alphadogg writes "A second federal bill that proposes 'kill-switch' technology be made mandatory in smartphones as a means to reduce theft of the devices was introduced Monday. The kill switch would allow consumers to remotely wipe and disable a stolen smartphone and is considered by proponents to be a key tool in combating the increasing number of smartphone robberies. The Smartphone Theft Prevention Act was introduced into the U.S. House of Representatives as H.R. 4065 by Jose Serrano, a New York Democrat, as a companion to a Senate bill that was introduced Feb. 13. The two follow a similar law proposed by officials in California last month."
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An anonymous reader writes "A village in the West Papua central highlands runs a telecom network out of a box latched to a tree. The network runs on open source. 'OpenBTS, an all-software cellular transceiver, is at the heart of the network running on that box attached to a treetop. Someday, if those working with the technology have their way, it could do for mobile networks what TCP/IP and open source did for the Internet. The dream is to help mobile break free from the confines of telephone providers' locked-down spectrum, turning it into a platform for the development of a whole new range of applications that use spectrum "white space" to connect mobile devices of every kind. It could also democratize telecommunications around the world in unexpected ways. ... It is a 2G GSM system with two operating channels (GSM absolute radio-frequency channel numbers, or ARFCNs) in the 900MHz range, putting out 10 watts of signal power from an omnidirectional antenna. That gives the system a range of about five kilometers under ideal conditions, but in reality it averages about a three kilometer range because of vegetation and terrain (1.86 miles to 3.10 miles). The whole system is installed in a weatherproof box up a tree and draws less than 80 watts of power.'"
jfruh writes "Steven R. Spriggs was ticketed and fined $165 for violating California's law on cell phone use while operating a motor vehicle, which states that you can only use a phone while driving if you have a hands-free device. But he appealed the judgement, arguing that the law only applied to actually talking on the phone, whereas he had been caught checking his GPS app. Now an appeals court has agreed with him. The law in question was enacted in 2006, before the smartphone boom."
mpicpp writes "It looks thicker than most of the phones you see at Best Buy, but Boeing's first smartphone isn't meant to be used by the average person. The company that's known for its airplanes is joining the smartphone game with the Boeing Black, targeted at people that work in the security and defense industry. One of its security features is self-destructing if it gets into the wrong hands, although not quite in the Mission Impossible sense. According to the company's letter to the FCC, the phone will have screws with a tamper-proof coating, revealing if a person has tried to disassemble it. 'Any attempt to disassemble the device would trigger functions that would delete the data and software contained within the device and make the device inoperable,' writes Bruce Olcott, an attorney for Boeing."
An anonymous reader writes "Earlier this week, Google Android chief Sundar Pichai spoke at the Mobile World Congress where he explained, rather bluntly, that Android is designed to be open more so than it's designed to be safe. He also added that if he were a hacker today, he too would focus most of his efforts on Android on account of its marketshare position." Related: wiredmikey writes "Boeing is launching 'Boeing Black phone,' a self-destructing Android-based smartphone that the company says has no serviceable parts, and any attempted servicing or replacing of parts would destroy the product. 'Any attempt to break open the casing of the device would trigger functions that would delete the data and software contained within the device and make the device inoperable,' the company explained. ... The device should not be confused with the new encrypted Blackphone, developed by the U.S. secure communications firm Silent Circle with Spanish manufacturer Geeksphone."
An anonymous reader writes "Jeff Atwood, co-founder of Stack Overflow, says the mobile app ecosystem is getting out of hand. 'Your platform now has a million apps? Amazing! Wonderful! What they don't tell you is that 99% of them are awful junk that nobody would ever want.' Atwood says most companies trying to figure out how to get users to install their app should instead be figuring out just why they need a mobile app in the first place. Fragmentation is another issue, as mobile devices continue to speciate and proliferate. 'Unless you're careful to build equivalent apps in all those places, it's like having multiple parallel Internets. "No, sorry, it's not available on that Internet, only the iOS phone Internet." Or even worse, only on the United States iOS phone Internet.' Monetization has turned into a race to the bottom, and it's led to worries about just what an app will do with the permissions it's asking for. Atwood concludes, 'The tablet and phone app ecosystem is slowly, painstakingly reinventing everything I hated about the computer software industry before the web blew it all up.'"
alphadogg writes "U.S. cellphone carriers were offered a technology last year that supporters say would dramatically cut incidents of smartphone theft, but the carriers turned it down, according to sources with knowledge of the proposal. The so-called 'kill-switch' software allows consumers to remotely wipe and render their phones useless if stolen. Law enforcement and politicians believe the incentive for stealing a smartphone or tablet would be greatly reduced if the technology became standard, because the devices could quickly be rendered useless. A proposal by Samsung to the five largest U.S. carriers would have made the LoJack software, developed by Canada's Absolute Software, a standard component on many of its Android phones in the U.S. The proposal followed pressure from the offices of the San Francisco District Attorney and the New York Attorney General for the industry to do more to prevent phone theft."
squiggleslash writes "Despite some industry skepticism, Nokia has indeed been working on an Android smartphone and finally unveiled the Nokia X today. As rumored, it's not a Google Play compatible device, running instead a Google-less AOSP build with a Nokia app store, and Windows Phone style shell. The budget phone will also not be marketed in North America. The Media seems convinced Microsoft — who are in the process of acquiring Nokia — will kill the project, but it's hard to see why Nokia would be working on such a project at this time if Microsoft had plans to do this."
Nerval's Lobster writes "Google's Advanced Technology and Projects Group is working on a new initiative, Project Tango, which could allow developers to quickly map objects and interiors in 3D. At the heart of Project Tango is a prototype smartphone with a 5-inch screen, packed with hardware and software optimized to take 3D measurements of the surrounding environment. The associated development APIs can feed tons of positioning and orientation data to Android applications written in Java, C/C++, and the Unity Game Engine. In addition to a 'standard' 4-megapixel camera, the device features a motion-tracking camera and an aperture for integrated depth sensing; integrated into the circuitry are two computer-vision processors. Google claims it only has 200 developer units in stock, and it's willing to give them to independent developers who can submit a detailed idea for a project involving 3D mapping of some sort. The deadline for unit distribution is March 14, 2014. In theory, developers could use ultra-portable 3D mapping to create better maps, visualizations, and games. ('What if you could search for a product and see where the exact shelf is located in a super-store?' Google's Website asks at one point.) The bigger question is what Google intends to do with the technology if it proves effective. Google Maps with super-detailed interiors, anyone?"
An anonymous reader writes "Sailfish, the Linux-based mobile operating system developed by Finnish devicemaker Jolla, has reached version 1.0. Sailfish arose from the ashes of several failed and interrupted projects to bring a new, major Linux-based platform to mobile devices. It's already running on phones sold in India and Russia, but more importantly, Sailfish was designed to be easily ported to existing Android devices. It's also built to support many Android apps. Jolla will begin providing complete firmware downloads during the first half of the year."
An anonymous reader writes "Mark Shuttleworth just had a conference call with the press where he announced Canonical has partnered with BQ in Europe and Meizu in China to manufacture Ubuntu phones that will ship in 2014. By the time devices ship, the hope is to have ports of the top 50 Android and iOS apps available on Ubuntu." Mark Shuttleworth notes "The mobile industry has long been looking for a viable alternative to those that reign today. Ubuntu puts the control back into the hands of our partners and presents an exciting platform for consumers, delivering an experience which departs from the tired app icon grid of Android and iOS and provides a fluid, content-rich experience for all."
An anonymous reader writes "Beyond your smartphone screen lies an infinitely more interesting world, if only you could get past the myopic app view you're currently bound to. Glen Martin ponders the existential unease lying at the root of the Internet of Things: 'We're already cyborgs: biological matrices augmented by wirelessly connected silicon arrays of various configurations. The problem is that we're pretty clunky as cyborgs go. We rely on screens and mobile devices to extend our powers beyond the biological. That leads to everything from atrophying social skills as face-to-face interactions decline to fatal encounters with garbage trucks as we wander, texting and oblivious, into traffic. So, if we're going to be cyborgs, argues Breseman, let's be competent, sophisticated cyborgs. For one thing, it's now in our ability to upgrade beyond the screen. For another, being better cyborgs may make us — paradoxically — more human.'"
alphadogg writes "Pressure on the cellphone industry to introduce technology that could disable stolen smartphones has intensified with the introduction of proposed federal legislation that would mandate such a system. Senate bill 2032, 'The Smartphone Prevention Act,' was introduced to the U.S. Senate this week by Amy Klobuchar, a Minnesota Democrat. The bill promises technology that allows consumers to remotely wipe personal data from their smartphones and render them inoperable. But how that will be accomplished is currently unclear. The full text of the bill was not immediately available and the offices of Klobuchar and the bill's co-sponsors were all shut down Thursday due to snow in Washington, D.C."
puddingebola writes "Nokia is preparing to release its first Android phone, as the lost market share in emerging markets from the death of Symbian has never been recovered. Windows Phone could never be adapted to the entry level devices that have driven growth in these markets, necessitating the move. From the article, 'Nokia was once the king of cellphones in emerging markets. But it has lost ground because it was slow to respond to Android's popularity in many countries. In India, where Nokia's Symbian-powered phones held a big share of cellphone sales just a few years ago, Android was installed on 93% of new smartphones shipped there last year, according to estimates from research firm IDC.'"
An anonymous reader tips news that the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee has approved a bill that would ban voice calls from mobile devices on airplanes. The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Bill Shuster (R-PA), now goes to the full House of Representatives for a vote. Similar efforts are underway in the Senate. There was no opposition to Shuster's bill in the House committee, and the FCC received a flood of support for such a measure when they asked for public comment. In an op-ed published Monday, Shuster wrote, "In today’s world, enriched as it is by technology, we are bombarded by data, opinions, and potential distractions. Few limits to this flow of information are necessary, partly because people can typically turn it off, disconnect from it, or go elsewhere if they choose. But in the close confines of an airplane cabin – where passengers will still be able to use their mobile devices for texting, emailing, working, and more – there is no chance to opt out. So for those few hours of flight spent with 150 strangers, we can all wait to make that phone call. It’s just common sense and common courtesy."
jfruh writes "Chinese electronics manufacturing giant Foxconn is building factories in Indonesia, and upon hearing the news you might be tempted to think the company is simply moving into labor markets where it can find cheaper employees. But in fact, the Indonesian factories will specifically produce smartphones and computers for Indonesians; the country has almost as many people as the United States, but smartphone penetration there remains low."
alphadogg writes "Politicians and law enforcement officials in California will introduce a bill on Friday that requires all smartphones and tablet PCs sold in the state be equipped with a digital 'kill-switch' that would make the devices useless if stolen. The bill is a response to a rise in thefts of portable electronics devices, often at knife or gunpoint, being seen across the state. Already half of all robberies in San Francisco and 75 percent of those in Oakland involve a mobile device and the number is rising in Los Angeles, according to police figures. The trend is the same in major cities across the U.S. and the California bill, if it passes, could usher in kill-switch technology nationwide if phone makers choose not to produce custom devices for California. California Senate bill 962 says all smartphones and tablet PCs sold from Jan. 1, 2015, should have 'a technological solution that can render the essential features of the device inoperable when the device is not in possession of the rightful owner.'"
An anonymous reader writes "For decades, the focus of auto safety has primarily been on surviving the traumatic impact of crashes through features like air bags and seat belts. But now the focus has shifted to avoiding crashes by developing technology to make future vehicles 'smart' enough to detect and respond to threats, such as an oncoming vehicle. The technology, known as 'vehicle-to-vehicle,' or "V2V," lets cars 'talk' to each other and exchange safety data, such as speed and position. If a nearby car abruptly changes lanes and moves into another car's blind spot, the car would be alerted. Federal transportation officials did not announce when the new regulations would go into effect but said they hope to propose the new V2V rules before President Barack Obama leaves office in January 2017." Combine this with remote kill-switches or pulse guns, Amber-alert scrolling signs, proliferating cameras, automatic plate recognition and unstoppable text messages from on high for some not-so-distant driving dystopia.
SmartAboutThings writes "We are less than a month away from seeing the first ever Tizen smartphone from Samsung. The leaked image points toward a Feb. 24th launch date at MWC 2014 in Barcelona. The phone design is very similar to Galaxy phones, while the UI reminds us of Windows Phone 8. Samsung is also one of the world's top smartphone vendors, so it should have a decent chance at developing a mobile OS of its own, don't you think?"
schwit1 writes "New leaked NSA documents shed a new light on the agency's assault on the data controls of smartphone apps. Using app data permissions as a jumping off point, the documents show agency staffers building huge quantities of data, including 'intercepting Google Maps queries made on smartphones, and using them to collect large volumes of location information.' One slide lists capabilities for 'hot mic' recording, high precision geotracking, and file retrieval which would reach any content stored locally on the phone, including text messages, emails and calendar entries. As the slide notes in a parenthetical aside, 'if it's on the phone, we can get it.'"