Instagram Launches "Co-Watching" Via Video Chat

Instagram has just launched Co-Watching, a new feature that “allows you to view Instagram posts together with your friends over video chat. You can start a video chat by tapping the video chat icon in the Direct inbox or in an existing Direct thread, then view saved, liked and suggested photos/videos by tapping the photo icon in the bottom left corner in an ongoing video chat.” The new feature is designed to help people stay connected while staying at home during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Apple App Store Now Supports Single Purchase for Both iOS and macOS Apps

Apple has now fully launched Universal Purchase, a new feature of its App Store that lets customers make a single app purchase to gain access to that app across all of Apple’s OS platforms, including macOS and iOS. For example, buying an app on your iPhone would automatically give you access to not only the iOS version, but also the macOS, iPadOS, watchOS, and tvOS versions of that same app, if they exist. Developers need to update their apps and App Store listings to support Universal Purchase.

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Verizon Adds 15GB of Data for All Consumers, Small Businesses

Verizon is adding 15 GB of high-speed data to the plans of all wireless consumer and small business customers. Also, for low-income customers participating in the Lifeline program, the company is fully waiving the next two months of internet and voice service charges. The changes are automatic and require no action in the part of customers. These actions by Verizon are designed to help customers stay connected as they operate from home during the current COVID-19 pandemic.

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Samsung Discounts Galaxy S20 5G, S20 Plus by $200

Samsung has slashed the price of its flagship Galaxy S20 5G and Galaxy S20+ phones by $200 at retailers like Amazon and Best Buy, bringing the base configuration of the unlocked phones down to $800 and $1,000, respectively. The top-end Galaxy S20 Ultra is not currently being discounted. The S20 series of phones were just released on March 6th. The unlocked versions now being discounted are compatible with the 4G and 5G networks of major US carriers. The smaller S20 only supports sub-6 GHz 5G, but the larger S20+ supports both sub-6 5G and faster mmWave 5G networks.

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T-Mobile Launches New, Cheaper Plans

T-Mobile is launching its cheaper T-Mobile Connect plans starting this Wednesday, March 25th, instead of waiting until its merger with Sprint closes, as originally planned. There are two plan options: $15/month (plus tax) for 2 GB of high-speed phone data, or $25/month for 5 GB of high-speed phone data. Both plans include unlimited talk and text, and include access to 5G with a compatible 5G phone. T-Mobile has also promised to automatically add a 1/2 GB of monthly data to each plan, each year for the next five years. The company also introduced new special offers for Metro customers to help them stay connected during the current pandemic. For the next two months, Metro is offering a $15 plan, half the price of the current most affordable plan. For 60 days after customers activate, it’s $15/month for unlimited talk and text plus 2 GB of high-speed phone data. Also, new and current Metro customers with any voice line can also get a free 8″ tablet with a new $15/month unlimited tablet data plan. Finally, Metro is offering half-off its dedicated mobile hotspot devices, and the $35/month hotspot data plan will include 20 GB — double the normal monthly data — for the next 60 days.

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T-Mobile Offers Customers Extended Free Trial of YouTube Premium

T-Mobile is offering customers a two-month free trial of YouTube Premium, which includes ad-free viewing, offline viewing, and YouTube Music Premium. The service is normally $12/month with a one-month free trial. The special offer is being made available via T-Mobile Tuesdays, the company’s bonus/reward program. Android users can access the offer starting tomorrow with the T-Mobile Tuesdays app, and iOS users can access it by visiting t-mobiletuesdays.com.

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Google Cancels I/O Developer Event

Google will no longer hold any sort of developer event this year, due to the current pandemic. The company’s annual I/O event was already changed to an online-only format, but now will not happen at all.

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AT&T to Temporarily Expand Network Capacity with Spectrum on Loan from Dish

AT&T has reached an agreement with Dish that will allow AT&T to use some of Dish’s radio frequency licenses for the next 60 days. This will allow AT&T to temporarily, significantly boost the capacity its 4G LTE network. AT&T will be able to deploy the spectrum quickly using its existing network equipment for bands 66 and 29. Phones supporting those bands will be able to access the additional capacity automatically. Dish is providing the spectrum — which it owns but has not been using — at no cost to AT&T. In recent days, the FCC has taken the unusual move of forcing companies such as Dish to temporarily relinquish radio frequencies they own licenses to, but that have been sitting idle. Customers of T-Mobile, Verizon, and US Cellular have been the beneficiaries of those FCC actions this week. All of these temporary actions are designed to meet the sudden surge in demand for all types of broadband access, as people turn to video conferencing to work and learn from home during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Nokia Unveils its First 5G Phone, Supporting 12 5G Bands

HMD Global today announced the Nokia 8.3 5G, the company’s first 5G phone. HMD claims it supports more 5G networks than any other 5G phone to date, supporting sub-6 GHz 5G networks in 12 different frequency bands, including ones used in the US, such as bands 2, 5, 41, 66, and 71. The 8.3 5G supports both today’s NSA (non-stand-alone) 5G networks, as well as forthcoming SA (stand-alone) 5G networks. It’s powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G chipset paired with 6 or 8 GB of LPDDR4 RAM and 64 or 128 GB of storage. It has a 6.8-inch full-HD display with a corner hole-punch for the front camera, and a 4,500 mAh battery. It rear camera array uses Zeiss lenses and includes a 64-megapixel main sensor, 12-megapixel wide camera, 2-megapixel macro camera, and a depth camera for portrait effects. The front camera is 24 megapixel. The Nokia 8.3 5G also has a side-mounted fingerprint reader, memory card slot, 3.5mm audio jack, USB-C, fast charging, and a dedicated Google Assistant button. It will ship globally this summer starting at 599 Euros (approx. 640 USD).

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Nokia 5.3 Offers Quad Rear Cameras for $200

Nokia today announced the Nokia 5.3, a new mid-range Android phone. It has a 6.5-inch HD display with a small notch, 4,000 mAh battery, and is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 665 chip. It has four rear cameras: a 13-megapixel main camera with f/1.8 aperture, plus a 5-megapixel wide camera, 2-megapixel macro camera, and a depth camera for portrait effects. The 5.3 also comes with 3–6 GB of RAM, 64 GB of storage, a memory card slot, USB-C, fingerprint reader, dedicated Google Assistant button, and a 3.5mm audio jack. The version for the Americas will support Cat. 4 LTE in bands 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 12/17, 13, 28, 38 and 66. Color choices are Cyan, Sand, and Charcoal. It will ship globally in April for 189 Euros (approx. 200 USD).

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