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printed May 27, 2015
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Google to Surface iOS App Content in Search Results

Today, 11:05 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Today, 11:09 AM

Google today enabled a new functionality that will let the Google Search app find content within iOS apps and include that data in search results. Users will then be able to select the search results and go directly to the associated app on their phone. The functionality must be enabled by developers using the new App indexing tool from Google. Once indexed, Google Search will be able to poke through apps for relevant information when users perform searches on their iPhone. Google Search already does this on Android devices. Google said it plans to debut the feature in a few weeks with a select batch of apps, but it is encouraging all developers to index their own apps for the added functionality. The feature will be available globally.


Consumer Cellular Offering the Moto E for $100

Today, 10:15 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Consumer Cellular today said it has added the Motorola Moto E with LTE to its lineup of Android smartphones. The Moto E features a 4.5-inch screen, 5-megapixel camera with 720p HD video capture, and a VGA front camera. The phone is powered by a 1.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon with 1 GB of RAM, 8 GB of storage, and includes support for memory cards up to 32 GB. The phone runs Android 5.0 Lollipop. Consumer Cellular is selling the Moto E with LTE for $100. Consumer Cellular does not require contracts.


Nokia Networks to Acquire Eden Rock

Today, 6:55 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Nokia Networks today announced its intent to acquire Eden Rock Communications for an undisclosed sum. Eden Rock pioneered self-organizing networks (SON) technology for mobile broadband operators. "SON is essential for the increasingly complex heterogenous operator networks," said Nokia. "It provides workflow automation, network performance improvements, and additional reliability." Nokia Networks has its own SON business, and believes Eden Rock's solution is complementary to its own. Combined, Nokia believes it can become the vendor-of-choice for supplying SON radio tech to network operators. Some of the benefits cited by Nokia Networks include reduced operating expenses and improved customer experience. Eden Rock's employees will be transferred to Nokia Networks in the Seattle area. Nokia expects the deal to close during the third quarter of the year. Nokia is already in the process of acquiring Alcatel-Lucent to improve its competitive stature in the telecommunication networking market.


Verizon Now Requires Edge Customers to Pay Off Phone

Yesterday, 2:22 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless today announced a change to its Edge equipment installment plans. Beginning May 31, Edge customers will need to pay off their device in full before they they can upgrade to a new phone. As always, customers can initiate an Edge payment plan with no money down followed by 24 equal payments to cover the full retail cost of the phone. Customers will be able to upgrade at any time once the device is paid off, and they'll be able to keep the phone. Before this week's change customers were able to upgrade after they paid off just 75% of their old phone, but they had to wait at least 30 days from the time of purchase and had to turn in the old phone. Verizon says customers may donate or recycle their old phone for credit towards a new device if they wish. Edge installment plans are available to Verizon's post- and pre-paid service plans.


Opera Boosts WiFi Performance of Opera Max

Yesterday, 1:43 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Opera today updated its Opera Max tool for Android devices with improved performance when surfing via WiFi. Opera Max is a data-management app meant to help users control how much wireless data they use. Before today's update, Max only helped control usage over cellular networks. Now, it can compress web pages over WiFi connections so users can browse quickly over congested local networks. Opera Max also gains a feature for blocking apps, which will prevent apps from tracking the user or consuming data without permission. Last, Opera refreshed the user interface based on elements from Google's Material Design. Opera Max is free to download from the Google Play Store.


US Cellular to Sell LG G4 On June 4

Yesterday, 1:30 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

U.S Cellular today joined Sprint and T-Mobile in announcing planned availability for the LG G4 smartphone. U.S. Cellular will begin taking preorders on May 29 and the phone will reach stores June 4. U.S. Cellular is asking for $199 with a two-year contract, $29.50 per month for 24 months for the plastic rear cover, or $30.50 per month for 24 months for the black leather cover.


Unicode 9.0 to Add 38 New Emoji, Including Face Palm and Shrug

Yesterday, 10:53 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

The Unicode emoji subcommittee has recommended a set of 38 new emoji be added to version 9.0 of the Unicode Standard. The emoji include a wide range of gestures, animals, and food. Some include the "call me" hand gesture as well as left and right fists (for fist bumps); sharks, bats, and eagles; and bacon, avocados, and carrots. The Unicode emoji subcommittee published notes for defining the rationale behind each emoji, as well as potential uses. Monochrome and color versions of each emoji accompany the list for illustrative purposes, but don't necessarily represent their final form. "These symbols are considered for incorporation into Unicode for reasons such as compatibility usage, popular requests from online communities, and filling the gaps in the existing set of Unicode emoji," said the organization. Version 8.0 of the Unicode Standard has only just begun to roll out, and Version 9.0 likely won't be published until mid 2016.


Twitter's Periscope App Reaches Android

Yesterday, 9:30 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Twitter today made its Periscope live-streaming video application available to Android devices. The app lets people broadcast a live video feed to their Twitter followers, who can join or leave feeds at will, as well as rate them with hearts. Periscope has been available to the iPhone for several months. The Android version adds a "return to broadcast" function for jumping back into streams the user might have left, and makes some usability tweaks to how users initiate a live feed. Periscope is free to download from the Google Play Store. It requires Android 4.4 KitKat and up.


Hyundai Making Android Auto Available to 2015 Sonata

Yesterday, 8:26 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Hyundai today claimed to be the first auto manufacturer to bring Android Auto support to its production vehicles. Hyundai is offering Android Auto to the 2015 Sonata to start. Owners of the Sonata can bring their car to a dealership for a software update containing Android Auto beginning today. Later this summer, Hyundai will let consumers install Android Auto on their own via USB drive. Android Auto lets compatible handsets (running Android 5.0 Lollipop and up) access select features, including maps, music, Google Now, and messaging, from the Sonata's in-dash navigation screen. Hyundai plans to offer Android Auto to other models later this year.


T-Mobile to Launch LG G4 On June 3

Yesterday, 8:13 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today said it will begin selling its version of the LG G4 on June 3, with preorders beginning May 27. T-Mobile is offering the G4 for the full retail price of $599.76 or for $24.99 per month for 24 months with a Simple Choice. T-Mobile and LG are offering a 128 GB microSD memory card for free with the purchase of a G4 through June 21. T-Mobile says it will be the only U.S. carrier to offer the brown leather back cover for the G4; it also plans to sell the metallic silver model. The LG G4 has a 5.5-inch quad HD screen, Snapdragon 808 processor, and a 16-megapixel camera.


Microsoft Bringing Cortana to Android and iOS

Yesterday, 7:55 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Microsoft today said Android and iOS users will soon be able to use Cortana, its virtual assistant, on their smartphones. The Android and iOS Cortana app will work in coordination with Cortana on Windows 10 PCs, according to Microsoft. A Phone Companion app for Windows 10 PCs will help Android and iOS device owners install Cortana on their handset so they can access Microsoft's virtual assistant wherever they go. The Android and iOS version of Cortana will include most features available to the Windows 10 and Windows Phone versions, such as setting reminders, alerts, and alarms; tracking flights and managing travel details; and accessing Cortana's Notebook function for search preferences. Changes made in one version of Cortana will be reflected across all devices. Microsoft said the Phone Companion app will function with Windows Phone handsets, too, to help sync Cortana functions across devices. In order to test Cortana on Android and iOS smartphones, users will need to enroll in Microsoft's Windows Insider program and install the Windows 10 Technical Preview for PCs. Microsoft said the Cortana Companion App will be available for Android phones at the end of June and for iPhones later this year. Microsoft also mentioned that the updated Xbox Music app for Android and iPhone will be available in late June or July with the beta label in tow to stream OneDrive music content. Google's own personal assistant, Google Now, is available for Android and iOS devices, but not Windows Phone. Apple's Siri is only available to iOS.


Apple Promotes Jony Ive to Chief Design Officer

Yesterday, 7:40 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple has promoted Jony Ive, the company's design guru, to the newly created Chief Design Officer position. Ive's previous title was Senior Vice President of Design. Ive is responsible for the hardware design of some of Apple's most iconic products, including the iPod, iMac, and iPhone. Ive was put in charge of iOS user interface design, too, in early 2013, and oversaw the platform's redesign later that year in iOS 7. The change "frees [Ive] up from some of the administrative and management work," according to a profile published by The Telegraph. Ive will remain responsible for overseeing all of Apple's design moving forward, but will focus on "new ideas and future initiatives," said Apple. Effective July 1, Ive will hand over the day-to-day managerial duties regarding industrial design and user interface design to Richard Howarth and Alan Dye, respectively. Both Howarth and Dye are long-time Apple employees and the three have worked together for many years.


Samsung Debuts Iron Man Edition of Galaxy S6 Edge

Yesterday, 7:20 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung today unveiled an Iron Man-themed version of the Galaxy S6 Edge smartphone. The special edition handset features a red-and-gold design with Iron Man wallpapers and an etched Iron Man helmet on the back surface. The Iron Man edition ships with a wireless charging pad meant to look like an arc reactor from the Iron Man movies. Otherwise, the phone has all the same features as the standard S6 Edge. Galaxy S6 Edge Iron Man Limited Edition will be sold in Korea, China, and Japan. There's no world on U.S. availability for the handset.


Sony Xperia Z3+ Is a Z4 for the Rest of the World

Yesterday, 7:12 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sony today announced the Xperia Z3+, which is essentially a global version of the Z4. Sony debuted the Z4, limited to Japan, earlier this year. The Z3+ features a glass and metal design that is water and dust proof, and measures 6.9mm thick. The Z3+ has a 5.2-inch full HD Triluminos display and runs a 64-bit, octa-core Snapdragon 810 processor with 3 GB of memory, 32 GB of storage, and Adreno 430 graphics. The Z3+ supports memory cards up to 128 GB. The main camera relies on Sony's 20.7-megapixel Exmor RS sensor, while the front camera uses a 5.1-megapixel Exmor sensor with shake correction. The main camera can record video up to 4K, while the front camera can record 1080p HD. The Z3+ offers a range of connectivity options, including dual-band WiFi, Bluetooth 4.1, NFC, and support for LTE 4G networks. The battery has a maximum capacity of 2,930mAh, but Sony says it is good for two days of battery life. The device runs Android 5.0 Lollipop and will feature Sony's apps and user interface overlay. Sony said it will begin to sell the Xperia Z4 in Japan around the middle of the year, but didn't say when the Z3+ might reach the rest of the world. U.S.-based network operators have yet to voice support for the Z3+. T-Mobile was the only carrier to sell the Xperia Z3.


BlackBerry Cutting More Jobs, Including Device Team

Saturday, 8:27 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

BlackBerry announced another round of job cuts on Friday, this time affecting those behind making the company's smartphones and mobile applications. BlackBerry did not say how many employees will lose their jobs, nor in which facilities, but said the cuts will reach its operations across the globe. In April BlackBerry said it might close a facility in Sweden, which was responsible for designing BlackBerry's handsets. It's not clear if this new round of layoffs includes that facility, or if those cuts already took place. The company has cut costs aggressively over the last 18 months as it focuses on improving the margins of its mobile device management business. "Our intention is to reallocate resources in ways that will best enable us to capitalize on growth opportunities while driving toward sustainable profitability across all facets of our business," said BlackBerry in a statement. Despite the cuts, BlackBerry said it is still committed to its device business. The company most recently released the BlackBerry Leap, a low-cost touchscreen smartphone.


Sprint to Launch LG G4 On June 5

May 22, 2015, 8:39 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated May 22, 2015, 8:39 AM

Sprint today announced launch details regarding the LG G4 smartphone, which will be available in stores and online beginning June 5. Sprint is offering a wide range of purchasing options for the phone. First, via the Sprint Lease the G4 will be available for $0 followed by $18 per month for 24 months. At the end of the lease, customers can turn the G4 in for another handset, or buyout the remaining value of the lease. Alternately, customers can use Sprint Easy Pay to finance the device over 24 months. Sprint Easy Pay doesn't require a down payment, but costs $25 per month for 24 months. Sprint will also sell the G4 for $199.99 with a standard two-year contract, or for the full retail price of $599.99 without a contract. Sprint plans to offer the plastic gray back plate or the black leather back plate. The phone has a 5.5-inch quad HD screen, Snapdragon 808 processor, and a 16-megapixel camera. Customers who preorder may receive a second 3,000mAh battery with charging cradle and a 32GB memory card for free. Preorders begin today.


Google Delivering Project Fi Invites Slowly

May 22, 2015, 6:58 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google's Project Fi, its WiFi-and-cellular wireless offering, is moving forward slowly. Google emailed those who signed up for the project and said it won't be able to accommodate everyones' requests for months. "Over the past few weeks, we've been happy to bring the first customers onto Project Fi and the initial feedback has been very positive," said Google in the email. "We're sending invites as quickly as we can, while ensuring a high-quality experience. Given the number of requests we've received, we currently estimate that it will take until mid-summer to get to everyone." Google concluded by saying it will provide a way for people to check the status of their invites in a few weeks. Project Fi requires the Nexus 6 handset and runs on WiFi and the cellular networks of Sprint and T-Mobile, adjusting on the fly in response to the best possible connection. The service is priced at $10 per gigabyte, and Google will refund customers for the unused portion of their data allotment each month.

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AT&T Taps East Kentucky Network for 700MHz Licenses

May 21, 2015, 2:14 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T has filed paperwork with the FCC hoping to gain permission to purchase three Lower 700MHz C Block licenses from East Kentucky Network. The licenses in question cover 20 counties in three Cellular Market Areas across regions of Kentucky, Ohio, and West Virginia. Because all the licenses fall below the 1GHz threshold, the FCC will used its "enhanced factor" yardstick to measure the transactions. The FCC says AT&T stands to hold 113 to 145MHz of spectrum in total, and 43 to 55MHz of below-1-GHz spectrum, in these three CMAs. The FCC has accepted AT&T's initial batch of paperwork and set a schedule to oversee the transaction. Small spectrum purchases and exchanges are common between license holders.


HTC Posts Its Email App to the Play Store

May 21, 2015, 1:04 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

HTC recently made the HTC Mail application available as a stand-alone app in the Google Play Store. By separating the app from its Sense user interface, HTC is now able to update the app with new features and resolve bugs more efficiently. Previously, such updates were limited to distribution with full OS rewrites. The version available today in the Play Store doesn't add any new features over what's available to devices running the latest version of Sense. HTC Mail is free to download.


RadioShack Finalizes Sale of Name and Customer Data

May 21, 2015, 7:07 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

A Delaware bankruptcy judge approved the sale of RadioShack's name and certain customer data to an affiliate of Standard General for $26.2 million. One of the key issues resolved over the last seven days concerned AT&T and Apple customer data. AT&T, Apple, and several state attorneys general disapproved of the sale of the customer data, and argued RadioShack had agreed to never sell it. Under the terms of the agreement, Standard General agreed to limit its own customers to email data generated over the last two years, as well as to only provide access to seven of 170 fields of data that RadioShack kept on its customers. The sale gives Standard General access to 67 million names and email addresses, rather than the full list of 117 million. Earlier this year Standard General purchased 1,734 RadioShack stores, which it plans to operate in cooperation with Sprint.


Sprint Partners Making Headway in Rural LTE Push

May 21, 2015, 6:56 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint says 16 of the 30 companies who've agreed to participate in its Rural Roaming Preferred Provider program have launched their LTE networks. The Rural Roaming Preferred Provider program is similar to Verizon Wireless' LTE in Rural America initiative. Both programs lease spectrum to small, regional providers who build out coverage in their home market areas. Under the terms of the agreement, the larger carriers' customers can roam onto the regional LTE network and vice versa. The idea is to bring coverage to areas where the larger operators might not necessarily like to commit resources to build out their own network. Sprint would not say which of its partners have launched their LTE networks. Some of the partners include SouthernLINC Wireless, nTelos Wireless, C Spire Wireless, Phoenix Wireless, Bluegrass Cellular, Pine Belt Wireless, Pioneer Cellular, and United Wireless. "Our partners use a variety of LTE bands, including bands 4, 5, 12 and 25," said Sprint's Adrienne Norton. "We're continuing to work with our device OEMs to enable additional LTE bands to expand coverage for our domestic and international roamers." Sprint's LTE footprint covers about 280 million POPs. T-Mobile, which recently disclosed that it too has leased spectrum to regional operators, also covers about 280 million POPs. AT&T and Verizon Wireless both claim to cover about 308 million POPs.


Deutsche Telekom Will Consider 'Any Partner' for T-Mobile

May 21, 2015, 6:44 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Deutsche Telekom executives today indicated they are still weighing the best path forward for T-Mobile US, especially when it comes to improving profitability. "It is our duty to go on improving the return on T-Mobile US," said CEO Tim Hoettges. "If we find a partner who will help us to do so, we will obviously consider it." Deutsche Telekom owns 66% of T-Mobile US and last year attempted sell the company to Japan's SoftBank. T-Mobile has gained more than 8 million customers in the last year, but has done so at considerable expense. Deutsche Telekom said it is under no pressure to sell T-Mobile, but the German company is making it clear that it is open to suggestions.


AT&T Hopes to Score Spectrum from Cellular Properties

May 20, 2015, 3:55 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated May 20, 2015, 5:05 PM

AT&T recently filed paperwork with the FCC seeking permission to buy some Cellular A Block and microwave point-to-point spectrum from Cellular Properties Inc. The spectrum in question covers 11 counties and parts of two Cellular Market Areas in Illinois. Further, CPI's assets and customers would be transferred to AT&T. Because the Cellular A Block spectrum falls under the 1GHz threshold, the FCC will use the "enhanced factor" litmus test in examining the request. The FCC says post-transaction AT&T would hold 45MHz of the available 134MHz low-band spectrum in the named CMAs. Low-band spectrum is valued more than mid- or high-band spectrum and requires extra consideration. The FCC has accepted AT&T's initial filing and slapped a protective order on it to keep some portions of the proceedings secret. AT&T contends the deal will help improve its own network in the area while also opening up its services to CPI's existing customers. A dollar value on the transaction was not disclosed.


Cyanogen Introduces Platform SDK

May 20, 2015, 3:30 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Cyanogen today announced the Cyanogen Platform SDK, a new tool meant to make developing for Cyanogen easier. Cyanogen describes the Platform SDK as an open-source tool that lets developers use existing APIs within CyanogenMod's framework or to create their own APIs for the greater community. Cyanogen believes approaching its platform from an SDK/API perspective will be less daunting than approaching the platform as a whole. The organization is offering an alpha-level SDK with an introductory API for the Quick Settings Tile. Cyanogen hopes developers will take a look and eventually contribute to its platform. Cyanogen is based on Google's Android operating system, but the organization has broken away from Google's version in favor of its own. Earlier this year Cyanogen partnered with Microsoft and will include Microsoft's productivity apps in its operating system. Cyanogen has lots of documentation ready for developers and looking forward to community submissions to the Cyanogen Platform SDK.


T-Mobile Serving Up Variety of Memorial Day Promos

May 20, 2015, 12:34 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today announced a handful of device and service promotions that will become available over the holiday weekend. To start, T-Mobile is offering a free memory upgrade to buyers of the Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge. From May 23 through May 25, the 64 GB model will cost the same as the 32 GB model. Customers who buy the 32 GB will receive a $50 Visa gift card. Following their appearance on T-Mobile's web site earlier this month, the company shared pricing details for the LG Stylo and Leon. The Stylo will cost $289.92 at full retail or $12.08 per month and the Leon will cost $149.76 at full retail or $6.24 per month. T-Mobile Prepaid customers can score the Leon for free with an online rebate. T-Mobile-owned MetroPCS will also sell the Stylo and Leon for $199 and $49, respectively, after online rebates. Customers who switch to MetroPCS from a competing carrier will receive a free LG Leon or $50 toward the phone of their choice. Last, MetroPCS is recirculating the 4x100 promotion. Customers can get four lines with unlimited talk, text, and 2 GB of data per line for a total of $100.


Spotify Finesses Auto Playlist Generation, Adds Video

May 20, 2015, 10:45 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated May 20, 2015, 10:49 AM

Spotify today introduced new features to its streaming music service on the desktop and on mobile devices. The biggest change involves how people discover music and create playlists. A feature called Spotify Now purports to know what listeners want to hear at different times of the day and can automatically generate playlists for different activities, such as commuting, working, and relaxing. The service is also adding video content, which will come from a variety of sources, such as Comedy Central, Vice, ESPN, NBC, Adult Swim, TED, and others. Much of the video content will focus on music and will be short-form clips rather than long shows or episodes. The company is also targeting runners with new music controls that make it easier to select and control playlists while exercising. Spotify is placing an emphasis on discovering the songs that match tempo to the runner's pace. Spotify uses on-device sensors to determine pace and can do so very quickly. The company thinks this can help runners improve their workouts. Spotify has apps for Android, iOS, and Windows Phone. The new apps will reach consumers in the U.S., the U.K., Germany, and Sweden today, with other regions following over time.

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Some AT&T Partners to Cease Selling Contracts

May 19, 2015, 4:21 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated May 19, 2015, 4:27 PM

AT&T today said some of its retailer partners are going to offer only AT&T Next plans beginning June 1. These retailers, like Walmart, may have national footprints, but the change is only being made in some locations that AT&T would not name. AT&T itself will continue to offer contracts at company-owned stores, as well as via its web site, telesales, and most other third-party retailers. "We regularly consider any number of offers that might appeal to our customers," said an AT&T spokesperson to Phone Scoop, "but [we] can share that two year contracts remain a part of our portfolio of offerings." AT&T said it believes customers prefer to have choice. While many of its customers are moving to AT&T Next plans -- which break up device payments over time -- some of its customers still want subsidized handsets and don't mind signing contracts to get them. The change being made by some of AT&T's retail partners does not represent a change in strategy for AT&T. AT&T Next plans are the carrier's response to T-Mobile's Simple Choice plans, which forgo contracts and also break up device payments over time. Sprint and Verizon have their own device payment plans, too. The device payment plans have become popular with consumers because they don't require contracts and often allow people to upgrade to new phones at a faster rate.


ZTE Fanfare Lands On Cricket

May 19, 2015, 3:13 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Cricket Wireless recently added the ZTE Fanfare to its lineup of inexpensive handsets. The Fanfare has a 4.5-inch screen with 854 x 480 pixels. It is protected by Dragontail glass. The Fanfare is powered by a 1.2 GHz dual-core Snapdragon 200 processor and comes with 1 GB of RAM and 4 GB of ROM. The Fanfare's main camera has a 5-megapixel sensor and can capture 720p HD video, and the user-facing camera has a VGA sensor. A 2,000mAh battery keeps the Fanfare running. The device has Google's Android 4.4 KitKat on board. Walmart is selling the ZTE Fanfare for Cricket Wireless. It is priced at $69.88.


Google Brings Tweets Back to Search

May 19, 2015, 1:11 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today announced that it is adding tweets to search results. Tweets will now appear alongside standard results when users search from Google.com, from the Google app on Android and iOS devices, or from any mobile browser. Google believes bringing tweets to search results is a good way for people to read about things as they unfold. Google put tweets in search results several years ago but eventually removed them. For now this feature is limited to English. Google said it plans to add more languages over time.


Instagram's Layout App Reaches Android

May 19, 2015, 12:40 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Instagram today made its Layout application available to the Android platform. Available to the iPhone since March, Layout makes it easier to assemble collages through custom layouts, easy access to photos containing people, and a handful of tools such as pinch-to-zoom and other effects. Layout also features a photo booth function that lets users take pictures on the spot and create instant collages in the moment. Layout for Android is free to download from the Google Play Store. Instagram also updated its main app for Android with a new feature called Structure. According to Instagram, Structure helps bring out details and textures in photos. This feature will reach the iPhone soon. Instagram for Android is also free to download from the Play Store.

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Apple Delivers First Update to the Apple Watch

May 19, 2015, 12:10 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple today made available Watch OS 1.0.1, the first system update for the wearable since its release in April. Apple focused on ridding the Watch of bugs and made a number of performance improvements. For example, Siri should function more consistently and the Watch is better at measuring standing activity. The Watch can now calculate calories for indoor cycling and rowing, as well as measure distances and paces during outdoor walk and run workouts. Watch OS 1.0.1 makes tweaks to accessibility and adds support for new emoji. Last, the Watch now speaks, Brazilian Portuguese, Danis, Dutch, Swedish, Russian, Thai, and Turkish. The update must be installed through the companion iPhone.

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Microsoft Releases New Office Apps for Android Smartphones

May 19, 2015, 11:52 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Microsoft today released a preview version of Office for Android smartphones. The latest renditions of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint closely match those available to the iPhone. Microsoft said it made a lot of improvements to the apps based on feedback for the Android tablet version of Office. The apps are designed to be finger friendly and support many of the same features found on the full desktop versions. Users can create, open, edit, and save files to OneDrive, OneDrive for Business, SharePoint, Dropbox, Google Drive, and Box. Microsoft's Office apps for Android are free to download from the Play Store, but Microsoft is requiring people to join the Office for Android Community in order to access them.


MixRadio Expands to Android and iOS

May 19, 2015, 11:40 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

MixRadio today made its customized radio service available to Android and iOS devices for the first time. Microsoft acquired MixRadio when it purchased Nokia's handset business, but later divested it to a messaging company called Line. Due to its relationship with Nokia and Microsoft, MixRadio has been exclusive to Windows Phones until today. The new Android and iOS apps, which are available from the Play Store and iTunes, include thousands of free, curated radio stations similar to how Pandora operates. The service lets users create and listen to personalized radio stations, and can be cached on devices for offline playback. The app is supported by ads, but MixRadio may launch an ad-free version later this year. It is available in 31 countries, including the U.S. In addition to announcing the new apps, MixRadio said it has partnered with HTC to provide music-related news stories for HTC's BlinkFeed application.


Use Samsung Flow to Move Tasks Between Devices

May 19, 2015, 10:49 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung and Think Tank today introduced a beta app called Flow, which is meant to help people transition tasks from one Samsung device to another. It is similar in concept to Apple's Continuity feature for iOS and Mac hardware. Flow offers Samsung smartphone owners two distinct use-cases: transfer an activity or defer an activity. With transfer, people can work on a particular activity and then move it to another device and pick up right where they left off. For example, users can listen to clips on Soundcloud on their smartphone and then transfer the activity to their tablet without missing a beat. The deferring feature lets people defer an incoming activity request on one device if, for example, it's not the right device for that particular task. They can then pick up the activity on whichever other device they prefer when they're ready. According to Samsung, Flow supports existing applications through Android's share mechanism. Samsung expects to add more features, including notify, mirror, and divide, to Flow over time. For the moment, Flow is limited to the Galaxy S5, S6, and S6 Edge; Galaxy Alpha; Galaxy Note 4 and Note Edge; and the Galaxy Tab S. The beta app is free to download from the Google Play Store.


Verizon Expands XLTE to 6 More Markets

May 19, 2015, 9:11 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless today marked the one-year anniversary of its XLTE service by expanding coverage to six additional markets. XLTE is now available in Marshalltown, Iowa; Madisonville and Owensboro, Ky.; Traverse City, Mich.; Meridian, Miss.; and Martinsville, Va. Verizon's XLTE coverage is available in more than 400 markets. It combines Verizon's 700MHz and AWS spectrum to boost capacity of its LTE 4G network. Verizon says it has more than 40 XLTE-capable devices, including the Apple iPhone 6 and Samsung Galaxy S6.


YotaPhone Launches Indiegogo Campaign for YotaPhone 2

May 19, 2015, 8:12 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

YotaPhone today initiated an Indiegogo campaign for the YotaPhone 2. The company said earlier this year it intended to bring the YotaPhone 2 to certain markets via the crowd-funding site, and today it made good on its word. Early backers can score the YotaPhone 2 for $500, though the number of handsets available at that price is limited to 100. Most of the available stock costs $550. Yotaphone said it will ship the YotaPhone 2 to Indiegogo investors in early August, which is "just ahead of [our] general launch in North America." The YotaPhone 2 is unique because it has two screens: a standard display on the front and an e-ink display on the back to help save battery life.


LG Shows Off the G4c, A Smaller, Less-Expensive G4

May 19, 2015, 7:21 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

LG today announced the G4c smartphone, a smaller and less-costly version of the G4 handset. The G4c has a 5.0-inch screen at 720p HD and runs a quad-core Snapdragon 410 processor at 1.4 GHz with 1 GB of RAM. The phone has an 8-megapixel main camera and a 5-megapixel user-facing camera; 2,450mAh battery; and a handful of radios, including LTE 4G, WiFi, Bluetooth 4.1, NFC, GPS, and GLONASS. The LG G4c runs Android 5.0 Lollipop and includes LG software functions, such as Knock On, Knock Code, Quick Memo, and QSlide apps. LG said the G4c will reach key markets in the weeks ahead. LG also made the G4 Stylus more official. The G4 Stylus is being sold by carriers in the U.S. as the Stylo.


Hands-On: Asus Zenfone 2

May 18, 2015, 2:27 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Asus is diving back into the U.S. market with the Zenfone 2, its flagship device for the year. The phone boasts an impressive spec sheet, of that there's no doubt. Do specs make for a good phone? Read on for Phone Scoop's first impressions.

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Asus Zenfone 2 Goes On Sale May 19 for $299

May 18, 2015, 12:44 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated May 18, 2015, 12:57 PM

Asus today said it will sell its 2015 flagship smartphone, the Zenfone 2, in the U.S. beginning May 19. Asus first revealed the Zenfone 2 at CES in January. The device has a 5.5-inch full HD screen and relies on a 64-bit Intel processor. The Intel Atom Z3580 chip has four cores clocked at 2.3 GHz, and is paired with a 533 MHz GPU, and 4 GB of dual-channel RAM. The chip includes integrated Cat 4 LTE-Advanced with Carrier Aggregation for compatibility with today's fastest 4G networks. The Zenfone 2 also includes a 13-megapixel camera with an aperture of f/2.0, Toshiba sensor, Super HDR, and dual-tone LED flash. Asus says the fast-charging mode can power the 3,000mAh battery to 60% capacity in 39 minutes. The device runs Android 5.0 Lollipop with Asus' ZenUI. It comes with a range of interchangeable rear covers, which Asus says consumers can use to personalize their handset. Asus is offering 100 GB of Google Drive storage to buyers of the device. The phone costs $299. (A slower version of the phone with 1.8 GHz processor and 2 GB of RAM costs $199.) Asus plans to sell the device unlocked via Amazon.com, Newegg, Groupon, and B&H photo. It is compatible with AT&T's network.


HTC Says 'Mini' Phones Still a Possibility

May 18, 2015, 12:01 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated May 18, 2015, 12:08 PM

HTC today clarified statements made regarding its plans for smaller -- or "mini" -- versions of its flagship phones. A report, quoting an HTC executive, suggested that HTC did not plan to bring any more smaller-stature phones, such as the One mini 2, to market. HTC President of North Asia Jack Tong did say the industry is moving toward phones with screens larger than 5 inches. Tong "did not say HTC is not planning any more mini versions of its phones," said HTC spokesperson Jeff Gordon in an email to Phone Scoop. "To be clear, I'm not confirming HTC is coming out with an HTC One M9 mini," tempered Gordon, "only that Jack Tong didn't say what some press are attributing to him." In 2013 HTC followed up its One M7 flagship with a smaller and lower-spec'd mini variant. The company did the same thing in 2014 with the M8, but has yet to reveal any such plans for the M9.

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