The Priv could well be BlackBerry’s final roll of the hardware dice. It combines high-end smartphone hardware with the popular Android OS and a slide-out physical keyboard, but it will also come with BlackBerry’s legendary assurances of security.
BlackBerry is having to explain how that latter point will work out, considering Android is renowned for being open and, shall we say, a little less-than-water-tight.
In a blog post titled “Managing Android Security Patching for PRIV,” BlackBerry has confirmed that it will be issuing monthly security updates for the Priv.
Every month, Google hands manufacturers a security bulletin containing all of the latest Android vulnerabilities that have been discovered. A month later, Google exposes these to the public domain, placing the onus on manufacturers to update their software as as quick as possible.
“BlackBerry will release these monthly updates to users that have purchased PRIV through shopblackberry.com and to PRIV resellers (carriers and other authorised dealers) that have agreed to participate in our regular monthly update program and facilitate rapid approval of our monthly updates for over-the-air (OTA) to subscribers,” says BlackBerry.
In many cases, this still appears to be conditional on mobile network approval and cooperation, so not all Privs are guaranteed to benefit from these regular updates. It’s the reason HTC America president Jason Mackenzie last month called similar monthly update promises from Samsung “unrealistic.”
BlackBerry is being a little more forceful when it comes to critical Android vulnerabilities, however. In the event of such an exploit coming to light, the company will push a targeted ‘hotfix’ aimed specifically at closing it, without waiting for the next monthly update.
“While BlackBerry will work with its go-to-market partners on approval and delivery of hotfixes,” the company says, “BlackBerry has the ability to directly patch all PRIV variants and will do so when necessary to protect users and enterprises.”
All very noble, but it’ll be interesting to see how that last point goes down with the network operators.
The BlackBerry Priv will begin its global rollout from November 6.