BlackBerry News and Reviews

BlackBerry's new AtHoc Account software helps ensure no one gets left behind during a crisis

BlackBerry has now announced a new expansion of capabilities offered by their AtHoc crisis communication software. The new AtHoc Account is a FedRAMP-authorized solution will enable government agencies and large organizations to account for their people in real-time by providing safety and availability status updates of people before, during and after an event.

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Enter this giveaway for one more shot at a free BlackBerry KEYone! [Winner announced]

CONGRATULATIONS to the winner, OliHipster!!

Today just happens to be CrackBerry Kevin's birthday, and while he's traveling across North America spreading the word about the amazing new BlackBerry KEYone, we decided to go ahead and celebrate his special day with a giveaway! Of course, the most anticipated new phone right now is the KEYone, and that's what one lucky CrackBerry reader will win!

To enter, just leave a comment below. You can come back every day until the contest is over at the end of May and leave another comment for another chance to win. Please don't spam the post with more than one comment per day, as you'll be disqualified. This giveaway is open worldwide, but keep in mind that international winners may have to pay duties or taxes on their prize, which is out of our control.

Good luck to everyone that enters, and Happy Birthday Kevin!!

Bonus Entry!

Looking for another way to earn an entry into the contest? Sign up for our newsletter!

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This wall charger packs a 5000mAh battery inside to keep you powered up from anywhere for just $22

Our friends at Thrifter are back again, this time with a pair of charging accessories you'll want to check out!

Battery life is something that continues to improve in phones and tablets, but not everyone can make it through the whole day on a single charge. Sure, you can carry around a spare wall charger and cable, or a battery pack, but what about if you could combine those into one? That's what Anker's PowerCore Fusion does, and right now you can pick one up at Amazon for just $21.99. This is a savings of $4 from its regular pricing.

It looks like a large wall charger, but it actually has a 5000mAh battery inside as well. This allows you to plug it into the wall to charge your phone if you are in the office, or charge it on the go with the battery inside. In addition, it offers:

  • The Ultimate 2-in-1 Charger: A hybrid high-capacity portable battery and dual-port wall charger in one sleek package.
  • High-Speed Charging: In the wall or on-the-go, Anker's exclusive PowerIQ and VoltageBoost technologies ensure that all devices receive their fastest possible charge. Does not support Qualcomm Quick Charge.
  • Charge-and-Go: Charge your device and PowerCore Fusion's internal battery via a wall outlet, then take it with you for up to 3 phone charges—any place, any time. Boasts a foldable plug to ensure maximum portability

Whether you travel a lot, or just like to pack really light, you will want one of these for your phone. Stop carrying around multiple chargers and battery packs, and instead consolidate them into a single device! If you're looking for just a power bank, Chuwi is offering its 10050mAh battery with Quick Charge 3.0 for just $16.99 when using coupon ADCENTER at checkout.

See at Amazon

For more great deals be sure to check out our friends at Thrifter now!

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Grab the world's smallest camera drone for only $25!

Drones keep getting faster and smaller, but that usually means they're stripped of extra features, like cameras. The small size usually also means you're paying more for the drone. What if you could have a small drone with a camera attached for under $30?

Get the world's smaller camera drone and a 2GB microSD card for just $25! Learn more

What if that drone was actually the world's smallest drone to have a camera mounted on it? Right now, CrackBerry Digital Offers has a deal on this little marvel. Instead of paying $50, you'll instead get it at 50% off. That's a final price of $25. Not only do you get the drone, you also get the controller, a 2GB microSD card, extra blades, and cables and adapters to charge the battery and transfer photos and videos.

This quadcopter's four blades allow it to zip around in any direction, and the LEDs allow for night flights — no getting lost in the grass. The camera mounted on the drone can take video and still photos, and it takes less than 30 minutes to fully charge the battery.

Take your photography to new heights with this tiny $25 camera drone! Learn more

If you've been waiting to get your hands on a drone, why not grab one with a mounted camera and included storage? This drone is small enough that you won't have to register it with the FAA. Ready to start flying? Grab this deal today; it won't last forever.

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Grab BlackBerry's stereo headphones for just $10 today!

Whether you listen to music or take a lot of calls on your BlackBerry you should have a set of headphones like BlackBerry's stereo option. The headphones are wired and offer a great fit, and right now you can pick up a pair for just $10.

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Latest BlackBerry Hub update brings quick file options, Google Hangouts support and more!

BlackBerry has now pushed their latest round of Android updates to Google Play and this month is packed full of changes for Hub users. Plus, it introduces Privacy Shade, thus far a standalone app, into the BlackBerry Hub+ subscription service. Although most of BlackBerry's apps have been updated, the stand out changes come by way of Hub and Privacy Shade, so have a look at what all is new.

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Amazon is dangerously close to being the new king of messaging

With Alexa gaining the ability to make voice calls and Echo Show bolstering the living room, Amazon moves a step closer to messaging ubiquity.

It was about three or four years ago when my wife and I decided to finally get rid of our landline. We weren't really using it anymore — it was mostly an emergency backup, and a great way for solicitors to bug us. (That it occasionally made phantom 911 calls in the middle of the night was another impetus.)

This presented a problem, though. Our kids ride the bus home, and family members pick them up there. But what happens if for some reason nobody shows? The kids need a way to call their parents.

I had a brief flirtation with Google Hangouts for this. But it was clunky at best, and now is a nonstarter, since Hangouts is dying. And so this is how our eldest daughter got "her" first phone way earlier than I would have liked.

This is also why I'm ridiculously excited about Amazon's recent announcements. Let's start with the more important of the two.

Preorder Echo Show

But first ... a word on your contacts

When you first set up Alexa calling you have to give the app access to your contacts. Don't do that without some hesitation. You're giving Amazon the ability to see every person in your contact list. Same goes for anyone who has you in their contact list.

That in and of itself isn't evil, but it's poor implementation. I have at least one person in my Alexa contacts now who I had to look up. They'd emailed me for an Android Central thing back in 2012. And now I have their phone number and the ability to call their Amazon devices wherever they may be? That's ridiculous.

Amazon must (and I'm sure will) add granular controls as to who is allowed to contact you through Alexa calling. And it needs to do it ASAP.

Alexa calling changes everything

If you have young kids or aging parents, Alexa calling and an Echo Dot is a no-brainer.

What I really needed was a way for my kids to be able to call their parents without needing a phone. The new calling (and messaging) feature in the Alexa app makes this a reality.

Setup was super simple. You'll need the Alexa app, (available for Android and on iOS — and of course on Amazon's Fire tablets) and you'll need to give it access to your contacts. Once you do that it'll match the peeps in your phone with the peeps who own an Echo. (There's a pitfall here, but we'll get to that in a second.)

And that's it. Once that's done you can call anyone in your Alexa contacts. And when you do so it'll ring their mobile devices and any Echo devices. If you don't want to have a live call, you can just leave a voice message, or send a basic text message through the Alexa app.

Don't mistake these for regular phone calls and SMS messages — they're not. But that matters less and less these days. So long as the meaning gets through, who cares what the mechanism is?

And my kids aren't the only ones who are going to take advantage of this. My grandparents are 90 and still ridiculously awesome. (One's on an iPhone, and the other on Android. Along the same lines as my wife and I, now that I think about it.) But smartphones at 90 aren't necessarily as easy as smartphones at 40. Simpler is better, especially if an emergency happens. And is there really anything more simple than a $50 Echo Dot that can call me in mere seconds?

For young kids and aging relatives, this is a game-changer.

Echo Show — we'll see ... and it will, too

The other major announcement from Amazon was Echo Show — an Echo with a touchscreen and a camera. That's a big deal, too, for a few reasons.

All this connected stuff at home is great. But we've yet to see a proper visual hub that could finally tie it all together. Sure, there are DIY smart mirrors, and Apple TV and Android TV have the potential to serve as display hubs. But none of that has really happened yet.

A home hub display and cross-platform video calls will be a BIG deal for a lot of people.

And none of them has the Skills that Alexa has. That is, Alexa is the endpoint for thousands and thousands of APIs for so many services. A visual hub makes so much sense here.

It's also a big deal for video calls. While Apple's FaceTime has always been excellent for this, it's limited to someone having an Apple device nearby. Same for any other video chat service. Mobile devices are, by definition, mobile. But video calls on a home hub mean it's always there, and always available, for everyone.

I'm less bullish on the "Drop-in" calls — wherein someone — after you've granted them access — can literally drop in on you with a video call, basically saving them the trouble of accepting the call themselves. (They'll still have the option to reject it, though.) But I'll just have to wait and see how well that actually works.

And Echo Show will do more traditional things like watch videos and play music and order things from Amazon. And surely that's just the beginning.

While having a camera in the living room isn't a novelty anymore, I get that folks will still be hesitant to let Amazon (or any other company traditionally outside of the security space) have a look at what's going on so easily. But I also think the ease of communication will trump that fear.

An imperfect, huge head start

Messaging through Amazon Alexa is a big deal. But it's far from perfect and definitely has room to improve. A few thoughts off the top of my head:

  • Again, the contacts thing is ridiculous. That never should have happened.
  • So technically my kids are calling my through my own account, but whatever. It just works.
  • But having more than one person in the home is a little clunky, even with the Amazon Household stuff. You have to tell Alexa to change accounts. Google has that beat with voice recognition for multiple accounts on Google Home.
  • (That also means anyone who has access to an Echo device can listen to your messages. So keep things SFW, folks. Or not.)
  • Know what else I want? Some sort of web or (even better) native computer support for when I'm sitting here working.
  • The Alexa app is still not great, if you're looking to actually use it as a messaging app. In fact, it's bad for that.
  • And Amazon needs to give more assurances that your messages are secure.

The simple fact of the matter, though, is this: While Apple beat everyone to the mobile assistant game with Siri, and Google Assistant is very good and growing all the time, neither has reach ubiquitous status, leaving Amazon to fill in the large gaps left by anything that's not traditionally mobile.

Google Home has helped with that, but there's no denying Echo has a huge lead. Microsoft is even farther behind with its Cortana speaker, and anything similar from Apple is still in the rumor status. Will Echo Show extend Amazon's head start? There's almost no way it can't at this point.

For now, it's still Amazon's game to lose. And with Alexa calling and soon with Echo Show, it's making nothing but winning moves.

See the entire Echo family at Amazon

Modern Dad

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Snag the iOttie Easy One Touch 2 for its lowest price yet!

Our friends at Thrifter are back again, this time with the awesome iOttie Easy One Touch 2 at its best price yet.

Right now you can pick up the iOttie Easy One Touch 2 for just $12.75 at Amazon, which happens to be the lowest price we've seen on it. Normally, this popular mount sells for right around $20. It has a new telescopic arm which adds two additional inches to allow for closer viewing, and you can lock and release the phone with just a single finger. The sticky gel pad sticks well to most surfaces and is able to easily be removed and installed in a different vehicle.

Whether you spend a lot of time or just a little in the car, you should have a safe place to keep your phone. If interested, be sure to grab one of these now, for each vehicle you own!.

See at Amazon

For more great deals be sure to check out our friends at Thrifter now!

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Here's a look at the never released BlackBerry 'Ontario'

Slated to be the flagship follow-up to the BlackBerry Z30, the BlackBerry 'Ontario' never saw release and is now a part of BlackBerry history.

Over the years, we've heard plenty of codenames for BlackBerry smartphones and got a look at a multitude of prototypes and canceled devices. The BlackBerry Magnum, Cyclone, Black Forest, Cafe, Kopi, Americano and more have all popped up but one device that has, until last night at CrackBerry's Meetup in Ottawa, remained a bit of a mystery is the BlackBerry 'Ontario'.

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BlackBerry KEYone: Seeing the forest for the trees

The BlackBerry KEYone isn't trying to be the best phone ever — just the best BlackBerry ever. It's succeeded, and given the faithful something to use and abuse all over again.

It's easy to forget that on-screen keyboards weren't always as good as they are today. In fact, for years they kinda sucked. Those were the years in which BlackBerry ruled for pounding out message after message. It also was the only real source for secure(ish) messaging. And the cult following that became what we all know (and, yes, love) as CrackBerry was born.

A lot has changed since then, of course. The iPhone changed everything, actually. Android got good and spread everywhere. And the BlackBerry faithful — you fine folks — were left with a choice. Adapt, or languish.

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I was never a BlackBerry guy, but that doesn't mean I didn't appreciate a good physical keyboard back in the day. My first smartphone was a Treo 750. I had an HTC Touch Pro 2 — angled screen and all. I rocked a Motorola Q9h like it was nobody's business. The OG Moto DROID after that. But proper capacitive displays and multitouch — along with increasingly good text prediction — led me to give up the keyboard for the larger displays.

That leads us to the BlackBerry KEYone. It's as retro as it is forward-looking. It by nearly all accounts a very solid phone. We tend to overuse the word "workhorse," but not in this case. The internals give great battery life. The Android operating system gives flexibility.

This is the phone BlackBerry fans have deserved for years.

And the keyboard is a gift. It's not a necessity anymore. We've all gotten by just fine without them. And the world has mostly moved on from BBM to other forms of secure messaging, be it iMessage or Whatsapp or Facebook Messenger or Signal or something else.

But the rebirthed BlackBerry Mobile (with Alcatel parent company TCL on board as the manufacturer) has given us something special here. Maybe not a phone you have to have, but one that a good many people truly want to have. A phone with a keyboard. A phone with more special sauce tucked into those little plastic things than we'll probably ever see anywhere else. I really am in love with the fingerprint sensor in the space bar, to say nothing of swiping all over the thing to move the cursor around. (And a phone running Android — which really is the only way this was every going ton happen anyway.)

Nobody else has ever done that. No other company will ever do that, because they don't have to.

And I'd be remiss in not mentioning the fact that BlackBerry has consistently been the only other company to keep its phones current with security updates, second to only Google itself. (Yes, Apple, too, but you know what I mean.)

Add all that up. You have some seriously solid hardware. While not cutting edge, it's definitely built to last. You have software with customizations that folks will want, and updates that we should all require. And you have a keyboard experience that takes us back to the good old days when we actually needed keyboards.

This isn't a phone for everyone. It's not trying to be. It's not going to be.

It's a phone for people who love BlackBerry. It's a phone for people who still want to love BlackBerry. And for those folks, BlackBerry Mobile and TCL have nailed it.

Modern Dad

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BlackBerry KEYone review roundup

This article has been updated as of June 6, 2017 to reflect new additions to the list of reviews.

It's D-day — or more like B-day — and the BlackBerry KEYone reviews are in. We've seen the KEYone from every angle, some of you even got to play with it in person, but today is when we get to hear the real-world results from the experts. Of course, you've already checked out CrackBerry Kevin's full review (right?!) but we've also compiled a list of reviews from around the web. Each reviewer obviously has their own take on the KEYone, but some running themes, as expected, are the insane battery life and that awesome, capacitive physical keyboard.

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Download the official BlackBerry KEYone wallpapers!

Before the BlackBerry KEYone was officially available, we were able to get our hands on some scaled up versions of the BlackBerry KEYone wallpapers but now that the KEYone is making its way into more hands, we can now share the more proper versions.

All in all, the BlackBerry KEYone comes with 13 wallpapers, including the BlackBerry specific blue one and the black diamond design. You can preview them below, but make sure you grab the zip file for the full resolution versions.

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Need help with your BlackBerry KEYone? Check out our KEYone support forums!

Whether you need some assistance with the basics or have some hard questions you need answering, our KEYone support forums are open!

Now that the number of BlackBerry KEYone owners is increasing daily, and we've started to see an increase of folks looking for help getting started with their new BlackBerry smartphone, we're pleased to announce that our BlackBerry KEYone support forums are now open.

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Get Mom $50 worth of flowers for $35

Mother's Day is right around the corner. Did you remember? You forgot, didn't you?

It's OK. CrackBerry Digital Offers has you covered.

$50 worth of flowers for $35Learn more

Ordering flowers online is the perfect way to surprise Mom this Mother's Day, since Bouqs will have them delivered right to her doorstep. At CrackBerry Digital Offers, you can get a $50 credit for just $35 and send Mom a beautiful bouquet of spring flowers from the Bouqs Company. Registration with Bouqs is free and every purchase is backed by the Happiness Guarantee, so if you get some sad flowers, you'll be taken care of.

The Bouqs Company gets all of its flowers from eco-friendly, sustainable farms, so you can purchase a bouquet for your mother or any other mothers in your life in good conscience. Flowers from some florists can cost you an arm and a leg and aren't as sustainably sourced, but through CrackBerry Digital Offers, you can get a $50 credit for just $35.

$50 worth of flowers for $35Learn more

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ShopBlackBerry kicks off May sale with deals on DTEK50, DTEK60 and 50% off accessories!

With the BlackBerry KEYone capturing the majority of the BlackBerry hardware news, it's easy to forget that the DTEK50 and DTEK60 are also both great devices. To help remind us of that, ShopBlackBerry has kicked a May sale on both the Android-powered DTEK50 and DTEK60. On top of that, they've also placed all accessories on sale for 50% off.

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Latest BBM update for Android brings even further visual changes

The last couple of updates to BBM on Android have pretty much been focused on changing the app visually and the latest update rolling out through Google Play has stuck to that as well. This time around, though, the visual changes are pretty small by comparison to earlier updates.

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BBM launches BBM Sticker Factory, allowing artists to submit their own BBM Stickers!

If you've ever wanted to submit your own stickers to be available through BBM, you can now do so through the new BBM Sticker Factory and possibly have your stickers published as well as earn prizes!

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These Bluetooth headphones aren't the best looking but they are certainly worth $8

Our friends at Thrifter are back again, this time with an $8 pair of Bluetooth headphones that you'll want to try out!

If you've thought about ditching the wires on your headphones and giving Bluetooth a try, this may be the pair for you. Right now, you can pick up these (somewhat ugly) Vtin sweatproof headphones for just $7.99 with coupon code PAV3E7VR, a savings of $8. Sure, you won't get the same quality out of these as you may the Jaybird options, but for less than 10% of the price, you can't expect that.

The headphones have an ear hook to help keep them in place as you lift weights, ride your bike, or go for a run. They offer around 6 hours of music playback per charge and even help cancel out a bit of the background noise. Stop wondering if Bluetooth headphones will work for you, and give these a shot today!

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For more great deals be sure to check out our friends at Thrifter now!

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BlackBerry KEYone Podcast, featuring Android Central, MrMobile, CrackBerry Kevin & Bla1ze! [Must Listen Show!]

Hosted by Android Central, this is a must-listen round table discussion on the new BlackBerry KEYone!

With embargoes lifting on BlackBerry KEYone reviews, the Android Central podcast duo of Daniel Bader and Jerry Hildenbrand needed some reinforcements to dive into the new BlackBerry KEYone, so they called CrackBerry Kevin and Bla1ze of the CrackBerry team and MrMobile himself, Michael Fisher, to help talk it through.

If you're jonesing to get your hands on the new KEYone or are just generally interested in it, this is a must-listen to episode. It's hosted by the very-professional Daniel Bader, so it's a little less chaotic and more on point than our typical CrackBerry podcasts. And between the Android Central crew, CrackBerry crew and MrMobile you get a lot of smart and balanced opinions in the mix. Along with some pretty fun stories.

NOTE - This is an audio only podcast (no video to watch). I hope you enjoy the show!

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Bring wireless music to your home with the Sonos Play:1 for $180

Our friends at Thrifter are back again, this time with a Sonos discount you won't want to miss!

The powerful and compact Sonos Play:1 speaker is currently $20 off at Amazon, dropping the price of it down to just $179.99. While $20 may not seem like a big discount, it isn't too often that we see any savings on these speakers, so you don't want to miss when it happens. Whether you have Sonos speakers already spread throughout your house or are looking to get started with your first one, taking advantage of discounts when they are available is the best way to do this. You'll be able to add a Play:1 to your existing setup or put it in a room or office to run independently.

Sonos does an amazing job of supporting its speakers and bringing new features to them often. Unfortunately, this price won't last long. If you're in the market for a Sonos speaker, be sure to grab one in either black or white before the deal ends.

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For more great deals be sure to check out our friends at Thrifter now!

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