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.
ZTE today said it is making the ZMax 2 smartphone available to consumers unlocked. The phone was originally sold via TracFone earlier this year, but is now online directly from ZTE. The full price of the phone is $179.99, but ZTE is running a limited sale price of $129.99. The ZMax 2 has a 5.5-inch 720p HD screen; quad-core 1.2GHz processor with 2GB of RAM and 16GB of storage; 8-megapixel main camera with full HD vide capture and a 2-megapixel user-facing camera. It includes Bluetooth 4.0, GPS, WiFi, and LTE radios. The phone packs a 3,000 mAh battery. The ZMax 2 runs Android 5.1 Lollipop and is compatible with the networks operated by AT&T, T-Mobile, and their prepaid businesses, Cricket Wireless and MetroPCS, respectively.
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.
Microsoft has made Windows 10 Mobile Technical Preview build 10586 available to Windows Insiders. This build focuses on cleaning up bugs, according to Microsoft. For example, Microsoft resolved an issue that corrupted the Start screen. It also made it possible to set memory cards as the default storage location and cleaned up corruption issues that renamed memory cards. Messaging and Skype have been improved with conversation-loading fixes. The camera button on phones that have them should be working once more. Last, apps and games should download from the Microsoft Store more reliably. There are still some known issues in the preview, but Microsoft says the build performs well. Windows 10 Mobile is nearing public readiness. Microsoft has said the operating system will reach consumers in December. This week also marks the launch of the first Windows 10 Mobile smartphones. Microsoft has made the Lumia 950 and 950 XL available from its web site, and AT&T is selling the Lumia 950 in stores starting Friday.
Apple has made a fourth beta of iOS 9.2 available to developers and public beta testers alike. The feature list for iOS 9.2 is small. It chiefly updates the Safari View Controller and adds support for AT&T's NumberSync. The beta can be downloaded over the air.
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.
AT&T today announced a new application called Recharge that makes it possible to buy voice minutes or texts for customers in other countries. The idea is to allow postpaid AT&T customers to connect with family and friends via the prepaid accounts owned by those relatives in their home country. AT&T customers interested in buying airtime credits for their family/friends will need to download the app, sign into their account, and choose the appropriate international number. AT&T will apply credits of $10, $15, $20, or $30 to the prepaid phone accounts of people in Barbados, Belize, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, and Peru. The account credits can be applied to voice, messaging, or data services. AT&T is limiting these transactions to one per month. The credits are billed to the AT&T customer's postpaid account.
Microsoft is allowing U.S. consumers to order the Lumia 950 XL, unlocked, from its web site for $649. Microsoft lists a ship date of Nov. 25 for orders placed today. The 950 XL comes with a free Microsoft Display Dock (while supplies last), which transforms the handset into a full PC when attached to a keyboard, mouse, and display. The 950 XL is the larger brother of the 950. It has a 5.7-inch quad HD screen, Snapdragon 810 processor with 3GB of RAM, 20-/5-megapixel camera arrangement, and a 3,340mAh battery. It runs Windows 10 Mobile and is compatible with the LTE networks operated by AT&T and T-Mobile in the U.S.
AT&T today said the Microsoft Lumia 950 smartphone will be available online Nov. 17 and in stores Nov. 20. The 950 is the first handset to run Windows 10 Mobile. Some of the core features include a 5.2-inch quad HD display; Snapdragon 808 processor with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage; 20-megapixel main camera and 5-megapixel front camera with 4K video capture; and a QuickCharge 3,000mAh battery. AT&T is offering a handful of financing methods for the Lumia 950. First, AT&T will sell it for $149.99 with a two-year contract ($45 activation fee req'd). Second, AT&T will sell it via monthly installments with an AT&T Next plan ($15 activation fee req'd). Customers can get the 950 for $19.97 per month with a Next 24 plan, $24.96 per month with Next 18, or $29.95 per month with Next 12. The full retail price is $599. The Lumia 950 will be available in matte black or matte white. The smartphone works like a PC when paired with the Microsoft Display Dock HD-500 (sold separately). AT&T did not say if or when the Lumia 950 XL will go on sale.
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.
AT&T is prepared to make it less expensive for customers to roam in Mexico. The new AT&T Mexico Roaming Bonus is available to all Mobile Share Value customers beginning Friday at no extra cost. Roaming access in Mexico doesn't require a monthly fee. Customers have access to unlimited texting to anywhere in the world, unlimited talking to Mexican numbers, and unlimited talking from Mexico to the U.S. Calls made from by AT&T customers from Mexico to countries other than Mexico or the U.S. will be charged at standard international rates. Further, the AT&T Mexico Roaming Bonus offers 1GB of free data to use when roaming in Mexico. Overages are charged at $20 per 1GB. The AT&T Mexico Roaming Bonus will be available starting Friday, Nov. 13. The option must be added to each line before traveling to Mexico.
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.
Joan Marsh, AT&T's vice president of federal and regulatory affairs, today prosed that the FCC use existing rules to help organizations on opposite sides of the LTE-U debate find some middle ground. LTE-U is the use of LTE services over unlicensed spectrum, or WiFi frequencies. Proprietors of WiFi gear and networks worry about interference and don't want cellular network operators to encroach on what they see as their turf. Meanwhile, carriers want to use unlicensed spectrum to help offset capacity needs on their cellular (and licensed) spectrum. AT&T calls LTE-U opponents' fears unfounded, but recognizes that everyone must agree to move forward. Marsh believes the FCC can use laws built into the 1996 Telecommunications Act to manage interference concerns. The heart of the matter relies on how the FCC chooses to define words such as "willful" and "malicious" and "cause interference." In short, Marsh believes setting clear definitions will give the FCC the teeth it needs to ensure LTE-U proponents have the access they want without causing the interference LTE-U opponents fear. "We need a clear framework that will allow those technologies and the innovators behind them to continue to deliver on the promise that unlicensed spectrum offers — to innovate free from burdensome regulatory requirements and exclusionary conduct by incumbents for the benefit of wireless consumers everywhere — while ensuring existing users that all will be required by the FCC to act reasonably and play fair," concluded Marsh.
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.
Apple today released iOS 9.2 Beta 3 to developers and public testers. The beta operating system further refines the code so it runs smoother. iOS 9.2's biggest feature includes a change to the Safari View Controller, which now supports third-party Action Extensions for pop-up Safari windows. The updated OS also adds support for AT&T's NumberSync calling feature. The beta is free to download and test ahead of the general public release.
AT&T has asked the FCC for permission to purchase two Lower 700 MHz C Block licenses from Peoples Wireless in Texas. If granted, AT&T would hold 24 MHz of contiguous, paired Lower 700 MHz spectrum in the two cellular market areas in question. AT&T says this would let it deploy 10x10 MHz LTE carrier aggregation and improve coverage/performance. The two CMAs cover 17 counties across Texas. AT&T could hold between 30 and 55 MHz of below-1GHz spectrum in the CMAs, which triggers additional scrutiny from the FCC. The agency has accepted the filings and set up the initial set of target dates for petitions to deny, oppositions, and replies. Small transactions such as this are common between companies. AT&T did not place a dollar value on the spectrum transfer.
AT&T and Sprint stores are now selling the HTC One A9. The phone's introductory price of $399 is no longer available, and HTC and its carrier partners are charging full price for the handset. AT&T is offering the One A9 for $17.34, $21.67, or $26 per month with its Next 24, Next 18, or Next 12 payment plans, respectively. Alternately, customers can pay $99.99 if they are willing to sign a two-year contract. Sprint is leasing the One A9 for $20 per month, financing it for $29 per month, or asking for $199.99 up front with a contract. The One A9 sports a premium metal unibody design with thin profile. Key features include 5-inch full-HD display, 13-megapixel camera, fingerprint reader, NFC, and memory card slot.
Apple today made iOS 9.2 beta 2 available to beta testers. The release follows a similar beta made available to developers yesterday. iPhone owners are free to sign up for the public beta program and install the pre-release operating system. Apple said iOS 9.2 beta 2 makes improvements to the Safari View Controller, which can now be dismissed by swiping. The beta brings with it support for AT&T's NumberSync service, as well, which will let iPhone, Mac, iPad, and Apple Watch owners make/receive calls from any of their devices. Like the developer beta, the new public beta also resolves iCloud Keychain and Apple Watch bugs. iOS 9.2 beta 2 is free to download and test.
AT&T today announced the SpareOne Emergency Phone, a simple handset meant purely to serve as a backup phone for critical situations. The SpareOne runs on AA batteries, rather than a rechargeable lithium-polymer power cell. The batteries provide about 11 hours of talk time and about 10 days of standby time. The SpareOne also includes a flashlight, glow-in-the-dark keypad, siren, and SOS alert. The phone comes with a service called Locate & Alert, which can be used to alert up to nine contacts in an emergency, who will be given the SpareOne owner's location. AT&T suggests the handset would be ideal for young children, outdoor adventurers, or grandparents. The SpareOne Emergency Phone costs $59.99 and service costs $25 per year with 120 voice minutes. The SpareOne reaches AT&T stores Nov. 6.
AT&T today said customers can place orders for the HTC One A9 smartphone starting today. The phone will reach stores Nov. 6. AT&T is offering the One A9 for $0 down followed buy monthly payments of $17.34, $21.67, or $26 with a Next 24, Next 18, or Next 12 plan, respectively. Alternately, the handset is available for $99.99 with a two-year contract. AT&T did not specify full retail pricing, though HTC is selling the One A9 unlocked via HTC.com for $399 through Nov. 6.
AT&T today revealed its launch plans for the BlackBerry Priv smartphone, which reaches stores Nov. 6. Customers will have several purchasing options for the phone. The Priv will cost $24.67 per month with a Next 24 plan, $30.84 with a Next 18 plan, or $37 with a Next 12 plan. Alternately, customers can pay $249.99 with a two-year contract, or the full retail price of $699. The Priv is BlackBerry's first Android smartphone. It is a vertical slider that has a 5.4-inch curved display, 18-mnegapixel camera, and 3,410mAh battery.
AT&T today said the Samsung Gear S2 and LG Watch Urbane will be available online Nov. 6. These two LTE-connected wearables will be the first to support NumberSync, the service from AT&T that lets customers send and receive texts, as well as make and receive calls on the wearable from their primary phone number. The Gear S2 (pictured) will reach AT&T stores Nov. 20 for $0 down and $15 per month with an installment plan, or for $199.99 with a two-year contract. Cellular service for the Gear S2 costs $10 per month when added to a Mobile Share Value plan. Pricing for the LG Watch Urbane is identical, but it reaches stores Nov. 13.
LG today marked the official arrival of the V10 smartphone, which has dual-front cameras and a secondary display. The device is on sale in the U.S., as well as China and Hong Kong. Today's launch will be followed in other markets across North America, Europe, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East throughout the fourth quarter. T-Mobile is the lone U.S. carrier selling the V10 in stores today, though AT&T and Verizon are accepting orders online. AT&T plans to stock the device in stores Nov 6.
T-Mobile said its LTE 4G network now reaches 300 million Americans, a significant milestone for the Uncarrier. The company says it is ahead of schedule, and will add coverage to one million square miles this year. For example, the carrier recently lit up Missoula, Kalispell, Butte, Helena, and Anaconda, Montana, and plans to light up many more cities around the country. The company has long been playing a game of coverage catch-up with larger rivals AT&T and Verizon Wireless, both of which cover more than 310 million people with their LTE networks. T-Mobile recently reported quarterly earnings, and recorded 2.3 million new connections, with 1.1 million new post-paid customers. The company generated revenue of about $1.9 billion and a net profit of $138 million.
Samsung today said Samsung Pay will soon be supported by more financial institutions. This means a broader range of consumers will be able to add their credit or debit cards to Samsung Pay. Some of the new banks include Chase, PNC Bank, TD Bank, SunTrust, Fifth Third Bank, First Hawaiian, Key Bank, Silicon Valley Bank, Security Service Federal Credit Union, Navy Federal Credit Union, Virginia Credit Union, Associated Bank, Randolph Brooks Federal Credit Union, and People’s United Bank. Each of these card issuers will be added to Samsung Pay over the next few months. The American Express, MasterCard, and Visa payment networks already support Samsung Pay, and Samsung said Discover will join early next year. Moreover, Samsung Pay will soon add support for gift cards, loyalty cards, and store-issued credit cards. Samsung Pay is compatible with NFC- and MST-equipped terminals, unlike Apple Pay and Android Pay, which only work with NFC. Samsung says about three-quarters of payments made so far via Samsung Pay have been at MST-equipped terminals. Samsung Pay is available to the Galaxy S6, S6 Edge, S6 Edge+, and Note 5 on AT&T, Sprint. T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless.
Google said customer loyalty programs and other consumer-facing benefits are headed to Android Pay. Speaking at a finance conference in Las Vegas, Google's SVP of ads and commerce, Sridhar Ramaswamy, said the service has signed up "millions" of people since launch. Despite linking a credit or debit card with Android Pay, more than 60% of these newcomers have yet to use the service. In order to entice usage, Google and Coke are rolling out a rewards program. Consumers who use Android Pay to purchase beverages at Coke's NFC-equipped vending machines will earn points towards future purchases. Similar promotions with other vendors are in the works. Google is also looking to its carrier partners to drum up support for Android Pay. Retail reps at AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon stores are expected to mention Android Pay to consumers who purchase Android handsets. Android Pay launched last month and competes with Apple Pay and Samsung Pay. Like Apple Pay, Android Pay relies on NFC-equipped payment terminals at supporting retailers. Android Pay has the support of American Express, MasterCard, and Visa, but lacks support from some of the largest card issuers, including JPMorgan Chase. Chase recently announced its own mobile payment service.
AT&T today unrolled a new program that will reward customers who engage in certain activities with extra mobile data. Customers can participate in surveys, sign up for subscriptions, or shop from their phone and earn Data Perks. Perks are rewarded in 25MB increments. AT&T will allow customers to transfer up to 1GB of Perk data to their wireless account for use in a single billing period. Perk rewards are managed through a separate account and app for Android and iOS devices. As consumers participate in activities, they'll earn more Data Perks. Customers can tap into their banked Perk data any time, but once data is transferred from the Perk account to their wireless account, the mobile data expires at the end of the current building period. Customers can bank an unlimited amount of data in their Perk account, which will remain available for at least 12 months after it is earned. Data Perks can be shared across Mobile Share Value plan members. AT&T says some of the companies offering perks include Fandango, Hotel Tonight, and Rosetta Stone. More will join over time. AT&T offers other incentives for customers, such as its Plenti points-earning program. AT&T created Data Perks with partner Aquto.
AT&T today said the LG G Vista 2 will go on sale beginning Nov. 6. This second-generation phablet improves the screen to 5.7 inches with full HD resolution and makes revisions to the stylus for improved input. The phone is powered by an octa-core Snapdragon 617 processor with 2GB of RAM and 16GB of on-board storage. It features a 13-megapixel rear camera with laser-assisted focus and professional mode. The 5-megapixel front camera includes Gesture Shot and Selfie Light. LG says the 3,000mAh battery is removable, and the phone supports memory cards up to 32GB. The LG G Vista 2 runs Android 5.1 Lollipop and includes LG's signature apps, such as QuickMemo, QSlide, as well as KnockOn. AT&T is asking for $14.97 per month with a Next 24 plan, or $18.71 with Next 18, $22.45 with Next 12, or $49.99 with a two-year contract.
AT&T and T-Mobile today provided details about their respective plans to sell the LG V10 smartphone. AT&T will begin accepting orders online Oct. 27, and the V10 will reach stores Nov. 6. AT&T is offering a 200GB memory card with the V10 purchase. AT&T is asking for $23.34 per month with a Next 24 plan, or $29.17 with Next 18, $35 with Next 12, or $249.99 with a two-year contract. T-Mobile will commence online sales of the LG V10 on Oct. 28 and in-store sales on Oct. 30. T-Mobile is asking for a monthly payment of $25 when enrolled in Jump On Demand. Alternately, customers can pay $599.99 up front, which T-Mobile says is $100 off the list price of $699.99. The V10 is notable thanks to its extra front display, used for revealing alerts and select controls. The V10 has a 5.7-inch had HD screen, 16-megapixel main camera, dual 5-megapixel front-facing cameras. The phone has a hardened exterior for shock resistance and is powered by a Snapdragon 808 processor. It ships with Android 5.1 Lollipop.
BlackBerry today made the Priv, its first Android smartphone, available for preorder. The device is a vertical slider that includes a touchscreen and a physical QWERTY keyboard. Like the BlackBerry Passport, the Priv's keyboard can be used to move the cursor around and scroll through web sites, emails, and documents. The Android operating system includes exclusive BlackBerry apps and DTEK for managing privacy. DTEK gives owners granular control over device permissions and what personal data is shared with third parties. The phone includes BlackBerry Hub for managing email, BBM, text messages, and other communications. The Priv has a 5.4-inch quad HD screen with curved edges. The phone is powered by a Snapdragon 808 processor with two cores at 1.8GHz and four cores at 1.2GHz. The processor is accompanied by an Adreno 418 GPU, 3GB of RAM, and 32GB of storage. The camera has an 18-megapixel sensor with an aperture of f/2.2, optical image stabilization, two-tone LED flash, and HDR, panorama, and burst modes. It can capture 4K video. The user-facing camera has a 2-megapixel camera with wide-angle selfie mode. The Priv packs an integrated 3,410mAh battery, which supports rapid charging and provides more than 22 hours of mixed user. Wireless radios include Bluetooth 4.1, GPS, NFC, WiFi, and LTE (AT&T/T-Mobile). The phone costs $699 and will begin shipping Nov. 6.
AT&T recently revealed the LG G Vista 2 in a video posted to its YouTube channel. The second-generation phablet includes a 5.7-inch display and revised stylus for creative input. The screen resolution has been improved to full HD and the processor bumped to an octa-core engine with 2 GB of RAM. The G Vista 2 has a 13-megapixel main camera and 5-megapixel selfie camera with flash. The main camera app boasts a professional mode for fine-tuning the settings. The LG G Vista 2 runs Android and includes LG's signature apps, such as QuickMemo, QSlide, as well as KnockOn. AT&T didn't say when the phone will go on sale, nor how much it will cost.
Kyocera has revealed the Hydro Air, a new waterproof smartphone headed to AT&T's prepaid GoPhone service, on its web site. The Hydro Air features a 5-inch quarter HD (960 x 540) display that supports wet-finger use. Kyocera says the phone is rated IP57 against liquid ingress, meaning it can sit in 3 feet of water for up to 30 minutes. The phone is powered by a 1.2GHz quad-core processor with 1GB of RAM, 8GB of storage, and support for memory cards up to 32GB. The main camera has a 5-megapixel sensor and can capture full HD video, and the front camera has a 2-megapixel sensor. The Hydro Air has a 2,300mAh battery, which cannot be removed. The device ships with Android 5.1 Lollipop and will cost $99 when it reaches stores.
AT&T today said it will soon offer the DuraForce XD, a rugged Android phablet from Kyocera. The DuraForce XD picks up where last year's DuraForce left off with a bigger 5.7-inch HD screen with wet-finger tracking and glove support. Despite the increase in size, the XD maintains the DuraForce's mil-spec 810G and IP68 ratings for protection against abuse and liquids. It is safe from drops, shock, vibration, temperature extremes, blowing rain, low pressure, high altitude, solar radiation, salt fog, humidity, and a dunk in the drink (6 feet for 30 minutes). It is safe to use in some potentially work hazardous work environments, such as places with flammable gases or vapors. The phone supports AT&T's enhanced-PTT service and comes with a bevy of business-friendly apps and services. The XD has loud, dual speakers that can reach 110dB, and it includes a 3,700mAh battery. The Kyocera DuraForce XD will go on sale in a few weeks. Pricing wasn't revealed.
Verizon Wireless updated its Verizon Message+ app for iPhones, adding the ability to make phone calls over WiFi. In order for WiFi calling to work, Verizon iPhone owners will need to switch on the advanced calling function of their phone. WiFi calls can only be completed via the Verizon Message+ app. Using the native iOS dialer still passes calls through Verizon's cellular network. The app also adds electronic gifting, improved media search, and scheduled messaging for sending texts at specific times/dates. WiFi calling is available to the Apple iPhone 6, 6 Plus, 6s, and 6s Plus. Verizon hasn't said if or when it might make WiFi calling available to Android handsets. The Verizon Message+ app is free to download from the iTunes App Store. Verizon's offering trails that of its competitors. AT&T launched WiFi calling last week, while Sprint and T-Mobile have offered the feature for about a year. WiFi calling is useful for making calls when cellular network coverage is poor.
T-Mobile plans to roll out a service similar to AT&T's NumberSync at some point, according to CTO Mike Sievert. "What we are working on will make this version one offering from AT&T look small," said Sievert to Re/code. "Our strategy is to ask customers what they want and need, and then build it. AT&T's is to build or buy things, and then try to convince customers they asked for it." NumberSync, from AT&T, will let customers use a single number across multiple devices, such as phones, tablets, and smartwatches. The basic principle is to make it easy for people with multiple devices in a single account use them all for calls and messaging. AT&T's NumberSync will arrive later this month. T-Mobile didn't say when it's version of this feature will arrive.
AT&T today announced NumberSync, a tool that will allow multiple devices (phone, tablet, smartwatch) to rely on a single phone number. The idea is to allow customers to make/receive phone calls and send/receive messages from the account holder's primary phone number, rather than several different numbers like those often assigned to SIM-enabled devices even if they aren't generally used for calls. AT&T says the service can work across operating systems and hardware makers, and will function even if the primary device isn't powered on. The service can consolidate voicemails into a single inbox, as well. NumberSync relies on AT&T network technology, not proximity-based tools like Bluetooth. The carrier is working with handset vendors to ensure device compatibility. AT&T said the first device to support NumberSync will be available later this month, and more devices will become compatible over time. AT&T is offering NumberSync for free.
AT&T today enabled WiFi calling on the iPhone. iPhone owners who've updated to iOS 9 can make and receive voice calls via WiFi rather than cellular networks. The feature is meant to help people remain connected when cellular coverage is poor. WiFi calling can be set up directly from the iPhone and requires several steps. AT&T says customers have to have a post-paid account set-up wth HD Voice in order to activate the feature. WiFi calling works automatically with the subscriber's existing phone number. The service is free to use. Earlier this week, the FCC granted AT&T permission to offer WiFi calling by approving a waiver concerning services for hard-of-hearing customers. Sprint and T-Mobile have offered WiFi calling for the better part of a year with no such waiver from the FCC. AT&T chided the FCC for failing to take any sort of corrective action against them.