Jolla today announced Sailfish OS 2.0, which brings a handful of improvements to the smartphone platform. To start, the OS is more compatible with Android applications thanks to a stronger technical core. Further, the platform now supports Intel processors, including Intel's new x3 chip. Jolla improved the platform's multitasking capabilities, tweaked the user interface, added privacy and personalization features, and simplified interacting with notifications thanks to swiping gestures. Jolla said the improved OS is meant to provide a more premium experience. Along with the updated operating system, Jolla said is inviting companies to join the Sailfish Alliance to help build out a larger ecosystem to support the operating system. Jolla is a Finnish company formed by ex-Nokia employees. Sailfish was born from Nokia's discarded Maemo and Moblin Linux platforms.
Microsoft debuted another pair of mid-range handsets in the long buildup to Windows 10. The Lumia 640 and 640 XL are worthy update to the 635 and 1320, but they leaving us aching for a new flagship from Microsoft.
Microsoft today announced the Lumia 640 XL, a larger version of the Lumia 640. The screen is stretched to 5.7 inches, the camera is improved to 13 megapixels, and the battery is slightly bigger, as well. It includes Microsoft's standard set of productivity apps and supports LTE 4G. It will ship with Windows 8.1, but can be upgraded to the full version of Windows 10. The Lumia 640 XL will be available in April from AT&T, T-Mobile, and MetroPCS in the U.S. Microsoft said it will include a one-year subscription to Office 365, 1TB of OneDrive storage, and 60 Skype world minutes. The price will be approximately $245.
Microsoft today revealed more features specific to the smartphone version of Windows 10. For example, Skype integration will return to the native messaging application. The device will expand the number of tools available in the action center from four to 12, and newly-installed apps will appear at the top of the app menu listing. The company talked up the Project Spartan browser, which Microsoft says will adapt to whichever type of device on which it is running. One new feature is a Reading List view, which simplifies the layout of web articles to make them easier to read. Project Spartan is a universal app, meaning it runs similarly across all Windows devices. The company also demonstrated how HERE Maps works on the Surface and can easily transition to other form factors, such as PCs and smartphones. Reminders set in Cortana will sync across all Windows 10 devices, no matter which device was used to create the Cortana reminder. Further, Cortana's Notebook feature will be better at making suggestions based on the user's interests. Microsoft also spent some time showing off the email application, which makes it easy to flag or archive messages, set calendar appointments, highlight and select text, as well as loop in colleagues for threaded conversations. Windows 10 is available as a technical preview to select Lumia devices, but isn't expected to reach all phones until later this year.
Microsoft today said it has a range of new Windows 10 handsets prepared for debut later this year, including a new flagship device scheduled for mid-year. Microsoft hasn't released a flagship Lumia phone in over a year.
Microsoft today announced the Lumia 640, a new Windows Phone. It has colorful and interchangeable rear shells. It includes Microsoft's standard set of productivity apps and supports LTE 4G. The 2,500mAh will last all day, says Microsoft. The phone has a 5-inch HD screen and supports single- and dual-sim configurations. The camera captures 8-megapixle image. It will ship with Windows 8.1, but can be upgraded to the full version of Windows 10. The Lumia 640 will be available in April. The price will be approximately $178.
Microsoft today announced the AT&T Mobile Office Suite, a new partnership between the two to help small- and medium-sized businesses manage their devices, data, and productivity. It will be available later this year.
Samsung today announced the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge, two Android smartphones that marry high-quality design with leading specs. The devices are made with a mix of metal and glass materials, with the GS6 Edge offering a curved display on two sides. According to Samsung, the display is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 4 and comes in several jewel tones with names like black sapphire, white pearl, blue topaz, and gold platinum. Aside from the display, all specs are shared between the two phones. The GS6 and GS6 Edge measure 6.8mm and 7.0mm thick, respectively. The Super AMOLED display measures 5.1 inches across the diagonal and includes 2560 x 1440 pixels (quad HD). Samsung says it has enhanced brightness for better outdoor viewability. The 16-megapixel main camera boasts optical image stabilization, auto HDR, and a Quick Launch feature that starts the camera app in less than a second. The user-facing camera rates 5-megpaixels; both have an aperture of f/1.9 for better low-light performance. Samsung is relying on its own technology to power the GS6 and GS6 Edge. It ships with an octa-core processor with a quad-core bank of processors clocked at 2.1GHz and a second quad-core bank clocked at 1.5GHz. The processor is paired with 3GB of LPDDR4 memory and UFS 2.0 flash for faster storage performance. The phone includes a 2,600mAh battery that supports both the WPC and PMA wireless charging standards, in addition to quick charging. Samsung says it has upgraded its KNOX security platform to better protect the device, added a Find My Device tool and remote wipe/remote reactivate tools, and improved the fingerprint scanner. The security tools will help when Samsung launches Samsung Pay, a mobile payment service planned for the second half of the year. The device will be preloaded with several Microsoft applications, including OneDrive (115GB of free storage) and OneNote. Other specs include Category 6 LTE, dual-band WiFi, Bluetooth 4.1, ultra power-savings mode and Android 5.0 Lollipop. The Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge will be available globally starting April 10 with 32GB, 64GB, and 128GB internal storage options.
AT&T today made the Denim system update available to the Nokia Lumia 1520. The update makes numerous changes to the behavior of the camera, including a faster shutter and 4K video capture, and also adds Live Folders and an updated Glance screen. According to Microsoft, Lumia 1520 owners need to have 1GB of free internal storage in order to install the update, which can be downloaded and installed via WiFi. The update is free.
Microsoft today released a modest update to its OneDrive application for Windows Phone handsets. OneDrive now allows users to sign in with multiple Microsoft accounts on a single device. It also adds PIN code protection to prevent people from intentionally or inadvertently accessing, changing, or deleting files. Last, the app adds the ability to create and manage photo albums (different from folders) directly on the handset. Microsoft says the albums can contain photos from any folder in OneDrive and can be easily shared with others. OneDrive for Windows Phone is free to download from the Windows Store.
Microsoft today released an API for its cloud-based OneDrive storage service. The API will allow third-party app developers to add OneDrive access and features, such as file retrieval and uploads, to their own applications. The API is compatible with Windows, Android, and iOS devices, in addition to desktop web browsers. Microsoft said it will use the API internally with its own apps to "ensures that everyone is building on the platform with the same set of tools." When Microsoft adds new features to the API, developers will have immediate access to them. Microsoft has spent the last year expanding the availability of its core apps and services across platforms. This is the latest step in its more open strategy.
A court today said Nokia and ZTE did not violate patents held by InterDigital, a patent licensing firm. InterDigital had filed a case against the two phone makers with the International Trade Commission. The ITC said Nokia and ZTE were in the clear, and InterDigital appealed. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit upheld the ITC's decision. Nokia and ZTE were cleared on the charges of violating four patents, while a fifth InterDigital patent was tossed. Microsoft said it was pleased with the ruling and InterDigital said it was disappointed. InterDigital beat ZTE in a similar case last year, and is still awaiting a separate trial against Microsoft in Delaware.
Microsoft has begun informing owners of Windows Phone handsets that it will discontinue the Rooms feature in March. Users will still be able to see their rooms, as well as use existing photo albums, calendars, and notes, but users won't be able to create new rooms or change permissions in existing rooms. The chat function will be disabled, as well. Rooms were added to Windows Phone 8 as a way for small groups to communicate and share information. Microsoft noted that Rooms will not be available in Windows 10, including the technical preview, which is already available to select devices.
Microsoft today announced several new features for its Office suite of productivity apps. First and foremost, third-party cloud providers can now integrate their own services into the "locations picker" in the iOS Office apps. This means mobile device users can open, edit, and save their documents to any cloud service. Apple's iCloud is the first to receive this support, so iPhone and iPad users can store their mobile Office documents in iCloud. Microsoft said it plans to bring this feature to the Windows and Android versions of Office soon. Further, Microsoft is making it possible for cloud storage providers to weave Office Online into their own mobile applications. Microsoft's vision here is to let people open, view, and edit their online documents from any browser on any device. Microsoft said Box, Citrix, and Salesforce are already working on this level of integration. Microsoft has dramatically increased the availability of Office to mobile devices in recent months with the hopes that people and businesses will continue to use its productivity suite rather than competing products from Apple and Google.
Microsoft recently updated its Next Lock Screen application for Android devices with several security tools. Users can now set either a pattern lock or PIN code to secure their devices. Previously, the app offered only a password. The app also adds support for Spanish and Mandarin, and disables the home button to prevent accidental unlocks. Microsoft's Next Lock Screen is free to download from the Google Play Store.
The technical preview for Windows 10 on smartphones is available beginning today, according to Microsoft employees. "Okay, Windows Insiders, you've all been patient enough. Today is the day for Win10 Technical Preview for phones," tweeted Gabriel Aul. Aul's comments were echoed by Microsoft's Joe Belfiore. He said, "Who's ready!? Who's ready!? Now remember, these bits are early! Still lots of work to do, but still, this will be fun." In order to access the technical preview of Windows 10 for phones, interested parties will need to be part of the Windows Insider program (free to join). According to the documentation available through Windows Insider, the Lumia 630, 635, 636, 638, 730, and Lumia 830 are compatible with the technical preview. At the moment, Microsoft's flagship handsets, the Lumia 1520 and Lumia 930, cannot install the Windows 10 preview. Owners of these handsets will need to have the Windows Insider app installed on their phone before they can proceed. Microsoft's Belfiore said the company will add features and more handsets to the technical preview over time. The Technical Preview is not for everyday people. It is an unfinished version of the operating system meant for testing purposes. Microsoft isn't expected to deliver the final version of Windows 10 to PCs, tablets, and smartphones until the summer months.
Microsoft today said the Lumia Denim system update is now available to the Nokia Lumia Icon, which is sold by Verizon Wireless. The update makes numerous changes to the behavior of the camera, including a faster shutter and 4K video capture, and also adds Live Folders and an updated Glance screen. According to Microsoft, Lumia Icon owners need to have 1GB of free internal storage in order to install the update, which can be downloaded and installed via WiFi.
Nokia today announced sweeping updates to its HERE Maps application for the Android and Windows Phone platforms. The chief goal of this update was to improve the accuracy of maps worldwide with new/changed roads. HERE now more accurately represents inland water, such as ponds, rivers, and lakes. Nokia says the maps for Cyprus, Mayotte, and Zimbabwe have been updated in their entirety and are now navigable via turn-by-turn directions. Nokia took pains to increase the accuracy of how transit lines are mapped, as well. Specifically, the cities of Kaohsiung, Taipei, Curitiba, Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, and Singapore now more accurately show where subway, train, and bus lines pass. Nokia said the updated version of HERE Maps is rolling out worldwide over the course of the next few days. Nokia HERE Maps is free.
Microsoft today announced updates to its Android and iOS video messaging applications that simplify sharing. In earlier versions of the app, users needed to save videos to their camera roll before they could be shared outside of Qik. Moving forward, users will be able to record from within Qik and then share to whatever other social networks/services they might have accessible from their phone through the phone's native sharing tool. The update is available today to Android and iOS devices, but not yet to Microsoft's own Windows Phone platform. Microsoft said a new version of Qik for Windows Phone is still several months away.
Microsoft and Samsung have come to terms ending a dispute over patents and royalty fees. Google's Android operating system uses a number of patented Microsoft technologies and Android handset makers pay Microsoft a fee to use them. Samsung abruptly halted making payments after Microsoft acquired Nokia, claiming the company violated the terms of their agreement by becoming a direct hardware competitor. The dispute has been on-going for months, but is now resolved. "Samsung and Microsoft are pleased to announce that they have ended their contract dispute," said the companies. Terms were not disclosed.
Microsoft's Joe Belfiore said on his Twitter account that entry-level Windows Phones may not get all the features of Windows 10. "We are working on Win10 for 512MB, including 520. Our ambition is to make Win10 available for these devices, but features may vary," wrote Belfiore. Many of Microsoft's most popular Lumia devices are entry-level handsets such as the 520, 530, 625, and 630, which are all limited to 512MB of RAM. Belfiore didn't say which features will or won't be included in the system update for low-spec'd phones. Microsoft had previously said all Windows Phone 8.1 phones would updated to Windows 10. Microsoft is expected to release a preview version of Windows 10 for phones this month.
Microsoft recently released a new app called TileArt that lets Windows Phone owners fully customize the appearance of their home and lock screens. With TileArt, people can create their own custom tile layout and upload transparent images to use with the layouts. Users can create their own lock screens and share their home screen layout with friends. The app provides access to some free TileArt, too, to help people get started. The TileArt gallery showcases backgrounds from professional animators, illustrators, and designers. TileArt is free to download from the Windows Phone Store. The app requires Windows Phone 8.1.
Microsoft's Garage team recently released a new app for Android handsets called the Picturesque Lock Screen. The lock screen adds Bing's home page images to Android devices. Users can easily change up the image by shaking their phone or swiping side to side. The image changes daily on its own. Picturesque also allows people to search Bing right from the lock screen, view the latest news and weather, see missed calls or messages, and view upcoming calendar appointments. Last, Picturesque includes controls for the camera, phone, and other basic tools, such as WiFi and Bluetooth radios, volume, brightness, and flashlight. Picturesque is free to download from the Google Play Store.
Following reports of poor performance of its flagship Snapdragon 810 processor, Qualcomm today rounded up support from a handful of handset makers that plan to use the chip. LG and Xiaomi have already committed to using the processor in the G Flex 2 and Mi Note Pro, respectively, and reiterated their trust in the processor. Motorola, Sony, Oppo, and Microsoft today also offered statements in support of the processor and suggested they each plan to use the 810 in forthcoming handset designs. Last week, Qualcomm lowered its revenue outlook for the year after stating that a "large customer" decided to pass on using the Snapdragon 810 in its own flagship device. Earlier in January, Samsung claimed the 810 overheated. The Snapdragon 810 is a premium mobile processor with a quad-core design, advanced GPU, and support for Cat 9 LTE.
Nokia recently updated its Z Launcher for Android devices. The application replaces the home screen on smartphones and adjusts what it displays throughout the day based on the user's behavior. The update adds preliminary support for icon packs, which will allow for more customization. The launcher also gains an easy way to uninstall or hide apps with a long press, and improved handwriting recognition with the scribble tool. Nokia made adjustments to the user interface and the carousel widgets. The update also fixes bugs and resolves other issues. Nokia's Z Launcher for Android is still in beta, but is free to download from the Google Play Store.
Microsoft today released an Outlook email application for Android and iOS devices, including smartphones and tablets. The app is based on the code from Acompli, a company Microsoft acquired last year. With Outlook for Android and iOS, users can manage their work and personal email. It supports Office 365, Exchange, Outlook.com, Yahoo! Mail, Gmail, and other email services. Users can personalize their experience with customizable swipes and actions. The Outlook email app also offers native calendar integration to make scheduling and managing a calendar easy. Outlook for Android and iOS is free to download from the Play Store and iTunes App Store, respectively. The Android version of Outlook is being offered as a preview for the time being. In other Microsoft news, the company stripped the preview tag from its Office for Android suite of apps. Android tablet owners can now download Word, Excel, and PowerPoint from the Play Store and access a basic set of document creation and editing features with their Microsoft account. Advanced features require an Office 365 subscription.
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.