Weekly Cell Phone News in Review–June 1, 2015

Google Seeks to Expand Android System Beyond Cellphones
Google made public on Thursday its intention to expand its Android mobile operating system far beyond cellphones, unveiling plans to penetrate a growing number of aspects of daily life with its software. The latest version will be called Android M and will be available to the public at the end of the year. Google’s vice president for products, Sundar Pichai, launched the two-day conference at which the company announced a new platform to connect more devices to the Web, plans to improve smartwatches operated by Android and a renewed effort to develop virtual reality and its photo-sharing service, among other things. Pichai said the firm was announcing Brillo, an operating system for the “Internet of things,” as the growing trend to connect daily objects like dishwashers, locks and air conditioners to the Web is known. Google’s No. 2 exec added that a system called Weave will make it possible for devices to communicate among themselves and for a lock connected to the Internet to be able to send “open” or “closed” messages to the owner’s device or computer. Story by Teresa Bouza for Fox News Latino.

Cell Phones Are Causing More and More Car Crashes
More than a quarter of all car crashes in America are likely caused by cell phone use, a study by the Nation Safety Council has shown. According to the NSC, the estimate for crashes caused by texting rose to at least 6% in 2013. Additionally, 21% of crashes in 2013 were related to the use of handheld or hands-free phones. The council estimates that talking on the phone led to 1.2 million wrecks in 2013 , while texting was involved in at least 341,000 more. Story by Christopher Woody for Business Insider.

Lifeline Phones Should be Enhanced to Ensure Public Safety
Why can’t most inexpensive cellphones receive life-saving emergency weather alerts? Why, unlike people in much of the world, can’t Americans listen to emergency information broadcasts on their cellphones? These are not accidents or unanticipated consequences. These are the results of deliberate decisions by the U.S. cell phone system that should be addressed by the Federal Communications Commission. Based on a series of meetings with high-level participants from government, industry and academia, the USC Annenberg Center for Communication Leadership & Policy recommends that the FCC ensure that cellphone carriers receiving subsidies through the commission’s Lifeline program provide affordable mobile phones equipped with emergency services for all Americans. Story by Geoffrey Baum for USC News.

The FCC Has a Plan to Stop Robocalls
The federal government has proposed new rules that would crack down on robocalls, making it easier for landline — and wireless phone — users to put a stop to unwanted calls and texts. The Federal Communications Commission plans to vote June 18 on a set of new rules aimed at addressing what it says is the top consumer complaint it receives. The measures, if approved, would take effect immediately. Story by Mike Cetera for Bankrate.

Mobile Banking Security Still a Barrier for Consumers
Customers are increasingly turning to mobile apps to make simple banking transactions, but a significant portion of those who don’t bank using mobile devices cite security concerns as the reason. In a Deloitte report, it was found that of the respondents who do not regularly use mobile devices for financial services, 61 percent listed security issues as the prime reason. Meanwhile, a Verizon report suggests that mobile malware is not currently a significant point of attack for cybercriminals. A number of suspects believed to be responsible for one of the first major banking malware threats – known as Svpeng – were arrested in Russia last month. The malware which spreads via text message is said to have infected more than 350,000 Android devices last year, targeting smartphones and tablets with banking software installed, locking them, and then holding the owners to ransom. Story by Kyle Ellison for We Live Security.

Restaurants Should Embrace Mobile Payments
Restaurants are not meeting the demands customers have for mobile payments in their establishments, according to a new survey. One in four respondents said restaurants would be the most likely to utilize mobile payments in the coming years. The survey also found men to be twice as likely to use a mobile payment platform as women. Millennials show the strongest interest in mobile payments, with 41.9% of mobile payment users falling in this age range. For respondents who do not use mobile payments, one in five said their dining experiences had been hindered by payment-related issues, like determining what to tip or waiting for a server to pick up the bill. Mobile payments have the potential to eliminate these nuisances, improving the guests’ experience. Story by Lynn Oldshue for SaveOnPhone.com.

44% of Parents Struggle to Limit Cell Phone Use at Playgrounds
A new University of Washington study finds that cell phone use at playgrounds is a significant source of parental guilt, as well as a powerful distraction when children try to get caregivers’ attention or ask to them to watch a monkey bar trick for the hundredth time. The largest group of surveyed parents, nannies and adult babysitters–44 percent–felt they ought to restrict cell phone use while watching children at playgrounds but felt guilty for failing to live up to those ideals, the study found. Researchers also observed that caregivers absorbed in their phones were much less attentive to children’s requests than when they were chatting with friends or caring for other children. The most common mobile phone uses on playgrounds were texting with friends and family, taking pictures and emailing. Story by Jennifer Langston for University of Washington.

Millennials are a Bigger Risk to Mobile Security than Other Age Groups
Around half of the workforce will be millennials by 2020, but according to a new survey by endpoint security specialists Absolute Software they’re likely to present a bigger risk to data security. The survey questioned more than 750 Americans over the age of 18 who work for a company with 50 or more employees and use an employer-owned mobile device. Security isn’t their responsibility according to 50 percent of respondents and 30 percent believe there should be no penalty for losing company data. Whilst only five percent of baby boomers compromise IT security the figure jumps to 25 percent for millennials. 64 percent use their work machine for personal use compared to only 37 percent of boomers, and 27 percent have not safe for work content on their device compared to only five percent. Story by Ian Barker for Beta News.

Radio Signals Can be Used to Boost Cell-Phone Battery Life
Cell phones are constantly transmitting radio signals, whose energy can also be used to boost the battery life of mobile devices. Researchers at Ohio State University have developed circuitry that converts radio signals from a handset into energy, which is then fed back to the device’s battery. The researchers say the technology can increase the battery life of mobile devices by up to 30 percent. Story by Agam Shah for Computer World.

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.