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Finally! How to make Android USABLE: Install BlackBerry OS 10.2

New upgrade smooths rough edges with 300+ features and tweaks

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The biggest update to BlackBerry OS 10 so far – version 10.2 – includes more than 300 changes, from new features to fixes for many niggles.

In contrast to the the spasmodic and lengthy rollout phase of earlier releases, BlackBerry seems to have got its act together here, removing roadblocks between its servers and users: 10.2 is already landing on EE and Vodafone devices in the UK.

New features in 10.2 include a "priority" section for important conversations in the messaging hub; notifications and message previews on the lock screen; the ability to preview and reply to any incoming message whatever you're doing from the toast-like pop-up interface; and support for a bunch of industry standards including Miracast and Wi-Fi direct, USB host mode, and Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy.

However welcome these are, it’s the tweaks that will be appreciated by stalwarts. The platform was very rough at the edges when it launched in January, and many have been smoothed out. Clipboard manipulation is easier, the settings app is now faster in native code, and there’s a native Evernote client.

And while BlackBerry doesn’t crow about it, there’s a significant performance update to the Android run-time, which now supports Jelly Bean apps. Whereas previously you’d only really want to run side-loaded Android apps in a dire emergency, BlackBerry OS 10.2 now runs them passably well for regular use – albeit with the performance penalty you’d expect from a Java runtime. This matters, because BB10 has far fewer native apps than rival operating systems iOS, Android and Windows Phone.

The over-the-air update requires a SIM card, but even a pay-as-you-go SIM should get you the upgrade (at least on Vodafone in the UK). Alternatively it can be installed via the BlackBerry Links PC or Mac software and USB.

BlackBerry wrote off almost $1bn on unsold Z10s in September. A low-cost Z10 is worth considering as a second phone, so we’ll give it a reappraisal with the 10.2 update shortly. Stand by for our imminent review of the BlackBerry Z30. ®

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