Today BlackBerry launched the latest weapon in its long-term comeback plan: the cross-platform business app Blend. As its name implies, Blend allows BlackBerry users to access their messages and content on a range of tablet and PC screens while still under the protection of BlackBerry's secure network. In other words, it hopes to render "device-hopping" a thing of the past.
Blend is an attempt to streamline the productivity of BlackBerry users who regularly use their phone and primary work device at the same time. It essentially eliminates the need to hop between different devices: instead, everything appears in an integrated mobile network hub on whatever screen you're using.
The service allows users to receive instant notifications, access documents/calendars/contacts/media and respond to messages in real-time on a PC or tablet; be it Android, Windows, iOS or Mac. Users can merge all work meetings, personal appointments and events into a unified calender and quickly transfer files across different devices.
Speaking at the official launch event in London, BlackBerry's director of software products Michael Clewley said that the Blend service will allow professionals to use whatever device and whatever OS they want without being locked into an ecosystem.
"With Blend, you get the most critical information in real time from whatever device you're on. [It] lets you securely access your work email and work files without the need for VPN."
Crucially, the service remains powered by the user's phone through the BlackBerry network which means all work data remains secure. IT admins can also set parameters for each user to match the company's security guidelines.
Blend users can also remotely access their phones whenever it's connected to a cellular or Wi-Fi network: handy if you accidentally left it at home.
During the product's media briefing, Clewley demoed a few scenarios that would benefit from Blend. For example, if your boss sends you a BBM requesting the presentation you've been working on, Blend allows you to reply and send the attachment on your laptop using the dashboard's drag-and-drop interface.
BlackBerry Blend will initially be available on the newly-announced BlackBerry Passport and the Porsche Design P’9983. It will work across a range of operating systems, including Mac OS X 10.7 and up, iPad tablets running iOS 7 and up, Windows 7 and up and Android tablets running Android 4.4 and up.
Disclosure: Chris Jager attended Blackberry’s press event in London as a guest of the company.