The Alliance for Wireless Power and the Power Matters Alliance today announced plans to fully merge the two entities into a single organization. The two groups created separate, competing wireless charging standards until February 2014, when they agreed to work tougher on a compatible standard. Today carries the two organizations to the next logical step of merging operations around the single standard. The A4WP and PMA believe the merger will help speed up the development of wireless charging products and get them to market sooner. "One of the main objectives of the new organization is to accelerate the transition to volume economies of scale of wireless power transfer technology to benefit consumers, mobile network operators, consumer-facing commercial and retail brands, and the consumer electronics industry. Consumers will gain access to an exciting and enhanced battery charging and power management experience sooner across the full spectrum of devices in daily use." Though the A4WP and PMA are going to merge, the Wireless Power Consortium's Qi standard is still in use in mobile products around the world, such as Nokia's, leaving two competing standards still facing off against one another.
Microsoft today revealed the Nokia 215, a $29 feature phone meant to help more people get online for the first time. The bar-style phone has a 2.4-inch screen and a numeric keypad. It runs the Series 30+ platform and includes apps such as Facebook, Messenger, Twitter, Opera Mini, Bing Search, music player, and MSN Weather. Hardware features include a flashlight, VGA camera, an FM radio, Bluetooth 3.0, and support for microSD cards up to 32GB. The device will reach select markets in the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and Europe beginning in the first quarter of the year.
Sprint today said fans of Windows Phone will soon have the option to buy the Lumia 635 through several different Sprint brands. Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile USA will begin selling the Lumia 635 online on Dec. 23 and in stores Jan. 9 for $99. Sprint postpaid customers will have a shot at the Lumia 635 starting on Jan. 16, though pricing for the postpaid version has yet to be determined. Sprint says the Lumia 635 is the first Windows Phone 8.1 handset to grace its retail shelves. Moreover, it's the first Lumia Windows Phone to be sold by Sprint's prepaid brands. Microsoft first announced the Lumia 635 in April. It features a ClearBlack 4.5-inch LCD screen, interchangeable back panels, 5-megapixel shooter, and Nokia's two camera apps. There is no user-facing camera. It is powered by a quad-core 1.2GHz Snapdragon 400 processor and includes 512MB of RAM, 8GB of internal storage, and support microSD cards up to 128GB.
Nokia today made its HERE Maps product more visible to Android device owners by adding it to the Google Play Store. Nokia has offered HERE Maps to Android devices in beta form since October, but only from its own web site. Until now, people interested the app needed to sideload HERE Maps. Moving forward, HERE Maps is free to download from the Play Store, though it is still in beta form. HERE Maps allows users to download entire countries or regions, which makes the maps available even when the device is offline. HERE Maps for Android devices include free, voice-guided, turn-by-turn directions. Users can plan routes via car, public transport, or foot. 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. Nokia today also said it has updated its here.com web site, which should perform better on mobile devices. Last, Nokia expects to bring the modern version of HERE Maps to iOS in early 2015.
Nokia today announced an update to its suite of HERE navigation apps for the Windows Phone platform. HERE Drive+ gains 18 new languages with the update, including Algeria, Iraq, Cyprus, and Libya, making for a total of 118 supported languages. Nokia said HERE Maps, HERE Transit, and HERE City Lens also received updates, though they are limited to performance improvements and bug fixes. Nokia's HERE apps are free to download from the Windows Store. Nokia, and not Microsoft, makes and distributes the HERE apps, which are also available to Android devices.
Samsung has lost its bid to delay a trial with Microsoft, which is seeking interest payments of $6.9 million on patent licenses. Samsung and Microsoft forged an agreement in 2011 in which Samsung agreed to pay royalties for patents Microsoft holds that are used in the Android operating system. Samsung delayed making its royalty payments after Microsoft announced its intent to acquire Nokia's handset business. According to Samsung, Microsoft's move made it a direct competitor, which it feared could lead to collusion charges. Samsung asked an international court in Hong Kong to hold arbitration hearings, which it wanted to complete before dealing with Microsoft in the U.S. A U.S. District Court Judge disagreed, however, and said Microsoft's case can move forward during the arbitration process.
Microsoft today announced that Opera Software will soon provide the default app store for older Nokia handsets. Beginning in the first quarter of 2015, the Opera Mobile Store will replace the Nokia Store on devices running the Series 40, Series 60, Symbian, Asha, and Nokia X operating systems. The Nokia Store itself will close once all handsets are transitioned to the Opera Mobile Store, which is expected to be complete by July 2015. According to Opera, it has over 300,000 applications for Nokia's legacy devices. Old apps are updated often, and Opera says its 40,000 developers constantly produce new apps, too. Microsoft purchased Nokia's handset business earlier this year. It has committed to selling entry-level feature phones, but would rather concentrate on managing one app store (the Windows Phone Store) instead of two.
Nokia today announced wide availability of the Z Launcher for Android devices. Nokia first debuted the Z Launcher earlier this year, but as a limited alpha. It is now available in beta form directly from the Google Play Store. The Z Launcher is a learning launcher that adjusts what it shows the phone owner on the home screen throughout the day depending on their pattern of behavior. For example, in the morning Z Launcher will present apps such as email and the calendar, while in the evening it will present apps such as Facebook and Spotify. Nokia says Z Launcher improves its predictions over time. Further, Z Launcher includes a gesture search tool that lets users initiate searches from the home screen by tracing letters on the glass. Launchers are alternative home screen treatments for Android smartphones. In addition to the launcher, Nokia announced the N1 tablet, which includes a 7.9-inch screen and runs Android 5.0 Lollipop. Other specs include a 64-bit Intel Atom processor, 8- and 5-megapixel cameras, stereo speakers, dual-band WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0. The N1 tablet will cost $249, and is headed to China first. Nokia, which sold its handset division to Microsoft earlier this year, is not manufacturing the N1 itself. Rather, it is licensing the brand and the design to an unnamed manufacturer in order for it to be built.
Microsoft today announced the Lumia 535, the first phone it has revealed without the Nokia brand since it acquired the company's handset division earlier this year. The 535 is a low-cost smartphone meant for emerging markets. It features a 5-inch qHD display, and two 5-megapixel cameras with one on the front and one on the back. The rear camera has an LED flash. The user-facing camera has the same wide-angle sensor found on the Lumia 735. Both cameras can capture FWVGA video. The phone is powered by a 1.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 200 processor with 1GB of RAM. The 535 has 8GB of internal storage, but supports microSD cards up to 128GB. Microsoft will sell the Lumia 535 in single- and dual-SIM variants, but the phone only supports 3G networks (WCDMA at 42Mbps) and not LTE 4G. Other on-board radios include Bluetooth 4.0, Wi-Fi, and GPS. Like many Lumia phones, the 535 comes in a range of bright colors. It ships with Windows Phone 8.1 and the Lumia Denim system upgrade out of the box. The Lumia will be available in select markets beginning later this month. It is priced at about $135.
Microsoft has agreed to replace the Nokia Xpress browser on low-end and mid-range handsets with Opera's Mini browser. Moving forward, Opera Mini will become the default browser on Asha devices and feature phones bearing the Nokia brand. Both the Nokia Xpress browser and Opera Mini use server-side compression to help reduce data usage over mobile networks. Opera Mini has become very popular in India, where many Asha devices are still sold. Opera believes this distribution agreement will help it add approximately 100 million users in India and other emerging markets. Internet Explorer is the default browser on Microsoft's Windows Phone handsets.
Microsoft published a teaser page suggesting the first Lumia smartphone to wear the Microsoft brand (rather than Nokia) will be revealed on November 11. The company didn't provide any more details beyond the date.
Microsoft today said it has updated a handful of its apps for Windows Phone devices. The Nokia Camera app is being renamed to Lumia Camera, though there are no changes to the app itself. The app is, however, being made available to the Lumia 830, Lumia 930, Lumia 1520, and Lumia Icon with the Lumia Denim Update, which starts rolling out later this year. The Lumia Cinemagraph app is receiving a minor update that makes the sharing function simpler and faster. Microsoft also noted that the app will no longer store Cinemagraphs on Nokia's web site and will instead keep them on Microsoft's OneDrive web site where they can be shared with social networks such as Facebook. Nokia said the new Cinemagraph app is expected to roll out early next year.
Cricket Wireless today announced the Nokia Lumia 635 will go on sale November 7. The phone, which is a small step up from the 630, features a 4.5-inch screen, Snapdragon 400 processor, and 5-megapixel camera. Cricket is charging $100.
Samsung claims that if it honors a 2011 patent-licensing agreement with Microsoft it could be charged with collusion. The argument is the latest from Samsung, which owes Microsoft $1 billion in patent licensing fees, plus another $6.9 million in interest. Several technologies found in the Android operating system are patented by Microsoft. Nearly all Android device makers pay Microsoft to license those patents in their smartphones. Samsung agreed to do the same in 2011, though Microsoft cut it a bit if a break after Samsung agreed to continue to develop devices running Microsoft's Windows Phone platform. Part of the agreement entails Samsung sharing sensitive inside information with Microsoft. Samsung now contends that Microsoft's acquisition of Nokia's handset business earlier this year puts them into direct competition. It says if it pays the licensing fees, it could be seen as colluding with Microsoft in violation of the law. Microsoft sued Samsung over the unpaid licensing fees earlier this year and believes it has a strong case.
Microsoft today indicated its branding transition from Nokia Lumia to Microsoft Lumia is progressing as planned. Microsoft has slowly been rebranding apps, services, and web sites from Nokia to Microsoft. The company has now reached the point where its Windows Phone hardware will make the same change. The last smartphones announced to wear the Nokia brand are the Lumia 830 and Lumia 735 Windows Phones, which were announced in September. The company said the first Microsoft Lumia device will be announced soon, though it didn't share any details. Microsoft will, however, continue to sell Nokia-branded feature phones, such as the Nokia 130. Microsoft has licensed the Nokia name from Nokia for such devices. All its smartphones will use the Microsoft name moving forward.
Microsoft indicated that it is prepared to drop the Nokia brand from its line of Windows Phones. Moving forward, the company will use the Microsoft Lumia name to refer to its phone hardware. Microsoft purchased Nokia's handset division earlier this year, but Nokia still exists as a separate company selling HERE Maps and telecommunications gear. Microsoft could not continue to use the Nokia brand indefinitely. Microsoft has already rebranded many of the old Nokia apps with the Lumia name, and told The Verge that it plans to begin rebranding its remaining Nokia properties in the weeks ahead.
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.
Nokia today released an update to its Creative Studio photo editing app and added several features. First and foremost, Nokia returned Color Pop back to Creative Studio. Color Pop allows Lumia owners to turn their photos black and white with only select colors highlighted. The app also adds new support for PNG files and screenshots, and locks photos rotated 90 degrees to the new orientation. Creative Studio 6.3, which is an extensive on-device photo editor, is free for Lumia devices to download from the Windows Phone Store.
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.
Nokia has indicated it will cease production at a facility located in Chennai, India. Nokia still owns and operates the plant despite the fact that it sold its handset division to Microsoft earlier this year. The plant was caught up in tax issues with the Indian government and left out of the sale. Nokia has continued to run the plant as a contract service for Microsoft. "Microsoft has informed Nokia that it will be terminating the manufacturing services defined in the agreement with effect from Nov. 1. In absence of further orders from Microsoft, Nokia will suspend handset production at the Sriperumbudur facility," said the company in a statement. The facility is among the largest owned by Nokia.
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.
T-Mobile today followed Cricket Wireless in announcing the availability of the Nokia Lumia 530. T-Mobile's variant reaches Best Buy and Microsoft stores October 5, and T-Mobile stores October 15. T-Mobile is charging $79.20 for the 530.
Cricket Wireless today announced it has added the Nokia Lumia 530 to its lineup of low-cost smartphones. The 530 is Nokia's entry-level smartphone, which includes a 4-inch display, 5-megapixel camera, quad-core processor, and Windows Phone 8.1 with Cortana. The Lumia 530 will be available online and in select stores beginning October 3. It costs $50. Cricket also noted that it plans to roll out Windows Phone 8.1 to the Lumia 1320. Owners of the 1320 can expect to see the update arrive in the coming weeks.
AT&T today confirmed it will sell the Nokia Lumia 830 later this year. The device, announced in Berlin last week, is a mid-range smartphone that includes compelling camera software. AT&T didn't say when it will go on sale, nor how much it will cost.
AT&T today said the Windows Phone 8.1 system update is now available to the Nokia Lumia 920 and Lumia 820. Both devices gain Cortana and a host of other features with the new operating system. It is free to download and install.
Nokia debuted two new smartphones in Berlin today, both of which focus on providing a better camera experience. These Windows Phones are solid addition to Nokia's lineup. Here are our first thoughts.
Nokia today revealed the Lumia 735, a device that features advanced self-imaging tools. The 735 has a 5-megapixel camera with a wide-angle lens and dedicated "Lumia Selfie" app. The app automatically launches the user-facing camera and has its own editing features, such as filters, toning, and even slimming down faces and whitening teeth. The rear camera has a 6.7-megapixel sensor, Zeiss optics, f/1.9 aperture, and a tool that helps users center their face in the frame for higher-quality selfies. The phone has a 4.7-inch 720p HD display, 2,220mAh battery, 1.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 400 processor, and 8GB of storage. The Lumia 735 runs Windows Phone 8.1 and will come with the Denim system update preloaded. The device will ship with a free, three-month trial of Skype International unlimited. The device costs 219 Euro, or about $290.
Nokia today announced the Lumia 830, what Nokia calls a flagship device that doesn't have a premium price. It runs Windows Phone 8.1 and the just-announced Lumia Denim system update. It is smaller than the 930, but offers many of the same features, such as the design. It includes a PureView 10-megapixel camera with Zeiss optics and optical image stabilization. A new Rich Capture mode snaps a series of images with and without the flash so users can later choose to add light to their image for more balanced results. The HDR mode has been improved, too, so high-contrast images can more properly exposed to get all the details. The front-facing camera rates just 1.0 megapixels and captures 720p video. The 830 has a removable rear cover and has wireless charging built in to power the 2,220mAh battery. With the 830, Nokia is showing off a new charging plate. The charging plate is "smart" in that it includes NFC and customized notifications when it senses that the device's battery requires charging or an incoming call. The plate comes in the same orange, green, and white colors. The 830 itself measures 8.3mm and it contains a 1.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 400 processor, 5-inch 720p display, 16GB of storage, and support for memory cards up to 128GB. The Lumia 830 is priced at 330 Euro, or about $435. It ships globally starting this month.
Microsoft's handset division, Nokia, today announced Lumia Denim, the next update to its Windows Phone platform for Nokia-branded hardware. Lumia Denim's chief improvement is making Cortana is easier to use. It introduces a "Hey, Cortana" catchphrase that can be used to launch Cortana for filing reminders and other actions. Denim brings geofencing powers to Cortana, too, which can recognize geographic areas for assisting in reminders and tasks. Lumia Denim also makes improvements to the camera application. For example, the start-up process has been sped up so the camera launches faster. The camera is quicker to capture individual shots, as well, and adds a quick-capture mode that records 4K video with 8.7-megapixel images. The software can then pull out individual shots from the video to make for more compelling images. Lumia Denim will first be available on the Lumia 930, 1520, and Icon, with others to follow in the fourth quarter. The separate camera app will also be made available during the fourth quarter to just the 930, 1520, and Icon.
Nokia is preparing to release versions of its mapping application for the Android and iOS platforms. Nokia executive Sean Fernback told The Wall Street Journal the apps will offer features not available to Google Maps and Apple Maps. For example, Nokia Maps users will be able to download maps of cities, regions, or states so they may be used when offline. This is a hallmark feature of Nokia's HERE Maps for Windows Phone. Nokia believes its offline maps will draw users away from Google and Apple's alternatives. The offline maps will support searches, as well. "I'm convinced people are looking for alternatives," said Fernback. "Google Maps is a good solution for many, their maps work very well, but it has looked the same and done the same for a long time." Nokia released a version of its HERE Maps for iOS back in 2012, but later pulled the app after it received poor reviews. Nokia plans to release the new Android and iOS mapping apps before the end of the year. Nokia sold its handset business to Microsoft earlier this year, but retained ownership of its mapping business.
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.
Opera Software today said it has struck a deal with Microsoft to supply the browser for Microsoft's feature phones. Opera Mini will replace the Nokia Xpress browser on Series 30, Series 40, and Asha phones moving forward. "All the current user base will be encouraged to upgrade to Opera Mini and all the new phones will come with Opera Mini pre-installed as a default browser," said Opera. Nokia developed the Xpress browser as a competitor to Opera Mini, which uses server-side compression to reduce mobile data use. Opera has long pitched its Mini browser as ideal for cost-concious consumers. Opera's browsers are available to a wide variety of desktops, tablets, and smartphones. The move shows that Microsoft is looking to save costs on developing its feature phone lines, which are mostly sold in developing markets.
A U.S. court today handed Vringo a defeat in its patent claims against Google and other companies. Earlier, Vringo won a guilty verdict against Google over how search results are filtered. Google appealed and today's decision effectively overturns the earlier verdict. The court declared both Vringo's patents invalid and tossed the case. Vringo said it is evaluating its options. There's no word from Google yet about its exoneration. Vringo purchased the rights to a wide swath of mobile technology patents from Nokia in 2012 and has sued several companies, including Google and ZTE, in order to protect its intellectual property.
Microsoft today announced the Nokia 130, a simple, inexpensive handset meant for first-timers and emerging markets. The candybar-style phone runs the Series 30 platform and includes a 1.8-inch screen, stereo headphone jack, Bluetooth 3.0, and support for memory cards up to 32GB. According to Microsoft, the Nokia 130 supports both video and audio playback, and includes an FM radio. The phone has a flashlight, but no camera. The Nokia 130 will reach select markets this quarter. Pricing is expected to be about $25 and it will be sold in single- and dual-SIM variants. Microsoft Devices Group includes the handset division of Nokia, which Microsoft acquired earlier this year. Microsoft's Jo Harlow said though the company is killing off Nokia's Android/X devices, it still believes there is a good market opportunity for entry-level phones in addition to its Lumia Windows Phone devices.
Microsoft recently indicated it will cease to support Skype on devices running Windows Phone 7 and Symbian. The company said it will retire the official Skype app for WP7, as well as any ancillary apps that support it over the next few weeks. "We want everyone to experience the best Skype has to offer – from enhanced quality to better reliability to improved security – and the newest version of Skype is the way to do that. So everyone can benefit from the latest improvements, we sometimes retire older versions of Skype across all platforms, including mobile devices," explained the company. Of Symbian, Microsoft said, "Symbian wasn't built for the cloud-connected world, so we are retiring the Skype for Symbian app and focusing on bringing the best possible experience to the most popular mobile platforms: Windows Phone, iOS, and Android." Symbian is Nokia's old smartphone operating system and was among the first to support Skype years ago.
Microsoft today filed suit against Samsung for failing to comply with a 2011 agreement on Android patent royalties. Samsung had been paying Microsoft a certain amount for each Android phone sold, but has threatened to stop since Microsoft closed its acquisition of Nokia's device business.
AT&T today said Windows Phone 8.1 is now available to the Nokia Lumia 925 and Lumia 520. The update, which can be downloaded and installed over the air, adds Cortana, Action Center, and more Start screen flexibility, among many other enhancements.
Nokia Networks today announced that it has agreed to purchase select portions of Panasonic's wireless business. Specifically, the company will buy Panasonic's mobile phone wireless base station and related wireless equipment system businesses. As part of the deal, Panasonic will transfer fixed assets, employees, and business contracts to Nokia in Japan. Nokia called Japan a key market and believes the deal will strengthen its business goals there. The terms of the deal have not been finalized, but Nokia Networks expects the asset acquisition to close by January 2015. Panasonic ceased making smartphones in late 2013. Nokia sold its handset business to Microsoft earlier this year.
Though Microsoft plans to eventually can the Nokia X platform, the company today announced an update that adds several new features to the operating system. According to Microsoft, the improved OS now includes an app switcher for multitasking. It also integrates Outlook.com, OneDrive, and OneNote into the platform, which provide Outlook email, cloud storage, and note-taking tools, respectively. Last, the update makes significant improvements to the Nokia Store, which now includes content from third-party app stores and a new home screen Spotlight widget. The update is available to the Nokia X, X+, and XL handsets. It can be downloaded and installed over-the-air.
Microsoft today announced a sweeping company-wide re-organization that includes major changes to the mobile device business acquired from Nokia. Of Microsoft's 18,000 layoffs today, 12,500 are within the former Nokia units. Microsoft will combine the smartphone and feature phone units, with the feature phone operations continuing "for maximum efficiency with a smaller team." Nokia's Android-based Nokia X lineup will be abandoned. Select future models will be reworked to run Windows Phone to address new low price points for Lumia. Existing Nokia X phones will be supported, but the software will not appear in any new phones. The company will focus primarily on Windows-Phone-powered Lumia phones, and tablets. In an open email to employees, Stephen Elop explained that "the role of phones within Microsoft is different than it was within Nokia. Whereas the hardware business of phones within Nokia was an end unto itself, within Microsoft all our devices are intended to embody the finest of Microsoft’s digital work and digital life experiences, while accruing value to Microsoft’s overall strategy."