail users simply had no way to label or organize messages on the go. This was a frustrating limitation, but luckily for Blackberry Gmail users, this is all set to change.
RIM has confirmed plans to upgrade its North American BIS servers from 2.8 to 3.0 on Sunday March 28th, and along with a slew of other compatibility updates, support for 2-way Gmail sync as well as labels will be added. The BIS servers are the secret sauce hosted by RIM which allows up to 10 email accounts to be pushed to a single device. This allows mobile users to drastically reduce the amount of data the phone needs to transmit in order to conduct common tasks such as forwarding and opening email attachments.
Blackberry push email service will be disrupted between 2AM and 6AM EST as a result of the upgrade, but if you're a Gmail user on a Blackberry, it's a small price to pay.
Apple Insider has also found its anonymous knight in stealthy armor. It identified its source as a Microsoft/Danger insider. For those of you who don’t know, Danger is the company that developed the T-Mobile Sidekick before being bought by Microsoft for $500 million in 2008. Danger is rumored to have been converted into “Pink”.
The insider source echoed the claims made by MobileCrunch’s source. But then the anonymous-source ego came into the picture and he made a desperate attempt to prove his superioriy as the more conscientious anonymous source of the two. He believes that the person who originally spilled the beans is clearly a “disgruntled former or current employee.”
“I have my share of disgruntlement about the situation, but it never occurred to me to do something like that. This is actually the worst possible timing for Microsoft for this information to come out (on the heels of the awful reviews of WM 6.5), and I suspect that it has already caused irreparable damage to their relationships with a number of key partners, to which I say, 'Bravo, leaker, well played.' Now allow me to twist the knife...,” he said. He is quite certain that Microsoft had intentionally leaked photos of “Pure” and “Turtle” – the two Pink phones.
But the move seems to have backfired as the tepid response to the leaks seems to have given Microsoft cold feet. I hope you are in the vicinity of a few grains of salt.
A major defect in Research in Motion's (RIM's) new BlackBerry Tour could turn into a financial SNAFU for the smartphone maker, cautions Gerard Hallaren, director of research at TownHall Investment Research.
According to Hallaren, RIM is "having a big trackball problem," one which puts BlackBerry Tour owners in the unenviable position of having to frequently apply a blast of compressed air to avoid letting the trackball get all gunked up. We suppose it could be worse, as anyone who is 'old' enough to remember using mechanical mice can attest, but Tour owners are understandably displeased.
The research firm says that return rates on the Tour at Sprint are approaching 50 percent, while Verizon is also "experiencing serious problems." And according to Hallaren, Sprint has determined that a needed increase in quality control could add 2 to 3 percent to production costs, which would be offset by a lower return rate.
Score another win for open-source fans, and Google's Android platform in particular. While earlier this year LG seemingly committed to only releasing Windows Mobile-based smartphones, the handset maker today announced its first Android device, which the company hopes will give it "a broader and more dominant position in the market."
The new LG-GW620 comes with a 3-inch full touchscreen display, along with a slide-out QWERTY keyboard to mash out those Twitter updates and emails on the go.
"The LG-GW620 will appeal to first-time smartphone customers by offering a new and different kind of user experience," said Dr. Skott Ahn, President and CEO of LG Electronics Mobile Communications Company. "Our objective is to provide a wide selection of smartphones to satisfy the diverse preferences of today's consumers."
Perhaps looking to smooth things over with Microsoft, LG was also quick to point out that it will be introducing at least 13 other smartphones over the next 16 months, each one based on Windows Mobile.
As for the LG-GW620, it will be available in the fourth quarter in "select European markets." No word yet on price or U.S. availability.
OMG! Have u herd da newz? T-Mobile subscribers spend more time mashing their thumbs on tiny keys ferociously text messaging their contacts and updating their Facebook profiles than any other mobile customers, T-Mobile boasts.
"Our users are sending 600 messages per user per month on average. And, a lot of the users on our higher-end smartphones update their status on social networks a couple times a week," said Cole Brodman, T-Mobile USA's CTO.
Brodman said much of the activity can be attributed to Android users, who now have both the G1 and newer myTouch 3G to play with, as well as access to around 10,000 applications through the Android Market. In order to support these high-tech phones, a growing list of apps, and an active userbase, T-Mobile said it plans to update its 3G network to HSPA 7.2 by the end of the year, followed by another upgrade to HSPA 21 by next year.
iPhone owners and anyone else using AT&T's cellular network can look forward to faster WiFi, as the telco on Wednesday announced plans to rollout High Speed Packet Access (HSPA) 7.2 technology to boost its 3G network.
"Our deployment of HSPA 7.2 and supporting backhaul connectivity will enable our customers to continue to ride the leading edge of emerging devices and thousands of mobile applications," said John Stankey, president and CEO, AT&T Operations.
AT&T says it will begin deployment of HSPA 7.2 in six major cities, including Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, and Miami, all of which should see upgraded service by the end of the year. By the end of 2010, AT&T expects that list to include 25 of the nation's 30 largest markets (sorry Booger Hollow, Arkansas).
Coinciding with the rollout of HSPA 7.2 will be multiple compatible handsets and devices, including at least six new smartphones and two new LaptopConnect cards.