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Google And Microsoft Resolve Patent Disputes

Google HQ

After over 5 years, Google and Microsoft have come to an agreement to resolve most of their nearly 20 patent-related lawsuits against each other. These lawsuits were mainly in the United States and Germany, and disputes will be resolved in both countries. According to Bloomberg:

“The companies pledged in a statement to work together in other ways related to intellectual property, including development of a royalty-free, video-compression technology to speed downloads, in an initiative that also involves Amazon.com Inc. and Netflix Inc. They will also lobby for specific rules on a unified patent system throughout Europe.”

The lawsuits started happening in 2010 when Microsoft accused Google of using some its technologies in Android. Motorola had also been demanding that Microsoft pay royalties for their patents for usage in the Xbox. Hopefully with the litigation resolved, hopefully these two companies will cooperate more in the future.

Source: Bloomberg via Android Central

Microsoft Is Bringing Cortana To Android and iOS

In a move that was expected for some time, Microsoft has officially announced that they are bringing their virtual assistant Cortana to both Android and iOS devices. This makes it the first virtual assistant to bridge the gap on all three platforms.

Microsoft says that their new “Phone Companion” app will help users of all three operating systems use their devices with a Windows 10 PC to the most it can, and this includes Cortana. When you launch the app, you select your phone’s operating system and it will recommend apps that are available for that platform.

“The ‘Phone Companion’ app on the PC will help you install the Cortana app from the Google Play or Apple App Store onto your phone so you’ll be able to take the intelligence of Cortana with you, wherever you go. The Cortana app can do most of the things Cortana does on your PC or on a Windows phone. You can have Cortana remind you to pick up milk the next time you’re at the grocery store, and then your phone will wake up and buzz with the reminder. You’ll be able to track a flight using Cortana on both your phone and your PC, and get the updates on the device that you’re on so you don’t miss anything. Everything in Cortana’s Notebook will show up across all your devices and any changes you make on one device will be reflected when you use Cortana on any of your other devices. The Cortana companion app will help you complete tasks you begin on your PC wherever you are, on your phone.”

However, Microsoft says that not all Cortana features will be coming to other platforms:

“Some features require access to the system that aren’t currently possible with iOS or Android, so things like toggling settings or opening apps won’t initially be available in the Cortana companions for those platforms. Similarly, the ability to invoke Cortana hands-free by saying “Hey Cortana” requires special integration with the device’s microphone, so that feature will be limited to Windows Phones and PCs.”

So while it is not the same exact Cortana as on Windows Phone or Windows on the desktop, it will be a very good competitor to Google Now. Cortana will be arriving in both the Google Play Store and the App Store sometime in June. Time will tell if people download and use it.

Source: Microsoft via Android Central

Microsoft could allow running of Android apps on Windows 10

Windows 10

Windows 10

According to a new report, Microsoft could be looking to make a radical change to its policies by allowing Android apps to run on its upcoming Windows 10 platform. This decision could be taking given the lack of quality apps on the Windows platform.

But as most of us know, Windows 10 is expected to introduce an all new app platform with new content from developers. But clearly, Microsoft wants to ensure that no stone is left unturned in making Windows 10 a success.

We must note that Microsoft hasn’t confirmed this as of yet, so we’ll wait for more word from the company. It is said that the company could make an announcement as early as today, so we probably don’t have a lot of waiting to do. The Windows 10 platform will come across as a more attractive proposition to prospective buyers if Android apps are enabled on the platform.

We’ve seen BlackBerry trying this out as well and it has worked quite well for them. It will be interesting to see how Microsoft approaches this, assuming the report is true.

Source: Thurrott

Via: Phone Arena

On February 11, All Four Major Carriers Will Allow Phones To Be Unlocked

major us carriers

Typically when you purchase a smartphone or tablet from a specific carrier, it is locked to that network for the lifetime of your contract, or possibly for the life of the device. Certain carriers had policies, but there was no one standard. Last year Congress and the President made it illegal for carriers to lock devices to their network. In the wake of that decision, the CTIA (the interest group for the carriers) called for a meeting of the carriers to discuss unlocking and starting February 11th, unlocking will be far easier. The FCC has outlined every single change in their own document, but this is a condensed version of that document to make it easier to understand.

What does this version of “unlocked” truly mean.

  • The CTIA is implying that the type of unlock is a true SIM card unlocking, so you will be able to take your unlocked device and stick any SIM card into it and it should work on the other networks. While Verizon sold devices unlocked and AT&T and T-Mobile let you unlock your device and the end of your 2-year contract or payment plan, Sprint only was able to unlock devices for overseas use. Now they are required to also fully unlock devices domestically, albeit with one catch. If a phone was launched on Sprint before February 11th, it will still only be able to be unlocked for international use. No domestic lock will be available for phones from before February 11th onto any carrier.

Where are the individual carriers’ unlocking policies?

Will I be able to unlock my phone immediately on February 11th?

  • In a short answer, no. For a long answer, your contract term will have to be completed or your installment plan (this includes AT&T Next, Verizon Edge, T-Mobile JUMP, Sprint Easy Pay) will have to be paid off. If the phone was bought for a subsidized price, your 2-year agreement will either have to be completed or you terminate the contract and pay an early termination fee (ETF). If you are eligible, you will have to wait 48 hours for the carriers to complete your request.

When will I know when I can unlock my phone?

  • The new policy states that carriers will have to provide notice to consumer when a phone is eligible to be unlocked in a “clear” way. The language is unclear and some carriers dislike having to provide notice to their customers that they do not have to be with them anymore, but once this policy is in effect we should start seeing what that means from customers either emerging from their contract or paying it off. If you are a prepaid subscriber, a carrier only is required to tell you when the phone can be unlocked when you purchase it, with no further notices required. So if you are a prepaid customer, maybe mark it in your calendar with a reminder at the time of sale.

Can I unlock my phone before the required commitment without paying an ETF?

  • It depends on the situation, but a carrier might unlock your device if you are in good standing, are a business customer, or any other reason, such as being a veteran. But if the carrier will not unlock your device, there are numerous services online that will do that for you, for GSM (AT&T and T-Mobile) carrier-branded phones. Costs can range anywhere from $10 to north of $100 per the device and carrier. Sprint and Verizon services are available, but they are much harder to find. And before you purchase an unlock from one of these vendors, make sure they are reliable first.

If I do nothing until my phone is eligible, will it unlock automatically?

  • So far, only Sprint has said that they will automatically unlock phones once the contract or installment plan has been fulfilled (if the phone was sold after February 2015). All other major carriers require customers to request their device being unlocked. Some Verizon devices are SIM unlocked when purchased, but those that aren’t will need to be unlocked by the carrier. All AT&T, T-Mobile, and US Cellular devices require a request from the carrier to be unlocked, but T-Mobile ships an app on their newer phones to request an unlock. This is by far the easiest method, as it requires just the push of a button, instead of AT&T, who requires a form to be submitted.

If I unlock my phone, will I be charged?

  • If you are not a customer of the carrier that the phone is unlocked to, then yes. A carrier may charge a “reasonable” fee to unlock the device. The carriers haven’t revealed prices for that yet, nor have they confirmed that they will charge at all, so we’ll have to wait and see. But no matter if you are charged or not charged, all eligible devices are required to be unlocked. So if you purchased an AT&T phone for use on T-Mobile, as long as the payments were fulfilled and the device has a good IMEI, it will be unlocked.

What is the policy for prepaid customers?

  • All of the major prepaid carriers are part of this policy as well. This includes AT&T GoPhone, T-Mobile Prepaid, MetroPCS, Verizon Prepaid,  Mobile, Boost Mobile, and Sprint Prepaid. The requirements are different however. Phones bought on prepaid must be unlockable after 1 year from purchase date, but carriers can add requirements that the phone was used with a paid account during the duration. The requirements must be “reasonable,” but that’s as detailed as they get.

What carrier should I go with if I want the best unlocking policy?

  • Verizon, actually. Almost all of the modern smartphones are unlocked out of the box and work with various GSM carriers around the world, even with AT&T and T-Mobile (though due to any band differences, the phone might not work as well on other networks).

What carrier has the worst unlocking policy?

  • The offender here is AT&T. You must submit an online request to unlock your device with a phone number, IMEI number, the account holder’s first and last name, the last 4 digits of your social security number, your AT&T account password, your email, home address, and fill out a captcha.

Can I use [A phone] on [B network]?

  • For 3G and possibly HSPA+, yes. With LTE it gets trickier. With 3G, almost every phone sold on the carriers is interoperable with each other, even with Sprint. If you are taking an off-network phone from one carrier to another, the highest likely answer is “no”, except for the recent iPhones and the Nexus 6. Though those still won’t work on Sprint however. For LTE, very little of the carriers share the same LTE bands, so cross-compatibility might not be possible. All four of the big carriers share 1900MHz PCS (Band 2), but this all depends on your geographic area. T-Mobile and Verizon share the 1700f Band 4 network, so that should work too, if it’s in your area. Another issue is that AT&T and T-Mobile phones don’t generally work on Verizon or Sprint (aside from the Nexus 6 and recent iPhones) because those carriers still require CDMA support on their devices.

What is the best phone for switching between carriers domestically or internationally?

  • If you are switching domestically, the Nexus 6 is by far the best device. It will work on all of the carriers’ different networks out of the box, which the iPhone 6 still can’t do. For international travelers, there isn’t a great selection if you’re using a domestic device internationally. There are almost no LTE roaming agreements on any carriers except AT&T. However, most Android smartphones have the capability of using the most popular frequencies around the world. But if you want the best LTE, you’re going to have to use AT&T. So once again, the Nexus 6 is still your best bet.

That is the majority of the changes that are coming with this new unlocking policy. If you have any questions, feel free to comment below and ask. Again, the new rules for unlocking go into effect starting February 11th.

Source: FCC via Android Police

Google Now comes out on top against Siri and Cortana in a massive question test

Google Now Cortana Siri

Google Now Cortana Siri

There have been innumerable comparisons between Siri and Google Now in the past. But with the recent arrival of Cortana for Windows Phone, the game has changed somewhat. And with iOS receiving a major refresh with iOS 8, it’s only fair to assume that things have changed substantially.

And the folks at Stone Temple Consulting have now tested the three voice assistants in a massive voice questions test where over 3,000 queries were asked to see which one comes out on top. And unsurprisingly, Google Now commands has excelled by a long margin with Siri coming in at a distant second and Cortana rounding off the third spot. The nature of the questions asked were diverse, ranging from “what did the fox say” to “how tall is the Mount Everest”.

You can check the brief excerpt of the results in the video below. The full results have been published on Stone Temple Consulting’s homepage. Google Now was unveiled after Siri, but has still managed to take the crown as the best mobile voice assistant going around. Cortana is still new to the scene and has some catching up to do, although it’s pretty decent for a relatively new voice assistant.

Source: Stone Temple

Via: 9to5Google

Skype Will Soon Make It So Notifications Only Appear On Active Devices

skype-app

There are always apps that will notify you that something is happening on multiple devices, even when you’re just using one at the time. But soon Skype will not be on that list. Skype has announced a new feature for their app they call “active endpoint” which will contain chat notifications to only the device you’re currently using, rather than every device you have that has Skype installed. So if you’re on your phone, your tablet and computer will not show notifications. From Skype’s blog:

If you are signed in to Skype on multiple devices (a laptop, tablet and a smartphone) and you are sending chat messages to a group of friends from your tablet. Skype will only send new message notifications to your tablet and not to any of your other devices. All of your other devices will remain blissfully silent.  You can continue to focus on the most important thing, your conversations, without being disturbed by the bleeping and buzzing from all of your other devices.”

Skype also says that if you stop actively using the app, all your devices will receive chat notifications again. Chat history will also continue to sync between devices, so you don’t have to worry about some chats only being on certain devices. Calls are unaffected by the new notification system, so if you get a call it will ring on all your devices.

Skype says the new feature is going to roll out to all users over the next few weeks, as long as they are using the current version of the app. Does this update help reduce notification fatigue for you?

Source: Skype via Android Central

Motorola Introduces The Moto Stream

moto-stream

 

Even in the midst of their sale from Google to Lenovo, Motorola is still making awesome things. Today they’ve introduced the Moto Stream, a little device that can make any speaker wireless.

At first glance, the Moto Stream may remind you of the ill-fated Nexus Q from Google a few years ago. Of course, that device was very expensive (US$300) and not very intuitive.  The Moto Stream is very different, from its price to its design, and more.

The Moto Stream allows and speaker that isn’t wireless to have that feature through either Bluetooth 3.0 or NFC. You just connect the Moto Stream to your speakers through the included 3.5 mm to RCA adapter or a 3.5 mm to 3.5 mm cable as well. Only the RCA cable is included though.

Once you connect the Moto Stream to your speakers, all you have to do is connect to it either via Bluetooth pairing or NFC on compatible devices. Up to five Bluetooth devices can be connected at once and any of them can change the currently playing song anytime.

And the Moto Stream is compatible with Android devices, iOS devices, and even computers. The range for Bluetooth is up to 300 feet, so you can make sure you can change the song. And it’s only $50.

Yes, it’s only $50 for this device. That’s quite a bargain, since you won’t have to purchase new speakers just to make them wireless. It’s available right now from Motorola’s website or starting June 6th at Radioshack. Will you be getting one?

Source: Motorola

Samsung Galaxy Note Pro 12.2 vs Microsoft Surface Pro 3 vs Apple iPad Air – Specs comparison

Ooh, an interspecies specs duel. That’s bound to get interesting. And controversial. Yeah, I said it, acknowledged it and won’t be looking to deny it. I stirred up the hornet’s nest to start a debate. The age-old debate.

Galaxy Note Pro vs iPad Air

Has Android matured enough to take on iOS and Windows Pro when talking utility tools rather than “toys”? Will Microsoft ever learn it’s tough, nay outright impossible to beat Apple at their own game? Can a little fellow like the iPad Air fend off the gargantuan Surface Pro 3 and Galaxy Note Pro 12.2 threats by itself or does it need backup from MacBook Airs or maybe iPad Pros if they’ll ever be a thing?

Clearly, those questions are a wee bit complex for a humble specs comparison to settle them all. But again, I only intend to set up a discussion. Here we go:

Note Pro 12.2 vs Surface Pro 3 vs iPad Air – design, build quality and form factor comparison

Design has nothing to do with operating systems and “ecosystems”, so theoretically, our three contenders enter the arena on even ground. Obviously, the latest 9.7-inch iPad has the portability and sleekness edge, thanks to its smaller footprint, whereas the Surface Pro 3 wins the versatility fight with ease, courtesy of a whole roster of optional accessories, keyboard docks and whatnot.

Surface Pro 3

As a standalone tablet, Microsoft’s newest spearhead is a major aesthetical evolution from previous models, yet still heavier, thicker and bulkier than the largest Galaxy Note. Namely, 45 grams heavier and 1 mm thicker. Does that translate into superior robustness maybe? Not exactly.

Sure, Surface Pro 3’s exterior is covered in brushed metal, but Note Pro’s plastic chassis is actually not as chintzy as you imagine. Ultimately, the iPad Air is both smoother and more elegant than the two, with its premium aluminum construction and incredibly slim 7.5 mm waist. Hate to admit it, but Apple remains the kind of ergonomic design.

Display face-off

Now here’s where things get really, really interesting. In their attempt to find unique identities for their iPad rivals, MS and Sammy have delivered two super-crisp, “Retina”-grade screens with slightly different pixel counts and aspect ratios.

ipad-air-display

The iPad Air, as I’m sure you all know, sports a 9.7-inch IPS LCD panel with 2,048 x 1,536 pix res, 264 ppi and 4:3 aspect ratio. Meanwhile, Note Pro’s 16:10 display marginally lowers the ppi ante to 247 on a 2,560 x 1,600 resolution, and the Surface Pro 3 comes with its own 3:2 aspect ratio, 2,160 x 1,440 res and 216 ppi pixel density.

Guess you’ll need to take all three of these babies for a spin before proclaiming a winner, eh? Personally, I’m no fan of 16:9 (or 16:10) panels. But Note Pro’s extra screen real estate compared to the iPad Air shouldn’t be overlooked. The Surface Pro 3? It’s a solid contender, no doubt about that, yet at the end of the day, it comes up a little short in ppi.

Processing speed, RAM and storage

Look, there’s really no comparing Intel Core i5 or i7 “Haswell” chips with homebrewed Apple A7s or Qualcomm-made Snapdragon 800s in raw performance. The top-of-the-line Haswells trump the competition any day of the week, particularly when paired with 8 GB of RAM.

Surface Pro 3 Intel

Remember, the iPad Air has a measly 1 gig of random-access memory in tow, and the Note 12.2 caps off at 3 GB. Making matters worse for Surface Pro 3’s opponents, Microsoft fitted state-of-the-art humongous 256 and 512 GB SSDs on the tab’s top configs. Meanwhile, the iPad Air supports up to 128 GB of storage, and the Note Pro a pithy 64 internal.

But pitting the highest-end, costliest Surface Pro 3 against the 64 GB Note Pro 12.2 is an apples-and-oranges comparison. I mean, one is nearly 2,000 bucks, and the other $750. Even the most expensive iPad Air is less than half of the 512 GB Surface Pro 3’s price, so yeah, MS has the zippiest, baddest machine, but boy, is it overpriced.

iPad-Air

Alternatively, you can score the Core i3-powered new Surface at $799, which also features a 64 GB solid-state drive and 4 GB RAM. But in that case, maybe the 128 GB iPad Air is a better choice, despite its scanty RAM. Oh, decisions, decisions.

Software and battery life comparison

I already admitted to stirring up the hornet’s nest, yet I don’t plan on spending a lot of time surrounded by them angry hornets. It’s obvious each OS has its advantages and flaws. Windows 8.1 fits workaholics perfectly, iOS 7 is the optimal playground, and Android 4.4 KitKat is, well, trying to catch up.

samsung-galaxy-note-pro

Honest to God, Google’s really going the extra mile in optimizing content for tablets, and soon, you’ll be able to notice. Right now though, I’m afraid us Android junkies have to bow to Windows fanatics and their productivity-focused platform and Apple fanboys and their rich, diverse, lighthearted, easy to understand, easy to master ecosystem.

Battery life? That’s a touchy subject, as usual when talking a barely announced, unreleased product. But if you’ll allow me to go on a hunch, I predict the Surface Pro 3 will offer less juice than both the Note Pro 12.2 and iPad Air. By a whisker, but less.

Galaxy Note Pro back

As for the two, they’re essentially tied autonomy-wise, with roughly 10 hours of continuous use on a single charge.

Accessories, cameras, connectivity, ports and wrap-up

Aside from superior processing speed, the Surface Pro 3 clearly has one more big ace up its sleeve – a multitude of accessories. For one thing, it comes standard with a stylus and built-in kickstand. Then you have all the Type Covers and desktop docking stations.

surface-pro-3-type-covers

The Note Pro only retaliates with an S Pen, whereas the iPad Air has exactly zero to offer in this department. Cameras? First of all, who cares? Secondly, if you do care, then the Note Pro is your guy, with 8 MP and 2 MP shooters.

The iPad Air comes in second, thanks to a solid 5 MP rear cam with autofocus and everything, and the Surface Pro 3 impresses with its 5 MP front cam, but disappoints with a 5 MP main photographic unit lacking autofocus and flash.

samsung_galaxy_notepro_12.2

Finally, I’d rather not pick a victor in connectivity, since all three bad boys support 4G LTE, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0. The Surface Pro 3 is however the only one with full-sized USB ports, and the iPad Air has no card slot whatsoever.

All things told, I guess the Surface Pro 3 is more laptop than tablet, so maybe comparing it with the iPad Air and Samsung Galaxy Note Pro 12.2 wasn’t very fair in the first place. Still, the two came out of the uneven fight pretty clean and honorable, so choosing an overall winner is tough. Anyone care to help me out of my pickle? Much obliged.

Verizon XLTE Officially Announced

verizon-xlte

 

After rumors of Verizon introducing XLTE popped up last week, it’s now official. XLTE is actually Verizon’s AWS spectrum, which allows them to have more bandwidth available for customers to get faster data speeds on their devices.

Of course, you need a compatible device to take advantage of the new network. It looks like you’ll need a device from either 2013 or 2014, so if you’ve upgraded in the last year you are probably set:

Phones:

  • Moto X
  • DROID ULTRA
  • DROID MAXX
  • DROID MINI
  • HTC One (M8)
  • HTC One Max
  • LG G2
  • LG Lucid 3
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 3
  • Samsung Galaxy Galaxy S5
  • Samsung Galaxy S4
  • Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini
  • Samsung ATIV SE
  • Nokia Lumia Icon
  • Blackberry Q10
  • Blackberry Z30
  • iPhone 5C
  • iPhone 5S

Tablets

  • iPad Air
  • iPad Mini Retina
  • LG G Pad
  • Samsung Note 10.1
  • Samsung Galaxy Note Pro

Hotspots/Modems/Jetpacks

  • UML295 USB Modem
  • Jetpack MHS291L
  • Jetpack Mifi5510L

As you can see, there are a lot of devices that can take advantage of the new network. XLTE is in many different states across the country, covering mostly metro areas:

Alabama

  • Birmingham
  • Decatur
  • Florence
  • Mobile
  • Montgomery
  • Tuscaloosa

Arizona

  • Flagstaff
  • Phoenix
  • Prescott
  • Tucson

Arkansas

  • El Dorado-Magnolia
  • Fayetteville-Springdale
  • Fort Smith
  • Hot Springs
  • Jonesboro
  • Little Rock
  • Russellville

California

  • Bakersfield
  • Chico-Oroville
  • Fresno
  • Los Angeles
  • Merced
  • Modesto
  • Redding
  • Sacramento
  • San Diego
  • San Francisco – Oakland – San Jose
  • San Luis Obispo
  • Santa Barbara
  • Stockton
  • Visalia-Porterville
  • Yuba City-Marysville

Colorado

  • Colorado Springs
  • Denver
  • Fort Collins
  • Greeley
  • Pueblo

Connecticut

  • Greater Fairfield and New Haven
  • Hartford
  • New London County

Delaware

  • Dover
  • Fort Myers
  • Fort Pierce-Vero Beach

District of Columbia

  • Washington DC

Florida

  • Beach
  • Gainesville
  • Lakeland-Winter Haven
  • Melbourne-Titusville
  • Miami-Ft. Lauderdale
  • Orlando
  • Pensacola
  • Sarasota-Bradenton
  • Tallahassee
  • Tampa-St. Petersburg
  • West Palm Beach

Georgia

  • Athens
  • Atlanta
  • Augusta
  • Columbus

Hawaii

  • Honolulu
  • Kahului-Wailuku

Illinois

  • Bloomington
  • Carbondale
  • Champaign-Urbana
  • Chicago
  • Danville
  • Decatur-Effingham
  • Kankakee
  • La Salle-Peru-Ottawa
  • Mattoon
  • Peoria
  • Rockford
  • Springfield

Indiana

  • Anderson
  • Bloomington-Bedford
  • Columbus
  • Elkhart
  • Evansville
  • Indianapolis
  • Kokomo-Logansport
  • Lafayette
  • Marion
  • Richmond
  • South Bend-Mishawaka
  • Terre Haute
  • Vincennes-Washington

Iowa

  • Cedar Rapids
  • Des Moines
  • Sioux City
  • Blackfoot
  • Burley
  • Pocatello

Kansas

  • Dodge City
  • Garden City
  • Hays
  • Manhattan-Junction City
  • McPherson
  • Salina
  • Topeka
  • Wichita

Kentucky

  • Lexington
  • Louisville
  • Louisiana
  • Baton Rouge
  • Lake Charles
  • Monroe
  • New Orleans
  • Shreveport

Maryland

  • Baltimore
  • Salisbury

Massachusetts

  • Boston
  • Hyannis-Mid-Cape
  • Pittsfield
  • Springfield
  • Worcester-Fitchburg

Michigan

  • Benton Harbor
  • Detroit
  • Flint
  • Grand Rapids
  • Houghton
  • Lansing

Minnesota

  • Bemidji
  • Brainerd
  • Duluth
  • Fergus Falls-Alexandria
  • Minneapolis-St. Paul
  • Rochester
  • St. Cloud

Missouri

  • Jefferson City
  • Kansas City
  • St. Joseph

Montana

  • Billings

Nebraska

  • Grand Island-Kearney
  • Lincoln
  • North Platte
  • Omaha
  • Scottsbluff

Nevada

  • Las Vegas
  • Reno

New Hampshire

  • Manchester-Nashua

New Jersey

  • Atlantic City

New Mexico

  • Albuquerque
  • Santa Fe

New York

  • Albany
  • Binghamton
  • Buffalo
  • Elmira-Corning-Hornell
  • Ithaca
  • New York
  • Rochester
  • Syracuse
  • Utica

North Carolina

  • Asheville
  • Charlotte-Gastonia
  • Fayetteville-Lumberton
  • Raleigh-Durham
  • Wilmington

North Dakota

  • Bismarck
  • Dickinson
  • Fargo
  • Grand Forks
  • Minot
  • Williston

Ohio

  • Canton
  • Cincinnati
  • Cleveland-Akron
  • Columbus
  • Dayton-Springfield
  • Findlay-Tiffin
  • Lima
  • Mansfield
  • Marion
  • Portsmouth
  • Toledo

Oklahoma

  • Bartlesville
  • Lawton
  • Liberal
  • Oklahoma City
  • Tulsa

Oregon

  • Eugene-Springfield
  • Portland
  • Salem-Albany-Corvallis

Pennsylvania

  • Allentown-Bethlehem
  • Altoona
  • Erie
  • Harrisburg

Indiana

  • Lancaster
  • Pittsburgh
  • Reading
  • Scranton-Wilkes Barre
  • Shamokin
  • Sharon
  • State College
  • Stroudsburg
  • Williamsport
  • York

Rhode Island

  • Greater Providence

South Carolina

  • Charleston
  • Columbia
  • Florence
  • Greenville-Spartanburg
  • Greenwood
  • Myrtle Beach

South Dakota

  • Aberdeen
  • Rapid City
  • Sioux Falls

Tennessee

  • Chattanooga
  • Cleveland
  • Cookeville
  • Dyersburg
  • Jackson
  • Knoxville
  • Memphis
  • Nashville

Texas

  • Amarillo
  • Austin
  • Beaumont-Port Arthur
  • Bryan-College Station
  • Corpus Christi
  • Dallas-Ft. Worth
  • Houston
  • Laredo
  • Longview-Marshall
  • Paris
  • San Antonio
  • Sherman-Denison
  • Temple-Killeen
  • Tyler
  • Waco
  • Wichita Falls

Utah

  • Logan
  • Provo
  • Salt Lake City-Ogden

Virginia

  • Charlottesville
  • Fredericksburg
  • Greater Hampton Roads
  • Harrisonburg
  • Richmond
  • Roanoke
  • Winchester

Washington

  • Longview
  • Olympia
  • Seattle-Tacoma
  • Spokane

Wisconsin

  • Appleton-Oshkosh
  • Eau Claire
  • Fond du Lac
  • Green Bay

Verizon has also released an ad about the new XLTE network.

If you have a compatible device and live in one of these areas, enjoy your new peak data speeds. Hopefully your data plan allows you to take advantage of them.

Sources: Verizon (Devices), Verizon (Cities), Verizon (Ad)

Google reportedly not happy with dual booting Windows/Android hybrids

asus transformer book duet

According to Taiwanese reports, Google isn’t very open to the idea of its partners launching tablets or notebooks which dual boot Android and Windows side by side. It is said that the company has made its opposition known to ASUS which announced such a hybrid at the CES in January. This also explains why Samsung’s Ativ Q tablet from last year was ditched without even reaching the markets. At the moment, only Intel’s x86 chips support dual booting devices, so there are certain hardware limitations for the manufacturers as well.

It is said that the folks at Mountain View don’t want Android sales to boost Microsoft’s market share, which is exactly what would happen if the manufacturers were to launch hybrids in the future. This report from Digitimes however, doesn’t explain how this could affect dual booting smartphones which are believed to be in the making for quite some time now. Let’s hope Google goes easy on its restrictions as the market would benefit greatly from a device which has the functionality of Windows and the versatility of Android.

Source: Digitimes

Forking Android: A good ‘Plan B’ for Nokia and Microsoft?

Nokia has launched its Nokia X line, which runs a forked version of Android that features Microsoft services and APIs. Could this be a good “Plan B” for Nokia and Microsoft?

Nokia X Elop

It’s official: Nokia has announced its Nokia X series, which comes in three variants: the X, X+ and XL. Nokia X is basically Android without the GMS part. Nokia has “forked” Android by using the Android Open Source Project (AOSP) as the platform’s base, then adding a services framework that will run Microsoft’s and Nokia’s own APIs, for location, in-app purchases and notifications API.

Some say this fork has been several years in waiting, given that Nokia did consider switching to Android as its main platform before Stephen Elop and Co. announced the shift to Windows Phone in 2011. Interestingly enough, the launch of Nokia X comes at a time when Microsoft is finalizing the acquisition of Nokia’s mobile services division. Quite soon, Nokia will be integrated into Microsoft. Should it matter that Nokia is running Android at the core of its mid-range smartphone series?

More Microsoft than Google

Wait, are you sure this is an Android phone?
Wait, are you sure this is an Android phone?

The big deal with Nokia X is that it is essentially Microsoft instead of Google. “The Nokia X takes people to Microsoft’s cloud, not to Google’s cloud,” said Stephen Elop, former CEO of Nokia, and now head of the company’s mobile services division. He said that Nokia X presents an “essentially different but complementary opportunity to introduce a new family that strengthens our affordable [devices] family.”

Nokia X will be a “feeder” device to Windows Phone. It is priced competitively against entry-level Android devices by major brands, starting at $122 for the base X model. This is is a step above the Nokia Asha series, but still cheaper than the entry-level Lumia.

Nokia X does not come with the familiar widgets-and-icons interface of the typical Android launcher, but will come in Metro-style tiled layout. Microsoft’s cloud also includes Outlook, OneDrive, Skype and Office 365, instead of the usual Gmail, Google Drive and Hangouts, for example.

Why Android is Good for Microsoft and Nokia

Credit: IBTimes UK
Credit: IBTimes UK

Given this, users should find it easy to upgrade from the Nokia X to a higher-end Lumia device — the interface is highly similar to Windows Phone. Additionally, integration with Microsoft services makes the migration path easier from Nokia to Windows Phone. Elop said the phone will not be marketed as an Android device, but rather as “an affordable phone”. It just so happens that the phone runs Android.

At least this is the assumption. Microsoft and Nokia are banking on users being dependent on its own services rather than competing services by Google. Therefore, this presents an opportunity for growth rather than competition.

If anything, Nokia’s adoption of Android means that Microsoft is willing to be neutral when it comes to dealing with device makers, even if these are partners or even subsidiaries. Take the case of Google and Motorola, for example. When Google acquired Motorola, this caused tension between the search company and the various manufacturers that ran Android — primarily Samsung. Google was seen to be extending favoritism. From the perspective of the subsidiary, meanwhile, it would want better support and faster updates for its own devices, lest it feel alienated by its owner. (With Google selling Motorola to Lenovo, it’s now all good with Samsung.)

Either way, the platform owner also owning a mobile device maker does come with these tensions. Nokia’s adoption of Android would be seen as a way for Microsoft to still have some platform-neutrality, if only in terms of the core operating system running on Nokia’s devices. With the Nokia X, the likelihood of other manufacturers calling out Microsoft for favoritism could be minimized. Meanwhile, Nokia won’t need to be coddled by Microsoft — they can simply shift focus on their own Android fork efforts if Windows Phone becomes too limiting for the mobile division’s needs.

It’s all about the ecosystem

"I've got my kids brainwashed: You don't use Google, and you don't use an iPod," said Ballmer sometime in 2011.
“I’ve got my kids brainwashed: You don’t use Google, and you don’t use an iPod,” said Ballmer sometime in 2011.

Now here’s where the idea of “Plan B” comes. Microsoft is a distant third ecosystem compared with iOS and Android, commanding only about 3.5 percent of market share in smartphones. The competition in attracting developers can be as tough as attracting users. Why ask developers to build for yet another platform when developing for both iOS and Android consumes quite a lot of effort in itself.

This might seem counter-intuitive, especially given Microsoft’s push to unify its development platform for mobile (Windows Phone) and desktop (Windows 8). However, Android’s development platform is now seen as standard by other platforms as well, including BlackBerry, Samsung’s Tizen and newcomer Sailfish OS, among others. Support for the “hundreds of thousands” of Android apps out there might be as important as running the ecosystem and managing the services layer that comes with it.

Even Elop admits that Windows Phone is seen as lacking in terms of apps, even if popular apps have found their way to the platform. Will this be a good way to combat the stigma of a supposedly small ecosystem?

It’s the best of both worlds for Microsoft and Nokia. I wonder if more devices running a Microsoft-focused Android fork — or at least Windows Phone running Android apps — will be the norm in the future.

Windows Phone is dead, Tizen is dead, long live Android!

Look, there’s nothing wrong with competition. In fact, we all welcome it, regardless of personal preferences. Android geeks, Apple fanatics, Windows Phone aficionados, surviving BlackBerry supporters, we may argue all the time and each feel like we’re in possession of the universal truth, which we want bestowed on our clueless “enemies”.

android_king

But when all is said and done, you need little more than common sense to realize Android would be nothing without iOS. And vice versa. Windows Phone, BlackBerry? They look pretty pointless right now, but one dominated the mobile world for years in a row, forcing Android and iOS to evolve, progress and thrive, while the other seemed a big threat back in the day, also keeping the two top dogs on their toes.

Only today’s nearly saturated smartphone market appears incapable of at least sustaining the idea of competition. Three years and a half after debuting in the form of Windows Phone 7, the platform is still, well, a baby. BlackBerry? They’re on the verge of kicking off yet another comeback, albeit their market share circles invisibility.

iOS-vs-Android-vs-Windows-Phone

Tizen? A stillborn project, according to many. Firefox OS, Sailfish? Let’s face it, aside from people whose job is to keep tabs even on obvious tech flops, no one’s ever heard of them. Bottom line, like it or not, it’s a two-way fight for supremacy, and so it shall remain for years to come. Need more proof? Well, let’s see

Why we think Windows Phone is dead

The report that actually sparked the idea in my mind to do the piece you’re reading, and that also confirmed to me once and for all WP has no future, is this Recode story. Yes, I realize it’s unsubstantiated gossip… for now.

There’s a silver lining for Microsoft as well, since rumor has it no Windows Phones will be on display at next week’s Mobile World Congress because they’ll be saved for intros during April’s MS Build Developer Conference.

Android vs Windows

Yeah, right. Also, HTC’s M8 (or “All New One”) is to trump Samsung’s Galaxy S5 once it goes official at last. And unicorns poop rainbows. Jokes aside, no, MS did not put off fresh hardware announcements due to a grander “scheme”. They simply have nothing to showcase. At least not at the same event as the GS5.

Think about it, who of their partners is still supporting Windows Phone? Samsung? They weren’t committed in the first place, and the ATIV S was just something to test the waters for possible further investments. Needless to say it bombed at the box-office, so don’t expect any sequels.

HTC? They’re fully focused on Android, according to their own claims, not affording to gamble one penny on something other than the M8, mid-range Desires, and maybe wearables. Huawei? Puh-lease, they’re insignificant on the Western hemisphere.

Nokia X

Which only leaves Nokia, the OEM that actually unveiled a new WP8-based handheld last week. Clearly, whether the Finns want it or not, Windows Phone is their focal point.

But don’t you find it fitting, not to mention ironic, the past few weeks were probably the best in Nokia’s recent history in regards to media exposure? And no, it wasn’t due to the Lumia Icon, but a smaller, less technically impressive gizmo backed by a certain green robot.

Why we think Tizen is dead

In short, we think, nay we know Tizen is dead because everyone says so. Sure, all our mothers taught us not to trust strangers, yet in this business, there’s rarely smoke without fire. And boy, has there been a lot of smoke concerning Tizen’s precocious demise.

Samsung Tizen

What’s interesting is, at one point, Samsung stopped trying to convince us there was something to Tizen. And yes, some advanced prototypes, maybe even a “Zeke” handheld ready to see daylight, will probably visit Barcelona next week.

There’s also some rumble as to a Tizen-running Galaxy Gear smartwatch, though I personally doubt Samsung is that crazy and clueless. Unless they want to bury their wearables too.

tizen device

Either way, with or without Zeke, with or without Tizen Gear, this is going nowhere. Several hardware makers and carriers pulled the plug already, whereas Sammy likely used the platform to strong-arm Google into selling Motorola and nixing the Nexus family as we know it. Don’t believe they have that power? Oh, you are so naïve.

Who else could matter?

Short answer: nobody. Long answer: nobody in the BlackBerry – Firefox OS – Sailfish group. Not today, not tomorrow, not one or two years from now. Maybe in five or ten years, if Android or iOS drop the ball. But at that point, BB will no longer exist, Mozilla will have gone back to developing decent browsers people use when Chrome crashes, and Jolla… who the heck is Jolla anyway?

BlackBerry

Now, we could argue and debate whether the duopoly is good or bad for the mobile industry’s forward movement in the “post-PC era”. But let’s throw objectivity and gravity aside for a moment, and enjoy our favorite operating system’s moments of glory.

It’s a great time to be an Android aficionado, isn’t it? I mean, just look at Kantar’s Q4 2013 stats, or Gartner’s Q3 numbers. Now let me hear you all shout “viva Android”.

Should Windows Phone run Android apps?

Rumor has it that Microsoft is planning to support Android applications on its Windows Phone platform. Does this make any business sense?

Android Windows

This comes right at the heels of what is supposedly a confirmation from insider sources that Nokia is forking Android. Nokia is being acquired by Microsoft, and the Finnish company had been Microsoft’s main partner in producing and marketing Windows Phone through its Lumia line. But with mounting challenges from inexpensive Android-powered smartphones in the low-end of the market, the company likely plans to strengthen it position in this segment by launching its own Android devices.

Nokia is likely to fork Android — meaning it will run the open-source aspect of the platform, but not Google’s mobile services framework — giving it better control over the app and content ecosystem (and the revenue stream that comes with it). We earlier argued that Nokia could follow Amazon’s model with the Kindle Fire line. Nokia could run its own mail, navigation, gaming and other services, plus its own app marketplace. There’s no saying whether it would be as successful as Amazon and its Appstore, but the wider availability of Android apps might be an advantage over the existing S40 apps on the Ovi store that the Asha line currently supports.

How about the developer community?

For Microsoft to support Android apps on Windows Phone — does it make any sense at all to run your main competitor’s applications on your own main mobile platform?

This could have some serious implications on the developer community and the viability of Windows Phone as a platform. Sure, Windows Phone development does have its advantages, but it also comes with a few drawbacks. For developers, supporting a third ecosystem after iOS and Android does take a toll on resources. If Microsoft started running Android apps on Windows Phone, this might discourage developers from building native apps, because their own Android apps will run on Windows Phones anyway.

Still, running Android apps on Windows Phone could be a boon for Microsoft because the company would no longer have to worry about the lack of quantity (and perhaps quality) in terms of apps on Windows Phone. There are potential risks, but it’s a tradeoff that Redmond might be willing to consider.

There is actually a precedent here. BlackBerry, which has, for so long, held out on opening its services to other platforms, has started supporting Android. First, it launched its BBM service on both iOS and Android late last year. Now BlackBerry is starting to support installing Android APKs in its latest OS update. In fact, the BlackBerry OS now supposedly runs a stripped-down version of Android.

Similarly, Microsoft could support Android apps through several means: virtualization, an added app layer over Windows Phone, or through app store conversion of APKs, just like how BlackBerry used to require conversion of APKs into BARs.

Android apps: soon the standard for mobile platforms?

Suddenly, I feel nostalgic about all these platform considerations. It reminds me of the time when IBM and Microsoft fought over the PC market in the 1980s and 1990s. While IBM wanted to enforce tighter control with its proprietary OS/2, Microsoft’s DOS and Windows was still dominant in terms of market share, even though OS/2 was supposedly technically superior. OS/2 ended up supporting DOS and Windows (through virtualization), and the rest was history.

If anything, Android apps might soon be the standard for distributing software over smartphone and other mobile platforms. We now see third-party platform makers support APKs, including those from Finnish firm Jolla and Chinese Baidu Yi, among others.

Here’s a bold prediction: apart from iOS, most other smartphone platforms will soon support Android apps, in some way.

Rumor claims Microsoft could allow running of Android apps on Windows Phone

Android appsA new rumor has hinted at what seems like the unlikely possibility of Microsoft allowing Android applications to run on its Windows Phone mobile platform. It is claimed to be just an idea at this moment, so it’s still a long way from coming to fruition. If these reports turn out to be true, it won’t be the first time a major OS will have adopted the vast library of apps from a rival platform, as BlackBerry took this very route with the BlackBerry 10 OS.

However, given the sort of rivalry Microsoft shares with its Android competitors, we actually might not see this plan materializing. The Verge claims that Microsoft might not directly get involved in this process and might allow a third party ‘enabler‘ to do this for them.

This could also have serious repercussions for the Windows Phone developers as there will be no more motivation left for them to work with the platform if they can just as easily get an Android app ported onto Windows Phone. However, Windows Phone users would welcome this move as the platform doesn’t quite enjoy the quantity (or quality) of apps enjoyed by Android users. So it would certainly be a welcome addition from the users’ perspective.

Source: The Verge