Top 10 tricks and tips for BlackBerry 10

BlackBerry, which, until recently, was trading under the Research In Motion (RIM) banner, released the BlackBerry Z10 mobile device in South Africa at the end of January this year. With the launch of the new phone came a new operating system that BlackBerry users will have to get used to. While there are some similarities to former operating systems and Google’s Android OS,  the experience is still new to BlackBerry users and there is still a great deal of exploration required.

BlackBerry's new Z10 mobile device (image: BlackBerry)

As with any new operating system, there are a number of shortcuts and tricks that will make the transition to a new OS easier, smoother and more enjoyable.

We have created a list of ten tricks and tips for the BlackBerry 10 OS to help users get the most out of their devices.

1. Contact feed

Swiping down from the top of the Contacts screen, tapping settings, and toggling networks, users will be able choose which friends from the various social networks will feed into their contacts. They will also be able to add friends by long-pressing their latest correspondence and tapping ‘Add to Contacts’ from the context menu.

2. Favourites

While a decent contact list can get clogged with contacts that are sourced from the various social networks, users are able to mark a number of them as favourites. This can be done from the context menu for easy access from the left-side pane in Contacts. Favourites can also be selected as Speed Dial options, by long-pressing their last call in the phone app, and selecting Add to Speed Dial. Contacts can be removed and added to the Speed Dial option at any time. Long press the portraits at the top of the dialler app to pick new speed dial contacts.

3. Own number and Answering

If getting a new phone is not confusing enough, remembering a phone number can be just as frustrating if it is for a new SIM card. When users scroll past the top, above speed dial contacts, they will be able to see their own mobile phone number for easy reference. BlackBerry users also love to keep their mobile device close to them in a hip holster, and to answer a call automatically after it has been removed from the pouch, swipe down from the top in the dialler app, tap Settings, then Holster.

4. IMEI number

Together with remembering one’s own mobile number, the user might need to issue support or a helpline with the phone’s IMEI number. To easily get to the number, all that users will have to do is to dial *#06# on the keypad, and the number will be displayed on-screen. There is also a secondary view of retrieving the number, and user will need to go to Settings, then About, and then select Hardware.

5. Notification count

When receiving a number of messages a day, users will be able to see notification count in a compact sidebar by swiping up from the bottom of the Hub while keeping a finger on the screen. This is very similar to the new, standard peak feature that is built into the BlackBerry 10 ecosystem. Following a pop-up, users will be able to execute a command by dragging their finger, following the pop-up and releasing on the command they wish to select.

6. Sections

BlackBerry 10 features a number of sections in the menus, and it can become a bit cluttered if users do not take care with what they feed into the interface. To remove sections from the Hub, tap the overflow menu button (the one with the three dots) in the bottom-right, go to Settings, then Hub Management, and toggle which sections should be removed or remain. Users will also be able to hide the unread count from the Hub filter pane by going to the overflow menu, then selecting Settings, and Display and Actions.

7. BlackBerry Hub

The BlackBerry Hub is the central place where everything on the mobile phone can be executed, and it needs to be easily accessible to users all the time. But luckily there is a very quick gesture that users can do that will take them straight to the hub from anywhere on the phone. All that users will have to do, is swipe an inverted L from the bottom of the screen in one smooth motion.

8. BlackBerry Clock/Do Not Disturb

With the pace of life today, the opportunity to catch a quick nap or work without being disturbed is priceless! For that reason, BlackBerry has built a very nifty do-not-disturb function into BlackBerry 10, and all that users will have to do is swipe downwards while on the lock screen to launch the BlackBerry Clock.

9. Accidental dialling

As mobile devices become more interactive and feature more functions on their touch screens, a phenomenon known as pocket-dialling has emerged over the last couple of years. When this happens, a user’s phone might dial a number without the users even knowing it, as the phone has been unlocked and buttons pressed while in the pocket. To combat this, users will be able to select that the BlackBerry 10 device will only be operational when the power button is pressed. To activate the function, users will have to go to Settings, then to Display and then select “Allow Gestures when Locked” to off.

10. Moving apps

As the BlackBerry market place is growing with more interesting and useful apps, users will continue to download more of them. But by default an app shortcut is placed on the apps list in the order which they have been downloaded – which might not be where users want them to be. To move app shortcuts to a different locations, users will need to press and hold the app, and then drag it to the desired location.

Charlie Fripp – Consumer Tech editor