Smart Phones

'Security: Text Message Smishing Coming To A Cell Phone Near You

What's the best way to disguise a phishing attempt so no one can tell where a request for personal information or a password really came from? Easy: Send it via text message.

"Smishing" is the name being given to the not-entirely-new but growing practice of sending phishing come-ons and scams via SMS message. And spammers are apparently finding it an increasingly easier proposition to text a phishing message to you rather than to email it traditionally.

Why's that? You've probably received hundreds or thousands of phishing emails and immediately saw through the ruse: Images were broken, the \"from\" address was wrong, words were misspelled, or links in the message were obviously directing you to phony websites. There are dozens of things that phishers have to get right for an email scam to fool anyone, and that's apparently quite difficult to do. Making things even tougher, many of those emails are now blocked by ISPs and spam filters and never make it to their intended targets.

Those problems don't really exist at the SMS level: Very few SMS messages are blocked, and since they are composed entirely of text, no images required, it's often impossible at a glance to determine if a message is real or fake.

One popular smish threatens the user that he is about to be charged for something unless he cancels it, with a message like: \"We're confirming you've signed up for our dating service. You will be charged $2/day unless you cancel your order by clicking here:\" Of course there are no pending charges, and the site you're directed to is completely fake, its goal being to collect your credit card number (which you will helpfully enter in order to \"cancel\" the charges), or install a bit of malware on your computer (or even, someday, on your phone).

Smishing messages may instead direct you to call a toll-free number in order to complete or cancel some financial transaction, the only difference being that a human operator will handily take down your credit card or bank account number for you, to save you the trouble of typing it online. Of course, the number you called is phony, too.

What should you do if you receive a message you fear is a smish attack? The answer should be pretty obvious but bears repeating: Virtually no credible financial institution, utility, or other business will communicate with you via SMS with the exception of your cell phone provider. Don't recognize the website or phone number being sent to you? Don't call it. If you're worried about an upcoming charge, contact the service provider or bank directly via means you know are legitimate and ask them directly about the message. They'll likely tell you what you already know: Just ignore it.

10 Must Have Smartphone Apps

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Did you take the plunge on your first smartphone recently? Congratulations! You're holding a lot of power and possibilities in your fingertips.

Of course, that can be a little overwhelming, too. There are well over 700,000 apps in both the Apple App Store and Google Play.

Take a deep breath! You don't need to dive in all at once. Here's your starter kit. These 10 apps work with the iPhone and Android smartphones. They won't cost you a thing, but you'll use them every day.

As you're getting to know your new phone, give them a download. You'll be very glad you did. And if you're a seasoned smartphone user but haven't tried these apps, what are you waiting for?

Chrome - One of the most overlooked but vital apps you'll want to download is a good browser, and Google Chrome is one of the best! Your iPhone didn't come with it out of the box, and inexplicably, your Android phone probably didn't either!

This mobile browser is fast, secure and customizable. You can sync it with your desktop Chrome to import all your bookmarks, favorites and passwords. It also has incognito mode for private browsing! You'll be doing a lot of browsing with your new smartphone so you might as well do it right.

Google Maps - The days of being stranded in an unfamiliar part of town asking for directions are over. Google Maps is your go-to tool for all things geographic.

You can find driving directions, walking directions, public transit maps and more. Or just search for nearby points of interest! Maps collaborates with your phone's built-in GPS sensors to pinpoint your location.

Facebook - With 1 billion users, Facebook could be called the official social network of humanity, and it's available as an app for smartphones.

You'll be able to see your newsfeed, upload photos and videos, and post updates wherever you go! Everything you love about Facebook is available in the mobile app and streamlined for the palm of your hand.

YouTube - Who doesn't love watching fun and amazing videos online? Your smartphone can do that with both hands tied behind its back - if it had hands. All of YouTube's 2 billion videos can be seen on YouTube's official smartphone app. You can even use this app to record, upload, edit and share videos right from your mobile device!

Onavo Extend - All that YouTube watching is going eat up a big chunk of your monthly cellular data plan. Your best bet is to use Wi-Fi when you can, but when you can't there's Onavo Extend.

This free app automatically compresses the data you send and receive to get up to five times more data out of your plan. It also monitors usage and gives you reports on which apps are hogging your precious data.

Kindle - You don't need a Kindle e-reader to read Amazon e-books. Your smartphone can run Amazon's Kindle app. Now you can read your electronic library on your mobile device.

Download free books or purchase them from right inside the app. You can highlight and make notes and you'll never lose your place even when switching between devices. That's because all your e-books are synced to your Amazon account.

Skype - Wait a second, why would you need an app for making phone calls on your phone? Doesn't it do that already? Well, sort of.

Skype lets you make video calls, which your phone may not be equipped to do out of the box. Plus, you can make video or voice calls for free to other Skype users around the world, over either cellular or Wi-Fi. You can even text for free using Skype instant message.

Carbonite Mobile - Your mobile phone is going to fill up with precious photos and videos very quickly. Unfortunately, your phone is susceptible to theft, hackers and accidental damage.

Make sure your precious data is safe! Carbonite Mobile automatically backs up your photos and videos to its secure servers for free.

Plus, on Android smartphones, Carbonite Mobile can track a lost or stolen smartphone and wipe your sensitive data remotely.

Full disclosure: Carbonite is one of my advertisers. But I'm also a satisfied, long-time customer.

Angry Birds Star Wars - Let's be honest: One of the real reasons you wanted a smartphone was the games! The Angry Birds series is the most popular of them all!

The latest twist on this mobile classic is as fun and addicting as ever. And with dozens of levels and expansions, it will be a while before you get bored!

Flashlight LED HD - Did you know your smartphone can also be used for creative and unconventional purposes? For instance, there are apps that allow you to control the camera's flash or screen brightness to turn your gadget into a makeshift flashlight!

Flashlight LED HD is one such app, and it's a trustworthy one - other flashlight apps have been known to steal your data. This app is bright and works well for finding your way in the dark, but be wary! It can drain your battery fast.

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10 Timesaving Productivity Apps

(Marianne Magno Fitness Magizine) Use your smartphone to simplify your life. These 10 apps will help you stay organized to help tackle even your busiest days.

Those with an eye for details will love setting up tasks on Wunderlist. Not only can you make tasks with reminders, you can also make subtasks to make sure you don't miss any steps. Plus, the ability to share to-do lists with others makes group work a breeze. Lists sync across multiple devices, like your iPhone, Android, iPad, and on your web browser. (free,

Checkmark is just the solution for those pesky things you keep forgetting to do no matter how many times you write them down. This app for iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad sets up reminders based on time and location. Make a note to pick up your dry cleaning and you'll get a pop-up the next time you're nearby. Perfect! ($4.99,

Whether your goal is to exercise every day, quit smoking, or read more, Streaks is an app that will motivate you to keep at it. For every day that you accomplish your goal, mark it on your Streak calendar, and the app will keep track of just how long you've been following through. If you break it, no sweat -- the app will remember your longest streak so you have something to work toward. ($1.99,

Related: The 10 Best Resolutions to Make Right Now

For some extra support to keep up those newfound healthy habits, Lift offers a similar tracking functionality to Streaks but adds the social support for when you just don't feel like it. Invite your friends who can give you "props" when you check something off your list. (free,

If your busy schedule makes you feel like you're living in a bubble, this is the app that'll keep you in the loop. Summly helps you keep up with current events without spending hours reading the news. It's free for iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad. It lets you choose the topics and news sources you're interested in, then creates summaries from top stories. Now you'll never run out of conversation starters. (free,

Battery Sense by Philips
Never run out of power while you're out and about with Battery Sense by Philips. The app for iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad tells you how to prolong your battery life by limiting the use of certain functions, like video play and Internet use -- so you'll know exactly when to save the funny cat videos for later. (free,

Compatible for iPhone and iPad, this app helps you learn something new every day. All you have to do is download it and browse through user-uploaded step-by-step tutorials, like How to Do a French Twist or How to Use a Foam Roller. Bonus: You can finally get answers to all those little issues (like your push-up form) you're too embarrassed to ask someone about without any one ever knowing it. (free,

Business Card Reader
If you're prone to stashing business cards at the bottom of your purse or stuffed in the back of your wallet, the Business Card Reader will seriously declutter your life. Scan cards to upload your new contact and sync to your address book, and you're all set! ($4.99,

Related: How to Have More Energy Every Day

Manage your budget more wisely with Mint, a money-management tool that tracks your spending, savings, and financial goals. Connect your bank accounts and credit cards and Mint will track and categorize your expenses. Create budgets for yourself, like a $100 monthly limit for dining out or a plan to save $2,000 in three months, and the app will monitor your progress toward your goals. Oh, and when you overspend in a category, like that super-hot dress you just had to buy but wasn't in your budget this month -- it'll notify you about that, too. (free,

With the endless amount of information available to us on a daily basis, it's hard to find time to sit down and read what you're really interested in. Pocket saves the stories and pages you want to read so you can access them when you have more time later on, say when you're waiting in line at the store, sitting on the bus, or on your lunch break. The app syncs your list throughout all your devices so it's easy to keep track of what you've read and what you haven't. (free,

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12 Biggest Threats To Smart Phone Security

With nearly six in 10 Android phones running an insecure version of the operating system, it makes sense that Bit9's 2011 list of the 12 riskiest smartphones are powered by Google's OS. Android's security problems are primarily caused by phone manufacturers releasing products with outdated versions of Android, and then releasing upgrades at a glacial pace. As a result, consumers storing personal information on the phones face serious security threats, the vendor says. What follows are Bit9's "Dirty Dozen."

Read More - Click Here!


5G Nation-Wide Network is On The Table

National security officials working in President Donald Trump’s administration are reportedly considering building an ultrafast, nationwide 5G network within the next three years. Officials say the move would protect the country’s wireless systems from Chinese spying and economic threats.

Details of the plans were unveiled in a memo and PowerPoint presentation created by a senior National Security Council official and reported by Axios. The documents obtained by Axios argue that a centralized 5G system would be easier to protect from cyber threats.

“China has achieved a dominant position in the manufacture and operation of network infrastructure,” the PowerPoint presentation -- titled ‘Secure 5G: The Eisenhower National Highway System for the Information Age’-- states. “China is the dominant malicious actor in the Information Domain.”


The memo called the nationalization of 5G the “first great leap” into the information age.

“It is a change more like the invention of the Gutenberg Press than the move from 3G to 4G,” the memo said. “5G will transform industries by ushering in exponentially expanded system capacity, higher data rates, lower latency, higher reliability, and lower power consumption.”

The documents suggest two options for how a centralized nationwide 5G network would be built and paid for.

The first (and quickest) way for the plan to be adopted in the U.S. would be to have the government pay for and build a network itself. The second (which could take longer and cost more, the memo argues) would be to have wireless providers build their own 5G networks that compete with one another.

Government control of 5G infrastructure would be unprecedented, since the industry is historically controlled by private operators. Axios noted that AT&T and Verizon have both announced plans to deploy 5G networks to customers. AT&T began rolling out 5G service at the start of the year.

Although the plan calls for 5G networks to be rolled out within a three-year timeframe, experts told Axios that it will likely take as long as a decade to be fully implemented.

FCC opposes

Earlier today, FCC chair Ajit Pai opposed the Trump Administration’s plan to allow the government to control the nation’s 5G network.

“I oppose any proposal for the federal government to build and operate a nationwide 5G network. The main lesson to draw from the wireless sector's development over the past three decades — including American leadership in 4G — is that the market, not government, is best positioned to drive innovation and investment,” he said in a statement.

“What government can and should do is to push spectrum into the commercial marketplace and set rules that encourage the private sector to develop and deploy next-generation infrastructure,” Pai continued. “Any federal effort to construct a nationalized 5G network would be a costly and counterproductive distraction from the policies we need to help the United States win the 5G future.”

90 percent post PC

I have been using mobile devices for the lion’s share of my work for a while, but it surprises me how close I am to chuck the PC totally.

I had an epiphany this morning that frankly has taken me by surprise. I realize I am fully 90 percent post-PC, without making a special effort to get there. A lot has been said about the “post-PC” era and what exactly that means. For me, it means that I now can do at least 90 percent of my work and play on a mobile OS-running device. The Windows PC/Mac has largely been kicked to the curb.

I have been using mobile devices to do a bigger part of my work for a while. This didn’t start out as a concerted effort on my part to make do, it just happened as I grabbed the mobile device first and found it to be more enjoyable to get stuff done. The more I used a “non-computer” for working, the more I realized that not only was I able to do so, in many ways it was better than sitting at the old PC chugging away.

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911 Cell Phone Calls May Leave Responders In The Dark

Fairfax County, Va., communications center (FHWA photo by Tracy Shelton)

Data show most wireless calls don't provide location information​

With the vast proliferation of mobile phones in less than two decades, more consumers are deciding they don't need a traditional landline phone.

(Mark Huffman @ ConsumerAffairs) The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found in late 2013 that 2 out of 5 U.S. homes – 41% – didn't have a landline but relied only on a wireless phone. That means in case of emergency, these consumers would have to call 9-1-1 on their mobile phone and hope their location showed up on the dispatcher's screen.

Often, it doesn't. A group called The Find Me 9-1-1 Coalition used the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to obtain data from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) about wireless 9-1-1 calls made in Washington, D.C.

It found that from December 2012 to July 2013, 9 out of 10 wireless 9-1-1 calls made in DC were delivered without the accurate location information needed to find callers who are lost, confused, unconscious or otherwise unable to share their location.

This location information is latitude-longitude data called “Phase II” information. Emergency 9-1-1 systems across the country have updated their systems over the last 20 years to automatically display this data when a call comes in.

But the system was designed for landline telephone systems. While they are supposed to work with some wireless devices, The Find Me 9-1-1 Coalition says the information can be useless, showing only the cell tower location nearest to the caller.


"These results reveal an alarming public safety crisis," said Jamie Barnett, former Chief of the FCC's Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau and Director of the Find Me 9-1-1 Coalition. "When 9 in 10 emergency callers in our nation's capital cannot be located on wireless phones, we know that the requirements for location accuracy must be updated immediately.”

The FCC has, in fact, proposed new rules to improve emergency call systems to more accurately pinpoint the location of wireless callers.

“This (data) should eliminate any doubt about the importance of rapid adoption of that rule," Barnett said.

The problem is the technology used by more wireless carriers, something called A-GPS. It depends on a direct line of sight to satellites, so it might work fine if you called 9-1-1 from the middle of a grassy meadow. But it often fails in indoor locations or dense urban areas like DC.

Matter of life and death

The FCC has proposed to rectify that with a new rule – Proceeding 07-114 – requiring wireless carriers to provide accurate location data for indoor calls within two years. By the FCC's own estimates, implementing the rule could save 10,000 lives each year with faster emergency response times.

"The nation's capital faces unique security issues, and it's critical that 9-1-1 callers in DC be quickly located in an emergency," Barnett said. "Unfortunately, the safety of our residents and visitors is being put at risk on an ongoing basis when 9-1-1 cannot identify their locations to send help.”

The FCC data also provides a breakdown by carrier of wireless 9-1-1 calls. There was a wide variation among carriers for delivery of accurate “Phase II” information.

Verizon and Sprint had best results

Verizon had the best record, with 24.6% of its 9-1-1 calls delivering accurate location information. Sprint was second, at 23.3%.

After that there was a significant fall-off. T-Mobile delivered only 3.2% and AT&T just 2.6%.

The Coalition says the people who answer those 9-1-1 calls also want the system improved.

It says a survey of first responder call centers found that 99% supported the FCC's proposed requirements for indoor location accuracy within two years, and another 99% said the adoption of that rule was "critically" or "very" important for public safety in their communities.

If you have the need to call 9-1-1 from your cell phone during the next 2 years, be sure to start off by telling the dispatcher your precise location. Otherwise, they might not know.

AT&T Places Dead Last in Customer Satisfaction Once More

The survey found that consumers rated the smaller national and regional mobile providers higher than their larger competitors -- AT&T, Verizon Wireless, Sprint and T-Mobile. Heading the list in customer satisfaction is Consumer Cellular, a small national carrier. Ironically, this first-place finisher uses last-place AT&T's national network.

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AT&T Wireless Shared Data New Pricing Structure Coming

The tried and true system of paying for mobile services by voice minutes appears to be going by the wayside. AT&T Wireless says it will discontinue voice minute plans and instead move to a "shared data" system, much like the one Verizon Wireless announced last month.

Starting in late August, new customers will get unlimited voice and texting. Right now there are caps on those services, with charges incurred if you go over your limit. Some consumers may consider that a plus.

Balancing that out, however, will be a limited data plan. Not only will the amount of data be limited per billing cycle, all the devices on the account -- smartphones and tablets -- will share the data, even if there are multiple users on the account. If you exceed the allotted data, where will be an overage charge.

With AT&T joining Verizon in this move, it appears this is where the industry is going. Carriers are finding the promise of unlimited data is a hard one to keep...

Read More - Click Here!

AT&T will ditch two-year contracts in 2016



Photo (c) AT&T

(Truman Lewis @ ConsumerAffairs) AT&T will kick off the new year by scrapping two-year contracts, instead steering customers to its AT&T Next plan, joining Verizon and T-Mobile and leaving Sprint as the sole major carrier still offering contracts and subsidized phones. 

What's the difference? Primarily, instead of AT&T subsidizing your phone, it will be financing it for you. Previously, customers signed a two-year contract and AT&T underwrote the cost of a new phone in exchange for the guarantee of two years of revenue.

Now, AT&T will be selling phones at full price -- think $1,000 for an iPhone 6S -- and financing it for two years while providing connectivity at the going rate. 

To hear AT&T tell it, customers are swarming all over the new plan.

“With $0 down for well-qualified customers, the ability to upgrade early and down payment options available with even lower monthly installments, our customers are overwhelmingly choosing AT&T Next,” reads an AT&T statement quoted by Consumerist. “Starting January 8, AT&T Next will be the primary way to get a new smartphone at AT&T. This does not apply to business customers under a qualified wireless service agreement.”

Six of one ...

It works out about the same for the consumer. You will probably be paying about the same on a per-month basis and could theoretically take your phone and go to a different carrier if you wanted. Of course, you'd have to pay off the phone first, which would amount to something roughly similar to the early cancellation fee you would have paid if you were still bound by a two-year contract.

Then there's the little matter of the connectivity and data charge. The two-year contracts, in some instances, had at least some price protection. Under the new AT&T plan, which is similar to Verizon and T-Mobile's, the company can more easily change the rate it charges you for data. 

Of course, it can do that under the two-year agreement too in some circumstances. And, to be fair, without an agreement the consumer should also be able to buy less data per month as usage habits change.

Another option

There is another way to handle your wireless needs. You can buy an "unlocked" phone and purchase wireless connectivity from whatever carrier offers you the best deal. You'll need to front the money for the phone or finance it yourself, which could be good or bad depending on the state of your personal finances.

Wireless bills being what they are, you will still need some patience and concentration to decipher exactly how much you're paying and why but this option puts a little more control in your hands. 

The "unlocked" option is becoming more attractive as new entrants flock to the wireless scene. One of the most promising is Project Fi from Google. Bring your own phone and pay $20 per month plus $10 per GB for data. No contract, no muss, no fuss. That's the promise anyway. We haven't tried it yet but plan to do so soon.

AT&T: first 5G device won't be a smartphone

Telecom giant AT&T is moving ahead with plans to develop its 5G wireless network, but company CEO Randall Stephenson says the first device to connect to the super high-speed network won't be a smartphone.

In a conference call following Wednesday's AT&T earnings report, Stephenson said smartphone manufacturers are still on the drawing board when it comes to making a 5G phone. So Stephenson says AT&T will produce a device, called a "puck," that will act like a mobile hotspot, allowing consumers to connect their existing devices to the 5G network.

AT&T has not said when the puck would be available or how much it would cost. However, Stephenson says the device will be a way for customers to sample the 5G service before purchasing a 5G smartphone.

"We're getting the equipment manufacturing moving, we're getting the supply chains moving, we're doing the sell-side acquisition, we're doing all the build type work, but getting the handsets at scale penetrated into the market will slow things down," Stephenson told investors and analysts.

"So, that's why we're going to be offering pucks in the first part of our deployment in these 12 markets, so it is a mobile solution."

Will work like a modem

Stephenson says consumers will be able to use the pucks like a modem. Once connected, they will be able to access the internet using AT&T's 5G network with a full gigabit throughput.

But Stephenson said he thinks one of the biggest advantages 5G will offer is a huge reduction in latency, the time between an online command is entered and when it is executed. Reducing latency will make 5G more efficient for certain uses, such as virtual reality and self-driving vehicles.

"People say 5G and you're thinking about speed," Stephenson said. "And speed and throughput are important. But the most important element is latency and having low latency 5G is the first technological innovation that truly gets us to low latency."

Twelve markets this year

A month ago AT&T announced that it would deploy 5G wireless service in at least a dozen markets by late 2018, as the first step in a nationwide build out. In December, Verizon also announced it planned to offer 5G wireless service in up to five U.S. markets in 2018.

Telecom experts say the transition from 4G to 5G will be a fundamental, not incremental, change. Instead of being limited to connecting hundreds of millions of cell phones and tablets used by people, 5G networks will support billions of connected things.

Stephenson told analysts that once a nationwide wireless 5G network is up and running, it could replace most fiber optic networks.

Addicted To Digital

Shouldn't we be spending less time checking and rechecking our many screens, large and small, and more time taking part in what used to be regarded as real life? Is there something inherently wrong when people being separated from their phones, computers and tablets makes them feel nervous, irritable, tense -- in other words, when they begin to exhibit classic withdrawal symptoms? Read More – Click Here!

Android 4.4 KitKat will let you choose your own default texting app


android kitkat


Hangouts could become an iMessage competitor

The details come amid rumors that Google will also begin bundling SMS and MMS messaging right into its Hangouts app, creating a competitor to Apple's iMessage. Android Police first reported the rumor and also has several screenshots of what it says is the combined app in action. It also reports that Google will do away with Android's traditional Messaging app, leaving Hangouts as the only built-in text messaging option for Nexus devices.

Though it's unclear how the rumored Hangouts app would switch between different types of messages, Android Police reports that each message will label what medium it was sent through. For it to be a true iMessage competitor though, Google would need to begin automatically sending SMS and MMS messages over Hangouts' own network, rather than relying on users to pair a contact's phone number with their Google account. But while Google announced KitKat just over a month ago, few details have been properly announced so far — from the looks of things though, it won't be long before we know much more.

Android Jelly Bean vs. iOS 6 vs. Windows Phone 8: The Ultimate Mobile Comparison

(Adrian Covert) A few weeks ago, we compared the feature sets of iOS 6 and Android Ice Cream Sandwich to see how they stacked up. But then Google and Microsoft went and dropped all sorts of new features in their new Android Jelly Bean and Windows Phone 8 operating systems. That means it's time to reexamine the relative merits of each once again. Let the battle begin!

(For the record, this is not a review. There will be no review until we have spent some quality time with the final versions of iOS 6, Android 4.1 and Windows Phone 8. This is a look at how these three stack up on paper in 12 key categories.)


650,000 apps. 225,000 for iPad. Still tops as far as smartphone platforms go.

Android is currently at 600,000 total apps. Most of those will run on tablets, but the number of tablet-optimized offerings is significantly lower than iOS (Google won't give an official number, but a quick run through Google Play makes the situation abundantly clear).

Windows Phone: Windows Phone currently has 100,000 apps available for download, which is considerably less than the other two. And since there's no Windows 8 tablet yet, well...


iOS: Apple now has a maps service of its very own like Google and Microsoft. Not only does it deliver traffic updates, points of interest, and turn-by-turn navigation (which is well integrated throughout iOS 6), there are 3D maps which both look cool and might be helpful when lost in the middle of a crowded metropolis. But the lack of public transit directions hurts, even if they're offering a third-party API solution. And iPhone users reared on Street View might sorely miss it; Apple hasn't presented an equivalent.

Google Maps in Jelly Bean will likely be unchanged from what Google showed off a few weeks ago at its dedicated maps event: 3D buildings and offline caching will be added to supplement the top notch combination of search, turn-by-turn navigation, and Street View. Plus, the search giant is going crazy with mapping the insides of notable locales—Compass Mode employs a phone's gyroscope to give you 360-degree interior views—so expect to see more of that over time.

Windows Phone: Windows Phone 7 was a showcase for Microsoft's Bing maps, but the mobile navigation turf will belong to Nokia on Windows Phone 8. The good news is, that means terrific NAVTEQ maps, turn-by-turn navigation, 3D buildings, offline caching, and dynamic routing for public transit. There aren't many bells and whistles here, though, for better or worse.

Browser Sync

iCloud Tabs are new in iOS 6, and unify your browsing across all of your iOS and OS X devices. It's not a full cloud browser that offers the same tab view across all devices, but rather a list of tabs tucked behind an icon or sub-menu, along with your bookmarks.

The Chrome Beta on Android offers tab syncing with your desktop as well, but throws bookmark and search syncing in the bargain. And since there are more desktop Chrome users in the world than any other browser, a lot of people will be taking advantage of this feature.

Windows Phone:
Browser sync is conspicuously absent from Windows Phone, which is odd considering it will run the same version of Internet Explorer that Windows 8 will in the WinRT environment. Then again, with Windows 8 and WP8 both not expected until this fall, there's a lot of time for Microsoft to make this work. Fingers crossed.

Facebook Integration

Android Jelly Bean vs. iOS 6 vs. Windows Phone 8: The Ultimate Mobile ComparisoniOS:
Facebook is integrated throughout iOS 6, which means you can update your status and upload images from various apps (not to mention notification center), sync contacts, and have your Facebook events coordinate with your iOS Calendar. Plus a third-party API is on the way, so all apps can integrate Facebook into their wares.

Android has always been good for Facebook sharing, and there's no reason for that to change with Jelly Bean. You can share and upload from pretty much anywhere in the OS, or inside most Android apps. Plus you can pull Facebook data for your contacts already stored on your phone, or pull all your Facebook friends into your contacts.

Windows Phone:
Facebook integration has always been one of Windows Phone's selling points, as the platform seamlessly integrates features like status updates, images, Contacts, Chat, and Events into Microsoft's own sections (People, Messaging, Calendar, etc). It's as well-designed as Facebook integration can get.

Voice Commands

Siri wasn't amazing in iOS 5, but it worked. In addition to being able to dictate texts and emails, schedule calendar events, and set timers, Siri in iOS 6 has much more promise, given its ability to pull data from even more sources (sports scores, movie times, dinner reservations), in more useful ways. Plus, Siri will be able to interface with car audio and navigation systems once iOS 6 goes live in the fall.

With Jelly Bean, speech recognition is about to get a big update. Google has always allowed for voice search and dictation across the entire OS, but now it taps into Knowledge Graph and a built-in speech recognizer that will be in future devices. Not only should Android voice recognition improve dramatically, but it will recognize voice input even while offline and, like Siri, can spit back Wolfram-like semantic search results (with or without your voice).

Windows Phone:
Windows Phone also has voice commands, allowing you to place calls, send texts, search the web, and launch an app all from your device. It may not have the depth of Google and Apple's efforts, but it's there.

Mobile Payments

Surprise! The iPhone doesn't have NFC, which means Apple doesn't have much to offer in terms of mobile payments. But Passbook is Apple's way in. When it's up and running, it will collect tickets, rewards cards, debit/credit cards and more into a single app relies on both GPS and QR codes to work. It can also deliver updates and notifications for the items you have stored in Passbook (flight updates, expiring deals, etc). It's clearly been designed with NFC payments in mind; we just have to wait a few months until Apple makes it official.

For the time being, Google Wallet—which includes mobile payments, deals/rewards/offers, and more—remains unchanged. But it is a HUGE question mark for Google. Sprint is still the only official Google Wallet mobile partner (and even they're rumored to be parting ways), MasterCard is the only card company on board, and the number of devices NFC is available on is limited. Google announced new NFC-based features today unrelated to payments; hopefully it's enough to entice hardware partners to include the tech in future devices.

Windows Phone:
With the arrival of Windows Phone 8 will come Wallet, which is Microsoft's full-fledged attempt at, well, a digital wallet. You'll be able to store credit/debit cards and rewards/loyalty cards, not to mention the ability to access deals. But what might set Windows Phone apart from Android and iOS is that it will make use of secure NFC elements stored on SIM cards, which will allow for more flexibility—and security—when it comes to the preferred standards of card companies and mobile carriers (Google Wallet has hit a wall because of resistance to its own built-in secure elements). Save for Apple strong-arming everyone into playing by its rules, this may be the most frictionless way for NFC-based payment technologies to succeed.

Video Chat

Apple has FaceTime, which can place calls over 3G or Wi-Fi, and works fairly well. But its also a pretty insular app that only works with other Apple devices.

Android's Gmail/Google Talk-based video chat system is a bit more universal, considering you can video chat with anybody who has Gmail on a Mac, PC, or Android phone. And yes, you can chat over 3G or Wi-Fi. But Google's ace in the hole, surprisingly enough, might just be its updated Google+ app, which features improved Hangout support and will be available for both Android and, some day soon, iPad.

Windows Phone:
Microsoft's secret voice chat weapon is Skype, which is arguably the most universal standard of them all. There are already proper Skype apps for Macs, PCs, iOS, and Android—and Microsoft owns all of them.

Call Features

iOS 6 lets you decline a call with a canned SMS response, filter out calls annoying contacts, and includes a Do Not Disturb toggle, all of which will prove useful for power users.

Android lets you compose a series of texts you can use as quick auto-replies when declining a call, and also lets you filter out calls from specific people, but it lacks the ability to enter into a Do Not Disturb mode.

Windows Phone
This is another weak point in Windows Phone, as there are no pre-composed texts you can fire off to people you don't want to talk to, nor is there any sort of Do Not Disturb functionality. But there are advanced filtering and call block options for those people you're trying to avoid.


iMessage is a beta feature with a lot of promise, given its ability to trade messages between phones, tablets and laptops. But it's hardly seamless, and barely reliable, and not exactly intuitive. There's currently no real way to link a phone number and iCloud account of a contact and have texts and iMessages appear in a single thread. Nor do messages always arrive to all your connected devices. And there's no way to instant message with non-Apple users. We have yet to see the final implementation of this cross-device integration, which probably won't be settled until iOS 6 is officially out, but there's definitely some work to be done in this regard.

With WebOS all but dead, Android has the best native instant messaging platform hands down. Sure it doesn't integrate with AIM or Facebook, but AIM has a foot in the grave anyways, and Gchat is every bit as ubiquitous as Facebook Chat. When you're logged in to Gchat, messages always arrive on all connected devices reliably and quickly. That's more than can be said for iMessages. Plus, Google Voice is well integrated throughout Android, which means text messages sent from your phone or laptop stay perfectly synced.

Windows Phone:
The messaging effort on Windows Phone is solid and well considered, allowing you to seamlessly send texts, Facebook messages, and Skype messages to a given contact from a single window. No, there's no Gchat or AIM, but that's not particularly shocking, given the trend towards walled ecosystems with each platform.

Smarter Icons

When it comes to dynamic app icons, Apple is sorely lacking. Sure it has badges that let you know when there are new messages, emails, or notifications, but they don't really tell you anything else. One of the things we'd hoped for was that Apple would smarten up its app icons. Let them change to display information. Unfortunately, Apple is still stuck in the past on this one.

Android doesn't really do much with app icons either, and that doesn't change with Jelly Bean. But since the App drawer is pushed into the secondary layer of Android, it doesn't matter. Android employs widgets to take on the task of real-time updates, which allows for a fair amount of customization when it comes to getting your mail/weather/calendar updates from your home screen in a quick manner. They can sometimes be messy and unruly, but when properly implemented, are quite useful.

Windows Phone:
Windows Phone 8's Live Tiles are the cream of the crop amongst smartphones. Not only can they display notifications and vital info (such as texts, mail, weather calendar events), but they arrange into a neatly-organized grid that is now bolstered by the ability to break tiles into three different sizes depending on how you want info displayed. Microsoft is way ahead of everyone else in this regard.

Media Streaming

iOS 6 has AirPlay, which has been one of the easier, more intuitive implementations of media streaming we've seen so far. You can push music from your computer or iOS device to AirPlay-approved speakers, AirPort Express routers, and Apple TV (which also accepts video and iOS device mirroring, and soon OS X mirroring). And if you're streaming from a computer, you can push to multiple AirPlay devices. But like some of Apple's other features (FaceTime, iMessage), AirPlay doesn't really extend past the Apple product ecosystem. That said, you'll find AirPlay baked into more and more devices with each passing month.

With the introduction of the $300 Nexus Q, Google just provided its own streaming standard for Android-based devices. The hubs will be able to take audio and video streams, and spit them out to televisions and speakers (powered by the Q's 25-watt amplifier). Plus you can link hubs together for more robust multi-zone streaming than what Apple offers. Think of it as Sonos for Android, complete with the modest sticker shock.

Windows Phone
Windows Phone will have SmartGlass to serve as its media streaming portal to the Xbox. Though built directly on top of DLNA streaming standards, the app simplfies and visualizes the process of pushing content back and forth between the Xbox and Windows 8/Windows Phone 8 devices. Plus, SmartGlass can beam supplimentary content to your device while watching a TV show, such as Game of Thrones. Toss in the possibilities for gaming and support for Windows, Android, and iOs, and you have yourself a very intriguing streaming platform.

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Android Warning - Fake Netflix App 10/17/2011

Mobile security experts are warning that hackers have created a fake Netflix app for Android smartphones and tablets.

The device passes itself off as the real Netflix Android app but doesn't give you access to Netflix content. Instead, it steals your Netflix log-in information.

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Android Wi-Fi Only with 3G/4G Off

Having a phone that works overseas is great and all. But it also can be a double-edged sword. With roaming charges costing an arm, a leg and perhaps your firstborn, you really don’t want to be using your domestic phone overseas that much for calls or data unless you’re the pharaoh of Egypt or have Warren Buffet’s pockets.

To avoid accidental roaming charges, some folks opt to just turn off their phone or disable all wireless features. But what if you want to simply use your smartphone’s Wi-Fi feature to browse the Web, check e-mail or use maps overseas without the forehead-smacking cost of receiving unintended phone calls or data roaming charges? For Android users, the solution is simpler than you might think.

No worries, for folks using an older Android phone. I tested this on an Android 2.1 phone so I can vouch that it works. Anywho, here’s what you need to do:

  • First, tap on your Settings app (or icon if you have a shortcut on one of your home screens). It’s the one that looks like a cog or gear. This will bring up the Settings menu.
  • On your Settings menu, tap on Wireless and network.
  • You should now see a list of wireless-related menus. Tap on the Flight mode — also generally known as Airplane mode — to disable all wireless connections. You’ll know it’s working because you get an airplane icon on your notifications bar.
  • Great, now you won’t be getting any incoming calls. But wait! Now your Wi-Fi connection isn’t working, either. Nice going, Jason, you regular Einstein. Hold on your horses, though, because we’re not done yet. On that same wireless submenu, tap on Wi-Fi settings.
  • Click the option to Turn on Wi-Fi.
  • Look at your notification bar on your home screen again. You’ll still have the airplane icon on, indicating that you won’t get any calls. But you will also start seeing a Wi-Fi signal icon. Voila! Now you can connect to a Wi-Fi enabled router or hot spot without worrying about getting roaming charges.

Obviously, there’s more than one way to activate Wi-Fi while disabling incoming calls. You may even find some apps that promise to do the same thing. But personally, this is about the easiest, no-nonsense way that I’ve found to do this. As always, feel free to send an e-mail if you have any questions, suggestions or comments.

Android or iPhone - How To Choose - What To USE

You should generally buy a smartphone because you want certain features. Make a list of all the features and if one type of phone has more, buy that. There is one issue with regard to Android security problems, but I’m going to skip that for now. You can read more about that in many other articles (see below).

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Android’s Biggest Changes Aren’t Part of KitKat


( @ OneJaredNewman & Time) The "Pure Google" experience is suddenly possible on many more phones.. My HTC One isn’t running Android 4.4 KitKat, but it feels pretty close. I just downloaded several apps that come standard with Google‘s Nexus 5. The apps were graciously posted by Droid Life, and when combined with a new “Google Home” launcher, the experience is a lot like a stock Android phone. I didn’t even have to root the phone or void my warranty.

For now, this is somewhat of a hack, a way for enthusiasts to use Android as Google intended, even on non-Nexus devices. But it’s no accident that some of the biggest new features in Android 4.4 don’t require you to have Android 4.4 at all. In the future, it’s likely that Google will let users switch to the Nexus experience to practically any Android phone, with no rooting or sketchy third-party download sites required.

Ron Amadeo of Ars Technica wrote a great story last month about how Google is taking back control of Android at the expense of the software’s open source roots. Slowly, Google is ceasing development on the open source versions of key apps, such as the software keyboard and the web browser, while building up proprietary apps such as Google Keyboard and Chrome. All these apps are then licensed to phone makers as a package deal. If you’re Samsung, you can’t include Google’s app store without also including Google’s search app and web browser. This is how Google ensures that its services are available on all major Android phones.

The problem for Google is that it’s still easy for phone makers to circumvent those services. Samsung, for instance, has simply created its own versions of most Android core functions and hidden the Google stuff away by default. It makes for bloated software, but it’s the only way Samsung can try to establish its own non-Google services.

On the flip side, there are plenty of customers who want nothing to do with phone makers’ apps and services, and just want the pure Google experience. This is where Google’s new launcher and apps come into play.Google - With Android 4.4, Google has created its own app launcher Android devices, in which search is the main focus. There’s a Google search bar on every home screen, and swiping all the way to the left brings you right into Google Now, the company’s virtual assistant software. Google’s other services, things like Gmail and Hangouts, reside a folder on the home screen, which is otherwise empty by default. Instead of using the camera, messaging and other core apps that came with your phone, you can use the ones provided by Google.

As I said, there’s no official way to get the launcher and apps on your phone now (though there’s nothing stopping you from sideloading if you’re feel adventurous). But Google could eventually offer all of these apps as downloads straight from the Google Play Store. Many of them are available already, and just haven’t been updated. In the future, the launcher could even be a requirement for phone makers who want to include Google’s other apps. Android 4.4′s settings menu now includes a “Home” section, so users can easily switch from another launcher to the pure Google experience.

None of this will make Nexus devices completely superfluous. On my HTC One, the launcher still feels somewhat like a facade. My lock screen, notification bar and settings menu still have the look and feel of HTC’s custom interface, and certain features of Android 4.4 Kitkat, such as the new dialer with built-in search, aren’t available as standalone apps. Android 4.4 also benefits from under-the-hood improvements and developer features that my phone can’t take advantage of.

But just looking back to the release notes for Android 4.0 from two years ago, you can see how much things have changed. Features like the redesigned home screen, resizeable widgets, improved keyboard and better voice search–none of them would require a full Android update today. You’d just update their respective apps, or the Google Home launcher itself, through the app store.

One of the most talked-about Android 4.4 features is its ability to run on low-end phones. While this matters little to users in developed countries, it’s a sign that Android updates–the ones named after desserts–are becoming more about under-the-hood changes and subtle design tweaks. All the bigger features are being served on the side.

AntiVirus Experts Disagree - Android Smart Phones Need AntiVirus Software

Antivirus experts disagree with Chris DiBona, Google's open-source programs manager, who recently said that there is no virus problem on the Android platform and that companies selling anti-malware software for mobile operating systems are "charlatans." "Yes, virus companies are playing on your fears to try to sell you bs protection software for Android, RIM and IOS," DiBona said in a post on Google+. "They are charlatans and scammers. If you work for a company selling virus protection for Android, RIM or IOS you should be ashamed of yourself," he added.

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Apple feature could give you a huge bill



Phone (c) Pang Kakit - Wikimedia Commons

(Christopher Maynard @ ConsumerAffairs) You would be hard-pressed to find a more dedicated following of smartphone users than those that buy Apple iPhones. Whether on the news or in person, we've all seen the huge lines of people that flock to Apple stores when the company releases a new product.

On the opening weekend of the iPhone 6S, Apple reportedly sold over 13 million of their new phones, a new record. Despite the strong sales numbers, consumers have been having some trouble with a new feature of iOS9, the latest iteration of Apple's operating system. Wi-Fi Assist is meant to help users boost their Wi-Fi signal if they are experiencing spotty coverage. Unfortunately, having it enabled on your phone can really eat through your data plan and rack up a huge phone bill.

Using up data

For some consumers, this feature will not be a problem at all; if you pay for an unlimited data plan, then it won't really matter if you're utilizing more data to boost your signal. However, if you're like the tens of millions of consumers with a metered data plan, then this might be cause for alarm.

The feature is enabled by default on your phone, so if you do not know about it then you may be unintentionally using much more data than you realize. Users have complained that they went from 1-3 GB of data usage per month to 4-7 GB per month when the feature was active.

In one recent case, a family was charged over $2,000 on their monthly bill for data overages, an increase of over 10 times their usual bill. CBS5's ConsumerWatch reported that the son of this family had received a text message warning him that he was reaching his monthly limit, but that it was only at 65% at the time.

Apparently, the boy habitually used his phone in his room, which has lower signal strength to the family's Wi-Fi than other areas of the house. Wi-Fi Assist kicked in to boost his signal by using his cellular data, but it came at a great cost. Fortunately for the family, AT&T later admitted that the text alert should have been sent to the mother, since she was the primary account holder. As a result, they credited their account for the full amount.

Other consumers will not be as lucky if they go over on their data plans. If you are currently using iOS9 and want to turn Wi-FI Assist off, go into Settings and tap on the “Cellular” option. Scroll all the way to the bottom of this menu and you will see the “Wi-Fi Assist” option; toggle the slider to the left to turn it off.

Apps That Slash CellPhone Bill

Your smart phone is chock full of exciting features. Unfortunately, you'll pay big to use them.

Skype gets all the attention, but its just one of many smart phone apps that can help cut your cell phone bill.

You don't have to cut back on your phone's services for fear of a giant monthly bill, though. There are plenty of apps that can help you save on the features you love.

Viber allows you to make free calls with your existing phone number. No registration or login is needed.

It uses cellular service or Wi-Fi, so you choose which works best for you. Although you can make calls only to existing Viber users, the app boasts 40 million users.

Another app that's great for free calls is Skype. Unlike Viber, you can place voice calls to people who don't use Skype, but there will be a small fee.

The app works just like it would on your computer. In fact, you can place a call to a computer -- not just other smartphones -- with the Skype app. If you don't feel like talking, Skype offers instant messaging features at no charge.

One thing Skype can't do on mobile devices is video conferencing. That's where Fring steps in -- it allows you to host a videochat with multiple friends at no charge.

You can talk with three other Fring users on Android or iPhone -- it even works on the iPod touch. Like Skype, it offers text chat and one-on-one video calls over cellular or Wi-Fi, as well.

Calls aren't the only drain on a bill. Texting -- whether you pay by the message or have an unlimited plan -- can bloat a bill. That's what the aptly named TextFree app helps solve.

This app gives you a new phone number and allows you to text absolutely free. You aren't limited to other TextFree users -- and you can even text your friends in Canada.

If you want an app that combines texting with voice calls, textPlus is for you. It offers most of the same features as TextFree, but adds voice calling to other textPlus users for a small fee. Of course, the app offers frequent free-minute giveaways, if you're patient.

You'll have a new phone number, just like TextFree. TextPlus also offers mass texting of multiple numbers and a chat function to talk to other textPlus users. You can even send short voice messages -- just like the old days of walkie-talkies.

If you want to send messages with your current number, WhatsApp Messenger is the one for you. It uses your current number and scans your existing contacts for other WhatsApp users.

It works less like a texting service and more like an IM service. If you're familiar with Windows Live or AIM, this app will feel similar. Like those services, your friends will need an account to chat with you.

Most of these services limit you to connecting with other users. Make sure you tell your friends about them. It shouldn't be too hard to convince them to sign up once they know how much they can save!

Additionally, be careful when using these apps over your cellular connection. You're still paying for data use, and that can add up quickly. I recommend using Wi-Fi whenever possible.

Kim Komando hosts the nation's largest talk radio show about consumer electronics, computers and the Internet. To get the podcast, watch the show or find the station nearest you, visit E-mail her at

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Apps To Delete Why and How

Apps to Delete

There's a rule that if you don't wear something for a year, it's time to give it to Goodwill. Same rule applies for apps: If you haven't used it for a year… ditch it. So while your closet may look nothing like mine, my delete list might just give you some ideas as to where to start:

  • First, the Borders app. The company is out of business, and while you may still read ebooks through their KOBO service, KOBO has its own stand-alone app that's updated and has more features.
  • Urban Spoon. It seemed so quaint when it first came out. It used your location, you dialed in some parameters — Italian, not too expensive — and then it seemed to spit out a random selection. But I don't trust it for recommendations. Instead, I use the Yelp app, with its real reviews from real people.
  • Socialcam. Not only do the videos on Socialcam seem to lack any professional standards, users are often unaware that their potentially embarrassing views are being shared with their friends and work colleagues.
  • QR code reader. I've had a reader on my phone for 3 years and I have yet to scan a QR code for any real purpose.
  • MySpace. I seriously can't remember the last time anyone I know posted on this.
  • Kids' games. These apps are usually age specific, so when your youngest grows out of an app, delete it. Chances are, he's not going to want to play Tozzle or Dinosaur Train when he's 9. And if he does, you can always reinstall.

Why Delete Apps?
Four reasons:

  • Apps take up space on your phone, which may not seem like a big deal if you have a ton of storage, but they can add up and may even put a drain on your phone's speed.
  • Hanging onto apps you don't use make your phone disorganized, and it will be harder to find the app you're looking for.
  • If you're not using an app because it crashes or is buggy, by all means get rid of it. Poorly written apps can suck system resources and bog down your phone.
  • If you're not using a particular app, why give it all those permissions to access your data?

Plus, deleting an app off your phone doesn't mean you'd have to buy it again if you change your mind. iTunes and the Google Play store remember what you've purchased and won't charge you to reinstall.

How To Delete An App On Your Phone

  • On iPhones, hold your finger on the icon until it jiggles, then hit the X appears on the icon's corner to remove it.
  • On Android phones, hit the Menu button, then the Edit or Manage Apps button, then select the program you want to delete.

Are Windows XP Users Worried about Windows 8? (9/27/2011)

According to recent statistics, nearly 50% of computer users shunned Vista and Windows 7, and still use Windows XP. I don’t have a problem with that. If “it ain’t broke”, don’t change. But now a new Microsoft offering will be released by Fall of 2012 and, you guessed it, no upgrade path is planned between XP and Windows 8.

I won’t be loosing any sleep over it, or the fact that there might be a Microsoft support gap between releases. After all, XP is stable, runs 95% of all of the software produced, and we don’t expect to see dedicated Windows 8 software for 12 to 18 after release (2014).

By that time, it may be prudent to replace the old XP computer hardware anyway. So, as always, it may be better to simply buy a new computer with whatever operating system comes with it, but insure that you have an upgrade path to Windows 8 without dropping additional coinage.

As time goes on, desktop operating systems are becoming less of a factor as applications are moving to the Web. Web Apps are extending the life of any operating system that supports a current web browser like Internet Explorer, FireFox, or Chrome. This also opens up the opportunity to use MAC or Linux operating systems as well. Perhaps even a tablet connected to a decent keyboard.

Another factor is the rising capability of SmartPhones. The Verizon Motorola Bionic now sports a dual core processor and is capable of running web apps. They even offer a unit that looks like a laptop allowing to to plug in your SmartPhone and use a large screen and keyboard. The current offering has been severely hamstrung so that it barely runs office applications. But the processor capability is there, and before long, stiff aggressive competition will push this technology into the office and make it a worthy opponent of the standard office PC.

Am I worried about Windows 8? NAAA!

Beware of 3d party Smart Phone Deals

I’m not going to mention a specific online store because I don’t want to be sued into oblivion, but I found several ads for “free” Smart Phones with free shipping, plus a free service pack that included a car charger (19.95 value) and a screen protector (9.95 value).

“All you had to do was sign up for new service or renew your existing service.” Or so I thought. My existing phone just reached the point in my contract where I could “renew every two”, that is, get significant discounts on a Smart Phone if I renewed my Verizon Wireless service, so I clicked the eligibility button on the”xyz company “ webpage and “WOW”, I qualified! “I’m Getting A New Phone!!!”

However, when I proceeded to checkout, I noticed that the “free charger” and “free screen protector” was missing from the order, so I called the sales number to see what happened. I explained what was going on and the sales  person seemed to listen patiently. But when we went to finalize the order, the sales person began pushing hard to get me to purchase the “car charger” and “screen protector”. Finally, after emailing a screen shot of the ad showing “…free”  “…free”, the sales person said they would throw them in at no charge.

The next concern was my “rate plan” I have the 1400 minute family share plan which includes “friends and family”. We also were “grandfathered” in to 250 text messages per line for $5.00 each, and a Corporate discount of nearly $15.00 per month. Our data plan was $15 on one line, and I understood that it would double to $30, since I would need a 2gig data pack (doubled to 4 gigs because of a limited time Verizon promotion for no additional charge) do operate a Smart Phone. The salesperson assured me that the plans and rates would remain the same, only the data plan would increase, meaning a net increase of only $15 per month. So with all the bases covered, I said, “let’s proceed!”

All the sudden, I received page after page of email telling me that “xyz company” was taking over my wireless billing, that changing the service would alter the agreement and result in loss of service.

The new agreement enabled all kinds of things I didn’t want, like allowing them to track my gps and phone numbers for marketing purposes. At the end it said “Click Submit t” to accept and the unit would ship. No way I was going to submit myself to that.

“xyz company” said in their ad that they had 24 hr service, so I gave them a call. However, when I called,  I got a voice message stated that their hours were 9am to 9pm eastern Monday-Friday, and 10am to 5pm on weekends, so I called Verizon Wireless (who was very helpful).

Guess what happened next. Verizon informed me that “xyz company” had changed my Verizon plan. My 1400 minute plan changed to 700 minutes with no “friends and family”, I lost my $15 corporate discount, my $5 text plan was changed to $30 per month unlimited text message plan, with a net increase of $45 per month, and the potential to have significant overages. In essence, my “free phone” was going to cost me at least $540 over two years. Even worse is, “xyz company” clicked “submit” for me on the agreement AND activated the SmartPhone the day the order was placed. They hadn’t even shipped it yet. That burned me flat to the core. I’m getting all hot just writing about it!

The good news is, Verizon reversed all of the “xyz company” transactions, reinstated my service and discounts. I had to prove my case first, but that was easily taken care of with a couple emails proving there was no way I could have received and activated the unit “the same day the order was placed”. Besides, Verizon allows you 14 days to “change your mind” without penalty, and the state of South Carolina allow 72 hours to change your mind on internet and catalog orders. 

I notified “xyzcompany” that I would simply refuse “their shipment” and that if they tried to press the issue any further or disrupt my cellular service, that I would be in contact with the Attorney General of both states AND the Federal Trade Commission. So far, no reaction from “xyz company”.

11/28/2011 Noon Update: Even though I cancelled the order of my Smart Phone, “xyzcompan” shipped anyway. In fact, they shipped “next day air”, instead of “ground” (free) as requested. FedEx delivered it and took off in the truck before I could refused the package. No worries, I was able to take it to the local “ship it” store, mark the unopend box "refused", and they return the package “free of charge”.

“xyzcompany” used an oversize box without any apparent packing to protect the Smart Phone. The box was not marked “fragile” or “this end up”. Turning the box gently from side to side indicated that it was floating free in the box, therefore making it subject to shipping damage. The more I think about, the more I'm convinced that "xyzcompany" is a scoundrel and thief!

Bottom line: Beware of 3d party Smart Phone Deals

Beware of fake apps that steal financial information

(Christopher Maynard @ ConsumerAffairs) The holiday season is nearly underway, and consumers everywhere are gearing up for the annual shopping extravaganza. However, scammers are also eagerly anticipating the chance to lure unsuspecting shoppers into giving up important financial information.

The New York Times reports that fraudsters are doing this through fake retail and product apps which can be found in Apple’s App Store. There has been a huge spike in these scam apps in recent weeks, many of which steal company or brand logos to make themselves more convincing.

Consumers, looking to buy products from the legitimate source, end up being tricked into putting sensitive financial information into the app. What they can get in return is a compromised bank account and a huge headache. Other fake apps can spam a user’s device with pop-up ads, steal personal information, or infect a device with ransomware – which will lock it until the consumer agrees to pay money to regain access.

Monitoring fake apps

Critics point out that Apple markets its store as being more secure than its competitors, but the company primarily focuses on blocking malicious software over catching out apps that use another company’s intellectual property – like stealing a logo.

This allows many apps to make their way into the App Store under the guise of belonging to a legitimate business. While Apple has a review process for each app before it is published, some of the thousands of submitted apps that are scams can slip through the cracks and harm consumers.

Back in September, the company stated that it was starting a review process of two million apps in its store, with the intention of removing "apps that no longer function as intended, don’t follow current review guidelines or are outdated." That process seems to be ongoing, but more and more fake apps continue to be published in the meantime.

“We strive to offer customers the best experience possible, and we take security very seriously. We’ve set up ways for customers and developers to flag fraudulent or suspicious apps, which we promptly investigate to ensure the App Store is safe and secure. We’ve removed these offending apps and will continue to be vigilant about looking for apps that might put our users at risk,” said Apple spokesman Tom Neumayr.

Red flags

As more and more shopping moves online and to the mobile sphere, experts say that it will ultimately be up to individual brands to monitor how their name is being used. Apple is constantly trying to purge harmful apps, but many end up being modified, resubmitted, and recirculated.

“We’re seeing a barrage of fake apps,” said Chris Mason, chief executive of a Branding Brand, a company that helps retailers build and maintain apps, adding that policing every fraud was like “a game of Whac-a-Mole.”

Still, there are many ways that consumers can check to see if an app they’re downloading is a scam. The language used to describe the app in the App Store, or in the menus of the app, can often be scrambled or nonsensical. Seeing many grammatical or spelling errors is always a good sign that an app isn’t legitimate. Consumers should also be wary of any app that has no reviews or no history of previous versions. 

Blackphone Smartphone Privacy Focus say Back Off NSA

(Sharif Sakr @ engadget) You may never have heard of Geeksphone, unless you take a particular interest in Firefox OS, but the Spanish manufacturer could be about to garner some global attention.

It says it'll launch a new handset at Mobile World Congress next month that will prioritize privacy and security instead of all the intrusions that smartphone users usually have to put up with from carriers, advertisers and the occasional government agency.

We're looking at an Android-based phone with a "top performing" processor and a cellular module that will be unlocked, free of geographical restrictions and compatible with any GSM network. In place of carrier bloatware, we're promised a skin called "PrivatOS" that will allow you to make and receive secure phone calls and text messages, store files securely and browse the web privately through an anonymous VPN -- services that are largely already available from Silent Circle, which happens to be a key partner on the Blackphone project.

That's pretty much all we know for now, but pre-orders will begin sometime during the last week of February, and by then we hope to have hands-on impressions and a better understanding of how Blackphone will be different to BlackBerry encryption, Samsung's Knox service and other more established rivals.

Business Card Reader for Android

No more boring manual input of the names, phone numbers, emails and other information from business cards. English, French, Italian, German and Spanish business cards recognition. If you live active business and social life, contact partners, conduct negotiations, make business deals, you usually exchange business cards. Read More:

Cell Phone Decision

The Obama administration issued its support Monday to reverse a recently enacted ban on unlocking cellphones, echoing many customers' calls to allow mobile devices to be used across wireless carriers without risking penalties once any contract promise is fulfilled.

"If you have paid for your mobile device and aren't bound by a service agreement or other obligation, you should be able to use it on another network," wrote R. David Edelman, senior adviser for Internet, innovation and privacy at the White House, on

His response was drafted after the White House received more than 114,000 petitions on its website in support of reversing the ban, which became effective Jan. 26.

"We believe the same principle should also apply to tablets, which are increasingly similar to smartphones," he said. "It's common sense, crucial for protecting consumer choice."

Mobile phones in the U.S. are generally sold "locked," making them usable only with service from the wireless carrier that is associated with the device, and are typically sold at a price subsidized by that carrier — unlike in most other countries. In the past, customers wishing to keep their device but switch carriers unlocked it themselves or with the help of an expert by punching in a code assigned to the device.

The wireless carrier industry has fought to ban the practice, arguing that unlocking phones violates the carriers' copyright of the computer programs used to lock subsidized devices and are needed for carriers to be able to subsidize the upfront cost of the phone.

The Library of Congress, which largely oversees copyright issues and will implement the ban, sided with the industry by citing a section of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act that was passed in 1998.

In a statement, Michael Altschul, general counsel for CTIA-The Wireless Association, a trade group of carriers, reiterated the industry's stance that consumers have other options if they want cheaper ways to migrate to another carrier. "The Librarian of Congress concluded that an exemption was not necessary because the largest nationwide carriers have liberal, publicly available unlocking policies, and because unlocked phones are freely available in the marketplace — many at low prices," he wrote.

Consumers can buy unlocked devices at full prices, and carriers will unlock a phone at a customer's request in some cases, such as for foreign travel, he said.

Last week, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski raised his concern that banning phone unlocking could be anti-competitive for consumers and repeated it Monday in a statement.

"This raises serious competition and innovation concerns, and for wireless consumers, it doesn't pass the common-sense test," he said. "The FCC is examining this issue, looking into whether the agency, wireless providers, or others should take action to preserve consumers' ability to unlock their mobile phones."

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Cell Phone Etiquette

Everyone carries a cellphone these days and whether it’s non-stop texting or loud public calls, there’s no shortage of ways to be completely rude while using them. Here are some tips for adults and children on how to be more polite about cellphone usage.

Cell Phone Etiquette
Via: Cell Phones

Cell Phone Kill switches reduced smartphone thefts almost 33%



Photo © cunaplus - Fotolia

(Jennifer Abel @ ConsumerAffairs) Last August, California became the second U.S. state (after Minnesota) to pass a law mandating that all smartphones sold in the state come equipped with a “kill switch” option allowing owners to remotely disable, or “kill,” their phones if they are stolen. The process is also known as “bricking” – transforming the phone from a valuable piece of electronic equipment into a mere plastic brick.

The rationale behind kill switches is to discourage smartphone thefts: thieves won't bother stealing phones if they know the phones' legitimate owners will immediately be able to brick them and render them worthless.

Wireless carriers initially hesitant

Samsung developed a kill-switch app as early as 2013, yet companies including Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, United States Cellular Corporation, and Sprint responded by preventing Samsung from pre-loading the app. This in turn inspired New York's attorney general in December 2013 to ask those wireless carriers why they wouldn't allow it, and urged carriers to embrace the technology “as a simple yet effective way to protect” smartphone owners from theft.

The following March, the New York AG and San Francisco District Attorney's offices issued a joint statement announcing that Verizon and US Cellular (no mention of the other companies) had decided to allow the apps, which smartphone owners could activate for free.

Why would phone and wireless companies oppose kill switches in the first place? Industry representatives said it was to prevent hackers from exploiting the switches. Cynics speculated the reason might actually be “The phone companies all figure 'Hey, if you can't get your stolen phone back you'll have to buy a new one, which means more money for us. Whoopee!'”

Phone thefts in decline

California's kill-switch law only came into force yesterday, yet a study published by Consumer Reports last monthsuggests that kill-switch technology is already having an effect: in 2013, 3.1 million Americans had their phones stolen, but in 2014 that number dropped to 2.1 million.

Consumer Reports noted that “The technology could eventually save U.S. consumers $3.4 billion” (which could also be interpreted as “The technology could eventually cost U.S. companies $3.4 billion in sales to replace stolen phones”).

Take additional steps to protect your phone

That said: even if your phone does now have a kill switch, don't make the mistake of thinking that alone is enough to protect your phone and whatever data is on it.

As Consumer Reports' study noted: “Kill switches aside, many phone owners do an abysmal job of protecting their mobile devices …. Among survey respondents, only 46 percent set a screen lock using a four-digit PIN or a stronger method such as a lengthy password or fingerprint. Just 33 percent backed up their data, including photos and contacts, to a computer or online service. Built-in security technology can only get a consumer so far—to reap the benefits, you actually have to use it.”

It's like any other anti-theft device: the best and strongest lock in the world still won't protect your stuff if you forget to shut the door.

CellPhone Etiquette – Doesn’t That Burn You Flat To The Core?

Has this happened to you: You're sitting in a restaurant when a CellPhone rings, they answer, talk and laugh and carry-on, oblivious to the disruption they are causing? How about talking to a coworker when their CellPhone rings and they simply LEAVE YOU THERE HANGING? My daughter even tried texting somebody during our conversation, ONE TIME! Doesn't that burns you flat to the core?

Don't take it personal. They didn't have CellPhones when Momma taught us manners, and CellPhone technology has evolved so rapidly that simple CellPhone etiquette has not been able to keep pace. But if someone were to write a book of CellPhone etiquette rules, please let me make some suggestions:

1. Never interrupt a classroom, seminar, or presentation:

Folks that attend class, seminar, and presentations are usually there to learn something; perhaps they paid good money to be there, or traveled to attend. Even if the event was free, those attending indicate, by the presents, that they would rather be there, listening, than anywhere else at that moment. Ringing CellPhones, talking, and texting is disruptive and disrespectful. If you must have your CellPhone on at all, place it on vibrate. And if you have to take that call, take it to another room.

2. Control your voice volume:

When in a crowd, even soft spoken people can get really loud, sometimes shouting so as to be heard. What we forget is that our mouth is only an inch or so from the CellPhone mouthpiece, which is capable of amplifying our voice sufficiently. But when you shout on a CellPhone, you could be needlessly disrupting those around you. You might be blasting the eardrums of the person you are trying to speak with, AND, your loud voice over the CellPhone might be disturbing those around the person you are talking to. So keep your voice at a moderate level, even in crowds. And if the person on the other end say "I Can't Hear You", up the volume a little, not a lot.

3. Don’t check your CellPhone in a darkened theater or presentation room:

Whilst in a darkened theater or classroom, it is best to leave your CellPhone off. Why? When CellPhones ring on vibrate, and even whilst texting, the CellPhone gives of light that might be disruptive to the rest of the audience. If you simply must leave that CellPhone on, be sure to cover the display as fast as you can, and take the call or text in another room.

4. Keep private conversations in private areas:

The bad sushi you ate last night, the nasty details of your neighbors divorce, and the antics at the office are probably not interesting to those that are around you. Your neighbor or your office friends may not appreciate their private stuff being aired in public. More often than not, someone listening could get word back to your neighbor or office friends, and your life could be over. Even worse, you could be caught talking trash about your boss, and your career could be over. So keep private CellPhone conversations private by taking them to a private place.

5. Don't interrupt a friendly conversation:

Ok, it happens, you're talking with your friend and the CellPhone rings. Do you take the call? You might if it is an emergency. If we were talking and somebody yelled "FIRE", you bet our conversation would change. But a casual call or text message interrupting our conversation? THAT'S RUDE. According to, rude means "discourteous, impolite, without culture, illiterate, rough in manners, unmannerly, crude, uncouth...." I'm sure you don't want to be any of those things. Finish your conversation and return the CellPhone call later.

See, that wasn't so bad. You probably thought of those things anyway. CellPhone etiquette is simply a matter of common sense, being polite,  and using the golden rule. Happy CellPhoning To You!

Cellphone Kill Switch Coming - Not Soon Enough

Photo(Jennifer Abel @ ConsumerAffairs) Last year, Samsung developed a “kill switch” app that would allow smartphone owners whose phones had been stolen to remotely “brick” their phones, rendering them useless to the thief.

And yet, as we reported last December, “Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, United States Cellular Corporation, and Sprint have prohibited Samsung from pre-loading the app, and New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman wants to know why.”

A cynic might speculate: “It's because the phone companies all figure 'Hey, if you can't get your stolen phone back you'll have to buy a new one, which means more money for us. Whoopee!'” Or perhaps there's a useful valid consumer-protection rationale behind it, only the phone companies forgot to issue the press release with the explanation.

Whatever the reasoning, on April 4, Schneiderman and San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón issued a joint statement announcing that Verizon and US Cellular (no mention of the other companies) had decided to allow the apps, which smartphone owners can activate for free.

So, whatever consumer-protection benefits smartphone owners previously enjoyed via not having the kill switch option on their phones, well, those benefits are gone now, and Verizon and US Cellular users who choose to activate the app will just have to live with the knowledge “Gee, if a thief steals my smartphone now, there is something I can do about it.”


Cellphone providers step up the competition

Photo(Mark Huffman @ ConsumerAffairs) If you haven't checked your cellphone bill in a while, perhaps you should. The four major cellphone providers have stepped up their competition with each other in recent weeks. When that happens it's almost always good for consumers.

When cellphones started becoming an ever-present part of modern life, the cellphone companies were in the driver's seat, able to dictate terms. From the beginning consumers were required to commit to two-year contracts, ostensibly to compensate the carrier for the subsidized portion of the mobile phone they provided.

In other words, a consumer might only pay $50 for a phone, while the real cost, paid by the provider, was much higher. Cancelling before the contract was up triggered expensive early termination fees.

Now there are more cellphones in the U.S. than people and the cellular providers can only grow by taking customers away from their competitors. It's the stuff of a good old-fashioned price war, especially with no-contract providers entering the fray and offering enticing deals.


T-Mobile has been among the most aggressive in responding to the challenge. The company has adopted a no-contract policy, allowing the customer to purchase a phone at full price up-front, or finance it over time. It recently offered a deal allowing customers to get a new Apple, Samsung or LG phone with $0 down and pay an extra $26 a month on their bill to cover the $626 cost of the device.

Still under contract to another provider? In a bold move T-Mobile is currently offering to pay your early termination fee if you sign up with them. Plans start at $50 a month and include talk, text and unlimited data, though 4G speed may drop after users exceed a certain threshold, set by their plan.

To lure customers away from other carriers T-Mobile will pay up to $650 per line when you switch – up to a $300 trade-in credit based on market value for each device and up to $350 per line, based on the early termination fee on your final bill.


Sprint is stepping up its game with what it calls its “Framily” plan. Up to 10 people, related or not, can share a Sprint account to take advantage of group pricing. Plans start as low as $25 per month per line with unlimited talk and text with 1 GB of data per line while on the Sprint network.

“We recognize that often friends are considered to be as important as family,” said Jeff Hallock, chief marketing officer for Sprint, when the company rolled out the promotion in January.

Accounts can be billed separately and there are no annual contracts and no early termination fees. When you sign up at a Sprint store for the Framily Plan, Sprint will throw in a free Samsung Galaxy Tab 3.

AT&T and Verizon

AT&T and Verizon Wireless have also been forced to make some concessions to consumers. Both carriers have recently begun offering no-contract plans. Both are also pushing their group plans, which lowers the per-line cost.

AT&T is currently promoting two lines for $130, working out to $65 a line. But three lines is $145, dropping it to less than $49 a line. Four lines for $160 is cheaper still.

AT&T's Mobile Share Value plans allow you to share data on up to 10 devices with no annual service contract. You can also avoid the annual contract with the AT&T Next plan, if you purchase your smartphone at full price, are out of contract or bring your own device.

Verizon has countered with its More Everything Plan, which starts at $45 a month for access but only becomes a competitive deal when you start adding lines to share a pool of data.

The plan includes 25 GB of cloud storage and the company recently doubled the data for customers on its 500 MB and 1GB and raised its 2 GB customers to 3 GB at no extra charge. Verizon, like AT&T, offers customers the option of a month-to-month agreement.

A recent promotion to lure customers from its competitors offered four free Samsung S4 smartphones and a $200 credit on your bill when you added a line or switched from another carrier.


Adding to the competitive pressure on the major carriers are the small upstarts, who own no networks but simply lease space from their competitors and resell pre-paid service. Among them is Straight Talk, which offers plans through Walmart for as short as 30 days, with unlimited voice, text and data.

The company says you can activate your own phone, as long as it's a compatible LTE model. You can buy a new Samsung smartphone starting at around $40.


Cellular Ad Claims Not matching Reality

Photo(Jim Hood @ ConsumerAffairs) Meeting consumer expectations isn't easy but wireless carriers are having a paticularly hard time of it, according to a new Interakt study that finds more than one-third of wireless customers have switched carriers because of what they see as broken promises.

Another 13% said they were considering switching and only 20% felt their carrier was meeting the claims it made when they signed up.

It's not so much what the salesperson tells them when they buy their phone or sign up a deal to switch carriers. Rather, it's the over-the-top advertising that seems to promise the sky.

Maybe that's why T-Mobile -- which has a smaller ad budget than its bigger competitors -- came out on top in the study. Only about a quarter of T-Mobile customers said the company's performance was inconsistent with its advertising, while a third felt that way about Sprint and Verizon.

AT&T got the worst rating, with 37% saying its advertising made big promises that its network didn't deliver. 

One area where consumers say some companies are doing much better than others is in their response to customer questions and comments on social media. Interakt said that, once again, T-Mobile did the best, responding to Twitter questions in an average of 35 minutes.

Verizon brought up the rear at 20 hours. It might want to read the survey carefully, as consumers said inadequate response to customer comments could cause them to switch carriers.


Charger Impacts Mobile Battery Life

It’s not uncommon for consumers to be toting around portable chargers or looking for the nearest outlet to plug in their dying phones. But a new study suggests that the type of charger you use could be negatively impacting your device’s battery life.

Researchers discovered that consumers who utilized wireless chargers for their smartphones, known as inductive charging, are more likely to lose battery life faster due to the rapid transfer of heat between the device and the charger. 

Finding the right charger
Wireless charging options have become vastly popular, as both consumers and manufacturers have become enamored with the freedom that comes with ditching a traditional wired charger. 

However, researchers at the University of Warwick say that wireless chargers create a great deal of heat that is generated by both the charger and the device. When phone batteries reach high temperatures, they burn out faster. 

With this information, the researchers conducted an experiment that compared wired chargers to wireless chargers, but there was a catch. 

One of the keys to using wireless chargers is properly aligning the device onto the charger. If they are out of alignment, even more heat is generated and transmitted between the devices, which will cause the battery to die much faster. So, the researchers tested the outcomes of smartphones charged with traditional wired chargers versus those properly aligned on wireless chargers and those misaligned on wireless chargers. 

The researchers utilized all three of the charging methods and did an internal scan of the phones after 50 minutes to see how the different methods affected the phone’s battery life. While wireless changers present tons of convenient factors, whether aligned or misaligned, the phones reached higher temperatures at a faster rate, which ultimately led to shorter battery life. 

Higher temperatures, shorter battery life
When aligned or misaligned on a wireless charger, phones reached over 30 degrees Celsius, whereas devices plugged into a wired charge never passed 27 degrees Celsius. The wireless chargers themselves heated up to over 35 degrees Celsius when the phone was misaligned and 33 degrees Celsius when the phone was properly aligned. 

The researchers did find that phones tended to cool down about halfway through a charging cycle when on a wireless charger; however, when misaligned, it stayed at the peak temperature for much longer. 

The researchers note that work is being done on wireless charging systems to prevent any long-term battery issues, but consumers should know what they’re giving up now for the added convenience.

Compare iPhone 5, Samsung Galaxy S3, Droid RAZR MAXX HD, Note II, Lumia 920 & HTC One X/8

cannacordfallsmartphonesiPhone 300x152 iPhone 5, Samsung Galaxy S3, Droid RAZR MAXX HD, Note II, Lumia 920 & HTC One X/8(Lynn Malford Wimo) November started off brisk holiday sales for all carriers, with the top seller the iPhone 5 for all carriers except T-Mobile where the Samsung Galaxy S III was the top seller, according to the latest report from Mike Walkley at Canaccord Genuity research. There's a new Samsung Galaxy device that is reaching the top three and that is the Samsung Galaxy Note II.

The top best smartphones of the fall of 2012 were represented by many manufacturers with Android the most mentioned operating system. The company checks stores over the country to find out the bestsellers.

For global sales, Walkely predicted with November checks showing strong sales and improved supply of iPhone 5 " combined with Apple’s aggressive iPhone 5 launch plans for the December quarter and solid legacy iPhone 4S/4 model sales, we anticipate 47.5M iPhone sales during the December quarter."

 Walkely reported "checks indicated mixed sales of new Windows Phone 8 smartphones, including the Nokia Lumia 920 at AT&T and HTC Windows 8X at AT&T/Verizon/T-Mobile."

Previously he predicted that in October the iPhone 5 will make a big come back with 4G LTE access and a larger form factor.

 The top vendor for August was Samsung followed by Apple, HTC and Motorola. In September, Apple was the  top vendor is followed by Samsung, HTC and Motorola with the same order in October.  Nokia entered the fold in November as the third top vendor after Apple and Samsung, followed by Motorola and HTC.

Canaccord November checks indicated stable sales of the Droid RAZR MAXX HD at Verizon after its October 18 launch as it was the third best-selling smartphone at Verizon.  The HTC One S and X appeared in the top three at AT&T and T-Mobile for some months.

It will be interesting to see how the sales figures relate to our survey of the top best smartphones of 2012 based on reviews.

Here's what the latest Canaccord Genuity figures revealed:

At Verizon iPhone 5, Samsung Galaxy S III and Droid RAZR Maxx HD Best-Sellers

  • November:  iPhone 5 (first, read review), Samsung Galaxy S III (second, read review) and  Motorola Droid RAZR MAXX HD (third, read review).
  • October:  iPhone 5 (first), Samsung Galaxy S III (second) and  Motorola Droid RAZR MAXX HD.
  • September: iPhone 5 (first), Samsung Galaxy S III (second) and  Motorola Droid RAZR MAXX.
  • August: Samsung Galaxy S III (first), Motorola Droid RAZR MAXX and iPhone 4S.

At Sprint iPhone 5, Samsung Galaxy S III & Note II

  • November:  iPhone 5 (first, read review), Samsung Galaxy S III (second, read review) and  Samsung Galaxy Note 2 (third).
  • October:  iPhone 5 (first), Samsung Galaxy S III (second) and HTC EVO 4G LTE.
  • September: iPhone 5 (first), Samsung Galaxy S III (second) and HTC EVO 4G LTE.
  • August: Samsung Galaxy S III (first), iPhone 4S (second) and HTC EVO 4G LTE (third).

At T-Mobile Samsung Galaxy S III, Note II, HTC One S and HTC 8X.

  • August: Samsung Galaxy S III (first read review), Samsung Galaxy Note 2 (second)  and HTC 8X (third).
  • October: August: Samsung Galaxy S III (first), HTC One S (second)  and Samsung Galaxy S II (third).
  • September: Samsung Galaxy S III (first), HTC One S (second)  and Samsung Galaxy S II (third).
  • August: Samsung Galaxy S III (first), HTC One S (second)  and Samsung Galaxy S II (third).

AT&T Fall Figures, iPhone 5, Samsung Galaxy S III, Nokia Lumia 920 or HTC One X.

  • November:  iPhone 5 (first, read review), Samsung Galaxy S III (second, read review) and  Nokia Lumia 920.
  • October:  iPhone 5 (first), Samsung Galaxy S III (second) and HTC One X.
  • September: iPhone 5 (first), Samsung Galaxy S III (second) and HTC One X.
  • August: Apple iPhone 4S (first), Samsung Galaxy S III (second) and HTC One X (third).

Consumers use PCs to go online only 32% of the time

(Mark Huffman @ ConsumerAffairs) It wasn't that long ago that smartphones, for the most part, didn't exist. Consumers used cell phones for talking and texting.

Then, in 2007, Apple introduced the first iPhone, unleashing a host of competitors. Today, people are more likely to access the internet – for directions or to make a purchase – using a smartphone than a PC.

new report from ComScore shows just how far that transition has gone. The report shows that smartphone apps now account for more than half the time we spend online.

Not much of a shock

 “The high usage of smartphone apps compared to other media touchpoints shouldn’t come as much of a shock when you think about your daily online behavior,” the authors write.

“Chances are when you want to know  what’s happening around the world, or in pop culture, or in your friends’ lives, your first move is to reach into your pocket and open one of the number of different social apps on your phone. And unless you already happen to be sitting at a computer, a smartphone app is probably your first option when you decide to listen to music, get directions to a destination, check the weather or catch up on email.”

The report shows that smartphone apps had reached a saturation point, accounting for 41% of web use by June, 2014. That saturation point reached 50% in just the next two years.

And because our phones are with us most waking hours, we are on them more than our PCs, which require us to be in one location. PCs account for just 32% of online time now.

Optimized for mobile

Apps are programs that optimize a particular site for mobile use, making it easier to access and use them rather than having the user navigate to the site using a web browser. One of the most popular apps is Facebook, allowing users to post easily from their phones.

More recently, the Pokemon Go app has been hugely popular, providing an augmented reality experience for gamers who no longer have to sit in front of a console or PC.

Apps can also increase a phone's vulnerability, since many have been infected with malware. As we reported last year, entertainment apps have been prime suspects as malware carriers. Consumers should use caution when downloading any app, using only trusted developers from trusted sources.

Cramming Coming To A Cell Phone Near You

Cramming," the practice of third-party firms placing unauthorized charges on your telephone bill, angers consumers and has galvanized consumer authorities to try to stop it.A number of states have sued alleged crammers and Illinois has taken the step of outlawing it in the state. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) stepped up enforcement actions in recent years.

How have "crammers" responded? It appears they are turning their sights on untapped territory -- cell phones. In Illinois, particularly, where landlines are protected by law, cellphone customers have had to monitor their bills carefully.

Illinois consumers hard hit

An analysis by the Citizens Utility Board (CUB)has found the number of fraudulent "cramming" fees charged to Illinois cellphone users has nearly doubled over the last year -- surpassing the national trend for a scam that could cost U.S. consumers up to $59 million a year.

CUB Executive Director David Kolata says the numbers serve as a warning to Illinois consumers.

"The analysis suggests that wireless cramming is a growing problem in Illinois," Kolata said. "As they're driven from landline bills, scam artists may see our cellphones as a new frontier for fraud."

Cramming involves third-party companies that "cram" charges on phone bills for services customers never ordered or received. They are usually for a small amount, in hopes the consumer won't notice it and will go ahead and pay without questioning it.

Law leaves cellphones exposed

The Illinois law doesn't extend anti-cramming protections in cellphones which CUB cites as the reason for the big increase in wireless cramming. The FCC is now considering tougher cellphone rules that would apply nationwide.

The extensive analysis of cellphone bills found the percentage of third-party charges that appeared to be fraudulent skyrocketed in the last year, from about 26 percent to 51 percent among Illinois consumers. The national rate of cellphone cramming is also rising, the report found, but not as fast as in Illinois.

Cramming charges averaged $3.76 a month in Illinois and $5.10 a month nationally.

Expanding those numbers to all of Illinois' 12.3 million cellphone subscribers, the scam has a potential impact of up to $1.4 million a year in the state. Apply the data to the nation's 321.7 million wireless subscribers, and the scam could cost callers up to $59 million a year.

Unintended consequences

Cramming is an unintended consequence of the Telecommunications Act, passed by Congress in the mid 1990s. It requires phone companies to place charges for services by third-party providers on customers' telephone bills.

The purpose was to promote competition, to make it easier for small telecommunications services firms to compete with the likes of Verizon and AT&T. In reality, scammers have used the law to charge consumers for services like web hosting and voice mail services that they never asked for or agreed to purchase.

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DROID RAZR Email Account Settings (Personal POP/IMAP)

Note Available settings may vary depending upon account type.

  1. From a home screen, select Apps ( Apps icon located at the bottom).
  2. From the APPS tab, select Email.
  3. From an Inbox, select Menu ( Menu icon located in the lower-right).
  4. Select Settings.
  5. Select the appropriate account (located below General).
  6. Select Account name.
  7. Enter an account name then select OK.
  8. Select Your name.
  9. Enter a name then select OK
  10. To set as the default account, select Default account.
    Note Enabled when a check mark Check mark icon is present.
  11. Select Notification settings.
  12. Select Email notifications.
    Note Enabled when a check mark Check mark icon is present.
    1. If enabled, select Choose ringtone.
    2. Select a ringtone then select OK.
    3. Select Vibrate.
    4. Select one of the following:
      • Always
      • Only when silent
      • Never
  13. Select Back.
  14. From the COMPOSER SETTINGS section, select Composer preferences.
  15. Configure preferences as desired then select OK.
  16. Select Signature
  17. Enter a signature then select OK.
  18. From the DATA USAGE section, select Mailbox check frequency.
  19. Select one of the following:
    Note Depending upon email account type, some options may not be available.
    • Never
    • Every 15 minutes
    • Every 30 minutes
    • Every hour
    • Every 2 hours
    • Every 4 hours
  20. Select Sync over Wi-Fi only.
    Note Enabled when a check mark Check mark icon is present.
  21. From the SERVER SETTINGS section, select Incoming settings.
  22. Ensure the appropriate information is entered into the following fields then select Done:
    Note Depending upon email account type, the available settings may vary.
    • Username
    • Password
    • POP3 / IMAP server
    • Port
    • Security type
      • None
      • SSL
      • SSL (Accept all certificates)
      • TLS
      • TLS (Accept all certificates)
    • Authentication Method
      • Auto
      • Authenticated POP
      • DIGEST-MD5
      • CRAM-MD5
      • Password
    • Delete email from server
      • Never
      • When I delete from Inbox
  23. If available, select Outgoing settings.
  24. Enter the appropriate information into the following fields then select Done.
    • SMTP server
    • Port
    • Security type
      • None
      • SSL
      • SSL (Accept all certificates)
      • TLS
      • TLS (Accept all certificates)
    • Require sign-in
      Note Enabled when a check mark Check mark icon is present.
      Note If applicable, ensure the appropriate Authentication Method, Username and Password are entered.

Do Not Buy These Cell Phones

We review a lot of phones here at CNET. A lot. A few are standouts, most are decent and affordable, and a very few just aren't worth the trouble, low price be damned. Gathered below is the rogues gallery of recent disappointments that just weren't able to live up to their promise. Arm yourself with the knowledge of the phones you can safely skip, then cheer yourself up with this list of rock stars.


Editors' note: This post updates frequently. It was originally published March 2012.


The Xperia XA is a pretty face, but not much else.

Photo by Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Sony Xperia XA

Despite an eye-catching, barely there bezel and a petite frame, the Xperia XA isn't so great. It has a low screen resolution, a disappointing battery life (it lasted only 8 hours and 45 minutes during our tests), annoying bloatware and just 16GB of storage. Read the full review.

blackberry-dtek50-2566-001.jpgEnlarge Image

For all its claims, the DTEK50 isn't worth buying.

Photo by Josh Miller/CNET

BlackBerry DTEK 50

With the DTEK50, BlackBerry put its own spin on Google's Android OS. And while the software experience was relatively fine, everything else was sort of meh. The camera was weak in low-light settings and the phone's performance was slow. Worst of all, the claim that the device is "The World's Most Secure Android Smartphone" is overblown. In reality, its security features come included in most Android phones. Bummer. Read the full review.


Spend just a tad more and you'll get a way better phone than the Desire 520.

Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET


HTC Desire 520


The Desire 520 has a few things going for it. It's affordable, has loud speakers and has expandable storage. But those things can't outweigh the fact that its screen is rather dull, its battery life is short and the plastic casing feels cheap. Read the full review.

Paid Content

Experience Unity All-Flash

Sponsored by Dell EMC


The Speed is actually not so speedy.

Photo by Josh Miller/CNET

ZTE Speed

Though its petite design makes it comfortable to handle, the Speed is equipped with a slow processor that makes it anything but. In addition to its unimpressive camera, its 960x540-pixel resolution display doesn't respond very quickly to taps and swipes. Read the full review.


Though compact, the Leon's performance is frustratingly slow.

Photo by Josh Miller/CNET

LG Leon

With its 4.5-inch display, the Leon is pocket-friendly and it's pretty cheap. But its 5-megapixel camera, which lacks touch-focus, captures dull photos and its quad-core processor takes forever to carry out tasks. Read the full review.

Droid Razr Maxx Solves Battery Issue

A Droid Razr with an edge

In comparing the Droid Razr Maxx to its predecessor, it’s a wonder that Motorola and Verizon didn’t just skip the original phone entirely. At 21 hours, the Droid Razr Maxx offers a talk time almost double that of the original Droid Razr. That, of course, is due to its 3,300 mAh battery, which dwarfs the 1,780 cell found in its predecessor.

As a result of this upgrade, the Droid Razr Maxx is a bit thicker than the Droid Razr. That sounds like a problem at first, but seeing as how one of the most prominent criticisms of the Droid Razr was that it was actually too light, this added weight is actually a good thing in the end.

These things aside, the features of the two devices are almost completely identical. Notably, as with the original, the battery on the Droid Razr Maxx is non-removable, which some potential owners may balk at. But seeing as how it’s this feature that helps keep the device so slim in the first place, perhaps that hesitation is a bit unwarranted.

Solving the 4G battery problem in style

Battery life on the Razr Maxx is a dazzling thing. Even with moderate use, the phone goes at least fifteen hours without need for a charge. Keep in mind that much of this data was transferred is over an 4G LTE connection, making the Maxx’s battery life that much more amazing in comparison to 3G phones than can barely scratch eight hours.

And you won’t get a more useful metric than that. Unless you are running YouTube for hours, or doing something similarly taxing and unlikely, it will probably take a whole lot of work to drain the Razr’s Maxx’s battery. Which is certainly a good thing.

Another notable bit about the battery is that, while it lasts quite a long time, it does take a bit longer to charge compared to, say, the Nexus S 4G. (Disclosure: I own a Nexus S 4G.)

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Extreme Measures To Lower Your Cell Phone Bill

Spending more than a grand a year on Smart Phone Service and related activities is difficult to justify. There can be considerable price relief, however, if you are willing to modify your cellular consumption with some new and/or unorthodox services. Here are five extreme ways to lower your cell phone bill.

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Extreme Smartphone Users Becoming More Extreme

Study finds 1% of users now consuming half of all downloaded data.Thanks to new smartphones and the apps that tag along, mobile data is accelerating beyond expectations, network management company Arieso finds in a new study. Following a similar study in 2010, Arieso’s new analysis reveals that so-called "extreme" users are becoming even more extreme, with 1% of subscribers now consuming half of all downloaded data.

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FCC releases a security check list for all smartphone users

(Daryl Nelson Consumer Affairs) According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), smartphones robberies are  rising steadily.

In New York City, for example, 40 percent of all robberies involve smartphones or cell phones, and in Washington D.C., smartphone robberies were up by 54 percent compared to 2011, says the government agency.

And it’s not only in the big cities that smartphone crimes are increasing, as 30 to 40 percent of all robberies throughout the country involved the pricey electronic gadgets, and unless consumers really start applying a good old-fashioned dose of vigilance, the number of smartphone thefts will only continue to increase in the years to come.

To help prevent this from happening, the FCC has released what it calls the “Smartphone Security Checker”--an outline that smartphone users can follow to make sure their personal information is kept secure if their device is ever stolen or hacked into.

The ten-point check system serves as both a guideline and a reminder for consumers to follow and each suggestion seems to be made up of common-sense reminders and security tips that are pretty obvious but may have eluded some users along the way.

Watch those apps

PhotoOne example--be wary about changing the security settings on your phone once it’s purchased, as altering the default settings may dramatically diminish the phone's ability to block hackers and secure your personal data.

The FCC also suggests you be extremely leery of the apps you choose to download, and to make sure you’re getting apps from a trusted source.

Since there seems to be an application for just about everything these days, consumers can easily download something that’s harmful to their phone out of sheer habit or choose to blindly trust a certain app just because it has a lot of uses.

The security checklist also warns consumers to check the reviews of an app to see if it really works as promised before downloading it, and people should do a bit of research on the store that the app comes from, just to make sure it’s a legitimate source.

It’s also imperative that consumers know how an app works before giving it permission to carry out different functions on your smartphone and users should also familiarize the privacy settings on each app before using it, says the FCC.

Post-theft protection

An app that’s really smart for consumers to download is one that allows you to erase your personal data after your phone has been lost or stolen, which some phones are equipped with upon purchase.

The FCC says these security apps are extremely important for each smartphone user to have because it also allows them to remove stored data, even if the GPS tracker is turned off.

The government agency also says to be particularly careful when using Wi-Fi networks that are open to the public, and in actuality, consumers should really limit their use of these places in exchange for using Wi-Fi services that are from a known network.

Also, many consumers don’t take the same security precautions that they do with their laptops and home computers, although smartphones are used more frequently these days and have a bigger potential to become lost or stolen.


For this very reason, setting passwords and PINs is essential as the phone's home screen is truly the protective shield of the device--and if the right security measures are put in place, a thief will have a much harder time cracking into your personal information and using it for God knows what.

And we all know those little pop-up reminders that tell us to update our phone’s software can be annoying, but the FCC says these updates can better help your phone block out hackers and those questionable sources that may use malware to steal your info.

Some smartphones are equipped to automatically remind you of these software updates while others have to be enabled, but either way these updates at least try to keep up with the new ways that people are able to steal your information.

All things considered, the checkpoint system put together by the FCC is a useful one, and consumers will probably be reminded of some measure they’ve heard in the past, combined with new ideas to keep their data safe, because it will take a consistent level of proactivity to make sure a hacker or smartphone thief isn’t walking away with all of your stored information.

Because if that happens, a heap of potentially serious problems can develop that can be really hard to remedy, and nobody wants that.

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FTC wants stronger protections against mobile cramming

Agency issues five recommendations to clean up scam-infested industry...

(Jim Hood @ ConsumerAffairs) Nearly everyone with a smartphone has been "crammed," including those who haven't noticed yet. What's cramming? It has nothing to do with being squeezed into a crowded subway car or bus, it's the odious practice of slapping consumers with unauthorized third-party charges on their mobile phone bill. Mobile cramming for short.

The Federal Trade Commission says it's time to do something about it and today issued a report outlining five steps carriers -- and others -- should take to prevent consumers from being crammed.

The "others" are the third parties -- the merchants who offer goods and services that are charged directly to mobile phone bills, and the billing intermediaries known as aggregators who provide the backroom functions that get the charges onto mobile phone bills.

“Mobile cramming is an issue that has affected millions of consumers, sticking them with charges they did not authorize, and the FTC has worked hard to combat it,” said Jessica Rich, the Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “The best practices recommended in our report build on the FTC’s active enforcement in this area and would give consumers needed protections to rein in the problems we have seen.”

Some are legitimate

While the report concedes that some third-party charges may be legitimate, many are not. It cites three cases brought last year by the FTC that led to more than $160 million in judgments. One participant in the FTC’s roundtable on mobile cramming participant called it “almost the perfect scam.”

The commission report calls for:

  • Giving consumers the right to block third-party charges. FTC staff calls on mobile phone carriers to give consumers the right to block third-party charges on their mobile bills altogether, and to inform consumers clearly and prominently of that right.
  • Ensuring that advertising, marketing, and opt-in processes for charges are not deceptive. Consumers should know how much and how often they will be charged. Mobile carriers should closely monitor the merchants placing charges through their bills to scrutinize whether they are risky or suspicious, and if so, take steps to prevent them from placing charges.
  • Getting express, informed consent before charging consumers. Carriers should closely monitor refund rates, consumer complaints and other signs of possible cramming and take action where necessary.
  • Clearly displaying third-party charges on bills. Mobile bills should clearly and conspicuously show third-party charges. Carriers should consider steps to make third-party charges more prominent, such as separate billing lines for third-party charges that make it clear to consumers which charges are directly from a carrier and which are from a third party. 
  • Creating an effective process for resolving disputes. Finally, mobile carriers should put in place an effective dispute resolution process that gives clear information to consumers about how to dispute suspicious charges and seek refunds for unauthorized charges.

Factory Reset of your Android Phone May Not Wipe Data

A digital forensics team retrieved compromising data from factory-reset smartphones

You probably know that before you sell or give away your old computer, smartphone or other data-recording communications device, you're supposed to “wipe it clean,” or get a factory reset — something to erase all of your data from it.

But this month, the security software company Avast made a disturbing discovery about Android smartphones: apparently you can't wipe them clean. Even if the phones undergo a full factory reset, data can still be retrieved form them.

A digital forensics team at Avast bought 20 used smartphones on eBay. All had been wiped clean, factory reset, or otherwise treated so that their original owners figured their data was no longer on them.

Yet, from those 20 phones, the Avast team was able to extract more than 40,000 photos (including at least 250 nude selfies), hundreds of email and text messages, a completed loan application (with all the personal financial data therein), and the identities of four of the phones' previous owners—and remember, that's four from a pool of only 20 phones.

Off the shelf
What's even more frightening is that Avast's team didn't have to invent some fancy new digital forensics tools to get all this information; Avast's mobile division president Jude McColgan said his team only used readily available, off-the-shelf data-retreival tools.

So, if you have an old Android which you want to replace, must you abandon all hope of selling or donating the old phone, and destroy it instead? Not exactly; there is a way to truly erase all your data, but it's extremely time-consuming (and not guaranteed 100 percent effective anyway).

If you have an erased or factory reset phone and want to hobble any digital forensics team seeking to retrieve your data, your best best is to overwrite it with new data: save a bunch of innocuous stock photos or videos (they don't even have to be your own) onto the phone. Override your previous personal emails and messages by filling your phone with innocuous or even meaningless messages.

To make an analogy: think of your phone or computer memory as a sheet of paper, and any saved data is like pencil-marks you made on it. You can use an eraser to wipe away your pencil-writings and make that paper “blank” again — but a person willing to take the time and effort could probably still look at that “blank” paper and reconstruct at least some of what you erased. However, reading your erased writings will be much harder, hopefully impossible, if you then write or at least scribble new pencil marks all over the site of your old erased ones.

Of course, the main problem with this analogy is that you can look at that piece of paper and see at a glance whether or not your new pencil markings obscure the old ones, but unless you're a digital forensics expert you can't necessarily know whether all your previously erased data has been completely overwritten.

Factory Reset of your Android Phone May Not Wipe Data

A digital forensics team retrieved compromising data from factory-reset smartphones

You probably know that before you sell or give away your old computer, smartphone or other data-recording communications device, you're supposed to “wipe it clean,” or get a factory reset — something to erase all of your data from it.

But this month, the security software company Avast made a disturbing discovery about Android smartphones: apparently you can't wipe them clean. Even if the phones undergo a full factory reset, data can still be retrieved form them.

A digital forensics team at Avast bought 20 used smartphones on eBay. All had been wiped clean, factory reset, or otherwise treated so that their original owners figured their data was no longer on them.

Yet, from those 20 phones, the Avast team was able to extract more than 40,000 photos (including at least 250 nude selfies), hundreds of email and text messages, a completed loan application (with all the personal financial data therein), and the identities of four of the phones' previous owners—and remember, that's four from a pool of only 20 phones.

Off the shelf
What's even more frightening is that Avast's team didn't have to invent some fancy new digital forensics tools to get all this information; Avast's mobile division president Jude McColgan said his team only used readily available, off-the-shelf data-retreival tools.

So, if you have an old Android which you want to replace, must you abandon all hope of selling or donating the old phone, and destroy it instead? Not exactly; there is a way to truly erase all your data, but it's extremely time-consuming (and not guaranteed 100 percent effective anyway).

If you have an erased or factory reset phone and want to hobble any digital forensics team seeking to retrieve your data, your best best is to overwrite it with new data: save a bunch of innocuous stock photos or videos (they don't even have to be your own) onto the phone. Override your previous personal emails and messages by filling your phone with innocuous or even meaningless messages.

To make an analogy: think of your phone or computer memory as a sheet of paper, and any saved data is like pencil-marks you made on it. You can use an eraser to wipe away your pencil-writings and make that paper “blank” again — but a person willing to take the time and effort could probably still look at that “blank” paper and reconstruct at least some of what you erased. However, reading your erased writings will be much harder, hopefully impossible, if you then write or at least scribble new pencil marks all over the site of your old erased ones.

Of course, the main problem with this analogy is that you can look at that piece of paper and see at a glance whether or not your new pencil markings obscure the old ones, but unless you're a digital forensics expert you can't necessarily know whether all your previously erased data has been completely overwritten.

Four Digit iPhone Passwords Are Not Enough



Photo via YouTube

(Jennifer Abel  @ ConsumerAffairs) If you have an iPhone you're required to use a minimum of four characters in your passcode, though you can set your passcode to require more characters than four – and for security reasons, you probably should.

A recent experiment from the U.K. security company MDSec provides another reminder of why. They tested a black box device which can use brute force to break a four-digit passcode in 111 hours or less, thus averaging out to 55 hours needed for hackers to access a typical iPhone with four-digit code.

In hacking terms, a brute-force attack means methodically trying every possible character combination until the right one is found. This is done with software, of course, since the number of possible different passcode combinations is more than any mere human can type in a decade — or even a lifetime.

Most passcode-protected systems are set up to make brute force attempts impossible. Have you ever temporarily forgotten your password for a given account (or only remembered “Okay, I know it's the release date and first-line lyrics to one of my five all-time favorite songs; I just can't remember which specific song I used?”), and then, after a few failed tries, got a message saying you now had to wait a period of some minutes before you'd be allowed to try entering a password again? That was to thwart brute force.

10 attempts

With iPhones, the devices allow 10 incorrect passcode attempts before going into either automatic lockout or data wipe, depending on which settings the owner chose. But the black box device tested by MDSec can circumvent this 10-guess limit and brute-force the iPhone anyway – provided it had physical possession of the phone itself, for up to four uninterrupted days:

For as little as £200 [about $300] we were able to acquire one of these devices and put it to work. … Our initial analysis indicates that the IP Box is able to bypass this [10-try limit] restriction by connecting directly to the iPhone’s power source and aggressively cutting the power after each failed PIN attempt, but before the attempt has been synchronized to flash memory. As such, each PIN entry takes approximately 40 seconds, meaning that it would take up to ~111 hours to bruteforce a 4 digit PIN. 

Essentially, after every failed password attempt, the black box device shut off the iPhone's power source before the phone could “count” that failed try toward any 10-failure total.

Of course, this particular black box hacking device has little practical real-world value for everyday hackers, and even for everyday iPhone users it's more of a laboratory curiosity than an actual threat. But it's also another example illustrating why sometimes, bigger really is better — at least where iPhone passwords are concerned.

Geo Tags - Local Business - Getting Found on Mobile Devices


(Jonathan Long) Mobile traffic is growing at an alarming rate, but even more alarming might be what a Google Mobile Movement Study mentioned, stating that “88% of consumers who search for a type of local business on a mobile device call or go to that business within 24 hours.” This statement alone should highlight the importance of being found via mobile devices.

In order to further emphasize how quickly the mobile market is growing and why it is so important to be in a position to take advantage of the growth, let’s quickly go over three of the points that are illustrated in the infographic below.

#1) 7 out of 10 mobile users interact with their devices in the store while they are shopping

This is a golden opportunity to get creative and capitalize on the fact that there are consumers present that are A) interested in the products or services of the establishment that they are in, and B) connected to their social media accounts through the smartphones that they are glued to.

Everyone loves social media and most consumers jump at the opportunity to “Like” a Facebook page or “Follow” a Twitter profile, especially if they belong to a brand or company that they enjoy or have an interest in. Making sure that social media profiles and handles are visible in a creative way can result in nice natural growth. This grows the number of laser targeted active consumers this business can now market directly to in a very non-intrusive way.

#2) Half of mobile users use a local search/map to find businesses

Just like with traditional SEO, local SEO has one goal: to get to the top of the search results. In this case the business wants to rank on top for local geographic terms related to the products and or services that their business provides.

Mobile phones, mobile internet, and mobile search are all based around convenience. The typical consumer performing a mobile search isn’t going to scroll down through pages of results. They are going to make their inquiry and then quickly make a decision.

#3) Almost 8 out of every 10 mobile users have used their devices for shopping related activities

Again, it comes down to convenience. Before the smartphones that we enjoy today “mobile internet” was slow and provided a horrible user experience. Now many consumers have devices that browse just as fast as their big bulky home PC.

Mobile devices equipped with fast internet speeds make it simple to search whether sitting on the couch and relaxing or on a retail shopping spree. There are no limitations and consumers love that aspect of their smartphones.

Take a look at the infographic below and learn why mobile needs to be a major focus for every online marketing strategy.

Get Your Refund - AT&T fined for sham directory assistance service

(Truman Lewis @ Consumer Affairs) AT&T Services has agreed to pay $7.75 million for its role in a directory assistance scam that Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) investigators stumbled onto while probing a drug-sales and money-laundering operation.

Scammers "crammed" AT&T wireline customers $9 a month for the non-existent service even though they were never able to provide evidence that the customers had ordered the service, investigators said.

“A phone bill should not be a tool for drug traffickers, money launderers, and other unscrupulous third parties to fleece American consumers,” said Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Enforcement Bureau Chief Travis LeBlanc. “Today’s settlement ensures that AT&T customers who were charged for this sham service will get their money back and that all AT&T consumers will enjoy greater protections against unauthorized charges on their phone bills in the future.”

Cramming scam

The DEA discovered the cramming scam while investigating two Cleveland-area companies, Discount Directory, Inc. (DDI) and Enhanced Telecommunications Services (ETS) for drug-related crimes and money laundering. 

In the course of seizing drugs, cars, jewelry, gold, and computers totaling close to $3.4 million from the companies’ principals and associates, DEA investigators discovered financial documents related to a scheme to defraud telephone customers, according to the FCC. 

AT&T received a fee from the companies for each charge AT&T placed on its customers’ bills. Although DDI and ETS submitted charges for thousands of AT&T customers, they never provided any directory assistance service. 

Under the terms of today’s settlement, AT&T will issue full refunds to all current and former consumers charged for the sham directory assistance service since January 2012. These refunds are expected to total $6,800,000. AT&T will also pay a $950,000 fine to the U.S. Treasury.  

Third-party products

The FCC said that as part of the settlement, AT&T has agreed to cease billing for nearly all third-party products and services on its wireline bills, adopt processes to obtain express informed consent from customers prior to allowing third-party charges on their phone bills, revise their billing practices to ensure that third-party charges are clearly and conspicuously identified on bills so that customers can see what services they are paying for, and offer a free service for customers to block third-party charges.  

In addition, the Consent Decree requires AT&T to implement a detailed program for addressing and refunding consumers who complain to the company about unauthorized third-party charges. 

It's not the first time AT&T has been implicated in cramming schemes. In 2014, it agreed to pay $105 million in fines and refunds to current and former wireless customers for unauthorized third-party subscriptions and premium text messaging services as part of a global cramming settlement with the FCC, Federal Trade Commission, and states’ attorneys general. 

Google Chrome update can drop data consumption by 70 percent

Google has unveiled an update to Android's Chrome Data Saver feature. Rolling out first in India and Indonesia, it can potentially save users 70 percent of their data

Internet usage is becoming increasingly prevalent on smartphones, and last January Google helped out users on a bandwidth budget by introducing a Data Saver mode. Now, following competition from fellow browser Opera, it's beefing up its compression capabilities.

The Californian electronics behemoth announced on Monday that it's updating Android's Chrome Data Saver mode, which can now decrease user data consumption by up to 70 percent.

Google achieved this by "removing most images when loading a page on a slow connection," product manager Taj Oppenheimer said in the blog post. If Chrome detects a weak connection, it'll load a page without images, leading to faster speeds and less data expenditure. Users can then opt to load all the pictures, or they can touch individual pictures to load.

Though no specific time frame was announced, these updates will first roll out in India and Indonesia, with more countries to follow. While there is a glut of cheap and reliable sub-$150 smartphones available in India and Indonesia, telecommunications infrastructure is more dated, with some parts of both countries relying on 2G Internet. There was no mention on if the improved functionality will come to Chrome's iOS app.

Data compression is big business in India and parts of Asia, with Norwegian company Opera last month announcing a deal that will see its Opera Max data saving app come pre-installed on smartphones from Samsung, Xiaomi, Acer, Hisense and more. South Korean giant Samsung was among the first to run with the app, launching and promoting its On series in India around the data-compression technology.

The Data Saver function was first introduced to Android and iOS Chrome apps by Google last January. This March, over a year later, the company extended the feature to its desktop and laptop browser.

Google X-Phone Slated To Take On Apple Samsung LG HTC

Google is working with recently acquired Motorola on a handset codenamed "X-phone", aimed at grabbing market share from Apple and Samsung, the Wall Street Journal said, citing people familiar with the matter.

Google acquired Motorola in May for $12.5 billion to bolster its patent portfolio as its Android mobile operating system competes with rivals such as Apple and Samsung.

The Journal quoted the people saying that Motorola is working on two fronts: devices that will be sold by carrier partner Verizon Wireless, and on the X phone.

Motorola plans to enhance the X Phone with its recent acquisition of Viewdle, an imaging and gesture-recognition software developer. The new handset is due out sometime next year, the business daily said, citing a person familiar with the plans.

Motorola is also expected to work on an "X" tablet after the phone. Google Chief Executive Larry Page is said to have promised a significant marketing budget for the unit, the newspaper said quoting the persons.

Google was not immediately reachable for comments outside regular U.S. business hours.

(Reporting by Balaji Sridharan in Bangalore; Editing by Richard Chang) 

(c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2012. Check for restrictions at: 

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Gooligan malware infects a million Google accounts

(Truman Lewis @ ConsumerAffairs) Older Android devices are susceptible to the malware:

An attack campaign dubbed Gooligan has infected more than 1 million Google accounts, with 13,000 new devices being breached each day, according to Check Point Software Technologies Ltd., a cyber security firm.

The malware, which affects older versions of the Android system, steals authentication tokens that can be used to access data from Google Play, Gmail, Google Photos, Google Docs, G Suite, Google Drive, and more, Check Point said.

“We’re appreciative of both Check Point’s research and their partnership as we’ve worked together to understand these issues,” said Adrian Ludwig, Google’s director of Android security. “As part of our ongoing efforts to protect users from the Ghost Push family of malware, we’ve taken numerous steps to protect our users and improve the security of the Android ecosystem overall.”

Gooligan can potentially infect about 74% of Android devices, including those running Android 4 -- which includes Jelly Bean and KitKat -- and Android 5 (Lollipop), the researchers said.

What to do

The malware is contained in tens of thousands of fake apps. Check Point has set up a test page on its site where you can see if your device is infected.

How Do I Stop Ad Tracking on an iOS6 iPhone

iOS 6 added a feature called Identifier for Advertisers. It's a unique number that follows you wherever you surf online. Advertisers can use it to track you. To disable it, go to Settings>>General>>About>>Advertising. Look for the section labeled "Limit Ad Tracking" and turn the slider to the "On" position (yes, I said "On"). Then, load in your gadget's browser. A screen that asks if you want to opt out of Interest Based iAds will pop up. Move the slider to the "Off" position. You'll still see ads, but they won't be targeted.

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How Mobile Alters Marketplaces and Traditional Network

(Semi Shah @ Swell) On the web, marketplaces are the stuff of legend. With properties like eBay and Amazon, among many other, an online marketplace harnesses the openness of the web, more efficiently matches supply with demand without too many intermediaries, and leverages network effects to capture economic value during each transaction. A key component for a marketplace to work, however, is liquidity — the comfort in knowing that for each item or request posted, there is a willing buyer at a certain price. Liquidity is what drives the engine of a marketplace, what keeps sellers coming back to list items and what keeps buyers coming back to fulfill their needs, and in order to have it, it requires scale — that lots of people be able to access the marketplace.


Investors love marketplaces for obvious reasons: the power and elegance of network effects. I’ve personally had the opportunity to invest in three so far, and am hoping for more. Yet, even though I’m focused on mobile for work, mobile presents would-be marketplace startups with some thorny issues out of the gate, largely because of fragmentation of users across two dominant mobile platforms (iOS and Android). Early-stage startups often do not have the luxury of time or money to build across mobile platforms at the outset, so any mobile marketplace offering would theoretically be reducing its overall size by about 50%, and this affects liquidity of the marketplace. (There are some startups, such as Threadflip and Tophatter, as examples, which began their marketplaces on the web with an eye to convert to mobile. This can be a controversial approach — using the web to hack mobile distribution — though some, like Rothman, suggest it’s a sound path in order to get mobile marketplaces going given general app store distribution woes and the liquidity issue facing mobile marketplaces.)

Of course, a few mobile-first startups have cleared the liquidity hurdle presented by the fragmentation of users across iOS and Android. For example, companies like Poshmark, which helps people buy and sell clothes directly from users, companies like Uber and Lyft, which use mobile to aggregate demand and efficiently yet indirectly route that demand to providers who can fulfill the requests. Here, we begin to see a pattern and delineation. One, very few companies are both purely mobile and a marketplace where buyers and sellers are directly interacting with each other prior to a transaction. Two, as a result, newer mobile marketplaces have followed the path carved out by Uber, which collects demand via mobile and then routes those requests to a fleet of willing drivers who are free to take or reject rides. Here, Uber gets around the market liquidity issue presented by mobile by doing the hard work of organizing assets and labor offline and then connecting them to a central hub of demand.

This is the new type of marketplace-driven network effect specific to mobile, where demand is generated online (through mobile) and fulfilled offline (driven by services).

Therefore, there’s good reason why we all hear so many “Uber for X” analogies. Startups like GAIN Fitness, HotelTonight, and many others generally take this approach, putting mobile apps in consumers’ hands and offering a promise — tap this button, and with some magic, on the other end someone will present an offer to satisfy your demand. For startups, today’s reality raises specific tactical concerns. Assuming the startup will land on iOS first, the company either needs enough capital or revenue to be able to get to some equilibrium in the marketplace’s first incarnation so that the product can be improved to a point where an Android team can build for that platform. Second, direct marketplaces present sellers with friction points around packaging and shipping or service delivery, while indirect marketplaces, which usually offer some form of an offline service, require liquidity within a location-specific density to work. It only makes sense to make Lyft available to me as a consumer if I live in an area where Lyft operates.

Moving forward, we are already seeing whole new categories of businesses on the “Uber for X” path, and I don’t see that trend stopping any time soon. But, what about pure mobile marketplaces directly connecting buyers and sellers, on a more peer-to-peer level? Sure, offerings like Airbnb and others which began on the web have built a large enough brand to play on mobile, but what about companies like Yardseller, which tried to get into the local listings game through apps, or newer apps like Bondsy, and many others I’m sure are out there — and I’d love to hear about them, so please get in touch.

In economies which are all undergoing big structural changes and facing many uncertainties, the elegance, efficiency, and dispassion of a marketplaces presents systems which can be incredibly resistant to external stresses. Mobile fragmentation presents a thorny challenge to startups, and some have responded by overcoming the liquidity hurdle or by creating a new business model to subvert the problem. All of this matters as mobile phones continue to proliferate, as economics remain under duress, as many people look for new sources of income, and as phones present a new way to segment consumers by willingness to pay and location. It’s unclear if a startup can create a mobile application that puts buyers directly in contact with sellers at true scale, and while some do exist, my belief is for the next few years most of them in the marketplace category will indirectly match consumers with providers, and that’s just fine. It’s more efficient this way, for now. And, hey, I could be wrong. Maybe there’s a new startup launching today with a direct marketplace vision…and I can’t wait to see it in the wild.

Photo Credit: Paul Sableman / Creative Commons Flickr

How To Use Hashtags

It’s a simple symbol: two lines intersecting two lines. It’s been called the number sign, the pound sign and the hash mark. It’s used for different purposes in linguistics, mathematics and computing. Of course, we’re talking about the # symbol. It’s a simple sign, but one with growing influence.

Today, the # symbol is used to create “hashtags” in social media posts on sites like Twitter and Facebook. A hashtag is the # symbol followed by a word or phrase.
Hashtags create a system for grouping messages and allow social media users to see content, such as tweets, from people they do not follow. If you search #cats on Twitter, you’ll see cat content from around the world—and there is a lot of it.
Exploring topics using hashtags is simple. On Facebook and Twitter, hashtags are clickable—so you just have to select the hashtag within a post to view more about that topic. You can also search using hashtags (as opposed to traditional keywords), but there is a difference between keyword and hashtag queries. A hashtag is usually written without spacing and might not contain normal words. That means searches for “#ILoveCats” and “I love cats” will generate different results.
When you use hashtags, you’re more than simply sending a message into a larger pool for others to see; you are joining a conversation. Whether referring to sporting events, political affairs or breaking news, your voice can be heard.
How to use a hashtag
Hashtags are easy to use. However, it’s important to keep a few things in mind when using them.
It’s recommended that hashtags be short and concise, making it easy for messages to be grouped with others relating to the same topic. A search on Twitter for #cats delivers a long list of tweets sent out within the past 24 hours; while it takes more than five months for #mycatiscrazy to produce the same amount of results. In short, the simpler the hashtag, the bigger the grouping.
Hashtags can go anywhere—at the beginning or end of a post, or within it. It’s just as correct to use “I can’t wait to leave for vacation! #NYC” or “#NYC, here we come!” It’s also common to use multiple hashtags in one post. But, again, keep it simple: “I can’t believe the #ChicagoBlackhawks won the #StanleyCup” or “Next weekend will be so much fun #winetasting #NapaValley.”
It’s important to note that users can join topic groups without writing keywords in the message itself, as seen in our second example with Napa Valley being used as a hashtag outside of the message.
When a message is flooded with too many hashtags, it becomes difficult to read and loses meaning. “The #2012 #London #Olympics was so #amazing. Can’t #wait for #Rio. #athletes #goldmedal” doesn’t help people find your information faster—it just confuses them.
Trending now
Hashtags provide a glimpse into the topics that are important to people and the world at any given moment. In 2011, the top two Twitter hashtags were vastly different: #egypt and #tigerblood. One refers to a country’s unrest, the other to the antics of actor Charlie Sheen. Hashtags help us share our wide spectrum of thoughts and feelings.
Imagine if social media existed in the dynamic and turbulent 1960s. Popular hashtags might include: #TheBeatles, #MoonLanding, #MLK, and #VietnamWar. The voices of millions would’ve been easily recorded regarding key historical moments.
Hashtags for marketers
For companies, hashtags are a vital tool in measuring the impact of brands and advertising campaigns. Not only can a company gauge its popularity based on the number of times a specific hashtag has been used, but it can also view what people are saying about its brand. Hashtags provide both quantity and quality.
Today, many advertisers use hashtags as campaign anchors. Whether it’s a new promotion for Coca-Cola or a summer blockbuster movie, hashtags are essential. They are even used outside the online world. The habit of watching television and surfing the web at the same time is very appealing for marketers, so a television commercial for Coca-Cola might direct users to post to Twitter using #CocaColaHappiness.
And with the rise of mobile usage, a billboard can influence people on the go to post using hashtags as a way to further interact with their favorite brands or access discounts and information.
Real-time feedback
It’s just as easy for people to post negative messages about brands as they do positive ones. If a customer tweets about a bad experience at a retail store using the company’s name in the hashtag, it’s very possible that the company’s brand team will see it. The good news is that this gives the company an opportunity to reach out to that customer to try and resolve any issues.
It’s now common for TV viewers to tweet about a show while watching it, which allows networks to better monitor audience reactions. Hashtags create a focus group without having to physically gather participants behind a two-way mirror—all you need are the viewers, wherever they are, and the computer screen.
The future of hashtags
Remember, the hashtag is still evolving. In February 2013, its usage took a big step with the “pay by tweet” partnership between Twitter and American Express. By linking their American Express and Twitter accounts, people can pay for some products by tweeting specific hashtags. Each product—such as the Amazon Kindle—has its own hashtag. Users simply tweet the designated hashtag and receive a confirmation code. They then have fifteen minutes to tweet the code again to finalize the order.
In June 2013, Facebook launched its hashtag program, creating thousands of conversations for more than a billion users. Facebook hashtags give people one more reason to spend time on the network—and that means more opportunities for marketers to mine data on user interests.
As our digital experiences continue to evolve, what will come next for the hashtag? Will email services like Gmail begin incorporating hashtags? Will hashtags become so pervasive that they lose impact or become a burden on users? Or will their expanding use only assist users in searching for useful information and become the default language of the web? It might be two lines intersecting two lines, but the hashtag is a true cultural phenomenon.

How to Unlock AT&T iPhone 4/3GS Without Losing Untethered Jailbreak Using Redsn0w

In an earlier IBTimes UK report, it was announced that AT&T had decided to unlock iPhones of off-contract users. Furthermore, other earlier reports have discussed eligibility criteria and the service provider's method of unlocking the iPhone using back-up and restore from iTunes.

There is, however, a downside to this process - you are forced to compromise the untethered jailbreak during iTunes' restoration.

MuscleNerd, the brains behind the iPhone-Dev Team has unearthed a workaround to help you enjoy the untethered jailbreak while also successfully factory-unlocking the iPhone from AT&T, reports JBU.

How To Unlock iPhone 4/3GS Without Losing Jailbreak Using Redsn0w:

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How to block unwanted phone calls

Getting your phone number on a Do Not Call list will stop legitimate telemarketers from interrupting your dinner.

But the law does not prevent charities, political organizations, survey takers and, of course, the garden variety scammer from calling your number with some kind of question or pitch.

It can be an aggravating state of affairs for consumers who have enough distractions and interruptions in a typical day.

As we reported back in April, most smartphones have a built in feature that, once an unwanted call has come in, blocks future calls from that number. But it turns out that there are even some ways to block calls to landlines, and now that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has ruled that federal law does not prohibit phone carriers from blocking robocalls and robotexts before they reach residential landlines or cell phones, more call-blocking apps are expected.

Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller's office has compiled a rather extensive list of current ways consumers can block calls to cell and landline phones. Zoeller said he got involved with this issue because it remains the biggest source of consumer complaints in his state – 7,500 complaints so far this year.

Here are a few call blocking features that might prove useful:

This works if you have VoIP telephone service – an internet-based telephone service like Vonage, Comcast, or MagicJack, and wireless internet access. NoMoRobo uses a Caller-ID blacklist to block known spam callers. There is no charge for non-business users and it can be downloaded at When a blacklisted call comes in, the phone rings just once, then drops the call.

Anonymous Call Blocking for AT&T Landline

For this call blocker, you need phone service from AT&T with Caller ID. When someone places a call to you with a blocked, unknown, or anonymous number, the caller will hear a message advising that the number does not accept incoming calls from blocked numbers. Your phone never rings. But you really need to hate telemarketers, since the feature adds $10 a month to your phone bill.

Call Blocking Gadgets or Devices

There is hardware you can purchase that will allow you to block calls to most landlines, VoIP, DSL, and digital voice services. Examples include Digitone Call Blocker Plus, Pro Call Blocker Version 2.2, and CPR Call Blocker V202. Most are programmable using your phone to load numbers you want to block. Blocked calls are disconnected after Caller ID is received.

Zoeller's office cautions consumers to be careful if you purchase them online and that you buy only from a reputable dealer with a good return policy. The attorney general's office also says not all devices work well with U.S. phone systems, so you should do your homework.

There are other features and hardware as well. Check out the complete list here.

Zoeller, meanwhile, is a strong advocate of call blocking features, especially on phones used by older consumers.

“A majority of unwanted calls are coming from scam artists, criminals and massive robocall operations overseas,” he said. “The best way to stop these types of intrusive calls is to block them before they ever reach your phone. Thankfully technology is advancing and more of these options are becoming available.”

How to unlock iPhone 4S, Ubuntu 12.04

Google+ users are linking to articles that explain how to unlock a jailbroken iPhone 4S (and any other version of the device) using a new technique discovered by a Chinese hacker who goes by the name Loktar_Sun.

The hack reportedly makes use of “Sam Bigner’s SAM (Subscriber Artificial Module) Package to create a valid unlock-ticket [that] is available for free.”

“We have tested it and it works,” said Gizmodo, which noted that while you should “proceed at your own risk,” the unlocking process is “painless.”

Plussers are eagerly awaiting the long-term service desktop release of Linux-based computer operating system Ubuntu 12.04.

“Cant wait for the 26th and the #ubuntu 12.04 release!” says a G+’er. “Already have the beta, but its the best feeling when you have the final copy in hand.”

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If Your Business Isn't Mobile Your Are Falling Behind

(Zac Johnson @ Business2Community) How many times are you going to be looking at your mobile device today? You may even be using it right now to read this post! No matter what device and when you use it… mobile is quickly taking over all of our lives. It will only be a matter of time before mobile devices are used for all of our daily transactions and how we enter our homes and even start our cars!

If you are currently doing business online and haven’t adapted mobile into your business, you are quickly falling behind.

Let’s take a look at some of the crazy numbers behind mobile’s massive growth and why you need to get active in this market right now!

  • More than half of Americans now own smart phones. Over 4 billion world wide!
  • Mobile data usage doubled in 2012 and over 50% of mobile data is video.
  • Apple iOS, Android and Blackberry are the major players in the mobile space right now. 

To get a better understanding of these number and the true potential in mobile, be sure to check out the infographic below.

How to Make Money in the $4 Billion Mobile Market image MobileStats16How to Make Money in the $4 Billion Mobile Market

So how can you start making money with mobile marketing?

Now let’s start talking about the different ways you can make money in the mobile space. I’m sure we are all familiar with brands like AngryBirds and CandyCrush making six figures in revenue every day with their apps. While this isn’t likely for the average business, it’s just a real example of how much money can be made in mobile. It’s only a matter of time before a “free” app generates over a BILLION dollars on it’s own! CandyCrush is already pushing almost a million dollars every day!

Outside of the app business you also have a few other options. Just like affiliate marketing is has been extremely successful all across the internet, a ton of money has been generated in this area through mobile marketing as well. This is also one of the major revenue sources for free mobile apps.

However, one of the best ways for you to start making money and a legitimate business with mobile is for you to start collecting subscribers and phone numbers. If you were active with email marketing you know how powerful and effective it’s been. The only thing that is more direct than email is mobile through text messaging and phone calls.

Just think about it… if your phone was to beep or ring right now, you would check it immediately. If it was a text message you would definitely read it. When it comes to email people usually just click delete and move on… mobile is much more direct and responsive.

How to Make Money in the $4 Billion Mobile Market image Depositphotos 13231343 xsHow to Make Money in the $4 Billion Mobile Market

Here’s an example of a business service that is latching onto mobile and making it easier for others to jump on the train as well. is a leading mobile based service that helps online marketers and businesses focus on the list building process for mobile devices, creating apps and mobile-ready web sites. All of these components are now musts in today business world.

When is the last time you were on your phone and wanted to access a web site and it wasn’t mobile ready? This is one of the worst ways to destroy your customer experience and your reputation in the process.

On the Remarkamobile blog they also have the following mind blowing stats for mobile use and online business.

  • “A staggering 98% of small business owner’s web sites are NOT mobile-ready” (ySplash)
  • 40%will click another mobile result if a website is not mobile-ready (according to Icebreaker Consulting study)
  • 46% of mobile user say they are unlikely to return to a website they had trouble accessing from their phone and said they would visit a competitor’s site instead (according to Gomez study)
  • Mobile website traffic is increasing at 3.5% “per month” (according to Televox study)

As you can see… now is the time to get into mobile. It’s still quite early in the game and more companies are getting established everyday. Today is the day you make the jump into mobile.

Increase Your Landing Page Conversions

( @ Marketo) Picture this: You’re at a car dealership. A salesman approaches you and says “Hi there. Can I please get your first name, last name, email address, home phone number, and home address?” Taken back, you eyeball the guy up and down, looking at his clothes, shoes, posture, hairstyle, and facial expression, all while trying to figure out why this person asked you for this information when he doesn’t even know who you are or what car you’re interested in yet.

This awkward encounter is similar to what people might experience when they arrive at your landing page. Within only a few seconds, they’ll decide whether or not you’ve created a effective landing page that is interesting, relevant, and enticing enough to divulge their  precious personal information.

Although there is no exact recipe for whipping up the perfect landing page, there are definitely a few design techniques you can test that will help produce aesthetically pleasing, high converting pages. Let’s dive right in!

1. Whitespace Directional Cues

It would be a lot easier to find Waldo if he wasn’t always hidden in a crowd, wouldn’t it? That’s because crowded spaces create distractions, which makes it a struggle to focus on one particular element. If your landing page visitors have to search high and low to find your call-to-action, they’ll leave without thinking twice. To highlight areas of importance, utilize the page’s whitespace, which is an area that is intentionally left blank and doesn’t necessarily need to be “white.”

Allowing your form or call-to-action (CTA) some breathing room will help it stand out from the rest of the page and get noticed. However, keep in mind that although whitespace is critical to the organization and flow of a landing page, it can just as easily be overdone, creating a sense of disconnect and lowering the chance of conversion.

In the example below, Wishpond does a great job of giving this form plenty of space, but not too much, and using complementary colors (blue backdrop and orange form button) to draw your eyes into the form.

Wishpond Landing Page

2. Explicit Directional Cues

To make things incredibly simple for your landing page visitors, I recommend testing explicit cues. As far as directional cues go, arrows are about as subtle as a flying brick! Think about it though…you only have a few seconds to capture your visitors’ attention, so why not make things really obvious for them? Arrows say “Please just do this. You don’t need to worry about the other stuff”.

In this example below, AT&T does an incredible job keeping whitespace around their form while still incorporating explicit directional cues that point to the form. You’ll also notice there isn’t just one arrow–there are four! The light green “U” shaped element points to the form from the left side in addition to the swirly blue arrow. From the bottom, the green “Order by Phone” cloud comes to a point on top. On the right side, several blue arrows point back to the form. Even with all this action, the page doesn’t feel crowded nor do the explicit cues feel overdone.

AT&T Landing Page

If the fancy arrows in the AT&T example are too much for you, check out this example from Kingsley Judd. The white arrow at the top left corner of the form is simple, yet effective.

Kingsley Judd Landing Page

3. Line-of-Sight Cues

Less subtle than arrows, but arguably just as effective, is the use of line of sight. Have you ever seen a group of people point up and stare at something? If so, you probably didn’t just stand there and watch them look at something else. You looked in the same direction and tried to figure out what was so great, right? That’s because we tend to follow the gaze of others out of curiosity.

If you’re building a landing page, experiment with images of human faces and use line of sight towards the form to increase conversions. Here’s a great example from GoToMeeting.

GoToMeeting Landind Page

I hope these landing page tips inspire you to get out there and start increasing your conversions. But remember to test for success! You’ll never know which combination of these work best for your audience unless you try them out.

Do you have any other design tips that produce better conversion rates? Share them in the comments below and explain how you tested it!

Is SmartPhone Best Choice For Everyone

(Ask Maggie, CNET) First, I want to clarify something. Your parents do not need to get a Share Everything Plan from Verizon Wireless if they do not wish to get a smartphone. If they decide to stay with regular feature phones and they are new subscribers to Verizon, there are the traditional post-paid service options available. They could also consider pay-as-you-go service or special senior citizen services.


With this in mind, they have two options. They can continue to use basic feature phones and pay a lot less in service fees, or they can get smartphones where the functionality of the phone will be greatly increased but so will the overall cost.

Whether your parents should get iPhones or any smartphones really depends entirely on if you think they would use the features on a smartphone. Also, you should really consider the added cost, and whether adding smartphones to their lives is in their budget. After all, it's not the cost of the devices that are expensive so much as the service that comes with it.

I don't know how old your parents are or how tech-savvy they are. But if they're anything like my 70-year old aunt, who insisted on getting an Android smartphone from Verizon a couple of years ago and recently upgraded to the iPhone 5, the truth is they probably don't really need a smartphone. My aunt, whom I love dearly and who often asks my advice and then ignores it, has been a smartphone owner for more than two years now. And despite my best efforts to educate her on the functionality of her phones, the only thing she uses her smartphone for is to answer and make phone calls. She just learned how to text message, and she occasionally checks email from her phone, although she never replies to such messages.

Not only has she spent a lot of money on devices that she doesn't really know how to use and likely will never use to their full potential, but she's also stuck paying an overly expensive phone bill each month.

By contrast, my father, who is 71 years old and as cheap as I am, has a basic prepaid phone from AT&T. I bought the phone for him two years ago, and as part of his Christmas present every year, I put $100 on his prepaid account, which is good for an entire year. He uses the phone so infrequently that the $100 typically gets him through the entire year. If you do the math, that's cell service for $8.30 a month. Even if he uses $200 in a year, that's a phone bill of only $16.60 a month.

Your options

Let's get back to your parents and look at their options.

If your parents are on a tight budget and they don't use their phones very much, like my dad, then you could try a pay-as-you-go plan like the one I bought for my dad. Verizon has an offer that is similar. If you put $100 on the phone, you have a year to use all the money. But each call will cost 25 cents a minute. Text and picture messages will also be charged 20 cents and 25 cents, respectively. While the notion of a meter running while you talk may be too scary for some consumers, the reality is that it's much more cost-effective if you don't use a cell phone very much.

Again, I don't know your parents, so I don't know if they spend hours gabbing on their cell phones. But my guess is that if they are like the senior citizens in my family, they still have a regular home phone which they use for lengthy conversations. And their cell phones are often used for "emergencies," or when they are out and about for short conversations.

Verizon also offers a special discounted plan for senior citizens. If your parents are over age 65 and you buy them basic feature phones, you can get the 65 Plus plan for $59.98 a month. This price includes service for two feature phones and will give them 450 anytime minutes, 1,000 night and weekend minutes, unlimited Verizon-to-Verizon phone calls, and pay-as-you-go text messaging. If your parents are big talkers, this might be a decent option. But keep in mind those monthly charges add up, and it will still cost $720 for the year.

Unfortunately, Verizon doesn't offer a similar plan for seniors who want smartphones. So if you wanted to get your dad a smartphone and give your mom a feature phone, you'd probably subscribe to a family share plan where they'd share the unlimited voice minutes and text messaging, and your dad would get a chunk of data to use each month. This particular configuration at the lowest data tier would cost $120 a month. If both your parents have iPhones, the cost would be $130 a month if they shared 1GB of data. That's about $1,440 and $1,560, respectively, for the year.

Another option for your parents might be to go with a prepaid brand that uses Verizon's network. For example, Walmart's Straight Talk prepaid service allows you to choose phones that operate either on Verizon's network or AT&T's. It's a little tricky to know which phones will operate on AT&T and which on Verizon. On the Web site, you can type in your ZIP code, and it will display the phones available in that area. In theory, all the phones should then work where your parents live if they pop up on the page. But if you wanted to make sure you got a Verizon phone, a Straight Talk service representative told me on the phone that any phones with the letter "C" after them operate on Verizon's CDMA network. And devices with the letter "G" operate on AT&T's GSM network.


Since your parents were T-Mobile customers, there is also a chance their old phones could be used with Straight Talk, which means they don't need to buy new devices or even try to learn how to use a new device. In this case, the phones would operate on AT&T's network and if the phones are unlocked, you could just put the Straight Talk SIM in the device and it would work. But this will only work if there is AT&T coverage where they live and if the former T-Mobile devices are unlocked.

For a basic feature phone, Straight Talk offers service with 1,000 minutes of talk time and 30MB of data for $30 a month. If you want a smartphone, the Straight Talk service is a pretty good deal. It costs $45 a month and you get unlimited voice calls, texting, and data. (Note: Be careful of services that claim to offer "unlimited data." Typically, these plans do have a limit. In the case of Straight Talk, there is no limit listed in the service conditions, but the company says it doesn't allow "excessive" data usage. I've seen reports of some people getting notices when their data usage has been less than 1GB a month.) At $45 a month for two smartphones that is $1,080 for the year.

Straight Talk is offering the iPhone 5 and iPhone 4S through Walmart. But it only offers these devices in certain markets. As best I can tell from talking to representatives, it seems like most of those markets are in Florida. So if your parents are snow birds or live in Florida full time, they may be in luck.

At any rate, you will need to check to see if the Walmart Straight Talk iPhone is even available where your parents live. One other thing to keep in mind if you are considering a prepaid plan or pay-as-you-go service is that you will have to buy devices at full price. This may not be so bad if you're just buying cheap feature phones. But if you're buying smartphones, like the iPhone, it can be expensive paying for two devices at full price. But when you compare this to getting a subsidy with a higher monthly fee, buying the device at full price with a lower-cost plan usually works out to be a better deal.

The bottom line is that iPhones and really any smartphone are expensive devices to own. So unless your parents plan to use the features of these device, it's probably a waste of money. A less-expensive option for them would be to get a pay-as-you-go service on a basic feature phone and then buy a small tablet like the iPad Mini, the Nexus 7 Android tablet, or a Kindle Fire, which can be used on Wi-Fi networks for free. This way they can access the Internet and all kinds of apps, but they won't have to pay for the expensive data services associated with owning a smartphone.

I hope that advice was helpful.


Where can I get a Verizon-like data service at non-Verizon prices?

Dear Maggie,
I'm a longtime Verizon Wireless customer. I'm considering switching carriers to save money. I'm thinking that Boost Mobile, Metro PCS or T-Mobile might offer something better. I'm currently using an outdated HTC Thunderbolt. I can upgrade my device at any time with Big Red, but I don't want to lose my unlimited data. Is there any other company that can offer me a similar plan and service ($85 a month plan) as Verizon?


Dear Shaboss,
The short answer to your question is "yes." But there are a few caveats. When you give up Verizon Wireless, you are giving up a network and service you have been happy with. You can go to another carrier and get a less-expensive service, but you may have to make a few sacrifices depending on where you live and what other services are offered.

The three providers you mention in your question all offer unlimited 3G/4G wireless services at roughly the same price as what you pay now or for a bit less per month. But there are a few catches.

T-Mobile offers an unlimited everything plan for smartphones that includes unlimited data, voice, and text service for $89 a month. This is only $4 more a month than what you pay now. The service is very similar to Verizon's in terms of speed. While the service today is not 4G LTE, T-Mobile uses a technology called HSPA+ and in many areas the speeds are as fast as Verizon's network. And the data is truly unlimited. At this price point, T-Mobile does not throttle or slow down customers who hit a certain threshold of data usage. So if unlimited data at 4G speeds is what you're looking, T-Mobile offers the closest thing to Verizon.

Here's the catch. T-Mobile's nationwide network coverage is not nearly as comprehensive as Verizon's. Be sure that T-Mobile offers service where you live and work. But also be aware that when you travel outside major cities, your service may be more limited in certain areas than it was with Verizon.

Sprint Nextel also offers unlimited data service. You didn't mention it as an option in your question. But because you are considering Boost Mobile, which is owned by Sprint, I figured you should know what Sprint offers as well. Sprint's Everything Data plan comes with 450 voice minutes, plus unlimited data and texting service, and costs $80 a month. Sprint offers 3G and 4G LTE service, but its 4G LTE network is not as extensive as Verizon's. So unless you live an area with 4G LTE, you'll be stuck on Sprint's slower 3G service. In general, Sprint's coverage is also not as extensive as Verizon's service. So make sure you check regarding availability.

MetroPCS offers 4G LTE service in some cities, and it has a very attractive price tag of $60 a month for a service that offers unlimited data, voice, and text messaging. MetroPCS, which is currently in the process of being bought by T-Mobile, also claims that it doesn't slow or throttle customers who exceed a certain threshold of usage on their unlimited data plans. But the network coverage issues that plague T-Mobile when compared to Verizon are even a bigger issue for MetroPCS. MetroPCS is a small regional carrier. It operates in a lot of large cities, but its service is not everywhere. And so if you get this service, you need to be aware of this fact and make sure you have coverage where you most need it. Another thing to keep in mind is that MetroPCS doesn't own as much spectrum as Verizon does in markets where it operates 4G LTE, and so its 4G LTE network may not offer the same level of performance due to capacity constraints.

Boost Mobile is a prepaid brand owned by Sprint. It uses Sprint's 3G and 4G WiMax networks to deliver service. It does not use Sprint's LTE network. It also has a very attractive $55 a month price tag for its unlimited services. But I would warn you that the WiMax network does not have the performance or coverage that Verizon's 4G LTE network has. So that may be a concern for you as well. Virgin Mobile is another Sprint-branded prepaid service. You may want to consider this service too. It offers an unlimited data service for $35 a month. While it calls its data service "unlimited," it's really capped at 2.5GB per month. Also, this service will have many of the same coverage and speed issues that Boost has since it also uses Sprint's 3G and 4G WiMax networks.

If I were to recommend one of these three services for you, I'd probably recommend T-Mobile because it offers the widest network with the highest network speeds.

You may also want to consider some other prepaid services that use Verizon's network. For example, a company called Page Plus Cellular uses Verizon's 3G network. But it offers its prepaid service plans at a fraction of the price Verizon charges. And as I mentioned in the previous answer, prepaid brand Straight Talk, which is sold through Walmart Web sites and retail locations, also sells devices that operate on Verizon's network.

The main drawback to using a Verizon reseller is that you will only get access to Verizon's 3G network. So if you want a device that uses the 4G LTE network, you won't get those speeds on these services.

Depending on where you live, there may be other regional carriers or prepaid providers you may want to consider. For example, C Spire operates in the Southeastern U.S., and it offers many of the hottest new phones as well as service that's typically less than what Verizon or AT&T offer. But make sure it operates in the places where you live and work.

I hope this advice was helpful. Good luck!

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Is Your Cell Phone Giving Away Your Secrets? by WXPNEWS

Mobile phones have given us more freedom; we no longer have to stay close by a fixed landline when waiting for an important call. They've also given many people a sense of greater security; if your car breaks down or someone seems to be following you, you can call for help. But there's another, darker side to the security issue. Whether you have a fancy smart phone that's really a full-fledged hand-held computer or just the cheapie model that your cell phone carriers provides at no extra charge, the cell phone that you take with you everywhere you go could be posing a threat to your privacy. This YouTube video titled Tapping Your Cell Phone shows how a savvy attacker can use your phone to harass you - even after you change your number, track where you are at any time, or even listen in on what you're doing when you aren't even on the phone.

Most people know that cell phone calls are really radio transmissions, and since they go out over the airwaves, they can be intercepted. Several years back, it wasn't uncommon for people with old style police scanners to pick up conversations that were occurring on analog phones in the 824.040 to 848.970 MHz range. It's now illegal to sell scanners that pick up cellular frequencies but many people still have them from the days when they were legal, and you can buy them now in many other countries.

Luckily, intercepting digital phone signals is more difficult. However, there are software packages you can buy that will let you listen in on mobile phones that have Bluetooth enabled (you can also use it to read text messages), and the software doesn't have to be installed on the phone that's being spied on. These programs are marketed as tools to check up on your children's behavior, catch cheating spouses, find out if employees are misbehaving on the job, and so forth. Of course, they can be bought and used by anyone to spy on anyone else for any reason. And a really motivated eavesdropper who's willing to invest in a few thousand dollars' worth of equipment may be able to break GSM (GPRS/Edge) algorithms and reconstruct conversations.

What about the sensitive data you carry with you on your phone? Many of us have contacts, email, and even documents stored on our phones. With many sophisticated smart phones, you can encrypt both the data stored in the phone's internal memory and data on the flash card you have inserted in the phone. If you have a Windows Mobile device that you use to connect to an Exchange 2007 Server, you (or your Exchange administrator) can send a command to the phone that will perform a remote wipe (delete all Exchange information stored on it). The 3G version of the iPhone also supports this feature. This comes in handy if your phone is lost or stolen. Some phones can also be set to automatically wipe the local data if the incorrect password is entered a certain number of times.

Speaking of password protection, do you habitually lock your phone when you aren't using it? If so, do you think that will prevent someone else from being able to use it? Keep in mind that most phones allow incoming calls to be answered even when the phone is locked. Once upon a time, IT departments routinely used callback to verify the identity of users, but that can't be relied upon now that mobile phones are in the picture.

Another important thing to remember is that your smart phone works much like a desktop PC in many ways. One of those is the fact that deleting a file may not truly erase that data at all, but just remove the markers so that area in storage is available to be written to. Until new data is written over it, it's still possible for someone with the right software to retrieve the \"deleted\" data.

Perhaps the scariest part of the video referenced at the beginning of this article is the idea that someone can activate the microphone on your cell phone from a distant location and listen to whatever you and those around you are saying - even though there is no active phone connection. And anyone who has watched modern thriller movies is probably aware that the GPS signals built into many cell phones can be tracked to show your every move. In fact, that technology is marketed to parents, to keep up with their children; the software can be installed on many RIM Blackberry phones, Windows Mobile phones, Android phones and others. You may also have to pay a monthly fee for the tracking service.

The only reliable way to be sure your GPS can't be tracked or your microphone can't be activated is to deactivate the phone completely. Some smart phones have a button to turn the screen off, but the phone itself stays on. Windows Mobile, for instance, isn't designed to be shut down completely. If you press the \"on/off\" button, you turn the display on or off. If you hold it in for a longer time, the phone merely reboots. Turning on \"Flight Mode\" will turn off the phone's radios (cellular, wi-fi and Bluetooth). Or if you want to be absolutely sure you're safe, remove the battery (assuming your phone has a user-removable battery).

Of course, many people leave their phones turned on and charging overnight. This provides an opportunity for attackers to exploit the vulnerabilities of an active phone; all they need to know is your mobile phone number, which you might have printed on your business card or even listed in your Facebook profile. Here's a demonstration of how it can be done:

Is Your Cell Phone Spying On You?

Your Cell Phone: Every breath you take, Every move you make, Every bond you break, Every step you take (I'll be watching you (sting)). “Consumers need to know that their safety and privacy are being protected by the companies they trust with their sensitive information,” Franken said. “The revelation that the locations and other sensitive data of millions of Americans are being secretly recorded and possibly transmitted is deeply troubling." Read More - Click Here!

Latest iOS 10 Update is Bricking iPhones and iPads

Don't press that update button quite yet.

According to multiple reports on Twitter from iOS users -- including CNET's Shara Tibken -- the update process stalls at the end, followed by a prompt asking the user to connect to iTunes in order to complete the update.

Apple has acknowledged the issue, providing ZDNet with the following comment:

"We experienced a brief issue with the software update process, affecting a small number of users during the first hour of availability. The problem was quickly resolved and we apologize to those customers. Anyone who was affected should connect to iTunes to complete the update or contact AppleCare for help."

Even with the issue now corrected, it still might be a wise move to wait a day or two until the dust settles and all of the bugs are worked out.

Searching Twitter for "iOS 10 brick" (brick is a common term used to label an electronic device that's rendered unusable) returns a long list of photos and results of various iOS devices, ranging from iPads to iPhones, with the iTunes logo and a USB cable on the screen.

Lower Your Cell Phone Data Bill Five Ways

Data plans for smartphones are not what they used to be. As more consumers operate apps, games and videos from their iPhones, Androids and other handheld devices, cellular carriers are raising data prices and at times restricting what heavy users can do on their networks.

In January, AT&T ended its $15-per-month 200MB data plan, leaving T-Mobile alone among the four major U.S. carriers (which also include Verizon and Sprint) that has a data deal that will cost you less than 20 bucks each month. But even the 200MB “Simple” plan offered by T-Mobile for $10-per-month only provides about one-third of the data consumed by the average 24-to-35-year-old cellular customer, according to Nielsen.

So larger data plans and overage fees will force many moderate users to pay between $20 and $50-per-month (note that there are still cheaper plans for less data-heavy feature phones). Even some heavier users grandfathered into unlimited data plans are seeing slower connections after consuming 2GB of data in a month through a practice called throttling.

So whether you are a data hog or newer smartphone user just getting a feel for your device, here are five simple steps to keep your cellular consumption down and data bills low.

Read More = Click Here!

Man Falls to His Death From Cliff While Checking His Gadget


Sunset Cliffs in San Diego. (Photo: Tours Departing Daily/Flickr) 

A man in his thirties fell 60 feet to his death at Sunset Cliffs in San Diego on Christmas Day while apparently looking at his electronic device as he walked.

“Witnesses stated seeing someone distracted by an electronic device and he just fell over the edge,” San Diego Lifeguard Bill Bender told NBC San Diego. “(He) wasn’t watching where he was walking, he was looking down at the device in his hands.

The device wasn’t recovered and people at the scene weren’t sure whether it was the man’s cell phone or camera. Sunset Cliffs is a popular spot for photographers.

After the man fell, three Good Samaritans descended the rocks to try to save him, and they attempted CPR. One of the rescuers, a 13-year-old named Thor Wilink, told NBC San Diego he heard someone screaming, “Help, please God, save me.”

However, the man was pronounced dead at the scene. Bender cautioned others who walk near the cliffs to be aware of their surroundings. “Just like driving and using a cell phone, you don’t want to be walking and using a cell phone or be distracted or anything,” he told NBC.

Mobile B2B Essential

Marketing techniques have changed immensely over the past decade, with developing technologies as well as developing markets acting as the primary catalysts for change. Within those evolving structures, the role of Mobile devices in B2B Marketing has grown from a primitive, SMS–based operation to a multi-device strategy that is helping Businesses to engage their audiences, quite literally, everywhere they go.Why Mobile Is Important For B2B Marketing image untitleddfsWhy Mobile Is Important For B2B Marketing

According to a recent report on the behaviour of IT buyers conducted by IDG, 61% of B2B users will watch mobile videos relating to their work, while 57% will access work-related mobile content outside of business hours. These figures show us the huge number of opportunities that mobile devices offer B2B marketers, both inside and outside of the working time-zone. But what is it that makes mobile such an opportune platform for B2B marketers? Here are a number of reasons why Mobile is important for B2B Marketing.

You can be everywhere your audience is, at any time

Just like consumers, B2B users access brands and businesses at various contact points through mobile technologies that are predominantly portable, somewhat nullifying the strengths of location-based services. While this may strike businesses as more of a con than a pro, mobile technologies ultimately make target audiences much more accessible. Portability means availability and although location-based services can help in targeting a specific demographic, mobile marketing allows Businesses to promote their ideas on a wider scale, in terms of both location and respective demographics.

Mobile Marketing is very much an extension of the Online Marketing process and the same principles of Online Marketing apply for Mobile in a B2B environment, with regards the influence of time. The barriers of time are pushed aside with Mobile Marketing, as it becomes possible for B2B users to access content at any time, adding to the overall accessibility of Mobile as a tool for B2B Marketing.


Content is a key weapon in the B2B marketing arsenal, but delivering the best possible content, in an appropriate format for mobile, to deliver results, is not always a simple task.

Understanding how B2B users relate to their devices and operate in a multi-screen environment is the first step in content creation for Mobile Marketing. While it is crucially important to acknowledge the operational specifications of Mobile devices and how they are used by the B2B audience, it is also vital that you don’t treat Mobile Marketing as a separate entity to the overall B2B Marketing process. Instead, when you set about creating your content, be sure to account for the many, many screens this content will be accessed through.

Ask yourself, does it relate to various audiences in various locations at various different times? Is it relevant and engaging to those various audiences? This might also mean considering the typical formats we use for our content: long detailed videos, heavy PDFs etc, and whether or not they lend themselves to various devices.

Differentiation… But not too much!

B2B markets are typically crowded with many businesses offering similar services. Naturally, getting ahead of the competition can be quite difficult. Mobile gives Businesses an alternative avenue through which to promote themselves and the services they offer. If approached with the right attitude and awareness, achieving stand-out brand recall can be easy.

Mobile, as a Marketing device, is growing, but it is very much an under-developed channel for B2B. This means Businesses can be innovative and original with their Mobile Marketing ideas without being apprehensive of what others are doing in the market. Mobile also provides opportunities in account servicing and the development of the mobile experience to augment events/conferences etc.

While Mobile Marketing offers Businesses another dimension through which to implement their B2B Marketing Strategy, it should not be treated as an alternative to other Digital Marketing channels such as Content Marketing and Social Media Marketing. Instead, Businesses should embrace Mobile and the continued growth of Mobile as a source of advertising revenue and incorporate it into their overall Marketing process to optimize their B2B relationships on all levels.

Mobile Vendors - Don't Get Caught In Their Slammin' Door

In other words, it’s becoming increasingly difficult—if not impossible—to differentiate a mobile device based on hardware. Even software is a two horse race with Apple and Google’s Android. On the Android side of the smartphone industry, the commoditization race is going to kill a few device makers. Read More - Click Here!

Phone Bill Cramming Costs you $2 billion A Year - Feds Investigate!

Unauthorized third-party charges on telephone bills cost consumers upwards of $2 billion per year, a recent Senate report found

The federal government should be doing more to protect consumers against the phone bill fraud known as cramming, the attorneys general from 17 states say.

"Consumers ... deserve action against the predatory and exploitative charges that drive up phone bills and impose burdensome costs in money, time and energy to correct," New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman said. "My colleagues and I strongly urge the FCC to adopt effective regulations that stop cramming, and provide consumers with relief."

Read More – Click Here!

Prepaid Smartphones Pros and Cons

While prepaid smartphones are not for everybody, the opportunity to purchase an iPhone or any other state-of-the-art device without a long-term carrier contract is an attractive value proposition for many consumers.

For the first time since its debut in 2007, the iPhone is now available with no contract via Leap Wireless and its Cricket cellular service provider. Beginning June 29, Virgin Mobile USA will also be marketing Apple’s iconic smartphone with flexible, month-to-month subscriptions. Expect other top-of-the-line smartphones to follow suit, meaning those turned off by limited device options in the past now have cause to reconsider a prepaid plan.

Before deciding whether a prepaid smartphone is the best option for you, consider these pros and cons first.

Reasons why a prepaid smartphone might be worth buying

Cheaper monthly plans: As is the case with other devices, the prepaid iPhone plans for Cricket and Virgin are substantially cheaper than what can be found with the larger carriers including AT&T, Verizon and Sprint (note that Virgin Mobile USA is a division of Sprint). On Cricket, for $55/month users can enjoy unlimited talking and texting. They also receive 2.3 gigabytes of data each month. If that data limit is exceeded, rather than paying more, Cricket reserves the right to slow down transmission speeds. Virgin will offer a few packages in that same range, including $50/month for unlimited talk and text (including 2.5GB of data before the potential of throttling). There is also a $40 option for 1,200 minutes and $30 option for 300 minutes.

Compare this to the major carriers, where the cheapest offer comes from AT&T with a $60/month plan that includes 450 minutes, a comparatively puny 300 megabytes of data and and no texting. Sprint’s “Unlimited Everything” plan goes for $70/month. Most other plans from Verizon and AT&T that include a reasonable mix of voice, texting and data are close to or exceed $100/month.

The monthly price differential between prepaid and major carrier packages for Android phones and BlackBerries are comparable. There are very few prepaid phones for Microsoft’s Windows mobile platform available on the market today.

Month-to-month flexibility: Arguably more significant than saving $10 to $50 per month on your cell phone bill is the fact that you don’t have to enter into a cumbersome, two-year commitment with your carrier. With prepaid options, you can choose to suspend your service at any point (if you’re going on vacation, for instance) and pick things up at a later time. Further, there is no early termination penalty if you choose to change carriers or want to discontinue your service.

No credit checks: If your credit score is below a certain level, the major carriers will make it difficult to sign-up for a long-term plan. Even if you are deemed eligible enough to pay them thousands of dollars over a two-year period of time, a poor credit rating may cause you to pay extra either at the onset of your contract or over time. With the prepaid option, you invest in the service upfront and don’t have to worry about credit checks or associated penalties.

The biggest hangups in purchasing a prepaid phone

Sticker shock: Because prepaid phones are not subsidized by the longer-term income a two-year contract provides, the purchase price for devices is significantly higher than what is typically offered by the major carriers. The 16GB iPhone 4S, for instance, can be purchased for $199 with a two-year plan. The same device from Cricket will run you $499, while Virgin is selling the iPhone 4S for $649. You will generally see comparable prices for prepaid Android smartphones and BlackBerries.

Data limitations: The more advanced smartphone you own, the more data you are likely to consume over a given month. According to research firm Analysis Mason, iPhone users on average go through about three times the amount of data as other smartphone owners. Android smartphones, particularly those manufactured by HTC, also generate significantly more data consumption than less advanced devices according to the report. The ability to play games, download and stream videos and constantly check-in with your Facebook friends throughout the day on these devices no doubt leads to higher data usage. While the prepaid plans don’t increase in price after a monthly data quota is hit, speeds slow down considerably, making it tough to enjoy many of the features that inspired you to purchase a smartphone in the first place.

Inferior networks: Cellular networks that specialize in pre-paid plans are typically not as robust as the four major networks. This is also true for smaller carriers that lease network space from the bigger networks at wholesale and then market discount services to consumers. Faster 4G connections that are available for many Androids and BlackBerries (and will likely come to iPhones later this year) are not in place on the smaller, regional networks. It is not realistic to expect a Cricket or Virgin to offer the same level of service as the big boys. This could become a bigger problem over time, particularly for heavier users. There is also no guarantee of nationwide coverage, so check your carrier’s coverage map before purchasing a phone. In fact, you can’t currently buy a prepaid iPhone from Cricket in Chicago and other major markets.

Read More - Click Here!

Root Kit Hidden In Millions of Cell Homes

The rootkit belongs to a company called Carrier IQ and it seems that it has low-level access to the system that allows it to spy on pretty much everything that you do with your handset. This, on the face of it, seems like an extremely serious breach of security, privacy and trust.

Read More - Click Here!

Samsung Galaxy S3 15 Hidden Features


(Josh Smith @ GottaBeMobile) The Samsung Galaxy S3 is packed full of hidden features that deliver a premium experience.

Some of the best Galaxy S3 features are hidden in menus and settings, and this guide will show you how to get more out of the Galaxy S3 without the need to spend any money on apps or accessories.

For users who do need to do more, we have a great list of Galaxy S3 accessories that extends the usefulness of the popular smartphone.

Read: Samsung Galaxy S3 Review

Here are 15 of the lesser known Samsung Galaxy S3 features we found while using the popular iPhone 5 competitor for the last several months.

Starter Mode

The Samsung Galaxy features a handy starter mode that lets first time smartphone owners use a simpler interface without giving up the benefits of apps and smartphone access to information. With the Starter mode turned on, users can access smartphone settings and commonly used features right from the home screen.


Make the Galaxy S3 easier for a first time smartphone owner.

Make the Galaxy S3 easier for a first time smartphone owner.


To turn on Starter mode on the Galaxy S3, Go to Settings -> Home screen mode -> Choose Starter mode -> Tap Apply.

Keep the Galaxy S3 Display On

The Samsung Galaxy S3 can sense when you are looking at it and keep the display active even if you aren’t touching it. This is great when looking at long items, sharing photos or just keeping the screen active when you don’t need to touch it.




To turn on Smart Stay go to Settings -> Display – Smart stay. The Galaxy S3 will show a small icon on the screen when it detects your eyes and will keep the display active.

Fast Camera Access

If you need to get the camera up and ready to take a photo as fast as possible you can turn on a setting that lets you open the camera by holding the screen with a finger and rotating the Galaxy S3.


Launch the camera fast.

Launch the camera fast.


To do this, Go to Settings -> Lock screen -> lock screen options -> Camera quick access. Now, when the lock screen is on, tap and hold ont eh screen and rotate from portrait to landscape mode to launch the camera.

Double Tap to the Top

If you are sick of scrolling to the top of the built in mail and messages apps or other lists on the Galaxy S3, turn on double tap to top. This handy feature senses two taps on the top of the Galaxy S3 and it will jump to the top. This is similar to how iPhone users can tap on the clock to jump to the top of a list.




To turn this on, go to Settings -> Motion -> Double tap to top. Unfortunately the feature will not work in all apps, even the stock Samsung browser. Hopefully Samsung expands this nice hidden Galaxy S3 feature in the future.

Call from Text Message

Users who find themselves constantly calling contacts from the messages app or from the contacts app should turn on the Direct call feature. With Direct call enabled, you simply pick up the phone to your ear while a text or contact is on the display and the Galaxy S3 will make a call.




Turn Direct call on by going to Settings -> Motion -> Direct call.

Lock Screen Facebook

The Galaxy S3 doesn’t support lock screen widgets like the Nexus 4, but it does let users put a Facebook ticker on the lock screen to keep up with the latest status updates.

Users can also choose to see news or stock alerts on the lock screen with this setting.


See facebook status updates on the Galaxy S3 home screen.

See facebook status updates on the Galaxy S3 home screen.


To turn this hidden Galaxy S3 feature on, go to Settings -> Lock screen options -> Information ticker. Users can then tap on the line to pick which ticker they want.

Power Saving Mode

If you need better Galaxy S3 battery life, Samsung includes a Power saving mode which can automatically control settings to help the Galaxy S3 battery last longer.

Read: How to Get Better Galaxy S3 Battery Life

By turning on this setting, the Galaxy S3 automatically limits the processor, screen power level background color and turns off haptic feedback. Together all of these will help the battery last longer without buying the Galaxy S3 extended battery.

Go to Settings -> Power saving mode -> Toggle on. Users can pick which power saving options they want to use.

Hold Menu for Google Now

The Samsung Galaxy S3 includes Google Now, the Android equivalent to Siri that can do much more than Apple’s personal assistant. Hold the Menu button on the Galaxy S3 for a second and it will launch Google Now.




From here, you can see cards of important information about weather, traffic, your sports teams and much, much more.

Avoid Data Overages

Limited data plans can cause big fees for data overages, but the Galaxy S3 features a data monitor that tracks the data you use and can set a data alert limit and a data cutoff limit. The phone may be slightly off from a carrier’s official count, but it’s a good way to easily keep data usage under control.


Avoid data overage fees on the Samsung Galaxy S3.

Avoid data overage fees on the Samsung Galaxy S3.


Go to Settings -> Data usage -> check Limit mobile data usage and Alert me about data usage. Then drag the sliders to set limits int eh bottom part of the screen.

Hold Home For Running Apps

If you want to switch between your recently used apps on the Galaxy S3, hold the physical home button for about a second and a list will appear. Tap on one of the apps to switch to it. Swipe to the right on an app to kill it.


Check the currently running apps on the Samsung Galaxy S3.

Check the currently running apps on the Samsung Galaxy S3.


This feature is on by default and is a handy way to toggle between apps.

Show Battery Percentage

Some users prefer to see the Samsung Galaxy S3 battery life percentage instead of a hard to decipher battery icon. This setting puts the percentage and the icon in the notification bar for fast and precise access.


Watch the Galaxy S3 battery percentage on notification panel.

Watch the Galaxy S3 battery percentage on notification panel.


Open Settings -> Display -> Display battery percentage -> toggle on.

End Calls with the Power Button

Users who prefer to quickly end calls will like the option to end a call with the power button. This mode lets you tap the power button on the right side of the phone to end a call without turning the screen off.

To turn this on, go to Settings -> Accessibility -> The power button ends calls -> toggle on.

Wake with your voice

Another really cool feature is the ability to unlock the Galaxy S3 or perform other commands with your voice. While on the lock screen users can pick from several customizable commands that can unlock the Galaxy S3.




Go to Settings -> Lock screen -> lock screen options ->Wake up in lock screen. Next tap on Set wake up command and customize the commands and the actions.

You can set it up to open the camera, unlock the phone, check your schedule and more.

Share Files with a Tap

The Samsung Galaxy S3 features NFC and support for S-Beam, a cool feature that lets users tap two Samsung devices back to back and share files instantly We’ve used this to quickly share a movie from the Galaxy Note 2 to the Galaxy S3 without any pairing  or emailing.




Go to Settings -> More Settings -> Turn on NFC and S-Beam. Next open up a photo or a video in the gallery and then tap the Galaxy S3 to another Galaxy S3 or Galaxy Note 2 and tap to send. The file will share wirelessly between the two devices.

Turn Over to Mute Calls

The Samsung Galaxy S3 also allows users to turn the phone over to mute a call or to pause music. This is a great way to stop a vibrating phone while in a meeting or to just ignore the 5th sales pitch of the day.




To set this up got to Settings -> Motion -> Turn over to mute/pause. Once this is on, turning the phone over will stop the ringer and vibration, but won’t end the call so the caller won’t know you’ve muted them. You can also respond with a text message after doing this.

Read More - Click Here!

Scam List Topped By Mobile Threats During Holiday Season

Malware targeting Android-powered mobile devices and Apple computers top a list scams and security threats the people need to guard against this holiday shopping season:

Read More – Click Here!

Security: Don't enter Cell Phone Numbers On Websites

A recent reader experience: "I used my cell phone number when playing a game on the internet (Facebook) and typed in my cell number to get game results texted to me. However, when signing up for the game,  I was not pre-warned that a monthly charge of $9.99 would apply to this particular instance, and being a newbie to my cell phone (and not a texting person) when I got my text message I didn't read anything past the results and was shocked with a charge on my bill that I didn't understand how it got there until I asked my cell phone carrier what Premium Texting was. Boy did I feel duped! I have now learned what it is all about and have put a block on my phone to this type of thing, but am still very annoyed that my phone company allows this type of rip off to me, the consumer.

Don't find out the hard way like I did. Never enter your cell number on the internet and always read the fine print!"

Carol Adds: "There are some other ones out there that if you order things on line they charge you a simple 2 or 3 dollars and in the fine print they also say they are giving you something free and hit you with a $72 first time fee and $24 every month after that. There are several account of this on the internet. Just type in A1 Member and you will see the complaints and how to get some of the refund back."

Kim Adds: "FYI. I use FB and for each of these types of functions, clearly stated in a short, but explicit paragraph, BEFORE one goes to the area to enter his/her cell phone information, (which is required to obtain the results to stupid quizzes such as IQ tests, etc. is the fact that there will be a $9.99 monthly charge. Clearly, people need to read before they click! It was not a rip off, nor was the person duped, as they allege. The statements are clearly there, in readable print (without having to squint or use a magnifying glass) and putting a block on a cell phone for "this type of thing" does not preclude charges that are legal based on customer consent, whether they were too stupid to read the terms and conditions or not. I worked in telecom regulatory law & government affairs for 17 years and learned early on that there were two things that we would never be able to regulate: customer laziness and customer stupidity"

Security: Malls Tracking Shoppers With Cell Phones

But mall officials say shoppers have nothing to worry about. In a statement, the owners of the Richmond mall, Forest City Commercial Management, said all shoppers will be anonymous and have nothing to worry about in terms of privacy. But I don't trust them, Do You?

Read More - Click Here!


Send Text Messages from your Computer Via Email

It’s easy! All you do is enter the 10 digit phone number, then @, then the cell carrier's website. Example, if the number you wanted to send a text message to was 843-555-5555 and the cell carrier is Verizon Wireless, send the email to . Just make sure you keep the message to 40 characters or less.

If you happen to use yahoo mail, adding a 1 in front of the ten digit phone number will rout the email to the desired carier without entering the network extension. Simply address the email to 18435555555.

Outlook has fields for multiple phone numbers. That means that you can load outlook with the ten digit mobile number and the extension, and pick the mobile number from Contacts to send a text message.

Outlook Express will only display the primary number when you click "To". Therefore you need two contacts, one with the regular email address and the other with the ten digit mobile phone number plus the carriers network address.

US & Canadian Carriers

3 River Wireless

ACS Wireless



Bell Canada

Bell Canada

Bell Mobility (Canada)

Bell Mobility

Blue Sky Frog

Bluegrass Cellular

Boost Mobile

BPL Mobile

Carolina West Wireless

Cellular One

Cellular South

Centennial Wireless


Cingular (Now AT&T)



Corr Wireless Communications


Edge Wireless


Golden Telecom


Houston Cellular

Idea Cellular

Illinois Valley Cellular

Inland Cellular Telephone



Metrocall 2-way

Metro PCS


Midwest Wireless






President's Choice

Public Service Cellular


Rogers AT&T Wireless

Rogers Canada


Southwestern Bell



Surewest Communicaitons






US Cellular

Solo Mobile



Surewest Communicaitons





US Cellular

US West


Virgin Mobile

Virgin Mobile Canada

West Central Wireless

Western Wireless


International Carriers

Chennai RPG Cellular

Chennai Skycell / Airtel


Delhi Aritel

Delhi Hutch

DT T-Mobile

Dutchtone / Orange-NL



German T-Mobile

Goa BPLMobil

Golden Telecom

Gujarat Celforce

JSM Tele-Page

Kerala Escotel

Kolkata Airtel


Lauttamus Communication


Maharashtra BPL Mobile

Maharashtra Idea Cellular

Manitoba Telecom Systems





Mobility Bermuda

Mobistar Belgium

Mobitel Tanzania

Mobtel Srbija


Mumbai BPL Mobile





O2 (M-mail)

One Connect Austria


Optus Mobile


Orange Mumbai

Orange NL / Dutchtone


P&T Luxembourg

Personal Communication

Pondicherry BPL Mobile



Satelindo GSM


SFR France

Simple Freedom

Smart Telecom

Southern LINC

Sunrise Mobile

Sunrise Mobile

Surewest Communications


T-Mobile Austria

T-Mobile Germany

T-Mobile UK

Tamil Nadu BPL Mobile

Tele2 Latvia

Telefonica Movistar



Telia Denmark


TSR Wireless



Uttar Pradesh Escotel


Vodafone Italy

Vodafone Japan

Vodafone Japan

Vodafone Japan

Vodafone UK



Old US & Canadian Carriers (Most Not In Use)

Advantage Communications

Airtouch Pagers


Ameritech Paging

American Messaging

Ameritech Clearpath

Arch Pagers (PageNet)


AT&T Free2Go


AT&T Pocketnet PCS


Bell Atlantic

Bell South

Bell South (Blackberry)

Bell South Mobility

Cellular One (East Coast)

Cellular One (South West)

Cellular One

Cellular One

Cellular One

Cellular One

Cellular One (West)

Central Vermont Communications


Communication Specialists

Cook Paging

Corr Wireless Communications

Digi-Page / Page Kansas

Galaxy Corporation

GCS Paging

GrayLink / Porta-Phone




Infopage Systems

Indiana Paging Co



Mobilecom PA

Morris Wireless




Pacific Bell


PageMart Canada

PageNet Canada

PageOne Northwest



Price Communications




RAM Page

SBC Ameritech Paging

Skytel Pagers

ST Paging

Verizon Pagers

Verizon PCS


WebLink Wireless


WebLink Wireless

West Central Wireless

Set Your Smartphone Up Into An Internet Tethering Device

Internet tethering allows you to use your smartphone and transform it into a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot. Depending on the phone you are using and its available technologies, you should have an Internet connection anywhere with ease. Here are some steps on how to turn your smartphone into an internet hotspot.

For Android Users

1. You should go to “Settings” on your Android phone first. Select “More” then “Wireless & networks” then “Tethering & portable hotspot”. The menu names may change depending on the phone, model and brand, but you can access the wireless settings until you reach the hotspot section.

2. You will find various internet tethering options. You can also add a password or encryption especially when you are activating the Wi-Fi hotspot in a public area to avoid others from leeching. The Network SSID will default to AndroidAP. You can, however, change it too and add a password for more security.

3. Once the network is set up, you may begin using the internet or enter your other devices in the network.

For iOS Users

1. Go to “Settings” then “Cellular”. Tap to turn the Personal Hotspot on. The Personal Hotspot will automatically turn off if you do not link any devices to it after several minutes.

2. If you are using iOS 7 or higher, you can monitor how much data is being used.


At times, you may not be allowed to tether on your tariff. You may switch to a different operator or tariff, which will let you use your smartphone as a Wi-Fi hotspot. You might be required a monthly fee to activate the capability. Be sure that the devices you enter into the network are 3G or 4G capable. You may be required to invest in a data-only SIM and pay extra fees to access.  The speed and coverage of your internet tethering device will also depend on the smartphone model and hotspot capabilities.

App Store does not offer any apps that bypass hotspot but you may opt to have your iPhone jail-broken so you can have more choices, as in the case of an Android smartphone.

Sharing Data with Mobile Device by Jack Wallen

Takeaway: When your users need help moving data from a phone or tablet to a PC, one of these approaches should do the trick.

Phones and tablets are starting to play a much bigger role in the world of IT. As this happens, users need easy, reliable ways to have their mobile devices interact and share with their PCs. Let’s take a look at five tips for making this data transfer a smooth and painless process.

1: Take advantage of Bluetooth

Most mobile devices offer the ability to easily share data via Bluetooth. Problem is, many computers do not offer Bluetooth compatibility. If you are one of the lucky ones, and your machine has Bluetooth connectivity, happy sharing. For those without the hardware, it is possible to purchase either a card or USB Bluetooth device (such as this IOGEAR Micro Adapter) that will allow you to share those files. This might well be the easiest method for sharing data between your mobile and your PC. For the Android platform, you will find Bluetooth options in Wireless and Network | Bluetooth settings. In that menu, you can tap Scan Devices to auto-discover any other Bluetooth devices to connect with.

2: Use SMB

Samba is the be-all, do-all for file sharing. And there are plenty of applications out there to enable your mobile to share data between your mobile device and a machine running Samba. One of my favorites is AndSMB. Any of these applications makes the process of sharing incredibly simple. The challenge lies in setting up Samba. Not that there are any special configuration options necessary for sharing with your mobile, but most users won’t know where to begin to set up an SMB shared directory. If you’re in that boat, it is always possible to contact your IT department to see if they can hook you up.

3: FTP it

A protocol that end users may find a bit easier to use is FTP. Anyone can download the FileZilla Server and install it on their PC. With that installed, a simple FTP client can be installed on the mobile and data easily shared between the two. A problem with this method might occur if the company has a policy against setting up your own personal FTP server — even if it is only for the sharing of files between mobile and PC. With the Android platform, you can turn the mobile device itself into an FTP server with apps like SwiFTP FTP Server.

4: Use Mass Media Storage

Some phones (especially Android) offer mass media storage when connected to USB. This means your phone simply acts as an external mass media device. When this option is available, all you have to do is plug your phone in, open up your file manager, and move files back and forth as you see fit. Unfortunately, some phones don’t offer this option. I have also noticed that if USB Debugging is turned on (Android), Mass Media Storage is not an option. So if you are having trouble getting your Android device recognized, make sure USB Debugging is turned off.

5: Try an SD card reader

Most Android phones have SD cards. You can pull those cards out, insert them into an SD card reader, insert the reader into a PC, and move files back and forth. This is a bit of a cumbersome method, because in most instances, the mobile device will have to be shut off and (in some cases) the battery removed to get to the card. But if this is the only method available to you, you’ll just have to grin and bear it. Chances are, however, one of the above methods will be much easier and less invasive to your device.

Built-in apps

There are also applications built into your provider’s Android platform that allow for sharing. Most of these applications share primarily multimedia files, so you’ll need another option for sharing documents and the like. But at least one of the previous methods will enable you to quickly and easily share files between your mobile device and your desktop or laptop.

Should we upgrade to the iPhone 7

(Mark Huffman @ ConsumerAffairs) Apple's introduction of the iPhone 7 last week didn't make much of a splash. Apple stock actually went down afterward.

Gone are the days when excitement surrounded the launch of a new smartphone and consumers would line up outside stores to buy them. Yes, the new phones are better than the old ones they replace, but the improvements have become incremental. The price has also gone up.

So now that the iPhone 7 will soon be available, a question a lot of consumers might be asking is whether it makes sense to upgrade, and if so, who has the best deal?

Crunching the numbers

Unfortunately, there's not a simple answer, but personal finance website WalletHub has crunched the numbers and has shed some light on the subject. The 32GB version of the iPhone 7 starts at $649, assuming you were to pay the full price upfront. However, most consumers take the option of paying a portion with each monthly bill.

WalletHub estimates keeping your old iPhone will save you money, and you don't really need a calculator to figure that out. But the savings might be more than you think. It says keeping your old phone and using the Walmart Family Mobile network can save more than $1,324 over a two-year period.

Consumers on a family plan can save up to $2,294 by keeping their old phones and getting coverage from RingPlus Mobile.

Okay, but suppose you've already decided you want to upgrade. Should you consider switching carriers to make it more affordable?

The best deals

According to WalletHub's calculations, consumers who want the new iPhone can save up to $1,074 by paying the full price of the phone upfront and signing up for a no-contract plan from RingPlus Mobile, rather than the same types of plans from T-Mobile and Verizon. Walmart comes closest with a cost of $1,579.

Only four carriers offer an installment plan on the iPhone. Of them, WalletHub says Sprint offers the best deal, at a cost of $1,757 over two years. AT&T comes closest, with a cost of just over $2,000.

After looking at the numbers, maybe you're rethinking your plan to purchase the iPhone 7 but are wondering how much you would save at your particular carrier if you just kept using your current phone. WalletHub has broken that down as well, showing that T-Mobile and Verizon provide the biggest savings over two years – $1,324.

Still not sure if upgrading makes sense, or are you entertaining the idea of switching to an Android phone? WalletHub developed this calculator to help you figure it out.

Small Offices shifting away from Landlines to SmartPhones

A new survey finds that small businesses are leaning towards smartphones over landline telephones to keep their workforces connected. Many consumers have been opting to pay only for cell phone plans over landline options for personal reasons for several years now. One would imagine that businesses must be the core customer base for landline telephone providers now, but even that is changing to some degree. Read More – Click Here!

Smart Phone Cameras - Effective Business Tools

SmartPhone cameras can easily become effective business tools, and this article will show you how…

SmartPhone cameras have really improved: SmartPhone camera resolution is getting higher. In fact, it is now common to find SmartPhone cameras with 5 and even 8 megapixels. Lens quality is better, and most SmartPhones even come with a flash. Of course, SmartPhones don’t even approach the quality of a digital SLR camera used for serious photography, but it does contend well with point ‘n’ shoot cameras, and even inexpensive camcorders.

But the big advantage of a SmartPhone is that it is always with you. As long as you carry your SmartPhone with you, you don’t have to worry about missing that photo op’ because you didn’t remember to bring your camera AND, you don’t have to juggle two things, just one. How easy is that!

So let’s put that SmartPhone Camera to work:

#1. Mini Copy Machine: You can use your SmartPhone camera as a mini copy machine to capture information on a printed or handwritten document. Some SmartPhone cameras have a “Text mode” setting to make it easier for you to photograph pages of text, graphics, and pictures.

#2. Mobile Video Conferencing: Several SmartPhones come with two cameras, one camera that faces the front for taking pictures of other people/things, and another that faces the back so that you can use your SmartPhone for video conferencing. How kool is that!

#3. Business Card Reader: Some SmartPhones, come with extra camera-related software preinstalled. Other SmartPhones work with apps that allows you to photograph a business card. The software, or App, extracts the information and puts it in your Contacts phonebook. My iPhone friend uses OcrtoolPro and my Droid friend uses Alchemy Clip. Of course, I’m a Windows Mobile guy and I use Business Card Reader (it also works on Blackberry).

 #4. Whiteboards and Charts: SmartPhones cameras are great for taking pictures of whiteboards, charts, and presentations like PowerPoint. Be sure to ask permission first. It is just the right thing to do.

#5.Field and On-The-Job pictures: If you’re in the field, you can take pictures of items relevant to the job and email them back to the office, which is much more efficient and accurate than trying to verbally relate the information to a client, or attempting remember the details whilst documenting the experience at a later time.

#6.Put Faces with Names: Ever forget the name of an important new business contact? Perhaps taking a picture of that person and inserting it into Contacts will eliminate that problem. Be sure to ask their permission first. I’ve found that if I tell them what I’m doing, they find it kool too and usually ask me to show them how it works.

#7. Aide to remembering Dates: Because digital photos carry a time/date stamp, taking event and meeting pictures can serve as a quick way to find out, weeks or months later, exactly when that meeting took place.

#8. Comparative Shopping Aide: When comparison shopping for big ticket items, snapping photos of tags showing model number, price, and specs can be useful for keeping that information straight later.

#9.Vehicle Location: Ok, I’m telling on myself. When traveling and using a rented vehicle, sometimes it is difficult to find them in a parking garage or lot. You can use your SmartPhone camera to quickly document its location, just in case you forget.

#10. Security: SmartPhones can be useful for documenting an auto accident scene or other incidents that could result in a civil or criminal investigation. SmartPhones can also be used to document suspicious persons or activities, but please be careful.

But don’t get too “snap happy” just because you have a SmartPhone camera that’s always available. Some folks value their privacy or just don’t like having their pictures taken. Although it is generally not against the law in the United States to take pictures of people in public places without their permission, use common sense. If you see “No photography” signs posted, keep the SmartPhone in your pocket. Remember the golden rule, ‘cause if you wouldn’t want your picture taken under those circumstances, chances are they don’t either.

SmartPhone Hugely Disruptive Impact

PhotoPhoto credit: Apple

(Mark Huffman @ ConsumerAffairs)

Let's go back in time, to a more primitive time, when life was simpler. Like 2007.

In 2007 you could still buy a house for no money down. The economy was headed toward the Great Recession but hadn't quite arrived.

And consumers carried “flip” cell phones that made voice calls and sent and received crude text messages.

In late June 2007 Apple's Steve Jobs introduced the first iPhone, setting in motion a disruptive force that since then has turned the world upside down.

Not just hype

“Every once in a while, a revolutionary product comes along that changes everything,” said the late Apple co-founder as he introduced the first iPhone.

This wasn't simply marketing hype. This actually turned out to be true. In 2007 almost no one carried what today we think of as a smartphone. Five years later nearly everyone did.

In 2007 Motorola, Blackberry, Nokia and Palm all made phones that had built-in keyboards and allowed users to send and receive data, technically falling into the category of smartphone. All were mostly mobile email devices, favored by business users.

The iPhone, and the Android devices that followed, went beyond email and allowed users to easily access the Internet through simple, easy-to-use apps. The devices also contained video and still cameras and could download and store hours of music.

Here today, gone tomorrow

In introducing the iPhone, Apple essentially made its iPod music player obsolete. But that was not the extent of the smartphone's disruption.

In 2006 the Flip camera appeared on the scene. It was a small, point-and-shoot video camera that didn't use tape, but digital files that could be transferred to a computer.

It was easy to carry, easy to use and proved to be such a popular product that tech giant Cisco Systems bought the company in 2009 for $590 million. But by 2010 smartphones all had video cameras with higher resolution, better optics – and didn't require you to carry a separate device.

In one of the fastest flame-outs in business history, Cisco pulled the plug on the Flip camera, just two years after buying the company.

In 2007 GPS navigational systems were popular after-market additions to cars. The devices sat on dashboards, providing turn-by-turn directions.

By 2010 consumers with smartphones didn't need to buy these separate navigational devices since they came as a standard app on their smartphone.

For decades if you wanted to save money, you went through the newspaper and clipped coupons. When coupon sites began springing up on the Internet, consumers found it easier to save.

With smartphones, a growing number of “daily deal” sites began offering coupons sent to consumers' mobile devices. Some even tapped into the users GPS and sent coupons for businesses near the user's current location.

Making Uber possible

These apps have had a disruptive impact of existing businesses, but perhaps none more disruptive than Uber. Uber is an app that matches people who need rides with drivers.

By downloading the Uber app and loading credit card information, consumers may summon a ride with the touch of a button. No actual money changes hands, the fare is charged to the user's credit card on file.

The taxi industry has geared up to fight the spread of Uber, which continues to expand into cities around the world. Though it has no physical assets, the company was recently valued at $18 billion.

Bionic pancreas

While the smartphone's disruptive effects have caused their share of economic pain, the device has also been at the center of purely positive developments. A medical engineer in Boston, whose teen-aged son has type 1 diabetes has developed a “bionic pancreas.”

At the heart of the device, which monitors blood sugar levels and delivers insulin as needed, is an iPhone app. The developers hope to win FDA approval and begin making the device available next year.

The growth of smartphones in the U.S. has been explosive. According to an October 2013 studysmartphone penetration had reached 74% of mobile phone users. It was a rise from 58% from a year earlier.

But perhaps more impressive that the growth of smartphones in such a short period of time is the radical change these devices have produced.

SmartPhone Malware Protection


Photo(Mark Huffman @ ConsumerAffairs) Security experts are constantly telling us that we should have some kind of software protection for our mobile devices. Hackers and scammers are increasingly targeting the mobile world because it's a huge and growing target and it's mostly unprotected.

Fortunately there's a wide range of security software and apps that can provide protection and peace of mind, usually for less than what you pay to protect your PC. Here are a few products to consider if you are concerned about the security of your mobile device.

BullGuard Mobile Security

BullGuard Mobile Security 10 runs on Android, Symbian, Blackberry and Windows Mobile phones. In addition to providing antivirus protection, BullGuard scans all your apps, filters spam, blocks malicious code and offers a SIM card lock.

When you open an online account you have the ability to back up your smartphone data as well as lock and wipe your phone remotely, should it be lost or stolen. With a remote wipe, all you have to do is go to your PC, access your remote wipe settings and wipe. The software will access your phone and return the device to its factory settings, erasing your personal information and data.

BullGuard Mobile Security 10 costs around $21 and, while it doesn't provide protection for the iPhone, another product – Lookout Premium – does.

Lookout Premium

It offers a robust antivirus protection, scans apps, filters annoying spam, is able to lock the SIM Card and blocks malicious code. If you misplace your phone you can activate an alarm that will help you located the device or see its location using GPS.

If you suspect it has been stolen you can wipe the data using your PC and erase the data saved on the device. It allows you to back up your data to a cloud-based account so you can restore it if the device turns up. Lookout Premium costs about $30.

McAfee Mobile Security

PhotoMcAfee is a familiar name in security software, having provided antivirus products for PCs for years. McAfee Mobile Security also provides real-time protection, scans files, downloads, apps and the SD card for dangerous content. An antivirus shield keeps spyware and phishing sites at bay.

The McAfee product offers unlimited cloud storage for your data, as well as videos and photographs. If a phone is lost or stolen, you can restore your data from your cloud account to a new phone.

Like other products McAfee Mobile Security allows you to lock and wipe the device, using your online account. The package costs around $30.

Norton Smartphone Security

Norton is another name from the PC security past. Norton Smartphone Security 5.0 offers antivirus, antispam and firewall protection. With the firewall, you can enable or limit access by setting the appropriate level of protection you want. This package can also reduce annoying spam in both text and multimedia formats.

Among its features, Norton Smartphone Security incorporates automatic scanning. When it detects a potentially infected file, it is placed in quarantine where it can do no harm. If your phone is lost or stolen, you can lock or wipe it by simply sending a text message to the phone with the correct command and password.

Businesses that allow their employees to use their personal smartphones to access the corporate network have a big concern. They have to ensure that an employee's tainted smartphone doesn't compromise the network.

Sophos Mobile Device Management

Sophos, an enterprise security software company, offers Mobile Device Management, which supports a number of platforms, lets companies manage and control mobile devices accessing the network – both company-owned devices and those owned by employees.

Using a web-based admin console, you can manage apps and control access to company resources such as email.

As smartphone have proliferated there has been a debate about the need for and effectiveness of mobile security apps. Lately, many experts are arguing they are well worth the investment.

Popular Mechanics recently suggested that skipping security software was high among "The 10 Worst Things You're Doing With Your Smartphone." The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) says fewer than one in 20 smartphones and tablets are equipped with security software and less than 50% of smartphone owners use password protection on their devices.

Smartphone Battery Drain a Common Problem

It turns out that the iPhone 4S isn't the only smartphone producing battery life complaints.Take the Motorola's new Droid Razr, using Google's Android operating system. The phone is viewed as a challenger to the iPhone 4S but also seems to have the 4S' battery life problem.

Read More - Click Here!

Smartphone technology of the future By Debra Littlejohn Shinder

Takeaway: Deb Shinder takes a look at a few features that are rare or not found at all in today’s phones that will likely be standard on the smartphones of the future.

Today’s smartphones are pretty amazing. When I first became an IT writer, in the 1990s, cell phones were simplistic devices that made phone calls (sometimes not very well). My first one was a bulky Motorola “bag phone.” The full tower desktop computer I was using at that time had a much slower processor and far less RAM and storage than the smartphone I carry in my pocket today.
We’ve come a long way, baby, in less than two decades — but there still are some exciting technologies on the horizon. In this post, I’d like to take a look at a few features that are rare or not found at all in today’s phones that will likely be standard on the smartphones of the future.
Near Field Communication (NFC)
NFC is a means by which you can transfer data wirelessly between two equipped devices. So, what’s special about that? Sure, we’ve been wirelessly transferring data for a long time, via Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and IrDA. NFC differs from those methods in a couple of important ways. First, the devices must be very close to one another (within a few inches) to exchange information. In addition, the data is protected by strong encryption, so that you can send sensitive data such as credit card information securely.
NFC could bring big changes to our lives, and it’s seen as the future of monetary exchange, which would free us from carrying around cash, credit cards, or even traditional ID cards. All of that would be stored on your phone, and you could make payments or provide your credentials by simply holding your phone close to an NFC reader.
There are obvious security and privacy issues to be addressed, but there’s little doubt the smartphones of the future will all support NFC. It’s already in (or expected to be in) several phones that are on the market or will be released before the end of this year, such as the Google Nexus S, the Samsung Galaxy S II, BlackBerry Bold 9900 series, and the Nokia C7. NFC is rumored to be coming in either the iPhone 5 or iPhone 6, although it was left out of the iPhone 4S. A recent announcement also confirmed that Windows phones will get NFC in 2012.
There’s little doubt that in the next few years, NFC will be a “must have” feature in high-end smartphones and eventually in low-priced so-called feature phones.
Augmented Reality (AR)

Another technology that’s already available but not yet in widespread use is Augmented Reality (AR). The idea behind AR is to combine a live view of an object or environment with real-time data generated by a computing device (in this case, a smartphone). The computer data is generally viewed as an overlay to the live view (which is usually input by the smartphone’s camera lens) to enhance what we see in the “real world.”
Here’s an example: You point your phone at an office building, and the information overlay tells you the name of the building, who owns it, company or companies occupying it, its current property tax valuation, maybe even whether companies in the building are hiring.
Another form of augmented reality would work like this: point the phone’s camera at an object, and the display will show you its dimensions (height, width, etc.). Or how about this: You point your phone at a stranger on the street, and your phone searches the databases of social networks, such as Facebook and Google+, and brings you back the person’s name and whatever personal information he/she has made public on those sites.
There are obvious privacy issues involved, as well as technological ones (for instance, the limited accuracy of GPS and current facial recognition software). However, there are already smartphone apps available that can do some of these things, and you can bet we’ll see more applications like this — in increasingly sophisticated ways — in future phones.
Form factors of the future
In addition to the exciting new features and functionalities that we can expect to come down the pike, it’s likely that tomorrow’s smartphones will look a bit different from the ones we carry today. Think about the difference between the clunky DynaTAC 8000X that was introduced in the 1980s and today’s sleek designs. The trend in smartphones has been toward ever thinner devices with bigger screens — but as I asked in a previous article on smartphone form factors, how long can that go on? How much bigger can smartphone screens get before they turn into tablets? How much thinner can they become and still have room for the circuits, radios, and batteries that need to nestle inside?
One of the biggest annoyances for smartphone owners today is where/how to carry it. Thin as they’ve become, they still take up room in a pocket or bag, and we usually have to carry them in addition to a wallet, keys, and perhaps other essentials. One day, our phones might be the size of a credit card, so we can just slip them into our wallets with our other cards. But the more likely scenario is that we’ll ditch the wallets and carry only the phones, which will contain all that stuff we now put in our wallets (identification, credit cards, key fobs) in digital form (see NFC above).
What about those times when we don’t have a pocket, though? One possibility is to wear your phone on your wrist like a watch. The idea is as old as Dick Tracy, and it’s been tried several times over the years, without a huge amount of success. However, there are already a number of “smart watches” on the market running Android and other operating systems. Wristwatch phones may just be a matter of time.
Projecting into the future
While we’re waiting for the day when we’ll become human/phone cyborgs, there are other ways to solve the small screen problem. There have been attempts to create a smartphone that incorporates a projector, and although the idea didn’t catch fire, it opens up some interesting possibilities for the future. A phone that could project its display onto a larger surface could be smaller than today’s behemoths (think Droid Charge, Infuse, and the upcoming Galaxy Nexus) that must accommodate 4-inch plus screens. Projection technology can even be used to create a projected full-size keyboard for easier typing. Currently, that requires you to buy an accessory like the VKB Magic Cube and Celluon laser keyboard, but it could be built into the smartphones of the future.
One phone to rule them all
Finally, there’s a good chance that the smartphones of the near future will be, for many people, their only computers. Smartphone processors are getting faster, and they’re getting more memory and larger amounts of storage. Who’ll need a laptop or desktop when we have phones with quad core 3 GHz processors and 8 GB of RAM? What we will need is a way to easily hook that core computer up to peripherals: multiple larger monitors, full-sized physical keyboards and mice, terabyte-plus drives, printers, scanners, surround sound speakers, TVs, and so forth.
The Motorola Atrix has already shown us what that could do. It provides desktop and laptop docks, and that’s a great start, but I want more. I can envision the day when I have my super-slim credit card-sized phone that I can carry alone (with built-in projection technology if I want to increase the display size) or slip into a slot on my desktop dock, laptop dock, or even a tablet “shell” to give me more screen real estate without projecting. It would be a full-fledged computer in every sense of the word, with the ability to wirelessly connect to printers, external hard drives, and just about any other accessory that you can currently plug into a desktop computer via USB.
The ultimate smartphone

The ultimate smartphone would be a true bionic phone (not to be confused with the Motorola Droid). In the extreme manifestation, sensors would be implanted directly to your brain so you could make a call or tell the phone to perform other tasks simply by thinking them, and the display would appear in your field of vision without any physical screen.
Your smartphone would always be with you — no worries about losing it, having it stolen, or dropping it on the pavement. There would be no need for input devices, although you could output to printers or physical displays if you wanted to share the visuals with other people. Your phone would be so integrated with your brain that you wouldn’t even have to explicitly think to input some information. For example, I now have a fitness app where I enter all the foods that I eat each day. My bionic phone could detect from my brain activity that I’m eating a banana and automatically enter that into my daily nutrition log. I think we’re still a ways off from realizing that sci-fi scenario, but who’s to say it won’t happen someday?

Smartphone: Making Popcorn – Cooking Eggs

You can’t believe everything you see on YouTube. According to Snopes, Cell Phone Popcorn and Egg cooking is a hoax. Fun to watch but not true.

Still, microwave radiation travels from your cell phone (held next to your brain) to a microwave tower that may be 10+ miles away and back. THEY say they are safe, but THEY might be influenced by the millions of political lobby dollars spent by cell phone carriers.

Smartphones Need to Address the Business App Gap

(By Chris Marsh, Senior Analyst at Yankee Group

Employee-purchased smartphones are invading the workplace. Nearly one-quarter (23 percent) of employees plan to purchase a smartphone on their own for work purposes in the next 12 months, according to Yankee Group’s 2011 US Enterprise Mobility: Employee Survey, Wave 2. The survey also finds 60 percent of smartphones in the enterprise are being selected and purchased by employees rather than corporate IT buyers—and that percentage is growing.

Unfortunately, end-users who purchase smartphones for work purposes tend to find them wanting when it comes to providing true business productivity. As a result, many employees download mobile apps from consumer storefronts in an effort to increase their device’s work productivity. If device manufacturers and carriers want to entice employees to their wares, they must begin addressing this “business app gap.” Specifically, they need to rethink their device’s out-of-the-box business appeal and balance that with providing true business/productivity applications employees can download from their specific app stores.

When it comes to the devices employees choose to use for work, our employee survey finds Apple’s iPhone, Research In Motion’s (RIM’s) BlackBerry and Google’s Android are running neck and neck: 40-43 percent of employees are considering purchasing each brand. Each smartphone’s reputation attracts different types of business-minded buyers:

Android attracts younger employees. Most Android buyers are employees aged 18 to 34. They are less likely to have formal work leadership roles and less likely to have incomes over U.S.$50,000 than are buyers of BlackBerrys and Apple iPhones.

Apple also attracts younger employees. Like Android buyers, most iPhone buyers fall into the 18-34 age range, but iPhone buyers are more likely to have a leadership role at work.

BlackBerry attracts older employees. The BlackBerry employee buyer base skews toward formal leadership roles and higher incomes.

Top Types of Business Apps by Consumer App Store

Each of the three major smartphone OSs attracts certain types of developers and seeks to fulfill certain employee needs. A study of the most popular business apps downloaded from each platform’s online store reveals:

RIM users focus on productivity. RIM’s BlackBerry has long established an out-of-the-box experience that thoroughly addresses productivity and messaging-oriented collaboration. Apps in its BlackBerry App World tend to be mobile process-oriented and task-oriented.

Android users focus on information. Android smartphones have long established an out-of-the-box experience that involves collaboration via social media as well as entertainment and information. Android Market tends to have more free business-oriented apps, and while the most popular downloads are in the mobile process-oriented and task-oriented categories, information-oriented apps also rise to the top.

Apple users are heavily word- and task-oriented. Apple has also long established an out-of-the-box experience that involves collaboration via social media as well as entertainment and information. Apple’s App Store, therefore, tends to offer more word processing-oriented and task-oriented business apps.

Yankee Group surveys also find employees who buy Apple iPhones and use them for work purposes are more likely to consider their personal tools and technologies as productivity-enhancing. In fact, 51 percent believe their personal technologies are more advanced than their workplace technologies. Employees who buy Android smartphones and use them for work purposes are least likely to consider their personal apps and technologies as productivity-enhancing.


Some Dropped Cell Calls Not Always Your Carriers Falt

Scientists shed new sunlight on why calls are mysteriously cut off (and it isn't a dodgy network)

  • Solar storms on the sun's surface send energy surging through space

  • When they reach the earth they interfere with radio waves

  • This can lead to a loss of connection in technology such as mobile phones

(Stuart Woledge @ mailonline) Scientists have shed new light on one of the infuriating reasons why our mobile phones can be abruptly cut-off when we are midway through a sentence.

Instead of blaming our network provider for offering a shoddy service, it seems much of the problem might be due to the immense power generated by solar storms on the surface of the sun instead.

The storms - eruptions of hot gas - produce shock waves so powerful that they are sent shooting through space at millions of miles per hour.

Explosion: Solar flares erupting on the earth's surface send powerful shockwaves shooting through space

Explosion: Solar flares erupting on the earth's surface send powerful shockwaves shooting through space

According to the results of a joint study by Trinity College Dublin, University College London and the University of Hawaii, the energy causes electrons to create radio waves that eventually reach the earth's atmosphere.

These waves disrupt satellite and terrestrial communication systems on an almost daily basis, said University of Hawaii scientist Dr Jason Byrne, who contributed to the research that has made the link between radio waves and solar storms for the first time.



Dr Byrne told the Huffington Post: 'A direct link has now been made between solar storms and radio waves.

'If we can pinpoint the source, we can get a better idea of what caused the particles to come from the sun at a specific time, which allows us to possibly predict future storm arrivals at earth.'

Waves: The solar flares send energy shooting towards the earth, which interfere with communications

Waves: The solar flares send energy shooting towards the earth, which interfere with communications

Researchers used a combination of high-resolution photography from two spacecrafts with radio burst detections from antennas that were located in Ireland.

In doing so they were able pinpoint where exactly solar storms originated on the sun and their exact impact time on earth.

While it was already know that radio waves would peak due to solar activity, what cause the peaks and why was a mystery.

They now hope the breakthrough could prevent communications' disruptions, such as disconnected calls, radio blackout and signal-less GPS devices.

The largest disruption caused by a solar storm recorded in recent memory was when the Province of Quebec in Canada experienced a massive powercut in 1989.

Last week a burst of energy from a solar flare caused the Northern Lights to be seen across the Ireland sky.

Read more:

Study contradicts fears of cell phones distracting drivers

Photo(Truman Lewis @ ConsumerAffairs) We hear all the time about how disastrous distracted driving is, how using a cell phone behind the wheel is like driving drunk. Former Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood made it a major initiative and spent all kinds of time and money on studies and educational campaigns.

But now a study from Carnegie Mellon University and the London School of Economics and Political Science finds that talking on a phone while driving does not increase the risk of a crash. 

For the study, Carnegie Mellon's Saurabh Bhargava and the London School of Economics and Political Science's Vikram S. Pathania examined calling and crash data from 2002 to 2005, a period when most cell phone carriers offered pricing plans with free calls on weekdays after 9 p.m

No correlation

They compared data from mobile network operators and accident reports and found that there was no direct correlation between the number of phone calls made during a certain time period and the number of crashes during the same time.

"Using a cell phone while driving may be distracting, but it does not lead to higher crash risk in the setting we examined," said Bhargava, who is an assistant professor of social and decision sciences at CMU. "While our findings may strike many as counterintuitive, our results are precise enough to statistically call into question the effects typically found in the academic literature. Our study differs from most prior work in that it leverages a naturally occurring experiment in a real-world context."

Saurabh Bhargava

In the study, the researchers identified drivers as those whose cell phone calls were routed through multiple cellular towers. They first showed that drivers increased call volume by more than 7 percent at 9 p.m., when the calls became free. They then compared the relative crash rate before and after 9 p.m. using data on approximately 8 million crashes across nine states and all fatal crashes across the nation.

They found that the increased cell phone use by drivers at 9 p.m. had no corresponding effect on crash rates.

Additionally, the researchers analyzed the effects of legislation banning cell phone use, enacted in several states, and similarly found that the legislation had no effect on the crash rate.

Drivers may compensate

"One thought is that drivers may compensate for the distraction of cell phone use by selectively deciding when to make a call or consciously driving more carefully during a call," Bhargava said. "This is one of a few explanations that could explain why laboratory studies have shown different results.

"The implications for policymakers considering bans depend on what is actually driving this lack of an effect.  For example, if drivers do compensate for distraction, then penalizing cell phone use as a secondary rather than a primary offense could make sense," he said. "In the least, this study and others like it, suggest we should revisit the presumption that talking on a cell phone while driving is as dangerous as widely perceived."

Pathania, a fellow in the London School of Economics Managerial Economics and Strategy group, added a cautionary note: 

"Our study focused solely on talking on one's cell phone. We did not, for example, analyze the effects of texting or Internet browsing, which has become much more popular in recent years. It is certainly possible that these activities pose a real hazard."

Super Smart Phone Wish List

Don't get me wrong, I like my Windows Mobile Phone. However, there are some really kool things about the iPhone that makes we wish the two giants could get together to make one super-phone, and here is my wish list….

1: File Explorer

The first time I connected an iPhone to one of my computers, I decided to try copying a few files to the iPhone to see which file formats it would support. Having grown up with Windows, I expected the iPhone to have a feature similar to File Explorer (the Windows Mobile version of Windows Explorer) that would allow me to browse the device's file system. Much to my surprise, there is no such feature included with the iPhone. While you can definitely get by without this capability, not being able to browse the file system made me feel like a fish out of water.

2: Task Manager

Windows Mobile handles running applications a little bit differently than desktop versions of Windows do. When you close an application in Windows Mobile, you aren't really terminating the application. The next time you open the application, you pick back up where you left off. The only way to really terminate an application is by using the Task Manager.

The first time I used an iPhone, it felt really strange not to have a Task Manager (or an Apple equivalent). The iPhone has a single button you can press to return to the list of available applications. Some applications terminate when you press this button, but others do not. It would be nice to have a Task Manager-like utility built in that would display a list of open applications and that would allow you to close them.

3: iTunes interface

The primary utility for copying data to and from the iPhone is iTunes. I have to tell you that I am not exactly an iTunes fan. I would much prefer it if Windows treated the iPhone as an external storage device and allowed you to drag and drop files as you can with Windows Mobile devices.

4: Safari Web Browser

One great iPhone feature is its Web browser. The Safari Web browser that comes with the iPhone is far superior to the mobile version of Internet Explorer that is included with Windows Mobile. Granted, Microsoft made some much needed improvements to Internet Explorer in Windows Mobile 6.5, but it still doesn't render Web pages as well as the iPhone browser.

5: One-touch access to everything

Another thing I like about the iPhone is that you can launch applications with a single touch. This design feature goes a long way toward making the iPhone easy to use.

6: The App Store

The biggest thing that has contributed to the iPhone's success is arguably the number of applications that are available for it. Numerous applications are available for Windows Mobile too, but there are way more iPhone applications. With Windows Mobile having been around for as long as it has, I really wish that there were more applications for it.

7: The interface

Earlier, I said that I like the iPhone's single-touch access to applications. While I do like being able to launch applications so easily, the list of applications can become really cluttered as you start to accumulate a lot of them. It would be nice to at least have the option of grouping applications into folders without the aid of third-party software.

8: The operating system itself

In addition to the features I have already named, there are some other characteristics of the operating systems that I like. I like that Windows Mobile looks and feels like Windows. On the other hand, the iPhone's graphics engine is far superior to the one used by Windows Mobile. I have a friend, for example, who routinely plays first person shooters on his iPhone.

9: ActiveSync

For those who are not familiar with ActiveSync, it's a Microsoft feature designed to keep a Windows Mobile device connected to an Exchange Server mailbox. Although ActiveSync is a Microsoft feature, Apple has built its own version into the iPhone. As embarrassed as I am to say it, I have found it easier to connect an iPhone to an Exchange mailbox than to connect a Windows Mobile device.

10: The onscreen keyboard

Finally, if you must have an onscreen keyboard, iPhone onscreen keyboard rocks. Although Windows Mobile device supports touch screen, the onscreen keyboard is so small that I can't type on it without using a stylus. The iPhone's onscreen keyboard is much more practical

Tablet Best Buys Fall 2013

Apple iPad Air

(Kim Komando) Tablet sales are expected to reach all-time highs in the coming months. With tablets available from Apple, Google, Samsung, Amazon, Microsoft, Nokia and other manufacturers, how do you know what to buy?

Here are the features you need to know about before heading to the store.

Apple iPad

Apple has two new iPads available this holiday season. The iPad Air has the same 9.7-inch Retina display as previous models, but sports a slimmer aluminum case, a 2x faster processor and weighs in at just one pound.

The iPad Air's baby sister is the iPad mini with Retina display. It has the same processor as the Air, but in a smaller package and with a 7.9-inch Retina screen.

Retina is Apple's marketing term for its high-resolution displays. However, rival tablets like the Nexus 10 and the Kindle Fire HDX tablets have similar resolutions. The iPad mini's Retina display has a higher resolution than its competitors, but at that screen size you might not notice.

If you already own an Apple gadget and love it, the iPad is a natural choice. You'll be able to access your library of Apple apps, music, videos and books from the iTunes store.

The Air starts at $499 and the iPad mini starts at $399. For bargain hunters, Apple still sells the older iPad 2 and original iPad mini for $100 less. If possible, I would spend the extra $100 to get the Air or second-generation iPad mini - they'll last longer.

Click here for the ins and outs of the hardware and software of the new iPad models and how they stack up to previous versions.


Not everyone is an Apple fan, or wants to pay the iPad's price tag. That's why tablets running Google's Android operating system are gaining ground.

Google's Nexus 7 and 10 are popular options. They run Android smoothly, can access hundreds of thousands of apps, movies and music from Google Play, and cost $100 less than the equivalent iPad.

Android has some features that are missing from Apple's iOS 7, such as multi-user support. Several people can use the same tablet and keep their apps and media separate.

If you want an Android tablet that includes a cellular connection, take a look at the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 series.

Amazon Kindle Fire

Amazon is hoping to turn up the heat with its new Kindle Fire HDXs. These rival the iPad and other Android tablets in weight, speed and screen resolution. And they're competitively priced.

The Kindle runs a custom version of Android. The interface has a sliding "carousel" hub, so it's easy to find books, videos or apps from Amazon's marketplace. There's also multi-user support and family-friendly features like FreeTime, which lets parents control the amount of time kids spend using the gadget.

If you already have an Amazon Prime Account or buy Amazon music, books or movies, definitely consider a Kindle Fire.

Click here for the full details on the new Kindle Fire models and their standout features.


Microsoft just launched the Surface 2 running Windows RT 8.1 and Surface 2 Pro running Windows 8.1 Pro. Nokia has released the Lumia 2520 running Windows RT 8.1.

These have solid hardware and the keyboard covers are a nice touch, but I'd steer clear for now. Windows RT can't run regular Windows programs - although it does come with a special version of Office. And the Windows app store only has 100,000 apps compared to more than 1 million from Google and Apple.

If you really want a Windows-based tablet, get the Surface 2 Pro. It's more expensive than most tablets, but it's really a thin laptop. It runs the real version of Windows so you can use your programs.

For a more detailed comparison between the best tablets on the market, check out my handy tablet chart.

Low-cost tablets

Not everyone needs the latest and greatest tablet. If you're just testing the waters, there are low-cost options that offer decent quality.

Check out the Barnes & Noble Nook HD tablets. Thanks to recent price cuts, these are less than $150. Still, they'll be fine for light Internet, e-books, social media, email and even video.

Copyright 2013, WestStar Multimedia Entertainment. All rights reserved.

TerrorView App provides real-time information on terrorist threats



Photo via YouTube

(Sarah Young @ CnsumerAffairs) Following the Paris attacks, many people are wondering how they can protect themselves in an increasingly dangerous world. 'What threats are out there, and what can I do to stay safe?' are questions on everyone's minds. A new smartphone app called TerrorView wants to help users answer these questions.


Calling itself, “the app that you have always wanted but people didn't want you to have,” TerrorView grants users an unprecedented level of access to information previously only seen by government officials. The app uses proprietary technology and on-the-ground intelligence experts to gather and analyze data from over 100,000 sources. Terrorist, cyber, and biological threats can all be tracked through the app.

Knowledge is power

"Terrorism is on the top of everyone's mind every day, and it will be for generations to come," says founder Joshua Katz. "Sadly, there's a lot of misinformation out there. We built TerrorView to be the one place where people can go to get relevant information and a clear understanding of what's taking place and what you should – and shouldn't – be concerned about.”

Katz is a former CIA operative who believes that through awareness we can all be more prepared. He began developing TerrorView in 2014 when he became convinced that information about potential terrorist attacks wasn't being accurately or thoughtfully provided to the American public.

"Whether you're a business traveler or a parent who wants to know about disease outbreaks or terrorist threats near your child's school,” says Katz, “This app provides trustworthy and potentially life-saving information to people who don't have the time or the know-how to find it themselves. TerrorViewcan literally make the difference between life and death."

How it works

The app works by scanning information and “chatter” found in thousands of public places. Threat information can be tracked via Latest News list or map overview. Click on any one of the pins scattered throughout the map, and you will see threats in that area. Tap a pin in Texas, for instance, and you might be shown information like, “ISIS recruiting teens in North Texas” or “Five More Syrians Stopped at Texas Border.”

By helping users be better informed and prepared, TerrorView promises to lessen the fear users experience even in their daily routines.

The app is free, but upgrading through an in-app-purchase of $4.99 a year provides the user with full access to information, analysis, and recommendations.

Text Message - Cheaper Ways Are Coming 10/17/2011

Cheaper Ways To Text Are Coming

PhotoSending text messages is old-fashioned, expensive and very, very popular. Those three ingredients are combining to produce cheaper – even free – ways to do it.

On Wednesday Apple plans to roll out iMessage, a cross between texting and instant messaging. There are several other apps that provide much the same service. TextPlus, for example, has offered a texting app since early 2010.

Read More-Click Here!

Texting Sensitive Business Information is inherently Risky

(Mark Huffman @ ConsumerAffair) It's not just teenagers who spend their days texting. Sending short text messages over a mobile device has become the preferred way to communicate, even at work.

Texting is also being pushed on businesses, with the argument that it's the most effective way to communicate with customers and employees.

Maybe sending general marketing information to customers via text is something to consider, but TeleMessage, which provides secure messaging systems for businesses, warns that transmitting sensitive business information via text is inherently risky.

It even says using consumer chat apps like WhatsApp and iMessage for business purposes can be playing with fire. Yet, it cites surveys showing nearly all employees are using their smartphones to transmit work-related information.

TeleMessage says the most common threat is an employee losing his or her smartphone. When that happens, it says 68% of victims never recover their phones. The person who finds it then has access to the text messages sent and received on the device.

Phones can be hacked

Beyond lost or stolen phones, there's concern about hacks. TeleMessage says it only takes one text to hack 950 million android phones. It says one Android flaw produced six critical vulnerabilities on 95% of Android devices.

As employees are embracing consumer messaging apps, IT administrators are increasingly concerned about employees downloading the latest popular messaging app and using it to send and receive the company's latest sales figures and other information that shouldn't fall into the wrong hands.

Other reasons

The technology website ZDNet agrees that employees should avoid texting for business purposes, arguing email is always a preferred way to communicate.

But ZDNet doesn't cite security concerns as a reason for not using texts for work-related communication. It points out that texts tend to be viewed as more casual, and there is the risk an employee won't give information transmitted in a text the attention it deserves.

It points out email provides a more business-like platform and leaves a more robust paper trail in the event of litigation.

There's An App For That - Not Just For iPHONE

When you here the phrase "There's An App For That", everyone immediately thinks of the iPhone. Besides the kool design, that’s why folks buy the iPhone, because of all the Apps. Fact is, most of the apps written for iPhone were either written for other smart phones, then adapted for the iPhone, or have versions for other smart phone platforms. In addition, more apps have been written specifically for the Windows Mobile Smart Phone than any other platform AND they can be obtained from a plethora of different sources, most of which are FREE (iPhone apps have to be purchased through the "AppStore")....

 But what if you have a "Dumb Phone", a phone not designed to run 3rd party apps? Now Microsoft has created software called OneApp that will allow owners of \"dumb phones\" to easily run applications, as well. Click here to read more here:


Un-Cludder Your Life With These 6 Apps

(Alyson Shontell/Instagram @ Business Insider) Here are a few that have been tested and praised as sanity-savers by the tech team at Business Insider

  • Swizzle cleans up email spam by removing your name from multiple email lists at once. Swizzle is a new product from KeepHolding, the parent company of AdKeeper and On Swizzle, you sign up with your email and the service takes a few moments to (securely) scan the contents of your inbox. Then it surfaces the email senders that look most like spam. You can decide to mass delete them or delete a few spammers at a time. Swizzle is a desktop product, not a mobile app.
  • CardMunch (now owned by LinkedIn) lets you store business cards on your mobile phone.  On CardMunch, take a mobile photo of the business card, upload it to the app, and then toss the card away. CardMunch's staff will transcribe all the information on the card and put it neatly under the contact's name in the app. It also saves the photo of the card in case you want to review it later. LinkedIn owns CardMunch, and it's also launching another contact management tool, LinkedIn Contacts.
  • Paper Karma gets rid of spam snail mail. Paper Karma works a lot like CardMunch. Take a photo of physical spam mail you receive and Paper Karma will call up the sender and unsubscribe you. It only works for companies that actually have your name in their systems though. So if a company sends mail addressed to "current resident" rather than your name, Paper Karma won't work.
  • Mailbox and Triage make it easy to archive emails and approach inbox zero.  Both are email management apps that let you archive messages with the swipe of a finger. Mailbox also lets you save messages for later. You can get through multiple messages without having to delete or respond immediately, and they'll disappear from your inbox.
  • Evernote stores messages, photos and more in the cloud so you can access files across devices. If you've ever taken notes on your home computer and been aggravated you didn't have them at work, Evernote solves the problem.

Uninvited Facebook Friends Swarming Smartphone Contacts

Have you noticed recently that contacts seem to be magically appearing on your SmartPhone? Is the list growing bigger and bigger?

If, in the past, you elected to sync your SmartPhone with your Facebook account, Facebook has added a function to automatically sync your Facebook Friends into your contacts. Problem is that when they provided this now feature, 1. they didn't tell anybody (or at least nobody listened) and 2. the default is ON. As a result, many have been creeped out by contacts magically appearing on their SmartPhones. Somehow all of the Facebook contacts are now in the SmartPhone's contacts.

What? You don't want Facebook Friends in your SmartPhone contacts? Me neither! Let's get rid of them and this is how we do it:

•    First remove your Facebook account from your SmartPhone
•    Next backup your current contacts (the ones you want to keep).
o    Go into the people app
o    press menu
o    choose import/export
o    choose export to sd memory card
o    choose the account (if applicable)
•    Now add the Facebook account again. Uncheck the sync contacts check box.
•    Go into settings, applications, manage applications, select all tab
•    Find Contact storage in the list and select it
•    WARNING: be SURE you have backed up all the contacts you want!!!!
•    click clear data
•    Now go back into the people app. (You should notice no contacts appear)
•    Press menu
•    Select import/export
•    Select Import from SD card
•    Select appropriate account to create your contacts

This procedure should restore your contacts as they are without Facebook linking but keep the live feed.
Oh that's right - iPhone 5 doesn't have an sd memory card. (tisk tisk)

Update your iPhone today

If you don't want to know the details, that's fine, but don't stop reading quite yet. It's very important that you update your iPhone today. Follow the link for instructions.

Now, the gory details: recently discovered malware is targeting three previously unknown vulnerabilities in iOS, the iPhone's operating system. The vulnerabilities could not only let hackers take over your phone, they could also track your movements and turn on your microphone.

All of this came to light earlier this month when a human rights activist in the United Arab Emirates got a suspicious text that promised new details of torture in UAE prisons. If he had followed the link in the text, it would have implanted highly dangerous malware on his phone. 

Fix prepared

Fortunately, he didn't and the vulnerability was identified by cybersecurity experts atCitizen Lab, according to an account in The Verge. It was reported to Apple, which prepared fixes for the vulnerabilities in today's release of iOS 9.3.5

To get the update, go to Settings/General/SoftwareUpdate. If you have a high-speed connection, it should take less than 10 minutes to download and install the update.

This is the first time that three vulnerabilities have been discovered in iOS at the same time, and it's a bit sobering for those who like to think their iPhones are more secure than Android phones. They probably are, but today's revelation is a reminder that, in today's world, nothing is totally secure.

Use your smartphone like a landline

While smartphones are one of the hottest tech products on the planet, it's hard to deny the fact good 'ol fashioned landlines have their distinct advantages.

Not only are home-based cordless phones more comfortable to hold up to your ear, they emit less radiation than a cell phone (or none at all if they're a wired landline) and if you're on your mobile while at home, how are you going to charge it up before you leave again?

And so a handful of products aim to deliver best of both worlds, by bridging the gap between you smartphone and home phone.

Heed the call with these following solutions.

Read More - Click Here!

Verizon 5G Network Ready for Home Wi-Fi

The race to make your current wifi network completely obsolete is now underway.

Verizon announced that its 5G home Wi-Fi network was launching October 1. According to the company, customers can expect average Wi-Fi speeds of 300 mbps and can test the service out with a three-month free trial.

Service is currently limited to only four cities in the United States -- Houston, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, and Sacramento. Verizon began inviting people in the selected cities to sign up last month.

For now, the service is available for homes only. Verizon and other carriers have yet to launch a 5G mobile network, but the industry is clearly trying to build excitement for one with frequent promises that 5G mobile service will come in the future.

Verizon Share Everything VS AT&T Mobile Share - Which Is Best

Verizon is offering a new type of family cellular plan called “Share Everything” whilst AT&T is launching its own version named “Share Mobile” on August 23rd. Both plans feature unlimited voice minutes and text messaging. You simply have to choose the amount of data that the family will share. However, there are so many variables to the plans that is difficult to figure out who has the best plan. Let’s see if we can make some sense of it.

At first glance, both plans are similar. Besides unlimited voice and texting, both allow you to connect 10 devices, including laptops, tethering, tablets, cellular modems and other mobile devices. Where the two plans very is on the data side, the amount of data you get at what price.

AT&T appears to be the clear winner with 1gig at $40 a month, whilst Verizon’s 1gig rate is $50 per month.

They say that Verizon's largest plan is 10GB for $100 a month, although you can up that in 2GB increments after the contract is signed. However, if you know about Verizon’s “Secret Menu” (only available from Verizon Phone Stores OR if requested from a Verizon phone), you can get data options from 12gig for $110 all the way to 20gig for $150. AT&Ts 20gig option is $200 a month.

So now we see Verizon pushing ahead of the game, but wait, there’s more! Once you have chosen your data plan size, it's time to add gadgets and other devices. On Verizon, each SmartPhone is $40 per month, basic phone are $30 each, and tablets are $10 each. Other devices like laptops, notebooks, and USB cellular modems are $20.

Example: A 1gig Verizon data plan with 1 SmartPhone and 1 tablet would cost $100 a month.

AT&T follows a similar pricing scheme, except the SmartPhone and other device prices varies with the selected plan. They range from $45 per 1gig to $30 for 10gig….

How do you get apples for apples out of that??? Let’s start off with what an average family might need.

4gig a month data plan is a good starting point for most families. At this level, both services will cost the same amount, so you can go with the carrier you prefer.

For larger plans, AT&T is going to have a slight edge if you have more devices. If you only have one or two devices that need to connect, you'll probably be better off with Verizon UNLESS you know about Verizon’s “Secret Menu”

Keep in mind, this is just a starting point. Avoid overages at all cost, because overages are ridiculously high!
Fortunately, both services provide warning when service limits are approached. In addition, here is a link to a mobile calculator that my assist you in determining the right plan for your family.

Click here to use the Mobile Calculator!

Verizon Unvails New Pricing Plan

Verizon Wireless has made it official, rolling out its new “Share Everything” pricing plan that will replace its current plan structure for new customers, beginning June 28.

The carrier is, in effect, providing breaks on lower-demand services while exacting a premium for the one service all users seem to crave – data. Under the plan consumers will pay a monthly access fee for all smartphones, basic phones, jetpacks/usbs, notebooks and tablets. For that monthly access fee, the consumer will gets unlimited voice and texting.

Read More - Click Here!

What Is 4G by David Drucker

They’re everywhere now… promises to bring “4G” speeds to your mobile devices.  Like the words “Organic” or “Natural” in the food industry, it’s hard to know what, exactly, 4G means.  Is there an official 4G standard?  Let’s explore the basics of 4G and find out…

According to the International Telecommunications Union, mobile broadband technology meets the 4G “threshold” when it delivers downloads of at least 100 Mbps (megabytes per second).  By comparison, Sprint’s Mobile WiMax service offers 3 to 6 Mbps; T-Mobile’s HSPA+ offers 5 to 8 Mbps; and Verizon’s LTE network offers 5 to 12 Mbps.  AT&T claims it will have HSPA+ available to a small segment of its users by the end of February 2011 but doesn’t currently offer any phones compatible with a so-called 4G network.  In other words, none of the major carriers currently come close to the 4G standard.  It sure makes for great advertising to say you do, though…

That said, these actual speeds the carriers are capable of are big improvements over “3G” service.  Laptop magazine tested Sprint’s 4G service in the New York City area and came away with speeds of 1.92 to 7.55 Mbps — in line with the abovementioned speeds but, more importantly, much higher speeds than 3G.  When the same tester switched to 3G, he experienced speeds ranging from only 200 Kbps to 400 Kbps, a significant reduction in service.

The real-life improvement is dramatic when viewed in the context of common daily tasks.  Full websites loaded in 5-7 seconds vs. 17-24 seconds under 3G.  Hulu videos took less than 12 seconds to start under 4G vs. 30 seconds or more under 3G.

The issue presently is coverage.  Sprint’s service is available in 61 markets, T-Mobile’s in about 75 major metropolitan areas, and Verizon’s service is available in 38 metro markets.  And all three offer 4G handsets, unlike AT&T.

The bottom line, then, is that 4G may not be 4G, but today’s 4G is a lot faster than today’s 3G.  As Laptop states, let’s concentrate on these differences and on performance and value considerations rather than the absolute 4G speed offered today.  That will presumably climb over time but the benefits are now.

What Really Happens When Your Moisture Resistant Cell Phone Gets Wet

Despite sky-high sales, Samsung has faced criticism about the durability of its Galaxy smartphones, and the performance of Samsung’s newest Galaxy S8 and S8+ models in water may once again prove to be a disappointment to customers. 

Before competitors like Apple debuted their own sturdier, more water-resistant devices, Samsung led the pack last year with a commercial showing Lil Wayne dousing his Galaxy S7 Edge in champagne. Reviewers celebrated the new generation of Galaxy smartphones and their supposed ability to withstand up to 30 minutes of water exposure. 

But the Galaxy S7 Active model failed water dunking tests conducted by Consumer Reports later that year. Facing criticism, Samsung agreed to give S7 Active owners a free exchange if they encounter “issues related to water damage.” Even then, the warranty only applied to people who had their phones for less than a year.

In subsequent marketing material, Samsung assured customers that the apparent problem had been corrected. Samsung’s new Galaxy S8 and S8+ models “are water and dust resistant, faster, and more efficient...,” an advertisement says. Which means what exactly? "...which means you are too,” the S8 advertisement says.

But Samsung’s promises are only as good as its guarantees. If the Galaxy S8 phones prove to also hold up poorly in water, just as the S7 Active did, can customers get a new phone, or at least their $800 refunded? This is a question that Samsung has yet to answer. 

The dreaded “moisture detected”

My husband purchased the Galaxy S8+ largely because of its advertised durability, including the IP68 label certifying the phone can handle submersion in up to five feet of water for thirty minutes. Consumer Reports, the independent testers who exposed the flaws in the S7 Active, gave glowing reviews of the S8 models. The organization dunked the S8 phones in pressurized tanks and reported that they operated normally “right after” retrieving them and continued to function well 24 hours later.

Based on this, we weren’t very worried when my husband's phone fell out of his pocket at a marina several weeks ago. He quickly snatched the phone from the water and it seemed to work fine immediately afterward. 

When he tried to charge the Galaxy that evening a notice appeared: moisture detected in the port. We tried placing the phone on rice and on a fan for days at a time, but the phone still refused to charge due to “moisture." 

Of course, Samsung Galaxy owners have experienced far worse catastrophes than this -- the recall of the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 phones due to their occasional tendency to explode has left a major dent on the company’s reputation. But with no working battery, my husband's Galaxy was as good as useless. By our estimates, the phone wasn’t in the water for longer than ten seconds.

This does not appear to be a problem that is unique to us. YouTube videos and user-submitted comments online – including a forum on the Samsung webpage itself – tell similar stories of a Galaxy S8 that will not charge because of “moisture detected.” 

One commenter on the Samsung site said that her S8 was “barely splashed” before the moisture detection notice appeared. Another with the same problem couldn’t recall her phone ever being exposed to water at all. 

Based on users’ online comments, no official policy is in place from Samsung for these scenarios, meaning customers are left to effectively wait and see what the company tells them.

The AT&T website is clear when it comes to its older model, the Galaxy S7. Samsung will replace  “any Galaxy S7 active under its standard limited warranty, should water damage occur,” the company tells customers.

When my husband and I visited our local AT&T store for help, workers were fairly certain that the S8+ should also be covered for water damage under that same warranty, and we were told to contact Samsung directly. 

The customer service representative at the Samsung call center deflected when I told her that we dropped the phone in water for just a moment. The Galaxy S8 “is water resistant,” she said, “not waterproof.”

She said that Samsung would consider repairing the phone, if we were willing to send it in and wait at least five business days while they inspected it. Given the vagueness and lack of documentation, we opted to pay our insurance deductible instead.

Samsung won’t disclose its policy to reporters

When contacted repeatedly by ConsumerAffairs, Samsung’s press team refused to explain how it handles water-damage claims for the S8 phones, agreeing only to comment on the S8 off the record.   

Paraphrasing the “off the record” information, I was given points nearly identical to Samsung’s advertising that did not answer whether water damage is covered by a warranty. A press release I was sent did nothing to clarify the issue.

Samsung later agreed to send ConsumerAffairs a prepared statement, but that was similarly empty on answers. “Any consumer with questions about a Samsung product should contact us directly at 1-800-SAMSUNG,” it says. "While every customer inquiry we get is different, we look into each inquiry we receive and work to resolve it on a case-by-case basis."

Two AT&T employees, one Samsung call center worker, and two Samsung spokespeople later, and there are still no definitive answers about how Samsung will handle complaints from customers encountering water-damage issues with S8 Galaxy phones. The best advice we can provide is to not let your phone get wet, no matter what the advertising says

What to expect from Apple’s iOS 11.3 Update

(Sarah E. Young @ ConsumerAffairs) This spring, iPhone and iPad users will be able to install a new update that will let them opt out of the feature that lets Apple slow down their aging iPhones.

The new software update, iOS 11.3, will also include several new Animoji options, the ability to view health records in the Health app, and new ways to experience augmented reality, according to a sneak preview of the update recently released by Apple.

Power management

Apple’s next operating system update comes on the heels of huge criticism and several lawsuits over allegations that the company had been throttling battery performance on older iPhone models.

In an interview with ABC News, Apple CEO Tim Cook promised consumers that a new update was on the way -- one which would allow them to turn off the feature that slows down their iPhones as the battery deteriorates.

While users will have the ability to opt out of this functionality, Apple doesn’t recommend users do so since it can cause unexpected shutdowns.

The new update will give users the ability to check on the health of their phone’s battery and see if the battery needs to be serviced.

Health records

Additionally, the preview shows a new Health Records feature that will let users compile their medical data from multiple providers in one easily accessible place.

“The new Health Records feature brings together hospitals, clinics, and the existing Health app to make it easy for consumers to see their available medical data from multiple providers, whenever they choose,” Apple said.

“Patients from participating medical institutions will have information from various institutions organized into one view and receive regular notifications for their lab results, medications, conditions and more,” the company said, adding that the data will be encrypted and password protected.

Other features

Here are a few other features consumers can expect from iOS 11.3:

  • Animoji options. A lion, bear, dragon, and skull will join the 12 different Animoji that were previously available to iPhone X users. This feature uses the Face ID motion sensing camera to let users animate emoji with their own movements.

  • Music videos. Apple will add music videos to its Apple Music service, which could help it better compete with video streaming platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime video. “Users can stream all the music videos they want without being interrupted by ads,” the company said.

  • Augmented reality updates. Apple’s ARKit augmented reality apps will get some updates too. ARKit will be able to identify and place virtual objects on vertical surfaces, such as walls. Previously, it could only recognize horizontal surfaces.

The new update will be available to consumers this spring. Apple says iOS 11.3 will be free for those with iPhone 5S and later, iPad Air and iPad Pro, iPad fifth gen, iPad Mini 2 and later, and iPod Touch sixth gen.

What's Next For ATT - T-Mobile After The Split

AT&T has now withdrawn its offer for T-Mobile, and the big question facing both companies now is: How can they move forward? Yankee Group believes both companies have viable options for surviving and thriving in the years ahead. Those options, however, will require both firms to think differently about how they run their businesses. The acquisition’s failure means both parties remain starved of the higher-capacity, well-situated spectrum assets needed for effective future competition against formidably positioned Verizon Wireless.

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Which Cellphones Cook Your Brain Most - Least

( Lynn La and Kent German) On Aug. 7, 1996, the FCC created guidelines on cell phone radiation (RF) exposure with input from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

The guidelines created a measure of the rate that body tissue absorbs radiation energy during cell phone use called the specific absorption rate (SAR). The SAR for cell phone radiation was set at a maximum of 1.6 watts of energy absorbed per kilogram of body weight. The limit was set due to the thermal effects of cell phone radiation (all RF radiation can heat human body tissue at high enough levels) - it was not set to mitigate other biological effects cell phone radiation might have such as DNA damage or cancer.

The FCC SAR limit is based upon a cell phone call that averages 30 minutes when the cell phone is held at the ear. SAR levels for cell phones sold in the US range from a low of 0.19 to the maximum of 1.58. Holding a phone away from the body or using a wired earpiece lowers the amount of radiation absorbed, and text messaging rather than talking, further lowers that amount.

The following two charts list the top 20 highest and lowest SAR levels for cell phones sold in the United States. The list provides the maximum possible SAR level from the phone (many phones have differing SAR levels depending on where and how the phone is used). If your phone is not on either list, you can find the SAR level for your specific phone by checking the online FCC database.

 Top 20 Highest Radiation Cell Phones 
(maximum possible SAR level from phone)
  Cell phone brand and type SAR level Carrier
1. Motorola Droid Maxx 1.54 Verizon
1a. Motorola Droid Ultra 1.54 Verizon
3. Alcatel One Touch Evolve 1.49 T-Mobile
3a. Huawei Vitria 1.49 Metro PCS
5. Kyocera Hydro Edge 1.48 Sprint
6. Kyocera Kona 1.45 Sprint
7. Kyocera Hydro XTRM 1.44 Metro PCS
8. BlackBerry Z10 1.42 Verizon
9. BlackBerry Z30 1.41 Verizon
9a. ZTE Source 1.41 Cricket
9b. ZTE Warp 4G 1.41 Boost
12. Nokia Lumia 925 1.4 T-Mobile
12a. Nokia Lumia 928 1.4 Verizon
14. Sonim XP Strike 1.39 Sprint
14a. Kyocera Hydro Elite 1.39 Verizon
16. T-Mobile Prism 2 1.385 T-Mobile
17. Virgin Mobile Supreme 1.38 Virgin
17a. Sprint Vital 1.38 Sprint
19. Sprint Force 1.37 Sprint
20. Huawei Pal 1.33 Metro PCS
 Top 20 Lowest Radiation Cell Phones
(maximum possible SAR level from phone)
  Cell phone brand and type SAR level Carrier
1. Verkool Vortext RS90 0.18 Unlocked
2. Samsung Galaxy Note 0.19 T-Mobile
3. ZTE Nubia 5 0.225 Unlocked
4. Samsung Galaxy Note 2 0.28 Verizon
5. Samsung Galaxy Mega 0.321 AT&T
6. Kyocera Dura XT 0.328 Sprint
7. Pantech Discover 0.35 AT&T
8. Samsung Galaxy Beam 0.36 Unlocked
9. Samsung Galaxy Stratosphere II 0.37 Verizon
10. Pantech Swift 0.386 AT&T
11. Samsung Jitterbug Plus 0.4 Great Call
11a. Jitterbug Plus 0.4 Great Call
13. LG Exalt 0.43 Verizon
13a. Samsung Galaxy Note 2 0.43 Sprint
15. HTC One V 0.455 US Cellular
16. LG Optimus Vu 0.462 Unlocked
17. Samsung Galaxy S Relay 4G 0.47 T-Mobile
17a. Samsung Rugby 3 0.47 AT&T
19. HTC One Max 0.5 Sprint
20. LG G2 0.51 T-Mobile

Note: Given their popularity, we have also provided the SAR levels for the Apple iPhone.


Model SAR level Carrier
Apple iPhone 5 1.18 AT&T
Apple iPhone 4S 1.11 Sprint Nextel
Apple iPhone 4S 1.11 Verizon Wireless
Apple iPhone 4S 1.11 AT&T
Apple iPhone 4 1.18 Virgin Mobile
Apple iPhone 4 1.18 Verizon Wireless
Apple iPhone 4 1.17 AT&T
Apple iPhone 3GS 0.79 AT&T
Apple iPhone 3G 1.38 AT&T
Apple iPhone 0.974 AT&T


Find Your Phone: FCC Database on cell phone radiation (SAR) levels
The FCC maintains a database that includes the SAR - radiation absorption - levels for every certified cell phone sold in the United States.

You can find the SAR for your individual cell phone by typing the FCC ID number of your cell phone into the FCC database available here:

From the FCC website: "The FCC ID number is usually shown somewhere on the case of the phone or device. In many cases, you will have to remove the battery pack to find the number. Once you have the number proceed as follows. Go to the following Web address: Once you are there... Enter the FCC ID number (in two parts as indicated: 'Grantee Code' is comprised of the first three characters, the 'Equipment Product Code' is the remainder of the FCC ID). Then click on 'Start Search.' The grant of equipment authorization for this particular ID number should appear. The highest SAR values reported in the equipment certification test data are usually included in the comments section of the grant of equipment certification."


Which smartphone system is right for you?

Windows Phone 8 on a Nokia 920, Android 4.2 on the Nexus 4, and an iPhone 5 running iOS 6.
(Heather Kelley CNN) -- A dizzying number of smartphones is now available in the United States. Picking one is a big commitment, especially when you're signing up for a two-year wireless contract.

There are multiple factors to consider when picking a new phone, such as the carrier, your budget, hardware and the operating system.

Apple, Google and Microsoft each has its own mobile operating systems and ecosystems -- iOS, Android and Windows Phone, respectively -- and they've all been updated in the last year. The three rivals will be going head to head on shiny new handsets this holiday season.

We spent a week or so playing with new phones running these systems to see how they stack up. (For now, we're skipping other struggling smartphone platforms, BlackBerry and Symbian, even though they are more popular globally than Windows Phone. Both are quickly losing market share, although BlackBerry could bounce back when it releases its new smartphone OS, Blackberry 10, in 2013.)

Here are our impressions:


Android has the most detailed interface of the available operating systems.
Android has the most detailed interface of the available operating systems.
Heather Kelly/CNN

The Android operating system was released by Google in 2008 and has become the No. 1 smartphone OS in the world. It was running on three out of every four smartphone handsets sold in the third quarter of 2012, according to IDC. (The following descriptions are based on the latest version, Android 4.2, aka Jelly Bean.)


Android has the most detailed interface of the available operating systems, with many options and a lot of flexibility for setting it up to meet your needs. The home screen has a Google search bar at the top, and a bar at the bottom can hold four app icons or folders. The middle button brings up the complete list of apps installed on the phone.

You can place icons for your favorite apps anywhere on one of the multiple home screens, then tap an icon to launch that app. You also can decorate the pages with widgets. Widgets are like interactive mini-apps, and they show live information such as the latest from your Twitter feed, titles in your media library or little photo albums that you can flip through from the home screen. You can add widgets on the lock screen as well.

Dragging a finger down from the top of the screen shows notifications. If you're ever lost, you can just hit the back or home button at the bottom of the screen.

Apps and content

On Android phones, apps, games and content such as movies and music are sold in one unified marketplace, the Google Play store. There are about 675,000 apps and games in this store, which is just below the the number in Apple's App Store.

The devices often come preloaded with extra, unnecessary apps from the phone maker and wireless carrier, many of which try to get you to sign up for some paid service. The same is true for Windows Phone handsets.

A sizable library of movies, music, TV shows books and magazines is also available in the Google Play store.

Key features

Customization and control are big draws for Android users, and the platform is crammed with options.

The latest update adds a fun, swipe keyboard feature called Gesture Typing that lets you spell words by dragging your finger around instead of tapping on each letter.

Google Now uses your location and timing to show you the most relevant information, such as your upcoming flight times and public transit updates. There is voice search, so you can speak questions and search terms into the phone.

And of course, Android has the Google Maps app.


Android is available on the largest number of smartphones. There is a device for every price point, and they have different features, manufacturers and carriers.

Because Android is open source, different companies can take the OS and modify it to work with their hardware. That means there are several versions of the same operating system. One of the downsides to this fragmentation is that software updates have to be adapted for each version, and the updates can be maddeningly slow to come to Android devices.

Currently, the only phone running Android 4.2 is Google's own Nexus 4, by LG.

Who it's for

Android is made for anyone heavily invested in the Google ecosystem (Gmail, Google Drive, Google Calendar); people who prefer their maps with public transit directions and a high level of accuracy; people who like control over their computer systems and who are fans of customization and tinkering; anyone looking for a low-cost smartphone and are unable (or unwilling) to pay the Apple premium; and buyers who want a large screen.

iOS 6

iOS 6 has been relatively unchanged since the first iPhone came out in 2007.
iOS 6 has been relatively unchanged since the first iPhone came out in 2007.
Heather Kelly/CNN

Apple's iOS operating system powers iPhones, iPads and the iPod touch. It's is the second top-selling smartphone operating system; 14% of all smartphones sold worldwide in the last quarter were running iOS. The gap between Android and iOS is huge, but keep in mind that Apple's platform only runs on one smartphone line, the iPhone.


This is the most straightforward interface in the bunch, and it's been relatively unchanged since the first iPhone came out in 2007. There have been nice minor tweaks, such as the addition of folders and notifications, but the gist is the same.

The home screen displays icons for each app; they aren't stashed away in any second location. You can organize apps in folders or search for them using the Spotlight search feature.

The iPhone doesn't display live-updating content on the home screens like Android and Windows Phone devices do. It does have a notification center and notification badges that can appear on icons. The lock screen isn't very customizable beyond the background photo.

A fixed dock along the bottom of the screen can display the four apps you use the most.

Apps and content

Apps must be purchased in the official Apple App Store, which currently has more than 700,000 apps and games in stock. The importance of a platform with a large volume of apps is overblown. What matters is the availability of quality apps and the willingness of major developers and companies to produce good products for that platform.

Content including music, movies, TV shows, podcasts, books and audiobooks are purchased through the well-stocked iTunes Store, though you can also buy them through another company such as Amazon and synch them to your iPhone. Books are also available directly through the iBooks app.

Apple has the tightest control over its operating system and the heaviest hand when it comes to editing exactly what features reach the final product. That means no extra preinstalled apps, just the necessities.

Key features

The iPhone is iOS's killer feature. It is a stunning piece of industrial design, and the newest version is durable and lightweight.

The voice-assistant feature, Siri; ease of use; and high-quality, third-party apps are other big selling points. If you're near an Apple store, the free tech support is a great perk.


Apple's iOS operating system only runs on Apple's iPhone, iPod touch and iPad. The latest version, iOS 6, runs on the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S and the iPhone 5, though some features such as the camera's panorama mode and Siri are only available on the iPhone 4S and later.

The cheapest phone currently sold by Apple is the iPhone 4, which costs $450 unlocked but is free with a two-year wireless contract when you buy it through AT&T, Sprint or Verizon.

Who it's for

iOS is designed for people who want a simple interface; nontechnical types who will appreciate the convenient and free hand-holding available at the Genius Bar; Mac users; and design lovers.


Windows Phone 8 is fresh and fun, but relies heavily on big text.
Heather Kelly/CNN

This is the second generation of Microsoft's Windows Phone operating system, which began in 2010. Windows Phone 8 was launched in October, and Microsoft hopes the expensive marketing campaign and improved features will help it climb up from fifth place. Last quarter, only 2% of phones sold in the world were Windows Phone devices.


Instead of icons, the Windows Phone 8 home screen is covered with a quilt of brightly colored squares and rectangles. Each tile can display live information, such as a photo album or your newest e-mail, which can save you a trip into the sometimes jumbled innards of the operating system.

A swipe to the left brings up an alphabetical list of installed apps. Tap and hold on an app to place it, or "pin" it, on the start screen. Tap a tile and hold to change its size or placement.

There are some odd design choices, such as allowing text to be cut off randomly to make the most of the smartphone screen. Overall, the design relies on flat, simple images and a lot of large text. By default, the text is mostly white on black, which is jarring but saves battery life. You can switch it to black on white and change the color of your tiles.

It's possible to display personalized information on the lock screen, such as your most recent calendar event, e-mail, text message or missed phone call.

Apps and content

The current app selection on Windows Phone 8 is the smallest of the three platforms, but Microsoft is working hard to woo developers. The system shares its underlying framework with Windows 8, so that may make it easier for developers to make apps for both platforms.

Like Android phones, there is usually some preinstalled clutter -- apps from carriers and manufacturers -- on Windows Phones, but these can be deleted easily.

Tunes are available in the Xbox music store, but you have to sync movies and TV shows over from a desktop application. Pandora radio comes preinstalled along with a free year of ad-free service. Nokia phones have the Nokia Music service installed.

Key features

The main screen is the winning ingredient for Windows Phone 8. It's simple, fun and easy to understand, and it does a great job of surfacing important information.

Kids Corner is nice touch for parents. It creates a separate profile for kids, limiting them to approved apps and keeping them out of your personal accounts. Data Sense is a new feature Microsoft claims will help optimize the amount of data you use.

As part of its latest marketing push, Microsoft has been talking up the "people" angle of the phone for consumers (for example, the Rooms feature is a nice way to communicate with custom groups of people, such as family members). However, the company might be better off promoting Windows Phone's business side. Working with Office documents and syncing them across devices is much easier, and there are built-in features for large companies that need to support phones for employees.


The new version of Windows Phone adds support for more advanced hardware than its predecessor, including phones with higher resolution screens, multicore processors and near field communication. So far, there are only a handful of Windows 8 phones available, from HTC, Samsung and Nokia. The most anticipated of the bunch is the Nokia 920, which features a powerful camera.

Unfortunately, people who already own a device running Windows Phone 7 will not be able to upgrade to the new operating system. To upgrade the OS, they must purchase a new phone.

Who it's for

Windows is the most used operating system in the world, and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has said he thinks 500 million people will be using Windows 8, the newest PC/tablet operating system, by the end of 2013. Windows Phone 8 will be best as a companion device for people using Windows 8 on a PC. It's also a nice choice for people who want a simple and customizable interface; heavy Microsoft Office users; parents; and anyone who likes to root for (the corporate overlord version of) the underdog

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Why Cell Phone Battery Is Always Dead

Wonder why your smartphone battery runs down, even when you aren't using the device? Chances are, it's not getting enough sleep.

Because smartphone functions are energy hogs, reducing battery life in normal operations, manufacturers have aggressively built in “sleep” functions. When the device detects no activity, the smartphone goes into sleep mode to save power.

But it's not entirely asleep. Various functions need to run in the background, such as checking with the email server to see if any new messages have arrived. While the phone is sleeping, an app springs into action every now and then and wakes up the phone just to see if it needs to perform a function.

And therein lies the problem. Under normal circumstances the app will do its job, then let the phone go back to sleep. But Charlie Hu, a Purdue University professor of electrical and computer engineering, says sometimes there's a glitch in the software and the phone stays awake.

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Why Choose android Over iPhone Opinion By Chris Hoffman

If you’re looking at buying a smartphone, you’re probably going to buy an Android device or an iPhone (sorry, Microsoft). What’s the difference, and which should you choose? We recently gave the pro-iPhone side of the story, and now in the interests of balance, it’s time for to put forward the case for Android.

Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS aren’t just competing operating systems with different software; they’re radically different platforms. Apple provides a locked-down, restricted environment, while Android provides freedom, flexibility and choice. I bet some of you are already itching to comment on this one – remember to share your perspective in the comments.

You Can Run Any App You Want

Apple exercises ironfisted control over what you can do with your own phone – iOS is a walled garden. Exercising control over the app store is one thing, but it’s more pernicious than that. Apple prevents your phone – or rather, their phone – from running anything that doesn’t appear in the app store.

Here’s an example of why this is bad. Apple originally banned Google Voice from the app store. Apple didn’t allow Google Voice apps on the iPhone because they “duplicate features that come with the iPhone“. Gee, it’s a good thing Microsoft didn’t think of that – if they had, you wouldn’t be able to run iTunes on your Windows PC because it competes with Windows Media Player. The US government stepped in, and now you can run Google Voice on your iPhone.

Firefox, Opera and other browsers compete with the default browser (Firefox for iPhone is just a shell on top of Safari). App stores like Amazon and GetJar compete with the Market by offering paid apps for free.

You Can Customize Your Phone

Although Google Voice is on the iPhone, it can’t be as deeply integrated with your phone. On Android, Google Voice can hook into the built-in dialer, so all calls will go through Google Voice. Android allows apps to replace and modify parts of the OS that are untouchable on an iPhone.

Custom keyboards for Android can provide new input methods (and themes, if that’s your thing). Swype and other keyboards allow you to slide your finger over the letters you want to type instead of hunting and pecking. It sounds a bit odd at first, but it’s very intuitive (and fast!) once you try it.

Android also allows custom home screens. People complain about the launchers that come with Android phones, but you can replace them if you don’t want them – just install one of the many third-party launchers from the Market. Home screens, even the built-in ones, also support widgets, so you can see rich information without opening an app.

Or, how about Tasker? It digs deep into the innards of your phone in a way that no iPhone app could and lets you create all sorts of automatic tasks. Tasker can automatically turn off the Wi-Fi at night, mute your phone when you’re in a specific location, and more.
You Have More Hardware Choice

Henry Ford once said that a customer could have any color of car they wanted – as long as it was black. Apple takes the same approach to hardware choice.

Do you think the iPhone’s 3.5-inch screen is too small? Android’s screen size is negotiable – some phones have massive, 4.65-inch screens, while some have tiny, 2.8-inch screens.

Looking for a cheap smartphone? You’ll find cheaper Android smartphones at the low end. Older iPhones may be available for $0 with a contract in some places, but you won’t find cheap iPhones that come without a contract.

Do you want 4G speeds? You’ll need an Android phone. There are also Android phones with physical keyboards, phones with 3D displays, phones designed for gaming and phones with a stylus.
You Can Escape Apple’s Censorship

When you buy an iPhone, you’re allowing Apple to censor content on your phone. Apple recently banned “Phone Story”, a satirical game that criticized labor practices at all smartphone manufacturing factories. They said it depicted “violence or abuse of children” which is kind of the point. A similar game would not have been banned from the Android Market. Even if it was, you could download and install it straight from the developer.

In the past, Apple has also banned a Pulitzer Prize-winning satirist’s app from the app store. Apple explained that they don’t allow “content that ridicules public figures” on your phone. Bad press forced them to back down in this case, but people who haven’t won Pulitzer Prizes would likely be out of luck.

You Can Use Custom ROMs

I hear you iPhone fans out there – you’re saying that this doesn’t matter because you can jailbreak your iPhone. But Apple works hard to ensure jailbreaks are reversed when you update your iPhone’s OS, and they fought to make jailbreaking illegal in the US. Not just against the terms of service, but illegal. As in an actual crime.

The Android equivalent of jailbreaking is called “rooting” and you can also install customized operating systems on your device (known as custom ROMs). Android manufacturers don’t go out of their way to make this extra difficult – some even help you do it.

Android is open-source, so the modding community has a lot more freedom and flexibility when it comes to tweaking it for your device. It’s your phone, and you can do whatever you want with it.


There are other advantages to Android. Google Navigation is amazing. iTunes isn’t necessary for Android. Google Wallet promises to, one day, make the wallet obsolete.

There’s no denying that Android has problems and that Apple’s ironfisted control can make some things more convenient for iPhone users. But I’d rather have the choice, freedom and flexibility that comes with Android.


Why Do Employees Want BYOD Anyway

Why Do Employees Want BYOD Anyway? image smartphone comparison 2013a 150x150(Jeff Francis @ Business2Community) Why Do Employees Want BYOD Anyway?feelings on this transition, what should you as an organization think about it? And why, in general, is this happening?

In a galaxy not so far away and not so long ago, corporate IT departments would make blanket technology decisions and impose those choices on their workforce. When it comes to computers, this is still the norm — companies intent on satisfying the technological needs of their employees want to provide necessary hardware to their staff. On the other hand, IT departments love continuity within their hardware department because it makes their jobs much more manageable; no one wants to deal with installing programs, monitoring security parameters, etc… on an army of computers from different manufacturers running different operating systems. Most importantly, though, your CFO loves the ability to standardize your hardware provider in order to negotiate better purchasing rates. You also receive more personalized treatment from manufacturers if you’re a consistent customer that buys in bulk. So for computers, this makes sense from a corporate standpoint.

That being said, there are still always grumblings when a new employee that loves Mac for his or her personal usage has to adopt a Windows machine in his/her corporate job (or vice versa). But, for a host of reasons, those employees are willing to put up with the computer purchased for them — they’re only doing work on the machine (ostensibly) and as such, they can handle working in that sub-optimal environment because it’s part of the gig. Plus, no one wants to shell out the $1500+ for a new laptop when a perfectly good one is available for them via their employer.

The mobile phone is an entirely different beast…

Phones go with you everywhere, and you definitely do not use them only for work. Far more of your aggregate time spent on a smartphone can be attributed to checking social networks, reading personal emails, receiving and responding to text messages, playing games, etc…. As such, users are far less likely to willingly accept a blanket technological decree from an IT department mandating a specific handset manufacturer or operating system — any concession on this point will come begrudgingly.

Likewise, the price point for mobile phones, while certainly not cheap, is certainly lower than laptop purchases; so, there isn’t as large a disincentive for individuals to purchase their own devices. Now, many employees probably will not care what phone they have to use if it’s provided by their employer — that’s a welcomed perk to be sure. But, most of your technologically savvy staff probably have a strict preference in the iOS vs. Android vs. Windows operating system debate. So much so, that they’re willing to bite the bullet and purchase their own hardware so long as your IT department will support it. If part of the perk package you offer includes covering their phone bill, it makes it all the more attractive to simply bring their own device: Employees can update their devices whenever they want, switch manufacturers if so desired, whatever…; as long as their bill is taken care of, they’re happy with the perk overall — no need to spend the IT dollars to buy them standardized handsets.

This presents a number of potential benefits to enterprises (increased productivity, happier workers, etc…). At the same time, though, it can also wreak havoc on your IT department (security, data sprawl, etc…). In part II of this article, we’ll discuss what your organization might want to consider in the BYOD debate.

Why Your Business Needs a Mobile Website Right Now

First, the good news: If you have a website, then you have a site that can be accessed by any mobile device with a browser. Now, the bad: Chances are, that site looks pretty crappy on said mobile device.

If you’re worried about this, you’re not alone. Just as companies realized, circa 1996, that they needed to create a website to remain relevant to consumers, history is repeating itself in mobile. By 2013, more people will use mobile phones than PCs to get online, according to Gartner. In mid-2011, we also reached the point at which consumers were spending more time on their mobile devices than on their PCs.

In such an environment, a site designed to be viewed on a desktop PC comes across as woefully lacking. Say you’re accessing such a site from the Safari browser on your iPhone. The first thing you’re likely to notice is that it takes a relatively long time to load. The second thing is that the type on the page is pretty small. It might take a lot of zooming and pinching to navigate the site as well. If you have Flash on your site, it’s not going to come across at all on an iPhone.

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Wi-Fi calling to begin landing on some Verizon smartphones this week

Verizon plans to begin rolling out Wi-Fi calling this week to some customers with Android smartphones, making it the last major US carrier to offer the wireless network feature.

Verizon announced Friday it would it would push out a software update on December 8 that will allow owners of Samsung's Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge to make and receive calls using a Wi-Fi network. The feature is useful whenever customers find themselves in an area with weak or no carrier coverage.

The New York-based telecommunications giant said the software update will be rolled out in phases to Samsung's flagship Android handsets. The feature is expected to be extended to additional Android smartphones and Apple's iPhone early next year, the company said.

Verizon is the last of the major US wireless carriers to offer Wi-Fi calling. AT&T rolled out its Wi-Fi calling feature in October for Apple iPhones, following in the path of T-Mobile and Sprint. Wireless carriers have been touting Wi-Fi networks as a way to improve call quality as well as extend coverage of their voice networks.

Wi-Fi is a useful technology for this since it uses unlicensed wireless spectrum, but there are challenges with the technology as well. It's short-range means that users often must hand-off between multiple networks if they are at all mobile. Because the spectrum is unlicensed, airwaves can be congested and interference between different Wi-Fi networks may occur.

Wi-Fi calling will begin rolling out to Verizon almost a month after the Federal Communications Commission granted Verizon's request for a waiver for the service. The waiver is necessary because Wi-Fi calling doesn't meet FCC rules about accessibility for speech- and hearing-impaired people.

In addition to T-Mobile, Sprint and AT&T, there are a number of Wi-Fi only carriers that default to Wi-Fi first before connecting to a cellular network. These include Republic Wireless, Scratch Wireless, as well as Google's nascent Project Fi , which launched in April and is compatible with the Google Nexus 6P , 5X and 6.

Verizon is promoting the feature as part of its "Advanced Calling" voice-over LTE service, considered the next step in voice calls because it runs completely on Internet technology and promises features such as clearer calls and the integration of video and voice services. All Wi-Fi calls placed to US numbers are free, but international calls will be billed at regular rates, Verizon said.

Windows Mobile 6.1 to 6.5 Upgrade

  1. Check the available memory Start>Settings>More>More>More>Hardware.
    • Is there at least 5MB free in Storage and Program each?
  2. Less than 5MB?
    • Free up memory by moving files (music, pictures, etc.) to a Storage Card.
    • Shut down running programs that are not in use by going to Start>Task Manager>Menu>Stop All
    • Clear the browser History, Cookies, and Temp files.
      • Internet Explorer
      • Go to Start>Internet Explorer>Menu>Tools>Options>Browsing History>Clear.
  3. Rule out 3rd party applications by removing them: Start>Settings,>More> Remove Programs.
    • Highlight the application to be removed and select Menu>Remove.
      • The Device must be power cycled to complete the application removal.
        • If issues aren’t seen after app removal, discontinue use of application You can also add each 3rd party application back one at a time, thoroughly testing after each add, to identify which application is causing the issue. If the application is identified as the cause, the you can contact the vendor to see if other options are available.
  4. If issue remains, perform a Hard Reset.
  5. Once the Hard Reset and Customization process have completed, retest the device. If the issue remains, the device will need to be repaired/replaced.

I found out these problems are not caused by the upgrade to WM6.5.

First problem, win 7 cannot detect phone, this is caused by win 7 does not found the right driver for HTC ozone when I connected it to USB port.  After I click "update driver" in device driver, somehow it can found the correct one, and it can sync.

The other problem, old applications do not work. The applications are different btw phone with touch-screen (WM professional as in ATT Tilt) and the one with non-touch screen (WM standard as in HTC ozone). e.g.: microsoft reader does not have a version for WM standard.  Most of my apps are written for touch-screen version and won't work on ozone. Not sure why the difference, the non-touch screen phone has a directional pad and can has the function of touch screen.  So I have to throw away my existing apps...

Womens Webcam Hacking Alert

(Geoffrey Ingersoll @ BusinessInsider) Internet Perverts Called 'RATters' Are Hacking Into Women's Webcams. It's a rabbit hole because you can't ever come back once you've read a piece like this. It's a Matrix-style Red Pill.

Or maybe, more accurately: A RAT hole.

A RAT is a Remote Administration Tool that IT guys use to look inside computers.

Basically it's software that tech sections in corporations sometimes use to get remote control of a desktop for troubleshooting purposes. RATers have co-opted this software to hijack women's systems without their knowledge. RATers refer to these women as slaves.

Slipping past the three pages of pervertedness (which again, I recommend reading at length), one gets to a truly troubling aspect of hacking (or any sort of innovation for that matter): the law of unintended consequences.

Perverts have obviously repurposed this software — meant originally to fix computers — to watch unsuspecting people. Presumably, there's nothing stopping embattled dictators, say during the Arab spring, from doing the same thing in order to surveil leaders of rebel groups.

This is exactly what Malwarebytes, a computer security company, found after analyzing all the things that popular RAT DarkComet was capable of. That analysis also referred to the fact that the Syrian and Egyptian governments used RATs to battle rebels.

From Ars Technica:

The conclusion drawn by the researchers at Malwarebytes was that RAT creators had unwittingly become low-cost arms dealers to repressive regimes that couldn't afford to develop such tools themselves.

So a piece of software developed in an open source environment was picked up by oppressive regimes to spy on unwitting rebels.

Andersen notes at the end of his piece that the results of these revelations, as well as the use of his technology by RATs, led prominent RAT program author Jean-Pierre Lesueur to "shut down DarkComet with a message blaming his users."

As an aside, hackers recommend keeping Javascript and Flash updated on computers to avoid becoming a RATter's slave.

Your Right To Roam

(Edward Wyatt NY Times) Cellphone companies must allow customers of competing wireless carriers to use their networks for the Internet and e-mail when outside their home territory, a federal appeals court said here on Tuesday.

The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia said that just as the Federal Communications Commission required wireless carriers to allow voice-service roaming by customers of other carriers, it also can require the same, at commercially reasonable rates, for data customers — in essence, those who use smartphones, tablets and other wireless devices.

The judges’ 3-to-0 decision is a significant victory for the F.C.C. The agency has lost authority over Internet communications in recent years. And it is a big win for smaller cellphone companies, who now have the leeway to offer customers national calling and data plans, albeit ones that could generate extra charges.

On the losing side is Verizon Wireless, which had challenged the agency’s data roaming order in 2011. The company argued that the agency did not have authority to oversee data communications on wireless broadband networks and that it was imposing “common carrier” regulations on companies — essentially, regulating them like public utilities, as it does with home phone service.

Verizon said that it already had data roaming agreements so there was no need to codify the practice. “As we made clear throughout the case,” Ed McFadden, a company spokesman, said on Tuesday, “Verizon Wireless regularly enters into such data roaming agreements on commercially reasonable terms to meet the needs of consumers, and will continue to do so.”

The decision has broad implications for the agency, analysts said. “This does bode well for the F.C.C.’s ability to assert its authority in regulating wireless services,” said Andrew Jay Schwartzman, senior vice president and policy director for the Media Access Project, a nonprofit law firm that promotes consumer choice. “This is the first time these issues have come up in the context of data, which obviously is our future,” he said.

The F.C.C.’s chairman, Julius Genachowski, went further, saying the court’s opinion “confirms the F.C.C.’s authority to promote broadband competition and protect broadband consumers.”

In 2010, in Comcast v. the F.C.C., the same appeals court rejected the legal theory that the agency was using to validate its regulation of broadband Internet service. While Tuesday’s decision does not reverse that ruling, it does signal that the agency may have found a justification for its broadband rules.

Both Tuesday’s and the 2010 decisions were written by one of the appeals court’s more liberal members, Judge David S. Tatel.

John Bergmayer, senior staff lawyer at Public Knowledge, which filed a brief supporting the agency, noted that many of the legal arguments Verizon made in the case are also part of another challenge in the same court.

There, Verizon is trying to overturn the agency’s Open Internet order, a 2011 regulation that contains elements of net neutrality rules. Those rules require Internet service providers to treat all traffic equally, rather than favoring some transmissions over another.

The Open Internet case is in its early stages and has not yet been argued before the appeals court. But agency officials say they think the appeals court, in Tuesday’s case, rejected at least one of the arguments Verizon makes in the Open Internet case.

Many small wireless companies had supported the agency’s data roaming requirement, saying that it would provide more competition, particularly by allowing them to offer national service to compete with Verizon and AT&T.

The large wireless providers argued that the data roaming order gave them less incentive to invest in their networks, because it would benefit rivals that would not shoulder any of the costs of building infrastructure.

Read More - Click Here!

iPhone 4S Siri Security Loophole AND Fix

A security loophole has been discovered in Siri, the much-touted iPhone 4S personal assistant. The default setting for the new A.I. is "On", meaning that when a user's phone is locked, anyone can pick it up, hold down the home button, and tell Siri to send texts and emails. Oh My!

However there is an easy fix. If you don't want Siri to work when the phone is locked, simply change the default setting from "Allow access to Siri when locked with a passcode" to "Off." Then check it to make sure the setting takes.

iPhone 4s Battery Issues

Of the negative comments analyzed, fully 23% were about poor battery performance, more than any other single topic.

It's not clear how serious or how widespread the problem is but a analysis of more than 1.1 million consumer comments on Twitter, Facebook and other social media and blogs finds numerous complaints about battery life.

Read More – Click Here!

iPhone Battery Fix Not Working

The release came out Thursday and there are already reports that the battery issue continues. A check of an Apple iPhone forum this afternoon produced these comments: "I am suffering from servers battery drain. Worked great on 5.0 but infinitely worse after upgrade (iOS 4, 5.0.1),” said a poster going by Finchystryder. Read More-Click Here!

iPhone Create Custom Ringtones

Your iPhone comes stocked with 25 predefined ringtones. Although some of them are amazingly annoying, you ought to be able to find one you can live with. If you can't, or if you crave something unique, you can create a custom ringtone and use that.

In earlier versions of iTunes, the easiest way to cobble together a custom ringtone was to convert a song you purchased through the iTunes Store. Unfortunately, that feature was removed in iTunes 10. You can always purchase ringtones in the iTunes Store, but there are still a couple of techniques you can use to create a custom (and free!) ringtone, as the next couple of sections show.

Using iTunes to create a Custom Ringtone

The old Create Ringtone command may be gone from iTunes 10, but that application still comes with features that enable you to create a custom ringtone. Here is how it works:

  1. In iTunes, play the track you want to use. While the track is playing, watch the playback time and note the start time and end time of the portion of the track you want to use as your ringtone.

    Ringtones can be a maximum of 30 seconds long, so select a portion of the track that is no longer than 30 seconds.

  2. Choose File → Get Info. The track's Info dialog appears.
  3. Click the Options tab.
  4. Use the Start Time and Stop Time text boxes to type the starting and ending points for your ringtone snippet (see Figure below), and then click OK.

    Ringtone Snippet

  5. With the track still selected, choose Advanced → Create AAC Version. iTunes creates a version of the track that includes only the snippet you specified in Step 4.
  6. Click the new version of the track, then choose File → Show in Finder. A new Finder window appears with the short version of the track selected.
  7. Press Return to open the filename for editing, change the extension from m4a to m4r, and then press Return. The m4r extension designates the file as a ringtone. OS X asks you to confirm the extension change.
  8. Click Use .m4r. OS X converts the file to a ringtone.
  9. In iTunes, make sure the short version of the track is selected, and then choose Edit → Delete. iTunes asks you to confirm.
  10. Click Remove. iTunes asks if you want to move the file to the Trash.
  11. Click Keep File.
  12. Return to the Finder window that contains the ringtone, and then double-click the file. iTunes plays the ringtone, but more importantly, it adds the file to the Tones section of the library.

Using GarageBand to create a custom ringtone

The technique in the previous section is easy, for sure, but it's a bit convoluted. So let's look at a second, more straightforward, method that uses GarageBand, the Apple application for making homebrew music.

First, here are the steps to follow to create a ringtone out of any song in your iTunes library:

  1. Click the GarageBand icon in the Dock, click iPhone Ringtone, click Choose, type a name for the project, and then click Create. GarageBand starts a new project for you.

    There's no reason you have to use commercial music for your ringtone. GarageBand makes it easy to create your own music from scratch. For example, choose File → New, click Magic GarageBand, click a music genre, and then click Choose. GarageBand creates a whole song for you, and you can even add your own instruments! (Click Audition, and then click Create Project when you're done.)

  2. Choose Track → Delete Track to get rid of the default track.
  3. Switch to iTunes, click the song you want to use for your ringtone, and then choose File → Show in Finder. OS X displays the song's file in a Finder window.
  4. Click and drag the file and drop it inside GarageBand. The program creates a new track for the song.
  5. Click and drag the Cycle Region to the approximate area of the song you want to use for the ringtone. The Cycle Region, pointed out in Figure below, defines the portion of the song that you would use for a ringtone. If you don't see the Cycle Region tool, click the Cycle Region button pointed out in Figure below.

    Cycle Region Button

    If the song is protected by digital rights management (DRM), you won't be able to import it into GarageBand.

  6. Click and drag the left edge of the Cycle Region to define the starting point of the ringtone.
  7. Click and drag the right edge of the Cycle Region to define the ending point of the ringtone.
  8. Click Play to play back the ringtone.
  9. If your start and end points aren't quite right, repeat Steps 6 to 8 until your ringtone is set.
  10. Choose Share → Send Ringtone to iTunes. GarageBand converts the track to a ringtone, and then adds it to the Tones category in iTunes.

The maximum length for a GarageBand ringtone is 40 seconds. To see how long the Cycle Region is, choose Control → Show Time in LCD.

Syncing ringtones

The next time you sync your iPhone through iTunes, follow these steps to include one or more custom ringtones in the sync:

  1. Click your iPhone in the iTunes Devices list.
  2. Click the Tones tab.
  3. Select the Sync Tones check box.
  4. Select the Selected tones option.
  5. Select the check box beside each custom ringtone you want to use on your iPhone.
  6. Click Apply.

To use the custom ringtone on your iPhone, tap Settings in the Home screen, tap Sounds, and tap Ringtone. Your ringtones appear at the top of the Ringtones list. Tap a custom ringtone to use the snippet as your ringtone.

You can also use the Sounds screen to apply a custom ringtone to other sound events, such as incoming text messages, voicemails, and e-mail messages.

iPhone Synchronize Information

If you step back a pace or two to take in the big picture, you see that your iPhone deals with two broad types of data: media - all that audio and video stuff - and information such as contacts, appointments, e-mail, websites, and notes. You need both types of data to get the most out of your iPhone investment and, happily, both types of data are eminently syncable. I get to the media syncing portion of the show a bit later. For now, the next few sections show you how to take control of syncing your information between your iPhone and your computer.

Syncing your contacts

Although you can certainly add contacts directly on your iPhone - adding, editing, grouping, and deleting contacts is a lot easier on a computer. So, a good way to approach contacts is to manage them on your Mac or Windows PC, and then sync them with your iPhone.

However, do you really need to sync all your contacts? For example, if you only use your iPhone to contact friends and family, then why clog your phone's Contacts list with work contacts?

You can control which contacts are sent to your iPhone by creating groups of contacts and then syncing only those that you want. Here are some quickie instructions for creating groups:

  • Contacts (OS X Mountain Lion) or Address Book (earlier versions of OS X). Choose File → New Group, type the group name, and then press Return. Now populate the new group by dragging and dropping contacts on it.
  • Windows Contacts (Windows 8, Windows 7, and Windows Vista). Click New Contact Group, type the group name, and then click Add to Contact Group. Choose all the contacts you want in the group and then click Add. Click OK.

If you're an Outlook user, note that iTunes doesn't support Outlook-based contact groups, so you're stuck with syncing everyone in your Outlook Contacts folder. Also note that iTunes doesn't support the Windows 8 People app or Windows Live Mail at all, so you can't use those applications to sync your contacts.

With your group (or groups) all figured out, follow these steps to sync your contacts with your iPhone:

  1. Connect your iPhone to your computer.
  2. In iTunes, click your iPhone in the Devices list.
  3. Click the Info tab.
  4. Turn on contacts syncing by using one of the following techniques:
    • OS X Mountain Lion. Select the Sync Contacts check box.
    • Earlier versions of OS X. Select the Sync Address Book Contacts check box.
    • Windows. Select the Sync Contacts with check box, and then use the list to choose the program you want to use (such as Outlook). For Yahoo! contacts, see Step 7; for Google contacts, see Step 8.
  5. Select an option:
    • All contacts. Select this option to sync all your contacts.
    • Selected groups. Select this option to sync only the groups you pick. In the group list, select the check box beside each group that you want to sync.
  6. If you want to make the sync a two-way street, select the Add contacts created outside of groups on this iPhone to check box, and then choose a group from the menu.
  7. (Windows only) Use the Sync Contacts with list to select Yahoo! Address Book. Click Agree, type your Yahoo! ID and password, and click OK.
  8. In OS X, if you have a Google account and you also want your Google Contacts synced, select the Sync Google Contacts check box. In Windows, use the Sync Contacts with list to select Google Contacts. In either case, you then click Agree, type your Google username and password, and click OK.
  9. Click Apply. iTunes syncs the iPhone using your new contacts settings.

Syncing your calendar

When you're tripping around town with your trusty iPhone at your side, you certainly don't want to be late if you've got a date. The best way to ensure that you don't miss an appointment, meeting, or rendezvous is to always have the event details at hand, which means adding those details to your iPhone Calendar. You can add the appointment to Calendar right on the iPhone, but it's easier to create it on your computer and then sync it to your iPhone. This gives you the added advantage of having the appointment listed in two places, so you're sure to arrive on time.

Most people sync all appointments, but it's not unusual to keep track of separate schedules - for example, business and personal. You can control which schedule is synced to your iPhone by creating separate calendars and then syncing only those that you want. In the Calendar application on your Mac, choose File → New Calendar, type the calendar name, and then press Return.

Although you can create extra calendars in Outlook, iTunes doesn't recognize them, so you have to sync everything in your Outlook Calendar folder. Also, iTunes doesn't support Windows 8's Calendar app or Vista's Windows Calendar program, so you're out of luck if you use either application to manage your schedule.

Now follow these steps to sync your calendar with your iPhone:

  1. Connect your iPhone to your computer.
  2. In iTunes, click your iPhone in the Devices list.
  3. Click the Info tab.
  4. Turn on calendar syncing by using one of the following techniques:
    • OS X Mountain Lion. Select the Sync Calendars check box.
    • Earlier versions of OS X. Select the Sync iCal Calendars check box.
    • Windows. Select the Sync Calendars with check box, and then use the list to choose the program you want to use (such as Outlook).
  5. Select an option:
    • All calendars. Select this option to sync all your calendars.
    • Selected calendars. Select this option to sync only the calendars you pick. In the calendar list, select the check box beside each calendar that you want to sync.
  6. To control how far back the calendar sync goes, select the Do not sync events older than X days check box. Next, type the number of days of calendar history you want to see on your iPhone.
  7. Click Apply. iTunes syncs the iPhone using your new calendar settings.

Syncing your e-mail account

By far the easiest way to configure your iPhone with an e-mail account is to let iTunes do all the heavy lifting. If you have an existing account - whether it's a Mail account on your Mac or an Outlook or Windows Mail account on your PC - you can convince iTunes to gather all the account details and pass them along to your iPhone. Here's how it works:

  1. Connect your iPhone to your computer.
  2. In the iTunes Devices list, click the iPhone.
  3. Click the Info tab.
  4. In the Mail Accounts section, use one of the following techniques:
    • Mac. Select the Sync Mail Accounts check box, and then select the check box beside each account you want to add to your iPhone.
    • Windows. Select the Sync Mail Accounts from check box, select your e-mail program from the drop-down list, and then select the check box beside each account you want to add to your iPhone.
  5. Click Apply. You may see a message asking if AppleMobileSync can be allowed access to your keychain (your Mac's master password list).
  6. If you see that message, click Allow. iTunes begins syncing the selected e-mail account settings from your computer to your iPhone.

Syncing your bookmarks

The easiest way to get bookmarks for your favorite sites into your iPhone is to take advantage of your best bookmark resource: the Safari browser on your Mac (or PC) or the Internet Explorer browser on your Windows PC (which calls them Favorites). Whichever browser you prefer, you've probably used it for a while and have all kinds of useful and fun bookmarked sites at your metaphorical fingertips. To get these at your literal fingertips - that is, on your iPhone - you need to include bookmarks as part of the synchronization process between the iPhone and iTunes.

Having used Safari or Internet Explorer for a while means having lots of great sites bookmarked, but it also likely means that you've got lots of digital dreck - that is, sites you no longer visit or that have gone belly-up. Before synchronizing your bookmarks with the iPhone, consider taking some time to clean up your existing bookmarks. You'll thank yourself in the end.

Follow these steps to activate bookmark syncing:

  1. Connect your iPhone to your computer.
  2. In the iTunes Devices list, click the iPhone.
  3. Click the Info tab.
  4. Scroll down to the Other section, and then use one of the following techniques:
    • Mac. Select the Sync Safari bookmarks check box. Note that this is the OS X Lion version of the Other section; as I discuss next, you won't see the Sync Notes check box if you're running OS X Mountain Lion.
    • Windows. Select the Sync bookmarks with check box, and then select your web browser from the drop-down list.
  5. Click Apply. iTunes begins syncing the bookmarks from your computer to your iPhone.

Syncing your notes

If you use the Notes app on your iPhone to jot down quick thoughts, ideas, and other mental tidbits, you might want to transfer them to your computer so you can incorporate them into another document, add them to a to-do list, or whatever. To do this in early versions of the iPhone OS, you had to e-mail the notes to yourself, which wasn't exactly convenient. Now, however, notes are full-fledged members of the iPhone information pantheon, which means you can sync your notes to your computer.

Oddly, in OS X Mountain Lion, the latest version of iTunes for the Mac has removed the ability to sync items from the Notes app directly between your Mac and your iPhone. Instead, you must take the more indirect route of syncing your Mac and iPhone notes with your iCloud account:

  • Mac. Open System Preferences, click iCloud, and then select the Notes check box.
  • iPhone. Tap Settings, tap iCloud, and then tap the Notes switch to On.

You can still sync notes via iTunes if you're running an earlier version of OS X or if you're running Windows by following these steps:

  1. Connect your iPhone to your computer.
  2. In the iTunes Devices list, click the iPhone.
  3. Click the Info tab.
  4. Scroll down to the Other section and then use one of the following techniques:
    • Mac. Select the Sync notes check box.
    • Windows. Select the Sync notes with check box, and then select an application from the drop-down list (such as Outlook).
  5. Click Apply. iTunes begins syncing the notes between your computer and your iPhone.

Merging data from two or more computers

Long gone are the days when your information resided on a single computer. Now it's common to have a desktop computer (or two) at home, a work computer, and perhaps a notebook computer to take on the road. It's nice to have all that digital firepower, but it creates a big problem: you end up with contacts, calendars, and other information scattered over several machines. How are you supposed to keep track of it all?

The latest solution from Apple is iCloud, which provides seamless information integration across multiple computers (Mac and Windows) and, of course, the iPhone.

However, if you don't have an iCloud account, you can still achieve a bit of data harmony. That's because iTunes offers the welcome capability of merging information from two or more computers on the iPhone. For example, if you have contacts on your home computer, you can sync them with your iPhone. If you have a separate collection of contacts on your notebook, you can also sync them with your iPhone, but iTunes gives you two choices:

  • Merge Info. With this option, your iPhone keeps the information synced from the first computer and merges it with the information synced from the second.
  • Replace Info. With this option, your iPhone deletes the information synced from the first computer and replaces it with the information synced from the second.

Here are the general steps to follow to set up your merged information:

  1. Sync your iPhone with information from one computer. This technique works with contacts, calendars, e-mail accounts, and bookmarks.
  2. Connect your iPhone to the second computer.
  3. In iTunes, click your iPhone in the Devices list.
  4. Click the Info tab.
  5. Select the Sync check boxes that correspond with information already synced on the first computer. For example, if you synced contacts on the first computer, select the Sync Contacts check box.
  6. Click Apply. iTunes displays a dialog.
  7. Click Merge Info. iTunes syncs your iPhone and merges the second computer's information with the existing information from the first computer.

Handling sync conflicts

When you sync information between your iPhone and a computer, any edits you make to that information are included in the sync. For example, if you change someone's e-mail address on your iPhone, the next time you sync, iTunes updates the e-mail address on the computer, which is exactly what you want.

However, what if you already changed that person's address on the computer? If you made the same edit, then it's no biggie because there's nothing to sync. But what if you made a different edit? Ah, that's a problem, because now iTunes doesn't know which version has the correct information. In that case, it shrugs its digital shoulders and passes off the problem to a program called Conflict Resolver.

If you want to deal with the problem now, click Review Now. Conflict Resolver then offers you the details of the conflict. For example, a contact's work email address is different in Contacts and on the iPhone. To settle the issue once and for all (you hope), click the correct version of the information and then click Continue to move on to the next conflict. When you've gone through all the conflicts, click Done. When Conflict Resolver tells you it will fix the problem during the next sync, click Sync Now to make it happen right away.

Handling large iPhone-to-computer sync changes

Syncing works both ways, meaning that not only does your iPhone receive content from your computer, but your computer also receives content from your iPhone. For example, if you create any bookmarks, contacts, or appointments on your iPhone, those items are sent to your computer during the sync.

However, it's implied that the bulk of the content flows from your computer to your iPhone, which makes sense because, in most cases, it's easier to add, edit, and delete stuff on the computer. So that's why, if you make lots of changes to your iPhone content, iTunes displays a warning that the sync is going to, likewise, change a lot of the content on your computer. The threshold is 5 percent, which means that if the sync changes more than 5 percent of a particular type of content on your computer - such as bookmarks or calendars - the warning appears.

If you're expecting this (because you did change lots of stuff on your iPhone), click the Sync Whatever button (where Whatever is the type of data you want to sync: Bookmarks, Calendars, and so on). If you're not sure, click Show Details to see what the changes are. If you're still scratching your head, click Cancel to skip that part of the sync.

If you're running iTunes for Windows, you can either turn off this warning or adjust the threshold. (For some unfathomable reason, iTunes for Mac doesn't offer this handy option.) Follow these steps:

  1. Choose Edit → Preferences, or press Ctrl+, (comma). The iTunes dialog box appears.
  2. Click the Devices tab.
  3. If you want to disable the sync alerts altogether, deselect the Warn when check box. Otherwise, leave that check box selected and move on to Step 4.
  4. Use the Warn when percent of the data on the computer will be changed list to set the alert threshold, where percent is one of the following:
    • any. Select this option to see the sync alert whenever syncing with the iPhone will change data on your computer. iPhone syncs routinely modify data on the computer, so be prepared to see the alerts every time you sync. (Of course, that may be exactly what you want.)
    • more than X. Where X is 5% (the default), 25%, or 50%. You'll see the alert only when the sync will change more than the chosen percentage of data on the computer.
  5. Click OK to put the new settings into effect.

Replacing your iPhone data with fresh info

Once you know what you're doing, syncing contacts, calendars, e-mail accounts, and bookmarks to your iPhone is a relatively bulletproof procedure that should happen without a hitch each time. Of course, this is technology you're dealing with here, so hitches do happen every now and then. As a result, you might end up with corrupt or repeated information on your iPhone.

Or perhaps you've been syncing your iPhone with a couple of different computers, and you decide to cut one of the computers out of the loop and revert to a single machine for all your syncs.

In both of these scenarios, you need to replace the existing information on your iPhone with a freshly baked batch of data. Fortunately, iTunes has a feature that lets you do exactly that. Here's how it works:

  1. Connect your iPhone to your computer.
  2. In the iTunes Devices list, click the iPhone.
  3. Click the Info tab.
  4. Select the Sync check boxes for each type of information you want to work with (contacts, calendars, e-mail accounts, or bookmarks). If you don't select a check box, iTunes won't replace that information on your iPhone. For example, if you like your iPhone bookmarks just the way they are, don't select the Sync bookmarks check box.
  5. In the Advanced section, select the check box beside each type of information you want to replace. There are four check boxes: Contacts, Calendars, Mail Accounts, and Bookmarks.
  6. Click Apply. iTunes replaces the selected information on your iPhone.

If a check box in the Advanced section is disabled, it's because you didn't select the corresponding Sync check box. For example, the Sync Safari bookmarks check box in the Other section is deselected, so in the Advanced section, the Bookmarks check box is disabled.

iPhone Synchronizing Media

The brainy Phone app and the sleek Safari browser may earn the lion's share of kudos for the iPhone, but many people reserve their rave reviews for its Music app. The darn thing is just so versatile! It can play music, of course, but it also happily cranks out audiobooks and podcasts, as well as music videos, movies, and TV shows.

If there's a problem with this digital largesse, it's that the Music app might be too versatile. Even if you have a big 64GB iPhone, you may still find its confines a bit cramped, particularly if you're also loading up your iPhone with photos, contacts, and calendars, and you just can't seem to keep your hands out of the App Store cookie jar.

All this means is that you probably have to pay a bit more attention when it comes to syncing your iPhone, and the following sections show you how to do just that.

Syncing music and music videos

The Music app is a digital music player at heart, so you've probably already loaded up your iPhone with lots of audio content and music videos. To get the most out of the Music app's music and video capabilities, you need to know all the ways you can synchronize these items. For example, if you use the Music app primarily as a music player and your iPhone has more disk capacity than you need for all your digital audio, feel free to throw all your music onto the player. On the other hand, your iPhone might not have much free space, or you might only want certain songs and videos on the player to make it easier to navigate. Not a problem! You can configure iTunes to sync only the songs that you select.

Syncing playlists is that you can estimate in advance how much space your selected playlists will usurp on the iPhone. In iTunes, click the playlist and then examine the status bar, which tells you the number of songs in the playlist, its total duration, and - most significantly - its total size.

Before getting to the specific sync steps, you need to know that there are three ways to manually sync music and music videos:

  • Playlists. With this method, you specify the playlists that you want iTunes to sync. Those playlists also appear on your iPhone's Music app. This is by far the easiest way to manually sync music and music videos because you usually just have a few playlists to select. The downside is if you have large playlists and run out of space on your iPhone, the only way to fix the problem is to remove an entire playlist. Another bummer with this method is that you can only sync all or none of your music videos.
  • Check boxes. With this method, you specify which songs and music videos are synced by selecting the little check boxes that appear beside every song and video in iTunes. This is precise syncing for sure, but because your iPhone can hold thousands of songs, it's also a lot of work.
  • Drag and drop. With this method, you click and drag individual songs and music videos, and drop them on the iPhone icon in the iTunes Devices list. This is an easy way to get a bunch of tracks on your iPhone quickly. However, iTunes doesn't give you any way of tracking which files you've dragged and dropped.

What do you do if you only want to select a few tracks from a large playlist? Waste a big chunk of your life deselecting a few hundred check boxes? Pass. Here's a better way: Press ?+A (Mac) or Ctrl+A (Windows) to select every track, right-click any track, and then click Uncheck Selection. iTunes deselects every track in seconds flat. Now you can select only the tracks you want. You're welcome.

Here are the steps to follow to sync music and music videos using playlists:

  1. In iTunes, click your iPhone in the Devices list.
  2. Click the Music tab.
  3. Select the Sync Music check box. iTunes asks you to confirm that you want to sync music.
  4. Click Sync Music.
  5. Select the Selected playlists, artists, albums, and genres option.
  6. Select the check box beside each playlist, artist, album, and genre you want to sync.
  7. Select the Include music videos check box if you also want to add your music videos into the sync mix.
  8. Select the Include voice memos check box if you also want to sync voice memos recorded on your iPhone.

    If you have lots of music that has been ripped at a high bit rate (say, 256 Kbps or higher), those songs will take up a lot of space on your iPhone. To fix this, click the Summary tab and then select the Convert higher bit rate songs to X AAC check box, where X is the converted bit rate you want to use: 128, 192, or 256 Kbps.

  9. If you want iTunes to fill up any remaining free space on your iPhone with a selection of related music from your Library, select the Automatically fill free space with songs check box.
  10. Click Apply. iTunes syncs your iPhone using the new settings.

Here are the steps to follow to sync using the check boxes that appear beside each track in your iTunes Music Library:

  1. In iTunes, click your iPhone in the Devices list.
  2. Click the Summary tab.
  3. Select the Sync only checked songs and videos check box.
  4. Click Apply. If iTunes starts syncing your iPhone, click the Cancel button (X) in the iTunes status window to stop it.
  5. Either click Music in the Library list or click a playlist that contains the tracks you want to sync. If a track's check box is selected, iTunes syncs it with your iPhone. If a track's check box is deselected, iTunes doesn't sync it with your iPhone. If the track is already on your iPhone, iTunes removes it.
  6. In the Devices list, click your iPhone.
  7. Click the Summary tab.
  8. Click Sync. iTunes syncs just the selected tracks.

If you download a music video from the web and then import it into iTunes (by choosing File ? Import), iTunes adds the video to its Movies library. To display it in the Music library instead, open the Movies library, right-click the music video, and then click Get Info. Click the Video tab and use the Kind list to choose Music Video. Click OK. iTunes moves the music video to the Music folder.

You can also configure iTunes to let you drag tracks from the Music library (or any playlist) and drop them on your iPhone. Here's how this works:

  1. In iTunes, click your iPhone in the Devices list.
  2. Click the Summary tab.
  3. Select the Manually manage music and videos check box.

    When you select the Manually manage music and videos check box, iTunes automatically deselects the Sync music check box in the Music tab. However, iTunes doesn't mess with the music on your iPhone. Even when it syncs after a drag and drop, it only adds the new tracks - it doesn't delete any of your phone's existing music.

  4. Click Apply. If iTunes starts syncing your iPhone, click the Cancel button (X) in the iTunes status window.
  5. Either click Music in the Library list or click a playlist that contains the tracks you want to sync.
  6. Choose the tracks you want to sync:
    • If all the tracks are together, Shift+click the first track, hold down Shift, and then click the last track.
    • If the tracks are scattered all over the place and click each track.
  7. Click and drag the selected tracks to the Devices list and drop them on the iPhone icon. iTunes syncs the selected tracks.

If you decide to return to playlist syncing by selecting the Sync music check box in the Music tab, iTunes removes all tracks that you added to your iPhone via the drag-and-drop method.

Syncing podcasts

In many ways, podcasts are the most problematic of the various media you can sync with your iPhone. Not that the podcasts themselves pose any concern. Quite the contrary: they're so addictive that it's not unusual to collect them by the dozens. Why is that a problem? Because most professional podcasts are at least a few megabytes in size and many are tens of megabytes. A large-enough collection can put a serious dent in your iPhone's remaining storage space.

All the more reason to take control of the podcast syncing process. Here's how you do it:

  1. In iTunes, click your iPhone in the Devices list.
  2. Click the Podcasts tab.
  3. Select the Sync Podcasts check box.
  4. If you want iTunes to choose some of the podcasts automatically, select the Automatically include check box and proceed to Steps 5 and 6. If you prefer to choose all the podcasts manually, deselect the Automatically include check box and skip to Step 7.
  5. Choose an option from the first pop-up menu:
    • All. Choose this item to sync every podcast.
    • X most recent. Choose this item to sync the X most recent podcasts (where X is a number you choose).
    • All unplayed. Choose this item to sync all the podcasts you haven't yet played.
    • X most recent unplayed. Choose this item to sync the X most recent podcasts that you haven't yet played.
    • X least recent unplayed. Choose this item to sync the X oldest podcasts that you haven't yet played.
    • All new. Choose this item to sync all the podcasts published since the last sync.
    • X most recent new. Choose this item to sync the X most recent podcasts published since the last sync.
    • X least recent new. Choose this item to sync the X oldest podcasts published since the last sync.

      A podcast episode is unplayed if you haven't yet played at least part of it, either in iTunes or on your iPhone. If you play an episode on your iPhone, the player sends this information to iTunes when you next sync. Even better, your iPhone also lets iTunes know if you paused in the middle of an episode, so when you play that episode in iTunes, it starts at the point where you left off.

  6. Choose an option from the second pop-up menu:
    • All podcasts. Select this to apply the option from Step 5 to all your podcasts.
    • Selected podcasts. Select this to apply the option from Step 5 only to the podcasts you select.
  7. Select the check box beside any podcast or podcast episode you want to sync.
  8. Click Apply. iTunes syncs the iPhone using your new podcast settings.

To mark a podcast episode as unplayed, in iTunes choose the Podcasts library, right-click the episode, and then choose Mark as New.

Syncing audiobooks

The iTunes sync settings for your iPhone have tabs for Music, Photos, Podcasts, and Video, but not one for Audiobooks. What's up with that? It's not, as you might think, some sort of antibook conspiracy or even forgetfulness on the part of Apple. Instead, iTunes treats audiobook content as a special type of book (not surprisingly). To get audiobooks on your iPhone, follow these steps:

  1. In iTunes, click your iPhone in the Devices list.
  2. Click the Books tab.
  3. Select the Sync Audiobooks check box.
  4. Select the Selected audiobooks option.
  5. Select the check box beside each audiobook you want to sync.
  6. Click Apply. iTunes syncs your audiobooks to your iPhone.

Syncing movies

It wasn't all that long ago when technology prognosticators and pundits laughed at the idea of people watching movies on a 2-inch by 3-inch screen. Who could stand to watch even a music video on such a tiny screen? The pundits were wrong, of course, because now it's not at all unusual for people to use their iPhones to watch not only music videos but also short films, animated shorts, and even full-length movies.

The major problem with movies is that their file size tends to be quite large - even short films lasting just a few minutes weigh in at dozens of megabytes, and full-length movies are several gigabytes. Clearly there's a compelling need to manage your movies to avoid filling up your iPhone and leaving no room for the latest album from your favorite band.

Follow these steps to configure and run the movie synchronization:

  1. In iTunes, click your iPhone in the Devices list.
  2. Click the Movies tab.
  3. Select the Sync Movies check box. iTunes asks you to confirm that you want to sync movies.
  4. Click Sync Movies.
  5. If you want iTunes to choose some of the movies automatically, select the Automatically include check box and proceed to Step 6. If you prefer to choose all the movies manually, deselect the Automatically include check box and skip to Step 7.
  6. Choose an option from the pop-up menu:
    • All. Choose this item to sync every movie.
    • X most recent. Choose this item to sync the X most recent movies you've added to iTunes (where X is a number you choose).
    • All unwatched. Choose this item to sync all the movies you haven't yet played.
    • X most recent unwatched. Choose this item to sync the X most recent movies you haven't yet played.
    • X least recent unwatched. Choose this item to sync the X oldest movies you haven't yet played.
  7. Select the check box beside any other movie you want to sync.

    A movie is unwatched if you haven't yet viewed it either in iTunes or on your iPhone. If you watch a movie on your iPhone, the player sends this information to iTunes when you next sync.

  8. If you want to watch rented movies on your iPhone, in the Rented Movies section, click the Move button beside the rented movie you want to shift to your iPhone. iTunes adds it to the On iPhone list (where iPhone is the name of your iPhone).
  9. Click Apply. iTunes syncs the iPhone using your new movie settings.

Syncing TV show episodes

If the average iPhone is at risk of being filled by a few large movie files, it's probably also at grave risk of being overwhelmed by a large number of TV show episodes. A single half-hour episode can eat up approximately 250MB, with HD versions weighing in at closer to 650MB, so even a modest collection of shows will consume multiple gigabytes of precious iPhone space.

This means it's crucial to monitor your TV episode collection and keep your iPhone synced with only the episodes you need. Fortunately, iTunes gives you a decent set of tools to handle this:

  1. In iTunes, click your iPhone in the Devices list.
  2. Click the TV Shows tab.
  3. Select the Sync TV Shows check box. iTunes asks you to confirm that you want to sync TV shows.
  4. Click Sync TV Shows.
  5. If you want iTunes to choose some of the episodes automatically, select the Automatically include check box and proceed to Steps 6 and 7. If you prefer to choose all the episodes manually, deselect the Automatically include check box and skip to Step 8.
  6. Choose an option from the pop-up menu:
    • All. Choose this item to sync every TV show episode.
    • X newest. Choose this item to sync the X most recent episodes (where X is a number you choose).
    • All unwatched. Choose this item to sync all the episodes you haven't yet viewed.
    • X newest unwatched. Choose this item to sync the X most recent episodes that you haven't yet viewed.
    • X oldest unwatched. Choose this item to sync the X oldest episodes that you haven't yet viewed.

      A TV episode is unwatched if you haven't yet viewed it either in iTunes or on your iPhone. If you watch an episode on your iPhone, the player sends this information to iTunes when you next sync.

  7. Choose an option from the second pop-up menu:
    • All shows. Select this option to apply the choice from Step 6 to all your TV shows.
    • Selected shows. Select this option to apply the choice from Step 6 to only the TV shows you select.
  8. Select the check box beside any TV show or episode you want to sync.

To mark a TV episode as unwatched, in iTunes choose the TV Shows library, right-click the episode, and then choose Mark as New.

Syncing e-books

If you've used your computer to purchase e-books from the iTunes Store or to add some downloaded e-books to the iTunes library, you'll want to get those onto your iPhone as soon as possible. Similarly, if you've grabbed some e-books from the iBookstore on your iPhone, it's a good idea to back them up to your computer.

You can do both by syncing e-books between your computer and your iPhone:

  1. In iTunes, click your iPhone in the Devices list.
  2. Click the Books tab.
  3. Select the Sync Books check box.
  4. In the book list, select the check box beside each book that you want to sync.
  5. Click Apply. iTunes syncs the iPhone using your new books settings.
  6. Click Apply. iTunes syncs the iPhone using your new TV show settings.

Syncing computer photos to your iPhone

No media collection on an iPhone is complete without a few choice photos to show off around the water cooler. One way to get those photos is to take them with the built-in digital cameras on your iPhone. However, if you have some good pics on your computer, you can use iTunes to send them to the iPhone. Note that Apple supports a number of image file types in addition to the most common TIFF and JPEG formats, including BMP, GIF, JPG2000 or JP2, PICT, PNG, PSD, and SGI.

If you have another photo-editing application installed on your computer, chances are it will also appear in the Sync photos from list.

If you use your computer to process lots of photos and you want to take copies of some (or all) of them with you on your iPhone, then follow these steps to sync them:

  1. In iTunes, click your iPhone in the Devices list.
  2. Click the Photos tab.
  3. Select the Sync Photos from check box.
  4. Choose an option from the pop-up menu:
    • iPhoto (Mac only). Choose this item to sync the photos, albums, and events you've set up in iPhoto.
    • Choose folder. Choose this command to sync the images contained in a folder you specify.
    • Pictures (or My Pictures in some versions of Windows). Choose this item to sync the images in the Pictures (or My Pictures) folder.
  5. Select the photos you want to sync. The controls you see depend on what you chose in Step 4:
    • If you chose iPhoto. In this case, you get two further options: Select the All photos, albums, Events, and Faces option to sync your entire iPhoto library. Select the Selected albums, Events, and Faces option, and then select the check box beside each item you want to sync.
    • If you chose either Pictures or Choose folder. In this case, select either the All photos option or the Selected folders option. If you select the latter, select the check box beside each subfolder you want to sync.
  6. Click Apply. iTunes syncs the iPhone using your new photo settings.

iTunes doesn't sync exact copies of your photos to the iPhone. Instead, it creates what Apple calls TV-quality versions of each image. These are copies of the images that have been reduced in size to match the iPhone screen size. This not only makes the sync go faster, but it also means the photos take up much less room on your iPhone.

Syncing iPhone photos to your computer

If you create a Safari bookmark on your iPhone and then sync with your computer, that bookmark is transferred from the iPhone to the default web browser on your computer. That's a sweet deal, and it also applies to contacts and appointments. Unfortunately, it doesn't apply to media files that, with one exception, travel along a one-way street from your computer to your iPhone.

But then there's that one exception, and it's a good one. If you take any photos using your iPhone's built-in cameras, the sync process reverses itself and enables you to send some (or all) of those images to your computer.

Actually, there's a second exception to the one-way media syncing rule. If you use the iTunes app on your iPhone to purchase or download music, those files are transferred to your computer during the next sync. iTunes creates a Store category called Purchased on iPhone (where iPhone is the name of your iPhone). When the sync is complete, you can find your music there, as well as in the Music library.

The iPhone-to-computer sync process bypasses iTunes entirely. Instead, your computer deals directly with your iPhone and treats it just as though it was some garden-variety digital camera. How this works depends on whether your computer is a Mac or a Windows PC, so I use separate sets of steps.

To sync your iPhone camera photos to your Mac, follow these steps:

  1. Connect your iPhone to your Mac. iPhoto opens, adds your iPhone to the Devices list, and displays the photos from your iPhone's Camera Roll album.
  2. Use the Add event name text box to name the event that these photos represent.
  3. If you don't want iPhoto to split the synced photos into multiple events based on the date each photo was taken, deselect the Split Events check box.
  4. Choose how you want to import the photos:
    • If you want to import every photo, click Import X Photos, where X is the number of photos in your iPhone's Camera Roll. Technically, it's the number of photos in your iPhone's Camera Roll that you haven't previously imported. Any photos that you've already imported appear separately in the Already Imported section.
    • If you want to import only some of the photos, select those you want and then click Import Selected.
  5. Using the dialog that appears after the import is complete, choose what you want iPhoto to do with the photos on your iPhone:
    • If you want to leave the photos on your iPhone, click Keep Photos.
    • If you prefer to clear the photos from your iPhone, click Delete Photos.

Here's how things work if you're syncing with a Windows 8 or Windows 7 PC (these steps assume you've installed Windows Live Photo Gallery from the Windows Live Essentials site):

If you don't have Windows Live Photo Gallery installed, you can still access your iPhone photos in Windows 8 or 7. In Windows 8, click Desktop, click Windows Explorer, and then click Computer; in Windows 7, choose Start ? Computer. Double-click your iPhone in the Portable Devices group. Open the Internal Storage folder, then the DCIM folder, and then the folder that appears (which will have a name such as 800AAAAA). Your iPhone photos appear and you can then copy them to your computer.

  1. Connect your iPhone to your Windows PC.
  2. Open Windows Live Photo Gallery.
  3. Choose Home ? Import. The Import Photos and Videos dialog box appears.
  4. Click the icon for your iPhone, and then click Import. Windows Live Photo Gallery connects to your iPhone to gather the photo information.
  5. Select the Import all new Items now option. If you'd prefer to select the photos you want to import, select the Review, organize and group Items to import option. Then click Next, use the dialog box to choose the photos you want, and skip to Step 7.
  6. Type a tag for the photos. A tag is a word or short phrase that identifies the photos.
  7. Click Import. Windows Live Photo Gallery imports the photos.

Here's how things work if you're syncing with a Windows Vista PC:

  1. Connect your iPhone to your Windows Vista PC. The AutoPlay dialog box appears.
  2. Click Import pictures using Windows. The rest of these steps assume you selected this option. However, if you have another photo-management application installed, it should appear in the AutoPlay list. Click it to import photos via that program.
  3. Type a tag for the photos. A tag is a word or short phrase that identifies the photos.
  4. Click Import. Vista imports the photos and then opens Windows Photo Gallery to display them.

Configuring your computer not to download photos from your iPhone means that in the future, you'll either need to reverse the setting to get photos or manually import them.

Syncing photos via iCloud

Syncing photos from your computer isn't difficult, but it seems more than a little old-fashioned in this increasingly wireless age. Fortunately, if you have an iCloud account, you can place your feet firmly in the modern era by using the Photo Stream feature to sync photos without even looking at a USB cable. Photo Stream automatically syncs photos you take using your iPhone cameras to your iCloud account, which then downloads them to your computer, your iPad, or any other device associated with your account. Similarly, if you upload photos to iCloud using another device, those photos are synced automatically to your iPhone.

Follow these steps to activate Photo Stream on your iPhone:

  1. In the iPhone Home screen, tap Settings. The Settings app appears.
  2. Tap Photos & Camera.
  3. Tap the My Photo Stream switch to On.

Preventing your iPhone from sendingphotos to your computer

Each time you connect your iPhone to your computer, you see iPhoto (on your Mac), the AutoPlay dialog box (in Windows 8, 7, or Vista), or the Scanner and Camera Wizard (in Windows XP). This is certainly convenient if you actually want to send photos to your computer, but you might find that you only do that once in a blue moon. In that case, having to deal with iPhoto or a dialog box every time could cause even the most mild-mannered among us to start pulling hair out.

If you prefer to keep your hair, you can configure your computer not to pester you about getting photos from your iPhone.

Here's how you set this up on your Mac:

  1. Choose Launchpad → Other → Image Capture. The Image Capture application opens.
  2. In the Devices list, click your iPhone.
  3. Click the Connecting this iPhone opens menu, and then choose No application.
  4. Choose Image Capture → Quit Image Capture. Image Capture saves the new setting and then shuts down. The next time you connect your iPhone, iPhoto ignores it.

Follow these steps to convince Windows 8, Windows 7, and Windows Vista not to open the AutoPlay dialog box each time you connect your iPhone:

  1. Open the Default Programs window:
    • Windows 8. In the Start screen, type default and then click Default Programs.
    • Windows 7 or Windows Vista. Choose Start ? Default Programs to open the Default Programs window.
  2. Click Change AutoPlay settings. The AutoPlay dialog box appears.
  3. In the Devices section, open the Apple iPhone list and choose Take no action.
  4. Click Save. Windows saves the new setting. The next time you connect your iPhone, you won't be bothered by the AutoPlay dialog box.

Syncing media with two or more computers

It's a major drag, but you can't sync the same type of content to your iPhone from more than one computer. For example, suppose you're syncing photos from your desktop computer. If you then connect your iPhone to another computer (your notebook, for example), crank up iTunes, and then select the Sync photos from check box, iTunes coughs up the dialog. As you can see, iTunes is telling you that if you go ahead with the photo sync on this computer, it will blow away all your existing iPhone photos and albums!

So there's no chance of syncing the same iPhone with two different computers, right? Not so fast, my friend! Let's try another thought experiment. Suppose you're syncing your iPhone with your desktop computer, but you're not syncing movies. Once again, you connect your iPhone to your notebook computer (or whatever), crank up iTunes, and then select the Sync movies check box. Hey, no ominous warning dialog! What gives?

The deal here is that if iTunes sees that you don't have any examples of a particular type of content (such as movies) on your iPhone, it lets you sync that type of content, no questions asked.

In other words, you can sync your iPhone with multiple computers, although in a roundabout kind of way. The secret is to have no overlapping content types on the various computers you use for the syncing. For example, let's say you have a home desktop computer, a notebook computer, and a work desktop computer. Here's a sample scenario for syncing your iPhone with all three machines:

  • Home desktop (music and video only). Select the Sync Music check box in the Music tab, and select the Sync Movies check box in the Movies tab. Deselect the Sync Photos and Sync Podcasts check boxes on the Photos and Podcasts tabs, respectively.
  • Notebook (photos only). Select the Sync Photos check box on the Photos tab. Deselect all the Sync check boxes in the Music, Podcasts, and Movies tabs.
  • Work desktop (podcasts only). Select the Sync Podcasts check box in the Podcasts tab. Deselect the Sync check boxes in the Music, Photos, and Movies tabs.

iPhone iOS7 Tech Tricks



CUPERTINO, Calif. (AP) -- Apple's new iPhones and iOS 7 operating system for mobile devices are packed with new features, although not of all them are readily apparent. I've had a chance to learn a few tricks in the week I spent with both the iPhone 5C and the iPhone 5S, which come with iOS 7 installed.

Here are five things to know if you download the software on one of Apple's older mobile devices starting Wednesday or buy a new iPhone starting Friday. The update is available for free for the iPhone 4, 4S and 5 models, the iPad 2 and later, the iPad Mini and the iPod Touch released last year. You'll need about 3 gigabytes of free storage.



Many of the improvements added to iOS 7 are delivered after swiping from various edges of the screen. This redesign is meant to make it easier to navigate, but there is no guide for knowing when and how to swipe. Fortunately, you can still use an iPhone the traditional way, by tapping on an icon or button, even if you don't learn all the new ways to swipe.

As a general rule of thumb, keep swiping from various edges to see what happens. If you discover something neat, remember it for next time. Swiping may produce different results if you're in the lock screen, the home screen or an app.

Here's a guide to the basic swipes:

— From the lock screen, swipe up from the bottom right corner to access the camera. This is a holdover from iOS 6.

— Whether locked or unlocked, swipe up from anywhere else along the bottom edge to get the Control Center. It gives you easy access to frequently accessed settings such as Airplane Mode and Wi-Fi. It also gets you to key apps such as the flashlight feature and the clock, for timing how long the turkey needs to be in the oven. There's a volume control, but only for audio and video playback. You need the volume buttons for the ringer and alerts.

— Swipe down from the top edge to get the Notification Center. You'll see the day's highlights, including the weather, appointments and stock quotes. Tap on "All" or "Missed" near the top to get recent notifications from Gmail, Facebook and other services.

— Swipe down from anywhere else on the screen to get a search box.

— From various Apple apps, try swiping from the left or the right. Not every app will respond, but many will. With the Safari browser, for instance, you can use the left and right swipes in place of the back and forward buttons.



The new Photos app organizes your photos into moments, based on when and where you took the photos. Several moments will be grouped into a collection, such as a vacation to Europe. Collections will then be grouped by year. It's all automated, so you can't reorganize shots if you would rather break a collection into two. But it's better than having hundreds of unorganized photos.

From any moment, collection or year, click on the header on top of the photos to pull out a map showing all the places you've been, with the number of shots taken at each. You can share entire moments, by hitting "Share" on the right side of that header. A menu should pop out from the bottom. It's tricky because it's easy to miss and hit "Select" above it instead.

Once you have the moment or set of photos chosen, another menu will pop out from the bottom, giving you such choices as sharing by email, Facebook, Flickr or text messaging.



Frustrated with Siri's inability to hear what you're trying to say? Instead of repeating yourself over and over, you can click "tap to edit" to make the change manually. You shouldn't have to with voice search, but fixing one letter is still easier than having to type in the entire phrase.

Just for fun, you can give Siri a sex change by going to the settings, choosing "General," then "Siri," then "Voice Gender." You can now use Siri to change phone settings and return recent calls. And Siri will speak out turn-by-turn directions when walking. Before, the vocal instructions were limited to driving directions in Maps.



Apple's new streaming music service, iTunes Radio, is easy to find. Click on the Music icon at the bottom of each home screen, then choose "Radio" at the bottom. Create music stations by choosing some genres you like. Then fine-tune your picks by hitting the star when a tune is playing. You can ask the service to play more songs like it or remove that song from future playlists entirely. You can also create new stations based on specific songs or artists. The service will try to find other songs like them.

Best of all, it's free. Just prepare to put up with some ads, unless you subscribe to Apple's iTunes Match for $25 a year.

Meanwhile, you might qualify for some free apps — Pages for word processing, Numbers for spreadsheets, Keynote for presentations, iPhoto for photo editing and iMovie for movie editing. They usually cost $5 or $10 each. To qualify, you need to buy a new iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch. The offer is retroactive to Sept. 1. Once a new device is activated, the app can be downloaded for free to other devices on the same account, as long as the device is upgraded to iOS 7.



With the new fingerprint ID system on the iPhone 5S, there's no longer a reason to avoid protecting your phone with a passcode. I know passcodes can be very disruptive. I've often lost my train of thought before I could get to an app to jot something down. But your fingerprint now bypasses the need to type in a four-digit code in many situations.

It's easy to set up. The iPhone will walk you through scanning one finger when you set up the phone. You can scan four more fingers — yours or someone else's — by going to the settings. Go to "General," then "Passcode & Fingerprint."

I'm still confronted with passcode screens, especially when I need to authenticate an app purchase. It took me a few days to realize that even though you're asked for a passcode, the fingerprint usually works unless the phone specifically tells you otherwise.

One more thing: The screen needs to be on for the fingerprint sensor to work. To save a step, just press on the home button firmly and let the button pop back up. But keep your finger lightly touching the button's surface. The hard press will activate the screen, and the light touch will unlock the phone.


Anick Jesdanun, deputy technology editor for The Associated Press, can be reached at