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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.

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Nokia Brings Another Affordable Phone to Cricket

Jun 20, 2019, 9:40 AM   by Rich Brome

Cricket has started selling the Nokia 3.1 C, a more-affordable version of the Nokia 3.1 Plus that Cricket launched in January. Like its higher-end sibling, the 3.1 C has a tall (2:1 ratio) HD display, USB-C connector, Android 9 (Pie), 32 GB of storage, and 2 GB of RAM. It has a 5.5-inch display, 2,990 mAh battery, a single 8-megapixel rear camera supporting Motion Photos, and a 5-megapixel selfie camera. It's powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 429 processor. It also has a 3.5mm audio jack, FM radio, and memory card slot. Nokia's web site also now lists an identical model called the 3.1 A, implying that Cricket's parent company AT&T will also offer the phone.


Coolpad Legacy Comes to Boost

Jun 18, 2019, 2:14 PM   by Rich Brome

Boost Mobile now offers the Coolpad Legacy, a $100 Android phone with a premium metal design, a huge 6.36-inch screen, and several features not usually found on phones in that price range. Metro by T-Mobile launched the Legacy a month ago for $130 (now $180). The phone has a fingerprint reader, full-HD display with 2:1 aspect ratio, 4,000 mAh battery, Quick Charge 3.0 fast charging, USB-C connector, and Android 9 (Pie). It also offers dual rear cameras, FM radio, and dual-band Wi-Fi. It's powered by a Snapdragon 450 processor, with 3 GB of RAM, 32 GB of storage, and a memory card slot. Boost already offers the lower-end Coolpad Illumina, which has since been renamed "Legacy Go".


Tiny Palm Phone Now Available Unlocked

Jun 18, 2019, 1:48 PM   by Rich Brome

The miniature Palm Android phone — originally a Verizon exclusive — will be available unlocked for $350 in August. With LTE 2/4/5/12/13/66, it's compatible with AT&T, T-Mobile, Metro, and Verizon.


Facebook-Led Group Launches a Cryptocurrency for Consumers

Jun 18, 2019, 9:38 AM   by Rich Brome

Facebook today announced Libra, a new digital currency that aims to combine the best features of other cryptocurrencies in order to be more consumer-friendly. The currency will be administered by the Libra Association, a new non-for-profit based in Geneva. Founding members include Facebook, Mastercard, Visa, PayPal, Stripe, eBay, Lyft, Spotify, Uber, Vodafone Group, and Coinbase, as well as non-profit and academic members. Facebook's new Calibra subsidiary will create a Libra wallet app. The Calibra wallet will not require a Facebook account and Calibra will not share transaction data with Facebook. Third parties will also be able to create their own Libra wallet apps. Users will be able to exchange local currency for Libra (and vice versa) through these wallet apps, and at physical locations. The local currency will be transferred to the Libra Association to provide 100% backing for Libra currency. Interest on those deposits will pay for operating expenses, investments in the ecosystem, engineering research, and grants to non-profits and other organizations. Excess interest will be distributed to founding members. Libra transactions won't carry the high fees that credit cards do, although a small (less than one cent) transaction fee will deter certain spam and denial attacks. The symbol for the Libra is ≋ (three wavy lines). The value of a Libra is tied to a basket of deposits in historically stable international currencies, which can be rebalanced to keep the Libra stable. The Libra's starting value will be close to one dollar, euro, or pound. Libra is much faster and more efficient than Bitcoin, able to handle 1,000 transactions per second and designed to scale much higher. When a transaction is submitted, each of the Libra nodes, run independently by Libra Association members, runs a blockchain calculation. Two-thirds of the nodes must come to consensus that the transaction is legitimate for it to be executed and written to the blockchain. Facebook's Calibra will implement Know Your Customer rules in the sign-up process to prevent fraud, requiring a government-issued photo ID, for example. The Libra Association will incentivize other wallet providers to do the same. Libra is launching a limited test network today. When Libra launches to consumers in the first half of 2020, Facebook will launch Calibra as a standalone wallet app, but also as a feature within Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp on both Android and iOS.


Google Launching RCS Service as Carriers Drag Feet

Jun 17, 2019, 3:58 PM   by Rich Brome

Google will offer its own RCS service for Android users on networks that have not yet launched RCS. RCS is an open industry standard for enhanced messaging, designed to replace SMS and MMS. It offers many of the features of Apple's iMessage, such as read receipts, high-quality attachments, and typing indicators. Most new Android phones support RCS via Google's Messages app and its Chat feature, but it requires support on the network side. RCS was designed so that network operators could launch RCS support on their own networks, but most operators have been slow to adopt RCS. Sprint has launched it. T-Mobile has also launched it, but does not yet support it on all Android phones. Verizon has launched it for Pixel phones and promised greater support in 2019. AT&T does not yet support the Universal Profile that makes it RCS standard and interoperable between networks. RCS servers can be located anywhere on the Internet, though, so Google is launching its own. Google is rolling out the service on a country-by-country basis, starting with the UK and France this month. When available, Android users without an active RCS service will see a new prompt when opening the Messages app, asking if they want to opt in to Google's RCS service. Google has pledged to delete message content from its servers as soon as message delivery is confirmed.


New Police Tool Can Access Any Locked Phone

Jun 17, 2019, 9:32 AM   by Rich Brome   updated Jun 17, 2019, 9:32 AM

An Israeli company that supplies law enforcement agencies worldwide announced that the newest version of its tool to access locked phones can access almost any smartphone, including Apple devices running iOS 7-12.3 and most Android phones. The company, Cellebrite, promises that its new UFED Premium device offers nearly complete access to Apple devices and "flagship Samsung devices", as well as support for accessing the file system on "popular device models from Motorola, Huawei, LG and Xiaomi." The company boasts that its device lets law enforcement "Bypass or determine locks and perform a full file system extraction on any iOS device, or a physical extraction or full file system (File-Based Encryption) extraction on many high-end Android devices.... gain access to 3rd party app data, chat conversations, downloaded emails and email attachments, deleted content and more". Apple has added features to iOS in recent years to thwart this kind of access, and is rolling out iOS 13 this summer and fall.


Hands On with Anker's tiny new USB-C fast chargers

Jun 14, 2019, 11:00 AM   by Rich Brome   updated Jun 14, 2019, 11:01 AM

Anker continues to crank out a steady stream of universal chargers, batteries, and similar accessories that are at the leading edge of functionality and small form factors. Their latest PowerPort chargers offer high-power USB-C charging in tiny packages, now with flip plugs for even more portability. They're compatible with all Android fast charging techs, as well as iPhone, via Anker's Apple-certified USB-C-to-Lightning cable. We checked them out in person.

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Skype Launches Screen Sharing

Jun 5, 2019, 9:40 AM   by Rich Brome

The Skype app for iOS and Android now supports screen-sharing in video calls. Microsoft announced the launch of the feature this week, after making it available to beta testers a few weeks ago. The feature lets you share whatever is on your phone's screen, including other apps, with the person on the other end of the video call. Skype also tweaked its video call interface with a new design and the ability to hide all controls during a call.


Google Tightens Play Store Rules on Loot Boxes, Marijuana, More

May 30, 2019, 9:55 AM   by Rich Brome

Google is adding new restrictions on Android apps available through its Play Store. Games that offer "loot boxes" for sale must now clearly disclose the odds of receiving items in advance of purchase. Apps that facilitate marijuana sale or delivery are now banned. Developers of all apps must now associate their app with more specific age targets (such as 6-8 and 13-15) and comply with stricter rules for younger age groups. Google is now applying much stricter rules regarding sexual content and hate speech.


Bittium Launches New Ultra-Secure Phone

May 28, 2019, 9:38 AM   by Rich Brome

Bittium's new Tough Mobile 2 is a mid-range smartphone with unusually advanced security features, designed for organizations with exceptional security needs, including governments and militaries. A privacy switch disables microphones, cameras, and Bluetooth at a hardware level, and reduces sensor sensitivity to prevent fingerprinting. The operating system is secured against rooting and tampering, validated in hardware and software at boot. A hardware secure element stores user credentials. A Workspaces feature creates isolated OS environments that keep work data separate from personal data, and confidential data from different organizations separate. The phone is designed and manufactured in Finland, and Bittium supervises phones from manufacturing to customer delivery. Also, the component and software solutions can be audited by authorities. The phone is also rugged, military rated for shock and drop, and IP67 for dust and water. The 5.2-inch full-HD screen works when wet and through gloves. The Tough Mobile 2 is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 670 chip with 4 GB of RAM. It runs Android 9 (Pie) and has 64 GB of internal storage plus a memory card slot. Its 12-megapixel main camera can record 4K video. It has customizable physical shortcut buttons, including privacy, PTT, and emergency. It has NFC, dual-band Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth 5.0. It's fully compatible with all LTE bands used by Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint, including FirstNet (band 14). Pricing starts at 1550 €.


Google Duo Gains Group Video Calling

May 23, 2019, 4:41 PM   by Rich Brome

Google today announced the global launch of a group video calling feature for its Google Duo app. The feature lets up to eight people join a live video chat at once. It's available for both iOS and Android. Apple's FaceTime has supported group calls of up to 32 people since January, but only works on iOS devices.


Hands On with the Blu G9

May 22, 2019, 9:00 AM   by Rich Brome

The Blu G9 is $180 Android phone that tries very hard to look like a flagship-level phone, and pulls off the look pretty well. Its HD screen has a small notch, it supports fast charging of the large 4,000 mAh battery, and it has 4GB of RAM, so there's substance behind the style. What's this eye-catching phone like in person? We checked it out.

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Blu G9 Offers Large Battery, Premium Look for Less

May 22, 2019, 9:00 AM   by Rich Brome

The Blu G9 went on sale today, offering mid-range specs and flagship looks for just $130 for a limited time on Amazon, and $180 thereafter. The phone has a metallic frame and glass-like metallic back with color gradient. Its 6.3-inch HD screen has a small notch and a 19:9 aspect ratio. Its large 4,000 mAh battery supports fast charging via USB-C. It also has dual rear cameras, Android 9 (Pie), a MediaTek Helio P22 processor, 4 GB of RAM, and 64 GB of storage. It also has a fingerprint reader, 3.5mm audio jack, and memory card slot. The G9, an unlocked phone, has Cat. 6 LTE in bands 2, 4, 5, 12, and 13, providing basic support for AT&T and T-Mobile networks.


Tor Privacy Browser Now Available for Android

May 22, 2019, 8:59 AM   by Rich Brome

The Tor web browser is now available for Android phones. Tor provides complete privacy and anonymity using "onion routing", which routes traffic through multiple servers to mask its source, and encrypts it each step of the way. The Tor browser interface is based on the familiar Firefox browser. It also provides protections against cross-site tracking and fingerprinting. The Android version has been in alpha since September, but just became available in a final, stable release. It's available now from the Play Store.


ARM Halts Business With Huawei

May 22, 2019, 8:30 AM   by Rich Brome

ARM has stopped doing business with Huawei, potentially ending Huawei's mobile chip business. Essentially all current processors for mobile phones are based on ARM technology and intellectual property. Crucial processor and SoC chips from Qualcomm and Apple are based on ARM designs. Similarly, Huawei's own Kirin chips rely on ARM intellectual property (IP). All major mobile OSes, such as Android, are designed to work on ARM's architecture. The US government recently barred US companies from doing business with Huawei, cutting off Huawei's access to hardware from Qualcomm and software from Google. Huawei was relying on its own Kirin chips to continue making phones independently of Qualcomm, but Kirin chips face an uncertain future without access to ARM IP. This challenges Huawei's future ability to make phones and sell them outside of China. ARM is headquartered in Cambridge, UK and it owned by Japanese conglomerate SoftBank, but ARM has significant offices in the US and its designs contain "US origin technology".


Wiko's First US Phone is The Ride, an $80 Phone for Boost

May 21, 2019, 7:00 AM   by Rich Brome

French phone maker Wiko today made its US debut with launch of the Ride, an $80 Android phone available now from Boost. The Ride is an entry-level phone with a 5.45-inch display, 5 megapixel main camera, 2 megapixel selfie camera, 2 GB of RAM, 16 GB of storage, and a 2,500 mAh removable battery. It has a memory card slot, 3.5mm audio jack, and runs Android version 9 (Pie). Wiko is a 5,000-person company that makes phones with a focus on design that are popular in Western Europe. To support its US operations, the company is opening offices in Plano, TX and Atlanta, GA.


Trump Ban Cuts Huawei Off From Google's Android

May 20, 2019, 10:33 AM   by Rich Brome

The Trump administration issued an executive order last week preventing "foreign adversaries" from doing telecommunication business in the US. Although the order's wording was vague, the implementation includes preventing Huawei from doing business with any US software or hardware supplier, including Google, Intel, Qualcomm, and Broadcom. This means Huawei will no longer be able to ship new phones to western markets with Google's version of Android that includes the Play Store, Google Maps, Google Assistant, and Gmail. Huawei can still use the open-source version of Android, but Android phones without Google services are a tough sell in western markets. Although Huawei can use its own SoC chips instead of Qualcomm's, being cut off from US hardware suppliers is likely to affect its smartphone business worldwide. The company has reportedly been stockpiling chips and parts from US companies for months to prepare for this possibility.


Minecraft + AR + The World = Minecraft Earth

May 17, 2019, 8:41 AM   by Rich Brome

Microsoft is working on a new Minecraft game for phones that uses AR to overlay Minecraft as a persistent, massively multiplayer game over the whole planet. Players will be able to build with Minecraft blocks anywhere in public. Players will be able to see avatars of other players and collaborate. Adventure challenges will pop up in the game, with rewards like treasure and rare blocks. Microsoft says it will kick off a closed beta of Minecraft Earth this summer on iOS and Android. Microsoft is also starting with select locations before eventually expanding the game to be truly global.


Coolpad Legacy Offers Premium Features for $130

May 13, 2019, 10:00 AM   by Rich Brome

Metro by T-Mobile launched the Coolpad Legacy today, a $130 Android phone with a huge 6.36-inch screen and several features not usually found on phones in that price range. It has a metal frame with Gorilla Glass 3 front, fingerprint reader, full-HD display with 2:1 aspect ratio, 4,000 mAh battery, Quick Charge 3.0 fast charging, USB-C connector, and Android 9 (Pie). It also offers dual rear cameras, FM radio, and dual-band Wi-Fi. It's powered by a Snapdragon 450 processor, with 3 GB of RAM, 32 GB of storage, and a memory card slot. The phone is on sale starting today.

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Android Q Makes Storage Encryption Standard

May 9, 2019, 11:08 AM   by Rich Brome

Android Q will include new cryptography software called Adiantum, which allows any device to keep user data encrypted, something that previously required cryptographic acceleration hardware. Further, Google announced that "all compatible Android devices newly launching with Android Q are required to encrypt user data, with no exceptions". The policy seems to exempt devices that launched with an earlier version of Android but are upgraded to Q. Encrypting user data keeps data on the phone from being accessed when a device is lost or stolen, for example. Google is also making TLS 1.3 standard in Android Q. TLS 1.3 offers faster, more secure protection for network connections, compared to TLS 1.2.


Android Q Allows Speedier OS Updates

May 8, 2019, 2:52 PM   by Rich Brome

Android Q includes a new internal architecture called Project Mainline that splits off certain OS functions into app-like modules that can be updated quickly and easily, without updating the whole OS. This will allow many security and privacy updates to be delivered quickly via Google Play, instead of requiring time-consuming updates of the whole OS created by manufacturers and carriers. The new modules include several that are critical for security and/or have required the most updates in the past. These include module for handling media (photos, videos, and audio), resolving internet domain names, managing app permissions, and cryptography.


Android 10 Brings Live Caption, Dark Mode

May 7, 2019, 1:21 PM   by Rich Brome

Google today revealed some key new features of Android 10 Q. The first is Live Caption, a system-wide feature that uses on-device speech recognition to automatically add captions to any video played on the phone, including video calls. Because it uses new on-device speech recognition, it works quickly, privately, and even offline. A new Focus Mode blocks notifications from a configurable list of "distracting" apps while enabled. A new Dark Mode helps save power on phones with OLED displays. New parental controls built right into the phone's main settings let parents set time limits for specific apps, set a bed time that can be extended with "bonus time" by the parent, approve new app installs, and review screen time by app. New privacy controls offer more granular control over apps using location data. Q also offers better support for foldable phones. The third beta of Android 10 Q will be available soon for 21 devices from 12 different brands.


Google Revamps Android Auto Interface

May 6, 2019, 4:10 PM   by Rich Brome

A redesigned version of Android Auto will roll out this summer. The biggest change is the ability to control two apps at once, with one taking up the main screen, and the other displaying limited controls and/or info in a widget within the persistent bar at the bottom of the screen. For example, the main screen can show navigation maps while Spotify controls appear in the bottom bar. The bottom bar also swaps out app shortcuts for a new voice assistant button, and a button that summons a new notification center. Android Auto can also now automatically launch navigation and resume your music each time you start your car. An expanded layout will appear on cars with wider displays. Android Auto lets an Android phone power a car's dashboard touch screen with an interface optimized for driving with minimal distraction. It's similar to Apple's CarPlay feature. More than 500 car models from 50 different brands support Android Auto.


Microsoft Brings Android Notifications to Windows Desktop

Apr 29, 2019, 9:56 AM   by Rich Brome

A preview version of Windows extends notifications from your Android phone to your Windows desktop. Notifications on the phone are mirrored as Windows notifications in real time, and notifications dismissed in Windows are also dismissed on the phone. The feature is a new part of Windows' Your Phone app, which also lets users sync photos and messages, and can mirror the whole phone interface in a window within Windows.


Coolpad Invites Parents to Beta Test New Monitoring App

Apr 25, 2019, 10:00 AM   by Rich Brome

Coolpad today announced FamilyLabs, a new app that lets parents communicate, locate, and provide remote support to multiple family members, on both Android and iOS phones. The first phase of FamilyLabs is launching on Indigogo, where available bundles include the app, a new Coolpad phone, and service from Mint Mobile. Bundles start at $99 with 1 month of service. Larger bundles include up to three months of service (unlimited talk and text plus 8 GB of 4G data per month). The initial version of the app will offer location tracking, geo-fencing with alerts, content filtering, remote setting of alarms and reminders, and panic alerts. Coolpad will actively solicit feedback and ideas from Indiegogo supporters in order to refine the app before a wider launch beyond Indiegogo. The included phone is the Coolpad Model M, which is based on the REVVL Plus for T-Mobile. Coolpad will make both iOS and Android versions of the app available for Indiegogo customers to download and test on other phones. The target shipping timeframe for Indiegogo customers is June. Beyond the app, FamilyLabs is also a platform and brand Coolpad will use for additional family-oriented products. The company launched Dyno, a smartwatch for kids, in January.

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Google Fit now Available for iOS

Apr 24, 2019, 1:12 PM   by Rich Brome

Google's basic activity-tracking app, Google Fit, is now available for iPhone and other iOS devices. Because it supports Apple Health, it can automatically import activity data captured by Apple Watch. It can also sync with smartwatches powered by Wear OS by Google. Like the Android version of the app, it tracks two key metrics: Move Minutes for basic movement, and Heart Points for more strenuous exercise. It also imports and logs more detailed exercise data. The app encourages you to reach activity goals recommended by the American Heart Association and World Health Organization. Google Fit is available now for free from the Apple App Store.


Google Pay Gains Automatic Import From Gmail

Apr 22, 2019, 12:00 PM   by Rich Brome

A new option has appeared in Google Pay that lets it automatically, continuously import "passes" (including tickets and loyalty cards) from emails received in Gmail. The option is disabled by default, but is available now for most users within the Google Pay app, under Settings > General > Gmail imports. Passes added via this feature are marked with a mail icon, and the pass includes a link to the specific email it was generated from. In our testing, the feature worked with mixed success. Some loyalty programs were imported successfully, showing the loyalty program number and most recent points total. In other cases, it mistook phone numbers for member numbers, and imported four-year-old emails from companies and programs that no longer exist.


Verizon Launches its First Alcatel Phone

Apr 18, 2019, 7:30 AM   by Rich Brome   updated Apr 18, 2019, 8:09 AM

Verizon today started selling the Alcatel Avalon V, an entry-level Android phone that marks the first Alcatel phone to be offered by Verizon. The phone is similar to the Alcatel 1x Evolve already on sale with Metro by T-Mobile, but has a Snapdragon 425 processor instead of a MediaTek chip, and lower-resolution cameras (5 megapixel main and 2 megapixel selfie). The phone is notable for its tall (2:1 aspect ratio) display, which is still uncommon in truly entry-level phones such as this. The phone has a memory card slot, 2.5mm audio jack, and comes with Google Lens image recognition. It's available today for $100.

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Visible Offers Free New Phone With Almost any Trade-In

Apr 10, 2019, 2:00 PM   by Rich Brome

Visible — a relatively new MVNO using the Verizon network and backed by Verizon — is now offering a free new Android phone to new customers who trade in an old Android phone. Unlike most trade-in offers, any working Android phone is accepted, as long as it turns on, is paid off, and is not already compatible with Visible (making the Galaxy S9 and S9+ ineligible). The free new phone is the Visible R2 by ZTE, which has a fingerprint reader, 13-megapixel camera, 2:1 HD display, USB-C, and normally sells for $99. Visible will ship the new phone first, giving customers 14 days to send in the old phone, so new customers are never without a phone. There are no activation fees, shipping fees, taxes, or contracts. Visible offers unlimited service for $40/month, although data is limited to 5 Mbps speeds. The company has no physical locations, offering activation, support, and all customer interactions via its app.

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Android Phones Now Accepted as Hardware Key for Google Login

Apr 10, 2019, 1:34 PM   by Rich Brome

Google has expanded the two-step verification options when logging into Google services on a tablet or computer to allow the use of any Android 7+ phone as a hardware security key. The option is available today, for both personal and business accounts. It requires the Google Chrome browser on the computer or tablet. After entering their password on the computer or tablet, the user only needs to press one button on their phone, initiating the secure exchange of cryptographic keys over Bluetooth, which completes the login. Passwords alone only provide limited security, so two-step verification (2SV) is recommended for most users. Basic versions of 2SV use one-time codes, sent via text or app, as an additional password. But users can be tricked into giving these codes to attackers, and in some cases the codes can be intercepted. The most secure 2SV relies on a separate physical device carried by the user. Google sells such a keychain device — the Titan Security Key — for $50. Now any Android 7+ phone can serve that purpose, although Google still recommends a secure backup key in case the phone is lost.


Google Makes Smart Reply Available to Third-Party Apps

Apr 5, 2019, 2:22 PM   by Rich Brome

Google has turned its Smart Reply technology into an API that third-party Android and iOS developers can easily deploy in their own messaging apps. The software looks at the (up to) ten most recent messages in a thread, applies Google's machine learning algorithm locally (nothing is sent to the cloud,) and suggests three complete replies that can be sent with one tap. The software also uses machine learning to identify sensitive topics, so it can avoid making inappropriate suggestions in response to cases of personal tragedy/hardship or profanity. The feature is part of ML Kit, a suite of APIs that all use machine learning. Google also just added Language Identification to ML Kit. The new Smart Reply API is available first in English, and uses Language Identification to only suggest replies in the appropriate language. The first third-party app to make use of the Smart Reply API is textPlus.


Palm Now Works as Standalone Phone

Apr 4, 2019, 2:58 PM   by Rich Brome

Palm has updated its tiny Android phone to operate as its own standalone smartphone. It was originally introduced as a companion device that required a "full" smartphone to share a phone number and sync with. The companion-device functionality remains, now as an option. The company introduced the standalone option today as part of a major software update. The update also improves camera quality and battery life. For the month of April, Verizon is offering the Palm for $199 (a $150 discount) with a 2-year contract or payment plan. Palm is also offering 50% off all Palm accessories until April 18th.


Google Duplex, Call Screening Expanding Beyond Pixels

Apr 4, 2019, 10:53 AM   by Rich Brome

Google's automated voice assistant features for handling calls on a person's behalf are now rolling out to more phones beyond Google's own Pixel phones. The two features are Duplex and Call Screening. Duplex will make an entire interactive call on a user's behalf, making a reservation with a restaurant or business when requested via Google Assistant. This is rolling out to nearly all Android phones, as well as the iOS version of Google Assistant app. It's available in 43 US states. Call Screening is an alternative to directly answering an incoming call. With it, callers are prompted to explain who they are and why they're calling. The answer is transcribed and displayed in real time on the phone's screen, so you can decide to pick up if it's someone you want to talk to. Call Screening is rolling out now to Motorola g7 and One phones as a software update.


Beats Earbuds Go Full Wireless With PowerBeats Pro

Apr 3, 2019, 2:24 PM   by Rich Brome

The new Powerbeats Pro from Beats use technology borrowed from Apple's latest AirPods to create the first Powerbeats without a wire between the two earbuds. Optimized for workouts, they have redesigned, adjustable rubber loops that hook over the ear like other Powerbeats. Despite being fully wireless, they're 23% smaller and 17% lighter than the Powerbeats3. Like AirPods, they automatically pause when removed from the ear. They also use the same Apple H1 chip as the latest AirPods, which enables them to respond to "Hey Siri" commands. Beam-forming microphones help filter out background noise during calls. Each bud has a full set of identical controls, allowing either one to be used without the other. Beats claims that each bud will last for 9 hours of music, and the included charging case brings that up to 24 hours total. Quick charging provides 1.5 hours of music playback with just five minutes of charging. Powerbeats Pro are compatible with both iOS and Android phones. Apple will sell the Powerbeats Pro in May for $250. They will be available in Black, Navy, Moss, and Ivory.


Samsung Grows A-Series with Four New Models

Mar 26, 2019, 9:56 AM   by Rich Brome   updated Mar 26, 2019, 11:03 PM

Samsung today published selected details of the new Galaxy A70, A40, A20, and A10 Android phones. These complement the Galaxy A30 and A50 the company announced a month ago. The A70 is the highest-end of the bunch. Although Samsung's A series is generally mid-range, the A10 is a decidedly entry-level model. It's not yet clear which models may come to the US, although the FCC has approved a version of the Galaxy A20 that's relatively friendly with the US networks. All of the new models have extra-tall displays with small centered notches and Android 9.0 (Pie).

  • A70: Sports a large 6.7-inch AMOLED display with full-HD resolution and 20:9 aspect ratio. It also has 32-megapixel cameras on the front and back, additional wide and depth cameras on the back, a huge 4,500 mAh battery, 25W Super-Fast Charging, in-display fingerprint reader, 6 or 8 GB of RAM, and a "Glasstic" body like the A50.
  • A40: A compact model around the size of the Galaxy S10e, it has a 5.9-inch AMOLED display with full-HD resolution and 19.5:9 ratio. It also sports a 25-megapixel selfie camera, 16-megapixel main camera, 5-megapixel wide camera, 4 GB of RAM, 3,100 mAh battery, rear fingerprint reader, and a "Glasstic" body. (not pictured)
  • A20: A more affordable model with a large display and battery. The AMOLED display measures 6.4 inches and has HD resolution. It has a 4,000 mAh battery, fast charging, 13 megapixel main camera with f/1.9 aperture, 5-megapixel wide camera, 3 GB of RAM, and a rear fingerprint reader.
  • A10: The LCD display measures 6.2 inches and has HD resolution. The battery rates 3,400 mAh, the rear camera is 13-megapixel, and the selfie camera is 5-megapixel. It has 2 GB of RAM and a memory card slot. (not pictured)
An unannounced Galaxy A60 has also been approved by the FCC, although the approval reveals little about that model.


AT&T Picks up Rugged Kyocera DuraForce Pro 2

Mar 22, 2019, 10:47 AM   by Rich Brome

AT&T today launched sales of the Kyocera DuraForce Pro 2, an extra-rugged Android phone with waterproof body and a non-incendive rating. The 5-inch, full-HD display works through gloves and when wet. It has a 13-megapixel main camera plus wide-angle camera, fingerprint reader, NFC, barometer, memory card slot, wireless charging, and fast charging via USB-C. It utilizes a Qualcomm Snapdragon 630 processor with 4 GB of RAM and supports LTE Cat. 9 on all AT&T bands, including band 14 supporting FirstNet, as well as bands 29 and 30. It's powered by a 3,240 mAh non-removable battery. Verizon launched its own version of the phone in November. AT&T is offering the DuraForce Pro 2 today via online and business channels for $450.


Opera Browser Adds Free VPN

Mar 20, 2019, 10:57 AM   by Rich Brome

The Opera web browser for Android now includes a free VPN service, for securing data over untrusted networks such as public Wi-Fi. Opera for Android version 51 includes the feature, which is activated with a simple toggle, requiring no sign-in nor account. Opera lets users choose from one of several VPN server locations around the world, and does not log user activity. Opera for Android also includes an ad blocker. The new Opera app is available now from the Play Store.


Stadia is Google's Game-Streaming Service

Mar 19, 2019, 1:56 PM   by Rich Brome

Google today announced a new, cloud-based service called Stadia that lets people play high-quality games on any device without downloading them. It also caters to people who like to watch others play games, in a way that's integrated with YouTube and competes with Twitch. The service supports high-end 3D games (such as Assassin's Creed) at up to 4K / 60 fps, on any device that supports Chrome, including Android phones, tablets, low-end desktops, and TVs with certain Chromecast dongles. It supports existing input devices, as well as a new Stadia Controller that links directly to the cloud via Wi-Fi. The controller has a headset jack, share/stream button, and Google Assistant button. Games run in Google Cloud datacenters, on special Linux-based Stadia instances that have twice the graphics performance of a modern game console such as the Xbox One X or PS4 Pro. The YouTube integration allows gamers to jump right into a multi-player game directly from a livestream. It supports advanced split-screen features, and the ability to share a playable game moment with other players with simple links. Stadia also supports cross-platform features to link to other game platforms.


First Beta of Android Q Available to Developers

Mar 13, 2019, 2:43 PM   by Rich Brome   updated Mar 13, 2019, 2:49 PM

Google has released the first beta version of Android Q for Pixel phones. It's intended for developers to start working on app compatibility, and doesn't necessarily include all of the eventual consumer-facing features of the OS. Android Q will bring privacy, security, and performance enhancements. It also adds native support for peer-to-peer Wi-Fi, extended caller-ID and robocall-blocking features, foldable phones, and photo depth maps. It improves support for password managers. It also lets users easily activate certain hardware features (mobile data, wi-fi, NFC, and sound) at the moment an app requires those features, using simple pop-ups instead of needing to dive into the full Settings app. The beta is available now for all Pixel phones, including the very first models.


Sony Brings PS4 Remote Play to iOS

Mar 8, 2019, 1:37 PM   by Rich Brome

The Sony PlayStation 4 Remote Play app is now available for iOS, accompanied by a corresponding update to the software for the PS4 itself. The app allows users to stream games from their PS4 console to an iOS mobile device over Wi-Fi. The graphics for compatible games are streamed in real-time, overlaid with on-screen controls. The app also lets gamers use the mic and keyboard of their mobile device to interact with games. It requires an iPhone 7 or later, and iOS 12.1 or later. An Android version of the app has been available for several years, but is restricted to Sony's Xperia phones.


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