Category Archives: BlackBerry

5 BlackBerry Storm features that the iPhone still lacks

With a higher resolution screen, a better camera, LTE support, and an OS that has been updated in the past eight years, the iPhone 7 is far superior to the BlackBerry Storm. Still there are a few things that the old phone still does better. With Apple releasing iOS 11 next month, lets hope that some of these features get included.

Unified Inbox

The BlackBerry Storm had a messages app that combined multiple email accounts, SMS, BBM, Twitter, and almost all other messaging platforms into a single feed. While not as complete as BlackBerry 10’s Hub, it was still superior to the siloed experience found on iOS. Attempts to address this issue on iOS with a notification center are not remotely useful.

A default email client that supports push for gmail accounts

The default email client for iOS is bad in many ways. However the lack of push support for the world’s most popular email service is particularly embarrassing. Third party clients support this, and BlackBerry has had this feature since well before the iPhone was ever launched.

Notification LED

One of BlackBerry’s simpler features was a small led that could be configured to blink different colors for different types of notifications. This allows you to know if you have any messages just a glance, and without even touching your phone. I am utterly baffled as to why other phone manufactures have not copied this feature.

An accessible file system

My iPhone has 128 GB of storage, yet I am unable to download email attachments simply because there is no place to just store arbitrary files. This could also be useful for transferring songs and pictures on and off from the phone. Apple’s attempt to hide complexity is actually making simple operations more complex.

A clickable screen that actually clicks

Honestly, neither the BlackBerry Storm’s click screen, nor the iPhone’s 3-D touch are good ideas. An interface that can work with a simple touch screen is a superior experience. But if you are going to have a clickable screen, you may as well commit to having a clickable screen. The 3-D touch feature on iOS is difficult to trigger intentionally, and in practice is more likely to trigger a long press event.

BlackBerry 10 OS distribution

The distribution of BlackBerry 10 OS versions continues to be unchanged this summer with roughly half of all users running OS 10.3.3 and over 90% of users on at least some variant of 10.3.X.

This data was collected by BlackBerry World for downloads of the free strategy game Pixelated and the free checklist app Stuff I Need. Data shown on the chart is from the beginning of July 2016 through the end of July 2017.

BlackBerry never really supported Flash

Indulge me for a minute while I talk about two dead technologies.

Yesterday, Adobe finally announced the end for Flash, although it has been mostly dead for a few years now. This was driven largely by the lack of support on smartphones, and while the lack of Flash support on iOS is well known, BlackBerry quietly did very little to help Flash along.

In the early days of BlackBerry the browsers were underpowered and couldn’t really support HTML, let alone anything more powerful. BlackBerry started shipping a serious browser in 2008. Not only did it not support Flash, but it had javascript turned off by default. In 2010 (a few months after Steve Job’s letter), BlackBerry shipped their first webkit based browser. It also did not support Flash. All through this time, BlackBerry would publicly support Adobe, and then not ship anything on their phones.

In 2013 BlackBerry 10 was launched, and Flash support was finally included in the browser. However it was disabled by default. Less then two years later in early 2015 BlackBerry released OS 10.3.1 which removed support for Flash.

Despite almost a decade of standing behind Adobe Flash, BlackBerry only actually included it on their phones for a bit under two years, during which time it was always disabled by default. Furthermore, they did this years after everyone else had already moved on. Apple was far more straight forwards in their rejection of Flash, but BlackBerry did the technology no favors as well…

BlackBerry 10 OS distribution

The distribution of BlackBerry 10 OS versions is just as boring as you would expect it to be for an abandoned operating system. Almost all users are on some variant of OS 10.3.X with roughly half running the newest point release.

This data was collected by BlackBerry World for downloads of the free strategy game Pixelated and the free checklist app Stuff I Need. Data shown on the chart is from the beginning of May 2016 through the end of May 2017.

Pixelated released for iPhone

After eight years of requests, Pixelated Plus is finally available for the iPhone. This new version of the game has all the same features as the BlackBerry and Windows releases of Pixelated. A one time in-app purchase can be used to unlock all statistics and features and grid sizes in the game.

The BlackBerry 10 version of Pixelated Plus has also been updated to add make showing the number of remaining moves in a game to be optional.

About Pixelated

Pixelated is an addictive puzzle based strategy game that requires a mixture of skill and luck in order to accomplish. The object of the game is to change the colour of the squares until the entire screen is a single solid colour. Starting with the square in the upper left corner you can change the colour of the blocks in order to match that of the surrounding squares. This is done repeatedly until the entire screen is a single colour. The object of the game is to clear the screen in as few moves as possible. Under the default settings you must do so in under 22 moves in order to win. The game is controlled by the large colored blocks at the bottom of the screen.

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Use of 10.3.3 approaches 50% of BlackBerry 10 users

The launch of BlackBerry 10.3.3 remains slow, but has finally reached half of the users running BlackBerry 10 phones. Use of BlackBerry’s newest (and final) OS has reached 52.8% of Pixelated users, and 48.5% of users of the Stuff I Need app.

This data was collected by BlackBerry World for downloads of the free strategy game Pixelated and the free checklist app Stuff I Need. Data shown on the chart is from the beginning of April 2016 through the end of April 2017.

Update to BlackBerry 10 game Head Words

ShapeItAppThe BlackBerry 10 game Head Words has been updated to version 1.4 in BlackBerry App World. This update expands the number of items in the game’s existing categories. This is partially to account for new movies and tv shows that have been released since the last update, and partially to simply add more depth to the other categories.

About Head Words

Head Words is a native multi-player guessing game where after selecting a category, one player places the phone on their forehead while the other players give clues. With one minute to guess as many words as possible, the player can tilt the phone down for each correct answer, or tilt the phone up to pass. At the end of round a word list will show what was guessed right and wrong. The swipe down menu provides an option to turn the sound on or off.

The game includes five categories for free, and the option to purchase access to ten additional categories for a dollar each.

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BlackBerry 10.3.3 roll out remains slow

Adoption of the final version of BlackBerry OS remains slow, with most users still using the older 10.3.2 version. In March the use of 10.3.3 was well below half, reaching only 41.7% of Stuff I Need users, and 22.7% of Pixelated users.

This data was collected by BlackBerry World for downloads of the free strategy game Pixelated and the free checklist app Stuff I Need. Data shown on the chart is from the beginning of March 2016 through the end of March 2017.

One month in, the BlackBerry 10.3.3 rollout has stalled

Last month saw the launch of BlackBerry 10.3.3 which resulted in the BlackBerry 10 OS distribution in changing for the first time in a year. One month later, there is once again no change from the previous month as the rollout of the final version of the OS appears to have already stalled.

January once again saw the vast majority of users running the older 10.3.2 OS. So far less than a third of all users have moved to 10.3.3, and given the lack of carrier interest it is questionable if they ever will.

This data was collected by BlackBerry World for downloads of the free strategy game Pixelated and the free checklist app Stuff I Need. Data shown on the chart is from the beginning of January 2016 through the end of January 2017.

Additional Stats added to Hockey Scores app

The Hockey Scores app has been updated to version 4.2 for iOS and BlackBerry. The app now has a ‘Shots Attempted’ stat that shows the total Corsi shots that a team has taken.

Additionally, this update also shows the times of upcoming games in either a 12 hour or 24 hour format based on the settings for the phone. For iOS there is also a new option to adjust the app’s background color from the system settings app.

About Hockey Scores

In addition to showing the scores of each game, the app also shows the game time, shot on goal, shot attempts, hits, faceoff percentages, and a full list of all of the game’s goal scorers.

A one time in-app purchase can be used to remove all advertising from the app.

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December saw the start of the BlackBerry 10.3.3 rollout

After almost a full year of no significant change, December saw a shake up of BlackBerry 10 users, as OS 10.3.3 began its slow rollout.

The Stuff I Need app saw 29.6% of downloads come from users running OS 10.3.3, while for the game Pixelated this was at 15.8% of users.

This data was collected by BlackBerry World for downloads of the free strategy game Pixelated and the free checklist app Stuff I Need. Data shown on the chart is from the beginning of December 2015 through the end of December 2016.

Weather Beautiful App Updated

The Weather Beautiful App has been updated to version 2.4 for Android, iOS, and BlackBerry 10. This version is quicker to refresh the weather and location when the app is relaunched. Additionally there was a bit of optimization done to the app to make the underlying code quicker and simpler.

About Weather Beautiful

Weather Beautiful is a simple weather app that displays stunning photography of your surrounding area. In addition to the current temperature and weather conditions, the app also allows you to scroll for a full weekly forecast. While temperatures are shown in Fahrenheit by default, there is an option to switch to Celsius.

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Merry Christmas

The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of the dear saviour’s birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining.
Till he appeared, and the spirit felt its worth.
A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees. Oh, hear the angel voice.
O night divine, the night when Christ was born.

BlackBerry sold BBM without anyone noticing

Thinking that BlackBerry controls BlackBerry Messenger would be a reasonable assumption, but it would also be an incorrect assumption. As of last June BBM is being run by an Indonesian company called PT Elang Mahkota Teknologi Tbk.

I was on vacation during the June 27th announcement of this new partnership and as such probably just skimmed the press release, but after posting to Twitter on Sunday night it appears that this is new information to a lot of people who follow BlackBerry.

Exactly what is going on?

The main reason this went unnoticed is that the situation is far more complicated than a straight sale. Creative Media Works was created as a division of PT Elang Mahkota Teknologi Tbk (also known as the Emtek group) that operates as BBM, and licenses technology and IP from BlackBerry and is in partnership with KMK Online which is also a subsidiary of PT Elang Mahkota Teknologi Tbk.

It is understandable if anyone is a bit confused by those details.

Furthermore the initial press release referred to the deal as merely a “partnership”, and used terms like “making the BBM API available” when it would have been more accurate to write “handing over development of the app”.

The continued insistence that this is a long therm lease rather than a sale may be technically correct, but it can’t help but make me think of the 99 year lease of Hong Kong.

Today there is an organization that refers to itself as BBM, and is not owned by BlackBerry. Personally I have a hard time not referring to that as a sale.

BlackBerry’s Response

This morning BlackBerry posted an oddly titled response to this situation, that is full of double speak. It starts with the statement that Emtek has “the rights to develop and offer cross-platform BBM” which is a fact that BlackBerry had previously danced around. BlackBerry insists that BBM hasn’t been sold because BlackBerry still has control of BBM Enterprise (which is a separate app that nobody cares about), and the BBM app on BlackBerry 10 and BBOS.

This last point ignores the fact that BBOS and BB10 versions of BBM have not gotten any significant updates since this partnership began. It also explains why the BBM video chat on BlackBerry 10 is not compatible with the BBM video chat on Android or iOS.

Then we have the BlackBerry COO, disputing comments by the BBM CEO, and then ending the post saying that they are “100% aligned on their vision”.

After months and months of hearing that BlackBerry is not abandoning their operating systems (while they clearly have) it has become clear that the company has come to embrace Donald Trump’s approach to facts. As a result I think it is now clear that BBM was sold while nobody was looking.

About Windows Phone

A bit of a side not to all this, is the discussion of BBM on Windows Phone. Every comment talks about “BBM on iOS, Android, and Windows Phone” yet ignores that there has been zero work done on the Windows side throughout this whole process. The BBM app for Windows Phone has always lagged behind, and hasn’t received a single update since the start of this deal. Furthermore it appears as if the app has been pulled for new users, and the link on literally results in a 404 page.

BlackBerry 10 distribution the same as ever

The distribution of BlackBerry 10 OS versions has been mostly unchanged for over a year now, and November was no different. Furthermore for these waiting for the much delayed 10.3.3 there is no sign that it is starting to get rolled out. The number of 10.3.3 users in November was the same single digit number as it was all the back in June. BlackBerry 10 is appearing as static as you would expect an abandoned OS to be.



This data was collected by BlackBerry World for downloads of the free strategy game Pixelated and the free checklist app Stuff I Need. Data shown on the chart is from the beginning of November 2015 through the end of November 2016.