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May 15, 2014

BlackBerry 10.3 New Features and UI Changes Roundup

Over the past few weeks, Canadian mobile phone maker BlackBerry has been teasing various new features and UI changes that the BlackBerry 10.3 operating system includes, and the company has decided to reiterate some of them today.

For those out of the loop, we should note that BlackBerry has made the BlackBerry 10.3 OS SDK beta available for download for developers on Wednesday, so as to provide them with the possibility to start testing their applications against the new platform iteration. The roundup of various BlackBerry 10.3 new features comes as a natural result of the platform’s release, though it seems that this is not the operating system version that end-users out there will be able to install on their devices later this year. BlackBerry 10 handsets will be upgraded to BlackBerry 10.3.1, the mobile phone maker announced, though it did not reveal a specific availability date for the platform upgrade as of now. As mentioned before, the new OS iteration from BlackBerry will arrive on shelves with a ‘Signature Action’ feature, which includes a simpler, cleaner action bar at the bottom of the screen, and which will also have commonly used actions in the center.

Moreover, BlackBerry explains in a blog post that the upcoming platform release will also come with brand new icons, with the box around them removed, which will offer a new, flatter look. The home screen on BlackBerry 10.3 has been updated too, now with endless folders, allowing users to group more apps into the same folder. Moreover, the “running apps grid” will remain visible on the screen at all times, even when the last app has been closed. The upcoming mobile operating system will also allow users to access Quick Settings much faster than before, through a two-finger-swipe from the top of the screen. There will also be an additional row of app icons on the screen, at least on devices such as BlackBerry Z3, Z10, and Z30. On BlackBerry Q5 and Q10, this will arrive in the form of an extra column of applications. The BlackBerry Hub will also be updated, with features such as the possibility to download all attachments in an email, or the option to delete the original text when replying to an email.

Moreover, BlackBerry will implement Remote IMAP Search in the platform, as well as File Sent Messages, and a BlackBerry Hub “Reset” feature, which means that it will close / auto-save open content and will return to the list after 30 minutes of inactivity. BlackBerry 10.3 will also come with an updated Calendar, now with weekly agenda, support for tasks, and a meeting mode. Remember will also receive a revamp, now with Tasks and Notes tabs to enjoy. Other changes will also be included in the platform, such as an updated camera UI, a file picker in the album view, and rearranged settings list. Keep in mind that these changes were included in the newly released BlackBerry 10.3 beta SDK, but that they might not make it inside BlackBerry 10.3.1, or that they could be modified in that release.

BlackBerry 10.3 changes
Image credits to Michael Clewley via N4BB

Gigabyte Prepares GeForce GTX 750 Ti Black Edition

The thing about hardware products is that they don't all last for the same amount of time, even compared to their own kin so to speak. That's why products like the upcoming Gigabyte GeForce GTX 750 Ti Black Edition have customer bases of their own.

You see, the “Black Edition” moniker always means some extra qualification, whether in terms of performance or endurance, or both. For Gigabyte's graphics cards, it means that they were put through a 168-hour server level stress test. It ensures that the products can go for hours at full throttle, allowing you to play whatever you want for as long as you want. Sure, the GeForce GTX 750 Ti doesn't provide the same performance limits as GTX 760 and above, but it's better than average, and you can play, say, Skyrim on a GTX 650 easily (provided you don't go overboard with the resolution and graphics mods).

Anyway, the Gigabyte Black Edition GeForce GTX 750 Ti video board has dual-DVI ports, two gold-plated HDMI connectors, 2 GB of GDDR5 VRAM, and a dual-fan WindForce 2X cooler. As for the GPU (GM107 Maxwell), it can run at 1033 / 1111 MHz Base/Boost, or 1163 / 1242 MHz (Gigabyte Black Edition GeForce GTX 750 Ti OC). Alas, for all its forthrightness, Gigabyte chose not to disclose the prices.

Gigabyte GeForce GTX 750 Ti Black Edition
Image credits to Gigabyte

Samsung Galaxy Tab S AMOLED Tablets Coming June 12 at Galaxy Premiere Event

A few hours ago, we heard rumors that Samsung’s AMOLED tablet line-up, the Galaxy Tab S, might be scheduled to arrive on either the 11 or 12 of June in New York.

Well, it seems The Wall Street Journal was right, as Samsung has officially announced the time, date and locations of the so-called Galaxy Premiere event. So, Sammy is going to be present in New York in Madison Square Garden on the 12 of June in order to officially announce the two 8.4-inch and 10.5-inch AMOLED screen tablets we have been drooling over for so long. If we listen to talk on the street, there’s a chance Samsung will also roll out a 13.3-inch tablet dubbed Warhole, that will come with an LCD display instead of an AMOLED one.

Anyway Samsung is teasing us with an image saying “Tab into Color,” an obvious (visual) reference of the beautiful and vivid display the new Galaxy Tab S slates should be arriving with. The tablet is shown photographed in various angles that highlight its thinness. I’m pretty excited to meet the new Samsung lineup, which will arrive with an octa-core Exynos 5420 CPU, LTE connectivity and Android 4.4.2 KitKat out of the box. If you are too, mark the June 12 date in your calendar right now!

Samsung Galaxy Tab S coming June 12
Image credits to Samsung Mobile Press

Official: Xiaomi’s MiPad Tablet Has Retina-like Display and Tegra K1 SoC

Xiaomi’s mythical tablet strikes again, this time for real. After being rumored countless times and failing to make a real-life appearance some of us almost gave up hope the device was coming at all.

As of today, Xiaomi’s MiPad tablet is official and albeit thinking we knew what the tablet will bring in terms of specifications, we were proven wrong at the launch party. So here we go, the MiPad is an iPad mini with Retina Display clone, coming with a 7.9-inch and boasting 2048 x 1536 pixel resolution. Under the hood lies a surprise, in the form of NVIDIA’s latest Tegra K1 SoC processor clocked at 2.2GHz fitted with 2GB of RAM and backed up by 16GB of internal storage (expandable up to a 128GB). Paradoxically enough, NVIDIA’s rumored Mocha tablet won’t be the first slate to run the company’s Tegra K1 SoC. The Xiaomi MiPad is a very light and probably easy to carry tablet, weighing just 360g / 0.79 lbs. Under the hood lies a 6,700 mAh battery that will keep your slate alive for a sensible amount of time. Other specifications include two cameras (8MP Sony rear camera and 5MP frontal camera).

Xiaomi hasn't said anything about its intentions of releasing a cellular-capable version of the tablet, but it might be in the cards at some point. In terms of pricing, which is what we guess you were waiting for, the 16GB Wi-Fi will sell for $240 / €176 while the 64GB model can be grabbed for $275 / €201. Anyway, the company said it would start the “open testing” of the MiPad in June, which means customers purchasing the Beta device will send Xiaomi feedback regarding their experience with the slate. The company will use this information to improve the product and produce a final version set to arrive by the end of the year. In the meantime, Xiaomi has also provided some benchmarks, which compare their tablet against the performance of the iPad mini with Retina Display, showing us how awesome the MiPad is.

Last summer, Xiaomi has managed to lure away Google’s Hugo Barra, in an attempt to prove to the world they are capable of producing greater things than most Chinese copy-cat companies. Nevertheless, it still seems to us that Xiaomi was heavily influenced by the iPhone 5c concept, which they stretched and turned into a colorful plastic-y tablet. Even so, the result seems pretty appealing and you won’t find many companies selling a Retina Display tablet for such a low rate.

Xiaomi finally launches MiPad tablet
Images credits to Xiaomi

Xiaomi MiPad shown in benchmarks
Images credits to NextPowerUp

K-Touch and Blu Join the Windows Phone OEM Caravan, New Devices Launching Soon

Chinese OEM and ODM K-Touch and US-based handset maker Blu have just been officially confirmed as Microsoft partners for the release of Windows Phone devices.

The announcement doesn’t come as a surprise, as Blu has recently teased its first smartphone powered by Windows Phone platform, which is aimed at the mid-range market. K-Touch has yet to announce when and how many Windows Phone handsets it will launch in the not so distant future. However, both companies confirmed during the Qualcomm Reference Design and Wireless Innovation Summit in China that they would launch Windows Phone devices in the next couple of months. According to Liveside, during the same event, another Windows Phone OEM already confirmed by Microsoft, Longcheer, demoded two of its smartphones that should be released in the coming months. Both devices were powered by Windows Phone 8.1 and were based on Qualcomm Reference Design.

With the two new additions, the list of Windows Phone OEMs that are expected to launch new smartphones this year has been increased to 17. However, we expect more OEM to soon jump in the Windows Phone bandwagon given the fact that Microsoft has already removed any licensing costs. Most of these partners will bring Windows Phone devices to emerging markets, thus strengthening Windows Phone’s position among other OSes.

Blu's Windows Phone handset
Image credits to Blu

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