Google today said it has decided to wind down Project Tango, its ambitious augmented reality platform that used on-device cameras and sensors to blend reality with computer-generated content. "As we focus on bringing augmented reality to the entire Android ecosystem with ARCore, we’re turning down support of Tango," said Google. The company will officially cease to support Project Tango on March 1, 2018. The company worked with several hardware partners to create Project Tango handsets, which were laden with special equipment to make the platform work. The most recent such device was the Asus ZenFone AR, sold by Verizon Wireless. Moving forward, Google will push its ARCore platform as a means for generating and consuming augmented reality content on Android handsets. To that end, Google today released ARCore Developer Preview 2, an update to its augmented reality toolset for app writers. "We've taken everything we learned from [Project Tango] to build ARCore. Whereas Tango required special hardware, ARCore is a fast, performant, Android-scale SDK that enables high-quality augmented reality across millions of qualified mobile devices." The updated ARCore Developer Preview includes a new C API for use with the Android NDK. Google says this dovetails nicely with its existing Java, Unity, and Unreal SDKs. Another addition is the ability for AR apps to pause and resume without losing their spot in order to allow people to perform actions such as answering calls. Last, the new developer preview improves accuracy and runtime efficiency. Developers interested in the new ARCore Developer Preview can find it through Google's developer web site. Google says it expects ARCore-based apps will reach the Play Store before too long.
Verizon Wireless plans to let holiday shoppers score a smartphone for free with an upcoming buy-one, get-one deal. Beginning Friday, December 15, customers who buy an Apple iPhone 8 or iPhone 8 Plus, or a Samsung Galaxy S8 or S8+ can get a second device for free. Both devices will need to be purchased on a payment plan and at least one must be a new line of service. The second phone must be from the same manufacturer and be of equal or lesser value. The cost of the second device will be reimbursed monthly over a 24-month period. Verizon says the offer is valid for existing customer upgrades, as well as those who switch to Verizon. The buy-one, get-one deal will be available for a limited time.
T-Mobile has set its sights on the cable TV industry and hopes to disrupt that market beginning next year. The company today announced plans to acquire Layer3 TV, which already delivers internet-based television service in five markets around the country. T-Mobile will use Layer3 TV's technology to create and launch a new TV service that will be delivered over T-Mobile's LTE network. "People love their TV, but they hate their TV providers. And worse, they have no real choice but to simply take it — the crappy customer service, clunky technology and outrageous bills loaded with fees! That’s where we come in. We're gonna fix the pain points and bring real choice to consumers across the country," said John Legere, president and CEO of T-Mobile. Legere insisted T-Mobile's TV service will be "disruptive" and will take full advantage of the latest technology and best content from today's top creators. In addition to T-Mobile's network, the as-yet-unnamed TV service will be supported by T-Mobile's retail stores, and sales and service organizations. Jeff Binder, CEO of Layer3 TV, added, "No market needs Un-carrier-ing more than pay TV, so we’re completely stoked to join T-Mobile in disrupting the status quo!" T-Mobile did not say how much it will pay for Layer3 TV, nor when this television service might launch, not what it expects to charge per month. The company already allows people to stream as much video via LTE as they wish, and offers some customers Netflix for free. T-Mobile competitors AT&T and Verizon each have their own television services, both mobile and in-home. T-Mobile needs to enter the TV space in some capacity in order to offer customers a similar set of services.
Verizon Wireless today began selling the Google Home Max in-home assistant and speaker. The Max relies on the same Google Assistant that powers the Google Home and Google Home Mini devices, but packages the voice-based tool in a larger, music-focused box. The Max has twin 4.5-inch woofers and can analyze the room to automatically adjust its tuning for the best possible sound. It supports streaming services such as Google Play Music, YouTube Music, Pandora, and Spotify, and can interact with Chromecasts and other cast-enabled devices. The Google Home Max is available online from Verizon and Best Buy. Verizon Wireless also rolled out a promotion for the LG V30. Customers can snag a $300 discount on the phone when purchased on a 24-month payment plan. The $300 discount is applied monthly until the phone is paid off. The LG V30 deal is only available online.
Verizon and the NFL today said they've agreed to a new multi-year deal that will see NFL content reach more people on mobile devices. Verizon says it will stream national and local football games across several of its media properties to fans on any mobile network. Via the Yahoo, Yahoo Sports, go90, and NFL mobile apps, people will be able to watch pre-season, regular season, playoff games, and the Super Bowl from their smartphone. The partnership kicks off in January with this season's playoffs. Beyond weekly games, Verizon will give fans access to NFL highlight reels, news, and other content throughout the year, such as the NFL Draft. Last, Verizon said it intends to work with NFL teams to deploy smart stadium technology in their stadiums for better on-site mobile experiences. The new live mobile NFL experience will first be available from the Yahoo Sports app for iOS and Android in January. The partnership is valued at more than $1.5 billion.
Verizon Wireless today announced the Samsung 4G LTE Network Extender 2, a device meant to improve wireless coverage at your house or small business. Like many network extenders, the Samsung 4G LTE Network Extender 2 plugs into your home's wired broadband service. It then provides about 7,500 square feet of LTE coverage, with support for up to 14 simultaneous connections. The extender supports LTE service only, and does not provide 1X or CDMA coverage in the home. The device costs $249, but there is no monthly service fee associated with its use. In other Verizon news, the company rolled out a new promotion for the Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL smartphones. The company will cut the price of either phone by $300 when purchased on a device payment plan. Customers will need to finance the entire cost of the handset. Verizon will then contribute $300 in total over the course of 24 monthly payments (about $12.50 per month). The Pixel 2 promo kicks off on Sunday.
Verizon Wireless today said it will launch 5G service next year in up to five markets around the country. Rather than provide wireless service, however, the 5G will be offered to residential customers as an alternative to copper or fiber for in-home broadband. Verizon has been testing this service in 11 markets so far this year and will kick off 5G residential broadband service in Sacramento, Calif., during the second half of 2018. Verizon didn't name the other markets. The service will rely on millimeter wave spectrum and technology. The move will help Verizon avoid the cost of deploying wired broadband to these markets. Verizon and its competitors are racing to develop 5G wireless technology for mobile devices and most plan limited launches in the 2019 timeframe.
Verizon Wireless is offering big discounts on this year's top phones through its Black Friday sale. Verizon will cover up to $378 off the price of the Samsung Galaxy S8, S8+, or Note8, the Google Pixel 2 or Pixel 2 XL, or the Moto Z2 Force. Customers will need to sign up for Verizon's unlimited plan, but no trade-in is required. Customers will need to purchase the device, whether up front or financed, and Verizon will break down the $378 reimbursement in account credits over a period of 24 months. In other deals, Verizon will sell you a 32 GB iPad for $199 if you activate it on a two-year plan, or for $99 when purchased alongside an iPhone. These discounts are available online November 23 and in stores November 24 only. Verizon has other sales that begin Thursday and run through November 27. For example, customers can save $50 on a Google Home, $20 on a Google Home Mini, $20 on Google Daydream View, or $15 on a Chromecast Ultra. Verizon will discount the price of many Android handsets by $100 when activated with an unlimited plan. Last, Verizon is discounting tons of accessories, including FitBit wearables, Ultimate Ears and JBL Bluetooth speakers, and Nest smartphone products.
ROK Mobile has rolled out a new promotional rate plan that includes three months of unlimited service for $99. The offer is available to new customers only. After the three-month period ends, the plan reverts to the normal monthly rate of $45. ROK Mobile is an MVNO that offers service on AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon. Customers can select which carrier they wish to use when they sign up for ROK Mobile. This allows people to use their own device. The $99 promo is only available to new customers who choose service on Sprint or Verizon. Those who select Sprint will be eligible for a free ZTE Prestige smartphone. ROK Mobile started out as a music-focused MVNO but has since transitioned to a more traditional MVNO. Service plans range from $20 to $50 per month, depending on the data bucket. ROK Mobile also offers what it calls Life Plans, a series of services including roadside assistance, accidental death and cremation insurance, family legal services, family telemedicine, and ID theft insurance. These Life Services can be added as extras to any of ROK Mobile's service plans. Pricing ranges from $5 to $15 per month depending on the package.
T-Mobile today said it will deploy 5G across much of the country within a few years using its low-band 600 MHz spectrum. “We’re committed to drive a 5G rollout by 2020 across the nation,” said T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray during an investor conference. That doesn’t mean T-Mobile is ignoring high-band spectrum, which competitors AT&T and Verizon are pursuing. “There’s been a lot of discussion of millimeter wave and the kind of surgical, tactical deployments of 5G, and we’ll be there too. But we’ll deploy in the 600 MHz for 5G as we move into the next decade.” AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless are all pushing to deploy 5G technologies as soon as possible even though the standard has not been defined. Al three are already pushing out gigabit LTE, a stepping stone to 5G. AT&T is its own 5G technology in Houston and Indianapolis. T-Mobile didn’t say what markets might see potential 5G service first.
Verizon Wireless and Asus today announced the ZenFone V Live, a social media-focused handset that includes a real-time blemish remover. With the ZenFone V Live, people can take advantage of the selfie camera's beautification options to soften complexions and remove skin blemishes when livestreaming to Facebook, Instagram, or YouTube. (Such effects are typically applied to still images after the fact.) Otherwise, the ZenFone V Live is a mid-range handset with curved glass and a metal body design. It has a 5-inch 720p HD display and is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 425 processor with 2 GB of memory and 16 GB of storage. The 13-megapixel camera includes features such as panorama, slow-motion, time-lapse, and bokeh modes with boosted low-light performance. Additional features include a fingerprint reader, 3,000mAh battery, USB-C, and support for microSD memory cards. It runs Android 7 Nougat. Verizon is selling the Asus Zenfone V Live beginning today for $168, or $7 per month for 24 months.
AT&T and Verizon have tapped Tillman Infrastructure to build hundreds of small cell towers around the country. Tillman already builds, owns, and operates a series of towers and small cells. Tillman will build new towers for AT&T and Verizon, which have agreed to lease and co-anchor the towers. According to Verizon, the new towers will be added in areas where others don't already exist and will give AT&T and Verizon the opportunity to move equipment from old (expensive) towers to the new (cheaper) ones. Tillman is expected to begin work on the new towers as soon as the first quarter of 2018. AT&T and Verizon engineers will install networking equipment and turn the sites on as quickly as they can. Tillman will have the opportunity to build hundreds more sites if the initial batch are completed successfully. Neither AT&T nor Verizon said which network technologies will be installed on the towers. Separately, both companies are pursuing various paths towards 5G with technologies including mmWave.
Samsung today said it will sell the Deepsea Blue color variant of the Galaxy Note8 smartphone in the U.S. Since launch, the device has only be available to U.S. buyers in black or gray. Other than the color, everything about the Deepsee Blue Note8 is identical to the black and gray versions. The phone will be available from Best Buy stores, BestBuy.com, and Samsung.com beginning November 16. Customers will be able to select an AT&T, Sprint, Verizon, or unlocked model. The Note8 has a 6.3-inch Infinity Display, Snapdragon 835 processor, dual camera system, S Pen stylus, 6 GB of RAM, and fast wireless charging. The phone Galaxy Note8 runs Android 7 Nougat and costs $929.
Motorola today said the Moto Smart Speaker with Amazon Alexa will become available over the coming week. Amazon, Best Buy, and Motorola will each kick off pre-orders for the modular attachment starting November 7, with general sales commencing November 13. The device will be available from Verizon by November 16. Motorola is charging $150 for the smart speaker, which lets Moto Z owners access Alexa when on the go. The Smart Speaker can be used to play music and interact with Alexa just like at home with an Amazon Echo speaker. The mod includes its own battery that can deliver up to 15 hours of listening without impacting the phone's power source. It includes a charging dock that works together with the Moto Z to provide a nightstand mode with active Alexa listening. It is compatible with all Moto Mod handsets, including the newer Moto Z2 Play and Z2 Force.
Verizon Wireless today said it has deployed FDD Massive MIMO on its network in and around Irvine, Calif. Verizon explains that while Massive MIMO is a 4G LTE-A technology that will help today's phones, it serves as a stepping stone in the slow march toward 5G. Verizon already uses four-way MIMO across much of its network. This particular deployment relies on 16 transceiver units driving 96 antenna elements, all running on a 20 MHz block of AWS spectrum. Using more antennas means Verizon is capable of creating and maintaining more signal paths to the cell tower. The deployment also relies on beamforming, which tracks customers more accurately and cuts down on interference. The end result is more capacity and faster speeds when uploading and downloading files. Verizon didn't qualify just how much faster those speeds are, nor did it say what devices might be able to take advantage of them. The company will continue to deploy FDD Massive MIMO across its network where the capacity is needed most.
Verizon Wireless plans to bring back unlimited HD video streaming, but with a big caveat. The company used to offer unrestricted high-definition streaming via LTE on its unlimited plan. The company balked several months ago and limited video streams to 720p even for customers who paid for unlimited LTE 4G service. Now, the company tells CNET it will once again offer unlimited high-definition (up to 4K) video streaming. The catch? Customers will be forced to pay $10 more per month for the pleasure. The HD video streaming via LTE option will become available starting November 3.
Repairing a cracked smartphone display just got cheaper. Verizon Wireless today said those who subscribe to its Total Mobile Protection device insurance program will be charged $29 per screen repair, down from the previous charge of $49. Verizon is holding an open enrollment for its Total Mobile Protection program beginning today. Customers can enroll any phone purchased during the last 24 months in the insurance program, which covers the cost of damage, loss, or theft. Total Mobile Protection includes next-day replacement phones when the circumstances warrant. Verizon says the company has 296 certified repair stores scattered around the country for screen repairs, though customers in 152 cities can choose to have a certified technician meet them at their home or office. Total Mobile Protection provides coverage for up to three claims per year, but it isn't cheap. The monthly cost for simple phones and tablets is $9, while most smartphones cost $11, and a family of devices costs $33. Insuring a single smartphone will cost $132 for a year. Open enrollment for Total Mobile Protection lasts through November 17. By way of comparison, AppleCare+ costs between $129 and $199 per year per iPhone, and screen repairs from Apple carry a $29 fee.
Verizon Wireless today shared details concerning its variant of the LG V30. The phone is available from today for $35 per month for 24 months on a Verizon device payment plan. The total cost of the monthly payments comes to $840, which is about $40 more than what AT&T and T-Mobile ask for the handset. Verizon has several promotions on deck. First, people who purchase a V30 are eligible for a free Google Daydream View headset. Further, those who purchase a V30 between October 5 and November 6 can score a $200 Visa prepaid card. The LG V30 features a metal-and-glass design, 6-inch quad HD+ display, dual cameras, and a Snapdragon 835 processor.
ZTE and Verizon Wireless today announced the Blade Vantage, an inexpensive entry-level device for Verizon's pre-paid service. The Vantage includes a 5-inch screen with 854 by 480 pixels and it is powered by a 1.1 GHz, quad-core Snapdragon 210 processor with 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB of storage. The screen is protected by 2.5D glass that's curved along the edges and fitted into the plastic chassis. On the rear you'll find an 8-megapixel main camera with an f/2.0 lens and flash, while the front carries a 2-megapixel selfie camera with f/2.4 lens. Other hardware features include a 2,500mAh battery, support for microSD memory cards, Bluetooth, WiFi, and LTE with mobile hotspot. It ships with Android 7.1 Nougat. Verizon Wireless is selling the ZTE Blade Vantage for $50.
Verizon Wireless is the only U.S. wireless operator that will officially sell the new Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL handsets, same as it was with last year's Pixels. Verizon's monthly pricing for the phones is in line with other flagship smartphones. For example, the 64 GB Pixel 2 costs $27.08 per month for 24 months, while the 128 GB model costs $31.24 per month. Similarly, the 64 GB Pixel 2 XL costs $35.41 per month for 24 months, while the 128 GB model costs $39.58 per month. The phone is available for pre-order from Verizon Wireless' web site and ships starting October 17. Alternately, consumers can buy either a Verizon or unlocked variant of the Pixel 2 / XL directly from the Google Play Store. Google asks customers to pay for the phones in full up front, though financing options are also available. The 64 GB Pixel 2 costs $649 and the 128 GB Pixel 2 costs $749. The 64 GB Pixel 2 XL costs $849 and the 128 GB Pixel 2 XL costs $949. Shipping and taxes are extra. People who choose to buy their Pixel 2 through Google have the option to trade in last year's Pixel (if they have one) at reasonably good rates. For example, an unlocked 128 GB Pixel XL garners a trade-in value of $410, or about half the cost of the new model. Best Buy sells the new Pixel 2 phones, too, though only the Verizon-branded version. For the moment, Best Buy is offering a $100 discount on all Pixel 2 models when activated on a new line with Verizon.
Alongside the new Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL smartphones, Google today introduced a new version of its Daydream View VR headset. Both new Pixel phones are Daydream-ready and function perfectly with the revised viewing hardware. Google says the lenses have been improved in order to create a wider, clearer field of view. The headset carries over the soft fabric covering and controller of the original, and it comes in fog, charcoal, and coral. Google says more than 250 Daydream titles are available to Android devices, and the amount of content available through YouTube VR has grown exponentially over the last year. Google's new Pixel handsets support ARCore augmented reality, too, and Google expects fun add-ons such as sticker packs will help people get off the ground with AR content. The new Google Daydream View will be available later this year for $99 from the Google Store, Verizon, Best Buy, AT&T, and Amazon.
Verizon Wireless today rolled out changes to its Verizon Prepaid Family Account, which lets subscribers take more control over the data available to each individual line. Data is available in 3 GB, 7 GB, 10 GB, and unlimited buckets. The first line costs $40, $50, $60, and $80, respectively, for each of these offerings. Lines two through five can be added to the first line at a small discount. For example, those who subscribe to the 3 GB plan will receive a $10 discount per line on lines two through five. Under this option, three lines would cost $100 per month: $40 for the first line, plus $30 each for the second and third lines. Customers who opt for the 7 GB plan will receive a $15 discount per additional line, while those who opt for the 10 GB or unlimited plans will receive a $20 discount per additional line. Each line enjoys its own data bucket, as data is not shared across the account. Verizon's prepaid service does not include taxes and fees in the pricing structure.
Google today made it easier for businesses to configure and deploy Android handsets to employees with a new tool called zero-touch enrollment. Google says zero-touch lets companies configure purchased devices and ship them directly to employees completely preconfigured with corporate policies and controls all in place. Users need only sign in to gain access to their work apps and data. The new zero-touch enrollment tool is available on handsets purchased from AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless in the U.S. Google is working with Samsung, Huawei, Sony, LG, HMD Global, BlackBerry, HTC, Motorola, Honeywell, Zebra, and Sonim to ensure a wide selection of devices support zero-touch. Google indicated the Huawei Mate 10 and Sony Xperia XZ1 and XZ1 Compact will be among the first devices to support zero-touch in the coming weeks. Businesses will be able to use a wide range of enterprise device management tools from the likes of BlackBerry, MobileIron, IBM, Suite, and VMware to configure zero-touch. Google encouraged businesses that are interested in zero-touch to contact their carriers directly.
Asus recently unwrapped the ZenFone V, an Android smartphone that's exclusive to Verizon Wireless. The ZenFone V features a metal chassis with 2.5D curved Gorilla Glass on the front. The handset sports a 5.2-inch AMOLED display with full HD resolution. The phone is powered by a Snapdragon 820 processor, Qualcomm's 2016 flagship chip, with 4 GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage. The main camera has a 23-megapixel sensor with optical image stabilization, dual-LED flash, an aperture of f/2.0, and phase detection autofocus. The front camera boast an 8-megapixel sensor with a GIF maker and aperture of f/2.0. Other features include a 3,000mAh battery with rapid charging, high-resolution audio, fingerprint reader, and USB-C. The phone runs Android 7 Nougat with Asus' ZenUI, and it comes in black. Pricing and availability have not yet been disclosed.
Essential Products says its smartphone, the PH-1, is now fully able to run on Verizon Wireless's network. The company announced the news via its Twitter account. Essential didn't say what changed, or what it might have updated to make the phone work more properly on Verizon's network. The handset is already for sale unlocked and from Sprint. Verizon does not actually sell the phone. The PH-1 is a high-end Android handset with a bezel-less design. It supports magnetic modules that attach on the back via magnets. It costs $699.
Apple this week announced the Apple Watch Series 3 with an optional cellular radio. The LTE radio makes it possible for the smartwatch to connect to cellular networks on its own, without a nearby iPhone. According to AT&T, the Apple Watch Series 3 is compatible with its NumberSync service, allowing people to make and receive phone calls from their main mobile number on the wearable. In addition to calls, NumberSync allows people to send/receive text messages from their main number directly on the smartwatch. The phone does need to powered on somewhere in order for the service to work. NumberSync is built into AT&T's network, so it doesn't require third-party apps in order to function properly. AT&T charges a $10 per month fee to add the Apple Watch Series 3 to an existing data plan. NumberSync is included for free. AT&T said it will waive the customary activation fee for the Apple Watch Series 3. Verizon Wireless customers will enjoy similar functionality via Verizon's NumberShare technology, which also allows people to make calls and send messages directly from their wrist over the cellular network. Like AT&T, Verizon is charging $10 per month to add the Apple Watch Series 3 to an existing plan. T-Mobile, too, has a $10 Apple Watch Series 3 plan that includes one-number calling from either the phone or the watch. Sprint has not yet detailed a similar service. The Apple Watch Series 3 with LTE goes on sale September 22 for $399.
Apple today updated its smartwatch with several new features. Notably, the Apple Watch Series 3 gains an optional LTE radio for connections when phones aren't around or available. The Watch includes an e-SIM to save space, and uses the display itself to act as the cellular antenna. The LTE radio will require a data plan from carriers, such as AT&T or Verizon. People will be able to sync and control apps without their iPhone, as well as make voice calls. Apple says the cellular connection supports streaming from Apple Music and works with Apple's EarPods for on-the-go listening during workouts. The Watch Series 3 contains a new W2 wireless chip from Apple to enable Bluetooth and other connections and a refreshed dual-core processor that's 70% faster than Series 2. It comes in a variety of casings and bands, including a new sport loop made from breathable fabric. The ceramic option is now available in white and gray. The Apple Watch Series 3 costs $329 sans cellular and $399 with cellular. Apple will continue to sell the Series 1 for $249. Preorders begin September 15 and the Apple Watch Series 3 goes on sale September 22.
Mobile operators in the U.S. today said they will work together to help customers more easily manage app and account authentication while also protecting consumers' privacy and identity. AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless announced the Mobile Authentication Taskforce, which will create a mobile authentication solution for consumer and business customers alike next year. The carriers are going to pool resources and analyze customer data and activity patterns on their respective mobile networks to accurately predict if people are who they say they are. They'll parse insights such as geo-location, network-based device behaviors, and SIM card recognition to determine identity and authenticate users. The four carriers are taking an open approach to the Mobile Authentication Taskforce and hope third-party organizations and developers will participate. The group didn't say exactly when it expects to roll out the initial offering. Finding new and secure ways to authenticate end users is becoming increasingly important as more personal information is available on mobile devices.
Kyocera this week announced the Cadence, a flip phone for Verizon Wireless that supports LTE but not CDMA. In addition to LTE, the Cadence sports WiFi with voice over WiFi and HD Voice for clearer phone calls. The main display measures 2.4 inches with QVGA resolution, while the external monochrome display measures 0.9 inches with 128 by 36 pixels. The handset runs Kyocera's proprietary non-touch user interface and is powered by a 1.1 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor with 2 GB of memory and 16 GB of storage. It includes a fixed-focus 2-megapixel camera and a removable 1,430mAh battery. Other features include a headphone jack, Bluetooth, GPS, voice recognition, and WiFi hotspot for up to 10 devices. The Kyocera Cadence is available from Verizon Wireless for $120.
Verizon today revealed revamped unlimited plans that aren't nearly as attractive as last month's plans. The standard Unlimited plan now costs $85/month instead of $80/month, and has been renamed "Beyond Unlimited". It offers unlimited calls, texts, and full-speed 4G LTE data up to 22 GB, after which data speed may be limited on busy towers. The plan includes HD video, but HD video on phones is now limited to 720p resolution, even for customers with older plans that did not previously limit video. (Tablets and laptops are allowed video at 1080p.) The plan also includes 15 GB of mobile hotspot data, up from 10 GB, and that change is retroactive to customers with the old plan. The company also unveiled a cheaper "Go Unlimited" plan for $75/month, which technically offers 4G LTE data, but may throttle data speeds at any time the network is busy, not just after 22 GB as with the more expensive plan. The cheaper plan also limits video to SD resolution and throttles mobile hotspot data to just 600 kbps. All of these new prices require paperless billing and auto-pay, or an extra $5/month fee applies.
Xfinity, Comcast's wireless service, today said it has expanded its availability to every market in which Comcast has a presence. The low-cost service launched in April, but was limited to just a small selection of markets. Now, Comcast customers can take advantage of the wireless offering and tie it to their existing internet and television service. Xfinity has also tweaked its service plans. Moving forward, the company offers unlimited service (up to 20 GB of high-speed LTE 4G) for $45 per line per month. It also sells access for $12 per 1 GB, which can be shared across all the lines in a plan. Xfinity offers all customers unlimited talk and text and a base 100 MB of data to get them started. Taxes and fees are included in the pricing structure. Xfinity operates on Verizon's network, but will offload data traffic to Comcast-owned WiFi hotspots when they are available. Xfinity says it has 18 million such hotspots positioned around the country. Xfinity offers a number of popular phones, including the Samsung Galaxy S8 and Apple iPhone 7. Customers can pay full price up front or over time via monthly installments.
The Asus ZenFone AR for Verizon is the first phone in the U.S. to support Google Tango, the advanced AR (augmented reality) platform for Android. It supports a small variety of apps so far. The most useful so far are online shopping apps that display virtual items for sale (such as furniture, decorations, fixtures, and appliances) in the room you're currently it. We take it for a spin by decorating a dingy subway station. Check out the full video to see Tango in action.
Apple and a handful of technology companies are asking the Supreme Court to carefully consider the potential adverse outcomes if law enforcement is given warrantless access to personal information, such as location data. The companies filed a brief with the Supreme Court, which will soon hear a case about how law enforcement gleaned a suspect's location by taking the data from a third party without a warrant. The case, and the companies' collective opinion, hinges on the third-party doctrine, which has been in place since a 1979 case. The corporations that signed the brief together collect, transmit, and hold terabytes of data and meta-data generated by their customers' use of their services. If the Supreme Court decides data held by third-parties should still be up for grabs, the corporations may have to provide it whenever law enforcement asks. They feel this violates the spirit of the Fourth Amendment, which guarantees certain expectations of privacy, and could in turn convince people to use their online services less. "This transmission of data will only grow as digital technologies continue to develop and become more integrated into our lives. Because the data that is transmitted can reveal a wealth of detail about people’s personal lives, however, users of digital technologies reasonably expect to retain significant privacy in that data," argued the companies. "Fourth Amendment doctrine must adapt to this new reality." The signees include Airbnb, Apple, Cisco, Dropbox, Evernote, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Mozilla, Nest, Oath, Snap, Twitter, and Verizon. The companies filed the brief through the ACLU, which is participating in the upcoming case.
Verizon Wireless recently provided details on the availability and cost of the Moto Gamepad Mod for the Z2 Play and Z2 Force smartphones. The Gamepad, available for preorder via Verizon's web site, will ship by August 25. Verizon said the Gamepad will be available online and in stores. The phone snaps in magnetically via the Mod connector. The pad features a standard set of gaming buttons and joysticks positioned on either side of the screen, in addition to a 3.5mm headset jack and USB-C port for charging. The Gamepad includes its own 1.035mAh battery, so it won't suck juice from the phone and in fact can provide the Z handset with up to 8 hours of gaming time. The Gamepad will cost gaming enthusiasts $79.99. The Moto Gamepad Mod is a Verizon exclusive, as is the new JBL SoundBoost 2 speaker Mod.
Verizon Wireless has completed refarming its 1900 MHz spectrum in the country's largest city, an effort first begun in 2014. The company recently converted the last remaining 10 MHz block from CDMA 3G to LTE 4G, which means Verizon is running LTE on 20 MHz of its Band 2 spectrum in New York City. Devices that support LTE in Band 2 should have access to Verizon's network in that spectrum in addition to the 700 MHz it already uses for LTE. The refarming leaves CDMA operational only in the 850 MHz band in NYC. This reduces access to Verizon's legacy 3G network. Verizon has committed to running CDMA / 1x through 2019, though it is still expected to convert some of its 850 MHz spectrum to LTE between now and then.
Verizon Wireless today announced Verizon Up, a rewards program for customers that promises free services, device discounts, and event tickets. Verizon claims its reward program is simple and straightforward. Verizon Up is baked into the MyVerizon application, so there are no forms to worry about. For every $300 customers spend on their wireless bill, they'll earn one reward credit. Each reward is worth one credit, so rewards can be earned on a one-for-one basis. Verizon will offer six rotating rewards each month that consumers can take advantage of immediately if they wish. Some examples include four free months of Apple Music, or three free months of HBO Now (both with subscription.) These are what Verizon calls Everyday Rewards, which will include others from the likes of Amazon, Headspace, and Electronic Arts. Up also includes Verizon Awards, which allow people to save credit towards device purchases ($10 per month), discounts on accessories, and bonus data. Verizon Up includes access to high-demand tickets in sports, music, and entertainment, as well as giveaways to events such as the Super Bowl. Verizon Up is free to join, but there are some major caveats. To start, reward credits expire 60 days after they are earned. Earning the credits requires $300 in payments on Verizon services only, which means the taxes and other fees on monthly wireless bills don't count toward the $300 total. Last, but not least, Verizon customers must join Verizon Selects in order to qualify for Verizon Up. According to the FAQs page for Verizon Up, Verizon Selects is a customer data collection program for advertising purposes. "Verizon Selects helps personalize your experiences and make advertising you see more useful across the devices and services you use," explained Verizon. "To do this, the program uses information about your web browsing, app usage, device location, use of Verizon services and other information about you (such as your postal/email addresses, demographics, and interests) and shares information with Oath." Further, Verizon said identifying customer data collected through Verizon Selects is shared with its vendors and partners. Verizon subscribers can sign up for Verizon Up starting today.
You can finally get a phone with Google's "Tango" AR technology in the US. The Asus ZenFone AR goes on sale with Verizon today. With support for Tango apps, it can scan the room and show you life-size, realistic virtual objects placed in the room in real time. It's also a powerful high-end phone with decent specs, especially in the camera department. What's it it like? We checked it out in person and have first impressions to share.
The Asus ZenFone AR is available to U.S. consumers today from Verizon Wireless. The phone, initially announced in January, is the first to support both Google's Project Tango augmented reality platform and Google's Daydream virtual reality platform. Triple cameras on the back support Tango applications with a 23-megapixel main camera, depth camera, and motion tracking camera. Asus says its PixelMaster 3.0 camera system uses Sony IMX318 sensors with a TriTech autofocus system. It includes 4-axis optical image stabilization for photos and 3-axis electronic stabilization for videos. Additional camera tools include low-light shooting, optimized presets, manual controls, and 4K video capture. Multiple microphones capture Hi-Res Audio and DTS virtual surround sound. The phone sports a 5.7-inch WQHD AMOLED display, Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 processor, 6 GB of RAM, 128 GB of storage, and a vapor cooling system. Other features include NFC, memory card slot, USB-C port, 3.5mm audio jack, and Cat 12 LTE. The 3,300 mAh battery supports Quick Charge 3.0. Verizon is selling the phone for $648, or $27 per month for 24 months on an installment plan. The phone will include the Wayfair augmented reality shopping application, which lets ZenFone AR owners add furniture and other items to their home virtually to see how it will look before making a purchase. People who order the phone from Verizon will be rewarded with a $25 Wayfair gift card. Asus is also selling unlocked versions of the phone directly to consumers with different RAM / storage combinations. The 6 GB / 64 GB model costs $599, while the 8 GB / 128 GB model costs $699.
Verizon Wireless says it has attained peak download speeds as high as 953 Mbps in a field test conducted on Boca Raton, Fla. The test was completed with commercially available equipment from Ericsson and Qualcomm using Verizon's cell tower and backhaul. The companies took advantage of four-channel carrier aggregation, 4x4 MIMO, and 256 QAM on a device equipped with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor and Snapdragon X16 LTE modem. Verizon says it reached those speeds via LTE-LAA (licensed assisted access), which bundles together Verizon-owned spectrum with unlicensed spectrum, such as that used by WiFi networks. This type of gigabit LTE service will bridge today's LTE 4G networks with the 5G networks of the future. Verizon says multiple gigabit LTE devices are already available in the market, such as the Samsung Galaxy S8, but it did not say if or when it might begin deploying LTE-LAA across its own network.
Motorola today said the Moto E4 Plus, which it announced in June, will reach various sales channels later this week. The unlocked variant will be available from Amazon, Best Buy, B&H, Fry's, Newegg, and Motorola.com starting August 3 for $180. Verizon Wireless plans to sell its own version of the Moto E4 Plus on August 3 too, though Verizon's pricing wasn't immediately available. Sprint, Ting, and other U.S. retailers will stock the Moto E4 Plus beginning August 11, with Republic Wireless to follow August 14. Motorola will also sell an Amazon Prime Exclusive version of the Moto E4 Plus, though pricing on the Amazon model wasn't announced. The Moto E4 Plus boasts a metal design, and improves the screen size compared to the standard E4 to 5.5 inches (still 720p HD) and the battery to a massive 5,000mAh. The phone ships with a 10W charger for rapid power-ups. The E4 Plus also packs a 13-megapixel main camera with f/2.0 aperture, LED flash, and autofocus, and a 5-megapixel front camera with selfie flash.