OS 10.3 on 90% of BlackBerry phones

One year after launch, OS 10.3 is on 90% of BlackBerry phones. The roll out of what has been confirmed as BlackBerry’s final OS took some time to get going, but over the past few months, have finally captured the vast majority of BlackBerry 10 users. Additionally the vast majority of users are on 10.3.2, which is currently the newest version of the operating system.

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2015Oct-StuffINeed-BB10OSVersions

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 October 2014 through the end of October 2015.

UI frameworks for Angular.js

I recently had the opportunity to review a number of angular.js compatible UI frameworks. All of these frameworks are fairly new, and therefore they all give some thought to how they appear on phones and tablets.

Angular Material

angularmaterialAngular Material has been created by Google to follow the guidelines for Android’s Material UI. In my opinion this is the best UI for angular. Given its ties to Android it works great on mobile, but it also is designed to scale up to also look good on larger screens. Additionally, the flex box based layout system for Angular Material is more complete and more reliable than what is offered by the other frameworks.

Ionic

ionicThe Ionic framework by Drifty is a mobile focused UI that I have used before. Ionic has good looking controls, and mostly follows the design found in iOS 7. Compared to the other frameworks, the touch targets for Ionic are larger and better optimized for phones. By design, Ionic is meant to be used for creating Cordova apps, but can also be used for websites if you copy two files from their github.

UI Bootstrap

Unlike the other frameworks, Bootstrap does not include any JavaScript and is implemented strictly through css. While this lightweight approach is great, UI Bootstrap is also the least optimized for mobile and is the least integrated with angular.

LumX

lumxCreated by LumApps, Lumx is another framework that follows Android’s Material design guidelines. Unfortunately, when compared to Angular Material, it is not quite as good. Also LumX has the far more third party dependencies than the other frameworks, making it more difficult for set up. On the plus side, it has the best selection of built in colors for theming your app.

Using multiple frameworks

Additionally there is the option to use a number of these frameworks together at the same time. This is not always an option as the css for Bootstrap and Ionic conflict with one another. But sometimes it can work. In particular the components of Ionic make a good compliment to the layout and navigation of Material.

Weather Beautiful updated

Q10cropThe Weather Beautiful app has been updated to version 2.2 for both Android and BlackBerry users. This update makes the app launch quicker. Additionally the app’s install size is 37% smaller on BlackBerry, and 23% smaller on Android.

About Weather Beautiful

This 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.

Links & Information

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Additional levels for Starbeams

phoneStarbeams has been updated to version 2.1 in order to add 10 new levels to the game. This gives the game a total of 210 levels.

About Starbeams

The object of the game is to assign colors to each star in order to ensure that none of the stars are connected to another star of the same color. The game starts off easy, but quickly gets more complex, adding more colors and seven pointed stars that can not be changed.

Starbeams can be downloaded for free for Windows Phone, Windows 8, Windows 10, and BlackBerry 10 devices. A one time in-app purchase is required in order to play past level 25.

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Use of 10.3.2 increases while use of 10.3.X remains the same

The month of September saw large increases in the use of OS 10.3.2, the newest BlackBerry 10 operating system. However almost all of this increase came from users who were already using a prior version of OS 10.3 as the percentage of users running OS 10.2 and 10.1 remained steady from previous months.

2015Sept-Pixelated-BB10OSVersions

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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 September 2014 through the end of September 2015.

Z10 still the most used BlackBerry 10 phone

Two and a half years ago when BlackBerry 10 was first released the Z10 and the Q10 were the first two phones released. Today they are still the two most used BlackBerry 10 phones, combining for 56.5% of users.
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Just under half (47.6%) of BlackBerry 10 users have a physical keyboard on their phones.

All of these statistics are based off of the data collected by BlackBerry World in the month of February for downloads of the free check-list app Stuff I Need (which is also available for Windows Phone and Android users).

Hockey Scores app updated for a new season

Z10The Hockey Scores BlackBerry app has been updated for the upcoming hockey season for users of both BlackBerry 10 and the traditional BBOS (version 5.0 and higher). In addition to getting scores for the current season, this update also includes some changes to improve the performance of the app on the BlackBerry Passport phone.

About Hockey Scores

This application provides the day’s hockey scores is an intuitive and easy to use format. It also includes additional game statistics such as start times, goal scorers, shots on net, hits, faceoff percentage, team Corsi numbers, and lists out the goal scorers.

Links & Information

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More Levels for Xploding Boxes

ShapeItAppXploding Boxes has been updated to version 5.5 in BlackBerry World, Google Play, the Amazon app store, the Nook app store, the Windows 8 app store, and the Windows Phone app store. This update adds 10 new levels to the game, giving Xploding Boxes 510 levels overall.

About Xploding Boxes

Xploding Boxes is a strategy game where the goal is to start a chain reaction that will explode all of the boxes on the screen. Each level presents a different look and number of touches, requiring a different strategy to solve.

The game itself, and the first 25 levels are available for free, while a one time in-app purchase can be used to access the rest of the levels for just $2.99 while still maintaining your progress from the free levels.

Links & Information

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The Sound of the Fat Lady Singing

This morning’s news has been expected for some time now, but does officially mark the end. I know that John Chen has stated that BlackBerry 10 users “can continue to depend on us”, but they have said that many times before and it has never been true.

BlackBerry 10 is an operating system that has not received a major upgrade in over a year, with no future improvements expected. With no new hardware expected for the platform either, it is safe to say that platform is officially dead.

The decision to announce this change on the day that Apple launched a new phone of their own was probably an attempt to bury this news. In practice it reminds current BlackBerry users of the obvious way forwards.

Coloring a ProgressBar on Android

On newer versions of Android (such as Lollipop and Marshmallow) the activity indicator now has a distinct color instead of just being a shade of gray. While this is neat, it brings up the potential for the color of the activity indicator to clash with your design.

Fortunately it is possible to change the color of these controls. Starting with the xml in the layout, your progress bar will look as follows…

<ProgressBar
    android:layout_height="wrap_content"
    android:layout_width="wrap_content"
    android:id="@+id/activityIndicator"
    android:progressDrawable="@drawable/colorProgress"
    android:indeterminateOnly="true"/>

The relevant part of this code is the setting of progressDrawable to a custom drawable object. While this custom object must exist, it doesn’t actually have to do anything. The full source of colorProgress.xml is below and is essentially blank.

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<selector xmlns:android="http://schemas.android.com/apk/res/android">
</selector>

Finally we will get to the Java code that actually sets the color of the progress bar. This is done as the program starts up and consists of three steps. First, you filter out the older Android OS versions to avoid crashing the app on Android 4.x phones. Next you get a reference to the ProgressBar object, and then finally you set the object to the color you want.

protected void onCreate(Bundle savedInstanceState)
{
super.onCreate(savedInstanceState);
setContentView(R.layout.activity_main);
if (android.os.Build.VERSION.SDK_INT >= Build.VERSION_CODES.LOLLIPOP)
{
ProgressBar progressbar = (ProgressBar) findViewById(R.id.activityIndicator);
int color = 0xFF2980b9;
progressbar.getIndeterminateDrawable().setColorFilter(color, PorterDuff.Mode.SRC_IN);
progressbar.getProgressDrawable().setColorFilter(color, PorterDuff.Mode.SRC_IN);
}
}

Monkeys and Whales added to Animal Sounds App

ShapeItAppThe Animal Sounds app has been updated to version 2.0 adding support for two new animals, and now supports users of both BlackBerry 10 and Android.

This is a simple app that plays back the sound made by various animals. From horses to dogs to cows, this app includes a variety of animals that will make a sound when you tap on their picture. Version 2.0 of the app adds both a monkey and a whale to the list of recordings that the app can play back.

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Why BlackBerry users hold onto their phones longer

This is a response to an article on the official BlackBerry blog titled “So Happy Together: Users Hold Onto BlackBerry Devices Longer Than Every Other Brand”.

Yesterday BlackBerry congratulated itself for having the users that held onto their phones for the longest, with BlackBerry users averaging 32 months (2 years and 8 months). This was against an industry average of only 22 months.

I happen to be this “average” user given that my BlackBerry Z10 is a phone that was released in January of 2013, exactly 2 years and 8 months ago. Yet BlackBerry really seems to be missing the mark on why I haven’t upgraded my phone.

It is not that I enjoy carrying around a phone with specs that are almost three years out of date. It is that the specs have not improved on any of the newer BlackBerry phones (except for the one with a giant square for a screen).

Since the release of the Z10 the normal shaped BlackBerry phones have not had anything to offer. First the Z30 (itself now 24 months old) offered a larger battery and a slightly quicker processor in exchange for an identical camera, and a slightly lower resolution screen. The Z3 is noticeably worse than every other BlackBerry 10 phone sold by every specification. Finally the BlackBerry Leap has the Z30’s lower screen resolution, but without an improved processor.

Likewise the keyboard based phones running BlackBerry 10 have also done little to improve. The Q5 was a step backwards, the Classic had the same internals with a few extra hardware buttons, leaving the the Passport to be the only BlackBerry 10 phone to improve upon the launch devices. Even that phone is now a year old with no newer version in sight (and no, having three different ways to round off the corners on the case do not count).

So instead I sit here with my ageing phone with no path forwards. Any iOS user with a year old phone can upgrade their device tomorrow. Samsung releases 200 new phones a year. Even struggling HTC manages to upgrade their flagship on a yearly schedule. Yet for BlackBerry users, the only way to get new hardware is to become a non-BlackBerry user.