OnePlus today began delivering Android 9 Pie to its flagship phone, the OnePlus 6. The company had been testing a beta version of the new operating system from Google for several weeks. Android 9 Pie carries with it a brand new user interface, adaptive battery support, and revised gesture navigation. It adds a reworked Do Not Disturb mode, as well as a new Gaming Mode. The update also improves text and call notifications, and allows people to adjust the accent color. Last, the update includes the September security patch from Google. Android 9 Pie is free for owners of the OnePlus 6 to download and install. The company is rolling it out over the next few days.
Samsung has begun notifying customers that starting December 17, 2018, they'll no longer be able to send Call Stickers via their Samsung's phone application. Call Stickers, introduced with the Galaxy S8 and S8+, allowed people to send stickers as their caller ID when calling other Samsung devices. Similarly, people with Samsung phones to reject calls with a sticker. Samsung says customers who have purchased Call Stickers through the Galaxy App Store can request compensation for their purchase as long as the request is filed before June 15, 2019. Samsung thanked its customers for using Call Stickers. Samsung sold off the Call Stickers business earlier this year.
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AT&T today said it plans to expand its retail footprint around the country with the addition of 1,000 new stores. The new outlets will take several different forms. For example, the company says it will launch about 100 pop-up stores, which are smaller and more flexible, in densely populated urban areas, including inside apartment buildings. The company will boost the number of mobile stores to 150 by the end of the year. Mobile stores are typically contained in a vehicle and can be driven to events or areas that need help during emergencies. Beyond these, AT&T says it will sprinkle hundreds of stores in smaller cities and towns around the country. AT&T claims its retail stores have performed consistently well and it sees them as a way to reach more people around the country. AT&T hasn't said exactly where the new stores will spring up.
Verizon Wireless today announced the GizmoWatch, a second-generation smart wearable that targets children ages 3 to 11. The device is primarily meant to serve as a location tracker for parents. Using the free Android and iOS apps, parents can view their child's real-time location, set geo-fences, and receive alerts should the child stray outside of designated zones. Parents can also control the device's uptime and ensure that it is quiet during school hours. The wearable runs on Verizon's LTE 4G network and can receive calls from up to 10 parent-approved numbers. The GizmoWatch includes 20 preset text messages that kids can send to their contacts. Kids will be able to track their steps, as well as use a voice-changer app for fun. Verizon says the GizmoWatch battery lasts between three and four days. The GizmoWatch, available starting today, costs $180 and requires a $5 monthly fee for connectivity.
Samsung today announced the Galaxy A7, an addition to its mid-range roster that is the first to feature three cameras on the back. The triple-camera array includes a 24-megapixel main sensor at f/1.7, an 8-megapixel wide-angle sensor at f/2.4, and a 5-megapixel depth-sensing camera at f/2.2 for bokeh and other effects. The camera has the ability to detect scenes and adjust automatically to create better photos. The A7 relies on a metal-and-glass design and features an Infinity Display measuring 6 inches with full HD+ resolution on front. Dolby Atmos ensures the A7 delivers a great sound experience. A 2.2 GHz octa-core processor powers the phone, which ships with either 4 or 6 GB of RAM and 64 or 128 GB of storage. It has a 3,300mAh battery and a slew of radios, including Bluetooth 5.0, WiFi, GPS, NFC, and Cat 6 LTE. The fingerprint reader is located on the side edge and a 24-megapixel selfie camera on front allows for Selfie Focus shots with studio effects and Samsung's AR emoji. Samsung plans to sell the Galaxy A7 in Asian markets first, followed by European and other markets. Samsung didn't say if it intends to bring the A7 to the U.S., and the company didn't specify which LTE bands the phone supports. Samsung recently launched the Galaxy A6 in the U.S.
Apple has updated its Apple Music application for Android devices and improved the app's usefulness in the car. Android device owners can now access their Apple Music service through the Android Auto user interface in the car. Apple Music also offers search by lyrics using a few words to find songs. The app tosses in a new artist page, letting people view artist information and play artist's hits with a tap, and the friends mix, which shows a playlist of songs liked by friends. Last, Apple Music for Android now includes the Top 100 songs from around the world. Apple Music is free to download from the Google Play Store.
LifeProof has designed a fresh case specifically for the Samsung Galaxy Note9. The LifeProof Next claims to be drop-, dirt-, and snowproof. Considering the vertigo-inducing cost of the Galaxy Note9, it’s worth protecting in a case.
Twitter today said it has improved the experience of watching and responding to videos. Before today, users were forced to tap out of a fullscreen video before they could send a reply. Now, a bar appears at the bottom of the screen that people can tap to send a response. This action calls up the keyboard while still playing the video above it, allowing people to write while they watch. This functionality is available in the latest version of the mobile Twitter app.
Google and T-Mobile are working together to ensure that T-Mobile customers' location is more accurately pinpointed when calling 911 emergency services. About 80% of the annual 240 million 911 calls in the U.S. are made via cell phones. Where landlines can point to an exact address for emergency services, cell phones often provide only a general location that can be off by hundreds of feet. Google and T-Mobile have been looking to solve this problem for four years. Moving forward, Android devices running on T-Mobile's network will use the RapidSOS system. RapidSOS's internet protocol-based pipeline can share location data with 911 centers quickly and securely. This newer system integrates with 911 centers' existing software to more finely pinpoint location. This user location data cannot be used for non-emergency purposes and 911 centers will only have access to location during 911 emergency calls. RapidSOS is operating in about 1,000 of the country's 5,700 911 call centers. RapidSOS is available to all 911 centers, though there's no word on when the rest will adopt it. By law, wireless network operators are required to locate callers within 50 meters 80% of the time, but not until 2021. Google and T-Mobile claim RapidSOS reduces the average location radius from more than 500 feet down to 122 feet. This is within the range mandated by the FCC. Apple adopted RapidSOS with the release of iOS 12, allowing iPhones to provide similarly accurate location data to 911 call centers.
Samsung has made several new AR Emoji characters available to the Galaxy S9, S9+, and Note9. The new animated emoji come from Disney's movie Zootopia and include Judy Hopps, Nick Wilde, and Flash. These characters join others such as Disney classics Mickey and Minnie, as well as several from Frozen and The Incredibles. Samsung's AR Emoji allow people to animate avatars with their own facial expressions to create unique messages. The new characters are available from the camera app and the Galaxy Apps Store.
A new bipartisan bill in the Senate would see ZTE smacked with heavy fines if it were to violate its settlement agreement with the U.S. ZTE reached an accord with the U.S. earlier this year over its skirting of prior settlement agreements. The company paid a hefty fine and agreed to put an additional $400 million in escrow, as well as replace most of its management. The deal was largely brokered by the Trump administration and allowed ZTE to resume business operations after the U.S. government banned it from using U.S.-made hardware and software. Despite support from the Trump administration, the deal was not popular among some members of congress. That’s why three Republican and three Democratic senators introduced a bill this week that would cause ZTE to forfeit the $400 million in escrow if it violates its new agreement. The authors of the bill want to see reports from ZTE concerning its compliance every 90 days. "This bipartisan legislation would ensure that if ZTE once again violates trade restrictions or its agreement with the U.S., it will be held accountable in a significant, painful way," said lead sponsor of the bill, Senator Mark Warner, who also serves on the Senate Intelligence Committee. The bill still needs to pass the Senate, the House of Representatives, and be signed by the President before it could be considered law.
Google today said iPhone users can opt for Google’s Maps instead of Apple Maps when using their CarPlay-equipped automobile. Apple added support for third-party apps to CarPlay in the recently-released iOS 12 platform. Google has updated its navigation app in order to make it compatible with iOS 12 and Apple’s CarPlay system. Google says Maps via CarPlay supports seamless transitions from Maps on the iPhone to Maps via CarPlay; point-to-point navigation with real-time traffic updates and rerouting; offline maps for use in spotty coverage areas; and support for saved lists/favorites. Google says Maps should be available in most vehicles that include CarPlay, though it suggests users check online to view Apple’s list of compatible vehicles.
Google today indicated that it is nixing its standalone YouTube Gaming mobile app and will instead house gaming content in a new section on YouTube. The YouTube Gaming app first debuted in 2015 and was meant to compete with Twitch for streamed games. Google found the app simply wasn’t the hit it hoped. “We have 200 million people that are logged in, watching gaming content every single day,” said Ryan Wyatt, YouTube’s Director of Gaming Content and Partnerships, to TechCrunch. “And the majority of them, quite frankly, are just not using the YouTube Gaming app for their gaming experiences.” Instead, those people are watching game streams via the regular YouTube app or web site. As such, the YouTube Gaming app is being sunset and will go offline next spring. The new space for gaming content is youtube.com/gaming.
Google today said it has added tools to its Family Link service, giving parents more control over how their kids use mobile devices. To start, Family Link is expanding to teens. The service initially targeted children under the age of 13, but now supports those over the age of 13. Family Link makes it possible for parents to manage screen time, veto apps, and shutter features. Google says that parents can supervise their teen's existing Google Account, though teens have the power to turn off supervision if they wish (this generates a parental alert). Family Link is also baking in better support for Chromebooks. Parents can manage their teens and pre-teens by restricting web sites and account settings. Soon, parents will also be able to set screen time limits and manage Chromebook apps. Google says these features are rolling out over the next few weeks.
Google has partnered with the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance, which plans to embed the Android operating system in cars starting in 2021. The Alliance will add Android to its cars' dashboard navigation system. It will feature Google Maps with turn-by-turn navigation, access to automotive apps in the Google Play Store, as well as the ability to answer calls/texts, control music playback, perform searches, and issue voice commands via Google Assistant. In addition to the in-car integrations, the Alliance plans to add Google cloud-based systems to further enhance their cars through unique user interface elements and features specific to each of the three brands. This UI will be build on top of Android. Moreover, the Alliance Intelligent Cloud will offer secure connectivity, data management, and over-the-air upgrades and remote diagnostics. The Alliance said the system will be compatible with both Android and iOS mobile devices. The auto brands didn't say which models might be first to ship with Android Auto on board.
Twitter says it has heard the people and will accommodate their number one request: the ability to view tweets in the order they were published. This generally means in reverse chronological order, which is how Twitter operated until 2016 when it introduced the algorithmic feed. The company made the announcement in a thread on Twitter. "We’re working on new ways to give you more control over your timeline," said the social network. "We’ve learned that when showing the best Tweets first, people find Twitter more relevant and useful. However, we've heard feedback from people who at times prefer to see the most recent Tweets. Our goal with the timeline is to balance showing you the most recent Tweets with the best Tweets you’re likely to care about, but we don’t always get this balance right. So, we’re working on providing you with an easily accessible way to switch between a timeline of Tweets that are most relevant for you and a timeline of the latest Tweets." The company said it will test this feature over the next few weeks, but didn't provide specifics concerning how it might work.
Along with the release of iOS 12, Apple has updated its GarageBand app with more tools for music makers. To start, the latest version of GarageBand includes a fresh collection of Touch Instruments and Drummer Apple Loops. Apple says these let musicians shape their sounds and performances after they've been added to any given project. This version of GarageBand now supports the import and playback of MIDI files, something that's been on users' wishlists for a ling time. Apple also took the time to provide stability improvements and bug fixes. GarageBand is free to download from the iTunes App Store.
The new Apple Books reading app is now available to iPhones and iPads in the iTunes App Store. This app replaces the former iBooks app and is what iOS users will use moving forward for consuming books and other materials. Some of the new features include a Reading Now tab, which is a collection of the books being read or listened to by users. The Want to Read tool lets people manage wishlists of books, while the Complete the Series function offers suggestions based on previously read books. Apple Books more prominently calls out audiobooks, simplifying the process of listening on an iPhone, iPad, or via CarPlay. The Book Store tab includes new ways to browse via best-seller charts, staff picks, editorial recommendations, and special offers. Apple says the more people browse, buy, read, and listen via the app, the better the Apple Books store will be able to offer personalized recommendations. The new Apple Books app requires iOS 12, which was distributed to iPhones and iPads earlier this week.