The BlackBerry community seems very focused on the QNX OS these days but we won’t be seeing QNX smartphones until 2012 at least. With the PlayBook announcements, the conversation is shifting away from imperfections in the current platform, and towards the future smartphone and OS we won’t see for some time to come. The conversation needs to be pulled back to BlackBerry 6, and what RIM can do with OS updates to make the experience better for current BlackBerry users. Something that has become glaringly obvious with BlackBerry 6, is the amount of redundancy that is built into the OS. And I don’t mean redundancy in the fail-safe way. I mean it in the “I see this icon/feature implemented in several places and it’s starting to annoy me” way.
BlackBerry 6 Pages: All vs Favorites vs Media vs Downloads vs Frequent
When we first reviewed BlackBerry 6, the separation of apps into pages seemed like a great idea. The problem is that when you’ve used it for several months, you start to notice the same apps popping up on almost every page. For example, Poynt shows up in my Frequent, All, Favorite and Download pages. After a while, you start to wonder what the point is of separating all your apps in this manner. The pages start to lose all meaning when apps are consistently duplicated throughout.
Search: SMS vs Email vs Web Video vs YouTube vs Universal Search
Universal Search is an awesome feature and it’s significantly better on BlackBerry 6 than on the competition. BlackBerry 6 gives third party apps the ability to integrate into the search, giving both the app and the platform more functionality. The problem is that the search is limited depending where you are in the system, and redundant in several places. When you are in an SMS app you’re only searching in SMS, and when you’re searching in the Universal field, you’re searching all over. It’s also a little redundant to search both Web Video, which includes YouTube, and just YouTube. Universal Search should be Universal everywhere in the system. Granted, when you’re in Email, the email search should be primary and highlighted, but there’s no reason for limited and redundant search fields.
News Feeds App vs Social Feeds
When RIM released Social Feeds, the app made a lot of sense. The app integrates with the browser and allows you to track RSS feeds as well as your social networks. But recently RIM introduced the BlackBerry News Feeds App, which makes the Social Feeds RSS reader redundant. The News Feeds app is great because it gives you suggestions, but it’s not integrated with the browser. Whenever you’re browsing a website and you want the RSS feed, you can add it to the Social Feeds app, but then you have to manually add it to the News Feeds App. In the end, it’s not clear which app you want to delete because they’re both serving a purpose and the redundancy is almost unavoidable. Even though the News Feeds App is in Beta, it’s not clear what purpose this app is serving for BlackBerry 6 users and why it couldn’t just be an update to the RSS Feeds section of the Social Feeds.
Fixing some of the above issues will help improve the experience for current BlackBerry users, but we probably won’t see any of the major issues fixed. The major issues with the OS, and BlackBerry in general, are still very much present in BlackBerry 6. For example, whenever you install and app, or restart your device, your smartphone is nearly unusable. In 2011, a smartphone shouldn’t take a whole 3 minutes to boot. Considering the processor is doing over half a billion computations per second, you have to wonder what’s taking so long.
For those BlackBerry 6 users out there, what do you think about the current version of the OS? What do you think about the pages and search features that are central to BlackBerry 6?