Sony today is continuing its run of updating its Xperia devices to Android 4.3 Jelly Bean. The latest devices include the Xperia Z Tablet, Xperia Z, Xperia ZL, and Xperia ZR. In addition to adding themes, battery improvements, and a new camera UI, the update delivers across the board improvements in graphical performance and transitions. Xperia Tablet Z owners also get the benefit of Restricted Profiles supporting multiple users having unique experiences with their own storage, settings, and home screen layout on the device. The update schedule varies by region and carrier, so not everyone will see an update today.
The Verizon model of the Samsung Galaxy Note II has joined the parade of devices that have upgraded firmware versions this week. While some smartphones made the jump to Kitkat, the Galaxy Note II is instead being treated to an Android 4.3 Jelly Bean update that will add some new features from the Samsung Premium Suite software. The new software also enables compatibility with the Galaxy Gear smart watch. A complete list of changes is available at Verizon. Customers can also search for the 246MB download by going to Settings > About Phone > System updates.
BlackBerry Messenger will come preloaded on LG Android smartphones, including the soon to launch LG G Pro Lite. BlackBerry has issued a statement confirming that it has reached an an agreement with LG to preinstall BBM on phones released in unspecified "key markets" across the globe. BBM has been available for Android and iOS since October, adding tens of millions of new users in the process. Appearing on new LG devices could make the cross-platform messaging client more appealing in some regions, especially existing BBM hotbeds like the Middle East, Africa, and southeast Asia.
Apple will no longer allow new or updated iOS apps to publish to the App Store unless they are optimized for iOS 7. Existing apps will remain in the App Store, but developers wishing to update their apps after February 1, 2014 will have to ensure that their apps have the latest version of Xcode 5 and follow the iOS Human Interface Guidelines. The rule change should cut down on the number of iPhone and iPad apps using the old style UI and keyboard, which will eventually bring a higher rate of uniformity between apps.
AT&T has reached an agreement with EE that will allow AT&T's US customers to have access to 4G service when traveling in the UK. The agreement will allow customers to have access to EE's 4G network provided that their phones are compatible. Differences in spectrum between the networks mean only certain models will be able to take advantage of the faster speeds, but it will allow customers to roam abroad. The agreement still has many questions left to answer, including how much more customers will have to pay when roaming and when EE customers will be able to roam on AT&T's network, something EE declined to mention.
Sprint today announced that it has launched its tri-band 4G LTE Sprint Spark service in Chicago and it plans to have several other markets online by the middle of next year. Sprint Spark works only with a handful of devices, and the next smartphone to be included will be an updated version of the Samsung Galaxy S 4. The device remains identical to the one launched last spring with the exception that the 1.9 GHz quad-core processor has been added to go along with the connectivity changes necessary to support switching between 800 MHz, 1.9GHz, and 2.5GHz spectrum bands. The phone will cost $199.99 when purchased on a two-year agreement.
Motorola will give one final push to its Cyber Monday sale that drops the price on the Moto X to $349 without contract. Motorola had originally intended to make the sale a one-day promotion last week but its website failed to handle user demand. The solution was to have customers register for codes at motorola.com/holiday2daysale in order to get a voucher that lowers the price. Motorola will resume delivering those codes today at 12 noon ET / 9 AM PST, and supplies are limited,. Once a code is obtained, users have 7 days to create phone on Motomaker.com to complete their orders.
HTC has been trying various ways to promote its flagship phone, the HTC One, and the latest method includes footing the bill for buyers who don?t want to deal with up-front costs. Customers who visit HTC.com can apply to get an unlocked HTC One, compatible on AT&T and T-Mobile, for $0 down. Buyers with qualified credit can get the $599 phone for no money down and monthly payments of $25. More details about the financing are available at HTC.
Amazon has announced a 12 Days of Deals promotion that will see the online retailer drop the price of certain books by as much as 80 percent. Each day, a set of books that fit a theme - such as Best of 2013, Cookbooks, etc. - will be offered for $2.99. The deals are for a limited time and can be viewed at Amazon.com/dealsinbooks. Amazon Kindle customers on the Kindle Fire, Android, or iPad can build their libraries or gift these purchases to others. The promotion runs from today until December 14, 2013.
Microsoft's planned acquisition of Nokia has been approved by the US Department of Justice and the FTC. With both regulatory agencies approving of the deal, Microsoft needs only the go-ahead from the European Union to make the deal official. Nokia shareholders have already voted in favor of selling its handset division for $7.2 billion dollars. The deal will see the company maintain its networking operations but sell smartphone facilities, patents, and workforce to Microsoft.