Samsung is not infringing on patents held by Nvidia, says the U.S. International Trade Commission. Nvidia filed the lawsuit more than a year ago, wherein it claimed Samsung's Exynos chips made use of Nvidia's technology without authorization or payment. Nvidia made similar claims against Qualcomm, targeting the company's Snapdragon processors. A law judge cleared Samsung of violating two of three Nvidia patents, and declared the third invalid. With an initial ruling in the books, the decision will be reviewed by the full ITC council before a final judgment is rendered. The ITC has the power to enact import bans and is often used as a venue for tech companies to play out patent-related squabbles.
Verizon Wireless today revealed five new options for customers who want to connect their tablets or hotspots to Verizon's network on a no-contract basis. The month-to-month data plans cost $15 per week for 500MB, or $20 per month for 1GB, $35 for 2GB, $60 for 5GB, or $100 for 10GB. Customers can enroll in auto-pay to keep their accounts active, or top up only when needed. Verizon says customers can replenish their accounts directly on their device, online, or via refill cards. The plans are compatible with 3G/4G-equipped tablets and other mobile broadband devices.
The FCC today revealed an unannounced smartphone from OnePlus. The model number listed by the FCC is One E1005. The device differs in design from the OnePlus One and OnePlus Two handsets in that it has round top and bottom edges and an off-set camera on the back. It resembles an iPhone to a certain degree, based on images included in the FCC documents. The FCC indicates the One E1005 has a 1.9GHz processor and support for LTE, Bluetooth, GPS, WiFi, and FM radios. OnePlus handsets generally run Oxygen OS, a forked version of Android Lollipop. The FCC documents don't confirm what platform the E1005 runs. OnePlus has scheduled a media event for Oct. 12 in India, and it's possible the One E1005 will be announced at during that event.
Apple has responded to a series of claims that suggest there are palpable differences in battery life produced by the Samsung- and TSMC-sourced A9 processor in its new iPhones. Both Samsung and TSMC are making the A9 processor for the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus. Samsung's version uses a 14nm process and has a slightly smaller footprint than the TSMC 16nm chip. Several benchmark tests (AnTuTu, Geekbench, et al) imply that Samsung's A9 drains the battery up to two hours sooner than TSMC's A9. Apple says such tests aren't realistic and real-world variances are in the order of 2-3% — or about 12 to 15 minutes per day under normal usage. "Certain manufactured lab tests which run the processors with a continuous heavy workload until the battery depletes are not representative of real-world usage, since they spend an unrealistic amount of time at the highest CPU performance state," said Apple in a statement provided to Techcrunch. "It's a misleading way to measure real-world battery life. Our testing and customer data show the actual battery life of the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus, even taking into account variable component differences, vary within just 2-3% of each other." Such variances fall into acceptable norms for most consumer electronics.
Apple Watch owners can now read their incoming Facebook Messenger messages on their wearable. A recent update to the iOS app adds compatibility with Apple's smartwatch. People can also send voice clips, likes, and stickers. In addition to Apple Watch functionality, Facebook Messenger will now reveal contacts and conversations in the iPhone's search tool. Moreover, Facebook Messenger gains support for the iPad's split-screen multitasking capability. Facebook Messenger is free to download from the iTunes App Store.
California Governor Jerry Brown signed a new law that prohibits the government from snooping on citizens' electronic communications without first obtaining a warrant. The law, called the California Electronic Communications Privacy Act, forbids the government from "accessing electronic device information by means of physical interaction or electronic communication with the device." For example, police will no longer be able to use stingrays unless they get permission from a judge to do so. Stingrays act like cell towers and trick phones into connecting with them. Once connected, police are able to pull location, call, messaging, and other data from handsets in bulk. One complaint about stingrays centers on the fact that they collect data on thousands of innocent citizens while police search for specific devices. The law was backed by the ACLU and tech companies including Airbnb, Apple, Facebook, and Google. Its broad language means it can be applied to future technologies if needed. "Governor Brown just signed a law that says 'no' to warrantless government snooping in our digital information. This is a landmark win for digital privacy and all Californians," said Nicole Ozer, an ACLU lawyer. California isn't the first to enact such legislation. Similar laws already exist in Minnesota, Utah, Virginia, and Washington. The law covers California-based law enforcement, but not federal organizations.
Apple has added the option to purchase SIM-free, unlocked iPhones to its web site. The iPhone 6s (model A1633) and iPhone 6s Plus (model A1634) are compatible with a wide range of LTE networks, including those of AT&T, T-Mobile, and can be used on any GSM network in the U.S. or abroad. The devices are sold at full cost, without carrier contracts or obligations.
iPhone owners will be able to pay for purchases at Starbucks shops beginning next year, reports Re/code. Apple Pay exec Jennifer Bailey said Apple and Starbucks will begin trialling Apple Pay in some stores this year, with the broader roll-out to all U.S. stores expected some time in 2016. Bailey did not say if Apple Pay will include Starbucks' customer loyalty program. Apple Pay is available on the iPhone 6, 6 Plus, 6s, and 6s Plus. Apple's mobile payment service launched last October at 700,000 locations and has slowly added more retailers and banks over the last twelve months. Starbucks maintains its own mobile app and mobile payment service through which customers can earn rewards. Chili's and KFC also plan to support Apple Pay in 2016.
AT&T today enabled WiFi calling on the iPhone. iPhone owners who've updated to iOS 9 can make and receive voice calls via WiFi rather than cellular networks. The feature is meant to help people remain connected when cellular coverage is poor. WiFi calling can be set up directly from the iPhone and requires several steps. AT&T says customers have to have a post-paid account set-up wth HD Voice in order to activate the feature. WiFi calling works automatically with the subscriber's existing phone number. The service is free to use. Earlier this week, the FCC granted AT&T permission to offer WiFi calling by approving a waiver concerning services for hard-of-hearing customers. Sprint and T-Mobile have offered WiFi calling for the better part of a year with no such waiver from the FCC. AT&T chided the FCC for failing to take any sort of corrective action against them.
AT&T and T-Mobile have agreed to exchange some PCS and AWS-1 spectrum licenses in a handful of markets. The carriers said identical amounts of spectrum are being traded, so each carrier's spectrum position will remain unchanged in the covered markets. AT&T and T-Mobile claim the exchange will help them create larger 15x15 MHz or 20x20 MHz blocks of contiguous spectrum. Larger blocks of spectrum can be put to more effective use in providing capacity. The markets include Austin, Boston, Minneapolis, Phoenix, Sacramento, and San Antonio. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. The FCC will need to approve the transaction before the companies can exchange the spectrum licenses.
BlackBerry CEO John S. Chen today said its smartphone business needs to generate a profit in 2016, "Otherwise, I have to think twice about what I do there." Chen's comments offer more insight into BlackBerry's frame of mind regarding smartphones. Just last week, the company announced the Priv, a vertical slider that will run Android rather than BlackBerry's own platform. Chen said if the company can port all of BlackBerry's security features to the Android platform, then it may drop BlackBerry OS completely. Chen has previously warned the company might cease making smartphones. "If I can't make money on the phone, I will be out of that telephone handset business," remarked Chen in August. In July, the company said it would make no more than one or two smartphones per year. The Priv is expected to arrive before the end of 2015.
Facebook today said it is prepared to expand the way people interact with posts in the Newsfeed by providing more than just the Like button. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently hinted that the company is working on a way to show more emotional responses to posts. Reactions, which include Like, Love, Haha, Yay, Wow, Sad, and Angry, appear to be the answer. Facebook plans to test Reactions in Ireland and Spain starting this week to gauge how effective they are. Facebook said it will infer people who interact with posts — whether it be to like a story or share empathy — will want to to see similar posts more often. Facebook didn't say how long it plans to test the feature before rolling it out to everyone.
Verizon Wireless intends to increase the price of its grandfathered unlimited mobile data plan by $20 per month to a total of $49.99. The change affects only 1% of Verizon customers, who've held onto these unlimited plans for some time. Verizon doesn't offer unlimited plans to new customers any more, who instead need to purchase mobile data in buckets. Any customer who has an unlimited plan under contract will be able to keep the current pricing until the contract terms are fulfilled; however, the majority of people with unlimited data plans are off contract. The $49.99 includes unlimited data, but not voice/messaging services; those cost extra. To offset the increased price a little bit, Verizon will allow people with these old unlimited plans to purchase devices through an installment plan, rather than the full retail cost. Verizon currently offers data in S, M, L, XL, and XXL allotments in prices ranging from $30 for 1GB to $100 for 15GB. Verizon said the change will go into effect after Nov. 15. Government and corporate accounts will not be affected.
Samsung said a recent hack of subsidiary LoopPay did not impact Samsung Pay, its mobile payment service. Samsung purchased LoopPay in February to bolster its Samsung Pay product, which is able to use NFC and LoopPay's MST technology to make mobile purchases in retail stores. "Samsung Pay was not impacted and at no point was any personal payment information at risk," said Samsung in a statement. "This was an isolated incident that targeted the LoopPay office network, which is a physically separate network from Samsung Pay." Samsung Pay launched just a few weeks ago. It allows owners of the Galaxy S6, S6 Edge, S6 Edge+, and Note 5 to pay for goods and services at a wide range of businesses around the U.S. LoopPay's MST technology makes Samsung Pay much more widely available than Android Pay and Apple Pay, which are limited to terminals with NFC.
Google has updated its Search application for iOS devices and added a few new features along the way. The chief addition is the ability to play animated GIFs in photo search results. Other new functions allow users to add photos to reviews of local places and view maps results when searching for specific addresses. Google Search 9.0 is free to download from the iTunes App Store.
Sony is making more moves to reorganize its varied businesses, including the purchase of an image sensor company and the potential sale of its music-publishing business. First, the company has acquired Softkinetic Systems, based in Belgium, for an undisclosed sum. Softkinetic's technology helps image sensors determine how long it takes light to bounce off an object and return to the sensor. Earlier this week, Sony said it plans to spin off its image sensor business into a separate company amidst strong demand for those products. Second, Sony is looking to sell its half of the Sony/ATV Music Publishing company. Sony and the estate of the late Michael Jackson have each owned 50% of the company since 1995. It is one of the largest music-publishing businesses in the world and boasts the catalogs of The Beatles, Taylor Swift, Marvin Gaye, and the Rolling Stones, among others. The business is valued at about $2 billion, but Sony has not yet put a price tag on it. Sony triggered a clause in its contract with the Jackson estate to sell its half. The Jackson estate will have the opportunity to purchase the entire business or allow it to be sold to a third party. Sony has spent more than year attempting to reinvigorate its numerous businesses as sales of core consumer electronics products such as televisions and smartphones have dropped.
Dish Network is evaluating whether or not to participate in the FCC's 600MHz incentive auction next year, according to an executive. The company might bid on airwave licenses even though it was recently denied a $3.3 billion discount on licenses it won in this year's AWS-3 auction. The company did not say what it plans to do with the spectrum. Dish already owns a significant swath of spectrum, but has yet to deploy any sort of wireless network. Sprint recently said it will not participate in the auction, while T-Mobile has been very vocal about its plans to spend up to $10 billion securing country-wide 600MHz airwaves.
Google today said WhatsApp users will soon be able to back up their conversations, photos, voice messages, and videos to Google Drive. The data will be stored securely and can be used to restore chat histories to new devices. Google said it is rolling the feature out slowly over the next few months.
Google today announced Accelerated Mobile Pages Project, which it hopes will improve the browsing experience on mobile devices. Google developed AMP from HTML and other open web technologies and is offering it to web publishers as an open source framework for optimizing how web pages load across myriad devices and networks. AMP "aims to dramatically improve the performance of the mobile web," said Google. "We want web pages with rich content like video, animations, and graphics to work alongside smart ads, and to load instantaneously." Google built AMP into Google Search and says it will reach other Google products, such as Google News, soon. It has partnered with more than 30 publishers who plan to put AMP to use in their own products. The platform has the support of Twitter, Pinterest, WordPress.com, Chartbeat, Parse.ly, Adobe Analytics, and LinkedIn, as well. The Accelerated Mobile Pages Project is available to publishers via GitHub.
Virgin Mobile USA today announced Data Free Music, a program that lets customers stream an unlimited amount of music over the cellular network with no impact on their data plan. The idea is similar to one from T-Mobile. The feature is being added to Virgin's $35, $45, and $55 plans, which offer 1GB, 3GB, and 8GB of high-speed data, respectively. Customers who have these plans will be able to listen to as much music as they want from iHeartRadio, Pandora, and Slacker Radio. Virgin said it may add more music providers over time. Data consumed via these music streaming providers will not count against customers' monthly data limits. Data Free Music will be available beginning Oct. 9.
Microsoft has revealed via its Facebook page that Windows 10 Mobile will be made available to a handful of Lumia phones in December. The initial list of handsets on deck to receive the update include the Lumia 430/435, 532, 535, 540, 635, 640/XL, 735, 830, and the Lumia 930. Microsoft said the devices will need to be running the Lumia Denim update to Windows Phone 8.1 in order to install Windows 10 Mobile. The Lumia 950 and 950 XL, available in November, will be the first handsets to ship with Windows 10 Mobile.
Cat today said the S40 smartphone is now for sale in the U.S. The phone, which Cat announced earlier this year, is a rugged, waterproof handheld that can handle drops and immersion in water. The S40 has a 4.7-inch qHD screen that's protected by Gorilla Glass 4 and can work with gloves and/or when wet. The phone is powered by a 1.1 GHz quad-core Snapdragon processor with 1 GB of RAM and 16 GB of storage. The main camera has an 8-megapixel sensor and the user-facing camera has a 2-megapixel sensor. The handset includes Bluetooth, GPS, and WiFi, and has a high-capacity battery. The Cat S40 costs $399 and is sold unlocked. It is compatible with the GSM networks operated by AT&T and T-Mobile. The phone is available through Quality One Wireless and Cat's web site.
Verizon recently indicated it plans to let AOL track its customers' mobile browsing activity through the use of a supercookie. The supercookie is a controversial tool used by Verizon to help it build user profiles via the browser. Beginning in November, that data will be accessible to AOL's advertising network so the company can more effectively target ads based on users' browsing habits. Verizon bought AOL earlier this year. Supercookies can be deleted from Verizon phones, but they are activated by default and most consumers likely don't know how to get rid of them. AT&T stopped using supercookies last year, but Verizon has continued the practice. Verizon claims the move protects user privacy because Verizon owns AOL and "it's all within one company." Verizon subscribers can expect to see more personalized ads once AOL has access to the supercookie data.
Microsoft and AT&T have confirmed that the Lumia 950 will be offered by AT&T. The phone will also be available unlocked directly from Microsoft.
The FCC today approved a waiver requested by AT&T that will allow it to launch WiFi calling. The waiver gives AT&T permission to deploy Real-Time Text (RTT) as an alternative to TTY technology, which is relied upon by the hard-of-hearing. AT&T requested the waiver earlier this year. TTY is unreliable when used over WiFi and AT&T required a rule change from the FCC before it could move forward with the substitute. AT&T said it was pleased to receive the waiver, though it is puzzled why the FCC isn't taking action against Sprint and T-Mobile, which both launched WiFi calling services without a waiver. "We're grateful the FCC has granted AT&T's waiver request so we can begin providing WiFi calling. At the same time we are left scratching our heads as to why the FCC still seems intent on excusing the behavior of T-Mobile and Sprint, who have been offering these services without a waiver for quite some time. Instead of initiating enforcement action against them, or at least opening an investigation, the agency has effectively invited them to now apply for similar waivers and implied that their prior flaunting of FCC rules will be ignored." AT&T did not say how quickly it will get WiFi calling up and running.
The 550 is Microsoft's new affordable Windows 10 phone. It has a remarkably low price for a device with an HD screen. How "affordable" does it feel in person? Read on to find out.
The Lumia 950 is Microsoft's flagship phone for Windows 10. It continues the Lumia line while showcasing the new, unified Windows 10. Not only can it run the same Universal apps that run on Windows 10 desktops, it can transform into a desktop computer itself with a dock accessory, running the same apps in desktop mode. It has high-end features and classic Lumia design. So how is it in person? Read on to find out.
Apple today made iOS 9.1 Beta 4 available to developers. This is not meant for public use and is intended to help app writers test their code. Apple may follow this developer release with a new version of the iOS 9.1 Public Beta, but has not yet made any such announcements.
Google today revealed a powerful addition to Android 6.0 Marshmallow: built-in language translation. Google says that people who've installed the Google Translate app on their Marshmallow device will be able to translate between 90 languages directly from within any app that uses the Android selection tool. People can type one language, highlight the text, and then choose the translation tool to convert it to the language of their choice. Some of the apps compatible with this function include Gmail, Messaging, Hangouts, and other Google apps. This is only available to the newest version of Android and Google is offering it to developers so it may be added to more third-party apps.
Verizon today voiced support for Samsung Pay and said the service will be added to compatible phones through a future software update. Samsung Pay initially launched with support from AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile, but Verizon only said it was "consiodering" the mobile payment service. Verizon did not say what delayed its commitment to the app, but now it is on board. Samsung Pay will be added to the Galaxy S6, S6 Edge, Note 5, and S6 Edge+. Verizon didn't say when it plans to deliver the update.
U.S. Cellular today lowered the price points of its Shared Connect data plans. The company now offers 1GB for $25 per month, 3GB for $45, 6GB for $60, 10GB for $70, 12GB for $80, 15GB for $90, and 20GB for $110. Line access charges per device on plans below 10GB cost $20 per month, while device access charges drop to $15 on plans 10GB and higher. All plans include unlimited talk and text. U.S. Cellular offers device financing over 20 months, and allows customers to upgrade after 12 payments if they wish. The new plans are available starting today.
Microsoft today revealed a new, affordable Windows phone called the Lumia 550. For just $140, it offers a 4.7-inch HD display, 4G LTE, 5-megapixel camera, front camera, and Windows 10. It uses a Qualcomm Snapdragon 210 processor. A version for US networks was not immediately announced. It will be available in December for $139.
Microsoft today announced the Lumia 950 and Lumia 950 XL, its own flagship phones for its new OS, Windows 10. The phones support Windows Continuum for an optional full Windows Desktop experience when connected to a desktop monitor. The two models are similar, differing mostly in screen size; the 950 has a 5.2-inch screen, while the larger 950 XL has a 5.7-inch screen. Both screen offerings are OLED and Quad-HD resolution, the best available. Leveraging OLED technology, the phones also offer Lumia's low-power Glance notification display. Both phones also sport 20-megapixel cameras with Zeiss optics, triple-LED flash, optical image stabilization, and a dedicated camera button. Both phones also come with 32 GB of internal storage, plus a memory card slot supporting up to 2 TB. The phones are powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 or 810 processors, with liquid cooling. The phones also sport USB Type-C connectors with fast data transfer and fast charging. A new Microsoft Display Dock accessory enables Windows Continuum. The Dock connects to the phone via USB-C, and to a desktop monitor via HDMI or DisplayPort. It also has tree USB ports for keyboard and accessories. Connected to the Dock, the phone can be used as a full Windows desktop running desktop versions of Windows Universal apps, including Office and Outlook. When using the Dock, the phone can access files on USB storage. Both phones will be available in November, for $549 and $649, for the 950 and 950 XL, respectively.
Microsoft today announced a new version of its Band wearable wrist device. The fitness-centric Band sports a curved color OLED display with Gorilla Glass, and a rubber strap. Like its predecessor, it tracks GPS coordinates, UV exposure, and heart rate. New in this version is a barometer for measuring altitude, and better integration with the Cortana assistant. Features include guided workouts, sleep tracking, calorie counting, and smart phone notifications. The Band integrates with the Microsoft Health app, which provides details fitness tracking and stats. The Band also has extensive golf functions, tracking swing information and more. It also supports apps such as Facebook, Twitter, Uber, Starbucks, RunKeeper, and more. The new Microsoft Band can be pre-ordered today and ships October 30. It will sell for $249.
Microsoft today announced that Facebook is building Windows Universal apps for Facebook, Facebook Messenger, and Instagram. The new apps will run natively on Windows 10 for Mobile phones.
Facebook today said it has made improvements to how the Newsfeed will behave under poor network conditions. For example, Newsfeed will first load only the story being read by the user, rather than a handful of stories at once. After the first is fully loaded, Newsfeed will then go and begin loading subsequent stories. Facebook said it is using a progressive jpeg format to load low-res renders of photos quickly so at least something is visible while the full file loads. Facebook will now cache previously loaded stories for later reading, too. This way, some stories will be readable even when new stories won't load at all. Facebook said the speed optimizations are being made automatically in the background for most mobile devices.
Twitter today rolled out a new feature called Moments. The idea behind Moments its to assemble a series of Tweets about the same subject or event into a single package that's visible to all users and tells a complete story. Moments, which are cultivated automatically by Twitter and its media partners, are located in a separate tab both online an in the mobile app. Users can subscribe to Moments, which will then be inserted directly into the timeline. Moments will be loaded with multimedia, such as photos or videos, to make them more engaging. Moreover, Moments will be displayed in chronological order, with discernible beginning, middle, and end segments. When people stop Tweeting about the subject/event, the Moment will conclude and the Tweets will stop being pushed actively to the Moments tab. Moments will be visible on Twitter.com even to non-users who aren't logged in. Twitter hopes Moments will entice more people to signup for the service and remain engaged. Moments will be distributed later today to mobile apps and Twitter.com in the U.S. Twitter did not say when Moments will be made available to other regions.
Synaptics today announced the ClearPad 3600, 3700, and 7800, new touch panel controllers that are sensitive to pressure similar to the iPhone's 3D Touch display. The controllers are able to differentiate between micro-changes in pressure on the screen in order to power new features from device makers and app writers. The ClearPad series will let other handset designers mimic 3D Touch on their own hardware. The 3700 series is meant for flagship smartphones and includes a feature called SideTouch for edge gesturing, such as scrolling. The 3600 is meant for mass volume handsets and adds the ClearPad technology without drastically increasing the price of the controller. The 3600 also supports gloved fingers, wet-finger tracking, and gesture recognition. The 7800 series is intended for tablets and/or PCs with screens measuring up to 17.3 inches. The 3700 and 7800 series are already in mass production, and Synaptics expects the 3600 to reach production during the fourth quarter.
Google has pushed out an update to the iOS version of its YouTube application. The app now uses more elements from Google's Material Design, which Google says makes certain features easier to find and use. For example, recommended videos, favorite channels, and subscriptions can now be reached by tapping the icons or by swiping the screen from side-to-side. The app also adds several editing tools, which let people tweak and customize their videos before sharing online. Youtube for iOS is free to download from the iTunes App Store.
Apple confirmed that it has acquired a small startup called Perceptio that develops artificial intelligence software. Specifically, Perceptio lets businesses push advanced AI on smartphones without forcing end users to share too much of their data. The tools use deep learning to power advanced image-recognition software without drawing from external data repositories. Just last week, Apple acknowledged that it acquired a separate AI firm called VocalIQ, though that company's forte rests with natural language recognition.
What do you want to hear about? We're already working on a number of articles for the coming months, but we want to write about the things you're most interested in. So sound off: tell us what you want to know more about!