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BlackBerry OS 6: a worthy upgrade

July 2011

A couple of weeks ago I upgraded my BlackBerry Bold 9700 to the new OS 6, and I must say, I'm impressed with the end results.

Things got off to a promising start with the upgrade itself. The BlackBerry desktop software presented v6.0 bundle 2534 as an upgrade option, and proceeded to give clear, user-friendly instructions at each step of the upgrade. The entire process took about 40 minutes.

Image of BlackBerry Bold 9700 running OS6

Photo: my Bold 9700 running OS 6. I'm very pleased.

There was just one blip. After the point of no return had been passed, the upgrade process reported a USB error saying it couldn't find the BlackBerry device. As an engineer one of my pet hates is unhelpful messages that don't suggest a course of action, but BlackBerry got this one right: the error suggested various remedies, including connecting the device direct to PC (i.e. not via a hub). This I did, and the upgrade recovered and proceeded without further complaint. Refreshing. (This issue only existed during the upgrade itself; I've since connected in my usual manner via a hub, and all is well).

With the upgrade complete, I immediately liked what I saw. The new UI is smart, snappy and well laid-out. The new notifications bar is very handy. Apps, messages and media are now easily accessed via 'trays' that slide open and closed as needed. Options are extensive, well organised and all have sensible defaults as far as I can see. And of course there's the new universal search facility: just start typing, and results from your messages, apps and media will progressively narrow with each key stroke. The new OS 6 browser is much better than its predecessor, although having multiple tabs open should be used sparingly on a device with just 256Mb memory.

I'm also pleased to say that OS 6 fixes a particularly annoying problem that seemed common on Bolds running OS 5. With lengthy SMS conversations, the Bold would occasionally get its knickers in a twist and refuse to open the thread, or allow new messages to be added to it. Sometimes the only remedy was to delete the thread and start afresh. OS 6 has no such issues.

One annoying problem not fixed though is the occasional tendancy to fall off the Wifi network, and refuse to re-associate. This seems a common problem, and as yet I don't have a clear idea of cause or remedy. On a related note I can 'fix' the problem by rebooting my router, but thereafter OS 6 seems much more reluctant to re-establish UMA connectivity than OS 5. More research and fiddling in these areas required.

A new problem introduced by OS 6 really needs fixing soon. If the device is turned 'off' with the red button, when switched on again I'm prompted to select an Orange Plus service - either to make a call (e.g. to my voicemail), or to select an SMS information service. I can of course cancel, but it does this every switch-on, and - more imortantly - it does so before the password prompt. This is a serious security flaw IMHO. This issue doesn't occur during a reboot proper.

Overall performance is good, and the new application manager is very handy for monitoring CPU and memory usage. Just search for 'app man' and you'll see it there, under options. Thus far I've had one post-upgrade incident of the Bold slowing to a crawl: it wasn't going to recover and was hammering the battery. I rebooted via ALT-SHIFT-DEL, and all was well thereafter.

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Last Updated on Monday, 26 November 2012 15:43

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