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Major Internet service providers in the United States have long taken a beating in customer satisfaction surveys, but the latest survey from the American Customer Satisfaction Index has the grimmest news yet for American ISPs: They now have the lowest customer satisfaction ranking of any industry in America, worse than even airlines, health insurance companies and gas stations. The survey shows that American consumers are particularly unhappy with ISPs’ call center service, with the variety of Internet plans they offer and with their quality of online video streaming.
Google appears to be working on a sequel to its ill-fated Nexus Q streaming device. The Nexus Q debuted at last year’s I/O Developers Conference with limited capabilities and a premium price tag that eventually led to Google postponing the project. But a recent filing with the Federal Communications Commission has revealed a mysterious Google-built device that “functions as a media player” and could be a revamped Q. Little is known about the device, although it is equipped with support for 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi and was connected to a Dell 24-inch monitor for testing, giving further evidence that it is a potential Nexus Q sucessor. The device is known as the “H840 device” and features the model number H2G2-42, a reference to Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
When Google unveiled its new Hangouts service last week, keen observers noted that there was a glaring omission in the company’s effort to cobble together all its messaging services onto one platform: Google Voice. But a new Google+ post from Google director of real-time communications Nikhyl Singhal suggests that Hangouts users won’t have to wait for Voice much longer. Specifically, Singhal says that while “today’s version of Hangouts doesn’t yet support outbound calls on the web and in the Chrome extension,” it will “support inbound calls to your Google Voice number.” He then adds that the company is “working hard on supporting both, and outbound/inbound calls will soon be available.” Singhal also says that Hangouts are “the future of Google Voice,” so it’s pretty clear that Google is placing all of its messaging service chips onto Hangouts for the foreseeable future.
Samsung is rumored to be preparing a new Galaxy Tab tablet to debut in the coming months. Earlier reports claimed the device would be equipped with a 10.1-inch 1280 x 800 pixel resolution display, a 1.5GHz dual-core processor, 1GB of RAM, a 3-megapixel camera, a 7,000 mAh battery and Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean. Recently discovered benchmark results, however, suggest Samsung may turn to Intel to power the Galaxy Tab 3 10.1. Results from the GLBenchmark database reveal that the upcoming tablet is equipped with a 1.6GHz dual-core Intel Atom Z2560 processor with a PowerVR SGX 544 MP2 GPU. Samsung has traditionally relied on ARM-based processors such as its in-house Exynos line or Qualcomm’s Snapdragon chips to power its devices. A deal with Samsung, the world’s largest mobile vendor, would greatly benefit Intel as it attempts to increase its share in the mobile market. The most recent rumors claim the Galaxy Tab 3 10.1 will launch in late June or early July.
Is Samsung’s Galaxy S4 really “a precious stone glittering in the dark” or is it just an overrated slab of plastic with a nice display? Consumer Reports weighed in on this important controversy on Monday and declared that the Galaxy S4 really does live up to the hype and should now be considered the best smartphone in the world. Overall Consumer Reports found that “the S4 delivered top-notch performance in the most critical areas of our tests, including the camera,” and was particularly impressed with the device’s display that it said “is sensitive enough to use with gloves on — handy during cold weather.” The publication also praised the device’s multitasking capabilities and said that watching videos while checking email on the Galaxy S4 was a snap. Needless to say, Samsung will likely be pleased with such a high-profile endorsement, although the company would still likely sell record numbers of the Galaxy S4 even if Consumer Reports had panned the device.
Flexible displays are set to become the next big thing in mobile technology. LG previously confirmed that it will release a smartphone with a flexible display later this year, while unbreakable handsets from Samsung and Motorola are also said to be in the pipeline. LG on Monday announced that it plans to demo a 5-inch flexible and unbreakable OLED display for the first time this week at the Society for Information Display’s (SID) annual trade show. The company will also showcase a new 5-inch HD display with a 1mm wide bezel, which will allow for the “production of borderless smartphones that are lightweight and emit significantly less heat.” LG plans to release a smartphone with a flexible OLED display in the fourth quarter of 2013. The company’s press release follows below.
Google announced a special edition Galaxy S4 smartphone running stock Android at its I/O Developers Conference last week. The device will be sold directly through Google Play for $649 in June and won’t run Samsung’s TouchWiz user interface. There was some speculation that other manufacturers may also release a “Google Edition” variant of their flagship devices. Although HTC confirmed that it has no plans for a stock HTC One, a well-connected developer and HTC insider reports otherwise. Twitter user “LlabTooFeR,” who has gotten accurate scoops on HTC in the past, said this week that he knows “for a fact” that a “Senseless” HTC One will be released at the end of the summer. HTC’s flagship smartphone has been praised for its metal design and front facing speakers, however some critics have argued that the company’s Sense user interface is holding the device back. The HTC One is equipped with a 4.7-inch 1080p full HD display, a 1.7Ghz Snapdragon 600 processor, 2GB of RAM and a 4.3-ultrapixel rear camera.
AT&T has always been hesitant to allow customers to use video chat applications on its cellular network. The company previously blocked Apple’s FaceTime service from iPhone devices, only recently allowing customers on a tiered data plan to use the feature. AT&T further angered customers when it blocked Android users from using the video chatting feature in Google’s new Hangouts application unless connected to a Wi-Fi network. In a statement given to The Verge, the carrier confirmed that it will update its controversial policy later this year and will enable preloaded video chat applications over its cellular networks for all customers, regardless of their data plan or device. AT&T’s statement follows below.
Microsoft’s Windows 8 platform hasn’t exactly been the catalyst PC makers were looking for as sales continue to slide, but the new operating system does seem to be making some progress. IHS-owned market research firm Displaybank says that of the 46 million notebook computers that shipped during the first quarter this year, 4.57 million of them included touchscreens, Digitimes reported. That figure is good for a 10% share of the global market and is up a healthy 51.8% from the fourth quarter last year. Displaybank is impressed by touchscreen laptops’ relatively quick penetration considering how young the market is, but it remains to be seen whether or not Microsoft’s new platform and the touchscreens that come along with it will help struggling PC makers rebound.
We’ve known for a while that Samsung wants to significantly decrease its dependence on Google and its Android platform, and now The Wall Street Journal reports that the company “will be hosting a global competition to lure developers to create apps for its Galaxy smartphones” that will pay 10 winners a combined $800,000 in prize money. The Journal says that Samsung is “particularly looking for apps that can be coordinated with” its new Group Play feature that debuted on the Galaxy S4 and that lets users quickly zap music, photos and other content via NFC from one phone to another. Samsung’s strategy with the Galaxy S4 hasn’t just been to deliver improved specifications from earlier models but to add several new software features that the company thinks will help its devices stand out in a crowded Android market.
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