Android Device Manager quietly adds ability to remotely lock devices, override previous password settings

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Google has just added an incredibly useful feature to its Android Device Manager service. As first noted by Android Police, you can now remotely lock your Android device with a specific password or passcode, should you misplace it or have it stolen.

Most notably, you can override any other pattern or pin set on the device. The Device Manager will simply ask to you to choose a new password when submitting the lock request, and when you find the device, you simply enter in that passcode to regain access. If the device is in Airplane mode, the service will automatically perform the lock request as soon as it’s reconnected to the internet.

With Google, Apple, and others under strong pressure from the government to improve device security, this feature is incredibly useful. Apple recently launched a new Activation Lock feature that requires an Apple ID and password to reactivate a device after it’s reset via Find My iPhone.

To try this functionality out for yourself, head to the Android Device Manager site and select the lock icon and be sure the service is already enabled on your device, as well.  Read more

HTC One dev edition to receive Android 4.3 update this week, Canada models by month’s end

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After making the decision to halt the Android 4.2 rollout to One variants, HTC America president Jason Mackenzie has just announced on Twitter that the company plans to update the One developer edition to Android 4.3 this week. The update will include the latest version of Sense, as well. Mackenzie also notes that One owners in Canada should expect the update by the end of the month.

There’s no word on when the carrier models here in the United States will get the Android 4.3 update. Once HTC finalizes the build for each model, it must send it to every carrier for final improvements and tweaks, and as we all know, carriers certainly don’t expedite the update process at all.

If you own an HTC One developer edition or Canadian variant, be sure to keep an eye out for the update and let us know when you receive it.  Read more

New York regulators crack down on fake online reviews, is Google Play next?

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The New York Times reports that New York regulators will today announce a new initiative that aims to crackdown on fake reviews online. They’ve already reached settlement agreements with a number of companies and issued fines of around $350,000 to companies purchasing and providing fake reviews, many of which are submitted to services such as Google, Yahoo, and Yelp. Fake reviews have always been an issue for Google Play and just about every mobile app marketplace, so perhaps regulators will soon extend their investigation to mobile app stores as well.

“What we’ve found is even worse than old-fashioned false advertising,” said Eric T. Schneiderman, the New York attorney general. “When you look at a billboard, you can tell it’s a paid advertisement — but on Yelp or Citysearch, you assume you’re reading authentic consumer opinions, making this practice even more deceiving.”

Regulators found that US Coachways, one of the companies included in the investigation, had hired freelance writers to write fake reviews on Yelp and other services: Read more

HP announces four new Android-powered tablets coming in November

HP is officially announcing four new Android tablets today that will join its low-cost Slate 7 and fill out the company’s Android lineup with tablets in several categories. Most of the new tablets will launch this November, although HP isn’t releasing specific availability and pricing for most models.

The new tablets include the 8-inch Slate 8 Pro, the Slate 7 HD and Slate 10 HD, and finally the Slate 7 Extreme. Although the new lineup includes two 7-inch models, HP is hinting that the new tablets won’t be outright replacing its current Slate 7.  Read more

Republic Wireless launching Moto X for $299 off contract in November

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Normally available for around $600 unsubsidized, Republic Wireless announced today that it will soon begin offering the Moto for just $299. That’s the carrier’s no contract price and just $100 more than most carriers are charging for the device on the usual two-year contract:

The Moto X will retail at $299 (plus taxes and surcharges) from the Republic Wireless store. That’s right – we took the hot, new Moto X, added Republic’s great Hybrid service and priced it at $299 with no contract required. That’s a price that’s, like, impossible to match anywhere in the industry. How did we do it? The phone is $299 because we are footing the bill.  Period.  This is NOT a $299 phone.   Take a quick look around the web and look at “no contract” pricing for the Moto X.

The device will be available on two of the carrier unlimited plans that start at just $5 a month, but customers will have the following plans to choose from: Read more

Google-owned QuickOffice goes free on iOS and Android, 10GB of Drive space offered

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Google today made its QuickOffice suite for both iOS and Android free to use with a Google Account. QuickOffice is a cross-platform document editor that can manage and edit Microsoft Office documents. The app is downloadable for free on both iTunes and Google play for no charge. Better yet, Google says that those who login to the updated app by September 26th will receive a 10GB storage boost in Google Drive for the next two years.

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AT&T to sell Samsung Galaxy S III Mini for 99 cents starting Sept. 27

AT&T announced today that it will begin selling the Samsung Galaxy S III mini, which was first released in November of last year, as a smaller entry level version of Samsung’s flagship at the time, the Galaxy S III. It might be a last generation device– Samsung unveiled the S4 mini at its event back in June– but that’s why AT&T will sell it for 99 cents on contract when it becomes available on September 27.

As a reminder, the S III mini includes a 4-inch Super AMOLED display, comes with Android 4.2 Jelly Bean out of the box, and packs in a 1.2GHz dual-core processor, 1GB of RAM, and a 5 megapixel main camera. You’ll also of course get Samsung’s TouchWiz UI on top of with S Beam, S Voice, Group Play, and other Samsung goodies.

AT&T will kick off preorders for the Galaxy S III mini starting tomorrow. Read more

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

HTC Rezound Launch Event

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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