Weekly Cell Phone News in Review–November 24, 2014

Cellphone Tracking: New Devices Can Calculate Your Altitude
Cellphones long have doubled as tracking devices, capable of revealing your location to police, paramedics, even grocery stores looking to deliver coupons to nearby customers. But there’s a measurement cellphones once struggled to make: altitude. No more. Cellphone tracking is about to go vertical as the location-services industry, prodded by the U.S. government, solves the riddle of what experts call “the z vector.” Soon it will be possible to determine not only what building you and your phone are in but also whether you are on the first or 15th floor. Story by Craig Timberg for The Washington Post.

Apple and Others Encrypt Phones, Fueling Government Standoff
The No. 2 official at the Justice Department delivered a blunt message last month to Apple executives: New encryption technology that renders locked iPhones impervious to law enforcement would lead to tragedy. At issue is new technology that Apple, Google and others have put in place recently to make their devices more secure. The companies say their aim is to satisfy consumer demands to protect private data. But law-enforcement officials see it as a move in the wrong direction. The new encryption will make it much harder for the police, even with a court order, to look into a phone for messages, photos, appointments or contact lists, they say. Even Apple itself, if served with a court order, won’t have the key to decipher information encrypted on its iPhones. Story by Delvin Barrett, Danny Yadron and Daisuke Wakabayashi in The Wall Street Journal.

Soon, Almost Everyone over the Age of 6 Will Have a Mobile Phone
The Swedish communications giant Ericsson has released a new mobility report claiming that, by the year 2020, 90 percent of the world’s population aged 6 years and over will have mobile phones. At that point, Ericsson estimates total smartphone subscriptions will number 6.1 billion; there are an estimated 2.7 million total smartphone subscribers today. Story by Geoff Weiss for Entrepreneur.

A Touch-Free Smartphone for People with Disabilities
A new development in mobile technology could vastly improve communication opportunities for people with mobility disorders. The development, known as the Sesame Phone, is a smartphone that can be controlled by simple head motions. Story by John Oldshue for SaveOnPhone.com.

This Is What Looking Down at Your Cell Phone Does to Your Spine
Our cell phones and tablets have transformed the way we hold our bodies, and not for the better. Looking down at your device is like having a 60-pound weight on your neck, according to a spine surgeon. A few solutions: hold your phone straight in front of you instead of bending your head down, place your tablet at a 30 degree angle when typing or tapping (the angle protects your wrists) or more perpendicularly if just reading, and stretch your neck back to correct a forward neck posture. Story by Melanie Pinola for Lifehacker.

More People Have Cell Phones than Access to Toilets in 21st Century
World Toilet Day, established by the United Nations, is intended to draw attention to the fact that much of the world doesn’t have access to proper sanitation. The issue is extremely relevant, with the recent outbreak of Ebola in West Africa. It’s estimated that more people have cell phones than access to proper sanitation this far into the 21st Century. It’s estimated that 2.5 billion people globally don’t have access to improved sanitation facilities. The lack of toilets has led to myriad health problems, making it easier for diseases to spread, infecting drinking water and contributing to undernourishment and poverty. Story in Catholic Online.

Cell Phones Among This Year’s Best Black Friday Deals
Cell phones have come a long way, and this year, with the changes in Android and Windows Phone, we’re starting to see more and more low-priced handsets become available. Those prices are set to get even lower for Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and all of the other holiday sales. What you buy depends a lot on what carrier you’re planning on using, as well as if you’re looking for a for a non-contract phone cell phone or one that comes with a contract discount of some kind. Story by David Bixenspan in Inquisitr.

How to Tell if You’re Being Ripped Off on Cell Phone Taxes in Your State
More and more Americans are using cell phones, often as their only form of telephone service. A study done by the Centers For Disease Control (CDC) shows that 41% of American households only have cell phone service and have given up their landlines. That percentage has only increased over the past few years. And of course, governments have to find a way to tax it, like they find a way to tax everything else. Just as the percentage of cell phone-only households is increasing, the taxes government on all levels charge on them are also rising. Story by Kevin Boyd in IJ Review.

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.