Hub+ puts the best of BlackBerry on your Android phone … for a price

1128792 autosave v1 2 blackberry4
Turns out you don’t need a BlackBerry phone to experience some of the best the eponymous smartphone maker has to offer. On Wednesday, the Waterloo, Canada-based firm announced BlackBerry Hub+, a premium suite of the company’s mobile software. It’s compatible with phones running Android 6.0 Marshmallow and above, and available on the Play Store.

BlackBerry’s Hub app, for those unaware, is a sort of unified interface for emails, instant messages, calendar and task reminders, and call notifications. It collates messages from Gmail, Yahoo, and in a single inbox, providing an at-a-glance view of all your messages, folders, and contacts. And on the social side of things, it funnels content from Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram into a threaded “Conversation View.”

But BlackBerry Hub+ includes more than just the Hub. It’s a service that comprises BlackBerry’s Password Keeper, Calendar, Notes, Tasks, and Device Search, and other apps previously exclusive to BlackBerry’s own Priv and DTEK50 Android devices, but not for free. Hub+ has a 30-day trial, after which ads will begin appearing in the Hub, Calendar, and Password Keeper apps. You’ll lose access to Contacts, Tasks, Device Search, Notes, and Launcher, too, if you opt not to pony up — a paid subscription runs $0.99 per month.


Here’s what’s included in addition to Hub:

  • The BlackBerry Launcher features Pop-Up Widgets: you can view any app’s home screen widgets by swiping down on its icon. It sports shortcuts to email and your phone’s dialer, too, and keyboard shortcuts that can be assigned to tasks and apps — tapping B launches the browser by default, for instance.
  • The Calendar app’s headlining feature is integration with the Hub. You can create meetings from invitations and public calendars, for instance, plus comment on invites and quickly add additional participants. The app’s otherwise fully featured: you can filter meetings by location, notes, and subject, see any potential conflicts when you respond to an invitation, and, perhaps coolest of all, set your mobile to automatically switch to vibrate when a meeting is in progress.
  • The Notes app lets you search across your jotted reminders and sync them to a Microsoft Exchange account.
  • The Contacts app can perform people searches across your signed-in email accounts; shows a list of contacts to whom you’ve recently reached out; and surfaces search results for nearby businesses and locations.
  • BlackBerry Tasks lets you set due dates and reminders, notifies you of upcoming tasks, and, like Notes, can mirror all that content to a Microsoft Exchange account.
  • Password Keeper stores your passwords in a “secure location,” plus randomly generates new ones and grades your existing passcodes on a scale of “strength.”
  • Device Search, as the name implies, parses your calendar, contacts, and BlackBerry Hub contact for whatever — or whomever — you wish to find at a given moment.

BlackBerry said the new mobile offering is the first public one from its Mobility Solutions Group, a division which primarily specializes in custom software for corporate clients. It’ll continue to perform that function — indeed, it inked a deal with Sprint last year — but will, starting with Hub+, devote increasing resources the development of consumer apps and services. It’s a lucrative market — BlackBerry said its software business generates more than $500 million a year — and “fulfills our million to make the fruits of decades of R&D and software development as widely available to users of other devices and other platforms as possible,” BlackBerry said.

Hub+ is the embattled BlackBerry’s most recent attempt at tapping new revenue. Sales of the Priv, its first Android handset, largely disappointed in the first quarter of this year, and the company’s device efforts overall cost it $21 million last fiscal quarter. It’s attempting to kick-start growth with the new DTEK50, an affordable smartphone that the company calls the “world’s most secure,” but BlackBerry chief John Chen put the company’s break-even point at a lofty 3 million units (the company sold 500,000 Privs in the Q1 2016). Breaking out its software seems like a logical insurance policy, but one of questionable impact — time will tell if BlackBerry’s brand can generate the same level of enthusiasm in software it once did in hardware.


Lack of regulation means wearables aren’t held accountable for health claims

As fitness trackers become more like health monitors, some physicians are concerned they can lead to over-diagnosis of non-existent problems. It’s already happening with wearable baby monitors.

Keep your laptop battery in tip-top condition with these handy tips

Learn how to care for your laptop's battery, how it works, and what you can do to make sure yours last for years and retains its charge. Check out our handy guide for valuable tips, no matter what type of laptop you have.

Android vs. iOS: Which smartphone platform is the best?

If you’re trying to choose a new phone and you’re not sure about the merits and pitfalls of the leading smartphone operating systems, then come on in for a detailed breakdown as we pit Android vs. iOS in various categories.

Our favorite Windows apps will help you get the most out of your new PC

Not sure what apps you should be downloading for your newfangled Windows device? Here are the best Windows apps, whether you need something to speed up your machine or access your Netflix queue. Check out our categories and favorite picks.

Is your PC slow? Here's how to restore Windows 10 to factory settings

Computers rarely work as well after they accumulate files and misconfigure settings. Thankfully, with this guide, you'll be able to restore your PC to its original state by learning how to factory reset Windows.

Here’s how to download podcasts and listen to them on Android or iOS

Podcasts have become a cultural staple. Here's how to download podcasts and listen to them on your Android or iOS device, and which apps to use if you're looking to get the most out of the format.

Razer’s Wireless Charger will turn your desk into gamer heaven

The Razer Wireless Charger adds colorful flair to your desk or bedside table. It works with any phone that supports Qi wireless charging -- with some quirks -- but is it worth the high price tag? We take a look.

Apple banned from distributing some iPhone models in Germany

Apple is following the FTC's lead and has sued Qualcomm for a massive $1 billion in the U.S., $145 million in China, and also in the U.K., claiming the company charged onerous royalties for its patented tech.

Windows 10 Mobile is dead: Switch to iOS or Android, Microsoft says

A Microsoft support page detailed the company's plans to end support for Windows 10 Mobile in less than a year. Users with devices powered by the platform are suggested to switch to iOS or Android devices.

How to use iOS 12’s Passwords and Accounts tool to autofill passwords

Keeping track of all your passwords and accounts can be a real chore. If you use an iPhone with iOS 12, then you don't have to. Here's how to use iOS 12's own password manager to autofill passwords.

What is fixed wireless 5G? Here’s everything you need to know

Here's fixed wireless 5G explained! Learn what you need to know about this effective new wireless technology, when it's available, how much it costs, and more. If you're thinking about 5G, this guide can help!

Xbox app lets you access your console while away from home. Here's how

Microsoft's Xbox allows you to access your profile information and launch media content directly from your mobile device. Check out our quick guide on how to connect your smartphone to an Xbox One.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: camera with A.I. director, robot arm assistant

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!

The best Apple Watch bands and straps to stylize your timepiece

If you have an Apple Watch, you know how easy it is to take off the strap it came with, so why not buy yourself another one? Here, we've gathered the best Apple Watch bands we've seen so far. There's something for everyone.