The FCC today approved a new high-end Samsung phone that is almost certainly the company's forthcoming Note 8 flagship phone. If Samsung chooses a new branding for its Note series, this phone will be the spiritual successor to the ill-fated Note7. This new phone bears the model number SM-N950; the previous two Note models were the SM-N930 and SM-N920. As with the company's Note7 and S8, one hardware model will fully support all US carriers' networks, although software may differ. The FCC approval documents reveal no surprises. The new model appears to support all of the same basic features and radio bands as the Note7, plus the new band 66. There is no mention in this initial FCC approval of band 71, the new 600 MHz band that T-Mobile has said it plans to launch with Samsung and LG devices next month. It is possible for FCC approvals to be amended, however. Samsung has scheduled a major launch event for August 23 in New York City. Invitations to the event show an outline of a phone with a stylus, clearly indicating a Note-like device.
Huawei says its forthcoming flagship handset will be a better device than Apple's next iPhone. "We will have an even more powerful product," said Richard Yu, head of Huawei's consumer division, in an interview with Bloomberg. "The Mate 10, which has much longer battery life with a full-screen display, quicker charging speed, better photographing capability and many other features that will help us compete with Apple." Huawei is expected to reveal the Mate 10 as soon as September 2 at a press event scheduled during the IFA trade show in Berlin. At the same time, Yu said Huawei plans to exit the entry-level segment of the smartphone market. "We are giving up the very low-end devices because the margin in this is extremely low, and it’s not making enough profit for us." Moving forward, Huawei will focus on mid-range and high-end devices.
AT&T today said its DirecTV Now television service offers more than 100 live local channels. Local affiliates of ABC, NBC, and FOX (but not CBS) are available in markets including Chicago, Dallas-Ft. Worth, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Washington D.C. AT&T says it will soon triple the number of live channels available compared to when the service launched in November 2016. Nationwide, DirecTV Now subscribers have access to up to 120 channels, more than 25,000 on-demand titles, as well as premium channels. DirecTV Now starts at $35 per month and ramps up to $70 depending on the package. AT&T offers a $25 monthly discount to its mobile customers, who can stream DirecTV Now live television to their mobile devices without impacting their monthly data limit.
Google is eliminating its instant search feature, which generated search results in real time as people typed their search queries. The feature was introduced in order to save time, but as the majority of searches are now performed on mobile devices the tool doesn't make as much sense. "We launched Google Instant back in 2010 with the goal to provide users with the information they need as quickly as possible, even as they typed their searches on desktop devices," explained Google in a statement provided to Search Engine Land. "Since then, many more of our searches happen on mobile, with very different input and interaction and screen constraints. With this in mind, we have decided to remove Google Instant, so we can focus on ways to make Search even faster and more fluid on all devices." The move makes Google Search more cohesive between desktop and mobile devices. Google will continue to offer search suggestions in the search box as people tap out their queries.
Google plans to shake up its music offering and ad-free video service, according to statements made by Lyor Cohen, the head of Google Play Music. As it stands today, Google Play Music is available to a single person for $10 per month and families for $15 per month. YouTube Red allows people to enjoy an ad-free YouTube experience for $10 per month. Purchasing YouTube Red, however, gives people access to Google Play Music at no extra charge. Google also offers YouTube Music and YouTube TV, which are separate services for music videos and live TV, respectively. Moving forward, Google Play Music and YouTube Red will be offered together. "The important thing is combining YouTube Red and Google Play Music, and having one offering," said Cohen. Cohen didn't provide any details on what the merged service might look like, but he did say Google will give customers plenty of warning. "Music is very important to Google and we’re evaluating how to bring together our music offerings to deliver the best possible product for our users, music partners and artists. Nothing will change for users today and we’ll provide plenty of notice before any changes are made," said Cohen in a statement provided to The Verge. YouTube TV is the newest of these media services and is only available in 15 markets around the country. It costs $35 per month and will continue to stand on its own.
LG today reported second quarter earnings and the news was mixed. While three of its four business units saw growth, its Mobile Communications Company saw flat income and an operating loss of $117.4 million. LG blamed its quarterly performance on weaker than expected sales of its flagship smartphone, the G6, and an increase in component costs. LG showed off the G6 at the Mobile World Congress event in February and the device reached world markets in April. It's a premium metal-and-glass smartphone with a unique 18:9 display and dual cameras. LG said its mobile unit did see a 13% increase in sales across North America thanks largely to strong performance of its mass-tier handsets, such as the K20 and Stylo 3. LG hopes things will get better. "The introduction of the new Q series and the rollout of a new high-end device in the weeks ahead are expected to bolster the company’s performance in the second half of 2017," it said in a statement. The high-end device in question is likely the V30, a follow-up to last year's V20. LG has a press event scheduled on August 31 during the IFA trade show, which will take place in Berlin.
Foxconn today said it will build a manufacturing facility in Wisconsin, where it will make LCD panels and employ up to 3,000 people. The company previously announced it might invest up to $10 billion in the U.S. Today's news, shared by the White House, demonstrates Foxconn was serious about the investment. The facility will be approximately 20,000 square feet and may eventually employ up to 13,000. Foxconn, based in Taiwan, is chiefly known for manufacturing iPhones for Apple, though it has other consumer electronics customers. Foxconn said Sharp will be first to use the LCD panels made in Wisconsin for its television sets. Foxconn is weighing similar investments in Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan.
A new product from Cochlear Limited will allow iPhone owners to stream sound from their device directly to their cochlear implant. This is made possible by the Cochlear Nucleus 7 Sound Processor, a behind-the-ear sound processor that bridges the iPhone and the implant. Cochlear says the processor makes it possible for iPhone users to not only stream audio to their implants, but to also control, monitor, and customize their hearing via the associated application. The app can help people record coil-offs time, as well as time in speech environments, including time spent listening to FM radio or streaming music. It also offers a tool for locating lost processors if they happen to fall off. Cochlear says the Nucleus 7 was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration last month and should be available in September for those looking at new implants. The Nucleus 7 will support some of Cochlear's older implants through an upgrade beginning in October.
Google today made Waze available within Android Auto. The new integration means those who prefer Waze to Google Maps can take advantage of Waze via their car's in-dash infotainment center. In order to use Waze, Android users will need to download the latest version of Android Auto and Waze, and then connect their phone to their car via USB. Waze is a popular alternative to Google Maps because it provides real-time information about accidents, construction closures, and other events that may impact navigation. It relies on crowd-sourced data to provide the most up-to-date information. Google says Waze fans will be able to navigate to their favorite destinations saved in Waze (work, home, etc.), receive visual and audio alerts about hazards, check the estimated time of arrival along with alternate routes, and of course help other Waze users by sharing information about accidents and traffic jams. Google said it is working on a version of Waze that works within Android Auto directly on smartphones, but for now Waze integration is limited to in-dash access.
Apple was ordered this week by a U.S. judge to pay $506 million to the University of Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) thanks to patented technology found in Apple's A7, A8, and A8X processors. The patent involves increasing the efficiency of chips by predicting what instructions the user will give them. WARF originally filed the lawsuit in January 2014 and was granted a jury victory in October 2015. The original judgement was for $234 million, but the judge more than doubled the damages because Apple has continued to use the patented technology in its iPhones (A9 processors) during the course of the lawsuit. Apple sought to have the patent declared invalid, but the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office rejected Apple's bid. Apple is appealing the ruling. WARF sued Apple again in 2015 over the same patent, which it claims is being violated in newer versions of the iPhone. That second case is still winding its way through the courts. The patent, originally granted to WARF in 1998, expired in December 2016. Apple maintained its innocence.
The USB 3.0 Promoter Group this week released the spec for USB 3.2, which has the potential to boost speeds through cables. Specifically, USB 3.2 takes advantage of the multi-lane operation that has been built into existing USB Type-C cables. Now, as long as both devices support USB 3.2, end users should see data transfer speeds double. The Promoter Group says the spec allows for up to two lanes of 5 Gbps or two lanes of 10 Gbps operation. The spec makes use of the existing SuperSpeed USB physical layer, but makes minor updates to the hub specification to address increased speeds in addition to transitions between single- and two-lane operation. The USB 3.2 specification is available to developers only at this time. The USB 3.0 Promoter Group expects to release the final version of the spec in September. Devices with support for USB 3.2 will likely not appear in the market before 2018. It's unclear if or how USB 3.2 might be used with mobile devices. Some of the companies in the USB 3.0 Promoter Group include Apple, HP, Intel, Microsoft, ST Microelectronics, and Texas Instruments.
Giphy recently rolled out a new tool that eases the GIF creation process. Now, there's no app to download and install because Giphy built the GIF maker into its mobile web site. People need only enter a YouTube or video URL, or capture or upload a video to begin the process of creating a GIF. The tool supports text and graphics overlays, and once the GIFs are saved online they can be shared most anywhere across the web. Giphy's new GIF maker is free to use in Chrome and Safari on Android and iOS devices.
Google today brought its Trusted Contacts app, available to Android devices since last year, to iOS handsets. Trusted Contacts lets people share their location with others during emergencies. The app simplifies the process of adding friends and family as emergency contacts. It allows those added to the list to request location at any time, and works even when offline or the phone's battery is dead. Users can proactively share their location if they feel unsafe or become involved in an emergency situation. People added to the Trusted Contacts list will see the phone's activity status to know the owner is okay. The app is an alternative to Facebook's Safety Check, which allows users of the social network to mark themselves safe during times of crisis. Trusted Contacts is free to download from the iTunes App Store.
Apple today released iOS 11 Public Beta 3 to those testing the platform. The release follows closely that of a new build for developers, which was made available earlier this week. This third beta is much more stable than the first or second. iOS 11 targets the iPad more than the iPhone, but both devices gain expanded Control Center tools, a refreshed App Store, new camera features, Siri improvements, as well as updates to iMessage, the Keyboard, files, and more. The final version of iOS 11 isn't expected until the fall.
Adobe today said it will stop updating and distributing the Flash player in 2020. The web plugin is widely used across the web to power experiences such as video and gaming. Adobe says new, open standards such as HTML5 and WebGL have already begun to replace Flash in web browsers. Adobe is working with partners including Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Mozilla to help with the end-of-life process. Adobe will update and patch Flash up until the end-of-life moment arrives in order to ensure users are protected. It is already encouraging content creators to adopt the new open standards ahead of the change. Flash was once a flashpoint in the mobile space after Apple debuted the iPhone. Former Apple CEO Steve Jobs famously penned a blog post entitled "Thoughts on Flash" in which he explained Apple's reasons for not supporting Flash within iOS. It was a major point of contention, as it prevented the iPhone from accessing some web content. Apple is now helping Adobe with the transition away from Flash.
Motorola today said consumers who purchase the new Moto Z2 Force at any time between now and September 10 will receive a free projector Moto Mod. Consumers can buy the Z2 Force via any channel, such as a wireless carrier, electronics store, or Motorola.com. Consumers then need only send the phone's IMEI number to Motorola, which will ship the projector free of charge. The Insta-Share Projector, released last year, is capable of projecting 70-inch images and video in high definition onto any flat surface. The projector includes its own battery and kickstand for finding the right angle. The projector normally costs $299.
Motorola today revealed a new modular accessory along with the Moto Z2 Force: an attachable 360-degree camera. The camera can capture 360-degree images and 4K video, as well as 150-degree shots from either the front or back. The 360 Camera Moto Mod comes with its own photo-editing software so people can customize the images to fit their particular sharing needs. The camera can also stream live 360-degree video across social media channels, such as Facebook and YouTube. The snappable mod goes on sale with the Moto Z2 Force on August 10. It costs $299.
Qualcomm today made its Snapdragon Neural Processing Engine SDK available to all developers. The SDK was first announced in May 2016 and has been in limited testing with select partners since the third quarter of 2016. Today signals the wide release of the SDK. The SDK will allow smartphone and other hardware manufacturers to add their own machine learning programs to devices with Snapdragon 600 and Snapdragon 800 series mobile platforms. Qualcomm says it is ideal for applications in industries including mobile, automotive, healthcare, security, and imaging. The Neural Processing Engine SDK relies on Qualcomm's Zeroth Machine Intelligence Platform. Zeroth is already baked into the Snapdragon processors. Qualcomm says the SDK will enable typical deep learning behaviors such as scene detection, text recognition, object tracking and avoidance, facial recognition, and natural language processing.. The SDK includes a bevy of tools to help developers create and add such learning behaviors to their devices.
Motorola today announced the Moto Z2 Force, the company's newest flagship phone. The phone sports a durable ShatterShield display, thin metal design, dual cameras, and of course supports the company's Moto Mods system of snap-on accessory modules. We took it for a quick spin and have some first impressions to share from our hands-on time with it.
Motorola announced the Z2 Force today, which replaces both the Z and Z Force from last year. The phone will be sold by most U.S. carriers, including AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, and Verizon Wireless. Motorola said the Verizon variant will not include the "Droid" branding that was found on last year's phones. Motorola is sticking with a single device name across carriers. Verizon did not provide comment on the name change. Motorola plans to sell the phone unlocked from Motorola.com, but there is no single unlocked model, according to Rudi Kalil, vice president and general manager at Motorola. Kalil said Motorola will offer unlocked variants for each carrier due to the specific cellular radio requirements for forthcoming 1 Gbps service that's under development from the carriers. The Moto Z2 Force is available for preorder today and will ship starting August 10.
Motorola today announced the Moto Z2 Force, its flagship handset for 2017. The Z2 Force carries over the Shattershield nearly unbreakable display from last year's phone. It is a slim handset boasting a metal chassis and compatibility with Motorola's system of Moto Mods accessories. The display measures 5.5 inches and offers quad HD resolution. The phone is powered by a Snapdragon 835 processor with 4 GB of RAM and 64 GB of storage. The new dual-camera array includes two sensors (one standard, one monochromatic) in the single raised module with two-tone flash. The cameras capture 12-megapixel images and allow for true black-and-white photography as well as selective focus for blurred backgrounds. Other specs include a wide-angle, user-facing camera with CCT flash for more accurate skin tones. The device includes Motorola's TurboPower charging with all-day battery life. Motorola says a 15-minute charge delivers 8 hours of battery life. This year's phone includes Motorola's standard nano-coating to protect the inner components from water damage, but the Z2 Force is not fully waterproof. It includes Motorola's multi-function fingerprint sensor as well as Moto Display with quick reply and Moto Voice with "show me" commands. The phone will be available in gray, black, and gold colors. The phone will be sold by most U.S. carriers and is available for preorder starting today. Motorola said the Moto Z2 Force hits stores August 10. It runs Android 7 Nougat.
Google today announced its Google Maps and Google Search apps will soon show critical information regarding natural and other disasters that may strike. The SOS Alerts, as they are called, will appear at the top of search results and within maps as people look for information concerning the disasters or impacted areas. In Google Search, results will include pertinent news stories or broadcasts, emergency numbers, and relevant web sites. Those close to disaster areas may receive push alerts with the same information. In Google Maps, Google will showcase data concerning the event, phone numbers and web sites, as well as placement on the map and real-time information regarding road closures or changes to mass transit. Google partnered with agencies including the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Red Cross to gain access to the information. Google is bringing SOS Alerts to its mobile Search and Maps apps for Android and iOS. The same information will also be available to desktop machines.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai said the company's handset partners have new Daydream-compatible devices in the pipeline and there should be a total of 11 such phones available by the end of the year. At the moment, only four phones are able to use Google's virtual reality headsets, including the Pixel and Pixel XL, ZTE Axon 7, Motorola Z, and Huawei Mate 9. It's not clear if Pichai was including the Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+, which are primed to receive Daydream compatibility through a software update. The figure likely does include Google's 2017 Pixel devices, whatever they may be. Daydream has certain hardware requirements, particularly where the display is concerned. For example, the display must be between 4.7 and 6 inches, must have a 60 Hz or greater refresh rate with low-persistence mode, and must have at least full HD resolution, with quad HD preferred. Companies including Motorola, HMD Global, Samsung, Sony, Huawei, and LG all have major device announcements lined up between now and early September. It is possible these forthcoming handsets will be among those supporting Google Daydream.
Samsung today added the Galaxy J7 and Galaxy J3 to its list of unlocked smartphones. The two inexpensive handsets will be available to purchase directly from Samsung's web site as well as select retailers starting July 28. The J7 (pictured) is the larger, costlier of the two with a 5.5-inch 720p HD screen and $220 price tag. It also has a 3,300mAh battery, 8-megapixel main camera, and 5-megapixel front camera with flash. The smaller J3 has a 5-inch 720p HD display and a $150 price point. The J3 also has a 2,600mAh battery, 5-megapixel main camera, and 2-megapixel front camera. Both phones support expandable memory cards, support U.S. 3G/4G networks, and run Android 7 Nougat. They have been available from several U.S. carriers (AT&T/Cricket, T-Mobile/MetroPCS) for several months.
Google today made Android O Developer Preview 4 available to application developers and said this is the final preview before Google releases Android O to consumers later this year. This build contains the final user interface system behaviors, the latest bug fixes and optimizations, and the final set of APIs. Google says along with the penultimate version of Android O, it is offering developers the stable version of the Android 26.0.0 Support Library along with incremental updates to the SDK, Android Emulator, and other developer tools. Among the new tools is a way for developers to test their applications for Android O preparedness. Those who have enrolled their devices in the Android Beta Program should receive Developer Preview 4 over the air in the next few days. Google has already made the system images available for those who prefer to manually install updates. This new preview can be installed on the Nexus 6p and 5x, Pixel, Pixel XL, and Pixel C, and the Nexus Player. Some of the core features of Android O include picture-in-picture, notification dots, widget picker, new emoji, and revamped settings tools. Google said the final version is expected to arrive later this summer. Google still has not revealed what dessert the "O" will be.
Apple today seeded the fourth beta of iOS 11 to application developers. This build is not meant for public beta testers, though Apple typically offers new public betas shortly after it releases developer code. In this beta, Apple continues to refine iOS 11 and add features based on developer feedback. The company did not call out any specific changes concerning iOS 11 Beta 4. The final release of iOS 11 should reach all users this fall. iOS 11 targets the iPad more than the iPhone, but both platforms gain expanded Control Center tools, a refreshed App Store, new camera features, Siri improvements, as well as updates to iMessage, the Keyboard, files, and more. Apple today also released new beta builds of watchOS, tvOS 11, macOS High Sierra 10.13, and Xcode 9.
T-Mobile today said it is extending the same scam-stopping tool its postpaid customers have enjoyed since April to its prepaid MetroPCS customers beginning July 25. T-Mobile introduced the network-based tool earlier this year to help identify and block potential scam calls. T-Mobile uses it to analyze every call that reaches the T-Mobile network against a global database of known scammers. If the number matches that of a scammer, T-Mobile will identify the call as a potential scam when it rings the subscriber's phone. Subscribers can then choose to ignore the call. This feature is called Scam ID and will be activated for all MetroPCS customers automatically. T-Mobile is also offering the ability for MetroPCS customers to block scam calls entirely. Subscribing to the Scam Block tool will prevent suspected scam calls from ringing even MetroPCS phones. T-Mobile says it has learned a lot about scammers since activating the tool earlier this year. For example, many scammers place calls during regular business hours between 8am and 5pm. T-Mobile updates its database of known and suspected scammers constantly and says alerting customers to scam calls helps prevent fraud. Both Scam ID and Scam Block are free. T-Mobile originally said Scam ID and Scam Block would reach MetroPCS customers during the spring.
OnePlus today said the high-end variant of its OnePlus 5 smartphone is now more widely available to U.S. buyers. Specifically, the OnePlus 5 Midnight Black with 8 GB of RAM and 128 GB of storage will now ship as soon as consumers place order. OnePlus initially launched this variant in limited supplies. This high-end model costs $539. The OnePlus 5 has a 5.5-inch full HD screen, Snapdragon 835 processor, dual cameras, 3,000mAh battery with rapid charging, and broad support for worldwide LTE bands. It ships with OxygenOS, which is based on Android 7 Nougat.
LG today provided more details about the Q8 smartphone. The handset, which appeared online last week, targets one-handed use and easy portability. LG's intent was to take the high-end features found on the prosumer V20 and put them in a smaller, more affordable package. The Q8 boasts a metal body with a 5.2-inch quad HD display and second screen for alerts and other action items. Other features include a Snapdragon 820 processor with 4 GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage, 3,000mAh battery, stereo headphone jack and USB-C. LG stepped up the audio with a Hi-Fi Quad DAC from ESS Technology, which LG says can cut down white noise by up to 50%. Moreover, the HD Audio Recorder captures studio-quality audio via 24-bit / 192 kHz in lossless FLAC format. Like the V20, the Q8 has a dual-camera configuration and rear-mounted fingerprint reader. The main camera has a 13-megapixel sensor with optical image stabilization, while the secondary shooter has an 8-megapixel sensor and a wide-angle lens. The cameras are augmented by a dual LED flash. The front camera has a wide-angle, 5-megapixel sensor. Other specs include Bluetooth 4.2, GPS, WiFi, LTE 4G, and an IP67 rating for protection against water ingress. The LG Q8 will be sold in Europe beginning this week, with Asia to follow. It appears the phone will not be made available in North America.
Verizon Wireless is throttling the speeds of Netflix and YouTube, according to customer complaints voiced on Reddit. Verizon's customers claim they are seeing Netflix and YouTube streams capped at 10Mbps, and some suggest the capped speeds are leading to degraded video quality. The issue is impacting customers who have limited and unlimited data plans. When asked for comment, Verizon told Ars Technica, "We've been doing network testing over the past few days to optimize the performance of video applications on our network. The testing should be completed shortly. The customer video experience was not affected." Verizon's statement doesn't necessarily reflect what its customers say is going on. If Verizon is indeed throttling the speeds of video apps, doing say may be a violation of the FCC's net neutrality rules that expressly forbid internet providers from throttling content.
Andy Rubin today provided an update concerning the expected arrival of his new company's Essential PH-1 smartphone. "We’ve been hard at work getting everything ready and the good news is that we’re now going through certification and testing with multiple U.S. and international carriers," said Rubin in an email to supporters. "You might be getting impatient to get your hands on your new Essential Phone (and I’m also impatient to get it to you!) but rest assured that you will have a device in your hands in a few weeks." Rubin said his team is "sweating the details and working long hours to get this device shipped." Rubin had previously committed to shipping the phone by the end of June. It now appears the device will arrive in August. The Essential PH-1 has a unique, magnet-based system for accepting modular attachments, such as a 360-degree camera, on the back panel. It includes a 5.7-inch quad HD screen with curved corners, Snapdragon 835 processor, and dual rear cameras. It will run a near-stock version of Android 7 Nougat and ship completely devoid of brand names or logos. Essential will sell the PH-1 directly to consumers, though Sprint also plans to carry the phone. It costs $699.
T-Mobile today introduced a limited-time offer to save big bucks on the Apple iPhone 7. The Uncarrier will give a $300 credit to those who trade in an iPhone 6, 6 Plus, 6s, or 6s Plus for an iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus. Trade-ins must be owned outright, with no remaining payments or commitments. T-mobile says the value of the trade-in can be applied to the purchase of a new iPhone 7 immediately, with the remainder of the $300 offer to arrive later in the form of a prepaid MasterCard. The offer requires people to finance the new iPhone on an installment plan with a T-Mobile service agreement. Sales tax is due on the full price of the new handset at the point of purchase. T-Mobile says the offer can be combined with its iPhone memory upgrade program, which knocks $100 off the price of the 256 GB iPhone for a potential total savings of $400. The balance of the $300 offer will arrive up to 8 weeks after T-Mobile customers sign up for the promotion on T-Mobile's web site. The offer cannot be combined with T-Mobile's Carrier Freedom program.
LG's Italian web site recently provided details about an unannounced handset called the Q8. The Q8 appears to be a less-expensive, smaller version of the LG V20. The Q8 does not carryover the 2:1 aspect ratio or FullVision display of the new Q series, such as the Q6, which was announced earlier this month. Instead, the Q8 boasts a metal body with a 5.2-inch quad HD display and second screen for alerts and other action items. Other features include a Snapdragon 820 processor with 4 GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage, 3,000mAh battery, stereo headphone jack and USB-C. Like the V20, the Q8 has a dual-camera configuration and rear-mounted fingerprint reader. The main camera has a 13-megapixel sensor with 78-degree lens at f/1.8 and optical image stabilization, while the secondary shooter has an 8-megapixel sensor with 135-degree lens at f/2.4 for wide-angle shots. Both sensors can take advantage of the dual LED flash. The front camera has a wide-angle, 5-megapixel sensor. Other specs include Bluetooth 4.2, GPS, WiFi, LTE 4G, and an IP67 rating for protection against water ingress. The LG Q8 will be sold in European markets soon. LG's U.S. press team would not comment on the phone's potential availability in North America.
Cricket Wireless today annouced new service and handset promotions meant to entice customers to sign up for the prepaid carrier. To start, Cricket is offering new and existing customers two lines of unlimited service for $80 per month. That includes unlimited mobile data, messaging, and voice calls. Cricket caps data speeds at 3 Mbps, and will throttle unlimited customers who exceed 22 GB of data per billing period. In addition to the new service promo, Cricket has a number of deals on smartphones. For example, the Alcatel PulseMix is $80 with a new activation, or just $30 with a port-in. Similarly, the LG x charge is $130 with a new activation or just $100 with a port-in. Other phones with available discounts include the ZTE Sonata 3 and Blade X Max; LG Fortune, Harmony, and Stylo 3; and the Samsung Galaxy Amp 2. Cricket said the promos are available for a limited time.
Amazon is making Alexa, its artificial intelligence, available to the Android mobile shopping application beginning this week. Any Android device with the Amazon app aboard will have access to Alexa, allowing people to search for and buy goods simply by asking Alexa. Amazon brought this functionality to the iOS Amazon shopping app earlier this year. Amazon says Android users can search for paper towels or reorder batteries and Alexa will do those things within the confines of the Amazon app. The app also lets people listen to music and play Kindle books, ask basic questions, add skills, access Smart Home features, and check the news, weather, and traffic via voice requests. The app works with Android users' Amazon accounts and subscriptions to services such as Amazon Prime. Android device owned can access Alexa by tapping a microphone built into the app. Separate Alexa-powered devices, such as the Amazon Echo, are not required. The Amazon mobile shopping app for Android is free to download from the Google Play Store.
Apple today updated its Clips mobile video application with characters from Disney movies and new graphic overlays and posters. Apple says several classic Disney characters, such as Mickey, Minnie, Donald and Daisy, can be added to videos complete with animations. A handful of Pixar characters are available, too, such as Wooody and Jessie from "Toy Story" and Fear and Sadness from "Inside Out." Along with the characters, new Disney-themed posters and backgrounds are available to enhance videos. Beyond the Disney content, Clips gains 10 new Apple-designed graphics, backgrounds, and animated text options so people can create more expressive and unique videos. Clips is available to more iPhones and iPads. It is free to download from the iTunes App Store.
Google today made good on its promise to expand the reach of YouTube TV to more markets. YouTube TV is now available in the 10 markets it announced last month, which include Dallas-Fort Worth, Washington, D.C., Houston, Atlanta, Phoenix, Detroit, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Miami-Fort Lauderdale, Orlando-Daytona Beach-Melbourne, and Charlotte. YouTube TV costs $35 per month. The service includes live TV streaming of local channels, unlimited DVR use, and up to six individual user profiles per account. The service has expanded the selection of content, too, which now stands at about 50 channels. The service initially launched earlier this year in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, Philadelphia, and the San Francisco Bay Area. YouTube TV is available on smartphones, tablets, PCs, and select television sets. It can be cast from handsets to set-top-box devices such as Apple TV and Chromecast.
Play Protect, a security tool Google announced earlier this year, has made its way to many of today's Android smartphones. Play Protect is a set of features that Google created to keep Android phones safe from malware and other malicious applications. For example, Play Protect scans apps before they are published to the Play Store to ensure they are secure. The tool then continuously scans the apps installed on individual Android devices for potential security problems. The service will alert users to risky apps. Google Play Protect encompasses the Find My Device tool, as well, which allows people to remotely locate, lock, or erase their device. Last, Play Protect secures the Chrome browser on many Android handsets and will warn and/or protect against dangerous web sites. Google Play Protect is available to devices running Play Services 11, and should already have been installed automatically on the majority of Android smartphones. It is accessible via the Google account settings.
Google today made its Motion Stills GIF-making application available to Android handsets for the first time. The app, first released last year, has until now been reserved for the iPhone. It was initially meant to help iPhone owners make shareable GIFs of their Live Photos. The Android version of Motion Stills takes a different approach. Google says the app includes its own recording experience to instantly capture and transform video into short clips that are easy to watch and share. People can capture 3-second clips with a simple tap and turn them into looping GIFs. Motion Stills for Android also includes a tool called Fast Forward, which accelerates longer recordings into shorter time-lapse bursts. Fast Forward can compress up to 1 minute of video and speed it up between 1x and 8x. Users can also string together a bunch of Motion Stills to create short movies. The app automatically stabilizes recordings, and the improved algorithm helps prevent pocket shots. Google says its new recording process can smooth out each frame immediately and produce shake-free GIFs near instantly. People can share the Motion Stills via text, email, and social networks. Motion Stills for Android is free to download from the Play Store.
OnePlus has created a patch for a bug that impacted the OnePlus 5 handset's ability to call 911. Some OnePlus 5 owners reported that calling 911 forced their handset to reboot, thus ending the in-progress 911 call. This has obvious safety implications. OnePlus worked directly with those impacted by the issue to develop a software fix to resolve the problem. "We have begun rolling out the software update. Timing may vary by region. We encourage OnePlus 5 users to download the update. If users haven't received a notification, check for the update by going to 'Settings' > 'System Updates'," said the company in a post to user forums. The OnePlus 5, the company's flagship handset, has been on sale since last month.
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