EU’s New Recycling Law Will Cover Laptops, Phones, Tablets

The European Commission is set to extend its eco-design directive to cover laptops, phones and tablets, setting a standard for changeable and repairable parts, dubbed “the right to repair.” It is estimated that, in the European Union, less than 40 percent of electronic waste is recycled. The law currently covers energy efficiency standards for computers, dishwashers, TVs and washing machines. European commissioner for the environment Virginijus Sinkevičius said this Circular Economy Action Plan is a “new economic model.” Continue reading EU’s New Recycling Law Will Cover Laptops, Phones, Tablets

Court Rules Police Need a Warrant for Phone Location Data

The Supreme Court has ruled that police need a search warrant to obtain data showing the location of cell phone users. Similar to rulings made in 2012 and 2014, the Supreme Court rejected the argument that police should have the same access as investigators do in order to examine business records held in banks or conduct physical surveillance. The ruling stated the “world of difference” between 1970s decisions allowing the limited personal information obtained in accessing business records and today’s digital records. Continue reading Court Rules Police Need a Warrant for Phone Location Data

Google Shutters its Project Ara Plans to Build Modular Phones

Google has reportedly suspended its Project Ara initiative to build a modular smartphone with interchangeable components. The goal was to develop a phone that consumers could customize with cameras, speakers, batteries and other parts in an effort to prolong lifespan and reduce electronic waste. “The move marks an about-face for the tech company, which announced a host of partners for Project Ara at its developer conference in May and said it would ship a developer edition of the product this autumn,” according to Reuters. “Axing Project Ara is one of the first steps in a campaign to unify Google’s various hardware efforts, which range from Chromebook laptops to Nexus phones.” Continue reading Google Shutters its Project Ara Plans to Build Modular Phones

Security Alert: Apple Urges iPhone Users to Update Their iOS

The NSO Group, an Israeli firm that sells software for invisibly tracking mobile phones, is believed to be responsible for leveraging three security vulnerabilities in Apple devices to spy on journalists and dissidents. The software can reportedly be used to access passwords, emails, text messages, calls, contacts and more. Apple fixed the security flaws 10 days after two researchers provided the tip. The company urges all users to download the latest version of iOS. “Apple on Thursday released a patched version of its mobile software, iOS 9.3.5,” reports The New York Times. “Users can get the patch through a normal software update.” Continue reading Security Alert: Apple Urges iPhone Users to Update Their iOS

Facebook Aims to Connect the World and Attract More Users

Facebook has debuted a simple, less expensive way to bring wireless networks to rural areas, especially in developing nations. OpenCellular is a platter-sized device that can be attached to a telephone pole, tree or street lamp, to drive a variety of wireless networks, from 2G to LTE and Wi-Fi. Rather than get into the hardware business, however, Facebook will open-source the design for OpenCellular, with the hope that others will develop it to connect the 10 percent of the world that lacks cellular networks. Continue reading Facebook Aims to Connect the World and Attract More Users

Mobile-Only U.S. Homes Grow, Mobile Internet Leads Globally

Two recent reports document the trend of U.S. households to use only cell phones and, globally, for mobile networks to be the dominant means of accessing the Internet. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s report shows 47 percent of U.S. homes now only use mobile phones. The annual survey of the International Telecommunications Union reveals that there are 7.1 billion mobile subscriptions globally, and more than 95 percent of the earth’s inhabitants are within reach of a mobile network signal. Continue reading Mobile-Only U.S. Homes Grow, Mobile Internet Leads Globally

Microsoft Scheduled to Release its Windows 10 OS on July 29

Microsoft announced yesterday that Windows 10 would launch in 190 countries by the end of July. The upgrade will be free for PC and tablet users running Windows 7 and Windows 8.1, while the $119 Home version and $199 Pro version will be available for all others. (The company has yet to announce when Windows 10 will be available for phones.) New features include the personal assistant Cortana, the new Microsoft Edge browser, integration with Microsoft’s Xbox platform, and the return of the iconic Start Menu. Continue reading Microsoft Scheduled to Release its Windows 10 OS on July 29

Chinese Smartphone Maker Xiaomi Wants to Go International

Xiaomi is the most popular smartphone maker in China and the third largest phone maker in the world. During the next year, the company hopes to expand its presence outside of China to developing markets in India, Brazil, and Indonesia. The company specializes in manufacturing low-cost, well-designed phones that they sell primarily online. Xiaomi is also hoping to increase profits by selling apps and entertainment for the phones, along with other electronic devices like a tablet and smart TV. Continue reading Chinese Smartphone Maker Xiaomi Wants to Go International

Facebook Introduces Safety Check for Users During Disasters

Facebook recently announced Safety Check, an easy way to check on others when disasters strike. The service will first allow users to let others know they are safe during a disaster. It will also allow users to check in on others and mark friends as safe. Only friends will have access to these updates. The tool is designed for users to remain connected to those they care about. Safety Check will be available on Android, iOS, feature phones and desktops globally. Continue reading Facebook Introduces Safety Check for Users During Disasters

Microsoft to Introduce Redesigned Start Menu for Windows 10

Microsoft is skipping from Windows 8 to a Windows 10 operating system, expected to launch in the middle of next year. The new version, which was unveiled earlier this week, is intended to work across many different devices, from those connected via the “Internet of Things” to touchscreen phones, tablets and laptops. Windows 10 also features a newly redesigned Start Menu, which combines the tile design of Windows 8 with the traditional list design in older versions of Windows. Continue reading Microsoft to Introduce Redesigned Start Menu for Windows 10

Speech Recognition Tech: Kids Speak with Animated Characters

Pixar vets Oren Jacob and Martin Reddy launched San Francisco-based ToyTalk, a startup that develops mobile games that enable children to have extended conversations with animated characters. The concept was inspired by a Skype call when Jacob’s then 7-year-old daughter asked if she could speak with one of her dolls. While kids can hear characters speak through movies, games and toys, Jacob began thinking about how to help children better engage with the characters. Continue reading Speech Recognition Tech: Kids Speak with Animated Characters

Intel Plans to Bring 3D Scanning to Tablets and Smartphones

Intel has been developing technology that brings 3D scanners to tablets, and plans to include the feature in consumer models by 2015. Next, the company expects to place the same technology in smartphones, in addition to incorporating 3D scanning cameras onto drones. The idea is, after scanning, Intel’s RealSense will produce a 3D model that the user can then manipulate with software or send to a 3D printer. At New York’s MakerCon, the company demonstrated the technology. Continue reading Intel Plans to Bring 3D Scanning to Tablets and Smartphones

Samsung Unveils New Galaxy Note 4 Phone and VR Headset

Samsung’s updated Galaxy Note 4 can serve as a screen in a new virtual reality headset accessory. The phone has a higher resolution 5.7-inch display and camera, and can snap into the Gear VR headset to provide users with an immersive video game or concert experience. Samsung has partnered with Facebook’s Oculus VR to develop a new headset, the Gear VR Innovator Edition. This wireless headset contains speakers and electronics to display the Note 4’s screen in a 360-degree experience. Continue reading Samsung Unveils New Galaxy Note 4 Phone and VR Headset

Verizon Settlement is Largest in FCC History Involving Privacy

Following an investigation by the Federal Communications Commission regarding the use of customer information for marketing campaigns, Verizon has agreed to pay a settlement to the federal government. The FCC investigated allegations that Verizon used personal information without notifying customers or obtaining their consent. To end the investigation, Verizon will pay $7.4 million to the U.S. Treasury and notify its customers of their opt-out rights on every bill for the next three years. Continue reading Verizon Settlement is Largest in FCC History Involving Privacy

New California Law to Require ‘Kill Switch’ on Smartphones

Starting in July of next year, all smartphones sold in California must have a “kill switch,” a software feature that allows smartphone owners to disable a phone after it has been stolen. The “kill switch” will make it more difficult for thieves to resell stolen phones because the phone can only be reactivated with the owner’s correct password. Smartphone manufacturers will be required to ship these phones with the anti-theft technology activated as part of the default settings. Continue reading New California Law to Require ‘Kill Switch’ on Smartphones

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