“Reliable Roger” was among the cellphone-owning commuters who were regular callers to CBC Radio traffic reporter Janet Torge.
Cellular phones were still a relatively new phenomenon on Dec. 17, 1987, when we published this photo by Allen McInnis of Roger Pelletier of St-Hilaire. It accompanied a story about Pelletier — nicknamed “Reliable Roger” — and three other cellphone-owning commuters who were regular callers to CBC Radio traffic reporter Janet Torge. They provided tips about traffic tie-ups and delays that she passed along to listeners to help with their own drives.
“Pelletier said he started calling the radio station mostly for something to do while he was stuck in traffic. Sometimes he calls out of frustration, or to warn other motorists about what awaits them,” we wrote.
The cellphones then in use were a far cry from today’s smartphones. They were clunky and the reception wasn’t always so great. However, the convenience and flexibility they allowed were immediately apparent. Among the early adopters — for differing reasons — were real estate agents, who spent a lot of time outside of their offices, and organized crime figures, who valued them because they were hard to wiretap in those days.
Cellular phones were introduced in Canada in mid-1985. In November 1987, we reported that there were two rival cellular networks, Cantel and Cellnet Canada, with a total of about 100,000 subscribers. Service was only available in heavily populated areas and some of the corridors between them.
And in those days, prices were considerably higher than they are now. On Sept. 24, 1987, we published an advertisement headlined, in capital letters,”PRICE BREAKTHROUGH.” It offered a CT-300 phone for $2,495, or for lease at $69.95 a month, including the charging holster.
And of course, there is another thing that has changed: Calling from hand-held phones is now illegal for drivers.
Google Debuts 5G Pixel Phones Ahead of Apple’s iPhone Launch – Bloomberg
Google launched a pair of new 5G Android smartphones: the Pixel 5, its flagship model, and the Pixel 4a 5G, an entry-level device with faster cellular network speeds.
While the Pixel 5’s display is in line with the latest top-end phones from Apple Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co., changes to its features and a lower price put the handset more directly in competition with lower-end phones from those companies.
Google started offering its own smartphones with much fanfare in 2016, after years of collaborating with handset manufacturers on a bespoke Nexus line intended to demonstrate the best of its Android operating system. Progress has been slow. While IDC data show Pixel shipments rose 52% to 7.2 million units last year, Apple, Samsung and Huawei Technologies Co. each sell more than 100 million handsets annually.
The Pixel 5 moves to a front display that is almost all screen. Both new phones include slower processors, fewer camera sensors and cost less than the premier phones from its rivals. The Alphabet Inc. unit also removed the facial recognition camera and motion sensor from last year’s Pixel 4, instead adding a hole-punch sized notch for the camera and reverting to a fingerprint sensor on the back. The starting price for the Pixel 5 is $699, $100 less than last year, and the same price as the entry-level iPhone 11.
Apple and Samsung’s latest top offerings cost more than $1,000. Rick Osterloh, Google’s hardware chief, said the company removed expensive components because it didn’t want to sell a $1,000 phone that would price many consumers out of the market in an economic downturn.
The flagship handset unveiled Wednesday for new fifth-generation, or 5G, wireless networks now comes in a single 6-inch model, replacing the 5.7-inch and 6.3-inch Pixel 4 offerings from last year. It comes in black and green. The phone also adds the ability to charge headphones on the phone’s back, and new low-power mode to extend battery life.
Pixel devices have won over some customers with capable cameras and photo-related software. But Apple and other manufacturers have caught up and one of Google’s leading camera technology experts, Marc Levoy, left earlier this year.
The Pixel 5 adds an ultrawide-angle camera, replacing the telephoto camera lens from last year’s model. The latest setup helps users photograph more of the environment, while the telephoto lens had more zoom. Google is making up for the lack of optical zoom with software. Apple and Samsung offer three separate cameras on the rear of their pricier top-tier phones.
The front camera on the Pixel 5 is 8 megapixels, the same as the Pixel 4, but the new handset has more memory and a larger battery. The phone also adds a feature to use portrait mode in the dark and new modes for enhanced video stabilization.
The Pixel 4a 5G is similar to the Pixel 4a announced in August, but adds a 6.2-inch screen, improved cameras and a faster processor. That phone costs $499, considerably more than the smaller non-5G variant. Both phones are scheduled to be released Oct. 15, Google said.
Apple plans to launch four new iPhones in October, adding faster chips, improved cameras, its largest and smallest display options and an updated design, Bloomberg News has reported.
Google introduced other hardware products on Wednesday, including a new Nest Audio speaker and an updated Chromecast TV streaming device.
— With assistance by Vlad Savov
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Trudeau to resume briefings after his national address boosted downloads of COVID Alert app
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is planning to resume regular briefings similar to those he held early in the pandemic after a plea he made to Canadians during his national address led to a significant bump in the number of downloads of the COVID Alert app.
According to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), COVID Alert had been downloaded 2.75 million times by last Tuesday, the day before the throne speech, which Trudeau followed with a national address that was broadcasted by each of the country’s major television networks.
During Trudeau’s address — which critics said failed to focus on the severity of the second wave of COVID-19 in favour of highlighting the government’s just-revealed agenda — the prime minister drew attention to the notification cellphone app, while talking about how Canada can contain the pandemic.
“In the spring, we all did our part by staying home,” Trudeau said. “And this fall, we have even more tools in the toolbox. People are wearing masks. That’s critical. So keep it up.
“We’ve got the COVID Alert app. Take the teacher who felt fine, but she gets a positive (test result) after the app warned her she’d been exposed. COVID Alert meant she went home instead of the classroom.
“It’s a powerful, free tool that’s easy to use and protects your privacy,” he continued. “So if you haven’t already, download it off the App Store or Google Play. It’s one more way to keep ourselves and others safe.”
Searches of “COVID Alert” spiked on Google immediately after the prime minister’s address. Google Play statistics provided to iPolitics by the PMO show that downloads of COVID Alert also soared immediately after the prime minister’s address.
Between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. last Wednesday, about 15,000 people downloaded COVID Alert onto Android phones alone.
Higher-than-usual download rates continued throughout the evening, as well.
From 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., it was downloaded close to 8,000 times on Androids, and between 9 p.m. and 11 p.m., it was downloaded about 5,000 times.
By Friday, the app had been downloaded 2.91 million times.
Responding to the bump in downloads, which the government hopes to replicate to counter the spike in COVID-19 cases, specially in Ontario and Quebec, Trudeau will resume the semi-regular updates he made from Rideau Cottage in the pandemic’s early days.
With the House of Commons sitting again, Trudeau likely won’t hold the briefings outside his home, a senior source in the PMO told iPolitics. While a schedule hasn’t been set in stone, the PMO envisions Trudeau resuming regular briefings “at the very least” once per week.
Federal officials have been tirelessly trying to convince Canadians to download the COVID Alert app since it was released at the end of July.
COVID Alert does not force users to surrender any personal information and doesn’t track users’ locations.
It relies on Bluetooth technology to exchange randomized codes with other phones that users are close to. Although the app is available across Canada, to function, it relies on users inputting single-use key codes when they test positive for COVID-19. That way, their phone automatically alerts anyone they encountered to the possibility of exposure to COVID-19.
Provincial health authorities are responsible for delivering codes to people who test positive for the coronavirus. So far, only users in Ontario, Saskatchewan, New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador are able to report a diagnosis in the app.
Quebec’s government has spent weeks very publicly rejecting COVID Alert, insisting it wants a made-in-Quebec application instead. That stance shifted on Monday.
Quebec Health Minister Christian Dubé said Quebec would likely adopt COVID Alert in “a matter of days.”
Speaking to reporters again on Tuesday, Dubé said his Ontario counterpart told him she was “not totally satisfied” with how many people were using (or not using) the app.
While Dubé said his government plans to talk to opposition parties about beginning to use the app, he said, “The straight answer is: Yes, we will have the application.”
Quebec Premier François Legault also said the province will launch an advertising campaign to encourage people to download COVID Alert.
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