STDI Consulting Inc

Android with the BlackBerry Feel

Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge with Android version 8 and BlackBerry Hub + 2.1902

To be clear right up front, I love my BlackBerry phone with the BB10 OS. And here is my dilemma, my BlackBerry Leap is at a point where some Apps don't perform anymore, most notably the Internet Browser. The BB Leap was introduced in early 2015. Unfortunately, the BB10 OS is no longer used in new devices and was replaced with a BlackBerry Android version.

My portable device requirements DO NOT include music or watching TV or movies. The highest priority is the phone, it is my business phone. Followed by email and integration with calendar functions and contacts. And the camera to take snapshots of things as a reminder. I have a high end photo camera that takes top quality pictures and movies.

iPhone is not an option, 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 of my daily routines. Some of the social applications are reasonable well integrated, so is Google Home and Google Assistant.

Android was not an option yet. I consider the interface to be too complicated. I don't have the urge to spend hours and hours to customise my phone. But by far the biggest issue I have (had) with Android is the IBM Domino email integration because there is none. I don't want IBM Verse, end of story. All new BlackBerry phones come with Android and resistance is futile, sigh!

The new BlackBerry phone for Canada all have keyboards and no full screen option is announced. I don't really want to go back to a keyboard and so I was still hoping for an announcement from BlackBerry. And then things changed. Samsung announced the Galaxy S10 and my wife needed an upgrade from the S7 Edge. I was the 'lucky' recipient of the S7 Edge to explore the Android OS, hoping that I may like it.
Short version: After several hours of tinkering, yes, I think I can live with it. And here is why.

Clean Android interface
The BlackBerry OS interface is very clean. A bunch of icons and no buttons to press. All navigation is done by swiping. Personally, I never understood the need of a physical button except maybe the power on/off. And if the Galaxy S10 is an indication, the world finally figured this one out as well. How many years after BlackBerry?

With lots of configuration changes in Android, I came close to a clean interface with currently five pages to start with.
The first three pages have all the Apps I frequently use, the fourth page is reserved for URLs to avoide Bookmarks in the browser. And the last page is for everything else. I also keep a Garbage Collection folder for all the Apps that I will never use but can not remove.
Galaxy S7 Home Pages
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 left the Google Widget on the first page, it integrates with our Google Home.

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 by the Garbage Colellection folder. 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 knows how to do email on a phone and it works the same on Android. My number one reason to use the BlackBerry Hub: "IBM 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, SMS, BBM and messages from the social apps. It is all in one place.

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 IBM 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.

Galaxy S7 Home Pages

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 or Windows version available at this time.

Ok, the title says "Android with the BlackBerry Feel". This is true for the BB Hub, but there is so much more missing.

1. Bedside Mode. BlackBerry has this cool feature to silence everything with one tap, even from the Lock Screen. The Android 'Do Not Disturb' is not it.
2. BlackBerry Travel. I don't travel that much, but the way it captures and organizes the Flight, Hotel and Car bookings is amazing.
3. Security and Privacy. BlackBerry starts with a clean slate and I have to add Apps, functions and services. Android (or iOS) are preloaded with Marketing, Tracking and Ads. Some of them I can't even disable.
Galaxy S7 Home PagesI'm still waiting for a new BlackBerry Phone without keyboard, hoping that most of the functions will be included. The Galaxy S7 is almost 3 years old and the battery may only last for another year.
Can't wait to upgrade the hardware sometimes later this year.
Even if it's only for the surprised looks when people ask : "Can you still buy the BlackBerry phones?".

I stumbled across this post from @LizLum Dear God, I miss my Blackberry and it is nice to see that I'm not alone.

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First published on March 24, 2019

Timestamp: 10/25/2021 09:47:21 AM EDT [on srv7cps]
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