UPDATE - Shortly after we published this article, BlackBerry published their own article addressing the matter. In short, there is more updates coming to BlackBerry Bridge for BlackBerry 10 soon. You can read the full details via their post on the BlackBerry Blog.
For BlackBerry owners who are also BlackBerry PlayBook owners, one great combining feature was the option to use BlackBerry Bridge. Since it was released, BlackBerry Bridge has grown to be a really useful application that allows BBM, email, SMS, browsing and even shared file browsing between BlackBerry smartphones and BlackBerry tablets. With the release of BlackBerry 10 and ultimately the BlackBerry Z10, I can't help but feel a little robbed by its current implementation as it's severely lacking and feels quite a bit dumbed down -- and just downright not as useful now.
Yes, I know that's a pretty bold statement and, realistically, I have no idea what BlackBerry has in store further on down the road for BlackBerry Bridge on BlackBerry 10. With that in mind though, I can only draw conclusions from what I'm presented with today and right now many others have noticed these changes that are not for the better.
To highlight the differences, you only need look at the options BlackBerry OS has vs. BlackBerry 10 when using BlackBerry Bridge. As shown above, you get a whole folder full of Bridge applications to utilize on BlackBerry OS and below I've laid out what they all mean:
- BBM - Communicate virtually instantly with your BlackBerry Messenger contacts. It's everything you love about chatting with BBM, on your tablet.
- Messages - Take advantage of the reading pane and larger screen on your tablet to work through your smartphone's inbox more quickly. Attach files from your tablet or smartphone, or save attachments to your smartphone for later use. Open the File Manager app on your tablet to access your saved files.
- Calendar - Keep on top of your schedule at a glance with Day and Month views or a convenient split-screen view.
- Contacts - Connect with the people in your network through the Contacts app. Quickly jump to a contact to send an email, schedule a meeting, or start a BBM chat.
- Tasks - Have a growing to-do list? Use the Tasks app to help you stay focused on important actions.
- Memos - Instead of jotting notes on scraps of paper that can be easily misplaced, use memos to keep your information organized and easy to find.
- Bridge Browser - Browse the Internet using your smartphone’s connection to the Internet. If your administrator allows corporate intranet browsing, you can also browse your organization's intranet.
With BlackBerry 10 most of what's shown above is no longer available or has been removed entirely. What remains is really cut down to the basics of what was previously offered, and that's a bit disturbing considering what was there was arguably one of the things that made the BlackBerry and BlackBerry PlayBook combo great.
So what do you get included with BlackBerry Bridge on BlackBerry 10? Honestly, not a whole lot -- and that's part of the problem. On BlackBerry 10, BlackBerry Bridge is reduced to the basic functions and nothing more:
- Internet Access - Use your smartphone's wireless connection with your tablet if a Wi-Fi connection isn't available for your PlayBook applications.
- Files - View files saved on your smartphone from your tablet using the File Manager app.
- Remote Control - Use your smartphone as a wireless mouse and keyboard for your tablet.
- Bridge Browser for corporate browsing - If your smartphone is associated with a work account, use this app on your tablet to access your companies intranet.
That's a fair bit of functionality removed and right now, there is no full on explanation as to why it was removed or if any of it will eventually return. The information just isn't there to know where BlackBerry is going to take BlackBerry Bridge.
As Kevin mentioned in his 'How I'd like to see BlackBerry 10 come to the BlackBerry PlayBook' article, there is no clear vision given as to what BlackBerry 10 will actually look like on the PlayBook so we'll just have to wait and see if any of those functions come back.
In the meantime, If you're a PlayBook owner looking to grab a BlackBerry Z10 I don't think this lack of BlackBerry Bridge functionality is a show stopper by any means. I do believe however; that you should be aware of the limits that are now in place.
Hopefully, BlackBerry is looking into bringing them back or creating new compelling functions that make use of BlackBerry Bridge because there is certainly room to make it better.