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The Blackberry 10 operating system has been updated to include a ‘photo password’ mechanism, as well as stronger message filtering capabilities.
The 10.2.1 update, which is available on Blackberry Z10, Z30, Q5 and Q10 smartphones, now allows users to unlock their phone by matching a selected picture to a numerical grid. Having chosen a picture, the user will be prompted to mark a certain spot with a single digit number of their choice. When it comes to unlock the phone, the picture will appear, overlaid with a 0-9 numerical grid. The phone will be unlocked by dragging the correct number from the grid to the correct point on the photograph.
ESET researcher Cameron Camp said that the introduction of picture passwords was a welcome step, particularly if it proves easier to implement than PIN codes: “Anything to simplify security is a step in the right direction, even on the security-minded Blackberry OS. If people are comfortable and enjoy the experience, and it doesn’t slow down the workflow, the feature could speed adoption because it would be easier to become more secure.”
Blackberry Enterprise corporate users also benefit from security upgrades. BES10, which is designed to be a management system for multiple devices, now allows Android and iOS devices to work in BYOD mode under its protection, with support for iOS7 and Android 4.3. Employees with corporate handsets can now run Blackberry Balance which allows for corporate security and personal space – both of which are ultimately administrator-controlled.
The update also makes some sweeping changes to Blackberry’s operating system, enabling it to run Android apps in full. Previously, some Android apps could be tweaked for Blackberry compatibility, but many developers didn’t go to the effort.
Other features added in Blackberry 10.2.1 include an offline reading mode for the browser, and a message filtering system that can be set to only show types of messages, for example meeting invites. Future OS updates can be set to take place automatically over WiFi.
The update to Blackberry’s OS comes a few days after it was reported that Samsung’s forthcoming Galaxy S5 would feature a fingerprint scanner, similar to the ones found on the iPhone 5S and HTC One Max. Earlier reports had indicated that Samsung might pursue iris-scanning technology, according to CNET.
Author Alan Martin, ESET