BlackBerry OS updates coming – what to expect

As the Canadian phone-maker prepares to roll out the first updates to its new operating system, the company’s product manager has revealed that a second update, with even more new features, is scheduled before the end of 2013.

The release of BlackBerry 10.1 is just around the corner. The system is going through the final stages of beta testing and could be pushed to owners' devices before the end of June. The update will bring High Dynamic Range (HDR) features to Z10 and Q10 handsets -- HDR takes three photos at different exposures of the same subject and overlays them to ensure the resulting image is neither under- or overexposed -- plus the ability to paste phone numbers into the contact book. Other notable additions include demos to help first-time users familiarize themselves with both their handsets and the OS. BlackBerry is unique in that it is the only smartphone operating system that is 100% touch. As well as a touch screen, Apple, Android and Windows Phones also have at least one physical home key for toggling between apps and returning to previous menus. Because this key is missing from BlackBerry handsets, users need to learn a specific set of swipes and other touches for accessing features instead - some consumers and reviewers alike have found this confusing when going from an iPhone or a Galaxy SIII to one of the latest BlackBerry offerings. The update will also bring the ability to fine-tune app settings so that notifications and alerts can be enabled or disabled.

However, this is just the start. In an interview with BlackBerry fan blog CrackBerry, BlackBerry product manager Michael Clewley has revealed that a host of other new features will be coming to the company’s handsets before the end of the year with the 10.2 update, which is already poised to go out to software developers and app designers in June.

Among the features he was prepared to disclose include support for Emojis so that BlackBerry messages can be adorned with smiley faces; multiple alarms for different events and different days of the week; and further control over how notifications are handled.

None of the above may sound like an earth-shattering event to consumers with Android or iOS handsets, but don’t forget, the iPhone is six years old and in that time Apple has only updated the operating system five times. Likewise, Google is still on version 4.2.2 of Android. With two major updates in the space of 12 months, BlackBerry is showing that it is committed to the platform and to giving its users the best possible