Leaked Blackberry product roadmap shows potential iPad competitor on the horizon

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Date: Monday, April 1st, 2013, 06:45
Category: Hardware, iPad, News

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You may not love and adore Blackberry, but it looks like the company intends to stick around long enough to release a tablet competitor to the iPad.

Per @BB10Leaks and TechnoBuffalo, Canadian manufacturer BlackBerry appears to be readying another go at the tablet sector, as an image purporting to be a leaked product roadmap shows a potential iPad competitor slated for a late 2013 release.

The supposed product roadmap appeared Friday in a tweet and appears to show BlackBerry’s forthcoming products through the second quarter of 2014. In addition to the already released Z10 and its hardware QWERTY keyboard sporting counterpart, the Q10, the roadmap shows a tablet, a phablet, and a phablet-esque device with a hardware QWERTY keyboard of its own.


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The iPad competitor appears to be named the B10. The roadmap gives no details on its dimensions or specifications, but it looks to be a large tablet in the vein of Google’s Nexus 10 and Apple’s full-size iPads. Should the device materialize, it would represent BlackBerry’s second attempt at breaking into the tablet segment.

The Canadian manufacturer previously released a 7-inch PlayBook tablet, meant to provide enterprise-minded customers with a more portable alternative to Apple’s iPad, which dominated the tablet segment then as it does now. Poor software implementation and developer support, though, doomed the PlayBook to sluggish sales even as Apple’s tablet moved to greater heights. Eventually, then-RIM’s inventory of unsold PlayBook units caused the company to take a US$485 million charge.

With the launch of BlackBerry 10, though, the manufacturer has seen encouraging signs. BlackBerry’s most recent financial figures revealed one million Z10’s shipped since the device’s launch in February. That, in combination with drastic cost reductions, led to BlackBerry’s first profitable quarter in some time.

A new tablet would help flesh out the range of devices BlackBerry offers, making it a more capable alternative for customers looking outside of Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android. Speaking earlier in March, BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins said that the company would have to do something “really substantial and meaningful… [and] profitable as well,” if it were to enter the tablet space again.

Should the leaked roadmap prove accurate, BlackBerry’s tablet will see release some time in either the third or fourth quarter of 2013. It would be followed shortly thereafter by a large-screened BlackBerry 10 device, apparently dubbed the U10. That device — likely a “phablet” in the vein of Samsung’s Galaxy Note II — may be the rumored Aristo device that surfaced late last year. Following the phablet’s release, another large-screened model would follow quickly thereafter, this one sporting a hardware QWERTY keyboard much like BlackBerry’s forthcoming Q10.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases Final Cut Pro X 10.0.8 update

Posted by:
Date: Friday, March 29th, 2013, 06:11
Category: News, Software

You can’t knock a good update.

Late Thursday, Apple released version 10.0.8 of its Final Cut Pro X video editing software.

The update, a 1.53 gigabyte download, adds the following fixes and changes:
– Support for Sony XAVC codec up to 4K resolution.

– Option to display ProRes Log C files from ARRI ALEXA cameras with standard Rec. 709 color and contrast levels.

– Resolves an issue where some third-party effects generated green frames during render.

– Resolves performance issues that could occur with certain titles and effects.

– Time reversed clips render in the background.

– Ability to use key commands to adjust Clip Appearance settings in the timeline.

– Ability to view reel number metadata located in the timecode track of video files.

– Mono audio files in a surround project export with correct volume levels.

– Drop zones no longer reset to the first frame of video after application restart.

– Fixes a performance issue which resulted from selecting multiple ranges on a single clip.

– Fixes an issue where the Play Around function did not work properly on certain clips when viewed through external video devices.

Final Cut Pro X 10.0.8 requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.6.8 or later to install and run along with an OpenCL-capable graphics card or Intel HD Graphics 3000 or later, 256MB of VRAM, display with 1280-by-768 resolution or higher and retails for US$299.99

If you’ve tried version 10.0.8 of Final Cut Pro X and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

BlackBerry posts $98 million quarterly profit, sells 1 million Z10 smartphones

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, March 28th, 2013, 06:36
Category: Finance, News

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Maybe there’s some life left in the old girl…

Per AppleInsider, BlackBerry on Thursday said demand for its new flagship Z10 handset helped produce a net income of US$98 million — a minor surprise during a transitional quarter for the previously spiraling company.

While the Canadian smartphone maker, formerly known as Research in Motion, surprised by posting a profit, its quarterly revenue of US$2.7 billion was still seen as a disappointment. In addition, the company only sold 6 million total smartphones, while a million of those were its new Z10.

A poll of Wall Street analysts by Thomson Reuters had forecast BlackBerry to post a loss of about 29 cents per share. In the same quarter a year ago, the company had lost US$118 million.

Still, the Z10 sales were a relatively positive sign for the company’s revamped BlackBerry 10 platform. That device launched a few weeks before the end of the quarter, and only in Canada, the U.K. and United Arab Emirates. It began expanding to the U.S. last week.

While BlackBerry was once a dominant player in the smartphone market, major shifts in recent years have made it a fringe competitor. For example, Apple sold nearly eight times as many iPhones last quarter as BlackBerry sold smartphones in its latest print, demonstrating the gap between the two companies.

As of the end of the company’s fourth fiscal quarter of 2013, which concluded on March 2, BlackBerry had about US$2.9 billion in cash, cash equivalents, short-term and long-term investments.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple now hiring Maps Ground Truth managers in seven countries to help clean up iOS 6 Maps application

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, March 28th, 2013, 05:04
Category: iOS, News, Software

When in doubt, add additional staff to a project.

Per iMore, Apple is increasing its efforts to improve Maps around the world, having recently posted open positions for Maps Ground Truth managers in seven countries. Previously, Apple had only been hiring for these positions in Australia. Among other dutites, managers are expected to be able to do things like provide feedback for their area to enhance maps, according to the company’s job postings web site.
– Testing new releases of map code and data around the U.S.

– Collecting ground truth data to allow for analysis of the impact of potential map code or data changes relative to known truth.

– Utilizing local expertise to provide feedback about U.S.-specific mapping details.

– Evaluating competing products in-region relative to our maps.

Ground truth refers to collecting mapping data locally rather than by satellite imagery or other remote means. We heard about Apple retail employees being asked to help improve Maps back in October. This, however, points to teams of people dedicated to mapping improvements.

Apple has been steadily improving Maps since the launch of iOS 6 in September of last year. Enhancements to Flyover, 3D buildings, and turn-by-turn navigation have been made to locations around the world. There is still a long way to go, but there is no doubt that Apple’s making the effort to fix its mistakes.

Rumor: Apple working on 4K HDTV unit for release in late 2013/early 2014

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Date: Wednesday, March 27th, 2013, 05:16
Category: Hardware, News

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If there rumor’s still alive and kicking, then that says something.

Per DigiTimes, Apple is apparently still working on a TV set. The latest rumor surrounds the actual specifications of the TV set which sources claim will be 4K. For those that don’t know, 4K or Ultra HD offers two times the horizontal and vertical resolution of the current 1080p standard giving it an overall resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels; this would equal four times the resolution of 1080p.

The sources said that Apple and Foxconn Electronics have been in discussions for quite some time in terms of the TV’s mass production schedule, but that Apple has been considering where panel supply for the TV will come from, as Ultra HD TV panel makers, most of whom are based in Taiwan, are expected to be producing at nearly full capacity in 2013 in order to meet demand from China-based TV vendors.

Apparently Apple will look to LG to supply the panels for the 4K iTV and if it can prove its ability to supply the panels in the quantities required, Apple may release the iTV at the end of this year. The iTV is thought to offer not only Ultra HD resolution but also change the way that we interact with our TV sets. It is widely thought that Siri voice control and motion will play a major part in the TV’s user interface.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

T-Mobile iPhone 5 to feature Advanced Wireless Services feature, arrive unlocked

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Date: Wednesday, March 27th, 2013, 05:06
Category: Hardware, iPhone, News

The T-Mobile iPhone 5 will ship on April 12th and feature something different.

Per Engadget, the handset is being reworked straight from the factory to take advantage of the carrier’s Advanced Wireless Services (AWS) bandwidths, a modification that reportedly cannot be done with a simple software update.

Apple confirmed to the web site on Tuesday that the T-Mobile version of the iPhone 5 carries the same A1428 model number as the AT&T iteration, but has AWS enabled thanks to a factory tweak. The change can’t be duplicated by a firmware update, meaning current AT&T iPhone 5 owners must buy the newest version if they want AWS functionality.

As a consolation, the new A1428 model will be factory unlocked when it ships on April 12, the same day as T-Mobile’s launch date for the device. Apple will reportedly be selling the unit at full MSRP prices in a “SIM-in unlocked fashion.” While the handset has been customized for T-Mobile’s AWS bands in the U.S., AT&T customers will be able to take advantage of the slightly revamped model on their 4G LTE network.

The publication goes on to say that Apple is phasing out the older A1428 model in favor of the T-Mobile-compatible version, suggesting that AT&T iPhone 5 units sold after April 12 will support AWS.

T-Mobile announced on Tuesday that it will be offering the iPhone 5 as part of the company’s unsubsidized payment plan, which allows users to pay a low US$99 up front fee for a 16GB version of the smartphone, with the remainder of the unit’s cost spread out across 20 additional monthly payments of US$20.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

T-Mobile to offer iPhone 5 on April 12th, will incorporate $99 upfront payment plan

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, March 26th, 2013, 08:33
Category: iPhone, News, retail

The day T-Mobile customers have been waiting for has arrived.

And you’ll be able to snag an iPhone via T-Mobile on April 12th.

Per AppleInsider, customers of T-Mobile, the fourth-largest carrier in the U.S., will get long awaited access to Apple’s iPhone when the iPhone 5 launches on the carrier’s network April 12.

The announcement was made Tuesday by T-Mobile as part of the company’s “Uncarrier” branding, which seeks to differentiate the carrier from competing providers like AT&T, Verizon and Sprint — all of which already carry the iPhone.

In standing out from the others, T-Mobile is offering a 16-gigabyte iPhone 5 for US$99 up front, with 20 additional monthly payments of US$20. With an April 12 sale date in T-Mobile’s retail stores, preorders will begin April 5.

Joining the iPhone 5 will be the remainder of Apple’s current smartphone lineup: the iPhone 4S and the iPhone 4. As with other carriers, only the iPhone 5 will be compatible with T-Mobile’s new 4G LTE high-speed data network.

T-Mobile officially announced its new LTE network at Tuesday’s event as well, available in a total of seven U.S. markets: Kansas City, Kan., Houston, Tex., Las Vegas, Nev., Phoenix, Ariz., San Jose, Calif., and Washington, D.C.

T-Mobile’s new data plans include 500 megabytes of high-speed online data and unlimited calls and texts for US$50. For an extra US$10 per month, users get 2.5 gigabytes of high-speed data, while unlimited 4G access runs US$70 per month. In addition, users are simply throttled, not penalized, when they go over their data cap.

Bringing Apple’s iPhone to T-Mobile with full support has been no small task. While the carrier counts some two million iPhone customers among its base — with about 100,000 added per month — T-Mobile’s reliance on the 1700MHz frequency for its 3G HSPA+ network proved an obstacle for T-Mobile with regard to Apple’s bestselling smartphone.

The 1700MHz frequency, branded as “4G” but not “LTE”, is unique to T-Mobile among carriers, and allows iPhone users only very slow 2G connectivity. Given T-Mobile’s relatively small customer base, Apple never moved to support T-Mobile’s standard. Instead, T-Mobile has been working to switch much of its network to 1900MHz in order to allow iPhone connectivity. The company will be repurposing its 1700MHz band for 4G LTE.

T-Mobile last year announced a deal with Apple to begin selling Apple products in 2013. Executives from the carrier said in January of this year that customers could expect Apple products on T-Mobile sooner rather than later, floating the possibility of “three to four months” rather than “six to nine.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple to triple franchise stores in India between now and 2015, official Apple Store locations unlikely

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Date: Tuesday, March 26th, 2013, 07:47
Category: News, retail

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Never doubt the power of economic expansion.

Per the Economic Times, Apple plans to triple the number of Apple-exclusive franchise stores in India from 65 to 200 by 2015, but the country still won’t see any official Apple Stores.

Government regulations mean that branded stores must source 30 percent of their stock from Indian companies, something Apple’s yet unable to do. Thus, the stores will sell via franchisees who operate under their own brands, the stores emulating Apple’s look and feel in the process.

These franchisees, who did not wish to be named, told ET that they have been asked to scale up operations in the country as the Cupertino-based company plans to grow aggressively in the country. In addition to increasing the number of Apple exclusive stores, called Apple Premium Resellers, that are owned and managed by 17 franchisees, the company also plans to expand its presence in multi-brand stores, they said.

Some of these plans are said to have been discussed during last month’s Mumbai visit of Hugeues Asseman, Apple’s vicepresident (sales) for Europe, Middle-East, India, and Africa. Asseman met key trade partners and franchisee owners to take stock of the company’s India business and to outline the company’s expansion plans. Apple’s London-based spokesman, Alan Hely, declined comment on the company’s expansion plans.

Apple will increasingly look to expand sales in developing markets as its traditional markets have reached saturation point.

Apple’s high prices relative to local salaries mean the company has historically struggled to sell significant volumes in India, but the introduction late last year of monthly installment plans along with more focus on marketing and distribution saw Apple’s share of the smartphone market jump from 3.9-percent in Q3 to 15.6-percent in Q4.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: T-Mobile USA to announce iPhone today

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, March 26th, 2013, 07:12
Category: iPhone, Rumor

The T-Mobile/iPhone news you’ve been hankering for could arrive today.

Per CNET, T-Mobile has an event scheduled for later today called “Uncarrier” and is expected to announce its carrying of the iPhone under new no-contract, no-subsidy rules, where a customer pays a small fee upfront and pays a monthly charge on top of the service plan to cover the phone costs.

T-Mobile previously deployed their faster 3G/HSPA data speeds on what’s known as AWS, a range of frequencies different than those of AT&T, and not supported by Apple and the iPhone. T-Mobile has been adding non-AWS HSPA support in many markets over the last couple of years. T-Mobile has also been trailing the other networks when it comes to 4G/LTE data speeds, with support for that only beginning this year.

The iPhone’s popularity means Apple can charge the carriers a premium price for it, making it a potentially lucrative but an immediately expensive proposition for carriers. The original iPhone launched on AT&T in June 2007. The iPhone 4 launched on Verizon in January 2011. The iPhone 4S launched on Sprint in October 2011.

If this rumor pans out, the iPhone 5 will launch on T-Mobile USA sometime in the spring of 2013.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple purchases WifiSLAM, attached “indoor GPS” technology for $20 million

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Date: Monday, March 25th, 2013, 07:12
Category: News, Software

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Well, Apple had to buy SOMETHING…

Per the Wall Street Journal, Apple recently closed a deal worth about $20 million to acquire WifiSLAM, a Silicon Valley firm focused on building technology that affords users positioning data while indoors.

The news paper was able to confirm the acquisition with an Apple spokesman, though the company did not give details of the deal or what it plans to do with WifiSLAM’s “indoor GPS” technology.

“[Apple] buys smaller technology companies from time to time,” the spokesman said, declining further comment.

In the report, the publication cited people familiar with the acquisition as saying Apple paid some US$20 million in the recently closed deal.

WifiSLAM is a developer of indoor positioning technologies, which extends location data to the inside of buildings and other structures using Wi-Fi signals. The data can be used by third-party apps to accurately grant handset users positioning data where GPS signals are absent.

The indoor positioning startup is two years old and has already raised funding from angel investors, though the exact amount is unknown. WifiSLAM has a number of ties to Google, including the company’s co-founder Joseph Huang, who was a software engineering intern at the search giant. Current Google employee Don Dodge is also listed as an angel investor.

Apple could implement the positioning assets into its much maligned iOS Maps app as an answer to Google’s Indoor Maps initiative, which leverages crowdsourcing to deliver indoor location information for a number of sites worldwide.

While Apple’s first-party mapping service has seen improvements since stumbling out of the gates in September 2012, many users still prefer to use the Google Maps iOS app, which offers features like Street View and a more robust set of satellite imagery.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.