Category Archives: Smart Phones

Telecom: There’s no killer app for 5G

5G, where it exists, increases network capacity and might deliver a few things faster but other than that, the “killer app” is missing for now:

there’s no “killer app” for 5G right now. And I don’t know what it’s going to be

Source: Is 5G really that fast?

More likely, what 5G delivers is a new competitor for home-based fast Internet service. There will also be some applications involving “Internet of Things” sensors that are logging data.

And for sure, there will be many applications that involve increased surveillance of your life, your neighbors, and so on.

Apple disables battery percent remaining if you replace battery outside of Apple’s authorized service centers

While the Service message is on, users won’t be able to get important battery information, including the battery percentage left and whether their battery is healthy or needs to be replaced.

Source: Apple Hobbles iPhones With Batteries Replaced Outside Authorized Repair Shops | Fortune

Apple makes your iPhone run worse, even if you replace your iPhone battery with an actual Apple iPhone battery.

I will not be buying an iPhone. Previously, I had an iPad 2 that was de facto killed by an Apple OS upgrade; this happened to numerous iPad 2 owners. As best I can tell, the Apple OS update used significantly more RAM than the prior version, causing the iPad 2 to become unusable – literally taking a second or more to process each touch keypad press, for example. Apple killed off their iPad 2 products to force upgrades. Apple also prohibits downgrading to a previous OS update – thus permanently damaging your product.

Not long ago, Apple was caught slowing iPhone processing speeds as batteries aged – Apple claimed it did this to extend the usefulness of the iPhone (but did not tell users they needed to buy a new battery). Many people noticed the slow downs occurred around new iPhone product announcements and suggested this was used to encourage, if not force, users to upgrade to a newer iPhone.

I also had a Macbook that was just 3 1/2 years old when Apple announced it was discontinuing support. This meant that new OS updates could not be installed, which quickly led to app software no longer being update-able. In short order, items like web browsers could no longer be updated to work with contemporary cloud services – simply because third parties would not support slightly older OSes.

When Apple evolved its Macbook line to eliminate Firewire ports, Steve Jobs famously said, “Just buy a new video camera” because, you know, everyone could afford to do that. HDV format video cameras used Firewire interfaces to offload video to computers, a technology once promoted by Apple. (Apple did, much later, add the Thunderbolt interface and sold a Firewire adapter.)

On the software side, Apple killed off its Final Cut Pro product and replaced it with the incompatible Final Cut X product. People with productions in progress – or who had a need to go back to old projects – were told to take a hike.

For a while, Apple killed the use of Java completely. Some of us relied on the use of Java for cloud-based applications for banking and financial service organizations, and to access government databases. Lacking Java support for critical needs, we had to switch to Windows-based PCs.

I do not understand the Apple fanaticism when Apple has a long reputation of treating its own customers rudely.

I will keep my two Apple products running as long as I can but I have no plans to replace them due to Apple’s repeatedly treating us like crap, rather than valued customers.

#Google #Pixel Pixel 2 phone battery drain problem after #Android 9 Pie update #Android9

As widely reported, Google’s Android 9 Pie update to their Pixel phones killed battery life on the phones. This affects both Pixel and Pixel 2 phones.

A typical scenario is the phone loses up to 50% of its battery capacity in 5-8 hours, even when the phone is hardly used at all.

I found that if I turn off Wi-Fi, then battery life is back to normal. That is, in the same scenario, the battery has lost just 7% of its capacity with 93% battery capacity remaining.

Source: [Updated] Massive battery drain on Pixel/Pixel 2 after Android 9 Pie, users say – PiunikaWeb

Google was made aware of the problem at least by the end of August as shown on their Issue Tracker, but no word yet on any fix to this serious Android defect.


How your phone is used to track you as you move through a store

Ultrasound “beacons” are set up in various locations such as within stores. Apps that run on smart phones are constantly listening for ultrasound beacons (which are emitted above the audible range so we cannot hear them). Each beacon can encode a unique ID to be used to determine proximity to a specific location.

In some cases, ultrasound or other types of audible signals can be embedded in television or audio programming and apps can detect what you are listening to.

Two studies have examined the deployment and implications of ultrasonic beacons. Arp et al. measured the prevalence of ultrasonic beacons in the wild, and found them deployed on websites and in stores. Furthermore,they found 234 apps in the Google Play Store that were constantly, passively monitoring for these beacons, in order to track users’ online and offline browsing behaviors [28]. Mavroudis et al. consider various attacks against users that leverage ultrasonic beacons, including de-anonymizing Tor users [59].

Source (academic paper): Panoptisypy: Characterizing Audio and Video Exfiltration from Android Applications

Numerous apps are using access to the array of environmental sensors (including cameras, microphones and more) to assess the environment in which the phone is being carried.

HP computers and data privacy and spying

I have an older HP desktop computer. I’ve long observed significant slow downs as various background tasks were underway and I had assumed it was just anti-virus software running in the background. But it was not – instead, the HP Support Assistance was frequently scanning the entire system, using 55% of the CPU and hogging the disk input/output, tremendously slowing down the system. I finally disabled the HP software as I had never seen any value from it.

Then I went to read the HP Privacy policy (which may be different today from what it was when I bought the computer years ago).

(Click on any image to read the full size screen capture of the HP privacy policy).

In addition to the data collected by HP, HP also “deduces” attributes about you, and collects data when you use social media logins to access anything. This means when you log in to a site using your Facebook login, data about your visit is collected by Facebook and shared with Facebook’s partners (which is literally the entire world).

HP remotely spies on your use of HP printers, collecting a database of pages printed, type of print media used, what ink you are using, including what brand of ink, and the names of the applications from which you print.

HP also purchases information from third party data services, social media networks and advertising networks. Ad networks are used to track every web site you visit online. HP uses this, as they disclose, to get your name, address, “preferences, interests and certain demographic data”. Clearly, HP is buying data about us from Facebook, Google and Twitter.

This example illustrates the pervasive – and nasty – web of anti-privacy efforts underway by the high tech industry. The entire industry works together to intensely monitor, intercept and collect enormous quantities of data about every one of us. Further, they use automated software systems to analyze and interpret this data to then draw inferences about us.

A previous post on my blog found that inferences made by Facebook and Twitter were completely wrong – but there is no way to correct that. In most cases there is no way to know what inferences companies like HP have made about us.)

What Can You Do?

  • Delete the HP support assistant. I have found no value from having run it on this computer for many years. Optionally, disable it in the Windows Task Scheduler so it does not run.
  • Delete or disable other software that you do not need or us.
  • Do not use social media logins to web sites other than the social media web site.
  • Use privacy enhanced browsing to minimize tracking across the web. First, never use Chrome. Google logs every web site you visit. Use the Epic Privacy Browser or use Mozilla Firefox with the Privacy Badger and Ghostery plug ins. Use the Cookie-AutoDelete plugin to automatically remove tracking cookies when leaving a web site (you can optionally “white list” web sites so that cookies and logins remain active, if you wish).
  • The Epic Privacy Browser includes access to a proxy server to hide your IP address from web sites.
  • When using mobile phones, note that operating systems such as Android always track your location if Location Services is enabled (such as using mapping). Most people leave Location Services on all the time, and Google uses that to build a database of everywhere you travel and every place you visit. Google also records information about WiFi networks and Bluetooth devices within range of your phone. Even when location services is turned off, WiFi access points and even some Bluetooth devices can reveal your location anyway. Disabling WiFi and Bluetooth will reduce this data collection.

The tech industry has been operating in a free wheeling, Orwellian 1984 world of intense spying on everyone who uses online services including web sites, monitoring our email communications, our social media Likes, every where we travel, and even monitoring our use of home printers.

Automobiles are also now collecting information about our use of the vehicles, including our driving habits and locations visited.

They argue that if we don’t like this, then we should not use online services or we should not use printers or we should not drive a car. These arguments are wholly unrealistic.

Yet most people seem oblivious to this: Facebook has been widely exposed as a massive global surveillance network and propaganda platform – yet financial analysts say they see little harm to Facebook’s business as few seem to care.

Private Prison Phone Company tracking location of all cell phone users, nationwide

They collect cell phone location data collected by all major cellular phone carriers, and then sell that location data to law enforcement agencies (no warrant needed). The data is used to conduct surveillance on potentially everyone in the U.S. who has a cellular phone.

Source: Senator Wyden Demands Answers from Prison Phone Service Caught Sharing Cellphone Location Data | Electronic Frontier Foundation

When the FCC mandated “wireless 911” technology so that phones would be required to report their position to 911 operators, I predicted this would be used for surveillance purposes and was, in fact, the primary goal.

Verizon to give 4G cellular priority to public safety communications

Verizon’s public safety private core will be generally available on March 29. Public safety customers get preemption and mobile broadband priority service at no additional charge.

Source: Verizon unveils public safety private core | About Verizon

Phone users designated as “public safety” will receive priority and will pre-empt other users for data including smartphones, tablets, video surveillance, and mobile data applications.

Verizon, AT&T said to deny sales of Huawei cell phones

Allegedly, both AT&T and Verizon have denied Huawei the opportunity to sell their Honor brand cell phones in their U.S. stores – ostensibly under orders of the U.S. government over security issues regarding China. It sounds, though, that it might actually be about Huawei not cooperating with the U.S. government to spy using Huawei technology vis a vis this item:

The US government was apparently able to negotiate these agreements even with foreign entities by leveraging existing legal regulations. In some cases, officials held up proposed business dealings using the Federal Communications Commission’s oversight of telecommunications. According to the Post, this helped government lawyers in persuading foreign companies to allow the US to maintain such extensive access. It’s unclear just how many companies the US has made these deals with, and for now, the extent of the federal government’s access remains classified.

Huawei also makes Internet switches and is a big competitor to Cisco – in other words, Huawei makes Internet backbone gear.

Source: Major internet backbones required to give US government quick access to data – The Verge

It is clear, at this point, that the U.S. government has the means to spy on everyone, 24 x 7, if they wish. Nothing we do online is secure. Period.