23/04/2014 - Home SmartPhone S Helps You Block Nuisance Calls
Let the wedding bells ring! Microsoft announced this morning that it finally has something we've been curious about since September: the actual date the company will complete its proposed acquisition of Nokia's devices and services business. In a blog post, Microsoft's General Counsel Brad Smith explained that all of the legal hurdles have been cleared and that the merger will officially take place this Friday, April 25th. "We look forward to introducing the next billion customers to Microsoft services via Nokia mobile phones," Smith said.
Microsoft will manage the Nokia.com domain and the company's social media presence for up to a year, and former Nokia CEO Stephen Elop will be in charge of Microsoft's devices group, reporting directly to CEO Satya Nadella. Aside from this, Microsoft has been pretty tight-lipped on details about what the post-acquisition world will be like, mainly due to legal restrictions. After this Friday, however, we hope the company will open up a bit more about what we can expect going forward.
Source: Microsoft Blog
Twitter wants to be smarter. Or, rather, it wants your smartphone (and, presumably, tablet) to be a lot smarter. To do that, it's bringing app maker, Cover, in-house. The announcement, made today via Cover's blog, is light on any financial details, and instead focuses on the team's potential to make the mobile Twitter experience "more useful and more contextual" as that social service continues to scale up.
As a refresher for those of you just learning of Cover's existence, the startup's responsible for a contextually aware Android lock screen -- hence the acquisition -- that's been available in beta since last fall. But, it remains to be seen, whether or not that app will continue to receive support from the team. At present, Cover has no plans to abandon its users and pull the app from Google Play. Although, it's likely that app will sunset as the team gets to work on serving up Twitter when you most expect it.
Now that the Windows Phone 8.1 and Cortana announcements are out of the way, Skype's spilling the details on its upcoming app refresh for Microsoft's new mobile platform. The upgraded Skype app for WP 8.1 will feature a new button that you can press to turn a regular phone call into a Skype video chat. It's similar to that FaceTime option iOS users see when they make calls, though obviously, Skype's version will only work if you have the other person's account details.
That's not all, though -- Skype will now also come with Cortana (the platform's Siri-like voice assistant) integration. This gives you the power to instantly launch convos by hitting the search icon and saying: "Skype, get [someone's name] on video." Other than that, the Microsoft-owned outfit is updating its Windows 8.1 and RT app, as well, so you can finally pin it to the taskbar and make it accessible on both Start and desktop screens. Unfortunately, the updated app might not be available as soon as WP 8.1 launches, but Skype says it should be out in the coming months.
Just before announcing "the next generation" of Nokia handsets, EVP of devices Stephen Elop dropped some update news for the freshly outed Windows Phone 8.1. Microsoft will be updating all Lumia devices that are running Windows Phone 8 to the next version. This means that many folks already sporting one of those WP8 smartphones can expect Cortana and all her vices in the days to come.
25/03/2014 - Nokia promises 'more Lumia' at April 2nd event
Windows Phone fans have more to look forward to this April than just the formal unveiling of Windows Phone 8.1 -- Nokia has sent out invitations for an April 2nd event in San Francisco that should deliver "more Lumia." The notice doesn't give any real hints as to what will be at the presentation. However, the event takes place on the first day of Microsoft's Build developer conference. Don't be shocked if Nokia unveils devices that need Windows Phone 8.1 to run, such as the rumored Lumia 630 (Moneypenny) and Lumia 930 (Martini). No matter what shows up, we'll be there to give you the full scoop.
Despite receiving all of the necessary confirmations in the US and Europe, Microsoft will need to wait a little longer than expected to finalize its $7.45 billion acquisition of Nokia. Originally expected to close in the first quarter of 2014, both companies today issued a progress report on the deal, explaining that while things were moving well in Asia, it may take until April for regulators there to give it the green light. While the necessary reviews are being conducted, Microsoft is wasting no time advertising its future smartphone union, stating that it will "accelerate our mobile-first, cloud-first imperatives." That, of course, means getting more Windows Phone handsets in customers' hands, something new Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella believes it can do a lot quicker once Nokia becomes part of the family.
AT&T's buyout of Leap Wireless is clearly going more smoothly than its failed bid for T-Mobile. The FCC has just approved the Leap acquisition, leaving only the Department of Justice's A-OK between AT&T and its dreams of additional spectrum. However, the carrier will have to abide by some conditions if it wants all that extra bandwidth. AT&T will have to launch LTE on Leap's unused airwaves no later than a year after the deal wraps up; the provider must also roll out LTE in parts of Texas within 18 months, offload some spectrum in the state and maintain roaming deals while Cricket's network is running. These kinds of requirements are par for the course in wireless mergers, though, and we suspect that it won't be long before AT&T has yet another company under its belt.
Via: Phone Scoop
Softbank CEO Masayoshi Son has been on a mission to purchase T-Mobile and merge it with the Now Network. His campaign began in secret, first involving several visits to regulators in Washington DC. In the past week, however, he's become much more vocal. Son appeared on The Charlie Rose Show and CNBC on Monday, claiming a post-merger Sprint will be good for the wireless industry. The next day he argued that broadband in the US is one of the slowest and most expensive in the world, and the answer is to encourage mobile broadband deployment.
Son's solution to the speed problem is to eventually deploy mobile broadband as fast as 200Mbps, but would a T-Mobile acquisition bring down the cost to consumers? The CEO certainly thinks so: he says the merger will launch a price war and enhance wireless competition unlike anything this country has ever seen. He's going up against federal regulators, two of the largest carriers in the country, and history: just over two years ago, AT&T's attempt to purchase T-Mobile fell flat when the FCC and Department of Justice determined that competition would take a nose dive. So we know Sprint's position on the matter, but what does the rest of the industry think about it?
"Hi there. I'm Cortana. I can help make life a bit easier for you." These are the first words of Microsoft's still unannounced virtual assistant codenamed "Cortana," according to a new video leaked by UnleashThePhones.com. If it's true, this is the best look we've had of the rumored Windows Phone 8.1 service so far. The video begins by showing Cortana as a dedicated Live Tile, and then takes us through the setup process. You'll be prompted to login with your Microsoft Account, which is required to enjoy all of the service's features; according to the permissions page, Cortana will have access to sources like your location data, voice input, contacts, calendar, search history, emails and texts, browser history and more.
26/02/2014 - Google denies making a bid for WhatsApp
Rumors that Google engaged in a bidding war with Facebook over WhatsApp are false -- at least, if you ask Google's Sundar Pichai. The Senior VP tells The Telegraph that his company "never made an offer" to buy the messaging giant, and that any claims to the contrary are "simply untrue." We're inclined to believe him, although the denial suggests that Facebook may have paid $19 billion so that it wouldn't have to compete with Google (or anyone else) on yet another important acquisition.
Source: The Telegraph
In a word: users. 450 million of them to be precise, and 315 million of those are active on a given day. In fact, WhatsApp's users are so prolific, its messaging volume is roughly equal to that of the entire world's SMS traffic. And, WhatsApp is huge overseas and in emerging markets. According to a report from mobile marketing and research firm Jana, the app is far and away the most used messaging service in India, Brazil, Mexico, Nigeria and South Africa. The Information, which got a more in depth look at Jana's research, shows that Facebook Messenger usage is far, far lower in those same countries.
Now, is that massive international user base worth $19 billion? It's hard for us to understand how it possibly could be. WhatsApp's founders have pledged to keep the app ad- and gimmick-free, so there aren't any indications that new revenue streams are coming. And, while the acquisition fits in perfectly with Facebook's plan to expand its app offerings, the social network has promised to use the same hands-off approach it did with Instagram -- leveraging its "expertise, resources and scale" to grow the platform, while keeping WhatsApp operationally independent. So, we'll have to wait and see how WhatsApp plans to prove its worth. Maybe some more music video synergy like the kind found after the break?
19/02/2014 - Facebook to buy WhatsApp for $16 billion
The balance of power in the mobile messaging space is about to shift in a big way -- Facebook has just announced plans to acquire WhatsApp for the equivalent of $16 billion in cash and stock. The deal will see WhatsApp run semi-independently, much like Instagram. The chat service will maintain its brand and existing offices, but it will take advantage of Facebook's "expertise, resources and scale." It's safe to say that the combined entity will have a lot of clout should the deal close later this year. WhatsApp already has over 450 million active users every month; combine that with Facebook Messenger and competitors like Line suddenly appear tiny by comparison.
Up until now, the most we'd heard about the next rumored update to Microsoft's Windows Phone OS centered on two features: Cortana, the company's Siri-like digital assistant, and Action Center, its native notification center. Today, however, we have a clearer idea of where Windows Phone 8.1 could be headed thanks to a Reddit user who's allegedly gained access to the new SDK as part of Microsoft's developer preview program.
Via: The Verge
That was quick -- Aviate hasn't even finished developing its context-aware Android home screen, and it's already an acquisition target. Yahoo has announced at CES that it's buying Aviate for an undisclosed amount; the web giant wants to use Aviate's simplified, ever-changing interface as a "central part" of its Android software in 2014. While it's not clear just what that entails, the launcher replacement will live on for the foreseeable future -- in fact, the first 25,000 people to use the code "YAHOO" will get into the ongoing private beta.
The iPhone 5s can already capture photos at a brisk 10 frames per second, but that apparently isn't fast enough for Apple. The company has confirmed to Recode that it has acquired SnappyLabs, a one-man outfit best known for its popular (and now withdrawn) iOS camera app SnappyCam. Cupertino isn't outlining its plans following the buyout, but the software's party trick is its extremely high-speed photography; it takes full-resolution shots at up to 30fps, and scales up to 60fps. You don't need an oracle-like insight to predict that future Apple devices could snap pictures at a rate that puts many professional cameras to shame.
Bitspin is probably most well known for its swish Timely alarm app on Android, and it seems that Google likes how the Swiss team is doing it, because it's just acquired them. "For new and existing users, Timely will continue to work like it always has," noted the Bitspin team in their announcement post, adding that it will continue to "build new products." The more immediate news, however, is that the premium version of the app, sans banner ads, has gone free in the process. If you like the sound of a Swiss-made (digital) alarm clock, you can give it a try right here.
Prepare for a world of Microsoft-made Windows Phone 8 devices. Hot on the heels of yesterday's Department of Justice decision, Reuters is reporting that the European Commission has granted final approval of Microsoft's acquisition of Nokia. The $7.35 billion deal, which is now all guaranteed, will see Nokia's mobile assets folded into the Microsoft camp, effectively giving Microsoft an end-to-end smartphone vertical for its Windows Phone 8 line, as well as a treasure trove of related patents. There's still no word on whether Nokia's former CEO Stephen Elop will helm Microsoft in Ballmer's absence. But with this merger out of the way, we expect that'll be next on Microsoft's to-do list.
20/09/2013 - FCC approves AT&T acquisition of Alltel assets
In a process that started back in January of this year, the FCC has given the thumbs-up to AT&T on its proposed $780 million acquisition of Alltel assets. The package includes retail stores, approximately 620,000 customers in the midwest, network equipment and spectrum in the 700MHz, 850MHz and 1900MHz bands. AT&T isn't getting away scot-free, however, as the FCC will only approve the deal based on a few conditions: first, the network needs to deploy HSPA+ and LTE in the new areas within 15 and 18 months (respectively); second, AT&T must keep Alltel's 3G EVDO network alive and kicking until at least June 15, 2015. Third, AT&T needs to ensure that every affected customer gets a comparable phone for free without a contract extension. These types of conditions are nothing new for network acquisitions; such transitions are never fun for the customers involved, so it's refreshing that the FCC isn't forgetting their immediate needs in the process. The full details of the approval are located in the FCC docs, which we've included in the source link.
Mobilicity lost out on its chances of a rescue from either Telus or Verizon, and there's now talk that the ailing Canadian carrier has run out of options. The Financial Post claims that Wind Mobile has nearly completed a deal to acquire Mobilicity's cellular subscribers for little to no cash. Mobilicity would only hold on its wireless spectrum and tax losses in the hopes of selling those separately. Neither of the involved companies has commented on the rumor. However, any handover would be relatively painless; when the two carriers have similar coverage and frequency support, customers almost wouldn't notice the difference.
[Image credit: Andrew Currie, Flickr]
Source: Financial Post
Much like how Google bought Motorola Mobility, Microsoft's surprising acquisition of Nokia's devices and services business -- which is expected to be approved by early 2014 -- is no indication that it will cut off ties with other partners in its own little ecosystem. This is emphasized by Terry Myerson, EVP, Operating Systems, on the official Windows blog.
"Acquiring Nokia's Devices group will help make the market for all Windows Phones, from Microsoft or our OEM partners," said the exec. "We collaborate with our Microsoft hardware teams in the same way we partner with our external hardware partners... We look forward to building new products together that will provide valuable business opportunity for the ecosystem and enable OEMs."
In other words, Microsoft will -- surprise, surprise -- continue to license Windows Phone to other OEMs. Despite this reassurance, we highly doubt the handful of partners left are feeling totally comfortable about the situation.
Via: All Things D
Source: Windows Blog
03/09/2013 - Microsoft explains why it's buying Nokia, says it needs 'first-rate' smartphone experience
Microsoft's outlined its reasoning behind why it's gone deep into smartphones in a lengthy presentation file. Alongside cheering Windows Phone's current growth (No.3!), it's reaffirmed that it'll bring its products and services to rival mobile OSes and still involve itself with "iPhone and Android/Galaxy phones." However, it tempers this point, adding that the Redmond company can't risk "having Google or Apple foreclose app innovation, integration, distribution or economics." Given the strength of the top two, Microsoft is telling it straight, adding that it needs a "first-rate Microsoft phone experience for users" to compete, suggesting that its portfolio of devices isn't quite there yet. The slides also outline the purchase of Nokia's patent collection, one which Microsoft believes is one of the most valuable in the tech sector, and that the acquisition will speed up innovation within Windows Phone and protect its future. So, some high hopes for the purchase.
Source: Microsoft (PDF)
30/08/2013 - Google quietly acquired smartwatch maker WIMM Labs
Ok, so here's the deal: WIMM Labs was one of the earliest entrants into the smartwatch space, way back in 2011. While the Android-based WIMM One failed to set the consumer market on fire, it apparently caught Google's eye. In the summer of 2012, the company put a simple message up on its site declaring that it had entered an exclusive partnership with an unnamed entity for its technology and would thus be ending sales of its devices. Now it appears that partner was Google -- a Mountain View spokesperson just confirmed the acquisition to us.
The company's immediate plans for WIMM are not yet public but, according to GigaOM, most of the staff stayed on board and are now working with the Android team. The obvious use would be in developing Google's own rumored smartwatch product, which would likely incorporate many of WIMM Lab's SDKs and existing platform tools. However, it's worth noting that the company doesn't consider itself merely a maker of app-running timepieces, but a manufacturer of wearables in general. We wouldn't be shocked if some of WIMM's tech and experience was put to good use in Glass.