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Blackphone Gears Up To Release Security-Focused Tablet

Michael Moore joined TechWeek Europe in January 2014 as a trainee before graduating to Reporter later that year. He covers a wide range of topics, including but not limited to mobile devices, wearable tech, the Internet of Things, and financial technology.

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New release follows success of initial Blackphone smartphone earlier this year

Privacy-focused smartphone maker Blackphone is preparing to launch a tablet following the success of its initial mobile device.

“Blackphone as it is, is our first device not our last device,” company co-founder Jon Callas told the BBC.

“We are going to have a tablet soon.”

Since going on sale in June 2014, the Blackphone, which runs PrivatOS, a modified version of Android, but using the company’s apps rather than those from Google, has been selling “very well”, Callas said, although he admitted that its device has limited appeal.

“We expect that it is going to be a niche, but it’s a larger niche every day.”

Blackphone booth MWCEdge of a wave

Callas did not disclose any information regarding release date or price for the tablet, but did say that he expected interest in the device to be high as consumers become more and more concerned about the security of their smartphone following several high-profile snooping shocks.

The revelations of the whistleblower Edward Snowden, which showed the scale of government intrusion into phone calls, showed that “we were onto something,” Callas said.

“We’ve been very fortunate that we’ve been on the early edge of a wave.”

Speaking to TechRadar, Callas also appeared to confirm that the company was also working on additional smartphone products offering differing levels of features and security.

“I think [futures handsets will arrive] with different features and different sorts of services on them, because different people have different privacy and security needs,” he said.

The company announced last month that it was launching a “bug bounty” programme that will reward hackers for finding vulnerability either in the Silent Circle family of services or the PrivatOS operating system, a sure sign that future devices are on the way.

Released for sale in July, the Blackphone offers users encrypted calls, text messages and extra protection when browsing the web. It quickly sold out of its initial run following its release, with the security offerings from Silent Circle hailed as an important step in ensuring user data remained protected when using the device.

This includes the Silent Phone and Silent Text applications, which encrypt voice and video calls and text messages, even with attachments, alongside a smart Wi-Fi manager, which prevents hotspots from capturing information from the device and a security centre which gives users great control over application permissions.

“Blackphone’s arrival puts mobile privacy directly in the hands of professionals and consumers everywhere,” company CEO Toby Weir-Jones said upon its launch.

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