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30Dec/110

Verizon axes $2 convenience fee upon possible FCC probe

Verizon recently confirmed that it plans to charge its wireless customers a $2 convenience fee for certain methods of credit card payments, news that sparked immediate criticism from consumers. It has even caught the attention of the FCC, which now intends to take a closer look into Verizon’s actions. And that was enough for Verizon to retreat on the plan altogether.

In a statement issued today and published by the NY Times, the FCC expressed concern over the matter and said it will be looking into the proposed $2 convenience fee that Verizon has scheduled to take effect starting January 15.

“On behalf of American consumers, we’re concerned about Verizon’s actions and are looking into the matter,” said the FCC in the statement.

The $2 fee would be applied to any one-time credit card payments made online or via telephone. The fee can be avoided if payments were made by electronic checks or auto-pay plans. Gift cards, in-store, and mail-in payments would also be exempt.

Fortunately, following the FCC statement, Verizon has quickly axed its plans to institute the new convenience fee. The carrier attributed the change of mind to customer feedback.

“At Verizon, we take great care to listen to our customers. Based on their input, we believe the best path forward is to encourage customers to take advantage of the best and most efficient options, eliminating the need to institute the fee at this time,” said Dan Mead, president and chief executive officer of Verizon Wireless.

[via Android Community]


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Verizon axes $2 convenience fee upon possible FCC probe is written by Rue Liu & originally posted on SlashGear.
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30Dec/110

Motorola DROID 4 Leaked Again – Demo Unit Pictured In The Wild

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There’s pretty much nothing we don’t already know about Motorola’s worst kept secret, the Droid 4, other than an actual release date. With that being said, the “Razr with a keyboard” is actually looking more like the Bionic from the latest leaked pics taken by John and team at TechnoBuffalo who got some hands-on with a demo unit earlier today.

The device, while not exactly a working model (more of those shells you find on display at Best Buy) does give us a better look at it, with pictures showing off every angle. The Droid 4 will most likely make an appearance at CES 2012 next month of which the entire Phandroid staff we be on hand bringing you the very latest in Android tech.


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30Dec/110

Android’s Chinese Manufacturers Form Alliance To Defend From Apple and Microsoft Patent Lawsuits

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Digitimes is reporting that Chinese OEM’s could be quietly banding together to fight off the ever looming threat of patent lawsuits from Android arch nemeses like Apple, Microsoft and Nokia. The Chinese coalition would be formed by ZTE, Lenovo, TCL, Coolpad and Konka who, it’s assumed, would pool their patent resources and share information on how to work around alleged patent infringements and keep from paying the dreaded “licensing fee.”

As the Chinese smartphone market grows — currently the largest in the world — OEM’s are sure to draw attention from Apple and Microsoft who spend much of their time attacking Android manufacturers.

[Digitimes via Electronista]


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30Dec/110

Verizon Wireless Backtracks – Says They Will NOT Charge $2 Fee To Pay Bills

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Breaking news from the Wall Street Journal who is reporting that Verizon Wireless has offically reversed its plans to charge customers a $2 convenience to pay bills online. This news comes right after the FCC announced they would be investigating the matter. Verizon Wireless CEO Dan Mead said in an official statement,

"At Verizon, we take great care to listen to our customers.  Based on their input, we believe the best path forward is to encourage customers to take advantage of the best and most efficient options, eliminating the need to institute the fee at this time."


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30Dec/110

Verizon’s $2 “Convenience” Fee Now Being Investigated By The FCC

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Oh you done did it now, Verizon. Looks like that extra $2 surcharge fee for paying your Verizon bill online has finally gotten more than the attention of consumers but the FCC (who has been a busy boy this year) as well. An FCC official said today in a statement:

“On behalf of American consumers, we’re concerned about Verizon’s actions and are looking into the matter.”

The fee was supposed to hit customers on January 15th but looks like it could be dead in the water if the FCC rains down sweet justice on Big Red. Good ‘ol FCC, always lookin’ out for the little guy. Just goes to show you, if you yell loud enough, someone is bound will hear you.

[NYTimes via Engadget]


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30Dec/110

LG and Intel Pair Up To Introduce New Device At CES 2012

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LG’s mobile department hasn’t exactly had the best year but rather than give up — they’re trying new things… or rather, revisiting old ideas. According to the Korea Times, LG is getting ready to debut an all new smartphone at CES 2012 powered by none other than Intel’s new Medfield mobile processor. We heard rumors a few weeks back that Samsung would be partnering with Intel for an upcoming smartphone to be debuted at CES in January but maybe it was the other Korean manufacturer this whole time.

The only question that remains if whether or not the device will ever hit market given LG and Intel’s past. At CES 2011 they they actually showed off a smartphone that of course, went belly up due apparently due to “lack of marketability.” The Times went on to source an exec who claims LG will be banking big with this device and could launch as early as March. Once again, the same was said about the two company’s first attempt at a device earlier this year.

Still, LG has a lot to lose but even more to gain this time around and the same could be said with Intel who has made zero impact in the mobile market where SoC’s from Qualcomm have dominated. I think Android 4.0′s compatibility with Intel processors is the moment they both have been waiting for and high-end device could do well for them. Just as long they avoid the quality control issues that plagued the G2X and drop that pseudo TouchWiz UI.

[Via TechCrunch]


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30Dec/110

App developers skirt Apple’s 100-device testing limit

The Wall Street Journal reports that some big iOS developers are having a real issue with Apple's limit on testing devices. According to the App Store rules, developers are restricted to 100 devices for testing via ad-hoc distribution. That may sound like a lot (and it likely is for small or individual developers), but it makes large-scale tests of beta or preview applications difficult. Instagram, for example, is cited in the article as bumping up against the limit so much that the company bought a separate developer account, just for another 100 devices to be able to test on.

There are alternatives. TestFlight is an app testing service (which we've used) that allows developers to send out and update apps being tested on the fly*. Other services, like Pieceable, use the iOS simulator built into Xcode to deliver app beta builds over the Web for testing and feedback purposes. Not all the features work in that mode, but enough is there to let testers get the feel of the app.

Apple's enterprise developer program works to a different standard, allowing an unlimited number of employees to download and use apps. Of course, that's meant for enterprise software, not necessarily testing of standard consumer apps, and Apple's rules are clear that only employees of the organization are supposed to be licensed for the enterprise apps.

It's not clear whether Apple sees this as a big enough issue to start changing the rules. While there are more and more scenarios where wide beta testing pools would really help developers, I don't know if there are quite enough, in the larger picture, for Apple to change its tune -- noting that any expansion of the ad-hoc rules will make it easier for some developers to skirt the App Store (and Apple's 30% cut of revenues) entirely. It's more likely (and we've seen some of this already) that developers will change their process, perhaps even using some early post-release time to test and iron out their various apps and games.

*Update: Developers remind me that TestFlight still uses up developer UDIDs, so it's not actually an alternative to Apple's program, just an easier way to go about it.

TUAW - The Unofficial Apple WeblogApp developers skirt Apple's 100-device testing limit originally appeared on TUAW - The Unofficial Apple Weblog on Fri, 30 Dec 2011 17:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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30Dec/110

Churches increasingly using custom apps


The iPad and iPhone are wildly popular among consumers and influencing both the business and education markets. This is just the tip of the iceberg for the pair of iOS devices -- their popularity will inevitably extend the iPad's reach beyond these core markets and into smaller ones like religion. According to a Wall Street Journal report, an increasing number of church and synagogue leaders are using custom iOS apps as a part of their outreach.

Churches are tapping talented congregation members or companies like ROAR to develop apps that'll connect them closer to their members. The apps are used by parents to track their child's progress in Sunday school, listen to sermons when they are unable to attend a service, or connect with other members in a virtual prayer room. It's also a way for churches to reach out to teenagers, a group that is likely to drop their faith when they leave home.

It's not just Protestant and evangelical churches that are embracing the iPad and iPhone. Rabbis, like Dan Cohen of the Temple Sharey Tefilo-Israel in N.J., are also using the iPad in their services and developing apps for their synagogue members. Rabbi Cohen is apporaching the idea cautiously, though. Like many religious leaders, he wants to use technology to help people embrace their faith, not turn them away from it.

TUAW - The Unofficial Apple WeblogChurches increasingly using custom apps originally appeared on TUAW - The Unofficial Apple Weblog on Fri, 30 Dec 2011 16:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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30Dec/110

Remembering the Apple Paladin and other prototypes

Way back in 2006 we had a story from AppleGazette about 5 Apple products which never made it to production. Today there's a photo of an old "touchscreen" phone Apple prototyped circulating (although I remember digging this up when the iPhone was announced; we never ran the story it seems) and I wound up doing a whopping five minutes of research on Flickr for more Apple prototypes. Like fishing for Steve Jobs videos on YouTube, these diversions can be a lot of fun. It's a bit like staring into an alternate universe, seeing glimpses of Apple's ambitions -- often ahead of their time, and re-appearing years later in substantially refined form.

The Paladin is one of those Frankenstein machines you'd never imagine would emerge out of Cupertino. While the "touchscreen phone" prototype was stylish, the Paladin looks like a Duo and a fax machine took a queue from the Wuzzles and had some freakish techno-mutt. Paladin had a pull-out keyboard with trackball. The combination of a fax machine, scanner, phone and computer probably made sense before the Newton, but molded as a typical fax machine in that old beige just seems so... uninspired. Then again, this was 1994 -- not exactly an era of innovation from Apple, unless you count endless models of Performas "progress" (the market sure didn't). The Paladin doesn't even have an Apple logo up top, instead showing Apple on the label only. Of course, the pics from Jim Abeles are showing a prototype, so there's no real reason to attach a logo at this point in the process.

Mr. Abeles has a few curious prototypes on his Flickr page, including an iPhone, a 13" MacBook in very rough form, the Newton-powered Bic and Cadillac prototypes (way before the iPad), the W.A.L.T. (Wizzy Active Lifestyle Telephone), and a Mac Portable with transparent case (translucent plastic, OMG!). Apparently he's collected more, but only these ultra-rare prototypes are on Flickr. What a collection!

TUAW - The Unofficial Apple WeblogRemembering the Apple Paladin and other prototypes originally appeared on TUAW - The Unofficial Apple Weblog on Fri, 30 Dec 2011 15:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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30Dec/110

BubCap is the TUAW Best of 2011 iPad accessory

Sometimes it's the little things that count. In our nominations for the best iPad accessories, several readers raved about BubCaps. These inexpensive little Home button covers (4 for US$5) hide the iPad or iPhone Home button to keep your kids from switching to another app and doing something fun like deleting all of your contacts or calling your boss. Apparently, a lot of parents need and use BubCaps, as they topped the reader voting in our TUAW Best of 2011 iPad accessory category.

Our resident alpha geekette and mom of three, Erica Sadun, wrote a review of the BubCap solution back in June of 2011. As she notes, each BubCap is a separate sticker that comes in one of three levels of rigidity -- the more rigid, the more difficult it is for tiny fingers to press that Home button. The BubCaps are removable and reusable, and do the job they're designed to do.

TUAW readers responded by giving BubCap 46.2 percent of the total votes in this category. Congratulations to Rob Mitchell of Paperclip Robot for winning the TUAW Best of 2011 award for the BubCap and for saving a lot of iPad-owning parents from embarrassment and/or data loss!

TUAW - The Unofficial Apple WeblogBubCap is the TUAW Best of 2011 iPad accessory originally appeared on TUAW - The Unofficial Apple Weblog on Fri, 30 Dec 2011 14:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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