Apple will be hosting free iPhone Tech Talks starting later this month and continuing through December. The talks will be hosted by Apple engineers and technology evangelists in the US, Canada, Europe, and Asia. Apple representatives will discuss and provide guidance in user interface design, game design, code optimization, Core Data, video and audio development, App purchases, push notifications, and Web content integration. They'll also make themselves available to answer questions about software development on the iPhone and iPod Touch.
Welcome to the 411, my Q&A column answering all your questions about cell phones and cell phone accessories. I receive plenty of queries about these subjects via e-mail, so I figured many of you might be wondering about the same things, too. At times, I might solicit answers from readers if I'm stumped. Send your questions and comments to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you prefer to remain anonymous, let me know in the e-mail.
Hi Nicole, I'm thinking of upgrading my mobile phone in the near future. I've been a BlackBerry user for the past couple of years, and I've really given this thing a beating. I have dropped it more times than I can count, sometimes at a great enough velocity to send the battery cover flying well past the rest of the phone. What I am wondering is, how durable are today's touch-screen phones? I've heard that the Pre is particularly fragile. Are the OLED devices any better or worse? Would you recommend someone like me sticking with a non-touch device, since once you crack a touch screen, you are left with an expensive paperweight? -- Jay, via e-mail.
If you abuse your phone that much, I would say touch-screen phones are probably not the best for you. Touch-screen phones usually have a glass surface as the display, which, of course, is particularly susceptible to cracking. You might consider a durable case of some kind to prevent everyday nicks and scratches, though. There are also many manufacturers that make scratch-resistant screen overlays, like the Zagg invisible shields, for example. But if you're truly concerned, then yes, perhaps a more durable phone is in order. You can check out phones like the Sonim XP3 Quest or the Casio Exilim C721, both of which are rugged enough to withstand the elements. Check out our reviews of other durable phones, too, if you want more options.
I am due for an upgrade in October and was seriously considering a BlackBerry Tour on Verizon Wireless. The only thing is that I have big hands and while some people might laugh it makes for an uncomfortable experience on those BlackBerry devices. My question is this: Does RIM have any plans on coming out with a BlackBerry device that has bigger keys? Or am I doomed to never be able to use a BlackBerry device at all? -- Stu, via e-mail
RIM has been pretty consistent with the size and shape of its BlackBerry handhelds, so I don't think RIM will enhance the size of its keyboards any time soon.… Read more
Welcome to the 411, my Q&A column answering all your questions about cell phones and cell phone accessories. I receive plenty of questions about these subjects via e-mail, so I figured many of you might have the same questions, too. At times, I might solicit answers from readers if I'm stumped. Send your questions and comments to me at email@example.com. If you prefer to remain anonymous, let me know in the e-mail.
Thanks to Bonnie Cha for her help with the first couple of questions!
BlackBerry Tour, which is available to both Verizon Wireless and Sprint customers, is under scrutiny for trackball issues that have led some Tour owners to return the smartphones.
The question is: how widespread is the problem?
TownHall Investment Research's David Eller said in a research note this week that he has consulted "experts" who have determined Research In Motion is having a "big trackball problem, especially with the Tour," which was launched in July.
Eller wrote that BlackBerry Tour owners are being forced "to clean the trackball frequently and preferably with compressed air." When they don't clean the trackball, the issues get worse, leading them to bring the device back to the store for repairs or returns.
It has gotten so bad, Eller contends, that Sprint's "return rates have been climbing toward 50 percent."
A 50 percent return rate on a mobile phone would be huge. But Sprint is telling a much different story.
"We experienced a small percentage of early production Blackberry Tour smartphones with trackball issues," a Sprint representative said in a phone interview Wednesday night. "As soon as the issue was identified, we worked closely with our partners at RIM to resolve the problem quickly. Any customer experiencing issues with the Tour should visit a Sprint service and repair center."
Sprint, which said it had never worked with TownHall Investment Research prior to the research note's release this week, said the number of BlackBerry Tour returns it experienced "weren't even close to 50 percent." The Sprint representative said it was "a very small percentage." He wouldn't release exact figures but did say the percentage was in line with other new devices that experience some hardware problems at launch.
But Eller didn't only mention Sprint. In the same note, he wrote that "Verizon is experiencing serious problems with the Tour." He claimed that "Verizon will soon be getting new smartphones from Motorola and Palm that compete with RIM. Verizon is angry about this recurring trackball problem and is telling its retailers to expect strong support for the new Motorola phone."
However, Verizon spokesman Jim Gerace said in a phone call Thursday that the "BlackBerry Tour has the lowest return rate of any smartphone Verizon Wireless is selling. In fact, its return rate is one of the lowest among all the products our company sells."
That said, Gerace did acknowledge that BlackBerry Tour devices did experience trackball issues when they were first released. He said that his company "caught it pretty early and we didn't sell many with the bad trackball."
Gerace offered a biting response yet when I asked him about the accuracy of Eller's contention that Verizon is angry at RIM and will be strongly supporting a new Motorola device.
"That is blatantly not true," Gerace told me. "Just look around at our advertising. Does it look like we're not pushing the BlackBerry Tour?"
RIM did not immediately respond to requests for comment.… Read more
It's that time of year again when automakers are announcing new models left and right. However, as the U.S. auto market begins to fill up with more CUVs, SAVs, and other-UV amalgamations, such as the Honda Crosstour, the BMW 5-Series Grand Touring, and the Toyota Venza, I can't help but notice that fewer and fewer automakers are offering tried-and-true station wagons anymore.
As a lover of nimble vehicles with a lot of trunk for my junk, I can't help but be a little sad to see this turn of events. Sure, we've got a few … Read more
This week, Vlingo, makers of a freemium mobile voice prompt application for BlackBerry and iPhone, released versions of its Vlingo software for the BlackBerry Curve 8520 and Tour.
With it, Curve and Tour owners can join their BlackBerry brethren in searching the Web, launching applications, and dialing with their voice. Voice dialing on the BlackBerry already exists, but Vlingo's ability to begin Web searches and open applications expands those native capabilities.
Since we posted a First Take of Samsung's Omnia 2 back in June, a lot of readers have been asking when Verizon would actually begin selling it. Well, according to the good folks over at the Boy Genius Report (who have a "trusted mole" at Best Buy Mobile), the much-anticipated iPhone pretender will be launching August 23, along with several other phones from different carriers.
Here's the complete list that leaked:Omnia 2 (Verizon) Global AirCard G2 (Verizon) Samsung Rogue (Verizon) LG Chocolate Touch (Verizon) Samsung u450 Intensity (Verizon) Samsung Gravity 2 (T-Mobile) Samsung Solstice (AT&… Read more
In mid-July, Verizon began automatically pushing Slacker Radio to BlackBerry Storm phones. Starting Tuesday, Verizon's partnership with Slacker Radio begins extending to BlackBerry Tour devices in its U.S. network as well.
As part of the agreement, Slacker Radio will hook into Verizon's V Cast store (which itself taps the Rhapsody catalog), giving BlackBerry Storm and Tour users the capability to purchase one of 4.5 million songs.
Slacker Radio's streaming music player competes heavily with similar Internet radio services, particularly Pandora.
In the not-so-distant past, the only way to follow the Tour de France was through TV, newspapers, or radio. People in the U.S. (lucky enough to have cable) would wake up before dawn to watch the race in real time. Then came the Internet, which made stats and information on the race course and teams more readily available. Technology continued to expand, and last year the big advance was Google's Street View of the race.