Weekly Cell Phone News in Review–April 27, 2015

Google’s New Project Fi Offers Low-Cost Wireless Phone Service
Google changed the way people surf the Internet. Now the search giant is trying to make waves in the wireless world. The Silicon Valley company unveiled a new cellular service that allows consumers to pay only for the data they use, buying it in 1 gigabyte chunks at $10 a piece and offering a credit for what goes unused. The service will cost $20 a month for talk and text with data charges on top of that, Google said Wednesday.But the more significant part of what Google dubbed Project Fi could be the way it works. The service will use more than 1 million free Wi-Fi hot spots and the mobile networks of Sprint Corp. and T-Mobile US Inc. to make seamless connections throughout the U.S. and more than 120 countries. Story by Jim Puzzanghera and Andrew Khouri for the Los Angeles Times.

FTC Goes After Firm for Tracking Shoppers’ Cell Phones
Nomi Technologies this week settled with the Federal Trade Commission over charges of a deceptive opt-out agreement. The company, which allows retailers to track consumers’ movements through their stores, made privacy policy promises it couldn’t keep. According to the FTC’s complaint, Nomi’s guidelines said the company would provide an opt-out mechanism at shops using its service, the implication being that customers would be informed of where the tracking technology is in use. But people were not cautioned, nor was there an in-store opt-out mechanism for those who did not want to be followed. Within the first nine months of 2013, Nomi allegedly collected information on 9 million mobile devices. Story by Stephanie Mlot for PC Magazine.

Chase Bank Now Gets More Deposits Through Cell Phones and ATMs than in Branches
Last year, for the first time, more people made deposits at Chase Bank using cell phones and ATMs than through tellers in branches. Mobile deposits in particular are growing at a stunning pace at Chase and most banks that offer customers the option. With mobile deposit, customers can use their smart phone to take a photo of a check and deposit it in seconds, instead of taking the time to drive to the bank, possibly stand in line at a branch and then drive home. Customers get email confirmations that the deposit was processed within seconds. Story by Teresa Dixon Murray for the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Cell Phones a Harder Hack Target than Computers
In the cyberwar against hackers, your phone could actually be safer than your computer. That’s coming from a top cybersecurity executive who tells CNBC that cell phones make a harder target. Smartphones and mobile devices are safer, says FireEye President Kevin Mandia, because Apple’s iOS operating system is a closed environment. “You buy the apps from the App Store, a single app store, and unless you ‘jailbreak’ it, it’s a small operating system so there’s less ways to hack it right now.” But the reason mobile is more difficult for hackers to break through is, “you can’t find those mobile devices via IP [Internet protocol] addresses like you can find a server at a company. Story by Trent Gillies for CNBC.

Google Changes Search Results to Reward Mobile Compatibility
Smartphone users may soon see a different set of search results when they type a term into Google. The search engine giant is transforming its coveted ranking algorithm to reward sites with mobile compatibility when people search for information on their smartphones. The more compatible the site is, the higher it will rank amongst its competition. Google’s ranking system has always been designed with the user in mind. Google strives to update and innovate its search engine to showcase websites, blogs and webpages that offer the most value to the user. In this case, having a website design that is mobile compatible ensures that customers can view the site easily on their phones. This improves the customer’s overall experience, and Google is seeking to reward that. Story by John Oldshue for SaveOnPhone.com.

Alabama Prisons Planning System to Block Inmates Cellphone Calls
Cellphones are prized possessions inside state prisons, so smuggling of the contraband devices is lucrative and hard to control. The Alabama Department of Corrections plans to tackle the problem in another way, blocking calls from inmates’ phones to make them essentially useless. Managed access systems put an umbrella over a defined area. They recognize calls from phones that have been approved and allow those calls and emergency calls to go through. They block calls and texts from unrecognized phones as well as incoming communications to those phones. Story by Mike Cason for AL.com.

Sprint to Offer Cell Phone Delivery for Upgrades
Sprint customers may soon have a new way to upgrade their cell phones, thanks to the company’s new Direct 2 U hand-delivery program. Under the new program, customers can upgrade their phones without having to leave their homes. A Sprint representative will drive their desired phone directly to the customer’s home. For security measures, consumers may also choose to meet the representatives at a more neutral location, like a restaurant or park. Sprint has invested in 5,000 company-branded cars and trained hundreds of contractors to set up and operate their phones. The contractors bring the specific phone the customer has ordered, as well as a range of similar devices in case the customer changes his mind. Story by Lynn Oldshue for SaveOnPhone.com.

Nokia’s Confirms Plans To Return To The Smartphone Market
Ever since Nokia sold off their mobile division to Microsoft, many have been wondering what the Finnish company would do for the future. Could the sale means that Nokia is now free to pursue and create Android phones to their liking? A report from earlier this week certainly suggested that was the case and apparently it looks like it has been confirmed. According to a report out of China (via G for Games), it seems that Nokia China’s president, Mike Wang, confirmed that the company will be returning to producing Android handsets come 2016. Wang also went on to confirm that the company’s R&D center would be relocated to Sichuan, China, but unfortunately apart from that, not much else is known. Story by Tyler Lee for Ubergizmo.

Canada Introduces Mobile Payments Code of Conduct
The Code of Conduct for the Canadian Credit and Debit Card Industry has been extended to mobile payments. Introduced in 2010, the code promotes merchant choice, fee transparency and disclosure, and fairness in the credit and debit card market, according to the Department of Finance. It stipulates that merchants who accept credit card payments from a card network aren’t required to accept debit card payments from the same network, and vice versa. Merchants are also allowed to provide discounts for different methods of payment–for example, cash, debit card and credit card–as well as different levels of discounts among different card networks. Story in Mobile Payments Today.

Alibaba, China Telecom Unveils Mobile Phones For Rural Users
Alibaba and China Telecom jointly announced they will begin selling inexpensive mobile phones with software developed for online shopping to spread e-commerce access to China’s less affluent and rural population, according to Alizaza, an Alibaba-funded news website focusing on the e-commerce industry. The phone, named “Tianyi Taobao Shopping Handsets,” will be offered with either the Mobile Taobao shopping app or the YunOS mobile operating system developed by Alibaba as a default feature. Mobile Taobao is the most popular mobile shopping app in China with more than 200 million monthly active users. China Telecom is one of the country’s three major mobile carriers with 186 million users as of the end of 2014. The phone is targeted at China’s third-and fourth-tier cities and rural areas where underdeveloped broadband and telecommunications infrastructure, along with the relatively high cost of computers have made shopping through smartphones a cheap and convenient option. Story by Jayson Derrick for Benzinga.

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.