Archive for the ‘NEWS UPDATES PRESS RELEASES’ Category

The pocket radar: Get ready for phones that can look through walls

Thursday, April 21st, 2016

How the $149 Walabot is already sparking the interest of developers, who plan to use it for everything from collision detection in cars to honing their martial arts skills

walabot-pocket-radar-image www.freepnonelink.net

The Walabot Pro.
Image: Vayyar Imaging

Fancy looking through walls using your phone? Well soon it will be possible using a handheld radar.

The Walabot is a radar unit that attaches to smartphones and can be used to scan the world around you.

While radar-imaging technology typically costs at least thousands of dollars, the cheapest Walabot will cost $149, thanks to Vayyar Imaging shrinking the necessary technology down to a phone-sized system on a chip.

As proof of what the Walabot can do, the Pro version of the device will come with an Android app that can peer through walls — allowing the user to find pipes and wires, for instance.

“Since Walabot can sense minute changes and very small movement, you’ll be able to see when pipes are dripping and other problems,” said Raviv Melamed, CEO and co-founder of Vayyar Imaging.

The device can see through about 7cm to 10cm of concrete, enough to allow it to look through a typical wall and can penetrate more deeply through less-dense obstacles, such as drywall. Melamed says Walabot can see through almost any material other than metal, which Melamed describes as the Walabot’s kryptonite.

walabot.jpg
An Android app uses the Walabot’s radar to see pipes through a section of wall.
Image: Nick Heath / TechRepublic

But the uses of the technology go far beyond locating a leaking pipe, Melamed foresees a host of applications being developed for the device after it launches at the end of April. These apps will not only take advantage of Walabot’s ability to “see” through solid objects, but to track people and objects in 3D space.

For instance, collision detection and avoidance in vehicles — with a Walabot-connected app letting you know when you get too close to the car in front.

“You could put this on the dashboard connected to your phone and get an alert.”

Smart homes could be another potential use, with the Walabot providing the imaging for an app that watches over people and things. The Walabot attaches to the back of the phone via magnets but it could be attached to any metallic surface in a home, such as a fridge or air-conditioning unit, and paired with a small computer such as the Raspberry Pi. Melamed gives the example of how the technology could help an app spot when an elderly person had had a fall and was unable to move.

“People fall in their bedroom or in the shower and these are places where you cannot put cameras. For example, I would love to have something that tracked my mother or father without compromising their privacy.”

If the Walabot is pointing at a person the device is sensitive enough that it can track a person’s breathing, for instance, letting you know if someone is in a particular room. That person’s breathing is detected by measuring the movement of the person’s chest, which the Walabot captures by detecting radio waves that it bounces off the person’s body. When used in open space, the Walabot can detect people and things over a range of about four to five metres.

The device is even sensitive enough to measure a person’s heartbeat, said Melamed, by detecting blood vessels pulsing under the surface of the skin.

Intelligent cities are at the forefront of the next wave of the Internet of Things. The goals are to streamline communication and improve the lives of citizens. And save a little money along the way.

These are some of the obvious uses for Walabot, but Melamed says “there are so many things you can do with this technology”, which Vayyar Imaging hopes will emerge once developers get their hands on the device.

“You could do a lot of things with Walabot and there are a lot of smart people out there who should come up with some crazy ideas to play around with.”

Developers are already coming up with ideas Vayyar Imaging would never have thought of – for example, someone from Norway plans to use it to check which logs will burn best in their fireplace by scanning them to detect differing moisture levels. Another developer wants to use Walabot to measure the speed of his kicks when he practices martial arts.

“You can just go wild with it,” said Melamed.

One of the most difficult things to see through is human skin, according to Vayyar Imaging. Even though the technology Walabot relies on was originally developed to detect breast cancer, Walabot’s makers don’t recommend using the device to carry out medical examinations.

“Walabot is not a medical tool, it’s mainly for makers to play around with.”

When it comes to safety, the electromagnetic frequency of Walabot’s radar is “close to that” typically used by wi-fi, said Melamed, but “we are sending signals using more than 1,000-times less power than your wi-fi”.

What is the Walabot?

While Walabot’s imaging capabilities may sound similar to those of Microsoft Kinect, the technology works in a fundamentally different way. While the Kinect uses infra-red scanning to map 3D spaces, the Walabot uses radar to detect people and objects. This contrasting approach means the devices have differing strengths. Whereas the Walabot has a higher detection range and can penetrate solid objects, said Melamed, the Kinect can map 3D objects in finer detail, as the resolution of the captured image is higher.

“When you go further away from the Kinect the resolution gets worse. Where Kinect ends, this starts. So these are very complementary.”

To get the Walabot’s radar technology into a low-cost device the size of a smartphone, Vayyar Imaging developed a “very complex” system-on-a-chip for collecting and handling the radar data. This is paired with a set of algorithms that analyse and make sense of the radar data and also compensate for the distortion caused by Walabot’s casing.

Walabot will cost between $149 and $599, depending on the model. The three models differ in the number of antennas and the range of data they make available to developers via an API. Walabot’s four APIs will expose various data derived from the radar signals, such as 2D range and direction tracking and movement sensing, as well as, for the top-end model, offering access to the raw radar data and spatial sensing in 3D.

“We’re trying to provide a full breadth [of data] so people at all levels can play with it,” said Melamed.

The $599 Pro version is aimed at high-end users, such as businesses or research institutions. “Basically it’s like a lab that lets you do whatever you want,” said Melamed, recommending this model for uses such as collision avoidance, robotic guidance and 3D tracking.

The Walabot will last one to two hours on a single charge and the company are also planning to release a version with an attached battery.

When used with its demo apps, the Walabot can be set up quickly, for example, the Android wall scanning app that comes with the Pro version takes about four seconds to be ready to use.

However, despite shipping with this sample app, the Walabot is primarily aimed at developers who want to build their own applications around it. The Walabot connects to computers and phones via a Micro-USB cable. Various SDKs will be available, initially an Android SDK for the C++/Java programming languages, followed by a C#/VB/C++ SDK for Windows and a C++ SDK for Linux.

The first Walabot devices will ship to Europe from the end of April and the documentation for the API launches today. The Walabot is expected to be available in the US from about mid-May, as the Walabot, while having passed FCC tests, is waiting for official certification.

ubytkjt

Henry Sapiecha

NEW IPAD LETS USERS SWAP DATA PLANS VIDEO SHOWS

Saturday, October 18th, 2014

The buzziest feature of the new iPads may have nothing to do with how thin it is or the resolution of the screen. With minimal trumpeting, Apple revealed in its promotional material that it will ship the devices with a built-in cellular SIM card that will allow users to buy wireless service la carte, on the spot. ATT, Sprint and T-Mobile have signed up to take part.

734

Henry Sapiecha

black diamonds on white line

Mobile phone ingnites during the night under girls pillow -Watch video here

Thursday, July 31st, 2014

DO NOT COVER YOUR MOBILE PHONE WITH BEDDING WHILST ON- SEE WHY HERE >>

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Henry Sapiecha

black diamonds on white line

Organic power: Nokia charges Lumia 930 with 800 potatoes and apples Video shows how to do it.

Saturday, July 26th, 2014

nokia-potato-apple-640x0 image www.freephonelink.net

Nokia recently showed off an interesting new way to charge a smartphone, though we don’t imagine it’ll be commercializing the method anytime soon.

Part science experiment, part art installation, and (large) part publicity stunt, the Microsoft-owned mobile firm recently teamed up with multimedia artist Caleb Charland to create an organic charging wall comprising 800 potatoes and apples, among other bits and pieces.

While creating an electrical current from edible items has long been the stuff of science class experiments, Charland’s project took the experiment to the extreme, enabling him to charge a Lumia 930 smartphone in the process.

nokia-potato-apple-project-625x625 image www.freephonelink.net

The installation, which was set up on a busy shopping street in London over the weekend, also used copper wire and galvanized nails to help create the necessary electrical current, which was then fed through to the Lumia handset to bring it back to life.

In case you’ve forgotten the details of your primary-school science class, Nokia’s Rhea Fri explains:“Voltaic batteries are composed of two metals that are connected and suspended in an acidic solution. In Caleb’s installation, the metals were copper and zinc (from the galvanized nails).

“They comprised the positive and negative electrodes – the parts of a battery where electrical current enters and leaves. Meanwhile, the acid from the fruit and vegetables (phosphoric from the potatoes and ascorbic from the apples) provided an electrically conductive solution.”

Charland’s hand-built wall-based circuit of apples, potatoes and metal created an electrical current equating to an average of 20mA and 6 volts, Fri said.

Commenting on his installation, the Maine-born artist said, “This work speaks to a common curiosity we all have for how the world works, as well as a global concern for the future of Earth’s energy sources.”

But possibly the best thing about Charland’s battery is that you can eat it once your device reaches full power. Just remember to take the nails out first.

GUKYGT

Henry Sapiecha

IPHONES & APPLE MACS TO WORK IN TOGETHER MORE IN THE FUTURE SAYS TIM COOK

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014

THE FUTURE OF I PHONES & THE APPLE MAC COMPUTER

Tim Cook says Apple devices are set to work together more closely than ever before image www.freephonelink.net

Harmony: Tim Cook says Apple devices are set to work together more closely than ever before. Photo: Reuters

Connected Apple's Craig Federighi delivers a keynote speech at the Apple World Wide Developers Conference. image www.freephonelink.net

At Apple’s annual developer conference, Tim Cook spoke like an officiant at a wedding.

“This morning we’re gathered to talk about two powerful platforms: OS X and iOS,” he said. “You’re going to see how they’ve been engineered to work seamlessly together.”

As an introduction to Mac’s new desktop operating system—the successor to OS X Mavericks—the matrimonial airs were apt. It’s called Yosemite, and it brings the Mac and the iPhone closer than ever. They can even finish each other’s sentences.

The first thing you’ll notice about Yosemite when it’s released to the public this year is a smattering of iOS-like cosmetic changes. They include translucent sidebars on windows, a single typeface throughout the OS, and “beautifully crafted new icons” on the dock. The star of the show: a new trash can, which proves that Jony Ive can make even garbage look flat.

Cosmetic changes Apple's Craig Federighi shows off some familiar-looking iconography. image www.freephonelink.net

It isn’t the appearance of those icons that’s significant, though. It’s their growing similarity to the ones you see on your iPhone or iPad. Apple’s demos of OS X increasingly involve launching apps like Maps, Calendar, Mail, and Contacts that look and function much the same across the Mac and mobile devices.

Meanwhile, the traditional desktop experience—which involved opening your hard drive and navigating through a hierarchical series of folders via the Finder—appears headed for the skeuomorphic dustbin. Now, when you want to open an application or file that isn’t on the dock, Apple wants you to use a revamped Spotlight search function that appears in the middle of your screen and pulls up results before you’ve even finished typing. Encroaching on Google territory, Spotlight can also search the Web.

In other phone-like developments, Yosemite sports a more prominent Notification Center. It appears to replace the old “Dashboard” function with something called the “Today” view that looks an awful lot like what you see on your iPhone if you drag your finger down from the top of the screen. Among other widgets, it features your calendar, reminders, and the weather for today and the coming week. In a bizarrely old-fashioned touch, it also includes a selection of world clocks.

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The most phone-like thing of all about the new Mac operating system: You can use it to make phone calls. And send text messages. Via a new feature called Continuity, the Mac can pair wirelessly with your iPhone and serve as a sort of desktop-based speakerphone or text-message window. Apple VP Craig Federighi demonstrated the feature on Monday by using his Mac to place a call to the company’s new board member Dr. Dre.

I wasn’t kidding about the Mac and the iPhone finishing each other’s sentences: A neat trick called Handoff will apparently allow you to start typing an email on one and pick it up midstream on the other.

Your progress on one device will be instantly backed up to the cloud and available on all your others.

Desktop operating systems have been gradually converging with mobile operating systems for a few years now—some, like Microsoft’s, less gradually than others. Here, in an interesting role reversal, Apple is following Microsoft’s bold moves with its own, more conservative evolution. No doubt it has observed the pitfalls of Microsoft’s approach: Tim Cook bragged that Apple’s last Mac operating system, Mavericks, has reached 51 percent of all Mac users, while just 14 percent of Windows users have taken the plunge to Windows 8.

The next step for Apple: encouraging more small, third-party developers to build apps for the Mac as well as the iPhone and iPad, so that the Mac App Store becomes as robust as its mobile sibling.

What does it all mean? It’s another step toward a future in which phones, tablets, computers, and even televisions are all just different-sized screens for displaying the same stuff: email, Web pages, apps, documents.

Some devices will remain better for some purposes, of course: a TV for watching a movie on your couch, a phone for sending a quick text on the go, and—with apologies to the Microsoft Surface—a computer for typing. But you’ll likely be able to do just about any of these things on any of your devices.

What’s more, the transition between them will become seamless, with your progress on one device instantly backed up to the cloud and available on all your others. (Think of how Amazon’s Kindle service works today, marking your place in a book on your tablet so you can pick up where you left off on your phone or the Kindle Cloud Reader.)

It isn’t just Apple and Microsoft that are doing this, of course. Right there with them is Google, with its Android phones and tablets, Chromebook laptop, and Chromecast. It should be no surprise that Google is rumored to be working on an Android TV service next. Amazon sees the same future. It hasn’t yet built a computer, as far as we know, but it has the tablet and the TV set-top box and might also have a smartphone in the works.

And, of course, each of these four companies has been pouring efforts into streamlining its cloud services. Apple on Monday announced a Dropbox-like feature called iCloud Drive, which integrates files stored in the cloud with those stored on the hard disk so that both appear in the Finder.

It has long been fashionable in tech circles to predict “the death of the PC.” Microsoft has taken this to heart, so much so that it is now building tablets that directly compete with PCs powered by its own software. But Apple’s continued focus on—and success with—the desktop platform suggests that death is the wrong metaphor.

Mobile devices aren’t killing the personal computer. They’re getting hitched.

FTETR

Henry Sapiecha

black diamonds on white line

APPLE & SNAPCHAT WITH SELF DESTRUCTING EMAILS

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014

SELF DESTRUCTING EMAIL ON THE GO. SNAPCHAT -V- APPLE

Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel image www.freephonelink.net

Apple has announced their latest software update will include self-destructing messages, a move set to send shivers down the spine of Snapchat’s 23- and 25-year-old founders.

While it’s just one of the many updates revealed in the iOS 8 updates announced at Apple’s annual developer conference in San Francisco, this feature has caught the imagination of the tech industry, as well as the legion of Apple users who have Snapchat accounts.

More than 700 million messages and photos are shared on Snapchat each day. These digital missives appear for a total of 10 seconds before disappearing.

Not only are self-destructing messages the core of three-year old company’s offering, selling ad space to their momentarily captive audience is the central pillar of their commercial strategy.

With a host of high profile investors who’ve put more than $US120 million ($130 million) behind the company, co-founders Evan Spiegel, 23, and Bobby Murphy, 25, have a lot to prove.

The company recently turned down a $US3 billion cash acquisition offer from Facebook, with Spiegel declaring he wasn’t interested in short term gain.

“There are very few people in the world who get to build a business like this,” Spiegel told Forbes.

The pair armed their staff with a copy of Sun Tzu’s The Art of War after the freshly rebuffed Facebook launched their photo sharing app Poke.

But they may need to find another major morale booster. Spiegel is weathering a public rebuke after sexist and derogatory emails from his recent college days were leaked, while Apple has 15 per cent of global market share for phone users.

While this may not sound like much compared to Android’s staggering 80 per cent, Apple users are concentrated in countries such as the US and Australia, where Snapchat’s core users live.

As of January this year, Apple users made up 35 per cent of the Australian smartphone market, according to Kantar Worldpanel research.

The company also maintains the entire ecosystem of its products, including approving apps for sale via iTunes.

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Henry Sapiecha

black diamonds on white line

DOES APPLE CONDONE PRE-RELEASE OF ITS LATEST IPHONE DETAILS BY AUSTRALIAN TEEN

Thursday, September 5th, 2013

TEENAGER RELEASE DETAILS OF LATEST APPLE IPHONE PRIOR TO APPLE

A man shows a photograph he took on his iPhone of an Apple store in Beijing

(Reuters) – An Australian teenager who has built an online following by leaking pictures of upcoming Apple Inc products has done it again, showing off the purported fingerprint scanner of the latest iPhone ahead of its expected launch next week.

Sonny Dickson, who lives with his parents in suburban Melbourne, attracted attention in August after he released detailed pictures and videos of the new grey and champagne casing on the upcoming iPhone.

On Thursday, Dickson leaked what he says are the first detailed pictures of the new model’s new “home” button with its rumored biometric fingerprint scanner.

“While the design differences have yet to be technically assessed, they could have a whole lot to do with the rumored biometric fingerprint scanner that numerous pundits and analysts have predicted. In fact, we’d count on it,” Dickson said on his website, sonnydickson.com/

Apple, which zealously controls information of its new product launches in the face of rampant interest from consumers, has invited media to an event on September 10, where it is expected to unveil at least one new model iPhone.

Supply chain sources told Reuters in June that Apple is expected to launch two new models this year, one with new fingerprint technology and a cheaper version in a plastic casing, widely referred to as the iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C respectively.

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Apple plans to dress up the 5C model in a range of five or six colors to differentiate it from the more expensive model that has traditionally come only in black and white, according to the sources.

Apple declined to comment on Dickson’s actions, and he says they have never contacted him about it.

Dickson told Reuters he has five to 10 sources in China who buy Apple prototype parts directly from factory-line workers, which are then sold from $250 to $500.

His sources then send him photos and videos of the parts, which are posted under his name on his website and YouTube channel, which generate ad revenue.

Initially communicating via Weibo, a Chinese microblogging service, Dickson said he and his suppliers moved to a secret website to discuss business.

“I’ve been doing this for many years, so I know what looks fake and what’s not,” said Dickson, a high school graduate with a penchant for luxury accessories such as watches that pepper his photos on the online Instagram service.

“I trust what they say to me – but I also back up the story with other people to make sure what I’m posting is legit.”

Spending 12 hours a day maintaining his website, Dickson said his blog views spiked to a million hits last month, making him A$2,000 ($1,850) from web traffic in August.

“Most of the traffic is from the U.S. – I’ve had 590 hits from Apple and about 53 from U.S. Homeland Security in August,” said Dickson, noting he had tracked IP addresses from Washington D.C. and Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino, California.

While Dickson denies he is breaking any laws, experts are not so sure.

“He may not think or know he’s doing the wrong thing, but a court would say Apple is one of the most tight and restricted IT producers in the world, notorious for locking things down,” said David Vaile, executive director at the Cyberspace Law and Policy Centre at the University of New South Wales in Sydney.

“It’s also possible that generating ad revenue will open him to a wider range of offences.”

Dickson says he would stop if told to by Apple, where he has hopes of working one day.

“I’m not doing it just to piss them off – I still buy their products.”

(Reporting by Michael Sin; Editing by Lincoln Feast and Neil Fullick)

EUU

Henry Sapiecha

www.ozrural.com.au        www.money-au.com

black diamonds on white line

SAMSUNG SOON SELLS SUPER SIZED SMART PHONE

Friday, April 12th, 2013

LATEST SMART PHONE BY SAMSUNG TO BE THE BIGGEST YET

Biggest smartphone ever: The Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3.

If you liked the big screen of Samsung‘s Galaxy Note smartphones, the company has something even more massive coming. The Samsung Galaxy Mega line, which will hit Europe in May, is led by a monstrous 6.3-inch phone – the biggest smartphone yet.

Earlier this year, China’s Huawei unveiled a 6.1-inch phone, but the Galaxy Mega beats it by a fraction of an inch. Samsung’s gigantic phone shows the race to build the biggest smartphone has taken on a similar flavour as the competition to build ever-larger flat-screen TVs in the last decade.

Little brother: The Samsung Galaxy Mega 5.8.

Little brother: The Samsung Galaxy Mega 5.8.

Importantly, the Galaxy Mega phones do not include a stylus (the “S Pen”) – a hallmark of the Galaxy Note line. They’re also not pure tablets, since they’re equipped to connect with mobile networks.

The Mega line is led by the gargantuan 6.3-inch Galaxy Mega 6.3. Samsung oddly didn’t opt for a full HD screen at that size, giving it 720p resolution. It’s powered by a 1.7GHz dual-core processor with 1.5GB of RAM, and runs Android 4.2 Jelly Bean. It’ll be available with either 8 or 16GB of built-in storage, which can be supplemented with a microSD card.

The “little brother” in the line is the Galaxy Mega 5.8, which is even lower resolution at 960×540. The CPU is a 1.4GHz dual-core design, also with 1.5GB of ram and Android 4.2. While the Mega 6.3 can connect to 4G LTE networks, the 5.8 is HSPA+.

Samsung says the Galaxy Mega is for customers who want the “most out of one device” that brings both quality and value. They also sport new capabilities: S Travel provides trip information as well as local guides and resources, and Story Album lets users create albums of events, store moments in a timeline and quickly publish print copies of albums.

The phones have many of the features that exist on previous Galaxy devices, including Group Play, which can share content to other Galaxy phones and tablets on the same Wi-Fi network, and multi-screen capability, which lets the user run and interact with two apps on the screen at the same time.

Also included is Air View, where the screen reacts to a fingertip hovering above it by, for example, opening a drop-down menu or showing preview text in an email.

Samsung says the global launch of the Mega phones will roll out “gradually”, arriving first in Europe and Russia in May. There is no information yet on an Australian or US release

tjygtiu6

Henry Sapiecha

BEST 5 ANDROID PHONES IN THE WORLD AT THE MOMENT

Sunday, March 10th, 2013
THE FIVE MOST PRIZED ANDROID PHONES IN THE WORLD-
AT LEAST FOR NOW
 Samsung Galaxy S3 (AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, Verizon)

1…Samsung Galaxy S3 (AT&T, Sprint,

T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, Verizon)

Pumped with high-performing hardware and creative software features, the Samsung Galaxy S3 is an excellent, top-end phone that’s neck and neck with the HTC One X.

Price: $99.99 (check prices)

4 stars Excellent Editors' Choice - Samsung Galaxy S3 (AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, Verizon) Read full review

Don’t be Naked to the world.

Public WiFi is just that. Public. Every time you use a public wifi hotspot, you’re naked to the world. Hackers can steal your data out of thin air.

Learn more about how to protect yourself on public WiFi.


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Samsung Galaxy Note 2 (AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, Verizon)

2…Samsung Galaxy Note 2 (AT&T, Sprint,

T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, Verizon)

Samsung delivers a powerful, boundary-pushing device that gets a lot right. Yet its complicated features and high price raise questions about its purpose.

Price: $99.99 – $749.99 (check prices)

4 stars Excellent Read full review
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HTC Droid DNA (Verizon Wireless)

3…HTC Droid DNA (Verizon Wireless)

With quad-core power, 4G LTE, a lovely 5-inch screen, and a stunning design, the $199.99 HTC Droid DNA is currently Verizon’s best Android deal.

Price: $49.99 – $599.99 (check prices)

4 stars Excellent Read full review
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LG Nexus 4 (T-Mobile)

4…LG Nexus 4 (T-Mobile)

While the LG Nexus 4 wins on internal performance and user experience, anyone shopping for an unlocked phone should consider a comparable LTE handset first.

Price: $199.99 – $549.99 (check prices)

4 stars Very good Read full review

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Motorola Droid Razr Maxx HD (Verizon)

5…Motorola Droid Razr Maxx HD (Verizon)

Motorola’s fast, stylish Droid Razr Maxx HD offers outstanding battery life, but its camera captures unimpressive images.

Price: $99.99 – $649.99 (check prices)

4 stars Excellent Read full review

VPN Protected Laptop

Cybercrime at Hotels?

Let’s face it, hackers love hotels. And not because they want to get away and sip margaritas by the pool. The huge volume of personal information collected, transmitted, and stored by the hospitality industry has made it a prime target for cybercrime. Learn More

RIM & THEIR NEW PORCHE DESIGNED BLACKBERRY SMART PHONE RELEASE ONTO THE MARKET

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012

BLACKBERRY TO CLAW BACK THEIR ADVANTAGE FROM THE SMART PHONE GIANTS

Research in Motion CEO Thorsten Heins holds up a prototype of the BlackBerry 10 smartphone at the BlackBerry World event in Orlando. Photo: Reuters

BlackBerry maker Research in Motion has shown off advanced new features that will be available on new BlackBerry 10 smartphones – and a new prototype – but analysts are already questioning whether it’s “too late” to claw back market share lost to smart hone titans like Apple and Google.

The sneak viewing of its yet-to-be-launched operating system at the BlackBerry World conference in Orlando, Florida, brings the ailing smartphone and tablet maker a step closer to what some have described as the most crucial launch in the company’s history.

In his first keynote address since being appointed chief executive of RIM in January, Thorsten Heins unveiled the new operating system and gave a demonstration of some of its new features which include a new smart virtual keypad, advanced camera capabilities, and its ability to easily traverse between apps and system setting windows using gestures.

The Porsche designed Blackberry displayed at the Blackberry World Event in Orlando.

The Porsche designed Blackberry (not BlackBerry 10) displayed at the Blackberry World Event in Orlando. Photo: Reuters

But Heins gave no concrete date on when the Canadian company would launch a phone that used the new features other than saying hardware and software would be released “later this year”. “We’re taking our time to make sure we get this right,” Heins said.

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Jefferies analyst Peter Misek, who is in Orlando for the conference, speculated in an interview with the Associated Press that it felt like it was “getting close to being too late” for the BlackBerry maker to recover despite its CEO giving what he described as a good speech.

 

“I just get the feeling that I wish they had it [the new operating system] out already. It’s going to be a challenge for them. When they launch BlackBerry 10 devices the iPhone 5, Windows 8 and all the Android devices will all be out,” Misek said.

In demonstrating the new operating system, Heins also showed off the prototype touchscreen smartphone it was running on. Developers of third-party apps for BlackBerry who are attending its seminar will be receiving a similar device – known as Alpha Dev – with different software (not BlackBerry 10).

The idea behind giving developers the prototype – which boasts a 4.2-inch screen and looks like a smaller version of RIM’s PlayBook tablet – is so that they can create apps that will work on the new operating system before it is launched further into this year.

A grab of the new interface.A grab of the new interface.

But the prototype given to developers was met with a fair chunk of criticism in the tech media – one of the key issues being the fact it can’t make calls or access mobile phone networks.

There is also the fact it doesn’t come with the new operating system unveiled by RIM’s CEO on his prototype device, which ran a beta version of the BlackBerry 10. The device given to developers instead runs something similar to what is powering the PlayBook tablet.

New features

Head of RIM’s software portfolio, Vivek Bhardwaj, described the new virtual on-screen keypad as being tailored to each individual user “just like a glove”. “We’re using things like modelling algorithms to actually learn where you press every single key,” he said.

The new keypad also makes it easy for users to “type fast and accurately”, according to Bhardwaj, and shows suggestions for words on the keypad midway through typing. The words can then be swiped upwards to be inserted into something like a text message.

“This keypad really saves you time,” Heins said during a demonstration.

The advanced camera software, another of the clever features shown off that will be built into the next iteration of the BlackBerry operating system, allows users to go “back and forth in time” after taking a picture to ensure they get the right shot, Bhardwaj said.

He showed an example of a picture taken where one of the subjects had blinked when the photo was taken. He then demonstrated how one could scroll back and forth in time through a variety of shots that were taken when the photo was made, meaning one could choose a photo that was taken where a subject had not blinked, making for a better outcome.

Heins said the feature meant users would “never miss that magic moment”.

The other major feature shown off in a demonstration was a more swifter way of switching between apps running on a smartphone using the new operating system.

“We wanted a user paradigm that is easy and fast,” Heins said, showing how information from documents, emails, calendars, and address books could slide in and out from a smartphone screen’s edges. “It’s all about making things flow.”

Puzzle Master

Companies ditch RIM

The unveiling follows some of the biggest corporate giants in Australia and around the world ditching the Blackberry in favour of Apple and Google-powered mobiles and comes as research firm IDC said that RIM’s share of the global smartphone market had slipped to 6.7 per cent in the first quarter of this year, from 13.6 per cent a year earlier. Last year IDC said RIM’s share of the smartphone market in Australia was only 5 per cent.

Nicholas Ebbeck, commercial sales manager at Dick Smith for Australia and New Zealand, said BlackBerry had recently seen a decline in the corporate market not only because of the iPhone but because of other smartphones too. Ebbeck manages the smartphone contracts for big corporates, including Woolworths (owner of Dick Smith).

“Corporates at the moment are looking at alternatives and I think BlackBerry have always been a small piece of an organisation’s communication [system],” he said. Woolworths executives had recently switched to Apple’s iPhone, he said. IBM Australia and Dell also recently decided to abandon RIM.

Gartner analyst Michael Gartenberg said in an email that RIM’s sneak preview of the new features showed that it was “focused on details that differentiate meaningfully”. But the key to gaining back market share, he said, would be shipping and execution of a new mobile.

John Jackson, an analyst at CCS Insight, told Reuters that Heins’s address was low key but effective in presenting RIM’s vision.

“Mr Heins delivered a decent articulation of what and who RIM stood for while providing a sufficiently tantalising glimpse of some unique BlackBerry 10 features to keep things interesting,” Jackson said.  “This should be enough to at least give the naysayers pause, if only temporarily.”

Ben Grubb travelled to BlackBerry World in Orlando, Florida as a guest of RIM

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Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha