Hands on: OS 5.0 on the Bold

Way back in September we gave the world its first glimpse at the upcoming BlackBerry OS 5.0 running on a Curve 8310, but since that time RIM has continued to keep mum on the subject so we thought that we’d conduct a brief overview of BlackBerry OS 5.0 running on a Bold. So hit the jump and get your OS 5.0 freak on.

If you’re looking for a revolution with this one, we’re afraid that we’re going to have to quash your dreams right now as OS 5.0 is anything but. In fact, the easiest way to describe OS 5.0 is to say that it’s pretty much what you would get if you were to combine the Bold’s OS with that of the Storm. The OS still retains that slick Bold Precision Zen theme, but it has a lot of styling cue’s from the Storm, especially when it comes to drop-down menu options. Despite all of this, we have to say right here and now that we were extremely impressed with how quick and responsive the build that is the focus of today’s sneak-peek really is despite it being a beta that will likely never find its way to the masses. To be completely honest, it totally blew our collective favorite OS 4.6 build for the Bold away in terms of speed. No, it wasn’t without its quirks, but that’s not what we are here to focus on today.

The first notable change takes place on the home screen and has to do with the way that profiles are set, changed and created. Sadly it seems that pressing “F” no longer brings up the profile menu (assuming that Dial From Home Screen is set to “No”), so one has to scroll up on the trackball to select the Profile icon and then click on it. There are now three new options in the pop-up profile menu itself, which allows one to either set ringtones/alerts, set contact alerts or edit profiles. This differs from OS 4.6 in that these three options replaced Advanced making it much simpler to get where one wants to go quickly.

With respect to editing sound profiles themselves, the entire menu system has been reworked to appear as it does on the Storm with collapsible menus. When editing the ring tones themselves, gone are the days of off, mute, low, medium and loud as they have been replaced with a volume scale ranging from silent to 10.

In regards to vibration, one can customize the each alert as they see fit by selecting not only the vibration count (1, 2, 3, 5, 10) but also the vibration length (short, medium, long) as well. We suppose this is a nice added feature but not too many people are going to get all that crazy with it, we imagine.

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Moving on to BlackBerry Messenger, possibly the single greatest thing that the BlackBerry has going for it (it’s so true), nothing groundbreaking has been added and nothing has been taken away, but the entire app has a much more polished look to it.

The actual conversation window is now more stylized and features a graphic for emoticons that can be selected by scrolling to the right of the text entry box. We have to be honest when we say we’re not too sure why this is the case considering that pretty much everyone familiar with BBM lives and dies by pressing the symbol key and hitting a key that corresponds to each individual emoticon, but we guess that with so many people joining the BlackBerry user-base each day RIM wants to make things a bit easier. That, and we have to admit that the new method is a hell of a lot more eye catching.

Let’s face it — if RIM really wants to win over a bunch of consumers in one fell swoop, it has to fix the browser because it just isn’t happening. Regrettably, apart from some stylization and the ability to move around a page while its loading without temporarily freezing the device, it doesn’t seem that the browser functions any differently from what the Bold is currently capable of doing with OS 4.6. Granted we are running a beta version of OS 5.0 and things will be improved when this software is officially launched (so we hope, anyway). We experienced major errors that prohibited the loading of many websites we attempted to visit, but when we did get through we couldn’t help but notice that the browser still isn’t anywhere near where we would like it to be.

Some might be pleased to know that support for Google Gears has been added, but we don’t think that really matters until the browser is a little more… capable.

Seeing as we just mentioned consumers want for robust mobile browsers, it’s fitting that we check in and see what’s up with the Media app. Truth be told, nothing is really new here. The only change that most people will notice moving from OS 4.6 to OS 5.0 is, again, a slight styling change and the awesome new look at the status of media card memory (if applicable), system memory and device memory. It’s pretty neat how it categorizes file types and lists their collective sizes, but at this point the feature is not accurate as it does not account for the space used up by the OS itself. It also seemed to grossly miscalculate the amount of files on our devices. Oh, we almost forgot… When viewing pictures one can finally cycle through photos by scrolling left to right, putting this N and P nonsense to an end at last.

Speaking of files, Files still appears to be the only new app included with OS 5.0 and it looks like it will add network share access to BES users, something that we at BGR are quite excited about.

Well, that does it for our brief summary of OS 5.0 for the BlackBerry Bold. We hope you enjoyed it and are all fired up for it to become official next month at WES 2009. By then, of course, we hope a few surprises are thrown in and for the sake of BlackBerry users’ sanity, we really hope the browser is beefed up. Please.

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