Research in Motion (RIM) is no more. The firm has ditched its convoluted name in favour of the more recognizable BlackBerry name.
With this has come its much-touted BlackBerry 10 system, which it is hoping will help it claw its way back up the smartphone league table.
Between 2006 and 2008 BlackBerry devices dominated the mobile world, especially in the enterprise space where users loved their security and keypads, ideal for bashing out rapid fire messages. The term CrackBerry was even coined to underline the addiction some had with their devices.
Now, though, after Apple and Android’s ascent, BlackBerry is pale shadow of its former self, with BB10 seen by many as its last chance at major success. The operating system has, so far, impressed, and the new devices look swish.
As such, we’ve rounded up 10 of our favorite features that could help the firm regain a strong foothold in the market.
1. Super swish text input
BlackBerry lovers always swore by their Qwerty keyboards, claiming they could type faster and with fewer mistakes than their touchscreen rivals.
However, with its first true touchscreen device in the Z10, the firm has proven it can match, and even surpass, its rivals with its typing input technology one of the most impressive we’ve used.
Not only is it fast and accurate, but it features a unique, swipe-to-insert technology so that it flashes up the word it thinks you want for you to ‘push’ into the composer box.
This works surprisingly well and could well prove good enough for even the most strong-willed BlackBerry keyboard-lover.
2. BlackBerry Balance separates work and play
For corporate customers, BlackBerry Balance will be a key feature to help keep corporate data separate from a user’s own personal information.
This new feature creates separate work and personal environments on a BlackBerry 10 device, once it is linked up with a corporate BlackBerry Enterprise Server.
The work environment is controlled by the IT department and encompasses their corporate emails plus any enterprise apps pushed out over the air by an administrator, while the user is free to have their own apps and content in the personal environment.
Data in the work environment can be locked outside of working hours, and for firms with a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policy, the work environment can be wiped if the employee leaves the company, leaving their personal data untouched.
3. BlackBerry Hub
BlackBerry’s continued focus on business customers is reflected in BlackBerry Hub, a new feature which is like a super-charged unified inbox.
Accessed by swiping to the right in the BlackBerry 10 operating system, BlackBerry Hub aggregates messages from all of your email accounts, if you so wish, be it Gmail, Outlook or Microsoft Exchange.
You can also opt for the Hub to display your Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn messages, which you can easily access while within any other application.
4. BB Safeguard
Data security has always been a key selling point for BlackBerry devices. Looking to keep this up BlackBerry’s loaded BB10 with built in Safeguard features.
Safeguard allows users to protect their information, manage their online privacy, and find or lock their smartphone if lost or stolen, with its Protect feature.
It does this by letting users set up Application Permissions to approve activate Private Browsing using the Privacy and Security menu in the BlackBerry 10 browser.
This will no doubt be another tick in the box for enterprises considering sticking with, or returning to, the BlackBerry platform as the importance of security remains of high-priority for many organisations.
5. BBM Screen Share
BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) has long been one of the most popular apps available on the BlackBerry platform. In BlackBerry 10 this has been given a makeover with the ability to have video chats in addition to voice calls with contacts, bringing BBM in line with apps such as Apple’s FaceTime.
In addition, users can share their screen with the other person, using this capability to show photos, review a business document, or perhaps give a presentation using the connection. Users can even share the view from their BlackBerry’s camera, the firm said.
While sounding fairly innocuous, this capability has the potential to enable better collaboration between users without requiring a Windows PC.
6. BB Protect
BlackBerry Protect is a free service available for all BB10 handset owners and offers a host of innovative security features.
One of the coolest of these is the ability to track your BlackBerry if stolen or lost. This can be done either by making the handset make a distinctive beeping noise to let you know which sofa cushion it’s fallen under.
Meanwhile its View Location service lets users check an online map to see where there handset is.
Even better, the service also lets users remotely lock the lost device to display a message, meaning they can either post a reward for its return or leave a “personal” note for the thief.
7. Remember storage tool
For users who appreciate the folders capability in an email client like Outlook, Remember takes the concept of organising your stuff to a new level.
The app allows users to create named folders to hold related information from disparate sources, so it can be accessed in one place. This includes emails, photos, documents or web pages.
Described by BlackBerry as being like a scrapbook or corkboard for your projects, Remember also lets the user create tasks and assign due dates for these, as well as tracking your progress.
8. Timeshift photo app
Timeshift is one of the more intriguing features of BlackBerry 10, as it sees the firm outdoing the likes of iOS and Android with its own innovative photo editing tool.
Available from within the camera app when the shot setting is set to ‘Burst Mode,’ Timeshift enables users to rewind photos to get the perfect picture. For example, if a friend has their eyes closed in an image, you will be able to select their face and wind the photo back frame by frame to find a moment when their eyes were open.
However, BlackBerry better hope the feature manages to win over customers quickly, as Nokia’s acquisition of Scalado is likely to see the Windows Phone maker roll out a similar feature any day now.
9. 4G access from the off
While 4G isn’t a unique capability to BlackBerry, the fact all its phones will come with LTE support as standard is definitely a boost as it will ensure all users are able to access superfast networks from the off – or once they’re available in the UK after the auctions taking place.
With reams of data now being accessed on smartphones the ability to use superfast data connections is a definite plus, for workers and consumers alike.
Ensuring BlackBerry 10 devices keep pace with the demands, and capabilities, on the market is a vital to lure customers back to the fold and to compete with rival devices from Apple, Samsung and Nokia.
10. Story Maker video editing
Thanks to the influx of custom camera apps like Apple’s iMovie app, users expect their smartphone to be able to more than just shoot video. Now people want to be able to edit, tweak and even add effects to their videos.
Thankfully this fact hasn’t been lost on BlackBerry, which has loaded its BB10 operating system with its custom built Story Maker video editing software.
The Story Make app is a crafty bit of software that lets you combine pictures and videos, along with a music track to create your own short movies.
Once done the app also boasts social features letting users immediately share their movie on YouTube.
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