BlackBerry Release OS 5.0 for the Storm on Bell

Just as I was putting my finishing touches on my already overdue Samsung Galaxy review, a little bird told me that Bell and BlackBerry had quietly released the long-awaited OS 5.0 for the BlackBerry Storm 9530. Now other devices also got the 5.0 nod, but since I use a Storm daily for work, this is the one I’ve been waiting for and have been particularly waiting for. I updated to 4.7 a while back and this took care of a few touch screen niggles of including a much easier cursor movement while editing text. You can read more about that here in my last review.  So what is the big about this latest operating system  release? Did they magically turn the BlackBerry into the iPhone killer they were touting it as a few years back? Better yet, have they finally stopped building the platform on Java?

Of course not, don’t be silly. The official release notes which are buried so deep even Cornish miners don’t dare venture further with out a level 71 Darken Iron Dwarf by their sides:

  • Flag for Follow up
  • Mail Folder Management
  • Sticky Dates
  • Auto Correct / Word Completion
  • Main Messages Icon Settings/Dedicated Desktop Messages Icon

Personal Information Management Features – Calendar

  • Viewing Attachments within a Meeting Invite
  • Forwarding Appointments
  • Delegating Appointments

Personal Information Management Features – Contacts

  • Synchronization of Distribution Lists
  • Synchronization of Multiple Contact Folders or Address Books

Multimedia Features

  • Media Folder
  • Volume Overlay
  • Highlight Currently Playing Media
  • Support for Play Button on Bluetooth/A2DP peripherals
  • Media Memory Management
  • Consolidated Send / Share Menu Option
  • Photo Resize when Sending or Sharing
  • Photo Full Screen Preview
  • Support for Auto Focus Modes
  • Improved Picture Library
  • Support for Bluetooth 2.1 and Secure Simple Pairing
  • Support for Metadata via Bluetooth AVRCP

Security Features

  • Improved Security Options Menu
  • Improved Security Wipe Screen
  • Content Protection renamed to Encryption
  • MicroSD Smart Card support
  • Improved Firewall PIN Message Blocking
  • Improved Lock Screen for Emergency Calls

Browser Features

  • Improved Web Page Rendering with AJAX support
  • The following browser standards are now implemented in the BlackBerry Browser using BlackBerry Device Software version 5.0:
    • JavaScript® 1.6
    • CSS 2.1 (including Lists, Box Model, Positioning, Floats, Visual Effects, Tables, Colors, Backgrounds, & Text Properties including system fonts and generated content)
    • CSS 3 (partial support including Namespaces, Selectors, Color, Marquee, and Media Queries)
    • DOM L2 (including Core, HTML, Style, Events)
    • HTML 4.01 (including Forms, Maps, Tables, Frames, Objects)
    • HTML 5.0 parsing and forms
    • XMLHttpRequest
    • SVG Tiny 1.1
    • XML-stylesheet processing instruction
  • Gears Support
    The following Gears

    • Factory
    • Blob
    • Database
    • Desktop
    • Geolocation
    • HttpRequest
    • Timer
    • WorkerPool

Native/Core Application Features

  • Improved Application Listing within Options
  • Application Install Location
  • Applications Memory Management
  • Precision – Today Theme
  • Configure Application Download Folder
  • Native or Device Application Controls
  • Press and Hold Menu Key for Application Switcher and Double-Click Menu Key for Default Action (available since 4.7)

Setup Features

  • Improved Setup Wizard
  • Improved Email Settings
  • KB16382– Setting up filters for an email account
  • KB16384– Deleting an email account
  • KB16383– Resending service books for an email account
  • KB18258– How to create a user name and password for your BlackBerry Internet Service account
  • KB16385– Editing email account settings

Maps Features

  • Improved Search Usability
  • Photo Geotagging Layer within BlackBerry®Maps

Other Features

  • Notification Indicators on Folders
  • Enhanced SMS Interface
  • Boot Progress Indicator
  • Time zone change detection
  • Remote File Exploring
  • Event Sounds
    • Device On (boot up)
    • Device Off (shutdown)
    • USB Cable/Accessory Connected
    • USB Cable/Accessory Disconnected
    • Full Battery Charge
    • Battery Near Depletion

I’ll be the first to admit that these aren’t your usual Apple or MS release notes. It really does look like RIM put some effort into this release to make the OS clearly a better system. Sure some of the features were already present in the 4.7 release from last summer even though they might not all have worked so well.  And some of these features are clearly me too offerings. But the most welcome changes so far are definitely  the Browser and the even tighter integration with your exchange email, calendar and contacts. The other notable feature that I really like so far is the full qwerty keyboard in portrait mode. Suretype has been pretty god to me over the years, been using it since the Pearl, but it truly sucks when typing in French without changing your input location. You might not think that is important, but just try to type any Montreal street name and see what a balls up Suretype makes of it. There is still one small problem with the on screen keyboard which is totally independent of what screen rotation you’re using: the numlock keys should be sticky. When was the last time you only ever used one digit in text? If you hit the numlock key to start entering a phone number or dollar amount, you should have to hit again to have it disabled. Or at the very least allow us to enable or disable this via a setting. Something I have been unable to find in the options>screen & keyboard section. Generally speaking though the keyboard actually does feel more responsive and the editing cursor is easier to drag into place, selecting text to copy is a little smoother for anyone who had previously been using the 4.7.x Storm release. For those of you that never bothered to update your device, these little updated in the UI will make the device feel like a brand new BlackBerry.

So far in my day-to-day use, the Storm has felt a lot faster when switching apps and pulling up menus. The Google Apps are now blazing fast and the GMail app is almost as quick as in the built-in push email. Text messaging is a lot slicker with the new speech bubble presentation even though that screen does seem to fritz out Windows XP style under fast scrolling as shown here.   You still tend to have to wait for certain apps but this is mainly due to the EVDO Network being a little slow in the new HSPA+ era. I have absolutely no proof to back up my claim that certain Carriers from Hell have crippled their EVDO networks to speed up HSPA+ adoption apart from a few weeks of simultaneous usage of a device on each. But as I’m not engineer, my test based on overusing Twitter and Foursquare should really not be taken as scientific fact.

In conclusion, you should definitely upgrade to this OS 5.0 FREE update unless you’ve dropped your BlackBerry Storm down the concrete steps of your local train station one too many times, or have already sold your soul to the Cylons and jumped on the Android / Nexus ONE bandwagon.  The changes and new features are pretty solid and this will allow you to ride out your contract a little longer putting you in a better position to either jump on the new entrants offerings or find out what Apple are going to release in the OS 4.0 version of the  Apple iPhone.

Official Download From BlackBerry (You will have to select your device from the list)


  1. I love the browser features, it really makes you want to give up your WAP browser phone for a smart phone.

    But I don't get what all the hate on Java is?!? We can't all be Nokia and buy QT, some people need to rely on existing standards.

  2. Heh, as much as you love it, the BB browser still feels like Pocket IE and if you've ever used that.. well let's just say you should know it's not a compliment.

    Also, WAP browser ?! Those 2 words should not be used together in the same sentence as it sort of implies some kind of web browsing experience which it clearly isn't. I suggest: WAP Gopher. Yeah, that's more like it.

    Until BB brings out that rumoured WebKIT browser, it will continue to still be a sub par smart phone when compared with Android phones or the iPhone itself.


  3. WAP sites simply suck and no developer ever wants to build another one ever again. EVAAAARR! (speaking personally of behalf of Web Developers everywhere)

    The “HATE” on Java is simply down to the fact that building your operating system on it is a very slow and very old way of doing things in an a hyperactive market like mobility. Last summer, Boy Genius Report referred to it as “an incredibly miserable Java OS with so much security and encryption and smoke-blowing APIs” .. “Their OS architecture is fantastic, their use of security is what makes them so trustworthy. But, as each handset release comes closer and closer, people start to see the bigger picture. And that’s the fact that RIM’s OS is more than antiquated, it’s borderline laughable.”

    It's not only about being able to run Flash or QT, it's about making sure your OS meets existing customer demands. A WebKit browser will be nice , but only if it meets HTML5 or at the very least HTML4.01 standards. Stripping out core functionality like AJAX, CSS and XML support doesn't make it standards compliant. There is a YouTube app for the BlackBerry and it's using the same 3gs video codex standards that most phones do including the iPhone and 1.5 Androids, which means only a small portion of all the YouTube videos are available but it's entirely up to YouTube to respond to customer demand for those devices. In the case of the iPhone it was a obvious requirement to it's user to see skateboarding dogs and idiots getting kicked in the nuts. This forced Google's hand and became part of the original iPhone applications. To this day I'm not sure I've ever heard of RIM leaning on any content provider or application developer for application. They've pretty much sat back and waited for devs to jump aboard. They did make a plea last year by offering cash incentives, but after the initial headline, I never heard anything again.

    The BB Storm does most things I need it do while I'm on the move. The exchange email support through the BES is by far the best in the industry, and I have tried a lot of other solutions. However the issue is that all of the apps I enjoy using right now might not even be around if RIM keeps loosing developers to platforms like Android and the iPhone's version of OS X. I recently got wind that a social networking start up had it's Android app donated by helpful volunteers, but have had to hire a full time BlackBerry developer to roll a much needed BlackBerry app. Stories like this prove just what a pain in the ass it can be to support the BB users.

  4. So all those other consumer devices that embed Java (like blue-ray players) are you hating on them too? What language would you have manufacturers use for development?

    The Java install base is huge. The community is very active. There's strong corporate support. There's no international standards org that can be lobbied by Microsoft into perverting Java for their own use (MOF a US judge flat-out told MS to layoff the Java perversions). And there's so thing as a malloc() function!!!

    Btw, QT in this context refers to Trolltech's (now Nokia's) cross-platform C toolkit. If you've used KDE you've seen QT in action.

  5. I had forgotten about gopher until just now. Yeah, I guess WAP is more like gopher than a browser. But it gets the job done. Foursquare and GMail both have great WAP sites. So does the weather office and my banks.

  6. Playing Blu-Ray discs and running multitasking app on as well as the OS of my handheld computer/phone are NOT the same task. There is a place for everything and every language, even your beloved Google knows this. Java OS is slow, antiquated and sucks! The Java install base might be huge, doesn't mean it's the best solution for everything. I have the same complaint with Windows Mobile and CE embedded, it's old and should be shelved or re-written. Something something about the Rolling Stones not sleeping with Kate Moss.

    And don't start me on Nokia, between QT, Symbian and Maemo they can't even agree on a common system for own devices. (N97 = Symbian // N900 = Maemo). Honestly they should just pick one solution instead of promising to release and participate in further Symbian version. Anybody who used a PSion in the 90's will admit it was cool in 1997. Are you still using Windows 95? Of course not. Technology moves on. How many accounting packages are still being written in COBOL? Exactly SQL and Oracle database are the way to go, we moved on, so should the mobile phone makers.

    At the very least, RIM is only pushing out one OS. That should make it a lot easier for them to move onto a BSD / *Nix platform or risk being left behind like Palm, WinMo, and even your chavvy Nokia.

  7. Is your WAP browser mutlitab? Do you have to log in every single time you access the site? How about using off line? There are very good arguments for having actual task specific apps.

  8. Multi-tab: yes

    Log in every time: no (persistent cookies are supported)

    Off line: I don't think so, but besides Bell's inability to provide a consistent coverage in a major city my browser/phone is always online!

  9. So you never fly or will never go back to your cottage?

    Also have you sent your email to Palm, Apple, HTC, Nokia, Google and RIM yet? Telling them to stop all this silly smartphone development because your WAP phone is just simply good enough.

  10. Apple is not leading the pack because of their OS! Just look at the controversy surrounding the initially limited API and the on-going issues around multi-tasking! Apple is in the lead because they are good at creating demand and selling devices. Yes their stuff is cool, but they haven't done anything that hasn't been done before – except sell massive amounts of it!!!

    Palm's feeble attempts to sell Pre's with those alien chick ads (don't tell me she's human, she looks bizarre) ads aren't going to go anywhere. Palm's dead. Sorry. Too little, too late. They should just adopt Android and concentrate on devices, if anything at all.

    Microsoft, they're just coasting until they can strong-arm device manufacturers into exclusivity deals and force everyone else out of business or into niches. Our only hope is the light gleaming off Balmer's bald head will ruin the Power Point presentation and no one will give in.

    Nokia, they don't give a shit about North America. As long as they're dominant in the rest of the world who cares about us, Canada + USA < .5 G people!!!

    Brew MP – as long as Obama is footing the bill to keep people working I guess it'll live on. As soon as it has to show a profit say bye-bye.

    Bada – WTF?! Same goes for Maemo. And Access OS. I wish these companies would quit dicking around and get behind one FOSS mobile OS (Android?) and make it kick ass!!! At least Intel got smart and dropped Moblin onto the “community” before it became a boat anchor for them. They should have gotten on the Android wagon though (or Google on the Moblin wagon if you prefer).

    PS: Google uses Java as much as Python and more then anything else. GWT is written in Java for Java!!! App Engine supports Python and Java (actually, it supports Java byte-code, so any language compiler that produces java byte-code is supported by Google's app engine).

  11. My WAP browser is good enough for me. So I voted with my wallet.

    When I fly, to avoid being mistaken as a terrorist I only wear a thin clear plastic sheet (to avoid catching the H1N1) and check everything else.

    As for the cottage, I think I’ll survive without a WAP browser for a few days – unless it repels mosquitos!!!