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Launched with Android 5.1 last year, the Blackberry Priv was one of the most hotly anticipated devices on the market. The device performed quite well in our review, but a lack of Marshmallow in an Android 6.0 world lost it points. Blackberry is about to address that deficit, by offering the first beta program of the Android OS in BlackBerry Beta Zone.

The Android OS beta program is of course a test of Marshmallow, with Blackberry signing up users to test the software out. But..there are some caveats, it’s not open to everyone, at least not at first. The Beta program is initially being offered to PRIV owners who purchased their device from ShopBlackBerry, Amazon or Carphone Warehouse. People who purchased the phone elsewhere – like at Optus – will be able to join the program later.

The Beta will last for 4-8 weeks, starting in the second week of April (next week) and you’ll have to enable background diagnostic teting so the engineers at Blackberry can collect data, and watch what’s going on.

Back to the update, the Marshmallow update for the PRIV includes all the fantastic features that Google announced in Android 6.0, including:

  • Now On Tap, which identifies keywords in your communications, apps and searches and automatically adds cards with relevant information, such as directions to a restaurant mentioned in your friend’s dinner invitation.
  • Better battery life with Doze, which puts your PRIV into a sleep state when you haven’t used or moved it in a while, and App Standby, which limits the impact of rarely used apps on your battery.
  • Streamlined settings allow you to manage all of an app’s settings in one place.
  • Auto backup for apps, which lets you seamlessly back up your apps and app data, and system settings backup, which allows you to back up things like sync, do not disturb and accessibility settings, so you can get right back where you were if you need to restore.

The Blackberry Priv is of course powered by Android but takes pride in their lineage of secure devices and software. Blackberry added their proprietary DTEK software onto Android to further secure their device. Blackberry has also been on top of the monthly Android security updates and if you join the Beta program you’ll get even more. Blackberry says the Beta software update ‘may include security updates on the bleeding edge – even before they are released in our monthly security patches’.

If you purchased a Blackberry Priv and you’d like to participate in the Marshmallow Beta program you can head over to the Blackberry Beta Zone and enter your details to see if you’re accepted.

Source: Blackberry Beta ZoneBlackberry Blog.