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Review: Soundcore Motion Q Bluetooth Speaker

Friday, 2:00 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

The Motion Q from Soundcore is a small, portable Bluetooth speaker that’s rugged, waterproof, and inexpensive. If you’re looking for a cheap beach companion to enhance the last few days of summer, this could be it.

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BlackBerry Updates Core Android Apps for Key2 and Others

Friday, 12:24 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

BlackBerry today announced updates to many of its productivity apps for Android devices. For example, the BlackBerry calendar now offers a month view with a refined picker for selecting times/dates when creating appointments. The contacts app is streamlined with automatic field population to speed up the process of creating new contacts. BlackBerry’s DTEK security software sees a significant number of updates. For example, the app’s home screen has been overhauled with a new dashboard to better show the phone’s stauts. Notifications and applications can be more finely tuned via new permissions settings. Further, DTEK will scan the phone at least once per week to make sure the device is up to date. The privacy shade should be easier to turn on thanks to new home screen controls, and the power management center should be more efficient and offer more useful alerts. All these apps are free to download individually from the Google Play Store.

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HTC Offering Red Version of U12+ to US Consumers

Friday, 9:37 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

HTC today made its flagship phone available in a third color option. Consumers interested in a red phone can now pick that instead of black or blue. The red U12+ carries the same $799 retail price as the others. Other than the color, the specs of the phone are unchanged. The U12+ has a 6-inch quad HD+ screen, Snapdragon 845 processor, dual cameras on front and back, and Cat 18 LTE. The red U12+ is only available from HTC.com. HTC experts the phone to ship in September.

Verizon and Nokia Complete Mobile 5G Call Handoff

Friday, 8:16 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless today said that together with partner Nokia it has completed a mobile 5G call with the receiving device moving from one cell to another. This is an important step in the development of 5G, as it will eventually allow people to use 5G devices freely when moving around outside. Verizon says it completed the test at Nokia's Murray Hill, NJ, location using the 3GPP New Radio (NR) 5G standard. It used two radios on Nokia's building to broadcast 28 GHz (mmWave) to a receiver in a moving vehicle. Verizon says the vehicle traveled between the two radio coverage zones and made a successful handoff from one to the other. Verizon is preparing to deploy fixed 5G service as an in-home broadband replacement later this year. It won't launch mobile 5G service, which this test covered, until 2019.

OnePlus Scores Carrier Deal with T-Mobile for 6T Flagship

Friday, 7:19 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile will sell OnePlus' next flagship phone, the OnePlus 6T, in October according to CNET. OnePlus has said twice this year already that it is working with U.S. carriers. This would mark the first time OnePlus has scored a carrier distribution deal in the U.S. To-date, OnePlus has marketed and sold its phones to U.S. consumers online. Citing people familiar with the company's plans, CNET reports that OnePlus will create a version of the 6T specifically for T-Mobile's network, including support for T-Mobile's 600 MHz spectrum (Band 71). The 6T will still be sold online unlocked with support for either AT&T or T-Mobile, in addition to global carriers. Pricing for the phone is expected to be around $550. Other features of the phone were not revealed. OnePlus releases two phones each year. The OnePlus 6 arrived in May and the company's second phone is expected in the October timeframe.

Gmail's Confidential Mode Reaches Mobile Phones

Thursday, 12:50 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today said that confidential mode, which can help protect sensitive information from unauthorized access, is available via the mobile Gmail app. Users will need to enable confidential mode when composing an email. Emails sent via confidential mode can be revoked at any time, or set to expire after a specific period. People who receive confidential emails won't be able to forward, copy, print, or download them. Google points out that confidential mode cannot stop people from taking screen shots of confidential emails. The updated mobile Gmail app is being distributed via the Google Play Store over the next few days.

Google Tweaks Search Results to Provide More Useful Details

Thursday, 12:42 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today updated the way it displays search results in order to surface a more complete picture of search subjects. Rather than simply supply a list of links, Google is introducing new panels with a set of relevant subtopics for additional information. In the example provided by Google, people to search for "quartz vs. granite" will discover not only where they can buy those materials, but also comparisons of the two materials and how they apply to home renovations. Google says the new format is "meant to help guide you with what we understand to be common, useful aspects of the topic and help you sift through the information available." The panels are created automatically based on related content from around the web. Google says people should begin to notice the panels in search results over the next few days.

Google Intros Spec for Streaming Audio from Android Phones to Hearing Aids

Thursday, 12:25 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today said that it partnered with GN Hearing to create an open specification meant to stream audio to hearing aids. The published spec is called Audio Streaming for Hearing Aids (ASHA) on Bluetooth Low Energy Connection-Oriented Channels. Google says the spec will allow hearing aid users to connect their phone to the aid, monitor battery life, and listen to any audio content from their phone. Google says it created the spec to ensure connections have minimal impact on battery life and provide low latency for near instant response time between the phone and the hearing aid. Google said it expects to add ASHA to a future version of Android down the road. Since the spec is open, any hearing aid manufacturer can build in native update the spec over time.

Latest Version of Android Messages Adopts a Dark Theme

Thursday, 12:04 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google is rolling out a new version of its Android Messages application and given the app a fresh coat of paint. To start, the "+" button has been removed in favor of a "start chat" button, making it clearer for people to use. The app also adopts Google's Material Design, which means some changes to the fonts and coloring. A new toggle allows people to switch to a new dark theme that features a black background and light-colored text. The app is rolling out slowly. Android Messages is free to download from the Google Play Store.

Sony Details Which Phones Will Receive Android 9 Pie

Thursday, 10:27 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sony plans to begin updating a number of its mobile phones to Android 9 Pie beginning in November. The devices first on deck for the refreshed operating system from Google are Sony's flagships, the Xperia XZ2, XZ2 Premium, XZ2 Compact, Xperia XZ Premium, XZ1, and XZ1 Compact. Sony says the mid-range XA2, XA2 Ultra, and XA2 Plus devices will receive Android 9 in early 2019. Android 9 Pie introduces machine learning and more predictive behaviors to the OS, as well as a Digital Wellbeing suite meant to help people use their devices less. Pie is already available to the Google Pixel phones. Motorola also recently committed to updating some of its phones to Pie.

Google Taking Steps to Improve Quality of Android Wear OS Apps

Thursday, 7:31 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google is prepared to begin screening all apps submitted to the Android Wear OS Play Store in a bid to bolster quality. For the moment, submitting Wear OS apps for review is optional. Beginning later this year it will be mandatory. Google says all new Wear OS apps submitted after October 1 will have to go through the review process. Existing apps will be reviewed after March 4, 2019. The review process itself is not being changed. Updates to mobile apps will not be blocked if the Wear OS variant fails review. One of the requirements is the ability of the app to support screenshots, which Google explains will help with discovery in the Google Play Store. Google also wants to ensure that apps will run on both round and square screens. "We hope this lightweight app review process will improve the quality of Wear app experiences across the wide range of devices available to your users," said Google.

Project Fi to Nix Text Forwarding Feature In September

Thursday, 7:22 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google has begun alerting subscribers to its Project Fi service that the text forwarding feature will be turned off on September 12. As it works now, texts sent to Project Fi can be automatically forwarded to most any other number. Google didn't say why the feature is being turned off, although call forwarding will remain available to Fit subscribers. Google suggests those who use the text forwarding feature review their settings ahead of the shutdown.

Best Buy to Aquire Maker of Jitterbug Phones for $800 Million

Thursday, 7:08 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Best Buy has agreed to acquire GreatCall, the parent company of Jitterbug, for $800 million. Best Buy says the two companies have had a retail relationship for a decade, with Jitterbug phones available at many Best Buy locations. Jitterbug phones are targeted at seniors and are easy to use. In addition to the Jitterbug devices, GreatCall offers customers an easy way to connect with a healthcare professional or emergency services. Best Buy said it plans to use the acquisition expressly to expand into the growing health services market. Once the acquisition is complete, GreatCall will operate as an independent company and CEO David Inns will remain at the helm. GreatCall will stay in its San Diego headquarters. The acquisition is subject to regulatory approval.

Review: Samsung Galaxy Note9

Thursday, 6:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

The Galaxy Note9 from Samsung is a powerful and impressive piece of hardware. This Android phone offers a massive screen, a giant battery, and a killer set of cameras. The stylus defines the Note series and Samsung has made the S Pen even more useful thanks to new features. Here is Phone Scoop's in-depth review of the Samsung Galaxy Note9.

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Apple Pushes iOS 12 Beta 8 to Developers

Wednesday, 1:38 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple has made iOS 12 Beta 8 available to developers. Beta 8 appears after Apple pulled Beta 7, which introduced performance problems to devices earlier this week. The new beta resolves the issues that appeared in Beta 7. Apple didn't spell out any other specific changes in this build other than bug fixes and improvements. 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 September or October. A new public beta is expected to arrive later this week.

Google Rolls Out Google One, Its Upgraded Cloud Storage

Wednesday, 1:01 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today made Google One generally available to anyone who wishes to use it. Google One is the company's new online storage service; it supplants Google Drive. All Google Drive users are being automatically upgraded to the new Google One, which offers tiers of storage at various price point. All users get 15 GB for free, while 100 GB costs $2 per month, 200 GB costs $3 per month, and 2 TB costs $10 per month. Google One also includes access to Google experts 24/7 to help with things such as file recovery. Other benefits include credits on Google Play and deals on hotels booked through Google Search. Google One can also be shared with family members, who will each be given access to their own storage under a single monthly bill. Google says it will expand Google One to more regions and add more features over time.

Google to Update Android Go with Pie for Performance

Wednesday, 12:51 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today said it plans to release a new version of Android Go based on the Android 9 Pie platform. The current version of Android Go, Google's slimmed-down variant of Android for low-cost devices, is based on Android 8 Oreo. Chiefly, the revised version of Android Go tackles performance. It will allow for faster device boot times and offers about 500 MB of additional on-device storage. It also introduces verified boot for additional security and a new dashboard for tracking and monitoring data consumption. Google has been busy updating the Android Go version of its core apps, as well. For example, Google Go now offers the ability to read web pages aloud and highlights each word as it goes. YouTube Go uses less data, Maps Go includes offline navigation, Files Go permits peer-to-peer file transfers, Assistant Go supports additional languages as well as more device actions, and Android Messages is 50% smaller and includes caller ID and spam detection. Google expects to release the Android Go Pie edition on new devices later this fall.

Motorola Commits to Updating Some Phones to Android 9 Pie

Wednesday, 11:09 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Motorola today said it plans to update a handful of its phones to Android 9 Pie beginning later this fall. The phones on deck to receive the updated platform include the Moto Z3, Z3 Play, Z2 Force, Z2 Play, X4, G6 Plus, G6, and G6 Play. Motorola said the distribution of Pie will depend a bit on the carrier and country. Android 9 Pie was made available to Google's own Pixel phones earlier this month. Other phone makers that have committed to providing Pie include Essential, Sony, and OnePlus.

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