OS 4.3 features listed on RIM’s knowledgebase, Nov 08

BB LogoThe sharp-eyed Ronen has picked up on a knowledgebase article which outlines all the big changes in OS 4.3. For anyone not lucky enough to have picked up a new BlackBerry 8130, this should give you all the info you need.

Some of the big changes we’ve heard of before now, but here’s the round-up: enhanced SureType; wireless software updates; sending voice note by e-mail, PIN and IM; phone bass and treble adjustment; security options for locking long-distance and specific phone numbers; local search and route saving on BlackBerry Maps; video MMS support; streaming media; Media Player playlists; video recording; Bookmarks and History viewable on Browser launch; and finally, syncing address books and calendars with integrated e-mail, such as Yahoo! and (presumably) Gmail if you’re on BIS 2.4. Pretty awesome stuff!

Review: bThink, Nov 08

Are the built-in Tasks not quite enough for you? bThink is a tiny upgrade which could give you what you’re looking for.

Weekly Contest: The Big G, Nov 02

Google’s stepping up to the plate with an open platform to help develop mobile devices and software. Why isn’t RIM on board? Got any ideas? Drop a comment and win 3 themes from Bplay!

bPlay gets ballin’, Nov 08

bPlay’s just released a new basketball game, NBA 2-on-2 SLAM by Magmic alongside a new Basketball theme. Anyone serious about their basketball would do well to pick both of these up. I just noticed that they also offer discounted bundles now, so if you grabbed a sports jam ringtone too, you’d be getting 10% off. Not a bad deal at all. It might be easy to say gadget geekery and playing sports are mutually exclusive, but it turns out NBA players love their BlackBerrys too.

Review: bThink, Nov 08

bThink LogoThis week, we’re looking at bThink from Perceptus, a light program for your BlackBerry designed simply to provide snoozable reminders with direct access to associated contacts’ e-mails and phone. BlackBerrys come preloaded with plenty of personal information management apps, like Tasks, Calendar, and Memopad - that really covers the big bases, and should take care of most people’s needs. That’s why bThink caught our eye; it was trying to bring something new to the PIM table. In a nutshell, bThink lets you create e-mail, call or blank reminders which link up with your Address Book and Tasks.

Let’s see how busy this bee is…

RIM stock hits 52-week high, Nov 08

Stock marketRIM’s stock hit a wooping $137.01 yesterday, marking a new peak for our buddies in Waterloo. A big part of the rally could be attributed to Credit Suisse for upgraded their old neutral rating and RBC Capital Markets for bumping their target price up to $180 from $120. You know, we’d love to do more stock news, but seems like every time we check out the ticker, it’s nothing beyond “yep, RIM’s doing awesome”. C’mon RIM, give us poor bloggers something catastrophic to work with, here. As of this morning, RIMM sits at $130.50.

UPDATE: RIM’s stock seems to be taking a pretty hefty drop today, despite the high yesterday. It’s down to 117.08… I guess this is the dive I was asking for, huh?

bbPlaces lets you place your BlackBerry pictures, Nov 08

Josep’s been testing out the beta for a new geotagging project called bbPlaces, which lets you directly upload pictures taken on your BlackBerry to Google Maps, where your GPS unit will place the photo where you took it. bbPlaces even provides a rating system for when you visit photos of places uploaded by others, as well as directions on how to get there in the first place. Although it might be pigeonholed to the 8310 and 8130 (the only BlackBerrys with both camera and on-board GPS), and the app is natively written in Spanish, it’s still great to see stuff like this getting developed. The site includes English instructions, so give it a shot and let us know how it goes.

RIM sues over LG Black Label, Nov 08

RIM is bringing the hammer down on LG’s Black Label, consisting of their Chocolate series of phones, due to supposed trademark violation. Their pitch is that the similar names could confuse customers into unwittingly buying the wrong device. A similar situation arose from the Blackjack in February, which ended peaceably, so there’s no reason to think that this won’t as well. Still, does that look like a BlackBerry to you? If it was another smartphone with a full QWERTY keypad that was called Black-something, I could see RIM getting uppitty, but it’s hard to sympathize for customer who confuses a Chocolate for a BlackBerry.

Magmic teams up with Vivendi, Nov 07

Maybe you’ve heard of Vivendi? The guys who own Blizzard and Sierra? Well, they’re hooking up with BlackBerry games developer, Magmic, to port over some classic titles, like Leisuresuit Larry and Spyro. Tack that on to the growing list of licenses that Magmic can pull on to pump out games.

BlackBerry Digital Pen gets thumbs up from RIM, Nov 07

Solutions in Motion, producers of a page-scanning pen which wirelessly transmits data to your handheld, have announced that they’ll be shipping a BlackBerry-specific product to the Great White North. We scoped out something similar awhile ago, but this new one from Solutions in Motion is getting RIM’s stamp of approval. The package comes with text recognition software which can save what you’re writing as a Word document, as well as integrated options for e-mailing right off the page. As cool as the Digital Pen is, it ain’t cheap…

“The Digital Pen for Blackberry will be available for $439 with a limited-time $40 rebate. In the box is the pen, a 128-page digital notebook, replacement ink, docking station with computer hook-up, travel charger, and information on the [Solutions in Motion]-based subscription that is required for use. The first year subscription will cost $101, after which it is available for as low as $130/year. Additional digital notebooks can be purchased through SIM.”

Packt releases BES reference, Nov 07

IT reference publisher, Packt, has recently released BlackBerry Enterprise Server for Microsoft Exchange, for all you budding BES admins out there. This volume goes over installation, user management, security, background information and more. If you’re working on a different platform, it’s worth your while to keep an eye on Packt for a Lotus or GroupWise reference soon. If BES adminning is your bag, you can pick this chunk of literature up over here.

Final Opera Mini 4 released, Nov 07

After a short third beta, Opera Mini 4 is now ready for your mobile browsing needs. The classic tabbed browsing remains, but the Opera Link function introduced in the last beta should be an interesting new feature to try out. It will let you sync your bookmarks between desktop and handheld, as well as providing web-based access to your favourites for when you’re not using Opera. Thanks, ikasen!

RIM settles stock options scandal, Nov 06

GavelYesterday was the day that RIM was to step up to the Ontario Superior Court to put the stock option issue to bed. Last we heard they had amended their plans and announced the settlement. The whole thing blew up back in March, when Jim Balsillie stepped down as RIM’s chairman because of the unfair way in which executives were receiving stock options. The Ironworkers Ontario Pension Fund demanded upwards of $100 to make reparations, but Jim Balsillie and Mike Laziridis have both forked up just $2.5 million each in order to offset legal costs, in addition to the $5 million already paid. Wow, way to haggle. Under the new agreement, individual directors won’t be able to get stock options so this kind of thing doesn’t happen again.

Some Australian BlackBerrys down, Nov 06

AustraliaOptus customers down under might be having some connectivity issues today. An official statement has confirmed the issue:

“I can confirm that some Optus customers have today been experiencing disruption to their BlackBerry data services,” an Optus spokeswoman said. “Technicians have now resolved the issue and we have been progressively restoring customers to normal service from approximately 1pm (AEDT) this afternoon. Optus apologises for any inconvenience caused to its customers by this disruption.”

Any of our readers still having problems?

BlackBerry 8120 hits India, Nov 06

Airtel 8120Another Pearl hits the streets today: the BlackBerry 8120 through Indian carrier Bharti Airtel. The Pearl will be joining Airtel’s recently released 8820 in offering Wi-Fi BlackBerryage to the masses. This one is going with a steely titanium finish, versus O2’s blue release yesterday. India’s a huge growth market, as we’ve seen in the past, and bringing the newest devices over there means good business for RIM. Thanks Stefano!

BlackBerrys to track patient symptoms, Nov 06

StethoscopeA study is being launched by Firestone Institute for Respiratory Health at St. Joseph’s Healthcare in Hamiolton, Ontario where patients suffering from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease will record and transmit their daily symptoms via BlackBerry. The handhelds will not only allow patients to communicate with health care professionals straight from home, but it should also allow for earlier intervention when situations worsen. The data gathered from the study could also help in determine trends in the disease.

“We also are hoping to pinpoint with more precision the high-risk peak periods of the year,” he said. Johnston said there are signs that the period between Christmas and New Year’s is a particularly risky period for COPD patients. Festive and family events, stress and different eating patterns may all have an impact on the severity of symptoms, he said but little is currently known about the causes of the Christmas epidemics of COPD.”

CA offers role-based BlackBerry administration, Nov 06

Josep has tipped us off to Mobile Device Manager by CA, which aims to automate mundane and repetitive tasks, such as locking and unlocking devices, and setting up IT policies. By attributing BlackBerry security profiles to particular roles in a company’s Microsoft Active Directory, a lot of the bare-bones administration can handle itself.

* Leverages BlackBerry Enterprise Server IT policies to deliver over-the-air (OTA) management from a web-based interface, including device lock/unlock and data wipe to prevent access to data on lost or stolen devices
* Automated role-based device security and configuration enforcement and lifecycle management leveraging Active Directory data
* Automatic disabling of devices upon employee termination
* Customizable workflow for approvals, escalations, event management, and support processes
* A Bulk Addition feature that enables administrators to quickly roll out large numbers of devices

Windows Mobile and Symbian versions of the software are also in the works.

BlackBerry 8120 lands in the UK, Nov 05

O2 has just released the BlackBerry 8120 in the UK today, packing Wi-Fi along with the usual new Pearl goodies (3.5mm headphone jack, OS 4.3, sideloading microSD slot, SureType) in a fetching blue case. There’s been a lot going on with the 8130 lately, but we can’t forget the long-lost cousin overseas, eh? Are any of you holding out through the hypestorm for the Wi-Fi version to land here in North America? Any of our UK readers can pick one of these up over here.

BlackBerry Professional Software debuts, Nov 05

RIMRIM announced today a new software bundle for small and medium businesses who are administrating up to 30 BlackBerrys on your existing e-mail server. Combined with BlackBerry Home Server, BlackBerry Unite!, and the full-blown BlackBerry Enterprise Server, RIM is setting up a nice sliding scale for all levels of enterprise users. The BlackBerry Professional Software will cost you $499 for every 5 users, which you can get for free if you buy 5 BlackBerrys before the end of November. More information over here.

Features behind the jump.

OS 4.3 helps wipe your BlackBerry clean, Nov 05

Mr. CleanJibi has scoped out a new feature in OS 4.3 which allows for a clean wipe of your BlackBerry back to factory settings. Handy, simple, and most of all, it resets all of your BES security restrictions. Given, all those IT policies get reinstated once you hook up to your BES again, the new JavaLoader command does make reselling a lot easier. Presuming you have the Java Desktop Environment installed, all you have to do is pull it up in your command prompt and type in “javaloader -u resettofactory”. Easy as pie.

Desktop Manager 4.3 available for download, Nov 05

BB Logo Now that the BlackBerry 8130 is available toting OS 4.3, the accompanying Desktop Manager is up for grabs. Vodafone is hosting the download (which is interesting since they don’t even have the 8130 yet), but the forums are reporting some slow transfer speeds, likely due to the monster truck of traffic rolling over the servers. New features include…

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UPDATED: Telus 8130 hits online store, Ottawa gets in early, Nov 02

Canadians rejoice! Telus has opened up the BlackBerry 8130 for sale, $199.99 with a three year hook in your cheek. Side-loading microSD slot, 2 mpx camera, EVDO compatibility, GPS, A2DP, and comes bundled with not only the lovely new Facebook app, but also Pocket Express. A solid release combined with Telus’ generally rosy third quarter report paints a pretty picture for this carrier’s near future. Props to BlackBerry Sync for nailing the dates and deets.

UPDATE: With a bit of smooth talking, yours truly got the Telus folks here in Ottawa to crack open their shipment early. The rep I talked with hadn’t touched a BlackBerry before, so she was just about as excited as I was to give it a shot.

Pics, video and impressions behind the jump!

32 GB microSDHC card due mid-’08?, Nov 02

Pinstack vet cp6169 has managed to get some play time with the BlackBerry 8130, where he managed to get the scoop on some tidbits, including bass and treble adjustments for calls, harder keypad, as well as Bluetooth and camera improvements. The hidden gem among all of it was the hint that 32 GB microSDHC memory cards are due out by the middle of next year. For those not keeping track, we’re now up to 8 GB on something the size of your pinky’s fingernail. All that being said, a fair estimate would put a 16 GB card due out around February, if progress is steady.

Viigo adds traffic alerts, Nov 02

The fine folks at Virtual Reach have added a bunch of U.S. traffic alert channels to their Viigo thanks to Traffic.com, giving you up-to-date congestion information for major American cities. Those of us north of the border are out of luck, but we still have DRIVES in the works. If you’re already packing Viigo, just hit Add a Channel and cruise on over to Cool Feeds & Useful Services. Some pretty sweet stuff is in the works for Viigo next month, so stick around.

Weekly Contest: The Big G, Nov 02

You may have heard that Google will be making an announcement in the next week or two concerning their plans to step into the wireless arena. Needless to say, Google’s a big deal. Since Verizon backed down from protesting the open accessibility of the 700 mhz spectrum, the doors are wide open for Google to drop whatever bomb they want. Now all of tech enthusiasts wait with bated breath for the big move - many doubt that a full-blown Google OS will be involved, but rather suspect a software suite accessible on any platform out there. The possibilities are exciting, that’s for sure. This week we invite you fine readers to get your punditry on: what are we going to see from Google in the next few weeks? The GPhone? Simply porting over what they’ve already made for desktop? What will it all mean for BlackBerry? RIM already plays very nicely with Google; will that work to their advantage, or has it just given the new competition a head start? The one who comments with the most full-bodied, interesting or straight-up wild speculation will get 3 themes from Bplay.

UPDATE: Alright, so the announcement came for Google’s plans for an open platform called Android, which will aim to lower the cost for developing and distributing cellphones. Why isn’t RIM in the alliance?

Last week’s winners behind the jump!

Streaming iTunes and lyrics on your BlackBerry, Nov 02

nuTsie recently announced a partnership with lyrics database LyricFind, letting you search through the lyrics of all the music in your iTunes library from your BlackBerry while you’re listening to streaming tunes. Best of all, it’s free - you just have to export your iTunes metadata and upload it to their servers. BlackBerry support is still in open beta, if you want to give nuTsie a shot and have a data plan that can stomach it. Thanks Josep!

Sprint posts 77% drop in Q3 profits, Nov 02

SprintOuch. Not only did Sprint make a lukewarm $64 million this quarter (versus $279 million last year), but they also withdrew their optimistic forecast for 2008.
WiMax is still on Sprint’s plate, but they were saying that in August, and didn’t do so hot that quarter either. Of course the customer service thing might be an issue, but straight-up competition from the likes of AT&T and Verizon can’t be ignored. Post-paid subscribers, who really help on the revenue front, declined by 337,000, and the report wasn’t shy to to say that 40% of those losses are from Nextel’s old coverage areas. Keep passing the buck there, guys. Pre-paid customer subscriptions went up, but churn rate for them is pretty high, which isn’t helping Sprint out much. As cute as Sprint’s ad campaigns have been, it’ll take more than that to get their numbers up again.