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Apple and Google have nothing to fear from BlackBerry 10 -- but Microsoft does

Galen Gruman | Feb. 1, 2013
Hands-on review: BlackBerry 10 is a big step up, but it's awkward to use in key areas

 

Welcome to the Hub -- and mixed messaging capabilities

For some time now, RIM -- I mean BlackBerry -- has been trying to act young and hip, even though its core market has long been 50-year-old execs like me.

In addition to the now de rigeur media store, BlackBerry has followed the messaging centrism that Microsoft debuted in the terrible Kin a few years back and then successfully re-debuted in Windows Phone's People app. The Hub lists all your messages and updates in one big list.

It's great for seeing what's new, but I found the list also gets overwhelming quickly -- and I set up just my two main email accounts, my Twitter feed, and my appointments. But you can narrow down to just one stream by tapping the top of the Hub and selecting the account you want to focus on. Tap there again and select the Hub to go back to the view of everything. All in all, the Hub concept works quite well, and if you're primarily a messaging or reactive email user, it's perfect.

For email, the Hub works like the traditional BlackBerry email app (in fact, BlackBerry 10 has no separate email app). If you like how the BlackBerry has historically handled email, BlackBerry 10 will be comfortingly familiar. I dislike it: Seeing my replies mixed up in my messages confuses me as to what each message is and clutters what I perceived as my inbox. Fortunately, as in the old BlackBerry, you can turn off that reply display via a preference setting.

The folder navigation for email is very clunky, requiring a trip to the Hub's account list. When you file a message from the mail list into a folder, you're often moved to the folder with the message open, so quickly filing messages for later is not at all quick, as it is in iOS and Android. Sometimes, filing a message worked as expected, keeping me in the email list; go figure. Also, messages filed to folders on other devices or computers -- common for those of us who move among a tablet, computer, and smartphone throughout the day -- don't get marked as such in BlackBerry 10, unlike iOS or Android.

To act on a message, tap and hold it (a long-tap, in Android parlance) to have a contextual menu slide in from the side, then tap the icon for the desired action, such as copy or delete. When in a message, use the More menu (the sideways ellipsis icon) to display those options. It's similar to how Android works.

 

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