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printed October 22, 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

Alcatel's Pop 4 and Pixi 4 Series Reach Amazon and Best Buy

Thursday, 6:21 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Alcatel today said and Best Buy have agreed to sell four of its low-cost Android smartphones from the Pop and Pixi families. The Pop 4S costs $170, the Pop 4 Plus costs $120, the Pixi 4 (6-inch) costs $120, and the Pixi 4 (5-inch) costs $80. All four handsets are being sold unlocked with support for GSM/LTE networks such as those operated by AT&T and T-Mobile. The phones were announced earlier this year.

BlackBerry Updates Hub+ and Other Android Apps

Thursday, 9:59 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

BlackBerry today announced an update to its Hub+ subscription service for Android devices. Hub+ users will now be able add Facebook Messenger to Hub+ and manage Messenger communications directly in the Hub. Hub+ also makes it easier to save inline images and improves support for admin-defined signatures for business users. Beyond Hub+, BlackBerry updated the BlackBerry Android Keyboard, BlackBerry Launcher, and Password Keeper apps. The Keyboard gains new ways to switch languages and global gesture support. The Launcher now includes a dynamic calendar icon that will show the current date. BlackBerry's Password Keeper adds secure lists and support for fingerprint sensors, and makes organizational changes to the settings panel. In addition to the new features, all the apps gain performance improvements. BlackBerry's own Priv and DTEK50 handsets will see speed enhancements in the camera app. BlackBerry's Hub+ and other Android apps are available from the Google Play Store. Hub+ requires a monthly subscription.

Google Keep Lets Users Pin Notes

Thursday, 7:47 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google recently updated its Keep app for Android handsets, giving it the power to pin notes. A pin icon is now visible within the app and tapping it will pin kept notes to a new section of the app for quick retrieval. Google Keep is free to download from the Google Play Store.

Kodak Ektra Is More Camera Than Phone

Thursday, 7:38 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Bullitt Group today announced the Kodak Ektra, an Android smartphone that focuses on providing a steady camera experience. Bullitt is the company behind CAT phones and made another Kodak-branded phone earlier this year. The Ektra more closely resembles a camera than a phone thanks to its large camera module and dedicated shutter button. The Bullitt-made phone has a 21-megapixel IMX230 imaging sensor from Sony with an aperture of f/2.0 and dual LED flash. It includes optical image stabilization, phase-detection autofocus, and can capture 4K video. The front-facing camera has a 13-megapixel sensor. The phone includes a 5-inch full HD screen, MediaTek Helio X20 processor with 3 GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage, and a 3,000mAh battery. The Ektra runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow and has an advanced camera application with features such as bokeh, HDR, panorama, and manual mode. The devices goes on sale in select markets later this year for about $500. Bullitt didn't say if the phone will be sold in the U.S.

Google Releases Android 7.1 Developer Preview

Wednesday, 4:57 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today followed through on its recent promise to make a preview version of Android 7.1 Nougat available to developers. Registered developers can download the refreshed operating system to their Nexus 6P or 5X devices, as well as snag the latest developer tools from Google, including Android Studio and associated SDKs. The most forward-facing new feature for end users is support for GIFs and animations within the keyboard. The Android keyboard can interact with third-party apps to create and apply stickers, videos, and other expressive content. Android 7.1 also adopts a 3D Touch-style interactive tool that will let people access up to five secondary actions or settings that can be reached directly from the launcher. The preview can be downloaded over the air. Google expects to release another developer preview in November with the final build scheduled for December.

Verizon Adds a 'V' to the LG Stylo 2

Wednesday, 2:04 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless today said it will kick off sales of the LG Stylo 2 V on Oct. 20. The phone will cost $240, or $10 per month for 24 months. The Stylo 2 V, like the variants already sold by Boost and Cricket, has a 5.7-inch screen with stylus, a 13-megapixel main camera, 5-megapixel selfie camera, memory card slot, and 3,000mAh battery. The phone is powered by an octa-core 1.8 GHz Snapdragon processor, which is a change from the other versions, with 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB of storage. The Stylo 2 V runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow.

LeEco Breezes Through S3 Announcement

Wednesday, 1:06 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Wednesday, 2:55 PM

LeEco today quickly showed off the S3 smartphone during an event in San Francisco. This affordable handset boasts a unibody metal design and comes in gold, gray, and rose gold. It has a 5.5-inch full HD screen, Snapdragon 652 processor with 3 GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage, 16-megapixel main camera, 8-megapixel front camera, 3,000mAh battery with Quick Charge 3.0, fingerprint sensor, and USB Type-C. The LeEco S3 runs Android with LeEco's EUI user-interface skin. LeEco said the LeS3 will cost $249 and it should go on sale via LeEco's LeMall online retail space in early November.

LeEco Details the LePro3 with Snapdragon 821

Wednesday, 12:58 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Wednesday, 2:58 PM

LeEco today announced the LePro3 smartphone, an Android-based flagship that includes the Snapdragon 821 processor and a 4,070mAh battery. LeEco says the large power cell provides 33 hours of talk time or up to 49 hours o media playback. The battery supports Qualcomm's Quick Charge 3.0 for rapid charging, and it can ingest a 33% charge in 20 minutes. Other specs include 4 GB of RAM and 64 GB of storage; 5.5-inch full HD display; stereo speakers with Dolby Atmos; 16-megapixel main camera with 4K video capture and 8-megapixel front camera; and fingerprint sensor. The LePro3 is made from brushed aluminum and boasts 2D, curved glass. It will be available in gray and gold. The LePro3 costs $399. It will be available online from LeMall starting Nov. 2.

Instagram Stories to Show Up In Explore Tab

Tuesday, 12:32 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Instagram today said it will begin to show Instagram Stories under the Explore tab in its mobile app. Instagram Stories, which are ephemeral like Snapchat posts, let people share everyday moments as photos and/or video clips strung together. Instagram is adding Stories to the Explore tab so it is easier to discover the stories being shared across the social network. Moreover, a Suggested Stories section will highlight what Instagram believes are the most interesting stories being told from around the world. Instagram is free to download for Android and iOS devices.

T-Mobile Shares Pricing Details for LG V20

Monday, 7:49 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today offered customers more information about its planned launch of the LG V20 handset. Customers may preorder the phone starting today. T-Mobile is asking for a down payment of $50, followed by 24 monthly payments of $30 per month. The full retail price of the handset from T-Mobile is $770. Customers that take advantage of T-Mobile's Jump! On Demand program can get the V20 for $0 up front and $34 a month over 18 months. T-Mobile is offering several promotions alongside its launch of the V20. To start, customers can receive a minimum $200 in credit toward the V20 when they trade in any working LTE smartphone. T-Mobile is also giving away a pair of Bang & Olufsen H3 headphones ($149 value) to those who buy the V20. The headphone offer must be redeemed online. The V20 is a follow-up to last year's V10. Its defining feature is a small second screen on the front for notifications and app shortcuts. The device is semi-rugged and includes a 5.7-inch quad HD screen, Snapdragon 820 processor, 16-megapixel main camera, 8-megapixel secondary camera (wide-angle), and a 5-megapixel selfie camera. The T-Mobile variant is the first to support LTE in Band 66. The phone will also be among the first to ship with Android 7 Nougat and a new search tool from Google called In Apps. The device goes on sale October 28.

Google News to More Clearly Mark 'Fact-Check' Articles

Oct 14, 2016, 7:58 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google says it will work harder to call attention to fact-check articles within Google News. Google believes fact-check style articles have become an important type of journalism, especially in the context of the presidential election. Moving forward, a "Fact Check" tag will clearly highlight which stories examine claims made by politicians, celebrities, and other pundits. Such articles will be clearly labeled in Google News online and in the Google News Android and iOS mobile apps. Further, Google is offering publishers more tools to help them tag their articles as fact-check style pieces so they can be found more easily within Google News. Google News is free to download from the Google Play Store and the iTunes App Store.

Facebook Brings Video Casting to Mobile Devices

Oct 13, 2016, 12:12 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Oct 13, 2016, 3:26 PM

Facebook today made it possible to cast video straight from the News Feed to television sets. iPhone owners and web users can push News Feed video to their Apple TV or Google Chromecast starting today. Android devices will be able to push News Feed view to a Chromecast device in the near future, though Facebook didn't say exactly when. Mobile device owners will be able to browse through their Facebook News Feed while casting videos from their phone to their TV and queue up more videos if they wish. The feature supports Facebook Live Video, too, and will show live reactions and comments on the TV just as it does in the mobile app. Casting is controlled via a small "TV" icon that appears in the upper corner of the app. Facebook for iOS and Android is free to download from the iTunes App Store and Google Play Store.

Google Photos Gets a Boost from AI

Oct 13, 2016, 7:48 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today is rolling out an update to Google Photos that introduces some new AI-assisted tools. First, Photos will reach deep into users' libraries to pair old photos of people with the newest photos of those same people so you can reconnect with those older memories. Second, Photos plans to automatically assemble highlights from selections of recent photos of users' children or friends. These two tools make use of facial recognition technology. Third, Photos will begin to scan users' videos and automatically create short, shareable highlight videos from those larger pieces. Last, Photos will find sideways or other improperly-oriented photos and suggest they be righted. The new features are available to Google Photos for Android, iOS, and the web.

Consumer Cellular Adds Moto G4 and G4 Play to Its Device Roster

Oct 12, 2016, 1:53 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Consumer Cellular today added the Motorola Moto G4 and Moto G4 Play to its lineup of Android handsets. Consumer Cellular is selling the G4 for $150 and the G4 Play for $100. The G4 has a 5.5-inch full HD screen and 13-megapixel camera while the G 4 Play has a 5-inch 720p HD screen and 8-megapixel camera. Both phones run Android 6 Marshmallow. Consumer Cellular also sells the older Moto G (3rd ed.) and the Moto E LTE.

Google's Sprayscape Is VR At Its Wackiest

Oct 12, 2016, 12:33 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today announced Sprayscape, a virtual reality app for Android smartphones. The app blends the camera and virtual reality. Users tap the capture button and then "spray" what's around them by moving the camera around within an imaginary 360-degree sphere. The app, which was developed by Google's Android Experiments team, relies on the phone's internal gyroscope to create the images. Once people have captured an image they can then share it via social networks and even view the results in Google Cardboard. Sprayscape is free to download from the Google Play Store.

Google Provides More Details About Android 7.1 for Non-Pixel Phones

Oct 11, 2016, 2:04 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today talked about several new features headed to Nougat within Android 7.1. While the recently-announced Pixel handsets will ship with their own version of Android 7.1 (including Google Assistant), this iterative update will eventually be made available to Nexus and other phones. The most obvious new feature for end users is new support for GIFs and animations within the keyboard. Google says the Android keyboard will be able to interact with third-party apps to create and apply stickers, videos, and other expressive content. Android 7.1 also adopts a 3D Touch-style interactive tool that will let people access up to five secondary actions/settings that can be reached directly from the launcher. Another tool called storage manager intent allows users to quickly access apps' memory settings to clear out unwanted or old files. Android 7.1 gives developers several new functions, as well, including the ability to adopt the Pixels' round app icons, and glean more data from active wallpapers. Google says it will release a developer preview off Android 7.1 in the near future to the Nexus 6P, Nexus 5X, and Pixel C. The updated platform bumps up the API level to 25 and developers will have to adjust their apps accordingly. Google expects to release Android 7.1 to a wide range of devices, including more Nexus handsets, in the months ahead.

Samsung 'Adjusts' Note7 Production; Verizon Halts Exchanges

Oct 10, 2016, 6:54 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung today stopped short of saying it has halted production of the Galaxy Note7 and instead said it is making changes for safety reasons. "We are temporarily adjusting the Galaxy Note7 production schedule in order to take further steps to ensure quality and safety matters," said the company in a statement provided to Android Central. The admission comes after a number of media sites claimed on Sunday that Samsung had halted production of the phone altogether. The Note7 was recalled on Sept. 2 after various owners reported fires and burns. Replacement devices were make available to consumers on Sept. 21, but over the course of the last week several replacement Note7s have also caused fires. AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon halted their replacement programs Sunday. "Samsung is working with the Consumer Product Safety Commission to investigate the safety of replacement Samsung Galaxy Note7 smartphones. While the investigation is underway, Verizon is suspending the exchange of replacement Note7 smartphones," said Verizon in a statement provided to The Verge. "Any Verizon customer concerned about the safety of their replacement Note7 smartphone may take it back to the original point of purchase to exchange it for another smartphone. Verizon online customers may also exchange their replacement Note7 smartphones at Verizon stores."

Facebook's Events App to Help You Find Things to Do

Oct 7, 2016, 12:21 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Facebook today announced a new app called Events, which is meant to help Facebook users find and schedule tings to do with family and friends. The app will highlight events that friends are planning to attend, new events added by liked pages, and updates from events to which users may have already RSVP'd. People will be able to browse recommended local events based on interests, as well as peruse an interactive calendar that details exactly where events are taking place. Last, Facebook Events ties in to users' Facebook calendar, allowing them to keep track of events, in addition to sync them to/from other calendars on their phone. Facebook Events is available to the iPhone starting today and will reach Android devices in the near future.

Prisma Adds Filters to Video

Oct 6, 2016, 2:33 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Prisma's Android and iOS apps today gained the ability to apply filters to short videos. Prisma 2.6 allows users to shoot up to 15 seconds of video through the Prisma app and then dress it up with a number of filters. Prisma says the filters are applied locally, which means a network connection is not required in order to create interesting and artistic videos. Prisma hooks into other social networks for easy sharing. The app is free to download from the Google Play Store and the iTunes App Store.

Hands-On with Asus Zenfone 3 Series

Oct 6, 2016, 10:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Asus is bringing its Zenfone 3 series of devices to the U.S. this month. This quartet of Android smartphones is attractive thanks to all-metal designs, good build quality, and solid specs. Asus is covering a broad range of price points by changing up the components within each phone, but all four share a commonality that makes them family through and through. Here are our first impressions of the Asus Zenfone 3.

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T-Mobile to Sell LG V20 Starting October 28

Oct 6, 2016, 8:15 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today said it plans to sell LG's V20 smartphone beginning October 28. T-Mobile didn't say how much the phone will cost, only that pricing details will be shared closer to launch. T-Mobile customers who buy the V20 will be able to score a pair of Bang & Olufsen BeoPlay H3 headphones. The V20 is a follow-up to last year's V10. Its defining feature is a small second screen on the front for notifications and app shortcuts. The device is semi-rugged and includes a 5.7-inch quad HD screen, Snapdragon 820 processor, 16-megapixel main camera, 8-megapixel secondary camera (wide-angle), and a 5-megapixel selfie camera. The phone features Qualcomm's X12 LTE model for CAT12 at speeds up to 600Mbps. The T-Mobile model, in particular, is the first to support LTE in Band 66. The phone will be among the first to ship with Android 7 Nougat and a new search tool from Google called In Apps.

Asus' Zenfone 3 Series Goes On Sale This Month

Oct 6, 2016, 8:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Asus today announced pricing and availability for its Zenfone 3 family of smartphones. The Zenfone 3 Deluxe 5.7 Special Edition, Deluxe 5.7, Deluxe 5.5, and Laser will all be sold unlocked, directly to consumers via Asus' web site. The phones share nearly identical designs, with aluminum unibody chassis, full HD AMOLED displays, rear-mounted fingerprint readers, dual SIM card and memory card support, USB Type-C, Android 6 Marshmallow, and Asus' ZenUI 3.0. The Zenfone 3 Deluxe 5.7 Special Edition is the most significant of the bunch, as it is one of the first devices to ship with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 processor aboard with 256 MB of built-in storage. The Deluxe 5.7 Special Edition and Deluxe 5.7 share most other features, including a Sony Exmor 23-megapixel camera with OIS/EIS, but the Deluxe 5.7 uses a Snapdragon 820 processor. The Deluxe 5.5 steps down the display to 5.5 inches, and includes a Snapdragon 625 processor with 4 GB of RAM and a 16-megapixel camera. The Zenfone 3 Laser is the budget-minded member of the family with a Snapdragon 430 processor, 2 GB of RAM, and 13-megapixel camera. The phones support the GSM/LTE networks operated by AT&T, T-Mobile, Cricket Wireless, and MetroPCS. The Zenfone 3 Deluxe 5.7 Special Edition costs $799, the Zenfone 3 Deluxe 5.7 costs $499, and Zenfone 3 Deluxe 5.5 costs $399. These three phones are available for preorder and will ship later this month. The Zenfone 3 Laser costs $199 and is shipping today.

Lenovo's Tango Phone Goes On Sale In November

Oct 5, 2016, 11:40 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Lenovo confirmed this week that the Phab 2 Pro will go on sale in November. It was originally expected to go on sale in September. Clay Bavor, head of VR at Google, shared the news with CNET. The phone, announced earlier this year, is the first Project Tango handset. The Phab 2 Pro is a premium smartphone with an aluminum design, a 6.4-inch quad HD display, and a Snapdragon 652 processor with 4 GB of RAM and 64 GB of storage. The phone has four cameras: an 8-megapixel selfie camera, a 16-megapixel main camera, a depth camera, and a motion-tracking camera. The latter two are core to helping create virtual/augmented reality content. The phone includes Dolby Atmos sound and is able to capture audio with Dolby 5.1 for more immersive sound. The Phab 2 Pro includes a 4,000mAh battery with rapid charging. It runs Android and will cost $499 when it reaches stores.

Amazon Prime Reading Lets Prime Subscribers Read for Free

Oct 5, 2016, 7:25 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Amazon today announced Prime Reading, a new benefit for subscribers of Amazon Prime that provides a selection of free books, magazines, and comics each month. Amazon says Prime Reading includes access to more than one thousand popular books, the latest magazines, and exclusive short content all presented within the Kindle app. Prime Reading is available to iPhones, iPads, Android phones, and Android tablets, as well as Amazon's own Fire and Kindle devices. Prime Reading is free to existing Prime subscribers, who already have access to Prime Video, Prime Music, Prime Photos, Audible Channels, and free/expedited shipping. Those who don't already subscribe to Prime can take Prime Reading for a 30-day trial.

Motorola Discloses Nougat Roadmap

Oct 4, 2016, 3:02 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Motorola today announced which devices will receive Android 7 Nougat in the months ahead. Motorola said it will start with the Moto Z series and Moto G series (fourth generation) during the fourth quarter. Those phones will be followed by the Moto X Pure Edition (3rd Gen), Moto X Style, Moto X Play, Moto X Force, Droid Turbo 2, and Droid Maxx 2. Timing for individual handsets will be announced ahead of distribution.

Google's Chromecast Ultra Supports HDR and 4K Video

Oct 4, 2016, 12:01 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Oct 4, 2016, 12:44 PM

Google today revealed the Chromecast Ultra, a new version of its home video HDMI dongle. Like last year's Chromecast, the Cromecast Ultra plugs directly into the HDMI port of television sets and allows people to cast content from their smartphones and tablets to their TVs. The Cromecast Ultra supports HDR, 4K video, Dolby Vision, and ethernet. The Chromecast Ultra goes on sale in November for $69. Interested consumers can add their name to the waitlist via the Google Store.

Google's Pixel and Pixel XL Phones First to Include Google Assistant

Oct 4, 2016, 11:36 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Oct 4, 2016, 11:42 AM

Google today announced the Pixel and Pixel XL smartphones. These handsets supplant Google's Nexus line of smartphones and include Pixel-specific user interface elements and Google Assistant. The Pixel user interface rounds off many of the app icons and replaces the Google search bar with a smaller search button. The Google Assistant is a powerful, artificial intelligence-powered tool for managing personal information, requests, searches, and actions. Google expects its Assistant to help people on both mobile devices and in the home. As for the hardware, the two phones share all specs aside from the display and battery. The Pixel has a 5.0-inch full HD display with 2,770mAh battery, and the XL steps up to a 5.5-inch quad HD screen with a 3,450mAh battery. The batteries support rapid charging that can provide 7 hours of use in 15 minutes of charging. Both are powdered buy the Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 processor with 4 GB of RAM and either 32 GB or 128 GB of storage. The main camera has a 12.3-megapixel sensor with optical image stabilization and an aperture of f/2.0, while the front camera has an 8-megapixel sensor. The Pixel will shoot HDR+ photos by default, and Google says the phone is able to handle HDR photos at quick speeds. Google will give Pixel owners unlimited, full-resolution storage of their photos and videos (including 4K). Other specs include NFC, USB Type-C, Bluetooth 4.2, and support for U.S. LTE networks. The Pixel and Pixel XL will come in black, silver, and blue. Pricing starts at $649. Verizon will sell the Pixels in the U.S., and Google also planes to sell the phone unlocked online.

WhatsApp Adds Fun Camera Tools to Messaging App

Oct 4, 2016, 7:17 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Facebook-owned WhatsApp this week rolled out new features to its messaging application. Specifically, users can now write or draw on photos and videos, as well as add emoji to posts to give them character. The editing tools pop up automatically every time users choose to share an image or video. WhatsApp also now supports the user-facing flash on compatible phones. When people take a selfie through WhatsApp, the app can fire off the flash to improve exposure. Other new features include a zooming tool within the video camera and easy switching between the rear and front cameras with a double tap on the screen. WhatsApp says these new functions will reach Android devices in an update this week, with the iPhone following soon. WhatsApp is free to download from the Google Play Store.

LG Tribute HD Hits Boost and Virgin Mobile

Oct 3, 2016, 10:15 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile today both made the LG Tribute HD smartphone available via their web sites. The phone is a small step up from the low-cost Tribute 5. The Tribute HD boasts a 5-inch 720p HD screen, which is improved over the Tribute 5's FWVGA display. The Tribute HD is powered by a 1.3 GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 212 processor with 1.5 GB of RAM and 16 GB of storage. The main camera has an 8-megapixel sensor and the front camera has a 5-megapixel sensor with an automatic selfie mode. The phone relies on a 2,100mAh battery and supports LTE 4G as well as roaming in Mexico. The Tribute HD runs Android 6 Marshmallow. Boost Mobile is selling the Tribute HD for $80, and Virgin Mobile is selling the Tribute HD for $99. Service plans start at $30.

Facebook's New Marketplace Is Your Online Garage Sale

Oct 3, 2016, 7:24 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Facebook today announced Marketplace, a dedicated place for people to sell and buy goods in their local community. Marketplace is an evolution of swap-and-sell services that have sprung up within Facebook Groups over the last few years. Facebook Marketplace is a more legitimate tool meant to help users discover, buy, and sell items with friends and neighbors. It competes with services such as Craigslist. Marketplace is located front-and-center in the main Facebook app. People can browse through Marketplace or search for specific items via categories such as electronics or furniture. Tools allow people to search in specific neighborhoods or towns, and on the flip side sellers can set the general location of their items without giving away their home address. Interested buyers can reach out to sellers through the Marketplace app to communicate about availability and price, as well as arrange drop-offs and/or pick-ups. Facebook says it does not facilitate payments or deliveries, which is up to individual buyers/sellers. Facebook Marketplace is rolling out to Android and iOS users in the U.S., the U.K., Australia, and New Zealand. Facebook says other markets will follow over time.

Facebook Debuts Messenger 'Lite' for Slow Networks

Oct 3, 2016, 7:06 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Facebook today announced Messenger Lite, a pared-down version of its instant messaging app for emerging markets. The app is meant for entry-level and mid-range Android handsets that operate on slower cellular networks. Messenger Lite includes basic services, such as messaging and the ability to send photos, links, and stickers. The app allows users to interact with the full version of Messenger and Messenger Lite. Facebook says the app requires only 10 MB of space on Android devices in order to help people maximize their storage. Facebook is making Messenger Lite available in Kenya, Tunisia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, and Venezuela first, with other markets to follow.

FCC Spills New Huawei Phone for AT&T

Sep 30, 2016, 2:59 PM   by Rich Brome

An unannounced Huawei phone for AT&T appeared today on the FCC web site. Slated for AT&T's GoPhone prepaid lineup, the H1611 appears to be an affordable Android phone with a large screen, Snapdragon 615 processor, and sealed-in 3,000 mAh battery. Front and rear cameras are also shown, as well as a memory card slot. The approvals show support for standard AT&T LTE bands, including band 30. The documents reveal few other details. The AT&T web site does not yet list the phone.

Google Rebrands 'Google Apps' for Businesses to 'G Suite' and Now Lets You Restore Trashed Files

Sep 30, 2016, 7:30 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google has renamed and reorganized a number of its service offerings for business customers. Moving forward, Google Apps for Work will be known as G Suite. G Suite includes Gmail, Docs, Drive, Calendar, Hangouts, and other services on PCs, smartphones, and tablets. The idea is to help workplaces communicate and collaborate more effectively on documents and other tasks. Google envisions information flowing freely between people, devices, apps, teams, and organizations. At the same time, Google improved its Docs, Sheets, and Slides apps for Android devices. Users can now retrieve deleted files more easily by finding them in the trash. Users will be given the opportunity to restore deleted files if necessary. The latest versions of Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides for Android devices are all free to download from the Google Play Store.

Google Threads Voice Commands Deeper Into Google Maps

Sep 29, 2016, 2:04 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

People can now use their voice to take full command of Google Maps when in the car. Google updated Maps today and added more support for "Ok, Google"-based voice commands. People will need the latest version of Google Maps and Google Search, and will need to enable the "Ok, Google" keyword detection in both apps. Once activated, Android phones will clearly show which screens in Google Maps accept voice commands with a white microphone. Users can then issue commands such as "Ok, Google, find gas stations" and the app will search for and reveal nearby fuel stops. Beyond simple navigation and search functions, Maps users will also be able to control app functions directly, such as showing/hiding traffic, muting voice guidance, checking alternate routes, and more. Google hopes expanding voice commands in the app will allow people to use Maps while keeping their eyes on the road. Google Maps is free to download from the Google Play Store.

Google Calendar Gains Smart Scheduling

Sep 29, 2016, 1:11 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today updated Google Calendar for Android and iOS devices with a new smart scheduling tool. Users can now tap a "find a time" button and Calendar will automatically suggest meeting times and available rooms based on preferences. The tool takes into account all attendees' availability, as well as meeting locations. It will suggest times with the fewest conflicts, help to reschedule conflicts, as well as include several backup suggestions. As always, the person scheduling the meeting has control over the time and location finally selected. The new smart scheduling tool is free to use in Google Calendar. The updated apps are available for download from the Google Play Store and iTunes App Store. Google says this feature will reach the web version of Google Calendar by the end of the year.

Google Delays Android Wear 2.0 Until 2017

Sep 29, 2016, 12:22 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today released Android Wear 2.0 Developer Preview 3 and also shared some details on the timing for the platform's public launch. The biggest addition to the preview operating system is the availability of the Google Play Store on Android Wear devices. With Android 2.0, smartwatch owners will be able to browse for apps via keyword and voice search directly from their wrist. Moreover, users will be able to install watch apps directly to their wearable via WiFi or cellular connections. Google says it added the Play Store to Android Wear to appease developers' wishes for improved app discovery. The new preview includes a handful of other tools for developers, as well. For example, developers can require user permission to set up watch complications, and a new API will allow watch owners to interact with a greater number of notifications on their watch. Android Wear now generates automatic responses to messages locally, rather than on a nearby smartphone. Last, Google said it is still receiving lots of feedback from developers about the features and functionality of Android Wear 2.0. As such, it has decided to continue the preview program into early 2017, at which point the first watches will receive Android Wear 2.0. Google had originally said the refreshed wearable platform will launch in 2016.

BlackBerry to Kill Off Smartphone-Making Business

Sep 28, 2016, 7:11 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

BlackBerry today said it will no longer make and sell its own smartphones. Instead, it will rely on original device manufacturers to design and make devices that will carry BlackBerry branding and software. The company employed this strategy earlier this year with the DTEK50, which was a rebranded Alcatel Idol 4. BlackBerry uses Google's Android platform as a base and hardens it with respect to bugs and security. It then packages this with its BlackBerry Suite of apps and services. "We are reaching an inflection point with our strategy," said CEO John Chen. "Our financial foundation is strong, and our pivot to software is taking hold. Under this strategy, we are focusing on software development, including security and applications. The company plans to end all internal hardware development and will outsource that function to partners." BlackBerry calls this its Mobility Solutions strategy. The company has already forged a licensing agreement with a telecom joint venture in Indonesia. BlackBerry announced the news along with its fiscal 2017 second quarter earnings report. The company generated $352 million in revenue, of which $156 million came from its software business.

Google Chrome for Android Becomes More Efficient

Sep 27, 2016, 7:17 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today updated its Chrome browser for Android devices with new tools to help reduce data usage, download pages for offline use, and discover more personalized content. To start, Data Saver has expanded to video. The Data Saver tool was built into Chrome earlier this year, but until today it only targeted text and images; now, it also compresses video to reduce data over cellular networks. Google says its compression technology allows Android users to save up to 67% on data consumption when viewing MP4 format videos through Chrome. Data Saver can sense slow or limited connections, and will automatically optimize HTTP web sites down to their essentials for faster loading. The new download feature is meant to help people save web sites and other online content for later. A button added to the browser makes it simpler to download web pages, music, pictures, or video. Downloads that fail due to network interruptions will automatically resume once connectivity is restored. Further, a new section in Chrome houses users' downloaded content so it can be retrieved quickly. (Downloads will first be available in Chrome beta.) Last, Chrome will begin to recommend web sites when people open new tabs in Chrome. Google says it will recommend fresh content, the latest news, as well as help people find their saved pages, images, and video. The more people use Chrome, the more personalized the recommendations will be. Google Chrome is free to download from the Google Play Store.

Verizon Prepaid Customers Gain HD Voice

Sep 23, 2016, 11:52 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless today said its prepaid subscribers will have access to VoLTE services, including HD Voice and video calls, starting September 25. Prepaid customers will need to add HD Voice to their account before they can make HD calls, but the add-on will be free. Calls are routed over Verizon's LTE data network rather than Verizon's legacy voice network. HD Voice supports six-way conference calls, one- or two-way video calls, and WiFi calling. As always, both the handset making the call and the handset receiving the call need to have the feature enabled and must be connected via LTE for HD Voice to function properly. Verizon said its prepaid customers HD Voice is available to more than two dozen newer iOS and Android smartphones. All WiFi calls made to U.S. phone numbers are free, but calls made to foreign numbers are billed at international long distance rates.

Hands On with Blu's Life One X2

Sep 23, 2016, 10:46 AM   by Rich Brome

Blu has a new Android phone offering desirable specs like a fingerprint reader, 5.2-inch, full-HD screen, 16-megapixel camera, fast charging, and memory card slot, all for under $200 unlocked. We spent a little time with it. Read on for our impressions.

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