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printed November 23, 2014
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Verizon Debuts LG Transpyre

Today, 2:06 PM   by Rich Brome   updated Today, 2:07 PM

Verizon today added the LG Transpyre to its prepaid lineup. This basic Android phone is essentially the same phone as the LG Tribute offered by Virgin Mobile, except with more memory and a better front camera. The phone has a 4.5-inch display, 5-megapixel main camera, and 1.2 GHz Snapdragon 400 processor. Other features include 4G LTE, a memory card slot, and a removable battery. Verizon is currently offering the Transpyre for $100 with a no-contract prepaid plan.


Motorola to Replace Some AT&T Nexus 6 Phones

Friday, 1:42 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Motorola today said it will replace a few hundred Nexus 6 handsets sent to some AT&T customers. "We delivered a small number of Nexus 6 smartphones with incorrect software to AT&T customers who pre-ordered," said Motorola in a statement. "The incorrect software prevents the phone from starting up properly. We will provide replacements for consumers whose phones are affected. The problem has been corrected and the phones currently shipping are fine." When asked, Motorola denied that shipments were halted or recalled because of the bug. The issue appears to only affect the AT&T variant of the Nexus 6. "If a consumer sees the 'welcome' after the first time they turn on the phone, then their device isn't affected and they should use it as normal," said Motorola in an email to Phone Scoop. "People can call [Motorola's] customer service if they have questions."

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FCC Auction Tops $31B as FCC Looks to 2016

Friday, 12:41 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Licenses for AWS-3 spectrum being auctioned off by the FCC are drawing far more interest than the agency hoped. Bids surpassed a total of $31 billion today during the 24th round. The most popular license is a 10x10Mhz slice of J Block spectrum in New York City, which has a current high bid of $1.86 billion. The FCC set a $10.56 billion minimum for the auction, which has generated bidding three times higher than expected. Despite the incredible dollar figures attached to the bids, analysts suggest bids are coming in more slowly, which could signal an end to the auction. At the same time, the FCC said it will vote on the proposed rules for 2016's reverse auction at its next meeting, scheduled for Dec. 11. The reserve auction will see television broadcasters sell their 600MHz spectrum licenses to wireless broadband companies. The rules are fairly complex and have been open for discussion for a lengthy amount of time. The FCC delayed the auction from mid-2015 to early 2016 to give it more time to iron out all the details.


Square Says It Will Support Apple Pay Next Year

Friday, 12:08 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Square founder Jack Dorsey said the company will add support for Apple Pay at Square-based terminals at some point in 2015. Square makes a dongle that attaches to smartphones and tablets, as well as a tablet-based register device, in order to help small businesses use modern tools to expand their customer base. "We're not building a credit card," said Dorsey to CNN. "We're not building a payment device. We're building a [cash] register, and this register accepts all these forms of payments." Apple Pay is accepted at about 220,000 retail locations around the U.S., and just this week became available at Winn-Dixie and Harveys grocery stores. Apple Pay lets iPhone 6 and 6 Plus owners make tap-and-go payments at compatible terminals.


AT&T to Sell Sonim's Rugged XP6

Friday, 9:49 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T today announced the immediate availability of the Sonim XP6. The XP6 is a highly rugged Android smartphone that includes buttons and controls like a feature phone. It is certified to mil-spec 810G for protection against drops, vibration, temperature extremes, and humidity. The IP68 rating means it is protected again water and dust intrusion, as well. The XP6 is compatible with AT&T's enhanced PTT service, and has an extremely loud speaker at 103dB. The phone has a 2.64-inch display with 320 x 424 pixels. It runs Android 4.4 KitKat. Specs include a 1.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 400 processor with 1GB of RAM and 8GB of internal storage; 5-megapixel camera with 720p HD video capture; an extra large 4,820mAh battery; and Bluetooth, GPS, LTE, and WiFi radios. AT&T is selling the Sonim XP6 through its business sales channels. The Sonim XP6 is available for $0 down at $17.50 per month on AT&T Next 24; $21.88 on AT&T Next 18; $26.25 on AT&T Next 12; $149.99 with a standard two-year contract; or $524.99 with no commitment. Business and government customers can buy the XP6 for $100 with a two-year contract as long as they also sign up for EPTT service.


Motorola Updates Camera and Gallery Apps

Friday, 8:36 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Motorola has made new versions of its camera and gallery applications available to the Moto X, Moto G, and Droid Turbo handsets. The camera app gains new timer functions and Material Design. It also adds a way to switch between the user-facing camera and main camera with a double flick of the wrist. Motorola's gallery app was updated with Material Design, but no new features. Both apps are free to download from the Play Store.


Office for Android Gains Dropbox Integration

Friday, 8:28 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Microsoft recently updated its Office apps for Android smartphones and added compatibility with Dropbox. The company announced Dropbox integration for its Office products earlier this month. Android users can now access Dropbox from Office apps to get to their files and folders; edit Office files directly from Dropbox and sync them across devices; and share new or edited files from the Office apps using Dropbox sharing tools. Interested users will need both an Office and a Dropbox account in order to access these tools. Microsoft Office and Dropbox are free to download from the Play Store.


Twitter Now Lets Users Share Tweets via Direct Message

Thursday, 3:36 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Twitter today revealed a new feature that allows people to send individual tweets to others through direct messages. The feature is being added to both the Android and iOS applications, as well as to Twitter.com. Before today, the only way to share tweets privately was via email or other methods outside of Twitter. Twitter hopes the sharing tool will prevent people from leaving Twitter for other apps. Twitter recently made it possible to send URLs through its direct message tool, as well. It had initially turned off this feature to protect against spam. Twitter also opened its archives for anyone to search. All public tweets stretching back to 2006 can now be discovered.


Google Settles with Rockstar Over Patents

Thursday, 12:32 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Thursday, 12:38 PM

Google disclosed this week that it has settled a lawsuit filed against it by Rockstar regarding mobile device patents. Rockstar is a patent-holding consortium led by Apple. It outbid Google to acquire thousands of old Nortel patents back in 2011 and filed the lawsuit against Google and others in 2013. Terms of the settlement were not revealed.


Corning Says Gorilla Glass 4 Its Strongest Glass Yet

Thursday, 8:21 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Corning today announced Gorilla Glass 4 for mobile devices. Corning said its goal with Gorilla Glass 4 was to address consumers' biggest complaint: screens that crack when dropped. The company developed new methods for dropping devices onto rough, hard surfaces and spent thousands of hours analyzing smartphone glass that had broken in the field. Corning claims Gorilla Glass 4 is twice as strong as any other glass on the market. Moreover, Gorilla Glass 4 can survive 80% of drops from one meter onto hard surfaces, such as asphalt or concrete. Despite the increase in strength, Gorilla Glass 4 is thin and clear, making it ideal for devices such as smartphones. Gorilla Glass 4 is already sampling with select device makers. Corning didn't say when it is expected to reach consumer products.


AT&T Adds $45 Option to GoPhone Plans

Wednesday, 5:17 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T recently added an option to its selection of prepaid plans. Splitting the difference between the existing $40 and $60 plans is a new $45 plan. It includes unlimited calling in the U.S. and unlimited messaging. As for data, the plan offers 1GB of high-speed data. Customers who exceed the monthly limit will be throttled down to 128Kbps for the remainder of the billing period. Alternately, customers can purchase another 1GB of data for $10. The $40 plan includes only 500MB of data, while the $60 plan includes 2.5GB. The new $45 GoPhone plan is already available.


Motorola Intros Fob for Finding Lost Keys or Phones

Wednesday, 1:46 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Motorola today announced the Keylink, a Bluetooth device meant to help the absent minded find their missing keys or phone. The Keylink can be attached to a key ring and is paired with devices via Motorola's Connect application. Once set up, your keys and phone will be able to find one another should either go missing. For lost phones, Keylink owners need only press a button to make their phone ring. Similarly, for lost keys Keylink owners need only open the Connect app to make the Keylink ring. According to Motorola, the Keylink has a range of about 100 feet, and the replaceable battery lasts about a year. The Motorola Connect app is free to both Android and iOS devices. The Keylink is available from Motorola and T-Mobile beginning today for $25.


T-Mobile Improves International Calling Plans

Wednesday, 9:39 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today made it less expensive for customers to make calls from the U.S. to select countries abroad. T-Mobile's Stateside International Talk plan allows Simple Choice subscribers to make unlimited calls to landlines in 70 countries for $5 per account (not per line). Alternately, $10 per month buys unlimited calling to mobile phones in more than 30 countries and 1,000 minutes to mobile phones in Mexico, which is in addition to the unlimited landline calling. The promotional pricing is available starting today and runs through the end of the year.


Samsung Releases Milk Video

Wednesday, 9:27 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Wednesday, 9:28 AM

Samsung today announced Milk Video, a video content discovery service for Galaxy-branded smartphones. Like Samsung's Milk Music, Milk Video has a refined user interface that makes browsing the best way to find new and interesting videos. According to Samsung, Milk Video will learn and refine its content recommendations every time people use it to create a more personal experience. Some of the content partners include Condé Nast, Funny Or Die, Red Bull, Vevo, and VICE. Samsung says it is working to score more content down the road. Milk Video is compatible with the Galaxy Note II, 3, 4, and Edge; Galaxy Mega; and Galaxy SIII, S4, S4 Mini, and S5 smartphones. It is free for owners of these devices to download from the Play Store.


Starbucks Officially Debuts Wireless Charging in Shops

Wednesday, 8:58 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Starbucks has begun to deploy wireless charging stations at select coffee shops in the San Francisco Bay Area. The company said 200 stores now offer wireless charging spots on tables and coffee bars. Customers with compatible handsets can place their devices on the spots to receive a power boost while sipping a latte. Starbucks is working with Powermat, which uses the inductive charging standard developed by the Power Matters Alliance. Some phones in the market use the PMA standard for wireless charging, but many do not. Powermat makes a wide array of sleeves and other accessories for devices that don't support wireless charging on their own. Starbucks will allow customers to buy or borrow a special Powermat Ring, which is PMA compliant and plugs into phones via USB. The Powermat Ring costs $10, or can be used for free when purchasing food or beverages. Earlier this year, Starbucks said it will add about a dozen wireless charging stations to each of its 7,500 locations in the U.S., though many of the deployments won't take place until 2015. There are still competing standards in the wireless charging space. Qi, the standard created by the Wireless Power Consortium, still has strong support in some quarters and is supported by a number of phones. Starbucks' wireless charging project is being supported by AT&T, which is a member of the PMA.


Qualcomm's Latest LTE Modem Boasts 450Mbps Downloads

Wednesday, 8:31 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Qualcomm today announced a new LTE modem and accompanying envelope tracker for mobile devices that has the potential to deliver blistering download and upload speeds. The Gobi 9x45 modem supports Category 10 LTE and global carrier aggregation for download speeds of up to 450Mbps and upload speeds of up to 100Mbps. Qualcomm says it is up to 1.5 times faster than Category 6 LTE. The modem uses 20nm technology and supports all major cellular standards (GSM, DC-HSPA, CDMA, EVDO) and radio frequency bands. It also supports most major geolocation systems, including GPS, Glonass, and Galileo, as well as LTE Broadcast, VoLTE, and dual SIM LTE. The QEF3100 envelope tracker uses 30% less board area, creates less heat, and is more power efficient. Qualcomm says it will allow device makers to create even thinner designs that perform better. The Gobi 9x45 and QEF3100 are currently sampling with customers and are anticipated to be commercially available in 2015.


Apple Found to Violate Pager Patents

Tuesday, 4:10 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple was found guilty of violating four patents held by Mobile Telecommunications Technologies. The Texas-based company's heydey was during the 90s, when it operated SkyTel 2-Way pagers. The company sued Apple last year over five patents covering the two-way exchange of data, such as messages and calendar invites. Apple was exonerated of violating a patent pertaining to emoji. Mobile Telecommunications Technologies initially sought $237.2 million. Apple was ordered to pay $23.6 million in damages. Apple didn't immediately comment on the verdict.


Microsoft's Lawsuit Against Samsung May Proceed

Tuesday, 4:01 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung has lost its bid to delay a trial with Microsoft, which is seeking interest payments of $6.9 million on patent licenses. Samsung and Microsoft forged an agreement in 2011 in which Samsung agreed to pay royalties for patents Microsoft holds that are used in the Android operating system. Samsung delayed making its royalty payments after Microsoft announced its intent to acquire Nokia's handset business. According to Samsung, Microsoft's move made it a direct competitor, which it feared could lead to collusion charges. Samsung asked an international court in Hong Kong to hold arbitration hearings, which it wanted to complete before dealing with Microsoft in the U.S. A U.S. District Court Judge disagreed, however, and said Microsoft's case can move forward during the arbitration process.


Apple to Developers: Start Making Apps with WatchKit

Nov 18, 2014, 1:48 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple today released WatchKit, the set of tools developers need in order to create apps for the forthcoming Apple Watch. Apple said developers can create notifications for their apps that appear on the Apple Watch, as well as create Glances (Apple parlance for quick nuggets of app-specific data). The WatchKit tools include programming guides, human interface guidelines, and templates. Apple said that developers will be able to create fully native apps for Apple Watch beginning later next year. The WatchKit developer tools are found within the iOS 8.2 SDK, which is available for download from Apple's developer site beginning today.


Google Releases First Android Auto APIs

Nov 18, 2014, 1:41 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today made available the first APIs for developers to use in creating Android Auto apps. Initially, developers can target two behaviors with their apps: audio and messaging. Developers will be able to extend the functionality of their music, podcasting, or news apps so the audio can be played back through the car's speakers. Similarly, messaging apps that receive incoming notifications can read new messages aloud in the car, as well as send voice-dictated replies. Google says it is already working with developers of popular music and messaging apps to extend their functionality to Android Auto. In order to use Android Auto apps in a car, the car has to support Android Auto within the infotainment center. So far, only a handful of car manufacturers have said they'll bring Android Auto-compatible vehicles to market. Android Auto will let car owners more easily and safely access phone-based content through their car's dashboard.


FCC Says AWS-3 Bidding Reaches $12 Billion

Nov 18, 2014, 1:29 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel today said the government has received bids totaling $12 billion for AWS-3 spectrum licenses. The auction kicked off November 13 with a reserve price of $10.6 billion. Today's revelation means the government has already exceeded its minimum for the auction. At stake are more than 1,600 licenses around the country covering 65MHz of AWS-3 spectrum. The FCC didn't say how long it expects the bidding to continue. AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless are among 70 entities approved to participate in the auction.


Winn-Dixie Now Accepting Apple Pay

Nov 18, 2014, 11:01 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Bi-Lo Holdings, the parent company of Winn-Dixie, Harveys, and BI-LO grocery stores, today said Apple iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus owners can use Apple Pay at most of its locations across the southeast. Winn-Dixie, Harveys, and BI-LO stores are available in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee. Bi-Lo didn't specify exactly how many stores are involved. Apple Pay uses an NFC radio embedded in the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus that is connected to a credit card for making payments at contactless terminals. Apple Pay is accepted at about 220,000 locations around the U.S.


Microsoft Hands Off Nokia Phone App Store to Opera

Nov 18, 2014, 9:18 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Microsoft today announced that Opera Software will soon provide the default app store for older Nokia handsets. Beginning in the first quarter of 2015, the Opera Mobile Store will replace the Nokia Store on devices running the Series 40, Series 60, Symbian, Asha, and Nokia X operating systems. The Nokia Store itself will close once all handsets are transitioned to the Opera Mobile Store, which is expected to be complete by July 2015. According to Opera, it has over 300,000 applications for Nokia's legacy devices. Old apps are updated often, and Opera says its 40,000 developers constantly produce new apps, too. Microsoft purchased Nokia's handset business earlier this year. It has committed to selling entry-level feature phones, but would rather concentrate on managing one app store (the Windows Phone Store) instead of two.


Nokia Releases Android Launcher, Debuts Tablet

Nov 18, 2014, 8:54 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Nokia today announced wide availability of the Z Launcher for Android devices. Nokia first debuted the Z Launcher earlier this year, but as a limited alpha. It is now available in beta form directly from the Google Play Store. The Z Launcher is a learning launcher that adjusts what it shows the phone owner on the home screen throughout the day depending on their pattern of behavior. For example, in the morning Z Launcher will present apps such as email and the calendar, while in the evening it will present apps such as Facebook and Spotify. Nokia says Z Launcher improves its predictions over time. Further, Z Launcher includes a gesture search tool that lets users initiate searches from the home screen by tracing letters on the glass. Launchers are alternative home screen treatments for Android smartphones. In addition to the launcher, Nokia announced the N1 tablet, which includes a 7.9-inch screen and runs Android 5.0 Lollipop. Other specs include a 64-bit Intel Atom processor, 8- and 5-megapixel cameras, stereo speakers, dual-band WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0. The N1 tablet will cost $249, and is headed to China first. Nokia, which sold its handset division to Microsoft earlier this year, is not manufacturing the N1 itself. Rather, it is licensing the brand and the design to an unnamed manufacturer in order for it to be built.


Samsung to Trim Number of Smartphone Models by 30%

Nov 18, 2014, 8:24 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung said it will reduce the number of distinct smartphones it sells next year by 25% to 30% in a bid to reduce costs. Samsung didn't say exactly how many models it will eliminate from its lineup. The company is looking for ways to cut expenses and still remain competitive with makers of inexpensive handsets. Last month, Samsung said it "will increase the number of components shared across mid- to low-end models, so that we can further leverage economies of scale." The company reported a massive drop in profits during its most recent financial quarter thanks in part to slow sales of flagship models such as the Galaxy S5 and Note 4. Samsung has also lost a lot of ground in the entry-level segment in China.


Intel to Merge Mobile and PC Chip Businesses

Nov 18, 2014, 8:15 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Intel plans to combine its mobile chip business with its PC chip business so it can make its mobile chips more competitive. Intel has struggled against competitors Qualcomm and Samsung when it comes to supplying processors for smartphones and tablets. The company now believes combing its chip businesses will lead to more nimble operation. "The market continues to evolve rapidly, and we must change even faster to stay ahead," said CEO Brian Krzanich in an email to employees. The transition will take place during the first quarter of 2015. The new client-computing group will be lead by Kirk Skaugen, who will oversee sales of both application processors and wireless modems to smartphone and tablet makers. Intel processors are available in only a handful of smartphones sold in the U.S.


Google Begins Rollout of Play Services 6.5

Nov 17, 2014, 7:20 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today said it has begun to push Google Play Services 6.5 to all devices running Android 2.3 Gingerbread and higher. Play Services 6.5 adds several new tools for developers, and targets Google Maps, Google Drive, Google Wallet, and Google Fit. In Maps, the API now offers a map toolbar so app users can launch Google Maps to get turn-by-turn directions. Developers can also add mini maps to their apps when using Lite Mode. In Google Drive, developers can add both public and private custom file properties to improve searching. File syncing has been improved, too, as users can now schedule uploads based on network type, as well as cancel pending uploads. File syncing is also more power efficient. Google is adding a "Donate with Google" button to its Google Wallet API to make for easier donating within apps. The Google Fit API makes it easier for developers to add timed workouts, which in turn makes it easier to support pauses or multiple activity workout in a single session. Last, Google is making it possible for developers to use only a portion of the Android API library in order to help keep their apps leaner. Google will publish a new SDK once Play Services 6.5 has been installed on most Android devices.


Google Keep Updated with Shareable Tasks

Nov 17, 2014, 3:27 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today detailed a recent update to the Google Keep application, which is used for saving notes, web pages, and other snippets of information. The newest version of Keep makes to-do lists and other items shareable, which lets people work on them together. Google also made it easier to search through Keep for old items. Users can search by color, whether they're shared, have a reminder, are lists, or have an image or audio attachment. Google Keep is free to download from the Play Store. It is compatible with devices running Android 4.0 and up.


AT&T Offering 15GB for the Price of 10GB

Nov 17, 2014, 2:34 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Nov 17, 2014, 2:36 PM

AT&T today announced yet another promotional data offering. Beginning November 18, Mobile Share Value plan customers can get 15GB of data for the price of 10GB. The monthly data charge is $100, which doesn't include per-line access charges for smartphones, tablets, and other devices connected to the plan. AT&T charges $15 per month for smartphones and $10 per month for tablets on AT&T Next plans, or $40 per month for traditional contract customers. AT&T said the promotion will run for a limited time, but didn't say for exactly how long. The improved data offering is available to new and existing customers. Additionally, AT&T customers can get unlimited international messaging (text, picture and video) on all Mobile Share Value plans for no additional cost. AT&T is still offering the promotional Mobile Share Value plan with 30GB of data for $130 per month.


Apple Pushes iOS 8.1.1 to Boost iPhone 4s Performance

Nov 17, 2014, 1:39 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple today made available iOS 8.1.1, a minor update meant to help improve the performance of the iPhone 4s and iPad 2. The update also resolves some on-going bugs for newer Phones and iPads. It is free to install.


School Internet Plan Would Raise Phone Taxes 17.2%

Nov 17, 2014, 11:49 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

The FCC will propose to increase spending on school internet services, and the money will come from a surge in taxes on wired and wireless telephone bills. Under the FCC's proposal, which is not yet public, it will increase the annual cap on school internet spending from $2.4 billion to $3.9 billion. The $1.5 billon jump in spending will be covered by a tax-rate increase of 17.2%, according to FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai, who disagrees with the proposal. "I strongly oppose this 17.2% tax increase. Instead of imposing a greater burden on families struggling to make ends meet in this lackluster economy, the Commission should pursue fiscally responsible reforms. These reforms would cut the bureaucratic red tape and focus resources on the children and library patrons of poor and rural America, where the need is greatest." This tax increase will apply to all phones in the country. The FCC estimates most lines will see a jump of $2 per year, with households (assuming multiple lines) will see a jump of $6. The increase would apply to the Universal Service Fund portion of phone bills, which the government has been trying to overhaul for some time. The government would draw from the USF to improve fiber optics connecting schools to the internet, and the Wi-Fi in schools buildings themselves. "While the impact on consumers will be small, the impact on children, teachers, local communities and American competitiveness will be great," said the FCC in a statement. The CTIA Wireless Association generally opposes any new taxes levied against wireless phone bills. The FCC's proposal will be discussed openly at the agency's Dec. 11 meeting.


MHL Develops HDMI Cable Compatible with USB Type-C

Nov 17, 2014, 11:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

MHL today said it has developed an HDMI cable that is compatible with with the forthcoming Type-C USB port. Using what it calls MHL Alt Mode, a USB Type-C connector and cable can support the MHL 3 specification, which includes 4K video and multi-channel surround sound audio. The Type-C connector specifications were finalized earlier this year. Type-C will replace the Type-B connector (microUSB) found in most modern mobile devices. One of the key aspects of the Type-C connector is that it is reversible and can be inserted either way (much like Apple's Lightning connector). The Type-C connector supports the USB 3.1 spec for delivering quick data transfer and power. The new MHL Alt Mode cable will make it easy for smartphones and tablets of the future to push content though a wired connection to devices such as HDTVs.


Wireless Carriers Set Indoor 911 Location Framework

Nov 17, 2014, 9:14 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

The CTIA Wireless Association recently announced that its largest members have agreed to a preliminary timeframe for improving the accuracy of 911 calls made from indoors. In February, the FCC demanded that wireless network operators increase 911 location data accuracy to cover larger buildings. It wants network operators to provide X, Y, and Z coordinates to help place callers as accurately as a specific room inside a building. AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless have decided how they will approach the FCC's demands, and when they plan to meet select milestones. For example, they will verify technologies and vendor performance for indoor and outdoor technologies in a test bed in order to make sure gear sold by different companies all provide the same results. They will speed up the ability to provide dispatchable locations (street address plus floor, suite, or apartment) using indoor technologies, as well as create a database of each handset's performance in this regard. They will also improve all location technologies and tune them for better indoor and outdoor location fixes. The CTIA members said they will provide dispatchable locations for 40% of all wireless 911 calls within two years and 50% within three years. They will also provide dispatchable locations for 75% of all VoLTE calls within five years and 80% within six years. The FCC hasn't responded publicly to the CTIA's suggested framework.


Sony Details Latest Exmor RS Camera Sensor for Phones

Nov 17, 2014, 8:55 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Nov 17, 2014, 10:43 AM

Sony today announced the Exmor RS IMX230, a CMOS camera censor for high-end smartphones. The sensor captures 21 megapixels at f/2.4 and uses a stacked design that Sony claims keeps the footprint small and adds functionality. The IMX230 has an onboard image plane phase detection AF signal processing function that helps the sensor track and focus on moving objects much faster. It can track subjects in 192 different auto-focus points simultaneously. The sensor is also capable of capturing HDR video at resolutions up to 4K. Sony's current sensors can capture HDR video, but only at 1080p HD. The IMX230 CMOS image sensor will ship in April 2015. Sony said it will offer a 16-megapixel sensor with the same features by the end of 2015.


Verizon Makes It Pricer to Break Contracts

Nov 14, 2014, 2:03 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Nov 14, 2014, 2:05 PM

Verizon Wireless has changed its terms of service and made it more expensive for customers to leave the carrier before the end of their contract. Under the old terms of service, all customers who purchased a smartphone agreed to an ETF of $350. The ETF was prorated and decreased by $10 each month beginning after the first month of the contract. Customers who chose to break their contract after six months, for example, would be required to pay an ETF of $290 ($350 - $60). Effective today, Verizon is delaying the monthly ETF drop until after customers have been with Verizon a minimum of eight months. Under the new terms, customers who choose to leave after six months, for example, will still pay $350, not the $290 they would have under the old terms. Verizon says ETFs will now decline by $10 per month in months 8-18; $20 per month in months 19–23; and $60 in the last month of each customer contract. Contracts signed before today will be governed by the old ETF terms.


VSCO Cam Adds Support for HTC's Camera APIs

Nov 13, 2014, 5:13 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Nov 13, 2014, 10:24 PM

VSCO Cam, a popular third-party camera application for Android and iOS devices, updated both of its mobile apps today. The camera gains a number of new features through the update, such as the ability to sync images across devices, side-by-side filter comparisons, and a web uploader tool. The app also gains a new user interface and claims to take better pictures. The Android version of VSCO Cam is notable in that it makes use of APIs from HTC so it can support separate focus and exposure points. VSCO Cam is available in the Google Play Store and the iTunes App Store.


Google to Deactivate Wallet API for Digital Goods

Nov 13, 2014, 4:12 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today alerted developers that it will cease to offer the Google Wallet for Digital Goods API in March 2015. The API has for several years let online goods purveyors accept Google Wallet for payment. Google originally provided the API to make it easier for people to buy and sell digital goods online. Google said the online payments landscape has changed enough since the API's release that it no feels the need to offer it. Google is asking developers to strip their apps of Google Wallet and find alternate sources of payment processing. Users of Google Wallet will be able to make payments via Wallet until March 2. Developers have until then to find other providers and cease calling on the API. The functionality of Google Wallet should not change for most people.


Opening Round of AWS-3 Auction Nets $1.77B in Bids

Nov 13, 2014, 2:37 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Wireless and other companies began bidding on AWS-3 spectrum licenses today, which are being auctioned off by the FCC. The initial round of bidding totaled about $1.77 billion for 1,012 of the 1,614 available licenses. The FCC's reserve price for the entire auction is $10.56 billion. Major network operators such as AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless are participating, as are other entities such as Dish Networks. Seventy total groups were approved to participate in the auction. Spectrum blocks in New York City and Los Angeles received the most attention today, with one J Block license in NYC scoring a high bid of $88 million. Bidding is expected to continue for several weeks at least. The AWS-3 spectrum includes 65MHz in the 1695-1710MHz, 1755-1780MHz, and 2155-2180MHz bands.


BlackBerry Classic Now Available for Preorder

Nov 13, 2014, 2:28 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

BlackBerry today made the BlackBerry Classic handset available for preorder in the U.S. The Classic runs BlackBerry 10 and is a traditional bar-style phone with a square touch screen and physical QWERTY keyboard below it. It brings back the classic BlackBerry buttons, which means send/end buttons, a back button, menu button, and optical trackpad. The device supports both BB10 and Android apps. BlackBerry didn't say how much the phone will cost, nor when it will ship. BlackBerry also didn't say which carriers will support the Classic.


MetroPCS Adds LG F60 to Prepaid Lineup

Nov 13, 2014, 12:57 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

MetroPCS recently began selling the LG F60 handset through its web site. The F60 was announced last month. It features a 4.5-inch WVGA display and 1.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon processor with 1GB of RAM. The device has a 5-megapixel main camera with Gesture Shot and Touch & Shot, and a 1.3-megapixel user-facing camera. The device includes Bluetooth 4.0, Wi-Fi, GPS, and LTE, and relies on a 2,100mAh battery for power. The F60 runs Android 4.4.2 KitKat and includes LG's Knock Code. MetroPCS is selling it for $100 after a mail-in rebate. The full retail price is $160.


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