BlackBerry Announces Android Marshmallow Open Beta For Flagship Priv

Time are tough for BlackBerry, as they've been for an uncomfortably long stretch now, but the Canadian handset maker isn't throwing in the towel. BlackBerry continues to have high hopes that supporting Android will reinvigorate the firm, and taking a step in that direction, it's making available a custom Android 6.0 Marshmallow build in beta form to Priv owners.

When this whole Android initiative kicked off, BlackBerry introduced its Priv handset with a security-focused version of Android 5.1 Lollipop. Right away customers began asking when BlackBerry would update the Priv to Marshmallow, and the questions and appeals to do so "have only gotten stronger" since then, BlackBerry says.

Blackberry Priv

Here we are a little over five months after the Priv went up for pre-order and BlackBerry's already setting into motion the upgrade to Marshmallow. It might not be enough to turn around the company's fortunes, but give BlackBerry credit here—according to Google's data, only 2.3 percent of Android devices are running Marshmallow.

The beta release that BlackBerry's offering brings the same goodies found in a stock Marshmallow release, things like streamlined settings and autobackup for apps, but it might also contain security updates that BlackBerry says are "on the bleeding edge." What BlackBerry means by that is some security updates may arrive on Priv handsets running Marshmallow before they're doled out to everyone else in its monthly security patches.

Nevertheless, this is still beta software. As such, BlackBerry has a team in place to investigate any bugs that users report, along with diagnostic data that's submitted (anyone wishing to enter the program must agree to enable background diagnostic reporting).

The first wave of beta testers will Priv owners who purchased their handset from ShopBlackBerry, Amazon, or Carphone Warehouse. Other device owners can apply for testing at a later date.