Higher data usage and new markets expected to increase profits going forward
AT&T knows that it can't keep providing subsidized devices to customers forever. Speaking at an investor conference in New York, CEO of AT&T Randall Stephenson explained that with smartphone adoption at 75 percent and rising, the cost of offering devices on subsidies just isn't financially viable. Just as we've all seen, carriers in the U.S. have been offering handsets for little or no money on-contract to drive smartphone adoption rates, but now with so many people buying expensive phones it's starting to take a toll.
New "Mobile Share Value" plans that give you a $15 break in your monthly bill for bringing your device or keeping one past two years is the first indication of this realization, but so are AT&T's increased prepaid efforts. Between its own GoPhone brand that has increased data allowances at reduced prices and acquisitions of other prepaid brands like Leap, AT&T plans to continue moving down market with smartphones to increase its subscriber base.
The nation's second-largest carrier doesn't intend to just lower rates and take a cut in profits, however. Stephenson explained that a decrease in the standard monthly price of having AT&T service will be made up in the long run with higher data usage on tiered plans, as well as moves into new markets like home automation and automobiles. Not to mention its new device financing plan, AT&T NEXT, which lets customers buy new phones without a subsidy.
Twitter has updated their mobile app this afternoon, and updaters will find two sizeable changes. The first is a shot at other messaging services — photos in direct messages. Twitter has long been a popular social network, but their direct messaging options are sparse compared to alternatives. The inclusion of photos will help here, and may lure more people to use Twitter for messaging that other services.
The second change is the timeline navigation and alerts. Swiping to the left or right will move you between your stream, the Discovery section where you'll find trends and tailored content, and the Activity timeline to see what your friends are doing and who they are doing it with. The badges at the top have been changed, making unread tweets and messages more prominent, with an ability to turn on notifications for a single user by starring their profile.
The new version is in Google Play now, waiting for you to go update.
As part of their national Sprint Spark rollout, Sprint will be releasing a new version of the Galaxy S4 in the coming weeks. Support for LTE bands 25, 26 and 41 will be included, and the new version will be compatible with the new LTE network in the locations that currently have it available, as well as any and all expansion sites.
Today, Sprint Spark is limited to Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, and Tampa, but Sprint says it will expand to 100 markets over the next year.
The new version of the Galaxy S4 will cost $199 with a new agreement and a $50 mail-in rebate, or just $25 monthly with Sprint's One Up financing.
Existing Galaxy S4 phones will not be compatible with Sprint Spark. See the full press release after the break.
New colors of Nexus 7 Sleeve, Nexus 7 Case now shipping as well
Just when you thought two new devices and a white version of the Nexus 7 was enough Google Play news for one day, Google has just made available new Nexus 7 cases as well. The Folio case is designed for just the Nexus 7 (2013), and offers an open-back bumper style along with a dual-fold cover on top. Just like many other cases of the style, the screen cover can fold up on the side to prop up your tablet at one of two angles. Buying the Folio will set you back $49.99 plus shipping, which ranges from $3.99 for 5-10 day to $15.99 for overnight.
Google has also begun selling two new colors of the previously-released Nexus 7 Sleeve (which works with both Nexus 7 generations), yellow and grey — both will set you back $29.99, and are a pretty solid value even at that price. Additionally, the hardcover Nexus 7 Case is also now for sale in white/red, grey/blue and grey/red color combos for $49.99 as well.
You can pick up the new Folio at the Play Store link above, and the new colors of the previously announced cases at the links below.
$649 price tag, compatible with AT&T and T-Mobile in the US
Google has dropped yet another surprise in the device section at Google Play, and this one comes from Sony in the form of their 6.4-inch Z Ultra.
The latest Google Play edition device, the Z Ultra, will have the same hardware and specifications we all know and love, but carry a basic "Nexus-like" build of the software. This has proven to be a quick track for manufacturers to get the Google Play edition devices on the latest version of Android, and keep them there.
At the same time, hardware features typically not found in Nexus devices (SD cards come to mind) are included and supported. It's a win-win situation for consumers, and one we love to see.
The Z Ultra Google Play edition is available now at Google Play, and carries a $649 price tag. As with the previous Google Play edition devices, this looks to be US only — at least for the time being. The Z Ultra GPe has full support for HSPA+ and LTE on both AT&T and T-Mobile in the US.
Amid all the Google Play edition news dropping today, Google has also taken the wraps off the Nexus 7 (2013) in white. Google says it'll be available in the UK, U.S. and Japan, and besides the change in color it's the same ASUS-made, current-generation Nexus 7 we've been using since the summer.
It's worth noting that at the time of writing it's only available in Wifi + 32GB versions — no 16GB or LTE at present.
For more, see the Play Store link above. It's currently marked as "coming soon" in the UK; in the U.S. it's available to order right now.
LG's latest mid-sized tablet comes in a new software flavor
Following tightly on rumors that it would release a stock tablet, LG has just announced the Google Play edition G Pad 8.3. The tablet looks nearly identical to the original version of the G Pad 8.3, but is of course running a stock version of Android 4.4 KitKat, as you would expect from a Google Play edition device.
The device is only available in black (rather than black and white), and packs the same 1.7GHz Snapdragon 600 processor, 2GB of RAM, 16GB of storage (expandable by MicroSD) and an 8.3-inch 1920 x 1200 IPS display.
The Google Play edition G Pad 8.3 is now available on the Play Store for $349.99, and at the moment shows 1-2 business day shipping. For the moment, Google and LG aren't releasing details on availability outside of the U.S.
Search, browse and share stock photos from your phone
One of the most popular stock photo and video services, Shutterstock, has released its own app into the Play Store after being available for some time on iOS. The Shutterstock mobile app lets you search, browse and view stock photography from its vast catalog, and then curate and share sets of photos with lightboxes.
And naturally if you choose to sign in with your Shutterstock account (you can browse for free regardless), your activity will be synced from mobile devices over to the web when you need to reference and image or make a purchase.