Verizon Wireless today updated its go90 video app and will allow customers to stream all the go90 content they want over LTE without it impacting their data bucket. The go90 app is making use of Verizon's FreeBee Data 360 sponsored data service, which Verizon launched last month. The go90 app includes music, sports, TV shows, original series, and live concerts. Verizon says go90 version 1.4 is available in the Google Play Store and Apple App Store. Verizon's foray into zero-rating go90 follows similar behavior from T-Mobile, which allows customers to stream music and video content from select partners without pulling from their monthly data allotment.
Verizon Wireless today increased the appeal of its prepaid plans by adding in a bit more data. The company offers two main Verizon-branded prepaid plans. The first costs $45 per month and includes up to 2 GB of data, while the second costs $60 and includes up to 5 GB. Customers who choose to enroll in auto-pay can score an extra 1 GB, which increases the $45 plan to 3 GB total and the $60 plan to 6 GB total. Both plans include unlimited talk and text in the U.S., as well as unlimited texting to Canada and Mexico.
Yahoo has announced plans to explore strategic options for its internet business, which has struggled to turn a profit in recent years. The company said it plans to improve consumer and advertiser product quality while also increasing the number of daily users. It is also looking to chop expenses, and will do so by reducing its workforce by 15%, or about 1,600 employees. Yahoo believes it can trim $400 in expenses by the end of the year. Importantly, Yahoo said it will "explore non-strategic asset divestitures that, if consummated, could generate in excess of $1 billion in cash." Yahoo said it is committed to its Yahoo Mail, Search, and Tumblr businesses, as well as its News, Sports, Finance, and Lifestyle verticals in select markets. Yahoo did not mention Flickr, its photo-sharing and -storing service, in its restructuring plans and its fate is unclear. Yahoo said it will "invest in features and experiences that engage users as both consumers and creators of content, encouraging them to do more with, and therefore spend more time on, the Yahoo network." Yahoo believes its mobile search business has the most potential to improve growth and financial performance. Yahoo did not explicitly put its internet business up for sale, but such a move is likely on the table with whatever other options are being considered. Verizon and private equity firms have expressed interest in acquiring some or all of Yahoo's internet assets, but none has made a formal offer.
The FCC is allowing Verizon and Qualcomm to move forward with limited tests of LTE in unlicensed spectrum bands generally reserved for WiFi. Specifically, the companies are being allowed to perform small-scale tests at two Verizon facilities, one in Oklahoma City, Okla., and the other in Raleigh, N.C. Verizon, Qualcomm, and other companies in the cellular industry believe using LTE-U, rather than WiFi, in unlicensed spectrum can lead to better use of those airwaves for connecting devices. The WiFi Alliance and other companies in the WiFi industry believe LTE-U may result in interference and are interested in protecting what they view as their turf. The purpose of the LTE-U tests is to determine how well the technology works, and to gauge any potential for interference. "The success of the unlicensed bands as laboratories of innovation is largely the result of industry-driven coordination and we believe that this development is an encouraging step in continuing that success," said the FCC. The agency said there are many steps to complete before it will allow LTE-U to reach consumer devices, which will need to be tested and certified as safe just as all other wireless devices are tested. Verizon and Qualcomm are expected to share the results of their testing with the FCC for further evaluation.
Sprint says it has a new strategy in mind for its prepaid brand Virgin Mobile. During a call with analysts today, Sprint execs said the company is de-emphasizing Virgin at the moment in favor of Boost Mobile, and has gone so far as to pull Virgin advertising ahead of a the new strategy's debut. Sprint did not say what it plans to do with Virgin, though it did admit it is not pursuing the pre-paid space as aggressively as rivals Cricket and MetroPCS. "You've got to figure out where do you want to fight and where do you want to grow," said CEO Marcelo Claure. "We are keeping the customers that matter." Claure also took the opportunity to reassure investors and customers that its network improvement plan will not be disruptive. "This is not a rip-and-replace strategy," said Claure, calling the implementation a "progressive build" that will make changes for the better. The company is expected to relocate some cell towers and make greater use of small/macro cells to densify its network. It may also shift some backhaul operations to microwave in order to cut down the fiber carriage fees it pays to AT&T and Verizon. Claure still believes Sprint can become the No. 1 or No. 2 network in terms of absolute performance in 80% of the country's markets within two years.
Dozens of consumer action groups have petitioned the FCC to install regulations that would protect the privacy of the nation's wired and wireless broadband users. The groups believe broadband providers — including AT&T, Cablevision, Comcast, Verizon, and others — should be subject to tough privacy standards. These companies already collect an incredible amount of data from customers in order to serve ads. "This can create a chilling effect on speech and increase the potential for discriminatory practices derived from data use," said the groups in their letter to the FCC. Some of the signees include the ACLU, Center for Digital Democracy, Consumer Watchdog, Electronic Frontier Foundation, and Public Citizen. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler agrees that broadband providers need to secure any consumer data they collect, and should make sure consumers know what is being collected and give them the choice whether or not to participate. Late last year, however, the FCC shot down a proposal that would have forced companies to honor "do not track" requests. The FCC did not immediately comment on the group's letter.
Verizon Wireless today revealed FreeBee Data, a program that will allow consumers to access select data without it counting against their monthly data bucket. The program has two business models, according to Verizon, and both target content providers more so than end users. FreeBee Data 360 allows content providers to let consumers access some of all of their app/web content at no cost to the consumer. The content providers will be charged on a per gigabyte basis for what consumers use. The second tier, called FreeBee Data, is less intensive and lets content providers sponsor specific consumer actions per click, such as streaming music or watching mobile videos. Verizon is launching FreeBee Data 360 on a trial basis beginning today, which allows content providers to target Verizon's entire post-paid customer base. The FreeBee Data program kicks of January 25. Verizon says a few brands have already signed up for this pay-per-click service, including Hearst, AOL, and Gameday. Verizon is limiting tests of this to just 1,000 customers initially, with a commercial launch expected later in the year. Sponsored content will be signified by the presence of the FreeBee icon (a bee), which will appear next to content links. AT&T has a more limited of sponsored data available to its customers, and T-Mobile offers zero-rated access to select streaming music and video services though its Music Freedom and Binge On programs.
Verizon Wireless today revealed the LG Optimus Zone 3, an inexpensive Android handset for those who prefer prepaid services. This simple smartphone picks up where the 2014 Zone 2 left off. It has a 4.5-inch screen, 1.1 GHz quad-core processor with 32 GB of storage, 5-megapixel main camera, and 2-megapixel user-facing camera. The camera app includes LG's Gesture Shot and the selfie camera has a dedicated flash to help illuminate those self portraits. The LG Optimus Zone 3 runs Android 5.1 Lollipop and is available beginning today for $69.99
Bullitt today announced the Cat S50c, a new rugged smartphone that's compatible with Verizon's network in the U.S. The S50c has been certified by Verizon for its LTE 4G network, but is being sold online. The S50c has earned a mil-spec 810g rating for protection against drops and abuse, and an IP67 rating for protection against liquid and dust. It can sit in 3.3 feet of water for up to 30 minutes. The 4.7-inch HD Gorilla Glass display supports wet finger and glove tracking, so it can be used in the rain or snow. The phone has a 1.2 GHz quad-core processor with 1 GB of RAM and 8 GB of storage. It supports memory cards up to 64 GB. Cat says the 2,630mAh battery provides a full day of use. It can support PTT services if enabled through Verizon. The phone is being sold by Cat, Amazon.com, Home Depot, Ingram Micro, and authorized Verizon resellers. The Cat S50c costs $399.99.
Today marks the deadline for companies planning to participate in the upcoming reverse auction to file their applications. The FCC will accept entries until the end of the day. In February, the agency will release a tutorial for participants to learn how to bid in the auction, and the auction itself will begin March 29. Television broadcasters are being encouraged to offer up their 600MHz spectrum, which will in turn be auctioned off to wireless companies. T-Mobile, AT&T, and Verizon are expected to participate, though Sprint will sit the auction out. The National Association of Broadcasters commended the FCC on its hard work. "NAB expects robust broadcaster participation in the reverse auction, and we hope to see similarly robust participation from wireless bidders in the forward auction," said NAB Executive Vice President of Communications Dennis Wharton. The FCC expects the auction will take several months to complete.
AT&T today said new and existing customers can once again select an unlimited data mobile plan — as long as they are also a customer of AT&T-owned DirecTV or U-Verse. The unlimited plan includes unlimited LTE 4G, unlimited voice, and unlimited messaging. The first line costs $100 per month, with the second and third lines costing $40 each. Adding a fourth line would be free. Other devices may be added to the unlimited plan as well, such as tablets ($40), watches ($10), and feature phones ($25). AT&T says the unlimited plan is "the first of many integrated video and mobility offers the company plans to announce in 2016." AT&T's television customers who aren't yet wireless customers are eligible to receive up to $500 in credits when switching to AT&T with a trade-in. On the flip side, AT&T wireless customers who aren't already television customers can receive discounted service for the first year. AT&T and Verizon Wireless haven't offered unlimited data plans for several years, preferring instead to sell customers buckets of data access. T-Mobile and Sprint still offer unlimited data packages, but have raised prices in recent months. AT&T didn't say if the new unlimited plan is a permanent addition to its offering, or a limited promotion.
Sprint will continue to offer AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless customers a 50% reduction in service plan costs if they switch to Sprint. The promotion, first introduced in November, was set to expire January 8 and now runs through February 11. Sprint is also offering up to $650 per line to reimburse ETFs and other fees for those who port their number to Sprint. Sprint said the promotion has been well received by consumers, which is why it extended the program.
BlackBerry today said Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless have all agreed to sell the Priv smartphone. T-Mobile's variant launches January 26. Sprint and Verizon haven't yet set sales dates. The Priv is already available from AT&T. The carrier deals are a major win for BlackBerry, which claims demand for the Android-powered device is robust.
WeBoost and SureCall both used CES as an opportunity to show off new cell signal boosters. Both products work in a similar fashion: they collect cell signals from nearby cell towers, amplify them, and rebroadcast them within the home to improve coverage and signal strength. Each has two components — an antenna that is aimed at a cell tower and a broadcaster for supplying in-home coverage. WeBoost's product is called the eqo and resembles a WiFi router. WeBoost says the eqo is improved over its older products because the antenna can be kept indoors, rather than installed outside. This makes it more convenient for apartment dwellers. It can improve coverage over an area of about 1,200 square feet and costs $349. The SureCall EZ 4G is similar. Its antenna resembles a radar dish. The SureCall EZ 4G also provides one to two rooms of coverage and costs $399.99. The eqo and EZ 4G support CDMA, GSM, and LTE, and are compatible with AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless.
Verizon today announced a program to buy out the contract and device debt of new customers switching from competitors. Verizon will now pay new customers up to $650 per line to cover competitors' early termination fee (ETF) or outstanding device payments. The program mirrors those already in place at smaller rivals T-Mobile and Sprint. To take advantage, customers need to visit a Verizon store to have their existing device evaluated for trade-in value. After trading in the old phone for a new Verizon 4G LTE phone, customers will receive a prepaid card up to $350 to cover their ETF, or a prepaid card up to $650 to pay off a device payment plan. The new line with Verizon must remain active for six months.
Verizon today said some customers can now stream the content from their DVR to their phone, tablet, or PC no matter where they are. The new feature is available to customers who subscribe to Verizon's FiOS Quantum TV and FiOS Internet service. Together with the new FiOS Mobile app, these customers can stream nearly all the content recorded on their DVR anywhere they have a data connection. The app also lets subscribers stream every subscribed channel and recorded content when at home, access on-demand titles, manage DVR recordings, use their mobile device as a FiOS TV remote, and set/manage parental controls. Verizon says it began testing the feature in some markets last month, but it is available across all markets beginning today. The Verizon FiOS Mobile app is free to download from the Google Play Store and the iTunes App Store.
Verizon Wireless plans to make a special Star Wars edition of the Motorola Droid Turbo 2 available for purchase beginning Dec. 11. Shoppers will be able create their own Turbo 2 via Motorola's Moto Maker web site or inside Verizon retail stores. The Star Wars-themed customizations include movie-matched color palates, rear shells, and wallpapers for several of the characters. Verizon didn't immediately disclose pricing for the special edition handset.
T-Mobile today said it will give a free year of Hulu to Verizon customers who switch to T-Mobile. The Uncarrier Unwrapped promotion is available Dec. 11 through Dec. 17. Verizon customers will need to port their number to a T-Mobile Simple Choice plan in order to receive the Hulu subscription ($100 value). Once converted to T-Mobile, former Verizon customers will have access to Binge On and Music Freedom, which allows them to stream unlimited video and music (from select providers) without eating into their monthly data. T-Mobile said Verizon switchers are also eligible for up to $650 per line to cover ETFs and other fees. Last, T-Mobile is offering 50% off select accessories. T-Mobile has offered similar gifts to Sprint and AT&T customers this month.
Verizon Wireless is prepared to test sponsored data, according to vice president Marni Walden. The program will allow businesses to sponsor apps or content that is accessed by customers on Verizon's network. The sponsored data will not count against the customer's monthly data allotment. "The capabilities we've built allow us to break down any byte that is carried across our network and have all or a portion of that sponsored," said Walden to Re/code. Verizon said it will roll out sponsored data in a limited fashion over the coming days and will expand it on a commercial basis during the first quarter of 2016. AT&T already has a similar program in place.
Motorola is delivering the Android 6.0 Marshmallow system update to some versions of the Moto X Pure Edition. Motorola's David Schuster said Android 6.0 is headed to the Sprint, Verizon, and U.S. Cellular models of the Moto X. Schuster said Motorola has started the Marshmallow soak test for the 2015 Moto X Play in Brazil/India. Motorola is still working to rollout Marshmallow to other devices in its lineup, and will have more information with respect to timing closer to the release date.
Mozilla today said it will cease to develop Firefox OS and discontinue sales of Firefox-based handsets. "Firefox OS proved the flexibility of the web, scaling from low-end smartphones all the way up to HD TVs," said Mozilla in a statement provided to TechCrunch. "However, we weren't able to offer the best user experience possible and so we will stop offering Firefox OS smartphones through carrier channels." The company reiterated that it was proud of the platform and what it was able to accomplish. Moreover, Mozilla will "continue to experiment with the user experience across connected devices" with open source software. In March of this year, Mozilla announced a distribution agreement with Verizon Wireless. That agreement apparently never resulted in bringing Firefox OS devices to the U.S. market. Mozilla's decision follows recent upheaval at Jolla, which developed SailfishOS and is nowin a state of hiatus. Neither Sailfish nor Firefox was able to catch on with consumers in the face of competition from Android and iOS, which together account for about 97% of the market.
Verizon Wireless said the Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge will be able to make WiFi-based voice and video calls beginning Dec. 8. Verizon is adding WiFi calling to its Advanced Calling application, which is typically used for HD Voice calls via VoLTE. Verizon said customers can opt to make calls over WiFi when at home or other areas where WiFi coverage is strong. WiFi calls made to U.S. numbers are free, while calls made to international numbers will be billed at standard rates. Verizon plans to deliver the feature to the GS6 and GS6 Edge through a software update in phases. Verizon said more Android and iOS devices will be given WiFi calling functions early in 2016. T-Mobile and Sprint have offered WiFi calling for some time, and AT&T rolled the feature out in October.
Verizon Wireless today said it will reward new and existing customers with 2GB of bonus LTE data per month for every new phone purchased/activated between now and January 6. Some conditions apply. The 2GB is only available to customers who buy a new phone with either the XL or XXL data plan — Verizon's two most expensive plans. Moreover, customers must continue to subscribe to the XL or XXL plan and keep the phone line active in order to earn the 2GB of bonus data. The bonus data is shareable across all devices within accounts, and can be combined with other offers, says Verizon. Verizon suggests customers visit stores to ensure trade-ins and other promotions are calculated right away.
AT&T today confirmed reports that it plans to increase the cost of its old, grandfathered unlimited plan early next year. The rate will change from $30 per month to $35 per month, and marks the first increase this plan has seen in seven years. The change goes into effect in February. T-Mobile and Verizon have increased the prices of their unlimited plans in recent weeks, too. T-Mobile's unlimited data plan jumped from $30 per month to $45 per month, while Verizon's hopped from $30 to $50. AT&T no longer offers unlimited data to customers, and instead charges for defined buckets of LTE 4G access. Only customers who've maintained their old data plan over the years still have access to unlimited data. AT&T throttles the speeds of unlimited customers who surpass 22GB of usage in a single billing period.
Verizon Wireless today made it possible for subscribers to send one another the gift of data access. Verizon customers can send 1GB of LTE 4G data to family/friends for $10. Gifted data will be billed directly to the sender's account. The data can be purchased through the Verizon Messages app or Verizon's web site. Verizon said an update to the Verizon Messages app for Android, being pushed out today, adds the data-gifting feature.
Google hopes the prospect of charitable giving will spur more people to use Android Pay for purchases during the holiday season. The company today said it will donate $1 for every Android Pay transaction between now and Dec. 31 to special needs education projects. Google is committing to offer up to $1 million, and will donate $2 for every Android Pay transaction made on Black Friday, Nov. 27. Android Pay is available to most NFC-equipped smartphones (AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon) and is accepted at more than one million retail locations around the country.
Verizon Wireless customers can snag an extra 1GB of mobile data this month from Big Red. The promotional data offer can be redeemed online and will be added to the account holder's existing data allotment for the current billing period. Verizon said customers can get another free 1GB of data for their next billing period, too. Verizon is offering a range of other freebies to its customers in what it calls its "Thanksgetting" promotion. For example, people who shop online Nov. 25 can get a $5 iTunes gift card or a 30-day trial of Pandora One. Other freebies come from Lyft, Boingo, Gogo, and Amazon.
AT&T today started issuing refunds to customers that pre-ordered LG's latest smartwatch, the LG Watch Urbane 2nd Edition. LG later elaborated that it has postponed launch plans for the device indefinitely. The Watch Urbane 2nd Edition was to be the first watch to support the new built-in cellular connectivity features in the newest version of Android Wear. The watch included 4G LTE and was to be available first with AT&T and Verizon, as well as in Korea. A statement from LG reads "the decision was made to cancel the rollout of the Urbane 2nd Edition LTE due to the complicated nature of the issue. Whether the device will be available in the future will be decided at a later time. For now, our top priority is to ensure that only products that meet our very specific quality standards are available for purchase."
The FCC today expanded the scale of hearing aid compatibility in cell phones to include IP-based communications, such as WiFi and VoLTE. AT&T and Verizon Wireless recently sought and received waivers to offer WiFi calling along with an alternate to the legacy technology called RTT (real-time text). The rules require handset makers to design phones that comply with both current and future technologies. The FCC wants phone makers to consider hearing aid compatibility as early as possible during the design process. The FCC also issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to help define a path toward making all phones accessible to people who use hearing aids or have cochlear implants. Right now, phone makers only have to make a small selection of their handsets accessible to hearing-impaired persons. The FCC wants to see such people offered the same range of devices that are available to all consumers. The FCC is seeking comment on its proposal, which was developed together with consumer and industry representatives.
Sprint said beginning November 20, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon customers who switch their number to Sprint will save 50% off their old rate plan. The 50% savings will be available to switchers through Jan. 8, 2018. Sprint is also offering up to $650 in reimbursement for ETFs and other fees, but requires new customers to trade in their old smartphone. The promotion is limited to a maximum of 10 lines per account. Subsidized devices require an extra $25 per month fee. The half-rate plan does not extend to unlimited music/video streaming, data carryover, tethering, or cloud services. Mobile hotspot consumption is pulled from the shared data plan. The discount does not apply to taxes, surcharges, add-ons, apps, premium content, or international services. Discounts vary based on the rates charged by AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon. Not all competitor rate plans apply. Sprint offered a similar promotion last year.
Verizon Wireless has adjusted its selection of prepaid service plans for smartphones, basic phones, and data devices. Verizon now offers three plans to smartphones. The least expensive option, $30 per month, includes unlimited voice/text, but no wireless data — Verizon expects customers of this plan to access data via WiFi only. Verizon is also offering $45 and $60 prepaid smartphone plans that include 1GB and 3GB of data, respectively. Basic phones have two options: The $15 plan buys 300 talk/text (combined) and unlimited data, while the $30 plan buys unlimited talk/text and data. Last, Verizon now offers data devices (tablets, hotspots) weekly, monthly, and bi-monthly options. Verizon prepaid customers can opt to pay $15 for a week's worth of access to 500MB of LTE 4G data, or $20 for a month's worth of access to 1GB of data. The bi-monthly options cost $35 for 2GB, $60 for 5GB, and $100 for 10GB. The bi-monthly plans allow customers to access those data allotments over a two-month period. Verizon's new prepaid plans go into effect today.
The FCC today granted Verizon Wireless' request for a waiver that will allow it to offer WiFi calling services. The waiver is needed because TTY services, which carriers are obligated to offer, are not reliable over WiFi. As such, Verizon needs to replace TTY with real-time text (RTT) in order to remain compliant with the law. The waiver gives Verizon latitude to offer WiFi calling while cooking up a permanent replacement for TTY. Verizon filed its request Oct. 23. The FCC took much longer to grant a similar request from AT&T, which launched WiFi calling in October. Verizon didn't say how soon it expects to offer WiFi calling.
Verizon Wireless will soon begin charging a $20 activation fee for new customers who sign up for one of its contract-free device payment plans. The fee goes into effect Nov. 15. Previously, Verizon waived activation fees for customers who purchased devices via monthly installment plans. Verizon already charges a $40 activation fee to customers signing contracts. Though Verizon no longer offers contracts, it will still charge that $40 fee to grandfathered contract customers who add a new line of service. Verizon said the new $20 fee covers costs associated with adding a line, such as pairing the customer's phone number with their SIM card. Part of the initial appeal of monthly installment plans was the "$0 down" promise from carriers. Verizon's new fee effectively reneges on that policy. AT&T's installment plan customers now pay a $15 fee, too, when adding a new line. Sprint charges $36 for all new lines of service, and T-Mobile charges $15 for its SIM starter kit.
Transit Wireless today said it has completed Phase 4 of its project to bring cellular and WiFi service to subway stations across New York City. Phase 4 adds coverage to 20 stations in the Bronx, as well as 17 stations in Manhattan. Some of the new stations include 53rd St./Lexington Ave. (6,E,M) and 59th/Lex. (4,5,6,N,Q,R) in Manhattan, and 149th S. Grand Concourse (2,4,5), and 125th St. (4,5,6) in the Bronx. Transit says it provides service to more than 140 stations throughout the New York City subway system. Service is available to AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and now Verizon Wireless customers.
AT&T is making plans to participate in next year's incentive auction, according to CFO John Stephens. "Spectrum is a scare asset, and so we would expect to participate," said Stephens, speaking at technology conference. "I won't suggest at what level, but we plan in our business plans to do that, and we'll see how it plays out, what's available. Certainly, getting a nationwide opportunity is what we've talked about in the past. A 2x10 MHz nationwide capability is something that works very well with our network planning and our network team, but we will see how this develops." AT&T already has significant low-band spectrum holdings in the 700MHz range. The incentive auction, planned for the middle of next year, will see television broadcasters turn in their spectrum licenses which will then be auctioned off to wireless broadband providers. AT&T's participation in the auction is somewhat limited thanks to a reserve for smaller carriers put in place by the FCC. T-Mobile has said it will spend up to $10 billion to get the low-band spectrum it needs to better compete with AT&T and Verizon Wireless. Sprint is sitting the auction out. Verizon hasn't discussed its plans in detail.
Verizon Wireless is prepared to offer customers a new international roaming package called TravelPass. Verizon customers will be able to access their existing talk, text, and data buckets when roaming in 65 different countries for $10 per 24-hour period. Roaming in Canada and Mexico will cost $2 per day. Customers will only be charged for the service when abroad and actively using their phone in other countries. "Unlike other providers, Verizon doesn't use gimmicks like 'free data roaming' to lure you in and then put you on the slowest network and restrict your data use while outside of the U.S.," said Verizon in a statement. Verizon still offers a $40 package for those who plan to roam for longer periods of time. High-speed data service is included, though customers will need a world phone in order to roam. Verizon's new offering follows moves by competitors AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile, which have taken steps to reduce the pain of traveling abroad.
The Android Wear platform now broadly supports cellular connections for making calls, sending messages, and syncing data, says Google. The LG Watch Urbane 2nd Edition LTE, which was announced last month, is the first Android Wear device to support cellular networks. LG, Samsung, and others have sold cellular watches in the past, but none ran Android Wear. Google said cellular-equipped Android watches will automatically switch from Bluetooth or WiFi to cellular when needed for connectivity. Google fully expects people will be able to use their Android smartwatches to answer calls, read emails, dictate text messages, and manage their fitness all while on the go. AT&T and Verizon Wireless are offering cellular service to the LG Watch Urbane 2nd Edition LTE. The watch is available for pre-order starting today.
Verizon Wireless took to its Twitter account to tease the BlackBerry Priv smartphone. "Priv by BlackBerry. The first-ever BlackBerry powered by Android. Coming soon," said the company. A link in the Tweet leads to a landing page on Verizon's web site where people can register for updates concerning the Priv. The Priv went on sale in the U.S. this week. It is a vertical slider with a 5.4-inch screen, physical QWERTY keyboard, and an 18-megapixel camera. It costs $699.
Verizon Wireless has improved the Verizon Cloud app for Android devices with new features called Smart Albums and Print Shop. Smart Albums can automatically select the best photos and videos to create albums based on events and locations. The albums can then easily be shared across social networks. Further, a collaboration with RealNetworks lets Verizon Cloud app users automatically generate video montages that are set to music, called RealTime Stories. The app allows users to customize the montages with their own video and music selections, as well. The Smart Albums are free to use, but RealTime Stories will cost $1.99 per month after January 2, 2016 (free trial until then). The Print Shop makes it simple for Cloud App users to print photos stored in the cloud, as well as create albums, canvases, and framed prints from Photobucket. The Verizon Cloud app is meant to help customers back up their phone's content (contracts, photos, videos), transfer that data to new devices; share media with others; sync messages back 90 days; and access files across devices. It is free to download from the Google Play Store. The service comes with 5GB of free storage, but Verizon will sell additional storage starting at 25GB for $2.99 per month. The new features make it a more function media management tool.
Verizon today struck a major deal with the National Basketball Association that will give Verizon customers access to premium NBA video content. Specifically, Verizon's go90 mobile video service will offer daily highlights, original content, and out-of-market games via the NBA League Pass. Further, all go90 customers will be able to clip and share NBA-related content easily via text messaging, Facebook, and Twitter. The NBA will work with Verizon to develop an original series only available to go90 users. Verizon is now the official wireless provider for the NBA, WNBA, NBA-D, and USAB. Verizon's branding will be more prominent during NBA events, such as league games, the slam dunk contest, and the all-star game. Verizon's go90 app is free for anyone to download, but some content is exclusive to Verizon Wireless customers.