BlackBerry is still alive… And its latest smartphone will have 5G and even a physical keyboard





It seems like BlackBerry still has some fight left in it! After being unceremoniously dumped by TCL following a failed 4-year license agreement, BlackBerry partnered with OnwardMobility, a mobile security company, to work on its upcoming line of smartphones. In August last year, OnwardMobility issued a press release highlighting that they would be launching a “5G BlackBerry Android smartphone with a physical keyboard in North America and Europe.” The company even stated that they would be partnering with Foxconn subsidiary FIH Mobile Limited to design and manufacture these smartphones. As we gradually approach the launch of these phones, Jermaine Smit (better known as his internet alias Concept Creator) has partnered with LetsGoDigital to envision what these phones will probably look like… and let’s just say, they’re about as long as a meatball sub.

Ask any Max-sized iPhone users what an annoyance it is to reach the back button on the top-left corner of a screen and you’ll probably figure out that smartphones are already pretty big to begin with. The Blackberry Key 3 concept adds a further 1.5 inches to the smartphone’s height with a dedicated, physical, touch-sensitive keyboard. Now I don’t mean to dunk on the Key 3, the physical keyboard has always been BlackBerry’s schtick… but maybe a slide-out keyboard would work better for a smartphone in today’s world. That aside, the Key 3 looks rather impressive.

The BlackBerry Key 3 concept comes with a profile that’s reminiscent of the Note 20 Ultra. It features a flat surface on the top and bottom, while cascading edges on the sides result in a phone that’s comfortable to hold, along with a waterfall display, there may be a chance of the phone registering accidental palm touches. The camera setup on the back features 3 lenses and a flash, looking quite similar to the one found on the OnePlus 8, and sitting right beneath that is the familiar BlackBerry logo. Flip the phone back over to the front and it kind of looks slightly meme-ish. It’s obscenely long, considering the screen’s already 20:9 to begin with. Adding to that is a slight forehead bezel (which features a single front-facing camera) and a massive chin, which houses a full QWERTY keyboard. The QWERTY keyboard, from what I can tell, is a part of the display, but it’s always there… even when you don’t need it. Sort of like the soft keys often found on Android phones, the keyboard is static in its position, and can easily be used when you need to type. This ideally means a keyboard never blocks or overlaps elements on the screen, so you’re always treated to a full-screen interface all the time. I’m not entirely sure if the keyboard’s layout is dynamic, i.e., whether it changes to reveal emojis or other languages, but if I were a betting man, that would honestly be a pretty remarkable feature. I could even imagine having app-specific controls, like playback controls for YouTube and Netflix, or gaming controls while you play games (reminds me of the LG Wing if I’m being honest). There are a few undeniable perks to owning a BlackBerry phone, and I’d say the Key 3’s no different. Aside from the keyboard, BlackBerry phones are known to have a much higher security standard than your regular Android or iOS device. If you can somehow look past the length of this phone, the Key 3 could actually be a compelling device to a certain subset of people. Besides, look to the base and you’ll even notice a 3.5mm headphone jack!!

Designer: Concept Creator (Jermain Smit) for LetsGoDigital

A closer look at the camera module, which looks heavily borrowed from the OnePlus 8. There’s no reason to believe that the original BlackBerry phone will sport the same camera module, so we can write this one off as Concept Creator’s own personal touch. That being said, if the BlackBerry did have a camera that was as good as the OnePlus 8, it would still be leaps and bounds ahead of what they’ve currently got.

From the looks of it, the phone sports a brushed metal back, which would probably mean no wireless charging. There is, however, a Type-C port on the base… and I may be sounding like a broken record here, but I’m still pretty impressed by the fact that flagship phones in 2021 can still have 3.5mm jacks!

There’s no indication of what this concept’s dimensions are, although it’s worth remembering that the BlackBerry Key 3 is just a fan-made concept phone. OnwardMobility announced that BlackBerry would launch its 2021 smartphone sometime in the first half of the year, so if things are still going according to schedule, the phone should ideally be announced in the next 2 months or so!

Image Credits – LetsGoDigital

Spotify launches its first hardware device, a touchscreen player for your car called the “Car Thing”

While its name probably makes it sound like something an executive at Spotify thought of overnight, the Spotify ‘Car Thing’ has been in the works for years. It honestly makes sense, considering every one of Spotify’s competitors is in the hardware space too – Apple has the HomePod Mini and the AirPods complementing its Apple Music, and Amazon has the Echo series of smart speakers tying in with Prime Music. The Car Thing helps Spotify enter the hardware space too, and solidify its position in the one area where the market still remains untapped, and where honestly people require music/radio/podcasts the most… the car.

Picture this… you’ve got a long, 30-minute drive to work. A decade ago, you’d switch the radio on and listen to the news or some music. Now, you’re most likely to tune into your favorite podcast episode, or play music from a playlist on your streaming service. The software has evolved, although the hardware’s still playing catch-up. Not every car comes with a smart dashboard, and it can be a nuisance to constantly lift up your phone and unlock it to pick a song or a podcast episode… especially when you’re driving. That’s where the Car Thing comes in.

Issued as a limited release, Spotify’s Car Thing provides a bridge between your car’s speaker system and your favorite online streaming service. Available for free to a select group of applicants (you can sign up on Spotify’s Car Thing microsite), the Car Thing is a nifty little dashboard that brings Spotify to life in your automobile. It runs a version of the streaming company’s Car View, a simple interface that’s easy to use and navigate while driving, and while the device DOES have a touchscreen, it comes with physical dials and buttons that you can instinctively operate with your hand as you keep your eyes on the road.

The Spotify Car Thing is built to be compatible with vehicles regardless of make or model and displays a home screen with a touch-sensitive navigation dial slightly overlapping the screen to make the device look visually dramatic. The device comes with voice-controlled search too, and you can simply summon songs, artists, and playlists by using the command “Hey Spotify” before your query. Alternatively, you could rotate the dial to navigate the dashboard, increase or decrease volume, or press it to select songs or play/pause music. A button right below the dial lets you go back to the home screen, and 4 preset buttons on the top let you instantly play songs, stations, podcasts, or playlists of your choice.

Ultimately, the Car Thing works as a bridge between your phone and your car’s speaker system. It doesn’t sport a speaker of its own, instead, it connects to your car’s built-in speaker system either via Bluetooth or an aux cable. It still requires your smartphone too, given that it can’t connect to the internet independently. Sure, that sounds like a bit of a drag, but what Spotify is betting on is a much more intuitive and easy-to-use interface that lets you listen to your favorite talk shows and music without fiddling with your phone as you drive. The Car Thing ships with three mounting accessories for connecting it to a vent, the dashboard, or the CD player, and can be powered either by the USB port in your car, or a USB adapter that fits into the lighter socket. Sadly, the Car Thing isn’t quite available to the general public yet. You need to sign up on the Car Thing website and Spotify states that the device will only be available to “select” Spotify Premium members. To make up for that, the company is giving the Car Thing away at a 100% discount on its $79.99 price-tag. All you really need to pay is a nominal $6.99 shipping fee.

Designer: Spotify

The Car Thing sports a 4-inch touchscreen, with a durable construction and matte-textured rubber controls that are responsive and easy to use.

A rotating dial lets you quickly cycle through elements on your interface, and you can simply push the dial to select an item within your menu or press the home button below to go back to your home screen.

The upper edge of the Car Thing spots 5 buttons – 4 for dedicated presets, and a recessed button on the extreme right lets you either quick/mute a song, or access your settings. The device even comes with 4 microphones on the top, laid out in between each of the buttons, that run Spotify’s adaptive interference cancellation technology to help tune out the background noise and focus on your voice commands.

Each Spotify Car Thing ships in a kit that includes a USB cable to power the device, a 12V adapter for your car’s lighter socket, 3 different mounts to choose from, and a rubber cover for extending the primary dial’s lifespan.

This sustainable “vertiport” powered by photovoltaic panels will use air taxis to boost eco-tourism!

It is 2021 and for some weird reason when we entered the 2000s we all dreamed now would be when we would have flying cars or “air taxis” if you want to make it sound more realistic. However, there is one thing we didn’t include in our imaginative stories, these flying cars or air taxis will pick us up and also land in specific places only unlike Uber or Lyft that comes right outside your door. Keeping the future and these logistical details in mind, Chinese air mobility company EHang announced plans for a “vertiport” in Italy called Baobab designed by Giancarlo Zema Design Group (GZDG). Baobab will be an innovative eco-sustainable vertiport that produces energy and recharge the drones wirelessly!

EHang is developing an eVTOL (electric vertical takeoff and landing) vehicle which will be capable of picking up one to two passengers (initial model) then autonomously flying them to their destination. It is actually not a distant dream, EHang has actually already delivered 40 functioning air taxis to customers for testing, training, and demonstration purposes. So the company joined hands with GZDG to build a vertiport that has been inspired by the African baobab tree. The 30-meter-tall (98-ft) tower will have 360-degree windows and will be constructed from steel + laminated wood. The passengers will take an elevator to the platform for takeoff and landing on the roof terrace. Below the terrace, there is a waiting room as well as a 200 sq m (2,153 sq ft) panoramic restaurant that will offer views of the lush landscape. The vertiport will feature several photovoltaic panels that will generate over 300 kilowatts of power per day. On the roof, there are green areas with seats and three landing areas for electric drones that are recharged wirelessly from the landing pad floor which will feature some of the non-slip photovoltaic panels integrated with LED lights for night lighting and signage.  Baobab, the three independent plug-and-play charging stations, and two-passenger EH216 eVTOLs will run on the power provided by clean energy.

Baobab is a vertiport designed with the intention of boosting the eco-tourism industry – air taxis will pick passengers up at the tower and take them on sightseeing tours of the surrounding countryside. While the exact location for this project is yet to be announced, the EHang is already working on additional structures for Europe and Southeast Asia.

Designer:Giancarlo Zema Design Group

Sony’s new PS5 VR controllers come with adaptive triggers and haptic feedback, defining the next generation of gaming!

Virtual Reality brings gamers right into the world of video games in a way no other gaming technology can. With VR headsets and controllers only rising in popularity, gaming has never been as visceral as it is today. Most major video game brands are gearing up their systems to accommodate VR playing, including Sony’s PlayStation. Today, the team at Sony revealed their new VR controllers for the PS5, their latest console, which comes equipped with VR integration, and boy, do we love how futuristic and almost conceptual these designs look – just how we always envisioned VR controllers would look like!

Building upon their previously released DualSense wireless controller, which changed the way games “feel” through immersive haptic feedback, the new VR controller for the PS5 also provides haptic feedback and takes on an orb-like shape that allows users to move their hands freely and naturally when gaming. The ergonomic design behind the new VR controller was also tested by a range of users with different hand sizes to ensure that they work for everyone. In addition to the controller’s added haptic feedback, the new VR controllers are outfitted with the same adaptive trigger technology found on the DualSense wireless controllers. The adaptive trigger buttons on Sony’s VR controllers add tension that gamers can really feel when plucking an arrow or pulling on a rope, adding to the multisensory experience of PS5.

Sony made it so the new VR controllers can detect a user’s fingers without them having to press the controller where their fingers are resting, so gamers can move through each game following their gut instinct. Each VR controller is also tracked by the new VR headset through the controller’s tracking ring, which can be found at the bottom of each controller. With more news soon to be released including the launch of the new VR headset, for now, prototypes of the new VR controllers will be tested out by Sony’s development community for further improvements and to test new ideas on the world of VR.

Designer: Sony x PlayStation

“There are no constraints with how you’re moving your hands, providing developers with the ability to create unique gameplay experiences,” says Senior Vice President at PlayStation, Hideaki Nishino

With adaptive triggers, haptic feedback, and finger-touch detection, the new VR controllers from PlayStation amplify the VR experience.

“The Left controller contains one analog stick, the triangle, and square buttons, a “grip” button (L1), trigger button (L2) and Create button. The Right controller contains one analog stick, the cross and circle buttons, a “grip” button (R1), trigger button (R2) and Options button,” says Nishino

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