BlackBerry Dev Alpha B
This phone came to us from Paul Gee, he supplied us with the following information about how he obtained the Back in 2011 I started work for a voice recording company, who developed and supplied voice recorders to the financial service sector.
In the wake of various banking scandals, banks were desperate to record the mobile calls of their trading staff due to incoming legislation. They already had solutions in place for the desk and VOIP phones but mobiles were more problematic.
Most of the banking sector used BlackBerry phones and I was given 4 months to design and implement a Java app that recorded mobile calls to the existing desk/VOIP recorders installed at the banks.
The recording app worked by intercepting incoming and outgoing calls, putting the call on hold, then dialing up a voice recorder and setting up a three way call between the mobile phone, the other caller and the voice recorder. The voice recorder would then be able to record both sides of the telephone conversation.
However this mechanism meant that there was a 5-7 second delay after a call was made or received a call, whilst the mobile recording app setup the three way call and then the call could continue. Users tolerated this but often complained about the delay, with people speaking before the call recording had started and not realizing they were on hold.
This three way call recording was the first generation solution but the hunt was on for the next step. I started investigating on device recording where the incoming and outgoing call audio would recorded by the phone and then transferred to the site based voice recorder in the background.
Initial version of the 2nd generation call recording app used Android phones as the Android OS provided call audio recording APIs but relied on the phone manufacturer implementing the call audio recording at a low level. We soon discovered that cheap Android phones often supported call recording but premium manufacturers like Samsung didn’t fully support it.
The BlackBerry OS up to version 7 didn’t support any kind of call audio recording on the device, however RIM had announced their new phone platform would run a new operating system, BlackBerry 10.
As a BlackBerry developer I was able to attend BlackBerry Jam World Tour on the 23rd October 2012, which allowed BlackBerry to reach out to developers in preparation for the release of their next generation phone. At the conference, developers could register and were handed a Dev Alpha phone as they left.
The Dev Alpha phone gave the developer early access to the new platform. RIM emphasized that this is not final hardware or the OS but wanted to have apps ready to run on this new smartphone platform at launch.
BlackBerry 10 didn’t have on call audio recording in the OS but premium partners could request features be added to the OS with an associated business case. I worked with the voice recording company and we submitted call audio recording feature request which RIM accepted.
The Dev Alpha phone was used to develop a prototype call recording app, written in C++ and Qt and was used extensively until production models became available.
This call audio recording feature was partially supported in the first production phones like the Z10 but didn’t support call recording when using a Bluetooth device and some devices didn’t provide the incoming call audio.