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Feb 28, 2014

Sony Xperia Z2 Media Apps and Live Wallpapers Now Available Online

One of the high-end smartphones that users out there will be able to purchase in the coming months is the Sony Xperia Z2, which went official on Monday at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain.

The mobile phone arrives on the market with a 5.2-inch 1920 x 1080 pixels screen, complemented by a 2.3GHz quad-core Snapdragon MSM8974AB processor, and with a 20.7-megapixel camera on the back. At the same time, the handset was announced with the Android 4.4.2 KitKat operating system loaded on top, as well as with various customizations coming from Sony Mobile themselves, including updated applications. Among these, we can count the Sony Album app, Movies, Walkman, and Video Unlimited, all of which have been extracted from the device and are now available for download for interested users. According to XperiaGuide, the Album app is available as version 5.4.A.0.22, Movies as 6.1.A.0.16 / 6.1.A.0.4, Walkman at 8.1.A.0.6, and Video Unlimited as version 10.0.A.0.3. Compared to the applications that have been included in the latest Android 4.3 Jelly Bean release from Sony, only the Movies and Video Unlimited applications appear to have received major updates in KitKat.

We assume that the updated software will be delivered to users as part of the Android 4.4.2 updates that will arrive on the latest Xperia devices out there as well, though some will certainly want to get a taste of them before that happens. One thing that should be noted here is that users might need to root their smartphones in order to install the leaked applications. In addition to these apps, the Xperia Z2 Live wallpaper was also brought to the web, so as to enable users to further personalize their devices with it. The live wallpaper is said to be compatible with devices running under Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean and higher, though it will also require root in order to be installed, it seems. It comes with 6 color moving transitions, as can be seen in the screenshots below.

On top of that, you can also download the official Xperia Z2 lock screen wallpapers, also extracted from the Android 4.4.2 build destined for this device (from a final unit, not a prototype, it seems). They feature a resolution of 1080 x 1920 pixels, which is lower than the resolution of home screen wallpapers for the device (2160 x 1920 pixels). Owners of handsets in the Xperia Z family should have no issues when it comes to downloading and installing these wallpapers.

Sony Xperia Z2 live wallpapers
Image credits to XperiaGuide

BlackBerry Says BBM May Arrive on Asha Smartphones

BlackBerry has recently announced that its most treasured mass market service BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) will be available on Windows Phone devices. Moreover, the Canadian company has confirmed that BBM will also come on Nokia X smartphones, which will soon be available on the market.

In fact, Nokia X can already be purchased in select markets, while the other two handsets in the series, Nokia X+ and Nokia XL will go on sale in early Q2. You may be wondering why BlackBerry announced that its BBM application would be available on Nokia X family, given the fact that these smartphones are powered by Android operating system. Well, it appears that some Android applications need some tweaking before they can be installed on Nokia X devices. This is probably the reason BlackBerry and Nokia have been working together to make BBM available on the X family as well. But what if BBM were available on Asha smartphones as well? The question has recently received a partial answer from David Proulx, BlackBerry’s senior director of BBM.

When asked by the folks over at Nokia Conversation whether BlackBerry would be willing to bring its instant messaging service on Asha phone, Prolux said: “We want BBM to be as broadly available as possible so in this context, I wouldn’t rule anything out, especially considering the great partnership we have forged with Nokia this week.” This is not a confirmation that BBM will arrive on Asha phones, but rather an acceptance of the idea that anything is possible in such a competitive market. For the moment, the chances that BBM will be available on Asha phones mostly depend on the partnership between Nokia and BlackBerry. As long as the companies continue to team up on various endeavors and benefit from each other’s work, we don’t see why BBM on Asha would not be a viable project.

The only thing that might stand in the way is Nokia’s recent acquisition by Microsoft, which will probably have some influence on the former’s partnership with BlackBerry. However, we’re not sure whether this would have a positive or negative influence on the Nokia / BlackBerry current partnership. Given the fact that BlackBerry has already some experience in working with Microsoft, since they are bringing BBM on Windows Phone, we believe that Nokia’s partnership with the Canadian company won’t end abruptly the moment the acquisition process is complete. Asha users should expect more surprises from Nokia and BBM might be one of them. Watch this space for more details on the matter.

BBM logo
Image credits to BlackBerry

David Proulx, BlackBerry’s senior director of BBM
Image credits to Nokia Conversations

Feb 27, 2014

Dual-SIM Nokia Lumia 630 Emerges Online with 4.5-Inch Screen

One of the smartphones that mobile phone maker Nokia is expected to make official later this year is the Nokia Lumia 630, which should arrive on shelves in a dual-SIM version as well, according to a recent report.

A leaked image that emerged online courtesy of baidu shows that the upcoming smartphone will be similar to the Nokia Lumia 630, featuring on-screen keys, along with the aforementioned support for two SIM cards. Moreover, the smartphone, supposedly running under the latest version of Windows Phone 8, is said to land on shelves with a 4.5-inch touchscreen display capable of delivering an 854 x 480 pixels resolution, and should measure 129.5 x 66.7 mm. The newly leaked image also shows two live tiles for calls, as well as two of them for messaging, which supposedly confirms the phone’s dual-SIM capabilities. According to MyNokiaBlog, the handset could be launched as Nokia Lumia 635, though an official confirmation on the matter has yet to be provided.

A previously leaked image with the mobile phone also shows that it could be launched with a design similar to that of Nokia Lumia 620, but it will clearly be larger, given that the already available Windows Phone smartphone sports only a 3.8-inch screen.

Leaked Nokia Lumia 630 image
Images credits to Baidu via MyNokiaBlog

HTC Preps Butterfly S Successor, Codenamed GLU2

Following the launch of new Desire smartphones at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, HTC Corporation might bring to the market a successor for the Butterfly S as well, to accompany the upcoming All New HTC One on shelves.

The smartphone has reportedly leaked only under the codename of GLU2, featuring support for CDMA2000 connectivity, and supposedly set to make an official appearance in Japan on the network of wireless carrier KDDI. What’s more interesting is the fact that this mobile phone is expected to land on shelves with about the same hardware specifications expected to be included inside the All New HTC One device, which was previously spotted online as HTC M8. Thus, users might be able to enjoy a 5.2-inch touchscreen display when buying the phone, capable of delivering a full HD resolution, at least this is what info coming from HTCSoku unveils. As gforgames notes, this will be a SHARP screen, most probably IGZO.

The upcoming Butterfly S successor is also said to be powered by a 2.3GHz quad-core Snapdragon 801 processor, paired with 2GB of RAM, which should provide users with appealing performance capabilities. The smartphone should be launched with 16GB or 32GB of internal memory, most probably paired with a microSD memory card slot that will allow for additional storage space to be included. One of the most interesting tidbits related to this smartphone is the fact that it is said to arrive on shelves with a 5MP UltraPixel dual-camera on the back, the same as the All New HTC One. Should this pan out, we’re wondering whether this HTC GLU2 handset won’t be, in fact, a custom version of the upcoming HTC One successor, specifically designed for KDDI. One thing that is certain, however, is the fact that the mysterious device will also sport a 5MP front camera for video calling.

A 3000 mAh battery is also said to be included inside the upcoming mobile phone, along with Android 4.4.x KitKat. Of course, HTC will also load its own Sense 6 UI on top of Google’s mobile operating system. All in all, it seems that HTC has some powerful, highly appealing smartphones in store for its users for this year, though it remains to be seen how much of the above mentioned details on this Butterfly S successor will pan out. Info on the device’s release date and pricing hasn’t been provided as of now, and we don’t expect for such info to emerge soon. Most probably, the phone will become official after the All New HTC One is formally announced.

HTC reportedly preps Butterfly S successor
Image credits to HTCSoku via GforGames

Nexus 6 in H2 2014, Galaxy S6 Still on Android, Sundar Pichai Says

The long series of Nexus smartphones will receive a new member before the end of this year, Google’s Sundar Pichai has reportedly confirmed during a press event at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain.

Five smartphones were launched as part of the Nexus family, and a new one is expected to become available this year, though not in the first half of the year, Sundar Pichai unveiled, Frandroid reports. Previously, Google and its partners launched Nexus phones in the Q4 timeframe (Galaxy Nexus, Nexus 4, and Nexus 5 were launched like this over the past three years), and Nexus 6 could have a similar fate, as BGR notes. Some of the previous reports on the matter suggested that the Nexus family of smartphones might be ended once Nexus 6 is released, yet no official confirmation on this has been provided as of now. However, there is a possibility that Google will continue the series without using the current numbering scheme (Nexus 7 does exist at the moment, but it is a tablet PC). However, keep in mind that this is only our supposition for the time being.

One other interesting thing that Sundar Pichai is said to have unveiled at MWC 2014 is the fact that the next flagship smartphone from Samsung, supposedly called Galaxy S6, will still be powered by Android. Some people expressed their concerns regarding the relationship between Google and Samsung, especially given the latter’s efforts to build its own mobile platform, the Tizen OS. According to Pichai, the two companies get along just fine and plan on continuing their collaboration in the future as well, despite the fact that Samsung has put Tizen on top of its latest smartwatch, the Gear 2. One thing that Pichai also stressed upon was the openness of Android, which has allowed for smartphones such as the new Nokia X, which is based on a forked flavor of the platform, without Google services on top, to be launched.

At the same time, he reportedly insisted that Android was meant to be open, not secure, responding to inquiries related to the increasing number of malware found on the platform lately. According to him, its popularity was expected to make it a magnet for malicious apps. On the other hand, we should note that Google did focus on improving the overall security of the Android platform over the past few years, and that it is expected to continue doing so in the future as well.

Sundar Pichai (Google)
Image credits to techwhack.co

The All New HTC One Leaks in Live Photos

Taiwanese mobile phone maker HTC Corporation was present on the floor at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, but it did not announce the smartphone that everybody was looking for, namely the All New HTC One.

However, the handset was spotted online in newly leaked live photos, confirming once again the change in design that HTC is planning for it, when compared to last year’s HTC One smartphone. Available courtesy of HardForum.com, the leaked images show the phone both from the front and from the back, offering yet another view of the device that will supposedly go official on March 25. As phandroid notes, the leaker also claims that the phone feels thinner and lighter than HTC One, and that it is very fast, despite the fact that it featured some bugs. However, they did not get the chance to play with the twin cameras on the back of the device. Apparently, HTC also teased the inclusion of BoomSound technology inside the All New HTC One, as the video embedded below unveils. However, the smartphone itself cannot be seen in the clip, though we already know what it looks like.

HTC seems to have upgraded the BoomSound on the upcoming smartphone, so as to deliver a better experience to users, but specifics on the matter haven’t been provided either. Hopefully, all will be brought to light on March 25, so stay tuned to learn more details on the upcoming flagship. Previously leaked online as the HTC M8, the mobile phone was said to be a bit larger when compared to HTC One, courtesy of a 5-inch or larger touchscreen display, most probably a full HD one. Moreover, the phone was rumored to land on shelves with a latest-generation Snapdragon 800 processor from Qualcomm, paired with at least 2GB of RAM (though the general consensus appears to be that 3GB of RAM will be included inside it). HTC was also said to plan on packing the handset with a fingerprint sensor, the same as it did with the HTC One max last year, as well as with the aforementioned twin UltraPixels cameras on the back, for better imaging capabilities.

The latest version of Android (4.4.2 KitKat) should also be loaded on top of the forthcoming handset, along with a new set of customization features from HTC, also known as the Sense 6 user interface. Unfortunately, no official confirmation on any of these has been provided until now.

Leaked All New HTC One image
Image credits to hardforum via phandroid

Google to Detail Project Ara Smartphone at Its April 15-16 Conference

Mountain View-based Internet giant Google has announced a new conference that will certainly stir the interest of mobile phone users out there, as it will bring to the spotlight the Project Ara handset.

The conference, set for April 15-16 in Mountain View, is meant to provide us with all the necessary info on the long-expected modular device. Project Ara is one of the smartphones that Motorola hasn't got the chance to unveil to the world until now, but it appears that we’ll be able to learn all about it in the not too distant future. At Ara Developers' Conference, Google is determined to showcase a smartphone that has been designed for all 6 billion potential mobile phone users out there, Project Ara’s official website unveils. As Google puts it, despite the fact that one billion people out there already have a smartphone, little is actually known on what such a device is capable of offering. Furthermore, the announcement posted on the aforementioned website stresses on the fact that 5 billion users don’t have such a device, and claims that there’s a way to ensure that each and every person on this planet could own a smartphone soon.

Unfortunately, no specific info on what Project Ara will have to offer has been provided as of now, and Google appears set to keep tight secrecy on the matter. Previous reports on this, however, did suggest that we’re looking at a device that will enable users to add a nice range of hardware customizations to the mix, in addition to the suite of software personalization options that are already available on today’s smartphones. As a modular device, it will allow people to easily replace various parts to modify capabilities, including memory, battery, processor, camera, and the like. The image embedded above speaks for itself, offering a better view of this idea.

Apparently, the basic Ara module will come with a very low price tag, at only around $50 (€36.6), but users will be able to add better components to it, thus also increasing its price, a recent article on Time reads. In addition to offering details on said device, Google will focus on the Ara Module Developers’ Kit (MDK), which will be released in an alpha version at the time of the conference, it seems. The MDK is expected to become available online sometime in early April, and it will arrive as a free and open platform specification and reference implementation, set to offer all the necessary info on what developers will need to start building an Ara module.

Project Ara
Image credits to Project Ara 

Project Ara
Image credits to Project Ara via Android Police

Feb 26, 2014

Boeing Black Is a Secret Phone for Government Agencies and Companies Related to Homeland Security

We all know that Boeing is making aircraft, but what would you say if you were able to purchase a Boeing-made mobile phone? This may actually happen sooner than we think, as the company has already confirmed plans to launch a mysterious Android smartphone.

The official statement was evasive and did not include too many details, just the fact that Boeing may launch a smartphone sometime in 2014. Well, it appears that Boeing’s statement was pretty accurate given the recent details leaked online. The folks over at Myce have just spotted the rumored Boeing smartphone at Federal Communications Commission (FCC), along with its schematics. The mysterious device tipped by Boeing last year is called Black and, for the time being, little is known about its specs due to security reasons. The Boeing Black is meant to offer extra protection during communication, but the device is meant to offer that protection to only a few and probably at a high price. Apparently, Boeing’s Black phone will be sold “primarily to government agencies and companies engaged in contractual activities with those agencies that are related to defense and homeland security.”

Boeing has also stated in the documents filed at FCC that all the technical information about the Black smartphone won’t be made public. However, some technical details may be provided at various trade fairs, but that will be limited and those who receive it will have to sign non-disclosure agreements. There’s more to it as Boeing is clearly stating that its upcoming Black smartphone “is also protected by the Boeing Black Purchase Agreement (Purchase Agreement).” The “purchase agreement” is meant to protect as “proprietary information” all the components, hardware, software, applications and functionalities of the Black smartphone provided by Boeing.

Even though the FCC documents don’t reveal too much about the specs for the reasons explained earlier, there are some mentions of dual-SIM support on the smartphone’s schematics that were filed as PDF documents. Boeing also states that its Black smartphone will be compatible with GSM, WCDMA and LTE networks and microSIM cards, which shouldn’t be surprising if the company wishes to cover as many markets as possible. For the time being, it’s unclear whether or not the Black smartphone will be limited to the United States or it will be “secretly” made available worldwide. We also don’t know when it’s set for release, but this information may be “classified” as well. Don’t look for more info on this one, as the Black phone isn’t meant for end users.

Boeing Black phone
Image credits to FCC

Feb 25, 2014

BlackBerry CEO Says He'd Sell BBM for $19 Billion

Now that Mark Zuckerberg shelled out $19 billion (€13.8 billion) for messaging app WhatsApp, BlackBerry’s CEO says he’d have accepted a similar offer too.

“I work for the shareholder. If somebody comes to me with $19 billion, I would definitely sell it. I would recommend to the board to take it,” said John Chen, BlackBery CEO, in an interview with CNBC. While he’s not adamant about selling BBM, it’s clear that Chen would agree to a similar offer if it came. He did add, however, that he did not look at BBM in this manner. “I know there's a lot of value in messaging businesses... I think the right thing to do is to expand that and market as big as possible and then I (will) worry about the valuation later,” he said. Last week, when everyone was talking about the Facebook acquisition of WhatsApp, trying to discover possible reasons for the transactions, the general agreement was that this was one of the few options for the social network. Snapchat refused to sell, while BBM was (presumably) not for sale. WhatsApp, seemed like the logical next step for Facebook.

The deal shocked the tech industry due to its nature and the fact that no one knew that Facebook was looking to acquire a messaging app, especially since it had already built its own. BBM is an extremely popular feature among BlackBerry users and one that has managed to keep the interest of fans in the company’s devices even during the lengthy crisis it went through. Hoping to bank on the success it had on its own platform, BlackBerry decided to release the messaging app to other platforms as well. Back in October, Android and iPhone versions were revealed, attracting millions of downloads in no time. Even so, when you compare BBM to WhatsApp, BlackBerry’s tool is not even close when it comes to popularity. While WhatsApp has some 465 million users, BBM only has about 85 million monthly users.

Also, given the size of the offer that WhatsApp accepted from Facebook, it’s no surprise that Chen would be willing to sell the messaging app for this price. After all, BlackBerry’s current market cap is a lot smaller than that, namely some $5.5 billion (€4 billion). Another thing that should be highlighted in his statement is that Chen seems to care most about the shareholders; a steep difference between WhatsApp’s desire to protect users and BlackBerry’s hunger for cash. It is understandable, however, given the difficult years that BlackBerry has had, that the company’ leaders would be willing to sell one of the most prized possessions for a hefty price that would bring BlackBerry back on track.

BBM logo
Image credits to BlackBerry

iOS 7.0.6 Bricks iPhones, but There’s a Fix

Following the release of iOS 7.0.6 for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch last week, a growing forum thread on Apple Support Communities started to reveal an anomaly: the firmware update bricked users’ devices.

iPhone 5s users in particular seem to be the most affected by the so-called bricking issue, but it seems there’s an easy fix. Simply resetting the device by holding down the Home and Power buttons for 10 seconds seems to do the trick. Apparently, some handsets will fail to reboot after installing the new firmware, leaving users with a device that won’t power on anymore. However, with the device in “bricked” state, users can simply perform the hard reset and get the thing working again. One customer in particular claims that, because of the update, he is now forced to visit his local Apple retail store and ask for a replacement. It isn’t clear if this user actually knows of the hard-reset fix, as he doesn’t mention trying this method.

“Same here,” user oregonjoe writes on Apple's forums. “My iphone 4s won't turn on or restore. It happened after I had tried to update to 7.0.6. It froze in the middle of the update, so I had to restart, and then awhile later it turned off and hasn't been able to get past apple logo since.” “I tried restoring through itunes, and just kept getting ‘unknown error (9).’ Took it to an Apple store, and to summarize, I have to buy a new phone because I tried to update,” adds oregonjoe. “Thanks, Apple, way to stick it to the customer.” Others managed to fix their problem by restoring their firmware manually through iTunes, but are still disappointed that Apple doesn’t seem to be offering its support for those who are having problems updating their iDevices.

“Just restored through Itunes and now restoring my stuff from my icloud,” writes TragedySherbert. “It's really kind of awful that Apple's own software would do this to people's phones,” he adds. Apple released iOS 7.0.6 – and an adjacent 6.1.6 firmware update for old-generation devices – to patch a severe SSL flaw that affects the way iPhones communicate with servers, failing to protect the user’s identity. The flaw is present in Apple’s desktop software too. OS X 10.9.1 Mavericks has the same bug in its SSL code strings, and the company is yet to deploy OS X 10.9.2 to address the issue. Security researchers have criticized the Cupertino giant for taking the flaw lightly, but a spokesperson for Apple said on Saturday that a software patch would be released “very soon.”

iOS 7.0.6 OTA
Image credits to Apple

Feb 24, 2014

MWC 2014: Samsung Galaxy S5 is Here with Fingerprint Scanner, 4K Video Recording

As expected, Samsung has taken the wrap-off its next Galaxy S smartphone. Samsung Galaxy S5 is now dust- and waterproof (IP67 certified) and comes with a fingerprint scanner placed under the physical Home button.

We've already reported on the Galaxy S5's fingerprint scanner, which allows users to keep their data safe, as well as make payments via PayPal with just a swipe of the finger. Samsung Galaxy S5 will ship with Android 4.4.2 KitKat operating system out of the box and a new TouchWiz UI, which strongly resembles the previous version. Hardware-wise, the high-end smartphone is equipped with a 2.5GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor, which is complemented by an Adreno 330 graphics processing unit and 2GB of RAM. Another strong point of the Galaxy S5 would be the 16-megapixel rear-facing camera, which features autofocus, LED flash and 4K video recording. Even though previous rumors pointed to a 5.25-inch QHD (2650 x 1440 pixels) resolution, the Galaxy S5 comes with a slightly smaller 5.1-inch Super AMOLED full HD (1080p) capacitive touchscreen display.

Aside from the 2GB of RAM, Samsung Galaxy S5 comes packed with either 16GB or 32GB of internal memory, which can be further expanded up to 128GB via microSD memory card. Connectivity-wise, the Galaxy S5 offers a wide range of options, including LTE Cat4 (up to 150Mbps downloads, 50Mbps uploads), Wi-Fi a/b/g/n/ac (MIMO 2x2), Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy, ANT+, NFC (Near Field Communication), IR blaster, and USB 3.0. Design-wise, Samsung has replaced the cheap glossy back cover with a more stylish dimpled back side that offers better grip over the phone. The Galaxy S5 also comes with a much better 2800 mAh battery, which is rated by Samsung for up to 10 hours of web browsing or up to 12 hours of video playback.

According to Samsung, the Galaxy S5 will be available for purchase beginning April 11 in no less than 150 countries. Unfortunately, no information has been provided on price tag yet, but we suspect Samsung will offer more details on pricing very soon. Stay tuned for more updates on the matter.

Samsung Galaxy S5
Image credits to Samsung Mobile

First Ubuntu Phones Revealed at MWC 2014

The first Ubuntu phones are now being displayed at the MWC (Mobile World Congress) 2014 event, which takes place this week in Barcelona, Spain, between February 24-27.

Canonical announced last week that the forthcoming Ubuntu-powered phones will be manufactured by the Chinese company, Meizu, and a Spanish phone designer and manufacturer, named BQ. The names of the two Ubuntu phones have been revealed today at MWC 2014, the BQ Aquaris and the Meizu MX3. Unfortunately, the prototype phones showcased at the Ubuntu booth in Barcelona have no operating system.

However, the Canonical employees are hard at work, showcasing the latest Ubuntu Touch software on a Google Nexus 5 phone. If you are in Barcelona, go to MWC and visit the spectacular Ubuntu booth, because those phones look really good. We will have more pictures tomorrow morning!

There have been a lot of rumours over the past few weeks claiming Meizu are gearing up to launch a new version of the MEizu MX3 running Linux Ubuntu! The leaked video we have here cetainly shows us an MX3 running Ubuntu,but it remains to be seen if Meizu will actually launch such a device!
More Meizu news at GizChina.com
Video credits to GizChina

BlackBerry Confirms BBM for Windows Phone Arrives This Summer

Following Stephen Elop's announcement during Nokia's MWC 2014 press conference, BlackBerry issued an official statement confirming that BBM would be available on Windows Phone devices in the coming months.

The good news for those who don't own Nokia Windows Phone handsets is the fact that BlackBerry did not mention any exclusivity for Lumia handsets, so it should be available on most compatible Windows Phone devices. According to BlackBerry, BBM will be made available to Windows Phone, as well as Nokia X users in the coming months. Moreover, the application will be available as a free download via Windows Phone Store sometime this summer. In addition, BlackBerry Messenger for Nokia X will also be available for free from the Nokia Store when the Nokia X platform launches. Both Windows Phone and Nokia X users who download and install BBM will be provided with lots of major features that are also available on iOS and Android platforms.

BBM for Windows Phone will include features such as BBM Chats, BBM Groups, BBM Voice, BBM Channels, lots of new emoticons and various personalization options. Keep in mind that BBM users on Windows Phone, Nokia X, Android, iPhone and BlackBerry devices also have access to fast one-click sharing of photos, documents, voice notes and more. “BBM continues to grow in popularity as millions of people use our mobile platform for chatting and connecting with friends or colleagues, and we are very excited that we will soon welcome Windows Phone and Nokia X users to the BBM community,” said John Sims, president, global enterprise solutions at BlackBerry.

“Today marks an exciting moment for Nokia. By bringing BBM to the Windows Phone and Nokia X communities, our customers will be able to experience this popular global messaging app,” said Bryan Biniak, vice president and GM of developer relations, Nokia Corporation.

BBM logo
Image credits to BlackBerry

Samsung Galaxy S5 Leaks in Live Pictures Ahead of Official Announcement

With just several hours left until Samsung's Unpacked 5 press event, where the company is expected to unveil the next Galaxy smartphone, a couple of pictures showing the Galaxy S5 have just leaked online.

Courtesy of HardwareZone Forums, we now know what the standard version of Samsung Galaxy S5 will look like. Judging by the leaked photos, the Galaxy S5 looks very much like Samsung Galaxy S4, but it's slightly larger. The cited source also provides some info on the fingerprint scanner that will come integrated in the Galaxy S5. It appears that users will be able to make payments via PayPal with just a swipe of their finger.

In order to set up the fingerprint scanner, one would need to swipe 8 times on the home button for the smartphone to store the fingerprint. You can authorize up to 3 fingerprints to be used with the Galaxy S5. The smartphone also comes with updated Samsung apps and services, including S Healh and Fitness. A brand new Download Booster app seems to be included as well. Images gallery below, click for larger image.

Samsung Galaxy S5
Images credits to Hardware Zone Forums

Samsung Galaxy Note 3, Galaxy S5 and Galaxy S4
Image credits to SaudiAndroid

Feb 23, 2014

Samsung Launches Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo, Drops Galaxy Branding and Android for Tizen

As previously expected, Samsung has taken the opportunity at MWC 2014 to unveil the new Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo.

Note the absence of the Galaxy branding, which can be explained by the fact that Samsung has dropped the Android platform in favor of its own Tizen. Samsung says the change will affect battery life which will be capable of lasting up for up to two or three days, almost double from what the original Galaxy Gear managed (via SamMobile). The new Gear and Gear 2 Neo are lighter and thinner than the Galaxy Gear, but the design make-over isn’t so radical as previously thought. One thing that stands out is that the camera now lives in front of the watch and not on the wristband. Both smartwatches come with the same 1.63-inch screen with a resolution of 320 x 320, the same as the original Galaxy Gear. Under the small hood there’s a 1GHz processor combined with 512MB and 4GB of internal storage.

New features that might convenience you to get one of these babies include IP67 certification (watches are dust and water resistant), a heart sensor and IR blaster. If you were wondering about the difference between the Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo is the second doesn’t come bundled with a 2MP camera. There’s no info about pricing but the two smartwatches will be made available in the second quarter of the year. Images gallery below.

Samsung Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo launched
Images credits to SamMobile

Microsoft Officially Announces Windows 8.1 Update 1

Microsoft announced at the Mobile World Congress that Windows 8.1 is set to receive a major update this spring, confirming that the company is working to improve its operating system on both touch and non-touch devices.

Joe Belfiore, Microsoft’s executive in charge of the devices unit, explained during his keynote that Microsoft will make it easier for users to launch apps from the taskbar, probably hinting at options to start Metro apps from the desktop, as we’ve seen in leaked builds. At the same time, he also added that Windows 8.1 Update 1 will bring several improvements for the desktop, including options aimed at those relying on mice and keyboards. “Some of those touch affordances weren’t really tuned as well as we could do for those mouse and keyboard users,” Belfiore was quoted as saying by The Verge. “We found people weren’t aware of where they should look in the UI. Those are the things we’ve really started to improve for this update coming this spring.”

Windows 8.1 Update 1 will also represent another attempt by Microsoft to bring more Windows devices to the market, with recent reports pointing to a 70 percent license price cut for OEMs. It turns out however that Redmond is also reducing hardware requirements in Windows 8.1 Update 1, allowing the new OS version to be installed on devices with only 1GB of RAM and 16 GB of storage space. Belfiore hasn’t provided a release date for the new update, but it’s believed that Microsoft is planning to use the upcoming BUILD 2014 developer conference in early April to introduce the new OS version. Of course, Update 1 is going to be offered free of charge to all Windows 8.1 users and will be delivered through Windows Update as an optional download for both desktops and tablets.

Windows 8.1 Update 1 will launch in April
Image credits to Microsoft

Apple Hires 17-Year-Old Jailbreaker “Winocm”

Apple has hired jailbreaker “winocm,” a teenager who was able to port the entire iPhone operating system over to Nokia N900.

Of course, winocm’s resume doesn’t just include this single feat. He says he’s been able to do some “insane” things with both iOS and OS X on a core level, and he’s responsible for some iOS jailbreaks (for iOS 6.1.5, more recently). “I had to basically do exactly what Apple did when they were making iPhone OS originally,” winocm tells Cult of Mac which points out that “By rewriting the iPhone OS from the ground up, he was essentially able to create an open source version of the operating system.” Winocm added, “It’s really complex and hellish stuff. Usually they have a team of people working on this type of thing, but I’m just one person, not a team.” Hence the reason why Apple could really use a guy like him.

Winocm himself broke the news about his hiring on Twitter yesterday, when he relayed to his 44K followers, “I figured now is the right time to say this, I will be working at Apple starting later this year.” The Cupertino, California-based Apple Inc. will most likely use winocm’s skill set to strengthen the security of iOS and OS X. As always, Apple hiring an iOS jailbreaker is somewhat ironical, having indulged in a fierce cat and mouse game before shaking hands. On the other hand, jailbreaking is getting less and less necesary these days, as Apple is offering more features and flexibility in its mobile software. But where there’s room for tweaks that Apple doesn’t allow, you can bet lots of people will still want to jailbreak their devices.

In related news, Apple has discovered and subsequently patched a serious vulnerability in iOS 7 where “An attacker with a privileged network position may capture or modify data in sessions protected by SSL/TLS.” The issue affects most iPhones and iPads currently in circulation today and has been addressed with the release of iOS 7.0.6 for new-generation hardware, and iOS 6.1.6 for old devices, such as the iPhone 3GS. Apple TV Software 6.0.2, released in tandem with these two updates, also includes the security patch.

Winocm tweet
Image credits to Winocm on Twitter

BlackBerry Intros Stickers for BBM, Kicks Off Limited External Beta

Shortly after introducing Voice Chat for BlackBerry Messenger on both Android and iOS platforms, the Canadian company announced that it would add a brand new feature for BBM users, stickers.

This time however, the new feature won't be available for free, but will come for a price. Those who wish to take advantage of these stickers will have to purchase them via BBM Shop. BlackBerry has announced the it has started a limited external beta for stickers and the BBM Shop, but it's unclear whether everyone can access it or you have to be accepted into the beta. As we have mentioned earlier, stickers will be available for purchase via BBM Shop in packs that will contain between 20 and 25 stickers, which will be theme-related (CosCat, Gilbert’s Tales, Bubble Bot). BBM users on Android and iOS are surely not aware of what stickers are as the feature was only available for BlackBerry 10 users.

Speaking of which, BlackBerry Stickers is a separate application for 10 OS devices that allows BBM users to spice up their chats with friends by adding stickers. BlackBerry will probably do the same for Android and iOS users and will release separate applications for stickers, but we have yet to receive a confirmation from the Canadian company. Stickers are larger emoticons, some may be animated and featuring a much better resolution than standard emoticons. It's possible that BlackBerry will throw in some free to download stickers as well, but for now, we should assume they will only sell in packages of 20-25 stickers. The method of sending stickers to your friends is pretty simple on BlackBerry 10. You will need to open the Stickers for BBM application and select the sticker you wish and then select Send. Obviously, you can add some text as well.

For the time being, there are 35 stickers available for BlackBerry 10, of which 20 are animated and must be purchased, whereas 15 are static and are available for free. Stay tuned for more updates on the addition of stickers to BBM for Android and iOS.

Stickers for BBM
Image credits to Blackberry

Feb 21, 2014

Dual-SIM ARCHOS 50c Oxygen with Octa-Core CPU Unveiled Ahead of MWC 2014

French company ARCHOS has just unveiled its lineup of smartphones for the first half of 2014, which contains only 3 devices: 50c Oxygen, 64 Xenon and 40b Titanium.

The most advanced of the three, ARCHOS 50c Oxygen is a dual-SIM smartphone that comes equipped with MediaTek's true octa-core chipset. The good news is that the smartphone will be available for purchase for less than £200 (€240 / $330) off contract. Unfortunately, there's no word on when exactly the ARCHOS 50c Oxygen will go on sale and where you will be able to pick it up. All three ARCHOS smartphones will ship with Android 4.2 Jelly Bean operating system out of the box. It's unlikely that any of these devices will receive any major upgrades in the future.

As we have mentioned earlier, ARCHOS 50c Oxygen is powered by a 1.7GHz octa-core MediaTek MT6592 processor, a Mali 450MP4 graphics processing unit and 1GB of RAM. ARCHOS 64 Xenon is equipped with a 1.3GHz quad-core MediaTek MT6582 processor, a Mali 400MP2 graphics processing unit and 1GB of RAM. Last but not least, the ARCHOS 40b Titanium packs a 1.3GHz dual-core Mediate MT6572 processor, a Mali 400 graphics processing unit and only 512MB of RAM.

“ARCHOS’ new lineup of products highlights the company’s commitment to innovation and confirms its position in the 3G/4G market. Our new product offerings continue to push the boundaries of technology, blending superior design, cutting-edge technology and impressive affordability,” said Loic Poirier, CEO of ARCHOS. It is also worth mentioning that the 50c Oxygen sports a 5-inch IPS LCD capacitive touchscreen display that supports HD (720p) resolution, while the 64 Xenon boasts a huge 6.4-inch IPS LCD display with HD (720p) resolution. ARCHOS 40b Titanium comes with a much smaller 4-inch display that supports 800 x 480 pixels resolution. Apart from the ARCHOS 50c Oxygen, which packs 8GB of storage, the rest of ARCHOS' smartphones feature 4GB of internal memory.

“MediaTek is very pleased to see its portfolio of dual-, quad-, and octa-core ‘Systems-on-a-Chip’ well represented across ARCHOS’ breaking new smartphone line-up. This is another proof-point of MediaTek’s commitment in making rich multimedia features, leading edge multi- processing and multi-mode connectivity available to everyone at affordable price levels,” added Siegmund Redl, MediaTek's VP and GM of corporate marketing in Europe.

ARCHOS 50c Oxygen

ARCHOS 40b Titanium
Images credits to ARCHOS

Sony SmartWatch 2 Might Arrive with New Garmin Navigation App

The smartwatch competition is getting pretty intense, so Sony is looking to up its game with its all-new intelligent time-keeping wearable.

The most recent batch of rumors claims the new Sony SmartWatch 2 device will come equipped with a Garmin navigation app, says Pocket-Lint. Regardless of how diversified the market for smartwatches seems to be now, keep in mind that Sony was one of the first to offer such a product back in 2012. The device didn't really catch on back then, perhaps being a little ahead of its time. Garmin is another company that’s clinging to existence, in recent times. The company used to provide top-class navigation devices and software, but ever since the advent of services such as Google Maps, its time seems to have passed.

By partnering up with Sony, Garmin is hoping to reestablish itself by offering its servicing to an established Android platform. Sony’s upcoming SmartWatch 2 is said to be capable of displaying higher quality images. The same Garmin Navigation app is said to arrive on the upcoming Xperia Z2 code-named Sirius.

Sony SmartWatch 2 might come bundled with the Garmin app
Image credits to AndroidCommunity

Nexus 8 to Arrive in July with Android 4.5

We have told you about the upcoming Google Nexus 8 in the past before, but as it turns out we’ll get to see the device appear this summer in July.

This week it's been announced Google will be hosting its I/O 2014 developer conference between 25 and 26 of July, which raised a lot of speculations regarding what we were going to see during the event. The guys over at the AndroidGeeks were a tad more curious, so they got in touch with a person familiar with the matter who managed to confirm that the new Android 4.5 build was going to be introduced to the press during the event. The Google Dublin employee said the conference would be the launching platform for something else as well. Yes, you've guessed it, the Nexus 8 is going to be introduced at the I/O 2014 conference, too. As you might probably remember, Google was said to be abandoning the manufacturing of 7-inch tablets, a decision prompted by seeing disappointing Nexus 7 2013 sales. Albeit being a good tablet, featuring a set of capable specifications and a decent price-tag, the tablet has failed to impress the public.

On top of that, pressure from the phablet-market is cueing customers to reorient their preferences towards tablets with larger displays, so Google will be taking up the manufacturing of 8-inchers, instead. At the moment, there are a bunch of notable 8-inch products on the market, such as the Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0, new Galaxy TabPRO 8.4 or LG G Pad 8.3. The Dublin Google employee couldn't specify whether the new Nexus 8 will come pre-installed with Android 4.5, but it’s highly likely this will be the case. A previous Asian report placed the rolling out of the Nexus 8 somewhere around April, but if we are to listen to the Dublin source, the launch date has been pushed a few months.

Nexus 8 tipped to arrive with Android 4.5
Image credits to Pocketnow

Dual-Boot (Android / Firefox) Geeksphone Revolution Goes on Sale for $300 (€220)

Last week, Spanish company Geeksphone confirmed that it would make its “revolutionary” Revolution smartphone available for purchase on February 20.

The smartphone is unique in the fact that it allows users to switch between two operating systems (Android & Firefox) while on the move. The Revolution is now available for purchase via Geeksphone's online store for only $300 (€220). The device can be shipped anywhere in the world, but shipping fees are not included in the outright price mentioned earlier. Aside from the dual-boot smartphone, Geeksphone has previously announced that it will launch a series of accessories for the Revolution, but they are not available yet. Geeksphone Revolution comes equipped with a 1.6GHz dual-core Intel Atom Z2560 processor, which is complemented by 1GB of RAM and 4GB of internal memory.

Although it comes with such a low amount of storage, users will be able to further expand internal memory up to 32GB via microSD memory card. For those wondering if Geeksphone Revolution supports their carriers' networks, the Spanish company has confirmed that the smartphone is fully compatible with the following HSPA/WCDMA bands: 2100 / 1900 / 900 /850 MHz. In addition, the Revolution supports the following GSM / GPRS / EDGE bands: 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900 MHz. The Revolution has a more than decent 4.7-inch IPS LCD capacitive touchscreen display that supports 540 x 960 pixels resolution. It also packs an enhanced 8-megapixel rear-facing camera with autofocus, LED flash and full HD (1080p) video recording, as well as a secondary 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera for video calls.

Geeksphone Revolution is powered by a 2000 mAh battery and offers a wide range of connectivity options, including HSPA (21Mbps) and HSUPA (5.76Mbps), along with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Keep in mind that Revolution comes with Android Jelly Bean operating system by default, but you will be able to switch to Firefox OS seamlessly thanks to the “Multi OS” technology integrated in the smartphone.

Geeksphone Revolution
Images credits to Geeksphone

Feb 20, 2014

Who Are Meizu and bq, the First Ubuntu Touch Hardware Partners?

Canonical has announced the first two hardware partners for Ubuntu Touch, Meizu and bq, but most of the Ubuntu users are not really familiar with these companies. We'll try to shed some light on this matter.

Mark Shuttleworth, the founder of Canonical, has been hinting that some hardware companies have been really interested in building devices powered by Ubuntu Touch, but he was always skiddish to name names, probably because the negotiations weren't complete. Fast forward to the Mobile World Congress 2014 in Barcelona, where Ubuntu and Canonical didn't participate, and we find a Chinese company bragging about Ubuntu Touch running on their Meizu MX3 device. The rumors have been shutdown mercilessly, by various Ubuntu developers, but it turns out that they were actually true (at least partially).

“Meizu is one of China’s most successful high-end smartphone manufacturers with over 1,000 employees, 600 retail stores and a global presence in China, Hong Kong, Israel, Russia and Ukraine. In January, the company announced its strategy to expand into other international markets as well as to ship phones in America later in 2014 and Ubuntu will be a key part of this expansion,” reads the official announcement. From what we can determine, Meizu has been chosen because it's a rising company. Maybe others, more prolific hardware makers will express their interest, but a new one, that is just launching its products, could make a bigger impact.

The second hardware maker chosen to deliver Ubuntu Touch devices is called bq and it's a lot less known then Meizu, but the company is from Spain and the entire production is taken care of inside the European Union. “bq is a manufacturer of multimedia devices operating in Europe and employing 600 people. In 2013, the company shipped almost 1.5 million devices and in less than a year has become the Spain’s second biggest seller of unlocked smartphones. bq will bring Ubuntu onto its latest hardware specifications,” also reads the announcement. This being said, it's likely that most of the users have been expecting a more important partner, but as it stands right now, it's two more partners than there were a week ago.

Image credits to Canonical

Sony to Launch Xperia Z2 Ultra Smartphone Next to Xperia Z2

Sony has been long rumored to plan the launch of an Xperia Z2 smartphone in the not too distant future, maybe as soon as the next week at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, but it seems that this isn't be the only new device that the Japanese vendor is working on.

In fact, a recent tweet coming from @gadgetleaks suggests that Sony will also launch a certain Xperia Z2 Ultra smartphone next to the Xperia Z2, and that a new tablet PC will also be unveiled soon by the company. Unfortunately, as XperiaBlog notes, no specific info on when these devices will be officially introduced has been provided as of now, and there’s no telling whether they will arrive at MWC 2014.

One thing that is certain, however, is that enthusiasts will certainly enjoy a successor for the large and powerful Xperia Z Ultra.

Sony to launch Xperia Z2 Ultra smartphone next to Xperia Z2
Image credits to Sony

Samsung Galaxy S5 Confirmed to Hit Shelves in Three Weeks

We already know that Samsung will reveal the Galaxy S5 next week at Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2014 trade fair, but we're still not sure when exactly the smartphone will go on sale.

In order to fill that lack of information, the folks over at GSMArena have talked with a Samsung executive on the upcoming release of the Galaxy S5. Well, it looks like Samsung's flagship smartphone will go on sale earlier than we have anticipated. According to Samsung's official, the Galaxy S5 will be available for purchase in just about three weeks from now.

This means that the handset should hit shelves sometime in mid-March, more than a week ahead of HTC M8's official release, which is slated for March 25. As always, we recommend our readers to take this information with a grain of salt until Samsung comes forward with an official statement.

Samsung Unpacked 5 invitation
Image credits to Samsung

Feb 19, 2014

Xiaomi Mi3 Confirmed to Arrive in Singapore on March 7

Xiaomi is a well-known Chinese OEM that only operates in a few emerging markets. The company has become very popular in China thanks to its cheap Android smartphones that offer more than decent features.

In an attempt to strengthen its position in the Mainland and bring its products to other markets as well, Xiaomi has managed to secure the services of Google's Hugo Barra, which is now its Global VP. During a recent press event, Barra said that his company was closely looking at the Indian market, where it was actively searching for partners that could bring its products to customers in the not so distant future. Along with the information mentioned earlier, Hugo Barra confirmed that the Xiaomi Mi3 would be launched in Singapore, one of the company's main markets, on March 7. Xiaomi Mi3 will be available for purchase in Singapore for only $330 (€240) outright, which is an excellent price considering the phone's specs sheet.

For those unfamiliar with Xiaomi Mi3's features and capabilities, here is a quick recap. The smartphone comes equipped with either Nvidia Tegra 4 or Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 chipsets, depending on customer's choice. Furthermore, the handset sports a vibrant 5-inch capacitive touchscreen display that supports full HD (1080p) resolution and 441 ppi (pixel density). In addition, it packs an impressive 13-megapixel rear-facing camera with autofocus, dual-LED flash and full HD (1080p) video recording. The smartphone also sports a secondary 2-megapixel front-facing camera for video calls, as well as 2GB of RAM and 16GB of internal memory.

According to Xiaomi, the Mi3 high-end smartphone will ship with MIUI v5 operating system, which is based on Android 4.3 Jelly Bean platform. It is also worth mentioning that the smartphone is powered by a 3050 mAh battery, which has yet to be rated by the manufacturer. On a side note, Xiaomi Mi3 has been confirmed to arrive in Taiwan as well, and Android fans living in this country will be able to grab the device beginning February 20.

Xiaomi Mi3
Images credits to Xiaomi

Oppo Find 7 Leaked Photo Emerges Online

Chinese mobile phone maker Oppo has already confirmed plans to make official its Find 7 smartphone as soon as the next month, yet the company hasn’t offered specific info on what the device looks like as of now.

However, a newly leaked image with the handset allegedly shows its back side, while also confirming that Oppo might plan on launching it in a purple color version. The picture emerged over at NowhereElse, but there’s no telling on whether it is indeed genuine or not. Oppo has already teased the new device a few times before, confirming that it will arrive with a 5.5-inch Quad HD screen, as well as with a 2.45GHz quad-core Snapdragon 800 processor packed inside.

According to leaked AnTuTu screenshots, two versions of the phone will be unveiled next month, one of them featuring a full HD screen and a 2.2GHz CPU. Both versions will come with 3GB of RAM, 16GB of internal memory, 13MP back camera, and 5MP camera on the front, as UnwiredView notes.

Oppo Find 7
Image credits to NoWhereElse.fr

Oppo Find 7 benchmark result
Image credits to UnwiredView

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