YouTube Video Hints At New T-Mobile myTouch Phones By LG |

It used to be that T-Mobile’s myTouch line consisted exclusively of HTC devices, but a video uploaded to T-Mobile’s official YouTube account has revealed that the myTouch club may have some new members.

Before being marked as private, the tutorial video briefly showed off two heretofore unseen LG smartphones, named simply the myTouch and the myTouch Q. A similar pair of LG phones was spotted in a leaked T-Mobile roadmap from a few months back, meaning that this could be the first glimpse of the rumored LG Maxx and Maxx Q.

The LG myTouch line bears a striking resemblance to LG’s Optimus Sol, which as TmoNews points out has a 3.8″ AMOLED display. The screen size seems consistent, as does the strangely low placement of the three Android softkeys, but it’s too early to tell if the LG myTouch is just a simple rebrand. The Maxx Q was also reported to sport a four-row QWERTY keyboard, which for right now seems like the only major difference between the two units.

Given the number of other myTouch entries in T-Mobile’s lineup, the branding choice here seems a bit puzzling. To call LG’s device simply the “myTouch” almost seems to imply that it’s more of a myTouch than all of HTC’s devices. It wouldn’t surprise me if T-Mobile made the video private to fix certain inconsistencies in the title and description. Still, if the original roadmap is to be believed, then we’ll only have to wait until November to find out the real deal.


Windows Phone 7.5 Review –

The Windows Phone 7.5 “Mango” update is finally here! If you’ve already read our “Ultimate Windows Phone 7.5 Mango Preview” from June, you’ve got a good idea of the huge amount of features that come with this update. This review will recycle some of that content in case you haven’t seen it before, but we’ll also bring you up to speed on the … Read More

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With $1M And An Alpha, Leaf Aims To Overhaul The Payments Experience For Local Merchants |

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Leaf, a Cambridge-based startup, is aiming to make the experience of paying in a shop more modern with paperless receipts for customers and transaction data in the cloud for merchants.

Backed with $ 1 million in seed funding, the company just kicked off an alpha with more than a dozen merchants in Boston. It enters a super competitive and complicated space with many other players like Paypal, Intuit, Square, which has its own Pay With Square service, and Stockholm’s iZettle.

So first off, Leaf is not a mobile wallet. It’s not a dongle. It’s a service that’s either an app that’s integrated into a merchant’s existing point-of-sale terminal or that’s part of a special terminal that Leaf leases for $ 20 a month. There will also be a consumer-facing app that you can download in two weeks for the iPhone and Android devices.

When a customer swipes their card, the app sends them a paperless receipt and lets them rate their experience with the merchant. The merchant in turn gets data in a usable format about transactions in their store. They can target specific customers with discounts.

More importantly, Leaf isn’t asking merchants to change payment providers. The company’s chief executive Aron Schwarzkopf says that all the data is encrypted and they’re using a payments gateway that’s Level 1 PCI compliant, or the highest security standard.

“Most small businesses have this very old legacy point-of-sale system,” Schwarzkopf said. “They have to figure out their inventory themselves. But really, all of this transaction data should be based in the cloud and easy for them to access.”

So the issue is that mobile payments is a notoriously difficult space. Even Google can’t get it right! However, what is worth pointing out is how young the team is and what they’ve done on such little capital.

Leaf was co-founded by a pair of recent graduates, Schwarzkopf and Sebastián Castro Galnares, from Babson College and MIT. They recruited Robert Wesley, who was a senior vice president of global product management and development at MasterCard and an executive at American Express, to be their chief strategy officer. Their chief technology officer, Marty Sirkin, had previously sold a company to Clarify and worked for IBM.

With the seed funding, they prototyped a point-of-sale terminal for less than $ 250,000.

“It was our biggest challenge to work with a very little small of money,” Schwarzkopf said.  ”We did our own custom hardware. Some people hated the idea until we completed it.”


Wunderlist To Launch Paid Version For Businesses –

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European-based app developer 6Wunderkinder is making a move to appeal to businesses with a professional version of the already insanely popular Wunderlist app. Wunderlist currently has over 9 million app downloads and counting, but expanding to offer up a new product to attract even more of the mobile and tablet market. The app is slated to be released next week.

The German company faces an ever-growing competition pool from other similar apps that are geared towards improving the user’s productivity and providing convenient and organized calendaring. However, the upcoming Wunderlist Pro will operate on a subscription model and be aimed small businesses. The main tasks the service will assist with are task management as well as collaboration; another way the app is designed to help businesses is through increased security.

According to 6Wunderkin’s CEO Christian Reber, the pricing plan will be $4.99 per month or $44.99 for a full year’s subscription. These numbers place Wunderlist Pro in line with similar services from their competitor Evernote, such as Evernote Business and Evernote Premium. The basic app will still be free to download.

The current Wunderlist app is free for any user to download, which is part of its popularity. It’s a useful tool to help manage your tasks and to-do lists on your phone, tablet or computer device, and the app connects to your Google Calendar. 6Wunderkin prides itself on designing simple, user-friendly products.

Currently, the app is available for iOS, Android and the web, but the company hopes to launch a Blackberry version as well as a Windows Phone rendition in the near future.


When It Comes To Shopping, Mobile Web Trumps Apps – Led By Amazon, Says Nielsen –

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NIELSEN Mobile Retail Apps and Websites Top 5 Reach

There’s been lots of debate about whether mobile apps or the web have the upper hand when it comes to making content for smartphones, and when it comes to using it. Some interesting insights from Nielsen out today on how in the case of mobile shopping, for now the main audience in the U.S. seems to be much more interested in using the mobile web over store-specific apps.

The research, which took into account data from some 5,000 Android and iOS smartphones in the U.S., doesn’t spell out how much money is actually spent on mobile web versus apps. And it looks like at least in the period covered by the research — which included the holiday shopping season — the results may have been particularly skewed by the sheer force of Amazon.

Nielsen notes that combining both mobile web and apps, the top five retailers’ sites — Amazon, Best Buy, eBay, Target and Walmart — reached 60 percent of smartphone users. But as you can see in the table above, apps appeared to attract half as many users as mobile web sites did each month.

Nielsen also notes, for what it’s worth, that men are more likely to use apps than women, who opt for mobile web sites. And more men than women visited Best Buy on mobile, while Target and Walmart attracted more mobile women. eBay and Amazon, it seems transcend these lines, attracting both in equal measures.

But as you can see from the table below, it seems like the market had something of an Amazon effect on it: Amazon’s own mobile website had a disproportionate amount of traffic compared to the others. That could have contributed to the overall picture of apps having less usage than the mobile web sites:

But whether retailers are using apps or mobile web (or ideally both) to target users, there seems to be another, probably more important message about the state of mobile shopping, and what retailers should be focussing on fixing:

In the case of both apps and web, while users spiked during the holiday season, that was not sustained by any of them: “By January, active reach was back to October 2011 levels,” notes John Burbank, president of strategic initiatives at Nielsen.


Walkie-Talkie App Voxer Popular With Investors, Too, Raising $15M to $20M At Up To $300M Valuation |

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There have been a few walkie-talkie mobile apps that have come out on iOS and Android over the last year or two, but it wasn’t until last fall that one of them had a breakout moment. Voxer suddenly hit it big with the young black community in Cleveland and a few other big cities last November. Since then, it has spread to the rest of the world, topping the app store and gaining a wide range of users – including venture capitalists on Sand Hill Road here in Silicon Valley.

By which I mean, lots of VCs are both using it, and looking at investing in it. Voxer has spent the last couple months working on closing an angel round that it had left open, according to industry sources, while also working on its first venture funding. It’s raising $ 15-20 million at a pre-money valuation of $ 150 million, says one person. Another counters, saying that the valuation is going to be at least double that.

Among the attractions, beyond the usage numbers, are the company’s patents and tech about its live-streaming voice service. Many of its competitors are essentially using existing voice mail technology, which results in delays between the person recording and the person getting the message. Voxer is able to make everything live, to the point that you can talk to each other at the same time. It is the most similar to the Nextel walkie talkie phones that have been out for years, except it lets you listen to messages whenever you want and talk one-to-one with other users.

Beyond the product and tech, one of the other main attractions is that the company is looking at doing what Nextel did, and distribute across larger organizations. Indeed, founder Tom Katis told me in November that the idea for the company resulted from his time as a soldier in Afghanistan, trying to coordinate reinforcements and medical teams during a firefight. He’s also the founder of one of the top security contractors in the world, Triple Canopy, so you can imagine him using his connections to that industry to help drive enterprise sales.

The big question now is how high investors are going to be willing to go. An additional source says that some top firms have been very interested, but are unsure of the company’s long-term trajectory. It has 2.5 million daily active users, one person says, but most of this growth has been in the last two to three months. The uncertainty here is what the future holds for Voxer’s style of communication – short-form voice message recordings, that users can listen to sequentially in a text-message style flow. The fact that VCs are finding the format valuable is no doubt helping the company raise.

I haven’t pinned down which venture investors are going to lead or participate, but names mentioned have included a good portion of the most prominent firms in the Valley.


Urban Airship To Shutter SimpleGeo Services In March, With Factual Picking Up The Slack |

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Yesterday, we wrote about Urban Airship, the startup that gives developers a simple way to build in-app purchases and push notifications into their mobile apps, and how the company has been on a tear of late. They recently hired Skype’s former strategy czar and yesterday hit 10 billion notifications pushed. Not bad for a two-year-old.

On top of that, Urban Airship acquired SimpleGeo at the end of October for approximately $ 3.5 million. Considering that the two startups had some months before struck a strategic partnership, and both provide location-based services for mobile developers, the acquisition made sense, even if the price was lower than many had hoped. (And SimpleGeo Co-founder Joe Stump left the company post-acquisition, following Co-founder Matt Galligan.)

At the time, it was unclear what Urban Airship would be doing with the terabyte-plus of SimpleGeo location data. Today, that became clear. Simply put, it looks like it’s curtains for SimpleGeo’s services. Urban Airship said this afternoon, after the requisite internal discussions, talks with customers, and hand-wringing, that it will “wind down the availability of the current versions of [SimpleGeo’s] Places, Context, and Storage over the next few months”.

The target date for pulling the plug officially will be March 31st. Obviously, this is not good news for SimpleGeo’s customers, so in order to make sure its customers aren’t left out in the cold, the company said that Factual will be picking up the slack. The LA-based startup will be migrating developers over to its service, as the company offers its own API with location information, similar to that which was provided by SimpleGeo. A loss for SimpleGeo means a win for Factual.

Factual has been providing SimpleGeo with their Places data since June 2011, so Urban Airship hopes that it will be able to facilitate a smooth transition to Factual’s API to continue with access to that data. Urban Airship is also offering customers an additional list of replacement services here.

Furthermore, the startup will not be charging for use of Places, Context, or Storage services through March 31st, and will be offering existing SimpleGeo customers up to six months of its Pro Plan for no monthly charge. (More here.) Smacks of a bit of guilt, doesn’t it?

Urban Airship said that it is basically determined to focus on its product development efforts, which means that it will be taking the best parts of SimpleGeo to beef up the location and context capabilities of its push notifications, while the rest is for all intents and purposes kaput. This wasn’t unforeseen considering the departures from the company post-acquisition, but it’s probably not what the SimpleGeo founders had in mind a year ago.

For more, here’s Urban Airship’s blog post.


USB Condoms Protect Your Phone Data From Viruses |

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USB Condoms Protect Your Phone Data From Viruses

17 September 2013

With concerns about personal privacy and data security reaching an all time high, it’s not too surprising to learn that there is a condom you can use to protect your cell phone data. Maybe you didn’t even realize your phone was susceptible to dangers anytime you plug it into a public charging station, but there are risks involved and a group of developers, called Int3.cc, wants consumers to be protected.

The Int3.cc community is “trying to research and learn more about embedded device development and security,” and they warn users that “If you’re going to around plugging your phone into strange USB ports, at least be safe about it ;) .”

In response to the dangers presented by unfamiliar USB ports, Int3.cc created the protective USB condom, a sleeve-like device designed to sit directly over any USB charger you want to plug your device into. The condom prevents the USB from having access to the data-transferring pins that put your information at risk, while still allowing the phone battery to charge.

So what kind of attacks does the USB condom protect your device against? Well, as phone charging stations appear more frequently in public spaces like airports or unfamiliar settings like conference centers, consumers are plugging their devices into USB ports that the are potentially unsafe. There is a growing possibility that charging stations will either transfer malware and viruses to your phone or even syphon off personal information.

Obviously you don’t want your phone to contract any harmful software, but personal privacy is perhaps a greater risk. In most cases, if devices access and steal personal information through charging stations, there’s no evidence of the crime left behind, so you’ll never suspect a thing.

In extreme cases, hackers can even download a vicious app to a your phone that allows the group to control the smartphone remotely. For example, the Mactans hacker demonstration proved that external parties could attain control of your device if you plug it into a fake charger without protection in a process being called “juice jacking”.

 

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Users Report Annoying (Apparently Fixed) WiFi Bug In iOS 6 –

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It looks like there’s been another bug in today’s launch of iOS 6. We’ve been getting multiple tips stating iOS 6 is causing a bug in users’ WiFi several hours after it’s installed. There are also tweets and a long discussion thread on the Apple website to that effect.

Heck, it’s already getting to the point where people are making jokes.

Here’s what the basic pattern seems to be: The WiFi works all right at first, but then you’re eventually booted off. If you try to get on again, it looks like you’ve connected, but then you’re redirected to a login/404 page on the Apple website. Someone named “tylerc” on Twitter offers this explanation: “Turns out iOS checks http://www.apple.com/library/test/success.html … to make sure WiFi doesn’t require login, but that page was 404′ing, so, disaster. Crazy!”

When I checked this out myself, I noticed that I had been disconnected from the TechCrunch office WiFi, but once I got on again, I didn’t have any problems. TechCrunch’s Drew Olanoff had a similar experience. It also looks like the Apple page in question is up again, so the issue may be resolved. I’ve also emailed Apple in the off chance that they respond.

Source: TechCrunch