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AT&T Sees Cameras, GPS In Its Plans

Dallas – Cameras and GPS were the focus of twin wireless announcements by AT&T, which will become the first U.S. carrier to offer the first smartphone with 10x optical zoom.

The carrier also announced plans for a second GPS device that tracks kids’ whereabouts.

The smartphone is the 4G LTE Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom, which Samsung unveiled in June and positioned as offering the picture quality of high-end compact digital cameras, thanks to the 10x optical zoom capability as well as to a 16-megapixel BSI CMOS sensor, optical image stabilizer, Xenon flash, 24-240mm zoom capability, f3.1-F6.3 aperture, and 4fps continuous shot with autofocus. The phone also offers a spin-to-focus manual control ring.

The Zoom will be available Nov. 8 at $199 with two-year contract or for $25/month for 24 months on AT&T’s Next no-contract trade-up program.

Zoom purchasers will be able to save picture and videos taken by the smartphone to 50GB of free AT&T Locker cloud storage, which also stores music and documents.

The Zoom features 4.3-inch Super AMOLED display, dedicated shutter button, main camera with 1080p 30fps video capture or 720p 60fps capture, 1.9-megapixel front-facing camera, and smart modes, which let users choose one of 25 pre-set camera modes, such as sunset, best face, drama, and panorama. Smart Mode Suggest assesses a scene to provide a list of the best camera settings based on light levels, focal length, or use of face detection.

Like other Galaxy phones, the Zoom features WatchON local-TV listings and IR remote control, S Beam to transfer large files between phones via NFC tap and Wi-Fi Direct, and Samsung Hub, a portal for downloading music, videos, books and games.

In announcing plans for its second kid-tracking GPS device, AT&T said it will offer Amber Alert GPS at an unspecified date. AT&T will be the exclusive network provider for the Amber Alert GPS device and will also provide distribution and billing services. The 3G device weighs 1.5 ounces and features GPS, two-way voice calling, and ability to be tracked by Android and iOS smartphones apps and computers.

The device has been available from Salt Lake City-based Amber Alert GPS at direct to consumers at $199 with two service plans priced at $14.99/month to $24.99/month. It operates on the AT&T network.

Features include speed alerts to notify parents when their child is in a vehicle exceeding a predetermined speed. A breadcrumbing feature automatically sends alerts of a child’s location based on a preset schedule. Zone Alert lets parents create zones around their home, neighborhood, school, or playground and receive an email alert whenever their child enters or exits a Zone. An SOS button lets kids alert parents if they need help.

In October, AT&T announced a deal with London-based Filip Technologies to provide billing and distribution services for that company’s combination cellphone watch and GPS locator for kids. Details on pricing and service plans haven’t been revealed, but plans called for the device to be available in time for the holidays through Filip’s web site and Distribution will expand early next year to select AT&T-owned stores, a spokesperson said at the time.

Separately, AT&T said that on Nov. 8, it will expand its Digital Life security and home control service to six more markets, bringing availability to a total of 58 markets. The service and products launched in 15 markets in April.

Customers can select from a basic home security package to total home automation, with control from PCs and smartphones, and tablets on site and from remote locations.