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Best Certified Phones for Verizon Wireless

May 25, 2018, 9:30 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Have your eye on a shiny new phone, but it isn't sold by Verizon Wireless? Did you know that Big Red allows you to bring your own device to its network? There are a few things you need to know, though.

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Hands On with the HTC U12+

May 23, 2018, 3:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

HTC's 2018 flagship is the U12+, a phone that aims directly at competing devices such as the Samsung Galaxy S9+, LG G7, and iPhone X. The U12+ sees HTC adopting the 2:1 screen aspect ratio, dialing back the bezels, and carrying over the luscious liquid design from last year's phone. With top specs under the hood, the U12+ is a compelling Android phone. We spent some time with it in person.

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HTC U12+ Jumps to 2:1 Screen, Improves Edge Sense, Refines Speakers, Adds Sonic Zoom

May 23, 2018, 3:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

HTC today announced the U12+, its flagship handset for the year. The phone carries over the "liquid design" from last year's U11, but updates the color selection for the metal-and-glass chassis. The device is rated IP68 and can handle short dunks in water. HTC created new digital controls along the side edges to help seal up the chassis. The U12+ also improves the Edge Sense pressure-sensitive sides with new controls and actions. The U12+ sees HTC catching up to its competitors with a 2:1 aspect screen. The display measures 6 inches and offers quad HD+ resolution (2,880 by 1,440 pixels). The Super LCD 6 panel is protected by Gorilla Glass and supports HDR 10 video playback. Like most of today's flagship devices, the U12+ is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor. The phone includes 6 GB of RAM and comes with either 64 GB or 128 GB of storage. It supports microSD memory cards up to 2 TB. HTC made big changes to the camera. The U12+ features dual cameras on the rear and the front. On back, the main camera has a 12-megapixel, wide-angle sensor at f/1.75 and a secondary 16-megapixel telephoto sensor at f/2.6. HTC says the camera includes UltraSpeed Autofocus 2, which is a hybrid of phase detection and laser autofocus. The phone supports optical zoom up to 2x and digital zoom up to 10x. Other camera features include HDR, bokeh portraits, face detection, and pro mode with RAW capture. The front has two identical 8-megapixel cameras at f/2.0 with support for bokeh portraits, HDR, face unlock, live makeup, AR stickers, and panorama selfies. The video camera includes a feature called Sonic Zoom, which will tweak the microphones to focus more narrowly when users zoom in on a subject. It can capture 4K video and includes OIS, 360-degree 3D audio capture, slow-motion, and time-lapse. Like the U11, the U12+ includes both Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, which can be called up via the Edge Sense gestures. HTC tweaked its BoomSound speaker system to deliver 30% more sound and a better balance between the top and bottom speakers. The phone ships with HTC's USonic headphones with active noise cancellation. Other specs include NFC, Bluetooth 5, USB-C, 3,500mAh battery with rapid charging, and dual-band WiFi. As for network support, the U12+ is being sold as a single global unit with wide support for LTE networks. It includes Cat 18 LTE with support for U.S. bands such as 29 for AT&T and 66 for T-Mobile. HTC says the phone is fully certified to run on Verizon's network. The U12+ will go on sale over the course of the next few weeks. Pricing will be in line with other flagship devices, says HTC.


HTC Working On Blockchain-Based Android Phone

May 15, 2018, 3:04 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

HTC today pulled back the curtains on Exodus, a forthcoming phone based on blockchain. "Our vision is to expand the blockchain ecosystem by creating the world’s first phone dedicated to decentralized applications and security," said the company. "With the release of the HTC Exodus we can now make this a reality." HTC explained that Exodus will work with multiple protocols with the intent of interoperability between blockchains. Each phone will serve as a node to help with decentralization. HTC believes it can double or triple the number of nodes of Dfinity, Ethereum, and Bitcoin, for example. The goal here will be to provide a way to facilitate cryptocurrency trading. The phone will feature a secure enclave, provide a trusted hardware stack with APIs that connect to wallets, and provide owners with their own identity and data on the phone, rather than one stored in the cloud. HTC also hopes to increase the user base for DApps on mobile devices. The effort is being led by Phil Chen, HTC's decentralized chief officer. HTC didn't say when the device might reach the market.


HTC Says Next Phone to Be Announced May 23

May 3, 2018, 8:10 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

HTC today revealed that its next phone will be announced on May 23. The company didn't say what features the phone might have, other than to suggest it is "a phone that is more than the sum of its specs." The image that accompanies HTC's announcement clearly shows a handful of components, such as two cameras, a battery, and a processor. HTC hasn't announced a flagship handset since the U11, which debuted at about this time in 2017.


Researchers Suggest Phone Makers Mislead Consumers About Security Patches

Apr 12, 2018, 1:19 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Security Research Labs says Android phone makers often miss security patches but still tell owners the phones are up-to-date. Researchers Karsten Nohl and Jakob Lell examined the code of some 1,200 phones from more than a dozen phone makers for every security patch released during 2017. They discovered phones from nearly all makers missed at least some patches. Phones from Google, Sony, and Samsung ranked fairly well, missing an average of just one patch. Phones from Xiaomi, Nokia, and OnePlus missed between one and three patches per update, while devices from HTC, Motorola, LG, and Huawei missed three to four, and phones from TCL (Alcatel) and ZTE often missed more than four patches per update. High-end devices with processors from Samsung or Qualcomm were more likely to updated properly, while low-cost devices with processors from MediaTek were less likely to be updated properly. Nohl and Lell say what's worse than the missed patches are the phone makers' claims to the contrary. "We find that there's a gap between patching claims and the actual patches installed on a device. It's small for some devices and pretty significant for others," said Nohl to Wired. "We found several vendors that didn’t install a single patch but changed the patch date forward by several months. That’s deliberate deception." The researchers claim this lulls consumers into a false sense of security, though they admit that hacking into Android phones through any of the missed patches is a difficult task at best. In response to the data, Google argued that not all the devices researched were Android certified, and that modern Android phones have other security measures in place to protect them. "Security updates are one of many layers used to protect Android devices and users," said Scott Roberts, Android product security lead at Google. "Built-in platform protections, such as application sandboxing, and security services, such as Google Play Protect, are just as important." Still, Google said it would work with Security Research Labs to investigate Nohl and Lell's findings.


Data of 150M MyFitnessPal App Users Stolen by Hackers

Mar 30, 2018, 8:06 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Under Armour says the data of about 150 million people was taken from its MyFitnessPal app and web site. MyFitnessPal is a popular tool for managing diet and exercise. The company says it noticed unauthorized access to its servers by a third party on March 25 and immediately took steps to investigate the issue. Under Armour believes the hackers made off with usernames, email addresses, and hashed passwords. Data such as social security numbers, driver's license numbers, and payment card data was not accessed. Under Armour began notifying impacted users within several days of the breach. The notice provides users with recommendation on steps they can take to protect their information. Under Armour is encouraging all users to change their passwords immediately. The investigation into the nature of the breach is ongoing and Under Armour will provide more information as it is available. Customers can find more information on a FAQ posted to the company's web site. In 2016, Under Armour partnered with HTC to create a fitness-focused Health Box, which included a smart scale that could talk to apps on HTC phones.


Cricket Promo Includes $19 Phones from HTC, LG, Samsung

Mar 9, 2018, 8:50 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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.


FTC Wants Mobile Industry to Be Better At Security Updates

Feb 28, 2018, 11:50 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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.


Android Messages with RCS to Reach More Phones On More Carriers

Feb 23, 2018, 10:33 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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's Phone Boss Hangs Up On Handset Biz

Feb 14, 2018, 10:20 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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 Slashing Price of U11 Smartphone By $100

Jan 31, 2018, 5:33 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

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 Closes Acquisition of HTC Hardware Team

Jan 30, 2018, 8:07 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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.


Sprint's U11 Earns Its Oreo Treat Starting Today

Jan 22, 2018, 8:05 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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’s Alexa App Adds Support for Voice Commands

Jan 19, 2018, 1:40 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Jan 19, 2018, 1:52 PM

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's RF Front End Popular with Phone Makers

Jan 9, 2018, 12:26 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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.


T-Mobile Variant of HTC U11 Life Scores Android 8 Oreo

Dec 18, 2017, 1:42 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

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.


December’s Android Security Patch from Google Arrives

Dec 4, 2017, 4:51 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

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.


HTC Pushing Android 8 Oreo to the U11 Life

Nov 30, 2017, 9:06 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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


Unlocked U11 First HTC Handset to Enjoy an Oreo Treat

Nov 27, 2017, 8:08 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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


Hands On with the HTC U11 Life

Nov 2, 2017, 2:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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.

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T-Mobile to Sell HTC U11 Life Mid-Ranger for $349

Nov 2, 2017, 2:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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.


Sprint Says It Has 10 HPUE-Capable Phones

Oct 26, 2017, 9:09 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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 Wireless Enlists In Military Exchanges

Oct 17, 2017, 2:23 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

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 to Buy HTC's Pixel Handset Team for $1.1 Billion

Sep 20, 2017, 9:28 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

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 Halts Trading Shares Ahead of Major Announcement

Sep 20, 2017, 7:27 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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 Schedules Oct. 4 Phone Event As Pixel 2 XL Swings by FCC

Sep 14, 2017, 7:19 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Sep 14, 2017, 7:57 AM

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 to Let Users Customize Edge Sense Actions

Sep 7, 2017, 12:01 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

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 Details Final Release of Android 8.0 Oreo

Aug 21, 2017, 3:37 PM   by Rich Brome

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.


FCC Docs Point to HTC-Made Pixel Phone with 'Active Edge'

Aug 16, 2017, 7:17 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Aug 16, 2017, 9:27 AM

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 Offering 3 Months of Amazon Music Unlimited to U11 Buyers

Aug 8, 2017, 1:17 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

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 Bringing 60 FPS Recording to U11

Aug 7, 2017, 1:13 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

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.


HTC Brings Alexa to the U11

Jul 17, 2017, 7:03 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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 Lands the HTC Desire 555

Jul 14, 2017, 3:59 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Jul 14, 2017, 4:02 PM

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 Gave Its Galaxy S8 a Speed Boost

Jul 12, 2017, 3:53 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

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.


Android's July Security Patches Are Here

Jul 5, 2017, 1:07 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

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 Testing More Squeezable Edge Sense Actions for U11

Jun 23, 2017, 3:38 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

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 Says Red Version of U11 Coming to the US

Jun 19, 2017, 11:18 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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's U11 Officially Shipping As of Today

Jun 9, 2017, 9:25 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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 Says Samsung Galaxy S8 to Get Daydream

May 17, 2017, 1:53 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

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.


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