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Feds Pounce on Sprint for Phone Bill Cramming
December 18, 2014
The United States government is delivering a one-two punch to Sprint over the practice of cramming -- allowing third parties to place unauthorized charges on customers' bills. The Consumer Finance Protection Bureau on Thursday filed a civil suit against Sprint over the issue. Meanwhile, the Federal Communications Commission reportedly is planning to hit Sprint with a $105 million fine.
BlackBerry Bucks Up Its Loyal Base With Classic Comeback
December 17, 2014
BlackBerry has unveiled the BlackBerry Classic, a handset with a full QWERTY physical keyboard, physical navigation keys, and a design that can be best described as "retro," in that its appearance is virtually identical to the BlackBerry Bold. The Classic, which is smaller than the company's recently launched Passport smartphone, targets users who still long for the traditional BlackBerry handset.
Disappointed iPod Plaintiffs: Jurors Didn't Weigh the Right Questions
December 17, 2014
After a 10-year knock-down drag-out battle, Apple on Tuesday prevailed in a class-action lawsuit over its use of digital rights management technology on iPods purchased between Sept. 1, 2006 and March 31, 2009. Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd -- one of the "most feared litigation firms" in the U.S. -- brought the suit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.
Viber Eases Into Casual Gaming
December 16, 2014
Viber on Monday announced the launch of Viber Games, the latest expansion in its app development. This is the third such expansion for the company in as many months, following the launch of Mobile Video Calls and Viber Public Chats. Viber partnered with social game developers to create gaming experiences featuring Viber characters and exclusive content.
Gadget Ogling: Wireless Lights, Sunny Wearables and Flashy Smartphones
December 13, 2014
Welcome, dear readers, to another installment of Gadget Dreams and Nightmares, the best and worst in just-announced gizmos. On the docket this time around are wireless Christmas lights, solar-charging jackets, a speed-reading wearable and much more. The Aura Wirelessly Powered Christmas Lights aren't attached to long power cords designed to snake along, around and through the tree branches.
Iowa to Lead Digital Driver's License Movement
December 12, 2014
Iowa plans to issue digital drivers' licenses in the form of a smartphone app by next year, Paul Trombino, director of the Iowa Department of Transportation, said earlier this week at a public state agency budget hearing. The digital license will be accepted by Iowa law enforcement officers conducting traffic stops, as well as by security officers who screen travelers at Iowa's airports.
For Sync 3, Ford Picks BlackBerry, Kicks Microsoft to the Curb
December 12, 2014
Ford Motor on Thursday introduced Sync 3, its new communications and entertainment system. It is faster, more intuitive and easier to use than MyFord Touch, the company said. Sync 3 offers conversational voice recognition technology with enhanced response to driver commands, along with a smartphone-style touchscreen and graphical user interface. Sync 3 will roll out in new vehicles next year.
2014's Top Google Play Picks: Fitness, Netflix, Frozen and More
December 12, 2014
Health and fitness was the fastest-growing category of apps on Google Play this year, according to a report Google published on Thursday. MyFitnessPal was the most-downloaded app within that category, while Duolingo led the education category. Facebook was top among social apps named in the report, which listed the most popular apps, games, movies, music, news and books in 2014 on Google Play.
New York Cabbies May Try Operating Uber-Style
December 11, 2014
Uber and Lyft are two new, rapidly growing competitors in the taxi and limousine space. They are upending the traditional taxi and limo model in city after city. Now the taxicab industry in New York City is fighting back. NYC cabs could be getting their own app. This is something that should have happened years ago. However, it was happy to keep things just the way they were.
Samsung, Apple Kick Off Round Eleventy in Patent Fight
December 10, 2014
Apple and Samsung last week squared off again in court over their long-running patent dispute. The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit heard Samsung's appeal of the $930 million in damages a district court awarded to Apple for patent infringement, following a trial in 2012 and a retrial in 2013. "Samsung never wanted this fight," said Fosspatents' Florian Mueller.
Blackphone to Peddle a Few Good Apps
December 10, 2014
Blackphone plans to open an app store for privacy-focused applications to run on its secure smartphone. The store is expected to launch in January. The Blackphone runs PrivatOS, a modified version of Android 4.4.2 that comes bundled with tools that encrypt phone calls, texts, emails and Internet browsing. The app store will feature curated apps selected for their security and privacy chops.
NSA's Auroragold Mining Operation
December 10, 2014
The United States National Security Agency, which is known for monitoring landline, Web and cellphone communications worldwide, reportedly also targets wireless carriers. Documents released by whistle-blower Edward Snowden show the NSA has monitored more than 1,200 email accounts associated with major cellphone network operators worldwide since 2010.
No One Has Privacy Now, Thanks to Super Cookies
December 10, 2014
Does anyone really think that we have any privacy? Probably not. Between GPS tracking and our favorite app, most of us gave up on privacy long ago. Some privacy advocates claim that cell carriers have not been transparent about what personal data they have been gathering and using, although we now know that in order to use a cellular device, we must agree to give it away.
Grooveshark Tries a Different Tack
December 09, 2014
Grooveshark on Monday confirmed that it will launch a new mobile app that allows subscribers to chat while listening to user-created music stations. Dubbed "Broadcasts," the new app will debut next month, offering an ad-free social radio listening experience on both Android and iOS. Stations will be "created by people rather than by algorithms," said spokesperson James Pearson.
Apple Accused of Secretly Snuffing Non-iTunes Music Purchases
December 04, 2014
Apple for two years surreptitiously removed from iPods any music not purchased at its iTunes store, prosecutors charged Wednesday in federal court. The accusations surfaced during the trial of a 10-year-old class-action lawsuit claiming Apple violated federal and state laws when it issued iPod software updates that prevented the devices from playing songs not purchased on iTunes.
Everything's Coming Up Broadband
December 04, 2014
Comcast and AT&T. Broadband started as a service for people to surf the Web. Generally, it was a separate service offered by the telephone and cable television companies. However, things are changing and growing. The changes that are occurring in the industry are groundshaking, but they don't get as much attention as they should. Understanding these changes is important.
Customers Speak
December 03, 2014
Several news stories have provided interesting insights into the Black Friday phenomenon and into customer behavior. One indicates sales slipped by 0.5 percent from the same period last year, despite sharp discounting and stores opening on Thanksgiving. Another story shows how the Black Friday phenomenon is catching on in the UK. It looks like the mania is spreading even as it cools in the U.S.
Cybersecurity Threats 2015: More Espionage, More Apple Malware
December 03, 2014
Cyberspies will flourish and hackers will target Apple devices more often in 2015. Until now, Russia, China and the United States have dominated the cyberespionage scene, but their success will start to attract new players to the practice. "We can expect some of the developing economies ... to engage in these activities to protect their growth status," said Websense's Carl Leonard.
Cyber Monday Reveals New Customer Spending Patterns
December 02, 2014
Despite a ho-hum level of sales volume over the past four days, online sales this Cyber Monday were up 8.7 percent over the same period in 2013 by late afternoon, according to the IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark. Continuing a trend that has been growing for the last few years, mobile sales accounted for 21.3 percent of all online sales on Cyber Monday, an increase of 29.3 percent year over year.
Cyber Monday Brings Sweet Deals for Video Gamers
December 01, 2014
A batch of great online deals on Cyber Monday, on the heels of strong Black Friday sales at traditional brick-and-mortar stores, could make Microsoft's Xbox One video game system the big winner in the run-up to the holidays. The video game console headed into its second holiday season in second place to Sony's PlayStation 4, but Microsoft has introduced a number of bundles to draw in gamers.
Black Friday Reports: Sunny Online, Gloomy Off
December 01, 2014
It was the best of times and the worst of times for retailers over the 4-day long Thanksgiving Day-Black Friday weekend. If you were an online retailer, it was the best of times. If you were strictly a brick-and-mortar store, it was perhaps not quite the worst, but certainly worse than expected. Survey firm after survey firm reported the same general conclusion: Online sales rocked.
FCC's Spectrum Cash Cow Produces Rich Milk
November 25, 2014
Bidding for wireless spectrum in the United States Federal Communications Commission's latest auction has gone through the roof, raising more than $36 billion as of Tuesday morning. A total of 70 qualified bidders are seeking 1,614 licenses in the 1695-1710 Mhz, 1755-1780 Mhz and 2155-2180 MHz bands. The auction almost certainly will raise even more money over the next few weeks.
Apple's 'Get' Puts Paid to Free-App Sham
November 24, 2014
Apple has removed the word "free" from download buttons in its iOS and OS X app stores, replacing it with "get." European regulators recommended the action to Apple and Google earlier this year. In July, Google removed the "free" label from games that could be downloaded without cost -- but required in-app purchases to access a full set of features.
NotCompatible Mobile Malware Gets Badder
November 21, 2014
A new version of the NotCompatible malware, which first appeared in 2012, is bigger, badder and pretty much indestructible, Lookout Security reported. And it can compromise corporate networks, thanks to the BYOD trend. The malware, called "NotCompatible C," focuses on Android devices. The NotCompatible Trojan is used to spread spam campaigns, among other nefarious activities.

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