Verizon Wireless is offering a handful of its handsets the ability to include push-to-talk, walkie-talkie features. The service, called Push To Talk Plus, is available to smartphones including the Motorola Droid Maxx, Samsung Galaxy S5, and Casio G'zOne Commando beginning today. Other phones, such as the Kyocera Brigadier, will gain the feature down the road. According to Verizon, the service is powered by Kodiak Networks and offers fast call setup times, improved voice quality, and encrypted calls. Users will be able to join existing PTT calls, as well as rejoin calls they left. The service is being offered to business customers, who need to reach out to their sales representatives to initiate service. Push To Talk Plus costs $5 per month per line, though Verizon is offering six months for free to those who sign up soon.
HTC has recently pulled some of the core applications out of its Sense user interface and made them available separately through the Google Play Store. Both the Sense keyboard and Sense clock apps have appeared in the Play Store in recent days, which can now be updated independent from full OS upgrades. Google and Motorola have taken similar steps with some of their apps, such as their camera apps. HTC already offers a handful of other apps via the Play Store, including Gallery, Blinkfeed, Sense TV, and Dot View.
Motorola today announced the availability of a digital tattoo that can be used to unlock the Moto X. The tattoo is actually an adhesive based on VivaLnk’s eSkin technology. It is about the size of a nickel and adheres to the skin for about five days. Users need only tap the Moto X against the digital tattoo, which has a shimmery, metallic design, to unlock their device. According to Motorola, the tattoo is waterproof and can be used during activities such as swimming and jogging. The digital tattoo was created by Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects group in cooperation with VivaLnk. VivaLnk sells the tattoos in packs of 10 for $10. It was first announced last month.
Cricket Wireless, which is owned by AT&T, today announced the availability of the Nokia Lumia 630 smartphone. The 630, which is a variant of the Lumia 635 (being sold by T-Mobile and MetroPCS), will reach Cricket stores on July 11. Cricket is offering the Lumia 630 for free with a $50 mail-in rebate card. The device is an entry-level Windows Phone with a 4.5-inch screen and 5-megapixel camera. Cricket is also offering discounts ranging from $20 to $50 on a wide selection of handsets, including the ZTE Sonata 4G, Prelude, and Overture 4G; the Moto G; the Nokia 520 and 1320; and the Samsung Galaxy Express 4G. Cricket is the new brand name being used by AT&T's former Aio Wireless unit. AT&T is transitioning Cricket's CDMA customers to its GSM network so it can eventually repurpose Cricket's spectrum. All the devices covered by Cricket's new promotion operate on AT&T's GSM network.
Motorola Mobility USA and Motorola Deutschland have been ordered to stop selling mobile phones in Germany after they were found guilty of infringing on a patent. A German court said Motorola's devices are improperly using patented antenna technology owned by LPKF Laser & Electronics AG. It's not clear when the sales ban goes into effect, nor exactly which devices are impacted. Motorola is involved with numerous patent lawsuits around the world, and is in the process of being sold by Google to Lenovo.
Google today provided a deeper look at what Android Wear - its platform for wearable devices - will be able to do. Android Wear will first be deployed on smart watches, with LG, Samsung, and Motorola making the first wave of hardware. Much of Android Wear's functionality comes from Google Now and its voice-controlled searches and actions. The user interface includes multiple screens that are accessed by swiping up and down, and back and forth. Many of Android Wear's initial powers will center on interacting with smartphone-based notifications. The Google Now functionality adds tools such as voice reminders, voice search, and similar powers to the platform. Android Wear supports third-party apps thanks to the full SDK, which Google made available to developers today. The apps are automatically installed on Wear when the corresponding version is installed on the associated smartphone. The LG G watch and the Samsung Gear Live will be available for sale later today, with the Moto 360 arriving later this summer. Google didn't provide details about the hardware, but they can be ordered via the Google Play Store.
Motorola today made a new version of the Moto X available with more internal storage. The Moto X can now be purchased with 64GB ($449), 32GB ($399), or 16GB ($349). The Moto X does not support microSD cards.
Motorola today announced that the Moto X, G, and E handsets can all expect to receive the Android 4.4.3 KitKat update in the days ahead. According to Motorola, the update brings a new dialer, several new theme colors, as well as stability, framework, security fixes, and enhancements to the power profile capabilities. The update also improves camera image quality for the Moto X, gives the Moto X and G the ability to pause/resume video capture, and gives the Moto X and Moto G access to the Moto Alert app. The system update is only available to the T-Mobile variant of the Moto X to start. Motorola didn't say when it will reach other vesions of the Moto X. The update is free to download and install.
Motorola today indicated it will close the Ft. Worth factory used to assemble custom-designed Moto X handsets by the end of the year. Motorola opened the plant a year ago and at its peak employed about 3,800 people. The move allowed Motorola to offer four-day turn-around times on Moto X handsets created with its online Moto Maker tool. According to Motorola's Rick Osterloh, however, slow sales of the Moto X meant the company never achieved the economy of scale it needed to operate the plant. "What we found was that the North American market was exceptionally tough," said Osterloh in an interview with The Wall Street Journal. Motorola will continue to make the Moto X at facilities located in Brazil and China. Osterloh didn't say if the Moto Maker tool will vanish along with the Ft. Worth plant. Lenovo is in the process of acquiring Motorola from Google. The sale is expected to be completed by the end of the year. Lenovo plans to use the Motorola brand on its future smartphones destined for select markets, such as the U.S. and Europe.
Verizon Wireless today announced the launch of XLTE service, which is a new way for the company to market its dual-band LTE network. Verizon Wireless initially deployed LTE in the 700MHz band. Verizon's build-out of LTE in the 700MHz band is functionally complete. Verizon began rolling out LTE on its 1700MHz AWS spectrum late last year, and has been slowly adding markets over time. As of today, Verizon says it has initiated service on its AWS spectrum in half its existing LTE footprint. Moving forward, Verizon Wireless will market its dual-band LTE coverage as XLTE in much the same way that Sprint is marketing its tri-band LTE service as Sprint Spark. According to Verizon, XLTE markets offer consumers far more headroom thanks to dramatically improved capacity. With twice the spectrum to work with, XLTE markets can deliver faster peak data speeds when compared to Verizon's 700MHz-only LTE markets. Verizon said a number of its most popular devices are already compatible with its XLTE service, including the Samsung Galaxy S4, S5, and Note 3; the Apple iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c; and the Motorola Droid Maxx, Ultra, and Mini. Customers who own these devices don't need to do anything in order to take advantage of XLTE. They'll automatically connect to Verizon's dual-band LTE network where it is available. Non-XLTE devices will still be able to access Verizon's LTE network as normal. Verizon will continue to roll out XLTE to more markets over time. Verizon didn't say how long it will take to build-out its AWS LTE coverage. Verizon acquired the AWS spectrum from a consortium of cable companies in 2012.
Apple and Motorola today dismissed all patent litigation between them. The companies told a court overseeing several lawsuits that the claims should be dismissed. Though the two smartphone makers agreed to drop their lawsuits, they did not reach a cross-licensing accord. Motorola first sued Apple over smartphone technology in 2010 and Apple responded with a suit of its own. Neither lawsuit resulted in a verdict. Further, the two companies agreed to work with one another on select aspects of patent reform. Motorola is currently owned by Google, but it is in the process of being sold to Lenovo.
Motorola recently made a new application available to its smartphones called Moto Alert. The idea behind Moto Alert is to allow users to quickly send alerts to people to provide basic "I'm OK" messages. For example, the app can be set to send periodic notifications with the user's location data so people know where the user is and can act if necessary. The app supports distinct locations, such as home, work, and school, and can be set to automatically fire off messages to loved ones when the user departs or arrive at those locations. The recipient does not need to have Moto Alert installed in order to receive the notifications. Motorola envisions the app as a useful (and free) tool for parents to keep tabs on their children or their elders. Moto Alert is exclusively available to the Moto E at launch, but will eventually be made available to the Moto X and Moto G.
Motorola today revealed the Moto E, a low-cost Android smartphone that offers better specs and a lower price than much of the competition. Here are our first impressions.
Motorola today announced the Moto E, a new low-cost handset meant to put a nail in the coffin of feature phones. The device bears a familial resemblance to last year's Moto X and Moto G, but downgrades specs to further drop the price. Motorola is offering 20 different interchangeable rear covers to allow for personalization of the phone, which is splash proof and scratch proof. The Moto E features a 4.3- inch display with Gorilla Glass 3 and a 1.2GHz dual-core Snapdragon 200 processor with 1GB of RAM and 4GB of internal storage. It comes with a 5-megapixel camera that can capture panoramas as well as 720p HD video. The phone also includes support for a microSD card up to 32GB, an FM radio, and a 1,980mAh battery that Motorola claims is good for a full day. The Moto E runs Android 4.4.2 KitKat and Motorola is guaranteeing at least one major system update in the future. The Moto E will be sold by 80 carriers in 40 countries in the next few weeks. It does not support LTE networks, but does support HSPA and CDMA in various geographies. The Moto E costs $129. Motorola also announced a refresh to the Moto G, which adds support for LTE and microSD cards. The Moto G + 4G will sell for $219 and goes on sale in early June.
Consumer Cellular today announced that it has increased the size of its retail footprint to 750 Sears locations. Consumer Cellular said the newest locations will offer a wider selection of devices and colors. In addition to the expanded retail presence, Consumer Cellular is adding the Motorola Moto G to its lineup. Consumer Cellular is selling the Moto G for $150. The Moto G can be purchased online or in Consumer Cellular's Sears locations.
The European Commission today ruled that Motorola had broken the law by suing Apple over standard essential patents. Apple had agreed to license Motorola's patents, but when the two companies couldn't agree on a price, Apple used the patented technology anyway and was eventually sued by Motorola. Motorola sought to block sales of Apple's products in Europe. The EU has determined that if a company agrees to license a standard essential patent, the patent holder must do so at a fair and reasonable rate. Moving forward, companies that cannot agree on licensing terms will need to enter arbitration and can no longer file lawsuits against one another. The EU accepted a pledge from Samsung today also, which won't seek an injunction against Apple for standard essential patents. "The so-called smartphone patent wars should not occur at the expense of consumers," said EU Commissioner Joaquin Almunia. "While patent holders should be fairly remunerated for the use of their intellectual property, implementers of such standards should also get access to standardized technology on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms." Standard essential patents are those necessary for certain things, such as smartphones, to function properly. The European Commission did not fine either Motorola or Samsung, but it clearly wants patent abuse to end.
A U.S. appeals court has revived a patent-related lawsuit between Apple and Motorola Mobility. The case was summarily dismissed by the presiding judge in 2012 due to what he called a lack of evidence proving damages. The court of appeals revived an Apple complaint against Motorola and a Motorola complaint against Apple. Apple alleges that Motorola is violating four of its patents, while Motorola says Apple is violating one of its patents. The Motorola patent at issue is considered standard essential, which means it is required in order for phones to work and must be licensed at fair and reasonable rates. It's unclear how the cases will now proceed. Smartphone companies often battle one another in court over patents and both companies have other cases pending with rivals.
Motorola Solutions has signed a patent-licensing agreement with Microsoft that will allow it to use Microsoft's intellectual property in its Android and Chrome devices. Neither Microsoft nor Motorola Solutions identified the patents at issue, nor the cost of the licensing agreement. It is important to note that Motorola Solutions is not Motorola Mobility. Motorola Solutions makes enterprise-grade mobile products for businesses, some of which run Android and/or Chrome. Just last week, Motorola Solutions agreed to sell its enterprise business to Zebra Technologies for $3.45 billion. Motorola Mobility is currently owned by Google and makes Android smartphones. Motorola Mobility is on deck to be divested by Google to Lenovo in the months ahead. Motorola Mobility has staunchly refused to sign a licensing agreement with Microsoft, as it believes its own patents cover the disputed technologies.
The CTIA Wireless Association today said a number of handset makers and wireless network operators have agreed to a basic framework that will eventually provide consumers with better anti-theft tools for their smartphones. The Smartphone Anti-Theft Voluntary Commitment is meant to deter theft while also giving phone makers and carriers room to innovate. All the companies agreed to implement a baseline anti-theft tool preloaded on (or downloadable to) all wireless smartphones manufactured after July 2015. This tool will let consumers: remotely wipe their data; render the smartphone inoperable to unauthorized users; prevent reactivation without owner's consent; and reverse the inoperability of the device as well as restore the data to the device in the event it is found by the owner. Consumers will also be free to use whatever third-party anti-theft tools they wish in addition to those provided by the phone maker. All signatories will make the baseline anti-theft tool available with all its core features. The initial batch of companies signing the commitment include: Apple; Asurion; AT&T; Google; HTC America; Huawei; Motorola; Microsoft; Nokia; Samsung; Sprint; T-Mobile; U.S. Cellular; and Verizon Wireless. Some of those who haven't signed include Kyocera, LG, Sony, ZTE. A number of lawmakers lauded the commitment, which arrives several months after Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler mandated that wireless companies come up with such a solution or face regulatory intervention.
Motorola today named Rick Osterloh as the company's President and COO. He replaces former CEO Dennis Woodside, who left the company after Google announced plans to sell Motorola to Lenovo. Osterloh will run Motorola's day-to-day operations until the sale with Lenovo closes. It's unclear what Osterloh's role will be after Lenovo acquires Motorola's phone business. Osterloh reports directly to Google's board of directors.
Republic Wireless today announced that Moto Maker will be available to its customers beginning April 1. Moto Maker is an online tool that allows people to customize the appearance of the Moto X Android smartphone. In addition to offering Moto Maker, Republic is running a promotion that will give the first 2,000 people to use Moto Maker a free upgrade to a wooden back panel. The wooden backs are normally a $25 upgrade. The 16GB model costs $349.99 and the 32GB model costs $399.99.
Microsoft and Dell have inked a patent-licensing agreement in which Dell has agreed to pay Microsoft royalties for sales of devices based on Google's Android and Chrome operating systems. Android uses some patents that are owned by Microsoft, and most major handset makers have already signed similar licensing agreements with Microsoft. Motorola is the last major hold out because it believes its thousands of mobile patents negate the need to license Microsoft's. Terms of the agreement between Dell and Microsoft were not disclosed.
Motorola recently updated its camera application for the Moto G, Moto G, and several Droids. The app has a single new feature: users can now press the volume button to take a picture. The app is free to download from the Play Store.
Motorola and AT&T have begun pushing Android 4.4.2 KitKat to the Moto X. The minor system update adds the ability to print documents/images via Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or internet printers; improves battery life; resolves a bug that led to email sync delays; and fixes a bug that caused data connectivity to fail outside the U.S. The update can be installed over the air.
LG and Motorola today both followed Google's revelation of Android Wear with news of their involvement with the project. LG showed off the G Watch, its take on a smartwatch running Google's Android Wear platform. LG said its device will be the first Android Wear product to launch, and it is expected to arrive during the second quarter of the year. Motorola announced the Moto 360 (pictured), a circular timepiece that pays homage to the past while also looking forward to the future. Neither LG nor Motorola provided specifics about their devices, other than to say they will incorporate Google Now voice commands and rich notifications that are part of the Android Wear OS. Both companies said more details about the watches will be revealed over time.
Google today formally introduced its effort to port Android to wearables. The company announced Android Wear, a version of the Android operating system that will start with watches and eventually move on to other form factors. Google's immediate vision for wearables - and watches in particular - include some basic functions. Google believes smart wearables should provide useful information when the wearer needs it, such as posts, social network updates, and messaging notifications. Google thinks wearables should be able to answer questions, such as "OK Google." Google's Android-based wearables will include Google Now, its voice-based assistant, for performing searches and issuing commands. Android Wear will give people a better way to monitor their health and fitness, such as help with exercise goals and provide fitness summaries. Last, Google sees wearables as the key to a multiscreen world. Android Wear will let users access and control other devices - music players, phones, TVs - through Google Now. Developers interested in Project Android Wear can sign up to participate in a preview. Developers will be able to customize their app notifications for watches powered by Android Wear, for example. Google said that more resources, including APIs, will be available to developers soon. Google also noted that it is working with Asus, HTC, LG, Motorola, and Samsung to create Android Wear-based watches, which should arrive later this year.
Sprint today relaunched its own-branded prepaid service, which used to run under the name Sprint As You Go, but is now called Sprint Prepaid. The initial list of devices being offered by Sprint Prepaid includes the Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini (Spark compatible), Samsung Galaxy S3 (LTE compatible), Motorola Moto G (3G only), and the Apple iPhone 4S (refurbished). According to Sprint, more smartphones will be available soon, and feature phones will launch on Sprint Prepaid next month. Smartphone plans start at $45 per month, which includes unlimited voice minutes and messaging, but only Wi-Fi data. Spending $60 per month gains users unlimited cellular data (speeds throttled after 2.5GB) in addition to unlimited voice/messaging. Sprint Prepaid does not require credit checks or contracts, but it still eligible for the Sprint Buyback program for turning in or recycling old phones for a discount on new devices. Sprint Prepaid is available beginning today. Sprint is still offering its Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile USA prepaid brands.
Straight Talk, an MVNO that runs a bring-your-own-device service, is now offering nano SIM cards. Nano SIMs are the smallest SIM cards available, and fit devices such as the iPhone 5/5s/5c, Moto X, and select Droids. The nano SIM cards cost $6.99. Customers can buy the SIM cards directly from Straight Talk and use them in unlocked GSM handsets. Service plans for smartphones start at $45 per month and include unlimited voice minutes and messaging, and 2.5GB of high-speed data. Straight Talk's service runs on the networks of both AT&T and T-Mobile around the U.S.
Republic Wireless today announced the availability of the Motorola Moto G. The 8GB version costs $149 and the 16GB version costs $179. Both are sold contract-free, though customers can choose from several different financing options if they so wish. Republic Wireless, which is a Sprint MVNO, uses a combination of cellular data and Wi-Fi to pass VoIP-based calls through the internet rather than through traditional voice networks. It offers several plans. The first includes unlimited talk, text, and data on Wi-Fi only for $5 per month. The second includes unlimited talk and text on Wi-Fi and cellular, and unlimited data on Wi-Fi for $10 per month. The third includes unlimited talk, text and data on Wi-Fi, plus 3G cellular for $25 per month. The G has a 4.5-inch 720p HD screen, 5-megapixel camera, and 1.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 400 processor. It runs a stock version of Android 4.4 KitKat. The Moto G will be available beginning in April.
Motorola today announced the College Collection, a series of pre-designed Moto X handsets that reflect the colors of more than 40 colleges and universities. Motorola also added nine more back colors and three new accent colors to allow for further customization of the Moto X. In addition to the expanded color palette, Motorola is selling clear cases with school logos and team names, which can accompany the matching handset. Last, college students who register with a .edu email address will receive a $60 discount on the price of their College Connection Moto X. The Moto X can be customized for $399, but is available for just $49 with a two-year agreement with select carriers.
Motorola made a small update available to its Touchless Control application. The improved software adds several new features, chief among them the ability to respond to a "What's Up" or "Read Notifications" voice command, prompting the device to read new notifications aloud. The notifications feature is available in English, Spanish, and Italian, with other languages are supported in beta. The update also improves the software's ability to detect the end of speech for better accuracy and faster responses. Touchless Control is available to the Moto X, Droid Ultra, Droid Max, and Droid Mini. It requires Android 4.4 KitKat.
Motorola today said that it is working on a new wearable device that it expects to debut within the next few months. Motorola exec Rick Osterloh said the device will be a smartwatch "that people will actually want to wear." Osterloh didn't provide any other specifics about the device. Motorola made the MOTOACTV smartwatch several years ago, but has since discontinued it.
Motorola today released Android 4.4.2 KitKat for the U.S. Cellular variant of the Moto X. The update adds cloud printing, improves battery life, and resolves an email sync issue. The OS boost also includes several bug fixes. The update is free to download and install.
Dennis Woodside, who served as the CEO of Motorola while it was under Google's ownership, announced plans to leave the company next month. Woodside will step down on March 31. Google's Jonathan Rosenberg will step in as COO at Motorola Mobility as of April 1. "I'm excited about what the next chapter in Motorola's storied history will bring under the new ownership of Lenovo," said Woodside in a blog post. "While Google imbued simplicity and software sensibility into the company, Lenovo will bring it the scale it deserves. I have no doubt the two companies together will be a force for good in the mobile industry." Woodside will take the COO position with Dropbox after he departs Motorola.
Motorola today released Android 4.4.2 KitKat for the T-Mobile variant of the Motorola Moto X. The update adds cloud printing, improves battery life, and resolves an email sync issue. In addition to the system software upgrade, the minor OS boost includes several bug fixes. The update is free to download and install.
Aio Wireless today made three additional smartphones available to its prepaid customers. The devices, all of which have been available from other carriers for some time, include the Motorola Moto G for $149.99, the Nokia Lumia 520 for $99.99, and the ZTE Sonata 4G for $79.99. The Sonata reaches Aio Wireless stores today, but the Moto G and Lumia 520 won't be available until February 14.
Intellectual Ventures today indicated that a Delaware jury was unable to reach a verdict in a patent case it brought against Google's Motorola unit. With no verdict, the court was forced to declare a mistrial. "Mistrials are an occasional fact of life, and it is disappointing that the jury could not reach a unanimous verdict. But we are looking ahead to the retrial on these patents and also to our two other upcoming trials with Motorola Mobility later this year," said Melissa Finocchio, chief litigation counsel for Intellectual Ventures. The case involves Motorola hardware and features of the Google Play Store. Intellectual Ventures is a patent-holding firm.
Google today announced that it intends to sell Motorola to Lenovo for $2.91 billion. Google CEO Larry Page said that Google will hold onto the vast majority of Motorola's mobile-related patents, and will continue to use them to defend Android's position in the smartphone ecosystem. Lenovo plans to keep the Motorola brand alive, just as it did with the ThinkPad brand it acquired from IBM in 2005. According to Page, Google believes Motorola needs a hardware company to truly succeed. "Lenovo has the expertise and track record to scale Motorola into a major player within the Android ecosystem. They have a lot of experience in hardware, and they have global reach," said Page in a blog post. "This move will enable Google to devote our energy to driving innovation across the Android ecosystem, for the benefit of smartphone users everywhere." The deal will need to be approved by regulators in China and the U.S., and will take some time. Page did not say when he expects the deal to close.
Motorola today updated the Gallery application that's installed on its Android smartphones. The app has a refreshed design that offers larger thumbnails and faster, simpler navigation between galleries and photos. The Motorola Gallery, which is free to download from the Google Play Store, is available to devices running Android 4.4 KitKat, including the Moto X, Moto G, and the Droid Ultra, Droid Mini, and Droid Maxx.
Motorola recently updated is data-migration tool for Android handsets to make it easier to switch from an iPhone. The company already makes it fairly simple to install iPhone data (contact, calendar, etc.) on a Motorola smartphone via Moto Maker. Now, owners of Motorola devices, such as the Moto X, Moto G, Droid Maxx, Droid Ultra, and Droid Mini, can use the Motorola Migrate application to grab the data directly from Apple's iCloud servers. Motorola Migrate is free for Motorola devices to download and use.