It has been quite a while since BlackBerry updated its own mobile operating system, but now the wait is over for the BlackBerry faihtful. The company has just announced the launch of BlackBerry 10 version 10.3.1 which, among other things, gives users access to Android apps via Amazon’s marketplace. But more than just the new features, one of the important highlights of the update is that it is available for all existing BlackBerry smartphones in the market that are already running BlackBerry 10 OS.
Perhaps admitting the lack of numbers and diversity in their own app selection, BlackBerry has opened its doors to Android apps via a special compatibility layer. That functionality is now being introduced to owners of BB 10 devices. But don’t expect the full roster of Google Play Store apps, as BlackBerry’s partnership is with Amazon instead, which isn’t a complete deal breaker as the app selection is mostly similar on the two storefronts.
The update also pulls in some of BlackBerry’s latest apps. For example, BlackBerry Blend will give users access to mails, messages, and files stored on any computer running any OS that is connected to BlackBerry’s cloud. Assistant, on the other hand, is a personal virtual assistant with a slight twist. BlackBerry advertises this feature as smarter than your average Siri in the way it responds to your commands. Type out a query and it will answer in text. Speak out your command and it will respond with voice. But if you speak to it through a Bluetooth headset, it will respond, by voice, with more details, presuming you are not able to see the screen at that moment.
Those with devices with physical QWERTY keyboards will probably be overjoyed to know that they can now assign action shortcuts to keys. This will become specially handy with the updated BlackBerry Hub app with Instant Actions. For example, simply press “T” to get to the top of your message queue. The camera has also been augmented with new functionality, like auto detection and recommendation of camera modes, a panorama feature, and the ability to record videos and still photos as the same time.
Unlike the initial 10.3.0 release, this update covers all BlackBerry 10 OS devices. This includes the BlackBerry Passport, Z30, Z3, Z10, Q10, and Q5, and the luxury Porsche Design P’9983 and P’9982. The rollout will start in Europe, and then proceed to the Middle East, Africa, and finally Asia Pacific. That is, of course, depending on carrier integration and release.