The Samsung Galaxy Note8 is now on sale in the U.S. Though third-party cases are widely available, Samsung has its own, high-end Alcantara case for the phone. If you place style ahead of practicality, the Alcantara case is one option for protecting your Note8.
Alcatel's A50 / Pulsemix is an inexpensive Android device that features swappable rear covers. Care to put on a light show? The LED cover bestows the A50 with colorful patterns on the back that light up with your music. Speaking of music, take advantage of the stereo speakers that snap onto the back of the A50, or charge up your battery with the power pack cover. Here is Phone Scoop's review of the Alcatel A50 / Pulsemix.
Motorola today opened up pre-orders for the Moto G5S Plus handset. Consumers can order the phone from Best Buy, B&H, Fry’s, Motorola.com, New Egg, Ting, and Walmart.com. The G5S Plus boasts a metal unibody design, 5.5-inch HD display, and a 3,000mAh battery. It includes a dual 13-megapixel arrangement with features such as selective focus, and black-and-white image capture. The G5S Plus adds an LED flash to the front of the phone for improved lighting via the 8-megapixel selfie cam. The phone includes the latest software features from Motorola, including Night Display and Quick Reply. The device will ship starting September 29. The Moto GS5 Plus comes in gray or rose gold. The 32 GB version costs $229 and the 64 GB version costs $299.
Google today made it easier for businesses to configure and deploy Android handsets to employees with a new tool called zero-touch enrollment. Google says zero-touch lets companies configure purchased devices and ship them directly to employees completely preconfigured with corporate policies and controls all in place. Users need only sign in to gain access to their work apps and data. The new zero-touch enrollment tool is available on handsets purchased from AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless in the U.S. Google is working with Samsung, Huawei, Sony, LG, HMD Global, BlackBerry, HTC, Motorola, Honeywell, Zebra, and Sonim to ensure a wide selection of devices support zero-touch. Google indicated the Huawei Mate 10 and Sony Xperia XZ1 and XZ1 Compact will be among the first devices to support zero-touch in the coming weeks. Businesses will be able to use a wide range of enterprise device management tools from the likes of BlackBerry, MobileIron, IBM, Suite, and VMware to configure zero-touch. Google encouraged businesses that are interested in zero-touch to contact their carriers directly.
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Instagram today made it possible for those broadcasting live video to play with face filters in real time. Broadcasters need only tap the face icon in the bottom right corner before or during their live stream to add filters. Instagram says users can play around with as many filters during their broadcast as they like. Live broadcasts can be shared to stories for replaying or discarded. The feature is rolling out worldwide to Instagram mobile for Android and iOS over the next several weeks.
Apple's new mobile operating system, iOS 11, introduces some counterintuitive behaviors with respect to Control Center and the wireless radios. Tapping the WiFi or Bluetooth toggles in Control Center does not actually turn off these radios. "In iOS 11 and later, when you toggle the WiFi or Bluetooth buttons in Control Center, your device will immediately disconnect from WiFi and Bluetooth accessories. Both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth will continue to be available," explained Apple in its documentation for iOS 11. In earlier versions of iOS, tapping these toggles did in fact turn the radios off. iPhone and iPad owners who wish to completely turn off their Bluetooth and WiFi radios will need to do so from the settings menu. According to Apple, disabled WiFi radios will wake back up under certain circumstances: when toggled on, when users encounter a new WiFi network, when the device is restarted, or automatically at 5am. Turning WiFi and Bluetooth off is often viewed as a good security practice. Apple did not rationalize these changes in behavior.
Google today announced what it says are the first headphones optimized to work with Google Assistant. The Bose QC35 II wireless cans have a dedicated action button for interacting with Google Assistant. A quick press of the action button allows people to listen to incoming messages or check their calendar; access playlists, skip tracks, and listen to the news; or answer or make phone calls. The Bose QC35 II headphones are a modified version of last year's QC35s. They include active noise cancellation. Google said Assistant on the QC35 II will be available in the U.S., Australia, Canada, Germany, France, and the U.K. Pricing and exact retail dates were not provided. For reference, the original QC35s cost $349. Other headset makers have already included Google Assistant in their own designs using APIs from Google, but these do not have dedicated action buttons.
Google today said it has agreed to purchase HTC's Pixel smartphone business, as well as acquire some employees and license intellectual property, for $1.1 billion in cash. HTC's Pixel engineers will be added to Google's existing hardware organization, where they will continue to work on the Pixel smartphone line. "In many ways, this agreement is a testament to the decade-long history of teamwork between HTC and Google," said Rick Osterloh, former Motorola executive and current senior vice president of Google's hardware business. "Together, we've achieved several mobile-industry firsts, including the first ever Android smartphone, the HTC Dream / T-Mobile G1; as well as the Nexus One in 2010, the Nexus 9 tablet in 2014, and the first Pixel smartphone just last year." Osterloh said Google will continue to focus on its core capabilities, creating hardware that takes advantage of Google's software. HTC will retain its actual smartphone business. In a statement, HTC said the company "will continue to have best-in-class engineering talent, which is currently working on the next flagship phone, following the successful launch of the HTC U11 earlier this year." HTC will also retain its Vive-branded virtual reality business and invest in next-generation technologies, such as the internet of things, augmented reality, and artificial intelligence. The companies did not say when they expect the deal to close.
Apple today admitted that its new cellular-connected smartwatch has a problem. Early reviewers of the Apple Watch Series 3 with LTE complained of intermittent or non-existent data connections when away from their iPhone. Testers from the Wall Street Journal and The Verge, for example, were unable to make or maintain voice calls, or stream music via LTE. According to Apple, the issue occurs when the new watch attempts to join "unauthenticated WiFi wireless networks without connectivity." In other words, the device is prioritizing WiFi over LTE and will drop LTE even when it latches onto shoddy WiFi that doesn't actually offer a connection. The company is "investigating a fix for a future software release." The Apple Watch Series 3, which starts at $399, includes an optional LTE radio for connecting to AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless. The carriers are charging $5 or $10 per month to add the watch to existing data plans. The new smartwatch from Apple goes on sale Friday, Sept. 22.
Google's Project Fi just scored its first non-Nexus / Pixel handset. The company added the Motorola Moto X4 to the selection of devices compatible with Project Fi, which is Google's low-cost MVNO. The Moto X4, announced earlier this year, joins the Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P, Pixel, and Pixel XL in Project Fi's lineup. Perhaps more importantly, the Moto X4 will run the Android One variant of Android. This represents the first time an Android One device is being made available in the U.S. Android One is Google's slimmed-down version of Android for inexpensive devices. The idea is to provide a core Android experience that performs well no matter the hardware's possible limitations. It includes Google Assistant, Google Duo, Google Play Protect, and the latest updates to Android Oreo. In fact, Google committed to updating the Android One Moto X4 to (previously unannounced) Android P. The Moto X4 for Project Fi sports a stylish design with a metal frame and curved glass, plus a 16-megapixel selfie camera and dual rear cameras, with one wide-angle lens. It also has a 5.2-inch screen, Snapdragon 630 processor, memory card slot, water resistance, 3.5mm audio jack, and USB-C connector. It supports Motorola's TurboPower rapid charging. The Android One Moto x4 is priced at $399, and comes in black and blue. It is available pre-order on the Project Fi web site starting today. Google said it will accept trade-ins of older Nexus phones for those wishing to upgrade.
Google today revealed a refresh of Snapseed, its advanced photo-editing application. Snapseed 2.18 for Android and iOS features a brand new user interface that Google says speeds up the editing process. For example, Snapseed has moved the Looks tool, which consists of user-created filters, to the main screen for quicker access. Moreover, Snapseed gains 11 new preset filters that people can apply to their photos. The iOS version of Snapseed earns access to the Perspective tool, which lets editors adjust skewed lines of horizons or buildings. Snapseed 2.18 is free to download from the Google Play Store and iTunes App Store.
HTC will cease trading shares of its stock in anticipation of a significant announcement to be made tomorrow. The news was first revealed by the Taiwan Stock Exchange, which said "shares of HTC Corporation ... will be halted starting from Sept. 21, 2017 pending the release of material information." HTC confirmed the halt in share trading, but did not provide a reason behind the action. Earlier this month, Bloomberg suggested that Google might acquire HTC, or a portion thereof. It is possible that HTC plans to announce a takeover by Google during the announcement, which is being made town-hall style at its Taipei headquarters. The company's response to the Taiwan Stock Exchange alert read, "HTC does not comment on market rumor or speculation." HTC, once a dominant maker of Android handsets, has been fading for years in the face of competition from Samsung, LG, Huawei, ZTE, and others. The company's financial health has been in question many times due to weak sales. HTC never stopped making compelling smartphones, such as the One series, the U11, and Pixel devices for Google. Google may want to bring HTC's handset division under its wing for future Pixel smartphones.
LG today said it will begin shipping its V30 flagship handset to customers in South Korea this week. The phone will arrive in North America, Europe, and other markets "in the days and weeks to come." LG didn't provide an exact launch window for the U.S., and LG's U.S. carrier partners have yet to announce pricing plans for the high-end phone. The V30 is the latest to adopt LG's 18:9 FullVision display with a plastic OLED panel and Gorilla Glass 5 covering the quad HD+, 6-inch screen. The phone boasts a twin-camera design with wide-angle and standard view lenses, high-resolution audio capture, wireless charging, and support for Google Daydream VR. The V30 is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor and it runs Android 7 Nougat.
Apple today made it possible for iPhone owners to download larger applications via their cellular connections. "We’ve increased the cellular download limit from 100 MB to 150 MB," said Apple to developers, "letting customers download more apps from the App Store over their cellular network." Apple has slowly increased the size limit over the years to account for both the increase in app sizes and the improvement in network speeds. It's not uncommon to encounter apps that are larger than 100 MB. iPhone owners will have to find WiFi to download apps larger than 150 MB.
Apple today updated its Apple Music application for the Android platform in order to ensure the experience is similar to that of the revised iOS version. Android device owners have access to the same iOS 11 Apple Music discovery feature that allows people to create public profiles and share playlists. The new music app also introduces support for voice search, which lets people say "OK Google" to find artists, albums, and songs. Apple Music gains a fresh widget that highlights music that was recently played, and a new tap-and-hold shortcut to quickly play Beats 1 Radio or start a new search. Apple Music is free to download from the Google Play Store, but the service requires a $10 monthly subscription.
T-Mobile today said it will allow customers to use more LTE data before potentially throttling them. Previously, T-Mobile would slow the mobile internet speeds of the heaviest users after they surpassed 32 GB of mobile data in a single billing period. T-Mobile bumped that threshold by 50% to 50 GB effective immediately, which means T-Mobile subscribers can use more data before possibly being hit with slower mobile data speeds. To put this into context, 50 GB of data allows customers to stream 2 hours of (standard definition) Netflix content every day with plenty to spare at the end of the month. T-Mobile says customers who exceed the 50 GB threshold might see their top speeds dialed back only when the network is congested. T-Mobile anticipates this won't impact too many users (the top 1%). The 50 GB threshold resets each month. T-Mobile calls this practice "network prioritization" and says it is primarily used as a way to manage network load.
Apple today made watchOS 4.0 available to the Apple Watch Series 1 and Series 2 wearables. The platform prioritizes the heart rate monitor. Apple Watches will now notify people when it senses a high heart rate if owners are not active. The new software can also look for atrial fibrillation and provide health alerts when necessary. WatchOS 4.0 includes the new Siri watch face that contains the owner's personalized data, such as commute times, calendar appointments, reminders, photo memories, weather updates, and more. The kaleidoscope watch face changes over time, and a wider selection of Disney characters are being added as watch faces. Activity notifications will be more personalized, including goal achievements. Apple says the new workout app makes it quicker to start workouts, such as swims, hikes, and runs. WatchOS 4.0 is more compatible with gym equipment for counting reps. The music player now supports multiple playlists and a wider selection of album art for workouts when using Apple EarPods. Moreover, music functionality will be much more accessible within workout apps. Other features include a new flashlight, a blinking light for nighttime visibility, and support for other sensors, such as glucose monitors. WatchOS 4.0 is free to download from Apple.
Apple today made new system software available to its smartphones and tablets. iPhone and iPad owners can download iOS 11, which introduces new lock screen behaviors, new control center behaviors, as well as new features for the camera, messages, maps and more. For the first time, iPhone owners will be able to use augmented reality thanks to the addition of ARKit and apps in the App Store. iOS 11 is free to download. Apple suggests users back up their devices before updating. iOS 11 is compatible with the iPhone 5SE, iPhone 6/6 Plus, 6s/6s Plus, and 7/7s Plus.
Apple's annual iPhone operating system upgrade is here. Beginning September 19, iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch owners can download and install iOS 11, the latest mobile platform from Apple. This year sees Apple chiefly refining its core apps, though some new features, such as indoor maps, a new music social network, and augmented reality, are also included. Here's our review of iOS 11.