The European Commission today approved Microsoft's proposed purchase of Nokia's handset business. After assessing any overlap between the two companies' businesses, as well as how the merger might affect each companies' existing business relationships, the EU believes the merged entity won't be a threat to competition or choice in the industry. Microsoft's proposed acquisition of Nokia recently garnered approval from U.S. regulators.
The U.S Federal Trade Commission today approved Microsoft's proposed $7.2 billion purchase of Nokia's handset business. Microsoft first announced the plan in early September. With the U.S. government on board, Microsoft is one step closer to absorbing Nokia's phone-making capabilities. Nokia's shareholders have already approved the deal. Nokia switched to Microsoft's Windows Phone platform in 2011 and has since become the world's foremost supplier of Windows Phone handsets. Nokia will continue to run its networking business and will retain rights to the Nokia brand.
Nokia today revealed the Lumia 525, an update to the 520/521 that increases system memory from 512MB to 1GB. The upgrade will let the device run more apps at a time. Most other features of the device remain unchanged. The Lumia 525 has a 4-inch screen, 5-megapixel camera, dual-core 1GHz Snapdragon S4 processor, and swappable rear shells. The Lumia 525 is first slated to reach select markets later this month for $199. There's no word yet if the 525 will be made available to U.S. buyers.
Google confirmed that the company is developing a fix for the Nexus 5's camera. "The team is aware of the issues and is working on a software update that will be available shortly," said Google spokesperson Gina Scigliano in a statement provided to CNET. The Nexus 5's camera performance leaves a lot to be desired. In addition to the Nexus 5 camera fix, Scigliano also confirmed that Google is working to add support for RAW imaging to the Android platform. "Android's latest camera HAL (hardware abstraction layer) and framework supports RAW and burst-mode photography. We will expose a developer API in a future release to expose more of the HAL functionality," said Scigliano. Google has laid the groundwork to permit RAW imaging, but has yet to provide developers with the tools they need to access it. Nokia recently added RAW imaging support to the Lumia 1520, and will soon add it to the Lumia 1020. RAW imaging provides photographers with an uncompressed digital negative that gives them more control over the end product.
Nokia today announced a major update to its HERE Drive navigation application. HERE Drive, which is available to all Windows Phone 8 devices, offers step-by-step, voice-guided navigation. When planning routes, the app now shows a list of all the turns before the driver begins navigating. The app now also provides an overview of the entire route with real-time traffic included, so drivers can see ahead of time whether or not they should take an alternate route. The live traffic feature is available in all views of the map. HERE Drive is now better at calculating estimated time of arrival thanks to the more accurate, real-time traffic data. Last, Nokia has added a feature that automatically geotags the driver's parking spot when they complete a door-to-door route. The driver can then use HERE Maps' LiveSight feature to find their car, or view it on a map. HERE Maps is free to download from the Windows Phone Store.
Verizon Wireless and Nokia today announced the availability of RedBox Instant for Verizon's Lumia Windows Phones. The app will be exclusive to Verizon for two months, after which it will be available to all WP8 devices. RedBox Instant lets users browse and watch movies, reserve new releases at local Redbox stores, and rent and buy movies digitally, on demand. The first month is free, but thereafter it costs $8 per month.
Nokia today published a new version of its music application and rebranded the service Nokia MixRadio. MixRadio builds on the Nokia Music service, which lets users create radio stations and stream music to their Lumia smartphones. More than 18 million tracks are available and Nokia has 150 curated radio stations, all of which can be streamed for free. The application was updated with a number of new features including Play Me, a personalized mix inspired by each user's music profile; thumbs up/down ratings to help users refine their profile; and the ability to share mixes through Facebook, Twitter, email, and SMS. Premium features, such as unlimited downloads to devices, require a $3.99 per month subscription. The new app can be downloaded from the Windows Phone Store.
Nokia today said that an update is available for its Nokia Camera application that adds support for RAW imaging. The feature was first announced last month and is available only to the Nokia Lumia 1520 at the moment. RAW imaging support will be available to the Lumia 1020 in early 2014, bundled together with the Lumia Black system update. Once 1520 owners download the Nokia Camera update, they'll have to select the DNG capture mode in the settings tools. Nokia warns that RAW image files will be much larger than standard JPEGs. Windows device owners can use the Windows Explorer desktop tool to download RAW images, but Mac users will need to download the latest version of the Nokia Photo Transfer app. The photo app was recently updated to support RAW files. Nokia Camera is free to download for Lumia smartphones.
Nokia today added LiveSight to its HERE Transit application in order to make public transportation stations easier to find. LiveSight uses the device's camera and augmented reality technology to overlay mapping, location, and other data on a live image through the camera viewfinder. LiveSight is already built into the base Nokia HERE Maps app, and is now part of Nokia HERE Transit thanks to an update that's available today. Nokia also said that HERE Transit offers a wider array of traveling options. For example, travelers can choose between different train, bus, and other routes, as well as how many transfers they're willing to make to reach their destination. HERE Transit now runs in 52 countries and in 792 cities. It is free to download from the Windows Phone Store.
Nokia's shareholders today approved Microsoft's proposed acquisition of the company's handset business, according to the Financial Times. About 80% of Nokia's shareholders sided with management in favoring the deal, which will see Nokia's phone-making unit sold to Microsoft for $7.2 billion. Microsoft believes the deal will strengthen the footing of its Windows Phone platform. Nokia's Lumia-branded smartphones represent the lion's share of Windows Phones sold throughout the world. Nokia will still hold onto its networking business. Nokia CEO Stephen Elop is expected to run the new hardware division from Microsoft's headquarters in Redmond. The deal still needs to meet regulatory approval.
Nokia today made the Nokia Imaging SDK 1.0 available to developers. The SDK, which was released in beta form in July, lets Windows Phone developers add a wide range of camera functions and features to their own apps. It is compatible with all Windows Phones, not just those made by Nokia. The SDK gives developers access to filters, effects, and on-screen rendering options. There are more than 50 filters included with the SDK, as well as the tools needed for developers to create their own filters. It also includes features such as arbitrary cropping regions, free rotate, and resizing images for online sharing. According to Nokia, the SDK uses the Random Access JPEG (RAJPEG) format, which helps it manipulate large files without requiring too much drain on the CPU or battery. The Nokia Imaging SDK 1.0 can be downloaded from Nokia's developer portal.
Nokia today made its Refocus application available to its Lumia PureView smartphones. Refocus, which Nokia announced last month, is similar to Lytro in that it allows owners to adjust the focal point in an image after the picture has been taken to change the depth of field. The app makes use of Scalado's imaging technology, which Nokia acquired in 2012. The app is compatible with the Nokia Lumia 920, Lumia 925, Lumia 928, and Lumia 1020 - as long as the Amber system update is already installed. Refocus is free to download from the Windows Phone Store.
AT&T today began accepting orders for the Nokia Lumia 1520. According to AT&T, the device will ship to those who preorder it on November 19. It will reach AT&T retail stores November 22. Earlier this week, Microsoft said the release date would be November 15. AT&T is charging $199.99 for the 1520 when purchased with a new contract. The 1520, which has a 6-inch full HD display and 2.3GHz quad-core Snapdragon 800 processor, runs Windows Phone 8.1 and features a 20-megapixel PureView camera. AT&T is offering a $20 gift card to the Windows Phone Store, which can be used to purchase apps and games. AT&T is also offering 50GB of storage in its cloud-based AT&T Locker service.
Microsoft is now accepting preorders for the Nokia Lumia 1520 smartphone. The 1520, which has a 6-inch full HD display and 2.3GHz quad-core Snapdragon 800 processor, costs $199.99 when purchased with an AT&T contract or $549.99 without a contract. Orders placed through Microsoft's online store will ship November 15. It comes in black, white, red, or yellow. AT&T itself has yet to announce release details for the 1520.
Nokia today said that Samsung has agreed to license some of its phone-related patents for another five years. Samsung will begin to make royalty payments to Nokia beginning in 2014. Nokia didn't say which patents are being licensed by Samsung. Patent licensing has become a contentious issue over the last few years as mobile device makers seek to drive profits from their patents and the resulting products. Many companies resort to filing lawsuits to force settlements. Nokia is in the process of selling its handset division to Microsoft, but it will retain ownership of its patents.
Microsoft has requested that European antitrust regulators approve its proposed acquisition of Finland's Nokia. Microsoft announced its intent to purchase Nokia's handset business for $7.5 billion last month. The European Commission said that it will device no later than December 4 on whether or not it will approve the deal. The deal needs to be approved by U.S. regulators, as well. Nokia is the world's largest purveyor of Windows Phones, Microsoft's smartphone operating system.
Nokia today made available a new application called Nokia Camera. This app combines the best features of the Nokia Smart Camera and Nokia Pro Camera applications into one app that the company says is easier to use. The app has an advanced auto mode for quick photos taking, but still offers refined controls over settings such as ISO, shutter speed, aperture, and so on. It also includes a burst mode that takes a collection of shots so you can pick the best option. The application is free to download from the Windows Phone Store and is compatible with Lumia devices running Windows Phone 8.
Nokia today announced new imaging features for its high-end Lumia smartphones with PureView cameras, including the Lumia 1520 and the Lumia 1020. First, Nokia is adding support for RAW image files. RAW files are unprocessed and act like digital negatives. They can be used to create a wider range of final images. Second, Nokia announced a feature called Refocus. Refocus is similar to Lytro in that it allows owners to adjust the focal point in an image after the picture has been taken. RAW image support and Refocus will be distributed to the 1520 and 1020 in November.
Nokia today announced the Lumia 1520, a device that is the first to take advantage of new features built into Windows Phone, including a high-definition display and quad-core processor. The 1520 boasts a 6-inch full HD ClearBlack LCD with Gorilla Glass 2, sunlight mode, and high sensitivity for use with gloves. The latest version of Windows Phone supports a third column on the screen, which means owners of the 1520 will be able to add more content and Live Tiles to their home screen. The 1520 is powered by a 2.2GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor, and comes with 2GB of RAM, 32GB of storage, and support for microSD cards up to 64GB. The 1520 takes imaging seriously and includes a 20-megapixel PureView camera with dual LED flash, Carl Zeiss optics, lossless zoom, and optical image stabilization. Nokia's custom camera software is on board, which has been updated so that accessing the various shooting modes is easier. The 1520 has a 1.2-megapixel wide-angle, user-facing camera and Storyteller, a new app that automatically creates a chronological picture journey based on time/location data stored in photos. The 1520 is widely compatible with wireless networks, supporting dual-carrier HSPA+ at 42Mbps and LTE Bands 2, 4, 5, 7, and 17 in the U.S. Dual-band Wi-Fi, GPS/GLONASS, NFC, Bluetooth 4.0, and a bevy of sensors are on board, as is an integrated 3,400mAh battery. The Nokia Lumia 1520 is expected to reach the U.S. and other markets during the fourth quarter of the year. The 1520 carries a full retail price of $749. AT&T said that it will offer the 1520 later this year. Nokia also announced the Lumia 1320, which is similar to the 1520, but dials down the specs. For example, the screen measures 6 inches, but offers only 720p resolution. The camera is also of lower quality. It will be sold for $339 in select world markets. Nokia also added three more devices to its Asha portfolio, the 500, 502, and 503. Nokia's Asha devices straddle the line between smartphone and feature phone, offering advanced features at price points that are friendly to their emerging market targets.
Nokia today announced its first modern tablet, the Lumia 2520. The 2520 runs Microsoft's Windows RT 8.1, rather than Windows Phone, though many apps are compatible with both platforms. The device features a 10.1-inch full HD display with Gorilla Glass 2, an 8,000mAh battery, stereo front-facing speakers, and Microsoft Office/Outlook. The 2520 shares most other specs with the Lumia 1520, including the same 2.2Ghz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, 2GB of RAM, 32GB of storage, and connectivity options (including LTE). The Lumia 2520 has a 6.7-megapixel main camera with Zeiss optics and a 2-megapixel, wide-angle user-facing camera. The Lumia 2520 will reach the U.S. during the fourth quarter and will cost $499.
Nokia today announced several new applications that will appear on devices such as the Lumia 2520 and Lumia 1520. The new apps are meant to make the most of Windows Phone 8 Release 3 and the new hardware revealed by Nokia. Nokia Video Director, which is only being offered to the Lumia 2520 tablet for the time being, lets owners create, edit, and share customized videos. Nokia Beamer is a sharing tool that can be used to project the content from a Lumia smartphone screen to any HTML5 enabled screen. According to Nokia, this includes documents, maps, location details, and the camera viewfinder. Last, Nokia's Storyteller app automatically pairs pictures from the phone with HERE location data and creates a chronological picture journey on a map. Nokia Beamer and Storyteller will be preloaded on the Lumia 1520 and 2520. Nokia didn't say if or when these apps might be made available to older Lumia devices.
Nokia today announced that a handful of popular applications will soon be available to the Windows Phone platform, including Instagram. Instagram is a photo-sharing service that is widely used on Android and iOS devices that has until now been unavailable to Windows Phone. Nokia did not provide an exact timing on its release. Some of the other apps headed to Windows Phone devices include Flipboard and Vine, Papyrus and Temple Run 2, and ESPN F1 and XBox Video. Many of these apps will be updated with support for high-resolution screens, such as that of the Lumia 1520, and will be able to take advantage of the third column on the home screen. The applications will become available over the course of the next few weeks.
AT&T will begin offering the GDR2 and Amber system software updates to the Nokia Lumia 820 and 920 later today. The company posted information about the update in its community forums and an AT&T spokesperson confirmed the details with Phone Scoop via email. The GDR2 update, which comes from Microsoft, improves XBox Music and how the devices manage storage. The Amber update comes from Nokia and adds features including an FM radio, flip-to-silence, Nokia Smart Camera, and call/SMS blocking. According to AT&T, Lumia device owners will be notified by their handsets when the update is ready. It can be downloaded and installed over Wi-Fi.
Nokia today said that it has pared down the size of HERE Maps updates to reduce the amount of network usage. Nokia offers offline maps for countries, states, and cities around the world. Individual maps vary in size, but many are more than 100MB. Downloading such large files is often impractical or not allowed over cellular networks. With incremental updates to HERE Maps, Nokia is now pushing only the new and updated data to its individual maps, rather than requiring users to re-download the entire map. Nokia says this reduces the size of most updates by 85-90%. HERE incremental updates are being rolled out for all Windows Phone 8 smartphones with the latest firmware, which means Nokia Amber for Lumia devices and GDR2 for all others.
HTC is hoping to avoid an import ban that may be levied against its flagship devices thanks to a ruling by the U.S. International Trade Commission. The ITC found HTC guilty of infringing on two Nokia patents last month. The initial ruling was made by an administrative law judge and will be revisited by the entire panel in January. If the panel upholds the initial ruling, HTC might be prevented from importing devices such as the One and One Mini. Unfortunately for the HTC, the violation has to do with hardware and not software. According to sources cited by The Wall Street Journal, HTC is working with its chipset vendor, Qualcomm, to create a hardware-based workaround. HTC has only said that it "will keep its alternative plans ready to ensure no business disruption." The Journal also suggests that HTC might settle with Nokia rather than retool its hardware. The patents in question pertain to how phones transmit and receive phone calls.
The U.S. International Trade Commission today ruled that HTC violated two smartphone patents owned by Nokia. The patents in question pertain to how smartphones transmit and receive data. The ITC's action today is an initial ruling made by an administrative law judge. The full panel will not review this initial decision until January 2014.
Jolla today announced that its still-in-development smartphone operating system, called Sailfish, is compatible with the Android ecosystem. Specifically, Sailfish can run most Android applications without the need to modify the apps or use a runtime environment in the OS. Further, Sailfish itself can now run on most Android hardware, including smartphones and tablets. Jolla says this will be a boon to its mobile operating system, as hardware manufacturers will be able to put Sailfish on existing hardware with little additional investment on their part. Last, Jolla announced that it sold through its initial batch of preorders for the first Sailfish OS device, but it will offer a second batch of preorders to people in Finland (where Jolla is based) in the weeks ahead. Sailfish is based on Nokia's discarded MeeGo platform and offers a modern, touch-based user interface. Jolla hopes that Sailfish can eventually compete with Android, Windows Phone, and iOS.
Microsoft today announced that it has reached an agreement to acquire the Devices and Services division of Nokia for approx. $7.2 billion. Microsoft will also gain the Lumia and Asha brands, as well as Nokia's patent licensing agreement with Qualcomm. Nokia will continue to exist as a separate company, focusing on networks via its NSN division, mapping via its HERE division, and and Advanced Technologies division. Nokia will retain its brand and patents, but license them to Microsoft. Microsoft has recently moved to refocus itself on devices and services; this move advances that goal for the mobile devision and Windows Phone. Nokia CEO Stephen Elop will move to Microsoft. Nokia has worked closely with Microsoft on Windows Phone devices since 2011, when the company ditched its troubled Symbian platform. Competing mobile OS makers Apple and BlackBerry have always made their own hardware. Google purchased Motorola in 2012 to shore up its Android strategy. The Microsoft-Nokia deal is expected to close in the first quarter of 2014, subject to shareholders and regulatory approval.
Nokia today introduced HERE Auto, its connected car in-dash navigation software suite. HERE Auto is meant to take car-based navigation to the next level and takes advantage of an internet connection so that the data is always up to date. The software offers voice-guided, turn-by-turn directions in 95 countries with live traffic, re-routing, and fuel prices. The system provides helicopter views when traveling on the highway, but will zoom in to street level when the driver approaches their destination. It also provides information such as parking availability and indoor maps. Beyond the car-based software, Nokia also introduced a companion application for Android and Windows Phone devices that can interact with HERE Auto. The HERE Auto Companion App lets users find their car (via LiveSight), monitor in-car sensors, such as fuel level, as well as remotely lock or unlock the car. HERE Auto is being made available to car makers along with APIs so they can add the software to their vehicles. Nokia didn't say with the companion app would become available.
AT&T today announced that the Nokia Lumia 925 will be available beginning September 13 for $99 with a two-year contract or $21 with AT&T Next. The 925 uses an aluminum, rather than polycarbonate, frame. Pre-orders begin August 28.
Nokia today announced that a new version of its Nokia Music application is available from the Windows Phone Store. The updated app adds several features, including concert notifications, which will let the owner know when tickets are about to go on sale for shows in their area. The app also adds the ability to "like" favorite artists. Users will then receive automatic updates about any artists they've liked, such as new albums. Last, the Nokia Music Live Tile now shows artist news and information in addition to album art. The Nokia Music app is free to download, but requires a monthly subscription to use.
Nokia is pushing out a significant system update to its Lumia smartphones. The Amber update, as it is called, adds a number of features to devices such as the Lumia 521, 820, and 928, which are sold by T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless. First, the update adds the Nokia Smart Camera application. This app first debuted on the Lumia 925. It includes features such as Best Shot, Motion Focus, and Action Shot for capturing more artistic images. The Amber update also adds the Nokia Pro Camera application to the Lumia 928. The Pro camera app is the same, powerful app found on the Lumia 1020. It offers granular control over most of the camera's features. Other features added with the Amber update include the Nokia Glance Screen, which populates the display with a clock and status indicators when the phone is locked. The Amber update also adds flip-to-silence and double-tap-to-wake, as well as better controls for managing on-board storage. Timing of the Amber update is up to each carrier involved. Neither T-Mobile (Lumia 521, 820) nor Verizon Wireless (Lumia 928) has said when they will offer the Amber update to their customers.
ZTE today announced that it will offers its Open Firefox OS phone to U.S. consumers via its official eBay store. The phone, which is based on open web standards, will be sold unlocked for $79.99. The ZTE open offers most of the same features found on today's smartphones, including integration with social networks, GPS and navigation through Nokia' HERE maps, and an app store from which to download applications. According to ZTE, the Firefox Marketplace already has a handful of apps from eBay, Kayak, The Weather Channel, SoundCloud, AOL, Wikipedia, and others.
T-Mobile today expanded the reach of its MetroPCS brand by launching it in 15 new markets. The additional markets for MetroPCS largely overlay the existing footprint of rival Cricket Wireless, and include Birmingham, Ala.; Fresno and San Diego, Calif.; Tallahassee, Fla.; New Orleans, La.; Baltimore, Md.; Akron, Cleveland, Sandusky, and Toledo, Ohio; Memphis, Tenn.; Austin, Corpus Christi, Houston, Rio Grande Valley, and San Antonio, Texas; Seattle and Tacoma, Wash.; and Washington, D.C. Though T-Mobile will set up MetroPCS retail shops in these markets, the MetroPCS stores will actually be selling devices that run on T-Mobile's network, including the Nokia Lumia 521 for $99 and the LG Optimus F3 for $149. Customers in these markets may also bring their own, unlocked GSM handset to use on the Metro/T-Mobile network. Prepaid plans start at $40 per month for unlimited voice and messaging, and 500MB of data.
Nokia today announced the Lumia 625, a mid--range smartphone that boasts a 4.7-inch screen, the largest for a Windows Phone 8 device. The screen has 800 x 480 pixels and carriers forward Nokia's super sensitive touch feature, as well as sunlight readability and high-brightness mode. The 625 has a removable polycarbonate shell that is made from several different layers, and is curved gently so that it feels comfortable to hold. The Lumia 625 is powered by a dual-core 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processor with 512MB of RAM, 8GB of built-in storage, and it includes a 2000mAh battery. The 625 offers 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy, GPS/GLONASS, and limited support for LTE networks. The Lumia 625 will go on sale across Europe in September for about $290. U.S. carriers have not announced plans to offer the Lumia 625.
AT&T today said the Nokia Lumia 520 will be available through GoPhone, its prepaid wireless brand, beginning July 26. This marks the first time that AT&T has offered a Windows Phone 8 device through its prepaid service. The Lumia 520 was introduced by Nokia earlier this year, and is sold by T-Mobile as the Lumia 521. It is an entry-level WP8 smartphone that has a 4-inch screen, 8GB of storage, and a 5-megapixel camera. It does not support AT&T's LTE network. It will cost $99 and does not require a contract.
The Bluetooth Special Interest Group today announced that LG has joined the organization's board of directors. Specifically, Minsoo Lee, chief research engineer for standards and technology at LG, will fill the new seat at the SIG's board. The Bluetooth SIG's board is composed of 11 different companies spread around the globe, including Apple, CSR, Ericsson, Intel, Lenovo, Microsoft, Motorola, Nokia, Nordic, Toshiba, and now LG Electronics. The group has more than 18,500 member companies.
Nokia has released a software developer kit for application writers that focuses on imaging functions. The Nokia Imaging SDK, released in conjunction with the Lumia 1020 smartphone, is a native Windows Phone 8 library that can be used by any developer and with any Windows Phone 8 app. It lets others in the Windows Phone ecosystem access and use the filters and imaging processing effects found in Nokia's own devices. The SDK is free for developers to download.
Nokia's latest Windows Phone puts photography first with its 41-megapxiel camera for AT&T. Here are our first impressions.
Nokia today announced that the Lumia 1020 will include Flipboard. To-date, the social magazine application has only been available to the Android and iOS platforms. The Lumia 1020 will be the first Windows Phone device to offer the app.