Monday, February 11, 2013

Blackberry 10, how much more is missing?

OK I shall be short and to the point, im confused, I dont get it.
Over recent years, as the OS's of Blackberry have progressed from 4's through to 7.1 which was the last OS I was using before BB10, things have been introduced, implemented  and become a part of the fabric of the whole Blackberry experience. I am going to put together a little list below of the things that I can think of at this moment in time. Other things are probably missing, but hey im 40 this week, im allowed to forget things haha.

Blackberry Protect. Rolled out over the past 2 years its is a built in security net for Blackberry. Backing up contacts, calender, settings and other odds and sods that you would be lost without if your handset was replaced for any reason. Simple Blackberry ID login and you can restore wirelessly. As well as having a device locate, lock and wipe section too. The perfect set up for a modern smartphone....
Only after so much trouble building it into the OS, and getting people using it..... Have dumped 90% of its use, and just kept the 'find my phone' function. HAD this Protect function been working when we all got our Z10, the device swap would have been far less painful. WHY Blackberry, why?
Work with Dropbox or someone and sort out this back up function.

Camera settings. Yes there is the super cool TimeShift function now, and a pretty sharp shooting camera on board. A video camera with great auto-focus while recording, and a much needed zoom function. This  video camera also gets the option to shoot in 720p or 1080p... But errm, the stills camera gets NO such option. No setting whatsoever for image quality. Other than changing the aspect ratio, you are stuck with shooting at maximum resolution. While this isnt terrible, I have found myself in the past, out all day using the camera heavily at a show or something, and needing to reduce the image quality a bit to allow for more pictures. No longer an option.
I know that it could be complex, because of burst shooting lower res images, and TimeShift also using lower res, but please, find a way to give users some flexibility here.

PIN messaging. The famous Blackberry PIN, the ability to send messages not via BBM. Yes there is email, chat clients, and other such stuff, but it seems such a waste. I am guessing this function is done away with due to the new way Blackberry receives data and no longer needing a dedicated BIS plan. But surely if BBM is still around, PIN could be too?

LED colour. Yes I have mentioned this before, but its a function I have since learned was added as a native app a while back on OS 7.1 for certain versions. So why no native version for BB10? Now if you tell me its because you are bench testing it on the mass of 7.1 users before implementing it I might cheer up. But then as BB10 shares no coding from 7.1 anyway, that would probably be a little unbelievable. So whats the reason? I have seen enough posts on Crackberry to know that there are a fair few users who rely on the different colours etc. Hell the LED is the thing that starts the whole Crack addiction, waiting for your LED. Colour LED apps are the users methadone, easing the craving by letting us know whats going on with a simple colour. Please Blackberry, I need a fix!

Notifications, stripped back to a point where my Nokia 100 almost puts the Z10 to shame, where did all the customised settings go? It would be fair to say that for the average casual user, the notifications on past Blackberry handsets have been a little daunting. But once you braved it and went in for the kill, you find that having so many identifiable sounds for each account on the device is very handy indeed. Needless to say, hearing the 3 or 4 pretty sounds the Z10 makes, is really not doing it for me. I liked the sounds from the older OS's, and was annoyed enough when they replaced some of them for 7.1, but now there are hardly any at all, and no options that I can find to differentiate between email accounts, of which I have 5.
I dont want a 'new email' notification. I want a 'you have a gmail and an outlook mail' notification.

Calender. This too seems to have suffered a little. Syncing with other calenders is something Blackberry does pretty well, and once you have overcome the device swap woes, and discovered the settings for what will display, and what will sync, you begin to level out a bit. Until you realise that there are a few flaws.
Google, ok they announced the discontinuation of the Google Sync for Blackberry last year, and it appears there is no support for BB10. Well there is, but it seems its only 1 way. The Z10 can populate its calender from your Google account, but cant update your main Google Calender if you add a new appointment on your Blackberry. If you can, I sure haven't found a way yet.
Also, any appointment that you import from your OWN accounts onto your Blackberry, for some reason you can only edit a small handful of them, the rest just have no edit function at all.
Thats not to mention the glitch when creating a new appointment on the device, but lets not go there.

The Hub. yes, I love my little hub, that everything revolves around. The way it works with the native Facebook and Twitter apps, and lets me know what messages and mentions I have from them. I like the way as advertised, I can reply to ANY message that arrives in the hub without opening the actual app itself. its all very clever.
BUT, there is a sinister twist to all of this joy and happiness. The apps themselves. They just dont seem to work the way a lot of people want them to.
First there is Facebook, with a schizophrenic Timeline. Not sure of what order the clock runs in, let alone what days go in what order. Getting a straight timeline would be amazing, but its something that just doesnt seem to happen too often on the BB10 device. Sometimes it loads and is perfecto, then you are stupid enough to pull down to update... And suddenly you only have your own status messages for the past week!
Then there is Twitter. Getting the direct messages and mentions is all well and good, but I want / need more from it. I can honestly say, as much as I like the Hub, I would happily swap back to a unified inbox again just to get more information into it. I know the idea of the hub is to bring in messages that may require a response, so they can be dealt with in a timely manner and all from one place.
But we are forgetting something here, and I will cover it with its own section.

BB10 is the relaunch, the lifeline for Blackberry in the USA, UK and other markets that it has lost its lion share of over the past 4-5 years. I get that. It is designed to be smooth running, an attractive and intuitive UI, and to recover some status out there in the world. It is the OS that will bring forwards the new age of Blackberry, and take it out of the office and into the real world. I get all of this.
But correct me if im mistaken, but certainly here in the UK, a LOT of kids already have Blackberry's. My niece and nephew have them, my friends children have them, and its one of the most common devices to see hanging around on street corners. I mean... OMG right, (My point is, Blackberry is not an unknown quantity in the UK, its users have been happy for a long time with its devices and services, and contrary to belief, its not embarrassing to own one. Although there have been some amusing media assassination attempts recently with reports of phone thieves giving Blackberry's back to people as they are not worth nicking etc.
Getting back on track, what I am trying to say here is that while Blackberry has told us they are trying to appeal to a wider market, all they seem to have done here is fragment it a little more.

NON commercial users want their social networks ringing and pinging 24 hours a day. They dont use LinkedIn, FourSquares is possibly a little uber social for the average user, and email isnt their biggest form of communications.
Social Feeds is
Oh scrub that, Blackberry took Social Feeds away too.
The business user will relish the sharpness and sharp pinpoint way the Hub works, thats fine, the business market is an important customer of course, needing to tap into the booming BYOD market is a massive part of the business plan for Blackberry.
But now think younger user. I would say they need their own 'Social Hub' but you cant use that as Samsung already have it on the S2. I know. I use it and love it. But a line needs to be drawn. Just as Blackberry Balance allows BES devices to swap between work and social, so the average user should also have these options too. Personally I want to know when
TfL and the Met Police helicopter have tweeted something. I like knowing that BBC Travel  have tweeted about a problem in London with the traffic, as it helps me in my work (honestly). I am sure im not the only one who users more than just the mentions and messages on Twitter as a business tool. So why cant I choose if I receive notification in my unified inbox Hub thing,or not?

Another little niggle is the touch keyboard. When setting up a handset for the first time you set the region you are in so the handset can set up a few things. With the 9900 you could decide the default currency key. Now on the Z10 with a keyboard that is nothing more than a variable display, is it too much to ask for the £ or Euro symbol to be on the first page of special characters, so I can do a single swipe down rather than 2 swipes down just to put a currency symbol in place. I have set the device to UK, so please can I have a keyboard to match my location.

Organising and managing photos etc is also a pain too. No longer is there a simple option to rename a picture or image. This has to be done from File Manager, as does the moving of images to folders. Just another example of things that worked perfectly fine on previous OS's that for some reason Blackberry either cannot work out how to do it, or dont think the user wants to do anymore.

The browser. You dont open the browser to the safety of your history and bookmarks page anymore. Nor can you manage the page it opens to in any way whatsoever. Instead it opens displaying what seems to be a mish-mash of last visted sites, and frequently visited sites. In fact this opening page to the browser is SO awkward, it will even sometimes populate a few of the panes with the same website, which is a little silly.
Personally I would love the original browser opening page from OS7 back, with the list of top 5 last visted, and top 5 bookmarks, with the option to expand the history or bookmarks at a single press. It all seems a bit messy right now.

The browser and picture issues leave one awkward situation. Now if you were to hand the device to someone and ask them to simply open pics or browser, if you had last been looking at anything a little naughty or even just secretive, you will be busted. It seems the top secret, high security, encrypted device of the past, now just wants to show the world what we are looking at, without a single piece of digging up the dirt being required.

Like I said at the beginning there are more things that irritate me slightly, and more functions that I would love to see the return of, but for now thats all that comes to the front of my ageing mind.

Til next whine.......

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