Telephone timeline

How we stopped communicating like animals: 15 ways phones have evolved

By on December 13, 2013 at 12:35 PM.

How we stopped communicating like animals: 15 ways phones have evolved

Telephones have changed dramatically since Alexander Graham Bell spoke the first words into a telephone on March 10, 1876. Overall, they’ve improved since then, but the road wasn’t always smooth. Here’s a look back at the most important advances in telephone technology and some of the worst. More →

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New survey details the ways your cell phone service sucks

By on August 3, 2012 at 4:05 PM.

New survey details the ways your cell phone service sucks

Cell Phone User Survey

Pew surveyed nearly 2,000 cell phone users about their biggest gripes and their top answers were hardly surprising: Dropped calls and slow data. Overall, Pew found that 72% of users experienced dropped calls at least once in a while and that 77% of users said they had experienced slow data speeds at least every now and then. Other top complaints included receiving spam texts (69% of all text messaging users) and receiving unwanted telemarketing calls at least once (68% of all cell phone users). The survey also showed that smartphone owners were marginally more likely than standard cell phone users to experience dropped calls and slow data speeds, and to receive unwanted calls or texts. More →

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Largest study yet finds no link between cell phones and cancer

By on October 21, 2011 at 3:20 PM.

Largest study yet finds no link between cell phones and cancer

There is no link between cell phone use and an increase risk in cancer, the largest study on the topic to date has concluded. The results were published on Friday in the medical journal BMJ. Scientists from the Institute of Cancer Epidemiology, Danish Cancer Society and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) studied Danish citizens between 1990 and 2007 and divided them into groups of cell phone users and non-cell phone users. A total of 358,403 cell phone users participated and the results were applied to an earlier study that was completed between 1982 and 1995. Read on for more. More →

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Cell phone radiation could make you sterile according to studies

By on August 18, 2011 at 6:45 PM.

Cell phone radiation could make you sterile according to studies

You may want to put down your cell phone if you’re planning on having kids anytime soon. According to an article in the latest Journal of Andrology, recent reports have suggested there is a “possible link between cell phone use and semen quality.” The author of the article, Dr. Sandro La Vignera from the University of Catania, refers to one 2008 report which studied 361 men in an infertility clinic, which concluded that there was a direct link to the “duration of cellular phone possession” and decreased semen quality. One study performed on rabbits found that those who were exposed to a mobile phone emitting at 800MHz for 8 hours a day over 12 weeks had a decrease in sperm concentration just six weeks into the study. Sperm motility, or how properly a sperm can swim towards can egg, began to falter in the tenth week. Similar results were found in rats and mice, too. Read on for more. More →

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Mobile payments could balloon 76% to $86 billion this year, Gartner says

By on July 23, 2011 at 7:00 AM.

Mobile payments could balloon 76% to $86 billion this year, Gartner says

141.1 million people around the world will make mobile payments this year, a 38.2% increase from last year, Gartner said in a new report issued on Friday. Global mobile payment volume is expected to hit $86.1 billion in 2011, up 75.9% from the $48.9 billion recorded last year. Gartner says mobile payments are not growing as fast as originally projected due to slower than expected uptake in developing countries. In addition, the “complexity of the [NFC]” service model has impeded its ability to takeoff in developed countries. “The biggest hurdle is the need to change user behavior by convincing consumers to pay with mobile phones instead of cash and cards,” Gartner research director Sandy Shen said, noting that mass market adoption of near-field communications (NFC) is at least four years away. Mobile payments will be driven by prepaid top-ups and money transfers, the research firm said. “Thanks to the success of mobile application stores, such as Apple’s App Store, and the efforts in driving mobile sales by major retailers, such as Amazon and eBay, merchandise purchases far outweigh other use cases in developed markets, which include North America and Western Europe,” Shen said. “We predict that in 2011, merchandise purchases will account for 90 percent and 77 percent of all transactions in North America and Western Europe, respectively.” Read on for the full press release. More →

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Cell phone retailers must now warn consumers of radiation risks in SF

By on July 21, 2011 at 7:01 AM.

Cell phone retailers must now warn consumers of radiation risks in SF

The city of San Francisco has approved an ordinance that will require cell phone retailers to warn customers about the dangers of cell phone radiation, the Los Angeles Times reported on Thursday. The ordinance, which was passed in a 10-1 vote, asks that phone retailers “post general warnings” about risks. It’s unclear what exactly will be required of the retailers, and researchers have flip-flopped on whether or not there are any real risks associated with mobile wireless devices. On May 31st, the World Health Organization published a report that said cell phones are “possibly carcinogenic,” but The Economist fired back shortly after and said there’s no way the devices cause cancer. A second group wrote published a separate report in an issue of Environmental Health Perspectives and argued there is evidence “increasingly against the hypothesis that mobile phone use can cause brain tumors in adults.” A similar law was passed last year that required cell phone makers to publish specific absorption rate (SAR) figures on boxes of cell phones, but the CTIA sued before the law took effect.  More →

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Study finds cell phone use increases crash risk

By on July 8, 2011 at 9:22 PM.

Study finds cell phone use increases crash risk

A new research study published by the Governor’s Highway Safety Association (GHSA) suggests that cell phone use directly increases crash risk among U.S. drivers. The group studied 350 scientific papers that were published between 2000 and 2010 on highway safety. Distractions, which include cell phone use, are responsible for between 15% and 25% of all crashes, including minor fender benders all the way up to fatal accidents. The report also said that there is “no conclusive evidence on whether hands-free systems [are] less risky than hand-held use,” and that results of several tests “imply dialing a cell phone increases crash risk more for a short time while a cell phone conversation increases crash risk less for a longer time.” As you might expect, texting is an even larger risk since it requires that a user look at his or her phone for a longer period of time. “Despite all that has been written about driver distraction, there is still a lot that we do not know,” Barbara Harsha, a GHSA executive director. “Clearly, more studies need to be done addressing both the scope of the problem and how to effectively address it.”

More →

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No connection between cancer and cell phones, experts argue

By on July 5, 2011 at 6:00 PM.

No connection between cancer and cell phones, experts argue

In May the World Health Organization published a report that said cell phones are “possibly carcinogenic.” Last month The Economist published a different report suggesting it simply wasn’t possible for the radio waves emitted by a cell phone to cause cells to mutate. Now, another group of research experts from Britain, the United States, and Sweden — who have studied the WHO report — are also arguing that there’s no connection between cell phones and cancer. “Although there remains some uncertainty, the trend in the accumulating evidence is increasingly against the hypothesis that mobile phone use can cause brain tumors in adults,” the group said in a recent report published in Environmental Health Perspectives. According to Reuters, a number of other studies have also been unable to find a link between increases in brain tumors and cell phones in the 10 years since cell phones have become commonplace. “This is a really difficult issue to research,” David Spiegelhalter, the Winton Professor of the Public Understanding of Risk at the University of Cambridge told Reuters. Spiegelhalter was not part of the study but said that it’s “clear that any risk appears to be so small that it is very hard to detect — even in the masses of people now using mobile phones.” More →

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New advancement in nanotechnology could help keep gadgets juiced without wall chargers

By on June 23, 2011 at 8:03 PM.

New advancement in nanotechnology could help keep gadgets juiced without wall chargers

What if you could charge your phone by simply tapping on the touchscreen display — never having to worry about plugging it in — or add more juice to your laptop every time you typed? New developments in piezoelectric technology at the RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia have brought those dreams closer to a reality. Researchers there have been able to create a new thin piezoelectric film that is capable of turning those taps, or “mechanical pressure,” into electricity. “The power of piezoelectrics could be integrated into running shoes to charge mobile phones, enable laptops to be powered through typing or even used to convert blood pressure into a power source for pacemakers – essentially creating an everlasting battery,” lead co-author, Dr. Madhu Bhaskaran, said in the report, which was published in the July issue of Advanced Functional Materials. The technology isn’t quite there yet; Bhaskaran said that the next step will be using the piezoelectric materials to generate enough electricity to actually power our devices, and then building them into “low-cost, compact, structures.” We’re dreaming up super thin devices with minuscule batteries that are always on, but the report didn’t suggest how long it will take for that fiction to become fact. More →

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No way cell phones cause cancer, Economist contends

By on June 15, 2011 at 2:37 PM.

No way cell phones cause cancer, Economist contends

Following a report issued late last month by the World Health Organization suggesting cell phones may be carcinogenic, The Economist has published a response column dismissing the report as overblown. According to the report, low-frequency microwaves such as those emitted by cell phones simply do not have enough power to produce anything but extremely low levels of heat. “No matter how powerful the transmitter, radio waves simply cannot produce ionising radiation,” the column reads. “Only gamma rays, X-rays and extreme ultra-violet waves, which operate in the far (ie, high-frequency) end of the electromagnetic spectrum, along with fission fragments and other particles from within an atom, and cosmic rays (those particles’ equivalents from outer space) are energetic enough to knock electrons off other atoms to break chemical bonds and produce dangerous molecules called free radicals. It is these highly reactive free radicals that damage a person’s DNA, causing mutation, radiation sickness, cancer and death, depending on the dose.” The energy carried by these microwaves, the report contends, is approximately one million times too weak to produce free radicals. More →

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Cell phones are ‘possibly carcinogenic,’ WHO report says

By on May 31, 2011 at 7:00 PM.

Cell phones are ‘possibly carcinogenic,’ WHO report says

According to a new report from the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer, “radio frequency electromagnetic fields” are “possibly carcinogenic to humans based on an increased risk for glioma, a malignant type of brain cancer associated with wireless phone use.” The agency met with with 31 scientists from 14 countries from May 24th through May 31st, 2011 to assess the potential carcinogenic hazards of cell phone usage. The report said that the results were “evaluated as being limited among users of wireless telephones for glioma and acoustic neuroma,” and that it was not relevant to finding conclusions for whether or not cell phones can cause other types of cancers. “Given the potential consequences for public health of this classification and findings, it is important that additional research be conducted into the long-term, heavy use of mobile phones,” IARC Director Chrisopher Wild said. “Pending the availability of such information, it is important to take pragmatic measures to reduce exposure such as hands-free devices or texting.” The full report will be published on July 1 in The Lancet Oncology. More →

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Apple sued again for collecting location data

By on May 12, 2011 at 1:33 PM.

Apple sued again for collecting location data

A lawsuit has been filed against Apple, Pandora, and The Weather Channel in the U.S. District Court of Puerto Rico that alleges Apple “intentionally [intercepts] personally identifying information.” The plaintiff, Lymaris M. Rivera Diaz, is charging Apple with unfair trade practices, abuse and fraud, and he believes that Apple shares the iPhone’s unique ID, as well as personal location information, with third party developers such as The Weather Channel and Pandora. Apple’s vice president of software technology, Bud Tribble, testified before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology, and the Law on Tuesday, and said “Apple does not track users’ locations,” and that the Cupertino-based company has no plans to do so. This is the second lawsuit filed against Apple in regards to the location tracking scandalThe first was filed in Tampa, Florida late last month. More →

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Apple and Google grilled by Senate on collecting location data

By on May 11, 2011 at 9:45 AM.

Apple and Google grilled by Senate on collecting location data

Google and Apple testified before the Senate on Tuesday, where both firms were grilled on collecting location information from mobile phones. During the hearing, Senator Al Franken was particularly vocal on the issue. “My wireless companies, Apple and Google, and my apps, all get my location or something very close to it,” Senator Franken said. “We need to address this issue now, as mobile devices are only going to get more popular.” We covered Apple’s response on Tuesday, during which Apple’s vice president of software technology, Bud Tribble, said that “Apple does not track users’ locations,” and that the firm never plans to do so. However, Franken was also concerned that Apple and Google have done little to police third-party applications that are collecting and transmitting location data, and suggested that both companies require developers to alert users of their specific privacy policies. Trimble said Apple already does this, but it has never tossed an application for violating that rule. Google’s director of public policy, Alan Davidson, said Google would consider adding the option. According to The Wall Street Journal, Jessica Rich, the deputy director of the Federal Trade Commission’s consumer-protection bureau said that, despite both firms saying they don’t collect user data, “there’s a lot [the FTC] can do… to challenge,” those claims. More →

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