HTC launches HTC One series promotional video

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Mar 312012

With the HTC One series of smartphones about to launch, HTC has released a promotional video that focuses not on the devices but on customers and the strength of their recommendations:

Welcome to HTC One, a phone which was designed with the belief that no one person is the same as everyone else.

We believe that one recommendation is a 1000x more powerful than ours, which is why we have always put that one person at the heart of everything we do.

All three upcoming HTC One smartphones (the HTC One X, HTC One V and HTC One S) are coming to Canada as early as sometime in April.

Read more: HTC (via YouTube)

ARM-based smartbooks to return with Windows 8?

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Mar 312012

QualcommDo you remember all the talk about smartbooks a few year back? Similar to netbooks, they used components typically associated with mobile phones (such as ARM processors) rather than PC ones. Initial interest from a number of manufacturers (including ASUS and Lenovo) quickly waned though and the product category faded into obscurity. But it could make a comeback when Windows 8 comes out.

Rob Chandhok, senior vice president at Qualcomm, has revealed that the chip maker is preparing a new 28-nanomete quad-core Snapdragon S4 chipset destined for future Windows 8 laptops. He suggests that such devices will be even thinner than ultrabooks and Apple’s MacBook Air. “We think much lighter than what Intel calls an ultrabook,” Chandhok said.

According to Chandhok, the Snapdragon chipset would support smaller laptops with high-resolution screens, longer battery life and always-on connectivity. They would also offer 4G connectivity and “strong” multimedia capabilities.

Chandhok did not identify the specific manufacturers who might be developing this new generation of smartbooks.

Qualcomm’s S4 Snapragon is also expected to make its way into upcoming Windows 8 tablets. In this space, it will compete against other ARM-based chip makers such as NVIDIA and Texas Instruments.

Read more: PC World

Carrier testing for BlackBerry 10 devices to start this summer

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Mar 312012

Research In MotionA good sign that Research In Motion remains on track to release at least one BlackBerry 10 device by the end of the year came during the analyst call that followed its latest financial results. RIM CEO Thorsten Heins revealed that BlackBerry 10 phones will begin undergoing carrier testing this summer with the first device still on schedule to be released sometime in the second half of the year.

Heins revealed no new details about BlackBerry 10 but added that the new operating system was impressive and showing great potential.

RIM is set to hand out a BlackBerry 10 prototype device called the BlackBerry 10 Dev Alpha to developers at its upcoming BlackBerry 10 Jam event taking place during BlackBerry World 2012. It hopes to spur development of new apps ahead of the launch of new devices.

Windows Phone HTC Locations adds downloadable maps support

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Mar 312012

HTC this week updated the Windows Phone version of its HTC Locations app to support offline maps. Already offered on some of HTC’s Android devices, the feature allows users to download maps and use them when not connected.

Find your way with directions or voice guidance. You can download maps to your phone for offline use, or search and browse online maps when you’re connected.

HTC Locations for Windows Phone

Locations is available as a free download from the HTC section of Microsoft’s Windows Phone Marketplace. It is not available for non-HTC phones.

A similar feature is offered by Nokia on its Lumia smartphones.

Read more: Engadget

AT&T now taking Nokia Lumia 900 pre-orders

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Mar 302012

Nokia Lumia 900AT&T today started to take pre-orders for the Nokia Lumia 900. It is available for US$99.99 with a two-year contract. New customers can also take advantage of AT&T’s current promotion that gives them up a US$100 discount to get it for free.

AT&T will ship pre-orders on April 5th. This should ensure that you have it in your hands a few days before it hits stores.

If you prefer to pick it up on launch day, you will need to wait until April 8th, the same day that AT&T launches the HTC Titan II.

Read more: AT&T

Angry Birds Space tops 20 million downloads in first week

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Mar 302012

Angry Birds SpaceRovio today announced via Twitter that Angry Birds Space has now topped 20 million downloads. It has only been available since March 22nd.

Over 20 Million downloads in our first week… That’s a lot of pig popping! #angrybirdsspace

As with its prior announcement about topping 10 million downloads, Rovio did not provide a breakdown of downloads by platform or free versus paid versions.

I wonder how much of a hit the world’s productivity took this week because of this game…

Read more: Rovio (via Twitter)

New Canadian telecom ownership rules to take effect in June?

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Mar 302012

Earlier this month, Industry Canada announced new foreign ownership rules for the telecom sector. The current rules were loosened to allow foreign companies to take full ownership of a carrier with less than a 10 percent market share. Citing unnamed sources, The Globe and Mail reports they could take effect before the end of June.

The necessary amendments to the Telecommunications Act will apparently be included in the latest budget implementation bill. A draft of the bill is expected in April and will likely pass through Parliament by late June. Should they not be included in the bill, they could be introduced in a separate piece of legislation although this is described as “unlikely.”

Wireless carriers are likely already preparing for next year’s 700MHz spectrum auction. Smaller players will likely require additional capital to bid and the new rules will open up new investment options.

Underlying the necessity to have the new rules in place quickly is next year’s 700MHz spectrum auction. The government has recognized that it is likely to be “highly competitive and capital-intensive.” Smaller players will need the new rules to secure sufficient capital to bid and secure additional spectrum.

Read more: The Globe and Mail

Sony Xperia Android 4.0 upgrades to start in mid-April

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Mar 302012

Late last year, Sony (as Sony Ericsson) outlined Android 4.0 upgrade plans for its 2011 Xperia smartphone lineup. Everything was set to kick off in “late March or early April” but timelines have slipped a little bit with everything now getting underway in mid-April.

Our developers have been hard-at-work to ensure we’re on track and the highest standards are met to deliver you the best possible user experience on Xperia 2011 smartphones with the upgrade to Android 4.0 platform release.

First up will be upgrades for the Xperia arc S, Xperia neo V and Xperia ray. The rollout is expected to take between 4 and 6 weeks.

A second wave will begin in late May or early June. It will cover the Xperia arc, Xperia PLAY, Xperia neo, Xperia mini, Xperia mini pro, Xperia pro, Xperia active and Sony Ericsson Live with Walkman.

Lastly, the still unavailable Sony Xperia S will get its Android 4.0 upgrade in the later part of the second quarter.

Sony warns that Android 4.0, with all its new features, will require more system resources and that performance may be impacted in some scenarios. It put together a closer look at some of the expected changes. For example, it found that many applications use slightly more RAM under Android 4.0.

Sony also warns that “the availability and scheduling of this software upgrade and specific models upgradeable to Android 4.0 will vary by market and carrier requirements.”

Read more: Sony Mobile

Rumour: Google to launch Google-branded tablet store

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Mar 302012

Google AndroidAs rumours of a Google-branded tablet continue to gather steam, a Wall Street Journal report has now added that Google plans to open its own online tablet store to sell such a device. The move is seen as an attempt to accelerate adoption its Android-powered tablets.

While rumours to date have suggested that there will be a single Google-branded tablet, the report adds that the Google tablet store is likely to carry a number of co-branded tablets. Partners such as Samsung and ASUS will be responsible for the hardware manufacture.

Google could also subsidize the cost of future tablets to better compete against Amazon’s low-cost Kindle Fire tablet. It is also expected to throw significant marketing support behind the tablet store.

Google’s move is reminiscent of its attempt to sell the original Nexus One directly to customers. That first attempt resulted in sales of some 100,000 devices in the first three months. Not being the success Google had hoped for, it eventually stopped selling devices directly. Lessons learned are very likely to shape this second attempt.

The Wall Street Journal‘s sources also confirmed that Google would release the next version of Android, codenamed Jelly Bean, around the middle of the year.

Read more: The Wall Street Journal

Weekend fun: Temple Run now available for Android

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Mar 302012

The very popular iOS game Temple Run made the jump over to the Android platform this week. The game is reminiscent of adventure films such as Indiana Jones:

You’ve stolen the cursed idol from the temple, and now you have to run for your life to escape the Evil Demon Monkeys nipping at your heels. Test your reflexes as you race down ancient temple walls and along sheer cliffs. Swipe to turn, jump and slide to avoid obstacles, collect coins and buy power ups, unlock new characters, and see how far you can run!

Temple Run

Additional coins are available through in-app purchases to gain extra powers or unlock various characters.

As addictive as I found the game, I’m hoping for an update to fix some issues, especially as selecting main menu options often crashes the game. Keep running, don’t die and you should be fine though!

Temple Run is available for free for Android devices from Google Play. It is also available for iOS devices from iTunes.

NVIDIA CEO expects US$199 Tegra 3 tablets by the summer

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Mar 292012

NVIDIAThe rumoured US$149-$199 7-inch tablet that Google is expected to unveil soon could quickly find itself in a crowded market. Speaking to the The New York TimesNVIDIA CEO Jen-Hsun Huang expects that similarly-priced Tegra 3-powered tablets will be available from other manufacturers by the summer. Removal of pricier components is driving prices downward very quickly. “We took out $150 in build materials, things like expensive memory,” he said. “At $199, you can just about buy a tablet at a 7-Eleven.”

Huang also admitted to being disappointed with the development of Android. Tablets powered by the upcoming Windows 8 could become a more formidable competitor to the dominant iPad and to the multitude of Android tablets available. “Android hasn’t developed as I’d hoped,” he said. “For many people, though, work is still the primary reason to have a computer. They want Windows to work well, they want Outlook to work well. A tablet running Windows 8 with Tegra could be very nice.”

Read more: The New York Times (Source: BGR)

RIM announces fiscal Q4 and 2012 year-end financial results

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Mar 292012

Research In MotionResearch In Motion today announced its fiscal Q4 and 2012 year-end financial results. It reported Q4 revenues of US$4.2 billion, down from US$5.6 billion the same quarter a year ago. This translated to a loss of US$125 million (US$0.24 per share). Revenues for the year were US$18.4 billion, down 7% from US$19.9 billion over the previous year.

RIM shipped approximately 11.1 million BlackBerry smartphones and over 500,000 BlackBerry PlayBook tablets in its fiscal Q4 2012. It has now shipped a total of 1,350,000 Playbooks. Its subscriber base grew to 77 million users, a small increase from the 75 million it had last quarter.

RIM also expects “continued pressure” on its revenues and earnings through its 2013 fiscal year. In response to a “a desire to focus on long term value creation and the current business environment,” it also announced that it would no longer provide quantitative guidance.

Aside from its ongoing focus on the upcoming BlackBerry 10, RIM’s new CEO, Thorsten Heins said that the company will engage in “a comprehensive review of strategic opportunities including partnerships and joint ventures, licensing, and other ways to leverage RIM’s assets.” Another thing he said he was open to on the analyst call that followed was a takeover bid.

The grim financial news was topped by the revelation that Jim Balsillie, who had recently stepped down as co-CEO, has now also resigned from the board of directors. He was followed by CTO David Yach and COO Jim Rowan who also left the company. The Globe and Mail is also reporting that RIM today laid off a number of executives at the senior vice-president and vice-president levels were layed off today. “Lots of high level people within RIM were let go today. Quite a few. Big shake up.” said a source close to the company.

It appears that 2012 could be as difficult for RIM as 2011 was. Hopefully BlackBerry 10 will allow the company to end on an optimistic note.

Read more: Research In Motion

Updated Bell Android 4.0 upgrade schedule revealed?

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Mar 292012

A leaked upgrade schedule obtained by Mobile Syrup shows what Bell Mobility Android devices will be getting Android 4.0 updates along with estimated release dates. The document adds a number of devices to an already leaked list. Here is what the revised schedule looks like:

  • Samsung Galaxy S II: April 2012
  • Samsung Galaxy Note: April 2012
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1: May 2012
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9 LTE: June 2012
  • HTC Sensation: June 2012
  • HTC Raider: June 2012
  • Optimus LTE: July 2012

Rumoured Bell Android 4.0 upgrade roadmap

Compared to the previous list, it looks like Samsung remains on schedule but that both HTC and LG timelines have slipped.

The document warns that “Support for some features may vary by manufacturer.”

Read more: Mobile Syrup

Microsoft urged to give more design leeway in Windows Phone 8

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Mar 292012

Microsoft Windows PhoneCiting its usual “industry sources,” Digitimes is reporting that handset manufacturers are urging Microsoft to loosen its design rules for the upcoming Windows Phone 8 release. They are looking for more flexibility in modifying applications and the user interface to create greater differentiation between devices. This lack of differentiation has apparently made it more difficult to market devices.

The report suggests that Windows Phone 7.5 sales are hampered by the current hardware specifications and prices as well as its smaller app ecosystem (with about 70,000 available apps) than those of Android (400,000 apps) and iOS (500,000 apps).

The launch of Windows Phone Tango has already widened the breadth of hardware options (by supporting more entry-level devices). Recent rumours also indicate that more hardware options will be supported in Windows Phone 8. Whether Microsoft opens up the user interface more remains to be seen.

Read more: Digitimes

Dell exits U.S. smartphone market (for now?)

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Mar 292012

DellDell this week stopped selling smartphones in the U.S. market. Both the Venue and Venue Pro smartphones are no longer offered and no replacements have been announced. According to a Dell spokesperson, both had reached the end of their lifespans. Dell had already stopped selling the Aero smartphone and the Streak 5 and 7 tablets in the U.S. The move confirms earlier reports that Dell would not release any Windows Phone 7.5 devices.

Dell will continue to sell its smartphones in emerging markets. For example, the Venue Pro is available in India while Streak smartphones and tablets continue to be sold in China.

Dell will introduce new mobile devices in the U.S. later this year. Among those will likely be Windows 8 tablets but it remains to be seen if smartphones will also return. A recent rumour suggested that the combination of Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 (Apollo) could make it easier for PC vendors such as Dell to reenter the market in the future.

Dell’s first U.S. smartphone, the Android-based Dell Aero, was announced in March 2010 and launched that summer. It received a lukewarm response. It was followed up by the Windows Phone-powered Dell Venue Pro and the Android-powered Dell Venue.

Read more: PC World