Why Bluetooth Remains an Unusually Painful Technology After Two Decades

In the two decades since it was first included in products available to the general public, Bluetooth has become so widespread that an entire generation of consumers may not be able to remember a time without it.

ABI Research estimates that 5 billion Bluetooth-enabled devices will ship to consumers this year, with that figure expected to rise to 7 billion by 2026. Bluetooth is now in everything from smartphones to refrigerators to lightbulbs, allowing a growing number of products to connect to each other seamlessly — sometimes.

Despite its pervasiveness, the technology is still prone to headache-inducing issues, whether it’s the struggle to set up a new device to connect with, switching headphones between devices or simply being too far out of range to connect.

“I have a very love-hate relationship with Bluetooth,” said Chris Harrison, a professor of Human-Computer Interaction at Carnegie Melon University. “Because when it works, it’s amazing, and when it doesn’t, you want to rip your hair out.”

“The promise was to make it as seamless and easy as possible,” he said. “Bluetooth never quite got there, unfortunately.”

The reasons for this go back to the very foundation of the relatively low-cost technology.

The rise of Bluetooth

Bluetooth is said to borrow its name from a ninth-century Scandinavian king, Harald “Blue tooth” Gormsson, who was known for his blueish-gray dead tooth and also for uniting Denmark and Norway in 958 AD. Early programmers adopted “Bluetooth” as a code name for their wireless tech that connects local devices, and it eventually stuck.

The technology was differentiated from Wi-Fi by being “inherently short range,” Harrison said. It’s still the case today that the Bluetooth options many consumers are accustomed to in their phones and portable speakers function at lower power and can only connect at limited distances.

Bluetooth signals travel over unlicensed airwaves, which are effectively open to the public for anyone to use, as opposed to privatized airwaves that are controlled by companies like AT&T or Verizon. This may have eased its development and broader adoption, but it came at a cost.

Bluetooth must share and compete with a slew of other products using unlicensed spectrum bands, such as baby monitors, TV remotes, and more. This may generate interference that can disrupt your Bluetooth’s effectiveness.

Harrison cites other reasons why Bluetooth can be “unusually painful,” including cybersecurity issues that can arise when transmitting data wirelessly.

If you set up a Bluetooth speaker in your New York apartment building, for example, you wouldn’t want just anyone within a 50-feet radius to be able to connect to it. But manufacturers never settled on a seamless “discovery mode” process, Harrison said.

“Sometimes the device will start up automatically and be in this, ‘I’m ready to pair mode,'” he added. “Sometimes you have to click some kind of alien sequence to get the device into this particular mode.”

More than that, multiple U.S. government agencies have advised consumers that using Bluetooth risks leaving their devices more vulnerable to cybersecurity risks. The Federal Communications Commission has warned that, as with Wi-Fi connections, “Bluetooth can put your personal data at risk if you are not careful.”

At least one high-profile government official is said to be a Bluetooth skeptic: Vice President Kamala Harris. In the much-watched video of Harris congratulating President-elect Joe Biden after the election (“We did it, Joe!“), she can be seen holding a clump of wired headphones in her hands. According to Politico, Harris “has long felt that Bluetooth headphones are a security risk.”

But businesses and consumers continue to embrace Bluetooth. Apple, perhaps most prominently, ditched traditional headphone ports and introduced its popular Bluetooth-enabled wireless earbuds, AirPods. Other tech companies have since rolled out similar products.

Some diehard audiophiles, the sort of people “who complain about Spotify not being high-quality enough,” as Harrison puts it, also refuse to embrace the world of Bluetooth headphones for sound quality reasons.

Despite its flaws, Harrison doesn’t see demand for Bluetooth dying down and admits he himself uses it seamlessly — some “70% of the time.”

“Bluetooth hasn’t seen its pinnacle yet,” Harrison said, predicting the widespread adoption of the Internet of Things, or smart devices, working together in close range will only add to its growth. “Bluetooth will be the glue that connects that all together.”

By:

Source: Why Bluetooth remains an ‘unusually painful’ technology after two decades

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‘Unprecedented’ Water Levels Threatening Hydropower Generation In The West

The nation’s second-largest reservoir, Lake Powell, is continuing to dry up, placing water supplies and power generation in the West in potentially dire straits.

Lake Powell is an artificial lake in the middle of the Colorado River on the border between Arizona and Utah. Created in 1963 after the construction of the Glen Canyon Dam, the lake has become a critical source of hydropower and water for the West.

Now, for the first time, the water levels at the lake are threatening to dip below 3,525 feet in elevation, a critical elevation marker, with water levels dropping a full 45 feet in the past year.A boat cruises along Lake Powell near Page, Ariz., on July 31, 2021. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)

The critical elevation provides 35 feet of buffer before we reach our minimum power pool elevation where Glen Canyon Dam can no longer generate hydropower, ” said Heather Patno, a hydrologic engineer for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.

Levels are expected to be below the target elevation for a few weeks before rebounding in April due to snowmelt from mountains along the Colorado River Basin. Hydropower generation is not expected to be affected this spring, but it is possible that the reservoir’s level will dip to critically low levels again in the summer.

“We’re talking about multiple seasons of well-below-average rain and snow that have kind of gotten us to this point, coupled with exceptionally high temperatures which we attribute to regional warming from global warming, ” said Justin Mankin, an assistant geography professor at Dartmouth College and a co-lead at NOAA’s drought task force.

Water conservation measures will likely need to be implemented, something that Mankin says will hit farmers in the West first. As drought conditions continue to build, farmers may be asked to limit their water usage, something which makes growing crops more difficult.

“These are unprecedented times, and these decisions are not taken lightly, and we’re aware of the impacts it has to the Colorado Basin, where there’s 40 million people within the basin,” Patno said.

While water cuts might be necessary to sustain the water supply this year, Mankin believes that the continued drought in the West indicates that more structural solutions might be needed in the future.

A current look at drought conditions in the Western United States as of March 10, 2022.

One peer-reviewed study published recently in the journal Nature Climate Change found that the western United States and parts of northern Mexico are experiencing their driest period in at least 1,200 years, with some calling the unprecedented period of dryness a “megadrought.”

“This drought is indicating we need a structural orientation of our management of water in the West,” Mankin said. “What does it mean for the West to be in an exceptional drought, that is, a drought without exception, every year?”

For the latest weather news check back on AccuWeather.com. Watch the AccuWeather Network on DIRECTVFrontierSpectrumfuboTVPhilo, and Verizon Fios. AccuWeather Now is now available on your preferred streaming platform.

By Zachary Rosenthal

Source: https://www.msn.com

.

Critics:

Drought contingency plans define the 3,525-foot mark as a significant “target elevation” for the reservoir, under which the situation becomes dire. As of Thursday, Lake Powell had fallen to just over 3,526 feet in elevation, which is just over 24% of capacity and less than two feet away from the critical level.

“We’re kind of in some uncharted territory, socially and economically,” Justin Mankin, assistant professor of geography at Dartmouth College and co-lead of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Drought Task Force, told CNN. “It’s totally within reason to expect that the next couple of weeks or so for [Lake Powell] to fall below the critical level.”

Lake Powell’s plunging water level threatens Glen Canyon Dam’s capacity to produce hydropower, much like Lake Mead and Hoover Dam. Glen Canyon Dam provides power for many states including Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, and Nebraska.

The 3,525-foot target is crucial because it allows a 35-foot buffer for emergency response to prevent Lake Powell from dropping below the minimum pool elevation of 3,490 feet above sea level, the lowest at which Glen Canyon Dam is able to generate hydropower.

Lake Powell and nearby Lake Mead, the nation’s largest reservoir, have drained at an alarming rate in the last year. In August, the federal government declared a water shortage on the Colorado River for the first time after Lake Mead’s water level plunged to unprecedented lows, triggering mandatory water consumption cuts for states in the Southwest which began in January.

The significance of the dwindling supply in the two reservoirs, fed by the Colorado River watershed, cannot be overstated. Water flowing down the Colorado River fills both Powell and Mead, which are part of a river system supplying more than 40 million people living across seven Western states and Mexico. Both reservoirs provide a critical supply of drinking water and irrigation for many across the region, including rural farms, ranches and native communities.

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Uber, Facebook, Instagram and Other Apps That are Slowly Killing Your Smartphone

Uber, Facebook, Instagram and other apps that are slowly killing your smartphone

What is the first thing you do when you launch a new smartphone ? Download all the apps you need, of course. After a few hours (or days) downloading applications, your entry menu ends up covered in colorful squares, giving you the satisfaction that you have everything: apps for social networks, transport, dating, online commerce, for video conferencing and fitness, for name the most popular.

However, recent research found that many of them are slowly killing your smartphone. The pCloud company, which offers cloud storage services, conducted a study to discover which applications are most demanding for our mobile devices.

The research looked at 100 of the most popular apps based on three criteria: the features each app uses (such as location or camera), the battery consumption, and whether dark mode is available. Thus they found which of these not only drain the battery of our phone, they also occupy the most memory and make it slower.

These are the apps classified as ‘smartphone killers’

According to the study, the Fitbit and Verizon apps turned out to be the biggest ‘smartphone killers. Both allow 14 of the 16 available functions to run in the background, including the four most demanding: camera, location, microphone and WiFi connection. This earned them the highest score in the study: 92.31%.

Of the 20 most demanding applications for mobile battery, 6 are social networks . Facebook , Instagram , Snapchat , Youtube , WhatsApp, and LinkedIn allow 11 functions to run in the background, such as photos, WiFi, location, and microphone. Of these, only IG allows dark mode to save up to 30% battery, just like Twitter , which did not enter the top 20.

Dating apps Tinder , Bumble and Grinder account for 15% of the top 20 most demanding apps. On average, they allow 11 functions to run in the background and none have a dark mode.

In terms of the amount of memory they require, travel and transportation apps dominated the list. The United Airlines app is the one that consumes the most storage on the phone, as it requires 437.8 MB of space. Lyft follows with 325.1 MB and then Uber , which occupies 299.6 MB.

Among the video conferencing apps, Microsoft Teams is the one that consumes the most memory, occupying 232.2 MB of space. In comparison, Zoom only requires 82.1 MB and Skype 111.2 MB.

The 20 apps that wear out your phone the most

The top 20 of the most demanding applications, based on the functions they execute and all the activity they generate, was as follows:

  1. Fitbit – 92%
  2. Verizon – 92%
  3. Uber – 87%
  4. Skype – 87%
  5. Facebook – 82%
  6. AirB & B – 82%
  7. BIGO LIVE – 82%
  8. Instagram – 79%
  9. Tinder – 77%
  10. Bumble – 77%
  11. Snapchat – 77%
  12. WhatsApp – 77%
  13. Zoom – 77%
  14. YouTube – 77%
  15. Booking – 77%
  16. Amazon – 77%
  17. Telegram – 77%
  18. Grinder – 72%
  19. Likke – 72%
  20. LinkedIn – 72%

Among the 50 applications that kill the battery and memory of the phone are also Twitter (no. 25), Shazam (30), Shein (31), Spotify (32), Pinterest (37), Amazon Prime (38), Netflix (40), TikTok (41), Duolingo (44) and Uber Eats (50).

If you are already considering doing a general cleaning of apps, you can consult the complete list here .

By: Entrepreneur en Español / Entrepreneur Staff

Source: Uber, Facebook, Instagram and other apps that are slowly killing your smartphone

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Our smartphones have become such an integral part of our lives that we can’t imagine life without it. Just like any object, phones are also subjected to wear and tear as well as our mishandling. Here are some things that you should stop if you want to prolong your phone’s life.

Draining your phone’s battery
Most smartphones have lithium-ion batteries with limited life cycles. If you’re constantly draining your phone to 1% before charging, it reduces the battery’s life cycles.

Exposing your phone to drastic temperatures
We understand that your phone can’t be left in your bag or pocket all the time. However, don’t leave it out in temperatures below 0 and above 35 degrees celsius as permanent damages may be done to the handset.

Maxing out your storage
Your phone needs extra storage space in order for the operating system to continue functioning. Maxing out your storage causes your phone to lag or crash. Avoid this by backing up your phone’s content regularly to either your computer or cloud storage.

Leaving your phone in the shower
Doesn’t a nice hot shower feels good at the end of the day? Not so much for your phone. Steam can seep into your phone and condense into water, which may short circuit the hardware.

Constantly dropping your phone
No matter how good the protective casing your phone is in, dropping it constantly will affect its internal hardware. Be thankful if it’s just a cracked screen; more often than not, the damages are more serious than that.

Too many background apps
Is it really necessary to keep Candy Crush, Facebook, Instagram, Calendar and Whatsapp all opened at the same time? This causes your phone to dedicate extra RAM to these apps and drains your battery.

Not turning your phone off
Like humans, your phone also needs a break once in a while. Leaving it on 24/7 can shorten the lifespan of the battery and decrease its performance.

Overnight charging
Most smartphones are clever enough to cut off the power supply to the battery once it’s fully charged. However, lithium-ion batteries don’t fare well against high heats. When you leave your phone plugged in overnight, especially with the casing on, overheating can occur and decrease the battery life.

Relying on cellular data
If you’re only using 3G/4G for internet connectivity, think again. Connecting to Wi-Fi consumes less energy than data network which helps make your battery lasts longer.

Cleaning your phone with household products
There’s a reason why cleaning agents exist specifically for phones. The chemicals in your household bleach or detergent can damage the protective layer often found on your phone’s screen.

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Six Questions You Should Ask Before Choosing A New Cellphone Company

Thinking about switching wireless providers? We highlighted some of the most important things to consider while making your decision.

Whether you’re looking for a cheaper phone plan, a great deal on a new phone or just better coverage where you live, switching cellphone providers presents a great chance to step up your phone game.  

Unfortunately, wading through all the marketing buzzwords in cellphone plans can feel like the least fun kind of homework. To make things simple, we broke down the process into the six most important questions you should consider before switching.

Should I go with a prepaid plan?

If you’re looking to save money with your new carrier, prepaid carriers have some of the cheapest phone plans you’ll find anywhere. This means that you’ll pay for your monthly bill upfront instead of after the fact. Many carriers also offer some decent discounts if you prepay for multiple months at a time. 

This is one of the best ways to save money on a cellphone plan. Here are a few popular phone plans, along with the money you’d save by switching to a cheaper prepaid plan:

PlanMajor carrier planCheaper planYearly savings
Four lines of unlimited dataVerizon Get More Unlimited ($220/mo.)Total Wireless ($100/mo.)$1,440
One line of unlimited dataT-Mobile Magenta Plus ($85/mo.)Mint Mobile ($30/mo.)$660
One line of 2GBAT&T ($35/mo.)Tello ($14/mo.)$252
One line of 5GBVerizon ($40/mo.)Boost Mobile ($25/mo.)$180

All plans include unlimited talk and text. Pricing per month plus taxes. Additional fees and terms may apply. Auto-pay discounts not included. As of 11/24/20.

These companies are called mobile virtual network operators, or MVNOs. That means they piggyback off the major networks — AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon — rather than use their own cellular towers. 

The conventional wisdom says that MVNOs have worse coverage than the companies who operate their own networks. But in practice, customers have often been more satisfied with their service. According to a Consumer Reports survey of their 103,000 members, MVNOs almost always scored higher than carriers that operate their own network. (T-Mobile was the lone exception.) Learn more about prepaid phone plans

Do I need a new phone?

One of the best perks of switching to a new cellphone company is that you can usually pick up a free phone in the process. Unfortunately, these phone deals are mostly confined to the major carriers. If you go with a prepaid plan, you’ll probably have to go with an older phone if you want to get one for free. Here are some of the best deals available through the “big three” carriers right now: 

To get deals on new phones from these companies, you’ll have to commit to a two-year contract and open a new unlimited data line. Many times, you’ll also have to trade in an eligible phone. But those steps are usually worth the hassle. Right now, AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon are all offering free iPhone 12 models when you switch.  Learn more about phone deals

Which carrier has the best coverage in my area?

While most people switch carriers because of price, it can also be a good opportunity to improve your coverage, too. In most third-party tests, T-Mobile and Verizon usually take first place, with AT&T coming in last. Here’s how some of the major analyses rank the networks:

SourceAT&TT-MobileVerizon
Ookla Speed Score™41.6533.4931.40
Ookla Consistency Score™81.4%80.8%76.9%
RootMetrics Overall Performance94.186.795.2
OpenSignal Download Speed Experience32.6 Mbps28.2 Mbps27.4 Mbps
OpenSignal 4G Coverage Experience9.58.89.8
Consumer Reports Data ScoreFairVery goodGood
Consumer Reports Reception ScorePoorGoodGood
Allconnect Score7.507.897.85

Data as reported by Ookla, Root Metrics, OpenSignal, Consumer Reports

Of course, just because one carrier scores well overall doesn’t mean it will be the strongest in your specific area. We recommend checking out each of their coverage maps to find one that has a strong network where you live.

Keep in mind, if you go with a prepaid carrier, it will use one or more of the networks above, so it’s still a good idea to check its coverage before you sign up.  Learn more about cellphone coverage

Is it time to get a 5G phone?

If you’ve turned on a TV in the past year, you’ve probably been inundated with commercials telling you that the “best 5G network” is already right in your backyard. The truth is a little more complicated. 

While AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon have all made great strides on their 5G networks, the next generation of wireless technology is still not available everywhere. According to tests from Ookla, T-Mobile users in the U.S. connected to 5G 54% of the time in October, compared 18% for AT&T and less than 1% for Verizon.

But wherever we currently are in the 5G race, there’s no debating that it’s the future. If you’re looking to switch cellphone providers, it’s worth factoring into your decision. AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon include 5G coverage in all of their unlimited plans, and you can also get good deals on 5G phones when you open a new line.  Learn more about 5G plans and coverage

What is 5G?

5G is the fifth generation of wireless technology. Just like the 4G rollout a decade ago increased data speeds — the internet connection your phone uses when you’re away from Wi-Fi — 5G promises an even faster connection. Right now, average 5G speeds in the U.S. are 52 Mbps, which is about twice as fast as 4G, but they should rise much higher. Verizon’s average 5G speeds are a whopping 494.7 Mbps already, although its network is much more limited than that of AT&T and T-Mobile.

Should I open a family plan?

If you’re already on a family plan with your current cellphone company, it’s a no-brainer to open another one with your new carrier. But if you’ve only been looking at one-line accounts for your new plan, it’s worth getting a few people together who might also be interested in switching. The savings can be enormous.  

For AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon, the price per line on family plans is half the price of a single line.

What’s more, phone deals for new customers are typically available for each line that’s opened. So, if four people open a new family plan, all four would likely be able to get significantly discounted phones in the move. 

You don’t always need to have one account-holder handle the bill every month, either. Carriers like Visible Wireless let each line manage their own account, so you can skip the frantic Venmo requests at bill time every month.   Learn more about family plans

Which streaming services do I want?

All of the major cellphone companies tie in perks like free streaming subscriptions to their plans. Here’s what you can get right now:

  • AT&T: HBO Max included with $85/mo. plan (one line)
  • Boost Mobile: TIDAL HiFi included for six months
  • T-Mobile: Netflix included with two or more lines ($60/mo. plans and up)
  • Verizon: Apple Music, Hulu, Disney Plus and ESPN+ included 

But while these are certainly enticing, they shouldn’t be the only factor when deciding where to switch. In some cases, these plans are so much pricier than cheaper options that you could subscribe to the services separately and still save money with another carrier.

FactorAT&T Unlimited EliteT-Mobile Magenta PlusVerizon Play More Unlimited
Price$85/mo. (one line)$140/mo. (two lines)$80/mo. (one line)
Streaming perksHBO MaxNetflix StandardApple Music, Hulu, Disney Plus and ESPN+
Streaming value$15/mo.$14/mo.$23/mo.
Price minus streaming perks$70/mo.$126/mo.$57/mo.

All plans include unlimited talk and text. Pricing per month plus taxes. Additional fees and terms may apply. As of 11/24/20.

That’s certainly the case with AT&T and T-Mobile — after the value of the streaming services is factored in, their plans are still pretty pricey — but Verizon’s perks actually add up to a whopping $23/mo. Granted, you might not even want each of Apple Music, Hulu, Disney Plus and ESPN+. But if these promotions catch your eye, it’s worth doing a little math before making a decision based solely on these.

By: Joe Supan

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Reviews.org

What cell phone provider (or network) should you go with? We have a full review on that at https://www.reviews.org/mobile/best-c… but… We think choosing a cell phone provider comes down a combination of price, data, coverage, and what your needs are. We’ll discuss it all in this video review. Related reviews: Best Cell Phone Plans For Seniors — https://www.reviews.org/mobile/best-c… Best Cell Phone Plans For families — https://www.reviews.org/mobile/best-f… Best Cell Phone Plan Coverage — https://www.reviews.org/mobile/best-c…

Verizon Launches Yahoo-Branded Smartphone For $50

Verizon is launching a purple Yahoo smartphone for $50, the first device from the once-ascendant tech company, which comes at a time when Verizon seems to be figuring  out what to do with the former search giant.

With its budget-friendly price point, the Yahoo Mobile ZTE Blade A3Y doesn’t have the latest and greatest specs: The phone will ship with a 5.4-inch 720p display, an Android 10 operating system, 2GB of RAM, 32GB of storage, a fingerprint scanner and face unlock.

Yahoo’s apps will come pre-installed, including Yahoo Mail, News, Sports and Weather.

The phone won’t be able to access Verizon’s newly launched 5G network, which isn’t a surprise considering its low price.

Verizon has already pushed Yahoo into a smartphone industry with Yahoo Mobile, a phone plan launched in March that charges customers $40 for unlimited talk, text and data on Verizon’s 4G LTE network. 

Key Background

Yahoo was a major player in the 90s and early aughts, but it never figured out how to compete with Google, and even turned down an opportunity to buy Google for $1 billion in 2002. Yahoo then acquired Flickr and Tumblr in an attempt to grow past its email and search engine, but even those services were eventually eclipsed by other social media companies. Verizon bought Yahoo in 2017 for 4.83 billion, then a shell of its former self, and put it under its media arm. In its heyday, Yahoo’s market cap reached a whopping $125 billion in January 2000.

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Tangent

Verizon also bought HuffPost and TechCrunch through its acquisition of AOL in 2015. Now, Verizon is trying to sell off HuffPost, but is reportedly struggling to find a buyer. Follow me on Twitter. Send me a secure tip.

Rachel Sandler

 Rachel Sandler

I’m a San Francisco-based reporter covering breaking news at Forbes. I’ve previously reported for USA Today, Business Insider, The San Francisco Business Times and San Jose Inside. I studied journalism at Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and was an editor at The Daily Orange, the university’s independent student newspaper. Follow me on Twitter @rachsandl or shoot me an email rsandler@forbes.com.

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Boyd Digital: Global Tech News 1.91K subscribers Reported today on The Verge For the full article visit: https://www.theverge.com/2020/3/11/21… Reported today in The Verge. Verizon launches Yahoo Mobile phone service Verizon is launching a Yahoo-branded mobile phone service called Yahoo Mobile in an attempt to use consumers’ total apathy toward familiarity with the Yahoo brand to kickstart a new wireless provider.

Yahoo Mobile works off of Verizon’s network and offers only one plan: unlimited LTE data for $40 per month, plus throttled tethering and a subscription to Yahoo Mail Pro. It’s a good price; Verizon charges $65 per month for a prepaid unlimited plan, and AT&T charges $45 per month. If this all just feels like a lazy attempt to recycle the Yahoo brand, well, it gets worse: Yahoo Mobile is basically just a rebranded version of Visible, which is another spinoff phone service operated by Yahoo.

The singular plan is the same, their websites match up beat for beat, and Yahoo Mobile even offers Visible’s phone insurance plan under Visible’s name. Verizon closed its purchase of Yahoo close to three years ago. The deal included the Yahoo brand and major web services like Flickr and Tumblr. But Verizon was mainly interested in Yahoo’s ad technology, and it’s done little with Yahoo.

Both Flickr and Tumblr have since been sold off, and Yahoo’s biggest announcements have been payouts for data breaches. Spinoff carriers like Yahoo Mobile and Visible let Verizon diversify its business and test out new ways of selling wireless service. Verizon isn’t exactly a beloved brand, but Visible has hip branding and a simple pricing structure – something that might appeal to younger customers. Yahoo Mobile offers another take on that, just with the extremely appealing added perk of… subscription Yahoo Mail.

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