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printed June 29, 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


LG Intros the X charge, an Xfinity Mobile Exclusive

Today, 10:39 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

LG today announced the X charge, a smartphone that puts a priority on battery life. Similar to last year's X power, the X charge has an enormous battery with a capacity of 4,500mAh. LG claims the battery can push the phone through an "entire weekend" on a single charge. The power cell is embedded within the phone, but it supports rapid charging. Other features include a 5.5-inch 720 display, 1.5 GHz octa-core processor, 2 GB of RAM, and 16 GB of storage. The main camera has a 13-megapixel sensor and the wide-angle selfie camera has a 5-megapixel sensor and LED flash. LG says the X charge also includes Bluetooth 4.2, WiFi, and LTE 4G. The phone runs Android 7 Nougat with LG's software features, such as Gesture Shot. The LG X charge reaches Xfinity Mobile stores on June 30. Pricing wasn't immediately shared. Xfinity Mobile is owned and operated by Comcast and runs on Verizon's network.


Motorola Z2 Play Hits Verizon Stores Today

Today, 9:30 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless began selling the Motorola Moto Z2 Play handset today. The Moto Z2 Play, announced earlier this month, has a 5.5-inch full HD display and supports Moto Mods. 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 uses phase-detect and laser-assisted autofocus and has an f/1.7 lens. 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. The phone has a 3,000mAh battery and Motorola's rapid TurboPower charger. It runs Android 7.1.1 Nougat with Moto Display and Moto Voice. Verizon Wireless is charging $408 for the Moto Z2 Play, or $17 per month on a payment plan. It comes in gray or gold. Moto Mods, such as the battery pack, projector, and speakers, cost extra. Motorola will sell an unlocked version of the phone with more color and storage options later this summer. For now, the Moto Z2 Play is only available from Verizon.


Google's More Social Photos App Now Rolling Out

Yesterday, 11:48 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today made its new Google Photos app available to Android and iOS devices, as well as on the web. The revised photo management application adds several hallmark features, including suggested sharing and shared libraries. The suggested sharing tool will automatically scan images and offer to share them with family and friends based on the content and location of the photos. The feature is off by default and needs to be manually switched on. The shared libraries tool is meant to help people more easily share and collaborate on collections of images and videos. Google first announced this new version of Google Photos at its I/O developer conference in May. Google Photos is free to download from the Google Play Store and the iTunes App Store.


Cricket to Sell Alcatel Pulsemix Starting July 21

Yesterday, 8:31 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Cricket Wireless today said it will carry the Alcatel Pulsemix beginning next month. The Pulsemix is a rebranded version of the Alcatel A5 LED / A50. The Pulsemix is unique because it is compatible with several modular, snap-on accessories called Snapbaks. The most interesting Snapbak features an LED-covered panel that can blink a few dozen LEDs with color. Other modular accessories include a snap-on stereo speaker and a snap-on battery pack. These Snapbak modules are sold separately. The Pulsemix has a quad-core MediaTek processor with 2 GB of RAM, 5.2-inch HD screen, 13-megapixel main camera, and a 5-megapixel selfie camera. Other specs include Bluetooth, FM, GPS, and WiFi radios, and a 2,800mAh battery. It runs Android 7. Cricket is selling the Pulsemix for $80, though it will drop the price to $30 for those who port their number to Cricket. The phone reaches Cricket stores on July 21. Alcatel is selling the unlocked Pulsemix / A50 online via Amazon starting July 10.


Snapdragon Wear 1200 Platform Targets Simpler Wearables

Tuesday, 11:00 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Qualcomm today announced the Snapdragon Wear 1200 Platform, a new system-on-a-chip that is meant for personal fitness and tracking devices more so than smartwatches. The 1200 consumes just 79 square millimeters of space and relies on a 1.3 GHz ARM Cortex A7 processor core with an integrated Cat-M1, NB1, and eGPRS multi-mode modem. The platform supports VoLTE, multiple global positioning systems, as well as Bluetooth 4.2 and 802.11ac WiFi for connectivity. Qualcomm claims the Wear 1200 Platform is 45% smaller than previous designs and accommodates up to 10 days of battery life even when connected to LTE. The Wear 1200 Platform is ideal for targeted kid, pet, elderly, and fitness trackers, according to Qualcomm, thanks to geofencing support and the extended battery life. The SoC can run Linux or RTOS operating systems, but nothing like Android Wear. The Snapdragon Wear 1200 Platform is in production and shipping today.


Google Now Offering Project Fi to Really Small Businesses

Tuesday, 1:00 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today expanded the availability of Project Fi to its G Suite customers. G Suite users are those associated with businesses and use Google's email, calendar, contacts, and other products through their employer. Until today Project Fi has been available to individual users and families or other small groups, but moving forward G Suite customers can sign up for the monthly wireless service. Google says Project Fi is still limited to just six users per group plan, so it is not a viable option for medium or large enterprises. Google said Project Fi will be available to all G Suite users in the U.S. within the next few weeks. Project Fi relies on WiFi and LTE service from Sprint, T-Mobile, and U.S. Cellular to find the strongest/best signal. Project Fi only charges customers for data they use, rather than a large bucket. Plans start at $30 per month for talk, text, and 1 GB of data. A Pixel or Nexus Android smartphone is required.


Alcatel's A30 Plus Bumps Up the Screen, Processor, Camera and Battery

Tuesday, 9:03 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Alcatel today announced the A30 Plus, an improved version of the A30 we saw earlier this year. This entry-level Android handset includes a 5.5-inch 720p HD screen (up from 5.0 inches) and a 1.5 GHz quad-core MediaTek processor (up from 1.1 GHz) with 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB of storage. The phone supports memory cards up to 32 GB. The main camera has a 13-megapixel sensor (up from 8mp) with time-lapse recording while the front camera has a 5-megapixel sensor. Alcatel says the phone's larger 3,000mAh battery (up from 2,460mAh) provides all-day life. The phone runs Android 7 Nougat and is sold with LTE for AT&T and T-Mobile via Bands 2, 4, 5, 7, 12, 13, and 17. Alcatel is selling the phone for $130, but it is also available via Amazon's Prime Exclusive program for $80. The Prime version requires owners to view ads on the lock screen. The Alcatel A30 Plus ships July 10.


Alcatel's Modular A50 Parties with Light Up LED Accessory

Tuesday, 8:53 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Alcatel today followed through on its promise to bring the A5 LED to the U.S., though it has changed the phone's name to simply the Alcatel A50. The phone, first revealed in February, is compatible with a handful of modular accessories, the most significant of which features an LED-covere panel that can blink a few dozen LEDs with color. The LEDs can be used to serve as notifications for incoming calls, messages, or alarms. The included Color Catching 2.0 app lets owners create unique LED patterns and themes. Last, the LEDs can provide a light show when listening to music. Other modular accessories include a snap-on stereo speaker and a snap-on battery pack. These are sold separately. The A50 has a quad-core MediaTek processor with 2 GB of RAM, 5.2-inch HD screen, 13-megapixel main camera, and a 5-megapixel selfie camera with Face Beauty software. Other specs include Bluetooth, FM, GPS, and WiFi radios, and a 2,800mAh battery. It runs Android 7. LTE support is limited to Bands 2, 4, 5, 7, and 12, which makes it moderately compatible with AT&T and T-Mobile. The phone costs $150, or $190 with the LED rear cover. The phone is being distributed through the Amazon Prime Exclusive program for $100, or $130 with the LED rear cover. The Prime Exclusive program requires owners to view ads on the lock screen. The Alcatel A50 ships July 10.


Alcatel Announces the Idol 5S with Stereo Speakers

Tuesday, 8:36 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Alcatel today marked the debut of the Idol 5S, the latest in its flagship series. Like its predecessors, the 5S features an aluminum frame, curved glass front and rear surfaces, powerful stereo speakers, and a rear-mounted fingerprint reader. The phone has a 5.2-inch full HD screen and it is powered by the Snapdragon 625 processor with 3 GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage. As for photography, the Idol 5S includes a 12-megapixel main camera with two-tone flash, and f/2.0 aperture. The front camera has an 8-megapixel sensor and f/2.0 aperture. Both cameras can shoot full HD video. The stereo speakers are backed by 3.6W amplifiers and the Idol 5S includes dual microphones to help reduce noise when capturing audio. Other features include Bluetooth, GPS, and WiFi; USB-C and a 3.5mm headphone jack; and a 2,620mAh battery. LTE support for U.S. carriers is very good, as it includes Bands 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 12, 13, 17, 25, 26, 66, and 41. Alcatel said the phone will be compatible with AT&T/Cricket and T-Mobile/MetroPCS at launch, with Sprint and Verizon to follow later this summer through a software update. The Alcatel Idol 5S runs Android 7.1 Nougat and includes the Google Assistant. The device costs $280 when purchased from Alcatel, but can be picked up for $200 through Amazon Prime Exclusives. The Amazon price requires users to view ads on the lock screen. The phone ships July 10.


Facebook Adds Filters and Effects to Messenger's Video Chats

Monday, 10:45 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Facebook today dressed up the live video chatting functionality of Messenger with new effects. Family and friends can now apply reaction emoji, a variety of filters, and new masks to enliven real-time video conversations. Further, a new tool simplifies screenshots for capturing the spontaneity of live video chats. The new tools will be added to Facebook Messenger for Android and iOS in an update over the days ahead.


Nokia 6 to Be Available from Amazon Next Month

Monday, 8:18 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Monday, 8:24 AM

HMD Global, the company that makes Nokia-branded handsets, today said it will sell the Nokia 6 smartphone in the U.S. via Amazon. The 6 is the best of the three Nokia Android phones currently available, though it still falls in the entry-level segment. The Nokia 6 runs Android 7 Nougat, has a 5.5-inch full HD screen, includes stereo speakers with Dolby Atmos sound, relies on a Snapdragon 430 processor with 3 GB of RAM, and a boasts a 16-megapixel main camera with an 8-megapixel front camera. It packs a 3,000mAh battery, as well as Bluetooth, GPS, NFC, WiFi, fingerprint sensor, 3.5mm headphone jack, and microUSB. LTE 4G support for U.S. networks is limited at best. It supports LTE Bands 2, 3, 4, 7, 12/17, 28, 38. It is only partially compatible with AT&T's 4G network because it is missing LTE Bands 29 and 30. The Nokia 6 is more compatible with T-Mobile's LTE 4G network. The matte black and silver color options are expected to go on sale in July for $229, with the blue and copper colors arriving later.


Virgin Mobile to Phase Android Out Slowly

Jun 21, 2017, 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

Jun 21, 2017, 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

Jun 21, 2017, 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

Jun 21, 2017, 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.


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