Weekly Cell Phone News in Review–July 21, 2014

Cellphone Lanes an Elaborate Experiment
Pedestrians walking along sidewalk in the US capital found themselves with a choice this week. “No cellphones,” said lettering on one side of the footpath. “Cellphones,” the other lane said. “Walk at your own risk.” The walkway warnings, which ran about a block on Washington DC’s 18th Street, weren’t the work of city officials. Instead, they were put there by the brains behind a National Geographic television show as part of a behaviour experiment. Story by Jessica Gresko for Stuff.co.

Senate Passes Cellphone Unlocking Bill, Lets Users Keep Phones, Switch Carriers
The U.S. Senate has unanimously passed a bill legalizing cell phone unlocking, which will allow consumers to switch carriers and keep the same phones when their contracts expire. The bill creates an exemption to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), which made it illegal to disconnect a phone from the service provider it was sold from. Most phones are only programmed to function on a specific network when sold, but carriers have the option of removing such restrictions when a buyer’s contract is up. Consumers have been unlocking phones themselves for years–which is a legally dubious practice. Story by Giuseppe Macri for The Daily Caller.

Berkeley Pushes for Cancer Warning Stickers on Cell Phones
Berkeley, undaunted by abandoned efforts in San Francisco, is attempting to become the first city in the nation to require retailers to put stickers on cell phone packaging warning people that the devices may emit cancer-causing radiation. Berkeley is planning to consult a Harvard University law professor to draft the sticker language so it meets legal First Amendment guidelines. The wireless industry successfully fought off San Francisco’s attempt to force warnings in part by arguing that forcing manufacturers to issue warnings they disputed violated their First Amendment rights. Story by Carolyn Jones for SF Gate.

Samsung Considers Its Counterattack as Rivals Erode Cellphone Profit
What goes up must come down. That principle seems to be coming true for Samsung Electronics, the world’s top cellphone maker, whose profit is falling in part because of pressure from its price-cutting rivals in China. Samsung, a South Korean company, said last week that profit in the last quarter was expected to be 25 percent lower than in the period a year earlier. Among other factors, Samsung blamed intense competition from Chinese manufacturers for the decline. Companies like Xiaomi and Huawei have quickly increased market share in China over the last year with the help of handsets they sell at a break-even price. Story by Brian X. Chen for The New York Times.

Students Develop Drone to Locate Survivors via Their Mobile Phones
These days, most people are inseparable from their mobile phone, with the device being one of the essentials along with keys and cash or cards that people don’t leave home without. A project at EPFL’s Mobile Communications Laboratory is looking to take advantage of this fact by developing a drone that would help rescuers search for victims of natural disasters by locating their phones. Story by Darren Quick for GizMag.

McDonald’s Testing Smartphone Ordering App
McDonald’s is working on a new smartphone ordering system that allows you to bypass the drive-thru line. Place the order on your phone, wait in the parking lot, and someone will bring out your food. Smartphone ordering is still in the early stages of its development, but is currently being tested in the Columbus, Ohio area. Several locations now have “mobile ordering stations” where users can go to place their orders. Story by Justin Hefner for SaveOnPhone.com.

Mobile Phone Distraction Set to Become Biggest Killer on British Roads by 2015
Distracted driving is expected to be the biggest single cause of death and injuries on the roads by next year as a result of record levels of motorists using mobile phones to make calls, texts or update social media whilst driving. So says Simon Marsh, managing director of incident video camera firm SmartWitness, who believes that plans to double the current penalty for mobile phone use to six points on a motorist’s licence aren’t enough and is instead pressing for a one-year ban. Story in Fleet World Magazine.

With 18,000 Layoffs, Is Microsoft Giving Up On Low-Income Phone Users?
Microsoft announced Thursday morning that the company will eliminate a whopping 18,000 jobs. Newly acquired mobile phone maker Nokia will bear the brunt of the layoffs, with pink slips for about 12,500 professionals and factory workers. The layoffs could signal that the tech giant is losing interest in low-income consumers who are just starting to show interest in smartphones. Story by Aviva Shen for Think Progress.

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.