Weekly Cell Phone News in Review—March 27, 2017

Wells Fargo Will Now Let Customers Withdraw Money Using Their Smartphones
Wells Fargo customers will soon be able to use their smartphones, rather than their cards, to withdraw money from the bank’s ATMs. The company announced that as of Monday next week, it was upgrading all 13,000 of its cash machines across the United States with smartphone functionality, requiring that customers provide only their PIN and an eight-digit code (generated from the Wells Fargo app) to access their accounts. Both Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase also have similar technology in the works, but Wells Fargo’s move makes it the first major bank in the US to roll out cardless cash withdrawals at its ATMs. The company trialed the project at select locations earlier this year, and says that it should provide more security for customers, as well as more convenience. Story by Rich McCormick for The Verge.

The Days of Google Talk are Over
The days of Google Talk are quickly coming to an end. As the company announced today, the messaging service that allowed Gmail users to talk to each other since it launched in 2005, will now be completely retired. Even while Google pushed Hangouts as its consumer messaging service (before Allo, Duo, Hangouts Chat and Hangouts Meet) over the last few years, it still allowed die-hard Gtalk users (and there are plenty of them) to stick to their preferred chat app. Over the next few days, these users will get an “invite” to move to Hangouts. After June 26, that switch will be mandatory. The legacy Google Talk Android app, which hasn’t been available for years now, will also stop functioning soon. Those users are, of course, “encouraged” to install Hangouts. Story by Frederic Lardinois for Tech Crunch.

Nokia to Start Shipping its Smartphones Globally by April 2017
Nokia finally dug itself out of the grave entering the Android realm and unveiling three new budget smartphones- Nokia 3, Nokia 5 and Nokia 6. A tweet by Nokia’s official Twitter handle gives us a little more information for the devices to hit the store shelves. “We’re aiming to release worldwide in Q2 2017 (April – June) at an affordable price and great quality.” The brand is set to unveil its fresh line of smartphones worldwide by Q2 of 2017. So we could expect at least one of these smartphones to start shipping globally in April. Moreover, the tweet has also pointed out ‘affordable price and great quality’, which should be good news for many. Story by Monit Khanna for PC Mag.

Your iPhone’s Dirtier Than a Toilet, and So Are These Other Everyday Items
The next time you answer your smartphone and press it firmly to your face, consider this: Are you touching fecal matter right now? Quite possibly. Researchers at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine found fecal matter on one out of every six smartphones in a 2011 study. Add to that the work of Charles Gerba, a famed University of Arizona microbiologist who found cell phones carry 10 times the bacteria of most toilet seats. Familiar items we touch every day, from cellphones to kitchen sinks, swarm with far more germs than our toilets. And while 80 percent of infections come from what we touch, we rarely clean these ordinary items as often as our porcelain thrones. Story by Josh Hafner for USA Today.

Starbucks Ramps Up Digital Plans, Especially Voice-Activated Ones
While Starbucks’ is ramping up its commitment to digital initiatives, one of its newest programs gives a new meaning to “ordering on the go.” Expanding the integration of Amazon Alexa in its Mobile Order & Pay platform, the coffee giant is now adding Ford vehicles to the mix. Later this year, Starbucks customers with a Ford car equipped with Sync 3 vehicle communications and entertainment system will be able to order Starbucks beverages by saying, “Alexa, ask Starbucks to start my order.” This is the newest example of Starbucks’ commitment to voice-enabled ordering. For example, in January, the chain introduced My Starbucks barista functionality, powered by artificial intelligence, a service that allows Starbucks Mobile App users to place their orders via voice command or messaging interface. Since its launch, the service is now available to more than 100,000 customers across the U.S. Starbucks is also pursuing services designed to drive true one-to-one personalization. The company is currently testing personalized offers that it delivers to customers directly on their app’s opening screen, a message that includes suggested selling and recommendations. Story by Deena M. Amato-McCoy for Chain Store Age.

Prosecutors Are Extracting Data From More Than 100 Locked Phones Seized During Inauguration Day Arrests
Prosecutors are extracting data from more than 100 locked cell phones seized during arrests in downtown Washington, DC, on President Trump’s Inauguration Day, according to court papers prosecutors filed on Wednesday. Prosecutors said they had search warrants to pull data from the phones, which were taken from individuals arrested on Inauguration Day, including some who were not indicted. All of the phones were locked, according to the government, “which requires more time-sensitive efforts to try to obtain the data.” But the filing appeared to indicate that they were successful in accessing information on the phones. There are 214 people facing a felony rioting charge in connection with demonstrations on Jan. 20 that turned violent and, according to prosecutors, involved more than $100,000 in property damage. A handful of defendants are also facing separate charges for destruction of property and assaulting police. Story by Zoe Tillman for BuzzFeed.

Warning of Shortage of Essential Minerals for Laptops, Cell Phones, Wiring
Researchers say global resource governance and sharing of geoscience data is needed to address challenges facing future mineral supply. Specifically of concern are a range of technology minerals, which are an essential ingredient in everything from laptops and cell phones to hybrid or electric cars to solar panels and copper wiring for homes. Story in Science Daily.

All Jeans Should Have This Cool Sixth Pocket for Smartphones
The most uncomfortable part of owning a big smartphone is just how big of a pain it is carrying it in your jeans pockets. Try running errands with a big phone in your pockets and you will know what we are talking about. It takes a simple solution to fix this problem, but up until now, jeans and pants makers have not taken any steps to make carrying our phones in jeans pockets easier. This changes with the new Muji jeans that come with a special sixth pocket made specifically for you to carry your smartphone in. The pocket is located on the back, slightly above the back pockets and slightly to the side, so that you do not destroy your phone when you decide to sit down. And it will fit even phones with cases on them. Story by Victor H. for Phone Arena.

Your Smartphone May Be Ruining Your Relationships, Even When It’s Off
A study by online security company AVG found that 54 percent of children thought their parents check their devices too often and 32 percent of kids feel unimportant when parents are distracted by their phones. A quarter of parents want to check their phones less often. And while it sounds logical that if your phone bothers your family or your partner–and if you agree that you want to check your phone less frequently– the simple move would be to stop using your phone as often as you’re using it. A study found it damaged relationships when partners allowed their devices to interrupt their face-to-face interactions, turned to others online instead of confiding in their partner or compared their relationship with those they saw on social media. When technology devices frequently interrupted partners, couples had more conflict over technology use, lower relationship satisfaction, more depressive symptoms and lower life satisfaction. But the phone doesn’t even have to be turned on to be disruptive. A study by researchers at the University of Essex found that simply having a phone nearby while discussing an intimate topic made strangers report a lower relationship quality during the chat than the strangers who had the same talk without a cellphone in view. Story by Danielle Braff for the Chicago Tribune.

Consumer Adoption of Major Mobile Payment Apps Stalls
Mobile payment adoption among U.S. consumers appears to have stalled, with the exception of Apple Pay, and those with the apps aren’t using them frequently, according to a new survey. The study stated that fewer than one in 20 consumers who have one of the major mobile digital wallet apps—a group that includes Apple Pay, Samsung Pay and Android Pay—use they app when the opportunity arises. Some consumers reported they don’t use the mobile payment apps often because they are happy with their current payment cards and cash. Respondents for the most part said that security was not an issue in their lack of mobile wallet usage. Story by Dan O’Shea for Retail Dive.

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.