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printed October 24, 2014
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Apple Vindicated in Another Patent Troll Lawsuit

Yesterday, 7:23 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple beat back a lawsuit brought on by a small Honolulu-based company over mobile device patents. GPNE alleged that nine Apple products, including the iPhone and iPad, violated certain patents it holds regarding pager technology. GPNE is a patent holding and licensing firm. It doesn't make or sell products, but instead generates revenue through patent licensing fees and litigation. It was seeking $94 million in damages from Apple. The case was overseen by U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh in San Jose. Koh is a familiar character in Apple trials, and has presided over its large cases against Samsung. Apple was pleased with the court's decision. "Apple invents products that revolutionize industries, and relies upon the U.S. patent system to protect our innovation," said Apple said in a statement. "We urge congressional leaders to continue focusing on reform in this important area of patent law." Apple is often a target of patent firms seeking a payday.


Samsung Lists Developer Edition of Galaxy Note 4 for Verizon

Yesterday, 7:09 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Yesterday, 7:13 AM

Samsung recently revealed a forthcoming variant of its Galaxy Note 4 handset for Verizon Wireless. The Note 4 Developer Edition ships with an unlocked boot loader, and is free of Verizon-branded apps and services. Developers can use the device to test their apps on Verizon's network. The phone will be sold at the full retail price of $662. Samsung said the Galaxy Note 4 Developer Edition is coming soon.


Nokia HERE Maps Expands to More Android Handsets

Tuesday, 7:54 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Nokia today announced its HERE Maps app is now available to a wider range of smartphones. The company offered HERE Maps only to Samsung handsets earlier this month. Now, most devices running Android 4.1 Jelly Bean and up with 1GB of RAM can install and use HERE Maps. The app, which is being offered as a beta, cannot be found in the Google Play Store. Instead, anyone interested in using HERE Maps on their Android handset will need to download the app directly from Nokia's web site and sideload it onto their device. HERE Maps offers a number of compelling features. For example. HERE Maps allows users to download entire countries or regions, which makes the maps available even when the device is offline. Downloaded maps perform faster when panning and zooming since new segments don't need to be loaded from an internet connection. HERE Maps for Android devices include free, voice-guided, turn-by-turn directions. Users can plan routes via car, public transport, or foot. Live traffic updates and real-time transit schedules require a data connection. Nokia says maps are available for about 200 countries with turn-by-turn directions available in about 100. Transit maps are available in 750 metro areas across 40 different countries, with more being added all the time.


AT&T to Sell Samsung Galaxy Mega 2 on Oct. 24

Monday, 9:54 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T today announced the pending launch of the Galaxy Mega 2, a new version of Samsung's low-cost phablet. The Mega 2 features a 6-inch HD screen with a reduced bezel to help keep the footprint as small as possible. The phone adopts the design language of Samsung's Note series, to a certain degree, as well as the Note's split-screen multitasking, but the Mega 2 doesn't include a stylus. The phone has an 8-megapixel main camera with flash, a user-facing camera, Samsung's Private Mode, and Samsung's battery management software. The device has a quad-core processor and a 2,880mAh battery. The Mega 2 runs Android with Samsung's TouchWiz user interface. The Galaxy Mega 2 costs $475 at full retail, or can be purchased for $19.80 per month with AT&T Next 18, $23.75 per month with Next 12, or $150 with a new two-year contract. AT&T is still offering a $100 bill credit when customers activate a new or existing line with its AT&T Next plans. The device reaches stores October 24.


Samsung Intros Exynos 7 Octa Processor

Oct 16, 2014, 9:12 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung today announced the Exynos 7 Octa, a new application processor manufactured with Samsung's 20nm processes. The Exynos 7 Octa uses a big.LITTLE configuration with two banks of four cores each. One bank uses Cortex A57s for high-intensity calculations and the other uses Cortex A53s for low-intensity calculations. Samsung says this setup allows the Exynos 7 to deliver a 57% improvement in efficiency when compared to the older Exynos 5. The chip supports WQHD and WQXGA displays, and can push UHD content to TV sets. The processor can handle dual-camera 1080p HD video capture on devices equipped with front- and rear-facing cameras. The Exynos 7 includes the ARM Mali T-760 GPU, which Samsung says delivers a 74% improvement in 3D graphics performance. Samsung did not immediately say when the Exynos 7 Octa will reach consumer devices.


Samsung Claims Wi-Fi Breakthrough Boosts Speeds 5x

Oct 13, 2014, 7:37 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung said it has developed new Wi-Fi technology that can transmit data at a rate five times faster than what's available to consumers today. The breakthrough relies on 60GHz spectrum and removes the barrier between theoretical maximum speeds and actual maximum speeds. Most of today's Wi-Fi uses 2.5GHz and 5.0GHz airwaves. Samsung claims its technology can push a 1GB movie file between devices in three seconds, or stream it in real time. Samsung expects to begin adding 60GHz Wi-Fi technology to a range of its products next year.


Xiaomi Hires Another Google Exec to Run India Business

Oct 13, 2014, 7:27 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Xiaomi, the Chinese handset maker, recently announced it has hired Jai Mani to lead its product team in India. Mani worked on Google+ and other products within Google. Last year, Xiaomi coaxed Hugo Barra, part of the Android team, to leave Google. Barra, who said he and Mani worked together closely at Google, played a role in bringing Mani to Xiaomi. "You can think of it as the beginning of our R&D center development in India," said Barra to the Wall Street Journal. "The first person we hired is someone who's going to be the glue between our users in India, product feedback that we receive, and the engineering team we have in Beijing as well as the engineering team that we are going to be building fairly soon in India." Mani will be based in Bangalore. Xiaomi has already made significant progress against larger competitors such as Samsung in its home market of China, and has set its eyes on India as a place to grow further.


Nokia HERE Maps Now Available to Samsung Galaxy Phones

Oct 9, 2014, 7:30 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Nokia recently announced that its HERE Maps product is now available to Samsung's Galaxy smartphones. HERE Maps allows users to download entire countries or regions, which makes the maps available even when the device is offline. Downloaded maps perform faster when panning and zooming since new segments don't need to be loaded from an internet connection. HERE Maps for Galaxy devices include free, voice-guided, turn-by-turn directions. Users can plan routes via car, public transport, or foot. Live traffic updates and real-time transit schedules require a data connection. Nokia says maps are available for about 200 countries with turn-by-turn directions available in about 100. Transit maps are available in 750 metro areas across 40 different countries, with more being added all the time. HERE Maps can be found in the Samsung Galaxy Apps Store directly on handsets and is being offered first in beta form. It requires 1GB of RAM and Android 4.1 and up.


Samsung Rolls Out Protection Plan for Note 4 and Note 3

Oct 9, 2014, 7:15 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung today announced the availability of Samsung Protection Plus Mobile Elite for the Galaxy Note 4 and Note 3. The plan extends warranty coverage to two years from the original purchase date of either phone. Subscribers to the plan will be eligible for three device replacements and/or repairs for accidental damage, including cracked screens or liquid ingress. The warranty also covers mechanical defects. Samsung Protection Plus Mobile Elite costs $129, and each replaced/repaired phone is subject to a $95 fee.


ITC Says It Will Hear Nvidia's Complaints About Samsung

Oct 7, 2014, 7:39 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Nvidia announced that the U.S. International Trade Commission has agreed to investigate Nvidia's claims that Samsung is violating Nvidia's intellectual property. Nvidia filed legal action against Samsung last month, alleging some of its devices violate patents pertaining to graphics processing on mobile devices. Nvidia called out the latest Samsung handsets, including the Galaxy Note 4, Note 3, and Note Edge, as well as the Galaxy S5, in the litigation Last year, Nvidia said it would license its processor designs moving forward, but it has yet to score any such deals. The company has filed similar litigation against Qualcomm.


Samsung Rugby 4 Available from AT&T on Oct. 10

Oct 6, 2014, 10:14 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T today said it will sell the Samsung Rugby 4 beginning October 4. Samsung's Rugby series devices are ruggedized flip phones that include push-to-talk via AT&T's Enhanced PTT service. The Rugby 4, which was first announced in August, builds on the Rugby series' basics by adding Wi-Fi and noise suppression, and improving the speaker. The Rugby 4 boasts a mil-spec rating for toughness and GPS for navigation. The Rugby 4 will cost $100 with a two-year contract or $270 with no commitment. However, AT&T said new activations and eligible upgrades can snag the phone for $0.99 through December 31 when paired with an EPTT rate plan.


Microsoft Sues Samsung Over Unpaid Interest

Oct 4, 2014, 8:11 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Microsoft has filed a suit against Samsung seeking to collect $6.9 million in interest. According to Microsoft, Samsung delayed payment of $1 billion in smartphone patent royalties owed Microsoft. When it did finally pay, the company omitted the accrued interest. Samsung believes Microsoft violated a 2011 patent-licensing agreement the two companies struck when Microsoft agreed to purchase Nokia's handset business in 2013. Microsoft's new legal filing asks a judge declare it didn't violate the 2011 agreement and demands Samsung pay the interest on the late patent royalties. Most makers of Android smartphones pay Microsoft patent fees due to several Microsoft technologies contained in Android devices. Motorola is the only company not paying patent fees to Microsoft, and the two companies are still embroiled in legal proceedings.


Samsung Galaxy Note 4, Edge are MirrorLink Compatible

Oct 3, 2014, 7:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung and the Car Connectivity Consortium today announced that the Galaxy Note 4 and Galaxy Note Edge are both MirrorLink compatible. MirrorLink is a connectivity tool for pairing smartphones and cars. It works across smartphone platforms and car manufacturers, and is the only vendor-neutral standard available. With MirrorLink aboard, the Note 4 and Note Edge will be able to connect to select in-car infotainment systems, allowing drivers to more safely access their phone's content when behind the wheel. Apple and Google have both announced their own connectivity solutions for cars, which are part of iOS 8 and Android Release L, respectively.


FreedomPop Trots Out $89 Liberty Tablet

Oct 1, 2014, 8:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

FreedomPop today announced a new direction for the company, as it plans to sell more low-cost hardware using its own brand. The first device to bear the FreedomPop name is the Liberty, a tablet that has a 6.7-inch screen with 1024 x 600 resolution. The Liberty includes a dual-core 1.2GHz Cortex A9 processor with 512MB of RAM and 4GB of internal storage. The main camera captures 4-megapixel images and the selfie camera captures VGA images. The Liberty supports memory cards and includes a 2,400mAh battery. FreedomPop is marketing the Liberty as a phablet, but it is limited to Wi-Fi and does not include cellular capabilities. Liberty owners will receive 200 voice minutes and 500 messages for free; both services will require an active Wi-Fi network to function. (Some of FreedomPop's devices include cellular capabilities and roam onto Sprint's network.) Liberty said a larger, 10-inch tablet with LTE, called the Frenzy, will arrive next month. Further, a FreedomPop-branded, LTE-equipped Android smartphone will show up at some point down the road. The FreedomPop Liberty costs $89 and ships today. Last, FreedomPop said it plans to offer the Samsung Galaxy Note II and Note 3 in the days ahead for low prices.


Pantech Puts Itself Up for Sale

Sep 26, 2014, 10:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Pantech, based in Korea, has staked a For Sale sign in its front lawn. The company, which declared the equivalent of bankruptcy last month, is seeking a buyer to scoop up the entire business. Pantech has been facing trouble all year long. It twice sought delays in debt payments and entered into court receivership in August. The company believes it will fetch a higher price if sold as a single entity (approx. $366 million) rather than broken up and sold in pieces (approx. $181 million). Bids for the company are due in early October. Pantech found itself unable to compete with Samsung and LG, which are also based in Korea. It faced financial losses six quarters in a row, which led to its debt problems and eventual bankruptcy.


Big Four Carriers to Sell Samsung's Connected Gear S

Sep 24, 2014, 7:12 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung recently said AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless will all offer its Gear S smartwatch "this fall." Samsung didn't say when the device will actually go on sale. The Gear S differs from Samsung's other wearables in that it has a cellular radio inside and can make/receive phone calls and messages. Pricing has yet to be revealed for the device itself, as well as for the plans connecting it to cellular networks. In an email, T-Mobile said the Gear S will be available for purchase on its Equipment Installment Plan, which breaks down payments over time.


Samsung Galaxy Alpha Reaches AT&T Stores Sept. 26

Sep 22, 2014, 9:24 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T today said it will offer the Samsung Galaxy Alpha beginning September 26. The device, which was announced earlier this year, features a metal frame and 4.7-inch 720p HD display. AT&T is asking $199 with a new contract, $25.55 per month with AT&T Next 18, $30.65 per month with AT&T Next 12, or $613 at full retail.


Verizon's VoLTE Service Live for iPhone 6 and 6 Plus

Sep 20, 2014, 10:40 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon has made its Advanced Calling 1.0 feature available to the Apple iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. The free service will pass voice calls over Verizon's LTE 4G network rather than the cellular network. It offers high-quality voice calls and video calls. In order to enable the service, owners of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus need to use the settings tool to allow "voice & data" over LTE directly on their phone. Once enabled, the feature will appear as active in their Verizon account online. VoLTE calls only work between two Verizon VoLTE-enabled devices. The only other Verizon devices that support VoLTE right now are the Samsung Galaxy S5 and the LG G2.

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Samsung Note 4 Available Oct. 17, Preorders Start Sept. 19

Sep 18, 2014, 8:24 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Sep 18, 2014, 9:05 AM

Samsung today said it will begin accepting preorders for the Galaxy Note 4 on September 19. The device won't ship, however, until October 17. Samsung said the Note 4 will be available in black and white, and it will be carried by AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon, and U.S. Cellular. Samsung said the phone will also be available at Samsung Experience Shops in Best Buy stores, as well as from Amazon, Costco, RadioShack, Sam's Club, Target, and Walmart. Individual carriers and retailers will provide their own pricing and availability details in the near future. AT&T was first to announce those details. AT&T said the Note 4 will cost $34.42 per month with AT&T Next 18; $41.30 per month with AT&T Next 12; $299.99 with a two-year agreement; or $826 at full retail. AT&T is offering a $100 bill credit to new/existing customers who activate a new line of service with the Note 4. Verizon is offering the Note 4 for $299 with a new contract and said Verizon Edge installment pricing will also be available. T-Mobile isn't accepting preorders until September 24, and it is asking for $0 down followed by $31.24 a month for 24 months.


Verizon Starts VoLTE Roll-Out; Wi-Fi Calling on Deck for 2015

Sep 17, 2014, 1:09 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless has slowly begun to enable VoLTE on select devices on its network. To start, VoLTE is available to the Samsung Galaxy S5 and the LG G3. In order to use the service, subscribers need to download an app called Advanced Calling 1.0. More devices will supported over time. In order for VoLTE to work, both parties need to have VoLTE-capable phones and access to Verizon's LTE 4G network. The service, which is free to use, offers high-quality calls that are passed over the data network rather than the traditional voice network. Separately, Verizon Wireless said that, like AT&T, it is going to wait until 2015 to launch Wi-Fi Calling. Verizon CFO Fran Shammo said it will eventually roll out the service, which is supported by the Apple iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, but it is not a priority. "We built our voice platform so extensively [that] there was never a need for us to tell our customers, 'Oh, our network is not good enough so you need to go on Wi-Fi to complete your call,'" said Shammo. Both Sprint and T-Mobile offer Wi-Fi Calling to a growing number of handsets. T-Mobile just today launched its Personal CellSpot in order to help its customers experience better voice connectivity when in their homes.


GreatCall Touts Touch3 for Seniors

Sep 12, 2014, 2:20 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

GreatCall recently announced the Samsung Touch3, an Android smartphone designed specifically for senior citizens and older users. The Touch3's major selling point is the user interface, which has been stripped down to the bare essentials in order to make it easier to use. Select apps, such as the phone, messaging, camera, and help are front and center in large fonts so they can be found faster. The Touch3 offers the usual selection of GreatCall services, such as 5Star, Urgent Care, and MedCoach. The device itself features a 4-inch screen, 4-megapixel camera, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, GPS, and 8GB of built-in storage. The Touch3 is available from GreatCall's web site. It costs $150 and doesn't require a contract commitment.


T-Mobile Expands Wi-Fi Calling, Partners with GoGo

Sep 10, 2014, 3:45 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Sep 17, 2014, 7:04 AM

T-Mobile today said it will make Wi-Fi calling available to all its postpaid customers for free. The move, announced at an event in San Francisco, is meant to help provide improved voice coverage in spaces where T-Mobile's network doesn't reach. Wi-Fi calls can be made from any open network. Even so, T-Mobile also debuted the T-Mobile Personal Cell Spot. This Wi-Fi hotspot, made by Asus, requires a $25 deposit and works with existing in-home internet service. It will permit T-Mobile customers to experience high-quality Wi-Fi calls when at home. It prioritizes voice functionality over data functionality. New phones sold by T-Mobile (including the iPhone 6) will have this new functionality built in from the get-go, while older devices will receive an update to gain the new Wi-Fi calling features. The Personal Cell Spot will remain private; only those with the Wi-Fi password will be able to use it for calls and messaging. The Wi-Fi calling feature is free to use for all customers. T-Mobile offered a similar service back in 2007, called Hotspot@Home, but discontinued it in 2010. T-Mobile also announced a partnership with GoGo that will let its customers send and receive SMS/MMS messages from GoGo-equipped airplanes, as well as receive visual voicemail. The in-flight messaging service goes live September 17 and is free to all T-Mobile customers. The service will work with select phones at launch, including Samsung Galaxy S5, Apple iPhone 5s, HTC One, and LG G3 among others. More will be added over time.

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Hands-On: Samsung Galaxy Alpha

Sep 5, 2014, 10:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

The Samsung Galaxy Alpha is a refined device from the Korean giant that hopefully signals a new direction in the company's design language. Here are our initial impressions of what may be Samsung's finest phone.

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Nvidia Sues Qualcomm and Samsung Over Patents

Sep 5, 2014, 5:20 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Nvidia today filed legal action against Qualcomm and Samsung, alleging both firms are violating patents it holds regarding graphics processing on mobile devices. "They're using our technology for free in their devices today and they're shipping an enormous number of devices," said Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang. Nvidia called out the latest Samsung handsets, including the Galaxy Note 4 and Galaxy Edge, as infringing on its patents. Nvidia filed separate complaints against the two companies with the U.S. International Trade Commission seeking to block the import of Samsung's devices into the U.S. Samsung said it will defend itself. Qualcomm didn't comment on the lawsuit. Last year, Nvidia said it would license its processor designs moving forward, but it has yet to score any such deals.


Hands On with Samsung's Galaxy Note Edge

Sep 3, 2014, 12:28 PM   by Rich Brome   updated Sep 3, 2014, 12:31 PM

The Samsung Galaxy Note Edge isn't the first phone to ship with a curved screen, but it's the first with a non-uniform curve that's mostly flat but spills over the edge to cover both the front and the right side. It's similar to a concept phone Samsung showed off a couple of years ago, but now it's here, it's real, and you can actually buy one soon. We spent some time with it; read on for our first impressions.

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Hands on with Samsung's Galaxy Note 4

Sep 3, 2014, 10:08 AM   by Rich Brome

Samsung today announced its latest Galaxy Note phablet. This year's iteration refines the design with a metal frame and the latest specs, including a quad-HD display, 2.7 GHz processor, and heart rate monitor. We checked it out for you and share out first impressions.

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Galaxy Note Edge Brings New Meaning to Curved Display

Sep 3, 2014, 9:19 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Sep 3, 2014, 12:34 PM

Samsung today announced the Galaxy Note Edge, a large-screened smartphone that has a unique curved edge along one side of the display.The edge provides quick access to frequently used apps, alerts and device functionality. The Note Edge shares many specs with the Note 4, though the display is slightly smaller at 5.6 inches. It uses the same processor (quad-core 2.7GHz) and camera combination (16-/3.7-megapixels), as well as Samsung's TouchWiz user interface and apps. The Note Edge will be sold later this year by all four top national U.S. carriers.


Samsung Note 4 Is More of A Big Thing

Sep 3, 2014, 9:03 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Sep 3, 2014, 9:19 AM

Samsung today announced the Galaxy Note 4, the latest version of its flagship productivity phone. The Note 4 carries over a lot of the design ideas set forth in last year's Note 3, though it makes a number of refinements. The phone features a 5.7-inch quad-HD display with 2560 x 1440 pixels. Samsung stuck with its Super AMOLED technology for the screen. According to Samsung, the larger, higher-resolution screen enhances the phone's multitasking capabilities, with more content visible in each window. The Note 4 has two processor variants. The U.S. variant will use a Qualcomm Snapdragon processor with four cores at 2.7GHz each. It has 3GB of RAM and 32GB of internal storage, with support for microSD cards up to 64GB. The Note 4 ups the ante with the camera, which captures 16-megapixels and includes optical image stabilization, HDR, and ultra HD video capture. The user-facing camera jumps up to 3.7 megapixels and has a wide aperture of f/1.9. The phone runs Android 4.4 KitKat and comes with he latest version of Samsung's TouchWiz user interface, which includes S Health, S Voice, and other apps/services common to Samsung phone. The S Pen stylus has been refined to provide a more natural feel to the on-screen writing behavior, and it carries over the tools and functions from the Note 3, such as Air Command, Image Clip, and Smart Select. The Samsung Galaxy Note 4 will be sold by all four major U.S. carriers and should be available in the months ahead.


Liveblog of Samsung Galaxy Note event

Sep 3, 2014, 7:46 AM   by Rich Brome   updated Sep 3, 2014, 12:31 PM

Summer is over, and that means it's time for Samsung to announce a new Galaxy Note device. We're live from the NYC event, where Samsung actually bought a large, trendy building in the meatpacking district for this and future events. Tune in for details as they're announced.

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Samsung to Offer Nokia's HERE Maps to Galaxy Devices

Aug 29, 2014, 7:28 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Nokia and Samsung today announced that HERE Maps will soon be available to Samsung's Galaxy smartphones for free. HERE Maps allows users to download entire countries or regions, which makes the maps available even when the device is offline. Downloaded maps perform faster when panning and zooming since new segments don't need to be loaded from an internet connection. HERE Maps for Galaxy devices will include free, voice-guided, turn-by-turn directions. Users can plan routes via car, public transport, or foot. Live traffic updates and real-time transit schedules will require a data connection. Nokia says maps are available for about 200 countries with turn-by-turn directions available in about 100. Transit maps are available in 750 metro areas across 40 different countries, with more being added all the time. In addition to HERE Maps for Galaxy phones, Samsung's Gear S smartwatch (announced this week) will also receive HERE Maps. Further, HERE Maps will allow Galaxy device owners to share their location with others via Glympse. HERE for Galaxy phones will be available once the Gear S goes on sale in early October.


Sprint Gives Samsung GS4 International Wi-Fi Calling

Aug 28, 2014, 10:18 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint today said an over-the-air software update to the Samsung Galaxy S4 with Sprint Spark will allow owners to use Sprint's Wi-Fi Calling service when traveling abroad. The service lets people connect calls for free over Wi-Fi networks. Wi-Fi calls don't count against plan minutes.


Sprint Adds Avatars to Visual Voicemail

Aug 28, 2014, 9:43 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint today announced a new service that will allow customers to add animations and avatars to their voicemail messages. The service is available to Sprint, Boost Mobile, and Virgin Mobile USA customers with select Android handsets. The base service includes 12 free avatars and 12 free backgrounds that can be paired together in any combination along with voice effects in order to create unique animations. The avatars are lip-synced with the caller's voicemail (up to 20 seconds for free, up to two minutes with premium subscription). According to Sprint, the content library will be updated often, with new free and paid avatars and backgrounds appearing each week. Sprint customers can use their own voice, or an optional voice effect with variable pitch to make the message more fun. The avatar messages can be shared via voicemail, email, SMS, and even posted to Facebook. Further, messages can be sent to any user on any network, and can also be viewed on the web from desktops or tablets. Devices compatible with the service will receive an update to the visual voicemail application beginning this month. The initial list of compatible devices includes the Samsung Galaxy S3, S4, and S5, and Note 2; the HTC EVO 4G LTE and HTC One. Sprint said more devices will be made compatible with the service over time.


Samsung's Latest Smartwatch Can Make Voice Calls

Aug 28, 2014, 7:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Aug 28, 2014, 8:50 AM

Samsung debuted a new smartwatch that can make and receive voice calls, as well as send and receive messages thanks to built-in 3G radios. The Gear S is based on Samsung's Tizen platform and features a 2-inch, curved Super AMOLED display with 360 x 480 pixels. In addition to 3G, the Gear S includes Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. Samsung says it can transition between cellular and Bluetooth connections seamlessly so it can function with and without a nearby smartphone. It includes Samsung's S Voice service for voice commands, and has an on-screen keyboard for composing messages. Other features include Samsung's S Health and fitness apps, music player and gallery apps, and the ability to receive notifications from a variety of services. The Gear S is powered by a dual-core 1.0GHz processor with 512MB of RAM and 4GB of storage. It has a 300mAh battery, which Samsung claims provides for two days of usage per charge. Samsung said the Gear S will be available in global markets beginning in October. Samsung didn't say how much the Gear S will cost.


Apple Denied Injunction Bid Against Samsung

Aug 27, 2014, 3:59 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple lost in its attempt to ban the sale of select Samsung devices today, as U.S. District Court Judge Lucy Koh denied Apple's request. The company sought a ban on devices found to infringe on its patents at trial earlier this year. "Apple has not demonstrated that it will suffer irreparable harm to its reputation or goodwill as an innovator without an injunction," wrote Judge Koh in her ruling. Apple was also denied a bid to ban sales of older Samsung phones in the 2012 patent trial that it won. Juries awarded Apple damages of $120 million and $930 million in the 2014 and 2012 cases, respectively. Samsung is still appealing to have the damages reduced or overturned. Earlier this year, Apple and Samsung resolve all their patent issues outside the U.S., leaving only these two cases unresolved.


T-Mobile Dials Music Freedom Up to 13

Aug 27, 2014, 8:10 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Aug 27, 2014, 8:10 AM

T-Mobile today expanded the availability of its Music Freedom program to include six new music services. Music Freedom already allows T-Mobile customers to stream music from iHeartRadio, iTunesRadio, Pandora, Rhapsody, Samsung Milk, Slacker, and Spotify for free. The music streamed across T-Mobile's LTE network doesn't count against customers' data buckets. Beginning today, customers will be able to stream music from AccuRadio, Black Planet, Grooveshark, Radio Paradise, Rdio, and Songza, too. Further, T-Mobile said Google's Play Music service, chosen by T-Mobile customers through a poll, will be available later this year. T-Mobile claims its customers have streamed 7,000 terabytes of music across its network since Music Freedom began in June.


Huawei: No Tizen and No More Windows Phone for Us

Aug 25, 2014, 11:28 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Huawei recently said it has no plans to release a Tizen-based smartphone, and also said it will no longer make smartphones using Microsoft's Windows Phone operating system. "Some telecom carriers are pushing us to design Tizen phones but I say 'no' to them. In the past we had a team to do research on Tizen but I canceled it," said Richard Yu, CEO of Huawei's consumer business group, to The Wall Street Journal. "We feel Tizen has no chance to be successful. Even for Windows Phone it's difficult to be successful." Tizen is a Linux-based platform created by Samsung and Intel. Samsung, Tizen's primary backer, has delayed plans to realize a Tizen phone indefinitely as it builds up the app ecosystem. Huawei remains a member of the Tizen Association, but its new stance on the platform further clouds Tizen's potential. As for Windows Phone, Huawei complained of losing money on the platform for two years. "We have tried using the Windows Phone OS. But it has been difficult to persuade consumers to buy a Windows phone," said Yu. "It wasn't profitable for us. So for now we've decided to put any releases of new Windows phones on hold. We have worries about Android being the only option, but we have no choice. And we have a good collaboration with Google." Google's Android platform holds about 85% of the global smartphone market, with Apple's iOS holding 11% and Windows Phone holding 2.5%. BlackBerry's share of the market is less than 1%.


Samsung to Buy SmartThings

Aug 15, 2014, 7:07 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung said it has agreed to purchase a startup called SmartThings. SmartThings, which is based in Washington, develops technology for the Internet of Things. It sells a home controller device for $99, but has also created an online service to help developers design and create their own internet-enabled and smartphone-controlled gadgets. The company claims 8,000 apps and 1,000 devices use its platform. SmartThings will move its operations to Palo Alto, Calif., where Samsung has a developer facility, but SmartThings' CEO Alex Hawkinson said the company will be run independently. The move is largely seen as a way for Samsung to counter steps made by Google and Apple to expand the functionality of their smartphones and tablets to control household items. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.


OmniVision Receives Buyout Offer from Chinese Investors

Aug 14, 2014, 10:21 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

OmniVision today indicated it has received an acquisition offer from China-based venture capitalists. Hua Capital Management offered $29 per share for OmniVision, which values the company at about $1.67 billion. OmniVision makes camera sensors for smartphones and tablets. Its chips are found in devices such as the Apple iPhone. OmniVision's products compete with those from Sony, Samsung, and others. OmniVision, which is based in California, said it is evaluating the offer.


Samsung Intros New Exynos Processor Alongside Alpha

Aug 14, 2014, 7:35 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung has debuted a new mobile application processor dubbed the Exynos 5430. The 5430 falls in the Exynos 5 Octa family and uses a big.LITTLE chip configuration. The processor has two banks of four chips each. One bank uses four ARM Cortex A15s at 1.8GHz for intense calculations, and the other bank uses for ARM Cortex A7s at 1.3GHz for low-power tasks. Samsung said the Exynos 5430 is its first mobile processor built using 20nm low-power High-K Metal Gate (HKMG) process technology. Samsung claims this delivers a boost in performance while also reducing power consumption needs by 25% compared to its 28nm chips. The 5430 is capable of powering WQHD (2560 x 1440) and WQXGA (2560 x 1600) displays, as well as supporting a range of high-definition media capture and playback capabilities. The Exynos 5430 will first appear in the Samsung Galaxy Alpha, which is expected to ship in September.


HTC to Offer Zoe, Other Apps to All Android Phones

Aug 13, 2014, 7:59 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

HTC is prepared to make a version of its Zoe application available in the Google Play Store. The app is intended for all Android devices, which will be able to shoot their own Zoes and share the creative video-making process with others. HTC's Zoe is a camera feature specific to a select few of its smartphones, such as the HTC One (both M7 and M8). The new app will allow Samsung, LG, and other Android devices to shoot video clips and pair them with themes and pictures to create 30-second masterpieces. The critical element of the new app is the ability to share Zoes online and contribute to them. For example, HTC envisions multiple people using Zoe to capture an event, such as a wedding, and then adding their own clips to a longer community video that provides for a more compete representation of the event. Zoe will reach the Play Store later this week. HTC is not stopping at Zoe, according to Re/Code. HTC plans to make other apps available to all Android devices. The company has already broken out some of its proprietary apps, such as the gallery and calendar, so they may be updated more frequently outside of full OS upgrades. HTC has assembled a team of 260 people, collectively called HTC Creative Labs, to work on its apps both for HTC and non-HTC phones. HTC didn't say which apps might arrive next.


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