Unlocking our phones is quite the hassle. Sticking a PIN or password on the lock screen is your most reliable option, but inputting that information every time admittedly gets old. There's face unlock, but that's too easy to circumvent. As for fingerprint scanning? The required hardware isn't exactly widespread. So now Descartes Biometrics is offering users the ability to unlock their smartphones... using their ears.
Once installed, ERGO serves as your phone's lockscreen.
It was only yesterday that Cyanogen definitively confirmed AT&T's treacherous move to lock down the Galaxy S4's bootloader, but there is light at the end of that tunnel. No thanks to AT&T but to security researcher extraordinaire and a person I admire Dan Rosenberg, a.k.a. the magician, a.k.a. the root whisperer.
Dan, who is responsible for numerous root and unlock exploits, tweeted this photo of his Galaxy S4 earlier today:
There are no instructions or blog posts explaining the unlock at Dan's blog yet - these should be coming in the future.
Several days ago, something happened that sent a not insignificant ripple through coverage of Google Glass: someone "jailbroke" the device.
Saurik, who posted the above photo to Twitter, had modified Glass' software "while in the Bay Area after picking it up from Google's headquarters in Mountain View."
Understandably, this idea was a bit bedeviling to the press – ostensibly, Glass is a relatively limited platform for developers, who can only write apps using a web-based API, allowing software to be integrated with the device over the internet.
Most of the time, major corporations like to cushion their words so that, in the event of a PR disaster, it's easier to walk back its statements. Today, an AT&T exec in charge of public policy decided to throw that caution to the wind and announce in no uncertain terms 'the Librarian’s ruling will not negatively impact any of AT&T’s customers.' Well. That sure is blunt.
We're not apt to take any AT&T rep at their word, and there are certainly some things to raise eyebrows over.
Two days ago, the White House announced its support for carrier unlocking handsets. The administration promised an FCC/NTIA investigation as well as a willingness to "work with Congress" on legislation to fix the problem. So, we can probably count on the President's support of the new Wireless Device Independence Act, introduced last night by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR). The bill, which is only three pages long, has a simple goal: amend the DMCA such that it explicitly allows the unlocking of cell phones, obviating the need for a tri-yearly exemption.
We've been waiting on this for a couple weeks now and the White House has finally come through with its response to the cell phone unlock petition. The short version, for the tl;dr crowd is simple: "The White House agrees." Citing not just smartphones but tablets as well, the Executive branch of the U.S. government states, in no uncertain terms, that there should be no reason that carriers should block a customer from switching carriers once contractual obligations are fulfilled.
The President still hasn't weighed in on what he plans to do about the cell phone unlocking ban (he's been a little busy with that sequester business that's gonna cost some people their jobs), but FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski is a little closer to the situation. Speaking to TechCrunch, the communications head said the organization plans to "look into" the issue and decide whether action should be taken and, if so, what action there is to take.
In October of 2012, the Library of Congress elected not to renew DMCA exemptions that explicitly allow end users to unlock their cell phones at will, thus ending a six year tradition. This has made a lot of people very angry and has been widely regarded as a bad move. The quest to do something about it began almost immediately. And by "almost immediately" I mean "nearly three months later and at almost the very last minute."
Still, regardless of when the outrage gained steam, the fact is it did.
At this point, you've probably heard that starting tomorrow, it will become illegal to unlock your smartphone to use it on another carrier. You certainly should have heard so since the decision was made three months ago. That being said, there are still quite a few questions that folks want to have answered. Chief among them, 'How does this affect me?' Well, I'm glad you asked, dear reader.
For a bit of context, first, let's take a look at exactly what has changed.