New BlackBerry Ltd Update Allows Access To Android Apps

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With the BlackBerry 10.3.1 update, the company has improved the battery life on its devices and added new camera features and more

BlackBerry has just pushed out a major software update which allows users of BB10 devices to access Android apps and a number of other BlackBerry features. The BlackBerry 10 OS 10.3.1 update provides access not only to the BlackBerry World app store but also Amazon’s Appstore, reports Reuters (via Re/code).

BlackBerry now offers dual storefronts

The Canadian smartphone maker said the rollout of the update for its newest operating system starts today and will be subject to approvals by each mobile carrier. With the new update, users of all BlackBerry 10 devices have access to the new features and a multitude of apps that were unavailable on the BlackBerry platform previously. BlackBerry device users will find dual storefronts to access both the Amazon Appstore and the BlackBerry World app store.

According to the company’s official press release, the BlackBerry update brings “battery boosting technology” that is expected to improve battery life by up to 15%. BlackBerry users will now be able to choose which apps and functions they want to restrict in order to conserve battery power.

BlackBerry improves camera, adds action bar

The update also brings improvements to the cameras on its devices. The camera software will recommend settings and modes in different situations automatically. BlackBerry also upgraded the Time Shift mode, which is used when the device detects faces in a photo.

Other big changes users will notice after downloading and installing the update are a new look with updated icons and what the company calls “an instant action bar.” The action bar provides easy access to the device user’s most frequently used functions. It will appear right in the middle of the screen.

BlackBerry is also bringing back some keyboard shortcuts for its QWERTY keyboard devices like the BlackBerry Classic and the BlackBerry Passport. The company said almost every letter on the keyboard can be assigned an action, like setting a speed dial for a particular contact or setting the button to launch a particular app.

BlackBerry opens up BlackBerry Blend, BlackBerry Assistant

BlackBerry said the update also provides access to the new BlackBerry Blend feature, which many were impressed with when the company showed it off last year. Additionally, the update brings improvements to BlackBerry Hub and the multimedia offerings on the platform.

BlackBerry Blend allows users to receive notifications of messages and read and respond to email, and text messages while they access their contacts, calendars files or media on any device. In addition to working on the BlackBerry platform, it also works on Apple’s Mac operating system, Microsoft Windows, and tablets that run Google’s Android operating system.

BlackBerry 10.3.1 also brings with it the BlackBerry Assistant, a new feature that works like Apple’s Siri digital personal assistant and Google Now. Either text or voice commands can be used to manage contacts, calendar entries, email and other apps.

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