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printed July 24, 2017
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Samsung Makes the Galaxy J7 and Galaxy J3 Available Unlocked

Today, 3:06 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung today added the Galaxy J7 and Galaxy J3 to its list of unlocked smartphones. The two inexpensive handsets will be available to purchase directly from Samsung's web site as well as select retailers starting July 28. The J7 (pictured) is the larger, costlier of the two with a 5.5-inch 720p HD screen and $220 price tag. It also has a 3,300mAh battery, 8-megapixel main camera, and 5-megapixel front camera with flash. The smaller J3 has a 5-inch 720p HD display and a $150 price point. The J3 also has a 2,600mAh battery, 5-megapixel main camera, and 2-megapixel front camera. Both phones support expandable memory cards, support U.S. 3G/4G networks, and run Android 7 Nougat. They have been available from several U.S. carriers (AT&T/Cricket, T-Mobile/MetroPCS) for several months.


Google Drops Android O Release Candidate

Today, 1:02 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today made Android O Developer Preview 4 available to application developers and said this is the final preview before Google releases Android O to consumers later this year. This build contains the final user interface system behaviors, the latest bug fixes and optimizations, and the final set of APIs. Google says along with the penultimate version of Android O, it is offering developers the stable version of the Android 26.0.0 Support Library along with incremental updates to the SDK, Android Emulator, and other developer tools. Among the new tools is a way for developers to test their applications for Android O preparedness. Those who have enrolled their devices in the Android Beta Program should receive Developer Preview 4 over the air in the next few days. Google has already made the system images available for those who prefer to manually install updates. This new preview can be installed on the Nexus 6p and 5x, Pixel, Pixel XL, and Pixel C, and the Nexus Player. Some of the core features of Android O include picture-in-picture, notification dots, widget picker, new emoji, and revamped settings tools. Google said the final version is expected to arrive later this summer. Google still has not revealed what dessert the "O" will be.


Apple Pushes Fourth Round of Developer Betas

Today, 12:11 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple today seeded the fourth beta of iOS 11 to application developers. This build is not meant for public beta testers, though Apple typically offers new public betas shortly after it releases developer code. In this beta, Apple continues to refine iOS 11 and add features based on developer feedback. The company did not call out any specific changes concerning iOS 11 Beta 4. The final release of iOS 11 should reach all users this fall. iOS 11 targets the iPad more than the iPhone, but both platforms gain expanded Control Center tools, a refreshed App Store, new camera features, Siri improvements, as well as updates to iMessage, the Keyboard, files, and more. Apple today also released new beta builds of watchOS, tvOS 11, macOS High Sierra 10.13, and Xcode 9.


T-Mobile Offering Scam Protection to MetroPCS Subscribers

Today, 8:11 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today said it is extending the same scam-stopping tool its postpaid customers have enjoyed since April to its prepaid MetroPCS customers beginning July 25. T-Mobile introduced the network-based tool earlier this year to help identify and block potential scam calls. T-Mobile uses it to analyze every call that reaches the T-Mobile network against a global database of known scammers. If the number matches that of a scammer, T-Mobile will identify the call as a potential scam when it rings the subscriber's phone. Subscribers can then choose to ignore the call. This feature is called Scam ID and will be activated for all MetroPCS customers automatically. T-Mobile is also offering the ability for MetroPCS customers to block scam calls entirely. Subscribing to the Scam Block tool will prevent suspected scam calls from ringing even MetroPCS phones. T-Mobile says it has learned a lot about scammers since activating the tool earlier this year. For example, many scammers place calls during regular business hours between 8am and 5pm. T-Mobile updates its database of known and suspected scammers constantly and says alerting customers to scam calls helps prevent fraud. Both Scam ID and Scam Block are free. T-Mobile originally said Scam ID and Scam Block would reach MetroPCS customers during the spring.


OnePlus Says 8 GB Version of OnePlus 5 Available for Immediate Shipping

Today, 7:29 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Today, 10:28 AM

OnePlus today said the high-end variant of its OnePlus 5 smartphone is now more widely available to U.S. buyers. Specifically, the OnePlus 5 Midnight Black with 8 GB of RAM and 128 GB of storage will now ship as soon as consumers place order. OnePlus initially launched this variant in limited supplies. This high-end model costs $539. The OnePlus 5 has a 5.5-inch full HD screen, Snapdragon 835 processor, dual cameras, 3,000mAh battery with rapid charging, and broad support for worldwide LTE bands. It ships with OxygenOS, which is based on Android 7 Nougat.


LG Earmarks the Q8 for Europe and Asia

Today, 7:06 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

LG today provided more details about the Q8 smartphone. The handset, which appeared online last week, targets one-handed use and easy portability. LG's intent was to take the high-end features found on the prosumer V20 and put them in a smaller, more affordable package. The Q8 boasts a metal body with a 5.2-inch quad HD display and second screen for alerts and other action items. Other features include a Snapdragon 820 processor with 4 GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage, 3,000mAh battery, stereo headphone jack and USB-C. LG stepped up the audio with a Hi-Fi Quad DAC from ESS Technology, which LG says can cut down white noise by up to 50%. Moreover, the HD Audio Recorder captures studio-quality audio via 24-bit / 192 kHz in lossless FLAC format. Like the V20, the Q8 has a dual-camera configuration and rear-mounted fingerprint reader. The main camera has a 13-megapixel sensor with optical image stabilization, while the secondary shooter has an 8-megapixel sensor and a wide-angle lens. The cameras are augmented by a dual LED flash. The front camera has a wide-angle, 5-megapixel sensor. Other specs include Bluetooth 4.2, GPS, WiFi, LTE 4G, and an IP67 rating for protection against water ingress. The LG Q8 will be sold in Europe beginning this week, with Asia to follow. It appears the phone will not be made available in North America.


Verizon's Video Optimization Tests Have Customers Crying Foul

Friday, 12:43 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Friday, 12:47 PM

Verizon Wireless is throttling the speeds of Netflix and YouTube, according to customer complaints voiced on Reddit. Verizon's customers claim they are seeing Netflix and YouTube streams capped at 10Mbps, and some suggest the capped speeds are leading to degraded video quality. The issue is impacting customers who have limited and unlimited data plans. When asked for comment, Verizon told Ars Technica, "We've been doing network testing over the past few days to optimize the performance of video applications on our network. The testing should be completed shortly. The customer video experience was not affected." Verizon's statement doesn't necessarily reflect what its customers say is going on. If Verizon is indeed throttling the speeds of video apps, doing say may be a violation of the FCC's net neutrality rules that expressly forbid internet providers from throttling content.


Andy Rubin's Essential Phone to Arrive In 'A Few Weeks'

Friday, 10:24 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Andy Rubin today provided an update concerning the expected arrival of his new company's Essential PH-1 smartphone. "We’ve been hard at work getting everything ready and the good news is that we’re now going through certification and testing with multiple U.S. and international carriers," said Rubin in an email to supporters. "You might be getting impatient to get your hands on your new Essential Phone (and I’m also impatient to get it to you!) but rest assured that you will have a device in your hands in a few weeks." Rubin said his team is "sweating the details and working long hours to get this device shipped." Rubin had previously committed to shipping the phone by the end of June. It now appears the device will arrive in August. The Essential PH-1 has a unique, magnet-based system for accepting modular attachments, such as a 360-degree camera, on the back panel. It includes a 5.7-inch quad HD screen with curved corners, Snapdragon 835 processor, and dual rear cameras. It will run a near-stock version of Android 7 Nougat and ship completely devoid of brand names or logos. Essential will sell the PH-1 directly to consumers, though Sprint also plans to carry the phone. It costs $699.


T-Mobile Clearing Out iPhone 7 Inventory

Friday, 8:16 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today introduced a limited-time offer to save big bucks on the Apple iPhone 7. The Uncarrier will give a $300 credit to those who trade in an iPhone 6, 6 Plus, 6s, or 6s Plus for an iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus. Trade-ins must be owned outright, with no remaining payments or commitments. T-mobile says the value of the trade-in can be applied to the purchase of a new iPhone 7 immediately, with the remainder of the $300 offer to arrive later in the form of a prepaid MasterCard. The offer requires people to finance the new iPhone on an installment plan with a T-Mobile service agreement. Sales tax is due on the full price of the new handset at the point of purchase. T-Mobile says the offer can be combined with its iPhone memory upgrade program, which knocks $100 off the price of the 256 GB iPhone for a potential total savings of $400. The balance of the $300 offer will arrive up to 8 weeks after T-Mobile customers sign up for the promotion on T-Mobile's web site. The offer cannot be combined with T-Mobile's Carrier Freedom program.


LG Q8 Appears to Be Smaller Variant of the V20

Friday, 7:17 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

LG's Italian web site recently provided details about an unannounced handset called the Q8. The Q8 appears to be a less-expensive, smaller version of the LG V20. The Q8 does not carryover the 2:1 aspect ratio or FullVision display of the new Q series, such as the Q6, which was announced earlier this month. Instead, the Q8 boasts a metal body with a 5.2-inch quad HD display and second screen for alerts and other action items. Other features include a Snapdragon 820 processor with 4 GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage, 3,000mAh battery, stereo headphone jack and USB-C. Like the V20, the Q8 has a dual-camera configuration and rear-mounted fingerprint reader. The main camera has a 13-megapixel sensor with 78-degree lens at f/1.8 and optical image stabilization, while the secondary shooter has an 8-megapixel sensor with 135-degree lens at f/2.4 for wide-angle shots. Both sensors can take advantage of the dual LED flash. The front camera has a wide-angle, 5-megapixel sensor. Other specs include Bluetooth 4.2, GPS, WiFi, LTE 4G, and an IP67 rating for protection against water ingress. The LG Q8 will be sold in European markets soon. LG's U.S. press team would not comment on the phone's potential availability in North America.


Cricket Offering 2 Lines of Unlimited Service for $80

Thursday, 4:04 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Cricket Wireless today annouced new service and handset promotions meant to entice customers to sign up for the prepaid carrier. To start, Cricket is offering new and existing customers two lines of unlimited service for $80 per month. That includes unlimited mobile data, messaging, and voice calls. Cricket caps data speeds at 3 Mbps, and will throttle unlimited customers who exceed 22 GB of data per billing period. In addition to the new service promo, Cricket has a number of deals on smartphones. For example, the Alcatel PulseMix is $80 with a new activation, or just $30 with a port-in. Similarly, the LG x charge is $130 with a new activation or just $100 with a port-in. Other phones with available discounts include the ZTE Sonata 3 and Blade X Max; LG Fortune, Harmony, and Stylo 3; and the Samsung Galaxy Amp 2. Cricket said the promos are available for a limited time.


Alexa Arrives In Amazon's Android App

Thursday, 2:44 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Amazon is making Alexa, its artificial intelligence, available to the Android mobile shopping application beginning this week. Any Android device with the Amazon app aboard will have access to Alexa, allowing people to search for and buy goods simply by asking Alexa. Amazon brought this functionality to the iOS Amazon shopping app earlier this year. Amazon says Android users can search for paper towels or reorder batteries and Alexa will do those things within the confines of the Amazon app. The app also lets people listen to music and play Kindle books, ask basic questions, add skills, access Smart Home features, and check the news, weather, and traffic via voice requests. The app works with Android users' Amazon accounts and subscriptions to services such as Amazon Prime. Android device owned can access Alexa by tapping a microphone built into the app. Separate Alexa-powered devices, such as the Amazon Echo, are not required. The Amazon mobile shopping app for Android is free to download from the Google Play Store.


Clips, Apple's Video Creation App, Gains Disney Characters

Thursday, 12:37 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple today updated its Clips mobile video application with characters from Disney movies and new graphic overlays and posters. Apple says several classic Disney characters, such as Mickey, Minnie, Donald and Daisy, can be added to videos complete with animations. A handful of Pixar characters are available, too, such as Wooody and Jessie from "Toy Story" and Fear and Sadness from "Inside Out." Along with the characters, new Disney-themed posters and backgrounds are available to enhance videos. Beyond the Disney content, Clips gains 10 new Apple-designed graphics, backgrounds, and animated text options so people can create more expressive and unique videos. Clips is available to more iPhones and iPads. It is free to download from the iTunes App Store.


YouTube TV Reaches 10 More Markets

Thursday, 12:25 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today made good on its promise to expand the reach of YouTube TV to more markets. YouTube TV is now available in the 10 markets it announced last month, which include Dallas-Fort Worth, Washington, D.C., Houston, Atlanta, Phoenix, Detroit, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Miami-Fort Lauderdale, Orlando-Daytona Beach-Melbourne, and Charlotte. YouTube TV costs $35 per month. The service includes live TV streaming of local channels, unlimited DVR use, and up to six individual user profiles per account. The service has expanded the selection of content, too, which now stands at about 50 channels. The service initially launched earlier this year in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, Philadelphia, and the San Francisco Bay Area. YouTube TV is available on smartphones, tablets, PCs, and select television sets. It can be cast from handsets to set-top-box devices such as Apple TV and Chromecast.

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Google Play Protect Now Securing Android Devices

Thursday, 12:17 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Play Protect, a security tool Google announced earlier this year, has made its way to many of today's Android smartphones. Play Protect is a set of features that Google created to keep Android phones safe from malware and other malicious applications. For example, Play Protect scans apps before they are published to the Play Store to ensure they are secure. The tool then continuously scans the apps installed on individual Android devices for potential security problems. The service will alert users to risky apps. Google Play Protect encompasses the Find My Device tool, as well, which allows people to remotely locate, lock, or erase their device. Last, Play Protect secures the Chrome browser on many Android handsets and will warn and/or protect against dangerous web sites. Google Play Protect is available to devices running Play Services 11, and should already have been installed automatically on the majority of Android smartphones. It is accessible via the Google account settings.


Google's Motion Stills App Now Available to Android Phones

Thursday, 10:05 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today made its Motion Stills GIF-making application available to Android handsets for the first time. The app, first released last year, has until now been reserved for the iPhone. It was initially meant to help iPhone owners make shareable GIFs of their Live Photos. The Android version of Motion Stills takes a different approach. Google says the app includes its own recording experience to instantly capture and transform video into short clips that are easy to watch and share. People can capture 3-second clips with a simple tap and turn them into looping GIFs. Motion Stills for Android also includes a tool called Fast Forward, which accelerates longer recordings into shorter time-lapse bursts. Fast Forward can compress up to 1 minute of video and speed it up between 1x and 8x. Users can also string together a bunch of Motion Stills to create short movies. The app automatically stabilizes recordings, and the improved algorithm helps prevent pocket shots. Google says its new recording process can smooth out each frame immediately and produce shake-free GIFs near instantly. People can share the Motion Stills via text, email, and social networks. Motion Stills for Android is free to download from the Play Store.


OnePlus Pushing 911 Reboot Fix to OnePlus 5

Thursday, 7:25 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

OnePlus has created a patch for a bug that impacted the OnePlus 5 handset's ability to call 911. Some OnePlus 5 owners reported that calling 911 forced their handset to reboot, thus ending the in-progress 911 call. This has obvious safety implications. OnePlus worked directly with those impacted by the issue to develop a software fix to resolve the problem. "We have begun rolling out the software update. Timing may vary by region. We encourage OnePlus 5 users to download the update. If users haven't received a notification, check for the update by going to 'Settings' > 'System Updates'," said the company in a post to user forums. The OnePlus 5, the company's flagship handset, has been on sale since last month.


T-Mobile Says 600 MHz Service Kicks Off In August

Jul 19, 2017, 3:34 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Jul 19, 2017, 4:25 PM

T-Mobile today said it plans to begin offering service through its 600 MHz spectrum next month. The company revealed the news in its second quarter earnings statement. T-Mobile claims it will have 10 MHz of 600 MHz spectrum with LTE service blanketing 1.2 million square miles by the end of the year, with devices from LG and Samsung on deck to take advantage of the airwaves. T-Mobile says it plans to deploy 5G service on its 600 MHz spectrum holdings in the 2019/2020 timeframe. T-Mobile claims its 700 MHz deployment is essentially complete, with some 575 markets live around the country. T-Mobile's LTE network covers a total of 315 million people, and the Uncarrier will push coverage to 321 million across its various spectrum bands by the end of the year. The company is on target to open 3,000 stores this year, with 1,500 T-Mobile-branded locations and another 1,500 MetroPCS-branded locations. T-Mobile will have 17,000 points-of-sale available throughout the country by the end of the year. During the second quarter, T-Mobile says it added 1.3 million net connections, with 786,000 postpaid phone customers. The company recorded revenues of $10.2 billion with net income of $581 million.


HMD Global, Maker of Nokia Phones, Parts Ways with CEO

Jul 19, 2017, 1:40 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

HMD Global today said Arto Nummela, CEO and member of its Global Board of Directors, will leave the company effective immediately. Florian Seiche, who has co-lead the company as president since its founding, has been appointed acting CEO in Nummela's place. Sam Chin, Chairman of the Board, said, "Arto Nummela has played a key role in the creation of the HMD Global operation, building the team and launching our first products. On behalf of the whole Board, I thank Arto for his contribution and wish him well in his future endeavors." HMD Global is the sole licensee of the Nokia brand. Earlier this year, it debuted three Android-based smartphones under the Nokia brand. The company is widely expected to introduce a Nokia-branded Android flagship device in the weeks ahead. HMD Global did not provide a reason for Nummela's sudden departure. Earlier this week, HDM Global debuted the Nokia 130, an entry-level feature phone running Series 30+.


Google Offers More Fine-Tuned App Curation in the Play Store

Jul 19, 2017, 12:54 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today improved the Editors' Choice section of the Google Play Store with what it calls "better curation to help you find high-quality apps." In short, Google has added new editorial pages to the Editors' Choice section, which provide more fine-tuned recommendations for apps and games. Recommendations now explore specific game genres and app categories with reviews on each theme. Some include Get Motivated With These 5 Fitness Apps, Oh, Snap: 5 Photo Editing Apps to Make Your Pics Pop, Puzzle Games to Test Your Logic, and Pedal to the Metal: 5 Awesome Racing Game. Google says the revamped Editors' Choice lists are available on mobile devices and desktop PCs in Australia, Canada, Great Britain, Japan, South Korea, and the U.S. Google expects to expand to more countries over time.


Google Expeditions Moves Beyond the Classroom

Jul 19, 2017, 12:30 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today made it possible for anyone to access and enjoy its 360-degree Expeditions. Until now, Google Expeditions has been limited to educational environments. Expeditions relies on Google Cardboard or Google Daydream viewers to interact with 360-degree and/or virtual environments. Google released a solo version of Expeditions today, which means everyone can tour more than 600 locations around the world, such as the Empire State Building, Taj Mahal, Thimphu Bhutan, Oriole Park at Camden Yards, the Great Barrier Reef, and much more. The Expeditions include self-guided tours, as well as "guide mode" for educators who may want to preview the content from a different perspective. Expeditions is available for Android devices and can be downloaded from the Play Store for free. Google says an iOS version of Expeditions will be available soon.


Apple Updates iPhone, Watch, AppleTV Software

Jul 19, 2017, 12:16 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple today pushed out updates to four of its core platforms. iPhone and iPad owners can update their devices to iOS 10.3.3, which Apple has been testing with developers for more than a month. The minor system update, likely the last for iOS 10, includes bug fixes and performance improvements. Apple also released watchOS 3.2.3, tvOS 10.2.2, and macOS Sierra 10.12.6. All the system updates are free to download and install. Apple is already beta testing iOS 11 with both developers and the public. iOS 11 brings a significant number of updates to the iPhone and iPad, and is expected to arrive in the fall.


FCC Bestows More 600 MHz Licenses

Jul 19, 2017, 12:09 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

The FCC today granted licenses for 600 MHz spectrum to those companies that placed winning bids during the incentive auction, which concluded earlier this year. The FCC has already distributed some of the 600 MHz licenses, including some to T-Mobile. Some of the entities being given control over their 600 MHz winnings today include Carolina West Wireless, Cellular South Licenses, East Kentucky Network, NE Colorado Cellular, Nsight Spectrum, SAL Spectrum, Spotlight Media Corp., The Alaska Wireless Network, and others. The FCC says these companies have filed all the proper paperwork and made the corresponding payments. "We grant these licenses because it will serve the public interest, convenience, and necessity," said the agency. Winners of the 600 MHz spectrum auction are expected to use the repurposed TV airwaves to deploy mobile broadband.


Coral Blue Galaxy S8 and S8+ Go On Sale In US July 21

Jul 19, 2017, 9:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung today said the Coral Blue variant of the Galaxy S8 and S8+ handsets will become available to U.S. buyers starting July 21. According to Samsung, carrier-specific versions for AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon will be available at Best Buy stores, while the unlocked version will be available at Best Buy and Samsung.com. Customers looking to save some money can take advantage of a promotion at Best Buy stores between July 21 and July 29 that offers up to $400 off the cost of the handset with a carrier activation. Samsung said consumers can save up to $150 of the price of either handset when purchasing the phone directly from Samsung, as well as take advantage of Samsung's trade-on promo. Details concerning the promotions are available from Samsung's web site. The Galaxy S8 and S8+ are already available in black, silver, and gray.


Google Bringing Search-Based Feed to Its Mobile App

Jul 19, 2017, 7:28 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today said its personalized feed will begin to appear in the Google mobile app for Android and iOS devices. The feed, which Google has been testing on Android since late last year, displays information cards below the search bar based on each user's individual search history. Google will also toss in information concerning trending topics both local and global. The more people take advantage of the feed, the more in-tuned it will become to individual tastes and interests. The new feed supplants Google Now, which delivered articles and information cards. The cards generated by Google Now will still appear, but fall under a new "updates" tab in the Google app. A new "follow" button has been added to search results so people can follow topics or interests (sports teams, artists, movies, TV shows, celebrities) more directly from their daily interactions with Google. News stories will be presented from a variety of viewpoints and Google says simple fact checking tools will be available to help combat inaccurate sources. Moreover, people will be able to dive deeper into their favorite topics via dedicated search tools. On the flip side, Google suggests that it will be easy to unfollow topics presented by the feed so they don't reappear. The Google app with the new fees is being updated for Android and iOS in the U.S. today, and will roll out globally over the next few weeks.


Bixby Finally Speaks English, Launching on Galaxy S8 and S8+ In the US Today

Jul 19, 2017, 7:06 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Jul 19, 2017, 7:30 AM

Samsung today said Bixby now speaks English well enough and is ready for launch in the U.S. Bixby has been available in Samsung's home market of Korea since earlier this spring, but had been delayed in the U.S. because the company didn't have enough data for English. The company opened an English preview of Bixby to select testers in the U.S. last month. A software update will be available to owners of the Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+ as soon as today, which installs the "consumer" version of Bixby on Samsung's smartphones. With Bixby Voice is installed, Galaxy S8 owners will be able to press the dedicated Bixby button and talk themselves through the entire user interface of select apps, rather than just issue short commands for one-time actions. Bixby Voice fully supports 10 apps at launch, including the gallery, messages, settings, phone, contacts, weather, calculator, reminders, Bixby Vision, and the camera. Samsung is preparing more apps for Bixby, including Samsung Pay, Samsung Health, notes, My Files, email, and the internet browser, along with third-party apps such as WhatsApp, Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, Facebook Messenger, Instagram, and YouTube. Samsung didn't say when Bixby compatibility will reach these apps on consumer devices. Galaxy S8 and S8+ owners can expect to see Bixby Voice arrive shortly.


Snapchat Now Lets Users Record Multiple Snaps and Edit Pix

Jul 18, 2017, 12:14 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Snapchat today improved its Android and iOS mobile apps with new tools. First, the app can now record up to six 10-second clips over the course of one minute. Users can then select the segment they like best for sharing. People need only keep holding their finger down on the capture button in order to record multiple shots. Second, a new tool called Tint Brush lets people re-color small areas of their photos. The tool makes it simple to select an object or item in the photo and then apply a new color. Snapchat does the rest. The multi-snap recording tool is available initially to the iPhone app, but Snapchat plans to bring it to the Android app soon. The Tint Brush tool reaches both Android and iOS apps today. Snapchat is free to download from the Google Play Store and the iTunes App Store.


AT&T Says Edge Computing to Power 5G Experiences

Jul 18, 2017, 11:37 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T hopes taking advantage of numerous, local data centers will enable the low-latency, high-speed features of 5G. The company is exploring a model called edge computing in order to balance the power needs of mobile devices with those of data center number crunching. AT&T points out that future applications such as autonomous cars and augmented/virtual reality will need incredible amounts of real-time computing. Much of this computing is too much for mobile devices to handle, and is often off-loaded to data centers. The issue is the time it takes data to travel from a car or handset to the data center (often hundreds of miles away) and back. In order to reduce latency while also powering rapid calculations, AT&T plans to deploy tens of thousands of central offices, macro towers, and small cells all over the country — many of which will be within a few miles of customers. The shorter distance from the car or phone to the data center means faster turnaround times for data, or lower latency. AT&T calls these small installations edge computing facilities. AT&T is already testing edge computing with some of its business customers and plans to bake the computing model into its 5G network. AT&T and other carriers are expected to begin deploying 5G technologies as soon as 2018 or 2019.


Bluetooth's IoT Ambitions Boosted By Mesh Networking

Jul 18, 2017, 10:46 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

The Bluetooth SIG today added support for mesh networking to its core Bluetooth specification. The move targets the internet-of-things, smart homes, and business applications where simple connections between many devices are needed. According to the Bluetooth SIG, the mesh networking feature supports self-healing networks, supports thousands of individual nodes, and provides industrial-grade security. The mesh networking spec relies on Bluetooth Low Energy within Bluetooth 4.0 to create scalable connections that can be made between products from different vendors around the world. This gives Bluetooth mesh networking an advantage over some in-home and IoT solutions that require specific hardware components in order to successfully interact with one another. The specification and associated developer tools are available to download from the Bluetooth SIG web site.


Lightroom for Android and iOS Earns More Photo-Tweaking Powers

Jul 18, 2017, 10:21 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Adobe today updated its Lightroom Mobile application for Android and iOS devices. Adobe says it overhauled the Android version from the ground up to give it a more native Android feel. Every screen has a new design that Adobe claims is faster and more efficient to use. The iOS version of Lightroom Mobile received several new features in this update. First, Lightroom for iOS now includes a selective brush tool to selectively pain enhancements into any part of an image. iOS devices that support 3D Touch can use the pressure-sentive screen to apply varied effects through the selective brush. The same functionality is available to the iPad Pro when used with the Apple Pencil. Lightroom Mobile for iOS also gains the ability to selectively erase both linear and radial gradients, and the refreshed details tab allows people to control sharpness and noise reduction over the entire image. Last, Adobe says the iPad version of Lightroom Mobile now takes better advantage of the tablet's screen real estate to make more controls accessible. Lightroom Mobile is free to download from the Google Play Store and the iTunes App Store.


Google Play Music Searches Reveal Playable Results

Jul 18, 2017, 7:52 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google has updated its Play Music app for Android devices and made it possible to play songs directly from search results. Now, when users search for a song, album, or artist, the top three results include a "play" button that lets them jump immediately to those songs. Google's own auto-generated search suggestions now appear further down the screen. Playing any of the results pushes the music player controls to the bottom of the screen. Google added this functionality to the Play Music web site earlier this year. In another change, Google Play Music has expanded the availability of the New Release Radio playlist tool (initially an exclusive to the Samsung Galaxy S8/S8+) to all Android devices. Google Play Music is free to download from the Google Play Store.


Samsung Commits to Recycling Parts from Galaxy Note7

Jul 18, 2017, 7:31 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung plans to extensively reuse, recycle, and recover, parts and materials found in last year's failed Galaxy Note7 smartphone. The company confirmed plans to recycle the phone earlier this year, but has now provided more details on exactly what it hopes to accomplish. Samsung said it will reuse parts such as the OLED display, memory components, and camera modules in future devices. Other components will be sold. Further, Samsung claims it can recover some 157 tons of gold, silver, cobalt, and copper from the recalled handsets. The company says it is committed to pursuing these efforts in ways that are eco-friendly. Samsung will begin the process of recycling the Galaxy Note7 this month. The phone was recalled last year after manufacturing flaws led to overheating batteries and fires. The news comes mere weeks before Samsung is expected to announced the Galaxy Note 8.


Google Allo Gains Message Reactions

Jul 18, 2017, 7:11 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google updated its Allo messaging app for Android devices this week and added the ability to react to individual messages. A little heart symbol now appears below received messages. Tapping it reveals a selection of possible reactions to show the sender what you think about the message. Allo still offers reply suggestions thanks to the built-in Google Assistant. Allo is free to download from the Play Store.


Google Brings Chatting to Its Video Conferencing Tool

Jul 17, 2017, 12:10 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today said Meet, its video conferencing service, will soon have the ability for participants to send and receive text and web links via chat. Google relaunched its video calling and chatting services earlier this year with an emphasis on business users. At the time, Google said chatting would come to Meet later this year; now, Google has made good on that promise. The text/link chatting tool is available to Meet both via desktop browsers and the mobile client. Google Meet is free to use. The new functionality should reach all users within two weeks.


Apple Reveals New iOS, MacOS Emoji

Jul 17, 2017, 12:01 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple today celebrated World Emoji day by showing off some of the new emoji that will be added to iOS, MacOS, and watchOS later this year. Some of the humanesque additions include a woman in a headscarf, a bearded person, and a breastfeeding woman, while food additions include sandwiches and coconuts. Characters such as zebras, T-Rex, zombies, and elves are on deck, as are smileys such as star-struck and exploding head. These emoji are expected to appear in iOS 11, macOS High Sierra, and watchOS 4, which are all slated to reach consumers in the fall.


HMD Global Trots Out the Nokia 130, an Entry-Level Feature Phone

Jul 17, 2017, 9:19 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

HMD Global today announced the Nokia 130, a bar-style handset that runs the Series 30+ platform with basic connectivity apps and a handful of simple games. The handset has a 1.8-inch screen, number pad, 1,020mAh battery, Bluetooth, music player, FM radio, and headphone jack. The Nokia 130 includes a camera, 4 MB of RAM and 8 MB of storage, and it supports memory cards up to 32 GB. It comes in red, gray, and black. Like the Nokia 3310, which was announced earlier this year, the new Nokia 130 supports GSM/EDGE 900/1800MHz, making it incompatible with U.S. networks. HMD Global is the only company that licenses the Nokia brand for handsets.


MetroPCS to Sell Motorola Moto E4 from July 31

Jul 17, 2017, 8:32 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Jul 17, 2017, 9:32 AM

T-Mobile today said its prepaid unit MetroPCS will offer the Motorola Moto E4 smartphone beginning July 31. The handset features a metal design, 5-inch 720p HD screen, and 2,800mAh battery. It also boasts an 8-megapixel main camera with an f/2.2 aperture, LED flash, and autofocus, and a 5-megapixel front camera with selfie flash. The phone costs $49 (after an instant rebate), but customers who port in to MetroPCS can get the Moto E4 for free. Verizon Prepaid, Sprint, Republic Wireless, and Ting already sell the Moto E4, and it is available unlocked from Amazon, Best Buy, B&H, Fry’s, Motorola.com, and New Egg for about $130. The larger Moto E4 Plus won't reach the U.S. until later this summer.


Samsung Pay Rings Up Support for PayPal

Jul 17, 2017, 8:23 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung and PayPal today announced that Galaxy smartphone owners can now use PayPal as a funding source for Samsung Pay. Samsung said all Samsung Pay users in the U.S. will have access to PayPal as a funding source, and it can be used to make purchases anywhere Samsung Pay is accepted. Samsung Pay uses both NFC and MST technology and works at most retail credit card terminals. Beyond retail locations, Samsung says a partnership with Braintree means Samsung Pay users can take advantage of PayPal to fund in-app and online purchases as well. PayPal support is being rolled out to the Samsung Pay service this week. Samsung Pay is available to Samsung's high-end handsets, such as the Galaxy S6, S7, S8, and variants, and Galaxy Note 5. Apple added support for PayPal to Apple Pay earlier this month.


HTC Brings Alexa to the U11

Jul 17, 2017, 7:03 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Owners of the HTC U11 can now take advantage of Amazon Alexa on their smartphone wherever they happen to be. HTC made its HTC Alexa app available to the U11 via the Google Play Store. Once installed, U11 owners will be able to use voice commands and queries to interact with Alexa, Amazon's artificial intelligent assistant. HTC says people can configure Alexa to suit their needs, such as answering directly to voice commands, or waiting until activated via the U11's Edge Sense squeezable sides. Some of the actions include listening to Amazon Music, receiving weather and news reports, managing shopping lists, and interacting with smart home devices. Together with the Amazon Alexa app, U11 owners can enable and configure some 15,000 skills — all accessible through voice commands. HTC announced Alexa integration when the U11 was first launched. The company has now brought the functionality to the device. The HTC Alexa app is free for U11 owners to download.


Cricket Wireless Lands the HTC Desire 555

Jul 14, 2017, 3:59 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Jul 14, 2017, 4:02 PM

Cricket Wireless recently added the HTC Desire 555 to its lineup of affordable Android smartphones. The 555 is a variant of the Desire 530. The phone is made from a polycarbonate chassis with a soft-touch finish, and comes with HTC's signature BoomSound audio. The 555 has a 5-inch 720p HD display and it is powered by a quad-core 1.1 GHz processor. According to Cricket, other specs of the Desire 555 include an 8-megapixel main camera with flash and 720p HD video capture, a 5-megapixel front camera, Bluetooth, WiFi, LTE, HD voice, and 16 GB of storage. The phone runs Android 7 Nougat and includes HTC software features, such as BlinkFeed and Themes. The HTC Desire 555 costs $120 when activated on a Cricket Wireless prepaid service plan.


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