Apple hits back at Android vs. iPhone browsing speed study


Apple has responded to a recent Android versus iPhone web browser speed test study by Blaze Software, branding the tests fundamentally ‘flawed’.

The study, which involved some 45,000 pages loaded on the Android Chrome browser and the iPhone’s Safari browser, revealed that pages loaded up to 52 per cent faster on Google’s browser, as it rendered 84 per cent of the websites quicker than its iPhone counterpart.

However, Apple spokesperson Natalie Kerris has since called the reliability of the tests in question. She said that the tests were “flawed because Blaze used its own proprietary application that doesn’t take advantage of Apple Safari browser’s Web-performance optimisation”

“Despite this fundamental testing flaw, they still only found an average of a second difference in loading Web pages,” she added.

Blaze CTO Guy Podjarny has since reciprocated Apple’s comments, saying the tests were conducted “under the assumption that Apple would apply the same updates to their embedded browser as they would their regular [Safari] browser.”

He said: “If this is not the case — and according to Apple’s response, it’s certainly possible — the embedded browser might produce different results.”

Blaze still maintains that Android’s embedded browser is faster than iPhone’s, but hopes that Apple “will help us enable those optimisations and repeat the measurement.”

“Until then, for all we know the missing optimisations may not make a big impact.”

Have you experienced a significant difference in the browsing speed since upgrading to iOS 4.3? Let us know in the comments section below.








Android loads web pages 50% faster than iPhone


Android phones running the latest Gingerbread iteration of the OS load web pages more than 50 per cent faster than the iPhone 4, an informal study reveals.

Blaze Software conducted a whopping 45,000 tests on the Gingerbread-packing Google Nexus S and the current-gen iPhone over 3G and Wi-Fi connections.

The survey found that when used with Chrome, the media loading time for the Google Nexus S was 2.144 seconds. That compared to a figure of 3.254 seconds for iPhones using Apple’s proprietary Safari browser.

Used over 1,000 web domains, Gingerbread powered handsets were also found to render pages faster on 84 per cent of sites.

The study authors stated: “Android wasn’t just faster overall, but rather provided a faster browsing experience four times out of five.”

Gingerbread is currently only on the Nexus S and Nexus One, but will feature on a host of handsets arriving later this year from the likes of Samsung, LG and Sony Ericsson.








Ofcom cuts mobile termination rates



Regulator announces plans that will force operators to slash rates from above 4 pence per minute to 0.69 pence per minute by 2015.

Ofcom today outlined its plans to slash Mobile Termination Rates (MTRs), the charges that operators make to each other to connect calls to their respective networks.
Under the plans MTRs will be capped from April 1 and will eventually fall by 80 per cent by 2015 according to the watchdog.
Under the plans Everything Everywhere, O2 and Vodafone will all need to reduce their rates from 4.18 pence per minute to 0.69 pence per minute by March 31 2015.
This will see rates falling to 2.66 pence per minute in 2011/12, 1.70 pence per minute in 2012/13, 1.08 pence per minute in 2013/14 and eventually the required 0.69 pence per minute in 2014/2015.
Three which has been pushing for the rates due to the fact it is smaller than the rest of the operators will need to make the same reductions but from its current charge of 4.48 pence per minute.
Ofcom said the 28 other mobile communications provider such as smaller or new entrant operator would need to set their rates based on a “fair and reasonable” basis in order to create rates that are in line with the main operators charges.
The regulator said the decision to slash the costs of MTRs was based on research which found data, rather than voice calls now forms the majority of traffic over mobile networks.
It said due to the fact termination rates only apply to calls, by the end of the end of the control period in 2015, the operator revenue collected by MTRs is likely to be less significant.
A spokesperson from the advocacy group ‘Terminate the Rate’, headed up largely by Three and fixed line provider BT said Ofcom’s decision was the right one and should have been made earlier.
“In the long term, this is a win for consumers: cutting mobile termination rates supports competition and better deals for all that call mobiles,” the spokesperson said.


Google Android security app hijacked by Chinese hackers


It’s seems there is no end to Google’s Android security woes. After its recent ransacking by malware, the Android Market is now a being threatened by the very tool the search giant released to eradicate the problem.

The Android Market Security Tool, which Google automatically pushed to devices that downloaded and installed fouled applications, has been discovered lurking in an unregulated Chinese apps market with a nasty surprise. According to antivirus specialist Symantec, it has been “trojanised” with malicious code that can be used to send secret SMS messages whenever instructed by a remote server.

Worse yet for Google, the code used in it was supposedly derived from a project hosted by Google Code and is licensed under the Apache license.

The onslaught of 58 infected apps, which hit the Android Market last month has affected an estimated 260,000 devices. The Android Market Security Tool was released on March 3rd to wipe them from existence.

Google has yet to comment on what actions it plans to take against the discovery, but in the meantime users are strongly advised to not download anything from third-party Chinese app stores.










Police warning as London iPhone thefts up



The British Transport Police (BTP) have issued a warning to London train passengers following an increase of iPhone thefts in the capital.
The BTP said in a statement that six of the Apple devices had been snatched from passengers travelling on trains or waiting at stations in South London over the last two months.
It is believed the same two men are responsible for all of the thefts which occurred at Catford Bridge, West Dulwich, Mitcham Eastfields and Balham.
The warning comes less than a month after a survey found nearly a quarter of the 76 per cent of Londoners against a mobile signal being introduced on the tube felt this way due to a fear of being mugged.
Detective Constable Gary Bellinger said: “ Typically they [the men] walk through trains scouting for potential targets, namely passengers talking on their phones because they are more likely to be distracted.”
He added “After singling out their victim they snatch the phone, using violence if they are met with any resistance, before making a quick escape while the train has stopped. We’ve made enquiries and followed up on a number of leads to try and get names for these men, but to no avail so far.”
Images of the men can be found on the BTP website and members of the public with any information are encouraged to contact the BTP directly.


Alexander Graham Bell: Scientist, Inventor – Assassin?



Despite the fact that practically every British teenager has one in their pocket, nearly a quarter of them don’t know who invented the telephone, according to new research from phone and broadband firm TalkTalk.

22% of those aged 16-24 do not know Alexander Graham Bell’s greatest technological contribution. When asked what he is most famous for, 7% of young adults believe that it was Bell – and not fellow Scot John Logie Baird – who invented the television, whilst 6% believe that he recently helped England retain the Ashes in his guise as a professional English cricketer. Other suggestions linked him to the invention of the helicopter, the discovery of penicillin, and discovering the source of the Nile. A few even said he was the assassin of Abraham Lincoln.

The research, carried out to mark the 135th anniversary of the first telephone call on 10th March 1876, also revealed that 15% of Brits knew the first words uttered by Alexander Graham Bell to his assistant Thomas A. Watson on the now-ubiquitous device.

However, over half (55%) of respondents thought that Bell’s first words on the telephone were “Can you hear me?” instead of his line “Mr Watson, come here – I want to see you” spoken 135 years ago today. And one per cent of people thought the first call set the tone for many of today’s conversations by starting “Hello? I’m on the train.”

Mark Schmid from TalkTalk said: “Alexander Graham Bell was one of the foremost inventors of his time and on that historic day changed the shape of communications forever. Last Thursday alone saw 17.2 million calls being made and received on our network, reaffirming the telephone’s place as the primary source of contact in the UK.”


Check the latest TalkTalk broadband deals here.




Lord Sugar ready to take the hot seat at YouView

Lord Sugar is poised to be named the new chairman of YouView, the BBC-backed venture to bring video-on-demand services to Freeview, in an attempt to put the problem-plagued service back on track.

Lord Sugar is poised to be named the new chairman of YouView, the BBC-backed venture to bring video-on-demand services to Freeview, in an attempt to put the problem-plagued service back on track.
Called in by Channel 5’s Richard Desmond to review the venture’s business plan, the star of The Apprentice is believed to be set to take the role, subject to clearance at a final meeting of shareholders. The company – which is also backed by BT, TalkTalk, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5 and Arqiva – has been forced to shake up its senior management structure after technical problems delayed the launch until “early 2012”.
YouView had targeted June for the launch but for months its chairman, Kip Meek, who is expected to be replaced by Sugar in an announcement next week, has been conceding the possibility of delays. 
The venture promised to “future proof” Freeview and Freesat, and rapidly open up video-on-demand revenue streams for the broadcast partners and an enticing package for the ISPs to offer customers. Instead, BSkyB’s Sky Anytime Plus, which launched late last year, and Virgin Media’s upgraded TiVo-based technology have been given a head start in the market.
Last month Neil Berkett, Virgin Media’s chief executive, said he was “not surprised” YouView had run into trouble, given the number of partners involved, adding that the cable company intended to “take advantage” of the delay.
YouView’s partners have committed to each paying an equal share of a £115m budget covering development, launch and the first four years of its operation. The marketing budget is $48.4m.

TalkTalk and Tiscali UK pay back £2.5 million to customers


Payments follow Ofcom investigation that revealed 62,000 customers had been billed for services they did not use.

Broadband provider TalkTalk and its subsidiary Tiscali UK have paid more than 62,000 customers almost £2.5 million in refunds and good will payments following an Ofcom investigation into incorrect billings.

The investigation, which was opened in July 2010 followed complaints from over 1,000 consumers who said they had been charged by the companies for services they had not used.

Ofcom issued both organisations with legally-binding notifications in November last year and set a deadline of December 2 for them to comply with telecoms rules that prohibit consumers being charged for services they have not used.

TalkTalk and Tiscali UK where both told to remedy the breach of the regulations by the same date. Ofcom said the resulting payment by the companies showed they have abided by what was required of them, following the investigation.

A Ofcom statement said: “TalkTalk and Tiscali UK have taken significant steps to fix the problem and to comply with the regulations by the deadline set, in direct response to Ofcom’s action. These steps include identifying and compensating some 62,000 affected consumers. On this basis, Ofcom is not in a position at present to impose a financial penalty on the companies under our current legal powers.”

TalkTalk and Tiscali UK said they appreciated that Ofcom had acknowledged its efforts and said it was focused on remedying any further billing issues.

A TalkTalk spokesperson said: “We’re pleased that Ofcom has recognised the significant steps we’ve taken to fix the billing issues identified. We moved all of our customers to our single billing platform at the end of January and our focus on resolving any outstanding billing issues continues. We remain committed to providing great value and service to our 4.2 million phone and broadband customers.”

TalkTalk and Tiscali UK could be one of the last companies in the UK to avoid an immediate financial penalty from Ofcom regarding telecoms law breaches such as the one in question.

The UK government is currently consulting on changes to the laws, that would allow the watchdog to issue a fine in such circumstances, regardless of whether a company subsequently took action to address the issue. 
Should the government choose to proceed with such changes, Ofcom would be able to implement these from May 25.

Broadband speeds not as fast as advertised: Ofcom


Ofcom research into broadband services across the UK has revealed that average speeds in the country sit at 6.2 Mbits per second – up by 1 Mbit per second from the same time last year but below the national advertised speed of 13.8 Mbits per second.

The research which was carried out as part of Ofcom’s response to the current Committee for Advertising Practice (CAP) and Broadcast Committee for Advertising Practice (BCAP) call for consultation on broadband speeds advertising.

Ofcom looked at 11 packages offered by the seven largest internet service providers (ISPs) in the UK, undertaking over 18 million service performance tests in over 1,700 homes during November and December 2010.

The watchdog said fibre optic and cable broadband services were much closer to advertised speeds than current generation broadband technologies.

Virgin Media’s cable service which is available to 48 per cent of the UK was singled out for providing between 90 and 96 per cent of its advertised speeds. The research found the average speed for Virgin’s advertised 50 Mbits per second service sat at 46 Mbits per second.

Ofcom chief executive Ed Richards said the findings were encouraging in the fact they revealed increasing broadband speeds but highlighted the need for providers to provide more accurate descriptions when advertising.

Richards said: “The research shows that ISPs need to do more to ensure they are giving customers clear and accurate information about the services they provide and the factors that may affect the actual speeds customers will receive. It is important that the rules around broadband advertising change so that consumers are able to make more informed decisions based on the adverts they see, and that advertisers are able to communicate more clearly how their products compare to others in the market.”

Virgin Media executive director of broadband Jon James said the research showed the majority of consumers are being treated like “mugs” by ISPs.

James said: “The ASA has already highlighted the critical need for change and today’s report provides another clear mandate to stop advertising ‘up to’ speeds that nobody can actually receive. In a nascent market for next generation broadband, the sub-standard fibre optic services being sold are undermining people’s faith in fast broadband.

O2 also said it welcomed the findings and pointed out that it had been highlighted by Ofcom for providing the best average download speeds in the UK.

O2 Home and Broadband managing director Felix Geyr said: “We will continue to invest to maintain a great, and crucially nationwide, broadband experience for our O2 and BE customers (both consumer and wholesale). However, our approach is based on needs, not speeds. We share Ofcom’s concerns about misleading customers over broadband speeds, which is why in September last year we launched new broadband packages.

“These give customers ‘speeds as fast as their line can handle’ and we called on other broadband providers to remove ambiguity around ‘unlimited’ and ‘up to’ in advertising materials. As a result of this focus, Ofcom’s research shows that the quality of our service is comparable to fibre providers – specifically in the time it takes for a webpage to load and in the quality of service for applications such as gaming (latency).”

Despite the findings and Ofcom’s recommendation for advertising to become more truthful there are still calls for the operator to do more to make consumers more aware about other aspects that could affect their broadband service.