PayPal to sue over Google Wallet

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PayPal is taking legal action over Google’s electronic wallet scheme, alleging that it poached two of the online payment processing company’s employees specifically to gain access to trade secrets.

Dubbed Google Wallet, the project harnesses Near Field Communications (NFC) tech to allow Android phone users to pay for low-ticket items by swiping their handsets over a reader.

However, a matter of hours after the search giant lifted the lid on its scheme PayPal filed a suit which could jeopardise its future before it has even launched.

PayPal claims that its former exec Osama Bedier was enticed to Google with the express purpose of gaining access to PayPal’s plans for future payment tech and trade secrets. These are purported to be front and centre in Google Wallet.

Google has yet to respond fully, claiming that it hasn’t received a copy of the complaint.

News of developments comes amid predictions that contactless payments with smartphones will surge in popularity this year, after the feature was one of the key USP’s of the latest crop of handsets running Android 2.3.

 

 

 

 

 

Android Google Wallet NFC scheme launching today

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Google will formally announce its plan to turn Android phones into digital wallets today with a scheme to harness newer handsets’ Near Field Communications smarts, a sneakily sourced memo has confirmed.

NFC technology was introduced to the Android platform with the arrival of the 2.3 version of Google’s operating system and allows users to pay for low-ticket items by swiping their phone over a reader.

Reports that the search giant is this week planning to launch a scheme to bring the tech from the theoretical realm into the real world surfaced yesterday in the Wall Street Journal.

The memo appears to remove any doubt about the project. According to ThisisMyNext, which nabbed the memo from US retailer The Container Store, the project will be dubbed Google Wallet and will be detailed at a press call in New York today.

Google is expected to start the scheme on September 1st, initially in New York only. A number of high-profile retail and restaurant chain partners are rumoured to have been enlisted, including Subway, Macy’s and McDonalds.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Three year mobile phone contracts banned

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Communications regulator Ofcom has banned three-year mobile phone and broadband contracts in the UK, with the maximum length of contract now set at two years.

This is good news for consumers, who may otherwise have been lured into signing 36-month contracts, with the promise of one of the market’s top smartphones with less money to pay each month.

But in such a fast-moving market, three years is a long time and smartphones can become obsolete in as little as a year. Longer contracts also prevent customers from switching to other providers who may introduce more economical deals.

And for those averse to signing any lengthy contracts, Ofcom also announced that 12-month contracts must be offered by networks, which will now bring the UK in line with EU regulations.

Whilst it’s still possible to find 12-month contracts if you shop around, the minimum advertised term is typically 18-months, with operators keen to get customers signed up to 24-months at least.

Of course, other options have been sim-only rolling monthly contracts, where the customer gets all the benefits of bundled minutes, texts and data, without the long term commitment. They do have to arrange their own handset though.

Ofcom’s announcement brings further good news for UK mobile customers. Mobile phone providers must now transfer a customer’s mobile number within one day of request, and are required to pay the customer compensation if they fail to do so.

So all in all, this sounds like a very good development on the surface, and it pretty much is. However, with mobile phone providers now required to offer 12-month contracts, we are likely to see some very pricey contracts hitting shops soon, as retailers attempt to claw back the costs of the handsets.

 

These changes take effect from today.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Android & iPhone get Napster streaming service

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A new music streaming service from Napster has arrived on the iPhone and Android handsets, offering a library of around 15 million songs to enjoy on the go.

Dubbed Napster Unlimited Plus Mobile, the service operates on a similar model to Spotify’s mobile venture, with users charged a monthly free of £10 for unlimited streaming of music over 3G or Wi-Fi, plus the option to save and put together playlists to soundtrack your life when you’re offline.

Available to download now, the app is supported across all Apple iDevices, plus Android tablets and smartphones.

Napster Vice President of Sales and Marketing in Europe Thorsten Schliesche said: “Napster Unlimited plus Mobile is the culmination of listening to our members’ feedback and providing what they have asked us for.

“We are proud that Napster’s music catalogue of 15 million tracks is one of the largest available and can now truly be accessed anywhere – complete with the tools to make it easy and fun to navigate such a large and diverse catalogue of continually expanding music.”

Alongside the mobile app, Napster has also launched a new streaming service for use in the home. Priced £5 per month, this offers streaming only to multiple Wi-Fi enabled devices but omits 3G support.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Apple brand becoming a religion, claim scientists

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A team of British neuroscientists claims to have found proof that iPhone maker Apple has become as potent as a religion in stimulating the minds of its followers.

The startling revelation, detailed in BBC documentary Secrets of the Superbrands, comes after the Bishop of Buckingham, who himself reads the Bible on an iPad, admitted that Apple is turning into a religion.

Scientists decided to put the Bishop’s claim to the test and took MRI scans of an Apple fanboy, which showed that Cupertino’s branding stimulated the same part of the brain as religious imagery does in religious folk.

Alex Riley and Adam Boone, producers of the documentary, said: “When a team of neuroscientists with an MRI scanner took a look inside the brain of an Apple fanatic, it seemed the bishop was on to something. 
”The results suggested that Apple was actually stimulating the same parts of the brain as religious imagery does in people of faith.”

They pair went on to compare the excited frenzy at the recent opening of Apple’s new store in London’s Covent Garden to an “evangelical prayer meeting”.

The show also found that loyalty to superbrands like Apple, Facebook and Google is increasingly responsible for intense rivalry between fans.

Let’s just hope a soft drink doesn’t cause a new world war.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

99% of Android devices are vulnerable to security hacks

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Security experts in Germany have uncovered yet another vulnerability in the Android operating system that could enable hackers to launch so-called ‘impersonation’ attacks on almost every Android device out there.

Just when you thought Google’s Android security wounds from a string of recent malware attacks were finally starting to heal, researchers at the Institute of Media Informatics at University of Ulm have exposed a new flaw in the fast-growing mobile platform. This time it’s in a log-in authentication protocol known as ClientLogin, that could potentially give cybercriminals unfettered access to contacts, calendars and other sensitive data stored in Big G’s servers.

Essentially, when a user submits their correct log-in credentials for the above services, as well as Twitter, Facebook and a number of accounts, an authentication token (authToken) is transmitted in cleartext (as in unencrypted). This stays valid for up to 14 days, leaving the door open for hackers to steal the token and use it to log into said services masquerading as legitimate users.

The researchers stated: “We wanted to know if it is really possible to launch an impersonation attack against Google services and started our own analysis.

“The short answer is: Yes, it is possible, and it is quite easy to do so.”

According to the report, the flaw affects any device running Android 2.3.3 or lower. One of the ways the token can be stolen is when a user logs in over an unsecured wireless network.

As such, it is highly recommended that users upgrade to Android 2.3.4 where available as soon as possible, and also turn off automatic synchronisation in the Android settings menu when connecting with open Wi-Fi networks.

To stay on the side of caution, however, especially if Android 2.3.4 has yet to arrive to your device, you should avoid open hotspots altogether until Google releases a patch to take care of the problem.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Half of parents avoid calling their kids for fear of racking up huge phone bills

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New research from TalkTalk, the phone and broadband company, has revealed that more than half (54%) of the nation’s parents – equivalent to 8.6 million people – avoid calling their children on their mobiles for fear of it being too expensive.

And one in seven parents whose kids have left home said they wait for their children to call for a chat rather than calling them first. This means 2.4m parents are left sat by the telephone waiting for their kids to ring, while almost a third (29%) of parents – or 4.6m – regularly go more than a week without hearing from their children.

The research also found that, when it comes to calling their parents, a remarkable ten million grown-up children (62%) use their mobiles all or most of the time, rather than using a landline phone.

This shift away from landlines is causing 8.6 million parents across the UK to miss out on regularly interacting with their children due to the fear of overspending on their telephone bill through costly landline-to-mobile calls.

To address this problem, TalkTalk has launched a 500 Mobile Minutes Boost, which provides 500 minutes of calls to mobiles at just a penny a minute, enabling parents to call their children on their mobiles without the fear of racking up huge bills in the process.

Trisita Clarke from TalkTalk said: “It’s totally unacceptable that millions of parents are left waiting by their telephone because of worries about the phone bill they’ll get if they call their kids’ mobiles.

“We know from a recent Ofcom report that about 2.4m people received an unexpectedly high phone bill in the past year, with one in nine of them blaming calls to mobiles as the main reason – so this is clearly a big issue for lots of people.

“Our own research found that 48% of parents said they would call their child’s mobile more often if they knew calls would cost a fixed monthly price. So with our new 500 Mobile Minutes Boost, which costs a flat fee of £5 every month, we hope to enable families to talk not only for longer but more often.”

The 500 Mobile Minutes Boost costs just £5 and allows TalkTalk customers to make 500 minutes of calls to any mobile network at any time. It joins TalkTalk’s existing 100 Mobile Minutes Boost, which was launched last October and costs £3. With the average customer saving £12 per month4 this way, TalkTalk has already helped the tens of thousands of customers who signed up to the 100 Mobile Minute Boost save over £3.2 million5.

The new 500 Mobile Minutes Boost now means customers will be able to enjoy savings of up to £50 a month6 and never have to worry about the cost of calling mobiles again.

 

 

Check the latest TalkTalk broadband deals here.

 

 

 

Vodafone truck can charge 2,000 mobile handsets at one time

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If you’ve been to a festival or large open-air event, you will know that keeping your mobile phone charged can be a potential nightmare.

Solutions have come in the form of independent companies setting up camps and charging fesitval-goers to power their smartphones so that they could remain contactable and use them to snap photos of their favourite bands.

However, one truck looks set to change all that.

The Vodafone VIP recharging truck is heading to 11 festivals this year, offering Vodafone customers with the opportunity to charge their mobile devices, completely free of charge. The 44 tonne vehicle can charge 2,000 devices at any one time (as quickly as it would at home) and is expected to charge over 72,000 mobile devices this summer alone.

If you’rea Vodafone customer at a festival and you own an Android, iPhone, BlackBerry or Nokia device, this is what you need to look out for. For more information about the events it will be available at visit http://vodafone.co.uk/vip.

 

PaperPhone ups ante for thin smartphones

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A Super slim smartphone as thin as a single sheet of paper is to be unveiled next week, presumably sealing the hotly contested title of the world’s thinnest handset once and for all.

Dubbed the PaperPhone and developed by boffins at Queen’s University, the prototype handset is wholly flexible and features a UI that recalls the e-ink function of e-readers.

Users scribe directly onto the surface with a pen and turn pages in the corner much like a trad book. Making calls is apparently just a matter of squeezing the handset so that it curves.

Roel Vertegaal, director of Queen’s University Human Media Lab, told the Vancouver Sun: “This computer looks, feels and operates like a small sheet of interactive paper. You interact with it by bending it into a cell phone, flipping the corner to turn pages, or writing on it with a pen.”

In keeping with modern smarties, it can also be used to play music and as an e-reader and will offer plenty of memory for storage.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vodafone gets London Calling

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Vodafone is aiming to keep Londoners connected with a new fleet of branded taxis which for the first time will allow all passengers to recharge their phones on the move. Vodafone customers will also be able to pay for their journeys with their phones – at no extra charge – making those last minute stop-offs at the cash point a thing of the past. 

 
Today, the first of hundreds of Vodafone-branded taxi cabs will take to the streets in one of the biggest 
‘wrapping’ advertising campaigns ever seen in the capital. Their bold and colourful Union Jack design, 
made up of over 2000 London street names, will make them an eye-catching addition to the city as well as 
easy to spot for anyone who needs to charge up their phone. They will be followed next week by the first of 
a fleet of Vodafone-branded Heathrow Express trains. 
 
It is all part of Vodafone’s commitment to keeping London calling. In the past few months the mobile 
phone company has improved the performance of well over 500 of its sites across the city and will continue 
to invest heavily to ensure it has the best network in the capital. Every month, Vodafone customers in 
London make more than 160 million calls, send over 155 million texts and download the equivalent of 16 
billion emails. 
 
Vodafone UK Chief Executive Guy Laurence said “We are committed to offering London the best possible 
network. We have already made hundreds of improvements to increase coverage, capacity and reliability to 
ensure Londoners can always stay in touch with friends and family. Now with our fantastic fleet of Union 
Jack cabs and their on-board chargers which anyone can use, all Londoners will be able to see our 
continuing commitment to the capital.” 

 

 

 

 

  

Check the availability and latest deals for Vodafone here