Just a quick heads up for you folk in Egypt that have been holding out for the BlackBerry Z3. The low cost BlackBerry 10 device is now on sale so it's time to go shopping!

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We've known for some time now that the next version of BlackBerry 10 (10.3) will come with the BlackBerry Assistant built in. Having the ability to use voice commands on a BlackBerry is certainly nothing new, however from my experience it's always been more hassle than it's worth.

That's all set to change when the BlackBerry Passport hits the scene running BlackBerry 10.3. It's very early days on whether the BlackBerry Assistant will give the likes of Siri, Google Now and Cortana, for Windows Phone, a run for their money and even if it is as productive - is it a feature that you will use on a regular basis?

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BlackBerry Z3

If you are one of the lucky folk that have picked up the BlackBerry Z3, I suspect you may well be new to BlackBerry 10. You're more than likely an ex BlackBerry OS user but the two operating systems are so different and it can sometimes be a small learning curve.

As a BlackBerry Z3 owner you'll be a social creature as it's in our nature these days. That probably means using your new beloved BlackBerry to take plenty of photos and share them with friends via a wide selection of methods, from BBM to social networks.

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From the Editor's Desk: Almost there

From the Editor's Desk: Almost there

So earlier, I was sitting here looking back at some of the posts about the BlackBerry Classic and the BlackBerry Passport. Going through it all, it seems as though we've been talking about those two particular devices forever. Realistically, its only been since June that things started popping, when BlackBerry CEO John Chen unveiled the BlackBerry Classic and the BlackBerry Passport. Sure, the rumors have been going longer but the real excitement only came in June, when things got real.

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Productivity apps are tools that we use daily to maximize our time. They can bring enhanced functionality to existing features or create new ones to get the job done. In the case of the former, one BlackBerry 10 developer focused his attention on creating a full-featured voice recorder application.

While a case could be made that it already exists on BlackBerry 10, albeit hidden away in the Remember app, nothing wrong with improving up on it. Echo is the result of those labors, and besides sporting a nifty cassette tape interface, boasts a multitude of features not found in the BlackBerry 10 one. All of which are designed to better categorize, arrange, share, secure, and manage your voice notes.

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It may be Sunday and for many of you a day for kicking back and relaxing (if you are that lucky), but that doesn't mean we can't give away an awesome app.

The developer of MagicPhotos has been in touch with us and has kindly offered 1000 copies of the BlackBerry 10 photo editing app for free.

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Hot Wheels - Track Builder

I can't say I was ever into Hot Wheels myself - maybe I'm too old and missed it as a kid, but when I saw Hot Wheels - Track Builder in the Amazon Appstore I had to check it out on my BlackBerry Z30. And I'm glad I did, as it's pretty darn sweet - and free.

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Deal of the Day: BlackBerry F-S1 Battery for Torch 9810, 9800

Flight delays, power outages, longer-than-expected trips; you can't always recharge your BlackBerry Torch when you'd like to. But with an extra BlackBerry F-S1 Battery on hand, you can always talk, type, and work as long as you need to. Keep it in your pocket, briefcase or purse and stay connected, powered up, and ready to get the job done. Grab yours today for 86% off!

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Here's another look at how some apps will run on the BlackBerry Passport

Although we've seen some apps running on the BlackBerry Passport previously, we also know the device recently received an OTA update to improve a few things as well and that apparently included how the Android runtime works on some Android apps and improvements to some of the core BlackBerry 10 apps.

As we mentioned before, @seb997 has his hands on a BlackBerry Passport and after giving it a quick review, he's now found some time to show off some of his favorite Android and BlackBerry 10 apps running on the device along with giving a run down of how each particular one works.

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Verizon now offering $60 single line plan with unlimited talk and text, 2GB of data

If you happen to be looking for a new smartphone plan and don't need a lot of data and only have one line to worry about, Verizon has now dropped a new plan that might be of interest to you.

As part of a new promo, you can now get unlimited voice minutes, unlimited text messaging and 2GB of data for $60, you'll want to pay attention to the overage charges though that are set at a whopping $15/1 GB. Obviously not going to be an option for everyone but it's sure to fit some needs.

If you happen to have a smartphone with Verizon Edge, you will receive $10 off the monthly access on the single line plan. If you're looking for the full details, Verizon has kindly set up a FAQ section on their site to view.

Thanks, John!

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As part of the promotion BlackBerry India is currently offering selected applications for 50% off from now until August 25th.

One of those applications is Money Plus, which we have featured before for both the PlayBook and in the roundup for BlackBerry 10. If you are not familiar with Money Plus, it is an expense tracking and financial management application. As a feature rich application for tracking your transactions and accounts and includes the ability to categorize, backup, password protect, schedule transactions, supports various currencies including India's rupee and Indonesia's Rupiah, and reconciliation.

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A while back in the BlackBerry App Roundup I highlighted a GPS tracker to log your activities such as hiking, walking, and biking called GPS Tracker: Retrace. It was simple, effective and got the job done with respects to logging. Since that time the developer incorporated several new changes and features in Retrace including those suggested by users.

This latest version, which now stands at, is actually a complete rewrite of the application. Not only does it reflect the new BlackBerry 10.3 visual style but boasts improved performance, the ability to retrace old routes, adding waypoints, tracking specific activities, and calorie tracking.

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As promised when we ran our poll just the other day, asking if you would be ordering the BlackBerry Passport as soon as you can, here are the results (from 24 hours after publishing) which turned out slightly different to how I thought they would.

As you can see below, we have a clear winner and that's that most folk are certainly very interested in picking up the Passport. However, the gap between this decision and BlackBerry fans waiting on device reviews is smaller than I expected.

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Best Back to School apps for BlackBerry 10

It's that time of year again, summer is winding down and students prepare to head back to school. That also means it's time to take a look at apps to make your student life that bit easier. It's quite fitting for me this year as I am planning to return to university to finish off my degree. I'll certainly be making use of these apps during that time. Without further chit-chat, let's get through the list of apps.

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BlackBerry App Roundup for August 15, 2014

Howdy CrackBerry nation! Another week has flown by and it sure has been a busy one on the blogs. If you haven't already, be sure to enter to win some back-to-school accessories from ShopCrackBerry in the form of a $50 gift certificate. Nothing wrong with gearing up for the new year and that is the perfect way to get you started. Also this week it was announced that BlackBerry and 7digital came to terms on a new music arrangement for their users. Last, but certainly not least, the Mobile Nations Community Update for August was posted and I just have to give a congratulatory shout-out to our own pkcable as being volunteer of the month! As Mod Team Leader and Ambassador extraordinaire he gives his all each and every day to help everyone.

Now it is time to bring you this week's picks for all your passionate BlackBerry addicts out there. You can find each app and game by clicking through the gallery below. If your favorite did not make the cut this week, remember you can help by offering your suggestions at the end.

Cam for Retrica by Radek Busa

Retrica is a popular selfie application currently available on Android and iOS. However, that hasn't stopped a talented BlackBerry developer from creating his own native version for BlackBerry 10. While it currently supports only the Z10, Z30, Z3 (keyboard coming soon) it offers 40 unique filters, 16 stylish frames, customizable self-timer, swap between front and back camera, quick pick filter choice, multiple output resolutions, and the ability to mute the shutter and self-timer sound signals. The application is quite simple easy to navigate due to the flat design interface. For trying to replicate that experience on BlackBerry I think the developer has done a great job. Though not as feature rich as other photo editing apps, meaning I would like to see more borders, frames, and effects, it does have potential. Cam for Retrica is $1.99 and compatible with the devices listed above.

More information/Purchase Cam for Retrica

Moon Music Player Pro by BK Soft

As someone who listens to music constantly, I tend to be quite picky when to how an audio file sounds on playback. On legacy devices I used to adjust the equalizer so as to have a better experience. Recently, this android port made its way into BlackBerry World. It is a feature rich music and video player that does more than act as an equalizer for your library. The list is too long to discuss here but the most important ones include changing the interface of the player by installing one of the 20+ Skins included, automatically downloading missing album artwork, download, search and save lyrics to your music files using ID3 tags, and a 10 band graphic equalizer with 15 default/customizable presets, pre-amp control, bass boost control, and stereo widening control, left-right volume control. There is also the option of having smart playlists and a shake it feature to play the next/previous song. Audiophiles will enjoy the options available in this application for $.99.

More information/Purchase Moon Music Player

Stopwatch by DevPDA.net

Before you comment that there is already a Stopwatch feature in the Clock application, be sure to take a look at this app first. The one included on BlackBerry 10 allows you to start/stop and add a new lap. With this application, however, you have the ability to create multiple stopwatches and identify each one with different colors. It also offers lap statistics, editable lap with recalculating total time, export to email (simple text), and active frame support with battery status and active stopwatch. Those of you who would like additional functionality when recording their times will certainly appreciate the features supported here. For keyboard devices, stopwatch also supports keyboard shortcuts. Available for all BlackBerry 10 handhelds you can purchase this application for $1.99. As this is an initial release if you experience any bugs or issues please contact the developer. They also plan on including additional functions in future versions.

More information/Purchase Stopwatch

Word Snake by Swiss Codemonkeys

As a child my parents would always buy me a book of word search puzzles varying in complexity. For hours I would try to discover all of the hidden words that appeared horizontally, vertically, diagonally, or backwards. Going through the Amazon store this week I came upon World Snake which is very similar though the letters twist in the form of a snake as it were to form the words. There are several categories or themes with which to choose from and each are comprised of over 20 puzzles. In addition to selecting the level of difficulty (i.e. Easy, Medium, and Hard), there is a quick mode where puzzles are randomly generated, and an adventure mode of puzzles with increasing difficulty. Swiping across the screen to select the appropriate letters is easy to work on my Z30 and Q10 and there were no issues that I experienced to speak of. The game is free to download and, though it comes with advertisements, is quite fun to pass the time with.

How to install Android apps from the Amazon Appstore

Companion (with NFC) by Tony Cresswell

For those of you who were interested in the features Smart Watch companion offered BlackBerry 10 users but didn't own a Pebble, the developer has optimized the application to work as a standalone application via the Hub. All of the functionality is there including being a headless application. Companion offers an authenticator code generator for Last Pass and Google, stock/bitcoin/litecoin quotes, weather reports, London UnderGround Tube alerts, Plex Media System Remote Control, location tool, NFC triggers, Minecraft chat and server admin utilities, customizable alarms, and geolocational based reminders. As it has earned the Built for BlackBerry designation you know it is a solid application. You can find it for $2.99 in BlackBerry World.

More information/Purchase Companion (with NFC)

What You Might Have Missed

Tresorit by Tresorit

For those seeking an alternative to Dropbox and Box that offers more security, the encrypted cloud storage service Tresorit released their BlackBerry application this past week. As an Android port, it does not integrate into the OS as the other available cloud sharing apps. However, unlike those other services, Tresorit keeps your data encrypted in the cloud to ensure privacy and security with your confidential information. The application is free to download and they offer 5GB free for signing up.

More information/Download Tresorit

Until next week...

That's it for this week folks. For more apps and games be sure to head on over to the CrackBerry Forums where you will find even more hidden gems to choose from whether it be for BlackBerry 10, BBOS or the BlackBerry PlayBook. Of course, you can always find the latest and greatest top editor's picks in the CrackBerry App Gallery. Are there any apps or games you would like to see? Feel free to leave your suggestions in the comments.

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Can BBM Protected boost BlackBerry's earnings?

With documentation of $30 per year BBM Protected price plans starting to emerge, it's worth discussing what effect this might have on the company's earnings and stock price. As it stands right now, BBM Protected requires a BlackBerry device. That will change in the fall when it becomes available for Android and iOS through Secure Work Space but for now, let's just stick with the possible BlackBerry only numbers.

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For you folk that use SafeDrive for BlackBerry 10 you'll want to fire up BlackBerry World and grab the latest update to the app. As well as the enhanced features, as shown below, the app has received several bug fixes to iron things out.

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Swamp Attack

Swamp Attack is yet another great game that you won't find in BlackBerry World I'm afraid. At the time of writing this I found it in the Snap store which currently is a bit more tricky to load onto your BlackBerry 10 device than the Amazon Appstore, but once you know how you'll have a ton of apps and games at your fingertips. Full instructions will be in the link at the base of the post.

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If you prefer to not use the BlackBerry 10 browser for watching YouTube videos, but instead opt for a native application then you'll be rather pleased to hear that SuperTube has had a bit of a makeover with it's latest update.

I suspect that many folk who are new to BlackBerry 10 will be thinking "why would I need an app" and that's a very good point. The BlackBerry 10 browser does a fantastic job, but SuperTube offers more than just watching the videos.

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BlackBerry shipments on the rise under John Chen's leadership

'You have to bear with me a little bit. We still have a lot of work to do, but I'm very hopeful.' That's what BlackBerry CEO John Chen told investors and analysts back in March about BlackBerry and now it appears their (and his) patience is starting to pay off.

A new report from IDC has now pegged BlackBerry shipments as being up approximately 15 percent from the previous quarter, especially in key markets such as Asia/Pacific and Enterprise users within North America and Western Europe. Going by the numbers from IDC, BlackBerry shipped 1.5 million units compared to the 1.3 million in the first quarter.

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