Android with the BlackBerry Feel

Samsung Galaxy and BlackBerry Hub + 2.2114

To be clear right up front, I loved my BlackBerry phone with the BB10 OS. Unfortunately, the BlackBerry phones are possibly a thing of the past. The three reasons why I bought BlackBerry were, 1st for the scurity, 2nd for the email and calendar integration and 3rd for the ease to navigate the menu system. OnwardMobility promised to release a BlackBerry with a keyboard, but no solid information was released by early 2022.

I shelved my last BlackBerry when I 'inherited' the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge from Ursula. Still using this phone as of this writing. My portable device requirements DO NOT include music or watching TV or movies. My highest priority is the phone, it is still my business phone. Email, calendarand contacts are not as important anymore. The camera is mostly used to take snapshots of things as a reminder. I have a high-end digital camera that takes good quality pictures and movies.

I got used to the Galaxy, but this is not a happy relationship. The Android OS is still way too bloated. All these life-apps are just plain annoying. I have about 20 Apps installed that I use regulary, beside the camera, phone and system apps that are included. My average data usage is around 500 MB per month, maybe double when we are travelling.

I spent several hours tinkering with the settings until I found a version that is acceptable. And this is what I came up with.

Clean Android interface
All I want was a bunch of icons. All navigation is done by tapping and swiping. I know, the iOS had a similar 'clean interface', but that is history as far as I know. I could never warm up to the iPhone. They are overpriced and I don't like their product strategy. The iOS is ok and does many things well. I own and use an iPad Air for business purpose and it is also part in my daily routines. Some of the social applications are reasonable well integrated, so is Google Home and Google Assistant (on the iPad). Anyway, where were we?

With some configuration changes in Android, I came close to a clean interface with only five pages.
The first twoo pages have all the Apps I use. The other pages are for everything else I rarly use. I keep a Garbage Collection folder for all the Apps that I will never use but can not remove. One of these days I may even change my default background on the phone.

Samsung menus

To make the clean Home Screen possible, delete the Weather and News Widgets and go to
>Settings >Display >Home Screen >Home Screen Layout >Home Screen Only
I used the >Home Screen Grid >4x5 but may consider the 5x5 if I have to cram more icons onto the pages.
I don't need the Weather Widgets. If I want to know what the weather is like, I ask Google "Hey Google, what is the weather this afternoon?". Or I could step outside and find out.

I looked into the Desktop Apps from Microsoft and a couple of others, but I didn't find the simplicity I was looking for.

Up to this point I removed most of the complexity. I'm not getting into any of the Security settings. But I suggest that you spend some time to go through all the options. If you don't understand a feature, search for answers on the Internet.

You may have noticed that all my Email, Calendar and Contact launch icons are on the last page. These are the ones that are part of Android and can not be removed. They are in the BlackBerry Hub with all the other Accounts. And that brings us to the next topic.

BlackBerry Hub + for Android
BlackBerry Hub + Inbox BlackBerry knows how to do email on a phone and it works the same on Android. My number one reason to use the BlackBerry Hub: HCL Notes Traveler WITHOUT installing IBM Verse. Now I have all my email accounts from Domino, Gmail and Yahoo in one place again. When I tried to install my iCloud Account, it didn't work. Any attempt to connect to returned the error "Your Browser is not currently supported". I tried Firefox, Chrome and Samsung browser with the same result. Oh well, not a big loss or surprise to me.

The BB Hub also shows all the phone calls, text messages and notifications from the social apps. It is all in one place. It was like that ten years ago, it is still that way today. I noticed that a similar functionality is now available on native Android and iOS.

The messages have a coloured bar to the left. I configured blue for Gmail, brown for Yahoo, Yellow for Domino and green for my Admin email on Domino. Yes, you can have more than one connection to the same HCL Notes Traveler Server.
The is for Unread. The is for Sent. The is for Replied. Plus some more. There are more configuration options regarding layout and Folder Synchronisation.

With the BlackBerry Hub installed, DO NOT install the Account in the Android system. There is no need. When I installed, I had an option to add the mail icon to the Home Screen, I didn't. Unlike the launch icon, it is there by default.

The Calendar includes all the standard options for Location, Invitations, Repeat Entries etc. I use the Calendar for business and private. I keep hotel and flight reservation there and when I invite my wife to these events, she gets the notification and her Calendar is updated as well. Dinner invitations, repeating invoice reminders, birthdays, insurance renewal dates and the list goes on. They are all in my Calendar.

The monthly subscription is C$1.29 (=USD 1) and the first 30 days are free. Plenty of time to try the BB Hub. There is an Enterprise Version available. BlackBerry Hub is available on Android 9 and up. There is no iOS version available at this time.

First published on March 24, 2019
Last revised on January 18, 2022
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