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printed October 31, 2014
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Verizon Responds to AT&T's Data Promo with Its Own

Today, 2:17 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless today announced a new data promotion shortly after AT&T revealed changes to its data offering. Verizon's promo benefits More Everything customers with mid-range plans. For example, the $80 More Everything plan now includes 10GB of data and the $100 plan now includes 15GB of data. The promo applies to new and existing customers and will be available starting November 1. Further, Verizon is offering $150 in bill credits to customers who port their number to Verizon with a new line of service. Verizon said both promotions will be available for a limited time.


AT&T Adds More Data to Mid-Range Plans

Today, 11:16 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T today tweaked its Mobile Share Value plans and added data to two of the options. Specifically, the $40 plan improves the data allowance from 2GB to 3GB, and the $70 plan improves the data allowance from 4GB to 6GB. All other plans/costs remain unchanged. The Mobile Share Value plans have a per-line access charge of $25 per month for AT&T Next subscribers or $40 per month for contract customers. The data packages are in addition to the per-line fees. AT&T also offers 300MB for $20 and 1GB for $25. All the plans include unlimited talk and text. Tablets still carry a $10 monthly access charge. The new plans will be available to new and existing customers from November 2 through November 15. Customers who need more data to share can take advantage of AT&T's Double the Data offer on its Mobile Share Value plans (15GB to 50GB), which now runs to November 15.


BlackBerry Releases BBM 2.5 for Smartphones

Today, 9:54 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

BlackBerry today said BBM 2.5 is now available for Android, BlackBerry, and iOS devices. The company first revealed details of the updated messaging service earlier this month. Some of the new features include Timed Messages, which allow users to choose how long a message is visible to the recipient. Another feature, called Message Retraction, allows BBM users to delete messages they've sent from the phones of others. According to BlackBerry, this feature works with text messages only and not those that include pictures. Other updates include a streamlined sticker experience, high-def picture transfer, and music discovery through friends' playlists. BBM 2.5 will be available from the Play Store, BlackBerry World, and iTunes App Store later today.


Sprint Says Customers Can Now Lease Samsung Galaxy S5

Today, 8:57 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint has expanded the availability of its "iPhone for Life" leasing program to the Samsung Galaxy S5 and S5 Sport. Beginning today, new and existing customers can get an S5 or S5 Sport (16GB model) for $0 down and $20 per month via the Sprint Lease program. Customers lease the phone for 24 months. At the end of the 24-month period, customers can turn in their GS5 or GS5 Sport for a new device; purchase the GS5 or GS5 Sport for the remaining balance; continue leasing the phone on a month-to-month basis; or return the device and terminate their service. Existing Sprint customers who lease a GS5 or GS5 Sport between now and January 15 will receive a $15 monthly bill credit. The loyalty credit applies to those Sprint customers on Unlimited My Way, My All-in, Simply Everything, and Everything Data (Share) plans. Sprint didn't say how long the service credit will be applied to customer bills.


Madstar Mobile Latest Sprint MVNO Looking to Disrupt

Today, 7:56 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Madstar Mobile today announced itself as "the newest national wireless carrier." The MVNO resells access to Sprint's 3G/4G networks and claims to offer the benefits of postpaid and prepaid services at the same time. It bills for service on a postpaid basis, but it doesn't require credit checks, deposits, or contracts. Madstar says customers can cancel their service at any time with no fear of ETFs. The company offers a range of feature phones, smartphones, and access points. Customers can choose to pay full price for their phones or finance them with monthly payments. For example, the HTC One (M8) is available for $665 or as low as $29 per month on an installment plan. Other handsets in Madstar's roster include the Apple iPhone 5, Google Nexus 5, Kyocera Kona, and the Samsung Galaxy S5. Alternately, customers can bring their own compatible device and port their existing wireless number if they wish. The least expensive service plan costs $22 per month and includes 250 voice minutes, 250 messages, and pay-as-you-go data. Plan pricing jumps by $11 increments, with the most expensive option topping out at $88 per month. It includes unlimited voice minutes, messaging, HD Voice, and 2GB of data "Our goal is to provide subscribers with a cost effective, convenient and reliable wireless service using the device of their choice,” said David Pearsall, Madstar Mobile's founder & CEO. "Wireless devices and service have become a necessity, not a luxury and should be affordable to everyone without the need to prepay now for the right to service later." The company is based in New Milford, Conn.


Samsung Debuts the Metal-Clad Galaxy A Series

Today, 7:16 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung today announced the Galaxy A5 and A3, two mid-range smartphones meant to better compete with LG's L series and HTC's Desire devices. The A5 and A3 feature metal unibody construction and will come in a variety of colors. The two phones share most internal components. Both phones are powered by a 1.2GHz quad-core processor with 16GB of internal storage and support for microSD cards up to 64GB. Each includes Cat 4 LTE, Bluetooth 4.0, Wi-Fi, GPS, and NFC radios along with a handful of internal sensors. The A5 and A3 share 5-megapixel user-facing cameras and some of the selfie modes seen most recently on the Galaxy Note 4, such as wide-angle selfie.

  • A5: The A5 (pictured) is the larger of the two phones. It has a 5-inch HD screen, 13-megapixel main camera, 2GB of RAM, and a 2,300mAh battery.
  • A3: The smaller of the two phones has a 4.5-inch qHD display, 8-megapixel main camera, 1GB of RAM, and a 1,900mAh battery.
  • The Galaxy A5 and A3 run Android 4.4 KitKat with Samsung's Touchwiz user interface. They will go on sale in select markets beginning in November. US carriers have not yet announced plans to carry the devices.


    Android Founder Andy Rubin Leaving Google

    Today, 6:59 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

    Andy Rubin, who helped launch Google's Android business, is leaving the company. Rubin co-founded the Android operating system, which Google acquired in 2005. Rubin oversaw the initial development of the platform and remained at the head of Google's Android business until 2013, when he took on a role within the company's robotics division. Rubin is leaving Google to create a robotics incubator. Rubin's Android role was handed to Sundar Pichai in 2013, who was recently promoted to the head all Google's products, including Chrome and core experiences like Gmail. Rubin will be replaced by James Kuffner, who is a research scientist at Google. "I want to wish Andy all the best with what’s next," Google CEO Larry Page said in a statement. "With Android he created something truly remarkable -- with a billion-plus happy users. Thank you."


    FCC Approves 70 Bidders for AWS-3 Auction

    Yesterday, 4:11 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

    The FCC today published a list of entities approved to bid in the upcoming auction for AWS-3 spectrum. A total of 70 companies qualified to participate in the auction, which begins November 13. All applicants have been automatically registered for the auction and will receive additional materials in the days to come. The FCC will hold a mock trial on November 10 so participants can familiarize themselves with the bidding process. The FCC encourages all bidders to join the mock auction. Some of the companies approved to bid include AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon Wireless and a large number of smaller companies, partnerships, and entities. Sprint is not participating. The AWS-3 spectrum includes 65MHz in the 1695-1710MHz, 1755-1780MHz, and 2155-2180MHz bands. The collective reserve price for the lower block is $580 million and the collective reserve price for the upper blocks is $10.07 billion.


    Verizon Dinged $64M for Decade-Old Transgressions

    Yesterday, 1:12 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

    Verizon Wireless has agreed to settle a class action lawsuit over deceptive billing practices. Customers contend Verizon over-charged Family Share Plan subscribers between 2002 and 2006. They allege the company charged for in-network voice minutes that were meant to be free. They further claim Verizon over-charged for voice minute usage that exceeded the monthly allotment. For example, the main line was charged 25 cents per extra minute, but other Family Share Plan members were charged 45 cents per extra minute. The stepped-up charges were not spelled out adequately by Verizon Wireless. Verizon is putting $36.7 million into a settlement fund for customers over-charged for voice minutes. The remaining $27.5 million chunk is meant for customers who were billed for in-network minutes. The settlement has not yet been approved by a judge, and it's unclear how consumers are to go about being reimbursed.


    Google Adds Reading Tools to Play Books App

    Yesterday, 10:39 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

    Google today added several features to its Play Book reading application that make it better for consuming nonfiction material. The revised app, for example, allows users to skim or flip through pages, as well as add bookmarks throughout the text. The new skimming view makes it a breeze to jump from section to section, or scan through individual sections. Prior to this update, books needed to be read from front to back, with minimal support for jumping chapters or sections. Play Books also adopts Google's Material Design, which is the new design language of Android 5.0 Lollipop. Google Play Books is free to download from the Play Store.


    Samsung Gear S Goes On Sale Nov. 7

    Yesterday, 8:57 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

    Samsung and its carrier partners announced availability and pricing details for the Gear S smartwatch today. AT&T and Sprint will offer the device starting November 7, but T-Mobile won't sell it until November 9. Pricing for the wearable varies by carrier. The full retail price is $350. AT&T is offering it for $200 with a two-year contract and $10 monthly service charge. Sprint says customers can get the Gear S with $0 down followed by 24 monthly payments of $16. Sprint's Gear S plan also costs $10 per month. T-Mobile is selling the Gear S for $0 down followed by payments of $14.58 for 24 months. T-Mobile's Gear S service plan costs $5 per month. Verizon has yet to announce its pricing and service plan details. The Gear S requires a service plan because it can access 3G networks and make voice calls independent of a smartphone. The Gear S is based on Samsung's Tizen platform and features a 2-inch, curved Super AMOLED display with 360 x 480 pixels. In addition to 3G, the Gear S includes Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. Samsung says it can transition between cellular and Bluetooth connections seamlessly. It includes Samsung's S Voice service for voice commands, and has an on-screen keyboard for composing messages. Other features include Samsung's S Health and fitness apps, music player and gallery apps, and the ability to receive notifications from a variety of services. The Gear S is powered by a dual-core 1.0GHz processor with 512MB of RAM and 4GB of storage. It has a 300mAh battery, which Samsung claims provides for two days of usage per charge.


    Google Drive for Android Given Material Design

    Yesterday, 8:42 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

    Google recently updated the Google Drive application for Android devices. The revised app improves search tools by adding autocomplete as users type in the search box. Drive now allows users to attach email messages to shared files. The app has a brand new PDF viewer, which allows users to search for and select text within PDF documents. Last, Drive was updated with Material Design, the new design language for Android 5.0 Lollipop. Google Drive for Android is free to download from the Play Store.


    Skype for iPhone Updated with Usability Tweaks

    Yesterday, 8:37 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

    Skype today updated its iPhone application to version 5.7. The refreshed app mostly addresses user complaints in order to improve performance and ease-of-use. Skype 5.7 lets iPhone users press-and-hold photos within chats to save to their camera roll; reduces chat load times; adds avatars to all chat sessions, including groups, and updates them frequently; and simplifies the people list search and filter options, making it quicker to find contacts and initiate chat sessions. Skype 5.7 is free to download from the iTunes App Store.


    Microsoft Debuts Health Platform and Wearable

    Yesterday, 8:30 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

    Microsoft today announced Microsoft Health, a new platform that's similar in basic approach to Apple's HealthKit and Google's Google Fit programs. Microsoft Health relies on a cloud-based service where consumers and the industry both store health and fitness data. The Microsoft Health application is available today for Android, iOS, and Windows Phone devices. It collects information from third-party apps and services and saves the data to the cloud, where it can help users manage their health and fitness goals. Microsoft Health doesn't combine data points from apps locally on smartphones, which both HealthKit and Fit do. Instead, the data is analyzed by Microsoft's Intelligence Engine online, which can be used to generate graphs, charts, and other ways to assess the data. For example, Microsoft Health can tell people which exercises burn the most calories, or calculate the quality of users' sleep. Though Microsoft Health works with select third-party devices, such as Jawbone Up, Microsoft announced the Microsoft Band wearable. The band was designed to be worn all day long. It has 10 sensors inside that track steps, calories burned, heart rate, and more. Together with the Microsoft Health app, the Microsoft Band offers guided workouts created by Gold's Gym, Shape, and others. The band also includes notifications for incoming calls, messages, or social networking updates. The Band is available from Microsoft's web site and retail stores beginning today for $199. Last, Microsoft is offering SDKs and APIs to health providers and app developers so they may hook their products into Microsoft Health.


    Samsung Says It Will Refocus on Low-Cost Devices

    Yesterday, 8:06 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

    Samsung today indicated it plans to tackle anew the entry-level and mid-range smartphone segments after reporting a 60% drop in profits for its most recent financial quarter. The weakened profits reflects sluggish sales of its high-end smartphones, such as the Galaxy S5 and Note 4. Samsung's hold on the smartphone market has sunk three quarters in a row, forcing the company to reevaluate its strategy. "The mid-to-low end market is growing rapidly, and we plan to respond actively in order to capitalise on that growth," said Samsung Senior Vice President Kim Hyun-joon. The company said it would boost the appeal of its entry-level and mid-range devices by improving materials and features, while remaining competitive on price. Samsung has lost marketshare to low-cost rivals such as Xiaomi and Meizu in emerging markets, which represent the best opportunity for growth. The company recorded $3.9 billion in profits thanks to sales of televisions and memory chips.


    Sony Swaps Out Mobile Executives

    Yesterday, 7:30 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

    Sony today said it will replace Kunimasa Suzuki, who leads the company's smartphone business. Effective November 16, Hiroki Totoki will be the new president of Sony Mobile Communications. Totoki already serves as Sony's corporate planning director and is a close confidant of CEO Kazuo Hirai, according to Reuters. The change is a reaction to slow sales of Sony's Xperia smartphones and tablets, which have negatively impacted the company's financial performance. Sony has already lowered sales forecasts for the year, and investors fear it will lower its outlook again when it reports earnings on Friday.


    LG Slices Display Bezel to 0.7mm

    Yesterday, 7:24 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

    LG Display today announced a new LCD panel that practically eliminates the bezel. The panel measures 5.3 inches across the diagonal with full HD resolution. The bezels along the side edges of the screen measure just 0.7mm thick. LG said it accomplished this with what it calls "Neo Edge" module processing and an in-cell touch panel. It uses an adhesive instead of double-sided tape to attach and seal the edges of the screen's circuit board, backlight, and touch panel. These help eliminate a plastic guide panel, which would otherwise be required to hold everything together. The Neo Edge technology is dust and waterproof, blocks light leakage, helps prevent corrosion, and improves durability thanks to the flexibility of the the adhesive. LG said it will begin to produce the new panel in volume next month.


    Lenovo Completes Acquisition of Motorola

    Yesterday, 7:04 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

    Google has completed its sale of Motorola to Lenovo. Google first announced plans to sell Motorola in January. The deal was valued at about $2.9 billion. Google purchased Motorola in 2012 for more than $12 billion, in part for its treasure trove of 17,000 patents. Since then, Google has retooled Motorola's products and released innovative devices such as the Moto X, Moto G, and Moto E in 2013. During the last several months Motorola delivered a range of new handsets, including the second-generation Moto X and Moto G, the Droid Turbo, and the Nexus 6. Motorola's devices all feature stock Android operating systems with unique and helpful additions, such as Active Display and Moto Voice. Lenovo plans to keep the Motorola brand intact and will use it to grow its own presence in the market. According to Motorola chief Risk Osterloh, Motorola will remain headquartered in Chicago and will continue to develop its Moto and Droid lines of hardware with a focus on quick OS upgrades and technology that solves real-world problems. "In Lenovo we have a partner that shares our mission and that brings global scale, a diverse product portfolio and a track record of seizing strategic opportunities and making the most of them," said Osterloh in a blog post. "Together we will go farther, faster. With an impressive portfolio of smartphones, wearables and PCs, our two companies will be uniquely positioned to push the boundaries of choice and value, and bring exciting new experiences to people everywhere."


    Consumer Cellular Selling Moto G for $150

    Wednesday, 3:10 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

    Consumer Cellular today announced the availability of the Moto G. The G has a 5-inch 720p HD screen, 8-megapixel camera, and quad-core processor. Consumer Cellular is selling the device for $150. The company does not require contracts.


    Hands-On: Google Nexus 6

    Wednesday, 2:02 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

    The Google Nexus 6 is essentially a Moto X on steroids. It's huge, well-made, and has an appealing design. This full-sized phablet may impress, but it's not for everyone. Here are our initial impressions about Google's newest Nexus.

    continued ›


    MCX Goes On the Defensive, Offers New Details

    Wednesday, 1:23 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

    MCX took to its company blog today to "set the record straight" on what its forthcoming CurrentC product will and won't entail. First and foremost, MCX said participation in its payment service is voluntary. "MCX merchants make their own decisions about what solutions they want to bring to their customers; the choice is theirs. When merchants choose to work with MCX, they choose to do so exclusively. Importantly, if a merchant decides to stop working with MCX, there are no fines." In other words, companies that pick CurrentC to power mobile payments in their stores will not be permitted to accept alternate mobile payment services, such as Apple Pay or Google Wallet. MCS will not penalize members that decide to switch allegiances. According to MCX, CurrentC will work with most Android or iOS devices and will offer loyalty programs, coupons, and payments all in a single transaction. It claims to meet the industry standard when it comes to fraud protection, and will allow consumers multiple different payment methods (credit card, merchant card, bank account). MCX claims consumers will be in control of their personal data (including location) and they can share as much or as little as they want with retailers. The company believes its QR code-based system will work well at retail locations, and points to the success Starbucks has had with a similar system. It said it might add other payment options, such as Bluetooth, down the road. MCX came under fire this week after CVS and Rite-Aid, which support CurrentC, ceased accepting Apple Pay and Google Wallet. CurrentC is currently being tested in select markets and won't fully launch until next year.


    Google Shows Off New Play Movies App with Info Cards

    Wednesday, 1:07 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

    Google today announced a new version of the Play Movies app for Android devices. The most significant new feature is support for info cards that appear on the user's smartphone or tablet when watching content via Chromecast or Android TV. The info cards will pop up on the mobile device during movie or TV show playback to provide info about the actors involved and other details. The app has also been updated with Material Design, which is the new design language Google is using for Android 5.0 Lollipop. The new Google Play app will roll out over the next few days.


    Google Opens Nexus 6 Preorders, But Phone Already Backordered

    Wednesday, 12:29 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Wednesday, 12:37 PM

    Google today began accepting preorders for the Nexus 6 smartphone via the Google Play Store. However, Google almost immediately sold through its initial supply of the phone. Google says it is "out of inventory" and interested consumers should "check back soon." The phone, made by Motorola, comes in indigo blue or white, and either 32GB or 64GB variants. None of the four models is available. Google didn't say when it will replenish its inventory. Google only offers the unlocked model, which starts at $649. The phone will be sold by AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, and Verizon Wireless in the weeks ahead. The carriers will offer the phone with contract and monthly installment pricing.


    WhatsApp Pushes Voice Calling Launch to 2015

    Wednesday, 7:07 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

    WhatsApp has been forced to delay its planned mid-2014 launch of voice calling until next year. The company said it is still working to overcome some technical hurdles, such as functionality over 2G networks and gaining access to select smartphones' microphones for novice-cancellation purposes. WhatsApp is an over-the-top messaging application that lets smartphone owners avoid carrier-based messaging fees. It was acquired by Facebook earlier this year for $21 billion. The company now says the voice calling service should go live during the first quarter of 2015.


    Sprint Lights Up 17 More Spark Markets

    Tuesday, 3:08 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

    Sprint today launched its Spark service in 17 new markets scattered around the country. Spark uses three different spectrum bands to ensure the best possible LTE connection and speed. The new markets include Sacramento, Calif.; Denver, Colo.; Bay City, Flint, Midland, and Saginaw, Mich.; Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn.; Henderson, N.C.; Cleveland, Columbus, Mount Vernon, New Philadelphia, Tiffin, and Youngstown, Ohio; Ogden, Utah; Seattle, Wash.; and Sheboygan, Wisc. Sprint says Spark is available in 46 markets and will meet its goal of covering 100 million POPs by the end of the year. Sprint sells 38 devices that are compatible with Spark.


    Google Releases Fit App for Tracking Fitness

    Tuesday, 1:04 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

    Google today made available Google Fit, a new app for Android devices that takes advantage of the sensors found within smartphones to track activity and exercise. The app can automatically sense walking, running, hiking, and cycling. It syncs with a handful of third-party fitness apps and can display all the information generated by those apps in easy-to-understand graphs and charts. Google Fit can be accessed from Android smartphones and tablets, Android Wear devices, and via the web. It is free to download from the Play Store.


    FTC Sues AT&T Over Throttling Practices

    Tuesday, 12:52 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Tuesday, 1:53 PM

    The U.S. Federal Trade Commission today filed a lawsuit against AT&T alleging the company has deceived consumers by throttling the speeds of subscribers to its unlimited plan. AT&T has throttled wireless speeds since 2011, but the FTC says it hasn't properly informed customers about the parameters that trigger it. According to the FTC, AT&T has slowed down broadband speeds of 3.5 million subscribers a total of 25 million times. Subscribers to its unlimited plans have filed thousands of complaints, accusing the company of using bait and switch tactics. The FTC found AT&T throttled data speeds of unlimited customers after they used as little as 2GB. Speeds were often reduced by 80 or 90%, making many network-based activities unusable. "AT&T promised its customers 'unlimited' data, and in many instances, it has failed to deliver on that promise," said FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez. "The issue here is simple: 'unlimited' means unlimited." The agency is charging AT&T with violating the FTC Act for changing the terms of service while customers were still under contract. AT&T no longer offers unlimited plans and instead requires customers to purchase data by the bucket. Most carriers throttle the speeds of those who use the network excessively. "The FTC's allegations are baseless and have nothing to do with the substance of our network management program, said AT&T general counsel Wayne Watts. "It's baffling as to why the FTC would choose to take this action against a company that, like all major wireless providers, manages its network resources to provide the best possible service to all customers, and does it in a way that is fully transparent and consistent with the law and our contracts."


    Hands-On: Motorola Droid Turbo for Verizon Wireless

    Tuesday, 11:23 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

    Motorola showed off the Droid Turbo today, a high-end handset headed to Verizon Wireless. Motorola says the phone is tough, powerful, and smart. Here are our initial impressions of the latest Droid.

    continued ›


    Google Highlights Android 5.0's Security Improvements

    Tuesday, 11:21 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

    Google today offered some insight into the steps it has taken to protect users through changes made to Android 5.0 Lollipop. For starters, Lollipop uses encryption by default. All the key communications tools (calls, messages) are encrypted and can't be accessed by others. Second, Google has improved the lock screen in order to encourage more people to use it. In addition to PIN codes and passwords, users can make use of trusted Bluetooth or NFC devices to unlock their device, or even smile at the user-facing camera. Last, Android 5.0 Lollipop works harder to sandbox apps from one another. With Android 5.0, Security Enhanced Linux Enforcing mode is required for all applications on all devices. This means apps can't share information with other apps without the user's permission. Android 5.0 will first ship on the Nexus 6 smartphone and Nexus 9 tablet. It will reach older Nexus devices in November.


    Motorola Droid Turbo Boasts 48-Hour Battery Life

    Tuesday, 11:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

    Motorola and Verizon Wireless today announced the Droid Turbo, a high-end handset that claims to offer two days of battery life. The Droid Turbo's design is in keeping with Droids past and comes in several finishes, including metallic fiber and ballistic nylon. Motorola says the Droid Turbo is tough enough for everyday abuse, though it is not ruggedized. The innards are protected by a water-repellent coating. The Droid Turbo has a 5.2-inch AMOLED quad HD display (2560 x 1440 pixels) that's protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 3. It is powered by a 2.7GHz quad-core Snapdragon 805 processor with an Adreno 420 GPU, natural language processor, and contextual computing processor. It has 3GB of RAM. The phone features a 21-megapixel main camera with an f/2.0 aperture, dual LED flash, and auto HDR. It can capture 4K video and slow-motion in 720p HD. The user-facing camera captures 2 megapixels and 1080p HD video. The battery measures 3,900mAh and supports Turbo Charge technology (developed by Qualcomm). It can deliver 8 hours of up-time after being charged for just 15 minutes. The device supports Verizon's LTE 4G network and includes Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy, dual-band Wi-Fi, GPS, and a handful of internal sensors. The Droid Turbo runs Android 4.4.4 KitKat (upgradable to Android 5.0 Lollipop) with Motorola's unique features on board, such as Active Display, Voice, and Droid Zap for sharing content with nearby devices. The Motorola Droid Turbo will be available October 30. The 32GB model costs $199 with a contract or $25 per month with Verizon Edge, while the 64GB model costs $249 with a contract or $27 per month with Verizon Edge. For a limited time, Verizon is offering all Droid Turbo customers a minimum of $100 for trade-ins, no activation fees, and early access to the Verizon Edge program. Last, Verizon says any customer who breaks the screen of their Droid Turbo during the first year of ownership will receive one free screen replacement.

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    Softcard Now Buys a Big Mac with Cheese

    Tuesday, 8:13 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

    Softcard announced that it is accepted at more than 14,000 McDonald's locations around the country beginning today. Smartphone owners can make NFC-based mobile payments at the register and the drive-thru at all McDonald's restaurants. Softcard is free to download and is compatible with more than 80 Android handsets sold by AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless. Softcard (formerly Isis) competes with Apple Pay.


    PlayStation Remote Play Now Available to Sony Xperia Z3

    Tuesday, 8:02 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

    Sony today said the Remote Play app is now available to the Xperia Z3 family of devices. Remote Play allows PS4 owners to play theiir console games on their smartphone or tablet via Wi-Fi when at home. In addition to the Z3, Sony said it will offer Remote Play to the Z2 smartphone and Z2 tablet in the coming weeks. Remote Play is one of the core functions of the Z3 touted by Sony when it was announced in September. In addition to the smartphone, Remote Play is compatible with a number of accessories, including the Dual Shock controller and a smartphone stand. Remote Play is free to use.


    ARM Debuts Three Mali GPUs for Mobile Devices

    Tuesday, 7:33 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

    ARM today revealed three new GPUs that target high-end and mid-range smartphones. The Mali T800 series promises to deliver better multimedia performance as well as increased efficiency for all levels of hardware. The Mali-T820 is meant for volume smartphones and offers a 40% boost in performance compared to its predecessor. The Mali-T830 has a bit more horsepower, but still offers a 55% performance improvement. Last, the Mali-T860 targets high-end devices. It supports 4K video capture and playback, and also sees effiency gains when compared to its predecessor. The company also revealed a new video accelerator and a display processor to complement the T800 family of GPUs. ARM expects to see the Mali-T800 family in devices by the end of 2015.


    Microsoft's New SDK Lets Devs Add Office 365 to Their Apps

    Tuesday, 7:13 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

    App writers can now integrate Office 365 features into their own applications thanks to a new SDK from Microsoft. The SDK is modular and has five distinct parts, such as Outlook services and Directory services. They can be used individually or all together. Separate SDKs are available for the Android and iOS platforms. Microsoft hopes developers will take advantage of the new features to enrich business-grade apps for Android and iOS devices.


    ZTE Partners with New York Knicks

    Monday, 12:57 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

    ZTE today announced a new marketing partnership with the New York Knicks basketball team. Moving forward, ZTE will be the official smartphone provider for the Knicks. The company said it hopes to increase the visibility of its brand, as well as connect with Knicks basketball fans and help those fans better connect with the Knicks. The company will have signage within Madison Square Garden and in-game promos, such as seat upgrades. The partnership doesn't pertain to a specific device and will be used to market a range of handsets over the course of the year.

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    CVS, Rite Aid Shut Out Apple Pay

    Monday, 7:19 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

    CVS and Rite Aid have disabled the NFC-based payment systems within their stores, effectively preventing consumers from using Apple Pay to make tap-and-go payments. Spokesperson Ashley Flower said Rite Air "does not currently accept Apple Pay" and that Rite Aid is "still in the process of evaluating out mobile payment options." CVS did not provide a comment, but Apple Pay worked in CVS stores when the service launched on October 20 and and ceased to work over the weekend. Neither CVS nor Rite Aid was ever officially named by Apple as an Apple Pay supporter, but both have NFC-equipped payment terminals in their retail locations. Though neither company said why they don't support Apple Pay, some believe it is because they are backing a rival mobile payment system being developed by the Merchant Customer Exchange. The MCX launched in 2012 with the goal of creating a mobile payment service for smartphones. The MCX app is not expected to reach consumers until next year. The original list of supporters included 7-Eleven, Alon Brands, CVS/Pharmacy, Darden Restaurants, HMSHost, Hy-Vee, Lowe's, Publix Super Markets, Sears, Shell Oil, and Sunoco, though an unknown number of organizations have joined since 2012. According to the New York Times, MCX's app will be called CurrentC and involves scanning a QR code on the phone's display. Apple Pay is simpler to use, as consumers don't even have to wake their phones to make payments.


    Twitter to Acquire Twitpic, Keep Photos Alive for Now

    Oct 25, 2014, 3:52 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

    Twitpic today announced that Twitter has agreed to take over the Twitpic domain and photo archive. Had Twitter not scooped up Twitpic's assets, the photo-sharing tool would have shut down entirely. Moving forward, Twitpic users will be able to sign into their accounts online to retrieve their photos, delete them, or delete their account, but not to post new photos. The service will remain up and running in a read-only mode. Accordingly, Twitpic has removed its Android and iOS apps from the Google Play and iTunes app stores. "Twitter shares our goal of protecting our users and this data. Also, since Twitpic's user base consists of Twitter users, it makes sense to keep this data with Twitter," said Twitpic's Noah Everett in a blog post. The company made the decision to shut down after Twitter demanded Twitpic abandon its trademarked application or risk losing access to Twitter's API. Twitpic launched in 2008 and was one of the first tools for sharing photos within Twitter.


    FCC Delays Incentive Auction Until 2016

    Oct 24, 2014, 12:17 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

    The FCC today said it has been forced to push the planned mid-2015 incentive auction back to early 2016. According to the FCC, court challenges brought about by broadcasters have impacted its original timeframe. The FCC and broadcasters will face one another in court, with comments due in January 2015 and oral arguments set for later in the year. The FCC doesn't expect the matter to be resolved until the middle of 2015, which is when it hoped to begin the auction. The FCC now believes it won't be able to finalize the incentive auction's rules until after the middle of the year, and won't be able to begin accepting applications until fall 2015. It now says it will launch the reverse auction in early 2016. The incentive auction concerns 600MHz airwaves, which the FCC hopes television broadcasters will sell to mobile network operators in order to make it available for wireless broadband services.


    Microsoft Makes Branding Change Official

    Oct 24, 2014, 6:44 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

    Microsoft today indicated its branding transition from Nokia Lumia to Microsoft Lumia is progressing as planned. Microsoft has slowly been rebranding apps, services, and web sites from Nokia to Microsoft. The company has now reached the point where its Windows Phone hardware will make the same change. The last smartphones announced to wear the Nokia brand are the Lumia 830 and Lumia 735 Windows Phones, which were announced in September. The company said the first Microsoft Lumia device will be announced soon, though it didn't share any details. Microsoft will, however, continue to sell Nokia-branded feature phones, such as the Nokia 130. Microsoft has licensed the Nokia name from Nokia for such devices. All its smartphones will use the Microsoft name moving forward.


    LG Shows Off Its First Mobile Processor, Dubbed 'Nuclun'

    Oct 24, 2014, 6:29 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

    LG today announced the Nuclun, its first application processor for smartphones and tablets. The Nuclun is an eight-core chip with two banks of four cores each. It uses ARM's big.LITTLE configuration with four 1.5GHz Cortex A15s for heavy lifting and four 1.2GHz Cortex A7s for power sipping. The Nuclun supports LTE Cat. 6, which boasts theoretical download speeds of up to 225Mbps. In order to properly showcase the Nuclun's capabilities, LG also revealed the G3 Screen, the first smartphone to rely on the Nuclun as its engine. The G3 Screen borrows its design language from the G3, but increases the size of the screen to 5.9 inches while downgrading the resolution to 1080p HD. The G3 Screen has 2GB of RAM, 32GB of storage, and supports microSD cards. The main camera captures 13.1 megapixels and includes optical image stabilization, while the user-facing camera captures 2.1 megapixels. The GS3 Screen has a 3,000mAh battery and runs Android 4.4 KitKat. LG didn't say when or where the G3 Screen will be sold.


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