Despite tepid successes with a few short-lived products, many Android OEMs have not been able to translate smartphone successes to the tablet market. HTC and LG have bowed out altogether, while Sony keeps plugging away, hoping for a hit product.
Samsung appears to be the exception to the rule, fashioning a line of tablets up to the task of competing with Apple’s iPad, considered to be the best option on the market today. Google is still struggling to figure out Android’s tablet strategy, but that hasn’t stopped companies like Samsung from releasing a bevy of slates ranging from enormous to pocketable.
The Galaxy Note 8.0 is the best Android tablet currently available, as it manages to be both relatable to the iPad’s best traits while taking advantage of Android’s inherent flexibility. Its integrated S Pen and Wacom digitizer makes for a stunningly responsive surface on which to write, draw and paint, and its screen size makes upsized phone apps appear less awkward, while still playing nice with native tablet apps.
Below are the top Canadian mobile stories from the past incredibly busy 7 days (BlackBerry Live, Google I/O, Samsung GS4 milestones, and Nokia’s new product launches). In addition, we’ve compiled a list of notable news from around the web.
- TELUS to acquire Mobilicity and its 250,000 subs for $380 million [Read here]
- Nokia Music officially launches today in Canada [Read here]
- BlackBerry winning back Canadians, market share now at 13.5% [Read here]
- BBM for Android and iOS launching this Summer, will be free [Read here]
- WIND adds 11,281 subscribers in Q1, APRU of $27.60/month [Read here]
- Apple: Over 50 billion apps have been downloaded [Read here]
- BBM for iOS and Android will only work on smartphones at launch [Read here]
- Mophie juice pack for HTC One Review [Read here]
- BlackBerry Q5 Hands-On [Read here]
- WIND Mobile and Mobilicity launch the Galaxy S4 [Read here]
- BlackBerry Messenger’s last stand is good for everyone [Read here]
- Google announces 900 million Android activations, 48 billion app downloads [Read here]
- CWTA issues warning about using 3rd party Android VoIP apps [Read here]
- Samsung expects to pass 10 million Galaxy S4 sales next week [Read here]
- White Nexus 4 and Android OS 4.3 rumoured to launch June 10th [Read here]
- North America makes up 57% of worldwide LTE connections [Read here]
- Rogers revamps monthly rate plans [Read here]
- Bell loses 911 class-action lawsuit: “consumers have won an important victory” [Read here]
- Nvidia Shield Hands-on (Video) [Read here]
- Contest: Win a TELUS Galaxy S4 [Enter here]
Around the web:
- Sprint closes deal to buy US Cellular spectrum, adds 420,000 customers [Engadget]
- Android 4.2 coming to One soon, “Senseless” edition later this summer? [AndroidAuthority]
- The Design of the BlackBerry 10 Experience, UI and Device [BerryReview]
- “Law of diffusion of innovation” explains why Windows Phone is about to take off [WMPU]
Stitcher Radio has been trying to convince its users that there is no need to open any other app when aiming to get all your audio-related media. Over the past few years, the company has steadily improved its mobile apps, both on iOS and Android, to offer podcasts, news clips, comedy spots and any other audio content.
Its latest iOS version, 5.3, brings some widely-requested features to the table, including a hands-off Car Mode with large icons and no distractions. This is aimed at users who have already queued up a stream of content and are just looking for the bare minimum functionality while occupied in the car.
The app also has a new front page, which gives a visual breakdown of relevant news based on your most popular or listened-to sources. Also improved is the app’s archives, so if you’re looking for back episodes of your favourite podcast, they’re much easier to find in chronological order.
There are a number of other improvements to playback, too, including a new sleep timer and faster initial program startup.
Stitcher has repeatedly proven it is a venerable choice when it comes to audio content on mobile. The ability to, as the name suggests, “stitch” multiple audio programs together from various categories — music, comedy, news, etc. — means you’ll never run out of things to listen to while commuting or on the go.
Download Stitcher Radio for iOS.
Justice Ron Veal of the Supreme Court of the Northwest Territories has dropped the hammer down on Bell by declaring a victory for thousands of customers who were charged non-existent 911 fees.
The class-action lawsuit originally started in 2007 by Yellowknife residents James and Samuel Anderson, but over the years has spread to include over 30,000 Bell Mobility customers in Northwest Territories, Nunavut and Yukon Territories. Bell charges customers a $0.75/month fee for 9-1-1 service, however, in the North residents are required to dial a 7-digit number to receive RCMP emergency assistance because 9-1-1 service isn’t available in the area. Hence why the lawsuit was originally started – paying for services you don’t receive. The original estimation of the lawsuit was pegged at $6 million, but according to the Globe, Judge Veal said Bell was liable for the false charges, but denied the plaintiffs requests for extra punitive damages. The second stage of the trial will determine how much Bell will pay out, early estimation are between $1-million and $3-million.
Keith Landy, the plaintiffs lawyer, says the lawsuit “was a David and Goliath struggle in which the consumers have won an important victory.”
Fitbit has made no bones in the past about how difficult it has been to integrate low-power Bluetooth integration with select Android phones. At issue here is not the presence of Bluetooth 4.0, which most modern Android smartphones have, but the software stack required to communicate with third-party accessories like the Fitbit One and Flex.
Every new phone we add Bluetooth 4.0 sync support for requires custom development. While many of the new phones coming out have Bluetooth 4.0 hardware, many of them don’t have the necessary software for third party apps (like ours) to access this hardware. Google recently announced that they will be standardizing support for Bluetooth 4.0 in an upcoming Android OS, which will allow us to sync to Android phones with Bluetooth 4.0 more easily in the future. We’re continuing to work with phone manufacturers and with Google to try and get sync support for additional devices.
That being said, they’ve added support for the Galaxy S4, which is the fastest-selling Android phone of all time, and is on its way to be the platform’s most popular device. The company, which promises to launch its Fitbit Flex band in Canada later this summer, also says they’ll be adding more Android support when Bluetooth 4.0 support is standardized “in an upcoming Android OS.” This new Android release improves activity graph and sleep recording functionality, too.
Download Fitbit for Android.
Via: Fitbit Blog
A few nights ago in San Francisco, Pebble’s founder and CEO Eric Migicovsky recounted the last year of Pebble’s existence. He admitted there were many things that could have been done differently, and if he had to do it over again he’d lower the number of colour choices, but is otherwise enthused for the future of wearable technology.
The Kickstarter project that aimed to raise $100,000 resulted in $10 million and nearly 100,000 backers, many of whom are just now getting their Pebbles. Now that the hardware is in the wild, Pebble is iterating on its promise to make the smartwatch accessible to developers, both from and to a smartphone. With this latest firmware update and a new SDK open to devs, two-way communication — to and from the watch — has been enabled. PebbleKit now lets developers create interactive watch faces, multiplayer games, abilities to check-in to Foursquare or Facebook (theoretically) and other features that require two-way interaction.
The company has also raised $15 million as it endeavours to hire more engineers and developers to improve the product’s software experience, and hopefully work out any remaining kinks in the hardware manufacturing. The 18-person team is expanding, and though they no longer claim Waterloo as their home, Pebble, and Migicovsky, is still very much a Canadian success story.
The Canadian Wireless Trade Show is back for the 3rd time and its looking like the best lineup yet. Several key mobile execs are making presentations, namely from Samsung Canada, Visa, MasterCard, and Google – so hopefully there will be some good stats on Android in Canada and mobile wallet/payment adoption.
Since this is a trade show there’ll be the usual booths from mobile businesses promoting their products and services. This year the cast of players so far includes Gadget Guard, Incipio, iShieldz and Targus. Admission to the CWTS is free and it’s taking in Toronto on September 25th and 26th.
Check it out here at CWTS
BlackBerry stunned the world, plus brought truth to years of rumours, when they announced their popular messaging service BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) would be coming to iOS and Android this Summer. The app will be free and is “subject to approval by Google Play and the Apple App Store.”
During his keynote presentation, Thorsten Heins, BlackBerry CEO, stated that “at launch we’ll support iPhones running iOS 6 or higher and Android devices running Ice Cream Sandwich or higher.”
This statement led to some questions about tablets. Vivek Bhardwaj, Head of the BlackBerry Software Portfolio, cleared up the air by saying BBM for tablets will not be in the cards at launch, but possibly later. “At this point it is iOS and Android, and that’s iOS phones running iOS 6 and higher. Smartphone is our real focus and again it comes back to what BBM is. If you look BBM and the engagement and the activity, it’s because it is mobile, because people are on the go.”
Tablets, such as the iPad and the pletora of Android tablets, are certainly mobile and probably something BlackBerry is holding in their back pocket when they release all the BBM features. When BBM for iPhone and Android smartphones becomes available, users will be limited to only messaging and groups. “Later on” BBM for iOS and Android will have BBM Voice, BBM screen share, and BBM Channels.
Heins capped off his BBM notes by proudly saying “I cannot wait for the day when all of our BlackBerry fans can send BBM invites to all their friends on other platforms. They’ve asked us for this for years. The time has come now for everyone to experience what we all know. BBM is simply the best messaging and collaboration platform in mobile today.”
There are over 60 million active BBM users around the world.
The growth of LTE connections has quickened in the past year, increasing nearly 50% from the end of 2012 to the beginning of 2013. North America makes up the majority of these 100 million connections, making up 57% of worldwide LTE market share.
Thanks to mature networks from AT&T and Verizon, as well as Rogers, Bell and TELUS, North America’s LTE growth is quickening, especially as it expands to lower-cost devices.
According to 4G Americas, a trade organization based in Bellevue, Washington, there are 22 commercial LTE networks deployed in North America, facilitating an increase from 38 million connections at the end of 2012 to an amazing 57 million in May 2013.
Despite making up just 12.7% of the global LTE rollout, North America is the fastest-growing segment of the technology’s user base, something that can be traced back to an early adoption scheme and enough available spectrum to avoid having to re-farm existing 3G networks.
4G Americas expects there to be 133 million LTE connections worldwide by the end of 2013, increasing to 400 million by 2015 and nearly a billion by the end of 2017.
LTE coverage in Canada has grown just a bit more. Rogers and Manitoba regional carrier MTS have announced their LTE now reaches more customers.
If you’re a Rogers customer then you’ll notice their LTE Max branded network – which uses dual frequency 2100 MHz and 2600 MHz bands – is now live in various parts of Canada:
- Muskoka, Ont.
- Sault Ste. Marie, Ont
- Brooks, Cochrane and Canmore, Alta.
- Sydney, N.S
In addition, Rogers LTE network has been expanded in Moncton, New Brunswick. Over in Manitoba, MTS has followed through on its commitment to launch LTE in six more communities. These first couple locations are now live, both Grand Beach and Victoria Beach can access faster data speeds.