Though BlackBerry 10.2 is still warm from the oven, the Waterloo-based company is readying another update, small in number but big on features. BlackBerry 10.2.1 has been leaked in a number of places, and there are three major user-facing improvements that current BB10 users will appreciate. The first is a new incoming call screen, which instead of swiping down to answer and up to reject, now allows users to swipe right to answer and left to reject. This behaviour falls in line with current major operating systems like Android and iOS — in fact, that new screen resembles recent versions of Android — and should be far more intuitive to use for new customers.
BlackBerry 10.2.1 also promises to improve the quick settings menu, which is available by swiping down from the top of the home screen. Until now, users could toggle WiFi, Bluetooth and other functions, but in the new version will be able to eliminate unused functions and add new ones, such as a quick torch toggle.
It also looks like BB 10.2.1 will allow users to install Android apps straight from the file system via a new Android Player. BB 10.2 improved the way the operating system dealt with Android apps by updating the underlying software to Jelly Bean from Gingerbread; this upcoming version looks to expand it further. While BlackBerry is denying that Play Store support is coming in a future build — leaked screenshots suggested it would be — this move could point to tighter Android integration in the future. But one of the most useful additions to BB10.2.1 promises to be Headless Apps.
Developers will soon be able to push notifications and content to users even when the app hasn’t been opened. Right now, notifications for third-party apps are limited to the eight Active Windows in the multitasking menu. BlackBerry plans to make the Headless App API available to specific developers in BB10.2.1, and should roll it out more widely in a later release, likely early next year.
No word on when BlackBerry 10.2.1 is coming to Canadian handsets, but with the Z10, Q10, Q5 and Z30 fully entrenched in the market, it’s good to see the company supporting its tribe.