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BlackBerry confirms BBM app for Android and iPhone – but rivals await

Move to make messaging app available on rival platforms will lead to clash with WhatsApp, Viber and other ‘over the top’ apps

Blackberry Messenger

BlackBerry Messenger: coming soon to iPhone and Android devices. Photograph: Bloomberg/Getty Images

 

BlackBerry is making its Messenger (BBM) real-time messaging service available on Apple’s iPhone and iPad and Google’s Android platforms from summer, abandoning the platform exclusivity that had for years been a crucial tool in attracting and retaining users.

Announcing the move at the company’s developer conference, software vice president Andrew Bocking said: “the time is definitely right for BBM to become a multi-platform mobile service. BBM has always been one of the most engaging services for BlackBerry customers, enabling them to easily connect while maintaining a valued level of personal privacy. We’re excited to offer iOS and Android users the possibility to join the BBM community.”

Chief executive Thorsten Heins called the move “a statement of confidence”. BlackBerry says that BBM has more than 60 million monthly active users, with more than 51 million using BBM for an average of 90 minutes per day. Its customers collectively send and receive more than 10bn messages daily, with almost half read within 20 second of being received, it said.

The free app will be available once approved for Apple’s iOS 6 software released last year and devices running Android 4.0 or higher, released in late 2011.

BBM was once seen as an iconic messaging system which drew both teenagers and business people onto the BlackBerry platform because messages could only be swapped between its own handsets. But with its installed base of users falling, the company has had to look for ways to generate revenues from its software expertise.

The move pitches BBM into a fight with other cross-platform data-reliantapps – known as “over the top” services – such as WhatsApp, WeChat and Viber. On Apple’s iOS, it will put it up against the company’s own iMessage app – though that does not work across different platforms.

But BBM is now one of the smallest cross-platform apps, with WhatsApp claiming more than 200 million active users, and WeChat around 190 million.

In the planned initial release, iOS and Android users would be able to experience the immediacy of BBM chats, including multi-person chats, as well as the ability to share photos and voice notes, and engage in BBM Groups, which allows BBM customers to create groups of up to 30 people.

BlackBerry says BBM provides customers with a high level of control and privacy over who they add to their contact list and how they engage with them, as invites are two-way opt-in. iOS and Android users would be able to add their contacts through PIN, email, SMS or QR code scan, regardless of platform. Android users would also be able to connect using a compatible NFC-capable device.

Samsung to consider freeing up memory in Galaxy S4

After a BBC consumer affairs show investigates complaints that the 16GB phone actually gives consumers just half that amount, Samsung says it is “reviewing the possibility” of freeing up more space.

Samsung’s Galaxy S4
(Credit: Josh Miller/CNET)

 

Samsung is changing its tune regarding Galaxy S4’s storage after the phone appeared on the BBC’s Watchdog, saying it will try to squeeze its myriad features into a smaller space, freeing up more memory for apps.

The BBC’s consumer affairs show investigated the Android powerhouse’s claims of 16GB of storage, after users complained the phone has only half of that available.

“We appreciate this issue being raised and we will improve our communications,” a Samsung spokesperson told CNET UK. “Also, we are reviewing the possibility to secure more memory space through further software optimization.” The company had previously defended its position, saying the lack of space was necessary to provide owners with “more powerful features.” The S4 is more feature-packed than ever before, although in our review we questioned whether many people would ever use even a fraction of them.

 

Facebook launches app for Google Glass

The app allows users to upload photos from Google’s computing eyewear directly to their Facebook timelines.

Google Glass users will know they’ve shared a photo on Facebook by receiving to a notification in their Glass Timeline of the photo with a Facebook icon in the corner.
(Credit: Facebook)

Facebook on Thursday launched a version of its app for Google Glass, becoming the latest technology company to release software for the computing eyewear.

The app allows users to upload photos from Google Glass directly to their Facebook timelines. They also can add optional photo descriptions, just by saying the information out loud. Right now, users can’t tag people in photos from Glass, but they can tag the pictures after sharing them by going on a computer or mobile device.

“We look forward to exploring Facebook experiences across new types of mobile devices,” Facebook’s Erick Tseng said in a blog post. “This is only a first step.”

The news came in conjunction with Google’s developer conference, Google I/O. The confab made headlines around the world last year with the surprise debut of Google’s wearable, Internet-enabled Glass via an extreme sports spectacle. Since that time, Google has released Glass to a limited number of people in its “Explorer” program, and Google co-founder Sergey Brin has said that pricing and availability of Google Glass will be announced by the end of the year.

Google Glass
(Credit: Sarah Tew/CNET)

While Google’s Internet-connected eyewear has generated a lot of buzz, it’s still too early to know if it will take off. The glasses currently come with few apps and limited functionality, but many more developers are working on creating software for Glass. Twitter on Thursday also said it has created an app for Glass. And Google confirmed it has video streaming and a development kit for Glass in the works.

To access Facebook via Glass, a Glass user has to first enable Facebook for Glass by visiting the MyGlass page. Users also must set up sharing contacts via MyGlass. After taking a photo, the user must tap the touchpad to select “share” and then decide who to share it with — only the user, friends, or the public.

Users receive a notification — the photo with a Facebook icon in the corner — in their Glass Timeline to tell them that they’ve shared the picture on Facebook. And they can add a description by tapping on the photo, swiping to select “add description,” and then speaking the information out loud. Users see a preview of the description and can choose whether to post it.

Originally posted at Internet & Media

Nokia Lumia 925 announced with aluminum unibody, OIS camera

Nokia just announced its third phone in five days, its new WP8 flagship called Nokia Lumia 925.

It’s similar to the Lumia 920 and Verizon’s Lumia 928 in that it packs an 8.7MP sensor with Optical Image Stabilization and f/2.0 aperture. The flash is a regular LED flash, no xenon here.

The phone packs two IHF microphones that record distortion-free sound for the 1080p videos even in loud environments.

Nokia preloaded the Lumia 925 with the Smart Camera app – it features several modes including burst mode (10 shots at 5MP), Best Shot (picks the best of the burst), Action Shot (Sequence shot on the HTC One, Drama shot on the Galaxy S4) and Motion focus (adds motion blur to static objects, as if you’re tracking the moving object with the camera). You can also remove moving objects and pick the best face for each person.

The screen is 4.5″ in diagonal and has WXGA resolution – that’s 768 x 1280. More importantly it’s an AMOLED with ClearBlack and Gorilla Glass 2, instead of an LCD. Unsurprisingly, the Qualcomm chipset of the Lumia 925 packs a dual-core Krait processor at 1.5GHz with 1GB of RAM, which is the best that WP8 currently supports.

The phone has an aluminum frame around the side, while the back is polycarbonate. The body is just 8.8mm thick and weighs 135g – much more acceptable than the Lumia 920. Inside it is a 2,000mAh battery, same as the Lumia 920 and Lumia 928. The battery is non-removable and there’s no wireless charging out of the box – you can enable that with a thin charging cover.

The built-in storage is 16GB (a downgrade from the 920 and 928) and there’s no microSD card slot to expand it.

The Nokia Lumia 925 will be available in Europe (Vodafone Germany, UK, Italy and Spain) and China (China Mobile and China Unicom) this June for €470 ($610) and will come to the US later on T-Mobile.

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