Blackberry’s Priv is the first Blackberry phone to come packing Android, but BB isn’t content to simply throw on Google’s OS. The Priv’s version of Android is a serious improvement, adding some very cool and useful features. Here’s the ten best ways that the Blackberry Priv improves Android.
Read next: Our full in-depth Blackberry Priv review
1. Easy transfer from an old phone
Android phones now come with the ‘Tap & Go’ feature for allegedly transferring your old media and other bits from your old Android handset. However, half of the time the bloody thing falls over for us or simply refuses to even connect the two handsets.
Thankfully the Priv comes packing Blackberry’s Content Transfer app, which is a more reliable and flexible way of getting your precious junk onto your new mobile. Just install the app on your old phone and then choose how to move stuff across from your old BB, Android, iOS or Windows Phone handset – via Google Drive, a microSD memory card or over your WiFi.
2. One hub for all of your important stuff
BlackBerry Hub makes a very welcome reappearance on Android for the Priv, and we like it so much that we use it instead of the standard Gmail app. Not only can you read and respond to emails but you can also see any notifications and alerts from your other accounts (including Twitter and Facebook, for instance), all in one place. There’s also a quick calendar view to check upcoming events.
Best of all is the smart reminder feature, which is so good we’ve given it a point all of its own…
3. Smart(er) reminders
We’ve already seen location-based reminders and the like built into assistants such as Cortana and Siri, but Blackberry Hub can also snooze emails and other notifications for a set time period, until you reach a specific location or even until your phone connects to an existing WiFi network or Bluetooth device. It’s a seriously helpful feature and a step beyond the usual reminders functionality.
4. Improved security and privacy
Android phones allow you to encrypt your data if you like, but the Priv encrypts your important info by default, which we definitely prefer. After all, it’s far too easy to put it off until the dark day you lose your handset.
Blackberry’s DTEK security app gives you a clear overview of how secure your Priv is and also helps you to set up lock screen security and check out which apps can access private data such as your current location. Plus the Priv comes with Password Keeper pre-installed, a handy and secure method of storing all of your different passwords together in encrypted form.
A simple one this, but one we can’t believe is missing from stock Android. If your Priv’s sat on your desk and you see the notifications light flashing, just double-tap the display to wake to your lock screen and check out what’s waiting. Saves you fumbling for the power button every time.
6. Pop-up widgets
The concept of the pop-up widget is so simple and obvious yet so brilliant that we’re really surprised it hasn’t been done before by Google. On the Priv’s desktops, some app icons such as the Play Store and Hangouts come with three little dots beneath them. Swipe up the icon instead of tapping it and an appropriate widget will pop up onto the screen.
So for instance, swipe up on the calendar icon and your upcoming appointments pop up in a window for quick reference. In this way you can save valuable desktop space, as you no longer need to slap down loads of widgets. Nice.
7. Smart predictive keyboard
The Priv may come with a decent physical keyboard, but Blackberry’s virtual keyboard makes smashing out texts, emails and everything else an absolute breeze. Predicted words pop up above the on-screen keys so you can complete with just a swipe up, while Blackberry’s auto-correct is one of the best around.
8. Quick Actions shortcuts
As well as allowing you to pin app shortcuts and widgets to your desktops, the Priv also comes with a handy selection of Quick Action shortcuts. These allow you to quickly add a new calendar event, create a new contact, call your voicemail, add an important new task, toggle power-sapping features and loads more, all with a single tap.
9. Keyboard shortcuts
You can also quickly access your favourite apps or speed dial contacts by tapping or long-pressing the Priv’s physical QWERTY keys from the Android desktops. And as if that wasn’t enough, swipe up from the virtual home button and you can fast-access three of your favourite apps at any time.
If it wasn’t already completely obvious, the Priv makes it quick and easy to get stuff done. Even better, Blackberry’s take on Android is so flexible that you really can use it however you want. Want to see what stuff you have planned at the start of every day? You can either stick a calendar widget on your desktop or flick up on your calendar app icon to see the pop-up widget.
Or, alternatively, Blackberry has added a ‘Productivity Tab’ to the right edge of the Android desktop. A quick flick from that edge shows you your next few appointments and any important reminders, while also giving you immediate access to your favourite contacts.
Check out our full Blackberry Priv review for our thoughts on the Priv’s hardware.