Federal prosecutors are looking into whether mobile application makers, advertisers, and mobile app store owners are violating the law when it comes to transmitting users' personal data. But what's it all mean for average consumers?
Smartphones have been around for at least several years now, but they still have certain limitations. Despite having a plethora of wireless technologies built-in--Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, 3G, etc.--there's no simple way to transfer "clippings" of data from one device to another. But a new research project at MIT called Sparsh is aiming to fix that oversight.
Sparsh (the Hindi word for "touch") isn't an app, at least not in the way we generally use the word. It's a tool that's supposed to be part of a mobile operating system, like "undo" or "select all," running within apps at all times. It creates a virtual cloud-based clipboard where any data, like a phone number or photograph, can temporarily live until it's "pasted" to another device.
For it to work, at least two devices need to be Sparsh-enabled. A user wanting to share data becomes, in concept, an avatar for a copy-and-paste-like function. The person touches data on a device, such as a photo or text, and Sparsh sends it to the cloud. The same person then touches another device, and presto! The relevant information is pasted in as if it had been copied from the same machine.
Sparsh isn't the only tool for transferring small amounts of device-to-device data on the scene. Indeed, a popular iPhone app called Bump allows people to trade photos, apps, contact info, and even music from one phone to another simply by bumping the devices together.
Bump is very cool, but it requires both the sender and recipient to be running the app. In addition, it's not open with what it can send or where it can send it--it only works from phone to phone, and while there are many options for things it can send, there are more things it simply can't. Sparsh aims to live in the devices we use at the operating-system level, meaning it would seem intuitive to use and be available within any app for almost any type of data. … Read more
Sprint customers looking to tuck a zippy Wi-Fi hot spot in their pocket can now consider the Sprint MiFi 4082 3G/4G Mobile hot spot, created by Novatel Wireless.
The WiMax-capable hot spot is available via DirectShip through Sprint, but it can be picked up in brick-and-mortar stores starting April 17. It costs $79.99 for the sleek-looking hardware, plus a mobile plan with a new two-year service agreement or upgrade. Those begin at $49.99 per month.
We got a chance to try out a MiFi unit last month during CTIA. The battery was long-lasting when we tried it, … Read more
I am a smartphone user and an app-aholic. I love apps that can help me navigate a foreign country, find a local restaurant, check up on baseball scores, and tweak a photo. And don't even get me started on solitaire apps; I've tried them all.
Sprint is reportedly setting up a mobile payment network via cell phones, Bloomberg reported today.
The carrier's Vice President of Product Platforms Kevin McGinnis told Bloomberg that Sprint phones will eventually have near-field communication (NFC) chips inside and those phones can be waved over a terminal installed in retail stores in order to pay for items.
Items paid for via NFC will show up on a user's credit card statement, and not their cell phone bill. Sprint will likely not take a percentage of each transaction, but instead take a share of revenue generated from coupons or deals … Read more
Sony might be joining the tablet craze as early as this summer, according to a new report.
According to Bloomberg, which cited a report in Japan's Nikkei newspaper, Sony CEO Howard Stringer said that his company will be launching a tablet by the end of the summer. The tablet, according to the report, will run Android 3.0 Honeycomb.
Following that news, Engadget found a report from Japanese publication AV Watch, citing a Sony spokesperson who said the company will be releasing a tablet "this year." The representative said details on the device and the launch will … Read more
Security firm Webroot has announced a new app for Android users.
Dubbed Webroot Mobile Security for Android, the application, which runs on both smartphones and tablets, scans apps for malware prior to installation. It also checks URLs to block phishing attacks. The app's identity-protection feature lets users remotely lock and wipe the device, while a map and "loud alert" help users find their lost hardware. The app also features the ability for users block calls and text messages.
Webroot Mobile Security for Android might be coming at the right time. Last month, several malicious applications were found … Read more
Vivendi announced today that it has agreed to acquire Vodafone's 44 percent stake in French mobile operator SFR for 7.95 billion euros ($11.3 billion).
The deal would give Vivendi, which already owned 56 percent of SFR shares, complete control of SFR--France's second largest carrier, with nearly 21 million customers.
"We are very pleased to reach our strategic objective to own 100 percent of SFR, which will help Vivendi to focus further on profitable growth and innovation," Vivendi CEO Jean-Bernard Levy said in a statement. "I am very confident that this will greatly benefit … Read more
A new report from analyst ComScore says that the Verizon iPhone was the "most acquired" handset during the month of February.
ComScore's sampling, which consisted of more than 30,000 U.S. mobile subscribers, notes that the surge of handset buyers responding to the phone's launch earlier this year helped give Apple the strongest gain of market share in the OEM category. That gain amounts to an additional 0.9 percent between November 2010 and the end of February 2011.
Nonetheless, Apple remains below competitors at 7.5 percent overall in terms of OEM market share. … Read more
San Francisco's board of supervisors has agreed to put its Right-to-Know Ordinance under further review after the wireless industry's lobbying arm claimed the legislation infringes on the First Amendment rights of cell phone retailers.
In an interview with CNET, CTIA spokesman John Walls said the city cannot force retailers to distribute materials that warn consumers about the possible negative effects of cell phone radiation. "You can't compel speech," he said. "Telling retailers to give out that information violates the First Amendment."
The free speech argument is just the latest in a series of … Read more