Although there are still updates to BlackBerry 10.2.1 being released, it's no secret that BlackBerry 10.3 is well on its way. The developer OS has been released, the developer tools have all been updated and BlackBerry has slowly been offering everyone quick glimpses of what's next for BlackBerry 10. There have even been a few leaks of the upcoming OS, and while there is still plenty of time to make changes, it is likely that the leaks represent the final product quite well. BlackBerry 10.3 is slated to arrive with the BlackBerry Passport in September and after that, BlackBerry 10.3.1 will be released to previous BlackBerry 10 devices such as the BlackBerry Q5, Q10, Z10 and Z30.
While some folks aren't entirely happy with having to wait a bit longer to get their hands on 10.3, it is important to clarify that everybody will get 10.3. You'll just have to wait a little bit longer for an official release. For the truly impatient, there will probably be leaked versions also.
As mentioned, there are a few leaked OS versions in the wild. These are works in progress, with varying states of functionality. I use 10.3.0.296 as my daily driver even though it has some issues, but your mileage may vary. Use caution and realize you're riding the bleeding edge. Don't be upset if things don't work perfectly.
Double-Finger Swipe Down From Any App To Load Settings Menu
So you're reading some news, and you realize you want to turn on Wi-Fi. Previously you'd need to swipe up from the bottom of the screen to send the active app into the active frame view, then swipe down from the top of the screen to load the quick settings. No more, friends! Simply "double-finger" swipe down from the top, in any app or window, and voila! There is the quick settings menu!
Select Plain Text Or HTML Email Formats
I participate in numerous mailing lists. Typically email list administrators become very irate when you post html-formatted messages. Now I can select plain text format in the hub when writing a reply, and I can finally stay active on mailing lists even when I'm away from my computer. Compose a new email, tap the overflow icon (three dots), and select Plain Text format. Bonus!
Transparent Active Frames Show Which Apps Were Running After Reboot
When you restart your device, for example to change a battery, it is sometimes difficult to remember what you were doing before the change. Now the active frame area populates with transparent variants of the apps you were using before the restart. This is a nice way to remind you of which apps you were using, and help you get back on track.
Quick Access To Camera And Video Record Functions
So you fire up the camera app, and you want to shoot a video. Gone are the days when you would need to tap the overflow icon, select "video camera", and then start recording. Now you simply load up the camera and the still photograph and video record buttons are right there, displayed at the bottom of the camera app window! As an added feature, you can tap the camera icon to take a still photograph while you are in the middle of recording a video. Handy!
A new feature added in BlackBerry OS 10.3 is known as 'Advanced Interactions'. What are they? Well, it allows for setting such as 'Lift to wake your device' and 'Flip to mute' along with 'Flip to save power'. They're all pretty self explanatory but lift to wake means your device will wake up when lifting it from a flat surface while flip to mute will silence your phone when you flip it over. Finally, flip to save power will help conserve battery life by putting your device in standby mode when you put it face down on a flat surface.
This feature provides a speedy method to apply actions to emails, directly from the hub view. Of all the things I've discovered in 10.3, this gets the most use on my device, and I do hope that it is expanded in future releases to include more actions. Go into the hub, tap the overflow icon (three dots), then Settings, then Display and Actions, and scroll down to Speed Triage.
There are two email action fields, and you can map them to file an email, flag an email, or delete an email.
Back in the Hub, tap the "three horizontal lines with check mark" icon in the top right corner:
The icon turns blue, and the email actions become visible as icons next to the messages in the hub they are applicable to. For this example, I have "file" and "flag" selected as Email Action 1 and Email Action 2. Simply tap the icon next to the message, and the hub applies the action to the message.
Separate Lock Screen Wallpaper
Although purely a cosmetic addition, it shows the developers are in touch with users' desire to customize their device and make it a personalized reflection of themselves. In System Settings, go to Security and Privacy, then Lock Screen.
Enable Folder Sync Directly From The Hub Listing
Do you have an email folder you just added, and you forgot to toggle folder synchronize? Now you don't have to dive into account settings to change it. Tap the "down arrow" at the top right corner of the hub next to the hub or current folder name, navigate to the folder you want to edit, select it, tap the overflow icon (three dots), and tap Enable FolderSync.
Option To Show Sender Only, On Lock Screen Notifications
I prefer my BlackBerry to be locked down tight. If I accidentally leave my device behind somewhere (mind you, when is it not in my hand or in my pocket...) or it is stolen, I do not want the person holding it to have access to anything on the device. So full lock screen notifications are definitely out. However, what if only the sender was shown? This is a nice compromise that might work for some users. In system settings, go to Security and Privacy, Lock Screen, and scroll down to the toggle shown below.
It is my hope that in future this feature will be expanded, so that when the device is not password locked (perhaps just screen timed out), the device will show full lock screen notifications, but when the device is password locked, the lock screen notifications will be restricted to sender only, or perhaps no lock screen notifications at all.
Toggle Display Of Action Bar Icon Labels
In a nod towards a clean user interface, you can now toggle the display of action bar icon labels. Go to system settings, Display, and scroll down to the Action Bar section. If the labels are turned off and you are unsure of an icon's function, simply long press on the icon to display its label.
No more decisions about which apps are going to be categorized in small folders. Now you can stuff as many app icons as you like into a folder. New pages are added inside the folder as required.
So there you have it. Eleven small features in 10.3 that might otherwise be relegated to the margins of some design summary document. They deserve to be front and center, because it truly is the little touches that make all the difference in the user experience.
That said though, it's important to keep in mind all these things were taken from a pre-release OS so some potentially could go missing before final we release. I certainly hope not but the warning is still applicable.
Are you running a build of BlackBerry 10.3 on your device? If so, let us know in the comments what your favorite features are thus far.