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Anti-ZTE Clause Stricken from Defense Bill

Friday, 1:31 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Friday, 1:40 PM

Senators have overturned an agreement added to the National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, that would have made it more difficult for President Trump to remove the ban instituted against ZTE. Earlier this year, the Commerce Department said ZTE lied about a previous settlement and banned the company from using American parts or software in its phonres for a period of seven years. The ban crippled ZTE, but was eventually overturned by the Trump administration. ZTE got back to business earlier this month. Seeking to block Trump from easing up on the ban, members of the Senate added language to the NDAA that sould have made it difficult for Trump to get around the ban. It didn’t work. Now that Trump the administration and Commerce Department have agreed to let ZTE return to business, members of the Senate have removed the anti-ZTE language from the NDAA. "By stripping the Senate’s tough ZTE sanctions provision from the defense bill, President Trump — and the congressional Republicans who acted at his behest — have once again made President Xi and the Chinese Government the big winners," said Senator Chuck Schumer in a statement. The NDAA is vital legislation that must be passed every year in order to ensure the Department of Defense is funded.


AT&T Names More 5G Markets and Expands LTE-LAA

Friday, 8:22 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T today added Charlotte and Raleigh, N.C. and Oklahoma City to its list of 5G launch markets. AT&T expects to kick off 5G service in more than a dozen markets, including Dallas and Waco, Texas, and Atlanta, Ga., by the end of the year. Further, AT&T has expanded its LTE-LAA footprint from seven markets to parts of 15 markets. LTE-LAA can push speeds to theoretical a max of 1 Gbps. The new LTE-LAA markets are Austin, Dallas, Houston, Little Rock, San Antonio, San Jose, Tampa, and Tuscaloosa, Ala. AT&T hopes to have LTE-LAA up and running in 24 markets by the end of the year. Last, AT&T says its baseline 5G Evolution technology is now live in more than 140 markets, and is on track to reach more than 400 markets this year. The company says its 5G Evolution technology — which is not 5G — can deliver theoretical speeds up to 400 Mbps to properly equipped phones.


Facebook, Google, Microsoft to Make It Easier to Port Data Between Services

Friday, 7:35 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Facebook and partners today announced the Data Transfer Project, an initiate with the goal of giving people more control over their data. The companies are working together to create an open source method that people can use to easily transfer their data from one service to another. For example, the tool would make it possible for a Google Photos uses to swap their image library to Microsoft OneDrive and any other provider. The Data Transfer Project hopes to do this in a way that is simple, secure, and supported by as many services as possible. While Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Twitter are the first to lend support, the initiative is open to all companies. "If a user wants to switch to another product or service because they think it is better, they should be able to do so as easily as possible. This concept of allowing users to choose products and services based on choice, rather than being locked in, helps drive innovation and facilitates competition," said the companies in their white paper. The participants admit it is early days for the project and they haven't said when the DTP might be available to the public. Consumers often choose an ecosystem — Android, iOS, macOS, Windows, et al — when buying hardware. The DTP could make it simpler for people to change ecosystems when upgrading to new devices.


Instagram Brings Presence to Direct Messaging Tool

Thursday, 1:09 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Instagram users can now see when their friends are online. The latest version of the mobile app includes a presence feature, placing a green dot next to the account names of those who are actively using the app. The idea is meant to encourage private conversations through Instagram's direct messaging functionality. Instagram says people will only see the real-time online status of friends who follow them back, or who have traded messages with them before. People can hide their own status and turn off the ability to see others' status if they so wish. The new feature is reaching mobile devices over the days ahead.


Justice Department Pushes Courts for Action On AT&T Appeal

Thursday, 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

Wednesday, 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.


Latest iOS 12 Betas Reach Developers and Public Testers

Wednesday, 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

Wednesday, 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

Wednesday, 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

Jul 17, 2018, 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

Jul 17, 2018, 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

Jul 17, 2018, 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.


GOP Rep Makes Move to Resuscitate Net Neutrality

Jul 17, 2018, 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

Jul 17, 2018, 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

Jul 17, 2018, 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

Jul 16, 2018, 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

Jul 16, 2018, 12:15 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Jul 16, 2018, 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

Jul 16, 2018, 9:07 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Jul 17, 2018, 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.


Sprint Hikes Prices with Revamped Unlimited Plans

Jul 12, 2018, 9:26 AM   by Rich Brome

Sprint today announced new "Unlimited Plus" and "Unlimited Basic" plans. Unlimited Plus replaces the old Unlimited Freedom plan and raises the price from $60 to $70 per month for the first line. Additional lines are discounted, down to $42 per line for a family of five. Like the old Unlimited Freedom, Unlimited Plus offers HD video streaming and Hulu, however Tidal music streaming is now included, and the mobile hotspot allowance has increased from 10 GB to 15 GB. A limited-time offer slashes the price of Unlimited Plus by $20 per line if customers bring their own phone or buy one at full price, instead of leasing a phone from Sprint. That works out to $50/month for one line, or as little as $22/line for five lines. A new Unlimited Basic plan costs the same as the old Unlimited Freedom plan, but offers less. Video streaming is limited to SD resolution, music streaming is limited to to 500kbps, and mobile hotspot data is throttled after 0.5 GB. Unlimited Basic includes Hulu, but not Tidal. Unlimited Basic runs $60/month for the first line. Additional-line discounts bring the price per line down to $32/month for a family of five. There is no discount for using a non-leased phone, meaning Unlimited Plus is temporarily $10/line cheaper than Unlimited Basic with a non-leased phone. The new plans will be available starting tomorrow, July 13th.


Google Pay Gains Ticketing, Friend Payments

Jul 10, 2018, 11:24 AM   by Rich Brome

Google today released a major update to the Google Pay app and service. Google Pay now supports one-time tickets with QR codes, such as airline boarding passes and concert tickets. In the app, they appear in a new "Passes" tab, along with loyalty and gift cards. The Google Pay app also now lets you send money to friends, a feature that was previously available only with a separate Google Pay send app. Now that Google Pay Send is combined with Google Pay, the new unified app also supports bill splitting. You can tap on any recent payment and a "Split the cost" button lets you request money from up to five people. An iOS version of Google Pay supports these friend payments. Google also revamped the Google Pay web site.


Update to iOS 11 Aims to Prevent Hacking via USB

Jul 10, 2018, 7:56 AM   by Rich Brome

Apple has released iOS 11.4.1, which improves stability and the Find My AirPods feature. It also introduces USB Restricted Mode, a feature designed to prevent a third party from attempting unauthorized access to a locked iPhone via the Lightning port and USB. When the phone has been locked for a full hour, all USB access is disabled. However, security researchers at ElcomSoft have discovered that attaching any USB device to the iPhone will reset this 1-hour clock, providing a an easy workaround for any third party that comes into possession of the phone within an hour of its last use. A new toggle in the settings lets users disable this security feature.


Vivo Launches All-Screen NEX Phone Outside China

Jul 9, 2018, 8:43 AM   by Rich Brome   updated Jul 9, 2018, 1:41 PM

Vivo today announced that its all-screen NEX flagship phone will be launching this month in Russia, India, Malaysia, Hong Kong and Taiwan, making it available in the global unlocked market. The international model supports LTE bands 2/4/5/12/25/26/41, meaning basic support for AT&T and T-Mobile networks, as well as full support for the CDMA and LTE bands used by Sprint. The NEX has a truly all-screen design. To avoid employing a notch, the speaker and fingerprint reader are both built into the screen, and the 8-megapixel selfie camera slides up from the top of the phone when in use. The AMOLED screen measures 6.59 inches and has FHD+ (2316x1080) resolution. The premium model is powered by a top-end Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor paired with 8 GB of RAM. The battery is large at 4,000 mAh. The 12-megapixel main camera features 4-axis optical stabilization and a secondary 5-megapixel sensor. It's available with either 128 or 256 GB of internal storage. A cheaper NEX model has the same all-screen design, but a standard fingerprint reader on the back, a Qualcomm 710 processor, 6 GB of RAM, and no support for Sprint bands.

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ZTE Makes Progress Toward Resuming Business

Jul 6, 2018, 8:36 AM   by Rich Brome

ZTE has now replaced four of its top leaders (CEO, CFO, CTO, and head of HR) and its entire board of directors, as required by a tentative deal with the U.S. government. The company has also agreed to pay a $1 billion fine. With these steps complete, the U.S. Commerce Dept. may soon lift the sales ban that has forced the company to suspend all operations since April. In the meantime, the government has granted ZTE a one-month waiver allowing it to resume providing support for its products for the month of July. While ZTE is Chinese company, it is highly dependent on U.S. suppliers — including Qualcomm and Google — which is why the Commerce Dept.'s ban on doing business with U.S. companies has effectively shut down the company. The deal to lift the ban was announced last month, and has President Trump's strong support. In Congress, the Senate version of a pending defense-policy bill would override the Commerce Dept. and keep the sales ban in place. The House version of the bill does not contain that language, a difference that remains to be reconciled.


Light Working on Phone with Nine Cameras

Jul 3, 2018, 9:00 AM   by Rich Brome

Light — the company that currently makes a 16-lens light field camera — has revealed that it's in the final stages of putting its technology into phones. Current prototype phones have an array of five to nine cameras on the back. The company recently showed working prototypes to The Washington Post. "It says its phone design is capable of capturing 64 megapixel shots, better low-light performance and sophisticated depth effects." Light says a phone using this technology will be announced later this year.


HTC Lays off 22%

Jul 3, 2018, 8:49 AM   by Rich Brome

HTC is laying off 1,500 employees (out of 6,450 worldwide) from its manufacturing division in Taiwan. This comes after the company transferred 2,000 employees to Google in a deal earlier this year, and laid off 2,300 employees in 2015. The company has been struggling to find profitability, and has been losing market share in the mobile space for years.


New Security Flaw Found in LTE Standard

Jul 3, 2018, 8:38 AM   by Rich Brome

Researchers have recently discovered a new security vulnerability affecting all 4G LTE networks. The so-called "aLTEr" attack could allow someone nearby to send your phone's browser to a web site different than the one requested, impersonating your bank's web site, for example. Similarly, it could trick an app into connecting to a different back-end service. aLTEr requires that the attacker use $4,000 equipment and be within about a mile of the victim, among other challenges. Although a successful attack is difficult, it could be used against high-value targets such as politicians, military personnel, journalists, employees of corporate rivals, etc. The flaw is inherent in the LTE standard and unlikely to be fixed. However, because aLTEr relies on DNS spoofing, it can be avoided by only using web sites and services that employ both HTTPS and DNSSEC. Currently, less than 1% of .com web sites employ DNSSEC, although many high-value sites do use it.


Instagram Now Lets You Know When You're "Caught Up"

Jul 2, 2018, 1:22 PM   by Rich Brome

Instagram today announced a new feature that lets you know when you've seen everything posted in the past two days in your main Instagram feed. The "You're All Caught Up" message will appear below the last new and unseen post, with viewed and older posts appearing below the new message. The feature is available in both Android and iOS versions of the Instagram app today.


Android P Reaches "Early Release Candidate" with Beta 3

Jul 2, 2018, 1:13 PM   by Rich Brome

Google today released Android P beta version 3 for developers. This "early release candidate" "takes us very close to what you'll see in the final version of Android P", according to Google. It's available today for Google Pixel phones that have opted into the Android beta program. The final version of Android P will be available "later this summer". It brings richer interactive notifications, the ability for third-party apps to make use of dual cameras, standardized support for display "notches", and indoor positioning using Wi-Fi. It also incorporates changes to improve security, privacy, and accessibility.


Xfiinity Mobile Revises Unlimited Plan to Limit Video and Hotspot

Jul 2, 2018, 8:54 AM   by Rich Brome

Comcast's Xfinity Mobile has changed the terms of its Unlimited Plan to limit video resolution to 480p (non-HD), and throttle personal hotspot speeds to "3G speeds" (600 Kbps). The company plans to offer an option for higher video resolution for an extra fee, but not until "later this year". Video resolution limits are not uncommon with unlimited data plans. T-Mobile pioneered the practice. Comcast claims the changes are necessary in order to maintain the current plan prices. Xfinity Mobile operates as an MVNO using the Verizon network.


OnePlus 6 Comes In New Red Finish

Jul 2, 2018, 8:33 AM   by Rich Brome

OnePlus today announced a new red color option for its OnePlus 6 phone. This red special edition also features a new six-layer glass back to enhance the color, including an ”anti-reflective layer to create a sense of depth” and a translucent orange layer. It will come in just one memory configuration: 8 GB of RAM and 128 GB of storage. It will sell for $579, the same price as other colors with that memory option. The OnePlus 6 is a high-end unlocked phone with a metal body, 6.3” AMOLED display with a notch, water resistance, excellent support for US LTE networks, and a Snapdragon 845 processor. Sales commence July 10th.


Motorola Moto Z3 Play Certified to Run On Verizon's Network

Jun 29, 2018, 12:22 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless today added the Motorola Moto Z3 Play to its list of certified devices. This means the Z3 Play was tested by Verizon in its labs and passed Verizon's network performance requirements. Verizon itself does not sell the Moto Z3 Play, but you can buy the phone unlocked and bring it to a Verizon store for activation. The Z3 Play is available from Motorola.com, Best Buy, B&H Photo, and Amazon starting today. The phone adopts a 6-inch 2:1 screen, and is made form a slim metal-and-glass chassis. It is compatible with Motorola's Moto Mods accessories and includes either a speaker or battery. The phone costs $499. The Moto Z3 Play will be sold by Sprint and U.S. Cellular later this summer.


Verizon and Verizon Prepaid Offering Samsung Galaxy J3

Jun 29, 2018, 12:12 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Jun 29, 2018, 12:12 PM

Verizon Wireless today added the Samsung Galaxy J3 to its lineup of postpaid and prepaid phones. The Galaxy J3, announced earlier this month, has a 5-inch HD display, 8-megapixel main camera at f/1.9, and a 5-megapixel selfie cam at f/2.2. The J3 has a 2,600mAh battery and includes Android 8 Oreo, 2 GB of memory, 16 GB of storage, Bluetooth 4.2, and WiFi. It is powered by an octa-core Exynos processor. This phone includes Samsung's Easy Mode UI skin for bigger fonts and icons and offers the Bixby Home app for learned recommendations. The phone is available as the Galaxy J3 V via Verizon's postpaid service for $168, or $7 per month. It is available as the Galaxy J3 3rd Gen via Verizon's prepaid service for $124.


Apple to Rebuild Maps from Scratch Using Its Own Data

Jun 29, 2018, 11:52 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple hopes to improve its Apple Maps app and service by rebuilding them from the ground up with all new data. Apple launched Maps six years ago relying on data from third-party providers such as TomTom. The launch was shaky at best, as the map data was often incorrect or out of date. Apple promised to improve Maps over time, and it did. Four years ago, however, Apple decided to wholly reimagine maps by starting over. Apple has its own fleet of cars to gather information, and it is using "segments of trips you take that have been anonymized," according to TechCrunch. This information comes directly from iPhone owners and is used by Apple to determine the validity of routes and whether or not there's traffic congestion. Apple says the data is completely anonymous and only ever takes a small picture of an entire trip without recording the beginning and end points. Even so, iPhone owners can opt out of the data collection using the privacy settings in Maps. Eventually, users will begin to see more information in maps, such as foliage markers, parking lots, pools, sports complexes, accurate building shapes, and pedestrian pathways. Apple says it has thousands of people working all over the world to improve maps. Apple is going to launch the new map data in the Bay Area in early July, with a broader rollout in Northern California expected with the arrival of iOS 12 in the fall. Apple didn't say when state- or country-level maps will be available.


Qualcomm Debuts New Bluetooth SoC for Cheaper Truly Wireless Buds

Jun 29, 2018, 7:59 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Qualcomm wants to bring truly wireless Bluetooth to lower cost ear buds. The company today introduced the QCC3026, a new Bluetooth Audio system-on-a-chip that device makers can use to quickly build new products. Qualcomm says the QCC3026 was made to help device makers balance functionality and cost. The QCC3026 reduces power consumption by up to 50% when compared to earlier generation chips. It is specifically aimed at phone makers that may have to remove the headphone jacks from their phones. Qualcomm believes phone makers will be able to design "quality sounding [Bluetooth] earbuds at a cost point that allows them to package them in the box" along with the phone. The QCC3026 now serves as an alternative to Qualcomm's high-end QCC5100 Bluetooth SoC, which was announced early this year. Oppo has already committed to using the new SoC for buds to be included with its flagship Find X phone.


ZTE Prepping Overhauled Board to Get Past US Ban

Jun 29, 2018, 7:27 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

ZTE is nearly ready to install a new board of directors, a step required by the U.S. Department of Commerce if the company wants to end the ban on U.S. supplies. The company held its annual general meeting in Shenzhen this week where shareholders voted on this and other matters. ZTE is expected to name eight new members to its board. In April, the Commerce Department banned ZTE from using U.S. parts and software, crippling the company. On June 7, the Commerce Department said it would end the ban as long as ZTE pays $1 billion fine, puts $400 million into escrow, and replaces its leadership. In addition to the new board, the Commerce Department wants all executives at or above the senior vice president level to be fired, along with any execs who played a role in the wrongdoing. ZTE will also have to put in place a U.S.-appointed compliance officer. The company has already paid the $1 billion fine. Once all these steps are taken, ZTE will have met the Commerce Department's conditions. Even if it does, it is unclear when the company might be allowed to get back to business. A number of senators and congressmen want the ban to remain in place. Since the ban went into effect, ZTE has been largely idle. Its shares have dropped 60%, erasing $11 billion from its valuation. The new board may be voted in as soon as today.


Verizon to Kill Off Its Go90 App

Jun 29, 2018, 7:11 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon says it will shut down go90, its mobile video service, by the end of July. The service launched in 2015 as a free option for consuming video via mobile devices. The service never found a real audience. "Following the creation of Oath, go90 will be discontinued," said Verizon in a statement provided to Reuters. "Verizon will focus on building its digital-first brands at scale in sports, finance, news and entertainment for today's mobile consumers and tomorrow’s 5G applications." Oath is Verizon's content branch and encompasses apps and services from the former AOL and Yahoo brands. Verizon has begun informing its content providers about go90's imminent closure and said it will return all rights back to its production partners.


AT&T to Pay the FCC $5.25M Fine Over 911 Outages

Jun 28, 2018, 3:35 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T has agreed to pay a fine of $5.25 million to the FCC for its failure to connect 911 calls during two short periods last year. The FCC called the 5-hour outage in March 2017 and 47-minute outage in May 2017, during which some 12,600 and 2,600 911 emergency calls failed, respectively, unacceptable. “The FCC’s investigation found that, during the March outage, the company failed to quickly, clearly, and fully notify all affected 911 call centers,” said the FCC. “Such preventable outages are unacceptable. Robust and reliable 911 service is a national priority, as repeatedly expressed by both Congress and the Commission. Carriers have a responsibility to both prevent outages and, if they do take place, quickly inform the Commission and affected 911 call centers.” In addition to the fine, AT&T will implement new measures to ensure it makes the proper notifications should future outages occur.


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