The BlackBerry PRIV may be the first Android-powered smartphone from BlackBerry, but the phone doesn’t just run Google’s Android operating system. It also brings a lot of features that first debuted on phones running BlackBerry OS and introduces some altogether new features.
BlackBerry is taking order for the PRIV for $699 and expects to ship the phone starting November 6th.
This week a BlackBerry PRIV simulator was posted online… and then removed. But members of the CrackBerry forums had a field day playing with the simulator and looking for ways that the PRIV differs from a phone running stock Android software.
Here are a few highlights:
- The phone can be unlocked with a swipe or by pulling down the hardware keyboard.
- The Recents menu shows thumbnail icons in different sizes, with the largest thumbnails reserved for the apps you use most frequently. You can swipe to remove apps from the list or tap an X button.
- Some apps will support “pop up widgets” that appear when you swipe upward from the app icon in the home screen.
- BlackBerry Hub is a universal communication app that brings together email, text messages, Facebook, Twitter, and calendar appointments in a single screen.
- Productivity Edge allows you to view shortcuts for select apps by dragging your finger from the edge of the screen.
- You can also see battery charging status thanks to a charging bar that shows up on the edge of the screen when your device is plugged in.
- Long press the home button to bring up Google Now, email, and BlackBerry Hub icons.
And of course the Priv will come pre-loaded with key BlackBerry apps including BlackBerry Messenger, Meetings, and camera apps.
While the PRIV is hardly the first Android phone to come with some custom software, it’ll be interesting to see whether BlackBerry can convince users its additions to Android as bonus features rather than bloatware… because the company’s future as a software provider may depend on it.