Weekly Cell Phone News in Review–December 21, 2015

Apple ‘Taps’ Into Chinese Mobile Payments
Apple announced that Apple Pay will launch in China as soon as 2016, in coordination with China’s leading card and payment platform UnionPay. UnionPay appears to be dictating the partnerships as it also expects to launch Samsung Pay and cooperate with Powa Technologies, a venture-backed mobile commerce company based in London. The news is more a reflection of UnionPay’s aggressive intent to expand the palate of mobile payment opportunities to its massive customer base (boasting over 4.6 billion cards in global circulation). Customers will be able to add their bank cards to iPhones, iPads and the Apple Watch for purchases through Apple Pay, with customers of Samsung Galaxy and Note devices offered similar options. Story by Jim Cramer and Jack Mohr for The Street.

Microsoft Delays its Windows 10 Mobile Upgrade to Early 2016
Microsoft had previously promised to deliver its Windows 10 Mobile update to existing Lumia devices this month, but the company is delaying its roll out. In a statement, Microsoft says the Windows 10 Mobile upgrade will now begin early next year to select devices running Windows Phone 8 and 8.1. “This November we introduced Windows 10 to phones including brand new features such as Continuum and Universal Windows Apps with the introduction of the Lumia 950 and 950 XL. The Windows 10 Mobile upgrade will begin rolling out early next year to select existing Windows 8 and 8.1 phones.” Story by Tom Warren for The Verge.

China’s Huawei Hopes to Connect With U.S. Smartphone Market
Huawei, the Chinese company whose telecom networking equipment is effectively banned in the U.S. due to security concerns, is making a renewed push to sell smartphones and other gadgets to consumers in America. Huawei, the world’s third-largest smartphone maker by shipments behind Samsung and Apple, plans to sell its flagship smartphone, the high-end Mate 8, in the U.S. for the first time next year. It intends to exhibit the phone, which went on sale in China this month for roughly $600, at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas next month, according to people familiar with the matter. The company also plans to showcase at CES a smartphone that sells in China for less than $300 called Honor 5X, and a new smartwatch, both of which will also be sold in the U.S. Story by Juro Osawa for The Wall Street Journal.

When it Comes to the Polls, Cellphones are not Donald Trump’s Friend
There’s a tricky aspect to polls: cellphones. With Americans increasingly using cellphones as their only phone line, pollsters can’t rely solely on land lines for outreach. There are wide demographic differences between people who live in cell-phone-only households and those in homes with landlines or both. Younger, poorer households are less likely to have landlines–in part because they move more often. A new survey conducted on behalf of the liberal group Democracy Corps finds that the method by which the survey was conducted makes a big difference. Calls to landlines put President Obama’s net approval at minus-16. In cellphone-only households, it was plus-1. Remember: There are demographics at play here. Older, wealthier voters are more likely to have landlines and more likely to be Republican. They are also more likely to vote. Story by Philip Bump for the Washington Post.

Gorilla Glass, Used for Cell Phones, Is Coming to Cars
The thin, lightweight glass on your smartphone could soon be found on your car. An automotive version of Corning Inc.’s Gorilla Glass–which is found on billions of mobile phones–will be used for the windshield and rear window of the new Ford GT sports car. Ford says the glass is more durable than traditional glass. It’s also 30 percent lighter, which saves fuel and improves the car’s handling. Gorilla Glass has been used by the consumer electronics industry in 2007. The automotive version has multiple layers for added safety, but it’s half as thick as a traditional windshield. Story by the Associated Press.

Nearly 40 Million People Might Not Be Able To Safely Browse The Web On Jan. 1
On the morning of Jan. 1, 2016, anyone with a cell phone more than five years old will be unable to access the encrypted web–which includes sites like Facebook, Google, and Twitter–according to a new plan to upgrade the way those sites are verified. It might not be a big deal in New York or San Francisco, where a 5-year-old phone is treated as an antique, but in some parts of the developing world up to 7% of internet users could find themselves suddenly cut off from the world’s most popular sites, according to research recently published by Facebook and CloudFlare. Story by Sheera Frenkel for Buzz Feed.

Feds Protect Secret Plan to Kill Cell Phone Service
People live their lives on their cell phones these days–more and more even are cutting off their land lines as an unnecessary expense and relying solely on their wireless links to the rest of the world. But what happens when the government decides–for whatever reason–to shut down that network? What if it just pulls the plug on Americans’ cell service? Among other impacts, people wouldn’t even be able to call 9-1-1 in an emergency, according to new documents filed with the U.S. Supreme Court by officials with Electronic Privacy Information Center. The organization has been fighting a campaign to gain access to the policy established by the federal government for shutting down cell-phone networks for whatever reasons may arise. The organization notes that the government did exactly that during a peaceful protest at a Bay Area Rapid Transit system station in 2012. Story by Bob Unruh for WND.

Wield your Phone as a Lightsaber with Google’s Latest Chrome Experiment
As if the hype train wasn’t at its limit, Google is making the lightsaber accessible to those of us who don’t have the good or bad fortune to be a Jedi or a Sith lord. In partnership with Disney and Lucasfilm, and Industrial Light & Magic, Google has launched “Lightsaber Escape,” a web game that uses your smartphone as a lightsaber. All you need to do is head on over to g.co/lightsaber on your phone and desktop to check out the latest Chrome Experiment. When you visit the desktop version, the site will give you a unique URL to visit on your smartphone. You’ll then have to calibrate your device in an upright position, simulating how you would wield a lightsaber, and then the experiment will start by throwing you into a training chamber. Once you’re done being trained, you’ll be practically a Jedi master in a Star Destroyer. Power up the lightsaber by hitting the button on your phone, and may the Force be with you. Story by Julian Chockkattu for Digital Trends.

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.