Unlock your phone legally starting today.

President Obama signs phone unlocking bill into law

President Obama will today sign a bill into law that will allow American citizens to legally unlock their phones in order to take them to another cellular carrier, either in the United States or abroad. The President announced his intent to sign the bill last week. The new law is only a temporary measure, and is only valid until 2015.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed the bill last week, after it had previously been passed by the Senate, and both chambers passed the bill unanimously. The unlocking a phone while still under your carrier’s contract has been technically illegal in the United States since the beginning of last year. Now, if your phone is capable of being unlocked, and you have complied with your contract, you will be able to unlock your phone.

How do you feel now that phone unlocking is once again legal? Sound off below in the comments.

HP and designer Michael Bastian team up to produce an iOS-compatible smartwatch with a traditional look.

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The great smartwatch boom is starting to consume electronic makers and HP is not exempt. The company is partnering with designer Michael Bastian to produce its own next-gen timepiece. Hewlett-Packard’s timekeeper won’t be dedicated to a single mobile platform and will instead serve as a companion device for Android and iOS smartphones similar to how Pebble watches work.

HP’s smartwatch will have a 44mm stainless steel casing and will feature interchangeable bands available in plastic, rubber and leather. Bastian’s design is said to draw inspiration from the luxurious interiors found in high-end automobiles, which sounds kind of cool, depending on who you ask. As for the watch’s software, HP will use a multi-platform app to push emails, text messages and other notifications from your iPhone to its smartwatch. Reportedly set to launch this fall, pricing and hardware details remain unknown, but considering the direction of this particular smartwatch, specs don’t appear to be a major focal point.

iPhone 6 Said to Launch on Tuesday, October 14, Part of Incredibly Busy Month for Apple.

Apple may be planning to launch the iPhone 6 on Tuesday, October 14 as the month itself will be an incredibly busy one for the company, according to a source that spoke toMacRumors citing an internal Apple Retail Store meeting.

The source notes that a senior Store Leader mentioned October 14th as being an “immense” day for Apple, adding that the whole month of October would be very busy for stores and the company itself. Apple is also said to planning a media event for Tuesday, September 16, coming a month ahead of the device’s launch.

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4.7 and 5.5-inch iPhone 6 mockups compared to iPhone 5s

To this point, most reports have pointed to a September announcement and launch for the iPhone 6. However, a report last week claimed that Apple is planning a mid-September event for the iPhone 6 and iOS 8, which would be followed by an October event showcasing the iWatch, OS X Yosemite, new iPads, and new Macs. An announcement event for September 16 would also fall on a Tuesday, which is when Apple typically announces new products.

Apple launching the iPhone 6 on a Tuesday would be a change from past years, as the company has launched previous iPhones and most new hardware on a Friday. However, the source claims that high customer demand and an ample supply due to a large production effort will motivate Apple to start iPhone 6 sales earlier in the week.

It is unknown if an October release for the iPhone 6 would include both the 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch version, as recent rumors have pointed toward several production issues plaguing the larger model. It is possible that the 5.5-inch may launch later in the year or in 2015 after Apple can produce enough devices. In addition to a larger screen, both versions of the iPhone 6 are expected to feature a thinner profile, a faster A8 processor, and an improvedcamera.

Hilton Hotels Now Lets Your Choose Your Room With Your Phone.

Hilton Hotels is taking a page out of the airline playbook, giving users more control over the experience through their smartphone. The hotel chain has recently introduced a way for users to choose their room on their smartphone, and promises to roll out smartphone-powered door keys to the majority of their hotels by 2016.

Using the new Hilton HHonors app (yes, that name needs work) or the Hilton website, users will be able to choose their room the day before they check in. They’ll be able to see photos of the room, as well as floor plans from available inventory.

“When we decided to invest in this mobile strategy, we didn’t want to do 100 different things in a few hotels here and there,” said Geraldine Calpin SVP and Global Head of Digital at Hilton Worldwide. “We wanted to tackle a few big things and make sure they were available everywhere. That starts with Choose Your Room.”

Hilton will provide the new Choose Your Room feature, as well as mobile check-out, at almost all of its global properties. That’s over 4,000 hotels offering the ability to choose your room by the end of this year.

“When we looked at the airline industry, we saw how much people love to choose their seats, so we applied that to the hotel,” said Calpin. “In our own internal research, 84 percent of people said they would choose their room if given the option.”

Users will also be able to choose various upgrades for their room and request specific amenities to be ready when they arrive. Plus, use of the Hilton online platform allows for Uber-style checkout, sending your receipt direct to your email.

The ability to choose your room and check out via mobile is nice, but it’s only a first step. The real shift begins when Hilton, and other major hotel chains, are able to offer an entirely mobile experience. After a long flight, waiting in line to check in to your hotel can be a real pain.

Eventually, however, Hilton hopes that guests will be able to book their room, choose their room, check-in and check-out entirely from their device.

“We’ve been working for years on the technology, and now we have a solution, but we have to work on the deployment of that technology which will take some time,” said Calpin.

Still, Hilton is taking big steps towards integrating our digital lives into the travel experience the same way airlines have.

The Hilton HHonors app is available across Android, iOS and Windows Phone.

Intelligent Time Management App Timeful Launches on iOS.

Timeful, described as “the first intelligent time manager” for mobile devices, is a new iOS app designed to help users manage their lives by combining a time management app with a calendar, a to-do list, and habits. Timeful aims to provide a personalized experience that encourages people to commit to various self-improvement activities and complete goals.

The app connects to the calendar on an iOS device, importing already existing events into a daily view that includes all tasks that must be completed. It also incorporates to-do functionality, allowing users to create tasks and file them under separate colored headings like Personal, Work, Fun, and, Important. To-do tasks can be scheduled for “Today,” “Tomorrow,” “Someday in the next 7 days,” or on a specific date.

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Specific calendar events can be scheduled in much the same way, entering the task and selecting a time. One major negative of Timeful in comparison to other calendar apps is the fact that it doesn’t accept conversational input, meaning users have to manually select times and dates for calendar events.

Along with accepting calendar and to-do input, Timeful also includes a “Habits” feature that sets it apart from other time management and task apps. With Habits, users can enter frequently repeated tasks such as “Take a Walk,” selecting preferred days and times to perform the tasks, which Timeful will then work into a busy schedule. Events and habits show up directly on the calendar at scheduled times, while to-dos are listed at the top and can be completed at any time during the day.

As users complete tasks and fulfill habits, Timeful will learn more about a person’s habits, figuring out the optimal time to present each task for completion.

Timeful is the first Intelligent Time Assistant that gets things scheduled so you’ll get them done.

Timeful combines your calendars and to-do lists so you can see everything that’s competing for your time in one place. It uses sophisticated algorithms and behavioral science to suggest – based on your own available time and location – the best times to schedule to-dos and good habits throughout your day.

Timeful can be downloaded from the App Store for free. [Direct Link]

Apple iPhones allow extraction of deep personal data, researcher finds.

The exploded view of the home button which doubles as a fingerprint sensor is seen on an image of the new iPhone 5S at Apple Inc's media event in Cupertino, California September 10, 2013. REUTERS/Stephen Lam

Personal data including text messages, contact lists and photos can be extracted from iPhones through previously unpublicized techniques by Apple Inc employees, the company acknowledged this week.

The same techniques to circumvent backup encryption could be used by law enforcement or others with access to the “trusted” computers to which the devices have been connected, according to the security expert who prompted Apple’s admission.

In a conference presentation this week, researcher Jonathan Zdziarski showed how the services take a surprising amount of data for what Apple now says are diagnostic services meant to help engineers.

Users are not notified that the services are running and cannot disable them, Zdziarski said. There is no way for iPhone users to know what computers have previously been granted trusted status via the backup process or block future connections.

“There’s no way to `unpair’ except to wipe your phone,” he said in a video demonstration he posted Friday showing what he could extract from an unlocked phone through a trusted computer.

As word spread about Zdziarski’s initial presentation at the Hackers on Planet Earth conference, some cited it as evidence of Apple collaboration with the National Security Agency.

Apple denied creating any “back doors” for intelligence agencies.

“We have designed iOS so that its diagnostic functions do not compromise user privacy and security, but still provides needed information to enterprise IT departments, developers and Apple for troubleshooting technical issues,” Apple said. “A user must have unlocked their device and agreed to trust another computer before that computer is able to access this limited diagnostic data.”

But Apple also posted its first descriptions of the tools on its own website, and Zdziarski and others who spoke with the company said they expected it to make at least some changes to the programs in the future.

Zdziarski said he did not believe that the services were aimed at spies. But he said that they extracted much more information than was needed, with too little disclosure.

Security industry analyst Rich Mogull said Zdziarski’s work was overhyped but technically accurate.

“They are collecting more than they should be, and the only way to get it is to compromise security,” said Mogull, chief executive officer of Securosis.

Mogull also agreed with Zdziarski that since the tools exist, law enforcement will use them in cases where the desktop computers of targeted individuals can be confiscated, hacked or reached via their employers.

“They’ll take advantage of every legal tool that they have and maybe more,” Mogull said of government investigators.

Asked if Apple had used the tools to fulfill law enforcement requests, Apple did not immediately respond.

For all the attention to the previously unknown tools and other occasional bugs, Apple’s phones are widely considered more secure than those using Google Inc’s rival Android operating system, in part because Google does not have the power to send software fixes directly to those devices.

Unlocking your iPhone is finally going to be legal in the U.S.

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Today the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed a bill that lets customers legally unlock their cell phones and switch carriers. The same bill was passed in the Senate last week, and now President Obama is expected to sign it into law.

The process of unlocking a phone to take it to another carrier in the U.S. has been a convoluted and questionably illegal one. The “Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act” is designed to make the process easier for those looking to take phones to a different service provider. But there’s an important caveat.

The bill won’t permit you to unlock your phone mid-contract and take it from, for example, AT&T to Verizon. The goal is to restore “he Library of Congress’s former exemption so that consumers may unlock their phones after their contracts have expired.” (Emphasis added.)

That’s right, legal unlocking is only being applied to situations where the life of a carrier contract has been fulfilled and you own the phone outright. A decision by the U.S. Copyright Office in 2012 made it so you to have to ask your carrier’s permission to get your phone unlocked after your contract was up.

If this new bill is made into law, the same exemption could be applied to a broader set of devices, including tablets.