Google, Android manufacturers agree to participate in “Smartphone Anti-Theft Voluntary Commitment” program

 

android-device-manager

Google has agreed to back a new initiative along with a host of Android manufacturers and all of the major U.S. cellular carriers that would require all smartphones manufactured after July 2015 to come with specific anti-theft features. The program is the latest attempt to prevent theft of smartphones, which some have blamed for increasing crime rates.

To this end, Google introduced the Android Device Manager application last year, allowing users to locate or wipe lost or stolen devices. Today’s agreement between the carriers and handset manufacturers essentially states that all parties will ship this type of system on new phones.

Specifically, the required anti-theft measures are broken into four kinds:
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Report: Google exploring its own wireless network in Fiber cities

via Google

According to a new report from The Information, Google has been exploring the possibility of providing its own wireless network in cities where Fiber, its ultra high-speed broadband service, exists.

After thrusting itself into competition with U.S. cable operators, Google is inching closer to competing with wireless carriers, too.

Google executives in recent months discussed their hope to offer a full-fledged wireless service in markets where it offers Google Fiber Internet and TV service, according to two people who have discussed the matter with Google. Such an offering would mean Google customers in places like Kansas City, Mo. could get voice and Internet access through their mobile devices wherever they go.

While the report seems to be vague on specifics, it suggests that a potential Google-operated wireless provider could use WiFi access spots built on Google Fiber’s gigabit broadband and rely on another wireless provider in the area to provide service to cover the gaps. Read more

Sprint starts Galaxy S5 pre-orders for $199 ahead of April 11th launch

Glam_Gear-2,-Galaxy-S5-White

This week both AT&T and T-Mobile have shared their launch plans for Samsung’s new flagship Galaxy S5 smartphone, and this morning Sprint has released details for its customers as well.

Starting this morning, Sprint is taking reservations in its stores to be notified of Galaxy S5 availability on April 11th. Sprint will offer the Galaxy S5 in black or white for $0/down and 24 payments of $27 through its Sprint Easy Pay plan. This offer, in conjunction with signing up with a Sprint Framily plan, includes a 7″ Galaxy Tab 3 tablet with a 2-year contract and data plan for a limited time.

Sprint is also offering pre-orders for customers purchasing the Galaxy S5 through the traditional methods for $199 after a $50 reward card redeemed via a mail-in rebate… so $249 up front. Read more

Sprint introduces new “Framily” plans, allowing up to ten friends, family, or random strangers to share a plan

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This is not the promo card for an awful ABC sitcom

Today Sprint announced a new offer that allows up to ten “framily” (that’s friends+family) members to share a common plan. The “framily” plan (yes, they’re really calling it that) offers unlimited talk and text for up to ten people, even if they don’t live in the same household, as required by many previous family plans. Each member of the “framily” will also get 1 GB of data each as long as they don’t roam onto another network.

Unlike old family plans, “framily” plans allow everyone to get a separate bill sent to their homes. As you add more people to your group, the bill drops by $5 for everyone, and goes as low as $25 per month if you have seven or more “framily” members. The plans will be available in Sprint retail stores starting on January 10th.

LG G Flex coming to the US in Q1 on Sprint, AT&T, and T-Mobile

Just a few minutes ago during its CES 2014 press event, LG announced that its highly-anticipated G Flex device will be making its way to the United States in Q1 and is destined for Sprint, T-Mobile, and AT&T. We’d heard rumors of United States G Flex availability for a while, but this is the first time LG has confirmed its plans.

Early reviews of the self-healing G Flex were rather mixed. The main issue most reviewers had, however, was the price tag for the device. Presumably, when it hits United States carriers, it will be subsidized, which will reduce the initial up-front cost. Reviewers also remarked that the curved design made the device’s size more manageable and ergonomic. They also had positive things to say about the G Flex’s performance, and camera, though they were somewhat skeptical of the “self-healing” back.

The big question surrounding the device now is its subsidized price on T-Mobile, AT&T, and Sprint. We should hear more about that as we progress further into the first quarter.

With T-Mobile? AT&T will give you $450 to switch … kind of

Photo: Fox
Photo: Fox

AT&T has announced incentives worth up to $450 for T-Mobile customers who switch to their service. The move is being made in response to T-Mobile’s Uncarrier offers, after AT&T recently said that it too expected to move toward separating device and service charges.

Proving the old adage that there’s no such thing as a free lunch, the deal of course comes with strings. First, $250 of that is the maximum you’ll receive in return for trading in your existing T-Mobile handset. To get the full $250, you’ll need a recent handset in good condition – in which case you’d almost certainly get more selling it privately …  Read more