Talking Apple Pay and the like on 1395 FIVEaa Adelaide

FIVEaa logoThis week Apple launched its Apple Pay service in the UK, the second market after the US, which meant it and other new payment systems blipped up in the news.

On Thursday I spoke about Apple Pay with Will Goodings on 1395 FIVEaa in Adelaide. He was bouncing off a story in the Australian Financial Review, Why Australia’s banks are still well placed to fend off Apple Pay.

After speaking with me, he spoke with Chris Hamilton, CEO of the Australian Payments Clearing Association — and that’s in the recording too, because it’s interesting stuff.

I was also going to mention the forthcoming Samsung Pay, because ZDNet reviewed the beta rollout in South Korea, but we didn’t get to that.

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The audio is ©2015 Nova Entertainment.

Talking Samsung’s phone vulnerability on The World Today

ABC logoHundreds of millions of Samsung smartphones have a serious security vulnerability. The company has known about it since December, but hasn’t done anything about it. I spoke about this on ABC Radio’s The World Today on Thursday.

A software bug is making around 600 million Samsung mobile phones around the world vulnerable to attack. The bug in the phone’s keyboard software could allow hackers to read text messages and to view and take photos. It was found by a US computer security company which informed Samsung late last year.

If you want the technical details, read the Ars Technica story, New exploit turns Samsung Galaxy phones into remote bugging devices.

Here’s the three-and-a-half minute radio story. There’s also a transcript, and a written news story, Samsung phones vulnerable to cyber attacks because of software bug.

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The audio is ©2015 Australian Broadcasting Corporation, and it’s being served here directly from the ABC website.

Since this report aired, Samsung has said that it will fix this vulnerability, but not all Samsung smartphone owners will receive the fix immediately.

Talking Smart TV surveillance on ABC 720 Perth

ABC logoAs I mentioned in my previous post, one of the technology stories that crossed over into the mainstream media last week was the news that Samsung’s Smart TV were listening out for conversations — part of its voice recognition features — and transmitting them to an un-named third party.

Now I won’t repeat the reasons why Samsung needs to do this, but I will repeat that Samsung’s big mistake was to have this voice recognition feature turned on by default — which meant that customers were unaware it was happening unless they happened to read the lengthy privacy policy and understand its implications.

This is the second radio spot I did on the topic, for ABC 720 Perth with presenter Jamie Burnett.

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This audio is @2015 Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Bonus link: My ZDNet Australia piece from Smart TVs are dumb, and so are we.

Talking Smart TV surveillance on 1395 FIVEaa Adelaide

FIVEaa logoOne of the technology stories that crossed over into the mainstream media last week was the news that Samsung’s Smart TV were listening out for conversations — part of its voice recognition features — and transmitting them to an un-named third party.

Now Samsung needs to do this because the TV itself doesn’t have enough grunt to do the voice recognition. It’s the same reason that Google Translate needs to send your words off to their servers, do the translation there, and send the translated words back.

And there’s a reasonable argument to be made that the TV needs to listen the whole time, so it knows when you’ve started talking to it.

The audio information is sent to a third party because they’re the ones providing the speech recognition technology.

But Samsung’s big mistake was to have this feature turned on by default, so that customers were unaware it was happening — unless they happened to read the lengthy privacy policy and understand its implications. And who does that?

I ended up doing two radio spots on this topic, and this is the first — a chat with Will Goodings on 1395 FIVEaa in Adelaide.

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The audio is ©2015 dmgRadio Australia.

Bonus link: My ZDNet Australia piece from late 2013, Smart TVs are dumb, and so are we.

Talking many things on the Reckoner podcast

Reckoner podcast logo: click for original websiteOn Sunday I was a guest on the podcast Reckoner with hosts Peter Wells and James Croft, which has been badged Episode Three | Freedom Of Choice.

We spoke about the Australian Taxation Office’s clunky e-tax for Mac software; Choice encouraging people to bypass geo-blocking to get at the digital content they want; a chap called Mattrick moving from Microsoft to Zynga; Yves St Laurent CEO Paul Deneve joining Apple; Samsung buying Boxee; and Twitter client Falcon Pro for Android going free, but gaming Twitter’s user-token limits.

There’s links to all those things on the episode page. That’s three links to that page now, so you should click on one of them. Go on.

That said, here’s the audio right here, embedded in this page so it’ll also appear in my Conversation podcast feed.

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The audio is Copyright ©2013 Reckoner.

Vodafone Australia’s new 4G network ain’t bad

Vodafone logoFor the last few week’s I’ve been using Vodafone Australia’s new 4G network, and I must say it ain’t bad at all. Here’s quite a long post about what I’ve experienced.

Since Saturday 8 June 2013 — that is, since about a week before the network was launched to the public — I’ve used Vodafone’s network as my primary data link to the internet, via a Samsung Galaxy S IV 4G handset that Vodafone loaned me, along with a SIM that gave me uncapped data. Generally I used that smartphone as a Wi-Fi hotspot for my everyday internet use.

Normally I use Telstra’s Next G 4G network — or their 3G network outside 4G coverage areas. The hardware is either a Sierra Wireless pocket Wi-Fi hotspot, or sometimes my Samsung Galaxy S III 4G handset configured as a Wi-Fi hotspot. So what you’re about to read is, I think, a reasonable comparison.

That said, I’d call this a “trial”, not a “test”. I was not rigorous at all about this, and the results only reflect what I experienced on the days in question. Your mileage may vary.

Key Observations

  1. I often work on the train between Sydney and the Blue Mountains. So, on Saturday 8 June, I did a side-by-side comparison. With all other data usage removed from the handsets, I did speed tests as speedtest.net as they sat on my lap. On the train. The detailed results are over the fold. As you’ll see, Vodafone’s network was often faster than Telstra’s, especially where Telstra was likely to suffer congestion. This is unsurprising: there weren’t any customers on Vodafone’s network yet.
  2. Over the three weeks of the trial, my general impression was that where both Vodafone and Telstra had 4G coverage, they offered similar speeds. In highly congested locations, such as the Sydney CBD, North Sydney or Newtown, Vodafone often pulled ahead. But Vodafone obviously has far less geographic coverage for now. See below for the maps.
  3. Up at my Blue Mountains base near Wentworth Falls, neither Vodafone nor Telstra had 4G coverage, only 3G. While I didn’t do speed tests there, as a user I found no noticeable difference between the two networks. That is, there were no occasions when I felt the urge to whinge that Vodafone’s network was causing me more problems that Telstra’s usually did. Both seemed to have the same difficulty punching a signal through a eucalypt forest that’s waving in the wind. That’s not Science, obviously, but it says… something. Probably that there’s not much to choose between the two networks in that location, given the sort of things I do.
  4. On my regular train runs up and down the mountains, there was no real experiential difference between Vodafone’s network and Telstra’s — except, of course, where Vodafone has no 4G. Apart from one factor, that is. My impression was that the Telstra handset was better at noticing when 4G became available and switching to that, whereas the one on Vodafone would stay on 3G all the way into Central even though there’s plenty of 4G areas — but I didn’t test this properly.
  5. Using mobile broadband is a very different experience when you’re not worried about how many gigabytes of data you’re sucking down. As I wrote the other week, the promise of mobile broadband is years away.

Overall, it would appear that Vodafone is rolling out a 4G network that will match Telstra’s in terms of performance, at least once the coverage is in place. Assuming there’s coverage where you need it, the choice will come down to the pricing and support, as always. Whether this will be enough for Vodafone to win back the customers they’ve lost is another question.

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