Weekly Cell Phone News in Review—March 6, 2017

Cellphones at the Iditarod? The Race, like Alaska’s Climate, is Changing
For the first time, mushers beginning the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Monday will be allowed to carry iPhones and Androids alongside their axes and snowshoes. In this most old-school of endurance sports, the change has traditionalists grumbling. “The Iditarod has – to this point – remained one musher, one team, get to Nome on your own,” said two-time winner Mitch Seavey, 57, who signed a failed petition to undo the new rule. “This opens the door for coaching and for any sort of encouragement over the phone.” The notion of iPhones tucked in the parkas of icicle-bearded mushers challenges the race’s carefully fostered image of bootstrap self-reliance. But Alaska, and the Iditarod, are changing. Race officials have long allowed mushers to pass the lonely hours on their sleds listening to music and books on tape, but devices capable of communicating with the world beyond the wilderness were forbidden. That changed in 2016. The Iditarod Trail Committee board of directors approved the two-way communication rule after a man riding a snowmobile struck two teams during last year’s race. One husky was killed and other dogs on the team of four-time winner Jeff King were injured in the bizarre incident, which frightened mushers who were miles from the nearest village and unable to call for help. The snowmobiler, Arnold Demoski, was arrested and later pleaded guilty to assault, reckless endangerment and drunken driving. Story by Kyle Hopkins for The Washington Post.

Archbishop Challenges Congregation to Give Up Cell Phones for Lent
Ash Wednesday is the day for Catholics around the world to give something up for 40 days.  One Connecticut Archbishop is asking parishoners to give up their cell phones. He started a campaign for the lent season called #IPhonefast, an effort to try to get parishioners to give up their phones for the next 40 days or, at the very least, do so on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. Story by John Hart for WJBF.

Spicer Checks WH Staffers’ Phones for Leaks, Vows More Searches Coming
As the Trump administration hunts for the source of a series of politically embarrassing leaks that have plagued the young administration, dozens of White House staffers have had their phones searched in what is being termed “recess” compared to what may be planned, two top administration officials told Fox News. One official told Fox that White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer called nearly two dozen staffers into his office and demanded the staffers’ cell phones in order to check for evidence of leaks. Spicer warned that the initial search would be “recess” compared to what awaits staffers in round two of the investigation, if the leaker–or leakers–aren’t discovered. Story by Cody Derespina for Fox News.

Tougher Penalties Begin for UK Drivers Using Mobile Phones
Newly qualified drivers will lose their licence if caught using a handheld mobile phone at the wheel, under tougher penalties that come into force in England, Scotland and Wales on Wednesday. Penalty points and fines for using a phone while driving will double, to six points and £200, in what the government said it hoped would act as a strong deterrent to what motoring organisations call an “epidemic” on the roads. Drivers can have their licence revoked if they accrue six points within two years of passing their test. Those caught using their mobile twice, or who accrue 12 points on their licence, will face magistrates’ court, disqualification and fines of up to £1,000. Twenty-two people were killed and 99 seriously injured in road accidents where drivers were using a mobile phone last year in Britain. Story by Gwyn Topham for The Guardian.

Five Trends at Mobile World Congress
The phone industry’s largest annual trade fair, the Mobile World Congress which wrapped up in Barcelona on Thursday, was dominated by longer lasting batteries and fast charging; drones and robots; virtual reality; virtual assistants; and connected devices. Story by Daniel Silva, Emmanuelle Michel, Erwan Lucas for Phys Org.

Google Says to ‘Count On’ a Second-Generation Pixel Smartphone This Year
Google’s Pixel smartphone this year was a significant reset for the company’s mobile hardware strategy – and one that earned a lot of praise from customers and critics. Good news for those who liked it: Pixel’s successor will arrive sometime in 2017, as confirmed by Google SVP of Hardware Rick Osterloh. It sounds like the Pixel 2 will continue the tradition of the original – Osterloh said it’ll remain “premium” in its next iteration, and he added that the company isn’t interested in offering a low-cost version, preferring instead to let that segment be addressed by its external hardware partners. While it was to be expected that Google would put out a smartphone this year, since the annual release cycle for hardware is hardly new, Osterloh’s confirmation tells us a few things about the company’s strategy that weren’t previously totally pinned down. First, we know Google’s staying the course with the new strategy it set out with Pixel, whereby it aims to compete more directly with the iPhone. Second, we know it’s not going to split its focus by simultaneously going after mid- and low-market opportunities at the same time. Story by Darrell Etherington for Tech Crunch.

10 Reasons Why Cybercriminals Target Smartphones
There is little doubt that smartphones have become a central part of our lives, allowing us to perform all sorts of tasks that make our everyday existence easier and more enjoyable. But while they aim to heighten convenience, there is a real feeling that smartphones are becoming a bigger target for cybercriminals. So why are criminals so eager to get into our devices? Story in We Live Security.

Most Small Business Owners Have Negative View of Mobile Banking
Small businesses are generally early adopters of technology, but a new survey conducted by RateWatch on the subject of mobile banking says otherwise. The perception of 69 percent of the respondents regarding this technology was not positive. Another data point in the survey corroborates this fact, as 34 percent never used mobile banking even though it was available to them. This goes against the trend in personal mobile banking, which according to a survey by the Federal Reserve, has increased by 39 percent in 2014 and 33 percent in 2013. So where is the divide between consumers and small businesses? Story by Michael Guta for Small Business Trends.

15 Seconds Of Fame, MLBAM Partner To Give Baseball Fans The ‘Ultimate Selfie’
MLB fans at all 30 league ballparks will now have the opportunity to receive the “ultimate selfie,” Brett Joshpe, Chief Executive Officer of 15 Seconds of Fame (15SOF) told ESPN. 15SOF, a technology and social sharing platform, announced Thursday a multi-year partnership with Major League Baseball Advanced Media (MLBAM) to deliver personal highlights and video footage to fans after they appear on television or in-stadium jumbotrons. After baseball fans download the 15SOF app and upload a photo, facial recognition software takes over, sending highlights to fans who appear in-stadium after the ending of each game. Then they’re able to share special moment across social media, with 96 percent of users doing so, according to 15SOF. Throughout this MLB season, the three-year-old 15SOF–which is currently partnered with NHL, NBA, NFL and NCAA teams such as the New Jersey Devils and University of Michigan–will capture over 5,000 MLB broadcast feeds as fans receive their personalized video. Story by Mark J. Burns for Sport Technie.

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.