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printed February 6, 2016
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Created by Google, Android is a smartphone OS and platform that is open-source and open for any manufacturer to use to make a smartphone. Most Android phones use a version that is mostly provided by Google and requires Google services. Android phones can run Android apps, available from the Google Play Store, or, optionally, from other sources.

by:  Google

Android Wear Gains Wider Support for Phone Calls

Thursday, 12:33 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today announced Android Wear 1.4, which adds a fistful of new features. Chiefly, Android-based smartwatches can now make and take calls via Bluetooth when the wearable itself includes a speaker. Google says this is limited to the Huawei Watch and the ASUS ZenWatch 2 at the moment, but it expects more watches to ship with speakers and calling support over time. Watches with speakers can also be used to listen to audio messages from apps such as Glide. Android Wear 1.4 also expands the number of apps able to use voice actions to dictate and send messages, which now includes, Google Hangouts, Nextplus, Telegram, Viber, WeChat, and WhatsApp. Last, Google added a few new wrist gestures to the platform. For example, Android smartwatches can now expand cards, bring up the app drawer, or return home with a push, lift, or shake, respectively. Google says Android Wear 1.4 is rolling out to Android smartwatches over the next few days.

Apple Music for Android Can Store Songs on Memory Cards

Thursday, 8:11 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Thursday, 9:04 AM

Apple updated its Apple Music application for Android devices and added the ability for users to store music on microSD cards for offline playback. This is chiefly important for devices that have limited on-board storage. The app also now displays the full schedule of Beats 1 Radio programs, and makes it easier to browse through classical music and movie scores thanks to options for viewing composers and compilations. Apple Music and Beats 1 Radio are free to download and use, but the full service, which adds an ad-free, offline playback, and curated stations, requires a $10 monthly fee.

Google Taking More Steps to Protect Against Nefarious Ads

Wednesday, 4:37 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today said it is expanding its Safe Browsing protection to further keep people safe when browsing the mobile web. Specifically, Google is now targeting social engineering attacks, which often trick users into downloading unwanted software or revealing personal data by looking like the device's native software. Google will go after ads that pretend to "act, or look and feel, like a trusted entity — like your own device, or browser" and those that attempt to "trick you into doing something you'd only for a trusted entity" such as sharing a password or phone number. Google turned on Safe Browsing in Chrome on Android devices by default last year. This improvement in Safe Browsing will add another layer of protection for mobile surfers.

Turing Says Sailfish Phone to Include Google Play Store

Wednesday, 10:58 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Turing today said the Turing Phone will allow owners to access the Play Store and standard Android apps, even though the phone runs Sailfish OS. "Turing Phone supports Google Play Store and Android apps via the Alien Dalvik engine running on the Sailfish OS 2.0," said Turing to Phonescoop in an email. The company has dropped Google's Android platform in favor of Sailfish OS for its security-focused smartphone, due later this year. Sailfish, based on Linux, was developed and is licensed by Jolla.

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Microsoft Buys SwiftKey Software Keyboard Maker

Wednesday, 8:29 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Wednesday, 8:30 AM

Microsoft today said it has acquired SwiftKey, a company that develops software keyboards for Android and iOS devices. SwiftKey has strong word prediction capabilities, and is often able to suggest not only the word being typed, but what word might come next. Microsoft said SwiftKey's technology aligns with its own vision of "personal computing experiences that anticipate our needs versus responding to our commands." Microsoft also finds SwiftKey's use of artificial intelligence and prediction interesting. SwiftKey employees will be added to Microsoft's roster, where they will continue their work and enhance Microsoft's own Word Flow software keyboard for Windows. Microsoft said the SwiftKey app will continue to be available to Android and iOS devices. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Alcatel Web Site Spills Details Of Idol 4S and Idol 4

Tuesday, 8:02 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Alcatel OneTouch today inadvertently revealed details of the unannounced flagship Idol 4S and Idol 4 smartphones on its own web site. Similar to last year's Idol 3, the Idol 4S and 4 will be available in two different sizes. The Idol 4S has a 5.5-inch quad HD screen while the Idol 4 has a 5.2-inch full HD display. Shared features include support for LTE networks, dual-band WiFi, GPS, NFC, and Bluetooth 4.2. The phones include stereo speakers and Alcatel's reversible user interface, so they can be used upside down. Basic specs show the Idol 4S will ship with an octa-core Snapdragon 652 processor with 3 GB of RAM, 32 GB of storage, and support for memory cards up to 512 GB. The Idol 4S also includes a 16-megapixel main camera with slow-motion video capture, an 8-megapixel selfie cam, and a 3,000mAh battery. The Idol 4's specs are stepped down just a bit. It will ship with an octa-core Snapdragon 617 processor, 2 or 3 GB of RAM, 16 GB of storage, and support for microSD cards. It packs a 13-megapixel main camera and a wide-angle 8-megapixel user-facing camera. It includes a 2,610mAh battery. Both phones will run Android 6.0 Marshmallow out of the box. Alcatel OneTouch has not officially announced these phones, so pricing and availability are not yet known.

Turing Phone Drops Android for Sailfish OS

Tuesday, 4:46 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Turing Robotics Industries today informed those who preordered its smartphone that the device will ship with Sailfish OS instead of Android. The Turing Phone was first announced last year. Turing Robotics pitched the phone as an ultra-secure handset for those seeking private communications. When first announced, Turing said the phone would run Android 5.1 Lollipop. In a newsletter emailed to supporters, however, Turing confirmed plans to drop Android for Jolla's Sailfish OS. Turing says its phone "will still be able to run Android Apps on the Sailfish OS without issue" and "an Android application store will be available for you to download your favorite apps." A Turing representative could not tell Phonescoop if the Android app store referenced in the newsletter is the Google Play Store or some other Android app store. Turing claims the phone runs very quickly with Sailfish OS on board and the company expects the phone to ship in April. Sailfish OS was created by Jolla, composed chiefly of former Nokia employees. Sailfish is based on the discarded Meego Linux platform. Late last year, Jolla ran into financial difficulties and laid off a significant portion of its staff. The company also cancelled its hardware plans, including a phone and tablet. Jolla now exists to license Sailfish OS to other OEMs. Turing is one of the first companies to voice support for the fledgling platform.

Unannounced Alcatel Allura Headed to AT&T

Tuesday, 12:13 PM   by Rich Brome

The FCC this week approved and made public the Alcatel one touch Allura, an unannounced Android phone for AT&T. The technical model number (5056) suggests a phone very similar to the Fierce XL (5054) for MetroPCS. The Fierce XL is a $139 phone at MetroPCS; it has a 5.5-inch screen, Snapdragon 210 processor, 8-megapixel main camera, 2-megapixel front camera, and a memory card slot. FCC documents show that the Allura supports AT&T's LTE bands 2, 4, 5, 12 (17), and 30. The only Alcatel smartphone phone previously sold by AT&T was the C1, a considerably lower-end model. That makes the Allura a notable step forward for Alcatel's relationship with AT&T, the country's second-largest carrier.

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Google, BlackBerry Make February Security Patch Available

Tuesday, 8:22 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google is now delivering a security patch to Nexus smartphones and tablets. The patch resolves 10 issues, of which five are considered to be critical. The two most severe problems could allow for remote code execution through a WiFi driver and a media server. Google found the vulnerabilities in January and alerted its hardware partners to the problems. The security patch is available via factory images from Google's developer web site, but the company will push the update out over the air in the days ahead. Google plans to provide a new version of Android 6 Marshmallow to the Android Open Source Project in a day or two. Google says to the best of its knowledge that the security holes were not exploited. BlackBerry, too, is pushing the February security patch to the BlackBerry Priv smartphone. Other phone makers are expected to deliver the patch in the weeks ahead.

US Mobile Selling Xiaomi and Meizu Handsets

Feb 1, 2016, 9:28 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

U.S. Mobile recently added several phones from Xiaomi and Meizu to its lineup, making it the first U.S. carrier to sell the Chinese handsets. Xiaomi and Meizu have both said they intend to enter the U.S. market, but have so far not landed any carrier deals. That changes today. U.S. Mobile is offering the Xiaomi Redmi 2 for $119, the Xiaomi Mi 3 for $139, the Xiaomi Mi 4i for $219, and the Meizu M2 Note for $149. U.S. Mobile is a prepaid carrier that resells access to T-Mobile's network. The phones from Xiaomi and Meizu run Android and can access T-Mobile's HSPA network, but not its LTE service. U.S. Mobile offers a wide assortment of service plans that can be customized to suit individual budgets. The Xiaomi and Meizu phone are available directly from U.S. Mobile's web site, where it sells an assortment of competing smartphones. "U.S. consumers have traditionally had to compromise to afford incredible devices," said Ahmed Khattak, founder and CEO of US Mobile. "Now, with the launch of our marketplace, we are thrilled to offer complete range of exceptional smartphones for low monthly payments and to give our customers access to exceptional phones otherwise not available in the U.S."

ZTE's Grand X 3 Hits Cricket Stores Today

Jan 29, 2016, 9:55 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Cricket Wireless says the ZTE Grand X 3 is now available online and in Cricket stores for $130. The Grand X 3 includes a 5.5-inch HD screen, Cat. 4 LTE, and a USB Type-C connector, which is reversible. It has 2 GB of RAM and its 16 GB of storage is expandable via a memory card up to 64 GB. The Grand X 3's 8-megapixel camera shoots 720p HD video, and a 2-megapixel selfie camera is located on front. It's powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 210 processor and runs Android 5.1 Lollipop. Cricket will knock $50 off the price for customers who switch from another carrier. Further, people who port their number to Cricket will receive a $50 gift card.

Banks Prepping Smartphone-Enabled ATMs

Jan 29, 2016, 8:35 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

JPMorgan Chase and other banks are readying next-generation ATMs that will allow people to withdraw funds using their smartphone. Chase said the first series of new ATMs will grant access to cash through the Chase mobile app, and will require a code. The second series of new ATMs will support NFC, allowing smartphone owners to tap their handsets to ATMs in order to initiate transactions. These machines will continue to support ATM cards, but will offer mobile access as an option. Chase also plans to increase the amount of cash customers can withdraw during banking hours, as well as expand the list of services available at ATMs, such as cashing checks and completing mortgage payments. Bank of America and Wells Fargo have similar projects underway, reports TechCrunch. Jonathan Velline, who is in charge of Wells Fargo's ATM business, said, "We've been working on the technology that allows us to hook to digital wallets, leveraging NFC on mobile phones to replace the card at the transaction at the ATM. Right now the wallet that we support is Android Pay," Velline implied that Wells is also working on Apple Pay. Bank of America confirmed it is "currently developing a new cardless ATM solution. This solution will enable customers to leverage NFC technology on their smart phone in order to authenticate and complete transactions at a Bank of America ATM." Bank of America is targeting late February in select markets (New York, San Francisco, Boston) and will expand over time. Chase and Wells Fargo did not provide timelines for their smartphone-enabled ATMs.

Yahoo Updates Mail for Android and iOS with Customizable Swipes

Jan 28, 2016, 11:21 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Yahoo today made new versions of Yahoo Mail available to Android and iOS devices. The refreshed email application brings customizable swiping gestures to both platforms. For example, users can set swipes to add stars to individual messages, move them to specific folders, delete messages, or archive them. The Android app gains the ability to reply to incoming notifications and the redesigned multi-select toolbar adds a wider array of actions. The iOS app now lets users see recent attachments when composing emails, as well as create, delete, and organize folders. Yahoo Mail for Android and iOS is free to download from the Google Play Store and iTunes App Store, respectively.

T-Mobile Adds Video Services and Controls to Binge On

Jan 28, 2016, 9:40 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today increased the number of content partners available to its Binge On service by four. T-Mobile customers can now stream video content from Amazon Video, Fox News, Univision NOW, and WWE Network over LTE without impacting their monthly data bucket. T-Mobile says Binge On is available through more than 40 content providers. In addition to the broader selection of partners, T-Mobile is making the service easier to manage. Customers can now use short codes to change personal settings, such as #BOF# to turn Binge On off, or #BON# to turn it back on. Further, T-Mobile has updated and the official T-Mobile app so Binge On settings can be adjusted with less digging and fewer clicks. The revised app is being made available to select Android handsets today and will expand to more Android devices, as well as the iPhone, in the weeks ahead. T-Mobile's Binge On service has come under fire for downgrading the quality of all video (even that of non-partners, such as YouTube) to 480p by default. Customers wishing to watch content in higher resolutions need to turn the service off. The FCC has asked T-Mobile for more details about Binge On, which may run afoul of net neutrality regulations.

Yahoo Revamps Mobile Apps and Home Page

Jan 28, 2016, 9:27 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Yahoo today unveiled a redesigned home page on the web and new, corresponding apps for Android and iOS devices. Yahoo said the new design should make news and other content easier to find, read, and share. It reduced the number of new pages or tabs that users need to open when browsing through stories, and offers more suggestions for related content. Users can "heart" content and Yahoo's learning engine will use that information to deliver a more curated set of stories over time. The Yahoo app is free to download from the Google Play Store and iTunes App Store.

Oppo Says New Power and Camera Tech Headed to MWC

Jan 28, 2016, 8:23 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Oppo today said it plans to reveal new power and camera technologies at next month's Mobile World Congress trade show. The company promised to show off a "groundbreaking power solution" and "unprecedented smartphone camera innovation" but it stopped short of saying it has new handsets on deck. Oppo recently said it shipped more than 50 million devices during 2015, which puts it in the top ten manufacturers of the world. The company sells smartphones that run ColorOS, its forked version of Android 5.1.

Google Improves Docs for Mobile with Commenting

Jan 27, 2016, 2:17 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google Docs on Android and iOS mobile devices took a big step forward today with the addition of commenting. Google says document collaborators can now easily make comments in Docs, Sheets, and Slides files from their smartphone or tablet. Further, users can tag colleagues in comments to include them in conversations. The tools should help boost the productivity of Docs users on Android and iOS devices, as well as the desktop, as everyone can make, see, and respond to comments. Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides are free to download from the Google Play Store and iTunes App Store.

Google to Bring Object Recognition to Phones

Jan 27, 2016, 12:19 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today said it has partnered with semiconductor startup Movidius to bring deep learning to smartphones. Movidius specializes in computer vision and helped with Google's Project Tango 3D mapping effort. Google's Android handsets are already able to identify objects in photos, but a network connection is required to send the images to Google's servers where the calculations take place. This new venture will see smartphones handle object recognition on their own, independent from Google's servers. Under its arrangement with Movidius, Google plans to purchase an unspecified number of the company's MA2450 chips along with the necessary software. "By working with Movidius, we're able to expand this technology beyond the data center and out into the real world, giving people the benefits of machine intelligence on their personal devices," said Google. Movidius' chief executive said it believes Google will add these features to smartphones sooner rather than later, but Google has not spelled out exactly how the MA2450 will be put to use in future handsets.

Samsung Pushing Security Patch to Galaxy Phones

Jan 27, 2016, 8:43 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung has detailed a security update that's headed to its Galaxy smartphones. The update includes the most recent Android system-level security patch from Google, as well as fixes for vulnerabilities specific to Samsung's phones. Samsung says it is resolving seven problems that impact some of its devices, including the Galaxy S6. Several of the issues earned a critical rating and could lead to remote code execution. Samsung didn't say how quickly the security update will be delivered to its handsets.

Google Hangouts 7.0 Snags Notification Replies

Jan 27, 2016, 8:15 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google has updated Hangouts for Android devices and added the ability to send responses to incoming notifications. The new function makes it quicker to fire off replies, as it doesn't require users to fully open the Hangouts app. Hangouts 7.0 also now lets users pin conversation shortcuts to the home screen for quick access to specific threads. Hangouts 7.0 requires Android 4.1 and up and is free to download from the Google Play Store.

Boost Mobile Adjusts Family Plans, Offers Ad Deal

Jan 26, 2016, 10:19 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Boost Mobile today unfurled new multi-line plans for families. There are now two basic tiers for families. The first includes unlimited talk/text and 1.5 GB of high-speed data per line, while the second includes unlimited talk/text and improves data to 5 GB per line. The first tier costs $70 per month for two lines, $90 for three lines, and $100 for four lines. The second tier costs $70 for two lines, $95 for three lines, and $120 for four lines. Boost Mobile throttles users who exceed their monthly data cap, but doesn't charge overages. In addition to the new plan rates, Boost revealed several other promotions. For example, it debuted Boost Dealz, a way for customers to earn credit each month by watching ads. The free app is available to Android phones and shows ads and special offers when users unlock their handset. Boost will reward customers with $5 for every month the app is active on their phone. For a limited time, new customers can get up to two free smartphones when activating a family plan. Customers can gain unlimited talk/text to and from Mexico with 8 GB of data for $5 more per month. Boost says customers can pay their bills up to 14 days late before seeing their service disrupted, and can receive incoming calls/messages even when accounts are 60 days past due. Customers who enroll in Auto Re-Boost will receive $5 off their current plan. Moreover, customers who make on-time payments will receive 500 MB more high-speed data for every three timely reimbursements. Last, Boost Mobile offers free mobile hotspot on all plans, and offers unlimited music streaming with Pandora, Slacker Radio, iHeartRadio, Samsung Milk Music, and 8tracks.

Video Now Playing On Spotify's Android App

Jan 26, 2016, 9:11 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Spotify has launched video content in its Android app. Users can now browse through video and audio clips from a wide variety of content providers, such as ABC News, Comedy Central, and ESPN. The video feature includes easy-to-navigate categories such as entertainment, sports, news, comedy, science, society, technology, and others. Each contains curated video snippets, such as skits from The Daily Show and Inside Amy Schumer. Video content is available to all users. The company plans to add video to the iOS version of Spotify in a week or two.

Google Games Drops Google+ Requirement

Jan 25, 2016, 9:23 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google has made it easier for owners of Android devices to sign-in to and use Google Games. Moving forward, players will only have to sign-in once per account, rather than once per game, and players no longer need to have a Google+ account to use Play Games services. Google has been slowly dropping the Google+ requirement from its services over the last year. "We're taking [these] steps to reduce sign-in friction and unnecessary permission requests for players," explained Google. "Once a user signs in for first time, new games will generally be able to sign-in without any user interaction." In order to make this happen, Google is changing the Games API and suggests developers check out the new permissions model. While the move does ease some pain points for end users, developers are the real beneficiaries. Erasing hurdles in the sign-in process means people who've downloaded a game are more likely to play it.

Google Jazzes Up Weather Search Results

Jan 21, 2016, 12:58 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Checking the weather forecast via Google Search just received a big upgrade. On Android devices, searches in the Google app for "weather" will include far more information than before in a more appealing design. For example, the app will change background colors in response to sky conditions, time of day, and season. The refreshed weather report will show precipitation potential, severe weather alerts, air quality/UV index, sunrise/sunset times, and a look ahead at the 10-day forecast. Further, users will be able to save favorite locations, which will be available in a drop-down tool. The Google Search app for Android is free to download from the Google Play Store.

Skype for Android Earns Tighter Outlook and Office Integration

Jan 20, 2016, 11:12 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Microsoft today updated Skype for Android with new ways to work with Outlook and Office. The latest version of Microsoft's calling and messaging app allows users to schedule calls in Outlook from Skype easily by tapping the contact's name and using the scheduling tool to send an invite. This feature is available to other calendar apps, too, says Microsoft. Skype now also supports Word, PowerPoint, and Excel documents, which can be opened directly in the app from within chat threads. Users who've not already downloaded Microsoft's Office apps for Android will be prompted to install the app before they can open the shared file in Skype. Skype for Android is free to download from the Google Play Store.

Facebook for Android Gains Support for Tor

Jan 20, 2016, 8:37 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Facebook has made it possible for Android handset owners to access the social network securely and privately through the Tor anonymity service. Facebook calls Tor access an experiment. People interested in using this secure connection need to download the Orbit: Proxy with Tor app from the Play Store and enable it within Facebook's privacy settings. Once turned on, browsing Facebook through the Orbit app will render users anonymous. Tor is able to hide IP addresses, which makes people/devices difficult, if not impossible, to track or locate. Facebook believes Tor access will be benefit those who value their privacy. The Tor accessibility feature is being made available slowly over the course of the next few days. Facebook has no plans to bring Tor support to the Apple iPhone.

Google Speeds Up Android App Installs By Allowing Them from Search Results

Jan 19, 2016, 3:26 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google has made it possible to install apps onto Android phones directly from Google Search results. The new tool bypasses the Play Store entirely, though a link to the Play Store is still available for those seeking more details about the app. Free apps can be installed from Search results with a single tap. The feature is being rolled out to users over time, but Phone Scoop was able to confirm that it does in fact work. The idea is to cut down the number of steps required to install apps, which is better for app developers and consumers alike.

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Boost Mobile Begins Selling LG Tribute 5

Jan 19, 2016, 11:13 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Boost Mobile today said the LG Tribute 5 is now available online and in stores. LG announced the Tribute 5 as the K7 earlier this month. It features a 5-inch screen, quad-core Snapdragon 210 processor, 5-megapixel front and rear cameras, and a 2,125mAh battery. LG-sepcific functions include Gesture Shot, KnockON, and Knock Code. The Tribute 5, which runs Android 5.1 Lollipop, costs $99.99.

T-Mobile Shares Priv Launch Details

Jan 19, 2016, 9:42 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today said the BlackBerry Priv smartphone will reach company stores on January 26. Customers who choose T-Mobile's Jump On Demand leasing program can score the Priv for $0 down and monthly payments of $34. People interested in taking a more traditional purchasing route can finance the phone for $30 per month for 24 months, or pay the full retail price of $719. T-Mobile says the Priv is privy to all of the Uncarrier benefits, such as Music Freedom and Binge On. The BlackBerry Priv runs Android and has a slide-out QWERTY keyboard. The phone is already being sold by AT&T and will soon be sold by Sprint and Verizon Wireless.

Starbucks Adds Spotify Music Discovery to Mobile Apps

Jan 19, 2016, 9:36 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Starbucks today expanded the scale of its mobile application to include Spotify-backed music discovery. People who visit Starbucks stores will be able to use the Starbucks mobile app to discover what songs are being played in-store and save those songs to a personal Spotify playlist. Users will be able to view recently played songs, "love" songs to boost their visibility, and share songs to social networks. The music discovery service is available to Spotify's free and premium customers. Beginning later this month, the Starbucks app will also highlight emerging artists to help expose them to larger audiences. The music discovery tool is available to both the Android and iOS versions of the Starbucks mobile app and can be used at some 7,500 Starbucks stores around the U.S. Starbucks has long held an interest in promoting music. The coffee company had a similar partnership with Apple that allowed iTunes users to see and purchase the current overhead track when logged into Starbucks WiFi. Starbucks has sold CDs at the register for more than a decade.

Samsung's Note 5 Updated with Fix for Pen

Jan 19, 2016, 7:49 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung has updated the Note 5's internal hardware to prevent the S Pen from becoming stuck. "Samsung can confirm that the Note 5 internal S Pen mechanism has been changed to avoid the issue caused by inserting the S Pen incorrectly," said Samsung in a statement provided to Android Central. "As always, we recommend following proper instructions for storing the S Pen." Early buyers of the Note 5 discovered the S Pen could become permanently lodged in the stylus' housing if inserted blunt end first. Samsung did not say when the issue was corrected, nor how customers can tell if their Note 5 contains the updated hardware.

Sony Debuts News Suite App for Android Phones

Jan 18, 2016, 8:09 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sony today announced News Suite, a free news app for Android handsets. The app is a dramatically overhauled version of Sony's older SocialLife app. News Suite allows users too customize preferred media outlets and subscribe to feeds from sites around the world. The two-tabbed system, says Sony, lets people view general and personalized news stories separately. Users can take advantage of key words to find and populate their feed with news about select subjects or people. This redesigned SocialLife / News Suite app strips out Twitter and YouTube browsing, but adds saved reading lists and article sharing. News Suite is free to download from the Google Play Store.

Boost and Virgin to Sell Samsung Galaxy J3

Jan 15, 2016, 10:17 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Jan 15, 2016, 12:10 PM

Sprint today said its prepaid brands Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile USA will soon sell the Samsung Galaxy J3. This inexpensive Android handset includes a 5-inch 720p HD screen, a 5-megapixel main camera with LED flash, and a 2-megapixel selfie camera. It is powered by a 1.2 GHz quad-core processor and carries 1.5 GB of RAM and 16 GB of storage. It supports memory cards up to 128 GB. The phone ships with Android 5.1 Lollipop and includes Samsung's Easy Mode for novice users. It packs a 2600mAh battery. The Galaxy J3 reaches Virgin Mobile stores today and Boost Mobile stores next week. It costs $179.99.

Sony Says Xperia Z5, Z5 Compact Reaching US February 7

Jan 14, 2016, 10:31 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Jan 14, 2016, 10:38 AM

Sony today announced that the Xperia Z5 and Xperia Z5 smartphones will go on sale in the U.S. on February 7. The Z5 will cost $599.99 and the Z5 Compact (pictured) will cost $499.99. The handsets will be sold unlocked with support for AT&T and T-Mobile's networks. The two high-end Android smartphones were first announced in September last year. The Z5 series features premium metal-and-glass designs, 23-megapixel cameras, and water resistance to 3 feet. Sony will sell the phones directly to consumers online via, Best Buy, and B&H Photo Video.

Verizon Debuts LG Optimus Zone 3 for Prepaid Plans

Jan 14, 2016, 9:20 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless today revealed the LG Optimus Zone 3, an inexpensive Android handset for those who prefer prepaid services. This simple smartphone picks up where the 2014 Zone 2 left off. It has a 4.5-inch screen, 1.1 GHz quad-core processor with 32 GB of storage, 5-megapixel main camera, and 2-megapixel user-facing camera. The camera app includes LG's Gesture Shot and the selfie camera has a dedicated flash to help illuminate those self portraits. The LG Optimus Zone 3 runs Android 5.1 Lollipop and is available beginning today for $69.99

Microsoft Makes Skype Accessible from Outlook Mobile

Jan 13, 2016, 1:30 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Microsoft today updated Outlook for iOS with new Skype integration. Outlook already merges email and calendar functionality into one app. Now, users can make any calendar appointment a Skype meeting with the flick of a switch. When the meeting starts, a simple tap in the calendar app will start the Skype call. The refreshed Outlook app also gains a new three-day calendar view. Outlook for iOS is free to download from the iTunes App Store. Microsoft didn't immediately say if or when it might add Skype to the Android version of Outlook.

Google Cardboard Apps to Gain Spatial Audio

Jan 13, 2016, 1:20 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today updated the SDK for Google Cardboard and added support for spatial audio. Until today, Cardboard apps were limited to stereo sound. The addition of spatial audio will allow developers to create more immersive sound environments to match their VR experiences. Google says the SDK lets developers specify the size and material of their virtual environment, which impacts how sound moves around objects and to the listener's ears. Adding spatial audio will have minimal impact on CPU performance needs, so it shouldn't affect battery life. The Unity version of the SDK can be used to bring spatial auto to Android, iOS, Windows, and OS X devices, while the native Android SDK will require only a simple Java API. Developers can download the updated SDK directly from Google.

Driving Mode In Google Maps Predicts Your Destination

Jan 13, 2016, 11:29 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google is adding a feature to Google Maps for Android today that guesses where drivers want to go and then helps them get there. Driving Mode factors in the user's home and work addresses, in addition to other destinations from previous searches. When in Driving Mode, for example, Maps will know you've left work and are headed toward home. If it sees traffic problems ahead, it can reroute users even if you haven't selected home as your destination. Alternately, if people sometimes go to the gym after work, it can offer directions there instead. "With a simple shortcut on your home screen, you'll head straight into the new Driving Mode so you're sure to get where you're going on the quickest route possible — without entering a destination," said Google in a statement provided to VentureBeat. "Get information like ETAs, traffic updates, nearby gas prices, and quickest routes to familiar places — like home, work, and recently searched destinations — all from your home screen." Driving Mode has been added to the latest version of Maps, but will be limited in its rollout to the U.S., United Arab Emirates, Great Britain, Ireland, Malaysia, New Zealand, and Singapore. Driving Mode is being made available slowly over the course of the next week.

Microsoft Bringing Free Group Video Chats to Skype

Jan 12, 2016, 3:12 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Microsoft today said mobile device owners will soon be able to conduct group video chats for free. The feature is headed to Android, iOS, and Windows Mobile 10 handsets and tablets in the coming weeks. Skype is allowing people to preview the tool ahead of its general release. Anyone interested can sign up on Microsoft's web site. Microsoft claims Skype has been downloaded 750 million times. The app will be updated across platforms with the new feature shortly.

Periscope Ports Live Video Into Twitter

Jan 12, 2016, 8:29 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Periscope and Twitter today said that live video from Periscope is now viewable and discoverable within users' Twitter feeds. Until today, people had to use the separate Periscope app to discover live video feeds. Moving forward, Twitter users will be able to find and view live video feeds directly from within Twitter. Periscope content will be viewable even to those who have not downloaded the Periscope app. Periscope video feeds will play automatically as users scroll past them in the iOS app. Twitter said it is still working to integrate Periscope and Twitter onto the and on Android devices. It expects to make live video available to Android users in the near future.

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