Microsoft has agreed to invest an unknown dollar figure in Cyanogen, which offers a version of Android devoid of Google's strictures. Cyanogen recently raised $70 million in funding, of which Microsoft is playing a minority role say sources cited by the Wall Street Journal. Neither Microsoft nor Cyanogen commented on Microsoft's involvement with the Android software maker, but Cyanogen has big goals. Last week, Cyanogen CEO Kirt McMaster said, "We're going to take Android away from Google." Cyanogen is working with handset makers to have its version of Android preinstalled on devices rather than Google's. It has succeeded with Micromax in India and is working to win over others. Google may offer Android to OEMs for free, but the search giant places strict requirements for handset makers to access the Play Store and other Google services. Cyanogen claims 50 million people have installed its variant of Android on devices, most of whom are enthusiast users who root their device and sideload the operating system.
Microsoft today released an Outlook email application for Android and iOS devices, including smartphones and tablets. The app is based on the code from Acompli, a company Microsoft acquired last year. With Outlook for Android and iOS, users can manage their work and personal email. It supports Office 365, Exchange, Outlook.com, Yahoo! Mail, Gmail, and other email services. Users can personalize their experience with customizable swipes and actions. The Outlook email app also offers native calendar integration to make scheduling and managing a calendar easy. Outlook for Android and iOS is free to download from the Play Store and iTunes App Store, respectively. The Android version of Outlook is being offered as a preview for the time being. In other Microsoft news, the company stripped the preview tag from its Office for Android suite of apps. Android tablet owners can now download Word, Excel, and PowerPoint from the Play Store and access a basic set of document creation and editing features with their Microsoft account. Advanced features require an Office 365 subscription.
Microsoft today pushed out a relatively big update to its OneDrive application for iOS devices. Most significantly, OneDrive for iOS allows people to sign into both their personal and business OneDrive accounts, open/organize their business files, and save new files to their business account. The app improves how it handles photos. For example, users can create photo albums that let them view photos in one folder or album without moving the actual image files. It also now supports tags, such as "plant" or "animal" automatically thanks object recognition. OneDrive for iOS also boasts a new design, integration with third-party password managers (1Password, LastPass, etc.), improves search and text recognition, resolves audio playback issues, and addresses several other bugs. OneDrive is free to download from the iTunes App Store.
Twitter has added a feature to its Android and iOS mobile apps, as well as Twitter.com and TweetDeck, that will let users translate foreign-language tweets. Microsoft's Bing Translator is providing the machine-based translations. In order to see translated Tweets, users need to turn the feature on in their online account settings. Once enabled, a globe icon will appear with foreign-language tweets. Users can click the globe and see both the translation and the original text. Twitter said Bing Translator can work with 40 different languages, though it warned the system is not perfect. Tweet Translator is available immediately.
Dropbox has released an app for the Windows Phone platform for the first time. The app gives Windows Phone owners 2GB of free cloud storage for saving documents, files, and photos. Users can easily share their files by sending a link to others. Dropbox competes with Microsoft's own OneDrive. Users can pay to upgrade their storage to higher amounts, but the base app is free. Dropbox is already available to Android, iOS, and desktop platforms.
Microsoft today offered an early first look at its forthcoming Windows 10 operating system, which will run on PCs, tablets, and phones. Microsoft said it is taking a new, more user-centric approach with Windows 10. It is incorporating the feedback it received about Windows 8/8.1 and is making sure to add user-requested features, such as the old Start menu. The company now views Windows more as a service and it will provide continual updates. Microsoft said Windows 10 will be a free upgrade during its first year of availability, for example, to all devices running Windows 7, Windows 8.1, and Windows Phone 8.1. Windows 10 for PCs and tablets will gain features from Windows Phone, including the Action Center and Cortana, Microsoft's voice-activated personal assistant. Windows devices with screens 8 inches and larger will include the "desktop experience." Smaller devices will have an altered experience more suited for phones. A rough build of the phone-centric version of Windows 10 features a revised settings menu that has new graphics. Windows 10 also allows users to move the keyboard around on the screen if they so wish. The entire Windows 10 platform will include Skype more firmly entrenched across apps. Further, full versions of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint that closely match the desktop variants will be included in Windows Phone 10. All Windows 10 devices will have a new Outlook client, which has been revised with the Word engine. Other major app re-writes include the calendar, photo gallery, and Internet Explorer, which is based on Project Spartan, a complete overhaul of the browser. Last, the entire platform will more broadly support Xbox gaming, including PC-to-Xbox play. Microsoft said the first preview of Windows 10 for phones will be available to "insiders" beginning in February.
Facebook plans to add voice-to-text transcription to its Facebook Messenger application, said David Marcus, Facebook's vice president of messaging products. Speaking to the Wall Street Journal, Marcus said the company is already testing the system using machine-to-machine learning, though he declined to say when the feature might be added to the app. Facebook expects the feature to be popular across Asia and other regions where typing various languages on mobile devices is more of a chore. Apple, Google, and Microsoft already provide their own voice-to-text services, which are built into the iOS, Android, and Windows Phone operating systems, respectively. Marcus didn't say how Facebook's transcription service will differ from what's already available to consumers. Marcus said 500 million people use Messenger monthly and it hopes to grow that number to 1 billion. Marcus indicated Facebook is exploring ways to monetize Messenger, but the company wants to avoid advertising. Facebook also owns WhatsApp and Instagram, which have 700 million and 300 million monthly users, respectively. Facebook said it will monetize Messenger before WhatsApp. Facebook has an "ambitious" roadmap for Messenger, and will add other features over the course of the year.
Microsoft today made good on a promise it made last month and began to distribute the Lumia Denim system update to devices running Windows Phone 8.1. The Denim update adds live folders, improves the Internet Explorer browser, adds SMS merging, and makes vast improvements to the imaging tools. More specifically, the Lumia Icon, 1520, 930, and 830 will also get an updated Lumia Camera. The update is being rolled out to specific devices in phases. Most Lumia phones running Windows Phone 8.1 will eventually have access to the Denim system update, but U.S. carriers haven't said when they'll push the update to their Windows Phone lineups.
Microsoft today announced the Lumia 532 and Lumia 435, two entry-level Windows Phones. Both devices run Windows Phone 8.1 with the Lumia Denim update and include core software features such as Microsoft Office, Skype, OneDrive, HERE Maps, and Cortana. Shared hardware features include 4-inch WVGA displays, 1GB of RAM, 8GB of storage, 1,560mAh batteries, and support for memory cards up to 128GB.
- Lumia 532: This handset (pictured) has a 1.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon processor, a 5-megapixel main camera, and a VGA user-facing camera. It costs about $93.
- Lumia 435: The 435 is Microsoft's least-expensive Lumia device ever at just $81. It has a 1.2GHz dual-core Snapdragon 200 processor, 2-megapixel main camera, and VGA user-facing camera.
Microsoft today expanded the availability of its Office productivity to suite to more Android tablets. Microsoft said all ARM-based Android tablets running KitKat or Lollipop with screens between 7.0 and 10.1 inches can run Office. The company made Word, Excel, and PowerPoint available for free in the Play Store. People interested in the apps can download them without joining a waitlist or registering for access. Microsoft warned the apps are in a preview status and users may encounter bugs. Microsoft hopes early adopters will offer constructive feedback to it can improve the apps for all users. Microsoft already offers Office to Android smartphones, as well as the iPhone and iPad.
Microsoft today revealed the Nokia 215, a $29 feature phone meant to help more people get online for the first time. The bar-style phone has a 2.4-inch screen and a numeric keypad. It runs the Series 30+ platform and includes apps such as Facebook, Messenger, Twitter, Opera Mini, Bing Search, music player, and MSN Weather. Hardware features include a flashlight, VGA camera, an FM radio, Bluetooth 3.0, and support for microSD cards up to 32GB. The device will reach select markets in the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and Europe beginning in the first quarter of the year.
Rockstar Consortium, a patent-holding company headed by Apple, has agreed to sell more than 4,000 mobile patents for about $900 million. Apple and partners Microsoft, BlackBerry, Ericsson, and Sony paid $4.5 billion for more than 6,000 patents from Nortel four years ago in order to help protect against litigation. The companies are selling two-thirds of the patents to RPX Corp., which is another patent-focused company that protects companies from lawsuits. RPX plans to license the patent portfolio to a syndicate of 30 technology companies, including Google and Cisco, according to the Wall Street Journal. The syndicate members contributed the bulk of the $900 million in order to purchase the patents. In addition to the patent sale, Rockstar will settle patent-related lawsuits it has filed against Android device makers, including Samsung, Huawei, HTC, and LG. Terms of those settlements were not disclosed. Rockstar Consortium will hold onto about 2,000 of the old Nortel patents, which the Journal described as the "most valuable" of the bunch.
Google was unable to convince a San Jose judge to dismiss an antitrust lawsuit filed against the search giant over preinstalled apps. The judge expressed concern over some the the plaintiffs' claims, which allege Android handset makers are forced to use Google's apps in lieu of competitive apps/services. For example, Google is the default search engine on Android handsets instead of Microsoft's Bing. The judge will dismiss some of the arguments, but wants to see more evidence from the plaintiffs before making a final decision on the antitrust complaint. Google did not comment on the decision.
Microsoft today said that it will begin pushing the Lumia Denim system update to its Windows Phones en masse beginning next month. The update is already trickling out to a few phones in select markets, but all Lumia smartphones running Windows Phone 8.1 will see the update at some point next month. According to Microsoft, improved imaging is the most significant new feature of the update. Notably, the camera app should function much faster, especially on devices such as the Lumia 930, 830, 1520, and Icon. In addition to speed, the camera will gain a feature called Moment Capture, which records 4K video at 24 frames per second with each and every frame saved as an 8.3-megapixel image. Users can snag a single frame from the video as a stand-alone image if they wish. Another new camera function is called Rich Capture. With it, the camera takes over settings such as auto HDR, dynamic flash, and dynamic exposure so users can focus on getting the shot and not on futzing with the camera app. Microsoft also notes the camera app makes use of new algorithms to improve focus and exposure. The Denim update also adds live folders, SMS merging, and other improvements. Microsoft first announced Lumia Denim in September.
Microsoft today announced it has agreed to sell the Lumia MixRadio service to Line for an undisclosed sum. MixRadio is a music-streaming service available to Lumia smartphones. It offers curated radio stations and also allows users to create their own. MixMusic chief said, "MixRadio fans can expect the same level of commitment to bring a personalized music experience to Lumia smartphones, thanks to MixRadio's recently launched recommendation engine." MixRadio's development team will remain in the UK. Line believes its platform is a good place for MixRadio to expand its user base. Microsoft and Line expect the deal to be completed next year.
Microsoft recently updated its Xim app and added compatibility with a wide range of media streaming devices. Microsoft first released Xim in October. It's a cross-platform app that allows people to easily share photos without requiring them to physically hand their phone to someone else. People use Xim to create a connection directly between devices for sharing photos from sources such as the camera roll, Instagram, and Facebook Today's update allows people to share photos not only with other phones, but with streaming media devices, including Chromecast, Apple TV, Xbox One, and Amazon Fire TV. Xim users need only connect to the WiFi network associated with the streaming media device for it to show up in the list of sharing options within the Xim app. Xims are impermanent, sort of like Snapchat, and expire after a short period of time. The updated Xim app is available from the iTunes App Store, Google Play Store, and Windows Phone Store.
Google is hoping to convince a San Jose judge to dismiss an antitrust lawsuit in the U.S. over its app-bundling practices on Android smartphones. Two plaintiffs allege Google restricts the use of competing apps, made by companies such as Microsoft, in favor of its own apps and services on Android handsets. For example, Google is the default search engine on Android handsets, rather than Microsoft's Bing. Google believes the suit should be dismissed because consumers are free to use whichever apps they want. The plaintiffs disagree, stating most people don't know how to change the default apps, and many of those who do won't go through the trouble of doing it. The plaintiffs argued Google apps "are widely used on Android by requiring default placement and other mechanisms for disadvantaging competing apps." Reuters reports that if the lawsuit is allowed to move forward, lawyers will gain access to internal emails and contracts between Google and its handset partners. The initial hearing is set to take place later today.
Sprint today said fans of Windows Phone will soon have the option to buy the Lumia 635 through several different Sprint brands. Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile USA will begin selling the Lumia 635 online on Dec. 23 and in stores Jan. 9 for $99. Sprint postpaid customers will have a shot at the Lumia 635 starting on Jan. 16, though pricing for the postpaid version has yet to be determined. Sprint says the Lumia 635 is the first Windows Phone 8.1 handset to grace its retail shelves. Moreover, it's the first Lumia Windows Phone to be sold by Sprint's prepaid brands. Microsoft first announced the Lumia 635 in April. It features a ClearBlack 4.5-inch LCD screen, interchangeable back panels, 5-megapixel shooter, and Nokia's two camera apps. There is no user-facing camera. It is powered by a quad-core 1.2GHz Snapdragon 400 processor and includes 512MB of RAM, 8GB of internal storage, and support microSD cards up to 128GB.
Microsoft recently made a beta app available that permits Windows Phone users to control their devices without touching them. The new Lumia Gestures Beta app lets users: answer a call by picking up their phone and putting it to their ear; mute their mic during a call by placing the phone on a flat surface with the display facing down; put the call on speaker by placing the phone on a flat surface with the display facing up; and silence incoming calls by flipping the phone display down. Some of these gestures have been available to devices from other OEMs, such as HTC, for more than a year. Microsoft didn't say if or when they will be added to Windows Phone handsets on a permanent basis.
Google today pushed out updates to its Docs, Sheets, and Slides apps for Android devices and added a few new features along the way. According to Google, Docs now offers more control over line spacing; Sheets adds scrollbars for simpler navigation; and Slides permits users to insert, move, resize, and rotate text boxes/shapes. Further, all three apps are more compatible with their Microsoft Office counterparts. Google's productivity apps are free to download from the Google Play Store.
Microsoft today expanded the availability of its MSN-branded apps beyond Windows Phone, adding them to the Google Play Store and iTunes App Store. The apps, which have evolved on the Windows Phone platform this year, include MSN Food & Drink, MSN Health & Fitness, MSN Money, MSN News, and MSN Sports. These five are available to both Android and iOS today. The MSN Weather app is available to Android today, too, and will be available to iOS soon. Of note, Microsoft said its MSN Health & Fitness app makes use of Apple's HealthKit tools, which will allow iPhone owners to track steps and other fitness goals. Microsoft has targeted Android and iOS aggressively this year with its own applications and services, including MS Office, its core productivity suite, and other utilities such as OneNote and OneDrive. All the apps are free to download from the Google Play Store and iTunes App Store.
Nokia today announced an update to its suite of HERE navigation apps for the Windows Phone platform. HERE Drive+ gains 18 new languages with the update, including Algeria, Iraq, Cyprus, and Libya, making for a total of 118 supported languages. Nokia said HERE Maps, HERE Transit, and HERE City Lens also received updates, though they are limited to performance improvements and bug fixes. Nokia's HERE apps are free to download from the Windows Store. Nokia, and not Microsoft, makes and distributes the HERE apps, which are also available to Android devices.
Microsoft recently updated its Torque application for Android Wear and carried it over from smartwatches to smartphones. With Torque, Android Wear and Android smartphone owners can shake or twist their device to launch Bing Voice Search. Bing Voice Search requires internet access, but can be controlled through a wide variety of voice commands to check the weather, perform simple math, or search for information. Torque works with most Android smartphones, and works best with the Asus Zen Watch, LG G Watch, and Samsung Gear Live Android wearables. Torque is free.
Microsoft today made Cortana available in four more countries. Cortana is the voice-controlled personal assistant built into Windows Phone 8.1. Cortana only spoke English when launched earlier the year. Microsoft later extended Cortana to China. Now, the developer preview version of Windows Phone 8.1 offers Cortana in French, German, Italian, and Spanish. Microsoft is offering Cortana as a preview so developers in France, Germany, Italy, and Spain can add Cortana capabilities to their own apps. Not all of Cortana's features will be available overseas, says Microsoft. For example, flight tracking and transit data for smaller cities are missing. Microsoft was sure to adjust Cortana's personality for each of the four languages, so it feels more natural to native French, German, Italian, and Spanish speakers. Windows Phone users in those countries can try Cortana by installing the developer preview of Windows Phone 8.1. Microsoft said it will add more features to Cortana over time.
Sprint reaffirmed its commitment to Microsoft's Windows Phone platform today after the HTC 8XT vanished from its web site. The 8XT and Samsung ATIV S Neo are the only Windows Phones Sprint has sold this year. Sprint said the phones are still available at a limited number of retail stores, but are no longer listed online. Sprint has not been Windows Phones' strongest supporter, but the carrier isn't ready to give up on Microsoft's mobile platform. "We do expect to bring new Windows Phone devices to our customers in the near future, and Sprint is committed to offering a variety of operating systems to our customers," said Sprint in an email to Phone Scoop. Sprint didn't say which Windows devices it will sell, nor when they might reach stores.
Microsoft today announced that it has purchased Acompli, a developer of Android and iOS email applications. Microsoft said it will use Acompli and its team to "deliver the full power of Office to mobile devices" via Outlook. Microsoft plans to create cross-platform email apps that support a number of email services so users can focus more an getting things done than on managing their email app. The Acompli email application is highly rated in both the Android and iOS app stores. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed. Microsoft has made a significant push across competing mobile platforms in recent months, expanding its Office product suite to Android tablets, for example, and making more features available to Android and iOS devices for free.
Microsoft recently updated its Office apps for Android smartphones and added compatibility with Dropbox. The company announced Dropbox integration for its Office products earlier this month. Android users can now access Dropbox from Office apps to get to their files and folders; edit Office files directly from Dropbox and sync them across devices; and share new or edited files from the Office apps using Dropbox sharing tools. Interested users will need both an Office and a Dropbox account in order to access these tools. Microsoft Office and Dropbox are free to download from the Play Store.
Samsung has lost its bid to delay a trial with Microsoft, which is seeking interest payments of $6.9 million on patent licenses. Samsung and Microsoft forged an agreement in 2011 in which Samsung agreed to pay royalties for patents Microsoft holds that are used in the Android operating system. Samsung delayed making its royalty payments after Microsoft announced its intent to acquire Nokia's handset business. According to Samsung, Microsoft's move made it a direct competitor, which it feared could lead to collusion charges. Samsung asked an international court in Hong Kong to hold arbitration hearings, which it wanted to complete before dealing with Microsoft in the U.S. A U.S. District Court Judge disagreed, however, and said Microsoft's case can move forward during the arbitration process.
Microsoft today announced that Opera Software will soon provide the default app store for older Nokia handsets. Beginning in the first quarter of 2015, the Opera Mobile Store will replace the Nokia Store on devices running the Series 40, Series 60, Symbian, Asha, and Nokia X operating systems. The Nokia Store itself will close once all handsets are transitioned to the Opera Mobile Store, which is expected to be complete by July 2015. According to Opera, it has over 300,000 applications for Nokia's legacy devices. Old apps are updated often, and Opera says its 40,000 developers constantly produce new apps, too. Microsoft purchased Nokia's handset business earlier this year. It has committed to selling entry-level feature phones, but would rather concentrate on managing one app store (the Windows Phone Store) instead of two.
Nokia today announced wide availability of the Z Launcher for Android devices. Nokia first debuted the Z Launcher earlier this year, but as a limited alpha. It is now available in beta form directly from the Google Play Store. The Z Launcher is a learning launcher that adjusts what it shows the phone owner on the home screen throughout the day depending on their pattern of behavior. For example, in the morning Z Launcher will present apps such as email and the calendar, while in the evening it will present apps such as Facebook and Spotify. Nokia says Z Launcher improves its predictions over time. Further, Z Launcher includes a gesture search tool that lets users initiate searches from the home screen by tracing letters on the glass. Launchers are alternative home screen treatments for Android smartphones. In addition to the launcher, Nokia announced the N1 tablet, which includes a 7.9-inch screen and runs Android 5.0 Lollipop. Other specs include a 64-bit Intel Atom processor, 8- and 5-megapixel cameras, stereo speakers, dual-band WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0. The N1 tablet will cost $249, and is headed to China first. Nokia, which sold its handset division to Microsoft earlier this year, is not manufacturing the N1 itself. Rather, it is licensing the brand and the design to an unnamed manufacturer in order for it to be built.
Microsoft today announced Movie Creator, a new app for editing video content into finished pieces. The app lets Windows Phone owners combine up to 25 video clips, photos, cinemagraphs, and Living Images into a single project. Microsoft says the app allows users to trim video clips and move them around with ease. Some features include text cards, pan and zoom, and filters for added effects. The app includes pre-loaded themes to help with quick projects. Movie Creator lets people enhance their videos with music, too. Movie Creator, which is being offered as a beta, is free to download from the Windows Store. It is compatible with Windows Phone 8.1.
Microsoft today announced the Lumia 535, the first phone it has revealed without the Nokia brand since it acquired the company's handset division earlier this year. The 535 is a low-cost smartphone meant for emerging markets. It features a 5-inch qHD display, and two 5-megapixel cameras with one on the front and one on the back. The rear camera has an LED flash. The user-facing camera has the same wide-angle sensor found on the Lumia 735. Both cameras can capture FWVGA video. The phone is powered by a 1.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 200 processor with 1GB of RAM. The 535 has 8GB of internal storage, but supports microSD cards up to 128GB. Microsoft will sell the Lumia 535 in single- and dual-SIM variants, but the phone only supports 3G networks (WCDMA at 42Mbps) and not LTE 4G. Other on-board radios include Bluetooth 4.0, Wi-Fi, and GPS. Like many Lumia phones, the 535 comes in a range of bright colors. It ships with Windows Phone 8.1 and the Lumia Denim system upgrade out of the box. The Lumia will be available in select markets beginning later this month. It is priced at about $135.
Microsoft has agreed to replace the Nokia Xpress browser on low-end and mid-range handsets with Opera's Mini browser. Moving forward, Opera Mini will become the default browser on Asha devices and feature phones bearing the Nokia brand. Both the Nokia Xpress browser and Opera Mini use server-side compression to help reduce data usage over mobile networks. Opera Mini has become very popular in India, where many Asha devices are still sold. Opera believes this distribution agreement will help it add approximately 100 million users in India and other emerging markets. Internet Explorer is the default browser on Microsoft's Windows Phone handsets.
Microsoft published a teaser page suggesting the first Lumia smartphone to wear the Microsoft brand (rather than Nokia) will be revealed on November 11. The company didn't provide any more details beyond the date.
Microsoft today announced a major expansion of its core Office productivity suite across mobile devices. Microsoft is replacing the limited Office app for the iPhone with three brand new apps, including Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. The apps allow iPhone users to create and edit Office content on their iPhones for free. Microsoft updated the iPad version of these three apps so there is continuity across them on the iOS platform. Further, Microsoft announced a new preview version of Office for Android tablets. This means most people will be able to work with Office documents on their mobile devices at no cost. Previously, Microsoft required a subscription to its Office 365 product. Moving forward, subscribers to Office 365 will have a more robust feature set, including advanced editing and collaboration tools, unlimited OneDrive storage, and Dropbox integration. Last, Microsoft said it is working on a touch-enabled version of Office for Windows 10. The new iPhone and iPad Office apps are free to download immediately. Android tablet owners can sign up for the Office preview beginning today.
Microsoft and Dropbox today announced a new partnership that will make it easier for smartphone and tablet owners to remain productive. They have agreed to integrate Office 365 and Dropbox for mobile and online document creation and storage. Android and iOS users will be able to access Dropbox from Office apps to get to their files and folders; edit Office files directly from Dropbox and sync them across devices; and share new or edited files from the Office apps using Dropbox sharing tools. Microsoft said it will update Office for Android and iOS with these new features over the coming weeks. Online sharing between Office and Dropbox won't arrive until early 2015. Interested users will need both an Office and a Dropbox account in order to access these tools. Dropbox will also make its application available on the Windows Phone and Windows tablet platforms in the coming months.
Microsoft today said it has updated a handful of its apps for Windows Phone devices. The Nokia Camera app is being renamed to Lumia Camera, though there are no changes to the app itself. The app is, however, being made available to the Lumia 830, Lumia 930, Lumia 1520, and Lumia Icon with the Lumia Denim Update, which starts rolling out later this year. The Lumia Cinemagraph app is receiving a minor update that makes the sharing function simpler and faster. Microsoft also noted that the app will no longer store Cinemagraphs on Nokia's web site and will instead keep them on Microsoft's OneDrive web site where they can be shared with social networks such as Facebook. Nokia said the new Cinemagraph app is expected to roll out early next year.
Softcard recently expanded to Microsoft's Windows Phone platform. Softcard, formerly Isis, is a mobile payment service backed by AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless. Windows Phone owners can associate a credit card from select financial institutions with Softcard on their phone and use it for mobile payments. According to Softcard, its app is accepted at more than 200,000 retail locations around the U.S. Softcard is free to download from the Windows Phone Store, but it requires a secure SIM card from AT&T, T-Mobile, or Verizon Wireless in order to function properly.
AT&T today announced that it will offer the Microsoft Lumia 830 online and in stores beginning November 7. The Lumia 830 was announced earlier this year. It runs Windows Phone 8.1 with Cortana and features a slim-and-light design. The 830 has a 5-inch HD display, quad-core processor, and 10-megapixel camera. AT&T is selling the phone for $450 at full retail, $100 with a two-year contract, $22.50 per month with AT&T Next 12, or $18.75 per month with AT&T Next 18. For a limited time, AT&T is offering a FitBit Flex wearable with the Lumia 830 for free. The FitBit can be used to track activity and sleep. It normally retails for $99.
Samsung claims that if it honors a 2011 patent-licensing agreement with Microsoft it could be charged with collusion. The argument is the latest from Samsung, which owes Microsoft $1 billion in patent licensing fees, plus another $6.9 million in interest. Several technologies found in the Android operating system are patented by Microsoft. Nearly all Android device makers pay Microsoft to license those patents in their smartphones. Samsung agreed to do the same in 2011, though Microsoft cut it a bit if a break after Samsung agreed to continue to develop devices running Microsoft's Windows Phone platform. Part of the agreement entails Samsung sharing sensitive inside information with Microsoft. Samsung now contends that Microsoft's acquisition of Nokia's handset business earlier this year puts them into direct competition. It says if it pays the licensing fees, it could be seen as colluding with Microsoft in violation of the law. Microsoft sued Samsung over the unpaid licensing fees earlier this year and believes it has a strong case.