Any time a new BlackBerry is set to be released, I’m all over it. I read every word posted about it and seek out as much information as I can. And nearly 100% of the time, I’m placing an order for it, and then eagerly awaiting its arrival at my door. This time was a bit different, though. A device that had a mix of Google’s Android (TM) and BlackBerry’s operating system that we all know and love was, to say the least, intriguing. And a far cry from the BlackBerry I’ve grown familiar with over the years. So, I did what all of us did, I looked for every piece of news, every opinion-be it positive or negative-and every editorial I could find. As the weeks and months progressed and more information started getting out, the tech geek in me slowly took over and the desire to get one in my hands and try it out grew stronger and stronger. Finally, November 6th rolled around, and I decided to go check one out.
I walked into the AT&T store shortly after it opened that day and noticed several people walking in behind me. I mention this only because the couple who walked in with me said nearly the same words to the reps surrounding us that I did, ‘I’m here to look at the new BlackBerry Priv.’ What I expected was a snort of derision, or a blank stare. Instead, what I (and they) got was, ‘We don’t have the display unit up yet, but you’re welcome to take a look.’ OK, that was different. Since the three of us were wanting to see it, they brought it out and left us alone. Why mention this couple? Well, the husband had a Passport which he proudly showed me. The wife, however, was a confirmed Android user who wanted the phone and had no plans to leave the store without one! Her exuberance, as I discovered a little while later, influenced my decision to buy, and the education I received from her was invaluable.
So, what happened? Well, I broke one of my personal rules: never buy a “locked” device. About an hour later, I left with one in my hand. I got home, and like a kid at Christmas, started playing with it. And that’s when the dark path revealed itself. The more I dug in, the more I realized I was being watched. And if it weren’t for BlackBerry’s DTEK app (I cannot thank them enough for coming up with this!!) , I wouldn’t have known the depth of the tracking. So instead of really getting to dig into my new device, I spent my time trying to lock down my privacy. I turned off what I could, and disabled much more as there are some apps that I cannot remove, no matter how hard I try.
It’s nearly two weeks now since I’ve had the device. I’ve done a lot of work trying to keep the privacy that I’ve relied on from BlackBerry. I’ve locked down as much as I can, and continue to seek out ways to remove or disable some of the permissions that make me uncomfortable. Sometimes I’m successful, sometimes not. DTEK is my best friend and reliable assistant. I wish it could and would do more, and I’m sure enhancements will come to us.
I really miss my Passport. I’m still not sure if I made the right decision FOR ME. But, for the first try, I think BlackBerry did some great things. And I’m grateful to still have a hub, BBM, that fabulous keyboard (now in two flavors, virtual and physical), my calendar, Notes, Tasks, and everything else I love about BlackBerry. But now, there’s an Android on my back. And it feels a little uncomfortable.
So where does this leave me? Well, as I write this, I am waiting for my case to arrive. For the sake of domestic harmony, I will keep using it, at least for a while. I want to give it a fair shake and keep trying to make it my own.