Phone Scoop

printed July 30, 2015
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Created by Google, Android is a smartphone OS and platform that is open-source and open for any manufacturer to use to make a smartphone. Most Android phones use a version that is mostly provided by Google and requires Google services. Android phones can run Android apps, available from the Google Play Store, or, optionally, from other sources.

by:  Google


More Phone Makers, Carriers Support Android for Work

Today, 8:54 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today said support for its Android for Work program has swelled to 40 companies thanks to the addition of new carriers, phone makers, app developers, and management providers. AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint in the U.S., and Rogers, Bell Canada, and Telus Mobility in Canada have thrown their weight behind Android for Work, marking the first time carriers have joined the program. This means people/businesses will be able to ask their carriers to provide the security, device management, and productivity tools included in Android for Work. Samsung is working with Android for Work, too, in conjunction with its own KNOX services. Silent Circle's forthcoming Blackphone 2 is another handset that will support Android for Work. Google says more than 10,000 businesses are testing, deploying, or using Android for Work. The program is meant to help offer secure connections to corporate information, the ability for IT to manage devices remotely, and access to Google's productivity apps.


AT&T to Mandate Working FM Radios In Android Handsets

Yesterday, 1:44 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T has requested that all its handset manufacturer partners include functional FM radios in their Android smartphones by 2016. Further, the company is asking its OEM partners to enable any FM radios that may be dormant inside existing handsets. FM radios are often included on modules that bundle other radios, such as Bluetooth, WiFi, and cellular. The move means AT&T's Android customers will be able to listen to local FM radio via their smartphones through apps, such as NextRadio. The National Association of Broadcasters applauded the move, saying, "[This] marks a new beginning in mobile technology with the agreement by a global iconic brand, AT&T, to light up the FM receiver chips in all of its future Android smartphones." NextRadio, which makes it easy to find an listen to local FM radio stations, competes with myriad other third-party music services on smartphones.


Boost Mobile Adding Alcatel OneTouch Conquest and Elevate to Roster

Yesterday, 11:18 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Boost Mobile today announced the Alcatel OneTouch Conquest and Elevate, two low-cost Android handsets. Shared features between the two handsets include support for LTE, 5-megapixel rear cameras, 2-megapixel front cameras, and the Google Now launcher.

  • Conquest: The Conquest (pictured) features an IP67 rating for protection against water and dust. The larger of these two smartphones boasts a 5-inch 720p HD screen with Dragontrail Glass and 1.2GHz quad-core processor. The Conquest runs Android 5.0 Lollipop and costs $129.99.
  • Elevate: The Elevate has a 4.5-inch FWVGA display and quad-core 1.1GHz processor. It relies on a 2,000mAh battery to get it through the day. The Elevate runs Android 5.1 Lollipop and costs $99.99.
The Conquest is available today and the Elevate will become available in August. Boost Mobile operates on Sprint's network and does not require contracts.


Yahoo's New Messaging App Adds Live Video To Your Texts

Yesterday, 11:11 AM   by Rich Brome   updated Yesterday, 11:32 AM

Yahoo! today launched Livetext, its new messaging app to compete with services like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and Snapchat. The app lets you have a text conversation with one other person at a time, accompanied by a silent, 2-way live video stream. The app is designed for situations where audio might be inappropriate for one or both parties, but you want to share what you're seeing and/or facial reactions. Tapping your own video stream thumbnail switches between your front and back camera. It does not support group messaging. The app first appeared quietly in the Hong Kong iOS App Store, but today is being launched in the U.S. It will be available tomorrow for both Android and iOS.


Google Translate Gains 20 Languages and A Speed Boost

Yesterday, 8:16 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today added 20 new languages to its Google Translate application for Android and iOS devices. The app now lets people instantly translate text between Bulgarian, Catalan, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Filipino, Finnish, Hungarian, Indonesian, Lithuanian, Norwegian, Polish, Romanian, Slovak, Swedish, Turkish and Ukrainian. Google Translate initially launched with support for English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish, and it now speaks a total of 27 languages. With Google Translate, users can point their phone's camera at text in any of these languages and instantly see the translation to the language of their choice. Google also took steps to improve the performance of Google Translate's voice conversation mode. The company is using convolutional neural networks to help translate languages faster when the network connection is poor or even non-existant. This means real-time translations between two spoken languages is faster and smoother. Google said the updated Google Translate apps for Android and iOS are available in the Play Store and iTunes App Store, respectively, beginning today.


Google Search Shows When Your Fave Shops Are Busy

Tuesday, 2:51 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google updated its search application with the ability to show when businesses are at their busiest. Google Search results will display a graph that depicts the location's average foot traffic throughout the day. Google suggests the feature might be helpful in avoiding long lines for that afternoon latte. The feature is part of the latest version of Google Search for Android, which is free to download from the Play Store.


Google's Voice Assistant Now Works with Some Chat Apps

Tuesday, 1:26 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today extended the voice capabilities of its Google Search app by allowing it to interact with third-party messaging apps. People can now issue commands such as "Ok Google, send a WhatsApp message" to initiate and dictate messages in a handful of popular messaging apps. In addition to WhatsApp, Google Search's voice assistant can interact with Viber, WeChat, Telegram, and NextPlus. Google said Android owners will need the latest version of the Google app and the messaging app in question in order for the voice commands to function properly. The feature is available to English speakers, but Google said it plans to add support for more languages and apps in the near future.


Hands On with the Moto X

Tuesday, 10:02 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Motorola showed off three new handsets today, including the Moto X Style - or "Pure Edition" - for the U.S. market. This handset runs stock Android and offers some solid updates to last year's model in terms of design and features. Here are our initial thought about Motorola's latest.

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CAT's Latest Handset Is a Rugged Android Slate

Tuesday, 7:37 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

CAT today announced the S40, a new rugged handheld for those who need a tough, waterproof phone. The CAT S40 features a hardened exterior (mil-spec 810G) that can handle drops from 6 feet as well as protect against water and dust intrusion. The S40 has a 4.7-inch qHD screen that's protected by Gorilla Glass 4 and can work with gloves and/or when wet. The phone is powered by a 1.1 GHz quad-core Snapdragon processor with 1 GB of RAM and 16 GB of storage. The main camera has an 8-megapixel sensor and the user-facing camera has a 2-megapixel sensor. The phone supports North American GSM/LTE networks and includes Bluetooth, GPS, and WiFi. The phone will be available soon. CAT did not disclose pricing.


OnePlus Announces Its Second-Generation Flagship

Monday, 9:50 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Monday, 10:24 PM

OnePlus today revealed the OnePlus 2, its second-generation flagship Android smartphone. The OnePlus 2 features a 5.5-inch 1080p HD IPS LCD display with 178-degree viewability, and is powered by an octa-core Snapdragon 810 processor with 4 GB of RAM and 64 GB of internal storage. The main camera captures 13-megapixel images with laser-assisted focus, f/2.0 aperture, optical image stabilization, and larger pixels to aid with low-light performance. The user-facing camera features a 5-megapixel sensor. Other hardware features include a slider switch for controlling alert profiles, a fingerprint sensor for security, 3,300mAh battery, and USB Type C for reversible connections. The handset will offer swappable rear covers, including some made from bamboo, black apricot, kevlar, and rosewood. The OnePlus 2 runs OnePlus' version of Android 5.1 Lollipop, which it calls Oxygen OS. The OnePlus 2 will be available August 11 in the U.S., Canada, India, Europe, and China, with other regions to follow later in the year. It costs $389. A version of the phone with 3 GB of RAM and 16 GB of storage costs $329.

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Nextbit Targeting Android Phones

Monday, 9:03 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Nextbit, a small San Francisco-based startup, today announced that it plans to build smartphones. The company is only teasing an Android handset at the moment, and said it will reveal more details about the device and its plans in the weeks ahead. Nextbit is run by CEO Tom Moss and counts among its staff at least two former HTC employees, including Scott Croyle, HTC's former head of design. "We want to set this off as something different," said Croyle, speaking to Recode. "We don't have to be for everybody." Nextbit already offers cloud-based storage. The company remained mum on the specifics regarding its smartphone plans, such as whether it will target the entry level, middle, or top of the market.


Microsoft Debuts Android Launcher

Monday, 10:47 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Microsoft recently released a launcher for Android smartphones that delivers a different take on the home screen. The launcher, which replaces the standard Android home screen, uses three panels to display various information. The left-most panel focuses on people, including recent contacts complete with addresses and numbers. The central home panel is where users can put their apps. It also includes a section for recently-used apps so people can jump back into those apps quickly. The last screen is for notes and reminders and can display calendar items as well as personal reminders. Microsoft's Arrow Launcher is available in a closed beta, which means people need to join the Google+ community in order to access the launcher. However, the APK is available directly from Microsoft, as well, for those who want to bypass the community aspect. Arrow Launcher is free to use. Microsoft has created a wide range of apps for Google's Android platform. Arrow is the latest.


Honda to Put Android Auto and CarPlay in 2016 Accord

Jul 24, 2015, 7:22 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Honda has committed to supporting Google's Android Auto and Apple's CarPlay platforms in the forthcoming 2016 Honda Accord sedan. With the two platforms on board, owners of Android and iOS handsets will be able to connect their devices to the Accord's in-dash unit for safer interactions with their apps. A number of other carmakers have committed to supporting the smartphone platforms, including GM's Buick,Cadillac, and Chevy brands, and Volkswagen.


Google Overhauls YouTube App

Jul 24, 2015, 7:15 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google released a revised version of YouTube and the updated app focuses on improving usability. The user interface now focuses around three tabs: Home, Subscriptions, and Account. The first lets people explore and discover videos with recommendations based on viewing history, the second features all the videos from favorited channels, and the third helps people manage their own content and history within the app. In addition to the tabs, YouTube has new editing features, such trimming clips, adding tints and music, and uploading straight from the camera. The new YouTube app is available for Android devices and the web, and will reach iOS devices soon.


Google Brings Spotlight Stories to iOS Devices

Jul 23, 2015, 12:58 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today offered its Spotlight Stories app to the iPhone and iPad. Google Spotlight Stories began life on the Motorola Moto X as a 360-degree animated story. The app includes 2D/3D animations that take advantage of the iPhone's sensors to allow users to interact with them. At the moment, the stories are view-only; people can't create their own. Google Spotlight Stories only contains a few stories at the moment, but the selection is expected to grow over time. It is free to download from the iTunes App Store. The app has been available to Android devices since May.


Microsoft's 'Send' App is More Messaging than Email

Jul 22, 2015, 10:21 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Microsoft today released a new email application called Send. The idea behind Send, developed by Microsoft Garage, is to let people send quick messages to one another while still harnessing the power of corporate email. Send messages strip out headers, subjects and footers, and look and feel more like text messages. Even so, they are backed by companies' Office 365 email servers and can be viewed and/or responded to via Outlook. "These are the sort of quick emails you send to the people you care about at work—your boss, your teammates, and sometimes partners or customers outside your organization. You're usually busy or on the go when you send them, and Send is specifically designed for this get-in get-out scenario," explained Microsoft in a blog post. Microsoft knows co-workers often need to reach one another and don't always have phone numbers on hand. Office 365 integration means the corporate email directory is available to Send users, making everyone easy to reach. Send is available to corporate and education iPhone owners and will soon reach Android and Windows Phone. Microsoft said it hopes to expand Send's availability to more platforms/devices over time.


AT&T's GoPhone Debuts the Asus ZenFone 2E

Jul 22, 2015, 9:40 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Asus today announced the ZenFone 2E for AT&T's GoPhone prepaid service. This entry-level handset features a 5-inch 720p HD screen, and relies on a dual-core Intel Atom Z2560 processor with 1 GB of RAM and 8 GB of storage. Asus says the Atom chip works hand-in-hand with the PowerVR SGX544 MP2 GPU for smooth gaming performance. The ZenFone 2E has an 8-megapixel camera with f/2.0 aperture and a 2-megapixel front camera. The 2,500mAh battery is good for more than 19 hours of talk time. It includes Bluetooth 4.0, WiFi, GPS, and support for LTE. The phone runs Android 5.0 Lollipop with Asus' Zen UI skin on top. The ZenFone 2E is available today at Target and Walmart stores, and reaches AT&T stores on July 24 and Best Buy on August 2. The phone costs $119.99.


YouTube for Android Now Plays Vertical Videos Properly

Jul 22, 2015, 8:43 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google recently updated its Android YouTube app with the ability to show vertical videos in full screen mode. Such content now fills the entire screen, rather than run with black bars on either side. YouTube is free to download from the Play Store.


Sony Seeking User Interface Design Feedback from Swedes

Jul 22, 2015, 8:17 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sony today announced the Sony Concept for Android program in Sweden, which is a way for the company to test new user interface features for its smartphones. To start, Sony is offering 500 Swedish owners of the Xperia Z3 access to a new user experience that's based on a nearly stock version of Android 5.1 Lollipop, with some core Sony elements tossed into the mix. Sony said it is significantly different from the user experience available on its current lineup of devices. "[This is] a chance for us to listen and act upon bug reports, opinions and experiences, so we can acquire feedback to improve the experiences based on what you like and what you don't," said Sony. Sony indicated this is the first step in a new business model that it hopes will see the company responding faster to customer wishes while being more transparent at the same time. If the small trial in Sweden is successful, Sony may expand it to other regions.


BlackBerry to Acquire AtHoc

Jul 22, 2015, 8:07 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

BlackBerry today said it has agreed to acquire AtHoc for an undisclosed sum. AtHoc provides secure crisis communications for businesses so they can push critical data in real-time during business- or life-threatening events. The AtHoc service can send alerts to any device, including iOS, Android, Windows, and Macs, as well as radios, IP phones, digital displays, and even sirens or speakers. Homeland Security and the Department of Defense are among AtHoc's customers. BlackBerry said it will integrate AtHoc's offering into its own portfolio of enterprise communications services. The deal gives AtHoc global reach to expand its business and helps round out BlackBerry's business offerings. BlackBerry said it expects to complete the deal during its fiscal third quarter.


Kyocera 'Waves' Hello to T-Mobile and MetroPCS

Jul 22, 2015, 8:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Jul 22, 2015, 5:58 PM

Kyocera today announced the Hydro Wave, its newest Android handset for T-Mobile and MetroPCS. The Hydro Wave has an IP57 rating for protection against water/dust ingress and meets mil-spec 810G for resistance to abuse. The Wave includes wet screen tracking so the phone can be used when wet. It runs Android 5.1 Lollipop but includes new software from Kyocera called Core Home, which simplifies the user interface for first-time users or those who prefer the look and feel of feature phone UIs. The Hydro Wave features a 5-inch qHD display, 1.2 GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 processor, 1 GB of RAM, 8 GB of storage, and supports memory cards up to 32 GB. The main camera has a 5-megapixel sensor with LED flash and can capture 720p HD video, while the user-facing camera has a 2-megapixel sensor. Wireless capabilities include WiFi with WiFi Direct and WiFi Calling, Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy, and LTE with VoLTE and HD Voice support. The Hydro Wave has a 2,300mAh battery and includes Kyocera's Eco Mode and MaxiMZR to enhance battery life. The Hydro Wave will go on sale in T-Mobile stores July 22, followed by MetroPCS stores July 27. The price is $149.99.


Timeline Lets Android Users Explore Their Past Travels

Jul 22, 2015, 7:30 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google is rolling out a new feature to Android and desktop users of Google Maps that allows people to see all the places they've visited. The feature, called Timeline, makes it possible to revisit locations within Maps to recall where you've been. Google will also serve up any images stored in Google Photos tagged at the locations people visit as they travel through their past. Timeline is only visible to the account holder and can be deleted at any time. Users can wipe out their location history for a single day or an entire year if they wish. The improvement to Maps also lets people add more personal designations to points on the map, such as "Mom and Dad's House" rather than the specific street address. Timeline is being rolled out to Android users gradually. Maps is free to download from the Google Play Store.


Sony Pushing Android 5.1 to Select Xperia Phones

Jul 22, 2015, 7:19 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sony today said it has prepared Android 5.1 Lollipop for a number of its Xperia smartphones and tablets. The updated operating system is available to the Xperia Z3, Z3 Compact, Z3 Tablet Compact, Z2, and Z2 Tablet. Sony said it blended the features of Android 5.1 with its own user interface tweaks. For example, users now have more control over the volume and silent mode functions; can enjoy tighter integration with LinkedIn; and should experience faster, more accurate Superior Auto Mode with the camera. Sony also added some business-focused features. Though Sony is pushing the system update, timing of its arrival will depend on region and carrier. Sony said it should have Android 5.1 ready for the Xperia Z1, Z1 Compact, and Z Ultra in the coming weeks, followed closely by the Xperia T2 Ultra, C3, and, finally, the original Xperia Z Series.


Skype Redesigns Android App to Aid Usability

Jul 22, 2015, 7:10 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Skype has updated its Android mobile application with a refreshed user interface. Skype believes the changes make Skype look better and easier to use. For example, Skype 5.6 for Android allows users to see more chats on the Recent tab. People can now glean more at a glance than they were able to before. Other design tweaks make it more obvious which of the user's friends are online, and more consistent thanks to unified avatar pictures. Last, Skype adjusted the color of chat bubbles, which it says gives chats more clarity — especially those with lots of participants. As usual, the update tackles a number of bugs and makes improvements to stability. Skype 5.6 for Android is free to download from the Play Store.


Google Acquires Pixate

Jul 21, 2015, 1:03 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today said it has acquired Pixate, a service that lets developers create mobile app user interface prototypes for Android and iOS devices. Pixate was formed in Palo Alto in 2012 with the goal of helping developers more easily design apps. Pixate's team will be managed by Matias Duarte, head of design at Google. Pixate said its main product, Pixate Studio, is now free for developers to download. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.


Audi, BMW, Daimler to Buy Nokia's HERE Maps

Jul 21, 2015, 11:24 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Jul 21, 2015, 12:03 PM

A consortium of three German automotive makers has agreed to purchase HERE Maps from Nokia for about $2.71 billion, according to the Wall Street Journal. Sources familiar with Nokia's plans say Audi, BMW, and Daimler (Mercedes) have fielded a winning bid for the mapping division, which Nokia put up for sale earlier this year. By divesting the business unit, Nokia's chief remaining business will be providing telecommunications equipment to network operators. The car companies will run HERE Maps together, and plan to invite other car marks to invest in a stake if they wish. The three German car makers beat out Uber and private investors, which were also interested in HERE. Nokia bought mapping company Navteq in 2007 and rebranded its product HERE Maps. HERE Maps is a free app available to Android, iOS, and Windows Phone. Nokia did not confirm the Journal's story.


Ubik Relying On Kickstarter to Fund the Uno Android Phone

Jul 21, 2015, 8:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Ubik Mobile today announced the Uno, an affordable flagship smartphone that it is making available via Kickstarter. The handset runs a stock version of Android 5.1 Lollipop and features a 5.5-inch 1080p HD screen protected by Gorilla Glass 3. The display has minimal bezels along the sides, giving it an edge-to-edge look. The Uno is powered by a 2.2 GHz MediaTek octa-core processor with 3 GB of RAM. The main camera has a 20-megapixel sensor with autofocus, f/2.2 aperture, and 4K video capture, while the user-facing camera has an 8-megapixel sensor. The Ubik Uno has 16 GB of storage, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC, WiFi, and support for memory cards up to 64 GB. The Uno is sold for $345 unlocked and it supports GSM-based LTE networks, such as those operated by AT&T and T-Mobile. The device will initially be sold through a Kickstarter campaign. The first 250 backers will get the Uno for $280, with other tiers priced at $299 and $320. The Kickstarter campaign has 44 days left and Ubik said it expects to ship the phone early in the fourth quarter. Ubik said the phone's software is nearly complete and, with production processes in place, it expects to test its manufacturing facilities soon. If Ubik Mobile doesn't hit its Kickstarter goal of $200,000, it may increase the price of the phone slightly and move forward anyway. The company said it will poll users through its web site as to what features it should include in future devices. They'll be able to choose from a bigger battery, thinner profile, and other potential features.


Google+ Photos to Go Dark August 1

Jul 21, 2015, 7:09 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google has announced plans to shutter the Google+ Photos app and online service on August 1. Google+ Photos was a part of Google+, the search company's social network. Google+ Photos is being replaced by Google Photos, which Google launched earlier this year. Google said all Google+ Photos users' images and videos will be preserved, even if users don't port them to the new Google Photos service. Google Photos includes more features than Google+ Photos did, and offers unlimited storage for image libraries. People who've already updated to the newer Google Photos app and service don't need to take any action. Google Photos is free to download from the Play Store and iTunes App Store for Android and iOS devices, respectively.


Instagram Adds Search to Web Site

Jul 20, 2015, 1:50 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Jul 20, 2015, 1:54 PM

Instagram today made it possible to search the desktop version of its web site. People can search for usernames, hashtags, and keywords when using Instagram.com. The web site is still not as full-featured as the Android and iOS mobile apps. Moreover, users need to be signed in in order for the search tool to appear. Instagram is free to use.


Sprint Spreads the LG Tribute 2 to Virgin and Sprint Prepaid

Jul 20, 2015, 10:02 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint today announced the LG Tribute 2 is now available from Virgin Mobile and Sprint Prepaid. The Tribute 2 has LG's signature rear-placed buttons, 1.2 GHz quad-core processor, LTE, Bluetooth, and WiFi. It runs Android 5.1 Lollipop with LG's Knock Code, QuickMemo, and selfie camera tools. The screen measures 4.5 inches and offers 854 x 480 resolution. The Tribute 2 also includes a 5-megapixel main camera, VGA front camera, 1 GB of RAM, and 8 GB of ROM. Virgin Mobile is selling the phone as the LG Tribute 2, but Sprint Prepaid has rebranded it to the Tribute Duo. It costs $99. Sprint-owned Boost Mobile is already selling the Tribute 2.


Microsoft's Hyperlapse App Now Works with All Lumias

Jul 20, 2015, 7:21 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Microsoft recently updated its Hyperlapse time-lapse application for Windows Phone and Android devices. The Windows Phone version of Hyperlapse is now compatible with all Lumia handsets. It had previously not worked with older devices running the Qualcomm S4 processor (Lumia 520, 620, 720, 920, 925, and 1020). Microsoft also updated the Android version of Hyperlapse. At launch in May, Hyperlapse for Android was released as a limited, closed beta. It is now available to all Android users for free. Hyperlapse can be used to stabilize shaky footage or to create fast-moving time-lapse videos. The app supports multiple playback speeds (between 1x and 32x) and can import existing video files from the phone's camera roll. Hyperlapse app is available from the Windows Store and the Google Play Store.


Google's Inbox App Makes Snoozing Smarter

Jul 17, 2015, 7:04 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google has updated its Inbox app for Android devices and improved how the snoozing function works. Now, when users choose to snooze a message, they'll be given the option to let the message return at exactly the right time if it contains dated information. For example, the message will reappear if Google sees that the message contains concert tickets or hotel reservations. Inbox can now scan for and manage package tracking updates, restaurant and event reservations, calendar invites, flight confirmations, hotel reservations, and rental car reservations. A one-tap option will snooze such emails until just before the event takes place. Inbox, an alternative to Gmail, is free to download from the Google Play Store.


Samsung Reveals the Galaxy J1 for TracFone

Jul 16, 2015, 1:12 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung today published details about the Galaxy J1, an entry-level handset headed to TracFone. The J1 features a 4.3-inch screen, 1.2GHz quad-core processor, 5-megapixel main camera with LED flash, and 2-megapixel user-facing camera. The J1 can capture 720p HD video. The phone supports Bluetooth and WiFi. It ships with Android 4.4 KitKat. Pricing and availability details weren't immediately released. TracFone is a prepaid provider that sells phones via Walmart stores.


Microsoft Updates OneNote for Android and iOS

Jul 16, 2015, 1:02 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Microsoft today released updates to its OneNote application for the Android and iOS platforms. The Android version of OneNote gains the ability to move or copy pages from one section or notebook to another section or notebook. Microsoft said it will add the ability to view OneNote documents on Android Wear-based devices in the near future. The iOS version of OneNote has been merged from separate iPhone and iPad apps into a single app for both devices. New features include a widget for the today screen, the ability to quickly find recent notes, and page previews. OneNote for Android and iOS is free to download from the Google Play Store and iTunes App Store, respectively.


HBO Now Extends Streaming to Android

Jul 16, 2015, 9:33 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

HBO today said its HBO Now streaming service is finally available to Android handsets and tablets. The service costs $14.99 per month and does not require an associated cable subscription. It launched in April on iOS and includes HBO's entire catalog of television and movie content. HBO Now is also available to Amazon's Fire-branded tablets beginning today, and will reach Amazon's Fire TV soon.

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Marshall Debuts the London, Its First Smartphone

Jul 16, 2015, 8:23 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Marshall Headphones today announced the London, an Android smartphone that puts music features in the front row. Marshall designed the phone to evoke the look and feel of its analog guitar amplifiers. The phone has stereo speakers with independent amplifiers and a Wolfson WM8281 Audio Hub sound card that's able to play high-resolution audio. The London features a global 5-band equalizer for dialing in the perfect sound, and a dedicated M-Button on top takes the London straight to your favorite songs. The phone has two headphone jacks that lets two people listen at once, and a scroll wheel to let users find the perfect volume level. Dual microphones capture stereo sound and help eliminate background noise. The phone will have a deejay application, too, for spinning tunes. It supports the aptX Bluetooth profile for the best-possible wireless music experience. The London has a 4.7-inch 720p screen, Snapdragon 410 processor, 2 GB of RAM, and 16 GB of storage. It supports microSD cards up to 128 GB. The London has an 8-megapixel main camera and a 2-megapixel user-facing camera. Wireless radios include GPS, dual-band WiFi, and global LTE bands. The 2,500mAh battery is removable. The London costs about $585 and will begin shipping next month. Marshall didn't say if the London will be made available in the U.S.


HTC Bringing the One M9+ to Europe

Jul 16, 2015, 2:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

HTC today said it plans to expand availability of the One M9+ outside of Asia to select European markets. The One M9+ is a slightly larger version of the M9 that has different camera and processor configuration. The design is similar to that of the One M9, including the metal materials and BoomSound stereo speakers. The screen measures 5.2 inches and has quad HD resolution (the M9 has a 5-inch full HD screen). The phone is powered by a MediaTek Helio X10 processor with eight cores clocked at 2.2 GHz (the M9 has a Qualcomm processor). The phone has 3 GB of RAM and 32 GB of internal storage, with support for memory cards up to 128 GB. The M9+ has a 20-megapixel main camera with a 2-megapixel secondary camera to capture depth-of-field information (similar to the One M8). The front camera relies on HTC's ultrapixel design. HTC gave the One M9+ a fingerprint sensor, which is positioned on the front of the phone in the home button. Connectivity options include Bluetooth, NFC, GPS, WiFi, and LTE. The phone ships with Android 5.0 Lollipop and Sense 7. Pricing and availability will be announced by individual carriers. HTC hasn't said if the phone will be sold in the U.S.


Google Testing 'Purchases on Google' Within Search

Jul 15, 2015, 1:26 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google has begun testing a way to let people make purchases directly from search results. The feature, called Purchases on Google, will tap into users' saved purchasing credentials to pay for goods and services found on the web. Moreover, Google will sift through search results based on moderators, such as "best" and others to make product recommendations. Because the service supports deep linking, users who select a search result will be taken directly to the product purchasing web page. In addition to online merchants, Google will support local stores via the phone's GPS data. Purchases on Google will be tied into Android Pay when the service launches later this year. Google did not say how broadly Purchases on Google is being tested, nor who will be able to use it.


HTML5-Based OS Looking to Supplant Android

Jul 15, 2015, 8:05 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

H5OS is a new mobile operating system that intends to challenge Google's Android. H5OS was developed by Acadine Technologies, a Hong Kong-based startup founded by former Mozilla President Li Gong. The operating system is based on HTML5, a standardized web programming language that can support light-weight apps. Acadine Technologies was formed in May and has raised $100 million in seed funding from Chinese supporters. Acadine's Gong doesn't expect H5OS to reach the market until 2016, but he believes it can supplant Android in certain device segments. "Our web-based mobile software is lighter and consumes less power and memory compared to Google's Android," said Gong in an interview with the Wall Street Journal. "It requires lower hardware specifications to deliver the same user experience so it can bring down the smartphone cost. Another advantage is that H5OS is a truly open mobile ecosystem without default services like Google Maps and Google Search. We can work with any content and service providers, offering more customization options to device makers." Android is the global leader in mobile operating systems and Apple's iOS is a distant second. Windows Phone and BlackBerry hardly register, and other competitors, such as Jolla's Sailfish OS and Canonical's Ubuntu, have struggled to gain any significant traction. Gong believes H5OS can succeed in the ultra-low-cost smartphone and feature phone segments.


Hands On with the HTC Desire 626S and 520/526

Jul 15, 2015, 2:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

HTC today announced several new additions to its Desire line of mid-range Android handsets. These devices tout style and affordability with a middling set of specs. More importantly, they'll be sold by virtually all U.S. carriers. Here are our initial impressions.

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