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printed November 24, 2014
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T-Mobile Improves International Calling Plans

Nov 19, 2014, 9:39 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today made it less expensive for customers to make calls from the U.S. to select countries abroad. T-Mobile's Stateside International Talk plan allows Simple Choice subscribers to make unlimited calls to landlines in 70 countries for $5 per account (not per line). Alternately, $10 per month buys unlimited calling to mobile phones in more than 30 countries and 1,000 minutes to mobile phones in Mexico, which is in addition to the unlimited landline calling. The promotional pricing is available starting today and runs through the end of the year.


BlackBerry Classic Now Available for Preorder

Nov 13, 2014, 2:28 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

BlackBerry today made the BlackBerry Classic handset available for preorder in the U.S. The Classic runs BlackBerry 10 and is a traditional bar-style phone with a square touch screen and physical QWERTY keyboard below it. It brings back the classic BlackBerry buttons, which means send/end buttons, a back button, menu button, and optical trackpad. The device supports both BB10 and Android apps. BlackBerry didn't say how much the phone will cost, nor when it will ship. BlackBerry also didn't say which carriers will support the Classic.


BlackBerry, Samsung Announce Security Tie-Up

Nov 13, 2014, 12:47 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

BlackBerry and Samsung today agreed to sell one another's security software. The joint effort is meant to help Samsung sell more phones and to help BlackBerry win more BES customers. Samsung's Knox security platform is embedded on many of its devices. It can be used to separate work and personal information, as well as secure that data on the device. BlackBerry's BES services allows businesses to remotely manage Android, BlackBerry, iOS, and Windows Phone smartphones. The companies think this partnership will appeal to businesses that want to use Samsung handsets for the Knox platform, but manage them via BES. BlackBerry's enterprise chief John Sims said the deal "isn't about one company displacing the other. This is about one and one makes three." BlackBerry's presence in the smartphone market has been reduced to practically nil in the face of stiff competition from Apple, Samsung, and others, while Samsung has long been making overtures to potential business customers.


OmniVision Outs Two High-End Camera Sensors

Nov 3, 2014, 2:42 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

OmniVision today announced two new camera modules for high-end smartphones. The OV23850 and OV21840 PureCel-S are capable of capturing images as large as 23.8 and 21.4 megapixels, respectively. Both sensors use OmniVision's staked die technology. According to OmniVision, this separates the imaging array from the sensor so OEMs can place other sensors and functionalities in between, such as phase-detection autofocus. The company says its two-dimensional autofocus is four times faster than traditional contrast-based AF. Both sensors can capture quad HD video at 30 frames per second, 1080p HD video at 90 frames per second, and 720p HD video at 120 frames per second for clean slow-motion results. They also support always-on HDR video capture for balanced exposures. The OV23850 and OV21840 are already sampling and are expected to reach production during the first quarter of 2015.


BlackBerry Releases BBM 2.5 for Smartphones

Oct 31, 2014, 9:54 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

BlackBerry today said BBM 2.5 is now available for Android, BlackBerry, and iOS devices. The company first revealed details of the updated messaging service earlier this month. Some of the new features include Timed Messages, which allow users to choose how long a message is visible to the recipient. Another feature, called Message Retraction, allows BBM users to delete messages they've sent from the phones of others. According to BlackBerry, this feature works with text messages only and not those that include pictures. Other updates include a streamlined sticker experience, high-def picture transfer, and music discovery through friends' playlists. BBM 2.5 will be available from the Play Store, BlackBerry World, and iTunes App Store later today.


BlackBerry Adds a Little SnapChat to BBM

Oct 17, 2014, 3:48 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

BlackBerry today announced several forthcoming features for BBM that take a page from ephemeral messaging app SnapChat. The first new feature is called Time Messages. With Timed Messages, users can select how long a message is visible to the recipient (between 1 second and 15 seconds). The message can also be set to disappear once the recipient takes their finger off the message. According to BlackBerry, it can't prevent screenshots of Timed Messages, but it will alert the sender if one was taken before the message expires. The second feature is called Message Retraction and it allows BBM users to delete messages they've sent from the phones of others. According to BlackBerry, this feature works with text messages only and not those that include pictures. Further, only messages in one-on-one chats can be retracted. Messages cannot be retracted from Group conversations, nor can messages be retracted if they've been forwarded to other phones. According to BlackBerry, these features are being tested in a limited BBM beta for Android and BlackBerry. Timer and Retract will be available in the 2.5 release of BBM for iPhone, Android, and BlackBerry 10 in the near future.


Hands-On: BlackBerry Passport

Sep 29, 2014, 6:38 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

BlackBerry says "We're back!" with the Passport, a smartphone that breaks new ground in some respects. Here are our first thoughts.

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BlackBerry Shows Off the Passport for Mobile Pros

Sep 24, 2014, 9:04 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

BlackBerry today fully revealed the Passport, its first smartphone to debut since February. The Passport has a unique shape, providing a large, square screen with a full, physical QWERTY keyboard below. The phone has a steel frame that BlackBerry claims lends it great strength. The screen measures 4.5 inches across the diagonal and has 1,440 x 1,440 pixels. BlackBerry says the square aspect ratio helps fit more content across the screen when compared to 16:9 displays. The company took special care to develop the keyboard, which it claims is faster and more reliable than software keyboards. The keyboard is touch-enabled and lets users brush their fingers over the keys to scroll through information on the screen. Users can also flick up on the keyboard to use next-word suggestions, and swipe from right to left on the keyboard to delete the full last word. Under the hood, the Passport has a 2.2GHz Snapdragon processor with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of internal storage. It supports microSD memory cards and has a 3,450mAh battery. The phone comes with a 13-megapixel camera with optical image stabilization. The device runs BlackBerry OS 10.3 with support the Amazon App Store for applications. Alongside the Passport, BlackBerry also introduced BlackBerry Assistant, a voice-activated tool similar to Siri, Google Now, and Cortana that can perform select actions on the Passport. BlackBerry claims Assistant is more powerful than rivals because it can access information behind corporate firewalls. BlackBerry is selling the Passport directly to U.S. consumers from its web site. The phone costs $599 and is being sold without a contract. It is compatible with HSPA/LTE networks, such as those operated by AT&T and T-Mobile.


BlackBerry Passport Goes On Sale Weds. for $599

Sep 22, 2014, 9:19 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

BlackBerry CEO John S. Chen today said it will begin to sell the Passport smartphone on Wednesday. BlackBerry has provided few details about the device so far. It features a square shape that includes both a 4.5-inch touchscreen and a physical QWERTY keyboard. It also features a large antenna to aid reception and boasts 36 hours of continuous use. The phone, the first BlackBerry has released in a year, will run BlackBerry OS 10.3. It will be available in Toronto, London, and Dubai on Wednesday, and "a lot of places will have it" within two weeks. Chen didn't specify when it will go on sale in the U.S., but it will be sold directly to consumers, unsubsidized for $599.


BlackBerry Acquires Movirtu

Sep 11, 2014, 10:52 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

BlackBerry today revealed it has acquired a British firm called Movirtu. Movirtu develops virtual SIM card solutions that allow multiple phone numbers to be used on a single device. BlackBerry said the acquisition will help it separate work and personal use on its smartphones for split billing. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. During the course of the last year, BlackBerry has focused on beefing up its enterprise services rather than sales of BlackBerry smartphones.


Cricket Doubles Data Buckets

Sep 10, 2014, 8:55 AM   by Rich Brome

Cricket today announced a promotion that offers up to double the amount of high-speed data for the same price as before. Starting September 13th, the $35/month (using Auto Pay) "Basic Plan" will offer 1 GB of high-speed data instead of the previous 500 MB. The $45 Smart Plan will offer 3 GB, up from 2.5 GB, and the $55 Pro Plan includes 10 GB instead of 5 GB. (Plans cost an extra $5/month without Auto Pay.) Existing customers on these plans will automatically be upgraded to the larger data allotments. Once a customer uses up the high-speed data allotment, data is throttled to 128 Kbps. The offer is for a limited time, but customers taking advantage will be able keep the larger data allotment after the offer expires.


BBM for BlackBerry Updated with Easier Photo Sharing

Sep 5, 2014, 5:30 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

BlackBerry has pushed out a minor update to BBM for its own smartphones. The update streamlines the process for attaching photos, files, or other content to BBM chats. The app also provides more notifications, and users can rate BBM Voice calls. The update is free.


Huawei: No Tizen and No More Windows Phone for Us

Aug 25, 2014, 11:28 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Huawei recently said it has no plans to release a Tizen-based smartphone, and also said it will no longer make smartphones using Microsoft's Windows Phone operating system. "Some telecom carriers are pushing us to design Tizen phones but I say 'no' to them. In the past we had a team to do research on Tizen but I canceled it," said Richard Yu, CEO of Huawei's consumer business group, to The Wall Street Journal. "We feel Tizen has no chance to be successful. Even for Windows Phone it's difficult to be successful." Tizen is a Linux-based platform created by Samsung and Intel. Samsung, Tizen's primary backer, has delayed plans to realize a Tizen phone indefinitely as it builds up the app ecosystem. Huawei remains a member of the Tizen Association, but its new stance on the platform further clouds Tizen's potential. As for Windows Phone, Huawei complained of losing money on the platform for two years. "We have tried using the Windows Phone OS. But it has been difficult to persuade consumers to buy a Windows phone," said Yu. "It wasn't profitable for us. So for now we've decided to put any releases of new Windows phones on hold. We have worries about Android being the only option, but we have no choice. And we have a good collaboration with Google." Google's Android platform holds about 85% of the global smartphone market, with Apple's iOS holding 11% and Windows Phone holding 2.5%. BlackBerry's share of the market is less than 1%.


HTC One Trades Android for Windows Phone

Aug 19, 2014, 9:26 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Aug 19, 2014, 9:32 AM

HTC today announced the One for Windows Phone, a variant of the One (M8) that swaps Google's mobile platform for Microsoft's. The One for Windows Phone runs the latest operating system from Microsoft and carries over a few HTC apps, such as Blinkfeed, the HTC duo-camera, SenseTV, Video Highlights, and BoomSound. The One for Windows Phone adopts some of the M8's motion gestures, such as double-tap to wake, but also loses a few. Apart from the operating system, the hardware is identical to the One (M8) with Android. It has the same 5-inch 1080p HD screen, quad-core Snapdragon 801 processor, Ultra-pixel main camera and 5-megapixel selfie camera, and premium aluminum design. The HTC One for Windows Phone is exclusive to Verizon Wireless. It is available online from VerizonWireless.com beginning today and reaches Verizon stores August 20 for $99 with a new contract or $30 with Verizon Edge.

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Sprint Doubles Down on Data with Family Share Pack

Aug 18, 2014, 6:17 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint today announced new shared data plans that offer twice as much mobile data as comparable plans from AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless. Sprint's Family Share Pack includes four lines with unlimited talk and text and 20GB of shared data for $160 per month. AT&T and Verizon have similarly-priced plans that include only 10GB of data. T-Mobile's shared plan costs $100 per month. Further, Sprint is offering a huge incentive to families that port their numbers from another carrier. Sprint will give families with up to 10 lines unlimited talk/text and 20GB of shared data for only $100 per month through 2015, plus an additional 2GB per line. Under this promotion, a family of four would have up to 28GB of data per month and a family of 10 would have up to 40GB of data per month. The promotional $100 plan pricing will be available from August 22 to September 30. Last, Sprint is offering to cover the ETFs - up to $350 per line - for families that break their contract to sign up with Sprint Family Share Pack. All new devices must be purchased through Sprint Easy Pay. Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure said the company will debut new plans for individuals later this week.


BBM for Windows Phone Leaves Beta

Aug 15, 2014, 12:52 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

BlackBerry today updated BBM for the Windows Phone platform to version 1.01. The app has officially graduated from beta status. The update, though minor, squashes a number of bugs in the app, as well as boosts performance, such as start-up time. BBM for Windows Phone is free.


Best Buy Scores Electric Blue Galaxy S5

Aug 5, 2014, 12:45 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Aug 5, 2014, 12:48 PM

Best Buy today announced the August 17 availability of an electric blue Samsung Galaxy S5, a color exclusive to the big box retailer. The blue GS5 will be available to AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon Wireless customers for $99 with a new two-year contract, which represents a savings of $100 off the normal contract price. Customers who'd rather use one of the carriers' monthly installment plans will be able to pick up the blue GS5 for $0 down and still receive a $100 Best Buy gift card. The promotional price will be available until August 23.


BBM Beta for Windows Phone Now Available

Jul 31, 2014, 8:11 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

BlackBerry and Microsoft today announced the immediate availability of BBM for the Windows Phone platform. BBM is being offered as a beta, but it includes many of the features available to the Android and iOS versions of the app. BBM for Windows Phone supports regular chats and group chats; makes it easy to find and connect with BBM contacts; includes BBM feeds for social networking; and offers a Live Tile that can be pinned to the Start screen. BlackBerry will add more features to the app over time. BBM Beta for Windows Phone 8 is free to download and available from the Windows Phone Store now.


BlackBerry to Buy Encryption Company

Jul 29, 2014, 8:29 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Jul 29, 2014, 8:33 AM

BlackBerry today indicated it has agreed to buy a small German company called Secusmart. Secusmart specializes in voice and data encryption. BlackBerry plans to use Secusmart's technology to further shore up its own enterprise and government offerings. Secusmart is already being used by government officials in Canada and Germany. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. BlackBerry has retreated from its consumer-chasing tactics and is focusing efforts on selling secure devices and mobile device management tools to businesses and governments.


Researchers Claim Lithium Battery Breakthrough

Jul 28, 2014, 7:45 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Scientists at Stanford University believe they have solved one of the major issues facing lithium battery technology. The researchers contend a pure lithium battery is best. "Of all the materials that one might use in an anode, lithium has the greatest potential. Some call it the Holy Grail," said Stanford Professor Yi Cui. "It is very lightweight and it has the highest energy density. You get more power per volume and weight, leading to lighter, smaller batteries with more power." The problem, however, is that lithium anodes form dendritic and mossy metal deposits that can cause batteries to crack, lose ions, and possibly ignite fires. In order to solve this problem, the researchers coated the lithium anode with a monolayer of interconnected amorphous hollow carbon nanospheres. The researchers say this helps isolate the lithium metal depositions and stabilizes the battery entirely. "The ideal protective layer for a lithium metal anode needs to be chemically stable to protect against the chemical reactions with the electrolyte and mechanically strong to withstand the expansion of the lithium during charge," said Cui. The solution could apply to lithium batteries used in smartphones, tablets, laptops, and even cars, vastly extending battery life.


BlackBerry Names New COO

Jul 21, 2014, 7:29 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

BlackBerry today said it has appointed Marty Beard to the post of Chief Operating Officer. Beard worked for LiveOps and Sybase before joining BlackBerry. Beard will be responsible for marketing, application development, and quality and customer care. The COO post had been vacant since Kristian Tear left last November. BlackBerry CEO John S. Chen also hails from Sybase.


Voice Assistant Coming in BlackBerry OS 10.3

Jul 16, 2014, 11:46 AM   by Rich Brome

BlackBerry today revealed that the upcoming BlackBerry OS 10.3 will include a voice-activated virtual assistant, much like Siri and Google Now. BlackBerry assistant, as the app is called, will be able to interact with email, calendar, messaging, timers, and the web. In addition to voice, it also accepts input via the keyboard. Tasks it enables by voice include sending meeting invitations, searching email, setting reminders, searching the web, launching apps, changing ringer profiles, and sending messages. The Assistant learns, improving over time.


MediaTek Takes on Snapdragon 810 with New 64-bit Chip

Jul 15, 2014, 7:00 AM   by Rich Brome   updated Jul 15, 2014, 10:13 AM

MediaTek today took the wraps off its newest flagship processor chip for high-end phones. The MT6795 is a SoC (system on chip) combining an LTE radio with a 64-bit, 8-core processor at speeds up to 2.2 GHz. It supports displays up to 1600 x 2560. It also supports display refresh rate of 120 Hz for extra-smooth motion, and slow-motion video capture at 480 fps in full HD. The company has had little traction with phones bound for U.S. shores in recent years. According to Mohit Bhushan, Head of U.S. Business Development, the company is working to change that by having its processors certified directly by U.S. network operators. The MT6795 is currently undergoing that certification, and the company plans to have the chip in a device shipping in the U.S. next year. The chip competes with Qualcomm's Snapdragon 810.

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BBM Arrives as Beta for Windows Phone

Jul 10, 2014, 3:39 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

BlackBerry today followed up on its promise from earlier this year and released a beta version of BlackBerry Messenger for the Windows Phone platform. The app covers the BBM basics, which means it can be used to chat with individuals or groups, as well as share pictures, voice notes, contacts, and location. The app also supports group chats, in which users can discuss shared calendars, files, and photos. BlackBerry said the beta is limited for now ahead of a wider release. The company will work to add features, including stickers, BBM Voice, BBM Channels, and Glympse in future releases. BBM is already available for Android, iOS, and BlackBerry devices.


Cricket Offering Lumia 630 for Free and Other Deals

Jul 10, 2014, 10:48 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Cricket Wireless, which is owned by AT&T, today announced the availability of the Nokia Lumia 630 smartphone. The 630, which is a variant of the Lumia 635 (being sold by T-Mobile and MetroPCS), will reach Cricket stores on July 11. Cricket is offering the Lumia 630 for free with a $50 mail-in rebate card. The device is an entry-level Windows Phone with a 4.5-inch screen and 5-megapixel camera. Cricket is also offering discounts ranging from $20 to $50 on a wide selection of handsets, including the ZTE Sonata 4G, Prelude, and Overture 4G; the Moto G; the Nokia 520 and 1320; and the Samsung Galaxy Express 4G. Cricket is the new brand name being used by AT&T's former Aio Wireless unit. AT&T is transitioning Cricket's CDMA customers to its GSM network so it can eventually repurpose Cricket's spectrum. All the devices covered by Cricket's new promotion operate on AT&T's GSM network.


T-Mobile Allowing Customers to Pair iPhone with Prepaid Plans

Jun 26, 2014, 2:21 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Jun 30, 2014, 4:28 PM

T-Mobile today announced customers can now purchase an Apple iPhone at Apple retail stores and use it with T-Mobile's prepaid, no-contract plans. T-Mobile is offering iPhone buyers a $50 discount off the price of the phone when paired with a prepaid plan. Customers who buy an iPhone and use it with T-Mobile's Simple Choice plans will receive a $50 iTunes gift card. T-Mobile also announced today it is selling the iPhone 5s, iPad Air, and iPad Mini with Retina Display (with T-Mobile LTE) at Costco locations around the U.S. T-Mobile says Costco is offering the devices at "competitive out-of-pocket prices." Today's announcements come on the heels of T-Mobile's free, week-long iPhone trial, which was revealed at its UNCarrier announcement in Seattle. All three promotions are meant to help T-Mobile sell more iPhones.


BlackBerry Passport Lauching in Septembber

Jun 19, 2014, 9:02 AM   by Rich Brome

BlackBerry CEO John Chen today announced that the company's next phone will be called the Passport, and will launch at an event in London in September. Chen did not confirm any further details, although rumors suggest it may be an unusually wide device with a square screen and physical keyboard.


BlackBerry Taps Amazon for Smartphone Apps

Jun 18, 2014, 10:16 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

BlackBerry today said it signed an agreement with Amazon in order to offer more apps to owners of its BlackBerry 10 smartphones. The deal will add Amazon's Appstore to BlackBerry handsets running BBOS 10.3. BlackBerry claims the agreement will give BlackBerry owners access to an additional 200,000 applications. Further, BlackBerry said it will close the music and video content stores of BlackBerry World. BlackBerry owners will still be able to access and use any content they've already purchased from these stores, but the BlackBerry World music and video stores will no longer be available beginning July 21. The BlackBerry World store, as well as the Amazon Appstore, will continue to offer third-party music/video apps and services. BlackBerry is expected to released BBOS 10.3 in September.


BlackBerry Debuts BBM Protected for Business Users

Jun 16, 2014, 8:19 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

BlackBerry today announced the availability of BBM Protected, a more secure version of its instant messaging platform. BBM Protected differs from traditional BBM in that in creates a unique encryption key for each conversation, requiring a passphrase from participants. It offers end-to-end encryption in order to create the most secure IM conversations possible. BBM Protected is the first product in BlackBerry's new eBBM Suite, which targets businesses rather than consumers. BBM Protected is available to BlackBerry's business customers starting today.


Europe and Korea Look to Define 5G

Jun 16, 2014, 7:32 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Jun 16, 2014, 8:00 AM

The European Commission and South Korea today announced plans to together define the future 5G wireless standard, as well as develop the technologies to support it. The two bodies signed a Joint Declaration on Strategic Cooperation in Information Communications Technology (ICT) and 5G to increase the discussions and research around the topic. A wide number of companies will participate, including Alcatel-Lucent, Deutsche Telekom, Ericsson, Nokia, Orange, Telecom Italia, Telenor, and Telefonica from Europe, as well as Samsung, LG, SK Telecom, and others in Korea. One of the key ideas behind 5G is not to just increase speeds, but to significantly boost capacity. Capacity improvements will help the 5G networks of the future handle all the potential devices connecting to them, such as phones, tablets, wearables, vehicles, and the broader Internet of Things. The collaboration has three main goals: First, to develop a broad definition of the key functionalities of 5G and create a time table for its creation by the end of 2015; Second, to kick off joint research in the pursuit of 5G by 2016 in coordination with 3GPP and ITU: and Third, to agree on global radio frequency bands for 5G in order to promote interoperability and roaming between carriers and countries. "5G will become the new lifeblood of the digital economy and digital society once it is established. Both Europe and Korea recognize this," said Neelie Kroes, Vice-President of the European Commission for the Digital Agenda. "This is the first time ever that public authorities have joined together in this way, with the support of private industry, to push forward the process of standardization. Today's declaration signals the our commitment to being global digital leaders." LTE, which is what most 4G networks use, has some room for growth in terms of speeds, but capacity is limited and the potential for global roaming is limited due to the wide number of spectrum bands used by carriers around the world. It is these and other issues that the EU and S. Korea hope to resolve in their pursuit of 5G.


BBM 2.2 Headed to Android and iOS

May 30, 2014, 7:22 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

BlackBerry recently said BlackBerry Messenger version 2.2 is coming to the Android and iOS platforms. BBM 2.2 doesn't add any major new features, but it does streamline the app's behavior and functionality. For example, BBM 2.2 requires less work when creating new accounts and simplifies the friending process. BBM 2.2 also adds more than a dozen new emoticons. BBM 2.2 should be available for Android devices as of today. It will reach iOS devices in the days ahead.


Google Optimizes Play Store Web Site for Mobile Devices

May 27, 2014, 7:19 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google recently published a mobile-friendly version of the Play Store web site. Now that it is optimized for devices with small screens, Android, iOS, BlackBerry, and Windows Phone users alike can surf the Play Store. The site lets visitors not only purchase apps - which can be pushed to Android devices for installation - but also allows visitors to purchase hardware and manage their devices. The stand-alone Play Store application doesn't allow for hardware purchases and device management. The Google Play Store is free to visit.


Truphone to Sell Apple iPhone 5s/5c May 30

May 23, 2014, 7:13 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Truphone announced that it will sell the Apple iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c beginning May 30. Truphone traditionally relies on a bring-your-own-device model and only sells SIM cards and mobile applications. The iPhones will be among the first handsets the company has sold directly. Truphone didn't say how much it will charge for the iPhone 5s/5c, but they will likely be the unlocked versions of the handsets in order to be compatible with as many different networks as possible. Truphone offers worldwide coverage thanks to roaming agreements with carriers around the globe. People can purchase a Truphone SIM card and rate plan and enjoy local calling, messaging, and data rates in dozens of countries. Earlier this week, Truphone expanded its reach to 66 countries. Travelers will enjoy the best rates in the Truphone Zone, which are eight core countries (U.S., U.K., Australia, Hong Kong, Netherlands, Germany, Poland, and Spain). Customers can choose up to eight international phone numbers that are active on the same SIM card in order to take advantage of the best rates possible. Truphone also offers apps for Android, BlackBerry, and iOS devices that provide free international calling via Wi-Fi, 3G, and 4G.


Facebook to Start Listening to Your TV and Radio

May 21, 2014, 11:46 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Facebook is prepared to update the Android and iOS versions of its mobile application so users can tag TV shows or songs in their posts. The revised apps will include a tool that turns on the phone's microphone, which will then listen to the program or tune that's playing in the vicinity of the user (similar to Shazam). Facebook said the app should be able to recognize most TV shows within 15 seconds. Users can than choose to share that TV show or song as part of their status update. Facebook spent a year engineering the function and has signed deals with 160 TV stations, as well as Spotify and Rdio, to help. The tool will even allow people to listen to a preview of songs tagged in posts. The updated mobile apps should be available in the Google Play Store and iTunes App Store later today. Facebook didn't say if the feature will find its way to the BlackBerry or Windows Phone platforms.


FCC Busts California Company for Importing Illegal Phones

May 20, 2014, 8:40 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

The Federal Communications Commission today cited a company based in California, called Panasystem, for importing and marketing counterfeit smartphones. The devices, which were fake Samsung Galaxy S Duos, Samsung Galaxy Ace, and BlackBerry 9790 smartphones, were all stamped with unauthorized and invalid FCC identifiers. Each and every device that emits radio signals must be tested and certified by the FCC before they can be legally sold in the U.S. This is so the FCC can ascertain their safety for public use. Devices that meet the criteria have a unique identifier code that is often plainly visible on the device somewhere. Most cell phones stamp the FCC ID under the battery. Devices that have enclosed batteries put the FCC ID out the outside casing, typically on the back. "We will not tolerate the importation and marketing of counterfeit devices," said Travis LeBlanc, Acting Chief of the Enforcement Bureau. "The trafficking of these devices not only robs the intellectual property of legitimate manufacturers, it harms consumers by failing to provide them with safe and certified smartphones that comply with the FCC's equipment authorization process." The FCC said Panasystem must cease importing fake phones with fake FCC IDs, lest it face significant fines, equipment seizures, criminal sanctions and/or imprisonment.


BlackBerry Debuts SDK for BlackBerry OS 10.3

May 14, 2014, 9:37 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

BlackBerry today made an SDK available to developers for its unreleased BlackBerry 10.3 operating system. The SDK provides developers with the tools they need to create apps that will function properly in the forthcoming OS update. BlackBerry didn't share too many details about the new SDK, but said it offers styling guidelines and user interface changes for apps. BlackBerry also teased some new hardware. It explained to developers that the SDK provides support for its traditional BBOS screens of 720 x 720 pixels (square) and 1280 x 720 pixels (16:9). The company added a new screen size and resolution that will measure 4.5 inches across the diagonal and include 1440 x 1440 pixels. This device will have a large, high-resolution square screen and a keyboard, much like the Q30 does. BlackBerry said more details about the phone will be made public later this year. In the meantime, developers can download the SDK for BlackBerry OS 10.3 and get to work on apps.


BlackBerry to Allow Rivals to Manage BB10 Devices

May 13, 2014, 11:44 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

BlackBerry today announced that it has agreed to allow several other, large mobile device management companies to support its BlackBerry smartphones. Until today, BlackBerry has only allowed its devices to be managed by its own Blackberry Enterprise Services product. BES 10 is a server-based tool licensed by large companies. According to BlackBerry, several companies, including AirWatch, Citrix, and IBM, have expressed interest in managing BlackBerry devices in addition to those running Android, iOS, and Windows Phone. Large corporations usually make use of such tools to run fleets of business-owned mobile devices. The change in strategy from BlackBerry marks a shift in its business model and its response to customer feedback. Companies may still use BES to manage Android and iOS devices.


Samsung Makes Knox 2.0 Available to Galaxy S5

May 7, 2014, 7:13 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung today announced that its second-generation business security suite is now available to the Galaxy S5. One of the core features of the improved software is support for split billing. Knox 2.0 can determine the amount of monthly data used by personal apps and the data used by business apps and split the bill so businesses only have to pay for the portion generated by actual work. Knox 2.0 also improves compatibility with other applications so they can be secured or sandboxed. The suite has a new series of cloud-based services, as well, such as a dedicated store for enterprise applications, and tools for IT to manage and control employee devices. Knox 2.0 is only available to the GS5, but Samsung said it will become available to more Galaxy devices in the months ahead. Samsung created Knox to help generate more appeal for its devices within businesses. It competes with BlackBerry's BES product.


BlackBerry Says Sale of Real Estate Nets $278M

May 5, 2014, 7:48 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

BlackBerry today announced it has come to an agreement with Spear Street Capital, LLC to sell the bulk of its real estate holdings for about $278 million. BlackBerry announced its intent to sell its office space and surrounding properties in Waterloo, Canada, in January. According to BlackBerry, it will close on sales covering 80% of its properties by the end of this month, with the remaining 20% of properties scheduled to close during the third quarter. BlackBerry is selling more than 3 million square feet of office space - some of which it will lease back - as well as vacant lands. BlackBerry CEO John S. Chen has been on an aggressive push to reduce expenses while also finding a way forward for the ailing smartphone maker.


BlackBerry Version of Twitter Gains Photo DMs

May 1, 2014, 11:27 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

BlackBerry today published Twitter for BlackBerry version 10.3. The updated app adds a handful of new tools, including the ability to compose and save draft tweets that can be sent later. Twitter adds the ability to swipe between the Timeline, Activity, and Discover tabs, which puts the app inline with features found in the Android and iOS versions. The app has been given new photo powers and can now send pictures via Direct Message, turn photos on or off in the timeline, and retake a picture before sending if the first attempt doesn't turn out. Last, Twitter for BlackBerry adds age gating, which lets people verify their age for accounts that require it. Twitter 10.3 for BlackBerry is free to download from the BlackBerry World Store.


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