BlackBerry’s fortunes appear to be on the rise. After years of declining sales, the Canadian firm is starting to experience something of a return to form. The last year has seen the successful launch of two premium handsets, the BlackBerry Passport and the BlackBerry Classic, both of which have been well received by industry insiders and the general public. The recent announcement that BlackBerry was teaming with Boeing to develop a James Bond inspired ‘Black Phone’ with state of the art data encryption and a self-destruct feature put the firm’s name back in the limelight, and confirmed that they were still a force to be reckoned with. BlackBerry continues to reestablish its reputation with the release of an update to the BB 10 operating system, featuring a bevy of new features designed to make the handset the preferred business mobility device.
What to Expect From the Blackberry 10 OS Update
Blackberry began rolling out the 10.3.1 update at the end of February, starting with Europe and the UK and ultimately extending throughout all the major markets. The improved operating system features a streamlined interface, with updated icons and instant access to the user’s favorite applications. General improvements have been made to the operating system’s camera and multimedia functions, bringing them in line with what is currently offered by Apple and Android. Further enhancements have been made across the board, along with the addition of some exciting new features. Let’s take a look at just some of what the new BlackBerry 10.3.1 OS has to offer.
- BlackBerry Blend
This cross platform feature allows the user to read and respond to texts and emails, access files and media, and collaborate with business contacts from whatever device they are using. The BlackBerry Blend feature is compatible with a number of operating systems, including Apple’s iOS and Mac, Windows, and Android. BlackBerry Blend was launched last year, and it is an impressive feature.
- BlackBerry Assistant
BlackBerry Assistant is the firm’s answer to Apple’s Siri and Samsung’s S Voice. This is BlackBerry’s first digital assistant, and it can be accessed by either voice or text commands. The feature intelligently determines the mode of interaction, and responds accordingly. BlackBerry Assistant allows the user to manage all of the BB 10’s native applications, both work and personal, through one interface.
- BBM Meetings
The BlackBerry Meetings feature has been improved, and users can now schedule, host, and participate in meetings from any internet ready device. This cross platform feature now supports Android, iPhone, Windows and Mac.
- BlackBerry Hub
The BlackBerry Hub feature has been improved with the addition of Instant Action, making it easier to manage emails, texts, meetings, phone calls, and social media accounts. The Instant Action feature also allows users to organize their in-box without having to open individual emails. Emails can now be flagged, filed, or deleted with a single tap.
- Classic Keyboard Shortcuts
Keyboard Shortcuts have been restored with BlackBerry 10.3.1. A favorite feature on the BlackBerry Classic, Keyboard Shortcuts allow the user to assign actions to a letter on the handset’s physical keyboard. For example, speed dial for a certain contact can be assigned to a specific letter of the keyboard. Blackberry Hub functions can be assigned to specific letters, such as T for top of the user’s email in-box. This was a popular feature on early BlackBerry models, and it makes a welcome return.
- Customized Power Saving Profiles
With BB 10.3.1 it is now possible to customize the handset’s power saving profile, extending the unit’s battery life. Applications and functions can now be disabled to reduce their drain on the handset’s battery, allowing users to remain productive between charges.
- Increased App Availability
One complaint often leveled against BlackBerry was the limited number of available apps. That all changes with the BB 10.3.1. update, and devices running the latest operating system will now be compatible with Android apps. Users will now have access to Android apps through the Amazon App store as well as through BlackBerry World.
Where and When to Get the Update
The BlackBerry 10.3.1 update began its roll out at the end of February. It is available to all Blackberry devices currently running the BlackBerry 10 operating system. Supported devices include:
- BlackBerry Passport
- BlackBerry Z30
- BlackBerry Z10
- BlackBerry Q10
- BlackBerry Porsche
BlackBerry 10 users can update their handsets three ways.
- Via the Web
PC and Mac users should visit the BlackBerry website where you can download and install the desired update. Simply click Check for Updates and download the BlackBerry Link. Connect your smartphone and wait for the online prompt to update your software.
- Via BlackBerry Link
If you already have BlackBerry Link installed on your computer, simply go to the Settings view and click Install Update to update your software.
- Over The Air (OTA) Update
For over-the-air updates go to the Home screen of your smartphone and swipe down to the Settings menu. Tap Settings > Software Updates > Check for Updates. If the 10.3.1 update is available for your handset simply tap Install.
The BlackBerry 10.3.1 software update is yet another step in the firm’s return to prominence in the smartphone market. While it will be some time before BlackBerry fans get their hands on a James Bond inspired Black Phone, they can at least enjoy the improved features and greater productivity offered by the latest version of the BlackBerry 10 operating system.