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Want to see a BlackBerry Z30 play air hockey? Of course you do

BlackBerry Z30 Air Hockey

The Astonishing Tribe, now called BlackBerry Sweden (TAT), is well-known for its inventive mobile technology and design demos. Of course, TAT also knows how to have a little fun when it’s not presenting new UX paradigms. Such was the case one weekend this spring, when BlackBerry Sweden employee Stephen Lau took it upon himself to turn a BlackBerry Z30 into an air hockey champion as part of the company’s 2014 hackathon, using an Arduino board, an old BMW windshield motor, and some help from the GitHub community.

“The physical setup for the project was fairly simple. I found a microphone stand from our music room upstairs and mounted the device above the table. From this vantage point, the BlackBerry Z30’s front facing camera has a view of about 85% of the air hockey table. Another engineer from Malmö and I repurposed the BMW’s windshield motor to be the “goalie.” The windshield motor is hooked to an Arduino with a Bluetooth shield and a relay shield. To ensure that the BlackBerry Z30 was doing all the work, the Arduino is simply programmed to turn each relay on or off via Bluetooth. The device does the actual H bridge logic and the position control… The code itself is quite simple. Since I cheated and made the puck green, I was able to greatly simplify my image processing code. Between each frame, the BlackBerry Z30 locates the puck, calculates the puck’s trajectory and then moves the goalie to try and block it.”



SaskTel and MTS to launch iPad Air and iPad mini with Retina display


Apple launched its latest iPads, the Air and Mini with Retina Display, in October of last year. Apart from being available directly from Apple, many Canadian carriers decided to begin selling the tablets this past June. And, better last than never, regional carriers SaskTel and MTS have announced plans to launch the iPad Air with Wi-Fi + Cellular and iPad mini with Retina display with Wi-Fi + Cellular starting on July 31st.

Both will have the 16GB and 32GB versions available, but the prices are not yet known. It highly likely that SaskTel and MTS will follow the Apple Store prices, where iPad mini starts at $549 for the 16GB model and rises to $849 for the 128GB model. The 9.7-inch iPad Air begins at $649 and rises to $949 for the same LTE-connected storage levels.

Source: MTS, SaskTel


LG G3 priced at $700 no-term, launching August 1st


LG declared last week that the new G3 will start arriving at Canadian carriers on August 1st. This new flagship smartphone will be available at Rogers, Bell, MTS, SaskTel and Videotron and Canadians will only see the Metallic Black colour option available at launch.

LG and the carriers have been secretive on the price points, but we can confirm the no-term cost on Bell, and probably the other carriers, will be $699.95. This is a similar structure that the previous G2 flagship was released at last year and saw the 2-year contract price fall between $179.99 to $199.99. (more…)


Google now taking requests for its first Project Ara developer board

Project Ara

Google plans to begin distributing the first of what will eventually become the building blocks of its modular smartphone platform, Project Ara.

Created at Google’s ATAP division, which is also responsible for the further-along Project Tango (of which we saw a demo at Google I/O), Project Ara promises to offer modular smartphones where people can buy individual magnetic modules that add specific functionality, such as an improved camera or larger battery. (more…)


Uber delivering ice cream today across select Canadian cities


In case you haven’t already figured it out, the ball of excitement in the pit of your stomach is classified as “that Friday feeling,” and it’s happening because the weekend is here. To make things that much more exciting, Uber is hoping to to make your last weekday even better with the addition of on-demand ice cream delivery.

The folks behind the popular taxi-hailing app are once again delivering ice cream to users, and this time the offer is open to users in 144 cities around the world (compared to the 33 cities Uber ice cream served last year). In Canada, Uber has quadrupled the number of cities served by Uber ice cream and will be delivering frozen treats to the residents of Montreal, Vancouver, Calgary, and Toronto. (more…)


Nvidia’s Shield Tablet leaks, promises high-resolution gaming on the go (Update)


Nvidia’s not a company that’s known for the production of consumer electronics, but it has been dabbling over the last couple of years with the handheld Shield gaming console and the Tegra Note 7 tablet. Now it looks like the company is combining the two to form the latest version of the Shield.

Rumors of a new Nvidia-made tablet surfaced back in May, when a mystery device named Mocha showed up on GFXBench.  The specs described a 7.9-inch tablet with a 2048 x 1536 pixel resolution, 2GB of RAM, and Nvidia’s new Tegra K1 SoC. Now, @evleaks has posted an image of what purports to be the Shield Tablet.


Tête-à-Tête: The Enemy of My Enemy is My Friend

Screenshot 2014-07-16 23.13.21

Welcome to Tête-à-Tête, a series where two of our writers converse on interesting topics in the mobile landscape — through chat. Think of it as a podcast for readers.

This week, Daniel and Douglas chat about — what else — the massive collaboration between Apple and IBM, and what implications it may have for enterprise users going forward. (more…)


Custom watch face API coming for Android Wear later this year


Google I/O focused heavily on wearables and developing for devices running Android Wear. The company even gave every developer in attendance a free Android Wear watch and released the Android Wear SDK so devs could get started on Google’s newest platform. What we didn’t get was a way to customize watch faces on Android Wear devices. It sounds like something of a no-brainer, but developers can’t do it — at least not without some trickery involving the current SDK. That should change soon, though.

According to Google, the company is hard at work on a custom watch face API. Right now, creating custom watch faces takes quite a bit of work and involves standalone apps. Google obviously wants to change that, but it’s not exactly easy. Senior Google Developer advocate, Wayne Piekarski, announced this week that the company is working toward making watch faces as easy as possible for Android Wear developers to create, but said that they require some special attention due to the fact that they’re activities running inside other processes. (more…)


Samsung’s Galaxy Note 4 will use UV sensor to offer advice to protect against sunburn


Between our smartphones, apps like MyFitness Pal, and the various fitness trackers available today, our phones are already doing a lot to help us monitor our health. However, it looks like Samsung is going to take things one step further with the as-yet-unconfirmed Galaxy Note 4. Samsung has yet to officially announce its flagship Galaxy Note for 2014, but has confirmed that a new version of the phablet is coming in the second half of this year.

Just last month there was talk that the Note 4 would have a UV sensor. Now, Sammobile is reporting that the sensor will be baked into Samsung’s S Health application and will measure the sun’s UV radiation. It will offer guidance based on the current measurements, hopefully protecting Note 4 users from painful sunburn, skin damage, and melanoma. (more…)


Google pulls in income of $4.26 billion for Q2 2014


It’s earnings call season and Google is joining the slew of companies releasing quarterly financial results this week. The company announced Q2 earnings just after trading closed on Thursday and kicked off an earnings call with investors at 4:30 p.m. ET.

Google’s earnings were below expectations, coming in at $6.08 per share when analysts had expected $6.25 per share. However, Google did surpass expectations as far as revenue is concerned. The company announced $12.67 billion in net revenue this afternoon, well above the forecast $12.39 billion analysts had expected. Gross revenue was $15.96 billion, which represents a 22 percent increase compared to the same period a year ago. All told, operating income for this quarter rings in at $4.26 billion.

Buried in the release is the news that Nikesh Arora, Chief Business Officer and one of the highest paid Google execs, is leaving after a decade with the company. He’s going to SoftBank where he’ll fill the role of Vice Chairman of SoftBank and CEO of SoftBank Internet and Media. Google doesn’t have a replacement for him yet, but Omid Kordestani will lead the company’s business organization in the interim.