Google reportedly in talks to bundle Google Play All Access subscription with Verizon plans

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Google’s All Access music service just launched earlier this summer, and according to a new report from Billboard, the company is looking to get it into the hands of even more consumers. The site is reporting that Google is in talks with Verizon to bundle All Access subscriptions with smartphone plans by allowing them to add the $9.99 bill on to their existing monthly fee. While it doesn’t look like Verizon customers would get any sort of advantage over other customers, it would give Google another outlet to promote the service and make the process more seamless.

A deal with Google Play Music All Access would allow Verizon to offer an on-demand music service to its 100 million wireless subscribers. Google would gain a powerful distribution partner that could seamlessly fold the monthly $9.99 fee for its service into subscribers’ cellphone deal.

It’s unclear what sort of advantages Verizon would get, though Google is allegedly pitching that it would make customers happy. Read more

Images of HTC One Max leak, HTC teases “big things ahead”

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We’ve heard rumors of a larger HTC One variant for a long time now, but thanks to ePrice we now have our first clear images of the device. The pictures don’t show all that much, though. Essentially, the One Max is a larger version of the One with the same design and build quality. The screen will supposedly be a whopping 5.9-inches and come in with a 1080p resolution. The specs of the One Max will be much improved, however, with the device being powered by a 2.3GHz Snapdragon 800 processor and 3,300mAh battery. It’s also worth pointing out that the bezel is nearly nonexistent, which means that while the screen is large, the overall form factor might be a tad more reasonable.

Hot on the heels of Samsung sending out its Unpacked 2013 event for the Galaxy Note III, HTC also released a teaser video for an upcoming ad campaign. The company says that there are “big things ahead”, which given recent events, seems like a tease for the One Max. The video clip also shows a new “Happy Telephone Company” tagline for the company. HTC recently ditched its “Quietly Brilliant” branding that it used for so long.

The HTC One Max is definitely pushing the boarders of being too big, but hopefully the bezels are small enough to truly make a difference. Read more

Apple drops to 32% tablet market share in Q2 amidst strong YoY Android growth

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IDC is out today with its latest report tracking worldwide tablet shipments reporting that total shipments have experienced a sequential decline during Q2 at the expense of Apple and the iPad. Apple already announced that it had sold 14.6 million iPads during the quarter, a significant drop from the 17 million it sold in the year ago quarter, but today IDC gives us some insight into where that puts Apple in its lead over Samsung as the top tablet vendor.

Apple was able to pick up 32.4% of the market during Q2, continuing its lead as the top tablet manufacturer, but dropping from the 60.3% of the market it had in Q2 last year. While Apple’s tablet shipments are clearly suffering from lack of new product announcements this year, it’s also losing share to Samsung and others. IDC reports 277% year over year growth for Samsung, giving it 18% of the market with 8.1 million units shipped during Q2. All of the top 3 vendors– Apple, Samsung, and ASUS– experienced a drop compared to Q1 2013, but the Android tablet makers have experienced significant growth compared to Apple since last year. Read more

$1B wiped off Samsung’s value following Presidential veto; Samsung continues appeals

Photo: tractoroutdoor.com

Photo: tractoroutdoor.com

The WSJ reports that more than a billion dollars were wiped off Samsung’s market value today following President Obama’s veto of the decision to ban the import of iPhone 4 and 3G iPad 2 devices into the USA. The fall represented 0.9 percent of the company’s market cap.

While a Presidential veto over-rules the original ITC ruling, the Financial Times reports that Samsung is appealing the ITC decision on the grounds that it only upheld one of the four patents it believes Apple has infringed. The appeal is expected to be held in Q1 2014. Were Apple to lose then, however, the impact would be significantly lower, as Apple is almost certain to have launched new iPhones and iPads by then, with the iPhone 4 and iPad 2 likely removed from Apple’s retail and online stores and seeing only residual sales elsewhere …  Read more

Reports of HTC’s withdrawal from the smartphone market are greatly exaggerated, says company

Photo: HTC Chairwoman Cher Wang, and Alice Sun's blog post

Photo: HTC Chairwoman Cher Wang, and Alice Sun’s blog post

A recent rumor that HTC was withdrawing from the smartphone market, and that the company would be offered for sale, have been denied by the company. HTC recently warned of a possible loss in Q3 following disappointing Q2 results.

The rumor was started by a post on the the Chinese microblogging site Weibo by EE Times Chinese analyst Alice Sun, a commentator with a generally good track-record. However, rumors of a denial swiftly followed, and Engadget has now received what appears to be a definitive denial of the sale – though interestingly no specific response is made to the suggestion that HTC is pulling out of smartphones …  Read more

Samsung sends invites for Sept 4. ‘Unpacked 2013 Ep. 2′ event, new Galaxy Note likely

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Samsung just sent invites to “Unpacked 2013 Episode 2″ and is hinting that we’ll likely see what’s next in line for its stylus-based Note family. The event is scheduled to take place on September 4 in Berlin, which puts it right in the middle of IFA, one of the year’s biggest technology trade shows taking place the same week. A new Note product wouldn’t exactly be surprising, as the company has used its event during IFA to unveil its new Galaxy Notes since the introduction of the first model two years ago.

Last year, Samsung hosted its Unpacked event during IFA where it unveiled the Galaxy Note II alongside the introduction of its Galaxy Camera. This year it looks like we might be getting another Note announcement, as the invite above asks us to “Note the date” and does so in a decidedly S Pen-like, handwritten font.

Like last year, the event will be live streamed through Samsung’s YouTube channel, and this year the company is also hosting a live stream in New York’s Time Square for those that can’t make it to Berlin. We’ll be in Berlin bringing you the best of both IFA and Samsung’s event early next month.

Nexus 7 review: the best Android tablet gets even better

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Before Google I/O 2012, Android tablets hadn’t been all that successful, due in large part to their high price and lack of serious support from Google. Then, however, Google introduced the $199 Nexus 7 tablet and started a battle of who could make the best, most affordable tablet. More than a year later, it’s quite clear that Google was the winner of that battle. Other manufacturers could not release an affordable tablet that was worth buying– and its biggest 7-inch competitor, the iPad mini, remains a full $100 above the Nexus 7’s asking price.

When the first rumors hit claiming that the device would cost $229, $30 more than the original model, I was a tad worried, but once Google officially announced the specifications, all that worry went away. The new Nexus 7 improves on its predecessor in just about every way imaginable. It has a faster processor, higher resolution screen, a new rear camera, the latest version of Android, and more. All that doesn’t necessarily mean the device is better, however. Is the Nexus 7 still king of the Android tablet market? Can it compete with the iPad mini?

Read more

Obama administration vetoes partial Apple product import ban over Samsung patents

President Obama and Vice President Biden with an iPhone

President Obama and Vice President Biden with an iPhone

United States President Barack Obama and his administration have issued a veto on a potential ban for iPhone 4 and 3G-capable iPad 2 models in the United States. The potential ban of those Apple products was due to patents owned by Samsung.

The news comes by way of a notice from the U.S. Government. The official ruling comes from Michael Froman, a trade representative for the United States:

In addition, on January 8, 2013, the Department of Justice and United States Patent and Trademark Office issued an important Policy Statement entitled “Policy Statement on Remedies for Standard-Essential Patents Subject to Voluntary FRAND Commitments” (“Policy Statement”).2 The Policy Statement makes clear that standards, and particularly voluntary consensus standards set by standards developing organizations (“SDO”), have incorporated important technical advances that are fundamental to the interoperability of many of the products on which consumers have come to rely, including the types of devices that are the subject of the Commission’s determination. The Policy Statement expresses substantial concerns, which I strongly share, about the potential harms that can result from owners of standards­essential patents (“SEPs”) who have made a voluntary commitment to offer to license SEPs on terms that are fair, reasonable, and non­discriminatory (“FRAND”), gaining undue leverage and engaging in “patent hold­up”, i.e., asserting the patent to exclude an implementer of the standard from a market to obtain a higher price for use of the patent than would have been possible before the standard was set, when alternative technologies could have been chosen. At the same time, technology implementers also can cause potential harm by, for example, engaging in “reverse hold­up” (“hold­out”), e. g., by constructive refusal to negotiate a FRAND license with the SEP owner or refusal to pay what has been determined to be a FRAND royalty.

The would be, no-longer affected Apple devices include the iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, iPad 2 3G, and the original 3G-capable iPad. This ruling mostly affects the iPad 2 and the iPhone 4 as those are the pertinent products that Apple actually currently sells in the U.S. The President’s block of the ITC ban is the first block of this kind since the 1987 Reagan administration.

Both Apple and Samsung have both responded to the news. A Samsung spokesman told AllThingsD the following:

 

We are disappointed that the U.S. Trade Representative has decided to set aside the exclusion order issued by the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC). The ITC’s decision correctly recognized that Samsung has been negotiating in good faith and that Apple remains unwilling to take a license.

You can read the full letter from the government below:

Read more

Google launches new City Experts program, trades merchandise for local reviews

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In an effort to improve its local reviews and compete with services like Yelp, Google has just launched a new service dubbed City Experts (via Engadget). The network is open to users on Google+ who have reviewed at least 50 places already and are located in select cities  in the U.S., U.K., Australia, and Japan. In order to remain in good standing, City Experts must provide at least five new reviews each month that meet Google’s guidelines of being well written, are three or four sentences long, and include an image.

Are you an expert on all the best places to eat, shop and play in your city? If so, then we want you to join the Google City Expert program and start receiving exclusive perks! The Google City Expert program brings together the most active users on Google Maps who write reviews and upload photos of local places. A

Those who meet all of these guidelines will be rewarded with exclusive invites to local events, “special online recognition”, and “custom swag”, which is Google-branded items.

Read more

Google launches ‘Android Device Manager’ to find and wipe misplaced devices

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Google today announced on its Official Android Blog that it’s launching a brand new tool called ‘Android Device Manager’ that will let users easily locate and remotely wipe misplaced or stolen devices. Anyone familiar with the Find My iPhone feature that Apple has made available to iOS device users will already be quite familiar with how the software works.

Much like Apple’s service, Android Device Manager will let users locate their device on a Map in real-time, as well as remotely wipe the device of all data if happens to get into the wrong hands. You’ll also be able to make your device ring at maximum volume if you happen to misplace it in a nearby location.

If you ended up dropping your phone between those couch cushions, Android Device Manager lets you quickly ring your phone at maximum volume so you can find it, even it’s been silenced. And in the event that your phone or tablet is out of earshot (say, at that restaurant you left it at last night), you can locate it on a map in real time

Google’s announcement comes at a time when government officials are pressuring Apple, Google, and other smartphone manufacturers to implement new theft deterrent features. While Google’s new tool would be one step in the right direction, it doesn’t appear to go beyond what Apple has already had in place since back in 2010.

Recently, Apple announced a new Activation Lock feature that requires an Apple ID and password to reactivate a stolen phone after being remotely erased/wiped by the owner through the Apple Find my iPhone feature. The login information will also now be required to turn off Find My iPhone. If a user’s device is stolen, wiping the device clean will essentially leave the thief with a device that is inoperable without the user’s Apple ID and password. It doesn’t appear that Google’s new tool includes a similar feature.

Google said the new Android Device Manager service will available later this month for devices running Android 2.2 and up, and an Android app will also be available to help users manage their devices.

Motorola confirms new family of “Moto X” devices, including a low-cost version, coming soon

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Following yesterday’s launch of the Moto X and pricing and availability details for US carriers, Motorola today confirmed (via Pocket-Lint) that the device will not be available to consumers in the UK.  It’s not all bad news, however, as Motorola is hinting at a whole family of devices that will follow the branding of its new flagship Moto X and become available in additional markets.

A spokesperson for Motorola reassured Pocket-lint that Europe is still a key priority for the company, and that “Moto X is the first device in a new product portfolio, basically a new family of devices.”

“Because it is the first one, the Moto X has had a real buzz around it, but the US launch is not about the US being Motorola’s priority at all, there are devices coming to Europe. We can’t share what they are as of yet, but they are from the same family. They are cool and they are exciting and there is a lot in Europe coming up.”

Cnet dug up a little more on the upcoming devices, noting that one of them will be a lower-cost Moto X for US prepaid customers and other emerging markets: Read more

As expected, T-Mobile confirms it’s not yet on board to sell Moto X in stores

You might remember back in July when we first reported that T-Mobile was actually not yet signed up to carry the Moto X. Yesterday Motorola officially announced the device and, while it said that it will be available through all carriers (including T-Mobile), today T-Mobile backed up our original report by confirming that it will indeed not be selling the Moto X in its stores (via AllThingsD): Read more