14/04/2014 - Microsoft offers early download of Windows Phone 8.1
We get it. You want to download Windows Phone 8.1 as soon as possible just to see if Cortana is really as cool on a mobile device as she is in the Halo series. Or, perhaps it's the new Action Center and swipe keyboard that strike your fancy. Whatever reason you have for wanting to play with the latest version of Windows Phone ASAP, now's your chance. Microsoft has just announced that a developer preview of the new update is finally available for download, but as the name of the build implies, this is meant for third-party developers so they can get a good head start in prepping their apps ahead of widespread release. That said, you can still get in on the action, even if you've never written a line of code in your life -- there's just a few risks involved.
It's not every day that a company shows off literal vacation slides as part of a press event, but Dropbox did it today as a way to introduce Carousel. It's an app for both iOS and Android that takes your photos from your Dropbox account and organizes them by time, date and event, and any new photos that you take will automatically backup to the cloud. You'll also be able to not only share all of your precious memories with family and friends, those same people can return the favor and share some of their pics and vids so you can add it to your personal deck of digital slides. The new app is available on both OSes now for free.
Filed under: Mobile
Oh, you thought T-Mobile might take a breather from continually overhauling its wireless plans? Not so, dear readers. The magenta-hued carrier just announced a new $40 Simple Starter plan that grants you unlimited talk and text and 500MB of high-speed data, and it turns out that's just the beginning. T-Mobile CEO John Legere promised (in a feisty, pointed open letter to consumers) that the carrier has more to reveal this week.
But let's not get ahead of ourselves here, as there are a few tidbits to keep in mind before jumping on this new deal. You won't get throttled when you bump up against that 500MB bandwidth cap, for one -- you'll instead be prompted to buy a day pass for more data access... or to sign up for one of the carrier's rejiggered Simple Choice plans instead. Perhaps that's not the more friction-free approach to getting your web surfing on, but it at least removes the possibility of getting smacked with overage fees. Would-be Simple Starter customers can still get T-Mobile to pay those termination fees if they're coming from another carrier, so those of you running on a budget may want to give this deal some thought.
Filed under: Mobile
07/04/2014 - Introducing the Engadget UK Edition
When Engadget launched ten years ago, few predicted how popular it would become. Even fewer (basically, nobody) guessed it'd have an impact three thousand miles away across the Atlantic. Nevertheless, here we are. Despite a thick American accent, we've grown into one of the biggest sources of technology news for British readers. We're proud of that, but we think it's high time we offered something better, so today we're launching something new: the Engadget UK Edition. It won't look hugely different to the Engadget you already know, and it'll contain many of the same US-originated articles, simply because the big stories tend to be international. But Engadget UK will be tailored with more news, reviews and recommendations that are relevant over here, and less content that isn't. We hope you'll like it, but first things first -- we'd better show you how to select which edition you prefer.
As predicted, Microsoft is using its Build developer conference to launch Windows Phone 8.1, the latest and (we hope) greatest version of its mobile OS. The company's fed us a bunch of information about the update already, and a vast number of leaks have covered nearly all remaining features. Still, it's about time for us to get the skinny on everything the new upgrade entails, so let's break down exactly what you can expect from Windows Phone going forward.
Microsoft's Joe Belfiore took the stage and talked up (among other things), new hardware partners like Prestigio and Micromax that should help the company penetrate those valuable developing markets. As multiple leaks have pointed out ahead of time, 8.1 indeed comes with a notification center that users can invoke by swiping down from the top of the screen -- from there you can view and dismiss your email and social notifications, as well as toggle Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connections.
Filed under: Mobile
Well, here's a noodle-scratcher to start your day with. Sprint has just sent out invites to an event on April 29, and it's being characteristically coy about what's going down. The carrier's chosen imagery and tagline leave little to the imagination though: this rodeo is all about audio, and our guess is that CEO Dan Hesse probably has some more to say about Sprint's HD Voice rollout. Sprint's been slowly rolling out the service (which it claims will provide "crystal clear" call quality to owners of compatible devices) in Kansas City, with Philadelphia and Baltimore to follow in the coming weeks. Hesse's ultimate goal is to get the whole nation flying under that HD Voice banner by July, and it probably won't be long before he steps on-stage to let us know how that's working out for him.
Filed under: Mobile
How does Viber celebrate being acquired for a ton of money? By bringing one of its most popular features, Viber Out, to Windows Phone 8 -- that's how. In second thought, we're probably way off. Still, the Skype rival has indeed updated its WP8 application, celebration or not, allowing users to now make calls to any phone number thanks to Viber Out. This new version also lets you send video messages and multiple photos at a time, while added Bluetooth support should make it easier for you to enjoy some hands-free action. As usual, you can grab the update from the Windows Phone Store -- and feel free to share your Viber 4.1 impressions with us in the comments below.
Source: Windows Phone Store
It's been a long time coming, but Motorola's Moto Maker phone-building tool has finally arrived for Republic Wireless customers. The low-cost carrier has sold the Moto X for several months already, but it's just now offering Motorola's unique customization service -- arguably one of the Moto X's biggest selling points. Starting at 9AM PT tomorrow (Tuesday), Republic Wireless customers can order the Moto X with the colors and finishes of their choice. Motorola is also throwing in a free upgrade to a wood or Bamboo backing for the first 2,000 customers who visit this link. In addition to adding Moto Maker, Republic is now offering a 32GB Moto X. Previously, customers could only order the 16GB model, which costs $300 without access to Moto Maker. With the new Moto Maker option, the 16GB version will cost $350, while doubling the storage to 32GB will set you back $400.
Over the past year, T-Mobile's new policies have ushered in a new wave of changes to the way the US wireless industry works. It was the first national operator to introduce phone financing plans, early upgrades and free international roaming; additionally, it also offers to pay your cancellation fee if you break another carrier's contract to move over. It appears that such practices must come at a cost: CEO John Legere announced that beginning April 1st, T-Mobile will no longer offer its Advantage Program, which features monthly employer rate plan discounts, to new customers. Existing beneficiaries will see the deduction removed from their accounts on April 25th. As a consolation, affected subscribers will now receive a $25 reward card every time they get a new phone.
Filed under: Mobile
At Sony Mobile's HQ in Tokyo, Kichiro Kurozumi is itching to go into detail about the new flagship Xperia Z2. The VP says it's "all in the details." We really hope so, because it's getting increasingly hard to tell Sony's recent smartphone iterations apart, especially when it comes to the Xperia Z2 and Z1. Kurozumi emphatically states that it's all the work done behind the scenes (reengineered frame, a 20.7-megapixel camera that records in 4K) that makes the Z2 stand out. "2014 is about premium smartphones, tablets and the smartwear experience but we... Sony has to do it differently."
Take the Xperia Z2's 4K-recording camera sensor. Sony's certainly not the only smartphone maker with a device capable of recording video in Ultra HD, but Kurozumi reckons the company's software-based "SteadyShot" stabilization keeps the Xperia Z2 ahead of the pack. Because of the relatively large camera sensor, it can compensate for more movement than its rivals -- up to 21 percent. He offers up a professional-level clip and his own real-world sample from a few weeks earlier in Barcelona, and (courtesy of a 4K Sony TV in the room) the level of detail is noticeably beyond that of 1080p video, but won't the lack of 4K screens (UHD TVs are still pretty rare) limit the usefulness? We asked Kurozumi exactly that.
Sprint isn't content to keep writing its financial statements in red ink. To that end, the company is shuttering 150 service and repair centers, 55 of its lowest performing retail stores and laying off some 330 repair techs. A handful of call centers have been closed, too. While these might seem troubling, the outfit's Mark Bonavia tells CNET that the pre-planned cuts were made with the idea of "minimal disturbance" to the customer in mind. What does that even mean? Well, if a local store can't service your phone, you'll be referred to a sister location that's within a 45-minute drive. This likely isn't a perfect situation for everyone, but hey, Softbank needs to free up money for that T-Mobile acquisition somehow.
When it comes to tolerating things that other countries deem illegal, Holland's got previous, but this time the nation has approved something that doesn't just benefit glaucoma sufferers. The country has ratified the use of blank SIM cards that aren't tied to a carrier, and can instead be tweaked use whatever network is best for you. The idea is that since you're not tied to an operator, you can switch between providers when your needs change -- allowing you to swerve roaming charges when you're out and about. The move also boosts "internet of things" makers, who can connect devices to cellular networks without signing a long, expensive deal. Of course, the longer-term implication is that smartphone companies like Apple and Samsung could bulk-buy voice and data services and cut out the middle man -- a prospect that would even send John Legere into a cold sweat.
Samsung's upcoming Windows 8.1 smartphone for Verizon, the ATIV SE, passed through the FCC last month, and now we're getting a look at the actual device. The leaked press photos above show a phone that strongly resembles the Windows Phone-powered ATIV S, with a physical home button. The alleged ATIV SE appears to share design elements with Samsung's Galaxy handsets as well, from the rounded edges to the textured finishes on the back and front. It's still unclear when the ATIV SE will launch on Verizon, but we know it'll arrive some time this year following the debut of the Windows Phone 8.1 operating system. Expect a 5-inch, 1080p display and LTE capability when the SE hits store shelves.
US Cellular's shared data plan subscribers might be able to enjoy more data sometime soon. That'll be the case anyway, if the carrier's truly increasing its shared data subscribers' caps, as indicated by a leaked internal document unearthed by Droid Life. If the memo is legit, then the $40 shared plan will come with 1GB of data that triples the original 300MB, the $50 tier will come with a 2GB cap instead of 1GB and the $60 plan will net subscribers 3GB of data, up from 2GB. The company is reportedly bumping up current subscribers' data allotments automatically, though it's giving new customers the choice to sign up for an introductory 300MB tier for $15 a month. In addition to higher shared data caps, US Cellular is apparently going to launch a $60 single line plan with 1GB of data for a limited time.
Source: Droid Life
08/03/2014 - We're live from SXSW Interactive 2014!
We're live on the ground at South By Southwest (#SXSW for short), the annual event that brings together everyone and anyone who's invested in the interactive arts. Those artists include the minds behind emerging startups (like Twitter was here in 2007), as well as established innovators like Mark Cuban and even Grumpy Cat.
We're already off to a great start: we've seen a man get stunned by the Chaotic Unmanned Personal Intercept Drone and had a chance to punch virtual sharks with the Oculus Rift and Leap Motion. But, there's more to come over the next few days, including riding MarioKart in real life, separate virtual conversations with Edward Snowden and Julian Assange, Shaq and much more.
Here's how to keep up with us at SXSW, after the break.
07/03/2014 - The Engadget Podcast is live at 12PM ET!
The last five days were, in a word, bedlam. Newsweek may or may not have found the man who created Bitcoin (which subsequently led to a car chase -- yes, seriously); the head of PlayStation US, Jack Tretton, stepped down after just shy of 20 years; and Apple's finally got an official service for bridging iOS to cars: you'll never guess what it's called (okay, you probably will).
With co-hosts Terrence O'Brien and Joseph Volpe scattered across Austin for SXSW 2014, we're playing "who are these new people?" with two new staffers -- Chris Velazco and John Colucci. All that and more, live at noon ET, just below!
02/03/2014 - HTC shutting down its Watch movie service in the UK
When HTC pulled the plug on its Watch service in a number of European countries last year, it told us that it was merely streamlining its efforts, and that movie rentals and purchases would continue to be offered in places with the "highest engagement." But now it looks like the closures are spreading to those areas too, with UK users receiving an email warning them that the Watch store will close on March 31st, by which point any purchased movies must be downloaded to a device in order to remain accessible. We've asked HTC for a fuller explanation, but in the meantime we're left with the feeling that the company's in-house streaming platform may actually have been dying a slow death this whole time, due to a lack of popularity. Either that, or the name "HTC Watch" has suddenly become very inconvenient.
01/03/2014 - Mobile World Congress in 14 lines
It wasn't long before the show had ended
And we'll be back next year, our livers mended.
(image credit: Getty Images)
Now that Mobile World Congress is behind us and we've left the sunny Mediterranean to go back to our rainy or snowy abodes, it's time to reflect on the show that was. We walked through miles and miles of hallways and battled thousands of roller bags and suits to find the show's best and worst. There were Nokia phones running Android, 7-inch phones, new wearables with curved displays and even a couple connected toothbrushes. We also saw zero Windows Phones, very little Tizen and a whole lot of Firefox OS.
You'll be able to find the fruits of our labor through our Events page, but we wanted to take a quick look back at some of the biggest companies that we covered throughout the past week. How well did they do at the most important smartphone show in the world? Who was the big winner of MWC, and how good was the show itself? We've put together a report card that discusses the overall performance of each major company, so read on to get our take on the week that was.
Of all the phone manufacturers out there, Samsung seems to have a particular talent for creating an anticlimax. Our first thought when holding the Galaxy S5 was that we'd been through all this before a year ago, with the equally underwhelming launch of the GS4. Our disappointment jibed with the reactions of other bloggers around us at Mobile World Congress and with many readers' comments on our hands-on article. Folks seemed to forget about the phone after five minutes and switch their attention to Samsung's new smartwatches, especially the delectable Gear Fit.
First impressions aren't everything, however. A phone's charm can take a while to sink in, and you only have to look at the Galaxy S3 for proof of that. (I reviewed that handset many moons ago, and must admit that I never expected it to do as well as it did.) As add-ons go, the swipe-based fingerprint scanner and heart rate monitor may not be astounding now that we've had the HTC One Max and fitness gadgets like the Withings Pulse, but they might prove their utility in time. Even if they don't, the GS5 has other redeeming features, such as its 1080p AMOLED display, phase-detection autofocus and basic water resistance, and it comes at just the right time to win over GS3 owners whose contracts are coming to an end.
But the anticlimax is there nonetheless, and it most likely stems from a suspicion that Samsung's vast scale and manufacturing strength isn't being fully exploited. Like Apple, but unlike most other phone makers, Samsung has control over many different technologies that go into a smartphone, including the memory, display and -- most importantly -- the processor. It showed us glimpses of this cross-discipline expertise with the global versions of the Galaxy S2 and S3, whose in-house Exynos processors brought extra speed and graphics just when Android needed it, and it did something similar with the big-screened, stylus-equipped Galaxy Note series. But the GS5, like the GS4, seems much less distinctive, and so perhaps what we should be asking is this: Why isn't Samsung able to muster its in-house resources to create something truly different? And that, at least, is a question we can begin to answer.
28/02/2014 - The Engadget Podcast is live at 12PM ET!
On this week's episode of the Engadget Podcast, Terrence sits alone in a
closet studio piled high with ancient gadgets that no one will ever use again. Palm Pres, Kins and Zunes appear to be his only friends -- Joseph and Ben have "more important things to do." But, when all hope seemed lost, two valiant riders came rushing to his rescue. Brad Molen decided to fight through his MWC hangover to join our intrepid host, and the always soothing Richard Lawler will be rounding out this week's trio as they tackle the big news of the week (and probably talk some smack about those other hosts).
It all happens at 12PM ET, right after the break.
This year, Windows Phone 8 users can watch all 67 NCAA men's basketball games too, now that the March Madness Live app has arrived (there's also a new app for Windows 8, if the browser doesn't cut it). The streaming app was previously available on iOS and Android only, and long ago, it even cost $10 a pop to download. Now the app is free, but any game aired on TNT, TBS or TruTV still requires a cable TV subscription for viewing. There is a brief preview period before users need to log in, and anyone can stream games aired on CBS.
As a bonus for cable subscribers, each semifinal round will have three different feeds that viewers can choose from: the game coverage itself and team-specific presentations. Other than these new features, the apps also got a new interface that make them more suitable for phone and tablet screens. The March Madness Live apps aren't exactly available yet, but as the name implies, they're slated to hit the App Store, Google Play and Windows Marketplaces sometime this March.