News/Rumors

Verizon planning to throttle 4G LTE customers on unlimited data plans

Last week Verizon announced a new ‘network optimization’ initiative to begin throttling some 4G LTE customers on unlimited data plans. The carrier is planing to start slowing the speeds of the top 5% of its unlimited LTE users when they’re connected to a busy cell site.

Following the recent revelation, FCC chairman Tom Wheeler has sent a letter to the carrier asking for clarification on the new policy.

In the letter, Wheeler is interested whether Verizon feels the need to only throttle customers on exact plans, rather than throttling based on the needs of the technology that powers the network. “‘Reasonable network management’ concerns the technical management of your network; it is not a loophole designed to enhance your revenue streams,” Wheeler said. “It is disturbing to me that Verizon Wireless would base its ‘network management’ on distinctions among its customers’ data plans, rather than on network architecture or technology.”

Wheeler also asks Verizon to answer the following questions:

1. What is your rationale for treating customers differently based on the type of data plan to which they subscribe, rather than network architecture or technological factors? In particular, please explain your statement that, “If you’re on an unlimited data plan and are concerned that you are in the top 5% of data users, you can switch to a usage-based data plan as customers on usage-based plans are not impacted.”

2. Why is Verizon Wireless extending speed reductions from its 3G network to its much more efficient 4G LTE network?

3. How does Verizon Wireless justify this policy consistent with its continuing obligations under the 700 MHz C Block open platform rules, under which Verizon Wireless may not deny, limit, or restrict the ability of end users to download and utilize applications of their choosing on the C Block networks; how can this conduct be justified under the Commission’s 2010 Open Internet rules, including the transparency rule that remains in effect?

Verizon-Wireless

“What we announced last week was a highly targeted and very limited network optimization effort, only targeting cell sites experiencing high demand,” Verizon stated. “The purpose is to ensure there is capacity for everyone in those limited circumstances, and that high users don’t limit capacity for others.”

It will definitely be interesting to see how the things will be moving in the months leading up to October, when the new throttling policy is scheduled to go into effect.

Apps Lists, Entertainment, Music, News/Rumors

Scrub Radio vs iTunes Radio

iTunes Radio is a chargeless music service that provides a number of radio stations for users to listen and reveal new musics. By the way, there are some limitations in iTunes Radio such as ads, impossibility to scrub through songs and others. Scrub Radio is considred to be a new jailbreak trick that can help users to get rid of these restrictions and to get a full control over iTunes Radio.
With Scrub Radio, users have the freedom to scrub through songs both backward and forward and easily move to a specific point of the song.
Thanks to iTunes Radio users can also skip only 6 songs per station every hour, but Scrub Radio gives you a possibility to skip so many songs as you want without listening to the whole track. More than that the tweak promises to accelerate loading of songs.
If you dicided to install Scrub Radio, you don’t have to make any tuning. iTunes Radio is available in Apple Music apps. You must just upload it and scrub through songs as well as skip unlimited number of tracks.

4

The tweak won’t  work in a proper way as it is uploaded at the first go-off. When the radio station is opened, iTunes Radio hang up and, as a result, the user is bound to close it.You will discover it is clashing with the iTunes Radio Unlimited tweak. In such a way the user should delete it or any other tweak before loading Scrub Radio.
If you are a regular user of iTunes Radio, you might be intrested in Scrub Radio to free yourself of the Apple limitations. This tweak is available for free in Cydia repository via BigBoss. And the tweak can support iOS 7 devices.

Apps Lists, News/Rumors

Updated Yelp allows users to add short videos to business reviews

On Monday a new Yelp update to its iOS app has been released. This app helps users to download short videos up to 12 seconds long with reviews and pictures.

New opportunities to the crowd-sourced business and restaurant guide are now availiable thanks to Yelp version 8.1, providing members a capacity to post 3-12 seconds long review videos. As a result of this update user reviews were reduced to text and pictures.

The video review tool can be able to get from the app’s main page. The central button, when being pushed, divides into “Check in,” “Review” and “Photo or Video” buttons. From the “Photo or Video” option users can switch from shots to video with a special toggle button.

New review possibilities for Yelp members are open now with the help of a new function. So the members can now preferably depict products, take note of a restaurant’s atmospere as well as add short describing videos to their review. On both the app and Web portal Yelp’s video content should start showing up in conjunction with text and photo reviews, but the examples could not be found at the time.

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In spite of the new video capabilities, the updated Yelp app has insignificant user interface corrections and bug fixes.

Apps Lists, News/Rumors

Gmail for iOS updated with improved Google Drive integration

Google has released an update for its iOS Gmail app that adds two new features that more tightly couple Gmail with Google Drive.

The first addition allows users to save attachments directly to Google Drive, while the second one gives the ability to insert Google Drive files directly into email messages.

«Just like with Gmail on the web, you can now insert files from Google Drive directly into an email on your phone or tablet. The apps will even tell you if your file isn’t shared with the person you’re sending it to so you can change the sharing settings before you send it. And to help you store all your files in a single place, if someone sends you an email attachment, you can save it directly to Drive with one tap.»

Additionally, Google states that the apps will also warn users if a drive attachment hasn’t yet been shared with the recipient so you can change the settings before sending the email.

gmail

The update also includes new account management options for hiding accounts in the Gmail app without removing them altogether. Users are now allowed to change their profile picture in the app’s settings.

For multiple account users, the update gives the ability to “choose which signed-in accounts you want visible in the app.”

The latest version is rolling out on the App Store now.

What’s New in Version 3.14159

• Save attachments directly to Google Drive so you can access them anywhere while saving space and bandwidth on your device
• Insert Google Drive files directly into messages
• New account management options to choose which accounts you want to have visible in Gmail without removing accounts from your device.
• Change your profile picture (in Settings)

Gmail version 3.14159 is available now as a free download from the App Store.

Accessories, News/Rumors

AIRTYPE: invisible keyboard to change the way you type

Airtype, a start-up based in Austin, Texas developed a prototype for a truly revolutionary keyboard, that is invisible. While we used to have keyboards either as physical device or touch screen interface, AirType is a “keyboardless keyboard,” that will change the way you type, especially when it comes to your tablet.

AirType is a set of cuffs you wear on your hands that become an invisible keyboard.  The sensors will track your finger movements and translate them into words on the screen. It’s no different than typing on a keyboard. The device connects your smartphone via Bluetooth.

According to the developers, the keyboard can adapt to your own specific typing style. They say “there’s no need to learn AirType, It will learn you,” similar to Siri, which can learn your accent. The product also has dynamic text prediction and corrections similar to your iPhone. It prevents you from making mistakes and promotes faster typing.

wearable-band-for-your-keyboard

The item usage will be difficult for those who are either not fluent with typing or forgetful enough to remember the letter placements on keyboard.

keyboard-airype2

Airtype is small and simply clips on your tablet for easy transportation, so you can bring them everyhere. The device is still in development, but you can sign up for their mailing list and learn more here.

News/Rumors

Apple details iOS diagnostics capabilities in response to ‘backdoor’ concerns

Earlier this week, forensic expert, and former jailbreak hacker, Jonathan Zdziarski, attracted attention to suspicious iOS background assets that could allow for covert data collection of users’ information from devices. They could be exploited by law enforcement agencies or hackers to steal sensitive personal data.

Apple of course denied the claim, stating that these so-called ‘backdoor services’ are actually used for troubleshooting.

“As we have said before, Apple has never worked with any government agency from any country to create a backdoor in any of our products of services,” Apple said.

Then the company published a new support document, where Apple offers a limited description of the three services— coincidentally listed in the same order as presented by Zdziarski in his slide deck. The company also provided details of how each works.

Apple (1)

From Apple’s support document:

  1. com.apple.mobile.pcapdpcapd supports diagnostic packet capture from an iOS device to a trusted computer. This is useful for troubleshooting and diagnosing issues with apps on the device as well as enterprise VPN connections. You can find more information at developer.apple.com/library/ios/qa/qa1176.
  2. com.apple.mobile.file_relayfile_relay supports limited copying of diagnostic data from a device. This service is separate from user-generated backups, does not have access to all data on the device, and respects iOS Data Protection. Apple engineering uses file_relay on internal devices to qualify customer configurations. AppleCare, with user consent, can also use this tool to gather relevant diagnostic data from users’ devices.
  3. com.apple.mobile.house_arresthouse_arrest is used by iTunes to transfer documents to and from an iOS device for apps that support this functionality. This is also used by Xcode to assist in the transfer of test data to a device while an app is in development.

Apple has already been mentioned by Edward Snowden’s PRISM leak last summer, which was followed tons of questions concerning the company’s stance on privacy.

 

News/Rumors

Starbucks working on coffee ordering service for mobile app

For Starbucks-goers, there is great news. Starbucks Corp., the world’s largest coffee-shop operator, is reportedly working on a smartphone service that will allow coffee-obsessed fans to order items ahead of time at some U.S. cafes.

“It’s something our customers have asked for,” said Adam Brotman, chief digital officer at the Seattle-based company. “We’re not revealing a lot of details about it now.”

Using the mobile Starbucks app, customers will be able to place orders that they can send in ahead of time and pick up as soon as they arrive at their Starbucks location of choice.

It is a great step to increase the quantity of orders, as Americans are increasingly turning to apps on their phones to order different products and services to be picked up or brought to them. There are already Uber and Lyft, Chipotle, that help consumers enjoy high usage for their order-ahead feature. Such companies like GrubHub, Tapingo and Square also created apps to allow people to order food and beverages from various smaller food and drink establishments.

starbucks

Starbucks first mentioned a new ordering feature to investors in 2012, but didn’t elaborate on its intentions. The team standing behind the initiative consists of employees from across various Starbucks divisions – from store operations to IT.

The company intends to make buying coffee and food as easy and fast as possible, but there are, of course, some complications. The company is currently analyzing the rate at which its caffeinated items change temperatures, in order to ensure that drinks are in optimal condition when customers come to collect them.

Additionally, Starbucks negotiates with potential partners to provide its customers with the ability to use the Starbucks app as a payment instrument in other stores. The company wants to extend Starbucks’ customer loyalty program to other companies, as well. Brotman declined to name the companies Starbucks is in talks with.

News/Rumors

Amazon testing ‘Kindle Unlimited’ e-book subscription service

Amazon appears to be testing a new e-book and audiobook subscription service, called “Kindle Unlimited,” which is expected to give people unlimited access to about 600,000 titles as well as thousands of audiobooks. The service reportedly costs $9.95 a month.

The list of publishers includes such names as Open Road Media, Workman, Algonquin, Bloomsbury and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. More publishers, including HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, Penguin Random House, Macmillan and Hachette are also promised to join the project once Amazon launches it.

The existing Kindle Unlimited section on Amazon.com shows a number of popular e-book titles, including Water for Elephants, Life of Pi and the full series of Harry Potter and Hunger Games books. The books appear to mirror a lot of those available through Amazon’s existing Kindle Owners’ Lending Library, a service that gives Kindle-owning Amazon Prime subscribers ability to rent free e-books.

Amazon-Kindle-Unlimited

The Kindle Unlimited service is believed to be available on all devices, including the iPhone and the iPad likely via Amazon’s Kindle app. Amazon’s test page and mini-site may still be accessible via Google Cache.  Unlike Amazon’s other media subscriptions, Kindle Unlimited seems to be available as a standalone service, meaning it doesn’t come free for Prime Members.

Kindle Unlimited isn’t the first e-book subscription service and it will put Amazon in direct competition with Oyster and Scribd, offering a larger variety of books, advertising more than 600,000 titles compared to Oyster’s 500,000 and Scribd’s 400,000, plus more than 7,000 audiobooks.

The exact date of release of the service is still unclear.

Accessories, News/Rumors

Logitech debuts Protection+ case for iPhone 5 and 5s

Earlier this year, Logitech announced its new Case+ accessory for the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5, which contained a metal case and multiple magnetic attachments. Today, the company finally revealed its newest line of smartphone cases, including the Protection+ for iPhone 5 and 5s, product aimed to mount an iPhone to a car’s air vents for easy viewing.

The protection+ case is compatible with the iPhone 5 and 5S and Samsung’s Galaxy S5 and features a slim design with a protective outer shell and internal impact-resistant materials. Its body is made of a hard polycarbonate shell while its corners hold impact resistant polymers. They are specially-designed to absorb shocks without breaking and dissipate the energy of the impact across the surface of the product. According to the manufacture, the protection+ exceeds the U.S. military’s drop-test standard for “rugged” devices, which tops out at 1.8 meters (just under 6 feet) off the ground.

logitech_protection

Logitech also introduced its +trip and +drive car accessories, which help users to mount a device and case to an air vent (+trip) or windshield/dashboard (+drive).

logitech_trip

Logitech’s director of smartphone accessories, Ariel Fischer noted in a statement: “We designed the Logitech protection+ to give you peace of mind disguised in a great looking protective case that absorbs the daily shocks your phone experiences.”

The Protection+ case will go on sale next month for $34.99, and will be available in colors of Winter White, Gunmetal Black, Scarlett Plum, and Pacific Blue. The +Trip and +Drive accessories will also launch next month and sell for $29.99 and $49.99, respectively. The products are already available for pre-order on Logitech’s official website.

iPhone, News/Rumors

Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo predicts 5.5-inch iPhone 6 delay

KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who has previously given accurate Apple product information, has issued a note on Sunday, saying that while Apple’s 4.7-inch “iPhone 6″ is still believed to debut this fall, the larger 5.5-inch model could see a serious delay in the release.

According to the analyst, the company is already suffering from production bottlenecks on the 4.7-inch model related to the new technology for the product’s in-cell touch panel, and color irregularity on the redesigned “iPhone 6″ metal casing. The 5.5-inch model will also face these issues.

“These problems will likely be even more complicated with a larger size,” Kuo said. “In addition, from a technical perspective, we don’t expect sapphire cover, used for the first time on the 5.5-inch model, will easily pass the drop test near term. We are conservative about 5.5-inch iPhone launching by end-2014. Even if the product is launched in 2014, it is likely to take place after mid-4Q14, which is later than the September-October of consensus, with shipments being lower than consensus of 15- 20mn units.”

iPhone6

In addition to the aforementioned problems, the device’s sapphire display may not be firm enough in drop tests to go to market yet. Kuo also predicts that when the larger model finally ships, fewer than 15-20 million units will be available.

The analyst believes that the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 may not go on sales by the end of 2014, or may debut after October in very limited quantities. In addition to delay, he says, that the prices of the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c will drop alongside the launch of the 4.7-inch iPhone 6.

According to the early rumors, the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 was facing production issues related to the device’s display and battery life. However, later reports noted that both models would enter production and launch at the same time.

Apple is believed to announce and launch the iPhone 6 in September. The device is expected to include a thinner profile and a faster A8 processor.