BlackBerry releases major OS update

2014-01-29 08:30
The BlackBerry Z10 and Z30 are seen side by side. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

The BlackBerry Z10 and Z30 are seen side by side. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

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Cape Town - In its race to catch up to smartphone leaders, BlackBerry on Tuesday announced a major update to its operating system.

The Canadian-based company upgraded its operating system to BlackBerry 10.2.1, designed to appeal to the company's core target of business users.

Some of the updates include the ability to customise the BlackBerry Hub. The Hub is a central application of the new generation BlackBerry and it allows a user to quickly access all social interactions on the device - it's a nifty feature.

Once the Hub customisation is complete, it is activated by a pinch gesture.

BlackBerry has also changed the way that phone calls are answered in the new software system. Instead of swiping up and down to reject or accept the call respectively, one now swipes right or left to achieve the same effect.

Refinement

This may in response to some customers who find the large screen format uncomfortable as well as for easier compatibility with the much larger BlackBerry Z30.

As an adaptation to improve security on the device, the screen on BlackBerry 10 smartphones can now be locked with a picture and unlocked with a number, similar to both iPhones and Android devices.

However, despite the improvement to refine the BlackBerry experience, the platform still has some way to go to match features that iOS and Android users have come to take for granted.

While the latest BlackBerry OS has included group e-mails and SMSes, a blocking feature, particularly useful for spam, is not yet available.



BlackBerry has been working hard to ensure a healthy app ecosystem, but some users, impatient to wait for compatible apps, have begun using Android emulators to use apps on their BlackBerry 10 smartphones.

The new OS has a battery and device monitor, but in developing markets like SA, a built-in data manger would also be useful to give users an accurate reading on how much data the device consumes over a set period.

On the enterprise side, BlackBerry has long been acknowledged as a secure platform and the update will grant customers additional security, BlackBerry said.

The new update will also unlock the radio on BlackBerry 10 smartphones and allow offline reading of web pages.

- Follow Duncan on Twitter

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