Ban focuses on disruptive nature of phone calls rather than technical issues
Not a year after some usage limitations on airplanes were lifted for smartphones and tablets comes news that the United States government is looking to issue a permanent ban on in-flight voice calls. The Department of Transportation (DOT) is reportedly developing a "notice of proposed rulemaking," according to the Wall Street Journal, that could bring an end to cellphone calls onboard planes before they start.
Management company responds to critics
Forest City Commercial Management has reportedly backed away from plans to continue its controversial cellphone tracking program at several malls throughout the US. The company launched the program ahead of the busy Black Friday shopping day, installing antennas within the properties to monitor customer movements between different stores.
Devices protected with propulsion, springs
Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos and vice president Greg Hart have submitted a patent filing for "a system and method for protecting devices from impact damage." The inventors have stepped well beyond simple rubber cases, however, as the filing describes a number of advanced methods, such as airbags, that are designed to actively minimize damage from an accidental slip.
Koyono on Thursday unveiled three new products designed for Mac, iPhone, and iPod users from BlueLounge and Industrialized Nation. The Sanctuary is a dedicated charging station for portable devices, such as the iPod, iPhone, Bluetooth headsets, and cellphones, among others. The Sanctuary supports over 1500 devices, while keeping cables and devices organized. Koyona is selling The Sanctuary for $130, available from its website.
Sprint Instinct vs. iPhone
The iPhone is the target of a new Sprint commercial promoting Samsung's Instinct phone, due to ship in June. The ad pits the two devices in side-by-side competition, as each attempts to find a caller's location. Both are able to reach their end result in roughly the same amount of time, but the Instinct is able to deliver a more precise location, while the iPhone can only narrow positioning down to a few city blocks. The Instinct is also able to present a 3D view of its results.
Plans for a new BlackBerry clamshell phone were confirmed today with photos surfacing of the device. The BlackBerry flip phone is codenamed the Kickstart, according to the BGR report and uses the SureType keyboard. It features an external LCD as well as an internal LCD and also uses the TrackBall for navigation. RIM, which also included a new camera in the device, is expected to release it before the end of the year.
Philips M600 Music Phone
Philips on Friday unveiled its latest cellular phone, the dual-band GSM M600. The M600 is meant to appeal to music fans, as it offers SRS Labs' WOW equalizer technology to enhance sound quality and simulate 3D surround sound in the MP3, WAV and AAC format files it supports. Otherwise, the phone is optimized for music listening with dedicated navigation hotkeys, and an included set of in-ear headphones as well as up to 40 hours of music playback.
Motorola cuts 2600 jobs
Motorola today announced it would terminate an additional 2600 jobs from its workforce, bringing the current total of layoffs to 10,000 since the beginning of 2007. According to The Wall Street Journal, Motorola comes up against increased pressure in the face of declining cellphone sales, of which it recently lost its coveted second tier position in worldwide handset share to Samsung, a move that caused Motorola's sales to fall 38 percent in year-over-year quarterly profits.
Cell carriers vs. FCC
Cellular carriers are working hard to combat a new FCC regulation that would force all cellphone service providers with half a million subscribers or more to install 8-hour backup systems at almost every cell transmitter site across the U.S. The rule, which the FCC drafted after Hurricane Katrina knocked out hundreds of cell towers and sites along the Gulf Coast in 2005, is designed to strengthen the nation's communication system to help save lives during future disasters. Wireless carriers argue that the regulation was illegally drafted and that it would impose a huge economic and bureaucratic burden, according to the Associated Press.
Two new iPhone unlocks?
Two new apparent unlocking solutions for Apple's iPhone firmware v1.1.2 have surfaced, allowing owners of the cellular handset to sign up for wireless service with carriers other than Apple's exclusive partners. The new techniques, dubbed SonicSIM and StealthSIM, both claim to unlock iPhone v1.1.2 for use with all wireless carriers that use the same technology as Apple's cellphone. SonicSIM is a special card rumored to partially unlock the iPhone by tricking the device and dual booting operating systems, while StealthSIM is a similar card produced by a company hoping to sell the solution for $90 on eBay.
HTC Libra at Verizon
HTC's Libra smartphone, already in service with various regional carriers, is at last reaching the national level through Verizon, a leak suggests. There the phone will most likely be known under its other name, the XV5800, and support broadband via EVDO Rev. A. Little other information is available, but it should have a 400MHz processor, and approximately 162MB of internal storage. The Libra's key feature is its slide-out QWERTY keyboard, which has larger-than-average buttons that make for easier typing. [via Engadget]
HTC Clio passes FCC
The FCC has just given its seal of approval to a previously unknown HTC device, simply called the Clio. The unit supports GSM, EDGE and HSDPA, and most critically, can operate on the 850 and 1,900MHz bands used by AT&T's 3G network. Other connectivity options should include Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 2.0, while the presence of two cameras implies that one is meant for videocalls.
The positioning of the FCC label in the Clio's schematics, meanwhile, has unusual significance; it indicates that the device is longer horizontally than it is vertically, which in turn implies that it is most likely a smartphone with a QWERTY keyboard. This could make it an import of the Athena, or else the final incarnation of the Omni, which has languished in development if it has ever had factual basis. HTC has, in the meantime, asked the FCC to withhold photos of the Clio. [via Wirelessinfo]
Cell use at 50 percent
The number of global cellular subscriptions is now equivalent to half the planet's total population, says the research company Informa. A new analysis claims that subcriptions have surpassed the 3.3 billion mark, a staggering achievement for any electronics product. Growth is so fast, cellphones are already ingrained with otherwise impoverished countries such as China and India, with some tentative steps being made into Africa. National economies have in some cases benefitted greatly: much of Finland's financial health is dependent on Nokia, and among South Korea's corporate giants are Samsung and LG.