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printed May 28, 2015
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Facebook Tweaks Peer-to-Peer Messenger Payment Service

Yesterday, 7:43 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Facebook today pushed out a minor update to its Facebook Messenger application and improved how it handles peer-to-peer payments. First, it made the mobile payment feature available to residents of the greater New York City area. The app makes it simpler for New Yorkers to send money to others by automatically turning numbers typed in conversation threads into dollar amount hyperlinks. The recipient can click on the hyperlink to accept the payment. The web version of Messenger now supports payments within group conversations, too, with each member able to see who paid who. Users need to add a Visa or MasterCard debit to their Facebook account in order to send money to or receive money from others. According to Facebook, payments are processed immediately on the sending side, but may take a day or two to process on the receiving side. Sending money is free of transaction charges. Facebook says users can set up PINs to protect the service, and Apple device owners will be able to use TouchID to secure it. Sending money is possible from the Android, iOS, and web versions of Messenger.


Office Lens for Android Graduates from Preview Status

Yesterday, 7:34 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Microsoft today released a full version of its Office Lens application for Android devices. Prior to today the app was offered only as a preview. Office Lens uses a smartphone's camera to capture receipts, business cards, menus, whiteboards, sticky notes, and other documents and save them to OneNote. The tool is able to adjust automatically for crooked or angled images, and can recognize text thanks to optical character recognition. Users can convert images of paper documents into Word, PowerPoint, or PDF files; automatically populate their contact lists with scans of business cards; as well as search, save, export, or share the images. Office Lens is free to download from the Play Store.


Google Says 'Buy' Button to Arrive Soon

Yesterday, 7:27 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google plans to make it easier for people to purchase goods online by adding a buy button directly to search results. "There is going to be a buy button, it is actually imminent," said Omid Kordestani, Google's chief business officer, at a conference. The button will appear on mobile devices, allowing people to click on search results with the option to buy rather than go to a third-party web site first. Kurdistan said the goal is to reduce friction and make it simpler to make mobile purchases. Google didn't say exactly when the button will appear, nor on what platforms; however, Google's own developer conference is scheduled for this week, with the keynote taking place on May 28.


Verizon Prepaid Now Selling Samsung Galaxy J1

Yesterday, 3:58 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless recently added the Samsung Galaxy J1 to its lineup of prepaid handsets. The J1 is a compact, entry-level Android smartphone. It includes a 4.3-inch WVGA display, quad-core 1.2 GHz processor, 1 GB of RAM, and 8 GB of storage. The phone supports microSD memory cards up to 128 GB. The main camera sensor captures 5-megapixel images and records 720p HD video, while the selfie camera captures 2-megapixel images. The device supports Verizon's LTE 4G network in addition to WiFi and Bluetooth 4.1 Low Energy. It runs Android 5.0.2 Lollipop with Samsung's user interface elements and applications. Verizon is selling the Galaxy J1 for $99.99.


GM to Add Android Auto, Apple CarPlay to 14 Chevy Cars

Yesterday, 3:01 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

General Motors CEO Mary Barra today said the company plans to add Android Auto and Apple CarPlay to 14 of its 2016 models later this year. The in-dash software will be spread across GM's range of Chevrolet products, from the Chevy Corvette down to the Chevy Spark. GM will work to add the platforms to its other automotive brands, such as GMC and Cadillac, over time. GM had already committed to both platforms but had not previously said when it might get around to installing them. Earlier this week, Hyundai was the first to step up and add Android Auto to its 2015 Sonata sedan. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay bring basic elements of the smartphone experience to the in-dash navigation screen.


FCC Moves to Better Protect Against Unwanted Calls

Yesterday, 2:02 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler today circulated a new proposal for taming unwanted robocalls and text messages to mobile phones. According to the FCC, the proposal is a response to more than a dozen petitions seeking clarity on when robocalls and other phone-based outreach is permitted. The proposal seeks to let consumers revoke their consent to receive such calls/messages at any time; permit carriers to create do-not-disturb blocking services; ensure new owners of reassigned numbers don't receive calls/messages meant for the previous owner; define autodialers to prevent misuse of the laws; and allow very limited and specific exceptions for urgent circumstances, such as to prevent fraud. The proposal would keep in place existing protections such as the Do No Call registry, and limits on robocalls, informational calls, and text messages to wireless phones. Last, the FCC pledged to enforce the rules stringently. The proposal will be voted on at the Commission's Open Meeting on June 18.


Avago Technologies May Buy Broadcom

Yesterday, 1:21 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Avago Technologies is in advanced talks to acquire Broadcom, reports the Wall Street Journal. Terms of the deal are not yet available, and the Journal's sources say the deal may not be signed. Broadcom's market valuation is about $28 billion and Avago's is about $34 billion. Broadcom makes wireless modems and other chips for mobile devices. It has struggled to compete in recent years with Qualcomm, Samsung, and others.


Apple Confirms It's Developing Fix for iMessage Bug

Yesterday, 1:17 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple today confirmed reports of an iMessage-based bug that can cause iPhones to crash. "We are aware of an iMessage issue caused by a specific series of unicode characters and we will make a fix available in a software update," said Apple to Reuters. Apple didn't say how soon the bug fix might be made available. The bug is a string of emoji that will crash the iMessage app itself, and can crash the phone as well. The bug was first reported by MacRumors.


Google to Surface iOS App Content in Search Results

Yesterday, 11:05 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Yesterday, 11:09 AM

Google today enabled a new functionality that will let the Google Search app find content within iOS apps and include that data in search results. Users will then be able to select the search results and go directly to the associated app on their phone. The functionality must be enabled by developers using the new App indexing tool from Google. Once indexed, Google Search will be able to poke through apps for relevant information when users perform searches on their iPhone. Google Search already does this on Android devices. Google said it plans to debut the feature in a few weeks with a select batch of apps, but it is encouraging all developers to index their own apps for the added functionality. The feature will be available globally.


Consumer Cellular Offering the Moto E for $100

Yesterday, 10:15 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Consumer Cellular today said it has added the Motorola Moto E with LTE to its lineup of Android smartphones. The Moto E features a 4.5-inch screen, 5-megapixel camera with 720p HD video capture, and a VGA front camera. The phone is powered by a 1.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon with 1 GB of RAM, 8 GB of storage, and includes support for memory cards up to 32 GB. The phone runs Android 5.0 Lollipop. Consumer Cellular is selling the Moto E with LTE for $100. Consumer Cellular does not require contracts.


Nokia Networks to Acquire Eden Rock

Yesterday, 6:55 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Nokia Networks today announced its intent to acquire Eden Rock Communications for an undisclosed sum. Eden Rock pioneered self-organizing networks (SON) technology for mobile broadband operators. "SON is essential for the increasingly complex heterogenous operator networks," said Nokia. "It provides workflow automation, network performance improvements, and additional reliability." Nokia Networks has its own SON business, and believes Eden Rock's solution is complementary to its own. Combined, Nokia believes it can become the vendor-of-choice for supplying SON radio tech to network operators. Some of the benefits cited by Nokia Networks include reduced operating expenses and improved customer experience. Eden Rock's employees will be transferred to Nokia Networks in the Seattle area. Nokia expects the deal to close during the third quarter of the year. Nokia is already in the process of acquiring Alcatel-Lucent to improve its competitive stature in the telecommunication networking market.


Verizon Now Requires Edge Customers to Pay Off Phone

Tuesday, 2:22 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless today announced a change to its Edge equipment installment plans. Beginning May 31, Edge customers will need to pay off their device in full before they they can upgrade to a new phone. As always, customers can initiate an Edge payment plan with no money down followed by 24 equal payments to cover the full retail cost of the phone. Customers will be able to upgrade at any time once the device is paid off, and they'll be able to keep the phone. Before this week's change customers were able to upgrade after they paid off just 75% of their old phone, but they had to wait at least 30 days from the time of purchase and had to turn in the old phone. Verizon says customers may donate or recycle their old phone for credit towards a new device if they wish. Edge installment plans are available to Verizon's post- and pre-paid service plans.


Opera Boosts WiFi Performance of Opera Max

Tuesday, 1:43 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Opera today updated its Opera Max tool for Android devices with improved performance when surfing via WiFi. Opera Max is a data-management app meant to help users control how much wireless data they use. Before today's update, Max only helped control usage over cellular networks. Now, it can compress web pages over WiFi connections so users can browse quickly over congested local networks. Opera Max also gains a feature for blocking apps, which will prevent apps from tracking the user or consuming data without permission. Last, Opera refreshed the user interface based on elements from Google's Material Design. Opera Max is free to download from the Google Play Store.


US Cellular to Sell LG G4 On June 4

Tuesday, 1:30 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

U.S Cellular today joined Sprint and T-Mobile in announcing planned availability for the LG G4 smartphone. U.S. Cellular will begin taking preorders on May 29 and the phone will reach stores June 4. U.S. Cellular is asking for $199 with a two-year contract, $29.50 per month for 24 months for the plastic rear cover, or $30.50 per month for 24 months for the black leather cover.


Unicode 9.0 to Add 38 New Emoji, Including Face Palm and Shrug

Tuesday, 10:53 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

The Unicode emoji subcommittee has recommended a set of 38 new emoji be added to version 9.0 of the Unicode Standard. The emoji include a wide range of gestures, animals, and food. Some include the "call me" hand gesture as well as left and right fists (for fist bumps); sharks, bats, and eagles; and bacon, avocados, and carrots. The Unicode emoji subcommittee published notes for defining the rationale behind each emoji, as well as potential uses. Monochrome and color versions of each emoji accompany the list for illustrative purposes, but don't necessarily represent their final form. "These symbols are considered for incorporation into Unicode for reasons such as compatibility usage, popular requests from online communities, and filling the gaps in the existing set of Unicode emoji," said the organization. Version 8.0 of the Unicode Standard has only just begun to roll out, and Version 9.0 likely won't be published until mid 2016.


Twitter's Periscope App Reaches Android

Tuesday, 9:30 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Twitter today made its Periscope live-streaming video application available to Android devices. The app lets people broadcast a live video feed to their Twitter followers, who can join or leave feeds at will, as well as rate them with hearts. Periscope has been available to the iPhone for several months. The Android version adds a "return to broadcast" function for jumping back into streams the user might have left, and makes some usability tweaks to how users initiate a live feed. Periscope is free to download from the Google Play Store. It requires Android 4.4 KitKat and up.


Hyundai Making Android Auto Available to 2015 Sonata

Tuesday, 8:26 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Hyundai today claimed to be the first auto manufacturer to bring Android Auto support to its production vehicles. Hyundai is offering Android Auto to the 2015 Sonata to start. Owners of the Sonata can bring their car to a dealership for a software update containing Android Auto beginning today. Later this summer, Hyundai will let consumers install Android Auto on their own via USB drive. Android Auto lets compatible handsets (running Android 5.0 Lollipop and up) access select features, including maps, music, Google Now, and messaging, from the Sonata's in-dash navigation screen. Hyundai plans to offer Android Auto to other models later this year.


T-Mobile to Launch LG G4 On June 3

Tuesday, 8:13 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today said it will begin selling its version of the LG G4 on June 3, with preorders beginning May 27. T-Mobile is offering the G4 for the full retail price of $599.76 or for $24.99 per month for 24 months with a Simple Choice. T-Mobile and LG are offering a 128 GB microSD memory card for free with the purchase of a G4 through June 21. T-Mobile says it will be the only U.S. carrier to offer the brown leather back cover for the G4; it also plans to sell the metallic silver model. The LG G4 has a 5.5-inch quad HD screen, Snapdragon 808 processor, and a 16-megapixel camera.


Microsoft Bringing Cortana to Android and iOS

Tuesday, 7:55 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Microsoft today said Android and iOS users will soon be able to use Cortana, its virtual assistant, on their smartphones. The Android and iOS Cortana app will work in coordination with Cortana on Windows 10 PCs, according to Microsoft. A Phone Companion app for Windows 10 PCs will help Android and iOS device owners install Cortana on their handset so they can access Microsoft's virtual assistant wherever they go. The Android and iOS version of Cortana will include most features available to the Windows 10 and Windows Phone versions, such as setting reminders, alerts, and alarms; tracking flights and managing travel details; and accessing Cortana's Notebook function for search preferences. Changes made in one version of Cortana will be reflected across all devices. Microsoft said the Phone Companion app will function with Windows Phone handsets, too, to help sync Cortana functions across devices. In order to test Cortana on Android and iOS smartphones, users will need to enroll in Microsoft's Windows Insider program and install the Windows 10 Technical Preview for PCs. Microsoft said the Cortana Companion App will be available for Android phones at the end of June and for iPhones later this year. Microsoft also mentioned that the updated Xbox Music app for Android and iPhone will be available in late June or July with the beta label in tow to stream OneDrive music content. Google's own personal assistant, Google Now, is available for Android and iOS devices, but not Windows Phone. Apple's Siri is only available to iOS.


Apple Promotes Jony Ive to Chief Design Officer

Tuesday, 7:40 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple has promoted Jony Ive, the company's design guru, to the newly created Chief Design Officer position. Ive's previous title was Senior Vice President of Design. Ive is responsible for the hardware design of some of Apple's most iconic products, including the iPod, iMac, and iPhone. Ive was put in charge of iOS user interface design, too, in early 2013, and oversaw the platform's redesign later that year in iOS 7. The change "frees [Ive] up from some of the administrative and management work," according to a profile published by The Telegraph. Ive will remain responsible for overseeing all of Apple's design moving forward, but will focus on "new ideas and future initiatives," said Apple. Effective July 1, Ive will hand over the day-to-day managerial duties regarding industrial design and user interface design to Richard Howarth and Alan Dye, respectively. Both Howarth and Dye are long-time Apple employees and the three have worked together for many years.


Samsung Debuts Iron Man Edition of Galaxy S6 Edge

Tuesday, 7:20 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung today unveiled an Iron Man-themed version of the Galaxy S6 Edge smartphone. The special edition handset features a red-and-gold design with Iron Man wallpapers and an etched Iron Man helmet on the back surface. The Iron Man edition ships with a wireless charging pad meant to look like an arc reactor from the Iron Man movies. Otherwise, the phone has all the same features as the standard S6 Edge. Galaxy S6 Edge Iron Man Limited Edition will be sold in Korea, China, and Japan. There's no world on U.S. availability for the handset.


Sony Xperia Z3+ Is a Z4 for the Rest of the World

Tuesday, 7:12 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sony today announced the Xperia Z3+, which is essentially a global version of the Z4. Sony debuted the Z4, limited to Japan, earlier this year. The Z3+ features a glass and metal design that is water and dust proof, and measures 6.9mm thick. The Z3+ has a 5.2-inch full HD Triluminos display and runs a 64-bit, octa-core Snapdragon 810 processor with 3 GB of memory, 32 GB of storage, and Adreno 430 graphics. The Z3+ supports memory cards up to 128 GB. The main camera relies on Sony's 20.7-megapixel Exmor RS sensor, while the front camera uses a 5.1-megapixel Exmor sensor with shake correction. The main camera can record video up to 4K, while the front camera can record 1080p HD. The Z3+ offers a range of connectivity options, including dual-band WiFi, Bluetooth 4.1, NFC, and support for LTE 4G networks. The battery has a maximum capacity of 2,930mAh, but Sony says it is good for two days of battery life. The device runs Android 5.0 Lollipop and will feature Sony's apps and user interface overlay. Sony said it will begin to sell the Xperia Z4 in Japan around the middle of the year, but didn't say when the Z3+ might reach the rest of the world. U.S.-based network operators have yet to voice support for the Z3+. T-Mobile was the only carrier to sell the Xperia Z3.


BlackBerry Cutting More Jobs, Including Device Team

Saturday, 8:27 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

BlackBerry announced another round of job cuts on Friday, this time affecting those behind making the company's smartphones and mobile applications. BlackBerry did not say how many employees will lose their jobs, nor in which facilities, but said the cuts will reach its operations across the globe. In April BlackBerry said it might close a facility in Sweden, which was responsible for designing BlackBerry's handsets. It's not clear if this new round of layoffs includes that facility, or if those cuts already took place. The company has cut costs aggressively over the last 18 months as it focuses on improving the margins of its mobile device management business. "Our intention is to reallocate resources in ways that will best enable us to capitalize on growth opportunities while driving toward sustainable profitability across all facets of our business," said BlackBerry in a statement. Despite the cuts, BlackBerry said it is still committed to its device business. The company most recently released the BlackBerry Leap, a low-cost touchscreen smartphone.


Sprint to Launch LG G4 On June 5

May 22, 2015, 8:39 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated May 22, 2015, 8:39 AM

Sprint today announced launch details regarding the LG G4 smartphone, which will be available in stores and online beginning June 5. Sprint is offering a wide range of purchasing options for the phone. First, via the Sprint Lease the G4 will be available for $0 followed by $18 per month for 24 months. At the end of the lease, customers can turn the G4 in for another handset, or buyout the remaining value of the lease. Alternately, customers can use Sprint Easy Pay to finance the device over 24 months. Sprint Easy Pay doesn't require a down payment, but costs $25 per month for 24 months. Sprint will also sell the G4 for $199.99 with a standard two-year contract, or for the full retail price of $599.99 without a contract. Sprint plans to offer the plastic gray back plate or the black leather back plate. The phone has a 5.5-inch quad HD screen, Snapdragon 808 processor, and a 16-megapixel camera. Customers who preorder may receive a second 3,000mAh battery with charging cradle and a 32GB memory card for free. Preorders begin today.


Google Delivering Project Fi Invites Slowly

May 22, 2015, 6:58 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google's Project Fi, its WiFi-and-cellular wireless offering, is moving forward slowly. Google emailed those who signed up for the project and said it won't be able to accommodate everyones' requests for months. "Over the past few weeks, we've been happy to bring the first customers onto Project Fi and the initial feedback has been very positive," said Google in the email. "We're sending invites as quickly as we can, while ensuring a high-quality experience. Given the number of requests we've received, we currently estimate that it will take until mid-summer to get to everyone." Google concluded by saying it will provide a way for people to check the status of their invites in a few weeks. Project Fi requires the Nexus 6 handset and runs on WiFi and the cellular networks of Sprint and T-Mobile, adjusting on the fly in response to the best possible connection. The service is priced at $10 per gigabyte, and Google will refund customers for the unused portion of their data allotment each month.

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AT&T Taps East Kentucky Network for 700MHz Licenses

May 21, 2015, 2:14 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T has filed paperwork with the FCC hoping to gain permission to purchase three Lower 700MHz C Block licenses from East Kentucky Network. The licenses in question cover 20 counties in three Cellular Market Areas across regions of Kentucky, Ohio, and West Virginia. Because all the licenses fall below the 1GHz threshold, the FCC will used its "enhanced factor" yardstick to measure the transactions. The FCC says AT&T stands to hold 113 to 145MHz of spectrum in total, and 43 to 55MHz of below-1-GHz spectrum, in these three CMAs. The FCC has accepted AT&T's initial batch of paperwork and set a schedule to oversee the transaction. Small spectrum purchases and exchanges are common between license holders.


HTC Posts Its Email App to the Play Store

May 21, 2015, 1:04 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

HTC recently made the HTC Mail application available as a stand-alone app in the Google Play Store. By separating the app from its Sense user interface, HTC is now able to update the app with new features and resolve bugs more efficiently. Previously, such updates were limited to distribution with full OS rewrites. The version available today in the Play Store doesn't add any new features over what's available to devices running the latest version of Sense. HTC Mail is free to download.


RadioShack Finalizes Sale of Name and Customer Data

May 21, 2015, 7:07 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

A Delaware bankruptcy judge approved the sale of RadioShack's name and certain customer data to an affiliate of Standard General for $26.2 million. One of the key issues resolved over the last seven days concerned AT&T and Apple customer data. AT&T, Apple, and several state attorneys general disapproved of the sale of the customer data, and argued RadioShack had agreed to never sell it. Under the terms of the agreement, Standard General agreed to limit its own customers to email data generated over the last two years, as well as to only provide access to seven of 170 fields of data that RadioShack kept on its customers. The sale gives Standard General access to 67 million names and email addresses, rather than the full list of 117 million. Earlier this year Standard General purchased 1,734 RadioShack stores, which it plans to operate in cooperation with Sprint.


Sprint Partners Making Headway in Rural LTE Push

May 21, 2015, 6:56 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint says 16 of the 30 companies who've agreed to participate in its Rural Roaming Preferred Provider program have launched their LTE networks. The Rural Roaming Preferred Provider program is similar to Verizon Wireless' LTE in Rural America initiative. Both programs lease spectrum to small, regional providers who build out coverage in their home market areas. Under the terms of the agreement, the larger carriers' customers can roam onto the regional LTE network and vice versa. The idea is to bring coverage to areas where the larger operators might not necessarily like to commit resources to build out their own network. Sprint would not say which of its partners have launched their LTE networks. Some of the partners include SouthernLINC Wireless, nTelos Wireless, C Spire Wireless, Phoenix Wireless, Bluegrass Cellular, Pine Belt Wireless, Pioneer Cellular, and United Wireless. "Our partners use a variety of LTE bands, including bands 4, 5, 12 and 25," said Sprint's Adrienne Norton. "We're continuing to work with our device OEMs to enable additional LTE bands to expand coverage for our domestic and international roamers." Sprint's LTE footprint covers about 280 million POPs. T-Mobile, which recently disclosed that it too has leased spectrum to regional operators, also covers about 280 million POPs. AT&T and Verizon Wireless both claim to cover about 308 million POPs.


Deutsche Telekom Will Consider 'Any Partner' for T-Mobile

May 21, 2015, 6:44 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Deutsche Telekom executives today indicated they are still weighing the best path forward for T-Mobile US, especially when it comes to improving profitability. "It is our duty to go on improving the return on T-Mobile US," said CEO Tim Hoettges. "If we find a partner who will help us to do so, we will obviously consider it." Deutsche Telekom owns 66% of T-Mobile US and last year attempted sell the company to Japan's SoftBank. T-Mobile has gained more than 8 million customers in the last year, but has done so at considerable expense. Deutsche Telekom said it is under no pressure to sell T-Mobile, but the German company is making it clear that it is open to suggestions.


AT&T Hopes to Score Spectrum from Cellular Properties

May 20, 2015, 3:55 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated May 20, 2015, 5:05 PM

AT&T recently filed paperwork with the FCC seeking permission to buy some Cellular A Block and microwave point-to-point spectrum from Cellular Properties Inc. The spectrum in question covers 11 counties and parts of two Cellular Market Areas in Illinois. Further, CPI's assets and customers would be transferred to AT&T. Because the Cellular A Block spectrum falls under the 1GHz threshold, the FCC will use the "enhanced factor" litmus test in examining the request. The FCC says post-transaction AT&T would hold 45MHz of the available 134MHz low-band spectrum in the named CMAs. Low-band spectrum is valued more than mid- or high-band spectrum and requires extra consideration. The FCC has accepted AT&T's initial filing and slapped a protective order on it to keep some portions of the proceedings secret. AT&T contends the deal will help improve its own network in the area while also opening up its services to CPI's existing customers. A dollar value on the transaction was not disclosed.


Cyanogen Introduces Platform SDK

May 20, 2015, 3:30 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Cyanogen today announced the Cyanogen Platform SDK, a new tool meant to make developing for Cyanogen easier. Cyanogen describes the Platform SDK as an open-source tool that lets developers use existing APIs within CyanogenMod's framework or to create their own APIs for the greater community. Cyanogen believes approaching its platform from an SDK/API perspective will be less daunting than approaching the platform as a whole. The organization is offering an alpha-level SDK with an introductory API for the Quick Settings Tile. Cyanogen hopes developers will take a look and eventually contribute to its platform. Cyanogen is based on Google's Android operating system, but the organization has broken away from Google's version in favor of its own. Earlier this year Cyanogen partnered with Microsoft and will include Microsoft's productivity apps in its operating system. Cyanogen has lots of documentation ready for developers and looking forward to community submissions to the Cyanogen Platform SDK.


T-Mobile Serving Up Variety of Memorial Day Promos

May 20, 2015, 12:34 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today announced a handful of device and service promotions that will become available over the holiday weekend. To start, T-Mobile is offering a free memory upgrade to buyers of the Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge. From May 23 through May 25, the 64 GB model will cost the same as the 32 GB model. Customers who buy the 32 GB will receive a $50 Visa gift card. Following their appearance on T-Mobile's web site earlier this month, the company shared pricing details for the LG Stylo and Leon. The Stylo will cost $289.92 at full retail or $12.08 per month and the Leon will cost $149.76 at full retail or $6.24 per month. T-Mobile Prepaid customers can score the Leon for free with an online rebate. T-Mobile-owned MetroPCS will also sell the Stylo and Leon for $199 and $49, respectively, after online rebates. Customers who switch to MetroPCS from a competing carrier will receive a free LG Leon or $50 toward the phone of their choice. Last, MetroPCS is recirculating the 4x100 promotion. Customers can get four lines with unlimited talk, text, and 2 GB of data per line for a total of $100.


Spotify Finesses Auto Playlist Generation, Adds Video

May 20, 2015, 10:45 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated May 20, 2015, 10:49 AM

Spotify today introduced new features to its streaming music service on the desktop and on mobile devices. The biggest change involves how people discover music and create playlists. A feature called Spotify Now purports to know what listeners want to hear at different times of the day and can automatically generate playlists for different activities, such as commuting, working, and relaxing. The service is also adding video content, which will come from a variety of sources, such as Comedy Central, Vice, ESPN, NBC, Adult Swim, TED, and others. Much of the video content will focus on music and will be short-form clips rather than long shows or episodes. The company is also targeting runners with new music controls that make it easier to select and control playlists while exercising. Spotify is placing an emphasis on discovering the songs that match tempo to the runner's pace. Spotify uses on-device sensors to determine pace and can do so very quickly. The company thinks this can help runners improve their workouts. Spotify has apps for Android, iOS, and Windows Phone. The new apps will reach consumers in the U.S., the U.K., Germany, and Sweden today, with other regions following over time.

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Some AT&T Partners to Cease Selling Contracts

May 19, 2015, 4:21 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated May 19, 2015, 4:27 PM

AT&T today said some of its retailer partners are going to offer only AT&T Next plans beginning June 1. These retailers, like Walmart, may have national footprints, but the change is only being made in some locations that AT&T would not name. AT&T itself will continue to offer contracts at company-owned stores, as well as via its web site, telesales, and most other third-party retailers. "We regularly consider any number of offers that might appeal to our customers," said an AT&T spokesperson to Phone Scoop, "but [we] can share that two year contracts remain a part of our portfolio of offerings." AT&T said it believes customers prefer to have choice. While many of its customers are moving to AT&T Next plans -- which break up device payments over time -- some of its customers still want subsidized handsets and don't mind signing contracts to get them. The change being made by some of AT&T's retail partners does not represent a change in strategy for AT&T. AT&T Next plans are the carrier's response to T-Mobile's Simple Choice plans, which forgo contracts and also break up device payments over time. Sprint and Verizon have their own device payment plans, too. The device payment plans have become popular with consumers because they don't require contracts and often allow people to upgrade to new phones at a faster rate.


ZTE Fanfare Lands On Cricket

May 19, 2015, 3:13 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Cricket Wireless recently added the ZTE Fanfare to its lineup of inexpensive handsets. The Fanfare has a 4.5-inch screen with 854 x 480 pixels. It is protected by Dragontail glass. The Fanfare is powered by a 1.2 GHz dual-core Snapdragon 200 processor and comes with 1 GB of RAM and 4 GB of ROM. The Fanfare's main camera has a 5-megapixel sensor and can capture 720p HD video, and the user-facing camera has a VGA sensor. A 2,000mAh battery keeps the Fanfare running. The device has Google's Android 4.4 KitKat on board. Walmart is selling the ZTE Fanfare for Cricket Wireless. It is priced at $69.88.


Google Brings Tweets Back to Search

May 19, 2015, 1:11 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today announced that it is adding tweets to search results. Tweets will now appear alongside standard results when users search from Google.com, from the Google app on Android and iOS devices, or from any mobile browser. Google believes bringing tweets to search results is a good way for people to read about things as they unfold. Google put tweets in search results several years ago but eventually removed them. For now this feature is limited to English. Google said it plans to add more languages over time.


Instagram's Layout App Reaches Android

May 19, 2015, 12:40 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Instagram today made its Layout application available to the Android platform. Available to the iPhone since March, Layout makes it easier to assemble collages through custom layouts, easy access to photos containing people, and a handful of tools such as pinch-to-zoom and other effects. Layout also features a photo booth function that lets users take pictures on the spot and create instant collages in the moment. Layout for Android is free to download from the Google Play Store. Instagram also updated its main app for Android with a new feature called Structure. According to Instagram, Structure helps bring out details and textures in photos. This feature will reach the iPhone soon. Instagram for Android is also free to download from the Play Store.

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Apple Delivers First Update to the Apple Watch

May 19, 2015, 12:10 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple today made available Watch OS 1.0.1, the first system update for the wearable since its release in April. Apple focused on ridding the Watch of bugs and made a number of performance improvements. For example, Siri should function more consistently and the Watch is better at measuring standing activity. The Watch can now calculate calories for indoor cycling and rowing, as well as measure distances and paces during outdoor walk and run workouts. Watch OS 1.0.1 makes tweaks to accessibility and adds support for new emoji. Last, the Watch now speaks, Brazilian Portuguese, Danis, Dutch, Swedish, Russian, Thai, and Turkish. The update must be installed through the companion iPhone.

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Microsoft Releases New Office Apps for Android Smartphones

May 19, 2015, 11:52 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Microsoft today released a preview version of Office for Android smartphones. The latest renditions of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint closely match those available to the iPhone. Microsoft said it made a lot of improvements to the apps based on feedback for the Android tablet version of Office. The apps are designed to be finger friendly and support many of the same features found on the full desktop versions. Users can create, open, edit, and save files to OneDrive, OneDrive for Business, SharePoint, Dropbox, Google Drive, and Box. Microsoft's Office apps for Android are free to download from the Play Store, but Microsoft is requiring people to join the Office for Android Community in order to access them.


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