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Sony Ericsson W518a Bruce Walkman 3.2 Megapixel Camera AT&T Unlocked World Phone - Red
Sony Ericsson W518a Bruce Walkman 3.2 Megapixel Camera AT&T Unlocked World Phone - Red
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AT&T’s Prepaid Plans Gain Access to Sponsored Data Program

AT&T’s prepaid customers are being given access to the company’s sponsored data program. The sponsored data program allows companies to sponsor the data usage for specific content on behalf of eligible AT&T wireless customers, meaning customers can consume select content and not be charged for it. This program has been available to AT&T’s postpaid customers for some time. AT&T’s prepaid customers can now, for example, make use of the DirecTV Now streaming video service without it impacting their monthly data allotment. The sponsored data program also applies to other AT&T-owned services, such as U-Verse. Customers who subscribe to AT&T’s $35 and $45 prepaid plans are automatically opted in to the sponsored data program. AT&T gives customers the ability to opt out if they so wish. AT&T has been notifying customers of the change via text message since last week.


Snapchat Works In Giphy Support, Debuts Tabs

Snapchat is pushing an update to its mobile app that adds several new features, including support for Giphy stickers and Tabs. With Giphy on board, Snapchat users can add GIF stickers to their snaps by tapping the sticker button. The GIF stickers can be placed anywhere on the photo or video, as well as resized and pinned in place. The Tabs tool is meant to help people keep tabs on their preferred stories. The Tabs section is built into the Friends and Discover pages. It lets people sift through the active stories and group chats shared by their friends. Giphy support is available in the latest version of Snapchat for Android and iOS, while the Tabs tool is rolling in phases over the next few weeks.


Apple Releases Third Developer Beta of iOS 11.3

Apple today made a new beta version of iOS 11.3 available to developers. iOS 11.3 Beta 3 tweaks performance and includes the battery health meter for certain devices. The tool is meant to help people balance battery life and speed/performance of older iPhones. The public version of iOS 11.3 will likely be released later this week. Apple said the final version of iOS 11.3 will be available to all consumers this spring. Earlier this week, the company released iOS 11.2.6 to resolve several bugs.


Google Pay Arrives to Fully Replace Android Pay and Google Wallet

Google today released Google Pay, the revised payment application and service that replaces Android Pay. Google Pay encompasses most features of Google Wallet and Android Pay in a single app, allowing people to use Google Pay to make payments online and via mobile devices. Google Pay is already accepted on some apps and web sites, including Airbnb, Dice, Fandango, HungryHouse, and Instacart. Google expects Google Pay to become more widely available online quickly, as developers don't have to do much to alter their existing Google Wallet- and Android Pay-backed services for full Google Pay integration. Google Pay for Android features information about nearby stores, recent purchases, and access to rewards. A new tab helps users collect and organize their loyalty and membership cards. Google Pay supports mass transit payments in Kiev, London, and Portland, with more cities coming soon. The Google Wallet app is being rebranded to Google Pay Send and will soon allow people in the U.S. and U.K. to send/request money to/from their peers. Google Pay is available from the Google Play Store.


Nuance Puts Swipe+Dragon In the App Graveyard

Nuance says its Swype+Dragon application for Android and iOS has reached end of development. "Nuance will no longer be updating the Swype+Dragon keyboard for Android. We’re sorry to leave the direct-to-consumer keyboard business, but this change is necessary to allow us to concentrate on developing our AI solutions for sale directly to businesses," confirmed Nuance to XDA Developers. Swype was an early leader in the swiping-keyboard space. It started as an independent app, but was later acquired by Nuance. Nuance continued to develop the app and eventually integrated the swiping keyboard with its own Dragon voice dictation technology. The space is competitive, however, and Google's own GBoard application has garnered quick adoption on many Android devices. Swype+Dragon is still available from the Play Store for the time being, but it will no longer receive updates.


Qualcomm Raises Its Bid for NXP

Qualcomm today increased its offer to acquire NXP Semiconductors to $127.50 per share, or about $44 billion. The new offer reflects the increased value of each company, both of which have grown since the deal originated. Qualcomm first proposed to acquire NXP in October of 2016. The process of gaining shareholder approval and clearing regulatory hurdles has consumed more than a year. The new deal was approved by the boards of both Qualcomm and NXP. NXP is a co-inventor and key patent holder of NFC technology. Qualcomm already integrates NXP secure element technology into its Snapdragon chips. NXP is the fifth-largest semiconductor maker (excluding memory chips). NXP is also a leader in chips for automotive networks, IoT, and most types of wireless radios. Qualcomm believes this new offer will find support within the ranks of NXP's shareholders.


Review: Speck Presidio Ultra Case for iPhone X

Speck's newest case for the Apple iPhone X, the Presidio Ultra, is a three-piece kit that includes a base case, an extra bumper, and a rugged holster. If you need hardcore protection with a little bit of flexibility throughout the day, the Presidio Ultra is an interesting entry.


iOS 11.2.6 Fixes Character-Based Messaging Bug

Apple today released iOS 11.2.6 to resolve several bugs. Primarily, the minor update tackles an issue where using certain characters could cause apps such as iMessage and WhatsApp to crash. The update also patches a problem where some third-party apps could fail to connect to external accessories. The iOS 11.2.6 is free to download over the air.


Microsoft Disabling Notifications for Windows Phone 7.5 and 8

Microsoft says devices running Windows Phone 7.5 and 8.0 have reached end-of-life status and will no longer be supported. Beginning February 20, Microsoft will turn off push notification services for Windows Phone 7.5 and Windows Phone 8.0. This means devices running those platforms will no longer receive notifications, will not receive live tile updates, and will not be able to use Find My Phone to locate the device. Microsoft says Windows Phone 8.1 and Windows 10 Mobile remain fully supported for the time being. Devices running Windows Phone 7.5 and Windows Phone 8.0 were originally sold in the 2011 and 2012 timeframe.


Essential Selling Halo Gray Essential Phone with Alexa via Amazon

Essential Products today outed a fourth new color of its PH-1 Essential Phone that's exclusive to Amazon. The Halo Gray version of the Essential Phone is available for preorder from Amazon.com for $449 starting today. In addition to the fresh coat of paint, this Amazon exclusive ships with the Alexa app preinstalled. It will ship starting February 21. Essential recently revealed new black, blue, and gray models that are for sale directly from Essential's web site. The Essential Phone includes an edge-to-edge display, 13-megapixel rear cameras, 128 GB of storage, Snapdragon 835 processor, and magnetic connectors for modular attachments.


Review: IK Multimedia iRig Pro I/O for iPhone

The iRig Pro I/O is a compact audio interface that lets musicians, singers, and podcasters connect their instruments or microphones to Apple iPhones, iPads, and Macs. It takes all the best features of the larger iRig Pro Duo and boils them down to the most essential tools in a highly portable package.


Verizon Adjusts Prepaid Pricing and Adds Travel Pass for $5

Verizon Wireless today changed up its prepaid service offerings by adding a new low-cost option and other features previously reserved for postpaid customers. Verizon Prepaid service now starts at $30 per month, which buys unlimited talk and text with 500 MB of data. Verizon Prepaid also offers 3 GB of data for $40 per month, 7 GB for $50, or 10 GB for $60. Verizon says all its prepaid plans include carryover data (for one month), mobile hotspot, and unlimited international texting to 200 countries. Customers who subscribe to the Prepaid Unlimited plan, which costs $75 per month, will enjoy unlimited use of mobile hotspot at 3G speeds (600 Kbps). Prepaid customers who travel to Canada or Mexico will be happy to learn that Verizon now offers Travel Pass for $5 per day. Customers who tack on Travel Pass when in Canada or Mexico will have access to unlimited talk and text, and their normal monthly data allotment. Verizon suggests customers should add Travel Pass via the My Verizon app before they travel. New customers who switch to Verizon Prepaid and subscribe to a $50 plan or higher will receive a $50 bill credit. These new options will be available to Verizon Prepaid customers starting February 20.


Qualcomm Says Broadcom's Overtures Not Striking Right Notes

Qualcomm today said Broadcom's acquisition offer simply isn't good enough as currently proposed. The companies met earlier this week to go over some of the finer points of Broadcom's $121 billion bid to purchase Qualcomm, and Qualcomm still came away leery that the deal won't work out. To start, Broadcom reiterated that its offer of $82 per share is its best offer, a figure that Qualcomm insists undervalues the company. Further, Qualcomm said Broadcom resisted the idea of agreeing to "commitments that could be expected to be required by ... government regulatory bodies." Moreover, Broadcom refused to discuss how it would treat Qualcomm's licensing business, a matter that would make predicting antitrust-related issues difficult. Broadcom insisted on controlling all materials regarding the licensing business between signing the deal and closing the deal -- something Qualcomm says violates antitrust laws. Last, Qualcomm called Broadcom's breakup fee, should the deal not pass regulatory muster, far short of what might be needed to compensate Qualcomm stockholders for the risks involved. Qualcomm concluded by saying, "The current Broadcom proposal is unacceptable." As it did earlier, however, Qualcomm left the door open for Broadcom to improve its offer. Qualcomm said it would meet with Broadcom again should Broadcom up the ante and make more assurances concerning the risks involved.


Apple Prepping Fix for Message Bug that Crashes iPhones

Apple says it has a patch in the works that will counter a bug causing iPhones, iPads, Apple Watches, and even Macs to crash. The bug occurs when people receive a message with certain Indian language characters in apps including iMessage, Facebook Messenger, and WhatsApp. According to The Verge, Apple will push the patch "soon." This means the bug will be fixed through a minor update (iOS 11.2.x) rather than the larger iOS 11.3 update expected later this spring. Apple also plans to issue patches for macOS and watchOS to resolve the issue on those devices.


Google to Acquire IoT Firm Xivley

Google announced plans to acquire Xively, an internet-of-things provider, from LogMeIn. The company's technology will be added to Google's Cloud IoT Core unit, helping it with device management, messaging, and dashboard features. Google says its customers will reap the rewards of Xively's flexible, secure platform as they bring IoT products based on Clout IoT Core to market. Together with Google Cloud's data analytics and machine learning, Google expects the acquisition to benefit IoT device makers and service providers, as well as the customers of those companies. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. It is subject to regulatory approval.


Apple Puts Its Foot Down, Will Require Apps Support iPhone X

Apple today told developers that soon all new apps submitted to the iTunes App Store must support the screen of the latest iPhone. "Starting April 2018, all new iOS apps submitted to the App Store must be built with the iOS 11 SDK, included in Xcode 9 or later," said Apple in an email to developers. "All new apps for iPhone, including universal apps, must support the Super Retina display of iPhone X." The iPhone X display swaps the 16:9 aspect ratio found on the iPhone 6, 7, and 8 for a 2:1 aspect ratio with a notch at the top. It also boosts the resolution beyond full HD. Apps that haven't yet been updated for the iPhone X often have black bars at the top and bottom, which look unsightly. Developers can find the iOS 11 SDK on Apple's developer web site.


Google Releases Lightweight Gmail Go for Low-End Android Phones

Google has made a light and quick version of Gmail available to select handsets. Gmail Go is a slimmed-down version of Gmail that works better on devices with limited resources or spotty network connections. The app consumes less space on devices and requires less storage for email messages. It includes many of Gmail's signature features, including 15 GB of online storage, notifications, focused inbox, spam protection, and support for multiple accounts (IMAP/POP). Gmail Go is free to download from the Google Play Store, though Google hasn't specified which devices are able to use it. The majority fo Google's "Go" apps are reserved for entry-level devices in emerging markets. Gmail Go is not compatible with many of today's high-end phones.


Nokia Weighing Whether Withings-Based Health Biz Still Worth It

Nokia today said it is weighing strategic options for its Digital Health business. Nokia acquired wearable-maker Withings in 2016 and used that as the basis of its Digital Health business, with is part of the Nokia Technologies group. The Digital Health unit is responsible for smartwatches, scales, and other digital health devices for both consumers and businesses. "The strategic review of the Digital Health business may or may not result in any transaction or other changes," said the company. "Any further announcements about the Digital Health business will be made if and when appropriate." Nokia didn't say if or when it might make a decision. Nokia's main business is in developing and selling telecommunications gear.


Google Maps for iOS Gains One-Tap Access to Commute Info

Google today updated Google Maps for iOS devices with new real-time tools to make finding information on the go even quicker. iPhone owners can now swipe up when using Google Maps to open three tabs: explore, driving, and transit. These tabs contain information about nearby restaurants, real-time traffic conditions, and train/bus schedules. These features have been available to Google Maps for Android since last year. Google Maps for iOS is free to download from the iTunes App Store.


Essential Phone Debuts Three New Colors

Essential Products today introduced three new color options for the PH-1 Essential Phone. Ocean Depths will go on sale starting today, with Stellar Gray following on February 20 and Copper Black arriving February 22. The phones will be available from Essential's web site for $599. Other than the colors, these limited edition handsets are identical to those already for sale.


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