With Google Fiber promising 1Gb speeds for $70 a month – a dramatically better deal than anything else currently available in the USA – there had been a pretty widespread assumption that it was a tech experiment on Google’s part, to see what kind of services could be offered on a really high-speed link, rather than a money-making business. But not so, says a Google Fiber exec speaking at a Fiber-to-the-Home Council meeting covered by CNET … Read more
Last week, Facebook announced two new products to expand their reach in the mobile market: Facebook Home, a downloadable Facebook-intergrated skin for Android phones and the HTC Facebook First, the first official hardware by the company. The First is scheduled to be released April 12th for $99 exclusively through AT&T. Naturally, the First comes pre-loaded with Facebook Home.
Facebook Home is a downloadable launcher for Android phones only, and a few of its key features such as Chat Heads are getting much praise by reviewers. On the other hand, the First is being criticized for its lack-luster hardware such as the mediocre 5MP camera and lack of a dedicated shutter button.
If you want to read all about Facebook’s new duo of software and hardware, below is a round-up of some of the reviews from around the web…
The HTC First is compelling for two reasons. For Facebook fans, it’s now easier to maintain social connections with friends and family. For the tech-savvy crowd who has little interest in the service, the phone is a stock Android 4.1 device that comes with AT&T LTE, which is still something of a rarity. Including this opt-out was a smart move on Facebook’s part, because it’s difficult to recommend that consumers sign two-year contracts on an unproven product that depends so heavily on their engagement with Facebook. Worst case, it’s a decent mid-range phone for $99 on contract (or $450 without any commitment).
Facebook Home isn’t perfect, nor will it convince many non-Facebookers to start Liking and commenting with reckless abandon. But it’s aesthetically pleasing, and surprisingly polished for a 1.0 product.
Samsung and Visa today announced a deal that would see future Samsung devices preloaded with the Visa payWave applet, allowing consumers to “wave and pay” through Visa’s contactless payment terminals. The Visa payWave service will of course only come preloaded on select Samsung devices, but rumor has it that the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S4 will be the first to receive the functionality. While Samsung and Visa were showing off the technology with existing NFC-enabled devices at MWC this week, CNET and others have apparently confirmed through sources that the S4 will indeed be the first device to get the applet preloaded.
- Global Strategic Alliance
Visa and Samsung have agreed to work together to enable the next generation of Samsung mobile devices with Visa payment technology, and to partner with financial institutions to accelerate the availability of mobile payment solutions globally.
- Samsung to Connect to Visa’s Mobile Provisioning Service
In order to enable financial institutions to launch large scale mobile (NFC) payment programs, Samsung will offer banks the ability to load payment account information over-the-air to a secure chip embedded inSamsung devices, using Visa’s Mobile Provisioning Service3 which is linked to Samsung KMS (Key Management System) – a service that creates secure data storage domains for issuers.
- Samsung Awarded Global Visa payWave License
The Visa payWave mobile applet will be preloaded onto selected next-generation Samsung mobile devices featuring NFC technology and an embedded secure element. Off the shelf, these devices are ready to be personalized with Visa payment account information – a simple step that consumers will be able to initiate using a mobile payment application provided by their financial institution.
Visa also noted that the partnership, which isn’t exclusive with Samsung, will allow financial institutions with mobile payment programs to “use the Visa Mobile Provisioning Service to securely download payment account information to NFC-enabled Samsung devices.”
Google is getting rid of anonymous reviews in its Google Play store and informing users that from now on store reviews “will be posted publicly using your Google+ name and picture.” There doesn’t appear to be an option at this point to not use your Google+ identity, which means we might get a bit of backlash from users. However, it also means more accountability and potentially better reviews. The update was first spotted on the web version of the Google Play store, as pictured above, but it is apparently making its way out to mobile users too.
The U.S. House of Representatives’ Select Committee on Intelligence just published a report that deemed two Chinese manufacturers of routers, switches, and telecoms equipment as a possible threat to national security, and it subsequently warned American companies to purchase their hardware elsewhere.
According to the committee’s press release:
The Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Intelligence Committee, Mike Rogers (R-MI) and C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD), today released a report recommending to U.S. companies considering doing business with Chinese telecommunications companies Huawei and ZTE to find another vendor. The report encourages U.S. companies to take into account the long-term security risks associated with either company providing equipment or services to our telecommunications infrastructure. Additionally, the report recommends that U.S. government systems, particularly sensitive systems, exclude Huawei or ZTE equipment or component parts.
Reuters reported that Huawei and ZTE are the world’s second- and fifth-largest manufacturers, respectively, of telecom equipment by revenue. ZTE ranks fourth in the global mobile smartphone sector, however, while Huawei sits in sixth. The majority of both companies’ U.S. sales come from devices sold through U.S. carriers like Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile USA.
We told you in January that MetroPCS planned to bring local broadcast TV to Android devices through the “Dyle Mobile TV” app. We knew, at the time, Samsung would launch the first device to feature the service preloaded, and we get the details today with CNET reporting that the 4.3-inch Samsung Galaxy S Lightray 4G will officially introduce the Dyle Mobile TV service. Unfortunately, the service requires the device—which is a variant of US Cellular’s Galaxy S Aviator—to have a retractable antenna:
Dyle is the answer for people who can’t live without their favorite daytime talk shows and soap operas. Essentially a mobile TV service that picks up special broadcasts of local TV channels, Dyle allows you to get programming anywhere you have your handset or smartphone. In the works for years, it’s finally launched on the Samsung Galaxy S Lightray 4G, which MetroPCS began selling today.