Twitter today revealed that it will soon begin to analyze the apps Twitter users install on their phones. The company claims the data will be used "to help build a more personal Twitter experience ... so we can deliver tailored content that you might be interested in." Some of those improvements might include who-to-follow suggestions, or adding unsolicited Tweets and other content to users' timelines. Twitter says it is not collecting any data from those other apps, but it is reporting back to Twitter which apps are installed. Twitter says Android and iOS users can opt out of the app tracking by adjusting their settings. Directions to opt out are available on Twitter's web site.
Motorola lost its appeal in a court case regarding a price fixing scheme for mobile phone displays. The company wanted to hold foreign firms, including AU Optronics, liable for overcharging Motorola's foreign suppliers. The US court disagreed with Motorola's claim. "Motorola's foreign subsidiaries were injured in foreign commerce -- in dealings with other foreign companies," wrote Circuit Judge Richard Posner. "To give Motorola rights to take the place of its foreign companies and sue on their behalf under U.S. antitrust law would be an unjustified interference with the right of foreign nations to regulate their own economies." Motorola said it was disappointed with the court's decision and was weighing its options. In other cases, AU Optronics and a handful of other companies were found guilty of colluding to fix the prices of mobile phone screens. Verdicts against the companies have reached $1 billion.
C Spire Wireless has introduced new service plans that include rollover data. The trio of plans allows customers to carryover unused data from one month to the next in order to avoid overage charges during months they may need more access. All three plans include unlimited voice minutes and messaging. The $40 option buys 2GB of data, the $55 option buys 4GB, and the $65 option buys 6GB. Customers can roll their entire monthly data allotment to the next month if it goes unused. These plans do not include device financing and assume users are supplying their own hardware. The same three plans cost $65, $80, and $90 per month when paired with a subsidized smartphone purchase. C Spire seemingly borrowed the idea from AT&T, which marketed rollover voice minutes for a long time.
As shopping for the holidays gets underway this week, retailers will be serving up sales and deals galore. In order to help you on your journey to mobile gifting nirvana, Phone Scoop presents its annual Holiday Gift Guide. You need only peruse the following pages to discover the best possible phone for everyone on your list.
Vine recently updated its Android and iOS mobile apps with push notifications. Moving forward, users can opt to receive alerts when their favorite Vine accounts post new content. Vine is a short-video sharing service. It lets people upload and share six-second videos. Vine is owned by Twitter. The app is free to download from the Google Play Store and iTunes App Store.
Skype updated its Android app recently and added several new capabilities. The most significant new feature for Android phones is the ability to multitask and maintain video chats outside of Skype though a picture-in-picture view. Other improvements include faster chat loads, the ability to receive photos from Skype for iPhone, support for formatted text (bold, italic, etc.), and support for Hindi. Skype for Android is free to download from the Play Store.
Amazon today dropped the price of the Fire Phone to $199. The company, sitting on unsold stockpiles of the device, is offering it unlocked and without a contract. Further, Amazon is still including a free year of Amazon Prime, which has a value of $99. The Fire Phone went on sale over the summer. At that time, Amazon sold the phone for $199 with a contract. It later dropped the on-contract price to 99 cents. Today's mark-down signals Amazon's hope to clear out its inventory.
Verizon Wireless today announced the LG GizmoPal, a wearable for children meant to provide parents with peace of mind. The wearable can make and receive phone calls, though only to/from a limited set of numbers. Parents can easily mange the GizmoPal through an app (Android and iOS), and use it to track their child's location throughout the day. The GizmoPal costs $80 and can be added to a More Everything plan for $5 per month. It will be available in select stores Nov. 26 and all Verizon sales channels by Dec. 11. It comes in either blue or pink.
The Competitive Carrier's Association has asked the FCC to drop a rule regarding when it will split bidding in the forthcoming 600MHz incentive auction into unreserved and reserved airwaves. The CCA argues the trigger proposed by the FCC will have a negative impact on the auction. "The price-per-MHz-POP trigger serves no legitimate purpose. In fact, the price-per-MHz-POP trigger obliterates the benefits of the spectrum reserve, and will hinder the FCC's goals of accelerating deployment of broadband services to all Americans, especially those in rural and hard to reach areas," said CCA President Steve Berry. The FCC wants to ensure that at least some spectrum is reserved for smaller carriers so it doesn't all fall into the hands of the larger national operators. The CCA agrees with that viewpoint, but not with how the FCC has implemented the reserve. Berry further argued that dropping the trigger "would enable greater competition in the wireless marketplace and benefit consumers and the economy." The FCC is prepared to vote on the rules at its next open meeting, scheduled for Dec. 11. The auction itself won't begin until early 2016.
Twitter today introduced Twitter Offers, a new way for consumers and businesses to take advantage of one another's interactions on Twitter. With Twitter Offers, users can link a credit or debit card to their account and then act on promotions or coupons within Twitter. They'll be able to redeem the coupons/promotions online or through physical retail stores by using the card associated with their Twitter account. Twitter said it will make money by charging companies to promote the Tweets, but it may seek a share of each transaction down the road. Select retailers and restaurants plan to begin promoting Tweets starting today.
Google recently made available a new online tool people can use to control which devices have access to their Google Account. The Devices and Activity dashboard shows users all the devices that have accessed their account during the previous 28 days. Users can see the name of the device along with when and where it last accessed their Google data. Google said it will provide obvious signs if it suspects suspicious activity, and it is easy for users to block any of the devices on the list from accessing their account. The Devices and Activity dashboard is free to use.
Sony today announced its intent to transform its smartphone business with a eye on making it a profitable operation. The company, in effect, admitted its goal of becoming the world's number three smartphone maker behind Samsung and Apple was perhaps too ambitious. The company will reduce the number of handsets it makes moving forward, focusing cuts on entry-level and mid-range devices for select markets. Sony said it expects to layoff some employees as a result. "Our urgent task is to make the business profitable even if we face declines in sales by 20% or 30%," said Hiroki Totoki, the new head of Sony’s mobile unit. The company will further reduce its presence in China and some emerging markets, while retaining a toehold in Europe. Sony said it is still evaluating how much it will commit to the U.S. Sony sells only a few handsets in the U.S., many of which are made available directly to consumers via its web site. Right now, The Xperia Z3v and Z3 are offered by Verizon and T-Mobile, respectively, but the Z3 Compact is not offered by any U.S. carriers.
Milk Studios has filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against Samsung, which it says "intentionally, willfully, and knowingly" used the Milk name despite a business partnership with Milk Studios. Samsung launched Milk Music, a music-streaming service, earlier this year and followed it up just this month with Milk Video. Milk Studios, which produces music and other media, asked Samsung to stop using the Milk name for its products in March, but Samsung refused. Milk Studios says Samsung partnered with it on 18 different occasions since 2006, which gave Samsung "personal knowledge" about the company. Milk Studios claims Samsung's use of the name has caused "immediate and irreparable harm," such as business partners assuming Milk Studios was running Milk Music for Samsung. Samsung didn't immediately respond to the lawsuit.
Verizon Wireless has made Android 5.0 Lollipop available to its variant of the Moto X (2nd. gen.). Other carriers made Lollipop available to the Moto X earlier this month. Lollipop is a complete refresh of the OS, including a new design and new features.
T-Mobile today agreed to offer customers a more accurate reading of their data speeds throughout each billng cycle. Earlier this year, T-Mobile exempted certain speed tests from counting against customers' data limits. In other words, customers aren't charged for running most speed tests. As part of its usage policy, T-Mobile throttles the speeds of customers who exceed their monthly data allotment (often down to 128Kbps). The problem, according to the FCC, is that speed test data (even that taken after customers were throttled) most often reflected the absolute speeds available from the network, not the real-world speeds available to individual customers based on their billing status. As a result, customers who had been throttled would obtain speed test results that far exceeded their actual available speeds, which led to confusion. Moving forward, customers who've had their speeds reduced for ovestepping their data will see an accurate reflection of the speeds available to them. Further, T-Mobile agreed to notify customers via SMS when they've reached their data limit, as well as supply customers with a link to provide accurate speed tests. T-Mobile also agreed to make these policies easier to understand on its web site. T-Mobile said it will enact these policies within 60 days.
T-Mobile's Music Unlimited service today doubled the number of music streaming apps available, jumping from 13 to 27 in total. The new services include Google Play Music, Xbox Music, SoundCloud, RadioTunes, Digitally Imported, Fit Radio, Fresco Radio, Jazzradio, Live365, Mad Genius Radio, radioPup, radio.com, Rockradio, and Saavn. With Music Unlimited, T-Mobile customers can stream an unlimited amount of music over their data connection without it counting against their monthly data allotment. T-Mobile claims its customers are streaming 66 million songs -- or 200 terabytes of music -- per day. Music Unlimited already supports Rhapsody, Pandora, AccuRadio, Black Planet, Grooveshark, iHeartRadio, iTunes Radio, Samsung Milk Music, Radio Paradise, Rdio, Slacker, Songza, and Spotify. T-Mobile does not charge extra for Music Unlimited.
Samsung Mobile CEO J.K. Shin may be in danger of losing his job, reports The Wall Street Journal. The company is weighing whether or not it should rearrange its current leadership, and one of the scenarios would see Shin lose oversight of the company's mobile division. Samsung has three co-CEOs, each of whom oversees a different aspect of the business. J.K. Shin leads the mobile device group, B.K. Yoon oversees the appliance and TV businesses, and Kwon Oh-hyun manages the semiconductor and display businesses. The Journal's sources say Shin's responsibilities could be given to Yoon. Samsung's mobile device business is its most profitable, but saw a 60% drop in profits during the third quarter amidst slower-than-expected sales of its smartphones. Samsung conducts an annual review of its leadership towards the end of the calendar year. Samsung has not made a final decision and didn't comment on the Journal's story.
Verizon today added the LG Transpyre to its prepaid lineup. This basic Android phone is essentially the same phone as the LG Tribute offered by Virgin Mobile, except with more memory and a better front camera. The phone has a 4.5-inch display, 5-megapixel main camera, and 1.2 GHz Snapdragon 400 processor. Other features include 4G LTE, a memory card slot, and a removable battery. Verizon is currently offering the Transpyre for $100 with a no-contract prepaid plan.
Motorola today said it will replace a few hundred Nexus 6 handsets sent to some AT&T customers. "We delivered a small number of Nexus 6 smartphones with incorrect software to AT&T customers who pre-ordered," said Motorola in a statement. "The incorrect software prevents the phone from starting up properly. We will provide replacements for consumers whose phones are affected. The problem has been corrected and the phones currently shipping are fine." When asked, Motorola denied that shipments were halted or recalled because of the bug. The issue appears to only affect the AT&T variant of the Nexus 6. "If a consumer sees the 'welcome' after the first time they turn on the phone, then their device isn't affected and they should use it as normal," said Motorola in an email to Phone Scoop. "People can call [Motorola's] customer service if they have questions."
Licenses for AWS-3 spectrum being auctioned off by the FCC are drawing far more interest than the agency hoped. Bids surpassed a total of $31 billion today during the 24th round. The most popular license is a 10x10Mhz slice of J Block spectrum in New York City, which has a current high bid of $1.86 billion. The FCC set a $10.56 billion minimum for the auction, which has generated bidding three times higher than expected. Despite the incredible dollar figures attached to the bids, analysts suggest bids are coming in more slowly, which could signal an end to the auction. At the same time, the FCC said it will vote on the proposed rules for 2016's reverse auction at its next meeting, scheduled for Dec. 11. The reserve auction will see television broadcasters sell their 600MHz spectrum licenses to wireless broadband companies. The rules are fairly complex and have been open for discussion for a lengthy amount of time. The FCC delayed the auction from mid-2015 to early 2016 to give it more time to iron out all the details.
Square founder Jack Dorsey said the company will add support for Apple Pay at Square-based terminals at some point in 2015. Square makes a dongle that attaches to smartphones and tablets, as well as a tablet-based register device, in order to help small businesses use modern tools to expand their customer base. "We're not building a credit card," said Dorsey to CNN. "We're not building a payment device. We're building a [cash] register, and this register accepts all these forms of payments." Apple Pay is accepted at about 220,000 retail locations around the U.S., and just this week became available at Winn-Dixie and Harveys grocery stores. Apple Pay lets iPhone 6 and 6 Plus owners make tap-and-go payments at compatible terminals.
AT&T today announced the immediate availability of the Sonim XP6. The XP6 is a highly rugged Android smartphone that includes buttons and controls like a feature phone. It is certified to mil-spec 810G for protection against drops, vibration, temperature extremes, and humidity. The IP68 rating means it is protected again water and dust intrusion, as well. The XP6 is compatible with AT&T's enhanced PTT service, and has an extremely loud speaker at 103dB. The phone has a 2.64-inch display with 320 x 424 pixels. It runs Android 4.4 KitKat. Specs include a 1.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 400 processor with 1GB of RAM and 8GB of internal storage; 5-megapixel camera with 720p HD video capture; an extra large 4,820mAh battery; and Bluetooth, GPS, LTE, and WiFi radios. AT&T is selling the Sonim XP6 through its business sales channels. The Sonim XP6 is available for $0 down at $17.50 per month on AT&T Next 24; $21.88 on AT&T Next 18; $26.25 on AT&T Next 12; $149.99 with a standard two-year contract; or $524.99 with no commitment. Business and government customers can buy the XP6 for $100 with a two-year contract as long as they also sign up for EPTT service.
Motorola has made new versions of its camera and gallery applications available to the Moto X, Moto G, and Droid Turbo handsets. The camera app gains new timer functions and Material Design. It also adds a way to switch between the user-facing camera and main camera with a double flick of the wrist. Motorola's gallery app was updated with Material Design, but no new features. Both apps are free to download from the Play Store.
Microsoft recently updated its Office apps for Android smartphones and added compatibility with Dropbox. The company announced Dropbox integration for its Office products earlier this month. Android users can now access Dropbox from Office apps to get to their files and folders; edit Office files directly from Dropbox and sync them across devices; and share new or edited files from the Office apps using Dropbox sharing tools. Interested users will need both an Office and a Dropbox account in order to access these tools. Microsoft Office and Dropbox are free to download from the Play Store.
Twitter today revealed a new feature that allows people to send individual tweets to others through direct messages. The feature is being added to both the Android and iOS applications, as well as to Twitter.com. Before today, the only way to share tweets privately was via email or other methods outside of Twitter. Twitter hopes the sharing tool will prevent people from leaving Twitter for other apps. Twitter recently made it possible to send URLs through its direct message tool, as well. It had initially turned off this feature to protect against spam. Twitter also opened its archives for anyone to search. All public tweets stretching back to 2006 can now be discovered.
Google disclosed this week that it has settled a lawsuit filed against it by Rockstar regarding mobile device patents. Rockstar is a patent-holding consortium led by Apple. It outbid Google to acquire thousands of old Nortel patents back in 2011 and filed the lawsuit against Google and others in 2013. Terms of the settlement were not revealed.
Corning today announced Gorilla Glass 4 for mobile devices. Corning said its goal with Gorilla Glass 4 was to address consumers' biggest complaint: screens that crack when dropped. The company developed new methods for dropping devices onto rough, hard surfaces and spent thousands of hours analyzing smartphone glass that had broken in the field. Corning claims Gorilla Glass 4 is twice as strong as any other glass on the market. Moreover, Gorilla Glass 4 can survive 80% of drops from one meter onto hard surfaces, such as asphalt or concrete. Despite the increase in strength, Gorilla Glass 4 is thin and clear, making it ideal for devices such as smartphones. Gorilla Glass 4 is already sampling with select device makers. Corning didn't say when it is expected to reach consumer products.
AT&T recently added an option to its selection of prepaid plans. Splitting the difference between the existing $40 and $60 plans is a new $45 plan. It includes unlimited calling in the U.S. and unlimited messaging. As for data, the plan offers 1GB of high-speed data. Customers who exceed the monthly limit will be throttled down to 128Kbps for the remainder of the billing period. Alternately, customers can purchase another 1GB of data for $10. The $40 plan includes only 500MB of data, while the $60 plan includes 2.5GB. The new $45 GoPhone plan is already available.
Motorola today announced the Keylink, a Bluetooth device meant to help the absent minded find their missing keys or phone. The Keylink can be attached to a key ring and is paired with devices via Motorola's Connect application. Once set up, your keys and phone will be able to find one another should either go missing. For lost phones, Keylink owners need only press a button to make their phone ring. Similarly, for lost keys Keylink owners need only open the Connect app to make the Keylink ring. According to Motorola, the Keylink has a range of about 100 feet, and the replaceable battery lasts about a year. The Motorola Connect app is free to both Android and iOS devices. The Keylink is available from Motorola and T-Mobile beginning today for $25.
T-Mobile today made it less expensive for customers to make calls from the U.S. to select countries abroad. T-Mobile's Stateside International Talk plan allows Simple Choice subscribers to make unlimited calls to landlines in 70 countries for $5 per account (not per line). Alternately, $10 per month buys unlimited calling to mobile phones in more than 30 countries and 1,000 minutes to mobile phones in Mexico, which is in addition to the unlimited landline calling. The promotional pricing is available starting today and runs through the end of the year.
Samsung today announced Milk Video, a video content discovery service for Galaxy-branded smartphones. Like Samsung's Milk Music, Milk Video has a refined user interface that makes browsing the best way to find new and interesting videos. According to Samsung, Milk Video will learn and refine its content recommendations every time people use it to create a more personal experience. Some of the content partners include Condé Nast, Funny Or Die, Red Bull, Vevo, and VICE. Samsung says it is working to score more content down the road. Milk Video is compatible with the Galaxy Note II, 3, 4, and Edge; Galaxy Mega; and Galaxy SIII, S4, S4 Mini, and S5 smartphones. It is free for owners of these devices to download from the Play Store.
Starbucks has begun to deploy wireless charging stations at select coffee shops in the San Francisco Bay Area. The company said 200 stores now offer wireless charging spots on tables and coffee bars. Customers with compatible handsets can place their devices on the spots to receive a power boost while sipping a latte. Starbucks is working with Powermat, which uses the inductive charging standard developed by the Power Matters Alliance. Some phones in the market use the PMA standard for wireless charging, but many do not. Powermat makes a wide array of sleeves and other accessories for devices that don't support wireless charging on their own. Starbucks will allow customers to buy or borrow a special Powermat Ring, which is PMA compliant and plugs into phones via USB. The Powermat Ring costs $10, or can be used for free when purchasing food or beverages. Earlier this year, Starbucks said it will add about a dozen wireless charging stations to each of its 7,500 locations in the U.S., though many of the deployments won't take place until 2015. There are still competing standards in the wireless charging space. Qi, the standard created by the Wireless Power Consortium, still has strong support in some quarters and is supported by a number of phones. Starbucks' wireless charging project is being supported by AT&T, which is a member of the PMA.
Qualcomm today announced a new LTE modem and accompanying envelope tracker for mobile devices that has the potential to deliver blistering download and upload speeds. The Gobi 9x45 modem supports Category 10 LTE and global carrier aggregation for download speeds of up to 450Mbps and upload speeds of up to 100Mbps. Qualcomm says it is up to 1.5 times faster than Category 6 LTE. The modem uses 20nm technology and supports all major cellular standards (GSM, DC-HSPA, CDMA, EVDO) and radio frequency bands. It also supports most major geolocation systems, including GPS, Glonass, and Galileo, as well as LTE Broadcast, VoLTE, and dual SIM LTE. The QEF3100 envelope tracker uses 30% less board area, creates less heat, and is more power efficient. Qualcomm says it will allow device makers to create even thinner designs that perform better. The Gobi 9x45 and QEF3100 are currently sampling with customers and are anticipated to be commercially available in 2015.
Apple was found guilty of violating four patents held by Mobile Telecommunications Technologies. The Texas-based company's heydey was during the 90s, when it operated SkyTel 2-Way pagers. The company sued Apple last year over five patents covering the two-way exchange of data, such as messages and calendar invites. Apple was exonerated of violating a patent pertaining to emoji. Mobile Telecommunications Technologies initially sought $237.2 million. Apple was ordered to pay $23.6 million in damages. Apple didn't immediately comment on the verdict.
Samsung has lost its bid to delay a trial with Microsoft, which is seeking interest payments of $6.9 million on patent licenses. Samsung and Microsoft forged an agreement in 2011 in which Samsung agreed to pay royalties for patents Microsoft holds that are used in the Android operating system. Samsung delayed making its royalty payments after Microsoft announced its intent to acquire Nokia's handset business. According to Samsung, Microsoft's move made it a direct competitor, which it feared could lead to collusion charges. Samsung asked an international court in Hong Kong to hold arbitration hearings, which it wanted to complete before dealing with Microsoft in the U.S. A U.S. District Court Judge disagreed, however, and said Microsoft's case can move forward during the arbitration process.
Apple today released WatchKit, the set of tools developers need in order to create apps for the forthcoming Apple Watch. Apple said developers can create notifications for their apps that appear on the Apple Watch, as well as create Glances (Apple parlance for quick nuggets of app-specific data). The WatchKit tools include programming guides, human interface guidelines, and templates. Apple said that developers will be able to create fully native apps for Apple Watch beginning later next year. The WatchKit developer tools are found within the iOS 8.2 SDK, which is available for download from Apple's developer site beginning today.
Google today made available the first APIs for developers to use in creating Android Auto apps. Initially, developers can target two behaviors with their apps: audio and messaging. Developers will be able to extend the functionality of their music, podcasting, or news apps so the audio can be played back through the car's speakers. Similarly, messaging apps that receive incoming notifications can read new messages aloud in the car, as well as send voice-dictated replies. Google says it is already working with developers of popular music and messaging apps to extend their functionality to Android Auto. In order to use Android Auto apps in a car, the car has to support Android Auto within the infotainment center. So far, only a handful of car manufacturers have said they'll bring Android Auto-compatible vehicles to market. Android Auto will let car owners more easily and safely access phone-based content through their car's dashboard.
FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel today said the government has received bids totaling $12 billion for AWS-3 spectrum licenses. The auction kicked off November 13 with a reserve price of $10.6 billion. Today's revelation means the government has already exceeded its minimum for the auction. At stake are more than 1,600 licenses around the country covering 65MHz of AWS-3 spectrum. The FCC didn't say how long it expects the bidding to continue. AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless are among 70 entities approved to participate in the auction.
Bi-Lo Holdings, the parent company of Winn-Dixie, Harveys, and BI-LO grocery stores, today said Apple iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus owners can use Apple Pay at most of its locations across the southeast. Winn-Dixie, Harveys, and BI-LO stores are available in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee. Bi-Lo didn't specify exactly how many stores are involved. Apple Pay uses an NFC radio embedded in the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus that is connected to a credit card for making payments at contactless terminals. Apple Pay is accepted at about 220,000 locations around the U.S.
Microsoft today announced that Opera Software will soon provide the default app store for older Nokia handsets. Beginning in the first quarter of 2015, the Opera Mobile Store will replace the Nokia Store on devices running the Series 40, Series 60, Symbian, Asha, and Nokia X operating systems. The Nokia Store itself will close once all handsets are transitioned to the Opera Mobile Store, which is expected to be complete by July 2015. According to Opera, it has over 300,000 applications for Nokia's legacy devices. Old apps are updated often, and Opera says its 40,000 developers constantly produce new apps, too. Microsoft purchased Nokia's handset business earlier this year. It has committed to selling entry-level feature phones, but would rather concentrate on managing one app store (the Windows Phone Store) instead of two.
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