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Do you know all there is to know about the BlackBerry OS? Make an informed decision when buying a BlackBerry device.

The BlackBerry Operating System (OS), limited to use with the BlackBerry line of smartphones, provides support for an array of smart features like sending and receiving emails, browsing the Internet, and photo editing. It enables users to utilise a variety of apps, like BlackBerry Messenger, while allows easy texting and messaging.

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What is the BlackBerry operating system?

BlackBerry Ltd, formerly known as Research in Motion, developed the BlackBerry operating system for its BlackBerry smartphones. The BlackBerry Pager 580 was the first device to use this operating system, back in 1999.

In 2002, with the launch of the 5810, its first java-based phone, it used C++ and proprietary APIs to create BlackBerry OS 3.x. BlackBerry OS 4.0 released in 2003, and it was only after five more years that BlackBerry OS 5.0 was released.

While 4.0 witnessed new APIs and support for over-the-air application deployment, version 5.0 included new features like mail folder management, app switcher shortcuts, remote file access, and BlackBerry Maps. BlackBerry OS 10.0 was released in 2013.

How does the BlackBerry operating system work?

The BlackBerry OS allows users to multitask, and it supports the use of specialised input devices like trackballs, track-wheels, track-pads, and touch screens. Through its early versions this operating system has offered support for corporate email, making it a favourite with many office goers.

Newer versions allow complete wireless activation and synchronisation with contacts, tasks, calendars, and email, when used along with the BlackBerry Enterprise Server. The BlackBerry Enterprise Server, or BES, serves as the backbone for all wireless BlackBerry OS related end-user activity, enabling IT departments to manage multiple BlackBerry devices.

What are the versions of the operating systems?

    • BlackBerry OS 2.0 RIM announced the launch of its 957 wireless handheld device in 2000, and this device ran using BlackBerry OS 2.0. The operating system, at that stage, supported Internet browsing, paging, and wireless email. It also included an organiser.
    • BlackBerry OS 3.5 BlackBerry OS 3.5 was released a few months after BlackBerry OS 3.x, in 2002. Version 3.5 added support for Exchange 2000 and over-the-air calendar sync, and also introduced features like the BlackBerry Web Client and Mobile Data Service.
    • BlackBerry OS 4.0 This version offered increased levels of encrypted and secure communication, and found favour with many businesses and government agencies. BlackBerry Connect entered the picture at this stage, allowing users of handsets made by other manufacturers to connect to their secure BES servers.
    • BlackBerry OS 6.0, 7.0, and 7.1 In between 2010 and 2012 BlackBerry updated is operating system three times. The highlight of OS 6.0 was a WebKit-based browser. It also brought about an overhaul of user-interface elements like the home screen, icons, graphics, and multi-touch gestures. BlackBerry 7.1 OS improved over the 7.0 version by offering BlackBerry ID integration, BlackBerry Tag, the ability to create Wi-Fi hotspots, and the ability to make calls using Wi-Fi.
    • BlackBerry 10.0 With the introduction of the BlackBerry Z10, the use for BlackBerry 10.0 makes complete sense. This operating system relies heavily on touch gestures, given that future devices appear to sell with no keyboards, buttons, and controls. It offers a dual-layered virtual keyboard which ‘learns’ where you hit keys, and predicts words in accordance. Users can run up to eight apps at the same time, and bringing one to the front requires no more than a tap.

Features of the BlackBerry system

        • Design Working with BlackBerry 10 requires understanding its gesture based functioning. Swiping up from the bottom offers a view of all running apps, and from this point, you can swipe right or left. Repositioning icons requires simple tapping and dragging, and dropping icons over each other puts them in folders. Tapping the phone twice brings the searchable dialler interface into play.
        • Camera and photos Part of the BlackBerry 10 is camera software, the time shift camera. This feature enables the camera to take multiple frames of every photo, and this allows users to make corrections rather easily. There is no button to take photos, physical or virtual, and you simply have to tap anywhere on the screen to take a photo. If you want to select a different focus point instead of the centre, you can manually drag and refocus, although this can become awkward at times. The BB10 Picture Editor allows users to add an assortment of filters, quite like Instagram.
        • Web browser While BlackBerry users may have suffered in the past from poor web browsing experiences, BlackBerry 10 sets to change that. When it launched it outperformed the mobile versions of Internet Explorer and Safari considerably, and while Apple and Microsoft issued later updates, browsing on BlackBerry 10 continued to outdo others. One report showed that while BlackBerry 10 loaded a web page in an average of 1.55 seconds, Opera Mini 4.2 took average load times of 4.78 seconds, and Safari took 4.91 seconds.

Pros and cons


  • Keyboard. The touch screen keyboard that’s part of the BlackBerry 10 enables quick and accurate typing, owing to a distinct feature. The software learns how users mistype and makes adjustments in accordance. Its predictive text function rates highly on the intuitive quotient, with relevant words appearing above the letters you type. An upward swipe allows you to flick chosen words into where you are typing.
  • Message notifications. BlackBerry Hub simplifies getting message notifications, given that it collects all your message notifications in a single place. You can use this feature while you’re in the middle of anything else by using a simple dedicated gesture.
  • BBM video calling. The BBM messenger service goes a step further with BlackBerry 10, allowing users to make video calls. A feature dubbed ‘Screen Share’ allows BlackBerry 10 users to share screens of their devices with people they are talking with in real time.


  • Gestures. People who’ve been faithful to BlackBerry’s QWERTY keypad could face a steep learning curve when dealing with the new operating system’s gesture-based operations. Even people who’ve used iOS or Android devices could take some time getting used to gestures on this platform.

Frequently asked questions

Can I upgrade to BlackBerry 10 from previous versions?

No. Devices that run on BlackBerry 7.1, 7.0, 6.0, or earlier cannot upgrade to BlackBerry 10. If you wish to use BlackBerry 10, you have to buy a newer device, such as the Z10.

What is BlackBerry World?

This online platform is BlackBerry’s digital store where users can download apps, videos, music, themes, and games.

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