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Hands-on: Everything new with BlackBerry PRIV running Android Marshmallow [Video]


Yesterday, BlackBerry finally started pushing out the Android Marshmallow for the PRIV. And while it contains everything we already know about Marshmallow, BlackBerry added a few new useful and cool features of its own.

First up is the new gesture support. With most software keyboards, regardless of who designed it, you normally find a flow-like feature where you can simply glide across the letters without lifting your finger to create words. Apps like SwiftKey and Swype are a prime example. But with Android Lollipop, BlackBerry didn’t have that on the software keyboard. Now it does.

It’s not exactly a breakthrough feature, but there’s a flip side. This same feature is built in to the hardware keyboard too. That means you can glide across the touch-sensitive surface of the physical QWERTY keys and it strings words together onscreen.

It’s awesome in theory, but has been very unusual and inaccurate in daily use. You definitely can’t be as fast as you’re probably accustomed to being. Movements need to be a little slow and deliberate, or you’ll end up making weird words you never even considered. Ooh, there are new emoji too.. (yey!)


Of course, Android Marshmallow includes Doze mode, which dramatically improves standby battery life, and seems to be working okay with the PRIV. Leaving the phone off charge overnight only drops about 10% of the battery’s capacity. And although App Permissions isn’t bespoke to BlackBerry, I do like that you can access them from the DTEK security app. It makes it easy to check overall security of your phone, and change your app permissions without having to head over to the settings menu.

More importantly, it lets you see how many times a particular hardware or software element has been accessed by each individual app. So, if one app has been using your microphone way more than it should, you can do something about it.

Moving on to notifications, and there are quite a few inclusions. The most notable for those of you who are active on various social media platforms is the inclusion of Instagram, Skype, Slack and Pinterest in the Hub, so notifications and messages from those apps appear directly in your main Hub inbox.

Second, there’s a new mute indicator; if you’re on a call and using the phone for other purposes at the same time, you’ll see a green floating icon on the screen if the call isn’t muted, and a yellow icon if it is. It works pretty much the same as a Facebook Messenger’s Chat Head. You can drag it around to reposition it anywhere, or tap to return to the call.

Lastly, there are some new inclusions in the camera app. Video can now be recorded at 24fps to emulate that classic film effect with resolutions of 4k, 1080p or 720p. What’s more, Slow Motion Video capture has been added with a record speed of 120fps.

So those are pretty much the biggest, most visual additions. Let us know if you spot anything else new in yours, and shout out in the comments. Don’t forget to like and subscribe to our channel to stay up to date with all things Google, Chrome or Android.

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