Weekly Cell Phone News in Review–August 24, 2015

Police Snap Up Cheap Cellphone Trackers
Local law-enforcement agencies are buying cellphone-tracking equipment that is cheaper and smaller than earlier systems, according to documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, but it isn’t always clear whether court orders are needed to use the devices. The systems, which go by trade names such as “Jugular” and “Wolfhound,” are handheld and sometimes come with antennas so small they can be attached to clothing, according to public documents. The gadgets cost only a few thousand dollars each–far less than more sophisticated systems, and well within the reach of many local agencies. Story by Jennifer Valentino-DeVries for The Wall Street Journal.

Mobile Banking Usage to Double in Four Years
Mobile banking usage throughout the world is expected to double in less than four years, according to a new study from KPMG and UBS. In 2014, the number of mobile banking users was close to 800 million, but that number is expected to reach 1.8 billion by 2018. If these predictions hold true, roughly 25% of the world’s population will have a mobile banking account by the end of 2018. The report points out the need for banks to expand their mobile services and to invest in a high level of security, since 40% of respondents cited concerns about entering card details onto mobile devices. Story by Bill Hardekopf for LowCards.com.

MLB Allows Apple Watch in Dugouts, but Phones Remain Off Limits
For coaching in its annual All-Star Game, Major League Baseball gave Kansas City Royals manager Ned Yost an Apple Watch. As you might expect, Yost has been wearing quite a bit — even during games when cellphones and other devices are banned from the dugouts. The wearable raised some concerns over cheating, but after the league reached out to the manager for an explanation, the Apple Watch can remain on the wrists of team staff seated on the bench. Until now, the only approved device was telephone used to call from the dugout to the bullpen to discuss pitching changes. Of course, without an iPhone close by, the Apple Watch isn’t much more than a… well, watch. And that’s exactly what Yost told the league. Story by Billy Steele for Engadget.

Middle-Aged Drivers Admit to Using Cellphones While Driving, Even with Children in the Car
A new study published in Journal of Transport & Health reveals that middle-aged drivers are at higher risk of crashes because they use their cellphone regularly while driving. The research reveals that most drivers admit to using their cellphones regularly while driving, even with children in the car; drivers also feel pressured to answer work calls while driving. More than one in four car accidents are caused by cellphone use, according to the National Safety Council (NSC). A driver’s crash risk is eight times higher if they are texting on a cellphone and, despite seeming safe, talking hands-free makes drivers four times more likely to be involved in a crash. Story in Medical Xpress.

This Hollywood Sex Symbol Helped Invent Cellphones
The story of how a Hollywood sex symbol created a fundamental innovation that led to cellphones reads like a movie script. In 1937, Hedy Lamarr abandoned a successful European film career to become a Hollywood star. Although successful, she quickly became bored with the vapid nature of stardom. Unsatisfied with the intellectual limitations of Hollywood, Lamarr collaborated with an unlikely partner and together they created a fundamental invention which helped secure their lives of hundreds of thousands of servicemen and women. More significantly, their innovation subsequently became the basis one of the most significant products of the past century. Story by John Greathouse for Forbes.

Too Much Internet Can Make You Forgetful
Spending too much time online can cause you to forget things, daydream or face other “cognitive failures”, a new study has warned. The study is believed to be the first to explore the impact of excessive internet and mobile phone use on cognitive failures. The researchers found that excessive internet use draws resources away from mental functions that are essential for completing simple day-to-day tasks. Story in The Statesman.

Huge Phone Network Security Flaw Lets Anyone Bug Calls and Text Messages
Spy agencies like the NSA and many others aren’t the only ones able to bug your calls and text messages, a new investigation shows. It turns out that anyone with the right equipment and know-how can tap into a carrier’s phone network to access calls and text messages for without the target’s knowledge. Security researchers have proven that an SS7 inter-carrier network security flaw lets individuals track your cell phone anywhere in the world, and it can also be used to gain access to phone calls and text messages. Story by Chris Smith for BGR.

Plane Grounded by Passenger’s Overheated Mobile Phone
A British Airways Dreamliner plane was forced to divert after a passenger’s overheated mobile phone caused a scare in the cabin. The BA18 flight from Seoul to London’s Heathrow made an unplanned landing at Irkutsk Airport in southern Russia when the faulty device began emitting smoke. Story by Richard Williams for The Independent.

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.