Weekly Cell Phone News in Review–September 14, 2015

Google Rolls Out Android Pay to Challenge Apple
Google is starting to roll out Android Pay this week, seeking to catch up with Apple Pay and grab a chunk of the growing market for mobile payments. The Web company, which announced plans for the service in May, has signed up partners including Macy’s, Staples and Whole Foods Market. Android Pay turns smartphones into digital wallets that store credit and debit cards, which can then be used in physical and virtual stores. The mobile-payments market is projected to top $142 billion by 2019, up from $67 billion this year. Android Pay users will be able to shop for goods in more than 1 million US locations and in over 1,000 apps. Story by Brian Womack for Live Mint.

How Smartphones are Helping Refugees in Europe
As thousands of refugees and migrants move across Europe, many are making use of technology in order to make their journey safer and share life-or-death information. The migrants, many of whom are from Syria, displaced by the civil war, as well as Afghanistan and Eritrea, are using smartphones to keep in contact with relatives and each other, while using GPS to find their way around Europe. A large number of refugees have smartphones, which are proving to be a vital resource. Story by Luke Graham for CNBC.

How the Government Surveils Cellphones: A Primer
Last week, the state of cellphone tracking became slightly more confusing. The U.S. Department of Justice announced that, except in emergency situations, federal agents would now seek warrants before using “Stingrays.” Stingrays are devices that mimic cellphone towers and can pinpoint a phone’s physical location or record which number they’re calling. For people who follow the issue closely, like the ACLU, the news was welcome if limited. But for many, it made the situation around cellphone surveillance even trickier than it was before. How many different ways can the government surveil cellphones? What can each method do? Here’s a primer. Story by Robinson Meyer for The Atlantic.

The Way We Buy Cell Phones is Radically Changing
Cellphone contracts look to be going the way of the flip phone, replaced by what are essentially no-interest phone loans. Here’s why that matters. Comparison shopping is the consumer’s best tactic, and most big companies’ biggest headache. So for years, consumers have had to contend with complicated phone subsidies, early termination fees, family plans and data overage charges. Now, half those headaches are on the verge of extinction. Story by Bob Sullivan for Bob Sullivan.net.

Cell Phones = Opportunities for Evangelism
In poverty-stricken, rural villages in South Asia, everyday life is a challenge. Most villagers are day laborers who struggle to meet their physical needs, and many are illiterate. In these areas, electronic luxuries like cell phones may seem unexpected. But strangely, they’re quite common. And that’s helpful for Gospel workers. Sharing Christ and equipping others to do the same. That can be difficult when working with illiterate and oral cultures, so this is where the cell phones come in. Missionaries use a variety of electronic resources: a full audio Bible, a New Testament film, 35 Bible stories, Christian doctrine studies, discipleship material, and worship music. They load these resources, some of which are available for download through the International Mission Board, onto microSD cards. They then share the content with local villagers so they can share Christ with others. Story by Reagan Hoezee for Mission Network News.

Growth of Smartphones Drops to 5.8 Percent Per Year
The global smartphone shipments for 2016 will only show a 5.8 percent annual growth, sitting at 1.34 billion units. This represents a decline in annual growth, down from the 8.3 percent growth between 2015 and 2014. According to TrendForce, 2015 marks the end of the smartphone boom that began with the launch of the iPhone in 2007. As the industry enters a plateau period, growth rates will be a far call from the past, when shipment increases were upwards of 30 percent. The sales of iPhone 6 and 6 Plus stayed hot throughout the first half of 2015, unaffected by seasonality influences. As a result, Apple will see its annual iPhone shipment growth close to 16 percent in 2015, totaling 223 million units. Story in Electronics News.

How Apple’s New iPhone Installment Plan Works
Apple’s move to sell its newest iPhones on an installment plan is the latest blow to the smartphone pricing used and frequently reviled by consumers for years: the two-year cellphone contract. When Apple unveiled its new smartphones Wednesday, it said the iPhone 6S would start at $199 with a new two-year contract and the 6S Plus would cost $299 on contract. That was the simple way to describe it, as for years Americans were accustomed to signing a two-year contract with a wireless carrier in exchange for a discount on the upfront price. But at the same time, executives introduced installment and leasing plans that acknowledge most telecom carriers are abandoning these contracts tied to deeply discounted phones. The result is a scenario that sounds a lot like a plan you get from an auto dealer. Story by Eli Blumenthal for USA Today.

Nintendo Brings New Pokemon GO Game for Smartphones
Nintendo, in association with its subsidiary The Pokémon Company and Niantic, has developed a new mobile game called Pokémon GO, compatible with both Android and iOS smartphones. As per sources, the game will be available in 2016 and that too as a free download for the initial period. Story in Zacks.

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.