One2Touch has a new keyboard case for Android phones called SlimType that uses NFC technology in a unique way to connect to a phone. Most keyboard cases have a battery or physical connector that adds bulk. The SlimType, however, draws power from the phone using NFC, and also uses NFC to communicate with the phone, eliminating the need for a Bluetooth radio. The standard SlimType model is no thicker than a typical leather flip case. The current model is optimized for the Samsung Galaxy S6 and S7, but can work with some other Android phones with NFC. A larger model adds a rigid kickstand. An even larger non-case model provides a full-size keyboard. The standard model is available now from Amazon for $40. Read on for our hands-on impressions and more about the clever technology behind it.
AT&T today began distributing the Android 6.0 Marshmallow system update to the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+ and Galaxy Note 5. The update includes the standard list of Marshmallow features, such as Now On Tap, Doze, and improved permissions. It also adds support for AT&T Video Calling. The update resolves bugs and security issues and smoothes out performance, as well. AT&T says the update is being pushed out over the air and should be downloaded via WiFi. It may take a few days to reach all users.
Verizon Wireless has begun distributing a security update to its version of the Samsung Galaxy Note 5. The phone is receiving the June security patch from Google, which resolves a number of vulnerabilities. Google published details of the June security patch earlier this month. It plugs 21 holes, of which a handful could have led to remote code execution. Verizon says the update also optimizes device performance and takes care of a few other bugs. The update will appear automatically, but may also be initiated manually from the phone. The update can be downloaded via WiFi or LTE. Verizon recently pushed the same update to the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge.
Verizon Wireless has added the Samsung Galaxy J3 to its lineup of inexpensive smartphones. The J3, which has been for sale from Boost Mobile and other carriers since early this year, has a 5-inch 720p screen, 1.2 GHz quad-core processor, 16 GB (postpaid) or 8 GB (prepaid) of storage, 5-megapixel main camera with flash, 2-megapixel front camera, and 2,600mAh battery. Notably, Verizon's version of the phone ships with Android 6.0 Marshmallow. Earlier versions of the phone shipped with Lollipop. The phone costs $168 at full retail, which breaks down to $7 per month for 24 months. Verizon is also offering the phone for $40 with a two-year contract, or for $110 when purchased from Verizon's prepaid service. The Samsung Galaxy J3 is available online starting today. It will reach Verizon's stores on June 23.
Walmart today launched its mobile payment service, Walmart Pay, at 120 of its retail stores in Alabama. The service, announced late last year, works with Android and iOS smartphones. Rather than rely on NFC or MST for tap-and-go transactions, Walmart Pay involves the Walmart mobile app. Customers can add most any credit or debit card to the Walmart app for purchases. At checkout, users need to open the app and launch the camera. Using the camera, customers scan a code displayed at the register. This activates the transaction. The associate scans and bags the items and the final amount due is taken from the credit/debit card associated with the app. Customers will receive an electronic receipt that is saved in the app. Walmart initially expected to deploy the technology around the country by mid-year, but Alabama is the first statewide deployment so far. Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, and Android Pay all allow users to tap their phones on retail payment terminals to make purchases. Walmart has resisted supporting these competitive mobile payment services in favor of its own. CurrentC, another mobile payment app developed by the Merchant Customer Exchange, was recently cancelled. Apple and Google have both outlined plans to expand their mobile payment services to the web in the months ahead.
Samsung today said it has agreed to acquire Joyent, a U.S.-based cloud services provider. Samsung will use Joyent's assets to support various products, including mobile devices, internet of things, and its own cloud-based software. Samsung's competitors, such as Apple and Microsoft, offer cloud services like iCloud and OneDrive to help tie together their respective ecosystems. Joyent will help Samsung fill that gap in its online services. Joyent will continue to operate as a standalone company and will retain its current client base. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. The acquisition is subject to customary closing conditions.
T-Mobile today said it and its prepaid brand MetroPCS will kick off sales of the Samsung Galaxy On5 later this month. The On5 is an inexpensive Android smartphone with a 5-inch 720p HD display, 5-megapixel main camera with LED flash, and 2-megapixel front camera. The On5 is powered by a quad-core Samsung Exynos processor, and the phone includes 1.5 GB of RAM and 8 GB of storage. A memory card slot lets users expand storage up to 128 GB. The phone runs Android 6 Marshmallow with Samsung's TouchWiz user interface, including East Home. Samsung gave the On5 a 2,600mAh battery. MetroPCS will sell the Galaxy On5 starting June 27 for $59 (after $70 rebate) and T-Mobile will sell the phone starting June 29 for $140, or $5.83 per month for 24 months.
Verizon Wireless has begun distributing a security update for its versions of the Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge. Both phones will receive the June security patch from Google, which resolves a number of vulnerabilities. Google published details of the June security patch earlier this month. It plugs 21 holes, of which a handful could have led to remote code execution. Verizon says the update also optimizes device performance and takes care of a few other bugs. The update will appear automatically, but may also be initiated manually directly from the phone. The update can be downloaded via WiFi or LTE.
Facebook today made it possible for people to upload and view 360-degree imagery. The tool includes support for panorama-style photos, as well as full 360-degree photos or photo spheres. Facebook says it will call out 360-degree images with a little compass icon, and users will be able to interact with them both on mobile devices as well as the web. People can view 360-degree photos through Samsung's Gear VR headset, as well. Facebook says a number of organizations, such as NASA, have prepared 360-degree photos that will be available on Facebook soon. Facebook plans to update its Android and iOS mobile apps in the next couple of days, which will include the ability to upload 360-degree photos. Facebook already supports 360-degree video.
Verizon Wireless said it will discontinue its $2.99 Visual Voicemail service come July 8. All customers who use the Visual Voicemail app will be transitioned to Verizon's free, basic voicemail service. Verizon says customers won't lose their existing voicemails, but may need to make room in their voicemail inbox, as well as reset their voicemail greeting. The list of phones impacted by the change is significant, including old and new models from BlackBerry, Casio, HTC, Kyocera, LG, Motorola, Nokia, Pantech, and Samsung. Verizon did not say why it is discontinuing the Visual Voicemail service.
The Merchant Customer Exchange said that its CurrentC mobile payment service will be shut down in its current form later this month. "We will be concluding our beta on June 28, 2016," said the MCX web site. "Please stay tuned for new information on CurrentC as our future plans evolve." CurrentC is a mobile payment service created by a collection of retailers, including Walmart, Best Buy, Dunkin Donuts, Kmart, Old Navy, Kohl's, Lowes, and others. It was meant to compete with Apple Pay, Android Pay, and Samsung Pay. The service was initially beta tested in Columbus, Ohio. Last month, MCX delayed the national rollout of CurrentC and said it planned to evaluate its future. Now, according to the MCX web site, the organization said it has "not yet determined the future timing of CurrentC, but we will keep you posted." None of the retailers that supported CurrentC have announced plans to support the other mobile payment services being used by today's smartphone owners.
Samsung is back with another semi-rugged variant of its flagship smartphone. The Galaxy S7 Active is tougher than the standard S7, but offers most of the same specs and features. If you need a phone that's built stronger than most, the S7 Active fits the bill. It's more than enough phone for the outdoorsman, field worker, and, well, the downright clumsy.
Samsung today announced the Galaxy S7 Active, a semi-rugged version of its S7 flagship smartphone. The Active has a sturdier metal frame with rubber-coated corners to help protect it. The S7 Active is certified to mil-spec 810G, which means it can handle shock, vibration, fog/humidity, dirt, and temperature extremes. It also has an IP68 rating for protection against liquids; the Active can sit in a meter of water for up to 30 minutes. Like previous Active-branded handsets from Samsung, the S7 Active carries over most features from the standard S7. It is powered by a Snapdragon 820 processor with 4 GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage, it supports memory cards, and has a hardened, shatter-resistant 5.1-inch quad HD screen. The S7 Active relies on the same 12-megapixel main camera from the S7, as well as the same 5-megapixel user-facing camera. It boasts a large number of radios (Bluetooth, GPS, NFC, WiFi), and includes some 15 LTE bands. At 4,000mAh, the Active has a 33% larger battery than the S7, and it supports adaptive fast charging in addition to wireless charging. The phone runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow with Samsung's TouchWiz user interface customizations and apps. The Samsung Galaxy S7 Active hits AT&T's web site and retail stores beginning June 10. The device will cost $26.50 per month on an AT&T Next plan, or $33.13 per month on an AT&T Next Every Year plan. The full retail price is about $795.
Samsung today announced two new fitness-themed wearables. The Gear Fit2 is a second-generation, wrist-worn activity tracker with GPS and heart rate monitor. Like the original, the Fit2 has a curved, Super AMOLED touchscreen that can be used to track activity as well as check notifications. The device can record workouts automatically, transfer fitness data to Samsung's S Health app, and play locally stored music. The Fit2 runs the Tizen operating system, has a 200mAh battery, and goes on sale June 10. The IconX is a pair of Bluetooth wireless earbuds that are wholly free of wires. Each earbud contains its own 47mAh battery. The carrying case holds another 315mAh battery to recharge the earbuds. The IconX are activated when users place them in their ears. The earbuds are able to track distance, speed, duration, pulse, and burned calorie data; offer voice guidance for feedback during workouts; and store and playback 1,000 songs thanks to 4 GB of internal storage. The earbuds feature capacitive controls to make them easier to use. The Gear IconX will go on sale during the third quarter. Samsung did not reveal pricing details for the new wearables.
- K10: The K10 relies on LG's older design language and features rear-mounted volume controls. It has a 5.3-inch HD screen with 2.5D arc glass, a 1.27 GHz quad-core processor, 8-megapixel main camera, and 5-megapixel selfie camera with flash. The K10 has 16 GB of storage and ships with a 2,200mAh battery. It runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow and costs $160, but MetroPCS is selling the LG K10 for $99 after rebates.
- Galaxy J7: The J7 is a mid-range phone that resembles many of Samsung's inexpensive handsets. The J7 has a 5.5-inch HD screen, 1.5 GHz octa-core processor, 13-megapixel main camera, and 5-megapixel selfie camera — both with an LED flash. The J7 offers 16 GB of storage and ships with a 3,000mAh battery. It also runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow. MetroPCS is selling the Galaxy J7 for $180 after a $50 rebate.
Verizon Wireless has begun pushing Android 6.0 Marshmallow to the Samsung Galaxy S5 and Galaxy Note 4 smartphones. The update delivers core features from Marshmallow, such as Now On Tap for contextually relevant search, Doze for better power management, and expanded permissions for more explicit control over apps. The new software also brings with it WiFi Calling, high-quality audio, Android for Work, and refreshed app icons. Verizon recommends that S5 and Note 4 owners download and install the system update via WiFi. The update will reach most devices over the next few days, but users can manually update if they wish.
KFC said its U.S restaurants will soon support Android Pay, Apple Pay, and Samsung Pay. Some stores will accept the three mobile payment services beginning today, and KFC expects all stores to support Android Pay, Apple Pay, and Samsung Pay by the end of the summer. KFC's deployment is notable in that it supports multiple services at once. Android Pay and Apple Pay require NFC-equipped retail terminals, while Samsung Pay can use NFC- and MST-based terminals. KFC said it will accept mobile payments at the drive-thru as well as in-store. The deployment is part of a series of investments that KFC is making to improve its stores.
Samsung said it will give a Gear VR headset to people who buy one of its Galaxy S smartphones between now and June 19. The qualifying handsets include the Samsung Galaxy S7 edge, Galaxy S7, Galaxy S6 edge+, Galaxy S6 edge, Galaxy S6, and Galaxy Note 5. Consumers who buy one of these phones from a participating retailer (carrier stores, Best Buy, CostCo, Sam's Club, Target, Walmart) can submit a claim form and Samsung will ship the headset. Samsung says the device must be purchased on an installment plan, purchased with a contract, leased, or bought outright to qualify for the offer. Samsung says it has 600,000 Gear VR headsets to give away. If more than 600,000 people submit claim forms, Samsung may choose to reward people with a $100 gift card to Samsung.com.
Samsung has revealed the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge Injustice Edition, inspired by Batman and the game of the same name. Samsung says the Galaxy S7 Edge Injustice Edition package includes a customized Galaxy S7 edge with black styling, gold detailing, and the Batman logo stenciled onto the back. The package also includes a Gear VR headset, along with Injustice game credits and Oculus VR content vouchers. The underlying handset is unchanged from the standard version of the Galaxy S7 Edge. The Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge Injustice Edition will be sold in China, Singapore, Korea, Latin America, Russia, and other yet-to-be-named markets. It goes on sale in early June. Pricing was not disclosed.
ZTE today announced the Axon 7, its flagship smartphone for 2016. ZTE designed the phone with the help of BMW Group's Designworks studio. The Axon 7 has a unibody aluminum design and clean lines; it comes in gold and silver finishes. The device features a 5.5-inch quad HD display with 2.5D curved glass. The phone is powered by a 2.2 GHz Snapdragon 820 processor with either 4 GB or 6 GB of RAM. The processor and 3,140mAh battery together support Quick Charge 3.0 and can deliver a 50% charge in 30 minutes. The main camera includes a 20-megapixel sensor from Samsung with optical and electronic image stabilization, sapphire lens, and an aperture of f/1.8. The selfie camera has an 8-megapixel camera. The phone can capture video up to 4K. Other standout features include dual AKM HiFi audio chipsets with Dolby Atmos software and stereo speakers, support for Google's Daydream virtual reality platform, support for memory cards, and a quick fingerprint sensor located on the back. The device adopts a USB Type-C connector. The Axon 7 ships with Android 6 Marshmallow and MiFavor 4.0 user interface, portions of which BMW's Designworks helped configure. The phone supports all U.S. LTE bands. It will be compatible with AT&T and T-Mobile and launch, with Sprint and Verizon compatibility coming later in the year. The Axon 7 is sold with Axon Passport 2.0, ZTE's two-year warranty plan that protects consumers from busted screens and other damage. The Axon 7 goes on sale in China today, but will reach the U.S. soon. The phone is priced under $500 and will be sold directly to consumers via ZTEusa.com, Amazon, Best Buy, B&H, ebay, and Newegg.
Huawei has filed lawsuits against Samsung in the U.S. and China, alleging the smartphone maker is using its patented technology without permission. Specifically, Huawei believes Samsung is infringing on a patent related to LTE wireless technology. "We hope Samsung will stop infringing our patents and get the necessary license from Huawei," said the company in a statement. Samsung did not immediately comment on the matter. This marks the first time a Chinese phone maker has filed a lawsuit against foreign firms; typically, Chinese firms have been the defendants in patent cases. Handset manufacturers often resort to patent lawsuits to force negotiations for royalties.
AT&T today added a handful of new handsets to a buy one, get one free offer the carrier has had in place since February. The extended BOGO promotion now applies to the Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge, the Microsoft Lumia 950, the HTC One A9, and the Kyocera DuraForce. The other handsets already included in the offer are the Apple iPhone 6s, 6s Plus; Samsung Galaxy S6, S6 Edge, S6 Edge Plus, S6 Active, and Note 5; and LG G5 and V10. The offer lets new and existing customers buy one phone at full price and receive a second one for free. The two handsets must come from the same manufacturer. AT&T says both phones must be purchased via its AT&T Next installment plan. The first phone can be a new line or an upgrade, but the second phone must be a new line purchased with an AT&T Next 24 plan (req's 30 payments). Both phones must be added to a qualified plan, such as Mobile Share Value, which starts at $70 for two lines. Customers will need to pay sales tax on the two phones at the time of purchase and may need to make several monthly payments on both before AT&T credits up to $650 for the second phone spread out over the 30 months. The offer is available through June 30.
Google today announced Daydream, a brand new platform for expanding virtual reality to more devices. The Daydream spec will be defined so hardware makers can make sure they create compatible phones. Android N will be able to tell if phones are Daydream ready based on the sensors, display, and processor within. Android N brings improvements to performance VR thanks to low latency (20ms) and the simplified system user interface. At the same time, Google created a blueprint for Daydream-compatible headsets. It will share the headset / controller blueprints with device makers. Google believes a secondary controller (like a small remote) will help the Daydream VR experience. Google expects Daydream-ready devices, including phones from Samsung, Alcatel, and Asus, to reach the market by fall.
Samsung today updated its Samsung Pay service in the U.S. to include merchant membership and loyalty cards. Samsung says Pay users can easily add loyalty cards to the app and use them during checkout to redeem rewards or discounts. Stored cards can be called up and scanned at the point of payment. The app can now also store personal identification and insurance cards for safe keeping. Samsung Pay is free to download from Samsung, though it is limited to high-end phones such as the Galaxy S6, S7, and Edge.
MCX, the consortium of retailers including Walmart and Target, has postponed the national rollout of its mobile payment service, called CurrentC. MCX tested CurrentC in several markets and has decided to step back from the roll out for the time being. "Utilizing unique feedback from the marketplace and our Columbus pilot, MCX has made a decision to concentrate more heavily in the immediate term on other aspects of our business including working with financial institutions, like our partnership with Chase, to enable and scale mobile payment solutions," said CEO Brian Mooney in a statement provided to TechCrunch. The company plans to lay off some staff in the meantime. Walmart, Target, and other retailers have shied away from Apple Pay, Android Pay, and Samsung Pay as they worked to develop CurrentC. It's not clear if any of these retailers will adopt competing mobile payment services to fill the gap.
Republic Wireless today said it has partnered with a new GSM-based carrier to help increase its service availability around the U.S. Republic launched as a WiFi-first service in 2011, and partnered with Sprint so customers could make calls, send messages, and surf the web when away from WiFi. Republic's new carrier partner is likely T-Mobile, though Republic Wireless did not say so directly. Republic will work with both Sprint and T-Mobile moving forward. With the new GSM partnership in place, Republic is set to expand its selection of devices to include some newer, top-tier Android phones. Beginning in July, Republic will offer the Samsung Galaxy S7/S7 Edge, S6, and J3, the Google Nexus 6P and 5X, and the Motorola Moto X Pure Edition — all of which run Android 6.0 Marshmallow. Republic said financing will be available for each handset. Customers will be able to bring their own GSM-based device if they so wish. Last, Republic said it is prepared to roll out new service plans. One such plan costs $20 per month and includes unlimited talk, text, and 1 GB of LTE. Republic will share more details about its new service plans in the weeks ahead.
Samsung today announced the EVO Plus 256 GB microSD card, what it claims is the highest-capacity memory card available for sale. Samsung says the card can hold 33 hours of full HD video, 12 hours of 4K / UHD video, 55,200 pictures, or 23,500 music files. It offers read/write speeds 95Mbps and 90Mbps, respectively. The card is heat, x-ray, magnet, and waterproof. The EVO Plus 256 GB microSD card will go on sale in the U.S. and other countries in June for $250.
T-Mobile today announced new pricing for family plans that sees the price drop to $30 per line. The plan includes unlimited talk, text, and 6 GB of LTE data per line, as well as standard T-Mobile features, such as Rollover Data, Music Unlimited, and Binge On. The same plan previously cost $35 per line, so the new promotion drops the price by a total of $20 for a family of four. Additional lines (5 and up) cost $20 each. T-Mobile is giving away a free Samsung smartphone, too. Customers who buy a Samsung Galaxy S7 or S7 Edge with at least one new line of service will receive a prepaid card for a free Samsung Galaxy Grand Prime handset. T-Mobile didn't say how long these promotions will be available.
The FCC and FTC today asked carriers and phone manufacturers how they handle security updates for their devices. The FCC sent letters to AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon Wireless, and other carriers, while the FTC queried Apple, Blackberry, Google, HTC, LG, Microsoft, Motorola, and Samsung. In particular, the agencies want to know: the factors carriers/OEMs consider in deciding whether to patch a vulnerability on a particular phone; data on the specific phones sold in the U.S. since August 2013; the vulnerabilities that have affected those devices; and whether and when the company patched such vulnerabilities. The government said the line of inquiry is to help it further understand how these companies do or do not protect consumers. "Consumers may be left unprotected, for long periods of time or even indefinitely, by any delays in patching vulnerabilities once they are discovered," said the FCC. "To date, operating system providers, original equipment manufacturers, and mobile service providers have responded to address vulnerabilities as they arise. There are, however, significant delays in delivering patches to actual devices — and that older devices may never be patched." Google provides monthly security updates to Nexus-branded Android devices, but individual phone makers lag badly. Apple provides occasional updates.
Verizon Wireless today made the Samsung Galaxy J3 available to its prepaid customers. The phone, which has been available from Boost Mobile since earlier this year, features a 5-inch HD screen, 5-megapixel camera, 1.2 GHz quad-core processor, 2,600mAh battery, and 8 GB of storage with support for memory cards up to 128 GB. It runs Android 5.1 Lollipop. The phone costs $110. Verizon Prepaid doesn't require contracts.
The U.S. International Trade Commission has agreed to investigate a complaint from Creative Technology / Creative Labs that accuses eight different smartphone makers of infringing on patents. The ITC is prepared to look at phones made by BlackBerry, HTC, Lenovo, LG, Motorola, Samsung, Sony, and ZTE. Creative Labs says these companies are violating a patent related to media playback on mobile devices. The ITC did not say when it might make an initial ruling on the matter. Companies often use the ITC as a venue to settle trade disagreements because the ITC has the power to institute import bans.
T-Mobile is pushing a minor update to its variants of the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge that improves performance of several features. Specifically, the revised system should offer enhanced voice services on both phones. A bug impacting the volume and power buttons has been eradicated. Last, the update makes unspecified changes to Samsung Pay. The update is available as an over-the-air download. T-Mobile suggests S7 and S7 Edge owners download it via WiFi. The update may take a few days to reach all devices.
Nvidia today said it has settled its patent-related litigation with Samsung. The company first sued Samsung in 2014 over smartphone patents and was later sued in turn by Samsung. In October 2015, Samsung was cleared of violating Nvidia's patents. In December 2015, a law judge with the U.S. International Trade Commission ruled Nvidia was guilty of violating Samsung's patents. That initial ruling was set to be reviewed today by the full ITC panel. The settlement sees each company licensing a few minor patents from one another, but it does not establish a broad cross-licensing agreement, nor does it establish large royalty payments. Terms of the settlement were not disclosed.
Samsung today said it plans to make its mobile payment service, Samsung Pay, available in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Singapore, Spain, and the U.K. later this year. The service is already available in the U.S. and Korea. In Korea, Samsung Pay will soon allow Woori Bank cardholders to withdraw cash from ATMs. Samsung said select ATMs will be fitted with the proper technology to sense Samsung Pay on Galaxy phones. Customers won't need to have their debit card to grab some cash. Samsung didn't say if it plans to expand the ATM functionality to other banks or other markets. Samsung Pay uses both NFC and magnetic strip technology to enable payments at most terminals that accept credit cards. Samsung also updated its SoundCamp music creation app, debuted new SDKs and APIs for its ConnectAuto program, announced an IoT platform called Artik Cloud, and expanded what developers can do with its Gear VR. The news was shared during Samsung's developer conference in San Francisco.
Sprint is rolling out Android 6.0 Marshmallow to the Samsung Galaxy S5 Sport and Galaxy Note Edge. The update is being pushed in phases, which Sprint expects to complete by May 11 for the S5 Sport and May 2 for the Note Edge. In addition to the operating system update, Sprint says the Galaxy Note Edge is also receiving the latest security patches from Samsung and Google. Sprint did not say if the Note Edge update includes the improved Edge Panel behaviors that have been made available to the S6 Edge and S6 Edge+.
Samsung and The Weather Channel have created an exclusive weather app only for owners of Galaxy-branded smartphones. The Weather Channel App for Samsung offers features the regular Weather Channel app does not include. For example, a tool called Smart Weather Wakeup will trigger users' alarm clocks a bit earlier than normal when bad weather may impact their routine. Another tool called Floating Shortcuts provides direct access to information such as current conditions or daily forecasts. The app includes new, dynamic weather backgrounds for Samsung phones, and targets Galaxy Edge models with customized alerts for the edge panel. The Weather Channel App for Samsung is available from the Galaxy Apps Store for the S6, S6 Edge, S6 Edge+, Note 5, S7, and S7 Edge. Samsung said it plans to eventually expand the app's availability to other platforms, including the Gear S2 smartwatch and select Samsung Smart TVs.
T-Mobile has begun delivering the Marshmallow system update to the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 and Galaxy S6 Edge+. The update brings the devices from Android 5.1.1 to Android 6.0.1. Marshmallow includes a handful of new features, such as Google Now On Tap, Doze, and advanced app permissions. The S6 Edge+, in particular, is also receiving the improved Edge Panel behaviors from Samsung, which offer more content and a broader set of tools for personalizing the panels. The update clocks in at about 1 GB and must be downloaded over WiFi. T-Mobile recently provided the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge with the same update.
Sprint's prepaid brands, Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile, plan to sell three low-cost smartphones in the weeks ahead, including the Kyocera Hydro Reach. The Reach (pictured) is an update to the Hydro Edge. It is water and dust proof, and the 5-inch qHD display supports wet finger tracking. The Hydro Reach is powered by a 1.1 GHz quad-core Snapdragon processor and comes with 1 GB of RAM and 8 GB of storage. The main camera has a 5-megapixel sensor and the user-facing camera has a 2-megapixel sensor. The device has a 2,160mAh battery and runs Android 5.1 Lollipop. The Hydro Reach will go on sale April 15 from Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile USA. It will cost $99. Boost and Virgin also plan to add the LG Stylo 2 and Samsung Galaxy J7, both announced earlier this year, to their rosters. The Stylo 2 will reach Boost stores April 15 and Virgin stores May 9. It will cost $179.99. The Galaxy J7 hits Boost stores on April 15 for $229.99, and Virgin on April 19.
Samsung has published details about the Galaxy E5, a low-cost Android handset intended for Tracfone. The E5 has a 5-inch, Super AMOLED 720p HD screen and is powered by a quad-core 1.2 GHz processor with 1.5 GB of RAM. The phone includes an 8-megapixel main camera with flash and full HD video capture, and a 5-megapixel front camera for selfies. The phone ships with 16 GB of storage and supports memory cards up to 64 GB. Connectivity options include Bluetooth 4.1, WiFi, and LTE. It runs Android 5.0.2 Lollipop. Tracfone has not yet listed the Samsung Galaxy E5 for sale, so pricing and availability are unknown.
Samsung has released an app for its Galaxy handsets, called Milk VR, that allows people to experience its library of 360-degree content without a virtual reality headset. The app lets Galaxy owners search for, download, and play 360-degree video content directly on their handset. Users play the downloaded videos and can then pan around the landscape. The videos are compatible with the Gear VR and can be played with or without the headset. The Milk VR app is available to the Galaxy S7, S7 Edge, S6, S6 Edge, S6 Edge+, and Note 5. It is free to download from the Google Play Store.