Cellular

Google Area 120 Orion WiFi shifts phones to WiFi when cellular is weak

Google Area 120 Orion WiFi shifts phones to WiFi when cellular is weak

It isn't unusual that we lose our cellular signals in certain places, be it indoors because of structural impediments or outdoors for one reason or another. There's a reason why some establishments offer free public Wi-Fi to keep visitors happy, but the hassle of figuring out which ones are safe to connect to makes them sad anyway. That's why Google's Area 120 skunkworks arm is launching Orion WiFi that can automatically and seamlessly connect you to such WiFi access points, but with a slight commercial twist that could interest network carriers.

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New Pandora Apple Watch app released with iPhone-free experience

New Pandora Apple Watch app released with iPhone-free experience

A new version of the Pandora app for Apple Watch was launched that requires no assistance from an iPhone or iPad or smartphone of any sort. This app is what's called a "standalone" app for Apple Watch, meaning Pandora's claim for "on the go" functionality is about as true as it's ever going to get. This app allows music and podcasts to be played on Apple Watch devices right out the gate.

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Android P might let carriers control LTE signal bars

Android P might let carriers control LTE signal bars

The Wi-Fi and cellular icons on Android aren’t just there to simply show whether you’re connected or not. It might be subtle, but they also give users a hint of the quality of their network connections. Users might take it for granted, but arriving at that representation isn’t just simple math. By next year, however, it might get even more complicated. Commits in the Android Open Source Project or AOSP reveal that the next Android release might give carriers the ability to define the signal strength show in those bars, which could put into question how accurate their representation might be.

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Nest Secure cellular backup taps T-Mobile for coverage [UPDATE on pricing]

Nest Secure cellular backup taps T-Mobile for coverage [UPDATE on pricing]

This week the folks at Nest announced that their exclusive cellular backup provider for Nest Secure will be T-Mobile USA. At the same time, the folks at T-Mobile USA announced their plans to sell a Nest security package. With one and the other, Nest will have a backup for when users' power is out or their Wi-fi becomes disconnected - riding on T-Mobile's carrier coverage across the USA.

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T-Mobile calls out Verizon with its latest switcher promotion

T-Mobile calls out Verizon with its latest switcher promotion

T-Mobile has announced a new switcher promotion as part of its "summer celebration" and it's aimed directly at pulling people away from Verizon. This latest deal has all the trappings of typical switcher promotions - T-Mobile will pay the remaining balance on your device, hook you up with a new plan, and let you add additional lines at a discount. However, this promotion has one major offer we don't see that often: T-Mobile will let you keep your phone.

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Republic Wireless lures new Android customers with six free months

Republic Wireless lures new Android customers with six free months

Republic Wireless is trying to lure in new subscribers by offering a special promotion wherein the first six months are free. The promotion comes with limitations and requirements, of course, the primary one being that you'll have to bring your own Android smartphone to the service. If you do so, as well as claim the promotion, Republic Wireless will give you up to 2GB of 4G LTE for free for the first six-months of your stay at the carrier.

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AT&T pulls the plug on its 2G network

AT&T pulls the plug on its 2G network

We knew it was coming, but now AT&T has made it official: the carrier's 2G network is no more. AT&T announced this week that it has shut down its 2G network, a move that's been years in the making. The kicker is that the shutdown happened without most people even realizing it, as AT&T said the network has been inactive since January 1.

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AT&T Wi-Fi calling on Android continues rally away from cellular

AT&T Wi-Fi calling on Android continues rally away from cellular

The end of cellular phone call service is coming. AT&T's Wi-Fi calling and text messaging is the next step towards that goal. While it may not be the intent of mobile device carriers to move completely away from cellular service, that is indeed the trend. AT&T's latest move is to enable Wi-Fi Calling on "select Android devices" - for now that includes the LG G4 and a variety of iPhone devices only.

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Google ships LEGO bricks to Project Fi users [UPDATE]

Google ships LEGO bricks to Project Fi users [UPDATE]

Those relative few of you on Google's cellular network business Project Fi should be receiving an odd package in the mail this week. What's inside, you might ask? Why, LEGO bricks, of course. A set of LEGO* bricks that, when put together correctly, create a phone stand for your device. Encouragement for the next generation of Google-made smartphones is also included in the box in the form of a USB-C to USB Standard A Plug Cable. How handy!

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Android Wear now officially supports standalone connectivity

Android Wear now officially supports standalone connectivity

It's about time, right? Well, maybe, depending on which side of the fence you're on. If you're of the opinion that smartwatches shouldn't be anything more than an accessory to your smartphone or tablet, then this new Android Wear feature might not make much sense. But if you believe that a smartwatch should be an independent mobile device in its own right, then you might welcome this news with glee. Android Wear finally supports cellular connections, allowing smartwatches to connect to the Internet and networks even when the smarpthone isn't around.

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Los Angeles street lights will double as cell towers soon

Los Angeles street lights will double as cell towers soon

Los Angeles will be the first city to launch Philips’ SmartPole Street lighting, the company has announced. These LED light poles feature “small cell technology” developed by Ericsson — that is, they function as small 4G LTE cell towers. The city’s mayor says this effort will involve “taking advantage of previously untapped real estate” in Los Angeles, which has more light poles than an other American city. The benefits will be two-fold, with LED lights using less electricity and the cellular technology improving network coverage.

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North Korea’s 3G cellular network for visitors is down

North Korea’s 3G cellular network for visitors is down

In the relatively recent past, North Korea introduced a 3G cellular Internet service for foreigner visitors to the nation, granting them a level of Internet access that the nation's own residents do not have. The network has been available more or less consistently since it was launched, but now is no longer available. The service provider through which the network was provided, Koryolink, recently said in a statement that it was having a service outage, and that it was on “the local internet provider’s side” rather than its own. There’s no known time frame for when the service will be restored.

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