Wishlist for BlackBerry

Written by Abhishek Puri | Updated: Oct 10 2013, 14:50pm hrs
BlackBerry 10BlackBerry 10
BlackBerry 10 has surpassed this authors expectation and was keenly anticipated prior to the launch. This author was excited about the true multitasking abilities of QNX, granular security approach of the product and the stellar hardware. Although there is a lot of hot air about the company going under, this author intends to focus on its industrial strengths. In no particular order, here is the wish list.

Resurrect the PlayBook. This was a huge blow to the author when PlayBooks end of life was announced. This author has been sold on the premise of genuine multitasking on his tablet that doubled as an entertainment device.

Although BlackBerry had initially promised on delivering the newer generation OS on the existing hardware, it was later retracted. Despite the flurry of apologies, a computing device doesnt appear on the roadmap.

One of the brilliant examples of software engineering was BlackBerry Bridge that allowed the paired BlackBerry phone to remotely control the device. Connected to the HDMI output to HD TV, BlackBerry Bridge effectively doubled as a remote control. With a paired Bluetooth keyboard and ability to connect through virtual private networks, PlayBook remains a stellar computing device offering unparalleled security for its users connecting from remote locations.

Near field communication (NFC) remains one of the most understated aspects of this amazing platform. It generates a secure channel for connected devices and BlackBerry was the first smartphone manufacturer to introduce it. Beyond making payments, NFC can be triggered to generate repetitive tasks such as shifting to bedside mode when you are close to your bed, switch on music in your car, launch websites which you frequent or sharing data wirelessly between the devices. NFC has got a major boost in India recently, which was the result of tireless efforts of the people in the background, making it possible to just swipe your phone to the terminal to pay for your movie tickets.

The possibilities with NFC are endless and are limited to your imagination. This author recently tested a two-factor authentication device called as Yubikey Neo that is activated by NFC. Imagine, your phone being locked automatically when the key is withdrawn from the device and you need to tap again to unlock it. Yubikey Neo is a highly secure way to generate one-time passwords that can be authenticated in real time with the server. Since mobile phones have their data services permanently switched on, the authentication process can easily be carried out. The upside of this approach is that in your absence, the phone always stays locked and protects against the theft of potential loss of data. In the event the device is stolen, the administrator can easily wipe off BlackBerry remotely.

BlackBerry needs to advertise its NFC capabilities more aggressively and work with the operators worldwide in order to ensure that requisite SIM cards are proportioned to the users to make payments. In BlackBerry 10, NFC has to be switched under settings while Smart Tags allows you to expand the possibilities with the same.

Can BlackBerry have an all in one computing device This author rues the fact there is no alternative on a bigger form factor. BlackBerry should explore the possibility of such a computing device because the fundamental elements are clearly in place. Its Webkit based browser blazes on the redundant mobile networks and it offers the complete inbuilt suite of office applications. It should be possible to open up its interface in order to install extensions that would make it effective as an ad blocker or hide elements on the web page and speed up the access while saving data. Flash is natively supported. Its ability to offer true multitasking and security (connectivity options through highly secure VPN) would keep it immune from the persistent threats of viruses and malware. BlackBerry 10, as software OS in its present form has everything in place to successfully make the transition from phones to computers.

In all, BlackBerry suffers from lack of perception and goodwill marketing. Most of the mainstream newspapers covering technology serve as echo chambers for dedicated, behind the scenes, rumour mongering in order to denounce BlackBerry. It is important to deliver a uniform message in order to stress on security, privacy and native strength of the platform in a more cohesive and uniform manner. It has been just a few months in the launch of a new platform and as BlackBerry rapidly expands it is going to take some time before the market stabilises and BlackBerry morphs itself into a niche product. It is unfair to compare it with Android and iOS in this regard because BlackBerry 10 is a radical departure from its earlier roots. For this author, it represents a total value for ownership experience unparalleled in any other product presently.

The writer is a practicing doctor with keen interest in technology