Google delivers classy I/O 2013 keynote
The headlines this week have understandably been dominated by Google I/O, the tech titan's annual developer fiesta. Kicking off at San Fransisco's Moscone West conference centre on 15 May, much of the attention was focused on the event's opening presentation, and we duly punched in the overtime to bring you live coverage of all the big Google I/O keynote announcements. Prior to I/O 2013, many observers had posited that Google would make waves at this year's get-together by announcing (at least) one new Nexus device, and also unveiling version 5.0 of its Android mobile OS, Key Lime Pie.
Those predictions ended up bearing little relation to reality, though we were treated to the launch of a Samsung Galaxy S4 featuring stock Jelly Bean. Instead, Google produced a confident, mature I/O showing that focused on consolidating its industry-leading position in key areas like location services - the new Google Maps in particular looks like an impressive beast. The search giant also broke cover with a major Google+ update, while Larry Page made some intriguing observations on the merits of agricultural labour and the possibility of a special island dedicated to Google's cyborg lab rats.
BlackBerry Live heralds cross-platform BBM rollout
Competing with Google I/O for the limelight this week was the BlackBerry Live conference. As with the search giant's goings-on in San Francisco, a lot was expected from BlackBerry on the hardware front - an expectation that it only met in part. In place of the mid-range, QWERTY-sporting R10 that many predicted, BlackBerry launched a different keyboard-toting device, the Q5. Pitched at emerging markets and coming in a range of colourful models, it looks like a decidedly mainstream handset but one that shouldn't be underestimated in terms of potential impact - enterprises don't always have the budget to furnish high-end smartphones, after all. Speculation that BlackBerry would revive its PlayBook tablet line also proved to be wide of the mark, meaning the only other real talking point from BlackBerry Live was the official launch of BlackBerry 10.1. It already featured on the recently released BlackBerry Q10, of course, but the wider rollout means that key apps like Skype will now be migrating to devices like the Z10 - hardly bad news for BlackBerry users. But the most significant announcement was also arguably the most understated: BlackBerry's popular BBM service will launch on Android and iOS. Can cross-platform rollout of BlackBerry Messenger save BlackBerry? Only time will tell, but it's as good a shout as any.
Nokia Lumia 925 unveiled in London
Not one to be left behind, Finnish smartphone manufacturer Nokia also selected this week to unveil its new flagship handset, the Lumia 925. The new top-of-the-range smartphone is joined by a more mid-range offering, the Lumia 928, and therein lies one of the real stories behind the launch: many had assumed the two models would be region-specific variants of the same device, but they are in fact unique products. The polycarbonate-based Lumia 928 is a nice enough offering, but we were most taken by its big brother: with an aluminium build and slimmed down chassis, our hands-on with the Nokia Lumia 925 revealed a device that is well and truly at home in the age of the super-svelte.