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Onward Mobility prepping to launch 5G BlackBerry smartphone based on Android
by Chandrakant Isi
Onward Mobility, which owns rights to BlackBerry smartphones, has launched a 'Pre Commitment Program' aimed at engaging with potential customers. As per Onward Mobility, the next BlackBerry handset will break cover in North America and Europe. However, the company has been tight lipped about the launch date.
Those who sign up for this program will get a chance to influence the product's features and functionality. These chosen few will also be kept in the loop for the device availability details on a priority basis. On top of that, those who pre-order the device will receive the handset before the general launch. In addition to fans, the registration is open for corporate and retail partners who may wish to secure thousands of handsets.
The registration page doesn't shed light on the upcoming device's specifications. However, based on the information scattered across Onward Mobility's website, it seems the new BlackBerry phone will retain BB's signature physical keyboard and support 5G connectivity. On the software side of things, it will be based on the Android operating system.
Onward Mobility and BlackBerry inked the agreement back in 2020. With the 'Pre Commitment Program' going live, there's a good chance the phone launch won't be too far. The next BlackBerry handset will be manufactured in collaboration with FIH Mobile Limited, which is a subsidiary of Taiwanese company Foxconn.
By Jay Bonggolto
OnePlus Nord 2 5G officially breaks cover, but you can't buy it in the U.S.
by Jay Bonggolto
After releasing a drip-feed of information about its new mid-range smartphone, OnePlus today formally unveiled the Nord 2 5G in all its glory. The device is the successor to last year's original Nord, and it offers a number of improvements from its predecessor.
As previously revealed by the company, the Nord 2 5G is powered by MediaTek's Dimensity 1200 AI processor. It's a high-end chipset announced earlier this year, featuring a top-tier Cortex-A78 core clocked at 3GHz as well as three other Cortex-A78 performance cores running at 2.6GHz and Cortex-A55 efficiency cores clocked at 2.0GHz. The chipset also brings improvements for imaging, display, and gaming experience.
Camera-wise, the Nord 2 5G boasts a 50MP AI triple camera setup at the back, with the main shooter featuring Sony's IMX766 sensor with optical image stabilization, confirming previous rumors. The camera module also consists of an 8MP ultrawide-angle shooter and a 2MP mono lens. The camera is also capable of shooting videos of up to 4K resolution at 30fps. On its front, there's a 32MP selfie snapper with Sony IMX615.
The device sports a 6.43-inch Fluid AMOLED display with a 2400 x 1080 resolution, HDR10+ support, and a 90Hz refresh rate. Inside, it packs a 4500mAh battery with support for Warp Charge 65 that OnePlus claims can charge the phone to 70% in 15 minutes.
The latest Nord will have limited availability, however, as it will be released only in Europe and India. Those living in Europe and the UK can pre-order the device today at £399 for the 8GB/128GB memory variant and £469 for the 12GB/256GB variant, available in Gray Sierra and Blue Haze. In India, pre-orders are also open and the phone retails for ₹29,999 (approximately $402) for the 8GB/128GB variant and ₹34,999 (approximately $470) for the 12GB/256GB configuration with the same color options as in Europe. Another color variant, Green Woods, is available only in India.
By Usama Jawad96
Apps for Microsoft Teams meetings are now supported on mobile
by Usama Jawad
It has been particularly tough navigating the remote working landscape in the ongoing pandemic for a number of organizations and individuals. While apps such as Microsoft Teams have enhanced online collaboration, there is still work to be done. Now, Microsoft has announced that Teams apps built for meetings can now be utilized in Android and iOS.
Teams offers apps and activities like Kanban boards, actionable dialogs, and surveys to engage users between pre-, in-, and post-meetings experiences. This capability was announced for desktop PCs back in November, but was not available on mobile devices until today. Now, it is being rolled out for Android and iOS devices as well.
The mobile experience is similar to desktop. Meetings apps can be accessed from a tab before or after the meeting. If you want to interact with apps during the meeting, there is an in-meeting panel you can utilize for this purpose. Furthermore, Microsoft has introduced a new notification for all activities that take place during the meeting. You can click on "View" on the notification banner to drill down to granular details about the activity.
This parity with desktop will certainly please those who actively utilize their mobile devices for work. That said, Microsoft has cautioned that apps will need to be attached to the meeting via desktop by the organizer themselves. Furthermore, not all apps are available for mobile devices currently, but third-party developers will be optimizing their apps for mobile use on a rolling basis. Users looking to utilize this functionality can do so by updating to the latest version of Teams on Android and iOS - version 2021031702 and 2021032701 respectively.
By Usama Jawad96
Google extends deadline for integration of its billing system in Android apps by six months
by Usama Jawad
Back in September 2020, Google stated that it would start forcing developers to use the Google Play billing system. Naturally, this means that developers who utilize it also have to pay a revenue cut to the company for every transaction of a digital good made via their app. This policy has always existed but was clarified last year, with Google cautioning that all developers have to be compliant with it by September 30, 2021. Developers who have still not made progress on this front will be pleased to know that the firm has now extended this deadline by six months.
Google says that its billing system is extremely secure and offers a seamless experience for both developers and end-users. While most developers already utilize it in their offerings, those who don't were required to transition to the company's billing system within one year after the original announcement in September 2020. Google highlighted that this policy has always been there, but the language in its documentation was further clarified to indicate that it applies to all applications which allow the purchase of digital goods.
Google has received feedback from developers that due to the ongoing pandemic, it has been very difficult for engineering teams working remotely across the globe to develop and issue updates to their apps to make them compliant with the company's policy. These issues have been highlighted both by small and major developers.
As such, Google is now extending the deadline until March 31, 2022, for those who opt for it. It is important to note that this extension will not kick in unless developers appeal for an extension via the Help Center. Although the implication is that the deadline has been extended by six months, Google says that it will review each appeal on a case-by-case basis.
Interestingly, while Google's policies regarding billing are similar to Apple's, Microsoft, on the other hand, does allow developers to integrate third-party billing systems into their apps provided that they meet certain requirements, and it does not even take a revenue cut from purchases made using these alternative payment methods.
Huawei launches HMS Core 6.0 for global app developers
by Paul Hill
The Chinese smartphone maker, Huawei, has announced the launch of HMS Core 6.0 aimed at global app developers. The new update introduces new capabilities and updates other services and features that were present in the last version. Some of the main areas of improvement in HMS Core 6.0 are in media, graphics, and telecommunications.
On the media front, HMS Core now provides AV Pipeline Kit with preset pipelines for super-resolution video, sound event detection, and more. Huawei says that these improvements will improve app compatibility as well as power consumption issues. The firm has also added 3D Modelling Kit which offers features like 3D object reconstruction and material generation. To generate 3D models, phones just need to have an RGB camera installed.
HMS Core 6.0 also includes an update to Computer Graphics Kit which introduces a volumetric fog feature that utilises dynamic lighting and shadowing fog effects on mobile devices. This will make indoor scenes seem more realistic in next-gen games, especially those belonging to the cyberpunk genre. To use this feature, a device must support Vulkan.
The final major update is to Network Kit, which has been updated to include AI-powered network environment prediction. This allows network parameters to be optimised based on service network access rules and differentiated network requirements. Users should notice a faster mobile experience as this update reduces apps’ network latency by around 20%.