Beginning today, most smartphones sold in the U.S. will include anti-theft security tools. July 1 marks the day by which phone makers and network operators agreed to implement free theft deterrents on smartphones. According to the CTIA, most of the industry has responded by placing remote lock/wipe capabilities on consumer devices. The addition of an activation lock on the Apple iPhone, for example, has dramatically reduced iPhone thefts in major cities. The activation lock prevents a stolen device from being activated by another person, thus making it useless to thieves. Remote wipe features allow people to erase the personal data from their handset if lost/stolen to protect their identity. The major participants in today's action include Apple, AT&T, BlackBerry, Google, HTC, Huawei, LG, Motorola, Microsoft, Samsung, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, Verizon Wireless, and ZTE. "Today's fulfillment of the Smartphone Anti-Theft Voluntary Commitment is another example of the wireless industry proactively working together with policymakers and law enforcement to help protect consumers' smartphones in the event they are ever lost or stolen. We will continue to work with all interested parties to continue to deploy new technologies and tools to improve device theft-deterrence tools. We remind consumers to take a few minutes to use PINs, passwords, apps and other device features to protect their mobile devices and personal information." The industry was coerced into acting "voluntarily" when the FCC threatened to make such protective measures mandatory.
Verizon Wireless said the Motorola Droid Turbo will be updated to Android 5.1 Lollipop beginning the afternoon of Wednesday, July 1. The update will be delivered in phases over a few weeks. Customers will be able to manually update their phones over the air if they wish. The update is free.
General Motors today committed to adding Android Auto and CarPlay to even more of its cars and trucks. The company is already bringing the smartphone tech to its Chevy, Corvette, and Cadillac brands. General Motors' Buick-branded vehicles will also have Android Auto and CarPlay beginning with select 2016 models. The technology connects a smartphone through Buick's IntelliLink system so drivers can access navigation, text messaging, contact lists, and entertainment apps via the car's in-dash system. The first cars to support Android Auto and CarPlay will be the Buick Regal and LaCrosse.
Motorola hopes a 30-day, risk-free trial will tempt people to check out the Moto X. The company is letting people customize their own Moto X via Moto Maker and test the phone for a month with no commitment. If they like the phone, they can keep it for $299 (after $50 rebate). The trial is for an unlocked device that would be used with a no-contract plan. People who dislike their custom-ordered phone will even be given a one-time do-over to design something different. Customers who test the Moto X and don't like it may ship it back free of charge. Motorola says there are no hidden fees. Motorola didn't say how long it will offer the trial.
Cadillac today said it will add support for Apple's CarPlay and Google's Android Auto in select 2016 model-year vehicles. Cadillac will adopt CarPlay in cars and trucks featuring its 8-inch in-dash unit first, with Android Auto to follow later in the year. Cadillac's announcement follows that of Chevrolet's, both of which are properties of General Motors. CarPlay and Android Auto bring a select number of features from smartphones to the in-dash control panel for easier and safer use by drivers.
Boost Mobile today announced the launch of BoostTV. BoostTV is a video service that offers limited content for free. The video is streamed over Boost's network. Boost is also offering a premium $10 add-on called BoostTV Live Sports. The sports package provides access to a handful of extra channels, including AyM Sports, Azteca America, BeIN Sports, BeIN Sports en Español, Fightbox, Latin American Sports, and TyC. The package also provides access to live soccer matches, such as the upcoming Copa America. BoostTV is available to the HTC Desire, LG Tribute, Motorola E, and the Samsung Galaxy Prevail LTE, Galaxy S5, and Galaxy S6. Boost Mobile said more handsets will be supported over time. The BoostTV app itself is free to download from the Google Play Store. Sprint is offering the same Live Sports TV service to its regular, postpaid customers, too. It is available to most Android and iOS smartphones sold by Sprint.
Consumer Cellular today said it has added the Motorola Moto E with LTE to its lineup of Android smartphones. The Moto E features a 4.5-inch screen, 5-megapixel camera with 720p HD video capture, and a VGA front camera. The phone is powered by a 1.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon with 1 GB of RAM, 8 GB of storage, and includes support for memory cards up to 32 GB. The phone runs Android 5.0 Lollipop. Consumer Cellular is selling the Moto E with LTE for $100. Consumer Cellular does not require contracts.
Motorola's Senior Director of Software Product Management, David Schuster, today said owners of the original Moto X should see Lollipop hit their devices in the next few weeks. Schuster said Motorola has faced challenges with its partners in getting the OS builds approved, but the company expects to start deploying in the U.S. and Latin America soon. Motorola earlier indicated the Moto X would jump from Android 4.4.4 KitKat directly to Android 5.1 Lollipop. Motorola will provide details about the exact timing closer to availability.
Motorola must pay Fujifilm $10.2 million for violating one of its imaging patents. Fujifilm sued Motorola in 2012 alleging the handset maker was violating four of its patents. The jury invalidated three of the patents, but agreed that Motorola used the fourth without permission. The patent pertains to converting color images to monochrome images. Fujifilm had sought as much as $40 million in damages and did not comment on the outcome of the trial. "We are pleased with the verdict related to three out of the four patents," said Motorola, "and are evaluating our options on the one patent on which we did not prevail." Lenovo purchased Motorola from Google last year.
TextNow Wireless today announced new pricing for its service plans and added two handsets to its lineup. TextNow Wireless offers all customers unlimited talk and text and up to 500MB of data for $18.99 per month. Similar to Google's recently-announced Project Fi, TextNow runs on Sprint's cellular network but defaults to WiFi connections whenever possible. The service is available to most any device (phone, tablet, PC) for WiFi-based calling and texting, and customers can use their TextNow number no matter which form factor they choose. Customers can upgrade to 1 GB of cellular data for $26.99 per month, 2 GB for $39.99, or 4 GB for $59.99. All plans include taxes and fees. In addition to the reworked plans, TextNow Wireless now sells the Google Nexus 5 ($249) and Motorola Moto X ($149). TextNow Wireless already offers a number of new and refurbished Sprint devices, including the Moto G, LG Optimus F3, Samsung Galaxy S3, and Samsung Galaxy S4.
Defense Mobile, an MVNO that targets military personnel, is coming out of beta status today with more coverage and more devices in its arsenal. During its beta trial, Defense Mobile resold access to AT&T and Sprint's networks. Now, it offers Verizon, too, and is in talks with T-Mobile. The company's service is meant exclusively for members of the U.S. armed forces, their families, and veterans. Defense Mobile is supported by a 100% veteran-staffed Member Care organization and offers perks to active members of the military. Individual plans start at $30 per month and have names such as Alpha, Bravo, and Charlie. Family plans start at $95 per month with names such a squad, platoon, and battalion. The handset selection varies from entry level phones such as the Motorola Moto G up to today's premium handsets such as the Apple iPhone 6 Plus. The company offers bonus services for military members, such as a banking application associated with a pre-paid MasterCard, an app that helps military members and their families find veteran benefits, and a free email service that's associated with their branch of the armed forces. The company sells devices and services directly from its web site, but hopes to reach 25,000 retail distribution points around the country by the end of the year.
Verizon Wireless said its version of the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 will begin to receive Android 5.0 Lollipop today. The over-the-air update will roll out to all users gradually. According to Verizon, seven of its handsets now run Lollipop, including the Motorola Moto X (2nd gen); Galaxy Note 4, S5, and Note 3; LG G2 and G3; and the HTC One M8.
Sharp has engineered a 4K (Ultra HD) screen for smartphones. The prototype measures 5.5 inches across the diagonal and includes 3860 x 2160 pixels, giving it a pixel density of 806 pixels per inch. By way of comparison, the iPhone 6 Plus's 5.5-inch screen has 1920 x 1080 pixels, or 401 pixels per inch. The prototype LCD relies on Sharp's IGZO technology, but the company is not sure if the prototype will ever be used. "Currently there are no driver ICs for small 4K panels, so the panel is not ready for mass production at this point," said Sharp spokeswoman Miyuki Nakayama in an email to Computerworld. Some of today's flagship devices (LG G4, Motorola Nexus 6, Samsung Galaxy S6) have jumped from full HD to quad HD, or 2560 x 1440 pixels. The majority of high-end phones still use full HD screens, while mid-range phones have moved to 720p screens. Entry-level phones generally offer 800 x 480 or 960 x 540 resolution displays.
Via Licensing today said that Google has added its LTE patents to its broader pool of LTE patents. Via Licensing collects wireless patents from a broad range of companies with the intent of licensing them at fair and reasonable rates. Google is the latest to add its intellectual property to the pool, which already has patents from AT&T, China Mobile, Deutsche Telekom, KDDI, NTT DoCoMo, SK Telecom, Telecom Italia, Telefonica, ZTE, and others. Google gained ownership of some 17,000 patents when it acquired Motorola in 2012. Via Licensing says any patent holder is welcome to contribute patents to its growing collection.
A Delaware jury today said Motorola violated a patent held by Intellectual Ventures. The patent pertains to how multimedia messages function on mobile devices. The jury cleared Motorola of violating a second patent related to wireless bandwidth. Damages will be decided later. The two companies faced off in court last year over these same patents, but the trial resulted in a hung jury. Today's decision comes after the case was tried again. Intellectual Ventures is taking Motorola to trial over yet another patent later this week. Intellectual Ventures is a patent-holding firm with some 17,000 patents in its portfolio.
Total Wireless, an MVNO, recently launched exclusively in Walmart stores. The prepaid service provider offers a handful of low-cost, no-contract plans in addition to a limited lineup of smartphones. The entry-level plan, for example, costs $25 per month and offers unlimited calling and messaging, but no data. Adding $10 buys access to 2.5GB of data. The company also offers shared data plans for two, three, or four lines for $60, $85, and $110, respectively. These plans include 5GB, 9GB, and 12GB of shared data, respectively. The company also offers a data rollover add-on for an extra $10 per month. Total Wireless' handsets include entry-level devices from Alcatel OneTouch, Motorola, Samsung, and ZTE. Total Wireless has not named its carrier partner, but based on the coverage map it is likely Verizon Wireless.
Verizon Wireless's prepaid business added the Motorola Moto E to its lineup of devices today. The second-generation handset from Motorola sports a 4.5-inch screen, Snapdragon 410 processor, 5-megapixel camera, and 4G LTE. Verizon is charging $99.99 for the phone, which is available without a contract.
Verizon Wireless today said the Motorola Nexus 6 will be available for preorder March 12 and should reach stores March 19. It will cost $250 with a contract or $27 per month with a Verizon Edge plan. Google, Motorola, and others have been selling the Nexus 6 since last year.
Motorola today added the Moto 360 smartwatch to its Moto Maker design tool. The online tool lets people design their own smartwatch, with some limitations. Moto Maker lets shoppers pick from three different finishes, two band sizes, and between leather and metal band materials. Motorola said Maker-made Moto 360s will be preloaded with custom watch faces. Motorola said it believes personal choice is an important aspect of its business model now and it is glad to bring Moto Maker to its smartwatch. Most configurations will ship in about a week, but certain versions of the metal band have longer wait times. Pricing remains unchanged at $249 for the leather strap and $299 for the metal strap. Shipping is free.
Cricket Wireless today announced plans to sell the second-generation Motorola Moto E starting on March 13. The phone features LTE 4G, a 4.5-inch display, 5-megapixel camera, quad-core 1.2GHz processor and runs Android 5.0 Lollipop. The phone costs $129.99 and does not require a contract. Service plans start at $35 per month. Cricket is offering a free month of service to customers who switch from T-Mobile, MetroPCS, Sprint, and Boost.
Sprint today said it plans to sell the Motorola Moto E from Boost Mobile, Virgin Mobile, and Sprint Prepaid this month. The Moto E, which has a larger screen and supports LTE 4G, is available in white from Boost Mobile beginning today for $99.99. The black model is available today from Sprint Prepaid at Best Buy and RadioShack stores. Sprint said Virgin Mobile (via Walmart) will offer the Moto E beginning March 9. The device has a 4.5-inch display, 5-megapixel camera, and runs Android 5.0 Lollipop.
Google's forthcoming wireless service will only be available to the Nexus 6 handset at launch, reports the Wall Street Journal. Citing sources familiar with Google's plans, the Journal says Google's wireless service will "weave together" access from T-Mobile and Sprint's cellular services, in addition to WiFi. The service won't be available to older Nexus handsets, such as the LG-made Nexus 5 and Nexus 4. The Nexus 6, made by Google's former Motorola unit, went on sale last year and is available directly from Google online. At the Mobile World Congress trade show this week, Google's Sundar Pichai confirmed plans to offer wireless service on an experimental basis. He likened it to the Nexus device program, about which he said, "Our goal here is to drive a set of innovations which we think the system should adopt." Android 5.0 Lollipop is able to automatically pick the best wireless service (cellular or WiFi) based on a given app's needs. Google did not comment on the Journal's report.
Motorola is prepared to add its Moto 360 smartwatch to its Moto Maker design tool. Motorola launched Moto Maker with the Moto X in September 2013. The online tool lets people design their own smartphone (within certain limitations). Beginning next month, people will be able to customize a Moto 360 smartwatch, too. Users will be able to pick from three different finishes, two band sizes, and between leather and metal band materials. Motorola will also preload custom watch faces. Motorola said it believes personal choice is an important aspect of its business model now and it is glad to bring Moto Maker to its smartwatch. Motorola didn't say how long it might take to configure personalized watches, nor if any extra costs are involved.
Motorola's new Moto E handset improves specs across the board, including the screen, processor, and storage. It also adds LTE 4G. Here are our first impressions of Motorola's low-cost smartphone.
Motorola today introduced a second-generation Moto E with improved specs. Like its predecessor, the new Moto E is an entry-level handset. It runs Android 5.0 Lollipop and includes some of Motorola's customizations, such as the Quick Capture gesture to launch the camera and Glance Screen for notifications. The most significant new feature is the added support for LTE 4G networks. The battery cover is not removable, but the Moto E does feature a customizable band around the edges that can be removed and swapped with bands of other colors. The screen has been stretched from 4.3 inches to 4.5 inches, though it keeps the 960 x 540 resolution. The E is powered by a 1.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 410 processor. Internal storage has been improved from 4GB to 8GB. The phone has a 5-megapixel camera, and a VGA user-facing camera. Motorola claims the 2,390mAh battery should provide more than a full day of usable life. The second-generation Moto E, which comes in black or white, is available starting today for $149.
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.
T-Mobile plans to make some of its handsets compatible with its 700MHz spectrum through a software update. Today, only the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 and Galaxy Note Edge can use LTE on T-Mobile's 700MHz spectrum. T-Mobile said it will provide the system update to the Motorola Nexus 6 in the early part of 2015, followed by the Sony Xperia Z3 and Samsung Galaxy Avant in May, and the ZTE Max later this year. Two tablets and T-Mobile's Z915 LTE 4G Hotspot also support the 700MHz airwaves. T-Mobile is supplementing its AWS-based LTE network with its 700MHz holdings in select markets around the country. The company is still in the process of deploying LTE to all its 700MHz spectrum.
Cablevision today announced FreeWheel, a wireless service that relies wholly on WiFi networks rather than cellular networks. FreeWheel will offer unlimited voice calls (via VoIP), messaging, and data for $30 per month. Cablevision's Optimum Online customers will be able to use the service for just $10 per month. At launch, the service will work with the Motorola Moto G, which Cablevision is selling for $99. FreeWheel service can be accessed anywhere WiFi is offered. Customers will automatically be connected to Optimum Online WiFi hotspots when and where they are available. Cablevision claims to have 1.1 million public hotspots available. The service will be most heavily marketed in the New York City region, which is Cablevision's home market and where it has the densest number of access points. FreeWheel offers international calling and does not ask customers to sign contracts. The service and device will be available beginning in February.
T-Mobile today unveiled a new program for consumers interested in cheaper handset upgrades called Score. With Score, users will qualify for a free entry-level smartphone after six months or significant discounts on all T-Mobile devices after 12 months. Score costs $5 per month and is open to all T-Mobile customers, whether prepaid or postpaid. After paying $5 per month for six months, for example, customers may choose to get the Alcatel OneTouch Evolve 2 at no additional cost; or, after paying $5 per month for 12 months, take $150 off the price of the Motorola Nexus 6 or $100 off the Samsung Galaxy S5. (Actual handset discounts will vary based on when the customer chooses to upgrade.) Customers who enroll in Score today will be able to upgrade to a new, free phone as soon as July 25 or enjoy a heavily discounted flagship as soon as Jan. 25, 2016.
Motorola today began pushing Android 5.0 Lollipop to the second-generation Moto G in the U.S. The update is being delivered in phases over the next few weeks. Motorola hasn't indicated if the first-generation Moto G will receive the update, too. Motorola has already delivered Lollipop to the second-generation Moto X.
Motorola today announced the availability of a 64GB variant of the second-generation Moto X Pure Edition. The 64GB model can be purchased through Moto Maker and costs $599. Customers can customize its appearance and select their carrier of choice.
Yahoo today updated its Aviate launcher for Android devices and made it easier to perform searches. According to Yahoo, Aviate users can now search through apps, people, and the web directly from the home screen without requiring them to open a new window first. Aviate gains new compatibility with the Motorola Nexus 6 and adds support for live wallpapers, too. Last, Aviate received several performance improvements and bug fixes. The Aviate launcher is free to download from the Google Play Store. It is compatible with devices running Android 4.0 and up.
Verizon Wireless today said it is delivering a minor update to the Motorola Droid Turbo. The update adds VoLTE capabilities, as well as simultaneous voice and data usage. Verizon said the update is being pushed out gradually in waves, but can be snagged manually.
Motorola lost its appeal in a court case regarding a price fixing scheme for mobile phone displays. The company wanted to hold foreign firms, including AU Optronics, liable for overcharging Motorola's foreign suppliers. The US court disagreed with Motorola's claim. "Motorola's foreign subsidiaries were injured in foreign commerce -- in dealings with other foreign companies," wrote Circuit Judge Richard Posner. "To give Motorola rights to take the place of its foreign companies and sue on their behalf under U.S. antitrust law would be an unjustified interference with the right of foreign nations to regulate their own economies." Motorola said it was disappointed with the court's decision and was weighing its options. In other cases, AU Optronics and a handful of other companies were found guilty of colluding to fix the prices of mobile phone screens. Verdicts against the companies have reached $1 billion.
Verizon Wireless has made Android 5.0 Lollipop available to its variant of the Moto X (2nd. gen.). Other carriers made Lollipop available to the Moto X earlier this month. Lollipop is a complete refresh of the OS, including a new design and new features.
Motorola today said it will replace a few hundred Nexus 6 handsets sent to some AT&T customers. "We delivered a small number of Nexus 6 smartphones with incorrect software to AT&T customers who pre-ordered," said Motorola in a statement. "The incorrect software prevents the phone from starting up properly. We will provide replacements for consumers whose phones are affected. The problem has been corrected and the phones currently shipping are fine." When asked, Motorola denied that shipments were halted or recalled because of the bug. The issue appears to only affect the AT&T variant of the Nexus 6. "If a consumer sees the 'welcome' after the first time they turn on the phone, then their device isn't affected and they should use it as normal," said Motorola in an email to Phone Scoop. "People can call [Motorola's] customer service if they have questions."
Motorola has made new versions of its camera and gallery applications available to the Moto X, Moto G, and Droid Turbo handsets. The camera app gains new timer functions and Material Design. It also adds a way to switch between the user-facing camera and main camera with a double flick of the wrist. Motorola's gallery app was updated with Material Design, but no new features. Both apps are free to download from the Play Store.
Motorola today announced the Keylink, a Bluetooth device meant to help the absent minded find their missing keys or phone. The Keylink can be attached to a key ring and is paired with devices via Motorola's Connect application. Once set up, your keys and phone will be able to find one another should either go missing. For lost phones, Keylink owners need only press a button to make their phone ring. Similarly, for lost keys Keylink owners need only open the Connect app to make the Keylink ring. According to Motorola, the Keylink has a range of about 100 feet, and the replaceable battery lasts about a year. The Motorola Connect app is free to both Android and iOS devices. The Keylink is available from Motorola and T-Mobile beginning today for $25.
Google today revealed details about a new version of the Google Search app for Android devices. The latest rendition of Search makes use of Material Design and adds new Now cards for keeping track of reminders, travel, sports scores, and your commute. Google Now will recognize the "OK, Google" voice prompt within third-party applications. It can also be used to open and search through those third-party apps. Google has made it possible for the Nexus 6 and Galaxy Note 4 smartphones to enable the "OK, Google" prompt even when the device is locked and asleep (similar to the Motorola Moto X). Last, Google added a fun feature that allows users to flip a virtual coin when they need help choosing between two selections. Google Search is free to download from the Play Store.
Motorola today said that owners of the second-generation Moto X and Moto G handsets can update their phones to Android 5.0 Lollipop. Motorola has made Lollipop available to the Moto X Pure Edition, Moto G GSM (U.S.), and Moto G GSM (Global) retail versions sold in the U.S. Motorola said the roll out will be done in phases and may take several days to reach all devices. Lollipop features a brand new design and numerous new features, such as support for multiple accounts, a new Photo gallery app, and better security. The update is free.