BlackBerry 10 vs Android 4.2 Jelly Bean
BlackBerry was THE SMARTPHONE back in the days but after 2007 it just got less and less popular due to various reasons. The first reason analysts are quick to point out was the unchanged design of their devices that came with a physical keyboard in a world where smartphones with a virtual keyboard were dominating. Truth to be told, this only scratched the surface, the real problem was the real estate (i.e. the screen size). People liked bigger screens that enabled them to manipulate the content easier. BlackBerry was too late to adapt to that trend and eventually started losing the race. Another reason analysts points out is the stale unchanged operating system. Like before, the operating system was intended for devices with a physical keyboard and hindered the sales quite a bit. The lack of apps compared to the other smartphone operating systems was also a negative point for BlackBerry. So amidst all this pressure, what did they do? Well they came up with a new device and a new operating system. Knowing what is at risk, we were sure they would think and rethink and think again before coming out with their designs and the revelation just affirms our thoughts. The BlackBerry Z10 is a nicely crafted device, and the BlackBerry 10 OS also seems to be a solid operating system with the associated problem of lack of apps. Hopefully expecting RIM to address this problem soon, we will be comparing BlackBerry 10 OS with the most used operating system in the smartphone market which is Android OS. We decided to choose their newest version to be compared with BlackBerry 10 so, here is our take on them.
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, BBM, 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 BB 10 OS too. In fact, you can now make video calls and share your live screen through BBM 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, BB 10 is a solid operating system with a great architecture and offers good performance with great usability features.
Android 4.2 Jelly Bean Review
Android 4.2 was released by Google on the 29th of October at their event. It is a practical combination of ICS and Honeycomb for tablets. The major difference we found out can be summed up with the Lock screen, camera app, gesture typing, and multi user availability. We will look at these features in depth to understand what they offer in Layman’s terms.
One of the most important features introduced with v4.2 Jelly Bean is the multi user capability. This is only available for tablets which enable a single tablet to be used among your family very easily. It lets you have your own space with all the customization you need starting from the lock screen to applications and games. It even lets you have your own top scores in the games. The best thing is that you don’t really have to log in and log off; instead, you can simply and seamlessly switch which is just great. A new keyboard has been introduced that can make use of gesture typing. Thanks to the advancements of Android dictionaries, now the typing app can offer you suggestions for your next word in the sentence which enables you to type the whole sentence using selection of words offered by the app. The speech to text ability is also improved, and it is available offline as well, unlike the Apple’s Siri.
Android OS v4.2 offers a new immersive experience with the camera by offering Photo Sphere. It’s a 360 degree photo stitching of what you have snapped, and you can view these immersive spheres from the smartphone as well as share them on Google + or add them in Google Maps. The camera app has been made more responsive, and it starts super quick, as well. Google has added a component called Daydream for idling people like me where they display useful information when idling. It can get information from Google current and many more sources. Google Now is also alive than ever making your life easy for you before you even think about making it easy. It now has the ability to indicate photogenic spots nearby and to track packages easily.
The notification system is at the core of Android. With v4.2 Jelly Bean, notifications are fluid than even. You have expandable and resizable notifications all in one place. The widgets are also improved, and now they automatically resize depending on the components added to a screen. Interactive widgets are expected to be facilitated more in this operating system, as well. Google hasn’t forgotten to improve the accessibility options, as well. Now the screen can be magnified using three tap gestures and visually impaired users can now interact with the fully zoomed screen as well such as typing when zoomed in. The gesture mode enables seamless navigation through the smartphone for blind users along with the speech output.
You can simply beam photos and videos with v4.2 Jelly Bean on your smartphone. It’s easier than ever and more simple and elegant too. Google Search component has also been updated, and as an overall, the operating system has become faster and smoother. The transitions are silky, and an absolute pleasure to experience while the touch responses are more reactive and uniform. It also allows you to wirelessly stream your screen to any wireless display which is a cool feature to have. Right now, Android 4.2 Jelly Bean is available in Nexus 4, Nexus 7 and Nexus 10. We are hoping that the other manufacturers will also release their updates soon.
A Brief Comparison Between BlackBerry 10 and Android 4.2 Jelly Bean
• Android 4.2 features a better enhanced Personal Digital Assistant while BlackBerry 10 has a new voice activated virtual assistant that needs more development.
• Android 4.2 offers a more fluid camera application that features Photo Sphere while BlackBerry 10 offers TimeShift camera as an interactive feature but misses out on fundamental modes like Panorama.
• Android 4.2 enables a single device to be used by many users providing the ability to create user accounts while BlackBerry 10 offers Blackberry Balance, which separates your work and personal life with a 256 bit AES encrypted wall.
• Android 4.2 introduces improved versions of Google Search, Google Now, and Daydream while BlackBerry 10 has a nifty universal search that comes in handy.
• Android 4.2 offers a versatile notification bar with the ability to offer vivid notifications and 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.
• Android 4.2 offers a smarter keyboard and gesture typing and comes with built-in browser Google Chrome which offers unified search and URL feed while BlackBerry 10 offers an alternate interactive way of typing that uses the famous Android SwiftKey engine for prediction.
I didn’t start this discussion on the aim of deriving a conclusion because this is one of those things that is heavily personal biased. Sometimes there are clearly better operating systems; sometimes the distinction is not so apparent. In the case of Android 4.2 and BlackBerry 10, I’m not entirely sure which is the best operating system for both have their pros and cons and loyalists would definitely choose their camp over others. So for the once on the fence; this is what I have to say! I can clearly see that BlackBerry 10 is shaping to be a solid operating system that is built on top of a versatile architecture. But I’m also worried about the content available in their app store so if you are a sucker for apps, BlackBerry 10 might not be the best choice right now. Apart from that, Android 4.2 has better maturity and better usability with better support, which would ultimately point at it to be the stable operating system of the day.