So, my new BlackBerry went back. After two weeks, I came to the realization that the software pretty much isn't ready. The operating system is fast and fluid, the browser is spectacular (seriously faster than any browser on iOS or Android), but there are no apps. And the ability to run Android apps, which finally came via the OS 10.2.1 update, is too flaky for daily use. (Plus, running Android apps on the Q10's square-shaped screen was really awkward.)
But, six months from now? With this week's leak of an early version of Blackberry OS 10.3, and a functional Android app store, we might be looking at a comeback. The leaker, on the other hand, might be looking at a courtroom.
OS 10.3: Prettier, Faster, On Par With Apple/Android?
It certainly looks better, with a more "flat" design, like recent versions of iOS and Android. And it appears to run a lot more smoothly than 10.2.1, which was the version I demoed.
The real key, however, is going to be the Android apps. The OS can certainly run apps, but right now, a consumer has to manually install an app store, or manually download the files for the app, which requires way more tech geekery than your average smartphone user or law firm partner possesses. If BlackBerry were to cultivate their own Android app store, or pre-install the Amazon alternative, things would be a lot easier.
Also, the biggest thing I missed was Google Now. Swiping upward and saying "Ok Google, navigate to 123 Main St." was a godsend, as was "Ok Google, is Taylor Swift working on a new album?" It looks like BlackBerry is working on a voice assist app to compete with Google Now, Apple's Siri, and Microsoft's Cortana. If they nail it, and the app store issues, a more mature BlackBerry could be a viable option for those of us who are constantly tethered to our smartphones.
Speaking of more mature BlackBerries, the operating system leak came with hints of a number of new (or prototype) devices. We already know about an exciting QWERTY phone with a standard rectangular screen (no more squares!), but there appear to be a number of devices in testing right now, including a high-end 1080p 5-inch touchscreen phone. N4BB has more on the newly discovered devices.
CEO John Chen is Not Amused
"Leaks are, at their best, distracting, and at their worst downright misleading to our stakeholders," John Chen wrote on the official BlackBerry blog. "The business implications of a leak are seldom advantageous."
Well, that's certainly a debatable point. After all, you can't build buzz for a brand or a new device without rumors and leaks. Look at the annual hoopla over Apple's iPhone and iPad updates, or Google's refreshes of their Nexus line.
That being said, this leaker sounds like he crossed the line:
"This is why I want to make you aware that, right now, we are pursuing legal action against a party who stole confidential information about a future BlackBerry product and made that information public," Chen wrote. "This person falsely posed as an employee of one of our carrier partners to obtain access to secured networks."
Yowza. There's being a fan, there's being a fanatic, and there's being a felon. But hey, on the bright side Mr. Chen, the entire tech world is talking about your phones and OS now. Before today, most of them had probably forgotten that you existed.
- Microsoft Crossed a Line by Searching Blogger's Hotmail (FindLaw's Technologist Blog)
- 50 Twitter Accounts Lawyers Should Follow Religiously (Part II) (FindLaw's Technologist Blog)
- FindLaw's Legal Technology Center (FindLaw)