Mobile phone roaming charges cut within EU

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The cost of using a mobile phone within EU countries will be fall from Monday.

New roaming price caps mean charges for making a call will drop by at least 17% a minute while receiving a call will drop by about 12% a minute. The cost of a text message will fall by 11%.

New EU rules mean downloading data, including looking at maps, checking emails and sending pictures, will be 36% cheaper, and 91% cheaper compared with 2007. The cost of using a phone abroad has traditionally been very high but the European commission has been working to reduce it since 2007.

The commission’s vice president, Neelie Kroes, said: “The EU has to be relevant to people’s lives. The latest price cuts put more money in your pocket for summer, and are a critical step towards getting rid of these premiums once and for all. This is good for both consumers and companies, because it takes fear out of the market, and it grows the market.”

Overall the commission said it has achieved retail price reductions across calls, SMS and data of over 80% since 2007. Further reductions will come into play in July next year, a spokesman added. Operators are free to offer cheaper rates, and some have already begun to remove roaming premiums altogether for voice and SMS, or offer a roaming-free area across some sections of Europe.

From Monday the new price caps, excluding VAT, will be:

45 cents (38p) a megabyte to download data or browse the internet

24 cents (20p) a minute to make a call

7 cents (6p) a minute to receive a call

8 cents (7p) to send a text message

 

Spam texts

Texting is more popular than ever before, with over 152 billion texts sent in 2012 alone. So it’s no surprise that firms are increasingly choosing to market their products by text. But no-one wants to have their mobile phone bombarded with spam texts advertising products and services they don’t want.

 
Texting is more popular than ever before, with over 152 billion texts sent in 2012 alone. So it’s no surprise that firms are increasingly choosing to market their products by text. But no-one wants to have their mobile phone bombarded with spam texts advertising products and services they don’t want.
 
This guide explains more about spam texts and how to stop them.
  
What is a spam text?
 
A spam text is a text message sent to a mobile phone marketing a particular product or service.
 
These texts can have many purposes. For example: Claims management – these mainly concern personal injury claims and claims for mis-sold payment protection insurance (PPI) or Debt management – these messages offer various types of debt management services.
  
Why do organisations send these texts?
  
Organisations send these texts to generate ‘leads’ which they then sell on to firms who offer the service provided in the message.  In the case of personal injury claims, the leads would essentially be a list of people interested in claiming compensation for a personal injury. This list is then sold on to a firm which manages personal injury claims. It will contact the people on the list and offer them its services in dealing with possible claims.
 
 What is the law?
 
It is against the law for anyone to send you spam texts unless you have previously given them permission. However, if there is an existing customer relationship between you and the sender, it can send you spam text messages about similar products and services, as long as you are given the ability to opt out of receiving such messages. The law does not cover messages sent to business numbers.
 
What can I do to stop receiving spam texts?
 
If you receive a text message from a sender you are familiar with, or from a shortcode (a shortcode is usually 5 digits long but can be up to 8), reply ‘STOP’ to the telephone number or short code shown in the text message. This will inform the sender that you no longer wish to receive their text messages.
 
However, if the text message is from an unknown sender, or from a sender you are not familiar with, we recommend you don’t reply. Responding to the text will confirm that your number is active and might actually result in you receiving more messages, or even voice calls. Instead, you may report the text to your network operator. To report a spam text forward the text to 7726.
 
You may get an automated response thanking you for the report and giving you further instructions if needed. You will not be charged for sending texts to 7726. An easy way to remember ‘7726’ is that they are the numbers on your telephone keypad that spell out the word ‘SPAM’.
  
How can I complain?
 
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is responsible for enforcing the rules on spam texts. If you are unhappy about receiving such texts, or continue to receive them after informing the relevant company to stop, you should complain to the ICO. 
 
The ICO has powers to investigate any suspected breaches of the regulations, and take enforcement action against any organisation breaching the rules.
 
Complain to the ICO
 
You can complain to the ICO by:
Ringing their helpline: 0303 123 1113
Going online
By post: Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF
 
 
Why complain?
 
Your complaint can provide real benefits, both for you as an individual and for consumers generally. This is because complaints play a vital role in helping regulators tackle the companies responsible for nuisance calls and messages.
 
Without your complaints, regulators would find it much harder to indentify and take action against those responsible. Although complaining may not put a complete or immediate stop to all your nuisance calls or messages, it does help regulators take more targeted action in this area. Making a complaint is simple. You can do it online, by phone or by post, and it can take as little as 5 minutes.
 

New Smartphone Manufacturer Kazam Launches in UK

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Kazam will produce phones aimed predominantly at the European market, and the company’s founders are intent on “disrupting the status quo”.

The company is being founded by the former head of UK sales for HTC, Michael Coombes, who will be Kazam’s CEO, and the former marketing manager for HTC in the UK, James Atkins, who will assume a similar role in the new company.

The company’s founders hope that by focussing on more local markets they will be able to deliver new features more dynamically in response to consumer demand, which can vary from market to market.

Kazam also promises to keep supporting its handsets long after they have gone on sale, unlike most manufacturers who will neglect software updates for older phones to focus more on newer releases.

Kazam has not announced much more detail regarding what it has planned, including which operating system(s) it plans on using.

The company may struggle with less investment power, R&D funds, and economies of scale like its larger competitors such as Apple and Samsung, and may struggle to win the promotional backing of UK network’s – who can help to make or break the success of phone models.

On the other hand, its more flexible nature may allow it to bring in new and innovative features more speedily than its more monolithic competitors, which could win it a lot of support from technology enthusiasts.

 

   

 Compare all deals on Kazam here.

Huawei says Ascend P6 is world’s ‘slimmest’ smartphone

peoples-phone-huawei-ascend-p6Huawei has unveiled what is says is the world’s thinnest smartphone.

The Android-based Ascend P6 is 6.18mm (0.24in) thick and is also unusual in that it has a 5 megapixel front camera for “high quality” self-portraits.

The Chinese firm has said it expects the handset to do “miracles” for its brand.

One analyst praised its design, comparing it to a “steamrollered iPhone”, but said its lack of support for 4G networks might limit sales. “It’s undoubtedly the most impressive phone that Huawei have launched to date in terms of the design, the materials used and its quality,” said Ben Wood, director of research at consultancy CCS Insight, who was at the London launch.

“We’ve seen mainland Chinese manufacturers rapidly improve their ability to make competitive devices over the last 18 months and this is possibly the best so far. But its 3G status means there has undoubtedly been a trade-off to get it as thin and cheap as possible.”

Huawei says it designed one of the slimmest and narrowest circuit boards in the industry to squeeze the electronics into the new handset. The device has a 4.7in screen making it comparable to the HTC One but is more than 3mm (0.1in) thinner. It is also slightly slimmer than both the iPhone 5 and the Alcatel One Idol Ultra – which previously claimed to be the world’s thinnest – but at 120g (0.26lb) weighs a little more than both.

The phone features Huawei’s own tile-based user interface called Emotion and proprietary software, including an “auto-facial enhancement” tool designed to make self-portraits look better.

The Ascend P6 features Huawei’s own user interface

Other specifications include:

An 8 megapixel rear cameraUse of the latest Android Jelly Bean 4.2.2 operating system8 gigabytes of internal storage – a relatively low amount – but support for 32GB microSD cardsA 1.5GHz quad core processor developed by HuaweiVarious power saving technologies based on the firm’s experience as one of the biggest telecoms equipment makers. As a result, it says the device’s battery lasts 30% longer than it would do otherwise.

Huawei is already a well known brand in China where it grew to become the country’s biggest maker of telecoms equipment after being founded in 1987. Its more recent shift into Android phones has also found success. According to data research firm IDC it shipped 9.9 million smartphones in the first three months of the year making it fourth biggest vendor after Samsung, Apple and LG.

However, the firm acknowledges it still needs to do more to make western consumers familiar with its name and has committed 2% of its revenues to try to ensure it is widely recognised as a leading smart device brand within five years.

“Seven years ago nobody would have believed Apple could be so successful, and maybe five years ago that Samsung could be so successful,” said Shao Yang, chief marketing officer for Huawei Device.

According to a recent study by at Strategy Analytics, Samsung accounts for about 95% of all profits in the Android smartphone market, thanks to “an efficient supply chain, sleek products and crisp marketing”.

That has led some analysts to question the wisdom of competing directly against the South Korean firm. But Mr Wood suggested Huawei might be able to make headway thanks to the economies of scale offered by its rapid rise in its homeland.

“This year Huawei is expected to sell 60 million units – double what it did last year – with the lion’s share of that coming from China,” he said. “So, when competing with companies like Sony or Nokia it has an inherent advantage which will help with cost.”

“It has to make the most of that as it has to pay a kind of tax in the west: since its name is less well known, for big operators or retailers to take its products they expect to get them at a lower price feature-for-feature, spec-for-spec than from a recognised brand.”

 

 

Compare all deals on Huawei here.

 

Bollywood hits at the touch of a button

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TalkTalk TV customers can access Bollywood hits at the touch of a button with a new on demand service.

Leading global company Eros International’s dedicated online service, ErosNow.com, is joining YouView from TalkTalk, offering hit Asian movies like Chakravyuh, Dabangg, Khiladi 786, Milenge Milenge and Love Aaj Kal.

Viewers can rent films on a pay per view basis, for £2, or buy unlimited access to around 20 Bollywood films, to watch on demand, with the £5 Eros Now Boost. New movies are added every month and because the service is provided by Eros International, the latest titles are always available.

The Eros Now Boost and on demand movies sit alongside the Asian Boost and Star TV Boost, which means TalkTalk now offers eight Asian channels and an on demand movie service, all available a month at a time, with no ongoing commitment.

The Star TV Boost offers great movies and entertainment through channels Star GOLD, Star Life OK and Star Jalsha plus bonus channel Star Plus, and can be viewed 24 hours a day with shows aired in real time.

And new content partners are joining YouView from TalkTalk all the time. As well as offering more channels and thousands of TV shows and box sets for free, TalkTalk TV offers access to premium content including Sky Sports and Sky Movies, with TV Boosts available from £5.

TV Boosts include channels from Disney, Fox, ESPN, Sky, MTV, Nickelodeon, Discovery and Turner, and favourites like Comedy Central, Gold and Syfy.

Laurence Miall-d’Août, TalkTalk’s Director of TV, said: “ErosNow is the latest international content partner to join YouView from TalkTalk, and we have a lot more specialist channels coming on board.

“With 12,000 homes choosing TalkTalk TV every week, we are proud to be the fastest growing new TV service in Britain.”

Rishika Lulla Singh, CEO ErosNow added, “ErosNow continues to engage digital audiences of Indian films worldwide and provide them with the best in Bollywood. Aligning with a leading service provider like YouView from TalkTalk helps us reach out to the broader Asian Diaspora in Britain”

 

 

Check the latest TalkTalk broadband deals here.

 

Government must call time on nuisance calls and texts

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As new Which? research finds that the Telephone Preference Service (TPS) is failing to cut off nuisance calls and regulators confirm they need more powers to sort out their piecemeal approach, they tell the Government it’s time to step in and get a grip on nuisance calls and texts.

Registering with the TPS is the top action people take to reduce unwanted calls, however our new research shows that people registered with TPS still received, on average, double the average number of unsolicited calls than those not signed up. While people registered with the TPS report a decrease in nuisance calls after signing up, they received on average 10 unsolicited calls in the last month. This compares to five on average for those who have not signed up. Around six in 10 (57%) people registered with the TPS are not satisfied with the service.

The scale of the nuisance calls problem is laid bare as we find that around eight in ten (85%) people received an unsolicited call in the last month, of these a staggering one in 10 (8%) people received 50 unwanted calls or more in the last month. Six in 10 (62%) people received calls about Payment Protection Insurance and half (48%) from accident claim companies.

The Which? Calling Time on Nuisance Calls and Texts campaign asked the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), the Ministry of Justice, Ofcom and the Office of Fair Trading to form a joint taskforce within 12 weeks to stop unwanted calls and texts. Time is up and while we have seen some progress and coordinated action, we need to see a new tougher approach, led by the Government, to deal with the scale of this problem.

Today Which? are demanding that the Government steps in to strengthen the law on consent and the use of personal data, to give regulators more powers to enforce the law, and to work with industry to provide technical fixes to filter out unwanted calls and texts.

Which? executive director, Richard Lloyd, said: “Consumers are sick and tired of being bombarded with nuisance calls and texts. The current system is failing the public and given the scale of this problem, it’s time for the Government to step in. We urgently need to see a new approach, new laws and new technology to tackle this scourge on people’s lives. People must be put back in control of their personal data.”

They are calling on people to pledge their support for our Calling Time campaign.

The Government should give regulators the power to properly police and punish the industry, to send a clear message that unlawful practices won’t be tolerated.

Consumers are often targeted with nuisance calls because at some point they ‘ticked the box’ giving consent to companies not only to contact them but also to pass on their personal data to third parties. The Government must tackle this trading of data and put consumers back in control.

Which? want the Government to introduce:

An expiry date on third party consent, where a person consents to be contacted by ‘selected third parties’ for marketing purposes, so it can only last for a set amount of time. The Government should consult on whether there are justifiable reasons for it to be more than a year.

An obligation on businesses to demonstrate to the Information Commissioner (ICO) that a consumer gave consent. This would reverse the current situation where the ICO has to prove that the company did not have consent.

They want increased powers for the regulators by:

Extending the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR) which governs electronic marketing to include firms selling on personal data, not just those that conduct direct marketing.

Lowering the threshold for the ICO under PECR to take enforcement action so that they do not have to find evidence of harm, and only need to prove a company breached the rules.

• Strengthening enforcement action against companies who call people registered with the TPS, and make it clear that companies cannot call someone if they gave consent via a third party.

Also Which? want the Government to work with industry to:

Require businesses to send their Caller ID so people can see a company’s telephone number and therefore report nuisance calls to regulators.

Provide spam filtering technology on mobiles to stop unwanted texts.

Develop a short-code that consumers can dial after receiving an unwanted call that transmits information to the regulators and network operators.

They want regulators to publish information about all enforcement action they are taking to serve as a deterrent to the industry and so that consumers can see their complaints are being acted upon.

Which? is also lobbying for a Private Member’s Bill (Communications Bill on Reducing Unwanted Telephone Calls and Texts) to raise this issue in Parliment.

 

 

Apple reveals iOS 7 ‘brighter look’ design revamp

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Apple has unveiled a brighter look for the user interface of its smart device iOS operating system – the first to be overseen by its design chief Jony Ive.

He said the aim was to make the system look “cleaner” to help “elevate” users’ content. It involves a shift away from skeuomorphism – the use of leather, wood and other real-world inspired textures and artifacts in apps. A similar change has also been made to the OS X system for Mac computers.

Highlighting the new look of the firm’s Game Center app, Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering Craig Federighi joked: “We just completely ran out of green felt and wood – this has got to be good for the environment.”

He also showed off a parallax effect which means icons shift against the background image as an iPhone-user tilts their handset one way and another, based on feedback from the device’s accelerometer sensor.

“The new version is almost unrecognizable, which will make it polarising,” said Jan Dawson, chief telecoms analyst at the consultancy Ovum. “Some people will love that their phone feels new and different, while others will be disoriented by the newness. Finding your Settings app is hard when the icon has totally changed, and the many people who easily get disoriented by their gadgets may well have a negative experience. On the other hand, this is a clear statement from Apple that it acknowledges the need to refresh the user interface and is willing to do something pretty dramatic.”

The firm also announced iTunes Radio – a streaming music service offering access to themed stations which can be tailored according to a person’s listening history on iTunes, as well as tracks from specific bands – including unreleased exclusives – which they do not own. Apple suggested it was a way for users to “discover new music”, and the firm will promote the ability to buy songs that a user likes via its store. The feature is accessible through iOS 7’s music app as well as iTunes software for Macs, PCs and Apple TVs. It poses a challenge to Last.fm, Pandora, Spotify and other similar products.

The launch comes a month after Google unveiled Play Music All Access, a similar facility for Android devices. But unlike the search firm’s pay-to-use model, Apple is making iTunes Radio accessible without charge if users are willing to listen to adverts, as well as an ad-free option to consumers who buy an iTunes Match subscription.

One music industry watcher suggested Apple’s move could prove disruptive in light of the fact the firm has 575 million iTunes accounts. “A large portion of digital music consumers currently buy their music through Apple’s store,” said Chris Cooke, business editor at the music industry news site CMU. “If we are seeing a shift – which many in the industry think we are – from a situation where downloads are the norm to one where streaming becomes more popular, then Apple has a large audience which it can persuade that its streaming service is the one to shift to.”

However, Nokia suggested its rival was a relatively late entrant to the market. “We launched our streaming radio service in 2011,” it said in a statement. “It’s interesting to see Apple react now and it seems they continue to play catch up.”

Other new features in iOS 7 include:

Automatic app updates
A swipe-up Control Center feature which brings together frequently used functions such as turning on wi-fi or bluetooth, adjusting the volume, and using the iPhone as a torch
The ability to carry out searches via Microsoft’s Bing service within the voice-controlled Siri app, which also features new voices
An anti-theft measure which requires a user to enter an associated ID and password before being able to deactivate a device’s Find My iPhone feature
Redesigned fonts to create the appearance of sharper text
About 37.4 million iPhones shipped worldwide in the January-to-March quarter according to market intelligence firm IDC, confirming its status as Apple’s biggest source of revenue.

Control Center
Control Center brings frequently used functions together in the same place
Although that was a rise on the same period in 2012, the study suggests the firm’s smartphone market share slipped to 17.3% while Android’s grew to 75%, thanks in large part to Samsung’s success. It also indicates Apple is facing a similar trend in the tablet sector.

Apple’s products might still be more profitable, but IDC suggested it needed the refresh. “People were getting a bit bored with the old design so Apple needed to make significant changes,” said IDC’s mobile device research director Francisco Jeronimo. Apple said iOS 7 would be released to the public in the autumn.

In addition to the iOS revamp, Apple also showed off the next version of its operating system for Macintosh computers, which will be called Mavericks – ending its tradition of naming its OS updates after types of big cat. The software now includes the ability to access the firm’s mapping software via a new app, read books bought from its iBooks store, and tag files – in a similar fashion to Evernote and OneNote – to make it easier to call up documents that share information in common.

A decision to revamp the look of its Calendar software, ditching the current version’s use of a leather and torn paper design, also drew applause from the audience of software developers at the San Francisco announcement.

Apple boasted that its upcoming top-end desktop will be a fraction of the size of its predecessor. Apple also announced new laptops using Intel’s Haswell processors, as well as a redesigned Mac Pro desktop which will use Intel’s Xeon E5 CPU (central processing unit) and two FirePro GPUs (graphics processing units) made by AMD.

Apple noted that the cylindrical Mac Pro was “one-eighth the volume” of its previous model and could support up to three 4K resolution displays. “Sales of high-end desktops are a niche market for Apple, but a high margin one,” said Chris Green, principal technology analyst at Davies Murphy Group. “The old Mac Pro has also been unavailable in Europe for a while because of environmental regulations, so it does need to get out a new model.”

  

Compare all deals on Apple here.

 

Virgin TV Anywhere gains eleven dazzling channels

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Virgin Media has added 11 new live channels to Virgin TV Anywhere, its award-winning cloud-based entertainment service available exclusively to Virgin TV customers.

The new array of live channels – including channels from ITV, A&E Networks UK and Viacom International Media Networks – enables Virgin Media subscribers to take their home entertainment beyond the TV to devices such as computers, tablets and smartphones at no extra cost.

The introduction of ITV, ITV 2, ITV 3 and ITV 4 to the service means customers need never miss an episode of Coronation Street and can watch everything from The Americans and Britain’s Got Talent to The Jeremy Kyle Show and even live sport while they’re on the move.

American Pickers and Mud Men on HISTORY will keep those with a hankering for history entertained while Bio programmes I Survived… and Dance Moms inspire viewers with extraordinary true-life tales.

Content from Viacom now available to stream via tablet includes MTV’s ever-popular Geordie Shore as well as enduring animated favourites such as Nickelodeon’s Sponge Bob Square Pants and Nick Jr’s Dora the Explorer.

The new channels join the collection of entertainment, news, documentaries, music and even premium sport and movies channels already available on Virgin TV Anywhere.

Virgin TV customers can access Virgin TV Anywhere through the web or, for the 1.5 million customers with Virgin Media TiVo®, through a mobile and tablet app.

Scott Kewley, Virgin Media’s multiscreen product director, said: “The latest channels to join Virgin TV Anywhere are brimming with top soaps, documentaries and comedy and follow hot on the heels of the 21 channels we added to the service in April. With an ever-expanding array of programmes available that cater for every taste, customers will never be stuck for something to watch, catching their favourite shows and discovering new ones in ways not offered on rival platforms. When paired with a Virgin Media TiVo box, we believe TV Anywhere offers our best, most interactive entertainment experience yet.”

The online service is available to all Virgin TV customers, with extra features for TiVo users to manage their boxes through a range of exclusive tools such as remote record and managing ‘My Shows’.

The mobile and tablet app is available on iOS devices such as the iPad and will be coming to Android devices later this year. The app offers the ability to manage TiVo boxes including scheduling recordings and deleting shows. It also acts as a touch/gesture-based remote control when at home which means viewers can search for whatever they want using a full QWERTY keyboard and without taking over the big screen. They can flick any live TV show or recording straight to the TV and even immediately start watching something On Demand from any point without the need to fast-forward or rewind.

 

 

 

 

Check the availability and latest deals for Virgin here

 

 

 

 

Apple to offer cheap iPhone 5 screen replacement service

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Apple has started to offer a cheaper screen replacement service for its iPhone 5, as it looks to undercut third parties who currently repair smashed handsets at impressively low rates.

The in-store service is said to have started rolling out in the US, with iPhone 5 owners who’ve dinged their beloved blower able to get a new panel for $149.

Best of all, punters don’t need to have Cupertino’s AppleCare software to get the deal.

The news hasn’t been officially confirmed. But posts on forums on the Quick iFix site, a company which also replaces busted iPhone displays, suggest Apple is already offering the deal in its US stores.

While Quick iFix used to repair iPhones for $174.99, it’s now been forced to slash its price to $139.99 to compete.

By way of comparison, Apple used to charge a whacking $229 to non-AppleCare customers.

There’s no word on whether Apple is planning to offer a similar deal here in Blighty.

But with its love of controlling every aspect of its devices, don’t be surprised to see a similar offer in your local Apple outlet.