In an unusual turn, Google/Motorola launches Android 4.4 on Verizon variant of Moto X first

Moto X KitKat

Fresh from the Motorola Blog, it appears that Motorola will launch its first Android 4.4 KitKat update on Verizon first, with rollouts starting today. The KitKat update brings:

  • An improved phone dialer. Now you can search for contacts directly from the dial-pad and easily see and tap on those you contact frequently.
  • More gallery goodies. KitKat packs in some cool, new gallery effects—such as Posterize, Highlights, and Edges. You can even use the Draw feature to annotate your photos freehand with your finger.
  • New Hangouts app. All of your conversations now in one place—texts, video calls, and other chats all together in one app. Plus, you can now send animated gifs and share your location.
  • Color emojis. For when words aren’t enough, the Google Keyboard now includes colorful characters to send in text messages and other communications.
  • Drag to focus and expose. An updated camera app lets you control both the focus and exposure of your photos. Simply drag your finger to set just the right exposure and focus point.
  • And more… Restyled status and navigation bars, new full-screen mode, and enhancements to Motorola features like Touchless Control.

I say ‘unusual’ because Verizon is usually the last of the four US carriers to roll out Android updates, usually owing the increased wait to Verizon’s lengthier testing process.

Motorola and Verizon have an unusually close bond however with the Google-owned manufacturer now making all of the carrier’s Droid products as well as pioneering the Droid brand. I anticipate that other carrier versions will follow close behind.

Note that I’m still waiting on the 4.4 update to hit the Google Play edition HTC ONE, and even my Nexus 4 and 10!

I guess Google and Motorola are finally tearing down the firewall. Read more

FreedomPop expands free wireless plan to all Sprint smartphones, launches $99 HTC Evo 4G

FreedomPop

FreedomPop, the wireless service provider offering free and cheap no-contract plans on Sprint’s network, today announced it’s now allowing customers to bring their old Sprint phones to activate on its $0/month wireless plans. We’ve confirmed with the company that will also soon include iPhones and Sprint’s full lineup of Android devices.

The company has been around since 2011 with various hotspot products and recently launched its first smartphone direct to customers alongside the world’s first completely free mobile service. A guaranteed 500 MBs of data, 500 text messages, and 200 anytime voice minutes for free each month would sound enticing to anyone, but previously customers would have to pay $99 for an almost two-year old HTC Evo Design to get it. Despite that, FreedomPop says it “immediately sold out” of stock when it launched last month.

That’s about to change today as FreedomPop will now let Sprint customers bring their own device to activate on its free and cheap plans. Although there is no mention of it in the carrier’s press release, we’ve confirmed that includes the iPhone 4 and 4S as well as 20 other Sprint devices initially. Stephen Stokols, FreedomPop’s CEO, tells us it will be another few weeks before the iPhone is compatible, and eventually all Sprint smartphones will be supported.  Read more

Samsung patent shows what to expect from wraparound screen phone

Image: theverge.com

Image: theverge.com

A patent application spotted by The Verge gives some clues to what Samsung has in mind for the user interface for the wraparound screen Bloomberg reported last week.

There are a few boring ones, like slide-to-unlock and a battery meter at the side, but also some rather interesting ones, like ebook chapter bookmarks.

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More below the fold …  Read more

Samsung suspends Galaxy S3 update to Android 4.3 after complaints

Samsung_Galaxy_S3

Samsung has announced that it has temporarily withdrawn the update to Android 4.3 for the Galaxy S3 after users complained about multiple problems, reports the BBC.

These included faster than normal battery drain, some apps refusing to work and alarms failing to trigger […]

“Samsung keep telling us that they will let us know as soon as they find a fix, but in the meantime I am left with a phone that is next to useless,” wrote one owner, Dylan Barlow …  Read more

Verizon’s Black Friday ad leaks, won’t knock your socks off

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Our expectations are always tempered when it comes to the wireless carriers and Black Friday specials as its been a long, long time since I can remember a deal that made my jaw drop. With that in mind, Verizon Wireless’ 2013 Black Friday ad has hit the airwaves thanks to BlackFriday.com but it won’t knock your socks off. Thankfully, it will help those of you looking to pick up a DROID RAZR HD for free or a Motorola DROID Ultra for $99 with a two-year agreement.

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Samsung refutes Galaxy Gear flop rumors, says 800,000 smartwatches have moved

gear

With a reporting yesterday indicating that Samsung’s Galaxy Gear smartwatch had “flopped” with only 50,000 units sold, the manufacturing giant is refuting that report. However, even as Samsung speaks to the media regarding the Galaxy Gear as a successful product, there is some confusion about whether or not the company has “shipped” or “sold” 800,000 units …

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(Updated) Has Samsung’s Galaxy Gear flopped? New report indicates less than 50,000 in sales

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Update: Samsung wasted no time in refuting this report with a statement provided by an exec that claims the company has “sold” more than 800,000 units. Hit this link for the full update.

A new report courtesy of Business Korea indicates that Samsung’s Galaxy Gear has fallen well below initial sales expectations. According to the publication, Samsung’s first go at the smartwatch market has sold less than 50,000 units and is moving only 800-900 units per day.

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LG G Flex “self-healing” tech demoed in new hands-on video

We’ve already had a look at LG’s official video showing off the G Flex “self-healing” technology but this time around we’re getting a true hands-on. Recognizing that LG’s official video happened in the most optimal conditions using the very best in camera angles…this new video video courtesy of YouTube star Marques Brownlee shows off “self-healing” in the real world.

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Best Buy & Sprint giving students 12 months free talk, text & 1GB of data w/ new Android device

From 9to5Toys.com:

BestBuy and Sprint are offering a truly rare deal for students leading into the holidays this year. Starting today, students in the US that purchase a smartphone from BestBuy will be able to get 12 months of free talk, text, and data for 12 months. You’ll have to pick up an eligible Student Activated Price device in-store with an Unlimited, My Way plan, but that won’t require a contract and there are plenty of great phones to choose from.

You’ll pay a little more for BestBuy’s student pricing. For example, $449 for the Nexus 5 or $599 for a Moto X, but the free year of service (normally $70/month) will still save you a ton of money by the end of the first year. There will also be a $36 activation fee per line.

In addition, Best Buy is offering an additional 12 months of free service by adding another phone line to the same account on a two-year contract. Read more

Amazon introduces Fire OS 3.1 software update with nary a mention of “Android”

kindlefireos

Amazon’s recently released new line of Kindle Fire hardware and 3.0 Fire OS software is certainly making inroads thanks in no small part to Mayday. Well, Amazon isn’t wasting any time making improvements as they introduce Fire OS 3.1 this morning which includes Goodreads integration, “Second Screen” technology which lets you “fling movies and tv shows from your tablet to your TV” and enterprise-ready features.

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