Part 1 is here. Part 3 is here
The key selling point of all modern smartphones are the software it runs. Apps. Included apps and 3rd party apps have to work fluidly and function like a well oiled machine. If not, well you get old BlackBerry and WebOS. RIP buddies.
BlackBerry seems to realize this and are really pushing for the big names on their platform. In addition they’ve really played this one close to the chest and produced a truly different and innovative operating system UI. The only question now is how it all works. After hours of research, I have a good idea of how it works.
Let’s start with the Included software. The OS implements a really neat gesture system for multitasking and messaging. There is no homescreen, but rather a list of 8 most recently used applications. This seems strange, and it very much is. There is no way to permanently keep applications pinned or widgets visable. You are limited to 8 things at a time. This limit will really be a bust for people that use a lot of apps. Some apps minimize to be widgets with realtime information, but this feature is worthless once you use 8 apps after it and it disappears. Then you have to go rooting through the app drawer to find it and re open it, kicking something else out. I expected more from BlackBerry in this department, especially after seeing the demand for multi-tasking and widgets from the Android and Apple crowds.
Messaging is where BlackBerry has always shined though, and this continues to be no exception. The messaging application is accessible from anywhere on the phone by making a simple gesture. Even more interesting is that this application is integrated with all number of messaging services, so you get ALL of your messages in ONE place. While this sounds like an amazing idea, and is something people have been begging Google for since 2.1, the BlackBerry implementation is not perfect. The application does not automatically send the user back to the list view after responding or viewing a message. Also, the Twitter extension does not show the full message so as a whole, the messaging application requires a lot of back tracking. These are simple issues however, and should be fixed with a software update. The keyboard is very good for the OS and does things like editing, prediction, and foreign characters with ease. Editing is much easier than it is on competitor devices, which isn’t saying much. Even so, its a nice touch.
Continuing with messaging, BBM has undergone a heavy update and now supports voice chat, video chat, and screen sharing. The first two features are available on most other clients, but screen share is very neat. It’s often quicker than sending a screencap or a text / call.
Among other things, the camera software and browser have been fixed as well. The camera has a neat feature called TimeShift, where you take pictures in burst mode and pick different times for different parts of the picture to make your ideal photo. There is also a built in video editor called StoryMaker, which allows the user to add pictures, videos, and soundtracks together for simple edited clips. The browser, while not significantly changed, just works now. It never worked well on the old OS.
Now on to the thing everybody is wondering about – WHAT ABOUT THIRD PARTY APPS? Well they’re here, and there’s a lot of them. 70,000 to be exact. There are many big names on board too so you can expect to find Skype, WhatsApp, Kindle, Rdio, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Angry Birds, Dropbox, Fruit Ninja, Jetpack Joyride, Evernote, and many more. The problem is that even with all of these big name apps, many are still poor quality. Another report stated about 60k are still garbage. Many seem to be BlackBerry PlayBook ports or Android Apps. The Android app support is still limited to the clunky 2.3 Gingerbread emulation that existed on the PlayBook. The platform is still brand new though so there’s a possibility that BlackBerry will pull a rabbit out of their hat and get a ton of developer support soon. Hopefully.
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