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Entries in Mobile (15)

Saturday
Jun292013

First Mobile-Only Bank Is Pay-As-You-Wish

GoBank(NEW YORK) -- The first bank that was designed for mobile use launched to the public this week, allowing users to pay what they want in fees.

GoBank, launched by publicly traded Green Dot Corp., has no overdraft or penalty fees. The company says that it “works for tips,” allowing users to pay up to $9 a month as a membership fee. But members can use the same account features even if they don’t pay a fee.

Customers get a free debit card, or they can create a custom debit card with a photo of their choice for $9. The company gets most of its money through debit card swipe fees from merchants. There’s a bill-pay feature and the accounts are FDIC-insured.

NerdWallet’s senior analyst John Gower had positive reviews, saying, “GoBank’s concept and ease-of-use resonates well with younger, tech-savvy consumers but isn’t beyond the grasp of newer mobile users either.  The app, website, and various features are quite easy to navigate and understand, which is something many banks still struggle with.”

Gower said offering customers the chance to pay what they feel is fair “is a unique and refreshing strategy among banks.”

Starting next week, the company will offer free custom debit cards as part of a promotion with store partners, like Rite Aid and Barnes & Noble College bookstores.

Members can use fee-free ATMs from more than 42,000 locations around the country and add cash at over 3,900 ATMs.

The number of ATM locations is a very competitive option for people who don’t want to deposit checks to their GoBank account by snapping a photo on their smart phones, or enroll in GoBank’s direct deposit. (Bank of America, for example, has 5,400 retail banking offices and approximately 16,300 ATMs. Chase says it has 19,500 ATMs and 5,500 branches.)

GoBank is available in the iTunes App store. Android phone users can download the app for free via Google Play and MetroPCS will distribute the mobile application across its compatible Android device portfolio.

One of the coolest features of GoBank is that users can view their balance on the login screen, which the company says is the primary reason why a person logs into their bank account.

GoBank also allows users to send money with no charge through text or email. If you want to send money to someone not using GoBank, they can move the money with PayPal.

GoBank says its product offers a “high tech/low price proposition.”

“I think we’re going to see more innovation with regard to financial products and services, both mobile and online, and whatever the next big thing is,” said Michael Schreiber, editor-in-chief of Credit.com. “As issuers innovate in this space, data security will be of paramount importance.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Feb122013

Vertu Launches $9,600 Android Phone

Vertu(NEW YORK) -- British-based luxury mobile phone maker Vertu has announced its first Android smartphone. And no, as was true for other Vertu phones, you probably can’t afford it.

The handmade Vertu Ti starts at $9,600, with a more expensive rose gold-trimmed model that sells for a whopping $19,900.

The hardware is only the best, including a 3.7-inch sapphire crystal screen, an 8-megapixel rear camera capable of 1080p video capture, and a grade 5 titanium casing. The phone is powered by a dual-core 1.7 GHz processor.

But $9,600 won’t buy you the latest version of Android; the Ti is launching with Android 4.0 software, which dates from 2011 (the current version is Android 4.2). Vertu says it has put its own spin on design with a “uniquely tailored” user interface.

In an interview with the BBC, Chief Executive Perry Oosting explained the company’s choice to join the Android community, saying, “You need to be part of an ecosystem.” Vertu previously made high-quality Nokia phones. The phones will only be available through selected high-end retailers.

Though this is not Vertu’s most expensive phone to date, the company claims it is definitely the most powerful.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Oct112012

Google Adds 250,000 Miles of Street View as Apple Tries to Improve

Google(NEW YORK) -- While Apple is apologizing for its new Maps app and trying to mend the glitches, Google is trying to stomp it into the ground.

For those who haven't been following the mobile maps war between the two tech giants: Apple's new maps app in iOS 6, which was released in September, replaced Google Maps for the iPhone and iPad. It was quickly criticized by many users for its lack of certain features -- but more so for mistaken locations and jumbled images.

Thursday Google announced that it is releasing the biggest update ever to its Street View feature, which gives users a view of what places actually look like from cars dispatched by Google to photograph everything they pass. The company has doubled the number of images in Street View images, adding 250,000 miles of road from around the world.

Listed on Google's blog are places where they have added more Street View coverage. Some are in the U.S., but most are abroad, in places like South Africa, Denmark, Japan and Spain.

Google has even added places like the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall in Taiwan and Stanley Park in Vancouver.

"Street View, as you know, is a useful resource when you're planning a route or looking for a destination, but it can also magically transport you to some of the world's picturesque and culturally significant landmarks," Ulf Spitzer, the Street View program manager, wrote.

Apple's new Maps app has been criticized for lacking anything like Street View, which is very helpful when you want to see a place without going there. While Google offers its Maps service via its mobile website for the iPhone, which includes Street View, it doesn't yet offer a full mobile app in Apple's App Store.

Two weeks ago Apple's CEO, Tim Cook, apologized for the glitches in the new maps app. Apple also directed people to Google's Maps and provided instructions on how to create a shortcut to the Google Maps website on the iPhone or iPad home screen. Apple has been releasing updates to its offering, which fix glitches like distorted landmarks.

"Apple should have kept our maps," Eric Schmidt, Google's chairman, said Wednesday night at the 92nd Street Y in New York. "The fact of the matter is they decided a long time ago to do its own maps … What Apple has learned is that maps are really hard."

Interviewer Walt Mossberg asked if Google would release a dedicated app for the iPhone. "I don't want to pre-announce products," Schmidt answered.

Google has been rumored to be planning an app for the iPhone before the end of the year, though Schmidt did say that it all would depend on Apple's approval of it.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Aug232012

Facebook's iPad and iPhone App Just Got Faster

Facebook 5.0 for iOS brings speed enhancements and a new design. (Facebook)(NEW YORK) -- If you're an iPhone or iPad owner and a heavy Facebook user, you know the Facebook app has been slow. It can take time to get to a friend's profile, see updates on your newsfeed, see comments and photos. You get used to tapping your fingers.

But on Thursday Facebook has changed that. It's released Facebook 5.0 for iOS, which promises to be twice as fast as the previous version. Facebook says it will be faster to launch, faster when scrolling through the newsfeed and opening photos.

"We've rebuilt the app from the ground up, so now the app opens much faster and your news feed and notifications load right when you open Facebook," Facebook Product Manager, Mick Johnson, wrote in a blog on Facebook Thursday. Johnson told ABC News that it took the team nine months to rewrite the entire code to make it feel like a native iOS app.

Facebook has also addressed the photo loading issue directly. Photos, it promises, will pop right up, and you can close them by swiping downward now.

In March, 488 million Facebook users (out of a total of 955 million) accessed the service via mobile apps. But Facebook has taken a lot of criticism surrounding its mobile performance. On the company's first earnings call last month, CEO Mark Zuckerberg promised improvements to Facebook's mobile apps.

Zuckerberg denied reports of a "Facebook phone." "There are a lot of things you can build in other operating systems as well that aren't really taking, that aren't really like building out a whole phone, which wouldn't make much sense for us to do," he said. Facebook will be integrated into Apple's iOS 6 operating system, which will launch this fall.

The next app to tackle will be the Android app. Johnson wouldn't comment on unreleased products, but did say, "you can reasonably expect we could do similar things on Android."

Facebook 5.0 is now available in the Apple App Store.

Coypright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Aug172012

Poll: Mobile Phones a Common Obsession Throughout the World

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- All over the world, people have got to have it -- "it" being their mobile phones. A Time mobility poll that surveyed 5,000 people spanning eight countries finds that a whopping 84 percent can’t go one day with their mobile device at hand.

Our addiction to mobile phones is astonishing, with 25 percent of respondents saying they check it every half hour and one in five admitting that they need to take a peek every ten minutes.

It seems that our mobile devices go everywhere we go no matter where we live: Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, South Africa, South Korea, the United Kingdom and of course, the good, old U.S.A.

This obsession carries over to our downtime too, with Time saying that three out of four people ages 25 to 29 will take their phones to bed with them.

As far as sexting and sending provocative photos of ourselves, Americans have a way to go to catch up to the rest of the world.

For instance, Brazil leads the pack with 64 percent of phone owners there claiming to have sent naughty images of themselves, 54 percent saying the same in India and 45 percent in South Africa.

Only 25 percent of Americans in the Time poll admit to sexting.

Overall, the need to be constantly connected is a little less crucial in America, with 76 percent agreeing that it’s a good thing, compared to 90 percent of phone owners in Brazil and India.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jul262012

Facebook: New Mobile Products Coming, No Facebook Phone

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- While Facebook’s earnings call was full of revenue generating strategies, including an increase in sponsored stories, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and CEO Mark Zuckerberg stressed the company’s upcoming mobile products and integration.

“We will develop new products, particularly in mobile,” Sandberg said as she was listing other product and revenue plans.

Facebook’s earnings barely matched analysts’ expectations Thursday, and its stock dropped to an all-time low of $25.50 per share in after-hours trading.

Zuckerberg jumped in later to discuss mobile app products. “We want to support an ecosystem where other apps can build on top of Facebook,” he said. Zuckerberg pointed to the forthcoming Facebook integration coming to Apple’s iOS 6 for the iPhone and iPad.

Zuckerberg also shot down rumors about a Facebook smartphone.  "There are a lot of things you can build in other operating systems as well that aren’t really taking, that aren’t really like building out a whole phone, which wouldn’t make much sense for us to do,” he said.

Rumors of a dedicated Facebook phone based on Android have sprung up over the last couple of months.

Facebook has been criticized on Wall Street for not having a strong enough revenue-generating mobile strategy.  It has recently launched a dedicated Facebook camera app and acquired mobile app companies, including Instagram and Glancee. The Instagram deal has not yet closed, Zuckerberg said on the call.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jul032012

US South Winning Economic War for Foreign Investment

Jason Alden/Bloomberg via Getty Images(MOBILE, Ala.) -- Airbus' choice of Mobile, Ala., as the site for its first-ever U.S. aircraft manufacturing plant is but the latest Southern victory in an economic war between the states: The fight to win direct economic investment from overseas, in manufacturing especially.

"For 10 years now, 39 percent of all direct foreign investment in the U.S. has gone to the South," says Michael Randle, owner, editor and publisher of Southern Business & Development, the economic development magazine of the South, based in Birmingham. "It's part of a trend you're going to see more of. If you want to sell to North America, it makes sense to make your products here."

Though an increasing number of foreign manufacturers, says Randle, want a foothold in U.S., "They don't want to throw their money around. They want a good deal." They're extremely conscious of costs, he says, and costs for lots of things--including land, infrastructure, electricity and labor—tend to be cheapest in the South. "Plus, there's the work ethic that the South is famous for."

Starting in the early 1990s, he says, Alabama made a huge commitment to winning aerospace and automotive manufacturing from Europe and Asia. After the state persuaded Mercedes-Benz to build a plant in 1993, it "knew it was on to something."

Other wins for Alabama (besides the decision by France's Airbus) include a $5 billion investment by Germany's ThyssenKrupp, which operates two steel plants in the state, and an announcement by Mercedes that it will produce its new GL-Class sport utility vehicle at its Alabama factory. Honda, Hyundai and Toyota have plants in Alabama as well.

As for Airbus's decision, economic development experts in Alabama and elsewhere say Mobile had an all but unbeatable advantage over other locations. Asked what city was the number-two competitor, Leigh Perry Herndon, vice president of marketing for Mobile's chamber of commerce, says simply, "There wasn't one."

The city's attributes, says Greg Canfield, Alabama's Secretary of Commerce, include a former airbase with long (9,600-foot) runways, two nearby freeway intersections, port access, an abundance of cheap land, low taxes and a local workforce skilled in aerospace manufacturing.

"The fact that Alabama is a right-to-work state, I think, too, was very important," he says.

Mobile already had a seven-year relationship with Airbus, dating back to when Airbus was in competition with Boeing for a contract to build air-tankers for the U.S. Air Force. Airbus competed out of Mobile for that contract, which they lost. Now they again have chosen Mobile as the base from which they will go up against Boeing for the commercial aircraft market.

Kudos to Mobile have come from a surprising quarter: Washington State, original home to Chicago-based Boeing and still the site of Boeing manufacturing.

"We congratulate them," says Alex Pietsch, director of the governor's office for aerospace development in Washington. Rather than seeing Airbus' decision to manufacture in the U.S. as a cause for war, Pietsch sees it as good news for his state's 720 aerospace suppliers.

"As Airbus grows its presence," he says, "we know our companies are going to be part of that supply chain."

A win for Alabama, he says, is a win for Washington State and for the U.S. aerospace industry in general--further confirmation that "U.S. manufacturing is back."

That generous attitude is not shared by Boeing, which in a statement denounced Airbus' decision: "While it is interesting once again to see Airbus promising to move jobs from Europe to the United States," said Boeing, "no matter how many are created, the numbers pale in comparison to the thousands of U.S. jobs destroyed by illegal [European] subsidies."

Alabama is kicking in $158 million in incentives for Airbus to locate to the state.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jun272012

For Many, Being on the Phone Means Being on the Internet

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Using your mobile phone to only make calls is so landline.

The latest Pew Internet & American Life Project on cellphone use reveals that 88 percent of U.S. adults now own some kind of mobile device and 55 percent of them use their phone to go online.

In fact, 17 percent say that most of their Internet browsing is done on the phone and some admit they use it exclusively to get online, forgoing computers and other devices.

According to Pew, 45 percent of adults ages 18 to 29 do the majority of their browsing on their cellphones while 51 percent of African-Americans and 43 of Latinos rely on their phones go online.

In the phone survey of 2,254 adults 18 and older, the Pew report concluded, “Cellphones are convenient, always available -- 64 percent of cell-mostly Internet users mention factors related to convenience or the always-available nature of mobile phones when asked for the main reason why they do most of their online browsing on their cellphone.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Dec132011

Makers of Fake ID App Defend Themselves

DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images(OAKLAND, Calif.) -- The makers behind a controversial app, which allowed users to create their own “driver’s licenses,” are defending themselves after the app was pulled by Apple.

The  “License” app from DriversEd.com, which provides online driver’s education courses, was yanked from Apple’s App Store after Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey joined the Coalition to Secure Driver’s Licenses in voicing concerns that the app could be used to easily create fake driver’s licenses.

In a letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook, released by the Coalition for a Secure Driver’s License, Casey wrote, “National security systems depend on the trustworthiness of driver’s licenses, yet with a counterfeit license created by the app, a terrorist could bypass identity verification by the Transportation Security Administration, or even apply for a passport.”

However, Gary Tsifrin of DriversEd.com said that the app was specifically designed with safeguards including different fonts, low image resolution, and even the DriversEd.com logo so that the resulting images could not be used to create counterfeit licenses.

“It would take a lot more expertise to rejigger the driver’s license app [to create a fake license],” said Tsifrin. “It would be much easier to start from scratch.”

Tsifrin said he supports Senator Casey and the coalition in wanting to keep government-issued IDs secure, but says that the coalition was mistaken in attacking the “License” app.

“It’s a shame in this case,” said Tsifrin, who said the company was not contacted by Casey or the coalition before the letter was released. “In this case no one looked at the app.”

Tsifrin says the app, designed as a game or entertainment app, was intended for children or young adults to play with. In the two years it’s been on the market, he said, they’ve heard of no instances in which it was used to create counterfeit IDs.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Oct172011

Wireless Providers to Alert Customers of Plan Overages

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The Federal Communications Commission and the cellphone industry are announcing a deal Monday that could put an end to the shock over monthly mobile bills. Subscribers will get warnings when they're about to go over monthly limits, USA Today reports.

Millions of cellphone subscribers have suffered sticker shock over extra charges when they go over pre-paid limits with their monthly plans: mobile customers can get hit with charges of over $100 for heavy data, voice or texting use.

USA Today says consumer complaints led government regulators to consider alerts requiring wireless companies to tell consumers when they're about to face extra charges.

The alerts should be in place within 18 months.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio