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printed July 28, 2015
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T-Mobile Locks In $15 iPhone Pricing

Today, 10:34 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today improved its iPhone leasing program. Anyone who leases the iPhone 6 before Labor Day will only have to pay $15 per month for the handset. Moreover, those customers will be able to keep the $15 monthly lease payment even if they upgrade to the next iPhone before the end of 2015. (This upgrade normally increases the lease payment to $27.) T-Mobile today also added Apple Music to its Music Freedom offering. This means people will be able to stream an unlimited amount of music from Apple over T-Mobile's network with no fear of it impacting their data usage. Both programs go into effect today.


Hands On with the Moto G

Today, 10:27 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Motorola's mid-range wonder boasts a significant number of upgrades over last year's handset, making it a compelling option. Here are our first impression of this welterweight device.

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Hands On with the Moto X

Today, 10:02 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Motorola showed off three new handsets today, including the Moto X Style - or "Pure Edition" - for the U.S. market. This handset runs stock Android and offers some solid updates to last year's model in terms of design and features. Here are our initial thought about Motorola's latest.

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Moto G Is Waterproof and Can Be Customized Via Moto Maker

Today, 8:30 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Today, 9:21 AM

Motorola today announced the Moto G, its mid-range powerhouse. The phone has a 5-inch HD screen, 13-megapixel main camera, and 5-megapixel user-facing camera. The Moto G is water resistant and can sit in a meter of water for up to 30 minutes. The handset features a quad-core Qualcomm 410 processor and comes in several memory/storage configurations. Importantly, the Moto G has been upgraded with support for LTE 4G. The Moto G comes in black or white with a metallic frame. A variety of Motorola shells are available online, but it can also be customized via Moto Maker to be completely personalized. The 2015 Moto G goes on sale in select markets, including the US, beginning today. It costs $179 for the 8 GB model.

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Moto X Play Boasts Better Battery Life

Today, 8:22 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Today, 8:34 AM

Motorola today showed off a variant of the Moto X called the Moto X Play, which indulges a 3,630mAh battery with Quick Charge technology. Motorola says the handset can last two days on a charge, and can gather 8 hours of battery life with just 15 minutes of charging. The Moto X Plat has a 5.5-inch full HD screen, 21-megapixel camera, Qualcomm 610 processor, and 5-megapixel user-facing camera. It will be available in August. Pricing was not yet disclosed, but Motorola said it is not announcing U.S. availability at this time.

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Motorola Reveals the Moto X Style

Today, 8:18 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Today, 8:37 AM

Motorola today announced the Moto X Style, its flagship handset for 2015. The phone carries forward the same design from the last few years with a metallic frame and customizable rear panels, including silicon, wood, and leather. The Moto X Style has a 5.7-inch screen, 21-megapixel camera, and Quick Charging technology that Motorola claims is faster than competing devices. The Moto X Style will be available as a "pure edition" handset, sold unlocked with support for worldwide LTE networks. It will ship with Android 5.1.1 Lollipop. The Moto X Style will reach the U.S. in September. The Pure Edition will cost $399.

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Qualcomm Intros Wireless Charging Through Metal

Today, 7:48 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Qualcomm today announced new technology that allows metallic handsets to charge wirelessly. Most wireless charging pads are tolerant of some metal in the charging field, but Qualcomm says it was able to boost the sensitivity enough, via Near Field Magnetic Resonance technology, to allow for wireless charging through metal handset enclosures. Qualcomm's WiPower is based on the A4WP's Rezence standard and can deliver up to 22 watts of power to charge handsets wirelessly. Rezence pads can handle several different devices, with varying charging requirements, at a time. Qualcomm did not say when it expects to see the metallic device charging technology reach consumer handsets.


Liveblog of Motorola 2015 Event

Today, 7:42 AM   by Rich Brome   updated Today, 7:43 AM

We're live from Motorola's big phone event today in NYC. We're expecting at least one new phone, if not two or three. A new Moto X and/or Moto G seems likely. Tune in for live updates as the happen on stage!

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CAT's Latest Handset Is a Rugged Android Slate

Today, 7:37 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

CAT today announced the S40, a new rugged handheld for those who need a tough, waterproof phone. The CAT S40 features a hardened exterior (mil-spec 810G) that can handle drops from 6 feet as well as protect against water and dust intrusion. The S40 has a 4.7-inch qHD screen that's protected by Gorilla Glass 4 and can work with gloves and/or when wet. The phone is powered by a 1.1 GHz quad-core Snapdragon processor with 1 GB of RAM and 16 GB of storage. The main camera has an 8-megapixel sensor and the user-facing camera has a 2-megapixel sensor. The phone supports North American GSM/LTE networks and includes Bluetooth, GPS, and WiFi. The phone will be available soon. CAT did not disclose pricing.


OnePlus Announces Its Second-Generation Flagship

Yesterday, 9:50 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Yesterday, 10:24 PM

OnePlus today revealed the OnePlus 2, its second-generation flagship Android smartphone. The OnePlus 2 features a 5.5-inch 1080p HD IPS LCD display with 178-degree viewability, and is powered by an octa-core Snapdragon 810 processor with 4 GB of RAM and 64 GB of internal storage. The main camera captures 13-megapixel images with laser-assisted focus, f/2.0 aperture, optical image stabilization, and larger pixels to aid with low-light performance. The user-facing camera features a 5-megapixel sensor. Other hardware features include a slider switch for controlling alert profiles, a fingerprint sensor for security, 3,300mAh battery, and USB Type C for reversible connections. The handset will offer swappable rear covers, including some made from bamboo, black apricot, kevlar, and rosewood. The OnePlus 2 runs OnePlus' version of Android 5.1 Lollipop, which it calls Oxygen OS. The OnePlus 2 will be available August 11 in the U.S., Canada, India, Europe, and China, with other regions to follow later in the year. It costs $389. A version of the phone with 3 GB of RAM and 16 GB of storage costs $329.

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Nextbit Targeting Android Phones

Yesterday, 9:03 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Nextbit, a small San Francisco-based startup, today announced that it plans to build smartphones. The company is only teasing an Android handset at the moment, and said it will reveal more details about the device and its plans in the weeks ahead. Nextbit is run by CEO Tom Moss and counts among its staff at least two former HTC employees, including Scott Croyle, HTC's former head of design. "We want to set this off as something different," said Croyle, speaking to Recode. "We don't have to be for everybody." Nextbit already offers cloud-based storage. The company remained mum on the specifics regarding its smartphone plans, such as whether it will target the entry level, middle, or top of the market.


T-Mobile One M9 Scores Modest Update

Yesterday, 3:14 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

HTC has made a system update available to the T-Mobile variant of the One M9, and the phone earns some significant improvements with the new code. To start, it gains the camera enhancents given to the international edition earlier this year, as well as the kill switch required by California law. It also adds battery improvements and new support for Google Wallet. The update is being pushed out over the air.

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Google Promising More 'Focused' Google+ Experience

Yesterday, 11:13 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today said some changes are on the way for its Google+ social network. To start, people will no longer be required to create Google+ accounts to access all of Google. People will be able to maintain separate Google+ and Google profiles, though some information will be shared between them. YouTube will be the first product that separates Google+ profiles from Google accounts. Google also said it wants to make finding content in Google+ easier, and new features, such as Google+ Collections, allow people to do that. Collections let users organize posts by topic. Similarly, Google believes removing Google+ Photos from Google+ helps to streamline the core Google+ offering. Moreover, functions such as location sharing will be moved to Google Hangouts. "We think changes like these will lead to a more focused, more useful, more engaging Google+," said Google. "As always, your underlying Google Account won't be searchable or followable, unlike public Google+ profiles. And for people who already created Google+ profiles but don't plan to use Google+ itself, we'll offer better options for managing and removing those public profiles." Google said the changes will roll out slowly over the next few months.


Microsoft Debuts Android Launcher

Yesterday, 10:47 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Microsoft recently released a launcher for Android smartphones that delivers a different take on the home screen. The launcher, which replaces the standard Android home screen, uses three panels to display various information. The left-most panel focuses on people, including recent contacts complete with addresses and numbers. The central home panel is where users can put their apps. It also includes a section for recently-used apps so people can jump back into those apps quickly. The last screen is for notes and reminders and can display calendar items as well as personal reminders. Microsoft's Arrow Launcher is available in a closed beta, which means people need to join the Google+ community in order to access the launcher. However, the APK is available directly from Microsoft, as well, for those who want to bypass the community aspect. Arrow Launcher is free to use. Microsoft has created a wide range of apps for Google's Android platform. Arrow is the latest.


LG Terra, Flip World Phone, Lands On Verizon Wireless

Sunday, 6:06 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless recently added the LG Terra to its lineup of basic feature phones. The Terra is a flip phone that runs a simple operating system with features such as text-to-speech for listening to text messages and photo ID for identifying incoming calls. The handset operates on Verizon's CDMA 1x network in the U.S., but includes quad-band GSM/EDGE radios, too, so it can be used when roaming abroad in more than 200 countries. Other features include a 2.4-inch main display, 1.77-inch secondary display, and a 1.3-megapixel camera. The LG Terra cots $96 at full price, or $4 per month with a Verizon Edge payment plan.


AT&T Completes Purchase of DirecTV

Friday, 3:16 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T today said it has completed its acquisition of DirecTV. The FCC approved the acquisition earlier today, and AT&T was quick to finalize the paperwork. "Combining DirecTV with AT&T is all about giving customers more choices for great video entertainment integrated with mobile and high-speed Internet service," said Randall Stephenson, AT&T chairman and CEO. "This transaction allows us to significantly expand our high-speed internet service to reach millions more households, which is a perfect complement to our coast-to-coast TV and mobile coverage, We're now a fundamentally different company with a diversified set of capabilities and businesses that set us apart from the competition." AT&T said current customers will not need to take any action now that the deal is complete. It will take several months to fully merge the operations of both companies. AT&T said it will roll out new television, internet, and wireless packages in the months ahead.


FCC Officially Approves AT&T/DirecTV Acquisition

Friday, 1:41 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Friday, 3:39 PM

The FCC today gave formal approval to AT&T's proposed acquisition of satellite TV provider DirecTV. The FCC believes that as long as AT&T adheres to the conditions of the deal, it will serve the broader public interest. Specifically, AT&T will be required to expand its deployment of fiber-optic broadband service to 12.5 million customer locations, as well as to eligible schools and libraries. Further, AT&T will be prohibited from using discriminatory practices to disadvantage online video distribution services. Last, it will be required to offer broadband services to low-income consumers at discounted rates. The merger improves the reach of AT&T's cable television business. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler had floated a draft approval of the acquisition earlier this week. Today's decision, following a vote of the remaining commissioners, makes it final.


BlackBerry All But Gives Up On Smartphones

Friday, 12:29 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

BlackBerry CEO John S. Chen said the company plans to reduce the number of handsets it makes each year to one or two. Chen said the company will make a couple of flagship-class devices and ignore the low-end of the market. "We make four phones a year. We are not going to do that anymore," said BlackBerry CEO John Chen to Fox Business. "We are going to at least cut it down to maybe two, maybe one and [shift] those resources [to] the security and software side" of the business. BlackBerry has spent the last few years cutting costs and refocusing its business on providing mobile device management and security services to its business customers. Just this week, BlackBerry announced plans to buy AtHoc, a crisis messaging product. Earlier this year, BlackBerry revealed plans to further trim back its hardware team. The one or two devices BlackBerry brings to market will "be a high-end phone that you can walk into AT&T and get it, as a professional," said Chen to Bloomberg. "The low-end phone is not BlackBerry's sweet spot." Several of BlackBerry's most recent handsets have targeted the low end of the market, such as the Leap and the Classic. Chen did not say when the company might next release a handset.


Verizon Adding Carrier Aggregation to 20x20MHz Channels

Friday, 11:50 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless is upgrading its LTE network with several different technologies meant to boost capacity and speeds. Mike Haberman, Verizon's VP of network support, said the company is deploying carrier aggregation in its 20x20MHz channels. It expects this will let it offer paths wider than 20MHz to help increase peak speeds. Moreover, Verizon has begun deploying 4x4 MIMO at cell towers to help boost coverage. Combined, the efforts will have a significant impact on the performance of Verizon's LTE 4G network. Verizon has other technologies, such as small cells, distributed antenna systems, and macro cells, on deck to further improve network performance. Verizon did not provide a timeframe for completing these upgrades, nor did it tie them to any specific geographic areas. Earlier this week, Verizon said it is using only about 40% of its licensed spectrum assets for LTE, mostly in the 700MHz band. Verizon is supplementing the 700MHz-based LTE with AWS-based LTE.


Honda to Put Android Auto and CarPlay in 2016 Accord

Friday, 7:22 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Honda has committed to supporting Google's Android Auto and Apple's CarPlay platforms in the forthcoming 2016 Honda Accord sedan. With the two platforms on board, owners of Android and iOS handsets will be able to connect their devices to the Accord's in-dash unit for safer interactions with their apps. A number of other carmakers have committed to supporting the smartphone platforms, including GM's Buick,Cadillac, and Chevy brands, and Volkswagen.


Google Overhauls YouTube App

Friday, 7:15 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google released a revised version of YouTube and the updated app focuses on improving usability. The user interface now focuses around three tabs: Home, Subscriptions, and Account. The first lets people explore and discover videos with recommendations based on viewing history, the second features all the videos from favorited channels, and the third helps people manage their own content and history within the app. In addition to the tabs, YouTube has new editing features, such trimming clips, adding tints and music, and uploading straight from the camera. The new YouTube app is available for Android devices and the web, and will reach iOS devices soon.


Europe Approves Nokia's Purchase of Alcatel-Lucent

Friday, 7:07 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

The European Commission today gave Nokia permission to move forward with its acquisition of rival Alcatel-Lucent. Following its initial review, the Commission approved the deal without placing any conditions on the terms. The acquisition still needs to be approved by Nokia's shareholders and antitrust regulators in a handful of other countries. Nokia expects the complete the deal during the first half of 2016.


Google Says Google Voice Transcriptions Won't Be So Bad

Thursday, 4:11 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Thursday, 4:15 PM

Google today said it has updated the voicemail transcription feature of Google Voice to improve accuracy. Google employed technology called a long short-term memory deep recurrent neural network to reduce transcript errors by 49%. Google was able to make the improvements by studying the incorrect voicemail transcriptions shared by select Google Voice users. Google said all Google Voice and Project Fi users should automatically see improved accuracy in transcriptions moving forward. No action need be taken on the part of users.


Google Brings Spotlight Stories to iOS Devices

Thursday, 12:58 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today offered its Spotlight Stories app to the iPhone and iPad. Google Spotlight Stories began life on the Motorola Moto X as a 360-degree animated story. The app includes 2D/3D animations that take advantage of the iPhone's sensors to allow users to interact with them. At the moment, the stories are view-only; people can't create their own. Google Spotlight Stories only contains a few stories at the moment, but the selection is expected to grow over time. It is free to download from the iTunes App Store. The app has been available to Android devices since May.


Sen. Al Franken Wants Apple Music Antitrust Probe

Jul 23, 2015, 7:46 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Senator Al Franken believes Apple may be violating antitrust laws with its Apple Music service and has asked the U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission to look into the company's practices. At issue is how Apple Music and competing services are priced. Apple charges $10 per month for Apple Music. Many of Apple Music's competitors, such as Spotify and Rhapsody, charge this same monthly fee. Apple lets competitors offer their apps and services through the iTunes App Store; however, because Apple takes a 30% cut in app revenue, Spotify and others are forced to raise their prices to $13 per month in order to make up the difference. Spotify is available for $10 per month to anyone who initiates the service online directly with Spotify, but Spotify is not allowed to advertise that in its iTunes App Store listing. Franken alleges that this results in consumers over-paying for music services. The FTC is already probing Apple's app store policies, but it has yet to open a formal investigation. Neither the FTC nor the Justice Department responded publicly to Franken's request. Separately, a consumer watchdog organization wants the FTC and Justice Department to examine the agreements between Apple and the big music labels. It alleges Apple has exclusive access to some artists and is trying to eliminate free streaming services. Apple did not comment on the allegations.


Dish Unhappy About FCC's Position On Auction Discounts

Jul 23, 2015, 7:29 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Dish Networks has confirmed the FCC plans to deny it $3.3 billion in discounts on spectrum licenses. Dish used three small companies — called designated entities — to place bids on its behalf during the AWS-3 auction earlier this year. Small entities are generally given a discount of 25%, which would have reduced the combined total of bids from $13.3 billion to $10 billion. However, the FCC concluded Dish had an 85% controlling interest in the three smaller companies, making them ineligible for the discounts. "We respectfully disagree with the proposed denial of the bidding credits," said Dish Executive Vice President Stanton Dodge. Dish maintains it followed the rules properly. Dish met with the FCC regarding the matter and was told the agency "will not designate the matter for a hearing or refer it to the enforcement bureau or Justice Department." FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler circulated the draft order last week, but it has yet to be approved by the full commission. It's unclear what remaining legal courses of action Dish might follow. The FCC recently altered the definition of designated entities to ensure it doesn't run into this problem in future auctions.


LG Display to Amp Up Flexible Display Production

Jul 23, 2015, 7:13 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

LG Display said it intends to invest about $907 million in a new plant that will focus on making flexible displays. The company said it believes smartphone makers will begin to increase demand for such screens in the years ahead. LG Display expects to begin production of its sixth-generation substrate sheets by the first half of 2017. The company says this new process can deliver more than 200 5.5-inch plastic OLED displays from a single substrate, which is four times more than its fourth-generation substrate. LG was one of the first to bring a smartphone with a flexible plastic OLED screen to market, the LG G Flex. LG's new line will join others in Gumi City, where LG says it has invested $12.1 billion over the years and created thousands of jobs.


Qualcomm to Cut Jobs Amidst Cost Restructuring

Jul 22, 2015, 4:59 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Qualcomm today said it will pursue aggressive cost restructuring, including the elimination of jobs, as it seeks to balance its financials. Qualcomm indicated it plans to slash $1.4 billion in expenses through a number of different actions, including job cuts of about 4,500, or 15% of its work force. Other cost reductions will include a reduction in the amount grants given each year by $300 million; a review of alternatives to its corporate structure; a return of capital to stockholders; additions to its board of directors; a revamp of its compensation plans; and more discipline in its investments. As part of its restructuring efforts, Qualcomm said it will review the possibility of breaking into multiple different companies, each with its own focus. This follows a call to action from activist investors that wish to see the company divided into parts. "The actions we are taking today are designed to ensure that we are properly structured to seize these opportunities while delivering improved near-term performance," said Steve Mollenkopf, CEO of Qualcomm. "I have great confidence in our employees and our ability to implement this new plan and I look forward to providing our stockholders with quarterly updates on our progress." Qualcomm didn't immediately specify where it will focus job cuts.


Apple Seeds Second iOS 9 Public Beta

Jul 22, 2015, 12:42 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple has made a second public beta of iOS 9 available to consumers. This test version of iOS is meant for people interested in trialling the operating system ahead of its scheduled fall release. iOS 9 adds a wide range of new features, and also streamlines the performance of Apple's mobile platform. Apple recently released a fourth iOS 9 beta for developers, and today's public beta builds on that foundation. In addition to stability improvements, the new public beta heralds the return of Home Sharing for music, which had been pulled in the iOS 8.4 release. The public beta is not meant for primary devices, and Apple recommends it be used only on secondary iPhones and iPads. It can be downloaded and installed over the air.

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T-Mobile Launches RCS-Based Advanced Messaging

Jul 22, 2015, 11:37 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today announced Advanced Messaging, a refresh of its base messaging service that adds several powerful features. Advanced Messaging is based on Rich Communications Services (RCS), which allows T-Mobile to offer near real-time chatting. Users can see when people are typing responses, see exactly when messages are delivered, and see when messages are read. T-Mobile's Advanced Messaging lets people instantly share photo and video files up to 10MB, as well. Advanced Messaging will first be available on the Samsung Galaxy Core Prime. Owners of the Samsung Galaxy S5 and S6 can enable Advanced Messaging through a simple system update. T-Mobile said more phones will launch with Advanced Messaging throughout the year, and it expects the service to become a standard feature across its product portfolio. T-Mobile Advanced Messaging is built to work across all devices, makers, platforms, and wireless operators. RCS is a standards-based technology and T-Mobile expects to introduce other RCS products in the future. Advanced Messaging will help T-Mobile compete with over-the-top messaging services, such as Facebook, Skype, and WhatsApp, that offer many of the same features.


Microsoft's 'Send' App is More Messaging than Email

Jul 22, 2015, 10:21 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Microsoft today released a new email application called Send. The idea behind Send, developed by Microsoft Garage, is to let people send quick messages to one another while still harnessing the power of corporate email. Send messages strip out headers, subjects and footers, and look and feel more like text messages. Even so, they are backed by companies' Office 365 email servers and can be viewed and/or responded to via Outlook. "These are the sort of quick emails you send to the people you care about at work—your boss, your teammates, and sometimes partners or customers outside your organization. You're usually busy or on the go when you send them, and Send is specifically designed for this get-in get-out scenario," explained Microsoft in a blog post. Microsoft knows co-workers often need to reach one another and don't always have phone numbers on hand. Office 365 integration means the corporate email directory is available to Send users, making everyone easy to reach. Send is available to corporate and education iPhone owners and will soon reach Android and Windows Phone. Microsoft said it hopes to expand Send's availability to more platforms/devices over time.


AT&T's GoPhone Debuts the Asus ZenFone 2E

Jul 22, 2015, 9:40 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Asus today announced the ZenFone 2E for AT&T's GoPhone prepaid service. This entry-level handset features a 5-inch 720p HD screen, and relies on a dual-core Intel Atom Z2560 processor with 1 GB of RAM and 8 GB of storage. Asus says the Atom chip works hand-in-hand with the PowerVR SGX544 MP2 GPU for smooth gaming performance. The ZenFone 2E has an 8-megapixel camera with f/2.0 aperture and a 2-megapixel front camera. The 2,500mAh battery is good for more than 19 hours of talk time. It includes Bluetooth 4.0, WiFi, GPS, and support for LTE. The phone runs Android 5.0 Lollipop with Asus' Zen UI skin on top. The ZenFone 2E is available today at Target and Walmart stores, and reaches AT&T stores on July 24 and Best Buy on August 2. The phone costs $119.99.


YouTube for Android Now Plays Vertical Videos Properly

Jul 22, 2015, 8:43 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google recently updated its Android YouTube app with the ability to show vertical videos in full screen mode. Such content now fills the entire screen, rather than run with black bars on either side. YouTube is free to download from the Play Store.


Sony Seeking User Interface Design Feedback from Swedes

Jul 22, 2015, 8:17 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sony today announced the Sony Concept for Android program in Sweden, which is a way for the company to test new user interface features for its smartphones. To start, Sony is offering 500 Swedish owners of the Xperia Z3 access to a new user experience that's based on a nearly stock version of Android 5.1 Lollipop, with some core Sony elements tossed into the mix. Sony said it is significantly different from the user experience available on its current lineup of devices. "[This is] a chance for us to listen and act upon bug reports, opinions and experiences, so we can acquire feedback to improve the experiences based on what you like and what you don't," said Sony. Sony indicated this is the first step in a new business model that it hopes will see the company responding faster to customer wishes while being more transparent at the same time. If the small trial in Sweden is successful, Sony may expand it to other regions.


BlackBerry to Acquire AtHoc

Jul 22, 2015, 8:07 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

BlackBerry today said it has agreed to acquire AtHoc for an undisclosed sum. AtHoc provides secure crisis communications for businesses so they can push critical data in real-time during business- or life-threatening events. The AtHoc service can send alerts to any device, including iOS, Android, Windows, and Macs, as well as radios, IP phones, digital displays, and even sirens or speakers. Homeland Security and the Department of Defense are among AtHoc's customers. BlackBerry said it will integrate AtHoc's offering into its own portfolio of enterprise communications services. The deal gives AtHoc global reach to expand its business and helps round out BlackBerry's business offerings. BlackBerry said it expects to complete the deal during its fiscal third quarter.


Kyocera 'Waves' Hello to T-Mobile and MetroPCS

Jul 22, 2015, 8:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Jul 22, 2015, 5:58 PM

Kyocera today announced the Hydro Wave, its newest Android handset for T-Mobile and MetroPCS. The Hydro Wave has an IP57 rating for protection against water/dust ingress and meets mil-spec 810G for resistance to abuse. The Wave includes wet screen tracking so the phone can be used when wet. It runs Android 5.1 Lollipop but includes new software from Kyocera called Core Home, which simplifies the user interface for first-time users or those who prefer the look and feel of feature phone UIs. The Hydro Wave features a 5-inch qHD display, 1.2 GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 processor, 1 GB of RAM, 8 GB of storage, and supports memory cards up to 32 GB. The main camera has a 5-megapixel sensor with LED flash and can capture 720p HD video, while the user-facing camera has a 2-megapixel sensor. Wireless capabilities include WiFi with WiFi Direct and WiFi Calling, Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy, and LTE with VoLTE and HD Voice support. The Hydro Wave has a 2,300mAh battery and includes Kyocera's Eco Mode and MaxiMZR to enhance battery life. The Hydro Wave will go on sale in T-Mobile stores July 22, followed by MetroPCS stores July 27. The price is $149.99.


Timeline Lets Android Users Explore Their Past Travels

Jul 22, 2015, 7:30 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google is rolling out a new feature to Android and desktop users of Google Maps that allows people to see all the places they've visited. The feature, called Timeline, makes it possible to revisit locations within Maps to recall where you've been. Google will also serve up any images stored in Google Photos tagged at the locations people visit as they travel through their past. Timeline is only visible to the account holder and can be deleted at any time. Users can wipe out their location history for a single day or an entire year if they wish. The improvement to Maps also lets people add more personal designations to points on the map, such as "Mom and Dad's House" rather than the specific street address. Timeline is being rolled out to Android users gradually. Maps is free to download from the Google Play Store.


Sony Pushing Android 5.1 to Select Xperia Phones

Jul 22, 2015, 7:19 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sony today said it has prepared Android 5.1 Lollipop for a number of its Xperia smartphones and tablets. The updated operating system is available to the Xperia Z3, Z3 Compact, Z3 Tablet Compact, Z2, and Z2 Tablet. Sony said it blended the features of Android 5.1 with its own user interface tweaks. For example, users now have more control over the volume and silent mode functions; can enjoy tighter integration with LinkedIn; and should experience faster, more accurate Superior Auto Mode with the camera. Sony also added some business-focused features. Though Sony is pushing the system update, timing of its arrival will depend on region and carrier. Sony said it should have Android 5.1 ready for the Xperia Z1, Z1 Compact, and Z Ultra in the coming weeks, followed closely by the Xperia T2 Ultra, C3, and, finally, the original Xperia Z Series.


Skype Redesigns Android App to Aid Usability

Jul 22, 2015, 7:10 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Skype has updated its Android mobile application with a refreshed user interface. Skype believes the changes make Skype look better and easier to use. For example, Skype 5.6 for Android allows users to see more chats on the Recent tab. People can now glean more at a glance than they were able to before. Other design tweaks make it more obvious which of the user's friends are online, and more consistent thanks to unified avatar pictures. Last, Skype adjusted the color of chat bubbles, which it says gives chats more clarity — especially those with lots of participants. As usual, the update tackles a number of bugs and makes improvements to stability. Skype 5.6 for Android is free to download from the Play Store.


FCC to Approve AT&T-DirecTV Tie-Up with Conditions

Jul 21, 2015, 5:38 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has recommended to his fellow commissioners that the agency approve AT&T's proposed acquisition of DirecTV. The Chairman said AT&T will have to meet several net neutrality-based conditions in order to garner final approval. For example, AT&T will not be allowed to exclude affiliated video services from data caps on its fixed broadband connections. This is meant to prevent discrimination against competing video providers. Further, AT&T will have to submit all completed interconnection agreements to the FCC, along with regular reports about the performance of its network. The FCC said an independent officer will be appointed to assure AT&T lives by the conditions. "The proposed order outlines a number of conditions that will directly benefit consumers by bringing more competition to the broadband marketplace," said Wheeler. "If the conditions are approved by my colleagues, 12.5 million customer locations will have access to a competitive high-speed fiber connection. This additional build-out is about 10 times the size of AT&T's current fiber-to-the-premise deployment, increases the entire nation's residential fiber build by more than 40%, and more than triples the number of metropolitan areas AT&T has announced plans to serve." Wheeler did not say how the other commissioners intend to vote on the matter.


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