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printed June 26, 2017
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Created by Google, Android is a smartphone OS and platform that is open-source and open for any manufacturer to use to make a smartphone. Most Android phones use a version that is mostly provided by Google and requires Google services. Android phones can run Android apps, available from the Google Play Store, or, optionally, from other sources.

by:  Google


Virgin Mobile to Phase Android Out Slowly

Wednesday, 7:59 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Virgin Mobile today announced plans to become an iPhone-only carrier, but the carrier's Android-based handsets won't vanish overnight. Virgin's reseller partners, including Best Buy, Target, and Walmart, will continue to carry and sell Virgin Mobile's lineup of Android handsets along with the prepaid carrier's Data Love service plans, according to Justin Scott, Virgin Mobile's Director of Communications. These retail partners will not sell the iPhone for the Inner Circle yet, though Virgin anticipates they will later this year. Virgin says its existing customers won't have to worry about any immediate changes. All Virgin subscribers are welcome to keep their current phone and service plan. If they wish, customers can upgrade to the Inner Circle plan once it becomes available, but Virgin won't force them to right away. Virgin will, however, begin to phase out all Android handsets over time. "While we love our partners in the Android ecosystem and care deeply about our Android customers, the Inner Circle is a path to a different future," explained Scott. "Specifically, it's an opportunity to reposition the brand and align it with the other Virgin companies in the United States. We certainly didn't make this decision lightly and based some of it on consumer data. We chose to become the first iPhone-only based mobile carrier in the United States and launch a game-changing offer because it was time for Virgin Mobile to make a bold move." Scott did not provide any sort of timeline for phasing out the company's Android phones.


Snapchat Introduces Simple Location Sharing

Wednesday, 11:20 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Snapchat today updated its mobile app and made it possible for users to share their location with one another. The tool appears to have just two modes, on and off. When users choose to share their location, all their friends will see where they are on a map. Alternately, users can remain in "Ghost Mode" to keep their location private. Snapchat says users' Actionmojis will show up on the map only when they open Snapchat. The map supports zooming, so you can see where all your contacts are as they move about cities or regions. Snapchat sees the feature as a way for people to find one another when out and about and share experiences. Snap Map is being added to the Android and iOS mobile Snapchat apps over the days ahead.


Unicode 10 Adds 56 New Emoji

Wednesday, 7:43 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

The Unicode Consortium this week announced Unicode 10, which includes 56 new emoji characters and four new scripts. Some of the new emoji include facial expressions (raised eyebrow, hand-over-mouth), more men and women (bearded man, woman in head garb), hand symbols, food (dumpling, fortune cookie), clothing items, animals (dinosaurs, bugs), vehicles (flying saucer, sled), and a curling stone. The Consortium says the new scripts cover some of the world's lesser-used languages, including Gondi, Soyombo, Syriac, and Gujarati. The Unicode Consortium often offers a preview of its releases before they are made final, but this week it announced and released the final build of Unicode 10. It will be up to operating systems, platforms, and applications to adopt the new emoji. Some of the new faces are already built into Android 8 O.


ZTE's Axon 7 Mini Wins Android 7.1.1

Wednesday, 7:17 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

ZTE today began pushing Android 7.1.1 to its Axon 7 Mini smartphone. Like the same update that reached the larger Axon 7 earlier this year, today's update for the Axon 7 Mini adds support for T-Mobile WiFi Calling; a wider selection of gender-balanced emoji and GIFs; performance improvements to Google's Daydream VR; and the latest security patches. ZTE says it also fixed bugs and tweaked behaviors throughout the operating system. Android 7.1.1 Nougat heralds split-screen multitasking and better power management. People who own the Axon 7 Mini can download the update manually via the system settings tools on their phone or wait for it to arrive over the air.


Instagram Powers Up Live Replays

Jun 20, 2017, 1:58 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Instagram today made it possible for people to share their live broadcasts through the Stories tool for up to 24 hours. Once users conclude a live broadcast, they can tap a new "share" button to add a replay of the the live broadcast to their Stories. The tool also makes it easy to discard live videos whenever the broadcaster might wish. According to Instagram, the shared replays will be visible to followers through a new button that appears on the profile photo on the Stories bar. People need only tap the button to watch the associated live broadcast, which supports scanning forward and backward 15 seconds at a time. The new replay feature is included in the latest version of the Instagram mobile app for Android and iOS.


Google to Drop Support for Android Market in Eclair and Older

Jun 20, 2017, 1:32 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today said it will no longer support the Android Market application on devices running Android 2.1 Eclair and older after June 30. Once the change takes place, devices running those operating systems will no longer have access to the Android Market, which was the original app store for Android devices. Google says this will impact only a very small number of users, as the vast majority of Android devices are running much newer builds of the operating system. Google will continue to support the Google Play Store app on devices running Android 2.2 for "as long as feasible." Practically speaking, Android 2.3 Gingerbread is the base operating system to offer full Play Store support via Google Play Services. The bulk of Android users needn't worry about Google's plan to cease supporting Android Market on Android 2.1 Eclair.


OnePlus Reveals the OnePlus 5 with Dual Cameras

Jun 20, 2017, 11:19 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Jun 20, 2017, 11:44 AM

OnePlus today revealed its 2017 flagship handset, the OnePlus 5. The company has long offered high-end Android phones at affordable prices. The OnePlus 5 is the company's most advanced smartphone yet and it still manages to be affordable. The OnePlus 5 boasts a metal unibody design with a slim and rounded profile. The phone carries over the popular alert slider from earlier OnePlus phones and measures 7.25mm thick. Other hardware features include USB-C, a front-mounted fingerprint reader, 3.5mm headphone jack, and dual-camera array on the back. The two Sony camera sensors are 20- and 16-megapixels with apertures of f/2.6 and f/1.7, respectively. The 20MP sensor offers telephoto zooming while the 16MP sensor is better at low-light capture. OnePlus says it uses both lenses and sensors to help sharpen focus for all photos. The phone's optic AMOLED display measures 5.5 inches across the diagonal with full HD resolution. OnePlus picked Qualcomm's Snapdragon 835 processor and the handset comes in two memory configurations: 6 GB of RAM with 64 GB of storage, and 8 GB of RAM with 128 GB of storage. Other specs include a 3,300mAh battery with Dash Charge, Bluetooth 5.0, NFC, GPS, WiFi, and Cat 12 LTE with 3x carrier aggregation and support for 34 worldwide LTE bands. The phone relies on Android 7 Nougat as a base with OnePlus' user interface, which it calls OxygenOS, on top. Some of the features include App Priority, for personal app selection, and reduced latency for quicker input. It also packs Ambient Mode, which relies in sensors to adjust the backlight for eye comfort. The OnePlus 5 comes in black or gray and will cost $479/$539 when it goes on sale June 27. OnePlus says preorders open today.


T-Mobile Now Selling the Coolpad Defiant for $100

Jun 16, 2017, 8:33 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today added the Coolpad Defiant to its roster of inexpensive Android handsets. The phone features a 5-inch screen with 854 by 480 pixels and it is powered by a 1.4 GHz quad-core processor with 8 GB of storage. The Defiant also includes an 5-megapixel main camera, 2-megapixel front camera, 2,450mAh battery, and Bluetooth 4.2, WiFi, GPS, and LTE 4G. The Defiant runs Android 7 Nougat. T-Mobile says the phone is available online for $100 at full retail price or $4 per month for 24 months on an installment plan. MetroPCS plans to sell the Coolpad Defiant later this summer.


Twitter Overhauls Its Mobile Apps and Web Sites

Jun 15, 2017, 8:39 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Twitter today revealed a dramatic change to the look and feel of its Android and iOS mobile applications, and its mobile and desktop browser experiences. To start, Twitter has put profile, account, and privacy settings in a single place within the navigation menu to make them easier to find. Twitter says fewer tabs appear at the bottom of the iOS app to reduce clutter and improve browsing. Another iOS-only feature is how Twitter handles web links, which now open in the Safari viewer. This lets iOS users more easily access web accounts they may already be signed into. All versions of Twitter will see refined typography that features bolder headlines. The app adds rounded profile photos to help clarify which users are speaking, and tweaks function buttons such as the reply icon, which now appears as a speech bubble. Last, Twitter says tweets will update in real-time, so users can see replies, retweets, and like counts occur live. Twitter said the new versions of its Android and iOS mobile apps will arrive over the coming days and weeks. The web site changes are available right away.


Google Doing More to Promote the Best Apps

Jun 13, 2017, 1:01 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today announced the launch of Android Excellence, a new section in the Google Play Store that highlights the best of the best in terms of apps and games. Google says, "The new collections will showcase apps and games that deliver incredible user experiences on Android, use many of our best practices, and have great design, technical performance, localization, and device optimization." Some of the first apps and games highlighted in the section include City Mapper, Evernote, Golf Clash, Hotel Tonight, Kill Shot Bravo, Pictionary, Pocket, Skyscanner, and Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes. The collections will be refreshed on a quarterly basis and will be located in the Editor's Choice section of the Play Store.


Instagram Turns On Archiving Feature

Jun 13, 2017, 12:52 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Instagram today made it possible for all users to archive old posts for safekeeping. The idea behind the archiving tool is to allow people to customize their feed and perhaps hide photos they no longer wish to share publicly. "Your profile is a representation of who you are and evolves with you over time. With Archive, you now have more flexibility to shape your profile while still preserving moments that matter," explained the company in a blog post. Users will still be able to delete posts entirely, but can now also save photos to an archived folder that only the owner can see. Archived posts are saved complete with likes and comments. Further, archived photos can be made public again if the owner so chooses. The new function should reach all Android and iOS users over the next few days.


BlackBerry Says CDMA Version of KEYone Now At Best Buy

Jun 13, 2017, 8:26 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

BlackBerry Mobile today said the Verizon-ready, CDMA model of its KEYone smartphone is available at Best Buy stores. The phone is sold unlocked with support for Verizon's 3G and 4G networks. Earlier versions of the KEYone supported only GSM-based 3G service. The KEYone runs Google's Android operating system with BlackBerry Mobile's security and communications software on board. The phone's defining feature is the physical QWERTY keyboard. It costs $549.


Google's GBoard App for Android Lets You Draw Emoji

Jun 12, 2017, 11:07 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today updated its GBoard keyboard application for Android handsets and made it possible for people to draw emoji. In the emoji search tool, GBoard can recognize finger-scrawled pictures and then automatically insert the correct emoji into your text. The keyboard app also introduces phrase suggestions to help speed up texting time. Once users have typed two or more words, the phrase suggestion tool can add several more to complete well-known phrases, such as "looking forward to it." This is available only in English for now, though more languages are on the way. GBoard also picks up expanded search tools. Now, searches performed in GBoard show multiple results cards that can open directly in other apps, such as Google Maps. Last, the app picks up a handful of new languages, pushing to total supported to more than 200. Some of the new ones include: Azerbaijani (Iran), Dhivehi, French (Belgium), Hawaiian, Maori and Samoan. GBoard is free to download from the Play Store.


Motorola Debuts Budget-Friendly Moto E4 and E4 Plus

Jun 12, 2017, 8:24 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Jun 12, 2017, 8:34 AM

Motorola today announced the Moto E4 and Moto E4 Plus, two low-cost Android smartphones that sit one step up from the entry-level Moto C handsets. Both the E4 and E4 Plus run Android 7.1 Nougat and include Snapdragon 427 quad-core processors with 2 GB of RAM, and 16 GB of storage. Other shared features include wide support for 3G and 4G networks, Bluetooth 4.1, GPS, microUSB, 3.5mm headphone jacks, and front-mounted fingerprint readers.

  • Moto E4: The Moto E4 features a metal design, 5-inch 720p HD screen, and 2,800mAh battery. It also boasts an 8-megapixel main camera with an f/2.2 aperture, LED flash, and autofocus, and a 5-megapixel front camera with selfie flash.
  • Moto E4 Plus: The Moto E4 Plus (pictured) relies on a metal design, too, but improves the screen size to 5.5 inches (still 720p HD) and the battery to a massive 5,000mAh. The phone ships with a 10W charger for rapid power-ups. The E4 Plus also packs a 13-megapixel main camera with f/2.0 aperture, LED flash, and autofocus, and a 5-megapixel front camera with selfie flash.
Motorola says the E4 and E4 Plus will be available in a gray or gold starting later this month. The Moto E4 will cost $130 and the E4 Plus will cost $180.


Sprint to Sell Rubin's Essential Phone As an Exclusive

Jun 12, 2017, 7:14 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Essential Products has found a U.S. carrier to distribute its Essential PH-1 handset, and that carrier is Sprint. Essential still plans to offer the unlocked phone directly to consumers online, but the handset will also enjoy retail presence in Sprint stores, according to USAToday. "We like to bet with where we think the market is going as opposed to where the market was,” said Essential President Niccolo de Masi to USA Today. "I feel like we are a new brand and a new consumer electronics company and we are partnering with the network of the future." This isn't the only reason. Sprint is majority owned by SoftBank, and Andy Rubin, Essential's CEO, has a long history with Masayoshi Son, SoftBank's CEO. As recently as early this year, SoftBank was expected to make a $100 million investment in Essential, though it backed out for unknown reasons. "It's certainly conscious for us to work with partners that can make an investment in supporting our brand ambitions," continued to de Masi, "and it's an approach that obviously Andy Rubin has been very successful with in the past as well as a lot of our management team." The PH-1 has a unique, magnet-based system for accepting modular attachments, such as a 360-degree camera, on the back panel. It includes a 5.7-inch quad HD screen with curved corners, Snapdragon 835 processor, and dual rear cameras. It will run a near-stock version of Android 7 Nougat and ship completely devoid of brand names or logos. The PH-1 is expected to go on sale later this summer for $699.


Google Releases reCAPTCHA API to Improve Android Security

Jun 9, 2017, 1:29 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today announced a new tool developers can use to authenticate people securely while simultaneously improving the experience for mobile phone users. The company made available the new reCAPTCHA Android API as a part of Google Play Services. Google says this lets app developers and web sites better tell humans and bots apart from one another, particularly with respect to authentication. The API runs Google's new Invisible reCAPTCHA tech, which runs risk analysis behind the scenes to weed out bots and block spam and other abuses. The API is included with Google SafetyNet so mobile developers can manage both the device and user attestations from the same API. This eliminates risks, according to Google, and is more efficient across the board. For end users, the result will be a less intrusive experience when authenticating within apps and on the mobile web.


HTC's U11 Officially Shipping As of Today

Jun 9, 2017, 9:25 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

HTC said its U11 flagship smartphone is now shipping to those who may have preordered the handset. The unlocked model is available from Amazon.com and HTC.com and Sprint stores are stocking the U11 starting today. The phone has what HTC calls a "liquid surface" glass panel, squeezable Edge Sense actions, and customizable USonic headphones with active noise cancellation. The phone has a 5.5-inch quad HD display, Snapdragon 835 processor, 12-megapixel main camera, and Android 7.1 Nougat. It costs $649.


Sprint to Sell ZTE Max XL

Jun 9, 2017, 8:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint today added the ZTE Max XL to is lineup of big-screened Android handsets. The Max XL, which is already available from Sprint-owned Boost Mobile, features a 6-inch full HD display and 3,990mAh battery. The screen is protected by Gorilla Glass. The Max XL supports HPUE for better LTE speeds at the network edge. HPUE is a network upgrade Sprint is deploying this year. The Max XL's main camera has a 13-megapixel sensor, while the front camera has a 5-megapixel sensor. The device runs Android 7.1.1 Nougat and includes a rear-mounted fingerprint reader. Other specs include an octa-core 1.4 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor with 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB of storage, support for memory cards, WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, and FM radio. Sprint is selling the ZTE Max XL for $192.


Google Finalizes Android O Developer Tools, Releases 3rd Beta

Jun 8, 2017, 12:58 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today released all the tools developers need to create applications and update apps for Android O. The company made the final Android O APIs available through an updated SDK. Developers can grab these tools through Android Studio 3.0. To coincide with the finalized APIs and SDK, Google updated the developer preview of Android O. The Android O Developer Preview 3 can be installed on the Nexus 6p and 5x, Pixel, Pixel XL, and Pixel C, and the Nexus Player. Google says the updated beta should be more stable for use as a developer platform, though it may not be ready for daily use. Some of the core features of Android O include picture-in-picture, notification dots, widget picker, new emoji, and revamped settings tools. The final version is expected to arrive later this summer. Google still has not revealed what dessert the "O" will be.


OnePlus 3 and 3T Earn Android 7.1.1 Update

Jun 8, 2017, 7:53 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

OnePlus said owners of the OnePlus 3 and OnePlus 3T handsets should expect to receive OxygenOS 4.1.5 over the days ahead. OxygenOS 4.1.5 primarily updates both handsets to Android 7.1.1 Nougat, but it also delivers a range of bug fixes and performance improvements. For example, it installs the May Android security patch, updates network settings for select carriers, fixes an Android Auto connection issue, and resolves a storage problem. OnePlus said it made optimizations to battery performance, as well as to WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, the camera, and screenshot tool. OxygenOS 4.1.5 can be manually triggered via the settings menu, but will eventually reach the OnePlus 3 and 3T through an over-the-air update.


Chrome 59 for Android Updates the JavaScript Engine

Jun 8, 2017, 7:31 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google has made Chrome 59 available to Android devices via the Play Store. The updated browser mostly introduces bug fixes and performance improvements. Specifically, Google says Android devices should see faster page load times while using less memory thanks to the updated JavaScript engine. Chrome 59 for Android also adds support for animated PNGs and enhanced image capture through a new API. The revised mobile browser is free to download from the Google Play Store.


Sprint Gifting Customers with 6-Month Tidal Membership

Jun 8, 2017, 7:23 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint today said it is giving new and existing customers free access to the Tidal music streaming service for six months. The service is known for providing exclusive access to music from select artists. Tidal Premium normally costs $10 per month. After the six-month promotion expires, Sprint customers will need to pay the monthly fee. The promotion begins June 9 and is available to Android and iOS devices. Sprint is still offering switchers up to $650 in restitution to cover fees incurred by porting over. Moreover, Sprint is still offering four lines of unlimited talk, text, and data for $90 per month (with autopay), though the cost of that plan will jump to $130 after June 2018. Sprint allows unlimited customers to stream video up to 1080p HD, stream music up to 1.5Mbps, and stream games at up to 8Mbps. Sprint will throttle users when the network is congested.


Google Details Android Security Patches for June

Jun 5, 2017, 5:25 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today provided details about its June 2017 security patches for Android devices. The patches, dated June 1 and June 5, plug a significant number of security holes that threaten all Android devices. Google found dozens and dozens of vulnerabilities, of which it classified several as critical, or able to remotely execute code. Many of the problems are related to specific chipsets and the associated software drivers that control them, such as components from MediaTek and Qualcomm. Google is offering the patches directly to Nexus- and Pixel-branded devices first. Google has already posted factory images for download directly from its web site. Google's handsets will receive both patches in a single download. Google said that, as far as it is aware, none of these security holes have been exploited. Google has already given the patches to its OEM partners. Individual phone makers are responsible for updating their own hardware with the patches.


Facebook Wants Albums to Become Destinations

Jun 1, 2017, 2:16 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Facebook is rolling out a change to its Albums tool in order to make them more social. Moving forward, Albums can store not only photos, but also videos, news stories, status updates, location check-ins, and more. Facebook hopes people will use the tool to share a wider range of content that might all focus on a specific event or location. For example, users might create an album for a concert and stuff it with images and videos from the show, as well as status posts, and venue check-ins to provide a more well-rounded look at the overall experience. Moreover, people will be able to subscribe to one another's Albums and receive notifications when the Albums are updated with fresh content. Last, users can open up their albums to multiple contributors, making the idea of a concert album, shared with other friends who attend, more appealing. The new Facebook Albums feature is rolling out to Android devices and the web today, with iOS to follow later.

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Microsoft Overhauls Skype, Adds Highlight Reels

Jun 1, 2017, 1:45 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Microsoft has totally re-envisioned its Skype messaging application and, in the process, made it more like Snapchat and Facebook Messenger. To start, Skype offers more personalization. For example, users can tweak colors and more easily add animated emoji and reaction icons to conversations. The app now supports what Microsoft calls a Highlight Reel, which is a Snapchat Stories-like compilation of videos and photos. Microsoft says people can create Highlights by accessing the in-app camera, or by pulling in content from their phone's photo gallery. People can then react to Highlights or use them as a starting point for a new conversation thread. Bots are headed to Skype, too, via the new Find tab that's built into the app. Users can take advantage of the bot-enabled search tool to find concert tickets, see what's trending across social networks, and more. Microsoft expects third-party developers (businesses and brands) to create their own add-ins and bots for Skype over time. Skype still supports one-on-one and group conversations, video calls, audio calls, and other legacy features. Microsoft says the new Skype will reach Android devices over the next few weeks with the iPhone to follow in a month or so, and Mac and Windows desktops to follow later this year.


Motorola Moto Z2 Play Is Thinner, Lighter Than the Original

Jun 1, 2017, 8:52 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Jun 1, 2017, 8:55 AM

Motorola today announced the Moto Z2 Play, a second take on the company's popular mid-range flagship. Like the original, the Z2 Play has a 5.5-inch full HD display and supports Moto Mods. At 5.9mm thick, the phone is a full millimeter thinner than its predecessor. In order to achieve this, Motorola cut the battery capacity from 3,510mAh to 3,000mAh. Despite the significant drop in capacity, Motorola claims total battery life is unaffected. Thanks to TurboPower, just 15 minutes of charging stuffs 8 hours of life into the battery. Another significant change is found in the fingerprint sensor, which now doubles as a trackpad for on-screen navigation. In terms of specs, the Moto Z2 Play is powered by an octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 626 processor with an Adreno 506 GPU, 3 GB of RAM, and 32 GB of storage. The 12-megapixel camera now relies on phase-detect and laser-assisted autofocus with dual focus pixels and an f/1.7 lens for better low-light performance. The front camera has a wide-angle 5-megapixel sensor with front-facing flash and f/2.2 lens. The phone relies on USB-C but still packs a 3.5mm headphone jack. It runs Android 7.1.1 Nougat with Moto Display and Moto Voice. Verizon Wireless will be the only carrier to sell the Moto Z2 Play in gray or gold later this summer. The phone will cost $499. Motorola will offer the Moto Z2 Play directly to consumers through its Moto Maker web site with the option to improve RAM to 4 GB and storage to 64 GB. Motorola will sell the Moto Z2 Play in gray, gold, blue, and black.


OnePlus Says OnePlus 3 and 3T to Get Android O

Jun 1, 2017, 7:30 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Peter Lau, the CEO of OnePlus, said via his Twitter account that the company's top two phones will receive Android O. "A lot of you have been asking, so I'm proud to say Android O will come to OnePlus 3 and 3T," noted Lau. The OnePlus 3 and OnePlus 3T are the firm's flagship handsets from last year. OnePlus was fairly aggressive at updating the phones from Android 6 Marshmallow to Android 7 Nougat once Google released the newer operating system. Google itself has not indicated when Android O will be released in final form other than to say "this summer." Owners of the OnePlus 3 and 3T should not expect to see the new operating system before late August or early September. OnePlus recently discontinued the 3T as it makes way for its 2017 flagship, the OnePlus 5.


Huawei Makes the Unlocked Honor 6X Available At Target Stores

May 31, 2017, 11:18 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Huawei's Honor brand today expanded the availability of the unlocked Honor 6X to some 460 Target retail stores across the country. Now, U.S. consumers can pick up the unlocked Android handset for $250 at their local store. The 6X has been available online since early this year. The phone was recently updated to Android 7 Nougat and Huawei's EMUI 5.0 user interface skin. The phone includes a 5.5-inch full HD screen, fingerprint reader, Kirin 655 processor, 12-megapixel main camera, 8-megapixel selfie camera, and 3,340mAh battery. It supports U.S. LTE bands 2, 4, 5, 12, 20, and 38, which makes it compatible with AT&T/Cricket, T-Mobile/MetroPCS, and Consumer Cellular. Some advanced carrier-based features may not be available.


Essential Phone to Ship In About 30 Days with Stock Android

May 31, 2017, 7:42 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

The Essential Products PH-1 smartphone will be shipped to those who reserve it online in about 30 days, according to Andy Rubin, Essential Products' CEO. Speaking at the Code Conference, Rubin said the brand new phone will reach consumers as soon as the end of June, though he didn't commit to a specific date. The PH-1 has a unique, magnet-based system for accepting modular attachments, such as a 360-degree camera, on the back panel. The phone includes a 5.7-inch quad HD screen with curved corners, Snapdragon 835 processor, and dual rear cameras. Rubin also noted the device will run a near-stock version of Android 7 Nougat when it ships. Rubin feels strongly about not putting extraneous and unwanted applications on users' phones, so it will be free of bloatware. Though Essential Products is selling the phone unlocked via the web, Rubin indicated the company is working with U.S. carriers and it hopes to sell the phone in carrier stores "soon." The unlocked handset will be able to a connect to U.S. carriers' networks, though advanced carrier-specific functions (such as HD Voice) may not be available. The PH-1 costs $699 and can be reserved online.


Sony's High-End Xperia XZ Premium Reaches the US June 19

May 31, 2017, 7:25 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sony today said it will make its flagship Xperia XZ Premium smartphone available unlocked to U.S. buyers in June. Pre-orders kick off June 12 and the device is expected to ship starting June 19. The Xperia XZ Premium costs $800. It will be sold online by Amazon, BestBuy and Fry's. The XZ Premium has a 5.5-inch 4K HDR display with Sony's TriLuminos and X-Reality technologies to improve video performance. Other specs include a Snapdragon 835 processor with Adreno GPU, 4 GB of RAM and 64 GB of storage. It boasts a 19-megapixel main camera with predictive focus, a 13-megapixel selfie camera, and a 3,230mAh battery with rapid charging. It's waterproof and ships with Android 7.1 Nougat. Sony also today said its mid-range Xperia XA1 Ultra handset, with a 6-inch screen, will be available for preorder June 12 with a June 21 ship date. Last, the Xperia Touch display, which is a short-throw projector, goes on sale June 16 for $1700.


BlackBerry KEYone Goes On Sale Today for $549

May 31, 2017, 7:11 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

TCL today announced that the BlackBerry KEYone, a smartphone it developed with BlackBerry Mobile, is now available for purchase online. The handset includes a 4.5-inch touch display, full QWERTY keyboard, Snapdragon 625 processor, 12-megpixel camera, LTE, and Android 7.1 Nougat with BlackBerry Hub and BlackBerry Messenger. Both the unlocked GSM and CDMA variants of the phone are available online from BestBuy and Amazon. TCL says a limited number of KEYone's will be at select Best Buy retail stores around the country. Sprint plans to sell its own branded variant of the BlackBerry KEYone later this summer.


Huawei's Watch 2 Classic Goes On Sale Today

May 30, 2017, 11:17 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Huawei today announced the general availability of the Watch 2 Classic. This Android 2.0 wearable is compatible with Android and iOS smartphones. The Watch 2 Classic is a more conservative wearable when compared to Huawei's Watch 2 thanks to its stainless steel casing, ceramic bezel, titanium finish, and leather band. It features a 1.8-inch screen, 420mAh battery with rapid charging, and an IP68 rating for protection against water and dust. Huawei says the battery provides up to two days under normal use, 10 hours under dedicated training with GPS, and up to 21 days when in watch-only mode with pedometer. Connectivity options are limited to Bluetooth, GPS, and WiFi. Huawei is selling the Watch 2 Classic in some 600 Best Buy stores, as well as online from Best Buy, Amazon, Newegg, B&H, Jet, and Kohl's. The Huawei Watch 2 Classic costs $370. The sportier Huawei Watch 2 has been on sale since April.


Andy Rubin's Essential PH-1 Boasts Titanium Frame, Magnetic Mods

May 30, 2017, 7:32 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Essential Products, the startup being run by Andy Rubin, who helped create the Android operating system, announced its first smartphone today, the PH-1. The PH-1 is a high-end handset crafted from a titanium shell that Rubin claims is more robust than aluminum and more resistant to damage when dropped. The phone has a ceramic back plate and a Gorilla Glass front. Similar to the LG G6 and Samsung Galaxy S8, the PH-1 adopts a near two-one aspect ratio for the display, which measures 5.71 inches across the diagonal and includes 2,560 by 1,312 pixels. The 19:10 shape fills nearly the entire front face of the phone, features rounded corners, and includes a unique cutout for the user-facing camera. Twin rear-mounted magnets positioned on the rear panel of the phone accommodate removable modular accessories, including a 360-degree camera. The system is similar to that of the Moto Z series handsets from Motorola, though the mods don't cover the entire rear of the PH-1. The magnetic pins provide power to the accessories, which connect to the handset via WiGig for transferring data back and forth. A pair of f/1.85 13-megapxiel cameras adorn the rear of the phone, one shooting full color and the other shooting monochrome. The cameras rely on a hybrid phase detect and infrared laser-assistant auto focus system. The front camera shoots 8-megapixel images at f/2.2 and can capture 4k video. Other specs include a 64-bit Snapdragon 835 processor with Adreno 570 GPU, 4 GB of RAM, and 128 GB of storage. It is sold unlocked and includes support for U.S. carriers (including GSM, CDMA, and LTE), as well as Bluetooth 5.0, GPS, NFC, and WiFi. The PH-1 has a built-in 3,040mAh battery that charges rapidly, USB-C, four microphones for noise cancellation, and a rear-mounted fingerprint sensor. Essential is taking reservations for the PH-1 starting today. The phone costs $699. For a limited time, people who preorder can snag the phone and magnetic 360-degree camera for $749 (savings of $150). The phone comes in black, gray, white, and green, and runs Android. Essential didn't say when the phone might ship.

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T-Mobile Last Major US Carrier to Offer Kyocera DuraForce Pro

May 26, 2017, 8:13 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today added the Kyocera DuraForce Pro to its roster of Android handsets. The phone has been available to AT&T and Sprint customers since last year, and to Verizon customers since January. The DuraForce Pro includes a 5-inch full HD screen, 13-megapixel main camera, 5-megapixel wide-angle secondary camera, and a 5-megapixel front-facing camera. The phone offers a fingerprint reader, NFC, Snapdragon 617 processor, 3,240mAh battery, memory card slot, dual front speakers, and push-to-talk. The device is fully ruggedized, washable, and can sit in 6 feet of water for up to 30 minutes. T-Mobile says its variant of the phone has new camera features, including an Action Overlay mode. This lets people record video with a "heads-up display" that includes speed, distance, altitude, elapsed time, and other data. The DuraForce Pro runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow. It costs $425.


Instagram's Direct Messages Now Support Landscape Video

May 25, 2017, 11:13 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Instagram today updated its private messaging tool, making it easier to share certain types of videos. Moving forward, people sending permanent pictures or movies to friends won't have to crop them before sending. Instagram's Direct messaging function supports landscape video, so video will appear in its native format. Instagram also made it possible to share web links privately. Links can be previewed within the message thread, including the ability to select phone numbers and addresses embedded on those sites. Instagram said the landscape and portrait upload tool reaches the iPhone today and will hit Android devices soon. Both iPhones and Androids can share links via Direct starting immediately.


T-Mobile Digits Lets You Call or Text from a Phone, Tablet, PC

May 25, 2017, 7:39 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated May 25, 2017, 10:49 AM

T-Mobile said it Digits service, first announced last year, will go live May 31. Digits allows customers to use the same phone number across multiple devices, or multiple numbers on a single device. The service operates over LTE and works with most connected devices, including phones, tablets, wearables, and computers. Digits relies on an app for Android and iOS devices, though T-Mobile says Digits is also built into the native dialer on certain Samsung phones (Galaxy S6, S6 edge, S6 edge +, S7, S7 edge, S8, S8+, Note 5) and the LG G5. T-Mobile customers sign in on whichever device is most convenient in order to access to their phone number, voicemail, text messages, and call history. The service allows a single smartphone to support up to five phone numbers without requiring additional SIM cards. Similarly, a single Digits number can be used across as many as five separate devices. T-Mobile has been beta testing the service since early this year and says the ability to send text messages from PCs is a favorite amongst early adopters. T-Mobile suggests Digits could be beneficial to business customers, as it would allow them to have their personal number and work number ring the same phone, negating the need to carry a second handset. It can serve families, too, allowing landline-based home phone numbers moved to T-Mobile to ring all devices on a family plan at the same time. Digits numbers can be assigned to run on AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon phones through the Digits app. T-Mobile said every T-Mobile line will be upgraded to Digits on May 31 for free. A single Digits line can be used on customers' phones, tablets, and so on. New Digits lines added to an existing account (for example, a second number for one phone) cost $10 per month. For a limited time, customers who subscribe to the T-Mobile One Plus plan will be able to add a second Digits line at no extra cost. T-Mobile warns that Digits lines support 911 calls and texts, but reaching 911 via the main account line is best.


Google Photos Adds Archiving Tool to Hide Sensitive Pix

May 24, 2017, 3:32 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

The latest version of Google Photos makes it possible to archive photos for safe, out-of-sight keeping. The tool was added to Google Photos 2.15 for Android devices, though it is not yet available to iOS devices or on the web. The archiving tool now appears within the navigation drawer on the left. A tutorial will walk people through the feature upon first use, after which archived photos can be accessed via the nav drawer. Archiving gives people a way to push photos out of their main feed without deleting them. The pictures are still readily accessible, though they will be out of view unless purposely sought out. The archiving function was first spotted by 9to5Google. Google Photos is free to download from the Google Play Store.


Consumer Cellular Picks Up the ZTE Avid 916 and Moto G5 Plus

May 24, 2017, 3:15 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Consumer Cellular recently added the ZTE Avid 916 and Motorola Moto G5 Plus to its roster of Android-based smartphones. The Avid 916 (pictured), a variant of the ZTE Grand / Champ, includes a 5.5-inch 720p display, 1.3 GHz Snapdragon 210 processor, and 8 GB of internal storage. The phone has an 8-megapixel main camera with 720p HD video capture and a 2-megapixel front camera. The phone includes Bluetooth 4.2, WiFi, GPS, and LTE. It supports microSD memory cards up to 64 GB and ships with Android 5.1.1 Lollipop. The phone costs $80. The Moto G5 Plus, which Motorola released earlier this year, is available for $200 or four payments of $50. It has a 5.2-inch full HD display, 12-megapiel camera, and runs Android 7.0 Nougat.


Facebook Tweaks Trending News and Expands Fundraising

May 24, 2017, 2:55 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Facebook updated several of its offerings today, including how it handles trending news and supports fundraising campaigns. Facebook says it has redesigned its trending news function with the goal of surfacing higher-quality content in the news box. Moving forward, clicking on a trending topic opens a new carousel with stories from a variety of publications that users can swipe through. "By making it easier to see what other news outlets are saying about each topic, we hope that people will feel more informed about the news in their region," said Facebook. News articles highlighted in the trending stories section are the most popular on Facebook concerning that specific topic. Popularity is determined by a number of factors. The new trending stories box is available on the web, but Facebook says it is only just beginning to test the new trending stories on Android and iOS mobile devices. Facebook hopes to expand the new trending stories to all mobile users soon. On the fundraising front, Facebook is expanding the ability to raise money to more organizations and groups. For example, personal fundraisers are now available to everyone in the U.S. over the age of 18, and are available in two new categories (community and sports.) Fundraisers are easy to create and share in order to take advantage of the community effect. Facebook says people can raise money for education, medical costs, pet medical costs, crisis relief, personal emergencies, funerals, sports, community, and nonprofits. Facebook says it is able to review all fundraisers and launch them within 24 hours. The platform supports payment processing, vetting, security, and fraud protection for a small fee.


Instagram Bows Location and Hashtag Search

May 23, 2017, 9:18 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Instagram today made it easier to find story content in its mobile app based on location or interests/topics. A new story ring now appears at the top of the explore section. Stories that have location stickers applied to them will be added to the ring so people can view myriad stories shared from around the world. Similarly, people can now mark their stories with hashtags, making them searchable to others. Instagram says these stories may be shared with a much larger audience via the explore tab, but users can opt to share their location or hashtagged stories only with followers (rather than everyone). The new searching tools will appear in Instagram 10.22 for Android and iOS, which is rolling out this week.


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