“The whole of science is nothing more than a refinement of everyday thinking.” ~ Albert Einstein
I have had the chance to go full on with a BlackBerry Bold 9930 for the last few days and I have to say the thing that keeps coming up over and over again is the refinement. RIM did not make any drastic changes in BlackBerry 7 other than focus on speed. On the other hand you can see that they took some time to refine many of the features they added in OS 5.0 and 6.0. This refinement is something that has been lacking from RIM recently and I am really happy to see it coming back. I won’t focus on the speed and OpenGL graphics improvement in the review of OS 7 since that will come with the device reviews but I will focus on the improvements I have seen so far and let me know if I missed anything.
When I picked up my first BlackBerry the thing that amazed me the most was how fluid and thought out the communications process is. I have tried many other devices and every time this refinement is what brings me back. The example I always use is when you open an email and want to reply. You hit the menu button and the first highlighted option is reply. You type your reply and hit the menu button and now the default option is send. You see this type of fluid workflow at the core of the BlackBerry OS and now it is being refined and expanded in OS 7.0. Here are some of those refinements that I am enjoying:
Enhanced Gmail Features are now available in the main “Messages” application
This is something I have asked for RIM to add since they added the Enhanced Gmail Plugin. With OS 7.0 you can now star, archive, label, and “report spam” from the main messages application. You used to have to go into each email separately to get this feature but now it works in the main messages app which combines all your email. All I can say is THANK YOU to whomever implemented this.
You can now add contact information to an existing contact through the menu
This is another feature that I used to rely on 3rd party apps to fulfill. Say you had a contact but wanted to add another email address to it. Now you can through the menu!
BlackBerry ID is now integrated into the OS
We saw quite a bit from BlackBerry ID since App World introduced it but now it is part of the core OS. You no longer need to sign into your BlackBerry ID multiple times for apps like App World. It simply remembers you unless you want to purchase an app.
Full version of Documents To Go with Word, Excel, and PowerPoint Viewing, Editing, & Creating!
You used to have to pay at least $30 for the full version of Documents to Go. With BlackBerry 7 that is now free and works like a charm!
The browser is MUCH faster and now has Developer Tools built in!
The developer tools give BlackBerry developers a way to debug their BlackBerry browser apps and gives you the ability to easily view the source code of a page! No other mobile platform offers this! On top of that you can see that the new 1.2Ghz processors really speed up website loading and scrolling. Its a much more fluid browsing experience with a refined Torch Mobile browser.
HD Video Recording!
I am not sure if we should count this as an OS or hardware improvement but I love it!
You can now select your own Homescreen Panels
In BlackBerry OS 6 RIM introduced Homescreen Panels. Now with BlackBerry 7 you can select which panels you want.
Improved Media Options
In BlackBerry 7 you can now select if you want the volume control buttons to control your tracks in case you have thick thumbs like me. You also have improved slideshow transitions that did not exist before.
Grouping emails together gets its own menu option
With the processor bump in BlackBerry 7 you can now group emails by subject with serious speed. RIM has also added the ability to toggle the feature to the menu.
Backup your device or switch devices using your SD Memory Card!!!
This is a feature I have wanted RIM to add for years. You can now backup and restore all of your on device information to your SD card! Thank you RIM!
Universal Search gets improved with Voice Search
With the faster processor comes faster Universal Search. It is now no longer indexing every time you want to use it and it throws in a new feature allowing you to search using Voice to Text. It actually works really well and I am really hoping RIM improves it with Voice Control of the whole OS!
An easy way to view your storage use
I am not sure if this is new to OS 7.0 but I have never seen it before. I was on the homescreen icon for slacker and when I hit the menu button it let me select “view memory usage” which showed me the info shown above.
Improved texting app
RIM has improved the integration of the SMS conversation view. It now also only shows you how many characters you have left when you get under 15 which is less distracting. There have also been some other visual refinements.
Improved Social Feeds app
The Social Feeds app in OS 7.0 also got a nice bump. It now has more than the two panels and even lets you create your own panels. Favorites and Flagged Items also get their own panels along with Podcasts.
All in all I am loving these small updates in OS 7.0 and I really hope RIM has more in store. These are the small things that make BlackBerry my platform of choice. As I said before these are not huge improvements but rather small refinements. Other devices tend to just add headline worthy features but never integrate them or refine them. RIM is getting back to their roots by providing a more integrated and customizable experience.
Let me know if I missed anything!