Facebook Messenger Update Brings Free Voice Calls to iOS/Android in Canada


fbThe world’s largest social network with over one billion users, Facebook, has made a significant improvement to its mobile Messenger apps for iOS and Google Android, bringing voice clips and free voice calls (VoIP), allowing users to directly talk with their Facebook friends.

The VoIP feature is currently only available for Canadian iOS users, and works over either WiFi or a cellular connection.

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Starbucks Gets Greener with New Reusable Plastic Cups


starbucks-plastic-cupStarbucks Coffee Company is getting a bit greener.

The company announced it would start selling a $1 reusable plastic white cup bearing its logo at all U.S. and Canadian locations starting tomorrow.

Starbucks previously conducted a pilot project testing the plastic cups across several hundred of its stores in the U.S., and initiated at least another two environmentally related pilots for its cups.

Starbucks previously teamed with various partners, including North American paper mills, to test post-consumer cups, including paper cups – but the company has now decided to offer plastic based cups, after several challenges, including lack of demand by paper mills to use the paper cups, and process difficulties in “successfully creating new recycled used cups into fiber suitable for producing new cups,” according to the company.

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Lamborghini Officially Unveils SUV Concept: the Urus


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Lamborghini Urus, Courtesy: Lamborghini Ltd.

The luxury Italian carmaker, Lamborghini Ltd., officially unveiled its new sport-utility concept vehicle, the Lamborghini Urus, in Beijing, days before the annual Beijing auto show.

The Lamborghini Urus is the first real attempt by Volkswagen AG (parent firm) to produce a full production super-car SUV.

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Google Currents Takes on Flipboard, Other Elegant Newsstand Apps


googleThe world’s largest Internet search company, Google, today unveiled a new HTML5-powered news and media aggregator for mobile and tablet devices, Google Currents, that elegantly displays user customized content from a number of sources, including from Google News, Google Reader, RSS Feeds, and even the company’s latest social network Google+.

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Rockstar Games Unveils First GTA V Trailer


gta-vMoments ago, Rockstar Games, the maker of the popular game series Grand Theft Auto, unveiled the first trailer to the forthcoming game, GTA V.

The setting in GTA V is based in Los Angeles (San Andreas), the same location GTA 3 was based on, but GTA V will include multiple areas. We can also see from the trailer that there are animals in the game now and there are different types of planes players could use. This title will be a lot more comprehensive compared to previous titles and we will get a closer look as new trailers are released.

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Google Now Indexes Some Facebook Comments


googleThe world’s largest online search engine, Google, is now indexing Facebook comments that are posted using the Facebook Commenting plugin on websites that use the plugin to power their commenting system.

If you use your Facebook account to post a comment on a website that uses Facebook Comments, your comment (with your name) can now be indexed by Google’s web spiders and will be directly ranked and searchable in Google’s index.

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iPhone 4S Voice Assistant Siri Gets Fully Ported to Previous Generation iOS Devices


iphone-4sAbout a few weeks after the iPhone 4S was announced, hackers have tried to fully jailbreak the new smartphone and to also port the new voice assistant system, Siri, to previous generation iOS devices.

Troughton-Smith was the first person to port Siri to the iPhone 4, but the system was not functional since it required authentication with Apple servers, only the user interface was working.

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Apple Granted “Slide to Unlock” Patent in U.S.


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Apple “Slide to Unlock” patent image

In 2007 at the MacWorld Expo, former Apple chief executive Steve Jobs took to the stage to unveil the iPhone for the first time, and during that unveiling the Slide to Unlock gesture on the iPhone was first shown to the world.

At the time, Jobs touted the feature as a seamless and elegant fix to an otherwise common annoyance: unknowingly pressing buttons on your phone while it is tucked away in your pocket.

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How Research In Slow Motion can get on the Fast Track Again


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stock-chart

NASDAQ:RIMM stock chart with volatility as at September 29, 2011

Demonstration of how Apple’s FaceTime works on iOS devices, which is now also supported with Mac computers.
Source: CNet

Demonstration of Skype for BlackBerry, only available in the U.S. for Verizon customers. International users are not able to use the app to make VoIP calls or chat with Skype friends.
Source: CrackBerry, via YouTube

Adobe engineer demonstrates how developers could use Adobe Air to create a single code base for applications that can be used to run the apps on multiple operating systems.
Source: Adobe, via YouTube

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RIM’s overhauled BlackBerry Bold 9900, includes capacitive display and keyboard.
Source: RIM, via Bloomberg

The Ontario-based BlackBerry maker, Research In Motion LLC (RIM), continues to disappoint investors, as sales and free cash flow to equity significantly declined in the pervious fiscal quarter as a direct result of still not having released a competitive device more than a year after Apple launched its iPhone 4 – in fact, Apple will announce the next generation iPhone next Tuesday.

Investors largely blame top management for being too slow to innovate coupled with a corporate structure filled with intermediaries and lack of accountability that works counter-intuitively in facilitating efficient information flows, decision-making, and innovation.

Despite the significant downturn, the company holds over 2,000 patents, and is the market leader in providing enterprises with the most secure mobile communication and management infrastructure. However, competitors are now able to offer many of those core BlackBerry features in their own products with a better user experience and on a more cost-effective basis.

But, it isn’t too late for RIM just yet.

Here are some of the most important things RIM should consider to remain a going concern.

1. Take back control of your own platform:

Apple has been criticized for being notoriously controlling over what apps work on its iOS platform to the point where competitors have raised anti-trust concerns.

Although being too controlling might not be a good thing (and Apple isn’t as controlling today), at least it provides a very consistent user experience, but the same cannot be said about the BlackBerry user experience.

For example, the U.S. telecom Verizon reached an exclusive deal with Skype to make the Skype VoIP/chat app available exclusively only to Verizon BlackBerry customers. As a result, millions of other international Skype/BlackBerry users do not have practical access to Skype (even in Canada) because of the exclusive deal reached between Skype and Verizon in the U.S. – this would have never happened with any Apple product.
As another example, after you’ve restarted your BlackBerry, have you ever noticed new app installation icons (like mobile commerce app Zoom on Telus) on your menu? That’s courtesy of your carrier that has pushed the apps to your device after reaching a deal with the app makers, in the process re-arranging your menu configuration. Even if you delete the service books, after another restart, those apps re-appear. Could you opt out? No.

2. Focus on the user & innovate

One thing Apple really understands is consumer wants, and as a result, people are willing to camp out in front of stores to buy new Apple products.

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RIM to Challenge Apple FaceTime with New BlackBerry Video Chat


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Demonstration of how Apple’s FaceTime works on iOS devices, which is now also supported with Mac computers.
Source: CNet

A look at the current BlackBerry Messenger service.
Source: RIM

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RIM’s overhauled BlackBerry Bold 9900, includes capacitive display and keyboard.
Source: RIM, via Bloomberg

The Ontario-based maker of the BlackBerry smartphone, Research In Motion Ltd, is working on a new communications platform that will include video chat capabilities directly from BlackBerry Messenger to compete with Apple’s FaceTime video chat service, according to a person familiar with the plans that spoke to us on condition of anonymity because the plans were not yet made public.

The platform will only support QNX-powered BlackBerry smartphones that will include a front-facing camera for video chat.

The delayed release of the first QNX BlackBerry smartphone is likely the result of compatibility issues with RIM’s BlackBerry Enterprise Server platform.

The first QNX powered BlackBerry smartphone will be released near the end of the first quarter of 2012 and will include the new communications platform complete with a front-facing camera, according to the same source. It is unclear if current BlackBerry OS 7 powered devices would support the application with limited functionality.

The latest U.S. mobile subscriber market share data published by comScore puts RIM’s platform market share down at 23.4% in June 2011, compared to Google at 40.1% and Apple at 26.6%, respectively.

RIM’s dated portfolio of devices have pushed consumers to competing platforms that offer a super user experience with push email, which largely explains the decline in RIM’s stock price as well. Consumers and businesses alike have largely been loyal to the BlackBerry platform because of BlackBerry Messenger (BBM).

Apple has announced iMessage, which largely offers the same functionality as BBM, complete with Delivered and Read receipts, for iOS 5 powered devices, which includes the iPad, the current iPhone 4 and the upcoming iPhone 5 that is expected to launch in mid October of this year.

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