Facebook today made Paper version 1.1 available to the iPhone. Paper re-encapsulates Facebook content and presents it in a more appealing digital magazine. Today's update adds a number of new features including: birthdays and other events, photo commenting, group updates, new story buttons, more article covers, and accessibility options. Paper is only available to the iPhone at the moment, though Facebook said an Android version is in the works. Paper 1.1 for iPhone is free to download from the iTunes App Store.
AT&T today upped the amount of data available to its GoPhone plans at no additional charge. Beginning April 25, the $40 plan jumps from 250MB to 500MB per month, and the $60 plan jumps from 2GB to 2.5GB per month and adds Wi-Fi hotspot. AT&T inserted a new $45 plan in between the two, which includes 1GB of data and is available at Walmart stores. Customers who already subscribe to these plans will receive the added data automatically. AT&T GoPhone is a prepaid service that does not require contracts.
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Verizon Wireless today made a system update available to the HTC One (M8). The update adds several minor features to the Gallery app, including a copy/paste function, and resolves a number of bugs, such as web connection errors and data syncing when the Dot Matrix case is attached. The system update is free to download and install.
Microsoft today announced the availability of WinJS 2.1, a tool developers can use to help port their Windows apps to Windows Phone 8.1. Microsoft says it should be painless for most developers to recreate their full Windows apps for the Windows Phone platform thanks to WinJS 2.1's familiar set of technologies, APIs, and other resources. WinJS 2.1 ties into recent changes made to Visual Studio, which includes templates for Windows apps, Windows Phone apps, and universal apps that run on both platforms. Microsoft hopes the allure of universal apps will entice developers into supporting Windows Phone.
MetroPCS announced the availability of the Samsung Galaxy S5, which is in stores and online beginning today. The GS5 costs $649 and can be paired with Metro's $40 no-contract plans.
Samsung today published an infographic explaining how its Milk streaming music service works. The company launched Milk earlier this year. It is based on Slacker's music engine and gives Galaxy-branded device owners free, ad-free streaming. The infographic suggests, however, that Milk is ad-free for only a limited time and will eventually include advertisements for basic service. The premium version, which Samsung indicates will launch soon, will cost $3.99 per month and include an ad-free experience as well as other exclusive features. Samsung did not say when this switch might be made.
Samsung delivers a delightful device in the Galaxy S5. This powerful Android smartphone offers a more refined experience than its predecessor and manages to raise the bar at least a little bit.
Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler today reasserted his belief that AT&T and Verizon need to be restricted from purchasing too much 600MHz spectrum in the reverse auction planned for mid 2015. Wheeler's comments came in the form of a letter in which he responded to Representative John Barrow. "The Incentive Auction offers the opportunity, possibly the last for years to come, to make low-band spectrum available to any mobile wireless provider, in any market, that is willing and able to compete at auction," said Wheeler. "At the same time, a priority of the auction should be to assure that companies that already possess low-band spectrum do not exploit the auction to keep competitors from accessing the spectrum necessary to provide competition." AT&T and Verizon Wireless both hold significant blocks of 700MHz spectrum. Low-band spectrum is coveted for its propagation properties. Wheeler wants to make sure smaller companies, such as Sprint and T-Mobile, get a shot at the 600MHz airwaves. Wheeler's proposal involves reserving 30MHz in each market for companies that control less than one-third of the low-band spectrum in that market. This essentially precludes AT&T and Verizon from participating. AT&T believes the conditions are unfair and amount to the FCC picking the auction's winners and losers before it even starts. The company threatened to not participate, which could hurt the auction's ability to raise capital for a national safety network.
Microsoft has begun allowing developers to post responses to reviews of their application in the Windows Phone Store. For now, Microsoft is limiting this feature on a trial basis, though it will expand soon. The responses are emailed to the review author through Microsoft. Microsoft does not provide the developer with reviewer contact data. Microsoft thinks the ability to respond to user reviews will help developers improve their apps over time. Developers will be able to respond to reviews posted from devices running Windows Phone 8 and Windows Phone 8.1 only. The feature will be limited to the U.S. from the onset. Microsoft didn't say if it will expand review responses to more countries.
Facebook today announced a new feature that will let people share their location with their friends. The tool, called Nearby Friends, is opt-in and needs to be turned on by users. It can be turned off at any time. Users will be able to share their location with all their friends, just close friends, or with specific lists of people. In order to see friends who are nearby, other users will need to have it on and share their location, too. The feature lets people share their exact location for a defined period of time, which is then visible on a map in order to make the person easy to find. Facebook suggests Nearby Friends be used by people to meet up when near one another. Nearby Friends will be added to the Android and iOS apps in the coming weeks.
Verizon Wireless today announced the LG Lucid 3, a low-cost Android smartphone. The Lucid 3 includes a 4.7-inch qHD display and a 1.2GHz quad-core processor. It features a 5-megapixel camera with full HD video capture and a VGA user-facing camera for self portraits. The phone runs Android 4.4.2 KitKat and comes with a wide selection of LG apps, such as Knock Code, QSlide and QuickMemo. Other features include Isis Mobile Wallet, Bluetooth 4.0, LTE 4G, and a removable 2,440mAh battery. The LG Lucid 3 is free with a new two-year agreement, $12.50 per month with Verizon Edge, or $300 at full retail. It is available beginning today.
Flickr today introduced completely new versions of its mobile app for Android and iOS devices. The revised photo app places a higher priority on capturing, sharing, and interacting with photos. The photo stream has been redesigned and is easier to navigate. The built-in camera has Instagram-like filters and all photos now have the ability to favorite, share, or comment on them. The app supports video capture and editing, and allows users to upload clips up to 30 seconds in length. It includes more robust editing functions, such as crop, rotate, and tools to fix contrast, exposure, and color. The app makes it a cinch to see metadata so users can examine the details of each photo. Flickr for Android and iOS is free to download from the Google Play Store and iTunes App Store, respectively.
AT&T indicated to the Federal Communications Commission this week that it disapproves of proposed rules for the upcoming incentive auction for 600MHz spectrum. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has floated a plan that would reserve spectrum in each market for companies that don't already have low-band spectrum. Thanks to its 700MHz spectrum holdings, AT&T would be restricted from bidding in about 70% of U.S. markets for the 600MHz spectrum. Wheeler's proposal has yet to be officially implemented, but AT&T's Joan Marsh said, "If the restrictions as proposed are adopted, AT&T will need to seriously consider whether its capital and resources are directed toward other spectrum opportunities that will better enable AT&T to continue to support high-quality LTE network deployments to serve its customers." If AT&T doesn't participate in the auction, it could hinder the FCC's goal of generating money to build a public safety network. The FCC is scheduled to vote on the incentive auction rules by May.
Google updated the YouTube application for Android devices recently and made a number of improvements. YouTube now lets users reply to comments, delete their own comments, and see if comments were shared publicly or privately. The app also improves video quality for devices running Android 4.2 and up, lets users share and like playlists, and moves playlists to the left-hand guide drawer. YouTube for Android is free to download from the Google Play Store.
AT&T is making Android 4.4.2 KitKat available to the LG G Flex starting today. The update includes new status and navigation bars, and improves battery life and processor performance. The update is free to download via Wi-Fi.
Google today announced the availability of Chrome Remote Desktop app for Android, a tool that allows Android devices to remotely access Windows and Mac computers. In order to gain remote PC access, users will need to download and install software on their PC as well as the Chrome Remote Desktop app on their Android device. Once configured, users should be able to access PC-based files from their Android device. The service is free to set up and use. Google said an iOS version of the Chrome Remote Desktop app us due later this year.
Google today released a separate version of the stock camera application that ships with many Android smartphones. The app, which can receive improvements outside of full OS updates, has a slightly revised user interface with larger buttons. Google Camera offers a handful of new features, such as Lens Blur mode, which adds depth-of-field effects to make subjects pop. Google Camera also includes Photo Spheres, panorama mode, and a 100% viewfinder so users see everything that will appear in their photos. Google Camera is available to devices running Android 4.4. KitKat and up.
Aio Wireless, which is owned and operated by AT&T, today announced new service plans that offer increasing discounts for adding lines to a single account. The Group Save plans are available today to accounts with two to five lines of service. According to Aio Wireless, a two-line account will pay full price for the first line and then receive a $10 discount on the second line. A three-line account will receive a $10 discount for the second line and a $20 discount for the third line. Four- and five line accounts will receive a $10 discount on the first line, a $20 discount on the second line, and a $30 discount on the fourth (and fifth) lines. The idea is similar to that of Sprint's Framily Plans, which offer increasing per-line discounts the more lines are added to a single account. AT&T is in the process of acquiring prepaid provider Cricket Wireless. The Aio Wireless brand will eventually be retired in favor of Cricket Wireless.