On the 24th of September, BlackBerry launched their new flagship device – the BlackBerry Passport (read my hands on review). While all attention was given to the device itself only a small mention was give to a pretty significant software – BlackBerry Blend.
In a nut shell, BlackBerry Blend allows for the BlackBerry device to be connected securely to a PC or to a MAC or to an Android or Android tablet. Once the software is running on your device of choice, Blend allows for the user to interact with their BlackBerry phone as if they are using the device itself.
Here is a quick overview of BlackBerry Blend:
So what does this all mean ?
BlackBerry Blends essentially creates a secure connection between your BlackBerry phone and your PC/ MAC/ Tablet. This connection is either done via a physical cable or via WiFi or even via the Internet. Therefore, you could access your BlackBerry phone regardless of where the phone is actually located in the world.
Why is this significant ?
BlackBerry has around 33,000 commercial and test servers of BES10 installed to date which has the capabilities for organizations to manage all devices across other platforms, including iOS and Android. BlackBerry is the only company that can support this full range of organizations’ mobility management requirements. There are more than 2,600 enterprises comprising 1.2 million workers that are trying this multi-platform, secure EMM platform, BES10 allowing BlackBerry to compete head to head with other Mobile Device Management (MDM) platforms such as Good Technology and Mobile Iron.
Remembering that the BlackBerry Passport is aimed at the Enterprise market. The Enterprise are security conscious and enabling the mobile workforce comes with a heavy price of having to manage various mobile devices. Security needs to be controlled to prevent company information from leaking out of the company. Providing mobility but still being secure is a balancing act that IT departments have to deal with – cant make the system so secure that its impossible for the user to use and cant make the system so open that any device can connect to it.
This is where BlackBerry Blend will make a big difference to both the headaches of IT departments and solve mobility for the users.
Here is why: Blend works for the corporate user in two ways. 1) It allows Corporate mail & Calendar to be used on non-work computer and/or 2) allows for Private mail & Calendar to be used on a Corporate computer.
1. Corporate Mail on Private Computer
Corporates have strict IT policies that don’t allow just any device to connect to the corporate network. Corporates have invested time and money and infrastructure to set up BlackBerry Enterprise Server which allow their users to have secure remote access to the company’s mail. This is done via the BlackBerry phone itself allowing for remote working.
What BlackBerry Blend has done is marry the convenience of any PC or Tablet with the security of the BlackBerry Passport. In other words, corporate users can now use their own home PC or their kids tablet to remotely access the company’s mail and intranet without breaching company IT policy and without leaving a trace of information behind on the host machine.
Blend takes care of the complicated security work of VPN tunnelling and essentially becomes the gateway device. Once the security has been established copying files and working on company documents can be done with the convenience of a keyboard and mouse on the computer. Emails can sent directly off the device, including attaching of files, all via Blend.
2. Private Mail on Corporate Computer
Corporates have strict IT policies that don’t allow personal emails to be downloaded to the work computer. This comes with the risk of viruses and the leak of corporate information via the personal email account that the business does not manage. With Blend, a corporate user can connect their work computer or work tablet to their phone and keep an eye on their personal email. All without compromising the IT policy of the company. No mail is downloaded onto the machine and no viruses can transfer across from the BlackBerry to the work computer.
All about Productivity
We usually leave our phone on the desk whilst we work on the computer. Our brain is automatically trained that as soon as the phone vibrates alerting us to a new message, we instinctively stop working and look at the device to see who the message is from. We then deal with that message and return to our work. This is highly distracting and yet we fear turning off all notification “in case” an important message or an important phone call comes through.
BlackBerry Blend takes away that anxiety and allows us to work without fear of missing anything.
As soon as a call comes in, Blend alerts you of the call complete with the Caller ID. As soon as a notification comes from a calendar, BBM, Instant Messages, Email, SMS etc. Blend shows that message on the bottom corner of the screen. You can either action that message or continue to work – all without lifting a finger from the keyboard.
Beyond just mail, what does Blend do ?
According to BlackBerry, the following can be done via the BlackBerry Blend software:
- Never Miss a BBM™ or Text Message: BlackBerry Blend brings all your BBM and text messages from your BlackBerry smartphone to an integrated messaging hub now available on your computer and tablet.
- Use Your Smartphone as a Mobile Network Hub: Gain secure access to work email, calendars and important files on any device connected to BlackBerry Blend.
- Transfer Files Across Devices: Save files from your computer to your BlackBerry smartphone so they are accessible on any device connected to BlackBerry Blend.
- BlackBerry Security, Across Your Devices: Powered by the BlackBerry device through the BlackBerry network, this seamless experience is also secure. And IT Administrators can rest easy, as they have the ability to set BlackBerry Blend parameters for users that match their security guidelines.
- Unified Calendar Management: BlackBerry Blend merges all of your work meetings, personal appointments and events into one view.
- Connect Anywhere, Anytime: BlackBerry Blend can connect wirelessly via Wi-Fi or cellular connection, or wired through the USB port on your PC. Once connected, use your BlackBerry® ID on your computer and tablet to connect to BlackBerry Blend.
So in summary:
BlackBerry Blend is the secret-sauce that underpins BlackBerry’s Enterprise and is the solution for the Bring Your Own Device trend. IT managers can keep control of the corporate info without heavily restricting (and frustrating) the corporate user.
This is version one of the BlackBerry Blend and I am sure in new versions we will see even more functionality.