Weekly Cell Phone News in Review–May 26, 2015

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Kids Do a Lot Better When Schools Ban Smartphones
Schools that ban students from carrying phones see a clear improvement in their test scores, according to a study by the London School of Economics. “We found the impact of banning phones for these students equivalent to an additional hour a week in school, or to increasing the school year by five days,” researchers Richard Murphy and Louis-Philippe Beland said. The authors looked at how phone policies at 91 schools in England have changed since 2001, and compared that data with results achieved in national exams taken at the age of 16. The study covered 130,000 pupils. It found that following a ban on phone use, the schools’ test scores improved by 6.4%. The impact on underachieving students was much more significant — their average test scores rose by 14%. Story by Ivana Kottasova for CNN Money.

NSA Planned to Infect Phones with Malware via Google Play Store
Malware in the Google Play Store and Samsung app store is nothing new, but when it comes comes from the US National Security Agency, then that’s a whole new threat level. An NSA app-hijacking program, dubbed IRRITANT HORN, was set up by the US as part of a joint spying unit, according to new documents from controversial whistle-blower Edward Snowden and obtained by The Intercept and CBC News. It also involved Canada, the UK, Australia and New Zealand. Story by Kevin Oliver for Tech Radar.

How Millennials Can Navigate Cell Phone Contracts
Smartphones are the veritable Swiss army knives of technology for millions of millennials. In fact, 87% of adults aged 18 to 34 admit that their phone never leaves their side, according to Zogby Analytics. Because smartphones play such a pivotal role in the lives of Gen Y, it’s worth knowing how to find the best cell phone contract once it’s time to sign up for your own plan. Failing to read the fine print can leave your wallet in a world of hurt. If you’re on the hunt for a new phone contract, here’s what you need to consider. Story by Graham Ober for the Huffington Post.

More Than a Quarter of U.S. Crashes Involve Cell Phone Use
Inattentive driving involving cell phones accounts for more than a quarter of all car crashes in the U.S. , according to a new study. The National Safety Council estimated that 21 percent of all crashes (1.2 million out of 5.7 million collisions in 2013) were attributable to cell phone use. And texting while driving could account for another 6 to 16 percent of the total, raising the actual percentage of crashes involving cell phones from 27 percent to 37 percent, the non-profit group said in a report. Story by William J. Gorta for NBC News.

Distracted Drivers Using Social Media
Distracted drivers are no longer just texting and talking on their cellphones in their car – now, they’re using social media and snapping selfies. A new study from AT&T, polling more than 2,000 people who use smartphones and drive at least once a day, shows nearly 4-in-10 smartphone users tap into social media while driving. Almost 3-in-10 surf the net, while a surprisingly 1-in-10 take it even further and video chat. The study shows 7-in-10 people engage in smartphone activities while driving, with texting and emailing still the most prevalent. Story on CBS DC.

Escape the Smartphone Distractions with the Light Phone
Ever feel overwhelmed with text messages, email alerts, Facebook updates, and all the other distractions on your smartphone? If so, the Light Phone may be the answer for you. Light Phone takes away all of the fancy features of modern-day smartphones and brings cellular technology back to its roots – making and receiving calls. The device is about the size of a standard credit card, weighing just 38.5 grams. It can be used on its own or alongside a smartphone, with a companion app that forwards calls to the device. The Light Phone comes with an unlocked SIM card that can be used on any GSM network. Perhaps the greatest feature on the Light Phone is the 20 day battery life. Story by John Oldshue for SaveOnPhone.com.

PayPal’s Vision for the Future of Digital Payments
PayPal is plotting a future for its digital payment ecosystem ahead of its planned split from eBay. The company announced a new feature that will allow users to pay with its single touch payment option in mobile apps without having PayPal downloaded to their phone. Company executives also revealed a new partnership with e-commerce platform Bigcommerce, which will add PayPal One Touch as a checkout option. Story by Ruth Reader for Venture Beat.

How MasterCard Send Continues The Quest To End Cash
MasterCard has had one overarching goal for years: the end of cash. Analog payments like cash and checks are antithetical to a company whose primary mission is to digitize and facilitate transactions. Any payments process between consumers, organizations or businesses that is slow or inefficient needs to be improved and MasterCard has worked progressively through the years to help improve upon these systems. MasterCard took another significant step in this pursuit this week. The company announced MasterCard Send, a real-time payments product that allows for cash disbursements between consumers or businesses, or from businesses to individuals. Story by Dan Rowinski for ARC.

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.