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If you're a T-Mobile subscriber, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) wants to inform you that the wireless carrier has been accused of adding bogus charges to subscriber bills. Without customer consent, "hundreds of millions of dollars" worth of charges were added, starting in 2009 and lasting until December 2013. Charges typically were tied to expensive premium apps with monthly surcharges, often not even wanted by smartphone owners in the first place.
The cramming practice led to 40 percent refund rates per month, and that should have provided an "obvious sign" to T-Mobile that something was wrong, the FTC noted. And with T-Mobile phone bills sometimes more than 50 pages in length, it was virtually impossible for subscribers to fairly identify - and request - the charges to be halted.
"It's wrong for a company like T-Mobile to profit from scams against its customers when there were clear warning signs the charges it was imposing were fraudulent," said Edith Ramirez, FTC Chairwoman, in a press statement. "The FTC's goal is to ensure that T-Mobile repays all its customers for these crammed charges."
Gadget-happy consumers across Europe will breathe a sigh of relief to hear the European Union has officially slashed roaming charges in all 28 countries.
Anyone with a contract from European telcos won't have to spend an arm and a leg for calls, text messages or even data abroad - compared to the widely reviled, sky-high rates that were previously set by providers. "This huge drop in data roaming prices will make a big difference to all of us this summer," European commissioner Neelie Kroes, who oversaw the plans, said in a recent statement. "But it is not enough."
These developments will be welcome for beleaguered European consumers - who have been left behind in the worldwide race for 4G networks. But they may not be so welcome for network providers who have felt forced to up call rates outside of Europe to compensate. Companies such as Vodafone have struggled in Europe of late, posting profit warnings amid high tax rates in certain territories, and diversifying product portfolios to supplement mobile businesses.
Apple has been working with other firms for a while now to bring better speech recognition to Siri. Siri can recognize the voice commands it hears and perform the action asked of it in many instances. However, the speech recognition in the Siri assistant could be better and Apple knows that.
Apple is reportedly working on building a team internally to help it improve speech recognition for Siri. Currently Siri's voice recognition is powered by Nuance and Apple wants to get away from using that tech and get into using its own.
Apple is expected to release its own in-house voice recognition service in the future. Apple is reportedly hiring at management levels for this in-house team and is hiring on the research and team level as well. The next iteration of iOS, iOS 8, is expected to use Nuance tech.
There are plenty of LED light bulbs on the market today that allow the user to control lighting and even light color using smartphone apps. The catch is that many of those bulbs also carry a rather steep price blocking entry into the smart bulb market for some. GE has announced a new smart LED bulb series that it promises will be cheap compared to existing products.
GE's new family of bulbs are called Link bulbs and the system does require a hub to connect the bulbs in the home. That hub will set you back $30 on its own. After buying that hub, the bulbs will cost in the area of $15 to $25 each depending on the style chosen.
A kit is available with the hub and two 60W equivalent bulbs for $50. Once connected, the app and hub allow you to schedule the lights and control brightness. It doesn't appear that the bulbs allow you to control the color of the light. Home Depot is taking pre-orders on the bulbs now and they will ship this fall.
Google has been fighting in court for a while trying to get out of the trouble it landed in with the Wi-Fi snooping that it performed with its Street View cars several years ago. Google has lost the case in court and has been appealing trying to get a different decision, but it looks like its appeals are over. The US Supreme court has refused to hear Google's appeal on a ruling in the case.
The refusal to hear the appeal will allow consumers to proceed with a privacy suit that stems from the snooping scandal. A lower court had previously ruled against Google saying that it may had violated a federal wiretap law when it collected payload data from Wi-Fi networks using its street view cars.
The data that Google captured with tech aboard those vehicles includes emails, passwords, and URLs that people had visited at home and in the office. The legal case around this issue began in 2010 when it was revealed that Street View cars were collecting data from Wi-Fi networks that weren't protected. Google argues that it didn't violate the wiretap law due to a clause in that law that gives an exception for networks readily accessible to the public.
The US Marshals Service successfully auctioned off bitcoins seized from Silk Road, with 45 registered bidders participating for their share of 29,000 bitcoins valued around $18.7 million. The auction took 12 hours and winning bidders will be contacted before the end of the day today to claim their prize.
The bitcoins were separated into nine separate blocks of 3,000, and the last one had 2,657 bitcoins. The award process is currently ongoing, so there isn't a final tally of winning bidders just yet, according to the Marshals Service. This is a rather unprecedented event, so the government was unsure if it should reveal winning bidders - and what they paid for the seized bitcoins.
An additional cache of bitcoins valued around $85 million, which belonged to Silk Road owner Ross Ulbricht could be auctioned in the future - pending legal proceedings where Ulbricht saying they are his personal property and not related to Silk Road.
YouTube is a place where we mostly think of video being the focus of attention. However, a lot of music artists use the video site to get their music out there. YouTube has announced that it is helping to create a weekly radio show on Sirius XM satellite radio called the YouTube 15 on Sirius XM.
The weekly show will be played on the Sirius XM Hits 1 radio network and will be hosted by Jenna Marbles. The show will air on the satellite radio network starting July 11 at 6pm ET. Replays of the show will be aired over the weekend.
The show will highlight artists that are emerging on YouTube and other pop songs that are on the video sharing site. Some of the up and coming artists have videos on YouTube that generate millions of views.
GoPro cameras can do just about anything from recording racetrack antics for car guys to diving into the ocean depths. The rugged camera is among the most popular for sports fans of all types for recording their fun. GoPro went public this week with an IPO that kicked off yesterday.
GoPro began its IPO with share prices set at $24 per share. The stock surged in trading to over $31 per share in trading. GoPro raised about $425 million and is now valued at nearly $3 billion.
After the IPO, GoPro has about 123 million shares outstanding. GoPro currently holds about 45% of the camcorder market in the US by dollars, but the company is facing some serious competition with other firms, like Google, stepping into the wearable camcorder market.
Depending on what country you are from, Football can mean different sports. In the US, football is what we watch in the fall with the NFL, but in much of the rest of the world football is soccer. With the World Cup tournament underway, people all around the globe are flocking to the TV to watch the matches and root for their favorite team.
WatchESPN is available as an app or a website and allows people with verified cable subscriptions to watch sports content, like the World Cup, on the TV screen. WatchESPN has set a viewership record with more people streaming World Cup matches at the same time than streamed the Super Bowl earlier this year.
WatchESPN racked up 1.7 million concurrent viewers during the World Cup US versus Germany match this week. In fact, the number of viewers was so high that many people had trouble logging on to view the game. Concurrent viewers using WatchESPN to watch the Super Bowl hit 1.1 million.
Users of Chromecast devices know that it is easy to pair the Chromecast with a phone or tablet if the devices are all on the same Wi-Fi network. The catch is if you have a friend over who wants to stream content from their device to the TV via Chromecast, you have to share your Wi-Fi credentials with them to make that happen.
Chromecast is set to get a new way to pair with devices that aren't on the same Wi-Fi network using ultrasonic sounds. Humans can't hear the ultrasonic sounds, but nearby devices can. The feature was announced at Google I/O 2014 last week.
With this new feature enables, users will be able to cast content from their phone to the TV when on a mobile network. A four-digit pin will also be offered to allow users to manually pair devices that aren't on the same network. Google's Chromecast device will produce the ultrasonic sounds from the TV audio system to pair with the mobile device. Ultrasonic paring will hit Chromecast in the coming weeks; no specific time frame is offered.