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.
Sprint today introduced a new plan that combines the cost of a service plan with the cost of a handset in one monthly payment. The Sprint All-In plan costs $80 per month and includes unlimited talk, text, and data, and a Sprint Lease on handsets such as the Apple iPhone 6, Samsung Galaxy S6, and HTC One M9. There are no up-front phone costs aside from a one-time, $36 activation fee. The $80 monthly rate does not include taxes. Sprint believes this is the simplest, most straight-forward plan in the market. Sprint will use soccer star David Beckham to advertise the plan, which is available in Sprint stores beginning today.
Cricket Wireless today said its goods and services will be available at 213 Meijer stores across the midwest beginning June 27. Consumers in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Kentucky will be able buy prepackaged phone kits from phone makers such as HTC, Samsung, and ZTE. The stores will also sell Cricket's universal SIM card kits for those who already have a compatible device. Cricket Wireless is owned and operated by AT&T.
HTC is not interested in being acquired by Asus, said the company today. Last week, Asus' executive team suggested it was considering such a move, but hadn't made a final decision. "[HTC] has not made any contact with Asus regarding this matter," said HTC on its web site, "and it will not consider a merger with Asus. As an international brand, HTC will continue to design world-class innovative smart devices through its pursuit of brilliance brand promise." Asus is much larger than HTC, which has struggled in recent years to bounce back from sagging smartphone sales. HTC recently forecast a significant drop in profits for the current quarter. Its financial position leaves it susceptible to acquisition.
Asustek Computer is thinking about buying competitor HTC, but it hasn't made a final decision just yet. The company has discussed the matter among its executives, according to CFO David Chang. "Our chairman has chatted about the topic internally," said Chang to Reuters. "Still, the chances of an actual takeover are not big as Asustek is a company that has depended on organic growth." Asus and HTC are both located in Taiwan. HTC has struggled in recent years. It once held a high spot among Android device makers, but stumbled badly. Earlier this week, HTC forecast a steep loss for the current quarter due to unexpectedly low sales of its flagship smartphone, the One M9. HTC's precarious position prompted acquisition talks. Asus has a more diverse product portfolio and a stronger balance sheet.
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.
HTC recently made the HTC Mail application available as a stand-alone app in the Google Play Store. By separating the app from its Sense user interface, HTC is now able to update the app with new features and resolve bugs more efficiently. Previously, such updates were limited to distribution with full OS rewrites. The version available today in the Play Store doesn't add any new features over what's available to devices running the latest version of Sense. HTC Mail is free to download.
MixRadio today made its customized radio service available to Android and iOS devices for the first time. Microsoft acquired MixRadio when it purchased Nokia's handset business, but later divested it to a messaging company called Line. Due to its relationship with Nokia and Microsoft, MixRadio has been exclusive to Windows Phones until today. The new Android and iOS apps, which are available from the Play Store and iTunes, include thousands of free, curated radio stations similar to how Pandora operates. The service lets users create and listen to personalized radio stations, and can be cached on devices for offline playback. The app is supported by ads, but MixRadio may launch an ad-free version later this year. It is available in 31 countries, including the U.S. In addition to announcing the new apps, MixRadio said it has partnered with HTC to provide music-related news stories for HTC's BlinkFeed application.
HTC today clarified statements made regarding its plans for smaller -- or "mini" -- versions of its flagship phones. A report, quoting an HTC executive, suggested that HTC did not plan to bring any more smaller-stature phones, such as the One mini 2, to market. HTC President of North Asia Jack Tong did say the industry is moving toward phones with screens larger than 5 inches. Tong "did not say HTC is not planning any more mini versions of its phones," said HTC spokesperson Jeff Gordon in an email to Phone Scoop. "To be clear, I'm not confirming HTC is coming out with an HTC One M9 mini," tempered Gordon, "only that Jack Tong didn't say what some press are attributing to him." In 2013 HTC followed up its One M7 flagship with a smaller and lower-spec'd mini variant. The company did the same thing in 2014 with the M8, but has yet to reveal any such plans for the M9.
HTC today provided a significant update to its Zoe photo/video editing and sharing app. The app now supports Google's Chromecast, which will let users cast a Zoe video from their phone to a Chromecast-equipped TV or other device. The app makes adjustments to the clip sequence user interface, too, which makes it easier to readjust, reorder, and remove clips from Zoes. The app also adds the ability to "retry" failed video uploads, and will now continue playback seamlessly when users rotate their phone (rather than restart from the beginning). HTC's Zoe app is free to download from the Google Play Store.
HTC has made updates available to its Lock Screen and Sense Home apps for the One M9 and other handsets. The Lock Screen gains a significant refresh thanks to Lollipop-style notifications, full-screen album artwork during music playback, and more detailed local weather information. The Lock Screen can now display Yelp reviews and BlinkFeed content, too. As for Sense Home, HTC improved the home screen widget and themes, and resolved a number of bugs and performance issues. Both HTC Lock Screen and Sense Home are free to download from the Google Play Store.
HTC today rolled out an update to its camera application for the One M9 and One M8. The new camera application adds RAW camera mode to the one M9, which lets users capture, download, and adjust full-sized digital negatives. The app also adds a Crop-Me-In shooting mode to the One M8. Other new features for both the M9 and M8 include an adjustable divider in Split Capture mode, and the ability to add and remove camera shooting modes. The HTC camera application is free to download from the Google Play Store.
HTC is pushing out a system update to AT&T's version of the One M9 that improves performance of the camera. In addition to the camera, the update also fixes bugs and resolves some overheating issues. The new build number is 1.32.502.31. HTC warned that the update will reboot the phone several times and may take up to 20 minutes to complete. HTC has already pushed a similar update to the Sprint and T-Mobile versions of the One M9.
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.
Google has begun pushing the Android 5.1 Lollipop update to several Play Edition smartphones, including the HTC One M8 and the Sony Xperia Z Ultra. Android 5.1 makes a number of improvements to the devices' performance, and also adds several new features. Google tweaked the Quick Settings menu, added support for HD voice, improved security by blocking non-authorized device resets, and changed how users adjust notifications and alerts. Play Edition handsets, which are available directly from Google, are unlocked and run a native version of Android. They are entirely devoid of manufacturer and carrier user interface overlays. The Android 5.1 Lollipop update is free to install.
AT&T today made Android 5.0 Lollipop available to its variants of the HTC One M8 and the Samsung Galaxy S4. Lollipop adds priority mode for managing notifications, battery saving tools, and Smart Lock for protecting devices with nearby Bluetooth accessories, among many other features. Both HTC and Samsung have also revised their Sense and Touchwiz user interface overlays for the One and GS4, respectively. AT&T suggests users download the system updates via WiFi. The updates are free to install.
LG is slowly revealing aspects of its forthcoming flagship smartphone bit by bit. The G4, expected to arrive at an event later this month, will have LG's newest user interface called LG UX 4.0. The UI has a new design based on Android 5.0 Lollipop. According to LG, UX 4.0 "provides more optimized and intuitive convenience to each individual at every user level." One new feature is called Quick Shot, which lets users to take pictures by double-tapping the phone's rear key even while the display is off. The camera itself gains new functions, too, including a manual mode that gives users full control over the camera's settings and behaviors. LG updated its calendar app with a drag-and-drop scheduler and improved its Smart Bulletin tool with the ability to collect data across more apps. The UX also introduces LG's version of Google Now, called Smart Notice. LG says Smart Notice provides personalized notifications for weather, travel, and more by analyzing users' daily routines and habits. LG also posted a teaser video on its YouTube channel regarding the G4's camera. The camera will have an aperture of f/1.8, which means it can let in a little bit more light than most competing smartphone cameras. The Samsung Galaxy S6, for example, has an aperture of f/1.9 and the HTC One M9 has an aperture of f/2.2. Earlier this month LG revealed a new 5.5-inch quad HD display for the G4. Together, these hints provide a decent picture of what the LG G4 will offer. The LG G4 launch event is scheduled for April 28.
HTC today announced the One M8s, a handset that looks like the M8 but dials back the specs to help lower the price. The phone has the same unibody metal design and full HD 5-inch screen, but uses a Snapdragon 615 processor and changes up the camera sensors. The 615 has eight, 64-bit cores with four clocked at 1.7GHz and four clocked at 1.0GHz in a big.LITTLE configuration. The phone includes 2GB of RAM and 16GB of storage, and supports memory cards up to 128GB. The duo-camera has a 13-megapixel sensor and an aperture of f/2.0, while the user-facing camera has a 5-megapixel sensor. The phone, which is being released in Europe, has limited support for LTE (bands 3, 5, 7, 8, 20), but includes Bluetooth 4.1, NFC, GPS, GLONASS, and WiFi. The One M8s features HTC's signature Boomsound stereo speakers, packs a handful of sensors, and includes a 2,840mAh battery. The phone ships with Android 5.0 Lollipop, but the older Sense 6.0 user interface overlay from HTC with BlinkFeed. The phone will be available in select markets in gray, silver or gold. Pricing is set at about $410.
Jonah Becker, HTC's VP of Industrial Design, announced he is departing the company. Becker joined One & Co., a design firm bought by HTC, 17 years ago. He succeeded Scott Croyle, who himself left HTC a year ago. "It's been an amazing journey with One & Co and HTC, but it's time for a new adventure," said Becker through his personal Twitter account. Of his departure HTC said, "We would like to thank Jonah for his work with HTC, and wish him all the best in his future endeavors. He has been succeeded by Daniel Hundt, based in our San Francisco design office." Becker's departure comes just a week after HTC announced a change at the executive leadership level. Long-time CEO Peter Chou switched roles to run the company's Future Development Lab. Cher Wang, who helped found HTC, has assumed the role of CEO. HTC is on the cusp of releasing its 2015 flagship smartphone, the One M9, which Becker played a large role in designing.
Sprint today said it will begin selling the HTC One M9 both online and in stores on Friday, March 27. Sprint is offering the device for $0 down followed by 24 monthly lease payments of $20. Customers who want to upgrade their device after 12 months can pay $10 more per month. Sprint leases require customers to turn in their device at the end of the leasing period, but they'll be able to lease a new phone with $0 down. For a limited time, customers who buy the One M9 from Sprint will be able to purchase a Harmon Kardon speaker for $99 (savings of $50). Sprint said it is still willing to pay all of potential customers' costs if they switch to Sprint from a competing carrier.
Verizon Wireless today released pricing and availability details of its variant of the HTC One M9. Verizon is opening up pre-orders for the device on April 1. The phone will reach Verizon's retail stores on April 10. Verizon is selling the M9 for $199.99 with a two-year contract or for $25 per month for 24 months with a Verizon Edge plan. The One M9 will launch with Verizon's Advanced Calling 1.0 capabilities, which enables HD Voice and Video Calling to other compatible Verizon smartphones over LTE. Activating this feature also lets Verizon customers talk and surf the web at the same time.
AT&T and T-Mobile today followed up HTC's announcement concerning One M9 pricing and availability with their own. AT&T will begin accepting pre-orders for the M9 at 12:01 AM tonight and will sell the device in stores April 10. The device will cost $199.99 with a two-year contract or $708.99 at full retail. Customers looking to pay over time can get the One M9 for $23.64 per month with Next 24, $29.55 with Next 18, or $35.45 with Next 12. AT&T is selling the 32GB model in silver or gray. T-Mobile plans to begin accepting pre-orders for the M9 at 6:00 AM Pacific Time on March 27 and will sell it in stores April 10. T-Mobile is offering it for $0 down followed by $27.08 per month for 24 months. T-Mobile will also sell the device at the full retail cost of $649.92. T-Mobile's version of the device will have WiFi calling. Both AT&T and T-Mobile will ship the One M9 as customers place orders, which means they'll likely arrive before the April 10 in-store availability date.
HTC will make the One M9 available for purchase on its web site beginning Friday, March 27 for $649. Carrier and major retailer sales of the device will kick off on or about April 10. HTC will be offering an unlocked version of the One M9, which supports the LTE networks operated by AT&T and T-Mobile, in addition to major carrier models. The company is offering a 12-month, interest-free payment option for customers who'd rather pay for the device over time. AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon plan to sell the phone and it will also be available from Amazon, Best Buy / Best Buy Mobile, Costco, and Target. The phone will be sold in gunmetal gray or two-tone gold/silver and in 32GB and 64GB models. The One M9 comes with Uh Oh protection, which will let owners get a free replacement device if theirs suffers a broken screen or water damage. The One M9 goes on sale via HTC's web site at 12:01AM Eastern Time. The phone features a 5-inch full HD screen, 20-megapixel main camera, Snapdragon 810 processor, BoomSound stereo speakers, and an all-aluminum chassis.
HTC today promoted Cher Wang, co-founder and chairman of HTC, to the CEO position. Wang is replacing long-time CEO Peter Chou, who is transitioning to a product development role. Wang has taken on more responsibility over the last two years as Chou focused more on creating devices. The company feels today's change is the next logical step in the progression it set in place several years ago. "We are seeing rapid changes in the industry, with the smartphone as our personal hub connecting us to a growing world of smart devices," said Wang. "We pioneered the smartphone industry; now we are applying that thinking to realize the potential of a new generation of connected products and services." The company debuted the RE camera last year, partnered with Under Armour earlier this year, announced a wearable, and showed off a virtual reality headset. "As an entrepreneur at heart, I am excited to see so many new opportunities [and] to help shape the next stage of HTC's development," concluded Wang. HTC said Peter Chou will continue to help the company find new growth opportunities.
HTC today said the One M9 will begin shipping April 10. U.S. carriers haven't said when their individual variants will go on sale, but they should offer the phone soon after the April 10 launch.
HTC today announced Uh Oh Protection for the One M9, a program that will provide owners with a free replacement device if the M9 is damaged. Uh Oh Protection comes with the M9 automatically; customers won't need to sign up for it, but it is limited to the U.S. Under the terms of the program, HTC will provide a free replacement phone if the M9 suffers a broken screen, water damage, or if the customer chooses to change wireless network operators. The one-time replacement is available during the first 12 months of ownership. M9 owners who do not take advantage of Uh Oh Protection at the end of 12 months will receive a $100 credit towards the purchase of a future HTC One handset. Uh Oh Protection is an offshoot of the HTC Advantage program, in which HTC offered free screen replacements for the One M8, One mini, and One max. The HTC One M9 is expected to go on sale in the U.S. soon.
Verizon Wireless is now pushing Android 5.0 Lollipop to the HTC One M8. In addition to the new operating system, the update enables Band 4 roaming and improves the three-way calling feature. Owners can download and install the update over the air.
The Car Connectivity Consortium today announced that the Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge, and the HTC One M9 support the MirrorLink standard for connecting to cars. MirrorLink is a platform-agnostic tool that allows smartphones to push apps and content to in-dash consoles. It competes with Google's Android Auto and Apple's CarPlay. With MirrorLink on board, the GS6, GS6 Edge, and One M9 will be able to connect to the infotainment systems of supported cars.
HTC’s flagship One phones are iconic and well-regarded. The already refined design has been refined further for 2015, representing a relatively modest update. While it looks very similar to last year’s M8 version, the new One M9 upgrades nearly everything. It packs in a kitchen sink worth of features, earning its flagship status easily. We take a look at what’s new in this hands-on preview.
HTC today announced the Grip fitness band in conjunction with Under Armour. The Grip is part of HTC's growing Re series of connected devices. The Grip is a rubber band with a curved white OLED display and GPS for tracking outdoor fitness activity. It links to Under Armour's UA Record app to log and analyze detailed workout data. The Grip also connects to phones to display notifications and control music. It includes a canned text message reply function, configurable from the phone app. The Grip works with both Android and iOS. It is available in three sizes and is rated IP57 for water resistance. It will be available in the U.S. this spring. HTC also announced the Vive, a high-end VR headset. As it must be tethered to a PC, it's HTC's first truly non-mobile product. HTC has partnered with Valve for content for the Vive.
HTC today announced the One M9, its latest flagship phone. It retains the 5-inch full-HD screen of last year's One, but upgrades most other features, including a 20-megapixel main camera with a sapphire lens and the ability to shoot 4K video. Downloadable camera plug-ins will include a RAW mode option. The front camera now uses an UltraPixel sensor, and the processor is an octa-core Snapdragon 810. Other specs include 3 GB of RAM, 32 GB of internal storage, a memory card slot, an IR port, and BoomSound dual front speakers. The battery is slightly larger. The design is similar to last year's One M8, including unibody metal construction with a curved back and fine brushed finish. The design has been tweaked with sharper rear corners, a smoother front, and a unique two-tone anodized finish in the silver/gold color option. It will also be available in a dark gunmetal grey, all gold, and pink. The One M9 starts shipping in Taiwan in mid-March, and will come to all four major U.S. carriers soon after.
We're live-blogging HTC's press conference in Barcelona at MWC 2015. Rumors abound of a new flagship One phone. Tune in to find out!
Apple was found guilty of infringing on three patents held by a company called Smartflash and must pay the firm $532.9 million. A federal jury in Texas reached the verdict Tuesday and said Apple violated the patents willfully. According to Smartflash, Apple's iTunes software uses its patented technology for storing and retrieving music, movies, and games. Apple was disappointed with the verdict and railed against Smartflash, which is a patent holding firm. "We refused to pay off this company for the ideas our employees spent years innovating and unfortunately we have been left with no choice but to take this fight up through the court system," said Apple in a statement provided to Reuters. Smartflash has filed similar lawsuits against Google, HTC, and Samsung.
HTC has pushed out an update to its Zoe photo sharing application with several new features on board. The app has a new engine for editing photos with themes, effects, and transitions. It allows users to download and save their Zoes to their camera roll. The Discovery Feed has been revamped and now highlights popular local content. Last, the app adds support for Android 5.0 Lollipop, and the Nexus 6 phone and Nexus 9 tablet in particular. HTC Zoe is free to download from the Google Play Store.
Sprint today began delivering the Android 5.0 Lollipop system update to the HTC One (M7) and Samsung Galaxy S5. The One gained new lock screen tools, a larger view of recent apps, and a search function within the settings menu. In addition to Lollipop, the GS5 was given a new user interface for the VoWiFi application. Sprint also removed the Lumen Toolbar application. The Android operating system update is free to download over WiFi.
Under Armour today announced that it has purchased both Endomondo and MyFitnessPal for $475 million. MyFitnessPal had just finished acquiring Endomondo for $85 million last month. All three companies provide fitness and health tracking tools through smartphone apps, online communities, and wearables. Under Armour said the acquisition increases its footprint to 120 million users around the world and "advances [its] mission to create the ultimate digital fitness community." Last month, Under Armour released an API for hooking its fitness community into wearables and smartphones. HTC said it would bring Under Armour-compatible gear to market later this year. Endomondo will continue to operate out of Copenhagen, Denmark, and MyFitnessPal will continue to operate out of San Francisco. Under Armour, based in Baltimore, expects the deal to close during the first quarter.
HTC today warned owners of its handsets that it likely won't meet its self-imposed 90-day deadline to deliver Lollipop to existing handsets. Several years ago, HTC promised customers it would update its handsets to the latest version of Android within 90 days of that vesion's general release. According to HTC, however, things aren't going so smoothly with Android 5.0 Lollipop. "We've been working hard in the labs with Google and our carrier partners ever since the code release and are making great progress so far, but if you've been following the progress of this rollout you will know that Google has had to address several issues with this release," said HTC in a blog post. "We've been diligently working to fix some of them on our end and incorporating Google's fixes as quickly as possible, but despite everyone's best efforts some carrier versions of the HTC One (M8) and HTC One (M7) will not meet our 90 day goal, which is February 1st." HTC concluded by saying it would prefer to deliver the update correctly rather than quickly. It said it will continue to provide updates as more information about Lollipop rollouts become available.
AT&T today released a minor system update for the HTC One (M8). The software, which can be downloaded and installed over the air, updates the phone to Android 4.4.4 KitKat and makes a handful of improvements. For example, the software enables HD Voice, adds copy-and-paste the camera, and adds AT&T's usage manager application. The update improves security, Bluetooth, and battery performance, and updates the AT&T Ready2Go and Visual Voicemail services. The software update is free. AT&T recommends users download the update via WiFi.
Virgin Mobile today announced a new plan available exclusively to Walmart customers that includes sharable data without contracts. The plans are available to four specific phones for between two an four lines per account. The two-line plan costs $65 per month and includes unlimited talk and text, and 4GB of shareable data. The three-line plan costs $90 per month and boosts shared data to 8GB. The four-line plan costs $115 per month and includes 12GB of shared data. Users can manage their shared data with Virgin Mobile's account application. Top-ups costs $10 per 1GB. The plan includes parental controls and low-cost international options. Virgin is also offering an add-on that provides unlimited monthly access to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pandora for $5 per month per line. Using these apps/services won't impact subscribers' monthly data allotments as long as they subscribe to the add-on plan. The four handsets capable of accessing the shared data service are the HTC Desire 510, LG Tribute, LG Volt, and Samsung Galaxy Core Prime. More devices will be compatible with the plan by the end of February. Virgin's new no-contract shared data plans will be available beginning Jan. 17. Last, Virgin announced two revised single-line plans. For $35 per month, Virgin customers get 300 voice minutes, unlimited messaging, and up to 2.5GB of high-speed of data. For $40 per month, users get unlimited voice and messaging, and up to 2.5GB of high-speed data.
HTC today confirmed it has made Android 5.0 Lollipop available to both the unlocked and developer editions of the One (M8) handset. In addition to all the new features added by Lollipop, the update makes changes to HTC's Sense 6 user interface. For example, the privacy features of the lock screen and notifications have been updated, the recent apps panel now supports multiple pages, and the search tool adds new functions. HTC said the system update should begin to roll out tonight.