Weekly Cell Phone News in Review–November 2, 2015

Senators Investigating IRS Use of Cell Phone Tracking Device
The IRS is under investigation by two top senators for secret cell phone tracking systems known as Stingrays. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley and ranking member Patrick Leahy are demanding answers about the use of technology that picks up cell phone data. It’s often utilized by federal and local law enforcement agencies but has been a subject of past controversy. Story in CBN News.

Nomophobia: The Fear of Being Without a Cell Phone
In an increasingly connected world, we rely on our phones for just about everything-we shop, work, play, get directions, learn new facts, buy groceries, order pizza, connect with friends, and remember phone numbers. We have the world at our fingertips, and it is a powerful feeling. But that feeling comes with a dark side: nomophobia, or fear of being without our phone. Based on the concept of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out), researchers from Iowa State University looked at the concept of NoMo(bile)Pho(ne)bia. To discover what smartphone users worry about when they think of being separated from their phones, the researchers interviewed the perfect target demographic: college undergrads. They discovered students worried about not being able to reach others or have others reach them, and they were also concerned about the ability to complete basic life tasks. Story by Dr. Max Wachtel for 9 News.

Congress May Allow Debt Collector Robocalls to Cell Phones
You might think of the federal government as your protector against abusive debt collection practices and robocalls to your cellphone. But if a provision in the federal budget bill now before Congress becomes law, robocalls to cellphones would be fair game for anyone collecting a debt guaranteed by the federal government. That, say consumer advocates, could open the floodgates for calls to student loan borrowers, mortgage borrowers, taxpayers, and others with debt backed by the federal government. Calls could also be made to borrowers’ relatives, their references, and anyone unlucky enough to have a reassigned cell phone number on a collector’s list. Story by Truman Lewis for Consumer Affairs.

Shoppers Could Use Mobile Phones to Look Under Fruits’ Skin
Shoppers could soon use their mobile phones to check how ripe fruit and vegetables are with an “X-ray vision” camera. The HyperCam, based on hyperspectral imaging, assessed ripeness with 94 per cent accuracy and could also be used to check for rotting produce in the fridge at home. Scientists at the University of Washington in Seattle, funded by Microsoft, managed to create a portable hyperspectral imaging camera that would cost $800 (£520). Hyperspectral imaging uses a broader range of the electromagnetic spectrum than an ordinary camera. Story by Nick Allen for The Telegraph.

Over 70 Million U.S. Adults Now Use Mobile Payments
According to a new survey from Mercator Advisory Group, 71.5 million adults in America used mobile payments in 2015, up from 61 million last year. A staggering 42% of smartphone owners have used their phones to pay for items in stores over the last year. The study also revealed that Apple Pay users make more mobile payments than users of any other mobile wallets, such as Android Pay and Samsung Pay. 80% of Apple Pay users say they use their app at least once a week, compared to just 50% of all mobile payment users. 19% of Apple Pay users say they have used their app at least 10 times in the past month. Story by Lynn Oldshue for LowCards.com.

Smartphones Replace Computers Among Young Adults
Hold the phone: The smartphone has replaced the computer as the device of choice for young adults. A report released Thursday by the Pew Research Center found that 86 percent of adults under age 30 owned a smartphone, compared with 78 percent who have a laptop or desktop computer. That represents a dramatic change from just three years ago, when less than two-thirds of young adults had smartphones and nearly 90 percent owned computers. Overall, more than two-thirds of all adults have a smartphone, up from 35 percent in 2011. Story by Robert Channick for the Chicago Tribune.

Moto X Force Takes the Crushing Experience out of Dropping your Phone
Motorola just reset the bar for the entire smartphone industry with a shatterproof Moto X Force smartphone. Apple raised the bar with Apple Care. Apple told the world that they could drop and shatter an iPhone up to twice in two years and Apple would replace it “no questions asked,” if they paid $129 for Apple Care and agreed to pay a $99 fee per incident. Everyone in the industry matched Apple with a similar plan. HTC topped them all by offering a replacement HTC One A9 during the first year as part of the consumer-friendly $400 purchase price. Now, all the other smartphone makers will have to match Motorola by building a shatterproof smartphone. Story by Steven Max Patterson for Network World.

Europe Finally Abolishes Mobile Phone Roaming Charges
Members of the European parliament have voted through new rules that will scrap mobile roaming charges and stop holidaymakers returning home to the nightmare of a massive phone bill racked up on their travels. The vote sees the deal reached between European authorities in June to scrap increased costs for calls, text and data while roaming with the EU, passed into law. UK mobile phone users who travel within Europe will only have to pay the same prices as they would at home, curbing the cost of continued mobile connectivity while abroad. Story by Samuel Gibbs for The Guardian.

Latinos Have an Appetite For Mobile Banking, Innovative Payment Options
The Checking Experience Index produced by the banking institution TD Bank was released on Oct. 12, and it found that 93 percent of Hispanic respondents favored online banking and 81 percent preferred the use of their bank’s mobile options when handling day-to-day transactions. The survey not only demonstrated Latinos’ propensity for mobile and online use, it revealed Latinos to have a growing appetite for innovative payment options. Story by Nicole Akoukou Thompson for Latin Post.

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.