Phone Scoop

printed March 29, 2015
See this page online at:
http://www2.phonescoop.com/articles/news.php

Home  ›

News

Recent Archive  

FCC Chair Floats 3.5GHz Sharing Proposal

Friday, 4:32 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

The FCC is moving forward with plans to free up a portion of the 3.5GHz band for wireless broadband use. The agency has been exploring the idea of sharing the airwaves with the incumbent users, including the military, and wants to make 150MHz of the spectrum available for wireless purposes. Chairman Tom Wheeler today circulated a draft Report and Order proposing to create a new Citizens Broadband Radio Service. The idea is to use a three-tiered sharing paradigm. In a segment called General Authorized Access, any FCC-certified device would be able to access the spectrum as long as it doesn't cause interference. In the Priority Access tier, users would have to acquire "short-duration licenses" at auction. Any service provided in the Priority Access would have to protect GAA users. Existing government users would stand at the top of the three tiers. They use the spectrum for satellite and radar, and will be protected from the two lower tiers. The tiers will be managed by something called the Spectrum Access System, which uses cloud computing technology to visualize and control what entities are using the spectrum in which locations. "I look forward to my fellow Commissioners' feedback on the draft Report and Order," said Wheeler. "I think it provides a peek of the future, and that future is very exciting indeed."


Vine Improves Video Quality to 720p HD

Friday, 12:09 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Vine today announced new support for higher-resolution video. Since launch, the video-sharing service has uploaded videos with a maximum resolution of 480p. An update to its mobile application will record and upload videos in 720p HD. The update will hit the iOS version of Vine in the coming days, with the Android version to follow at some point down the road. Vine is owned by Twitter and lets people record 6-second videos that are then played back in loops. Earlier this week, Twitter released an app called Periscope, which lets people broadcast live video from their smartphones.


US Cellular Accepting Preorders for Galaxy S6

Friday, 10:12 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

U.S. Cellular has begun accepting preorders on its web site for the Samsung Galaxy S6. U.S. Cellular wants $199.99 for the 32 GB S6 or $299.99 for the S6 Edge, each with a two-year contract. Customers who prefer to pay over time can score the S6 for $34 per month or the S6 Edge for $39.50 per month. The 64GB models of the S6 and S6 Edge cost $299.99 and $399.99 with a two year contract, respectively, or $38.50 and $44 per month. U.S. Cellular is offering the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge in black or white, but not the gold color being sold by the big four carriers. U.S. Cellular didn't specify shipping dates.


HTC's Design Chief Departs After One Year at the Helm

Friday, 7:16 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Jonah Becker, HTC's VP of Industrial Design, announced he is departing the company. Becker joined One & Co., a design firm bought by HTC, 17 years ago. He succeeded Scott Croyle, who himself left HTC a year ago. "It's been an amazing journey with One & Co and HTC, but it's time for a new adventure," said Becker through his personal Twitter account. Of his departure HTC said, "We would like to thank Jonah for his work with HTC, and wish him all the best in his future endeavors. He has been succeeded by Daniel Hundt, based in our San Francisco design office." Becker's departure comes just a week after HTC announced a change at the executive leadership level. Long-time CEO Peter Chou switched roles to run the company's Future Development Lab. Cher Wang, who helped found HTC, has assumed the role of CEO. HTC is on the cusp of releasing its 2015 flagship smartphone, the One M9, which Becker played a large role in designing.


Verizon Not Yet Saying when Galaxy S6 Goes On Sale

Thursday, 3:18 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon was the last of the major carriers today to announce pricing and availability details for its version of the Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge. The company will begin taking pre-orders for the phones on April 1, but Verizon did not provide a shipping or in-store date. The 32GB Galaxy S6 will cost $199.99 with a two-year contract, $24.99 per month with an Edge plan, or $599 at full retail. The 64GB model will cost $299.99 with a contract, $29.16 per month, or $699. The 128GB model will cost $399.99 with a contract, $33.33 per month, or $799. Verizon is offering the S6 Edge with similar pricing breakdowns. The 32GB model starts at $299.99 with a contract, $29.14 per month, and $699; the 64GB model runs $399.99, $33.33, and $799; and the 128GB model runs $499.99, $37.49, and $899. (All on-contract prices reflect a $50 mail-in rebate.) Both the GS6 and GS6 Edge will include VoLTE and HD Voice, as well as simultaneous voice and data access.


Sprint Will Be First to Sell HTC One M9 In Stores On March 27

Thursday, 2:47 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint today said it will begin selling the HTC One M9 both online and in stores on Friday, March 27. Sprint is offering the device for $0 down followed by 24 monthly lease payments of $20. Customers who want to upgrade their device after 12 months can pay $10 more per month. Sprint leases require customers to turn in their device at the end of the leasing period, but they'll be able to lease a new phone with $0 down. For a limited time, customers who buy the One M9 from Sprint will be able to purchase a Harmon Kardon speaker for $99 (savings of $50). Sprint said it is still willing to pay all of potential customers' costs if they switch to Sprint from a competing carrier.


Verizon Kicking Off HTC One M9 Preorders April 1

Thursday, 2:25 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless today released pricing and availability details of its variant of the HTC One M9. Verizon is opening up pre-orders for the device on April 1. The phone will reach Verizon's retail stores on April 10. Verizon is selling the M9 for $199.99 with a two-year contract or for $25 per month for 24 months with a Verizon Edge plan. The One M9 will launch with Verizon's Advanced Calling 1.0 capabilities, which enables HD Voice and Video Calling to other compatible Verizon smartphones over LTE. Activating this feature also lets Verizon customers talk and surf the web at the same time.


Sprint Hopes 600MHz Auction Permits Joint Bidding

Thursday, 12:01 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure recently suggested the company might participate in the forthcoming auction for 600MHz spectrum if it is allowed to bid jointly with smaller carriers. Claure made the remarks during a roundtable discussion at the Competitive Carrier Association's Global Expo in Atlanta. "Hopefully the rules of the auction will allow us to participate," said Marcelo, noting the incentive auction will be a "great opportunity for us to lobby together to potentially form a coalition to go after this spectrum together." The 600MHz low-band spectrum is valued highly because of its propagation characteristics. Sprint said CCA members operate regional networks in areas it doesn't provide coverage, and vice versa. Allowing them to bid together would be advantageous to all involved and might let them actually win the licenses. The FCC hasn't finalized the rules for the auction yet, but it is scheduled to begin early next year. Surely AT&T and Verizon Wireless, which already own vast sums of low-band spectrum, will oppose any rules that might limit their participation or prevent them from competing for the licenses.


Sprint Offering Galaxy S6 and Service For $80 Per Month

Thursday, 11:50 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint is hoping to attract customers to its network with a combined promotion that includes the Samsung Galaxy S6 and a Sprint Unlimited Plus service plan for $80 per month. The plan includes the 32GB GS6 for "free" after a $20-per-month credit with a 24-month lease; unlimited talk, text, and data; international value roaming; and annual upgrades. Customers who want the 64GB or 128GB models can get them for $85 and $90 per month, respectively, with the same service plan. Families interested in the Galaxy S6 can score four of them with unlimited talk and text, and 20GB of shared data for a total monthly price of $200 per month. Annual upgrades would cost another $10 per line per month. Customers looking for the Galaxy S6 Edge can snag one for $85 per month ($5 per month after $20-per-month lease credit) with the Sprint Unlimited plan. Customers not interested in contracts or leases can pay full price for the Galaxy S6 ($649.99) and pair it with a Boost Mobile plan. The Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge go on sale in Sprint stores April 10, with pre-orders beginning March 27.


Amazon Offering Unlimited Cloud Storage for $60 Per Year

Thursday, 8:47 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Amazon today debuted two new cloud storage plans that should appeal to consumers looking to store backups of important files online. The Unlimited Everything Plan offers an unlimited amount of online storage for photos, videos, files, documents, movies, and music in Cloud Drive. It costs $59.99 per year. For customers interested in spending less, Amazon is also offering an Unlimited Photos Plan, which lets people store an infinite number of photos in addition to 5GB of additional storage for videos, documents, and other files. The Unlimited Photos Plan costs $11.99 per year. Amazon is offering a free three-month trial of both plans beginning today. Prime members and Fire device owners, who already have access to unlimited photo storage, can choose to sign up for the Unlimited Everything Plan to store videos and files in addition to their pictures.


T-Mobile Asking $780 for Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge

Thursday, 8:39 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile was the first carrier today to reveal pricing information for its variants of the Samsung Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge. T-Mobile listed the full retail prices at $679.92 and $779.76, respectively, for the two handsets. The Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge share nearly all specs and features, but the S6 Edge has a display that's curved on two sides. Customers can pre-order the phones beginning at 7:00 AM Pacific on March 27. The S6 will go for $0 down followed by 24 monthly payments of $28.33, while the S6 Edge will require 24 monthly payments of $32.49. T-Mobile customers who order before April 12th can also receive a one-year Netflix subscription at no cost.


Samsung Galaxy S6 Lands In Carrier Stores April 10

Thursday, 8:19 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung today announced the general availability details for the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge. The devices can be pre-ordered beginning Friday, March 27 and should reach most carrier stores on April 10. Samsung said the black, white, and gold models will be sold in the U.S. in 32GB, 64GB, and 128GB configurations. AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon Wireless, and U.S. Cellular all plan to sell the GS6 and GS6 Edge. Boost Mobile, Cricket Wireless, and MetroPCS will only offer the Galaxy S6. In addition to carrier stores, the two phones will be available at Samsung Experience Shops at Best Buy, as well as Amazon, Costco, Sam's Club, Target, and Walmart. Some carrier stores will have the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge on display beginning tomorrow, even if sales don't commence until April 10. Samsung said carriers will announce individual pricing details later. The devices include 5.1-inch quad HD screens, 16-megapixel cameras, fingerprint readers, and multi-standard wireless charging.


Google's Keep App Scores Labels In Latest Update

Thursday, 7:51 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google this week pushed out an update to its Keep application for Android devices. The note-taking app adds labels, which users can take advantage of to organize their notes or make them easier to search. The app also adds scheduled reminders (daily, weekly, monthly) for recurring tasks or events. Google Keep is free to download from the Google Play Store.


Twitter's Periscope App Powers Live Video Streaming

Thursday, 7:43 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Twitter today released a new application for the iPhone called Periscope. The app lets people broadcast live video to their Twitter followers. When Periscope users choose to publish live video, their followers are notified and can view the stream, comment on the video, and send feedback in the form of hearts. Periscope saves broadcasts for up to 24 hours for replay, and permits people to share live video privately if they wish. Periscope will suggest who to follow based on the user's Twitter network, as the app allows people to follow/unfollow other Periscope users at will. Users can easily act on or ignore incoming notifications when others in their network begin streaming live video. The feedback mechanism, which uses hearts, tells Periscope streamers how much love their video receives. Periscope is battling a third-party app called Meerkat, which similarly offers live video feeds via Twitter. Periscope is free to download from the iTunes App Store. Twitter didn't indicate if it will release a version for Android devices.


AT&T, T-Mobile Share HTC One M9 Pricing Details

Thursday, 7:17 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T and T-Mobile today followed up HTC's announcement concerning One M9 pricing and availability with their own. AT&T will begin accepting pre-orders for the M9 at 12:01 AM tonight and will sell the device in stores April 10. The device will cost $199.99 with a two-year contract or $708.99 at full retail. Customers looking to pay over time can get the One M9 for $23.64 per month with Next 24, $29.55 with Next 18, or $35.45 with Next 12. AT&T is selling the 32GB model in silver or gray. T-Mobile plans to begin accepting pre-orders for the M9 at 6:00 AM Pacific Time on March 27 and will sell it in stores April 10. T-Mobile is offering it for $0 down followed by $27.08 per month for 24 months. T-Mobile will also sell the device at the full retail cost of $649.92. T-Mobile's version of the device will have WiFi calling. Both AT&T and T-Mobile will ship the One M9 as customers place orders, which means they'll likely arrive before the April 10 in-store availability date.


HTC to Sell One M9 March 27 for $649, Carriers April 10

Thursday, 7:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

HTC will make the One M9 available for purchase on its web site beginning Friday, March 27 for $649. Carrier and major retailer sales of the device will kick off on or about April 10. HTC will be offering an unlocked version of the One M9, which supports the LTE networks operated by AT&T and T-Mobile, in addition to major carrier models. The company is offering a 12-month, interest-free payment option for customers who'd rather pay for the device over time. AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon plan to sell the phone and it will also be available from Amazon, Best Buy / Best Buy Mobile, Costco, and Target. The phone will be sold in gunmetal gray or two-tone gold/silver and in 32GB and 64GB models. The One M9 comes with Uh Oh protection, which will let owners get a free replacement device if theirs suffers a broken screen or water damage. The One M9 goes on sale via HTC's web site at 12:01AM Eastern Time. The phone features a 5-inch full HD screen, 20-megapixel main camera, Snapdragon 810 processor, BoomSound stereo speakers, and an all-aluminum chassis.


Motorola Found to Infringe on MMS Patent

Wednesday, 6:52 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

A Delaware jury today said Motorola violated a patent held by Intellectual Ventures. The patent pertains to how multimedia messages function on mobile devices. The jury cleared Motorola of violating a second patent related to wireless bandwidth. Damages will be decided later. The two companies faced off in court last year over these same patents, but the trial resulted in a hung jury. Today's decision comes after the case was tried again. Intellectual Ventures is taking Motorola to trial over yet another patent later this week. Intellectual Ventures is a patent-holding firm with some 17,000 patents in its portfolio.


Lumia 640 Landing At T-Mobile In Near Future

Wednesday, 2:10 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile recently added the Microsoft Lumia 640 to its web site and described the device as "coming soon." Microsoft revealed the Lumia 640 at Mobile World Congress earlier this month. The phone has a 5-inch HD screen, 8-megapixel camera, LTE, Bluetooth, WiFi, GPS, and Microsoft's productivity apps. The Lumia 640 will ship with Windows 8.1, but can be upgraded to the full version of Windows 10 later this year. T-Mobile didn't disclose exact availability or pricing, but Microsoft said the phone will reach stores in April for about $180. AT&T and MetroPCS also plan to sell the Lumia 640.


Facebook to Turn Messenger Into a Platform for Apps

Wednesday, 12:33 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Wednesday, 12:41 PM

Facebook today announced Messenger Platform, an expansion of its messaging application that will let developers tap into key features. Facebook envisions Messenger Platform as new place for people to express themselves and share content. Allowing developers to hook into Messenger means users will eventually be able to do much more with their conversations, such as create animated GIFs. People will soon be able to browse for Messenger apps directly from Messenger. Facebook said 40 apps will be available at launch. Facebook also announced Messenger for Business. The idea here is to allow people to communicate with businesses via Messenger rather than via phone or other means. Facebook views it as a more convenient approach to communications between customers and companies. In an example provided on stage during its F8 developer conference, Facebook demonstrated how Messenger -- rather than email -- can be used by businesses to provide purchasing and shipping details when shopping online. Facebook said apps for Messenger and Messenger for Business will go live in a few weeks.


T-Mobile Tempting Galaxy S6 Buyers with Year of Netflix

Wednesday, 11:55 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today revealed via Twitter that customers who buy the Samsung Galaxy S6 or S6 Edge will receive a year-long subscription to on-demand video service Netflix. T-Mobile didn't provide any other details about the promotion, nor has the company said when the latest smartphones from Samsung will go on sale.


Seniors Wireless Adds Doctor Access to Wireless Plans

Wednesday, 11:45 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Seniors Wireless, a Sprint MVNO, announced a new service that gives subscribers direct phone access to a doctor at all times. TeleMED Assist provides customers with unlimited calls to doctors for emergency, urgent, or non-urgent purposes 24/7. Over-the-phone medical consultations are included in the service, which costs $30 per month for singles or $40 per month for couples. TeleMED Assist is a separate service and does not require a Seniors Wireless telephone account. Seniors Wireless offers a handful of standard service plans ranging from $10 to $30 per month. The company has several handsets, such as the Samsung Galaxy S3, S4, S5 and Note 3, the Sharp Aquos Crystal, the LG Vigor, and the Apple iPhone 4. Seniors Wireless competes with GreatCall, which also offers access to health professionals over the phone. Both target the over 55 set.


Kyocera Phone Recycling Program to Benefit Soldiers

Wednesday, 10:48 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Kyocera today launched a nationwide 'Take Back' phone recycling program that will provide calling services to deployed military personnel. Kyocera partnered with SecondWave Recycling to handle the logistics. SecondWave breaks phones down and responsibly recycles their raw materials. For every four phones recycled, Kyocera will donate $1 to the Cell Phones for Soldiers program, which gives active-duty military personnel and veterans free communications services when abroad. The $1 donation provides 30 minutes of long-distance calling time. Kyocera says only 13% of cell phones are recycled, with the remainder going to landfills or incinerators. The Take Back program will accept any phone, working or not. People interested in recycling their phones can print free shipping labels from Kyocera, which will also provide shipping containers if necessary.


Apple Buys Database Startup

Wednesday, 7:46 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple has acquired a Virginia-based startup called FoundationDB. The company develops efficient database technology that can be used to process information at extremely high speeds at very low costs. The tech could be used to improve the stability and performance of Apple products such as iMessage and iAd, according to the Wall Street Journal. Apple confirmed the acquisition, but did not disclose terms of the deal. Apple has acquired 23 companies in the last 15 months, most of which were startups.


TomTom Parks New Nav App in Google Play Store

Wednesday, 7:31 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

TomTom today released a new version of its navigation service for Android devices. TomTom Go Mobile boasts up-to-date maps for more than 100 countries with support for offline viewing, live traffic updates, safety camera locations, points of interest, and seamless syncing with contacts. The app depicts buildings and landmarks in 3D and provides alerts ahead of known speed traps. TomTom Go Mobile offers a limited amount of free turn-by-turn navigation per month (about 60 miles). Users can upgrade to unlimited navigation for $20 for one year or $45 for three years. TomTom has removed its old navigation app from the Play Store. Consumers who've already installed the old app will be able to upgrade to the new app with a year of unlimited navigation for just $0.99. The old app will be fully discontinued Oct. 1. TomTom Go Mobile is free to download from the Play Store. It competes with Google Maps and Nokia HERE Maps, which offer unlimited navigation for free.


Opera Brings Mini Browser to Windows Phone

Wednesday, 7:16 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Opera today released a beta version of its Opera Mini browser for the Windows platform. Opera Mini for Windows offers many of the app's core features, such as Speed Dial for favorites and easy-to-navigate tabs. Since Opera Mini uses Opera's server-side compression, web sites should load faster of mobile handsets and consume less data. Opera claims its compression can cut web site size down by as much as 90%. The browser offers large buttons, makes it easy to share content to social networks, and maintains users' privacy and security. Opera Mini is ideal for people who have limited data plans. Opera Mini beta for Windows is free to download from the Windows Store.


Facebook's Latest Feature Banks On Nostalgia

Tuesday, 1:06 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Facebook today announced a new feature called "On This Day" that shows users what they were doing on that particular day in years past. Users will be able to see items such as status updates, photos, posts from friends, and other things they may have shared or been tagged in on Facebook. Users will be the only ones able to see their On This Day content unless they choose to share it with friends. Users will be able to edit or delete those old posts if they wish. Facebook said the feature is rolling out to web and mobile users over the next few weeks.


LG G Flex 2 Arrives on US Cellular March 26

Tuesday, 11:47 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

U.S. Cellular today said it will begin selling the LG G Flex 2 on March 26. Customers can choose from several different payment options. The phone costs about $630 at full retail, but U.S. Cellular is also offering contract pricing ($150 with two-year commitment) or monthly payments ($31.50 for 20 months). U.S. Cellular will have both the silver and red models on hand. The device features a curved design, 13-megapixel camera, 5.5-inch screen, and Snapdragon 810 processor. Sprint is already selling the G Flex 2, but other carriers have yet to announce their plans.


MetroPCS Intros $30 Unlimited Plan With a Catch

Mar 24, 2015, 8:39 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Tuesday, 10:48 AM

MetroPCS today announced a new promotion that gives customers unlimited talk, text, and data for $30 per month. Customers can access up to 1GB of data at 4G speeds, but once they reach that limit data speeds are throttled back. Customers will still have access to data, it will simply be slower. MetroPCS said the deal is available to all its customers as long as they have a MetroPCS phone. The promotional $30 plan is available only in MetroPCS stores beginning today. MetroPCS didn't put an end date on the promo.


Lawsuits Target FCC's Net Neutrality Rules

Mar 24, 2015, 6:59 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Opponents to the FCC's net neutrality rules filed the first volley of lawsuits this week. USTelecom, which represents the broadband industry, filed a lawsuit in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. It called the rules "arbitrary, capricious, and an abuse of discretion." It also believes the rules violate existing laws, regulations, and rulemaking procedures. Separately, Alamo Broadband, based in Texas, filed a lawsuit in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans with similar complaints. The FCC adopted the rules in February, which seek to prevent wired and wireless broadband companies from throttling speeds, blocking apps or services, and forming high-speed lanes for select companies. "We believe that the petitions for review filed today are premature and subject to dismissal," said an FCC spokesperson.


FCC Weighing Changes to Auction Discount Rules

Mar 23, 2015, 3:58 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

The FCC plans to alter how companies qualify for discounts in spectrum auctions. The rules came under fire recently after Dish Networks won $13 billion in spectrum by bidding through smaller entities. The smaller entities are eligible for discounts, wiping about $3 billion from the total price Dish will have to shell out. Dish's competitors, including AT&T and Verizon, decried the strategy as unfair because Dish is a large company and the discounts are meant for small companies. In response, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has floated a public notice with the other commissioners, according to sources cited by Reuters, that will close this loophole. Wheeler asked his colleagues to comment on how best to reform the discount program moving forward. The idea behind the discount program is to encourage smaller, regional companies to participate in spectrum auctions.


Microsoft Releases Windows 10 Developer Toolkit

Mar 23, 2015, 3:49 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Microsoft today made a software developer kit available to developers interested in creating apps for the forthcoming Windows 10 platform. The SDK requires users to be a member of the Windows Insider Program and have the latest build of the Windows 10 Technical Preview, as well as a handful of other apps. By releasing the SDK, Microsoft is essentially asking developers to start coding Windows 10 applications for Windows PCs, tablets, and phones. Microsoft expects to release Windows 10 this summer and will want a healthy supply of apps available for the new platform when it arrives. The SDK arrives about a month before Microsoft plans to hold its annual Build developer conference. More details are expected to surface at that time.


Twitter, Foursquare to Offer Place Tagging in Tweets

Mar 23, 2015, 12:59 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Twitter today said it has partnered with Foursquare so users can tag specific locations in Tweets. Twitter already lets users to tag their location from its mobile apps, but the location is defined loosely across a broad area, like a neighborhood or town. With Foursquare, people will be able to tag more specific places, such as businesses, restaurants, or other venues. The place details will be added to Tweets, and users will be able to access the details from their timeline. Twitter didn't say exactly when the feature will be made available.


Instagram Debuts Layout Photo App

Mar 23, 2015, 12:12 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Instagram today announced a new app called Layout, which helps people create photo collages on their smartphones. The app portends to make 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. Layouts also features a photo booth function that lets users take pictures on the spot and create instant collages in the moment. Layout is free to download from the iTunes App Store. Instagram said a version will be made available to Android devices in the coming months. Instagram is owned by Facebook.


Samsung Agrees to Preload More Microsoft Apps

Mar 23, 2015, 10:51 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung plans to preinstall a wide range of Microsoft's productivity apps on its Android devices moving through the first half of the year. Samsung already announced the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge will have Microsoft's OneNote, OneDrive, and Skype apps on board. Today, Samsung said will will put Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, OneDrive, and Skype on some of its Android tablets. The GS6 and GS6 Edge will also have access to 100GB of OneDrive storage for a period of two years. Microsoft and Samsung believe the expanded partnership will provide potential business customers with improved productivity options via Office 365, and better security through Samsung's KNOX program. The companies did not specify if Microsoft's productivity apps will be preinstalled on more smartphones, but Microsoft Office apps are already free for most Android devices to download from the Google Play Store.


Square Makes Payments Simpler with $Cashtag

Mar 23, 2015, 9:16 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Square today announced $Cashtag, a new way to make payments online or from mobile phones. The $Cashtag service is based on Square Cash and makes it easier for people or businesses to accept online payments rather than checks. It order to work, people and businesses need to create a unique $Cashtag, which acts as an address at which they can receive payments. Square says $Cashtag can be used to replace most types of payments. Square is charging businesses transaction fees of 1.5%, which is lower than the 2.75% it charges for its Square Register card-swiping app. Consumers won't be charged any fees when using $Cashtag. The $Cashtag service is mostly aimed at small businesses, but is available to anyone. Square is competing directly with PayPal, but also with other mobile and P2P payment services, such as the one recently launched by Facebook.


AT&T Trudges Forward with 700MHz Interoperability

Mar 20, 2015, 11:01 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T recently told the FCC where it stands with respect to interoperability in the 700MHz band and said it is making good progress. At issue is phones' abilities to roam between several different bands within the 700MHz A Block slice of airwaves, specifically Band 17 and Band 12. AT&T at first argued against the idea of adding support for Band 12, citing expenses and interference. It later reversed course and has recently finalized lab tests of its network multi-frequency band indicator (MFBI) capabilities. The carrier said it is "well into our field testing for all of our macro-cellular vendors and progressing well." AT&T is working with several of its competitors to fully test the interoperability between bands. Support for Band 12 is important mainly for smaller carriers, such as C Spire Wireless, but it is also important for T-Mobile, which plans to deploy LTE in the 700MHz band later this year. Phones that support more bands can be used across a greater range of carriers. "With recent 3GPP specification changes, it is now possible to build Band 17 devices that are upgradeable to Band 12 MFBI using software," said AT&T. "These devices require different filters/hardware than the legacy Band 17 devices. This requirement has been added to AT&Ts device requirements and RFP guidance." AT&T has committed to releasing Band 12-capable handsets later this year. Beginning Sept. 30, half of all new devices released by the carrier will be compliant.


HTC Appoints Cher Wang as CEO

Mar 20, 2015, 6:59 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

HTC today promoted Cher Wang, co-founder and chairman of HTC, to the CEO position. Wang is replacing long-time CEO Peter Chou, who is transitioning to a product development role. Wang has taken on more responsibility over the last two years as Chou focused more on creating devices. The company feels today's change is the next logical step in the progression it set in place several years ago. "We are seeing rapid changes in the industry, with the smartphone as our personal hub connecting us to a growing world of smart devices," said Wang. "We pioneered the smartphone industry; now we are applying that thinking to realize the potential of a new generation of connected products and services." The company debuted the RE camera last year, partnered with Under Armour earlier this year, announced a wearable, and showed off a virtual reality headset. "As an entrepreneur at heart, I am excited to see so many new opportunities [and] to help shape the next stage of HTC's development," concluded Wang. HTC said Peter Chou will continue to help the company find new growth opportunities.

Share   Comments  1


Icon Q Debuts the Q5.5, Its First Smartphone

Mar 19, 2015, 1:36 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Icon Q today announced the Q5.5, the company's first smartphone. The device is being sold unlocked and free of contracts for $199. The Q5.5 features a 5.5-inch 720p screen, 1.4GHz octa-core MediaTek processor with 2GB of RAM, and 16GB of storage with support for memory cards. The device runs Android 4.4 KitKat and includes a 13-megapixel main camera and a 5-megapixel user-facing camera. The phone offers Bluetooth and WiFi, and supports GSM networks with HSPA (850MHz, 1900MHz, 2100MHz), meaning it will work on the networks run by AT&T and T-Mobile. Icon Q, which makes tablets and other devices, is pitching the Q5.5 as an ideal travel phone since it supports two SIM cards. The device is available directly from Icon Q.


Android Auto Hits the Play Store for Lollipop Phones

Mar 19, 2015, 1:03 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today made Android Auto, its platform for connecting to car-based infotainment systems, available as an app in the Play Store. With the app and compatible car, Android smartphone owners will be able to access navigation, calls and messaging, Google Search, and their music through the car's screen rather than their phone. Android Auto competes with Apple's CarPlay and the open MirrorLink standard. It is available in select head units from Pioneer and will soon be available in select cars. The app is free to download, but requires Android 5.0 and up. Google also created a section in the Play Store highlighting third-party apps that are compatible with Android Auto.


Carriers to Rely on CTIA, Other Trade Groups to Sue FCC

Mar 19, 2015, 12:12 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T, Verizon Wireless and other mobile network operators won't sue the FCC over its proposed net neutrality plans on their own, but will through a number of trade groups. Sources cited by Reuters suggest the move will allow the carriers to streamline their litigation and prevent them from becoming the targets of backlash. "We believe there will be a lot of litigation, which will probably be led by industry associations," said Verizon Chief Financial Officer Fran Shammo. The CTIA is expected to lead the charge against the FCC and may be joined by the National Cable and Telecommunications Association, and the USTelecom association. The American Cable Association and the National Association of Manufacturers are still deciding whether or not to pursue legal challenges to the FCC's plan. The trade groups involved will likely target the FCC's authority to make the changes it did, and that it didn't properly notify stakeholders of the potential for reclassifying broadband under Title II. The FCC believes its proposal will withstand the impending legal assaults.


More articles in the Archive ›


What do you want to hear about? We're already working on a number of articles for the coming months, but we want to write about the things you're most interested in. So sound off: tell us what you want to know more about!

Subscribe to Phone Scoop News with RSS Follow @phonescoop on Twitter Phone Scoop on Facebook Phone Scoop on Google+ Subscribe to Phone Scoop on YouTube Follow on Instagram

 

All content Copyright 2001-2015 Phone Factor, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
Content on this site may not be copied or republished without formal permission.
2