BlackBerry (formerly RIM) has announced the release of its highly anticipated BlackBerry 10 operating system, as well as its first BlackBerry 10 smartphones, the Z10 and Q10, which come outfitted with assisted, autonomous and simultaneous GPS and with a Blackberry Maps application preloaded. One reviewer, however, has said the Blackberry Maps application is “worse than Apple Maps.”
Issues listed include lack of street view or satellite view, lack of public transit directions, and no way to look up news and reviews of venues based on Yelp, Zagat, or a similar service. Another reviewer said, “Although full details of BB10’s map app have yet to be revealed, early reports are mixed. Although it now includes turn-by-turn directions, those who have had an opportunity to try it describe it as basic and underwhelming.”
A TIME magazine review said, “The consensus among BlackBerry Z10 reviews is that its Maps app is subpar. The Verge complained about inaccurate data, and said the software couldn’t reliably find local businesses. CNet bemoaned a lack of features, such as walking directions, transit maps and street views. Apparently the software doesn’t even let you jump into the Maps app by tapping on an address or map in the web browser. That’s just basic stuff. At least the Maps app includes voice-guided turn-by-turn directions.”
The Z10 is equipped with a 4.2-inch touchscreen and the Q10 has a 3.2-inch handset with a Blackberry’s physical keyboard. Besides GPS, the phones have 4G connectivity, Bluetooth Smart and NFC connectivity. The use of Bluetooth Smart in the BlackBerry 10 platform will open it up developers who will be able to take advantage of a growing market of connectable devices such as health and wellness monitors and sports and fitness monitoring equipment, in addition to other devices such as home automation equipment that also uses Bluetooth Smart. According to the IHS study “Wireless Opportunities in Health and Wellness Monitoring – 2012 Edition,” more than 69 million Bluetooth low energy health and sports monitors will ship between 2012 and 2017.
Phillip Maddocks, market analyst at IHS, states, “By incorporating Bluetooth Smart into the BlackBerry 10 platform, BlackBerry will be able to provide a platform that is renowned for its enterprise use, in addition to meeting casual users needs who might want to use their device to monitor their health or sports performance, or in some instances, turn a light off inside their house using their phone. Several sports and fitness vendors such as Nike, Polar, Garmin and Wahoo Fitness have already either released or announced products that utilize Bluetooth Smart.”
BlackBerry has followed a trend set by other smartphone manufacturers on the hardware side by providing up-to-date connectivity, in addition to providing 4G support and support for future mobile payment platforms. Near Field Communication was previously included within the BlackBerry Bold 9900/9930 and enabled users to make payments using their smart phone. Other platforms such as Android have also been offering the same functionality, utilizing Google Wallet on NFC enabled phones. According to IHS, more than 75 million NFC enabled cellular handsets were shipped in 2012, and with today’s announcement, and the expectation that other major phone manufacturers incorporate the technology, this will continue to grow.
BlackBerry’s announcement brings its handsets in line with where the industry is heading, despite being delayed, and later to the market than expected.