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printed June 24, 2017
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HTC Testing More Squeezable Edge Sense Actions for U11

Yesterday, 3:38 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

HTC today demonstrated a handful of new Edge Sense actions it is testing for the U11. In the video, posted to HTC's Facebook page, the company shows how Edge Sense can be used to zoom in and out of maps and photos, answer and end phone calls, dismiss alarms, and change views in the calendar. HTC did not say if or when any of these tools might be advanced to the U11, though it did ask its community of fans for suggestions on other potential Edge Sense actions. The U11 smartphone includes sensors in the left and right edges that when squeezed initiate a handful of actions.


Google to Stop Scanning Gmail for Ads

Yesterday, 11:52 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today said it will stop poking through users' inboxes for ad customization purposes. Google has nearly always scanned the emails of its free Gmail users in order to help personalize and suggest advertisements. Google says the forthcoming change will put its free Gmail service in line with its paid G Suite business email. Google contends that ads are shown based on users' settings, which can be adjusted at any time — up to and including disabling ads personalization completely. The change will be put in place later the year. G Suite will continue to operate free of ads.


YouTube to Automatically Adjust Playback Size to Fill Your Screen

Thursday, 5:07 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google is about to make it easier to watch videos shot in different aspect ratios. With an update scheduled to arrive in the coming weeks, the YouTube mobile app will "dynamically adapt to whatever size you choose to watch it in. That means if you’re watching a vertical, square or horizontal video, the YouTube player will seamlessly adapt itself, filling the screen exactly the way they should." This means videos will automatically fill more of the screen as users move their phones around. Google said changes are coming to the desktop version of YouTube, too, which will focus on simplifying the look and feel of the service. For example, a new Dark Theme will offer a more movie-theater-like appearance to videos. Google is also prepared to expand some sharing tools that make it quicker to share videos directly from the viewing screen. Google didn't say exactly when these changes will reach the mobile and desktop versions of YouTube.


YouTube TV Expands to More Markets

Thursday, 5:01 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

YouTube TV will soon be available to millions more people around the U.S. thanks to a significant expansion of the service. Google today said YouTube TV will reach 10 new markets, including Dallas-Fort Worth, Washington, D.C., Houston, Atlanta, Phoenix, Detroit, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Miami-Fort Lauderdale, Orlando-Daytona Beach-Melbourne, and Charlotte, over the next few weeks. People in these markets will be able to sign up for the $35-per-month service, which includes live TV streaming of local channels, unlimited DVR use, and up to six individual user profiles per account. YouTube says people can register to see when YouTube TV will be available in their markets. The service initially launched earlier this year in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, Philadelphia, and the San Francisco Bay Area.


Imagination Technologies Puts Itself Up for Sale

Thursday, 12:54 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Imagination Technologies today said it has put the entire company up for sale following its loss of business with Apple. Earlier this year Apple announced plans to make its own GPU for the iPhone, a part Imagination Technologies has manufactured for Apple for years. Apple was Imagination's largest customer and losing the GPU contract was a huge blow. The company has already listed two business units for sale and today made the entire enterprise available for purchase. Imagination said it already "is engaged in preliminary discussions with potential bidders." Despite these plans, Imagination has filed legal grievances against Apple because it believes the iPhone maker will not be able to create its own GPU without using Imagination's patented technology.


Fourth Beta of iOS 10.3.3 Is Here

Thursday, 12:46 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple today released a new beta build of iOS 10 for developers. iOS 10.3.3 beta 4, which developers can download over the air, is a minor, bug-fixing release. Apple hasn't provided any details about what's contained in the new code, nor has it released a version for public beta testers yet. This minor update is likely to be the last for iOS 10 before Apple releases iOS 11. Apple is already beta testing iOS 11 with developers and will soon make a public beta available for general testing. The final version of iOS 11 isn't expected to arrive until September. Apple today also released tvOS 10.2.2 beta 4.


Motorola's Moto E4 Hits Verizon Prepaid June 22

Thursday, 8:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Thursday, 10:23 AM

Motorola today said its recently announced Moto E4 smartphone will go on sale June 22 in the U.S. The handset will be sold by Verizon Wireless Prepaid online for $70. Motorola also plans to sell an unlocked version the phone for $130 through Amazon, Best Buy, B&H, Fry’s, Motorola.com, and New Egg. The company expects to offer the phone through Amazon's Prime Exclusive program, too, which will allow people to purchase the handset at a lower cost as long as they agree to view ads on the lock screen. The Moto E4 will reach Boost Mobile, Sprint, Flash Wireless, Jet.com, Republic Wireless, Target, and Ting in July. Motorola said the Moto E4 Plus won't reach the U.S. until later this summer.


Virgin Mobile to Phase Android Out Slowly

Wednesday, 7:59 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Virgin Mobile today announced plans to become an iPhone-only carrier, but the carrier's Android-based handsets won't vanish overnight. Virgin's reseller partners, including Best Buy, Target, and Walmart, will continue to carry and sell Virgin Mobile's lineup of Android handsets along with the prepaid carrier's Data Love service plans, according to Justin Scott, Virgin Mobile's Director of Communications. These retail partners will not sell the iPhone for the Inner Circle yet, though Virgin anticipates they will later this year. Virgin says its existing customers won't have to worry about any immediate changes. All Virgin subscribers are welcome to keep their current phone and service plan. If they wish, customers can upgrade to the Inner Circle plan once it becomes available, but Virgin won't force them to right away. Virgin will, however, begin to phase out all Android handsets over time. "While we love our partners in the Android ecosystem and care deeply about our Android customers, the Inner Circle is a path to a different future," explained Scott. "Specifically, it's an opportunity to reposition the brand and align it with the other Virgin companies in the United States. We certainly didn't make this decision lightly and based some of it on consumer data. We chose to become the first iPhone-only based mobile carrier in the United States and launch a game-changing offer because it was time for Virgin Mobile to make a bold move." Scott did not provide any sort of timeline for phasing out the company's Android phones.


Apple Pushes Second iOS 11 Beta to Developers

Wednesday, 3:24 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple today seeded iOS 11 Beta 2 to developers. It also offered up fresh betas of macOS 10.13, watchOS 4, tvOS 11, and Xcode 9. Apple did not say what new features are included in the fresh builds. The company first announced iOS 11 earlier this month at its Worldwide Developer Conference. The revised mobile platform takes aim at the App Store experience, uses machine learning, makes changes to the camera and control center, adds a file folder, tweaks iMessage, and improves Live Photos. This second beta is still an early build of the platform and is meant only for developers. Apple is expected to make the first public beta available next month.


Virgin Mobile USA Relaunches As An iPhone-Only Carrier

Wednesday, 12:45 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Wednesday, 7:41 PM

Virgin Mobile USA, which is owned and operated by Sprint, transformed itself today into new provider much more closely aligned with the Virgin brand. Significantly, Virgin Mobile USA is now an iPhone-only carrier, meaning Apple's iPhones are the only phones Virgin will sell moving forward. Further, shoppers will be able to buy and activate an iPhone on Virgin Mobile USA at Apple Stores. Pricing for Virgin Mobile iPhones starts at $279 for the 32 GB iPhone SE and ranges up to $969 for the 256 GB iPhone 7 Plus. According to the company's web site, Virgin Mobile does not offer financing for iPhones and customers will have to pay full price. The company now offers only a single service plan. For $50 per month, Virgin Mobile USA provides unlimited talk, text, and data in the U.S. International roaming add-ons start at $5 per month. There are limitations on Virgin's plan: video playback is capped at 480p, music is streamed at 500Kbps, and gaming is streamed at 1.5Mbps. Virgin says mobile data speeds will be suppressed when the network is congested. For a limited time, Virgin Mobile is offering up to 12 months of service for just $1. The $1 yearly service offer is only available to customers buying a new iPhone and activating it on Virgin's network. Customers will have to sign up by July 31, 2017 to score the $1 deal. At the end of the 12-month service plan for $1, customers will automatically be moved to the $50 plan. Last, the $1 yearly plan and iPhone purchase buy customers access to the Virgin Inner Circle. The Inner Circle is a promotional program that provides benefits with other Virgin-branded properties. For example, Inner Circle members who buy one plane ticket on Virgin Atlantic will be given a second ticket for free. Inner Circle members who book two nights at a Virgin-owned hotel will be able to cash in on a third night for free. Virgin says these offers will be made available to Inner Circle members every few weeks. Customers interested in this package can pre-order one of Virgin Mobile USA's iPhones starting today. The phones and Inner Circle will become available starting June 27. Last, Virgin said it will offer "pre-loved" iPhones starting in the fall, allowing customers to take advantage of more affordable prices.


Snapchat Introduces Simple Location Sharing

Wednesday, 11:20 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Snapchat today updated its mobile app and made it possible for users to share their location with one another. The tool appears to have just two modes, on and off. When users choose to share their location, all their friends will see where they are on a map. Alternately, users can remain in "Ghost Mode" to keep their location private. Snapchat says users' Actionmojis will show up on the map only when they open Snapchat. The map supports zooming, so you can see where all your contacts are as they move about cities or regions. Snapchat sees the feature as a way for people to find one another when out and about and share experiences. Snap Map is being added to the Android and iOS mobile Snapchat apps over the days ahead.


5 Best Phones to Take On Summer Vacation

Wednesday, 9:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Summer is here, which means it's time to go on vacation! Whether you prefer to make day trips to local points of interest, or plan far-flung adventures that span the globe, you're going to want your trusty smartphone by your side. Here are our top smartphone picks to help you get the most out of your summer sojourns.

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Spotify and Facebook Create Playlist Mashup In Messenger

Wednesday, 7:52 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Spotify and Facebook have rolled out a new tool they believe will make listening to music more social. The tool, called Group Playlists for Messenger, lets people create and build Spotify playlists together within Messenger. Spotify suggests Group Playlists for Messenger can be ideal for parties, road trips, or other times when several people want to collaborate on a playlist. One user, a Spotify subscriber, will need to kick off the playlist and then share it with friends through Messenger. Once shared, anyone in the conversation can add songs even if they're not on Spotify. The feature is available beginning today.


Unicode 10 Adds 56 New Emoji

Wednesday, 7:43 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

The Unicode Consortium this week announced Unicode 10, which includes 56 new emoji characters and four new scripts. Some of the new emoji include facial expressions (raised eyebrow, hand-over-mouth), more men and women (bearded man, woman in head garb), hand symbols, food (dumpling, fortune cookie), clothing items, animals (dinosaurs, bugs), vehicles (flying saucer, sled), and a curling stone. The Consortium says the new scripts cover some of the world's lesser-used languages, including Gondi, Soyombo, Syriac, and Gujarati. The Unicode Consortium often offers a preview of its releases before they are made final, but this week it announced and released the final build of Unicode 10. It will be up to operating systems, platforms, and applications to adopt the new emoji. Some of the new faces are already built into Android 8 O.


ZTE's Axon 7 Mini Wins Android 7.1.1

Wednesday, 7:17 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

ZTE today began pushing Android 7.1.1 to its Axon 7 Mini smartphone. Like the same update that reached the larger Axon 7 earlier this year, today's update for the Axon 7 Mini adds support for T-Mobile WiFi Calling; a wider selection of gender-balanced emoji and GIFs; performance improvements to Google's Daydream VR; and the latest security patches. ZTE says it also fixed bugs and tweaked behaviors throughout the operating system. Android 7.1.1 Nougat heralds split-screen multitasking and better power management. People who own the Axon 7 Mini can download the update manually via the system settings tools on their phone or wait for it to arrive over the air.


Instagram Powers Up Live Replays

Tuesday, 1:58 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Instagram today made it possible for people to share their live broadcasts through the Stories tool for up to 24 hours. Once users conclude a live broadcast, they can tap a new "share" button to add a replay of the the live broadcast to their Stories. The tool also makes it easy to discard live videos whenever the broadcaster might wish. According to Instagram, the shared replays will be visible to followers through a new button that appears on the profile photo on the Stories bar. People need only tap the button to watch the associated live broadcast, which supports scanning forward and backward 15 seconds at a time. The new replay feature is included in the latest version of the Instagram mobile app for Android and iOS.


Google Makes It Easier to Split Up and Pay Project Fi Bills

Tuesday, 1:44 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today simplified the process of managing monthly bills for subscribers to its Project Fi wireless service. Starting this week, Project Fi gains a new tool that helps the account manager easily determine what each member of the plan owes and send them a bill. Google says once the feature is enabled, Project Fi can automatically calculate the cost for each individual line. The service supports payment reminders, which it will send to each individual line. Further, Project Fi can accept payments through Google Wallet. Project Fi users need only tap the payment notification they may have received and follow simple steps to send their payment to the account manager. Owners can then cash out the payments to the debit card or bank account of their choice. Google says this new tool is rolling out to all Project Fi subscribers this week. Project Fi is available only to select handsets, including the Nexus 5x and Nexus 6p, and Google Pixel and Pixel XL.


Google to Drop Support for Android Market in Eclair and Older

Tuesday, 1:32 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today said it will no longer support the Android Market application on devices running Android 2.1 Eclair and older after June 30. Once the change takes place, devices running those operating systems will no longer have access to the Android Market, which was the original app store for Android devices. Google says this will impact only a very small number of users, as the vast majority of Android devices are running much newer builds of the operating system. Google will continue to support the Google Play Store app on devices running Android 2.2 for "as long as feasible." Practically speaking, Android 2.3 Gingerbread is the base operating system to offer full Play Store support via Google Play Services. The bulk of Android users needn't worry about Google's plan to cease supporting Android Market on Android 2.1 Eclair.


OnePlus Reveals the OnePlus 5 with Dual Cameras

Tuesday, 11:19 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Tuesday, 11:44 AM

OnePlus today revealed its 2017 flagship handset, the OnePlus 5. The company has long offered high-end Android phones at affordable prices. The OnePlus 5 is the company's most advanced smartphone yet and it still manages to be affordable. The OnePlus 5 boasts a metal unibody design with a slim and rounded profile. The phone carries over the popular alert slider from earlier OnePlus phones and measures 7.25mm thick. Other hardware features include USB-C, a front-mounted fingerprint reader, 3.5mm headphone jack, and dual-camera array on the back. The two Sony camera sensors are 20- and 16-megapixels with apertures of f/2.6 and f/1.7, respectively. The 20MP sensor offers telephoto zooming while the 16MP sensor is better at low-light capture. OnePlus says it uses both lenses and sensors to help sharpen focus for all photos. The phone's optic AMOLED display measures 5.5 inches across the diagonal with full HD resolution. OnePlus picked Qualcomm's Snapdragon 835 processor and the handset comes in two memory configurations: 6 GB of RAM with 64 GB of storage, and 8 GB of RAM with 128 GB of storage. Other specs include a 3,300mAh battery with Dash Charge, Bluetooth 5.0, NFC, GPS, WiFi, and Cat 12 LTE with 3x carrier aggregation and support for 34 worldwide LTE bands. The phone relies on Android 7 Nougat as a base with OnePlus' user interface, which it calls OxygenOS, on top. Some of the features include App Priority, for personal app selection, and reduced latency for quicker input. It also packs Ambient Mode, which relies in sensors to adjust the backlight for eye comfort. The OnePlus 5 comes in black or gray and will cost $479/$539 when it goes on sale June 27. OnePlus says preorders open today.


Apple Files Another Grievance Against Qualcomm

Tuesday, 7:26 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple is taking another angle in its patent fight with Qualcomm. The iPhone maker is going after one of Qualcomm's core strategies, which is to demand a percentage of the sale price for every iPhone sold in addition to the cost of the processors, basebands, modems, and other Qualcomm chips that may be inside. The fresh legal framework, seen by Reuters, suggests Apple is relying on a brand new Supreme Court decision (Impression Products v. Lexmark, May 2017) to argue that Qualcomm should only charge for the patent license or the chips, but not both. Apple also asked the court to force Qualcomm to drop its countersuits against Apple's manufacturing partners. Apple is withholding a significant amount of cash from Qualcomm while the legal spat plays out, and Qualcomm, in turn is targeting Foxconn and others to recoup the money. Apple believes the fight should be between Apple and Qualcomm only. Qualcomm is tangled in a web of legal lawsuits strung around the world concerning its licensing practices.


HTC Says Red Version of U11 Coming to the US

Monday, 11:18 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

HTC today said U.S. customers can pre-order the red variant of the U11 smartphone beginning June 20. Other than the color, the red U11 is identical to the black, silver, and blue versions. The phone costs $649 when purchased from HTC.com. HTC offers financing for those with good credit. Stand-out features include the Edge Sense squeezable sides, quad HD display, Snapdragon 835 processor, and high-quality 12-megapixel camera. HTC has other summer sales lined up that will be available between today and June 29. HTC has dropped the price of the U Ultra from $749 to $629, it has dropped the price of the HTC 10 from $699 to $499, and has dropped the price of the HTC Bolt from $600 to $500. HTC is also offering some discounts on select accessories. HTC didn't specify with the red U11 will actually ship.


Samsung Pushes Security Update to Galaxy S8 and S8+

Monday, 7:21 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung recently seeded a software update to its Galaxy S8 and S8+ smartphones. The update applies the June security patches from Google, stabilizes memory card performance, and adjusts some user interface elements of Bixby. The update comes in at about 150MB and can be downloaded and installed over the air.

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LG Debuts G6+ with More Storage and Better Music

Monday, 7:15 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

LG today announced the G6+, a refined version of its flagship smartphone that offers a few under-the-hood improvements. The G6+ ships with 128 GB of on-board storage (rather than 64 GB) and premium headphones from Bang & Olufsen that are better able to take advantage of the 32-bit quad DAC. LG says the result is richer-sounding music. LG made some cosmetic improvements, too; for example, the rear glass panel how has a lenticular film to help create optical effects in the glass, and the bezels surrounding the display have been turned black in order to blend in with the screen (when off). The G6+ and the existing G6 are available in an expanded range of colors, including Optical Astro Black, Optical Marine Blue, and Optical Terra Gold. Beyond the G6+ hardware, LG also announced some new software features. LG plans to update the G6 with a Face Print feature, a new low-power consumption tool, and a covered lens warning. The Face Print feature is a security option that relies on facial recognition. Users hold the G6 up to their face and the user-facing camera will scan them and unlock the phone. The covered-lens warning is meant to tell users that their finger is blocking the camera. The idea is to prevent bad shots. These features will be preloaded on the G6 and G6+ moving forward, and will hit existing phones next month. LG said the timing of the G6+ launch and the software update will vary on a market-by-market basis. Pricing for the G6+ wasn't disclosed.


Samsung Opens Up Limited Preview of Bixby for Testing

Jun 16, 2017, 11:47 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung today announced that U.S. owners of the Galaxy S8 and S8+ smartphones can begin to test the voice powers of Bixby. Bixby is more than a simple voice assistant, as people can use it to interact with all facets of the phone's user interface. Samsung calls Bixby an intelligent interface, one that it hopes will help people interact with various types of technology and not just phones. Anyone who owns the Galaxy S8 or S8+ can register with Samsung to test the early preview of Bixby. According to Samsung, the number of testers will be limited. The sign-up is available from Samsung's website. Bixby was originally intended to launch on the Galaxy phones when they went on sale earlier this year. Samsung was forced to delay Bixby, however, and has since said Bixby will arrive later this summer.


T-Mobile Now Selling the Coolpad Defiant for $100

Jun 16, 2017, 8:33 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today added the Coolpad Defiant to its roster of inexpensive Android handsets. The phone features a 5-inch screen with 854 by 480 pixels and it is powered by a 1.4 GHz quad-core processor with 8 GB of storage. The Defiant also includes an 5-megapixel main camera, 2-megapixel front camera, 2,450mAh battery, and Bluetooth 4.2, WiFi, GPS, and LTE 4G. The Defiant runs Android 7 Nougat. T-Mobile says the phone is available online for $100 at full retail price or $4 per month for 24 months on an installment plan. MetroPCS plans to sell the Coolpad Defiant later this summer.


T-Mobile Rolls Out Buy-One, Get-One Offer for Samsung Galaxy S8 and LG G6

Jun 16, 2017, 8:25 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile said shoppers will be able to score a free Samsung Galaxy S8 or S8+, or LG G6 or V20 (pictured) through a new buy-one, get-one offer that kicks off June 16. Existing T-Mobile customers need to buy both phones on an installment plan and subscribe to an unlimited data service plan in order to qualify. New T-Mobile customers will need to activate both phones on the T-Mobile One plan. The BOGO offer requires customers to mail in a rebate form. T-Mobile will then mail a prepaid gift card within about eight weeks to cover the cost of the second handset. T-Mobile says it will reimburse customers for the cost of the lesser of whichever phones they purchase, up to $500 for the LG G6 or V20 and up to $790 for the Galaxy S8 or S8+. Customers will need to pay sales tax on both devices at the point of sale. The offer is contingent on customers staying through the 24 month installment plan. Those who leave T-Mobile before 24 months will need to cover the remaining balance of the two phones. T-Mobile warns that video is streamed at 480p and the top 3% of users may experience reduced speeds during network congestion.


LG Offers Two-Year Warranty Service for the G6

Jun 15, 2017, 1:59 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Jun 15, 2017, 3:04 PM

LG today debuted the Second Year Promise program for the G6 smartphone. The program is available in the U.S. to consumers who purchase the G6 through a carrier or other authorized reseller. Owners of the G6 will need to register the device within 90 days of purchase, including their own personal contact details, device identifiers (IMEI), and proof of purchase. LG says the Second Year Promise will provide G6 owners a free replacement device (new or refurbished) if their original is found to have manufacturer defects at any time during the 13th through 24th months of ownership. LG will provide free shipping and promises to get the replacement delivered within two business days. The warranty basically doubles the standard 12-month offering from LG. LG G6 owners can register through LG's web site.


Meet the LG Exalt, Verizon's First LTE-Only Flip Phone

Jun 15, 2017, 10:39 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless recently added the LG Exalt LTE to its lineup of inexpensive flip phones. The Exalt LTE has the distinction of being Verizon's first 4G LTE basic phone, according to the carrier. The handset includes LTE and UMTS/GSM radios, but the Exalt LTE does not support Verizon's legacy CDMA 3G network. That makes it unique among Verizon flip phones. In addition to LTE, the Exalt includes WiFi and a high-quality speaker for HD voice calls over either LTE or WiFi. The Exalt LTE has a 3.0-inch display with 400 by 240 pixels, a 1,470mAh battery, and a 5-megapixel camera. The Exalt LTE packs 8 GB of internal storage and supports microSD memory cards up to 32 GB. Verizon didn't say what operating system the Exalt LTE runs, nor what processor might be power the phone. The LG Exalt LTE is available online only for $168 at full retail or $7 per month for 24 months.


Twitter Overhauls Its Mobile Apps and Web Sites

Jun 15, 2017, 8:39 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Twitter today revealed a dramatic change to the look and feel of its Android and iOS mobile applications, and its mobile and desktop browser experiences. To start, Twitter has put profile, account, and privacy settings in a single place within the navigation menu to make them easier to find. Twitter says fewer tabs appear at the bottom of the iOS app to reduce clutter and improve browsing. Another iOS-only feature is how Twitter handles web links, which now open in the Safari viewer. This lets iOS users more easily access web accounts they may already be signed into. All versions of Twitter will see refined typography that features bolder headlines. The app adds rounded profile photos to help clarify which users are speaking, and tweaks function buttons such as the reply icon, which now appears as a speech bubble. Last, Twitter says tweets will update in real-time, so users can see replies, retweets, and like counts occur live. Twitter said the new versions of its Android and iOS mobile apps will arrive over the coming days and weeks. The web site changes are available right away.


T-Mobile to Light Up 600 MHz LTE This Summer

Jun 15, 2017, 8:26 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today said it plans to begin testing its newly acquired 600 MHz spectrum as soon as this summer. The FCC granted licenses for the spectrum this week following the years-long incentive auction process. T-Mobile won an average of 31 MHz (ranging from 20 MHz to 50 MHz) of the 70 MHz low-band spectrum auctioned off by TV stations and the FCC earlier this year, giving T-Mobile 100% coverage of the U.S. and Puerto Rico. T-Mobile had already voiced its intent to use some of its 600 MHz holdings for LTE service, and it is now preparing to do exactly that. The company expects to test LTE 4G on its 600 MHz this summer and commence commercial operations later this year "when new 600 MHz smartphones from Samsung and other manufacturers are anticipated to arrive." T-Mobile didn't say anything specific about the devices that will be able to access the 600 MHz spectrum, but the Samsung handset in question may be the Galaxy Note 8 flagship, which is expected by the end of summer. T-Mobile plans to cover more than 1 million square miles with LTE 4G in the 600 MHz band by the end of the year. T-Mobile is reserving some of its 600 MHz spectrum to operate some form of 5G service beginning in 2019.


Facebook Brings GIFs to Comments

Jun 15, 2017, 7:18 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Facebook today made it possible to share GIFs within comment threads on posts. Facebook Messenger has supported GIFs for some time; in fact, people share 25,000 GIFs in Messenger every minute, totaling some 13 billion GIFs in 2016. Now, people will be able to add GIFs as reactions to posts and other comments. A dedicated GIF button has been added to the tool for composing comments. Users need only search for the GIF they want and insert into a comment thread. In order to celebrate the addition of GIFs to comments (and the 30th anniversary of the GIF), Facebook partnered with GIPHY Studios to create 20 new GIFs from a selection of celebrities, such as DNCE, Logan Paul, Amanda Cerny, Dreezy, Patrick Starr, Violet Benson, Wuz Good, Brandi Marie, and Landon Moss. The expanded support for GIFs is rolling out today for all Facebook users worldwide.


Trump Asks Jessica Rosenworcel to Return to FCC

Jun 14, 2017, 10:42 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

President Donald Trump today nominated former FCC commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel to retake her seat with the agency. Rosenworcel served on the commission for several years under the Obama Administration. Her term lapsed early this year and she was forced to vacate her seat. Rosenworcel is a Democrat and brings balance to the agency, which now has two Democrats and two Republicans. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai congratulated Rosenworcel on the nomination and suggested he looked forward to working with her again. Trump hasn't indicated if or when he might nominate a fifth commissioner to fully staff the agency.


Facebook Adds to Safety Check's Tool Belt

Jun 14, 2017, 8:11 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Facebook today updated its Safety Check feature by rounding out the set of tools found within. To start, it is now possible to start and/or support a fundraiser directly from within Safety Check. Facebook says this can help kickstart the process of gathering needed funds. Facebook is bringing its Community Help tool to Safety Check as well, which makes it simple for people to ask for and find specific types of help from their community members. People will now also be able to share personal notes on their Safety Check News Feed, so friends and loved ones can read more about what might have transpired. Last, Facebook says it will attempt to provide more information about specific crises as they unfold through verified accounts. Making all this information available under the Safety Check umbrella should help people experiencing crises or other events find what they need more quickly. The tools are rolling out over the next few weeks.


Google Doing More to Promote the Best Apps

Jun 13, 2017, 1:01 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today announced the launch of Android Excellence, a new section in the Google Play Store that highlights the best of the best in terms of apps and games. Google says, "The new collections will showcase apps and games that deliver incredible user experiences on Android, use many of our best practices, and have great design, technical performance, localization, and device optimization." Some of the first apps and games highlighted in the section include City Mapper, Evernote, Golf Clash, Hotel Tonight, Kill Shot Bravo, Pictionary, Pocket, Skyscanner, and Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes. The collections will be refreshed on a quarterly basis and will be located in the Editor's Choice section of the Play Store.


iOS 10.3.3 Reaches Third Beta

Jun 13, 2017, 12:55 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple today released a new beta build of iOS 10 for developers. iOS 10.3.3 beta 3, which developers can download over the air, is a minor, bug-fixing release. Apple hasn't provided any details about what's contained in the new code, nor has it released a version for public beta testers yet. This minor update is likely to be the last for iOS 10 before Apple releases iOS 11. Apple is already beta testing iOS 11 with developers and will soon make a public beta available for general testing. The final version of iOS 11 isn't expected to arrive until September.

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Instagram Turns On Archiving Feature

Jun 13, 2017, 12:52 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Instagram today made it possible for all users to archive old posts for safekeeping. The idea behind the archiving tool is to allow people to customize their feed and perhaps hide photos they no longer wish to share publicly. "Your profile is a representation of who you are and evolves with you over time. With Archive, you now have more flexibility to shape your profile while still preserving moments that matter," explained the company in a blog post. Users will still be able to delete posts entirely, but can now also save photos to an archived folder that only the owner can see. Archived posts are saved complete with likes and comments. Further, archived photos can be made public again if the owner so chooses. The new function should reach all Android and iOS users over the next few days.


Sprint Offering a Free Year of Service to Those Who Switch

Jun 13, 2017, 10:10 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint today leveled a huge gun at the competition: it will give a year of free unlimited service to people who switch from other postpaid carriers to Sprint. The deal, detailed on Sprint's web site, requires switchers to jump through a lot of hoops and meet a wide variety of conditions. To start, the promotion will provide one year of free talk, text, and data with 10 GB of mobile hotspot per line. People who exceed the 10 GB mobile hotspot allotment will be throttled. Video can be streamed at up to full HD, music can be streamed at up to 1.5Mbps, and games can be streamed at up to 8Mbps. Sprint says it will throttle people during instances of network congestion, particularly those who exceed 23 GB per month. People who earn free service will still be on the hook for taxes and other monthly fees. In order to quality for the free service, potential switchers need to have compatible, unlocked handsets, and they'll need to purchase and activate Sprint SIM cards before porting their number to Sprint. Sprint says the SIM cards cost $3 each, with $10 shipping and handling. The actual SIM activation will be free. People who take advantage of the deal will not be able to upgrade to new devices for at least four months, and Sprint warns that phone features and network experience will vary depending on the handsets being used. Sprint will allow a total of five free lines per account. Tablets are not supported, nor are other connected devices. The promotion is available through June 30. The free service will expire July 31, 2018, after which Sprint will charge its normal rates for multi-line unlimited accounts. Auto-pay is required.


Verizon Closes Yahoo Acquisition, Launches Oath

Jun 13, 2017, 9:54 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Communications today said it has finalized its purchase of Yahoo. Now that the deal is complete, Verizon is merging its Yahoo and AOL assets into a new media company called Oath. Oath encompasses some 50 brands, including HuffPost, Yahoo Sports, AOL.com, Makers, Tumblr, Build Studios, Yahoo Finance, Yahoo Mail, and many more. Yahoo CEO Marissa Meyer, a former Google exec, has resigned effective today. Yahoo's properties will be managed by Tim Armstrong, who already oversees Verizon's AOL business unit. The $4.8 billion deal was first announced in July 2016. The process suffered a major blow when Yahoo disclosed a material security breach that impacted more than 1 billion users. The two companies later agreed to drop the sale price by $350 million, with the final price tag landing at about $4.48 billion. Marni Walden, executive vice president and president of Product Innovation and New Businesses at Verizon, presided over the acquisition. Armstrong will report to her. The company is expected to shed as many as 2,100 jobs as it integrates AOL and Yahoo's properties. Verizon Communications is the parent company of Verizon Wireless.


BlackBerry Says CDMA Version of KEYone Now At Best Buy

Jun 13, 2017, 8:26 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

BlackBerry Mobile today said the Verizon-ready, CDMA model of its KEYone smartphone is available at Best Buy stores. The phone is sold unlocked with support for Verizon's 3G and 4G networks. Earlier versions of the KEYone supported only GSM-based 3G service. The KEYone runs Google's Android operating system with BlackBerry Mobile's security and communications software on board. The phone's defining feature is the physical QWERTY keyboard. It costs $549.


Zelle Promises Quick P2P Payments Via Mobile Banking Apps

Jun 12, 2017, 11:37 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Many of today's popular mobile banking apps will soon support a rapid person-to-person (P2P) payment feature through a new service called Zelle. Zelle, developed by Early Warning Systems, is supported by more than 30 of the nation's largest banks for sending funds from one person to another. There are already a handful of established P2P payment services, including Venmo and Square Cash. These services typically require a day or two for funds to actually transfer between accounts. Zelle claims it can move cash in mere minutes using only the recipient's email address or mobile phone number. Zelle's service will eventually be baked into mobile banking apps from the likes of Bank of America, Capital One, Citi, Citizens Bank, Fifth Third Bank, First National Bank, JP Morgan Chase, KeyBank, M&T, PNC Bank, TD Bank, U.S. Bank, Wells Fargo, and more than a dozen others. Zelle is, at its simplest, a network that runs in the background to connect various financial institutions around the country. It does not require a separate app download for consumers to use, though it will be up to individual banks to adopt the service. Zelle's functionality will be rolled out gradually over the next 12 months.


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