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BlackBerry OS 10.1 Release Review Update (BlackBerry Q10)


With the BlackBerry Q10 comes a new maintenance release for BlackBerry OS 10.1 that will shortly also be coming to the BlackBerry Z10. We will have more info on when it will come to the Z10 at BlackBerry World next month since it will coincide with BES 10.1. With OS 10.1 BlackBerry has addressed many of the items that cropped up in the first release along with adding some beautiful improvements. For example, the camera is now capable of HDR pictures.

Since OS 10.1 really build on OS 10 I will not rehash all of the previous features covered in our review of BlackBerry 10. If you are not familiar with BlackBerry 10 I recommend reading that review first. With that said let us dig right into what BlackBerry has improved in BlackBerry OS 10.1 since our last review. Also don’t forget to check out our review of the BlackBerry Q10!

Honey we shrunk the homescreen

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With the launch of the Q10 BlackBerry had to find a way to make a portrait homescreen fit in a square. To do this they have added a smaller sized active frame on the homescreen and app grid to allow for more content on the screen. This means a reduced size for the toolbar, removing unnecessary text, and adding some cool tooltips. The app homescreen now shows four icons across and three down instead of four. BlackBerry has also done away with the search button in the bottom middle of the homescreen. It was also nice to see that BlackBerry has revamped the tutorial you get when you first start up a BlackBerry 10 device. It now also explains to you dynamically how the homescreen and gestures work. Hopefully they have more planned in that vein to get users up to speed.

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Introducing “instant Action”

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BlackBerry has taken universal search to a new level with Instant Action. Now if you type anything from the homescreen it will automatically start searching. If you type something like BBM Luis it will automatically open up a BBM message to Luis. This works for phone calls, email, and more. You can also just start typing numbers for it to search your contacts for the number.

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It even works for LinkedIn. It will be interesting if devs can tie into this with an API.

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Dark theme for the BlackBerry Q10

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The BlackBerry Q10 with its SuperAMOLED screen benefits from a new dark theme in BlackBerry OS 10.1. Due to the OLED technology it take less battery to show black than white. This is because black on OLED is just that part of the screen being off. With the Z10 LED screen it makes no difference so there is no dark theme. Hopefully BlackBerry gives us the option for it in the future since it looks pretty slick. Most of the native apps also received an overhauled “dark” version as you can see in BBM above.

Prediction typing for BlackBerry Keyboard devices

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Devices with physical keyboards like the BlackBerry Q10 also get some predictive sentence completion and auto correction. You have to turn it on since it is off by default but it works nicely. and just shows up above the keyboard.

The optimized BlackBerry Hub

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BlackBerry gave the hub an overhaul in BlackBerry OS 10.1. The hub now has more consistent text sizes and the menus are smaller to better take advantage of screen real estate. I really like how BlackBerry has added the keyboard shortcuts to menu items to teach newcomers. They also added some cool features like the ability to open up an email that has an attached email. They also added pin to pin messaging and the ability to select which email you want to use in the compose screen.

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Last but not least I love how they made the bottom action bar hide when you scroll down and show up again when you scroll up. This gives you more screen real estate. Now if only they would also make the big blue “BlackBerry Hub” bar hide.

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Mark Prior Read & Delete Prior Now Work in Searches

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I specifically asked for this feature multiple times. I find myself regularly searching for emails and deleting or marking all of them read. Thankfully this is easy to do on BlackBerry OS 10.1 by just performing the search and then holding down the date.

Better text selection

BlackBerry had some nice touches with text selection in BlackBerry 10 and they have improved it further in 10.1. First of all they have improved the bubble that pops up when you select text. You can now also touch two points in the screen to select text between them. It is also now easier to drag the selection brackets or move the cursor around by tapping each side of it.

Packing some High Dynamic Range in the Camera

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High Dynamic Range or HDR is a mode for the camera that allows it to take pictures that have better clarity. It offers greater detail in the lightest and darkest areas of a picture that are usually washed out in other cameras. It does this by taking three pictures and melding them together.

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BlackBerry also added better red eye and golden eye removal in the picture editor. The camera itself also focuses much faster and startup is zippy.

Some small improvements in the Phone and instant search

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BlackBerry added the ability to cut, copy, and paste phone numbers in the dialer screen. They also added the functionality to search by both email and number in the contacts for the phone. Sadly it does not do the same while you are typing numbers in the dialer. They also added the ability to search for a number using instant search.

I also like how the SMS sending option in the phone dialer can be done by just holding down a contact. The phone app in general is also much faster.

BlackBerry Remember Adds HTML Support for Evernote

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BlackBerry Remember is an awesome feature especially with its Evernote integration. BlackBerry allowed you to view HTML Evernote entries in BlackBerry OS 10 but if you edited them you lost the HTML. Now with OS 10.1 you retain the HTML and even can put in your own HTML using the editor.

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Calculator gets and overhaul

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The calculator in BlackBerry 10 got an overhaul removing the animations and making it easier to switch between the regular, scientific, tip, and metric calculators.


Improved notifications including email specific notifications for messages

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One of the things that has frustrated new BlackBerry 10 users was the inability to set different notifications per email address on their Z10. That has been fixed with OS 10.1 with the ability to set a different notification per email account. On top of that you can now set a specific number of vibrations per contact and per account. Last but not least you can control contact specific notifications using the volume key. There is also a button now to easily turn off all notifications for an account or an application.

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BlackBerry also made a new menu popup when you use the quick menu button to switch profiles. It now has the option to switch between Normal and Silent or Normal and Vibrate.

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BlackBerry now also lets you choose if you want the volume buttons to only control media volume or allow you to control notification volume when you are not in a media app. That is mostly for Android and iOS users who are used to such functionality instead of profiles. The volume buttons now also have more settings between highest and lowest.

BlackBerry Link Allows Access To Your Computer Files from BlackBerry 10

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BlackBerry already allowed you to access and sync your files from your BlackBerry Z10 to your computer over Wi-Fi using BlackBerry Link. Now BlackBerry has completed the circle by allowing you to access your files from your computer from your BlackBerry OS 10.1 device through Link. I had issues getting this to work remotely but it worked nicely over WiFi. They just show up as extra devices in the file manager.

BBM Gets its Select All feature back for Broadcast Messages

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I personally hate this feature but it is much requested. Users can now select all of their contacts when they want to send out broadcast messages. BlackBerry could really help me out if they gave me the option to make Broadcast Messages silent.

Emergency notification system & AT&T Address Book Sync

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I found that the BlackBerry Q10 I received had the Emergency Broadcast System returning with carriers able to send out localized alerts over SMS. I did not have a chance to see it in action but the settings seem to imply it. I also found that my device worked beautifully with AT&T’s address book sync as another account.

Restore Data from BlackBerry Protect or Android/iOS

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BlackBerry introduced a feature allowing you to select a previous BlackBerry Protect backup to restore on your BlackBerry OS 10.1 device. They also supposedly created apps for iOS and Android to help with the device porting but I have not found them yet…

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The browser on OS 10.1 also got a nice overhaul and supports keyboard shortcuts. Nothing crazy but it does work faster. It also does a better job of hiding the top url bar for more screen real estate.



The calendar for the Z10 now supports both portrait and landscape mode in all views (day/week/month)


While that is a pretty extensive list it is nowhere near the full picture. Definitely let us know in the comments if we missed anything or you want us to explain further. I am really digging BlackBerry 10.1 and hope it officially hits the BlackBerry Z10 shortly! You may have noticed an interesting icon in the screenshot at the top of this post… More on that later!

53 total comments on this postSubmit your comment!
  1. Awesome, thanks for the updates on the updates!

  2. blackberry tienen que hacer su propia aplicación de youtube en esta nueva actualizacion

  3. Great review, as usual.

    I love the disappearing action bar. It should be part of the SDK if not already. Current native 3rd party apps don’t seem to be able to use that feature, only WebWorks apps can because it doesn’t require any native API.

    I’m not a fan of only being able to use Instant Action. I find shortcuts to be more useful and I really hope they’ll let us choose on 10.2, just like they did on BBOS.

    A big thing I’m missing with the keyboard version of the OS is that there doesn’t seem to be an easy way of deleting the last typed word. We can’t swipe the keyboard, yet, but swiping the word doesn’t work either…
    And text switching introduces extra carriage returns, just like on OS7 🙁
    I like the format “icon-corner” concept though.

    And it’s a shame that Remember still doesn’t support WebDav… I wonder is something like PlayCloud could make more backends available to Remember.

  4. SKYPE

    • Yep, the Android port. It’s at least one Android apps which works on the Q10 😉

      • Yup just reviewed the Skype app. Let me know if you have any questions.

        • Is the video quality as good as BBM video?
          Does screen share work?
          Can we receive/make phone calls (Skype in/out)?

          • Video quality is not as good as BBM Video but it is mostly dependent on signal quality. Ricky could see me in HD most of the time but my view of his video got choppy a few times. Weird right?
            I did not see an option for screen share. I doubt it would work since minimizing the app resulted in some funky-ness
            You can definitely make skype in/out calls but as I mentioned they are over the speaker not the earpiece. I didn’t get a chance to try it with a headset.

            • Thanks!
              Still sounds useful for cross-platform communication when one despises WhatsApp :).

              Screen-sharing isn’t available on Android, so let’s wait for the native version 🙂

  5. I didn’t see any mention of 2-way sync with Outlook. this was rumored to be in the next update (10.1). This is unique functionality that only BB had prior to introduction of BB10, keeping me and many others as loyal BB users. BB10 removed that functionality. MANY people do not want to use the “cloud” based emails, contacts, calendar, etc. I have been hanging onto my BB Bold waiting for promised technology to be included in BB10.x, hoping it would be 10.1. Since none of the reviews have mentioned it, I guess I will either be waiting longer or finally have to give in to apple … really don’t want to do that. what do you know? thanks.

  6. Late to this but thanks for the excellent review.

    You seem to suggest 10.1 won’t be available to the Z10 until third week of May? Damn, if so.

    How would you compare the 10.1 release floating around the sites with the 10.1 on the Q10. Most of these features are present?

    Also, any review on the contacts app and how poorly it currently functions with multiple accounts. Hoping that was addressed.

  7. Thanks for the reviews. Still have a big problem with Z10 and Outlook. All business users want to sync Outlook contacts and calendar on computer to phone and also want to sync from phone back to Outlook. This was easy on past phones, but still can’t sync when using Blackberry Link. Was supposed to get corrected, but still has not happened.

  8. I’d like to see more about how selecting text works. The Z10 I played with in a shop was very finicky.

    I’ve seen a lot of screen shots of the new circle you use to position the cursor one character at at time by tapping it. Does the circle also work with text selection?

    • Test selection works well. Long pressing a word selects it and the handles are really easy to operate.
      I wasn’t able to select a group of words from the start.
      The bigger bubble makes up for the lack of trackpad. I wasn’t a fan of text editing on the Z10, but it now works properly.

  9. (Great review, by the way!!)

    Is there any improvement to the web browser with respect to selecting and following links?

    On the Z10 I tried, on a page full of very small links, it was hard to click on the right one…

    • The browser is much easier and forgiving for finger clicking. It also works for phone numbers too now. They also fixed the text selection to be much more forgiving. Its these sort of refinements that OS 10.1 is all about.

      • I agree, the new handles work well when selecting text in the browser.

        • On my 9810, my trackpad is broken, so I’m used to clicking links with my fat fingers. But the problem is when there is a cluster of links together, how to distinguish between them?

          The only option I know of is zoom in, then follow the link.

          Ideally, there would be a browser pointer, simillar to the ring used for cursor positioning.

  10. Hmmm There is something else I don’t like in 10.1. BB World seems to be locked to the country you were in when you set up the phone.
    You usually get BBW of the country you’re in.

  11. What about Korean language input? Not available on 10.0.

  12. Just got the Q10 yesterday. Decent phone, but very disappointed that there is no way to drag and move calendar entries (the video tutorial for the q10 suggests that this can happen).

    Also, no way to use the physical number keys to select start and finish times as one could with the 9900. I’ve never liked using the “price is right” wheel to select a time – takes way too much time.

    Any ideas?

    • Hmm I never saw that feature. Would be cool if you could do that but I don’t know how that would work without it thinking you were scrolling.

      • Thanks Ronen. With a bit more exploration, it looks like you can drag and drop only when first creating the appointment as a “new event” (as in the tutorial).

        Once it is set, you can’t move it the same way. The fact that the Q10 does allow multiple scrolling in the first instance suggests that it is technically possible.

    • Date/time editing does work. You have to type something fopr every wheel

      0551030 gives me 5th of May @10:30

  13. I have 1690 and my broadcast messis not going, any solution thanks

  14. My BBQ10 doesn’t show the caller id on incoming calls!
    Very frustrating. Please help!!!

  15. So with the newest updates I am downloading, as I just got the Z10, will I be able to sync my calendar & contacts with outlook as I’m not having any luck right now…as well, how do I hide my calendar events from the locked screen! All I want is the same icons like all previous bb’s that show the calendar icon with 1/2/3/etc of how many events with the reminder pop up. I want to still keep these private, yet be reminded of when in locked.

  16. REALLY miss the ability to set individual contact notification sounds for texts. Can set it for calls as per previous BB OS’s and for e-mails (‘messages’ is now restricted to e-mails).
    Hope 10.2 sorts this out?

  17. Just got the Q10. Really not too impressed so far. Some of the simple features that make a blackberry a blackberry…that we all know and love,…are missing! 🙁 I was expecting the Q10 to be more efficient than my old bold 9900..but it’s actually the opposite and I now wish I’d kept my bold! Way too many items to list here, but I’ll list a few. 1) where is the speed dial!?!? 2) typing a letter from home screen does not bring up the contacts under that letter as 9900 did 3) the missing trackpad makes text editing tedious 4) why can’t I see e-mail notifications on home screen as all previous blackberries had?? 5) how do you delete multiple e-mails/text, etc?. Anyways, that’s a few out of about 45 points of concern I have, that makes the Q10 akward, frustrating and just NOT efficient anymore. I want my Bold 9900 back!!

    • Welcome to the club 😉
      Quite a few of us are waiting for 10.2 to bring productivity back and I really hope BlackBerry delivers.

      They’ve replaced keyboard shortcuts with “type ‘n go”, but it’s just too slow imo. I don’t want to wait seconds for a list of action or contacts to show up.

      And regarding 5), they need to re-introduce “current message highlighting” where the top message is selected and where the selector can be dragged to the message we want to work on with shortcuts. We also need multi-touch for multi-select.

  18. Great review!
    Is there any word on the enter key in text – Enter = next line, not send. Also, can we move the instant send icon at the bottom of texts, constantly sending out messages accidentally. Maybe locate to top side???

  19. Hi there
    Got the Blackberry Q10 and driving me potty. Can someone PLEASE tell me something. I have a lot of viewings and put the name of the person and their mobile number in my calendar appointment. If I am there and need to text them on my old Blackberry Bold I just hovered over the mobile number and I could text message. With the Q10 I cant do this. So HOW do I text message someone who is NOT is my contacts because I may never see them again. At the moment I am having to write down their mobile on a piece of paper, put it in my handbag, and text them from that! How can I text from a number in my appointments? BIG disadvantage for my business if I can’t do that. All help welcome. Lucinda, London UK

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