The first water-resistant BlackBerry will ditch the keyboard

TCL, the Chinese conglomerate that produces phones under the BlackBerry name, is going to broaden its appeal to more than just keyboard devotees. The company has revealed to Engadget that it will launch a full touchscreen device under the BlackBerry name at some point in October. It may not be a Z10, or even a Storm (or Thunder), but if you were looking to get your mitts on a keyboard-free BlackBerry, it’s coming.

Granted, TCL’s DTEK 50 and 60 phones were also all-screen, but this is different. Details are, perhaps obviously, fairly scarce about the as-yet unannounced device, but we managed to glean tidbits from TCL’s François Mahieu. Mahieu explains that TCL will respect BlackBerry’s reputation for building hard-wearing devices for clumsy international travelers who will be working in all weathers. The main feature, beyond the full-touchscreen, is the (planned) IP67 water and dust-proofing, as well as a battery rated to last for more than 26 hours of mixed use. Mahieu believes that durability and longevity will be two of the biggest selling points, a long-lasting phone that’ll keep going long after your iPhone has conked out.

Mahieu feels bold enough to claim that he expects a number of iPhone and Galaxy users to “make the switch” to BlackBerry come October. Of course, these handsets now run Android, which means that it’s far harder to make it stand out from the crowd. Mahieu continues to believe that BlackBerry’s security know-how will enable TCL to deliver the “most secure Android phone in the world.” Although given the failure of so many ultra-secure Android devices to sell, his confidence seems — at least right now — misplaced.

But TCL is used to combating cynicism with people looking down their nose at BlackBerry in its new after-life as a white label brand. Mahieu said that users shouldn’t write off BlackBerry just because it doesn’t stand toe-to-toe against Apple and Samsung. “We are there to play,” he explained, “we’re just playing with different cards,” mostly by pushing its strengths of battery life, security and durability. As for pricing, it’s likely that the device will cost less than other flagships.

Of course, we’ve already seen a BlackBerry device with a large display unencumbered by a physical keyboard. The Priv hid its physical input device in its slider, and so could actually work as a phone for touchscreen devotees. And given how well that device sold — prompting BlackBerry to abandon producing hardware altogether — it’s going to be interesting to see how TCL can avoid history repeating.

TCL is banking on certified water and dust-resistance as a draw, and it’s not clear how many people were waiting for that as a reason to make the switch. But Mahieu is hinting that the company is “marching towards millions” of device sales, although it’s not clear how many models it needs to shift before it can be considered a success.

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Google’s iOS app comes with its GIF-friendly keyboard on the side

It’s no secret that Google is hoping to make its own lineup of search, navigation and email apps the go-to services for Apple users. The folks in Mountain View have even gone so far as to introduce new features in iOS apps months before rolling them out to their Android counterparts. Today, Google is trying to strengthen that hold on iPhone users with even deeper integrations of its flagship, search-focused app into Apple’s operating system.

After streamlining the app’s news feed late last year, the main Google app now brings the Gboard iOS keyboard under its wing. In other words, you no longer need the standalone app to get Gboard’s in-keyboard access to search, GIFs and emoji across all your iOS apps. It now comes installed with the Google app and users can set it up inside the Google app settings.

Today’s other big iOS update today is a live-updating “Trending on Google” widget that can be accessed through the app or pinned to your notification center for easy access to current search trends. The big search topics of the moment are displayed in blocks of Google primary colors, and tapping a topic will open a search tab with that subject. Finally, Google has also added or expanded the 3D touch functions throughout the app, so users can preview search results, bring up that trending widget or jump right into an incognito or voice search right from the home screen.

The updated version is live now in the App Store.

Source: Google Blog

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Microsoft’s Word Flow keyboard gets a Bing search upgrade

Microsoft’s Word Flow keyboard for iPhone just got a significant upgrade this week, adding a search engine for emoji, GIFs, and more from Bing.

The new search feature will copy GIFs to your clipboard so you can paste them into messages and can even choose GIFs from what you type for contextual searches. If you type something like “yaaaas!” or something inane like that, you can search for matching GIFs of that nature.

Microsoft is planning on adding in additional themes, support for iOS text replacement and cursor placement using 3D Touch.

The new built-in search is obviously meant to compete with Google, after Google previously released the Gboard keyboard for iPhone with built-in search.

There are several different keyboards available for iPhone to choose from, but now that giants like Microsoft and Google have made their own options available, the vanilla iPhone keyboard seems like an afterthought, especially considering Microsoft previously acquired SwiftKey.

It’ll all come down to personal preference, but Microsoft just shot ahead to Google’s level with its addition of these new features.

Via: The Verge

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