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BITS & BYTES / SURIT DOSS   |   Published 16.07.12, 12:00 AM

Even though Research in Motion (RIM) virtually invented mobile email with its first BlackBerry devices more than a decade ago, its market share has gone down drastically as consumers have flocked to Apple’s iPhone and devices based on Google’s Android system. This is because the smartphone can do much more than email. However the email system of BlackBerry is still the most efficient and fast.

Sometime or another you must have got this message on your iPhone or Android phone, “Cannot get mail as the connection to the server failed”. You will never get this on a BlackBerry. The reason being the BlackBerry is a server-to-server enterprise email tool and has its own network whereas Android and iPhone are mobile computers with software that checks email.

The BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) sits between the mobile device and the mail server. It stores the settings of its mobile device only and talks to the BlackBerry when there is something that it needs. It therefore uses the phone and its battery only when it is necessary. Android and iOS devices directly check for emails by constantly asking, “is there any new mail?” or even try to maintain a connection with the email server constantly. This uses up the battery and is neither as quick nor as reliable.

Despite this, the reason smartphones have become such a threat to the BlackBerry is because these phones are being built more and more to overcome these difficulties. There are also third party apps that can make the smartphone’s emailing system more efficient. BlackBerry has a neat shortcut or common phrase tool that lets you insert variables like the current date or time or common phrases. For example, if you type “mypin” it automatically reveals your BlackBerry’s pin number.

You can get this on your iOS device too. Only you have to create your own shortcuts, which is a better experience because you can create what suits you. On iPhone, go to Settings>General>Keyboard>Shortcut. Press the plus sign to add a new shortcut. You will get Phrase and below it Shortcut. Create a shortcut that will automatically expand to the full phrase when you type in the shortcut. Then save it. Android doesn’t offer this as yet.

Android does not come with Auto Text. Even Swype, the most popular third party keyboard, does not have it. For this the most popular app is Auto Text Keyboard. Only remember that this will change the entire keyboard on your phone and not just add Auto Text if you install it.

Another popular feature of BlackBerry is its multi-coloured blinking LED, which lets you know of various things. Red means “new message”, green means “low battery” and blue means “Bluetooth”. You can duplicate this on Android by using various apps such as Blink, which displays a particular colour indicator for an SMS or phone call. To get an email alert, you can use a program that converts an email into an SMS notification.

On iPhone you can go to Settings>General>Accessibility>LED Flash for Alerts and turn it on. Keep your phone face down on your desk and the LED will flash once every time there is a new notification.

The BlackBerry can be customised to give you notification for certain emails. You can do this on your Android too. On the Android Gmail app, go to Settings, click on your email account and then click setup both Email Notifications and Labels to notify. This can set specific labels to trigger notifications.

At present you cannot get this on your iOS device. But iOS6 is introducing an Email VIP feature where you can put a star against specific people. When these people email you a notification will appear with the context of the email.

On the BlackBerry you can create a new email or SMS easily by simply pressing C. There are other shortcuts like this on the keyboard. Composing new emails and SMSes on the iPhone is not such a bother and takes less than two seconds. The Compose button is available on every email on display. On Android it can take a bit longer but you can try My Gesture Shortcut Launcher app to use a gesture to navigate straight to Compose.

Emailing on the BlackBerry may be faster, but the bigger screens and easier navigation on iOS and Android phones make you more productive.

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