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samsung_glw_01Samsung’s mid-range Galaxy Tab line might not have the ability to make voice calls in the United States, but since 2011, overseas markets have had the option to add cellular connectivity. So the company’s new seven-inch phone announced on Monday, the Galaxy W, isn’t a new product, but rather a new moniker. Like the Galaxy Tab, it doesn’t pack flagship specifications: a 720p display, a 1.2GHz quad-core processor and Android 4.3 with no guarantee of timely updates. It’ll cost nearly 500,000 won in Korea, which works out to just under $500. No word about when if it’ll ever come to the United States, so if you want a phone-tablet hybrid, your best bet is probably the currently available Samsung Galaxy Mega.

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In Brief

The Windows Phone Store is the first of the three major mobile app stores to automatically include device make and model alongside reviews. According to Windows Phone Central, device names are showing up next to star ratings on the mobile Windows Phone Store. So if someone is raving about a game’s graphics performance, you can see if that person is running the flagship Nokia 1020. Developers will also find it handy to ascertain whether their apps are crashing on specific devices. Considering that Windows Phone is seeing a lot of growth in low-cost handsets, this is a smart addition that will save a lot of grief for the millions using Windows Phones with lower specifications, and I hope to see it on Google Play soon.

In Brief

Microsoft announced a new version of Windows on Friday, Windows 8.1 with Bing, that will be sold only to hardware makers. The idea is to take advantage of lower system requirements in Windows 8.1 and provide a lower-cost operating system option to compete with Chromebooks and Android. According to Microsoft, there is only one difference in the new version: Bing is the default search engine and although users can change it, the hardware makers can’t. According to a Microsoft spokesperson, this version is identical to the free version of Windows Microsoft licenses for small tablets, except for other types of computer, such as clamshell laptops. Looks like a few new cheap Windows notebooks are headed our way.

In Brief

Google Chrome users on Android should keep their eyes peeled for the newest update, which is rolling out Wednesday. Chrome version 35 has a number of improvements, including an undo tab close button, which we saw in beta last month. Another nifty improvement is the way Chrome for Android handles HTML 5 video, which now support full-screening and subtitles.That’s great, as Google wants YouTube to play in HTML 5 whenever possible. Chrome OS and Chrome browser are also getting a few updates, including the ability to say “OK Google” to take control of a new tab.

In Brief

When Microsoft announced the Surface Pro 3 on Tuesday, a lot of people were surprised it didn’t announce a Windows RT-based “Surface Mini,” as had been rumored for weeks before the event. Microsoft did in fact have a Surface Mini in development but pulled it recently because CEO Satya Nadella and Executive VP Stephen Elop thought it “wouldn’t be a hit,” according to a report from Bloomberg. Nadella and Elop’s reported concerns echo what my colleague Kevin Tofel said last month when he reviewed the Dell Venue 8, a full Windows 8 tablet at the same likely size and price range as the unreleased Mini.

In Brief

Google announced Monday that it has bought Divide, a company that builds apps meant to make it easier for businesses to allow employees to use personal smartphones on secure corporate networks. Considering recent reports that iOS still dominates the enterprise market, Google’s purchase appears to be a savvy move to beef up Android’s bring-your-own-device capabilities for large companies. The Divide team will be joining the Android team, but while the Divide app is currently available for both iOS and Android, the WSJ is reporting there are no plans to kill the iOS app. Google did not disclose the purchase price.

In Brief

If you switch from an iPhone to an Android or other phone, there’s a good chance that some text messages will go missing due to the way Apple handles its iMessage application. Some people have been able to fix the problem — here’s how I did it – but some former iPhone users, like former Lifehacker Adam Pash, are complaining there’s no solution in sight. Adrianne Moore, one of the aggrieved switchers, filed a class action lawsuit on Friday looking for both a fix and restitution from Apple. The lawsuit was filed in federal court in San Jose, California. If you’re interested in the case, most of the filing is available over at Patently Apple.

In Brief

Want Google Glass and don’t have your very own pair yet? Well, Google’s selling the devices online right now to everyone in the United States and you don’t need an invite to buy them, according to Glass’s Google+ account. If you’ve got $1,500 and the desire to be a “Glass Explorer,” head on over and buy your pair before they run out. Like Google’s previous one-day Glass sale, this chance is while supplies last.

In Brief

Google pushed out an update to its iOS Google Search app on Tuesday, bringing the version number up to 4.0. The update improves Google’s voice search, which now recognizes natural language such as “what’s the weather like?” In addition, Google has added cards for news from blogs and selected authors, which have been popping up on Android for a while but just made it over to iOS. Google Search is currently the only way to use Google Now on the iPhone. It’s a nifty update, and it’s currently available on the App Store.

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