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The Apple Watch officially begins shipping today, and it looks promising

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April 24, 2015

It's now official: after about 18 months of rumors, the Apple Watch finally begins shipping today. Steve Jobs would have been proud.

On this important date, mobile app developers and companies of all sizes are scrambling together to be the first apps popping up on those small 1.32 inch displays.

The app store for the Apple Watch, which opened just yesterday, already has 3,000 apps, and it's increasing rapidly according to some observers.

That pales in comparison to the 1.2 million mobile apps the App Store contained as of last summer, but the volume of Watch apps will quickly expand, it is largely expected.

Some of the first apps for the Watch are from travel companies like PriceLine and Expedia. Analysts believe those types of apps could see a boost in relevance from Apple’s new device.

According to Strategy Analytics, travel apps represent a higher percentage of early Watch applications than more dominant categories like gaming, meaning those apps could benefit from early launches into a less crowded market and from a closer relationship to the 'ideal' primary purpose of a smartwatch.

“As a direct result, lesser utilized and downloaded categories which are focused on lifestyle improvement will be in direct alignment with the Apple Watch's use case and see increased usage and reliance as a result,” according to Strategy Analytics.

It helps that the Apple Watch is off to a roaring start. Carl Howe, principal at Think Big Analytics and former Yankee Group analyst, estimates the Apple Watch will ship more than 3 million units and see more than $2 billion in revenue in the first two weeks.

He sees those sales figures go up on the strength of strong demand for the higher priced Apple Watch edition.

With the Watch just starting to reach some consumers in larger numbers, the device’s app store has yet to generate a top charts section.

But Watch apps to get early preferential placement in the store include Twitter, Instagram, Uber, Shazam and Amazon.

In other mobile news

Funds stored in Google Wallet are now insured by the government. According to a report from Yahoo Finance, money stored in Google's Wallet is FDIC insured up to $250,000.

The news should help appease fraud concerns from consumers and wireless users that are leery in using the service without any form of protection.

While Google's user agreement says that money balances are not FDIC-insured, a Google spokesperson has confirmed for Yahoo that the company's policy was changed today.

Google is apparently holding Wallet funds in multiple FDIC-insured banks. In the event that anything were to happen to one of those financial institutions, the funds would be safe, the FDIC says.

News that Google is insuring Wallet users' funds is significant, as competing services such as PayPal and Venmo do not offer any FDIC insurance, and don't plan any in the foreseeable future.

In other mobile news

"But the FCC has chosen to subjugate the Internet to government-controlled public utility regulations from the 1930s. These regulations not only have no place in the 21st century economy, but will chill innovation and investment. We are challenging the FCC's misguided net neutrality order for these reasons and because we believe it could lead to higher prices and fewer choices for consumers," it added.

The FCC also stated at the time that it passed the rules in March that it was confident they could withstand a legal challenge.

In the meantime, Republicans in Congress continue to threaten legislation that would override the rules.

However, the proposed "resolution of disapproval" is going nowhere since it would require President Barack Obama to sign it, and he was a vocal proponent for the new rules.

His refusal to approve the resolution would require a 67 percent minimum vote in both houses of Congress to override it, which Democrats will probably never allow.

In other mobile news

In its annual mobile breach investigations report, Verizon suggests that the threat of mobile malware for smartphones and tablets is a lot less than the providers of mobile security products would have us believe.

Contrary to several claims from companies like Lookout and a few others that provide mobile security solutions and who have for years warned us about the rapid and massive growth of mobile malware, Verizon found virtually no iOS malware for iPhones or iPads in the data it examined from Verizon mobile customers in 2014, and virtually no Android malware either.

But Verizon's report did make a few eyebrows go up in surprise, nevertheless.

“We’re seeing that some of the exploits just aren’t happening,” said Bryan Sartin, head of Verizon’s risk team in a phone call today discussing the company’s annual Breach Investigations Report.

As you might guess, Verizon’s annual report card is rarely optimistic, and this year was mostly no different-- one major finding of the report suggests that the time it takes for hackers to get into a system and siphon data is just a few minutes.

But this mobile malware finding serves as an unexpected bright spot. In a section of the report titled, “I’ve got 99 problems and mobile isn’t even 1 percent of them,” Verizon says that, although it found hundreds of thousands of malware infections for mobile devices, most of them were simply annoying adware programs. The really big mobile threats didn’t materialize.

“The reality was that, when we talk about really truly malicious code, it was really 0.03 percent of Android devices per week,” Sartin said during the press call.

“That’s almost nothing.” And the Android malware they did find far outnumbered any that targeted iOS devices.

And although Verizon’s dataset was rather limited, it involved just six months worth of data from Verizon Wireless customers and the tens of millions of devices they use to connect to the Verizon network.

The authors of the report note that their findings are nevertheless consistent with the analysis of other forensic companies like FireEye who also say that mobile devices just don’t show up in their forensic investigations.

“This report is filled with thousands of stories of data loss, as it has been for several years already, and rarely do those stories include a smartphone,” the Verizon authors allege.

Despite the fact that serious security vulnerabilities have been found in mobile devices over the years, Verizon found little evidence that attackers were actually releasing exploits to attack them.

But this also means that companies have an opportunity to stay ahead of mobile attackers if they act now to secure and monitor their devices before the mobile attacks begin happen.

However, and this is important, mobile security firm Lookout says that Verizon and other forensic security firms likely don’t have the infrastructure or sophisticated controls needed to properly detect mobile malware in the first place.

“It’s just very unsurprising that enterprises haven’t been more concerned, because targeted threats actually have the mobile security controls in place that would detect these,” said Lookout CEO John Hering.

The Federal Communications Commission has fined Verizon Wireless $3.4 million for its failure to provide subscribers with emergency phone service in 2014.

The FCC said that it had agreed to the fine with Verizon after an April 2014 service outage that left about eleven million people without phone coverage, including the 911 emergency phone service.

A detailed investigation revealed that the phone company also failed to report the service outage as quickly as it should have under FCC rules. The agency said that Verizon's service outage left 750,000 people represented by thirteen emergency call centers in nine Northern California counties, as well as six other Western U.S. states without phone access.

The six-hour outage which took place during the night of April 9, 2014, resulted in 4,300 emergency calls failing in the Western U.S. due to a failure at a Colorado call-routing center.

No deaths or serious injuries were reported during the outage, however. The fine will hardly make a dent in the returns for a company that reported $7.8 billion in profit last quarter.

Nevertheless, the FCC still believes that the fine will give operators a strong incentive to make sure phone lines are always working.

"We take seriously our obligation to ensure the nation’s 911 systems function reliably," said FCC chairman Tom Wheeler.

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Source: Apple.

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