O'Grady's PowerPage » wireless

AT&T ceases “permacookie” tracking program for the time being, Verizon still enacting its own version

Posted by:
Date: Monday, November 17th, 2014, 04:45
Category: iPhone, News, privacy, wireless


There are consequences for when a wireless carrier installs something that apparently tracks its user base a little too closely with no convenient means of removal.

Per Macworld and ProPublica, wireless carriers Verizon and AT&T have been caught up in a privacy firestorm over their use of so-called “permacookies,” a method of tracking what their users do while browsing the Web with the intent of sharing that data with advertisers. Verizon’s permacookie program lives on, but AT&T has ceased the practice.


Rumor: Chipmakers gearing up production of Apple Watch components for possible early 2015 launch

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, November 13th, 2014, 10:59
Category: Hardware, Rumor, wireless


Apple may have begun ramping up production of the Apple Watch for release in the relatively near future.

Per 9to5Mac and DigiTimes, while Apple has yet to provide a specific launch date for the Apple Watch, leaving its early 2015 timeframe and internal memo revealing a spring launch after Chinese New Year as the only information to go by in terms of a release date, chipmakers in Apple’s overseas supply chain are reportedly gearing up to begin production of the Apple Watch. The report, citing industry sources, claims that between 30 to 40 million units of the upcoming wearable device have been ordered.


AT&T admits to testing “unique tracker” on smartphones, offers opt-out option

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, October 30th, 2014, 11:55
Category: iPhone, News, security, wireless


This isn’t the best news.

According to Forbes, wireless carriers Verizon and AT&T have ceded that they’re tagging their customers with unique codes that are visible to third parties, making smartphone users far easier to track on the Web than they’ve ever been before, targeted advertising being that much easier to create as a result of this. After the findings by researchers, AT&T admitted it’s “testing” a new way of tracking its customers for ad display purposes.

“There’s nothing ready to announce,” said AT&T spokesperson Mark Siegel. “We’re still testing.”

But that means, yes, AT&T customers are being tagged by AT&T in a way that’s visible to the websites they visit, but AT&T says it’s building in what it considers to be a privacy-protective measure: the unique code for each user will change every 24 hours. Siegel says this is happening now, but Kenneth White, one of the researchers who discovered the tracking, says that is “categorically untrue,” saying he found three identifying codes being sent by AT&T that were persistent.

“AT&T does not currently have a mobile Relevant Advertising program. We are considering such a program, and any program we would offer would maintain our fundamental commitment to customer privacy,” read a statement from AT&T. “For instance, we are testing a numeric code that changes every 24 hours on mobile devices to use in programs where we serve ads to the mobile device. This daily rotation on the numeric code would help protect the privacy of our customers. Customers also could opt out of any future AT&T program that might use this numeric code.”


AT&T confirms Apple SIM card lock, says customers will need to buy new SIM card to change carriers

Posted by:
Date: Monday, October 27th, 2014, 10:11
Category: Hardware, iPad, News, wireless


There may be increased competition and good deals to be had in the wireless markets, but the major carriers will still try to lock you in…

Per Re/code, wireless carrier AT&T has apparently taken advantage in the change to the SIM card found in the new iPad, which apparently allows customers to designate which wireless carrier they’d like to use it with, by essentially locking its customers in to the service, requiring the customer to purchase an entirely new SIM card to change their provider.

AT&T spokesman Mark Siegel confirmed to Re/code that customers who use the Apple SIM on AT&T will need another SIM card to switch carriers, but stressed that the device itself remains unlocked.

“With us you can change carriers with this iPad any time you want,” he said. “It is an unlocked device. … All [you] have to do is switch out the SIM in the device so it works on another carrier.”


Samsung announces next-gen 802.11ad Wi-Fi technology, cites speeds five times faster than 802.11ac protocol

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, October 14th, 2014, 11:57
Category: Hardware, News, wireless


As much as you may love your 802.11ac Wi-Fi router, it may not be the fastest thing on the block for long.

Per Macworld, on Sunday, Samsung announced it’s developing new 802.11ad Wi-Fi technology that can boost network speeds fivefold, from today’s 866Mbps per-device maximum to a blistering 4.6Gbps. At that rate, Samsung says, a 1GB movie file can transfer from one device to another in under 3 seconds.

This feat is achieved by ditching the crowded 2.4GHz and 5GHz wireless channels used by today’s routers and jumping to the 60GHz frequency band.


Verizon backs off on controversial data throttling plan set to begin in October

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, October 2nd, 2014, 11:27
Category: News, wireless


A little competition’s a good thing.

According to The Verge, a statement from wireless carrier Verizon stated that the company will not be throttling 4G LTE data speeds for users grandfathered in to unlimited data plans, while at the same time announcing a buffed data plan promotion.

In July, Verizon announced plans to expand its “network optimization” initiative, which amounts to throttling data speeds for subscribers with unlimited data plans when the telco’s 4G LTE network is congested. The enhanced policy was set to go live in October.

Verizon Wireless won’t be throttling the LTE speeds of its remaining unlimited data customers after all. In an eleventh hour reversal, the largest U.S. carrier has just announced that it’s “decided not to move forward with the planned implementation of network optimization for 4G LTE customers on unlimited plans.”


Energous developing wireless Wattup technology, could allow for gadget charging across a room

Posted by:
Date: Friday, May 23rd, 2014, 14:23
Category: Hardware, iPad, iPhone, News, wireless


We’ve all dreamed of charging our devices from across the room.

This may soon be a reality.

Per the MIT Technology Review, startup Energous is developing a technology called WattUp that will allow you to charge smartphones, tablets, and other small gadgets from across a room without wires.

Energous hopes other companies will license this technology and build it into all kinds of products and places, so you can easily power your iPad while sitting on the couch or top off your phone while buying a coffee in an airport. It will face competition, however, from a startup called Witricity that uses a different method, and already has the backing of some major electronics companies.

For now, WattUp’s technology is still in the demo stage. But it works and devices can be charged wirelessly if they are connected to an external receiver, or slotted into a special protective case.

During a recent demonstration, an iPhone was plugged into a white device shaped like a smartphone atop a little stand. Another iPhone sits on the table, wearing a bulky Energous case. Across the table, a briefcase-sized wireless energy transmitter sits on another tripod and a plug dangling from that was plugged into the wall.

The demonstration showed the iPhone’s charge progress, as measured via an app on a nearby iPad, the wireless energy transmitter being controlled via an app on the iPad. A small beep indicated that the iPhone’s charge cycle had begun and recharging works more than 10 feet from where the power is emitted, and you can move the device around while it’s charging.

The most common wireless-charging technology currently available is magnetic induction, which uses coils to transfer power over small distances via a magnetic field. This is the method used to recharge electric toothbrushes, for example.

Energous’s charging method uses a transmitter with lots of small antennas to send radio waves to a receiver connected to the gadget being charged. The transmitter uses Bluetooth to scan for nearby gadgets that are authorized to receive a charge. Once it finds one, the transmitter directs radio waves toward the receiver, which collects them and converts their energy to DC power so it can charge the phone.

The transmitter and receivers Energous brings to my office can send power to two devices that require less than 10 watts of power at a distance of up to 15 feet; eventually, Energous says, it will be able to charge more gadgets at a time.

The company expects the first products using its technology—such as smartphone cases that can deliver wireless power to the devices—to be shown off by partner companies at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas next January and go on sale later in the year. Company representatives had predicted that a phone case would cost about US$75 to US$125, which is within the range of what you’d pay today for a case that provides extended battery life, though the transmitter for charging things probably would cost around US$300.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

What can we expect from a new Apple TV?

Posted by:
Date: Friday, February 14th, 2014, 08:26
Category: Apple, Apple TV, Rumor, Television, wireless

appletv_2ndgenAs we reported last month, speculation on the next revision of the Apple TV has begun. Now the Apple TV is back in the news with some speculation more focused on what kind of content Apple might be bringing along with the new hardware. The discussion has popped up smack in the middle of Comcast’s intention to buy up Time Warner Cable, which may be playing a part in how Apple moves forward with its plans for the Apple TV. It has been reported that Apple has been in negotiations with several content providers to serve up their programming directly to Apple TV users, but the media companies keep pulling out of talks fearing a loss of revenue. This leaves Apple with no choice but to deal with the cable companies for content.


Apple TV finally gets some respect

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, January 29th, 2014, 03:06
Category: Accessory, Apple, Apple TV, Rumor, Television, wireless

appletv_2ndgenDidn’t I just call Apple out on this? Congratulations Apple TV, you’ve hung in there and now made it to the big times! Early Tuesday, Apple’s online store went offline for some updates and when it came back, the Apple TV finally had its own section to call home. Rather than being relegated to the Accessories section of the Apple Store, now it’s listed alongside the sections for Mac, iPhone, iPad, and iPod and even has its own accessory section that lists some products for the Apple TV that I had never seen before. It appears that the Airport Extreme and Airport Express have found a home here as well. In addition, you now have the option to buy refurbished Apple TVs at $25 less than standard retail.


AT&T’s Chris Penrose unveils $5/day “data day pass” for cellular-equipped tablets

Posted by:
Date: Saturday, October 19th, 2013, 23:18
Category: iPad, News, wireless


This could come in handy.

Per AllThingsD, speaking at GigaOm’s Mobilize conference Thursday afternoon, AT&T vice president Chris Penrose told the audience that the lowest US$5, 250 megabyte day pass option, alongside a tier that allots users up to 1 gigabyte of data over a three month period for a one-time US$25 fee, is aimed at those who would normally rely on hotel Wi-Fi on the road.

Penrose expressed the company’s desire to connect more tablets to its network, saying “We really think that a Wi-Fi only tablet is good, but it is not good enough.” He added that AT&T would “like to see tablet manufacturers build just one tablet,” a single model equipped with a cellular radio. Currently, many manufacturers like Apple offer two tablet versions — cellular-capable and Wi-Fi only — to reduce costs for those who don’t plan on connecting to a 3G or 4G network.

To sign up for the new plans, users with cellular-capable tablets simply access buyasession.att.com through their device’s web browser and complete the four-step purchase process from there. An AT&T SIM card is required.

When Apple released the original iPad in 2010, users could purchase a US$29.99-per-month unlimited data plan directly from the tablet’s Settings app on a month-to-month basis using a credit card. The option remains, though the cost and data allotment varies by carrier, and some will charge only a prorated portion of the fee for users who only subscribe for a limited number of days in a given month.

If you’ve tried AT&T’s newest tier and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.