Microsoft today revealed Garage, a collective of Microsoft employees that is encouraged to tinker with apps and services for a wide range of platforms and products. Microsoft describes the Garage as "a community of interns, employees, and teams from everywhere in the company who come together to turn our wild ideas into real projects." Along with its public unveiling, Microsoft announced several Android apps created within the Garage that are available from the Play Store today. For example, Torque is an app for Android Wear that lets owners of such devices twist their arm to launch Bing (not Google) Voice Search. Another, Next Lock Screen, lets Android device owners see their missed calls, messages, and calendar appointments without unlocking their device. The apps are free to download starting today. Microsoft indicated more apps and products may emerge from the Garage, not just for Android, but for iOS, Windows Phone, and Windows, too.
Members of Congress have responded to comments made by FBI Director James Comey regarding security measurers Apple and Google have added to their respective mobile operating systems. Both iOS 8 and Android 5.0 use encryption by default to protect user data from spying. The FBI doesn't like this. Comey last week asked Congress to pass legislation that would force smartphone makers to provide a back door into smartphones for law enforcement purposes. Congress has spoken up. "I think the public would not support it, certainly industry would not support it, civil liberties groups would not support it," said Rep. Zoe Lofgren in a statement provided to The Hill. "I think [Comey is] a sincere guy, but there's just no way this is going to happen." Senator Ron Wyden offered similar thoughts. "I'd be surprised if more than a handful of members would support the idea of backdooring Americans' personal property." Representative Darrell Issa added, "To FBI Director Comey and the [administration] on criticisms of legitimate businesses using encryption: you reap what you sow." Congress believes the American public is inherently distrustful of law enforcement's data collection techniques after the revelations made by Edward Snowden. FBI Director Comey wants Congress to update 1994 legislation called the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act, which required phone companies to make it easy for law enforcement to tap calls. The Electronic Frontier Foundation points out, however, that CALEA already protects encryption measures put into place by companies. The law states companies "shall not be responsible for decrypting, or ensuring the government's ability to decrypt, any communication encrypted by a subscriber or customer." The Hill suggests the FBI isn't going to simply drop the matter and will continue its push for broader access to smartphones.
Twitter today pushed out an update to its Vine application for iOS devices. The app has been optimized for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus screens, and adds support for extensions in iOS 8. The new share extension makes it simpler to share Vines with other people and /or social networks from within the app itself, or within other apps. The app also added a button for quicker channel following. Vine for iOS is free to download from the iTunes App Store. Vine is a video-based social network that lets people record and post short clips.
Google today pushed out an update to its Play Music service that adds new, curated play lists. The refreshed service gains its tools from Songza, which Google purchased over the summer. Play Music now offers a playlist- and song-recommendation engine that uses variables such as the time of day and location to cultivate selections. Google says users of the app will be prompted to play music for a time of day, mood, or activity. Each station has been created by real people to make sure they truly match the mood or activity at hand. Users can download stations for offline playback, see upcoming song selections, and add, remove, or reorder tracks on a whim. Google also updated its Listen Now web site to make it easier to discover and listen to new music. Last, Google Play Music now wears the Material Design look that Google is putting on most of its apps. The new Google Play Music app is available to Android and iOS devices, as well as on the web.
Microsoft indicated that it is prepared to drop the Nokia brand from its line of Windows Phones. Moving forward, the company will use the Microsoft Lumia name to refer to its phone hardware. Microsoft purchased Nokia's handset division earlier this year, but Nokia still exists as a separate company selling HERE Maps and telecommunications gear. Microsoft could not continue to use the Nokia brand indefinitely. Microsoft has already rebranded many of the old Nokia apps with the Lumia name, and told The Verge that it plans to begin rebranding its remaining Nokia properties in the weeks ahead.
Nokia today announced its HERE Maps app is now available to a wider range of smartphones. The company offered HERE Maps only to Samsung handsets earlier this month. Now, most devices running Android 4.1 Jelly Bean and up with 1GB of RAM can install and use HERE Maps. The app, which is being offered as a beta, cannot be found in the Google Play Store. Instead, anyone interested in using HERE Maps on their Android handset will need to download the app directly from Nokia's web site and sideload it onto their device. HERE Maps offers a number of compelling features. For example. HERE Maps allows users to download entire countries or regions, which makes the maps available even when the device is offline. Downloaded maps perform faster when panning and zooming since new segments don't need to be loaded from an internet connection. HERE Maps for Android devices include free, voice-guided, turn-by-turn directions. Users can plan routes via car, public transport, or foot. Live traffic updates and real-time transit schedules require a data connection. Nokia says maps are available for about 200 countries with turn-by-turn directions available in about 100. Transit maps are available in 750 metro areas across 40 different countries, with more being added all the time.
Qualcomm Atheros, a subsidiary of Qualcomm, today unveiled new Wi-Fi products that promise to boost performance for a range of consumer electronics. The company added the QCA9377 chip to its 802.11ac 2.0 ecosystem, which Qualcomm says brings the benefits of multi-user multi-input/multi-output (MU-MIMO) to mobile devices. The benefits of MU-MIMO include better support for multiple devices on the same hotspot, as well as better use of capacity. MU-MIMO is already being deployed inside consumer-grade Wi-Fi hotspots. The QCA9377 is the mobile device complement and can improve speeds by up to three times. The QCA9377 is a combo chip that also includes Bluetooth 4.1. Qualcomm said a company called AVM is among the first to deploy its MU-MIMO technology, but it expects mobile devices makers to follow in the months ahead once it ramps up production of the QCA9377.
T-Mobile today made a system update available to the HTC One (M8) that adds the Eye Experience software. The Eye Experience includes new camera features, such as split camera, crop me in, and improved face tracking. These features are central to the Desire Eye handset, which has an 8-megapixel user-facing camera. The Desire Eye is not yet for sale, but T-mobile's HTC One customers can enjoy the camera tools today after installing the update.
Apple today released iOS version 8.1. The system update, for iPhones and iPads, activates Apple Pay and fixes a number of bugs. Apply Pay is Apple's mobile payment system. It makes use of the NFC radio and Touch ID sensor on the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus to enable tap-and-go payments at participating retailers. iPads can use Apple Pay to make in-app purchases. iOS 8.1 also provides access to iCloud Photo Library beta, and adds support for SMS messaging on the iPad and Mac computers. iOS 8.1 is free to download over the air.
Sprint recently disclosed another round of job cuts, this time impacting its Kansas City headquarters. The company said it reduced its headcount by 452 people, mostly in the IT and administration aspect of the company. The cuts are in addition to workforce reductions the company put in place earlier this year. Sprint's headcount is now fewer than 33,000. It ended 2013 with 38,000 employees. Job cuts impacting the company's Kansas City operations number more than 900 as Sprint seeks to reduce costs and increase efficiency. The company said more cuts are on the way, but most of them should be acted upon by the end of the month. Sprint appointed a new CEO, Marcelo Claure, in August. Claure has stepped up efforts to streamline the company's operations.
RadioShack today said its has increased the footprint of its Fix It Here service to 26 stores in and around Chicago. Consumers with broken or damaged smartphones and tablets can take their device to RadioShack, where select problems can be repaired. RadioShack's on-site technicians are trained to repair cracked screens, water damage, broken charging ports, broken buttons, camera issues, audio issues, and batteries. According to RadioShack, repairs start at $40 and most take under two hours to complete. RadioShack said if phones cannot be repaired, it will suggest alternatives from its line of hardware. Fix It Here is available at 500 RadioShack locations, and the company is on target to reach 750 locations by the end of the year. RadioShack recently scored a huge influx of capital to prevent the company from going under.
AT&T today announced the pending launch of the Galaxy Mega 2, a new version of Samsung's low-cost phablet. The Mega 2 features a 6-inch HD screen with a reduced bezel to help keep the footprint as small as possible. The phone adopts the design language of Samsung's Note series, to a certain degree, as well as the Note's split-screen multitasking, but the Mega 2 doesn't include a stylus. The phone has an 8-megapixel main camera with flash, a user-facing camera, Samsung's Private Mode, and Samsung's battery management software. The device has a quad-core processor and a 2,880mAh battery. The Mega 2 runs Android with Samsung's TouchWiz user interface. The Galaxy Mega 2 costs $475 at full retail, or can be purchased for $19.80 per month with AT&T Next 18, $23.75 per month with Next 12, or $150 with a new two-year contract. AT&T is still offering a $100 bill credit when customers activate a new or existing line with its AT&T Next plans. The device reaches stores October 24.
Microsoft today issued an update to its Skype app for Windows Phone 8 and 8.1. The app has been refreshed with several new features, the foremost of which is the ability to create drawings within messages. Users can create their own pictures with the drawing tool, or annotate existing images and Bing Maps. The update makes it possible for users to select between their Microsoft account and their Skype account more easily. The app also improves resume times and adds support for HD screens. Skype for Windows Phone is free to download from the Windows Store.
Nokia today released an update to its Creative Studio photo editing app and added several features. First and foremost, Nokia returned Color Pop back to Creative Studio. Color Pop allows Lumia owners to turn their photos black and white with only select colors highlighted. The app also adds new support for PNG files and screenshots, and locks photos rotated 90 degrees to the new orientation. Creative Studio 6.3, which is an extensive on-device photo editor, is free for Lumia devices to download from the Windows Phone Store.
Spotify today announced family plans, a cheaper way to let family members enjoy the music streaming service on their mobile devices. The Spotify Family Plan allows each member of a family -- up to five people -- to create their own account with their own playlists, favorites, and devices. Each account has access to ad-free and offline music playback and other Spotify Premium features. The main account still costs $10 per month, but each additional account costs only $5 to add. So a family with five accounts would cost $30 per month. Spotify said the Spotify Family Plan will be rolled out globally over the coming weeks.
BlackBerry today announced several forthcoming features for BBM that take a page from ephemeral messaging app SnapChat. The first new feature is called Time Messages. With Timed Messages, users can select how long a message is visible to the recipient (between 1 second and 15 seconds). The message can also be set to disappear once the recipient takes their finger off the message. According to BlackBerry, it can't prevent screenshots of Timed Messages, but it will alert the sender if one was taken before the message expires. The second feature is called Message Retraction and it allows BBM users to delete messages they've sent from the phones of others. According to BlackBerry, this feature works with text messages only and not those that include pictures. Further, only messages in one-on-one chats can be retracted. Messages cannot be retracted from Group conversations, nor can messages be retracted if they've been forwarded to other phones. According to BlackBerry, these features are being tested in a limited BBM beta for Android and BlackBerry. Timer and Retract will be available in the 2.5 release of BBM for iPhone, Android, and BlackBerry 10 in the near future.
Microsoft today said it has added several features to Cortana, the voice-activated assistant built into Windows Phone 8.1. One of the new capabilities is called Daily Glance Evening Edition. At the end of each day, Cortana will show users the travel time to home and upcoming items on their calendar. Cortana will also begin to offer concert recommendations within 100 miles of the phone's location based on the owner's artists and Bing searches. Cortana will now more actively create and make available cards with flight information based on travel itineraries and Bing searches. Last, Bing adds location-based app recommendations. For example, Cortana might suggest visitors to Disney World in Florida download the Disney Expedition App. Some of these features need to be turned on in Cortana's Notebook before they'll function.
The FCC today opened a notice of inquiry that will see the agency begin to explore next-generation wireless networks. The FCC is hoping to use spectrum above 24GHz for new wireless networks. This spectrum, sometimes referred to as millimeter waves, has long been regarded as ill-suited for wireless networking use due to its short-range and line-of-site propagation characteristics. However, the densely packed waves can hold large volumes of data, or 1,000 times more than current-generation technology can, according to the FCC. The FCC plans to study the technical needs of making this spectrum useful and the potential regulatory regime needed to oversee it. The move comes as 4G LTE networks are in their final stages of being built in the U.S. The FCC knows it needs to find new ways to meet the crushing demand for capacity. "How do we meet these demands?" asked Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel. "We look up. Way, way, up. To infinity and beyond."
Google today made available several significant tools for developers ahead of the general release of Android 5.0 Lollipop. First, Google released updated developer images for the Nexus 5, Nexus 7 (2013), ADT-1, and the Android emulator. Developers can install these near-final builds of Android 5.0 on their hardware and use them for testing purposes. Google also updated the software developers kit for Android 5.0. The Android 5.0 SDK includes improved tools that allow app writers to develop against the latest Android platform using API level 21. It also lets developers take advantage of the updated support library to implement Material Design on smartphones and tablets, as well as the leanback user interface for Android TV apps. The preview images and SDK can be downloaded through Google's Android developer portal.
Pantech's U.S. operations filed for Chapter 15 bankruptcy today, following similar legal moves in the company's home market of Korea. The company has been in receivership since August and put itself up for sale last month. Chapter 15 bankruptcy is reserved for organizations that need to protect themselves when their international parent company becomes insolvent. Pantech has been trying to restructure its debt all year, but has so far failed to do so. It believes it can get about $366 million by selling off the entire company. If there are any bids for the failing phone maker, they have not yet been made public.
Sprint and Kyocera today announced the Torque XT, a minor update to the original Torque. The two updates include compatibility with Sprint's Direct Connect walkie-talkie service, and the improvement on onboard storage to 20GB. Otherwise, all the features are the same as the original Torque. The XT has a mil-spec rating of 810G for protection against shock, temperature extremes, solar radiation, and vibration. It has an IP rating of 67, which means it can sit in one meter of water for up to 30 minutes, as well as spend the day in the sand on the beach. The device includes standard Kyocera features, such as the Sonic Smart Receiver for phone calls, and MaxiMZR and Eco Mode for managing battery life. The Torque XT has a 4-inch WVGA screen, 1.2GHz dual-core Snapdragon processor with 1GB of RAM, 5-megapixel main camera, and a 1.3-megapixel user-facing camera. The phone includes WiFi, GPS, NFC, and Bluetooth 4.0, and runs on Sprint's LTE network. The device is based on Android 4.4.2 KitKat and includes an array of business-friendly features, such as support for VPNs, mobile device management suites, and Exchange ActiveSync. The Kyocera Torque XT is available today via most Sprint sales channels. Sprint is asking for $0 down followed by 24 payments of $15 with Sprint Easy Pay.
Verizon Wireless this week altered the terms of its Edge service plans so customers will now have to pay off more of their device before they can upgrade. Verizon Edge is the company's monthly installment option. Under the old system, customers could upgrade after 12 months or once they've paid 60% of the handset's cost. Under the new system, customers have to wait 18 months or pay off 75% of their handset's cost before they can upgrade. Because it is increasing the number of monthly payments, Verizon is decreasing the amount of each monthly payment by $5. Verizon has also changed the cost of its single-line plans. Verizon is now asking for $75 per month for unlimited talk/text and 2GB of data. The same plan used to cost $60. Now, $60 buys 1GB of data and unlimited talk/text. The changes went into effect October 16.
FBI Director James Comey has again voiced his displeasure with the new encryption tools added to Android 5.0 Lollipop and iOS 8. Both Google and Apple added the default encryption to their mobile operating systems in order to protect user data. Comey says this is an impediment to law enforcement, making it more difficult -- if not impossible -- to intercept real-time communication, such as phone calls and text messages. Comey said more and more criminals are turning to technology to hide or enable their unlawful activities. He beseeched Congress to create legislation that will require tech companies to provide back-door access to encrypted communications between suspected criminals. The American Civil Liberties Union disagrees. "Any effort by the FBI to weaken encryption leaves our highly personal information and our business information vulnerable to hacking by foreign governments and criminals," said ACLU director Laura Murphy. Congress has not responded publicly to Comey's comments.
Twitter today announced a change to its service that will, in effect, add tweets to users' timelines from people they don't follow. Twitter has since the beginning allowed users to pick who they follow, leaving people in complete control of their timeline and experience. Twitter now believes that users are missing out on tweets they might find interesting. "Testing indicated that most people enjoy seeing Tweets from accounts they may not follow, based on signals such as activity from accounts you do follow, the popularity of the Tweets, and how people in your network interact with them," explained Twitter. Beginning today, users can expect to see curated tweets in their timeline that come from accounts they don't actively follow.
Twitter today announced a new feature that will allow users of its Android and iOS apps to listen to music/sound clips directly from their timeline. According to Twitter, the new Twitter Audio Card can be docked and allow users to listen to the songs or clips even as they continue to browse through their timeline. SoundCloud is the first third-party company to add support for the Audio Card, but Twitter said it expects to add more services over time. Twitter hopes more parters, artists, and creators will adopt the feature for sharing purposes. The feature is free to use within the Android and iOS versions of Twitter. Twitter didn't say if or when the feature might reach other platforms, such as Windows Phone.
Transit Wireless and the New York City Metropolitan Transit Authority today said more New York City residents will gain access to cellular service when using the subway. To start, Transit Wireless has completed Phase 2 of the project, which means 11 new stations in Manhattan and 29 stations in Queens are now connected with cellular and Wi-Fi service. Phase 3 will add service to Flushing Main Street Station in Queens, as well as stations in Lower Manhattan, West Harlem, and Washington Heights throughout 2015. Transit Wireless' project has seven phases in total, which will eventually bring connectivity to all 277 subway stations in New York by 2017. Wireless service is available from AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless.
Apple today revealed the iPad Air 2, and along with it a new way to handle SIM cards. According to Apple, the new Apple SIM gives iPad Air 2 owners unprecedented flexibility when it comes to choosing an LTE service provider. "Whenever you need it, you can choose the plan that works best for you -- with no long-term commitment," explained Apple. "And when you travel, you may also be able to choose a data plan from a local carrier for the duration of your trip." The multi-carrier SIM is compatible with AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile in the U.S., as well as EE in the U.K. The iPad Air 2 supports 20 different LTE bands, similar to the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. The carriers named by Apple have not yet discussed the particulars regarding no-contract data plans. There's no word on why Verizon Wireless isn't included in the list of U.S. carriers. It's possible that the Apple SIM will find its way to future Apple products, including its iPhones.
Sony today committed to updating a wide range of its smartphones and tablets to Android 5.0 Lollipop. Some of the handsets slated for Android 5.0 include the Xperia Z, ZL, Z1, Z1S, Z1 Ultra, Z1 Compact, Z2, Z3, Z3v, and Z3 Compact. Sony says its Google Play Edition devices will receive Lollipop first, followed by the Z3 and Z2 series devices in early 2015.
Apple today revealed details about iOS 8.1, an update to its smartphone and tablet platform. iOS 8.1 targets numerous bugs that have caused issues for iPhone and iPad owners since its debut, such as connectivity and crashing. As far as new features, iOS 8.1 adds support for Apple Pay and includes the public beta of iCloud Photo Library for sharing photos. The update also brings back the camera roll within the photo application. Apple said iOS 8.1 will be available for download beginning Monday, October 20.
Apple today announced that Apple Pay will go live Monday, October 20. Apple Pay is Apple's NFC-based mobile payment service. The service hooks into iPhone owners' iTunes accounts and the associated credit cards. Apple Pay will also (eventually) work with cards issued by more than 500 banks across 220,000 locations operated by dozens of retailers. Apple Pay is limited to the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus due to their embedded NFC radios. Apple Pay also works on the web, and can be used to make purchases from select online services.
AT&T has ceased offering a discount on the Beats Music subscription service. Since early this year, the carrier offered access to the streaming service for $15 per month for families with up to five lines and 10 devices. The discounted price is no longer available through AT&T. "There haven't been any changes for AT&T customers who currently have the Beats Music family plan or who are within the free trial period," said AT&T spokesman Mark Siegel to FierceWireless. "New subscribers can still get Beats Music through their app store or at beatsmusic.com." Apple closed its acquisition of Beats Music earlier this year and the service's fate has been undefined since then. The $10 monthly subscription to the service is still available.
HP recently indicated that it will cease all backend support for WebOS devices on January 15. After that time, WebOS device owners will no longer be able to download or update apps, reset or restore their devices, setup new devices, or retrieve lost passwords. According to HP, the web services shut down will not disable existing hardware. HP recommends that WebOS device owners download any apps they may want to keep prior to November 1, 2014. "Shutting down webOS cloud services is part of an orderly end of life program," explained HP. "HP announced the end of WebOS devices over 3 years ago, but the services were kept running to allow customers to continue to have a richer user experience. The user count has dwindled to the point where it is no longer viable to keep the services running." HP acquired WebOS when it bought Palm in 2010. HP killed its Palm hardware business in 2011 and has since open-sourced WebOS. LG eventually purchased WebOS from HP, which it uses in select consumer electronics.
Samsung today announced the Exynos 7 Octa, a new application processor manufactured with Samsung's 20nm processes. The Exynos 7 Octa uses a big.LITTLE configuration with two banks of four cores each. One bank uses Cortex A57s for high-intensity calculations and the other uses Cortex A53s for low-intensity calculations. Samsung says this setup allows the Exynos 7 to deliver a 57% improvement in efficiency when compared to the older Exynos 5. The chip supports WQHD and WQXGA displays, and can push UHD content to TV sets. The processor can handle dual-camera 1080p HD video capture on devices equipped with front- and rear-facing cameras. The Exynos 7 includes the ARM Mali T-760 GPU, which Samsung says delivers a 74% improvement in 3D graphics performance. Samsung did not immediately say when the Exynos 7 Octa will reach consumer devices.
Facebook recently announced Safety Check, a service allowing people affected by natural disasters and other situations to indicate they are all right. The service works automatically, to a certain degree. For example, if a natural disaster occurs, Facebook will create an event for that disaster, such as an earthquake or hurricane. All Facebook users in the affected area will receive an alert on their smartphone from Facebook asking if they are safe. Facebook will locate people and alert them based on what's listed as their home town, where they've marked themselves in the Friends Nearby tool, or the point from which they are accessing the internet. Options will allow Facebookers to tell Safety Check they are safe or aren't in the affected region. The tool will then generate a status update so that particular person's family and friends can see they are safe. People will be able to mark friends as safe, as well, and people will automatically receive updates from friends/family who've indicated they are safe. The service is free to use.
Facebook and Twitter today both pushed out updates to their iOS applications. The Facebook app has been updated with support for the screens of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. Twitter has been updated with several bug fixes and other improvements. Both apps are free to download from the iTunes App Store.
Google today said Android 5.0 Lollipop, which will ship on the Nexus 6, Nexus 9, and Nexus Player, will be made available to the Nexus 5, 7, 10, and Google Play edition devices in the coming weeks. Motorola also said it will update many of its devices to Android 5.0 Lollipop, including the Moto X (1st Gen and 2nd Gen), Moto G, Moto E, as well as the Droid Ultra, Droid Maxx, and Droid Mini. Timing on the updates is not available.
Google today announced Android 5.0 Lollipop and with it the first few devices to run the new operating system, the Nexus 6 and the Nexus 9. The Nexus 6 is a large-screened smartphone made by Motorola. It has an aluminum frame and a 6-inch quad HD display with a 13-megapixel main camera. The camera includes optical image stabilization and HDR+ for improved low-light shots. The device has stereo-speakers with high-fidelity sound and comes with a turbo charger for fast charging. Google claims the device can get up to six hours of battery time after plugging it in for just 15 minutes. The Nexus 6 will be available for pre-order in late October and in stores in November. Google will sell an unlocked version through the Play Store, and the Nexus 6 will also be sold by AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, and Verizon Wireless. The device costs $649 at full retail, which is $200 more than the Nexus 5. The Nexus 9 tablet is made by HTC and features an 8.9-inch 2048 x 1536 screen with a brushed aluminum design. It is run by a dual-core Tegra K1 64-bit processor with each core clocked at 2.3GHz. Other features include an 8.0-/1.6-megapixel camera configuration; BoomSound speakers; dual-band Wi-Fi, NFC, Bluetooth 4.0, and LTE; and a 6,700mAh battery. The Nexus 9 will be available for pre-order on October 17 and in stores starting November 3. The Wi-Fi model starts at $399.
Google today said the next version of Android, which it has so far referred to only as Release L, will be called Android 5.0 Lollipop. Google previewed Lollipop earlier this year and has offered it in beta form to developers for several months. It includes a refreshed look and feel that Google calls Material Design. Google has been slowly updating the core Android apps with Material Design over the last few weeks. In Lollipop, Google has re-envisioned the lock screen to incorporate more of the notifications, as well as the ability to automatically unlock the device when a trusted wearable is nearby. Lollipop will also offer a new keyboard design. Moving forward, Lollipop will rely on the ART runtime engine instead of Dalvik, which has served for several years. Google says ART offers a two-times improvement in app performance across the platform. ART is also more memory efficient, and is optimized 64-bit processing. The platform includes the Android Extension Pack to improve graphics performance. Google took time to improve the platform's efficiency, too. Project Volta, for example, took aim at helping OEMs and developers improve battery life by more optimizing their apps. Further, Lollipop adds its own Battery Saver tool to help extend the life of a battery when it reaches critical levels. Lollipop builds in more malware protection and ways for Android users to secure their device and make sure apps are scanned for safety. For example, Google is adding a kill switch to Lollipop, which allows device owners to remotely disable their handset if it is lost or stolen. Android 5.0 Lollipop will be available on the Nexus 6 smartphone and Nexus 9 tablet when they debut later this year.
Microsoft today made Skype 5.6 available for the iPhone. The updated app now supports the screen size and resolution of all iPhone models, including the newer iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. Skype says the app displays more of your recent chats and shows more messages in conversation view on the larger iPhones. Skype 5.6 for iOS is free to download from the iTunes App Store.
Qualcomm today announced that it has agreed to acquire CSR for about $2.5 billion in cash. CSR, based in the U.K., develops technologies and products for what's referred to as the Internet of Things, as well as for the automotive and infotainment sectors. Qualcomm said the acquisition will help it expand its existing IoT and automotive businesses, as well as allow it to reach more potential customers. CSR invented and owns the technology behind the aptX Bluetooth profile, which improves the quality of stereo Bluetooth music playback. The deal is subject to regulatory and shareholder approval.
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