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printed July 29, 2015
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AT&T to Mandate Working FM Radios In Android Handsets

Today, 1:44 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T has requested that all its handset manufacturer partners include functional FM radios in their Android smartphones by 2016. Further, the company is asking its OEM partners to enable any FM radios that may be dormant inside existing handsets. FM radios are often included on modules that bundle other radios, such as Bluetooth, WiFi, and cellular. The move means AT&T's Android customers will be able to listen to local FM radio via their smartphones through apps, such as NextRadio. The National Association of Broadcasters applauded the move, saying, "[This] marks a new beginning in mobile technology with the agreement by a global iconic brand, AT&T, to light up the FM receiver chips in all of its future Android smartphones." NextRadio, which makes it easy to find an listen to local FM radio stations, competes with myriad other third-party music services on smartphones.


Boost Mobile Adding Alcatel OneTouch Conquest and Elevate to Roster

Today, 11:18 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Boost Mobile today announced the Alcatel OneTouch Conquest and Elevate, two low-cost Android handsets. Shared features between the two handsets include support for LTE, 5-megapixel rear cameras, 2-megapixel front cameras, and the Google Now launcher.

  • Conquest: The Conquest (pictured) features an IP67 rating for protection against water and dust. The larger of these two smartphones boasts a 5-inch 720p HD screen with Dragontrail Glass and 1.2GHz quad-core processor. The Conquest runs Android 5.0 Lollipop and costs $129.99.
  • Elevate: The Elevate has a 4.5-inch FWVGA display and quad-core 1.1GHz processor. It relies on a 2,000mAh battery to get it through the day. The Elevate runs Android 5.1 Lollipop and costs $99.99.
The Conquest is available today and the Elevate will become available in August. Boost Mobile operates on Sprint's network and does not require contracts.

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Yahoo's New Messaging App Adds Live Video To Your Texts

Today, 11:11 AM   by Rich Brome   updated Today, 11:32 AM

Yahoo! today launched Livetext, its new messaging app to compete with services like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and Snapchat. The app lets you have a text conversation with one other person at a time, accompanied by a silent, 2-way live video stream. The app is designed for situations where audio might be inappropriate for one or both parties, but you want to share what you're seeing and/or facial reactions. Tapping your own video stream thumbnail switches between your front and back camera. It does not support group messaging. The app first appeared quietly in the Hong Kong iOS App Store, but today is being launched in the U.S. It will be available tomorrow for both Android and iOS.


Sprint Offering 10GB to 4-Line Family Plans for $100

Today, 11:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint today introduced the Sprint Family Share Pack, a plan that includes unlimited talk and text and 10 GB of shared data for four lines for $100 per month. Sprint Family Share Pack subscribers can quadruple their shared data to 40 GB for $20 more (total of $120 before taxes and fees). There are some catches. First, the offer is only available to families that switch active lines from another carrier to Sprint. Moreover, customers will need to purchase new handsets via Sprint's Easy Pay program. In exchange, Sprint is offering to cover all ETFs and remaining handset payments that might be incurred by customers who switch. The Sprint Family Share Pack is being offered for a limited time.


Google Translate Gains 20 Languages and A Speed Boost

Today, 8:16 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today added 20 new languages to its Google Translate application for Android and iOS devices. The app now lets people instantly translate text between Bulgarian, Catalan, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Filipino, Finnish, Hungarian, Indonesian, Lithuanian, Norwegian, Polish, Romanian, Slovak, Swedish, Turkish and Ukrainian. Google Translate initially launched with support for English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish, and it now speaks a total of 27 languages. With Google Translate, users can point their phone's camera at text in any of these languages and instantly see the translation to the language of their choice. Google also took steps to improve the performance of Google Translate's voice conversation mode. The company is using convolutional neural networks to help translate languages faster when the network connection is poor or even non-existant. This means real-time translations between two spoken languages is faster and smoother. Google said the updated Google Translate apps for Android and iOS are available in the Play Store and iTunes App Store, respectively, beginning today.


Samsung Debuts 1.0μm Pixel Camera Module for Phones

Today, 7:35 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung today said it has begun to mass produce a thinner camera module for high-end phones. The S5K3P3 uses pixels that are 1.0μm in size. The smaller pixels allow Samsung to shrink the depth of the sensor module by 20% to less than 5mm, making it ideal to use in thin designs. The S5K3P3 is a 16-megapixel sensor and Samsung claims it captures images that are on par with sensors with larger 1.12μm pixels. The S5K3P3 also uses Samsung's ISOCELL technology, which isolates the individual pixels from one another with physical barriers. This prevents color crosstalk between neighboring pixels, increases light sensitivity, and improves color fidelity in all lighting conditions. The S5K3P3 is already available in volume.


Verizon to Offer HBO Now to Wireless Customers

Yesterday, 3:03 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon and HBO today announced the immediate availability of HBO Now to Verizon's internet and TV customers. Subscribers to Verizon's FiOS broadband and television services can trial HBO Now for free for 30 days, after which it will cost $15 per month. HBO said it plans to bring its content to Verizon Wireless' forthcoming mobile video platform later this year. HBO Now offers the bulk of HBO's programming, including movies, series, and sports. It first launched via Apple TV earlier this year.


Google Search Shows When Your Fave Shops Are Busy

Yesterday, 2:51 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google updated its search application with the ability to show when businesses are at their busiest. Google Search results will display a graph that depicts the location's average foot traffic throughout the day. Google suggests the feature might be helpful in avoiding long lines for that afternoon latte. The feature is part of the latest version of Google Search for Android, which is free to download from the Play Store.


Moto G to Come In CDMA and GSM Variants

Yesterday, 2:05 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Motorola has revealed there will be at least two variants of the Moto G handset for the U.S. market. The first model, XT1540, is the GSM model that includes EDGE, HSPA+, and LTE. This model is compatible with the networks run by AT&T and T-Mobile. The second model, XT1548, is the CDMA model, though it also supports GSM, EDGE, HSPA+, and LTE for world roaming. Motorola specifically said the Moto G will be offered by Sprint Prepaid, U.S. Cellular, and Virgin Mobile. None of these carriers has yet voiced support publicly for the Moto G. The Moto G, now in its third generation, has a 5-inch 720p screen, Snapdragon 410 processor, 13-megapixel camera, and support for memory cards. It costs $179 and is available directly from Motorola.com.


AT&T Asks FCC to Change Rules So It Can Offer WiFi Calling

Yesterday, 1:58 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T has filed a waiver with the FCC asking the agency to alter some of the rules governing how AT&T serves deaf and hard-of-hearing customers so it can deploy WiFi calling sooner. AT&T plans to use WiFi to supplement its cellular network in some areas. According to AT&T, however, the TTY technology used to provide telephony services to the deaf is outdated and unreliable when pushed over WiFi. AT&T has a replacement technology, called Real-Time Text, or RTT, under development. "RTT is designed to provide better functionality than TTY, working over WiFi calling and other new IP-based networks," explained AT&T in a blog post. "Once we implement RTT, it will be backwards compatible with TTY so our customers using RTT can still communicate with TTY users, including 911 centers." AT&T can't use RTT, however, until the FCC gives it permission to make the switch. Once AT&T is allowed to jump to RTT, it will be able to move forward with its WiFi network and WiFi-based calling services. The FCC has not publicly responded to AT&T's request.


AT&T Rails Against FCC's 'Absurd' $100M Fine

Yesterday, 1:40 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T is not happy about the FCC's proposed $100 million fine levied against the carrier regarding its throttling practices. The FCC last month alleged that AT&T did not properly inform grandfathered unlimited customers about its network management techniques, which included slowing their internet speeds. In a filing, AT&T called the FCC's actions unprecedented and indefensible. "It is absurd to suggest that AT&T intended to or actually did mislead the relevant Unlimited Data Plan customers. Those customers were repeatedly advised of AT&T's congestion management practices, and, for nearly four years, they chose to keep their service," argued AT&T. "While the [FCC] speaks of AT&T's 'culpability' and 'clear knowledge' that it was misleading customers, the evidence is to the contrary. AT&T made multiple disclosures by email, bill message, text message, and online posting, precisely so that potentially affected customers would be informed about the policy." AT&T has requested the FCC to withdraw the fine. The FCC said it will weigh AT&T's request before making a final judgment in the matter.


Google's Voice Assistant Now Works with Some Chat Apps

Yesterday, 1:26 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today extended the voice capabilities of its Google Search app by allowing it to interact with third-party messaging apps. People can now issue commands such as "Ok Google, send a WhatsApp message" to initiate and dictate messages in a handful of popular messaging apps. In addition to WhatsApp, Google Search's voice assistant can interact with Viber, WeChat, Telegram, and NextPlus. Google said Android owners will need the latest version of the Google app and the messaging app in question in order for the voice commands to function properly. The feature is available to English speakers, but Google said it plans to add support for more languages and apps in the near future.


Boost and Virgin Add Data Packs for Prepaid Plans

Yesterday, 1:16 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint's Boost Mobile and Virgin Wireless USA brands today made available new data packs for customers seeking a bit more data. The $5 pack provides 1 GB of high-speed data and the $10 pack provides 2 GB of high-speed data. Boost's existing plans offer unlimited talk, text, and 2G data, but limited buckets of LTE 4G data. Virgin's plans offer a variety of talk, text, and LTE data buckets ranging from 1 GB to 3 GB. The $5 and $10 data packs can be added to any of Boost's or Virgin's plans.


T-Mobile Locks In $15 iPhone Pricing

Yesterday, 10:34 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today improved its iPhone leasing program. Anyone who leases the iPhone 6 before Labor Day will only have to pay $15 per month for the handset. Moreover, those customers will be able to keep the $15 monthly lease payment even if they upgrade to the next iPhone before the end of 2015. (This upgrade normally increases the lease payment to $27.) T-Mobile today also added Apple Music to its Music Freedom offering. This means people will be able to stream an unlimited amount of music from Apple over T-Mobile's network with no fear of it impacting their data usage. Both programs go into effect today.


Hands On with the Moto G

Yesterday, 10:27 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Yesterday, 1:42 PM

Motorola's mid-range wonder boasts a significant number of upgrades over last year's handset, making it a compelling option. Here are our first impression of this welterweight device.

continued ›


Hands On with the Moto X

Yesterday, 10:02 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Motorola showed off three new handsets today, including the Moto X Style - or "Pure Edition" - for the U.S. market. This handset runs stock Android and offers some solid updates to last year's model in terms of design and features. Here are our initial thought about Motorola's latest.

continued ›


Moto G Is Waterproof and Can Be Customized Via Moto Maker

Yesterday, 8:30 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Yesterday, 2:25 PM

Motorola today announced the Moto G, its mid-range powerhouse. The phone has a 5-inch HD screen, 13-megapixel main camera, and 5-megapixel user-facing camera. The Moto G is water resistant and can sit in a meter of water for up to 30 minutes. The handset features a quad-core Qualcomm 410 processor and comes in several memory/storage configurations. Importantly, the Moto G has been upgraded with support for LTE 4G. The Moto G comes in black or white with a metallic frame. A variety of Motorola shells are available online, but it can also be customized via Moto Maker to be completely personalized. The 2015 Moto G goes on sale in select markets, including the US, beginning today. It costs $179 for the 8 GB model.


Moto X Play Boasts Better Battery Life

Yesterday, 8:22 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Yesterday, 8:34 AM

Motorola today showed off a variant of the Moto X called the Moto X Play, which indulges a 3,630mAh battery with Quick Charge technology. Motorola says the handset can last two days on a charge, and can gather 8 hours of battery life with just 15 minutes of charging. The Moto X Plat has a 5.5-inch full HD screen, 21-megapixel camera, Qualcomm 610 processor, and 5-megapixel user-facing camera. It will be available in August. Pricing was not yet disclosed, but Motorola said it is not announcing U.S. availability at this time.

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