Weekly Cell Phone News in Review—April 3, 2017

How Samsung Will Sell ‘Safe’ with Galaxy S8
Samsung got burned by last year’s Galaxy Note 7, and it’s determined not to let that happen again. The company added a more stringent battery testing process, which it says exceeds industry standards. It also lowered the capacity of the battery going into the Galaxy S8 and tweaked its chemistry so it lasts longer. All of this effort goes into ensuring that the Galaxy S8, with its sleek, curvy 5.8-inch display, is Samsung’s safest phone ever. The stakes are high for the company to prove that it can still turn out high-quality products — if any more battery issues flare up, the company will likely never win back your trust. A flawless launch will help Samsung move past the Note 7 debacle, something it’s eager to do. Story by Shara Tibken for CNet

U.S. Pedestrian Deaths Surge; Experts See Tie to Cellphones
U.S. pedestrian deaths rose sharply for the second year in a row in 2016, according to a study released on Thursday, a trend experts said mirrors increased driver cellphone use and distracted driving. Last year saw an 11 percent rise in pedestrian deaths over 2015, making it the largest increase in the 40 years that national records have been kept, according to officials with the Governors Highway Safety Association, which represents state highway safety offices and commissioned the research. This followed a 9.5 percent increase in 2015. Story by Tom James for Reuters

Smartphone Malware Spiked 400% in ’16
Mobile phones are becoming increasingly susceptible to malware, with Finnish telecom company Nokia finding in its twice annual Threat Intelligence Report that the incidents of malware on smartphones increased 400% in 2016. According to Nokia, malware hit 1.35% of all mobile devices around the globe in October, marking the highest level since malware reports on smartphones started being collected in 2012. In the second half of last year, smartphones were the most-targeted devices, accounting for 85% of all infections on mobile devices, reported Nokia. The report found Android-based smartphones and tablets were the main target of hackers, largely because Alphabet Inc.’s Google’s Android operating system is the prevalent one around the globe. Apple Inc.’s iOS devices were also hit with attacks in 2016, with Nokia finding the attacks were mainly via spyphone surveillance software that can track users’ calls, texts, social media interactions, searches on the web and GPS locations among other things. Nokia noted that there are also “major vulnerabilities” in the market of Internet of Things (IoT) devices. Story by Donna Fuscaldo for Investopedia

No Cellphones Backstage for Accountants after Oscar Flub
PwC accountants won’t be allowed to have their cellphones backstage during future Oscar telecasts. Film academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs sent an email to academy members Wednesday detailing the new protocols for announcing Oscar winners developed after the best-picture flub at last month’s Academy Awards. Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences spokeswoman Teni Melidonian confirmed the authenticity of the email. The academy’s Board of Governors discussed its ongoing relationship with PwC, formerly known as PricewaterhouseCoopers, and established the new controls at a meeting Tuesday night. Besides banning cellphones, the academy is adding a third balloting partner to the telecast, and bringing in PwC’s U.S. chairman to provide oversight. Story by Sandy Cohen for the Associated Press

Qualcomm Unveils Product for Lower-Priced Cell Phones
Qualcomm is introducing a new product designed to bring faster wireless service to basic, lower-priced cellphones in emerging markets, an attempt to bolster the chip giant’s reach among consumers who can’t afford smartphones. The new product, which starts shipping in the second quarter, includes a processor along with other hardware and software that will enable so-called feature phones to take advantage of today’s faster wireless networks, the company said. The new offering-designed for phones to be sold in markets such as India, Latin America and Southeast Asia-allows for longer battery life and faster access to social media and other content, it said. In those markets, Qualcomm said, feature phones typically cost from $15 to $50 and were designed for older generation – 2G and 3G – wireless networks. Feature phones made with the new Qualcomm chips will cost about $50 and be designed for the current 4G wireless network. Story by Betsy Morris for The Wall Street Journal

FCC Votes to Let Prisons More Easily Shut Down Contraband Cellphones
In a 3-0 vote, the FCC today opened up options for jails and prisons to more easily use new technology to shut down contraband cellphones in facilities. The agency’s order notes that correctional facilities have already employed “contraband interdiction systems,” which are able to block wireless devices in a designated area. The systems require FCC approval before they can be used. Today’s order speeds up the authorization process by cutting back on paperwork, and also requires wireless carriers to work with facilities on the use of contraband interdiction systems. It also requests further comment on other technology-based solutions to the problem. Story by Colin Lecher for The Verge

Cell Phones Connect, Disrupt Students’ Relationships to Parents
A new study co-authored by Illinois State University’s Aimee Miller-Ott contains good news and bad news for helicopter parents of college students when it comes to cell phone use. The bad news? Students report more conflict over cell phone use with parents who do a lot of helicopter parenting. The good news? Students who have fathers who helicopter a lot tend to say they feel closer to them. (Don’t worry helicopter moms, students feel the same closeness whether you are a high or low helicopter parent.) Story by Rachel Hatch for Illinois State University

Is Your Cell Phone Killing Your Productivity At Work?
While I am convinced some apps make us more productive, I searched to find out if the cost outweighed the benefit. In other words, we multitask so much with our phones, that it may be killing our productivity at work. First, it’s important to understand that our phones have an impact on our mental health and emotions. Studies have shown that dopamine responses in the brain cause us to engage in pleasure seeking behavior as it relates to phone usage. We send a message and seek a response, or search for information and are rewarded with the answer. There is actually a name for this cell phone addiction and it’s called nomophobia. If we are addicted to the alerts and messages our phone provide, it would make sense that it could be impacting our work. Story by Kaytie Zimmerman for Forbes

Facebook Messenger To Reportedly Pull Support For Windows Phones
Well, here comes a bad news for Windows phone users. Facebook has reportedly announced that it will drop the support for Messenger app for smartphones running on Windows 8.1 or below. Therefore, starting next month, about 76.3% of Windows phone which are currently running Windows 8.1 OS or below won’t be able to install Messenger app. However, this announcement shouldn’t affect too many people as Windows phone share market has already plummeted down to less than 1%. Story by Narender Charan for Pricebaba

Wells Fargo Launches Card-Free ATM Access
Wells Fargo on Monday began to offer card-free ATM access through a coast-to-coast rollout of changes in how people can access the ubiquitous machines. Instead of a physical card, customers will be able to use their mobile Wells Fargo app to choose card-free ATM access and then obtain a one-time token for that session to conduct transactions at the machine. The bank wants to create more ways to conduct the same transaction over multiple platforms. The new technology is available at all 13,000 Wells Fargo ATM devices. Story by George Avalos for The Mercury News


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.