BlackBerry pulled back the curtain on its new DTEK50 smartphone a few days ago, and soon after gave hungry journalists units to play with. I’m still working on my full review of BlackBerry’s $299 Hail Mary pass, but since I spent a day playing with it, here’s a peek into an evening of nutso, BlackBerry-centric thinking. Long story short, it’s all at once a perfectly adequate phone with serious security chops, a shrewd business move and a lesson in lousy marketing.
1:00PM: After a handy Q&A session, I’m given a DTEK50 of my phone to play with. First impressions: Yep, this feels like an Alcatel phone. In case you missed it the other day, the DTEK50 is based on the TCL reference design that ultimately gave us Alcatel’s (still-unreleased) Idol 4. Both share a 5.2-inch, 1080p screen, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 617 chipset, 3GB of RAM, a 13-megapixel main camera, a 2,600mAh battery and even a convenience key on the phone’s right side to which you can assign shortcuts. (Alcatel called it a “Boom” key, but BlackBerry’s naming choice was the right one.) If you’re like me, though, you’d keep trying to wake up the phone using that button, which doesn’t work unless you specifically set it to.
Oh, and there’s more. There’s no fingerprint sensor, and it only has 16GB of internal storage. (You can at least you can flesh it out with a microSD card.) The DTEK50 is startlingly light too, lacking the reassuring density of the high-end BlackBerry Priv.
I’m torn. It’s a BlackBerry in name and in functionality, but this is the first time I can remember the company leaving hardware design almost entirely up to someone else. Even the low-cost Leap we first met last year felt more substantial. There was a certain level of aesthetic pride that went into BlackBerrys, but the company’s shift in strategy has given us a phone that doesn’t feel special in the way the company’s older phones did.
2:30PM: Ran down to St. Marks to get some footage of the DTEK50 for our hands-on video. Setting up the phone was business as usual, but the phone got noticeably warm for reasons that weren’t readily apparent. At the same time, battery drain kicked into high gear for a spell, even though few apps were running at the time. Weird. My hopes for this phone start to sink a bit.
4:30PM: Hustled back to the office to give the DTEK50 a much-needed charge. Thankfully, Qualcomm’s QuickCharge 2.0 tech got the phone back on its feet within minutes and I let it regain about a half charge. I fiddled with it more in the meantime; it’s a pretty smooth little machine, and the DTEK50 seemed like a decent, slightly underpowered workhorse. It would’ve been nice to see BlackBerry choose a reference design with a beefier chipset like a Snapdragon 652, but the company wanted to keep costs down. I haven’t yet gotten a great feel for the camera but early test shots seemed in line with other devices that cost the same, and the screen’s pretty decent, to boot. Meanwhile, my boss Dana says the DTEK50’s textured back reminds her of a cat’s scratching post.
6:30PM: My latest meeting ends and I’m back at the office contemplating the DTEK50 again. BlackBerry insists that the DTEK isn’t a rebranded device — it’s a standalone smartphone with security as its biggest selling point. From security keys baked into the processor during manufacturing to the full disk encryption that’s enabled by default, It’s clear that BlackBerry’s security know-how is one of its most powerful assets.
You won’t notice much of that in practice, though. The phone’s namesake DTEK app gives you a quick look at how secure your device is and how you can lock it up even further, but that’s really all the insight you’ll get. On the plus side, though, DTEK also gives you the option to manages your apps’ permissions from inside it, which is a nice touch made possible by Android Marshmallow.
If you’ve used a Priv before, you’ll feel immediately at home with the DTEK50’s software features. As usual, you can manage your messages from the BlackBerry Hub and swipe up on app icons to see their widgets. The DTEK50 is another mostly-stock-Android affair and I’m warming up to it more because of it. It certainly doesn’t hurt that the company’s secure software approach hasn’t impeded performance; it’s as fast as the new Moto G4, but I wonder if there’s anything here regular consumers would respond to.
8:30PM: After a beer — fine, a few beers — the DTEK50 makes perfect sense. As a business move, it’s a great idea: BlackBerry gets a new device on the market without spending loads of money on product development. It’s also an appropriate follow-up from the Priv, if you think about it. BlackBerry’s first Android phone dealt with some serious scrutiny from critics and security buffs alike, and for the most part the company is pleased with how it all turned out. Now that it had a better sense of how responded to an Android-powered BlackBerry, the company was free to take that formula and apply it to a device that meant to be sold in bulk — to businesses, say, or governments. The DTEK50 is, as company spokespeople called it, a “fleet” device. If the DTEK50 finds a foothold with regular people, great! If not, so be it. As long as those corporations snap them up.
11:00PM: It’s late, I’m tired and the DTEK50 is still hanging on — 15 percent battery to go. And seriously, this thing is actually called the DTEK50? BlackBerry says it’s meant partially to evoke the numbers used by BB10 devices — the company topped out with the Z30 before switching back to proper names, so “50” was the next logical step. Still, it’s straight-up gibberish without a nuanced understanding of BlackBerry’s recent history.
I’m growing fonder of this thing, though, partially because it’s a solid little phone, but also because it’s a symbol of John Chen’s shrewdness. He’s said countless times before that BlackBerry will bail out of the hardware business if it’s not profitable, but dangit, the company just keeps trying anyway.
Apple has brought on the former head of BlackBerry’s automotive software division to lead its own self-driving car tech projects.
The latest addition to the Apple team previously founded and acted as chief executive officer of QNX, the operating system developer acquired by BlackBerry back in 2010. Dan Dodge joined Apple earlier this year to assist a team headed by Bob Mansfield. As part of Project Titan, Apple’s automobile initiative, Dodge is helping to research development of a new automated driving system in tandem with storied plans for Apple to create its own vehicle. This marks a change in direction from Apple’s previous plans for simply creating its own automobile.
In addition to Dodge, Apple has employed hundreds of additional employees who have been tasked with designing cars for a projected release date of 2020. While this date has changed several times over with the addition and departure of team members and switches in direction.
BlackBerry’s back! Again! And this time it’s rocking some hardened Alcatel hardware with an awful name. Oh, BlackBerry. If you’re one of the few remaining hardware keyboard enthusiasts hoping for the Canadian phone-maker’s trademark QWERTY, look away now as you’re going to be disappointed.
What the DTEK50 (codenamed Neon) does offer is a rather middle-of-the-road spec list that includes a Snapdragon 617 Octa-Core processor, 3GB RAM and a 13-megapixel camera. Internal storage is limited to a paltry 16GB, but it does support microSD cards up to 2TB.
BlackBerry’s leaning heavily on security features to sell this phone; primarily that means a hardened kernel, a hardware “Root of Trust,” full disk encryption, a more secure bootloader and a bunch of other features designed to keep you feeling safe.
The end-to-end encryption provided by that Root of Trust ensures only authenticated devices can connect to an organization’s network, which should help it appeal to its intended business audience.
Unsurprisingly, the phone comes with BlackBerry’s own DTEK app that gives you a quick security overview and detailed feedback about which apps are accessing your details and when, is still present.
It’s available to pre-order now for $299, but before you whip out your card, you might want to just consider ordering the Alcatel Idol 4s. Why? Because it’s a slightly upgraded version of the same phone that comes with a VR headset and costs $350.
BlackBerry’s online store says the DTEK50 is due to start shipping the week of August 8.
Source: Inside BlackBerry
When Propel releases its official Star Wars drones this fall, fans could challenge fellow fans to a space battle in their own backyard. The RC toy company has launched small replica quadcopters of the Millennium Falcon, an X-Wing, a TIE fighter and a speeder bike. According to Wired, their propellers are clear and are attached to their underside to be as inconspicuous and true to the movies as possible.
We’ve got a feeling quite a few collectors would simply keep them in display cases. But if you want to get one to actually play with, you’ll find that they can reach speeds up to 40mph and can do 360-degree aerial stunts at the push of a button. They also have a battle feature, which you can use to play a game of mid-air laser tag with up to 24 friends. Wired says the Millennium Falcon is the fastest of the bunch, though, and can outfly them all with a max speed of 50mph.
The bad news? They won’t be available in the US and Canada when they launch this fall — you’ll have to wait for Propel to bring them over. The company is taking reservations for every model right now with no need for a downpayment. You simply have to register and save between $200 to $300 for each drone, so you can grab one as soon as they come out.
BlackBerry is embracing change in a big way, finally moving forward from its BlackBerry Classic smartphone. The writing’s been on the wall for quite some time, but as of today the company has made very clear its intention to strike the phone from its portfolio and wind down operations for the “workhorse device going forward.
According to BlackBerry, the Classic has “long surpassed the average lifespan for a smartphone,” noting that innovation and change is important if we’re to see new and better experiences in the future. BlackBerry itself isn’t the only entity around here that’s chosen to forge a new path.
Just last week, news came out that the U.S. Senate is to trade in BlackBerry devices for iOS and Android phones thanks to a supposed memo where BlackBerry had let slip that all of its OS 10 devices were in fact discontinued.
The company will continue to support its BlackBerry 10 devices via software updates, however. In fact, version 10.3.3 is scheduled for release next month and there’s another one coming next year. It’s an interesting time for BlackBerry fans, especially those who aren’t all about change.
BlackBerry has announced that it will no longer manufacture the BlackBerry Classic, meaning that the touchscreen smartphone will no longer be available once remaining stock is depleted through official sales channels.
For many years, Classic (and its BBOS predecessors) has been in our portfolio. It has been an incredible workhorse device for customers, exceeding all expectations. But, the Classic has long surpassed the average lifespan for a smartphone in today’s market. We are ready for this change so we can give our customers something better – entrenched in our legacy in security and pedigree in making the most productive smartphones.
BlackBerry Classic, equipped with a physical QWERTY keyboard, was unveiled in December 2014 with a design similar to the once-popular BlackBerry Bold smartphone series released between May 2008 and November 2011. BlackBerry’s dominance has shrunk considerably since then, however, with iOS and Android smartphones now combining for some 98 percent of worldwide market share.
BlackBerry said it will be updating its smartphone lineup with “state of the art devices,” presumably with an Android focus like the BlackBerry Priv. The company will continue to support BlackBerry 10 with software updates, including version 10.3.3 due next month and a second update to follow next year. The BlackBerry 10-powered BlackBerry Passport and BlackBerry Leap remain available for sale.
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The US Senate’s Sergeant at Arms (SAA) announced earlier this week that staffers would no longer be able to request new BlackBerry OS 10 devices for official work. That includes the Q10, Z10, Z30, Passport and Classic. In their place, the SAA is offering use of the Samsung Galaxy S6 on Android or the 16GB iPhone SE.
Existing BlackBerry users won’t be left high and dry, should they decline to transition to another OS. BlackBerry support will continue for the foreseeable future and replacement devices will be available for however the SAA’s current stock of 610 mobile devices last.
This is a significant moment in BlackBerry’s history. I mean, the company used to utterly dominate the mobile device market thanks to its focus on security, email (remember, this was before messaging and social media took off) and a physical keyboard (again, this was the era before Swiftkey).
iOS and Android did manage to catch up to the BlackBerry OS within a matter of years, resulting in the company’s precipitous decline and subsequent flirtations with bankruptcy.
But the wheels of government turn slowly — especially when it comes to the adoption of new technologies. Even after the general public — and the President himself — abandoned BBOS for competing systems, BlackBerry handsets persisted on Capitol Hill for more than a decade. But not anymore.
Most BBM users finally have access to the app’s video calling capability. BlackBerry has released the feature for Android and iOS in Asia-Pacific, which is apparently home to its biggest userbase. The company said it made cross-platform video calls available in the US and Canada first, because it wanted to be able to fix bugs before it reaches more people. Since video calling is now stable, the phonemaker can roll it out to the rest of world.
While BBM isn’t as popular as its newer, shinier rivals like Messenger or WhatsApp anymore, BlackBerry is still developing new features for it. In fact, this release is but a small part of a bigger rollout. Later this summer, the company will launch the capability to register for an account using a phone number, among other things. Android users will be able to share larger videos, as well, while those on iOS will be able to mute group notifications.
President Obama has had to use a BlackBerry since the moment he took office. However, he’s finally moving on with less than a year left in his term. The Commander-in-Chief tells Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon that he was given a new (and currently unnamed) smartphone this year to replace his increasingly rare BlackBerry. Not that there’s much reason to celebrate. The President notes that his phone is so locked down “for security reasons” that he can’t call, play music, send texts or take pictures. It’s like one of those “play phones” you’d give to a 3-year-old, he says.
A switch wasn’t entirely unexpected, especially when the White House has been considering a move like this for 2 years. While BlackBerry devices are still secure, they’ve been less and less of a mainstay in government. Android and iOS have enough available security measures (such as strict device policies and end-to-end message encryption) that they’re usually up to the job, and sticking to BlackBerry’s proprietary operating system might not be easy when app developers are leaving the platform. Even so, this is more than a little symbolic — when one of the world’s most important leaders is swapping devices, you know the mobile industry has moved on.
Via: BGR, The Verge
Source: The Tonight Show (YouTube)
PayPal recently announced that it plans to pull support for its apps on the Windows Phone, BlackBerry, and Amazon Kindle Fire mobile platforms, as the company doubles down on its new and updated apps for iOS and Android (via CNET). Users on the three operating systems in question have until June 30 to access the PayPal app.
In the blog post announcing the impending sunset of PayPal’s app on Windows Phone, BlackBerry, and Kindle, the company mentions that on each platform users will still be able to access the money transferring service, through various internet browsers on PayPal’s mobile web experience. PayPal said it hopes this move will help it put all its focus on “creating the very best experiences for our customers.”
It was a difficult decision to no longer support the PayPal app on these mobile platforms, but we believe it’s the right thing to ensure we are investing our resources in creating the very best experiences for our customers. We remain committed to partnering with mobile device providers, and we apologize for any inconvenience this may cause our customers.
In addition to internet browsers, those with BlackBerry devices can still send peer-to-peer PayPal payments through the BlackBerry Messenger app, and Outlook users can enable the PayPal add-in feature to deliver payments within the email client.
PayPal’s announcement comes a few days after Microsoft confirmed the company is scaling back its mobile phone business. Both Windows Phone and BlackBerry devices have been in a last place competition behind Android and iOS for the past few years, with Windows devices dropping from 2.5 percent of the worldwide smartphone market share in Q1 2015, to 0.7 percent in Q1 2016. BlackBerry fell from an already-miniscule 0.4 percent to 0.2 percent in the same time frame.
The closing of the BlackBerry, Windows Phone, and Kindle Fire apps will allow PayPal to renew focus on its popular iOS and Android applications, which it hopes to “innovate and make enhancements” to as the digital payment landscape continues to evolve. In the same blog post, the company reminds customers that they will have to update to version 6.0 of the PayPal app [Direct Link] between June 3 and June 30. The updated app includes a renewed priority on sending and requesting money along with a cleaner aesthetic.
Tags: BlackBerry, Windows Phone, PayPal, Amazon Kindle Fire
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