Weekly Cell Phone News in Review—January 8, 2018

White House Bans Personal Cell Phones from the West Wing
The White House is banning the use of personal cell phones within the West Wing, citing security concerns, a move that has prompted widespread frustration amongst staffers. “The security and integrity of the technology systems at the White House is a top priority for the Trump administration and therefore, starting next week, the use of all personal devices for both guests and staff will no longer be allowed in the West Wing,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement Thursday morning. Sanders said staff will continue be able to conduct business on government-issued devices. Story by Maegan Vazquez and Betsy Klein for CNN

Chip Flaws Put World’s Computers, Smartphones at Risk
Tech companies around the world are reeling and rushing to provide fixes for two microprocessor flaws that have put nearly all the computing devices in the world at risk from hackers. The flaws, dubbed Meltdown and Spectre, are in chips made by Intel and other major suppliers. They can allow hackers to steal data from the memory of running apps, including password managers, browsers and emails. The flaws were first disclosed by British technology news site the Register on Tuesday and made public Wednesday by the researchers who discovered them. Because the flaws date back more than two decades and Intel chips are ubiquitous among computers, cloud servers and mobile devices, they affect nearly all computing devices in operation and servers that store memories in the cloud. Users have little choice but to wait for new software patches from makers of their devices, the researchers said. Story by Seung Lee for the Bay Area News Group

Miscarriage Rates Triple for Women with Top Radiation Exposures
Pregnant women exposed to high radiation levels from sources like cell phones, wireless devices and cell towers miscarried at nearly three times the rate as those exposed to low levels, according to new research. “I hope this study makes us rethink the notion that magnetic field non-ionising radiation exposure is safe or has no health risk,” said lead author Dr De-Kun Li, a senior research scientist at the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research in Oakland, California. “This is certainly something we can’t just ignore.” Cell phones, cordless phones and other wireless devices, appliances, power lines, smart-meter networks and cell towers generate non-ionising radiation from magnetic fields. Story by Ronnie Cohen for Reuters

Speedy 5G Service is Coming to Smartphones Later This Year, AT&T Says
Could blistering fast 5G service come to smartphones sooner than expected? AT&T says it will launch mobile 5G in a dozen U.S. markets late this year, staking the claim that it expects to be the first U.S. carrier to offer such blazing speeds to phones. The carrier has been in a race against Verizon Wireless to deliver this next generation of cell-phone service to U.S. consumers. The jump to 5G will mean super-fast smartphones, and the transition will also have a significant impact on technology such as virtual reality, self-driving cars and other Internet-connected gadgets. Story by Edward C. Baig for USA Today

Four Of Five Smartphones To Have Artificial Intelligence
Eighty percent of smartphones shipped in 2022 will have artificial intelligence capabilities, up from 10% last year as Apple, Samsung and others move from voice assistants to augmented reality and other apps, says research firm Gartner. “With smartphones increasingly becoming a commodity device, vendors are looking for ways to differentiate their products,” C.K. Lu, research director at Gartner. Story by Reinhardt Krause for Investor’s Business Daily

False Earthquake Warning Panics Japan
An emergency earthquake warning sent to millions of people in Japan caused a brief panic on Friday and disrupted Tokyo’s transport network. But the loud alert, which was sent to millions of mobile phones, turned out to be a false alarm triggered by an error in the earthquake warning system. “An earthquake has occurred off the coast of Ibaraki,” the message read. “Prepare for strong jolts.” Train services were suspended but there were no reports of injuries or damage. Officials believe the alert, sent by the Japan Meteorological Agency, was caused by the early warning system misreading two minor earthquakes as one larger one. Story in the BBC.

One Difference Between 2009 vs 2018 Iran Protests? 48 Million Smartphones
In 2009, the world watched as Iranians marching in the streets turned to social media sites like Twitter and Facebook to organize and share information. The technology-assisted protests were dubbed the first “Twitter revolution.” Flash forward to 2018 and technology again is playing a role in demonstrations sweeping cities across Iran. But much has changed in the intervening years when it comes to the communication tools used by Iranian citizens for organizing and publicizing protests. In 2009, fewer than 15 percent of Iranians had internet access, according to the World Bank. Now, with the advent of smartphones in Iran – about half of Iranians, or 48 million people, have smartphones. More than 50 percent of Iranians are online. Story by Michelle Quinn for Voice of America

Consumers Want Biometrics—How Will Payments Respond?
A recent study by Visa showed that, unsurprisingly, consumers are ready to say goodbye and good riddance to passwords, both because of the friction they create when trying to remember them – and the inevitable stutter step that the “forgot password” prompt creates – and because in the aftermath of the Equifax breach, the public has never been more conscious of how far passwords fall short in preventing fraud and keeping their data secure. However, despite consumer and issuer enthusiasm for more secure authentication technology, industry movement around what consumers say they want instead – biometric authentication – has been slower to get off the ground than everyone would like. A lack of understanding of how to integrate and use this new technology within their financial institutions – and then what it will take in terms of cost and manpower to implement it – may be to blame. Story in PYMNTS.

Bank of America Becomes First to Receive J.D. Power App Certification
Bank of America is the first to achieve J.D. Power and Associates Mobile App Certification, which recognizes “brands that provide an exceptional mobile app experience.” The certification was announced Thursday. J.D. Power, a market research company, awards certification based on a vetting process. A company must rank high in a customer satisfaction benchmark, and it must pass an extensive evaluation of 250 mobile app practices. Some of those practices include navigation, messaging and notifications, channel management, quality in the app store, user interface and digital process and governance, a press release states. J.D. Power conducted this process in collaboration with Centric Digital. Story by Caroline Hudson for the Charlotte Business Journal.

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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.