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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

The simple Flow interface for shuffling among apps is also nice. You quickly learn you can move from the Hub to your running apps' tiles to your app icons and back with simple swipes, and the gesture becomes second nature fast. Despite what the folks at BlackBerry claim, it's not really easier than iOS's multitasking dock or Android's running-apps windowlet. Closing an app (the app still runs in the background) and getting to the running apps' tiles by swiping up from the bottom of the screen is also no easier than tapping a home button.

In some cases, it is slower. That's because when you close an app, you are presented with a screen of tiles of running apps, and you have to then swipe to the right to see the various app screens if the app you want is not running. iOS's home button makes that faster, though not as fast as Android's quick access to airplane mode via the notification tray.

BlackBerry did find a different app-switching approach in the WebOS-like Flow compared to what iOS and Android do. It is generally well-executed, but it provides no competitive advantage. Still the BlackBerry 10 OS user interface is easy to learn and overall efficient and straightforward.

Security for more users than before

A very welcome change to BlackBerry OS is its support of Exchange ActiveSync (EAS) security policies such as requiring encryption and passwords. The previous BlackBerry OS protected devices only if a company invested in the BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES). By contrast, both iOS and Android support EAS out of the box, with further security capabilities available, especially for iOS, if your company uses a mobile device management (MDM) server. The BlackBerry 10 OS now can be used in EAS-secured environments, not just those that buy BES.

I was pleased that the BlackBerry 10 OS automatically encrypts the device -- like iOS. Android supports encryption, but it has to be turned on manually and takes about 45 minutes; plus, to install OS updates, you have to turn it off temporarily. The BlackBerry 10 OS's encryption can't be turned off by the user as long as you're using an EAS account that requires it.

 

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