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Justice Department Pushes Courts for Action On AT&T Appeal

Today, 7:16 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

The Justice Department has asked the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals to prioritize its appeal against last month's decision regarding AT&T's acquisition of Time Warner. A single judge ruled in AT&T's favor after the Justice Department sued over the acquisition. AT&T completed the acquisition within days of the decision, but that didn't stop the Justice Department from filing an appeal. Though AT&T completed its purchase of Time Warner, it is holding off on finalizing its acquisition of Turner Networks, which owns CNN, HLN, TBS, TNT, and others, until February 2019. The Justice Department suggests that any delay in the court system will make it more difficult for the companies to disengage from one another should the appeal be successful. The Justice Department argues that the judge who presided over the case ignored "fundamental economic principles" when making his decision. It went on to suggest that AT&T will hold new power over rivals to negotiate contracts for Time Warner's content that will in the end lead to higher prices for consumers. AT&T said it was "surprised" by the Justice Department's plan to appeal.


Corning Designed Gorilla Glass 6 to Better Handle Real-World Drops

Yesterday, 12:36 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Corning today announced Gorilla Glass 6, an improved version of its toughened glass for mobile devices. Corning specifically engineered Gorilla Glass 6 to better handle drops. The company claims the glass can survive 15 drops onto rough surfaces made from a height of one meter. The glass can withstand drops from higher heights than Gorilla Glass 5. The glass of today's devices is most often damaged when dropped from about waist height. Gorilla Glass 6 is 0.8mm thick, and yet still retains strength and opacity. The company says it improved its testing methods to account for different impact surfaces and angles to ensure it could strengthen the glass. Gorilla Glass 6 is equivalent to previous generations of Gorilla Glass when it comes to scratch resistance. It will be up to individual mobile device makers to cover their displays with Gorilla Glass 6. Gorilla Glass 6 is already in production.

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Latest iOS 12 Betas Reach Developers and Public Testers

Yesterday, 12:19 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple has made new betas of iOS 12 available to its developer community and public testers. iOS 12 developer beta 4 was released earlier this week and iOS 12 public beta 3 was released today. The updated betas are cleaner than their respective predecessors; Apple didn't spell out any specific changes. iOS 12 includes a number of new features, such as improved notifications, memoji for the iPhone X, performance refinements, Screen Time for monitoring usage, and better security. The final version of iOS 12 won't arrive until the fall.


Instagram Hoping to Deploy 2FA that Doesn't Rely on SMS

Yesterday, 8:29 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Instagram is working on a new way for users to securely log in to their accounts without relying on SMS for verification. Instagram's one-and-only two-factor authentication method requires users to provide their phone number, to which a verification code is sent via SMS. This method is at risk due to the rise in phone number theft, wherein hackers reassign a phone number to a different SIM card and then use it to receive these verification codes and steal access to apps, services, and identity. Instagram confirmed to TechCrunch that it is working on a new two-factor system that relies on a special code. "We’re continuing to improve the security of Instagram accounts, including strengthening 2-factor authentication," said the company. Instagram didn't say when the service might become available to the public.


MediaTek Debuts Helio A Series to Bolster Mid-Range Phones

Yesterday, 7:34 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

MediaTek has announced the Helio A22, the first in the company's new Helio A series system-on-a-chip designs. The Helio A series slots in below the Helio P series and will bring premium features down to mid-market devices. MediaTek says the A22 is built using its 12nm FinFET process with multiple cores able to fine-tune processing and power needs. The A22 is compatible with both LPDDR3 and LPDDR4 memory, providing device makers with flexibility. It includes supports for the Google Android Neural Networks API, which means AI apps can run on devices powered by the Helio A22. The SoC improves camera support to a dual-camera system with a 13+8-megapixel configuration or a single camera at 21 megapixels. It can capture full HD video at 30 frames per second and supports HD+ displays at aspect ratios up to 20:9. On the connectivity side, the Helio A22 supports Cat 4 LTE, dual 4G SIMs with VoLTE/ViLTE, 802.11ac WiFi, and Bluetooth 5.0. Last, the Helio A22 makes improvements to GNSS location capabilities, providing 57% faster pinpoint times with 10% better accuracy and 24% lower power requirements. MediaTek says the Helio A22 is already in production and will first appear in the Xiaomi Redmi 6A in China.


OnePlus 6 Gains Camera Tweaks, Google Lens via Update

Tuesday, 5:13 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

OnePlus has begun distributing OxygenOS 5.1.9 to the OnePlus 6 phone. The update improves the camera, with better image quality, beauty mode for selfie portraits, and Google Lens for image-based search. The update adds group MMS support to the messaging app. Performance tweaks include WiFi optimization and Bluetooth car connection stability upgrades, as well as fixes for certain accidental touches. Last, the new build of OxygenOS updates the security patch to July. OnePlus says the system update is rolling out slowly over the next few days.


Google Hopes Visual Snapshot Will Boost Google Assistant's Appeal

Tuesday, 12:31 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today announced an update to Google Assistant that will see the service displaying a snapshot of users' agendas. The visual overview can be accessed by a new button that appears in the Google Assistant app for Android. On iOS devices, the new snapshot tool will appear automatically. Google says the snapshot will focus on things such as travel times for meetings and appointments, though it will also offer information on agenda items, reminders, reservations, stock portfolios, bills, packages, and suggested actions. Google plans to add more useful features to snapshot over time, such as notes and lists, parking reminders, and podcast recommendations. Google Assistant may also send notifications to ensure people don't miss future events. Google Assistant with the new visual snapshot feature is rolling out to Android and iOS devices this week.


Verizon Ceases Activating 3G Phones On Its CDMA Network

Tuesday, 11:35 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless will no longer activate 3G CDMA devices on its network as it moves towards sunsetting the legacy service. "For several years we've been publicly saying that our 3G CDMA network will remain available through the end of 2019. Virtually all traffic on our network is on our 4G LTE network," said the company in a statement provided to Droid Life. "To facilitate a smooth transition to 4G LTE capable products and services, we are no longer allowing devices that are not 4G LTE capable to be activated on our network." Verizon has previously said it will shut down its 3G network by December 31, 2019. It is common for carriers to discontinue older or outdated networks and re-farm the spectrum for newer technology. Verizon says it will launch 5G before the end of the year.


Review: Motorola Moto Z3 Play

Tuesday, 11:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Motorola's third-generation Z Play brings the series up to speed with its competition. This mid-range Android phone switches to a 2:1 screen shape and offers a fingerprint reader and face unlock for security. Pair these with Motorola's wide variety of Moto Mod accessories and a clean build of Android, and the Z3 Play is a flexible option for those who like unlocked phones. Here is Phone Scoop's in-depth review.

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GOP Rep Makes Move to Resuscitate Net Neutrality

Tuesday, 9:07 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Colorado Representative Mike Coffman, a Republican, is the first member of the GOP to take a real stand for net neutrality. Today Coffman signed a discharge petition in an attempt to force a vote on the Congressional Review Act resolution with the aim of reversing FCC Chairman Ajit Pai's repeal of net neutrality regulations. Coffman is also introducing his own net neutrality legislation, though it has virtually no chance of passing in the Senate. The FCC's repeal of the Obama-era net neutrality rules went into effect June 11. Chairman Pai believes the industry will be able to regulate itself. Others don't see it that way.


T-Mobile Offers World Travelers More Options

Tuesday, 8:32 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today updated its Simple Global plan, expanding the number of countries in which customers can access service. T-Mobile customers have long been able to use unlimited (2G) data and texting in more than 140 countries. Beginning July 22, that number swells to more than 210 countries. The company is also making high-speed data available in those same countries for a low daily rate. Beginning August 1, T-Mobile customers can pay $5 per day for up to 512 MB of LTE data and unlimited calling between all Simple Global countries. Simple Global is included in all T-Mobile One plans.


Samsung's 8 Gb LPDDR5 DRAM Module Targets Mobile Artificial Intelligence

Tuesday, 7:12 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung today announced what it says is the first 10nm 8 Gb LPDDR5 DRAM module for mobile devices. The new memory chip can push data at 6,400 Mbps, or 50% faster than current chips. The DRAM module can operate in two bandwidths to aid in compatibility with circuit designs. The module makes its gains by doubling the number of memory bank subdivisions from eight to 16, which lets it run faster while also using 30% less power. Samsung claims the 10nm 8 Gb LPDDR5 DRAM module will assist with mobile artificial intelligence and 5G applications. The company has finalized testing of the chip and will begin manufacturing it in its home market of Korea for devices as needed.


AT&T Prepaid Now Selling the LG Phoenix Plus

Monday, 2:34 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T has kicked off sales of the LG Phoenix Plus, a variant of the K10 announced earlier this year. The Phoenix Plus has a U-shaped metal frame with a 5.3-inch, 720p display and a 1.5 GHz, octa-core Snapdragon 425 processor with 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB of storage. The phone features an 8-megapixel main camera and a 5-megapixel front camera. The selfie camera can capture bokeh-style shots. LG said the phone has new Low Light Noise functionality that improve low-light photography. Other features include a 3,000mAh battery, fingerprint reader, NFC, LTE, GPS, Bluetooth 4.2, WiFi, FM radio, microUSB, and Android 8.1 Oreo. AT&T Prepaid sells the LG Phoenix Plus for $130.


Apple to Bring More Emoji to iPhone Later This Year

Monday, 12:15 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Monday, 12:19 PM

Apple today committed to adopting more than 70 new emoji. The Unicode Consortium announced Unicode 11, which includes dozens of new emoji, in February and made the final version available in June. Apple says new emoji characters will soon grace the iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and Mac. Unicode 11 brings new representation for emoji with options for red hair, gray hair, curly hair, and no hair, as well as more food, animals, sports, and other items. Apple didn't specifically say Unicode 11 will be added to iOS 12, but that is the route Apple is most likely to pursue. iOS 12 is already in beta testing and will be distributed to iOS devices in September or October.


Huawei Says GPU Turbo Update to Boost Mate 10 Pro, P20 Pro Performance

Monday, 9:07 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Tuesday, 3:58 PM

Huawei today announced plans to tweak the graphics performance of its phones. The company will update a number of devices with what it calls GPU Turbo, a graphics processing technology that lets phones run GPU-intense apps, such as games, faster and more efficiently. Huawei claims that GPU Turbo optimizes system software and hardware resources to improve GPU efficiency by 60% while lowering power consumption by 30% thanks to its re-architected method for handling graphics. The end result is a noticeable upgrade in device performance without forcing users to buy a new phone in order to run the latest games and apps. Huawei plans to roll the update out to its flagship devices, the Mate 10, Mate 10 Pro, P20, and P20 Pro in August, with other devices to follow later in the year.


ZTE Allowed to Return to Business

Jul 13, 2018, 12:02 PM   by Rich Brome

The U.S. Commerce Department has lifted its ban on U.S. companies doing business with Chinese phone and telecom equipment maker ZTE. The company can now resume operations, after all but shutting down since April due to the ban. The company is highly dependent on U.S. companies, including Qualcomm and Google, for its smartphone chips and software. The deal to lift the ban was done at the instruction of President Trump, and includes a $1 billion fine and a complete change of ZTE leadership. Today's action marks the end of a years-long saga that started when ZTE was caught selling equipment to North Korea and Iran in violation of a U.S. embargo.


FCC Chair Outlines 5G Auction Plan

Jul 13, 2018, 9:12 AM   by Rich Brome

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai this week announced his plan for auctioning off five specific swaths of millimeter-wave spectrum for 5G services. While industry leaders have been calling for one auction process, Pai is proposing three auctions between November and the end of 2019. The auction for the 28 GHz band would start November 14th, with the 24GHz auction to follow "immediately afterward". A unified auction for the 37 GHz, 39 GHz, and 47 GHz bands would happen in the second half of 2019. The plan also calls for dividing up the 37 GHz, 39 GHz, and 47 GHz bands into uniform 100 MHz license blocks, so they can more easily be auctioned together. A "cleanup" of the 39 GHz band would precede the latter auction. The 39 GHz band is currently used for point-to-point microwave, including wireless backhaul for mobile networks. The plan will be voted on at the FCC's August 2nd meeting.


Sony Brings 2:1 Display to its Midrange with Xperia XA2 Plus

Jul 12, 2018, 10:06 AM   by Rich Brome

Sony this week announced the Xperia XA2 Plus, a new mid-range phone with a tall 2:1 ratio display, hi-res audio, and 23-megapixel Sony Exmor RS for mobile camera with 4K video capture. The 6-inch display has Full HD+ resolution and is protected by Gorilla Glass 5. It also has a Qualcomm Snapdragon 630 processor, large 3,580 mAh battery, rear fingerprint reader, fast charging, and an 8-megapixel wide-angle front camera. It will be available in Silver, Black, Gold and Green in late August.

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