Connect with us

Tech News

T-Mobile and Sprint merger approved by federal judge, 5G in the wings

Published

on

T-Mobile and Sprint are one step closer to becoming one company today after a federal judge ruled in favor of their proposed merger. Though this was an encouraging ruling for the executives at both T-Mobile and Sprint, they aren’t out of the woods yet, as the California Public Utilities Commission still needs to approve the merger before it becomes a done deal.

The ruling was delivered by Judge Victor Marrero at the end of a legal battle that saw attorneys general from a number of states challenge the merger. Those attorneys general argued that combining the two carriers into one would stifle competition between the big carriers in the US and potentially raise prices. Sprint and T-Mobile, on the other hand, argued that it would put them in a better position to compete with giants like Verizon and AT&T.

It seems that Judge Marrero agreed [PDF download], noting that T-Mobile’s reinvention as the “Uncarrier” sparked pro-consumer responses from both companies. “T-Mobile has redefined itself over the past decade as a maverick that has spurred the two largest players in its industry to make numerous pro-consumer changes. The proposed merger would allow the merged company to continue T-Mobile’s undeniably successful business strategy for the foreseeable future,” Marrero wrote.

Furthermore, Judge Marrero argued that Sprint would not be able to continue as a viable competitor to the other big three if this merger isn’t approved. “The Court is thus substantially persuaded that Sprint does not have a sustainable long-term competitive strategy and will in fact cease to be a truly national MNO,” Marrero wrote, noting that if the merger doesn’t happen, the US may well wind up with three big carriers anyway as Sprint deprioritizes certain markets and becomes more of a regional carrier.

The attorneys general who brought this case against Sprint and T-Mobile aren’t buying those arguments, though. In a statement to CNBC, New York Attorney General Letitia James said that this merger would “endanger” wireless customers. “From the start, this merger has been about massive corporate profits over all else, and despite the companies’ false claims, this deal will endanger wireless subscribers where it hurts most: their wallets,” James said.

At this point, all T-Mobile and Sprint need is the approval of the California Public Utilities Commission before the merger can be completed. Assuming they’re granted that approval, they’ll be allowed to merge, but then they’ll also need to satisfy a number of stipulations imposed by the Department of Justice and the FCC in exchange for their approval.

Chief among those stipulations is the requirement that they New T-Mobile builds out a 5G network covering 97% of the US population within three years. The two companies will also need to sell off Sprint’s prepaid business – which is comprised of Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile, among others – to Dish Network so it can begin to build out a wireless network of its own. As it does that and T-Mobile works on rolling out its 5G network, T-Mobile must also give Dish access to its network for seven years after the merger closes.

So, it may not be long before Sprint and T-Mobile combine into one company and we see if Dish can build out a network to become a viable competitor to the new big three. Stay tuned, because T-Mobile and Sprint are now within striking distance of the merger they’ve been working toward for a number of years.

Continue Reading

Tech News

With iPhone 13 in hand, I miss Touch ID more than ever

Published

on

I’ve been traveling this past week, and the iPhone 13 Pro Max has been my trusty sidekick. Whether it’s boarding passes, camera duties, messaging, or keeping me occupied with ebooks and music, I’ve found myself staring at the excellent 120Hz ProMotion display a whole lot. Problem is, when the sensors above that screen stare back, they’re not seeing what they want to.

Face unlock – Face ID in Apple-world – has been a side victim of the coronavirus pandemic. Consistently wearing masks (along with regularly washing your hands, and being vaccinated) is one of the CDC’s big recommendations for avoiding COVID-19, and it’s a legal requirement when you’re in airports and on trains.

Having half your face obscured isn’t especially helpful to a system which relies on scanning it in order to unlock your iPhone. And, with how much I’ve been using the iPhone 13 Pro Max this week – and enjoying it, too, particularly the excellent cameras – its a hurdle I’ve been running into hundreds of times a day, if not more.

Apple’s workaround, of course, is a singularly Apple-y way of dealing with half-masked faces: you need to have an iPhone and and Apple Watch. The feature, launched earlier this year as an iOS 14 update, allows you to bypass security on the iPhone just as long as your Apple Watch is on your wrist and unlocked.

Now, leaving aside the fact that clearly not everyone who has an iPhone also has Apple’s smartwatch, this workaround actually held up pretty well. I’ve been using it on an iPhone 12 Pro Max since it was released, and while there were times it simply didn’t actually unlock, or would unlock without my intending it, it did make using iOS while masked more streamlined. Unfortunately, it’s not working any more.

Since switching to iOS 15 and the iPhone 13 Pro Max, I’ve lost the ability to unlock with Apple Watch. Trying to turn the feature on in the iOS settings simply gets me a “can’t create a secure connection with the Apple Watch” message. A quick search online confirms I’m not alone.

It looks to be an iOS 15 issue, not an iPhone 13 one, but since Apple’s latest version comes preloaded and you can’t downgrade it, anybody in the same situation as I am will probably find that distinction little comfort. I’ve tried all the “fixes” and suggestions listed online – rebooting the phone and the watch; updating to the latest software version of each; even unpairing the Apple Watch and then repairing it from scratch – and nothing works.

I’ve been traveling this week, so wearing a mask a whole lot, and it’s been a reminder of just how many times you need to unlock your phone. Even just checking the latest notifications, if you have iOS’ privacy feature which only reveals their content on the lock screen when iOS is unlocked, requires a PIN now. The iPhone 13’s screen notch may be smaller this generation, but that doesn’t really matter when Face ID can’t see enough of you to do its thing.

Meanwhile, I’m looking enviously over at devices like the new iPad mini, and its Touch ID sensor built into the power button. I can understand why Apple shifted away from a fingerprint scanner in the iPhone, and – when unmasked – I’m a big fan of Face ID. I particularly enjoy how it makes logging into apps, and unlocking payments, simple. Honestly, it took a global pandemic to get frustrated by it.

Rumors of a return of Touch ID to the iPhone have given plenty of people – myself included – a glimmer of hope about striking that balance of security and convenience again. Unlock with Apple Watch was generally functional, but still could be clunky in the same way that anything wirelessly-dependent (I’m looking at you, AirDrop) can periodically leave you longing for a physical alternative. Just as even that took its time arriving in iOS, however, it always seemed a fact of reality that if Apple really was intending to return a fingerprint sensor to its phones, that wouldn’t be in time for 2021.

SEE TOO: The iPhone 13 Pro Max’s 120Hz ProMotion Display is the real deal

As it stands, for a variety of reasons – not least vaccine holdouts – it looks like we’ll be masked-up well into 2022 and probably beyond. An iPhone 14 with a built-in Touch ID sensor probably will be just as relevant as an iPhone 13 would’ve been with that today. Talk about disheartening.

Security is, of course, one thing you should never compromise on. Tempting as it is to change the settings on my iPhone so that it waits a little longer to unlock, or shows the content of my notifications for anyone who glances at them on the lock screen, I know that’s a foolhardy thing to do. Instead, I’ll wait (semi) patiently for the inevitable iOS update which hopefully fixes iPhone unlock with Apple Watch, and punch in my regular PIN until that arrives.

All the same, I can’t help but wonder whether, as we rush to embrace new technology, being equally quick to leave behind what came before it might be a missed opportunity. I’m not someone who particularly mourns the loss of the headphone jack, but these past few days have certainly left me more sympathetic to those who discovered the tech world changed and, in the process, decided something that was important to them could actually be left behind.

Continue Reading

Tech News

Peak Design Mobile modular magnetic accessory line launches in time for iPhone 13

Published

on

Peak Design released their full mobile ecosystem of magnetic and protective accessories today, coordinated with the launch of Apple’s iPhone 13. This collection was part of a Kickstarter back in December of 2020 and rolled out for general availability for the first time today. The mobile line starts with the “Everyday Case”, available for iPhone 11, 12, 13, and Samsung Galaxy S21.

Peak Design has a brand for name for the magnetic system they use with their smartphone case and accessories: SlimLink. SlimLink is a ceramic zirconia insert surrounded by custom tuned magnets that are inserted into each Peak Design Everyday Case.

This SlimLink system does not prohibit Qi standard wireless charging – so users will not need to remove their case in order to use a wireless charging pad. The Everyday Case is thin enough that wireless charging will work, and thick enough that it’ll protect a smartphone from harm.

Included in the launch collection of accessories are the Everyday Case, the Everyday Loop Case, and a wide variety of connecting peripherals. There is also a Universal Adapter that can be attached to third-party phone cases.

In the Peak Design Mobile collection at launch, there is a Car Mount, Motorocycle Bar Mount, Motorcycle Stem Mount, Out Front Bike Mount, Universal Bar Mount, and a Wall Mount. You’ll also find a Creator Kit, Mobile Tripod, Mobile Wallet, and a Wireless Charging Stand, right out the gate.

Take a peek at our previous features with Peak Design and let us know if you’re planning on attaching this series of accessories to your brand new device. We’ll be back with reviews of the lot once we get up close and personal with the cases and the accessories of all sorts!

Continue Reading

Tech News

Five features to un-do in iOS 15 for your iPhone

Published

on

Today we’re taking a peek at iOS 15 and a few ways in which it’s changed some very basic features in your iPhone. If you’ve been using your iPhone for quite a few years and have gotten used to the way you’ve done business, chances are the update to iOS 15 threw you for a bit of a loop. The good news is, nothing is set in stone, and basically everything that’s changed can be effectively un-changed.

Widget Suggestions

Much like Shared with You (which we’ll get to later), the Widget Suggestions system in iOS 15 might not be particularly beloved by all users. If you’re seeing Widget Suggestions in iOS 15 and you’d rather not, you’ll need to tap and hold a widget, and tap “Edit Stack”.

If you have Smart Rotate enabled and Widget Suggestions enabled, you’ll likely see options for Smart Rotate (On/Off), and Widget Suggestions (On/Off). You know what to do!

Accidental Opening

After updating to iOS 15, you may find that you accidentally trigger the Spotlight Search feature from your lockscreen. If you do not want to continue seeing this Search system every time you swipe down on your locked iPhone, no worries!

Open Settings – Face ID & Passcode – Today View and Search. Disable Today View and Search and bang! No more accidental search system when you run your finger across the locked phone screen.

Safari Window Tinting

If you’re looking to remove the Website Tinting element in iOS 15 inside your Safari web browser, the pathway to a fix is simple. You’ll need to back out of your Safari app, back to your main iOS Settings. Tap Safari and flip the switch for “Allow Website Tinting.”

Bonus! This is also the place you need to go to find Safari’s Tab Bar / Single Tab, and the Landscape Tab Bar. You can also choose where you open links and when tabs will close.

Separation Anxiety

If you have more than one iOS device – like an iPhone and an iPad – iOS 15 might start to send you Separation alerts. This system can be great – especially if you’re the sort of person who forgets their iPad under a stack of newspapers, or if you tend to leave at least one device behind whenever you visit your relatives’ house for the holidays.

If, however, you find yourself in a situation where you’re being alerted when you’ve left a device in one location on purpose, you have options. Probably the best option for you – to start – is to add “New Location” to your list with the “Find My” app.

Open Find My, tap your device under “Devices”, tap “Notify When Left Behind”, tap “New Location.” You could also just turn the “Notify When Left Behind” option off entirely if you do so wish.

End Shared With You

If you find the new Shared With You sections less than appealing in apps like Photos, Podcasts, Music, News, and Safari, you can flip them off completely. Each individual app will have a switch to turn off Shared With You. If you’d like to turn off ALL the Shared with You at once, head to Settings – Messages – Shared with You, and disable Automatic Sharing.

OR if you’ve not yet upgraded to iOS 15, take a peek at the timeline of links below to see the path you’ll likely take. This software update is available now for quite a few iPhone devices from the past few years. The same is true of iPad devices and iPadOS 15 this week too!

Continue Reading

Trending