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RIM To Sprinkle Android Mojo Into BlackBerry 10

New version of RIM's contact management application in BlackBerry 10 will take a page from Google's Android platform.
Samsung's Android Super Smartphone: Galaxy SIII
Samsung's Android Super Smartphone: Galaxy SIII
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One of the features Research In Motion plans to add to its BlackBerry 10 platform is the ability to pull social networking and other data about individual contacts and merge all that information in a single spot.

Contacts in BlackBerry 10 will show not only the individual's phone number and email address, but also will reveal their latest tweets, Facebook status updates, and other details culled from their online lives. It also will include enterprise-specific information, such as future meetings scheduled with that particular contact. The idea is to provide a richer experience for BlackBerry users.

"BlackBerry has always had this heritage of productivity," said T.A. McCann to Reuters. McCann is in charge of developing the contact manager application and Blackberry Messenger (BBM) in the new platform. "We are just going to make it better yet again, when we launch BB10."

If these features sound vaguely familiar to you, it's because they first debuted on the Motorola Droid back in 2009. Android 2.0 added the ability to see contact details from social networks years ago. Android has expanded this feature over time.

[ Before RIM can win over consumers, it has to convince carriers to buy the BB10: RIM Shops First BlackBerry 10s To Carriers. ]

Windows Phone delivers a similar experience in the People Hub. When you open a contact card in Windows Phone, not only do you see the person's contact details, but their most recent photos and Facebook posts. Windows Phone 7 debuted in October 2010 and Windows Phone 8 is expected to arrive in the coming weeks with improvements to this and other features.

RIM clearly is looking to its competitors for inspiration. It causes one to wonder where else RIM is seeking inspiration. What features will RIM borrow from Android, iOS, and Windows Phone? Are there any in particular you'd like to see? Of course, RIM has to do a lot more than simply borrow the best features from its competitors. It has to improve upon them and innovate on its own.

As with many things, implementation will be key. If new features such as this are slow or clunky to use, the whole idea could be worthless. Perhaps we need look only at the work RIM has done with BlackBerry Messenger over the course of the last year or so to see where RIM might be headed with other aspects of BB10.

For example, RIM introduced the idea of "BBM-Connected Apps." These applications allow BlackBerry device users to fire off BBMs without requiring them to exit the app and open the actual BBM app. Connecting more pieces of the platform in a way that's intuitive to the user and useful at the same time could go a long way to help making BB10 successful.

The new platform software and smartphones are due in early 2013.

Editor's Choice
Sara Peters, Editor-in-Chief, InformationWeek / Network Computing
Pam Baker, Contributing Writer
James M. Connolly, Contributing Editor and Writer
Sara Peters, Editor-in-Chief, InformationWeek / Network Computing
Greg Douglass, Global Lead for Technology Strategy & Advisory, Accenture
Carrie Pallardy, Contributing Reporter