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Cell Phone Reviews and Mobile Phone News
Read about the latest news updates, from apps for the Nokia Lumia 710 to updates on AT&T's Gingerbread system
 
09/25/2018 09:39 AM
Qualcomm Claims Apple Gave Intel Stolen Trade Secrets

Qualcomm has taken yet more action against Apple, which it alleges stole trade secrets and offered them to Intel in a bid to improve Intel's modems. This year's iPhones rely solely on Intel modems, rather the a mix of modems from Intel and Qualcomm, in part because Apple and Qualcomm are locked in a legal dispute over patents and licensing fees. Qualcomm claims Apple broke a software licensing agreement and shared confidential information about Qualcomm's modems with Intel engineers. Qualcomm accused Apple of undertaking a "multi-year campaign of sloppy, inappropriate and deceitful conduct ... for the purpose of improving lower-quality modem chipsets, including those manufactured by Intel, a competitor of Qualcomm, to render such chipsets useable in Apple devices with the ultimate goal of diverting Qualcomm's Apple-based business to Intel." Qualcomm claims to have evidence to back up this claim thanks to software clues it has found in Intel's modems. Qualcomm is seeking to add this complaint to its existing lawsuit so that it doesn't need to file a separate case. Apple has not responded publicly to the new allegations.


 
09/25/2018 08:34 AM
AT&T Rolls Out Connected Car Product with Harman

AT&T and Harman this week launched the Harman Spark, a module that brings safety and security features to cars. The Spark plugs into a car's OBD II port and connects to AT&T's LTE network. Some of the functions include emergency crash assistance, wherein owners will receive a call if the module detects a crash, as well as a roadside assistance manager for help hailing and paying for a tow truck. A virtual mechanic provides alerts and guidance when it detects problems with the car, and can contact car owners if the car is bumped, moved, towed, or stolen. Other features include geofences to set boundaries for novice drivers, family/fleet management with real-time location sharing, in-car mobile hotspot for up to eight devices, and parking reservations to secure a spot in advance. Last, the module offers driving feedback after analyzing driver behavior. AT&T says the Harman Spark costs $80 on its own, or $30 when purchased alongside a Samsung Galaxy S9, S9+, or Note9. Service costs either $10 or $20 per month, depending on whether or not the Spark is being added to an existing wireless account. The Harman Spark goes on sale Sept. 28. Verizon Wireless sells a similar product called the Hum.


 
09/25/2018 08:14 AM
Instagram's Founders Depart Facebook

Instagram co-founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger have decided to leave Facebook, which purchased Instagram for $1 billion in 2012. Instagram started with just a handful of people and now employs more than one thousand all around the globe. Systrom and Krieger expressed gratitude for the opportunities afforded them over the eight years since Instagram's conception. "We’re now ready for our next chapter. We’re planning on taking some time off to explore our curiosity and creativity again," said Systrom in a blog post. "Building new things requires that we step back, understand what inspires us and match that with what the world needs; that’s what we plan to do." Earlier this year, Jan Koum, who founded WhatsApp, also departed Facebook. Facebook bought WhatsApp in 2014. It's not clear if these departures are related to Facebook's ongoing struggles with the government, which has pummeled the social media giant for mishandling user data over the last two years.


 
09/24/2018 03:50 PM
Waze Follows Google Maps to Apple's CarPlay

Google today said iPhone users can opt for Google-owned Waze instead of Apple Maps for navigating in their CarPlay-equipped car. Apple added support for third-party apps to CarPlay in iOS 12, which was released earlier this month. Google updated its Waze real-time traffic app in order to make it compatible with iOS 12 and CarPlay. Google says Waze supports traffic alerts, police hazards, instant route changes, live ETAs, cheap gas station locations, and a variety of voices for guided navigating. Google says Waze should be available in most vehicles that include CarPlay, though it suggests users check online to view Apple’s list of compatible vehicles.


 
09/24/2018 03:42 PM
Google to Help You Find Your Old Searches

Google today said it wants to help people resume incomplete or old searches. The company is taking a couple of steps to make this happen. To start, it will surface new activity cards to help people pick up where they left off. For example, when revisiting old queries users will see a card that highlights the pages they've already visited in addition to related searches. Google says it will only show this card when useful. People will have full control over the tool, meaning they can wipe their search history, the results, or delete the cards altogether. Google says this will be available later this year. Another tool called Collections is headed to Google Search. This will help people lump together the results they've visited over time so they can return to them and keep track of, or organize content for revisiting. Google will add content suggestions to Collections in an effort to help people explore topics further. Main topics won't be the only results displayed, as Google plans to add subtopics with more granular information. Google says this feature will learn over time and should be able to refine results. In order to power all these changes, Google has added a new layer to its Knowledge Graph, called the Topic Layer. This new layer understands topics and generates hundreds of thousands of subtopics, which help identify the more relevant information. Google is still testing these changes and will roll them out when ready.


 
09/24/2018 03:02 PM
Google to Make Image and Video Results More Helpful

Google says it is making a "fundamental shift" in how it thinks about Google Search. The company hopes the changes will make searches more visual and, in the end, more helpful. To start, Google is using AI to build AMP stories and surface that content in search results. Google will first focus on creating stories about famous people (movie stars, athletes) that highlight their lifestyles, news, and other facts. Videos will play a bigger role in results. Google wants to surface videos that include the most relevant information about any given query. It will do this by using computer vision to better understand the content of videos before it calculates how they pertain to the search. Google Images is earning some updates, as well, in order to provide the best possible image results. For example, it will signal how the result ranks in terms of usefulness and freshness. Image search results will more directly take people to the image they seek, rather than a web page that might be hiding the image near the bottom. Image Search will contain more context alongside results, such as captions, the title of the web page, and other guiding factors. Last, Google says it is bringing the power of Google Lens' AI technology to Google Images. This will help Google Images better analyze and detect objects, making them more easily searched. Google says Lens will also let people draw on any part of an image to trigger related results for that portion of the image. All these changes are rolling out to mobile devices and the web over the next few weeks.


 
09/24/2018 02:40 PM
Google Moves Feed to Search, Calls It 'Discover'

Google today announced some big changes are headed to its main search product. Google is relocating users' Google Feed to the main search page and renaming it Discover. This refreshed Discover feed is meant to help people find and explore new things. Google says it will contain new topic headers and cards that explain why the information is being shown, allowing people to dive in deeper or tweak preferences to see less of some things. The discover button that appears at the bottom of the screen subscribes people to certain feeds based on their interests. Google hopes to surface more videos and evergreen content, such as "where-to" and "how-to" articles and videos. Google says it is relying on some of the algorithms it uses in its Google News service to serve people with relevant content. The new Discover will be easier to use for those who speak multiple languages, allowing them to, for example, view video content in one language while reading search results in another. The Discover page is coming to google.com as viewed on mobile browsers and will be rolling out over the next few weeks. Google didn't say if Discover will eventually reach its official mobile search apps for Android and iOS.


 
09/24/2018 12:19 PM
ZTE Blade X2 Max Pops Up On FCC Website, But Its Future Is Uncertain

The FCC today revealed the ZTE Blade X2 Max in documents made public on the agency's website. The phone, a follow-up to the Blade X Max, appears to be bound for Cricket Wireless based on branding seen on the user manual and AT&T LTE banding (14/30). Other features confirmed by the FCC include dual rear cameras, a rear-mounted fingerprint reader, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and a USB-C port for charging. The Blade X2 Max relies on a nano SIM card and the tray also supports microSD memory cards. The phone's screen adopts the 16:9 aspect ratio. The draft user manual makes reference to the size of the display, which it says measures 6 inches with full HD resolution. The manual also indicates the battery may be 4,080mAh, and the phone may include 2 GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage. Last, the manual notes the phone's two rear cameras are a 16-megapixel main sensor and a 2-megapixel depth sensor. The front camera is 8 megapixels. Information found in the draft user manual is subject to change. Given ZTE's current position in the U.S. market, it is possible this phone will never reach the market. ZTE was forced to put operations on hold for three months after the U.S. banned it from accessing U.S.-made parts and software. ZTE only returned to full operations in July. The company says it still considers the U.S. market vital to its success. ZTE implied it will most likely sell new devices direct to consumers online rather than through carrier distribution deals. Cricket has not confirmed that it will sell the ZTE Blade X2 Max.


 
09/24/2018 11:27 AM
Apple Finalizes Acquisition of Shazam

Apple today said it has finalized its acquisition of Shazam. The $400 million deal, first announced in December 2017, was recently cleared to proceed by the EU after delay of several months. Shazam is a music service that lets people identify the music being played around them. The app listens to the music, sends a sample to Shazam's servers to identify the song, and then returns the results to the phone or watch. Apple says it plans to bring an ad-free version of Shazam to everyone in the near future. The app has been downloaded 1 billion times worldwide and is used more than 20 million times every day.


 
09/24/2018 09:11 AM
T-Mobile Rebrands MetroPCS to Metro by T-Mobile, Debuts New Plans

MetroPCS is no more. T-Mobile is rebranding its prepaid service to Metro by T-Mobile. Along with the new name, Metro by T-Mobile will come with new service plans. First, Metro's existing $40 plan will double the amount of high-speed data allowed per month to 10 GB. Second, the new $50 plan allows for unlimited data and includes Google One for online cloud storage that's accessible from phones and PCs. Google One requires an Android device. Third, the $60 plan includes unlimited data, Google One, and Amazon Prime. Amazon Prime gives people access to quicker shipping and Amazon's content and media services, such as Amazon Video. The free Amazon Prime offer is only valid to new Amazon Prime subscribers. T-Mobile says Metro customers' data is prioritized below that of some T-Mobile customers, particularly when the network is congested. On all plans those customers who consume more than 35GB per month may notice reduced speeds due to prioritization. Video streams are capped at 480p. The name change and new rate plans will kick off officially in October.


 
09/24/2018 08:49 AM
Google to Let Devs Open Any 2D Android App In Daydream VR

Google recently made improvements to its Daydream virtual reality platform that will see its usefulness expand in several ways. First, it is giving the Lenovo Mirage Solo headset the ability to support six degrees of freedom. Together with hand trackers, this allows Mirage Solo users to more accurately interact with virtual worlds. Google says it is using "machine learning and off-the-shelf parts to accurately estimate the 3D position and orientation of the controllers." This means 6DoF can be built into VR headsets at a lower cost. Google gave developers new APIs in order to test this experimental features. The Mirage Solo also gains a see-through mode, allowing wearers to see the real world around them through the headset's cameras. On mobile devices, Google is opening up all Android apps to its phone-based VR experience. Developers can use new tools to add Daydream VR support to their existing 2D applications. Google says its Chrome team recycled existing 2D interfaces from its Chrome Browser Sync to make this possible. Once developers make their apps Daydream enabled, Daydream users will be able to open those apps via their Daydream VR headset and interact with them. Google is calling these features experimental for now.


 
09/24/2018 08:37 AM
YouTube Music Mobile App Lets Users Dial In Audio Quality

YouTube recently updated the YouTube Music app for both Android and iOS and gave users new controls over how their music sounds. Moving forward, listeners can select to download mixtapes with low quality (48kbps), normal quality (128kbps), or high quality (256kbps) files. The higher quality files will consume more on-device storage. The app still allows for people to download audio only, or complete audio/video music videos. The limit for downloads remains at 100 songs/videos. YouTube Music is free to download from the Google Play Store and iTunes App Store, but downloading music requires a monthly subscription.


 
09/24/2018 08:12 AM
SiriusXM to Buy Pandora for $3.5 Billion

SiriusXM today announced that it has agreed to acquire Pandora in an all-stock deal valued at $3.5 billion. SiriusXM provides satellite radio to some 36 million car-based subscribers, while Pandora has about 70 million listeners with 5.6 million paying monthly for Pandora's premium service. SiriusXM says it will be able to pair its exclusive content with Pandora's ad-supported and subscription tiers to deliver unique audio packages. SiriusXM hopes to use its existing base of automotive relationships to push Pandora more deeply into cars. The combined companies will continue to invest in content and technology for music services that are consumed in and out of the car. In particular, SiriusXM hopes to make new in-roads with mobile devices, where much of Pandora's content is consumed. The deal has been approved by the boards of both companies, but is still subject to regulatory requirements. SiriusXM and Pandora expect the deal to close during the first quarter of 2019.


 
09/21/2018 11:46 AM
OnePlus Pushing Android 9 Pie to the OnePlus 6

OnePlus today began delivering Android 9 Pie to its flagship phone, the OnePlus 6. The company had been testing a beta version of the new operating system from Google for several weeks. Android 9 Pie carries with it a brand new user interface, adaptive battery support, and revised gesture navigation. It adds a reworked Do Not Disturb mode, as well as a new Gaming Mode. The update also improves text and call notifications, and allows people to adjust the accent color. Last, the update includes the September security patch from Google. Android 9 Pie is free for owners of the OnePlus 6 to download and install. The company is rolling it out over the next few days.


 
09/20/2018 12:50 PM
Samsung Calls It a Day On Samsung Call Stickers

Samsung has begun notifying customers that starting December 17, 2018, they'll no longer be able to send Call Stickers via their Samsung's phone application. Call Stickers, introduced with the Galaxy S8 and S8+, allowed people to send stickers as their caller ID when calling other Samsung devices. Similarly, people with Samsung phones to reject calls with a sticker. Samsung says customers who have purchased Call Stickers through the Galaxy App Store can request compensation for their purchase as long as the request is filed before June 15, 2019. Samsung thanked its customers for using Call Stickers. Samsung sold off the Call Stickers business earlier this year.


 
09/20/2018 10:29 AM
AT&T Commits to 1,000 New Retail Locations

AT&T today said it plans to expand its retail footprint around the country with the addition of 1,000 new stores. The new outlets will take several different forms. For example, the company says it will launch about 100 pop-up stores, which are smaller and more flexible, in densely populated urban areas, including inside apartment buildings. The company will boost the number of mobile stores to 150 by the end of the year. Mobile stores are typically contained in a vehicle and can be driven to events or areas that need help during emergencies. Beyond these, AT&T says it will sprinkle hundreds of stores in smaller cities and towns around the country. AT&T claims its retail stores have performed consistently well and it sees them as a way to reach more people around the country. AT&T hasn't said exactly where the new stores will spring up.


 
09/20/2018 08:37 AM
Verizon Launches the GizmoWatch for Kids

Verizon Wireless today announced the GizmoWatch, a second-generation smart wearable that targets children ages 3 to 11. The device is primarily meant to serve as a location tracker for parents. Using the free Android and iOS apps, parents can view their child's real-time location, set geo-fences, and receive alerts should the child stray outside of designated zones. Parents can also control the device's uptime and ensure that it is quiet during school hours. The wearable runs on Verizon's LTE 4G network and can receive calls from up to 10 parent-approved numbers. The GizmoWatch includes 20 preset text messages that kids can send to their contacts. Kids will be able to track their steps, as well as use a voice-changer app for fun. Verizon says the GizmoWatch battery lasts between three and four days. The GizmoWatch, available starting today, costs $180 and requires a $5 monthly fee for connectivity.


 
09/20/2018 08:23 AM
Samsung Intros the Galaxy A7 with 3 Rear Cameras

Samsung today announced the Galaxy A7, an addition to its mid-range roster that is the first to feature three cameras on the back. The triple-camera array includes a 24-megapixel main sensor at f/1.7, an 8-megapixel wide-angle sensor at f/2.4, and a 5-megapixel depth-sensing camera at f/2.2 for bokeh and other effects. The camera has the ability to detect scenes and adjust automatically to create better photos. The A7 relies on a metal-and-glass design and features an Infinity Display measuring 6 inches with full HD+ resolution on front. Dolby Atmos ensures the A7 delivers a great sound experience. A 2.2 GHz octa-core processor powers the phone, which ships with either 4 or 6 GB of RAM and 64 or 128 GB of storage. It has a 3,300mAh battery and a slew of radios, including Bluetooth 5.0, WiFi, GPS, NFC, and Cat 6 LTE. The fingerprint reader is located on the side edge and a 24-megapixel selfie camera on front allows for Selfie Focus shots with studio effects and Samsung's AR emoji. Samsung plans to sell the Galaxy A7 in Asian markets first, followed by European and other markets. Samsung didn't say if it intends to bring the A7 to the U.S., and the company didn't specify which LTE bands the phone supports. Samsung recently launched the Galaxy A6 in the U.S.


 
09/19/2018 05:26 PM
Apple Music for Android Adds Support for Android Auto

Apple has updated its Apple Music application for Android devices and improved the app's usefulness in the car. Android device owners can now access their Apple Music service through the Android Auto user interface in the car. Apple Music also offers search by lyrics using a few words to find songs. The app tosses in a new artist page, letting people view artist information and play artist's hits with a tap, and the friends mix, which shows a playlist of songs liked by friends. Last, Apple Music for Android now includes the Top 100 songs from around the world. Apple Music is free to download from the Google Play Store.


 
09/19/2018 03:40 PM
Review: LifeProof Next Case for Samsung Galaxy Note9

LifeProof has designed a fresh case specifically for the Samsung Galaxy Note9. The LifeProof Next claims to be drop-, dirt-, and snowproof. Considering the vertigo-inducing cost of the Galaxy Note9, it’s worth protecting in a case.


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