I can't remember why, but for some reason I wanted to look at my BlackBerry device software version the other day, so I fired up the Options application and started typing 'about' as shown in the following figure. I noticed some interesting things and that prompted me to write this post.
When you first launch the application, it displays a screen similar to the one shown in the following figure. I'm running a BlackBerry Bold 9900 and I absolutely love it. It's small, fast, easy to use and I just have to have a full keyboard – makes me more efficient.
The device is running BlackBerry Device Software 7, which I knew, but you'll notice that it's running Platform version 18.104.22.1680. I've written about this before here, but I had to bring it up again. So many people incorrectly refer to 'BlackBerry OS' when what they really mean is BlackBerry Device Software version. In this case, I'm running BlackBerry Device Software 7, but the OS is actually 5.0. So, people who say BlackBerry OS 7 are referring to an operating system that technically doesn't exist (yet). RIM refers to it as BlackBerry 7 OS which in actuality means the OS running BlackBerry Device Software 7, not version 7 of the BlackBerry OS. Make sense?
When you press any key on the device, the screen will switch to a different screen in the application. This of course makes it hard to switch to a screen capture application and keep the same screen on the display. To take the screen shots within this article, I had to leave the app on the previous screen to the one I wanted to screen capture, use Alt-Escape to switch to the home screen and launch the screen capture utility. The act of switching to another application would cause the About screen to switch so when I came back from launching the screen capture utility, the screen I wanted to capture would be on 'top' of the screen. I think perhaps that RIM needs to fix this, switching applications shouldn't advance the About screen to the next page.
Anyways, the next screen of the application shows the Java license information as shown in Figure 3. This makes sense since the BlackBerry is a Java device. I like Java and one of the few big disappointments in my professional life is that I never got a chance to do a lot of development in Java (before I moved on to more sales or management roles). Oh well.
Next came a screen that surprised me. Take a look at Figure 4, it shows a copyright notice from Nuance, the folks that currently own the rights to Dragon Naturally Speaking software. Now, the BlackBerry has had voice recognition capabilities for a very long time – before Android and definitely before iOS. Apparently Nuance provided the software that provided that capability. What's interesting about this is that Nuance is also the software behind the Siri service included with iOS 5.
It's interesting that the BlackBerry is running the same software (or a version of it of course) that makes Siri so popular. I tried to use Siri on my iPhone 4 yesterday and with every query I made of the application, it executed a completely different task than I asked it to perform. So much for that.
Next came a notice from Qualcomm and WebKit. Qualcomm for some part of the Radio and/or processor chipset and WebKit because the BlackBerry (and every popular smartphone but Windows Phone) uses Apple's WebKit rendering engine to render web pages in the browser.
The next one surprised me, as shown in Figure 6, the BlackBerry device shows a copyright notice from the Android open source project. Now I know that the BlackBerry PlayBook allows a developer to package an Android application so it will run on the PlayBook, I wasn't aware of the same capability being available on BlackBerry devices. Apparently RIM's doing some work in this area (or something else related to Android) so that's why this notice is in the About Application. It will be interesting to see what RIM does with the Android support.