Google is adding full support for most braille displays directly to Android 13. Phones with Android 13 will support this important accessibility hardware without needing any extra software like BrailleBack. Google is also improving the braille experience on Android with new shortcuts. "Now there are shortcuts for navigating so it's easier to scroll and move to the next character, word or line. There are also shortcuts for settings and for editing, like jumping to the end of documents or selecting, copying and pasting." The braille features are part of Talkback, the accessibility suite that assists blind and low-vision users. The new braille support will roll out first as part of the next beta version of Android 13.
Qualcomm has taken the wraps off the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 and Snapdragon 7 Gen 1. The Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 is, as its name implies, a turbo-charged version of the existing Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 flagship chip. The CPU has 10% faster performance and 30% better power efficiency. The GPU has 10% faster clock speeds and 30% better power efficiency. The AI engine has 20% better power efficiency. Overall, the chip is 15% more power-efficient. All other specs and features are identical to the 8 Gen 1. The Snapdragon 7 Gen 1 is the first 7-series chip to get Qualcomm's new single-digit naming scheme. It has 20% faster graphics rendering and 30% better AI performance compared to the Snapdragon 778G it replaces. It brings a number of premium features down to the 7 series for the first time, including 3GPP Release 16 5G (with the X62 modem, supporting speeds up to 4.4 Gbps), Qualcomm's Trust Management Engine, Android Ready SE, and up to 200 megapixel photo capture. Its Spectra triple ISP also supports 14-bit processing, 4K HDR video capture, triple active cameras, and 4K staggered HDR image sensors. It supports up to QHD+ display resolution, or 144 Hz refresh at FHD+ resolution. Its FastConnect 6900 subsystem supports Bluetooth 5.3, LE Audio, dual Bluetooth antennas, and Wi-Fi 6E at up to 3.6 Gbps. The CPU runs at up to 2.4 GHz and the chip is made with a 4nm manufacturing process. Both chips are expected to be included in new phones shipping in a just a few weeks, before the end of the second quarter.
Visible has added flagship Samsungs to the list of phones for which it supports activation via eSIM. New customers with a Samsung S22 series, S21 series, or Note20 series Samsung phone can now start mobile service with Visible "in as little as 15 minutes" by simply downloading the Visible app to sign up and activate their phone, with no physical SIM card required. Visible already supports eSIMs on newer Apple iPhones and Google Pixel phones. Visible says it has an "ongoing commitment to become a fully eSIM-based wireless carrier." Visible offers 5G service on the Verizon network, and the company is backed by Verizon.
Motorola has a new affordable 5G phone that they're calling simply "moto g 5G". It has a 50 megapixel camera with a wide array of Motorola's distinct camera software features. It also has some extras like 90 Hz display refresh and a fingerprint reader. But it's a pretty straightforward-seeming phone overall. But what is it like in person? We walk you through the details in this hands-on report.
A new software update for the LG Wing adds support for Verizon's C-Band (mid-band) 5G network. The update reflects LG's commitment to continue supporting its phones despite quitting the phone business.
For Global Accessibility Awareness Day, Apple is announcing several new accessibility features coming to iOS "later this year", possibly in iOS 16. A new feature called Door Detection uses the camera and LiDAR sensor in higher-end iPhones and iPads to help blind or low vision users "locate a door upon arriving at a new destination, understand how far they are from it, and describe door attributes — including if it is open or closed, and when it’s closed, whether it can be opened by pushing, turning a knob, or pulling a handle." Door Detection will be added to Detection Mode in the Magnifier app. Apple will also be adding system-wide Live Captions for all audio sources, including FaceTime calls. Google has offered a similar feature since 2020. Finally, Apple is Apple Watch Mirroring, which helps users control Apple Watch remotely from their paired iPhone. This feature helps users who might have difficulty with the smaller touch screen of the Apple Watch.
Apple has released iOS 15.5, which adds the ability for Apple Cash users to send and receive money, as well as automatic storage management for Podcasts. It also patches a long list of potentially serious security vulnerabilities.
Verizon is raising the monthly costs for its postpaid wireless customers by increasing the "administrative fee" from $1.35 to $3.30 per line. The fee applies to voice lines and Verizon says it covers "administrative and telco expenses and costs of complying with regulatory requirements".
Boost Mobile has rolled out a new app called BoostOne that lets customers earn credits toward their bill by playing games, watching videos, and "engaging with ... partners to complete offers". By playing games like "Spin & Win", users earn blockchain-backed "Boostcoins". Boostcoins can then be redeemed for discounted and free wireless service. "In the future, Boost expects the coins may be used for additional goods and services like free phones, other third-party products and exchanged with other users." The BoostOne app is available now for Android and iOS.
Google is revamping the user interface of Android Auto, again. Split-screen mode will now be standard on all screen types and sizes, giving users immediate access to functions such as audio, messages, and maps, all on one screen. The interface will also flow to fill different screen shapes better, including ultra-wide and portrait displays. The new version of Android Auto will also update Google Assistant with new "contextual suggestions" for actions such as suggested replies, sharing arrival times with a friend, and playing recommended music. The new Android Auto will roll out "in the coming months".
Google has announced that it will bring end-to-end encryption to group conversations in its RCS-based Messages app, starting with an open beta "later this year". End-to-end encryption is already available for one-on-one conversations.
Google has introduced a new feature in Android that will let health and fitness apps securely access and share one unified set of health and fitness data across Android devices. The new Health Connect platform and API provides a central place on the device to store data such as activity, sleep, nutrition, body measurements, and vitals like heart rate and blood pressure. It also includes security, privacy, and permission features that give users "granular controls". Users must give permission for each app to have access, and users "will have the ability to shut off access or delete data they don't want on their device, and the option to prioritize one data source over another when using multiple apps." Google has developed Health Connect in partnership with Samsung. MyFitnessPal, Leap Fitness, and Withings have already started working with the platform, and it is now available to all developers.
At its I/O developer event today, Google gave the world a teasing glimpse of its forthcoming Pixel 7 phones and all-new Pixel Watch, both coming this fall. The new Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro will feature an evolution of the Pixel 6 design that includes a 100% recycled aluminum frame that wraps uninterrupted around the sides and across the camera bar. It will be powered by a "next-generation" Google Tensor SoC chip. The 7 Pro will have three rear cameras, while the non-Pro version appears to have two. Various slides showed three different colors: white, grey, and a very light green. The Pixel Watch matches recent leaks, sporting a completely round design with a rotating crown (dial) on the side. The body will be made from recycled stainless steel and support interchangeable bands. It will run an "improved" WearOS with integrated Fitbit features, including continuous heart-rate tracking as well as sleep tracking. It will integrate smart-home controls, and features like Maps and Wallet will work even when you leave your phone at home. It will be available around the same time as the Pixel 7 series phones, some time "this fall".
Google today announced the Pixel Buds Pro, the company's first wireless earbuds with ANC (active noise cancellation). Like most competing buds, they offer a Transparency Mode that lets you hear your surroundings if you wish. A custom six-core processor chip designed by Google powers a custom ANC algorithm that includes Silent Seal, a feature that detects and compensates for poorly-sealed tips. The beam-forming microphones are aided by a noise suppression algorithm that insures you can be heard clearly on a call. The buds also support multi-point, for smooth transitions across multiple source devices. Each bud also has independent Find My Device support in case one or both buds are lost. A future update will add support for Spatial Audio. The buds will last for up to 11 hours of listening time, or 7 with ANC on. They ship July 28th for $199 and will be available in four colors. Pre-orders start July 21, the same date as the new Pixel 6a.
Google has taken the wraps off its newest more-affordable Pixel, the Pixel 6a. In contrast to the growing size of other recent Pixel models, the 6a has a relatively compact 6.1-inch display. It shares the same distinctive design as the pricier Pixel 6 series models, the same Google Tensor processor chip, and same Titan M2 security chip as the higher-end Pixel 6 series. It has two rear cameras: standard and wide, both 12 megapixel. It also has a recycled aluminum frame and under-display fingerprint reader. It will receive five years of security updates. The Google Pixel 6a will be available in black, white, and green for $449 unlocked. Pre-orders start July 21st and it ships on the 28th. AT&T and T-Mobile will sell the standard Pixel 6a. Verizon will also carry it — with support for Verizon's mmWave and C-Band 5G networks — although this version will sell for $500.
In the coming weeks, Google will roll out a new app called Google Wallet that replaces the G Pay / Google Pay feature of Android. It will continue to support digital credit and debit cards, boarding passes, tickets, transit cards, vaccine cards, and student IDs. But Google is finally adding official support for state and government ID cards, including Digital Driver's Licenses in the US. You will be able to present your Digital Driver's License to authorities via NFC or QR code. Google is also working to add office and hotel keys. The name change reflects the ambition that it could completely replace a physical wallet.
Google will update Android and Chrome this summer to automatically use a one-time virtual credit card number when entering credit card info using auto-fill. The feature reduces the chances that you will be the victim of credit card fraud due to a data breach.
Sony has revealed its latest flagship phone, the Xperia 1 IV. It's the world's first phone with a true optical zoom lens that can adjust seamlessly from 85 to 125mm. The phone also has standard (24mm) and wide (16mm) lenses. All three lenses have the same 12 megapixel, 1/1.7" Exmor RS sensor with "Eye AF" 60 fps continuous auto-focus and exposure, and the ability to shoot 4K HDR video at up to 120 fps. The standard and zoom lens also have OIS. There's also a dedicated shutter button. The front camera has been upgraded with a larger 12 megapixel sensor. Several features let you use the phone together with a professional Sony Alpha camera. Every other spec and feature is top-end. The Xperia 1 IV also has an OLED display with 4K resolution, HDR, and 120 Hz refresh. It's powered by Qualcomm's top-end Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor paired with 12 GB of RAM. It has 512 GB storage and a memory card slot. It also has a 5,000 mAh battery and two-way wireless charging. The body features Gorilla Glass Victus on the front and back, with a frosted finish on the back. It's also rated IP65/68 for water and dust. It has a 3.5mm headphone jack, stereo speakers, 360 Reality Audio, High-Resolution Audio, and is "ready for" Bluetooth LE Audio. The Xperia 1 IV has excellent support for Verizon and T-Mobile 5G and 4G networks in the US, including mmWave 5G, as well as Wi-Fi 6E. It will come with Android 12. Color options include black and purple (available exclusively from Sony's web site.) It will ship September 1st, 2022 and is priced at $1,600. Pre-orders start today and, for a limited time, include Sony's latest WF-1000XM4 true wireless noise cancelling earbuds (a $280 value.)
AT&T is the first US carrier to launch location-based routing of 911 emergency calls to the appropriate call centers on a nationwide basis. Previously, 911 calls were routed to call centers based on the cell tower location, and then a more precise phone location transmitted to that call center. But one cell tower can cover an area with up to a ten mile radius, so in border areas where state, county or city boundaries overlap, 911 calls were sometimes routed to the wrong call center, causing delays in emergency response. With this new technology — called "Locate Before Route" from Intrado — a more precise phone location (within 50 meters) is used to decide which call center should receive the call, enabling a more efficient emergency response. AT&T has deployed the technology in 17 states and territories; the nationwide rollout is scheduled to be completed by the end of June.
The FCC has issued the necessary licenses that will allow AST SpaceMobile to launch and test its unique direct-from-space cellular service within the US. Unlike existing satellite-phone technology, AST's BlueWalker 3 test satellite is designed to communicate directly with off-the-shelf mobile phones using standard cellular technologies like 4G, and standard cellular frequencies. The service is intended to provide service where or when cellular networks are not available.
Apple, Google, and Microsoft today announced new enhancements to the FIDO standard, as well as a renewed commitment to encouraging the use of the FIDO standard on their respective platforms. FIDO allows easy login to devices, platforms, and apps using methods like a phone's fingerprint reader, for logins that are easier, faster, as well as more secure. The enhanced standard will allow users to automatically access their FIDO credentials "on many of their devices, even new ones, without having to reenroll every account." It will also "Enable users to use FIDO authentication on their mobile device to sign in to an app or website on a nearby device, regardless of the OS platform or browser they are running."
Dish has officially launched its own, from-scratch 5G network for paying customers in Las Vegas. Unlike its existing Boost-branded service, the new network currently operates under the Project Genesis brand. The company only offers the 2022 Motorola Edge Plus for now, which is personally delivered to new customers by a Project Genesis concierge. Service costs $30/month for unlimited service. The company is racing to meet an FCC deadline to offer service to 20 percent of the country by June.
Samsung Semiconductor has announced its first UFS 4.0 chips, which will provide internal storage for future phones that its both much faster and more power-efficient. The chips will be come in capacities up to 1 TB. UFS 4.0 offers a speed of up to 23.2 Gbps per lane, double that of UFS 3.1, the existing standard. Samsung will start mass production of the chips in the third quarter of this year.
Some AT&T customers on older service plans will see a price hike of up to $6/line. AT&T is encouraging customers to upgrade to new plans "which offer many additional features, more flexibility for each line on their account and, in many cases, a lower monthly cost".
Motorola has a new edition of its mid-range, big-screen phone with a stylus. It has 120 Hz display refresh, an unprecedented feature in this price range. It also fixes two issues with its predecessor: a slow processor and lack of NFC. Otherwise, it seems pretty similar on paper. But what's it like in person? Read on for our hands-on first impressions and photos.
Apple customers can now directly purchase iPhone repair kits and genuine Apple replacement parts for iPhone 12, iPhone 13, and the newest iPhone SE. Apple announced Self Service Repair in November 2021 and Google and Samsung have since announced similar programs.
Android 13 has reached the public beta phase on the road toward a final release some time after July. Android 13 Beta 1 is available now for eligible Pixel phones. The first preview release was made available to developers in February. It introduced a new photo picker, themed app icons, and better quick settings tiles for third-party apps. The new Beta 1 introduces more granular permissions for media file access. This means that apps requesting access to your audio files will not also be granted access to your photos and videos, for example. Google promises they will have "more to share" about Android 13 at next month's Google I/O event starting May 11th.
The FCC has launched an official proceeding to investigate how it can best address the issue of radio receiver performance. The FCC has historically regulated radio transmitters, but paid little attention to the technical aspects of radio receivers. Specifically, poor filters can leave radio receivers susceptible to interference from transmitters using nearby frequencies. The FCC has addressed this issue in the past by leaving "guard bands" of empty radio spectrum between various bands it designates for specific uses. But large guard bands are an inefficient use of increasingly-precious radio spectrum. This issue flared up in a dramatic fashion with the recent launch of 5G in the C Band. The FAA raised last-minute objections saying that the FCC's guard band for C Band was inadequate to protect against interference with planes' radio altimeters, some of which may have poorly-performing filters. The FCC will now explore its legal options to regulate receivers, as well as "incentives, industry-led voluntary approaches, and Commission policy and guidance". The goal is to "take a fresh look at ... how improved receiver performance can promote more efficient spectrum use and enable valuable new services to be introduced that will benefit the American public."
Motorola has announced two new mid-range phones with 5G. Both are essentially 5G upgrades of existing 4G models already announced for 2022. Both will come to a wide range of US carriers, including AT&T, Cricket, Boost, US Cellular, and Xfinity Mobile. Both have a 50 megapixel main camera, 5,000 mAh battery, 10-watt fast charging, fast-refresh display, water resistance, fingerprint reader, expandable storage, and a headset jack.
- The moto g stylus 5G (2022) has a three key upgrades compared to both last year's model and this year's 4G model: a 120 Hz display (a first for the g series in the US), a Snapdragon 695 chip, and NFC. The LCD display measures 6.8 inches with FHD+ resolution. The phone also has an 8 megapixel wide/macro camera and 16 megapixel front camera. Naturally, it has a built-in stylus. While the base version has 4 GB RAM and 128 GB storage, versions will also be available with 6 or 8 GB RAM and 256 GB storage. Verizon will also offer a version with mmWave 5G. Motorola will sell it unlocked for $500 starting April 28th. Carriers are expected to sell it for less, at dates to be announced. It will come in two colors: seafoam green and steel blue.
- The moto g 5G is essentially a 5G version of the moto g power (2022). Like that model, it has a 6.5-inch LCD display with HD+ resolution and 90 Hz refresh. The selfie camera does get a bump up to 13 megapixel. Extra rear cameras are a depth camera and 2 megapixel macro camera. It's powered by a MediaTek Dimensity 700 chip paired with 4 GB RAM and 64 GB storage. An unlocked version will also be available with 6 GB RAM and 256 GB storage. Motorola will sell it unlocked for $400 starting May 19th. Carriers are expected to sell it for less, at dates to be announced.
Google has changed the way it handles emoji in Android to eliminate the entire concept of new emoji being unsupported in older software and devices. Starting with Android 12, new emoji can easily be added with a minor update. Previously, new emoji only came with a major OS update. But Google is also bringing this emoji-update capability to older versions of Android via its AppCompat API for developers. AppCompat generally brings modern features to older versions of Android for apps that use it. Now apps using AppCompat will automatically have access to newer emoji as they are released. Apple still ties emoji updates to major new versions of iOS, but iPhones enjoy a much higher rate of adoption for new OS versions.
T-Mobile will launch the OnePlus Nord N20 5G next Thursday, April 28th. T-Mobile and Metro by T-Mobile will be the exclusive US carriers for this mid-range Android phone. PCMag confirmed that the phone will sport a 6.43-inch, FHD+ AMOLED display with an in-display fingerprint reader. T-Mobile will offer the N20 for $282. AMOLED displays are uncommon in this price range. The Verge reports that the phone will be powered by a Snapdragon 695 chip paired with 6 GB of RAM and 128 GB of storage. Other specs includes a 4,500 mAh battery, 33-watt fast charging, and a 64 megapixel main camera.
Verizon has certified the new OnePlus 10 Pro for its network, meaning users can buy the phone unlocked and Verizon will activate it.
Apple has released iMovie 3.0 for iPhones and iPads. The new version has two major new features: Magic Movie and Storyboards. With Magic Movie, users simply select an album or any group of photos and/or video, and the app will automatically build a video complete with titles, transitions, and music. Styles can be added to change up the look and feel of the entire video. With Storyboards, users start with one of 20 templates, such as a cooking tutorial, Q&A, product review, news report, etc. The template includes a shot list and tips for each part. Users then select existing clips and/or shoot new video to fill the Storyboard with content. Both Magic Movies and Storyboards can then be manually edited further. The resulting videos can be shared from iMovie via Messages, Mail, and on social media. The new iMovie is available now as a free update for devices running iOS 15.2 or later.
Nubia has announced its new Redmagic 7 Pro flagship gaming phone for international markets. It builds on the already high-end specs of the Redmagic 7 with improvements to the display, battery, and gaming performance. The full-HD AMOLED display now fully hides the front camera using under-display camera technology, offering an uninterrupted all-display experience. The refresh rate takes a slight hit, though, from 165 to 120 Hz. A unique new chip that Nubia calls Red Core 1 is designed to boost gaming performance by handling certain audio, haptic feedback, and cosmetic lighting functions. This frees the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chip to devote more processing power to core gaming performance. Nubia has also enlarged the battery to 5,000. A "7th gen" fingerprint sensor doubles as a heart-rate sensor. Most other features are similar to the RedMagic 7, including 65W fast charging (65W charger included), active cooling system with 20,000 RPM fan, shoulder buttons, RGB lighting effects, Wi-Fi 6, 3.5mm headset jack, 64 megapixel camera, and NFC. Support for US 4G and 5G networks appears to be limited (LTE in bands 2, 4, 5, 12, 26, 41, and 66, plus 5G in bands 41 and 77). It comes standard with 16 GB of LPDDR5 RAM. The base version is Obsidian (black) with 256 GB storage for $799. A step-up "Supernova" version has 512 GB storage, a transparent back, and RGB lighting in the fan. It will run $899. The Redmagic 7 Pro launches April 27th, with "an early bird offer from April 22". It will be available directly from the Redmagic web site.
Google Fi — Google's own MVNO offering cellular service — has adjusted its two unlimited plans to offer more data and features for less money. Google's cheaper Simply Unlimited plan now runs $50/month for one line, down from $60 previously. Multi-line discounts now bring that as low as $20/month/line for four or more lines (was $30). The high-speed data bucket for that plan has been bumped up from 22 to 35 GB, and Google is also adding 5 GB of hotspot tethering data. Similar changes are coming to the premium Unlimited Plus plan, which is now $5/month cheaper: $65/month for one line or as low as $40/line for four or more lines. That plan sees a bump from 22 to 50 GB of high-speed data. Both plans also now include unlimited calling within Canada and Mexico (text and data in those countries was already included.)
While AT&T (and Cricket) already offers the Samsung Galaxy A13 5G, the company has confusingly just launched a very different model called the "Samsung Galaxy A13" (no 5G). Besides lacking 5G, most of the specs are also different, including the display, cameras, processor, RAM, and storage. Instead of a 6.5-inch HD+ display with 90 Hz refresh, it has a 6.6-inch FHD+ display with 60 Hz refresh. It also adds a 5 megapixel wide-angle camera, but the front camera is 8 megapixel instead of 32. It's powered by a Samsung Exynos chip instead of a MediaTek. The RAM goes from 4 to 3 GB and the storage takes a hit from 64 to 32 GB. Both models do share a 5,000 mAh battery and 50 megapixel main camera. For all the downgrades, the new 4G model is only $10 cheaper from Cricket ($160 instead of $170). From AT&T, the new 4G model is available with prepaid service for $190 ($95 with a new line), while the 5G model is available to prepaid and postpaid customers for $250.
Owners of Google Pixel phones will soon be able to perform common repairs themselves using genuine parts from Google. The move comes hot on the heels of a similar announcement from Samsung just last week. Similar to Samsung, Google is partnering with iFixit, which will sell the repair kits (including necessary tools) as well as individual parts. The program includes all Pixel phones starting with the Pixel 2, and "things like batteries, replacement displays, cameras and more". The program launches "later this year". Apple launched a similar program in November.
Cricket has started selling the 2022 editions of the Motorola moto g power and moto g stylus. The new moto g power was announced in November. Motorola sells it unlocked for $200, but Cricket is selling it for $140. (Metro sells it for $190 while Verizon sells it for $250.) The new moto g stylus was announced in February. Cricket is selling it for $190. Motorola sells it unlocked for $300, although that version has more storage and RAM. Motorola has, in past years, offered a 5G version of the g stylus, but both of these new models for Cricket only support 4G.
Google has updated its Lens camera-based search tool with an experimental feature that lets you type in extra search terms to refine your visual search. Google calls this new image+text type of search "multisearch". For example, you can take a photo of a mug and add the word "pink" to find pink mugs. Other examples Google gives are: "Snap a photo of your dining set and add the query 'coffee table' to find a matching table" and "Take a picture of your rosemary plant and add the query 'care instructions'". The new multi search feature is available within the Lens feature of many Android phones, or from within the main Google search app. To use it, look for the new "Add to your search" button at the top of the full "Visual matches" results screen.
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