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.
A patent lawsuit filed by Intellectual Ventures against Google's Motorola unit gets under way this week. The lawsuit was first filed in 2011 and alleges that Motorola is violating several patents owned by the patent holding firm. Intellectual Ventures originally hoped to reach a licensing deal with Motorola, but said Motorola was unwilling to meet its terms. The trial relates to three patented technologies, two of which pertain to online updating services, found in Motorola's older Android handsets. Intellectual Ventures has sued a large number of handset companies during the last two years, most of which have settled at this point. The trial between Motorola and Intellectual Ventures is taking place in Delaware.
Motorola today reduced the cost of the wood-backed Moto X by $75. The wooden backs are now a $25 upgrade rather than a $100 upgrade. Further, three more wooden options will become available beginning January 25. Motorola is issuing $75 rebates to those who already paid $100 for the custom wood backs.
Motorola has added a third option for people looking to customize the look of their Moto G with new Grip Shells. The Moto G, which can be ordered directly from Motorola's web site, comes with a black rear cover that can be swapped with a number of different rear shells. The standard Color Shell costs $15, the new Grip Shell costs $20, and the Flip Shell costs $30. Each of the shells is available in a half-dozen colors. The Grip Shell, in particular, is a bit more ruggedized than the others and includes a bumper for protection.
Scratch Wireless today announced that it is fully open for business an accepting new customers. The company made a big splash in October and has since been in a beta period testing the service ahead of today's formal launch. Scratch Wireless is an MVNO that runs on Sprint's network. It promises free calling, texting, and mobile data to those seeking lower monthly bills. Scratch is selling a single phone, the 2012-era Motorola Photon Q, for $269, and lets customers make calls, send text messages, and surf the web all for free when connected to a Wi-Fi network. When Wi-Fi isn't available, Scratch Wireless devices will roam onto Sprint's network, where text messages will still be free, but voice and data cost extra. Scratch offers daily and monthly voice/data plans for cellular access. The 24-hour plan costs $1.99 for 30 voice minutes and 25MB of data, and the monthly plan costs $14.99 for 250 voice minutes and 200MB of data. Scratch does not have an agreement in place with any Wi-Fi aggregators, so customers are on their own to map out Wi-Fi hotspots and availability. Scratch does not require contracts or recurring monthly fees.
Google today added the Motorola Moto G to the Google Play Store as a Play Edition device. The G, which has a 4.5-inch 720p HD screen, 5-megapixel camera, and 1.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 400 processor, is being sold unlocked and contract free for $179 (8GB) and $199 (16GB). The Moto G runs a stock version of Android 4.4 KitKat. Of note, the Moto G supports HSPA+ networks, but not LTE 4G. It is available beginning today. The Moto G is available for the same price from Motorola's web site. The phone is also being sold at a discount from several wireless network operators, including AT&T, Boost, and Verizon Wireless.
Motorola today made an updated version of its Moto Assist application available to Motorola devices. The app now lets users reply to incoming SMS messages using just their voice. It is more accurate at detecting when the device is in a moving vehicle, and can automatically launch the owner's favorite music app when driving. The update also contains some bug fixes. Moto Assist is free to download from the Play Store.
Apple was cleared in a patent case brought on by Google's Motorola unit. Apple was accused of using Motorola patents in the iPhone. The U.S. International Trade Commission found that Apple hadn't violated the patents in April 2013. Today, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit upheld that decision.
Boost Mobile today announced that it, too, will sell the contract-free Motorola Moto G. The Boost variant of the device is being sold by Home Shopping Network television, HSN.com, and HSN's mobile web site beginning today, January 2. The Moto G will be available from Boost Mobile's web site and in select stores beginning January 14. Boost is asking $129.99 for the Moto G and it does not require customers to sign contracts. Boost is offering the Moto G with its $55 monthly plans with shrinkage. Customers can also purchase the Moto G directly from Motorola for $179.
Verizon Wireless today announced that the Motorola Moto G will be available for sale via its prepaid wireless service beginning January 9. The device will cost $99 and does not require customers to sign a new contract. It is compatible with Verizon's prepaid plans, which start at $60 per month for unlimited voice minutes, messages, and 2GB of data. The Moto G does not support Verizon's LTE 4G network, and is also available directly from Motorola for $179.
Motorola today dropped the off-contract price of the Moto X to $399 for the 16GB model. This new price point is available to customized devices that work across all the major carriers. Motorola believes the unsubsidized Moto X is a good alternative for those who may be ineligible for upgrade pricing due to their contract, or for use with prepaid or month-to-month services. The Moto X has been available since August. The new price does not apply to the bamboo model, which starts at $499 for the 16GB model.
Motorola has made the Android 4.4.2 system update available to the Moto G. The update installs a new phone dialer, makes performance enhancements to the camera application, adds photo-editing options to the gallery app, adds support for printing via Google Cloud Print, adds the latest version of Hangouts for use with SMS, and makes the G compatible with Square credit card readers. The update can be installed on all versions of the G.
Verizon Wireless today indicated via one of its Twitter accounts that the Android 4.4 KitKat system update is being pushed to the Motorola Droid Ultra, Droid Maxx, and Droid Mini. The update will be distributed in phases, so it may take a few days to reach all users.
Motorola today began offering bamboo as an option for customized versions of the Moto X. Though the company originally said a handful of different wood materials would be available, bamboo is the only option listed on the site as of today. Choosing bamboo instead of plastic adds $100 to the cost of the Moto X and 14 days to the manufacturing time. Motorola did not say if more wood options would become available. Aside from the wooden back covering, all the standard options are still available for customizing the Moto X.
Motorola today updated the Touchless Control application that's found on the Moto X. The improved application accepts more Google Now commands without requiring users to unlock their phones first. According to Motorola, personal information, such as emails and messages, are still protected by the PIN code, but users can speak their PIN code to unlock the device via Touchless Control. The app also offers a new alert tone when users say "OK Google Now." This version of Touchless Control is available only to devices running Android 4.4. KitKat and up.
Motorola has provided an update to its camera application for Android devices. The camera app, which is the one that comes on the Moto X, for example, now lets users control focus and exposure manually by dragging the focus ring around the viewfinder. The app now locks exposure during panorama capture and adds more languages. The update also fixes several bugs. The Motorola camera application is free to download from the Google Play Store.
Verizon Wireless has activated LTE 4G on its AWS spectrum in dozens of markets, reports GigaOm. Verizon Wireless lit up AWS-based LTE in New York City earlier this year, but has recently expanded the number of markets to include many of the major metro areas east of the Mississippi River, as well as a number along the west coast. In the majority of these new markets on the east coast (Atlanta, Boston, Washington, D.C., et al.), Verizon has tripled capacity, while in several western markets (Los Angeles, San Francisco) it has boosted capacity by 150%. This means more people can connect to the network in the same location and can access data at faster speeds. A handful of Verizon's existing smartphones (Apple iPhone 5s and 5c, Samsung Galaxy S4, Motorola Droid Maxx, Mini, and Ultra) can already access Verizon's AWS-based LTE network, and Verizon said software updates will add this functionality to others. Moving forward, most new Verizon smartphones will be able to reach LTE in both the AWS and 700MHz bands.
The wood-paneled variant of the Moto X should hit Motorola's Moto Maker site in the coming weeks, according to Reuters reporter Sinead Carew. The Moto X was first announced this summer and can be designed with custom colors, accents, wallpapers, and inscriptions. Once available, customers will be able to select from several different woods to form the rear cover of the phone.
Motorola today made the Moto G Android smartphone available for sale through its web site. Consumers can buy the device directly from Motorola. The Moto G costs $179 for the 8GB model and $199 for the 16GB model. The Moto G was announced earlier this month. It has a 4.5-inch 720p HD screen, quad-core Snapdragon 400 processor, and 5-megapixel camera. The Moto G ships with Android 4.3 Jelly Bean, but it will be updated to Android 4.4 KitKat early next year. Motorola is selling the unlocked GSM model only. Wireless network operators will sell the CDMA variant in January.