Mobile

Cash-rich Vodafone is keen on becoming India’s largest mobile carrier by buying out Tata Teleservices, according to a report in the Economic Times. Vodafone is currently the number two player, not far behind Bharti Airtel (155 million subscribers to Airtel’s 196 million), and Tata DoCoMo is around sixth place with 90 million subscribers. However, according to the report, Japan’s NTT DoCoMo – Tata Teleservices’ partner – has the right of first refusal for Tata’s majority stake in the venture. If NTT doesn’t want to buy out Tata, Tata could potentially force NTT to sell out alongside it. Vodafone declined my request for comment.

Got a new or replacement Surface Pro 2 from Microsoft to kick off the new year? Check the chip inside and you may find a holiday treat in the form of a slightly faster Intel Core i5 processor. In a statement to The Verge, Microsoft confirmed what at least one Microsoft Surface community forum member noticed in his replacement device: A 1.9 GHz Core i5 4300 chip in place of the 1.6 GHz Core i5 4200. On Microsoft’s Surface Pro 2 product page, the exact chip is never specified; instead, the company says its tablet comes with a “4th generation Intel Core i5 Processor.”

Apparently this woman’s worth was not quite enough for BlackBerry. Just a year after being named global creative director by former CEO Thorsten Heins, BlackBerry has announced that it will be parting ways with R&B singer Alicia Keys come January 30, according to CTV News. Just how directly Keys was involved with BlackBerry isn’t clear, though arguably the biggest news out of her tenure came when she allegedly sent out a tweet from her iPhone, which she claims was hacked. There’s no word on whether BlackBerry is looking for a replacement, but somewhere, Ashanti waits in hope.

In a move that should spur sales, Motorola started 2014 by dropping the cost of its Moto X handset to $399 without a contract. The deal was announced on Wednesday morning and applies to all carriers as well as Moto Maker custom phones. While some thought the Android phone was overpriced at launch for the hardware that it offered, I think the experience and features make up for any lacking components. Regardless, the issue of cost is less of one now that the new year has started with a price reduction for the Moto X.

The NSA developed a tool 6 years ago to let it attack the then-new iPhone, according to documents from that time, revealed on Monday by journalist Jacob Appelbaum and Der Spiegel. The tool, DROPOUTJEEP, gave the agency “the ability to remotely push/pull files from the device, SMS retrieval, contact list retrieval, voicemail, geolocation, hot mic, camera capture, cell tower location, etc.” Other documents also published on Monday describe software implants for extracting phonebook, SMS, call log and geolocation information from SIM cards, as well as for targeting the now-defunct Windows Mobile OS. Der Spiegel said in September that the NSA could hack into iPhones, as well as Android and BlackBerry devices.

Google and Audi are gearing up to reveal a partnership at the Consumer Electronics Show next week, according to the Wall Street Journal. The tie-in would see the creation of infotainment systems, based on Android, that rival Apple’s upcoming iOS in the Car feature. This fits well with an EE Times report earlier in December that said Google would launch an industry consortium around such technology at CES, using Miracast to wirelessly screencast Android apps from the phone to the in-car screen.

BlackBerry’s troubles are generally well-known by now, yet that doesn’t stop some for clinging on to their precious ‘Berry. You can literally see that on a CrackBerry forum where people post sightings of people — typically, famous but not always — with their beloved BlackBerry handset. The New York Times notes that these folks are a “dying, but not dead, breed” of smartphone user and suggests that for some, BlackBerry still retains some status as used by those who favor work as compared to users of iPhones and Android devices.

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