Weekly Cell Phone News in Review—April 17, 2017

FCC Chairman: Let’s Kill Plan That Considered In-Flight Calls
Can you hear that? It’s the sound of an FCC plan to let airplane passengers make phone calls fizzling out. On Monday, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai circulated an order that would end the agency’s 2013 plan to decide whether to change its recommendation that cell phones not be used on airplanes. The plan opened the issue for public comment and possible revision. FCC commissioners must now vote on Pai’s order to decide whether to permanently ax the plan. Story by Laura Hautala for CNet

More Travelers Entering U.S. Are Being Asked For Their Cellphones And Passwords
As the Trump administration considers steps to implement what the president has called extreme vetting of foreigners at the border, one aspect of security screening has already been amped up. The number of people who have been asked to hand over their cellphones and passwords by Customs and Border Protection agents has increased nearly threefold in recent years. This is happening to American citizens as well as foreign visitors. Customs and Border Protection maintains it has the authority to look through everyone’s phones at border crossings and airport customs checkpoints. Story by Brian Naylor for NPR

Is Your Fingerprint-Locked Cell Phone Really Secure?
What could be more secure than a state-of-the-art fingerprint sensor to lock your phone? As anyone can tell you, everyone’s fingerprint is unique, like little snowflakes on our hands jam-packed with impenetrable biometric individuality. Or so we thought. A new study from New York University publicized Tuesday casts doubt on the security of smartphone fingerprint sensors. A team led by Nasir Memon, a professor of computer science and engineering at NYU Tandon, found that these seemingly futuristic locks may be more vulnerable to hackers than most people assume. While a fingerprint is unique, the authors point out that the small sensors on many phones do not capture the full print; they only match portions of a user’s fingerprints. Many phones also allow users to record multiple fingerprints, meaning that anyone trying to break through the lock would have multiple fragments of as many as 10 separate fingerprints to attempt a match, which greatly increases the likelihood of a false ID. Story by Cody Fenwick for Patch

Samsung Building Foldable Smartphone
Samsung is building a smartphone with a radical new foldable design, according to reports from South Korea. The tech giant is developing a prototype of the phone, with components already ordered to produce 2,000 to 3,000 units. A foldable concept was also demonstrated by Samsung in a 2014 video that showed a device featuring a single flexible organic light emitting diode (OLED) display. Reports last year suggested Samsung was working on two separate bendable smartphones. One version would use an OLED screen, while the other would incorporate a flexible display to allow it to extend from a 5-inch to an 8-inch device. Story by Anthony Cuthbertson for Newsweek

Why Apple Is Beating (and Will Keep Beating) Google in Mobile Payments
Apple revealed that the number of Apple Pay users had more than tripled over the last year and that transaction volume was up 500% year over year. The service has been rolled out in four new countries, for a total of 13. Apple admitted that while adoption has been slow, 4 million locations that cover about 35% of all retail stores in the U.S. now accept Apple Pay. Since Apple collects a piece of each transaction, this could eventually generate a significant ongoing revenue stream for the company. A recent report by Statista revealed similar findings, with about 36% of U.S. retailers accepting Apple Pay. Google takes up the second spot with Android Pay, which is accepted at 24% of merchants, and Samsung offering Samsung Pay comes in third with 18%. Apple Pay’s acceptance at a significantly greater number of merchants appears to be paying off, and is likely the reason for Apple’s lead in the category. Story by Danny Vena for The Motley Fool

States Where the Most People Use Only Cellphones
Americans are steadily abandoning traditional telephone landlines and exclusively using wireless devices. While 8.4% of U.S. households used only cellphones in 2005, this was true of nearly half of all American households only a decade later. The likelihood of living in a cellphone-only household varies considerably across states. New Jersey has the lowest share of adults living in wireless-only households at just 27.5%. In Idaho, the share is more than double, at 61.6%, the highest share of any state. Story by Steven Peters for 24/7 Wall Street

Smartphone Motion Sensors Can Reveal Your Security PIN to Hackers
Researchers at Newcastle University have discovered an easy way for hackers to steal PINs and passwords right from your smartphone. They’re able to get this sensitive data from the many motion sensors that are built into your gadget. Most of today’s smartphones come equipped with around 25 different sensors. Clicking, holding, scrolling and tapping your phone creates a unique orientation and motion trace. Malicious websites and apps could allow a criminal to spy on us using the data from these motion sensors. The researchers’ study included 10 smartphone users entering 50, four-digit PINs five times each on a certain website. This data was used to train a neural network on touch activity. The network was then used to guess the PINs. The neural network was able to crack the four-digit PINs at a 70 percent accuracy rate on the first attempt. By the fifth attempt, it was able to crack the PINs with 100 percent accuracy. Story by Mark Jones for Komando

Android Pay Now Works in Bank of America, USAA, Discover & Other Mobile Banking Apps
Android Pay, Google’s answer to Apple Pay and other mobile payment technologies, today unveiled new partnerships with a handful of banks from around the world, who will integrate the service into their own apps. The feature will be available within the mobile banking apps provided by Bank of America, USAA, Bank of New Zealand, Discover, and mBank, says Google. This is the first time Android Pay has been available within mobile banking apps. Story by Sarah Perez for Tech Crunch

Former Pentagon Chief Information Officer Joins Samsung
Former Pentagon Chief Information Officer Terry Halvorsen joined Samsung Electronics, South Korean industry sources said on Wednesday. The ex-officer was reportedly hired by Samsung in an advisory role and will help the company improve its network security and related services. Halvorsen became the CIO of the United States Department of Defense in early 2015, having previously served as deputy commander of Navy Cyber Forces and Navy CIO of the Department of the Navy. Following his retirement from government service this February, Halvorsen joined the American division of the Seoul-based tech giant, though it’s currently unclear whether he applied for a job at Samsung or was offered one. Story by Dominik Bosnjak for Android Headlines

About John Oldshue

John Oldshue is the creator of SaveOnPhone.com. He worked for over 15 years in television and won an Emmy award for his reporting. He covers long distance and cell phone topics for SaveOnPhone.