Why the latest update to the operating system makes Z- and Q-series handsets vastly better

BlackBerry reaffirmed its commitment to the BBOS 10 environment by releasing version 10.2.1. The update refines a number of unique features introduced in 10.2.

Most notably, the lock-screen message display, instant pop-up message and one-line replying were features added in the last release. In 10.2.1, BlackBerry takes the features a step further. BlackBerry is miles away from ever growing market share, but now that it backed off from the consumer market (in North America at least), it does not have to chase growth. What it needs to do now is keep its existing customers happy, and compete as a viable alternate BYOD (bring your own device) in the enterprise. With 10.2.1, BlackBerry is one step closer to achieving that task.

What’s new?

  • Optimized battery life with new monitoring options and indicators
  • BlackBerry Priority Hub with more ways to organize and prioritize, so you can stay focused on mission critical things.
  • Call management options so you can respond on your terms, even by email/BBM/text
  • Cost management tools to manage roaming and data usage
  • Groups can be created for SMS and email for more efficient broadcast communications.
  • Lock Screen Notifications are now actionable, so you can respond to important messages more quickly or discreetly.
  • Picture Password for quick unlocking
  • Offline Browser Reading Mode lets you save the current web page for later viewing, even if you are offline.
  • FM Radio does not require any network connection so can you listen to local FM stations (BlackBerry® Z30, BlackBerry® Q10 or BlackBerry® Q5 smartphone)

Source: BlackBerry

Highlights

Lock Screen notifications were useful but a user could not view or reply to them. In this release, tapping a message opens the message if desired.

The Settings tab is cleaned up. Previously, airplane mode and flashlight were not readily available. A swipe down from top reveals these modes. Flashlight (LED flash as light source) previously needed an app like Gadget Box but is now native in 10.2.1. The settings page is also customizable. Need NFC or bedside mode readily available? Just customize and add these functions.

BlackBerry brought back the FM radio, which was a nice feature in the older BlackBerry 7 Curve devices. It was unlikely a selling point then, and is not one now.

Device and data monitoring apps were much improved. The apps now display battery usage over time with a graph.

BlackBerry10

Too little too late? Not exactly

Now that BB10 and BlackBerry Exchange Server (BES) are about a year old, enterprises could be more open to launching BES. The only major thing missing in 10.2.1 is the lack of advertising for the improvements. Those who were on previous BB10 releases will note their lack of refinement, some bugs, but not an overall bad “version 1.” With 10.2.1, BlackBerry vastly improved.

Android support unadvertised

One final thought: 10.2.1 allows for direct Android app installations. It is cumbersome, but not difficult, to install Android apps like Instagram:

  1. Download APK android files online (listed at bottom of page in link).
  2. Locate the file on the phone, tap on the file and install

 

Other hidden 10.2.1 tips

Here are some tips to get you started.

Picture password is found in settings -> security and privacy -> device password -> picture password

AccuWeather is a native app in the clock. Select World Clock to view local weather.

FM Radio (non-Z10 devices only) may be found in the Music app (media player).

Z10 device users should check BlackBerry Protect is still connected. If not, re-enable it.

Speed dial is back. On Q10, hold down a key to access. On the Z10, Open the telephone -> dial pad, and then hold down a number.

Smartcard support: more found here.

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