BlackBerry 7 OS Hands-On

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BlackBerry Balance, BlackBerry Protect, and Other Apps

All 7 OS phones come equipped with BlackBerry Balance, which helps you maintain your personal and business life all on one phone. When connected to your company's BlackBerry Enterprise Server, Balance keeps personal information separate and business information secure.

The incredibly useful BlackBerry Protect lets you back up your data and manage multiple devices. If your BlackBerry gets stolen or lost, you can remotely locate it, wipe it, lock it, or change the volume of the ringer. Like Balance, this service is completely free for BlackBerry 7 OS users.

Last but not least, the premium version of Documents to Go is now available for free on all BlackBerry 7 OS phones. Users will now be able to compose, edit, and view Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files. This addition is just one more excellent business feature BlackBerry OS offers its enterprise customers.

Bottom Line

Playing catch-up isn't necessarily a bad thing: It shows that RIM is watching the competition and trying to remain relevant in this oh-so-crazy mobile world. BlackBerry 7 OS doesn't really add any groundbreaking, one-of-a-kind features, but it is a solid update all the same. The difference in performance between 6 OS and 7 OS is very apparent, and I'm excited to see where RIM goes with NFC.

At the same time, I think BlackBerry OS is in dire need of a face-lift. I'm starting to get repetitive by saying this release after release, but its user interface doesn't feel modern. In fact, in some ways it reminds me a bit of Windows Phone 6.5. It looks like a non-touch OS with touch support added in. It still feels as if you have to dig through multiple menus to find what you want. For example, to switch from still images to video in the camera interface, you have to press the Menu key and then scroll almost all the way down through the options to get to the video camera.

To be fair, some very loyal BlackBerry OS fans are out there, and if RIM does try to do a complete makeover (like switching over to QNX OS à la the BlackBerry Playbook, which the company is rumored to do next year), it had better make sure that the redesign is perfect. Remember the disastrous BlackBerry Storm? RIM definitely does not want to go through that again. Apparently RIM has been playing it safe after that fiasco, but I think it is time to take another risk. BlackBerry 7 OS just barely keeps RIM afloat.

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At a Glance
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