Mobile Miscellany: week of April 16th, 2012

Not all mobile news is destined for the front page, but if you're like us and really want to know what's going on, then you've come to the right place. This past week, Verizon announced that its LTE service now covers two-thirds of the US population, and T-Mobile dropped its 'nice girl' image in attempt to position its HSPA+ network as a viable competitor to LTE. These stories and more await after the break. So buy the ticket and take the ride as we explore the "best of the rest" for this week of April 16th, 2012.

  1. Verizon Wireless 4G LTE now reaches two-thirds of US population

Verizon has been rather persistent in its LTE rollout, and with its latest round of expansion -- which covers 15 states, and extends to both metropolitan and rural areas -- Big Red can now claim that its 4G service now reaches more than 66 percent of Americans. While we're unable to publish the full list of new areas, you can find a complete rundown with the following links. [Droid Life, Verizon Wireless]

T-Mobile looks to bring free international calls to its Bobsled VOIP service

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If you've yet to test drive T-Mobile's Bobsled service, might the promise of free international calls to 45 countries change your mind? The Bobsled app has been available to Android and iOS users since last October, but it's about to become a very big deal. While nothing is official, as the international service remains in testing phase, users will now find the ability to place free calls to the following countries: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Cambodia, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Georgia, Greece, Guadeloupe, Guam, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Kenya, S. Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Paraguay, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Russian Federation, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, Thailand, United Kingdom, United States, Uzbekistan, Venezuela and Vietnam. [Compixels]

Samsung Galaxy Rugby arrives at Rogers

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Rugged smartphones serve a rather niche segment of the marketplace, but really, who wouldn't want their handset to survive drops, spills or even a bout of intentional torture? The Samsung Galaxy Rugby is far from the perfect device, but it's easily the best in its class -- and now, it can be found at Rogers in Canada for just $50 on a three-year contract. It's still a bit of a stinker in the specs department, though, with an 800MHz CPU, a 3.7-inch HVGA display and a 3MP camera. [MobileSyrup]

Verizon Wireless plans to establish Windows Phone as the third smartphone ecosystem

Take one look at Verizon's online store and you might get the impression that the carrier is done with Windows Phone. Not true, says the company's CFO, Fran Shammo. Like AT&T is currently doing with the Lumia 900, Shammo states that Verizon is gearing up to establish Microsoft's platform as the third viable smartphone ecosystem. According to Shammo, the big push will take place with the arrival of Windows Phone 8 devices, which Verizon will have on its shelves in time for the holiday season. [Phone Scoop]

T-Mobile dumps the 'nice girl' image with a reset on its advertising campaign

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No more spring dresses and bubbly exuberance from T-Mobile's spokesperson -- now, she's pissed. The carrier has unveiled its new Alter Ego campaign, where it will more aggressively emphasize the speed of its HSPA+ network. Fitting of the change, T-Mobile's spokesperson will now appear clad in black leather jumpsuits (with magenta accents), as the carrier works to shed its meek image and maintain consumer interest in the wake of LTE expansion from the larger networks. [AllThingsD]

BBM Music, BlackBerry Messenger and Travel receive updates

The latest version of BBM Music has officially made its way out of the Beta Zone and is now available for all. It adds a new social feature with the option to review tracks in common with an individual before accepting a friend request, the ability to favorite particular songs and an intelligent shuffle mode. The updated version of BlackBerry Messenger comes with new animated avatars, a new method to send voice notes and improved contact search. Likewise, the latest version of BlackBerry Travel now features integration with Messenger, which allows you to easily share plans with your BBM contacts. [CrackBerry 1, 2, 3]

Other random tidbits

  • AT&T expanded its LTE network to both Akron and Canton, Ohio, along with Lafayette, Indiana. [Android Central]
  • The Android version of Google Maps received an update to resolve what the developer calls a "critical bug." [Android Central]
  • Cricket has announced that, beginning tomorrow, you'll find its products and wireless service available for purchase at 1,600 Target stores across the US. [Phone Scoop]
  • The CyanogenMod team brought its new build servers online this week. Made possible by contributions from the community, the systems will help manage the burden of an increasing number of nightly releases, and are said to compile a full CM9 ROM in just nine minutes. [RootzWiki]
  • The iPhone 4S officially arrived at five new regional carriers this week; Alaska Wireless, Appalachian Wireless, Cellcom, GCI and MTA Solutions each now provide Apple's latest to their subscribers. [9to5Mac]
  • Wikipedia released its first version of the online encyclopedia for the BlackBerry PlayBook. [CrackBerry]

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Mobile Miscellany: week of April 16th, 2012