AT&T has come up with a very clever way to keep New Yorkers’ mobile devices powered up throughout the day. The New York Times reports that AT&T is building 25 solar-powered charging stations throughout New York City that will give wireless users the ability to recharge their phones in places where they can’t typically find electrical outlets. AT&T plans to deploy the stations in public outdoor spaces such as parks and beaches as part of a pilot project between the carrier and the city. Marissa Shorenstein, the president of AT&T’s New York division, tells the Times that her company views the initiative “as a commitment to being a part of the New York community as a corporate citizen but also as a way for New Yorkers to continue to engage with their technology as they continue to consume more and more data.”
HTC One users shouldn’t have to go without the latest version of Android for too much longer. Engadget reports that HTC is still planning to upgrade its flagship smartphone to Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean at some point, although the site says that “users may need to wait a little longer before it becomes available” for download. The HTC One originally shipped with Android 4.1.2 when it launched this past spring, although HTC vowed that users would be able to upgrade to version 4.2.2 at an undetermined time. Given how quiet HTC has been about the upgrade lately, it’s good to hear that the company still plans on making it happen if we don’t have any idea of when it might occur.
It seems like we hear more reports about BlackBerry’s revival every week, although those of us who live in the United States may not see it much in our everyday lives. It turns out there’s a good reason for this: Sales of new BlackBerry 10 devices have reportedly been middling in the U.S. while having much stronger showings in other countries. Barron’s points us to a new research note from RBC Capital analyst Mark Sue, who says that BlackBerry 10 demand “appears to be mixed by region” with “Canada, the U.K. and the Middle East… seeing the strongest BB10 sell-through.” In the U.S., however, Sue says that “BlackBerry has a diminished consumer presence” and is “seeing slower sell-through.” Adoption of BlackBerry in the U.S. may increase as more corporate IT departments upgrade their users to BlackBerry 10, Sue added.
In what appears to be a desperate attempt to clear out inventory buildup, Microsoft will offer its Surface RT tablet to educational institutions at shockingly deep discounts. The tablet is available to schools and universities from now until August 31st starting at $199 for the 32GB model. The touch keyboard cover will add $50 to the price, while the type keyboard cover brings the total up to $289. The Surface RT comes bundled with Microsoft Office Home and Student 2013 RT, which includes Word, PowerPoint, Excel and OneNote, and the tablet runs the Windows RT operating system, of course. Critics have blamed the watered-down Windows RT operating system, the tablet’s limited storage and high price for the Surface’s lackluster sales performance, and this current promotion could be an effort to clear excess inventory.
A new report suggests that LG is preparing a new smartphone that will support “always-on voice commands.” According to Gotta Be Mobile, the company will launch an Android smartphone in 2014 that will allow users to issue voice commands without being required to touch the screen first. The feature, which is built-in to Qualcomm’s quad-core Snapdragon 800 processor, can be activated by saying “hello” to the device. The chip is even capable of learning a device owners voice to prevent others from using the feature. Current voice features such as Siri require users to press a button or enter a specific application before issuing a command. Despite the “always-on” requirement, Qualcomm has said that the feature won’t impact a device’s battery life.
T-Mobile on Tuesday announced the upcoming availability of Sony’s flagship Xperia Z smartphone. The handset is equipped with 5-inch full HD 1080p display, a 1.5GHz quad-core Snapdragon S4 Pro processor and a 13-megapixel rear camera. The Xperia Z is also water and dust resistant, and includes 2GB of RAM, 16GB of internal storage, a microSD slot, a 2-megapixel front-facing camera and Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. The smartphone will be available from T-Mobile “in the coming weeks.” The carrier’s press release follows below.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg met with Samsung president Shin Jong Kyun this week to discuss a potential partnership, Bloomberg reported. Facebook, the world’s largest social networking site, is interested in working with Samsung, the world’s largest smartphone vendor, to help boost its mobile advertising sales. The two companies are also said to have spoken about investing in technology startups. Facebook previously partnered with HTC on the HTC First, a smartphone that was skinned with Facebook’s custom Home software. Facebook Home was largely panned by critics and the HTC First flopped on the market. BGR exclusively reported last month that AT&T was preparing to discontinue the HTC First after only a month on the market.
Industry watchers began talking about an imminent slow-down in the high-end smartphone market back in 2011, but 2012 was still a huge year for pricy smartphones with cutting-edge specs. According to market research firm Berg Insight, sales of high-end smartphones from the likes of Apple and Samsung with retail prices above €400 before subsidies grew to 250 million units in 2012, up from 150 million in 2011. Of those, Berg says 40 million smartphones were flagship phones powered by cutting-edge quad-core processors.
While you may be tempted to install the recently released beta version of iOS 7, you may also be worried that it could brick your iPhone. Never fear: 9to5Mac points us to a new demonstration program from consumer electronics website Recombu that lets you preview iOS 7 without any risk of wrecking your device. How does it do this, you ask? By hosting the entire thing inside your web browser. While this obviously doesn’t give you the exact same experience as actually using iOS 7, it does give you a nice look at the new user interface and lets you see how the redesigned core iOS apps look. 9to5Mac notes that “if you’re using Firefox or Chrome, you can also use your webcam to take pictures in the Photos app.”
The video game industry continued its downward spiral in May. According to research firm NPD Group, retail sales of hardware, software and gaming accessories in the U.S. fell 25% to $386.3 million last month, their lowest level thus far in 2013. Hardware and software sales fell 31% year-over-year to $96 million and $175.1 million, respectively, while sales of gaming accessories declined 6% year-over-year to $115.3 million. Including sales of used games, rental and digitally delivered content, micro-transactions, subscriptions, mobile apps and social network games, consumers spent a total of $787 million on video games in May.
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