Nexus 7 w/ LTE now available on Google Play for AT&T, T-Mobile & 8 other countries

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Update: Verizon explained in a statement that support for the LTE Nexus 7 is on the way:

The Google Nexus 7 is not yet a Verizon 4G LTE certified device, though it entered our process in August and we expect it will be certified shortly. Once the device is certified, we will work with Google to enable the device to be activated on our 4G LTE network.

Verizon Wireless’ certification process, which generally takes between four and six weeks, is one of the most rigorous testing protocols of any carrier, and is focused on guarding the safety and security of our network. Certification is done by third party labs approved by Verizon, and selected by the device manufacturer. Over the years, Verizon Wireless has certified hundreds of devices; information on the certification process is available to anyone at opennetwork.verizonwireless.com.

Verizon is committed to ensuring our customers have the best overall experience when any device becomes available on the nation’s most reliable network.

When Google first announced its new Nexus 7, the company said at the time that an 4G LTE capable version of the device would be available in the weeks to come. Up until now Google has had only a WiFi-only version of the tablet, but today it announced that the LTE model is finally available through Google Play in 9 countries.

Google announced that the LTE model is available in not only the US, but also in Australia, Canada, Germany, Spain, France, UK, Japan, and Korea. In most of the countries listed above the 32GB LTE Nexus 7 is sold unlocked (for $349 in the US), but it’s also available with an AT&T or T-Mobile SIM directly from Google Play for U.S. customers. AT&T made things official in a press release announcing availability of the Nexus 7 only through Google Play.

Interestingly, word has it that Verizon won’t be activating the new Nexus 7 on its network. While there doesn’t seem to be a clear reason why the device wouldn’t be compatible with Verizon’s network (Google even showed a Verizon logo on stage when announcing the device), using a Verizon SIM card that’s already been activated with another device will apparently work on the new Nexus 7. The problem, according to AndroidCommunity, is that the Nexus 7 won’t work on Verizon’s CDMA network and only LTE. That means for users without LTE coverage the tablet wouldn’t work at all, and that’s likely the reason Verizon is yet to officially support the device. The carrier confirmed in a statement saying the Nexus 7 “is not yet a device that is Verizon 4G LTE certified. We’ll let folks know when it’s certified.”

You can get the Nexus 7 now in all of the countries mentioned above as well as Italy, which finally for the first time gets access to purchase Google Play devices today.

AT&T & T-Mobile preorders for Galaxy Note 3/ Galaxy Gear kick off Sept. 18

Update: Sprint announced today that the Galaxy Note 3 will become available on October 4 for $349.99 on the usual two-year agreement. It will also have the Galaxy Gear companion smartwatch for $299.99 in Jet Black, Oatmeal Beige and Wild Orange.

AT&T has announced today in a tweet that preorders for the new Galaxy Gear smartwatch, which will act as a companion to the new Galaxy Note 3, will go up for preorder starting Wednesday, September 18. The carrier previously announced that the Galaxy Note 3 would begin shipping from its website on October 1. Through AT&T, the Note 3 sells for $299 on the usual two-year agreement. Samsung originally announced that the device would launch on partners around the world starting September 25.

T-Mobile also made things official for the Galaxy Note 3 and Galaxy Gear today with a press release confirming that preorders, like AT&T, will also begin on Wednesday. On T-Mobile the device will sell for $199.99 down with 24 month payments of $21 with preorders expected to ship by October 2.  Read more

Sprint reportedly to join monthly phone hardware payments craze on Sep. 20

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Sprint is readying its own program that allows customers to roll in the cost of phone hardware in their monthly bill, according to CNET. Sprint’s program is reportedly called One Up, and it works in a similar fashion to the recently launched AT&T Next, T-Mobile Jump, and Verizon Edge initiatives.

All of the carrier programs principally work the same, with a few nuanced differences. Sprint’s One Up lets customers pick up a phone with no money down and pay for the device in 24 monthly installments. A phone that costs $649.99, for instance, will cost $27 a month (with the difference tacked on to the 24th payment). If a customer leaves the service early, that person is on the hook for the balance of the device cost, due the following month.

Unlike with a typical U.S. carrier contract, Sprint’s new program (like those from the other U.S. carriers) will allow customers to upgrade to a new device every year. The (subsidized) cost of the phone will be divided up into 24 installments and added to the customer’s monthly bill. A customer can trade-in that current hardware towards the new phone that they would like to upgrade to.

The new Sprint One Up program is claimed to launch on September 20th.

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Upcoming Kindle interface shown in new Fire leaks

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From the latest @evleak we can see the rumored new Kindle Fire third generation above. It would appear that Amazon is unfortunately keeping their big bezels and also their heavy proprietary overlay. From the image you can see updated UI improvements that will likely also hit the current lineup. We’re sadly not expecting to see a Google Play Store App like the recently announced Nook OS updates with hundreds of thousands of apps including Google’s Maps, Plus, YouTube, Gmail and more.

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BGR caught the purported angular backside of this generation of Kindle earlier this week and together we can usually conclude that leak frequency increase means launch soon. As for specs, BGR’s source says:

Amazon’s new 7-inch Kindle Fire HD will feature a high-resolution 1,920 x 1,200-pixel display, a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 chipset clocked at more than 2GHz, 2GB of RAM, Wi-Fi, optional cellular data, Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean and either 16GB, 32GB or 64GB of internal storage.

The updated 8.9-inch model is said to feature nearly identical specs beneath its 2,560 x 1,600-pixel high-definition display, and it also includes an 8-megapixel rear camera.

We’re told both models are lighter and more comfortable to use than the current-generation tablets they will replace.

If you are in Amazon’s ecosystem, this could be exciting news. However we’d take the new smaller-bezel Nexus 7 with an Amazon app sight unseen.

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HTC America makes about 20 percent of its workforce redundant in an attempt to ‘streamline’ operations

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The Verge has learned that HTC has laid off about a fifth of its America division. It seems affected employees were informed yesterday, with the cuts affecting multiple departments. The Verge says the company has confirmed that layoffs have taken place, but would not offer more detail.

The Verge has also managed to get a hold of a letter to employees from Jason Mackenzie, the president of HTC America. He is quoted as calling this the “the most difficult day” of his career. He said that this measures are part of a broader plan to “simplify our organisation” and “sharpen our teams focus”. The full statement is included below.

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Leaving Google for Xiaomi nothing personal but “a dream job,” says Hugo Barra

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Hugo Barra, Google’s former VP of Android product development, says his move to Xiaomi was planned long before it emerged that Sergey Brin was romantically involved with his former girlfriend.

In an interview with AllThingsD, Barra said that the opportunity to play a key role in the global expansion of the company dubbed ‘the Apple of China’ was one he could not resist.

“To me, right away, it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, truly a dream job, this idea of building a global company which could be as significant as Google from the ground up,” said Barra. “It was just something that I will never come across, with a team whom I know, with a company that has DNA similar to my own and, on top of that, to live in Asia for at least some period of time” …  Read more

A behind-the-scenes look at Motorola’s U.S. Moto X factory in Texas [Gallery]

The Verge has a great behind-the-scenes look at Motorola’s Moto X factory in Texas that is currently pumping out around 100,000 units of the new flagship device per week. We reported this morning that Motorola is currently shipping a disappointing 100k units a week, so it’s not that surprising to learn that around 200,000 square feet of the factory is not being used.

To accomplish this, Motorola partnered with Flextronics to refab a factory in Texas formerly used by Nokia. In a mere six months, the factory was completely updated and transformed to Motorola’s specifications, which including the hiring of 2,500 workers to make it run. Motorola did not actually make a final call to do manufacturing in the US until late 2012, but the factory was operational by August 6th of this year. The factory currently puts out about 100,000 devices per week, but Motorola says that it’s possible to scale it to tens of millions of units. Given that more than half of the over 400,000 square foot factory floor sits unused right now, that’s not too hard to believe.

It also spoke with Motorola CEO Dennis Woodside about why bringing assembly to the US was crucial for the Moto X’s MotoMaker customizations features.  Read more

Motorola shipping (and not necessarily selling) a disappointing 100,000 Moto X phones a week

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Reuters reports that Motorola is currently shipping 100,000 Moto X handsets a week – though not necessarily selling this number.

Motorola CEO Dennis Woodside said “When you set up to ramp a factory you need a plan, and we have shipment targets we need to make with our carrier partners, and where we need to be right now is 100,000 units and that’s where we are.”

Woodside would say only that direct sales to customers were “substantial”. Either way, we suspect the company must be secretly disappointed in the numbers …  Read more

Google Play Music update adds ability to create radio stations based on genre

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An update is rolling out to the Google Play Music app that bumps it to version 5.2.1204L. Notably, the update adds the ability to create new radio stations based on music genres. Previously, the radio functionality was only available for use by songs, artists, or your past listening history. It’s important to note, however, that an All Access subscription is required for unlimited radio use. Both iTunes Radio and Pandora have had the genre-based station feature for sometime now, so this is a much welcomed feature for Google Music.

Also new in the update is an improved download queue. Now, you have the ability to pause, resume, and cancel songs that are being downloaded at any given time.

  • All Access Genre Radio is here! Go to Radio or Explore, pick your favorite genre and enjoy unlimited radio based on the music you love.
  • New download queue that allows pausing, resuming and canceling

The update is available now on the Play StoreRead more

Roku for Android app allows streaming of video to set-top box – from some devices

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The latest Roku for Android app allows video as well as audio and photos to be streamed to a Roku set-top box – but only for a limited number of devices.

Play your video from select Android devices to your Roku player. Supported models include: Samsung Galaxy SIII, Samsung Galaxy S4, Nexus 4, HTC One, and Nexus 7 (2012 model). Video playback requires Android 4.0 or later …  Read more

Moto X ‘Lazy Phone’ ads highlight ‘no touch’ interface, quick look camera

Motorola just released a trio of humorous ads touting features of its Moto X phone that don’t come in other phones. Above, highlights the abilities of the Moto X to respond to voice commands without touching the device. Two more goodies below show the shake to camera and quick look features. Both are great. Read more

Slimmer bezels mean Nexus 5 will have larger screen but smaller size than Nexus 4

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Developer Jack Underwood took the dimensions from the recent FCC approval of the LG D820 that has been pretty much confirmed as the Nexus 5 and compared them to the Nexus 4. The result? Despite a larger screen size with higher resolution, the Nexus 5 is actually smaller in every dimension.

If there were any lingering doubt about the match between the casings shown and the device slipped into the KitKat video, the animated GIF below seems to provide conclusive proof …  Read more