Cricket Wireless today kicked off a new promotion that drops the price of some smartphones to $19. Customers who switch to Cricket between March 9 and March 16 can buy the Samsung Galaxy Halo 16GB or 32GB, Samsung Amp Prime 2, LG X Charge, LG Stylo 3, or the HTC Desire 555 for $19. Cricket says the promotion is to celebrate its 19th birthday. A number of other promotions are still available and can be combined with the $19 phone offer. For example, customers who switch to Cricket and sign up for the Unlimited 2 plan (normally $55/month) can get a $10 bill credit each month for up to a year, in addition to a $5 monthly Auto Pay credit. These discounts drop the monthly cost to $40. The Unlimited 2 plan offers unlimited calls, messages, and data in the U.S., Mexico, and Canada. The company is also offering four lines on the Unlimited 2 Plan for $100. Details are available on Cricket's web site.
The current state of mobile device security patches is lacking, according to a new report issued today by the Federal Trade Commission. The FTC studied how Apple, BlackBerry, Google, HTC, LG, Microsoft, Motorola, and Samsung support their devices over time. "Our report found significant differences in how the industry deploys security updates and that more needs to be done to make it easier for consumers to ensure their devices are secure," said Acting Director Tom Pahl. The agency notes that many devices are updated infrequently, if at all, and that manufacturers often fail to deliver on promises. It wants phone makers and carriers to improve the situation. The agency suggested each does a better job of explaining mobile device security to consumers (i.e., make it clear to them that the updates are important and worth installing). The FTC also recommended that phone makers consider issuing security patches as stand-alone updates, rather than bundled with general OS upgrades. The FTC noted that companies that make their own operating system, in this case, Apple and Google, are often better at providing timely updates for a longer period of time. The FTC is calling for members of the mobile industry to find a way to bring clarity to consumers and more rapid security updates.
Google says its Android Messages app is on the upswing thanks to new RCS-based tools and growing support from phone makers and wireless network operators. To start, brands now have more power to interact with consumers thanks to RCS business messaging. Google says brands can "send more useful and interactive messages" to their customers with photos, videos, and links for purchasing. A number of companies have been testing RCS business messaging via Google's Early Access Program. Some include 1-800 Contacts, 1-800-Flowers.com, Booking.com, SnapTravel, and Subway — all on Sprint in the U.S. Google says more businesses will be deploying richer messaging via the Android Messages app over the coming months. The Android Messages app has gained a lot of traction with phone makers and carriers, and more support is on the way. Moving forward, Alcatel, BlackBerry, Transsion, Blu, Positivo, Multilaser, Mobiwire, Azumi, and Essential will all preload Android Messages as the default SMS/messaging app. A number of phone makers already offer Android Messages, including Huawei, LG, HMD Global, HTC, Kyocera, Motorola, Sony, and ZTE. The app has a growing footprint with carriers, as well. Google says America Movil, AT&T in Mexico, Celcom Axiata Berhad, Freedom Mobile, Oi, Telia Company, and Telefonica have joined Deutsche Telekom, Globe Telecom, Orange, Rogers Communications, Sprint, and Telenor in their commitment to launch RCS messaging. Sprint is the lone U.S. carrier to go all-in with Google's RCS and Android Messages. AT&T and Verizon each offers its own RCS-based messaging client for Android handsets. Google believes this new momentum for RCS and Android Messages will eventually mean a better messaging experience between people, brands, and more.
HTC today said Chialin Chang, President of Smartphone and Connected Devices Business, has resigned effective immediately. The only reason given for the departure pertains to Chang's "personal career plan." The company did not name a replacement. Chang joined HTC initially in 2012 as the company's CFO, though he later transitioned to the smartphone business. Google completed its purchase of a large portion of HTC's smartphone design team last month. HTC says it will continue to make smartphones and is widely expected to debut a new flagship device in the next month or two. If or how Chang's departure impacts those plans is unclear.
HTC today announced a limited promo that will see the cost of its flagship U11 smartphone drop by $100. The lower price will be in effect from February 1 through February 15. The U11 is notable for its squeezable side edges that can be used to call up certain features and actions.
Google today said it has completed its proposed acquisition of select assets from HTC. The deal includes portions of HTC's handset design team, among other properties. Google worked with HTC to develop the Pixel 2 smartphone, which was released last year. "As our hardware business enters its third year, we remain committed to building and investing for the long run," said Rick Osterloh, Google's senior vice president of hardware. "Today, we start digging in with our new teammates, guided by the mission to create radically helpful experiences for people around the world, by combining the best of Google’s AI, software and hardware." HTC's hardware team will remain in Taiwan, as Osterloh said the acquisition marks Google's official expansion into Taipei, now the largest Google engineering site in the Asia-Pacific region.
HTC said that Sprint will begin pushing the Android 8 Oreo system update to its variant of the HTC U11 starting today. The news was shared by HTC executive Mo Versi on Twitter. Android 8 Oreo includes notification dots, picture-in-picture, and auto-fill. The new code from HTC also includes other bug fixes and tweaks. Though the update is available today, it may take up to a week to reach all users. The unlocked and T-Mobile variants of the U11 were updated to Android 8 late last year, as were most variants of the HTC U11 Life. HTC still plans to distribute Android 8 Oreo to the HTC 10 and U Ultra.
Amazon has updated its Alexa mobile app for Android devices with the ability to support voice requests. Until today, the app was merely a tool used to manage in-home, Alexa-powered devices such as the Echo and Echo Dot. Now, Android smartphone owners can issue voice commands to Alexa from their smartphone in order to access playlists or tap into Alexa’s various skills. The app does not support wake word functionality, which means people will need to open the app in order to make voice-based requests. The updated Alexa app with voice control is available from the Google Play Store and the Amazon App Store. An update for Alexa for iOS devices is still in the works. Phone makers HTC and Huawei have already taken steps to add Alexa to their devices, such as the U11 and Mate series handsets. This update brings Alexa voice functionality to devices without special hardware requirements. Alexa is free to download.
Qualcomm today said a number of leading handset makers have adopted its radio frequency front-end. Some of the OEMs include Google, HTC, LG, Samsung and Sony Mobile. This means these smartphone manufacturers will rely on Qualcomm's hardware to ensure their devices can talk to wireless networks. This is particularly important for T-Mobile, as the RF front end provides comprehensive 600 MHz band (B71) support. T-Mobile is deploying LTE on its 600 MHz spectrum now and plans to use it for 5G service down the road. The RF front end includes a modem-to-antenna system using the new QPM26xx series gallium arsenide-based power amplifier module. The module contains duplexers, envelope tracker, antenna tuners, antenna switches, and discrete and integrated filter modules. Qualcomm says its RF front end supports features such as Gigabit LTE, 4x4 MIMO and LTE Advanced today, and will evolve to handle 5G technologies in 2019.
Owners of the T-Mobile variant of the U11 Life smartphone can expect to receive the Android 8 Oreo over the coming days, according to HTC. HTC has made the system update available and will roll it out beginning today. It may take up to a week to reach everyone. The unlocked version of the U11 Life was updated to Oreo last month. Other HTC handsets on deck to receive Android 8 Oreo include the 10 and U Ultra.
Google today made its monthly security patch available to some Android devices. December's patch plugs a handful of security holes. Google found a dozen or so vulnerabilities, most of which were classified as moderately dangerous, or able to execute code remotely. Google is pushing a patch dated December 5 to resolve these issues. Google said the Pixel, Pixel XL, Pixel 2, Pixel 2 XL, Pixel C, Nexus Player, Nexus 5X, and Nexus 6P devices will receive the December security patches directly over the air. The factory images will be available for download from Google's developer web site shortly. As far as Google knows, none of these security holes have been exploited. Google has already supplied the patches to its handset partners.
Owners of the unlocked variant of the HTC U11 Life can expect to receive Android 8 Oreo over the coming days, according to HTC exec Mo Versi. HTC has made the system update available and will roll it out beginning today. Versi did not say if or when carrier variants of the U11 Life will receive the update. HTC's flagship handset, the U11, received Android 8 Oreo earlier this week. Other HTC handsets on deck to receive Android 8 Oreo include the 10 and U Ultra. Versi didn't say when Oreo will be available for those devices
The HTC U11 is on deck to receive Android 8 Oreo beginning today, according to HTC exec Mo Versi. He tweeted the news over the holiday weekend. The unlocked version of the U11 will be first to see the Android 8 Oreo upgrade, though Versi said other variants, including Sprint, shouldn't be too far behind. Other HTC handsets that will receive Android 8 Oreo include the 10, U Ultra, and U11 Life. Versi didn't say when Oreo will be available for those devices
HTC’s U11 Life looks almost as good as the company’s top-tier flagship handset. HTC dialed back some of the U11’s under-the-hood components in order to give the U11 Life a more attractive price point. The result is a compelling mid-range handset that will be sold by T-Mobile. Here are our first impressions.
HTC today announced the U11 Life, a mid-range handset that resembles the company’s U11 flagship though it tones down specs to reach a reasonable price point. The U11 Life is almost identical to the U11 at a glance, but it trades the U11’s high-quality glass for plastic. HTC achieved the mirror-like finish by using a clear acrylic exterior with metallic paint on the inside surface. The point, according to HTC, is to give people a device that looks like a flagship at a more affordable cost. The U11 Life has a 5.2-inch full HD LCD display and it is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 630 processor with 3 GB of memory and 32 GB of storage. The U11 Life has a 16-megapixel camera at f/2.0 on both the back and the front. Where the rear camera has phase-detection autofocus, the front camera has fixed focus. The device does include the U11’s squeezable Edge Sense feature for initiating certain actions. Other features include USB-C noise-cancelling earbuds, HTC Alexa voice assistant, IP67 water resistance, and Android 7 Nougat. (HTC will update the phone to Android 8 Oreo by the end of November.) Perhaps most importantly, the U11 Life will be widely available to U.S. consumers. T-Mobile plans to sell the phone and feature it in stores as a “Smart Pick.” The U11 Life will be sold unlocked from HTC starting on November 2 and should hit T-Mobile stores the following day, November 3. The U11 Life is priced at under $349.
The recent release of the Google Pixel 2 means Sprint customers have access to 10 handsets that support HPUE. Sprint has been deploying HPUE tech on its 2.5 GHz spectrum since late last year. The primary benefit is better performance (higher speeds, more capacity) at the cell edge. The result is a wireless experience more like that of Sprint's mid-band 1.9 GHz spectrum. The devices able to access HPUE include the Samsung Galaxy S8/S8+, and Note8; the LG G6, V30+, and X Charge; the ZTE Max XL and Warp 8; the Motorola Z2 Force; the HTC U11; and the Pixel 2. Apple has yet to release any iPhones that support HPUE. Sprint said it expects to offer many more HPUE devices before long.
Cricket Wirelss today said it has expanded its retail footprint to 122 post exchanges on U.S. military bases. This includes 83 Army and Air Force bases, 14 Marine exchanges, and 26 Navy exchanges. Servicemen and servicewomen will be able to purchase Cricket Wireless handsets, including the Risio 2, CoolPad, HTC Desire 550, and Sol 2, at their local exchange and enroll in Cricket’s low-cost, prepaid wireless service. Post exchanges will also offer SIM cards for bring-your-own customers.
Google today said it has agreed to purchase HTC's Pixel smartphone business, as well as acquire some employees and license intellectual property, for $1.1 billion in cash. HTC's Pixel engineers will be added to Google's existing hardware organization, where they will continue to work on the Pixel smartphone line. "In many ways, this agreement is a testament to the decade-long history of teamwork between HTC and Google," said Rick Osterloh, former Motorola executive and current senior vice president of Google's hardware business. "Together, we've achieved several mobile-industry firsts, including the first ever Android smartphone, the HTC Dream / T-Mobile G1; as well as the Nexus One in 2010, the Nexus 9 tablet in 2014, and the first Pixel smartphone just last year." Osterloh said Google will continue to focus on its core capabilities, creating hardware that takes advantage of Google's software. HTC will retain its actual smartphone business. In a statement, HTC said the company "will continue to have best-in-class engineering talent, which is currently working on the next flagship phone, following the successful launch of the HTC U11 earlier this year." HTC will also retain its Vive-branded virtual reality business and invest in next-generation technologies, such as the internet of things, augmented reality, and artificial intelligence. The companies did not say when they expect the deal to close.
HTC will cease trading shares of its stock in anticipation of a significant announcement to be made tomorrow. The news was first revealed by the Taiwan Stock Exchange, which said "shares of HTC Corporation ... will be halted starting from Sept. 21, 2017 pending the release of material information." HTC confirmed the halt in share trading, but did not provide a reason behind the action. Earlier this month, Bloomberg suggested that Google might acquire HTC, or a portion thereof. It is possible that HTC plans to announce a takeover by Google during the announcement, which is being made town-hall style at its Taipei headquarters. The company's response to the Taiwan Stock Exchange alert read, "HTC does not comment on market rumor or speculation." HTC, once a dominant maker of Android handsets, has been fading for years in the face of competition from Samsung, LG, Huawei, ZTE, and others. The company's financial health has been in question many times due to weak sales. HTC never stopped making compelling smartphones, such as the One series, the U11, and Pixel devices for Google. Google may want to bring HTC's handset division under its wing for future Pixel smartphones.
Google today kicked off a teaser campaign for a phone-based announcement that will take place on October 4. The company launched a web site with the address of madeby.google.com, and it specifically asks people what they want from their phones. A similar-themed billboard appeared in Boston in recent days, more or less confirming that the company will announce its 2017 smartphones on October 4. At the same time, a new handset from LG was recently approved by the FCC that could be a new Pixel model. Though the FCC documentation reveals no details about the handset itself, the FCC does potentially give away the name. The LG phone approved by the FCC this week carries the FCC ID of ZNFG011C, which is similar to that of the HTC-made NM8G011A. In this naming convention it is important to note that the first three digits are the manufacturer codes (ZNF for LG, NM8 for HTC) while the latter five digits (G011A and G011C) are the model numbers. The HTC G011A, approved by the FCC in August, is believed to be a Pixel-branded device for Google similar to the HTC U11. The newly-approved LG G011C could be a variant of the LG G6 or V30, or a completely new handset. Google has relied on both HTC and LG to make Nexus- and Pixel-branded handsets in the past.
HTC today said owners of its U11 smartphone will soon be able to customize the possible range of actions when using the Edge Sense squeezable side feature. According to HTC, users will be able to map the squeeze function to just about anything they can tap on the screen. Edge Sense is unique to the U11, which has pressure-sensitive side edges. Squeezing the phone calls up one of several different actions. Moving forward, people will be able to map their preferred actions to the squeezing behavior. The feature is being rolled out later tonight in beta through an update to the Edge Sense app.
Google today announced the final release of Android 8.0, and also named this version "Oreo". Members of the Android Beta program will receive an update to the final version today. Nexus and Pixel users will receive the update "rolling out in phases over the next several weeks". Google has been working with all of its partners to enable updates for other phones. In the coming weeks and months, other manufacturers will roll out the update to many recent phones. By the end of the year, phones from Essential, Huawei, HTC, Kyocera, Motorola, Nokia, Samsung, Sharp and Sony will have Android 8.0 Oreo. The update includes some minor new features, such as picture-in-picture and improved auto-fill, plus many important improvements for developers and overall performance.
The FCC recently approved a handset made by HTC that could be the next Pixel smartphone from Google. HTC manufactured last year's Pixel and Pixel XL handsets for Google. The FCC confirms that the new model in question, G011A, includes LTE support for all four major U.S. carriers via bands 2, 4, 5, 7, 12, 13, 17, 25, 26, 30, 41, and 66. The phone supports CDMA BC 0/1/10, providing full support for Sprint voice service. The FCC also confirms that the phone will have Bluetooth, GPS, and dual-band WiFi. Some sample screenshots provided by HTC for the phone's FCC e-label provide a few more details about the device. The G011A runs Android 8.0.1. Google-branded handsets, including the Nexus series and Pixel series, will be the first to run Android 8, suggesting the G011A could be a Pixel. According to these same screen shots, the device runs a baseband radio (Qualcomm part MW8998) that would only be paired with the Snapdragon 835 processor (Qualcomm part MSM8998). The wide LTE band support and potential Snapdragon 835 processor earmark the G011A as a flagship handset of some sort. Last, the screenshots from HTC reference something called "Active Edge" that can be used to "squeeze for your Assistant." The Active Edge sounds a lot like the Edge Sense that HTC pioneered on the U11 smartphone from earlier this year. On the G011A, Active Edge may activate the Google Assistant. Neither HTC nor Google has confirmed any aspect of the G011A or 2017 Pixel.
HTC today said anyone who buys the U11 smartphone between now and the end of September will be rewarded with three months of Amazon Music Unlimited for free. The service provides access to Amazon's library of millions of songs, which can be streamed to the U11. Amazon Music Unlimited also includes thousands of playlists, personalized radio stations, and voice controls via Amazon Alexa. It competes with Spotify, Apple Music, and Google Play Music. The limited promotion is available to new subscribers in the U.S. only.
HTC today said a future update will add 60 frames-per-second video capture to its U11 flagship. The feature will be rolled out to the U11 in various markets around the world over the next few months. Higher capture frame rates lead to smoother video playback, particularly at full HD and 4K resolutions. The update will be free for U11 owners to install.
Owners of the HTC U11 can now take advantage of Amazon Alexa on their smartphone wherever they happen to be. HTC made its HTC Alexa app available to the U11 via the Google Play Store. Once installed, U11 owners will be able to use voice commands and queries to interact with Alexa, Amazon's artificial intelligent assistant. HTC says people can configure Alexa to suit their needs, such as answering directly to voice commands, or waiting until activated via the U11's Edge Sense squeezable sides. Some of the actions include listening to Amazon Music, receiving weather and news reports, managing shopping lists, and interacting with smart home devices. Together with the Amazon Alexa app, U11 owners can enable and configure some 15,000 skills — all accessible through voice commands. HTC announced Alexa integration when the U11 was first launched. The company has now brought the functionality to the device. The HTC Alexa app is free for U11 owners to download.
Cricket Wireless recently added the HTC Desire 555 to its lineup of affordable Android smartphones. The 555 is a variant of the Desire 530. The phone is made from a polycarbonate chassis with a soft-touch finish, and comes with HTC's signature BoomSound audio. The 555 has a 5-inch 720p HD display and it is powered by a quad-core 1.1 GHz processor. According to Cricket, other specs of the Desire 555 include an 8-megapixel main camera with flash and 720p HD video capture, a 5-megapixel front camera, Bluetooth, WiFi, LTE, HD voice, and 16 GB of storage. The phone runs Android 7 Nougat and includes HTC software features, such as BlinkFeed and Themes. The HTC Desire 555 costs $120 when activated on a Cricket Wireless prepaid service plan.
Sprint has pushed a firmware update to its variant of the Samsung Galaxy S8 and in so doing improved the phone's LTE download speeds by about 20%. According to PCMag, the update resolves a software bug that prevented the S8 from properly connecting to Sprint's Band 41 LTE. Sprint says about 85% of its S8 customers have already applied the update, which was pushed last month. Sprint delivered a similar update to the HTC U11, which also gained a performance boost in download speeds.
Google today provided details about its July 2017 security patches for Android devices. The patches plug a significant number of security holes that threaten all Android devices. Google found a significant number of vulnerabilities, of which it classified a dozen as critical, or able to remotely execute code. Many of the problems are related to specific hardware and the associated software drivers that control them, for example, a Broadcom WiFi driver, an HTC sound driver, and an Nvidia video driver. Google is pushing two separate patches to cover these vulnerabilities, one dated July 1 and the second dated July 5. Google is distributing the patches directly to its own Nexus- and Pixel-branded devices first. Google has already posted factory images for download directly from its web site. Over the air downloads will appear soon. Google's handsets will receive both patches in a single download. Google said to its knowledge none of these security holes have been exploited. Google has already given the patches to its OEM partners. Android handset makers are responsible for updating their own hardware with the patches.
HTC today demonstrated a handful of new Edge Sense actions it is testing for the U11. In the video, posted to HTC's Facebook page, the company shows how Edge Sense can be used to zoom in and out of maps and photos, answer and end phone calls, dismiss alarms, and change views in the calendar. HTC did not say if or when any of these tools might be advanced to the U11, though it did ask its community of fans for suggestions on other potential Edge Sense actions. The U11 smartphone includes sensors in the left and right edges that when squeezed initiate a handful of actions.
HTC today said U.S. customers can pre-order the red variant of the U11 smartphone beginning June 20. Other than the color, the red U11 is identical to the black, silver, and blue versions. The phone costs $649 when purchased from HTC.com. HTC offers financing for those with good credit. Stand-out features include the Edge Sense squeezable sides, quad HD display, Snapdragon 835 processor, and high-quality 12-megapixel camera. HTC has other summer sales lined up that will be available between today and June 29. HTC has dropped the price of the U Ultra from $749 to $629, it has dropped the price of the HTC 10 from $699 to $499, and has dropped the price of the HTC Bolt from $600 to $500. HTC is also offering some discounts on select accessories. HTC didn't specify with the red U11 will actually ship.
HTC said its U11 flagship smartphone is now shipping to those who may have preordered the handset. The unlocked model is available from Amazon.com and HTC.com and Sprint stores are stocking the U11 starting today. The phone has what HTC calls a "liquid surface" glass panel, squeezable Edge Sense actions, and customizable USonic headphones with active noise cancellation. The phone has a 5.5-inch quad HD display, Snapdragon 835 processor, 12-megapixel main camera, and Android 7.1 Nougat. It costs $649.
Google today said Samsung will update the Galaxy S8 and S8+ handsets later this summer in order to make them compatible with Google's Daydream virtual reality platform. Daydream is Google's year-old VR service that runs on select handsets. It includes a dedicated VR headset. Google also mentioned that a forthcoming flagship handset from LG will be Daydream compatible. Google is working with partners such as Qualcomm, HTC, Lenovo, and others to create more standalone Daydream headsets that should arrive later this year.
The HTC U11 is the company's true flagship phone for 2017. It fills the Goldilocks spot in HTC's U series: better than the U Play, but smaller than the U Ultra, while also replacing last year's HTC 10. It has unique features like shortcuts triggered by squeezing the phone, noise-canceling earbuds, and full support for both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. It's covered in sexy curved glass on both the front and back, and comes in several eye-catching, color-shifting hues. It has all of the power and features you'd expect from a flagship today, including a Snapdragon 835 processor. What's it like in person? Read on for our hands-on first impressions.
HTC today announced the U11, a flagship smartphone that responds to squeezes along the side edge. According to HTC, the U11 will open the camera, dictate and send a text message, or even open email with a gentle squeeze. HTC calls this feature Edge Sense and says it will work under most circumstances, such as when the owner is wearing gloves. Other notable features include: support for Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and HTC Sense Companion voice assistants; HTC BoomSound Hi-Fi Edition speakers and custom-tuned USonic earbuds that now include active noise cancellation; and four microphones for 3D recording. The phone merges the visual appeal of the U Ultra with the specs of a modern flagship. The U11 is made from dual liquid glass surfaces and a metal frame that are resistant to water and liquid damage. The Super LCD 3 display measures 5.5 inches across the diagonal and boasts quad HD resolution. It is protected by Gorilla Glass 5. HTC gave the U11 a Snapdragon 835 processor from Qualcomm with 4 GB of RAM and 64 GB of storage. Other specs include a 12-megapixel main camera with autofocus, BSI sensor, optical image stabilization f/1.7 aperture, and dual LED flash. Shooting modes include HDR Boost, manual, panorama, face detection, hyper-lapse, slow motion, and 4K video. The front-facing camera has a 16-megapixel sensor. HTC selected a 3,000mAh battery that supports Quick Charge 3.0 via the USB-C port. Like the U Ultra, the U11 nixes the 3.5mm headset jack but includes an adapter. The U11 supports most LTE bands for use the U.S. and will be sold by Sprint with HPUE for faster performance on the company's 2.5 GHz spectrum. HTC plans to sell an unlocked variant of the phone directly to consumers via HTC.com and Amazon.com. Preorders can be made starting today and HTC expects the phone to ship in June. It will be available in black, silver, and blue. The HTC U11 costs $700.
HTC today kicked off a week-long sale that sees some of the best-ever prices for its handsets. Notably, the new HTC U Ultra has been knocked from $749 down to $599, a significant cut for the smartphone. The U Ultra is an all-glass Android phone from HTC that boasts top specs. HTC also slashed the price of the A9 from $499 to $199, the HTC 10 from $699 to $499, and the Bolt from $600 to $450. The sale prices are good through April 23. HTC sells its phones unlocked via its U.S. web site.
Google today announced PAX, a patent-licensing initiative for Android that the company hopes will help resolve and/or prevent patent-related threats. Companies that join PAX give each other royalty-free patent licenses that cover Android and Google applications on compatible devices. The founding members of PAX include Google, Samsung, LG, Foxconn, HMD Global, HTC, Coolpad, BQ, and Allview. Together, these companies own some 230,000 patents. Google says the patent pool will only grow as more companies join the network. "We believe PAX will further expand the openness of Android for its members, promoting patent peace that will free up time and money for members, who can then dedicate those resources to creating new ideas," said Google. PAX is free for companies to join. Electronics companies often use technology patents as revenue sources, and litigate in order to seek payment. PAX may help reduce patent-based litigation depending on which companies join and what patents are cross-licensed with the group.
Verizon Wireless recently began pushing the Android 7 Nougat update to its variant of the HTC 10 smartphone. The update includes split-screen multitasking, Data Saver, simplified settings, faster app switching, and direct replies from notifications. It also includes the latest security patches. Verizon says the update is rolling out via WiFi over the next few weeks.
HTC has indicated via its web site that the U Ultra, the company's flagship handset for 2017, will begin shipping on March 10. The $750 smartphone comes in black, white, or blue, and features a 5.7-inch screen, Snapdragon 821 processor, 16-megapixel camera, and personalized sound profiles. Software features include Android 7 Nougat with HTC Sense and HTC's new Sense Companion personal assistant. The phone is sold unlocked with support for AT&T and T-Mobile.
Google today said more wireless network operators and handset manufacturers will use Android Messages, its RCS-based messaging service, as the default SMS/MMS tool on their phones. (Android Messages was previously known as Google Messenger.) Some of the features of RCS, which is a global standard, include group chat, high-resolution photo sharing, advanced calling features, and read receipts. It has been improved lately with more interactive tools, such as the ability to check into flights. Google says a number of brands plan to use RCS in order to enhance their own services and help spur adoption. Some of the brands include Walgreens, Baskin-Robbins, FICO, Gamestop, Sonic, Subway, and Time. Moving forward, the Android Messages app with RCS will be preloaded by LG, Motorola, Sony, HTC, ZTE, Micromax, HMD Global, Archos, BQ, Cherry Mobile, Condor, Fly, General Mobile, Lanix, LeEco, Lava, Kyocera, MyPhone, QMobile, Symphony, and Wiko, along with Google's own Pixel and Android One devices. Further, Google was already working with carriers Sprint, Rogers, and Telenor, and today added Vodafone, Orange, Deutsche Telekom, and Globe. Notably absent fro the list of phone makers is Samsung, while AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon have also yet to commit. Phones with Android Messages on board will still be able to interact with Samsung handsets and those running on non-Sprint networks of course, but will lose the advanced features available via RCS. Samsung, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon haven't said if or when they might adopt Google's Android Messages, though T-Mobile and Verizon already use their own RCS-like messaging platforms.