CNET Stories August 5, 2014

stylus

LG’s flagship smartphone the LG G3 appears set to take on Samsung’s Galaxy Note series as an official promotional video just leaked a second variant, the G3 Stylus.

Appearing right at the end of the video, we learn nothing more about the device other than its name and the fact that, yep, you’d never guess, it has a stylus. We liked the G3 very much, so it’ll certainly be interesting to see whether the new device is able to put up serious competition for Samsung’s Galaxy Note …  expand full story

CNET Stories July 9, 2014

glass

Google X director and former head of Google Glass Babak Parviz said at the Wearable Technologies Conference that the company’s product is “one answer” but “not necessarily the definitive answer,” reports CNET.

Parviz, who last month stepped aside from leading the Glass team in favor of the more fashion-focused Ivy Ross, described the product as a first step in the right direction.

This is a nice first step to where we want to go. We can see glimmers of how this might work out …

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CNET Stories April 3, 2014

Intel names next Chromebook-friendly chip ‘Braswell’, talks 64-bit Android

Intel shared some news this week about its upcoming processors and more this week at an event held in China.

As CNET reports, Intel’s senior vice president Kirk Skaugen revealed that the company’s follow up to its Chromebook-friendly Bay Trail processor is being called Braswell and will feature the usual jumps in battery efficiency and performance.

Intel also discussed optimizing Android for 64-bit:

Intel released Android KitKat 4.4 with a 64-bit kernel optimized for Intel Architecture devices. “With this release, the company ported, validated and tested the Android Open Source code on IA, taking on the work that developers typically would need to do on their own. This release will provide the ecosystem with 64-bit kernel support for development of next-generation devices,” Intel said. (The chipmaker noted that Android KitKat is a 32-bit OS.)

CNET Stories February 25, 2014

Motorola working on a smartwatch for 2014, SVP says

During a panel discuss during Mobile World Congress in Barcelona today, Motorola senior vice president Rick Osterloh revealed the hardware company is working on a smartwatch with plans to ship later this year, CNET reports.

Osterloh didn’t reveal much more in terms of specifics about what Motorola’s offering will present, but did hint that its smartwatch would consider fashion in its presentation:

“Right now, there are non wearable products you actually want to wear, and it’s because they’re all extremely ugly,” Osterloh said at an event at Mobile World Congress on Tuesday.

Google, which recently announced a deal to unpack Motorola onto Lenovo in a multibillion dollar deal, is also reportedly working on its own smartwatch offering through a partnership with LG.

While Motorola offered no specifics on when to expect its smartwatch aside from later this year according to CNET, Google is expected to reveal its smartwatch next month before it’s launch in June at Google I/O.

 

CNET Stories February 23, 2014

google-watch-2

CNET is reporting that Google is set to announce a smartwatch next month, manufactured by LG (who also manufactured the two most recent Nexus phones). The device is described as the Nexus of smartwatches, with Google controlling the design of software and hardware.

Although Google will announce the product in March, the watch will not be released until June at Google I/O. As 9to5Google reported last year, Google’s smartwatch will revolve around Google Now’s assistant features with voice playing a major role in how users interact with the product.

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CNET Stories January 27, 2014

Google does U-turn on magazine-style web layouts in favor of faster browsing

Google has changed its mind about supporting an Adobe tool to allow magazine-style layout on web pages after deciding that the technology would have too great an impact on browsing speeds, reports CNET.

The technology, known as CSS Regions, allows text to flow around irregularly-shaped objects, as in the example above. Google had initially supported the project, part of a move by Adobe to bring Flash-style capabilities into native web standards, intending to incorporate the code into its Blink browser engine.

Google Chrome programmer Eric Seidel says that Adobe’s current approach has too great a performance hit.

I believe Blink’s focus this year must be on mobile and specifically mobile performance…I have come to understand that Regions both does not play well with existing performance optimizations [and] impedes ongoing simplification and optimization work to our core rendering code,” Seidel said about his reversal of opinion on CSS Regions. “Regions addresses some very real deficiencies of the Web platform. But I believe Blink (hopefully with Adobe’s help) will need to find other simpler/smaller ways to address these deficiencies.”

Another Google Chrome programmer echoed this view, stating that while magazine-style layouts were appealing, Google’s priority is maximising browser performance with web apps in mind.

CNET Stories December 10, 2013

Google-Floating-barge-Maine

 

Google’s Barge projects have apparently been put on hold according a new CNET report this morning. The report indicates that Google is definitely planning on completing the project, but at this point it looks to be well into 2014 before it sees the light of day.

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CNET Stories November 13, 2013

Photo: Jessica Dolcourt/CNET
Photo: Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

Verizon Wireless, once the gold standard for LTE, has admitted that it is struggling to keep up with demand in the big cities – with some users being dropped down to slower 3G speeds. The carrier’s Chief Financial Officer Fran Shammo said yesterday:

There are certain pockets where we’re absolutely going to experience that down tick from the LTE network down to 3G because of capacity constraints …  expand full story

CNET Stories July 24, 2013

Motorola now exclusive Verizon Droid manufacturer, last pre-Google handsets roll off line

While we already knew that the Droid MAXX, Droid Ultra and Droid Mini, like all Droids would be exclusive to Verizon (‘Droid’ is a Verizon brand licensed from LucasArts after all!).  CNET now reports that the exclusivity will work in reverse too: with all Droid-branded devices being manufactured exclusively by Motorola.

Starting with the Droid Ultra lineup, Motorola will be the only smartphone manufacturer to build Droid smartphones, Verizon marketing executive Jeff Dietel told CNET on Tuesday.

Verizon had previously used the Droid brand for handsets from a range of manufacturers, including HTC’s Incredible series and Samsung’s Droid Charge. With HTC moving to its own ‘One’ branding and Samsung’s own, more powerful Galaxy branding, the news doesn’t come as much of a surprise.

These latest handsets are likely the last vestiges of pre-Google Motorola and with the Moto X coming in a few short days, these are likely some of, if not the last devices designed before the takeover by Google.  Google-installed CEO Dennis Woodside noted earlier this year that Google was working to clear some mediocre inventory that had been been built by his predecessors. With due respect to Mr. Woodside, the 48-hour battery life and other specs on these are going to give the X phones a run for their money.

CNET Stories May 31, 2013

Credit: CNET/Marguerite Reardon

Credit: CNET/Marguerite Reardon

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 … expand full story

CNET Stories April 9, 2013

facebook-home1

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…

Engadget:

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.

CNET: expand full story

CNET Stories April 2, 2013

Verizon and AT&T rumored to consider acquiring Vodafone assets, valuing the entity at quarter trilllion dollars

AT&T and Verizon could soon jointly bid to acquire Vodafone.

Vodafone is second only to China Mobile for the world’s largest mobile telecommunications companies due to 439 million subscribers and high revenues in December 2011.

CNET reported the deal would value Vodafone at $245 billion, if signed. For reference purposes: Verizon’s market cap is now at $142.09 billion, and AT&T sits at 205.88 billion.

The deal would also allow Verizon to acquire Vodafone’s 45 percent stake in U.S. operations. AT&T would then acquire the remaining business outside of the U.S.

The Financial Times, which cited “usually reliable people,” noted both U.S. carriers feel comfortable sharing the risk associated with such a huge deal and further believe it will pass any regulatory obstacles.

CNET Stories February 25, 2013

Olimpicshop

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.” expand full story

CNET Stories November 27, 2012

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.

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CNET Stories November 1, 2012

AT&T and T-Mobile begin initiative to discourage theft by merging databases of stolen devices

AT&T and T-Mobile recently announced they would start to share a combined database of stolen mobile devices that aspires to discourage theft and shield customers.

All the major carriers, through their wireless association CTIA and the Federal Communications Commission, first revealed plans in April to merge their respective databases, but AT&T and T-Mobile were the first to do so yesterday.

CNET specifically elaborated on how the joint database works:

The database went live yesterday, and allows either AT&T or T-Mobile to block a device from being used on either network. In order to do that, the companies ban a device’s IMEI number — a unique identifier that tells networks what the device is and who owns it — and effectively stop it from being able to place calls.

In the past, stolen smartphones were blocked by eliminating the use of a SIM card. However, in the GSM world, a phone can be used with any SIM card. So, if a thief stole a device and popped in a new SIM card, it would still work. By targeting the IMEI number, that’s no longer the case.

Sprint and Verizon are expected join the initiative by November 2013.

CNET Stories October 8, 2012

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.

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CNET Stories August 3, 2012

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. expand full story

CNET Stories July 2, 2012

Nokia hints at Android fallback plan if Windows Phone continues to suck

A Nokia board chairperson admitted to a Finnish talk show recently that his company has a backup plan in case the Windows Phone 8 software continues to fail.

According to CNET (via Yle Uutiset), Risto Siilasmaa, who has only been with Nokia since May, hailed the 2011 transition from Symbian to Microsoft’s Windows Phone during Thursday’s interview on “Päivän Kasvo“. Despite the accolades, he said a “contingency plan” is in place should the current mobile operating system “fail to live up to expectations.”

Windows Phone 8 launched in June and barely grabbed 0.18-percent of the marketshare for the month, according to NetMarketShare findings. The prospects do not look good, but Siilasmaa expects the OS to hold its own. Meanwhile, the details of Nokia’s Plan B are unknown. 9to5Google thinks the mysterious backup plan certainly hints at Android.

Google’s mobile operating system could be Nokia’s only saving grace, but fierce competition from Samsung and HTC will make a much-needed recovery even harder for the fledging manufacturer.

CNET Stories June 26, 2012

The next Kindle Fire is eyeing a July 31 launch date.

CNET just reported that Amazon’s next version of the widely popular Kindle Fire, otherwise dubbed the “Kindle Fire 2” or the second-generation Kindle Fire, would unveil next month. The publication cited “a credible source” but could not confirm the summer date, and it pointed to DigiTimes for specs, which claimed the rumored 7-inch eReader will release with a $199 price tag and 1,2800-by-800 pixel display at the beginning of the third quarter.

According to CNET:

The DigiTimes article cited the usual sources in the “upstream supply chain” and talked about how Amazon would reduce the price of the current Kindle Fire to $149. It also speculated that Amazon’s long-rumored larger tablet is still on hold but that new e-ink Kindles with integrated lighting were expected to be released alongside the Kindle Fire 2 (or whatever Amazon chooses to call it).

Our source didn’t mention the higher resolution display but did say that the new tablet would have a camera and physical volume-control buttons (many users complained that the Kindle Fire only has on-screen volume controls).

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CNET Stories May 21, 2012

A European Union commissioner chief just gave Google “a matter of weeks” to settle allegations of competition-restricting activity that could help the search engine escape hefty fines and formal charges.

Joaquin Almunia, the European Union’s vice president of the European commission responsible for competition, announced today that he sent a letter to Google’s chairperson Eric Schmidt. The letter detailed the findings of an antitrust investigation into Google’s search practices, and it offered the search engine a chance to remedy its “abuses” by settling.

“I have just sent a letter to Eric Schmidt setting out these four points. In this letter, I offer Google the possibility to come up in a matter of weeks with first proposals of remedies to address each of these points,” said Alumnia.

The investigation found four areas, or points, where Google’s practices “may be considered as abuses of dominance,” such as: Google exhibits links to its own vertical search services; Google duplicates content from competing vertical search services; competition-restriction agreements between Google and partners on websites where Google provides search ads; and, restrictions that Google sets to the portability of ad campaigns from AdWords to other competitors’ platforms.

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CNET Stories April 23, 2012

Google spent $5M lobbying last quarter for open Web

Google spent $5.03 million lobbying in Washington last quarter.

According to the company’s lobbying report (PDF), the search engine’s lobbying efforts focused on the regulation of Web-based privacy, advertising, and competition, including International tax reform.

CNET’s Lance Whitney explained that Google only spent $3.76 million lobbying in Q4 2011 and $1.48 million Q1 2011, but attributed the recent surge in expenses mainly to one Congressional bill:

The search giant devoted lobby dollars to H.R. 1389 – Global Online Freedom Act of 2011, a Congressional bill designed to prevent U.S. companies from cooperating with repressive foreign governments in using the Internet for censorship and surveillance. Google has of course squared off in the past with China over the censorship of its search results.

The company lobbied for H.Con.Res. 114, a bill ‘expressing the sense of Congress that the United States should preserve, enhance, and increase access to an open, global Internet.’

It is worth noting that Apple only spent $500,000 lobbying last quarter.

CNET Stories March 26, 2012

Up until now, only Android users on Sprint had the luxury of integrating Google Voice into their main cell service. Due to a partnership with Google last year, users can enable Google Voice on their existing Sprint number providing them with access to better rates on international calling, visual online voicemail, personalized greetings, and the ability to use one number across all devices. According to a report from Cnet, Google’s Group Product Manager for Google Voice Vincent Paquet confirmed the company is in talks with other carriers about integrating the service:

“We are having discussions with other carriers about this.. Sprint integration has worked really well.. We have, since Day One, had a steady stream of people signing up for it.

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CNET Stories February 27, 2012

LG is lobbying Google to score a collaborating partnership on the next Nexus device.

“We’re having discussions,” said head of LG’s smartphone division Ramchan Woo to CNET in an interview. “We’re working on it.”

Garnering the honor would gain LG an ounce of prestige in the mobile industry, because the handset maker would have absolute access to Google’s offerings. Even if the financial benefits are on the low-end for LG, the company will inevitably surface with an impeccable reputation after working with the Mountain View, Calif.-based technology giant…

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CNET Stories February 24, 2012

Google plans to enter the tablet market in April with a self-branded 7-inch slate.

CNET’s Brooke Crothers said Display Search analyst Richard Shim expects 1.5 million to 2 million units with a 1280-by-800-resolution display to enter initial production this spring.

The rumor mill also indicates the Google-branded tablet will run Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich operating system, and it apparently also has Nexus ties. The device will see a $199 price tag to compete with Amazon’s Kindle Fire that has a 1024-by-600 display…

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CNET Stories July 29, 2011

Anticipating Android backers will face legal hurdles as Apple now has the upper hand in its case against HTC (here and here), Google has stepped up and bought more than a thousand IBM patents for an undisclosed sum. The news was first reported by the blog SEO by the Sea and picked up by The Wall Street Journal. The search company might use IBM inventions as a leverage against pending lawsuits that indirectly involve its Android software.

Google failed to outbid the Apple-led consortium which paid $4.5 billion for Nortel’s treasure chest of more than 6,000 patents covering wireless technologies, among them crucial inventions related to fourth-generation cellular networks. The new patent deal is in line with Google’s focus on snapping up patent portfolios left and right in creating a “disincentive for others to sue Google”as noted on their official blog back in April. The 1,030 granted patents Google bought from IBM cover varied technologies, including…

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