Engaging in Ethical E-Commerce

Gone are the days when businesses just did business. Now, it’s almost expected that business values and ethics will play a significant and enduring role in a company’s identity.

From the products they sell to the way they treat their employees, businesses are finding that they no longer can separate what they do from what they believe — and customers want to know what the businesses they deal with stand for. Corporate social responsibility, or CSR — the merging of ethics with business — is not simply a buzzword. It’s increasingly becoming a best practice.

“Aligning a business with its social and ethical values has demonstrated positive impact,” said Lauren J. Litton, founder of I.S.P. Consulting.

“For example, it can improve employee retention, boost the company’s reputation, attract both investors and consumers, and further critical environmental and social justice efforts,” she told the E-Commerce Times.

Good Business

A number of e-commerce businesses founded in recent years seek to merge their beliefs in everything from sustainability to social justice with the work of making, marketing, selling and distributing products.

“We want to help people make better choices about their clothing and home textiles, delivering better quality, organic, sustainable products — fairly made and fairly priced,” said Lisa Ingram, cofounder of one such business, LittleLeaf Organic.

“By doing this, we can build a better supply chain that is more ethical, more environmentally conscious, and more rewarding for everybody who participates in that supply chain,” she told the E-Commerce Times.

As a result of having a clear mission aligned with their ethical values, businesses can develop strong relationships with customers, suppliers and other stakeholders.

“It gives you a clearer view of your direction and purpose,” said Ingram. “We have much more in-depth and interesting discussions with customers, which helps to make the business of selling far more rewarding. This also enables us to build deeper and longer-lasting relationships with our customers as there’s so much added value in a brand such as ours.”

The extended ethical network also can benefit from a clear sense of purpose and mission.

“One of the greatest pleasures for us is how this improves the quality of our relationships with our suppliers too,” said Ingram. “For example, we recently visited the factory in India where we make the majority of our products, and our shared interests meant the whole experience was like visiting old friends. All of this leads to a much greater sense of community, which is itself a more rewarding experience personally.”

Having a commitment to social justice issues ideally can raise awareness of those issues among any people who interact with a company. Packed with Purpose, for instance, seeks to raise awareness of social issues by combining its mission with the products it sells.

“We’re transforming the art of gifting by incorporating impact and personal stories into the gift-giving process,” noted Packed with Purpose CEO Leeatt Rothschild.

“We curate high-quality business and personal gifts that create an impact by sourcing products from purpose-driven organizations,” she told the E-Commerce Times. “The result is a unique gift experience that leaves a memorable impression while doing good.”

The company’s social mission finds expression in the products it sells — and the people who make those products.

“Our chocolate-covered pretzels are made by adults with disabilities who are part of a vocational and residential program,” said Rothschild. “Our hand-blown wine stoppers are crafted by teens impacted by gun violence through an art-based trauma recovery program. Our artisanal granola is produced by female survivors of abuse in Washington, D.C., who are on a path to financial and personal independence. Every gift changes lives in communities around us.”

The Power of Authenticity

It’s important for businesses seeking to align their ethics with their commerce to do so with sincerity and not just as a marketing strategy.

“Any effort a corporation takes must be authentic,” said Litton. “While e-commerce companies have seen a competitive advantage from being socially responsible, it is not simple. People are savvy and will see through an approach that is designed to attract consumers, or build or restore a reputation. This can backfire with a business receiving negative attention through social media and ratings.”

Adopting ethical stances simply for business gain can damage the entire community of ethics-oriented businesses and the customers who support them.

“Companies who seek to exploit public interest in ethical and sustainable issues for short-term gain do damage to this public discussion,” said LittleLeaf Organic’s Ingram. “They are directly devaluing those characteristics that we are trying to promote and making it harder to build trust.”

It’s also vital for ethics-oriented businesses to make sure that everyone in their ecosystem supports — or at least does not contradict — their mission.

“It is crucial for companies to ensure that their suppliers’ values align with their own mission,” said Rothschild.

“An important component of our work is making sure we do our thorough research when selecting and vetting our Purposeful Purveyors. We focus on five impact areas: women’s empowerment, the environment, youth development, workforce development, and health and wellness,” she explained. “Beyond ensuring that our purveyors fall into one of these categories, we also require that they meet high standards for product quality, packaging and delivery.”

Businesses also need to recognize that being ethical will require a commitment of resources to sustain their goals over time.

“For a business to become more socially and ethically responsible is definitely an investment,” said Litton. “This is not an easy nor static task. While businesses can take small steps to move toward more social responsibility, there is ongoing monitoring of adherence and impact.”

Dedication to the cause ultimately is a key component of successful ethical commerce.

“Be committed. It must be incredibly tiresome trying to use ethical practice as a short-term marketing ploy — and in the long-term, it won’t work anyway,” said Ingram.

“Also, carry your principles through every part of your business,” she advised. “So for example, we have gone to great lengths and additional costs to ensure that our packaging is as recyclable or compostable as we can make it. Being authentic not only leads to those stronger, long-term relationships with your customers and suppliers, it’s also so much more rewarding in the end.”


Vivian Wagner has been an ECT News Network reporter since 2008. Her main areas of focus are technology, business, CRM, e-commerce, privacy, security, arts, culture and diversity. She has extensive experience reporting on business and technology for a variety of outlets, including The Atlantic, The Establishment and O, The Oprah Magazine. She holds a PhD in English with a specialty in modern American literature and culture. She received a first-place feature reporting award from the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists. Email Vivian.

How an umbrella locked tech workers out of their WeWork office for two days

The idea of an umbrella preventing people from going to work for two whole days may at first seem ridiculous. Because it kinda is.

But that’s exactly what happened earlier this week to a group of tech workers using a WeWork space for their business.

So what happened? Well, at some point after leaving the office last Friday, the infamous umbrella took it upon itself to fall over in such a way that it prevented the sliding entrance door from opening.

So when the tech team turned up on Monday to begin work, they realized they had a problem on their hands.

The saga was played out on social media, with everyone and their dog offering possible solutions on how to resolve the tricky matter. But none of them worked.

“The umbrella had locked the door perfectly”

The man whose umbrella caused the chaos has now come forward to tell the story in his own words.

In a piece for Vice, Mike Ponticelli wrote: “Sometimes you’ve got a problem and you see a clear solution. Sometimes you see a problem, and you know the solution will be messy, but there’s still a solution. There was no solution here. The seal was perfect. An umbrella had the door locked perfectly.”

Mike’s buddy, Neeraj, started tweeting about what had happened, prompting a flurry of activity among other users who were convinced they knew how to solve the conundrum.

Mike and his team tried jiggling the door, but the umbrella stayed firmly lodged in place. They tried sticking their fingers through a gap, as well as reaching it with a coat hanger, but to no avail.

A consensus began to form among social media users: Just smash the frickin’ glass. But Mike didn’t want to do that for all the mess it would make.

Next, an engineer was called in. One who specializes in accessing inaccessible offices. But this one was so inaccessible that even the engineer couldn’t access it.

Finally, in a desperate bid to reopen its office, WeWork called in a special “super-engineer” for whom no challenge is apparently too great. And, we’re happy to say, he saved the day.

The solution, it turned out, was to cut a small hole in the floor above and dangle down some wire to dislodge the umbrella.

“There’s still a hole in the ceiling now, about the size of a gherkin,” Mike wrote, presumably from the comfort of his WeWork office.

He said he had no idea how the umbrella came to end up in that odd position, adding, “Something happened that caused the umbrella to fall in such a way that could never be replicated in 1,000 years.”

Editors’ Recommendations

Amazon Goes for the Gold With HD Streaming Music Service

Amazon on Tuesday announced Amazon Music HD, which offers 50 million CD-quality songs — 16 bits at 44.1 kHz. Customers also can stream millions more songs in Ultra HD — better than CD quality — with a bit depth of 24 bits and a sample rate up to 192 kHz.

Amazon Music HD will play the highest quality audio customers’ devices and network conditions will support. It is compatible with a variety of devices, including desktop computers, iOS and Android mobile devices, select Echo devices, Amazon Fire TV and Amazon Fire tablets.

It is also compatible with many third-party devices, including most products from Denon and Marantz with HEOS Built-in, Polk Audio, Definitive Technology, Sonos, McIntosh and Sennheiser.

Subscriptions begin at US$12.99 a month for Prime members, $5 a month for current subscribers to Amazon Music, whether they are on the Individual or Family Plans, and $14.99 a month for Amazon customers who are not subscribers.

Amazon Music HD is now available to stream in the United States, UK, Germany and Japan.

New subscribers to Amazon music can get a 90-day free trial. Current subscribers can try the HD service at no additional charge for 90 days. After the trial period, the subscription renews automatically at the appropriate price.

The launch of HD Music might pose a problem, suggested Russ Crupnick, managing partner at Musicwatch.

“I do worry that there are too many Amazon streaming offerings, ranging from Prime to Echo to free with Alexa,” he told the E-Commerce Times. “The multitude of options has become very confusing to consumers.”

Streaming Bitrate Claims Are Tricky

Amazon claims HD Music offers more than double the bitrate of standard streaming services.

However, Tidal for some time has offered lossless CD quality with its FLAC-based Tidal HiFi service.

CD-quality FLAC 16-bit 44.1 kHz streaming music has been available for some time from Qobuz and Deezer. Further, Qobuz was the first music service to offer FLAC 24-bit up to 192 kHz streaming files with its Hi-Res service.

That said, Amazon is the first of the major players to offer CD-quality streaming audio.

Apple streams music at 256 bits, while Spotify and Google Play stream music at 320 bitrates.

A high-fidelity service is not a big differentiator, Spotify VP Paul Vogel suggested.

“I don’t think core Spotify or Apple users will switch over en masse,” Musicwatch’s Crupnick said. “They like their services and most think the quality is good enough.”

Still, competitors will offer better sound quality “sooner rather than later,” he predicted.

Going for the Money

“Amazon is making the bet that its older, higher-income customers are more concerned about sound quality than the average streaming user,” remarked Mark Mulligan, music analyst at Midia Research.

“Amazon’s installed base of Prime subscribers represent one of the most valuable consumer groups in the entire digital ecosystem. and Amazon has identified that there is demand for spending more on higher-quality music,” he told the E-Commerce Times.

MusicWatch has done “a lot of testing on the concept of high-res ‘good as recording studio’ audio,” Crupnick said. It found that about one quarter of streamers “are passionate about sound quality, listen a lot on mobile devices and don’t think the quality is good enough, and are willing to pay to get something better.”

Streaming music accounted for 80 percent of the United States recorded music industry market’s revenues, the Recording Industry Association of America reported.

Total revenues at retail grew 18 percent to $5.4 billion, and streaming music revenues accounted for $4.3 billion of that — up 26 percent, driven by paid subscriptions, which hit a new height of 61 million.

Possible Markets for HD Streaming Audio

Most current devices cannot stream CD quality music, and Amazon is widely expected to announce new, CD quality-capable devices at an upcoming event Sept. 25.

HD audio “is the next logical expansion from video,” noted Ray Wang, principal analyst at Constellation Research, “but the car may prove to be the best venue.”

Most people may not notice the difference in music quality on their current devices, but “in the car, HD audio may make a big difference,” he told the E-Commerce Times.

Streaming music to automobiles is one of the five trends shaping the music streaming business, because “the car is the primary battleground of the streaming vs. radio standoff, as all of the major streaming services now offer solutions for in-vehicle listening,” noted Midia’s Mulligan.

“Apple has CarPlay, Google has Android Auto, and even Spotify has made its first steps in that space,” he pointed out, “confirming tests of its long-rumored voice-controlled smart assistant for cars.”


Richard Adhikari has been an ECT News Network reporter since 2008. His areas of focus include cybersecurity, mobile technologies, CRM, databases, software development, mainframe and mid-range computing, and application development. He has written and edited for numerous publications, including Information Week and Computerworld. He is the author of two books on client/server technology. Email Richard.

Best Cyber Monday Deals 2019: Everything you need to know

Cyber Monday continues the end-of-year holiday buying excitement that kicks off with Black Friday. Since the first Cyber Monday in 2005, online retailers big and small promote the Monday after Thanksgiving as the best time of the year to find great deals online. Black Friday sales began with and still focus on physical stores, with an increasing share of online participants, but for Cyber Monday, the emphasis is on online deals. The retail reality is that physical and online merchants sell whenever people want to spend money. Many merchants look to the last six weeks of each year for the greatest part of their annual sales volume. No store with something to sell will close its doors just because someone says Cyber Monday is for online shopping.

Cyber Monday’s emphasis on online sales bears out historically, at least so far. In 2018, Amazon topped the Cyber Monday overall sales volume charts, according to Numerator, followed by Walmart and Best Buy. Brick and mortar stores don’t close their doors on Cyber Monday, for sure, but tradition holds Cyber Monday is for online deals. You may still enjoy heading out in the cold, dark, early hours to be the first in line and deal with crowds at stores for Black Friday. For Cyber Monday shopping, however, all you have to do is to tell Alexa or Google Assistant to set an alarm to wake you up so you can go online to find the best deals. You can be sure Cyber Monday will bring great deals on computers, TVs, smart home devices, games and gaming machines, and other tech products. For many, Black Friday is the time to shop for everything, but Cyber Monday is the day to focus on electronics. To stay on top of the best Cyber Monday deals amidst all the ads and promotions, come to this page where we’ll continue to keep you informed of all the best deals.

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VIEW press / Contributor/ Getty Images

When is Cyber Monday 2019?

Officially Cyber Monday 2019 begins on December 2, as always, the Monday following Thanksgiving. As with Black Friday, Prime Day, Labor Day, and pretty much any major sales event, however, you can expect to see ads, promotions, and pre-sale deals before the sale begins. Many merchants will continue the party for the rest of the week in what’s now known as Cyber Week.

When are the best Cyber Monday deals for 2019?

Online retailers want to be sure you don’t spend all your money during Black Friday, so they’ll make sure you know about special deals reserved for Cyber Monday. Savvy online marketers may roll out campaigns for special daily deals, similar to a workout schedule of leg days, back and chest days, arms days, and abs days. Above all, merchants want you to shop early and often, but you can be assured of the best selections on Cyber Monday, December 2

What are the best Cyber Monday deals?

Recent history of products, sales, and special deals is the most accurate way to predict Cyber Monday 2019 deals. Because of upcoming calendar year model changes, we expect to see loads of head-shaking deals on 4K HDR TVs, especially for 55-inch to 65-inch models, as well as 70-inch TVs. There will also be tempting deals on soundbars, Nintendo Switches, Amazon Echo and Google Nest smart home devices, laptops and tablets, smartwatches including Apple Watches, and iPhones, iPads, noise-canceling headphones, and more entertainment options. You can also bet there will be plenty of deals on Instant Pots, coffee makers, and robot vacuums. Check back as we continue to update the best sales leading up to Cyber Monday. You can also check our deals page for updated deals in all categories:

Tips for shopping on Cyber Monday 2019

As with all substantial seasonal sales events, there will be tons of tempting product deals waiting to be scooped up. These are dangerous days for your bank account, especially if you don’t prepare ahead of time. Here are a few tips and tricks to remember while you browse so you can make the most out of your Cyber Monday shopping.

Not every deal is a good deal:

Don’t assume everything for sale on Cyber Monday is heavily discounted, or even marked down at all from the previous week or month. When a retailer promotes “reduced prices” during big sales events, that doesn’t always mean this is the first time the products have been on sale. There are loads of great deals during Cyber Monday, but not on all products.

Beware of phishing scams:

Whether in real life or online, thieves swarm where people have money they’re excited to spend. In these digital times, it’s way too easy to have your information stolen online. Learn how to avoid phishing scams to protect your credit card information, identity, and personal logins while shopping online.

Have a budget in mind:

When awesome deals come in waves, it’s easy to get carried away. Be careful not to overspend on items that weren’t on your list just because of the discounts. If you start Cyber Monday with a prioritized list with target prices, plus a total budget, you’ll be prepared for shopping success. If you have a long list of smaller items, keep a running tally so you don’t blow your budget on only part of your list.

We strive to help our readers find the best deals on quality products and services, and we choose what we cover carefully and independently. The prices, details, and availability of the products and deals in this post may be subject to change at anytime. Be sure to check that they are still in effect before making a purchase.

Digital Trends may earn commission on products purchased through our links, which supports the work we do for our readers.

Editors’ Recommendations

North now offers Focals smart glasses fittings and purchases via app

North’s Focals smart glasses are the first in the category to even approach mainstream appeal, but to date, the only way to get a pair has been to go into a physical North showroom and get a custom fitting, and then return once they’re ready for a pick-up and final adjustment. Now, North has released its Showroom app, which makes Focals available across the U.S. and Canada without an in-person appointment.

This approach reduces considerable friction, and it’s able to do so thanks to technology available on board the iPhone X or later – essentially the same tech that makes Face ID possible. People can go through the sizing and fitting process using these later model iPhones (and you can borrow a friend’s if you’re on Android or an older iOS device) and then North takes those measurements and can produce either prescription or non-prescription Focals, shipped directly to your door after a few weeks.

The Showroom app also includes an AR-powered virtual try-on feature for making sure you like the look of the frames, and for picking out your favorite color. Once the Focals show up at your door, the final fitting process is also something you can do at home, guided by the app’s directions for getting the fit just right.

Should you still want to hit an actual physical showroom, North’s still going to be operating its Brooklyn and Toronto storefronts, and will be operating pop-ups across North America as well.

Focals began shipping earlier this year, bringing practical smart notification, guidance and other software experiences to your field of view via a tiny projector and in-lens transparent display. North, which previously existed as Thalmic Labs and created the Myo gesture control armband, recognized that they were building control devices optimized for exactly this kind of application, but also found that no one was yet getting wearable tech like smart glasses right. Last year, Thalmic Labs pivoted to become North and focus on Focals as a result.

Since launching its smart glasses to consumers, it’s been iterating the software to consistently add new features, and making them more accessible to customers. An early price drop significantly lessened sticker shock, and now removing the requirement to actually visit a location in person to both order and collect the glasses should help expand their customer base further still.

Measure up for your Focal smartglasses in the U.S. and Canada with North’s app

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Prospective smartglass wearers in the U.S. and Canada can now measure up for their North Focal smartglasses by getting virtually measured in North‘s Focals Showroom app, allowing customers across North America access to the future of eyewear, no matter where they live.

Available on Apple’s iOS, the Focals Showroom app uses Apple’s Face ID technology as the basis to measure a person’s face in real time. Using other technology developed by San Francisco-based tech startup Standard Cyborg, the Focals Showroom app is able to take accurate 3D measurements of your face, and allow you to try on various Focals models virtually.

Measurements taken by the app will then be used to create your very own set of North Focal smartglasses, which will be sent to you a few weeks later. Final adjustments to the fit will then also be able to be made by the customer. North Focals are available with both prescription and nonprescription lenses.

north releases app to try on focal smartglasses showroom

Each pair of North’s Focals smartglasses are custom-made, so it used to be that customers would need to physically meet with North representatives in order to be measured for their smartglasses. Unfortunately, the only physical locations capable of doing so were the North Flagship Retail Showrooms in Toronto and Brooklyn. North tackled some of this problem by introducing two mobile Pop-Up Showrooms that have been touring major cities since February 2019 — but with the two mobile showrooms covering an area as large as North America, it was obvious something else would have to be done if the North Focals were to garner widespread appeal.

Whether smartglasses will take off as a popular item is a question that’s yet to be truly answered. North’s Focals are probably the first pair of smartglasses to come close to the smartglass dream — augmented glasses that look like normal glasses. Previous attempts, like the Vuzix Blade or the Google Glass, tended to fall on the wrong side of the fashion line. In short, if they looked like smartglasses, they probably weren’t going to make it in the real world. Unfortunately, no one wants to look like Geordi LaForge. Thankfully,

Will this new app help boost smartglasses into becoming an everyday item? It’s unlikely — but it will make them much available for anyone looking to try them out. If you’re looking to test out North’s new app, then you’ll need an iPhone X or newer.

Editors’ Recommendations

How to ignore robocalls on your iPhone

Almost every day — often several times a day — smartphones across the land will ring, buzz, and vibrate with unwanted phone calls that threaten to make owning these devices, designed for convenience and innovation, a major annoyance. Just like spam email in years past, robocall scams have become the bane of smartphone existence. These days, robocalls account for some 50% of all phone calls.

Robocalls are unsolicited communications comprised of pre-recorded messages from a variety of sources — both national and international. From telemarketers to corrupt scams, these computerized calls connect with your smartphone at all hours. For a vast portion of the 5.3 billion robocalls made in August 2019 alone — nearly 22 spam calls for every person — there exists no redeeming social value.

From bogus calls from the IRS threatening to come after you, to marketers hawking luxurious vacations at fancy resorts, to get rich quick schemes, to calls in Chinese scamming you with God knows what, these calls will attempt to sell you things you don’t want or need, seek to extract information about you that may be used in identity theft, or frighten you out of your wits. These calls, which trade in deceptive caller IDs and spoofing to falsify area code information, are not only disruptive, they are a dangerous waste of time. Robocalls can also come across as actual phone numbers that belong to real people who have no clue that their phone number is being used for this corrupt enterprise.

The FCC takes action

You know it’s out of control when the feds get into the act. While the authorities allow certain types of robocalls — such as notifications of airline flight cancellation, appointment reminders, or local public service messages — the government forbids businesses to call people to promote the sale of products and services.

On June 6, 2019, the FCC unanimously passed a new rule allowing carriers to automatically block non-pre-approved illegal and unwanted calls before they hit your handset. Carriers were already allowed to block suspicious calls — but only if subscribers opted in. Now, carriers can block calls without prior permission. That sounds great except that there’s no guarantee that it won’t cost you. Not only is this service not required to be free, automated calls from legitimate sources like your doctor’s office could also get blocked. Credit card, banking, and healthcare companies are working to ensure that their own permitted auto-generated calls can still get through.

Here are some tips on how to avoid robocalls on your iPhone.

Don’t answer

If you use your iPhone less for calling and more for its other smart features, and you don’t have kids, family members, or close friends that habitually call you, it’s easy to simply turn the ringer off and ignore vibrations until the caller leaves a message — if they leave a message. If you see an unfamiliar, unidentified number listed in your Missed Calls, and the caller has not left a message, just delete the call straightaway. Make sure your family and friends know to always leave a message if you do not pick up. Answering a robocall may put your number in line for more interference because it lets the scammers know you will engage with them. That makes it more likely for your number to be passed onto a human caller who may try to extract information from you or trick you into parting with your hard-earned cash.

Silence unknown callers (iOS 13 only)

In its continuing effort to enhance security, Apple added a new feature to iOS 13 called Silence Unknown Callers. This new setting is designed to protect against spam callers and calls from people you don’t know. It’s a simple toggle on or off.

  • Under the Settings tab, tap Phone.
  • Toggle to enable the Silence Unknown Callers control.

When the setting is on, the new iOS (which is still in beta) uses Siri intelligence, with its deep learning algorithms, to allow calls from numbers found in your Contacts, Mail, and Messages apps. All other calls automatically go to voicemail. Not only does this feature support the FCC’s new STIR (Secure Telephony Identity Revisited) and SHAKEN (Secure Handling of Asserted information using toKENs) standards, but a checkmark is displayed next to calls in the Recents list when those phone numbers are verified by the carrier. Verified numbers mean the call is not spoofed.

Use special ringtones

You can use your iPhone to associate certain rings with specific phone numbers so you know exactly when friends and family are trying to reach you. You can even have a unique ringtone for each person. Here’s how to do it.

  • Launch the Phone app and tap Contacts.
  • Open that person’s contact information and tap Edit.
  • Tap Ringtone for a list of built-in ringtones or your own custom made ringtones.
  • Tap the ringtone you want to assign to that person to place a checkmark next to it.
  • Tap Done to return to the contact’s edit screen.
  • The name of the ringtone is now displayed next to the contact and that is what you hear whenever that person tries to call you.

Block individual phone numbers

It’s easy to block individual numbers on your iPhone. The problem is it may not solve the robocall problem. Scammers are on to the block feature and get around it by using different numbers every time they phone you. It can’t hurt to block a number, but long-term help from that action is likely elusive. Here’s how to do it.

  • Launch the Phone app.
  • Go to your Recents tab, then tap the information icon next to the number you want to block.
  • On the upcoming sheet, tap Block this Caller to put the number on your block list.

Join the National Do Not Call registry

While this may not completely filter out all robocalls, there’s no harm in entering your information into the registry because that makes it illegal for any legit telemarketing outfit to contact you via your phone. Just go to the donotcall.gov website and enter the mobile phone number you want to add to the list. Or call 1-888-382-1222 from any phone you want on the list. Your number stays on the list until you specifically request removal or change phone numbers. The Do Not Call list takes you off business call lists, but it can take up to a month to go into effect. Political organizations, charities, and pollsters can still call you. Places you’ve done business with over the last 18 months can also legally call you.

You can also file a complaint about a robocall with the FCC by reporting the time, date, phone number, and a description of the message.

Use your carrier’s resources

Major carriers can already identify, filter, and prevent robocalls from reaching you. In response to the FCC’s new rule, 12 large U.S. phone carriers, including the Big Four, have pledged to implement the new technology called STIR (Secure Telephony Identity Revisited)/SHAKEN (Secure Handling of Asserted information using toKENs), designed to identify robocaller spoofing techniques that make phone numbers appear local. As part of the pledge, taken in partnership with 51 U.S. attorneys general, the carriers will also offer free anti-robocall tools to users. For now, major carriers offer basic free services and premium services for a monthly fee.

AT&T: Subscribers can use a free iOS app called AT&T Call Protect. It has automatic fraud blocking and suspected spam warnings and you can manually block unwanted calls by enabling it in your account settings. A premium version is $4 per month.

Verizon: Verizon offers a free call-blocking service and has identified 300 million spam and scam phone numbers that it will block through its spam alert and call-blocking tools. A premium version is $3 per month.

T-Mobile: T-Mobile provides network-level features to combat robocallers and spam calls. Scam ID, an automatic system, identifies spam numbers when your phone rings. Scam Block lets you block those numbers by dialing #662# on your handset (or turn it off by dialing #632#). These non-app features work automatically on the network in the background. T-Mobile also offers a Name ID service for $4 per month, which identifies and provides caller information like the name, location, and type of organization.

Sprint: Sprint customers can use the free My Sprint or sign up for its Premium Caller ID service to protect themselves from robocalls and caller ID spoofing. This service is $3 a month, and it provides a threat level indicator to give customers an idea of how suspicious a call is. It doesn’t automatically block spam calls, but based on the threat level, you can choose to answer a call, block a number, or report it to prevent future calls.

Use a robocall blocking app

There are a number of reputable robocall-blocking apps on the App Store. Most offer a free plus a more extensive paid version. Make sure you know what you’re getting into with third-party apps. Earlier this year, a number of apps were discovered to have gathered and monetized your information while customers trusted them with blocking spam calls. Here are just a few of the most popular ones.

RoboKiller

how to ignore robocalls on your iphone robokiller

RoboKiller meets the call scam challenge with predictive call-blocking technology and around-the-clock protection to control who can and can’t call you. The app adds spammers to your block list automatically without your phone ringing. You can reverse the process temporarily if you’re expecting a call from an unknown number. Choose the phone numbers you wish to block, and allow the ones you want to go through. View all missed and blocked calls to see who’s trying to reach you. You can also give spammers some pushback with Answer Bots.

Truecaller

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Truecaller identifies and blocks spam calls and works with a community-based spam list from over 250 million users. It automatically identifies spam, fraud, and robocalls before you pick up.

Nomorobo

how to ignore robocalls on your iphone nomorobo

This app offers protection from over 1.5 million robocallers, telemarketers, and phone scammers with over 1,500 new robocallers identified every day. Nomorobo is smart enough to distinguish between good robocalls like weather alerts and bad ones, like telemarketers. It does not identify robocalls (which it leaves to you) but it blocks spoofed calls. Its database contains thousands of robocall messages.

Do not disturb

Apple’s Do Not Disturb feature only notifies you about calls from your contacts. All other numbers are delivered silently in the background.

  • Launch Settings.
  • Tap Do Not Disturb.
  • Chose Allow Call From.
  • Tap All Contacts.

Whatever strategy or combination of methods you use to combat robocalls, it is bound to promote peace of mind, not to mention peace and quiet. Now that the heavy-duty government and corporate artillery is being aimed at the criminal robocall enterprise, it’s only a matter of time until it ends.

Editors’ Recommendations

India bans e-cigarettes citing youth health concerns

India’s government has announced an immediate ban on e-cigarettes — citing youth-focused public health concerns.

In a news statement following a cabinet meeting today finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman said the ban covers production, manufacturing, import, export, transport, sale, distribution, storage and advertising of e-cigarettes.

Sitharaman suggested India’s youth are viewing e-cigarettes as a “style statement”, implying it’s encouraging them to get hooked on nicotine — whereas she noted that companies behind the vaping trend have pitched their products as a way to ween existing smokers off cigarettes.

“This decision is taken keeping in mind the impact that [e-cigarettes are] having on the youth of today,” she said of the ban order. “The data that we have largely is derived from the US’ experience and it the US the latest stats that I have before me states that there has been a 77.8% growth among school students who are at the 10th and 12th level.”

She also pointed to “surprising” growth in e-cigarette use among US middle school students — up 48.5%, per stats she cited. 

India has some 106M adult smokers, making it a major market for cigarette companies of all stripes. But with the e-cigarette ban, vaping startups like Juul are set to be shut out entirely — even as traditional tobacco giants are allowed to continue to operate.

According to the World Health Organization the use of tobacco in Indian, which includes both smoked and smokeless products, kills close to 1M people per year.

The ban on e-cigarettes will need formal approval when India’s parliament returns this fall, though this step is typically considered a formality.

Penalties for breaching the ban order include up to one year in jail and a fine of 100,000 rupees ($1,405) for first-time offenders, per Reuters. Repeat violation risks up to three years and a penalty of up to 500,000 rupees. It’s not clear whether users of e-cigarettes will risk any penalties for the act of vaping itself.

India’s ban comes at a time when the US is also preparing to tighten regulation in response to concerns around youth vaping. This month the Trump administration said it’s working on a compliance policy for flavored e-cigarettes that are especially appealing to children.

The US’ CDC public health agency also recently warned against using e-cigarettes — as it investigates a lung condition associated with vaping, following hundreds of cases and a suspected death in August.

The portable $399 Sonos Move is like having two great speakers in one

Sonos has released their first ever portable speaker with a built-in battery: The $399 Sonos Move, which starts shipping to customers on September 24. After spending a few days with the Move, I can confidently say that it offers everything that’s great about the Sonos wireless audio system, but with all the added advantages of a speaker you can freely move around the house – or take with you on the road.

Size and sound

The Sonos Move is not a small speaker – it’s about 6.61 lbs, and nearly 10-inches tall by 6.3 inches wide and just under 5-inches deep. If you were maybe expecting it to be around the size of the Sonos One, you’re in for a shock because it’s quite a bit bigger, as you can see from the photo below.

Sonos Move Sonos One 1

Nor is the Sonos Move just a Sonos One stacked on a big battery and wrapped in a new exterior shell – the company tells me it’s a brand new design in terms of the internals, too. The company set about designing a different speaker because the Move will suit different uses vs. the One, since it’s designed to be used in all environments, including outside in open air.

The result is a speaker that can get a bit boomier than the Sonos One, with deeper lows that seem to anticipate it having to compete with a lot more ambient noise. The sound profile is also helped by a downward-firing tweeter which is used to create a wide sound stage for the Move, which in practice means it does a very good job of evenly blasting music at a spread out group at, say, a picnic or a camp fire.

Indoors and out, the Sonos Move provides the kind of quality audio you can expect from any Sonos device, and it seems nearly equally impressive on both Wifi and Bluetooth modes in my testing, though Wifi does seem to have the edge in terms of quality. You can also pair two of the Move together for true stereo sound, thought since I only had one review device on hand I wasn’t able to personally test this out.

Wireless and weather-resistance

The Move’s highlight feature is its ability to move around and operate on battery power, and that’s why it offers two different connection modes. You can use it as a standard Sonos Wifi speaker, connecting it to your Sonos account and having it show up in your Sonos app the same as any other speakers made by the company, which you can group and control as usual.

Sonos Move 9

In Bluetooth mode, you pair it just like you would any Bluetooth speaker, directly to the device from which you want to play music. A button on the back switches modes, and the first time you switch to Bluetooth the Move will automatically enter pairing mode, making it super easy to connect your phone. I was set up on Bluetooth within just a couple of minutes.

A convenient built-in handle is located on the back of the Move just above the pair, power and Sonos system connect buttons. It’s one of the highlights of the design, and since it’s part of the exterior shell, it should be rock solid in terms of durability. Overall, the device feels like it’s incredibly sturdily built, also, and Sonos advertises it as weather and shock-resistant speaker that isn’t afraid to take a tumble or handle a little light rain.

In Bluetooth mode, you won’t have access to either Alexa or Google Assistant, even if you’ve set those up on the Move to work with your home system. Nor will it work in a stereo pair with another Sonos if you’d done that, or show up in the Sonos app for multi-room control. But at home, you can just use the Wifi mode as you move it around the house or to the backyard and still take advantage of all those. While you’re out and about, you’re much more likely to just want a basic wireless speaker anyway, so not having access to these features on Bluetooth really doesn’t have any impact on usability.

During my testing, wireless connectivity was solid on both Wifi and Bluetooth modes, with no dropouts or stutters. Even leaving aside the Sonos aspects of the speaker, it’s also likely the best-sounding Bluetooth weather-resistant speakers I’ve ever tried, at this or any other price range.

Voice assistants and auto Trueplay

Sonos Move 6

The Sonos Move also features built-in support for Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, both the virtual assistants that are also available on the Sonos Beam and the Sonos One. Built-in farfield mics do a great job of picking up voice commands, and if you’ve used either of these assistants before on other Sonos hardware, you’ll get the same great experience here – provided you’re on Wifi and not Bluetooth, as mentioned above.

Sonos has added a new trick to the Sonos Move using the mics it includes for use with these voice assistants, too: Auto Trueplay. This is a version of its Trueplay sound tuning feature, which it includes in other Sonos speakers. Normally, however, you have to do the process manually using your smartphone’s mic to evaluate the sound. The Sonos Move uses its own mics to adjust automatically – and it does it constantly, changing the sound profile to match your space as you move it room to room, or even outside.

In actual use, the effect is subtle, which it should be since the sound is adapting over time. But I found that it undeniably made a difference, and that listening to the same song initially upon switching the Move’s location, and then after a period of time (I tried an hour or so) produced obvious benefits in terms of the sound of the second listening.

Charging and battery

Sonos Move 5

Sonos has done a great job with all things related to their first battery-powered speaker. The built-in power source is rated for up to 10 hours of continuous playback according to the company, and in my testing, I actually got north of that, but of course your mileage will vary depending on what kind of connection you’re using and at what volume you’re playing music.

Charging is handled two ways, which is a very welcome bit of adaptability that suits the Move’s dual nature as both a Sonos network speaker and a portable audio device. There’s the charging base that comes in the box, which you can see above. This has metal contacts that provide power via connection points on the back of the Move, while providing an attractive and stable base for use in your Move’s more permanent ‘home’ location.

Then there’s a standard USB-C port located on the base above the charging contacts, which is perfect for use when you’re taking the Move on the road, or if you’re just using it outside but near an external outlet and don’t particularly feel like moving the charging base. It’s another example of how the Move can do double duty with smart design elements that don’t require any compromises on the user’s part.

Sonos Move 8

Where it fits in the Sonos line

The Sonos Move is unlike any other speaker in the Sonos lineup. It plays nice with the rest, but only to a point: The Move can’t act as rear satellite speakers or pair with the Sonos Sub, for instance, something which the rest of the lineup can all manage. Sonos says this is because the speaker was designed to move around the house, so it doesn’t make sense for it to be tied to a more permanent installation, as in a home theater or sub-supplemented arrangement.

That said, it’s a solid choice as both an addition to an existing Sonos network, or as your first Sonos device. In the first case, it’s the best way to add a patio-friendly Sonos-compatible speaker to your setup without having to drill into your walls or call home installers; in the second, it’s a great all around wireless speaker if all you really need is one, since it can follow you around the house, adapt its sound, and even pack in the car for road trips or a day at the beach.

Sonos Move 3

Bottom line

At $399, the Sonos Move is definitely expensive for either a Bluetooth speaker or a wireless home smart speaker. But when you consider that it’s both, and that it delivers all-day battery life on a single charge; intelligent adaptive sound to ensure it sounds best wherever you’re using it; and the ability to stereo pair and work with other Sonos devices if you want to expand your setup later, it starts to seem a lot more economical – especially when sized up against equally priced speakers that lack half those features, like Apple’s HomePod.

Podcast app Pocket Casts is now available for free, with an optional $0.99 subscription

Anyone who wants to download the podcast app Pocket Casts can now do so for free.

Previously, you had to pay a one-time fee of $3.99 to access the Android or iOS apps, but CEO Owen Grover said this approach seemed increasingly at odds with Pocket Casts’ goals, and with the vision of the public radio organizations (NPR, WNYC Studios and WBEZ Chicago) that acquired it last year.

“We understood pretty clearly that we were limiting our reach and limiting the number of users that could enjoy the quality and power of the app and the platform,” Grover said. “It felt penny wise and pound foolish to continue to collect a few dollars at the top … We have the benefit of these owners who are supporting us in a way that allows us to grow our audience, habituate new listeners and deliver a pretty terrific user experience.”

So moving forward, he said the core features of the Pocket Casts app — including audio effects and cross-platform sync — will be available for free.

At the same time, Pocket Casts is launching a monthly subscription called Pocket Casts Plus, where he said “power users and super users” can pay 99 cents a month or $10 a year for access the desktop apps, cloud storage of their own audio and video files and exclusive app icons and themes.

Shifting from a one-time fee to a subscription model might seem like a move to make more money, but Grover said the company is really just charging a fee to cover the costs of the Plus features, particularly cloud storage.

“In the short term, we will make less money. It’s not about that,” he said. “It’s not about maximizing app revenue for us, it’s about maximizing the unique quality of the partnership [with] our wonderful public media partners.”

That doesn’t mean Pocket Casts isn’t interested in making money. In fact, Grover said the team will have “more to share about how we think about sensible, sane, scalable business models moving forward.” (He also assured me that the model won’t focus on advertising.)

He painted this change as part of a broader strategy after last year’s acquisition, which was followed by upgrades to Pocket Casts’ backend and frontend.

“This is really the third pillar — now we’re off to the races,” Grover said.