Verizon Wireless Price Increase Shocker: A $12 Monthly Bump On Shared Data Plans—The Telecom That Reported $22 Billion In 2021 Profits Says Its An ‘Economic Adjustment’ To Keep Up With ‘Rising Operational Costs’

Many Verizon Wireless customers have been infuriated after receiving notification from the telecom that their monthly bill for data will go up as much as $12 due to “rising operational costs.” 

Of course, price increases are part of the telecom business shell game, but they typically heat the proverbial waters around the ol‘ lobster by marginal increments — such as the $1.35 “economic adjustment” fee increase applied by Verizon this month to its postpaid customers for “administrative cost” increases. 

But consumers will definitely feel 12 bucks.

Verizon’s move follows a very similar price bump announced earlier this month by AT&T — single-line-of-service customers got a $6-a-month increase, while AT&T shared data customers saw a monthly surge of $12.

Verizon said its increase will take effect “no sooner” than August 2.

Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg raised the possibility of such a price bump during his company’s first-quarter earnings report, suggesting something simply had to be done to keep up with inflationary pressure. (He didn’t mention any adjustments to his own executive compensation, which exceeded $20 million last year.)

Thanks, Obama?

Blaming the current administration for inflation has been a go-to messaging point for far-right media outlets as they propagandize for the November midterm elections. And that agenda seems to be catching on, based on President Joe Biden’s currently low approval ratings. But increasingly, it appears that corporate greed might be a principal driver for the current upward price pressure we’re all experiencing.

study by the Economic Policy Institute published in April found that more than half of the overall increase in consumer pricing can be attributed to initiatives intended to drive “fatter corporate profits.”

Source: NextTV

Nikon Exiting The DSLR Market To Focus On Mirrorless Models

Japanese camera maker Nikon will withdraw from the single-lens reflex camera business and shift toward digital offerings amid intensifying competition from smartphone cameras, Nikkei has learned.

Nikon’s SLR cameras have been widely used by professional photographers for more than 60 years and have come to be seen as synonymous with the Japanese company.

It now plans to focus resources on mirrorless cameras, which have become mainstream products on the back of more advanced digital technologies.

Nikon’s cameras have been losing out to smartphones, which increasingly feature powerful cameras. Nikon aims to beat them by offering products with more unique features.

Since June 2020, when Nikon launched its flagship D6 SLR, no new SLR models have been released. The company has already stopped development of compact digital cameras.

From now on, Nikon intends to focus on digital mirrorless cameras, but production and distribution of existing SLR models will continue.

Nikon is the second largest SLR maker after Canon. An SLR camera uses a mirror to reflect an image the photographer sees through the viewfinder.

Nikon dates from 1917 and adopted the company name in 1946. It released its first SLR in 1959, and has long been held in high esteem by professional photographers and journalists. It made its name offering top quality alternatives to German makes such as Leica that once dominated the market.

By the late 1990s, Nikon had made the switch to digital SLRs. Last year, it sold more than 400,000 SLRs, competing head to head with global leader Canon. SLRs are also produced by Ricoh under the brand Pentax.

Mirrorless cameras have a different viewing system and use image sensors that convert light into electrical signals. Like SLRs, they can accept interchangeable lenses that offer much more range than the fixed focal lengths used in most smartphone cameras. A feature of Nikon cameras has been the F-mount introduced in 1959. It has always allowed photographers to use a wide range of old lenses on recent SLRs.

Shipments of mirrorless cameras overtook SLRs for the first time in 2020 with 2.93 million and 2.37 million units shipped respectively, according to Japan’s Camera & Imaging Products Association.

There has been an overall decline, however. The combined market peaked at 11.67 million cameras in 2017, but had fallen to 5.34 million by 2021.

The dramatic falloff has forced Nikon to focus on the segment that still has potential to grow. In 2021, the market for mirrorless cameras expanded 31% to 324.5 billion yen, even as that for SLR cameras dropped 6% to 91.2 billion yen.

Mirrorless cameras have powerful capabilities. Artificial intelligence provides facial and pupil recognition. They can also identify animals, vehicles and objects. 

The Nikon Z9, released last year, can shoot 120 images per second — more than ten times faster that most SLRs without the wear and tear of a moving mirror. This makes them ideal for sports and wildlife photography. Mirrorless cameras are lighter, smaller and virtually silent. 

Mirrorless cameras have also been coming down in price to below 100,000 yen ($730), which is less than comparable SLRs.

With enhanced viewfinders and less lag, the quicker image processing helps photographers in fast-moving situations. 

Mirrorless cameras already account for half the revenue from Nikon’s imaging products business, compared with about 30% for SLRs. In the year ending in March, sales of imaging products totaled 178.2 billion yen, or 33% of total group revenues.

Rival Canon also plans to follow Nikon and stop producing flagship SLR models within a few years. 

Source: Nikkei Asia

EU Deal Will Force iPhones To Use USB-C Charger By 2024

Products from Apple and other smartphone manufacturers will have to use the same charger under a landmark deal provisionally approved by European lawmakers on Tuesday, bringing years of debate to a close and overriding the tech giant’s complaints that such regulation would hamper innovation and harm consumers. 

By Fall 2024, all mobile phones, tablets and cameras sold in the European Union must be equipped with the same USB-C charging port for wired charging, according to a provisional agreement announced by European lawmakers

The requirement—a world first—will apply to a string of devices including smartphones, headphones, e-readers, handheld gaming consoles, portable speakers and tablets “regardless of their manufacturer” and will also ensure charging speed is “harmonized” for devices that support fast charging.

Laptop makers must also comply, though they will have an additional 40 months after the new rules come into force to make the change. 

Thierry Breton, the EU’s Commissioner for the Internal Market, celebrated the new rules as a win for consumers and an important step towards reducing e-waste, according to Bloomberg.

Given the number of electronic devices used every day, having “a common charger” is also “common sense,” Breton added. 

The legislation, which has been negotiated within EU institutions for years, still needs formal approval from the European Parliament and European Council, which it is expected to secure later this year. 

Key Background: The European Union has long sought to standardize electronic charging but for a decade has struggled to overcome the political barriers and opposition needed to do so. Such rules would slash e-waste, save money and be far better for consumers, who the bloc says are “frustrated” with “incompatible chargers piling up.” U.S. tech giant Apple, which has invested in its own “Lightning” connector and resisted moving to the technologies used by other smartphone makers, has been a particularly fierce opponent, arguing that standardization would harm consumers and stifle innovation. 

What To Watch For: Wireless charging. The rules on standardized charger ports only apply to devices using wired charging, the EU said, meaning those only charging wirelessly will not have to include a USB-C port. However, the legislation will also allow the European Commission to develop standards for wireless charging in the future as it becomes more prevalent, according to the press release.

Big Number: $312 million (250 million euros). That’s how much money is wasted every year on unnecessary charger purchases in the EU, according to the European Council. There is also around 11,000 tonnes of waste produced every year from unused or thrown away chargers and cables, the bloc said.

Source: Forbes

New York City Removes Its Last Payphone From Service In Favor Of High-Speed Wi-Fi Kiosks To Meet Daily Communication Needs

It’s the end of an era: New York City removed its last public payphone on Monday.

The boxy enclosures were once an iconic symbol across the city. But the rise of cellphones made the booths obsolete.

The effort to replace public pay telephones across the city kicked off in 2014 when the de Blasio administration solicited proposals to reimagine the offering, the city’s Office of Technology and Innovation said in a news release.

Officials selected CityBridge to develop and operate LinkNYC kiosks, which offer services such as free phone calls, Wi-Fi and device charging. The city began removing street payphones in 2015 to replace them with the LinkNYC kiosks.

There are nearly 2,000 kiosks across the city, according to a map from LinkNYC.

“Just like we transitioned from the horse and buggy to the automobile and from the automobile to the airplane, the digital evolution has progressed from payphones to high-speed Wi-Fi kiosks to meet the demands of our rapidly changing daily communications needs,” Commissioner Matthew Fraser said in the release.

The last public pay telephone will be displayed at the Museum of the City of New York as part of an exhibit looking back at life in the city before computers.

Source: CNBC

Apple Shows Off Surreal Photo Collages That Were Shot And Edited On iPhone

Apple’s long-running Shot on iPhone campaign has now entered a dreamlike realm, where all imaginations are attainable with the right mindset… or app.

The Cupertino giant has commissioned Melbourne graphic designer Gaia Barnatan, who goes by the alias Liquid Pink, to transform eight photos—shot on an iPhone, of course—into four surreal compositions. 

Here, ordinary objects like a burnt matchstick and a strawberry aren’t so predictable anymore when juxtaposed against stunning skies.

According to 9to5Mac, the artist created these photo fusions on the Bazaart app, which enables easy double-exposure shots like these ones, thanks to its magic background eraser and capacity for 100 photo layers (or five video layers).

Your camera roll doesn’t always have to be filled with food photos and screenshots.

Source: DesignTAXI

NYC Robbery Crew Used Apple Watch To Track And Rob Drug Dealers For Over $500K

Feds capture NYC robbery crew, who robbed drug dealers for upwards of $500,000 using a hidden Apple Watch.

New York has seen its fair share of smart criminals and masterminds who’ve gone undetected for years until they slipped up and caused their own downfall. From white collar crime to straight up armed robbery, anything can go down in NYC, but every criminal has a plan and plots like a scene out of a heist movie.

Hollywood has made billions taking these stories and turning them into big screen blockbusters, and according to The New York Post, there is a new story that could be a contender for the big screen. The scenario involves 7 men robbing drug dealers instead of regular citizens, making for an interesting situation.

A New York robbery crew that targeted drug runners hit the jackpot late last year, netting $500,000 in cash after tracking a targeted criminal’s car — with a hidden Apple Watch, new court documents show.

The seven-person crew based in the Hudson Valley pulled off the major score in January 2020 after their alleged leader, 30-year-old Darren Lindsay, bought an Apple Watch and linked it to his AT&T account, according to federal prosecutors in papers filed Tuesday.

The thieves put the watch underneath the bumper of a car that belonged to a drug-runner they suspected was flush with cash, the documents say.

The group was taken into custody in July for a string of robberies over the past three years. Authorities say the group made away with over $500,000 in their efforts and even posted with the cash on social media.

This may seem harmless due to the fact they were robbing drug and cash runners, but it’s far from a Robinhood story. Keep in mind, if you’re robbing big time dealers, the feds are already probably investigating them and now you’re on their radar which never ends well. While the plan was smart, as always, the clout and posting on social media was their ultimate downfall. Just imagine how far they could have gotten if they kept it to themselves.

Source: Bossip

Pregnant Man And Multiracial Handshake Emojis Unveiled Before Launch

A pregnant man, a multiracial handshake and a face that cannot bear to watch are some of the emojis that will hit devices over the next year, according to a draft list published by the Unicode Consortium, which approves icons for use.

The new emojis, illustrated by Emojipedia to celebrate World Emoji Day on Saturday, all but complete the consortium’s drive to offer masculine, feminine and gender-neutral versions of every available emoji, as well as a selection of skintones.

Trans and non-binary pregnancies will now be represented in the emoji set, thanks to two new gender options for the “pregnant woman” emoji, while “person with crown” joins “prince” and “princess” for gender-neutral royalty.

The additions, which follow a similar update to the “bearded person” emoji that allowed users to choose between a masculine and feminine bearded face, “will mean that nearly all emojis can have default a gender-neutral option, with choice to use a woman or man where relevant”. said Jeremy Burge, the chief emoji officer of the reference site Emojipedia.

A few emojis remain without a gender-neutral option, largely in cases where it is unclear what an appropriate gender-neutral approach entails. The two dancer emojis, for instance, depict a male disco dancer and a female flamenco dancer: options under discussion include offering identically attired versions of each for other genders (allowing men to depict themselves dazzling in a red dress, for instance); offering gender-appropriate alternatives (with a new male flamenco dancer); or, the preferred option, deciding on a dancing style to offer in a gender-neutral version. Emojipedia has suggested breakdancing.

Elsewhere, the draft list contains support for handshakes between two hands with different skintones, hands making a heart-shape, and additional faces, such as “peeking eye”, “holding back tears” and “saluting”. There are also 20 new icons, including coral, a playground slide, a crutch, an X-ray and an empty battery.

Source: The Guardian

Facebook Accused Of Watching Instagram Users Through Their Phone Cameras

Facebook Inc. is again being sued for allegedly spying on Instagram users, this time through the unauthorized use of their mobile phone cameras.

The lawsuit springs from media reports in July that the photo-sharing app appeared to be accessing iPhone cameras even when they weren’t actively being used.

Facebook denied the reports and blamed a bug, which it said it was correcting, for triggering what it described as false notifications that Instagram was accessing iPhone cameras.

In the complaint filed Thursday in federal court in San Francisco, New Jersey Instagram user Brittany Conditi contends the app’s use of the camera is intentional and done for the purpose of collecting “lucrative and valuable data on its users that it would not otherwise have access to.”

By “obtaining extremely private and intimate personal data on their users, including in the privacy of their own homes,” Instagram and Facebook are able to collect “valuable insights and market research,” according to the complaint.

Facebook declined to comment.

Source: Bloomberg

Apple Tweaks Mask-Wearing Emoji To Look Friendlier In The COVID-19 Era

Yep, the ‘Face with Medical Mask’ emoji has become an unlikely symbol of everyday life for 2020, meaning it’s no longer relevant just for those working in clinical settings – and now it’s had an upgrade.

Following its newfound fame, Apple has recently updated the face so that it looks a little more cheerful, to show that wearing a mask is no bad thing.

The new version of the emoji comes with Apple’s new mobile operating system, iOS 14.2, which is currently in beta stage and expected to release in late October or early November 2020.

Before, the emoji had exasperated downturned eyes, and looked a bit sorry for itself. But after its makeover, the face not only has cheerful blushing cheeks, but its happy eyes imply there’s even a smile going on under that covering.

Source: LADbible