BlackBerry 10 vs Windows Phone 8
Compared to the other established smartphone operating systems in the market, BlackBerry 10 OS is relatively new to the race. Of course, it’s not that BlackBerry OS didn’t exist, but BlackBerry 10 is entirely a new OS based on QNX Neutrino Micro Kernel that supports full touch screen smartphones for the first time. BlackBerry had touchscreen smartphones, but this is the first complete touch smartphone without any physical buttons which means the BlackBerry fans will miss four nifty interactive keys that used to be a specialty for BlackBerry. Another thing they are going to miss is the valuable track pad that everyone has come to love so much. In any case, a system needs to evolve and so does the devices. RIM attest to that fact by revealing their re-engineered operating system. We thought of comparing RIM’s BLACKBERRY 10 OS with another relatively new smartphone operating system. This operating system is not new per se. In fact, it can be considered as the oldest smartphone operating system. Windows CE used to be the only smartphone operating system available in the pre-2005 era when Nokia was struggling with color screen display let alone touchscreen. Those days Windows CE dominated the PDA (aka personal digital assistant) which looked more like a piece of brick. But Microsoft Windows Phone is a completely different dialect compared to Windows CE in numerous ways. It is also unique because of the metro style UI Windows Phone 8 is offered with which differentiated it from the rest of the home screen based smartphone operating systems. So essentially today we are going to compare a smartphone OS that offers metro style UI differentiating itself from everyone else with another new smartphone OS that has a close resemblance to the home screen based UI.
BlackBerry 10 OS Review
BlackBerry 10 is a very important stepping stone for Research in Motion and the outcome of it may well change the future of RIM. As such, we can be sure that RIM has paid a lot of attention to BlackBerry 10. The best example for RIM’s dedication towards their new operating system can be seen as the acquisition of QNX Systems in early 2010. Back at that time, we weren’t actually sure what RIM intended to do with QNX Systems, but having seen the BlackBerry 10 OS, it all makes sense because at the center of the BlackBerry 10 OS lies QNX Neutrino Micro Kernel. RIM has taken a different approach in engineering their new operating system by adapting a distributed architecture which is also known as hub-and-spoke architecture. As such, it has independent self-contained operating environments for its components that are controlled by QNX Neutrino Micro Kernel. This approach enables RIM to create a robust operating system that is more stable because even if an individual component fails, the other components can work with the least impact. In layman’s terms, we can simply say BlackBerry 10 OS is supposed to be a more robust and secure operating system.
The first thing you need to understand is that BlackBerry 10 is an entirely new experience compared to BlackBerry 7 OS. It is available for full touchscreen smartphones without any buttons and as such features exciting opportunities for BlackBerry fans. An exciting integration that catches your eye the first time you set your hands on BlackBerry Z10 is the BlackBerry Hub. It can be considered as the holy grail of your notifications. All your incoming notifications from email, SMS, voicemail, BLACKBERRYM, call etc. are featured in here for better accessibility. In the home screen of BlackBerry OS 10, you have the BlackBerry Hub, then the Active Frames and classic icon grid. The active frames are a little like live tiles in Windows Phone 8 although they are not as interactive. It shows brief information about the apps that were minimized recently. It should be noted that developers need to use the API provided by RIM in order for an application to appear in Active Frames. All these home screens are only a custom gesture away, and I’ll leave you to find out the exact gesture specifications.
RIM has also integrated a quick settings menu like in the Android OS with the same gesture. You can also access the full settings page from the quick settings apart from the Wi-Fi toggle, Bluetooth toggle, rotation lock, notification sounds and alarm icons. BlackBerry 10 OS also offers a universal search that can find content from your messages, contacts, documents, pictures, music, third party apps, and maps as well as web content, which is pretty nifty. If you are used to iOS or Android, you should be quite accustomed to their lock screens as well right? Now RIM offers a lock screen in BlackBerry OS 10 which has smooth operations and quick access to camera app. It also features the number of unread emails you have and some other information. The new keyboard in BlackBerry 10 also comes with some nifty enhancements. The virtual keyboard is well spaced horizontally with good reason. You can press two or three characters for the word you want to type, and you’ll see a predicted word floating on top of the next character you have to type which is quite nifty. The system is said to be powered by popular Android engine SwiftKey and offers a learning environment that gets better at predicting when you use it more. Cursor selection on the typed words has gone touchscreen as well, and you sure would have to make that transition from the track pad.
Following their enterprise roots, RIM has included an app called BlackBerry Balance that separates your work from your personal modes. The work mode offers 256 bit AES encryption, which is highly secure and another bunch of options so that you will not mix your work with your personal life. This is actually a well thought feature from RIM we like. BlackBerry 10 also has a Siri like virtual assistant that is activated and can be operated with voice commands. The browser seems more or less than what you’d have in BlackBerry 7 OS although RIM has decided to fully support Flash which is quite a surprise given all the other mobile vendors are trying to cease support for Flash. BlackBerry Messenger is a unique feature that is available only in BlackBerry, and we can see that in BlackBerry 10 OS too. In fact, you can now make video calls and share your live screen through BlackBerryM which is fantastic.
The new camera app is also really nice, and the central selling point for that is the TimeShift camera. With this new feature, BlackBerry 10 captures a short burst of pictures when you touch the virtual shutter enabling you to choose the best version of the short burst of frames. This especially comes in handy in selecting the faces of friends where everybody is laughing, and nobody is closing their eyes! However I’m really going to miss the Panorama mode which I hope RIM would push through an update for the OS. Story Maker video editing software is also quite easy to use and produce good results combined with the 1080p HD videos recording. There is another built-in app called Remember which seems more or less like Google Keep. BlackBerry Maps provide turn by turn voice enabled navigation, but the maps are not as better as Google Maps, which may be a turn off.
I’m actually impressed with BlackBerry 10 as a whole and won’t really give second thoughts in using it. What worries me is the low matured content available in the app store. BlackBerry pledged that they’ll improve the quantity and quality of the apps available, and that seems to be happening at a rapid pace. However, there are still apps that I miss from my Android or iOS which would eventually make their way to BlackBerry 10. Other than that, BlackBerry 10 is a solid operating system with a great architecture and offers good performance with great usability features.
Microsoft Windows Phone 8 Review
Microsoft released the newest version of their mobile operating system back in the late Octobers with the debut of few Windows Phone 8 devices. The most famous among the devices running on Windows Phone 8 right now is Nokia Lumia 920, which is considered as a high end product. As an operating system, it seems Microsoft is aiming to conquer the mobile operating systems market that is covered currently by the Research in Motion or BlackBerry. Ideally Microsoft will try to grasp the third position of the smartphone market which is impressive if they do it.
Windows Phone 8 introduces some new features that introduce a refreshing breeze to the existing usability perspective of the smartphones. However, there are certain counterarguments regarding the same issue, as well. Let us look in to those factors and try to understand which arguments can be materialized in reality. In terms of usability and the interface, Microsoft has retained their unique metro style interface with the tiles. In the Windows Phone 8, the tiles are live as such can be flipped, and it’ll reveal useful information on the other side. A major complain from the Android fans moving in to Windows Phone 8 is the issue with customizability. While Android gives users a high degree of customization options, Windows Phone 8 limits it to changing the colors and the position of the tiles in the home screen.
Windows Phone 8 comes with some unique features like SkyDrive integration and people hub which is a people centric information center. The DataSense app gives an overview of the data usage and Microsoft has also added Microsoft Wallet in Windows Phone 8. It is commendable that they have integrated NFC support and speech recognition via Audible while the new Camera Hub app makes taking photos easier than ever. Since Microsoft acquired Skype, they have made amendments and integrated skype at the basic level so that the user can take a skype call just as easily as taking a normal call which is pretty impressive. Microsoft also provides integration with their services like Xbox, Office and SkyDrive. They are also letting you accommodate the usage of smartphone by your kids by creating them separate account.
The new operating system is certainly faster than its predecessor with better graphics and better responsiveness. The manufacturers seem to follow a unique square corner design that immediately separates a Windows Phone from other smartphones in the market. We don’t know whether Microsoft imposes this on the vendors or not, but it certainly is becoming a trademark for Windows Phones. The complain that most people make about the Windows Phone 8 is the lack of applications. Microsoft promises to increase the apps steadily. However, there are enough apps right now, but the problem is there are certain vital apps that are not available like Dropbox. We are hoping Microsoft’s efforts on developing the app market would pay off soon eliminating the allegation on lack of apps.
A Brief Comparison Between BlackBerry 10 and Windows Phone 8
• Microsoft Windows Phone 8 offers metro style user interface with live tiles that feature dynamic content while BlackBerry 10 has a basic notification bar along with an advanced BlackBerry Hub which integrates all your incoming notifications under one list.
• Microsoft Windows Phone 8 offers Camera Hub while BlackBerry 10 offers TimeShift camera as an interactive feature but misses out on fundamental modes like Panorama.
• Microsoft Windows Phone 8 offers the ability to create user accounts for kids with Kids Corner while BlackBerry 10 offers BlackBerry Balance, which separates your work and personal life with a 256 bit AES encrypted wall.
• Microsoft Windows Phone 8 introduces new applications like DataSense, People Hub and Microsoft Wallet etc while BlackBerry 10 has a nifty universal search that comes in handy.
• Windows Phone 8 comes with SkyDrive integration while BlackBerry 10 doesn’t come with the integration of a cloud storage app.
• Microsoft Windows Phone 8 offers the ability to take Skype video calls just like normal calls while BlackBerry 10 offers an alternate interactive way of typing that uses the famous Android SwiftKey engine for prediction.
I mentioned that BlackBerry 10 OS has a close resemblance to smartphone OS with home screen based UI. That is not entirely true either because with tweaks like Active Frame, BlackBerry 10 also emulates some features offered by Live Tiles in Microsoft Windows Phone 8. In any case, which operating system you are going to like is going to be your decision and your decision only. But we can give a couple of pointers. For instance, BlackBerry 10 is much less matured compared to any other operating system in the market. It also has much less number of apps in its app store. Fortunately the number of apps will not be a big problem when you compare the BlackBerry app store with MS app store because both has similar content although MS has a higher number of apps. BlackBerry is catching up fast so I won’t worry too much about the apps or the content available for you. Instead, the best thing you can do in order to choose what the best option is for you is to go ahead and take both for a trial and use them. If you prefer the Windows Phone’s metro style UI, then you’ll have a really great time with it and your usability will have a boost. If you prefer the home screen style UI, then I reckon BlackBerry 10 will be the better option for you. Last but not least, it is unlikely that any loyal BlackBerry fan would divert because of BlackBerry 10 and Z10 device from BlackBerry because they are a solid combination. At the same tone, I don’t reckon Z10 BlackBerry 10 combination has sufficient gun power to coerce a Microsoft Windows Phone 8 user to convert in to a BlackBerry user either.