Sony's 2018 flagship phone, the Xperia XZ2, sees the company catch up to the competition in terms of design and features. It boasts a metal-and-glass chassis, introduces a 2:1 screen, adopts Android 8, pass the best processor, and includes table-stakes tools such as bokeh photography.
The FCC today said it is investigating reports that a web site leaked the location data of millions of U.S. cell phones. A security researcher claims a company called LocationSmart suffered a leak and made it possible track the whereabouts of AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless customers without their consent. Accuracy of the location data was as good as a few hundred yards. On her Twitter account today FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel said, "The @FCC needs to investigate. No ifs, ands, or buts." Senator Ron Wyden agreed, saying, "This leak, only days after the lax security at Securus was exposed, shows how little companies throughout the wireless ecosystem value Americans’ security. Wireless carriers and LocationSmart appear to have allowed nearly any hacker with a basic knowledge of web sites to track the location of any American with a cell phone. A hacker could have used this site to know when you were in your house so they would know when to rob it. A predator could have tracked your child’s cell phone to know when they were alone." Wyden demanded an investigation and the FCC appears to agree. The agency has pushed the matter to its enforcement bureau to investigate.
As promised, Google has added voice control support to its own video service, Google Play Movies & TV, to Google Home. People who own Google Home products can now speak voice commands to access movies and television shows purchased or rented through the Google Play Store and have that content play on Chromecast-connected television sets. Google says people won't have to change any settings or reconfigure their device to access this feature, as it has been added automatically on the backend. Google Home has for some time allowed people to use voice commands to access Netflix and other third-party streaming video content. The tool lets people start movies and shows, fast-forward, rewind, pause, and more.
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Qualcomm this week laid out its plan to adopt the latest wifi security protocol in future products. The company said it will apply the Wifi Alliance's Wifi Protected Access (WPA3) across its portfolio of mobile and networking products starting this summer. The core feature of WPA3 is stronger protection when users choose weak passwords. WPA3 also simplifies the process of securing access points that don't have a display or interface. The standard provides individualized data encryption to protect data as it moves from computers, tablets, and phones to access points. Further, it includes a 192-bit security suite to help businesses and governments adopt the highest levels of protection. Qualcomm says it has already added WPA3 to its WCN3998 wifi radio and IPQ807x AP platform. The company says phons based on the Snapdragon 845 mobile application processor will be the first to support WPA3. The chip and phones that rely on it will gain WPA3 this summer, with Qualcomm's portfolio of networking devices to follow soon thereafter.
Apple has released iOS 11.4 Beta 6 to both registered developers and public beta testers. The release comes just several days after Apple pushed iOS 11.4 Beta 5. Apple didn't provide a reason for the quick iteration. iOS 11.4 primarily adds support for ClassKit, Apple's new set of developer tools that target educations. It also re-introduces several features that were meant to be included in iOS 11.3, but didn't make the final release. These include AirPlay 2 and Messages on iCloud, which allows people to store their iMessage content in the cloud and sync it across devices. Developers and public testers alike should be able to download and install iOS 11.4 Beta 6 over the air.
The House Appropriations Committee this week voted on an amendment that upholds the Commerce Department's sanctions against ZTE. Specifically, the amendment prevents the U.S. Commerce Department from renegotiating its sanctions against ZTE in order to prevent ZTE from gaining access to hardware and software from its U.S. suppliers. The Commerce Department slapped ZTE with the ban last month after it discovered that ZTE misrepresented the actions it took in a 2017 settlement. Over the weekend, President Donald Trump surprisingly tweeted in support of ZTE, suggesting the Commerce Department help ZTE "get back into business, fast." ZTE has largely ceased operations and idled some 75,000 employees in the wake of the ban. The amendment voted on by the house will "prevent a foreign company that is beholden to its government — and that ignores embargoes — from infiltrating the devices and networks that are now indispensable to American life," said Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.) in a statement. "This amendment, which passed with the unanimous support of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, shows that, when the United States enacts sanctions, we stand behind them." The bill was coauthored by Ruppersberger and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Ct.).
Today's all-glass phones demand protection. The InvisibleShield Glass Curve Elite for the Samsung Galaxy S9+ provides impact and scratch protection. If you want to keep the curved glass of the S9+ safe from damage, this is one option.
Instagram today made it possible to share feed posts directly to stories. The latest version of the app includes tools that make it easy to share a post published in your feed to your own story as a sticker where your friends and followers can see and interact with it. Posts shared to stories will display the original poster's username and a link so viewers can see the original post and learn more about the original poster. Instagram says users can only share posts from public accounts, and users who don't want their posts shared in others' stories can opt out. The new Instagram is available for Android devices today and will reach iOS devices in the coming days.
Essential today said it has published a new version of the camera app for its PH-1 phone. Most significantly, the app has been given a fresh coat of paint with new icons that should make it easier to see and switch between photos, videos, and other modes. The app renames the Monochrome shooting mode as Black & White, which Essential says is "a bit more familiar" to end users. Last, the app gains stability and performance tweaks. The Essential camera application is free for owners of the PH-1 to download from the Google Play Store.
Sprint today refreshed its offering for customers age 55 and up. Starting Friday, May 18, new customers who are over 55 can get two lines of unlimited talk, text, and data for $70 per month. Sprint says the first line costs $50 and the second line costs $20. Autopay is required to score this price. The offer includes Sprint Global Roaming, which provides basic text and data at no additional charge in more than 185 countries. The Unlimited 55+ plan provides unlimited mobile hotspot at 3G speeds, but limits video streaming to standard definition (480p), limits music streaming to 500 Kbps, and limits game streaming to 2 Mbps. Sprint says this offer for those aged 55 and up will be available for a limited time.
AT&T and Verizon Wireless today voiced support for the Red Hydrogen One phone, which they'll sell later this summer. The Hydrogen One was first announced in summer of 2017. It is a pricey Android phone with a 5.7-inch "holographic" display touting glasses-free 3D. While the display supports traditional stereo 3D, it also supports a new 3D-like "holographic" technology created by Red called Hydrogen 4-View (H4V). The phone body sports Red's industrial design and comes in either aluminum or titanium. The Hydrogen One will support snap-on modules for shooting both high-resolution video and H4V content. It will also integrate with other Red products, serving as a touchscreen controller and monitor for Red cameras. The phone also has USB-C and a microSD memory card slot. When first announced, Red listed the Hydrogen One's price as $1,195. Neither AT&T nor Verizon said what they'll charge for the phone. The Hydrogen One was expected to go on sale in early 2018, but it has been delayed several times. An exact for-sale date was not provided.
Netflix has granted three newer phones the ability to stream HDR video. The latest devices include the Huawei Mate 10 Pro, the Huawei P20 Pro, and the Sony Xperia XZ2. HDR content has more contrast than standard content, creating deeper blacks and brighter brights for a richer viewing experience. Other devices already able to access HDR playback on Netflix include the LG G6 and V30, Sony Xperia XZ1 and XZ Premium, Samsung Galaxy S9 and Note 8, and the Razor Phone.
LG today said it has commenced sales of its flagship G7 ThinQ phone in its home market of South Korea. The G7 ThinQ, announced earlier this month, is a premium metal-and-glass phone with a super bright 6.1-inch screen, Snapdragon 845 processor, AI-assisted dual rear cameras, BoomBox speaker, and Android 8 Oreo. Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless have committed to selling the LG G7 ThinQ beginning later this month. So far, however, U.S. pricing for the phone has been kept a secret. LG says carriers will announce pricing closer to the actual for-sale date. Pre-orders for the G7 ThinQ in the U.S. are expected to begin on or around May 24, with a ship date of June 1.
Google today relaunched its premium video and music services, but says its existing Google Play Music service will remain unmolested. "If you use Google Play Music, nothing will change — you’ll still be able to access all of your purchased music, uploads and playlists in Google Play Music just like always," explained Google. Google Play Music carries its own $9.99 per month subscription fee. That fee has historically also included access to YouTube Red and YT Music. The same will be true of Google's new premium services. "If you are a subscriber to Google Play Music, good news, you get a YouTube Music Premium membership as part of your subscription each month," said Google. Existing customers can keep their current pricing. New YouTube Premium subscribers will pay $11.99 per month. This bundles together access to YouTube Premium and YouTube Music. Those who only care about music can subscribe to just YouTube Music for $9.99 per month. The ad-free version of Google Play Music, with support for offline downloads, also costs $9.99 per month. Google hasn't clarified if legacy Google Play Music subscribers will be grandfathered-in to the new YouTube Premium service.
YouTube today announced YouTube Premium and YouTube Music, services that replace YouTube Red and YT Music, respectively. Moving forward, YouTube Premium will be the video site's top-tier service, offering originals, ad-free play, background play, and downloads across YouTube. Google says YouTube originals include content such as the Karate Kid-inspired series Cobra Kai, with many more on the way from the U.K., Germany, France, Mexico, and more. YouTube Premium will offer subscribers an ad-free experience with no mandatory pre-roll advertisements. Moreover, videos that permit downloads can be stored locally on phones and tablets for offline playback, as well as played in the background as users multitask. YouTube Premium will cost $11.99 per month (for new members), which is more than the $9.99 subscription for the outgoing YouTube Red service. Google says people who already subscribe to YouTube Red will be able to keep their current pricing. Google didn't say anything about family pricing plans. YouTube Premium rolls out soon in existing markets, including the U.S., Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, and South Korea. It’s also coming soon to Austria, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Norway, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the U.K. The new YouTube Premium subscription includes the new YouTube Music. Google is relaunching YouTube Music on May 22. "YouTube was made for video, not just music," said Google. "We’ll be changing that by introducing a new music streaming service made for music with the magic of YouTube: making the world of music easier to explore and more personalized than ever." YouTube Music will include official songs and albums from artists around the world, as well as thousands of playlists, radio stations, remixes, live performances, covers, and music videos. To accompany the service, YouTube has a reimagined mobile app and a brand new desktop player that are designed specifically for music playback. Google says people will be able to search based on partial lyrics, or keywords based on the artist or video. The service will personalize the home screen for each subscriber and dynamically recommend new music based on listening history. An ad-supported version of YouTube Music will be offered for free. The paid service, which includes an ad-free experience, background play, and downloads for offline playback, will cost $9.99 per month. Subscribing to YouTube Premium, at $11.99 per month, includes YouTube Music. The new YouTube Music will be available in the same markets as YouTube Premium. Google Play Music will remain as-is.
Democrats in the Senate forced a vote on net neutrality today and walked away victorious. Members of the Senate voted 52-47 to retain the net neutrality regulations put in place by the Obama administration that were later nixed by the FCC. The margin of victory was large than expected, with three Republicans, two independents, and 47 Democrats all voting in favor of keeping the rules. Though the bill has passed the Senate, it still has to get through the Republican-controlled House of Representatives and, if it succeeds there, President Trump. Obama's FCC established firm rules governing broadband service as a utility under Title II. As such, paid prioritization, fast lanes, blocking, and throttling were strictly prohibited. The Republican-led FCC has largely scaled back those rules, preferring to let the industry govern itself with "light regulation" from the FTC rather than the FCC. For the moment, the FCC's repeal of net neutrality will go into effect on June 11. Democratic FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel applauded the vote. "Today the United States Senate took a big step to fix the serious mess the FCC made when it rolled back net neutrality late last year. The FCC's net neutrality repeal gave broadband providers extraordinary new powers to block websites, throttle services and play favorites when it comes to online content. Today’s vote is a sign that the fight for internet freedom is far from over."
OnePlus today announced the Bullets Wireless Bluetooth headphones meant to accompany its smartphones. The Bullets Wireless are a behind-the-neck style pair of headphones. They feature 9.2mm drivers with support for Bluetooth 5.0 and aptX for high-quality sound. OnePlus says the Bullets Wireless offer 8 hours of music playback and thanks to built-in fast charging can provide 5 hours of playback after charging for just 10 minutes. The headphones have magnetic casings that snap together to help prevent wire tangles. Smart features include automatic pause and resume when the headphones are snapped together or pulled apart, respectively. The Bullets Wireless support Google Assistant, and soon after launch, will support the ability to answer calls by unclipping them from one another. The OnePlus Bullets Wireless headphones go on sale June 5 for $69.
OnePlus today announced the OnePlus 6, its redesigned flagship phone, at an event in London. The OnePlus 6 drops the metal chassis of previous phones and adopts a metal-and-glass design common to today's top devices. The 6 will be offered in white with pearl powder, matte black, and glossy black, all with unique finishes on the curved Gorilla Glass 5 surfaces. OnePlus says the phone can withstand splashes and similar exposure to water, but the phone stops short of being waterproof. The OnePlus 6 adopts a notched screen design. The AMOLED display measures 6.28 inches across the diagonal with 2,280 by 1,080 pixels at a 19:9 aspect ratio. The phone is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor. It comes in several memory and storage variants, including 6 GB or 8 GB of ROM and 64 GB or 128 GB of storage. Like many flagship phones, the OnePlus 6 includes a dual-camera array on the rear. The main sensor captures 16-megapixel images at f/1.7 and it is aided by a secondary 20-megapixel sensor also at f/1.7. The main camera includes OIS/EIS, super slow-motion capture, time-lapse, portrait shooting, and a dual-LED flash. The selfie camera has a 16-megapixel sensor at f/2.0. OnePlus says a software update will bring software-based portrait shooting to the selfie cam after launch. Other core specs include a 3,300mAh battery with rapid charging, face unlock, USB-C, fingerprint reader, 3.5mm headset jack, dual-band wifi, Bluetooth 5.0 with aptX HD, and GPS. The phone boasts CAT 16 LTE with 4x4 MIMO and 256 QAM. Support for U.S. LTE bands is excellent, as the OnePlus 6 includes Band 29 for AT&T and Bands 66 and 71 for T-Mobile. The phone is sold unlocked and can accommodate up to two SIM cards. One the software front, the OnePlus 6 offers the latest version of OxygenOS, which is based on Android 8 Oreo. Unique features include a new swipe-based navigation user interface, app locker for secured apps, multi-finger gestures, dark theme, scrolling screenshots, and reading mode. The OnePlus 6 will go on sale in the U.S. and other countries on May 22. The mirror black and matte black 6 GB / 64 GB models costs $529, while the 8 GB / 128 GB models costs $579. The silk white model is a limited edition and will go on sale June 5 with 8 GB of memory and 128 GB of storage.
Google's overhauled version of Google News is now available to iPhones and iPads via the iTunes App Store. The new version of the app uses machine learning to personalize the experience for each user. The app contains four main tabs along the bottom that take users to their recommended stories, top headlines, favorite sources, and subscriptions. In addition to offering personalized recommendations, the new Google News offers links to multiple accounts of the same story to offer perspective and help further comprehension. Google News is free to download from the App Store. Google hasn't said when the app will reach Android devices.