Apple today said it has partnered with SAP to help developers create better business apps for the iPhone and iPad. The idea is to combine the tools offered by Apple and SAP so developers can create native iOS apps that are able to reach into SAP's business intelligence systems. "Millions of SAP users will have access to critical data with more ease, speed, and efficiency than ever before," explained Apple. The companies are preparing a new SAP HANA Cloud Platform SDK that will give businesses the ability to quickly and efficiently build their own iOS apps for the iPhone and iPad based on SAP HANA Cloud Platform. Apple believe this new partnership with SAP will help it win over more business customers and convince them to adopt the iPhone or the iPad.
Netflix has given users of its Android and iOS mobile apps control over how much cellular data the apps use. Netflix subscribers can opt to stream video only over WiFi, or at varying degrees of quality to limit data consumption. For example, the "low" setting says it offers about 4 hours of viewing per 1 GB of mobile data, while the "medium" setting cuts that to 2 hours of viewing, and the "high" setting cuts that further to 1 hour of viewing per 1 GB. An unlimited options is available, too, but Netflix strongly recommends subscribers select that option only if they're on unlimited data plans. By default, the app is set to "auto," which delivers around 3 hours of viewing per 1 GB. Netflix recently came under fire after AT&T and Verizon discovered the service was throttling the speeds of its customers, and not the customers of Sprint and T-Mobile. Netflix is free to download from the Google Play Store and iTunes App Store, but the service costs $10 per month and up.
Google today announced an update for its Slides presentation tool that adds the ability for presenters to easily field questions from attendees/viewers. Slides now include a link within presentations that viewers can click on to submit questions for the presenter. All viewers can see and vote on the submitted questions to help the presenter prioritize which to answer. Viewers can submit questions anonymously, or with their names attached. Slides also now allows people to present slides through a Hangout from an iPhone or iPad, or push the presentation to nearby screens using Chromecast or AirPlay. Last, the web version of Slides gains a new laser pointer. Slides for Android and iOS is free to download from the Google Play Store and iTunes App Store, respectively.
Kyocera today said T-Mobile will soon be selling the DuraForce XD rugged Android smartphone. Starting May 11, the DuraForce XD will be available online and in stores for $449.99. The DuraForce has a 5.7-inch display, 3,700mAh battery, and 1.6 GHz quad-core processor. The phone had been available from AT&T since earlier this year.
Cricket Wireless today said it will kick off sales of the LG Stylo 2 on May 13. The phone will cost $169.99. Cricket does not require contracts. The Stylo 2 has a 5.7-inch screen with stylus, a 13-megapixel main camera, 5-megapixel selfie camera, memory card slot, and 3,000mAh battery. The phone is powered by a quad-core 1.2GHz Snapdragon processor and has 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB of storage. It runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow. Cricket said consumers who switch to Cricket from other carriers will receive a $50 gift card, and consumers who switch from T-Mobile will receive a $100 gift card. The Stylo 2 is also being sold by Boost Mobile.
Opera today released a new version of its Opera Mini browser for Android and gave it a native ad blocker. Opera claims the ad blocker serves two purposes: 1. It speeds up page load times by 40%, and 2. It reduces data consumption up to 14% to help lower phone bills. Faster load times are always desirable, but especially so when network conditions are not at their best. Similarly, many consumers subscribe to metered service plans, which makes every bit of data count. The ad blocker in Opera Mini is not on by default, users must activate it in the settings menu. Opera says the browser also now allows users to set home screen shortcuts to specific web pages, and features a redesigned Discover section for curated news feeds. Opera Mini for Android is free to download from the Google Play Store.
Spotify has refreshed the user interface of its iPhone app in an update rolling out today. Notably, the new UI ditches the "hamburger menu" tool that adorned the left side of the screen to call up options. Spotify for iOS now uses a navigation bar positioned at the bottom of the screen that contains the same options (home, browse, search, radio, and your library). Spotify says it tested the revised navigation tool and found an uptick in usage and satisfaction among subscribers. The new Spotify app is available from iTunes beginning today in U.S., U.K., Germany, Austria, and Sweden. Spotify said it will expand the UI change to other regions — and the Android app — over time.
Amazon is kicking off sales of the Nexbit Robin with a limited price. Anyone who buys the phone from Amazon between May 4 and May 10 will pay $299, rather than $399. The sale price is only available in the U.S. Nextbit will continue to sell the phone directly at the full price of $499 through its own web site. Nextbit recently updated the Robin handset, making improvements to speed, reliability, the camera, and sound quality. The Robin was designed by former HTC employees and is unique in that it dynamically offloads files and apps to make room for new content.
Twitter today announced a new tool meant to make it easier to find new people and accounts to follow. The "connect" tab will appear on Twitter for the web, and in the Android and iOS mobile apps beginning today, where Twitter will curate a list of accounts it believe users might like to follow. Twitter says it makes recommendations based on who users already follow, which tweets they like, global events, and what's popular nearby. Twitter says it will refine its recommendations over time. The connect tab also integrates with the user's address book, making it simple to follow contacts en masse. Twitter says the connect tab is rolling out for all users. Twitter is free to download from the Google Play Store and iTunes App Store.
Dish today launched a new service called Smart Phone Repair that involves technicians making house calls. Smart Phone Repair is available to Dish and non-Dish consumers. Dish charges a $35 travel fee to send a tech, who can replace broken screens or dead batteries for the Apple iPhone 5, 5c, 5s, 6 and 6 Plus. Dish says techs can fix one or many phones once on site, and pricing for the repairs will be the same nationwide. Dish plans to expand the service to other handsets over time. Dish mentioned that it uses "respected third-party replacement parts," which means it does not use genuine Apple screens or batteries. Dish offers next-day appointments, available seven days a week, in all 50 states. The company is pitching the service as a more convenient way to deal with phone repairs. Pricing varies by model.
BlackBerry Priv smartphone owners can now swipe across the keyboard to input text, rather than press individual letters. BlackBerry says Priv owners have to turn on Type By Swipe manually, and can choose to swipe either on the software keyboard or the physical keyboard. Turning on swipe, however, disables the existing swiping gestures (for accessing symbols, deleting entire words, etc.) that are part of the Priv's physical keyboard. BlackBerry said it is looking at ways to allow Type By Swipe and its other swiping gestures to work at the same time. The Type By Swipe input tool was added to the Priv with the Android 6.0 Marshmallow update. Privs still running Android 5.1 can access these features by installing a new version of the BlackBerry keyboard app, available in the Google Play Store.
T-Mobile is pushing a minor update to its variants of the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge that improves performance of several features. Specifically, the revised system should offer enhanced voice services on both phones. A bug impacting the volume and power buttons has been eradicated. Last, the update makes unspecified changes to Samsung Pay. The update is available as an over-the-air download. T-Mobile suggests S7 and S7 Edge owners download it via WiFi. The update may take a few days to reach all devices.
Microsoft has updated its Bing search application for the iPhone and added the ability to search for images captured by the camera. The tool, similar to Google Goggles, lets users take a picture and then use the picture to perform a search. Bing will examine the image and return results that include more pictures of the same thing, as well as information about it. The updated search app can now also provide alerts about movie availability, and help find bus routes and schedules. Microsoft took time to improve the app's launch time, too, and stomped out several bugs. Bing search for the iPhone is free to download from the iTunes App Store.
Google is rolling out an update to the Google Keyboard application with a handful of new functions. To start, Android users can now adjust the height of the keyboard between short and tall, with five different heights available in between. This feature reflects what one seen on LG phones for several years. The keyboard can be set to left- or right-handed mode, allows full-word deletion, and adds a dedicated phone-like number pad for faster number entry. The Google Keyboard 5.0 is free to download from the Google Play Store.
Google today highlighted its May security patch, which is first being delivered to Nexus smartphones and tablets. The patch resolves 25 issues, of which six are considered critical. The most severe could enable remote code execution via certain media files, as well as through a Qualcomm WiFi driver and an Nvidia video driver. Google says it discovered the vulnerabilities earlier this year and alerted its parters to the risks on April 4. Google has already made the patch available in factory image form via the Google Developer Site. It will release the associated new builds to the Android Open Source Project within the next 48 hours, and will push the update over the air to Nexus handsets in the next few days. Google said, as far it is aware, none of the vulnerabilities were exploited. Google provides monthly security updates to Nexus-branded Android handsets.
HTC has begun distributing a system update to the 10 smartphone ahead of its general release that improves the camera and connectivity functions. Specifically, low-light images should be sharper and brighter, as should images captured outdoors. The laser-assisted autofocus user interface has been tweaked, and the HDR function has a wider range of light sensitivity. Last, purple noise should no longer be visible in photos captured in Pro Mode. WiFi performance is also improved thanks to Smart MIMO. This update is reaching unlocked European versions of the 10 first, and will soon hit the unlocked model that's for sale directly from HTC. U.S. carriers will begin to sell the 10 over the course of the next week. It's not clear how quickly this system update will be made to carrier models.
Nvidia today said it has settled its patent-related litigation with Samsung. The company first sued Samsung in 2014 over smartphone patents and was later sued in turn by Samsung. In October 2015, Samsung was cleared of violating Nvidia's patents. In December 2015, a law judge with the U.S. International Trade Commission ruled Nvidia was guilty of violating Samsung's patents. That initial ruling was set to be reviewed today by the full ITC panel. The settlement sees each company licensing a few minor patents from one another, but it does not establish a broad cross-licensing agreement, nor does it establish large royalty payments. Terms of the settlement were not disclosed.
Smartphones powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor are about to get a boost in intelligence. Qualcomm today introduced the Neural Processing Engine SDK for Snapdragon 820, which will allow smartphone makers to add their own machine learning programs to devices with the 820 aboard. The Neural Processing Engine SDK relies on Qualcomm's Zeroth Machine Intelligence Platform. Zeroth is already baked into the Snapdragon 820 where it helps detect malware. Qualcomm says the SDK will enable typical deep learning behaviors such as scene detection, text recognition, object tracking and avoidance, facial recognition, and natural language processing. Most importantly, devices that rely on Zeroth will not need a network connection to learn or execute these actions. The SDK itself will include a bevy of tools to help developers create and add such learning behaviors to their smartphones. Qualcomm expects the Neural Processing Engine SDK for Snapdragon 820 to become available during the second half of the year.
LG Innotek revealed a new fingerprint sensor that works through glass, allowing LG and other smartphone makers to create devices free from buttons. LG Innotek was able to do this by carving a small furrow out of the back side of the glass. It then glued the sensor in this furrow with a new, strengthened adhesive. LG Innotek says the embedded fingerprint sensor is just as accurate and quick as those within physical buttons, and has a false positive rate of 0.002%. LG Innotek claims the cover panel glass is still impact resistant, despite the thinner area where the fingerprint sensor is located. The company believes the solution will give phone designers more freedom to innovate, for example, by creating waterproof, buttonless phones. LG Innotek did not say when it expects its under-the-glass fingerprint sensor to ship. Synaptics developed a similar solution last year.
Intel said it will discontinue a handful of processors meant for smartphones and tablets as it continues to shift its business toward more profitable products. In particular, Intel has cancelled plans to sell three of its SoFIA processor-baseband combination chips. The company also plans to can its ARM-based Broxton tablet processor. Two of the three SoFIA modules included support for LTE, which Intel has been slow to add to its lineup. Intel has struggled to compete against industry veteran Qualcomm and others. Early this month Intel announced a strategic shift away from mobile devices; instead, Intel plans to focus on products for PCs, servers, and the internet of things. Intel is also in the process of cutting some 11,000 jobs to trim expenses as it transforms its focus.
The Plantronics BackBeat Go 3 are lightweight stereo Bluetooth headphones that offer a portable design and excellent battery life. This third-generation headset is ideal for use around town when you don't want wires dragging you down. Here is Phonescoop's in-depth review.
Verizon Wireless says it will be the first U.S. carrier to stock the HTC 10 in retail stores, beginning May 5. Verizon began accepting preorders for the phone today and claims no other carrier will sell the device in stores before May 10. Verizon is offering the phone for monthly payments of $27 for 24 months, totaling $648. Verizon is also taking preorders for the Ice View Case for the HTC 10. The Ice View Case is semi-transparent and allows users to perform certain functions even with the front flap closed. The case costs $50, but Verizon didn't say when it will ship. Verizon highlighted several other cases that fit the HTC 10, all of which are eligible for the Case Loyalty Program, which entails increasingly larger discounts on multiple purchases of cases.
The FCC today announced it has set an initial spectrum clearing target of 126 MHz during the reverse part of the auction for 600 MHz airwaves. Television broadcasters have agreed to part with this spectrum. The FCC then plans to offer 100 MHz in 10 near-nationwide paired blocks to wireless providers in the forward phase of the auction. The majority of the spectrum being given up by television broadcasters will qualify as Category 1, which means it has no or little interference. Some of the spectrum will fall under Category 2, which has a greater degree of interference but not so much that it can't be managed. The FCC is today notifying all the television broadcasters about the status of their applications to sell spectrum. The FCC plans a mock auction for May 24-25, and will kick off the actual reverse portion of the auction May 31. It's unclear how long the reverse auction will take place before the FCC is able to turn around and re-sell the spectrum to wireless companies. AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless have all said they plan to participate in the hunt for low-band spectrum.
Sprint today said the HTC 10 will reach its stores on May 13. Sprint is not offering a lease option for the HTC 10, as it does for Apple's iPhone or Samsung's Galaxy S phones. Instead, Sprint will finance the phone for 24 months with payments of $26. An unlocked version of the HTC 10 is already available for sale directly from HTC.com for $699. The phone includes a 5.2-inch quad HD display, Snapdragon 820 processor, 12-megapixel camera, fingerprint sensor, and high-quality sound. It runs Android 6 Marshmallow.
Periscope users can now sketch on the screen during live broadcasts. Periscope added the feature in a recent update to the app, which it says "provides a new way to express yourself while broadcasting." The tool, which requires a long-press to access, lets users draw in red, green, or blue, or use a dropper to sample a color from the video. Sketching is limited to the iOS version of Periscope for now. Twitter, Periscope's parent company, didn't say if or when the feature might be carried over to the Android app. Periscope is free to download from the iTunes App Store.
LG Display plans to invest $396 million to improve its ability to manufacture flexible OLED displays and OLED lighting panels. The company will sink about $272 million into an existing facility in order to boost production capacity, and about $123 million to build a new production line dedicated to OLED lighting. Last year, the company committed close to $1 billion to build a new OLED factory. LG uses flexible OLED displays in some of its smartphones and wearable devices. The G5, LG's latest flagship handset, uses an LCD panel rather than OLED.
Apple recently updated its Apple Music application for the Android platform and added access to music videos. Apple says thousands of music videos are now available to Android users, allowing subscribers to browse through new videos or search for specific songs or artists. The updated app also makes it possible to sign-up for or upgrade to a Family Membership, which supports up to six family members. Apple Music costs $10 per month for a single user or $15 for families. The app itself is free to download from the Google Play Store.
Rick Osterloh, former CEO of Motorola, is returning to Google in order to run the company's new hardware division, which includes Nexus and Chromecast. Osterloh left Lenovo last month. Lenovo bought Motorola from Google in 2014. Osterloh will be responsible for working with Google's handset partners in designing Nexus phones and tablets, as well as Chromecast dongles and compatible products. Osterloh's role will also include oversight of Google Glass, ATAP, OnHub routers, Chrome-based PCs and the Android-based Pixel tablet line. Osterloh will serve as a senior vice president and report to Google CEO Sundar Pichai.
BlackBerry today said it is expanding BBM video calling to Android devices. The feature is rolling out in the U.S. and Canada first in beta. BlackBerry says Android users should be able to make video calls to other BBM users on Android and BlackBerry devices. The company plans to monitor how BBM video calling functions within the beta. Most Android users should be able to take advantage of the feature right away, and aren't required to sign up. Video calling in BBM will be expanded to the iPhone and other regions over time, with a global launch scheduled for July.
Google is rolling out an update to its Google Photos app for Android with a new search bar. The app places the search bar at the top, replacing the floating action button that previously adorned the lower corner of the app. Photos users can now search with a single tap and drop-down options make it easy to find faces, places, or photo types from the library. Google Photos also added the ability to customize the movies Photos automatically creates from events with additional photos, videos, and music. Last, the revised app makes it possible to rename or delete devices folders, and to manage photos stored on SD cards with moving and copying actions, and creating new folders. Google Photos for Android version 1.19 is free to download from the Google Play Store. Google say these changes will reach the iOS Google Photos app soon.
Facebook today announced three new apps for the Windows 10 platform, including a proper Instagram app for phones, and dedicated Facebook and Messenger apps for desktops. The Instagram app for Windows 10 Mobile includes features that have long been available only to the Android and iOS apps, including Instagram Direct, videos, the Explore tab, and more. Further, the Live Tile for Instagram now shows photo updates on the home screen. Instagram for Windows 10 Mobile will reach the Windows Store later today. Facebook said it plans to port the new Facebook and Messenger Windows 10 desktop apps to smartphones later this year.
Apple and partners are making the first wave of CareKit apps available today. Apple announced CareKit at a media event last month. It is similar to ResearchKit and helps healthcare providers and organizations create health-focused applications for the iPhone. The first four apps include Glow Baby for maternity, Glow Nurture fertility tracker, One Drop diabetes monitor, and Start depression medication tracker. CareKit is composed of four modules that interact with one another. It can be used to help people manage wellness, track disease symptoms, log fitness metrics and/or statistics and then share that data directly with their healthcare provider. On the backend, the health data can be managed and viewed through customizable dashboards. While these four CareKit-based apps are being made available to consumers via iTunes, CareKit itself is a developer tool. Apple plans to release CareKit to developers via GitHub.
AT&T will shut down its 2G network ahead of schedule. In 2012, AT&T said it would operate 2G into 2017. This week, however, AT&T CFO John Stevens said the 2G network will be decommissioned by the end of 2016. The company has already moved 6 million customers off 2G over the last twelve months. The bulk of the remaining 2G devices (AT&T didn't say how many) in use are internet-of-things connected devices. Nearly all phones that connect to AT&T's network do so via 3G or 4G. "There still is a lot of cost that is left just to operate even a piece of the 2G network," remarked Stevens during a call with investors. "So we are anxious to capture that savings and use it to continue a strong story for our wireless business." Once decommissioned, the spectrum on which the 2G network operates will be refarmed for LTE.
Samsung today said it plans to make its mobile payment service, Samsung Pay, available in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Singapore, Spain, and the U.K. later this year. The service is already available in the U.S. and Korea. In Korea, Samsung Pay will soon allow Woori Bank cardholders to withdraw cash from ATMs. Samsung said select ATMs will be fitted with the proper technology to sense Samsung Pay on Galaxy phones. Customers won't need to have their debit card to grab some cash. Samsung didn't say if it plans to expand the ATM functionality to other banks or other markets. Samsung Pay uses both NFC and magnetic strip technology to enable payments at most terminals that accept credit cards. Samsung also updated its SoundCamp music creation app, debuted new SDKs and APIs for its ConnectAuto program, announced an IoT platform called Artik Cloud, and expanded what developers can do with its Gear VR. The news was shared during Samsung's developer conference in San Francisco.
Google today announced a new feature for its Calendar application for Android that makes it easier for groups to schedule meetings. This tool is being made available to Google Apps for Work and Edu users, who more commonly need to schedule group events. The "find a time" button can scan all the group members' calendars to find a time that works for everyone. If a common time cannot be found, the "find a time" tool looks to see if conflicting events can be rescheduled. Google says the feature works across time zones and allows the event scheduler to see all invitees' calendar at a glance. The app makes suggestions. Users are still in charge of actually setting meetings. Google Calendar for Android is free to download from the Google Play Store. Google plans to bring this feature to the iPhone soon.
A federal judge says Amazon deserves to be on the hook for charges rung up by children on mobile devices. Consumers complained it was too easy for children to spend money on in-app purchases without proper authorization. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission took action against Amazon. The judge overseeing the case agreed with the FTC's position that Amazon should be liable, but has yet determine what recourse is needed. The FTC is pushing for full refunds to the impacted consumers.
Nextbit said its planned system update for the Robin smartphone will begin going out over the air today. The update pushes the operating system to Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow and includes the April security update, and tweaks to the camera, processor, and sound drivers. Nextbit says the processor refinements should lead to better battery life, while the camera is now much faster, and the stereo speakers provide clearer sound. Nextbit says partnered with AIAIAI to create a custom set of TMA-2 headphones to go with the Robin. The new audio adjustments for the Robin apply to the phone's headset jack as well, and the TMA-2s are able to take advantage of those adjustments for better bass and treble response. The headphones are colored to match the Robin smartphone. They cost $225. Beyond the headphones, AIAIAI and Nextbit worked together to create several exclusive ringtones for the Robin. They reached out to select musical artists and asked them to "make tones that soothe the otherwise occasionally disturbing world of smartphone notifications." The initial musical artists and DJs tapped by Nextbit include Griffage and Lauren Lo Sung. Nextbit plans to add more curated ringtones to its community site over time. Last, the Robin smartphone is now available online from Amazon.com.
Google recently made a remote control app for Android TV available to the iPhone. The app allows iPhone owners to access and control their Android TV device. It includes a d-pad and touchpad for navigation, as well as text and voice search. Google says the app lets people connect multiple remotes to Android TV for multiplayer gaming. The app, which works via WiFi, is compatible with all Android TV products and is free to download from the iTunes App Store.
Microsoft recently added the Acer Liquid M330, a low-cost handset running Windows 10 Mobile, to its U.S. web store. The M330 includes a 4.5-inch screen with 854 by 480 resolution and is powered by a Snapdragon 210 processor with 1 GB of RAM, 8 GB of storage, and support for 64 GB memory cards. The phone has two 5-megapixel cameras. The rear-facing camera includes autofocus and a flash, while the front-facing camera is fixed focus. It includes a standard batch of radios, such as Bluetooth, GPS, and WiFi, and limited LTE support including bands 2, 4, 7, and 12. This makes it somewhat compatible with the 4G networks operated by AT&T and T-Mobile. The M330 supports two SIM cards. The phone is available directly from Microsoft for $99.99 It is sold unlocked.
Google today introduced what it calls MODE watch bands for Android Wear devices created with help from b&nd by Hadley Roma. The bands feature a snap-and-swap switch where they connect to the watch so they can easily be removed and changed. Google is making a wide variety of leather and silicon bands available for Android Wear devices in four different sizes to ensure compatibility with most smartwatches. Google plans to make the MODE mechanism design available to other brands to expand the number of snap-and-swap bands beyond today's launch collection. A tool on Google's web site helps Android Wear owners select a band that fits their specific watch. The MODE bands are available to purchase online from Google, Amazon, and Best Buy.
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