I woke up yesterday morning to a pleasant surprise from Verizon Wireless: a software update for my first-generation BlackBerry Storm. As has been widely reported, Research In Motion’s (RIM) first attempt at a touchscreen device has not been without its share of problems, so every software update is met with excitement from Storm users. This latest update, which moves the OS from version 4.7 to 5.0 and greatly improves the device’s performance, is no exception.
The update itself took about 30 minutes, including an unnerving ten-minute wait as the phone restarted after restoring my applications. During the ten-minute delay, while I convinced myself not to pull the battery, the first improvement was demonstrated. Gone is the white screen with blue progress bar previously displayed during boot-up. In its place is a black screen with a BlackBerry logo at its center and a silver progress bar along the bottom. This screen is displayed almost immediately after the device is powered up, providing a perpetual update of the device’s boot status, rather than displaying only towards the end of the process as had been the case with the previous format. Though not a major improvement, the new progress screen provides a more-polished look to a mundane aspect of technology. Numerous other minor changes to the interface further improve the device’s performance.
After my Storm was completely restored, the benefits of upgrading to OS 5 were apparent. First, RIM changed the button style, reducing the 3D visual effect and changing the button color to charcoal gray. Together, these changes significantly increase the device’s responsiveness both when displaying buttons and making selections. A bouncing effect has also been added to the Storm’s scrolling action such that when trying to scroll past the end of a list, a blank area is displayed before the list snaps back into position. This improvement makes it apparent that, rather than the device having frozen during scrolling, the start or end of a list has been reached. Most significant of the visual improvements, however, must be the addition of space between menu options. The increased blank space makes it much easier to select menu options without choosing the wrong item. Together, these three enhancements not only improve the aesthetic of the Storm’s interface, but also contribute to the device’s increased speed.
As I continue to explore my newly-upgraded Storm, I will undoubtedly discover innumerable improvements to the device beyond the visual enhancements I’ve noted already, but the speed and performance increases are reason enough for any Storm owner to install the OS 5 upgrade.