Five features Windows Phone should absorb from Blackberry

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Here at Pocketnow, we like to dream. We like to play the what-if game a lot. What if this worked like that? What if that company had released this product first instead of that? What if I found myself trapped in an elevator with Halle Berry? Ya know, nothing crazy. Well, we’re not content to just kick back and day dream. We like to really dig in and see what is possible.

So, Blackberry’s pretty much dead in the water right? If there is anything approaching a consensus among the technology community about things that will happen in the near future, that’s about as close to a certainty as you can get. It sucks. It’s not fun for anyone, especially fans of that platform, but it’s going to happen. Sorry.

But Blackberry might have a chance for life after consumer-product death. Sure they’ll live on in enterprise software – maybe – but when it comes to consumer handsets, Blackberry hhub_mock_upas a real shot at continuing forward, albeit in a more of a “The Walking Dead” kind of role. If Blackberry can’t be successful in the consumer market, maybe its legacy can continue forward in Windows Phone with a few key features inspired by Blackberry.

You might remember some of these features from our reviews of BB10 and the Z10, and the Q10. If not, go ahead and click the links and refresh your memory. We’ll wait.

Now, whether these features make it onto the platform by licensing (Blackberry may as well make some money of developing BB10) or by “borrowing ideas” (for reference see iOS multitasking vs. webOS) is neither here nor there. I suppose in an idyllic world, Microsoft approaches Blackberry and licenses the features from them, being all copyright-friendly and such. More likely though, if these features are to live on, they’ll be copied.  Either way, here’s a list of the top five features we  at Pocketnow would salivate over should they show up on a….what’s the word that I’m looking for? – successful consumer handset.

The Hub

The Blackberry Hub is one of the more fantastic features about Blackberry and it fits in perfectly with something that Windows Phone is lacking – notifications. Integrating a Hub-like feature into Windows Phone would potentially solve this notification center issue with all manner of possibilities.

peek_mock_up

Sure the live tiles would still be there, all flippy and everything. And live tiles would be great for the important notifications – your main inbox, your calendar, etc. Plus live tiles would be perfect for apps like “Battery” which wouldn’t really work in a Hub-like format. So, by all means, we are not advocating the destruction of live tiles.

But for a virtual command center of all of your notifications, the Hub is where you would want to be. With the ability to integrate messages from all manner of emails accounts, instant messengers (maybe fix that Facebook messenger situation), game notifications, etc. all of those could be available from the command center. In fact, call it the “Command Center”.  Gold.

Peek

Along with the Hub, you almost have to integrate Peek functionality. In my world, Peek is what made the Hub the coolest thing ever. The ability to swipe up from the bottom of any screen and get an instant and non-disruptive look at the Hub without ever leaving your current app would make it da bomb. If I had ever owned a BB10 device, the combination of those two features would have been what I looked forward to using the most, plus the most fun to show off at parties.

Notification light

LED notification lights. Ok, so this isn’t a Blackberry innovation exactly, and it’s not uncommon elsewhere, but this is quite possibly the one thing I miss the most from my webOS days. Just glancing at my phone and seeing if I had any notifications waiting was awesome and I miss it dearly. My GSIII has a light for just such an occasion, but in my opinion it’s under-used as well.

In a perfect world, I would have the Windows logo at the bottom of the phone pulse when there is a notification, plus I would have it pulse in different colors depending on what the notification was. Yes Microsoft, you can go ahead and send me a check. You’re welcome. Yes, the usual address.

LED_mock_up

wp_messengerVirtual Keyboard

The virtual keyboard built into Windows Phone has been called the best in the business by more than a few reviewers. I personally am more of a SwiftKey kind of guy (on Android of course) but I’d consider the Windows Phone keyboard a pretty close second. I rarely had the occasion to use Blackberry Keyboard unfortunately, but the word-flicking thing did very much grab my attention. Most virtual keyboards incorporate autocomplete in some fashion, often at the top of the keyboard, but Blackberry is the only one that puts the suggestions on the keyboard itself, as opposed to above it.

I don’t know about you, but when I type on a virtual keyboard, I usually look at the keyboard, as opposed to above it. Further, the less distance my fingers have to travel, the more efficient typing can be. Personally, I see it being more useful for one-handed use, but better is better, so let’s all be better. Better?

Two for the price of one

The fifth item is actually going to be a combo deal. A buy one get one free deal, if you will. We’re going to talk about one feature which may have already come to Windows Phone, and one which will likely never come to Windows Phone.

App Closing

GDR 3 came out yesterday, and with it came a bulletpoint that said “Now you can use the App switcher to quickly close apps when you’re finished with them.” This is really cool. Previously, the only way to close an application was to use the back button to get out of it. The only way to close all active apps was to either mash the back button repeatedly until it wouldn’t go back any more, or to reboot the phone. Neither of these was particularly ideal. Blackberry had a minimized card system similar to webOS, Windows Phone, and pretty much everyone else nowadays. The one main difference between Windows Phone and everyone else is/was app closing or lack thereof. It seems GDR 3 may have had a premonition about this article and gotten on top of that, and good on them. Well done.

Feel free to salivate

Feel free to salivate

Sideloading Android

The last page we’d like to see Windows Phone take out of Blackberry’s playbook is Android app sideloading. This feature, which admittedly was not a favorite of many, would solve a lot of problems for Windows Phone, most notably the lack of Google service utilization. Having access to Andorid apps would bring a lot of missing functionality to Windows Phone and might placate those who screamed for an Android Lumia 1020.

It will never happen of course. Google won’t even let Microsoft’s developers make their own Youtube app. Do we realistically think that Google would not drag Microsoft into court the very moment the phrase “Android apps” is whispered within Microsoft’s headquarters? I’m almost positive they would, and they would likely win.

Also, my very brief and limited exposure to the app development world made it seem very much like the architecture behind Windows Phone and Android is very, very different. Is it more different than the gap between BB10 and Android? I have no idea. So I’m not even sure if it would be possible. Actually, I’m reasonably sure it would be possible; I just have no idea how hard it’d be. Since Google would rather chop off their left pinky than let it happen, it’s rather a moot point.

So that’s our wish list. Do you think we missed anything? I personally would be a lot happier picking up my Lumia 920 if those five features were there. Is there something that Windows Phone could do without? Sound off in the comments with your thoughts.

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About The Author
Adam Doud
Adam joined the tech world after watching Jon Rubenstein demo the most epic phone ever at CES 2009. He is webOS enthusiast, Windows Phone fan, and Android skeptic. He loves the outdoors, is an avid Geocacher, Cubs/Blackhawks fan, and family man living in Sweet Home Chicago, where he STILL hosts monthly webOS meetups (Don’t call it a comeback!). He can be found tweeting all things tech as @DeadTechnology, or chi-town sports at @oneminutecubs.Read more about Adam Doud!