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printed September 4, 2015
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BlackBerry to Buy Good Technology

Today, 7:17 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Today, 7:25 AM

BlackBerry today said it has agreed to purchase Good Technology for $425 million. Good Technology makes and sells mobile email products as well as mobile device management tools. The company said the acquisition "is aligned with BlackBerry's strategy to offer [businesses] the most complete, end-to-end solution that secures the entire mobile enterprise, across all platforms." Good Technology was purchased by Visto in 2009. Prior to that, it was owned by Motorola. At one time, Visto successfully sued BlackBerry (then Research In Motion) for patent infringement. BlackBerry said it expects to close the acquisition during its 2016 fiscal their quarter.

Hands on with the Marshall London

Today, 6:31 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Marshall, best known for guitar amps, is getting into modern electronics with the help of Swedish firm Zound Industries. More than just a branding exercise, the London phone is truly music-centric phone with some very unique features. We spent some time with it.

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Hands on with the CAT S40

Today, 5:44 AM   by Rich Brome

CAT-branded phones are, as you'd expect, super-rugged. They're aimed at construction workers and extreme sports folk. They're starting to make inroads into the U.S. now, with the S50 for Verizon and the S40 soon to be available unlocked for GSM networks. The S40 is slicker than previous CAT models. We checked it out.

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Amazon, Google, Microsoft Working On Open Media Formats

Today, 3:16 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

A handful of tech companies this week launched the Alliance for Open Media with the intent of creating an open standard for high definition video that will be compatible with all devices across the web. The companies hope to field next-generation codecs that are interoperate and open, optimized for the web, and scalable to any device at any bandwidth. They also hope the video codec will deliver consistent performance in real-time, while having a low computational footprint that is flexible for commercial and non-commercial use. The Alliance for Open Media is working on a video standard first, but will target other standards, such as audio, over time. Founding members include Amazon, Cisco, Google, Intel Corporation, Microsoft, Mozilla and Netflix. The alliance will use its" collective technology and expertise to meet growing internet demand for top-quality video, audio, imagery and streaming across devices of all kinds and for users worldwide." The alliance said it will provide more information about itself and its goals later this year.

Mozilla Testing Firefox Browser for iOS

Today, 3:02 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Mozilla has released a public preview of its Firefox browser for iOS, though the preview is limited to New Zealand. Mozilla has long shied away from bringing Firefox to iOS, but given the popularity of iOS devices it reconsidered. Mozilla is limiting the preview to New Zealand for scale purposes and is hoping to receive feedback on visual tabs, how the browser functions with Firefox accounts, and intelligent search. Mozilla hopes to release Firefox for iOS worldwide later this year.

Feds to Require Warrants for Cellphone Trackers

Today, 2:55 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

The Justice Department has issued new policy concerning the use of Stingrays to collect cellphone data and will require warrants moving forward. Stingrays, also called dirtboxes, mimic cell towers and can record the data of every cell phone they encounter. The boxes are most often used by federal officers in cars as they drive around seeking specific phones. The issue, complain privacy advocates, is that the Stingrays scoop up data from innocent Americans in the process. The government has used the Stingrays without warrants for years and has held onto the data indefinitely. In addition to requiring warrants, federal law enforcement will be forced to delete the data collected by Stingrays at least once per day. High-level government officials will have to approve airborne use of the devices, which can grab data from hundreds of thousands of phones. The new federal policy does not apply to local and state police agencies, which report to local judges. It also doesn't apply to the Department of Homeland Security, though similar changes are being made there, too. The new federal policy specifically bars government agents from examining the contents of communications snagged by Stingrays, such as phone conversations, text messages, and photos. The changes are being lauded as a step forward in protecting Americans' constitutional rights.

Hands On with Alcatel's New Phones

Yesterday, 10:00 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Alcatel had a handful of handsets to talk about in Berlin this week. Alcatel is targeting consumers directly with these phones and hopes they'll find a home with budget-conscious buyers. Here are our first impressions of the Go Play, Go Watch, Pop Up, and Pixi First.

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Alcatel Shows Off the Go Play, a New Mid-Tier Line

Yesterday, 10:00 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Alcatel OneTouch today announced the Go Play, a new series that fills the gap between its flagship Idol series and its lower Pop and Pixi series. The Go Play is nearly identical to the Conquest, which is already sold in the U.S. by Boost Mobile. Alcatel will be selling the Go Play unlocked, directly to consumers via its web site. The Go Play has a 5-inch 720p HD screen with Dragontrail Glass and 1.2GHz quad-core processor with 1GB of RAM and 8GB of storage. The Go Play supports AT&T/T-Mobile LTE, and has an 8-megapixel main camera, a 5-megapixel front camera, and can record full HD video. The phone features an IP67 rating for protection against water and dust, and can be used to take underwater images thanks to dedicated filters. Other features include GPS, an FM radio, and 2,500mAh battery. The phone is also drop proof. The Go Play, which will be sold in eight colors, runs Android Lollipop. Alcatel will sell the handset in the sub-$150 range later this year.

Alcatel Relaunches Watch as Go Play Accessory

Yesterday, 10:00 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Alcatel today announced a new version of its smartwatch called the Go Watch. The smart wearable has been given a new exterior design to match the Go Play handset. Other than the basic appearance, however, the features of the Watch remain more or less the same. The Go Watch is compatible with both Android (4.3) and iOS (7+). The device has a built in accelerometer, gyroscope, heart rate monitor, altimeter, and e-compass. Alcatel says owners will be able to track fitness (steps taken, distance traveled, etc.) and sleep cycles, as well as manage incoming notifications and remotely control media. Alcatel also added a new function that lets people "hack" their emotions. Pressing the Go button will take the owner's "emotionpulse" and generate an adjustable graphic to represent their mood. People can then choose to share that graphic and their mood to social networks if they wish. The Go Watch, which comes in several different styles, has a 1.22-inch circle display, Bluetooth 4.0, and a 225mAh battery. The USB charge port is built into the bottom of the watch to simplify charging. The Go Watch is easily removed from the casing so users can swap out bands. The Go Watch goes on sale later this year. Pricing wasn't announced.

Alcatel Touts Pop Up and Pixi First Handsets

Yesterday, 10:00 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Alcatel's handset roster grew by two with the Pop Up and Pixi First smartphones, which fill out the company's entry- and mid-level line-up.

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CAT S50 Coming Soon For Verizon

Yesterday, 2:04 PM   by Rich Brome

The CAT S50 rugged Android phone will be available to Verizon customers in just a few weeks, according to CAT representatives. The special S50c version supports Verizon's LTE bands and CDMA network, and is in the final stages of approval by Verizon. It will be available through business channels and certain indirect retailers, but not in Verizon stores. The S50 has a 4.7-inch 720p HD display, IP67 rating against water and dust, 8-megapixel camera, memory card slot, and a Snapdragon 400 processor.

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Gear S2 Ships In October, Works with Non-Samsung Phones

Yesterday, 12:26 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung said its Gear S2 smartwatch will ship worldwide beginning in October. Exact pricing details for the various models, however, remain elusive. The wearable is made to serve as a companion for Samsung's Galaxy smartphones, but the Gear S2 will work with any Android handset running Android 4.4 and up. Previous Samsung wearables required Samsung handsets. Expanding to all Android phones gives the Gear S2 a much larger potential customer base.

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Hands On with Samsung Gear S2 Smartwatch

Yesterday, 12:00 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung's second-generation Gear S smartwatch is a well-conceived and executed wearable. The snazzy UI is leagues better than Android Wear and the hardware isn't too bad, either. Here are our first impressions.

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T-Mobile Announces Native Video Calling Service

Yesterday, 10:21 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today announced T-Mobile Video Calling, a service that works with the native phone dialer of select handsets without requiring special apps. Like VoLTE and HD Voice, T-Mobile Video Calling can move easily between LTE and WiFi with no dropped video. Video calls will be converted to voice calls, however, if one or both parties moves away from LTE or WiFi coverage. Video calls do count against monthly data buckets. T-Mobile subscribers will be able to see which of their contacts are available for video calls thanks to new icons being added directly to the contact application. The Galaxy Note 5 and S6 Edge+ are the first two handsets capable of making native T-Mobile Video Calls thanks to an update being disseminated this week. T-Mobile plans to add the feature to the Galaxy S6 and S6 edge next week, and to three other unnamed handsets later this year. T-Mobile said it is working with competing carriers to enable the feature across networks.

Skype Overhauls Android and iOS Mobile Apps

Yesterday, 9:36 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Skype today released Skype version 6.0 for Android and iOS, which completely redesigns the apps to make them more natural and intuitive. Skype 6.0 for Android tackles Material Design to give it a more native look; adds a floating action button for starting new conversations/calls; upgrades contacts search; and speeds up inbox management thanks to clearer read/unread indicators. Skype 6.0 for the iPhone and iPad has also been given a visual overhaul, which includes new swiping gestures to make calls and answer messages. Skype improved contact search for the iPhone/iPad app, as well. Last the iPad version of Skype now has all the features found on the iPhone version, including the new messaging function, large emoticons, and group chats. Skype 6.0 for Android and for iOS is free to download from the Google Play Store and iTunes App Store, respectively.

Sprint Adds Data Options to DirecTV Service Offer

Yesterday, 9:30 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint adjusted its offer to DirecTV customers and added more data options. The original pitch included unlimited talk and text and just 2 GB of data per month for a year for free for DirecTV customers who port to Sprint. Now, those customers will be able to improve their data bucket to 4 GB for $10 per month or 6 GB for $20 per month. Customers will be also responsible for a $36 activation charge and monthly taxes and fees. Once the 12-month promotion ends, users will be moved to a $50 monthly service plan (for a single line). The free year of service does not include Sprint's international services, and data overages are charged at $0.015 per MB. Data speeds may also be reduced at congested cell sites during peak hours. The promotion is available through Sept. 30. DirecTV was acquired by AT&T last month.

Verizon Rebrands

Yesterday, 2:06 AM   by Rich Brome

Verizon today unveiled a new logo and visual identity. The company is keeping its signature red and black colors, while shifting the angled "V" graphic into a smaller symbol after the word "verizon" that is more obviously a "check mark". According to the company, "it’s a cleaner, more human design and the checkmark, the universal symbol for getting things done, uniquely expresses the reliability of Verizon."

Hands on with the New Moto 360

Wednesday, 3:33 PM   by Rich Brome   updated Wednesday, 3:45 PM

Motorola set the standard for Android Wear watches with the Moto 360. Now they're back with a refresh. It's very similar to the previous model, but with a new strap system that makes it look more like a traditional watch. Following the lead of Apple - and everyone else - it now comes in two sizes. How is it in person? Read on.

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Hands On with Sony Xperia Z5 Range

Wednesday, 2:27 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sony's latest flagship family impresses with high-quality materials, top-notch specs, and user-friendly features. The Xperia Z5, Z5 Compact, and Z5 Premium make for a formidable lineup of Android handsets. Here are Phone Scoop's first impressions.

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Motorola Debuts Range of Moto 360 Watches

Wednesday, 2:00 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Wednesday, 2:07 PM

Motorola today showed off several new versions of the Moto 360 smartwatch, which cater to both active and professional lifestyles. The Moto 360 now comes in two sizes: 42mm (1.37-inch screen) and 46mm (1.56-inch screen). The 360 by 360 pixel circular displays have a slim 3mm bezel and offer a full-round screen. Consumers can choose from several different finishes, including stainless steel, and a variety of quick-release straps. Motorola will allow people to build their own via Moto Maker. The wearables run Android Wear 1.3 and are compatible with both Android phones and the iPhone. They are powered by a Snapdragon 400 processor with 512MB of RAM and 4GB of storage. The larger size has a 400mAh battery and the smaller size has a 300mAh battery. Both sizes measure 11.6mm thick and include Bluetooth and WiFi. The Moto 360 Sport adds GPS for tracking workouts and a brighter screen for easier outdoor use. The Moto 360 can be preordered beginning today and ships in late September. The Moto 360 Sport will ship later this year. Prices range from $299.99 to $429.99.

Hands on with the Huawei Mate S

Wednesday, 1:31 PM   by Rich Brome

The Mate S is Huawei's new global flagship phone. Like most new flagships, it sports a 5 inch display, metal body, fingerprint sensor, and some advanced camera technology. It will also support Force Touch, sensing the pressure you apply, to the degree that you can use it as a scale, although we've heard that there will be several versions of the Mate S, and not all will include Force Touch. It's an intriguing phone. Read on for our hands-on impressions.

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Sony Reveals the Xperia Z5 In Small and Large Sizes with 4K Display

Wednesday, 9:43 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Wednesday, 12:09 PM

Sony today announced the Xperia Z5, a family of flagship smartphones that range in features and size. All three versions rely on the same slim metal design from previous generations of Xperia Z devices with glass on the front and back surfaces. The Xperia Z5 is waterproof and protects the handset from accidental spills as well a dunks in the sink. The Xperia Z5 features what Sony says is "the best camera." Sony sped up the autofocus to 0.03 seconds, while also improving the sensor count to 23 megapixels. The camera features Sony's G-Lens and uses "clear image zoom" to power 5x zooming with no loss in clarity. The camera also performs well at night and in low light thanks to a new night capture mode powered by the latest Exmor RS mobile sensor. Last, video includes steady shot intelligent shake reduction. Sony added a fingerprint sensor to the screen lock button, which is positioned on the right edge. The phone will be offered in three variants. The standard version has a 5.2-inch 1080p HD display; the Xperia Z5 Compact has a 4.7-inch display; and the Xperia Z5 Premium features a 5.5-inch 4K display (with upscaling for full HD content). All three are powered by octa-core Snapdraon 810 processors and run Android with the latest software and services from Sony on board. The handsets will go on sale worldwide in October.

Hands on with the Asus ZenWatch 2

Wednesday, 8:56 AM   by Rich Brome

The ZenWatch 2 is an Android Wear watch available for an unusually low price of well under $200. We checked it out.

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Huawei Mate S Has Force Touch

Wednesday, 8:49 AM   by Rich Brome   updated Wednesday, 9:40 AM

Huawei today announced the Mate S, its new flagship Android smartphone. Its most notable feature is Force Touch, which precisely measures pressure on its touch screen. The harder you press on a photo in the gallery, the more it zooms in, for example. It is precise enough that Huawei will ship the phone with an app that turns the screen into a small scale. The screen is 5.5-inch full-HD AMOLED. The phone also has a 13-megapixel main camera with RGBW sensor, 1.2-degree OIS (optical image stabilization), sapphire lens, and advanced manual controls. The front camera clocks in at 8 megapixels. Another unique feature is directional listening, which uses three microphones to pinpoint voice locations and filter out background noise. The Mate S is also water-resistant using a nano coating. Like many new Huawei phones, it has two card slots; one for a SIM card, and one for a memory card or a second SIM card. It supports 13 LTE bands, including U.S. bands. It has a thin metal body and fingerprint sensor. It's powered by a Huawei Kirin 935 2.2 GHz, 8-core, 64-bit processor accompanied by 3 GB of RAM. It will be available within the next month in Europe starting at 649 Euros for the version with 32 GB of internal storage.

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Huawei's Android Wear Smartwatch Goes Upscale

Wednesday, 8:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Huawei today said its Android-based smartwatch will go on sale this month for $349, putting it in Apple Watch territory. The wearable will come with several face variations, including stainless steel, black stainless steel, and rose gold, with leather, steel, and gold strap options. Prices vary depending on the chassis and strap combination, with the gold models costing as much as $799. All models have a 1.4-inch screen with 400 by 400 pixels protected by sapphire crystal. The watch is powered by a 1.2 GHz dual-core Snapdragon 400 processor with 512MB of RAM and 4GB of storage. The Huawei Watch includes Bluetooth and WiFi for connectivity, and sensors such as barometer, accelerometer, and gyroscope to help track movement. The 300mAh battery delivers up to two days of usable life and can reach an 80% charge in just 45 minutes. The watch runs Android Wear 1.3 and is compatible with Android and iOS smartphones. The stainless steel and black models can be pre-ordered beginning today and will ship on Sept. 17, which is also when the watch will reach general availability. The Huawei Watch can be purchased from, the Google Play Store,, and

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Asus updates ZenWatch

Wednesday, 7:04 AM   by Rich Brome

Today at the IFA show in Berlin, Asus announced the ZenWatch 2, an affordable Android Wear smartwatch. It comes in two sizes and three stainless steel case colors, for just 149 Euros (approx. $168). The company claims two days of battery life, and the watch charges via a magnetic connector on the back. A set of exclusive Asus apps includes a messaging app that communicates directly from one watch to another. 18 different strap options are available.

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Google to Punish App Install Adds that Appear in Search

Wednesday, 3:16 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Wednesday, 3:18 AM

Google has decided to clean up how mobile search results present ads for app installs. In particular, it hopes to negate the use of interstitial app install ads that hide content when users try to view search results. "Our analysis shows that it is not a good search experience and can be frustrating for users because they are expecting to see the content of the web page," explained Google. Google has updated the Mobile-Friendly Test — a barometer the company offers to mobile web site designers — to help demonstrate how interstitials fail the friendly test. Web site designers can use the tool to see the number of pages across their site(s) affected by the issue. Google is giving mobile web designers two months to clean up their interstitials. Beginning November 1, sites that continue to show interstitial app install ads will no longer be consider mobile friendly, which will drop their search rankings. Google suggests publishers use alternatives, such as banners, to coax mobile users into installing their apps.

Google Adjusts Google Now Cards and Search

Wednesday, 3:02 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google has updated the appearance of its Google Now and Google Search tools on Android devices to match the company's new design motif. First and foremost, the apps adopt the new logo and font changes Google made earlier this week. Second, in Google Now the cards are arranged by category and will shift and change size throughout the day to reflect important appointments and other events. Third, the Google Search app now displays the Google Doodle on days it's published, and search results make it easier to sift between types of content (web, images, video) with new swiping gestures. The Google Search app is free to download from the Google Play Store. Google said other Google-branded apps will be given visual tweaks in the days ahead to reflect its new design language.

Moto X Pure Edition Available for Preorder Wednesday

Tuesday, 6:06 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Motorola's official Google+ page said that U.S. consumers will be able to order the Moto X Pure Edition beginning Wednesday, Sept. 2. The phone can be customized via Moto Maker and starts at $399.

Instagram Boosts Appeal of Direct Messages with Threaded Convos

Tuesday, 12:49 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Instagram today improved the private messaging features of its Android and iOS apps through an update. To start, messages between individuals and groups are now threaded, rather than separate. Threaded conversations contain all the shared content in a single stream. The new Instagram makes it easier to forward posts to other users, so public photos can be sent back and forth. The direct message function now also includes a camera for quick selfies, and huge emoji for "when there are just no words," according to Instagram. Privacy is not changed; private feeds will remain private, and those photos cannot be shared with non-subscribers. The new Instagram makes it easier to share with groups, as well include hashtags and location data. The updated app is available to Android and iOS devices today; it's free to download from the Google Play Store and iTunes App Store, respectively.

Amazon Letting Prime Members Watch Videos Offline

Tuesday, 9:06 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Amazon today said Prime customers can now download videos for offline playback. The feature, part of Amazon Prime Instant Video, is compatible with Fire tablets, the Fire Phone, Android phones and tablets, and iOS devices, such as the iPhone. Amazon is offering an unknown percentage of its video library for offline playback, including televisions shows, classic movies, and newer cinematic releases. Not all videos are available for download/offline playback; compatible videos will be marked as such. Prime subscribers can download the video file via WiFi and will have between 15 to 30 days to watch the video (varies by title) before the viewing period ends. Offline viewing is only available to residents of the U.S.

Nextbit Introduces Robin, a Phone That Makes the Cloud Smart

Tuesday, 9:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Nexbit today revealed the Robin, an Android smartphone that intelligently uses the cloud to help manage storage space on the fly. The handset includes 32 GB of "offline" storage and 100 GB of "online" storage. The hardware itself has 32 GB, but the Robin has access to another 68 GB of storage on Nextbit's servers. When the Robin is connected to the internet (via LTE or WiFi) it has access to all 100 GB of this storage space. Most interestingly, Robin's software will learn which apps are used the least and will proactively remove them from the handset until they are needed. Removed apps still appear in the menus, but are greyed out and unusable until the user chooses to reload them. Users won't have to re-enter credentials for removed apps; Robin keeps account and login details intact. The handset has a unique industrial design created by Scott Croyle, a former designer for HTC. The main chassis is made from metal and it is book-ended by two polycarbonate caps. The caps house stereo speakers (each with its own amplifier), camera modules, sensors, and wireless radios. The Robin features a 5.2-inch full HD screen and is powered by a Snapdragon 808 processor with 3 GB of RAM. The Robin has a 13-megapixel main camera with two-tone LED flash, and a 5-megapixel selfie camera. Nextbit added a fingerprint sensor to the screen lock button, which is located on the side of the Robin. The phone has a 2,650mAh battery that is sealed in. Wireless radios include Bluetooth, GPS, NFC, WiFi, HSPA+, and a wide selection of LTE bands for compatibility with networks such as those run by AT&T and T-Mobile in the U.S. Nextbit is launching the Robin in the U.S. via Kickstarter beginning today. Early bird supporters (first 1,000 backers) can score the Robin for $299. Follow-up Kickstarter supporters will have to spend $349. The Robin will ship for $399 in the first quarter of 2016.

PayPal.Me a More Convenient Way to Pay People

Tuesday, 8:52 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

PayPal today launched a new service that purports to make it easier to send and receive money. With PayPal.Me, PayPal users create a unique URL associated with their account. The link, when shared, gives others the avenue they need to make payments or send funds. "Family and friends or customers click the link, enter the amount and their PayPal password, and they're done," says PayPal. Want to request a specific amount of cash? Send the link with a number at the end, like so: PayPal.Me/JohnDoe/25 and the recipient will be asked to send $25. Other than requiring a PayPal account, PayPal.Me is free to use.

Samsung's Gear S2 Runs Tizen and Can Make Calls

Tuesday, 3:31 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung's latest wearable features a circular shape, rotating bezel, and the ability to make phone calls independent from a smartphone. The device comes in two basic models: the Gear S2 has a simpler, more modern look, while the Gear S2 Classic has a more traditional appearance. Both feature a 1.2-inch circular AMOLED screen with 360 by 360 pixels. The Gear S2 is powered by a dual-core 1.0GHz processor and has 512MB of RAM and 4GB of storage. Samsung says the 250mAh battery provides up to two days of battery life. Connectivity includes Bluetooth, NFC, and WiFi, and internal sensors include an accelerometer, gyroscope, heart rate monitor, ambient light, and barometer for tracking movement and otherl conditions. The Gear S2 runs Samsung's Tizen operating system and comes with a handful of tools for managing email, messaging, calendar appointments, and weather. Other functions include voice commands, S Health and Nike+ Running apps, a media player, and photo gallery. The Gear S2 is also available in a 3G variant with the ability to make calls and handle limited data when not around a smartphone. The 3G version has a larger 300mAh battery and a thicker chassis than the Gear S2 and Gear S2 Classic. T-Mobile was the first U.S. carrier to voice support for the 3G version of the watch. For $5 per month (when added to a phone plan), Gear S2 owners will be able to make unlimited calls, send unlimited messages, and use 500MB of data from their smartwatch. Pricing and availability were not disclosed.

Google Brings Android Wear to the iPhone

Monday, 10:51 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today released an Android Wear application for iOS devices that makes the iPhone compatible with Google-based smartwatches. The Android Wear app works with the iPhone 5, 5s, 5c, 6, and 6 Plus as long as the phones are running iOS 8.2 and up. Android Wear allows iPhone owners to check their information at a glance, such as calls, messages, and notifications; set and follow fitness goals, such as tracking steps or heart rate; and also receive timely information about flights, traffic, calendar appointments, and more. Android Wear for iOS supports "OK, Google" voice-based queries, as well. Google says the LG Watch Urbane is the first Android Wear smartwatch to support iPhone compatibility, and that all future devices, including those from Huawei (pictured above), Asus, and Motorola, will also support iOS. Many of these manufacturers are expected to debut new smartwatches this week at the IFA trade show in Berlin.

Qualcomm to Add Malware Detection to Snapdragon 820

Monday, 7:28 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Qualcomm today said the Snapdragon 820 processor will contain new anti-malware tools to protect smartphone users from threats. Qualcomm Snapdragon Smart Protect can provide "real-time, on-device machine learning" to detect zero-day malware before it wreaks havoc on smartphone owners. Snapdragon Smart Protect relies on Qualcomm's Zeroth technology, which adds "classification and cause analysis using an advanced cognitive computing behavioral engine." The end result, says Qualcomm, should be safer smartphone use across the web. Qualcomm is making the technology available to phone makers and app developers, along with an API, so they can build Qualcomm Smart Protect into their products. The Snapdragon 820 isn't expected to arrive until the first half of 2016.

T-Mobile Targets Tethering Thieves In TOS Crackdown

Monday, 7:13 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile is today taking action against a small percentage of customers abusing the mobile hotspot feature by enforcing its terms of service. T-Mobile customers who sign up for unlimited smartphone data plans are given 7GB of data allotted specifically for mobile hotspot use. Users who exceed that 7GB tethering cap experience reduced speeds for the remainder of the billing cycle. According to T-Mobile, some users are hiding their tethering activity to get around the limit and consuming far more than the allowed 7GB. "These violators are going out of their way with all kinds of workarounds to steal more LTE tethered data," said T-Mobile CEO John Legere. "They’re downloading apps that hide their tether usage, rooting their phones, writing code to mask their activity, etc. They are 'hacking' the system to swipe high-speed tethered data. These aren't naive amateurs; they are clever hackers who are willfully stealing for their own selfish gain. It's a small group, but some of them are using as much as 2 terabytes (2,000GB!) of data in a month." Legere said T-Mobile is initially targeting about 3,000 customers. Beginning today, T-Mobile will notify this group of users about their terms-of-service violations with a warning. Those who don't alter their tethering usage will be dropped down to T-Mobile's entry-level plan. T-Mobile says the move is meant to help protect its network for all users.

Microsoft Avoids Import Ban in InterDigital Case

Aug 29, 2015, 9:43 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Microsoft escaped what could have been a harmful ban on its devices as the U.S. International Trade Commission decided not to block the import of Microsoft's smartphones into the U.S. Microsoft lost a patent case against InterDigital in April when it was found to be infringing on two patents. The individual trade judge who reached that decision recommended Microsoft's handsets be banned from import. The full ITC panel rejected that judge's decision on Friday, however, which means Microsoft will continue to be allowed to bring its handsets into the U.S. Microsoft expressed relief at the decision, while InterDigital voiced disappointment. Earlier this month, Microsoft filed an antitrust lawsuit against InterDigital, claiming the company charges exorbitant fees for standard-essential patents. Such patents must be licensed at fair, reasonable, and non-discrimonatory rates. InterDigital is a patent-holding company and has had mixed success in suing companies such as Samsung, ZTE, and Huawei.

T-Mobile Needs Band 12 Phones to Also Support VoLTE, E911

Aug 28, 2015, 3:52 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile has clarified its stance on Band 12 support in handsets that operate on its network. "We require phones using Band 12 on T-Mobile to support E911 and VoLTE in order to be certified on our network," said T-Mobile in a statement provided to Fierce Wireless. "We do this in the interest of our customers' overall experience and safety." T-Mobile does not, however, force phone makers to support Band 12. "Every OEM has the option to support VoLTE and E911 or not. It's their decision, though obviously, we hope that every OEM will choose to support these features and get certified on our network." The issue at hand is one of safety. Handsets that include Band 12 but don't also support VoLTE and E911 can run into roaming issues that may prevent 911 emergency calls from connecting properly. This would violate FCC regulations and might impact the outcome of emergency situations. The issue came to light when it was discovered the Moto E doesn't support VoLTE, E911, nor Band 12.

Motorola Updates Camera, Gallery Apps

Aug 28, 2015, 3:39 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Motorola has in recent days updated its camera and gallery applications. The camera app brings QR and barcode scanning to some of Motorola's older handsets, such as the Moto X (2nd Gen.), Moto X Pro, DROID Turbo, and Moto Maxx/Turbo. The gallery app's primary new feature is the ability to move photo albums to microSD memory cards, which the newest Moto X and Moto G smartphones support. Both apps are free to download from the Google Play Store.

More articles in the Archive ›

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