Apple and Google have nothing to fear from BlackBerry 10 -- but Microsoft does

Hands-on review: BlackBerry 10 is a big step up, but it's awkward to use in some key areas.

By , InfoWorld |  Mobile & Wireless, Apple, BlackBerry

I was pleased that the BlackBerry 10 OS automatically encrypts the device -- like iOS. Android supports encryption, but it has to be turned on manually and takes about 45 minutes; plus, to install OS updates, you have to turn it off temporarily. The BlackBerry 10 OS's encryption can't be turned off by the user as long as you're using an EAS account that requires it.

BlackBerry has touted its Balance technology that lets you set up separate business and personal environments on the smartphone, which you can easily switch between and still have a unified view of in the Hub. But Balance requires BES 10, which is available in a demo version (the final version is due in May), so I could not test it.

The rest of BlackBerry 10The Contacts app is nicely designed, with configurable fields per card as in iOS. Each card is a hub to a person's social-networking activities -- a clone of Microsoft's slick People app approach in Windows Phone and Windows 8. The Calendar app is well-designed, and continues to offer the more sophisticated recurring-event patterns of the previous BlackBerry OS. The Remember app for to-do items is also fine. And BlackBerry users will like the BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) client and its new support for screen sharing and video chats. The Camera app has some nice photo-retouching capabilities. And the Maps app crisply presents maps and driving directions, though like iOS's Maps app it can route only car traffic, not public transit or foot traffic (as Android can). I do wish that more BlackBerry 10 OS apps supported screen rotation; neither the Maps nor Calendar apps do, for example.

Syncing music, videos, photos, and documents over a USB connection is straightforward with the BlackBerry Link app for your Windows PC or Mac, as is backing up your device, but it's no iTunes. When you play music and then switch to an app or the Hub, there's no simple way to pause the music as there is in iOS (via the multitasking dock) or Android (via the notification tray). Instead, you need to change the volume to display a pop-up box that has the Pause control.

The BlackBerry App World app store has a fairly small number of apps, a few dozen serious entries and a similar number of games. BlackBerry says that about 40% of BlackBerry 10 apps are wrapped version of Android apps, not apps really designed for the new OS. That may quickly fill App World, but Android apps as a whole are not that sophisticated, so it remains to be seen how app-oriented the BlackBerry 10 OS will be as opposed to messaging-oriented.


Originally published on InfoWorld |  Click here to read the original story.
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