Carriers Track Users with “Supercookies”

Verizon and AT&T, the largest wireless carriers in the US, are using “supercookies” to track users, but they could be a boon to advertisers, hackers, says C/Net.

Cookies can be used to remember the information about the user who has visited a website in order to show relevant content in the future. Many websites use cookies for personalization based on users’ preferences. They’re commonly used on desktop browsers, but mobile phones and tablets generally have not used them.

“You’re making it very difficult for people who want privacy to find it on the Internet,” Paul Ohm, a senior policy adviser to the Federal Trade Commission and associate professor at the Colorado Law School, told The Washington Post, which reported the tracking programs last week.

Verizon’s solution is called the PrecisionID. When consumers visit certain websites or mobile apps, a request is sent through a Verizon network. Precision ID packages the request, as a hashed, aggregated and anonymous unique identifier, then turns it into a lucrative chunk of data for advertisers.

According to eMarketer, U.S. adults now spend nearly 24% of their media consumption time with smartphones and tablets, but marketers only spend an average of around 10% of their ad budgets targeting those devices.

Marketers say that’s largely because of technical limitations related to targeting and measuring ads on phones and tablets using “cookies.” The problem is, cookies don’t work well on smartphones and tablets, and that makes it difficult for marketers to understand who their ads are reaching, and the effect they’re having on consumers.

Facebook, the No. 2 digital advertising platform in the world, analysis the data on its 1.3 billion users to sell individually targeted ads. Facebook’s rebuilt ad platform called Atlas (product tour) will allow marketers to tap its detailed knowledge of its users to direct ads to those people on thousands of other websites and mobile apps, while online ad giant Google is evaluating non-desktop alternatives to cookies as well.

The potential legal issues, experts say, stem in part from the Communications Act, which prohibits carriers from revealing identifying information about their customers or helping others to do so. That is at the heart of complaints by the EFF, which is contemplating a lawsuit or other action to stop Verizon, said one of the group’s lawyers, Nate Cardozo.

Amazon: $115 in Paid Apps Free this Halloween

Amazon is promoting some $115 in paid apps this Halloween for Android devices at the Amazon Appstore. You’ll first need to install Amazon’s Appstore Android app. The offer is good through November 1.

Here are some of the highlights, including their usual price:

You’ll first need to install Amazon’s Appstore Android app on your Android device, however. The offer is good through November 1.

Greenbot also has roundup of the best Halloween apps and spooky games from Humble Bundle.

Apple SIM: Sidestepping Carriers?

AT&T Mobility, Sprint, T-Mobile US and UK operator EE support a new SIM card for Apple’s iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 that lets customers switch between carriers. With an unlocked phone or tablet you can change your service provider by changing the SIM card, but with Apple’s new SIM card, you won’t need to buy a second (or third) SIM card.

Apple’s SIM card enables customers to easily switch service to a different carrier. As GigaOM notes, it’s unclear how the provisioning process will work if customers want to switch between carriers. While Verizon Wireless will provide wireless service for Apple’s new tablet, it is not listed as a supporter of the new Apple SIM card, notes Fierce Wireless.

The new Apple SIM is preinstalled on iPad Air 2 with Wi-Fi + Cellular models,” Apple explains. “The Apple SIM gives you the flexibility to choose from a variety of short-term plans from select carriers in the U.S. and UK right on your iPad. So whenever you need it, you can choose the plan that works best for you–with no long-term commitments. And when you travel, you may also be able to choose a data plan from a local carrier for the duration of your trip.”

The Subscriber Identity Module stores your International Mobile Subscriber Identity number (IMSI), which is a unique serial number (ICCID), along with security and network data, your PIN, and a personal unblocking code. The SIM allows you to connect to the network and identifies you.

The International Mobile Station Equipment Identity (IMEI) number is on the phone itself. It identifies the device. The IMEI number is like a VIN number on a vehicle and can be used for “blacklisting” the phone, stopping a stolen phone from accessing the network.

[The Stingray is a brand name of an IMSI/ESN catcher sold to law enforcement. Burner phones (prepaid phones) aren’t untraceable but don’t require the user’s personal data at the point of sale or by the service provider. The Gossamer is a small portable device that tricks phones into handing over their IMSI, Temporary Mobile Subscriber Identity and device data. The NSA often locates drone targets by analyzing the activity of a SIM card, rather than the actual content of the calls, according to Glenn Greenwald. Makes you wonder if (or how many) people have been killed because they picked up a discarded phone that was interrogated by an IMSI Catcher on a Drone. ]

It’s easy to see how a SIM that supports multiple carriers simultaneously could disrupt the mobile industry, says Dan Frommer.

“Imagine booting up your iPhone for the first time and seeing four competing offers for your business from different operators—with short or no contract duration.”

Apple’s new tablets are thinner, faster and golder.

The Pad Air 2 delivers faster connectivity with 802.11ac Wi-Fi with Multiple-In-Multiple-Out (MIMO) at data rates up to 866 Mbps. iPad Air 2 with Wi-Fi + Cellular integrates even more LTE bands and comes with expanded LTE for up to 50 percent faster cellular connections, plus support for Dual Carrier HSDPA (for carrier aggregation in the downlink) and HSDPA+ (with MIMO).

The iPad Air 2 has full support of most LTE bands.

But Apple’s iPad Mini 3 page shows only support for LTE bands 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 13, 17, 18, 19, 20, 25, and 26, but not Sprint’s band 41.

The new iPad mini 3 is powered by the Apple-designed A7 chip and M7 motion processor compared to the newer A8X and M8 chips incorporated into the iPad Air 2 as well as a similar A8 chip in the iPhone 6 and 6+ which support Band 41 (2.5 GHz) for LTE on Sprint, as well as China and elsewhere.

Clearly, if Apple hopes to move many iPad minis in the Chinese market, they will need Band 41 support (and perhaps an A8X chip). Apple launched its latest iPhone 6 in China today. According to China Mobile, subscriptions reached 799.13 million, compared to 755.19 million a year ago. That included 244.5 million users of 3G services, and 40.95 million largely on their new TD-LTE network using band 41.

The Nexus 6, by contrast, supports virtually all LTE bands world-wide as well as all three commercially used US 700MHz bands (bands 12, 13, and 17), making the Nexus 6 the very first device to be fully interoperable on the 700MHz band, completely eliminating the interoperability problem with this phone. Sprint plans to support 700 MHz Band 12, and expand its LTE network partnerships to new locations, making it comparable in size and coverage to AT&T and Verizon’s LTE networks.

T-Mobile has a similar strategy with roaming partnerships. T-Mobile is expanding LTE deployments in 700 MHz A Block as well as the 1900 MHz PCS spectrum and its AWS LTE spectrum.

Verizon and AT&T both told the FCC that compliance with the lower “A Block”, which smaller carriers use in the United States, would not be practical or cost/effectice. Guess that problem was solved when Dish lowered their potential power on the single channel “E Block”. Perhaps adding FirstNet compliance (on Band 14) may also be comparitively easy. Of course they’d have to deal with Motorola Solutions, the part of Motorola not sold to Lenovo.

Motorola Mobility consists of the Mobile Devices business which produces smartphones and the Home business which produces set-top boxes and cable modems. Google sold most of Motorola Mobility to Lenovo for $2.91 billion.

New iPads Leaked

Apple appears to have accidentally spilled the beans about the iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3, notes Engadget, which are expected to be announced tomorrow.

Cupertino’s tablets will apparently be getting Touch ID and burst shooting mode, which will be coming to the iPad Air 2, but not the mini 3, according to the document released by Mac 9to5. Besides the tweaked designs and Touch ID sensors, a gold color option, and a stronger A8X processor, improved camera optics, and new software can be expected at least on the new Air.

C/Net, ,9 to 5 Mac, Engadget and Twit.tv will have live coverage from Apple starting tomorrow at 10 am.

Google Announces Nexus 6, Nexus 9 and Nexus Player

Google Android 5.0 is ready to go. The next version of Android is called Lollipop (Android 5.0), and today Google announced the first products that will ship with the new software.

The Google Nexus 6, Nexus 9, and Nexus Player will all run Android 5.0 Lollipop when they hit the streets in November. An Android 5.0 SDK launches on October 17th. And in the coming weeks Google will roll out Android 5.0 software updates to some recent Nexus and Google Play Edition phones and tablets.

  • The Nexus 6 is the biggest Nexus phone that Google has released, with a 6-inch display — bigger than both the iPhone 6 Plus and Galaxy Note 4. Like the Note 4, Google’s Nexus 6 also uses a Quad HD display and has a Snapdragon 805 processor, a 13-megapixel rear camera, a 2-megapixel front camera, a 3220 mAh battery, and two front-facing speakers.

    The Nexus 6 will be sold unlocked for $649, making it far more expensive than any other Nexus model to date. It comes running Android 5.0 Lollipop and can include either 32 or 64GB of internal storage in either blue or white. The Nexus 6 will be available to preorder on October 29th and available in stores beginning in November. You’ll also be able to buy it on monthly contract. The unlocked model will work on all four major US carriers.

  • The Nexus 9 features an 8.9-inch QVGA (2048×1536) display with a ratio of 4:3 as opposed to 16:9, and Nvidia’s Tegra K1 chipset. The device also features 2GB of RAM and, on average, around 9 hours of battery life. HTC has HTC’s BoomSound speaker technology.

    Nexus 9 will be available to preorder beginning October 17th for $399 and comes in three configurations: 16GB for $399, 32GB for $479, and an LTE-enabled 32GB model for $599. Sadly, you can’t expand that storage through microSD. It’s available in either black or white. A keyboard attachment can “magnetically attach. Nexus 9 will be available for pre-order in the Google Play store beginning October 17, and will show up in stores on November 3.

  • The Nexus Player is Google’s first Android TV device. The set-top streaming box is made by Google and Asus and is Google’s latest in a very long line of attempts to take over your TV. Announced back in June, Android TV has a good-looking interface that allows you to stream music, movies, and TV shows. You can also play Android games on it, and it can mimic the Chromecast’s features too. Inside there’s a 1.8GHz Intel Atom CPU and a PowerVR GPU, with 1GB of RAM and 8GB of storage. It’ll be available for pre-order on Oct. 17 and in stores starting November 3, priced $99.
  • The Nexus 5 is still available, same as usual but with the same price (starting at $350). It will likely be upgraded to Android 5.0 in the next few weeks.

Lollipop will be made available to the Nexus 5, 7, 10, and Google Play edition devices in the coming weeks. Motorola also said it will update many of its devices to Android 5.0 Lollipop, including the Moto X (1st Gen and 2nd Gen), Moto G, Moto E, as well as the Droid Ultra, Droid Maxx, and Droid Mini. Phone Arena has an in-depth specs comparison between the Nexus 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.

Lollipop has a consistent design across devices—an approach they call Material Design. Now content responds to your touch and voice, in more intuitive ways, and transitions between tasks are more fluidly. Lollipop also lets you adjust your settings so that only certain people and notifications can get through.

According to the latest figures from App Annie’s quarterly market reports, Google Play downloads now exceed Apple’s App Store by 60 percent, but iOS apps still make more money

New Macs Oct 16, 2014

Apple has just announced a keynote address for Thursday, October 16th on its Infinite Loop Campus in Cupertino, California, reports 9 to 5 Mac. Apple is expected to announce updates to its iPad and Mac lines.

The new iPad Air will be slightly thinner, but come with a more efficient (and slightly snappier) A8 processor, new M8 chip from the iPhone 6, Touch ID, enhanced camera features, an improved screen design. It’s likely that the new Mini will pick up some (if not all) of the Air’s new features.

On the Mac side, Apple has been racing to finish up the redesigned OS X Yosemite alongside new laptops and desktops with higher-resolution screens. Yosemite will likely be released for free on the Mac App Store on the day of the event, following patterns of previous years. A new iMac and a 12-inch MacBook with Retina displays are rumoured. The Mac mini may also be updated next week.