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Created by Google, Android is a smartphone OS and platform that is open-source and open for any manufacturer to use to make a smartphone. Most Android phones use a version that is mostly provided by Google and requires Google services. Android phones can run Android apps, available from the Google Play Store, or, optionally, from other sources.

by:  Google


US Carriers Launch ZenKey, a Network-Based Login for Apps

Thursday, 10:24 AM   by Rich Brome

Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile have officially launched ZenKey, a new way quickly log in to apps that leverages the authentication that happens automatically every time your phone connects to the cellular network. Apps must be updated to support ZenKey, and developers have the option of enabling ZenKey as the primary login, or as the second token in two-factor logins, replacing PIN codes sent my text message, for example. Customers must also download the ZenKey app (available for both iOS and Android) to start using ZenKey. Currently, only a handful of apps support ZenKey login, (mostly the carriers' own apps,) but carriers hope more apps will add support.


Android Go Updated to be More Efficient on More Devices

Sep 10, 2020, 2:34 PM   by Rich Brome

Google has announced the Android 11 version of Android Go, the special edition of Android tailored for the most affordable devices with limited memory specs. While previous versions of Android Go were targeted at phones with just 1 GB of RAM, Android 11 (Go edition) will also be made available to phones with up to 2 GB of RAM. This change accommodates features such as fingerprint readers and dual cameras, which are increasingly common on entry-level phones, and require extra RAM. In version 11, apps now launch 20% faster. Google also continues to shave down the RAM and storage required by the OS itself, making available 270 MB more RAM for apps, and 900 MB additional free storage space. The new OS includes many of the key features of standard Android 11, including new privacy controls and a dedicated notification area for conversations. Android 11 (Go edition) will be available starting next month.


Motorola Updates razr with Better Specs, Refined Design

Sep 9, 2020, 2:00 PM   by Rich Brome   updated Sep 15, 2020, 12:03 PM

Motorola today revealed the 2020 edition of its razr foldable phone, with upgraded specs across the board and a tweaked design. The general design is largely similar to the 2019 original, including the same flexible inner display and folding mechanism. The hinge has been tweaked with slightly more enclosed gears and is rated for 200,000 flips. The design is sleeker thanks to a 3D curved Gorilla Glass 5 front, and a chin made thinner by moving the fingerprint reader to the back. The frame is now made from 7000 series aluminum instead of stainless steel. Spec bumps include the addition of 5G, a larger battery (2,800 mAh), much better cameras (48 megapixel main with laser auto-focus and OIS + 20 megapixel selfie), Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G processor, 8 GB RAM, and 256 GB storage. The new razr has the same 2.7-inch, high-resolution touchscreen on the outside, which can run scaled-down versions of select Android apps. The outer interface includes a new navigation bar at the bottom and a customizable app menu. The revamped camera app includes a customizable mode carousel. 5G support includes bands 2, 5, 25, 41, 66, 71, and 78. The new Motorola razr will be offered by both AT&T and T-Mobile, a change from last year's model that was exclusive to Verizon. It will also be available unlocked for $1,400 from motorola.com, Best Buy, B&H Photo, and Amazon. It will be available in Blush Gold, Polished Graphite, and Liquid Mercury (shown). Motorola would only cite "this fall" as the launch timeframe.


CAT S42 is Fully Washable

Sep 9, 2020, 8:00 AM   by Rich Brome

CAT today launched the S42, its latest "mid-range" rugged phone, for sale unlocked in the US. Like most CAT phones, it's rugged and waterproof (IP68), but also fully washable with soap and water. It's rated for 6-foot drops onto steel, and also meets US military spec for thermal shock, vibration, humidity, and salt mist. It has a large 4,200 mAh battery and NFC. Its 5.5-inch HD screen is protected by Gorilla Glass 5 and works with both gloves and wet fingers. Other specs include a MediaTek Helio A20 chip, 3 GB RAM, 32 GB storage, memory card slot, LTE Cat. 6, dual-band Wi-Fi, and VoLTE. It ships with Android 10 plus a commitment to an Android 11 update. It also has a programmable side button, headset jack, and micro-USB connector. It has good support for AT&T's 4G network including band 14, and good support for T-Mobile's 4G network including bands 25, 26, 41, 66, and 71. It's available now for $329, from catphones.com and multiple online retailers.


Android 11 is Here

Sep 8, 2020, 1:27 PM   by Rich Brome

Google is launching Android 11 today, having completed the beta period. The new OS will begin rolling out today on select Pixel and OnePlus phones, with more partners launching and upgrading devices over the coming months. Key features of Android 11 include:

  • New treatment for "conversation"-related notifications from messaging apps, including a dedicated area in the Notifications shade, and Bubbles, which lets you briefly view a conversation thread as a pop-up overlay, without leaving the app you're in.
  • Privacy improvements, including the ability to grant apps one-time access to sensitive permissions, an "auto-reset" of permissions for apps that haven't been used in a while, and an extra steps required to enable background access to location. Google will also start requiring that developers obtain explicit permission from Google before their app is allowed to ask for background access to location.
  • A revamped screen when the lock button is pressed provides quick access to smart-home device controls.
  • Support for digital IDs, including digital driver's licenses.
  • Support for wireless Android Auto on all phones.
  • New media controls that make it easier to switch output device.
  • New screenshot tools, including built-in screen recording on all phones. On Pixel phones, Android 11 brings a new feature when taking a screenshot that lets you easily copy an image or text to the clipboard instead.
  • For phones linked to a company network, the personal/work Profiles features has several improvements. New Personal/Work tabs have been added to several places including the Share pop-up sheet. A new API available to apps will allow certain apps to present both work and personal data together, while protecting both company data and employee privacy. Google Calendar will support this feature, and third-party apps will be able to support it as well.
  • New APIs allowing apps to better support new display technologies, including "waterfall" displays that wrap around the side, and variable refresh rates.
Further, on Google Pixel phones, Android 11 brings a new feature called Live View with Location Sharing. When someone sends you their location, the feature uses AR to show you exactly where that person is in the real world, how far away they are, and can guide you to them, even in parks or the wilderness.


Google Bringing its Phone app to More Android Phones

Sep 8, 2020, 11:09 AM   by Rich Brome

Google is making its own Phone app available to "even more Android devices" starting this week. Google's Phone app offers Google's unique Verified Calls feature, which shows the caller’s name, logo, reason for calling and a verification symbol indicating the business has been authenticated by Google for incoming calls from participating businesses. The Google Phone app comes pre-loaded on Pixel and select other Android phones, but many manufacturers pre-load their own Phone app on their phones. Google's app hasn't been made available to most such phones before now.


New Alcatel Apprise for Cricket is $70

Sep 4, 2020, 12:40 PM   by Rich Brome

Cricket today launched the Alcatel Apprise, a new Android 10 Go Edition phone that sells for just $70. Android Go Edition is optimized for affordable phones with limited memory, like the Apprise with its 2 GB RAM and 16 GB storage. The Apprise has a memory card slot, 5.5-inch SD display, 3,000 mAh battery, MediaTek MT6739 processor, and 5 megapixel cameras front and back. It also has a dedicated Google Assistant button on the side.


Apple, Google Launch Simpler COVID-19 Exposure Notifications

Sep 1, 2020, 11:31 AM   by Rich Brome

Google and Apple are updating their COVID-19 Exposure Notification system to support US states that have yet to develop their own Exposure Notification app. While the initial release of Exposure Notifications required countries or states to release their own app supporting the system, the new Exposure Notifications Express removes that requirement. States must still opt in to the system, but once they do, most iOS and Android phones in that state will receive a push notification inviting them to opt in to the system. On iOS, opting in will activate the new Exposure Notifications Express feature built in to the just-released iOS 13.7. Android users opting in will be prompted to download an app from Google to enable the feature. As with all variants of Exposure Notifications, privacy is protected since personal-identifying and location data is neither collected nor sent to states. Instead, randomly-generated ID numbers are exchanged with nearby phones via short-range Bluetooth, to keep track of which phones are near which other phones, and for how long. When someone enrolled in the system self-reports that they have tested positive for COVID-19, others enrolled in the system that have been near that person are notified, so they can seek testing. Maryland, Nevada, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. have already announced that they will participate, while six states have already released their own apps to enable Exposure Notifications.


T-Mobile's New REVVL Lineup Includes a 5G Phone for $400

Aug 27, 2020, 10:09 AM   by Rich Brome   updated Aug 27, 2020, 11:14 AM

T-Mobile today introduced three new models in its own-branded REVVL series: the REVVL 4, REVVL 4+, and REVVL 5G. The REVVL 5G will sell for $400 — or $200 with a new line of service — making it the most affordable 5G phone in the US to date. All three phones run Android 10 and have a fingerprint sensor.

  • REVVL 5G: Powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 765 chip and a 4,500 mAh battery. Key specs include 6.53-inch full-HD display, 6 GB RAM, 128 GB storage, and triple rear cameras. The main camera has a 48 megapixel sensor, joined by an 8-megapixel wide camera and 5 megapixel macro camera. A 16 megapixel front camera sits behind a corner hole-punch in the display.
  • REVVL 4+: Powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 665 chip and a 4,000 mAh battery. Key specs include 6.52-inch HD display, 4 GB RAM, and 64 GB storage. The main camera has a 16 megapixel sensor. A 16-megapixel front camera is located in a display notch. It will sell for $192.
  • REVVL 4: Powered by a MediaTek Helio A22 chip and a 3,500 mAh battery. Key specs include 6.22-inch full-HD display, 2 GB RAM, 32 GB storage, 13 megapixel main camera, and 5 megapixel front camera. It runs $120.
All three new REVVL phones will be available starting September 4th from both T-Mobile and Metro. As we reported two months ago, TCL is making some or all of these new phones. TCL also makes phones under the Alcatel brand and has made several previous generations of REVVL phones for T-Mobile.


Blu's New $200 Phone is Optimized for Gaming

Aug 26, 2020, 12:01 PM   by Rich Brome

The Blu G90 Pro is a $200 gaming phone. It's powered by a MediaTek Helio G90T processor, a chip introduced last year specifically to power affordable gaming phones such as the Blu G90 Pro. The phone also has a huge 5,000 mAh battery and supports 18W fast charging. The 6.5-inch display has full-HD resolution. It has 4 GB RAM, 128 GB storage, and a memory card slot. It has a 48 megapixel main camera with a Sony sensor, 8 megapixel wide camera, 2 megapixel macro camera, depth camera, and a 32 megapixel selfie camera. It also has USB-C, rear fingerprint reader, and Android 10. It's available in Purple Haze starting today from Amazon.


5G BlackBerry Coming in 2021

Aug 19, 2020, 7:00 AM   by Rich Brome

A new company, OnwardMobility, is picking up the BlackBerry torch. OnwardMobility is licensing the BlackBerry brand and promises a 5G BlackBerry phone with a physical keyboard in North America and Europe in the first half of 2021. OnwardMobility will be responsible for product planning and market development, while FIH Mobile — a subsidiary of Foxconn — will handle design and manufacturing, "under strict guidelines to ensure component, device and supply chain integrity." The last company to make BlackBerry-branded phones was TCL, which launched a handful of Android-based BlackBerry phones from 2016 to 2018.


Samsung Commits to Three Major OS Updates on All Premium Phones

Aug 18, 2020, 10:58 AM   by Rich Brome

Samsung has provided key details on a new commitment to offer major new versions of Android to existing phones. All Galaxy S, Galaxy Note, and Galaxy Z (foldable) series devices will receive "three generations of Android operating system (OS) upgrades". For example, current models that shipped with Android 10 will receive an update to Android 11, plus the next two major versions. Higher-end Galaxy A models — such as the A51 and A71 — are also included, as well as last year's models (the S10 and Note10 series) and the original Galaxy Fold. Samsung also revealed that the S20 series will be its first models to receive the Android 11 update, "with other devices to follow shortly thereafter." Samsung briefly mentioned the new commitment during its Note20 launch event, but did not elaborate on the details until today.


Cricket Ovation Brings a few Extras at $130

Aug 17, 2020, 4:02 PM   by Rich Brome   updated Aug 17, 2020, 4:11 PM

Cricket's latest self-branded phone is the Cricket Ovation. While many carrier-branded phones are absolutely entry-level — like last year's Cricket Icon — the Ovation is slightly higher-end, with a 4,000 mAh battery, triple rear cameras, NFC, 3 GB RAM, dual-band Wi-Fi, fingerprint reader, and USB-C. It has a large, modern 6.5-inch display with a small notch and HD resolution. Like the Icon, the Ovation is manufactured by Tinno Mobile, which owns the Wiko brand and also makes phones for Blu. Other features of the Ovation include a MediaTek Helio P22 processor, 32 GB storage, memory card slot, Android 10, headset jack, and Gorilla Glass 5 on the front. It's available now from Cricket for $130. Like all Cricket-branded phones, it's covered by Cricket's two-year "Worry Free" warranty.


Fortnite's Biggest Battle Yet: App Stores

Aug 13, 2020, 3:37 PM   by Rich Brome   updated Aug 14, 2020, 10:04 AM

Epic Games, the maker of popular battle royale game Fortnite, has filed suit against Apple and Google for anti-competitive and monopolistic behavior related to their app store policies. Epic is challenging the companies' monopolies on both app purchases and in-app purchases on their respective mobile platforms, and their 30% cut of such purchases. Instead of monetary damages, Epic is asking the courts to force the companies to change their policies. In apparent preparation for the suit, this morning Epic started offering a discount for players who purchased in-app content directly from Epic, instead of via the standard in-app purchase systems provided on iOS and Android, in violation of Apple and Google's policies. Apple quickly responded by pulling Fortnite from the App Store. Google pulled Fortnite from its Play Store hours later. Epic initially resisted listing Fortnite in Google's Play Store in protest of these policies, before relenting this April. Fortnite can still be installed on Android phones by working around the Play Store, but it can no longer be installed on iOS devices. Existing installations on both platforms still function for now.


Microsoft's Surface Duo is a new Category of Android Device

Aug 12, 2020, 10:04 AM   by Rich Brome

Microsoft is finally ready to launch the unique, dual-screen Surface Duo device it first revealed almost a year ago. The Android 10 device has two 5.6-inch OLED displays, joined by a narrow 360º hinge, which can work together as one 8.1-inch display. Microsoft has customized both the Android OS, and its suite of productivity apps for Android, to enable new dual-screen functionality. The Surface Duo will launch September 10th starting at $1399. It has excellent support for the 4G networks of AT&T and Verizon, and decent support for T-Mobile's 4G network, although it does not support band 71. It will be available unlocked as well as from AT&T. Key specs include a Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 processor, 6 GB of RAM, 128 or 256 GB of storage, Cat. 18 LTE, 3,577 mAh battery capacity, 18W fast charging, fingerprint reader, and USB-C 3.1 including video output to DisplayPort or HDMI. It has an 11 megapixel camera that supports 1080p video conferencing and 4K video capture. The 360º hinge lets the single camera face inward or outward. When open, the Surface Duo is just 4.8mm thick.

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Google Improves Lookout, its App for Blind and Low-Vision People

Aug 11, 2020, 10:48 AM   by Rich Brome

Google has added several major features to Lookout, its app that uses computer vision to help people who are blind or low-vision. The new features include the ability to scan longer documents into readable text, identify food products from their labels, and automatic flash. The updated Lookout app is available now for Android 6+ devices with over 2 GB of RAM.


Google Adds Bedtime Features to its Clock App

Aug 11, 2020, 10:43 AM   by Rich Brome

Google has updated its own Clock app with a Bedtime tab to help users maintain a consistent sleep schedule. The feature initially debuted on Pixel phones, but is now available for all Android (version 6+) phones. The new tab includes the ability to track your screen time at night, fall asleep to a variety of soothing sounds, and wake up more gently with visual cues from the Sunrise Alarm and your favorite sounds or song. It works in concert with the Bedtime features built into the Android OS, which remind you when it's time for bed and limit interruptions by keeping your phone dark and quiet while you sleep.


Google Turning Android Phones Into Earthquake Detection Network

Aug 11, 2020, 10:30 AM   by Rich Brome

Google is launching two new earthquake-related features on Android today. First, Google is enabling Android phones in California to receive alerts from the state's ShakeAlert early-detection network. In many cases, the notifications can give users a few seconds of warning before an earthquake, enough time to find cover. Second, Google has launched its own earthquake-detection system that uses the accelerometers in Android phones. Starting today, if "the phone detects something that it thinks may be an earthquake, it sends a signal to our earthquake detection server, along with a coarse location of where the shaking occurred. The server then combines information from many phones to figure out if an earthquake is happening." Eventually, Google plans to use this new data to power a notification system like the one in California. But initially, the system will only feed Google search results for searches such as "earthquake" or "earthquake near me".


Google Bringing Calendar, New App Categories to Android Auto

Aug 11, 2020, 10:06 AM   by Rich Brome   updated Aug 11, 2020, 10:14 AM

Google has added a Calendar app to Android Auto, and is working to allow navigation, parking, and EV charging apps from third-party developers. The Calendar app makes it easy to get driving directions to locations saved in calendar events, and call phone numbers saved with events. The company has also added a new Settings app to Android Auto. For the additional categories, Google is working with developers such as ChargePoint, SpotHero and Sygic to launch beta apps by the end of this year. The move follows Apple's announcement in June that it will allow parking, EV charging, and fast food ordering apps in CarPlay with the launch of iOS 14.


Galaxy Note20 Series Focuses on Video, Note-Taking

Aug 5, 2020, 9:00 AM   by Rich Brome

Samsung today revealed its latest Galaxy Note phones: the Galaxy Note20 and Galaxy Note20 Ultra. On the software side, the new Note phones include an overhauled Samsung Notes app with free cloud sync, PDF annotation, nested folder structure, personalized handwriting neaten-ing, sound recordings time-synced with your own notes, and sync with both OneNote and Outlook. The S Pen supports five new gestures, allowing general Android navigation using only the S Pen as a remote control. The Note20 series also includes advanced video features such as 8K video capture, multi-track audio including remote mics (USB or Bluetooth), manual controls, variable-speed zoom, and the ability to use the extra mics in the new Galaxy Buds Live earbuds to better cancel out background noise. Updated Link to Windows integration now lets you access your mobile apps directly from your Windows 10 PC. The Note20 series also features 120 Hz display refresh, brighter screens, Snapdragon 865+ processor, 25W fast charging, 15W wireless charging, 5G (including mmWave in most versions), and IP68 water resistance. The standard Note20 has a more rounded design, flat 6.7-inch FHD+ display, 4,300 mAh battery, 8 GB RAM, and 128 GB storage. The Note20 Ultra has a more sharp-cornered design, 6.9-inch QHD+ display with curved sides and the new Gorilla Glass Victus, 4,500 mAh battery, 12 GB RAM, 128 or 512 GB storage, and a memory card slot. The Ultra also adds UWB for precise relative positioning, similar to a feature introduced in the iPhone 11. At launch, the Note20 Ultra will support UWB for Point To Share file-sharing and digital key applications, with more uses planned. On the camera side, the two models take different approaches to implementing zoom, much like the S20 series. The standard model has a 12 megapixel standard camera, plus a 64 megapixel camera for 8K video and up to 3x real zoom. The Ultra model has a 108 megapixel main camera for 8K video and 1–4x zoom, plus a 5x optical tele camera (12 megapixel). Samsung's "Space Zoom" adds 10x digital zoom, for total zoom of 30x on the Note20 and 50x on the Ultra. Both models also have a 12 megapixel wide camera and 10 megapixel selfie camera with auto-focus. The standard model will come in Mystic Bronze, Mystic Green, and Mystic Gray, while the Ultra will come in Mystic Bronze, Mystic Black, and Mystic White. Select colors have a "haze" effect matte finish that resists fingerprints. Pre-orders start August 6th, will full availability on the 21st. The Note20 Ultra will start at $1300, while the standard Note20 will start at $1000. Most US carriers will offer the Note20 series, including Verizon and Xfinity Mobile. The phones will also be available unlocked. All pre-orders include a credit to spend with Samsung on accessories, etc.: $100 for the Note20 and $150 for the Ultra. The credit can be used for an Xbox Game Pass Ultimate Bundle, which includes a Bluetooth game controller and 3 months of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate with cloud gaming.


Nearby Share, Google's Answer to AirDrop, Comes to Android

Aug 4, 2020, 12:03 PM   by Rich Brome

Google today announced Nearby Share, a new feature being added to Android 6 and newer that makes it easier to share files with other Android devices nearby. There are controls over visibility to prevent unwanted file transfer requests, and each transfer can be accepted or declined. The feature automatically selects the best technology to execute the transfer quickly, utilizing Bluetooth, Bluetooth LE, WebRTC, or peer-to-peer Wi-Fi. Google Pixel and certain Samsung phones will receive the feature starting today. Google "will continue to work with our partners to bring Nearby Share to more smartphones in the Android ecosystem over the next few weeks."


Xbox Cloud Gaming Launching on Android September 15th

Aug 4, 2020, 11:15 AM   by Rich Brome

Microsoft's Project xCloud cloud-based game-streaming service will officially launch September 15th as a "cloud gaming" feature included with the new Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription service. Game Pass Ultimate costs $15/month, with an intro price of $1 for the first month. In addition to cloud gaming, Xbox Game Pass Ultimate includes access to more than 100 high-quality games for console and PC; exclusive member discounts, deals, perks, and Xbox Live Gold. Cloud gaming will be available via the "Xbox Game Pass" app for Android. An iOS version is planned, but not yet available. Razer and other companies are developing new phone accessories designed to work with the service, including "different types of phone clips..., travel controllers..., and exclusive Xbox-branded controllers that split apart and attach to the side of your phone." The new cloud gaming service replaces the Project xCloud "preview", which will end September 11th. Microsoft also revealed that it will have related news to share at tomorrow's Samsung event, where the next Note-series phone is expected to be announced.


WhatsApp Launches Fact-Checking Feature for Forwarded Messages

Aug 4, 2020, 10:57 AM   by Rich Brome

WhatsApp is adding to its features to fight the spread of misinformation. Already, messages forwarded more than five times have a special icon. Now, those messages will also have a search button next to them. The new "search the web" button performs a Google search on the relevant info, to enable message recipients to perform their own fact-checking. The feature is being rolled out starting today in the US, Brazil, Italy, Ireland, Mexico, Spain, and UK, for those on the latest versions of WhatsApp for Android and iOS.


Netflix Adding Speed Controls to Mobile Apps

Aug 2, 2020, 2:42 PM   by Rich Brome

Netflix is rolling out variable speed playback to its mobile apps, starting with a rollout to Android users over the next few weeks. The company plans to test the feature with its iOS app and web playback as well. Four new playback speeds are available: 0.5x, 0.75x, 1.25x, and 1.5x. Similar features have been available in YouTube and podcast apps for some time.


Google, Apple Tweak COVID-19 Exposure Notifications to be More Useful

Jul 31, 2020, 2:14 PM   by Rich Brome

Google today provided an update on the quickly-evolving Exposure Notifications System (ENS) they developed and launched in partnership with Apple to augment pandemic contact tracing efforts. The system now supports interoperability between countries and states, including a "national key server" run by the Association of Public Health Laboratories to allow the system to work across the 20 US states and territories using ENS with their own official public health apps. Also, "Bluetooth calibration values for hundreds of devices have been updated to improve the detection of nearby devices". As always, ENS is completely anonymous, does not track your location, and is opt-in. Google also explained the technical reasons users may be asked to turn on "location services" to use ENS, even though ENS does not us location data and ENS apps are prohibited from collecting location data. At a system level, in Android 10 and earlier, permission for an app to use Bluetooth is linked to "location services" because the app may connect to Bluetooth beacons, which are intended to mark locations. But ENS apps are prohibited from gathering this data. In Android 11, ENS apps will be given an exemption that allows the location services setting to remain off, since those apps cannot collect such data.


Google Offers New Free Backup Options for iOS and Android

Jul 30, 2020, 8:54 AM   by Rich Brome

Google has sweetened its Google One service to offer full, automatic phone backup for free for all Android phones. (Full automatic phone backup previously required a paid subscription.) The company is also launching a Google One app for iOS, which will offer a free backup service and storage manager for that platform. On iOS, Google One will be able to back up photos, videos, contacts, and calendar events. The Google One service on both platforms uses the 15 GB of storage that comes free with all Google accounts. Google One will continue to offer paid subscriptions that offer more storage and enhanced support.


Google Messages Adds Reactions

Jul 22, 2020, 2:14 PM   by Rich Brome   updated Jul 22, 2020, 2:14 PM

Google has updated Messages — its own standards-based rich messaging app for Android — to support emoji-like message reactions, similar to the reactions features in iMessage and Facebook. Available reactions are: like, love, laughter, surprise, sadness, anger, and dislike. The feature only works in "conversations with chat features enabled", referring to message threads using rich messaging (RCS) instead of standard text messaging SMS. Google and some US carriers have been increasingly supporting RCS on new Android phones in the past couple of years.


Wiko's new Affordable Ride has Better Specs

Jul 21, 2020, 8:58 AM   by Rich Brome   updated Jul 21, 2020, 2:43 PM

French phone maker Wiko has announced the Ride 2, its second phone for the US. Like the original Ride, the new Ride 2 is an entry-level Android phone exclusive to Boost. Step-ups compared to the original Ride include an HD resolution display, 32 GB of storage, 8 megapixel main camera, and a 5 megapixel selfie camera. Unchanged are the 5.5-inch display size, 2 GB of RAM, and a memory card slot. Other specs include a 2,500 mAh battery, Mediatek Helio A22 processor, IP52 water resistance, FM radio, headset jack, and micro-USB connector. The Ride 2 is available now directly from Boost for $40 (for a limited time, normal price $90). Starting August 1st, it will be available from Walmart for $35.


Facebook Messenger Adds Screen Sharing

Jul 17, 2020, 10:49 AM   by Rich Brome

Facebook has updated its Messenger app for iOS and Android to support screen sharing. Screen sharing lets you share a live view of your screen as you use other apps such as your camera roll, browser, games, or social media. The feature works with group video chats of up to 8 people. In Messenger Rooms, the feature works with up to 16 people, a limit that will soon be raised to 50.


Qualcomm Refreshes Smartwatch Chips

Jun 30, 2020, 4:35 PM   by Rich Brome

Qualcomm's latest chipset to power smartwatches is the Snapdragon Wear 4100 Platform. The new platform brings improved performance and efficiency. An optional Always On (AON) co-processor chip brings new always-on features, including continuous heart rate monitoring and sleep tracking. The new AON chip also supports always-on displays with 64,000 colors (up from 16 in the previous generation) and faster tilt-to-wake responsiveness. The main Snapdragon Wear 4100 chip offers 85% faster performance compared to Snapdragon Wear 3100 platform and supports cameras up to 16 megapixel. The 4100 uses a 12nm manufacturing process, offering much better efficiency compared to the 28nm process used for the 3100. The Category 4 LTE modem supports dual antennas for better data performance. The Snapdragon Wear 4100 platforms support both Wear OS by Google and the Android Open Source Platform (AOSP). Devices using the new chips are expected to ship later this year.


Google's Phone App can Tell You Why a Company is Calling Before You Pick Up

Jun 26, 2020, 11:44 AM   by Rich Brome

Google is rolling out its own call verification system that will allow the incoming call screen on Android phones to not only confirm that a call is legitimate, but also display the calling business' reason for calling and company logo. The feature requires that the phone's default phone app be set to Google's Phone app, that businesses supply this information to Google's servers before each call, and that users have the phone's mobile number associated with their Google account.


iOS 14 Will Allow Quick Biometric Login for Web Sites

Jun 26, 2020, 11:34 AM   by Rich Brome

Apple's Safari 14 web browser — part of the forthcoming iOS 14 for iPhones — adds support for the Web Authentication (WebAuthn) API, part of the industry-standard FIDO2 specification. This will allow mobile web sites to add an option for users to quickly log in via fingerprint or Face ID instead of entering a username and password. This feature is already available in the Chrome browser on Android, and within full apps on both iOS and Android.


Google Photos Adds Map View

Jun 25, 2020, 12:05 PM   by Rich Brome

The Google Photos app and service has been redesigned, and now includes a map feature that lets you explore all of the photos you've ever taken as pins on a map. The map feature is part of a new Search tab in the redesigned app interface. The new Search tab also includes automatic shortcuts to specific people and pets that you frequently photograph, using automatic facial recognition. The new Google Photos app "rolls out over the next week" on Android and iOS.


OnStar Extends its Service to Phones

Jun 25, 2020, 11:53 AM   by Rich Brome

OnStar, the roadside- and emergency-assistance service for GM vehicles, is now available as an app for iOS and Android phones. The new OnStar Guardian app uses phone sensors to detect when you've been in a vehicle crash, including non-GM vehicles without OnStar. It will then automatically connect you with an OnStar Advisor who can provide emergency assistance. On Android, the connection is fully automatic, while on iOS, OnStar will call your phone when a crash is detected. The app also lets you contact an OnStar Advisor at any time for roadside or emergency assistance. Finally, the app has a location-sharing feature for families. The app is available free for six months for any existing OnStar subscriber and up to seven additional family members. OnStar did not disclose what the app may cost after the first six months.


ZTE Brings Entry-Level Blade A3 Prime to Visible

Jun 22, 2020, 7:00 AM   by Rich Brome

Visible is now offering the ZTE Blade A3 Prime for $99. This entry-level Android phone has a fingerprint reader, dual LED flash, and USB-C. Its 5.45-inch display has HD resolution and a tall, modern 2:1 ratio. Other specs include a 2,660 mAh battery, MediaTek Helio A22 processor, dual-band Wi-Fi, 2 GB RAM, 32 GB of storage, memory card slot, and a 3.5mm headset jack. The rear camera is 8 megapixel while the front is 5 megapixel. It runs Android 10.


T-Mobile's REVVL 4+ Will Be Made by TCL

Jun 18, 2020, 4:13 PM   by Rich Brome

Regulatory filings for a new phone from TCL bear the name "REVVL 4+" and describe a phone supporting all of the network bands unique to the T-Mobile/Sprint network. Since 2017, T-Mobile has offered a series of white-label phones under its own "T-Mobile REVVL" brand. Most of the first and second generation REVVL phones were made by TCL. Last year's REVVLRY and REVVLRY+ were the third generation, and the first to be made by Motorola. The filings reveal very few details about the phone, except the FCC approval confirms it will have NFC, and the Bluetooth SIG approval confirms it will have Bluetooth 5.0. The Bluetooth approval for this phone is shared with the TCL 10L, indicating the REVVL 4+ may be based on the 10L. The TCL 10L is a mid-range Android phone with a Snapdragon 665 processor, 48 megapixel main camera, wide-angle camera, and "Super Bluetooth" supporting up to 4 simultaneous connections.


Twitter Starts Rolling out Audio Tweets

Jun 17, 2020, 7:32 PM   by Rich Brome

Twitter has started to roll out a new audio feature that lets users record and share voice clips. It's similar to recording a video of yourself. However, on iOS, when playing them, you can play the audio while continuing to scroll and read other tweets. Audio clips can be up to 140 seconds long. For now, only users of the iOS version of the Twitter app can record and attach audio, but the clips are playable on other platforms, including Android.


App Helps NYC Commuters Find Less-Crowded Train Cars

Jun 16, 2020, 11:39 AM   by Rich Brome

The Long Island Railroad (LIRR) has updated its TrainTime app with real-time visualizations of how crowded each car is on each train, as well as real-time train locations updated every three seconds. Commuters in New York City can use the app to position themselves on the platform so they'll board a less-crowded car when their train arrives, helping riders practice social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic. The new technology is the first of its kind to be deployed in North America. LIRR is using different technology to measure passenger loading depending on train car model. Older trains effectively weigh the car using sensors in the train car suspension. Newer trains use door sensors to count passengers entering and leaving at each stop. The data is reported to a central server, which powers the app. The app displays the data visually as a train, with crowded cars in red, and emptier cars in green. The updated app is available now for both iOS and Android.


Google Stadia Now Works With Most Android Phones, and Without a Controller

Jun 11, 2020, 4:01 PM   by Rich Brome

Google has updated its Stadia game-streaming service to work with almost any Android phone, instead of just a select list. Although there is still a list of "officially supported" phones, and a bunch of OnePlus phones were just added, users with other phones can now opt in to an "experimental" "Play on this device" mode. Also, the Stadia app for Android now works without a physical controller, thanks to new virtual controls overlaid on the screen. The option for these "Mobile touch controls" is presented automatically when starting the app without a physical controller connected. Stadia also now supports device-specific resolution settings.


Google Releases Public Beta of Android 11

Jun 10, 2020, 1:34 PM   by Rich Brome

The first public beta version of Android 11 is now available for Pixel phones. The release contains several new features not previously announced, in addition to features announced in February. Long-pressing the lock/power button will now bring up smart home controls, in addition to Google Pay and power options. New media controls make it easier to switch audio and/or video outputs. To enhance privacy, app permissions will automatically reset when an app hasn't been used for "an extended period of time". Also improved are keyboard suggestions, Voice Access, the Share menu, and features for developers. The beta is available now for Pixel 2+ phones, and other devices in the coming weeks.


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