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BlackBerry's older smartphones are getting their first big update in a long time

BlackBerry's older smartphones are getting their first big update in a long time


The Amazon Appstore now comes preinstalled

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After first bringing new features to its latest smartphones, the Passport and Classic, BlackBerry is now extending those improvements to other devices in its BlackBerry 10 lineup. The company has announced that a software update — version 10.3.1 — will soon be released for products including the BlackBerry Z10, Z30, and Q10. (It also contains bug fixes for those newer phones.) The full list of hardware getting the new software can be found here. Among the changes, BlackBerry 10.3.1 adds Amazon's Appstore as a preinstalled app. If they so desire, users can download and install Android applications and games. Running Android software on BlackBerry devices isn't the best experience; it's really pretty bad. But the store at least serves as a last-ditch option for users desperate for a wider app selection. BlackBerry Blend, which provides access to your BBM messages, texts, and emails on a tablet or PC on the same Wi-Fi network as your phone, is also included in the software package.

For its QWERTY devices, BlackBerry is bringing over the extensive list of keyboard shortcuts that debuted on the Classic. 10.3.1 also brings the company's virtual assistant — BlackBerry's answer for Siri, Google Now, and Cortana — to prior BlackBerry 10 devices. The assistant lets you add reminders, compose emails, and set calendar appointments using only your voice. Other improvements include optimizations to BlackBerry Hub, BlackBerry Calendar, and BlackBerry 10's camera software. The update is rolling out beginning today, but exact timing of availability comes down to carrier testing and approval.