At one point everyone assumed the salvation for BlackBerry would be its take on the Android operating system. The BlackBerry Priv promised to bring the full BlackBerry experience to the Android platform by circumventing the need for the BlackBerry device.
The Priv has not gained much traction, yet BlackBerry continues chugging on...this time in the form of an Android app called BlackBerry Hub.
What is BlackBerry Hub?
BlackBerry Hub is a universal inbox for email, SMS, and social networking that, surprisingly, is quite good.
I was fully prepared to install and hate this last-gasp attempt by BlackBerry. Why? Few third-party email applications perform as well as Gmail or Inbox; BlackBerry Hub might be one of the exceptions.
The feature list includes goodies like:
- Manage multiple email accounts without switching apps
- Supports Gmail, Yahoo!, Outlook.com, Microsoft Exchange accounts, and IMAP/POP3 email providers
- Conversational View
- One swipe snooze so you can view a message at a later date, time, or location
- Select recipients for email messages using suggested contacts
- Compose email messages and social posts or respond directly to messages and calendar invitations
- Create Custom Views to organize your messages how you want them
- Supports Android for Work deployment
I'll walk through the installation of BlackBerry Hub and then add an account so you can see how to start enjoying this well thought-out communication hub.
SEE: BlackBerry: The state of the turnaround (Tech Pro Research)
Installing BlackBerry Hub
There are two pieces that must be installed for the BlackBerry Hub. First, you must install BlackBerry Hub+ Services (this is the background service that allows Hub to work).
- Open the Google Play Store on your Android device.
- Search for blackberry hub.
- Locate and tap the entry for BlackBerry Hub+ Services, by BlackBerry Limited.
- Tap Install.
- Allow the installation to complete.
After the BlackBerry Hub+ Services installation is complete, repeat the above process for the BlackBerry Hub app, and you're ready to go.
Once everything is installed, open the BlackBerry Hub app and go through the process of granting permissions. You'll first have to grant permission for the BlackBerry Hub+ Services permissions. When prompted, tap GRANT PERMISSIONS, and then tap through the various permissions necessary to use the app (Figure A).
Granting permissions for the BlackBerry Hub on a OnePlus 3.
After you grant permissions for the Hub+ Services, you'll have to grant permissions for the BlackBerry Hub app. Repeat the process (tapping through the various permissions) until you're on the account setup page (Figure B).
Setting up your first account for the BlackBerry Hub app.
To set up a Gmail account, tap the Gmail address (that Hub will autofill based on the primary account for your Android device). Then walk through the standard Google account signin by entering your account password and then two-step authentication code (which you should be using).
After you've authenticated, you'll be presented with the Account Options screen (Figure C). Tap Next and then, when prompted, give the account a name and tap DONE. You're ready to go.
The final account setup steps.
You can have multiple accounts configured in BlackBerry Hub. If you already have the Facebook app installed and you've logged into the app, BlackBerry Hub+ Services will automatically connect, so you don't have to go through the steps of adding your account. The service will automatically pick up your SMS phone number, so there's no additional steps there. If, however, you want to add more than one email account, here's what you do.
- Open BlackBerry Hub.
- Swipe right from the left edge of the screen.
- From the sidebar (Figure D), tap Add Account.
- Enter the email address for the new account.
- Tap either NEXT or MANUAL SETUP. (If you're setting up either an IMAP or POP3 account, you may have to set up the account manually, in which case you'll need the address of the mail server—incoming and outgoing—and the port used.)
- Complete the email setup wizard.
The Hub sidebar in action.
You now have multiple accounts set up for use within the BlackBerry Hub. Getting up to speed with the app requires little to no learning curve.
Getting to your "calendar"
If you have an account set up that has an associated calendar such as Google or Exchange, BlackBerry Hub allows you to see your next four calendar appointments. Here's how to view the appointments: In the account that includes a calendar, swipe downward on the inbox screen, and those dates will be revealed (Figure E).
Tap one of your calendar entries to view the details.
A lot to like
I am pleasantly surprised by how much I like BlackBerry Hub. It's incredibly simple to use, and it goes a very long way to bring all of your communications together under one roof.
BlackBerry has created an email app that might win over plenty of users. Give BlackBerry Hub a try, and tell us what you think about it.
- BlackBerry makes its Hub software available on Android devices (ZDNet)
- Pentagon gives green light for BlackBerry's BES 12 (ZDNet)
- Can IoT and connected cars save a failing BlackBerry? (TechRepublic)
- The BlackBerry platform's slow fade to black (TechRepublic)
- Writing may be on the phone for Blackberry (CBS News)
Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.