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.
BlackBerry today announced that WhatsApp, the popular messaging application, is now available to BlackBerry 10 devices, such as the Z10. Similar to Apple's iMessage or Samsung's ChatOn, WhatsApp is an over-the-top messaging service that uses mobile data connections to pass messages back and forth to other users. It allows smartphone owners to cut down on potential carrier-based messaging fees. WhatsApp for BlackBerry 10 integrates with the native contact application and offers push notifications on the lock screen when new messages arrive. It is a cross-platform service, so BlackBerry 10 device owners will be able to use WhatsApp to chat with friends or family who use Android, iOS, or Windows Phone devices. The app is available for free from BlackBerry World.
Nokia has filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals overseeing one of the Apple v. Samsung patent cases. In particular, Nokia condemns a decision made in December by District Court Judge Lucy Koh that denied Apple's request to ban certain infringing products from being sold in the U.S. Apple appealed that decision, and Nokia's brief appears to support Apple's appeal. Nokia holds the position that product bans should be allowed in certain circumstances because they help "encourage innovation." Nokia has nothing to gain or lose directly in the Apple v. Samsung patent case, but believes the outcome will play a role in shaping other patent cases pending in the U.S. Last week, Judge Koh sliced the damages awarded to Apple from $1.05 billion to about $600 million, and mandated a new trial to more properly assess the damages. The new trial has yet to be scheduled.
Solavei today announced the availability of a nano SIM card that is compatible with the Apple iPhone 5. The card, which costs $9, is being offered with the same $49 service plan that Solavei offers to other devices. Solavei's low monthly fee includes unlimited voice, messaging, and data. iPhone 5 owners interested in Solavei's service will need to have an unlocked device. Unlocked iPhones can be purchased directly from Apple starting at $649 for the 16GB model. According to Solavei, it now offers full-size SIM cards, micro SIM cards, and nano SIM cards, which allows most any device to be used with its service. Solavei is an MVNO that uses T-Mobile USA's network. It cautions that high-speed HSPA+ service is only available to the iPhone 5 in select markets.
Samsung has bought a 3% stake in Sharp, one of its competitors, in order to widen is supply base, reports Reuters. Samsung's $110 million investment follows a $120 million investment made in Sharp by Qualcomm in December. Sharp has struggled in recent years, and needs the influx of cash. Sharp's most promising product is high-resolution indium gallium zinc oxide (IGZO) display screens, which are thinner and use dramatically less energy than the OLED displays Samsung currently favors in its mobile devices. Qualcomm also wants to work with Sharp to bring its IGZO displays to market, which would be ideal for smartphones and tablets. Last, Sharp is one of Apple's key suppliers, and this investment gives Samsung a stake in the company as Apple winds down its reliance on Samsung for components.
Google today announced that a new version of its Chrome browser is available to the Apple iPhone and iPad. The updated browser makes improvements to the Omnibox, which now shows recent searches in plain text instead of the search result URL. It is now easier to view the browsing history by pressing and holding the back button. Chrome users may also more easily send web pages via native iOS messaging apps thanks to new sharing features in Chrome. The update is available from the iTunes App Store. Google released a new version of Chrome for Android devices last week. That update focused on speed improvements.
Judge Lucy Koh today issued an order that vacated approximately $450 million from the $1.05 billion in damages awarded by a jury to Apple last summer. The original case found Samsung guilty of infringing a number of Apple patents. After examining the process the jury used to determine the damages, the judge determined the jury made several mistakes and that a new trial is necessary to adjust the damages for a total of 14 products. The new trial over damages will likely need a new jury, and may or may not result in higher or lower damages than the $450 million initially assigned. In the mean time, the judge said Apple is still entitled to $598.9 million in damages from Samsung. A timeframe for this new trial has not yet been set.
Google has rolled out a new version of its YouTube application for the Apple iPhone and iPad. The revised video app now lets iPhone and iPad owners send the YouTube video from their phone or tablet to Google TV-compatible gear, such as an XBox or PS3. The new feature mimics that of Apple's AirPlay, which can push on-device media to the Apple TV (and TV to which the Apple TV is connected). The new YouTube app also improves stability of streams over Wi-Fi and makes a number of small performance improvements. YouTube for the iPhone and iPad is a free download from the iTunes App Store.
A Texas judge has upheld a $368 million verdict won against Apple over technology related to FaceTime. In November, Apple was found guilty of violating four patents held by a company called VirnetX. VirnetX alleged Apple's FaceTime app, which lets iOS devices conduct real-time, two-way video chats, infringes on its intellectual property. VirnetX's patents specifically cover "the use of a domain-name service to set up virtual private networks." Under VirnetX's patent, the VPNs are then used by corporations to communicate with customers or employees. The Texas jury awarded VirnetX $368 million in damages. Apple requested the damages to be reduced, and VirnetX request an injunction against all of Apple's infringing product. The judge shot down both requests and instead ordered the two companies to work out a licensing agreement within 45 days. Apple will have to pay VirnetX $330,211 per day until the licensing agreement is forged. VirnetX has similar legal action pending against Avaya, Cisco, and Siemens Enterprise Communications.
Adobe today announced that Photoshop Touch is now available to smartphones. The photo-editing app was previously only available to tablets. The app works on the Apple iPhone and devices running Android. It carries forward many of the same features from the tablet version, and lets users edit photos, paste separate images together, as well as access 2GB of online storage. Photoshop Touch costs $4.99 and is available from the iTunes App Store and Google Play Store. For the iPhone, it requires iOS 5 and either the iPhone 4S or iPhone 5. For Android, it requires Android 4.0 and up.
Visa today announced that it has signed an agreement with Samsung to help speed up the deployment and availability of mobile payment systems. According to Visa, individual banking institutions that want to offer mobile payment apps can use its Visa Mobile Provisioning Service to provide the back-end tunnel though which payments can be made. At the same time, Samsung has agreed to install the Visa payWave applet onto its mobile devices. The applet can be used with Visa's software and handset-based NFC technology to piece together a complete mobile payment solution. Visa and Samsung have agreed to an ongoing mobile payment alliance, and expect to roll out devices with these features in the near future.
Google recently updated the Google Maps SDK for iOS. The update does two things. First, it adds several features and gives developers the ability to add things such as ground overlays, gesture control, and geodesic polylines to their own apps. Second, Google made the SDK freely available to any developer who wants it. The original Google Maps for iOS SDK was made available in December, but required developers to register and wait for approval to use it. The new SDK can be downloaded from Google's developer portal immediately. The SDK lets third-party app developers embed Google Maps within their own applications. Prior to the availability of the Google Maps SDK, developers were stuck using Apple Maps for their apps.
The U.S. International Trade Commission indicated recently that its six-member panel will review an initial ruling that exonerated Apple from infringing on a Motorola patent. In December, ITC Administrative Law Judge Thomas Pender invalidated a Motorola patent pertaining to proximity sensors, and dismissed several claims made by Motorola against Apple. After hearing arguments from Motorola, the ITC has agreed to review the patent in question. It will make a final ruling on the matter in April. The ITC has the power to block devices that infringe on patents from entering the U.S., and is a popular venue for technology companies to air grievances.
Apple today made the iOS 6.1.2 system update available. This update resolves a calendar bug that caused problems between iOS devices and Microsoft Exchange servers. The update can be downloaded and installed over the air.
Apple indicated via its support pages that a fix is planned for a bug affecting Exchange ActiveSync performance on iOS devices. The bug manifests in the calendar and can cause iOS devices to communicate with Exchange servers excessively, draining the battery and gumming up Microsoft's servers. "Apple has identified a fix and will make it available in an upcoming software update," said the company. There are workarounds to the bug detailed on Apple's support pages, though the simplest fix is for iOS device users to refrain from responding to recurring events in the calendar app. The bug was introduced when Apple released iOS 6.1 earlier this year. Separately, Apple released an update to its iMovie application for iOS devices. The updated video-composing software resolves a number of bugs and improves stability.
Opera Software today announced that it plans to gradually transition its desktop and mobile browsers to the WebKit standard, which is same used by Apple's Safari browser and Google's Chrome browser. Opera's desktop and mobile browsers use the company's own Presto rendering engine. WebKit is a widely used standard on mobile devices. Opera is making the transition so that it can offer a competitive alternative browser for Android and iOS devices. Opera said that it will preview its WebKit-based browser on Android devices later this month, but did not commit to a timeframe for releasing new Android and iOS browsers.