Debate not over, Librarian of Congress needs to re-evaluate in 2015
President Barack Obama has signed the "Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act," making cellphone unlocking by individuals or businesses legal again, at least temporarily. The bill reauthorizes an exemption to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which allowed unlocking. The matter will come up for debate before the Library of Congress in 2015, so the bill signature today isn't a permanent fix.
Roam Mobility announces new unlimited talk, text and data roaming plans
Roam Mobility, a Canadian independent roaming SIM replacement provider, has announced its new unlimited roaming plans for travellers while in the US. Upon purchasing a one-time upgrade to the network ($2), users with one of the company's SIMs and an unlocked device can access Roam Mobility's new Text+Data plan ($2 per day) offering unlimited texting and 2G data; plans that include 4G LTE data, flex scheduling, a Snowbird incremental option, and more are also available at generally lower rates than before. Roam Mobility can be purchased from major retailers across Canada, such as London Drugs, Staples, 7-Eleven, and more.
Campaign funds a second low power screen for Android devices
It's time for Thursday's edition of Crowdfunding Critic. Every Tuesday and Thursday here on MacNN and Electronista, we're going to look at crowd-funded projects that we find interesting. Keep in mind that we aren't specifically endorsing anything, or telling you that there aren't any risks in funding a prospective project, we're just pointing out projects we found that we like. Please do your research before investing! Today's selection brings an underused technology, E-ink, to smartphone cases -- the InkCase Plus by Oaxis.
Monthly carrier promises 'unlimited' data, cheaper plans for users
Sky Communications has launched a new wireless provider, Sky Mobile, across the US. The new carrier offers several options for mobile users, with basic users still being able to purchase flip phones, while smartphone users are able to choose from devices from Apple, LG, Samsung, and Kyocera.
Rugged Kyocera Brigadier has sapphire glass display, dust and water resistance
Verizon has quietly launched two smartphones on its network, with both available to buy today. The LG G Vista is a previously-rumored 5.7-inch smartphone with a qHD resolution, while the Kyocera Brigadier is a ruggedized smartphone with a 4.5-inch 720p display, a screen which is unusually protected by a front panel made from sapphire glass.
Waterproofing, higher-resolution Duo Camera in Japan-specific HTC Butterfly J
A new version of the HTC One M8 for the Japanese market has been announced by local carrier KDDI. The HTC J Butterfly manages to hold on to the majority of the One M8's specifications, including its five-inch 1080p display, but stems down the same route as the One E8 in having a plastic body, with the Japan-specific smartphone also having a few more minor changes.
Letter from Chairman Wheeler asks Verizon to justify its network management
Last week, one of the largest mobile carriers in the United States announced it would begin throttling some unlimited accounts that access 4G LTE. Verizon stated that it would begin the effort in October, but it would be limited to only the top five percent of data users on unlimited plans. While the slowdown won't have an effect on all LTE customers, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler believes that the new policy is running afoul of several regulations.
Virgin Custom can limit data to specific services, can be changed mid-month
Sprint's prepaid cellular service Virgin Mobile is offering a new tariff which offers a high level of personalization to users. From a base plan, Virgin Custom users are able to pick and choose what parts of their plan can be adjusted throughout the month, including limiting the smartphone's data usage to accessing specific social networks or online services.
T-Mobile announces availability of Samsung Galaxy Avant for $9 per month
T-Mobile has announced its release of the new Samsung Galaxy Avant, available starting today. Promoted as part of its Uncarrier lineup, the Samsung Galaxy Avant features a quad-core 1.2 GHz processor, 1.5GB RAM, and a 4.5-inch qHD screen. The phone connects to T-Mobile's 4G LTE network, and is priced at $220, or $0 down and $9 a month for 24 months. The Simple Choice plan includes no traditional contract, no overages, no device financing fees, global roaming and the company's Music Freedom service.
Cortana available in beta for UK, Chinese markets, alpha in Canada, India, Australia
Microsoft has formally announced its upcoming update to Windows Phone 8.1, one it will be releasing to developers next week. The GDR1 update, leaked earlier this week, introduces a number of new features and other improvements to the mobile operating system, as well as expanding the beta program for the Cortana virtual assistant to five new countries after its initial United States launch.
Apple shows significant year-over-year growth while Samsung drops
On the release of its first set of statistics following last month's report of a two percent drop in Mac sales (that turned out to be a 16 percent gain), IDC has made the term "shipments" more prominent in its latest report on smartphone share worldwide. Although its reports have always been based on shipment data rather than on sales to end-users, the company emphasized the term in its latest set of numbers, and noted that both Apple and Samsung lost share to smaller Chinese smartphone makers.
Singapore, South America, New Zealand residents first users of Android app
Instagram has done a soft launch of its own ephemeral messaging service application, Bolt. Download links for the Android-only app are active for users in Singapore, South America, and New Zealand for users to start using the app, designed to send one-to-one video and photos between users as temporarily as possible, given the nature of the Internet.
Superman and Tesla Lumia smartphones said to have surfaced in internal Microsoft meeting
Two more smartphones may launch from Microsoft's phone division in the near future, according to a report. Two Windows Phone devices were allegedly revealed during an internal meeting chaired by Microsoft devices head Stephen Elop, with one smartphone described as a "selfie" device with a five-megapixel front-facing camera sensor above a 4.7-inch display.
Company turnaround underway, says CEO in wake of deal
At its annual BlackBerry summit, the beleagured smartphone manufacturer has announced a deal that will see it acquire Germany's Secusmart to enhance its own security offerings. BlackBerry CEO John Chen said of the deal that it "creates that much more distance between [BlackBerry] and competitors" in the battle for corporate and governmental business share.
App masquerading as Flash, others, can break Android sandboxing
Mobile device researchers Bluebox Security have discovered a serious flaw in Google's Android operating system that dates back to version 2.1, and is still present (albeit weakened) in the new 5.0 preview. The "Fake ID" security flaw allows a fake app to include an invalid security certificate, claiming that it is an app with sandbox-breaking privileges, in essence, giving the malicious app root access to the phone and all its contents.
Bid for sales ban against 23 copying Samsung products had been denied twice
Two years after the first Apple-Samsung patent trial, the big winner in that case -- Apple -- has dropped a motion to cross-appeal a portion of Judge Lucy Koh's final verdict. The action means that the company has officially given up hope of seeing any product bans on the 23 Samsung products found guilty of copying Apple technology, though the matter is largely moot as none of the products are still offered for sale anyway. Despite the clear victory in the jury trial, Judge Koh twice refused to issue sales injunctions on the infringing Samsung products.
Windows Phone version of HTC One M8 may have same specifications
HTC may be preparing to release a version of the One M8 smartphone running Windows Phone instead of Android, according to rumors. Report sources claim the smartphone producer will be returning to Windows Phone again, effectively re-purposing the One M8's hardware and accessories, with the device apparently said to be given the name HTC One W8.
Apple technology will be used by Swirl, Motorola Solutions to deploy in Canadian, US stores
HBC Department Store Group, which owns both the Lord & Taylor and Hudson's Bay department store chain, has announced it will be using indoor iBeacons leveraging Apple technology, manufactured by Motorola Solutions and powered by software from Swirl Networks across more than 130 of the corporation's stores in Canada and the US. The move follows in the footsteps of Macy's, which did a similar deployment of iBeacons last November in stores in New York City and San Francisco.
Software confirms Gear VR modular design, installs three apps for use including manager
On top of getting their hands on a render photo and a name for Samsung's upcoming virtual reality (VR) device earlier this month, Sammobile was able to spend some time with an early version of the software responsible for controlling the Gear VR. Called Gear VR Manager, the software shows off some of the basic usage features of the headset, along with the setup.
Dev Center notes on GDR1 outlines technical changes, options to enable smart covers
It appears that a list of technical and some minor consumer changes are coming for the GDR1 update of Windows Phone 8.1. While the information is currently only available to those with an account to Microsoft's Dev Center, data was obtained showing that some important changes are coming - including new resolution support, options to allow smart cases, and a few ease-of-use options.
Promotional T-Mobile plan said to be $60 cheaper than rival carrier equivalents
T-Mobile has unveiled a new promotional price plan, one which is taking aim directly at AT&T. In remarks against AT&T's "Best-Ever Pricing for Families" marketing, T-Mobile CEO John Legere relayed details of a plan effectively providing four lines on the carrier's Simple Choice shared price plan, complete with 10GB of LTE service, for $100 per month.
Larger but lower-resolution screen touted for LG G Vista compared to G3
A large-screened mid-ranged smartphone from LG is on the way to Verizon, according to reportedly leaked documents. Claimed to be called the LG G Vista, the smartphone appears to combine the specifications of the G3 Beat unveiled earlier this month with a device slightly bigger than the current flagship G3, albeit without the "Quad HD" display.
Popular torrent site launches easier to use mobile version, looks at new resilient sites
The Pirate Bay, a website linked to illegal torrent downloads, launched a new version of the site last week that aims to make the experience of using the service easier for mobile users. The new website, aptly named The Mobile Bay, revamps the design of the current website to make it friendlier to touch devices and easier to filter content.
Bill headed to oval office, with Obama willing to sign
In an unexpected move -- and avoiding a potential fight -- the House of Representatives has passed bill S517, aiming to make cellphone unlocking legal. The amended bill, passed by the Senate last week, was passed with no changes. A controversial clause of the bill previously passed by the House, prohibiting bulk unlocking by companies, was removed from the final passed version.
'Network optimization' should only hurt 5 percent of LTE userbase
Starting October 1, Verizon will begin throttling some of its "unlimited" LTE users, according to an official announcement. The carrier promises that only five percent of that group -- those using 4.7GB or more per month -- will be affected, and "only in places and at times when the network is experiencing high demand." Unlimited 3G access has been throttled in a similar manner for some time.
NYC commission unclear as to what requirements must be met for new drivers
Lyft has conceded many of its talking points to the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC), but in doing so has forged an agreement to commence operation. Pickups will commence today at 7PM in all five boroughs, but all drivers need to be licensed by the TLC prior to accepting customers. As part of the deal, Lyft will also need to shut down in Buffalo and Rochester to enhance insurance that it offers to riders and drivers.
Initial trial of bloatware removal from LG G3 could become permanent option
Verizon is said to be testing out an option to remove pre-installed applications from smartphones. Starting with the LG G3, the carrier will apparently give the option to remove "bloatware" apps which are either already installed beforehand or added to the smartphone as part of the initial activation process, a feature which could help users free up storage capacity.
System has days to go, and several thousand dollars is still needed
Historically, MacNN and Electronista have covered few, if any, in-progress crowd-sourced projects unless there was something unusual about them, like making 100x their goal. Starting this week, on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons we're going to look at crowd-funded projects that we find interesting. Keep in mind that we aren't specifically endorsing any projects, or telling you that there aren't any risks in funding a prospective project, we're just pointing out something we found that we like. Please do your research before investing! That all said, our inaugural crowd-sourced project this week comes to us from Kickstarter -- the Pond Wireless Charging device for iPhone 5/5s, Android and Windows.
E-book subscription service Oyster launches web and mobile web reader
Oyster, an e-book subscription service, has announced its launch of new web and mobile web readers. The expansion marks its second new platform in the past month (with the first launch specifically for Android users in June). Pages in the web reader will scroll smoothly from top to bottom, with five reader themes to select from. Oyster is partnered with over 1,600 publishers, and offers access to a diverse library for $10 per month.
Same processor, RAM, camera claimed to be used in Xperia Z3 as in Xperia Z2
The Sony Xperia Z3 has resurfaced again in rumors, this time with a list of alleged specifications. The rumored follow-up to the Xperia Z2 is said to have a 5.15-inch 1920x1080 display, marginally smaller than the predecessor's 5.2-inch version, and though it will apparently be a better smartphone, it appears the new device will only be a minor improvement overall.
Nokia Lumia 530 has four-inch display, $115 price tag
Microsoft has unveiled its first Lumia smartphone since it acquired Nokia's Devices and Services division. Still labeled under the Nokia branding, the Lumia 530 is an entry-level Windows Phone 8.1 smartphone with a four-inch, 854x480-resolution display and a low price point to help it compete against other competing low-specification devices running on Android.
Colorful iPhone model continues to be among best-selling smartphones
One of the most surprising things analysts heard on Tuesday in Apple's quarterly earnings conference call that was low on surprises was that year-over-year growth of the iPhone 5c is strong -- so strong, in fact, that its share gain outpaced that of its previous-year rival in the mid-tier "slot" in Apple's lineup, the iPhone 4S, at the same point in the previous cycle. In fact, Apple CEO Tim Cook told analysts that it even outpaced the growth rate of the iPhone 5s vs the iPhone 5, and the 4S versus the iPhone 4, each in their respective tiers.
Xiaomi Mi 4 has 5-inch 1080p display, claimed quick-charging battery
Chinese mobile device manufacturer Xiaomi has unveiled two new items for the Chinese market. The Xizomi Mi 4 continues the Mi device line with a 5-inch display and a hint of iPhone styling, while the Mi Band is a low-cost fitness band which can be used as a proximity security system for the smartphone, allowing the Mi 4 to automatically unlock when it is held in the same hand that is also wearing the band.
Front-facing speakers of Moto E shown in leaked Moto G2 photograph
Motorola may be preparing to launch an update to the Moto G, according to a leaked photograph and report. Aside from working on the Moto X+1, Motorola's follow-up to the Moto G could end up being a slight improvement on the original, with alleged specifications suggesting the 8-megapixel rear camera is the biggest upgrade for the entire smartphone.
Thin Gionee smartphone sacrifices specification for compact body
China could soon see the release of what may be the world's thinnest smartphone. A listing with Chinese regulator TENAA confirms an Android device from Gionee with the model number GN9005 is on the way, with its thickness of just 5mm (0.2 inches) being half a millimeter thinner than the company's own Elife S5.5, and two thirds of the thickness of the iPhone 5s.
Battery powered drive aims to boost mobile storage wirelessly
Regardless of how large a tablet you buy, you always want more space. There's always one more movie or another album you'd cram on, if only there was a little more room! A line of products has surfaced, which purport to expand the capacity of a tablet by offloading media and other documents to a wireless hard drive. Patriot has a device in the class, the Aero Wireless Mobile Drive. The concept is a really good idea, but how is the execution? Read our review and find out.
Does Patriot have the right formula for high quality backup batteries
Mobile device batteries are better than they used to be, but there's always a scenario where users could use more juice. Upgrade manufacturer Patriot has a solution -- it has a line of portable batteries intended for charging devices on-the-go, called the Fuel+. In theory, a booster battery is easy -- implement a battery, some ports, and a way to charge the battery, and done. In actuality, proper execution of an external battery is a bit more complex. Does Patriot have the balance right? Check our review to find out.
NT4600 chipset in partners' hands for testing, evaluation; 2015 ship date
Chip manufacturer Nitero, in conjunction with the Samsung Foundry, has announced the first Wi-Gig chipset for mobile. The NT4600 is the an 802.11ad chipset, based on 28nm HKMG LPP technology. Nitero is currently demonstrating the NT4600 to select partners and customers, and will start production shipments in 2015.
Microsoft's Android device-producing days may be over
As part of the Microsoft layoffs memo, CEO Satya Nadella has laid out the future of the Nokia X handset. The company now plans on releasing "select" Nokia X products to the Lumia line, running Windows. No statement has been made about the rest of the Android-based Nokia X line.
Mid-tier LG G3 Beat uses quad-core 1.2GHz processor, 8MP camera
LG has launched an alternative to the LG G3 with mid-ranged specifications and a potentially lower price tag. Rumored as the G3 Mini a few months ago, the G3 Beat downgrades the 5.5-inch 2560x1440 display of its stablemate for a 5-inch 1280x720 version, giving it a screen-to-body ratio of 74.1 percent, and though internal components have gone through similar changes, some of the G3's features make a reappearance.
Buyers can pick up accessories to augment phones with no money down
As previously reported, he US' fourth-largest carrier, T-Mobile, is extending its no-money-down 24-month Equipment Installment Program (EIP) to cover accessories the company also sells, such as speakers, chargers, headphones, and other items that range in price from $69 to $250. The idea behind the move is to get consumers who are buying a new smartphone or tablet to also purchase the accessories at the same time, since they can be added to the monthly payment that covers the hardware cost (separate from the cost of the service plan).
Linux gets better Chrome App Launcher
Google has issued Chrome 36 updates for Windows, Mac, Linux, and Android users. The new version is mostly a maintenance release, making stability, performance, and security fixes. It does however implement several cosmetic changes across desktop platforms, for instance improving rich notifications with a "flatter" look, and giving Incognito mode a new tab page (below) that's cleaner and easier to read. Likewise, the Chrome App Launcher for Linux has been revamped.
Disparate versions of the bill need to be combined before Presidential review
The US Senate has passed a controversial bill allowing customers to unlock off-contract cell phones. With a unanimous vote, the Senate's passage of the bill directs the Librarian of Congress, the authority for rulemaking for such matters, to "consider whether other wireless devices, like tablets, should [also] be eligible for unlocking." The bill has a ways to go before it reaches the President's desk, however. A similar bill, passed by the House of Representatives, needs to be reconciled with this version of the bill -- the House's version of the bill does not contain language allowing bulk unlocking by companies.
Plans start at $45 per month for contract free unlimited talk and modest data
Verizon announced on Tuesday that it will start offering LTE "4G" support to customers of its prepaid division, Allset, starting on Thursday, July 17. New customers can bring their own LTE-capable devices or purchase a handset through Verizon. The spin-off division supports any device that can use Verizon's CDMA-based network, and offers unlimited talk and text with 500MB of data for $45 per month, contract-free. Those who set up autopay will gain another 500MB of data per month for a total of 1GB.
Samsung takes second, third and fourth place, while iPhone 5c and 4S round out top six
Though it will not come as surprising news to industry watchers, a new report compiling sales channel data from 35 countries puts Apple, Samsung and China-based Xiaomi as the only three companies really selling smartphones. What may be surprising to some, however, is just how well the iPhone line is doing overall; in addition to the iPhone 5s being the clear winner as the top-selling model, the much-maligned iPhone 5c took fifth place, followed by the two-and-a-half-year-old iPhone 4S in sixth place.
Designed to save time wasted on incompatible content
Google has implemented a change to the way mobile search results are displayed, warning users if a website uses Adobe Flash. On devices running iOS or Android, results may now show a tag saying "Uses Flash. May not work on your device." Below this are links letting users "try anyway" or learn more about the problem.
Lumia Cyan adds Windows Phone 8.1, updates Nokia apps
Microsoft has started to roll out the Cyan software update for Lumia smartphones, bringing Windows Phone 8.1 to the smartphone range. At the same time, a report claims that some new Lumia devices being sold no longer give the option to set Google as the default search engine, restricting users to instead primarily search using Microsoft's own search engine, Bing.
Testing hardware for Project Ara modular smartphone shipping this month
Developers looking to get hold of components for Project Ara may start to receive hardware from Google in the near future. The company has opened itself up to requests for development boards for the modular smartphone, which will help hardware producers prototype and create modules before a commercial version of the device heads to market.
HighPoint launches LTO tape support for Thunderbolt 2 adapters, RAID HBAs
HighPoint Technologies has announced that its RocketStor 6328 Thunderbolt 2 RAID Adapaters and SAS 6GB per second RocketRAID 4500 Series HBAs now support LTO 5 and 6 tape drives. The new support allows customers to take advantage of its Dual Storage Modes solution-hardware RAID, SAS Expansion, SATA Port Multiplier, and LTO Tape drive devices can now be hosted simultaneously from a Thunderbolt 2 RAD Adapter, or 6GB per second SAS Hardware RAID HBA.
Leaked images show rounded edges on Sony Xperia Z3
The Sony Xperia Z3 has allegedly resurfaced in another round of reportedly-leaked images. The shots of the follow-up to the Xperia Z2 give an all-round view of the rumored smartphone, with one image comparing its physical size against the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 suggesting it to be just as tall a device, but will have a similar narrow display to its predecessor.