UPDATED 07:51 EST / JANUARY 31 2013

Has BlackBerry Found the Right “Keys” to Hit the High Notes?

In today’s mobile news roundup: BlackBerry appoints Alicia Keys as global creative director; Microsoft to launch Surface Pro on Feb.9; Nokia HERE will be integrated in Toyota’s mapping services; Vertu to create a $10K Android phone; and Tumblr adds mature label to iOS app.

BlackBerry appoints Alicia Keys as global creative director

BlackBerry, the company formerly known as Research in Motion, had a few surprises at yesterday’s BlackBerry 10 event.  Aside from the name change, and the long wait for the Z10 and Q10 to be commercially available, the company stunned the tech world when it announced that singer/songwriter/actress Alicia Keys is now BlackBerry’s Global Creative Director.

At the event, Keys stated that she was once a BlackBerry user but experimented on other devices, like the iPhone.  But now she’s excited to be back on BlackBerry as well as working closely with developers, carriers, and other artists for the newest platform.

“I’m fascinated by technology. I’ve always wanted to work directly with a technology company,” said Keys. “I wanted to do something where I could grow professionally and personally.”

Microsoft to launch Surface Pro on Feb.9

Microsoft invited special guests in a private evening reception on February 8 at the Best Buy in Union Square in New York City, where the Windows 8 Surface Pro will be officially launched just before midnight.

After the official launch, attendees of the event can be the first to purchase the said device before it becomes available to the public on February 9.  The Windows 8 Surface Pro will retail starting at $899.

Nokia HERE will be integrated in Toyota’s mapping service

Nokia struck a deal with Toyota Motor Europe which entails that HERE, Nokia’s mapping service, will be integrated in Toyota’s Tough & Go navigation and infotainment systems.

The integration will offer high-quality and comprehensive mapping data, community-generated content to car owners in Europe, Russia and the Middle East from early next year.  The two companies will collaborate as to how Nokia’s Location Platform will be leveraged in order to deliver the best-in-class content.

Nokia has previously signed mapping deals with BMW, Mercedes, Volkswagen, and Hyundai as well as in-car entertainment specialists Pioneer and Garmin.

Vertu to create $10K Android phone

Vertu, the previously Nokia-owned company known for creating luxury phones, is said to be creating a high-end Android phone worth $10,000.  According to sources, the expensive Android phone will come at the second half of this year and will feature Android 4.0.4, an 800×480 display, a 1.5GHz processor, Bluetooth 4.0, and NFC.

Currently, Vertu uses Sapphire Crystal for its devices screens, and for the body leather, polished ceramic and some of the phones have stones like ruby for its keyboard.  Eric Mack of CNET stated that for $10,000, Vertu might be using unobtanium – a fictional, extremely rare, costly, or impossible material.

Tumblr adds mature label to iOS app

To avoid the wrath of Apple and risk being ousted for having mature content, Tumblr has added a 17+ age warning to its iPhone and iPad app.  New users, or those who will be updating their Tumblr app will see the warning before the app is downloaded or updated.

“Tumblr contains age-restricted material,” the app says when upgrading. “Tap OK to confirm that you are 17 or over. Your content will then begin downloading immediately.”
This might be Tumblr’s preemptive strike after Vine, Twitter’s video editing-sharing app, took a hit when users posted explicit videos on the service.

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