New Instant Tethering feature is rolling out as part of Google Play Services 10.2 for Android


Google is currently in the process of rolling out the latest version of Play Services, namely 10.2, to all Android devices. As usual, there’s nothing you need to do – Play Services updates automatically in the background. Once you get this version, you may also receive a neat new function called Instant Tethering.

Here’s what it does. Say you have an Android phone and tablet, both connected to the same Google account. You’re browsing the internet on the tablet at home, connected to your wireless router’s Wi-Fi network. But then, all of a sudden, this becomes unavailable or gets disconnected from the internet. With Instant Tethering available and turned on, you’d then receive the following message on the tablet:

If you tap Connect, your phone (which you don’t have to touch for this to work) will disconnect from Wi-Fi, connect to cellular data, start up a mobile hotspot, and allow your tablet to connect to it – and the tablet will do just that automatically. So with literally one tap on your tablet you’ve gone from being connected to a network sans internet access, or being disconnected altogether, to browsing the internet through your smartphone’s data plan. And that’s without having to pick up the phone, turn off Wi-Fi, turn on cellular data, and turn on the mobile hotspot functionality.

The bad news is that not a lot of people have Google Play Services 10.2 yet. As usual with Google, it’s a slow rollout. And even if you do, that’s just a prerequisite to see the Instant Tethering feature. Google still has to do a server-side switch in order to enable it. So it could be a while before you see this on your devices.

To check for it, go to Settings > Google and look for Instant Tethering. If it is there, you can tap on it to see two options which can be toggled On or Off: Provide data connection (if the device you’re on has a cellular connection and you want it to make it available to your other devices), and Get data connection (which lets that device locate others with your Google account that can provide a cellular data connection). In the example above, the phone would be the one “providing” a data connection, while the tablet is the one “getting” it.

Source 1 | Source 2 | Via


LG G6 will have Google Assistant built-in, rumor says


Samsung’s Galaxy S8 has long been rumored to feature a revamped virtual assistant called Bixby, and LG’s G6 can’t afford not to play the AI game. A new rumor out of both companies’ home country of South Korea now claims that LG has done something that’s pretty surprising in the Android world.

Instead of building its own sub-par virtual assistant, LG has apparently turned to Google for help. As such, the G6 will come with the Google Assistant built-in. Previously, the Google Assistant was exclusive to Google’s own Pixel and Pixel XL smartphones (at least in the form that’s integrated into the Android system, since it also lives in the Allo chat app and the Google Home device).

The Google Assistant is also an integral part of the upcoming Android Wear 2.0 release, which will be running on the LG Watch Sport and Watch Style, the first wearables to have the new OS version on board. These were co-developed with Google in a program not dissimilar to what the Nexus line used to be for smartphones. The two smartwatches will be unveiled on February 9, it’s been rumored.

The LG G6 will be made official on February 26 at MWC in Barcelona. It’s reportedly going to become available in early March, beating the Galaxy S8 to the market by about a month.


Apple sues Qualcomm for $1 billion over excessive royalties


The news just keeps on getting worse for Qualcomm this week. A couple of days ago the FTC filed a lawsuit against the chip maker alleging that it has engaged in unfair patent licensing practices, and today it’s Apple’s turn to sue Qualcomm.

Apple’s lawsuit has to do with what it claims are excessive royalties charged by Qualcomm for use of basic cellular standards that it contributed to developing in the past.

Furthermore, Apple says that once it began cooperating with South Korean authorities in their antitrust investigation of Qualcomm, the chip maker withheld $1 billion in retaliation. Here’s Apple’s full statement on the matter:

For many years Qualcomm has unfairly insisted on charging royalties for technologies they have nothing to do with. The more Apple innovates with unique features such as TouchID, advanced displays, and cameras, to name just a few, the more money Qualcomm collects for no reason and the more expensive it becomes for Apple to fund these innovations. Qualcomm built its business on older, legacy, standards but reinforces its dominance through exclusionary tactics and excessive royalties. Despite being just one of over a dozen companies who contributed to basic cellular standards, Qualcomm insists on charging Apple at least five times more in payments than all the other cellular patent licensors we have agreements with combined.To protect this business scheme Qualcomm has taken increasingly radical steps, most recently withholding nearly $1B in payments from Apple as retaliation for responding truthfully to law enforcement agencies investigating them.

Apple believes deeply in innovation and we have always been willing to pay fair and reasonable rates for patents we use. We are extremely disappointed in the way Qualcomm is conducting its business with us and unfortunately after years of disagreement over what constitutes a fair and reasonable royalty we have no choice left but to turn to the courts.

Apple wants roughly $1 billion from Qualcomm as compensation for this behavior. Qualcomm hasn’t yet commented on Apple’s allegations and lawsuit.


January security update starts hitting Sony Xperia X and X Compact


Sony has started pushing out a new update to its Xperia X and X Compact smartphones (all variants). Arriving as build number 34.2.A.0.292, the update brings along Android security fixes for the month of January.

Aside from the latest security patch, it isn’t known what other changes (if any) are included in the update. In case you missed, the Xperia X units that are part of the company’s Concept for Android program also received the January update recently.

As is usually the case with OTA roll outs, it may take some time before the update hits your device. Meanwhile, if you feel impatient, you can manually check for the update by heading to your handset’s Settings menu.


iOS 11 may finally allow group FaceTime video calls


Ever since its introduction in 2010, Apple’s FaceTime has only supported video calls between two parties. That, however, might finally change this year. According to a yet-unconfirmed report from Israel, Apple is going to make group FaceTime calls a feature of iOS 11.

The new version of the mobile operating system will probably be unveiled, like clockwork, at the company’s annual WWDC conference in the summer. It should then go through the usual phase of developer-focused and public betas before being released for everyone in the fall, around the time the new iPhones launch.

The information regarding group FaceTime video calls in iOS 11 allegedly comes from “several people familiar with iOS development process”, which is apparently being done, in part, in Israel. The group calling feature will support up to five people at a time, and will be initialized through group iMessage conversations.

Source (in Hebrew) | Via

Android Pay to support PayPal cards and Visa Checkout, v1.13 APK teardown reveals


Android Pay has recently been updated to version 1.13, and while this didn’t add many new changes to the payment app’s interface or otherwise, an APK teardown reveals more about the future capabilities of Android Pay. The mobile payment app will (at some time in the future) allow users to add their PayPal cards and the ability to support Visa Checkout.

Thanks to a deal previously established between PayPal and Discover, places where Discover is normally accepted would enable these terminals with PayPal support. A similar deal returned the favor which allows PayPal access to Discover’s tokens, which are needed to accept contactless payment services, i.e. Android Pay.

At the end of the day, what the latter means is that Android Pay would start supporting PayPal (and/or PayPal cards) thanks to Discover’s tokens which create virtual account numbers for transactions. The code string found in the APK teardown reads: “A virtual Discover account was used to make this purchase”. It doesn’t specifically mention ‘PayPal’, but this is implied.

Moving on to Visa Checkout, whose partnership was announced back in October alongside Masterpass, it allows Visa card holders to pay merchants without disclosing any credit card information. So basically like PayPal for Visa cards. The corresponding string of text that refers to Visa Checkout is the following: “This number was issued by %1$s. It’s used when you make purchases with Visa Checkout in Android Pay.”

As more services and banks are added to Android Pay and other various mobile payment services, we are slowly but surely moving past the need to use our own physical credit cards to make payments. Now it’s a matter of widely adopting new terminals to accept mobile payments.


ZTE BA602 with quad-core CPU and 5.5-inch display spotted on TENAA


A new ZTE smartphone has been spotted on the website of the Chinese telecommunication authority TENAA. Listed as BA602, the device is powered by an SoC with quad-core, 1.25GHz processor, and sports a 5.5-inch HD display.

RAM options include 1GB ,2GB, and 3GB, while storage options include 8GB, 16GB, and 32GB. In terms of camera, the phone features an 8MP rear unit and a 2MP front shooter. Measuring 153.3 × 77 × 8.6mm and weighing in at 168g, the BA602 runs Android 6.0 and packs in a 3,000mAh battery.

Color options include quicksand gold, galaxy silver, phantom gray, quiet blue, and black. No information on pricing and availability so far.