BlackBerry boasts that its operating system has the ability to run Android apps, although the current version of BlackBerry 10 only works with apps from Android 2.3 Gingerbread and earlier. BlackBerry users are about to get a whole lot more apps to choose from, however, because the company on Thursday announced that BlackBerry 10.2 will finally add support for Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean, which will give BlackBerry users access to apps that are more recent than the builds most Android devices are running. A beta release of the new BlackBerry Runtime for Android Apps and Plug-in for Android Development Tools was made available to developers, but BlackBerry 10.2 isn’t expected to arrive on devices until later this year. BlackBerry previously announced that the update will also bring support for standard Unicode emojis, multiple alarms, level 1 notifications, reminder timers and more.
Acer’s smartphone business is struggling to distinguish itself in the crowded Android market, however a company executive has confirmed that it still has no plans to launch smartphones on another operating system. Despite being a longtime partner of Microsoft, Acer smartphone vice president Allen Burnes explained that Windows Phone isn’t yet a safe bet for the company. In an interview with Pocket-lint, the executive revealed that Acer would like to produce Windows Phone 8 handsets sometime down the road. He praised the platform as a whole, however he explained that Acer could not invest in the operating system until Microsoft built it up more. Burnes noted that app selection was still a serious problem, as was brand awareness. For the time being, Acer remains focused on its Android smartphones.
We’ve known for a while now that Google has been planning to release a sequel to its Nexus 7 tablet, and now we might have gotten our first look at its specs. Engadget reports that specifications for an unknown Asus tablet have popped up on the Federal Communications Commission’s website and show what is likely a 7-inch tablet with a Qualcomm APQ-8064 S4 Pro quad-core 1.5GHz processor, front and rear-facing cameras, a 4,000 mAh battery and LTE connectivity. The two big reasons to suspect this might be the new Nexus 7 are that Asus similarly manufactured the original Nexus 7 and that the mystery tablet’s specs match up with earlier rumors we’ve heard about the device.
Yes, Windows users will get some variation of the Start button back with Windows 8.1, but that doesn’t mean Microsoft’s big update to Windows 8 will be catered more toward traditional desktop users. ZDNet’s Ed Bott has a sharp piece of analysis explaining why the most important features to Windows 8.1 will be geared toward making the operating system run better on tablets than on non-touch PCs. In particular, Bott notes that Microsoft has eased up its display resolution guidelines with Windows 8.1 to pave the way for smaller tablets that can nonetheless be used like traditional PCs with full access to Microsoft Office.
Shares of BlackBerry received another small boost on Friday following an upbeat report about the company’s latest smartphone. Maynard Um of Walls Fargo, per AllThingsD, claims that sales of the BlackBerry Q10 are better than expected and could help the company beat Wall Street’s expectations for the fiscal first quarter. The analyst noted that “channel checks” reveal that the Q10 is off to a good start in the United States and is already outpacing the BlackBerry Z10′s launch. He cites the 76 million worldwide loyal BlackBerry users as the key demographic for the smartphone, adding that it “presents a strong upgrade opportunity.” Societe Generale analyst Andy Perkins issued a similar note on Thursday, suggesting sales of the BlackBerry’s new smartphones were higher than expected. The analyst upgraded BlackBerry from a “Sell” rating to a “Buy” with a target price of $17 per share.
Eat your heart out, Google Fiber. Engadget reports that Sony-backed Japanese ISP So-net has launched Nuro, a new fiber service with 2Gbps maximum speeds that put even Google Fiber to shame. What makes Nuro particularly enticing is its jaw-dropping low price: Engadget says that “when hitched to a two-year contract, web surfers will be set back 4,980 yen ($51) per month and pony up a required 52,500 yen (roughly $540) installation fee, which is currently being waived for customers who apply online.” Japanese prefectures Chiba, Gunma, Ibaraki, Tochigi, Tokyo, Kanagawa and Saitama will be the first to get the service, which will presumably continue spreading throughout the rest of the country.
A study from the American Automobile Association (AAA) has found that using hands-free texting features is actually more dangerous for drivers than making handheld phone calls. The group notes that even while texting through systems such as Ford Sync and Toyota Entune, drivers were found to be more distracted than while listening to music, talking with a passenger and making a phone call. Drivers who used hands-free technology were found to have a slower reaction time and compromised brain functions, which could potentially result in drivers not seeing items right in front of them such as stop signs and pedestrians. As cars become smarter and more connected, the AAA is calling for the government to set limitations on “new and potentially dangerous mental distractions built into cars.”
European officials are investigating Google over allegations that it has anti-competitive deals in place with various smartphone vendors, the Financial Times reported. Microsoft and Nokia reportedly claim that Google is forcing Android vendors to delay the launch of smartphones based on competing operating systems. The commission will also investigate whether the company has agreements in place that require its manufacturing partners to preload Google’s services on their devices. A Google spokesperson denied the allegations, citing the open source philosophy of Android. A company spokesperson explained to the Financial Times that “handset makers, carriers and consumers can decide how to use Android, including which applications they want to use.”
Shares of BlackBerry rallied on Thursday on reports that the company’s new smartphones are selling better than expected. Andy Perkins of Societe Generale said, per Barron’s, that his “checks” revealed that the BlackBerry Z10 and BlackBerry Q10 sold better in the fiscal Q2 than Wall Street expected. The analyst estimates that BlackBerry will pull in $3.7 billion in sales with a profit of $0.06 per share, up from earlier estimates of $2.7 billion. Perkins forecasts that the Z10 sold more than 4 million units, however Q10 sales aren’t expected to be as high. He explained that despite positive reception, the Q10′s limited availability and recent release means sales were likely closer to a million units, which would give BlackBerry a grand total of more than 5 million BlackBerry 10 devices sold in the past quarter. The analyst upgraded BlackBerry from a “Sell” rating to a “Buy” with a target price of $17 per share, up from $13. BlackBerry’s stock closed 6.49% higher at $14.44 per share.
Just one day after BGR speculated that Apple might do away with the “Black & Slate” color option on its next-generation iPhone and replace it with a color combination that includes a light gold-colored metal, a new report claims a gold iPhone 5S is in the works. Japanese Apple blog Macotakara, which has a mixed track record when reporting details about unannounced Apple products, claimed on Thursday that Apple’s iPhone 5S will come in a new gold color. The report states that this new color will be offered in addition to the white and black iPhones, however, rather than in place of the black model. In the same report, the blog also noted that Apple’s upcoming new cheaper iPhone model will ship with several new color options pulled from Apple’s bumper cases.
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