LG's 'White Card' could replace all your credit and debit cards

Remember Coin, the electronic card that promised to replace your credit cards, debit cards and rewards cards? Yeah, it was a flop, but LG is now reportedly cooking up a similar version of the all-in-one payment card.
The credit-card-like device will reportedly be called LG Pay White Card, according to a report by ETNews. Like Coin and Plastc, the White Card will be able to store several credit, debit and rewards cards.
A leaked photo of the so-called White Card (shown above) shows a card with a simple LCD to display which card is selected, as well as buttons to switch between the cards. The contacts on the left side of the card are used for charging the White Card, which requires a separate charger.
Though mobile payment platforms such as Apple Pay, Samsung Pay and Android Pay use smartphones to replace physical payment cards, LG hopes its White Card will differentiate LG Pay from the competition. The company reportedly wants to target not only smartphone users, but also less tech-savvy users like elderly customers The company reportedly wants to target not only smartphone users, but also less tech-savvy users like elderly customers who may not own a smartphone with any supported mobile payment platform.
ETNews claims the Korean electronics company has ordered 50,000 White Cards in preparation for its launch. LG announced in November it had partnered with two major Korean credit card companies — Shinhan Card and KB Kookmin Card — to launch the service in South Korea. Lotte Card, another major Korean credit card company, has also reportedly signed on with LG Pay. An unnamed source told the ETNews "most [credit card] companies will join LG Pay" by next month, though it's unclear if they are referring only to Korean credit card companies.
We're expecting to hear more about LG Pay and White Card in a few weeks at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. Mashable will be on the ground bringing you the latest in mobile news from the show.

These Smart Light Bulbs Play Music, Boost Your Wi-Fi Signal, and More

As you probably know, LED bulbs are one of history’s greatest high-tech success stories. They use around 90 percent less electricity than incandescent bulbs, yet last 25 years or more. They turn on to full brightness instantly. They remain cool to the touch. They’re hard to break, and safety-coated if they do.
They also contain electronics — which has sent clever inventors into overdrive. Since the circuitry in an LED bulb can be made very tiny, that leaves a lot of space inside to add chips that connect these bulbs to your phone and your home network. 
The smart-bulb revolution began a few years back, when companies started making bulbs that you can control with a phone app — turning on and off, dimming them, and even changing the color.
In the last few months, though, some even brighter ideas in light bulbs have heated up. Here’s what you have to look forward (or upward) to.

Light bulbs for power outages

The first SmartCharge LED bulb was a Kickstarter success story. And its technology is so amazing, you may not believe it.
At its heart, the SmartCharge 2.0 is a battery-backup bulb designed to work when your power goes out. It’s the size of a normal bulb, so you can screw it into any lamp or fixture. Compared with other smart bulbs, it’s refreshingly simple: There’s no Internet connection, app, control box, remote control, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or new wiring needed.
If the power ever goes out, the backup battery kicks in automatically; the bulb behaves exactly as it always has, for a total of 3.5 more hours of light. (The battery recharges whenever the power isn’t out.) Install a few of these, and you’ve performed your last frantic hunt in the dark for a working flashlight.
But here’s where your mind will fall apart. Read this slowly: You can still turn this bulb on and off from the wall switch, even when the power is out.

AT&T Brings Back Unlimited Data Plans For DirecTV and U-verse Subscribers

AT&T is bringing back unlimited data. The number-two wireless carrier discontinued its original unlimited plans years ago, but it’s resuscitating the all-you-can-eat option as a cross-promotion with its DirecTV and U-verse television services.
Unlimited data will cost $100 per month for a single smartphone, and you’ll be able to add additional smartphones for $40 per month each. If you bundle four smartphones on a single plan, you’ll get a credit that makes the fourth line free. That means you’ll be paying a total of $180 per month (excluding taxes and fees) for unlimited data, talk, and text on four lines. Frustratingly, you’ll have to pay the full $220 for the first two months before the credit kicks in.

Not for everyone

Before you get too excited about the new plans, note that you’ll have to be a DirecTV or U-verse subscriber to sign up for unlimited data. If you’re a cord cutter, don’t live in a U-verse market, or can’t install a DirecTV satellite dish, you’ll have to settle for a standard Mobile Share plan. However, if you do sync up your television service with your AT&T plan, you’ll also get another $10 off your bill monthly, per the company’s existing promotions.
It’s clear where the company is going here: it’s leveraging its new DirecTV acquisition and existing U-verse TV services to promote video streaming on the go. While the plan itself doesn’t bundle in specific home TV packages, it’s designed to work hand-in-hand with DirecTVand U-verse’s out-of-home streaming apps. It just so happens that watching lots of video quickly burns up your data allowance — and AT&T’s more than happy to offer an unlimited plan to fix that problem. Of course, if you’d rather just watch Netflix and use your AT&T phone separately, you’ll have to keep an eye on your data usage. Such is the power of mergers.
Assuming you’re a DirecTV or U-verse subscriber, you’ll need to take a close look at your usage to see if this unlimited plan makes sense for you. If you have four smartphones, the pricing just about lines up with the 20GB Mobile Share Value data bucket, which costs $200 per month.
That’s not too bad, but the pricing gets trickier when you factor in other internet-connected devices. Adding a tablet to the unlimited plan costs a steep $40 per month extra, compared to just $10 on a Mobile Share Value plan. AT&T notes that you can add a tablet for just $10, but it’ll only have 1GB of data to work with if you do, compared to full access to the entire data pool on a traditional shared plan. And if you still have someone using a basic cellphone on your plan, it’s probably best to avoid unlimited: adding a feature phone to the account costs $25 extra per month, compared to just $15 on the standard plans. Considering feature phones essentially don’t use data, the price hike is hard to swallow.
In addition, keep in mind that if you only have one or two heavy users on your account, there’s really no need to pay the extra to give unlimited data to every line. However, if you’re still holding onto a grandfathered unlimited plan — which requires separate charges for minutes and texts — it might make a lot of sense to upgrade to the modern unlimited plan. Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear there’s a way to upgrade a single line on a Mobile Share Value plan to unlimited.

When ‘unlimited’ isn’t

It’s fair to ask just how “unlimited” these unlimited plans are — in the past, AT&T essentially treated its grandfathered unlimited plans as soft-capped 5GB plans. After a complaint from the FCC, AT&T now gives unlimited plans unfettered access to 22GB per line. Over that limit, you’ll be subject to slowdowns if network congestion demands it.
As for the competition, most other wireless carriers no longer offer true unlimited data plans, though T-Mobile’s similar unlimited plan costs $95 per month for a single smartphone. T-Mobile also offers a separate feature designed to promote mobile video streaming, called Binge On, which doesn’t count certain, standard-definition video streams against your data cap. While it’s far more limited, T-Mobile’s approach doesn’t cost any more money to use on an existing plan. However, the service has also drawn the ire of net neutrality advocates.


Apple Recalls Some AC Power Plugs That Could 'Break and Create Risk of Electrical Shock'

Apple is recalling some of its two-prong AC wall plug adaptors designed for use in continental Europe, New Zealand, Australia, Korea, Argentina and Brazil.
These aren’t the power bricks themselves, but rather the adaptor plugs that fit into the iPad or Mac bricks. (They are frequently called “duckheads.”)
Apple says that “in very rare cases,” the adaptor plugs could “break and create a risk of electrical shock if touched.” These types of plugs have been available in various Mac and iOS products between 2003 and 2015.
Apple added that other wall plug adapters, including those designed for Canada, China, Hong Kong, Japan, United Kingdom and the United States — as well as Apple USB power adapters — are not affected.
The company created a graphic to let people know if their wall plug adaptor is affected. Newer plugs that presumably have a different type of seal include a three-letter region code inside the attachment slot.
If you own an impacted adaptor, you can exchange it at an Apple store or authorized retailer, or request a replacement online.
The recall comes a week after Microsoft voluntarily recalled overheating Surface Pro chargers. As is the case with Apple, Microsoft’s recall is for the cable that connects the power supply to the electrical socket; not the power supply itself.

JIC iPhone case will record your phone calls without an app

An easy way to record calls is finally coming to iPhone and it’s not an app, it’s a case.
Just In Case, currently on Indiegogo, is an iPhone case that records your phone conversations and stores them on a microSD card — no app or other physical device required. Just hit the record button on the back and the microphone located near the phone’s ear speaker will start recording. According to the campaign, JIC is designed for iPhone 5 and above, not including Plus models.
You can playback the MP3 files through a speaker on the case, but with only two buttons on the device — record and play — it might be too simplistic for users who want to rewind or fast forward through their recordings. There is also the option to upload the MP3 files to a computer with either the removable microSD card or with a USB cable.
Current iPhone call-recorders can be a pain to get working and often have certain limitations. The Google Voice app only records incoming calls, some apps require you to put your call on hold to merge in a third line and many recording apps require in-app purchases or charge you by the minute.
You can also get a physical recorder and use a hollow ear bud with a built-in microphone to pick up sound at your ear, but that can prove uncomfortable and requires some extra physical finagling.


JIC cases will come in multiple colors, with black, white and red silicon padding and red, yellow, green, blue, black and white plastic covers. According to the Indiegogo campaign, the cases can withstand drops of up to 10 feet and 220 pounds of pressure. The rechargeable battery lasts up to 8 hours when recording and up to a year when not in use.
The microphone can also record in-person conversations, reaching distances of up to 16 feet, according to the campaign.
If you're thinking about recording all your conversations, be wary that different countries and states have very specific recording laws. For example, New York allows phone recording if you are part of the conversation, but Illinois requires consent from all parties. You can see a breakdown of United States recording laws at the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.
If JIC is funded, the team will move into production and expects to start shipping cases in May.


China hits an Internet milestone with more than half of its population now online

China now has 688 million Internet users, a record figure. The new data for 2015 from the state’s China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) shows that’s not the only major milestone.
For the first time ever, China has more than half of its population online — 50.3% of them.
Mobile web access accounted for a record high proportion of total netizens. The country’s 620 million mobile Internet users in 2015 mean that 90.1% of all web users access it from their phones (when they’re not logging on from other devices like laptops and desktops).

china's internet users

The chart shows that China’s Internet users have nearly doubled in number since 2009. The number of people accessing the web from their phones has grown faster with the nation’s smartphone boom, more than doubling since 2010.
As huge as the numbers are, there’s still room for growth. With an estimated 73% of China’s 1.355 billion population aged 15 to 64, the country may eventually have about one billion netizens.
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This article originally published at Tech in Asia here

Chrome's new tool can help developers make websites more secure

What exactly does that little green lock that occasionally appears on your browser's address bar mean? It means security, and Chrome is making it easier for developers to see how to make their websites more secure for users.
According to a Chromium blog post, the open-source browser project that Google basesChrome off of, a new security panel will be coming to Chrome Developer Tools that gives developers a breakdown of what they need to do to earn the coveted green lock.
For users, the green lock means peace of mind — when sending over important data like payment or personal information on the Internet, the green lock ensures the data is encrypted and there are no third parties looking at your information.
On Chrome, the green lock means that a website meets certain security standards, including having a trusted server certificate, a secure and private connection, and secure subresources. The new update allows developers to view whether each of these standards is met or not, which lets them figure out how to make your information safer while browsing their site.
This security translates to an “HTTPS” instead of an “HTTP” in the URL, which signifies a secure-connection protocol over the network.
“HTTPS preserves the integrity of your website and ensures connections with your users are encrypted,” Google employees Emily Stark and Lucas Garron wrote in the blog post.
Not only does the green lock make your web-surfing safer, it factors into Google Search results. According to a 2014 blog post by Google, websites with an HTTPS protocol receive a ranking boost in search results, which further encourages developers to shoot for that green lock.
The security panel is currently available in beta for developers to check out and will be rolling out more widely in the coming days.


Loon Copter is a drone that can fly and go underwater

The first prototype of the Loon Copter was tested in early 2015; a newer iteration is a semifinalist in the UAE Drones for Good Award, a competition whose finals are held in Dubai in early February.
Possible uses for such a versatile drone are many, including reconnaissance as well as search and rescue missions. Its advantages over traditional vehicles are many; for example, it's faster than a submarine and it can easily hover over an area of interest.
There's also room for improvement. The Oakland University team says priorities include extending wireless range underwater, underwater navigation and hull redesign for more efficient diving.

In 1963, French engineer Jean Bertin presented a 1/12 scale model of his idea for an Aérotrain, a jet-propelled monorail train which would float on a cushion of air to eliminate friction and allow for unprecedented speeds.
Bertin built four prototypes of his Aérotrain, from a half-scale, 30-foot version with room for four passengers, to a full-sized, 75-foot version with a car for 80 passengers.
In 1974, the latter prototype, the Aérotrain I80, set a world speed record for overland air cushion vehicles, reaching a mean speed of 259.5 miles per hour and a peak speed of 267.4 miles per hour.
Plans were made and contracts were signed for the Aérotrain to enter service in the Paris area, but when funding dried up and Bertin died in 1975, the project was scrapped, leaving miles of elevated test tracks abandoned in several locations in France.
The Aérotrain was a forerunner to modern maglev (magnetic levitation) trains, which use magnets to float above the rails and reach speeds of up to 270 miles per hour.


Jaguar has a new wildcat: The 200-mph F-TYPE SVR

Jaguar announced Tuesday evening that it will be unveiling the 200-mph F-TYPE SVR at the Geneva Motor Show in March.
The car will take the uproariousness of the F-TYPE and turn it up to — not 11, that's too few — let's say 37.
Either way you slice it, the wildcat will do 200 mph and 0 to 60 mph somewhere in the realm of 3 seconds (not official — my approximation).



Delightfully, it won't be a wild concept car or anything like that. Rather, Jaguar will send it to dealerships — in both coupe and convertible form — and into the garages of some very lucky and well-heeled buyers this summer.
Another thing about the SVR aside from its blistering speed, stunning paint job and raucous exhaust note will be its daily usability.

Google Glass disappears from Twitter and Facebook

It was a good run, Google Glass. An early wearable technology sensation, you were on nerdy heads everywhere and had even managed to invade less geeked-out spaces like fashion runways, TV shows and even movie premieres.
But that was a long time and many memes ago. Google has rolled up and packed away much of the Glass consumer program, and on Tuesday it euthanized most of its Google Glass social accounts, including Twitter and Facebook. The action was first spotted by 9to5Google and confirmed by Mashable when we checked the accounts and found that not only were they dead, Google had cleaned them out.
The move comes almost three years after Twitter first built Twitter for Glass, a Google Glass app that let you tweet text directly from the headset. Google also appears to have shuttered its Google Glass accounts on Google+ and Instagram.
Google Glass for consumers may be dead, but Google is, apparently, still hard at work onGoogle Glass 2.0. At least that's what everyone believed after Google posted a series of images on the Federal Communication Commission web site late last year. They depict a slightly redesigned Glass body, but there's no detail on how this version will attach to your head. Most believe that whatever Google does with future versions of Google Glass, it'll continue to target business and enterprise, where the company had the most success with the original Google Glass.
In the meantime, Google Glass' social presence and whatever Google shared with the world about it ambitious wearable are little more than a memory, pretty much like Google Glass itself.


How Cortana solves the issue of 'lost in translation' for small business owners

What do you do when your biggest goal turns into your worst nightmare?
For small business owners, international growth is one of the major markers of success — proving their business model is strong enough to be effective on a larger, more diverse audience. But taking a company abroad also comes with some challenges that can quickly derail the fantasy of global expansion.
What cultural customs does your brand need to respect? What's the currency exchange rate? What's the time-zone difference? What's the prevailing language, and if not your own, how do you deliver your brand promise and values in a way that is meaningful to the new consumer?
In the absence of hiring a (costly) global business consultant, these questions — and a laundry list of others just like them— can easily get lost in translation.
That's where Cortana can help.
Now available on all Windows 10-enabled devices and laptops, Cortana is the genius companion you never had.
Of course, she didn't study at the London School of Economics, but Cortana has the perfect set of skills to work alongside small business owners in pursuit of lean yet effective growth.

A worldly personal assistant

Cortana is great at retrieving and processing information. So instead of wasting time searching the Internet for the currency of Brazil or shipping regulations in Russia, users can simply ask Cortana a question and she'll comb the Internet to find the best answer. Cortana can also make web browsing easier: Now featured within the Edge browser, Cortana can quickly make sense of any unfamiliar words or concepts with a simple click.
With Cortana's help, researching the intricacies of new, international markets doesn't have to be as daunting as they might be.
What's more, like any great assistant, Cortana helps users manage their busy lives. So when a small business owner is tracking shipments across the Pacific, Cortana will make sure he stays on top of the business back home — like making sure he gets to his 3 o'clock meeting with investors, or reminding him to update the company website.

Parlez vous… everything?

But perhaps the biggest challenge with setting up and running an international business — more than being time intensive — is the communication gap that can exist between stakeholders. Whether the task at hand is coaching members of a satellite branch, answering customer service queries or retrofitting the brand promise for the new audience, there is truly no substitute for quick, effective translation.
Luckily, thanks to Microsoft Translator integration, Cortana can speak many languages.
Microsoft Translator is a real-time translation platform that has already been adopted by Skype and several multinational companies like LinkedIn and Adobe. And now, it's available at the touch of a button for Windows 10 users.
Translator is especially useful with Cortana because of her voice command capability — so instead of typing out a word or phrase (although you can do that too), users can issue translation commands as spoken questions and receive immediate answers.

Ready to take on the world?

For a globally-minded small business owner, it's hard to beat the wide range of benefits that Cortana can bring to the table. Combining advanced personal assisting with real-time translation, Cortana is the ultimate international business partner.