Blackberry makes a comebackBy Anne A. Jambora
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Blackberry, the frontrunner of smartphones only six years ago, before it was dislodged by Apple and Android, makes a comeback with a redesigned look and user interface (UI) that’s finally attuned with the times.
And, at its core, a new, long-overdue powerful OS that enables users to toggle between apps in a zip. The all-touch BlackBerry Z10 has arrived in stores.
The 4.2-inch screen, while a tad small by today’s standards, produces crisp, rich resolution of 356 pixels per inch. It’s also packed with an 8-megapixel camera (back) and 2-megapizel (front), LTE 4G wireless broadband, a dual-core processor, a new BlackBerry 10 browser and a16G storage expandable up to 64G.
Its messaging system, unparalleled to this day, is, without a doubt, BlackBerry’s strongest edge over its competition. And that’s exactly why the Canadian company BlackBerry, despite lackluster reviews and sinking shares not too long ago, remains a favorite among business customers.
“We’re in an era when, if you think about smartphones, you need a good browser, great messaging, solid applications. Social networking is expected. When you talk about BlackBerry 10, you’re talking about the future of global computing where you have multiple ways to connect to your global experience, not only with yourself but with the people and things around you,” said Cameron Vernest, director for the Philippines, BlackBerry.
Hundreds of thousands of apps
To stay in the fiercely competitive smartphone game, the Z10 also offers over 70,000 apps at launch. While that’s nowhere close to hundreds of thousands from other platforms, 70,000 apps is the most so far for any new operating platforms from any company.
Preinstalled are expected apps like Facebook and Twitter, and LinkedIn and Foursquare. Users will also have access to leading app providers such as Rovio, Disney, Skype, Cisco, SAP and Box.
Sorely missing from the list is the popular photo-sharing app Instagram, and other relevant apps such as YouTube, Flipboard and other favorite iOS/Android games. Although Vernest did not specify, he said more apps would be offered in the coming months.
The eight-megapixel camera, while modest by today’s new releases, features an impressive, nifty tool called Time Shift. Snap a group shot, for instance, that would have been perfect if not for that one friend who blinked just when you click the shutter. With Time Shift, you can select your friend’s face, swipe backward and forward through two seconds’ worth of time, and choose a frame where the eyes are open. Voila, the perfect picture.
One of Z10’s best feature, however, is the BlackBerry Hub, a well-designed interface for all your conversations—work and personal—including text messages, e-mail, voicemail, BBM, social-media updates and notifications. This is where you receive and reply to messages. Accounts are displayed on a list, but each message is represented with their icons if you open the main inbox.
It also lists the number of unread messages, and an asterisk for new messages. So if you have chosen to ignore numerous messages for weeks, you’d still know you have a new message from that list via the asterisk.
It’s a useful feature, considering that most smartphones just show you the number of unread messages. The ubiquitous blinking red light informing you of a new message—BlackBerry’s signature feature—is, naturally, still very much around.
A distinct design feature of the Z10 is the absence of a home button, simply because you don’t need it. The Hub, for example, is a timesaver that reduces your need to jump from one app to the next just to check your messages and reply. To get to the home screen grid of app icons, just swipe the screen.
The BlackBerry Flow enables you to move from an active window straight to the Hub. So if you’re immersed in content and you see the blinking red light, just swipe to go to the Hub, read and reply, and go back to where you what you were doing.
It’s also quick to open content from different windows when switching between apps since previously opened programs stay open, albeit in a frozen state. Or, while in a meeting, tap a person’s name on your list and see his/her latest tweet or LinkedIn profile.
The Z10 also features a keyboard that understands you and how you use words, phrases and even language. When you load your data into the phone, it picks up data of your language usage through your messages, specifically how you interact and reply to people.
By the time you’re ready to, say, send a text message, the Z10 is already familiar with your behavior and will suggest words that you can choose from with the flick of your fingertip.
“Year 2013 is very special. It is the 10th anniversary of BlackBerry in the Philippines. BlackBerry has helped users stay active, productive and engaged with whatever it is that they do with their smartphones. Since its introduction, the Philippines has become one of the most inspiring countries for BlackBerry,” Vernest said.
The Z10 also features BlackBerry Balance that separates and secures work apps and data from personal content; BlackBerry Remember that combines memos and tasks, organizing and collecting information that also allows you to wirelessly sync your Microsoft Outlook and Evernote with your phone.
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