Top Ten Mobile Phone News Stories of the Week

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Enjoy our round-up of ten mobile phone related news stories you may have missed including the price of the Sony Xperia Tablet Z, the latest BlackBerry App World figures and the introduction of Google Keep.

1. Sony Xperia Tablet Z Ready for Pre-Order

The Xperia Tablet Z was confirmed for Europe during Mobile World Congress, and has now appeared on Sony’s own online store as a pre-order. There are two models up for sale, the 16GB Wi-Fi tablet for £400 and the 32GB Wi-Fi tablet for £450. The Xperia Tablet Z has a 10.1-inch, 1920 x 1200 pixel resolution screen, a quad-core Snapdragon processor and Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. It’s set to go on sale by mid-April.

2. BlackBerry 10 Has 100,000 Available Apps

BlackBerry has announced the app count for the BlackBerry World app store has surpassed 100,000 this week, an increase of 30,000 since BlackBerry’s 10′s launch at the end of January. It also confirmed the arrival of an Amazon Kindle app, plus one for The Wall Street Journal and Open Table, an app which helps make restaurant reservations.

3. Google Keep Goes Live

Google has launched a note-taking service named Keep. It’s built into Google Drive and lets you make voice or text notes, which are then categorised using a colour coding system. While they can be viewed in Drive, Keep notes also sync with a dedicated Android app, which has a widget ready to be added to your phone’s homescreen. You can see Keep in action in the official video below.

4. Google Hints its Google Now App is with Apple for App Store Approval

During a Google summit this week, Eric Schmidt commented on the Google Now Android feature, and its possible availability on the iPhone. He said, “You’l need to discuss that with Apple,” adding the company approves, “some of the apps … and some of them they don’t.” It was something of a throwaway comment, but could certainly be interpreted as a Google Now update to Google’s iOS search app is with Apple at the moment. If so, the question is, will it be approved?

5. Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Being Shown to Networks in the US

Following reports the Galaxy Note 3 will launch in September at the IFA show in Berlin, so it’s rumoured Samsung has been showing an early version of the device to executives at the AT&T network in the U.S. It’s still early days in the Note 3′s development though, and the hardware apparently doesn’t work, and is being used only to show-off the design and to help devise a marketing strategy.

6. ZTE Partners with Intrepidus

ZTE has announced it has partnered with U.S. mobile security experts Intrepidus, to ensure its hardware and software is as secure as possible. It states the reason is due to wireless payments becoming more common, but the checks it describes are very complex – from source code reviews to identifying potential vulnerabilities – making it possible the Chinese company is attempting to appease US, networks, where there are concerns it represents a threat to national security.

7. Microsoft Surface Sales Figures Leaked

According to an anonymous source speaking to Bloomberg, Microsoft has sold 1.5 million Surface tablets since it launched late last year. The figure is broken down into 400,000 Surface Pro tablets and 1.1 million Surface RT models. This falls short of Microsoft’s own prediction it would sell two million tablets over the final quarter of 2012 alone.

8. Samsung Launches Galaxy Star and Galaxy Pocket Neo

Two new Samsung Galaxy phones are heading for Africa soon. The Galaxy Star has a 3-inch touchscreen, 2G connectivity and a 2 megapixel camera, while the Galaxy Pocket Neo shares the same specification but comes with 3G connectivity and a stronger, 850MHz processor. Both will be available with dual-SIM support.

9. ST-Ericsson Confirms Company Split

Processor manufacturer ST-Ericsson has announced it will split the partnership after failing to find a buyer. Ericsson will take over production of the modems and other connectivity hardware, while STMicroelectronics will take on some unspecified business along with 950 employees. Unfortunately, 1600 employees will lose their jobs.

10. Kobo Arc Tablet Gets Jelly Bean

An update to the Kobo Arc tablet has been announced, and Android 4.1 Jelly Bean should be arriving on devices very soon. As with all Jelly Bean hardware, the Arc will gain Google Now, plus Face Unlock, better notifications, improved search and all the performance updates that make Android 4.1 the best version of Google’s OS so far. If you own an Arc tablet, check Software Update now, as the update should be ready to go.

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