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printed July 4, 2015
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CTIA Says Smartphones Better Protected Against Theft

Wednesday, 8:59 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Beginning today, most smartphones sold in the U.S. will include anti-theft security tools. July 1 marks the day by which phone makers and network operators agreed to implement free theft deterrents on smartphones. According to the CTIA, most of the industry has responded by placing remote lock/wipe capabilities on consumer devices. The addition of an activation lock on the Apple iPhone, for example, has dramatically reduced iPhone thefts in major cities. The activation lock prevents a stolen device from being activated by another person, thus making it useless to thieves. Remote wipe features allow people to erase the personal data from their handset if lost/stolen to protect their identity. The major participants in today's action include Apple, AT&T, BlackBerry, Google, HTC, Huawei, LG, Motorola, Microsoft, Samsung, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, Verizon Wireless, and ZTE. "Today's fulfillment of the Smartphone Anti-Theft Voluntary Commitment is another example of the wireless industry proactively working together with policymakers and law enforcement to help protect consumers' smartphones in the event they are ever lost or stolen. We will continue to work with all interested parties to continue to deploy new technologies and tools to improve device theft-deterrence tools. We remind consumers to take a few minutes to use PINs, passwords, apps and other device features to protect their mobile devices and personal information." The industry was coerced into acting "voluntarily" when the FCC threatened to make such protective measures mandatory.


Uber Buys Some of Microsoft's Bing Assets

Monday, 1:41 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Uber has agreed to acquire about 100 engineers and other assets from Microsoft's Bing product. Specifically, Uber will take possession of Bing's "product image collection activities," according to TechCrunch. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but the companies did say that Microsoft will hand over some employees and technology. Uber, the ride-finding service, has been looking for opportunities to improve its own map data. Adding some of Bing's assets can help it do that. Uber said it was "excited about the talent and technology this acquisition brings." Earlier this year, Uber had been named as a potential suitor for Nokia's HERE Maps business. Nokia has not yet sold HERE. Microsoft and Uber didn't say when the Bing transaction might be finalized.


Microsoft Releases New Build of Windows 10 Mobile

Jun 25, 2015, 4:35 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Microsoft today released another new build of the Windows 10 Mobile Technical Preview. Build 10149 adds features and resolves several bugs from the previous build. Microsoft released build 10136 earlier this month, but it required users to backtrack to Windows Phone 8.1 first. Microsoft says testers who stayed on build 10080 will be able to update directly to 10149, skipping over build 10136 completely. Windows 10 Mobile Technical Preview 10149 brings new branding to the Microsoft Edge browser, which relocated the address bar to the bottom and added the ability to view web sites in desktop or mobile views. Edge replaces Project Spartan, which was in previous builds. Build 10149 makes improvements to Cortana and the flashlight, as well as general user interface tweaks. Microsoft says the UI should be more responsive. The new build features an updated photos app that adds support for GIFs, and the camera can now be set to automatically upload images to OneDrive. Microsoft fixed a range of bugs impacting call and SMS filtering, text notifications, Podcast performance, and app installs. Microsoft listed a number of known issues still plaguing the preview. The Technical Preview is not meant for general consumers and shouldn't be installed on anyone's daily device. These builds are pre-beta status for the mobile OS, which won't be offered in final form until the fall months.


Nokia Will Design and License Phones Beginning In 2016

Jun 18, 2015, 11:06 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Nokia CEO Rajeev Suri said the company will tackle the mobile phone industry again once its non-compete clause with Microsoft expires next year. Nokia no longer owns any manufacturing facilities and will not make its own phones. The company did something similar with an Android-based tablet it released in December. "We will look for suitable partners," said Suri in an interview with the German magazine Manager Magazin. "Microsoft makes mobile phones. We would simply design them and then make the brand name available to license." Microsoft bought Nokia's handset business in 2014 for $7.2 billion. Just this week, Microsoft reshuffled its executive deck and removed two former leaders from Nokia, Stephen Elop and Jo Harlow. Neither Elop nor Harlow has said what their next steps will be. Microsoft's Windows Phone platform and Lumia-branded handsets continue to struggle in the market against Apple's iOS and Google's Android. The company is releasing a new mobile operating system, Windows 10 Mobile, this fall. Suri did not say if Nokia will use Android, Windows Phone, or some other platform for its future devices.


Verizon Selling Lumia 735 Starting Today

Jun 18, 2015, 8:52 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless today announced the Microsoft Lumia 735, a low-cost Windows Phone. The 735 includes a 4.7-inch HD screen, 1.2GHz quad-core processor, and 16 GB of storage. The main camera has a 6.7-megapixel sensor and the user-facing camera has a 5-megapixel sensor. The phone supports memory cards up to 128 GB and includes a 2,220mAh battery. In addition to Windows Phone 8.1 with Cortana and the Lumia Denim update, the Lumia 735 offers owners a free year-long subscription to Office 365 as well as 1 TB of OneDrive cloud storage. The Lumia costs $192 at full retail or $8 per month for 24 months with a Verizon Edge plan. It is available online today, but won't reach stores until July. Verizon also is offering $100 bill credit to customers who port their number.


Microsoft's Jo Harlow to Depart, Too

Jun 17, 2015, 1:11 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Microsoft has confirmed that Jo Harlow, head of the company's mobile phones, will leave alongside device chief Stephen Elop in the weeks ahead. Harlow began at Nokia in 2003 and played a role in Nokia's switch to Windows Phone in 2011. Harlow joined Microsoft when it later acquired Nokia's handset business. Harlow was often seen on stage during device introductions. Microsoft did not say what Harlow intends to do next.


Microsoft Reorganizes Execs, Stephen Elop to Leave

Jun 17, 2015, 9:29 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has moved around some of the top executives at the company and some are leaving Microsoft. Among those headed out the door is Stephen Elop, who helmed the company's device business. Elop was the former CEO of Nokia and played a large role in selling Nokia's handset business to Microsoft. Terry Myerson will assume many of Elop's responsibilities and now leads the Windows and Devices Group, which includes Lumia, Xbox, and Surface, as well as Microsoft's core Windows products. Other departures include Mark Penn, Eric Rudder, and Krill Tatarinov. Exec Scott Guthrie is picking up some responsibilities, include Microsoft's Dynamics business. Guthrie already runs Microsoft's cloud business, including OneDrive. Executive Vice President Qi Lu will continue to lead the Applications and Services Group, which is focused on reinventing productivity services for digital work. "We are aligning our engineering efforts and capabilities to deliver on our strategy and, in particular, our three core ambitions," said Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft. "This change will enable us to deliver better products and services that our customers love at a more rapid pace." Microsoft's fiscal year ends June 30.


Lumia 640 XL Reaches AT&T June 26

Jun 17, 2015, 8:57 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Jun 17, 2015, 8:58 AM

AT&T today said it will begin selling the Microsoft Lumia 640 XL on June 26. The phone runs Windows Phone 8.1 with the Denim update and includes Cortana. It has a 5.7-inch HD screen, 13-megapixel camera, 3,000mAh battery, and a Snapdragon 400 processor. The 640 XL costs $8.34 per month with 30 device payments on Next 24, $10.42 per month at 24 payments on Next 18, or $12.50 per month at 20 payments on Next 12.


Microsoft Releases New Technical Preview of Windows 10

Jun 16, 2015, 12:26 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Microsoft today made available a new build of its Windows 10 Mobile Technical Preview. To start, the new build requires users to downgrade from the previous technical preview (10080) to Windows Phone 8.1 due to a bug. People not interested in downgrading for the new build (10136) can choose to wait for the next build of the technical preview. The new build includes a large number of improvements to the fit and finish of the operating system, especially with respect to the user interface. Microsoft says the newest build of Cortana is very close to the final version. Microsoft also made changes to the camera and photos apps, as well as one-handed use. Microsoft says devices with screens larger than 5 inches should offer more configurable control options to improve usability. Microsoft said it resolved a number of bugs compared to the previous build, but a handful of issues still remain. The final build of Windows 10 Mobile is not expected until the fall months.


LG Agrees to Pay Nokia Royalties, But Rates Not Settled

Jun 16, 2015, 11:35 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

LG has signed a patent-licensing agreement with Nokia over smartphone technology, but the companies have yet to agree on pricing for the patents. Nokia may have sold its handset business to Microsoft, but it retained many of the related patents for licensing purposes. Nokia and LG have agreed to enter arbitration to settle pricing for the patents in question. The arbitration period is scheduled to conclude within two years. In the meantime, LG will be able to use Nokia's patented technology in its own smartphones. Patent-licensing has been a contentious issue for smartphone companies over the years. Samsung is currently in a similar arbitration arrangement with Nokia, which should be settled soon. Nokia's patent business earned the company $649 million in 2014. Nokia's main focus is its telecommunications and networking gear business.


Facebook Connect Disconnected from Windows Phone

Jun 9, 2015, 9:59 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Facebook has updated its Graph API and the change will impact the Facebook Connect feature on Windows Phone handsets. The Facebook Graph API is what lets Microsoft connect users' Facebook accounts to their Microsoft accounts for the purposes of populating the People app with current contact data and newsfeed updates. The changed API breaks functionality most dramatically with handsets running Windows Phone 8.0 and earlier. This means the People app and others (photo gallery, movie maker, and OneDrive) will no longer be updated with content from Facebook. The change doesn't have such a large impact on devices running Windows Phone 8.1, but the People app will still cease updating Facebook content on WP8.1 handsets. Microsoft said the Facebook application for Window Phone will continue to function properly.


HERE Maps Updated for Android, iOS, and Windows Phone

Jun 4, 2015, 9:35 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Nokia today updated its HERE Maps products for the Android, iOS, and Windows Phone platforms simultaneously. Nokia says there are "millions of changes" to the maps, but calls out a few specifics. To start, several countries in Africa have much more accurate road maps and can now support navigation between points. In the U.S. and other regions, Nokia has worked to more accurately depict where train and subway lines run. HERE Maps no longer simply connects the stations with straight lines; instead, transit lines are shown exactly as they run along the ground. Nokia said it also improved its business-grade maps product for corporate customers. Nokia said customers should update the main map app, as well as any countries they may have downloaded for offline access. Nokia HERE Maps is free to download from the Google Play Store, iTunes App Store, and Windows Phone Store.


Microsoft Refreshes the Nokia 105

Jun 3, 2015, 6:54 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Microsoft today announced a new version of the Nokia 105, its entry-level feature phone. The Nokia 105 is a bar-style device with a physical keypad and 1.45-inch LCD display. The phone runs Series 30+ and has features such as an FM radio, torch light, and several games. Microsoft improved talk time to 15 hours and standby time to 35 days. Microsoft also expanded the phone book capacity to 2,000 entries. Microsoft says the earpiece speaker is 20% louder than the original for better clarity. The phone supports 850/1900MHz GSM networks and is also being offered in a dual-SIM variant with 900/1800MHz GSM. The Nokia 105 will be sold in select markets beginning this month. It costs $20.


Microsoft Pledges to Clean Up Windows Store

May 28, 2015, 7:46 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Microsoft said it plans to more effectively enforce rules in the Windows Store in order to rid it of duplicate and questionable apps. The company will focus on four main areas: eliminating app clutter; ensuring apps are appropriately priced; distinguishing informational apps; and ensuring relevant app titles and keywords. Microsoft plans to strip away app clones that don't offered differentiated features, such as the myriad flashlight apps in the store. Microsoft will be checking to be sure developers price their apps in line with similar apps, and will also make sure developers describe them appropriately so people know what they're getting. Microsoft also wants informational apps to be more differentiated from functional apps so users know when they're buying a game and not a game guide, for example. Microsoft believes these enforcements will improve the Windows Store for both developers and consumers.


Office Lens for Android Graduates from Preview Status

May 27, 2015, 7:34 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Microsoft today released a full version of its Office Lens application for Android devices. Prior to today the app was offered only as a preview. Office Lens uses a smartphone's camera to capture receipts, business cards, menus, whiteboards, sticky notes, and other documents and save them to OneNote. The tool is able to adjust automatically for crooked or angled images, and can recognize text thanks to optical character recognition. Users can convert images of paper documents into Word, PowerPoint, or PDF files; automatically populate their contact lists with scans of business cards; as well as search, save, export, or share the images. Office Lens is free to download from the Play Store.


Nokia Networks to Acquire Eden Rock

May 27, 2015, 6:55 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Nokia Networks today announced its intent to acquire Eden Rock Communications for an undisclosed sum. Eden Rock pioneered self-organizing networks (SON) technology for mobile broadband operators. "SON is essential for the increasingly complex heterogenous operator networks," said Nokia. "It provides workflow automation, network performance improvements, and additional reliability." Nokia Networks has its own SON business, and believes Eden Rock's solution is complementary to its own. Combined, Nokia believes it can become the vendor-of-choice for supplying SON radio tech to network operators. Some of the benefits cited by Nokia Networks include reduced operating expenses and improved customer experience. Eden Rock's employees will be transferred to Nokia Networks in the Seattle area. Nokia expects the deal to close during the third quarter of the year. Nokia is already in the process of acquiring Alcatel-Lucent to improve its competitive stature in the telecommunication networking market.


Microsoft Bringing Cortana to Android and iOS

May 26, 2015, 7:55 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Microsoft today said Android and iOS users will soon be able to use Cortana, its virtual assistant, on their smartphones. The Android and iOS Cortana app will work in coordination with Cortana on Windows 10 PCs, according to Microsoft. A Phone Companion app for Windows 10 PCs will help Android and iOS device owners install Cortana on their handset so they can access Microsoft's virtual assistant wherever they go. The Android and iOS version of Cortana will include most features available to the Windows 10 and Windows Phone versions, such as setting reminders, alerts, and alarms; tracking flights and managing travel details; and accessing Cortana's Notebook function for search preferences. Changes made in one version of Cortana will be reflected across all devices. Microsoft said the Phone Companion app will function with Windows Phone handsets, too, to help sync Cortana functions across devices. In order to test Cortana on Android and iOS smartphones, users will need to enroll in Microsoft's Windows Insider program and install the Windows 10 Technical Preview for PCs. Microsoft said the Cortana Companion App will be available for Android phones at the end of June and for iPhones later this year. Microsoft also mentioned that the updated Xbox Music app for Android and iPhone will be available in late June or July with the beta label in tow to stream OneDrive music content. Google's own personal assistant, Google Now, is available for Android and iOS devices, but not Windows Phone. Apple's Siri is only available to iOS.


Microsoft Releases New Office Apps for Android Smartphones

May 19, 2015, 11:52 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Microsoft today released a preview version of Office for Android smartphones. The latest renditions of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint closely match those available to the iPhone. Microsoft said it made a lot of improvements to the apps based on feedback for the Android tablet version of Office. The apps are designed to be finger friendly and support many of the same features found on the full desktop versions. Users can create, open, edit, and save files to OneDrive, OneDrive for Business, SharePoint, Dropbox, Google Drive, and Box. Microsoft's Office apps for Android are free to download from the Play Store, but Microsoft is requiring people to join the Office for Android Community in order to access them.


MixRadio Expands to Android and iOS

May 19, 2015, 11:40 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

MixRadio today made its customized radio service available to Android and iOS devices for the first time. Microsoft acquired MixRadio when it purchased Nokia's handset business, but later divested it to a messaging company called Line. Due to its relationship with Nokia and Microsoft, MixRadio has been exclusive to Windows Phones until today. The new Android and iOS apps, which are available from the Play Store and iTunes, include thousands of free, curated radio stations similar to how Pandora operates. The service lets users create and listen to personalized radio stations, and can be cached on devices for offline playback. The app is supported by ads, but MixRadio may launch an ad-free version later this year. It is available in 31 countries, including the U.S. In addition to announcing the new apps, MixRadio said it has partnered with HTC to provide music-related news stories for HTC's BlinkFeed application.


Microsoft to Sidestep Carriers for Windows 10 Mobile Updates

May 18, 2015, 7:28 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Microsoft said it plans to take a more active role in making sure the existing base of Windows 10 smartphones has the latest code. The company is taking a page from Apple and will not rely on carriers to deliver operating system updates. Microsoft said, "We take our responsibility to keep Windows secure seriously. We [will] proactively update supported devices with necessary updates to address issues. And today, we're announcing this continuous update process applies to all Windows 10 devices, including phones." Microsoft confirmed to ZDNet that it will deliver security, performance, and feature updates to Windows 10 Mobile handsets itself, and the code will be pushed to all users simultaneously. The statement appears to apply to handsets that ship with Windows 10 Mobile, and not older devices. With Windows 8.1 and earlier, Microsoft relied on its carrier partners to approve and distribute system updates and it will continue to do so. As ZDNet points out, however, consumers with older handsets can join the Windows Insider program to maintain early access to new OS versions. Apple uses this same master distribution method for keeping its iOS devices up to date. Google still relies on its handset and carrier partners to update their individual devices to newer versions of Android.


Microsoft Delivers New Preview of Windows 10 for Phones

May 14, 2015, 12:15 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Microsoft today released build 10080 of the Windows 10 Technical Preview for phones. The updated operating system adds a number of features and resolves a wide number of known bugs. To start, the new technical preview introduces the Windows Store beta for phones. Users will be able to browse through the new content store for apps. Thanks to the store's presence in the build, Windows Phone previewers can now download the universal app versions of Word, Excel, Powerpoint, OneNote, and Xbox. The operating system includes the music preview and video preview apps, too, which will let testers look at how Windows 10 Mobile will handle media playback. Microsoft also added the new camera app. Microsoft recommends users read through the "known issues" bullet points before installing the operating system preview on their phone. The technical preview is in pre-beta status and not meant to be used as a daily driver.


Microsoft Debuts Hyperlapse App for Windows Phone and Android

May 14, 2015, 8:42 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Microsoft today released an application for Windows Phone and Android handsets called Hyperlapse. The app can be used to stabilize shaky footage or to create fast-moving time-lapse videos. The app supports multiple playback speeds (between 1x and 32x) and can import existing video files from the phone's camera roll. Microsoft says the user interface takes only a few moments to master. The app is available to Windows Phones from the Windows Store, though the Android version is officially being labeled a beta. Microsoft also made Hyperlapse available to Windows PCs. There are a number of competing time-lapse apps in the market, including one from Instagram called Hyperlapse. Instagram's app is limited to the iPhone. Microsoft's Hyperlapse app is free.


Microsoft Details Windows 10 Versions

May 13, 2015, 11:28 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Microsoft today said it will offer seven versions of Windows 10, including one tailored specifically for mobile phones. The versions are called Windows 10 Home, Pro, Mobile, Enterprise, Education, Mobile Enterprise, and IoT Core. Each version caters to a specific user-base. The mobile version of Windows 10, says Microsoft, "is designed to deliver the best user experience on smaller, mobile, touch-centric devices like smartphones and small tablets." Windows 10 Mobile includes all the same universal apps available to other versions of the platform, such as productivity tools, security, and management capabilities. One of the biggest features is Continuum, which will let people use their smartphone as a full PC when connected to peripherals such as a screen, keyboard, and mouse. Microsoft said the full versions of Windows 10 Home, Windows 10 Mobile, and Windows 10 Pro will be a free upgrade for one year to compatible Windows 7, Windows 8.1, and Windows Phone 8.1 devices. Some versions of Windows 10 will reach 190 countries this summer. The timing for the mobile version of Windows 10 has not yet been defined.


Nokia to Pare Down Its Technologies Unit

May 13, 2015, 8:36 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Nokia today said it intends to cut about 70 jobs from its Technologies unit. "Nokia Technologies has revised its long-term strategy and will consequently reshape [the] organization. As part of this, talks have been initiated with the staff," said a Nokia spokesperson. The Technologies unit within Nokia was responsible for creating the N1 tablet, and is believed to be working on smartphone designs that may reach the market in 2016. It is the smallest of Nokia's three main businesses and employs only about 650 people globally. Nokia didn't say to what extent the unit's strategy has been changed. Nokia's main business is telecommunications networking gear. Nokia is also evaluating the future of its HERE Maps unit.


Cricket to Sell Lumia 640 Starting May 15

May 12, 2015, 5:55 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Cricket Wireless today indicated via its Twitter account that it will begin to sell the Microsoft Lumia 640 on May 15. The company didn't immediately provide pricing details.


Uber Attempting to Hail HERE Maps with $3B Bid

May 8, 2015, 7:16 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Uber has submitted a bid to purchase HERE Maps from Nokia for $3 billion, reports the New York Times. The bid is one of several and may not result in a sale, cautioned the Times' unnamed sources. Uber is a ride-hailing app that connects drivers and passengers, but the company has also begun delivery services in certain cities. User's bid is said to compete with one from a consortium of German auto makers, including Audi, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz. A private equity group has also submitted a third bid for the mapping business. Dollar figures for these latter two bids have not been disclosed, and none of the companies involved commented on the Times' report. Nokia said last month that it planned to conduct a strategic review of its HERE Maps business which could result in a divestiture of the business. However, Nokia's CEO just this week warned its review may not lead to a sale at all. Nokia's HERE Maps business accounts for 80% of all in-car navigation. The unit is based in Berlin and employs some 6,000 people. Nokia acquired a Chicago-based company called Navteq in 2008 for $8 billion. It renamed Navteq under the HERE brand.


Verizon-Branded Windows Phone Pops Up on FCC Site

May 5, 2015, 6:22 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Documents on the FCC website recently revealed an unannounced handset from Microsoft intended for Verizon Wireless. The FCC notes the device supports Verizon's LTE and CDMA networks, but reveals little else. The device appears to be a standard slab handset with a camera and flash visible on the back surface and large screen on the front. The phone has a design similar to previous Lumia devices. Neither Microsoft nor Verizon has announced any such device.


Windows 10 Won't Reach Phones Until the Fall

Apr 30, 2015, 5:33 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Microsoft has shied away from saying exactly when Windows 10 will launch other than to say "this summer." Speaking at Microsoft's Build developer conference this week, executive Joe Belfiore said the phone-specific version of Windows 10 won't arrive until after Windows 10 launches for PCs and tablets. "Our phone builds have not been as far as long as our PC builds," said Belfiore. "We're adapting the phone experiences later than we're adding the PC experiences." Belfiore didn't provide specifics, but the implication is that the revised OS for mobile phones won't arrive until the fall months. Microsoft has already released two preview builds of Windows 10 for Phones. The company is expected to seed a new build of the fledgling OS in the next couple of weeks.


Windows 10 On Phones Can Be Extended to PCs

Apr 29, 2015, 1:08 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Microsoft today demonstrated how Windows 10 on phones will be able to serve as full PCs thanks to the Continuum user interface idea. Continuum helps keep the UI approximately the same as users move from PC to tablet to phone. Continuum on Windows 10 phones will let users turn their phones into full computers with apps, data, and accessories such as a keyboard and mouse. According to Microsoft's Joe Belfiore, new hardware is required to power this vision. The Windows 10 platform is expected to arrive later this year, but Microsoft has not announced new Windows Phones just yet.

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Windows 10 to Run Android and iOS Apps

Apr 29, 2015, 12:33 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Apr 29, 2015, 12:40 PM

Microsoft today said Windows 10 devices will be able to run Android applications. According to Microsoft, developers will be able to reuse Java and C++ code to run Android apps in an Android subsystem on Windows 10 devices. Further, Microsoft said Windows 10 will support iOS and Objective C, so developers can port iOS apps to Windows 10 easily thanks to new tools in Visual Studio. Adding support for Android apps and making it possible for developers to port iOS apps to the Windows 10 platform will help Microsoft close the app gap it faces with competing platforms. BlackBerry has a similar idea in place on its BlackBerry 10 devices, which can run Android apps. Windows 10 isn't expected to arrive until later this year.

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Microsoft to Add Carrier Billing to App Store

Apr 29, 2015, 12:20 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Microsoft today said Windows device owners will soon be able to purchase apps using their wireless account rather than a credit card. Carrier billing, as the practice is called, makes it more convenient for people to purchase good and services from mobile devices by removing the credit card barrier. Purchases are simply added to the user's monthly bill. Microsoft said it will launch carrier billing with 90 carriers around the world, but didn't specify which ones. Carrier billing will be possible across all Windows 10 devices, including phones, tablets, and PCs. Windows 10 is expected to arrive later this year.

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Microsoft Loses Patent Case to InterDigital

Apr 27, 2015, 2:56 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

The International Trade Commission today ruled Microsoft improperly used two InterDigital wireless patents without permission. The ruling judge said "it would not be against the public interest to ban the Microsoft [phones] from import into the United States." Patent-related complaints are often taken to the ITC, which has the power to enact such bans. This initial ruling, made by a single judge within the ITC, must be upheld by the full commission before any sort of penalty is enforced. InterDigital is a patent-holding firm and has filed similar suits against other phone makers, including ZTE and Samsung. Microsoft did not immediately comment on the decision.


Nokia Issues Statement On Handset Plans

Apr 26, 2015, 9:46 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Nokia today issued a statement reaffirming that it will not manufacture cell phones. "Recent news reports [claim Nokia] communicated an intention to manufacture consumer handsets out of an R&D facility in China. These reports are false, and include comments incorrectly attributed to a Nokia Networks executive. Nokia reiterates it currently has no plans to manufacture or sell consumer handsets." The statement follows a week of conjecture concerning the company's potential plans for cell phones moving forward. Re/Code reported that Nokia plans to design handsets and license those designs to outside manufacturers once its non-compete agreement with Microsoft expires at the end of the year. Nokia did not contest that report. However, Re/Code's report was later followed by others claiming Nokia was going to set up shop at a facility in China to build its own cell phones. It is those reports that Nokia says are false. Nokia sold its handset business to Microsoft and, as part of the sale, cannot make or build cell phones. In particular, Nokia is not allowed to re-enter the handset business in any fashion until 2015, and isn't allowed to license its brand to manufacturers for the purposes of making handsets until the third quarter of 2016. Moreover, Nokia sold all its manufacturing facilities as part of the handset sale to Microsoft and can no longer build its own devices. The company is more focused on its networking business. Nokia recently announced plans to acquire Alcatel-Lucent, the French-American networking giant, for $16.6 billion. Nokia may sell its HERE Maps business so it can concentrate on building its telecommunications unit.


InterDigital's ITC Case Against ZTE Fails

Apr 22, 2015, 3:34 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

The U.S. ITC today cleared ZTE of violating a phone-related patent held by InterDigital. Late last year, ZTE was found guilty of infringing three different InterDigital patents. InterDigital is a patent-holding firm and has filed similar lawsuits against Nokia and Huawei.


Nokia's HERE Maps Quick to Draw Suitors

Apr 22, 2015, 7:18 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Four companies have expressed interest in acquiring Nokia's HERE Maps business, reports Reuters. A coalition of German auto makers, Audi, BMW, and Daimler, are weighing a joint bid, as are Facebook, Uber, and U.S. investment firm Hellman & Friedman. Nokia recently said it is considering strategic options for the mapping unit, formerly Navteq, which it acquired in 2008 for more than $8 billion. Nokia expects to bring in about $2.1 billion through a sale of the business. Nokia may use capital generated by the sale to help fund its recently-announced purchase of Alcatel-Lucent. Nokia did not confirm Reuters' report, which cited a German trade magazine. The other companies could not immediately be reached for comment.


Microsoft Fixes Bugs In Windows 10 Technical Preview

Apr 21, 2015, 6:47 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Microsoft today pushed out a minor update to the Windows 10 Technical Preview for phones. Build 10052 resolves a number of performance issues and makes a few other tweaks. For example, users can now enable flight mode again, as well as disable all data connections if so desired. Microsoft fixed an MMS-related bug that saw some users lose their settings. It also resolved an issue that prevented some from downloading keyboards for additional languages. Last, Microsoft repaired a bug that caused the viewfinder in the camera app to display incorrectly. Build 10052 of Windows 10 Technical Preview for phones is available to Microsoft Insiders.


Microsoft Bringing Maps to Windows 10 Phones, Too

Apr 17, 2015, 12:31 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Microsoft today said the Universal Maps app for the Windows 10 platform is now available to phones running the Windows 10 Technical Preview. Device owners can download the Universal app via the Windows Insider program. As with all Universal apps, Maps works across phone, tablet, and PC form factors. It is responsive to touch input and includes satellite images, local search data via Bing, live traffic, and voice-guided navigation. It also supports downloadable maps, which are accessible even when the device is offline. According to Microsoft, it takes the best from both Bing Maps and HERE Maps and puts them together in a single application. Microsoft has also updated the Maps app for the desktop version of Windows 10, which now includes more 3D city renders and streetside panoramas. Maps for Windows 10 Technical Preview is free for Windows Insiders to download.


Microsoft Office for Windows 10 Hits Phones This Month

Apr 17, 2015, 11:34 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Microsoft today said Office Universal apps will be available to the Windows 10 platform for phones by the end of the month. The Office Universal apps work across desktop, tablet, and handset form factors. Microsoft only recently expanded the number of handsets able to run the Windows 10 Technical Preview. The preview will be required to install the early look at Office Universal. According to Microsoft, the Office Universal apps were built with touch-first usability in mind for phones and tablets. The Universal apps adapt to the smaller screens of phones and move the commands and controls to the bottom of the display for better one-handed editing and creating. The Universal apps produce documents, spreadsheets, and presentations that are fully compatible with the tablet and desktop versions of Office, which now share most features. Microsoft expects the preview of Office Universal for Windows 10 to go live within a few weeks.


AT&T, Verizon Thwart Microsoft's App Deal with Samsung

Apr 16, 2015, 10:55 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T and Verizon Wireless are limiting Microsoft's attempt to bulk up use of its mobile applications. Last month, Samsung agreed to preload Microsoft's OneDrive, OneNote, and Skype applications on the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge. Verizon, however, won't pre-load any of the Microsoft apps on its versions of the S6 and S6 Edge. AT&T will include OneNote and Skype, but not OneDrive. The Sprint and T-Mobile versions of the S6 and S6 Edge are shipping with all three Microsoft apps aboard. Neither AT&T nor Verizon commented on their stance against the Microsoft-made apps. Even though the trio of apps won't be pre-loaded, people who buy the S6 and S6 Edge from AT&T or Verizon are free to download the apps, as well as Microsoft's Outlook email and Office productivity apps, from the Google Play Store for free on their own.


Google Improves Docs, Drive, Sheets and Slides

Apr 16, 2015, 8:16 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google recently rolled out updates to its productivity suite of applications. Google Drive for Android now allows users to share files/photos directly from the notification panel once the file is finished uploading. Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides for Android and iOS were also given new powers, such as the ability to accept, reject, or comment on suggestions in Docs. Docs also makes reviewing and acting on comments/suggestions easier from mobile devices, and includes the ability to track changes across document versions. The Docs app for iOS now allows users to edit tables. The Sheets app lets people move, resize, and delete charts, as well as reorder objects. Last, the Slides app is more compatible with PowerPoint files from Microsoft, and they should load quicker and scroll faster. Google Drive, Docs, Sheets, and Slides are free to download from the Google Play Store and iTunes App Store. Google said the updates will arrive over the next few days.


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