BlackBerry OS 10.2, which is expected to arrive before the end of the year, was recently detailed by BlackBerry Product Manager Michael Clewley. According to Clewley, BB OS 10.2 will add support for unicode emoji, support for multiple alarms, a timer, and support for level 1 notifications. An SDK for BlackBerry OS 10.2 is expected to arrive in June, with the full operating system following several months later.
AT&T has added a new administration fee to the monthly bills of all its customers. The fee amounts to 61 cents, which, when multiplied across AT&T's entire customer base, amounts to about $500 million in extra revenue per year for the company. An AT&T spokesperson told the Wall Street Journal that the fee is less than that charged by its competitors. It went into effect May 1.
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HTC today announced that the HTC One smartphone is its first HTCpro Certified smartphone. Devices certified as HTCpro meet certain security standards that make it more appealing as a choice for business customers. Chiefly, it meets the Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) 140-2 and offers 256-bit encryption. Further, it includes IPsec VPN for accessing corporate networks securely, and includes mobile device management APIs that can be used by businesses to control the One remotely. The One is available from AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile USA.
Samsung today indicated through one of its official Twitter accounts that the Verizon variant of the Galaxy S 4 is now available. It costs $199.99 for the 16GB model with a new contract.
SoftBank has signalled to the U.S. government that it will let officials elect a new person to Sprint's board of directors. This person would be responsible for overseeing national security concerns. The move is an unusual concession on SoftBank's part, and is being taken to allay U.S. governmental fears about foreign country ownership of a telecommunications company. The government is also pursuing the right to approve certain telecommunications equipment purchases, and wants Sprint to remove Chinese equipment from its affiliates. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has already approved the deal, but it is still undergoing review within the U.S. Departments of Justice, Defense, and Homeland Security, in addition to the FBI. The deal must also be cleared by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S.
Google continues to make small improvements to its Chrome browser for the Android platform and today it was updated to version 27. The latest stable release changes the search omnibox to show the search terms rather than the search URL, and makes it easier to jump to other searches in the search history. The app now also allows for full-screen browsing. Last, Google says the browser loads pages 5% faster. Google said that a new version of Chrome will soon be available to Apple's iPhone and iPad, and will bring with it voice search tools built into the browser. Google also updated the Google Play Magazines application and gave it a brand new user interface for the magazine library. Both Chrome and Play Magazines for Android are free to download from the Google Play Store.
Twitter today increased the security it offers to users of its microblogging platform by adding two-step authentication to the sign-in process. The process requires that users add a mobile phone number to their account. With the two-step authentication enabled, Twitter will send an SMS to that number with a code that must be entered in addition to the username and password in order to gain access to the Twitter account. The code will be sent each time the person logs in via the web, but is not required for subsequent sign-ins through Twitter apps. This new security feature is optional.
Verizon Wireless today announced a new company called Viva Movil, which is meant to help address the Latino population in the U.S. The company was founded by Jennifer Lopez, who serves as its chief marketing officer. Viva Movil is a partnership between Brightstar Solutions, for distribution, and Moorehead Communications, a Verizon Wireless retailer. The company will use social networking and online commerce to connect with the Latino population. The company is a retail chain that sells Verizon phones and tablets on Verizon's network with Verizon service plans. The stores will be designed in a way so that they are appealing to the Latino community, and all staffers will be bilingual. The company's web site is up and taking orders, and the first Viva Movil retail store will open on June 15 in New York City. Other markets, such as Los Angeles and Miami, will follow throughout the year.
Cricket today showed a sneak peek of two Samsung phones coming this summer. The Admire 2 sports a 4-inch screen and 4G LTE, while the Galaxy Discover is more basic with its 3.5-inch screen and stock Android interface. We checked them out. Read on for our first impressions.
Google today announced the availability of a new version of its Drive app for Android devices. Google Drive has been updated with a number of user interface tweaks to make it easier and faster to access files and documents. Documents are now laid out in cards that offer large previews of the content within the document. Users can swipe from card to card and document to document, viewing previews as they go. The app now also lets users download and store copies of files to their Android device. Another new feature of Google Drive lets Android device users snap photos of documents, which are then converted into PDFs and automatically uploaded to Drive for safe keeping. Google says that Drive's optical character recognition feature will allow the text of those documents to be searchable. Last, Google Drive for Android updates the editing tools for spreadsheets, making it less cumbersome to make changes from mobile devices. The new version of Google Drive for Android is free to download from the Google Play Store.
Samsung today confirmed that it has made a $48 million investment in competitor Pantech, which gives it 10% ownership of the company. "The investment is aimed at solidifying our relationship with Pantech, a key component customer of Samsung," said the company in a statement. "Samsung will have no involvement in Pantech’s business management in any way or form." The two competitors already collaborate on semiconductor and display technologies. Pantech sells a mix of feature phones and smartphones in the U.S. through AT&T.
Clearwire's board of directors has approved Sprint's increased bid for the company. It is recommending that shareholders vote in favor of accepting the bid and allowing Sprint to purchase the remaining portion of Clearwire that it does not already own. Sprint increased its offer for Clearwire from $2 billion to $2.5 billion to win over investors unhappy with the original offer.
At a press briefing this morning, Cricket revealed that it plans to enable LTE roaming later this year on bands 4 (1700) and 25 (1900). Band 25 LTE is used exclusively by Sprint in the U.S. Band 4 (AWS) is used by many carriers, including T-Mobile, AT&T, and soon, Verizon. The Samsung Galaxy S 4 will be Cricket's first phone to support band 25 roaming.
Cricket today announced plans to offer two new Samsung Android phones this summer: the Admire 2 and the Galaxy Discover (already offered in a GSM variant by Net10.)
- The Admire 2 is a new, mid-range Android phone with 4G LTE, 4-inch display, 5-megapixel camera, memory card slot, and Samsung's TouchWiz interface and camera features on top of Android 4.1. U.S. Cellular carries it as the Axiom.
- The Galaxy Discover is a basic Android phone with a 3.5-inch display, 3-megapixel camera, memory card slot, and stock Android 4.0 interface.
Cricket today announced that it will start selling the Samsung Galaxy S 4 on June 7 for $599.99. A financing option starts with a $59.99 down payment, plus monthly payments.
Verizon Wireless has begun selling more specific data generated by its customers to third-party companies, reports the Wall Street Journal. The data being offered includes details such as locations, travels, demographics, and web-browsing habits. The data is anonymized, so it can't be identified to individual customers, and is packaged in groups of customers rather than by person. The data, which is compiled by a company called Precision Media Insights, is sold to organizations such as the government, malls, billboard owners, and stadiums, which can then gain a better understanding about the people who frequent their businesses, what they're doing, and the general area in which they live. Verizon warned customers in 2011 that it might use their data in this manner. The Journal reports that subscribers can opt out via Verizon's web site. Information about government and corporate clients is not shared, and Verizon says that it complies with applicable laws regarding customer privacy. The Journal says that AT&T is looking to sell similar customer location data, but has not yet chosen to do so.
Coolpad announced the Quattro II on the sly during an event at the CTIA trade show. Phone Scoop took a quick look at the company's latest low-cost wonder.