In a letter to the U.S. Department of Justice and Federal Communications Commission, Microsoft and other companies expressed their support for AT&T’s proposed $39 billion acquisition of T-Mobile USA. “Many policy-related efforts will not be able to quickly address near-term capacity needs,” the letter stated. “The FCC must seriously weigh the benefits of this merger and approve it.” Other big names, such as Facebook, Research in Motion, Oracle and Yahoo!, have also voiced support for the merger, while Sprint has been the most outspoken opponent of the deal, which would make it the smallest major carrier in the U.S. behind AT&T and Verizon Wireless. The FCC and DOJ are in the midst of a thorough review process that promises to scrutinize every aspect of the proposed merger. More →
Earlier this week we reported that a firm named Lodsys had started to send out letters to Apple developers claiming that they were infringing on a Lodsys patent related to in-app purchases. Apple stepped in and claimed that, since it licenses Lodsys’ products and services, its developers were also entitled to use the technology. Now it appears that Lodsys is also going after Android developers for the same reason. “We recently implemented in-app purchases for our Android application and several weeks later we received a letter from Lodsys, claiming that we infringed on their patents,” one programmer said in a Google forum. It is unclear how many Android developers have been contacted, and Google’s Android team has yet to respond, but we hope the search giant backs its developers the same way that Apple did. More →
Mac users have recently been targeted by a phishing scam that falsely claimed their computers were infected with a virus. Upon being redirected to an illegitimate website, users were instructed to install “Mac Defender,” which was malware masquerading as an antivirus application. Until recently, Apple had reportedly instructed its AppleCare support reps to deny any existence of the problem and said reps should “not remove or uninstall any malware” found on a computer. On Tuesday, however, Apple finally acknowledged the issue and posted instructions on its support forums that cover how to avoid and remove the Mac Defender malware. Hit the jump for Apple’s instructions. More →
AppleCare representatives can do a lot of things for Mac owners suffering software issues… except when it comes to malware. In an internal support article leaked to ZDNet, Apple instructs its call center representatives on how to handle calls from users reporting that they have a machine infected with the “Mac Defender” malware trojan. And, as you can see, Apple is definitely taking the hands-off approach. “AppleCare does not provide support for the removal of the malware,” reads the memo. “You should not confirm or deny whether the customer’s Mac is infected or not.” Apple certainly isn’t the first company to instruct its support representatives to shy away from virus/malware assistance, but it is notable as it is the first major Mac OS X virus that — thanks to some moderate social engineering — is propagating. Apple has yet to issue a public statement about the software’s existence or infection levels. The full memo is after the break. More →
Research In Motion’s BlackBerry PlayBook launched in U.S. and Canadian markets earlier today, and that is good news for RIM enthusiasts… that is unless you have AT&T. As many of you know, the PlayBook uses a small piece of software called BlackBerry Bridge to acquire cellular connectivity and provide messaging and other crucial PIM functionality — by transferring calendar, email, and contact data between a BlackBerry smartphone and the new tablet. So what’s the problem? It’s not officially supported by AT&T. On RIM’s official BlackBerry App World page, BlackBerry Bridge is listed with the following support status:
“Supported Carriers — All carriers except: AT&T”
Determined users have found unofficial ways to load the Bridge application onto AT&T BlackBerry smartphones, but the fact that RIM’s highly anticipated tablet offering is not yet officially supported by a major U.S. carrier is very disappointing. An AT&T spokesperson provided the following comment: “AT&T is working with RIM to make the BlackBerry Bridge app available for AT&T customers. We have just received the app for testing and before it’s made available to AT&T customers we want to ensure it delivers a quality experience for our customers.”
Via a press release today, AT&T announced a new, comprehensive insurance offering dubbed Mobile Protection Pack. As the company explains, the new offering is a combination of three services: mobile insurance, enhanced support, and mobile locate. Mobile Protection, which will retail for $9.99 per month, covers subscribers against equipment loss, theft, accidental damage, liquid damage, and out-of-warranty malfunction. It also provides users with the ability to locate, lock, and trigger an alarm on a misplaced phone — and includes a handful of setup services. The complete list of covered devices can be found here, and includes the Samsung Galaxy Tab and Motorola Atrix 4G. Users looking to replace a damaged or lost device will have to pay a $50 or $125 deductible and, like all AT&T insurance offerings, Apple’s iPad and iPhone are not eligible. Hit the jump for the full press release.
In a purported email from Apple CEO Steve Jobs to employees, Jobs sympathizes with staff who have loved ones affected by the current nuclear crisis taking place in Japan. The email, which was published Wednesday on Japanese tech site Chihouban.com, offers support to Apple employees who need it. “Our hearts go out to you and your families, as well as all of your countrymen who have been touched by this tragedy,” Jobs writes. “If you need time or resources to visit or care for your families, please see HR and we will help you. If you are aware of any supplies that are needed, please also tell HR and we will do what we can to arrange delivery.” Hit the jump for Jobs’ full letter to Apple employees. More →
One of our sources has just let us know something pretty interesting. There has been a lot of talk surrounding Apple’s personal hotspot feature, specifically it’s capability of only supporting 3 wireless connections (as opposed to 5 like many other devices). Well, we have been told it’s all left to the carrier to decide. If a carrier requests it, five devices will be supported, but by default, it’s three.
Oh, and we’ve also been told iOS 4.3 will be available for download publicly at 10AM PT today. Fire up iTunes and get your update trigger-finger ready!
To Apple’s credit: it has consistently said that its Personal Hotspot feature would “support five connections.” It did this without ever actually specifying what type of connections those were. According to support documentation on the iPhone maker’s website, those utilizing the Personal Hotspot feature in iOS 4.3 will be allowed to share their phone’s internet connection with up to five devices, however, only three of them can be over Wi-Fi. Yes, it seems the other two connections will have to be made using Bluetooth and USB respectively. Most of the tech world assumed — present company included — that the five connected devices in question would all be suckling from the iPhone’s data connection via Wi-Fi. Which is, obviously, not the case. We can’t say we remember the last time (if there ever was a time) that we had five devices connected to a cellular hotspot device, but that’s just us. Is this a deal breaker for anyone? More →
Among the more aggravating predicaments gadget fans often find themselves in are the scenarios where devices break or accounts get over-billed and phone calls to customer service must be made. The only sure way to make these situations even more aggravating, of course, is to navigate through a maze of key-presses and then sit on hold for 13 minutes before a call is finally connected. Thankfully, services like FastCustomer look to ease the tension a bit by waiting on hold in place of the user and then and connecting the call only once an operator has picked up the phone. Companies like Fonolo have been trying to tackle the same problem for quite some time, but no other service offers the simple UI and the smooth user experience FastCustomer affords — input the name of the company you want to reach, key in your phone number, then sit back while the magic happens. FastCustomer’s Web-based service is completely free for the time being, and it has an app in Apple’s App Store for $0.99. The company is also looking to connect with an Android developer to build a Google-friendly app, but no word on a time line. Hit the break for a video explaining how FastCustomer works. More →
While speaking with blog Phone Scoop, AT&T spokesperson Seth Bloom acknowledged his company’s plans to support the mobile hotspot feature available in iOS 4.3. “To utilize this feature, customers will need to subscribe to the DataPro 4GB, $45 tethering data plan,” said Bloom. The $45, DataPro plan is currently required by iPhone customers looking to tether their device via USB or Bluetooth. Apple will make iOS 4.3 available to the public on March 11th. Bloom did not indicate whether the feature would be supported then, on day-one, but we can’t imagine too much lag time (especially since some iOS 4.3 beta users have it working now). How many of you AT&T users are going to shell out an extra $20 a month for some Wi-Fi hotspot action? More →
If you’re one of those people who still prefer the brutal, sometimes primitive, efficiency of a BlackBerry device, listen up. It looks like RIM is starting to get their proverbial ducks in a row for a 9780 launch in the near future. One of our readers was kind enough to point out the mention of the Bold 9780 on RIM’s official website. Links to a “9780 Demo” and “9780 Announcement” are visible on the 9700’s support page… for the time being. The links don’t yield any interesting results, but it certainly is a good sign for those waiting for the handsets release. T-Mobile launched the 9700 ahead of AT&T earlier this year, which carrier do we think is getting the device first this time?
Thanks, T.D.! More →
Last week, we heard about Sony Ericsson bailing on Symbian and this week it looks like Samsung is following suit. In a message to developers, Samsung noted that it would stop supporting Symbian developers on December 31, 2010. “We recommend posting any new discussion board queries no later than the 10th of December 2010 to ensure your issue can be addressed prior to the Forum’s closure,” wrote Samsung. “Please take this opportunity to download any required documentation before all content is removed.” It doesn’t get more clear cut than that. Samsung is suggesting developers utilize symbian.org as an alternative. More →