The evolution of the smartphone market pushes tech firms to invent novel yet compatible devices that combines the best of their fields to win the competition. Having handy technology can only go so far, since the user needs to understand how to work it to their advantage. Here, we learn about how BlackBerry maximizes the Android-powered BlackBerry Priv to bring out the best of Google’s highly customizable software against their security expertise.
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WORKING SMART AND PLAYING HARD WITH PRIV
The latest BlackBerry smartphone uses an Android 5.1 (Lollipop) OS instead of their proprietary software and app store. This was a generally seen as a welcome yet problematic change to BlackBerry’s mobile lineup, going by how the OS is now something more accessible with a thriving app ecosystem, juxtaposed against the lowered sense of security which was also BlackBerry’s biggest selling factor. Anticipating this line of thought, the company and its phone makers implemented a few key features from their original BB10 OS to showcase their capabilities, manage the public’s expectations, as well as to adhere to their mantra of security above everything else. Without further ado, we look at some BlackBerry features that’s made better with Android OS.
DTEK BY BLACKBERRY
With Android 5.1 OS as its base, BlackBerry creates a clever security workaround for its Priv. DTEK (pronounced “detect”) is a monitoring app that gives you the tracking capabilities without meddling with the default permission settings on your Android smartphone. The app simply notifies the user whenever other specific apps or games access a particular item, or feature. It goes further by keeping a simple log of each app, followed by a list that indicates the duration and number of times a particular app used your camera, contacts, location, microphone, text message, or video functions.
On the user’s end, all they need is a little vigilance and some common sense – if you see DTEK saying that flashlight app accessing your photos or text messages without your explicit permission, you’d know something is off, and you’d be able to hit your settings to alter or remove the intrusive app.
While this requires little to no action on your part, it’s still important to know what other steps BlackBerry has taken in order to keep your Android-based Priv secure.
First off, Priv has something called Hardware Root of Trust –a unique manufacturing process that injects cryptographic keys into the device hardware, providing a secure foundation for the entire Android platform. Following that is a Verified Boot and Secure Bootchain, which uses the embedded keys to verify every layer of the device from hardware to Android OS to applications in order to make sure they haven’t been tampered with. Wrapping it is a full-disk encryption.
Wait, if all this is possible, why didn’t Google include encryption prior to BlackBerry’s solution?
Dave Kleidermacher, BlackBerry’s chief security officer, explained in a Venturebeat article about BlackBerry’s under-the-hood security and why it offers a little more than what Android OS could. We paraphrase what he said that gets the essence of BlackBerry’s superiority in security and why it’s possible with the Priv.
“The algorithm for measuring authenticity, for example, you don’t want to run on (older) Android OSes. Google, really from Lollipop, started to maximally leverage what they call the trust-execution environment…it’s a trusted area to run and store critical things like encryption keys, so that they are better protected than if, say, they were stored on the Android file system. Being able to do that was made easier.”
It sounds like marketing speak, but it saying that their own security measures are better and deeper than what tech-giant Google offered (until Lollipop came along) on-record is a good indicator of the work poured into securing the Priv for user privacy.
What’s the use security without the convenience of getting information at a drop of a hat? That’s where the Android customization helps. The Priv took some of its BB10 OS ingenuity for managing a user’s work schedule, and evolved it into something
The curved glass is customizable, allowing access to chosen apps when the phone is locked.
a little more accessible for users familiar with Android. Customizable
BlackBerry Pop-up Widgets display in-app information from an app on your
home screen, after you swipe up (or down or across) the icon. This way,
you still have the same previewing convenience without the likelihood
of showing sensitive information to wandering eyes. Swiping up from the
bottom edge of the screen will allow you to quickly open BlackBerry Hub,
Device Search, or Google Now. The cherry on top of the swiping cake
would be the curved glass on the side of the Priv, where you can
customize the shortcuts to bring you information or notifications, even
when the phone is at rest.
BLACKBERRY HUB AND INTELLIGENT CALENDAR
Not forgetting the mainstay of BlackBerry, Priv users can enjoy BB10’s BlackBerry Hub and Intelligent Calendar too. BlackBerry Hub compiles all your messaging-related apps into one scrolling list, so that you don’t have
Plan ahead and invite the right people at a glance, with the Intelligent Calendar that organises your schedule.
BlackBerry Hub is also available here, so messages from numerous different apps are all in one accessible place.
to hop in to multiple platforms just to suss out one important bit of
information across all your sources. Emails, calls, text messages, and
social media posts are all in on the Hub. Intelligent Calendar does the
same compilation tricks across different calendar types, all while
integrating functions such as Join Now buttons for conference calls,
highlighting conflicting meetings, and even suggesting who to invite
based on existing events. Our favorite is the ability to send an
automated “I’m running late” message from the Intelligent Calendar