Today, mobile computing pioneer BlackBerry continued to defy the many tech pundits who have called its demise inevitable by releasing a major upgrade to its next generation smartphone platform. Version 10.2.1 of BlackBerry 10 began rolling out across the globe this morning, bringing new features and enhancements to the ultra-modern operating system that powers the company’s newest line of handsets.
The changelog is rather long. It runs the gamut from simple, cool refinements like a virtual on/off flashlight button to a completely redesigned call screen. BlackBerry has highlighted some of the most noteworthy improvements here.
Importantly, for power users, 10.2.1 allows Android applications to be installed and launched directly without needing to be converted to .bar files. Users upgrading from BB10.1, meanwhile, will find that the Android runtime is now based on Jelly Bean instead of Gingerbread. With 10.2.1, running Android applications is no longer just possible, it’s downright easy. Any BlackBerry 10 user can do it.
If you want an application that isn’t in BlackBerry World, you can install a second storefront – like the Amazon Appstore – and start downloading and running Android applications to your heart’s content. The runtime handles most Android apps without a problem, making BlackBerry’s much-discussed “app gap” a nonissue.
Most people have no idea that the newest BlackBerry handsets can run Android apps, or are loaded with cool technologies like the Time Shift camera. That’s in part because the new devices have been very poorly marketed. If most people were asked to think of a BlackBerry, they’d probably visualize a device with a trackball or a wheel running slow-to-boot software originally developed in the late 1990s.
But the new handsets are very, very different.
The BlackBerry 10 platform is based on QNX, which can be found in many cars and in industrial settings. It is a touch and gesture based operating system.
Some features and user interface elements were inspired by the older BlackBerry OS, but in most respects, BB10 is totally different from its predecessor. It is fast, reliable, and comes with true multitasking support.
To date, BlackBerry has produced four handsets that run BB10: the Z10, Q10, Q5, and Z30 (which were introduced last year in that order).
The two “Z” phones are all-touch models with a revolutionary virtual keyboard that looks like the iconic QWERTY keyboard found on the Bold series. The Z10 is closer in dimensions to an iPhone and has a removable battery, while the Z30 is closer in dimensions to a Galaxy Note and has a nonremovable battery.
The Q10 and Q5, meanwhile, serve as direct successors to the Bold and Curve models, sporting the best physical keyboards to be found on a smartphone.
We’ve just about finished migrating over to BlackBerry 10 here at NPI, and we couldn’t be more satisfied with these new handsets. BlackBerry has built on its core strengths and leapfrogged the competition with BB10. Since last year’s launch, they’ve listened to their users and continually polished the new OS, adding in missing features, fixing bugs, and polishing the design.
With the 10.2.1 update, BlackBerry 10 is even more compelling, and we join other BlackBerry enthusiasts in congratulating the company on shipping it. We can’t wait to try out the new capabilities. Thanks, BlackBerry!