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4 years ago

Isis mobile payment system officially launching October 22


It looks like we were dead on for the Isis launch date, limited as the rollout may be. Austin, Texas and Salt Lake City, Utah will officially be the first areas to support the Isis starting on October 22. As is there are about 340 Isis-ready merchants in each city. 

Right now, the only device that we know for sure will support Isis is the Droid Incredible, though Motorola, LG, and Sony have all pledged to create compatible hardware. Supported credit cards are currently limited to American Express, Capital One, and Chase, though I'm sure more will come in due time. Just like Google Wallet, Isis will enable tap-to-pay schemes with NFC-enabled smartphones. It can be used for coupons and loyalty cards too, but paying for stuff is the main thing. The only real difference here is that Isis is a joint venture between Verizon, T-Mobile and AT&T. It's something of a strategic necessity if U.S. carriers want a solid foothold in the mobile payment game without having to play by Google's rules. 

Sure, Google Wallet might have a hefty head start, but with any luck, the competition will spur on speedier development and increase adoption overall. It's still hard to imagine a nearby future where paying for everything (or even anything) on a day-to-day basis with your phone is normal, but I'm sure many of us stand to be early adopters.

How often do you use Google Wallet? What would it take for you to switch over to another service? Do you think a carrier-run solution with the support of hardware manufacturers is more likely to gain broad acceptance, or will Google's natural habit of wriggling into ubiquity win out? Anyone in these early markets willing to give Isis a go?

Source: @PayWithIsis

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4 years ago

Action Launcher, from the developer of Tweet Lanes


Android launchers -- comprising the basic makeup of homescreens and the app drawer -- hardly are scarce. And they tend to share features, emulating the stock Android launcher while tweaking things and adding features. 

Action Launcher is from developer Chris Lacy, the driving force behind the Tweet Lanes Twitter client, and it goes in a different direction, though still with some familiar features. 

We've gotten a good look at a preview version of the launcher. Hit the break for our take.

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4 years ago

White House probe finds no evidence of Huawei spying for China, but 'poor security practices' are a concern


A couple weeks back, a U.S. Congressional report suggested that Huawei, because of influence from the Chinese government, posed a potential espionage risk. The panel strongly encouraged companies to find another vendor for their networking equipment, and that using Huawei's gear put customer data, intellectual property, and national security at risk.

Today, information obtained by Reuters suggests that this may not be the case. The White House has had a presidential probe in place for the past 18 months, and it's findings show that there is no clear evidence that Huawei is sending off sensitive data to China, or anyone else.

There is still cause for alarm though, as some experts suggest that major security holes make Huawei's equipment more vulnerable to outside attack, and warn that these security holes could have been planted by Huawei as a backdoor for exploitation. Conversely, others seem sure the security issues are a result of "sloppy coding and poor procedures" rather than a direct attempt to sabotage the equipment.

In the end, what matters is that companies purchasing expensive networking gear spend time and money to get the equipment fully vetted and the software inspected to ensure its safety. Huawei may not be spying for China, but if their equipment is riddled with holes and bugs it's probably best not to use it.

Cyber security is a real issue, and it's always evolving. We can only hope that the good guys evolve as fast as the bad guys do. 

Source: Reuters

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4 years ago

Google shows off server centers and their wonderful series of tubes


As Android fans, we use a lot of Google services - Gmail, search, maps, YouTube videos, you name it. Ever wonder where all those queries go? Well, recently Google allowed some press into one of their data centers to give the full tour. Beyond that, they've posted an astounding photo gallery from data centers all around the world, showcasing the fine people and extensive facilities that make Google services a reality. They've done it all in such a classy way that even those of us that aren't IT professionals can start to appreciate the complexity, beauty, and scale of the whole operation. 

Google made a point to highlight their water cooling system, which is more environmentally friendly than air conditioning. Though they still rely on local electrical providers, Google's working towards the use of more renewable energy. Privacy was also a high priority, with their video emphasizing security and their extensive data destruction techniques. Everything is doubly backed up, and done in triplicate with data tapes for the particularly important stuff. 

Using Google services on a day-to-day basis as a normal consumer makes it all feel fairly nebulous and, y'know, cloud-like, but Google is made of real people in big buildings with lots of machines and miles of wires; pictures like these really drive that point home. Be sure to read the Wired and CBS articles for their impressions of the tour, or check it all out for yourself through Street View.

Source: Google

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4 years ago

O2 UK blames 'central user database' for recent downtime


"Proven alternative" to replace problem third-party database

If you're an O2 customer in the UK, you may have noticed the two recent bouts of downtime, which prevented a significant number of O2 customers from using the mobile network. Back in July, a network snafu resulted in one third of O2's customers being unable to use their phones for almost a day. Last Friday a similar glitch took ten percent of O2 subscribers offline for several hours.

It's an embarrassing episode for O2, which faces tough 4G competition from the newly-formed EE network (formerly Orange and T-Mobile). So in an attempt to reassure (and retain) subscribers, O2's Chief Operating Officer Derek McManus took to the O2 blog to apologize, and outline the corrective steps planned by the company.

McManus confirmed that both recent outages were caused by O2's central user database, which is provided by a third-party supplier. In order to avoid further issues with this system, O2 will be switching to a "proven alternative" system, at a cost of £10 million, he says. McManus also promises a renewed focus on O2's "service experience team," which is tasked with ensuring the best network experience for consumers as O2 works towards next year's 4G LTE roll-out.

So O2 subscribers can take some comfort from the fact that the system responsible for the recent downtime is being replaced in its entirety. Nevertheless, there's no denying the damage done to O2's reputation and customer goodwill.

Source: O2 Blog

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4 years ago

Phones 4u selling brown Samsung Galaxy S3 in the UK


UK phone retailer Phones 4u has started to carry the Samsung Galaxy S3 in amber brown. It will sell the brown version alongside the stock “marble white” and “pebble blue” versions, but the brown is a web-exclusive, it says. Phones 4u’s S3 is the international quad-core Exynos version, with 16Gb of internal memory.

Consumers can get the device for about £49 with a £26-per-month, 2-year contract with Orange. Other options include a 2-year plan with Vodafone for £37 a month, and the device is yours for free.

In the US, Verizon announced black and brown flavors of Samsung’s superphone last week, in the dual-core Snapdragon version that the country's telcos have been carrying.

We’ve known about the various colors for a while now. Samsung announced the brown, “garnet red”, “sapphire black” and “titanium gray” in late August. In some countries, these have gone on to be carrier or retailer exclusives.

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4 years ago

Who guessed the correct number of jellybeans and won a Nexus 7?


Last week in our Nexus 7 A Week Giveaway, we asked you to take a guess at the number of jellybeans in the picture above. Out of 3000+ entries, there were 15 people who guessed the exact number of jellybeans! Since we aren't giving away 15 tablets this week (sorry!) we put everyone's name on a slip of paper and drew out one at random as our winner.

The winning guess of 143 jellybeans and the proud new owner of a Nexus 7 tablet is:

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4 years ago

Angry Birds Star Wars to take on the Kessel Run?


Love or hate Angry Birds, the Star Wars nerds among us have to be looking forward to seeing what the tie up between the two brings to the table. We know it's coming, we know when it's coming to be precise, but we're still a little in the dark as to what the gameplay will entail. 

It'll likely be the Angry Birds style of gameplay we've all become oh so accustomed to over the years, but it's how the Star Wars world integrates into this that intrigues us. This latest trailer gives us perhaps a little clue. After Han Solo is done talking up the Millennium Falcon, what's that we see? A catapult adorned on the top of the ship that made the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs? Interesting. 

Source: Rovio (YouTube)

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4 years ago

Reminder: Google prepaid card ends today


We’ve just reached the final expiration date of the Google Wallet prepaid card.

Google announced the end of its early payment experiment just last month, and has started phasing out the card today, as promised. It set a relatively near cut-off date of Sept. 17 where people would not be able to add funds to their cards, so that service has been unavailable for a full month already.

The card itself expires today, so users won’t be able to use them any longer. Refunds on existing balances can be requested from today, however.

The move comes at a time where Google is moving quickly to pack in more compatibility with credit and debit cards in Google Wallet. The prepaid option was a stopgap allowing early adopters to add funds to the Google Wallet app, which previously only supported Citi’s MasterCard.

This is only going to affect users in the US, as the app has not been made available to users in other regions.

If you haven’t spent what’s left in your balance, Google is allowing users to request a refund of their remaining funds here.

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4 years ago

Cab hailing service Hailo launches in the U.S, with its arrival in Boston


We're big fans of Hailo, the service that lets you hail and pay for a cab using your Android device. It helps make commuting through London less of a struggle, and we like that. Almost a year on from its first inception in the UK, Hailo has since branched out to Dublin and to Toronto. But, from today, the service finally arrives on U.S. shores beginning with Boston. 

While Chicago and New York City are both currently under active development, it's Boston that gets the nod as the first to experience the service. By partnering with licensed taxi drivers, Hailo offers not only an easy way to flag down a cab, but also offers a guarentee of safety to its users. 

The app itself is free to download, and if you're in Boston and decide to try this out, hit us up in the comments with your experience. 

Source: Hailo via TNW

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4 years ago

Motorola DROID RAZR M, RAZR i, RAZR HD, Atrix HD get root method


Motorola Droid users rejoice! xda-developers forum user Dan (@djrbliss) has managed to root the Motorola DROID RAZR MAtrix HD, the Photon Q, and the upcoming RAZR HD with an exploit called MotoFail2go. The RAZR i appears to be included, although the developer notes that additional hacking might be needed, involving replacing some of the binaries with x86 versions if your attempts fail.

The entire root process looks like a one-click operation, with the exploit requiring you to press some buttons along the way. You’re going to need a Windows PC for this, the latest Morotola USB drivers along with the exploit.

As always, back up before you proceed.

Source: xda-developers forum

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4 years ago

LG Optimus Vu available unlocked from Expansys for £349


The LG Optimus Vu has popped up on Expanys for £349 (approximately $564). This is basically the same version that we reviewed, except it has a Tegra 3 processor rather than the Snapdragon S3.

AT 5-inches, the Vu is a Galaxy Note and Galaxy Note 2 competitor. It also costs much less than the Note 2, which can also be had from Expansys for £529 (approximately $854).  There are reasons for the cheaper price, however. We've mentioned a few aspects of the Vu that we've had issues with, such as the 4:3 aspect ratio, lack of slot for the stylus and lackluster camera performance.

Nevertheless, if you've been waiting for an opportunity to purchase an unlocked LG Optimus Vu, Expansys can help you out.

Source: Expansys

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4 years ago

Buy Google Play credit directly from the Google Play web store


It seems that Google has enabled an option in the web version of the Play Store that allows users to directly buy Google Play credit. If you're in the web version of the Play Store, scroll to the bottom and you'll see an option that reads "Buy Google Play Credit." You can purchase credit in increments of $5, $10, $15, $25 and $50 and it seems that you can only buy the credit for yourself thus far, so no gifting. No word yet on how many markets, if any, are supported outside the U.S., so if you are elsewhere and are seeing this option, let us know in the comments.

Source: Google Play Store; thanks to everyone who sent this in.

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4 years ago

Samsung reminds us the U.S. Galaxy S3 will get Jelly Bean, can't say when, though


New TouchWiz features confirmed for U.S. Galaxy S3 update

If you were after a vague, unspecified timeframe for your Galaxy S3 Jelly Bean update, look no further than today's announcement from Samsung, which indicates that the update will be rolling out to U.S. S3 models "in the coming months." In a press release today, the manufacturer reveals that the eagerly-anticipated update will land at some point in the future between "the coming weeks" and "the coming years." In any case, at least it's on still its way to the U.S. (The update is, of course, rolling out right now in Europe.)

Also revealed is a list of new TouchWiz features in the U.S. S3 Jelly Bean update. We've already covered many of these on the international Galaxy S3 models, but these include new Android 4.1 features like Google Now and "Project Butter," in addition to new TouchWiz additions like blocking mode for added notification and contact control, resizeable Pop-up Play windows and an optional "easy mode" for the launcher. New AllShare functionality will be added too, including wireless mirroring through the AllShare Cast Wireless Hub, and one-touch NFC pairing on supported Bluetooth devices.

We've got the full breakdown of new TouchWiz features after the break.

More: Hands-on with new TouchWiz features in Jelly Bean Galaxy S3 update

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4 years ago

Sony Xperia T coming to Canada in November


Sony has confirmed that Bell, Rogers, Mobilicity, and Videotron will all have the Sony Xperia T on sale in Canada come November.  We've begun putting the international version of the Xperia T through the paces, if you're interested in a closer look, but here's the short version. 

  • 4.6-inch 1280 x 720 Reality Display powered by the Mobile BRAVIA Engine for razor sharp clarity
  • 13 MP fast capture camera that goes from sleep mode to snap in just over a second
  • Easy connectivity with ‘One-touch’ function enabled by NFC
  • PlayStation™ Certified
  • Latest generation 1.5GHz dual core processor for improved battery life, fast performance and ultra sharp graphics
  • Android version 4.0.4 (Ice Cream Sandwich). Will be upgraded to Android version 4.1 (Jelly Bean) following launch.
  • MHL connectivity for viewing content on a big screen without the need for a charger
  • 16GB of internal memory
  • Battery: 1850mAh (embedded) - 7 hours talk time, 450 hours standby

The Xperia T will be hitting Canada with all of the usual James Bond branding to coincide with the upcoming Skyfall movie. There's no mention of pricing just yet, but I'm sure we'll find out soon enough. And hey, good on Mobilicity for getting such a swanky phone. I wonder if TELUS is going to get it? They aren't mentioned by name in the press release, but that doesn't necessarily rule them out. Canadians, are any of you interested in the Xperia T?

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