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printed May 22, 2017
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Samsung Itself Offering T-Mobile Galaxy S8 BOGO

Today, 12:45 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung has rolled out a simpler and more direct buy-one, get-one offer for the Galaxy S8 smartphone. Under the terms of Samsung's deal, customers must buy two Galaxy S8 handsets for full price and activate at least one on T-Mobile's network via Samsung.com. Samsung will then issue a rebate for up to $750 to cover the cost of one Galaxy S8 within seven to 10 days after the purchase is made. The rebate is applied as a refund directly to the original payment method, excluding taxes, shipping, or other fees. T-Mobile's buy-one, get-one offer, in comparison, requires new/upgrading customers to sign up for its monthly installment plan for both devices and wait up to eight weeks for a rebate card that can be applied to the second device. Samsung's offer lets customers pay off the second phone almost immediately. Moreover, it can be combined with the free entertainment kit offer, which includes the Gear VR with Controller headset and six free months of Netflix.


LG X Venture Delivers Inexpensive, Rugged Performance

Today, 9:38 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Today, 9:57 AM

LG today announced the X venture, an affordable Android smartphone that can take a beating. The phone has an IP68 rating for protection against water and dust, and a mil-spec 810g rating for durability against drops, bumps, scrapes, and other abuse. The phone features a 5.2-inch full HD screen with glove mode. The phone is powered by a Snapdragon 435 processor with 2 GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage. LG says the main camera has a 16-megapixel sensor with a standard field of view, while the front camera has a 5-megapixel sensor with a wide-angle lens. The phone packs a massive 4,100mAh battery with Quick Charge 2.0 for all-day battery life. Other specs include barometer with outdoorsy software, as well as Bluetooth 4.2, GPS, WiFi, FM radio, and NFC. The phone supports memory cards up to 2 TB and it charges via microUSB. The X venture runs Android 7 Nougat. AT&T plans to sell the LG X venture starting May 26, with support for its ePTT service, for $11 per month for 30 months, or about $330.


Small Company Takes Apple to Court Over Apple Pay Patents

Today, 7:45 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Universal Secure Registry, a small firm from Boston, has filed a patent complaint against Apple and Visa over the technology used to create Apple Pay. According to the lawsuit, Kenneth P. Weiss, CEO of Universal Secure Registry, holds 13 patents pertaining to the use of fingerprints and one-time tokens in order to authenticate secure financial transactions. Weiss pitched the technology extensively to Visa in 2010. Visa agreed to a 10-year nondisclosure agreement and even assigned engineers to understand how Universal Secure Registry's process worked. Visa never adopted the technology, but several years later worked with Apple, MasterCard, and American Express to create Apple Pay, which launched in 2014. Apple Pay relies on fingerprints and one-time tokens to facilitate iPhone-based mobile payments. Patent law firm Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan — one that represented Samsung and its fight against Apple over Android patents — suggested Universal Secure Registry take Apple to court over the patented technology. Apple has not yet responded publicly to the lawsuit.


LeEco Founder Steps Away from CEO Role

Today, 7:25 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Jia Yueting, who founded China's LeEco, is cutting back on his responsibilities in order to help the company better focus on products. Specifically, Jia has stepped down as the CEO of Leshi, LeEco's main business unit. He remains the chairman and CEO of LeEco. Leshi is the part of the company that provides internet and video services in China. It is the core of the firm. LeEco later spread to TVs, smartphones, electric cars, and other connected products. These businesses sapped LeEco's finances and caused a cash crunch that eventually saw LeEco scale back its expansion plans. Former Lenovo executive Liang Jun will take Jia's place at the helm of Leshi. At the same time, Leshi's CFO, Yang Linjie, will be replaced by Zhang Wei. Jia gave the change a positive spin, suggesting that he'll be able to provide the proper amount of guidance to the business units he now governs. LeEco sold several phones directly to U.S. consumers online, including Le Pro3.


5 Most Important Things Google Announced At I/O

Friday, 12:00 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google I/O, the search company's annual developer conference, is wrapping up after a whirlwind few days in Mountain View, Calif. Google hit attendees with a blitz of announcements centered around artificial intelligence, machine learning, and mobility. While much of what Google showed off is meant for its developer partners, plenty will reach consumers in the days, weeks, and months ahead — not only on Android devices, but iOS, the web, your car, your wrist, your headset, and more.

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Google Pushes Minor Update to Android O Beta

Thursday, 7:51 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today distributed a bug-fixing update to the Android O beta. The small patch, weighing it at about 55 MB, is meant to smooth out some performance issues present in the initial build. People enrolled in the Android Beta program should see the fresh update hit their devices shortly. The Android O beta works on the Pixel, Pixel XL, Nexus 6P, and Nexus 5X.

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DxO Working with OnePlus to Improve Its Camera Tech

Thursday, 6:48 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

DxO and OnePlus today said they're developing the camera of the OnePlus 5 smartphone together. OnePlus has indicated that the OnePlus 5, which will be the successor to last year's OnePlus 3T flagship, will arrive in the months ahead. OnePlus hasn't shared any real details about the phone, such as the screen size, processor, or camera resolution. OnePlus doesn't have a carrier distribution deal in the U.S., but it does sell its phones directly to consumers online.


Android Pay to Support Payments via Google Assistant

Thursday, 3:11 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google this week rolled out the Google Payment API, a new set of capabilities that will allow anyone to make in-app or online payments with any debit or credit card associated with their Google account. Google says this option will simplify the process for people to checkout and make purchases online, as it negates the need to fill out cumbersome purchasing forms. Moreover, the API will make it possible for people to send or receive payments via the Google Assistant. Whether the Assistant is accessed through a smartphone or Google Home, users can say, "Ok Google, send $10 for Jane for pizza" and Google will do exactly that. A separate payment tool for developers, called the Card Linked Offers API, smoothes over the process of supporting loyalty cards and programs. It gives developers a new channel for interacting with customers and rolling out targeted offers. From a consumer standpoint, it will be far easier to add loyalty cards to Android Pay once developers update their app with the Card Linked Offers API. Google expects these capabilities to roll out later this year.


Google Hopes New API Will Improve Android Wear Complications

Thursday, 3:00 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today announced a new version of its Complications API for developers in order to help them create better experiences for Android Wear. Complications are dynamic data sets that appear on watch faces, such as step counts, notifications, weather alerts, and similar. Specifically, the refreshed API can now auto-size text to fit in bounds defined by watch face makers and it includes a full rendering tool to handle style and layout factors for complications. The API adds more sample code that developers can cut-and-paste into their apps, as well as a new test suite for checking that watch faces can handle all the fields and complications together. The new Complications API is for Android Wear 2.0 and up. Google released the second-generation wearable platform earlier this year. Google also said it is offering developers a new Wear UI library for handling user interfaces. Notably, Google is killing off the card pattern and multi-directional UIs for Android Wear devices. This change will occur over time.


First Look: What's New In Android O

Thursday, 2:15 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google this week released the first public beta of Android O, the next version of its core mobile platform. Android O has a handful of interesting new features, including picture-in-picture, notification dots, autofill for app logins, easy text selection, and much more. Android O may not be huge on hallmark additions to the platform, but it shows an excellent level of refinement from Google. We downloaded the Android O beta and took it for a quick spin. Here are our first impressions of this super early build of Android O.

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Verizon to Sell Asus' ZenFone AR Project Tango Phone

Thursday, 12:30 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Thursday, 12:53 PM

Verizon Wireless will be the first U.S. carrier to offer a Project Tango smartphone to its customers. The forthcoming Asus ZenFone AR will arrive later this summer, according to Google executive Johnny Lee. The ZenFone AR is significantly smaller than the first Project Tango handset, which was the Lenovo Phab 2 Pro. The ZenFone AR will also be compatible with Google's Daydream virtual reality platform. Asus first announced the ZenFone AR in January. It sports a 5.7-inch WQHD AMOLED display, Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 processor, 8 GB of RAM, and a vapor cooling system. Triple cameras on the back support Tango applications with a 23-megapixel main camera, depth camera, and motion tracking camera. Other features include NFC, memory card slot, USB-C port, 3.5mm audio jack, and Cat 12 LTE. The 3,300 mAh battery supports Quick Charge 3.0. The exact availability is not yet known.

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FCC to Begin Dismantling Title II Net Neutrality

Thursday, 12:13 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

The FCC today voted down party lines to begin the process of undoing the Title II designation that governs net neutrality. "The FCC is proposing to return to a regulatory framework that preserved a free and open internet for almost 20 years," said the agency on its Twitter feed. The previous FCC Commissioner, Tom Wheeler, installed the Title II designation and bright-line rules in 2015 in order to protect consumers from onerous business practices. Current FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has long derided the decision and stated early in his tenure his intent to walk back the regulations. Today's vote doesn't immediately strip Title II from net neutrality, but it puts the ball in motion. The FCC wants to return to the Commission’s original classification of mobile broadband internet access service as a private mobile service, rather than a utility. The FCC intends to "eliminate the catch-all internet conduct standard created by the Title II Order. Because the Internet conduct standard is extremely vague and expansive, ISPs must guess at what they are permitted to do. Eliminating the Internet conduct standard is therefore expected to promote innovation and network investment by eliminating regulatory uncertainty." Last, the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking seeks comment on the idea of eliminating the bright-line rules that define what mobile broadband providers can and cannot do, such as throttling, and paid prioritization schemes.


Chrome for Android to Support VR Browsing

Thursday, 12:10 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today said it plans to bring full virtual reality support to its Chrome browser for Android handsets. With Chrome VR, people will be able to experience full web sites in virtual reality, watch web-based videos in virtual reality, and interact with web sites through their VR headset. Google suggests that Chrome VR can pair with augmented reality tools when, for example, shopping for furniture in order to help define whether or not things will fit in your house. A new version of Chromium is available to developers from GitHub so web writers can get started in creating VR experiences for the web. Google didn't say when it expects to offer a final version of Chrome VR to the general public.

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YouTube VR to Support Co-Watching

Thursday, 12:00 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today said it is updating YouTube VR with the ability for multiple people to watch and share experiences at the same time. The new tools will make it possible for those with their own headsets to do what Google calls co-watching. People will be able to enjoy the content and discuss it in real time, even when viewing from separate locations. Google is working with its content producers to create more VR content for YouTube, all of which will be accessible in the new Daydream 2.0 Euphrates platform.

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Google Updates Daydream to Version 2.0 Euphrates

Thursday, 11:57 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Thursday, 12:20 PM

Google today provided some insight on its Daydream virtual reality platform and says a new version of Daydream will soon make its debut. Daydream 2.0 Euphrates targets standalone VR headsets and is powered by Android O. The entire experience is handled in virtual reality. Daydream 2.0 updates the home experience for standalone headsets and smartphones. Euphrates includes a new dashboard that will appear on top of any app and lets people remain in VR even when checking settings, reading notifications, and multitasking. Euphrates also adds Google Cast support, allowing people to pick a destination and cast from Daydream to other devices such as television sets. Daydream 2.0 makes it possible to capture screenshots and then share them via social networks. Google said there are eight Daydream compatible handsets right now, and it expects that number to increase significantly by the end of the year thanks to new entries from LG, Motorola, Asus, and others. Google believes tens of millions of Daydream devices will be in the market by the end of the year.


Facebook Streamlines Messenger

Thursday, 11:16 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Facebook today said it is simplifying the main screen of Facebook Messenger, returning the app's focus to messaging. Facebook has over the last year added numerous features to the messaging tool and the app's usability has suffered somewhat as a result. The app introduces tabs along the top for all the different actions and features, rather than cramming them in small slots on the home screen. The tabs will also show users which of their friends are available for conversations, as well as a dedicated place to host group conversations. The bottom bar now offers shortcuts for making calls, taking pictures, searching or people, playing games, and, later, exploring the forthcoming discover tab. Last, Messenger includes a red dot to help people see what's new. "These changes are designed to make Messenger simpler for you — to help you get to your contacts quickly, jump into your conversations where you left off, start new chats, and stay up to date," said Facebook's David Marcus. The new Messenger is hitting Android and iOS devices this week.


Cricket to Sell LG Stylo 3 Starting May 19

Thursday, 11:04 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Friday, 3:23 PM

Cricket Wireless today said it, too, will sell the LG Stylo 3 beginning May 19. A CDMA version is already available from Sprint and Boost, and a slightly higher-end Stylo 3 Plus is available from T-Mobile. The Stylo 3 has a 5.7-inch 720p HD screen, 13-megapixel main camera, 5-megapixel front camera, and fingerprint reader. The phone includes LG's stylus and dedicated pen software. The phone runs Android 7 Nougat. Cricket Wireless has priced the LG Stylo 3 at $170.

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Android O Adopts New Emoji Design

Wednesday, 7:05 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Android O replaces the squishy emoji blobs that have long been a part of Google's stock operating system with more traditional, circular emoji. Many of Google's handset partners include their own emoji on Android phones, but the clean version of Android that runs on Pixel and Nexus devices includes the blob-style emoji. Android O puts the basic design and shape of the emoji in line with what other companies offer. The redesigned emoji are included in the new Android O beta release that Google made available earlier today.

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Google Updates, Renames Android Device Manager

Wednesday, 5:10 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today updated its Android Device Manager application. The app has a fresh design and, more importantly, a new name. Moving forward the app is called Find My Device. As before, it's a tool to help people find, lock, or erase lost or stolen Android devices. Some of the new features include the ability to check the lost device's wifi and battery status, as well as view the last known location in the event the phone has lost power or been turned off. Find My Device is free to download from the Google Play Store.


Developers Can (Finally) Create Instant Apps

Wednesday, 3:33 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Wednesday, 5:12 PM

Google today made its instant apps tool available to all developers. Google first announced instant apps at its I/O developer conference in 2016. Instant apps can run in the browser via search results even when not installed on users' phones. The idea is to improve the visibility of apps, allow people to test them, and encourage more app downloads. Only a few developers have had access to instant apps since last year. Now, any developer can create instant versions of the apps. Google said it will take most developers about four or five weeks to modify their apps to run in the instant format. It will be up to app creators to use this tool before instant apps begin to appear in search results.


Android O Beta Now Available

Wednesday, 3:19 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Wednesday, 3:58 PM

Google today made the first public beta version of Android O available for download. The updated operating system is available to the Google Pixel, Pixel XL, and Pixel C, and the Nexus 6P, 5X, and Nexus Player. In order to access the beta, people will need to register via the Android.com web site. The beta is open to anyone. Some of the hallmark features of Android O include picture-in-picture, improved security, quick app loads, autofill, better power management, and more. Google warns that this initial public beta may not be stable enough for everyday use. Google expects to release the final version of Android O later this summer.


Project Tango Adds Indoor Positioning Tool

Wednesday, 1:57 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Project Tango, Google's augmented reality platform, gains a new virtual position system that can locate phones indoors. Google envisions it as a helpful tool in retail and similar environments, helping people navigate stores to find items. For example, Google is working with Lowe's stores as well as a handful of museums to bring VPS to real-world locations. Google thinks it might be particularly helpful for the visually impaired. Further, Google says a new Project Tango augmented reality handset from Asus will debut later this year. Asus didn't provide details about the new handset, which is called the ZenFone AR.


Google Says Samsung Galaxy S8 to Get Daydream

Wednesday, 1:53 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today said Samsung will update the Galaxy S8 and S8+ handsets later this summer in order to make them compatible with Google's Daydream virtual reality platform. Daydream is Google's year-old VR service that runs on select handsets. It includes a dedicated VR headset. Google also mentioned that a forthcoming flagship handset from LG will be Daydream compatible. Google is working with partners such as Qualcomm, HTC, Lenovo, and others to create more standalone Daydream headsets that should arrive later this year.


Android Go Targets Entry-Level Handsets

Wednesday, 1:44 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today introduced Android Go, a lite version of Android meant for the most basic hardware in environments where mobile data is expensive. For example, it does things such as save mobile data in Chrome by default. It includes a new version of YouTube called YouTube Go. It compresses videos to cut down on data usage, but also allows people to download videos over wifi for offline viewing. The Google Play Store will soon include recommendations for "lite" versions of apps that are designed to run on low-cost devices. Android Go will target all devices with 1 GB of RAM or less, and each version of Android moving forward will include an Android Go release. Google expects to see the first Android Go devices reach the market later this year.

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Android O to Feature Picture-In-Picture and Improved Security

Wednesday, 1:36 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today provided more details about the next version of Android at its I/O developer conference. One of the biggest additions to the platform is picture-in-picture for mobile phones. It works with apps such as YouTube and video calls and allows people to minimize the video in a small window while opening and using other apps. Notification dots are a simpler way for people to manage incoming notifications. Another tool headed to Android O is called autofill. It works with most third-party applications and eases the process of filling login details. Another function improves text selection, Android O will automatically select phone numbers, addresses, and business names or titles with a single tap. TensorFlow Lite, a new developer tool, will let developers create more powerful applications for the latest hardware. Google is investing in what it calls vital tools in Android O. For example, Google is using machine learning to scan 50 billion apps every day to ensure they are secure. Google Play Protect will scan apps installed to devices automatically. Google improved app boot times for Android O. Google says the Pixel, for example, will load apps twice as fast with Android O. Wise limits put boundaries on app usage to free up memory and protect battery life. Play Console Dashboards, a tool for developers, will give app writers far more insight into their apps' performance, including crash reports, CPU usage, and power consumption. Last, Google added the Kotlin developer language to the Android platform. This lets developers rely on Kotlin rather than Android Studio to create their applications. Google said Android O will arrive for end users later this summer. Developers can download a beta build of Android O beginning today.

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Google Photos Debuts Suggested Sharing, Photo Books

Wednesday, 12:58 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Wednesday, 1:11 PM

Google today made it easier to share photos with others. The new suggested sharing tool relies on machine learning to recognize faces in photos and match them with known contacts. The app will automatically select the best shots from events/locations and offer personalized sharing suggestions to family and friends. The app can, for example, eliminate duplicates and select images that are in focus and then instantly push them to those in the photos. Google Photos can share albums and images with anyone, no Google Photos account required. Google Photos is adding a shared libraries feature, as well, allowing people to share and contribute to specific libraries. Photos added to shared libraries will instantly appear on all devices/accounts linked to the library. Last, Google added a tool called Photo Books to Google Photos, which lets people create photo albums that can then be printed in soft- or hard-covered albums. The tool can automatically pick the best shots among those selected, lay them out instantly, and then print and ship the album. Google said these features will reach Android, iOS, and the web in the coming weeks.


Google Dials Up Voice Calls for Google Home

May 17, 2017, 12:44 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Wednesday, 1:09 PM

Google today said its Google Home device can now make free voice calls to landline and mobile phones in the U.S. and Canada. There are no apps, set-up, or apps required. Google Home owners simply need to ask the Assistant to call anyone in their contact list. The tool is smart enough to discern between six users and their individual accounts by their sound of their voice. By default it will dial out from a private number, but users can configure it to display their own number for outgoing calls. Google Home is also adding support for Spotify for music streaming, and will soon support Bluetooth for streaming from any Android and iOS device. Home is gaining more compatibility with Chromecast, too, and can display information requests on connected TVs. These updates are expected to reach Google Home over the coming months.


Google Brings Google Assistant to the iPhone

May 17, 2017, 12:31 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated May 17, 2017, 12:36 PM

Google today announced Google Assistant for the iPhone. The app can respond to voice input and take action for a wide variety of tasks. It can supplant Siri on the iPhone to read emails, send messages, perform searches, and open/use applications. Google didn't say exactly when Google Assistant for the iPhone will be available.


Google Lens Uses Machine Learning to Recognize Objects

May 17, 2017, 12:25 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today announced Google Lens, an image-recognition tool that relies on mobile cameras to perform searches. The tool is a significant advancement to the old Google Image Search app. Google says its neural networks are better than humans at recognizing objects. Using Google Lens, people can aim their camera at just about anything and Google will instantly perform a search and suggest results. For example, users can point their camera at a restaurant and immediately see the Google Search results for that restaurant, including reviews, hours, and location details. It can recognize object such as flowers, and much more. Google didn't say when Google Lens will be available.


Smart Replies Headed to Gmail

May 17, 2017, 12:19 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Wednesday, 1:01 PM

Google today said Gmail will soon support smart replies, or automatic responses to emails. The tool is being carried over from Google's Allo messaging application. When people open emails, Gmail will now suggest several canned responses to the message that people can tap to send instantly. Google didn't say exactly when the new feature will reach the mobile app.


Apple Pushes iOS 10.3.3 to Developers

May 17, 2017, 11:31 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple this week released a new beta build of iOS 10 for developers. iOS 10.3.3, which developers can download over the air, is a minor, bug-fixing release. Apple didn't provide any details about what's contained in the new code, nor has it released a version for public beta testers yet. Earlier this week, Apple released a final build of iOS 10.3.2, which was also a maintenance release.


Qualcomm Goes After Apple's Manufacturing Partners

May 17, 2017, 11:27 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Qualcomm is targeting companies that manufacture Apple products in an attempt to recover royalty payments. Qualcomm sued Foxconn, Pegatron, Wistron, and Compal Electronics seeking patent fees. Apple is withholding about $1 billion in royalties from Qualcomm after it sued the company in January for overcharging for patents and technology licenses. The move is just the latest in a series of legal maneuvers between the two companies. "While not disputing their contractual obligations to pay for the use of Qualcomm's inventions, the manufacturers say they must follow Apple's instructions not to pay," said Qualcomm in a statement. Apple said it will support its suppliers until the dispute with Qualcomm is resolved. Qualcomm is being sued by the FTC, Apple, and other companies over its patent-licensing practices. The FTC says Qualcomm's business practices may violate antitrust laws.


Verizon Nixes LG Watch Sport

May 17, 2017, 11:18 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless has cancelled plans to sell the LG Watch Sport wearable. The device, announced earlier this year, was meant to reach Verizon's network this spring with LTE support. Verizon did not say why it chose to drop the device, though it is offering those who preordered the smartwatch $100 off other connected wearables. The Watch Sport is a circular, fitness-focused smartwatch that can track workouts and health data, such as distance covered and heart rate. It is still available from AT&T. Verizon is focusing on the Watch24 wearable, which is Verizon-branded smartwatch running Android Wear 2.0.


T-Mobile Kicks Off Sales of LG Stylo 3 Plus

May 17, 2017, 11:09 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today added the LG Stylo 3 Plus to its lineup of Android smartphones. The device is a minor update to last year's Stylo 3. For example, it improves the 5.7-inch display to full HD resolution and jumps from a MediaTek processor to a Qualcomm Snapdragon 435 with 3 GB RAM, 32 GB of storage, and support for memory cards up to 2 TB. The main camera has a 13-megapixel sensor and the front camera has a 5-megapixel sensor. The phone has a fingerprint reader on the back and include NFC for Android Pay. The Stylo 3 Plus includes a pen stylus and LG's latest pen-based features. It runs Android 7 Nougat. T-Mobile is selling the phone for $225 at full retail or for $9 per month on an installment plan. The LG Stylo 3 Plus will reach MetroPCS stores in June.


Hands On with the HTC U11

May 16, 2017, 2:00 AM   by Rich Brome   updated May 16, 2017, 2:04 AM

The HTC U11 is the company's true flagship phone for 2017. It fills the Goldilocks spot in HTC's U series: better than the U Play, but smaller than the U Ultra, while also replacing last year's HTC 10. It has unique features like shortcuts triggered by squeezing the phone, noise-canceling earbuds, and full support for both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. It's covered in sexy curved glass on both the front and back, and comes in several eye-catching, color-shifting hues. It has all of the power and features you'd expect from a flagship today, including a Snapdragon 835 processor. What's it like in person? Read on for our hands-on first impressions.

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HTC's U11 Just Wants To Be Squeezed

May 16, 2017, 2:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

HTC today announced the U11, a flagship smartphone that responds to squeezes along the side edge. According to HTC, the U11 will open the camera, dictate and send a text message, or even open email with a gentle squeeze. HTC calls this feature Edge Sense and says it will work under most circumstances, such as when the owner is wearing gloves. Other notable features include: support for Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and HTC Sense Companion voice assistants; HTC BoomSound Hi-Fi Edition speakers and custom-tuned USonic earbuds that now include active noise cancellation; and four microphones for 3D recording. The phone merges the visual appeal of the U Ultra with the specs of a modern flagship. The U11 is made from dual liquid glass surfaces and a metal frame that are resistant to water and liquid damage. The Super LCD 3 display measures 5.5 inches across the diagonal and boasts quad HD resolution. It is protected by Gorilla Glass 5. HTC gave the U11 a Snapdragon 835 processor from Qualcomm with 4 GB of RAM and 64 GB of storage. Other specs include a 12-megapixel main camera with autofocus, BSI sensor, optical image stabilization f/1.7 aperture, and dual LED flash. Shooting modes include HDR Boost, manual, panorama, face detection, hyper-lapse, slow motion, and 4K video. The front-facing camera has a 16-megapixel sensor. HTC selected a 3,000mAh battery that supports Quick Charge 3.0 via the USB-C port. Like the U Ultra, the U11 nixes the 3.5mm headset jack but includes an adapter. The U11 supports most LTE bands for use the U.S. and will be sold by Sprint with HPUE for faster performance on the company's 2.5 GHz spectrum. HTC plans to sell an unlocked variant of the phone directly to consumers via HTC.com and Amazon.com. Preorders can be made starting today and HTC expects the phone to ship in June. It will be available in black, silver, and blue. The HTC U11 costs $700.

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YouTube TV Gains More Channels, But Still Limited to Just a Few Cities

May 15, 2017, 3:19 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

YouTube TV recently added a handful of new channels to its monthly internet-based TV offering. Subscribers will now be able to access and watch programs on AMC, BBC America, IFC TV, Sundance TV, Telemundo, Univision, and We TV. Despite the new channels, the service is only available in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, Philadelphia, and the San Francisco Bay Area. Google hasn't said when it YouTube TV will reach more markets.


BlackBerry Offering Privacy Shade Tool to All Hub+ Subscribers

May 15, 2017, 3:13 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

BlackBerry today outlined several changes headed to its suite of Android applications, including the general availability of the Privacy Shade. The Privacy Shade was first made available only to BlackBerry-branded handsets, but will soon be available to any Android handset that relies on the BlackBerry Hub+ service. The Privacy Shade lets users adjust the transparency of the filter to suit their surroundings and activate it from the convenience key. Along with the wider availability, Privacy Shade users will also be able to re-size the window. Other new tools include Quick File for moving messages, Google Hangouts notifications, GroupWise mail server out-of-office messages, enhanced message previews when roaming, and the dark theme for the Hub widget. The updates will hit Hub+ in the Google Play Store in the days ahead.


Apple Releases iOS 10.3.2 with Bug Fixes

May 15, 2017, 12:07 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated May 15, 2017, 12:31 PM

Apple today made iOS 10.3.2 available to the iPhone and iPad. The minor system update primarily resolves bugs, patches security holes, and improves performance. Apple has been testing the update for the past month through its developer and public beta programs. iOS 10.3.2 is free to download and install over the air. Apple also distributed watchOS 3.2.2, macOS Sierra 10.12.5, and tvOS 10.2.1 — all of which focus on security and performance.


Motorola Debuts the Entry-Level Moto C and Moto C Plus

May 15, 2017, 10:49 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated May 15, 2017, 11:35 AM

Motorola today unveiled two low-cost Android smartphones, the Moto C and Moto C Plus (pictured). Both phones are intended to serve as entry-level handsets for first time and/or cost-conscious buyers. Shared features include Android 7 Nougat, 3.5mm headset jacks, MediaTek 6737 processors, Bluetooth 4.2, and GPS. Some of the Moto C's specs include a 5-inch FWVGA display, 2,350mAh battery, LTE 4G, 5-megapixel camera with LED flash, 2-megapixel front camera with selfie flash, and a 1.1 GHz quad-core processor with 1 GB of RAM and 8 GB of storage. The C Plus has a larger 4,000mAh battery and higher-resolution 720p HD 5-inch screen. It also improves the main camera sensor to 8-megapixels with LED flash, but keeps the 2-megapixel selfie camera. The Moto C Plus includes a 1.3 GHz quad-core processor with 1 GB of RAM, 16 GB of storage, and supports microSD memory cards. The devices will ship in Latin America, Europe, and Asia Pacific later this spring. Motorola said neither phone will be made available to U.S. buyers. The Moto C is priced at approximately $110 and the Moto C Plus is priced at about $130.


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