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A closer look at the BlackBerry Z30 Transform Shell case


One of my favorite cases for the BlackBerry Z10 was the Transform Shell Case. It was minimal and while it didn’t offer much in protection, I liked the fact that it could double as a stand. I tend to gravitate towards these types of cases. When I got hold of a BlackBerry Z30 and saw that there would be a Transform Shell Case for it too, I had to get one to try out. We actually did a first look at the BlackBerry Z30 Transform Case back in September 2013 but at the time device was not available yet. With more and more people getting their hands on the BlackBerry Z30, there is no better time than to put the Transform Shell Case through its paces and see how it fairs as a case and stand.

The first thing you notice, compared to the BlackBerry Z10 version, is that when using it as a stand you don’t have to take off the case from the device in order to prop it up. BlackBerry designed this one so as you just lift a flap on the back that will act as a stand. The Z30 version also has a more plastic finish on it than the Z10 one. It is still a minimal case that covers the back and four corners of the device.

On the back of the case you have your embossed BlackBerry logo and name. The back also has two textures to it. The outer part of the case is a smooth plastic finish whereas the centre part which includes the flap-stand is a bit more rough feeling to add grip to the case, otherwise it would be too slippery in the hand. There is a cut out for the camera on the back too. Since it really just covers the back and four corners of the device, there’s easy access to ports, volume keys and power button, as well as the speakers on the top and bottom. And because the sides of the device aren’t covered it doesn’t feel bulky in the hand. As you know the Z30 is a big device, even putting on a silicone type case makes it bulky for my small hands but with the Transform Shell it isn’t so bad in the hand.

With the look an feel out of the way, let’s move on to the case transforming into a stand. As I mentioned earlier, the Z30 Transform Shell now has a flap that will act as a stand. With the Z10 version, you had to slip off the case from the device in order to make it stand. In theory the Z30 Transform Shell is better as the device is still covered up while in stand mode, however, it’s not always easy getting it to prop up.

It has been designed so that you can stand the phone in either portrait or landscape mode. I’m not sure when you would want to prop it up in portrait mode but you have the option nonetheless. When standing it up in landscape mode, the flap occasionally wants to slip back depending on the surface you’re on but for the most part it sits there just fine even if you accidentally nudge the table a little. In portrait mode however, since you’re working with a narrower area, a little nudge and it falls. Again, the rougher the surface the better it stands but getting it to sit nicely in portrait mode can be a nightmare sometimes. Like I said though, I can’t think of too many times you’ll be propping it up in portrait mode anyway.

A nice little touch on the case are the tiny stud-like bits on the bottom and the side of the case. They’re on the sides of the case that you would sit it on when in stand mode. This helps to keep it in place when propped up. They’re not too big that they are unsightly but it’s a nice design touch that didn’t go unnoticed on my part.

The Good
  • Doesn’t add bulk
  • Lightweight case
  • Doubles as a stand
The Bad
  • Doesn’t stand well on slippery surfaces, especially in portrait mode
  • Minimal protection
The bottomline

If you’re looking for a minimal case for your BlackBerry Z30 you may want to give the Transform Shell case a try. If anything, I use it for its ability to double up as a stand. Great for when I want to watch a video or two when around the house. Since it doesn’t add bulk that’s another win for me and my small hands. I can keep the back protected from scratches too. Obviously, being minimal and only really covering the corners it’s not going to be a case for those who want that extra protection. You’re going to want to look elsewhere. The Transform Shell case is more for those quick runs where you just want to cover it up a little.

The Transform Shell case for the Z30 comes in three colors – black, white and blue/black. You can get it from Shop CrackBerry today.

Purchase Transform Shell Case for BlackBerry Z30 from ShopCrackBerry

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Why tablets are not on BlackBerry’s roadmap


This is such a sensitive topic for many Playbook owners — and rightfully so. As a fellow BlackBerry lover, a respectable level of sympathy should be given to those who have invested in BlackBerry’s only tablet. It is truly a remarkable device that had a lot of promise.

However, business will always be business no matter what opinions or emotional attachment we may have for our products. It’s the nature of the beast. I’m not going to say it’s justified, only that there is qualified legitimacy behind BlackBerry’s decision not to develop another tablet.

As some of you may know, the Playbook was the QNX team’s first project. They were assigned to build a brand new mobile operating system entirely from the ground up. It was an ambitious task that would prove to be impressive and hopeful in some respects for the company and their future. Sure, it was pinned against Apple’s successful iPad, but for RIM it was subsequently the precursor to BlackBerry 10.

Till this day there are those who question whether the Playbook should have ever been launched given the huge costs, production delays, lackluster support and unavailability of standalone features such as email, contacts and apps. But despite these setbacks, the Playbook was still held as one of the strongest offerings in the tablet industry due to its groundbreaking OS and UI. In the following years after it’s spring debut in 2011, additional updates along with price drops made the Playbook an even more attractive choice for tablet enthusiasts.

If there’s anything to be learned from the Playbook fiasco is that consumers should always buy a product for what it is and not for what it can or should be.

But for RIM it wasn’t enough to warrant continued support and development. The strategy RIM had for the Playbook didn’t execute fast enough — partly because of how heavily the QNX team needed to draw on the company’s other resources, which effected the transition and development of the BB10 phone and OS. In addition, RIM had separate teams working independently of each other making any kind of progress counter-productive and fragmented … something realized by Playbook owners who claimed the product was rushed and/or incomplete. The logical move for RIM would be to integrate the operating system organizations into one. But in order to do this they had to make a tough decision, one that was undoubtedly made in favor of BB10 phones.

Honestly, it’s almost as if BlackBerry had no choice but to abandon the Playbook. There was just no way that BlackBerry could remain internally segregated while transitioning itself. Either they crashed and burned trying to sustain an unprofitable venture or focus all its power and resources on the development of BB10 phones and OS in a timely fashion. If there is any consolation, BlackBerry — for a moment — did try to sustain their tablet but quickly (and wisely) foresaw an even worse situation if they continued and stopped.

Heck, if I were faced with the same dilemma, I would have reluctantly done the same. BlackBerry made the right move even if we didn’t understand it, though I suspect Playbook owners will always have a bitter taste when it comes to this. RIM should have never made promises to Playbook owners that they couldn’t keep. Yes, RIM did their best to “smooth things over” by providing support for the next couple years but eventually precious time and resources could not be devoted any further to a product they knew would not be in their future. If there’s anything to be learned from the Playbook fiasco is that consumers should always buy a product for what it is and not for what it can or should be.

It’s 2014 and there is a new CEO and management team at BlackBerry now. BlackBerry has become a more streamlined agile company with established divisions, on-time road maps and exciting new developments. It’s a different BlackBerry with a fresh philosophy that has yet to be realized. Holding the current team responsible for the company’s actions and decisions for the last three years isn’t fair…the Playbook being one of them.

After a large amount of prudent studying and research, BlackBerry intelligently concluded that it simply does not see the value of competing in the tablet industry. Yes, there are statistics that reflect increased sales and adoption of tablets in various sectors but it is still a very costly venture and one that will only slow down BlackBerry’s progress and eventually bleed them financially dry.

Typically, tablets are consumption devices primarily used to browse the web, play games, watch videos and maybe for apps. Many people who own tablets rarely use them in the same capacity as their mobile phone.

This cannot be overlooked. If mobile computing is to be fully realized then the idea of an individual owning multiple devices seems to be a step backward. BlackBerry understands this. They are on the path of integrating mobile technology in an evolutionary way by creating devices that interact with the world around them.

Let’s think for a second about how realistic it is for a consumer or businessperson to wear Google glass, a smartwatch, carry a tablet, smartphone and a laptop. It’s too much. This mobile experience is fragmented, difficult to maintain not to mention costly and time consuming.

There are still many people who believe that a tablet is in BlackBerry’s future despite them stating they have no interest in developing one.

The connectivity of everything is the future of technology but remains far from being galvanized. Perhaps BlackBerry can leverage this into a strength by focusing on true mobile computing and developing the next evolution of the smartphone with devices and software that go beyond apps, games and pictures into the interaction of things like car systems, desktop computers, medical equipment and home appliances.

Will BlackBerry abandon the tablet market forever? I don’t even think BlackBerry can answer that now. There are still many people who believe that a tablet is in BlackBerry’s future despite them stating they have no interest in developing one. Is it necessary for them to have one? No, not at this time. Is having an ecosystem priority over the cross-adaptability of communications and technology? In an industry where mobile giants are drawing lines in the sand and building ecosystems, a “me too” agenda shouldn’t be on BlackBerry’s list of things to do. You shouldn’t want BlackBerry to follow or mimic. What works for the “others” doesn’t necessarily mean it will work for them. BlackBerry’s focus and priority is right where it needs to be now with the development of enterprise, BBM, QNX and next generation mobile devices.

If BlackBerry ever does develop another tablet, I’m certain the debacle of the Playbook will be well remembered and not repeated. I’m also certain that their offering will coincide with their vision of defining the next generation of mobile computing. Until then, don’t hold your breath.

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CrackBerry is in no way Affiliated with BlackBerry. We take pride in our unbiased content, however do occasionally receive free products from vendors that we review or discuss. For more info click here.

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Internet Glue Service IFTTT Launches On Android With Deeper Integration Than iOS


The Internet connection and automation service IFTTT is launching on Android today, and it offers a deeper set of integrations with the OS than their iOS offering. This, of course, is due to Android’s more laissez-faire attitude when it comes to allowing apps to extend their tentacles into core OS functions.

If you’re unfamiliar with IFTTT or what it does, we’ve covered it a ton because it’s really useful. It allows you to hook together various internet services and mobile OS components to create recipes that do things for you automatically. Mixing and matching these components can lead to some pretty clever and time-saving tools.

The arrival of IFTTT on Android comes after a longish period of waiting, during which the company acknowledged that it was coming several times, but each time noting that it wouldn’t be just yet. I asked CEO and co-founder Linden Tibbets whether that was due to technical barriers or a matter of resources available to get an app they liked out of the door.

“Really a matter of resources,” he said. “There are many people, especially here in Silicon Valley that are “Apple/iOS passionate” developers. It’s much harder to find someone with the same level of passion for Android, though that is quickly changing. We really lucked out and found Jordan Beck who lives and breathes Android!”

Perhaps (somewhat ironically) thanks to Apple’s right turn in design language last year, the app itself fits in well with IFTTT’s overall aesthetic, mating up nicely with the iOS 7-friendly version for iPhone and iPad. I’ve been playing with it on the Nexus 5 and it scales up to a larger screen pretty handily. All of the major functions of IFTTT are there, with a few additional treats because Android is more permissive in general.

“Android apps have much deeper access to device level functions like volume, WiFi, and wallpaper images. You can also do really cool things around your phone call and SMS logs,” says Tibbets. He notes that you can finally send an SMS as yourselfrather than to a friend from an impersonal ‘IFTTT’ sender as you do on iOS. “Android also gives developers a number of useful hooks, called intents, that allow for running a process in the background right after an event happens, like taking a photo. Overall, this means much faster Recipes for Android specific Channels,” he adds.

The major Android-specific channels include ‘Device’, which allows access to triggers based on connecting or disconnecting from WiFi networks and actions like setting wallpaper or ringer volume based on those conditions. There are also location, notification, phone call, photo and SMS channels, each with their own set of OS tendrils and possibilities.

Sending a text to your wife when you leave work, for instance, allows you to attach your name directly to a text to a loved one, rather than from an impersonal service. Here’s an interesting one that turns all of your Phillips Hue lights into Red Alert mode when you miss a call, and another one that appeals to me that sends an SMS back to a person leaving a voicemail letting them know you don’t check your inbox.

The Android version of IFTTT looks like a nice addition to the stable of apps and the Web presence, with the additional benefit of getting a glimpse of what IFTTT is able to do on mobile with a bit more freedom. You can snag the app here.

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YoVille Renamed YoWorld And Officially Acquired From Zynga By Big Viking Games


YoVillians rejoice; your kingdom is saved. Players of the social virtual world game will be excited to hear that their play can continue as YoVille, which was acquired by Zynga a few years ago, will not be shuttered as planned. Instead, it is now the wholly owned property of London, ON-based Big Viking Games, and will be transferred completely (with all game history and profile details intact) to its new owner as of May 11. As part of the deal, YoVille also gets a rebrand, and becomes YoWorld.

YoVille players are advised to delete their accounts by May 9 if they don’t want to transfer their game data and player details to the new owners using this web form, but based on the reaction to previous posts about the fate of this once-doomed social world sim, most will be more than overjoyed to make the change rather than face the loss of the sum total of their time spent with the app.

Big Viking Games is co-founded by the original creator of YoVille, so in a way it’s going home. The social game had shed players since its peak, but still represented a fairly large and active community, so the gaming startup taking it over is likely looking to capitalize on that remaining passionate fan base. The startup originally revealed its plans to re-acquire the title to TechCrunch back in February.


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eBay Rolls Out New Mobile Apps Focused On Discovery And Personalized Experiences


Online marketplace eBay rolled out a series of changes to its mobile experience across both the mobile web and its native applications today, including its apps for iPhone, iPad, Android, and Windows 8. The new apps are now sporting a redesigned look-and-feel, which includes larger images and personalized feeds, while also delivering new features, like the iPad’s in-store pickup option designed for local shopping.

The iPhone, Android and Windows 8 updates are out today, says eBay, and the iPad and mobile web updates will arrive “soon.” (Update: the iPad app is now live.)

Explains the company in detailing the news, the updates are meant to “enhance customer engagement and inspiration,” while also making things more “streamlined and intuitive” for consumers.

iPhone And iPad

On iOS, version 3.3 of the eBay application is focused on improving performance by allowing for faster browsing, along with other changes to make buying and selling easier. For instance, on iPhone, product images are now larger, you can search for sellers, and on both platforms, there have been changes that make relisting and pricing items easier, too.

But more importantly, the iPhone app’s homescreen now defaults to the “Feed,” which is a personalized stream of items that you like or want.

Frankly, it has a very Pinterest-like feel to it, thanks to the bigger images, and the layout which is reminiscent of Pinterest’s pinboard style, where photo thumbnails dominate. eBay is also tapping into this idea of showcasing your “interests,” which it derives from things you’ve searched for and saved on the service. The feed was announced last year, and can be customized by adding interests and trends.

However, the iPhone’s updated homescreen doesn’t just feature your personalized suggestions – it also includes a section for items you’ve recently viewed, those you’re watching, eBay deals and other items. There’s even a small ad for eBay-owned PayPal on this screen, and at the bottom, a suite of options for setting reminders, checking messages, accessing saved searches and more.

On iPad, the most notable change is the addition of an in-store pickup feature, designed for local shopping. This lets you purchase items from eBay partner retailers, then pick up at the store in order to save on shipping. This is also integrated with Passbook, offering easy access to things like store location, directions, hours and your order number.


On Android, eBay has added active notifications for bid or buy actions, an option to donate to charities at checkout with Giving Works, and similar selling enhancements as on iPhone, plus improved search and personalization options.

The app is also tablet optimized for both 7″ and 10″ screens.

Windows And Mobile Web

Finally, the Windows 8 update offers a new Home Screen which includes the personalized Feed as on iPhone, daily deals and more. Selling and search have been improved, and images are larger here, too.

Elsewhere, on the mobile web, users will now be able to list items for sale, respond to Best Offers, and browse Daily Deals by category. The website, too, also features the home page redesign with the eBay Feed.

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Maker Studios Nabs FailArmy And Other Viral Channels From Jukin Media


YouTube network Maker Studios is taking over management and monetization of a whole bunch of viral video channels that are managed by Jukin Media. The portfolio of content includes FailArmy‘s collection of fails, as well as 30 other viral video channels such as JukinVideo, BatDad, and CutiesNFuzzies. Together, those channels get more than 400 million monthly views.

As part of the deal, Maker will take over the Jukin FailArmy website and insert its own video player. It also plans to improve the quality of videos by co-producing a new series of high-value shows leveraging Jukin’s clip library.

The deal was announced about a month after Maker Studios was acquired by Disney for $500 million, with an additional $450 million in performance based earnouts. Maker represents thousands of creators who have hundreds of millions of subscribers and together have 5.5 billion video views per month.

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