Review: BlackBerry 9670 Style
The 9670 Style is the second handset to ship with BlackBerry OS 6, RIM's newest mobile operating system. Unlike what we saw on the 9800 Torch, however, the Style relies on the trackpad and not a touch screen to interact with the menus. RIM has basically ported all the touch gestures you might think to use on a touch screen to the trackpad. You swipe your thumb up and down the trackpad just as you might with a touch screen to get the menus and applications to respond. Given that most BlackBerries are non-touch, it feels natural and I had no problem transitioning from touch-based BlackBerry 6 to trackpad-based BlackBerry 6. That's no small feat; RIM should be proud.
The biggest changes in BB6 have been applied to the home screen. From top to bottom, the basic home screen has the status bar, the notification bar, main screen/wallpaper, and the app tray with four visible apps.
The notification bar acts similar to the drop-down notification shade in Android. It lets users quickly get a look at all the unread messages they may have received. Perhaps my only complaint about the notification bar is that it is only accessible from the home page. It won't open when using other applications. That seems an odd limitation to me.
The app tray is where users will really be able to customize BlackBerry OS 6 handsets. Rather than a boring grid of apps and folders, the tray offers five different user-configurable home screens / menus. The first (and default) screen lists all the apps. The second lists those used most frequently. The third shows all downloads. The fourth is reserved for media. And the fifth is for user-chosen favorites.
Whether the app tray is closed or open, users can swipe sideways between these five different home screens. When the tray is closed, only the top four apps, widgets or shortcuts are visible on each screen. It's neat that you can slide sideways even with the tray closed to see those other apps. The one problem is that in order to get the trays to swipe left or right, users have to highlight the MENU part of the tray. They won't swipe unless it is highlighted, and it's tricky to highlight.
The Universal Search tool is best used to search for correspondence with a particular contact. It's very useful. If you're not looking for a contact, it will also help find media (pictures, video, music), applications, and other data stored on the phone. If what you're looking for isn't on the phone, it offers web-based tools (YouTube, Google, etc.) to continue searching.
The menu system used to access the Style's settings has also been overhauled in BB6. Rather than a simple (and deadly boring) list, the settings screens have been lumped into fewer groups that are easier to understand. For example, the Display group lets users adjust the date and time, theme, font, back lighting, message coloration, and more. On older software versions, many of those were placed in separate folders, which required further drilling down.