BlackBerry CopyBook

Oh no…a Blackberry iPad, another gadget to want until it actually comes out and then you realise how average it is. This thing is not appearing until 2011 by which time its competitors, who already have tablets out, will have probably issued revised and improved versions of the existing tablets. They are saying that it will offer all the advantages of the BlackBerry business stuff but have called it the PlayBook. I wonder if you will need to take out one of those restrictive BlackBerry BIS/BES contracts in order to be able to use the email as you do on their smartphones. You can get and use an iPad, all the functions, without a phone contract and if this thing is going to compete then it needs to offer the same.

Not unsurprisingly, the BB sites are beside themselves with joy, probably more surprised than anything at the thought of RIM finally bringing out a nice looking device with a screen, at last, bigger than Keira Knightley’s boobs. All the bloggers (BB fanboys), gasp, seem to love it. Shaun at pda247, a well renowned BB fanboy, is getting himself worked up into a frightful state too stating that it “does look very good”. That could turn out to be the problem, it might look very good but what will it be like to use I wonder? The Pre looked very good for a while until it came to launch date and remember how they wouldn’t let anyone touch one until then, a bit like the PlayBook scenario yesterday when it was locked behind glass.

Pricing will be interesting as I’ll wager the next gen iPad will be cheaper or at least have better specs for the same price and they had better lose that silly BB data contract malarkay. Thing is, if you don’t have a BIS/BES contract how will you get your email as I doubt you could access it with just wifi? RIM are also going to have to get an awful lot of the good games people onboard if they wish to compete in the “PlayBook” sector, existing BB’s are not exactly renowned for the depth or breadth of quality gaming titles for their smartphones but of course a few golden dollars issued here and there may change all that. Can you see a whole lot of Android or iPad owners, already well immersed in their respective eco-systems, suddenly wanting to shift to a new platform, with a limited amount of 3rd party software, once it launches? Tough one that for RIM to break into methinks although of course there are plenty of BB users out there who may take a shine to it. Mind you, existing BB users haven’t exactly flocked to RIM’s other current big touchscreen equipped phone, the Storm, have they?

I’m not trying to diss this thing before it comes out, if I wasn’t already entrenched in the Apple/Mac/iPhone thing I’d be quite interested in this thing but I am and that effectively rules it out. I’ve already spent pots on software for the latter and another thing causes concern, how well or not the PlayBook would be able to access all my iTunes stuff out of the box. I suspect not well at all. Still, it could turn out to be amazing and if so, great.

What Do Top Paid Apps Say About the Smartphone Platform?

What Do Top Paid Apps Say About the Smartphone Platform? | BlackBerry Cool.

This guy from BBCool just posts more and more pap/weirdness with each passing week and this week’s tasty morsel is a breakdown of the best selling apps on BlackBerry, Android and the iPhone. Astonishingly, he manages to wangle the figures to try and make it look like the BlackBerry…which unquestionably has the poorest selection of 3rd party software out of the three listed…is the most sophisticated when it comes to buying paid apps because 50% of the top 10 paid App World are posh “utilities”. Not only that but the iPhone…..

“doesn’t have a single top paid app that aims to give the user any tangible value”

….the inference being that most things on the iPhone is fluff and conveniently forgetting that utilitiy apps are big sellers for BlackBerry because the underlying OS is lacking in some fairly basic stuff. I’ll bet he’d find that if you went down to say the apps that were ranked 30 -50 on the Apple iTunes store, he’d find some very decent non-gaming stuff that is still outselling considerably stuff from the top 10 BlackBerry apps.

And he ends up with this……

In the end, I’m going to go to the smartphone that has developers making apps that save me time and money. A brief look at the above smartphones tells me BlackBerry leads in this respect, with Android in close second. Apple have yet to convince me that they can create real value for their users, and take advantage of what modern smartphones are capable of providing.

Rant time.

I was looking around various sites this week as per usual and I don’t know why this is but you go onto the Android sites and they are slagging off the iPhone, you go onto a BlackBerry site and they are slagging off the iPhone, you go onto PreCentral and the people posting comments can be hostile about the iPhone too. They all seem to feel the need to defend themselves, bump up their own collective egos….”aren’t we all great for using Android oh yeah”. I’m actually just about had enough of it, the childish animosity being speared towards the iPhone and have dumped some sites from my RSS application on the HTC Legend as I just sort of dreaded opening up some feeds and having to read the same old pish from some psychotic 27 year old from Titsville, Texas or wherever it is. In fact, I’m just about wholeheartedly fed up with single platform sites and have moved recently to sites that instead cover multiple platforms like the revised 4winmobile, TracyandMatt, jkontherun and good old PDA247.

Yet, if you go onto a decent Mac site or iPhone site they don’t spent half their time making childish comments about other phones on other platforms., they just get on with enjoying their devices.

A daftie…and other things…like a Bad Kitty

I thought this post was pretty silly. Not so much silly actually but just plain stoooopid and as a man who has posted plenty of stooopid posts himself, I should jolly well know. I’ve just plucked out a few…

  • Advertising Service iAd: This will be a mobile advertising service that sounds a lot like the advertising API’s already announced by RIM. These were supposed to be launched right around now, but at least we know they’re coming.
  • Global Inbox: Oh right, it’s a pain to manage several email accounts on an iPhone. That must be really annoying.
  • An Improved UI: I have a new improved UI regularly; it’s called a theme.

Well, most would say there’s slightly more to having a great UI than just having a myriad of horrendous “themes” available. You only have to look at any online BB store to see how their cheap and cheerful themes clog up the app listings at the expense of decent software. As for “advertising service iAd”, is her seriously suggesting this is something that people are actually begging for? The whole post is rather pitiful and smacks of desperation as the RIM OS starts to look even more dated and unappealing following Apple’s announcement of the proposed improvements to OS4.

Okay, today I purchased another two apps for my Pre. Yak and BadKitty, both Twitter apps. Yak is quite plain but has the features I need and it has the navigation bar at the bottom that avoids the need to dig into preferences (unlike Tweed) to view direct messages. It also offers notifications but that is a feature I can do without especially as my Pre battery life is still appalling. I’d love to tell you how good Bad Kitty is but unfortunately it won’t even let me log into my twitter account and thus I cannot actually use it. For some reason it skips the sign in page…I’ve emailed the developer but they haven’t bothered to reply yet.

I hate to bang on about this but here goes, web OS is stunning and to do it justice I need to get my hands on a Pixi form factor. The apps I have bought or got for nothing are elegant, simple and easy to use and they have that uniformity of presentation and navigation that makes for an experience that feels unified, in sync and iPhone like.

Talking of unresponsive developers…Twidroid has not worked on my HTC Legend as I get connection errors. It downloads now and again and then the next time won’t. I entered into a conversation with the developers via email and their suggestions smacked of not listening to the info I was giving them and not really giving a stuff. So I moved to Touiteur and it works just fine, has a lovely interface and does all I need.

The User Interface | PDA-247

The User Interface | PDA-247.

Oh dear, I really don’t know why young Shaun continues to use an iPhone as he doesn’t seem to get on with it in any respect apart from games. He has his near bi-monthly rant about the iPhone Calendar application and of course it is nowhere near as good as the living wonder-ment that is the BlackBerry Calendar. It’s just a pity the rest of RIM’s “finest” is so pap in comparison to most of the best of the rest. I’m not sure I agree with the rather pretentious twaddle that accompanies the post either…..or perhaps it is because I am too thick to understand it.

“The interface that really matters is the map your mind creates to let you find what you need quickly on your phone”

Errrrr…right.

Worryingly, he is going to write a follow up article about the Memo app too on both platforms and will no doubt demonstrate how he can add a memo with pictures, a live video stream, link it to thirteen contacts in his Blackberry phone book  without having to actually open the darn app in the first place just by looking at the Bold 9700 and via the medium of mind control. Of course, entering a new Memo into my Bold 9700 is very simple, there’s no doubt about that but the problem lies with the ability to do anything else in the Notes app apart from just add a plain text note and trying to find a decent 3rd party software application in the notes/memo/List making sector for BlackBerry is likely to prove frustrating. In comparison, there is an abundance of very decent and very cheap comparable software for the iPhone/iPod Touch that adds functionality. Personally, I use NoteMaster by Appigio. It might take one step more than BlackBerry power-users, who are obviously so busy with their super hectic lifestyles that saving a few seconds here and there during the day is of such paramount importance that it makes them tolerate sub-standard software, would like but hey, at the end of the day I like it and it makes the RIM memo app look like what it is….an app designed about 10 years ago.

I go through phases of smartphone useage. Sometimes I think I have to have the latest and greatest device because only that latent power will suffice for a modern day multi-tasking power warrior like me whereas in actuality I just like the way my photos look on that hi-res OLED screen. Other times I realise I can get by with lower-specced phones because my smartphone useage is fairly standard and to be frank, 98% of phones made in the last 3 years can handle what I do with the greatest of ease. I hope however that I never get to the stage where a pre-requisite of any new device is how quickly I can add a Calendar entry as that would indicate either my work is starting to take over my personal life or less worryingly, my memory is starting to go. How do folk need to record so much stuff in a Calendar, I don’t get it? I have at most 2/3 entries per day as that is all that tends to happen in my daily life. I don’t know, perhaps they are entering stuff like …7am: have a cup of coffee, 1pm: have lunch…I live in perpetual fear of my life becoming so overrun with  work related stuff that I need to record it for fear of forgetting it.

At the moment I like the Treo Pro but I know that in 2 weeks time I will deem it to be unworthy, for some spurious and ultimately made-up reason, of not being worthy of any further use. This is likely to coincide with the launch of the HTC Legend…….a device that I know will end up annoying me within a month or so but damn it, it just looks so good.

Bold 9700 and 8520 Curve

The classic dilemna. The Bold 9700 is nearly £200 more expensive than the cheap and cheerful 8520 but has an inferior keyboard. Some however find the Bold keyboard to be superior so it could just be me. I actually prefer the look and feel of the less blingy all-black 8520, there’s something basic but satisfying about its appearance over the Bold and I find the keyboard much easier to use and more accurate. One thing that is better on the Bold are the menu keys either side of the trackpad, those on the 8520 have little feel to them and I am often pressing them with no outcome whereas on the Bold they are very clicky and nicely defined.

However the Bold has a bigger screen with a higher resolution which makes stuff like viewing pics and text a nicer experience, unsurprisingly. It also has a higher specced camera with a useful and reasonably effective flash so if you take a whole load of camera snaps you’d be better off with the 9700. When you get used to a nice, hi res screen it is difficult to go back to something  not quite so hi-res in comparison. Mind you, the screen on the 8520 is still a cut above that on the Nokia E72 I had recently.

Text on the cheaper Curve can look a bit grainy, smaller text almost fades away in places and looks, quite literally, washed out. This is most apparent when hovering over app icons. You’ll also lose the faux leather battery cover which some may see as a blessing. Oddly I find the cheaper 8520 less creaky than the Bold, I also prefer the slightly squarer profile sported by the former over the slightly more curvier Bold. Hmmmm… strange that, the Curve feels less curvier than the Bold. Both feel speedy, I’m sure the Bold has more memory but it’s not so hugely noticeable between the two and the 8520 speeds along quite nicely.

In an ideal world I would take the keyboard and look and feel of the Curve 8520 and mesh it with the better specs of the Bold, for a price in between the two.. Perhaps there is a BB out there or about to be out there soon that will fit the bill. If not then the 8520 makes for a very affordable and useable way into the world of smartphones and at £200, unlocked is a bit of a good snip if you must have a BB.

Work BlackBerries

Our new work BlackBerries were delivered to the office at the end of last week. They are the 8520 model which is a stripped down version of the BB 9700, no chrome trim, smaller 2.0 megapixel camera, lower res screen, less memory (I imagine) but it has the better keyboard sported by the Curve 8900. They’ve not been set up yet properly by our IT guys so we are under strict instructions not to open the boxes until they come up in person to the office on Wednesday. A bit frustrating but I’m not that excited about the whole thing anyway.

They wouldn’t let me use my own SIM in it and continue to use my personal Gmail account alongside their exchange set up or perhaps it just couldn’t be done anyway, I don’t know. Either way, I’m now in the dreaded carrying 2 phones around camp and need to decide whether it will be the HTC Hero or the Pre with the 8520.

4 weeks with the BB Bold 9700 and a list of my “likes”

Probably time to do a likes and dislikes post with regard to the BlackBerry. To be honest, there is much to like and the dislikes mainly revolve around the hardware/form factor which obviously you know all about in advance so you can hardly start complaining, can you? The main dislike relates to the messaging application which seems to have been designed  for those in a hurry, in a hurry to get their email asap and in a hurry to reply to it. There’s really not much else you can do around it. For example, if you are a Gmail person then you can’t archive/star/label/file messages or do anything you can do with the native Gmail app on Android or the Pre email application. For that sort of tidying up work you’ll need to revert to desktop.

It’s like the BB is saying…boom boom here’s an email, read it and move on to the next one…why would you want to do anything more with it? For people, like myself, who lead a somewhat more leisurely lifestyle and don’t get constantly bombarded with mail that needs responding to then it can be a bit frustrating. I’d like to be able to use the Bold 9700 to organise my email so that I don’t constantly have to tidy things up later on in the day on the laptop but it’s not a huge deal and I knew all about it in advance so, there you go. I did try out the native Gmail app but wasn’t that impressed as I couldn’t label or archive messages either (I think) and I found it barely better than the native BB method. I prefer the way the HTC Hero Android phone handles it personally.

Like I mentioned previously, there is a lot of good things going on with the 9700 and here is a list of the things that endear it to me:

  • excellent battery life. I’ve rarely seen it below 50% even after 2/3 days of useage. It’s so reassuring to have a phone that even if the battery is sitting at say 40%, you can head out and not have to worry one jot about charging it until later in the day…and I mean “later” in the day.
  • the camera is okay dokay and it certainly helps having a flash. Perfectly adequate for some decent off the cuff snaps and it’s better than that on the Hero.
  • the optical d-pad thingy is great to use, you can fair zoom around and it’s accurate too.
  • it’s a low maintenance device, aside from the initial setting up and getting it running the way you like there’s not much you have to worry about. I’ve only had to pull the battery out once and that was following a 3rd party application installation that went awry.
  • signal strength is good
  • it’s a jolly good phone, voice calls are clear and crisp
  • I like the buttons at the top of the phone, especially the one to lock and unlock the screen and also like the dedicated camera launch button bottom right hand corner.
  • having a keyboard is not only good for bashing out texts and stuff but the BB utilises it in a very positive manner by adding loads, and I mean loads of shortcuts, the majority of which I am still discovering on a daily basis. It mimics the original Treo 650 and takes it to the next level. Thus, with the optical d-pad, it is phone that is easy and quick to use. Navigating around it is therefore a cinch.
  • As a mac user at home, I love the RIM desktop syncing software. It is so good to have access to an app that backs up your stuff and from which you can install applications which are two of the things I really missed when I had the Curve 8900, prior to the RIM software being available.
  • I’ve found some very good 3rd party software to cover off my basic needs such as BerryWeather, TweetGenius, the free Bloomberg finance application, SafeWallet and PodTrapper. There are other apps out there that could also do a job for me but I prefer to have their equivalents on my iPod Touch. Those of you, however, who are iPhoners may struggle to replicate full functionality.
  • the screen is super sharp and is good for viewing pictures and the odd video. It may be small but it’s perfectly formed. Having a device that is the classic Treo of old form factor with the bonus of a modern hi-res screen is great.

It’s all mostly very good but I am left with this odd feeling of a high competence level that is all a little soul-less, it’s all super-functional but a little uninvolving. I don’t even know what I mean when I say that to be honest, it’s just a gut feeling I get from it.