Cell Phone

Sony Xperia Z5 series, Z3+, and Z4 Tablet are all being updated to Android 7.1.1 Nougat

Sony this week is rolling out an Android 7.1.1 Nougat update for several of its slightly older devices: Xperia Z5, Xperia Z5 Premium, Xperia Z5 Compact, Xperia Z4 Tablet, and Xperia Z3+. The update includes Google's June security patch (as you can see in the screenshot on the left), and comes almost five months after these smartphones (and the tablet) received Nougat 7.0 updates - previously, they ran Android 6 Marshmallow. Sony has yet to formally announce this Android 7.1.1 Nougat update, but we're guessing that all owners of the Xperia models mentioned will get the new software version in the near future. Right now, it's not clear if the Sony devices listed here will receive any other major software updates. However, we certainly hope that at least the Xperia Z5 series of smartphones will get Android O at some point. As for the Xperia Z4 Tablet and Xperia Z3+, these are already over 2 years old, so there's a high chance they'll remain on Android 7.1.1. Nougat... forever and ever.
Cell Phone

Report: LG V30 might not feature secondary display, concept could be replicated on new OLED screen

With the LG G6, LG made a statement. It no longer wants to be Gyro Gearloose of the smartphone industry, pushing bold innovation that no one outside its focus groups asked for. LG cleaned house, stripped away all the complexity, and introduced one of 2017's most understated – and all-around pleasant – premium phones. It was a solid strategy, even though displays of clever engineering, such as the LG G5's removable battery, will be missed by those able to appreciate them.

According to a "trusted source" as cited by the ever diligent XDA Developers, the same revision awaits the LG V30 – a premium smartphone, primed as an alternative to the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 and, reportedly, scheduled for a late August announcement. 

 
LG's "V" series is notable for the presence of a small secondary display placed just above the primary screen. Its purpose is to provide quick shortcuts, summarize notifications, and show a signature text for a bit of extra swag.

THE SECONDARY SCREEN IS ONLY "FORMALLY" GOING AWAY

The secondary display was a refreshing experiment that certainly stood out in the ocean of lookalike phones, but it didn't catch on either with consumers or mobile vendors. Thus, it makes sense that LG might abolish it in the V30, as XDA's source claims. However, this won't necessarily be the end to the concept of conveniently pulling certain shortcuts and notifications to a designated space above the main display.

Rather than going through the trouble of running two separate displays, LG might – for the first time in recent history – introduce an OLED display, likely in the same 18:9 screen ratio as the LG G6. Having a tall panel like this, it won't be a problem to basically "paste" the LG V20's secondary display above the rest of the content shown on screen – with the option of users disabling it if they want.
 
Thanks to OLED displays' ability to have each individual pixel controlled, it won't be a problem for this stretch of the screen to remain in an always-on state while the rest of the display "sleeps", optimized as not to waste battery life.

Mind you, while the source is certain about LG removing the secondary panel and switching to OLED, the rest is speculative information that may or may not pan out. In any case, are you going to miss the second screen? Do you think LG should go back to its wayward and unorthodox smartphone design style? Let us know what you think in the comments section below!
Cell Phone

10 years ago, the Apple iPhone was on everyone's tongue

On January 9th, 2007, Steve Jobs introduced the Apple iPhone. And as exciting as that was for many, it also meant waiting nearly half a year for the phone to be released. The launch date of June 29th was circled on many a calendar, and in the days leading up to the actual launch, it seemed as though the iPhone was being mentioned everywhere. One example of this, which you will find in the video slideshow below, is an amusing clip put together by David Pogue, who now writes about tech for Yahoo.

Exactly 10-years ago tomorrow, the New York Times released a video showing how hard it was for its tech scribe (Pogue) to keep faithful to the non-disclosure agreement Apple had him sign in exchange for a review unit of the Apple iPhone. Apple had already run some ads for the phone (we included one in the video slideshow for your viewing pleasure) and the hype machine was on full throttle ("I've seen the commercials and it looks really cool," says a young woman waiting in a long line on launch day).

A decade ago, the whole world was just four days away from being changed forever by a smartphone. Television networks covered the impending launch and analysts spoke breathlessly about the device and how many units it might sell. Even so, most people probably could not see what the future would hold, not just for the iPhone or for Apple, but for smartphones in general. We now have apps and app stores, phones that can be submerged and live on to tell the tale and handsets that last a full day without requiring a charge. 

People now shop, make payments, deposit checks, lower their thermostat, get turn-by-turn directions to anywhere, and watch live television on their phone. And most handsets feature a virtual personal assistant to help make reservations, set alarms and more. You can't go anywhere without seeing a large number of people with their heads down, looking at the screen on their handset as they navigate their surroundings. All of this was still in the future a decade ago. 

Keep in mind that the OG iPhone did have some flaws. It ran on AT&T's slow as molasses EDGE network, it did not support MMS or stereo Bluetooth. But not too many knew, or cared about these things which were all eventually taken care of in future versions of the phone.

June 25th, 2007 was a Monday, the start of a new work week that would end with the forces in motion that would soon change the world. Relive those days by clicking on the video slideshow below.

Cell Phone

Say Cheese: Foxconn to build U.S. plant in Wisconsin?

During the 2016 presidential election, Donald Trump called on Apple to move production of its most popular product, the Apple iPhone, to the U.S. Trump's goal was to create more jobs for Americans and to stop exporting openings overseas. But Trump didn't take some things into consideration. Moving production from low wage countries to higher wage countries means that the cost of producing the iPhone will rise. And in order to maintain the same profit margin, iPhone prices will also rise making the device less affordable for Americans.

Back in November, a little over a week after the election, Apple said that it would consider moving some iPhone production to the U.S. Talks were held with the major contract manufacturers and there was some discussion about building a U.S. based supply chain. Today, Foxconn, the leading iPhone assembler, said that it is considering building a facility in Wisconsin. Besides the Dairy State, Michigan is also said to be in the running to host the factory.

Yesterday, President Trump visited Milwaukee and mentioned that an unnamed company was negotiating with the state to build a factory. Trump said that Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker might get "a very happy surprise very soon." Foxconn assembles smartphones and tablets for Apple, BlackBerry, Sony and other brands. In China, it employs over 1 million people. Tom Still, president of the Wisconsin Technology Council, says that a skilled workforce was probably one of the things that attracted Foxconn to the state.

"It would be great for Wisconsin for a lot of reasons. I am assuming Foxconn was attracted by the fact there’s already a skilled workforce here, and there’s a foundation to produce more such workers through the tech colleges and the other parts of the education system."-Tom Still, president, The Wisconsin Technology Council


When Apple spoke with Foxconn and Pegatron back in November about the possibility of building iPhone models in the U.S., both firms said that their main concern was creating a supply chain infrastructure similar to what was available for the manufacturers in China. Apparently the numerous studies that were created show that Wisconsin has what it takes to build such a supply chain for Foxconn.

Cell Phone

Sony Xperia XZ1 Compact, XZ1, and X1 might be announced in September

Sony already announced no less than five new smartphones this year: Xperia XZ Premium, XperiaXZs, Xperia XA1, Xperia XA1 Ultra, and Xperia L1. But the company seemingly has at least three more handsets to introduce before the end of 2017, and one of them is expected to be a new Xperia Compact.

According to Georgian website Review.ge, Sony plans to announce the following phones at IFA 2017 (September 1 - September 7): Xperia XZ1, XperiaXZ1 Compact, and Xperia X1. 

It's said that both the Xperia XZ1 and Xperia XZ1 Compact will be high-end devices, featuring Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processors and 4 GB of RAM - just like the already announced Xperia XZ Premium. However, the two new handsets should differ in size: the Xperia XZ1 reportedly offers a 5.2-inch 1080p display and a 3000 mAh battery, while the Xperia XZ1 Compact comes with a 4.6-inch 720p screen and a 2800 mAh battery. If these details are accurate, the XZ1 Compact will become Sony's most powerful 4.6-inch smartphone ever. 

To be fair, it kind of makes sense for a new Sony-made compact handset to be revealed at IFA 2017 in September, as this would arrive one year after the Xperia X Compact (pictured in this article). Also of note is that two other previous compact phones - Xperia Z5Compact and Xperia Z3 Compact - were also announced during IFA events. 

Cell Phone

Samsung Galaxy S8 vs LG G6 drop test: which is tougher?

Perhaps I should start this post with a warning: the video above may be painful to watch. And no, that's not only because I clearly lack the charm and acting skills of Antonio Banderas. It's because it shows how we break – on purpose – two of the top Android smartphones on the market, namely the Samsung Galaxy S8 and the LG G6. Yet that's what it takes to get an idea of how much physical abuse they can take.
 
But maybe there's no need for a "Spolier Alert!" notice before saying that both the Galaxy S8 and the LG G6 break by the end of the video. With phones that are made primarily of glass on the outside, that's to be expected. To be more specific, the LG G6 uses Gorilla Glass 3 to cover its display and cameras, while the rest of the back is protected by Gorilla Glass 5. All is wrapped up by a solid metal frame around the edges. The Galaxy S8 uses Gorilla Glass 5 on both its front and back, but more of it is exposed because of its gorgeous curves. The corners, however, appear well protected by its metal frame.
 
And speaking of warnings, I should also point out that the video above is by no means a scientific experiment. For it to count as one, we'd have to break hundreds of phones in a repeatable manner – outside of our budget, as one could imagine. Yet we can draw at least one conclusion after all the damage we caused – if you'll be using your Galaxy S8 or LG G6 without a case, make sure you don't drop it. Like, ever.
Cell Phone

Samsung Galaxy J3, Galaxy J5 and Galaxy J7 (2017) officially introduced

Samsung has just unveiled its new Galaxy J series in Europe. Three new mid-range Android smartphones that we already know about will be making their debut on the market in the coming months: Galaxy J3, Galaxy J5 and Galaxy J7 (2017). Although Samsung announced pricing would vary by country, we already know the Galaxy J5 (2017) will be up for purchase for €279. As far as availability goes, the first to hit the shelves is the Galaxy J5 (2017), which is supposed to go on sale later this month (possibly on June 22). The next to arrive on the market is the Samsung Galaxy J7 (2017), which is expected to make its debut in July. Last but not least, the Galaxy J3 (2017) will be launched in Europe sometime in August. Samsung Galaxy J5 (2017) Samsung Galaxy J5 (2017) All three smartphones feature a metal body and ship with Android 7.0 Nougat operating system on board. They have decent specs, but the main differentiator should be the stylish design. The cheapest of the three, the Galaxy J3 (2017) sports a 5-inch display with HD (720p) resolution, along with a 13-megapixel camera on the back. The smartphone is powered by a 1.4GHz quad-core Exynos 7570 processor, coupled with 2GB RAM and 16GB of internal memory. Dual-SIM support will be included as well, along with a secondary 5-megapixel selfie camera and a decent 2,400 mAh battery. Samsung Galaxy J5 (2017) has a slightly larger 5.2-inch Super AMOLED display with HD (720p) resolution. At the core of the mid-range handset sits a 1.6GHz octa-core Exynos 7870 processor, 2GB RAM and 16GB of expandable storage. Also, the phone features 13-megapixel cameras on the front and back. The Galaxy J5 (2017) drains energy from a 3,000 mAh battery. Finally, the Galaxy J7 (2017) is the most expensive of the three, as the phone comes with a 5.5-inch full HD (1080p) display and LTE Cat6 support. The phone is equipped with a similar 1.6GHz octa-core Exynos 7870 processor, 3GB RAM, and 16GB storage. Just like its smaller brother, Samsung Galaxy J7 (2017) includes 13-megapixel cameras on the back and front. However, unlike the other two Galaxy J series phones, this one embeds a much bigger 3,000 mAh battery inside.
Cell Phone

WSJ: Bixby is having problems with the English language

According to a report published in today's Wall Street Journal, Bixby has not been a good student when it comes to learning the English language. Apparently, Samsung's AI personal assistant is failing grammar and is also having problems with syntax. This means that Bixby is having difficulties creating sentences in English. The problem, as far as Samsung is concerned, is that competing assistants like Google Assistant and Siri have no problem turning out a snappy sentence in English when called on to do so.

The Journal's report says that it won't be before late June at the earliest before Bixby is launched in the U.S., a month later than the May launch that Sammy was originally aiming for. The delay in launching Bixby could affect sales of the recently released Samsung Galaxy S8 and Samsung Galaxy S8+ in the U.S., even though market research firm Ovum says that only 9% of smartphone users access their personal assistant on a regular basis. And only 50% of consumers have an interest in digital assistants like Bixby, Siri, Cortana and Google Assistant.

Still, the Samsung Galaxy S8 is on its way to topping the sales generated last year by the Samsung Galaxy S7. The latter became the highest grossing smartphone in Samsung's history. The company obviously does not want a problem with Bixby to prevent a new sales record from being set.

Ovum says that there are 3.5 billion active devices that have a native AI assistant on board. By 2021, the company expects that figure to reach 7.5 billion active devices. That would be more than the entire world population for that year, based on computations by the U.S. Census Bureau. Google Assistant is projected to have a leading 23% market share of the market for AI assistants by 2021, followed by Bixby's 15%. Siri will be third with 13%, followed by Alexa's 4%. But this is all a pipe dream for Bixby unless Samsung straightens out the current problem the personal AI assistant is having with the English language.

Cell Phone

Report: Samsung to double OLED panel supply for iPhone 9

We're still about 4 months away from the announcement of this year's iPhone models, but it looks like Apple is already acting to secure display panels for its future handsets.
 

A hot new report from The Bellsuggests that Cupertino and Samsung have recently signed a deal for the shipment of more than 180 million OLED panels, which will be used for the creation of Apple's 2018 flagship, tentatively called the iPhone 9. This is more than twice the amount which Sammie's display division has allegedly agreed to produce for 2017, in which Tim Cook & Co. are said to unveil at least one OLED-powered iPhone model.

 
Those of you who are actively following the story might be a bit puzzled (we know we are), as less than two months ago, sources from the East Asian country indicated that a two-year deal between the companies has already been sealed. However, said earlier reports didn't mention the amount which Samsung has agreed to produce for 2018, so it is possible that we now have the specifics for that particular period. 
 
Apparently, next year's iPhone 9 is expected to come in two OLED variants, one with a 5.28-inch screen, and one with a colossal 6.46-inch display. If Apple is truly planning to stop employing LCD panels on its phones from next year, these numbers might correspond with the tech giant's sales expectations. Still, it is advisable that you take this information with a huge grain of salt, as we first need to see Apple's plans for this year before we can safely label this as anything other than speculations.
 
The Korean media outlet cites an anonymous industry source, who has commented on the agreement:
 
The two companies have recently signed a non-disclosure agreement on general conditions, including the screen size. Other details such as screen design and functions could be adjusted considering the phone is still under development.
Cell Phone

First Sony Xperia XZ Premium benchmark results show great promise

The Xperia XZ Premium is the Sony's first smartphone equipped with a powerful Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor, the same CPU that's inside Samsung's flagships, the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+.

However, unlike Samsung's smartphone, the Xperia XZ Premium is not yet available for purchase, though, it can be pre-ordered in many countries across the globe. As we reported a few days agoSony Xperia XZ Premium is likely to make its debut on the market at the end of May or early June.

If you've been wondering how powerful the Xperia XZ Premium really is in comparison with other Snapdragon 835-powered smartphones, you're in luck since Sony's flagship has just popped up at Geekbench.

Apparently, someone tested the Xperia XZ Premium in Geekbench, and the results seem promising enough. We don't know whether or not it was a retail unit that got tested or a sample device.

Although it did not manage to surpass the results achieved by the Galaxy S8 and S8+, Sony's flagship is quite powerful. The smartphone scored 1943 points in single core and 5824 points in the multi core tests.

In comparison, Samsung Galaxy S8 scored 2008 points in single core and 6575 points in multi core tests, while the Galaxy S8+ achieved 2006 points and 6708 points, respectively. 

At first glance, the difference is almost negligible when it comes to single core tests, but the multi core tests show the Xperia XZ Premium is a bit behind Samsung's flagships. Still, we don't want to jump to conclusions just yet, at least not before we test a retail unit.


Cell Phone

Apple iPad mini could be discontinued

Apple is reportedly planning to discontinue the iPad mini, its 7.9-inch tablet that's been available since 2012. Of course, the tablet is now at its fourth iteration - iPad mini 4 - but this hasn't been properly updated since its original launch in 2015.

According to BGR, a "source close to Apple" mentioned that the iPad mini is being phased out because there's "fierce cannibalism" of Apple's own products, and sales numbers seemingly provide a "very clear" indication of the tablet's recent lack of popularity.

Size-wise, the iPad mini stands between the 5.5-inch iPhone 7 Plus and the 9.7-inch iPad (including the Pro version). Unlike in 2012, 2013, or a large part of 2014, when there were no 5.5-inch iPhones on the market, the iPad mini is now in a rather awkward position, and it looks like consumers are simply less interested in mini tablets (especially when they're not exactly cheap).

Earlier this year, Apple changed its iPad mini 4 offering, so it's currently selling only a 128 GB version of the slate, and you can choose to get it in Wi-Fi-only ($399), or Wi-Fi + LTE ($529) flavors.

For now, there's no word on exactly when Apple will stop selling the iPad mini 4. Also, it's not clear if the company already stopped producing the device or not. But maybe we'll get an official statement on this sometime soon.

Cell Phone

Microsoft Offers OneDrive Grandfathered Data – Must Act To Save Your 30GB Storage

Microsoft has relented after massive outrage. The company has set up a special web site where you can opt-in to preserving your current free 30GB storage. The company recently announced it was withdrawing plans to offer unlimited storage for Office 365 customers, and worse, was reducing all free accounts to 5GB. Previously, Microsoft offered 15GB of free storage, and customers that enabled OneDrive’s mobile phone photo sync feature received another 15GB, for a total of 30GB of free storage. Microsoft claimed the changes were sparked by PC users backing up extremely large files. OneDrive client sync allowed for large files, even DVR recordings, to be automatically stored on OneDrive. But the reduction of free plans was considered brash by many – as those plans did not cost Microsoft nearly as much, and many competitors like Box have routinely offered free 50GB plans. At 30GB, OneDrive was one of the largest free storage solution of all the major OS/cloud platform vendors. Also Office 365 customers who had backed up terrabytes already, are being forced to reduce to 300GB of storage, or being forced to pay for storage.
Cell Phone

Apple is now the first $800 billion company, Buffett the smartest guy in the room... again

The highly-anticipated iPhone 8, edge-to-edge OLED screen and all, is apparently going to throw Apple fans in an upgrade "super cycle," or so think the analysts, whose predictions made investors take notice, and push Apple's stock past the $800 billion market cap mark yesterday after the quarterly resultswere announced. To put things into perspective, that's the first time in the history of the US stock market that a company has reached this exorbitant market capitalization. 

 
While the shares were briefly down, as investors heard that Apple sold slightly less iPhones than the same quarter last year, the stock quickly rebounded when they figured out that the actual profit was higher, as Apple has a more expensive product mix now. All in all, in afternoon trading AAPL pushed past $153 a share, and was up more than 3 percent for the day, which, for the company the size of Apple, is a pretty impressive feat.
 
All that is left now is to see if the iPhone 8 will meet all the hefty expectations that are piled up on it by investors and fans alike, and make Apple the first trillion dollar company in history. On a side note, Warren Buffett looks like the smartest guy in the room again, after years of refusing to invest in the "fickle" consumer electronics industry. His $1 billion investment in Apple is up more than 50% in less than a year. No wonder the guy is known as the Oracle from Omaha. He returned the favor by praising the iPhone after Apple's quarterly results were out, saying that "you can't move people by price in the smartphone market" like in home appliances, and that the iPhone is "a very, very, very valuable product to people that build their lives around it."
Cell Phone

Huawei MediaPad M3 Lite with Android 7.0 Nougat coming soon for €329

An affordable duo of Huawei-branded Android tablets was silently introduced in Europe last week, the MediaPad T3 slates. They are now available for purchase for prices starting at €129, a good deal for those looking for their first Android tablet.

However, the MediaPad T3 tablets won't be the only ones to make their debut on the market this year, as Huawei is readying yet another Android slate.

Not quite the sequel to the MediaPad M3, a Lite version of the tablet recently made a stop at Wi-Fi Alliance where it was granted certification by the regulatory commission.

Huawei MediaPad M3 Lite is a mid-range tablet that runs Android 7.0 Nougat operating system. It sports a large 10-inch display and packs 3GB RAM, along with 32GB expandable storage.

The Chinese company is expected to launch two variations of the tablet, which will sell for different prices. The Wi-Fi only model will cost only €329 outright, whereas the LTE-enabled variant will be available for purchase for €379.

Now, the only thing that remains to be determined is when exactly Huawei will unleash the Lite version of the MediaPad M3 on the market.

Cell Phone

Analysts: HTC cut prices because of 'bleak prospects' with carriers, may refocus on phones like Pixel

When you look at the US smartphone market, it's dominated by the usual two suspects - Apple and Samsung - with the team from Cupertino taking the lead, which is understandable as it is a domestic company to be proud of. Last quarter's breakdown for American users aged 13 and up pegged them as having mostly iPhones (44%), or Galaxies (28%), with LG vying for third place with 10%, Motorola at 4%, and HTC at 5th place with only 2.3%. If anything, that shows the dire straits that HTC finds itself in when it comes to the American market. Not being represented in a carrier roster is a kind of a death sentence in the US, as that's where most users shop for new phonese. In fact, T-Mobile dropped the HTC 10 only a few weeks after it launched without citing any reason, but if there was big interest and profit with the handset, it would have probably stayed in the portfolio. "HTC has bleak prospects, given lack of availability from T-Mobile and AT&T and weak prepaid availability, while the OEM has (a) tiny share of 2% at Sprint and <1% at Verizon," according to Wave7’s analyst Jeff Moore. All of these mishaps have forced HTC, which wasn't known for great value tags, or significant cuts, to readjust its pricing strategy in the US. The HTC 10 went from the whopping $699 down to $499 very soon after launch, and now the U Ultra is following suit. HTC announced recently on Twitter that it is slashing the prices of its newest flagship from $749 to $599, and that's a handset with large QHD panel, high-end camera and premium design augmented by a secondary screen that was just announced last month. Not only that, but the One A9 went down to just $199, and the Bolt for $150 off. In fact, another analyst, Cliff Maldonado from BayStreet Research, thinks that HTC is winding down its inventory and may not out other flagships in the US, but rather end up making phones for external customers like Google: "We believe the launch of the Pixel at Verizon and the Bolt at Sprint, combined with the recent headcount reductions, indicate HTC will follow more of an ODM business model going forward. We believe HTC has astutely restructured to compete with their hardware design strengths and partner with brands to lower marketing and distribution costs and overall risks. It will be interesting to see how and with whom HTC partners with next." There you have it, no matter what HTC does, there just doesn't seem to be much interest from US carriers when it is going it alone. What do you think, is this some nefarious plot by carriers, or is the problem of HTC's own making?
Cell Phone

New phone in the Galaxy C line could be first Samsung model to sport a dual camera setup

Many have assumed that the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 would be the first Samsung handset to sport a dual camera setup. But you know what they say about making assumptions. Instead, a sketch tweeted by a source reveals that it will be a new handset in the Samsung Galaxy C line that will be the first Samsung handset to carry two cameras on back. The sketch also shows that this Galaxy C phone will sport the slotted antenna design instead of those unsightly antenna lines that run on the top and bottom of a phone. Not only do they look much better than those ugly lines, they also do a better job of making sure that your hands don't interfere with the phone's signal (if you are holding it the wrong way). Late last year and earlier this year, there was talk that the Samsung Galaxy S8 or the Samsung Galaxy S8+ would feature a dual camera setup in back. As it turns out, Samsung must have been serious about this because an alleged Galaxy S8+ prototype was discovered with a pair of cameras on the back. If the prototype is legit, Sammy planned on using a vertical placement for the two cameras. The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 could be unveiled at IFA during the first week in September. The unknown Samsung Galaxy C model sporting the dual cameras is supposed to launch before the Galaxy Note 8 does. We might not know if this is a legitimate story for a few weeks. Even if it isn't the first Samsung model to offer it, we would have to say that the odds certainly favor a dual camera setup being employed on the Galaxy Note 8.
Cell Phone

Apple is once again rumored to start a P2P money transferring network similar to Venmo and PayPal

Venmo is a free digital wallet that allows users to wire funds into or out of their Venmo account, bank account or debit card. Today, word surfaced about meetings that Apple has held with firms in this industry about starting up its own money transfer system. In other words, Apple is looking to build a Venmo competitor that would allow iPhone owners to transfer funds to and from others' iPhone handsets.

Those in the know say that Apple could officially unveil this new payment service some time later this year, allowing Apple to compete with others in the industry such as Pay Pal, Square Cash and Chase's Quick Pay. The latter processed a leading $28 billion last year while Venmo had a hand in $17.6 billion worth of financial maneuvers; Venmo's annual payment volume is doubling each year. Subscribers to these so-called peer-to-peer services use them to split the tip on a dinner, or to come up with their share of next month's rent.

Most financial companies that offer such a service use them as a loss leader. This means that huge financial supermarkets typically lose money offering such small sum wireless money transfers. But they are willing to do that in order to get consumers hooked on their firm, hoping that new subscribers end up using other profitable services offered by the banking company. Need a loan, a credit card or a mortgage? If you already have a money transfer arrangement with a financial firm, you're more likely to use that company for a loan that is highly profitable to the lender. Apple, however, doesn't think in terms of loss leaders. If it does make a go at starting a peer-to-peer wireless financial service, it would do so with the intent of turning a profit on the business.

Keep in mind that Apple has been rumored to be setting up such a P2P (peer-to-peer) money transferring system before. Back in 2015, the Wall Street Journal said that Apple was about to start such a service in 2016, which would have been folded into Apple Pay. The inclusion of Apple Pay in the new service remains a strong possibility. However, the new rumor does include talk about a new Visa card that would be offered by Apple, but would run through Visa's debit card system. It would work with the new P2P service by allowing those wired funds from an iPhone user to have access to that money instantly, instead of waiting for the money to hit the user's bank account. This is something that PayPal currently does.

Bank executives are not happy about Apple working with Visa, and plan on letting Visa know that at an annual summit that is set to be held next week.

Cell Phone

Xperia X to get Android 7.1.2 Concept update without the fingerprint issues that plagued the Pixel

The Sony Concept team announced that it's preparing an Android 7.1.2 concept update for the Xperia X smartphone. Concept releases are a way to get the latest pure Android version running on your Xperia phoneif you would like that in place of the official Sony firmware, which is a reasonably clean build of Android as well.

The Android 7.1.2 update will bring Bluetooth connectivity improvements, battery usage alerts, and various other fixes. Notably, this Android build gave Google Pixel and some Nexus phones issues with their fingerprint sensors. The changes Google applied to this part won't be included in the Xperia X Concept Update.

A drawback to the update is that the setup wizard for the initial setup (or after performing 'factory reset' and 'add user' functions) after powering the phone will only work with Wi-Fi. It's not very likely you will be impacted by this in any major way.

The concept update is ready for release and is going to be published soon. The Xperia X Concept program is only available to Sony's European users for some reason.

Cell Phone

LG G6 to gain 100 customized apps for its 18:9 display

LG Electronics is planning to increase the number of applications optimized for its 2017 flagship – the G6. The Seoul-based tech giant announced that by next month, its app store will boast 300 apps which will fully support the 18:9 "Full Vision" display of the G6. At the time of writing, there are about 200 apps which support the unusual aspect ratio on the company's SmartWorld store, so these numbers suggest that we will see a 50% increase in this particular segment of LG's digital market. As Samsung's Galaxy S8 and S8+ smartphones also feature screens with similar aspect ratios, this latest move by LG can be seen as an attempt to gain and maintain a competitive edge over its larger South Korean adversary. The company's official stance is that it aims to allow users to enjoy superior digital content, such as games and movies through the screen of the G6. In a previous statement, the company said: Compared with conventional 16:9 aspect ratio displays, the 18:9 format offers more viewing space and a more immersive experience when streaming videos and playing games.
Cell Phone

Buy the LG G6 or LG V20 from T-Mobile and get a free LG G Pad X 8.0 tablet

How would you like to receive a "free" tablet on T-Mobile's dime? Purchase the LG G6 or LG V20 from T-Mobile along with the LG G Pad X 8.0 using the carrier's Equipment Installment Plan. Then, sign up for a data plan containing at least 2GB of data a month. Six to eight weeks later, you will be reimbursed for the tablet via a pre-paid MasterCard. In theory, the MasterCard should be used to pay off the remaining balance of the tablet. But you could decide to use it for something else; as long as you are making the monthly payments on the device. Speaking of the tablet, the LG G Pad X 8.0 features an 8-inch LCD screen with a 1200 x 1920 resolution. Powering the slate is a Snapdragon 617 SoC carrying an octa-core 1.5GHz CPU, and the Adreno 405 GPU. 2GB of RAM is inside along with 16GB of native storage. The actual amount available to the user is 9.18GB. Those seeking additional memory can access the 128GB capacity microSD slot. Both back and front cameras weigh in at 5MP, and a 4650mAh battery keeps the hamster wheel spinning. Android 6.0 is pre-installed. Besides this very serviceable tablet, if you purchase the LG G6 from T-Mobile before April 30th, you will also receive a free Google Home (although to be fair, the free Google Home is available to anyone who buys the LG G6 in the U.S. before April 30th. The free tablet deal is a limited time offer, and we have no idea when it will expire. In addition, once supplies of the tablet run out, the deal is over. If interested, click on the sourcelink or visit your local T-Mobile location.

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