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Google reportedly offered Android changes to EU in 2017

July 22, 2018 — by Engadget.com0

Omar Marques/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The European Union may have characterized its $5 billion Android antitrust fine as punishment for an intransigent Google, but the practical reality might be different. Bloomberg sources have claimed that Google offered to make changes to its Android policies in August 2017, not long after it received an EU antitrust penalty for its product search practices. Although Google didn’t dive into specifics, it had offered to “loosen restrictions” in Android contracts and had considered distributing its apps in “two different ways.”

The EU wasn’t having it, according to the sources. Officials reportedly said only that a settlement was “no longer an option,” and that Google’s offer was “too little too late.” It couldn’t even mention the possibility of paying a fine as part of an agreement — regulators had effectively locked in their course of action. Google had tried to talk about ending the probe considerably earlier than that, according to the tipsters, but regulators supposedly either stonewalled or said it was too early to negotiate. If so, there may have only been a brief window of opportunity for a truce.

The revelations, if accurate, ultimately leave Google in the same boat: it’s now facing a giant fine and significant changes to its mobile strategy if its appeal doesn’t succeed. They do suggest that the penalty wasn’t inevitable, though, and that Google might well have implemented Russia-style changes months sooner if the EU had wanted to bend.

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Samsung may have an answer to Apple's AirPower wireless charger

July 22, 2018 — by Engadget.com0

Mobiparts.de

Whenever Apple releases its AirPower multi-device charger, it might have some fresh competition. Recently discovered images and listings have revealed Samsung’s Wireless Charger Duo, which (as the name implies) could offer fast charging to two devices at once. It wouldn’t be as flexible as Apple’s device since you’d need to place your devices on specific spots. However, you could top up a phone and the upcoming Galaxy Watch at the same time, or even two phones at once if you’re using it as a family charging station.

We wouldn’t make bets on pricing at this point. Given that the leaks revolve heavily around the Galaxy Note 9 and Galaxy Watch, there’s a good chance that Samsung could unveil the Wireless Charger Duo at its August 9th event. It might just be a matter of weeks before you can check one out first-hand.

This is the Samsung Wireless Charger Duo (EP-N6100) for the Galaxy Note 9. Charges the Galaxy Watch alongside the phone. pic.twitter.com/VnP10xAhvb

— Roland Quandt (@rquandt) July 21, 2018

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Apple might have to approve India's anti-spam app in six months

July 22, 2018 — by Engadget.com0

Chris Velazco/Engadget

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has introduced a new policy to fight spam calls and text that could impact Apple’s huge expansion plans in the country. Under the new rule, carriers have to ensure that their subscribers can install TRAI’s “Do Not Disturb” app on their phones. Problem is, Apple refuses to allow it on the App Store over privacy concerns, since it needs access to users’ call and message logs in order to report spam activities to the agency. Apple has been at odds with the regulator for over a year due to the issue, and this new development could force the tech giant to find a solution once and for all.

Based on the rule’s wording as reported by India Today, carriers have six months to make sure the devices they offer are capable of installing the app. If any of the models in their roster still can’t install it by then, they’ll have to cut off its access to their networks:

“Every Access Provider shall ensure, within six months’ time, that all smart phone devices registered on its network support the permissions required for the functioning of such Apps as prescribed in the regulations 6(2)(e) and regulations 23(2)(d).

Provided that where such devices do not permit functioning of such Apps as prescribed in regulations 6(2)(e) and regulations 23(2)(d), Access Providers shall, on the order or direction of the Authority, derecognize such devices from their telecom networks.”

Late last year, Apple agreed to help TRAI develop a version of the anti-spam app without some of its most worrisome features, such as its ability access to call logs. It’s not entirely clear if the company can release the revised application within the next six months or if it has to think of another way altogether. As India Today notes, though, iOS 12 already has built-in anti-spam capabilities — Cupertino might be able to use that to its advantage.

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Senate gives up on ZTE sanctions

July 20, 2018 — by Engadget.com0

Shutterstock / mdgn

Though a number of US senators have been seeking to block President Trump’s deal with ZTE that lets the Chinese firm circumvent sanctions put into place by US officials earlier this year, they have now backed off on that effort. In June, the Senate passed a version of the National Defense Authorization Act that reinstated sanctions against ZTE and would effectively nullify the president’s and Commerce Department’s deal with the firm. However, the House of Representatives passed a version of the bill without such language and the two chambers have been working on a compromise bill that marries each of their versions. Senators have now decided to abandon the ZTE sanctions in exchange for more oversight for the Committee on Foreign Investment in the US (CFIUS).

Earlier this year, the US banned ZTE from working with US companies after the firm shipped US-made parts to Iran and North Korea and then lied about giving executives involved in the deals large bonuses. But in June, the Commerce Department announced that it and the Trump administration had come to an agreement with ZTE and sanctions would be lifted as long as the company paid a $1 billion penalty, put $400 million in escrow, installed new directors and embedded a US-selected corporate monitor.

US lawmakers, however, weren’t satisfied with the deal and Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) told the Wall Street Journal last month, “China is using its telecommunications companies as means to conduct espionage. We need to solve the larger puzzle of trade and national security in addition to the enforcement action for the violation of sanctions.” The Senate later voted 85 to 10 to reinstate sanctions. But while lawmakers have debated how to deal with ZTE, the company has been working to comply with Trump’s deal. It replaced its CEO and other executives, installed a new board of directors, signed an escrow agreement with the Commerce Department, paid its fine and installed a US-chosen monitor. Because ZTE has now completed all requirements, the Commerce Department officially lifted the ban last week.

In exchange for backing off on the ZTE sanctions, lawmakers agreed to give CFIUS more authority over deals between foreign investors and US businesses. The committee reviews foreign investments in US companies, gauging whether they represent a threat to national security, and can advise the president to block deals whenever they’re found to pose a threat. It argued against the takeover of Qualcomm by Broadcom earlier this year. The language included in the National Defense Authorization Act will give CFIUS the ability to intervene in more cases than it can now.

But some Senators aren’t pleased. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said the backtrack on ZTE is an example of the president “being weak in the face of another nation’s leader while the GOP just follows along.” And Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), who was a proponent

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FCC opens public comments on T-Mobile-Sprint merger

July 20, 2018 — by Engadget.com0

Tak Yeung via Getty Images

If you have a strong opinion on the proposed $26 billion merger of T-Mobile and Sprint, now’s your chance to tell the FCC exactly what you think of the plan. The agency is accepting comments as well as formal petitions to deny the merger until August 27th. Following that, the companies and supporters of the deal can file oppositions to those petitions by September 17th, while a final round of replies has a deadline of October 9th, as the schedule currently stands.

Anyone can file petitions to deny, and you might expect to see some from consumer advocacy groups and industry experts who may be concerned over the reduction in the number of national carriers from four to three. The FCC has laid out a 180-day review timeline to determine whether the merger is in the public interest, but that’s more of a guideline and there’s no required deadline for the agency to issue a decision.

While the Trump version of the FCC is generally more business-friendly than the previous incarnation, there’s no guarantee the agency will rubberstamp the T-Mobile and Sprint tie-up. Just this week, the FCC effectively ended Sinclair’s chance of merging with Tribune Media over concerns about TV station ownership.

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Dish customers can chat with service reps through iMessage

July 20, 2018 — by Engadget.com0

DISH Network Corporation

Dish announced today that its customers can now chat with service representatives through Apple’s Business Chat messaging service. Apple launched Business Chat earlier this year and it lets companies interact with their customers through iMessage. So far, companies that have begun providing support through Business Chat include Discover, The Home Depot, Hilton, Lowe’s, T-Mobile and Wells Fargo. Dish says that its customers will be able to ask live agents questions, make account changes, schedule appointments and order pay-per-view movies and sporting events with Business Chat.

“TV should be simple, so we’ve made reaching our live customer service representatives as easy as sending a text,” Dish COO John Swieringa said in a statement. “Adding messaging with Apple Business Chat is a powerful way to connect with us, giving another choice so you can pick what fits with your life.” Message threads will remain open until customers delete them from their Messages app and conversations can be picked up at any time.

To contact Dish through Business Chat, your device must be running iOS 11.3 or higher. Just search for Dish on your iPhone or iPad and tap the Messages icon that shows up next to the Dish search result. Dish says that it will soon launch the ability for customers to open a chat through the contact page of the MyDish app.

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'Pokémon Go' cheaters now get three strikes before a ban

July 20, 2018 — by Engadget.com0

Bloomberg via Getty Images

In a post today, Niantic provided details on its new three-strike discipline policy for Pokémon Go players. In most cases, players found to be cheating will first get a warning through the Pokémon Go app and certain gameplay experiences may degraded for about a week. For example, that player may not be able to encounter rare Pokémon in the wild and could be excluded from receiving EX Raid Passes. The second strike will result in a temporary suspension that will last for approximately 30 days. If a player continues to cheat, the third and final strike will be a permanent ban.

“Everyone can make mistakes,” Niantic said in the post. “That’s why we have created this policy to enable offenders to learn from their mistakes and change their ways. If you have been issued a strike, don’t ignore it. Take action to ensure that you do not commit any further transgressions.” However, the post notes that some offenders may not be offered three strikes as certain behaviors will result in immediate termination.

Cheating will be defined as behaviors that violate the Terms of Service and Trainer Guidelines, and they include GPS location spoofing and unauthorized access of game clients or backends.

At one point, Niantic had a zero-tolerance policy against cheating, but more recently, the company has dealt with cheaters by only giving them lousy monsters and flagging those caught through third-party services.

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AT&T expands its 5G network to North Carolina and Kansas City

July 20, 2018 — by Engadget.com0

Education Images via Getty Images

AT&T’s mobile 5G network will expand to three new cities this year. Folks in two of North Carolina’s biggest population centers — Charlotte (above) and Raleigh — and those in Kansas City will have access to the faster wireless signal. Previously, it announced Atlanta, and Dallas and Waco in Texas. “We’re deliberately launching with a mix of big and mid-sized cities,” AT&T said in a press release. “All Americans should have access to next-gen connectivity to avoid a new digital divide.”

In addition to news about “real” 5G, AT&T also shed some light on the status of its pseudo-5G network. Another eight cities have come online with LTE-LAA today: Austin, Dallas, Houston, Little Rock, San Antonio, San Jose, Tampa and Tuscaloosa.

Back in January, the telco announced that its new true 5G network would be available in a dozen cities by year’s end. Now to start speculating what combination of burgeoning metropolises and smaller burgs will gain access.

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Toshiba's flash chips could boost SSD capacity by 500 percent

July 20, 2018 — by Engadget.com0

Bloomberg via Getty Images

Toshiba has started building prototype sample flash memory with the highest capacity yet, 1.33 terabits (166GB) per chip. The 96-layer 3D NAND flash chips have four bits per cell, as compared to its current-gen three-bit tech, which allowed for chips with “only” 32GB. A typical package for flash storage, containing 16 of the chips, would have an astonishing 2.66 TB capacity, opening up new possibilities for faster, higher density SSDs and memory cards.

Western Digital said it expects to start shipping consumer SanDisk products using the chips later this year. The firm still has a partnership with Tohiba despite the latter’s acquisition by Bain Capital, a consortium that includes Apple, Dell, Seagate and Kingston.

Despite constantly improving NAND flash tech, prices for SSDs and memory cards had been rising until recently because of a shortage of chips. They’re reportedly falling again because of lower demand for PCs, smartphones and cryto-mining equipment. That’s great news for consumers, so hopefully Toshiba’s new higher-capacity, faster chips will keep that trend going.

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Waze now works with Android Auto's phone display

July 19, 2018 — by Engadget.com0

AOL

Last July, Waze finally integrated with Android Auto, but the service was limited. Android Auto has two parts: What you can see on the car’s display unit and what is available on your phone’s screen. Previously Waze was only available through the car’s screen, but Android Police noticed you can now access it as an option on phones as well.

The Waze app has long been available for Android phones. This new update, however, is specifically referring to Waze on Android Auto on phones. This means you don’t need a car display unit to be able to use Waze on Android Auto.

This news comes on the heels of Apple’s announcement that iOS will finally open CarPlay to third-party maps with iOS 12. Waze and Google Maps will likely both be available when the new OS version launches this fall.