Weekly Cell Phone News in Review—November 27, 2017

Smartphones Sales Break All Records on Black Friday
Smartphone transactions hit a record high in the US on Black Friday as shoppers thronged retail stores as well as went online to celebrate. According to Adobe Digital Insights mobile transactions were “hitting record highs”. According to Adobe Insights, 61.1 per cent of shoppers’ visits to retailers’ websites were for mobile devices, including smartphones and tablets. Story in The Economic Times

Can Facial Recognition Really Replace Fingerprints?
With the rise of facial recognition technology, our fingerprints may be supplanted as the convenient biometric of choice to save us from typing in passwords. There’s nothing new about the idea of using your face to unlock your phone or other devices, but when Apple made Face ID the star of its iPhone X reveal, facial recognition took a big step towards the mainstream consciousness. The reception to the iPhone X has been overwhelmingly positive. Despite some quirks with Face ID, we found it to be fast and convenient in our iPhone X review, noticeably improving with time as it builds a more complete model of your face. Apple is so confident in Face ID that it’s likely to replace Touch ID in all iPhones – even iPads – going forward, according to KGI Securities analyst, Ming-Chi Kuo. Story by Simon Hill for Digital Trends

Supreme Court to Determine Whether Police Can Track You with Your Cellphone
Thousands of times a year, the nation’s police departments get phone company records allowing them to plot the movements of individual customers. On Wednesday, the U.S. Supreme Court will consider whether access to that data should require a search warrant issued by a judge. The question comes at a time when cellphones are nearly ubiquitous: 95 percent of Americans now own one. The case is a challenge brought by a Michigan man, Timothy Carpenter, who was convicted of robbing a string of Radio Shack and T-Mobile stores after FBI agents used three months of cellphone records to show that he was near each one at the time of the crimes. He argues that because the FBI did not get a search warrant, that evidence, along with his conviction, should be thrown out. Story by Pete Williams for NBC News

Google Collects Android Users’ Locations Even when Location Services are Disabled
Many people realize that smartphones track their locations. But what if you actively turn off location services, haven’t used any apps, and haven’t even inserted a carrier SIM card? Even if you take all of those precautions, phones running Android software gather data about your location and send it back to Google when they’re connected to the internet, a Quartz investigation has revealed. Since the beginning of 2017, Android phones have been collecting the addresses of nearby cellular towers-even when location services are disabled-and sending that data back to Google. The result is that Google, the unit of Alphabet behind Android, has access to data about individuals’ locations and their movements that go far beyond a reasonable consumer expectation of privacy. Story by Keith Collins for Quartz

This New Invention Uses Smartphones to Help Treat Illness Affecting Millions
While it has certainly become a generally useful and indelible part of our lives, the smartphone has also been much maligned for contributing to social degradation and mental illness. But instead of causing health issues, could smartphones help cure them? A technology developed at UC Berkeley uses video from a smartphone-connected microscope to detect infection by parasitic worms and help treat river blindness. The tech, called LaoScope, can look at a drop of blood and automatically detect and even quantify infection from parasitic worms called Onchocerca volvulus. These worms, found mainly in Africa, can cause river blindness, which is a debilitating disease that humans get through bites of infected black flies. Without treatment, infections in the eye can result in blindness. River blindness, or onchocerciasis, affects at least 25 million people, according to estimates by the World Health Organization. Of these 300,000 are blind and 800,000 have some visual impairment. Another 123 million are at risk for the infection. Story by Paul Ratner for Big Think

The Substitute Phone is Designed to Help Smartphone Addicts Cope in Their Absence
We’ve all been there: fiddling with your smartphone because it’s there, or reaching for it when you hear a text message notification. Austrian designer Klemens Schillinger created the Substitute Phone as a way to help smartphone addicts cope in its absence. More and more, phones are becoming an addicting object in our lives. Users constantly play with them, even if they’re not looking for a message or expecting a call, and he was inspired to design “a tool that would help stop this ‘checking’ behaviour.” Schillinger designed five facsimile phones, made of black polyoxymethylene plastic with stone beads embedded in the surface, which allows a user to replicate familiar actions, such as scrolling, pinching, or swiping. The goal is that it could be used as a coping mechanism for someone trying to check their phone less. Story by Andrew Liptak for The Verge

Samsung Accidentally Confirms It’s Making a Galaxy X
Samsung’s dream is to beat Apple’s iPhone, and that’s why the Galaxy S8’s development codename was “dream.” However, no Galaxy S or Galaxy Note device captured the mind of buyers like the iPhone rival, no matter how hard Samsung tried. But the Korean giant may have an ace up its sleeve, a smartphone unlike anything else available out there, iPhone included. It’s called Galaxy X, but not for the reasons you expect. The Galaxy X is Samsung’s first bendable smartphone, a device that’s so complicated it might see a limited launch before Samsung is able to manufacture it en-masse. Story by Chris Smith for The New York Post

This Might Be the End of iPhone Jailbreaking
Not long ago, jailbreaking was all the rage among iPhone power users. iOS had always been more closed off than Android, and the only way to bring additional functionality to an iOS device was to jailbreak it, which countless users did throughout the first several iPhone generations. But despite the fact that U.S. Copyright Office now allows iPhone users to jailbreak their phones, the once common practice appears to be on its last legs. If you’ve ever jailbroken an iPhone, you’re undoubtedly familiar with Cydia – an App Store replacement that allows iPhone users with jailbroken devices to download apps and tools from a variety of sources. A vast majority of the apps available on Cydia came from three major repositories, but as of this week, two have been shuttered for good. Story by Jacob Siegal for BGR

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.