AT&T would like to strike more Wi-Fi roaming agreements with its international peers. Bill Hague, AT&T's executive vice president of international affairs, said that such agreements would benefit not only consumers, but the network operators, too. "Roaming agreements will increase revenue for everyone, and far more than anyone could do individually," said Hague while speaking at the Wi-Fi Globall Congress this week. "In much the same way as GSMA standardization secured its international success, so we need to do the same with Wi-Fi." Specifically, AT&T is looking at the Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA) and its Passpoint program, which will allow cell phone users roam from cell network to Wi-Fi hotspots seamlessly, even in other countries. Passpoint and the Next Generation Hotspot (Hotspot 2.0) programs require that devices be certifed by the WBA, since a big piece of the puzzle is authentication of the user between the various networks. The standards are still in progress and the industry has yet to settle on one. Apple's recently-announced iOS 7 includes support for Hotspot 2.0, as does the Samsung Galaxy S4. The initiative is expected to go live for consumers early next year.
MetroPCS today launched a new bring-your-own-device offering in several cities, with plans to expand the service later. MetroPCS is now allowing people with GSM-based Android smartphones and select versions of the Apple iPhone to bring their unlocked device into MetroPCS stores and sign up for MetroPCS service. Though the customers will be billed by MetroPCS, their device will actually run on T-Mobile's GSM-based network and not MetroPCS's CDMA-based network. The offering is first available in Boston, Dallas, Hartford, and Las Vegas. MetroPCS didn't say when the program might be expanded. T-Mobile USA acquired MetroPCS earlier this year and said it planned to transition new and existing MetroPCS customers from Metro's CDMA network to its own GSM network.
Apple today said that iOS 7 will work on many of its newer iOS products, including the iPhone 4, 4S, and 5; the iPad 2 and later; the iPad Mini; and the fifth-generation iPod Touch. It will be available this fall.
Apple today announced iRadio, a new music-streaming application for iOS 7 devices. It hooks into Twitter, iTunes Radio, and will create and stream radio stations, as well as share the radio stations and add them to lists of favorites. The music app provides hundreds of pre-built radio stations, but users can easily create their own on the fly. Songs can be added or deleted from wishlists and playlists. The service lets users preview and buy tracks from the radio service, as well. iTunes Radio is built into iOS, iTunes on the desktop, and Apple TV. It is free to use with advertising, and ad-free for those who subscribe to iTunes Match.
Apple today detailed iOS 7 for the iPhone and iPad. The new platform, which has a new user interface, includes many new features and capabilities. The lock screen has been been given an updated appearance, as has the weather app with new animations and a new view of multiple cities at one time. The calendar app is better at scrolling and landscape support. The OS has a new swiping gesture that brings back the previous screen. Game Center supports multiple pages of games within folders. Notification Center is now visible from the lock screen, and the today screen shows more detail about the day, including transit times. Control Center offers faster access to wireless radios and is available from any part of the UI. Multitasking now works across all apps within iOS, and iOS 7 introduces a new multitasking screen. Multitasking uses intelligent scheduling, opportunistic updates, and adapts to network conditions to fetch background data when apps aren't being used to conserve battery life. The Safari browser adds iCloud keychain, smart search, shared links, reading lists, and better tab support. Many of these changes are available in the desktop version of Safari, as well. iOS 7 adds support for AirDrop, which can be used to share files with others nearby via peer-to-peer Wi-Fi. The camera sees a number of improvements, and allows people to swipe from camera mode to camera mode, such as from standard to panorama. The Photos app also sees an update, and will help organize photos by putting them into "moments" based on date and location. It also adds a number of filters and editing tools, as well as more advanced sharing capabilities. Siri has been updated to respond to more natural language requests, and can do things like play voicemails or open Twitter. iOS 7 brings with it car integration with a number of 2014 models by a handful of manufacturers, and will show up on the car's in-dash system. It also offers a new version of the App Store, which improves app discovery, such as the ability to see apps that are local, and adds automatic app updates. Other new features include a new activation lock for stolen phones, night mode within Maps, FaceTime audio for high-quality calls, notification sync across devices, message/phone blocking, and better business support.
Apple today revealed the next version of its mobile operating system for the iPhone and iPad, called iOS 7. Apple has redesigned the user interace of the OS to make it more modern. Apple called it the "biggest change to iOS since the introduction of the iPhone." iOS 7 uses new icons, new fonts, and a new palette of colors to change the look of the home screen and applications. It uses distinct colors and translucency within separate planes and spaces. It uses parallax to create the appearance of depth. It is what Apple CEO Tim Cook called a "major effort" between the design and engineering teams.
AT&T today announced a new application that delivers push-to-talk walkie-talkie functionality to the Apple iPhone 5 and iPhone 4S. According to AT&T, the application supports large contact lists and talk groups, allows businesses to combine PTT services with enterprise mobile applications, and provides businesses with supervisory override so they can communicate with all PTT-enabled devices at the same time. AT&T claims that calls can be setup in less than one second. In addition to the new iPhone app, AT&T announced that its Enhanced Push-to-Talk service can now be used over Wi-Fi networks as well as its cellular network. This is the first time that PTT has been available on the iPhone from a U.S. carrier.
Officials from the cities of New York and San Francisco today announced that they plan to meet with leading makers of smartphones later this month to discuss how to curb cell phone thefts. According to San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon, 1.6 million cell phones are stolen each year from Americans. The city officials will meet with Apple, Google, Samsung, and Microsoft on June 13, when they intend to enlist the companies' help by asking them to devise ways to quickly deactivate stolen devices so they will no longer work. U.S. network operators have already created a registry of stolen cell phones together with the Federal Communications Commission that is used to prevent them from accessing network services. Last month, New York Senator Charles Schumer reintroduced a bill that would make it illegal for people to alter the IMEI or other identifying numbers of devices. All these steps have been taken in an effort to reduce thefts and robberies of cell phones by drying up the secondary market for the stolen goods.
The U.S. International Trade Commission today ruled that Apple has violated a standard-essential patent regarding 3G technology owned by Samsung. Per Samsung's request, the ITC voted in favor of banning some Apple products, including the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, and 3G versions of the original iPad and iPad 2. Apple may appeal the decision with federal courts or ask the White House for a reprieve. Neither company offered a statement on the ruling.
Google recently made the newest version of Gmail available to devices running its own Android platform as well as Apple's iOS platform. The new version of Gmail, announced in May, adds tabs to the inbox to help Gmail users better organize their email. The new version of Gmail also offers more customizable notifications. The changes to the mobile apps reflect those made to the browser-based desktop version.
Twitter today made available a version of its Vine video-sharing application for devices running Google's Android platform. Until today, the app and service have been exclusive to Apple's iPhone. Vine lets users create short, 6-second videos that can then be embedded in Tweets, posted on Facebook, or otherwise shared across the web. The videos play automatically and loop continuously. The Android version has one feature that the iPhone does not: the ability to zoom in. However, it ships without some features that the iPhone app has, such as the ability to access the user-facing camera. Twitter said that it will update Vine quickly over the following weeks to bring the Android version into parity with the iPhone version. Vine is free to download from the Google Play Store.
Google today announced that it will bring its Google Music service to the Apple iPhone in about one month. Google Music was recently updated to include a subscription service. Before now, it has been reserved for Google's Android-based devices. This will be the first time Google Music has come to the iPhone through a Google-made app. The subscription service costs $10 per month and allows users to create and listen to streamed radio stations.
The U.S. International Trade Commission today indicated that its full panel will review two decisions made earlier this year by a judge regarding the on-going patent spats between Apple and Samsung. In particular, the ITC will look at one decision that found Samsung guilty of infringing on an Apple patent that pertains to selecting text, an a second decision that found Samsung innocent of infringing on an Apple patent that pertains to detecting microphones. Cases overseen by the ITC typically include an initial ruling made by a single administrative law judge which is then reviewed by the full ITC panel. The panel expects to make a final ruling over these matters on August 1.
Google today made a new version of Google+ available to iOS devices, such as the Apple iPhone. Many of the new features are carried over from the recently-revised Android version of the Google+ app. Google+ 4.4.0 for iOS includes a number of improvements to the photos portion of the service. It offers a new auto-enhance tool for improving uploaded images. Google+ will assemble collections of photo highlights and the app is now better at sharing GIFs and panoramas. It is easier to find content through the use of hashtags, and Google+ now lets users adjust more facets of their profile from within the app. Google+ adds support for strikethrough text and the ability to edit comments. Last, the Hangouts feature is no longer available within the app (Hangouts is available separately). Google+ 4.4.0 for iOS is a free download from the iTunes App Store.
Mozilla and Hon Hai Precision Industry, better known as Foxconn, confirmed that the two companies will soon launch a mobile device. Mozilla distributed invitations to a press event scheduled for June 3, which is when the two companies are expected to more formally announce their partnership alongside the new device. The device will run Mozilla's Firefox OS, which Mozilla has been developing as an alternative for hardware makers looking to offer something other than Android gear. Mozilla has already scored other hardware partnerships with LG, Huawei, and ZTE. Foxconn is most well known for being the manufacturer of Apple's products.
Verizon Wireless today made Verizon Cloud, its backup and storage service, available to the Apple iPhone. Verizon Cloud lets customers sync their smartphones and tablets to Verizon's servers. It offers 500MB of storage for free, and up to 125GB of storage for $9.99 per month. Verizon says the free option should be enough to backup settings, calls, messages, and contacts. Verizon Cloud was made available to Android devices last month. The application is free to download from the iTunes App Store.
Google continues to make small improvements to its Chrome browser for the Android platform and today it was updated to version 27. The latest stable release changes the search omnibox to show the search terms rather than the search URL, and makes it easier to jump to other searches in the search history. The app now also allows for full-screen browsing. Last, Google says the browser loads pages 5% faster. Google said that a new version of Chrome will soon be available to Apple's iPhone and iPad, and will bring with it voice search tools built into the browser. Google also updated the Google Play Magazines application and gave it a brand new user interface for the magazine library. Both Chrome and Play Magazines for Android are free to download from the Google Play Store.
Google today announced its gaming service to compete with Apple's Game Center for iOS. The new Google Play Game Services enables games to save game progress to the cloud, and easily enables multi-player gaming. The service also includes achievements and leaderboards both globally and among friends in Google+ Circles. Cloud save, achievements and leaderboards work cross-platform, across Android, iOS, and the web.
T-Mobile today confirmed a report that originally appeared in TMoNews.com suggesting that the company had raised the price of the Apple iPhone 5. During the first month of availability, T-Mobile sold the iPhone 5 for a down payment of just $99, followed by 24 monthly payments of $20 each. Apparently, this was a promotional rate."As America's Un-carrier, T-Mobile is committed to introducing the hottest new smartphones at unbeatable promotional prices--but we all know promotions are temporary," the company said in a statement to FierceWireless. "The great news here is that well-qualified customers, on approved credit, can still buy (16GB) iPhone 5 from T-Mobile for $149.99 down starting Monday, May 13." Now that the iPhone has been available for more than 30 days, T-Mobile is charging a higher down payment price, though the monthly payments remain unchanged.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Paul S. Grewal in San Jose ordered Google to disclose to Apple the search terms it is using to discover documents requested as part of Apple's lawsuit against Samsung. Apple had requested the terms earlier this week and Google balked, suggesting that the information could give Apple an advantage in the future. "The court cannot help but note the irony that Google, a pioneer in searching the Internet, is arguing that it would be unduly burdened by producing a list of how it searched its own files," said Judge Grewal. Google has two days to disclose the search terms to Apple. Apple believes that Google's Android operating system provides the "underlying functionality" in a number of Samsung smartphones that Apple alleges are infringing on its patents.
Aio Wireless, a subsidiary of AT&T, today launched its new, no-contract wireless service in the U.S. The wireless network is first available in Houston, Orlando, and Tampa, and will gradually expand across AT&T's footprint around the U.S. over the course of the next year. Aio offers unlimited talk, text, and data plans that range from $35 to $70 per month to feature phones, smartphones, and tablets. Data speeds will max out at 4Mbps over AT&T's HSPA+ 4G network. In addition to the handsets it sells, Aio will also provide service to people who bring in their own, unlocked devices. One of the first devices offered by Aio is the Nokia Lumia 620 (pictured). The Lumia 620 is a Windows Phone 8 smartphone that has a 3.8-inch screen, 5-megapixel camera with 720p HD video record, and Nokia-exclusive applications. It costs $179.99 and does not require that customers sign a contract. Aio offers a handful of other smartphones, including the Samsung Galaxy Express for $249.99, the Samsung Galaxy Amp for $99.99, the ZTE Prelude for $49.99, and the Apple iPhone 4/4S for prices ranging between $349.99 for refurbished models to $499.99 for new models. Feature phones offered by Aio include the Samsung Denim for $29.99 and the ZTE Atair for $49.99. Aio hopes to compete with other prepaid brands, such as Sprint's Virgin Mobile and T-Mobile's Ultra Mobile.
Apple has asked the judge overseeing one of its patent-related lawsuits against Samsung to provide it with access to the Android source code from Google. According to Apple, Android "provides much of the accused functionality" in Samsung's infringing products. Apple believes it should have access to that data in order to separate which company's software provides which functions in Samsung's smartphones. Google says that Apple made a strategic decision to leave Google out of this particular lawsuit. As a third party, Google isn't entitled to the same protections that Samsung is. Google thinks providing this info to Apple would provide for future discovery and other details that it wouldn't normally receive. The judge has yet to make a decision on the matter.
Qualcomm announced that it has elected Jon Rubinstein to its board of directors. Prior to joining Qualcomm's board, Rubinstein served as CEO of Palm and helped develop webOS and products such as the Palm Pre, Pixi, and Veer. Before leading Palm, Rubinstein worked for Apple on its iPod products. He has extensive experience in the mobile device and wireless industries. "His experience in creating revolutionary consumer electronics and mobile products will provide added insight to Qualcomm's board as we continue to expand the scope and impact of wireless products and technology, improving and enhancing people's lives around the world," said Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs. Qualcomm makes processors, baseband radios, modems, and other components for smartphones, tablets, and wireless devices.
The European Commission today published the preliminary results of an antitrust investigation against Google's Motorola Mobility unit and found the company went too far. Motorola sought to block Apple from selling certain products in Germany by claiming Apple infringed on its standard essential patents. Apple argued that Motorola was seeking unfair terms for its patents, and eventually European courts agreed with Apple. Motorola's actions, however, sparked an investigation into its patent licensing practices and that is what led the European Commission to today's findings. "I think that companies should spend their time innovating and competing on the merits of the products they offer - not misusing their intellectual property rights to hold up competitors to the detriment of innovation and consumer choice," said European Union competition commissioner Joaquín Almunia. The findings could lead to formal antitrust charges against Motorola, but the European Commission has yet to say what steps it will follow next.
U.S. Cellular may soon offer its customers the Apple iPhone, according to CEO Mary Dillon. Dillon was coy about actually naming the iPhone, but said the company will sell "Apple products later this year." U.S. Cellular is one of the few major carriers that doesn't offer the iPhone. "By further strengthening our device portfolio, we'll give consumers another great reason to switch to U.S. Cellular, and enable our existing customers to choose from an even wider variety of iconic smartphones, and enjoy the outstanding U.S. Cellular customer experiences they deserve," said Dillon. Dillon did not provide any more specifics about its plans. U.S. Cellular offers CDMA-based 3G service and has its own LTE 4G network in the 700 and 1700MHz bands. The company also reported earnings today and outlined its network plans moving forward. It expects to cover 87% of its existing 3G base with LTE 4G by the end of the year, which will include some 3,800 cities and towns in Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin. The company lost 51,000 customers during the most recent quarter and now claims to have 5.73 million subscribers.
Apple has made iOS 6.1.4 available to the iPhone 5. The changelog only references an updated audio profile for the speaker. The update is free to download and install over-the-air.
U.S District Court Judge Lucy Koh has set new dates for the on-going Apple-Samsung patent trial. Earlier this year, Koh slashed the jury's $1.05 billion award to Apple by about $450 million, saying that the jury had miscalculated the actual damages in the case last August. Koh ordered a new trial, now scheduled to take place beginning November 12, to determine the actual damages pertaining to 14 different Samsung devices. Koh also reinstated $40.5 million of the original damages awarded to Apple regarding the AT&T version of the Galaxy S II. Samsung is still on the hook for $599 million in damages from the other devices found by a jury last summer to copy and/or infringe on Apple's designs and patents.
The U.S International Trade Commission today upheld an initial ruling that determined a patent held by Motorola pertaining to proximity sensors used in cell phones to be invalid. The decision means Apple is free of guilt in the case brought against it by Motorola, which accused the iPhone maker of violating said patent. This particular patent was the last in a long series brought against Apple by Motorola. The ITC dismissed the case.
Yahoo today unwrapped a brand new weather application for the Apple iPhone. Yahoo already provides the data used by Apple for the native iPhone weather application, but this new app is separate. Yahoo Weather for iPhone offers a richer user experience thanks to location-specific photography and more granular data about current weather conditions and forecasts. It is free to download from the iTunes App Store. Yahoo also debuted a new version of its Yahoo Mail application for Android tablets and the iPad. The new Yahoo Mail app for tablets carries over many of the design elements brought to the iPhone and Android smartphone versions of Yahoo Mail that were released late last year. The tablet email apps focus on the reading experience by emphasizing the text and content of the message rather than the surrounding app. Yahoo Mail is free to download from the iTunes App Store and Google Play Store.
Facebook is releasing a major update today to its app for Apple's iOS. The update brings limited support for Chat Heads, one of the key features of the company's new Facebook Home software for Android-based phones. Chat Heads surface incoming messages in a unique visual style that floats above the rest of the interface. On an Android phone running Facebook Home, Chat Heads appear over almost any running app. In the new iOS app, the user must be within the Facebook app for Chat Heads to appear, due to the more restrictive nature of iOS. The update will also update the visual style of News Feed to match recent updates on other platforms.
A U.S International Trade Commission administrate law judge has ruled that Samsung violated an Apple patent pertaining to text selection on its Galaxy and Nexus-branded smartphones and tablets. The initial ruling, made by a single judge, must now be approved by the entire ITC panel before any action can be taken. If the initial ruling is upheld, the ITC may ban Samsung from importing the infringing devices into the U.S. A final decision on this particular case is expected in August. The two companies have other patent decisions pending within the ITC system, which has become a popular venue for patent litigation.
T-Mobile's version of the iPhone 5 has the same model number (A1428) as the one sold by AT&T, yet has unique tweaks that make it compatible with T-Mobile's WCDMA/HSPA+ network in the 1700 MHz AWS band. Unlocked A1428 iPhone 5s sold by AT&T and Apple will be able to work with T-Mobile's LTE 1700 and WCDMA/HSPA+ 1900 networks with a minor software update, but will never work with T-Mobile's WCDMA/HSPA+ 1700 network, according to an Apple product manager at today's T-Mobile event. That means only iPhone 5s sold by T-Mobile will have full high-speed data coverage from day one. Unlocked iPhone 5s used with T-Mobile will have limited high-speed data coverage at first, improving as T-Mobile makes progress with its network modernization this year.
T-Mobile USA today revealed that it will offer customers the Apple iPhone 5, 4S, and 4. Preorders for the iPhone 5 begin April 5, and the device will be in stores April 12. The Apple iPhone 4S and 4 will be available in select markets later. The iPhone 5, for example, will require a $100 downpayment, with $20 monthly installments added to the customer's bill. The customer can also choose to pay full price for the device. The iPhone 4S will require a $70 downpayment and $20 in monthly payments, and the iPhone 4 will require a $15 downpayment and $15 in monthly payments. According to T-Mobile, Apple customized the iPhone 5 for T-Mobile's network. It supports T-Mobile's LTE network, in addition to HSPA+ in the 1700 and 1900 MHz spectrum. T-Mobile is also the only U.S. carrier to support the iPhone 5's wideband audio capability, which T-Mobile calls HD Voice. The iPhone 4S and iPhone 4 will not be customized for T-Mobile's LTE network, but can access its HSPA+ service in the 1900MHz band.
Apple has acquired a small company, called WifiSLAM, that provides indoor location services. The company created a way for mobile applications to use Wi-Fi networks to pinpoint the location of any given phone. WifiSLAM offers its technology to application developers. Apple confirmed the acquisition to The Wall Street Journal, but didn't provide any details about the deal. The Journal says Apple paid about $20 million for WifiSLAM, which has a handful of employees, some of whom are former Googlers. Apple buys small companies from time to time.
Apple recently indicated via its developer portal that it will no longer accept new apps or app updates that access UDIDs. The UDID (unique device identifier) is a code that refers to each iOS device and can be tied back to the owner's identity. The UDID was originally accessed by advertisers in their apps, but Apple began restricting access to UDIDs in 2011. It replaced the functionality of the UDID with anonymous Vendor and Advertising identifiers when it introduced iOS 6 in 2012. Beginning May 1, any app that attempts to access UDIDs won't be allowed. The measure is being taken to improve the privacy of iOS device owners. Apple is also mandating that all apps submitted to the App Store support Retina Displays, and the iPhone 5's 4-inch display. Apps not optimized for the iPhone 5's display float in the middle of the screen with black bars above and below the app. This policy change also goes into effect May 1.
Apple today released a minor software update for iOS devices. iOS version 6.1.3 fixes a bug that could allow someone to bypass the passcode to access the phone. The update also improves Apple Maps' performance in Japan. The update is available to download and install over the air. It is recommended for all users.
THX has filed a lawsuit against Apple that claims the iPhone maker is violating its intellectual property. According to the complaint, THX holds a patent granted in 2008 for "narrow profile speaker configuration and systems" that pertains to boosting audio output in small speaker designs. THX says the iPhone 4, 4S, and 5, as well as all iPads and newer iMacs violate this patent. THX is seeking damages for lost royalties/sales and a fair licensing agreement for its technology moving forward. THX Ltd. was formerly part of Lucasfilm, founded by George Lucas of Star Wars fame. The company was spun off as an independent entity in 2002.
T-Mobile has provided an update concerning the markets in which it offers UMTS service in its 1900MHz spectrum. T-Mobile told PCMag that 49 markets around the country, including the nation's five largest cities (New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, and Philadelphia) now have access to the speedier data service. The number of POPs covered in the 49 markets totals 142 million. T-Mobile has been turning off EDGE service on its 1900MHz spectrum in favor of faster UMTS. It is doing this to align its main 3G network with AT&T's, which uses the same spectrum. This will allow many devices, such as the Apple iPhone, to use either AT&T or T-Mobile's 3G networks. The refarming efforts also open up T-Mobile's 1700MHz AWS spectrum for its forthcoming LTE network.
The U.S. International Trade Commission has delayed making a final decision regarding a patent claim by Samsung against Apple that could lead to a ban on the import of iPhones and iPads. The ITC was set to make a ruling on the matter March 13, but instead pushed the decision to May 31 in order to fully explore how a product ban would impact the U.S. economy. The ITC is also looking at possible licensing deals between the two companies and whether or not they may be able to resolve the claim on fair terms. The claim revolves around a single patent that pertains to how data is transmitted and received by smartphones.
Alltel recently announced that the Apple iPhone 5, 4S, and 4 will be available beginning March 15. The iPhone 5 costs $149, $249, and $349 for the 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB variants, respectively. The 4S costs $49 and the 4 costs $0.99.