What's new with the BB10 OS, BES 10 and more

If you're wondering what all of BlackBerry's new products do, such as the BB10 OS, Hub, Balance and BES 10, this FAQ should clear things up.

BlackBerry has come out with a slew of new and improved products, including tools for application management and a new BES to help manage Android, iOS and BlackBerry devices.

Some of the tools will be familiar to IT. Products such as BlackBerry Enterprise Service (BES) 10 and BlackBerry Messenger are revamped and rebranded versions of longstanding BlackBerry products. But there are new tools as well, such as Hub, Balance and the new BB10 OS. Read on to find out what these products can do for enterprise mobility and to see what other IT pros are saying about BlackBerry's future.

What's new?

BlackBerry 10 is based on the QNX kernel and has a tiled interface that displays apps and the data associated with them in real time. BlackBerry 10 also has a touch keyboard and allows for video calling between BlackBerry users.

BlackBerry Hub is a BB10 app that allows users to read and reply to email, texts and activity on social networks, all from one interface. Hub also integrates with BlackBerry Messenger and calendars. With non-BlackBerry OSes, users have to open individual applications to respond to email, texts and social media notifications, respectively.

BlackBerry Balance is part of BlackBerry Enterprise Server 5.0.3 and higher (including BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10) and is on devices with BlackBerry OS 6.0 and above. Balance lets IT deploy, remove and secure applications and data on BlackBerry devices. The technology has been around since 2011 and is meant to give administrators control over corporate data on employees' personal devices without disturbing users' personal data. BlackBerry Balance is similar to mobile application management, and it also has dual-persona technology, called Spaces, that keeps corporate and personal information separate from one another.

The Z10 and Q10 are the new smartphones from BlackBerry. The Z10 has a touch keyboard and the Q10 has BlackBerry's traditional physical keyboard. Both run the BB10 OS.

What's changed?

Research In Motion is no more. The company is now simply known as BlackBerry.

BlackBerry Messenger has changed a lot over the years. Users no longer need to share their PINs to talk to each other. Instead, they can use Near Field Communication or they can scan QR codes. BBM also offers more than just instant messaging these days. Users can send and receive files, share apps, voice chat, share screens and video chat. There will also be versions of BBM available for Android and iOS.

BlackBerry Enterprise Service (BES) 10 is a new version of BlackBerry Enterprise Server, the stalwart mobile device management software. The new BES 10 allows IT to manage iOS and Android devices, as well as BlackBerrys. BES 10 comes with BlackBerry Balance, and it won't cost current BlackBerry Enterprise Service customers anything to upgrade.

What's next?

Opinions are mixed about whether or not BlackBerry's new approach will put the company's troubles to rest. There are a lot of IT pros who think that BlackBerry has made some great improvements to its products and who will continue to use BlackBerry in their companies. At its launch, there were 70,000 BB10 apps in the BlackBerry World app store, and more are expected. Many of those apps have real business value, including apps from SAP, Box, Evernote, Skype, Twitter and more. Plus, BlackBerry has made it easier for developers to build apps for the BB10 OS because they can port Android apps to BlackBerry apps. BlackBerry is also still more secure than Android, has more management tools than iOS and has the advantage of being a longstanding enterprise staple.

On the other hand, it took BlackBerry a very long time to get the BB10 OS and associated products to market. Consumers -- and now IT -- are used to new tools and technologies coming out at a rapid pace. Some people are concerned that BlackBerry also hasn't been innovative enough, saying that its competitors have offered the same features that BlackBerry is just now bringing out.

It likely won't be the devices and consumer-facing features that make companies stick with BlackBerry. It will be the application management capabilities, the dual-persona technology and the ability to manage BlackBerry, Android and iOS devices. But only time will tell what's next for BlackBerry.

This was first published in May 2013

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