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printed October 17, 2017
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Hands On with the ZTE Axon M

Today, 9:40 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

ZTE is trying something different with the Axon M. Rather than push out another boring slab, ZTE created an interesting Android smartphone with twin folding displays that can be set in a number of different and useful configurations. Need extra screen real estate in that document, or want to run two full-screen apps side by side? The Axon M does that and more. Here are Phone Scoop's first impressions of this AT&T-exclusive handset.

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ZTE's Axon M Boasts Dual, Folding Displays to Create Tablet-Sized Screen

Today, 9:40 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Today, 9:45 AM

ZTE today announced the Axon M, a unique Android smartphone that has two full-sized displays that can unfold to create one larger screen for multitasking and viewing video. ZTE calls the Axon M a flagship handset, and it includes solid specs under the foldable aluminum chassis. Both screens measure 5.2 inches across the diagonal with full HD resolution. When fully opened, the combined screen real estate stretches 6.9 inches across the diagonal with 1,920 by 2,160 resolution. The displays are each covered by 2.5D Gorilla Glass 5. The Axon M includes three viewing modes suited to different tasks, such as running two apps at the same time, expanding the size of any given app, or sharing video with another person. ZTE says a decent number of apps will support the new viewing modes at launch, but it is releasing a series of tools to developers so they may adjust their apps to the Axom M form factor. The phone is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 processor with 4 GB of memory and 64 GB of storage. The phone supports memory cards up to 256 GB. The Axon M has a single 20-megapixel sensor that doubles as the main and selfie cameras. Imaging features include an aperture of f/1.8, phase-detection autofocus, image stabilization for photos/videos, as well as dual LED flash. The M carries over the Axon line's high-quality audio thanks to Dolby Atmos, the AKM 4962 audio chipset, and powerful stereo speakers. Other hardware features include Bluetooth, GPS, WiFi, LTE, rapid charging, and USB-C. The device runs Android 7. 1 Nougat, but ZTE said an update to Oreo isn't too far off. The Axon M will be an AT&T exclusive in the U.S. ZTE said it expects the phone will reach stores in time for the holiday shopping season. AT&T said it will charge $24 per month for 30 months for the phone, or about $725.

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Qualcomm to Support T-Mobile's 600 MHz with New RF Module

Today, 9:37 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Qualcomm is expanding the number of LTE bands supported by its cellular antennas. Specifically, the company has designed a new RF front-end to support 600 MHz spectrum, or LTE Band 71. T-Mobile will be the primary beneficiary of the suite of RF modules. T-Mobile has a nationwide footprint of this low-band spectrum, which it has already begun to deploy in some rural areas, including Wyoming. Low-band spectrum has greater propagation characteristics when compared to mid-band spectrum, which means it travels further and can penetrate walls more easily. Qualcomm says its new RF module will also benefit IoT devices that use 600 MHz airwaves. Primarily, the QPM2622 and variants are designed for devices based on the Snapdragon 800 Mobile Platform, while the QAT3516 and variants can be used with the Snapdragon 800, 600, 400, and 200 Mobile Platforms. Qualcomm says its new RF front-ends are already sampling with select customers and it expects to see the modules in commercial devices by the end of the year.


Qualcomm Shrinks 5G Modem to Phone-Sized Chipset

Today, 9:28 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Qualcomm says it has created a 5G modem that's small enough for mobile devices. The Snapdragon X50 5G chipset, which Qualcomm tested in its San Diego lab, reached gigabit speeds using 28 GHz mmWave radio frequencies. In order to reach those speeds, Qualcomm used several 100 MHz 5G carriers using the 5G New Radio standard. Moreover, Qualcomm debuted its first 5G smartphone reference design, a piece of hardware that can be used to test and optimize 5G technology in a form factor that is bound by the constraints of a typical smartphone. Qualcomm hopes the chipset and reference design will help accelerate the adoption of 5G NR, which most expect to see reach commercial deployments in 2019.


Andy Rubin's Essential Sued Over Magnetic Connector Tech

Yesterday, 3:02 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

A company called Keyssa has filed an intellectual property lawsuit against Essential, the maker of the PH-1 smartphone, backed by former Google exec Andy Rubin. The lawsuit pertains to magnetic wireless connectors that can pass information and current from one device to another, such as the magnetic module accessory system used on the PH-1. According to Keyssa, Essential worked with the company for period of 10 months on the magnetic technology and was given trade secrets under non-disclosure agreement during that time. Eventually the relationship between the two companies dissolved and Essential picked magnetic components from a third company called SiBEAM for the PH-1. Keyssa alleges that even though Essential is using different hardware for its phone, the technology couldn't have been recreated without Keyssa's protected intellectual property. "Keyssa has not been compensated for Essential’s use of this guidance and know-how," said Keyssa in a statement provided to Reuters. "We are pursuing this action because our attempts to resolve this matter through discussions with Essential have not been successful." Keyssa is backed by Tony Fadell, who co-created the iPad when at Apple. Keyssa filed the lawsuit in federal court in San Francisco. Essential did not offer an immediate comment on the matter.


Google's Fur-tastic Google Photos Now Better at Recognizing Pets

Yesterday, 12:22 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today made it easier for pet lovers to manage pictures of their feline or canine companions. Google says Photos will now treat pets as the family members they are, grouping them alongside people and allowing users to name and/or label them. Google believes this will improve search and discoverability of pet pictures within Google Photos. Moreover, Google Photos can now sort between breeds to help separate pictures of different dogs. Accordingly, Google Assistant has been improved with the ability to create albums, collages, and movies of pets. Google Photos users can, of course, make their own pet creations whenever they wish. Google Photos' new pet recognition feature is rolling out to most users worldwide today.


Hands On with the Huawei Mate 10 and Mate 10 Pro

Yesterday, 8:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Huawei is taking aim at Apple, Samsung, and LG with its latest flagship handsets, the Mate 10 and Mate 10 Pro. These high-quality devices feature stunning hardware, top specs, and table-stakes features such as fingerprint readers. Huawei is banking on its NPU-based artificial intelligence to take the phones' dual camera systems to the next level. The Mate 10 and Mate 10 Pro run Android 8 Oreo with EMUI 8 from Huawei to take advantage of the powerful Kirin processor. Here are Phone Scoop's first impressions of Hauwei's new smartphones.

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Huawei Hopes AI-Assisted Camera Will Set Mate 10, Mate 10 Pro Apart

Yesterday, 8:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Huawei today announced the Mate 10 and Mate 10 Pro, the Chinese company's flagship smartphones heading into the end of the year. The Mate 10 (left) and Mate 10 Pro (right) are high-end devices with curved glass panels front and back, and a metal frame in between. Huawei created a distinct reflective band that runs across the rear of the phones to call out the cameras. The phones share nearly all features and primarily differ with respect to screen aspect ratio and resolution. Where the Mate 10 has a quad HD 5.9-inch LCD panel with a 16:9 aspect ratio, the Mate 10 Pro has an HD+ 6-inch OLED panel with an 18:9 aspect ratio. The Mate 10's fingerprint reader is located on the front and the phone supports microSD memory cards, where the Mate 10 Pro's fingerprint reader is on the back and the phone doesn't support memory cards. The phones rely on Huawei's new Kirin 970 processor, its homegrown 8-core CPU, which includes a 12-core GPU and dedicated neural network processing unit, or NPU. The NPU is primarily put to use with the camera, where it is able to recognize objects and adjust the camera's parameters accordingly. At launch, the Mate 10 and Mate 10 Pro will, for example, be able to recognize the difference between flowers and plants, or cats and dogs in order to more accurately capture photos. The phones feature a dual-camera system on the back with a 12-megapixel RGB sensor and a 20-megapixel monochrome sensor, both at f/1.6. Some of the tools include scene recognition, bokeh, optical image stabilization, and AI-assisted focusing and zooming. The front camera has an 8-megapixel sensor at f/2.0. The phone will launch with Android 8 Oreo and EMUI 8, a new version of Huawei's Android skin. EMUI 8 was built to take advantage of the Kirin 970 and supports advanced split screen multitasking and a full desktop computing experience sans dock. The Mate 10 and Mate 10 Pro also include 4,000mAh batteries with rapid and wireless charging, NFC, Bluetooth 4.2, GPS, WiFi, high-definition audio, USB-C, and high-speed LTE. The Mate 10 is available only with 4 GB of RAM and 64 GB of storage, while the Mate 10 Pro is available in either a 4 GB / 64 GB or 6 GB / 128 GB configuration. Pricing and availability was not disclosed.


Researchers Say WiFi Vulnerability Impacts Nearly Everything

Yesterday, 7:57 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Researchers say they've found a serious gap in the WPA2 security protocol that can allow hackers to use key reinstallation attacks (KRACKs) to compromise most WiFi devices. The researchers say the method allows hackers to read encrypted information transiting via WiFi, including passwords, emails, photos, credit card numbers, and more. KRACKs can access nearly all WiFi traffic and, depending on the individual network safety configuration, insert code and alter data, such as send malware. The researchers claim the weakness is in the WiFi standard itself, and not in individual products, which is why the vulnerability is so widespread. Devices running Android, iOS, Linux, Windows, macOS, and other platforms are impacted. The U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) agreed with the researchers' assessment and warned, "The impact of exploiting these vulnerabilities includes decryption, packet replay, TCP connection hijacking, HTTP content injection, and others. Note that as protocol-level issues, most or all correct implementations of the standard will be affected." In other words, even if WiFi devices are being used properly, with passwords, they are still vulnerable. Google said it is aware of the issue and will patch the vulnerability in a future security update. The WiFi Alliance has not yet responded to the researcher's revelations.


OnePlus Allowing 3 and 3T Owners to Test Oreo Beta

Yesterday, 7:35 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

OnePlus has made OxygenOS Open Beta 25, based on Android 8 Oreo, available to the OnePlus 3 and OnePlus 3T smartphones. Owners of these phones can, if they wish, download the beta build for pre-release testing. The beta includes core Android 8 Oreo features, such as the new Quick Settings design, auto-fill, smart text selection, PiP, and notification dots. Items specific to OxygenOS include new a OnePlus account login for access to Shot on OnePlus, as well as the ability to upload photos directly to Shot on OnePlus through wallpapers. OnePlus warns there are some bugs in the beta build, including slow downs with the fingerprint reader, stability issues with NFC and Bluetooth, and the loss of the camera shortcut to Google Photos. OxygenOS Open Beta 25 is free to download for those signed up with OnePlus' beta program. OnePlus says users will be able to downgrade to the Nougat-based version of OxygenOS if they find Open Beta 25 too unstable.


Samsung Connect Tag Lets You Track Your Stuff

Yesterday, 7:20 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung today announced the Connect Tag, a wireless fob that you can attach to just about anything to monitor its location. Samsung envisions the Connect Tag will work best on kids' backpacks, car keys, dog collars, or even tossed inside cars. The Connect Tag relies on narrowband network technology (NB-IoT) to manage wireless connections efficiently. It includes GPS, WiFi, and Cat M1, which was designed specifically for low-power use cases. The Connect Tag works with Samsung's SmartThings ecosystem and includes advanced features such as geofencing, smart home scripts, as well as an on-demand live location requests via the associated smartphone app. Alternately, Connect Tag wearers can voluntarily broadcast their real-time location if they become lost, providing parents with a popup alert along with the exact spot on a map. The Connect Tag is small at 4.21 by 1.19 centimeters, is waterproof and rugged, and the internal battery can last up to seven days on a single change. The Samsung Connect Tag will go on sale in the coming months. Pricing wasn't disclosed.


Phone-Based Google Assistant Can Now Manage Chromecasts

Saturday, 11:34 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google has made it possible for people to control media playback on their Chromecast devices through their smartphone. The new behavior is available via Google Assistant on Android and iOS devices. People can issue voice-based commands on their mobile phone to play music and/or videos directly on Chromecast dongles, whether the dongles be attached to speakers, television sets, or embedded in boomboxes. People who own multiple Chromecast dongles can specify which one their phone controls. Prior to this change, a Google Home was required to control Chromecast dongles from a phone. Now, Google Home is no longer needed. The feature has been rolling out slowly, but Google confirmed that it is now available to everyone.


T-Mobile to Restrict 'Mobile Without Borders' Data to 5 GB

Saturday, 11:21 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile is shifting gears on the amount of data it offers to customers who travel to Canada and Mexico. Beginning November 12, customers on the T-Mobile One Simple Choice North American plan will only be able to use a maximum of 5 GB of 4G LTE, even if they have an unlimited data bucket at home. Customers who reach the 5 GB limit while roaming in Canada or Mexico will see their speeds limited to 128 Kbps until they return to the U.S. (Subscribers to the T-Mobile One Plus plan will see their roaming speeds cut to 256 Kbps.) Customers who have data buckets that are smaller than unlimited at home will have access to less than 5 GB of 4G LTE when roaming. T-Mobile said it is being forced to make the change in order to curb abuse. T-Mobile believes the change will impact less than 1% of customers who travel to Canada or Mexico.


Qualcomm Moves to Block iPhone Sales in China

Friday, 3:09 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Qualcomm has filed more lawsuits against Apple, this time seeking to prevent Apple from manufacturing and selling the iPhone in China. The fresh litigation was filed in an intellectual property court in Beijing. The two companies are embroiled in a series of legal battles over licensing fees. Apple insists that Qualcomm overcharges by requiring compensation not only for the actual chips, but also for licensing the technology in the chips. Qualcomm often demands that hardware makers pay it a percentage of the total device sale, rather than just a per-chip or per-license fee. As a result of the on-going litigation, Apple has withheld more than $1 billion in royalty payments from Qualcomm. Qualcomm's technology licensing practices have run afoul of several governments, including the U.S., China, and Korea.


Sprint's 'Safe & Found' Service Lets Parents Keep Tabs On Kids

Friday, 11:39 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint today debuted a new resource for parents called Safe & Found. It allows parents to view their child's smartphone location any time, as well as set controls over apps and usage. The service includes real-time geolocation and geofencing, which allows parents to create safe zones in which their children are permitted to travel. If the child's phone departs the geofenced area, parents will receive alerts. The service includes an SOS button, which will send an emergency alert with the child's location to all family members. Alternately, if the phone is lost Safe & Found lets subscribers find, lock, or wipe it remotely. Parental controls give mom and dad the ability to restrict calls to trusted numbers, install age-appropriate apps, and regulate usage based on the time of day. The service includes content restrictions, too, so inappropriate web content and apps are blocked from kid phones. Safe & Found costs $6.99 per line per month and it is compatible with Android and iOS devices.


Facebook Rings Up Food Order and Delivery Feature

Friday, 9:33 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Facebook today made it possible for Android, iOS, and web users to order food for takeout or delivery without leaving the app. The social network has partnered with a number of food delivery services, including Delivery.com, DoorDash, ChowNow, EatStreet, Slice, and Olo, as well as a handful of restaurants, including Papa John’s, Wingstop, Panera, Jack in the Box, TGI Friday’s, Denny’s, Chipotle, and Five Guys. A new "Order Food" option appears under the Explore menu. Facebook users will be able to search for food by cuisine or location, read reviews from friends, and order directly from within Facebook. People can select the delivery service that works for them, or sign up for a delivery service if they've never used one before. Facebook says the new service is available everywhere in the U.S.


Sprint Offers $10 Lease on iPhone 8

Friday, 7:49 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint today rolled out a new lease offer for the Apple iPhone 8 and 8 Plus that sees discounts up to $350 off the list price with an eligible trade-in. For example, customers can snag the 64 GB iPhone 8 for $0 down and $9.72 per month after bill credits. The same monthly price is available for the 256 GB iPhone 8, but it requires a $150 down payment. Lease prices for the iPhone 8 Plus are a few dollars more at $13.89 per month with $0 down for the 64 GB model and $150 down for the 256 GB model. Device trade-ins must be fairly new and in working order. Eligible devices include the Apple iPhone 6, 6s, 7, 6 Plus, 6s Plus, and 7 Plus; the Samsung Galaxy S7, S8, S8+; the LG G5, G6, or V20; the Motorola Z Droid, Z Play, Z Force Droid, Z2 Play, or Z2 Force; the Google Pixel or Pixel XL; the BlackBerry KEYone; or the HTC U11. Trades must be owned outright and not under any form of payments. Sprint allows lessees to upgrade their device after 12 monthly payments.


Samsung Electronics' CEO Resigns Unexpectedly

Friday, 7:17 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Kwon Oh-hyun, CEO and Vice President of Samsung Electronics Corp., today announced plans to step down from his leadership role with the company. "As we are confronted with unprecedented crisis inside out, I believe that time has now come for the company start anew, with a new spirit and young leadership to better respond to challenges arising from the rapidly changing IT industry," said Kwon in an email sent to employees. Kwon was expected to absorb more duties after the bribery arrest and incarceration of Samsung scion Jay Y. Lee. "It is something I had been thinking long and hard about for quite some time. It has not been an easy decision, but I feel I can no longer put it off," said Kwon, citing the need for new thinking with the company. Samsung Electronics Corp. is the business unit responsible for making chips and displays. At the same time, the company said it expects to break revenue and earnings records when it reports quarterly financials later this month. Samsung has not said how it expects to replace Kwon and Yee.


Samsung Reveals Price Points for Gear Sport Watch and Icon X Headphones

Thursday, 3:46 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung today said its Gear Sport smartwatch and Icon X 2018 headphones will be available for pre-order starting October 13, with general retail availability to follow October 27. The Gear Sport, a fitness-focused smartwatch that runs Samsung's Tizen platform, costs $299.99. It will initially be sold by Samsung.com and BestBuy.com, and will later expand to Amazon, Macy's, and U.S. Cellular. The watch has a 1.2-inch screen, GPS, rotating bezel for controlling the user interface, and waterproof chassis for recording swim workouts. The Gear Icon X 2018, wireless earbuds with heart rate detection and other fitness features, costs $199.99. The Icon X will initially be sold only by Samsung.com, with Amazon, BestBuy.com, Sprint, and U.S. Cellular to follow later. The Icon X 2018 are second-generation Bluetooth headphones that can interact with Samsung's Bixby personal assistant. The devices were announced earlier this year.


Google Assistant On Phones to Gain Voice-Based Shopping

Thursday, 10:49 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today expanded the scale of its Google Express service with the addition of Target stores nationwide. Starting immediately, people who live in the 48 contiguous states can ask Google Assistant on the Google Home product to purchase items from Target. Target offers two-day delivery of most items, and orders over $35 ship for free. Google says the device will soon support the Target RedCard for discounted shopping, as well as common purchases for easy reordering. Google is bringing this same voice-based support for Google Express to Google Assistant on Android and iOS smartphones in the near future. People will be able to say something like "Ok Google, buy a kids bomber jacket from Target," and Google Assistant will call up a selection of jackets on the phone with purchase links. Google says some 50 retailers support Google Express. The company didn't specify how soon Google Express will reach phones.


Samsung Shrinks Latest Isocell Camera Sensors

Oct 12, 2017, 7:54 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung this week announced two new Isocell image sensors for smartphones and IoT devices. The first is the Isocell Fast 2L9 with Dual Pixel technology, a 12-megapixel sensor with pixels that measure 1.28-micrometers (μm). Samsung says this particular sensor has two photodiodes in each pixel, rather than one, which helps the sensor lock focus on the smallest objects even in low light. The Dual Pixels also help create bokeh effects. Moreover, the Fast 2L9's slim design will allow it to fit into smartphones without creating a camera bump on the exterior of the phone. The Isocell Slim 2X7 sensor is the first to have a pixel size below 1.0μm, according to Samsung; its pixels measure just 0.9μm. Samsung says despite the small pixel size, the Slim 2X7 is still able to capture accurate color with less noise thanks to its deep trench isolation, which reduces crosstalk between the pixels. The Slim 2X7 also boasts Tetracell technology, which lets the sensor take brighter photographs in the dark. The incredibly small size will allow the Slim 2X7 to easily fit into smartphones and other consumer electronics without contributing to size or thickness. Samsung didn't say when the Fast 2L9 and Slim 2X7 will ship.


Google Opinion Rewards Hits iOS

Oct 12, 2017, 7:39 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google has made Google Opinion Rewards available to iOS users through a new app. As it does on Android handsets, Google Opinion Rewards will send surveys to iOS devices that people can complete for cash rewards. Google says surveys have between one and 10 questions, and always take less than 30 seconds to complete. iPhone owners can earn up to $1 for each completed survey. Google says iPhone users will have to link their PayPal account to make use of the rewards (on Android, the rewards are deposited into users' Google Play accounts.) The Google Opinion Rewards app is free to download from the iTunes App Store.


Google Lets Android Users Merge iTunes, Google Movie Libraries Into One

Oct 12, 2017, 7:15 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today announced a new service called Movies Anywhere, which allows people to bring together their movie collections from Amazon, Google Play, iTunes, and Vudu into a single library that can be accessed from any device. Google is launching Movies Anywhere in the U.S. first and it includes movie purchases from major studios Disney, Fox, Sony Pictures, Universal, and Warner Bros. As an incentive, Google is offering free access to a handful of movies to those who link two or more accounts to Movies Anywhere, including last year's Ghostbusters and Jason Borne. Use of Movies Anywhere is free.


Google Merging Video Call Tool Into Phone Dialer

Oct 11, 2017, 1:49 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today said it is taking steps to ease the process of making video calls between Android handsets. Starting with Nexus, Pixel, and Android One devices, users will be able to initiate video calls directly from the phone dialer or text messaging app. There are some hitches. Both the caller and the callee will need to be on carrier networks that support ViLTE video calling. If ViLTE is not available, both the caller and callee will need to have the Google Duo video calling app installed. Google says it hopes to bring the merged video/voice call interface to more Android handsets over time, including the second-generation Pixel devices.


Jolla’s Sailfish OS Finally Reaches Sony Xperia X

Oct 11, 2017, 12:59 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Jolla, developer of the Sailfish operating system, today said the platform is now available to owners of Sony Xperia X devices. Jolla first announced this effort in February. Jolla put Sony's Open Device program to work in order to make this happen. The Sailfish-enabled Xperia X is meant to serve mostly as a developer platform, though Jolla says the platform will also be available to fans. The Xperia X is a modern handset that's more powerful than the aging Jolla C device, allowing developers and enthusiasts to make use of newer technology in their projects. People interested in Sailfish will need their own Xperia X handset. Jolla is offering Sailfish as a download across the EU for 50 Euro. Developers and fans alike will be responsible for installing the OS on their hardware. Jolla was formed by former Nokia employees who resurrected bits and pieces of the defunct Moblin and Maemo Linux platforms.


iOS 11.0.3 Resolves Yet More Bugs

Oct 11, 2017, 12:48 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple today released iOS 11.0.3 to help clean up some ongoing issues in the code. According to Apple, the updated system fixes an problem where audio and haptic feedback would not work on some iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus devices. It also addresses an issue where touch input was unresponsive on some iPhone 6s displays that had been repaired with non-genuine Apple parts. iOS 11.0.3 is free to download for iPhone and iPad owners. Apple is already testing iOS 11.1, which will include hundreds of new emoji. Apple hasn’t said when the public can expect to see iOS 11.1.


Twitter Debuts 'Happening Now' to Call Out Real-Time Events

Oct 11, 2017, 7:33 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Oct 11, 2017, 7:45 AM

Twitter has rolled out a new way to see what's happening live around the world with the addition of a "Happening Now" tool in users' timelines. Twitter says the Happening Now content will center on events and topics it thinks users will be interested in, though it is kicking off the feature with a focus just on sports in the U.S. Users can tap the new icon to see what the event is, hide the event from their timeline, or select the featured photo to view conversations about the event. Twitter didn't say when Happening Now might be expanded to other event types, such as concerts, or regions. Twitter often seeks out ways to capitalize on the real-time nature of its service and Happening Now is the latest such attempt. The new tool is being made available to both Android and iOS devices via the latest version of Twitter, which is free to download from the Google Play Store and the iTunes App Store.


Google's Project Fi Pushes Back Moto X4 Deliveries

Oct 11, 2017, 7:21 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google's Project Fi has informed some customers via email that their Motorola Moto X4 handsets won't arrive when initially expected. Google says Motorola ran into production delays with the phone, which means the first wave of deliveries will be delayed. The device is now expected to ship between October 18 and October 25. Google apologized for the inconvenience and said those trading in devices will still have 30 days to do so after they receive their Moto X4. The Moto X4 is notable because it is the first non-Nexus, non-Pixel handset compatible with Google's Project Fi wireless service. It is also the first Android One handset to be sold directly to U.S. consumers.


Wells Fargo Brings NFC Access to 5,000 ATMs

Oct 10, 2017, 11:45 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Wells Fargo today made good on its promise to allow customers to access their accounts at ATMs via tap-and-go NFC transactions. The company says 40% of its 13,000 ATMs, or about 5,000, now support NFC-based interactions. Wells Fargo plans to update its remaining 8,000 ATMs with NFC by 2019. Customers tap their phone to the NFC sticker on the ATM to initiate the transition, which will also require their banking card PIN. The company says it supports most mobile wallet features from Wells Fargo Wallet for Android, Apple Pay, Android Pay, or Samsung Pay. The ATMs will continue to support traditional bank cards. Earlier this year, Wells Fargo rolled out mobile access at its ATMs through its own mobile app, which generated an 8-digit PIN. This PIN-based mobile service is still available at ATMs that don't yet support NFC.


ZTE Blade Force for Boost Mobile Boasts HPUE

Oct 10, 2017, 8:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

ZTE today announced the Blade Force smartphone for Boost Mobile. This Android handset includes support for Sprint's High Performance User Equipment technology and two-channel carrier aggregation for better performance near the cell edge. The Blade Force has a 5.5-inch 720p HD display and it is powered by a 1.4 GHz quad-core Snapdragon 427 processor with 2 GB of memory and 16 GB of storage. The phone supports external storage cards up to 128 GB. The rear camera has an 8-megapixel sensor while the front camera has a 5-megapixel camera. Other features include a 3,000mAh battery, Bluetooth, WiFi, GPS, and FM radio. The phone runs Android 7.1 Nougat and is available online starting today for $130.


Microsoft Brings Cortana Assistant to Skype for Android and iOS

Oct 9, 2017, 2:54 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Microsoft today ported its Cortana personal assistant to its Skype chatting application, providing people with access to information without forcing them to leave Skype. Microsoft says Cortana in Skype can suggest useful information based on chat contents, suggest smart replies, manage schedules and/or reminders, and more. Beyond the proactive assistant duties, Cortana exists as a Skype contact with which users can have "conversations" to check movie times, the weather, flight status, stock quotes, and restaurant recommendations. Microsoft says it is rolling out Cortana to Skype users in the U.S. gradually beginning today. The personal assistant is available to the Android and iOS versions of Skype. Microsoft today also updated its Outlook mobile email and calendar app for Android and iOS devices with much wider support for varied calendar actions. For example, Android and iOS users will now be able to view and edit shared Office 365 or Outlook.com calendars; manage someone else’s calendar at work; connect your Meetup account to Outlook; and more easily manage events from mobile devices. Outlook for Android and iOS is free to download from the Google Play Store and iTunes App Store.


BlackBerry Motion Eschews the Keyboard, Packs Huge Battery

Oct 9, 2017, 1:02 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

TCL today announced the BlackBerry Motion, a follow-up to the KEYone that drops the keyboard in favor of a larger touch screen. The Motion boasts a 5.5-inch full HD screen that's covered in a nano-diamond coating to prevent scratches. TCL says the phone is the first BlackBerry to carry an IP67 rating for protection from dust and water. The Motion ships with the largest-ever battery for a BlackBerry. The power cell rates 4,000mAh and TCL says it is good for two full days of use. It supports Quick Charge 3.0 for rapid recharges when needed. Other notable hardware features include a programmable convenience key, fingerprint sensor, USB-C, and a standard headphone jack. Under the hood, the BlackBerry Motion is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 processor with 4 GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage, with support for microSD memory cards. The rear camera has a 12-megapixel sensor with an f/2.0 lens, flash, and phase-detection autofocus, while the front camera has an 8-megapixel sensor with an f/2.4 lens, flash, and wide-angle field of view. The Motion runs Android 7.1 Nougat with BlackBerry's hardened DTEK software, BlackBerry Hub, and other business-friendly apps on board. A new tool called Locker allows Motion owners to protect photos and other files in a locked folder that can only be opened with a password or fingerprint. The BlackBerry Motion is initially going to be sold in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates for about $460. TCL said the phone will eventually be sold in other regions, though it didn't specifically say if that includes the U.S.


Apple Seeds iOS 11.1 Beta 2 with New Emoji in Tow

Oct 9, 2017, 12:29 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple today made iOS 11.1 Beta 2 available to developers. According to Apple, the minor update contains bug fixes and other under-the-hood improvements. For end users, the latest iOS build also contains hundreds of new emoji for the iPhone and iPad thanks to the addition of Unicode 10. Apple detailed some of the new emoji in a blog post last week, which include new characters, food, animals, creatures, and hand gestures. Apple didn't say when the final version of iOS 11.1 will be available to the public.


Microsoft Exec Says Windows Mobile Is Basically Done

Oct 9, 2017, 7:27 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Microsoft executive Joe Belfiore on Sunday explained in a series of Tweets that the company is no longer creating new software or hardware for its Windows Mobile platform. Belfiore was responding directly to questions posed by fans when he said, "Many companies still deploy [Windows Phone] to their employees and we will support them! Of course we'll continue to support the platform ... bug fixes, security updates, etc. But building new features/[hardware] aren't the focus," Belfiore admitted that he, like Microsoft founder and former CEO Bill Gates, has switched to Android. "As an individual end-user, I switched platforms for the app/hw diversity." The questions put to Belfiore arose due to Microsoft's recent move to expand its Edge browser to to iOS. The browser is in beta mode via the App Store. Microsoft has focused much of its mobile app efforts on the Android and iOS platforms in recent years with its Office productivity suite, Skype communications tool, Android Launcher, OneDrive, and more. In the end, apps became the problem for Windows 10. "We have tried very hard to incent app [developers]. Paid money ... wrote apps for them ... but volume of users is too low for most companies to invest," wrote Belfiore. With no real selection of apps, Windows Mobile didn't have much of a chance against the Android and iOS platforms, which each offers more than one billion apps available to end users.


Apple Investigating Swollen iPhone 8 Batteries

Oct 6, 2017, 1:59 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple says it is taking a close look at an issue impacting the iPhone 8 battery. According to a half dozen reports, the iPhone 8 battery sometimes swells during charging to the point of damaging the phone. Several iPhone 8 owners have posted photos of their devices, which have burst open due to the swollen battery. Apple issued a brief statement saying, "We are aware and looking into it." The number of affected iPhones appears to be very small and there have been no reports of fires or burns.


Essential Boosts Camera Performance via System Update

Oct 6, 2017, 7:18 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Essential Products says the camera in its PH-1 smartphone should be just a bit better now thanks to some updates. The company has boosted capture speed in regular and low-light environments, as well as improved brightness and performance in low-light images. The company updated its 360-degree camera accessory, too, which can now capture spatial sound when shooting video. The volume up/down keys act as shutter buttons in 360 mode, and can act as a countdown timer if so desired. In order to score these changes, PH-1 owners will need to update to the latest system build (NMI81C) and then update the camera application via the Google Play Store. Essential has more updates planned for its camera app (better HDR, portrait, and pro modes) planned for the weeks ahead.


Apple Says Unicode 10 Emoji to Appear in iOS 11.1

Oct 6, 2017, 6:40 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple today said it will introduce hundreds of new emoji with the debut of iOS 11.1 as soon as next week. The company has baked support for Unicode 10 into the future release of iOS and plans to disseminate it to developers and beta testers in the days ahead. Unicode 10 includes new characters, food, animals, creatures, and hand gestures. Apple says the new emoji will be available within iOS, macOS, and watchOS. Apple didn't say when the final version of iOS 11.1 will be available.


LG V30 Hits Verizon Stores Today for $840

Oct 5, 2017, 9:57 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless today shared details concerning its variant of the LG V30. The phone is available from today for $35 per month for 24 months on a Verizon device payment plan. The total cost of the monthly payments comes to $840, which is about $40 more than what AT&T and T-Mobile ask for the handset. Verizon has several promotions on deck. First, people who purchase a V30 are eligible for a free Google Daydream View headset. Further, those who purchase a V30 between October 5 and November 6 can score a $200 Visa prepaid card. The LG V30 features a metal-and-glass design, 6-inch quad HD+ display, dual cameras, and a Snapdragon 835 processor.


Microsoft Releases Edge Browser for Android and iOS, Launcher for Android

Oct 5, 2017, 8:44 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Microsoft today made a beta version of its Edge browser available to Android and iOS devices. The beta, available to registered Windows Insiders, requires users to initiate the signup process through a Windows 10 PC. Edge for mobile devices ports over popular desktop features, include Favorites, Reading List, New Tab Page, and Reading View. It can sync bookmarks and browser history with the desktop and includes a built-in QR code reader. It's only available to U.S. beta testers in English for now. Microsoft today also released a new launcher for Android handsets. The launcher replaces the native home screen on Android devices in favor of Microsoft's. It includes Windows 10 features such as favorites, recent photos, documents, and more. Before today, the Microsoft Launcher for Android was in beta status via the Microsoft Garage. It is now available for download through the Google Play Store.


ZTE Blade Vantage Costs Just $50 from Verizon

Oct 5, 2017, 8:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

ZTE and Verizon Wireless today announced the Blade Vantage, an inexpensive entry-level device for Verizon's pre-paid service. The Vantage includes a 5-inch screen with 854 by 480 pixels and it is powered by a 1.1 GHz, quad-core Snapdragon 210 processor with 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB of storage. The screen is protected by 2.5D glass that's curved along the edges and fitted into the plastic chassis. On the rear you'll find an 8-megapixel main camera with an f/2.0 lens and flash, while the front carries a 2-megapixel selfie camera with f/2.4 lens. Other hardware features include a 2,500mAh battery, support for microSD memory cards, Bluetooth, WiFi, and LTE with mobile hotspot. It ships with Android 7.1 Nougat. Verizon Wireless is selling the ZTE Blade Vantage for $50.

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