Apple (AAPL) is no stranger to ditching technologies when it deems them to no longer be useful. The company dropped the floppy disk for a CD-ROM drive on the first iMac and most recently has shifted to building MacBooks and iMacs without any physical disc drives. In his first televised interview on NBC’s Rockcenter with Brian Williams, Apple CEO Tim Cook revealed that he has “ditched physical keyboards” now that he spends 80% of his time using his iPad “authoring email” and “working on things.” Cook says he’s gotten quite good at typing on the screen and advises people to trust auto-correction as it’s “quite good” — though it’s a feature we still blast iOS for some five years after the first iPhone launched. But what does it mean when the boss of the country’s most valuable company and the most revered technology company in the world doesn’t even use physical keyboards anymore? Perhaps the “post-PC” era will become mainstream sooner than we thought. More →
Following the much delayed BlackBerry PlayBook 2.0 update, the tablet finally has a native email client, other PIM apps and a larger selection of apps thanks to its Android player. Research in Motion is now looking to further boost interest in its debut slate, and it has announced the BlackBerry Mini Keyboard for those users looking for a physical keypad option on top of the virtual one. The accessory retails for a lofty $119.99 and is available for pre-order starting today, with shipments going out on March 23rd. The concept of the keyboard is similar to the competition. It includes a multitouch trackpad for browsing, a keyboard for easy input and a battery that last up to 30 days. Unlike the ASUS Transformer Prime, RIM’s accessory does not have a docking feature and is just a carrying case with an integrated Bluetooth keyboard. RIM’s video demonstation follows below. More →
The popular third-party software keyboard Swype has been updated to support Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. Swype is an app that uses word prediction in combination with swiping motions to allow users to quickly write emails, text messages, tweets and anything else that requires text input. The software is still not available in the Android Market, unfortunately, and it must be downloaded from the company’s website. Though the software is currently in beta stages for Android 4.0, users have yet to report any major issues. More →
ASUS has confirmed that the company is planning to announce a tweaked version of its tablet-smartphone hybrid at Mobile World Congress on February 27th in Barcelona, Spain, according to Modaco. The Padfone — which combines a smartphone, tablet and netbook all in one — was first unveiled at the Computex trade show in Taiwan last year by ASUS chairman Jonney Shih. The innovative device is expected to feature Ice Cream Sandwich and Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon S4 processor. The PadFone consists of a 4.3-inch handset that has the ability dock inside a 10.1-inch tablet, which in turn can be docked into the Transformer’s (or possibly Transformer Prime’s) keyboard. When the device debuts next month, it is rumored to be redesigned with a slimmer form factor, and the the physical buttons seen on a PadFone prototype have reportedly been removed in favor of Ice Cream Sandwich’s on-screen controls. More →
We briefly met up with Samsung in San Diego to check out the new Samsung Stratosphere, Verizon Wireless’ first 4G LTE device with a full slide-out QWERTY keyboard. The keyboard was comfortable to type on without adding too much bulk to the device. The back of the phone looks a bit plain — it is just matte plastic, and we think there’s definitely room for improvement in the style department. Samsung equipped the device with a 4-inch Super AMOLED screen that displays beautiful colors and very deep blacks. It is equipped with a feature set that is a bit below that of the current Galaxy S II devices, such as a 1GHz Hummingbird processor, a 5-megapixel camera, a 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera and Android 2.3 Gingerbread. We’ll reserve our final judgement for the review but we’re already fawning over the 4G LTE capability, sturdy hardware and solid keyboard. Be sure to check out the gallery below.
Swype released the latest version of its popular software keyboard exclusively for Sprint Nexus S 4G users on Tuesday. Swype now supports new app gesture features, shortcuts, dictionary management, automatic noun capitalization and more. Users, for example, can now move from the Swype Key to “t” and then “w” to automatically launch Twitter. The shortcuts feature allows you to select all by moving from the Swype Key to “a,” and cut, copy or paste using similar gestures. We tested all the new additions on a demo Nexus S 4G with the Swype preloaded, and we liked the new features but we still can’t get the hang of typing quickly with it just yet. It’s unclear when the latest Swype iteration will be available for other Android handsets, but Nexus S 4G owners can update immediately. Hit the jump for a quick video of the new features in action. More →
Apple is expected to add a backlit keyboard to the new MacBook Air models when it refreshes the laptop line, AppleInsider reported on Tuesday. The Cupertino-based firm used to offer the feature on its high-end MacBook Air laptop, but oddly omitted keyboard backlighting during the last refresh. Apple is expected to take the wraps off of its new models during the week of July 21st, and the notebooks are rumored to offer the new Thunderbolt I/O port in place of a DisplayPort, OS X Lion, and Intel’s new Sandy Bridge processors. Other rumors have also suggested that Apple will offer 400MBps SSD modules. We’ve heard that Apple has an overnight shift planned on July 13th, too, so we’re still keeping our fingers crossed that an announcement could come even sooner. More →
An image of a new Android-powered Motorola handset for Sprint has supposedly been leaked. The device, which could be a follow-up to the Motorola XPRT, packs a full QWERTY keyboard and a rounded form factor that reminds us much more of a BlackBerry than any Android device we’ve seen to date. In fact, it reminds us a little too much of the Curve and the authenticity of the image has definitely not been confirmed. Either way, rumor has it the phone will run Android 2.3 Gingerbread and may offer support for Sprint’s 4G WiMAX network. We’re definitely digging the compact form factor of the device, so hopefully this is something that comes to fruition. More →
T-Mobile already has the Samsung-built Sidekick 4G, but it may have another up its sleeves. Images of a new Android-powered Sharp phone have been leaked by Unwired View, and its slide-up screen form factor and small rounded keys definitely resemble a Sidekick. The device is rumored to offer a 3.2-inch display with an HVGA resolution, Wi-Fi, GSM/CDMA connectivity, and GPS, but other specs remain in the dark. Sharp has built plenty of Sidekicks before, so we wouldn’t be surprised to see it get in on the Android game and re-enter the U.S. market. We just hope it has more beefy hardware muscle to make any future offerings even more compelling than the already solid Sidekick 4G. More →
T-Mobile announced on its Twitter account that it will offer the Samsung Sidekick 4G and T-Mobile G2 for free on its website tonight from 9:00 p.m. to 3:00 a.m. PST. Customers will need to sign up for a new two-year T-Mobile USA contract to take advantage of the deal and, presumably because T-Mobile sales reps didn’t feel like making it a late night, this is an online-only deal. If you’re looking for one of the best keyboards on an Android phone (Sidekick 4G), or a pure vanilla Android experience (G2), and access to T-Mobile’s 4G network, this is a deal you’ll definitely want to take advantage of. More →
We’ve already seen a few images of Motorola’s unannounced DROID 3 smartphone — expected to hit Verizon Wireless in the near future — but now a few new specs have surfaced, too. According to TechnoBuffalo, the DROID 3 could launch in June and it will offer a 4-inch display with 960 x 540 qHD resolution, a dual-core processor, HDMI-out, and an 8-megapixel camera that’s presumably capable of recording HD video. Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear that Verizon will outfit the DROID 3 with support for its 4G LTE network, so it’s going to be more of an incremental update to a family that’s already starting to feel a bit stale. More →
Motorola has produced several iconic handsets during its storied existence. The DynaTAC, the Vader, the v60 and of course, the Motorola RAZR. What Nokia did for the candy bar-style mobile phone in the 1990’s, Motorola did for the flip phone in the early 21st century. Thin, sleek and stylish, the RAZR was initially brought to market in early 2005. The handset was light, easily fit in the pocket and packed a flat, backlit keypad that proved itself to be a formidable text messaging obstacle. The device was so popular, in fact, that just over 1-year ago we were still talking about the handset — the RAZR3 — before it was scrapped by Moto in favor of Android-based smartphones. During its four year reign of terror, where it retailed for nearly $200 on-contract, over 110 million RAZRs were sold by dozens of carriers the world over. We still have an AT&T V3 lying around BGR HQ for posterity sake, and although its utility is diminished, the handset’s mystique remains. How about it: how many of you cell phone junkies were proud RAZR owners?
BGR’s Throwback Thursday is a weekly series covering our (and your) favorite gadgets, games, and software of yesterday and yesteryear.
A patent filing from Apple has sparked rumors of a new, low-profile keyboard. Designed with perforated keys, the input device would provide its end-user with tactile feedback by forcing air through the perforations in the key-tops. According to a report by Patently Apple, the “Advanced Keyboard Feedback System” will pair the punctured keys with a pressure and proximity sensor. When a user’s finger is detected to be just above the key in question, a light stream of air will be emitted to provide pre-press feedback. “As a twist to this patent, Apple goes on to describe that flowing of air could also be implemented in a virtual keyboard, wherein each key location is merely a defined region on a solid surface, where contact with that surface region will generate a defined input signal,” reads the report. The implication there being that Apple could include this technology on touchscreen devices like the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. The problem Apple is trying to solve is delivering adequate input-feedback on low-profile keyboards while continuing to make thinner and lighter keyboards — usually, feedback is provided by the downward travel of a depressed key. Apple is known for patenting dozens of technologies that never make it on to mainstream products; it is unclear if this filing falls into that category as well. More →