Weekly Cell Phone News in Review–November 23, 2015

cell phone update

China Aims to Build Its Own Secure Smartphones
China is seeking to make its own secure smartphones, in an attempt to insulate its handsets from U.S. surveillance. The effort involves both state-owned companies and some of the country’s savvier technology firms and marks the latest step in Beijing’s quest to build a homegrown tech industry that cuts out U.S. suppliers. Chinese officials have long chafed at U.S. companies’ dominance in smartphone operating systems and processors-the parts of a handset most vulnerable to hacking. In China, the world’s largest smartphone market, almost all handsets are either Apple Inc. iPhones or are powered by Google’s Android operating system. Story by Eva Dou and Juro Osawa for The Wall Street Journal.

Paris Attacks Show Danger of Cell Phone Encryption
The attackers who killed more than 100 people in coordinated attacks Friday in Paris were equipped with assault rifles, suicide belts, and, of particular concern to New York Police Commissioner Bill Bratton, phones that may have prevented surveillance from law enforcement officials. “ISIS, taking advantage of the technology that the head of the FBI has been complaining about, I’ve been complaining about, going dark, the ability to go dark, I think you’re going to see that playing a significant factor in this event,” Bratton said. He has complained about cell phone makers selling devices with no ability to break their encryption and said the deadly events in Paris show why the issue of cell phone encryption needed to be debated immediately. “These apps, these devices now allow these terrorists to operate without fear of penetration by intelligence services.”. Story by Azi Paybarah for Capital New York.

Slow EMV Readers May Spur Mobile Payment Usage
One of the issues with this new credit card reader is that the transactions are slow and involve several steps. In fact, just a few weeks ago, Walmart executive, John Drechny, predicted a more chaotic holiday shopping season due to the change. He felt the EMV transition would cause confusion and longer lines during the Christmas rush. Since most EMV terminals are NFC capable, consumers may start switching to mobile payments since these transactions are much faster than those made with chip embedded cards. “EMV cards take 15 seconds to process. That’s up from two seconds for a mag stripe swipe. What about ApplePay readers? That is micro-seconds,” the Morgan Stanley analysts said. “Watch for mobile payments to take off as retailers turn on NFC to enable mobile wallet payments and encourage you to use your phone to pay.” Mobile payments are not very popular right now. Earlier this year, a study by Placeable showed that 90% of consumers have not used mobile payments when available. Story by Bill Hardekopf for LowCards.com.

Experts Say Cellphones Can Be Really Dangerous for Kids
In the digital age, all of us–including children–are attached to our devices. But is it safe? Although the FCC says there is no reason to worry, a group of 190 scientists are among an increasing number of experts raising concerns. The international group is appealing to global health organizations to strengthen cell phone guidelines and ensure people are “fully informed about the potential health risks from electromagnetic energy.”? In a letter to the FCC, the American Academy of Pediatrics asked that the guidelines, last updated in 1996, be revised to account for cell phone users today, particularly children. ?Dr. Gisela Mercada-Deane, chair of radiology at the American Academy of Pediatrics?, said the current FCC test does not take children into account. Their skulls are thinner and can absorb more radiation, he said. ?”The amount of radio frequency that children will be exposed by the time they are our age [an adult] is exponential to the amount of radiation, radio frequencies that we ourselves are being exposed to in a lifetime.”Story by Anna Zambelli for Good Housekeeping.

Millennials Spend More Than 3 Hours a Day on Mobile Phones
The average U.S. millennial (aged 16-30) with Internet access spends 3.1 hours a day on a mobile phone–totaling 21.7 hours a week or 1,128 hours (47 days) a year, according to a new study from global research consultancy TNS. The annual Connected Life study surveys more than 60,000 Internet users across 50 countries on their digital attitudes and behaviors. The study also looked at U.S. millennials’ consumption of various media and technologies, finding that 76 percent watch online video on a daily basis; 71 percent use social media; and 55 percent use instant messaging. They spend nearly 3 hours a day watching on-demand video and TV shows on the Internet. And while they continue to use traditional media such as television, radio and newspapers, millennials on average spend only 2.9 hours each day consuming content on those platforms. In contrast, individuals aged 46-65 spend 4.3 hours each day watching TV, reading newspapers and listening to the radio, and just 1.2 hours a day on mobile phones. Story by Rhea Kelly for Campus Technology.

Preventing Famine with Mobile Phones
With a mobile data collection app and satellite data, scientists will be able to predict whether a certain region is vulnerable to food shortages and malnutrition. The method has now been tested in the Central African Republic. Scientists have now developed a way to monitor food security using a smartphone app, which combines weather and soil moisture data from satellites with crowd-sourced data on the vulnerability of the population, e.g. malnutrition and other relevant socioeconomic data. Tests in the Central African Republic have yielded promising results. Story in Phys.org.

Global Mobile Shipments Touch 478 Million
Driven by growth in emerging markets, global mobile phone shipments in July-September 2015 reached 478 million units, research firm Gartner has said. The sales were up by 3.7% during the third quarter of 2015 from the same period in 2014. Samsung maintained its global leadership with sales growing by about 9% year-on-year to over 102 million units and was followed by Apple which registered 20.6% growth in sales at over 46 million devices. Microsoft Devices occupied third spot globally with sale of 30.29 million devices in the reported quarter despite decline of about 30% in its sales compared to the third quarter of 2014. Story in Tech 2.

Are Parents’ Fears about Teens’ Cellphones Justified?
Parents’ fears about their teenagers’ heavy use of cell phones and social media may be exaggerated, according to a new report from Duke University researchers. However, there are important exceptions in the areas of cyberbullying and sleep disruption. Teenagers’ online lives closely resemble their experiences, connections and risks in the offline world, and cellphone use alone poses few entirely new dangers. Story in Duke Today.

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.