Apps  Music  2013-12-14 17:44:11

The facade of a Sprint store. They're still everywhere.Sprint is mulling a $20 billion-plus acquisition of T-Mobile US, if you believe the rumors. The potential acquisition, reported yesterday by the Wall Street Journal, would combine the current #3 and #4 wireless carriers (by revenue) in the U.S. The combined entity would still be #3, after Verizon and AT&T Wireless, but it would theoretically be in a stronger position to compete with its bigger rivals. The rumor was enough to send T-Mobile’s stock up by 8.6 percent yesterday, its biggest one-day jump in a year, Bloomberg reported. And it makes perfect sense … until you start considering the particulars. First of all, there are regulatory concerns. AT&T tried to buy T-Mobile less than two years ago, for $39 billion, and was ultimately shot down by the U.S. Justice Department. Justice’s concern: So much consolidation hurts competition, and that tends to drive up prices for consumers.  2013-12-13 17:32:54

A resurgent T-Mobile underpinned by aggressive pricing and a boisterous CEO, a new Sprint backed by hyper-fast data and a Japanese telecom giant, and the duopoly — AT&T and Verizon — up to its usual antics: just when it seemed like we'd finally reached some semblance of stability in the US wireless market, we hear the news from a Wall Street Journal report that Sprint may be ramping up to make a bid for T-Mobile. If the report holds water and Sprint elects to proceed, we could be in for an unexpectedly turbulent 2014 (and beyond) for the American wireless landscape, as regulators and executives spar over the viability and wisdom of allowing the United States' number three and four carriers to combine.  2013-12-13 10:09:59

Android cameras have continually lagged behind the iPhone in both image quality and performance. While Samsung has probably come the closest, it has never matched the image experts from Cupertino. Samsung is out to fix that, though, and is doing that in the most brute-force way possible: merging its mobile and camera divisions. The ETNews report, which was first spotted by The Verge, states that the merger happened yesterday, and the new division is up and running. Samsung Electronics was quoted as saying: We will transplant the brand, sales networks, software competency, and manufacturing competitiveness of the Wireless Business Division into the Camera Business Division and integrate the technical know-how of the two business divisions into competency for differentiating our smartphones. So the smartphone group will learn how to make better cameras from the camera group, and the camera group will learn world-domination techniques from the smartphone group.  2013-12-12 14:39:24

Five major US wireless carriers reached an agreement today on standardizing unlocking of cell phones and tablets. The group includes AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, and Verizon Wireless, which have all agreed on six policy decisions that cover both prepaid and postpaid unlocking. Those standards lay out specific times, practices, and eligibility requirements for device owners to get free unlocks. All are being wrapped into the CTIA's consumer code of conduct, which means other companies will have to adopt them within the next 12 months, if approved.  2013-12-12 08:00:46

San Francisco-based Fleksy has launched its in-app SDK integration for iOS via four new partners who implement the software in their own apps today. These include Launch Center Pro, Wordbox, GV Connect and BlindSquare, and were chosen from a number of potential partners to help Fleksy demonstrate the power and range of its virtual keyboard.Operating on iOS as a replacement for a default system component like the keyboard is not an easy task; Apple will not allow third-party devs to replace some system features like the keyboard, browser, messaging or calling app in the same way that users can do so on Android. Fleksy is attempting to get around this limitation by providing an SDK that third-party devs can use to build Fleksy into their own apps one at a time, in much the same way that Google makes it possible for devs to build in an option to have their software open links in Chrome on iOS.  2013-12-12 03:06:52

Some US orders of Motorola's Moto G are delayed due to severe weather conditions. As Android Central reports, Motorola is contacting affected customers individually to inform them of the delay. It appears that the hold-up hasn't affected everyone, as some have received their orders directly from Motorola, but several users that pre-ordered expecting their phones to arrive on the 4th have seen their delivery date pushed back to as far as the 17th. In a letter published by Android Central, Motorola explains and apologizes for the delay, before offering an upgrade to overnight delivery for free.  2013-12-11 09:51:16

Nokia’s Android phone won’t ever see the light of day, and for Microsoft, that’s a good thing. Confirming rumors that have been around for years, last night came the news that Nokia has been working on its own Android Phone. The device, known as the “Normandy,” is designed to be a low-cost alternative to Nokia’s low-end Asha line, and features, in the style of Amazon’s Kindle tablet, a forked version of Android. In other words, it’s the sort of device Nokia should have released years ago. (Except for the “forked” part, anyway.) One thing, however, stands in the way of Nokia’s Android ambitions: Microsoft, which shelled out $7.2 billion billion for Nokia’s devices and services business. Despite that, though, development of the Android device is, to quote a source, going “full speed ahead.”  2013-12-11 07:36:53

Microsoft is considering making Windows Phone and Windows RT available free of charge to device makers. Sources familiar with Microsoft’s plans have revealed to The Verge that free future versions are under serious consideration by OS chief Terry Myerson. We understand the plans aren’t fully set in stone, but they’re part of broader changes Myerson is planning for the future of Windows. Microsoft is currently planning and developing future updates, including a "Threshold" update that’s designed to bring back the Start menu and provide more flexibility for desktop users.We’re told that the free versions of Windows RT and Windows Phone would likely be delivered with the Threshold range of updates.  2013-12-10 18:50:59

Canonical's Ubuntu Touch operating system will be headed to mobile phones made by a mystery hardware manufacturer, the company said today. Speaking to CNET, founder Mark Shuttleworth said Canonical's made an agreement with an unnamed smartphone maker to get the operating system on "high-end" phones sometime next year. If this sounds like broken record, you're not mistaken. Back in January, Canonical promised devices running a standalone version of Ubuntu by early next year, a goal that went off track when crowdfunding for the company's Edge smartphone hardware missed badly.  2013-12-10 13:31:43

LG on Tuesday announced the Google Play version of its G Pad 8.3 tablet, which it said will sell for $349 via Google’s online store.Google also said it will start selling an unlocked Google Play version of the 6.4-inch Sony Z Ultra phablet for $649.The devices aren’t quite Nexus products like the LG-made Nexus 5 phone or Asus-made Nexus 7 tablet, but they do represent an option to get the pure Google experience and likely a quick upgrade to future updates of the operating system.“LG’s working relationship with Google has always been strong and our collaboration on the first-ever Google Play Edition tablet is proof of that commitment,” LG mobile unit head Jong-seok Park said in a statement.Google already sells Google Play versions of the HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S4.The Wi-Fi tablet packs the latest KitKat version of Android along with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 chip, 16GB of storage and front and rear cameras along with an 8.3-inch display.  2013-12-14 05:58:00

Microsoft is still testing its upcoming Windows Phone 8.1 update internally, but a leaked screenshot reveals how the company is moving to onscreen buttons in future. The tiny image, published by @evleaks, shows the standard back, Windows, and search buttons all onscreen in a Windows Phone 8.1 screenshot. The Verge previously detailed how Microsoft is testing these virtual buttons as a replacement for devices without physical buttons. We have mocked up how the onscreen buttons are displayed alongside the Windows Phone 8.1 Start Screen in an image below.  2013-12-13 11:19:20

While it is ready to concede that the time isn’t right to crack the U.S. cellular network gear market, Huawei still wants to make a name for itself in the market for smartphones.Globally, the Chinese firm sells a range of smartphones, including plenty in the middle and higher ends of the market. In the U.S., though, it has struggled to move beyond entry-level devices, mostly for prepaid carriers such as Cricket’s Leap and T-Mobile’s MetroPCS.“What is stopping us is we don’t have strength of brand at the high end,” said Executive VP Colin Giles, who joined Huawei in July after spending more than a decade running Nokia’s operations in China.The company has tried efforts such as sponsorships and movie tie-ins, but Giles said that changing the perception of the company will take time, and will require a sustained investment.“If you are serious about the U.S., you need to commit on marketing,” Giles said in an interview on Thursday.  2013-12-13 05:05:36

Apple’s latest iPhones are topping the charts at U.S. carriers.That’s the latest from Canaccord Genuity analyst T. Michael Walkley, who says that the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c have been among the top three sellers at all four major U.S. carriers during the past three months.“Our surveys indicated continued strong sales of the iPhone 5s, as it was by far the top selling smartphone at all four tier-1 U.S. carriers and at most channels where the smartphone launched globally,” Walkley explained in a note to clients. “Our surveys also indicated steady iPhone 5c sales with the smartphone’s color options and more affordable price point proving popular with its intended audience.”Prior to the launch of the iPhone 5s and 5c, the iPhone 5 was Apple’s sole Top 3 entrant at the big four carriers, and it held the top spot at AT&T alone; it was the second-most popular handset at Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile, where Samsung’s Galaxy S4 led the pack.  2013-12-12 13:52:16

The Federal Communications Commission and the major cell phone carriers on Thursday announced they have reached an agreement on several principles designed to make it easier for consumers to unlock their cell phones.The deal calls for carriers to be clear about their policies, allow customers to unlock their phones once the terms of their contract have been fulfilled (or by no later than one year for prepaid phones) and for carriers to either automatically unlock the phones or notify customers when they are eligible for unlocking. The carriers also agree to unlock eligible phones within two days and to unlock phones for military personnel who are deployed overseas.That said, being able to unlock a phone doesn’t mean that it will work on another carrier’s network if it hasn’t been created to work on multiple carriers’ networks–so that’s still something consumers should pay attention to as they buy their phones.  2013-12-12 07:00:20

The Alliance for Wireless Power — one of three competing standards efforts in the wireless-changing market — is adopting a new consumer brand name as it nears the market with the first products.While the group will keep the A4WP name for its membership, products that support the standard will carry the Rezence brand name, along with a new logo that resembles a Z with a lightning bolt.The A4WP is the last of the three major efforts to see compatible products come to market, with the Power Matters Alliance and Wireless Power Consortium already having at least initial products on the market. However, the A4WP uses a resonant-charging approach that allows for multiple devices to be charged in a single space, something the other standards bodies are now working to in the next version of their specification.  2013-12-11 16:51:56

T-Mobile COO Jim Alling doesn’t think so highly of strategies implemented by his company’s rival earlier this year.Alling, speaking at an investor conference today, took a few swings at AT&T and specifically the carrier’s upgrade program, “Next.”AT&T unveiled the device upgrade and payment plan this summer, which came after T-Mobile’s announced its own previous pricing and upgrade changes through the “Jump” program.Alling said that AT&T, which just made a few changes to the “Next,” pricing plans last week, said that the original deal offered by AT&T was a “ripoff,” reported Fierce Wireless.While both plans allow customers to upgrade their devices more frequently, T-Mobile’s JUMP requires a monthly program fee — which includes insurance coverage — and AT&T does not. However, T-Mobile lowered its monthly service payments rates to compensate for the removal of phone subsidies.  2013-12-11 09:16:38

The rumors were already doing the rounds, but Spotify’s Daniel Ek officially revealed full details of its big launch at a press gathering in New York and London today. And yes, it involves ‘mobile‘ and ‘gratis‘ – but with a small twist.Last week, reports suggested that Spotify would be unveiling a new free version specifically for mobile, with licensing deals already inked with major recording companies. Thus far, Spotify has required users to sign up for a premium subscription to get the full ad-free version of the music-streaming service – and to access it on mobile phones and tablets.With today’s news out of the bag, however, Spotify revealed that a free service will now include mobile phones and tablets, but it will involve shuffle mode only on phones – so it will be a radio-like experience where you don’t have full control over the order of play.Basically, you can shuffle your own music, all the playlists you’ve created and playlists from people you follow.  2013-12-11 05:03:23

So is Nokia really working on an Android-based phone and would Microsoft really go ahead with such a device?The answer to the first one is definitely yes, and, surprisingly, the answer to the second question may be yes as well.@evleaksNokia’s low-end mobile phone unit has been working for some time on an effort that goes alternatively by the names Normandy and AoL (Asha on Linux). Normandy aims to repurpose the open-source version of Android into a better entry-level smartphone than Nokia has had with its current Asha line, which is based on the aging Series 40 operating system.As reported by the Verge and also confirmed to AllThingsD by sources at the Finnish phone maker, the Normandy project has survived despite Nokia’s plan to sell both its Windows Phone unit and the low-end mobile phone business to Microsoft.  2013-12-10 14:41:09

Hot on the heels of the news about a Google Play Edition of the LG G Pad 8.3, Google has released a Play Edition of the Sony Z Ultra on the Play Store. Google Play Edition (GPE) devices are sold unlocked and contract free and run stock Android instead of the OEM's skinned version of Android. Google handles the OS updates, and the track record for updating has been great lately (relatively speaking), with GPE devices getting updates only a month after the release of a new Android version. The Sony Z Ultra is a massive device—one of the world's biggest smartphones—coming in at just over seven inches long. It has a 1920x1080 6.4 inch display, 2.2GHz Snapdragon 800 processor, 2GB of RAM, 16GB of storage, MicroSD/XC slot, and a 3,000mAh battery. Like all GPE devices, the Z Ultra runs Android 4.4, KitKat. The Z Ultra is compatible with AT&T and T-Mobile, and as an added bonus, it's waterproof. The ridiculously huge smartphone will cost $649.99 and ships in one to two days.  2013-12-10 06:28:30

Apple has received a patent for curved touchscreens and displays, according to AppleInsider, which describes a system for making curved touch sensitive glass. The method patented by Apple is designed to create a curved screen surface that remains touch sensitive without deforming or distorting the image the display would produce, and would be able to be used in displays, touch-sensitive mice (like the current Magic Mouse) touch pads and other devices.Apple’s tech differs from some currently used curved glass techniques because often the substrate that adds touch sensitivity to a device is flat, regardless of whether the glass panel that covers it is curved, which means that touch sensitivity suffers, since sometimes a person’s finger is actually further away from the touch panel than it might appear, or than in a traditional, non-curved device.The patent includes a method for doing a screen with variations in the curvature of the surface, too.

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