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printed May 22, 2015
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AT&T Taps East Kentucky Network for 700MHz Licenses

Yesterday, 2:14 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T has filed paperwork with the FCC hoping to gain permission to purchase three Lower 700MHz C Block licenses from East Kentucky Network. The licenses in question cover 20 counties in three Cellular Market Areas across regions of Kentucky, Ohio, and West Virginia. Because all the licenses fall below the 1GHz threshold, the FCC will used its "enhanced factor" yardstick to measure the transactions. The FCC says AT&T stands to hold 113 to 145MHz of spectrum in total, and 43 to 55MHz of below-1-GHz spectrum, in these three CMAs. The FCC has accepted AT&T's initial batch of paperwork and set a schedule to oversee the transaction. Small spectrum purchases and exchanges are common between license holders.


HTC Posts Its Email App to the Play Store

Yesterday, 1:04 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

HTC recently made the HTC Mail application available as a stand-alone app in the Google Play Store. By separating the app from its Sense user interface, HTC is now able to update the app with new features and resolve bugs more efficiently. Previously, such updates were limited to distribution with full OS rewrites. The version available today in the Play Store doesn't add any new features over what's available to devices running the latest version of Sense. HTC Mail is free to download.


RadioShack Finalizes Sale of Name and Customer Data

Yesterday, 7:07 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

A Delaware bankruptcy judge approved the sale of RadioShack's name and certain customer data to an affiliate of Standard General for $26.2 million. One of the key issues resolved over the last seven days concerned AT&T and Apple customer data. AT&T, Apple, and several state attorneys general disapproved of the sale of the customer data, and argued RadioShack had agreed to never sell it. Under the terms of the agreement, Standard General agreed to limit its own customers to email data generated over the last two years, as well as to only provide access to seven of 170 fields of data that RadioShack kept on its customers. The sale gives Standard General access to 67 million names and email addresses, rather than the full list of 117 million. Earlier this year Standard General purchased 1,734 RadioShack stores, which it plans to operate in cooperation with Sprint.


Sprint Partners Making Headway in Rural LTE Push

Yesterday, 6:56 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint says 16 of the 30 companies who've agreed to participate in its Rural Roaming Preferred Provider program have launched their LTE networks. The Rural Roaming Preferred Provider program is similar to Verizon Wireless' LTE in Rural America initiative. Both programs lease spectrum to small, regional providers who build out coverage in their home market areas. Under the terms of the agreement, the larger carriers' customers can roam onto the regional LTE network and vice versa. The idea is to bring coverage to areas where the larger operators might not necessarily like to commit resources to build out their own network. Sprint would not say which of its partners have launched their LTE networks. Some of the partners include SouthernLINC Wireless, nTelos Wireless, C Spire Wireless, Phoenix Wireless, Bluegrass Cellular, Pine Belt Wireless, Pioneer Cellular, and United Wireless. "Our partners use a variety of LTE bands, including bands 4, 5, 12 and 25," said Sprint's Adrienne Norton. "We're continuing to work with our device OEMs to enable additional LTE bands to expand coverage for our domestic and international roamers." Sprint's LTE footprint covers about 280 million POPs. T-Mobile, which recently disclosed that it too has leased spectrum to regional operators, also covers about 280 million POPs. AT&T and Verizon Wireless both claim to cover about 308 million POPs.


Deutsche Telekom Will Consider 'Any Partner' for T-Mobile

Yesterday, 6:44 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Deutsche Telekom executives today indicated they are still weighing the best path forward for T-Mobile US, especially when it comes to improving profitability. "It is our duty to go on improving the return on T-Mobile US," said CEO Tim Hoettges. "If we find a partner who will help us to do so, we will obviously consider it." Deutsche Telekom owns 66% of T-Mobile US and last year attempted sell the company to Japan's SoftBank. T-Mobile has gained more than 8 million customers in the last year, but has done so at considerable expense. Deutsche Telekom said it is under no pressure to sell T-Mobile, but the German company is making it clear that it is open to suggestions.


AT&T Hopes to Score Spectrum from Cellular Properties

Wednesday, 3:55 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Wednesday, 5:05 PM

AT&T recently filed paperwork with the FCC seeking permission to buy some Cellular A Block and microwave point-to-point spectrum from Cellular Properties Inc. The spectrum in question covers 11 counties and parts of two Cellular Market Areas in Illinois. Further, CPI's assets and customers would be transferred to AT&T. Because the Cellular A Block spectrum falls under the 1GHz threshold, the FCC will use the "enhanced factor" litmus test in examining the request. The FCC says post-transaction AT&T would hold 45MHz of the available 134MHz low-band spectrum in the named CMAs. Low-band spectrum is valued more than mid- or high-band spectrum and requires extra consideration. The FCC has accepted AT&T's initial filing and slapped a protective order on it to keep some portions of the proceedings secret. AT&T contends the deal will help improve its own network in the area while also opening up its services to CPI's existing customers. A dollar value on the transaction was not disclosed.


Cyanogen Introduces Platform SDK

Wednesday, 3:30 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Cyanogen today announced the Cyanogen Platform SDK, a new tool meant to make developing for Cyanogen easier. Cyanogen describes the Platform SDK as an open-source tool that lets developers use existing APIs within CyanogenMod's framework or to create their own APIs for the greater community. Cyanogen believes approaching its platform from an SDK/API perspective will be less daunting than approaching the platform as a whole. The organization is offering an alpha-level SDK with an introductory API for the Quick Settings Tile. Cyanogen hopes developers will take a look and eventually contribute to its platform. Cyanogen is based on Google's Android operating system, but the organization has broken away from Google's version in favor of its own. Earlier this year Cyanogen partnered with Microsoft and will include Microsoft's productivity apps in its operating system. Cyanogen has lots of documentation ready for developers and looking forward to community submissions to the Cyanogen Platform SDK.


T-Mobile Serving Up Variety of Memorial Day Promos

Wednesday, 12:34 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today announced a handful of device and service promotions that will become available over the holiday weekend. To start, T-Mobile is offering a free memory upgrade to buyers of the Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge. From May 23 through May 25, the 64 GB model will cost the same as the 32 GB model. Customers who buy the 32 GB will receive a $50 Visa gift card. Following their appearance on T-Mobile's web site earlier this month, the company shared pricing details for the LG Stylo and Leon. The Stylo will cost $289.92 at full retail or $12.08 per month and the Leon will cost $149.76 at full retail or $6.24 per month. T-Mobile Prepaid customers can score the Leon for free with an online rebate. T-Mobile-owned MetroPCS will also sell the Stylo and Leon for $199 and $49, respectively, after online rebates. Customers who switch to MetroPCS from a competing carrier will receive a free LG Leon or $50 toward the phone of their choice. Last, MetroPCS is recirculating the 4x100 promotion. Customers can get four lines with unlimited talk, text, and 2 GB of data per line for a total of $100.


Spotify Finesses Auto Playlist Generation, Adds Video

Wednesday, 10:45 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Wednesday, 10:49 AM

Spotify today introduced new features to its streaming music service on the desktop and on mobile devices. The biggest change involves how people discover music and create playlists. A feature called Spotify Now purports to know what listeners want to hear at different times of the day and can automatically generate playlists for different activities, such as commuting, working, and relaxing. The service is also adding video content, which will come from a variety of sources, such as Comedy Central, Vice, ESPN, NBC, Adult Swim, TED, and others. Much of the video content will focus on music and will be short-form clips rather than long shows or episodes. The company is also targeting runners with new music controls that make it easier to select and control playlists while exercising. Spotify is placing an emphasis on discovering the songs that match tempo to the runner's pace. Spotify uses on-device sensors to determine pace and can do so very quickly. The company thinks this can help runners improve their workouts. Spotify has apps for Android, iOS, and Windows Phone. The new apps will reach consumers in the U.S., the U.K., Germany, and Sweden today, with other regions following over time.

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Some AT&T Partners to Cease Selling Contracts

Tuesday, 4:21 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Tuesday, 4:27 PM

AT&T today said some of its retailer partners are going to offer only AT&T Next plans beginning June 1. These retailers, like Walmart, may have national footprints, but the change is only being made in some locations that AT&T would not name. AT&T itself will continue to offer contracts at company-owned stores, as well as via its web site, telesales, and most other third-party retailers. "We regularly consider any number of offers that might appeal to our customers," said an AT&T spokesperson to Phone Scoop, "but [we] can share that two year contracts remain a part of our portfolio of offerings." AT&T said it believes customers prefer to have choice. While many of its customers are moving to AT&T Next plans -- which break up device payments over time -- some of its customers still want subsidized handsets and don't mind signing contracts to get them. The change being made by some of AT&T's retail partners does not represent a change in strategy for AT&T. AT&T Next plans are the carrier's response to T-Mobile's Simple Choice plans, which forgo contracts and also break up device payments over time. Sprint and Verizon have their own device payment plans, too. The device payment plans have become popular with consumers because they don't require contracts and often allow people to upgrade to new phones at a faster rate.


ZTE Fanfare Lands On Cricket

Tuesday, 3:13 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Cricket Wireless recently added the ZTE Fanfare to its lineup of inexpensive handsets. The Fanfare has a 4.5-inch screen with 854 x 480 pixels. It is protected by Dragontail glass. The Fanfare is powered by a 1.2 GHz dual-core Snapdragon 200 processor and comes with 1 GB of RAM and 4 GB of ROM. The Fanfare's main camera has a 5-megapixel sensor and can capture 720p HD video, and the user-facing camera has a VGA sensor. A 2,000mAh battery keeps the Fanfare running. The device has Google's Android 4.4 KitKat on board. Walmart is selling the ZTE Fanfare for Cricket Wireless. It is priced at $69.88.


Google Brings Tweets Back to Search

Tuesday, 1:11 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today announced that it is adding tweets to search results. Tweets will now appear alongside standard results when users search from Google.com, from the Google app on Android and iOS devices, or from any mobile browser. Google believes bringing tweets to search results is a good way for people to read about things as they unfold. Google put tweets in search results several years ago but eventually removed them. For now this feature is limited to English. Google said it plans to add more languages over time.


Instagram's Layout App Reaches Android

Tuesday, 12:40 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Instagram today made its Layout application available to the Android platform. Available to the iPhone since March, Layout makes it easier to assemble collages through custom layouts, easy access to photos containing people, and a handful of tools such as pinch-to-zoom and other effects. Layout also features a photo booth function that lets users take pictures on the spot and create instant collages in the moment. Layout for Android is free to download from the Google Play Store. Instagram also updated its main app for Android with a new feature called Structure. According to Instagram, Structure helps bring out details and textures in photos. This feature will reach the iPhone soon. Instagram for Android is also free to download from the Play Store.

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Apple Delivers First Update to the Apple Watch

Tuesday, 12:10 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple today made available Watch OS 1.0.1, the first system update for the wearable since its release in April. Apple focused on ridding the Watch of bugs and made a number of performance improvements. For example, Siri should function more consistently and the Watch is better at measuring standing activity. The Watch can now calculate calories for indoor cycling and rowing, as well as measure distances and paces during outdoor walk and run workouts. Watch OS 1.0.1 makes tweaks to accessibility and adds support for new emoji. Last, the Watch now speaks, Brazilian Portuguese, Danis, Dutch, Swedish, Russian, Thai, and Turkish. The update must be installed through the companion iPhone.

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Microsoft Releases New Office Apps for Android Smartphones

Tuesday, 11:52 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Microsoft today released a preview version of Office for Android smartphones. The latest renditions of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint closely match those available to the iPhone. Microsoft said it made a lot of improvements to the apps based on feedback for the Android tablet version of Office. The apps are designed to be finger friendly and support many of the same features found on the full desktop versions. Users can create, open, edit, and save files to OneDrive, OneDrive for Business, SharePoint, Dropbox, Google Drive, and Box. Microsoft's Office apps for Android are free to download from the Play Store, but Microsoft is requiring people to join the Office for Android Community in order to access them.


MixRadio Expands to Android and iOS

Tuesday, 11:40 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

MixRadio today made its customized radio service available to Android and iOS devices for the first time. Microsoft acquired MixRadio when it purchased Nokia's handset business, but later divested it to a messaging company called Line. Due to its relationship with Nokia and Microsoft, MixRadio has been exclusive to Windows Phones until today. The new Android and iOS apps, which are available from the Play Store and iTunes, include thousands of free, curated radio stations similar to how Pandora operates. The service lets users create and listen to personalized radio stations, and can be cached on devices for offline playback. The app is supported by ads, but MixRadio may launch an ad-free version later this year. It is available in 31 countries, including the U.S. In addition to announcing the new apps, MixRadio said it has partnered with HTC to provide music-related news stories for HTC's BlinkFeed application.


Use Samsung Flow to Move Tasks Between Devices

Tuesday, 10:49 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung and Think Tank today introduced a beta app called Flow, which is meant to help people transition tasks from one Samsung device to another. It is similar in concept to Apple's Continuity feature for iOS and Mac hardware. Flow offers Samsung smartphone owners two distinct use-cases: transfer an activity or defer an activity. With transfer, people can work on a particular activity and then move it to another device and pick up right where they left off. For example, users can listen to clips on Soundcloud on their smartphone and then transfer the activity to their tablet without missing a beat. The deferring feature lets people defer an incoming activity request on one device if, for example, it's not the right device for that particular task. They can then pick up the activity on whichever other device they prefer when they're ready. According to Samsung, Flow supports existing applications through Android's share mechanism. Samsung expects to add more features, including notify, mirror, and divide, to Flow over time. For the moment, Flow is limited to the Galaxy S5, S6, and S6 Edge; Galaxy Alpha; Galaxy Note 4 and Note Edge; and the Galaxy Tab S. The beta app is free to download from the Google Play Store.


Verizon Expands XLTE to 6 More Markets

Tuesday, 9:11 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless today marked the one-year anniversary of its XLTE service by expanding coverage to six additional markets. XLTE is now available in Marshalltown, Iowa; Madisonville and Owensboro, Ky.; Traverse City, Mich.; Meridian, Miss.; and Martinsville, Va. Verizon's XLTE coverage is available in more than 400 markets. It combines Verizon's 700MHz and AWS spectrum to boost capacity of its LTE 4G network. Verizon says it has more than 40 XLTE-capable devices, including the Apple iPhone 6 and Samsung Galaxy S6.


YotaPhone Launches Indiegogo Campaign for YotaPhone 2

Tuesday, 8:12 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

YotaPhone today initiated an Indiegogo campaign for the YotaPhone 2. The company said earlier this year it intended to bring the YotaPhone 2 to certain markets via the crowd-funding site, and today it made good on its word. Early backers can score the YotaPhone 2 for $500, though the number of handsets available at that price is limited to 100. Most of the available stock costs $550. Yotaphone said it will ship the YotaPhone 2 to Indiegogo investors in early August, which is "just ahead of [our] general launch in North America." The YotaPhone 2 is unique because it has two screens: a standard display on the front and an e-ink display on the back to help save battery life.


LG Shows Off the G4c, A Smaller, Less-Expensive G4

Tuesday, 7:21 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

LG today announced the G4c smartphone, a smaller and less-costly version of the G4 handset. The G4c has a 5.0-inch screen at 720p HD and runs a quad-core Snapdragon 410 processor at 1.4 GHz with 1 GB of RAM. The phone has an 8-megapixel main camera and a 5-megapixel user-facing camera; 2,450mAh battery; and a handful of radios, including LTE 4G, WiFi, Bluetooth 4.1, NFC, GPS, and GLONASS. The LG G4c runs Android 5.0 Lollipop and includes LG software functions, such as Knock On, Knock Code, Quick Memo, and QSlide apps. LG said the G4c will reach key markets in the weeks ahead. LG also made the G4 Stylus more official. The G4 Stylus is being sold by carriers in the U.S. as the Stylo.


Hands-On: Asus Zenfone 2

Monday, 2:27 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Asus is diving back into the U.S. market with the Zenfone 2, its flagship device for the year. The phone boasts an impressive spec sheet, of that there's no doubt. Do specs make for a good phone? Read on for Phone Scoop's first impressions.

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Asus Zenfone 2 Goes On Sale May 19 for $299

Monday, 12:44 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Monday, 12:57 PM

Asus today said it will sell its 2015 flagship smartphone, the Zenfone 2, in the U.S. beginning May 19. Asus first revealed the Zenfone 2 at CES in January. The device has a 5.5-inch full HD screen and relies on a 64-bit Intel processor. The Intel Atom Z3580 chip has four cores clocked at 2.3 GHz, and is paired with a 533 MHz GPU, and 4 GB of dual-channel RAM. The chip includes integrated Cat 4 LTE-Advanced with Carrier Aggregation for compatibility with today's fastest 4G networks. The Zenfone 2 also includes a 13-megapixel camera with an aperture of f/2.0, Toshiba sensor, Super HDR, and dual-tone LED flash. Asus says the fast-charging mode can power the 3,000mAh battery to 60% capacity in 39 minutes. The device runs Android 5.0 Lollipop with Asus' ZenUI. It comes with a range of interchangeable rear covers, which Asus says consumers can use to personalize their handset. Asus is offering 100 GB of Google Drive storage to buyers of the device. The phone costs $299. (A slower version of the phone with 1.8 GHz processor and 2 GB of RAM costs $199.) Asus plans to sell the device unlocked via Amazon.com, Newegg, Groupon, and B&H photo. It is compatible with AT&T's network.


HTC Says 'Mini' Phones Still a Possibility

Monday, 12:01 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Monday, 12:08 PM

HTC today clarified statements made regarding its plans for smaller -- or "mini" -- versions of its flagship phones. A report, quoting an HTC executive, suggested that HTC did not plan to bring any more smaller-stature phones, such as the One mini 2, to market. HTC President of North Asia Jack Tong did say the industry is moving toward phones with screens larger than 5 inches. Tong "did not say HTC is not planning any more mini versions of its phones," said HTC spokesperson Jeff Gordon in an email to Phone Scoop. "To be clear, I'm not confirming HTC is coming out with an HTC One M9 mini," tempered Gordon, "only that Jack Tong didn't say what some press are attributing to him." In 2013 HTC followed up its One M7 flagship with a smaller and lower-spec'd mini variant. The company did the same thing in 2014 with the M8, but has yet to reveal any such plans for the M9.

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Appeals Court Says Samsung Didn't Copy Apple's Designs

Monday, 9:18 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

A federal appeals court today reversed part of a verdict won by Apple against foe Samsung regarding its designs and patents. Apple alleged Samsung copied its iPhone designs, or "trade dress," as part of its 2011-2012 lawsuit. Apple also sued over patent infringement. A jury agreed in August 2012 and awarded Apple $382 million for the trade dress violation and $548 million for the patent violations -- totaling some $930 million. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit agreed that Samsung violated Apple's patents, but said the iPhone's trade dress could not be protected. As such, the Federal court is sending the trade dress decision back to lower courts for reconsideration. Apple and Samsung have given up on most of their legal battles, but this particular case continues to wind its way through courts. Neither Apple nor Samsung offered immediate comment on today's decision.


Samsung to Fold Up Mobile Wallet App Ahead of Samsung Pay

Monday, 9:01 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung has indicated to its customers and business partners that it plans to close the Samsung Mobile Wallet application on June 30. The app launched with the intent of competing with Apple's Passbook in that it is best used to store membership and loyalty cards for varied businesses. It was never meant to serve as a mobile payment application. Samsung admitted that, since its mid-2013 launch, the service has not seen the uptake it hoped. Samsung said users' and partners' Samsung accounts will be maintained without changes, but the Samsung Wallet app, including its APIs, will no longer function after June 30. Samsung is prepared to launch Samsung Pay later this year. Samsung Pay will be available to the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge and will power mobile payments at participating retailers.


Sprint Expands Personal Concierge Service to More Cities

Monday, 8:31 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint today said its Direct 2 You home delivery and setup service is now available to all customers in Kansas City, Chicago, and Miami. Sprint initially launched the service in those markets in April, but it was limited to existing customers. The expansion now means any potential customer in Chicago, Dallas, and Miami can schedule a Sprint house call. Further, Sprint said it is expanding the service to New York City, San Francisco, and Denver in early June, with more markets to follow throughout the year. With Direct 2 You, a Sprint technician will bring the store experience directly to customers who purchase a new phone. Customers can still receive the same benefits as buying in stores, such as setting up the phone, transferring content from the old phone to the new one, and tutorials to ensure the customer understands how to use their new device. Techs will also be able to teach customers how to learn a new operating system if they're switching from an Android device to the iPhone or vice versa. Sprint's Direct 2 You service is offered free of charge.


Microsoft to Sidestep Carriers for Windows 10 Mobile Updates

Monday, 7:28 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Microsoft said it plans to take a more active role in making sure the existing base of Windows 10 smartphones has the latest code. The company is taking a page from Apple and will not rely on carriers to deliver operating system updates. Microsoft said, "We take our responsibility to keep Windows secure seriously. We [will] proactively update supported devices with necessary updates to address issues. And today, we're announcing this continuous update process applies to all Windows 10 devices, including phones." Microsoft confirmed to ZDNet that it will deliver security, performance, and feature updates to Windows 10 Mobile handsets itself, and the code will be pushed to all users simultaneously. The statement appears to apply to handsets that ship with Windows 10 Mobile, and not older devices. With Windows 8.1 and earlier, Microsoft relied on its carrier partners to approve and distribute system updates and it will continue to do so. As ZDNet points out, however, consumers with older handsets can join the Windows Insider program to maintain early access to new OS versions. Apple uses this same master distribution method for keeping its iOS devices up to date. Google still relies on its handset and carrier partners to update their individual devices to newer versions of Android.


Apple Buys Another Navigation Company

Monday, 7:12 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple confirmed that it has acquired a small, high-precision navigation company called Coherent Navigation. "Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time," said the company in a statement, "and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans." Apple did not say when it bought Coherent, and neither did it say how much it paid for the company. TechCrunch points out, however, that Coherent CEO Paul Lego's LinkedIn page suggests he's been working for Apple for about 5 months, placing the acquisition back around the beginning of the year. Apple has scooped up a number of small mapping and navigation companies over the last several years in an effort to increase the accuracy and ability of its Apple Maps application.


LG Begins Global Rollout of the G4

Sunday, 9:15 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

LG today said it will begin the global rollout of the G4 smartphone this week. The first countries to see the G4 include Turkey, Russia and Singapore. They will be followed by most of Europe, North America, Southeast Asia, Middle East/Africa, and South/Central America. LG said about 180 carriers plan to sell device worldwide. U.S. carriers have yet to reveal their specific launch details. Most are expected to carry the phone at some point in June.


AT&T Reveals the LG Escape 2

May 16, 2015, 3:51 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T's web site recently provided details about an unannounced handset from LG called the Escape 2. The Escape 2 has specs similar to the LG Spirit, which was announced earlier this year. The Escape 2 runs Android 5.0 Lollipop with LG's user experience, including Knock On, Knock Code, Quick Memo, and QSlide apps, according to the user manual. The phone has a 1.2 GHz quad-core processor with 1 GB of RAM, and 8 GB of storage. The Escape 2 boasts LG's rear-positioned button array and a slight curve to design. Other specs include a 4.7-inch HD display, front and rear cameras, and 2,100mAh battery. AT&T's web site did not say when the Escape 2 will go on sale, nor how much it might cost.

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Sprint Expands Number of Countries in Roaming Program

May 15, 2015, 3:38 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint today added seven countries to its International Value Roaming program. The program lets Sprint customers roam on 2G networks in select countries for free and offers reduced-rate voice minute calling for 20 cents per minute. The new countries are Colombia, Denmark, Honduras, Ireland, Italy, Paraguay, and Sweden. These join more than a dozen others, including Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Germany, Guatemala, Japan, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Russia, South Korea, Spain, and the U.K. The 2G roaming may be free, but customers who want 3G speeds or better when abroad will need to purchase a 1-, 7-, or 14-day Speed Pass. The 1-day pass starts at $15. Customers can add International Value Roaming to their service plan for free.


Virgin Mobile Improves Data Allotments

May 15, 2015, 1:24 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Virgin Mobile today announced the Data Done Right promotion, which kicks off May 16 at Walmart stores. The new plans offer 300 minutes, unlimited texting, and 3GB of high-speed data for $30 per month, or unlimited voice, texting, and 3GB for $40. These prices are $5 lower and each option includes 500MB more data. Accounts with more than one line have been improved, too. Two lines will have access to unlimited voice, unlimited messaging, and 6GB of data for $65; three lines get 10GB for $90; and four lines get 14GB for $115. The promotional plans are available to seven different handsets, including the Samsung Galaxy S6. Virgin did not say how long the promotion will run.


T-Mobile Leasing Spectrum In Effort to Expand LTE Coverage

May 15, 2015, 11:58 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile recently confirmed that it has leased some spectrum licenses to other carriers in order to help expand its LTE 4G coverage. "We're always exploring opportunities to enhance America's fastest 4G LTE network," said T-Mobile in a statement provided to FierceWireless. "Over the years, we've bought, sold and leased spectrum to roaming partners and we'll continue to discuss additional opportunities that will benefit our customers. This includes spectrum swaps, leasing spectrum and roaming agreements." T-Mobile did not provide any information with respect to which carriers it has leased the spectrum, nor in which markets. The strategy is similar to one pursued by Verizon Wireless. Verizon launched its LTE for Rural America program five years ago, wherein it leases spectrum to small regional carriers who build out LTE coverage.


Apple, AT&T Seek to Block RadioShack's Sale of Customer Data

May 15, 2015, 9:24 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple and AT&T have filed legal objections to RadioShack's planned sale of customer data. RadioShack sold products from both AT&T and Apple and originally agreed to keep customer data private. RadioShack is going through bankruptcy and hopes to use any potential proceeds of selling customer data to third parties in order to pay off creditors. "Not only is AT&T committed to protecting the privacy of its customers -- it is required to do so by federal and state laws and regulations," said AT&T. Several state attorneys general have also filed objections. A judge is expected to rule on the matter May 20. Earlier this year RadioShack sold the bulk of its stores to Sprint, which is in the process of rebranding them.


Handful of Video Apps Add Chromecast Support

May 14, 2015, 3:25 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today said a bunch of mobile video apps have been updated with support for its Chromecast product. Android device owners can stream video from the CBS All Access, FOX NOW, FXNOW, HGTV, Pluto TV, and Haystack TV apps on their handset or tablet to their TV via Chromecast. Chromecast is a WiFi-enabled HDMI dongle that plugs directly into TV sets. Chromecast already supports on-demand video apps such as HBO Go, Netflix, and Showtime. The latest versions of these apps are free to download from the Play Store, but many require accounts with cable providers to access the content.


T-Mobile Says LTE Footprint Now Matches Sprint

May 14, 2015, 12:25 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray said the company's LTE 4G network now covers 280 million POPS. That's a slight improvement from the 275 million POPs T-Mobile said it covered at the end of April. With 280 million people blanketed by its 4G network, T-Mobile's coverage footprint is on par with that of Sprint, which also coves 280 million. AT&T and Verizon both claim to cover 308 million POPs. Ray offered a few more details about T-Mobile's progress. It is still on track to cover 300 million POPS by the end of the year. It plans to shutter its legacy CDMA MetroPCS network on June 21, and there are fewer than 300,000 customers still using that network in Dallas, Miami, and New York City. T-Mobile said it has 15x15 MHz LTE deployments in 150 markets, which the company will expand to 200 by the end of the year. T-Mobile charted an aggressive path for building its LTE network and has met or exceeded most of its goals over the past two years.


Microsoft Delivers New Preview of Windows 10 for Phones

May 14, 2015, 12:15 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Microsoft today released build 10080 of the Windows 10 Technical Preview for phones. The updated operating system adds a number of features and resolves a wide number of known bugs. To start, the new technical preview introduces the Windows Store beta for phones. Users will be able to browse through the new content store for apps. Thanks to the store's presence in the build, Windows Phone previewers can now download the universal app versions of Word, Excel, Powerpoint, OneNote, and Xbox. The operating system includes the music preview and video preview apps, too, which will let testers look at how Windows 10 Mobile will handle media playback. Microsoft also added the new camera app. Microsoft recommends users read through the "known issues" bullet points before installing the operating system preview on their phone. The technical preview is in pre-beta status and not meant to be used as a daily driver.


Microsoft Debuts Hyperlapse App for Windows Phone and Android

May 14, 2015, 8:42 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Microsoft today released an application for Windows Phone and Android handsets called Hyperlapse. The app can be used to stabilize shaky footage or to create fast-moving time-lapse videos. The app supports multiple playback speeds (between 1x and 32x) and can import existing video files from the phone's camera roll. Microsoft says the user interface takes only a few moments to master. The app is available to Windows Phones from the Windows Store, though the Android version is officially being labeled a beta. Microsoft also made Hyperlapse available to Windows PCs. There are a number of competing time-lapse apps in the market, including one from Instagram called Hyperlapse. Instagram's app is limited to the iPhone. Microsoft's Hyperlapse app is free.


Verizon Adds LG Lancet to Windows Phone Lineup

May 14, 2015, 8:26 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless today announced the LG Lancet, the first Windows Phone handset to support Verizon's Advanced Calling 1.0 service. Lancet owners will be able to make high-definition voice calls via Verizon's LTE network. The phone runs Windows 8.1, but carries over some features from LG's Android handsets, such as KnockOn for waking the phone and Quick Memo for capturing screen shots. The Lancet features a 4.5-inch screen, 1.2 GHz quad-core processor, 8-megapixel main camera, 8 GB of storage, and support for memory cards up to 128 GB. The Lancet is a budget-friendly phone. The full retail price is $120, though Verizon is offering the phone for $5 per month with a Verizon Edge plan. The LG Lancet is available online starting today, and it will reach Verizon stores May 21.


HTC Adds Chromecast Support to Zoe App

May 14, 2015, 7:11 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

HTC today provided a significant update to its Zoe photo/video editing and sharing app. The app now supports Google's Chromecast, which will let users cast a Zoe video from their phone to a Chromecast-equipped TV or other device. The app makes adjustments to the clip sequence user interface, too, which makes it easier to readjust, reorder, and remove clips from Zoes. The app also adds the ability to "retry" failed video uploads, and will now continue playback seamlessly when users rotate their phone (rather than restart from the beginning). HTC's Zoe app is free to download from the Google Play Store.


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